Grateful for the Every Day

Sometimes the best thing to do is to be grateful for the things that are hard.

The daily grind, the un-ending energy of a three-year-old, the messy kitchen floor, the black hole of a laundry basket, and the crazy of the every day. The past two weeks I’ve been down my better half and picking up the slack of the every day that he usually handles has made me realize how lucky I am to have such an active, hands-on husband. (You’re really the best Dan Monaco!)

Two weeks of completely crazy made me realize I’m so lucky to have the chaos, the mess, the sick kid that will only sleep on me, the time-outs, and, of course, the dance parties. Oh, the dance parties. I am soaking up every minute with these little ones, because the truth is, someday the just won’t be that little anymore.

What are you taking for granted today? What grumbling could you replace with gratitude?

You are what you eat.

Have you ever heard the phrase, “You are what you eat.”

Yeah, me too. It’s usually when you’re reaching for the second cookie, or the Cheetos or ding dongs or something really terrible and processed…and delicious.

Here’s another “Garbage in, garbage out.”

I usually would hear that one when I was pressing play on another episode of “Friends” growing up. I still hear my mom’s voice saying those words when I’m choosing to watch something like “Pretty Little Liars” or “Breaking Bad.” (Yes, I did just admit that I was a PLL junkie for a while. Woops.)

I was reminded of all these phrases this morning. I took a little break from writing for a couple of weeks in order to ensure that what was coming out of my mouth, or fingertips rather, was a reflection of what was going in. And, that what was going in actually worth sharing with you, dear friends. The truth is, sometimes it’s really not. A lot of times what we feed ourselves is lies. We snack on lies all day long, from when we rise to when we lay our head to the pillow, we hear these lies and we feed on them. Here’s what they sound like:

“You’re not good enough”

“You’re not _____ enough.”

“Someone else could do that better than you’re doing it.”

“Another mom would have more patience with them.”

“He deserves a kinder, better wife than what he got when he married you.”

I could go on and on but you get the picture. They are lies! First of all, I have to take a minute to remind you that we are handpicked for our children, for our husbands, and we are the right woman for them every single time. Our role in their lives is God’s appointment. Trust that as truth ladies.

As for the not-good-enough’s, perhaps this one isn’t a complete lie. Maybe it is just that we are only good enough with Christ. In John 15:5 he reminds us that we are to remain in Christ, and he will help us to bear fruit because apart from him we can’t do a darn thing. No good thing can come from us, that isn’t first from him. So in Christ, as we abide in him, draw from him, lean on him, we are more than good enough. We can do all things (Phillippians 4:13)

Next time you feel that not-good-enough-feeling, or you start feeling malnourished like maybe what you’ve been taking in and consuming isn’t sitting well with you. Remember this: You are what you eat — so abide in Him and feed on His truth. Garbage in garbage out, so put down the empty and pick up the word, and you will do all things with Him.

God made us to reach out, not pull back. Don’t let the empty and the lies beat you down. Reach up, reach out, and grab onto some truth and I promise you, it will pull you through.

“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” Phil 4:13
“I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.” John 15:5

Hearing from God: When We Limit His Voice

Do you ever feel desperate to hear from God, but life doesn’t seem to slow down enough for you to be still?

Maybe you are a mom who is surrounded by baby toys, a house to be cleaned, and small humans that depend on you.

Maybe you are a young woman leaning into your career with an around-the-clock-demanding job from which you can’t escape the stress.

Maybe you’re a single mom, or working mom, that balances both kids who need you and a job that demands.

Whatever your atmosphere, whatever your lot in life, there is no escaping that our culture is one that delivers a full schedule, a long to-do list, and many high demands. As women, we tend to want to do it all. Inevitably, no matter how great at juggling we are – and we can get pretty good – something usually has to take a back seat.

Perhaps you’ve resigned to not hearing from God. Maybe you think it’s not your season to dig-in with Jesus and you just can’t find the time to be still and hear from him. Perhaps time with him – quiet, still, and unrushed – just isn’t a reality for you today, this week, or this year! Well, God has recently been showing me something I’m desperate to share with you. When you limit God, Satan wins.

I tend to think that maybe I can only hear His voice when my bible is open and I am knee deep in bible commentary. Whatever your place is to hear from God, I promise you, it’s not the only place.

When we get overwhelmed with commitments and don’t make time for God because we feel there just isn’t enough time to carve out space and time to hear from him – Satan wins.

In John 14:23 we are told Jesus makes him home in us. He’s always with us, we know he never leaves us. So, why would an all-powerful God be so hard to hear from?

My quiet time was interrupted this week by a screaming baby who couldn’t sooth herself to sleep. As I sat in her rocker I was grateful for the cuddles but honestly frustrated I had to put down my devotional book and would be tied to the rocker for the next hour as I coaxed her back to sleep on my shoulder. And then, God whispered something.

“You can hear from me here. You can hear my voice right here and right now. Not while your hands are full of highlighters and study books but while your arms are full of your family. You can hear from me in every moment if you would listen.”

And just like that, the lie I had been believing broke open was exposed. God is NOT limited by my schedule and my ability to find an uninterrupted hour. He walks with me, he talks with me, and he calls me friend. He makes his home in me, in my household, and he is there in each moment that I invite him in to. Whether it’s a dance party with my toddler in the kitchen, or a quiet moment at 5:30 a.m. when the house is quiet and my bible is open, he is there.

I’m so grateful that his voice can speak into our life no matter what our schedule looks like. I hope he too can remind you today that he is listening for you to call out to him in the midst of your busyness, and if you will learn to listen for his voice, he too is calling out to you.

Wall Building

I don’t know if you’re anything like me, but when I am hurt, I shut down. Do you find yourself emotionally checking out when you are hurt? Do you find yourself putting up walls of protection that leave you feeling numb instead of protected? If so, have you asked yourself why?


Often times it’s something that we do without even knowing it; in our subconscious we are wall-building.

Whatis even bothering me?
Why am I hurt? Where are these boundaries coming from?
Am I hurt because I feel rejected?
Am I hurt by God, because it feels like he doesn’t want good for me?
Can I trust His actions even though I don’t understand them?

When the questions have been asked, I usually find that at the end of the day it all comes back to me and Him being a more important relationship than any other in my life.

If we are backing away, building up, and shutting down because we aren’t trusting him, we better stop.

If we want closeness with Jesus, we won’t find that in building walls or following anyone but Jesus Himself. He is the one to let down the walls for, He is the one to welcome in, and He is the one we must pursue.

Forward Motion

Sometimes it’s hard to keep moving forward when we don’t see results, and when we don’t see or feel God working. I often use this blog as a way to give encouragement, encouragement that I often need and can find in the word. But, I don’t ever give it lightly. It’s easy to say, “keep moving forward”! It’s much harder to hear it, soak it in, and feel good about it when forward motion is painful, humbling, and hard. The truth is, even when we don’t feel God working, or see him moving, He still is.

It’s difficult to trust that He knows what he’s doing behind the scenes. But we know that He does and that his ways are so unlike our own. So superior to our own.
So what do we do? Hang on to HIM. Not the motivational quote, not the positive friend in our life, not even our steady spouse or loyal family. HIM, and the promises for us found in his word.

He is a promise keeper. Joshua 6:2

Let’s not stop short of the victory that can be found in Jesus. Today is a new day, his mercies are new every morning. And if this we can be sure of today, He is at work in our lives. He is moving. And He is keeping His promises.

Beloved

When you are doubted, do you remember that you are chosen? And, because you are chosen by me, I dwell in you and walk with you. Every day I am with you.

Stop counting your sins, you are forgiven.img_5920

Even while you sinned I died for you. And as I died for you, your sin died with me. You are free now. You are not condemned. I do not condemn you.

You need not fear a hard heart and a closed mind, I have removed those things from you. The scales have been removed.

You are a new creation in me. Your new self is righteous and holy. You have every spiritual blessing on your side. You are marked as mine, sealed with my spirit. My peace guards your heart, from all that it needs guarding against.

You are raised up above the earthly hurts that come your way because I raise you up.

Continue seeking things above, daily. Your flesh and your heart, they might fail you. But I am your strength and your portion.

Eph 1:4; 1 Cor 6:19; 1 John 1:9; Romans 5:8; Romans 6:6; Romans 8:1; 2 Cor 3:16; 2 Cor 5:17; Eph 1:3, 13; Eph 4:24; Phil 4:7; Col 3:1; Psalms 73:26

SAHWM

marriageredeemed-2Things are quite busy for me this month. Being a stay-at-home-working-mom is never easy, but it’s even tougher this month. So, as I prepare to pack up my desk and my two kids and head to San Diego for a business trip, for the kids to stay with family I’m calling upon this promise to sustain me through a busy season, and fill me with peace and a level head in the midst of it. Thankful that even in my chaos, he is on the throne!
 
Psalm 55:22 Cast thy burden upon the LORD, and he shall sustain thee: he shall never suffer the righteous to be moved.

A Dissatisfied Heart

Something happens when we respond to Jesus when we answer his invitation to walk with him when we call on him to be the driving desire of our lives.

His answer to our response is to reveal our deepest need, and show us just how much we really need him, just how much he can satisfy our souls.

He opens our wounds where his cure can begin and is a gentle physician coaxing us back to health in him. How does he do this? It’s painful. It’s refining. It’s humbling.
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He exposes our sin. He peels back the layers with conviction and love. It’s the first step to granting us what we truly desire – deep satisfaction in him. He exposes the sin, not just in part, but in full.

In doing so, he has opened my eyes to show me that some sin is a choice. We might not realize it at the time, we may even be hiding it from ourselves, avoiding what we know to be true. But it is sometimes a choice.

“The secrets of your heart are open to me, but I do not despise you. In fact, I love you deeply. I know the worst that you have done, yet I choose to come to you — to talk to you and to offer you living water, to offer you myself.”

There is profound freedom when sin is revealed and forgiven.
Our greatest need truly is to know Him. How many of us are walking around hiding from that fact? The fact that we can never be truly fulfilled in life outside of Jesus. We remain thirsty when we seek satisfaction outside of Him.

Beneath all our sin is a failure to be truly satisfied in Him. Our sin is a byproduct of looking elsewhere for what only He can provide us. He knows this, of course, and he graciously lifts the cover off of it, revealing not only the sin but the dissatisfied heart that lies beneath. And he whispers to us, “Child, let your heart be satisfied in me. I love you deeply and I will give you living water so that your soul’s thirst will be satisfied.”

A letter to my unborn child.

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My husband and son sharing the pregnancy news with my mother and father in law on FaceTime | March 2015.

In honor of October 27, 2016, the 1 year anniversary of my lost baby’s due date I am sharing my prayer journal entry from April 19, 2015. Less than a week after we lost
October Hope Monaco (Feb 19, 2015 – April 14, 2016). This was written to be private, for the ears of my lost baby. I’ve since learned that if sharing these words, this journey, with others can help them, it’s worth every vulnerability.

Jesus — I wanted to be able to say something to the sweet baby that we lost. I was hoping you could pass this along for me, and tell them how much they were loved and anticipated before they even arrived….

Dear baby,

I don’t know where to begin. How do I share with you a lifetime of a mother’s love that I had saved for you in one short message? How do I share how much I adore the face and smile that I’ve only seen in my most precious dreams? You are loved. You are so cherished. You are so special to us. You had a family waiting for you and we couldn’t wait to welcome you. To hold you. To celebrate you. Not just on your October day of arrival but throughout your whole life. Your birthdays, each holiday, first steps, first words, first laughs, your first day of school.

You have a big brother. His name is Finn and I can’t wait to tell him about you. When he can understand, he will be sad, but he will love you and remember you just like we do. Like we always will. We’ve named you October, I think they will call you that in heaven until we meet you there. We were so looking forward to what the October season would bring and the way you would change and complete our family.  It seemed right to give you the name that encompasses all that anticipation and excitement that we’ll have to find a way to let go.

Jeremiah 29:11 says that Jesus has a plan for you, October, not to harm you but to prosper you. A better plan for you than I had for you. To love you by giving you a future and a HOPE. So that will be your middle name — hope.  You will be our hope. Your memory always reminding us to have hope because His plans are better than ours. I don’t know how to tell you how missed you are already, how empty I feel without you, how jealous I am that I never go tot kiss your sweet little lips or look into your beautiful eyes. My only comfort is knowing you are in the Lord’s strong, steady, loving arms. It’s true I wish you were in mine. I’ll always wish that. I’ll always want to hold you. I’ll always feel empty without you. I’ll never forget you. Not for one small second. I’ll carry you with me forever. I love you a whole lifetime’s worth of mommy’s love, and I’ll carry you with me until I see you again. And I’ll be missing you until that day.

Love,
Your Mommy

 

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We took a family day trip on October 27, 2015, to celebrate and mourn our baby’s due date.
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October 27, 2015, at the University of Notre Dame