These little lights of mine…

This little light of mine,

I’m gonna let it shine.

This little light of mine,

I’m gonna let it shine.

This little light of mine,

I’m gonna let it shine.

Let it shine, let it shine, let it shine!

It’s a simple lyric really, but sometimes the simplest things hit you the hardest. What started as a cute gift idea for Max’s first birthday has ROCKED my world into oblivion.

I’m one of those crazy people who reads blogs to the point where I feel a part of someone’s life. Like their family almost. One day I found myself talking about my friend Kelly and Brad said, you know she’s not  your friend, right? LOL ~ well yes, i do know she’s not my FIRL (friend in real life) but I think she could be if given the chance. My friend, my actual friend in real life, Jennifer McKinney is an amazing blogger and mom. I met her through her blog and she photographed our family and even stayed with us in Nashville when Cooper was about three weeks old and took her newborn photos.

Photo by Jennifer McKinney.

Being a Nashvillian, I follow local blogs of some really great people. I was introduced to the blogs of Jessica & Matthew Paul Turner through Angie Smith’s online blogs and book clubs. I said all that to say this. Matthew Paul Turner just released a children’s book that teaches children in a fun and exciting way that God Made Light. My thoughts were that this would be a great book to introduce Cooper and Max to how God formed the very beginnings of creation. Since Max’s birthday is today, I ordered it on Amazon Prime and it showed up two days ago.

Since then, my world has been rocked.

Rocked by a children’s book.

Rocked by a God whose love for us is so vast.

Rocked by the responsibility and joy for my little lights.

Here is the page that rocked my world:

2014-10-30 11.30.58

“You’re as spendid as lightning when it flashes so bright

’cause on the day you were born, God said, “Let there be light!”

When I got to this page, I wept. Wept like a baby. The thought that God created Cait, Logan, Cooper and Max as HIS LIGHT,  it hit me as a ton of bricks. God said let there be light when He made my kids, when He made me, when He made you. We are the light that God made, not just the moon and the stars and the sun, US.

God gave me four incredible lights to nurture and grow. He trusted ME with maintaining their wicks, keeping their oil clean and making sure their flames stayed glowing bright. These kids, these parts of my DNA, they are the light of the world, that is what God created them to be.

Jesus said in Matthew 5: 14-16  14 You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. 16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.

Some days I could go crazy having 6 people in the house. Two adult kiddos and two kiddos under three and then us makes for interested days and sometimes emotions run from laughing, crying, fighting and back to laughing. All in the span of about 15-20 minutes. Other days, I wouldn’t trade it for the world. I was a really young mom with Cait and Logan and I’ve learned the way I parented then was not always the best. I hope they see as we all learn to parent these little people that it’s okay to be wrong, it’s okay to find a better way and it’s okay to lean on your family.

These lights, these miracles of mine I want them to shine brightly so that others can see Him in them. I have made myself think about my children in the terms of light. What kind of light are they? What can I do to make them more shiny, more ablaze for life? What have I done to snuff their lights, to obscure the light that God intended to ooze out of them daily? What can I do different going forward to keep them glowing?

Cait is my radiant beam. She is my right arm, I’m really not sure what I would do without her. She reminds me so much of myself but she is a much better version. She is the best big sister in the world. My hope is that she’s still learning from me while I am still learning from her. I honestly can say I’ve seen her grown and mature more in the last year than I thought possible. She is sure of herself and is beginning to plan out where she truly wants life to take her.

Logan is my vivid streak of light. What he believes and feels is always done with great passion. Logan is so much like his Dad when it comes to being a jokester and an instigator but if he is on your side, no one else should come against you. Logan works three jobs and is saving money to travel the world. Whether that happens or he chooses a different path completely, I know he will illuminate whatever corner of the world his is in.

Cooper is an unclouded glowing light that was unexpected but makes our world a completely amazing place. She is funny and silly and loves to sing and dance. She’s also opinionated, sassy, loving and stubborn. She loves her “maxie boy” as she calls him and gets really upset when she sees him cry. My hope is that she continues to glow unfettered by the world around her. I hope she continues to sing and dance with confidence.

Max, my last little light, he is one today. He is a flashing, shiny, sunny light that warms every single person he meets. Max oozes smiles and giggles. He rarely cries and always has a dimpled grin for the camera. He is a fast moving train and we have always compared dressing him to wrestling an alligator. We are so blessed that God gave us this sweet spirited boy as the closer of our family. I am overwhelmed by the joy that he brings to our days.

Today is bittersweet because Max is One. It is bitter because he is about to walk, learning new words every day and he needs us less than he did yesterday. It is bitter because while I am fine with him being the last, there is something that is grievous to knowing I will never carry another baby, knowing I will never feel another kick from within or hear the little heart beat on an ultrasound. It is sweet because I know I won’t have many more sleepless nights, heartburn or gestational diabetes again. It is sweet because I know they all four still need me to help nurture the flames in both big ways and small.

Am I doing that right? I’m not sure but I know that I’m trying and as parents that’s all we can do, try. All we can do is make ourselves approachable and available. We can makes sure our homes are full, of love and grace and prayer. We can guide them when they ask and we can pray for them when they don’t. Whatever we do, we need to let our little lights SHINE!

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The Battle Within

No one knows the battle we are personally fighting. Everyone has a battle, because we are all in a war, a war with life. We are in a war with circumstances, our pasts, our desires, depression, shortcomings, etc. How do we equip ourselves for these battles  that cannot be fought with guns and knives and the black op fanfare of a PS4 game?

In a house with two gamers, I’ve seen just about every strategy out there. I’ve watched them watch strategies on you tube and videos of other people playing that are known for strategy. I’ve watched then talk to their teams on Bluetooth and shout where the enemy is so they can encircle them and attack.

See I’m in a battle right now, a battle that no one but me really knows. One that wrestles with my heart night and day and barely allows me to sleep without dreams that terrify me. I wake up in fear of a phone call or text that may ruin my day. I walk through the day in dread of unpleasant situations coming my way and having to face them.

I feel like I’m surrounded by that team of enemies and they are shouting in their bluetooths pointing to where I am. My teammates are getting taken out one by one and now, I only have a few trustworthy and loyal people left.

The leader of the team, Fear, tells his men to keep reminding me of my teen and young adult life where he ruled over me and caused me to build relationships based on fear instead of love.

Fear tells unworthy to remind me that unless I’m falling in line with the status quo I’m not worthy of true friendship, love and grace.

Fear tells depression, attack her family, if you can’t attack her, start attacking those she loves more than herself. Cause her to cry because she can’t help the very ones she vowed to love forever except with encouragement, love and understanding.

Fear tells exhaustion, overtake her, because she’s tired anyway. Keep her awake and when she does sleep, let her dreams reflect uneasiness.

Fear tells money to steer clear of her, make her worry you won’t show up on time. Make her think this new business venture was a pipe dream and a really bad idea.

Fear tells judgment whisper about how she and her daughter choose to wear their hair but smile snidely. Laugh about how bold she appears to be but you know she’s insecure and can be emotionally manipulated. Talk about her faults like they are entertainment.

Fear tells alienation make sure they aren’t included or asked but be sure they hear about all the events on Instagram and Facebook. Fear says make empty promises to her family and watch it make her grow bitter.

Fears team is feeling pretty good right now but I have news for them, I woke up with a battle cry on my heart today. Last night as we lay in bed talking, brad said to me, promise me you won’t stop fighting. I’m pretty sure that fear didn’t appreciate those   words and honestly I didn’t either at the moment. I promised him anyway because he’s on my side.

Fear told me that my emotional investment in my life, my family, my church and my business is just not worth the effort. Fear told me to run. Fear told me that I don’t have a community. Fear told me that good change doesn’t happen and proceeded to prove it by his team. Fear even convinced me to apply for a full time job to take me away from my family and business.

I woke up today with a fresh outlook. Good or bad, I’m taking on the day. I will deal with situations I hate and I will do my best to take fear out of the equation and trust in my team. David said it in Psalm 118:6 “The LORD is with me; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?”

How am I going to fight this battle, with multiple things warring against me. I’m going to retreat and get my bearings, I’m going to strategize and then I’m going to dig in my heels and fight like a girl.

I’m going to fight from my heart and for my heart. The enemy will not win this fight that is within me and around me. My husband and babies will get the best parts of me. My best friends will feel loved and supported. My business will thrive. My heart will heal. My family will feel valued. These things I declare as my war cry today.

When you see me I wont be any different than I was before you read these words.  You may see a smile because that’s what soldiers do, soldiers put on their game face and go to war. That’s not fake, its strategy. Its an action to throw off the enemy and sometimes it’s the only thing that allows you to survive.

Because in this war I discovered, Fear lies….that’s right! Fear takes truths and puts its own spin on them and makes them out to be more than they are. Fear causes assumptions, divisions, hurts and rifts that no one meant to happen. Fear is who we battle, not each other.