If we were hanging out - Let's chat about motherhood + ROUGH days...

I love the series "if we were hanging out" because really it's just me pretending to sit across the table from you with a cup of coffee in my hand...chatting like we were actually together.

Motherhood is hard, right? Some days REALLY hard. If you're not a mom yet, don't let this post scare you, I promise not every day is like this.

And if you ARE a mom...you've been there, right?

Well, last Tuesday was one of those days. It wasn't just rough, it was R.O.U.G.H. You feel me?? Sigh.

Do you have your coffee yet? If not, go pour a cup and I'll tell you about it...that way next time your day makes you want to cry, you can know you're not alone. This isn't the only time I've written about the ridiculous chaos that is motherhood.

Let's start the story with a post I had written in 2014 (when Elsabet was two)...so you can get a glimpse of what I'm talking about before diving into what happened this week.

It has to do with a toddler, a sharpie, a kitten + kitty litter, and destroyed homework...all while I was trying to fix dinner. 

Little Elsabet.png

. . . . . .

Did you read it? Are ya back? Ok great. So...my youngest daughter is wonderful and amazing but super high-energy. And slightly (more than slightly) exhausting.

Our ridiculous day last Tuesday was the last day of Summer break for Laith so he, Elsabet, and I planned to go to the museum...until Elsa threw up.

Bummer.

I snuggled her in a blanket and turned on PBS kids so she could rest while I cleaned up. Shortly after I the kitchen was (finally) clean from all the breakfast and lunch-packing chaos from the other kids who were already in school, Elsabet came up to me saying "I pulled out one of my braids."

Now before you think, "So? Who cares...just braid her hair up again", I've got to tell you that she has extensions. Yes. My FOUR-year-old has extensions. You have my permission to roll your eyes or chuckle. But if you don't have African heritage, it's hard to explain the hair-world to you. It's a thing. Like a HUGE deal.

Elsabet.jpg

On Easter, we had a bunch of friends over for brunch (since we don't have family in town, we open our home folks who also don't have family close by). My dear friend Millie, who is a refugee from Sierra Leone told me, "Elsabet needs extensions". I looked at her puzzled, "She DOES?! She's four!" But Millie convinced me I should do it and as I laughed, I told her if she wanted to do it herself, she was welcome to put them in.

So a week later she showed up at my doorstep with a bag full of hair and did.

Don't you just love friends?

Anyway, little Elsabet has had extensions in here and there since April. It takes about six hours to secure them onto her scalp because the kid just won't sit still! All the shows, snacks, games, jokes, more snacks, and anything we can think of, is not enough to distract her from wiggling and wanting to run around.

Sometimes we'll break it up into two days, which is so goofy looking (as you can see by the photo below). I try to not go anywhere when her hair is half done, I just get too many comments. (The non-stop hair comments kill me. People, I'm white. Give me a little grace here...I'm still figuring hair out.)

Look at this photo. I mean, laughter is totally appropriate here. She is SO wiggly that sometimes and refuses to sit still for more than a few minutes so it takes foreeeeeeever. This is real-life, people! Hilarious real life. (eye roll)

What I'm trying to say is the fact that she's pulling out sections of her braids is traumatic for me because I know how long it took to get them in! If you're wondering why we'd put our little girl through that many hours of sitting just for her hair...know that when her hair is done, we don't have to do it for a month or two! And with her beautiful but SUPER tight curls, that is just so major. Picking or brushing her hair each day makes me want to cry because it makes her cry so much.

I digress.

She pulled some out. You get it.

The day was nutty, but she never acted sick. We decided it was just a "random throw up" and after attempting to lay-low much of the day but seeing she was just fine, we moved on with our afternoon.

Soon, it was their favorite time of day: gymnastics class. Imani was still putting her shoes on when I helped Elsabet into the car and climbed in myself. It was over 90 degrees outside so I quickly turned on the car to get the air conditioning started. We used to live in San Antonio and I remember constantly hearing about kids who died from being left in hot cars so I'm a little paranoid about the idea.

I realized before putting my seatbelt on that I'd forgotten my purse on the counter so I asked Elsa to finish getting her seatbelt on and I'd be right back.

Imani + Elsabet.png

Do you see where this is going??

I was gone for all of 45 seconds when I heard a weird sound and then all the kids yelling my name.

The car was in the garage. As in my 15-passenger van that has a rack and big black ski box on top and hense, doesn't even remotely fit in the garage was partially inside and had slammed against the side of the opening.

We had a carpenter friend over fixing some things and he was right next to my car grabbing a tool when it happened. Jumping partially in, he slammed his foot on the brake, the other leg dangling out of the vehicle.

I quickly hopped in, put the car into Park and realized I'd stopped breathing. Exhale.

I wasn't sure if I should make sure she was ok, yell, explain in detail what she did wrong, cry, be furious, hug her as tight as I possibly could, or what.

I think I did all of the above.

Elsabet sleeping.png

The car is pretty messed up and our freshly painted house will need some fixing. But goodness I'm thankful no one was hurt. And I sure learned my lesson about running back inside...even if just for a second...with the ignition on.

Ben and I always joke that we won't be throwing her an 18th birthday party. Instead, we'll throw ourselves a party to celebrate that we kept her alive 'till adulthood.

We love you, sweet Elsabet. But my love...you sure keep me on my toes! (And make me tired. And make me want to drink wine.)

I know you've had one of "those" days, too. What happened???

Take Joy,

Teresa

When God reveals only a portion of your calling

I remember the moment so clearly. I was in Bible Study, my back was toward the screen (because per usual, I arrived late and the good seats at the round-table were taken). As I swiveled back and forth between looking at the screen and taking notes in my workbook, I felt the word Titus jump out at me from the pages of my Bible.

We had just recently moved to Denver. We didn't yet know of Abreham or Elsabet, we did not know they would be joining our family.

I felt like God was saying to me, "Titus is your future. Titus will come."

Since we'd already brought home two kids from Ethiopia, I took this to mean we would be adopting a sweet little boy named Titus.

I remember as Beth Moore's video ended and our group went into a time of prayer requests, I told the group about this Titus revelation. We were all excited about the idea that God would be bringing more children into our family and we lifted this request of protection and discernment before the Throne in prayer.

A year or two later, as we were in the process of adopting Abreham, I remember wondering why his name wasn't Titus. I remember wondering if our new son would want to change his name like Ezekiel did (his Ethiopian name is Temesgen) and if he'd randomly choose Titus as his new "American name."

But no.

And when the Lord revealed that Elsabet was ours, my heart asked Him, "But where is Titus?"

I heard no answer in response.

Until today.

I realized Titus isn't a child...it's a calling.

I was posting and commenting in the Bible Nerd Facebook page. Several ladies were asking to join, so as I clicked "yes", I also clicked on their profile pages to learn more about each of these new women to our community. One stated they were part of a Titus 2 Ministry at their church.

What's a Titus 2 ministry?? I thought.

Opening my Bible to that book in the New Testament, I realized at some point I had heavily underlined sections of the chapter and gasped.

My heart skipped a beat as I realized the Lord had told me that day not that I would have a child named Titus...but He was calling me to teach.

After reading the passage several times, I headed to Google and typed in "What is a Titus 2 Woman?"

Here is what I learned:

The whole goal of a Titus 2 woman is to train younger women in Biblical, simple-to-measure, Spirit-empowered, love-based living.

Paul did not call for Titus as the pastor to train all the women in these qualities God wanted them to cultivate; rather he called upon the godly older women of Christ's church. He singles out the women of faith, those who had already learned to love their husbands, learned to love their children, and learned to be reverent, godly, modest and wise—and charged them with seeking out and meeting with every younger woman in the church.

Woah.

You can read more about a Titus 2 Woman here, but I have chills reading the above description, having already felt like the Lord was leading me to something.

Do you or have you felt like God was placing you into something? Preparing you? But you weren't sure what for?

David (the shepherd boy who defeated Goliath and later became king of Israel) went through the same thing. 1 Samuel 16 tells the story of when he was anointed by the prophet Samuel.

The Lord set Him apart, chose him, and appointed him to be king one day...but guess what? When his head was anointed with oil, he had no idea what he was being set apart for. He wasn't given a timeframe or a schedule of events. He wasn't given an end game or plan.

All David knew is the Lord was writing his story to include something other than simply being a shepherd.

And He has something for you, too.

It would be nearly a decade from the day David was anointed, until he was crowned king.

In the in-between time, his life looked abundantly different than someone who would one day rule the nation. Even though he had no idea (yet) that this was where God was bringing him, David went from a shepherd to a helper of the king.

David was known to be a great musician and was asked to come play the harp for King Saul in order to help him relax and relieve his troubled spirit. Through this, the Lord allowed David to see what life was like in the home of the king (whose place he would eventually take). David could see the interaction between family members and staff. He could see the reality of the king's day-to-day.

When we do good work and gain trust from those around us, we often gain more access or responsibility and this was the same for David. Saul respected and had confidence in young David and because of this, he was also given the title of Armor Bearer.

As you can imagine, an Armor Bearer does just that...handles the armor. Because of his new role, David was required to be a fly on the wall when Saul was in battle, awaiting the moment the king needed help putting on his protective covering.

I'm sure there were times when David thought, "Why am I here, Father?? This is not where I thought You'd take me. What's the purpose in this??"

But there WAS purpose in it...because can you think of a better opportunity for David to learn? Not only did the Lord allow David to see into a king's life at home, he also got to listen in as strategy was discussed with the king's generals. He saw how the king acted and reacted when things went poorly in battle, or when they went well. He was basically in king-school, though he had no idea.

What are you in "school" for?

What is God training you for that seems completely unrelated to what you're currently doing...when in reality, it's the perfect precursor??

Even when King Saul turned on David (due mostly to jealousy) and set out to kill him, the situation was used by God in preparation for him becoming king. I'm in no way saying that God was pulling strings to make Saul hunt down David...what I am saying though is even our really REALLY hard times can end up being used for good.

There can be purpose in our pain.

1 Samuel 20-31 shares David's life of fleeing and hiding from the king. Within the pages of these chapters, we see how a young man who is scared spitless and who will do whatever needed to survive...becomes a man of great wisdom and discernment as he learns to talk first with God before acting.

He needed this time of hardship to become the man of character God needed him to be to lead a nation.

He wasn't perfect, of course. As we read about his reign in 2 Samuel, we know he made mistakes over and over. But each time he did, he fell on his face before the Lord in remorse. His relationship with God was so strong that our Heavenly Father even referred to him as "a man after God's own heart" (read more about that here).

Perhaps you're not where you want to be.

Maybe you feel the Lord whispering the words, "more" and "bigger" but you don't know what that means or looks like.

We all hate the waiting period, so what do we do when we're in it??

We all just want to be there...we want the fulfillment of a calling, yet hate the preparation period it takes to get there. But we can't just sit on our hands and literally just wait. We need to actively wait...and the best way to do that is to grow in our relationship with Him.

Read the Bible. Pray throughout the day. Serve. Grow. Learn.

Like David, seek His face as you make decisions and in how you act in situations.

Maybe He will open your eyes to the fact that He wants you to be a woman in Titus 2 like He is showing me. Perhaps it's something completely different.

But whatever it is, it's going to be exciting. Especially as we know we're doing it to magnify His name and the kingdom of heaven.


Are you in a time of wait?

If so, how are you actively waiting?

Are you in a time of fulfillment?

If so, can you see how even little things helped prepare for this time of completion?

Being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.
— Philippians 1:6 . NIV

Take Joy,

Teresa

Learning to Trust When Your Adventure Becomes More Hard Than Fun

A couple nights ago Ben and I went to a concert. In between sets, I hopped up to go to the bathroom and noticed the girl behind me in line had a shirt on that read, “It is well.”

Smiling, I told her I loved her shirt and that I couldn’t read those words without singing the hymn in my head. While the other ladies looked back and forth at us, as if trying to decipher a secret code we were sharing, the woman told me the t-shirt was a fundraiser from a friend whose child had a terminal disease and had passed away (and yet they had the hospital bills to pay).

It is well.

Wow.

How do we get to this point?? How do we get to the place where, like this family, we can trust God so deeply that even through great loss, our message to the world is still, “It is well.”

I was chatting with a friend recently after seeing a photo of a beautiful vintage embroidered chair she had posted. It was so similar to one my grandma had made long ago that I was immediately taken back to her beautiful home in the Queen Anne neighborhood of Seattle.

My dear Farmor (the Swedish word for Father’s Mother, and the name we called her) loved art, music, and Jesus. Her home was a fusion of all three as she combined these things with Scandinavian inspired hand-embroidered cushions on her piano seat, beautifully painted hymns and Bible verses framed upon her walls, and an overall feeling of Christ’s love infused throughout every room.

Farmor loved to talk and sing and laugh and was my favorite travel buddy. Turning down offers with friends, I instead chose to spend many spring breaks with she and my sweet mother. We traveled to places like Victoria and Vancouver BC or shopped around in Portland, Oregan. We'd jaunt off to tiny antique towns near my hometown of Seattle and play tourist, stopping at little bistros and used bookstores, always with coffee hot in our hands.

When I lived in England and attended Bible school, Farmor even met me in Norway and off we went, gallivanting around country after country taking in museums, shops, cafes, and shows. One time while in London, we even snuck into Christie’s Auction House and roamed around with a group of big-wigs on a tour.

Ohhhh how I loved her (and her Swedish pancakes she was so-known for).

My grandfather (we called him Farfar, which is Swedish for Father’s Father) died decades before she did, so when Ben got a promotion and he and I moved to San Antonio, she began talking abut joining in on our adventure. A year or two later, movers packed nearly 80 years worth of her belongings into a big truck and she headed down south to join life with us.

My eyes are tearing up as I remember all the precious things bubble-wrapped safely in boxes, making their way to the adventure she looked so forward to.

My mom flew in to help get her little cottage painted and settled. The happy lemon yellow walls and big windows made Farmor want a new couch, so off we ladies went in search of one while we waited the days needed for all her things to arrive.

The moving truck seemed to be taking days longer than expected, but we spent our mornings and afternoons playing with baby Anton and shopping for that new couch she so desired.

And then one day we found why her life’s possessions hadn’t arrived.

There had been a fire.

Everything was gone. Everything.

How do you tell someone that her husband’s 200-year-old books, cherished awards, and Purple Heart have all been destroyed?

How do you tell her that all those hand-embroidered chairs and footstools and wall hangings were gone?

How do you tell your grandmother that all the family heirlooms she had held onto after both sides of the family came over from Sweden were nothing but ash?

All her photos. Her precious sheet music.

Gone.

Some adventure, right?

What she thought would be the first definition above, ended up being the second. How often is that how things end up in our imperfect world?

How do we handle life when our adventure becomes more ache than elation?

Know what my Farmor did? She kept moving. Her response as the knowledge that everything was gone and she could never get it back was,

“Well, God is still good…and now I get to buy new things!!”

She didn't say it flippantly. We all knew she didn't actually want all new things.

She said it with a spirit of trust.

Knowing her wedding photos, letters from her deceased husband, portraits of my dad as a baby, and all the other irreplaceable things were literally up in smoke, how did she react?

She remembered God was still good and she looked toward the future.

What adventure have you gone on that didn’t pan out to be what you expected? How have you gone through seasons of despair? Could you still say that He is good?

Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego did.

Do you remember who they are? Daniel 3 tells the story of these three young men who were thrown into a fiery furnace for worshiping God rather than King Nebuchadnezzar. Before being cast into the furnace, they told the king:

In other words, “Even if not, He is still good.”

Could we say that of our dreams, plans, and goals?

Do we hold onto our own desires with such a tight grasp that if things don’t go how we want, our whole life falls apart?

I’m not saying we cannot mourn the loss of a person or of a dream…but if we have true faith in our Lord, we also have a sort of quiet confidence that He will turn our mourning into dancing as he brings joy from our pain and beauty from our ashes.

I can tell you firsthand that the darkest times in my life have strengthened me in ways I never could have grown otherwise.

God certainly didn't bring about this horrible thing...and yet, He'll turn it around use it for good. Perhaps we are reminded that we cannot do life without Him. Maybe our pain will be used to help others in theirs.

When one of our Ethiopian children lied and told our social worker that I was abusing him and I went through a full-blown investigation with CPS (Child Protective Services), I felt like life was closing in on me. But every time I prayed, I heard the Lord whisper to my heart,

"I'm allowing you to go through this for a reason. Do not fear."

There was a chance that CPS would believe the lie told by our son, and if so, the possibility that all our children could be taken away from us was real. Knowing this, I realized I either had to cling to Christ or completely turn my back on Him and run toward the idea that He actually wasn't all that good.

Would I give into fear and despair or would I make the conscious decision to put 100% of my trust in my Lord's hands?

God was right though (as He always is). We did have to go through that horrible time. Why?

Because our dear child was struggling to heal from past trauma. And because of this, he thought if he made life hard enough for us, we'd put him on a plane back to Ethiopia. Every person in his past had given up on him, so he figured we'd give up on him, too.

But because I trusted the Lord and believed that even through this horribly painful situation, beauty could rise, God allowed truth to prevail.

The painful season did need to happen because from it, seeds of love were planted in our son's heart...and soon these seeds began to take root and grow.

Now, several years later, our sweet child knows what unconditional love means for the first time in his life. He understands that when I say "I'm here" and "I'll love you no matter what", I mean it. It is from that situation that his trust in us, his new (forever) family, began.

When you've gone through incredible difficulty, how have you clung to God?

How do you remember that He is good?

Take Joy,

Teresa

August (free) Printable Calendar

Is it just me or did June and July last like five minutes?! I can't believe school starts in two weeks...pure craziness!

This will be the last Summer Calendar I post, unless I get a bunch of feedback that you love them and would like to keep 'em comin'!

(As always, you'll find the file in The Library! The password is at the top of each email I send out.)

Happy planning!!

Take Joy,

Teresa