Embracing the challenges & blessings of a blended & bicultural Samoan family

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Digging Deep

Some years are harder than others, some weeks harder than other weeks and simply some days where we have reached our breaking point by 9:00am.

What do you do when you reach that point? Where do you turn?  Who do you call (if anyone)?

Sometimes there is nowhere to go, except for a 5 minute time out in the bathroom.
Sometimes it might only take 5 short minutes to take deep breaths and adjust our perspective.
I have had to do this so many times in the past year or so.  Things have been rough and I have had to dig deeper than I ever thought possible.

It is possible.

I have had to make sacrifices, painful choices, hurtful lessons, gut wrenching losses, but it is so very true that God doesn’t give us more than we can handle.  As long as we handle it with God and not against Him.

I have burdened far more than I thought my shoulders can carry and yet I believe God may still have more for me yet.  What gets me through? What keeps me going?

tough-life-for-a-tulip_lThe Reward

The reward of knowing my obedience to God to not give up will be returned and be blessed.  I do not have any expectation as to when this will happen, but fully trust it will.  I may not even live to see it, but part of my responsibility is knowing it will happen.  It just might be only for the purpose of Pule and her future.  I’m okay with that.

The reward of praying others might be blessed or encouraged because of my pressing through and remaining focused on each day and all I can do to embrace it.

The reward of little successes on Pule’s face when she has accomplished something new.

The reward of love returned from close family and friends cheering you on when the wall you need to climb over is daunting.

Digging deep is painful, I know, but the reward will be worth it.  Are you willing to go there? It takes time for a flower to grow from a seed or bulb, but as the roots grow deeper a blossom will surely present itself. Roots that dig deep into emotion, character, pain & joy will produce the most vibrant colors.  A strong bulb that has found it’s root may also simply sprout from the roughest of places.  Places we cannot fathom beauty to displayed.

If you are without hope, I pray (yes I do right now), that today you will have one small glimmer of it.  All that I ask of you is that you expect it, look for it and seek it out.  It’s there.  We are never left alone, and we will survive.

What is one thought you can share with us to encourage someone who cannot take a deep breath today or pick up the shovel to dig deep?

Places I visit & participate in link ups where I’m encouraged & know I am not alone.

Photo credit: cogdogblog / Foter / CC BY-SA

Becoming A Servant (again)

October 12-Christmas eve 058 blogI have missed this space.  Space for me to unravel, dump, be encouraged, and just be my raw honest self.

Life happens, and when it does this space is usually the first I have to let go.  Something has to be lower on the priority list and unfortunately it is this little place for myself.

However, today I am carving out some time to write.  Because I must…must unravel.  Please do not judge.

I previously wrote about my personal word for the year: Becoming.  Different from my family’s word: Conquer.

Today I took another step into Becoming.

Becoming what?

A mother. Or more accurately for this space: A MaMMa.

I have never hidden the fact that this “mom” thing is not my style.  It’s not me.  I’m okay at it, and sometimes I downright surprise myself with my creativity or pat myself on the back with the way I handled a situation.  I make myself proud.  But it stops there…at the word “sometimes”, and probably more accurate is “rarely”.  Right now our family is going through a situation that is painful.  It has made me stop and wonder about Pule & why in the world God gave her to us.  I even wrote about that recently here.  In summary: our family dynamic may have nothing to do about us, and all about her.  We may never even see the fruit of our pain and suffering.  But for her, it has to be worth it.

Today however I kind of slapped myself in the face.

I believe some mothers are “called” to be mothers.  They are given the talent for it.  Others, like me, are given children for other reasons.  I’m not saying these moms are not good, they most certainly are!  ”Good” does not equate to “called”.

However today in my pastor’s message he challenged us to be “The best leader there is.”  Many of his examples were taken from parenting.  Calling parents to SERVE their children.  WHAT?!!!! Isn’t it MY time to be served?  Yep, that’s just about where I am at.  It’s my time (come on…we all have our moments of being selfish right? Well, I hope I am not alone in being a little honest here)!

Yet when I think back on my time in the ministry, or even in leadership opportunities throughout the years, I do recall many affirmations of my servant heart.  So, okay, I can serve…again.  But serve Pule? What does that look like?

Honestly, I don’t know, but what I can certainly tell you is that I have not been serving her.  I have parented her.  I think I should even say that I have parented her from afar.  Knowing she is God’s and not mine has kept me at arms length to a certain degree.  Please do not misunderstand me, I love her dearly and as much as possible.  My heart has grown leaps and bounds for her and I know she was given to us by God for some greater purpose.  I am only saying that I think it has allowed me to not take full responsibility for being her MaMMa.

However, after hearing today’s message I am challenged to find what it means for me to serve my daughter.  How do I:

October 12-Christmas eve 052blogServe her in a way that points her to her Creator, her Father and her King.
Serve her in a way that shows the love of a mother, wife & daughter.
Serve her in a way that respects family, friends & strangers.
Serve her in a way that expresses love.

In only a few weeks Pule turns 3. THREE! I have not served her well.  Or, if I have I have not done it with a servant’s heart (did you catch the difference?).  I need to figure out what that looks like for us.  I know I have parented well, loved her well & taught her well.  There may be elements of service in each of these, but I have not had a determined purpose to serve.

Today I am Becoming. Becoming one who will do her best to serve her daughter.

What actions do you believe to be examples of “Serving” your child?

Becoming

When The Sun Rises
Kuzeytac (will be back soon) / Nature Photos / CC BY-NC-ND

The past few years I have been asking God to give me a word for the year to help me find focus. This year’s word was CONQUER. I feel so strongly about CONQUER and everything I have been going through last year and some of what I know I will be facing this year.

However, the past few weeks there has been a shift. A shift from one word to another. Seriously God… how can you give me one word and then change it to something else?

“CONQUER is for your family… I have something else for you…”
Ohhhh…. now that makes sense.

Last August I decided to do something for myself. It had been a long time and it was THE time. I joined a club…not a gym, but a club. Thank you LifeTime Fitness. Financially it was a tough decision, but the right one.

Since then I have dropped a good amount of weight and am pursuing a healthier lifestyle. Something I have wanted to do for a long time and now had the accountability and the resources to guide me.

In the midst of my trials last year, I made it a priority to press through and press on.

One of my goals in life is to leave a mark.  A mark of God so that He would be glorified somehow, someway.  Sometimes this goal is completely overwhelming, but it is doable.

In order to do this I realized it was time to address my trials head on, but also set them aside to focus on myself.

So…what is God’s word for ME?

BECOMING…

Becoming a bride of Christ

Becoming the wife I am needing to become and wanting to be

Becoming one who loves deeper…forgives often…no strings

Becoming the mother Pule deserves & God is asking of me

It wont happen overnight, but I have realized the hardest part was simply stopping and taking the time to look at myself and realize:
I am important

I am needed

Focusing on myself just might be the most important so that I can focus on others.

Becoming…

I don’t know how I will BECOME, but I know it’s my focus for me.

How have you focused on yourself this week? Extend a little bit of grace…to YOU.

Be Still. Stop & Listen.

chills or tears?

Curious look
hapal / Foter / CC BY-ND

I have shared this story with a few friends this past month and got different reactions: Chills or tears.

The past few years God has given me a word for the year.

A word to keep me on track

To keep my perspective when things get tough.

Remain grounded.

2012 my word was OVERCOME.  And we did.  It was one tough year, yet there were lessons learned, fears faced and challenges triumphed.

However a few weeks ago I hit a wall.  I had completely lost my focus.  I had “overcome” within my grasp and yet I felt defeated.  I couldn’t snap out of it.

Then God sat down with me.  I only had to invite Him (but sometimes we forget right?).  I was reminded of all the ways I had “overcome” this past year.   But then it hit me.  God had already given me the word “conquer” a few days prior.  This day it overwhelmed me…so overwhelmed.  I heaved.  I had barely made it through 2012.

“God, how in the world will I be able to CONQUER?  I have nothing left…nothing.  Can’t I have a word like “heal,” or “rest?”

{silence}

So I waited and continued to heave.

There have only been a few times in my life when I knew God was right with me and spoke as clear as day to me. I welcomed another one to add to my list.

“Leah, you have overcome, and you have done it well.  It is time to conquer, but this time it is up to Me, and I have already started

After a deep breath: peace

Rest, I did.

Heal, we will.

What’s your reaction? Mine…pure peace. Consider inviting God to join you.


One Gift

This year has certainly been tough on me and my family.  I have done my best to embrace it and grow within the world of challenges.  I think I have done okay.

Then 27 people died in Newtown.

I couldn’t watch the news.

That night I did go in and sit in the rocking chair in Pule’s room after she was asleep.

Just sat and rocked.

Looked and wondered.

Wondered why on earth she was over there sleeping in the bed?

Why had God given her to us, of all people?

This continues to be a challenge for me.  If you are new around here you may not realize I didn’t always want to be a mom, and I still don’t quite understand my role (and maybe I am not alone here).

I hope you don’t get me wrong and think I don’t love and cherish my dear Pule.  That is not the case.  What I can easily say is that when you may not be happy or thrilled for the “okay God, I will do that”, if it is God’s desire for you and you desire to obey Him, your heart will change so that the “OKAY GOD!” comes deep from within and you become passionate about it.

I have to always step back and continue to acknowledge that Pule is not mine.  She is God’s.  She has been given to us to care for here on earth.  While I have been walking through my year of “overcoming” with all of it’s grit and grime, I have come to the realization that this may not be about me at all, rather about Pule & God’s plan for her.

That one thought is a gift for me.

This season has been all about a gift.

It could be as simple as receiving a cash gift from a friend.

or a clean house because someone else gave me their cleaning lady for the day.

Maybe it is more complicated, such as the fact that Christmas is about gifts. The one gift of Grace.

The fact that my life centers around this one gift of my child, so this Christmas season (and everyday) should center around God’s gift to us: Jesus.  This year we are celebrating with that one thing in mind.

I pray for the moms & dads, brothers & sisters, friends & family who have all lost something precious right now.  That they are able to receive the One Gift waiting for them in midst of pain and suffering.