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!

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Striving to be Me

Insecurities set in easily in my heart. Inferiority clouds quickly over my head. Yesterday, I informed my husband that a good friend told me Mozart died when he was 35. My husband had informed me previously that Jesus died when He was 33. (He was correcting me when I attempted to inform him that I could still have an impact on the lives of others because Jesus started His ministry at 33 and I’m not quite that old yet.) I asked him how old Princess Diana was when she died. “Aren’t we a little arrogant?” was his response to me. “Huh?” I asked. “…lumping yourself in with Jesus and Mozart... don’t you think that makes you a bit arrogant?” (He was just kidding.)

While I was not attempting to place myself on the same rung of the ladder as Jesus or even Mozart for that matter, I was using them as a standard of measurement for myself. A standard of measurement that will only leave me feeling inferior and insecure mind you.

Rachel Olsen of Proverbs 31 Ministries asks the question “Lord, how can I become content with just who I am, nothing more and nothing less?” You can read her article here. She quotes Matthew 23:11-12, ""Do you want to stand out? Then step down. Be a servant. If you puff yourself up, you'll get the wind knocked out of you. But if you're content to simply be yourself, your life will count for plenty." (MSG)

I need to remember that while it helps to work toward my dreams, I can be content where I am right now. While I wonder why God ever thought it permissible to allow me to be a mother, He wouldn’t have given me these children if He wasn’t going to equip me to be the mom that they need. When I look at my husband and the view of when we fell in love appears foggy, I can thank God for our past together and ask Him to help us today and in the future to remember clearly why we chose to spend this life together. As I write, and insecurities fill up my soul, I can hold tightly to the fact that even if no one else is inspired by what I put into words, it is enough that God uses this to transform me. And when I’m looking around for anyone who will give me a pat on the back, I can remember the example Christ gave as the ultimate servant when He died upon that cross. I don’t need to be acknowledged for what I do. I simply need to do it because I know it is what I am supposed to do.

I need to strive for contentment. God created me to be me. I don’t need to strive to become someone else. I don’t have to be Jill Savage and found an entire ministry for women. I may never write a novel like Jane Austen. It is unlikely that I will ever be remembered as Mother Theresa. Comparing myself to others will only leave me feeling inferior. Making certain I am the best version of who God made me to be, however, leaves me fulfilled.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Freebie Fanatics

My husband is a freebie fanatic. He judges the status of the economy by the amount of free t-shirts he receives at the technical conferences he attends. He views pens, pencils, magnets, and anything anyone is handing out for free as a treasure. Honestly, I view most of the stuff that he brings into our home as junk. It’s good to have pens and I’m happy when he receives t-shirts or baseball caps but the day he attempted to prominently display a tissue box that pathetically transformed into a tissue box “laptop computer” was where I drew the line. There is only so much stuff we can collect in this house.

This past summer, our daughter was walking around our County Fair with her cousin when I heard her inquire at a booth, “Is this stuff free?” [sigh] Maybe it’s hereditary... or maybe it’s contagious.

I have recently found myself entering blog giveaways. While I really did not anticipate that I would actually win anything, the contests are fun to enter. They always give you a little something to hope for.

When I woke up this morning, I was not even thinking about the blog giveaway entry I made yesterday. Excitement filled the air as I saw an e-mail in my inbox from Jill Savage telling me that I won! My cousin and I are going to the What Women Want Now Women’s Expo in Bloomington/Normal. The highlight of the day for my cousin, I’m certain, will be the photo signing with BooBoo Stewart, who plays Seth Clearwater in the Twilight movies. (Not too many, including myself, would know the true appreciation for this moment.) My highlight, on the other hand, will be the “meet and greet” with Jill Savage . As the founder of Hearts at Home, Jill’s authenticity and transparency have been instrumental in my life. My marriage, my relationship with my children and my friendships are better because of Hearts at Home.

I am so excited to spend the day with my cousin. She is not just my cousin, but one of my closest friends. So while I’m learning that free giveaways can be fun, Rod’s little trinkets don’t even begin to compare to my day out!

Sunday, September 12, 2010

National Day of Encouragement

I had no idea that there actually was a "National Day of Encouragement". A new site I came across, (in)courage, is how I learned today is that day. The other day I came across a post about an opportunity to receive free cards from DaySpring so I could use them for this day. Immediately friends came to mind that would benefit from these encouraging cards.

I have friends who I am often thanking God for in my heart but don't take the time often enough to express it in words so that they know. Other friends of mine are going through seasons of life that I cannot even begin to understand but still want them to know I care. Friend after friend comes to my mind that could use some encouragement. Then again, don't we all?

I used to be really good about dropping notes to my friends whenever they would come to mind. With kids entering the picture, I don't take the time as often as I would like to find cards and send them out. It was so nice to receive a pile of cards that I was able to take the time and tell friend after friend that I care. Thank you, (in)courage and DaySpring for encouraging and equipping me to encourage others!

Saturday, September 11, 2010

In the Quiet

There is such peacefulness to the house in the early morning. In those moments where the girls are still asleep, my mind can function in ways I had almost lost hope for. I experience a calm that almost seems unfathomable in mothering young children. I never know whether I should be utilizing this time to exercise, rest, read or write. All I know is that it is in the quiet that my soul is refreshed and renewed.

The quiet today has allowed me to spend time in communication with God, have some conversation with my husband and remember the significance of September 11th. Quiet is difficult to find in today’s world. It almost requires intentional scheduling to experience it in my day.

It is in this quiet, however, that I grow. It is often in the quiet that God grabs a hold of my heart. When there is quiet, I can organize my thoughts, identify my fears, realize my dreams and acknowledge my hope. Morning is my time for quiet; my time to meet God; my time to remember; my time to dream; my time for me. I love the early morning.

Chris Rice has the song “Smellin’ Coffee” that identifies so much with my heart in the morning as well.

Last thing I remember sayin’ bye to yesterday
Glad to see it over, pullin’ covers over my head
But what were You doin’ while I dreamt the night away
‘Cause I can tell that somethin’s different and
My eyes ain’t even open yet

I’m smellin’ coffee, birds are singin’ just outside
Here comes Your mercy streamin’ in with the morning light
My heart is racin’, wakin’ up to Your smile
It’s a good mornin’, good mornin’

I remember readin’ You’re the God who never sleeps
And while I’ve been dreamin’ You’ve been singin’ over me, yeah
Singin’ about my freedom, wakin’ me up to hear Your song
Now I can’t dance hard enough
‘Cause yesterday is gone, gone, gone!

I’m smellin’ coffee, birds are singin’ just outside
Here comes Your mercy streamin’ in with the morning light
My heart is racin’, wakin’ up to Your smile
It’s a good mornin’, good mornin’

Every little breath, every heartbeat
Is a gift of love that You give to me
You keep givin’ even when I’m asleep
‘Cause I know You never stop watchin’ over me
I wake up, my past is gone
‘Cause Your mercy’s new with the mornin’ sun
I’m forgiven, I’m free, it’s a brand new day
‘Cause Your faithfulness is the greatest, hey!

I’m smellin’ coffee, birds are singin’ just outside
Here comes Your mercy streamin’ in with the morning light
My heart is racin’, wakin’ up to Your smile
It’s a good mornin’, good mornin’

Have you taken some time to find quiet lately?

Are there ways that you intentionally schedule some quiet into your day?

Friday, September 10, 2010

Bulk Up?

This qoute was in the Weight Watchers Magazine I read the other day:

"Japanese sumo wrestlers maintain their bulk with late-night eating sessions."

That is certainly a picture to keep in mind when I grab for food mindlessly after the kids are in bed.

Thursday, September 9, 2010


My 2-year-old does a great job of asking for help. While playing with a baby doll, rather than screaming in frustration, she walks over to me and asks, “Help Please Hat?” While I put the hat on her baby doll, I commended her on what a great job she does using her words to ask for help.

A friend of mine sent out an e-mail recently asking for help. Helping her two little boys welcome a new baby sister and brother (twins) into the family has left her feeling a little out of her comfort zone. It is commendable that she was willing to reach out and ask for help from her friends. I, for one, am grateful that she let me know how I could help specifically. Without her request, I probably would not make the time in my schedule to just stop by and know exactly what I could do to help. I’d almost feel as though I were intruding.

This morning I was finding myself irritated as both little girls wanted to help make breakfast. I could feel the tension rising in my body and knew I was about to respond in a not-so-positive fashion. I prayed a prayer asking God to help me keep some perspective.

Sometimes we need to ask for help because we simply don’t know what else to do. While we ask for help, it allows us to grow in our relationships. We are able to interact, give and take, and bond in ways we haven’t before.

I wonder what it would do for my relationship with God if I would simply stop to ask for help a little more often. In those moments where I feel overwhelmed and don’t know where to begin, how would I benefit if I turned to God for some assistance? What give and take would I experience that would help me to grow closer in this relationship?

“Is anyone crying for help? GOD is listening, ready to rescue you. If your heart is broken, you'll find GOD right there; if you're kicked in the gut, he'll help you catch your breath.” – Psalm 34:17-18 (The Message)

Tuesday, September 7, 2010


I'm learning that I like to procrastinate. I think it may be because I pile on too many commitments and I become overwhelmed. Once I am overwhelmed, I don't even really know where to begin... so I don't.

We hosted a birthday party to celebrate my mother-in-law's 70th this Sunday. On Friday, I sat and did nothing. Nothing that related to this bash with about 50 people we were having over, that is. I played around on the computer and washed some laundry and organized some toys - all things that had no bearing on the party. No grocery shopping. No food preparation. No decorating. Nada. Zilch.

Saturday I surprisingly got through the day without yelling at everybody. (My mom was gracious enough to take the kids for a bit so we could get things done.) My goal was to be in bed by midnight. When the clock started ticking away, I could feel the stress level rising. It was my own fault. I had put off to tomorrow what I should have done today. The stress was created because I thought I was going to have to stay home from church to prepare for the party. I didn't want to do that.

I am so glad that I didn't miss church on Sunday. There is something about that community that can revive my soul. I often find myself nodding in agreement with the message presented. This week I was on the brink of tears as my heart connected with what my pastor was saying. We had friends in church who are moving to Texas and I would have kicked myself if I missed that moment to say "goodbye". Church does the body good. I feel my heart, soul and mind refreshed simply because I took about an hour out of my morning to set aside.

It's good to remember that when we set aside time for God, we don't regret it. Not to mention it is usually time for me. I am the one who benefits. I'm the one in need of the relationship with God and the relationships with others. Everything was ready by the time the party started and we had a rewarding day of rest yesterday.

God is reminding me in many different ways that life is good. I need to learn to choose my attitude. I need to learn that tomorrow will be there tomorrow. The past cannot be changed - so don't wallow in it. This moment is where the focus needs to be. For now, that means making some oatmeal for my daughter.

Life is good. The hope of eternal life makes this life so much better.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Andelise is 2!

Two years ago today, Andelise entered our world. These days, you will find her climbing on the sofas (or anything else she can get a foothold on), jumping all over anything with a little bounce (or she makes her own bounce) and even doing somersaults throughout the house. The other day, she even decided to stand in our sandtable (which prompted my mom and sister to gift her with a sandbox for her birthday). Thankfully, she does not climb out of her crib, and I am still able to count on its confines.

I love to watch Ande carry her blanket around in her mouth like a puppy dog. She is still quite attached to her sippy cup which she often requests “more juice” from and laughs an anticipatory nervous “Do I really get to have it?” laugh as I fill it up with 98% water and 2% juice. Still, if I only give her the water, she knows the difference and asks to have her cup opened for juice.

While she was willing to use the potty chair at 18-months, I’m certain I am going to have a battle on my hands when I decide to really buckle down with potty training in the near future. Currently, when I ask if she wants to use the potty chair, she responds with “NO potty chair!” and I explain how she is going to have to use the potty chair and be a big girl like her sisters. Her request then is “candy too?” Maybe there is some hope with bribery involved.

Andelise is our naturalist. She loves to wear as little as possible, enjoys being outside, and seems to appreciate God’s creation as she points out every bird and bug in the yard. The bugs are not appreciated quite as much as she has learned from her sisters to squeal about them but often she simply tells them to “shoo”.

Our little girl is not a shy one and seems attracted to danger. While I am exhausted with the energy this little one has, she brings great joy to our household with all of her antics. She is nonstop from the time she wakes up until the time she lays down again but she usually welcomes sleep which is a relief for me.

Ande likes to get her sisters and her cousins to play ring-around-the-rosy as well as dance around to any music that she hears. We can often catch her singing the tune of Jesus Loves Me which melts our hearts. It amazes me how music can almost always calm her down when she is upset, too.

She has changed Nikelle’s name to “Nell” and likes to boss everyone around. Jaycie’s name is often yelled as Andelise makes her demands. Although, there are moments you can capture them interacting nicely and actually enjoying one another’s company. Our youngest is excited to see anyone walk in the door and greets them with a huge Andelise smile that brightens up the room.

Andelise knows what she wants and doesn’t hesitate to declare it. Rod tells the story in his birthday letter to her about our trip back from Minnesota around Easter where she saw we had chips in the van. She cried, “Chip. Chip. Chiiiip!!” as though she was crawling through a desert looking for water. That is a great description of the moment and often the way she makes demands. It makes one feel guilty for not giving in to her.

We are learning to cherish these toddler moments as they are almost behind us. As she is in a hurry to grow up, we are content just watching her grow, remembering that we only have these moments for a season.

Andelise, you may have been born during a dark moment in our lives, but we are grateful for the ways you have forever brightened them. We thank God for lending you to us and pray you grow up to know Him personally and intimately. We love you!