"'For I know the plans I have for you,' declares the Lord, 'plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.'" Jeremiah 29:11-13

Saturday I attended a wonderful women's retreat, The Journey, at the Aledo United Methodist Church. This year's theme was, The Seasons of a Woman's Heart. God touched me in so many ways through the talks, music, and skits. I left feeling at peace and as though God had planted several treasures in my heart to dig through later. Now you all know what happened next, right?

I needed to stop at Dollar General so I could take advantage of their $5/$25 coupon and my husband needed a break from both kiddos, so I took our oldest, our 2.5 year old daughter, with me. Now, I should have known it was going to be an interesting trip when she kept refusing to get out of the van with Daddy and come with me. But, I convinced her that I was going to be looking for Dora flip flops for her, so she reluctantly came with me.

Holy Cow! I don't know what happened to my sweet child, but she went nuts in the store. She wanted to walk...but couldn't quit touching everything, so I had to put her in the cart. My coupon binder was in the front seat of the cart, so I had to put her in the basket part (yeah, bad idea). She then proceeded to keep standing up in the cart, which I repeatedly (in a calm tone that only came from a day spent with the Lord) that she had to sit down or she was going to fall out onto her head. Of course, she didn't care and kept standing up and wanting to turn the pages of my coupon binder. Before obeying and sitting down on her buns, she proceeded to give me a loud lecture about telling her what to do. I just kept repeating in my head, "Give me patience Lord. I don't know what to do with this mouthy child!"

She kept herself entertained for a while making a "couch" out of the toilet paper packs I put in the cart. Hey, she was sitting down, so who cares about smooshed TP rolls. A few isles later she decided it would be fun to throw things out of the cart. Now for this she did get her hand swatted (at least three times) before quitting this annoying little game.

Then, as I'm unloading the cart at the checkout, I realize I was missing two items that I needed for  my coupons. I immediately ask Natalie if she had thrown them out of the cart. Her repeated response was "throw them out of the cart?" The sad part is, I thought I had put the items in the cart, but I honestly couldn't remember for sure. So her and I made a mad dash to grab the two items while a kind women waited behind me in line.

Now my fellow extreme couponers know that checkout is the critical time of your shopping trip to make sure everything rings up correctly and coupons scan the way they should. I unfortunately couldn't pay any attention to what the cashier was doing because Natalie just kept whining about wanting to put on her new flip flops. We had obviously flustered the cashier, which I totally don't blame her because I was flustered too, because before we left she told me to check my receipts when I got home and let her know if anything was wrong.

By this time we are 45-minutes late to pick up our carry-out pizza. When we got to Casey's, I ran into a friend from high school and stood outside chatting with her for a while. When I finally got the pizza, the guy behind the counter says, "yeah, I was wondering what happened to you." I thought buddy, you don't want to know. When we left, I was trying to hurry and ended up leaving my keys in my car door, which provided a good laugh for both my friend and I. Her perfect response was, "I can't wait for motherhood." :-)

We FINALLY get home and for some silly reason I don't want to have to make multiple trips in the house with grocery bags and such; so I load myself down like a mule and tried to carry all the bags, including the bag with my huge coupon binder in it, and the pizza to the back door. I of course drop the package of paper towels, which Natalie snatches up and lugs to the back the door. The sight of us trying to get the doors open probably would have won us $25,000 on America's Funniest Videos. I was laughing so hard I thought I was going to wet my pants (any of you moms know that after two kids that was a real possibility.)

Now, only God could help me see the humor in the situation and not unleash a fury of criticisms. The lessons from the day kept rolling over in head and my heart: "He knows the plans He has for me" Jeremiah 29:11, "It is the Lord Jesus Christ that I am serving" Colossians 3:24, "There is a time for everything and a season for every activity under heaven" Ecclesiastes 3:1, "He will instruct me and teach me in the way that I should go. He will counsel me and watch over me." Psalm 32:8.

I praise God for His love and for His mercy. I praise God for this beautiful, chaotic, unpredictable season of life. "For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things. To Him be glory forever! Amen." Romans 11:33
 
 
“Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.” Colossians 3:23-24

Good Morning! Oh how I’ve missed blogging the last few days. My family and I spent four days visiting my sister and then with Easter preparation yesterday morning, I’ve been out of my routine. It feels so good to sit down and write again.

We had a wonderful time visiting with family the last several days, but now I’m now faced with the aftermath. You know what I’m talking about: the piles of laundry, the bags of “stuff” dropped here and there, dishes to be found and washed, and just that overwhelming feeling of chaos.

Has anyone ever read the book, “Men are like Waffles and Women are Like Spaghetti?” Well, today, I’m a total spaghetti thinker. One little task leads to three more. The mess left from our trip, reminds me that I really wanted to get our office/toy room organized today. Thinking about organizing the office makes me think about paperwork in general and the fact that I still don’t have our taxes prepared and I really need to get back on track with our family budget. The family budget triggers the thought that I need to go to the grocery store but not until I check for store deals. Even if I check for store deals, I still need to get my coupons organized. For some reason organizing coupons reminds me that Seth has a meeting tonight that I wanted to bake cookies for. Oh nuts, and Jadon leaked through his diaper this morning, so I need to make sure to wash his bedding. Speaking of Jadon, his pants look horrible after crawling around on the floor, I really need to clean the floor. Oh, and Seth needs his suits dry cleaned this week and wants to go to Muscatine today, which would be a great opportunity to get that grocery shopping done. Nuts, I really need to get that menu done, my nieces will be here for supper tonight and we are providing the meal for Bible Study Wednesday night, but I have no idea what to fix. Fix...Oh, I need to get those names and numbers entered so I can let everyone know my new phone number. **Sniff**Sniff** Do I smell a poopy diaper?

Of course, all of these thoughts run through my mind in 5 seconds, giving me no time to really focus on any of them, but get incredibly overwhelmed by all of them. “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.” Psalm 46:10. I know that way too often I run through life jumping from one thing to another and never think about exalting God in any of it. Has not God called me to motherhood and all the crazy joys that come along with it?

Taking a moment to “be still” and then choosing to exalt Him in all that I do, doesn’t remove the burdens of being a wife and mother; but it certainly helps keep it all in perspective. As a mom, I am serving the Lord. As a housekeeper, I’m serving the Lord. As a cook, I’m serving the Lord. As a bookkeeper, I’m serving the Lord. As a pastor’s wife, I’m serving the Lord. As a child of the risen King, I am serving the Lord.

May my ramblings today help you know you are not alone in your craziness and encourage you to think about serving Him as you tackle the to-do list. My first 'to-do' for the day: serve the Lord at the diaper changing station.

 
 
“There is a time for everything and a season for every activity under heaven.” Ecclesiastes 3:1

I’ve read this verse many times in my life and just lumped it together with the verses that followed: “a time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to uproot...” but never really thought too much about it. Today however this verse jumped off the page. I felt in my heart it was speaking directly to me regarding my life right now as a mother of two little ones. 

Being a mom of a 2-year old and 8-month old can be so overwhelming. How can these two beautiful children, that I begged God for, cause so much stress?! A trip to the grocery store can drive me so nuts that I wish I had a sedative. Not to mention the day-to-day, minute-by-minute demands that leave me no time to focus or complete a thought. 

Just to drive home the point, I woke up at 5:30 and started reading my Bible and blogging shortly after. It is now 10:00 and I have yet to finish writing. I have been interrupted by an early morning riser who needed an immediate diaper change and was then content in his pack ‘n play for 5 minutes before demanding a bottle. After the bottle, he went from my lap, to the floor, to the exersaucer, to my lap, to the jumper, back to the floor, back to my lap, and then finally back to sleep an hour later. Of course, you know what happened next, right?

Yes, then my daughter wakes up ready for attention. She sits on my lap for a few minutes before asking for chocolate milk and yogurt. While getting that ready, I realize she is in desperate need of a diaper change as well. Then, there was a meltdown, over sitting at the dinning room table instead of her play table, which of course woke up her brother. He proceeded to scream and cry which caused a total mommy meltdown.

I told my husband that I needed a timeout and retreated to the bathroom. I flipped on the radio and Jeremy Camp’s song “Healing Hand of God” was playing. **Sigh** Perfect song for me to listen to as I stood in the hot shower, crying, and asking God for strength.

God knew what this morning was going to bring. He knew what interruptions were coming. He knows my current stress level and He cares! This lesson on Seasons isn’t meant to be learned in one day. This is an ongoing lesson that He must teach me every single day. Today I stand on the promise in Psalm 46:1 that “God is my refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.” I must turn to Him for wisdom and discernment in this and every season of life.