The Fullness of Generosity {#WholeMama}

We just finished the madness of dinner. I don’t know if dinnertime looks quite as disheveled at your house as it does at mine – but oh my. Over here, it’s basically a mad dash to fill each person’s needs as quickly as possible before tears and shouts erupt. It is honestly exhausting. But somehow, once dinner is finished, everyone suddenly and magically changes their mood. Their needs have been met. And now they can suddenly see the other people that had been sitting at the table with them all along. They can play kindly together. They can speak encouraging words to one another. They help each other and offer compliments.

It’s incredible the changes in our attitude, our demeanor, once our need has been met. 

 

O T H E R S   >   O U R S E L V E S

It seems opposite the world culture – this idea of serving others before ourselves, but it is possible. Important, even. 

This constant putting others interests and needs before our own is most certainly difficult. It is an endeavor that runs against our very flesh. Our body shouts for more. Even beyond our bodily needs, we are naturally selfish. We search for praise, recognition, and love. All aimed at filling our own desires, forgetting and even minimizing the needs of those around us.

Ironically, as we fight to fill ourselves, we hurt those in our very communities. The people we care most about. No matter who you are: your age, your gender, your job; no matter the relationships you are in – you can be generous. So often we equate generosity with something big, something using all of our resources, something only those with extra can possibly do.

G E N E R O S I T Y   I N   O U R   R E L A T I O N S H I P S

In motherhood, I have noticed that there are so many small areas that I can be generous. I can pause and give extra cuddles to my daughter. I can sit and read one more book before bedtime (or anytime really). I can whisper words of encouragement as Boy Child treads off to make new friends.I can give Man Child a bonus day to play video games. I can pause my house cleaning to play with Baby Boy.

I can be generous with my time when I wash the last dishes in the sink (knowing how much my husband loves a clean sink). I can give my time freely to a friend in need of community. I can lend a hand when a mom needs help with school pick ups. Even a simple cup of coffee is a generous way to show someone they are loved.

I see the small ways my children live out generosity. They share their bike with a neighbor. They include other children in their makeshift game at the park. They freely, and generously, open their hearts to those around them. 

#WholeMama

T H E   F U L L N E S S   O F   G E N E R O S I T Y 

Generosity is more about our hearts than about our actions. True generosity gives of ourselves freely. It does not measure the time or resources lost. It doesn’t keep track of the things that could have been done, had this person not been in need. It simply gives.

 

With each and every word I write, I find myself coming back to the One. One person, who lived generosity to the fullest.

He healed many.
“Moved with pity, He stretched out His hand and touched Him and said to him, ‘I will; be clean.” (Mark 1:41)

He met people where they were.
“When the crowds learned it, they followed Him, and He welcomed them and spoke to them of the kingdom of God and cured those who had need of healing.” (Luke 9:11)

He taught with authority. He preached the Word. He preached His very self.
“And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen His glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.” (John 1:14)

He forgave sins:
“And when Jesus saw their faith, He said to the paralytic, ‘Son, your sins are forgiven.’…But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins'” (Mark 2:5 + 10)

He fed people abundantly:
“And they all ate and were satisfied. And they took up twelve baskets full of the broken pieces left over. And those who ate were about five thousand men, besides women and children.” 
(Matthew 14:20-21)

He raised people from the dead:
“And He said, ‘Young man, I say to you, arise.’ And the dead man sat up and began to speak, and Jesus gave him to his mother.” (Luke 7:14-15)

He gave Himself freely. Even unto death.
“Then Jesus, calling out with a loud voice, said, ‘Father, into your hands I commit my spirit!’ And having said this He breathed His last.'” (Luke 23:46)

“‘For God so loved the world, that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through Him.'” (John 3:16-17)

And this is the generosity to which we are called. To love others as we love ourselves. To place others as more important than our very selves. To run contrary to what the world and our very flesh screams. To show a love so big, so vast, so full of mercy that others no longer see us but only see Him shining forth.

How are you generous? We love donating to organizations, friends in need, and ministries. But we believe it is important to be generous in our actions, of ourselves as well. So we live in community, we serve friends and neighbors, we volunteer with organizations. And we love. 

love to you

 

Want to read more about #WholeMama? You should join us over at #WholeMama!

Here are my other #WholeMama posts:
On Settling
Celebrating Motherhood
Power to Flourish
Intentional Quiet
Embracing the Mess of Me
Musings From the Sky: Thoughts on Prayer
Finding the Balance: Space & Community
Seeing Small: Embracing the Ordinary Moments
Laughter, Mom, & Poop

 

On Settling {#WholeMama}

It’s been a while since I’ve joined in on the #WholeMama posts. I lost track of the group and the words. And honestly, I continued on. I missed the group of women, the community, I had found – but as we all know, life continues.

And then randomly, thank you social media, I found them once again. And what a perfect week to jump back in. Because this week, our prompt is settling.

After #WholeMama, I had settled into a routine. A new routine of writing, of summer with family, of playing, and downright craziness. It was a beautiful season. One filled with adventures, friends, and life.

Yet, as time always does, it skipped forward, quickly and abruptly. And I found myself in fall. My favorite season, but one I never truly settled in. Fall was a season of seeking a pace. It was a time of trying to settle in. Trying to create the ‘perfect’ schedule that would be both life-giving and freeing.

Motherhood

Shockingly, I never found it. And now, as spring peaks it’s head around the  hopeful ending of winter, I find myself running from settling. I want to burst out of the cocoon I had been frantically piecing together. I want to run, searching out life.

Honestly, I just want to run on some green grass with my puppy. (No, I do not actually have a puppy.)

And that’s where settling leaves me. In this strange middle ground. The meeting place of comfort and newness. Grasping for life, while clinging to safety. 

What does settling mean to you? I would love to hear your thoughts! Leave a comment below, or join us over at #WholeMama.

love to you

Seeking Wisdom

“Give me wisdom and knowledge to go out and come in before this people,
for who can govern this people of Yours, which is so grand?” 

Oh to walk into this great task, this grand adventure of parenting and to ask for wisdom and knowledge is jaw dropping. Okay, so technically this quote was from King Solomon (2 Chronicles 1:10). And he wasn’t speaking of his children or of parenting, but rather of leading a nation. But there are some things that are true to both parenting and leading a nation. Right? I mean, really, they are both leading a group of people, a sometimes unwilling group of people. A group of people that you don’t always understand. They both require much of you and they both place much responsibility on you.

To ask for wisdom at the start of leading parenting makes me pause. I think back to my first pregnancy. My first little one. That moment the nurses handed me my baby. The first time I saw him on an ultrasound. The first time I looked into his beautiful eyes. The moment I saw “PREGNANT” come across the pregnancy test. The moment I looked on his perfect face. I think about and remember the prayers I prayed at each of these moments. I prayed for health. I prayed for his future. I prayed for my health during pregnancy and labor. I prayed for safety. I prayed for sleep. I prayed for and continue to pray for him. I pray for his day. I pray that he loves the Lord. I pray for patience (that one’s for me). I pray to understand boys. I pray that one day I won’t have to clean the bathroom daily. I pray for the right words for me and for him.

But I have never prayed for wisdom. 

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Celebrating Motherhood {#WholeMama}

Celebrate. This is the last topic for the #WholeMama link up. This link-up has been a beautiful community of writers. It has also been a place that challenges each of us, thereby creating true and lasting growth. For all #WholeMama has been, I am sincerely thankful.

Motherhood

Oftentimes, I find myself mourning the end of a season, a friendship, or a community. I know and understand that there are times for things and a time for you to continue growing outside of the comfort that has been created. But I cannot help to look back and remember. Instead of celebrating as I remember, I mourn. 

Today I am choosing to celebrate with #WholeMama. I am choosing to remember and celebrate the growth I saw and the topics I thought upon. Today, I am choosing to celebrate {Whole Motherhood.}

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Laughter, Mom, & Poop {#WholeMama}

POOP!

Yes, I just started this post by saying poop. Because I’m a (mostly) #boymom. And for some reason the mere sound of this word elicits undercover giggles and hearty chuckles from everyone in the room. Even me. And I’m supposed to be the sensible one in the group.

And I was. Really. I used to be the person that needed each knick-knack (though few) to be in the exact right spot. Not an inch off, exactly where I had them placed before someone so offensively knocked them an inch away. I used to be the person that didn’t allow poop jokes, or even the mention of poop. I was the mom that frowned and cringed when my children (and husband) made inappropriate sounds at the dinner table. I was the proper mom. 

But now, now, I am the one being reminded that we shouldn’t be saying “poop” at the dinner table. Now my children remind me that we can’t make certain jokes. Now I’m the mom who laughs with her children. 

Believe me, I still love rules and order, but I have also learned to smile, to laugh, and to be the teller of the “poop jokes.” Because I have learned that laughter is vitally important. It may not be the lifeblood of the family, but it is invaluable. Laughter is the fighter of the family. I know, that sounds counter-intuitive. Laughter as the warrior? But laughter is powerful, friends. Laughter has the power to break down walls, to unite hearts, and to carry joy. 

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Seeing Small: Embracing the Ordinary Moments {#WholeMama}

We just got back from a quick road trip to New York. We were camping, visiting family, and experiencing the Adirondack Mountains. It was breathtakingly beautiful. And as I stood at the center of the vast forest, at the base of these towering mountains, at the shore of the seemingly endless lake I could not help but feel small. Beautifully small. I felt this same sort of relief when I was in Greece, walking along ancient stone walls as I hiked a monstrous gorge.

SMALL AS RELIEF

It almost doesn’t make sense. When I think of small, I usually want to run. I don’t want to be thought of as small, insignificant, or unimportant. I want to be making a difference in this world, in the lives of those I am around. I want to live life fully. How can I do that if I am small?

Honestly friends, I think it’s easier than we think.

TIME FOR CHANGE: EMBRACE THE ORDINARY

We need to change the way we view small. Small is the everyday. Small can be found in those ordinary moments; you know, the ones we quickly and easily brush over. Small are the moments that don’t make it into a photo album or even onto our thankfulness lists. Small is: washing the dishes, cleaning the house, buying school supplies, making dinner, reading the Bible, snuggling, conversations with friends…and the list goes on. It is in those ordinary, everyday, small moments that life is lived. These small moments show love. The ordinary tasks dole out blessing. The grand adventures and vacations are beautiful and will certainly be remembered. But those small moments are life shaping. The moments that run together have the power to change lives. 

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Finding the Balance: Space & Community {#WholeMama}

My posting schedule is off this week, because sometimes you just need to take a step back. Sometimes you need space.

And how fitting, because today #WholeMama is talking about space.

Chicago Sunset

I see my children struggle with space. Desiring it yet also wanting to be surrounded by each other, their friends. Me. Space is funny that way, isn’t it? We desire space, we need it, but we also need and desire community. I don’t know about you, but I struggle in the very same way. My desire for community and my desire for space at odds with each other. Throw into the mix, 4 children that desire all of me, a wonderful husband that enjoys being around me (crazy, I know!), an amazing community of friends that are more like family, and a God that wants my time to honor Him. And that’s where I am: jumping headfirst into community while keeping boundaries that value my quiet time and my family time. 

SPACE = QUIET TIME

I have shared before how I love quiet time. During the school year quiet time comes easy, almost naturally. (You can read about how I do it, here.) But right now, it is summer time. That grand time of year where family vacations, sprinklers, gardens, and backyard adventures reside. And for me, summer is also the time of year that kills my quiet time. 

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Musings From the Sky: Thoughts on Prayer {#WholeMama}

Today I sit. I am enjoying the small everyday moments. The moments I have missed as I have been traveling this week. I am remembering the hard moments and the loud moments that come with this life of littles. The hugs, the playing, and the sweet words. I ease back into the routines of the day. I itch the mosquito bite and nurse the sleep deprivation/jet lag. I sit glassy eyed watching littles play and trying to remember to count them all (you know, so I don’t lose one). I talk with neighbors. I enjoy the cool air and cloudy sky. I rejoice in all of these small beautiful moments.

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When I saw that the weekly prompt for #WholeMama was prayer, I smiled. I think it is because prayer is something that has evolved. I grew up thinking of prayer as a time to rush through, eyes closed, hands neatly folded. I would pray at meals, bedtime, and when requested. But it wasn’t a relational prayer. As I grew, I kept that idea of prayer and expanded it. I allowed prayer into more of my life, but it was still in the dark. In the quiet. Hands folded neatly. Prayer wasn’t messy. It wasn’t the real, vulnerable prayer. It was tidy, exactly what I thought my God wanted.

But now. Now prayer is so much more. I still love the prayers whispered in the quiet, as I fall asleep. I love the prayers with my hands folded, just speaking to my God. I instill those same ideas into my children. But I add one more. That prayer can, and should, be more. It should be a relationship. It should ebb and flow into each facet of your life. God should be invited into the mess. Into the chaos of daily life. And my children are learning this. Though they still close their eyes (because everything is a distraction!), they are learning to stop and speak to God in the small moments. They are learning to hear God’s voice.

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Embracing the Mess of Me {#WholeMama}

Mess. Today I find myself away from home. (You can follow me on Instagram to see pictures as I adventure in Greece!) Removed from life with my littles. Far from the everyday mess. The everyday crazy and blessing that is life with littles.

And for me, it is easy to say that life can be messy with my littles. It is easy to push that mess aside and onto life with children. Instead of accepting any of that mess as my own. Instead of taking responsibility for my mess. Instead of acknowledging that the mess is mine too.

But, really, being away doesn’t mean I am away from the mess. No, instead I bring some of that mess with me. Even though I am exploring. Intentionally choosing to discover Chania, to see it with my own eyes. Through my own lens. Even though I am an adult and should have my act together. I bring along my mess. My good and my bad. The areas I am still growing. And I make a mess. In relationships. With people. With family.

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Intentional Quiet {#WholeMama}

Quiet. What an elusive idea. I find that our lives can be so full. So distracting. So loud. That we miss the quiet, though oftentimes we don’t even realize we are missing it. We miss the beauty in the simple. And we miss grace.

Thinking on quiet + motherhood + wholeness, I hit a roadblock. Honestly, I have another post ready and typed. But I just couldn’t publish it yet. Something is missing. Something isn’t right. So instead, today, you get this. These quiet thoughts. That are both real and vulnerable. Honest, and I hope they meet you right where you are. Searching for quiet. Searching for grace. Searching for truth.

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Today I began reading Genesis. I finished my journey through the Psalms and have decided to read through the Bible for the rest of this year. So today began where it all began, “In the beginning…”. I have read these verses time and time again. But today, today I noticed one verse that I had never really noticed before:

“The earth was without form and void and darkness was over the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters.” (Genesis 1:2)

There is something about this verse, about these 2 simple sentences that stops me right where I’m at. They shout loudly and whisper quietly at the same time. They speak straight to my soul. We were without form. Void. Empty. Darkness, sin, had come upon us. Entered into the beautiful. Darkness was over us. Around us. In us. But. But that was not how we were left. But God. But God entered in. He saw us where we were. Empty. Lifeless. And He hovered over us. Preparing us for life. Preparing to speak life over us. Through us. In us. 

As I sit and think on these words. I think about the quiet. The deep. The real. The beautiful. And of course, the grace. Always the grace.

I know that life is loud. I know that children are loud. I know that the things I surround myself with are loud. All vying for my attention. But when I enter into quiet. When I intentionally choose to still my heart. To sit quietly with my Lord. To read His words. I grow. I see that grace. I see His never ceasing, abounding love. And I feel quiet. I feel calm. I feel peace.

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