inspiredness TM

Copyright 2013


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Multitudes on Mondays: Two Simple Words

Thank you.

I have vivid memories of my parents telling me, “remember to say ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ Noell.” To that I would usually roll my eyes…I know, I know.  My father was {and is} pretty insistent on the thank you part of the message. He made sure to give me that stern, disapproving look when I would forget to express my gratitude. And even now, I’ll catch him doing this with my kids, his grandchildren.

After my parent’s divorce when I was about 7 years old and after seeing strangers stare at my developmentally disabled brother anywhere we went…I stopped being thankful for many things and I started being bitter and angry. What was it that I did that made my parents split up? Why can’t I have a “normal” brother? Why did God make me chubby? Why, when other kids’ parents are picking them up from school do I have to open the car door to see my grandpa…every.single.time? I would begin wallowing in my own self-pity and wishing my life to be different. Sitting in my room with the door closed I would read and read and read…taking in all the good things of others’ lives {fictional others} and wishing them to be my own.

What good has all this ingratitude given me? A life full of anger, regret and misery. The depression has always been floating under the surface and when I had my children it roiled up with a vengeance. It manifested itself in rage and hate {mainly for myself and for my ever-so innocent babies}…and really, things that I would never want to experience again. By this time I had been a believer for a good 3 years…why wasn’t I immune? I was constantly looking for answers.

Did I not pray enough? How much therapy and medication do I need before I feel “better”?  Maybe if I read every book on the topic of depression I would find the answer. It never happened and if it did it was a very temporary solution to a debilitating problem. I was willing to try anything at this point.

Gratitude.

When we stop seeing reasons to give thanks, we stop thinking there are reasons to live.

~Ann Voskamp

Oh, how true this is!

I can see the look on my father’s face when I thank him…for the cup of coffee he just bought me, for the time spent alone with him by the river fishing {and not catching a darn thing}, for just sitting there in silence while we have breakfast. His face softens, his eyes begin to sparkle a bit. And all I said was…thank you.

If this is the reaction of my earthly father what is the reaction of my heavenly Father when I thank Him?

 …[A] new study suggests that helping teens learn to count their blessings can actually play an important role in positive mental health. As gratitude increases, so do life satisfaction, happiness, positive attitudes, hope and even academic performance.

~U.S. News

Give thanks! When I fail to see and recognize all the ways that the Lord has blessed me I fail to glorify Him and my life begins to lose meaning. I’m not saying the cure for debilitating depression is to simply say “thank you” but I know that when I say it and mean it the light starts to shine through the dark, luminous cloud of despair.

Dark can give birth to life, suffering can deliver grace, the ugly can be beautiful. God transfigures everything for His glory

~Ann Voskamp

What I am thanking the Lord for today….

#52 the energy to get through 48 hours with my kids, without my husband

#53 a little girl dressed as a furry animal

#54 those amazing sleeping babies

#55 a big brother loving on his littlest sister

#56 an amazing smile

#57 a refreshing and very yummy breakfast

#58 endless lengths of railroad track on my craft room floor

What are you thankful for?


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God of Wonders

Here in Colorado it is blazing hot, literally. Mountains, forests, homes are on fire. People are being forced out of their homes, memories are burning. I wake up with the smell of fire in my nose, the kids are coughing in their rooms. The street outside our house has a faint brown haze over it. And to think we aren’t even that close to the fires! What must those people who live at the base of the mountain feel like? Are their lungs burning? Kids ready for summer and running through the sprinklers stop, shade their eyes from the sun and watch as their surroundings are ablaze. It’s a scary time here in Colorado.

Rain drops have fallen only a few times in the last few weeks and most times they have evaporated before hitting the ground. Our grass is crunchy underfoot, dust under the swing set. It’s too hot to go outside, yet at our house it is too hot to stay inside as well. At lunch time it’s on average 90 degrees…inside, and about 100 degrees outside. About 10 years ago I would’ve packed up my things and headed to a cool library, bookshop or the pool at my former health club not returning to my house until after dark. These days, with 4 little kids I’m wracking my brain trying to figure out ways to keep them cool. I’m constantly worrying about whether they’re getting enough water, whether the littlest one is smothering in her bed during her nap. Images flood my head of walking into her room to find that her breath has left her hot little body. I can’t do this to my kids!

We have been spending a lot of time (and a lot of gas money!) in the car trying to stay cool. Driving and sitting, staying cool. We’ve been blessed by wonderful friends inviting us to their cool houses, acquaintances inviting us to their child’s birthday party at the local jumpy castle place. All the while my God-loving husband prays that someone takes mercy on us and invites us over while he is away at work for 48 hours at a time. His prayers are answered and that mom from the jumpy castle place walks up to me, gives me a card with her phone number and address and asks us to come over anytime! Praise God!

After all the driving, the heat, grouchy kids fighting from the minute they wake up I have no energy left in my brain or my body to do much. Yesterday, I resolved to keep all the kids down in our basement and stay home all day, even if it killed me! But something (God) told me to do otherwise and I called the mom from the jumpy castle place. Not wanting to burden her with taking care of my children at her house I packed up as much food as I could find and headed over to her place. She was amused at everything I brought…seems pretty normal to me! Then as I was changing the littlest one’s diaper on the floor of her family room she sat down and told me she had something for me.

A bit confused and taken aback I listened as she explained. She and her husband left the jumpy castle place after her only daughter’s 5th birthday…and they prayed for our family. They prayed that God’s will be done. She then handed me a gift card for $600 to Home Depot…for a swamp cooler! I looked at her, stunned, speechless and began bawling my eyes out! The minute I began to thank her she said, “Please don’t thank me, thank God…this is His will.”

Praise the Lord! He answers prayers according to His will. I have prayed many times for specific things only to be disappointed when my prayers weren’t answered accordingly. Those specific things weren’t in God’s will, however, and sometimes I later have learned why…and other times I am still wondering why. This is just one of many “wake up calls” that I have received from the Lord…He is listening, He does love me, He will take care of me and His will be done!

The mountains above the Colorado Air Force Academy on fire.

And to all those in Colorado Springs and elsewhere I am praying for you.


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An Inspiring Read

Gift #51

I have only known of Ann Voskamp for a few short months but I feel her impact on my life everyday.

I had never been to her amazing blog before, never heard of her book but happened across her blog link through a comment on an online article. Am I glad I clicked that link!

Her words flow from her heart so eloquently. She’s real, not ideal.

“…I wake to the discontent of life in my skin. I wake to self-hatred. To the wrestle to get it all done, the relentless anxiety that I am failing. Always, the failing. I yell at children, fester with bitterness, forget doctor appointments, lose library books, live selfishly, skip prayer, complain, go to bed too late, neglect cleaning the toilets. I live tired. Afraid. Anxious. Weary. Years, I feel it in the veins, the pulsing of ruptured hopes.” ~Ann Voskamp, One Thousand Gifts

So of course I had to read her book, One Thousand Gifts: A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are.

She had me in the first line…

“A glowing sun-orb fills an August sky the day this story begins, the day I am born, the day I begin to live.” ~Ann Voskamp, One Thousand Gifts

She had me crying the first chapter!

And by the end of the book I realize that, indeed, things miraculous and things mundane are beautiful gifts from God.

I don’t currently own the book {I borrowed it from a friend} but I will definitely be buying it so I can read it over and over!

Hence,

gift #51!


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Multitudes on Monday {March 5}

#51

Hearing my little sunshine hum along to a song in the car…the one that I listened to while pregnant with her

#52

Babes giggling while playing with their daddy

#53

Listening to Gracie roll play with her dolls

#54

A heating pad in bed warming me up when my husband cannot

#55

remnants of play, dolls well-loved

#56

sleeping in warm sunshine

#57

commotion in the house, kids laughing, fighting, playing…knowing one day it will be quiet

Your father’s blessings are greater
than the blessings of the ancient mountains,
than the bounty of the age-old hills.

~Genesis 49:26


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It Takes a Village…

to raise a child {~unknown source, African proverb}

We don’t often acknowledge this anymore in our culture. We are self-sufficient, too busy, too proud, too stubborn. Asking for help is seen as a sign of weakness.

Sometimes it takes a near-tragedy, a loss of some sort or just a “wake-up call” to prod us into realizing that we can’t do it by ourselves that there are people in our lives that loves us and are more than willing to lend a helping hand, deliver a meal, sit and talk, babysit our kids while we go out for a breather.

Tonight my “village” was a dear friend with three small kids of her own. She could have easily {and gently} pushed me out the door, it was her eldest daughter’s 4th birthday party after all and we had stayed well beyond the end of the party. Instead she welcomed me and my four babes with open arms, fed us, kids played, kids bathed {imagine five kiddos in a standard-size bathtub!} and sent us home tired, happy, bellies full, hearts full.

{Blessing #50}

Our youngest babes sharing


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Multitudes on Monday (February 27)

#47

Hearing someone’s smile when you can’t see it **.

The voice rises, exudes excitement and warmth. This sound makes me well up with joy, makes me want to smile back.

#48

A glass of cool, refreshing water. Quenches the thirst, washes the body of impurities.

20120228-190910.jpg#49

Making my own soap! The smell of lemon verbena, stirring the creamy goodness.

Lovely!

**The person I specifically have in mind is a woman named Lisa Grace Byrne of WellGroundedLife. She has a wealth of information & inspiration for moms and non-moms alike. Every time I watch one of her videos or listen to an interview she’s conducted I can’t help but smile! Her voice expresses her emotions, you can really tell when she’s smiling…a gift that she gives to others.


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Joy Dare (from February 15)

In continuing on with Ann Voskamp’s Joy Dare…counting 1000 gifts in 2012. She posts dares for everyday of the month…3 per day. Here is February’s.

a gift in losing something…

#33

Gracie held on tight to that mylar balloon, the whole way through the grocery store. She was patient while her siblings shed tears and screamed, and still she held on tight. The wind was blowing when we stepped outside, all five of us being blown by the gusts. Still she held on tight. We made it to the car, loaded ourselves in, buckled up. The minute she let go her heart floated out the door. My reaction time was way too slow, all I could do was watch as it taunted me and floated into the heavens. It’s with God now, I told her…wrong words! The tears began to roll down her face, devastated. In that instant I knew exactly how she felt, hopeless, sad, heart heavy…I’ve been there. All I could do was embrace her little body, give her my heart and wipe her salty tears. A gift.

a gift in finding something…

#34

The infamous “found” keys!! I had a mommy brain fart one afternoon while picking up Gracie from school. We were walking to the car, keys in hand, unlocked the car. Somewhere, somehow the keys had vanished! I honestly thought I was losing my mind (not the first time). I looked everywhere, scanned the parking lot multiple times, unloaded the whole car (and cleaned it!). It took me a couple months…one day while unloading the littlest one I happened to lift off the car seat cover and lo and behold….the keys!! This really shouldn’t have been cause for a breakdown those previous weeks but it was! God had a reason for this…to increase my trust in Him!

a gift in making something…

#35

A precious baby, only 17 weeks gestation, still enveloped in her mother’s womb left to be with the Lord. Her mother shed so many tears, tears dropping on her baby girl’s tiny fingers as she held her for the last time. Women that had known this mama (while only through an online support group of sorts) shed tears as well and out of those tears a beautiful quilt was born…a reminder to this mama of this precious angel…a gift to her and all those who touch that quilt.