my thoughts on messy things.

Screen Shot 2014-01-24 at 12.40.10 PMIn the last few years, I’ve learned that people will always let me down, always. Real Relationships are hard, messy and at some point the other person will hurt me.

I used to think “if they hurt me, their loss” and move on.

But, the reality of that–it gets pretty lonely. Again, EVERYONE you are in REAL relationships with will hurt you at some point.
and the truth is, at some point, I too will hurt them.

So what’s my other option? Forgive so that I may also receive forgiveness. It’s really that easy, and that hard.

Gal 6:1 says, “Live creatively, friends. If someone falls into sin, forgivingly restore him, saving your critical comments for yourself. You might be needing forgiveness before the day’s out. Stoop down and reach out to those who are oppressed. Share their burdens, and so complete Christ’s law. If you think you are too good for that, you are badly deceived.” (MSG)

I’ve expected perfection from others while being substantially less than perfect.

I’m thankful for grace. I’m thankful that others showed me grace when I had none. I’m learning that offering grace isn’t just about forgiving so that I can have forgiveness–but that Christ can use my forgiving spirit to heal my own heart and to keep it soft-and alive.

I’ve chosen the lonely isolated road. And it hurt, and there was no repair.
Now, I’m choosing the vulnerable real messy road. And it hurts (and it’s sometimes awkward), but there is healing beyond what I’ve ever imagined. I’m watching other people grow, develop and change because I am staying for the messy when common sense says “leave”.

There is a gentle breeze of magical Christ movement in my midst-and I’m sad I missed out on it for so long.

Non-Pinterest Christmas

561628_10151832417414077_938436229_nI LOVE Christmas.

I love the music. the tree. the food.

But, my favorite thing is to sit in the dark with only the lights shimmering and read.

I love Christmas so much-that I have about 75,000 things pinned to my pinterest account. I’m absolutely positive they’ll continue to sit in my “Winter Wonderland” folder, but they’re pretty and I like thinking that maybe when I have a lot of time (puh-lease) I may actually get to do one, just one.

We’re a week into the holiday season, and we JUST bought our tree. It’s sitting in our living room completely bare, but we’ve got a tree. I’m WAY ahead of my usual holiday schedule, I’ve actually purchased a total of 1 gift so far. Small victories, people, small victories.

For me AND I’m sure it is for you as well-Christmas can be exhausting. I’m kind of dreading it with eager anticipation, if that’s even possible.

Despite my families lack of holiday effort, this week we did have our first advent activity. Cole and I were realistic (this is more him than me–I had about 2500 pinned advent activities), WE (I mean he) said, “let’s plan for once a week and make it600332_10151832418094077_877174732_n as fun and short for our kids this year.

We had our minds set on reading Luke 2:12 “Don’t be Afraid! I’m here to tell you with great joy: a savior has been born in Bethlehem. You find him in a manger wrapped in snuggly warm clothes” (The Chambers Chaos version) Then, we were to sing “Away in a Manger” together as a family. And, pull out the Little People Nativity Set great grandpa had sent us.

Sounds easy and fun, right? Let me just share how this whole endeavor ended up.

With little antsy pants kiddos, we immediately scrapped the “scripture reading”, for a more hands on approach. Little baby white (my daughter has named everything her favorite color-and baby white is also wearing a white jumpsuit) was wrapped up quickly in a kitchen towel. My husband, in his speaking to toddler voice, says,”See, it little Baby Jesus wrapped up in snuggly clothes”.

They got it! They all began passing around Baby White and saying, “oooooooo, Baby Jesus wearing snuggly clothes”.

It was precious.

1461206_10151827054874077_1385558072_nThen, Cole and I, although we do have some musical capabilities, led a very off-key “Away in a Manager”. It was quickly led astray by a 6 yr old who didn’t full know the song or the tune. We tried, oh how we tried to stay on beat. But realistically, musically, it was a mess.  A

After our first, “Away in a Manger, no crib for a bed”, Cadence began to cry (we were that bad), Addie began to giggle hysterically (we were truly that bad) and Judah intermittently cried and said with a little lisp, “Shhhhhhhhh”.

Can’t. make. this. up.

Despite tears, being “sh”ushed, we made it through all 3 verses and choruses.

Out came that Nativity scene and out came the bloodshed. It was all “They may take our lives, but they’ll never take our freedom!” up in the Chambers home. (My husband will be so pleased that I inserted a Braveheart quote).

I mean, in all my history of little nativity scenes, the angel is the most coveted piece. WRONG.

In our house, it’s the donkey and Mary.

So, after breaking up World War III, we sent the kids to bed. And collapsed onto the couch.1459210_10151827054879077_2139371829_n

Sounds exhausting right? The truth is–it was the least exhausting thing we’ve done. Hear me out here: It was real, it was raw, and it didn’t rely on our skills musically, parentally, or any sort of gifting we’ve been given.

As we sat in full recovery mode Cole and I came to one conclusion: “That was a mess. But, it was so refreshing. What is we stopped doing x, y, and z and just did this? What if the whole month of December looked like this?”

I think sometimes we create “pinterest” worthy ideas of what Christmas should look like-and it’s really exhausting attempting it. From their spot, the ornaments and decor is removed, and we internally sigh, so grateful that it’s over.

But, when we take away the glitter, the busy, and we allow the real raw exposure of mess is when we find rest and worship, true worship.

Our women’s group, At The Well, get’s its name because the well has historically been a gathering place for women. Also, because there was a single woman who came exhausted and empty on her own life. For the record–her life didn’t look like pinterest, so I know we would’ve been really great friends, in fact, she might’ve been my best friend.

But, she came to gather her water at a time of day where women didn’t gather, a time that implied she wasn’t welcome there. Jesus said two things to her. First, he said, “Everyone who drinks this water will get thirsty again and again. Anyone who drinks the water I give will never thirst-not ever. The water I give will be an artesian spring within, gushing fountains of endless life.” A few moments later he said, “It’s who you are and the way you live that counts before God. Your worship must engage your spirit in the pursuit of truth. That’s the kind of people the Father is looking out for: those who are simply and honestly themselves before him in their worship. God is sheer being itself-Spirit. Those who worship him must do it out of their very being, their spirits, their true selves, in adoration.”

1456126_10151837274614077_1917054583_nJesus already knew what I learned this week. HE wants what you have-an empty vessel ready to be filled and to be refreshed by worshipping Him. He wants your Christmas to be merry and bright-but not because you added more “stuff” or you used enough gold glitter on your wooden block reindeer outline-but because you came before him offering absolutely nothing-but your worship, true worship.

I know my Christmas story is cute and funny-but what I want you to know I that my really empty truly exhausting moments were. not. pleasant. OR cute. In fact, they were long and hard. My marriage almost imploded, my dreams for my family lost in one hospital visit, Spiritual giants in my life letting me down leading me to question my faith. Those places weren’t beautiful-they were empty and painful.

But you know what else they were?

1468742_10151832418539077_1349242510_nThey were the moments in my life where Jesus was the most present. Where HE and not I came in and became my source. Looking back, that’s where my faith took root and grew exponentially. They were moments where I had nothing to offer-I was empty, I NEEDED Jesus.

Last week during church service for Advent, we talked about God being a God for rock-bottom people. I’m so thankful for that–because I’m a rock-bottom person.

I’ll say it again: I’m a rock-bottom person. And, yet, the beautiful thing about Christmas is that Jesus came in the humblest way to free ME-to allow me to worship.

I am now FREE, to spend my days and my life empty so He can fill me.

It’s okay to be a rock-bottom person, it really is. I challenge you this holiday season to be rock-bottom, to lay everything down, to come broken and be at the well with Jesus. Let Him fill you up.

Don’t let your skills, pinterest, or a hallmark card define what Christmas should be.

Isaiah 40:28-30 says,

God doesn’t come and go.

God lasts.

He’s Creator of all you can see or imagine. He doesn’t get tired out, doesn’t pause to catch his breath.

And he knows everything, inside and out. He energizes those who get tired, gives strength to dropouts.

For even young people tire and drop out, young folk in their primes stumble and fall. But those who wait upon God get fresh strength.

1454590_10151837275074077_1703579249_nThey spread their wings and soar like eagles, The run and don’t get tired, they walk and don’t lag behind.

What if we stopped doing x, y, and z and just did this? What if our December looked. just.like.this?

The Lonely Heart

IMG_5388Life, sometimes, is a consuming fire. Torn between the constant decisions, deadlines, toddlers needing to go “big gerl potty”, misbehavior addressed, the timer beeping, prioritizing relationships (unfortunately), and it just keeps going. Too many decisions, too many people needing me.

I’m feeling slightly overwhelmed, overworked, and despite being surrounded by people; frankly, I feel alone. Not because I am alone, or because people haven’t been there. But, mostly because even when I’m with people my brain is working at the next to-do list or daunting task that needs completion. I haven’t been able to turn it off.

Feeling alone is never a good thing.

It’s where icky thoughts and doubt creep in. It’s where sin gains momentum.

In the quiet places of my soul this morning, despite the children running around me and lonely aches, I heard a still small voice saying to me, “Loneliness is caused by lack of focus”

And I was reminded of a Father’s prayer for his son:

“And give my son Solomon an uncluttered and focused heart so that he can obey what you command, live by your directions and counsel, and carry through with building The Temple for which I have provided.” 1 Chronicles 29:14-19 (MSG)

And it became my prayer,

Dear Jesus,

Image

Give me an uncluttered and focused heart that I may obey your commands, live by your directions and counsel and to carry on and worship you with the whole me, not a distracted lonely me. Amen.

And, I’m praying it for you today, that you to would find focus, to focus on the one important thing, that your loneliness would be soothed by the balm of the Most High. That you, like me, despite the noise in your life would as Jesus says, ““Here’s what I want you to do: Find a quiet, secluded place so you won’t be tempted to role-play before God. Just be there as simply and honestly as you can manage. The focus will shift fromyou to God, and you will begin to sense his grace.” Matt 6:6 (MSG)

Mommy Mayhem: Finding the Artistry

Mommy Mayhem

For info on the Mommy Mayhem Series click here.

By Lacey Pires

For as long as I can remember my heart’s desire was always to be a stay at home mom. I was the 12 year old walking around with someone else’s toddler on my hip. I’ve never had any desire to further my education or to have a career. I knew that my life would be my children. Over time, I painted this beautiful picture of what my life as a Mother would look like.

010And then, when I was suddenly and unexpectedly pregnant all of those plans and dreams seemed to shatter. My husband was in school full time and I knew that we would not be able to provide for our daughter unless I went back to work.

My first three months with Rayne felt like a beautiful (and exhausting) dream. Everything in my world felt so complete. And then, my maternity leave ended. I had an amazing support system in my husband and in-laws, but my heart was still sad and bitter.

My work life intensified. I was promoted which meant more responsibility and more time away from my family. My 8 hour days stretched into 12 or 13 hour days. The more success I found at work the more guilt I felt at home. I ran myself into the ground trying to spend enough time with Rayne, clean, cook, try to sneak in a few minutes with my husband, fall into bed exhausted and then start all over again.

As two years passed, I missed precious milestones. Her first time crawling, her first steps, and her first words. With every passing day, the guilt and pain grew heavier and heavier. I felt as if my life’s purpose was sitting in my hands and yet slipping through my fingers all at the same time. I was failing her. I was not the Mom I imagined I would be.

One day during an emotional meltdown (there were many) I cried to my husband (for the 100th time) that all I wanted was to stay home with my daughter. I felt like I wasn’t living out my purpose and it was tearing me to pieces. I didn’t even know who I was anymore. He finally said to me “Lacey, it’s not realistic for you to be a stay at home mom. You’ve been holding on to this idea that just can’t happen Pires-3Editedand if you don’t let go and accept it than it will continue to poison you.” WHAT? How could he say such a thing? Give up my heart? My soul? My purpose?

And then I heard the Lord whisper, “Aren’t I your heart, your soul, your purpose?” GULP. I hesitantly whispered a “yes.” “Isn’t Rayne really mine? Don’t you trust me with her?” GULP! “Let go, Lacey. My plan is better.”

It took several similar conversations before I had a breaking moment of surrender. I cried out all of the bitterness that was weighing down my heart. I asked the Lord to help me embrace this season of my life instead of merely surviving it. And for the first time since my daughter’s birth, I felt an enormous wave of peace flood over me.

My whole view of myself changed that day. Suddenly, I wasn’t a bad Mom or a failing Mom. I didn’t have to live up to an expectation that I had placed on myself at 12 years old. I could simply be Rayne’s mommy – without restrictions on what that meant. I had a blank canvas.

I still struggle with leaving my daughter. I still feel pain when I miss a milestone or when my husband texts me because the first words out of my daughter’s mouth in the morning are “Oh no…Mama at work.”

However, I also recognize that I have grown in leaps and bounds. I have been stretched and I have faced fears and insecurities that I did not realize I could overcome. And (GULP) it’s made me a much better Mother to my daughter. There were so many things that I needed (and still need) to learn and overcome in order to be the Mom that Rayne needs me to be.

Now I give myself permission to be happy as a full time working Mom. I give myself permission to enjoy every moment with my daughter and then kiss her and walk out the door for work. God knew I would have to be a working Mom from the beginning. He chose to gift me with Rayne when he did. And he has re-made me in ways that only he could in the midst of it.

I clung to my paintbrush believing that I could paint the most beautiful picture. But, I forgot that I serve the greatest artist of all. I encourage you to let go of your paintbrush and let the true artist paint you a masterpiece. It may not look like you wanted it to, but I guarantee it will hold more beauty and depth than anything you can create yourself.

Pires-21I’m Lacey. I am continually learning about myself. I serve an amazing God whose loving forgiveness has forever changed me. I am the mommy of a very feisty 2 1/2 yr old. I am married to the love of my life who is my constant support and my very best friend. I am a supervisor at a fast paced medical clinic. I absolutely love to bake and my pipe dream would be to someday own my own bakery. I love to write and blog as well. That’s pretty much me in a nutshell!

Mommy Mayhem: Finding Grace and Growing Up

Mommy Mayhem


Mommy Mayhem is a blog series leading up to Mother’s Day 2013 meant to encourage and bless women as we experience the good and bad chaos that comes with being a mom.  This series has many guest blogs from women in many walks of life: stay at home moms, working moms, moms with grown children, and moms with young children. My request in this is that my readers use  the comment section to bless woman with encouragement and blessings. These woman aren’t professional writers, they are just like you (and me) women simply sharing their journey! If you like, feel free to share and bless other Mom’s experiencing the mayhem of life! (See Posts 1234, here)

Screen Shot 2013-05-03 at 11.11.34 AMAs beautiful, wonderful, and exciting as it can be, being a mom is hard. Really hard (as you mothers already know).  As in, why wasn’t anyone brave enough to be real with me about just how incredibly hard it is to be a mother, especially of very little ones?

I thought I was prepared to be a mother, and quite confident that I was going to make a pretty darn good one, thank you very much. I considered myself a fairly steady personality, patient, creative, with years of nannying experience to help me out. Ha. When our beautiful daughter was born, although life was very different from what I expected and things were hard, I knew I was going to be ok.

Even in the midst of doubting my ability to be a mom, I knew deep down I could do this, I was cut out for this, and I loved being a mother. There were many moments of joy, watching my little girl play and learn and grow.

When our son came along, it was quite the surprise. We had definitely wanted another baby but hadn’t expected to have our children 14 mos apart! I kept hearing helpful motherly advice that littles so close together are really hard in the beginning but then it gets way easier as they get older. I suppose I’m just at the beginning because….it’s still really hard.

I mean, yes, it’s been challenging trying to figure out how to care for a home and manage to get everyone fed and clothed and semi-clean, while clambering over mountains of laundry, and digging your way through piles of dishes. But I’ve been learning, and each fear is conquered one at a time. Giving them both meals at the same time. Taking them both on outings by myself. Giving them both a bath at the same time. Some days I do okay, other days I feel like a failure.

While things things have been hard. The hardest part of mothering has been….me. They say motherhood changes you, and that is as true as true comes, but what happens when you don’t realize how hard you’re fighting the change, even while loving being a mom?

What do you do when the change is an emotional roller coaster, transforming you into someone you don’t recognize, someone short-tempered and critical, frustrated and ungentle, easily angered….without grace?

Suddenly, I found myself with my beautiful baby boy, all light and smiles no matter what was going on around him, and I was being rough and harsh for no other reason than I was frustrated. It frightened me, so much so, that I found myself in tears more often than not. What if my children remember me this way, this joy-less, irritated, angry person?

One day, after curled in the fetal position under my covers as my children were finally, if briefly, asleep, I called my sister in desperation. Wise, gracious, gentle, she herself had fought her way through post-partem depression so severe that she had reconsidered having more children. She put words to what I could not. “You feel like…you’re drowning.” But how could I, me, possibly have post-partem depression? Six months after my little guy was born? I was the least likely person I could think of, and yet, it was true.

It’s hard to mother the way you long to when you don’t know if you’re still…you.

I would find myself trying to put my sweet little man to bed, and he was telling me his needs the only way he knew how – crying and crying and crying – and anger would spring up in my heart so suddenly it nearly took my breath away. More than once, I had to slowly set him down and step back, breathing a desperate prayer for God to free me from the anger that had no place in my heart or home.

How was I to teach my beautiful son how to be gentle if I offered noScreen Shot 2013-05-03 at 11.11.44 AM gentleness? How would he ever learn about grace, the overwhelming all-consuming grace that our heavenly Father holds out unreservedly to us, if I never gave freely of it? I felt so ashamed. Yet, I’m so thankful that God in His wisdom saw fit to make me a mother –not just so that I could help my children grow up, but so that He could help me to grow up.

I used to love working with ceramics in high school – it was one of the best classes I’ve ever taken. As we were working with the clay, little by little it would dry out and harden, even if we tried to keep it wet and soft enough to be pliable. If a piece of work wasn’t forming right and becoming too hard, we had to break it down, crush it completely, and throw it into a big bin full of ruined projects and water…a sloppy, mucky mess. After a few days at the bottom of the bin, the clay began to soften again, and could be scooped out, the water worked and kneaded out of it, and once again it was soft, pliable, willing clay.

The challenges of motherhood have allowed me to see that I’ve been that piece that hardened before it could be fully made, dried out by my own apathy and busyness, made unyielding by my pride and need to be in control. The only way for me to be made into Christ’s likeness is to be completely unmade out of mine. And here I am, at the bottom of the muck bin, a broken version of myself, but I am being remade. One day at a time, one failure at a time, one humbling moment at a time.

In that remaking, the prayer of my heart is that God would fill me to overflowing with His astounding, undeserved grace so that I can pour out grace to my children.

I am not the mother I want to be. I don’t know how. But, I was made by a great and loving Father who desires the best for me and my family, who created this role of motherhood, and formed me with my children in mind. He is faithful to answer our cries, to give wisdom when we ask, and to change us when we cannot change ourselves, to teach us how to mother our children, to grow us up.

We need Him as mothers, desperately.

I suppose there are a few lucky ones out there who figured that out early on and perhaps have had a smoother journey into motherhood, but for the more stubborn ones of us, He loves us enough to let us journey down into the dark pit of self so that we can realize the empty road we’ve taken alone, and find that we cannot accomplish our calling as mothers this way. Then we find ourselves on our knees, finally, crushed and broken and a mess of tears and sweatpants and leftover Cheerios, and our need for Him is finally, truly known. It is acute. It is devastating. It is freeing. It is the only thing that can unmake us so that we can be made again into the mothers He alone has called us to be. And He kneels down next to us, His own precious children, with outstretched loving arms and grace-filled eyes, waiting for us to finally run to Him instead of away.

The truth of it is, when you get down to the core of things, being a mother is a high, hard, beautiful calling. The truth is we are only human; our efforts alone will always fall short, but we serve a big God full of grace with whom all thing -all things- ARE possible!

Screen Shot 2013-05-03 at 11.12.09 AMIn all my free time (haha), I’ve been reading a book by Sarah Mae & Sally Clarkson called Desperate: Hope for the Mom Who Needs to Breathe. If you are a mom, and life is hard and you don’t have it all figured out like you’ve convinced your fellow playgroup moms you do, you need to read this book.

This season of my life has challenged me to fall at the feet of the One who loves my children even more than I do, who loves me even at my worst moments, who is faithful to change me and remake me. In one of the first chapters, Sarah Mae says, “My kids don’t need to see a supermama. They need to see a mama who needs a Super God”, and later adds that “godly parenting is fueled by God’s grace, not my efforts.” This has resounded over and over in my mind and heart – I am only human, and my efforts alone will always fall short, but I serve a big God full of grace with whom all things – all things – are possible. Part of the gift of this book is the encouragement that we do not have to do this high, hard calling of motherhood alone. God meant for us to travel this journey with other moms, being real and teaching and learning and edifying one another for His glory and for the sake of our families. It has reminded me again of all of the beauty of motherhood, made more exquisite as He grows not only our children, but us as well, and He gives grace abundantly to those who ask.

About the author:

Screen Shot 2013-05-03 at 11.11.52 AMHeidi is 28 years old and lives in Stanwood, WA with her wonderful husband Isaac and their two beautiful children, Jolie & Gideon. She’s a stay-at-home mom who gives piano lessons during naptime, loves music and late-night singing with her husband, and enjoying God’s magnificent creation outdoors. She grew up as a missionary kid to the Marshall Islands in Micronesia and in Laos, next to Thailand, before moving with her family to CO and then adventuring out to the great Pacific Northwest to study music in college. Isaac & Heidi met at Northwest University, and have now been married for 5 wonderful years.

Mommy Mayhem: Finding the One Thing It Takes

Mommy Mayhem

 Mommy Mayhem is a blog series leading up to Mother’s Day 2013 meant to encourage and bless women as we experience the good and bad chaos that comes with being a mom.  This series has many guest blogs from women in many walks of life: stay at home moms, working moms, moms with grown children, and moms with young children. My request in this is that my readers use  the comment section to bless woman with encouragement and blessings. These woman aren’t professional writers, they are just like you (and me) women simply sharing their journey! If you like, feel free to share and bless other Mom’s experiencing the mayhem of life! (See Posts 1, 2, 3, 4 here)

By Nicole Zinn

I sat with my grieving, ever-so-long-time friend. Her son, for whom I had watched her struggle and agonize over the years, had just been diagnosed with Aspergers’ Syndrome – in the days when they called it that, before those diagnoses all became ASD. She knew my life, my family. At the moment, she specifically knew of my son, my precious Tillman, with cerebral palsy, autism, borderline mental impairment. She knew also of the source of my strength, my gracious Lord Jesus – a Lord she did not yet share. She looked up at me with eyes full of pain and said those words that haunt the heart of every mother – “I just hope that I have what it takes.” And I sat quiet, loving her intensely – “Oh, my friend.” Deep breath. “You don’t. You don’t have what it takes. And I don’t have what it takes. Let me tell you Who does.”

Screen Shot 2013-04-30 at 9.23.22 PM Permit me to introduce myself and my family. My name is Nicole and this summer I will celebrate 15 years of marriage to Brian, the man whom I have battled, undermined, neglected – who has loved me unspeakably well, anyway, and without whom I don’t know who I would be. Our oldest child is also the newest to our family – 15 year old Amber, who joined us three years ago in her own season of grief. Eleven year old Tillman is next, whom you have already met – followed 40 minutes later by his twin sister Celeste. And rounding out our family in all kinds of crazy ways are twin ten year old brothers, Andrew and Caleb. Yes, you read that right. Five kids. Two sets of twins. I’ve been known to say that Brian and I got as far as deciding we were ready to have ONE child – and that is as much of the planning as God has ever had us participate in. Let me tell you – I do not have what it takes.

A number of years ago, in a winter of particular discontent, with four babies at my feet, I mounted a war of expectations against my husband. Now… I am a warrior to be reckoned with, and ever-so-strong though he is, I ensured that he could not win. My siege-works were mounted against his defenses, and there would be no quarter for him.

But… the Lord, he is a warrior, the Lord Almighty is his name. His breath lays bare the foundations of the earth – and this is what he breathed to me, quiet and terrible at once: “The wise woman, Nicole, the wise woman builds her house. But with her own hands, her own hands, Nicole, the foolish one tears hers down.” (Proverbs 14:1) My selfishness! Laid bare. My self-righteousness! Laid bare. My petty, grasping, unloving, ungrateful, desperate, wounded, bleeding, weary heart… laid bare.

And I knew in that moment what I share now with you. I am both of those women. I am the wise woman who loves and plans and prays and labors for my family as an expert builder… And I am the woman who systematically sets out to tear down everything that I love most, with my own strong hands, cynical blow by cynical blow. Truth? The truth is that Destroyer, that one who tears down, is my nature. Left alone, that is where I will go every. single. time. Listen to the gale that roars from my lips as I hurry my children to their schedule – and tear at their character at the same time. Watch the flames that burn from my eyes as I char those bridges painstakingly Screen Shot 2013-04-30 at 9.23.31 PMbuilt. Hear the blades that whistle toward my husband – and then cry out with me – Who will rescue me from this body of death?!??

That great church-builder, Paul, had the same question. He wrestled with his own dual identity, his own one who tears down nature. And he had one answer… Jesus. Paul tells us that the mind, or the thinking, of his nature brought death, but Jesus transformed his mind, transformed his thinking, so that he brought life and peace. (Romans 7-8)

Life and peace… The Lord, he is a warrior, the Lord Almighty is his name, laying bare that nature of death in us… so that we can end our wars, and be those who bring life and peace. So that we can end our tearing down, and be those who build up.

But, how (I have asked… and you might as well), how can my thinking be transformed? Many seem to place their faith in Jesus and do not live this building-up life. How, how does Jesus do this in me?

In the fall of 2003, years after committing my life to Christ, years after setting out in faltering pursuit of time with God in his Word and in prayer, with a son and daughter barely two years old, two six month old baby boys, and constant medical appointments for our Tillman… In that fall of 2003, my husband and I took a step. We took our faltering, back and forth, up and down, private devotional lives and moved them into community. We committed with a group of like-minded pursuers to meet weekly over the course of nine months for discussion of an in-depth Bible study done daily. Accountable now to the group, challenged to continue to encounter God in season and out of season, we built habits (Real habits! Steady habits!) of drawing away to sit at the feet of Jesus and be shaped by his words. Habits of actively allowing him to transform our thinking.

Nearly ten years later, we are still there – now, with our children.

(Did you catch that season that our children were in? Please don’t tell me you need to wait for an easier season of life!)

Do you know what happens over time when you build habits of drawing away to sit at Jesus’ feet in time of prayer and Bible study?

Jesus said it best (as usual!): “I will show you what it’s like when someone comes to me, listens to my teaching, and then follows it. It is like a person building a house who digs deep and lays the foundation on solid rock. When the floodwaters rise and break against that house, it stands firm because it is well built. But anyone who hears and doesn’t obey is like a person who builds a house without a foundation. When the floods sweep down against that house, it will collapse into a heap of ruins.” (Luke 6:47-49)

In Matthew, Jesus calls that person wise. A wise person has let Jesus transform their thinking.

By God’s grace, Paul thinking was transformed and Jesus gave him what it took to build a church. By God’s grace, my thinking is transformed and Jesus gives me what it takes to build a family.

We have known floodwaters. There are parts of our story that would make your heart sick and your body weary, just as there have been those kinds of parts to your story. I have no doubt that there will be more. But our house stands firm. It is well built on solid rock, being built up more and more all the time. Sometimes I start to tear it down again, but habits of time with Jesus once again transform my thinking, and I pick back up those tools and begin to rebuild.

Screen Shot 2013-04-30 at 9.23.40 PMLet me say to you now, “Oh, friend.” Deep breath. “You don’t have what it takes. And I don’t have what it takes. Let me tell you Who does.”

Whatever it takes… find a friend to help you, a community group. Ruthlessly comb through your schedule. Mercilessly discipline yourself. Whatever it takes. Get wisdom. Get transformed thinking. Get time at the feet of Jesus.

Mommy Mayhem: Finding the Joy

Mommy Mayhem

Mommy Mayhem is a blog series leading up to Mother’s Day 2013 meant to encourage and bless women as we experience the good and bad chaos that comes with being a mom.  This series has many guest blogs from women in many walks of life: stay at home moms, working moms, moms with grown children, and moms with young children. My request in this is that my readers use  the comment section to bless woman with encouragement and blessings. These woman aren’t professional writers, they are just like you (and me) women simply sharing their journey! If you like, feel free to share and bless other Mom’s experiencing the mayhem of life!

By me (Ashley the official Chambers Chaos Blogger)

SO, me and Jesus, we had a chat. It went something like this,

“I’m just tired Lord, stinkin’ tired.

My kids are acting terriible, I lost my temper about 60 times today. I feel like I just can’t do this–I will ruin my kids.Why did you give me Screen Shot 2013-05-02 at 8.06.42 PMso many so close together. I am a terrible frazzled mother. This isn’t fair.

And frankly, Lord (You know, because adding Lord–makes my complaints righteous), doing dishes twice a day sucks, and I’m 4 loads behind in laundry. The kids haven’t bathed in 4 days, and I just don’t want to do this. Obviously, Lord (again-righteousness), being a stay at home mom was a terrible idea.

I also failed miserable at ministering to those ladies this week–I didn’t exactly teach them anything good. In fact, I lost my temper with my children in front of some of them. You definately picked the WRONG person.

And also Lord, my husband and I are just not getting along. We just keep arguing and I just want peace, but I’m too tired to try to talk nicely. I’m too frazzled to attempt peace, why can’t he just understand that? I’m just resigning.

And Jesus (gotta switch it up), I know that you want me to do those things with a grateful heart and serve you by serving them, but I just can’t want to. I am done–there’s nothing left. NOTHING.

So take it Lord take it all. Give me peace and give me strength and give me something–because what you gave me isn’t working. Amen”

The Holy Spirit wasn’t silent for long.

In fact, God sometimes speaks boldly through me parenting Screen Shot 2013-05-02 at 8.05.19 PMmy children.

This week my 5 yr old (and, I suppose, I’d earn the adult version) of “Mostest Complaints”as Oren would say.

In a 25 minute time frame while getting ready for a trip to the zoo, he complained about having to wear “hard pants” (btw, these are jeans. Soft pants = sweats or elastic waist pants), a short sleeved shirt, socks, socks with shoes, sandals with no socks, sweatshirt, wearing underwear, not wearing underwear because they were too small, too big, too itchy, too irritating…etc etc etc etc.

(“Official pity party–now taking membership applications. Inquire within.” Should read the sign that hung on my door this week.)

I told Oren, “you know, there are kids all over the world who don’t have clothes. They have one shirt and pray for shoes. If you can’t stop complaining and praise Jesus for what you have then I’m sending all your clothes to those kids”.

Now, please hear me, I usually don’t take this approach.

My son, bless his heart, started crying that there were kids that didn’t have clothes. (bad choice momma). But more so he cried, “But mom I’ll be naked. So maybe I’ll wear these and then we can send something else”.

I told him that he needed to make peace with his clothing and be thankful. So we prayed. (And, I suppose now were sending some stuff overseas–which isn’t a problem, but now I definately have to follow through!)

Then a still small bold (maybe slightly irritating) voice said, “I think maybe you have the same problem-be thankful, Ash, be thankful. My blessings abound in your life–look for those”

gulp.

But, Jesus wasn’t done speaking to this issue in my heart.Screen Shot 2013-05-02 at 8.06.06 PM

During small group on Sunday morning, we were reading Galatians chapter 4:

Paul criticizes the church in Galatia, by basically saying, “Stop stop stop! You are adding to the gospel more things than are necessary. The people you are listening to, their voices are wrong. Listen to me. The things in your past enslaved you, but you are free from them. Don’t go there again.”

In verse 15, Paul questions them saying, “Where is your joy? You’ve lost it. You used to care for things equally as hard…but you did it with exponential desire and care. You had joy.” (PS these are from the Ashley paraphrase–not at all scholarly)

gulp….

 Focus on worshipping me,  serving me, and all those things will happen because you do them for me. Find joy in them because they are all blessings. 

Lord, I am sorry.

I am loved. I am known. I am adopted, wanted, cherished. I have heaven as my resource, Jesus as my strength, and the Spirit as my guide. So.there’s.always.that.

Screen Shot 2013-05-02 at 8.06.28 PMAnd it’s more than enough. So let my “thankfuls” fall from my lips–let me make peace with my difficult situations and let my life be glory-filled.

Mommy Mayhem: Finding the Drive

Mommy Mayhem

Mommy Mayhem is a blog series leading up to Mother’s Day 2013 meant to encourage and bless women as we experience the good and bad chaos that comes with being a mom.  This series has many guest blogs from women in many walks of life: stay at home moms, working moms, moms with grown children, and moms with young children. My request in this is that my readers use  the comment section to bless woman with encouragement. These woman aren’t professional writers, they are just like you (and me) women simply sharing their journey! If you like, feel free to share and bless other Mom’s experiencing the mayhem of life!

By Courtnay Phillips

IMG_1399For years, I found myself chuckling at all those women who hired nannies when they were stay at home mothers. Why would they hire a nanny when they are home themselves?

(totally judgmental, I know).

Truth be told, after many a year scoffing, I joyfully attained one of those nanny positions (for 4 years). I absolutely adored the family, but in the back of my mind, I always laughed and wondered why the heck I was there.  All the meanwhile, gladly accepting the paycheck …that is until i had my own crazy children.

Now I, a stay at home mom of 3, am in front of the pack with my hand raised high like a grade school kid, screaming “OH ME, ME. PICK ME. I WANT A NANNY”.

Though for me, it doesn’t stop with just coveting a nanny. No no, many times I think that my life would be complete and full of utter happiness if I also had my own house cleaner, personal grocery shopper, dog walker, chef, barista and therapist all in my house for 24/7 usage.

Yes folks, these things would most certainly bring the Phillips household our own sense of ‘world peace’. But seeing as to how money doesn’t grow on trees (darn) and people do not work for free (still not sure why), I am the nanny, house cleaner, grocery shopper, dog walker, chef, barista and therapist, to myself. Yes, i did just admit to talking to myself on a daily basis…‘breathe Court, just breathe’.

It is amazing to me how 3 little people can bring out the very best and very worst of me. They see my biggest strengths AND biggest weaknesses. I find myself having an overwhelming amount of patience, yet I still can manage to fully loose it the very next second.

Somedays (few and far between) I feel like I’ve accomplished greatness. I have mastered motherhood and deserve a GIANT trophy. All those other days, I fail as a mom and then compared to other moms it seems like I have failed even bigger.

The other day I was joking with a girlfriend and said, “It’s not even a matter of asking myself ‘why did i have 3 children in less then 3 1/2 years?But rather, ‘WHY did I reproduce at all’?”

Now, please don’t get me wrong, I love my children and I love being their mommy. But, if this were a normal 9-5 job, it would probably be time to find a new occupation. Especially when you’ve developed more bald spots on your head from pulling your hair out, and you feel like you have failed more then succeeded.

However.. this is NO 9-5 job and though we desperately may want to, we can not place a ‘For Sale’ sign on our children and put them in the yard.

IMG_1438So how do I usually measure success for myself? There are two things: One, that I am able to keep my cool and not blow a head gasket, spewing all sorts of crazy over my poor unsuspecting children. And, two, how many sports bras that come out of my dryer. I find myself counting as I fold them, with a growing smile as the pile gets taller–I am conquering laundry and it means I’m working out!

Though I fully believe there is a correlation between physical activity and ‘mommy sanity’, this is not, and can not, be the sole thing to keep an overtired, overworked, underpaid and under appreciated mom going strong.

The hugeness of motherhood can often leave me with little left to give, ok truthfully it’s nothing left to give. But my days cant be measured in worth just because all the fights have been broken up, the sharpie is off the wall, the month old milk stain is cleaned up and the gum wad is finally out of the baby’s hair. I need something more–not just to shower every 3 days or to wipe off that week old make-up (though those things are important).

But, Jesus proclaimed that his success is measured differently, I must allow Him to  fill my soul. How can I expect to have an unending amount of patience when I am more worried about sports bras than about how much time I’ve spent with Christ that day? How can I expect that my children will be madly in love with Jesus if I am not?

If I’m not walking with Jesus daily, there are few good things that I ‘do’ that really matter. The Lord knew way back when he decided to make me a mother, that a nanny, a house cleaner, a chef etc, would not be the things that made me a better mom.

Most days, I try to disagree with Him with my actions, but I know down deep that He has given me a purpose with enough strength, compassion, patience, love (and caffeine) to live another day as a great mommy. That is, if i take it.

I read this quote a few months back and it now hangs in a frame in my house, “ The responsibilities are never-ending and sometimes feel all consuming. Yet the day will be won or lost, not based on my accomplishments, but rather based on my attitude.”

In my opinion, this sums motherhood up. Though for me, if it were all left up to my own personal attitude, it would still stink. Being madly in love with Jesus, draws me into a peaceful place. It is this peace that transforms my ‘attitude’. It pushes me on the become a great and respected mother and continually reminds me that I CAN do this, even through the many impossible mommy moments (and bald spots).

Jesus offers us beautiful tools and shows us the ways to His success. I’ve realized that almost all my momma-crazies dissapate when   taken the time to enter into His presence and be reminded of my true calling as a mom. Lets be honest, I am way more fun and a million times more patient when my hearts been stilled by Jesus.

As much as I would like to say, “I have a dedicated ‘Jesus time’ in my daily routine”. I simply do not. It’s always changing and developing and seems to ebb and flow with life and each new developmental stage of my littles.

Sometimes, all I have to give is a countenance of continual worship through someone else’s words. Worship music blares through my home. When I’m changing a diaper? I praise God through music. When I’m making lunch? I’m praising God through music. It is my continual reminder to shine and pray Jesus to and over my growing babes. And more importantly it fills up my very empty cup.

I often will just stop and start weeping as His presence fills my home. There is nothing else like it! Then in those few quiet moments that come so rarely, I am already surrounded by Jesus and be still and soak in Him.

There is one song in particular that has been my life prayer lately:

I lay myself at Your feet

Asking You won’t You meet

Won’t You meet me

I cannot do it on my own

I cannot do it all alone

Here I am, oh, tonight

With my arms open wide

Won’t You come inside

Won’t You come inside, God

Come and fill this heart of mine

I’m in need of You

Of Your touch, of Your life, of Your love

I need You

I need You

-Shawn McDonald

I pray these words over and over until I feel the peace of the Lord sweep down, giving me grace, mercy, understanding, compassion and LOVE for my children once again. I begin to feel my cup refilling and soul refueling. Who are we if we don’t have Jesus? What kind of moms are we if we are continually ‘doing’ so much but becoming so very little?

I have come to realize that if my day actually is ‘won or lost’ because of my attitude, then the importance of  ‘me time (our Jesus time)‘ is huge! There is not enough time in life for us to become spiritual pretenders. Motherhood IS all consuming, the responsibilities ARE never ending, but when we put Christ first, suddenly the mommy insanity lessens and our love and compassion grows.

Do not let being a mom be your crutch and excuse as to why you don’t have the time to grow closer to Him, but instead let it be your drive! After all, if we aren’t madly in love with Jesus, then our children may never be either. I don’t know about you… but I want nothing more then my children to love and adore our creator, so I will make the time! Be pushed, be uplifted, find peace (so you can offer peace) and let your attitude reflect HIM.

Isaiah 48: 16-19 says, “And now, the Master, God, sends me and his Spirit

with this Message from God,
your Redeemer, The Holy of Israel:
“I am God, your God,
who teaches you how to live right and well.
I show you what to do, where to go.
If you had listened all along to what I told you,
your life would have flowed full like a river,
blessings rolling in like waves from the sea.
Children and grandchildren are like sand,
your progeny like grains of sand.IMG_5471
There would be no end of them,
no danger of losing touch with me.”

I am 28 years old and lived in Seattle for the past 14 years. Married to my dream boat for nearly 6 years. Three kids, Paislee 3.5, Sutter 2.5and Bekker 3 months. We adopted Bekker from birth and are licensed foster parents and plan to adopt more through that. I love Jesus more then anything. Without him I couldn’t be the wife or the mom that I am.

Mommy Mayhem: Finding a Cheerful Heart

Mommy MayhemMommy Mayhem is a blog series leading up to Mother’s Day 2013 meant to encourage and bless women as we experience the good and bad chaos that comes with being a mom.  This series has many guest blogs from women in many walks of life: stay at home moms, working moms, moms with grown children, and moms with young children. My request in this is that my readers use  the comment section to bless woman with encouragement and blessings. These woman aren’t professional writers, they are just like you (and me) women simply sharing their journey! If you like, feel free to share and bless other Mom’s experiencing the mayhem of life!

By Jessica Anselmi

coast 2013 003

Momma, can I have a yogurt?

Mommy, I need a drink.

Mom, can you get me…you fill in the blank.

In a single day, no, hour, we can be hit with what seems like a million big or little wants and needs from our kiddos. Our God-given roles as mommies are to meet those needs and in doing so it becomes routine. How many of us even know what our child needs before they even ask? However, for me it has become so routine that I feel like a robot, who lives in the laundry room or kitchen. Haha.

Well, a week ago mommy robot was in full swing for dinner. Plates were on the table, cups were filled and seats were occupied. It had been one of those busy run around days. I think I worked that day (it was a week ago, I barely remember yesterday) and trying to get a non fast food dinner on the table was a miracle. But I did it. Yay!!! I was starving. I was the last one to sit down and just as I get a forkful of scrumptious dinner in line with my mouth, both girls asked for milk. Ugh… Ok, I understand, my fault, I should have put drinks on the table first. So to the fridge I go, I pour two glasses of cold milk, bring them back with a “here you go sweetie”. Finally food. Another forkful of food close to my mouth and Evie whines, “Momma, I wanted warm milk.”

“EEERRR!!!” just rumbled out of my mouth so quickly. I stood up from my chair once again went to heat up her milk. I could feel this anger just boiling inside of me and just doing what I wanted to do and that was eat. Just eat! Just as soon as that anger started to rise I heard, so clear, the Lord say to my heart, “Where is you cheerful heart? Do I growl at you when you ask for something?”

139Shame filled me. Repentance spilled out of me. Here I teach my children to be helpers to others with a joyful heart even when sometimes they don’t want to. How is it that I missed my own encouraging? I stood in the kitchen for what seemed like an eternity, wishing I could go lock myself in the bathroom and be done for the night. However, the Lord used that moment to expose my attitude and correct it. Just like we would do with our children, right? Go figure.

I gave Evie her warm milk. I apologized for mommy’s bad attitude and asked for forgiveness. Hugs and kisses immediately followed.IMG_2470-1That’s the best part! Anyway, Evie and I did have a little chat about our manners and how important please and thank yous are.

It’s only been a week, but when I feel “the growl” starting to come out of my mouth I immediately think about a cheerful heart and fix my attitude. I have definitely had “fail” moments but there is nothing better than teaching moments with my kiddos. Even if my mistakes are the ones to learn from.

When the Lord spoke to me he called to mind 2 Corinthians 9:7b “for God loveth a cheerful giver.” And then, I started thinking about what Proverbs 22:6 says, “Train up a child in the way he should go, and even when he is old he will not depart from it.”

We all make mistakes! And it seems that when you have children they seem more apparent, but if I’ve learned anything from this eye opening circumstance, it’s that God uses all things to train His children and that’s what we are and who are children belong too. Amen!

My name is Jessica Anselmi (Last name pronounced exactly as it’s spelled)I’m 29, I love love love my family. I love anything crafty, Screen Shot 2013-04-29 at 9.51.04 AMcrocheting, sewing, or gardening.  I’ve known my hubby since I was 8 and I had the biggest crush on him. We have been married for 8 ½ years and are seriously best friends and still madly in love. I love it! I am a police officer’s wife. It is a hard job to do but the rewards are worth it.  We struggled with infertility for four years until the day before the specialist appointment, we found out we were pregnant and then 3 weeks later realized why I was already comfortably fitting maternity clothes at 9 weeks… because I was pregnant with twins! Three years later our girls, Locklyn and Evangeline are busy playing dress up and baby dolls and love learning new things each and every day.  I am a daughter, a sister, a wife, a mom and a friend, but more importantly I’m a daughter of the King and that is never changing. Woo hoo!!

Mommy Mayhem: Finding the Little Blessings

Mommy Mayhem

Mommy Mayhem is a blog series leading up to Mother’s Day 2013 meant to encourage and bless women as we experience the good and bad chaos that comes with being a mom.  This series has many guest blogs from women in many walks of life: stay at home moms, working moms, moms with grown children, and moms with young children. My request in this is that my readers use  the comment section to bless woman with encouragement and blessings. These woman aren’t professional writers, they are just like you (and me) women simply sharing their journey! If you like, feel free to share and bless other Mom’s experiencing the mayhem of life!

By Talitha Ernst

Raising three boys, what an honor!  This thing called motherhood has been the learning curve of a lifetime and it’s only been three and a half years (okay, 4 if you include the time this journey began with my first pregnancy). I never anticipated being the mother of three boys, each only 18 months apart.

Screen Shot 2013-04-29 at 9.19.05 AMI grew up with three sisters and had a hard time wrapping my mind around raising even one boy; it seemed so um….alien to me.  So when God, in his humor, gave me three boys, you can bet it’s been an interesting ride; thank goodness for my Encyclopedia on All Things Masculine: my Husband (Yes, he deserves the capital H; what a Hunk!). There has been more than one occasion when I sheepishly asked my Husband for his insight, one of which was potty training (I mean, come on people, initially, do those little fellas…sit or stand? What kind of toilet training seat do you buy? Oh, you mean some seats have “pee shields”?! Brilliant!)

Though this journey was not what I used to daydream about, it is no less amazing, actually it has surprised me at how perfect of a fit it is for me.  These boys captured my heart and moved right in. I have concluded that if God never gives me a girl, I won’t feel cheated in one smidge (though if He does send a stork with a she, I will happily dress her in miniature sun dresses and patent leather shoes).

So what do I love about raising my boys? Listen up ‘cause as a momma, I’m hoping you’ll be able to relate, boys or no boys:

I love their snuggles, even when they’re sweaty and their room smells like “The Pride” (as my husband so accurately describes it).

I love their giggles.

I love watching them discover new things.

I love witnessing their skills grow: from mega blocks, to duplo blocks to large legos (We’re not at the mini lego stage, thank goodness. I’m not looking forward to stepping on those in the middle of the night!).  My middle monkey is learning to talk and it IMG_1693makes me smile on a daily basis.

I love their enthusiasm and I envy their energy.

I love that our eldest of my sons is a carbon copy of his dad, our middle son has my eyes and I love that the youngest is nearly bald at 7 months old; he takes after Charlie Brown.

I love having the honor of modeling for them qualities of a God-honoring lady. One day they will need to know a “good woman when they see one.”

I love teaching them how to treat a woman.

I love their tenderheartedness.  There is something priceless about a snuggle from one of my little men.

IMG_0602I love their compliments.  What girl wouldn’t like to be called “Pretty Lady” on a regular basis?

I love it when they show interest in “pretties” and play dress-up with my jewelry because they are not old enough to realize what is commonly considered feminine vs masculine.

I love it when they pick me way-side flowers.

I love the joy that erupts from their beings every time they hop in the bathtub.  Their squeals of laughter fill me up.

DSCN6605 I love watching my little fellas emulate their daddy (affectionately called Pappi) and “work” alongside him in the garage.

This list could wrap around the block, but I think I’ll end while there is still peace in my living room as the boys are napping.  So, lastly, I love that with each child God gifts me, I am enjoying motherhood more.  The adjustment to parenthood was not easy, at times it was downright snarly.

For those of you mommas who are in the throws of first-time parenthood, take heart. As unbelievable as it may seem, I think it does get easier even with more children wreaking havoc in your living room.  The experience you gain in that first year with your first child is irreplaceable.   So, by all means, please pat yourself on the back, look in the mirror and give yourself the compliment you deserve.  What a journey you are on!  What is it that YOU love about being a momma?  What little delights do your children bring your way?

About the Author:

Talitha lives in Sandy, Oregon with her husband, Andy, and their three sons, Micah, Levi and Jireh. She loves to keep in touch withScreen Shot 2013-04-29 at 9.20.25 AM friends through the “old fashioned art” of letter writing~the kind that requires a visit to the post office for unique stamps.  After living overseas, her heart is an eclectic mix of East African, Japanese and North American cultures. A few activities on her bucket list are skydiving and feeding sharks from inside a shark cage: she on the inside, they on the outside! For the Oregonians on the planet, she is in love with a Dutch Bros Iced Kicker and for the rest of the world, she relishes a Starbucks Iced Toffee Nut Latte, unless it is terribly cold outside, then a White Chocolate Mocha will do quite well.