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?

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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.

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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

Encouragement, Family, My Story, Uncategorized

Excuse this work in progress

IMG_4780 copyIt started with a text from a friend letting me know she would be in town and wanted to grab lunch.  I glanced over at my 3 year old who is still just a week post op- tonsillectomy.  He is a little unpredictable generally, but recovery has left me not knowing moment to moment his mood.  It has been over a week since I did anything that resembled fun and lunch with adults sounded wonderful but I knew I couldn’t load up 5 kids and go.

I looked around at all the unfinished things at my house.  I have no kitchen faucet, the island is without a counter top, trim isn’t finished, light fixtures need to be installed, closets aren’t done…. The list is long.  But I really wanted this opportunity to visit.  I responded  “I can’t got out for lunch but you are welcome to come here!”  She responded with excitement to see the new place but I felt the need to disclose, “just so you know, it is a work in progress, excuse the mess and unfinished state!”

I couldn’t help but feel like that could be my life hashtag #excusethishotmessimaworkinprogress

Jesus is still working on me y’all!  I mean it!  Everyday I feel like I discover a ways I need to do better.  I can want to hide my face and run away at some of the mistakes I make.  I get embarrassed and insecure knowing I have so much to work on.  I can easily let my work in progress state keep me from things, knowing I am flawed and imperfect.

Today I made lunch for friends in my unfinished, work in progress, no where close to perfect house.  We laughed, dreamed, and enjoyed our few hours together. I could have missed out on this chance if I let the fact that we are still working on it bother me.

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The truth is, we are all a work in progress.  There isn’t one of us that will ever arrive at perfection and be able to say “I do not need to work on me any more!”  But how often do we let the work in progress state we are in keep us from things?  From my own experiences, I have found that perfection isn’t always inviting.  Sometimes it is down right intimidating.  When we allow ourselves to embrace the work in progress, knowing it won’t always be this way, we can lovingly invite others into our story, on our journey, and share our life!

Lets be brave enough to show our real, imperfect, work-in-progress lives to each other, so when Jesus makes new of what is a mess, others get to see that transformation too!  Can we all love and extend grace to one another so can be a community of brave women, sharing our journey?  Join me friends!

Camper Living, Family, home sweet home, My Story, Uncategorized

What’s with Sundays?

This morning I woke up positive that today was going to be good.  The past 3 or 4 Sunday’s have just not been fabulous so I went to bed feeling a little bit dreadful but woke up feeling great! I was able to drink my entire cup of coffee while it was hot, got myself and the kids all ready for church- on time, and was about ready to head out the door when it started.  “those shoes are too tight!”  I know they are not.  I just bought them a few days ago and they fit great.  but I couldn’t convince her.  So I quickly decided it wasn’t worth the fight.  I offered a different pair of shoes- tears and crying…… “I want to wear those!”  Wait, what?  The ones you just screamed were too tight?  The tears and crying continued and I threw my hands up, taking both pairs of shoes and the child to the car where everyone else was already waiting.

Phew!  We are still on time! I silently celebrated as I put the car in reverse.  It sounded funny as I backed up, but our driveway is gravel so I put it in drive and started out, only to quickly realize that funny sound was my wheel grinding into the gravel.  Flat tire.  I put the car in park and jump out as I call my husband- who is at work (ask any firefighters wife, it all happens on their shift!) I have never changed a tire.  I go back and forth about how i feel about it.  On one hand I don’t want to be the damsel in distress calling for help over a flat.  On the other hand I don’t really feel like I have missed out on life by never changing a flat tire.  But suddenly, I had this deep desire to take care of it myself.  As Joel insisted he would come change it, I insisted I could handle it.

My oldest child and I got the tire out and started the process.  I watched a quick youtube video and up the car went.  I worked on the lug nuts and I got all but one off.  The last one was not wanting to come off.  As I was about ready to give up, our good friend showed up to help!  I didn’t know it, but Joel had already called him and asked if he could stop by since he was just a few minutes away.  He helped us finish changing the tire and off we went to church, 30 minutes late!

I get there and realize Harvey fell asleep.  A 3 year old with a 20 minute nap is no good.  I took a very cranky boy in the church.  Melt down. Nothing was right.  He was just mad.  I finally got him to stay in his class just in time to hear the sermon.  As I sat down I realized that in the madness Harvey had wiped his glazed donut all over my black shirt- oh well, I was just glad to be hearing the sermon!  The final song was about to wrap up when someone taps my shoulder “Harvey pooped in his pants” WHY?  Harvey….. Why?  He does so good, until he doesn’t.  Any way, potty training is stupid. the end.

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If we go back to when I got in the van this morning, there was a smell.  I addressed it- told the husband what I thought it was and he said to come by after church and we would take the seats out and find the source.  So that is what we did.  He pulled the seats out, vacuumed and found nothing.  I got in with some cleaner to really detail it since the seats were out.  I had already told him I was sure I knew what the smell was, but as I cleaned, it was confirmed.  I found mouse poop.  IN MY VAN.  Are you kidding me?  Where have we moved?  We have lived a lot of places and I have never in my life had so many mouse issues.  Is moving an option? I mean before we buy land again can I get a mouse survey?

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So, after taking off panels, finding a LIVE baby mouse IN MY VAN, taking off my wheel, 3 hours of searching, the dead mouse is still in there somewhere.  Why?  I mean seriously?  Who has mice living in the panel in their car?  Of course, I do!  UGH!  I don’t even know what to say.  My little kids loved the baby mouse and wanted to bring it home as a pet.  They squealed with excitement and kept saying “mommy its so cute!”  As I die inside just a little.  At what point will they both loose the “its so cute” attitude and turn into “oh my gosh there is a LIVE mouse in my car”?

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Just a few short weeks ago, I had a similar Sunday with all kinds of crazy things.  Honestly, that Sunday had a Harvey poop incident, a dead mouse (in the camper), and a flooding situation.  The Sunday’s in between have been crazy too.  I use to love Sundays.  Jesus, friends, family, food….. But now it seems like Sundays are more like poop, mice, and madness…..

Friends, I don’t know if my life is just that crazy, or maybe It is just that I don’t know the right people and others have just as many crazy things happen,  But here is my plea- if your life is full of crazy “incidents” that when you tell others they all look at you crazy and laugh, asking why weird things are always happening to you, please raise your hand, leave a comment, something!  We can start some sort of support group.  I keep wondering if maybe God is like “Hello, Mrs. Meinardus, I am obviously giving you really good material to work with!  Write it down, make lots of money with these crazy stories!” Or maybe He just likes to laugh!  If it wasn’t my life, I would totally be laughing!