once upon a time at burger king and the out-takes.

43chambers14So, if you’ve ever wondered…occasionally, yes occasionally, we have bad days. Usually, they come on the heels of a great day.

4 kids dressed in somewhat decent only borderline homeless looking (or hipster looking)clothing. check.

4 kids with food crammed in their bellies and no one complaining of being hungry. check.

4 kids with socks and shoes or sandals or socks with sandals (Reminder: we are in the Pacific Northwest). check.

4 kids loaded in our new 1987 creeper van (yes, we call it this). check.Screen Shot 2014-09-17 at 2.45.32 PM Then we proceed to the dentist.

We all walk in, check in, sit down. And, we still haven’t had a temper tantrum, a whiny child or a canation (whatever this is–I’m not sure. I just know that it can be good or bad and I’m living in a toddler world, we speak on their terms).

The boys come back completely cavity free–hallelujah.

All 4 kids in the van. Celebration!

Don’t squeal too loud people will stare.

Me to them, “Oh my gosh you guys, you did it. We all did it. We were on our best behavior and we had such a great morning! Let’s go to Burger King for lunch and to play on the indoor toys since its such a hot day”. Squeals of delight.

And then we arrived, Burger King the holy grail of all things for my kiddos.

This is where it all starts to go downhill.

We unload and go potty. All of us.

We play for 20 or so minutes, eat lunch. And know what happens? My youngest pees his pants in the tunnel at the top of the playground. #facepalm

I’m outnumbered. simply outnumbered.

So, the extra pants were left in the creeper, the pee is still at the top of the tubes (and I have a very natural fear of heights), and I can’t leave 4 kids alone in Burger King  or the real creepers will creep. Hear what I’m saying?

We’ve been here for 45 min. Plenty long. It’s officially nap-time. Brilliant idea: let’s go home. 2chambers14

We proceed with fully fit throwing planking toddlers. They have figured out that if they all do it at the same time, I do not have enough arms or gusto to carry them all. But, we manage to get to the front door.

Oren looks at me and with sheer dread as he looks at the expanse of parking lot like its a giant lake of alligators, shrugs his shoulders and says, “Mom, I’m just a kid. I’m not sure how we’re going to get across this thing with them”.

Me, “Me either, buddy, me either”.

But, we buckle down. We half drag-half demand some level of cooperation and reach our vehicle.

They plank again. on.the.ground. between me and the car next to me.

As I’m unlocking my car and opening the door, some lady in her cute little car either doesn’t care or doesn’t notice the kids on the ground next to her vehicle and begins backing up. Like, going to run over my kids, backing up. I’m waving my hands trying to get her attention, while at the same time moving 3 little plankers to the front of my vehicle and literally holding them in an upright position.

She drives away.

No one is injured, and I return to opening the door and attempting to get planking children into the car.

They bolt. Yes, two of my children bolt around the front of the car. Oren chases them. I finish pushing the one child in my arms into the car and head around the back.

23chambers14My 2 runners, a chasing Oren, and a box truck are about the meet up in the middle and I’m too far away to do anything.

Picture this: A fiery 3 yr old redhead screaming in the creeper van screaming bloody murder for Burger King toys.

And me a fiery much older redhead screaming outside the creeper van, “STOP STOP STOP, EVERYBODY STOP!”

The box truck barrels through. And, I can no longer see my kids. They’ve disappeared.

I’m running towards where they should be. A woman who may have only seen the last 2 min (not the full 20 min of attempting to “control” my kids) yells from the door of Burger King in a very judgey tone, “You need to watch your kids better.” ….if looks could kill……..but, I have 3 missing kids and ain’t nobody got time for that…..

I walk around a large car to see 2 kids on the ground with an older brother on top, fighting to keep them there, he says, “Mom, I saw the truck and I had to save them. I tackled them for you”.

I’ve never been so proud, scared, frantic, and angry all at once. I wrangle, wrestle, and bribe them to the van.

I’m now sobbing in my front seat, “I’m never doing this again, I’m never doing this again. I hate burger king”.

Why am I sharing this? This is my confession to the world: my life is far from perfect, these moments are the norm. I am not capable to be the BEST mom all the time. I don’t have it figured out. I am so far removed from the term perfect. Life is sometimes just chaos. And, yet in the midst of all the chaos, I have an anchor, a calming overpowering awareness that Jesus was orchestrating all of it. That my kids ended up safe.41chambers14

And why after days like these, I am fully aware of my need for him. If it were up to me, I’d be done, thrown in the towel, and having already been crazy.

In situations like this, I’m more aware of my selfishness, my need for control and my desire to do things on my terms and how Jesus requires me to be present away from my needs, give up all control and do things on his terms. I see myself as these rowdy toddlers throwing full on planking fits, and I’m so thankful for the Father’s patience with me. Sometimes, the out-takes in our life reveals our very need for reliance on Him.

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

Mommy MayhemI’m so excited to announce that for the next several weeks leading up to Mother’s Day, I will be posting a series of blogs from friends and family and woman who are in various stages of mommy hood to share struggles, joys, and lessons that God is teaching them as they journey through the crazy mayhem of the everyday life as a mom. I’m hoping that you, like me, are encouraged that their are woman in the trenches up to their eyeballs with kids and chores and that God is shaping them just as He is for you. My request is that you my readers to comment and encourage the women who have so boldly opened up their lives for God’s glory, but also because its raw and its real, and that’s not always easy!

If you would like to submit a guest blog–please email me at ashleynchambers @ gmail. com (no spaces) for details!

Stick around….and keep checking in! I can’t help but squeal with excitement. I’ve been editing away….and trust me, it’s gonna be good!!!

Frenzied Family #3: Silence Explained, sort of.

This is both a post in the Frenzied Family series and an explanation, I suppose. If you’ve been reading long, you know that I have had a silence on posting lately. Which isn’t normal for me. Mostly, because, writing is a method to overcome the chaos.

But, after a month of illness, (one kid per week), overwhelming amounts of laundry (thanks stomach flu), a broken dryer, a ridiculously messy house, and exhaustion from no sleep for the past month. I’m taking a brief hiatus from writing to recoup emotionally, physically, spiritually and mentally.

My hubby and I are heading to Austin, TX to attend the Verge Conference 2013 and are hanging out to reconnect, energy up, and relax (how conveniently planned) and de-stress.

I’m hoping to come back a whole new sleeping (literally) beauty.

So, to tie this into my Frenzied Family Series, I just want to add that sometimes we have to cut out some stuff and recoup and make it a priority for ourselves and our families….so I’m putting it into practice.

Can’t wait to write more soon!

-Ashley

Can you relate?

 

 

Frenzied Family #1: Creating a Family Mission

Family is essential to our homes. Family stretches beyond home-out into the church, friendships, community, etc. The skills we learn as we develop in a family effect and impact all areas of our life. However, more often than not life is chaotic, we live our life in a little bit of frenzy. “Frenzied Family” is a series on the simple things the Chambers family does to recalibrate, so that we are doing more than surviving the frenzy–we are thriving in the chaos.

Screen Shot 2013-01-29 at 10.59.48 AM

My youngest, Judah, is a late teether (and also bald). He received his first “toof” (as my girls say) about a month ago. Seriously, if you give him a cigar he’d look like Baby Herman from Roger Rabbit. It was so cute..until….the other four started popping through this week. Yeah…I’ve had many a sleepless night, and have been surviving off of an IV drip of caffeine.

In moments like these, when I’m at my breaking point, having mental madness, physical feebleness, and altogether an extremely pleasant attitude….I often have to remind myself that there’s a bigger mission for my house and my heart.

When our twins were 3 months old and I was newly pregnant with our youngest, we looked ahead and knew that life in the next several years was about to be a smokin’ hot mess. Literally, for own sanity, we created our own family mission statement to create a common goal and direction.

It has helped us so many times to evaluate what is important to us and what we want to accomplish in our home and with our kids. It also has made it easier to prioritize our lives and get rid of the “unnecessary” clutter of life.

These are the steps we have taken:

1. Develop. What does “family” mean? What do we want our home to be about?

Cole and I separately sat down and evaluated what we wanted our family, marriage, and home to be about. We searched scripture and listed out what we felt like were necessary things to include. We also looked at our families and evaluated some traditions we wanted to continue in and some we did not.

Then, we sat down together and shared our list. We were surprised at how many things were mutual.

2. Create a Framework. 

We created our “family” framework so that the purpose remains the same, no matter what “Season” of life we are in. Then every year, we set the types of “evolving” goals within that framework. For example, next year one of our goals is to be involved in our community by doing our laundry at a laundromat once a month, for the sole purpose of meeting someone new in our community. (Extra Perk: I get “caught” up with laundry)

3. Use the framework, to establish boundaries and expectations.

It set the bar for behavior, and an outline for making decisions. I really believe that this was a moment that defined our marriage in a new way. It gave us a manageable do-able goal instead of a lofty idea or assumption or expectation we had.

We came to an agreement about the standards for our behavior towards one another. Now, instead of pointing fingers, we can utter, “Hey remember we both agreed to ______, and I feel like we both might need to evaluate our behavior”.Screen Shot 2013-01-31 at 9.54.37 PM

4. Re-evaluate often. 

Each year we re-evaluate it and see how we’ve measured up to our family mission. We also evaluate what else needs to be added and determine what may need to be removed.

Here is our framework (minus specifics):

Our family exists to communicate to each other and every person we welcome into our home or we spend our time with that are pursued by God, that we care for them, and that He wants them to be in a healthy and vibrant community centered on His son Jesus. 

Here is how we will know that we are “on mission”:

  • We will daily seek the heart of God.
  • We find personal satisfaction with our time alone with God and allow Him to continuously change and mold us into obedient followers.
  • We will reconcile our home life and our family relationships before attempting to build outside ones.
  • We will pray consistently for our ministry, our family, and for the people we are ministering to.
  • We will intentionally spend quality time with our family, co-workers, neighbors, and friends.
  • We will encourage and serve one another .
  • We will intentionally give our resources to our church and community.
  • We will be transparent and vulnerable with the intention of having honest relationships built on trust not a facade.
  • Sometimes truth is painful (whether it be about ourselves, each other, or about God), but we will strive to offer grace instead of judgment to members of our family and to others daily.

By the grace and blessing of God we will continue down this road He has led us on. We trust that He is good but we acknowledge that He is dangerous and His ways seem to “mess” things up for us, but we wouldn’t have it any other way because we know that “messy” is also beautiful. Mess makes us mold-able.

1 Peter 3: 8-12 Summing up: Be agreeable, be sympathetic, be loving, be compassionate, be humble. That goes for all of you, no exceptions. No retaliation. No sharp-tongued sarcasm. Instead, bless—that’s your job, to bless. You’ll be a blessing and also get a blessing.

Whoever wants to embrace life
and see the day fill up with good,
Here’s what you do:
Say nothing evil or hurtful;
Snub evil and cultivate good;
run after peace for all you’re worth.
God looks on all this with approval,
listening and responding well to what he’s asked

What is your family mission? What are some things that are important to your family? What are topics that you’d like to discuss in the “frenzied family” series?

Other Posts you may like

Maybe, this is normal?

IMG_3810 “You know, right now your kids need you. Your ministry is your children. You should focus on only that and let someone else  _____ (fill in the blank).” –said by more people to me than I care to admit.

I feel like the skinny pants in a fat pants drawer, or probably more like the fat pants in a skinny pants drawer. I’m the lincoln log in the legos bin. Sometimes, I wish I could be the right “thing”, but most often I’m just plainly the wrong one.

I have a tremendous burden for those in poverty. I can’t help it. It’s like somehow God weaved that into my d.n.a. (Okay there is a lot of reason for this-mainly my parents), but it’s like I can’t go on living a normal life. I just can’t. It’d be much easier to be normal–to let someone else.

So, when people tell me my ministry is to my children….here is what I want to say (but, I can never find the words):

Please hear this…my ministry IS first my family. I am with them 99.9% of the time. I’m probably with them more than should be allowed. But, my ministry can’t stop there….let me explain:

They are taught important things. Oren can tell you a lot of important (and unimportant) things. Lately he’s been interested in IMG_4049mammals, and he can tell you what qualifies as a mammal. He can tell you that Darth Vader saved Luke Skywalker out of love and that love always conquers evil.

He also can tell you all about how God sent a rescuer. He can share with you that Jesus loves our hearts beyond what we will ever know and that sin creeps in and hurts our hearts. He will tell you that sin makes Jesus sad, but He will always love that hurt heart. But, that he wants us to make us have whole healthy hearts and that he died out of love and that love always conquers evil.

Addie can point to the Christmas manger and tell you, “It’s God” (she’ll also point to Santa Claus and say “it’s god”…and she might be right he is an idol to some. I didn’t teach her that…she’s just really that theologically gifted).

Cadie can tell you about flowers, and pretties (I think she might become a jeweler one day), and will sing to you the most beautiful lines of gibberish.

Judah can say, “milk” “all gone” and “more” in sign language. He now officially says, “hi” so at least were winning on the social skills front.

To me a “mom” ministry is so much more than buttering bread and making sure they don’t have too much sugar. Or that Oren receives no gluten, wheat, soy, corn, tomatoes, beans, peas, kiwi, oranges, etc, etc, etc…and that we’re a nut-free house (pun intended) .

It’s more than making them responsible or to use their manners (Don’t be concerned-we’ve had some serious talks about farting lately).

IMG_4033It’s more than whether or not they go to college or are financially successful.

It’s more than having a clean house, which I’ve already decided is impossible with four kids.

It’s a much bigger ministry that just “being a good mom”to my kids–its serving others because of them.

It’s showing them that life with Jesus isn’t just something we talk about at our dinner table or at church on Sunday.

It’s about modeling my relationship with Christ through my life, the whole thing, and not just my role as a caregiver to these babies. Someday these babies will need to know what service for the Kingdom looks like and that learning starts now NOT eventually when it’s MORE convenient.

When we go to the Safeway down the street, and Oren sees a homeless man begging for money and he exclaims, “Hey are you without a home?” (Insert my embarrassment here) and the man yells back, “Yes!”

Oren gleefully responds, “Hey don’t worry, my mom ALWAYS helps people without a home. She loves to do that for Jesus.”

I have to match my words with my actions.

It’s showing my children how to love people and I can’t tell them this—I HAVE to show them.

It’s showing them that the man who looks, smells, and speaks differently than us is worthy of receiving open armed kindness for Jesus sake.

I have to care about the food going bad in our fridge because just across the street their neighborhood friends are going hungry. My “caring” has to be moved into inviting those kids and their parents to sit at my table. I have to for Jesus sake.

I cannot ignore it. It’s not  just a part of me, it’s a part of my faith.

And, if the man I so openly discuss with them, lived a life in service to the “least of these” then I will too, for His name’s sake, and also for my little babies sake.

I’m doing it for my kids-that I hope will embrace a similar life, dedicated to serving Jesus through ministering to others.

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I’m doing it because I need to: for me, for them, for my church, for the kids next door, for the man at Safeway.

Isn’t that supposed to be normal?

Jesus said, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your passion and prayer and intelligence.’ This is the most important, the first on any list. But there is a second to set alongside it: ‘Love others as well as you love yourself.’ These two commands are pegs; everything in God’s Law and the Prophets hangs from them.” Matthew 22: 37-40 (The Msg).

Homemade Dishwasher Detergent!

Screen Shot 2013-01-15 at 3.13.19 PMI have spent months researching how best to make dishwasher soap. And strangely, I keep coming up with the same thing. So, here’s a fantastic “dishwasher” soap.

Are you ready for it? Its the best news of the century (well it means less work)…..

The same recipe I gave you for Homemade Laundry Soap works in your dishwasher. 

Surprised? ME TOO.

So, I’ve put it to the test…..I’ve been using the homemade laundry soap recipe(I only used half the water for this round so it’s more potent) and I use enough to fill up both “detergent” spots (as I would store-bought detergent) for about a month now…and the results are in…..

  • It’s organic

  • It’s non harsh

  • No nasty chemicals

  • EASY PEASY

AND IT WORKS! 

The only thing I’ve noticed is after about 10-12 loads my glasses look a little muted. so, I used  some Distilled Vinegar in the Jet Rinse dispenser and viola! it came clean…..

Try it and Tell me what YOU think! Got any other GREAT ideas? I want to hear them!

The Older Brother in me?!

Having grown up in church most of my life, and being a pastors daughter, a pastor’s daughter-in-law, and married to a man who is planning on becoming a pastor, let me tell you, I have heard the “prodigal son” story often. (If you haven’t-check it out)

You know, the story of a father lavishing his love and grace on his son who had betrayed and made mockery of the household name. You know, the story of the son who had returned after eating with the pigs. You know, the story where the older brother gets mad and throws a temper tantrum.

Well, recently, during a small group, we went over this story again. And, sometimes, when you hear a story so many times you stop listening, perform a mental “roll your eyes”, and discuss the same things that you’ve always discussed. (is this just me?)

But, this time was different. My friend said, “I think that IF the older brother had really known the fathers heart, he might’ve joined in the celebration. But, I think he was so busy working, he had forgot to notice that his father had to have spent hours and hours and hours waiting on the porch for the missing son. He probably would’ve have noticed the many prayers offered up on the younger sons behalf”. gulp. 

I hate it when other people are right.IMG_3849

I also hate it, that I just realized I’m more like the older brother than I’d like to admit. Sometimes, its easy for me to get so caught up in “busy” and “doing” and “life” that I miss the Father’s heart altogether. God’s grace being offered is something that I sometimes take advantage of. I forget how much I need it. I forget the things that moves him to celebration.

So, I left group that night with a new prayer,

“Lord, teach me to be on the porch with you. Teach me how to have your heart, and get rid of the “older brother” in me”

A few weeks ago, during church on Sunday, after worship service had concluded, I was visiting with the people around me. Caught up with a conversation, I didn’t notice much going on in the sanctuary, but I looked up.

Walking down the middle aisle, was a woman I knew.

I had spent months discipling her and teaching her about Jesus. Praying and crying with her over coffee at Shari’s. Then one day she stopped coming and calling. She had left her husband and all of her old life. Changed her phone number, deleted her facebook, and was just gone. My heart hurt knowing that she didn’t feel like she could continue to share her life with me, but I understood that she was deeply wounded in ways I didn’t understand and it was easier for her to shut off from everyone, including me.

But, here she was, suddenly six months later walking down the aisle towards me.

It would have been easy to be mad. It would have been easy to ignore her. She had walked away and ended the relationship, I’m pretty sure I would’ve been justified in feeling that way.

But, God had been preparing my heart for this moment.

I said, “Excuse me” to the person I was talking with. I headed down the aisle towards the woman with outstretched arms.

We held each other in the middle of a sanctuary embracing. She began to shake inconsolably with tears.

Through my own tears, I said, “I am so glad you are here. I have been praying for you every day.”

The she said, “I’ve been wanting to be here for months, but I was worried that I wouldn’t be accepted. That God would be angry or you would be mad. God made me come. He wants me here I know it”

And she’s right, the Father is so glad she’s home. She’s been home every week since so changed by grace and undeserved love from Jesus through me.

IMG_3839But, you know who is changed more? I’m pretty sure it’s me.

Luke 15: 32 “His father said, ‘Son, you don’t understand. You’re with me all the time, and everything that is mine is yours—but this is a wonderful time, and we had to celebrate. This brother of yours was dead, and he’s alive! He was lost, and he’s found!’” (The MSG)

Sleep, sanity, husbands, and daylight savings. (13-16)

James Bryan Smith in A Good and Beautiful God says that, “Sleep is an act of surrender. It is a declaration of trust. It is admitting that we are not God (who never sleeps), and that is good news”.

My late evenings are generally filled with the need to stay up longer to be more productive and do grown up tasks such as chores, and reading, and catching up on all the “grown up” shows. Most of my daylight hours are consumed with children, toys, stuffy noses, and dirty diapers–So this makes sense, but it ruins me having a normal bedtime. Sleep for me is both a best friend and a worst enemy. I need adequate sleep and yet, usually sleep is the first thing I give up to meet needs: my needs and my family’s needs.

Let’s be honest, this sleep deprived mom is usually slighty (And by slightly, I mean extremely) cranky. The sound of cranky kids to this sleep deprived mom is usually a panic invoking invitation into borderline insanity. (Can anyone relate?).

James Bryan Smith is right. Sleep is for me a need. A need that I had never placed in the context of trusting in God. As a mom, I need sleep to be my best friend because it shows my kids that I am surrendering my worry my cares and my anxieties and placing my complete trust that God has it under control. No amount of reading or chores will ever make me better; not a better mom, friend or a better wife. Usually, in fact, the opposite is true: sleep deprivation makes me worse at both.

Lately, my husband and I, have challenged ourselves to get more sleep. That means that we give up grown up tasks have a dirtier house, and are calling ourselves “old” because bedtime is now strictly 10 pm.

Sometimes though despite my best efforts sleeping does not work. This weekend was one of those times, sleep was my enemy. No matter how much I tried tossing and turning, my husband was still snoring and talking in his sleep, my 11 mo old thought 3 am was a good time to be awake, and no amount of trying to fall asleep was working. I found myself frustrated and very awake until approximately 4 am.

You know what was amazing? Even though my sleep deprivation was out of my control, I was able to gain an hour because of daylight savings, my hubby woke up with our kids and let me sleep til I naturally woke up.

Today I’m just thankful for sleep, husbands, and daylight savings. And that I get to keep my sanity for one more day. 🙂

Psalm 4:7b-8 “At day’s end I’m ready for sound sleep, For you, God, have put my life back together.”

The Littlest Little (12)

While standing at the sink this morning doing dishes, I turned to the side and noticed a little pair of eyes peeking out from around the doorjamb. I smiled and received a very guttereal raspy giggle. Then, the eyes disappeared behind the corner, again. I waited for a few seconds and they peeked out again, I smiled again and said, “Judah, I see you”.

He giggled some more, and disappeared again. This time, I snuck around to the doorjamb, and startled him by peeking around first. He then began to laugh so hard he fell from his hands and knees to be laying flat on his back. His chest and body convulsing because of his out of control laughter.

Fast forward twenty minutes. I’m sitting in a chair and he crawls towards my lap. I begin to point out, “Nose. Eyes. Mouth” and he leans in and places his little clammy palm on my face and inches his fingers by my lips. He knows what is coming, I open my mouth and nibble on his fingers. The deep giggling initiates and soon after a few more nibbles he is unable to hold himself upright as he is so taken over from his laughter.

Judah is my calmest child. There is no need too great or situation too perilous that a little waiting won’t fix. He’ll wait patiently and play with the toys in his vicinity and wait until my eyes catch his. Then his countenance changes his whole being shouts, “Experience joy, mom. Smile, just for me”.

Even when he’s in trouble, he somehow manages to turn me saying, “No, Judah” into a silly mess of giggles.

I’m convinced that this is why God placed him in my care. In the midst of all the Chambers chaos, God gave me a little beacon of a daily dose of silliness. Now, don’t get me wrong all of my children are silly and hilarious in their own way. But, Judah is my daily reminder to laugh. Laugh purposefully. Laugh often. Laugh over the truly funny. Laugh when were tired. Laugh when it hurts. Laugh when I’m in trouble. Laugh when there’s nothing left to do, but laugh again. Judah’s mission in life is to laugh and to make sure everyone else is laughing around him.

For that, I am thankful.

 

Psalm 100:1-4

 On your feet now—applaud God!
Bring a gift of laughter,
sing yourselves into his presence.

 Know this: God is God, and God, God.
He made us; we didn’t make him.
We’re his people, his well-tended sheep.

 Enter with the password: “Thank you!”
Make yourselves at home, talking praise.
Thank him. Worship him.

 For God is sheer beauty,

    all-generous in love,
loyal always and ever.

(The Message)