Seeing Clearly

April 5, 2017 by sweetexpectationsbabyplanner

“Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his mercies never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.” Lamentations 3:22-23

 As I snuggled with my 2-year-old in a tiny toddler bed after another long day of caring for four young children, I asked the Lord how my husband and I would get through the busy spring ahead. Should we move? Hire help? Scale back on activities?

My loving Father simply answered, “My mercies are new every morning.” I felt Him speak to my heart that, that Word applies to more than His grace and forgiveness, but also to His help- and HIS vision.

In my half-asleep state, The Lord showed me the image of a man wearing dark sunglasses that the blind wear. The verse about Jesus healing the blind man came to my mind, “The man they call Jesus made some mud and put it on my eyes. He told me to go to Siloam and wash. So I went and washed, and then I could see.” John 9:11

The Holy Spirit began to speak to my heart that, just as Jesus gave the blind man sight, He would do the same for me each day to let me see new things and also old things in a NEW way.

I needed to take off the dark glasses that I was putting on each morning, causing me to see through lenses of exhaustion, irritation, and lack. He called me to see my family, my life, and the world through HIS eyes.

“Amazing grace, how sweet the sound, that saved a wretch like me. I once was lost, but now am found; was blind, but now I see.”  Amazing Grace by John Newton.

As I continue in my Christian walk, I am learning that God often equips us with His Word and instruction, but then requires our action. If I want to have a new way of seeing things, I have to turn it into a practice.

Every time I feel irritated, I ask God to help me to see the good in the person or the situation.

When I begin to think of what I lack, I ask Him to show me just how much I have.

When I sink into exhaustion, I pray for supernatural energy. I even gave up my afternoon coffee and am even more energized during the kids’ dinner, bath, and bed time- that is a miracle in itself! The fast of that caffeine has also led to much better sleep at night.

Along with being able to see more clearly, God has brought practical, daily solutions out of his goodness to expand our family’s time. He is not bound by hours!

“But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day.” 2 Peter 3:8

Are you seeing through dark lenses of sickness, struggle, hopelessness, or fear? Ask the Lord to heal your blind eyes and to give you miraculous sight. He doesn’t want us to drudge through life, or dread each day. We are called to live abundantly and thankfully have a God who is ready and able to help us do so.

 “But those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.” Isaiah 40:31

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A Giant Return

April 15, 2016 by sweetexpectationsbabyplanner

“A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.”

Proverbs 17:22

This is my favorite Tax Day EVER! Not because of a giant return of funds, (though I am very thankful for a good one), but for a giant return of HEALTH for our sweet Haven. At her follow-up appointment with the Pediatric Pulmonologist 1 week after she came home from the hospital, he gave us a plan with breathing treatments and quarantine to help her lungs to heal and keep her from catching any more illnesses. He told us that if we could make it to “Tax Day” without her getting sick again, it would be ideal, since it marks the end of RSV season in Los Angeles. April 15th has been in my sights since February, and by the grace of God, wonderful care for our daughter by doctors, and your many prayers, we have made it and she has not been sick once!

I wrote a lot about fear and the faith to get through it while in the hospital. The fear was a constant battle for me when we came home, too. I am a “germ-a-phobe” as it is, but suddenly I saw every person, place, and thing as a germy threat to my fragile baby. I spent a fortune on every form of sanitizer to keep in the house, diaper bag, car, and stroller. Grandparents flew in to stay for a while and then I hired babysitters to keep Haven from going anywhere for weeks. She has been limited to only “fresh air” activities since we began to take her out at all, (thank goodness for SoCal weather!), and no visitors have come through our door for playdates. Her brothers and sister even had a horrible “no going near Haven” rule in effect. These extreme measures were ordered by her doctors and we did not hesitate to follow them.

I have learned a lot in this season about what it means to seek wise counsel and follow it, and then joyfully rest in the care of the Lord. When my son had a nasty cold, my first reaction was panic- but as the Proverb says, a crushed spirit would dry up my bones. Giving in to fear would keep me from the joy of my baby’s healing and homecoming. I had to keep a cheerful heart and not forget what the Lord had brought us through- for it was good medicine.

Experiencing hardships also teaches us so much about contentment. When Haven was initially diagnosed with Hypotonia, I was very upset and worried about her reaching her milestones. After almost losing her, I am so happy she’s alive that I am not concerned with when she will crawl; nor do I feel overwhelmed with physical, occupational, and developmental therapy appointments 3 days a week. I faced the “what could have been” which makes the “what is” so much sweeter.

My prayer for all who read this is that what you have endured will cause you look behind you at how the Lord has helped you to prevail, and that recounting His goodness will strengthen your faith and give you joy in today’s challenges. Perspective is so powerful.

So on this Tax Day, we’re partying! God is faithful. His promises never return void.

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Faith in the Fear

February 3, 2016 by sweetexpectationsbabyplanner

“I will say of the Lord, ‘He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.’” Psalm 91:1

I read these words in a frantic whisper as the noise of twenty people saving a baby’s life swirled around me with “code white, code white, code white” ringing in my ears and overhead. The baby was mine and so was the terror- a fear like I had never felt; where I shook from the inside out and struggled to breathe; where I tried not to imagine a world without my Haven.

“God save my baby. Jesus heal my baby. Please don’t take her. Please don’t take her.”

When you are lying on the hospital floor, desperate and afraid, you find out where you put your trust. As amazing as the doctors, nurses, and respiratory therapists were who performed an emergency intubation on Haven when her lung collapsed, I knew the only One in control was my Father- Haven’s Father- our Father. He moved through the medical team to provide breath in my sweet baby’s lungs.

The doctor gave me news that she was stable, but sedated and on a ventilator and that the team would be working on her settings for a while. The hospital chaplain put her arm around me as the shaking subsided and I read Psalm 91 over and over again until my husband came running through the door.

‘Because she loves me,’ says the Lord, ‘ I will rescue her; I will protect her, for she acknowledges my name.

She will call on me and I will answer her;

I will be with her in trouble,

I will deliver her and honor her.

With long life I will satisfy her and show her my salvation.’”

After that, I remember looking at the ceiling… and waking up in the middle of the PICU busy-ness four hours later. When I handed my trust over to the Lord to save my baby, and to my husband to keep watch of her, my body rested without my even giving it permission.

The three days that Haven was intubated and sedated were long and empty as I stayed by her side, yet with no interaction from my fun baby girl. She had a PICC line inserted, IV’s and tubes- the sight of her hurt my heart.

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The doctors urged us to run tests to rule out underlying reasons for her Hypotonia that could be leading to a weak cough, and thus the hospitalizations. This is when the fear became even worse for me. In my fragile state, I felt I couldn’t handle hearing that anything else was wrong with my baby. I didn’t want to test for anything- “let’s only deal with the task at hand for now.” Thankfully, through the wise counsel of doctors, nurses, and my husband, we started the process of elimination. Our Pediatric Intensivist wrote what we were dealing with on the window:

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First she had an Echocardiogram. Her heart looked beautiful, (Praise God!), but a bronchioscope was needed to rule out a possible problem with the aorta. All clear!  Her leg with the PICC line became cold and so an ultrasound was needed to look for a blood clot. Nothing to see! The Echocardiogram revealed a huge cyst on her abdomen. Many prayed with us that it would be healed and gone when she had her CT Scan…

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Guess what? The cyst that we have documented photos of WAS NOT THERE. The radiologist, PICU Intensivist, and GI Specialist had no other explanation than the fact that it was gone. I enjoyed telling the radiologist that we had prayed for it to disappear. “Well, ‘somebody’ heard your prayers,” he replied.

In the middle of the storm, we witnessed a true miracle- one for which we give Jesus ALL of the glory! We also experienced His love through an unbelievable outpouring of care, concern, generosity, and encouragement from family, friends, and even people we don’t know. It continues to be emotional and humbling to witness the goodness of others. I will never forget what has been done for us.

It took three days for Haven to really come out of the blur of the sedation and she was given a neurological exam and swallow test and had blood drawn and sent to genetics in regard to her muscles. With each test she passed, I exhaled and took another breath to keep running this race of endurance. There was no need to fear. God is bigger than any test or ailment, and no one could tell me anything that would make me love my Haven Elizabeth any less.

Seeing her so lethargic was worrisome, so we made a timeline of what she had endured. I could hardly stand to remember that she had vomited for 10 days straight and was not able to eat for the two days prior to her intubation due to her intensely rapid breathing. Though she had IV fluids a lot of that time, she was malnourished and so  weak.

Cuddles, nursing, and food gave way to the bubbly Haven we know so well, and smiles on all of our faces.

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Living in the PICU for eleven strenuous days, we became part of a family of incredible caregivers who truly blessed our lives in an intense and unique way. We are forever grateful to them. On January 29th we tearfully said goodbye, and Haven’s homecoming was joyous. Our older three children cheered as she came through the door.

While in the hospital, I had thought a lot about a family that I don’t know but have prayed for since 2013- a baby born with many illnesses who has spent an equal amount of his life in the hospital as he has at home. He was intubated at the same time as Haven all the way across the country. The day that we  brought Haven home, Mason went home to be with Jesus.

Why do I get to rejoice while another mother mourns? I don’t think I will ever know the answer on this side of heaven, but the impact that both babies have had on my life is even more than I can process right now. I will never be the same.

Thank you for all of your love and for being Christ’s hands and feet for our family. God has shown His incredible grace and mercy to us in so many ways and through so many faithful servants.

“I always thank God for you because of his grace given you in Christ Jesus. For in him you have been enriched in every way- in all your speaking and in all your knowledge- because our testimony about Christ was confirmed in you. Therefore you do not lack any spiritual gift as you eagerly wait for our Lord Jesus Christ to be revealed. He will keep you strong to the end, so that you will be blameless on the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. God, who has called you into fellowship with his Son Jesus Christ our Lord, is faithful.” I Corinthians 1:4-9

The Power of Weakness

January 15, 2016 by sweetexpectationsbabyplanner

“He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak.”

Isaiah 40:29

I’ve often heard moms say that motherhood is like having your heart walk around outside of your body. Quite honestly, I think that is a bit cheesy, but this past month it kind of sums up exactly how I have felt about my baby girl. In December, a common cold developed into acute bronchiolitis and pneumonia and she was in the hospital for four days. Carrying her into the hospital as she threw up and went limp on my shoulder trying to breathe through her aching airways and then watching her pain as she was poked with needles was physically painful for me. Thankfully, she healed and enjoyed a wonderful Christmas season with her family.

Tuesday though, she was admitted into the PICU again- this time with RSV. Walking back through those doors with my very sick baby almost overcame me. “How could this be happening again? We have been more careful than ever before about germs. God, we pray for her health daily?”

As I watched the oxygen, breathing treatments, and fluids flow into my baby and saw her seem to get weaker, my mind was screaming, “why are these things not helping her?!” Another day went by where she got worse. I sobbed and cried out to the Lord asking why He was not healing my sweet baby.

The Holy Spirit instructed me that, just as the fluids, oxygen and medications seemed to not be doing their jobs, they were. I just couldn’t see it; and the same was true with God. He WAS healing her and was there with her. I just couldn’t see His breath flowing into her lungs and His life pouring into her veins.

It was then that I surrendered, gave her fully into His care, and when she awoke from a nap on my vomit and tear stained chest, this baby…

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…gave way to this one.

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Due to her hypotonia, Haven is in developmental, physical, and occupational therapies. Her teacher told me in December that she needed to be doing “nursery tricks” by now. Doing what??? ”Blowing kisses, playing peekaboo, song hand motion mimics, something like that,” she explained.

Well, right after the above picture was taken, my sick and lethargic baby made an “itsy bitsy spider climb up the water spout” with her fingers while I sang to her. I’ve never been so excited to see a spider in all my life!

The next day while still in the hospital, she pushed up higher than ever before. After 5 days of vomiting every feed, she showed her greatest strength.

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But that’s God.

That’s what He wants to do with us when we are emptied- fill us with His strength as a testimony of what faith can do.

I am happy to report that we are snuggled up at home now. Will you continue to pray for our Haven Elizabeth? Her name means “sanctuary consecrated to God” and we want to see her little body strong and healthy to live a life for the Lord.

May your weariness  lead you to more reliance on the One who will give you power.

From Miss America to Motherhood

September 13, 2015 by sweetexpectationsbabyplanner

“They lay their crowns before the throne and say, ‘You are worthy, our Lord and God to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things and by your will they were created and have their being.’ “

Revelation 4:10,11

Tonight is the 95th Miss America Pageant and I can’t wait to watch! I competed as Miss Mississippi for the 2004 crown. Though I did not win, I made lifelong friends. Now, I know, that sentiment is often spoken with a smile in the grace of a beauty queen to her fans, but I really mean it.

The Misses from Alabama, Louisiana, Tennessee, Maryland, New York, Mississippi, Georgia, and Michigan could always be found together at Boardwalk Hall laughing and dreaming during rehearsals. The night of the pageant, several of us were tearfully eating pizza backstage after not being named finalists.

Upon returning to our states, we set up an email group to keep in touch. Our correspondence began with discussing our adventures as state title holders, who we were dating, and later marrying. Marriage gave way to babies- and miscarriages, and infertility, and cancer among us.

Life became more real and so did our bond.

I write this today to emphasize the power of having other mothers in your life with whom you can be raw and real on this motherhood journey.

The irony of our pageant sisterhood is that we had to shed the perfection to grow into mothers and have been able to do so together. We had to lay down our crowns and allow the Lord to do His work in us and in our families.

We have grieved the losses of miscarried babies, believed through years of infertility, and celebrated the births of 22- you read that right- TWENTY TWO children among us.

When Miss Maryland’s daughter fought and WON against cancer last year, we rejoiced in our God’s healing power and hugged our healthy babies a bit tighter.

We email about breast-feeding, teething, potty-training, and losing the baby weight, (as you can imagine 8 former state swimsuit winners might). More importantly, we pray for and encourage each other. We go months without contact due to our busy lives and then pick right back up again with 30 excited text messages the morning of the 2016 Miss America Pageant.

As we transition from the more glamorous to perhaps the grittier seasons of life, it is such a blessing to do so with others. As our group has found, there is more beauty in our lives now than was on that stage in Atlantic City over a decade ago.

Motherhood is a former of bonds and the great equalizer. It makes mentors and students of us. It allows us to speak with those we might not otherwise, and learn from those we admired from afar.

When I moved to Los Angeles and was pregnant with my first child, Miss Mississippi 1977 Mary Haskell and her family threw a baby shower for my husband and me and were the first to visit us at the hospital while our family flew across the nation.

When I performed at the Miss Mississippi Pageant in 2012 pregnant with my third child, I spent hours chatting backstage with Miss Mississippi 1962 Chalie Ray about being moms and the Lord’s provision.

Tonight I will watch the Miss America Pageant on ABC, (just a shameless plug there!), nursing, wearing pajamas, and eating ice cream while I cheer for Miss Mississippi Hannah Roberts.

For me, the gowns and the jewels are sweet memories now.  Many of the dreams of my youth were not realized while others have fulfilled me beyond what I could have imagined. I’ve learned that we must walk the path the Lord has set for us without our own notions of the destination.

My time in Atlantic City resulted in amazing opportunities to perform and train through scholarships and experiences, but more importantly, it brought me into a sisterhood of women who help me to strive to become a woman of noble character.

She is clothed with strength and dignity;
she can laugh at the days to come.
She speaks with wisdom,
and faithful instruction is on her tongue.

 She watches over the affairs of her household
and does not eat the bread of idleness.
Her children arise and call her blessed;
her husband also, and he praises her:
“Many women do noble things,
but you surpass them all.”
Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting;
but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.
Honor her for all that her hands have done,
and let her works bring her praise”

Proverbs 31: 25-31

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What is Life Worth?

July 21, 2015 by sweetexpectationsbabyplanner

“See how the precious children of Jerusalem, worth their weight in fine gold, are now treated like pots of clay made by a common potter.” Lamentations 4:2

My heart has always been heavy for the unborn and for the mothers who choose to abort them. I find myself in tears every time that the issue is brought back into the public forum for debate. To me, the topic of abortion is not about politics, religion, or rights. It is about worth.

As a society, we are constantly sizing up each other’s worth- whether in beauty, wealth, talent, or intellect. It drives how we see and treat people and creates a culture that thrives on titles, possessions, and appearances. This week as I prayed continuously about how to effectively advocate for the tiniest of babies, I realized a great factor in why abortion is still happening even with ultrasounds showing us beating hearts and wiggling arms and legs- it comes down to worth.

You see, for the baby who is unplanned and will seemingly be a great burden, embarrassment, and inconvenience, he or she is worth little- so little that it seems worthwhile to the mother to abort.

But what about the mother who just had her third miscarriage and lost another baby she was desperate to hold? That child was worth more than any possession or dream. A monetary value couldn’t be placed on that little life as the mother weeps while she bleeds and feels a part of her slipping away beyond her control.

And the couple who can’t conceive without medical assistance? Using their life savings for IVF is not even a second thought when the plus sign appears on the pregnancy test. That baby is worth every penny; every sacrifice.

So why do we allow circumstances to change the value and worth of life? And yes- we know that “it” is life. When there are body parts being distributed, there is no longer an argument that can stand.

It begins with the mother and her feeling of worth. Oh, if only the woman who is terrified and overwhelmed knew how much her Father in heaven loves and treasures her. Even when everyone around her calls her worthless- if she had the assurance of her Creator, she would not only stand firm in her worth, but also her baby’s.

The path to life in every way is in Jesus Christ. His love and sacrifice allow us to move past our sins and into the loving arms of God. Because of Jesus, the Lord’s view of our worth does not change according to our circumstances. We are created in His image and worth more than we can comprehend. We are all sons and daughters of our Heavenly Father.

So as believers, we need to pray for those in desperate situations to realize their worth and their babies’.

As Christ’s hands and feet we need to value others.

As mothers, we need to intercede for the unborn and do all we can to come alongside those who choose life and need help.

As those who have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, we need to have mercy on the mothers who have had abortions and show them the healing that can only be found in Christ.

Is choosing life worth the cost of losing a reputation, job, relationship, or worse? I can assure you that whatever is taken away, the Lord will replace with joy and peace that is worth far more than anything that this world can give.

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You Hold My Head Up

April 2, 2015 by sweetexpectationsbabyplanner

Morning light is flooding in and loud toddler voices echo from the kitchen as I rub my eyes after a very sleepless night. My sweet newborn just could not get comfortable and needed me to take care of her in every way. She can do nothing for herself- she can’t even hold her head up on her own.

God wants us to be like newborns.

He wants us to surrender to Him. When we feel we can’t hold our heads up, we should ask Him to support us.

When we are uncomfortable, we should ache for His comfort.

When we can’t sleep, we should cry out to Him to be our confidant in the dark of night.

“As a mother comforts her child, so I will comfort you.” Isaiah 66:13

I often look to the world for comfort- in fun times, material items, music, friendships… but true strength and comfort come from the Lord. Jesus exemplified turning to the Father for all He needed when faced with injustice, torture, and death. He didn’t only ask for relief, though, He surrendered to what faced Him.

“Jesus prayed, ‘Father, if You are willing, take this cup from Me; yet not My will, but Yours be done.’ An angel from heaven appeared to Him and strengthened Him.” Luke 22: 42-43

Pastor Leaf Zwerling of The Shepherd’s House wrote a wonderful devotional this Holy Week about surrender. The last paragraph truly spoke to me as it turns the world’s logic on its head:

“If you are looking for more strength to handle your family responsibilities, try serving them more. If you need strength to endure your grueling and unrewarding job, try looking for ways to be a greater blessing where you work. And if strength in your faith is what you seek, try surrendering your definitions and desires as to what that looks like, by getting low, seeking the father, and finding fulfillment in His will. Allow James 4:10 to be your strength source formula, ‘Humble yourself in the sight of the Lord and he will lift you up.’”

Precious blue eyes are looking into mine right now, trusting that I will take care of her as she rests in my arms.

Gaze upon the Father, trust in His goodness, and rest in His loving arms.

It’s a Wonderful Life- in the Storm and in the Haven

March 20, 2015 by sweetexpectationsbabyplanner

“My son, do not forget my teaching, but let your heart keep my commandments, for length of days and years of life and peace they will add to you. Let not steadfast love and faithfulness forsake you; bind them around your neck; write them on the tablet of your heart. So you will find favor and good success in the sight of God and man. Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding.” Proverbs 3:1-5

After a season of what felt like blind and sometimes senseless trust in the Lord as our family saw many unanswered prayers and disappointments, God has given us so much more than we deserve in a matter of weeks!

In my last post at the end of 2014, I felt emptied and exhausted with lots of questions for the Lord. What was He doing? I knew my requests paled in comparison to the many sufferings of others, but I also knew that God cares for each of us and had given my husband and me specific promises that we longed to see fulfilled for His glory. I still had a mustard seed of faith left, though, and as Jesus tells us in His word, that is enough.

The Lord answered, “If you had faith even as small as a mustard seed, you could say to this mulberry tree, ‘May you be uprooted and thrown into the sea,’ and it would obey you! ” Luke 17:6

On Christmas Eve, my husband and I watched “It’s a Wonderful Life” for the first time. That’s right- neither of us had ever seen it. That alone seems crazy in itself! We were both in tears as we related to George Bailey and his family- (mirroring ours with 2 little boys and 2 little girls), and friends who surrounded them with love, support, and generosity when they needed it most.

In a time of God teaching us so much about Him, ourselves, and growing in faith, He has shown us so much love through His servants- our friends, family, and church who stood in the gap for us when we couldn’t believe for ourselves. Through their prayers, encouragement, and generosity, we never felt alone.  How I hope that I am doing the same for others!

On January 28th, my husband was offered a wonderful job WHILE we were moving into a home that is just perfect for our family. Exactly four weeks later, Baby Haven was born- a little girl who had been promised to us in many ways.

The timing of the pregnancy was surprising to us, and quite honestly, I was fearful. But we are instructed in God’s Word to praise Him through our fears and He has taught me how to do that these past few years.

“I will extol the Lord at all times; his praise will always be on my lips. I will glory in the Lord; let the afflicted hear and rejoice. Glorify the Lord with me; let us exalt his name together. I sought the Lord and he answered me; he delivered me from all my fears.” Psalm 34: 1-4

Have you ever heard the expression, “I know the Lord won’t give me more than I can handle, I just wish He didn’t trust me so much” ? As I look behind me at all I have learned and in my arms at what I feared, oh am I thankful that He trusts me so much.

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“They were glad when it grew calm and he guided them to their desired haven.”

Psalm 107:30

What Is God Doing?

December 12, 2014 by sweetexpectationsbabyplanner

“And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her from the Lord.”

Luke 1:45

Do you ever feel as if you are not quite sure what God is doing with your life- how He is using you, leading you- if you are moving forward or doing what He wants you to do? When these questions flood over me, I feel overwhelmed with confusion.

I have been in a season, (for a while now), of God emptying me of most of the things that I thought gave me worth- the accolades, the friends, the material possessions- even my pageant winning swimsuit figure has now been expanded for a fourth baby complete with varicose veins. I am very different than I used to be in so many ways. Most of the time, I am thankful that the Lord has stripped away so much of the ugliness that I covered up in my heart by keeping the superficial parts of my life beautiful. However, some days I feel a little lost- I’m not who I used to be so where do I fit in? Where am I going? God, how are you going to use me for your glory if I don’t even know where I belong?

I have been thinking of Mary, the mother of Jesus, so much lately. From the outside, she was poor, unwed, homeless, and unlawfully pregnant. She seemingly had nothing that the world saw as valuable, but the Lord saw her very differently.

“And he came to her and said, ‘Greetings O favored one. The Lord is with you!’” Luke 1:28

And Mary, so full of grace, trust, and wisdom that could only come from the Holy Spirit, believed in her value that was in the Lord so much, that she could be confident in His plan for her even when everything around her looked as if she had no place, plan, or future.

“And Mary said, ‘Behold, I am a servant of the Lord; let it be done to me according to your word.’” Luke 1:38

She didn’t need the approval of others, or for everything to come together perfectly in the natural to keep the faith in what God would do for her and with her.

I want to be like Mary.

As mothers, we have a beautiful calling to care for our children and raise them in the knowledge, nurturing, and peace of Christ. God has something unique for each of us to do in this lifetime, as well, and we must keep our hearts and minds so secure in Him that we don’t lose our focus when the things we once counted on are out of focus.

As the world swirls around us in uncertainty, He is the rock that is always certain. He is the One who is always there seeing the beauty of your life that doesn’t get posted on Facebook or celebrated with awards. How much greater is His favor and love than anything else we could receive!

“For He has looked on the humble estate of His servant. For behold, from now on all generations will call me blessed.” Luke 1:48

Mary believed that the Lord would complete the good work that He started in her. We should too.

Lord, may we be humble. May we find our worth and calling in You. May the future generations of our families call us blessed- not because of our accomplishments, but because of our willingness to serve and follow you as we love and care for our families. Thank you for the example of Mary. Amen.

Sabbath Thanksgiving

November 30, 2014 by sweetexpectationsbabyplanner

“Enter His gates with thanksgiving and His courts with praise; give thanks to Him and praise His name.” Psalm 100:4

For Thanksgiving this year, my family did something very unlike us- we rested. We said “no” to the lovely invites to celebrate with large parties and we stayed home to give thanks as just the 5 (and 1/2!) of us.

Now, I know I will remember Thanksgiving 2014  only as it is presented in this picture- smiling faces gathered around a set table:

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And that’s okay- most grandparents tell stories about how well-behaved we all were as children and my theory is that they have just blocked out all of the tantrums. But I digress…

The day had its fair share of fighting over who got to hold the mixer, color the placemats, and have the first piece of peanut butter pie. It wasn’t perfect- but then again it kind of was. The fussing, the cooking, the eating and refusing to eat- it was done in our home on a day that we set apart for time together.

Of all of the commandments, I find keeping the Sabbath the most difficult. There is always so much to do and with 5 competing schedules, finding time to rest together can seem like work. However, on our Sabbath Thanksgiving when we firmly committed to keeping the day small and quiet, (or quiet for 3 kids under 6 anyway), I realized why it is so important to the Lord.

I felt closer to Him, to my family, and to my baby in my womb by slowing down. I felt thankful. Our dinner was small and the decorations home made, but the simplicity was what brought tears to my eyes as I looked around the table at the messy mouths, the pilgrim hats, and the spilled macaroni.

My daughter said she was thankful for God and her family.

And I am too.

As we go into this busy holiday season, may we take time to rest in Him, to enjoy the simple joys with our families, and to enter into His courts with Thanksgiving.