Monday, December 19, 2011

It Takes A Village

  My daughter is pretty amazing.  She's SO BOLD!!!  Sometime's she drives me crazy, okay a lot of the time.  But in important things, she's pretty darn awesome.  She's heading back to Haiti in 2.5 weeks.  So many people I have told this fact too, tell me variations on "what a good Mom I am".  Okay, yeah, I think I am a pretty decent Mom.  But you know what, I CANNOT take the credit alone.  No way.

  It takes a village.  That may be the only thing Hillary Clinton & I agree on :) 

  My daughter has had a Christian ubringing and has been surrounded by a church family who love her, support her and most importantly have held her accountable.  She has a supportive family and extended family who have enocuraged her to do her best in everything she does and have held her to higher standards at times, because we KNEW she was capable of meeting them.  And she has friends who I LOVE dearly.  A truly good bunch of people.

  So for those of you who have told me I'm a good Mom, I gladly accept your compliment.  But for those of you who truly know my daughter, you know SHE'S PRETTY AWESOME ALL ON HER OWN!  She teaches me all the time.  I was stressed about raising funds for her next trip and she has trusted in God for the details and it seems to all be coming together.  She told me to quit stressing because she knew she was in for a blessing.

  Keep her in prayer.  She flies to Haiti on January 5th.  This is her second trip and I think it's just one more of many to come in her future. 

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Teach Your Daughter To Cry

Right now is a very exciting time in the life of my daughter Allyson. She recently went on a mission trip to Haiti and she will be heading back next January. She’s developed such a heart for ministry and I could not be any prouder of her. She’s a young college student with her whole life ahead of her and so many choices & opportunities await.

It’s also a time of joy as we approach the holiday season . . . yet even in the midst of everything coming up our hearts remains focused on the needs of this world. We’re having a big Harvest Faire at our church this weekend and Allyson is baking TONS of cupcakes to sell to raise funds for her next trip to Haiti. She is also raising awareness for her beloved Swamp Kids and selling t-shirts. ( I’ve been helping women from my church sew pillowcases for orphans in Mexico so they can have something handmade especially for them.

Recently, I found a weird verse from Jeremiah 9, and in context, the prophet was talking about how horrible it was that Israel had fallen from God’s ways. The nation was dealing with wickedness, deceit, idolatry, and all kinds of evil.

In verses 17-18, the Bible says, “Thus says the LORD of hosts: “Consider and call for the mourning women, that they may come; and send for skillful wailing women, that they may come. Let them make hast and take up a wailing for us, that our eyes may run with tears, and our eyelids gush with water . . .”

Isn’t that kind of strange? God was calling for the professional criers and the wailing women. There was a need for tears, but a total lack of mourning and grief. Then in verse 20, Jeremiah 9 says, “Yet hear the word of the LORD, O women, And let your ear receive the word of His mouth; Teach your daughters wailing . . .”

I’m a mom with a daughter, and we always need to be on the lookout for what God tells us to teach our kids. So here, God is saying to teach my daughter to cry . . . to shed tears . . . and even to wail. Allyson used to tease me about how quickly things bring me to tears, but she is worse than I am now. But here, God is talking about big stuff, like rebellion against God, and not caring about sin.

As moms, how often do we allow thoughts about the injustices of this world to penetrate into our hearts, to the place where we would care enough to cry? Or care enough to motivate our girlfriends and our daughters? All across the globe, and in our own nation, and right down the street, and (sadly) even blaring into family rooms through televisions and movies, there’s horrible stuff going on.

Its stuff God calls SIN and INJUSTICE.

Even while living in God’s joy and peace, there should be seasons when the needs of this world should make us so sad, and so shocked, and so ashamed (especially as mothers who deeply care for the next generation). At times, we should be compelled to fall to our knees, where we should cry, and even weep. Yet as women and as moms, some of us are just too calloused . . . or too busy . . . or too tired.

Moms, we need to quit striving, and to quit caring so much about what others think . . . about us, and about our homemaking skills, and our motherhood successes (or failures).

Instead, we need to care more about what God thinks. He loves us so much, and He loves our daughters, even more than we do. For both moms and daughters, our calling is to simply walk with Him and to abide in Him, and to follow His leading, day-by-day. As we each draw closer to Him, He will show us His daily divine balance, to keep our family (and for our daughter’s future family) in His order, as He will also show us how to help others.

Needs that should concern a godly girl . . .

As Christian women (of all ages), we need to allow ourselves to see the big needs of this world, especially those that concern women, and girls, and children . . . like teenage pregnancy, abortion, pornography, the plight of orphan children, child slavery, human trafficking (especially of young girls), hurting and broken hearts, neglected children, and so many unsaved women and lost children who desperately need the love of Jesus.

Many of these are feminine needs that should “pull” on the God-given “nurturing” and life-giving hearts of our daughters. In this next generation, it’s going to take a mighty army of godly daring daughters to minister to these needs. But will our girls even hear about them?

It’s a responsibility of godly motherhood to instill in our girls a heart for the world’s needs (just look at Proverbs 31:8-9, about pleading for the cause of the speechless and those appointed to die, or verse 20, about extending our hands to the poor and the needy). “Let my heart be broken with the things that break the heart of God.”

As women of God, we need to care. Will our girls grow up to be pampered or passionate? Will they be cute, or compassionate? As moms, let’s ask God to give us more of His heart and His perspective. Our little girls don’t need to know all the nitty-gritty details of the world’s horrible evils; but as they’re old enough to understand, we need to teach our daughters to pray, and to pray HARD!

Our daughters can be radiant pure lights . . . to reach a very dark world.

We need to teach our girls to cry.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Living Simply

For all the mothers who read this, remember when you were pregnant and the 'nesting' instinct kicked in?  You wanted everything clean, everything in its place, etc.  I am feeling like that, just not the whole pregnant part.

I have been doing some online research on simple living and I found a website called Simple Organized Living.  Part of me is jealous of the author of the site.  I want her 120 year old farmhouse!  But no, I love my life and I REALLY don't want to live in Michigan where her farmhouse is!  But she has given me a ton of food for thought.

I'm thinking about our upcoming move and trying to put in place plans now to save more and have those plans already be a habit so that when we move, it will already be the 'norm'.  I have found a multitude of uses for vinegar from cooking to cleaning to laundry.  Vinegar is super cheap and can replace so many harmful chemicals in my home and also save a lot of money in the process.  Really excited to make that switch when I run out of the products I currently have.  Don't want to just throw them out because that would be wasteful too.

I've given thought to our bills and how we can save money in various ways.  Phone service is a biggie.  We researched the cheapest landline service and it is $37 a month, which equals $444 a year!  Ouch!  We won't be having phone service.  We found out that we can keep a landline phone plugged in and it will work for 911 only.  So in the event of an emergency and our cell phones won't work or lines are busy, we can still call 911.

Groceries:  I have been cutting coupons for some time now, but I am getting better at researching my stores flyers and finding the sales.  So we are less loyal to specific brands when there's a good sale.  I plan meals based on the meat prices, etc.  We have a chest freezer, so I buy meat in bulk and separate it in freezer bags for meals.  This works out good because if you take some time, you can go ahead and add in marinades, etc. which will save time.  I also shop in other places like CVS & Rite Aid occasionally.  They are close to me so I am not wasting gas.  They have excellent sales on certain items and you earn money back many times.  I've also noticed how expensive bread is, have you?  The cheap loaves always seem to taste stale the day you buy them (my opinion).  So I found some recipes and I have made my own bread.  Nothing beats the smell and taste of fresh baked bread!  Bisquick is EXPENSIVE, but we like pancakes.  I found a pancake recipe from scratch that top Bisquick or Krusteaz mix any day of the week.

Clothes:  This will be a way I personally can save some money.  Jim & Allyson aren't fans of second hand clothing.  That's okay because Allyson buys her own clothes these days, so it's not money out of my pocket.  And Jim has a ton of work clothes and shirts that we care for properly so they will last quite some time.  Me, I am absolutely fine with gently used clothing.  I in fact love to spend the afternoon scouring the racks at Goodwill, etc. to see what I might find.  My last trip I found a jacket I had coveted at Kohl's but it was $60.  It was cute, but not $60 cute.  I found it brand new with tags in my size at Goodwill for $9.99!!!  I also found two other cute tops that are designers from Kohls that were in 'like new' condition for $5 a piece.  I am losing weight and I am trying to not go broke buying clothing as I drop pounds.  I sew, so I will try to alter pieces I have to fit longer if I can.  Hiding some elastic in the backs of pants to keep them from falling down.  I see the cutest clothing from Coldwater Creek and other designers in excellent condition in smaller sizes.  So when I get this weight off, I am gonna look so cute for cheap!

Toiletries:  I've read of a lot of women who have done away with shampoo & conditioner.  Still struggling with the idea of giving those up, but I am going to try it.  They cleanse their hair using a combo of water & baking soda and condition with apple cider vinegar.  Hmmm...but they rave about their shiny non-frizzy hair.  We'll see.  But shampoo & conditioner weren't invented until like the 1930's.  If you look at old photos, their is some shiny healthy looking hair.  And this baking soda and water recipe and vinegar rinse are old school, so maybe.  I am also switching to the oil cleansing method for washing my face.  The science behind that just makes sense and Lord know skincare products cost an arm and a leg!  Both of these changes eliminate more chemicals from entering my system and hopefully reduce my cancer risks a bit too.

Clutter: Our house is jam packed.  So I am going to be going through it all to figure out what we really use, what we really need and what we can give away to those who need it more.  Since we share with Jim's Mom, I will need to purchase some items for our home, but I know right where I am going to go.  Jim & I spent hours yesterday scouring the many aisles in the antique shops up in Orange.  Vintage pyrex, etc.  Happy thoughts! 

Less is more.  Think simple.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Craving God More

  So I am down 14 pounds!  God is SO good.  I have been studying the Made To Crave book by Lysa TerKeurst and it's really sinking in.  I'm also reading my Bible chronologically along with it.  Between the two, I find myself talking to God more and more and my relationship and reliance on Him to be my strength is growing.  They say "Faith" is like a muscle and the more you exercise it, the stronger it gets.

  Things are looking up.  Jim and I bought some boxes and we are beginning to think of the things we can begin packing up now to make our move next Feb/Mar easier.  I have so many books, so I have got to go through them to see which ones I really want to keep and which ones I can donate to Goodwill.  Our church is doing the annual community Thanksgiving dinner, so I will be donating some clothing to that.  It feels good to actually be doing something proactive about moving.  And visually, seeing some packed boxes will do my heart good.  PROGRESS IS BEING MADE!!!

  Reading my Bible chronologically has been perfectly timed with reading Made To Crave.  Weight loss is such a tough journey and I am learning to be content with what God has for me and what I truly need vs. the excessive amounts I had become used to.  I am reminded so much in the book of Job about what real suffering is.  So when I think I am going to "die" if I don't eat some sweets or a second helping of something, I think of Job and I know I am just fine!  I also think about the multitude of life lessons contained in the book of Genesis.  I know I need to be patient and trust in God.  God's timing is not my own.  The people who trusted in God usually led a better life than the ones who deviated from His plans.  I also have acknowledged my sin of gluttony, and all sin has consequences.  This weight didn't appear overnight, it won't go away that fast either. 

  I am definitely feeling better these days.  A combination of feeling better because I am eating better and drinnking nothing but tea and water.  I have been much better at giving God the priority He deserves and spending time in His Word.  I am learning to love myself a little more each day.  I know I grieve the Lord when I bash myself, because He made me.  I am not junk.  I know I was made to reflect His image and I intend to keep doing a better job of that.  Work in progress.

Friday, October 7, 2011

In Your Anger Do Not Sin

Ephesians 4:26 says, "In your anger, do not sin."  Yesterday was a victory in that area.  I was really angry about a situation between my MIL and my daughter and it really frustrated me and stressed me out.  But after a long cry to my husband, and a time of prayer to lay that issue at His feet...I did not sin.  Sin in this case being turning to food and eating away my stress.  I went home and could have ended up even more angry, because someone left dishes in the sink & counters and we had an ant battle.  I just got to work cleaning it all up, and washing dishes, pots and wiping everything down.  Afterwards, I pulled out some bell peppers, tomatoes, red onion, cucumber and chopped it all up.  I made a fabulous tuna fish salad loaded with my chopped veggies and a splash of red wine vinegar.  Satisfying colors, texture and crunch.  Jim had pizza.  I admit, I had one bite of his pizza, but that was enough.  No gluttony.  No overindulging.  Thank you God for being "enough and then some" last night.  12 pounds released!

Tuesday, October 4, 2011


I am still sticking with my healthy eating.  God is so good.  Proverbs 16:3 says "Commit to the Lord whatever you do and He will establish your plans."  I even baked dozens of homemade cookies the other night and didn't eat them!  I had a couple on Saturday night after I had walked miles at the air show in Miramar.  I am learning to not treat desserts and sweet treats as an everyday occurrence, but saving them for special times.  The occasional small piece of cake at someones Birthday party, or wedding.  Or for a day like the air show day when I have done so much exercise that a small treat is hard earned.

Reading the book Made to Crave has been life altering for me.  I am seeing this journey as SO much more than just the desire to wear smaller sizes and receive compliments from others.  This struggle is about being right with God, my health and my desire to live a long life bringing Him glory.

I am working on my negative self talk.  I am and have always been my own worst enemy.  I am learning to define myself how God defines me.  I am precious, forgiven, set free, accepted, holy, loved, confident, and victorious.

Whenever I have cravings, I remind myself how strong God is and that I have His power available to me if I ask for it.  God has the power to raise people from the dead, so helping me fight off cravings and dealing with my unhealthy food addictions will be a snap for Him!

I am also reminding myself that God made me for so much more than how I have been living.  I want to live to my full potential in Christ and I refuse to settle for less. 

It's been hard denying myself much of the foods I love.  But I know that everything is permissible but not everything is beneficial for me.  So I am making intentional sacrifices to grow closer to God.  Luke 9:23 says, "If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me."  I am making sure that my heart is in the right place.  I am making these sacrifices to honor the Lord.  Having self discipline honors God and helps keep my heart pure to receive what God would have of me.

I am struggling with my time.  I have almost always made time for doing those things I love to do.  I have dedicated just about every Wednesday night to church for the past 10 years.  I love to read and I am almost never without a book or carrying my Nook e-reader.  I have some favorite TV shows I don't like to miss (or DVR) when I have too.  But I haven't been making time for getting on the treadmill or going for a walk or to the gym at work.  I need to evaluate my time and find the time (it's there!) cause I know I watch too much TV and I need to take care of my temple.

1 Corinthians 6:19  Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God?  You are not your own, for you were bought with a price.  So glorify God in your body.

Romans 12:1 I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.

James 4:7  Submit yourselves therefore to God.  Resist the devil and he will flee from you.

1 John 1:9  If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

1 Corinthians 10:31 So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.

James 1:22  But be doers of the Word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.

God Bless!

Monday, September 26, 2011

Accountable to Him

So I’ve been watching what I eat for a few weeks now. I know it hasn’t been all that long, but I feel really good about it. I think the big difference for me is accountability. In the past when I have set out to lose weight I have always sought out accountability partners. Years ago I joined Weight Watchers with two women from church. They both quit after just a short time. Then I did a Stephen Arterburn study with a group of women from church and all of us from that group still struggle with our weight.

I have been reading the book Made To Crave and really applying the lessons in it. I did some thinking about my past weight loss attempts and failures. Accountability kept coming to mind. When I held myself accountable to a group of women, it was too easy to cheat. They weren’t always around, so it was easy to sneak the occasional junk foods into my diet without them knowing. Then it hit me, the only way for me to be truly accountable is to God. He knows my every thought, He sees everything I do, and He knows every morsel that enters this temple He has given me.

That has made this time so different for me. I am not a baby Christian. I have a relationship with the Lord that needs to take priority in my life. I need to put my complete trust in Him. I really don’t want to disappoint Him anymore with how I treat my body.

I have had some rough moments. I bring these small fat free chocolate puddings to work with me because having that little bit of guilt free chocolate help with cravings. On Friday, I forgot to bring one to work. So of course on Friday one of my coworkers found it necessary to shove a cupcake in my face and try to entice me to share one with them. But I won that battle. I did want to punch this person, but I won that battle too and sat on my hands! I also went to dinner with my husband and an old friend and watched the two of them split a piece of red velvet motherlode cake and I didn’t even take a bite. And you know what, I was totally okay with that! Thank you God!

It’s too early to claim victory, but I am feeling really good. I have a verse from Exodus 14:14 “The Lord will fight for you, you need only be still”. It’s making me realize that I have been battling for years with my weight. The battle isn’t mine to fight. If I be still and trust that He is God, He will fight those cravings for me. I just need to be still and crave His peace and goodness to fill the spaces that need to be filled in me.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

A Journey of a Thousand Miles Begins With A Single Step

Search me and know me O God, know my anxious heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.” Psalm 139:23-24

“With men it is impossible, but to God all things are possible.” Matthew 19:26

I am looking down a short path to being 40 (March 23, 2012) and I am tired of looking and feeling like I do. It’s time. Yes, I’ve thought other times were ‘the time’, but this is different. I am finally acknowledging that I have no one to blame for this but myself. Any so called wrongs that have been done to me are well in my past and I have had EVERY opportunity to lay them at the foot of the cross and unburden myself. But I just got too comfortable with carrying that extra weight. I carried around all my past bad choices and stupid mistakes around like a big boulder. The weight continually reminded me of how many times I’ve failed. It’s exhausting carrying it around and then I realized I have the choice to set that boulder down. I don’t have to carry it anymore. So instead of beating myself up again with “How could I have let this happen?” I will be spending time craving God instead. I have discovered that I am physically overweight, but I am spiritually underweight and malnourished.

I just finished reading Sandi Patty’s book “The Edge of the Divine” and a paragraph from her book really stood out to me. “Weight loss is a journey that teaches you to act in a way that confirms what you say your priorities are. Your top priority is to love and serve God. To act on that priority, you need to choose actions that honor and care for the body He has given you, so that you are able to use it in His service. You also need to be healthy so you can use your body to cherish and support the wonderful husband, family and friends God has given you.”

My priorities…well they’ve lately been sitting in front of the TV, cooking good tasting but very unhealthy foods, and spending time on the internet. I’ve said that God comes first in my life, but the choices I make don’t reflect my priorities. I might have said that God was my number one, but my choices show that food has become my Comforter in Chief.

One thought keeps coming to me when I think of Jesus’ death for me. Jesus didn’t go through that ordeal so I could merely survive. He did it so I could have life and have it more abundantly.

I haven’t had much in the way of self esteem for most of my life. This is my own issue. Instead of seeing my worth in Gods eyes and recognizing myself as a child of God, I let the fact that my birth father wouldn’t acknowledge me tarnish my view of myself. “If your own father doesn’t love you, why would any other man?” So I dated like crazy starting in junior high. I tried so hard to stay skinny, because I didn’t see I had worth other than in how I looked. Sad. I went through 2 divorces before I finally realized the man God intended for me all along was there the whole time as one of my best friends.

“My grace is enough; it’s all you need. My strength comes into its own in your weakness.” 2 Corinthians 12:7

I am reminded of the story of the rich young ruler in Matthew 19. I want so much to be closer to God. God tells me in order to get closer to Him I need to give up the very things I crave (food) and come follow Him. But He wants me to follow Him with undivided attention. Mark 8:34 says “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.”

With Jesus, if I want to gain I need to give up. If I want to be filled I must deny myself. If I want to get closer to God I need to distance myself from other distractions. If I want to conquer my cravings, I need to direct them towards God.

God made us capable of craving so we’d have an unquenchable desire for more of Him and Him alone.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Women of Faith Weekend

My daughter and I attended the Women of Faith conference this weekend at the Honda Center in Anaheim, CA.  Wow!  Each women gave me something to think about and I kind of feel like a bit of a mess.  This is a good thing though! 

I learned from Brenda Warner to live a life with integrity and honor and just be myself.  And to keep focusing on the positive even when life hands you more than you think you can handle.

I learned from Lisa Whelchel that I need to nurture my relationships with other women I know and find someone safe and find a "bestie".  I have lots of female friends, but I wouldn't know who to call to meet me for coffee.  I wouldn't know who to go to when I really needed someone.  I either hold things in until I explode, I talk to my husband, I journal and of course I pray.  But I'd really life to be the kind of friend I want.  The last female best friend I had went and married my ex-husband.  So yeah...

Patsy Clairmont finds the humor in anything even in the midst of horrible circumstances.  She trusts in Jesus, Jesus, Jesus, the sweetest name she knows.

Marilyn Meburg is just one feisty older woman and I hope I am half as strong and graceful as she is when I reach her age.

Sandi Patty really spoke to my heart too.  She has struggled with her weight for years.  Her doctor told her she was cheating her family of years of life with her if she continued on the path she was on.  I don't want Allyson to have to bury me for many many years.

So I have work to do.  I have lots of books to read that I got from each of these speakers.  Lots of prayer and honest self reflection. 

Amy Grant and Mandisa sang and both sang meaningful songs to me.  Mandisa sang "Shackles" and I forget many a time that God has freed me from shackles.  The shackles I wear now are my own and I need to remove them.  Amy Grant sang "Better Than A Hallelujah" which I love.  I know God loves to hear our praise as well as our prayers, but I know God has got to rejoice when we honestly just cry out from our soul to Him. 

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Lots to Catch Up On!

Wow, I know I had a busy summer, but I just noticed that I haven't posted since May. In June, Jamey & I went on an Alaskan cruise and had a wonderful time. I will post some pics later, maybe tonight. It was my first cruise and I loved each & every minute of the trip. We flew up to Seattle, WA and had gorgeous blue skies. We had a day and a half at sea. Standing on the deck and seeing nothing but ocean surrounding you is so humbling. I recommend a cruise to everyone. These cruise ships are HUGE, but when you are surrounded by nothing but water, it makes you realize how small you are and just how BIG our God is. Our first port was Juneau, Alaska and again, beautiful weather which is very rare for Juneau. We toured the town, went 2000+ feet up the side of Mt. Roberts in a cable tram car and toured an abandoned gold mine. Our next port was Skagway and we toured the town and took an old train up into the Canadian Yukon. It was gorgeous. I spent the whole train ride out on the little balcony of our traincar. I took thousands of pictures of the scenery. We then sailed down the Tracy Arm Fjord and had spectacular views of the Sawyer Glacier. Our Captain told us in all his years of doing that particular cruise, he was never able to get so close to the glacier and have such cooperative weather. It was COLD, but clear. There were mini icebergs floating all around is with momma seals and their babies (some giving birth!!!) and we saw fledgling eagles. Some of the ice was melting so there were waterfalls all over the cliff faces. A big hunk of the glacier calved while we were there and the ice behind it was the most incredible blue you've ever seen. Our final port was Victoria, British Columbia. I didn't know what to expect of Canada, but I loved it. Such a great town, nice people, and so scenic. We did a tour and saw Tom Selleck's house (not too shabby!), we saw a nesting bald eagle, toured the Empress Hotel which is beautiful and also toured Craigdarroch Castle. I wanted to move there until our bus driver told us very matter of factly how it costs more than half what you make to live there in taxes, etc. No thanks, it's expensive enough here.. After coming home from Canada, I came down with bronchitis and was sick for a week from work, but the coughing didn't stop for a good month. I hate bronchitis! Inn July I went to summer camp with my 3rd through 6th graders from church. Jim couldn't come this year, so Matt & Eric came along as the two male leaders. They were excellent. Allyson came with me for the first time as a co-leader and she was such a blessing. Yes, we butted heads a few times, but we both brought out the best in each other too. Allyson led the girls in a great devotional one of the nights that had the girls crying & laughing over Psalm 139. She took hundreds of amazing pictures I will cherish from our week. She is so talented with her picture taking. But my body betrayed me when I got home from camp. It seems my immune system took a dive after the bronchitis, so in its weakened state, I caught a horrible staph infection from camp. I woke up the day after coming home covered in red spots. I thought it was hives, then possibly chicken pox, nope...staph. NO FUN AT ALL!!!! I praise the Lord I have a great boss and a job where I earn a ton of leave because between my cruise, camp and being sick, I took over a month of leave! So most of August has been focused on resting and recuperating. I finally feel normal again, well not that I have ever been normal :)

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Author I Discovered & LOVE!!!

I got a Nook Color for Christmas, and I am pretty much NEVER without it. I take it to & from work daily and I simply devour books even more than I did before I had it. I LOVE reading, but even buying books from the Friends of the Library store and Goodwill can be expensive when you can easily read a book in a day like I do. So I love finding sites with free book downloads. I discovered this author Heather Huffman and 4 free downloads she has. I read them all this week and I was always a little sad at the end. She writes in such a way that you really get to know the characters and you don't want their story to end. I WANT SEQUELS!!! I want to know more about their happy endings. She doesn't charge for the books because she hopes to encourage her readers to donate to causes she believes in like World Vision. I was more than happy to donate, because I too am a big fan of World Vision and the work they accomplish. So, if anyone reading this downloads one or all of her books, let me know what you think.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

135 Photo Challenge

My husband and I recently bought a really nice Nikon D3100 and we are having fun with it. I've noticed all these photo challenges on Facebook and I compiled a list of 135 photo challenges I want to complete within a year from today.

1 A day your remember really well
2 A gift from a friend
3 A gift from your family
4 A hobby of yours
5 A letter to an old Crush
6 A magazine you like
7 A photo of your night
8 A photo of your parent(s)
9 A photo that best demonstrates the word “Abundance”
10 A photo that makes you happy
11 A photo that makes you sad
12 A picture in your room
13 A picture of a favorite memory
14 A picture of a most treasured item
15 A picture of a random item that you own
16 A picture of someone who inspires you
17 A picture of someone you could never imagine your life without
18 A picture of someone you miss
19 A picture of someone you would like to trade places with for a day
20 A picture of something that's made a huge impact on your life recently
21 A picture of something you love
22 A picture of something you want to do before you die
23 A picture of something you wish you could change
24 A picture of something you wish you could forget
25 A picture of something you wish you were better at
26 A picture of something you're afraid of
27 A picture of somewhere you'd love to travel
28 A picture of the 5 things you would bring if you were stranded on a deserted island
29 A picture of the best moment of your life
30 A picture of the cast of the cast of your favorite show
31 A picture of the person who has gotten you through the most
32 A picture of the person you do the most crazy things with
33 A picture of what you wished your room looked like
34 A picture of what you'll be doing tomorrow
35 A picture of where you wish you were right now
36 A picture of the person you have been closest with the longest
37 A picture of you and your best friend
38 A picture of you doing something you love
39 A picture of your ‘other half'
40 A picture of your biggest insecurity
41 A picture of your cell phone
42 A picture of your dream car
43 A picture of your dream house
44 A picture of your favorite band or artist
45 A picture of your favorite cartoon character
46 A picture of your favorite Disney character
47 A picture of your favorite holiday
48 A picture of your favorite piece of jewelry
49 A picture of your favorite sport or favorite athlete
50 A picture of your favorite state
51 A picture of yourself and a family member
52 A picture of yourself from middle school
53 A picture of yourself from years ago
54 A picture that makes you laugh
55 A place that makes you happy
56 A place where you spend a lot of time
57 A place you went today
58 A pretty flower (yes go take a picture of a flower)
59 A prized possession
60 A room in your house
61 A school picture
62 A stuffed animal
63 A talent of yours
64 A ticket from somewhere you've been
65 A useless trinket you own
66 An embarrassing picture from your childhood
67 Dream job
68 Everything inside your purse/backpack/wallet
69 Favorite board game
70 Favorite book that you own
71 Favorite CD that you own
72 Favorite childhood book
73 Favorite movie that you own
74 Favorite One Hit Wonder Song
75 Favorite Places to shop
76 Favorite purchase ever made
77 Last movie you watched
78 Last place you traveled to
79 Provide pictures of your celebrity crushes
80 Share your favorite recipe
81 Someone in your family
82 Someone that changed your life
83 Something Blue
84 Something Green
85 Something heart shaped
86 Something passed down from your parents/grandparents
87 Something Pink
88 Something Purple
89 Something Red
90 Something that annoys you
91 Something that fascinates you and why
92 Something that made you smile today
93 Something that makes you feel accomplished
94 Something weird in your house
95 Something Yellow
96 Something you baked
97 Something you borrowed from someone else
98 Something you collect
99 Something you did today
100 Something you drew
101 Something you found under your bed
102 Something you hold dear to your heart
103 Something You love
104 Something you made
105 Something you really dislike
106 Something your mom bought you
107 The last restaurant you ate at
108 The last thing that you bought
109 The moon tonight
110 The most embarrassing thing in your closet
111 The shirt you wore today
112 The shoes you wore today
113 The view from your bedroom window
114 The weather outside
115 What you're craving right now
116 What you're wearing today
117 Whatever tickles your fancy
118 What's in your fridge?
119 You and a friend
120 Your breakfast
121 Your childhood home
122 Your favorite animal
123 Your favorite book
124 Your favorite childhood movie
125 Your favorite food
126 Your favorite nail polish color
127 Your favorite outfit
128 Your favorite picture
129 Your favorite quote, in your handwriting
130 Your favorite television program
131 Your guilty pleasure
132 Your least favorite chore
133 Your lunch
134 Your most used electronic device
135 Your sunglasses

You have however long it takes you to complete this list. Create a photo folder on Facebook and have fun. Post in whatever order you want, just be sure to label the pictures.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Does It Get Better?

So yesterday was my 39th birthday. Ugh! The LAST year of my 30's and according to my coworkers, my LAST good year. "It's all downhill from here on" they say. Yeah, thanks for the pep talk.

I started the day to find a text message from my Dad letting me know my Mom was in the hospital and I find out my Mom had a heart attack. Not news I ever want to hear, but even more so on your birthday. We're hoping it was a mild one and she will be okay.

I teach AWANA on Wednesdays so I had a great night with the kids, got huge group hugs and loved on and sang too a couple times (once by the youth group). After AWANA, my husband and I did what we do EVERY Wednesday after AWANA. We went out to dinner together. Normally it's something cheap like Wendy's or Del Taco. But Jim decided it should be a nicer dinner because of my birthday, so we went to Lonestar Steakhouse. It was a nice dinner until I got another text message from my 19yo daughter. "Thanks for the invite to your birthday dinner? Guess I don't matter...?"

I said sorry and told her she matters. She does. She means the world to me. Before Jim and I married, for many years she was pretty much my world. But since becoming a driver, she has always done her own thing. She told me last night in her sadness and anger that she sometimes feels like she just lives with us, but isn't part of the family. I have to agree that many times I feel the same way, but not for the same reasons as her.

Allyson's friends & boyfriend mean the world to her, not so much her family. Every now & again she will put something nice about me on Facebook, or back in high school she sang a song she dedicated to me at one of her final choir shows. I know she loves me, but the displays of affection can be few & far between. I was the same way at her age, so I shouldn't be surprised. She has something going pretty much every night of the week. College group for our church, school, leading youth group, and three nights a week with Crave. All good things, but nevertheless, she is rarely home. So last night when we didn't call her to come with us to dinner, I honestly didn't think to ask her. That's sad in two ways. 1) I have just gotten used to her not being around so I wasn't surprised that she hadn't talked to Jim about doing anything for my birthday, or getting a little money from him to do something for me and 2) I shouldn't ever give up on trying to get her to do things with us. I should keep asking even if it means she says no the majority of the time.

She's possibly going on 2 mission trips this summer. I am really proud of her for her desire to go and for her fearlessness in going into Mexico and Haiti. But part of me hopes she comes home from these trips with a changed outlook. She takes SO much for granted. She drives a beautiful car that she only pays gas for, we pay everything else. She is getting a college education but I worry about her sticking it out & finishing because she has so much going on I never see her studying and I know her grades could be better if she applied herself a little more (I was guilty of that too at her age). She is very disrespectful of me much of the time, and it bothers me. It's hard for me, because I know she loves the Lord, and I know she loves kids and will be a great help for the time she is in Haiti. But it sure would be nice if she would occasionally give me the time of day.

Lately this is our interaction, if I see her in the mornings, she is not a morning person, never has been. So talking to her in the morning means short, tight lipped annoyed responses. In the evenings if she happens to be home for a quick dinner, she is usually watching something on the DVR she has recorded and if I talk she pauses the DVR and looks at me annoyed or tells me "I'm trying to watch this!" On weekends we sometimes have some time. She tells me about her friends and life and different topics, but if I talk about something she isn't interested in, she is quick to shut me down. If she sticks around after church we offer to take her & Eric out to lunch and sometimes they come. If they come over to our house, they stake a claim on the couch & TV and Jim and I are generally then stuck in our room until the kids ask "What's for dinner?"

So what is the point of this long blog? We are unfortunately typical parents/teens. But we can do better if we BOTH try a little harder. So, I will do better to keep asking, even if it means that when she does go out to eat with us she wants to leave as soon as we're done instead of enjoying each others company and chatting, etc. I just have to remember, I was a teen once too, and unfortunately treated my parents the same way. I love my parents very much now as an adult and I have a much better respect for all they put up with. So maybe in a decade Allyson might have a better appreciation of us. If so, then life past 39 can't be all downhill. I have that to look forward to someday!

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Loving My Pretty Food

So one of my co-workers is friends with a nutritionist, which got me a free hour long session to discuss my eating habits. I have lost 20 pounds, but it is going slower than I would like. As long as the scale keeps moving backwards, this is good. But I would like to see that scale moving a little quicker. I have been really good about my workouts, so I know it was my eating. She was fairly pleased with my portions, but I was eating Lean Cuisine's and Smart Ones which kept my portions and calories in check, but I was also loading myself up on processed food, chemicals and sodium. So I am taking the time to prepare healthy lunches.

I am kind of digging it because I enjoy pretty food. Oh c'mon, admit it, you probably do too! Pretty food is appealing and satisfying. I spent $30 at a CSA for a ton of fresh organic veggies and fruits and a little under $70 at Trader Joes for the rest.

Yes, eating healthier can be a little expensive, but what is the cost to my health of continuing to eat crap? I choose to spend on nutritious food and invest in myself.

I am eating more often to keep myself from binging. I eat breakfast at 7:30-7:45a.m. Today was Chobani greek yogurt with fresh blueberries and blackberries thrown in.
Then have a snack around 10:30 - 11a.m. today was some dried Turkish apricots and baby carrots.
I eat lunch at 1p.m., today was 7 triscuits with some laughing cow cheese, a Spinach salad with fresh strawberries and some shelled edamame with some balsamic vinegar and 5oz. of tuna, skim milk and some fresh fruit.
Then I have another snack at 4 so that I have a little fuel before my after work workouts. Orowheat Healthful 10 bread with a little Nutella and banana. YUM!

I took pictures of my pretty food today to give you a sampling of what your missing! All of this food was only about 1100 calories. So I can still have a decent dinner and maybe a pudding cup for dessert when I get home :)

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Time Flies...When Your Not Being Intentional

Jim, his Mom & I drove up to Camarillo yesterday to visit with old friends. I hadn't seen Andy since I aided for his sophomore Science class for Mrs. Schultz back in 1990! It had been 7 years since Jim's Mom had seen them and I am not sure how long it's been for Jim.

My was kind of embarrassing to realize how long it had been since we had all seen each other or talked. We had a wonderful day, and caught up with each other. Tears were shed by my MIL and Andy's Mom and promises were made to make sure it's not so long next time.

Time flies when your not paying attention. Jim doesn't have any siblings, and our friend Scott Semrau and the Haden kids are probably the closest to siblings he's ever had. But we get so caught up in 'life' that before you know it years have gone by. It's easy to let happen.

It made me realize that I need to be more intentional about making the time to spend with the people I care for. To make the time for phone calls, get togethers, camping trips, memory making, etc.

So glad that we were able to get together yesterday and have such a nice day. I hope we can do it more often and possibly make a trip out to Tennessee to visit in the future.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

The Lifter of My Head

I teach a group of 3rd thru 6th grade girls in an AWANA class at my church. I have discovered that apparently, eight years old is when the way others see you begins to trump everything else.

I'm hearing a lot of words lately from these girls regarding their developing awareness that other people may not think they are as amazing as their family does and that I think they are.

Suddenly, she's hearing a lot of junk from the world. No more double ponytails for her, since she was told she looks like she has puppy ears. No more wearing certain clothes because she has been told they are "babyish". One of her “best” friends likes to point out that she is last in completing her math every day. I can see the wheels turning; thinking that must say something about who she is. She's never before been self-conscious or afraid of being unique before. Overnight, it seems, everyone else's perception of her really, really matters. And by everyone else, I mean lots of other small children who are starting to uproot everything their parents and religious instructors have tried to plant for the last eight years in her tender self-image.

I sometimes get tired of it all. Tired of her feeling the fight to determine who she is and “whose” she is. I want to take her face with both my palms, lift up her head to mine and firmly say, "You don't have to be anything but yourself. You were created to be exactly who you are, and God is so proud of what He's created. Don't ever forget that."

You and I are assaulted by the same junk from the world every day. But we're more immune to it. Right? Now that we're grown ups? You and I would never be swayed by the opinions of handfuls of people who don't really even know us. Who cares what the neighbor says, or the annoyed cashier, or the mother of the wild child, or the aloof teacher. Nothing they could say or do could tear us away from believing how beautiful and unique we really are. Right?

Yeah, right. We don't do half the fighting we should to protect truth in our hearts about ourselves. The world kicks me around, and most of the time, I'm too busy or distracted to kick back. "You haven’t lost any weight yet?" "You don't know about Prop such and such?" "You aren't going to the fundraiser?" "You didn't finish your Bible Study this week?" And the negativity starts to seep in around my unprotected heart. I can start to reel, feeling like a bad mother, a bad homemaker, a bad wife, a bad anything! Some days, a bad EVERYTHING.

But then God gently speaks to me in the form of an old hymn…

“Thou, O Lord,
are a shield about me.
You're my glory.
You're the lifter of my head.”

It reminded me what Jesus does. He is the good parent who gets tired of watching me lose the battle for my identity. He grabs my face in His gentle, scarred palms. He lifts my head to look me in the eyes, and says, "You don't have to be anything but yourself. You were created to be exactly who you are, and I'm so proud of you. Don't ever forget that." His kindness sucks me in. His kindness is what makes me want to follow, and grow, and follow some more.

I love who I am when I let Jesus define me. But it takes a stopping and a listening. He is the lifter of my head, and I let Him see me. Then I listen in my heart to what He sees. His love for me is the shield about me, my glory, and the only thing that will protect me the next time I walk out the door.

But You, O LORD, are a shield about me,
My glory, and the One who lifts my head.
Psalm 3:3

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Find What Makes You Tick

My husband and I have a college student we’ve kind of been mentoring for some time. He helps us on Sunday mornings to set up all the sound equipment and he fills in for me with the screens when needed. He also joined our leadership team for AWANA this past year when he graduated from high school. He’s a really good kid and I am excited to see him step up and be active as an adult at church. He came to camp with us last summer as an assistant leader and this year he will be the main leader for the boys, since Jim & Mark won’t be able to attend this year.

We recently had an event this past Saturday that was poorly attended. I realize we have a lot of kids who play sports, so that accounts for some of the absences, but not all. We even had leaders who didn’t come and didn’t say anything to us about why they didn’t come. A few told us beforehand of moves, illness, etc. and we were aware they wouldn’t be able to make it. For the leaders who did make it, we were all a bit frustrated at the lack of “life” at church lately. We didn’t gossip, we tried to think constructively about the many programs at church and what seems to be working or not. In the book of James, Chapter 2, we learn that “faith without works is dead”. It is said that in many churches there are a group of about 20% who do 80% of the work. In our church, it seems to be shifting more to 10% doing 90%. There is a small dedicated group of people doing the majority of the sweat equity. We are tired.

The past couple of years I have really been doing my best to “Let my yes be yes and my no be no”. It’s hard to do when you see so many needs around you. But I feel God has called me directly to make an impact on His kingdom by working with the young kids at church. So Awana and Junior Camp are my main focus. I also really enjoy serving on the worship team at church putting together slides and running them during the service. It’s a way for me to be a part of something with my husband as well.

I KNOW without a doubt that God has a way for each & EVERY member of my church to serve. We just have so many people showing up on Sunday mornings only as “the frozen chosen”. I know many of them used to be very active in their service. But I don’t know where in the Bible it ever says we get to retire after a certain number of years? I choose to follow the example most of my Fathers family set, I will serve the Lord until God calls me home. My grandparents did much for their church through years of dedication to the Lord by giving of their time and finances. My Great Aunt Ellie never married and was a busy gal serving in many ways. My Great Uncle Bernard shared his faith with others in his nursing home until the end and my Great Uncle Erman was a Pastor and Teacher all his adult life.

We might need to slow down a bit, but never stop entirely. There is a group of older women at my church, mainly widows, who are very active. They put many younger people to shame with the amount of time and energy they give. I admire them tremendously. They have found ways to continue to serve, set examples for younger members and roll with the punches life throws at you as we age.

There are literally hundreds of jobs to do at church, ways to serve, ways to make an impact for the kingdom. I am not angry at those who don’t serve, but sad for them. They are truly missing out. When you find a ministry that is what you are gifted to do, it’s not work, it is pure joy. Until then, keep on trying things out until you find your niche.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

God is so good, He's so good to me!

God is SO good. My husband got a job offer this morning from Saddleback College working in their Maintenance & Transportation department. It’s a great job making more than he was at his last job and has M-F hours of 8:00 to 4:30. That has been a big answer to prayer, a job with hours that don’t interfere with our ministry at church.

This past almost 2 years of his unemployment have been a struggle, but it’s also been a good time of testing of our faith in God. Our timing is not His timing. If we had been given our way, God would have given him a job right away, but instead we had to just keep our faith & trust in Him. He was so good to provide for us over this season of unemployment. He provided me an internal muzzle! I didn’t want to become “that” wife. You know the kind, the wife who constantly nags her husband and tries to usurp his role as head of the household while she’s the one making the income. I did my best to make sure Jim was the man of the house, the spiritual head and I tried to encourage him often that things would work out. I think our marriage grew stronger during this time while many others in the same position fell apart.

Looking back, we’ve had an amazing 2 years. Allyson graduated from high school in June of 2009 and was able to go on a cruise with her show choir that April. She started college and the expense is all on us since she is over 18 and child support is over. We’ve been able to afford the fees for her units and books, etc. Allyson had her accident last Fall, and thankfully we have been able to maintain our full coverage insurance and we were able to get her a new car (with some assist from her paternal grandparents, praise the Lord). I was able to take a small loan from work with SUPER LOW interest so we paid off 7 bills and invested in our marriage by buying into a time share and we are taking a cruise to Alaska this coming June.

If we hadn’t had this season… I can honestly say our marriage is stronger, our faith is stronger and we are stronger as a family. And we have a testimony about God’s enduring faithfulness.

Funny how God works, huh?

Friday, January 7, 2011

Looking Forward With Hope To 2011

I am really glad to shake off the cobwebs of 2010! 2010 was a tough year for me. I struggled with depression, anxiety and my husbands unemployment. It's been hard to keep trusting in God when it's been so long. It's not that Jim's not trying, he's applied for hundreds of jobs but was having no luck. This week he has had 6 interviews and has a few scheduled for next week. I am hoping that at least one of these will result in a job offer.

We put a hold on our gym membership to save money, so I need to start using the free gym here at work. I've had a cold I need to get rid of first. I plan on using the gym during my lunch hours or after work. Not sure how busy it gets during those times. I would really like to find a decent treadmill and elliptical to buy to use at home. Then no more gym membership needed and we can all make use of it.

I got a Nook Color e-reader and have it loaded up with approx. 75 free books so far. Free reading for 2011 and beyond! There are so many great classics you can download for free. Some I read back in high school when they made me read them. It was hard to read the books for pure enjoyment when you were so focused on the symbolism, hidden meanings, etc. I recently re-read the Grapes of Wrath and really enjoyed it. Being older, and going through the current economic depression we are going through, gives you an appreciation for how good we still have it in the big scheme of things. I also discovered the entire Wizard of Oz series. Did you know L. Frank Baum actually wrote 14 books in the series? I have downloaded them all. Plus many from Jane Austen, Charlotte & Emily Bronte, Alexander Dumas, Charles Dickens, etc.

I also got a new Bible from my husband. It's the Life Application Study Bible. I had it in the NIV, but my favorite is the NASB and they just finally offered it in that translation. I LOVE IT. He got me a black leather Bible with gold edged pages, SO NICE!

Jim & I have our cruise to Alaska in June. We pre-paid for it ages ago, and I am so glad it's coming up. Yes, we could have paid a bill down, but we chose to invest in our marriage. I refuse to be one of those couples who always dreams of traveling together but never does. Alaska is one of our dream vacations and we plan to go to London and Paris in a couple years with Allyson, Jim's Mom, and Diane and Scott. Checking off some bucket list items!