All I Wanted

PTS | All I Wanted

 

All I wanted for Mother’s Day was to go camping.

This was my twelfth Mother’s Day. And after all these years, I know myself and my family very well. I have no need of breakfast in bed (seems silly when I wake hours before everyone else!) I don’t need to be showered with gifts (we have far too much stuff as it is). I don’t need a fancy Sunday lunch (we had our favorite New York Style pizza because it’s what we all love).

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All I wanted for Mother’s Day was to be with my family, doing what we love best: camping.

Back in February, after returning from a camping trip to the Everglades, I wrote this:

LOVE camping…what I love about camping is that it strips all the extra stuff away. I don’t worry about doing laundry. I don’t worry about cleaning up. I don’t worry about checking email. I don’t put on makeup and I often don’t even bother changing clothes. When all of those little tasks are taken away, you are just left with time. Time to read, time to play, time to sleep, and time to talk. We did all of those things.

Yep, it’s all I wanted.

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Camping takes all the things I love best and throws them together:

family time
being offline
taking pictures
watching my kids play
lazy schedules
simple but yummy meals
playing outside
being in God’s creation
time to snuggle and read
hiking
warm fires in the cool breeze
seeing kids explore and imagine

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We left after church on Sunday and stayed two nights. Staying fairly local (a state recreation area just 45 minutes from home) meant more time to play and less time to drive. It was perfect. The kids played and explored. They founds bugs and lizards and a turtle. We swam in the lake and hiked for miles. We watched a blue heron who visited a number of times. The kids got dirty, sandy, and sweaty. I couldn’t have asked for a better Mother’s Day Gift (though the dozens of post-it notes with all the reasons they love me covering our dining table on Sunday morning comes pretty close!)

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I’m thankful for these twelve years of being a mama and all the joy these kids bring to my life.

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We Have the Time

PTS | We Have The Time

I remember the stress and frustration clearly.

Baby number five was a few months old and the stress scales began to tip. My mental to-do list and want-to-do list far surpassed the hours on the clock.

I climbed into the shower, wishing fervently that no child would notice I had escaped for a much needed respite from the dirt — physical and metaphorical — of motherhood.

I prayed in earnest,

“Oh Lord! I just need more time. If only I had time, I could do so much!”

PTS | We Have The Time_4

That might have been my first heart-wrenching plea for more minutes in my hour, but it was far from the last.

“If only I had more time!” 

My dreamer idealist heart screams at the universe for its ritualistic passage of the minutes, hours, days, months, and years.

“Oh that box of photos? I have been meaning to deal with those. I just haven’t had the time.”

Sitting down and reading with the little ones is so important; I just wish there was time for it.”

“I really wanted to take that family a meal, but I ran out of time.”

“Those books that have been brewing in my heart for so long would be written if only I had more time.”

And then the self-sympathy tries to help.

“There will be more time later.”

“When the kids are older, you will write.”

“If you get more rest, you’ll have the time to do that tomorrow.”

“If you could just structure your time better, think of all you could accomplish!”

PTS | We Have The Time_3

I then pick myself up, feeling encouraged and hopeful that the time that always seems to be missing will be found somewhere with the missing socks and pens.

But the frustration quickly finds it’s way to its usual place, and back on the carousel I go.

But then…

My eyes fall to wise words, words from a woman who all too well knows the pressures of motherhood, suffering, servanthood,  and ministry.


Frustration is not the will of God. Of that we can be quite certain. There is time to do anything and everything that God wants us to do. Obedience fits smoothly into His given framework. 

Elisabeth Elliot, Discipline | The Glad Surrender


PTS | We Have The Time_2

Time. To. Do. Anything. And everything.

Impossible, I think. Save for the caveat:

“…that God wants us to do.”

And there it is: the key to unleashing the frustration and endless chasing after minutes.

We have the time; we must pray for the discernment.

Oh, the Excitement!

Kandawo New Testament DedicationLast week, I shared a post about The Third Jar. Other than when I released my e-book, it was the most viewed post ever. That tells me something. I am guessing what it says is that people are stunned with the reality of Bible translation needs. According to new research released by The American Bible Society and powered by Barna, 7 out of 10 American believe the Bible is available in all languages. The Third Jar tells me otherwise.

As of October 1, 2014, 4018 languages of the world have no known Scripture.

But what happens when the long awaited truth becomes available? Excitement that can barely be contained. Watch this one and a half minute video to see and hear the joy of a mother who is “going to get me one of those things.” Wycliffe and its partner organizations are working hard, all over the world, to make access to God’s word available to all people. The Kandawo New Testament was dedicated in April, both in written format and audio versions for those who are illiterate. Oh the excitement!

Tell me, do you share this woman’s joy when you anticipate hearing God’s word? 

Whose Word I Praise {Psalms on Sunday}

May 10 2015_web

 

The key to not being afraid? 

Trusting in God’s Word. In His promises. In His Truth. In His revealed will.

God is for us. This, of course, means He is not against us.

When put our trust in the word of the God who created the heavens and the earth, the sea and all that is in it, the mountains and the moon and the stars, we don’t have to be afraid.

The Law of the LORD is perfect, 
restoring the soul;
The testimony of the LORD is sure,
making wise the simple.
The precepts of the LORD are right,
rejoicing the heart;
The commandment of the LORD is pure,
enlightening the eyes.
The judgements of the LORD are true;
they are righteous altogether.
They are more desirable than gold, yes, 
than much fine gold.
Sweeter also than honey and the
drippings of the honeycomb.
Moreover, by them Your servant is warned;
In keeping them there is great reward.

PSALM 19:7-11


 Feel free to download the above graphic;, suitable for printing. For personal use only. Fonts are KG Why You Have to be So Mean and KG Always a Good Time. Papers are by Kristin Cronin-Barrow and are no longer available.

That’s a Wrap {Birthday Season 2015}

PTS | That's a WrapIt’s finally done…birthday season 2015. Eight birthdays in three months (seven of those being in eight weeks) is exhausting.

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People often ask if we just combine birthdays since they are all so close. And we always say, “No!”

There are many perks to being in a large family. I love it and wouldn’t ever want to change it. However, there are hard things too. Out of necessity, a lot of things in our life have to happen as a group. But birthdays? Those are a day to celebrate an INDIVIDUAL and to make that person know how thankful we are they were born. We want to celebrate the joy they bring to our life and look to the future and pray expectantly for good things to come. We take each birthday to make the day all about that one child, showering them with love, yummy food, and a few gifts.

Our tradition has been to let the kids choose the meals for the day (it used to be dinner, which is what my parents did for us, but somehow over the years it has crept into choosing all the meals. And of course, they often pick the hardest or most time consuming!) We also let them give input on decorations. They each have the choice of a family activity or a party. Over the years, we have only had three parties (two of them this year!) We love doing things as a family and that is most often their choice.

This year was a great year of celebrating each of our children (and my birthday and Jason’s birthdays fall right in the middle of all that!)  As much as I love the fun and creativity that comes with birthday season, I am usually quite happy to see it go. Now I have until the end of January before I have to plan another birthday!

Here is birthday season 2015 in review!

Alaina

Katie

Bethany

Zachary

Levi

Caleb

 

1000 Miles

©janetphillips_may7_2014_web-12A year ago today, I arrived back in the United States with six kids (Jason stayed for another month). Before leaving Indonesia, I completed the last of the 1000 miles I set out to walk/run during our year. You can read more about that journey HERE.

As I think over the past year, with all of its joys and struggles, I am aware of how much my quest to cover 1000 miles was part of God equipping my mind and spirit for what was to come.

This past year, I believe, will stand out in my mind always as a year that shaped me. Through the deep pain and the deep gladness, I have learned to lean deep into the Lord and into who He made me. Never have I felt such a struggle between God’s purposes and the world’s, between my will and the will of my Father, and between the pull to life on earth and life in eternity.

This past year, I have learned about my deep selfishness and God’s deep grace. I have become more convinced of  a deep need to work and a deep need to rest. I have experienced God’s serious expectations of obedience as well as His deep grace in freedom.

I have grieved deeply for the piece of my heart left in Indonesia (reverse culture shock was far more arduous than I was prepared for.)

I have tasted the goodness and blessing of an amazing church family and have learned what the body of Christ truly looks like.

I have looked expectantly to the future, of a life using our unique gifts to give the great gift of God’s Word to others.

My 1000 mile journey, I am convinced, set the stage for the next 365 days. The lessons I learned over the miles were lessons God knew I would need.

  • I learned to persevere, even in the face of illness, fatigue, and bad cases of the I-don’t-want-to’s.
  • I learned rest isn’t optional, it’s essential.
  • I learned to use the downhills to my advantage and give myself grace on the uphill.
  • I learned that speed is far less important than tenacity.
  • I learned that sometimes, it’s better to just stop and enjoy the sunrise.
  • I learned that I am capable of far more than I think I am.
  • I learned that the choices I make affect the choices of others.
  • I learned that consistency is the catalyst for success.
  • I learned that the key to strength is to be torn down in order to be rebuilt stronger.
  • I learned that our future is always dependent on the choices we make today.
  • I learned that a specific goal is far more beneficial than an ambiguous desire.
  • I learned a little each day accrues faster than inconsistent bouts of determination.

God used my desire to “do hard things” to prepare me for what was to come. He knew what I would need in order to accomplish His will.

1000 miles prepared me for a much more important journey.

 

 

 

The Third Jar

PTS | M&Ms_featured

On my dresser sit three large jars of M&Ms. And I don’t even like M&Ms!

So why are they there?

They are there to remind me. I’m a visual person. It’s with my eyes I dream and think and pray and thank and remember.

When I look at these three jars, representing reality, I remember.

I remember the first jar represents the language groups of the world that have the entire Bible.

I remember the second jar represents the language groups of the world that have portions of the Bible.

And I remember the third jar represents the language groups of the world that don’t have even one verse of the Bible. Not one verse!

After reading stories and saying goodnight to the kids, I climb in bed. I sit up, book or phone in hand, and I see them. I think through my day and the complaints of my heart and my eyes fall on that third jar, full to the brim. It is then that I remember what the real problem is.

It’s bad enough when we have a Bible and don’t choose to treasure it or even read it. God will deal with our prideful and rebellious heart (prideful because not reading indicates we don’t truly believe we have a need for it and rebellious because God tells us to let the words of Christ richly dwell within us.) If we choose not to partake of the living bread, it’s on us. “But Abraham said, ‘They have Moses and the Prophets; let them hear them.'” (Luke 16:29). 

But what about those who lack the choice to read? The choice to hear? The choice to know and understand?

That third jar represents the 4000+ languages of the world who don’t have a choice. They don’t have even one word of Scripture in a language they can clearly understand. 

I end my day looking at the jars, knowing I can think of no better way to spend my short time on earth than to use my loaves and fish, as pitiful as they may be, to fill the first two jars by emptying the third.

What about you?

TDD | On the Porch Swing

On The Front Porch

TDD | On the Porch Swing

 

I love having a front porch. The missionary house where we are staying has a big, beautiful front porch, complete with white rocking chairs and a porch swing.

As the nights get longer and the school year end gets closer, I am being more lax in bedtimes and instead trying to enjoy the beautiful spring weather in the evening. It will be blazing hot soon enough.

Last night that meant a few rounds of hitting the softball with the big kids while the little ones played happily on the porch.

I wish they could stay this small forever. But since they can’t, I want to fully enjoy this moment now. Little ones are a lot of work and exhaustion is common, but there is nothing like their sweet smiles and squeals of glee.

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I haven’t worked in iMovie before, but I had some time in between answering math problems and I played around a bit. I love these two!

And if you want to see some sweet and spunky photos of Bethany, you can see them on my photography blog.

 

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Let Dad Be Dad (again)

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About a year and a half ago, I wrote a post entitled Let Dad Be Dad. It was based on some of the best parenting advice I have ever received. I think this mindset has been key in our marriage and in our parenting. If I had tried to make Jason parent like me, I would have squashed his spirit and taken much of the joy out of parenting for both of us.

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I won’t rehash my thoughts; you can read them here. I do think, though, another dose of photographic proof might be in order.

The two older boys decided on a birthday party this year. Our children are allowed to choose between a family activity and a party. They usually choose to do something as a family, but this year the boys wanted to celebrate with a few friends. And really, they just wanted an excuse to play more football.

For the younger kids this year, I purchased piñatas. Never ones to miss a chance to get candy, the boys wanted one for their party. Since I gave Jason the reigns of the party beyond the food, the piñata and other activities were up to him.

When it was time for the piñata and the kids were all on the front porch, I took a few moments to rest in my room. I was quietly checking email when I hear this from the porch:

“Now, in Piñata ninja, you have two choices: two hits with the nunchucks or one flying kick.”

Um, “piñata ninja?” What is this man up to?

I snuck outside to hear the rest of the directions. I grabbed my camera to prove once again this man is crazy and that my kids are so incredibly blessed to have Jason as their dad.

Fifteen minutes of nunchucks, headbutts, flying kicks, and karate chops later, the coveted candy spilled and the boys joyfully descended like vultures.

Yes. Always. Let dad be dad.

And let dad run boy birthday parties.

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Hands, Not Fists {Psalms on Sunday}

May 3 2015I want to love and glorify God with my entire being: my heart, my soul, my mind, and my strength.

That strength includes my body — what I put into it, what I ask of it, how I maintain it, and what I do with it.

May 3 2015 (3)

Our hands clap when we have found joy and appreciation in something. We clap at plays, sports events, recitals. Our joy and gratitude and admiration overflow into a spontaneous outburst of praise for the performer.

Do my hands erupt in praise for God? Do I use my hands to show my appreciation and joy in all that God has done or do I spend most of my time shaking my fists at God, demanding — like Job — He explain Himself to me.

Perhaps if I would take to heart the words of the previous Psalm —

May 3 2015 (4)

 

— I would do less fist shaking and instead issue forth more intentional applause.

Today, I choose hands, not fists.

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