Jesus & Peanut Butter Jellies

Jesus & Peanut Butter Jellies

I don’t know why my kids call them that.  Peanut Butter Jellies.  I can’t remember ever saying that but it is definitely within the realm of possibilities that in a hurried moment of answering a firing squad of questions, I inadvertently renamed an American classic.

Recently, a group of people from my church went on a 10 day mission trip to Germany.  Among those that went, were my mom, dad, little (18-year-old) brother and best friend.  While my parents were gone, I kept my three youngest siblings (17, 12 & 9).  If you’re quick with numbers (or you got more than 3 hours of sleep), you will recognize that this brought me to a grand total of 6 children.  Heavens to Betsy.  That is a lot of little humans to keep alive.

The days went by quickly and mostly without issue.  Obviously, there were fights to be refereed and meals to be prepared.  I said “Please stop talking and go to sleep” more times than I can count.  I helped brush many molars and picked up millions of wet towels.  All in all though, it was awesome.  As we neared the end of their time here, I felt really great about the days we spent together and got to share real, tangible love with them (which is harder to do since I am so much older and we don’t live in the same household anymore).  I was thankful.

Fast-forward to today (Sunday), the day after they went home.  Last night was ROUGH.  My middle little woke up at 3am.  3am, y’all.  He was wide awake, too.  That kind of awake where he’s convinced it is morning and the sun just forgot to “wake up”.  He finally crashes at 7am and I go back to bed for an hour before we have to get up to get ready for church.  We missed Sunday School.  There was no was middle little or I was going to be able to function for that, so we rushed and made it to the main service (on time too! *pats self on back*).

As the service is starting, it literally feels like they are saying “Germany” every other word.  The entire message was basically referencing Germany and things that the Pastor had seen there or things that God had shown him while he was there.  I was taking notes, as I usually do, when I catch myself feeling a feeling that I couldn’t quite pinpoint.  If you knew me personally, you would know that I’m not an exceptionally emotional person.  My emotional MO is fake it till you make it.  Stuff it down.  Deal with it yourself and talk yourself rationally out of whatever feeling you’re feeling that you don’t want to feel.  I’m weird, I know.  Jesus is working on me and that’s exactly what He was doing is doing today.  I was wrestling to identify this feeling and came to the realization that I already knew what it was, I just didn’t want to admit it because it was pretty terrible.

JEALOUSY.

*Gulp* What in the world?!  I sat there attempting to reason with myself.  Trying to talk myself out of it.  The Holy Spirit was tugging at my heart.  “Dig deeper,” He nudged, “there’s more to this that what you see on the surface.” 

BITTERNESS.

You’ve got to be kidding me.  Here I was, feeling great about the past week and a half and stupid old flesh me just HAD to ruin it.  I hate doing emotional work (as in processing ones own emotions).  HATE IT.  Yet here I am, in the middle of a church service, doing just that.  As I began to “unpack” those emotions, I realized that I was feeling envious of their fire.  Those that went seem to have come back 110% dedicated and 110% ready to serve.  I wanted that.  I wanted to feel refreshed and tired, all at the same time and all in the best way.  I wanted to have grand memories of watching kids and teenagers surrender their lives to Jesus.  I wanted to be a part of that and I wanted that fire.  It was like that Germany trip was gasoline doused on their hearts.  An explosion of love and humility.  An ignition of servant’s hearts and warrior’s prayers.  I was happy for them.  I am happy for them, but for some reason, it hurt.

As I sat there, numbly taking notes and talking with God, I felt it.  A peace.  A calm.  God didn’t allow my fire to be doused.  He didn’t provide gasoline or fire works.  He gave me kindling.  With every bowl of cereal poured, every Peanut Butter Jelly made, He was stoking my fire.  Every time I prayed for wisdom and patience to break up another fight (or to revoke fidget spinner privileges again), he was giving oxygen to my flame.

There is something beautiful in not experiencing that “spiritual high”.  In the slow, steady burn of relying on Christ in the day-to-day, “mundane” of life.  In Jesus putting some fresh wood on that fire, which looks like it just might choke out the flame, when He swoops in with some pine needles and blows on that bad boy, showing me againthat Jesus is just as good in the bonfire, as He is in the birthday candle.  Fire is fire, y’all and Jesus knows my heart.  Ugly and disappointing as it was this morning, He knew it.

All that to say, in this season of life, I want to choose to be thankful for that kindling and not jonesing for that gasoline.  I want to pray over every one of those Peanut Butter Jellies.  I want to thank Jesus for the chance to be a world-changer, even if the only world I ever get to “change” is that of my children and those in my itty bitty town.  Don’t get me wrong, I still want that fire and foreign missions is something I would love to do, but I want it on HIS time.  In HIS way.  I want to be as excited to show the love of Jesus to that Wal-Mart cashier, as that group was to show it to the Germans.

This post was a hot mess express, but it was real.  It was raw.  It was painfully honest.  That’s where Jesus does His best work.  In my ugly.  So stay tuned, because I’ve got plenty of it.

 

15 For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate. 16 Now if I do what I do not want, I agree with the law, that it is good. 17 So now it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me. 18 For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out. 19 For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing. 20 Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me. – Romans 7:15-20

 

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Unfettered & Unrestrained

Unfettered & Unrestrained


Unfettered: Free; Unrestrained

I close my eyes and inhale deeply.  Her fine baby hair tickles my nose as I breathe in her sweet baby smell.  Chubby fingers clutch my arms and rolly polly legs wrap around me.

She’s grasping tightly, but not too tightly.  She knows I would never drop her.

I am her caregiver. I am her protector. I am her nurturer. I am her momma.

I hum the familiar tune that we hum every night, soaking up her warmth.

Inhale, exhale;

Exhaling all the difficult moments of the day; every boundary test and every protested diaper change.

Inhaling the darkness and coolness of her bedroom;

Listening to the whir of the fan, the white noise from the noise machine.

This is what it means to be a mother.

Embracing the good, the bad, the ugly.

Embracing the beautiful.

My Daughter.

I am your cheerleader. Your secret keeper. Your bedtime singer. I am your momma.

My love for you is unfettered.

Graveyards & Great Potential

Graveyards & Great Potential

churchgraveyard

I don’t know how you personally feel about the Oscars.  I didn’t watch them but I did watch several clips of the winners’ award acceptance speeches and I was moved by Viola Davis’ in particular.  In the beginning of her speech, she says:

“There is one place where all the people with the greatest potential are gathered and that’s the graveyard.”

That was so profound to me.  It brings to mind the word ‘legacy’.  The very definition of the word ‘legacy’ is something transmitted by or received from an ancestor or predecessor or from the past.  Which is so weird to me because I feel like my generation is so focused on the ‘now’.  The bucket lists and the involvement in politics and the career goals and the degrees and the financial gains.  And yes, some of those things have lasting value, but will they be a part of our legacy?  Will our greatest potentials be untapped until we are in the ground?  Will we allow our entire lives to pass us by before we take the opportunity to do something that touches eternity?

This is one of the best parts (to me) about my faith.  I know that if I am serving the Lord where He has called me to be, then I am touching eternity.  I am touching eternity by ministering to my husband; modeling what real love looks like to my children.  I hope I am leaving a legacy for my kids of a mother that (although incredibly flawed) is faithful to what she believes.  Being a mother that is kind and gracious and patient, but also gently guiding my children to become better humans and ultimately, pointing them to Jesus.  That is the legacy that I desire.

This quote also reminded me how short our lives here on earth are; James 4:14 says:

14 yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes.

Um, okay.  We forget how small we are.  We are significant, because we are made in His image, but we are small.  Our lives are small and they can only have lasting impact (a legacy, great potential) if we are submitted to Christ.  This speaks to me so loudly about this season that I’m in right now.

May your potential be great & your legacy be also,

Autumn

Sundays & First World Problems

Sundays & First World Problems

 

So the plan for Sundays here at J&J is basically to share something that spoke to me from the sermon on Sunday morning.  Before I get into it, I’ll do a little “ten things you may not know” in regards to my faith, my church, and my walk with the Lord!

  1. I began my walk with the Lord at the age of 6, in a bathtub of all places.
  2. My dad is a pastor, but contrary to popular belief, I do NOT know every answer and it doesn’t automatically mean I was a wild child (although I definitely went through that phase).
  3. I did not get baptized in a traditional baptistery, but in a creek (it was backwoods Louisiana, y’all)
  4. My church’s official affiliation is Southern Baptist, however, I’d consider myself more “non-denominational”
  5. I have a heart for kids, so I volunteer in Nursery & in AWANA (on Wednesday nights).

Now that you know a little about my “religious” (ugh, hate that word) history, let’s get into it.

Today, my pastor preached on Matthew 28:16-20 & Acts 1:3-11.  He talked about how so often we put the emphasis on our kingdom vs His Kingdom.  We’re so worried about our houses and our cars.  About our clothes and our food.  About our careers and even our kids.  I know for me, my main ministry (and current “career”, if you will), is raising my children and even that can become an idol.  I can get so caught up in making sure that my kids are “happy” (i.e. comfortable, never challenged to learn or do new things), that I can forget to lead by example by living out “The Great Commission”.  It is literally EVERY believer’s job to play show and tell with this world.  Show them love (REAL, unfettered, unbiased love) and tell them about Jesus Christ and what He has done and can do.

He also spoke about how sometimes, we think that we are so much better off than places like Haiti, where believers live much harder lives, but in reality, our prosperity is often what cripples our walk with the Lord.  Christianity is so comfortable here in the US, that every little thing that doesn’t go our way tends to seem like a “trial”.  He said this and it really stuck out to me:

a real #FirstWorldProblem: Jesus is NOT first, He is last.

Talk about a mic drop.  This was SO convicting to me.  I am so busy with everything else and so easily distracted, that I often allow Christ to fall from the forefront of my mind and heart.  My attitude is so easily swayed by little things that inconvenience me that I forget that, in the end, the only thing that truly matters is Jesus.  His will, His way, His Word.  So, going into this week, that is going to be my goal: to do my very best to keep Him first.  I’m thinking of praying each morning in my quiet time for the Lord to show me a scripture for each day that can help me remember to do that.  I’ll probably be writing those scriptures on my hand, because, let’s be real hashtag mom brain.

Love & Sips,

Autumn

Snotty Noses & Crows

Snotty Noses & Crows

Today, I pretty much woke up irritated.  Do you ever have days like that (if the answer is
“no”, please don’t answer)?  I slept right through my alarm, awoke to the melodious snoring of my spouse with the sun glaring in my eyeballs.  I immediately knew it wasn’t going to get my quiet time (my boys had to be up in 9 minutes) and it just got worse from there.

My  most, um, “spirited” child woke up in a terrible mood, my oldest woke up with a cough and my youngest STILL had a snotty nose, despite my arsenal of essential oils AND a prescribed antibiotic!  On top of all that, it was bill paying day.  *sigh*  We’re blessed and I should never complain about our financial situation, but “busy season” (read: lots of overtime and big bonuses) came late this year and it was making me mad.

As I logged into our bank account and paid each bill, I got increasingly agitated.  I finally just stopped altogether.  Little Red (aka my 4 year old son) was chasing his newly learned to walk, 15 month old sister around with a foam Minecraft sword, while Big C (my 6-year-old son) was complaining incessantly about his handwriting practice and explaining why last names are unnecessary.  So, I did what any normal SAHM does… went to the bathroom.

Now, this might not make sense if you are a June Cleaver type SAHM, I however, am NOT.  I just needed a minute to think.  To collect myself before I set our homeschooling books ablaze and our checkbook (ok, we only pay two of our bills with checks, but I digress) too.  I got it “together” ( we’re using this term very loosely here) and went back to bill paying.

As I logged into my final account to be paid, I saw there had been a $150 credit applied.  WHAT?!  I researched what it could be thinking it was a mistake, but NOPE.  It was legit and I burst into tears.  The Holy Spirit instantly softened my heart.  I hadn’t realized until that moment not only how angry I had been but how angry at God I had been.  As the tears flowed, the Lord brought to my mind Matthew 6:26:

“Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your Heavenly Father feeds them.  Are you not much more valuable than they?”

If God is going to take care of crows (the nastiest bird in the whole world besides vultures, if you ask me), how could I ever doubt that He is going to take care of me and my family?  I need to remind myself that His version of “taking care of me” might not be what I would consider ideal (say, unlimited Etsy funds and a fast metabolism?), however, He has met every NEED that we have. Busy season or not, The Lord is still in charge and unlike my moods (and cash flow), He doesn’t change.

Running on thankfulness & bathroom sanity breaks,

Autumn

Cradles & Kitchens

Cradles & Kitchens

“What happens in cradles and kitchens will prove to be more effective than what goes on in Congress.”

I don’t know who said it, but man, I hope its true!  I really hope that one day, all the breaking up of MMA-style fights and explaining that we don’t always get the specific colored bowl we want will make a difference.

In my heart, deep down, past the doubt and the sheer exhaustion, I know it will, but I struggle to remember this on a daily basis when my days seem like a constant blur of nursing, potty training, schooling, snack fetching, and character teaching.  Recently, the Lord has brought Proverbs 31:27-28 to the forefront of my heart and mind:

“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.”

I think probably 80% of the time, when someone asks me “How are you?”, I respond with “tired” or “busy” and sometimes that bothers me.  Sometimes, I feel like I should respond with a “Blessed and highly favored” or “you know, just loving that mom life” but reality is, it ain’t all sunshine and rainbows.  ITS OKAY.  Its okay and this verse reminds me of that.

Clearly, even the forever-put-on-a-pedestal “Proverbs 31” woman was busy.  Homegirl wasn’t idle (but for real, y’all, did someone say bread? hashtag all the carbs), so I’m willing to bet that sometimes she was tired with a side of busy.  For me though, the real kicker is verse 28: “Her children arise and call her blessed; Her husband also, and he praises her.”

One day, my little people are going to be big people and those big people are going to do big things.  They’re going to be lawyers or garbage men or teachers or MMA fighters (if this trend with my redhead keeps up) and I want them to use those gifts for Christ and to bring Him honor in their life’s work.  What better way to teach than to lead by example?!

SO, while I would love for my 4-year-old to arise and call me blessed instead of arising and complaining about what we’re eating for breakfast, what I’m doing matters.  I’m sowing seeds that will be ready for harvest before I know it.

From the toddler trenches,

Autumn

Love & Sips

Love & Sips

So, according to WordPress, this is my first blog post.  Except it isn’t because I must have started and stopped blogging a thousand times before (insert eye roll. I’m basic, I know.).  I feel like I’m at the point in my life where God is teaching me things that I don’t want to forget.  Taking me through times I will need to look back on. That’s my main goal for this blog.  To remember.  The good, the bad, the ugly;  of my walk with the Lord, my relationship with my husband and my journey through motherhood and homeschooling.  With three kids, my brain is pretty much shot these days (what is my third kid’s birthday? ummm…), so what better way to remember than to cement it in my mind by writing it (typing it?) and being able to look back on it.  If it can bring someone else encouragement, that’s pretty legit, too.  So if you like coffee, kids, chaos and Jesus… you’ve come to the right place.  If you like organization tips, meals that your kids will devour, and fashion tips… Pinterest steered you wrong, sister!

Love & sips,

Autumn