Sunday, December 8, 2013

Ten Weird Things You Probably Don't Know About Me

1. 1. like offbeat characters and actors in movies. Jack Nicholson and John Malkovich are two of my favorites, because the rolls they play alot of times are creepy-ish and weird...and they just kind of seem, well offbeat I guess.

2. I get heart palpitations that are pretty intense. My whole body tenses up, mainly my back and my shoulders and I can't really move or talk when it happens. Sometimes I can predict it about it happen, like when I am laying on my right side and my left arm is sort of pressing against my heart if I'm curled up in a ball. Sometimes, it just happens randomly. I don't like it, but I'm used to it. The thing that concerns me is that usually Jeff is around when it happens and he keeps the kids away from me, because it could last anywhere from 2 minutes to 15 minutes...but if they are fighting or asking me for something and he is not there, I don't really know what I would do.

3. I am addicted to nasal spray. It's the same as any other addiction. The only reason I have to take it is because I can't breathe without it and I can't breathe without it because I've been taking it so long. If I don't take it at night, I have nightmares.

4. Speaking of nightmares, on several occasions I have had "Inception" type experiences in my dreams, where I dream within a dream within a dream. I try to wake myself up yelling (with no sound coming out) for "JESUS!" and when I do, I find myself floating down the stairs once again, realizing I am still in my dream. It's freaky.

5. I am a procrastinator. And I'm not really ashamed of it. I work best under pressure. I can have a weeks worth of work to do on the computer, that would take as little as an hour or two a day, but I save it all for one day, which is usually Saturday or Sunday.

6. I hate to smile with my teeth. If you look at my above sorta fake smile, even with my mouth closed my mouth is crooked and slightly open on one side. It's completely exaggerated if I do an open mouth "teeth" smile for a photo. The only way you will catch me smiling with my teeth for a photo is if I'm laughing, so I have to make weird sounds or jokes to make myself laugh.

7. I hate reading articles online or in magazines that give me information 'about' a person that is apparently newsworthy, unless that article or post was approved of by 'said' person.  I literally cringe when I see people post articles about other people, celebrities, politicians, preachers, etc on facebook of a negative or critical nature. I don't even give those articles the time of day, usually. 
I guess I wouldn't want people writing articles about me without knowing me, so I don't feel justified in sharing or reading information about them, whether what they do or say or believe is wrong or right. It's bad enough I have to see the name of the article and who it's about in my newsfeed, I wonder if people go searching for this stuff online to get the dirty dish on people. 
It's just not my thing, I guess. 

8. I'm in a constant battle with myself with taking responsibility and avoiding responsibility. I don't mean for my past actions. I am fully aware of when I do wrong and am capable of admitting it. But I mean when I see a need at church or if I feel like maybe I should be more responsive in the blogging community or in my personal friendships, I tell myself, "Ok, lets do this..."But then I get afraid if I committ, I will get overwhelmed and stressed out trying to  help others. So I am always trying to find a balance and search my limits and availability. And trying not to be selfish at the same time...

9. Peanut butter apparently gives me heartburn, particularly when I am pregnant, but cookies, bars,  or toast with peanut butter is unavoidably delicious to me, so I suffer through the burn to taste the goodness.

10. I cry at everything. If you have made me cry at some point or another, don't feel too special. I will tear up if someone texts a "K" instead of an "OK." For some reason it makes me feel like you are being short or abrupt with me and I am left wondering why you are such a jerk and what I did to deserve it because I am as sweet as pie... ;)

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Christmas Movie Game 2013// Steal It or Just Play It!

Hey friends! I've already had several emails coming in this past week,  regarding THIS very post from last year and people requesting the answers to the the game so they can play it at their Christmas parties, so I thought I would share it again with you for Christmas 2013! Enjoy!

I bet you all have some Christmas Parties coming up in the next few weeks!
Yep, me too! The past several years it was my job to come up with some new, fun games for 
 Christmas Party in the youth ministry at my church! 
Last year I made this one up! And we used it again this year!
It's timeless! 
And fun!
And something different than the same ole, same ole!

If you want to grab it to challenge your family & friends with some
Christmas Movie Trivia without doing all the work, then Merry Christmas!
This is my gift to you! ;)
Feel free to download or save it to your computer & convert to dvd or a video file 
or whatever you want to do for your Christmas Party this year!

...Or just play it for yourself! 
Chances are, since you are playing it online, you will have time to 'think' about it,
but when you play it with a group, its not quite as easy to think of the answers so quickly.

1) Number a paper 1-20
2) Watch (listen) to the video and Name that Christmas Movie that each sound bite came from!
3) Then just replay it, this time giving the answers as you go through the game!
I already did all the work for you!

If you would like me to email you the answers so you can challenge your family,
leave me a comment and let me know you love it and I will send the answers your way!
Make sure I can reply back to you somehow!

All sound bites came from various movie clips which do not own any copyright to
Background photo file found here . I just put it all together as a game. 

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Uniquely You

This week I had some fun joining the Uniquely You Campaign with ModCloth. 
Totally & Honestly, ModCloth is one of my favorite websites to drool over, so this was easy
and super fun to create an ensemble that is 'Uniquely Me' from all the retro and chic items
available on Modcloth. I decided to go for sort of a wintery retro dinner party look and these
are some of the classic beauties I came up with...
If you like these, go check out more of the site. Love love love!

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Kids and Conversation~Leila's thoughts on God

 I've mentioned this before several times, but one of the wonderful things about having kids 
is the brilliant things they say. I wonder how their little minds come up with such creative 
thoughts and I challenge any parent to start keeping record of things your child says, if you 
don't already. You won't regret it and will love looking back and laughing and you read what
 your child thought and said out loud!
Here are a couple of Leila's adorable quotes about her thoughts on God that 
she said to me in the past week!

"Mommy, How come God got a lot of eyes? 
He gots two eyes, but he can see everything."

"Mommy, I think the cats purring. Because I felt her belly and it was krinkly. And I think 
that means she has God in her heart cuz some cats have God in their heart."

"Mom, God does everything. He does morning and 
night night time and rain and flowers.
Satan just fights. That's what I think about it."

I loved the "that's what I think about it" she threw in at the end.
Obviously I am bias, but she is pretty darn cute.

Monday, November 25, 2013

You're A Bad Mom...

Just moments I got a call from a teacher at my son's school, saying he felt nervous because he was presenting his science project and parents were coming to watch and he forgot to tell us. Luckily, even though my daughter and I were in our pj's, Jeff has Mondays off, so I sent him on a whim. He had to get there in 10 minutes, but he was all set to go anyways, so he walked out the door immediately. The sad part is, why didn't I know about this already? I'm the one who helped him (basically did) the science project with him. But there is a part of me that feels like a bad mom because how did I miss that today was his presentation day. Was there a paper sent home that I missed? Did Wes tell me at some point and I forgot?

What is it that makes a bad mom? 

I was on a whole rant inside my brain last week on this topic because of the overwhelming posts on my facebook newsfeed lately with vents on other parents, and how and what they 'should' be doing...
Honestly, parenting is hard enough. It's hard making decisions based on each individual child's needs. What works for one doesn't necessarily work for another. If you are a parent of multiple children you know this. Parenting is exhausting and scary and frustrating. It's hard enough without trying to feel like you need to live up to the standards of what another parent chooses for their children, much less a single person with no children. That's the worst.

Parenting is not black and white. It's a whole lot of grey.

Unless something is specifically morally corrupt, it's hard to say what is wrong and right or what is best and it boils down to the child and the family and their schedule and the family's needs.
Where one mom has to work, another mom feels it's necessary to stay home with her kids.
When one parent feels homeschooling is the answer, another feels like pushing their child socially is what their child needs to develop certain skills.
When one child needs communication, another needs strict discipline.

I have felt like a bad mom on several times. On my own. With no one's help.

And I will admit, other people have made me feel worse. I have felt the pressure to homeschool from homeschool parents, as I hear of all the evils of the public school system. But what people don't know is what goes down in my home when the topic of homeschooling comes up. It's a fight of parent against parent...and unfortunately one of us looks like we are 'taking sides' with the child who 'wants' to stay home and avoid people. I've finally taken a back seat on this discussion, because I am choosing to honor my husband in what he feels is best and in the end, this is best for my son...seeing that I respect the decisions that Jeff makes. 
End of discussion. Unless Jeff changes his mind.
I've felt like a bad parent because I knew people disapproved that my daughter used to like Justin Beiber at the age of five. I really had no problem with it when he was a child. I knew he would grow up and get into trouble. It's inevitable in the celebrity world. And I knew his background and upbringing was Christian... 
So, I never felt the need to forbid Jada to 'like' Justin Beiber, because I figured it would wear off just like Dora The Explorer and the "witches" on that show or Barbie and all her ridiculous 'materialism' or My Little Pony and all the 'sorcery and magic.'

Although I usually skipped the "witchdoctor" episodes on Dora, but now what do I do about Barbie and her two mile long closet filled with that many clothes? Really? Barbie? C'mon! Clearly, that's not right to teach my child either.

Eeesh. Parenting is exhausting.

Everything out there, every single cartoon, every single musician is filled with some sort of thing that many parents would consider having a 'negative' effect on their children, some other parent may disapprove of because of their personal convictions. Where one parent may really disapprove of My Little Pony, they may be totally comfortable with letting their kids watch Rudolph the Rednose Reindeer with a story about Santa Claus. Is both the sorcery and the lie about Santa wrong? Probably. Do we all feel as strongly about the extent we carry our convictions out? Probably not.

Do you or do you not let your kids watch Elf?
Do you or do you not laugh at "it's a sucky thing" just like everyone else?

I honestly don't think their are alot of "bad" parents. 

At least not what sometimes we deem as a bad parent. There are certainly those who are abusive or neglect. There are certainly those who can't seem to take care of their own lives, much less try to raise little children to be capable, decision making adults...
but a parent that schools their children a different way, feeds their children a different way, lets their children celebrate holidays a different way, watch or listen to different music or tv shows, parents who do discipline a different way than we do are not bad parents.

It's funny because when my kids go to my parents house, my dad will never let them watch Goosebumps. I guess because the very nature of the show is supposed to be scary or something. And I can guarantee if that show existed when I was young, we would not be allowed to watch it.
But it's the cheesiest thing I've ever seen, so I have no problem with it.

This morning we were discussing shows with "ghosts" with my kids because Leila wanted to watch Casper and Wesley was just asking me about the scariest movies I've ever seen the other day... and personally in general I'm not crazy about it, for my kids in particular, because in essence, ghosts are 'dead people' walking around, and why do I want to let my kids watch death, even when Hollywood tries to make it cute?  (This is despite Slappy the talking doll on that a ghost? I don't know. Probably.) Wes brought up that I had let him watch Scooby Doo and I was like "Well, maybe I shouldn't anymore." And Jeff said, "Yeah, but in Scooby Doo, it always just ends up being a person, not a ghost."
Well, yes, that's true too...

And on the other hand, Jeff sure does love watching The Walking Dead...
Um, double standard?

That's what I mean. Parenting is hard. Parenting is not black and white. All situations are NOT the same. All kids are NOT the same. I definitely cannot discipline Wesley like I do Jada. Wesley covers his ears in fear, cowering in  the corner and screaming like we are going to hurt him~literally, 
when we even raise our voice. Jada looks at us and laughs likes its a joke. Not kidding.
She has actually told me when I was yelling at her, while laughing at me "You're face looks weird."
That's a whole new level of discipline for that one, than the one who thinks you will kill them just because your voice goes up a notch or two.

We don't know the situations of families inside their homes. We don't know what parents have done and tried with specific kids. We don't know what parents have talked about with their kids, what they have been through, what disabilities they may be dealing why do we presume to 'know" and to make assumptions and give unsolicited "advice."

Sure, we may think it when we see it when we see the mom yelling and dragging the screaming child in the grocery store, but do we need to make her feel worse? One person may think "Wow, I need to call social services on that lady." While another person thinks "Oh my gosh, that poor woman, I should help her. I know what that is like." While yet another person thinks, "Why doesn't she control her kids? She must "spare the rod and spoil the child. She needs to discipline."

How do you know that she doesn't discipline when she gets to the car?

And for the record, in the beginning of this school year, Jada is eight now and came home from school telling me she didn't like Justin Beiber anymore because she heard from her friends about some of his latest shenanigans in public. I didn't pat her on the back (although I was proud of her decision), I told her "Well, honey, I think when people get famous, they get alot of pressure from other people and alot of times they make bad decisions and do stupid things. We all make bad descisions. Instead of saying we don't like them, why don't we just pray for him, because I know his mom and other people are praying for him too."  And she agreed.

It just frustrates me. The level of judging people do on what is probably the hardest job in the world.
We all need to rely on our own intuition and the needs of our own children and families. If we need advice, we ask for it. Honestly, for me, I pray alot about things that I'm not sure about. There is so much grey. I wish it was all black and white. I wish we all had a handbook, but God made us parents so he has given us the ability to do this, whether we feel like we are doing a good job or not.

One of my favorite blog posts about parenting was written on the Matt Walsh Blog. If you ever feel like you've been judged by people in public, because of the way your kids are acting, you will love this:  
This one is also good:  

There are other people who do relate to you. Not everyone is judging you.
You ARE a good mom or dad, despite what people say on facebook or how you feel after you just had a meltdown in the presence of your children.  I watched this video and I cried...When mom's feel like they aren't good enough, their children see them quite differently.

and this is HILARIOUS if you need a good laugh about being a parent. 
Thanks to Brooke for sharing it with me...

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

17 Years of Marriage

This week, Jeff and I celebrate 17 years of marriage. That means I got married when I was twelve.
Hehe. There are some things that just don't go without saying and my gratitude for this man as of late is beyond enormous. If you are facebook friends with me, you may have read that I have not been feeling well the last few months. I've been absent from the online world and certainly anti-social. Several physical issues combined have left me exhausted, both physically and emotionally and in pain and weary and somewhat frightened at times.  Jeff has certainly pulled double parent and grown up duty in our house lately. Not to mention he sat and hugged me in between his responsibilities for about 20 minutes last Saturday as I sobbed and sobbed. He didn't try to fix anything. He was just there for me.
My general status the last couple months has been laying on the sofa or in my bed, with no makeup and sweats watching him run the kids everywhere, pick them up, make lunches, do laundry, make dinners, do dishes...meanwhile work his own job. Today, I felt like crying as I looked at myself in the mirror and thought, "The least I could do is put on some makeup and look pretty for him." So I did.
I am forever in debt to my husband for his uncompromising commitment to be there for me when I didn't deserve it and when I needed it most. Although I know marriage isn't about debt, but it's being a part of a team and unconditional love. Yes, he has definitely taken more than one for the team.

Just wanting to wish my hubby a Happy Anniversary this week.
And let you all know I am alive, not exactly kicking, but happy and alive.

I want to say a special thank you to Thrive Moms, Mackenzie, & Lena for your continued prayers and encouragement. It has meant and helped alot.

Monday, October 14, 2013

It's Not Me, It's Him

Over the weekend, I was at an anniversary party and some friends of ours sat down next to me 
and the guy said to me, "So, when you are you going to write a devotional?" 
Almost on a daily basis, on my facebook wall in the morning I share little snipits of what God is teaching 'today' and I never really thought about it, but I guess a lot of it would be "devotional" type of material. 
I kind of sat there with a puzzled look on my face and said "Huh..." It wasn't like a question "huh?", 
but more like a "Well, there's a thought." I told him, That's a good idea. I know I'm supposed to be writing, but sometimes I just don't feel like I have enough in me to write a whole book. 
But I do have bits and pieces of things on my heart."
 As soon as I left the party, the thought came to me, well that's the biggest lie you've ever told yourself.

Have you ever told yourself a lie like this?  
That you don't have enough in you to do what it takes....
 I felt like that's what God said to me.. .yes, now God is saying it (the really thing)...
He said "Really Julie? YOU don't have enough in you, eh? Don't I live on the inside of you? 
Isn't it by MY strength, by MY power? Don't you live and move and have your being in ME?"

Wow! Well I keep telling myself, it's all Him... All of this, everything I write, being a mother, being a wife, stepping into new positions in my life, it's all Him. It's all by his strength I do any of it. I can't be a mother of three on my own. Are you kidding me? I can't be a wife of seventeen years on my own. I can write this stuff on my own...
So why would the next thing (the scarier thing) be any different? 
(As if trying to raise and instill morals into three small people isn't scary)

It's not us, It's him. 
We just have to be willing.
Are you willing?

We have to remember that the Greater One is on the inside of us. Why do we belittle him to having such
little ability through us?  We are telling God he didn't give us what it takes...
Or better yet, why do we think that anything we do or have ever done is done without him?
It's not...

Allow yourself to believe that "Greater is He that is in YOU..." (I John 4:4)
With it comes freedom to open yourself and allow everything (and I mean everything) HE placed on the  inside of you, every passion, every talent... to be used for his Glory. 
He put it there. There is nothing God can't do through you. We just have to allow him to.

I love  this scripture I heard last night and read this morning...
Daniel 11:32~ But the people who know there God shall prove themselves strong and stand firm
and do exploits for Him (their God).

If you know your God, this means you...

Congrats to Hanna over at bouffe e bambini for winning the #tenpoundsbytenten challenge.
She was actually the only one who lost over ten pounds! Yay! Go Hanna!

Thursday, October 3, 2013

When You Believe Google Over God

I've come across way too many people lately, including myself, who want to question God's word.
Not on purpose, but just the same as the people who pick it apart word for word deciding what they will and won't believe, we still do it.
The whole point of believing it, is that you have Faith.We believe what we cannot make sense of in our mind. We believe what you cannot see or feel. We either believe it is inspired by God or we don't.
If you don't, then it certainly doesn't mean to you what it does to someone that has faith in the Bible.
Because to that person, the questionable, in time becomes reality. But it takes faith to get there.
Perhaps to some it's a book of poetry or stories of history (true or untrue) told by men.
But to those that believe the depth therein, the depth is as simple as faith in every promise spoken. That every word spoken throughout thousands of years comes from the mind of our creator. What he did for one, he will do for us. Afterall, he is neither a liar, nor he is a respecter of persons.
We believe that because His word says it. Yes, His word...God's word.

Trust and faith in God and his word are both supernatural responses, if that makes sense. They don't make sense. They're not "natural" as we think of the word. It's the opposite of what comes naturally to us. Our natural pea sized brain wants to reason, to wonder, to question, to debate, to worry....Our natural mind wants to google whenever a circumstance or a difficulty or something we don't understand arises. Or we want to "intellectually" justify our conclusions in which we belittle the Bible to be less than what it claims to be ~ the inspired word of God.   It's highly egotistical to place trust in our "knowledge " or "understanding" of something, as opposed to the mind of God and even more so, the heart of God.

Repeately in scripture we are told to trust in Him. Repeatedly He reveals his heart and his thoughts in scripture, and as "believers" we claim to believe it, yet we still pick it apart. We still fight it. We debate it. We choose what we will believe. We still google it, our questions, our answers, our symptoms...before we trust Him. We find out fallen man's thoughts, fallen mans experiences and we choose to believe fallen man's words over God's. 

No, we would never say that, but if we are honest with ourselves, we do it all the time.

 He wouldn't tell us to 'trust him' it if we were incapable of trusting Him. Fight the desire to worry. Fight the urge to google. Fight the desire to reason and compromise over his word.
Respond to life supernaturally or abnormally, whatever makes more sense to you. Which actually, as a person of 'faith', trust (the abnormal) should be a normal response.
Respond to life 'in faith' of Gods promises. Not faith in google's declarations.
Googles got nothing on God's promises.

  As it were, I was googling symptoms the other night, I woke up and I opened my devotions to this topic. 
We love to trust in our own understanding of things. Why? We love to find out what other people say about it. Why?  But one complaint, one word of negativity or worry can slowly spiral out of control and can take  the place of our knowledge of who God is and what He has promised us. Stop yourself before you give yourself over to a life of question and reasoning. Stop yourself before you replace faith with questions and then questions become doubt.

Friend, remember, faith believes what it cannot see. It doesn't go to man first. It doesn't turn on the laptop first. It doesn't open the latest 'christian' book filled with man's unbelief first. It sees God first and trusts in Him alone.

But I trust in your unfailing love, my heart rejoices in your salvation.
Psalms 13:5

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

A Message To All Women

No matter what stage of life you're in, whether you are feeling weak,
whether your circumstances are less than acceptable.
Maybe you are at the top of your game.
you have a happy family, the perfect job...
Maybe you have enough blog readers, satisfy you.
Maybe, you feel sad or left out because you don't get noticed.
Maybe you want to lose weight, maybe you want to gain it.
Maybe you want a husband,
 Maybe you are desperate for healing in your broken marriage.
Maybe you have five noisy kids,
maybe you've had five miscarriages.
Whatever season of life you are in, good or bad.
You're seasons and circumstances don't define you.
Your job status or marital status doesnt define you.

You are worth more.
You have everything you need to be an AMAZING you. 
You have everything you need to give, to love, and to receive love.
I watched this video just moments ago, tears in my eyes...
and I wanted desperately to share it with all of you.
I hope you take a few minutes to watch this.
 You deserve it.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Tears & Mascara

This morning, as I sat in Colectivo Coffee, formerly known as Alterra, I caught myself off guard as tears managed to make their way down my face. Not a lot, but enough to try and hide myself. It's been evident this week that suddenly the very early loss of a pregnancy this summer is hitting me harder now, than it did when it happened I think. I just keep thinking how far along I would have been today. Almost 17 weeks. Almost half way there. The sight of that woman's beautiful and perfectly round belly gave way to this mascara stained napkin right in the middle of Colectivo.
And yet somehow, there's a sense of guilt over feeling sad about it.
I feel like I shouldn't be allowed. I have three crazy adorable children and in the past five years, I've become increasingly aware of the struggles other people go through to have children, if they ever even get that chance. And somehow I feel like in comparison, my heartache shouldn't matter.
I should be thankful. Yet, I know I am beyond thankful.
I can't say my tears today were the same as my months of tears when I lost Naomi at eighteen weeks. My very first pregnancy I was naive at best. I remember hearing myself say after months of morning sickness and vomiting "I don't want to be pregnant anymore." Of course I didn't really mean it. I just wanted to feel good. But those words still haunt me at times. And some days I still have to fight the need to blame myself, because suddenly weeks later, I wasn't.  To wake up each day for four and a half months,  pregnant, and then suddenly know it's over, is beyond devastating. And then to lose another baby just months later, it scared me. I wondered if this was my fate.
Perhaps you know. Perhaps you remember similar feelings. Perhaps my pain seems mediocre in comparison to what you have been through.
Obviously, my situation turned around. My faith in God's promises grew. I knew that he commanded us to be fruitful and multiply.  I knew that children were supposed to be a blessing.  I knew that He had given barren women in the Bible the desire of their heart. 
And I knew He is no respecter of people.  So I let myself heal. Then I let myself believe again.  And now I have three goofy, wonderful, completely different children, which three incredibly unique personalities.

So, why did I feel like I had any right to feel sorry for myself? To feel just a little bit sad this morning? To mourn the loss of what could have been?  It is ok for me to cry about this after I have three, when so many others struggle to have one? I battle this.
But in the end, I know that every person has their own set of struggles. What hits one hard, may depend on the season of life they are in at that time. Or it may depend on what they have been through already.  To judge others pain isn't fair, so to judge my own shouldn't be either, I suppose.. It is what it is. I'm not overwhelmed in emotion. I simply had a moment.
Just a moment where I missed what should have been.
And I'm always thankful for what I have and where God is bringing our family to next...

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

The Simplicity of A Child

The simplicity of a childhood is something most of us wish we could get back.
Before life got bigger than going to the park and hiding from monsters,
learning to ride a bike and then falling off.

Life was just life. And we didn't even know it.
We didn't know it would ever get hard.
We didn't know we would ever look for 'meaning' or 'more.'

And when we prayed, we didn't pray for terrorism to stay far away from us.
We didn't pray for a better job so we could take care of our family.
Instead, when we prayed, it was simple. 
Our faith was big wrapped up in simple words.

Last night before bed, my daughters each had a turn to pray.

Jada prayed this,
Dear Jesus. Thank you.for this day. Please help me dream about suns with happy faces 
and flowers with happy faces and all the pets in the world. In Jesus Name. 

Leila prayed this,
Please help me dream about hippos and rainbows and butterflies. I don't want to dream about 
deer or Satan. I just want to dream about dogs and cats and people and houses and God. 

Jada and I got a good laugh about Leila's prayer...deer and Satan...
hippos and rainbows...
I wish I could think more like her.
Life would be so fun. 

But to be honest, I think I might be a little creeped out dreaming about
suns and flowers with happy faces... 

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Keep Our Kids Safe, Lord...

This morning I was going through the 50 zillion papers that come home with my kids every week. I don't know about you, but I need a few quiet moments to process everything that is coming at me. I need quiet. Between sports opportunities, music opportunities, hot lunch, cub scouts, volunteers needed, PTA meetings, school policies, homework, field trips and everything else, with three kids, in two different schools...well, its just ALOT. I'm still trying to grasp that the fact that the public school system does stuff online, has resources, student workbooks online and they regularly use ipads in the classroom. Reports are done with technology. It's just so different that the school life we remember.

The one thing that caught my eye and made my heart stop for just a second was a letter that talking about the school's safety procedures. The letter said that this year the school will be practicing "intruder" drills and gave the alternate school location they would be at in case of an emergency evacuation. To be honest, I tried to hold back the tears a bit. I don't know why. When the Sandy Hook shooting happened last year, I think we all hugged our kids more, prayed a little more, snuggled a little more, but then time goes by and we forget just a little bit that we are sending our kids off into a world where things like this happen. At least in this day and age. And it hit me like a ton of bricks. It's very easy to be afraid, especially after we see that it happened again, this week. It's a scary world we live in and in case you haven't noticed, it keeps getting worse.

So what do we do? Do we live in fear? Do we keep our kids home where we can see them all the time? Where they are constantly under our watch and protection? Or do we trust in the hand of the Lord? 
I wanted to offer just a few scriptures for you to pray over your child and claim for your lives and families.

Deuteronomy 7:9 says 
Understand, therefore, that the LORD your God is indeed God. He is the faithful God who keeps his covenant for a thousand generations and lavishes his unfailing love on those who love him and obey his commands.

and Isaiah 55:11 says
So shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth;
It shall not return to Me void,
But it shall accomplish what I please,
And it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it.

So we can see, that God does not offer up promises in his word and take it back. He is faithful to his word.  He says it. It just takes faith to believe it, obviously!
When you pray over your family and your children and yourself, remind the Lord what his word says. His character is revealed throughout the entirety of the Bible, so even if you have to google scriptures on protection for them & peace for you, it can help. But here are a few to start with...

You are my hiding place; You shall preserve me from trouble; You shall surround me with songs of deliverance. Psalm 37:2

Be merciful to me, O God, be merciful to me! For my soul trusts in You; and in the shadow of Your wings I will make my refuge, until these calamities have passed by. Psalm 57:1

Though I walk in the midst of trouble, thou wilt revive me: thou shalt stretch forth thine hand against the wrath of mine enemies, and thy right hand shall save me Psalm 138:7

The fear of man brings a snare, but whoever trusts in the Lord shall be safe. Proverbs 29:25

But in that coming day no weapon turned against you will succeed. You will silence every voice raised up to accuse you. These benefits are enjoyed by the servants of the LORD; their vindication will come from me. I, the LORD, have spoken! Isaiah 54:17

Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid. John 14:27

But the Lord is faithful, and he will strengthen and protect you from the evil one. 2 Thessalonians 3:3

 Every word of God is pure: he is a shield unto them that put their trust in him. Proverbs 30:5

…For He Himself has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” So we may boldly say: “The Lord is my helper; I will not fear. What can man do to me?” Hebrews 13:5-6

For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind. 2 Timothy 1:7

I will both lay me down in peace, and sleep: for thou, LORD, only makes me dwell in safety. Psalms 4:8

and probably one of the absolute best scripture passages on protection is Psalm 91

You who live in the shelter of the Most High, who spend your nights in the shadow of the Almighty, who say to the LORD, “My refuge! My fortress! My God, in whom I trust!” – 
He will rescue you from the trap of the hunter, and from the plague of disease. 
He will cover you with His pinions, and under His wings you will find refuge; 
His truth is a shield and a protection.
You will not fear the terrors of night, or the arrow that flies by day, 
or the sickness that roams in the dark, or even the destruction that lays waste at noon. 
A thousand may fall at your side, ten thousand at your right hand, but it won’t come near you. Only keep your eyes open, and you will see how the wicked are punished. 
For you have made the LORD, the Most High, who is my refuge, your dwelling place.
No disaster will happen to you, no calamity will come near your house;
for He will order His angels to care for you and guard you wherever you go. 
They will carry you in their hands, so that you won’t trip on a stone. 
You will tread down lions and snakes, young lions and serpents you will trample underfoot.
“Because he loves Me, I will rescue him; because he knows My Name, I will protect him. 
He will call upon Me, and I will answer him. I will be with him when he is in trouble. 
I will rescue him and bring him honor. 
I will satisfy him with long life and show him My salvation.”

These are just a FEW of the hundreds of verses that can bring you comfort and you can pray over your family. I hope they help you, like they do me. If you need to, where it says "me" you can say "my family" or where is says "your" you can say "my."

Also, I wanted to mention this. When you have a personal relationship with the Lord, he is wonderful  at letting you know things to come. Sometimes we call it intuition. It's just a quiet small voice inside of you letting you know not to do something or be somewhere or go that way...and you cant really give a rational reason as to why you would be feeling like that. But I've heard dozens of stories of people escaping accidents, even 9/11, because they felt like they weren't supposed to get on that plane, or take that turn, etc...
Sometimes we don't listen to that, because we think we are imagining it, but He is trying to help...
 John 16:13 says this:
When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all truth. He will not speak on his own but will tell you what he has heard. He will tell you about the future.

If you want to have a closer connection to the Lord and to feel his peace, and not just know about him or know what other people say about him, I really want to encourage you to invite him into your life. It's not as weird or religious as you might think. It's simple. It's just doing life...with God.

If you have any questions about this, never hesitate to ask me. I can even tell you what to pray if you want. It's between you and me... and God of course!

Friday, September 13, 2013

An 8 Year Old & The Bible

Last night Jada asked me to read her a book and ended up bringing me a kids Bible Trivia book her Grandma had given us. This by far was one of the best decisions I've made all week, because I can't stop laughing at her answers. If you know anything about the Bible at all, you will love me for this....

Q: When Jesus visited Peters house, a woman was sick w a fever. Who was this woman.
A: I know her name. It was Sally. I mean Sinner.

Q:This baby made a crying face. A princess found the baby in a basket floating on the river Nile. 
Who is the baby?
A: Moseph?

Q: This man & woman are very old, but they are happy and holding a baby. It's not their gran dson or great grandson, its their son Isaac. Who is this man and woman? It starts with an S & A.
A: Sacrifice & Animal

Q: It's a place where a boy is about 12 years old is teaching older men who are like teachers. A man & woman come in concerned and say "Jesus, we've been looking for you."
 What is this place?
A: Um, a cinnamon? Thats what my teacher said.

And this is coming from a preacher's granddaughter & a christian school student.
Looks like we need to brush her up on her Bible Trivia a little bit more at home.
I will say, I'm gonna make good use of this book though, pretty much for my own entertainment.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Break My Heart

I had no plans to write this week, but how could I not say something on a day like today. As I scroll through my Facebook feed, all the reminders of this very day, twelve years ago. People being reminded of where they were when the heard the news about the attacks on our country. Of course, I remember. But what I remember was my mom calling me and saying "Paris bombed the World Trade Center." Obviously that's not what she said, but as I turned on the news, in that moment realized how life suddenly became that much more real to thousands of people. I don't remember if I cried. I don't remember my emotion in that moment. But I remember the emotion in the weeks to follow.

I remember.

I wrote more, but decided to leave it at this. Compassion. For those who are victims and for those who cause the pain. Our world needs it no matter who they are or what they've done. Not just in the major tragedies, but people every day are hurting and confused and they hurt others because of it. My heart aches for those who are so lost in this chaos we have made of our world God gave us. Honestly, humanity has made quite of a mess of this place. But if we see this world through God's eyes and love them with God's heart, suddenly our heart breaks for every person out there.

My prayer is today that you would stay close to God. Yes, He is always with you, but that you would stay in constant awareness of his presence with you. That you would talk to him and listen when he speaks to you. And when you do, suddenly your vision is clear, your ears are open and your heart will notice people every day that need hope. They need healing. The need love.

And you can be that connection to them finding it.
That is the call God wants every one of us to answer.

Friday, September 6, 2013

Character vs Reputation

I read this brilliant quote today on facebook and it spoke volumes to me.

I was the queen of getting my feelings hurt. And this week alone, I felt like I was spoon fed several opportunities to be offended at what people might think of me, of my "reputation."  In all honesty, my hearts cry is to remain humble. And in my heart of hearts, I want to be a balanced person of God's grace, his wisdom, and his love...and at the same time, I still want people know that I'm real and messy and fun and sarcastic. I'm not religious. I'm not fake. And I don't pretend to be better or worse than I am. I'm just me. And it hurts when it seems like people don't see that. It hurts when people see something they don't like. 
But that's me. That's how I roll.
I have to try my hardest not to let little things people may think about me bother me. At the same time, I've been working harder at not being a doormat, and not doing things just because people will or won't approve of me.

I want to be true to who I am. 
I want to be who God made me to be. 

It isn't always easy to defy the rules that will give you a generous reputation or to defy the art of people pleasing.
 But at the same time, there is something about standing up for yourself that helps define confidence in who God says you are. It defines character and loyalty and honesty within yourself and everyone around you. When I say standing up for yourself, I don't mean a haughty outward defiance to the world and those who hurt you, and I'm not talking about a giving yourself an ego boost or a "you deserve better" pep talk,  
I'm talking about developing true character, which somehow in contrast to pride and ego, brings about both humility and strength at the same time.
On the inside of you.

 All I know is I have to be happy with who I am. And I am happiest most when my allegiance is to Jesus.
I've found that I''m not always well liked because of it. Jesus comes before everything and everyone.
My relationship with him beats church, ministry, family, rules...everything. It sounds harsh, but if I have no relationship and intimacy with him, I don't feel like I'm much good in any of these other areas anyways.
If I'm in love with him, then I do so much better at everything I am doing in this life.

Don't you hate that when you know in you're heart how genuine you are, when you know how much you love people, how much you want to help others and love God....but someone else sees you differently?
It's hard. And it sort of breaks little pieces of you when it happens.

But what do you do then? 
I was taking a walk the other day and sort of chuckled to myself as I heard myself say, "Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do." But I know that is so out of line. I am no better than any other person.
But it was funny, because that's sort of how I felt. It was honest. For a minute, anyways.

Truthfully though, I've had to ask God to show me if I'm wrong somewhere, if was out of line at some point of time. My first step is to get myself right before God, not right in someone else's eyes.  
I use the opportunity to grow in strength and to grow in character. I want to care more about who I am in the eyes of God, than what people think about me. And I want to be everything God says I am. 

Humility and forgiveness is key. It's not easy. I've drudged up the same hurts in my mind over and over and over again. And over and over and over again, God has taught me how to forgive and let go. I ask for his strength to let go of it...because sometimes, it can kill you slowly and it wants to suck the life out of you.
I've experience life suckage. In major ways.
And not only is forgiveness key, but something else I heard today that I should have known but haven't done a whole lot of to be honest, but praying for the person who hurt you. It can actually build more love in you for that person. This is humility and love in its truest form. Praying for those who have hurt you.

My prayer this weekend is that if you've been hurt in any way by someone, in the smallest of ways or the biggest, that you ask God for his grace and his strength to look that offender in the eye (at least in your heart) and love them with the biggest of loves. His.

  But I say, love your enemies! Pray for those who persecute you!   In that way, you will be acting as true children of your Father in heaven. For he gives his sunlight to both the evil and the good, and he sends rain on the just and the unjust alike.   If you love only those who love you, what reward is there for that? Even corrupt tax collectors do that much.   If you are kind only to your friends,  how are you different from anyone else? Even pagans do that.   But you are to be perfect, even as your Father in heaven is perfect.
Matthew 5:43-48

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Losing My Cool On The First Day Of School

Somebody should have warned me how hard this be. I love my kids so much. But I am one of those
parents that looks forward to school starting again. Just a little bit of breathing time. This is the beginning of a new era for me. This is the first time in 10 years that I am a stay at home mom with no kids at home...
well for four hours, three mornings a week anyways.  I mean, I work at home sort of, but for these three days, just a few hours a day, I will be on my own schedule. The thought of this excited me.
Until I dropped Leila off for school this morning. She flipped out, clung to my leg. I had to walk away with her screaming, hanging onto me, while the teacher pried her baby fingers one by one from my legs. It was the worst thing ever. I stood in the hallway and listened to her scream for about ten minutes and then I heard her cry,
 "Can I have mommy now?" My heart....
Another mom came up to me and told me she went through the same thing yesterday and said "It will be ok"
and I just lost it right there in the school, with random friendly strangers hugging me.
I need her to be used to time away from me before school starts full time next year. I knew this was how she would be, so this is my exact reasoning for getting her used to preschool. But it's so hard.
Nevertheless, its a nice change, sitting here. I have a work load of stuff to do for my church, web banners and facebook banners and flyers and advertisement, etc... but for now I am just sitting.

Jada is way too easy. I mean what can I say. She cried a little bit last night. She asked me if she could be homeschooled. She asked me why God didn't just make us automatically smart. But that was the extent of her fussing about school. She went to school happy and quiet, smiled and waved as I left her classroom.
This is my Jada. So laid back. Everything is so chill for her. Either that, or it's a joke. Everything.

What now? 
To be honest, we want another baby. You would think I would be happy having all my kids at school, being a "work at home" mom...and finally getting a break. Sure, I enjoy the "break" but I don't think I am done. I am hoping by next year I will not be sitting here alone, but with a little newborn. I am praying for this. We have been "trying" for five months and I had an early miscarriage over the summer.  I didn't tell many people because I barely found out and within days it was over.
I know this isn't the longest time anyone has tried for a baby. Trust me, I understand the hardships people go through. But I'm creeping up on 38, and I just don't want this to be it for me.

My heart is aching one more little person around here.
And I am holding to God's promises...

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Growing Up Is Hard (for Momma)!

The tears were definitely evident as I walked away. This may be the first time I cried dropping a kid off at their first day of school. Wes was excited and nervous. He explained it like this, "Kind of like when you go on a rollercoaster... and you know what I mean." Obviously, I do.

I'm not sure why I cried. Maybe it's because of the new school thing. The boys gave him a high five when he was introduced so he seemed welcomed. I think it was mostly just looking at him and how old he looks with his new group of friends. I keep trying to avoid the fact that he is quickly creeping up on being a teenager.
Or maybe I cried because he is finally able to wear normal clothes to school! No uniform! Yay! Haha!

I love this kid so much.

I layed with him for almost two hours last night trying to get him to fall asleep. Going to bed at 8pm is unreasonable after three months of going to be at eleven. But I promised him I would lay there and rub his back and I would NOT fall asleep before him. This is a common complaint with him.

Tomorrow I do it all over again. Jada starts second grade and Leila starts her very first day of preschool.
That's gonna be a tough one. Leila. She is a mommy's girl all the way. I don't know what I will do for four hours a day with no kids whatsoever. It's like I'm the one all grown up! Tears....

But I still can't wait.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Aspergers, Emotional Disability...Or Fearfully & Wonderfully Made?

Friday afternoons for me are a good time for reflection. A time to sit in the quiet for just a few hours before the mixed up pile of jumbled noise begins once again. Mostly I can handle it. Mostly I embrace it actually.
I've learned over this summer to see my glass as half full . Instead of calling my life chaotic and full of noisy kids all day long, every day, I call it full of life and energy and fun. Mostly.
Generally during the summers, I have my 3 kids, plus two to four extra kids in my house that I babysit.
It keeps my kids mostly occupied and happy to have friends to play with. But right around lunch time,
it gets extra noisy, extra busy...and well extra full? Suddenly the kids break out in some sort of debate over some silly thing and are tattling on one another. Suddenly I am making lunches for seven, eight or nine people in the house.
But on Friday afternoons, my husband is a peach. I lay my two Friday kids down for their nap, 
and he takes my three kids out of the house down the road to the park or to a local coffee shop...
and I can just sit. I can breath for a good two hours or more.
It's heavenly to say the least. And that is what I am doing right now. 
Breathing and reflecting on the course of events this summer has taken.

Today I'm reflecting a bit on something I wrote last night. I was asked to write a post for a website that will be launching soon called Women With Worth-W3. I wrote it in my usual nature, thoughtful and encouraging in something that I have been learning. I won't really get too much into it right now, but it affected what I'm about to say. We have a big change happening for us this school year. My oldest son, Wesley will be attending a public school for the first time.  He is going into Fourth grade. You might think, no big deal...but he has been at his school for five years now. All his friends are there...So honestly, this did break me, just a little bit inside. Mostly for him.  Partially for me. 
Feeling a bit sorry for myself, the details leading up to the switch. Feeling a little lost.
For years, Wes has had problems with emotional outbursts. He's just very emotional, which causes him to get very upset and in his words "angry" very easily. Anything from a missed word at a spelling bee to an annoying little sister can set him off and up until this past year or so, we always just chalked it up to a 'bad temper.' 
Or people would tell me he is being "naughty."

Which I agree, he definitely needs discipline, but more than anything, he needs to learn to control himself when he gets frustrated. And when he was in second grade, the words Aspergers Syndrome were brought to our attention by his teacher. After several tests were conducted during third grade, the conclusion was that no, he is not autistic, but carries a lot of similar traits and rather has a emotional/behavioral disability.   

Part of me wanted to take those words and go around to any person that has ever given us subliminal grief over our bad parenting or his behavior and shove it in their face. But the bigger part of me refuses to give my child a name that associates him being anything other than who 
God says he is. Which is what I wrote about last night. Not identifying ourselves with the negative....but with the people who we are created and promised to be by our creator.

Wesley is created in the image and likeness of God. 
Wesley is fearfully and wonderfully and intricately made. 

And yes, the recent letter that was on the news made me furious and horrified 
at the heartache this mother must have felt.  

Wesley's school since K3, being a private school and ill equipped to deal with some of his behavior, asked us to perhaps try a public school for at least this year, where there are counselors and special ed teachers trained to give him time to just talk out some things when he gets upset. They seemed genuine in their concern for Wesley's well being and they are hopeful for his return in his future.
Initially, I wanted to aim word fire at anyone who played any part of this decision, out of frustration and stress and offense. But I stopped, I breathed, and I prayed for Wisdom. And I felt ok.

Now I am looking at this as a positive thing. 

He cried when I first told him, but now he is excited for a fresh start. He gets to go to a school where no one has any preconceived ideas about how he will behave. No kids from his new school have ever gone home and told their parents "what Wesley did today" so he doesn't have to feel embarrassed. Wesley is well aware of how the outbursts looks to others. It's sad when he questions to me why he is not normal. And I reaffirm to him that he is. And that everyone has issues they have to work on.
Every single person in this world does. I know I do. 
It's an opportunity to prove you can work through it.
Not to mention that, Wesley is one of the brightest, smartest kids I know.  As a nine year old,  He doesn't necessarily love that "being smart" is one of his outstanding qualities, he'd rather be funny like his sister, but that brain power will come in handy one day. Man that kid can figure out things on the computer that I still cant. 
The ability to get good grades have never been an issue.. emotion and will to do it have been.

Anyways, as I look over this change in his life...and in ours (since the girls will still be going to private)...
I'm choosing to see how much this will help Wesley and help us. It's nothing to be embarrassed about.
But I tell Wes all the time, that I am so thankful that God gave me the chance to be his mother,
because when he loves, he loves BIG. 
It's part of that extremely emotional thing, it comes in handy when he is in snuggle mode.

On a side note: I was laying with him in bed the other day and he was gripping his "Moosey-Moose"
and Wesley kept kissing him as he snuggled him with his eyes closed and all I could do was
stare at his hands.
Those hands that in just 3 1/2 years will be teenage hands...
and I wanted to pause that moment forever...


Oh yes, you shaped me first inside, then out;
     you formed me in my mother’s womb.
I thank you, High God—you’re breathtaking!
     Body and soul, I am marvelously made!
     I worship in adoration—what a creation!
You know me inside and out,
     you know every bone in my body;
You know exactly how I was made, bit by bit,
     how I was sculpted from nothing into something.
Like an open book, you watched me grow from conception to birth;
     all the stages of my life were spread out before you,
The days of my life all prepared
     before I’d even lived one day.
Psalm 139:13-16

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