Thursday, April 17, 2014

our thirst. . .quenched!

This week has looked like this. . .
I. . .
-loaded clothes in the dryer and then walked away and didn't start the dryer
-took out the peanut butter and then put it back in the pantry before I used it
-went to dinner to celebrate Charlie's birthday and then realized I left the cupcakes at home
-made tea and then forgot about it and then reheated my tea and then forgot about it again. . .

I've had a lot on my mind and have consequently been forgetful and distracted. I've accomplished some tasks and crossed off several items on my super-long to-do list, but still.

Yesterday, after putting the finishing touches on dinner, mid-afternoon, I finally realized I was parched! I hadn't had anything to drink all day. I was thirsty! I filled a glass with water and sat down to breathe and drink. And as I was filling my physical thirst, I realized I hadn't yet filled my spiritual thirst for the day. I picked up a collection of devotions for this Easter season and was led right to "I Am Thirsty" by John "Skip" Ryan. Skip makes several points in his devotion, but what hit home for me was his thoughts on John 19:28, when after being hung on the cross, but before he died, Jesus said, "I thirst." He wasn't speaking of physical thirst. Skip points out that Jesus hadn't complained about anything else on the way to the cross--not when he was beaten and whipped or had a crown of thorns pressed into his head or nails driven in his hands. So, he wasn't complaining about being physically thirsty, but instead he was weighed down by the sin he bore because of us, for us. He was thirsty for Heaven, for His Father. Nothing else could fill that for Jesus and nothing else can fill that thirst for us either. 

Our days are filled with errands and meetings and school and cleaning and playing and cooking and parties and on and on. And we can find ourselves worn out. Forgetful. Distracted.

And Thirsty.

As the Easter weekend is approaching, may we all remember that Jesus said,

Only the Lord can quench our thirst!

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

We are not the Joneses.

Growing up, I was part of a pretty awesome family. We'd often say things like, "Who wouldn't want to be like our family?" or "We have the best family in the entire world!" To a little girl, it was dreamy! I had the best parents and sister (still do) and life was awesome!

Then one day, I grew up and got married! And eventually, we had children! I would stop and take a step outside our family looking back in and think, "Man! We have the perfect family! Who wouldn't want our family?" I felt thankful for what the Lord had blessed us with, and hoped to live up to what people wanted: to be like the Joneses (except we are the Jacksons).

Once I realized. . .
And then another day came, when we found out we were having a baby with Down syndrome. Though it was most definitely not my immediate thought, in the weeks after finding out our unborn baby would have Down syndrome, and imagining the thoughts running through people's minds, I landed on this. "Oh, so I guess people aren't going to want to "keep up with" us anymore." People aren't going to want to be us at all. I remember thinking, "people are just thankful that we are not them."

Well, praise the Lord those thoughts didn't last long! We have been incredibly blessed with our baby Way, just like we are blessed with our entire family!

But Way has changed me and so has the Lord! Though I've been a follower of Christ for decades now, it's just been in the last couple of years that my perspective on "perfect" has been altered. I truly see there is nothing perfect created by humans, this side of heaven. Only His plan is perfect! No one, not one family, has it all together. There are no Joneses out there. Only the illusion of the "perfect family."

No one is perfect!
Whoa! Debbie Downer am I? No, not at all!! In fact, I'm only hoping to encourage you! In a social media craving world, we are filled with posts and images of picture perfect lives. I know people who are leaving the social media scene because it makes them feel worse about themselves!

Stay with me here. I like social media, at least some forms. I love blogging and I love Instagram! I get great recipes and ideas from Pinterest, too! Occasionally, I'll even tweet, though usually I'm re tweeting something brilliant someone has shared! And while I believe everything should be used in moderation, I can say honestly, without feeling bad about it, I enjoy social media, and I don't think it's the enemy, BUT, I do think it's necessary for me to remember who and what is real! And, that no one is perfect! (All the English teachers out there just cringed because I started 2 sentences with "But" and 2 with "And." But, again, no one is perfect--even this former English teacher)!

So, why am I not turned off by social media? Because I know there are friends out there who are real and aren't afraid to show their less than perfect moments! Ones who don't need to post to feel better about themselves, but ones who are in the thick of parenting with me and share good laughs! I seek out those who are encouraging and who speak Truth. I play on social media as a creative outlet. I enjoy social media as an extra-bonus to relationships I already have, or to enjoy new ones. But I'm not seeking out the Joneses. I want real. Don't you?

 And because I truly desire to keep it real here in this little space . . .

 I just need you to know . . .
--I hardly ever iron. In fact, I almost wrote I never iron, but that would have been a lie, since I have once or twice before. . .(but if you know me, or my children in real life, then you probably already know this).

--I don't buy organic milk anymore and we have Cheez-Its in our pantry. I once did buy organic milk, but since our pediatrician doesn't buy into the organic way of life, I figured I'd save some money on the 8 gallons of milk our 4 boys drink a week.

--Sometimes, I choose to scroll through Instagram or blog feeds instead of reading my Bible.

--I despise crying in front of people. Yet, the Lord chose to make me a crier. If someone shows me they truly care, if I feel "safe", if I'm so beyond thankful, if I'm moved by something, if something is way too funny or way too sad or just downright joyful, Or, if there's music involved with babies, animals, families, mission work and really just about anything, I will cry. And, I will despise it. And then the moment will be over and I'll be laughing at something else. Thank goodness! ;)

--If you see a perfect picture on this blog, just know it probably took me at least 50 shots to get a post worthy one.

--Our children run in the hall at church, and often cause people to stare at us in Target, like they've just seen a circus for the first time!

--We still haven't filed our taxes.

--Just because you might see me in work-out clothes does not mean I have just worked out. Maybe I have, but it's likely they were comfy and I could be playing on the ground with my boys and I really don't care what I look like when I go to the grocery, or school pick-up, or Chick-Fil-A!

--I don't always say the right thing to my husband or children at the right time in the right tone. I mess up so often. I love them, and I try, but I don't always get it right.

--My scrapbooks for our first two children are as far as I've gotten. Our last two children don't have one. Maybe I'll make them one day, maybe I won't.

--We aren't even up to speed on the latest techy gadgets (gasp)!

I could go on for miles and miles telling you more. Maybe this isn't vulnerable enough for you, or maybe it's just right. You don't need all the nitty-gritty, but I want you to know that we are far from perfect! And so, if you feel less threatened by our "imperfectness" come hang around! We are all in this together!

We are not the Joneses.  

No one is perfect. Be encouraged by that! And realize. . .that is why we need our perfect Savior!

** Just to come around full circle. . .Though we know we do not have the perfect family, we do think we have the best little 6 person family in our house! And none of us would trade us! :) We are thankful and we are blessed!

Thursday, April 3, 2014

guitar, counseling, life lessons and TSwift: an unexpected Wednesday night

So, I had a little bit of unexpected counseling last night from an unlikely source. I arrived at my guitar lesson ready to rattle off the myriad of reasons why I wasn't able to practice my guitar much over the past week. And as I was pulling out my guitar and sweating bullets that I was going to be in trouble for not cutting my fingernails this week, my guitar teacher did something strange.

Checking in.
He asked me how things were going. I literally opened my mouth, with nothing coming out, and blinked my eyes. I wasn't sure what he was really asking. I could take this answer in so many directions. And he could see that, so he politely narrowed it down to guitar. "How do you feel like guitar is going?" he asked. Still, I wasn't sure how to answer. I've been taking for a couple of months and he has been teaching me so much, but I'm not at a place where I want to be or even making much progress to where I want to be. I told him there is just so.much.going.on. and explained various things in our life. I told him I haven't been disciplined with practicing and quite honestly, I haven't been disciplined with much at all lately.

I'm just not able.
I've been struggling with not practicing my guitar as much as I want to, because I really want to, but also because I don't want to let him down as a teacher, or my sweet hubby down (because he gave me lessons as a Christmas gift) or my future-self down, because it's something I desire to have accomplished before our children are grown and out of the house! And so I've been bummed that I haven't made myself sit down and practice. But, the truth is, there hasn't been time, or if there has been, something else has taken priority, even if I haven't wanted it to. The same thing goes with exercise and organizing our house and cleaning out our carport closet and I don't know, but you name it and it's been tough.

And then the counseling began. My intuitive guitar teacher, proceeded to speak to my inner-self in a way I'm accustomed to my Bible Study girls, or other friends or my husband or family speaking to me. He told me, it's not that I'm not being disciplined, it's that I'm just not able, at this point in my life. And while that stings, it's comforting to hear at the same time. In fact, it was encouraging!

It's only for a season.
Why am I sharing about my guitar lesson/counseling session? Because, I needed that encouragement and maybe you do too! As my guitar teacher pointed out, we all have our "things" in life. My "things" are not yours, and your "things" are not mine, but we all have them. Maybe you just aren't able to do one more thing. Maybe your calendar is full. Maybe your wallet is empty. Maybe you have lots of littles that require your presence and don't have extra help. Maybe you just had a baby. Maybe you are just so tired that you can barely keep your eyes open.

Whatever your situation is, check in. Process a little and find out what is keeping you from saying yes, or taking that next step. Know yourself and figure out what you are able to do and unable to do. Once you acknowledge and accept your "thing" you may find yourself quite relieved! But also, be patient and give yourself grace. This is just for a season!

You wanna know how my never-been-married, middle-aged, classic rock, Beatles and Elvis-loving guitar teacher (and apparently counselor) ended our lesson? He played me my favorite Taylor Swift song! I'm thinking if I'm ever able to practice my guitar and I make it big one day, maybe I'll dedicate a song to him! ;)

Monday, March 31, 2014

a prayer for Monday.

Counting my blessings this morning and praying this verse:

"Teach me your way, O LORD,
that I may walk in your truth;
unite my heart to fear your name." 
--Psalm 86:11

As you gather your people this morning, treasure them. 
And, as you gather your thoughts this morning, seek Him.

Friday, March 28, 2014

FYI Friday: What I Learned in March

What I Learned in March. . .

Let's start small and work our way up. . .

1. When filling out March Madness brackets, I've learned it helps to do a little research. This year, there was no time to scour the standings and previous match-ups. I'm middle of the road right now, but I've researched in years prior before filling out my brackets and I've done better. Of course, when filling out March Madness brackets, I've also learned that it's probably a fluke that I've fared well when I've done my research, and that no one really knows what the basketball tourney is going to end up looking like. I mean, no one is still alive in the billion dollar bracket challenge. Ya feel me?

2. And on an entirely different note. . .when 2 of the 6 of us caught a bug earlier this month, I learned there's an actual word for the fear of throwing up. It's called emetophobia. Surprisingly to me, I've come to find out that I don't have emetophobia. Now, let me be clear. My tummy gets in knots and I sometimes lose sleep when I think someone in our house is going to come down with the bug, but, it turns out, that some people are actually prevented from living a regular life because of their fear. Think avoiding pregnancy altogether or young children. How absolutely horrible!! I cannot imagine having the fear that intense!

3. On to things more pleasant. For a while, I've known that I absolutely love this grapefruit candle I have, so, I didn't learn that this month. However, I did discover the Williams-Sonoma grapefruit candle is an incredible mood-lifter! There's something about grapefruit. Maybe that's why lots of shower gels and shampoos are scented with grapefruit?? I'm just figuring these things out! Happy spring days!!

4. And finally, I am putting my word of the year, brave, into practice. After lots of prayer and encouragement, I decided to join a team from our church on a mission trip halfway around the world this summer! Our purpose for the trip will be to minister to mothers of children with special needs. And during part of our trip, I will be visiting and sharing with families of children with Down syndrome! I cannot express how thrilled and blessed I am to be going on this trip! It's been pretty amazing to see how the Lord used different people, events and Isaiah 6:8 from the Bible to send me on this trip! Am I a little anxious leaving my Hubby and 4 littles behind? Absolutely!!! And while the trip is still a couple of months away . . .

I've learned this month, that I can be nervous and brave at the same time!
 I can't wait to share more as our trip draws near!

(linking up with Emily today!)

Friday, March 21, 2014

FYI Friday: World Down Syndrome Day!!

I haven't posted a FYI Friday since January, but Charlie and Way think it's a perfect day for a FYI!


Today is World Down Syndrome Day! This day, March 21st, which is 3/21 was chosen as WDSD because people with Down syndrome have a third copy on their 21st chromosome! Cool! Learn something everyday, right?

Some people might wonder why we celebrate World Down Syndrome Day. We celebrate because we love someone with Down syndrome! We celebrate to inform others, to spread awareness and to let people know that Down syndrome is okay!!

Decades ago, people with DS were institutionalized. There wasn't enough information and research out there that told others, that people with DS can live wonderful lives and contribute to society and the world! There are still countries today that believe people with DS are cursed. And even in our own country, there are people who discover their unborn baby will have DS and choose to terminate that baby's life. They are afraid of the unknown and either misinformed or just don't know the incredible lives they are missing out on.

My prayer on this special day is that someone, somewhere can learn about DS through the thousands of people taking part in raising awareness today, and choose life!!

Will you help raise awareness? Learn something new about DS today and share it with someone else. It's fear of the unknown that leads to devastating decisions being made in doctors' offices. It's ignorance that leads to hurt feelings and exclusion. Maybe you know a family who has a loved one with DS. Ask them questions or tell others about how typical their life is! 

I can tell you that this little one has been true blessing to our entire family. Just like his older brothers. Way is getting tubes in his ears today, just like his brothers did! He's an amazing sleeper, just like his brothers are! He has the most contagious laugh, just like his brothers do! He loves books just like his brothers did at his age and still do now! We, as parents, have been concerned about things, just like we have been and are with his brothers. We, as parents, love him unconditionally, just like we do Way's brothers!

A diagnosis does not change this kind of love!

I'm writing a bit more at One Fun Mom, today as well! I'd love for you to follow me over. . .and after you do, let people know that World Down Syndrome Day is a day to celebrate
 and that ALL life is precious!!!

Happy Friday!

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

so we will always remember right now. . .

My Sweet Boys--

I know that you enjoy looking through and reading my blog books that I have printed each New Year. You like to relive the memories or hear more details about some of the stories. And so I know that at some point, probably not until next January, you will read this. And while I hope that you know this, that you have heard me tell you this over and over again, I also know that at your ages 8, nearly 6, 3 and 19 months, you either don't quite understand yet, or you have so much to do and play, that you aren't eager to just sit and listen to me pour out my heart. So, I will write just a piece of my love for you down, here. So we will always remember right now.

Luke, you are my teacher. You amaze me with all that you learn and retain! This gift of learning comes naturally for you and it's wonderful to watch. And, what you learn, you are thrilled to teach. I love learning from you! But you know what? You don't just teach me marine animals or birds of prey or spy methods or books that you are immersed in, you teach me about life. When you set your mind to do something, you follow through. You dream. You genuinely care about other people's feelings and you don't want them to be hurt. Luke, you are learning how to treat people and you love them well. You accept people for who they are and you are one of the most forgiving people I know. Lukey, at 8 years old, you have so much to teach the world! I want to be more like you when I grow up! :) I love you!

Charlie, you are my encourager. I watch you work so hard at things, whether it's school, sports, etc. and I am encouraged by your determination and your heart. You will quietly and humbly (with that bashful smile) accept our praise and love, but what seems even more important to you, is showing others love. And it melts me--your ability to see when people are hurting (physically or emotionally). You never want to hurt anyone's feelings and will always offer to ride with someone so they won't be alone, or sit by someone for the same reason. You ask me how my day was and offer to help in the kitchen. You tell me that I'm doing a good job or that I look pretty! You will play with a brother who needs some love. Char, you encourage me with your ability to care for others and I love you!

Miles, you are my cheer. Your enthusiasm for life is contagious! Your energy is endless! You have never met a stranger and you have mastered the art of conversation. You are the most outwardly loving of the bunch with the hugs and kisses you give to us all. You tell me everyday, "I love being with my Mommy!" and feel the same way about your Daddy and brothers too. You smile and laugh so much that if ever you aren't smiling or laughing, I know something is wrong. Your love and compassion for others makes my heart soar! Miles, you make me happy every single day. I love you!

Way, you are my peace. When the world is crazy and sometimes I'm just too frazzled, I can snuggle you up in my arms and everything disappears. You are content and so happy. Just a smile or hello from any of us and you beam--which of course makes me beam! The simplest act of rocking you in my arms singing Twinkle, Twinkle or Jesus Loves Me is the most calming part of my day. Just kissing your cheeks and breathing you in slows my heart rate and honestly, just turns me to the Lord every time! Way, you are love, joy and peace rolled into a perfect and precious gift! I love you!

And sweet boys--always remember that the Lord made you this way. You are not self-made. You are God's design and His creation and though it's hard for your Mommy and Daddy to comprehend this, Jesus loves you even more than we do! Nothing you ever do will change that! So be confident in who you are, and Whose you are! You are all treasures to us!

--Love, Mommy


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