Encouragement, Family, My Story, Uncategorized

Just give me the field

DSC_5094bwA few weeks ago I bought a cheap $3 lavender seed kit from the amazing everything use to be a dollar bin at Target.  Y’all I have bought these kits before and let my kids mess with them- total hands off project.  Nothing ever happens for us.  More than likely it is because we don’t actually water them or give them sunlight.  But I LOVE lavender so I was determined to make this one the exception to the rule.

I added water to the soil and planted the seeds per instructions.  Well kind of, I added all the seeds in the package instead of the 4-6 it suggested.  Rebel, I know.  Any way, I stuck it on the table where it would get sunlight and then actually watered it daily.  My kids helped remind me when the plant was dry and they would water it too.

“MOM, MOM, MOM!!!  This is growing” my kids were yelling in excitement.  Something growing that we planted- it wasn’t normal.  I enthusiastically said “I see!” as I tried to get as excited as they were.  But reality- I just want a lavender field.  Those sprouts are just the beginning but I want the finished product.  I know that the little progress I see, means we have a long way to go.

I watched as each of my kids looked at the tiny little pot with the tiny little sprouts and how they all were filled with such excitement and expectation.  They were excited and expecting of what was to come.

When God is growing us we need to be reminded that the growth is often slow.  It starts under the soil where we don’t actually see the growth.  Then the sprouts come up.  Those sprouts still need water and light.  They need patience and consistency.  Eventually we will have a lavender field that we get to harvest but even then, that field will always need tending.

DSC_5106ccI want to be like my kids watching those sprouts when God is growing me.  I want to be excited and expectant.  I want to marvel at the growth, no matter how small.  I want to keep watering the soil even when I don’t see the growth.  I tend to just want the lavender field.  I want to skip the waiting, the growing, the pruning.  I just want the pretty purple, fragrant field that I can harvest and enjoy.  But that is not reality.

God does His best work in the growing process.  I can get really discouraged when I know I am working but see very little progress.  But progress is progress, no matter how small.  Lets be excited when we see little sprouts of progress in our lives!  Celebrate them, get excited!  If you see a little sprout in your friend, celebrate with her!  Today I just want to encourage you to see the sprouts, thank God for how he is working beneath the soil, and be overjoyed at the progress!

 

Encouragement, Family, My Story, Uncategorized

Lets just adventure!

DSC_5009bw“Put those pillows back on the couch!!!”  I said in a very frustrated tone.  “but momma!!!! I need them to stay safe from the hot lava!” he cried back at me.  His face was saddened as he started to pick up the pillows.  I watched his disappointment and something changed for me, “never mind, leave the pillows, I don’t want you to step in hot lava!”

I like order.  I love a tidy house.  Being organized makes me incredibly happy.  Messes, disfunction, chaos, all cause me to be frustrated and sometimes can make me feel a little crazy.  But today I decided it wasn’t a big deal that my throw pillows were on the floor.  I can wash the covers if they get dirty.  I let the kids climb all over the couches, even though we normally say “stop climbing all over the furniture”.

adventureForcing him to put up the pillows was a big deal to him and I am glad I didn’t make him.  I watched as his imagination soared.  He invited his sisters on his adventure and I sat back and watched them laugh, then squeal when danger approached, and then celebrate when they made it to safety.  The smile on my face as I watched them could have never come from the couches being made up right with pillows perfectly placed.

I started to wonder how often I miss everyday joys because of some expectation I have set.  Obviously my kids need rules and boundaries and they need to obey me, but they also need room to let their imaginations take them to places fun and exciting.  I recently listened to a podcast on parenting with Bob Goff.  He said something along these lines:  Kids need less punishment and more adventure.  When I heard it, I wasn’t really sure what he meant.  But today, I think I get it.  I could get on to Harvey for using my pillows in the floor or I could let him go on an adventure!  There are times that this won’t work but I am confident I could relax a little bit more and allow more adventures!

DSC_4973bwMaybe you are the mom like me who likes things tidy, clean, organized, and the thought of letting your kids make messes stresses you out- this is for you momma!  I want to encourage you to find ways to relax and let your kids imagination and creativity run wild.  I haven’t mastered this but I am trying to find ways to do this without going crazy.  One thing I do is give boundaries with messy things.  Like letting them play play dough or do watercolors but they know to keep it on the placemat (this isn’t perfect and it is still messy but not as bad)  I try to ignore the mess until they are finished and then we just clean it up.  Also, we bought Ikea slipcover couches and that has been amazing!  If dirty feet or hands make a mess on the couch, I don’t even worry about it because I know I can wash it!   I am no where close to being good at this.  I also want to say that my house is rarely clean and organized, even though that is what I prefer.

If you are a mom who is really good at adventure and letting your kids run with creativity I would love your feedback on ways to do this!  We all have strengths and we should share and learn from each other!

Encouragement, Family, My Story, Uncategorized

Rise Up and Rebuild

rebuildblogRebuild.  I kind of feel like that word is coming to me over and over again.  I feel like God is continually whispering rebuild to me in so many areas of my life.  Rebuilding something almost seems daunting- it means taking something that already is and then making it new, which means work has already been done.  The Dictionary lists several meanings.  Some of the words used to describe rebuild are: repair, dismantle, reassemble, replace, restrengthen, reinforce, revise, reshape, reorganize.

I was studying in Nehemiah and the words “let us rise up and rebuild” in chapter 2, verse 18, stood out to me.  (If you aren’t familiar with Nehemiah, he hears about the condition of Jerusalem and he is heartbroken.  He finds out the walls are in rubble.  He decides to go and rebuild the city wall and the gates.  I would encourage you to read Nehemiah if you haven’t!)  Nehemiah sets out on a journey to rebuild what is broken.  He starts this quest with a heart that longs to see his heritage whole again and he completely trusts God with the journey and the outcome.  He just goes as a willing vessel.

Nehemiah arrives to find discouraged people and lots of opposition.  I think it would be so easy to just turn around and give up.  The place is a mess.  The people are a mess.  But Nehemiah tells his plans and encourages the people.  He relies on God the entire time, trusting Him.  When opposition comes, he ignores it and keeps going.  He finds a way to combat any negative circumstance.

I started thinking about this journey we are on as parents.  Everyday I feel like I struggle to keep going.  To keep fighting for the life I want for my kids.  It is exhausting.  Everyday there is something new saying “You can’t do this! This is just too hard!”  The truth is there are pains, difficulties, obstacles, heartache, you name it, we do and will face it!  If I want to raise kids who are strong in faith, trusting in God, who love others well, are confident in themselves and their ability, emotionally healthy, then I can’t quit.  I can’t stop.  No giving up.

There are so many things our kids are facing today that we didn’t face as children.  With the internet, social media, bullying, and pressures to “keep up” with the world, we have our work cut out for us to raise kids who are set apart in this world.  The more I learn about what our youth today are faced with daily,  the more it almost feels like the mold has been made.  I hear people say things like “this is just the way it is now”  and I know that it is really easy to believe that lie but it is just not true!  I do think it feels harder to do the work now to set boundaries that don’t look like everyone else’s, but I think in the long run, doing the hard work now is worth it!

After reading Nehemiah, here is what I learned and I want to remember daily in my journey:

  1. Rebuilding the wall didn’t happen in a day.  They weren’t able to accomplish their task in a day and I can’t either.  It takes persistence, consistency, and time to raise healthy kids.
  2. They faced difficulties.  They were constantly facing opposition throughout rebuilding and when we are trying to raise kids who look different than the world, we will face it too- so will our kids.  We will face trials on this journey.
  3. They were watchful and ready for the enemy.  They worked with a weapon in one hand and a tool in the other.  They were always watching for an attack and they were ready to defend, all while working at the task at hand.  The devil is always ready to distract us so we have to be watchful and ready.  When we are doing God’s work, the enemy will do what he can to keep us from it.
  4. The work is hard.  It isn’t easy to be set apart from this world.  We have to commit to do the hard work and keep going even when it isn’t easy.
  5. They were successful because they came together for God’s purpose.  We need to remember that as husbands & wives, moms & dads, we have power to come together for HIS purpose.  As a community we have the power to work together for HIS purpose.  As a church we have the power to come together for HIS purpose.  For our families, our legacy.
  6. They worked enthusiastically.  They found a way to be joyful and work with enthusiasm even though the work wasn’t easy and they constantly faced resistance.  When we keep our goal in mind, we can find joy in the hard things!
  7. They knew they were fighting for their families.  When we remember what is at stake- our kids, our grandkids, our great grandkids……. We are fighting this fight for our families!
  8. They told the opposition to hush!  They didn’t let distractions or temptations take them away from work.  They declared God’s goodness and kept working!  They were not about to let anything keep them from doing the work to rebuild.

Through studying Nehemiah, I feel so encouraged to rebuild a new mold for my kids, for my family.  To crush the pressures this world gives and replace them with God’s promises.  To commit to work together everyday with my husband to fight the enemy’s attacks and reinforce God’s goodness.   To revise the way I look at things.  Grasp the fact I  have a chance to reshape my kids future.  We can repair what is broken.  We have to remember it isn’t going to be easy, but investing in this is worth it.  Friends, we have the chance to say no to the lie that “this is just the way it is” and decide fight for something different!

 

Encouragement, Family, My Story, Uncategorized

Super Woman

 

superwoman“I just don’t know how you do it!”  That is a common phrase I hear.  Whether they are talking about the fact that I lived in a camper with 6 other people while we built our house, the fact that we homeschool with 5 kids, or how I manage day to day life with all we juggle.  I have been told I am superwoman or super mom but the reality is, I am just doing what I can with whatever the day brings!

I have friends in all stages of life.  Friends who aren’t married yet, some that are just married, some have been married for 50 years.  Friends without kids, friends just starting families, then some with 9 kids.  I have friends who work full time and some who stay at home.  I have friends who are retired and enjoying that season of life.  At any given time I can have a conversation with any of them and think “oh wow, I don’t know how you do/did that”.

I was talking with a friend about some things that are coming up in our life and she said “Bless you girl!  You are my superhero, I don’t know how you do it!”  But I know all that she has going on in her life currently and a lot of what she has dealt with in the past and I immediately thought “no way, YOU are the superhero!”  But then I thought- wait, we are all superhero’s in our own way!

To the woman battling with chronic illness day in and day out- YOU are super woman!

To the working mom who juggles all the stresses at work and at home- YOU are super woman!

To the stay at home mom who is knee deep in little ones- YOU are super woman!

To the single mom doing it alone- YOU are super woman!

To the mom of a special needs child- YOU are super woman!

To the all the women out there doing your best with what you have been given- YOU are a super woman!

I juggle a lot and I bet you do too.  What I am juggling may look different than what you are in the middle of.  The things I find difficult in my life may be easy for you or maybe not even something you deal with.  There are things on your plate that aren’t on mine.

We have to be careful not to let comparison trip us up.  When you see another woman who deserves a cape, go ahead and give her one but remember you don’t have to take yours off.  You have earned it sister!  We are all just doing what we can with what we are given each day.   Encourage each other, give high fives and hugs, and then remember that YOU deserve the same because YOU are a super woman too!

Encouragement, Family, My Story, Uncategorized

Can I hit pause on life?

hitpause

On a regular basis I have so many things going on in my mind that sometimes I just want to run away.  Yes, I mean it.  I literally want to run away.  BUT I don’t mean I want to get away from my life and never come back.  What I mean is, I get to the point where it feels like as long as I am smack dab in the middle of the chaos, there is no way I will ever be able to find my way out unless I am not right here.

I just want to hit the pause button on life, figure out all the things that are swarming around in my brain, then jump right back in, hit play and go on.  Unfortunately I haven’t figured out how to do that just yet.  I want to be the healthiest mom, wife and friend and it feels like if I could pause life for a while, I could figure out all the things!

In December I did what a lot of us do.  I reflected on the past year….thought towards the one to come.  I wanted to find a word for 2018 and decided mine would be focus.  I want to pay attention to where my focus is going.  What is getting my time and attention?

As I thought about the things I knew I wanted to place focus on, I realized I needed to make some changes in order to accomplish that.  One of those things was to take a break from social media.  I knew that it was distracting me from things I wanted and needed to focus on.  I wasn’t sure how long my break would last but I decided to start with 2 weeks.  Here I am, 6 weeks later and I have slowly gotten back on social media but not really posting or spending much time on it.

My time away was so very good for me.  I learned a lot about myself and was able to understand what I needed to see more clearly.  I spent more time in prayer and seeking God in my daily life.  I was able to hear from Him more when I wasn’t so distracted.  I took time to read books (ok I don’t ever read books, I listen to them) I had been wanting to read and then a few kind of landed in my lap that I feel God purposefully placed there.  I truly feel like the past 6 weeks have been a journey of discovery and newness.

As I move forward, I am not 100% sure what my relationship with social media looks like.  I know I don’t ever want to be back in the habit of checking it a million times a day- every time I am bored or need interaction.  I know that without seeing what is going on in so many peoples lives, I was able to focus on those closest to me and I have had more space in my mind to reach out to people I felt God had laid on my heart to reach to.  I found myself asking people what was going on in their life because I had no clue and that was a good feeling.  To be able to have real conversations to hear the hearts of those around me, rather than just see a post from them and move on.  Social Media allows us to communicate with the masses, making it seem less important to communicate in real life.

I truly love to share my life, especially pictures.  It makes me happy.  Before social media was big, I loved breaking out the scrap books and photo albums when people came to our house.  I have always enjoyed sharing pictures.  I also have a heart for encouraging others by sharing my story and life, all that God is doing now and has done in the past.  That is one reason social media is so great because I can share with so many people at one time.  I just don’t ever want social media to replace real connection.

If you are like me and find yourself needing a recharge, refuel, refocus, or whatever you want to label it, think about taking a break from whatever distracts you most.  We don’t get to hit pause in real life and if we aren’t careful we can miss so many of the amazing things all around us because we are too distracted with things that aren’t important.  This break has been the most refreshing, eye opening time for me and I am excited to continue to share more of what I have discovered over these last 6 weeks!

 

Encouragement, Family, home sweet home, Uncategorized

Our Christmas Count Down

DSC_9463ccI love the Christmas season!  The smells of cinnamon and cedar, the decorated homes so warm and inviting.  I love how the spirit of giving comes out and is evident everywhere.  It is such a beautiful time where people come together and reflect on the goodness of the season.  But there is also so much commercialism, busyness, and crazy expectations that I can get caught up in too.

A few years ago I decided I wanted to find a way to be intentional about the things that mattered most to our family.  I found that if we weren’t intentional it was easy to get caught up in being far too busy to enjoy things and spend way too much money buying things we don’t need.  I searched Pinterest for ideas and found so many great ones but nothing exactly like what I wanted, (it may be out there but I didn’t find it then!) so I created something for my family!

Before I dive into the details, I want to say this- I created this for my family and I am sharing it because it has been a blessing for us.  What works for us may not work of you, so if you read this and have any kind of guilt about what you are not doing, just stop!  I have done that to myself so many times and it is not worth it.  You loose too much feeling guilty and miss out on all the goodness that is right in front of you.  And if you read to the end, you will see we don’t do this perfectly!

When we talked about what was most important to us in the Christmas season we decided it was Jesus, family, & giving.  Each day there is something in our envelopes that reflect those things.

DSC_9413ccInside each envelope there is a piece to the Christmas story.  We read it, reflect on it and discuss what it means.  I love hearing what my kids have to say about it and reading it in sections really helps us focus on each part! I found my free printable Christmas story here.

The second part of this, is focusing on family time.  Each day we have a family fun activity.  These are things we enjoy doing together.  They range, anything from watching Christmas movies to looking at Christmas lights, minute to win it games, to decorating my Poppy’s Christmas tree for him.

And last but not least, we have an act of kindness each day.  Some of these things don’t require us leaving the house, like mailing a hug to someone or writing letters to everyone inside our home telling them what they mean to us.  These acts of kindness range in price too.  Some of the things we do are take hot drinks to people working outside, leave an extra big tip, donate blankets, and shop for the angel tree.

DSC_9446cc

When I plan our December and the count down, I look at all I know we have going on and I try to plan each days activities on that.  I know we will go out to eat after church, so I plan to leave a big tip on a Sunday.  Our church does a gingerbread house competition so I made sure that I made that our family fun activity that day.  Although when I plan it I don’t know everything that will come up so we are flexible  with it.

Our kids get so excited to open the envelope and see what we are doing that day.  They love the surprise!

We go into this knowing we will not fulfill each act of kindness and every family activity.  We set the expectations for this up front, letting the kids know that we will not be perfect in this.  Some days we end up doubling up on acts of kindness because we missed the day before and sometimes we just don’t do it at all.  The last thing I want to do is add unneeded stress to a busy season, so we do our best and don’t worry too much if we miss it.

I know that this is not for everyone but if you want to know more, feel free to ask!  This is something you can modify to meet your families needs/desires/schedules.

Let the count down begin- 24 days until CHRISTMAS!  We are excited to celebrate the birth of Jesus! Merry Christmas!

Celebrate Recovery, Encouragement, Family, My Story, Uncategorized

Suicide still hurts

dadToday is an anniversary I wish I didn’t have to remember.  It has been 3 years since I walked up to my dads door, waited for him to answer, but he never did.  3 years since my sweet husband bravely walked inside to find him.  3 years since he walked outside to tell me the heartbreaking news.  “He’s gone.  He took his life.”

It is still crushing to even think about it all.  To remember the pain of the day and wonder what happened.  Suicide leaves questions that will never be answered.  I can’t wrap my mind around it.  I am someone who always looks for answers.  I want to understand everything.  But this one, no matter how much information I seek, I will never fully understand it.

Suicide leaves behind so much.  It leaves pain and what if’s for all of those left here.  It leaves grief and tears.  Sometimes it leaves anger, hurt, or frustration.  3 years later, and although I have done so much healing, there is still healing to be done.  I don’t get anxiety when I drive past the community where he lived any more.  I don’t cry about my dads death every day.  But there are days that the grief just comes out of no where.  Days where I am just sad he isn’t here.

This topic is still something that not everyone is comfortable talking about, but it is one we need to talk about.  I have learned of 2 suicides this week and even though I din’t know either person, I have mourned over them.  My heart is broken for them.  For the pain they were in.  For the hurt they felt.  For the fight they fought.  My heart hurst for the their friends and family as they wrestle with all of the emotions that come with suicide.  My prayers for them are pleas with God to hold them together as they process.

Friends, our country needs support, encouragement and love for those who are hurting.  Depression is real.  Emotional pain is real.  Lets search our hearts and find compassion to see others.  To really see them.  We are all human and we all struggle!  If your struggles don’t look like someone else’s, thank God, then ask Him to help guide you as you reach out to those in your life who you know are hurting.

Be a friend.  Ask questions.  Offer your shoulder to cry on.  Don’t judge.  Just love.

And if you need a friend, let me know.  If you are looking for community to love you through your pain, Celebrate Recovery is the most incredible place to find people who truly love and accept folks just as they are!  I would love to help connect you!

1-800-273-8255 is the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.  Call them if you need them.

Other posts on this topic:

My Truths about Suicide & Depression

When God Fulfills His Promises