Five Minute Friday: Does Anyone Hear Me?

I’m always fighting to be heard. In my home I compete with my preschooler and my infant son for my husband’s attention. To his credit, he tries to always put me first, but the other two are louder and it’s exhausting trying to hold an adult conversation over the din. So we say less and less. My daughter often chooses not to hear me when I speak; feigning being hard of hearing (or lack of understanding) to avoid obedience. When I am with my parents I also struggle. Again my children take center stage. Add my sister, brother-in-law and infant nephew to the mix and I’m lucky if anyone ever pays attention to a word I say. Everyone is rushing around pursuing their own agendas and routines. As a communicator my nature I need to know I’m being heard. Without that I feel lost and disconnected.

This is what it must be like for God. He calls to me, to all of us his children, time and time again. We are too busy, life is too cluttered. We don’t take the time to listen, to hear him. How that must grieve him? He only wants us to hear his voice, to know that he is trying to communicate with us. I need to remember that when no one else hears me, he does. He even responds back, if only I would take the time to listen for his voice.

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My 200th Blog Post: I’m Still Here

Today is my 200th blog post since my first post on May 7, 2010. I had planned to start a blog shortly after my daughter’s birth in June 2009, but in the early months of motherhood it slipped my mind. Starting a blog was one of my 2010 New Year’s Resolutions. There have been periods of embarrassingly few posts, and times when I posted almost daily. I weaned my daughter, lost my great grandmother, suffered a miscarriage, got pregnant again, developed gestational diabetes, and published my first book; sharing about all of it on this blog.

There have been times when I wondered if my small voice even mattered. But I was encouraged yesterday by Lisa-Jo Baker’s post.

I have a unique gift to offer in my words. I have developed a small community of blogging compatriots who I support. I’ve never met these women face to face but I think and pray for them often.  So I dedicate this post to all of the newbie and would-be bloggers out there. Take the plunge. Share your heart, your thoughts and your voice. The size of your audience doesn’t matter as much as the impact you have on those you reach.

I Am Officially a Published Author: As We Wait Is Now Available

It’s official; I am a published author. As We Wait is now available for purchase from Amazon.com. I still can’t quite believe it. After five years of revisions and doubts, my first books is finally available to millions of readers, and hopefully will help lots of families celebrate advent this season.

As We Wait: Arriving on Amazon.com Some Time Tomorrow

I should be headed to bed right now. But I couldn’t without sharing my excitement. Sometime tomorrow my first book will be available for purchase in Kindle form from Amazon.com.  As We Wait: A Family Advent Devotional began as a gift for my mother. After years of using our Advent devotional designed for small children, she longed for something more mature, but still written with families in mind. At the time the market had no such product. Ten years later, I wrote her one. Now five years after that original draft that I printed at Staples as a birthday gift, the final draft is available to the public for the first time.

The Christmas season is one of the busiest times of the year for families. Taking time together to celebrate Advent, to focus on waiting, is a wonderful opportunity to bring you and those you love closer to God and to each other.  These twenty-nine readings, one for each day of advent, are a deep, yet practical exploration of the traditional themes of advent; promise, light, love and hope. But the focus is more on what isn’t said than what is; giving you an opportunity to put yourself in the shoes of these characters, seeing them as human. While the themes may be traditional, this unique devotional has practical applications and incorporates scriptures from throughout both Old and New Testament, including many not traditionally read at Christmas. This devotional is designed for families with children middle school age and older, though it may still benefit readers of all ages.

Within the next two weeks As We Wait will also be available in all other e-book formats thanks to Smashwords and I still hope to have in available in traditional print book form from Amazon.com by mid to late November, in time to use this Advent season.

So if your family is looking to start a new tradition feel free to check out As We Wait: A Family Advent Devotional.

Five Minute Friday: Watching With My Heart

“Look, Mommy, I’m making my trains go.” my daughter calls from the living room floor. Just a few feet away I barely look up from my computer. I have marketing emails to send, blog posts to write and final edits to be made to my advent devotional before it publishes in the next week.

“I see, sweet heart, that’s great.” I say, only glancing up briefly as if to say, “See, I looked.”

“Honey, look at this sweater, do you think it would look good on me? Maybe something for church or going out to dinner? Come here and minute and tell me what you think. It will only take a sec.” Knowing full well it will take more than a sec, he puts down his laptop, leaving behind his own marketing woes, and sits next to me. He gives his opinion and reminds me that I am beautiful.

So often I only look with my eyes, not with my heart. I give brief attention to the seemingly unimportant aspects of daily life, not engaging as I should. My daughter doesn’t really care if I look at her trains. She wants me to see her, to engage with her. To tell her, without saying a word that she is loved and wanted. My husband accomplishes this better than I do.

I need to make more time to watch with my heart, not just my eyes and really look. Not just at my daughter, husband or son, but at any person who comes into my life. We all deserve to have that kind of attention, especially from those who care for us.

We Begin Again: Sleeping Training My Second Child

When my son was born we lived in fear that he would be as terrible a sleeper as his big sister. But within only a month or two he was sleeping better than she ever had. The dread of a year or more without a decent night sleep disappeared from the rear view mirror of our lives. Then we were faced with weight gain and feeding issues and the good sleeping stopped. Now, at seven months, our son is finally maintaining a healthy weight, but his sleep habits are all over the map. So we finally decided to start sleep training him. With our daughter, we my husband wouldn’t even consider sleep training until she was eight or nine months old, because we were too tired to try and implement any kind of plan. In the middle of the night it always feels easier to do what you usually do, even if the end result isn’t what you want. With our daughter that meant feeding her every time she woke up, sometimes every two hours all night long. Usually I fell asleep feeding her, woke up hours later and as soon as I tried to put her in her crib, she would wake up. It was miserable.

When we finally broke down around 13 months we used a method where we wouldn’t pick her up or take her out of her crib, but whenever she woke crying one of us would sit with her. Similar to the Sleep Lady Method we moved further and further away until we were in the hallway. Now, starting over with our son, one of us sits by his crib and puts a hand between the bars. Usually he grabs on the hand, lays his head on it and is asleep again within minutes, if not seconds. I still finding myself having to feed him and change his diaper midway through the night. But he usually goes back to sleep easily and sleeps until between 5-7 AM. We’re already making some progress so maybe good night’s sleep is in our near future after all.

Five Minute Friday: Why Do I Always Feel Behind?

I feel as though I race through most days. Trying to keep the home fires burning and yet keeping them from bringing the house down. It’s diapers, laundry (or in our case, diaper laundry), dishes, cooking meals. I feel like I’m in a constant race against the clock to try and get a few things done that aren’t just maintenance tasks, to have something permanent to show for my hours of hard work. The days and nights go slowly but the weeks fly buy. August, September, October, when last I remembered it was only July. Yet I feel as though I’ve gone no where. Another month down, kids a little bigger, their clothes a little smaller, the budget a little tighter as we try to break even at the end of the year, but nothing else seems to have changed. I swear I found my first gray hair the other day. Am I losing the race against time and in the process watching my life waste away in piles of unfolded laundry? I can barely spare a moment to shower. Even my nights are no longer my own now that my son’s night waking and night feedings have returned. I look at the expanse of weeks before me feeling as though there is no end in site. I see the runners up ahead, many of them bursting into sprints as they head for the next mile marker and I feel as though I must have made a wrong turn. Didn’t I already do this part? Haven’t I been here before?

Oh God, no matter how long it takes me and where I finish in the grand scheme of the cosmos, let me finish well.