Sunday, January 1, 2017

New Years Thoughts

I haven't blogged in so long.  I go back and forth on the idea of shutting this blog down for good but, evidently I am not quite ready to part with this little creative space that was such a comfort to me for so many years.

I have had so many thoughts bouncing around in my head lately as we approached this new year.  I am hoping that I will be able to articulate at least a few of them here today to share with you all.  

Life is such a roller coaster isn't it.  It's such an adventure of mountain peaks, falls from that mountain peak, climbs back up and valleys...sometimes long, hard valleys.  We would be foolish to think that we will always stay up on the mountain tops of life but, on the other hand it is also wise to cherish the mountain top seasons.  We also have to find the strength in God to survive in the valley.  To walk through it no matter how long it might take.  Seasons are a part of life.   



I would say that I am in one of those climbing seasons.  A season that I can't quite call a mountain top but, I am overjoyed to say that I am no longer in a valley...today:).  I'm climbing...going wherever God leads me and feeling quite sure that I'm climbing out of something long and hard and into something new and much lighter.  Today, I am not weighted down as much by heartache, sorrow, brokenness or financial burden as I was for so many years.  I say today, because we never know what tomorrow will bring right.  I celebrate this simple moment right now.  Right now I am soaking up January 1st, 2017 to the best of my ability. This quieter moment carved out of my time here on Earth, that isn't so full of pain that every moment feels like drowning.  I know those moments so well.  

Throughout this year I saw a lot of friends walk through valley seasons.  So many were dealt the blow of a very dear loved one passing on.  A friend of mine just lost her husband days before Christmas to cancer.  Another friend of mine just told me that she was just diagnosed with brain cancer a few weeks ago...please keep her in your prayers! Cancer took far too many lives as it so often does.  I saw friends struggle with various hardships and challenges.  So many marriages came to a heartbreaking end.  Some friends battled health issues and chronic debilitating pain, depression, infertility heartache.  And then on a broader scale I just observed the world and all the suffering in it.  It's a lot of hurt.  I know that hurt.  Or at least I have tasted it.  More importantly, Jesus knows that hurt better than anyone. 

In stark contrast, I celebrated the mountain top seasons with many friends. I celebrated the miracle of life with many friends and family members as they shared pregnancy announcements or gave birth to one of the greatest gifts life can bring...a precious child.  I celebrated birthdays, weddings, marital victories (praise you Jesus!), my own sister's cancer free report at the end of 2016 (Hallelujah!!).  I celebrated that my own home life and marriage have come so far over the past few years.  I celebrated that I was even in a place in life that I could enjoy celebrating a little bit this past year.  That last revelation made my heart leap with gratitude over and over again.  

For so many years celebrating felt so hollow and contrived.  For so many years I was too weak to put on the mask and pretend like life is always a picnic but, I did it anyways.  Every time I put that mask on to please the people I felt myself dying more and more inside   In this superficial, social media driven culture that we live in, we quickly realize that going through hard times publicly is unpopular and a downer to other people.  It makes people uncomfortable when someone airs their "dirty laundry," and it seems to send a silent message, "steer clear of that person! They have problems and their life is a mess.  They are too emotional.  They are depressed.  They are a kill joy."  So people hide their trouble.  People suffer in silence.  They pretend on the outside and break quietly on the inside.

Oh but, if you only know how close Jesus is to the broken, the lonely and the lost.  He...is...so....close to you.  He takes that mask that you have put on every day to please the people and he throws it in the fire and he pulls you into His arms and holds you as you weep.  He holds you as you cry, for days, weeks and even years. He never lets go when life gets ugly.  He understands that losing a child....or a loved one unexpectedly is not something that you just get over in a day.  He knows that you might struggle with a loss for the rest of your Earthly days.  He knows that watching a loved one battle cancer for years and years is not an easy load to carry.  He knows that longing ache for a child doesn't get easier with each passing year.  He knows the pain of loneliness as you wait for a love to share your life with. He knows that some seasons in life are long and hard and He isn't turned off by your pain.  He is walking with you in it.  He did walk in it...Up the hill of calvary and on to the splintered, nail-pierced cross.  He is with you, always.  

I may not be in the valley today but, I still know the pain of it so well I can taste it.  I saw the valley pain on the faces of so many friends and loved ones this year.  I don't ever want to get to a point that I have lost the ability to walk in the valley with a friend because I am too wrapped up on my mountain top bubble.  Can we enjoy the mountain top seasons and still walk in the valley with the broken?  Can we stop being so afraid of pain that we run from those whose lives are riddled with it?  

As I approached the new year I asked the Lord what word He had for me this year.  I often feel like the Lord puts a word on my heart at the start of each new year.  This word often comes to me after prayer and Bible reading.  One year my word was rest.  This was at a time that my hubby was still very sick and battling through late stage lymes disease, medical bills were sky high and life was just very, very hard.  I had literally zero strength left but, as a Christian I felt guilty if I wasn't still constantly doing something, serving and saying yes to everything.  BUT God, told me to rest and told me to learn to say no.  It was a hard word to submit to that year but, it just might have saved my feeble sanity. Rest....when, God says it, listen to him.  He knows best.  

A couple of years later I was given the word organization.  Maybe some of us think of a neat and tidy house but, that was only the surface of what the word meant for me.  I was meant to focus on taking back my broken life and organizing it one piece at a time.  That did translate into a house wide purge, a better system for planning and keeping track of information as well as getting order back in my marriage and spiritual life. If your life is feeling especially chaotic or out of control then maybe organization might be a good word for you! 

Early in December I was reading my Bible and I read a passage out of Hebrews Chapter 12 verses 1-3.  I've probably read this passage a dozen times or more but, this time the words jumped off the page, grabbed my shoulders and shook me while saying, "are you listening?  I'm talking to you here!"  It wasn't exactly like that but, then again it sort of was.  For those who have the ears to hear...the Bible is so alive it's scary (scary awesome) sometimes.  Watch out.  God is always talking and I guarantee He has something that He wants to say that is just for you. 

Now, keep in mind that this passage was meant for me in that moment.  It may be that it is not meant for anyone else right in this moment but, I am sharing anyways...well, because I want to.  

Hebrews 12:1-3  "Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles.  And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.  Fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith.  For the joy set before him He endured the cross, scorning its shame and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. 3. Consider Him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart."  

It wasn't the entire passage that jumped out at me initially but, the simple, "let us throw off everything that hinders," part of the verse.  That was it. 

I sat there a little stunned by how much the words resonated with me and then read the passage over and over again.  Then I started asking God why He let the passage jump out at me.  What did He want me to do with the words that I was hearing as if for the first time?  

I am coming out of a long season of pain and valley and I'm in the climb again.  What helps us to climb again?  Throwing off the things that are holding us down.  I quite literally COULD NOT throw anything off last year, or the year before, or the year before that...and so on.  God understands that we can't always flip a switch on our pain and climb.  Sometimes walking in the pain is an inescapable part of our life process and journey.  Many of us are completely re-shaped and re-made by the pain of the valley.  God also knows the EXACT moment at which YOU ARE READY to climb out and up.  He is with us, every single step of the way.  

I had a lot of fun reflecting on these verses.  What is hindering me from experiencing more joy?  What is hindering me from sharing all of the things that God puts on my heart?  What am I afraid of? 

The truth kind of embarrassed me because, I didn't even see it.  

I'm way too afraid of people and what people think of me.  

Whaaaaa...honestly, it isn't something that I have ever thought of as a problem.  I am a friendly, social person and I love people.  I don't really have issues with people on the personal level of interaction.  If you meet me...watch out, because I will befriend you...all of you. lol....kidding not kidding...

On the other hand, there is public speaking .  It is literally my biggest fear....I think I just got nauseated thinking about it. Uggg...But even that didn't feel like everything that I was supposed to get out of this revelation. 

I also have so many friends and family members who do not believe in Jesus and thus I am always trying to find a loving balance (and failing miserably) between respecting all of our differences but, also enjoying the freedom to be me, someone who loves Jesus and whose identity is quite literally woven in Him.  I love talking about my faith and what God is doing but, I also don't want people to think that I am trying to force Him on them.  That is never my motive.  I just love telling stories, writing, sharing and being a Christ-follower.  I don't expect everyone to agree with my faith and I hope people that know me best know that my intention is to share love and my motivation is to be encouraging to others. 

I also get embarrassed that I analyze life so much and that I can be so sensitive to the pain of others.  It would be great to be a super silly, light-hearted person but, I am not sure if I will ever be that person nor that I was meant to be.  I am able to love on certain people because of how God made me and in the same manner you were made the way you are to love on and bless other people.  And if we all walk freely in who we are in Him, we just might make a real heck of a difference in this world.  What a beautiful, beautiful thing.  

FREEDOM.

That is my word for 2017.  Freedom.  

The first step is seeing the words when God gives them, then receiving them in our hearts and then declaring and claiming them in our lives. 

I wrote all of this because my heart's desire will always be to make sure that people in the valley know just how loved they are by God....and by me.  

You may be in a new valley.  If so, I pray that you would ask God to hold you close and give you strength for each and every pain filled day.  He is with you! He loves you!  He hears you!  I pray that your valley season is not long and I pray that you hold tightly to the truth that you can walk through this in Him and with Him.  One day at a time you can walk this hard walk through to the other side. And don't forget to put on your armor (Ephesians 6:10-18) every day, because the battle is for real.  

 Maybe you have been in a valley for some time.  If so, I pray that you begin to see a new light shining off in the distance. I pray that your time to climb out is coming soon.  Glory to God I pray it's coming soon.  Keep marching.  Keep pressing on.  He is with you!  He loves you!  He hears you! 

And then I felt this on my heart...loud and clear.  

God's people CAN DO HARD THINGS.  What do I mean by that?  Well, it was a reminder to me that I serve an all powerful, all knowing, supernatural God.  I think that so many Christians are discouraged (as I was for SO dang long) and need to be reminded that just like the little engine who could and who said, "I think I can, I think I can...,"  In Christ, WE CAN and we need to KNOW in our spirit that we can.  In Christ, we are loved just as we are.  In Christ, we are never alone.  In Christ, we have all that we need.  In Christ we are conquerors.  In Christ, We are able to face tomorrow because WE KNOW who holds tomorrow and all that ETERNITY holds for us.  In Christ, we can walk through the valley and trust that He can see what we cannot.  

I was so sick over Christmas break but, my Momma who I have not seen in a year and a half was here with me.  My Momma is amazing.  She is the reason I know Jesus and she is such a great counselor and friend.  She made breakfast for all of us each morning; she played with the kiddos a lot to keep them out of my hair, she folded laundry, she emptied the dishwasher, she gave me back messages and foot messages...she loved on me in my sickness and you know what...it was the most wonderful Christmas in spite of having the flu. 

I reflected on that for a while too.  Having someone so comforting and loving around in my suffering made it not just bearable but, possible and I even enjoyed my time a little bit too.  It was a little Christmas miracle. 

And so to, we have CHRIST to comfort and love on us in our suffering always.  Maybe sometimes we need to be more intentional about inviting him to sit next to us on the couch for a chat.  Or inviting him to hold us while we weep.  Maybe we need to invite Him to speak to us by reading our Bibles or spending time with Him in prayer.  Maybe we push Him away more than we realize?   Maybe we choose just about everything but, Him to fill our void when we are hurting and we wonder why we don't feel His presence more.  I've sure been there and I'm sure I will be there again someday as life is so full of circles. 

The good news is...that is what we are all here for!  To encourage one another on in our races and to remind each other of all the things that we so easily forget when times get hard.    

For some, 2017 is looking like a year full of excitement and possibility!  For others it is just another year of trial and heartache.  Wherever you are at, God is with you and His love for you is infinitely deeper than your deepest valley and infinitely higher than your highest mountain top.  

I pray that regardless of what resolutions you may have made or not made, that you feel God moving in your life this year more powerfully than the last.  That you recognize His great love for you more clearly than past years.  That we would all grow and throw off the things that hinder us and the sin that entangles us and run our races with perseverance. 

Because Christ endured the Cross WITH JOY for us because HE KNEW what the outcome was.  He knew that he could take the torture, the pain and even conquer death because it was worth what He could give us in return....eternal life and a Heavenly paradise.  

"How great is the love that the Father has lavished on us that we should be called children of God!"
1 John 3:1

Much love to you all. Whatever steps you take this year, take them with Him. xo














Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Hello



I'm thankful for a recent picture of me and the kiddos.  I was taking pictures of Bruin for his 1.5 year session and asked my hubby to snap a quick picture of me and the kids.  Such a treat.  I'm also thankful that we were all smiling and no one was faking a thing. Woohoo! It was a good day!   

Today I am answering 50 Questions that are circling the blogsphere for fun. 

50 Questions 
  1. Are you a morning or night person? Neither.  I have never, ever, ever enjoyed getting up early and I have never, ever enjoyed staying up much later than 11.  Even as a child I avoided sleep overs because I never had the energy to stay up and chat all hours of the night with the other girls.  I am a 9-7 person, I guess.  
  2. Do you prefer, sweet or salty foods?  More often than not I am a salty food lover however; there are certain times of the month that a girl just needs her sweets. Hint, hint.  
  3. Ninjas or pirates? Ninjas duh. 
  4. Ninjas vs pirates, discuss.   When I think of Pirates I just think of dirty old men that steal and pillage.  Except for Jake and the Never land Pirates.  He's cute and sweet.  Anyways, Ninjas are more like super heroes.  C'mon they are cool.    
  5. Autobots or Decepticons?  I'm all about dem Autobots...Love me some Optimist Prime and Bumblebee....
  6. What was your favorite childhood television program? I loved a lot of different shows.  I enjoyed McGee and Me, Adventures in Odyseey, Anne of Avonlea (the TV show) and Little House on the Prairie.  Yes, I'm proud to say that I loved each and every one of those shows.  
  7. Are you a collector of anything? When I was a child I collected a lot more things than I do now.  I loved Collecting Lisa Frank products, pencils, doll clothes and pretty rocks.  Now as an adult I try not to collect because, I hate clutter but, I do enjoy coffee cups, books, jewelry and journals.
  8. If you could be any animal, what would you be? A bird.  I want to soar high up in the sky with the wind under my wings and then dive like an arrow just for the thrill of it. I'm sure I would get eaten by a larger animal or shot by a hunter pretty quickly (LOL) but, I'd enjoy the ride while it lasted.  
  9. If you could have any superpower, what would it be? I have never been able to answer this because I couldn't settle for just one power.  I want to be Superman...so all of his powers would be awesome thank you.
  10. What is usually your first thought when you wake up? "Ok, whew another day.  Here we go. Help me sweet JESUS to be a blessing to my kids and husband and whoever you put in my path today."  
  11. What do you usually think about right before falling asleep? I think about way too many things.  It might be about whatever show I just finished watching on TV, it might be about politics and how  much it grieves me....or the state of our world today.  I might be thinking about my kids and wondering how they are doing or my hubby or our marriage.  The last thing I try to think on is a prayer, so that I can let it all go and then go to sleep.  
  12. What's your favorite color? I like different colors for different purposes.  I like wearing blue, aqua, black and white a lot.  I like decorating with blue, green, brown, yellow and white.  I also love bright colors for accents around the house.  I love the soft pink in my daughter's room and the soft sea blue/green in my son's room.  My current least favorite color is orange but, next year it could be my favorite.  I am always changing my mind about color.   
  13. What's your favorite animal? I would probably have a pet cat if I wanted a pet to take care of which I don't currently.  I also enjoy the birds outside tremendously.  I am definitely a bird lover.   I really enjoy ALL animals but, I am not a big fan of caring for household pets.  
  14. Do you believe in extraterrestrials or life on other planets? Only in the Heavenly realm.  Angels are very real as is God and I'm not sure what they look like but, that would definitely qualify as life outside of this planet.  
  15. Do you believe in ghosts? No, but, again angels and the spirit world is something I don't understand.  Perhaps people have mistaken angels for ghosts! 
  16. Ever been addicted to a video/computer game? I have never been a game junkie but, I have played many, many games in my days.  I loved super mario world and cart as a kid and currently we play Zelda and Wii sports. 
  17. If you were given 1 million dollars, what do you spend it on?  The boring answer...I would invest it and live off interest most likely.  I know how quickly money goes so I try to be cautious when I have it.  But, okay for the sake of blowing cash I would buy a bigger home with a beautiful pool in the backyard.  I'd like a ski boat and the hubby would want a sweet bass fishing boat and a big fancy truck or jeep.  I'd try to convince my family to move near me by offering to by them a house.  I'd love to donate money to different charities that I support and then I'd use the rest to travel the world with my little fam bam.  
  18. Have any bad habits? I think my bad habits are more internal...in my head.  I am pretty hard on myself as a Christian, a mother and a person.  I am ever learning how to extend myself the same grace that I try to extend to others.   
  19. Which bad habits, if any, drive you crazy?  Honestly, the bad habits that drive me crazy are people criticizing each other so ruthlessly and thinking they have all their own stuff together....c'mon y'all.  
  20. List 3 of your best personality traits:  I love to encourage people and remind people how amazing they really are because I know how much we all need to hear that every single day.  I am a pretty patient person.  I love people...all people, very much.   
  21. List 3 of your worst personality traits:  I'm overly sensitive.  I can read too much into something someone says or does which gets my brain on a hamster wheel.  
  22. Have any celebrity crushes? Nope.   Of course I am not blind to the fact that there are lots of attractive people in the world but, I aim not to crush on anyone but, the one I've got.  
  23. List 1 thing you wish you could change about yourself: Just one thing?  Ummm....I would love to be less afraid of public speaking.  My fear has held me back from so many opportunities.  I would also love to have longer legs...just being real...I could have listed 10 body things I'd love to change but, I'll just leave it with the legs.  I must add though that the older I get, the less and LESS I care about my body image...it's just getting older, saggier and grayer so I gotta embrace it for what it is.  
  24. Any tattoos or piercings?  No tattoos.  I'm not opposed to them at all but, I don't think I ever want to get one.  I have two ear piercings in each ear and that is all.  I like simple.  
  25. What's the first thing you notice in the opposite sex? Face.  Are the eyes kind and welcoming and immediately after I notice quickly if they have a warm or cold personality.
  26. Whats your dream date? A good dinner out and a movie.  That's it.  Again, I like keeping life simple.  Now if the date was out of this country and in Europe that would be awesome.   
  27. What personality traits do you look for in a partner? I was drawn to my husband's extroverted personality, his persistent nature, his adventure spirit and his humor.  
  28. What personality traits do you dislike in other people?  Judgemental.  Why do so many people criticize others for the pettiest things when they themselves have so much junk to work on in their own life.  Focus on growing yourself and loving others as they are...period.  
  29. Do you see yourself getting married in the next 5 years? done. check. 
  30.  Are you mostly a clean or messy person?  Clean!  I prefer a clean house, clean clothes and a good shower.  I don't mind if other people have messy homes etc. but, as for me and my house...we keep it clean. 
  31. If you could live anywhere in the world, where would you live?  Ideally I would like to move to a different place ever 3 years or so.  I would live in Hawaii for a few years, then Europe, then different states in the US, then Italy, then Greece and so on.  That would be so awesome!  Unfortunately, jobs and income don't really allow for that. 
  32. If you could visit anywhere in the world, where would you go? Maui, Hawaii, Europe, Greece, Italy, Africa, Mexico and pretty much all the islands.  
  33. List 5 goals on your life's to-do list: Finish college and get my degree in Psychology. Write my book. Take my kiddos on a missions trip. Travel to a few dream destinations.  Strive to live a content life regardless of my circumstances.  
  34. Name 1 regret you have: not being more confident when I was younger.  I had to grow up to build it! 
  35. Name 1 thing you miss about being a kid: Someone else cooking the meals every night:) 
  36. Name 1 thing you love about being an adult: So much.  The freedom to make my own choices.  
  37. What's your favorite song of the moment? I have been listening to David Crowder and Third Day lately.  I don't have a particular song that stands out as a favorite.  
  38. What's your favorite song of all time? I could never have a favorite for that long...
  39. What's your favorite thing to do on a Saturday night? I have two small kids who kick my butt all day...Soooo, I like to put them to bed and then recover from the long day by sitting on the couch eating a treat and watching a show with my hubby.  Bliss. 
  40. What's your favorite thing to do on a Sunday afternoon? Church with the fam and then a family nap/rest after and lastly a yummy dinner together.  Maybe a swim at our community pool. Low key.  
  41. Have any hidden talents?  I can touch my tongue to the tip of my nose with ease;)
  42. You're about to walk the green mile, what do you have as your last meal? Sushi, strawberry short cake and a Pepsi. lol  
  43. What would be your dream job? What I do...stay at home Mom. If I didn't have littles at home I would love to be a traveling motivational speaker, or faith focused teacher for women groups and churches (assuming public speaking didn't terrify me...)
  44. Which would you rather have, 100 million dollars or true love?  The only true love I know of comes from knowing Jesus...money, meh...I can live without it.  
  45. If you could have 3 wishes granted, what would they be? Just one...world peace:)...that would basically mean that the rapture has happened and we are now in Heaven.  
  46. Ever wish you were born the opposite sex? Not that I can recall
  47. Name 1 thing not many people know about you:  Oh gosh I don't know...I am not a fan of chick flicks or country music...doesn't mean I can't stand them but, I will choose something else if given an option.  
  48. If you HAD to change your name, what would you change it to? I have no idea.....I could sit here all day trying to think of another name I would like.  
  49. Do you believe in the afterlife? I hope that anyone who knows me...knows my answer to this already.  100% yes...Heaven and Hell are both fo reals.  
  50. On the topic of abortion, how do you feel about cookies?  This is a very interesting question....ummmm....I am pro-life y'all and not ashamed of it one bit BUT, my strong feelings on this issue do not in any way lessen my love for pro-choicers or women who have had an abortion.  I love  y'all and I would never think less of you because we don't see eye to eye on this...but, I am gonna fight to protect those who do not have a voice to fight for themselves.  And cookies....I LOVE THEM...fresh baked cookies are a weakness of mine.  I'll take them over ice cream ANY DAY!  

Monday, June 6, 2016

Bruin is 1.5 (Happy Half Birthday Buddy!)

(I'm posting this two months late because that is my blogging average now. lol.)

One and a half is already here!  I'll be serving this kid a cupcake with two candles on it in a blink!

We took the little guy to a local lake for his 1.5 year session.  It was a really beautiful day but, it was quite warm and sticky so I had low expectations.  Bruin isn't the kind of kiddo to sit and smile for a camera but, I got lucky!  I brought his teddy along and he loved that we were somewhere new and that he got to sit on a special stool.  He gave us some of his sweetest smiles and facial expressions.  I melted.  And then he took off down the deck.  Happy boy = Happy Momma.

I sure do adore this little boy.  


Bruin weighed 24.5 pounds at his 18 month checkup.  He was >? (need to retrieve data!) inches long.  He is growing great!

Bruin's favorite things to do:

Dance.  This boy loves dancing.  Anytime Bruin hears a tune playing on a TV, tablet or cell phone, he  immediately throws one arm up in the air and starts waving it around.  He also has this one foot stomp motion that goes along with the hand swaying in the air.  When I am holding him he will bounce to the music in my arms.  If he is walking around he usually dances around in a circle while shaking his booty.  It's the cutest thing ever!! I love having a dancing kiddo.

Watch shows.  One of the very first words Bruin learned to speak was, "show."  He points up at the TV and softly says, "shoooowww."  When we are in the car he points at the DVD player and says the same thing.  He likes to watch Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, Psalty's Praise, Wiggles and Mother Goose Club.  Basically any musical show is his favorite.  No other shows keeps his attention.  He loves to eat a little snack on the living room floor while watching a show.  

Play outside.  He loves exploring the weeds, grass, rocks and dirt.  He is a typical boy and I love it.  Yesterday, during Daisy's tennis lesson, I took Bruin to an abandoned dirt lot full of gravel and weeds.  He had the best time throwing rocks, pulling weeds (yes, both of my children love pulling weeds because I LOVE pulling weeds. LOL), and playing in the dirt.  He doesn't like having pebbles or dirt on his hands though so he would then wipe his dirty hands on my shorts.  It cracked me up.  He also likes to kick a ball around in the backyard and climbing up and down on his little slide over and over and over again.

He loves to brush his teeth.  We pulled the stool out of the closet for him to use and now he climbs up and grabs his own tooth brush and toothpaste.  Then he brushes his teeth or plays in the sink for a little bit.  It passes time and it is teaching him a useful skill.  Win. Win. 


He finally enjoys taking baths.  I had no idea a kid could despise bath time as long as Bruin did.  He would take a bath but, he never enjoyed it and mostly he whined to get out the entire time.  Now when I ask him if he'd like to take a bath he gets excited and walks to the bathroom and stands beside the tub and waits.  He loves to sit right up next to the spout with his big pitcher and cup and he collects the water as it pours and then pours it back and forth from cup to pitcher.  He loves pouring things out.  He also loves to have me put a dab of shampoo, lotion or soap on his hand.  He loves just staring at it on his hand.  I have repeatedly showed him how to rub it on his other arm or to wash it off.  Then he grunts for more.  Good times.

We went to the great wolf lodge recently and Bruin was far too overstimulated by the noise and the splashing water everywhere.  He likes things to be quieter and more mellow at this point.   I'm not sure if it is an actual sensory issue or if Bruin is just a sensitive kiddo which is could be the case. We also tried playing in the sprinkler in the backyard but, he didn't like the suddenness of the water getting him each time it came back around.  We went to the pool a week ago and it was freezing still.  Of course he hated it.  He must get that from his mom.  Sorry buddy.  He sat on the step with me and seemed to enjoy that well enough.  We are going to try and go back to the pool when it warms up a bit and see if he likes it more then.  Hope so!

Bruin likes to do new things and he likes variety.  If I keep him occupied and constantly change up the activities then he is happiest but, I find that exhausting.  I created a sensory bin for him last week and it was probably the happiest I have seen him in a long time.  He sat for an hour and played with the beans and cups!  He likes to be challenged.  I have noticed how quickly Bruin picks up on things.  If I show him how to do a task like put all the marbles in a cup and then put the lid on and shake it, he can instantly repeat the task.  So, pray that God gives me energy to come up with new and creative things to do with this little guy to help him thrive and to keep him busy!  lol

Bruin is just starting to get to the point that he will "play," a little bit with Daisy.  He loves to follow her into her room and get into her stuff.  It blows my mind how patient and tolerant she is of him.  I think she just really enjoys having a sibling and she loves having someone to play with even a little bit.  Recently the two of them discovered that they could take the shelf out of the oven in her kitchen set.  Then they took turns sitting in the pretend oven and closing the door on each other and waving through the window.  Sounds rather odd to type that out but, it was ridiculously cute to watch and don't worry, I don't leave either of them alone for fear that Daisy might keep Bruin in the oven a little longer than necessary.  He'd survive but, meh, I'm not gonna chance it;).  Daisy is unbelievably gentle with Bruin.  She is a very affectionate kiddo, so he gets loves of cuddles, hugs and kisses from big sis.  He also gets back messages.  Daisy is on a kick that she loves to give us a message.  It feels nothing like a message but, shhhh don't tell her that.  We just love that she has such a kind heart and she is trying to do a nice thing.

He prefers being held 98% of the day.  I truly think that he is miserable a lot of the time and I think being held is the most comfortable place for him to be.  I don't know if his fussiness is because he has a low pain tolerance level and teething drives him crazy or if he is a sensory kiddo who is bothered easily by the stimulus around him.  He does get ear infections a lot due to teething and I know from experience how horrific ear infections can be.  Two weeks ago he actually ruptured his ear drum.  I feel terrible because I had no idea he was battling an ear infection prior to that because he cries all the time already so it's so hard to know what is bothering him on any given day.  I had been giving him motrin for his teething at night so I hope that helped a little bit.  We got him on an antibiotic and he seemed happier after a few days but, then he returned to his rather fussy self and again, I wonder if he is hurting or just not the happiest baby in the world.  It's so hard to know.  He will occasionally have a really happy day and I kid you not those are some of my happiest days in the past year and a half as well.  When I see him having a good day, smiling, laughing and enjoying himself I feel like I've been handed a thousand bucks.  I hope for more and more and more days like that for this cute little boy of mine.  I do so love him...so, so, so, so much.


Bruin loves his stuffed animals.  He is soothed by them.  We often take one on a car ride and he has a few in his crib to snuggle with at night.  He gives them big squeeze hugs and his face lights up with a big smile whenever we hand him one.  The best.

He wears size 18-24 month clothes from Old Navy and mostly 18 month everywhere else.  To be honest 18 month can still be a bit big but, 12 months is definitely too snug now.  He wears size 5 shoes with some room to grow.  Size 5 Target diapers.

He still goes to bed at around 7 and sleeps until around 6:30 most days.  I can usually get him to hang in his crib until 7 but, that is his absolute max.  He is not a sleep in type of kid.  Bummer dude.  And if you are wondering, we have tried keeping him up later in hopes of getting a more restful morning in but, nope...he rises at the same time no matter what time he goes to bed at night.  That being said, I am pretty intentional about keeping him on this schedule because I desperately need the down time before bed to decompress a little bit.  Bru naps from around 12 ish until around 2:30 depending on the day. We pick Daisy up from the bus at 3:30 which is why I don't push for a later start to his afternoon nap at this point.

Bruin loves to eat but, he is rather picky.  I have a hard time getting him to eat meat of any kind and vegetables are almost always a big fat no.  I have gotten him to eat canned green beans as long as I remember to give him a fork to feed himself.  He will also eat chicken nuggets in small pieces so long as I remember to give him lots of ketchup to dip the pieces in.  He loves ketchup and "dip-dip," as we call it. He will dip anything in ketchup if given the opportunity.  When he is done dipping his food he usually picks up the plate and sticks his entire face in the ketchup in attempt to get a good lick.  Hilarious.  Bruin loves to eat fruit.  His current favorites are strawberries, blueberries, watermelon, grapes, and mandarin oranges (from the can).  He also loves hawiaan sweet bread rolls.  He enjoys holding an entire sandwich by himself and eating it.  He like pb&j and a cheese sandwich.  He is not a fan of sandwich meat.  He will also eat just about anything that I am eating, even if it is something that he wouldn't eat if I set it on his tray.  Simply because I am eating it, he must also eat it by default.  Kids are so funny.  He did not ,however; like the avocado that I was eating last night.  He shuddered violently after getting a tiny bite.  So, no to avocado evidently.  lol  He loves sweets!  He can eat anything with sugar all day long.  Daisy was never my sweets kiddo.  She was super picky about cake and donuts etc.  Bruin will devour anything sweet...anything.


We set his teddy off down the trail and had him go "fetch" it for us so that he had something fun to do.  He loved this game and we got some great candid shots and expressions in the process.  My favorite kind of photography.

Bruin definitely has a bit of separation anxiety at this point and he is also a total Momma's boy.  More often than not a kiddo who spends a lot of time with a stay at home mom is going to have a season of attachment.  That is where we are at. I went through this for about 1.5 years with Daisy but, I forsee this phase lasting longer with Bruin because he is far more emotional than Daisy was.  If I walk out of the room and even leave Bruin with Daddy he has a full blown hysterical melt down and it takes him a while to move on.  He hates going to the church nursery and he cries off and on the entire time.  I dread going to church because the entire rest of the day gets thrown off because of his rough morning at church but, we survive I suppose.  It makes things harder for sure but, it is a phase and someday this too will pass.  Plus, I can't complain that my son adores me and loves to snuggle his momma.  That is priceless and worth it all!

  We adore Bruin's eyes. Both the color and the shape. His eyes are shaped like little almond, tear drops. Oh how this little boy melts me.

Happy 1.5 birthday buddy!  You are growing up so fast, I can hardly believe it.  You are the cutest little guy and you have Mommy wrapped around your finger...even if you are the biggest handful ever.  Love you my little prince.
xoxo,
Mommy. 

Saturday, May 7, 2016

My Mother's Day Blessings



 These are definitely my new favorite pictures of my kiddos. I LOVED the way the light was pouring in all around this spot but, at the same time I loved that I had a nice shade patch for the kids to walk around in. And Bruin even looked at the camera like twice! What a great Mother's Day gift to me! hehe

 Happy Mother's Day to all of the amazing Moms both in our family, in our circle of friends and in all the world!! Thank you for all that you do to love on your kids and families! Every drop of love that you pour out makes this world a better place.  God Bless you for all that you do.  I am blessed to know so many strong, giving, loving and selfless women.  I love you all and I hope you have a wonderful day being celebrated.  xoxo

*******************

Being a momma is such incredibly hard work.  It's bone weary, gray hair and wrinkle inducing,  brain frying hard.   Every Momma would agree to this and they would probably also point out that I am being far to gentle in my description here.  lol.  

But I also think that every Momma would agree that motherhood's rewards are made up of priceless treasures that money could never buy.

 The gifts that these little people pour into our weary hearts is so rewarding.  Every time they smile.  Every time they snuggle up to us.  Every time they scribble us a little note or love letter.  Every time they get hurt and run to us because they know that we are the only ones who will kiss the boo boos just right.  Every time they wrap their little arms around our necks as we swoop them off to bed.  Every time they point at something new and stare with such an expression of wonderment.  Every time they show love to each other and we get to see a tiny glimpse of our hard work paying off.  Every time they breathe and we simply appreciate the fact that they are okay.  Every time they sing on stage with their class.  Every mother/child tea in preschool.  Every thoughtful gift and every slobbery kiss.  Every time they call us on the phone when we are away.  Every time they come to us for advice and encouragement.  Every time they say, "you are the best mom in the wold world."

What a gift these little wild ones are.

What a sweet gift motherhood is.


(Below: Daisy is not smiling her usual over the top smile here but, I promise she was actually having a lot of fun with Bruin;) 


Thursday, April 21, 2016

Daisy is SIX!!

Our little girl is six!

How is it that when our kids are just one day older than they were the day before it feels like so much more time has passed??  

Daisy woke up on her birthday extra early and walked out to see all the decorations I had put up the night before in the dining room and in her bedroom.  She was beaming.  She kept putting her hands on top of her head and standing up really straight and saying, "Mom, I am totally taller now that I am six, than I was when I was five."  I can barely handle that much cuteness!!! She was so excited to go to school and be taller...I did try to gently explain to her that while she does grow a bit taller every day, that she might not have grown that much taller since yesterday.  She seemed to accept that explanation and we moved on to presents and her special birthday breakfast of chocolate chip waffles with strawberries and whip cream.  I don't think she liked it very much because she hardly touched it.  This girl cracks me up.  

It is often said that our kids shouldn't be our friends because we are supposed to be their parent first.  Well, while I agree with that to an extent and I do want my daughter to respect my authority, I also believe that we are laying the foundation for our friendship each and every day.  I want to be friends with my daughter when she is an adult and the only way I see that happening is if she knows that I see her as a friend now as well.  I'm not sure if I am making any sense but, that is the best way I can explain it.   I love planting seeds in our friendship garden by going on dates with my daughter and chatting with her at night about all the odd and random things that float through her brain.  I love taking her with me and involving her in the things that are important to me so that she will learn that she is also important to me.  

Anyways, I'm very grateful that God gave us Daisy.  She is not a perfect kiddo by any means but, she is an awesome kiddo.  She has a beautiful, kind and big, heart.  She is an amazing big sister to Bruin and she has been a joy to parent.  Exhausting (wink)...but, an absolute joy.

And by the way, I adore this picture of my big girl. 


Daisy has grown up so much over the past year.  It's probably a mixture of a lot of things but, definitely the big contributors were her promotion to big sister and her first year in public school.

Right before my eyes Daisy has transformed from the princess and tea party obsessed little girl to the older but, still very little girl who wants to be a teacher, an artist or a decorator and she is obsessed with Transformers right now...WHAaaaa? lol  Works for me.  I love them too.  

 She spends much of her time collecting office supplies and stapling pieces of paper together so that she can create books.  She is a girl after her Momma's own heart for sure.  

She often tells me where decorations or furniture should be moved or what colors I should paint the walls in the different rooms in our house.  She definitely has an eye for design! 

She recently started an art wall gallery in her room.  It was all her idea.  She just taped one of her drawings to her wall one day and now she has probably over 15 drawings taped to the wall and they are really impressive drawings!  I love that she is creating her own space in her room and that she is enjoying her room so much.  She also has a CD player in her room and I passed on a bunch of my Christian music CD's.  I actually have most the CD's from my teen years still to this day so it is a treat to share them with Daisy.  She loves listening to Mandisa's Overcomer album and Brit Nicole's Gold album.  She also got a Veggie Tales sound track recently from Lulu and she listened to it over and over again for days.  It blesses my heart so much to hear my daughter belting out worship songs while she hangs in her room.   

She loves playing games on our tablet.  At this present moment her favorite games are Shopkins and Pet Buddies.  I would say that Pet Buddies is her favorite game of all time and it is a game that I would have loved as a little girl.  You get to buy clothes and furniture and decorate rooms and dress your pets.  It's basically like a really souped up version of the paper dolls that I played with as a little girl.  This kid is so lucky! lol

Her favorite shows are the Rescue Bots, Transformers cartoon, Miles (on Disney),  Inspector Gadget the cartoon,  Wiggles with Bruin...(I think she has a kindergarten crush on Anthony and Sam because she told me that she wants to have two boys so that she can name them by the same names!  I think it's adorable:).  She also watches plenty of all of the Disney cartoons like Sophia, Doc etc. because we have the ap. on the tablet.

Joey and I enjoy watching Fixer Upper together and Daisy has taken notice of this.   We only watch it after she goes to bed but, we talk about it a lot.  A few days ago she asked if she could watch Fixer Upper on the Tablet.  I think she was curious about all the fuss we make over it.  She sat through 20 minutes of it and I could tell that she was a bit bored but, she was so determined to watch something that her Mom and Dad watch because she wanted to be able to talk about the show with us.  Isn't it amazing how much kids want to be so much like their mom and dad...for a brief while.  I am glad that Fixer Upper is a fun and harmless show and I thought it was the cutest thing that she wanted to watch it.  She hasn't asked to watch it again since though...hahaha. 

I am thinking about starting a series like Little House on the Praire with Daisy sometime soon.  She has never watched much of anything other than cartoons up to this point in her life and while she doesn't seem to mind just watching Disney cartoons, I think something like LHOTP could be something that might intrigue her and teach her about what life used to be like.  Plus, I love that the family has strong faith.   Those types of shows are practically non-existent now days.  I also watched Little House on the Prairie as a kiddo.  I've been waiting for the day that I could watch it with one of my own kiddos...how am I this old?? oye.  

Daisy's favorite colors are pink, purple, aqua, gold and red.   She said she likes red because it is a Christmas color and that makes it pretty....she has never liked red until this year.  But, I would definitely say that she is still very much a pink girl overall.  Having a girly girl like Daisy has been so much fun.  I have gotten such a wonderful dose of dress up, sparkles, dolls, princesses and sweetness.  I wouldn't want it any other way.

We signed her up for tennis lessons a little over a month ago and she is loving it so far.  It seems like a perfect sport for her personality so I hope we can keep up with it.  I told her that I would sign up for a class as well so that I can learn the basics and then we can practice together!   She asked if she could go to my practices and cheer for me.  I was tempted to say no because I wasn't sure if she was supposed to go with me but, then I realized what do I care.  My kid wants to cheer for me, heck yes she can join.  So, if tennis eventually becomes a family activity that would be so fun!  Even Bruin has taken an early interest in the rackets and balls.  Who knows...maybe he will want to take lessons and then he and his sister can play together in a few more years.  We have been trying to go to the tennis courts as a family once a week in the evening.  It's been so fun to get some energy out together and Daisy has already improved dramatically since she started two months ago.  It's amazing how quickly kids pick up on something!  

Sidenote: Bruin was in between tears at this moment.  He was mad that we tied his balloon to his hand and he was just plain fussy...definitely woke up on the wrong side of the bed.  This was a picture session fail in every way.  Daisy's balloon slipped 30 feet up into a tree shortly after this sweet picture was taken and she was completely heart broken.  She couldn't stop crying and then it started to rain....what the heck.  Still I am always so grateful if we are able to catch even a couple of decent pics and we did.  At least this picture looks like they are both happy to be there...Daisy of course always glows on camera:). hehe.  Love our babies!


Daisy will wrap up kindergarten in about 2 months and will start first grade immediately after since she is in year round school.  And if you are wondering...yes, I LOVE year round school.  I grew up in traditional school with the 3 month Summer and more often than not, while I enjoyed being out of school...I was SO bored.  3 months is too long of a break but, that is totally my opinion.  Plus, I love having several shorter breaks throughout the year.  This allows us to plan seasonal activities or vacations that we can do together as a family.  

It blows me away that she will be in first grade already.  Why oh why does time move so fast???  She learned SO SO much this past year in Kinder.  She started the year not knowing how to read and not really having much interest in letters or spelling.  Now she can read most level one, easy reader books and she has drastically improved her spelling.  She is also doing addition and subtraction math problems!  I am in awe of how quickly she picks up on things and how excited she is about learning.  It's so fun to see all the papers that she brings home from school because each week I can see her progression and improvement.  I'm proud of this girl.  I will say that I think the length of a school day for a five year old is ridiculous.  Just being honest.  When I was a wee one we only had a half day for Kindergarten.  Daisy is so fried by the time she gets home from school.  Hyper but, fried.  She gets more hyper as she gets more tired.  Does anyone else have a kiddo like that?  I also must complain about the fact that kids get so much less recess time now than they used to.  Oy.  That being said, I really try hard to not put as much emphasis on homework or studying when Daisy is home because I see how badly she needs to decompress from all of the learning.  Of course I care very much about turning in assignments and encouraging Daisy to learn but, I strive to give Daisy some relief when she is home.  Balance....so hard to figure out. 

She is very much a night owl and has literally been that way since she was born.  She would be happy to stay up until midnight every night if I let her...but, I never do. Poor girl.  Life is rough.  ;) I try to get Daisy to bed at night by 8 and now that she is a little older I got her a reading light and I let her read books (which she is really beginning to enjoy!) or chat with her dolls for another 30-60 minutes.  She does not wind down easily and never has but, once she is out, she is out and she sleeps like a rock.  She never remembers getting up to go to the bathroom nor does she remember the times she has fallen out of bed in the middle of the night and hit her head on her step stool.....  Very solid sleeper.  Lucky girl.  

She generally wakes up around 7 these days.  Sigh.  Before Bruin was born, Daisy would sleep in until 9.  I miss those days SO SO SO much.  I've come to realize that Daisy doesn't like to miss out on anything and I think that she hears Bruin get up at 6:30 and her little mind just kicks in to high gear.  "Brother's up, so I'm getting up!" lol

Daisy is a fairly picky eater but, she has become a bit better about at least trying things.  She hates most all vegetables but, I can get her to eat steamed and seasoned broccoli and cut and peeled cucumbers with Italian dressing on them once in a blue moon.  She doesn't like anything spicy.  Her favorite dinner, hands down, is sushi.  So, I can't really complain.  As long as she likes sushi...we'll be aok. LOL.   She also likes sandwiches without crust but, I have been working very hard to help her kick this bad habit.   She loves tacos and rice.  Tonight we ate a taco salad casserole and she kept saying, "yum, yum, yum, this is so delicious Mom!"  I was grinning ear to ear.  Most rewarding meal I've ever prepared:).  She also enjoys small variety of fruit such as strawberries, watermelon, canned mandarin oranges and sometimes sliced apples and applesauce.  She loves to make fruit smoothies with me.  She also loves crackers, chips and carbs.  She is a carb kid.  She also loves candy.  I would say that she likes candy more than baked treats.  More often than not she will eat the frosting off a donut and leave the rest.  Or eat the frosting off of the cake but, leave the rest.  She loves chocolate and has recently started enjoying minty things like York Peppermint patties and mint chocolate chip ice cream.  She is also a big, BIG fan of popcorn.  We had root beer floats to celebrate her birthday.  She seems to like things like that.

She doesn't care a whole lot about what she wears each day.  She would rather I pick it out for her most of the time.  I would like her to take more of an interest in what she wears but, on the other hand it has been fun to be able to pick out outfits for a little girl for so long.  She does somewhat, prefer skirts and dresses these days.  Evidently, one of her friends at school wears a lot of dresses and Daisy definitely takes note of what her friends wear.  It's almost like she goes through little phases of caring for a few days and then not caring for a month. lol.  The other night she put on a dress, her white heals, a necklace and sweater and she walked out of her room to show it off for me and Daddy.  I adore those moments.  The moments when I get to see my little girl enjoying being a little girl.



Daisy is quite petite and lean.  She is only wearing a size 10.5 shoe and has been for over a year! I think we are finally almost an 11...almost.  She still fits in most 5/6 tops and bottoms.  Most size 6 pants are still way too long for her.  But, she is definitely a six in leggings and pajamas.  She isn't very tall at this point which surprises me only because Joey and I aren't short.  I'm wondering if she might be like her Dad and have a growth spurt much later on.  Who knows.  We don't talk about her height but, she must notice that other kids seem a bit taller because she has commented on it from time to time.  She has no idea how lucky she is.  I would have loved to be a good 2-4 inches shorter!  lol.  

Daisy's favorite toy is shopkins.  She loves collecting the little pieces and we also have two shopkins games.  She loves playing the "go shopping", Shopkins game which is basically go fish.

She asked me to decorate the house with shopkins party supplies for her sixth birthday.   I got a few things online and I decorated the dining room while she was at school on her birthday.  She was completely elated when she walked in the door after school with her friend and saw all of the decorations.  It was priceless.  Daisy is so fun to spoil because she is so thankful for every little thing.  Makes it such a treat to love on her.  HAHA.

 We decided not to have a party this year which felt SO SO SO wonderful.  Instead, we had two of her friend's that all know each other, over for a simple play date and pizza.  I can't tell you how thrilled I was to nix a party this year.  I have officially burned myself out on parties and I would be happy to never have another one!! hahaha.  I feel bad saying that but, whew.  They are a lot of work.  Anyways, I will try and do whatever my kids want but, nonetheless it is a treat to do something so simple this year.  Daisy also mentioned that she would love to go to the great wolf lodge next year for her birthday and you know what...I would do that over a party any day so yeah!

Daisy is So great with Bruin.  She is truly the most patient and gentle sister I have ever seen.  She just wants to play with him all the time and she is literally counting down the days until he is old enough to engage her a little bit more, throw the ball back to her etc.  She doesn't like when Bruin cries and she does everything she can to calm him down and cheer him up.  He is so stinking lucky to have a big sis like her.  She gives him loads of hugs and kisses and though he probably doesn't want that I know deep down he knows that she adores him.  I love that Daisy seems so much more complete with a sibling.  She is never lonely when he is around.  It really is the sweetest thing.  Now, don't get me wrong.  Bruin screams bloody murder a lot every day and it is usually because he wants everything that Daisy has.  His fussiness has always driven me crazy but, that is life with more than one kiddo.  lol.

Can you just take a moment to be as annoyed as I was that the ONLY direction this balloon wanted to go was.....arg....the wrong way.  I am not exaggerating..95% of the pictures are like this.  Thankfully, I got like 2 good ones with the stupid balloon behaving...before it ran away into the tree.  Good riddance.  ;)

Daisy has taken an interest in art lately.  She loves to go in her room and doodle in her notebooks with markers and crayons.  She is quite creative!  A few nights ago she drew a really detailed giraffe and she also created several bubble letters for the first time.  I was really impressed that she taught herself how to draw bubble letters.  She looked at a three dimensional letter D book that she had sitting on her desk and she drew it how she felt she saw it.  I love that! She also loves to write notes and messages.  It's so fun to watch her discover new passions.  She is a very creative kiddo.

We got her a desk for her birthday per her request.  Daddy set it up while she was at school (thank you hubby because I would never be able to pull something like that off!) and she came home to it.  I also got her a bunch of pens, highlighters and notepads.  She was THRILLED.  Like she squealed SO loud with delight and ran around hugging us and saying :thank you, thank you over and over." Totally warmed our Mom and Dad hearts.  She has been hanging out in there a little bit every night since her birthday.
  

I love going on Mommy-daughter dates with Daisy.  We get out about once a month now on average.  I wish it was more often but, that is the best we can do at this point.  We usually do something simple like get a shake at Sonic, go roller skating, or we go window shopping together.  It really doesn't matter what we do.  I love hanging out with Daisy.  She is so fun to be around and we have such great conversations and laughs when the two of us get a little quality time in.  Quality time is definitely Daisy's love language.  I can tell when she is needing it and that is usually when I make the date happen.  This past weekend we walked around in Michaels for an hour together.  I let her lead the way and look at whatever she wanted.  I also let her pick out a journal book cut into the shape of a D.  It was so fun to see what caught her eye and to listen to her explain how she would decorate with the different things she liked.   I'm very grateful for the daughter and friend that God has given me in Daisy.  She is such a gift.

Daisy and Daddy have been having a lot of fun playing Wii sports together lately.  For a while they played Zelda until they beat it and then I suggested that they play something that allowed Daisy to be a bit more active and that led to Wii sports.  It seems that video games will be one of there things and I am glad that they have something special that they like to do together.  They also love to be wild together, wrestle and goof off.   More often than not Daddy brings the crazy out of Daisy.  LOL.  I'm also glad that she has a fun and wild Daddy because that is so not me and I'm glad someone else can give her that energy!  Tonight they worked on a Palace Pets lego set that Daisy got for her birthday from a friend and now as I am typing Daisy is reading a book to Daddy in bed.  I'm thankful that Joey makes an effort to engage our kids when he has the time.  I know he is also planting priceless seeds in his daughter's heart.  Her first boyfriend/love...is her Daddy.  







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Monday, March 7, 2016

Human Perspective vs. God's perspective.

I'm in the process of reading through the New Testament again.  I got the Beautiful Word Journal Bible recently and I LOVE it.   I think I can say this has been the most me Bible that I have ever had because it is full of color, journal art and sidebars for me to write my thoughts as I go.  It's pretty and fun:)

When I was a kid I remember vividly that the last thing on Earth I wanted to voluntarily read was the Bible.  It was SO boring to me.  I really enjoyed reading through the Comic Bible and the Kids Study Bible but, I didn't carve out time to sit and study on a regular basis.  I couldn't have imagined then that the Bible would be my favorite book today or that I would look forward to every study session.

One of my favorite things about reading the Bible with the intention of learning something new is just that...there is always something new to be found.  The words in the Bible never get old.  Each time I read, I find that I learn something that I never knew before.

Sometimes I will read a chapter and then just sit back, blown away by the depth that I have missed so many times before.  I will wonder how I never understood what that passage really meant until now and I will recall the Bible verses, "he who has eyes let him see and he who has ears let him hear." I don't think our eyes are always open to see everything all at once.  Learning about who God is and what His words mean is a process of understanding and growing that continues for a lifetime.


This time as I read my Bible, I am taking my time and trying to really think on every verse with more intention than I did the last time I read through.  The last time I did a Bible read through I was more concerned with quickly reading through to accomplish my goal than I was concerned about actually learning a whole lot...probably not the brightest goal I have had but, I was young lass.

While reading today, I found myself really mulling around a short passage in Matthew chapter 16.  Jesus is beginning to prepare his disciple dude friends for his imminent Crucifixion.  He tells them that he is about to suffer many things at the hands of the leaders, priests and teachers of the law. (v. 21).  He tells them that these people are going to kill him but, on the third day he will be raised back to life.  

Can you imagine your bestie telling you that someone is about to kidnap/capture/arrest them and then brutally torture and murder them?  

Yah, I can't either. 

But, that is exactly what Jesus just dropped on his bros.  

A bomb shell.  

I think many of us would respond the same way as Peter does...

"Never, Lord! This shall never happen to you!" (v. 22) 

We would all say that to a loved one right?  In our own words of course.

I would probably say something more like, "Heck no!  I'm not going to stand by and let anyone hurt you.  They will have to come through me first.  This is insanity!!"

 I would do anything in my power to protect a friend or family member who was being threatened by someone else.  Or to look at this from another angle, I would do anything in my power to prevent anyone I love from ever having to feel pain of any kind.  If I could prevent someone from suffering somehow, I would do it.  Wouldn't you?  The last thing we ever want is to see anyone struggle. That is what we humans do for each other.  We generally don't stand aside as our friends are being abused or mistreated.  We stand up for them.  We fight for them.  We defend and protect them.  

But, Jesus doesn't want Peter's protection or his involvement and not only that, Jesus has some strong words for him.  

"Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the concerns of God, but merely human concerns."  (v.23)

Um.  Mega Ouch.  

My feelings would be hurt.  He just called me Satan?!  :( Sad face.

But, here's the thing, Jesus sees everything and Jesus knows everything.  He sees the past, present and the future.

We see the past and we see a portion of the present (with our limited understanding and wisdom) but, we certainly can't forsee the future, despite our best efforts to.

Jesus sees through the lens of eternity whereas, we often see only through the lens of our present troubles, struggles or circumstances.

Jesus knew that He would have to suffer many horrible things in order to fulfill something so much greater and bigger than His present suffering.

In this situation, the greater thing was the salvation of the entire world.

So yah, that was a big deal.

A deal that we could not see or understand with our human eyes and logic.

Peter could only see and feel the present moment.   He may have been feeling anger.  He may have been feeling fear.  Ultimately, he didn't want his friend to have to suffer or die.

 He couldn't recognize that the pain and suffering that Jesus was going to endure might be something that he would have to allow his friend to endure in order to bring about something GREAT for eternity.

How often are we like more like Peter and less like Jesus when it comes to how we respond and deal with the  pain, suffering, trial and struggle in our lives and in the lives of those around us?

Like allllllll the time right.

Yes.  Me too.

When I found out that the pain my sister had been having in her knee for some time was a tumor I instantly felt anxious.  My entire family began praying and believing for the tumor to be benign or praying for God to remove the tumor completely.  We believed for healing for my sister.  We were filled with hope because prayer is encouraging and believing for healing and waiting for it with anticipation is exciting.

My mom called me a few days later to tell me that the results had come back and my sister's tumor was not benign and in fact was a very aggressive form of bone cancer, called osteosarcoma.

There was a lot of shock initially because the news of cancer is such a bombshell.

I know far too many people whose lives have been cut short because of cancer.

The shock begins to fade as the reality of the diagnosis sets in and then anger crept in.

We prayed for a healing.  We believed for a miracle.  I know God is able!!  Why are you allowing this to go on God?  Why would you do this to my baby sister?  I'm mad at you God...please don't strike me dead for being so honest, but, I am mad at you.  This isn't fair.

I absolutely felt like Peter.  No. No. No.  This is not happening.  I will not allow it.

And you know what, the truth is that I can't explain exactly why God allows so many people to suffer and die "before their time."

I  do however; believe that scripture is very clear that God is not the one who afflicts. He hasn't given my sister cancer but, he hasn't healed her yet either.

I also believe that scripture makes it EXTREMELY clear that pain and suffering is most definitely a part of life here on this Earth and no one can escape it.  I also believe that scripture makes it clear that we grow and learn so much as a result of our hardships here on this Earth.  Make no mistake, we can grow poorly or grow beautifully.  I suppose that outcome is up to us.  I believe that scripture makes it clear that the suffering itself is not good but, what can come out of it can be.  My sister having cancer is not good.  My sister suffering is not good.  But, God is good and he can bring something good out of this horrible thing.  He DOES bring good out of horrible things.  That is who God is.

I also know that I am not God.  As much as I try to have an eternal mindset and understand the things of God, I am certain that I only see a microscopic piece of the big picture.  I don't know what good things God is planting, growing and moving at this very moment.  I don't know whose lives are being impacted by my sister's strength and bravery as she fights this awful disease.

So instead of beating my chest for healing for my sister every minute of every day, I am believing that God will heal her in His timing.  I can rest in that truth.

I don't know what He is doing but, I trust Him.

Instead, I am focusing my energy on trusting God in this season and trusting that I cannot see it all.  I am trusting that he loves my sister dearly and that he is holding her, ministering to her weary spirit and growing her beautifully even in this not good thing we call cancer.  God is good.

My Mom and I love talking about our Bible readings together.  We love talking about faith together.  She is my favorite counselor and mentor.  One thing she has said to me on many occasions is, "that's great Case and I understand what you are saying but, where is that in the Bible."  In other words, I understand that you are frustrated about what you are going through and you have every right to be but, can you back up that attitude with scripture.  Can you back up that belief with scripture?  Can you back up that choice with scripture?

Sometimes we are so sure that we have the things of God on our minds.  We can totally convince ourselves that God would agree with us and support our thoughts, choices, actions etc. but, more often than not we are acting like Peter.  We think we know what's best but, we really don't have a clue about what's going on in the big picture.


 God doesn't see life the way we do.  He has a different perspective and as Christians that is the perspective that we are supposed to desire.  An eternal perspective. The bigger picture type of perspective.  This world is not our home type of perspective.  Denying yourself and taking up your cross every day type of perspective.

There will be so many times in our lives when we will have to face something really, really tough and we will always have a choice to walk through those seasons; with a big picture perspective or with near-sighted vision.

The truth is that the big picture perspective often requires more of us.  It's a narrow path with a really tiny gate and it's easy to miss it.  It's so much easier and even more natural to our flesh to opt for that wide path with the giant gate right next door but, it leads to destruction as scripture says.  The big picture, eternal perspective often requires us to endure and press on.  It often requires us to say no to the fire escape and walk through the fire.

Ouch.

Why?

Because, put simply, the things of God are not like the things of this world and in all honesty we will never fully understand the ways of God while on this Earth.  We do know by reading scripture that the things of God are SO SO much bigger than we can ever fully grasp here on this Earth.

I know that can sound so cheap to someone who is going through something horrible right now.

I know this can also sound like crazy talk to someone who doesn't have a personal relationship with Jesus.

I understand.

It's really not something you can understand until you walk it and even then it is a never ending journey of faith but, can I just say that once you put on these eternal glasses, life will look a lot different.


So the next time you find yourself at a crossroads, in the middle of a storm or confused about what to do regarding your circumstances, take the time to really pray about your situation and wait on God for answers.  You know what?  You might have to wait a while so ask God for patience while you are at it.

I have been given some of the most life changing answers because of the storms I have endured in my life and others I am still waiting on but, I know someday it will all become crystal clear.

Take the time to search out scripture for answers and guidance.  This will always strengthen your vision and through that time of study God will give you direction.

Press on mighty warrior.  Press on.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Random Musings On Life Through the Lens of A People-Loving Introvert


I am an introvert.

I have come to realize that introvert is a broad category and within that category are lots and lots of different types of people. Duh.  You already knew that.  You smarty pants you.  

I am this type of introvert:

My sanity and energy is only replenished when I am alone.   I would literally die without a BIG pinch of alone time every single day.  I would DIE.

No, I am not being dramatic.

Alone time usually consists of me doing some very relaxing activity like reading my bible, staring at a wall, watching a show, talking to myself, browsing on my cell phone, taking a 20 minute cat nap, or curling up in the fetal position on the floor.  Don't laugh...you know you do it to...okay, you can laugh;).

Alone time must be in my home.  Not at a coffee shop.  Not as a guest in someone else's house.  Not at a store without kids.  Alone, in my home.

My home is my sanctuary.

My home is the only place that I feel completely relaxed and free to be me.  It is my escape.  I could even go so far as to say that alone time in my home is a vacation for me.  I am genuinely refreshed best in that time and space.

If I am a dead battery, then my home is the charger and the longer that I am away from my charger, the lower my battery level gets.

I love quiet spaces....They don't have to be silent..just not loud.  I don't want to hear any screaming kids, blasting music or TV, nor chatty people or wild hubby...just me and a mellow room = Bliss.

I never enjoyed sleep overs as a kid (though I did get through a fair amount) because I never enjoyed chatting with a friend until late in the evening.  I was always too tired to keep that up...probably because all of the high pitched talking and excessive giggling had completely fried my mother board.

I struggle with sharing a space with anyone other than my immediate family for too long.  Like I really do not enjoy it.

Some introverts do just fine sharing their space with others during a family reunion trip at a resort or at the beach or maybe during the holidays etc.  Good for them.  No me gusta.

I can handle a couple of days or maybe three at best and then I begin short circuiting.  It actually feels very much like I am running on a week without sleep after a few days of non-stop visitors and noise.

My brain and body begin shutting down.  Literally.

What is the problem?  Well, the problem is that I am unable to get the alone time that I desperately need to recharge when I am in the constant company of others.  My routine gets tossed out the window during long social events and I really rely on a routine for sanity.  

If you are already judging me at this point then you are an extrovert and you will never understand so just move along (wink).

I do not require a girl's night out each week to keep my stuff together.  I get my stuff together when you all go out and leave me at home...alone.

LOL.

On the other hand, I LOVE my friends.  LOVE. LOVE. Love each and every one of them.  I love communicating (something that many introverts hate).  I love keeping in touch.  I love e-mailing, texting, voxing, facebooking, instagramming.  I care about my friends more than words can express.

It is only BECAUSE I love my friends so much that I will pull together every scrap of social energy that I have left after a long day of play dates and battling opinionated little humans, to meet up for coffee or whatever we decide on.

 In other words, I will sacrifice my beloved evening alone time....my time of refreshment, for my friends, because I care about relationships and I recognize that they do require investment in order to thrive.

And I do LOVE those outings when they do happen because I love the people I am gathering with.   It is good for the soul to have girl time and I understand the great value of finding social balance in life...even for an introvert.

I may have to push myself much harder than an extrovert to get together with friends but, the friendships that have been built out of these efforts are priceless to me.

I have been blessed with some of the most amazing girl friends a gal could ask for.  Friends that I have known since I was a child, friends from school, church, my new state and even new friends that I have made through social media.

Building quality relationships isn't always easy for an introvert...or maybe it isn't always easy for extroverts as well....I dunno.  Extroverts, thoughts?

It is hard work sometimes and it is certainly not always an easy path to navigate with women because we are all so guarded more often than not but, it is so rewarding for me to invest in people this way.

We are all quite similar behind all the masks that we hide behind.  We all just want to be loved and accepted for who we are.  Right?

My greatest joy in life is encouraging others...and that is an interesting thing to derive joy from when you are an introvert who loves being alone.

Encouragement is the gift that God has given me and it is the one thing in life that when I give it away I too am blessed tremendously as well.

Basically, I am an introvert who loves being alone but, I love investing in people just as much.

Definitely an interesting tug of war at times.

 I often have four or five play dates a week.  That is a lot for an introvert like me but, I love helping my kids to build friendships and I love being able to build mine at the same time.  I also prefer keeping busy with my kiddos than attempting to get through each long day on my own at home.  That is far harder for me.

I feel much more social during the day than I do at night, so play dates are a great way to meet up with my friends and entertain my kids at the same time.

But, even after a three-ish hour play date I am completely and utterly wiped out.  Yes, the play dates are worth it and yes, I enjoy them but, three solid hours of conversation makes me so sleepy.  If I hit that crashing point, my brain will just abruptly stop producing logical conversation.  It becomes a tremendous struggle to stay present.  My eyes might even feel a bit glossed over and my brain feels like it is in a daze.  I'm so done.

 And yes, it can be such a bummer to be an introvert when these types of things happen.

Talking on the phone....well, I love it and I hate it.   I only talk on the phone regularly with a handful of people....like, five.  Talking on the phone is a social activity and once again it takes energy away from an introvert like me.

Why is talking on the phone depleting for an introvert?  Who knows.  Well, I do have some theories but, it would take too long to go into that now...It just is.  So there.

A good friend of mine asked me if I would ever consider renting a beach house with a group of friends for a week.  I said...no, probably not.  I told her that I could handle a couple of nights but, that would be all and I would be whipped after two nights.  It wasn't easy to admit that to my friend but, I have learned that it is better to be honest up front than to make excuses later.

I could rent a beach house next door to my friend's beach house and survive that much better than sharing a space with them day in, day out, for a week.  Because I would have a space to retreat to....and I would pull away and recharge, if it all became too much.

I know how weird/strange/crazy/odd this all might sound to anyone who is not like this.

Like really is it so hard to share a house on a beautiful beach with friends for a week?

Yes. Yes, it is.

Boom.

Hosting people in my home...

For some introverts, the very thought of hosting a gathering can induce a panic attack.

Not the case for me.

I actually love inviting people into my home on occasion but, I do need to plan and prepare for it.   Although, I don't think that hospitality comes entirely natural to me, I have really enjoyed the learning process over the years.  I am a slow learner but, I am getting there.

I take note of what other women do when I am in their homes that makes me feel more welcome and then I try to incorporate more of that into my routine with my own company.

I used to host gatherings quite frequently in my home before kids.  Again, I think this is because I love people and I love bringing people together.  I love building relationships with anyone and everyone.

I am the type of person who strikes up conversation with any random person in a store, in a line, at school, in the bathroom, while on a walk, etc.  Whenever I have the time, I will linger and chat or listen if a stranger wants to.

After having kids, I lost A LOT of my drive to host.  It is a good amount of work to clean a home, prepare a meal or snacks and then entertain company and then clean the home again after it is over.  Now that more of my energy is directed towards my kiddos I have much less energy to host.

I have a feeling that I will be hosting a lot more once our kiddos are a little bit older.

I have also noticed that I need more alone time now that I have children.  I needed far less before having kids.

Kids take a lot out of me...they extract every social/mental drop out of my system each and every day.

Make no mistake, I LOVE being a mom and I LOVE being a stay at home mom.  It is a priceless gift that I wouldn't trade for anything in the world.  But, it's the toughest job I have ever held without a doubt.  Amen. Amen.

When my kids are grown and I have an empty home once again, my introvert needs will change to reflect that season because I will be getting a lot more alone time every day.  I might even take that friend up on the week long beach trip then because I could handle it much better without kiddos.

We are always changing.

I like to leave lots of room for change.

This is just where I am at right now and where I have been for the past 6 years or so more or less.

Introverts, how much of this can you relate to?  I LOVE you!  You might be a nut that takes me a little longer to crack but, your hearts are so beautiful.  I love that I can relate so well to you!

And extroverts, I LOVE you.  Your energy is infectious.  Your zest for life is inspiring and you motivate me to get out of my shell.  I will never be able to keep up with you but, I love watching you GO!

hahaha.

Life is beautiful.  You are all beautiful!
And on that note,
 good night.
xoxo







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