Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Quit Being Okay With Not Being Okay

I think I mentioned in a previous post that I was reading a Sheila Walsh book. I put it down for quite some time I must admit, because it is painful reading it. But today I soaked in my tub and read some more. Does soaking in the tub while reading something make it sink in more? Maybe.

This is a quote that is included in the book. "No man ever sank under the burden of the day. It is when tomorrow's burden is added to the burden of today that the weight is more than a man can bear. Never load yourself so. If you find yourself so loaded, at least remember this: it is your own doing, not God's. He begs you to leave the future to him and mind the present." George MacDonald

That really sunk in! How true is that?! She also has a short visual called "Take Another Look"

Imagine for a moment a beautiful church building. It is a traditional structure, and sunlight spills through the stained-glass windows. The church is full, the choir is singing a closing song, and the pastor looks down at his notes, critically reflecting on the effectiveness of his message. He sighs from a deep place inside of him. You scan the congregation. There are people here of all shapes and sizes, all ages. Suddenly it's as if the lighting has changed and the whole scene shifts. Instead of seeing what's on the outside of each man, woman, and child, you see the burdens they are carrying. You see the wounds and scars they try so hard to hide. You see the truth, and it is shocking. You are even more alarmed when you realize the service has ended and everyone intends to leave like that. Part of you wants to cry out, "Don't leave yet! Don't take those burdens home with you! Stay for a while and let Jesus heal those wounded places." But no one can hear you. Soon, everyone is gone. This happens every Sunday in churches all over. We don't get to see that picture, but God sees it every moment of every day. Have we forgotten that there is a better way to live? Some of our wounds are so deep that they are simply part of us now. But we need to unburden ourselves and lay our struggles at the foot of the cross.

Enough for now. I've got some unburdening to do.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Waiting For Our Life To Be Our Own

Everytime the Holidays roll around, I get so melancholy. I used to LOVE the Holidays, but living with my MIL has stripped some of that joy. I know I am losing focus on what the Holidays are truly about and I need to work on that.

I cannot wait to decorate my home how I want it decorated and create our own traditions. My MIL collects Santas and I kid you not, she literally has hundreds of them. We remove family photos and box them up to make room for them to go in every nook and cranny all over the place. Yes, it is festive looking, and yes, my husband likes it too, but ARGH!!! I want a REAL tree and I want to come home from work and snuggle with my husband on our own couch, in our own decorated place and not feel like I take second place. Ever since we married, we decorate every year with a dozen huge plastic bins full of her things. Everything seems to have its place, but I feel out of place.

I asked my husband last night if he honestly thinks we will ever move out. He answered emphatically YES. He is hoping that when he is able to get a job that we can move out next summer. Oh I hope so!!! We paid a bunch of bills off, which is impressive since he's been out of work for almost 2 years. But we just keep plugging away and have 7 bills gone I believe.

Yesterday I was supposed to go to a craft fair for my friend. I was looking forward to it, but didn't end up going. MIL is sick with a really bad cold and Jim ended up going with her to the urgent care. Yes, he's a good son and I told him to go ahead and take her, that I would skip the fair. But there are many other occasions where she seems to have his attention and I feel second. I thought when we got married it meant that he picked me...but the whole leave your parents and cleave to your wife thing didn't quite happen for us since we've never left.

Sunday, November 21, 2010


I got a book from the author Sheila Walsh that is all about learning to truly trust in God. Man, do I need to read this and learn from it. I have been struggling with this issue for many years, but much more recently. My husband is going on almost 2 years without a job. God has been so good & provided for us during his unemployment with the EDD checks. But those checks are gonna run out really soon. I'm getting really stressed out about what's gonna happen when we don't have those unemployment checks coming.

I REALLY don't want to keep living with his mother. It shouldn't be. When you get married you are supposed to leave your mother & father and cleave to your spouse, but in our case, the cord was never cut. It's a daily struggle for me to balance being a wife, mother and daughter in law, when I am so resentful of our living situation.

I had a co-worker from another office tell me that Jim & I shouldn't have gotten married if we can't afford to live alone. It really pissed me off at the time, but I can't help but think about that sometimes. I love my husband, and I don't regret marrying him, but I wonder if we had waited to marry until we could afford to live on our own...would we be married? Would Jim have maybe worked harder knowing I wouldn't say "I Do" until we had our own place? Have we lived so long with her that he's just gotten too comfortable with this arrangement? I can't continue like this. I really need him to get a good paying job and get our finances and priorities in check so we can one day experience living on our own. I live in fear of never having that. I don't want to live with resentment and regrets for the rest of my life. I hate that a word that is supposed to not be in my vocabulary is creeping into my thoughts the longer this goes on.

Lord help me fight these negative thoughts and stay strong & cling to You. I have to trust in God to pull us through this season of our lives. I need to trust that God has a job somewhere out there for Jim. I have to trust in that, because right now my trust is shot in ever getting out of here without some divine intervention. Something that was supposed to be a year has been 8. FRUSTRATED, ANGRY, BITTER, RESENTFUL and really hate feeling this way.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Double Digits Have Been Achieved!!!

So I am down 10 pounds! Double digits!!! You know, I am so excited about that fact, but I am even more excited to give all the glory to God. Seriously, because I have very little willpower when it comes to food. I have always been at one extreme or the other; eating too much or way too little. But I am eating between 1500-1800 calories a day, feeling full & satisfied and I am losing the weight. I have walked into the cafeteria at work while the cook had the entire flat top covered with cooking bacon and I was able to appreciate the wonderful smell, but just walk through to fill up my water bottle and walk away. Yep, that victory belongs to God, because if left to my own will…I SO would have bought some bacon!

Cool thing!!! A woman that is in my small group but who has been traveling for the past few weeks, saw me at church and said “Are you losing weight?” YES!!! YES I AM!!!! But I had an opportunity to share with her how I am doing it and she told me it was definitely a Divine appointment that I told her how I am doing it. She too struggles with her weight like so many of us do. But I told her that I am not doing any specific diet, no pills, fads, etc. I am watching what I eat and making very conscious decisions about what I put in my mouth. “Is this good for me?” “Is there nutritional value to this?” “Will this nourish me?” Because if it doesn’t meet that, why do I want to put it in my body? I want to break the cycle of self loathing I have had because I overeat foods that are processed, fried, filled with empty calories and no nutritional value. You feel disgusting after you eat them, you unbuckle your pants or wear elastic pants to hide the bloat. And then the same conversation over and over in my head “Why did you eat that? I will NEVER do that again”…until the next time I do!

I have been packing my lunch just about every day the past few weeks. I am very intentional when I shop and when I pack my lunches. I make sure to pack colorful attractive things, like a beautiful red & gold fuji or gala apple, some bright green sugar snap peas (YUM!!!) a bowl of flavorful soup, or a green salad with some tuna, juicy tomatoes and some garbanzo beans, or maybe a sandwich with whole grain bread and lots of produce added. I even bought some light provolone to have an enjoyable piece of cheese vs. a processed piece of fat free orange “stuff”. I am enjoying the variety of meals I am packing. When I used to go out to eat it was typically Taco Bell, Chinese food or a burger joint. I almost never went to Subway. That is the one place I have gone last week for lunch and I thoroughly enjoyed my turkey & avocado 6” sub.

Before I eat, and throughout the day I thank God for giving me fullness, not just in my stomach. I have been guilty of eating too much in the past because I was trying to fill up holes in my life only God can fill, like my head and my heart. I am no longer eating to fill any voids, I am asking God to keep changing me, to confront me with areas I need to submit and trust in Him to change me into a new creation. These three songs have lyrics that just really speak to the changes I am going through and my daily reliance on God to carry me through it all. Check them out if you aren't familiar with them. GREAT MUSIC!

The Stand by Hillsong United

You stood before my failure
Carried the Cross for my shame
My sin weighed upon Your shoulders
My soul now to stand

So what can I say
What can I do
But offer this heart O God
Completely to You

So I'll stand
With arms high and heart abandoned
In awe of the One who gave it all

So I'll stand
My soul Lord to You surrendered
All I am is Yours

The Only Hope by Bebo Norman

I want to run, it's my nature to run
And I want to fight, it's my nature to fight
And I want to live, but You tell me to die
I have resolved that I'm much better off
In Your hands than mine

I want a crumb, but You are a feast
I want a song, but You are a symphony
I want a star, but You are a galaxy

And I have resolved that I'm much better off
In what You have for me
I'm begging You to hold on tight
Begging You to hold on tight
Begging You to hold on tight
Begging You to take my life from me
So tell me You won't let go
Tell me You won't let go
Cause You are the only hope for me

Take my life from me, It's the only hope for me
Take my life from me, It's the only hope for me
And I'll never want for more
I'll never want for more

From the Inside Out – Hillsong United

A thousand times I've failed
Still Your mercy remains
And should I stumble again
Still I'm caught in Your grace

In my heart and my soul, I give You control
Consume me from the inside out Lord
Let justice and praise, become my embrace
To love You from the inside out

From the inside out, Lord my soul cries out

Friday, September 17, 2010

Connection Has Been Made

I have struggled with my weight for years. I am ashamed to say I have gained 70 pounds in the last 8 years. I know my exact weight from my wedding day and I realize I have gained just under 10 lbs. per year of my marriage. That works out to less than a pound a month, so I see how it just crept up. My husband loves fried food, burgers and pizza. So to accomodate his likes, I have changed my habits to his bad ones and I have eaten horribly since we got married. But you know what, I can't blame him. I am an adult and I made poor choices to get to where I am. I have to take ownership of my situation and resolve to do something about it.

I have been desiring to finally get serious about losing weight for the last month or so. I am just kind of disgusted with myself (but in a good way). Is there a good way of being disgusted with yourself? Hmm. I have always wanted some quick fix. I have bought diet pills, shakes, etc. I definitely don't EVER want to get a gastric bypass, but I really was mad that Kaiser Permanente won't cover the costs for a Lap Band. But you know what? I don't want the Lap Band. I don't want surgery. I don't want to have some foreign object stuck in my body, possible complications, constant maintenance, etc. I don't want to not be able to enjoy an actual meal with my husband or my family at the Holidays. I don't want to have to permanently eliminate foods from my diet.

Anyways, I have really felt God pushing me to think of the real reasons I have gained so much weight. There is no magic pill. I need to pray and seek Gods help in helping me to let go of all the shame, guilt & issues I have. I have to actually give it all to Him. That right there is a big weight I carry around that is SO unneccesary.

I attended the Women of Faith conference last weekend in Anaheim, CA. Many of the speakers really got to me. God spoke through them and I finally heard and made the connection. I need to completely trust in God and let go of my will. I keep thinking "...some day" "I'll start later", etc. But nothing is guaranteed. So I started! No more excuses. I even was able to make an appointment first thing Monday morning for lab work. I fasted Sunday night and went in to the docs first thing on Monday and I am so happy that my cholesterol and glucose are GREAT! That was a burden removed. Now I know that my weight loss efforts are going to make my numbers even better. I haven't done major damage yet.

I have already lost 6 lbs. this week! I know it won't keep coming off that fast, but it is a very encouraging start. My goal is to be fit & fabulous by 40. I have 553 days until I am 40. That's a lot of time to make it happen. No excuses!

Philippians 4:13 I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Even If!!!

After camp every summer our church lets the kids take over the service on a Sunday for a youth led service. This year we kept the Jr. Camp presentation fairly short. We shared a short slide show of pictures from camp and then Matt, Mark & I each shared some things with the congregation. The youth pastor shared a short message about the week the Jr. & Sr. High kids had at camp. His message is still sticking with me and I know it’s because I need to hear it and let it work on me. His message was on the passage in Daniel about Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego before they were thrown into the fiery furnace. When confronted by King Nebuchadnezzar they told him they believed God was able to save them from their fate, but even if He does not, we want you to know that we will not serve your gods. Brian asked us to think about our “even ifs”. Wow! I definitely have some even ifs that I have let come between me and my God. God is a big guy, He can handle little ol’ me being mad at him. But I shouldn’t EVER put conditions on my love for Him. What if He did that to me? Surely I would never measure up, because I screw up time and time again. But I have let my fertility, my living situation, my husbands’ lengthy unemployment all become points of contention between me and God. I have said in my head and my heart “If God really loved me, then I would get pregnant, have my own home and a gainfully employed husband.” But I can’t put those conditions on Him and He doesn’t put them on me. I need to come to a place where I don’t let ANYTHING come between me and my love and worship of my Savior, my King, my God. Do you have things in your life coming between you and your relationship with God? Will you love Him “even if” things never go the way you want them too?

Summer Camp at Victory Ranch

I haven’t written in my blog for a long time. I have had a lot going on. I had tons of work to do in mid July to get ready to take a week off of work July 25 – July 31 to take a group of 20+ 3rd thru 6th graders to camp. It was a great week! We went to a new camp this summer since our old camp is no longer offering a local summer camp. We went to a place called Victory Ranch in Moreno Valley. There are things I missed about Centri-Kid, but mostly they were the modern conveniences of staying on a beautiful college campus vs. going to an actual ranch for camp. At Centri-kid I had my own room in our cottage, we had air conditioning, three full bathrooms, our porches, full kitchens and refrigerators. Ahhh, those were the days! But the kids really longed for a camp that was really “camp”. They got that at Victory Ranch for sure. When we arrived at camp you drive down a dusty road and encounter a cow pasture, horse stables and all the aromas that accompany cows & horses. We stayed in cabins with swamp coolers, we had invasions of biting red ants, we played games that the kids loved but the parent in me found disgusting or dangerous. The game “rhino snot” is forever engraved in my memory. Our clothes smelled so horrible after a week of sweating, playing with food, mud, riding horses, etc. We got home on Saturday late afternoon and on Sunday at church all the parents talked about how bad the laundry duties were. But it’s been a month since camp and the kids still want to share with me every chance they get about how much fun they had at camp. I am so grateful to have a job where I earn a lot of leave and am able to use my leave to take this great bunch of kids to camp each summer.

Monday, July 12, 2010

The Existence of Evil

In the news lately there have also been a lot of reports on the actor Mel Gibson. He divorced his wife of over 30 years recently and began dating a Russian singer. They have a baby daughter together. Recordings have come out on a website called that I heard of him cursing his girlfriend out. His language & tone of voice are frightening. This is definitely a man unhinged. When I have read Bible stories of people possessed by demons...that is how Mel sounds in the recording. He is huffing & puffing & screaming and foul words are just spewing like venom from his lips.

Back in the day Mel was an exceedingly good looking man. He seemed so charming, and those blue eyes & smile of his aren't hard on the eyes. However, the revelations about him & his hard drinking ways the past few years cannot be ignored. The years haven't been kind to him and he looks horrible. People want to make excuses for him and say "It's the alcohol". Yes...the alcohol is a factor, but I don't think the alcohol invents these things he says. The alcohol may magnify them, or remove his ability to hide them or show any tact. So when he is drunk he no longer has the ability to censor himself and he says the most vile and racist things. He has been abusive and hit this woman, even when she was holding his little baby in her arms.

It's so sad that his legacy & witness are being destroyed by his behavior. This man has done some wonderful films. Films he's acted in or things he's produced & directed like The Passion of the Christ. Wow, how far he has fallen.

I will NEVER spend another penny on something he is in. I don't know if I will even have the opportunity too. His agency dropped him and I think this latest incident will mean the end of his career. I feel sorry for his children, he has many. I can't imagine going through life being so ashamed of my father.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Pulling Teeth...

Could I get some help? When I ask this of my class of 3rd thru 6th graders at AWANA, every hand raises before I even say what I need help with. But when we stand at the pulpit and ask for help from the congregation…not near so many hands are raised. Sometimes it feels like pulling teeth to get people to help out.

I know we all have other things going on in our life. I don’t expect people to basically live at the church because we are volunteering for every project under the sun. I just wish people would be obedient when they feel that nudge to volunteer when a new project comes along. I truly believe God wants us to accomplish certain things at church and in our community, and if God wants those things accomplished, He is calling people to do it. But too many people think “I do enough, let someone else, I volunteered for something a while back so I’m good now, etc. etc.” And then they don’t step up. Or you have people who step up begrudgingly and have bad attitudes the whole time.

Romans 12:4-8 says “For just as we have many members in one body and all the members do not have the same function, so we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another. Since we have gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, each of us is to exercise them accordingly: if prophecy, according to the proportion of his faith; if service, in his serving; or he who teaches, in his teaching; or he who exhorts, in his exhortation; he who gives, with liberality; he who leads, with diligence; he who shows mercy, with cheerfulness.”

We all have been given areas of giftedness by God and we all need to find ways to serve. I recently did all the crafts for VBS, my 18 year old daughter served as the VBS Director and we had teens from 7th thru college age helping serve as leaders and guides. I was able to have the assistance of 2 older women from the church, a married couple currently unemployed, a single Mom and 2 sets of siblings helping me out in crafts. It was wonderful to have a variety of ages and abilities helping me. The kids at VBS all benefited from our range of experience.

I love serving the Lord. I have known exhaustion from it, but I also know the joy in it. This past few weeks were crazy. I was literally at the church EVERY day for 10 straight days decorating for VBS, running crafts for VBS for a week, decorating & building our churches 4th of July Parade float, taking down decorations, worship services, etc. So now I am taking a little well deserved time off. But I will begin preparing new lessons, craft ideas and service projects for AWANA when we begin again in the fall. I know God has given me gifts and I follow 1 Peter 4:10 “As each one has received a special gift, employ it in serving one another as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.”

No job is too big or too small if you have been called by God to accomplish it. I am not above sweeping & mopping up a dirty floor, unclogging a toilet, cooking food for a crowd and then doing all the dishes, etc. Romans 12:3 says “…do not think of yourself more highly than you ought”. Any job is worth doing when you are serving the Lord. Autograph your work with excellence.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Husband Bashing

Why is it so acceptable & seen as amusing to bash husbands? When I log into Facebook I sometimes read posts from people bashing their husbands. Wow! You really want to put that out into the world? You really want people to read your dirty laundry and destroy any witness you have by constantly criticizing & belittling your spouse and telling anyone who can see it "I hate my husband!"

I sent a private message to a friend letting them know "How would you feel if he were posting this about you?" and the response I got was "He doesn't have a facebook". that makes it okay? Hmmm...

But the problem is much deeper. Look at just about any prime time comedy on TV these days and think of the Dad. Just about all of them are portrayed as bumbling idiots. Why is that? Because I can tell you that the majority of married men I know are loving, engaged, capable fathers and loving husbands.

I LOVE my husband and I ADORE my Dad. Both have their silly/goofy side, but that is just a small portion of the men that they are. They are intelligent, insightful, godly, caring, thoughtful, capable, and so much more.

When we get married, two become one. My husband is flesh of my flesh & bone of my bone. Bashing him is bashing myself. God called me to be his partner and to be a loving helpmate. That is what I will continue to do. And while he may occasionally drive me a little nuts, I know he puts up with a lot from me too. I cannot imagine my life without him, I don't want to.

Friday, June 25, 2010

What Legacy Will You Leave

I received e-mails last week from my birth father. It was the first time in my 38 years that I have ever had contact with him of any kind. I was able to have some questions answered that have always bothered me. He gave me some answers, some very lame excuses, and not a real apology because it was one of those “I’m sorry you feel that way”. That doesn’t really quite count. But what he did give me was profound. I didn’t realize just how big a monkey on my back it was never having any contact with him. So even though I was left feeling mostly pity for him, a huge weight is gone. Initially I was very angry, but now I truly think I am good with it. As silly as it may seem, I have always longed just for him to acknowledge my existence, and he did that. I will pray for him because I found out he is the Pastor of a Church of Christ church and he will have to answer to God for the choices he has made in his past and his lack of repentance. But I am over my anger. I have NEVER desired to have him be a part of my life, because I have a Dad. My step-Dad has never been considered a step-Dad to me, he is my DAD!!! He’s always been there for me to give me wise godly counsel, taken care of me always as if I was his own flesh and blood, and loved me enough to hold me accountable when I have screwed up. And my Dad is also an excellent Papa to my daughter Allyson.

Maybe it’s because I never knew my birth father that I have always made it a priority to make sure I am very present in my daughter’s life. I have been very active in activities she has been involved in. I wanted her to know that I value her and that I give her my love, time and energy. So I have helped with school field trips, walked Jog-a-thons, been a team Mom for sports teams, been on the boards for swim team and choir, taught VBS, thrown parties, raised money for trips, pulled all-nighters helping her with a report and to work at Grad Nite. Anyone who knows me knows how much I love Allyson. I have probably bored you to tears with my stories of her, but I can’t help myself. She & Jim are the loves of my life!

I recently watched a TV special called “The Council of Dads” that was about a father of twin girls who thought he might die from a rare form of bone cancer. Fortunately God is so good and he is still cancer free after having major surgery on his left femur. When he thought he might die, he got together a group of male friends who agreed to be “his voice” in the future and be there for his girls. It really made me think how lucky I am to be a member of the church I am a member of. I am surrounded by a “Council of Moms and Dads”. I have had the fortune of working with young people for the past 8+ years and being able to be there for kids, dispense advice when asked, etc. But I also have been fortunate to have people there for me when I have struggled, suffered through miscarriage and infertility issues, missed my parents when they moved out of state and have forgiven me when I messed up. I have godly married couples who have encouraged me in my marriage and people who celebrate with me when things are good. I know that if something ever happens to me or to my husband, I have numerous people who will be there to step in and love on my family.

Children are a gift from God. Love on your kids; invest your time wisely by investing in them. “I want to leave a legacy, how will they remember me…”

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Being Good Stewards

I don't understand why it seems so many Christians find it so easy to make fun of environmentalists or animal lovers. I of course love humanity more than animals and trees...but I think Christians need to strike a better balance of the 3. Yes, God gave us dominion over animals, so I am a meat eater and love a great steak or piece of greasy fried chicken. However, does that mean I turn a blind eye to companies who are inhumane to the animals they process for food? No. There is no need for the animals to be tortured or kicked or hobbled. That breaks my heart. When I eat meat I think of the fact that the animals life was sacrificed for my sustenance. I give thanks to God for it.

God also created this beautiful place called earth. I am a huge nature lover. I love the ocean, lakes, waterfalls, big grassy meadows, mountains covered with wildflowers, hiking trails, etc. I believe we need to be good stewards of our environment. Is it really such a hardship to Reduce, Reuse, Recycle?

I am so not a label concsious person. I could care less if it's a name brand item. I care if it is made well and a good value. I would be a terrible rich person because there is just no way I could justify spending hundreds of dollars on a pair of jeans or the thousands some celebrities spend on a purse! I think of what good that money could do for others. I love my $22.00 jeans! I love my $30 purse! I love when I have the time to head to Goodwill or Keepers and spend hours scouring the racks & shelves. I love finding something that fits and is in like new condition and sometimes with the tags still on it. I have no problem with secondhand clothing. I have always been able to find things in good condition. I love when I find something at Goodwill that I saw for full price in the store, but didn't buy. By buying it at Goodwill I only paid a few bucks for it! I buy used books, decorative items, etc. as well.

Now that I have learned to sew, I have quit just giving the old clothing of my family members to Goodwill. I go through our cast off's first and save the buttons or fabric if it's in good shape. I love making something 'new' from something old. I have a wreath on my door made from scraps of sewing projects. I even sewed scraps together to jazz up my $1.00 flip flops! You can make pillowcases, grocery bags so you don't use the plastic bags, headbands, etc. from cast off clothing. Be creative!

I just don't think the economy is going to turn around any time soon, so people need to start being more thrifty and resourceful. In the past with bad downturns in the economy we had "the next big thing" come out to help bring money back in. Stock market crash of the 20' manufacturing & industrialization. After WWII, home manufacturing & furniture boomed. The late 70's & early 80's...computers. The 90's...internet, technology, cell phones. So...what's the next big thing? I'm sure some brilliant minds are working on it, but until then and even after, I will keep sewing and making my own aprons, skirts, quilts, jewelry, etc. I will learn to can food and shop at Goodwill!

Monday, June 7, 2010

Time With The Girls

I have always felt more comfortable being "one of the guys", but I have always had girls who were friends in school, girls I hung out with and had slumber parties with, etc. However, I had Allyson so young that at 19 when I was married and raising a child, my girlfriends were away at college or partying and doing what typical 19 year olds do. I was working at a medical research facility for the first year of Allyson's life and for the past 16+ I have worked for Treasury. So again, I have had responsibilities, an unfortunate divorce and spent my days as a single Mom working full time.

I admit I didn't do much to work at maintaining friendships with my girlfriends from school. I felt like we were in two different worlds. I wasn't partying, drinking, smoking, etc. I was raising a child and discovering what it meant to "BE" a Christian and not just show up on Sunday and call myself a Christian. Plus, the one girl I considered by best friend ended up with Allyson's dad. That kind of turned me off of trusting female friends for a long while.

My (now) husband Jim was the only constant. We have been friends since the late 80's. So he has always been there for me through all the stupid stuff I did in high school, getting married to Allyson's Dad so young due to pregnancy, my divorce, listening to my dating horror stories after my divorce. Fortunately our friendship grew into a deep love and I am now married to my best friend and the love of my life.

I admit I sometimes wish I had a group of women friends I could have "chick nights" with. I have some wonderful women friends at church and a Christian co-worker I can confide in. But I just don't seem to get out much with just a great group of women. I am craving a good women's Bible study. Unfortunately most of the women's events at my church involve much older women and consumption of copious amounts of tea...not my thing. This past Saturday I attended a scrapbooking day at church and spent a whole morning/afternoon with some fabulous women and NO TEA!!! I hope we do it more often. I enjoyed the fun & fellowship and "chick" time.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

A Change Will Do Me Good

Allow me to ask a question. I hope you’ll give the answer serious thought.

Is there anything in your life right now that you’d like to change or have different?

Perhaps you are seeking an answer? Or maybe forgiveness? Or are you holding onto forgiveness that needs to be extended? Maybe you are trying to win the battle with an addiction. Maybe you are trying to reach a difficult goal. Maybe you are seeking greater joy or peace or harmony within your home, family, or self. Maybe you are making big life decisions and are wondering which path to take. Maybe you want to pursue a different profession. Or maybe you are trying to overcome a fear. Perhaps you would like more good friends. Maybe you are wondering when the ache in your heart will finally dull and go away. Maybe you are wondering when the tears will stop. Maybe you are in a relationship that needs healing. Maybe illness and fatigue are currently a part of your daily life. Maybe you are seeking a certain blessing to come your way. The list of changes we each might like to see in our lives is endless.

I sat down to write my “Bucket List” recently. I’d been thinking about putting together my list for a while, and there were lots of things about my life that I wanted to be different. But when I sat down to write the list, there was only one thing that really stood out to me. I had examined my life much in the preceding months and I had come to the conclusion that I wasn’t who I wanted to be. I wondered where the bright-eyed, idealistic young woman had gone, along with all the plans and goals and ways I was going to change the world. I couldn’t see the perfect-faith-filled woman anymore. By no means had I become a horrible person, but I wasn’t who I had been in years past, and I hadn’t become who I thought I would once I “became a grown up.” Life had happened. I have a real job with real stress and heavy demands. I’d accumulated bills and responsibilities and “busyness”. And the busier I got, the less I seemed like me. And it seemed like the farther I got from “me,” the farther I got from heaven too.

From now on, I will know the Savior better.

I need to put a dedicated emphasis on that goal. I need to re-implement habits like daily scripture reading, regular prayer, and reading the lessons for each Sunday. The intensity of the Spirit isn’t permeating my life like it had just a few years before. And so – it is time to clean out the cobwebs. I need to identify things that had crept into my life which are making it difficult for me to always have the Spirit – things like sins, weaknesses, imperfections, grudges and my infertility issues. I need to offer them up to heaven with the humblest heart I think I’ve ever had. I am so saddened by the weeds I have let overtake my heart.

I think I have known I needed change for a long time, but when I’m honest about why I haven’t do it sooner, it was because I was scared – scared to give the Lord this tattered, broken life. I was afraid piecing it back together would hurt beyond what I could bear. And I think I was also ashamed. He’s the perfect God of the universe. How could I ask the Lord to fix me, change me, remake me? How could I offer Him anything less than perfection? And so for a long while I have tried to rid my life of the busyness and weaknesses on my own, while trying to add back in the joy, service, and dedication – again, on my own. But I can’t do it on my own anymore. And I don’t know that I’ve ever wanted to know the Savior more. It’s never mattered more. And I think that’s because I’ve never been more acutely aware of my need for Him. And I told the Lord so. I will do whatever it takes. I don’t care how badly it hurts or how long it will take. I want my life to be different. And I will do whatever He asks.

Now, anyone who knows me must know that I have always been my own worst critic. And, though I would never allow another person to believe this about themselves, I’ve always thought that I needed to do more, work harder, run faster in order to receive the blessing or find forgiveness. I think many of us feel this way simply because we’re so much more aware of our own imperfections. We tend to be hardest on ourselves.

In fact, I’ve often been known to say in prayer, “I haven’t suffered enough for this. If you need to punish me a bit more, I understand.” Or I’ll think to myself, “I need to do this and this and this and this, before I ask for help because certainly I can’t kneel before God if I haven’t read my scriptures, served my neighbor, etc.” And what I find I need to do is just to remember that I need to slow down and kneel at His feet and be quiet.

When we are burdened, it is He who says, "Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and You will find rest for your souls. "For My yoke is easy and My burden is light. (Matthew 11:29-30)

When we wonder which direction to go or choice to make, it is He who says, “Trust in Me with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Me, and I will make your paths straight” (Proverbs 3:5-6).
When our world swirls around us, it is he who “arises, and rebukes the winds and the sea; until there is calm” (Matt 8:26).

When we want, it is He who says, “Ask and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock and it shall be opened unto you” (Matt. 6:7).

When we feel condemned and ashamed, it is He who says, “Neither do I condemn you, go from now on and sin no more.” (John 8:11).

When we hunger, it is He who says, “I am the bread of life” (John 6:48).

When we thirst, it is He who says, “but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him shall never thirst; but the water that I will give him will become in him a well of water springing up to eternal life." (John 4:14).

When we don’t know the way, it is He who says, “I am the way.” (John 14:6).

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

The Desire of My Heart...

I am now 10 days late for that "time of the month". I really tried hard not to let that get to me. But last night was day I went out and bought a pregnancy test kit. 9 days is quite some time to be late. So I went home & did my thing on the stick...NOPE.

Okay God, what's the deal? I know You have a plan and a purpose for my life, and I know You also know the desires of my heart. I just wish so much that Your plans were a little closer to my plans. The Bible says You have plans for me to prosper, plans for good, which isn't a guarantee on being able to "be fruitful and multiply".

I really hate the frustration of being late and wondering if this is the time that being late means I am pregnant. My heart aches. My soul cries out to You Lord.

Friday, April 23, 2010

What To Expect When Your Not Expecting

My emotions are all over the place these days. I am genuinely happy for all the women I know who are expecting, but I must admit I am so jealous. Why not me Lord? Why not me?

A co-worker ticked off a list of all the reasons 'it is ridiculous' for me to try to get pregnant. I felt so defeated after listening to that list. I came home and got a hug from Allyson and just cried and had a horrible migraine. Yeah...having a currently unemployed husband and a daughter who is a freshman in college, it may not be the best time. But I am running out of time quickly.

If everyone waited until everything was perfect to have a child, there would be a lot of people without kids.

I just keep beating myself up for my past. I feel like damaged goods. I know God has forgiven me for choices I made, but I haven't forgiven myself.

I try to imagine the future and I want it to include another child so badly. Unfortunately, Jim & I may need IVF in order for that to become a reality. We don't happen to have $15-20 grand handy.

God, I am trusting in You.

Monday, April 12, 2010

The Good Book

Do you read your Bible regularly? Daily, weekly, now & again? What is stopping you from spending more time in it?

I am an avid reader, so reading is not the problem. The problem for me was to train myself to NOT speed read when I am reading scripture. I read really fast. I can read a 300-400 page book in a day, no problem. I usually don’t spend more than 3 days, even on the 800 pagers you sometimes get. But reading scripture that fast is not good for me. Not if I hope to retain more, learn from it, and have time to let passages sink in. So I use a daily reading plan that works for me.

If you are a “To Do” list person, the list I use gives you a satisfying feeling because there are boxes to check off each day. This is the website I got my plan from. There are several plans to choose from, so check them out and see what works for you.

For some of you, you hate reading. After high school or college you decided you were done with reading/studying. I promise you, this is worthwhile…and NO TESTS!!! But unlike some of the junk we were forced to read in school, this is real world knowledge with daily practical application. For you math hating people…the math in the Bible is pretty cool. How Jesus somehow made 5 loaves and 2 fish feed a multitude. With a reading plan, the scriptures are broken down into smaller pieces you can process. If you don’t have 15 minutes to set aside for this? Log off my blog and Facebook and make some time.

Are you married? Do you have children? How do you think your relationship with them would be if you gave them an hour one day a week? That’s what you do to God when you only go to church on Sunday morning and let your Bible collect dust the rest of the week. Remember that feeling of being so in love with someone when a relationship is new. You wake up thinking of them, you go to sleep thinking of them, you think of different ways to make them happy throughout the day. Make your life be a love song to the Lord. Spend more time thinking on Him, He is the ONLY person who truly loves you wholeheartedly and unconditionally. He proved that on the cross.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Work Ethic

When I was a kid, I always knew how hard my parents worked to make ends meet each month. We had budgets for everything that we had to stick to. Budgets for school clothes, food, entertainment, etc. I remember before we had our own VCR, we used to rent this huge hideous blue betamax machine and rent a video now and again as a treat. We had a chore chart at home where we divided up all the household chores between my brother, sister and I. On top of their jobs, my parents were always active in our church and also with a service club they belonged too.

At times, as a typically selfish child I resented those budgets and not having much extra for “treats”. I was embarrassed at times with our older vehicles, hand made clothing, our crates for book shelves, etc. But looking back at it now that I am an adult and have much more perspective and life experience, I am so grateful for those life lessons.

I have held my job for over 16 years now and have made myself pretty indispensible. I have earned performance awards, special act awards, etc. At my church I have never been one to be comfortable sitting back and watching others do the work. I am pushing up my sleeves, lifting things heavier than I probably should, getting sweaty & dirty, but getting things done. I have always tried to never have the attitude that I am better than anyone else, or that any particular job is “beneath” me. Toilets sometimes need to be cleaned, trash to be taken out, weeds to be pulled, floors to be swept & mopped, carpets to be cleaned, etc. Everything we do is an act of service for the Lord and anything that needs to be done is worth doing right. Autograph your work with excellence.

Where did I acquire this spirit or hard work? Definitely my parents! Through years of watching my parents work, stay up till all hours at times to get things done, numerous potlucks and events at church that needed chairs & tables set up, tablecloths folded back up, kitchens cleaned up, committees, counting offering, charity drives, delivering boxes of food to the needy, service projects, etc. Teaching me how a family sticks together during hard times. I have worked with my family doing janitorial service at car dealerships, paper routes, cataloguing pictures for display albums, adding beads to gowns, babysitting kids for bridal parties, catching doves that didn’t end up flying away at wedding receptions, running errands, moving a camera store to a new location, etc. I know I resented having to do some of those things at the time. Today, I know I am a better person today for having done those things.

I got a paper route as a middle schooler to make some money on my own. Other than some bad rains or heavy holiday ad laden Sunday papers, I delivered those papers on my own with my bike. When I was old enough for a regular job I worked at a department store, a bowling alley, a tuxedo rental shop and throughout my pregnancy and my daughters first year, I worked at a medical research laboratory. Before getting the job I have now, I worked for a pet sitter as well. I never took a dime in public assistance, and I managed to pay my parents rent.

In today’s economy, it is hard to make ends meet, but I know the lessons I learned growing up will carry me & my family through. I thank the Lord for giving me a sound mind, a strong back and lots of elbow grease and my parents for teaching me tenacity.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Getting Pregnant

I thought I was good with not having another child. I am not. I absolutely adore my daughter Allyson, and I am eternally grateful I had her. But I was so young when I had her and too young to really appreciate and enjoy the joy of being pregnant. I hated maternity clothing. I just felt "fat" instead of enjoying my growing belly. I didn't fully fathom that when you are pregnant, it's a time in life where you are being a co-creator with God! How exciting is that!?!? And being as young as Allyson's Dad & I were, we couldn't afford to both take the time off for Doctors appointments. So he went to 1 appointment with me, the one where the pregnancy was confirmed. Of course he was there at her birth as well. We stressed out much of the pregnancy. We were two young kids who didn't quite know the change we were in store for.

I am now happily married to a man who has never had a child. He's never held his own child in his arms and heard first words, witnessed first steps, heard the words "I love you Daddy". He wants so badly to experience the joys and even the frustrations of parenthood. He loves my daughter as his own. But he came into her life when she was a pre-teen. He knows full well she has a Dad and he has never pushed her to call him Dad, only to respect his authority as a step-parent. It's been hard for him to feel left out, because Allyson almost always comes to me for things. When she is truly ticked at me, then...she will talk with Jim.

So last week Jim voiced his feelings that he knows I am dealing better with our infertility issues than he is. He is not ready to call it quits and wants us to discuss our options with our Doctors. When he told me this, it was like yanking a bandage off a wound still healing and ripping the wound open again. I am good at stuffing my feelings down deep and not talking about them, other than to God. God knows my desires for another child, but I haven't talked about it to anyone else. I feel selfish, especially around people who have never been able to conceive. I am blessed with a daughter. And I also HATE hearing things like "Are you crazy?" "You really want another child?" "Ally graduated, your done!" I am only 38 years old. Yes, a little older, but not too old. One of my most dear friends is a bit older than I and she is pregnant right now. I am so excited and happy for her. I know so many who have recently had children or are currently pregnant. I am happy for them, but I admit, I wish I could be one of them.

Jim wrote me a letter after we suffered a miscarriage reminding me that we believe in the God of Abraham and Sarah and that with God all things are possible. Today, our Pastor's devotional was about having the faith of a child, and having absolutely no doubt of God's power. So that is what I am working on. Laying all my anxiety and stress at the foot of the cross and believing in God. I know God is capable of giving us another child, but He may have other plans for us. I pray that whatever His will is, I will find peace and acceptance.

Monday, April 5, 2010

The Glory of Easter

I am so honored and privileged to be part of the praise ministry team at my church led by Daryl Smith & Kaisara Esera. Right off the bat they gave me the song list for each Sunday mornings worship time and gave me accurate lyric sheets with the correct order that they will be singing/playing. So appreciated! After many Sunday mornings of everyone in church swiveling in their seats to look back at me running the slides when they weren’t right…oh how nice to know Daryl is so prepared. And they are good at expressing their gratitude, which is not necessary, but nice. Everyone likes a pat on the back now and again. Anytime they have made changes in how we “do business”, the changes are fully explained and they have always made sense to me. I see how we are constantly striving to make the worship experience better and better. How we want to make sure the focus is on God and that we do everything we can to not be a distraction.

This Easter was so special for me. Being part of such a reverent Good Friday service really set my mind to fully comprehend what an incredible sacrifice was made for ME. My Pastor wrote three monologues from the point of view of Simon Peter, Mary Magdalene and a Centurion at the crucifixion. I saw myself in each of them. Simon Peter…the times I know my behavior has betrayed my faith. The times I have behaved badly and it would be hard to know my identity is in Christ. The times I have ignored that still small voice in me and felt the eyes of Christ on me. The Centurion…the times I have been a part of something I know to be wrong and wished I could be somewhere else or be someone else. The times I have been afraid to speak out. And Mary…I have definitely had times in my life I walked with my eyes downcast and felt unclean. But I also know the feeling of being cradled in the arms of Christ and the forgiveness and cleansing only He can give. I spent much of the service in tears in the darkened sanctuary. Hearing the sound of the nails being pounded in...and knowing my guilt.

So many years I have gone from Palm Sunday and Christ’s triumphal entry straight to Easter morning and His resurrection. I haven’t really spent time thinking about the bloody and bruised and humiliated Christ. It’s so much more pleasant to think of beautiful baby Jesus in the manger and Christ in flowing white robes than to think of Christ covered in blood and torn flesh. But it’s SO important to remember daily just how deep the Father’s love for us was and is. And yes, Christ died for the sins of all mankind, but never doubt for one second that He would have gone through it all, JUST FOR YOU!

How deep the Father's love for us,
How vast beyond all measure
That He should give His only Son
To make a wretch His treasure

How great the pain of searing loss,
The Father turns His face away
As wounds which mar the chosen One,
Bring many sons to glory

Behold the Man upon a cross,
My sin upon His shoulders
Ashamed I hear my mocking voice,
Call out among the scoffers

It was my sin that held Him there
Until it was accomplished
His dying breath has brought me life
I know that it is finished

I will not boast in anything
No gifts, no power, no wisdom
But I will boast in Jesus Christ
His death and resurrection

Why should I gain from His reward?
I cannot give an answer
But this I know with all my heart
His wounds have paid my ransom

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

My "Bucket" List - 130 Things not necessarily in order of importance...

• Have a child or adopt a child
• Forgive Myself
• Forgive Others
• Have an attitude of gratitude
• Better control my tongue
• Learn how to take a compliment well
• Live in a small town
• Spend more time in nature
• Stop biting my nails when I get stressed out
• Try things that scare me
• Get my left inner wrist tattoo “I Am Saved Romans 5:8” (Only if hubby gives his approval, but I think this will always be a hubby veto!)
• Send a message in a bottle
• Be Debt Free and financially more independent
• Help a family in need
• Own a big flat screen TV
• Own a really nice digital Nikon
• Be passionately kissed in the rain
• Grow old with my husband
• Have a romantic candlelit dinner
• Kiss on top of the Eiffel Tower
• Kiss on top of the Empire State Building
• Pray more often
• Read my Bible more often
• Read Genesis thru Psalms
• Read Proverbs thru Malachi
• Read the New Testament
• Visit the Holy Land
• Visit Petra, Jordan
• Attend the Kentucky Derby
• Attend the Summer Olympics
• Attend the Winter Olympics
• Attend the Super Bowl
• Go fly-fishing
• Play racquetball
• See a Nascar race
• Watch an Angels game from a luxury suite
• Watch a Ducks game from front row ice
• Go to England and see Buckingham Palace, Big Ben,
• Visit Italy – Rome, Tuscany, Venice
• Visit Greece
• Visit Hawaii
• Be a better role model
• When possible – donate time or money to help others
• Make a difference in a child’s life
• Continue college studies
• Get published
• Go camping on a lake so you can canoe
• Drive a race car
• Make someone smile or laugh daily
• Drive along Route 66
• Gallop a horse on a beach
• Climb Sydney Harbour Bridge
• Achieve a more ideal weight
• Run a 5K, 10K or ½ marathon
• Take part in a mini triathlon
• Go water rafting
• Ocean kayaking
• Start my own business doing something I love
• Be a mentor
• Learn to play chess
• Skydive
• Paraglide
• Give a heartfelt surprise to someone
• Perform more kind deeds without expecting anything in return
• Fly in a hot air balloon
• See the Northern Lights
• Go to the Magic Castle
• Adopt a dog from an animal rescue shelter
• Get a makeover
• Learn ballroom dancing
• Learn a martial art
• Pack your bags for a random road trip with no itinerary planned at all
• Swim with dolphins
• Buy the software to design my Dream Home
• Whip up the best meal ever for my loved ones
• Bake cakes for someone special
• Fly a kite
• Go snorkeling and explore marine life up close
• Go on a marriage retreat
• Get closure on all my hurt, grievances and unhappiness from the past
• Bury the hatchet with anyone I need to
• Go on a picnic
• Do something completely crazy and out of character
• Visit a volcano
• Fly in a helicopter
• Go on a cruise
• Visit a castle
• Learn more sign language
• Visit Alaska
• Own a home
• Drink more water
• Sleep under the stars
• Go to bed earlier
• Take more photographs
• Have more confidence
• Take better care of myself
• Learn to knit
• Learn to crochet
• Invest
• Go camping more often
• Catch a firefly
• Visit a working lighthouse
• Disney World
• Explore a ghost town
• Visit New York City
• Attend a taping of Saturday Night Live
• Ice skate at Rockefeller Center
• Carriage ride in Central Park
• Hear a wolf howl in the wild
• Kiss the Blarney Stone
• Ride the train to the Grand Canyon
• Sleep in a castle
• Tour Hearst Castle
• Visit Alcatraz
• Go whale watching
• Visit Scotland
• Visit Ireland
• Attend a show at the Hollywood Bowl
• See the Rockettes
• See a Broadway play
• Cook with herbs from my own garden
• Eat fish & chips in London
• Eat gelato in Italy
• Take a cooking class
• Age gracefully
• Make exercise a regular habit
• Meditate
• Grow a bonsai tree
• Sew a quilt
• Enter a photography contest

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Simplicity of Childhood

I had a fun and mostly carefree childhood. I always had the good fortune of having great friends no matter where we lived. My friend Darlene when I stayed with my grandparents, Cynthia & my beloved Scotty at our first house in SJC and then Michelle, Asha, John and many more off of Ortega Highway. And when I wasn't playing with friends and came to work with my Mom, SJC was a much safer place. I could walk to the library alone and spend hours reading. I could walk down to the candy store this little old lady ran and get some cheap treats. Go to the butcher shop for the worlds best beef jerky. I knew the owners of every business around the mission in San Juan and could spend hours looking over the cat merchandise, beads, or doll house miniatures.

Whenever I stayed at my Grandma's house in Garden Grove, Darlene & I could not get enough of playing with the dolls from my Grandma's doll collection that she would let us play with or playing with the whole Strawberry Shortcake doll collection. Remember those dolls? They all smelled so good. Even the mean Purple Pie Man!

Scotty was my absolute best friend in the whole world in our little duplex in SJC off of Calle Villa Clara. Oh man! My first day of school getting on the bus and slipping with my stupid patent leather shoes and splitting my chin open. Scotty was so sad to have to ride the bus all alone while watching his mom carry me back home to take me to the hospital for stitches. Scotty went to the circus with me for my birthday. We rode our bikes all around the neighborhood playing cops & robbers because I had my amazing CHiPs bike. No stupid banana seat girls bike for me!!! And whenever something needed to be fixed on my bike, we could knock on Mr. Blum's door and he would gladly patch a tire or pump up a flat, or fix a chain that had de-railed. And when I felt like being a girl, I played with Cynthia who was very into collecting those plastic horses and held little club meetings in her garage. I also played with my big brother Jeff and his naughty friend Jason Bicknell. We had all the action figures from the Marvel and DC Comics and hot wheels cars. The Trans Am from Smokey & the Bandit being a favorite! We played ding dong ditch, but the neighbors didn't mind (except for one neighbor we all secretly thought was a witch) because they knew it was just us kids having fun. We would stretch out our garden hoses and have hose fights.

Moving off of Ortega Highway in SJC was at first tragic for me. How could I leave Scotty?!?!? But I made friends with Michelle Pettit and her brother John right off the bat. We were in Mrs. Case's 3rd grade class together and inseperable. I spent so many nights at sleep overs at her house. Her older cousin Pam gave us her old training bras and we thought we were so cool. MTV was born and Michelle's family had cable!!! So we pretended to be the Go Go's or Cindy Lauper and listened to the old AM station the Mighty 690! We ran all over the place in our neighborhood. Playing in the creekbeds catching frogs & turtles, swinging on the old tire swing over the creek, riding our bikes, roller skating, hanging out at Tuesday's Horse Stables, stealing pomegranates from our neighbors tree, playing with Barbies, occasionally washing cars to make a little money.

Then...moving from SJC to El Toro in 5th grade and having to leave my dog Shadow behind. But again I lucked out by meeting Kalei and Dawn my first day at Santiago. Swim team at the club, the freedom to ride my bike to the club to swim every day it was warm enough to go.

Oh to experience that freedom of being able to run around barefoot, whole long warm summers to be gone all day and get home when the street lights came on. Slumber parties, karaoke using brooms for guitars and overturned trash cans and wooden spoons to play drums. Hours spent laughing, playing, using our imaginations and having a ball.

Now plenty of not so fun things were going on around me as a kid, but my parents did such a good job of sheltering or protecting me from those things. We definitely were always tight on money, my Mom was ill with MS, my sister was a runaway, my brother could definitely be a big jerk, etc. But I can look back and the wonderful fun and carefree times dominate my memories and never fail to bring a smile to my face.

Monday, March 8, 2010

He's Still Working On Me

"He's still working on me to make me what I ought to be.
It took Him just a week to make the moon and stars,
The sun and the earth and Jupiter and Mars.
How loving and patient He must be, He's still working on me."

Those are the lyrics to a song I learned as a child in church. How true they remain! I remain frustrated about the living situation I am currently in, but God is giving me pause to have a better persepctive on it. My Pastor has spent the last couple weeks speaking on "How to Recapture Lost Joy" "How to Maintain Your Joy" and at my AWANA club, one of the girls I teach asked me questions about the story of Naomi & Ruth. OKAY GOD!!! YOU HAVE MY ATTENTION!!!

But I realized the anger I have towards my MIL is so misplaced. It's not her fault that we live together. It is just how it is. She has financial hardship in that the company she works for lowered her wages substantially because they knew they could. She is in her 60's and needs insurance. So they overwork her and pay her crumbs, but they know that in this economy and at her age that she won't leave. My husband has been unemployed for over a year, and before that, he's been underemployed as far as salary. Good jobs are hard to come by here Anyways, I am entitled to be frustrated, but I can't place blame on my MIL.

Pastor Mike said "When that which you trust in as your source of faith & assurance is greater than your circumstance, you will still have joy". WOW!!! I have let other "things", things that moth & rust will destroy become more important than the fact I am a child of the King! It made me re-think my priorities and perspective. I am really trying to focus on how God provides and turn my negativity and pessimism around.

We just got back our tax return and I was so excited that we actually got a little bit back this year. But then my daughter's car started sounding like a wooden roller coaster when it is going up a big hill, that awful creaky sound. So we took it in to Bo, and of course...$837 later, she has new brakes and fixed axles and no more creaking. I at first got really mad. I told Jim it's like the stupid car knew we had money and decided 'ha ha ha, not for long!' But Jim said, "More like God made sure the car held out until we had this provision". Thank you Lord for giving me a godly husband to turn things around when I can't. Thank you Lord for making sure we had the money to ensure our daughter is safe.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Marriage Is Hard

For most women, we started planning our weddings when we were still little girls. And of course, we all thought we would live "Happily Ever After." When you are a little girl you don't have a clue the amount of work it takes to make a marriage work. You just 'know' that you are a Princess and one day you will meet a boy who doesn't have cooties who will be your Prince Charming, and he will be riding a white horse and you'll live in a castle and your life will be like a fairy tale. grow up, still believe in "Happily Ever After", but with a little more perspective that comes with maturity. After a few years of marriage you begin to realize how much work marriage truly is.

I'm not trying to say I have any regrets. I LOVE my husband, and I am glad every day that I am married to him. But it's hard to let go of all those things you thought you would have. All those plans you made in your head that kept slowly changing as you moved from child to teen to womanhood.

I am 37 years old. At this age I always thought I would have my own home, kids, pets. But how it's turned out, I live in a rented condo with my MIL out of necessity. Every single day of my married life has been lived under the same roof as my MIL. What was supposed to be a temporary situation has never changed and it's not looking like it's gonna change any time soon after a year of unemployment for my husband. Our situation just gets worse. I have 1 child, God just didn't have more in His plans for me. That took 6 years to come to terms with, but I have. I understand that if I had young children to care for, I wouldn't be able to serve as effectively as I do at church. It would be difficult or impossible for me to take a huge group of kids to christian camp each summer if I had a little one I would be leaving behind. And husband is allergic to cats and my MIL is allergic to everything else including real Christmas trees.

I don't come home to my own home. I come home to a rented home filled with things that are mostly not mine, not my style, and doesn't feel like "home" and a MIL who is always here. Pretty much all of my wedding gifts, china, pots & pans, etc. remain packed or in a storage unit. I wanted to wait to use them until we had our own place and I could unpack that china and plan my own dinner parties and come home to my own home where I am the only one to greet my husband at the door. But life doesn't always go as we hope.

I struggle with this daily. I know God has blessed me abundantly in SO many ways. I have a roof over my head, a job, a daughter who is a college student and works and has a relationship with the Lord, a husband who loves me, ministries that I love being part of. These are wonderful things. But I struggle with thinking, "There must be more than this." I have days I just want to run away.

Marriage is hard. But I took my vows seriously. "For better or worse" "Till death parts us". Divorce is not in my vocabulary at all! This is a season where God is stretching and growing me, and that is usually uncomfortable. But I know God is with me, and He is at work in all this, and His timing is perfect, mine not so much. So I need to learn patience, and remember that He is in the drivers seat, not me and trust that his plans are for good.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

The Gift of Art

I haven't written in a week. I have had a nasty sinus & ear infection and been on antibiotics and have not been a happy camper. But I returned to work and I feel like I am on the tail end now. Thank goodness.

I was thinking today about what a blessing it has been to have been brought up in a home where "art" is appreciated and encouraged.

My Mother was a very successful seamstress for many years before becoming a wedding coordinator. She started out making childrens clothing and then moved into making custom wedding gowns and headpieces, bridesmaid gowns, etc. Her Mother was also a seamstress and made custom plus size clothing and childrens clothing. My Mom also did various crafts and as a kid I would sometimes help make things with her to sell at craft faires.

My Father is a professional photographer & he managed a camera store in Corona Del Mar & later Irvine. He also taught photography for many years at the Irvine Fine Arts Center. He has photographed car shows, horseback rides and air shows as well. He has captured millions of moments through his lens.

My parents have always encouraged & enabled me to express myself through art. My Mom, by teaching me so many handcrafts growing up. Handmade victorian lace ornaments, padded photo albums, aprons, etc. My Dad, by buying me various cameras throughout my lifetime, and not fussing at developing roll after roll of film for me. For gifting me with my trusty Nikon N65 and teaching me to properly hold the camera and support the lens, depth of field, aperture settings, etc. Now the love of photography has been passed on to my daughter, and also my husband. My Dad employed my husband at his camera store and brought him along on horseback rides to teach him more about photography. Now we are all jealous of my parents cameras!

I work full time in a pretty high stress position for the federal government. So art is such a stress reliever for me. I bake, journal, scrapbook, sew, draw, take pictures, make slide shows, etc. Art is my outlet and it brings me so much joy.

I encounter people all the time who see my scrapbooks, or something I have baked or handmade and say "I could never do that." YES!!! YES YOU CAN!!! I worry so much that homemaking skills and art are quickly becoming lost arts. Schools have limited funding and the arts are some of the first things to go. Home Ec isn't even an elective at most schools now. It's a shame. I am blessed to be able to teach a wonderful group of 3rd thru 6th grade girls each week at AWANA and I love to teach them crafts or bake with them.

Use your hands! Be industrious! A Proverbs 31 woman is what I aspire to be.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Delivering Valentines With AWANA Kids

My husband serves as the Commander for the AWANA program at our church and I serve as a Director for the Truth & Training girls. We have preschool through 6th grade kids in our program. Tonight is one of my favorite field trips we do each year. We spent a lot of effort making hand made valentine's cards for the residents of a local senior living facility that is within walking distance of our church.

We divide the kids up into small groups with the parents and chaperones and the kids go door to door inside the center delivering valentines. The residents are always so appreciative. We get the occasional cranky person, but most love to see the smiling faces of the kids.

It is far too evident that some of these residents rarely have any visitors. Unfortunately, many of the residents are very lonely and don't get visited by their own families. So when we come by sharing a smile, a hand drawn card and hugs, you can tell it makes their day. It's a small token, but it makes an impact in our community and for the Kingdom of God. The Bible tells us "For whatsoever you do for the least of these, ye do also for Me".

The kids love doing service projects. Over Christmas we collected over 120 boxes filled with food and gifts for local injured young marines down at Camp Pendleton. We were able to hand deliver the boxes and watch the men open them. We are going to go back down to Pendleton sometime over spring break to prepare a home cooked meal for the guys and spend some time fellowshipping with them.

Doing service for others is a wonderful thing to teach your children. It's not just a "Christian" thing. It's a great way to teach your children just how fortunate they are by helping others who need it. Have an attitude of gratitude.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Scaling Back

I cleaned my closet out on Saturday, and was able to take the day off yesterday to do some more cleaning. I threw a lot of stuff away that I just don't need or use. I don't think I will be moving any time soon (I can dream). But I don't want to have so much stuff that it will take me literally months to pack when the time does come.

I was married before to a not so nice man once. When our marriage ended, I had to leave in the middle of the night with a convoy or family & friends helping me take what I could, while my ex worked the graveyard shift. Needless to say, when you only have a few hours to pack & leave, I left a lot behind. So after that, I started to hold on to things. I felt more comforted being surrounded by "things".

But I am happily married now, and as a Christian and with maturity I have realized that "things" just don't matter as much anymore. Now of course there are some things with special meaning I will NEVER part with. The hand painted china plates my maternal Grandmother painted, the 2 lavendar teapots my Mother gave me, photo albums & scrapbooks, hand made items made by loving hands of family and friends. These are things to be cherished during my time here on earth and things that bring me joy to have around. But I just don't need so much other "stuff".

So this is going to be a long term project for me. Little by little as time allows, go through closets, drawers, the garage, and any storage areas and start to let go of things. And of course, less shopping so I don't replace that "stuff" with "new stuff".

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Shopping In My Closet

I feel SO accomplished today. It has been really raining here for most of the day, so I have been indoors. My sewing machine decided not to cooperate with me after only making 2 headbands...ARGH! So I decided to come upstairs and tackle my closet.

How exciting! Clothes keep getting pushed farther to the left as I hang up my clean laundry. So I pulled everything out and re-evaluated what I really need. From one of the blogs I read, I realized when I donate clothing I am giving up valuable fabric! So I looked through everything and was so happy to discover things I had forgotten I had while they were stuck to the left side of the dark closet. I also decided it is time for me to part with things that for some reason or other I have kept for years, yet never wear. Why do women do that?

We have our skinny clothes, our "fat day" clothes and the clothes that fit us now. So I did away with the things I just don't wear. But instead of just carting it all to Goodwill, I kept some things to cut up and use for fabric. I have some beautiful wool, linen, embroidered bits, etc. Now I can make some throw pillows, bags, headbands, etc. Whatever I feel inspired to make. And it won't cost me near as much. How 'bout that? Being kind to the earth and my wallet at the same time by re-purposing. Of course...sewing anything is contingent on my cheap sewing machine behaving!

Friday, February 5, 2010

5 Things I am Thankful For Friday

Not necessarily in this order, but it's the order I put the pictures...

1) My husband & I don't owe taxes this year praise the Lord!

2) Snow in the mountains! We will hopefully be heading up to Big Bear sometime soon for some fun in the snow.

3) My husband. This year of unemployment has been very hard on us both, but I am grateful to have him in my life EVERY single day.

4) My parents, they are coming down from WA state in a couple weeks. YAY!!!

5) My daughter Allyson. She is the light of my life. Today, in my stress she reminded me to read Matthew 6:25-26 and give my stress and anxiety to God.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Toughest Critic...

Why are pretty much all women their own worst critic? Why do we do this to ourselves? I am 37 years old, not 17 years old. But I look at myself in the mirror and always seem to judge myself on what I looked like "back in the day." Yes, the weight has crept on over the years, and yes I need to do something about it. But I need to do something about it because I need to be healthy and take care of my heart and lungs and live a full and healthy life. Not lose weight to be a skinny bitch.

When I see myself naked, I am so quick to find every flaw in myself. I forget to notice that I have good skin, I have womanly curves, good feet, etc. I just see every dimple in my flesh and loathe myself for it. When my husband sees me naked, he smiles and stares, and I know he is not thinking a single negative thing. He loves my body, he loves my curves, he loves me.

I am so bad about negative self talk and it drives my husband nuts. When I say bad things about myself, he sometimes reminds me, "Hey, that's MY wife your talking about!" I need to remember that. I have to stop it.

So I was in the bathroom at work the other day and I found a pink post-it stuck to the bathroom door on the inside that said "Smile! You are beautiful just as you are!" It did make me smiile. Intrigued, I went back to my desk and went to the site. I hope you check the site out too. The owner of the site has the goal of 'Ending Fat Talk One Anonymous Post At A Time'.

Another site I love is This site is chock full of free printables and ideas on how to do kind things for others. The world definitely needs more kindness. There is far too much rudeness rampant these days.

Do yourself a favor today, be kind to yourself! Lighten up! Quit being your own toughest critic. And do something kind for a stranger, maybe they'll pass it on!

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Sewing For Tina

My friend Tina is due in early April with her first child, a girl. I am so glad I learned to sew. I bought the softest flannel in 6 bright cheery prints to make a quilt for the baby and ended up with leftover flannel. I made some reversible bibs and burp cloths with it, and another small tag blanket. Not the best camera wasn't handy so I used my phone's camera function. I will try to post better pics later when I finish the back of the quilt. So far just the top is done. I will also take some pics of the other things I made.

My daughter has a friend who is due in late March/early April as well and I am going to make her some things as well for her baby, also a girl. The close up print is what I will use. My daughter really likes that particular flannel.

My sewing skills are improving with each little project I do. I wish I had a better machine, but mine is okay for the level I am at. Down the line I definitely want to invest in a better machine. My Mom gave me her old serger and I need to pull it out and figure out how to use it. My friend Cate, who taught me to sew, may need to come to the rescue again and show me a thing or two about a serger.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Transitioning To Adulthood

These photos were taken at my daughter's Baccalaureate last June. She was chosen to sing at the event, a beautiful song entitled "Small Part of the World." I was so proud of her, still am. I can't believe how fast the time just flew right by. She is now a freshmen in college, studying to become an elementary school teacher. She attends school in the mornings and works at a private Christian school run by our church in the afternoons. One of the teachers is pregnant and going on maternity leave and my daughter has been asked to assist with the 1st grade class during her maternity leave. She is very excited to be able to help out in a classroom setting. We will see how she feels being in the classroom, and the chance she has to make sure this is the career path she wants to continue on. I am very excited for her.
Do you remember this age? Being so young and full of possibility? You know what? Why do we have to let that sense of excitement and possibility end as we start to age? I am only 37 years old with a daughter already making that transition into adulthood. My husband and I spent many years trying to conceive, and it just hasn't happened for us. But now we are looking towards the future with eyes full of hope and possibility. We are young, what are we going to do with all this time we have?
I took on guitar lessons and have also learned to sew. My husband is currently unemployed, which is a bit scary. But he wasn't happy in the job he was doing and so we are thinking this may be a blessing in disguise. Maybe now he will be lucky enough to find a job doing something he really wants to do and enjoys.

The possibilities are endless!