To Become Like a Child

I was praying about what to write for today. There’s a list of things that I have on hold to share, but none of them seemed right for today. So in these times, I ask God for guidance. 

In the midst of these prayers, I heard the prayer of my 3-year-old son. 

“…Thank you for my toy, 1-2-3-7-9 toy. Thank you for napkin, thank you for tissue, thank you for baby food…”

I watched him, hands together under his chin, speaking ever so quietly, like a whisper for only God to hear, peeking out through eyes he was trying to close, looking around the dining room, finding things to be mentioned in his prayer. I almost lost it when I heard him say “thank you for my spoon.”

I watched my little boy and I tried to learn from that moment. It made my mama heart so proud to watch him WANT to pray and then make a huge thank you list of everything. As his mom and his Sunday School teacher, I often feel like I don’t set a good enough example, like I could always do more. And yet somehow, with the help of his dad and many other influences, he had learned from somewhere the values that I want him to learn. (We clearly have to work on counting, but that’s besides the point. ;))

But I learned something else. I listened to  him thank Jesus for every little thing that he saw around him — things that I so much take for granted. 

“And calling to him a child, he put him in the midst of them and said, “Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.”

‭‭Matthew‬ ‭18:2-3‬ ‭ESV‬‬

http://bible.com/59/mat.18.2-3.esv

Oh, to be like a child. To not feel ashamed or silly to pray “thank you for my spoon.” Rather, to see the beauty in the small things and realize the value in having them. 

There are so many things that I am blessed to have. Often, it’s easy to focus on what I don’t have. But if I list all the things that I do have, I would find it to be a very long list. 

I want to have that mindset. I want to be grateful for the things that often get overlooked, and to genuinely express my thankfulness. I want to look at what I have and know that it’s because my God is the God who provides.

It is work to practice this line of thinking, but I have a sneaking suspicion that it’ll make for a happier lifestyle. 

Yeah, I wanna be like this silly kid. 😁

Blessed Are Those…

“Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.”

‭‭Matthew‬ ‭5:4‬ ‭NIV‬‬

What an amazing promise this is. 

When Jesus gave the Sermon on the Mount, he specifically said that those who mourn are blessed. It took me years to understand WHY people who are in such distress are considered to be blessed. It feels like the exact opposite. It feels like when your world has suddenly crashed down, when part of your heart has been ripped out that you are anything but blessed. Often it feels like God has done something against you, or at the very least has overlooked you. But those who mourn will be comforted

The Message puts it this way:

““You’re blessed when you feel you’ve lost what is most dear to you. Only then can you be embraced by the One most dear to you.”

‭‭Matthew‬ ‭5:4‬ ‭MSG‬‬

…only then can you be embraced by the One most dear to you.

I often feel that the nighttime is the worst when grieving. You’re tired, and often not in the company of others. You’re alone with your thoughts and with your grief. When all you need is some rest, you can’t get any. When all you need is a warm hug, you feel nothing. 

And yet, for Christians who mourn, God is right there holding us. 

Sometimes, the pain goes too deep to even feel Him there, but He is. 

Even when we push Him away, He does not let go. 

Even when we fight Him, He still holds us. 

Even when we are angry with Him, He does not relent. 

And then, when our exhaustion has won over, when our energy is spent and  we are too tired to feel anything else, we collapse. But we are already held. 

We finally rest in the everlasting arms of Jesus. 

And it’s in those moments, those of comfort and rest, that we realize that we are blessed in spite of everything. That no matter what, Jesus has held us tight. We we may not have answers, our heart may not be whole, but we have found rest in His comfort.

And for that, we are blessed. 

Tonight • All Sons and Daughters

Life is Precious II

As Christians, it’s easy to make a big production of being perfect before we come to the throne of God. It’s easy to feel like we need to be worth of God’s grace and blessings. It’s easy to put on the right clothes and a smile before going to church instead of addressing what’s really going on. 

But the throne of God is there for the imperfect, for the lost, for the hurting and broken. We don’t have to do anything to come before Him. 

The same God who loves us in our high moments loves us in our low moments. 

This is what kept me going today. This is the promise I held on to. This is what I repeated in my mind when I heard of the sudden death of a dear old friend. 

It still doesn’t feel real and I am in shock. I’m sure I will grieve more as the week draws on, but for now, in between waves of some tears, I am in a place of peace. These are the things I want to remember. 

I thanked God that my boys were with me, alive, well, healthy. Only hours later, I learned that a mother lost her beautiful 25 year old son. A family I knew lost one of their own. 

There was always a special spot in my heart for this old friend. We grew up in the same church but I think we only became friend as late teens, but he spent many Sunday afternoons at our (my parents’) house for family dinners. Over time, I stopped seeing him as much but I always tried to be encouraging to him, whether by text or in person when I did see him. I saw him a handful of times in the past year and was always excited to hear about his life and how he was doing. He was a young man with a wide smile and contagious laugh who was trying to find his place in this world. 

He had his ups and downs in life. I had seen him more in the “up” parts, but the downs became obvious around the time of my wedding. He made mistakes in his life, and one of those mistakes cost him his life. 

But my God is the God of highs and lows. His grace isn’t reserved for those who are always righteous. His grace reaches down to the depths of the earth, to the lowest points. 

“For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

‭‭Romans‬ ‭8:38-39‬ ‭ESV‬‬

http://bible.com/59/rom.8.38-39.esv

I do not know what happened in his final hour. I believe that’s something that his loved ones can only guess about. But I do believe that he is free today. That he is living out his eternal life, away from this broken world and any battles he has faced. 

We who are left behind are in pain. We feel that someone was taken from us too soon. He was loved by many and is therefore missed by many. I cannot imagine the pain that his family is in in this season. I pray for rest for them and that, with rest will come peace and comfort. I pray that they will one day be filled with the hope that they will see their son/brother/father again in a place where there are no more tears. 

Rest well, friend. You’re home, you’re free. You’re in your Savior’s arms now. 💙

You're home now.
Alive • All Sons and Daughters

Life is Precious

I had one of those restless nights last night. It’s usually on those nights that I pray (or at least should pray), “God, what are you trying to tell me? What do I need to pray for?” But last night, I just hummed worship songs. 

The songs I sang to myself reminded me of Ethan’s stay in the hospital. Normally the songs remind me of when he was in the PICU at the second hospital. But this time, I pictured the room at the first hospital. 

I saw the window that overlooked the playground, the same one where I thought “Joshua would love to play there while he visits” forgetting about the blistering cold January weather. 

I saw the room where I sat with my infant son, convinced that he was getting better.  I was so excited that I would hopefully be able to take him home that night, if not the next morning. 

It was the same room where I saw my son struggling to breathe only hours later. The one where I wept when the resident doctor told me I have to seriously consider him being transferred to their sister hospital where there is a PICU for him to stay. It was a truth I was unwilling to accept. She gently told me that babies, like the elderly, go fast, and she didn’t want him to get any worse where they did not have the equipment to transfer him. All I heard was “your son may very well be at death’s door at this moment.”

I didn’t see it. 

The decision for Ethan to go the PICU should have been an easy one. But it took a while for me to realize “even if he isn’t so sick, he will get better faster there.” I was so set in my own idealized thinking, that Ethan was getting better, that I did not see him getting worse before my eyes.

When I finally accepted his condition, I turned on All My Sons and Daughters. (I put a link to their entire YouTube page. I couldn’t even name a favorite song. All of their songs got me through that difficult time, and any difficult time since. I encourage you to listen to worship music like this if you are going through a difficult time yourself.) I was so tired and sick that night but I hardly slept by the time the EMTs came to take Ethan to the second hospital. 

I watch my son get strapped into a stretcher with a makeshift car seat made of blankets. I listened to his weak cries and whimpers, as he was not strong enough for anything more. Up until that point, I was his entire source of life, and yet there was nothing I could do to help him on that day. 

There is no worse thing than to watch your baby suffer and to not be able to do a single thing about it. 

I had to rely on God that He will be the source of life for my son. “Speak life,” I repeated to myself, numb as I was. 

As I thought about all this last night, I thanked God that He had brought us out of that dark time. Many people have experienced even harder times, but I wouldn’t wish those feelings on my worst enemy. I thanked Him for the life of my boys, that they are both strong and healthy. I thanked Him that, although not perfect, I have all of my family right here. I praised Him because even when I’m not sure of the way, He guides me and we make it out, thanks to his sustaining grace. 

Life is a sweet, precious blessing. Embrace it. 

Not Defined By Today

I am a mess today.

I’ve got baby food and baby throw up on my shirt. I’m wearing no makeup, though it wouldn’t matter if I was with the amount of sweat on my face. As such, the dark circles under my eyes are completely visible. My hair needs to be washed, or at least brushed. I’ve had a dull, barely noticeable headache since this morning. My temper is short. I’m exhausted. I’ve been counting down the hours until the day is done. 

Honestly, I’d take a picture as proof, but I’m not good with selfies (if you can believe it).

I’m sure you know these kinds of days. The kinds when the baby wakes up too early in the morning and hardly naps. The kind where the toddler doesn’t take a nap. The kind where you try so hard to give the kids a fun time but it feels like it only backfires. The kind where you think you’d be content with serving Oreos for dinner because you know the kids wouldn’t complain about it. 

Today was tiring and I tried to keep my cool as much as possible. But it took so little to set me off today. I lost it more times than I’d like to admit and I honestly feel ashamed for the way that I acted. 

But it’s on days like this, days when I feel overworked, underappreciated, and emotionally spent, that I am happy to know that I am still a child of God

My messy hair and clothes don’t define me. 

My moments of stress don’t define me. 

Today doesn’t define me. 

I am defined by Christ. It is His love and grace that gets me through not only the day but this life in general. It’s a sweet reminder that no matter how much I mess up, He is still faithful and good to me. 

“I mean that you have been saved by grace through believing. You did not save yourselves; it was a gift from God. It was not the result of your own efforts, so you cannot brag about it. God has made us what we are. In Christ Jesus, God made us to do good works, which God planned in advance for us to live our lives doing.”

‭‭Ephesians‬ ‭2:8-10‬ ‭NCV‬‬

http://bible.com/105/eph.2.8-10.ncv



Now, I think I need a shower

Nothing to Fear, Nothing to Overcome

Worry. 

It’s something every mother, at any stage, is familiar with in some way. It’s a type of worry that is so incessant that only grows with your children. 

When you first see the positive pregnancy test, it’s what you feel when you wonder if you’ll be a good enough mom. 

For some, it’s what you feel when you wonder how you can possibly raise and provide for an unplanned child. 

It’s the feeling you get when you wonder if this one will stick. 

It goes away temporarily, at the first sound of a heartbeat. 

But it comes back when you suddenly feel a different kind of pain. 

It happens when you realize that you haven’t felt a kick in only God knows how long. 

It happens when you wonder if your baby will be born with something that isn’t considered to be perfect. 

It’s what you feel when you realize how close your due date is approaching and you wonder if you’re ready. 

It’s the feeling you get when you go into labor — far too early or even past your due date. 

Some moms don’t feel this at all, but they feel it when they wonder if the adoption process will go through, if the child who did not grow inside her will love her and if she could love this child with all of her being. 

But worry doesn’t stop at birth or when the adoption process is completed. There suddenly becomes so much more to worry about. 

It’s suddenly what you feel when you wonder if you’re feeding baby the right thing. 

When you wonder if you’re putting him to sleep the right way. 

When you don’t know if you should let her cry it out or rock her until she’s asleep, yet again. 

When you see the news and there’s another shooting, another kidnapping, another lost wandering child, another incident where a toddler is harmed in any way. 

It’s the thing that keeps you up at night wondering how you can protect your child from this world. 

It’s the feeling you get when you let your child ride the bus for the first time or walk home with a friend. 

It’s there when you turn around in the grocery store and don’t see your child right there. 

It’s what you feel when your teenager is not answering the phone that you have him in case of emergencies. 

It’s the feeling you get when your child drives alone for the first time.

It happens when you wake up in the middle of the night and your child isn’t home or when you are suddenly woken up by your child calling you.

It’s what you feel when you watch the news about another college rape and wonder how your daughter is doing so far from home. 

It happens when you wonder if your son is making the right choice about his career choice. 

It’s there when you wonder if your child is really happy in the relationship she’s in.

It’s when you hear that your about to become a grandmother and the cycle starts all over again. 

As a mother, there are so many opportunities for worry. So many things have paralyzed me in fear, especially when you hear about unjust shootings. I don’t feel safe almost anywhere these days, but moreover, I don’t know how to kee my kids safe. 

I could choose to keep worrying. I could choose to lose sleep over all of this. But Jesus said something that has stayed in my head for so long:

“Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?” (‭‭Matthew‬ ‭6:27‬ ‭NIV‬‬)

I realize that I, as a mother to the children that God has entrusted to me, have so much to worry about. I don’t want anything but the best for the babies who grew inside me, and it kills me that I cannot ensure that to them. I hate that there is so much evil in the world that I cannot protect them from. It pains me to know that my children will have to live through their own pains one day. 

But what will worrying do for me? What will worrying do for them?

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

‭‭Philippians‬ ‭4:6-7‬ ‭NIV‬‬

http://bible.com/111/php.4.6-7.niv

Guys, I’ve felt that peace, the one that transcends ALL understanding. It’s the most unexplainable, amazing feeling I’ve ever had. Worrying, on the other hand, kind of makes me feel like garbage. 

I’m not promised that everything in life will turn out the way that I want it to or that I and my loved ones will remain safe from all harm. But I am promised that wonderful peace if I surrender my worries at the Cross. It’s an amazing trade off. 

“The truth is we have nothing to fear and nothing to overcome because He is all in all and we are more then conquerors through Him.” (Oswald Chambers, Approved Unto God, 4 R.)

Gluten-Free, Protein Packed, Multi-Grain Pancakes

It’s recipe time again. 🙂

I first made these pancakes a few weeks ago, and they tasted so good that I hardly changed anything in the recipe since my first try. When making these, I wanted to make a multi-grain pancake that was healthy and delicious – with enough protein in it for my morning and tasty enough that I didn’t need to add anything to it so I could easily grab it on the go if I needed to.

This recipe makes about 8-10 4-inch pancakes, or about two servings.

  • 4 eggs
  • 1 1/2 tbsp coconut flour
  • 3/4 c quick oats
  • 1 tbsp flax seeds
  • 2 tbsp chia seeds
  • 1/2 c milk
  • 2 tbsp sunflower oil
  • 1 1/2 tbsp maple agave syrup (I like syrup in my pancakes, not the other way around, so these are a little sweeter than some other pancakes)
  • 1 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp vanilla

My ingredients. I was all out of chia seeds, so I used 3 tbsp of this seed blend instead.

I personally like to use sunflower oil because it’s packed with Vitamin E, but feel free to substitute another type of oil for it. Also, be aware that the chia seeds absorb moisture and turn into gel, so don’t add more than the called for amount. If you want to have a lighter pancake, add less chia seeds and more flax seeds.

First, whisk the eggs until they are smooth.

Add in coconut flour, oats, and seeds with a rubber spatula.

Slowly pour milk into mixture while continuing to stir (with the rubber spatula).

I love it when he helps me bake. ❤️

Add in oil, syrup, vanilla, and baking powder. Stir until well blended.

Use cooking oil spray (I used olive oil) to coat a pan and heat it up. When it is very hot, pour some batter into the pan to make a 4-inch pancake (I pour directly from the bowl). Note that since I used a seed mixture with less chia seeds, my batter was thinner and therefore spread a bit more, so you may need to account for that.

I love this red spatula for flipping pancakes!

After about a minute, or when the top of the pancake starts to form some bubbles, flip the pancake. Cook for another minute or so.

For those who are unaware, this is what it looks like when the pancake is ready to be flipped.

Eat right away or snack on them throughout the day. You can also store them in an airtight container and refrigerate or freeze and enjoy them at a later time.


Happy brunch!