Flowers on the Counter

As the garage door rolled open, I smiled, very happy to be home.  It had been a fun-filled four days away, and I couldn’t wait to unload my sweet girl and my luggage to begin preparing for the week.

And then it happened, the door knob wouldn’t turn. What!?!?  “Why in the world would he lock the door??”  I tried again, but attempt number two was yielded the same result, I was locked out of my home.  My keys were securely on the kitchen counter, and the other set of keys to our home were in the air heading to Philadelphia in Josh’s carry-on luggage.

You wouldn’t have thought this crazy mama had just come back from a Christian conference, seeing the “good” or “potential” wasn’t happing… yet.  It was at this moment that I was so very thankful that I had a sweet travel buddy with me who quickly brought me back to the truth, “I’m sure he didn’t mean to lock you out; he must not have realized that he locked the door when he left.”  {Side note, she was locked out too, her car keys were locked inside my house as well.  Lovely, welcome home my friend!}

An hour of shady, breezy summer afternoon later, the locksmith arrived and 10 minutes later we were welcomed by a cool blast of arctic refreshment as the door was opened.  Ahhhh!  It felt like the heavens parted.  I rushed in with my daughter, luggage, and wallet in tow.  My sweet friend retrieved her keys and was on her way home, while I was left to settle the $250 bill with the locksmith at the kitchen counter.  My frustration was slightly boiling, probably due to the summer heat or my hungry toddler, as quickly I set out to begin my unpacking and preparing for the week ahead, passing the kitchen counter at least a hundred times (well at least 5).

And then, it hit me – there was a beautiful bouquet of flowers on the kitchen counter, a love note, and a jar of farmers market feta cheese.  Love was waiting to welcome me home.  And I missed it.

Lovely Welcome Home

I was so caught up in the hustle, bustle, and frustration of the day that I completely missed this beautiful gesture.  I’m sitting here shaking my head as I think about it.  How did I miss it?  Because I was so wrapped up in the moment – my plan, my emotions.

I’ve thought about this a number of times over the past weeks and realized that this is definitely a blind spot for me – my plan, my emotions.  How many times do I let the hustle, bustle, and frustration of the life cause me to miss the sight of the beautiful, loving gestures of my Heavenly Father?  Far too often.  Sigh.   I’m learning to embrace correction {that’s for another post} and this is a correction that I’m working to make – to slow down, let go of my plan and my emotions to see what beautiful, lovely things He has for me.

How many times do I let the hustle, bustle, and frustration of the life cause me to miss the sight of the beautiful, loving gestures of my Heavenly Father?  Far too often.

Lord, thank you for the lovely, beautiful things you have right in front of me.  I commit to making the changes necessary to see the things you have for me.  Please give me your vision, even in the midst of the hustle, bustle and frustration of life. 

Uniquely Yours,

Lisa

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Distractions

Man, Satan is good.  Really good, or is it bad, really bad?  Well, either way he’s really good at distracting me which is really bad.  Are you with me?

The Lord has been good (truly GOOD) to fill a space in my life that had grown void – ministering to women.  I had lost my way due to some “junk in my trunk” of life.  (That’s for another post…)  But, He was gracious to restore that sweet space of ministry earlier this fall.  And boy, has He restored it. I’ve been blessed to, yet again, get to know some wonderful women with a heart and desire to grow in the grace and knowledge of Christ.  It’s humbling to see His outpouring of love and growth in each of their lives.

So, fast forward into our study a few weeks as the Lord starts to show myself and my dear co-leader what is next for the study.  And it’s GOOD, I mean really GOOD.  It’s the stuff that sets the foundation for even more GREAT stuff.  But then, ah yes, then distraction sets in.   And, it’s in the form of wonderful stuff – a new house, a sweet little girl, business travel for the hubby, and school.  Add in a dose of procrastination to the hefty portion of school, and there you go – full-blown distraction.

Isn’t it crazy how that happens?  You’re trucking right along doing what you are supposed to be doing, and then *BAM* you get paralyzed in different places for reasons that you can’t comprehend.  The reality is that school is not terribly hard, it just takes dedication to get the work done.  But for some reason, this time I was hitting a block every time I attempted to get school work done.  Today, as I finished off my work and was emailing to my professor I realized, I’m now free of distraction to resume my preparation for the stuff that really matters.  Procrastination may have had me trapped in distraction this time, but I’m aware of it now and correction has been made.

Dear Lord,

I praise you for the mind you have blessed me with, as well as all of the wonderful things that are happening in my life.  I pray that you will allow those things to not be a distraction from what’s really important.  I commit to be disciplined to accomplish what needs to be done as quickly as possible, and not allow the things of this world to cause me to lose sight or time from the things of eternal significance.  Allow this “what’s next” with these sweet ladies to be powerful and life-changing in You!

 

Parakletos | He Who Began a Good Work…

A couple of weekends ago I participated in the Faith Runs Deep 5K at my church, Community Bible.  I walked/ran the 5K in the event’s inaugural year, it was the first time I had ever completed something of that magnitude.  (Yes, I know magnitude may sound like a strong word, but for me it was a BIG deal.  Exercise and me have not always been the dearest of friends.)  Last year, I didn’t register and found myself a little sad on the day of the event wishing I had participated again.  So, as soon as registration opened this year, I was all over it.  I registered for the 1 mile stroller dash, and was ready to give Savannah a fun walk/run in her cute carriage. 

Now, something to keep in mind…  I have been virtually exercise-free for the past year.  Between being pregnant and adjusting to new mommy-hood, the number of times I exercised can be counted across my fingers and toes.  I had great intentions and did really well for about four weeks between June and July.  I walked a few times a week at our local park, and really enjoyed it.  But as soon as the 100° temps started arriving by noon, I was done.  I reasoned that I would walk in the evenings after the sun went down, but there was always something deterring me (like the television, laundry – really great excuses, uhm not-so-much, but any excuse will do, right?).

So, the Saturday of the big event arrived.  Savannah and I woke at 7 am, got ready for our day and trekked off to CBC ready to knock out our 1 mile.  Even without training, I reasoned that I should be able to finish 1 mile in about 20 minutes, right?  We saw some familiar faces, did a little Zumba to warm up and took off for our first lap with the rest of the strollers, walkers, and cutie patootie little guys on tricycles.  And around we went, as we crossed the starting line, finishing our first lap and 1 mile, I looked at the clock – it was just under 20 minutes.  Whoo hoo!  Then I realized, I’m not tired at all, I can do another mile. So we did!  The sun started to shine a little brighter, and my body worked as a good sunshade for my sweet girl who enjoyed napping and looking at the people passing by.

We completed our second lap and it was 41 minutes.  As I looked at the clock, I immediately thought – “I can finish this in 1 hour, I just need to shave 1 minute off this lap.”  And around we went for our third and final lap.  It’s so funny that it didn’t even occur to me to stop after two miles, I immediately jumped to finishing the 5K.  Half way through the final lap, the sun began to deliver its full force on my un-sunned skin.  I knew I could finish, but the goal of finishing in an hour seemed to fade away and simply finishing was moving into focus.  Just when I was about to slow to a leisurely stroll, a sweet girl, a member of the Mac ROTC crew, started cheering me on.  Then she asked if she could push the stroller for me for a little while, which sounded like a wonderful gift.  As I passed the handle to her, she started to jog, and next thing I knew, I was jogging right along side her.  As the jog started to get harder, yet another sweet ROTC girl came along side me on the other side to jog with us.  I felt as if I was pulling their teenage strength, it was crazy.

As we approached the final stretch, they encouraged me to move to a faster jog.  I was certain I had the pedal to the metal and fought them.  Then as we rounded the corner and I could see the time clock, I saw that it was at 59 minutes and change, so close!  Without even thinking, I took off in a run, nearly a sprint. You would have thought I was finishing the Rock and Roll Marathon as I crossed that finish line, as I passed under that green and purple balloon archway I looked up to see 1:00:00 on the clock.  We did it!!  I finished the 5K in 1 hour and Savannah finished her first 5K.  Whoo hoo!

As I left the event, three thoughts rolled through my mind and continue today:

  • The two ROTC girls were parakletes to me – they came alongside me.  There was no way I would have attained my 1 hour goal had they not stepped up, literally alongside me, and set a new pace.  There is such power in supportive people.  Even when we think we can’t go on, He brings people beside us to set a new pace to reach the goals He has for us. 
  • We are called to run the race of the Christian life with perseverance and endurance, even as the hot sun beat on me I knew I needed to finish what I started.  Made me think of Hebrews 12:1, we are called to run the race of our faith with perseverance.
  • I was inspired to do this event and was faithful to complete it – and even better and bigger than I had planned.  Which brought Phillipians 1:6 to my mind – He is faithful to complete His good work in us!!

Dear Lord,

Thank you for bringing the right people along side me exactly when I need them!  I commit to run the race with endurance, leaning on you to provide me the strength I need for the journey.  You are so faithful to complete the good work in us, and I pray that You will shine through me!

Uniquely yours,
Lisa

Right under the clothes, I mean my nose…

This past weekend Josh asked me what I wanted to do and I told him emphatically that we needed to get more 3 month size clothes for Savannah, specifically pajamas. It seemed that she only had one clean outfit each evening, which was really stressing me out. I know it sounds silly, but I was really bothered that I had not adequately prepared for this 3 month age. (Yes, I’m a planner.) So, off to the stores we went on Sunday; sleeping little girl in tow, and proud papa ready to pick out cute pj’s for his princess.

We found some adorable jammies and a few other sale items perfect for her stylish wardrobe. As we left the store I smiled feeling relieved that my little girl had the soft, footed, button-up pj’s that she needed. Fast forward to this morning. Task of the day: get laundry done! As I folded the first load of miniature clothes, I discovered something… She had seven pajamas safely snuggled in her laundry basket. Yikes! Exactly what she needed was right under my nose, or her clothes. I just needed to dig them out and wash them.

As I celebrated the fact that I had not cut the price tags off her newly purchased jammies, I realized that just as I quickly run to resolve whatever is missing in my daughter’s wardrobe with something new, so do I do that in my relationship with the Lord.

I will feel like something is lacking in my life and look for the perfect book, study, song, message or whatever to fill it. The funny (or sad) thing is, all along what I really need is right there waiting for me – time with Him.

Time spent in His presence is a gift that fills whatever appears to be missing in my life. It allows me to see the riches I do have (that aren’t in the bank!), the blessings He has bestowed (that I’m often too “blind” to see) and peace in His coming plans (when my nature is to fret).

So, needless to say there is a new rule in the Hamilton household: No shopping for clothes until the laundry is done!  (This may save us a little money too!)  And a new rule in my life: No running to other things to fill my thirsty soul, be still and know Him first! (I think this is one for the bathroom mirror!)

Dear Lord,

Thank you for being the Living Water. Nothing satisfies like you do. Even when I feel like something is missing and I need something new, thank you for always being exactly what I need!

Uniquely yours,
Lisa

Truth in Fiction

Over the past couple of years I have become quite the avid reader of Christian fiction novels. One look at my Nook list of downloads and you’ll find books by authors Karen Kingsbury and Francine Rivers covering the screen. I just finished a series by Karen Kingsbury, and to be very honest I was feeling very guilty for spending my (nursing) hours in a fiction book rather than the Word. But, I had a revelation – these books, these stories of family and faith have reminded me of some old truths of which I had lost sight.

  1. God is Always Moving
  2. Our Minds Can Trap Us
  3. Prayer and Faith Always Win

God is Always Moving

Throughout my life, I often find myself looking at my current situation and asking God, “Why?” (And honestly rarely leave Him time to answer, which I am committing to do more.) “How can any good come of this?” “Where are we going to live?” “How will my daughter grow and mature without me?” and so on. But, I am now reminded that He is always moving. There is never a moment when He is not. He is omnipresent – everywhere. A perk of reading a novel is that you get insight into how multiple lives are spinning at the same time, if only we could have that insight in real life (uhm, or maybe not!). Another perk is that multiple weeks, months, or even years are condensed into a couple of days worth of reading – so you can quickly see the pieces of the puzzle move together so elegantly and quickly.

Even though I don’t have the answers to the who, what, where, when, why and how of a situation, He does and will always work them out and place the puzzle pieces where He intends for them to reside. God is good and everything He does is good. It may not be plain as day to us, but we don’t have the vision to see things as He does. Just read a book of the Bible and you will quickly be reminded! (I read Esther today – talk about a good reminder that He is moving, even when He isn’t mentioned!)

Our Minds Can Trap Us

By nature, I am a very selfish person, and my mind reveals that more than any other aspect of me. Left to my own thoughts, the world can become a very dismal place. I think of my own versions of why things are the way they are (which is most often not the truth), ponder what ifs, focus on how things could go wrong… you get the point. Those thoughts very often have left me paralyzed in my faith, health, and relationships with others. I was reminded in my reading that I’m not the only one who struggles in that way. Left to our own device (our mind), we can quickly become stuck. However, when I focus on the Lord and think as He has called me to think – on those things that are true, right, pure, lovely, of good report; freedom comes quickly and the trap of my mind is released. PTL!

Prayer and Faith (in God) Always Win

A guest pastor this weekend spoke on “Real Faith” and it was such a great reminder that faith + action is how we are called to live our lives. A major action in the Christian’s life is prayer. Although I’m sure He’s happy to hear my prayer, I’m confident that prayer with faith is exactly what He’s looking to hear. While things may not pan out as I would expect, or quite as quickly as I would hope, I know that His perfect plan will always win out when I place my faith and prayer at His feet. (Side Note: It may appear strange that I added (in God) to the heading above – but many people “pray” to many things and many people have “faith” embroidered on their t-shirts or purses, but it’s prayer and faith in God that has yielded true movement in my life. Just sayin’.)

It is so beautiful to read reminders of these truths – even in the pages of fiction. However, I’m putting my Nook down for a couple of weeks. It’s time to get deep in the Word, I know it sounds strange but even as I read Esther today I felt it calling to me to spend more time there – so much to glean from truth in His Word!

Dear Lord,

Thank you for giving authors who love you and seek you wisdom to pen such beautiful reminders of faith and truth. I pray that you bless them in their ministry, and protect them from schemes that may taint their works. Allow them to focus on your glory.

Thank you for your Word Lord. It is such a gift and I can’t wait to see the truths you will reveal in my life in the coming years as I grow in knowledge of you more and more.

Uniquely yours,
Lisa

Lactation Oatmeal Cookies w/ Chocolate Chips & Raisins

I have learned that for many nursing mothers, low milk production is a common issue – both when starting to nurse and when returning to work (and at other times too).  I found some great items to help milk production and cookies seemed to be an easy thing to add to my new busy life.  The original recipe was a little heavy and I lightened it up using Splenda and applesauce.  I eat one to two of these a day with a glass of milk.  Josh enjoys them too!

 

Ingredients

  • 4 Tbsp water  
  • 2 Tbsp ground flax seed meal  
  • 1/2 cup(s) SPLENDA® Splenda sugar blend for baking  
  • 1/2 cup(s) SPLENDA® Splenda brown sugar blend  
  • 1/2 cup(s) regular butter  
  • 1/2 cup(s) unsweetened applesauce
  • 2 eggs  
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract  
  • 2 cup(s) all-purpose flour  
  • 1 tsp baking soda  
  • 1 tsp table salt  
  • 2 Tbsp yeast, Brewer’s Yeast 
  • 3 cup(s) rolled oats  
  • 1 cup(s) semi-sweet chocolate
  • 1 cup(s) raisins  

 

 

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350.
  2. Mix the flaxseed meal and water and let sit for 3-5 minutes.
  3. Beat butter, applesauce, sugar, and brown sugar well.
  4. Add eggs and mix well.
  5. Add flaxseed mix and vanilla, beat well.
  6. Sift together flour, brewers yeast, baking soda, and salt.
  7. Add dry ingredients to butter mix.
  8. Stir in oats. chips and raisins.
  9. Scoop onto baking sheet.
  10. Bake for 8-12 minutes.
  11. Let set for a couple of minutes then remove and allow to cool on a wire rack.
  12. Store in a bag with a piece of bread or freeze – they thaw really quickly. They will dry out if stored in a plastic bag for more than a day or two,

Makes 24 cookies

Weight Watchers Points Plus Value: 6

Transition

I knew this season would be short one and that the transition would be daunting, but as the end moves closer I feel a little overwhelmed.  Becoming a mother has been wonderful, resting with my little girl and sharing a special bond with her has become a constant part of my day.  And in just a few short weeks our days will change, dramatically.

I’m blessed to have a comfortable plan for people to love on her when I return to work, but oh the transition.  So much to think of… when to pump, what time to wake up, what to take, where to go, who will take her… and on and on.  As I go to bed each evening, I’m finding myself starting to make lists again (oh my!).  So, I’m choosing right now to lay this transition at His feet.  He has the perfect plan for my family, and for now this transition is part of that great tapestry.

Dear Lord,

Your word says to bring everything to your feet, so that’s what I’m doing.  Prepare my heart, mind, and body for this transition.  Put a special place in the hearts of those that will care for my sweet Savannah, so she will feel safe and secure with them.  And allow me to see You in this awkward season.

Uniquely yours,
Lisa