and Jesus understands!

IMG_1651I woke up this morning before dawn with the same  nagging heartache I struggled to sleep through last night. I gave up on trying to redeem any sleep and decided to make coffee. On only 4 hours of sleep, it needed to be strong.

The upside of being up this early is that the little ones are still sleeping, so I have uninterrupted prayer time. My prayer this morning was for peace and power over this present nagging heartache. Often I ask God to lead me to some scripture or devotional that is pertinent to what I am going through or will go through for the day. The following excerpt from John Eldredge’s book, Beautiful Outlaw, is the devotional He led me to read right after my prayer.

          Jesus enjoyed people. Not everyone does,you know. Many stories find him feasting with a rowdy crowd. He invited twelve men to spend day and night with him for three years. His longing for companionship intensifies to a crescendo in Gethsemane: “He took Peter and the two sons of Zebedee along with him…’Stay here and keep watch with me'”(Matt. 26:37-38).Don’t leave me alone, not now. How urgently human. Yes, Jesus knew loneliness. He’s not pretending. The one who created the human heart-whose own heart was so kind and so vast-this man felt deeply. He who created love and friendship longed for it.

This is no superhero, steeled and impervious to the human condition. Far from it.

And loneliness is something we all share with him. To be missed, or misunderstood. To be judge unfairly. To be wanted for what you can do, rather than who you are. to go on for years unappreciated, even unknown by those closest to you. Imagine living your entire life in a world where the people closest to you don’t get you. Oh…you do live in that world. And Jesus understands.- Beautiful Outlaw (by John Eldredge)

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And Jesus understands! Those last words reached out and wrapped me in the supernatural comforting arms of God’s Holy Spirit! Needless to say, I was overwhelmed with the love of Jesus and how He used this book excerpt to speak to me.

Through thankful tear-filled eyes I am seeing more clearly this morning of not only His great and inexplicable peace but of how He makes all things new…even me…and sometimes daily.

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I’m watching the morning sun shine through almost bare late Autumn trees…they are adorned with frozen dew now warmed into sparkling drops of water. I am thankful. I am comforted. And I am in peaceful awe.

 

 

 

 

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Needing Renewal?

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Yesterday, I fell under the grips of what felt like smoldering burn-out. I was locked down, imprisoned, unable to climb out of this mental funk that was fogging up my usually optimistic attitude.

The everyday struggle and the mundane had me feeling colorless and weary. My zip and zeal was at zero! So…I crocheted a few rows on a crochet project, read a couple of chapters in my current read, and turned into my warm bed for sleep. I was hoping that a good 6 or 7 hours of temporary unconsciousness would reset my melancholy mood.

me with coffee

This morning my craving for a hot cup of “get up and go” roused me to my Bunn coffee machine. While priming the glorious-mechanical-giver-of-dark- and-steamy-eye-opening-elixir for my waiting cup, the words “renew my strength” was running through my mind like a loudspeaker.  And no, it wasn’t the great brew resonating, although it is a really good coffee…it was the Holy Spirit beckoning me to God’s word.

Yes, Lord,” I answered while sipping that first glorious bit of coffee, “I do need my strength renewed.” So… while fueling my still-waking body with caffeine, I opened my bible to my favorite passages. Here’s what jumped out at me first:

28  Have you not known? Have you not heard?

The Lord is the everlasting God,

the Creator of the ends of the earth.

He does not faint or grow weary;

his understanding is unsearchable.

29  He gives power to the faint,

and to him who has no might he increases strength.

30  Even youths shall faint and be weary,

and young men shall fall exhausted;

31  but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength;

they shall mount up with wings like eagles;

they shall run and not be weary;

they shall walk and not faint. (Isaiah 40:28-31)

We all get weary. Sometimes the weariness isn’t physical; our minds are overloaded or our spirits are exhausted from life’s sorrows. We need wings. Only the Lord can provide this remedy from the heaviness we fall under. God lightens our loads. He helps us to soar above our troubles. This relaxing picture of me soaring effortlessly over what had bogged me down was renewing my mind already. Why is it that we forget to fly? We let ourselves get grounded in discouragements…we struggle until we feel stuck in a rut, imprisoned and resentful. Its only when we look to God for our strength that we find our “wings” to soar above our circumstances.

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The other verse that the Holy Spirit reminded me of was II Corinthians 4:16-18:

16 So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner

self is being renewed day by day. 17 For this light momentary affliction is

preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, 18 as we look

not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things

that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.

The earthly struggles and trials that we see daily can wear us down if we let it. But, thankfully, they are temporary; they’re mere passing afflictions not worthy of taking us over. We have so much more in store for us in eternity with God. This pours refreshing hope all over our mundane moments and extinguishes our smoldering bouts of burn-out!

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As you can see, I take a lot of pictures of beautiful skies. I love to look back on them to remind myself on the gray and dismal days that there were and still will be beautiful days. God’s word reminds me also that there is “better things to come” on days when I am dangling by the last thread on an already frayed rope.

My prayer for you today if you are experiencing that burned-out, discouraged, and weary feeling is that you will rise above it with the power of God’s love. Open the word, read, pray…embrace his promises. I pray that you find renewed strength in our loving Father and his ever present help. So, breathe…Go ahead, do it now- take a nice easy deep breath in and then slowly out… now repeat after me: do not lose heart… God is my strength!”  Now… let Him be the wind beneath your tired wings, and soar!

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the pages turn too quickly…

089I feel like the pages of my life are turning too quickly.
The days are melting into each other…bright busy mornings overflowing into exhausted evenings…each moment building into the next until they are but years behind me and only memories.

My heart is aching tonight for the precious time wasted on what doesn’t really matter and how we often don’t realize we are squandering those hours dutifully moving through our daily tasks and so many times missing the opportunity to pause…

to really revel and relish in this life we’re living…

how many beautiful “roses” have to wither and fade before we realize its winter?

093redskyHow many tenderly quiet crimson and golden sunsets will fade into darkness before we find that night has settled in?

Life is moving at a dizzying pace that spins my mind…

am I as powerless to its centrifugal force as I feel? Am I really?

He said to “be still” and know that He is God.IMG_7548TireSwingTree Why did he say “be still?”
Could it be because He knew how prone we are to being swept away and so helplessly caught up in the busy spinning of our own lives like voluntary victims of tilt-a-whirls?

I watch my young children sleeping...no longer are any of them babies.IMG_4035 My heart skips a beat, aches at the thought of how fast they’ve grown. I’ve taken my turn watching all seven of them breathing peacefully while they dream. They have grown faster than my heart can handle…

I wanna press the pause button.

My youngest is four years old now…still so very tiny for his age but insistent on being a “big boy.”


Some of my babies have w~r~i~g~g~l~e~d out of my arms and into adulthood…now living on their own. I’m proud, of course. But…still...those pages! Those pages have turned too quickly!

As I watch my four youngest sleep tonight… I’m wondering how to press the pause button on this fast forwarding speed of life.
I want to hold the sweet expressions, the kisses, giggles and adoration of all my children just a few more moments longer, imprint them on my heart forever.  I don’t want to miss the gentle fragrance of another”rose” or the 2010 06 28_6459flowersflaming reds of another sunset.

I want to capture each passing moment and hold it just a little tighter, to really notice the here and now… to be grateful, alive, to be still...because I know all too well how quickly those precious moments will melt into years of just memories.

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Spiritual warfare, motherhood, and the full armor…

We’ve all seen them- the blogs from fellow Christian moms and housewives promising us  the formula to a better life…how we can keep our homes sparkling clean and always ready for drop by company…how we can stay thin, fit, and youthful whilst being sweet, soft spoken and beautifully gracious and homeschooling our 15 children, training them to be perfectly polite, super talented, whilst we write an eBook about it all and still manage to keep our marriages thriving.

Well, this is isn’t going to be one of “those” blog posts. I read one once by an admired and respected Christian lady and instead of feeling inspired, I felt defeated. And that was after all I’d been through and accomplished even though my day started loud and tumultuous. Let’s just be raw and insanely honest, here, sisters…Motherhood is messy, painful, difficult, and yet, still worth it.  Motherhood will pull from you every ounce of what you can give and then some even to the point of wondering if you aren’t just running on empty but have totally begun to dissolve. Then we get up again in the morning, grateful to do it all over again…usually, anyways.

Motherhood is hard…sometimes even heartbreaking and painful. It can leave you asking at the end of the day- “where will the next ounce of strength come from?” It’ll leave you feeling that you are really not enough for all you are called upon to do..for all you are required to endure and all that you have to give up to put the needs of your children first.

The truth is- I really am NOT ENOUGH. All alone, I cannot and have never been,able to be what it is I need to be to raise my children the way God intends. It is only through His provisions that I can keep on keeping on even on my weariest days. Today was one of those days- I was weary- all the way down to my soul w-o-r-n down...to tears at one point.

7 Encouraging Bible Verses About God’s Strength

The only way I get through some of the issues that I have while raising my children is through the grace and mercy of God. I almost always start my day by reading the word, drinking a good strong cup of coffee sweetened just so, and praying for wisdom, peace and strength. These peaceful daily morning times are precious and so much needed to keep me going. I usually start my day with fresh hope and lots of positive energy.

Then…the kids get up.

I’d like to say that everything goes smoothly and we all sing and laugh while starting our daily routine.

But, I’d be lying…or just trying to sell you on some formula to a better life.

Don’t get me wrong, reading God’s word and conversing with the Creator of the Universe first thing in the morning is highly recommended and I certainly hope to inspire you to try it and see if you don’t miss those quiet times when they’re skipped for one reason or another. But, please hear this:

When you actively seek a closer relationship with God, your life will not magically become smooth sailing and fairy tales. As a matter of fact, it just might become more challenging. I am not saying this to discourage people from seeking after God more passionately. I’m only telling you to be prepared to “put on the full armor.”

 “Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might. 11Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil.12For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places.…”(Ephesians 6:10-11)

I never truly understood what that verse meant until I got some real living “under my belt.”  Now…I get it. Really, truly, understand it. And oh, how vital and essential it is as a mother to be prepared…to be fully armored against whatever you come up against.

Now before some of you start misunderstanding what I’m implying by thinking that I’m referring to our precious children as “little schemers of the devil or forces of darkness,” (although some children may actually have you believing they’ve got evil intentions on some days) …let me make this very clear- As mothers, we hold great influence in the lives of our children and ultimately the influence they will have on the world if we are raising them to be true followers of Christ and to love God with all their heart, all their soul, and all their might. Do you really think Satan and all his evil forces will just stand by and allow this to be a “walk in the park?” Not.2010 06 28_6469flowers

And then maybe none of you have ever been through this spiritual warfare I’m referring to or maybe you just don’t realize that’s what you’re experiencing. Or perhaps there just isn’t any real reason for Satan and all his evil forces to waste his time throwing darts at you because you pose no threat.

Let me rephrase: If the devil ain’t bugging you, perhaps you aren’t bugging him. He just doesn’t see you or yours as a threat. However, if you are actively raising up your little “arrows” as heirs to the Kingdom of God, you will see spiritual warfare whilst doing so. I promise. 

God has blessed me with some very wonderful and true Christian friends.Handpicked early spring flowers from a sweet friend

Here recently, God sent into my life this very special friend. She is one of those people who just glows with the influence of God’s Holy Spirit. The story on how she came to be my friend is unique and for another time, but let me just say this- when she walks into my door every week, I am reminded how much God loves me and sees me. She comes every week to help me but before she does we pray. She has been a source of great comfort as we compare stories of our journeys in mothering and how God has provided what we need. She holds my hands and prays for me, at times with tears of empathy.

She sent a text this morning- it said “praying for you.” I have to say, her prayers were definitely felt as the day was a particularly rough one as I had some hurdles to jump. I was able to get through the chaotic start and still have a very valuable and memorable, albeit, exhausting, day with my children. During lunch,(which was much more peaceful than the start of the day) I talked to my children about the attributes of God, how much He loves us and wants us to love one another and how to live as Christ did.

 ” Start children off on the way they should go, and even when they are old they will not turn from it.” (Proverbs 22:6)

I have truly seen God’s hand at work in all my years of mothering. I am daily reminded of how much I need Him in this very important task of raising children. As much as I love them all and would give my life for them, I know that He loves them even more, because God is the one who loves the best!

   ” Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. 8The one who does not love does not know God, for God is love. 9By this the love of God was manifested in us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world so that we might live through Him.…”(I John 4:7-8)

Some other verses about teaching our children about God-

  “Teach them to your children, talking about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.”(Duet. 11:19)- this verse is one of the foundations for why I home-school my children

 “But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work.” (II Timothy 3:14-17)

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I’m Having an Amazing Life!

I’ve done a lot of reflection last month into this new year. It’s a yearly ritual thing of mine to look over the past year and sort of evaluate the ups and downs…weigh in on the good and bad, mull over what could have been different, and consider what I want the new year to be.

Part of my process this time was to watch some old family videos. Funny how much we think we remember until we watch those precious moments unfold again on the t.v. screen!

I had all intentions of writing a blog detailing all the events of 2014, recounting how amazing they were and reflecting on how the good outweighed any of the bad. Because it truly did. I’m not going to say last year wasn’t difficult, it definitely had its gut-wrenching moments. But, oh…those times that God showed how amazing He can be! Now, they were something to be in awe of. 

I wish I had the energy and the time to sit here and just totally recap the whole year, but, I just don’t. All I can do is say, trust me, it was quite a ride, 2014!

So, here I was prepared to write about how amazing 2014 was and all I kept thinking tonight after watching videos from as far back as 18 years, is I have had an amazingly wonderful life in spite of the fact that my life has not been easy. I have seen some great loss and have had to live through some grief that many never do, but for every heart breaking trial, I have had many more times of joy and beautiful memories to cover anything that ever brought me tears. I can say with passionate certainty that my good times have far outnumbered any of the bad! 

Every year that passes, I learn more about myself and life in general. I try carry these bits of wisdom into the new year with intention of doing things better. I think we all do. For years now, I’d given up making traditional resolutions, but this year, I’m bringing my new year’s resolute list back into action. Oh, don’t worry, I’m  not gonna list my resolutions…in this blog post anyway!

One thing I learned from 2014 is to s-l-o-w down. I It may seem like life is coming at you fast with the start of the new semester just around the corner! But don't forget to slow down and take one day at a time #inspiration #ChapmanUactually found more time to truly enjoy life’s blessings! Having surgery to remove a mass from my neck helped teach me this pretty quickly. Of course, Sjogren’s syndrome fatigue demands I live differently nowadays anyway. So, whether, I’m feeling great or struggling I do my best to not get into overload mode.

I had so many pictures from last year that I was tempted to upload onto this blog post but I’m short on time. So, I’m just putting this one in…

Christmas Eve 2014

Christmas Eve 2014

I’m so often never in many of our family photos even over the holidays because I’m the one behind the camera. So, I cherish the ones that I get to be in. My son, Zane, took this one of me and my youngest. I love this picture–  the sweet expression on my baby’s face and his little arm around my neck. By the way, my 7 wonderful children are one of the reasons why I’m having an amazing life! 

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Missing Autumn

I had the worst case of “overwhelmed mom syndrome” today! Actually, I should say yesterday since its already tomorrow,  yet I’m still up and feeling kinda wiry thanks to caffeine and taking my prednisone at a late hour. Also, one of our children has a nasty stomach virus, so I’m on nurse duty tonight.

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taken while on our camping trip in October

 

There’s always so much to do here lately and so many unexpected things popping up. I’m getting that hamster in an endless spinning wheel feeling again! Sometimes I’ll daydream about how nice it would be to put everything and everyone on pause for a bit just so I could “catch up!” Where’s my reset button? I sure need one! I’ve got such a bad case of mental burnout that I’ve fantasized about a human version of hibernation. To top it all off the weather turned cold sooner than I would have liked and it didn’t seem that we got to enjoy much of a Fall season (although technically it’s still Fall).

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So, I thought I’d pay a bit of a tribute to our much-too-short Autumn by posting a few shots I took before Winter greedily stole the scene.

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taken with my Samsung Galaxy Mega

 

***sigh***   Meanwhile, as I  turn up the thermostat another notch, I’m plugging in my fuzziest and most inviting electric blanket and  looking forward to using some new art supplies  in order to better tolerate the chill of another winter.

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another decent cellphone picture (:

 

 

 

 

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needing a new name…

There won’t be any shiny photos or catchy posters on this blog post. As a matter of fact, I’m keeping it super short and simple tonight. 

For several reasons, actually…

For one, I’m sleepy. I’m just not the night- owl I used to be. I wish I were…my night-owl habits used to produce some great stuff while the rest of the household slept. 

But, thanks to Sjogren’s, I crave, or rather, need, more sleep in order to function normal. My new normal is still hard to get used to.

The other reasons are like this- I feel the need to change the name of my blog. I primarily started the blog to include my photography, but I’ve found that many times when I have something I need or want to write about, I can’t because I don’t have new photos to showcase or just don’t feel up to waiting on the sometimes painful slow upload speeds. So…I just decide not to write. And I miss writing.

Its time for a change. Its time for a new blog name and maybe even a new style. But, for the life of me, I just can’t think of one that’s catchy, covers a wide range of what I might write about, and that doesn’t sound too cliche’.

So….until I have more time for creative brainstorming and hit a good revelation, I’ll leave the name in tact…..it’ll have to wait until whenever because  I am now hearing the tearful wails of my adorable, yet sleep robbing, 4 year old who for some unknown reason has decided that he wants to sleep in our bed tonight. Actually, I don’t blame him –  we’ve got the most shamefully comfortable bed in the universe. Really. 

oh well…so much for that quality sleep I intended to get…

ADVENTURERAS: Sleeping with My Kids

yeah, yeah, I know I said there’d be no cute posters

 

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