Monday, October 19, 2015

Great is Thy Faithfulness

I answered a response question from my Bible study this morning and it made me realize just how selfish and demanding I am when it comes to my relationship with the Lord. I have been praying, wishing and hoping for a third baby for over a year and a half now. While to some that's a drop in the waiting-for-a baby bucket, it is still hard. But, I keep waiting for this blessing...selfishly waiting, not considering His promises and ALL that he has already done in my life.

 I think back to a time I made God wait. The entire DECADE God waited for me to return home. I lived how I wanted, in sin and darkness for over 10 years. I am still not out of the pit yet, I'll never be perfect, but I think sometimes if I am good enough, or if I try hard enough then God will finally bless me. I'm sure it's the same with everyone. There's something in your life you want or think you need and if we just stay on this right track then it will be given to us. I think back to those dark years in my life and I see many times where God literally spared my life from myself and my own stupid decisions that put my life or the life of others in danger. I had no guilt or shame. Yet, God pursued me. He kept searching for me. I kept turning away and He kept showing up.

A pastor I heard on the radio once said, "Sin will take you further than you planned to go, cost you more than you planned to pay and keep you longer than you planned to stay." I was living that life. What started out as fun, "innocent" parties with friends, ended in ugly, messy, legally expensive and soul costly problems that I don't care to even think about.

I am so thankful that God waited for me for a decade. I'm thankful he didn't give up. I'm thankful He kept pursuing me. I'm thankful He didn't leave me in that dark place. Great is His faithfulness. 

Monday, July 27, 2015

Outside Looking In

This post came to me while going through a journal I had written in last December. It's July, I'm talking about Christmas. Christmas in July!

We changed into our Christmas pajamas, headed to Sonic for chocolate peppermint milkshakes (We live in Texas, it doesn’t get that cold in December) and drove to the neighborhood that was getting all the buzz for their light displays. There was one house in particular we wanted to see. It was something off of YouTube; a house strung with over 50,000 lights and they danced along to the music that played from a certain radio station you could only tune into when you were within a certain number of feet of the house. It was beautiful and special and wonderful to hear my two little girls laughing and then quieting down, in silent awe of the beautiful display. 

Then, the front door opened. It wasn’t St. Nick or tiny elves coming to dance a jig and entertain, but a father and son. The little boy was in his Christmas pajamas too. The father and son were holding hands and they walked down their driveway and across the street to stand in their neighbor’s yard to take in the greatness of their hard work that had brought so many in our community smiles and joy. This precious act, of a young boy, wanting to take in the excitement of his house lit up and dancing to Christmas carols warmed my heart. The fact that even though he lived there and saw this daily for at least a month, wanted to enjoy it too, reminded me of our own houses; our own lives that are cause for celebration, even in the small things.

How often do we look into other people’s lives and catch a glimpse of their happy times, yet we don’t stop and enjoy what we have been given and what’s happening in our own lives that is cause for celebration? We see happy faces on social media, pictures of birthday parties, baby showers, engagement parties, weddings, all these glimpses of happy, joyful times of celebration, yet it makes us feel even smaller inside. We don’t stop, open the door, walk out front and take in the beautiful view of our life. The daily doldrums of errands and to-do lists squash the tiny moments of celebration we can celebrate every day. I'm not against social media and sharing those brief happy glimpses of our lives. I do want to remember that it's a brief glimpse, though. I want to take a break even from my own perfectly cropped and filtered photos and enjoy ALL of it from the tiniest success to the tiniest defeat; knowing that all things work together for His good. The good and the bad.

Even if life is full of hurts, sickness, frustration, there’s always room for celebration. Maybe it’s your daughter, learning to fasten her own safety belt and she’s so proud she can’t wipe the smile from her beautiful face. Or, your son, figuring out a math problem that has stumped him for days. Or maybe it’s a moment to celebrate your husband, who made a breakthrough with his boss over a big project right before the final deadline. Maybe it’s you. You have worked so hard to get it all together when you don’t realize that together, you have it all. (Cliche? Yes? But, true). We are all a part of the body of Christ. He has given us all special gifts and talents and each is supposed to be celebrated. Remember, like that little boy, not to forget about your own excitement and celebrations. Take time to walk away from it all, stand back and take in the sometimes messy, but always beautiful view.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Chore/Behavior Punch Cards

Since my last blog post about chores I decided to re-think how I'd handle chores and allowance for Anna, who is almost 5. I found a chore chart on Pinterest that lists chores for children of different ages. I created my own chore cards that Anna places in our hanging chart each day. She chooses one and I choose one. I let her know that there might be more added to her chores depending on what we are doing that day.

Over the last year or so we have stopped and started giving her an allowance several times but recently we have been giving her some change each day; that totals up to her weekly allowance. That is, if she does what she is supposed to do. That got me thinking that I would rather not give her money, candy, toys, etc. at the end of the day but for her to wait for the end/beginning of the week.  Viola! Punch cards!

I saw some punch cards that I have from my favorite retailers and thought it was a great idea to create my own for her chores! We have been focusing on Anna's heart lately so I went with a heart theme. Not her literal heart but the condition of her heart and how she handles the "no's" and the discipline and her feelings and emotions. I also used Colossians 3:23, "Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for people." Hopefully this works a little better and I know she will love keeping it in her wallet and pulling it out each day! We are going to have her redeem it for her allowance and then maybe every 4 weeks if she's earned her allowance the past weeks, give her a trip to the Dollar Store or something like that. We haven't thought it all the way through...we will keep you posted! What incentives or systems do you use with your children? 

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Why My Kids Do Chores

A great friend and mentor recently sent me some files & curriculum suggestions for home schooling and one of them got me thinking about stress. No, not stressed at the idea of home school but at the amount of stress I see and hear parents are under nowadays. One of the files she sent me was "Adult Skills Classes"  and it listed menu planning, cleaning, grocery shopping, household maintenance and others in the courses. This is all stuff that adds to our already stressful lives. Work, meetings, doctor's appointments, event planning (birthdays for children/relatives, vacations, travel, etc...)chores, errands, shopping, sports, music lessons, dance, taking care of pets & animals, church, social engagements...all of life's events are stressful and most of the time it's the parents who are running around like a chicken with their head cut-off trying to get everything done for everybody in their family. The kids just sit around and expect to be chauffeured around to their next adventure.

But, what got me thinking about this was reading over the first class in her "Adult Skills Classes" which was grocery shopping. I was reading the description and the final exam portion was: Complete a shopping trip: prepare the shopping list, do all the shopping, including paying (since they are young the parent of course pays but they go through the transaction), loading groceries in the car, carry the groceries into the house and putting all the food away and bags. Now, I'm not sure if it's just because I've done it so much and it's second nature now, but I didn't really realize just how many steps it actually was! And, how tiring it all can be! And, how stressful it all can be! Do you remember the first time you ever bought something? Did you get all nervous about going up to the cashier to pay? Or, learning how to write a check? That was nerve wracking! I think I messed up two or three trying to figure out how to write out the money and put all the information in the correct fields. Anyone else?? Am I the only one?? I can't be. But, teaching our kids the amount of work that goes into getting their favorite bowl full of cereal on the table is important and shows them that it's hard, but good, work!

My Anna is still really young, almost 5, so she is still a little too young for this course but it's the little things that will lead up to this. Carrying your plate to the sink, dusting, picking up your toys, making your bed, helping put away clothes. All those little things so they can get to do the bigger things. 

Parents nowadays are so stressed and I think it's because long gone are the days when the kids woke up and actually helped around the house. Now, it's more important that your 3 year old knows how to read a book than to clean off the table. I don't want to come off as rude or anything but, come on! Who cares if your child does 60 math worksheets a day? Going into their first job interview, they aren't going to be asked, "Did you start color recognition and number recognition worksheets at the age of 3? Because that's a deal breaker if you didn't!" Yes, all of that builds on each other and our children get smarter from that but what about raising our children to take care of what they are given? Take care of the family home. Take care of what belongs to them...And, we know that a monkey can be taught the ABC's. Einstein didn't learn from flash cards; he learned by exploring, by doing. I'm not talking about child labor here and waking my children up at 6:00 am to scrub the floors but I am also not saying that they are going to magically pick up these skills just by watching me give and do for them. I want to stop the stress and the mess and take the time to teach my girls to take care of what God has given to us.

Friday, April 3, 2015

What is Love?

Last night Blake and I went to dinner. By ourselves. It was an impromptu "date night" and was so nice to be able to sit and enjoy each others company while not having to grab 50 extra napkins, not having to stop mid-bite to take someone to the potty, and to be able to just talk. During the course of dinner we got to talking about Mother's Day and Father's Day gifts we wanted and it got me thinking about how we show love to one another and how the world says we should show love to one another.

When Blake and I were babes. {My birthday about 8 years ago}

With television shows like The Bachelor where women are showered with princess gowns, shopping sprees, romantic over-night getaways to exotic locations, jewelry and roses it's easy to get wrapped up in all that beautiful "romance" and think that is how men are supposed to show love. Commercials come on for jewelry and flowers, especially around the holidays, and the greeting card industry makes a fortune selling cards with romantic poems and promises of love everlasting for Valentine's Day and other holidays they made-up for a profit. We are bombarded by things and gifts all around us showing us the "right way" to show our love.
circa 2007

Before I go on, and Blake if you're reading this, I'd like to make it known that I am in no way opposed to lavish gifts, flowers, romantic cards and and over-night getaways! Ha! But, I started to wonder about what the Bible says about showing love in marriage. I thought back to the first couple in the Bible, Adam and Eve. God made them, and he makes us, for one another. He made us for relationships. He didn't make Eve and then require Adam to try and woo her. Granted, she was the only female on planet earth and he was well, a man. They saw each other and knew "it was good." But, if we think to other parts of the Bible where it speaks of a husband's role and a wife's role, there aren't any verses that say lavish gifts are required to show love.

I think back on my gifts from Blake and although this sounds super cheesy,
the time we spent together is the best gift I've ever gotten!

The most well known verse about love that is read at weddings and taught to us at a young age is 1 Corinthians 13  which is all about love.

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.Love never fails...

So, while it is easy to beat ourselves up and feel unloved and under appreciated when we aren't being showered with gifts...which happens fairly quickly for most after marriage. The courting and wooing is over and the doldrums of life set in and many times the only gifts that are given are to celebrate anniversaries once a year.  But, everyday are you showing love? Are you patient with your husband when you've asked him five times to change the air filter and he still hasn't done it? Were you kind when you asked him? For the fifth time? Were you envious of the guy's hunting weekend getaway he had a few months back? Are you thinking only of yourself and your needs? Are you quick to blow up at him when he's forgotten something you asked him to do? I admit; I am often times not a loving
 wife. I groan and mumble. I think about myself. What can I do to show love?

Love is: patient, kind, does not envy, does not boast, is not proud, does not dishonor others, not self-seeking, not easily angered, keeps no record of wrongs, does not delight in evil, rejoices with truth, always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. 
Love never fails.

Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her. Ephesians 5:25

Husbands, love your wives, and do not be harsh with them. Colossians 3:19

Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. Ephesians 5:22

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

The year so far...

Two months into 2015 and we've already blown our emergency fund +$7000! One of our cars needed a new transmission. There’s a leak in our roof that is right above my side of the bed. And, Blake has to take one summer school class so he can finish school by next year in May instead of waiting until December. Blake’s school part isn’t a bad thing but coming up with $1200 extra that we didn’t budget for isn’t so great. However, with all of that happening at least the percentage of anything else hitting us has significantly decreased!

Blake and I sat down in February right before submitting our taxes talking about what we were going to do with our refund. We knew we wanted to pay off some debt and then take the girls to Des Moines to visit Blake’s dad and grandmother. They have met Anna on our last trip but no one has met Macy so we thought that would be a trip worthy of taking. So, we e-filed and were eagerly awaiting our refund when Blake called and said the truck wouldn’t get out of some gear (insert car talk here) and it was probably the transmission (I knew that wasn’t good). When all was said and done we had $100 left of our tax refund.


Then, a few nights later I hop into bed and tuck myself into wet, cold sheets. I first thought, "Great! Macy had an accident!" She had recently learned how to take off her britches, had she tinkled on my bed?! But, in my huffing and puffing I threw my head back, looked up at the ceiling and there was the leak. We knew the roof hadn’t been done since the house was built and figured that’s going to be a call to the insurance and we have to pay our deductible.


A few more evenings pass and Blake comes home with awesome news. He will be able to graduate in a little more than a year if he takes one summer course. I was ecstatic!! I have been waiting for an “official” date forever! But, then he dropped the cha-ching bomb. I was so excited that I had forgotten about the whole money part of it all.

 Plan B, go!

Last summer we bought another car and since we just dropped a bunch of money into the truck we decided to sell the car we bought last summer to come up with the money for school, the insurance deductible, and pay off the debt we had planned to get rid of. No sense in having three gas guzzling suvs/trucks. We prayed and parked it on the corner of Blake’s mom’s house in a busy neighborhood and it was sold, cash in hand, in two days. Praise the Lord. 

Through all of this, like always, I fretted, worried, and stressed about it all. But, like always, I prayed and left it in God’s hands. He has never once failed us. In every single situation, every single need, the Lord provided. And, he provided the exact amount we needed in every single situation. This isn’t a message of prosperity theology but just like His Word tells us,

Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”  Matt. 6:34

I am so thankful that even though there have been stressful moments the first two months of this new year, I have a God who is always in control, who always provides and who is always there.
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