Thursday, December 30, 2010

Satisfied with God

Lysa TerKeurst of Proverbs 31 Ministries has written Made to Crave: Satisfying your Deepest Desire with God, Not Food. You can read about it here or go to her blog

With God speaking to my heart this year on Psalm 63:5 "You satisfy me more than the richest feast. I will praise you with songs of joy.", this book sounds like it will speak straight to my heart.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

In over my head

"When you're in over your head, I'll be there with you. When you're in rough waters, you will not go down. When you're between a rock and a hard place, it won't be a dead end -- Because I am God, your personal God." (Isaiah 43:2-3a THE MESSAGE)

Thursday, December 23, 2010

My Dad and Christmas

I really have a difficult time separating my dad and Christmas. He loved Christmastime. It was truly the time of year he designated for family and he made the most of it. While many will not understand most of these memories, this poem that my mom wrote brought me to tears.

Memories of Father

In our home it seemed "father" made Christmas!
He purchased our huge Christmas tree.
Our decorations went up once his turkey went down!
Holiday videos would take two months to see!

Gifts were given for his Christmas Village.
Three Brittanys were gifts on his part.
He was Santa with candy for grandkids
Cedar Point and "The Farm" showed his heart.

Shiny garland he changed to look natural.
Chi-Chis and Shakeys made eating-out great!
But putting cash into new Christmas wallets?
Now... that was more than "Santa" could take!

He made our wooden stable so the grandkids
Could use the manger to do the Christmas play.
And "Come On Ring Those Bells" was the music
We'd hear first thing on Christmas Day.

Our dad knew the "True Father" of Christmas.
He trusted God's One and Only Son
As Forgiver, Comforter, Listener, Friend
Then his walk through this valley was done.

It's God our Father who truly made Christmas.
He made heaven and earth and each One.
God sent forgiveness and love in a manger
And one day... again, He will come!

"Wherefore, Comfort one another with these words..."

We enjoy reminiscing about how "Santa" gave us wallets one Christmas and mom came around telling each of us that we would find cash in the wallets and we were not able to keep the cash. Dad was about to have a heart attack about the amount of money spent by "Santa" that Christmas and he didn’t even know about the cash that was put in the wallets.

While I struggle with separating dad from Christmas, I truly treasure how special he made the holiday. After 3 years, I still miss my dad so much that my heart twists. And yet, I know there is so much more to live for. Hoping you have a very Merry Christmas!

Sunday, December 19, 2010

A Social Network Christmas

This was played at church this morning. I loved the way it was told in today's Facebook fashion. The Christmas story has really grabbed a hold of my heart this year once again. Mainly, the way Mary and Joseph were judged and shunned and the fact that if I were there in that day, I probably would have been in the group judging and shunning them. Which is sad. God does not always work the way we believe he should. As my Pastor stated this morning, "The God whose mind and hands created the earth came to earth with the mind and hands of a human baby." Truly amazing. And He did it out of His love for you and me. Take a minute to hear the Christmas story in a new way.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Be Encouraged

This past weekend, we had the opportunity to view the newest of the Narnia movies, The Voyage of the Dawn Treader. While there was much to enjoy about the movie, one part of the storyline, in particular, stood out to me. Lucy desires to be beautiful. As most females in the human race, Lucy does not see herself for who she is but longs to be someone else. I can totally relate to this feeling. I am always wishing and hoping for something. I cannot tell you the amount of times I look at someone else’s life and feel like less than my best because I find myself desiring part of their life. Whether it is something about their appearance I wish I could change about my own or I dream about having the talents God has given them or even find myself coveting one of the characteristics they portray, I find myself not so content with who I am.

When it comes to our self-worth, I think all women could use a bit of encouragement. The truth is that we all have our secret pains and feelings of loneliness and unacceptance. We all have those moments where we feel lost and alone in this great big world and our hearts cry out for just one friend who can make us feel important and desired and needed.

We all know Christmas is Jesus’ birthday. Christmas is our constant reminder that we always have at least one person who is on our side. It’s a good reminder that Christ came into the world for me. Christ came into the world for you. The whole reason for Christmas was God’s love for us.

But do you really have any idea just how often God thinks about you? And not just thinks about you but loves you and cares for you, knows you and desires you? I found over 60 verses that shout our value in God. This Christmas, my desire is that you will know your worth to God. Every time you hear the Christmas story of how God came to earth as a baby, remember that He did that for you.

Another phrase from the Narnia movie was "extraordinary things happen to extraordinary people". You are extraordinary to God.

by Tristi N. Carlson 12/11/2010

God knew all about you
before you were even born
It was in His very image
that you were molded and formed

Wonderfully complex you were knit
and woven together with His care
And on your very head he knows
the number of each and every little hair

He loved you first; He wants you;
you are chosen precious in His sight
You are His masterpiece; His heir;
His dear child in whom He delights

He knows the secrets of your heart
Has good plans for you and sets you apart

He knows your every thought
and you bring Him great pleasure still
God bought you with a price at Calvary;
He sees you as valuable

United with Christ we’ve been made righteous;
God places His hand of blessing on your head
We’ve been set free; made right with God;
when for our benefit Christ was raised from the dead

You are now a new creation;
no longer slave but friend
God’s love for you is amazing;
inseparable and without end

In Christ, you’ve been made pure and holy;
blameless and complete
He’s given you a spirit of power and love
to help you live without defeat

You were adopted into His family
and He made your heart His home
You are a citizen of His kingdom
and He’ll never leave you alone

As a bridegroom rejoices over His bride
your God rejoices over you
You are God’s holy temple; His residence;
He is with you in all that you do

God understands you fully;
He offers unfailing love and faithfulness
He hears your every little sigh
and wants to give you comfort, peace and rest

When life gets overwhelming,
remember Christ pleads for us at God’s right hand
Be encouraged in knowing God’s thoughts about you
outnumber all the grains of sand

(Psalm 139:17; Psalm 139:1-6; Psalm 139:13-16; Psalm 147:11; Romans 5:19; Romans 6:6-7, 14, 22; Romans 8:2; Romans 8:16; Romans 8:17; Romans 8:31,34-35, 38-39; Romans 8:37; 1 Corinthians 1:2,30; 1 Corinthians 3:16-17; 1 Corinthians 6:19-20; Psalm 33:15; 2 Corinthians 1:22; Psalm 44:21; 2 Corinthians 5:17; Galatians 3:26; Galatians 4:6-7; Ephesians 1:11; Galatians 5:1; Ephesians 1:4; Ephesians 1:5; Ephesians 2:10; Ephesians 2:19; Philippians 1:27; Philippians 3:20; Ephesians 2:21; Ephesians 3:17; Isaiah 46:3-4; Isaiah 51:12; Ephesians 5:1; Colossians 1:22; Colossians 2:14; 2 Timothy 1:7; 1 Peter 2:10; 1 John 3:1; 1 John 5:1; 1 John 5:4; John 15:15; John 15:12-13; Isaiah 62:5; Zephaniah 3:17; Jeremiah 1:5; Psalm 22:9-10; Jeremiah 29:11; Genesis 1:27; Matthew 6:25-27; Matthew 12:9-12; Luke 12:6-7; Matthew 6:28-30; Luke 12:22-28; Proverbs 3:12; Matthew 10:29-31; Matthew 11:28-30; John 14:27-28; Psalm 38:9; John 3:16-17; John 10:11; John 10:14, 27-28; Psalm 117:2; John 14:1-4; John 15:16; Colossians 2:10)

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

11 days until Christmas

11 day left until Christmas and I’m not even looking at Christmas yet. I’m caught up in Christmas plays, cookie exchanges, and play dates. I still have shopping to do, birthday parties to attend and a house to clean. I was doing good for a while just being and enjoying this season until this week. This week has left me feeling stress and that is not the way Christmas is supposed to be. I remember this feeling last year and the year before that and the year before that. I wrote this last year for the cookie exchange I hosted and it’s a good reminder for me again today.


The decorations need to go up
There are presents still to buy
More gifts are waiting to be wrapped
And the bows each need to be tied
Pictures need to be taken
Letters wait for me to share
Envelopes still need to be addressed
And Jesus asks me to fit Him in somewhere

The Christmas story should be read
The advent wreath is lit
The Christmas play we must attend
And the school party I’ll attempt to fit
Thank you gifts for teachers
Christmas classics we long to see
Menus wait to be planned
Emotions of Christmases past grab me

There are church services to attend
Extended family I wish to see
Parties need coordinating
I hear of a family who is in need
My mind continues to mull over my list
Another good cause begs me to share
Cookies are in need of baking
And Jesus asks me to fit Him in somewhere

Weekly responsibilities still beckon
Work, school, homework and such
Math facts, reading, stories to write
There’s just so very much
The kids all still need bathing
Their little bellies still need to be fed
There are diapers that are in need of changing
And that Christmas story still needs to be read
The house is in need of a vacuum
Dishes mount up and I begin not to care
Laundry is still not done
And Jesus asks me to fit Him in somewhere

The dog is asking to go out
The ground has a coating of snow
My children will be begging to play
In the yard they will want to go
My husband’s eyes have that twinkle
I need to fit in some time with my friends
Exercise is in the back of my mind
Will these demands on me never end?

I should probably wash the windows
And the carpet, hallway, and kitchen floor
I still need to wrap presents and bake cookies
And yet everyone is asking me for more
People are pulling from every which way
Responsibilities are too much to bear
I go to bed praying, I can’t do it alone
And Jesus asks me to fit Him in somewhere

I wake up in the morning to the cry of my child
And thank God when she goes back to sleep
I remember I can’t get through the day without Jesus
I open my Bible with the prayer journal I keep

The Book of Luke tells me of the way
Christ Jesus came to earth
My heart is filled as I read the story
Of the angels announcing our Savior’s birth
The inn was too full for the gift
that came to Bethlehem that night
There was hustle and bustle from the census
As the shepherds out in the fields were filled with holy fright
I wonder if I would have missed it
if I were there back then
Would I have been too concerned with responsibilities
Or watching and waiting as the shepherds had been?

I need to be intentional
if I’m going to include Jesus in my day
I need to remember that Christmas is Jesus
And take the time to spend listening to Him and pray
Many of these things on my task list are a good and necessary part
It’s just none of them do quite as much
as hiding God’s Word deep inside my heart

I must not forget about Jesus
as I go from here to there
I must remember it’s all about Jesus
and find ways to fit Him in everywhere.

- Tristi Nikelle Carlson

Friday, December 10, 2010

Nativity Craft

I don't get too excited about the projects that come home from school. I like to see it rarely finds a permanent place in our home. Jaycie's preschool did a craft that I am ecstatic about! This nativity scene will be something I look forward to pulling out each year. I think it will be our 4th nativity. I love having nativities for the girls to play with. I'm just hoping Andelise doesn't destroy it before we pack it away for the year!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Free to Be

I had just been talking to God about my dislike of myself. I asked God to help me view myself through His eyes instead of my own. I want to stop beating myself up over every little imperfection; every little stain that I see. Instead, I want to see myself through the truth God shouts about me. This was a great reminder that God desires to set me free from the bondage I create for myself. I am free to be myself despite my fears of other’s opinions. Christ’s opinion is what matters and he nailed it on the cross for all to see.

That morning, I read this at (In)courage. Great insight!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Hearts at Home 2011

Registration is now open for the Hearts at Home National Conference in Normal, Illinois the weekend of March 11-12, 2011! Better yet, Jill Savage is giving away free conference registrations on her blog!! Check out the new Hearts at Home website here. My life is more purposeful and intentional because of the ministry of Hearts at Home and Jill Savage. I am most definitely going to The National Conference. If I don't win, it would be fun if someone I knew did!

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Snow, snow, snow, snow, snow

The first snowfall of the season had my girls bouncing down the stairs, jumping up and down at the window asking at first light to get bundled up, go outside, and play.

Our kids with Pup (who loves playing in the snow just as much as they do).

Jaycie made snow angels.

Andelise found a new treat.

Nikelle wanted to build a snowman. (I said Ande found a new treat, right?)

All three wanted hot chocolate with marshmallows.

And although the snow fort Nikelle started with her daddy never did get completed...

the walls were still standing last night (and while the wall is closer to the ground this morning, it still stands).

I am so thankful to God that the first snowfall came on a Saturday when Rod was home and we could really get out and enjoy it!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

That's not Fair!

Another great post over at Gitzen Girl today inspired by Matthew 20. Great insight about how we think life is fair until we start playing the comparison game.

I really needed this today as I'm asking God to transform me. She finishes with "Faith isn't a feeling. It's believing despite our feelings. And I do." So very true. Thanks for the reminder!

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Thankful Tidbits: Support System 11-30

"You are only as good as the people you surround yourself with." The quote goes something like that, doesn't it? I'm thankful to have a marriage that has lasted over 14 years so far. I am thankful to have three beautiful children who people don't mind being around. I'm thankful for my God, my family, my church and my friends.

I used to think I knew what it took to have a good marriage. Then I got married. I used to think I knew how to be the best parent. Until I had kids. I always know how to do things better than everyone else until I start walking down that path. The truth is, I don't know how to do anything. The wonderful ideas I come up with more often than not originate someplace else. I am thankful for my support system. Without God, family, friends and community, I would be lost.

It is because I always have someone walking with me that I have so much to be thankful for.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Thankful Tidbits: 11-29

It is so easy to get into the comparison game. Too often, I find myself determining my happiness based off of a changing factor (whehter or not the scale goes down; what kind of total is in the bank account; how many friends I've heard from in the day).

Today I am thankful that true joy comes from a constant source that is unchanging. Happiness and joy are different and while my circumstances may determine my happiness, I can experience joy in all circumstances.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Thankful Tidbits 11-28

I escaped into a novel today. I absolutely love to read. It can drown out the worries of the world. I feel like I'm right there in the middle of the story experiencing life with the characters. A good author can create a whole new world. I really enjoy getting lost in a good book.

Right now, I'm engrossed in the Hallmark Hall of Fame movie, "A November Christmas". There's something about a good movie that leaves me longing to be there in the moment. I'm left counting my blessings with this one.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Thankful Tidbits: 60 years - 11-27

Can you imagine yourself married for 60 years? Today, my family celebrated 60 years of marriage for my maternal grandparents. My grandparents love God and love each other. My grandpa told me as I was leaving tonight that the key to a long marriage is to pray for your marriage. I believe him.

We watched a video today of their 50th anniversary. My dad and niece did a skit back then dressed up as my Grandma & Grandpa (yes, my dad was my Grandma and my niece was my Grandpa). It was fun to watch but I have to admit it left me missing my dad again. He wasn't there to memorialize the moment with another skit. He wasn't there laughing in the background. I don't get to look forward to celebrating any kind of milestone like that for my parents and it's not because they didn't love each other. It's simply because he's gone. I am grateful for home videos and the memories that come flooding back because of them. I am grateful that my mom played the video despite the pain it must bring back to hear his voice.

I hope and pray I get to celebrate many milestones with my husband. I'm thankful for today and every day I get to spend with him. Life is better because he is mine.

I've got plenty to be thankful for...

Friday, November 26, 2010

Thankful Tidbits 11-26

Black Friday is the day to grab up as many deals as I can and finish up as much Christmas shopping as possible. More importantly, it is a day that I get to spend with my cousin and friend, Kelly. Not many people would spend all day on Thanksgiving with me and then head out before the day is even over to go shopping until the middle of the afternoon the next day. Thanks, Kelly, for a day of conversation, love, laughter & memories!

I am also grateful for the magic of Christmas that appears when I get home. My husband and girls decorate the tree while I am out. This year, I was surprised by the magic of Christmas as I pulled onto my street and saw Christmas lights on the outside of the house. It is only one string of lights that used to belong to my husband's grandpa. This year, the adorned our front porch and brightened up our street. It reminds me of the many times my dad would load us into the van to drive around and admire the Christmas lights everyone had up outside. I am grateful for the way my husband and girls turned the house around in one day.

Now, I am thankful for my warm house and bed (I can never express enough gratitude for these) as I get to catch up on all the sleep I missed last night.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Thankful Tidbits 11-25

I am thankful, today, for our home and family to celebrate Thanksgiving.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Thankful Tidbits: holidays 11-24

I am so grateful for days that my husband is home. There is just something relaxing, restful and peaceful about being together as a family. If there is no agenda, that's the best but even with a schedule to keep, I'd rather have him home. I realize work is necessary and I am so very grateful that he wakes up every morning and goes to work to earn money for our family. Today, I am grateful for holidays. I'm grateful for the time we get together as a family.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Thankful Tidbits - Thoughtfulness - 11-23

Sometimes you just wish for a little bit of thoughtfulness. So many people seem to be out for themselves without any consideration for anyone else. Thinking of others doesn't come naturally anymore.

It was nice to receive a card in the mail today from a friend inviting me out for coffee sometime. It's always nice to know someone is thinking of you. There are times we wonder if we are alone in this world. Thoughtfulness as small as a note can carry me through the day.

Yesterday, I watched my daughter get off the bus and walk down the street to our house. One of our neighbors was out mowing his lawn. I watched Nikelle pass the neighbor's house. He didn't stop to look at her so she continued to watch. When he gave her eye contact, she waved and he waved in return. It was nice to see my 8-year-old being thoughtful and taking time to smile and wave to a neighbor. I praised her for doing so.

My husband takes my birthday off every year when he can. He's thoughtful that way. Every now and then he'll come up with a really good gift. Unfortunately, when he does, something always ruins it. One year, he went to buy me a watch at Dick Pond's. Unfortunately, I was there looking at running shoes. He bought me a stocking hat and gloves as well for running and his sister gave me the same gift. Last year, he bought me Fireproof for Christmas and some friends of ours gave us the same gift before he had the opportunity to give it to me. This year, that same friend gave me a book by an author whose book I just enjoyed reading. My husband informed me that he was going to need some time to go shopping again because he had just bought me the exact same book. Although his gifts don't always get to me the way he pictures, I am grateful for his thoughtfulness.

It's just nice to experience thoughtfulness in today's day and age. There are many more examples. These are just highlights from the last couple of days. I am thankful for thoughtful people.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Thankful Tidbits - Virtual Perfection - 11-22

We will never have 100% of what we want. There is always something we will want to see changed. At church, over the past weeks, we have been reminded of "virtual perfection". When you have 85% of what you want; when you are happy with 85% of what is going on in your life, you have achieved virtual perfection. Too easily, we put all our energy and attention on the 15% that we would love to see changed. We need to focus on the 85%. You can catch the sermons here entitled 85% is virtual perfection from 1-6-2008 and the prison break series from the last few Sundays.

More often than not, I think of myself as someone who chooses to focus on the 85%. Reality is that I too often, my focus is on the negative 15%. Unfortunately, I do this most often in the relationships that should be at the top of my list of blessings. Today, I am going to work on focusing on the positive 85% or virtual perfection in my life. I Thank God for the abundance of blessings in my life.

"I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength." - Philippians 4:11-13

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Thankful Tidbits - humility - 11-21

Last night, I reached into my bag and found two dimes and a nickel. Hmmm...

Looks like maybe I didn't help the guy out at Aldi as much as I thought. Good thing I didn't know his name and smear it all over my blog. Yikes!

Funny how moments come along like this just to show me that I am not better than all the rest. I shouldn't be comparing myself to others, only to God's standards. I am always in need of a good dose of humility.

Today, I'm thankful God keeps my attitude in check with a bit of humility here and there.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Thankful Tidbits - Unexpected Surprises 11-20

"Good deeds" boost your spirit a bit, don't they? Whether you are on the receiving end or the giving end, a good deed can change your entire outlook on the day. In today's world, they come as little unexpected surprises.

Last night, I ran some errands with the girls. On our way home, I remembered that I forgot to get eggs and milk. Cosidering those are pretty standard breakfast staples, I knew we needed to stop despite the strong urge I had to go straight home. Getting the kids out the van one more time could lead to a potential breakdown (by them or me).

The girls cooperated splendidly and I was even able to remember all the ingredients off the top of my head that I needed to make soup. As I was loading the groceries into the van, I was not looking forward to returning the cart. I know, however, that returning the cart to the corral is the right thing to do, it sets an example for my children, and at Aldi it means saving 25 cents as well.

Just as I was about to pull Ande out of the trunk (it was either have her there or climbing out of the cart on her own), a man came up to me with his daughter and asked if he could take my cart. He held out his hand to give me the 25 cents. "I don't have a quarter." (This happenes all the time at Aldi where someone asks to take the cart because they only have odd change rather than the needed quarter to retrieve a shopping cart.) I smiled and with a little bit of excitement and relief in my voice, excalimed, "Of course! Thank you!" He had no idea that he was doing me a favor by taking that cart. It was so much easier to just get Ande buckled into her seat and leave. Whether the man saw me with the kids and thought he'd be helping me out or I was helping him out, it didn't matter. It was a little unexpected surprise and it felt good.

As I was sorting through receipts this morning, I found another unexpected suprise - 12 cents. This man cheated me. I'm glad that I didn't realize he shortchanged me until this morning. I felt as though the man helped me by taking the cart. Which he did, just not as honestly and kindly as I had first assumed. The truth of the matter is that I seemed to have helped him in a bigger way than he helped me.

I wonder what made the man feel the need to deceive me? I wonder if he gave any thought to the fact that his daughter was witnessing his lies (whether she knew it or not)? I wonder what his financial situation is? I wonder if I would lie over something as little as 13 cents? It's only 13 cents... and it makes me wonder...

Am I willing to compromise my values over 13 cents, to cover my own embarassment or simply for a little convenience? If we allow a little wiggle room in the small stuff, how will we ever be found faithful when it comes to things that really matter?

And while it may seem to him that he came out of the situation with the better deal, he is mistaken. I almost feel even better that I was able to help him out because he felt the need to lie. Earlier in the evening, $10 I wasn't expecting in a return I made as well as a lonely $10 bill laying on the ground last night, came as unexpected surprises. I took these as little reminders from God that He will take care of me. Whether I am being cheated out of 13 cents or my own neglect is costing us a new set of garage doors. I am thankful for God's unexpected surprises.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Thankful Tidbits: family 11-18

The domino effect is a chain reaction that occurs when a small change causes a similar change nearby, which then will cause another similar change. It seems that when one bad thing happens it causes another bad thing to happen. Sometimes the only way to stop it is to go to sleep.

Nikelle had a rough night at AWANA last night. Her finger was run over by one of he scooters. Later in the night she was looking for me and when I called from behind her she twisted her ankle as she turned around. She attempted to be strong and prevent the tears from coming but it was the final straw for her. She looked exhausted.

My brother was there picking up his girls. He offered Nikelle a piggy back ride to the van. It was the perfect medicine! (That, and some sleep on the ride home.) I was very grateful to my brother for offering her that kind of V.I.P. treatment (which she was certain to inform her daddy of this morning).

Last night, I was reminded to be thankful for my siblings. My brothers and sister love my girls almost as much as I do. We celebrate birthdays and the bigger holidays together and still find time to get together for other reasons, too. My girls are always asking to play with their cousins and they know nothing but love for their aunts and uncles. Sometimes we need a little reminder to be grateful for family. Today, I am thankful for mine.

Thankful Tidbits: Full Calendar 11-19

It seems as though the busyness of life always attempts to steal my joy. I do my best to live for today but if I don't plan for tomorrow I may regret it later. My calendar is full. This year I have hung a weekly calendar on my wall rather than a monthly calendar so it doesn't appear quite as (stress)full. That has helped a lot. I am also learning to be okay with saying "no".

I am thankful for my full calendar. It is a reminder that I am never far from family and friends. My life is overflowing with blessings and surrounded with love. I am thankful for the busyness of life which reminds me to be thankful for friends and family.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Thankful Tidbits: God's Intimate Whispers 11-17

Days like today are a good reminder of the fact that I serve a God who wants an intimate relationship with me. My God cares about the details of my life. He cares when I hurt. He shares in my joy. He accepts me for me and still wants the best for my life.

As I read the Bible today (which I do literally take as God’s words to me), I read these verses in Ezekiel 36:26: “And I will give you a new heart, and I will put a new spirit in you. I will take out your stony, stubborn heart and give you a tender, responsive heart.” These verses are a reminder to me of years past (early in my marriage) that my heart had grown cold. I often didn’t feel and when I did feel, I didn’t have hope. My husband’s cousin gave me a book with inspirational writings. In it was one on this verse. I took it as God’s whisper to me. I answered, “O.K., God. I’m tired of being cold. Take my heart and make it moldable again.” I am still amazed at how I began to feel again.

I starred James 1:5 in my Bible today which reads, “If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and he will give it to you.” I have been struggling with some upcoming responsibilities that I feel less than prepared for. I feel inadequate and nervous that I will screw something up. This was a reminder after I had asked Him for help that this is exactly what He desires.

I also starred James 1:12 as a reminder that when I am asking God to help me overcome situations, often I will be faced with those very situations. How else will I overcome? “God blesses those who patiently endure testing and temptation. Afterward they will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love Him.” I love when it as though the Bible was written directly to me!

I think God often whispers to me and then it is up to me if I want to choose to take the time to listen. It is my choice if I embrace what He wants me to hear. He wants to be intimately involved in my life. I just need to take the time to talk and listen to Him.

Today, I am thankful for an intimate God as well as His whispers to me.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Thankful Tidbits: You 11-16

Most days, I write and don't really think about who it is that is reading my blog. It's not because I don't want to target my audience, it is simply too defeating to think that I don't have anyone following my blog. Reality is that I know there are a few and even at that I can count the number without taking my shoes off.

I came across Six Things Every Christian Blogger Needs to Know at (In)Courage. Here is the part that Ann Voskamp wrote that hit me:

"In the upside down blogging kingdom we commit to set our sights on God and not sitemeters. And in the upside down kingdom of blogging the only number that matters is One:

The One who has called you
The One who is your audience
The One who gives you your gifts
And the One to whom you give the gifts back to…
All that matters is the Lord God who is One.

I say this too quietly to the blogosphere:

Jesus Himself had only 12 followers.
And He lost one.
So if Jesus had only 12 followers… how many followers do we really need? If God Himself had only 12 followers and He lost one — would you blog for even one follower?"

I easily feel defeated that I'm not good enough. "I can't write like so and so." "Wow! How does someone paint a picture with their words that way?" "Will I ever achieve any dreams?" "Maybe I need to go to school."

Here is what it boils down to: I write because it draws me closer to God. I write because when I am done, I feel a bit tighter in my relationship with Him. If no one else was reading my blog, I would still write. What a great reminder! I write for Him!

Ahhh... but then there are you; the faithful few blog followers. Today, I am thankful for you; the faithful who read my blog and those who stop in every now and then to read a post. I write because writing helps my heart. I write because I believe it pleases my Father God. But I also write because I KNOW of you few who read. Thanks for encouraging me.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Thankful Tidbits 11-15

My brain just doesn't function the way it should. After going to lunch with a friend, I decided to shop at Strack and Van Til because I was nearby. I made my purchases (even stayed with my list and used coupons) only to come home, put the groceries away, go on with my day and get home tonight around 8pm to realize I didn't bring home the 4lbs of grapes I purchased. (When my groceries were bag two bags were put in the baby seat area and the bag of grapes was put in the main part. I stupidly didn't check the entire cart before I left.)

Today I am thankful for Strack and Van Til and whoever turned in the grapes they found in the shopping cart. When I called, they assured me that I could come in and they would let me get more grapes.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Thankful Tidbits: Day of Rest 11-14

I am thankful today for a day of rest. Time to worship. Time with friends. Time to forget about the to-do list. Rest.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Thankful Tidbits: Family Pets 11-13

Pets truly become part of your family, don’t they? Just over 11 years ago, my brother’s dog had puppies. It took a lot of begging during a vacation out west for my husband to agree to get one. My husband chose the one light colored dog from the litter. I had no complaints. I was just thrilled to be getting a dog. We named our dog “Pup”. It may seem like a name we chose because we were too lazy to come up with a name but that is not the case. I don’t really recall the names I tossed out at the moment but I knew I didn’t want to be yelling “Cleopatra” when we were looking for our lost dog. “Pup” was the name we could agree on. And really, her name still appropriately fits her 11 years later.

From that same litter of puppies, my sister took home Pup’s sister, Cinnamon. Pup and Cinnamon played rough. We were never really quite certain if they were playing or going to cause some serious damage to one another. It was fun to have share puppies from the same litter of our brother’s dogs.

Cinnamon had some health issues when she was little. I remember the tears and concern expressed back then. Thankfully, she was able to get healthy and enjoy life. Yesterday, sadly, Cinnamon took her last breath. It happened quickly. My sister and niece both expressed how she seemed fine just a few days ago. My heart hurt as I saw her head turn to acknowledge me when I got to their house yesterday while she didn’t move from the spot she was resting on. This was very unlike her usual lively greetings and it was obvious she wasn’t feeling herself. My sister noticed Cinnamon’s labored breathing and was concerned about the choice they were going to have to make. Thankfully, that choice did not need to be made.

It tore my heart to see my nieces and nephews in pain yesterday over their loss. It is never easy when we have to say goodbye. Today, I am reminded to be a little kinder to our own dog. The reality of her age and lack of tomorrow’s guarantee are at the forefront of my mind.

To those that didn’t know Cinnamon (and Pup, too, for that matter), one may have thought twice before going near her. To those of us who did know her, she was sweet as pie. Cinnamon loved to greet you and be greeted. She was nothing but full of love for those in her family. I will always look for her nose sniffing under the fence to greet me when I go to my sister’s house. I will always think of her when I pet our own dog, her sister.

I am thankful for Cinnamon. I am thankful for the way she was part of my extended family. Family pets have a way of entering our hearts and always remaining there.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Thankful Tidbits: Day of Fun - 11-12

When my girls get a day off of school, I enjoy having those days to utilize lazy mornings for myself to get things accomplished. I don’t have to get anyone anywhere at any time. It is amazing how much more I get done on those types of days. Needless to say, I am not one of those moms who do a great job of scheduling fun (or even taking time out for fun).

Yesterday, my girls were off for Veteran’s Day. My mother-in-law asked if she could take the older two to the American Girl store in Chicago. Knowing Jaycie’s fears and lack of get-up-and-go (at 5-years-old, she still wants to be pushed in the stroller more often than her 2-year-old sister), my husband and I decided that I needed to go with. While the girls were over the top excited, I was having an inner battle with what needed to be accomplished around the house.

The girls dressed up for their special lunch reservations and made certain their dolls were fancy as well. Nikelle has the American Girl Doll, Felicity, and Jaycie has a Bitty Baby (American Girl’s way of assuring they hit every age target). Nikelle was kind enough to pick up all the toys off the family room floor before we left so my mind could be more in the moment and we were off to meet Grandma by 9:30 in the morning.

Jaycie was not looking forward to the train ride. She loses most of her senses with loud noises and train whistles were high on her list of concerns. While she latched on to me in the parking lot, she was at peace with the quiet once we were inside the train car. (She did ride with holding my hand or touching me the entire commute to Chicago.) Nikelle had been on the train with Grandma once before so she was prepared and excited to experience the ride in the seats upstairs. Once we reached Union Station, it was back to being unreasonable to my explanations as I informed Jaycie there were “no worries” and picked her up until we were away from the loud noises of the trains.

We stopped at their Auntie Rhonda’s office to say hello and then caught the bus over to Water Tower Place. Jaycie commented that she liked the bus ride much better because there were no loud whistles. Nikelle was certain to follow Daddy’s rules and stay close by to Grandma and Mommy the whole way. Once we reached the CafĂ©, we were escorted to our table and the girls were given special chairs that attached to the table for their dolls. We were given mini cinnamon rolls and drinks to start our experience and their dolls were given special cups and saucers for the event. We enjoyed appetizers, main courses of pizza for Nikelle and chicken tenders with soup and a fruit kabob for Jaycie, followed up with bitty cakes, cookies and chocolate mousse for dessert.

It was so fun to watch the girls take care of their dolls and take on a “grown-up” roll. It really was like going to tea. My heart swelled with gratitude that I was able to be a part of the experience. We were off to browse the store after lunch only having to stop once or twice to explain to Jaycie why we were not purchasing another Bitty Baby or other expensive items during our visit. The girls were really well behaved which only added to the experience.

Noticing time had gotten away from us, we had to catch a taxi rather than the bus to get back to the train on time. Running through Union Station as I carried Jaycie was not as easy as it was when she was little. We got on the train shortly before it left the station and headed home this time on the main part of the train in seats facing one another. (Thanks to a kind gentleman who volunteered to switch seats so the girls could ride together once he saw Nikelle’s face and heard her disappointment on not being with her sister.)

The girls entertained themselves by browing the American Girl catalog and drawing as we traveled home. After a few stops along the way, my little 5-year-old mute surprised me by turning around on the train, standing up and shouting, "Why are we stopping here?" "Why are we stopping here?" Two men, obviously amused by her, looked over and smiled (I'm certain others were looking, too, but I didn't look around to observe.) I laughed as I told her to sit down and be quiet. I think it was a sign that my daughters truly enjoyed their day.

We didn’t return home until close to 5:00 p.m. It was a long day filled with fun that I am grateful their grandma planned. I am also grateful that I was able to share in the memory. It should really remind me that there is importance in taking time out for fun.

I just finished reading this post at MomLife Today. It was another good reminder that I need to take more time out for fun.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Thankful Tidbits 11-11

Today we honor our veterans. I am thankful for the men and women who fight and give their lives for our freedom. Thank you.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Thankful Tidbits: The lost - 11-10

The other day, I realized my daughter’s hat was missing. It is a cute pink hat that has a matching scarf (the kind that slides over your head and onto your neck so you won’t lose it) that her grandma gave her. It really bugged me that we didn’t have any idea what happened to the hat. This is the kind of thing that drives me crazy. Almost anything I lose will consume my thoughts until it is found.

I remember a time in high school when I lost my favorite necklace. It was a heart with a mustard seed in it reminding me that faith can move mountains. I cleaned every little spot in my room. (I’ve never been really good at keeping things clean so this took some time.) I prayed and prayed and prayed that God would help me find it. The necklace was a gift and something I treasured. Finally, I sat down exhausted of knowing where else to search. I had no idea where the necklace could be. I got off the bed to move a framed picture for the wall that was sitting on the floor waiting to be put up when I felt the necklace on its hanging hook on the back. This moment was one of many that taught me that God cares about the little details of my life.

As I look back on the moment now, sermons resonate in my mind about the lost coin, the lost sheep and the lost son. God cares about the lost. The way my heart and mind are consumed as I look for a lost item, God pursues the lost. I am thankful that God cares about the lost.

My daughter put on a sweatshirt the other day and exclaimed, “There’s something in my sleeve!” With a smile, she pulled out the missing hat. It’s so exciting when what is lost is now found!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Thankful Tidbits - 11-9

I turn into somewhat of a zombie after 9pm most nights. I'm just one of those early to bed; early to rise kind of people. With this fall back time change, however, that means it is difficult for me to stay up past 8pm. While daylight savings time seems like a great concept, it always messes with my household. Our bodies are used to eating and sleeping at certain times. My children still wake up at the same time they did before only it's an hour earlier. Not to mention that because we are attempting to get back into our usual routine, they are actually losing an hour of sleep because we aren't putting them to bed any earlier. The kids are a bit crabby and I can't say I'm peaches and cream over here myself.

This morning Rod made coffee before he left for work because he was up in the middle of the night rebooting a machine for work that had gone down. (I am very grateful for his laptop and remote connection by the way.) My husband made extra coffee and I have some sitting in the pot for myself. He certainly has his moments of being considerate. I just started drinking coffee in the last couple of years. It has to be flavored or be accompanied by flavored creamer. This morning, I am thankful for coffee and flavored creamer. I'm also thankful for a considerate husband.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Thankful tidbits - 11-8

I'm thankful for so much today. Money to pay bills; Good health to enjoy walking outside; good friends and one in particular who allotted time to spend with me today; days without children; sleeping children; sleep. I'm thankful for sleep. This time change has our house a bit messed up. Hoping it changes in a few days. Goodnight.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Thankful Tidbits - Stay-at-Home Mom - Nov. 7th

It seems that everyone is getting hit in some way by the bad economy these days. I realize that I created our own financial problems by backing into the garage door, but it seems we just continue to get hit. Our escrow for our taxes is too low so our mortgage payment is going up. My husband’s insurance is not only going to take a larger chunk out of his paycheck each month but we will no longer be so easily covered by the insurance either. Rod went to get the oil changed on his car yesterday. He was informed that his tires were bald. He was then informed of some work that needed to be done fairly soon on his vehicle that would cost an amount of money we simply do not have. He got the tires for reasons of safety but told them that the rest had to wait.

It is draining to deal with the finances. I enjoyed life so much more when Rod handled the finances early in our marriage (all in his head) and I just spent the money knowing nothing about what was happening with the checkbook. A few thousand in credit card debt later, we learned this system simply doesn’t work. These days, we attempt to be proactive with our finances. We have our budget (although rather loose) laid out for the entire year. I have been looking at the grocery ads to find deals and couponing with Jill Catlado’s help. It just seems we should be moving in the positive direction at the bank, not depleting the small amount we have built up.

I’m working on the attitude of gratitude when it comes to our finances. This morning I read this post at (In)courage. I am reminded that staying home is a choice. Being a stay-at-home mom is a privilege. . I am grateful to be a stay-at-home mom. I’m working on determining what we can cut so I can continue to do this and stay on top of the finances. And I’m trusting God with the rest. He’s never let us down before.

Thank you, Lord, that although we may need to cut back, you allow me to stay home with the kids.
Thank you, Rod, for working hard hours so I can do what we believe God wants me to do.

Philippians 4:19 - "And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus."

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Thankful Tidbits: Wounds from a Friend - Nov. 6th

Proverbs 27:6 – “Wounds from a sincere friend are better than many kisses from an enemy.”

When the wound from a friend is fresh, I am in complete disagreement with this verse. It hurts when a friend points out my… uh… shortcomings. Looking back in hindsight, however, I am allowed to realize the value of these "wounds" and more importantly, the friend.

There is one moment burned into my memory that reminds me of the truth of this verse. Early in my marriage, I was out with two friends. One friendship was on a much deeper level than the other but the three of us were out together nonetheless. We were enjoying some ice cream and conversation. (I believe that was what I was doing. The ice cream part is fuzzy to me but seems to be a likely choice.)

I don’t remember exactly what it was that I was saying. I simply remember that my words were not very encouraging about my husband. It might have even been one of those “husband bashing” moments. My girlfriend (who has been one of my very best friends for years) lent a listening ear. She’s great about that. That’s one of the reasons I love her so much. The other friend (who was really more on the level of an acquaintance at the time) lent a listening ear but then had the audacity to touch her fingers to her lips as she spoke to me. “Be careful about the words you allow to come out of your mouth about your husband. The way you speak about your husband will affect your feelings toward him. Make sure you speak kindly to others about your husband.”

To say I was furious would be an understatement. I did not understand where she got off telling me what I should say about MY husband. Was she even invited to join my actual friend and myself for the evening or did she invite herself?

Hindsight changed my opinion. Today, I am thankful for this dear friend. We have begun scheduling dates on the calendar for breakfast to catch up. I look forward to my time with this friend who took the time to call me out. She is someone I now actively seek advice from. She’s had more experience in life than me and I am interested as to how she has handled different situations.

The confrontation with this friend changed my life. It told me how much she valued me. She believed in me enough and in my marriage to risk the potential friendship at hand. I often remember her words as I talk about my husband. Oh, sure, I still have my moments of complaining, but more often than not, I remember to speak positively about my husband. True to her words, I feel better about my husband after 14+ years of marriage than I did early on. It probably has a big part to do with finding the positive about him and sharing that with others.

That best friend who simply listened to me that night still listens. We’ve come a long way in our friendship and she has often "wounded" me to make me better as well. This only makes her friendship more valuable.

It may be painful in the moment, but the wounds from a friend certainly are better than the empty flattery of someone else. I am thankful for the wounds from sincere friends because it reveals how very much they care.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Thankful Tidbits - November 5

Tonight I am especially thankful for Rocky Road ice cream. Oberweis to be exact.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Thankful Tidbits: Moms - November 4th

I often wonder if God did the right thing by blessing me with three little girls. Not that He should have given me something else; just that I may not be the best for them. I’m fairly critical of myself in my job of motherhood. Life easily overwhelms me and I am not great at being intentional with my children. Oh, sure, I have good moments. I am by no means disqualified to be a mom. I just get caught up in the comparison game too often.

That is why I am thankful for my mom and mother-in-law. My mom regularly comes out once a week to give me a day to spend time doing whatever it is I want to do. My mother-in-law is pretty good about taking the girls overnight or babysitting when we need her to. These breaks from the mundane allow me to be a better wife and mother. There are many reasons I am grateful for our moms. This week, I am thankful for how very much they help me.

So moms, as Ande would say, “Thank you much!”

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Thankful Tidbits: Seasons - November 3rd

I think I am one of the rare few who actually enjoy living in the Chicago area. The weather this past October was just about perfect! At the same time, I welcome the way November is boldly warning us that winter is quickly approaching. I love the way the chilly breeze fills my lungs. The fragrance of burning wood floating from the chimneys and permeating the outside air brings back fond memories that pull at my heartstrings. And my children are certain to help me anticipate the holidays and the first snowfall of winter.

Although fall is my favorite and I love the white covering in the winter, I am usually very much ready to welcome spring when it arrives. The heat of summer is also a nice break from the rain. I welcome the dry weather so I don’t have to wonder if the dog will get muddy when I put her outside. I enjoy each of the seasons and welcome the change that they bring.

I am thankful for the changing seasons. It is only when the freeze of winter is keeping me couped up inside that I look forward to the summer. In the heat of summer I remember the relief of the other seasons and remember to enjoy the opportunities to swim outside and bask in the sun with my girls.

It’s the same with life. The changing seasons allow us to say goodbye to the past and look forward to what is to come. There is time for reminiscing and a time for hope. Each season has a purpose and I am grateful for the seasons. Sometimes I wish one could last a little longer or that one would be cut a little short but it is in the one season that I learn to appreciate the others.

Ecclesiastes 3:1 - "For everything there is a season, a time for every activity under heaven."

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Thankful Tidbits: Founding Fathers - November 2nd

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

I am grateful to our Founding Fathers. I am grateful that not only did they believe all men are created equal and declare our rights of Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness, but that they understood where all of these “rights” came from. “They are endowed by their Creator.” I am grateful that even though our country screams for separation of church and state in a way that was never intended by our forefathers, that our country was founded on Godly principles. It comes down to the core. We have a Creator. Life starts with Him and therefore, He knows the best for my life.

Psalm 19:1-4 - “The heavens proclaim the glory of God. The skies display his craftsmanship. Day after day they continue to speak; night after night they make him known. They speak without a sound or word; their voice is never heard. Yet their message has gone throughout the earth and their words to all the world.”

Romans 1:19-20 – “They know the truth about God because he has made it obvious to them. For ever since the world was created, people have seen the earth and sky. Through everything God made, they can clearly see his invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature. So they have no excuse for not knowing God.”

Monday, November 1, 2010

Thankful Tidbits: Freedom of Choice - November 1st

Election Day is tomorrow. Quite a few years ago, a friend of mine ran for an elected position. I learned a few things during that campaign. The mudslinging that goes on often comes from some slight shred of truth that is at times twisted beyond recognition. Although I know this, I’ve found myself confused with many of the political ads I find in my mailbox. One in particular is when it comes to Justice Tom Kilbride. One day, I’m certain I will not vote to retain him where the next I think I should. I realized that rather than just be frustrated with the confusion from all the information out there, I needed to do the research for myself. Here is one site from The Illinois Federation for Right to Life. I was very grateful for the information I look for on the priority issues I start with when determining who to vote for.

Another tidbit of information I got from that race was that party affiliation (although revealing a small bit about the candidate) really is not much more than a way to get financing for the campaign. If a candidate does not associate with one of the political parties out there, loss is almost inevitable. When it comes to the race for U.S. Senator, I find myself disgusted with both the Democratic and Republican candidates. How does one even choose? There are actually candidates from other parties out there. Check out this site from the Illinois Citizens for Life.

I want to be educated on the candidates and the issues. Culture Campaign has information for you about the candidates as well. You can go directly to a candidate’s website for information and you can go to your County Clerk’s website to find an example ballot if you are uncertain as to who your candidates even are.

Politics disgust most of us but tomorrow is more than a day for politics. It is a day to display our gratitude for our freedom in this country. Today is November 1st and I use my blog for a time of grateful reflection this month. I am thankful for free will. I am thankful that I have the opportunity to make my own choices. Election Day is a good reminder of this. I have the opportunity to express my opinion through voting. I for one, am going to have my say!

Friday, October 29, 2010

Embarassing Moment of Grace

What is your most embarrassing moment? There usually are not too many scenarios running through my mind in answer to this question. It’s not that I don’t have embarrassing moments. I think I simply choose to wipe the moment from my memory as soon as possible.

There was the one time in grade school that I slipped on a french fry in the lunch room. A moment I am certain no one else remembers but one where I was embarrassed nonetheless. Then there was the time I was pregnant eating at a restaurant with my husband. While I had used the bathroom earlier in the visit, I decided to use the facilities one more time before we left. (After all, bathrooms are a woman’s best friend during a pregnancy.) While I thought things looked odd as I entered the bathroom, it took a good long moment of staring into the bathroom mirror before I noticed the urinals and thanked God there was no one in the men’s bathroom as I attempted to quickly and discreetly exit. That one certainly has engrained itself into my memory. Silly little mishaps you’d like to keep under your hat. Nothing comes close to the one I did this week.

I suppose it was bound to happen at some point. I’m always trying to juggle too much as I’m attempting to leave the house. Too ease the stress of getting out the door, I will get all the girls in the van, load up everything we need to go along with us for the ride and walk into the house one more time to make certain I haven’t forgot anything. I then walk out, open the garage door, get in the vehicle and leave with all three girls throwing questions (or whining) at me. Wednesday night was no different. The girls all loaded into the van. I questioned my older ones as to whether or not they had all their belongings that were needed for the evening. I made certain to have diapers, wipes and all the necessary equipment for my 2-year-old. As I made one last trip into the house before leaving, I shot up a prayer for God to help me remember everything I needed. Grabbing my shoes, I opened the garage door and hopped into the van. My 5-year-old was informing me how her belly was thirsty as I was backing out and CRUNCH!

I still close my eyes in disbelief. I probably should have clarified that prayer to God to help me remember EVERYTHING. While I certainly did open the garage door, I opened the door on my husband’s side - not mine. I backed up right into the garage door. Fabulous. Downright stupid. Who does that? (Actually, I’m finding more people than one would realize which is comforting to a point.)

I’m grateful in this moment that I did not yell at my middle child for asking questions while I was trying to drive or blame my oldest for dawdling up until that point. I didn’t lose it with my 2-year-old because of her whining and crying (which I’m not even 100% certain she was doing at that moment). Point is, God kept me from permanently memorializing this moment with fire from my tongue. That is a HUGE victory.

I’m grateful for my husband’s response and I am working to replay it over and over in my mind in attempts to better my reactions to him in mindless situations of much less magnitude on his part. (I’m also hoping it will just naturally play back before he can rightfully pull it out of his back pocket, too, of course. After all, that is where he told me he is putting this moment.) His response was, “I know you are stressed out.” He was willing to miss his geek meeting to come home (thankfully, he didn’t need to). He brought me comfort by informing me this was something insurance should cover. He didn’t respond in any way, shape or form, the way I would have should the tables have been turned.

My husband extended grace. He did not yell at me or remind me of how he was going to have to miss a meeting to help me with my stupidity. He offered complete and total grace. Unmerited. Undeserved. He gave me a little piece of God. That’s why I love this man. He allows God to flow through him. I have so much to learn from him and so much to learn from God. I have a long way to go to reflect this love and grace. Each day I’m learning. Each day I am forever grateful. And today, I am a little more humble as well.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Soup for my Soul

Today I literally experienced "Chicken Soup for the Soul". A dear friend, knowing that I've been battling a sinus infection, surprised me with a bowl of soup (along with a yummy roll) and tea from Panera. While this truly was refreshing to my throat and stuffy head, it was most refreshing to my soul.

This unexpected act of kindness reminded me of the gift from another friend who stopped by last week with a piece of pie and card just to remind me that I have a support system surrounding me. Another friend gives me phone calls and another sends reminders on Facebook that I am receiving thoughts and prayers.

These past couple of weeks have been exhausting with nonstop commitments, a husband working tiresome overtime and a bug that leaves my head in the clouds. Friends and family stepped up to fill my husband's shoes as he worked through most of Jaycie's birthday party. My mom shows up weekly to give me a day "off" and I always know help is just a phone call away.

Dear friends and family, I may not be wonderful these days at saying "thank you" but I am grateful to have all of you in my life. We will soon be entering a month set aside for gratitude. You are high on that list. Thank you for all that you do.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Happy 5th Birthday, Jaycie Mariah!

5 years ago, my husband was traveling about 90% of the time for work. He would often leave on a Sunday afternoon or Monday morning only to return on a Friday night or Saturday morning. It was a rough season of life that we persevered through. During this season, our daughter, Jaycie Mariah, was born. We’ve been through the deaths of our dads since that time and trudged through a lot of darkness. Jaycie has filled our lives with much joy and gives us one more reason to wake up each morning and face this world.

Jaycie is our inquisitive one. She asks question after question after question. The questions don’t stop until she has an answer that satisfies her curiosity. I have decided that Jaycie’s lack of verbal communication with others is due to this analytical brain of hers. Her brain is simply too busy working in the thought department to cooperate with her tongue. We have seen progress over this past year, however. When she is greeted, we have established a bare minimum of a wave to acknowledge the greeting and she has risen to the occasion. Ditto on the farewell. We’re currently working on thank you.

Jaycie just needs a moment to process her thoughts. She takes a bit of time to warm up in situations and we often find ourselves needing to steal hugs and give her encouragement to warm up. We try to talk to her about how things are going to play out before she is put in the situation. We are learning that one-on-one time with Jaycie is priceless and we are working to fit that more into our schedules.

Jaycie loves princesses. We have watched Princess and the Frog more times this year than I can count. Tinkerbell and Peter Pan have been high on that list as well. She loves matching/memory games, puzzles and computer time. She enjoys playing with her big sister, making crafts and reading stories. Jaycie enjoys jumping, running and swinging. Jaycie can swing for hours. She is really quite skilled at pumping those legs. She enjoys having tea parties and playing house.

One can often find our daughter helping in the kitchen. If she is not helping me with the baking or cooking, she is watching to learn how everything works. She loves to help load and unload the dishwasher and enjoys being given any responsibilities that help her feel important.

Weekend trips are highly anticipated by our daughter and our recent trip to Starved Rock with Rod’s family took Jaycie from being somewhat of a mute at preschool to a “Chatty Cathy”. Jaycie likes to have sleepovers with her Grandma and her Grams. She has fun playing with all of her cousins and can actually get quite loud when she is excited. While Jaycie is uncertain in different situations, once she warms up and finds her comfort zone, she is quite the character.

Our 5-year-old little girl loves to scream an ear piercing squeal at the top of her lungs when she is having fun. It is quite unsettling when we are having a conversation but this is the other side of Jaycie. She is full of life. She enjoys being silly and informed me the other day that the reason she likes her boy cousins is because “boy cousins are so silly”. Since Jaycie was a little girl, her expressions were of a wide variety. There may be the makings of an actress in this little girl because she has worked those facial expressions to her advantage. Jaycie loves to tell jokes such as “Why did the chicken cross the road? Because it wanted to be red.” She loves to laugh and connects quickly with anyone that can assist her in this endeavor.

I truly look forward to getting to know Jaycie better and better each year. She is one of the greatest gifts given to me by God.

My Dearest Jaycie,

This year, in particular, I want you to know how very much your daddy loves you. It broke him to have to travel so much when you were little. This weekend he had to go in to the office on your birthday (one of the very things he wanted to avoid by taking this job). He skipped church in hopes that he wouldn’t have to miss your party. When his boss told him he had to put in more hours which would mean working through your party, your daddy persuaded his boss to allow him to get home to celebrate with you. He came home to be with you on your birthday. He was here to sing your birthday song and watch you blow out your candles. He was here to see you open presents. You were surrounded with blessing upon blessing of friends and family as we celebrated your birthday today but nothing was as special as your daddy’s presence. I know it broke him again today that he could not share your entire special day at home with you. You have a daddy that sacrifices himself daily for you, Jay. Day in and day out he goes to work to provide for you. After putting in many long hours each day, he comes home to have dinner with us and reads you a story and prays with you every night. A daddy like yours is a rare treasure. I pray you will find security in this love. Even more so, I pray you will know the security found in God’s love. Our love will never compare with the love God has for you. Our sacrifices are small in comparison to the sacrifice Christ made for you on the cross. Happy 5th Birthday, JayJay. You do our hearts good.



Saturday, October 16, 2010

Extended Grace

Another good post today over at Chatting at the Sky. It's a reminder to me that I need to be plugged in to The Power Source. I can't go every day without fuel. It's just another way that He is reminding me to keep my eyes on Him. Everything else is just not quite as important. I'm working on keeping things in perspective these days. It makes it a little easier to extend and accept grace. This post is a good reminder where I should always start.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010


This post at Remodeling this Life was inspiration to me today.

My friend tell me I am too hard on myself. I am always looking at where I strive to be and seeing how short I fall. It is difficult not to get discouraged and throw in the towel all together. Whether it is weight loss, exercise, motherhood or the pursuit of my dreams. I need to remember what Emily says in her post: "I aim for being better than yesterday, not as good as tomorrow."

Friday, October 8, 2010


This comes from a blog entitled Chatting at the Sky. I just happened to start reading this blog and found God speaking to me in this:

"Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.” - 2 Corinthians 5:17

Either it’s true, or it isn’t. And if it isn’t, then by all means, carry on. But if you believe it’s true, then you have every freedom to walk that way. It may not be easy and it may not come quick. But do not say that new is impossible. New things have come, indeed. What is keeping you from embracing them?

It always comes down to this: does my life match the lip service I give?

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Forget it follow up

I went downstairs to face the smelly (possibly rust stained) laundry sitting in my washer. What I found made me fall in love with my husband all over again: piles of folded laundry and an empty washing machine!!! I do not believe that my love language is acts of service but this one starts my day off just right. Sometimes we stress because we are unwilling to face the problem. I did not want to put my focus on the laundry and truly was dreading what the consequences would be of my procrastination. Tackling the problem was a reminder of one of my many blessings.

And yes, mom, I did call him to tell him how much I appreciate him and love him.

Forget it

I have had no idea what day it is any day this week.

I lost my debit card. (My mom found it in my van.)

I've had a few emotional and mental breakdowns this week.

Exercise is foreign to me.

Healthy eating has been far from my mind.

Every moring, I wonder who was in my house messing it up during the night.

There has been a load of laundry sitting in my washer for two days now.

Whites - I hope the clothes aren't ruined.

5-year-olds are coming to celebrate my daughter's birthday next week.

I am not prepared.

I can't seem to learn the word "no".

I'm very angry... mainly at myself.

I told my daughter to "shut up" yesterday.

Stellar moment.

The hardest thing in life sometimes is simply to forgive myself.

I am attempting to live in light of grace despite my blaring failures.

"I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us." - Philippians 3:13-14

Friday, October 1, 2010

Creating Margins for Unscheduled Interruptions

I heard Jill Savage speak last weekend about leaving margin in your life. She opened a book to explain that it is the margins that allow us to read the words on the paper clearly and stress free.


I found myself wishing I had allowed some margin in my life this week. I really had thought I started to be intentional in this area. This week only emphasize how little I have changed. I have left no room for exercise or meal planning let alone thinking or resting. I certainly did not leave any room for the disturbances that came into play. I was at the end of my rope.

Earlier this week, my daughter attended an after school program for the first time where transportation home was to be provided. While I had just enjoyed a day with her at the Chicago Children’s Museum on her class field trip, I left her at school to attend “Camp Fitness” and was home in time to meet her at her appointed drop off time on the bus route. Knowing this was the first day of the bus route, my friend and I waited a good 15-20 minutes before contacting one another for assurance that both of our daughters were still together on the bus. As time continued to creep by without any sign of our children, I attempted to contact the school and the bus company. I was informed that “there was a hysterical child on the bus” they were attempting to deal with and the bus was running late but was assured that the driver was on his way again. Needless to say, as 40, 50 and 60 minutes rolled by without any sign of my daughter, tension began to rise. I was on the phone apologizing ahead of time for my tone of voice to the bus company as I cried that I wanted my daughter home and my nerves got the best of me just as her bus pulled up.

My daughter was thankfully oblivious to the depth of her tardiness. I struggled with giving the benefit of the doubt to the bus driver. And finding the positive twist in this scenario was next to impossible for me. My entire day was thrown off but the important thing was that my daughter was home safely.

It does something to you when you rely on complete strangers to transport your child to and from school. Ultimately, I know I am trusting God but there is some level of responsibility involved as a mother on my part. That responsibility found me on the phone the next day with my daughter’s school as well as the District’s transportation department. I found myself uneasy with agreeing to allow my daughter to take the bus again for the after school program but was pleased with the attention I was given from both offices.

This one fiasco in my day threw off my entire week. The amount of energy, emotion and brain power it took from me was not allotted in my week. I was drained and found myself only beginning to feel better after my daughter returned home safely today once again (late, but not nearly as disturbing). She was put on a different bus route and this bus driver actually apologized and attempted to explain to me the situation when she dropped my daughter off only 20 minutes late.

I am appreciative to each and every adult who invests in my daughter’s life each day. It was comforting to have my mom here already helping with the little ones so my focus could be on the situation with my oldest child. I’m thankful that I didn’t have anywhere I needed to be that day of the bus incident. I am so grateful for my friend who walks through these moments with me as our daughters grow up together. More than anything, I am indebted to my God who loves and cares about my daughter more than I could ever fully realize.

I need to create more margins into my day. I do not allow room for the unscheduled interruptions. I need to follow God’s example of utilizing a day of rest. I need to implement some positive change into my life and it needs to come sooner than later.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

How big are you?

"A man is about as big as the things that make him angry."
- Winston Churchill

Monday, September 27, 2010

Star Struck

This past weekend ended up being very full... but it was fun!

For the benefit of my cousin, oldest nieces and Twilight fans out there, I got to meet BooBoo Stewart (Seth Clearwater) on Saturday. It seems the older I get, unfortunately, the younger teenagers seem to look. It was still pretty cool to have been able to meet a movie star!

(I told you they look young! That, or I look as old as I felt.)

My cousin and I enjoyed a day at a Mom's Expo in Bloomington, Illinois. We were able to sit and talk with Sheri Braendel, author of Good Girls don't have to Dress Bad. I was able to hear her views on fashion, modesty and being an example to my daughters. She has actually made me believe this was something worth listening to. (I bought her book and am very excited to read it. The introduction has already grabbed a hold of my heart!)

We sat and listened to Jill Cataldo as she spoke about Super-couponing. I am very hopeful I can put some of her tips into practice. She saves over something like $5000 each year! After her workshop, I actually think there may be some hope.

The highlight of the day for myself was this moment.

I have been to Hearts at Home a handful of times. Jill Savage has come to speak at our Mom's group at church. This moment, where I was able to have a picture with her and speak to her one-on-one left me a little star struck. As I was discussing it with my husband, he just pointed out that it meant a lot to me because she has been instrumental in my life. It was fun to meet BooBoo Stewart but he has made no lasting impact on my life as a whole. Jill's transparency and authenticity along with her heart for God has stirred dreams to life within my heart.

It was a good day away and spending it with my cousin, Kelly, made it the best! I love that God has surrounded me with just a great gift of friendship right within my own family.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

I Believe. I Believe. It's Silly, but I Believe.

My husband has a way of embracing the fun in life. He usually knows all the silly facts. Those such as, on the first day of Fall, you can balance an egg. He's told me this now for over 14 years. I just smile and nod because he has never been able to prove it. As a matter of fact, he just tried the other day to no avail.

"Do you know why the egg thing didn't work the other day?" he asked as he was leaving for work this morning. "Because it wasn't the first day of Fall?" I asked already knowing the answer. "Fall started at [some specific time] last night!" he exclaimed. "You have to try it!" he challenged me with the level of excitement my third grader would normally express. I just smiled. "Do it!" he pointed his finger at me as though he were commanding me and left.

I walked in the door, pulled out an egg, shaking my head in disbelief and began my experiment. Nope. It didn't work. I decided that, for his benefit, I would try for a little bit more time. That's when it happened! The egg balanced. I went to grab my camera and the egg was still waiting for me when I returned!

In reality, it wasn't for his benefit. It was for mine. God knew so well what He was doing when He gave me Rod. I take life all too seriously and then there's my husband; reminding me to balance eggs on the counter on the first day of Fall, teaching me how to hang spoons on my face and reminding me that there is fun in life everywhere. I just need to allow the time to experience it!

This morning I'm starting my day similing and I have my husband to thank for it.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Wednesday's Weight

Weight Watchers makes me mindful of usually mindless choices. Recently, my cousin talked me into going back to Weight Watchers. I hesitantly agreed to go. While I know it is good for me, I hate the effort involved. In the long run, I will be grateful to her once again but I have gotten very comfortable in my mindless way of living.

I just snacked on an apple. If I was not utilizing the Weight Watchers plan, I probably would have grabbed some type of processed snack. While attending my meetings, however, I am mindful of the fact that I need to work at least 5 fruits and/or vegetables into my day. Portion sizes are something recognizable again and I am reminded of the importance of staying hydrated.

"63% of the time we think we are hungry, we are actually thirsty," was the statistic my leader gave at the last meeting. I don't know how accurate that is but I can believe it. It is so important to get enough water into my body into the day. That is my goal this week: to get at least 8 glasses of water in each day.

While I'm not all out cheerful about attending Weight Watchers again, I expect to get some results. Who knows, maybe I can actually wear pants that fit this Christmas and feel good about being in pictures again. It is amazing what a difference just one day of healthy eating can have on my mind, body and spirit. I wonder what a couple of months will do.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Justified Anger

“Come over to Aisle 4” the cashier announced. The decision to stay in line or make the bold move to another lane needs to be made in an instant. In that instant, I decided to move over to aisle 4. That’s when I saw the man rushing, not from another line, mind you, but from the main part of the store down this aisle. As we were equidistant from the cashier (and I was just waiting in another line when the lane opened), I had no problem stepping into line in front of him just before he reached the cashier. I placed my purchases on the belt and waited for the cashier to ring up the customer in front of me.

Shortly after, I heard a woman behind me talking loudly. “Yes, I saw that. For someone to just cut in front of you is rude.” She continued on and on. This was obviously his wife coming into the scene a little tardy. I did not view myself as having done anything wrong in this moment. When a new lane opens, it is just common knowledge that those waiting in other lanes have priority. As my friend pointed out when I relayed this story to her, it is, in reality, priority for those in the front of those already formed lines. There is always an awkward moment when a new lane forms and everyone believes they are in the right.

This woman just would not let up! Her comments that were clearly directed about me (although not directed to me) were loud and causing a scene. I turned around and politely asked, “Were you in another line?” The woman, I think surprised by the fact that I decided to speak to her, answered, “No”.

“Well, we were. And she opened the new lane for those in line to come over,” I replied in a calm tone of voice that usually does not accompany these types of emotion.

“Did she say that?” the woman inquired.

“She said you can come over to aisle 4.” (I see now that this is just a matter of individual interpretation.)

“I was just trying to explain to my children that it is rude to cut in line” she continued to speak loudly.

“If it means that much to you, you are welcome to go in front of me,” I not so graciously offered.

“No,” she said firmly.

“I just attempted to rectify the situation.” I said (surprisingly still in a calm voice). “But I’m sorry you don’t want to.” I turned my back to her and focused my attention to the transaction at hand.

I could still hear her behind me, “Don’t listen to anything she said boys.”

Seriously?! I was angry that this woman insisted that I did something wrong. I was angry that I was now questioning my actions and my attitude when she was the one blowing this up into a big scene. While I realize that I could have made the situation better or avoided the confrontation entirely, I still believe I understand checkout etiquette better than she did. I walked away feeling pretty good about the fact that I responded to her in a calm fashion and chalked it up to a victory in not allowing my anger to get out of hand.

This morning I was reading Gary Chapman’s book, Anger, Handling a Powerful Emotion in a Healthy Way in preparation for a group study that I obviously need. He says that “anger is the emotion that arises whenever we encounter what we perceive to be wrong”. This scenario quickly popped into my mind. I felt I was wronged. She felt she was wronged. We both believed we were right. Mr. Chapman goes on to say that “anger originates in the perception that something is wrong and that this sense of morality (some things are right and some things are wrong) finds its root in the fact that we are created in the image of God who is holy and has established moral law for the good of His creatures.” He continues to say that “We should thank God for our capacity to experience anger. When one ceases to experience anger, one has lost her sense of moral concern.”

See! I just have concern for the morality of our country! (Or maybe this scenario has nothing to do with that at all.) I’m sure Mr. Chapman will go on to talk more about this, but I’m guessing that as a Christ-follower, it is more important how I handle my anger rather than simply feeling justified in it. As I look back on my situation at the check-out counter, I realize that while it was fairly late at night, this woman was shopping with her husband and children and probably was ready to get home and get her kids into bed. I have no idea what had been going on in her day and this was an opportunity I could have taken the high road. That high road could have been to see a situation with a man and his children rather than just the “right v. wrong” of the situation, being grateful my children were not with me, and I would have waited and graciously (sincerely this time) allowed him to step in line in front of me. Considering I didn’t do that, the road God probably would have liked me to take would have been to say, “I’m sorry. I can see how you would believe I cut in line.” I would have gathered up my stuff, stepped behind her in line and allowed her children to witness that sometimes “justice” is not as important as kindness and the consideration of others.

Kindness: That’s a fruit of the Spirit. Showing the characteristics of the fruit of the Spirit does not come naturally for me. It’s something I certainly need to work on. At the same time, I am so overwhelmingly grateful for God’s grace. Could have’s… Should have’s… Would have’s… While I make a lot of mistakes, I don’t have to live in light of them. I simply need to see how I could do better in the next situation and live life today.

What would I do without God's grace?

Friday, September 17, 2010

My Choice in Attitude

This was my input in a newsletter recently to my Mom Connection group:

I was able to connect with my pastor this past weekend as he discussed that ever popular glass of water. He mentioned that he doesn’t view the glass as half-full or half-empty. He just sees a glass with some water in it. I agree. This is life. Both the good and the bad come with the package.

I think half-full or half-empty refers a lot to our attitude in the midst of it all. It is in this area that I often find myself failing. In the moment, I often choose to focus on stress, exhaustion, depression, or even defeat. Rarely, do I choose love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control as I should (Galatians 5:22-23).

It made me think again of 2 Peter 1:3. “Everything that goes into a life of pleasing God has been miraculously given to us by getting to know, personally and intimately, the One who invited us to God. The best invitation we ever received!”

If I truly believed this was the best invitation I ever received, wouldn’t I live in light of the awesomeness of this invitation? I would want to set aside time for my relationship with God. I would covet my time with Him. I would want my relationship with him to grow deeper and I would want to introduce Him to everyone I met. My attitude should reflect this invitation. I need to make the conscious effort to recall the great sacrifice that was made for me and live in response to that.

Every day will bring with it positive and negative. How we respond to each of these moments is our choice. Excitement should overwhelm me as I consider the invitation that was extended to me.

Today as you face what comes your way, will you favor pessimism or optimism? Remember that you have the option to choose joy. Consider everything in light of the fact that you have been invited to know God personally and intimately! Choosing joy is evidence of God in our lives.

So much of our attitude is based on our perspective, isn’t it? What kind of expectations we have on ourselves and others with create part of the atmosphere in our lives. Whether or not we play the comparison game or attempt to keep up with the Joneses cultivates discontentment in our souls.

Recently, I’ve come upon a blog by Gitzen Girl. She has a disease called Ankylosing Spondylitis (she gives the details about it in her blog). Her disease does not allow her to leave her home and it is unfathomable to me when I read about the details of what she goes through. And yet she chooses joy. She knows her attitude is her choice alone and she has chosen joy. Her life is an inspiration to me and a daily reminder that my attitude is my choice. If you are in need of a little dose of perspective, let her help you remember to choose joy!