Turning complaints into praise

Here is a sampling of some of the complaints I had this week: 

Ugh, I have to get so much dental work done. Two root canals, wisdom teeth extracted, and cavities. Our dental insurance barely covers the work! 

Lord, thank you that I have dental insurance through my husbands job to cover most of my dental work. Thank you that I live in a country where modern dentistry exists- where I can have the option of anesthesia and sanitary conditions. Thank you that I have the luxury of keeping my teeth.

I feel so “mommy-ish”. I barely have time any more to do things like paint my nails, work out, cut my hair, or put on cute clothes. 

Father, thank you that I am a mother to a beautiful daughter. Thank you that you change my priorities and my heart to become more sacrificial and to think of her first before myself, which is the way you love us. Thank you that you still make me beautiful without the fashions or trends of this world that we cling to tightly to for affirmation. Thank you that you make me realize that I am lovely without any additional help from the world, because you make me that way. 

Lillian woke me up four times last night! I barely got any sleep! 

Lord, thank you that I get to stay home during the day with my daughter. Thank you that my full time job is devoted to loving her and helping her grow into a child that is secure in your love. Thank you that my husband supports this. Thank you that I have the opportunity to wake up gratefully at night to be with her, knowing that the following day I can get rest if need be. Thank you for helping me live simply so that this can happen for our family. 

I feel so lonely. It seems like I spend most of my day at parks alone or on walks. I feel like I have no friend that is kin in spirit with me here in Denver
Jesus, thank you that you have provided me some good friends here that I can rely on for comfort and support. Thank you that you are guiding me towards a church I can call home. Thank you that you have given me my sister here in Denver, my husband, and my daughter. While I sometimes get lonely- I have you which is more than enough. Thank you for teaching me that loneliness can guide me into conversations with you. 
These are just a few of the complaints I verbalized this week. I caught myself saying these things out loud. How often do I take for granted the things that I have been so richly and undeservedly blessed by? Am I worthy of my husband, daughter, or  my relationship with Jesus? Absolutely not! Yet I find myself sometimes acting as though these people are burdens on my life. I truly grumble under my breathe before I even realize what I am doing. 

Gratitude. Praise. Grace. 

I do not deserve these blessings, yet my heavenly Father above has graciously given these things to me, as precious gifts that I ought to be praising him for. 

We live in a culture of entitlement. There is not a system in place in our capitalistic society where we are given something for nothing. We are paid for our work, and we pay for our goods. As we are taught in school- “there is no free lunch”. Our grades are earned by good test scores and our annual reviews are earned by work performance. 

Yet God’s scale for us is a scale of Grace. We can never earn our salvation, or anything for that matter, and he freely gives us love. It is an uncommon economy to us, and we have a very hard time differentiating it from ours. 

Entitlement. Greed. Right. 

Jesus, as I enter this week of Thanksgiving, may I understand the rich abundance of your grace. I deserve nothing, yet you give me everything in You. Help my eyes to be open to all the areas in which you have given me great things. Help me to praise you for the people in my life, the roof over my head, and the food I consume. May I be filled with overwhelming thanks for every little thing I am given, knowing fully that I am no better than anyone else- just your child. May my gratitude spill over into other people’s lives- giving them the gift of love and grace as you have given me. Help me to love people like you do, offering everything, extending unending mercy, and wanting them to know the gift of healing that you have given me. Give me new eyes and a clean heart. Keep me from grumbling or complaining for the lot you have given me, even if it is difficult. Help me to praise you even in hard times, because hard times are when we see you even more clearly. Help me to love your children- those who know you and do not- because you love us all with a perfect love and your command to us is to love each other, do good for one another, and extend grace to our enemy. Help me to show those who do not know you the medicine you give our souls, medicine of forgiveness, unconditional love, and purpose that we all long for. Keep me from judging anyone, for sin has no rank, and you call us to love only. Keep me from becoming religious or self-righteous, but rather filled with love and grace and joy. May I laugh at the coming future and enjoy life as you wish me to! 

I am overwhelmed with the topic of gratitude. Do we really think we earn things in this world? Do we judge others by their appearance, faith, or sin? If so, what do the verses below encourage us to believe? 

Ephesians 2:8-9 For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, that no one should boast.
Jeremiah 31:2-3 Thus says the LORD:”The people who survived the sword found grace in the wilderness; when Israel sought for rest, the LORD appeared to him from far away. I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore I have continued my faithfulness to you.

Ephesians 2:4-9 But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ— by grace you have been saved—and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.

Liebster Blog

I am extremely grateful to The Greek Housewife for nominating The Dwelling Tree for a Liebster Award! The Liebster Award is given out by the winner blogger to other up and coming bloggers as a way to spread the word about smaller blogs who deserve a larger audience.  Thank you to Vicky for seeing something in my blog and writing and giving me this opportunity! I am excited to expand my audience as I am relatively new to blogging:). I think this is a really fun and neat way to help promote great blogs that I come across on a daily basis- and am really excited to share with you all some awesome blogs I want to nominate this award to. 

You should definitely go and check out Vicki’s awesome blog at The Greek Housewife . She has an amazing blog and features recipes on one of my all time favorite foods- Greek food of course! Go visit her! 

Here are the details on receiving the award.

1. Each person must post 11 things about themselves. Answer the questions that the nominator sets for you plus create 11 questions for the people you’ve nominated to answer. Choose 11 blogs that you feel deserve the award (bloggers who have 200 or less followers). Go to their page and tell them.

First- Eleven things about myself
1. I was in show choir in high school and regularly did jazz hands. 
2. I really love coffee and chocolate. 
3. My favorite music to work out to is Lady Gaga and Fergie. It is the only time I listen to pop music.
4. One of my favorite quotes is this by C.S. Lewis: “If we find ourselves with a desire that nothing in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that we were made for another world.” 
5. I hate doing laundry. 
6. My favorite comic book series is The Peanuts, and I watch Charlie Brown Christmas every year. 
7. I still get nervous going to the dentist, and use laughing gas when I get a cavity! 
8. My favorite sneakers are Toms and Converse. 
9. If I could travel anywhere I would want to visit Spain and China. 
10. My favorite animal is an otter. They are like swimming puppies! 
11. I wish I could hang out with Tina Fey for a day. 

Second- Answer the questions that the nominator sets for me (these questions were asked by The Greek Housewife). 

–What frustrates you about blogging?
Writer’s block! It always happens when I actually have time to write and have something really important I want to share. I have a journal full of ideas I have, and I often feel like my most inspired ones get pushed back because I want to devote more time and attention to writing them- and time is so hard to find! 

–What do you love about blogging?
I love that I can form the desires and thoughts of my heart into words! Blogging helps me materialize what is truly important to me. 

–If you had 3 hours to yourself (no husband, no kids, no chores)  what would you do?
Wow. That is rare! I think I would exercise, take a long hot shower, then head to a local coffee shop and enjoy a croissant and americano while reading a book. 

–Apart from blogging, how do you spend your free time?
I love to take my daughter Lillian to the park and library. I try to catch up with friends every so often. I exercise a few times a week. My husband and I host dinner parties for friends (he is a great cook!). I also volunteer for a youth organization called Younglives, which is amazing. I try to enjoy my free time and make the most of it. 

–What is your favorite music? Artist?
My favorite artists are a tie between Coldplay and Mumford and Sons. I love both bands because they are extremely talented, have amazing lyrics, and I never get sick of listening to their albums. 

–Describe your ideal romantic dinner!
Easy. In fantasy land  it would be coming home to a clean house, candlelit table, and good music playing. Dinner would consist of fresh baked bread, mussels, red wine, and dark chocolate. And of course, my date would be my hubby. Brian, are you reading this? 🙂

–What is your favorite form of exercise?
Hot yoga. I love yoga and miss practicing as much as I used to! 

–What is your favorite snack?
Tortilla chips and guacamole. I could eat this every day and it is dangerous when I have it in the house! 

–Do you have pets?
No, but we are planning to add one to our family next year. Yay! 

–What is your all-time favorite movie?
Oh, this is such a hard question. I am going to choose it based on what I could watch over and over again in my pajamas. Simply because some of my favorite movies are really heavy and inspirational but hard to watch! So- the winner is- My Big Fat Greek Wedding. This movie makes me laugh in so many ways, and reminds me of my goofy and big family, and that everyone can find love! 

–What could you really live without? (object)
I hate to admit this, but my phone. I feel naked leaving my house without it! 

Third, here are the questions I am asking the bloggers I nominate! 
1. If you could have any super-hero power, what would it be? 
2. What is your favorite holiday and why?
3. Why did you decide to start a blog?
4. Where do you draw inspiration for your blog topics?
5. What do you love to buy? (outdoor gear, shoes, purses?)
6. In three words, how would your friends describe you?
7. What is your idea of a dream date? 
8. What is your favorite food?
9. What other hobbies do you have besides blogging?
10. What is your all-time favorite television show?
11. Where would you love to travel?

I am excited to award the following bloggers (I picked 12):
Chelsea: http://fromchrysalistobutterfly.blogspot.com/
LesLeigh: http://thewildflowerway.blogspot.com/
Kim: http://latteandaprayer.blogspot.com/
Hailey: http://www.thedaileylife.com/
JC: http://sweetloveandginger.blogspot.com/
Cynthia: http://livinginneverland-sandiego.blogspot.com/
Jen: http://www.just-jen.net/
Jillian: http://keepcalmandwearpearls.blogspot.com/
Lauren: http://besweetlyinspired.blogspot.com/
Jess: http://jmariesharp.blogspot.com/
Sarah: http://pluckypicaroon.blogspot.com/
Sarah: http://www.loveeesarah.blogspot.com/

Congratulations! Check out these blogs- they are great!

Cherished moments as a mom

Ripped magazines. Food mashed up on the floor. Missing socks. Goofy open mouthed kisses. Tickles. Rambling sentences that don’t make sense. Crazy, messy house. Story time. Chubby legs. Shy moments. Gazing at each other. Everything is a toy, and everything goes in the mouth. Bath time. Sleep sheep. Sleep noises. Night time rocking. Night time crying. Lack of sleep. Long walks. Doing everything with one arm. Cuddles. Tiny socks. Blankets. Lovey. Feeding her. Being there for her after shots. New discoveries. Quiet moments. Shrieking, squealing. Playtime. Special moments that pass in the blink of an eye.

These are the little things I will miss and look back on when my baby is all grown up. I already have a hard time remembering what she was like when we brought her home. So little, so needy. Now, she is ready for adventure. She is growing. She is learning. It is my job to remember the past but push her on to her future. First steps, first time in school, first heartache, first love, first job. To lead her towards becoming strong, significant, and to always be here to remind her that she is loved and has a place to come home to when she is lost. I want to hold on, but I also need to release. Embrace the moment and look forward to the future. Lighting the way for her to confidently enter this difficult world we live in. I already struggle with letting go and it has only just begun. May I be a mom who does what is best for my daughter no matter how hard it is for me.