Examining My Priorities

Happy birthday to my beautiful, kind, loving, joy-filled daughter who turned three-years old today!

Although I do not share face pictures of my children online, I thought I would share this one of her yesterday as she dressed up for her birthday. She is getting to be such a big girl!!

Ella dressed up for her third birthday!

Ella dressed up for her 3rd birthday!

When I think that three years ago today I went in to deliver my daughter, but ended up dead, revived, and laying in a hospital where my family and friends were uncertain and even doubtful at times that I could survive this tragic event, it is still surreal. I was sent home to three months of horrible suffering and pain and was in no shape to take care of my children, but then, I made a full recovery! And if you asked me to do it all over again, I would do it! Marriage and motherhood cost me a lot that day, but the gift in return was not only my life, but the life of my beautiful daughter Ella who makes me laugh and find joy in the littlest things.  I would do it one hundred times over to see her face everyday. She is three today and although I feel like I wasn’t able to be fully present to her for the first three months of her life, I have been since.

My son Brady, Ella and my husband Doug make this life Heaven on earth! They are incredible gifts to me and I am grateful for every moment I spend hugging, kissing, playing, reading, and telling them I love them. We live simply. Our life lacks a lot of frills, vacations, and expensive things, but because we are surrounded by each other, family, great friends, and good neighbors–our lives are FULL! We keep our home centered on the Lord and we devote our lives to praying for others, helping others, and trying to be a light in the darkness.

I feel like a proud mom when I look at my children and see the things they say and do. Every time an ambulance passed our house, Brady says, “Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, pray for them.” If Ella is playing around and not paying attention and we begin prayer time without her, she makes her voice known and tells us to stop and start over. It’s her role in family prayer to lead and sing loudly (and out of tune) the Ave Maria hymn. And at the end of prayer time, Brady yells at the top of his lungs, “A family that prays together, stays together.” I feel proud and humbled all at the same time by their innocent joy and truth in prayer!

Is it weird to say that I feel most accomplished as a mother because my kids are learning to pray? I honestly feel sad for families that don’t pray together. To hear my kids pray is like the sweet warmth of drinking hot-chocolate on a cold day. My heart melts. To hear them think of others before themselves as they offer up a prayer for a friend or stranger makes me feel like a good mom in the midst of all the ways I fail.

As the weeks have lead up to this day, a day I remember the birth of my child and the death of my old-self—as I woke to an incredible awakening of my soul, I have been weepy, finding myself holding back tears often.

They are not tears of pain, anger, or sadness, but tears of gratefulness. I’m grateful to have a God who loves and saves—a God who woke me from dead of sleep and brought me back to this point in health and purpose. And, I weep often lately at the thought of all those who prayed for me, who rooted for me, and who supported me through the past three years. There isn’t a place that I speak where someone doesn’t breakdown in tears telling me of their prayers. It is beautifully overwhelming, humbling, and adds grace to my life.

Three years later and my children are growing up fast, and I feel grateful that we live simply, so I can stay home and raise them. I would sacrifice all the luxuries in the world to have all my minutes with them! It’s tough sometimes, lots of time, daily even, but I had to sit on a couch watching them play for three months wishing and hoping my heart would recover enough to take them for a walk someday. Someday came and now we take walks, throw balls, roll around in the grass, play board games, have dance parties in the house, and truly enjoy our quality time.  Dying made me see that the only important things in life are faith and family. I still speak, blog, and do ministry, but at the end of the day, someone could replace me in those things, but no one can replace me as Brady and Ella’s mom. I try to keep my priorities in-line daily and I think the children will be surprised one day when they discover what I did while raising them, because to them I’m the face they see all day—I’m a stay-at home mom.

Some days I feel like a secret super-hero. Mom by day, Gospel proclaimer by night! Last week, I flew to California to speak to teens on the Theology of the Body. I dressed the children that morning, we played and snuggled on the couch, and then they dropped me off at the airport. My mom watched them until their dad came home. I Facetimed with them three times during the day.  gave a talk that night, woke up the next morning, had breakfast with the host that brought me to California, boarded a plane, flew over two states, landed in Arizona, my mom and the children picked me up, I went grocery shopping, we had a play-date with a neighbor, and I had dinner on the table at 5:00 p.m. It’s crazy what one can do in a day!

Managing being a wife, mom, and running a ministry keeps me incredibly busy, but the Lord is leading me and giving me the time and energy to do it all, and I will rest when I’m dead. But, for now, I choose to live and to live and love well all the days of my life.  First and foremost, I choose to live everyday thinking of better ways to get my family to Heaven. Secondly, I choose to live every day thinking of better ways to get other people to Heaven with us!

Living for Heaven gives our family great purpose. It keeps our lives simple, focused, and joy-filled. It keeps us from caring if we are rich or poor; it keeps us from caring about worldly things and it gives us the opportunity daily to pray together and focus our energy on serving one another and others.

I don’t know what the next year will bring and I don’t really care. I care about making this day the best day of my life and my families’ lives.  I care about saving souls and trying to glorify God.  My eyes are fixed on Heaven. I hope to have many years on earth with Doug, Brady, and Ella, but when the day comes for us to part ways, I want us to all be together again one day in Heaven. Eternity with us, in Heaven together, is worth more to me than anything fame or fortune can bring!

So, today on Ella’s 3rd birthday, I ask you to give her the greatest gift—the gift of your prayers! I pray that my sweet girl would always know of the Lord’s love for her, would walk in faith, and trust in a God that mightier than this world could ever be. I pray her heart would be kind and generous. And, I pray that an impenetrable hedge of protection would surround her against all evil!

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