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seasons of life

7 Aug

At the beginning of summer we knew we would be busy. We had 4 scheduled trips for our family to embark upon: a working week at a camp in Tennessee, a family reunion in New York, a family reunion in Michigan, and a beach trip to Amelia Island, Florida. Little did we know that within those weeks we would also have our church, that my husband planted 6 months ago assume another church in our area that was closing its doors and that we would attend a funeral for my husband’s grandmother.

Our summer of crazy and busy just turned into a summer of almost unmanageable. We would drive 13 hours for a trip to have my husband fly out of that airport 24 hours later to go back to church to do what he had to do. Then he’d fly back into town 24 hours later for us to drive the 13 hours back home at 6 am the next morning. Not even an hour after his grandmother’s service for her funeral, he flew home to be there for church. That time I decided to stay on with his family with the littles for the week and had a much needed respite.

I remember my sweet husband turning to me as we drove back from Michigan asking me if our life would always be so crazy. “Was this the new normal?” I couldn’t imagine that.

Today as I sat on the beach, watching my littles love the water, my husband relax in a chair to the tune of the ocean waves, and my family that I love so dearly around me, I realized that this is a season of life. I know Ecclesiastes 3 tells me that “there is a time for everything and a season for every activity.” To this I have to hold firm to. Things will change and we’ll find ourselves in either a new season or back to where we were. I won’t feel overwhelmed, broken, lost, and wanting. Hopefully by the end of this season I will embrace the conviction I’ve had this summer that I need full reliance on Him, the one who created me, the one who knows these are fine details, not the big picture – on God. Maybe we’ve had the chaos this season to remind me I cannot do it without Him. I need HIm. I need to get back to my reliance on Him.

I’m going to embrace this season and learn all I can from it. I know as I sit on the beach these last days that summer is coming to a close and soon it will be a new season. I will embrace it. I will turn to Him. And I will learn. Learn from it, more about me, more about Him, and more about my need for someone I can depend on.

 

gardening, prayer, New York, and a giveaway

21 Jun

It’s going to be a hot one here today! Heat indexes in the 105-110. Ye-ow!! So we have ¬†playdate scheduled with some friends to help occupy the littles. Hopefully we’ll find some water play in there somewhere too to keep cool!

A few random happenings/thoughts today:

Our garden: So we are year two into gardening. Up until this point, I was that person who kills everything living. But last year we did okay considering it was our first year and this year is going okay as well. I enjoy gardening and enjoy eating what we grow even more! It’s such a great experience for the littles as they tend to it, learn about it, and eat from it. This year we’re growing tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, zucchini, melons, onions, strawberries, and watermelons. My tomatoes aren’t doing well, but our watermelons are taking over everything! They’re growing so quickly too that you can almost see them growing if you stand by and watch! There are so many life lessons you can learn from being in the garden.

Prayer: My heart is burdened for struggles that many around me are having. Battles with illness, miscarriage, life changes, struggles with their children, church transitions and changes, and the list goes on. Don’t the needs of those around you just leave you weary sometimes? I am glad I can call on the One who listens and is always there. Some days I just feel I need more quiet in my life to really focus on prayer and time with Him.

New York: In 9 days we’re travelling to New York for a family reunion and some time in the city. I’ve never been and am really excited to bring the kids and see everything. We have planned to ride on the Staten Island ferry, go on the subway, visit Times Square, Ground Zero, and Central Park. What great ideas do you have to share about going to New York? Sites to see with kids? Things to avoid? Hints, tips, tricks? Bring it on!

Giveaway: I’m really excited about a great giveaway I have coming up at the end of the week. It’s something unique, but something that I love and really think you’re going to like as well. I’ll be introducing you to a really special gal too. And I KNOW we can get more people to enter than those that entered the last giveaway. So once it’s up, pass it on to your friends, leve a comment – you never know – you could be the winner (although you probably are one who thinks you never win anything!). ūüôā

Enjoy the first day of summer! We’re working hard on our summer lists and trying to keep the littles from being bored.

i’m not enough…

20 Jun

We returned home this weekend from a week spent in the beautiful mountains of East Tennessee. It was a great time – my husband spoke a week at Appalachian Christian Camp, we visited our alma mater and enjoy sights and places we loved in college with our children. We visited with friends from high school and had a beautiful week in God’s peaceful creation. BUT now I am sitting here buried under laundry, a grimy house, toys, and dishes. We head to New York in a week and a half for part 2 of part 4 of the Richards Family Summer of Travel and I’m feeling overwhelmed. Add to that some stress for my sweet husband at work and some added responsibility to my plate and I am really feeling like “not enough.” Tonight at church we sang a song and this line resonated in my head, “I lift my eyes up my help comes from the Lord.”

I don’t show enough grace to those I love.
                     i am not enough, but HE is.

I can’t keep up with the daily demands of my family and home.
                     i am not enough, but HE is. I lost my temper at my sweet child today, and yelled, really loud.
                    i am not enough, but HE is.
How can I juggle family, work, school, church, and friends?
                    i am not enough, but HE is.
I have heavy thoughts on my heart.
                    i am not enough, but HE is.
Change. All around.
                    i am not enough, but HE is.
Friends hurting, friends confused.
                    i am not enough, but HE is. I am weary at the end of the day.
                    i am not enough, but HE is.
I want so much more from my relationship with Christ.

                    i am not enough, but HE is.

I am overwhelmed with what’s expected of me, what I expect from myself.
                    i am not enough, but HE is.

Thankful today that my help comes from the Lord and that when I’m not enough, I can count on it that HE is and with Him I’ll make it through.

Mama bird’s nest giveaway winner!

11 Jun

I wanted to be sure that I announced the winner of the Mama Bird’s Nest pendant or ring before we left tomorrow morning to go to Tennessee.

The winner (as determined by random number generator at random.org) is……

Teresa Zeller!! 

Her comment: “I have 2 little blessings in my nest, so far. Always have the baby bug so who knows if our nest will grow?!?! I liked Mommy needs Coffee on FB!”

CONGRATULATIONS Teresa on winning!! Please e-mail me your preference of ring or pendent¬†and I’m assuming you want those 2 sweet eggs in your nest.

______________________________________________________

This upcoming week we’ll be in Tennessee where my husband will be speaking for a week to a camp of Junior HIgh students. Please pray with me that hearts are open to hear God’s message and that Satan is bound from that place this week. I’m expectant on what God is going to do through this week of camp, the leaders, and the teens. I’m praying for revival in their schools, communities, and homes as a result of this week at camp. So please pray with me this week if you think of it!

I’m looking forward to getting back to where we went to college and to be in some of God’s most beautiful creation of the mountains. I’m excited to hear His voice speak to me this week as well as I enjoy His presence in His creation.

I hope you have a wonderful week! I may check back in at some point, but for the most part I’m unplugging until Friday.

xo,

Michelle

dealing with big disappointment

3 Jun

It sure was a day yesterday. I started the morning by being woken by two very-wide-awake-with-bunches-of-energy little boys that were playing with water balloons in the house, soaking my bathroom. Sigh. How do they wake with so much energy and  I wake up so tired?

In light of being the start to summer, I thought we’d tackle something from our Summer List and head to Congaree National Park for a little nature fun. We had a play date at the pool scheduled the afternoon, but were wide open for the morning. The boys were very excited about spotting salamanders and owls and were ready quickly, leaving the water balloons behind. We set off.

Now if there is one thing those close to me know is that I like to plan ahead. I like to be on time to places, I stress about being late, and I like to know the directions of where I’m going. For whatever reason, I had my hubs look up the directions to the park on my iPhone Google Maps. It was being slow and wonky so he looked it up on his and we wrote them down.

To go to a place that should have taken 40 minutes, I was in the car with the kids, now antsy, hungry, and frustrated for 2 hours, and the directions sent us down two dirt roads that ended up dead-ending into the backside of the park, bordered by a river, without the entrance. Technology fail. ¬†The map got us to the place alright, just not the right part of the place. FYI, don’t trust map programs or GPS’s EVER!

From there, we drove the route that we should have taken, backtracking, adding another 30 minutes to our trip. Time in car = 2 1/2 hours. I knew the littles needed some incentive to keep going at this point as they were alternating between frustration and crying. They were at each other, upset, disappointed, and probably a bit hungry too. We stopped at a gas station to get a slushy. That’d make it better, right? Got the kids out of the car, tears and frustration forgotten – and realized that I didn’t have my debit card. No way to buy a slushy. Mom of the year right here! Now I had one boy angrily telling me I was the worst mom ever and ruined his day, one quietly grieving, and the baby screaming through tears “slushy!” Back in car, continue towards park.

My oldest mentioned swimming that afternoon and at that point I decided we needed to pull over and have a heart to heart. With the added time (now at 2 hours, 45 min in the car) we probably wouldn’t make it to the pool for swimming. As you can guess, that did not go over well at all. More tears, anger, disappointment, sadness. I gave them the choice on which they wanted to do and picked swimming although they were very disappointed to miss going on the journey we had started out on. Return towards home, get husband and his debit card, get slushy. Time in car = 3 hours.

Somehow, and all I can say was it was God, but I was able to have long-suffering and compassion throughout all this. I saw my sweet children, broken with sadness and disappointment. That disappointment was caused by me and it saddened me. In those moments I was able to thank God for creating them so different as I saw the different ways they expressed themselves, I thanked God for the gentle lessons we were learning about choices and disappointments in life, I was thanking God for my patience and empathy (usually in short supply!), and I was thanking God for grace – the way He delivers me each day from my sin and the way He teaches me to show it to my children. In times when I would normally be irritated, angered, and impatient I found joy, compassion, and gentleness. Truly these were gifts of the Spirit as I pleaded to Him in my response!

We never ended up anywhere in those 3 hours, but I believe we ended up closer despite the big disappointments. The littles saw me on their team and as truly sorry for what they were dealing with. They want to try again tomorrow, but I’m not so sure. Think it may take me a few days to get over this!

 

“me do it!”

18 May

marker + toddler = face art

We’ve entered that toddler phase where the words “me do it” are a frequent occurrence each day. Whether it is buckling the car seat buckle, putting on shoes, taking off her diaper, or cutting her food, Harper exclaims “me do it” over and over, quite emphatically too. This is requiring a lot more patience from me! After being out of that toddler stage for a few years I have forgotten what it was like. A lot of the time her cries of “me do it” turn to tears of frustration as she doesn’t quite have the skills needed to accomplish whatever task is at hand. She wants so desperately to have the independence to make her own decisions. She desires to feel the joy from being able to do it in her own means. But as her mom, I can watch the process from the distance, my experience knows the outcome and has the knowledge to help and assist to ensure a favorable outcome.

I was thinking on this the other day in an exasperated moment and realized that it’s much how I am with God. I want to do “it” myself. Very often I try to handle my own problems, my own decisions, my own conflicts without seeking His help or assistance. Sometimes I hand it over to Him, I let Him in the driver’s seat for a quick moment, until I feel that need for control again and I slowly take it back into my own hands. I wonder why I’m frustrated with my decision or I can’t figure out an answer. Problems seem like weights on my shoulders, and conflict goes unresolved. However, like I have foreknowledge of what my daughter is experiencing and the outcome, God knows the bigger picture in my life too.

Casting the whole of your care [all your anxieties, all your worries, all your concerns, once and for all] on Him, for He cares for you affectionately and cares about you watchfully. 1 Peter 5:7 (AMP)

Cast your burden on the Lord [releasing the weight of it] and He will sustain you; He will never allow the [consistently] righteous to be moved (made to slip, fall, or fail). Psalm 55:22 (AMP)

‚ÄėDo not fear, for I am with you; do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, surely I will help you, surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.‚Äô¬†Isaiah 41:10

I can trust God with anything and He knows best. I don’t need to be frustrated, anxious, fearful, or stressed because I know He will sustain, strengthen, uphold, and help me. And just like a patient momma, even more so, He waits, lovingly, for me to trust Him for this help. I don’t need to echo the words “me do it” to Him, I just need to trust God and hold out my hand.

weekend wrap-up

25 Apr

I actually used the timer to catch a rare pic of me with the littles! Ice cream man visit: good times!

Our weekend was a great one, moments of busyness, moments of peacefulness and rest, and moments of bandaids and ice. ‘Tis the life with my three monkeys! We had a Good Friday Night of Worship at Columbia Church that was so so so amazing. I wept as I worshipped the one hanging on the cross with these words:

Never knew through these nails would love unfold
And never knew these wounds would heal my soul
I’ve never seen such beauty and sorrow meet
The blood of Jesus was bled for me

It was our first Night of Worship and was just great. We sang, cried, took communion, and rejoiced and celebrated that the one who died, wouldn’t be in the tomb for long and the truth that because of that we can rejoice with God in heaven one day!

On Saturday we hung around and did some house things: canning strawberry jam, cleaning, chasing baby birds, spreading mulch. 

sent my man running

Enter in the bandaid: in moving some new mulch we found the largest¬†centipede¬†thing I have ever seen. Well, I thought it would be cute to throw it on hubby (a.k.a. bug baby). Yes, I did it. No shame, I know. He squealed like a girl then immediately looked for the bug for payback. As I ran away from him, I snagged my jeans and leg on the screw sticking from a piece of wood. Not too bad, but definitely needed a bandaid. While this is taking place, the boys were working on chasing the baby birds that¬†decided¬†to leave their nest, made snugly in our garage. 5 baby birds in all, hopping/flying in all directions. Momma bird squawking. They were getting lost in boxes and corners of the garage so we had to catch them and help them out. Golly gee! I couldn’t imaging being a momma with 5 to chase like that?!

Benjamin with baby bird

Then, we had our best friends over for dinner Saturday night. Love me some friends that can come for frozen pizza and salad (and even bring their own pizza!) and have just as much fun as if I had slaved in the kitchen all day. It was a perfect day. All day though I couldn’t help reflecting on how Jesus’ friends must have felt not knowing that the resurrection was coming. We have such a vantage point in the Easter story knowing how it ends. They didn’t have that. Hmm..

umh..the best pic I actually could get, for real

After dinner the kids were taking showers/baths. Enter in the need for ice: my calm, lovely wild, creative boys were in the shower and got the brainiac idea to soap up the shower floor with shampoo and soap, then “skate” on it back and forth in the shower. Hmm.. what about this doesn’t SOUND good?! Yes, little man, Benjamin slipped, fell, and hit his head on the tile wall (or floor). Egg on his head and hence the need for ice. Boys. Other than that, besides the nagging, awful headache I had all day, it was a very beautiful and wonderful day.¬†

As the weekend comes to a close, I am keenly aware that I don’t want this weekend’s feelings and thoughts to be “just Easter weekend” to me. I want to carry it thorough all year long. I want the cross to be in the forefront of my mind as I see my sinful nature and daily confess and turn from it. I want to live each day as if the tomb is empty and we have such a wonderful reason to celebrate. I want to know grace, give grace, and show my kids an example of grace. And lastly, I want to love. Deeply.¬†

Hoping you had a wonderful Easter!