Sunday, September 30, 2012

the day i became a mom, she was 4 years old.

I have been wanting to write about this for a while now but didn't know what kind of context it fit into. Is it a follow up post on our second trip to the dentist?Or is it a testimony. Or is it God just simply showing me that when I chose to do the right thing, he finishes whatever i cant and picks me up when I fall. Its about me choosing to trust him, even when I am a afraid.

Yeah, I think its a post about that.

You might want to read the post about the spirit of fear. Pretty much my Grace is terrified of the dentist. Well doctors too. And the last dentist visit we barely made it into the chair. No xrays or cleaning, we did nothing but cry, scream and spend an hour in fear. They told me she had one small cavity so I could either take her to the hospital and have her intibated and put under...taken care of and I would walk away with peace of mind or...we could leave it, try again in 6 months.

I chose to come back.

The very moment we got home God was working. We spent the next few months getting so many boo boos and having the weirdest accidents. But every single time was a moment where I could speak courage and Jesus into her heart. Each and every time we got an opportunity to be brave. And slowly her confidence built up. And then she had to get her 4 year old check up. She got shots and got her blood pressure taken and was so brave I actually had tears running down my face. I prayed with her that day the Jesus would be right there with her and she would be brave, that she would do things even when they scared her because he will never leave her. I remember leaving that place and just stopping outside to just hold her and tell her how proud I was of her.

As we were walking to the car still in tears, both of us, she said she was ready to go to the dentist.

So i booked the appointment even thought it wasn't time and explained to the women that this might be just a time where we get to the chair and that's it...but that I would pay them for their time. I said we might get nothing done, but we needed to come in because she said she was ready.

I will never forget the morning we went. I will never forget my husband playing dentist with her to prepare her. Tipping her back in our kitchen chair and using the pink gloves to tickle her teeth...and introduce her to "mr. thirsty" the straw suction tube...

I prayed with her and reminded her that even though she still might be scared, that Jesus would be there. And I reminded her of how proud I was that she was making a choice to try again. We got there and we got everything done except filling the tooth. We sat in the chair, we put on the nose, we got nitrous in her and she never really reacted to it. She let them take an xray even though there was so much crying and fear, she still did it. And she even got her fluoride treatment. To me, it was like she had just climbed mt Everest. I couldn't believe my baby. And she was so proud. She left with a confidence and pride that I have never seen in her. To this day, she still asks me, "mommy are you proud of me at the dentist???'

Baby, I am so proud of you...not because you did it, but because you did it even though you were scared.

I became a mom that day. I didn't take the easy way out. I chose to use this horrible fear that plagues her, to show her who she is in Christ. I will admit that I was scared and nervous for the outcome. I prayed through it and just decided that he would finish what I started. And each time we go she will get stronger and stronger until she realizes on her own that she can do hard things. And her life will be full of hard, hard things. I cant always be with her. I cant hold her hand all the time. She will leave this house one day, she will leave my sight. And its not my job to shelter her, that's his. Its not my job to make everything easy for her. Its not my job to take all her pain away, that's also his. If I do anything as a mother, I would hope to point her to her savior, who will do all those things.  I don't care what it takes, if we have to go every six months...we can do this.

I say I became a mom that day for so many reasons but mainly for one. I tend to be the kind of mom who tries to make everything easy. I do as much as I can for my family to spare them pain or suffering. I guess I have had so much of both, I just don't want to see them suffer too. But I realized thought this that no matter what I do or say, the world is still the world and they will never be free from pain. Grace might be in a car accident one day where she will need to be brave and let doctors touch her, or maybe she breaks her arm at the playground and we need to get xrays...mandatory. I don't know what the future holds for her but I am sure of only one thing.

Its not always my job to protect her, but to prepare her.

They praised me that day, those amazing women in that office. They said, way to go mom, your doing the right thing. I don't take compliments well but that day I did. I cried tears of joy and release. I cried that i was able to do something hard. I cried because God gave me courage just like he did for Grace.

I have no photos from that day. I thought about that when i got home. There was no documenting exactly what when on, but I will always hold that day in my heart, and I know Grace will too.

And she still asks me to this day..."mommy are you still proud of me at the dentist..."

yes baby, I am.
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Friday, September 28, 2012

an open house, for gracie

Grace, last night was your open house at school. There are so many things that just make my heart melt when I see you doing your thing there. This is the first place I let you go. The first place where I let you fly. It took me almost 4 years but I'm so glad I did it. You love it. If you and I have struggled to connect over the years, I am now understanding why. You are just a social butterfly. And while I am too...I don't always have to be around people like you do. In fact, that's one of the big reasons I love staying home with you and Lucy and being a work at home mama, because its our space. But you my love, need to be out in the world and encouraging others, feeding off of others and just playing. I want to make sure you and I always remember these days, these first days of freedom for you. There are some details you will be glad to remember when you are a mama yourself...
Daddy and Lucy stayed home, we are all not feeling well. It was just you and me. I was so honored to be asked to donate a piece of art and so proud of us seeing my art hanging up there...our new business cards fresh on the counter and a very grateful heart pumping in me. I always want you to remember...
you never eat your lunch.
you love the playground the most.
this is the place you learned to pray.
your letters and numbers looked great kiddo ;)
your feelings get hurt very easy.
you never want to come home.
every single time i pick you up its a battle to try to get you to forget the big bucket of lolli pops in Mrs. Loneanne's office.
i wish we had a little potty, like your class has.
when you first started there last year you used to cry when i picked you up because you never wanted to come home, but now that you know you will go back, you greet me with the biggest smile and greatest hugs.
every other day your best friend changes.
you love to sing at chapel, even though i don't think its your thang, singing. and that teaches me alot.

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Thursday, September 27, 2012

breaking out of the proverbial box

I suppose if you are of the creative type, you might have felt constrained by the box... you know the box. The one you are supposed to fit in. Your niche. You can spot a Van Gogh any day of the week by his brush strokes and his muted yet bold colors. You definitely know a Picasso by the strong lines and modern feel...but who am I?

Who are you?

I guess ever since I started painting in February, I have been waiting for my niche to present itself. I have been waiting to gain a certain type of audience...and dress my shop with a certain look. Well somewhere along the line I have found a freedom to be creative and break through that box. Some days I am full of energy and inspired by my beautiful, cheerful babes who inspire me to adorn canvas with childlike playful images, that remind me of them. And some days, my heart is so heavy for this country we live in that all I can do is paint flags, in honor of our founding fathers and our founding principals and values. And some days I miss Chicago so much that I cant stop painting Wrigley Field or things that remind me of home. And some days I cant stop thinking about sitting with my grandpa riffling through my baseball cards and I just want to create something to honor the way things were, by painting a vintage sports sign. The thrill of iced lemonade and hot dogs while learning to keep score at a Cubs game, makes me paint.

So there are many pieces of canvas that sit in my room, I stare at them. They all have a story, but most of them don't make it in. I don't know why...maybe its fear of rejection. Maybe its fear of them sitting in my shop for months with no hits. Or that feeling of having to renew an item time after time because it has expired.

But yesterday I created this one.


And you wouldn't understand what it fact I don't even really. But I am missing my grandma dearly and this was inspired by her condo in Chicago. All the time I spent there, following and in awe of my grandmas eclectic style. Monet and Ken Done all over the place, all over here. Her bold blue Scandinavian rings and pendants and all the prints...everything about this painting feels, smells, and breathes my grandma Mary Sordel. I miss her so much that all I can do to ease the pain is paint. Someday when she is not here anymore, I will always have the memory of her that I have created, and treasure.

The box that the world creates for us to fit in is not where we are meant to stay. And I have struggled with listening to the voice of God when he says, really...its ok. I delight in you and your creations! Go ahead ;) So while you may not understand who I am or what I do, he does...and now I do. I am most certainly just a girl with a passion to make something from nothing. I am not afraid of the blank stare of a new canvas...I am not afraid of the execution of an idea that I have never seen before. I am not afraid to break through the box and just be me.

So that one piece of art that sits in my shop for months, or stares back at me here at home, trying to speak fear and rejection to me...maybe its for you. Maybe you are the only other person in the world that sees its beauty or its meaning. Just maybe you might see it and say, that was made for me.

I guess my style from the beginning has always been distressed and vintage. I cant seem to be able to leave bold colors as they are, or strokes perfect and visible. I have a deep sense of creating  worn and weatherd, lived in pieces that look like they have survived the ages. Because thats me. I feel worn and torn and brand new...all in the same. All the scratches and rough spots symbolize, me.

I am enjoying my new freedom.

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Monday, September 24, 2012

Im ready to lose the weight...of food addiction

Im gonna be real again...because its my story, for his glory.

Yesterday, I was talking back and forth with a friend of mine at church and we were discussing the outcome of her Daniel fast. She lost 12 pounds and I was so excited for her. We got to talking about our future plans with weight loss and she had asked me to start the ever so popular app "my fitness pal" with her.

I laughed.

I actually have used that app before...and it worked, for about a few days. But then I started eating a few extra hundred calories here and there and NOT recording them. Then I would feel trapped in my usual cycle of guilt and shame and not record days on end...and then I would find myself at the gas station hording all sorts candy and ice cream, eating them in the front seat of my car will taking extra long to get home, to not feel so ashamed. Then I would feel sick because I am allergic to all of day would be ruined because of what an horrible sinner I am and then I would enter into the "Ill start again on Monday " routine.

This sort of cycle happens every few weeks or so...sometimes daily.

Diets don't work for food addicts. In fact anytime you are addicted to something, restricting plans don't work. And its not just a problem for people who are "overweight". I see this all too often with women who live in the cycle of addiction to eliminating food groups or being on diets that are so restrictive that they are ashamed when they fall off the wagon too. Being too into your physicality or appearance is also just as torture some. I know too many women who obsess over what they eat and how much all day everyday and forget that this life is from him and it is to be lived. Not trapped in a cycle of guilt and shame by food which is supposed to nourish and bring health and vitality to our broken bodies. It is not supposed to be this way.

I don't have a problem with eating healthy. In fact if you peeked into my fridge, you would not know that it belongs to me. It is full of fresh vegetables and fruits, lean proteins and healthy fats. And believe it or not I spent the greater part of the last 15 years of my life working for Jenny Craig as a weight loss consultant, as a personal trainer and as a certified nutrition and wellness counselor.

I have come to a place in my story where I feel 100% ready to just share this part of me because I know there must be hundreds of thousands of women out there who are like me. And I bet most of them are ashamed to admit they hide food, eat in their car, eat in the middle of the night, binge eat, or just don't eat at all for days...I have actually never done that, and have actually thought to myself once or twice, I wish I had a problem with not eating. But then I would be writing to you here about a whole other problem and feeling empty in a whole other way...

I use the term addict to describe my relationship with food because that's what it feels like to me. An unhealthy dependence of something. I feel like an addict.And that's just it, its something. It doesn't matter what it is. In fact, I was a smoker for 10 years. And i drank alot of alcohol. And I have also done my fair share of illegal substances...but I haven't had a cigarette in 5 years...I can count the number of drinks I have had on one hand during that time period and haven't done any drugs since my late teenager years. But I could compare my affection to food as "the first drag of a cigarette" or "having a buzz" or flirting with a member of the opposite sex to get a moment of validation, that you still matter. Or maybe its the purchase of a brand new outfit or a designer handbag....or maybe its the thrill of having a successful moment in your life and basking in the glory. We just don't talk about food addiction so much because its not sexy or glamorous. Its not as cool as being a smoker or having too much stuff. Its gross, people think you are disgusting...but in reality its all the same sin.

It started for me when I was a child. That was the way I numbed the pain. And this is not a post about my childhood or how painful it was or what drove me to this...but I recognize this as being when it started. I would hear the back door close and the first thing I would do is run for the ice cream. Some days I would hide food in our basement and eat out of pure exhaustion, emotionally and physically. And that's what it is for me...comfort. I actually don't enjoy food. I don't like to cook, and i don't watch the food network.

I remember the day my father so gently and wonderfully asked if I would like to go on the Jenny Craig program. I was 15 I think...I did. And that's how I started working there. I developed a passion for eating healthy and I found myself wanting, needing to encourage other women. I stayed in the 150 - 160 range for many years. I spent many years researching health and fitness and loved it. And then I got sick. For many years in my early 20s I was plagued with headaches and pain and nobody could ever make it better. I saw at most, 17 doctors at one time and none of them could help. You can read my story about that here. Stuck in a whirlwind of depression and physical pain, I decided to start researching naturopathic medicine. I became obsessed with food as a healer and started using alot of supplements and herbs. None of which helped me out of my pain.

Finally when i was pregnant with our second baby, i had enough of feeling sick and felt God telling me to get allergy tests done. Turns out after months of my own elimination diets and restricting, I am allergic to pretty much everything. Wheat, corn, soy, dairy, eggs, peanuts and the list goes on...My body produces massive inflammation and swelling and I get very bad episodes of vertigo. I am just a sick person and the reason was food.

I sit here today, at 185 pounds. My heaviest was 232. I have lost this much due to eliminating the food groups I am allergic to and just being me. I really am a healthy person. I love to be active and workout...I know how to do it. I love to eat healthy, I know how to that. But so far, I have not been able to lose the rest of the weight not because I don't know how, but because I am trapped. Its much deeper than writing a food log, or counting calories...I am terribly broken. Food is the first place I run in times of pain or suffering, or exhaustion or just plain joy. I am tired, I eat. I am happy, I eat.

Lately I have just been crying out to God for the release of this in my life. Release of the hold that food has on me. The ability to say no. I get angry because my life is already so restrictive with food as it is. And even though I love being a mono eater, I feel cheated. Like I'm missing out on life somehow because I don't get to eat cookies or cake or ice cream without feeling sick. And then I do, and I get sick.

But then comes the element of shame. I am ashamed by the fact that I think I am entitled to such pleasures...or that I even consider eating as a pleasure. Most people in our world consider eating as a luxury. And I am disgusted with my own self.  No diet plan will ever be able to release the hold that satan has over me. No diet plan can ever work well enough to not make me stand in front of my pantry and choose my poison. No diet plan will ever give me enough strength to say no.

I am tired of saying no...I want to start saying yes, to him.

To God. To Jesus. To the one who says

Mark 8:34-35 Then he called the crowd to him along with his disciples and said, "If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me and for the gospel will save it."

and this...

 Gal 5:24 You cannot belong to Christ Jesus unless you crucify all self-indulgent passions and desires.  Gal 5:24  And those who belong to Christ Jesus have put to death their human nature, with all its passions and desires.  1 Pet 2:24a  And he personally bore our sins in his own body on the cross, so that we might be dead to sin and be alive to all that is good.

2nd Corinthians 5:17Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.

Now I realize that one of my many excuses is that its not that bad. It could be worse. I'm doing a good job. Its not really a sin. I'm doing the best I can. I deserve a little happiness. I should be proud of myself....but again, its not about food. Its about the something that has a hold over me that separates me from all God has for me. What he wants for me. Its something of this earth that holds such a tight grip on me that it is on my mind all day everyday. What to eat, what not to eat, how to avoid it, how to get through Halloween, how to not eat the entire leftover birthday cake again this year.

I believe the rest of my journey through this weight loss is not going to be one of counting calories or logging food. Its not going to be anything but laying down the parts of me that are so broken, and letting the only one who can fix me, do his job. I know that he does not want this for me, is deeply saddened by it and wants to restore me. I know he wants to help me to lay it down. And I know that I will be prayerfully confronting many deep seeded issues in my life that have brought me to this place. I know that by asking God to help me, he will be showing me why I am the way I am and how to look more like him. I am ready for that.I want nothing to do with this cycle of guilt and shame anymore. I want nothing to do with satan and his lies and schemes to destroy my life.

What I will not be doing is trying to lose weight for the sake of looking good or fitting into a certain size. I am far enough in my walk with God that I know for sure I don't hold my value in what I look like or what size my pants say. What I do want is to be closer to him, to find peace in him, and to be able to say no to the things that are designed to separate me from him.

I will be reading this book. This is not a book on diets or how to lose weight. We all know how to do that. What it is, is a real woman confronting all the issues that we face and pointing it back to God. The very place it should start. Please go and read the "first pages" on amazon. And if you would like to join in on a discussion, let me know!

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Monday, September 17, 2012

my sweet angel she knows how to pray

I knew yesterday was going to be different...
The clouds were dark and the air was heavy, and something was different. It was a dark rainy day, I had a smile on my face but I didn't know why. I awoke with expectation...Pastor asked if anyone had woken up and wanted to pull the covers over their faces and be lulled back to sleep, he did.
But i didn't.
The drop offs were quick and we sat in our spot. We sang and we worshiped, each in our own ways...I sang wherever you lead me, I will follow you...with every breath I take, I will worship you. I wanted to spend the entire service on the floor, arms stretched out, not able to get any lower. So low that I could feel the cold floor and feel the gentle vibrations of the voices of worship around me. I wanted to cry tears of release and joy and expectation. I wanted him to know that I see him, I hear him and I know he is working...

There was a call and one soul was saved. I felt you squeeze my hand and I knew you prayed that again. We all did. I knew that it was the day for you. There have been many days like that for me, I cant even count. But I could see the angels and I could feel their rejoicing.

This was the day when she learned to pray.

First it was at the kitchen table, so proud of herself...daddy, i know how to pray!

I will always remember that day.

 I turned out the lights and gave her a kiss and told her to have sweet dreams. You need your sleep so that you can be ready for school my love...I walked out the door and heard such a sweet little voice. I stopped to hear what you had to say, Dear Jesus, thank you for this day...thank you for always being my best friend, and taking away all my boo boos. Amen.

I turned back around with tears in my eyes and my heart so full if it was to be my last day on earth, I would know you would be ok, and she would be ok.

 My sweet angel, she knows how to pray.

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Friday, September 14, 2012

my husband gave a speech

My husband gave a speech the other day to the BMTCP graduates. It was very last minute, in fact he was asked the night before...but he did it and I am a very proud wife. The video cuts in and out quite a bit so I have written out his speech below.

Good morning distinguished guests...
 staff and students, family and friends...

And the reason why we are here today…class 165-170


I am standing here today very humbled and grateful for the opportunity to share this great moment in your career.
Today is an important right of passage. You been dedicated, you have persevered, and you have built a strong foundation for the rest of your career.
I have no doubt in my mind that you will take all the knowledge given to you by your instructors and you will leave these doors of Anderson Hall and do great things.
I am honored to stand here with you today knowing that we have all made a similar choice to stand up for our country and defend her.
As I stand here before you today, I am remembering this day 11 years ago, when a hidden enemy devastated our country. Millions of Americans were glued to their television sets watching the horror unfold.
What we saw that day was two pillars of freedom fall. Our Pentagon was attacked. A plane full of brave Americans took down a hijacked flight .

The day was confusing, things were scary and you couldn’t stop watching the coverage. You couldn’t eat, you couldn’t sleep…life stood still.
But the thing about America is, you can never keep her down. She will always overcome obstacles. And she is able to do this because of the brave men and women who will stand up and say, “I will defend her.".... Just like you, just like your instructors, just like everyone in this auditorium. We all took a stand.
As we come into this building every morning we see the faces of those who have gone before us and paid the ultimate sacrifice…we also honor them today.
John 15:13 says,
“greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.”
We saw examples of this that day when we saw men and women of service, running towards danger. Most of these responders that day were police officers, fire fighters, medical personnel and other heroic volunteers, but the one thing we all answer the same call when our country cried out for us.
And today, it is you. You are answering the call. Today is your day to stand tall and know that you have a whole country behind you, supporting you.
Its not always going to be easy. There are things out there that we would never be able to prepare you for.
But if I could give you any one single piece of advice today, it would be that you keep the same dedication and pride that you feel today, with you throughout your entire journey and on your hardest days ahead. And Ladies and Gents, there will be hard days.
But just know that your family is proud of you, your instructors are proud of you and you have an entire country that is proud of you. You are the ones who stood up in a time of war and said YES, I will defend our country.
On September 20th President Bush brought our nation together. In that speech he laid out his plans for the perpetrators of that day.
“I will not forget the wound to our country and those who inflicted it. I will not yield, I will not rest, I will not relent in waging this struggle for freedom and security for the American people.” This is the call that we answered. This is what you are standing up for today.
It was these words spoken to us by the president that inspired me to join the Navy. It is probably why some of your instructors joined. And maybe the reason why some of you joined.
In May 2010, I got the chance to go to Fleet Week in New York City. I was given the honor of re-enlisting at Ground Zero. Right where the towers fell. Seeing the faces of the people of New York, their gratitude and gratefulness is why I am still here today. It is why I am still in the fight.

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Monday, September 10, 2012

the land of opportunity

Yesterday I wrote about why i stay home with my children, and today its all still on my mind. I don't know if its because tomorrow is the anniversary of the horror that occurred on our American soil on September 11, 2001...or if its just because of all that's happening in our life lately. I would like to just take a few moments and let this bird fly.

My husband is a Corpsman with the United States Navy. He and all the other men and women save lives in a time of war. And then when they are home, they spend every single minute of every single day thinking about those we have lost, praying for them, and training to do it all again, when they are called. I was born to be my husbands wife, I was born to be a military wife. We have been through 3 deployments and you can read about our life in the military so far right here. I believe in protecting the freedoms we have in this country and I am willing to have my husband gone every single birth of every baby and every single birthday and anniversary for the next 25 years, because I believe in America. And as of recently, I didn't really understand why I felt this way...

We were driving to dinner last night, celebrating my husband getting his degree and our anniversary and there was a homeless man on the side of the road with his thumb out. All of his belongings in one tiny sack...and whenever I see this, I am so deeply moved. I am brought to tears every single time. I feel like I have been given an extra sensor in my soul for people and their afflictions, whether it be poverty or some degree I have experienced both. When my husband and I met, we lived on bologna and white bread in an apartment that was so dirty and run down and full of black mold...and I have had my car repoed and have been so addicted to alcohol and self indulgence that I almost ruined my marriage and committed suicide many times. I have been so sick before and in bed full of depression not able to work for almost 2 years. I have seen what it looks like to be so down and out that you sit drunk on your front porch with a phone book in your hand trying to find the number to the local hospital because you feel like you want to end your life. I have been there. I feel so deeply for people who are afflicted by evil in this world, self induced or just a product of living in a fallen world...

But then I think about the places my husband has been. And I am quickly reminded how good I really have it. After much healing from God and a new life in him, my husband and I are now homeowners, we have 2 cars and 2 kids and food on the table every single night. But just because we are Christians, doesn't mean we are immune to all the crap the world presents on a daily basis. We are not immune to the effects of a crappy economy or war. In fact, right now at this moment, we have debt. Some would be because of uncareful planning, and some is just everyday life stuff. We are not immune nor were we properly prepared for life's events. So here we are and I just cant get over our abundance. I am blown away at how much we really have compared to other cultures. But what really is on my heart right now, is our opportunity.

We had some debt, we had a dream to get our family out or it so I rose up one day and decided to take a GIANT leap of faith and start making something. I knew I had a talent in the arts but I had no clue what I was doing. I bought some canvas, painted some stuff and some people liked it. So everyday I took steps forward. I started a blog, created a website by learning from tutorials on the internet and I opened a online shop. And then I started getting custom orders. And now here I am today, chiseling away at our debt..and still able to stay home and live out my dream of being a full time wife and mother. This really is my dream. Its the American dream. And I have started weeping in my kitchen painting these flags. I am crying out in gratitude for all the opportunity that I have and I am weeping for those who have been where I have been.

This place above is a place I wish we never had to be. I wish every single inch of this planet had the opportunities that I have today. I am just one mother and wife who desires to have healthy food on the table and an education for my children. I am just a woman who is certainly most thankful for the opportunity to drive my car to my church on Sunday mornings and gather and worship my God, and feel safe doing so. But I know one thing is for sure...

It was most certainly God only who got me out of my mess.

To him and him alone be all the glory for my physical healing, financial recovery and our marriage restored. My husband goes to work every single day and works hard for our country. And my art? Its all him. He has led me to places and people right when I needed it. And as far as our debt? Well, we have learned when and where to cut costs and how to be better with our spending. We have learned the importance of being prepared and how not to live a life of entitlement. And because I come from a family in the upper class as of today's standards, that was a hard lesson for me to learn. This life is definitely what I make of it and what I give the world... not what I expect it to give to me.

This is a country where I can use what the Lord has given to thrive. If I paint, I can sell my handmade goods online. If I am passionate about photography, I can start a business and market it for free on facebook. I have so many outlets and avenues to create and market whatever it is that I am doing. These are luxuries that people suffering in other countries don't have access to. And it makes me weep over my American Flags.

So about staying home with my children...that's my choice. And I am grateful that I am able to make that choice. I am grateful to our provider that I haven't had to put my kids in full time care simply because I needed to work to put food on our table. And I feel very sad for those families out there right now who are going through way bigger messes and have lost their jobs and who are hurting. We are too. But I am confident that our God will see us through. I am confident that he is the only one who we can lean on when times are tough. And I am grateful to live in this great land of opportunity.

I am confident in a God who will open doors for people who knock.

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Sunday, September 9, 2012

why i stay home with my children

**** I stayed awake all last night after I wrote this hoping that I didn't offend any mamas out there or give anyone the wrong impression. I wanted to take a moment to send a big message to those working moms out there who see things different. This is just my heart. But it wasn't always this way. Remember, I am the mom who used to think because I don't like to play, I was no fun. Or because I don't like to sit and do preschool activities, I had no worth. And also, I am the wife who struggled to see how we could thrive financially if I didn't work. And I just have been blown away by God as my provider and my restorer. He has shown me in so many ways how important I really am to my kids, my value in him alone. And he has also blessed me with my art as a means to income and I am so grateful. He knew that I had every desire to stay with my kids and do the best I could at my calling as a mother and a wife, and just made a way for us. So this post is not to condemn working mothers into thinking they aren't exactly where they are supposed to be...this is for all the mamas out there who feel that pull like I do, to be here in the everyday lives of their kids, but feel as if they fall short everyday and question their ability to do so. There are definitely times when a mom is called outside of her home, for whatever reason whether it be a season of financial struggle etc...and I am sure to be the one to understand that. I am just here to yell out to the world today, God heard my cry and he made a way. He had granted me the desires of my heart, for sure. I feel honored that he has chosen me to be a mother and a wife and I desire to do everything I can to be the best I can be, even when its hard.

Something has been on my heart to share for a long time now. I have wrestled with it for months, trying to figure it out or even if it was worth sharing...but something happened today that solidified my choice in sharing this with you.

About a month ago, I was asked to help out in the nursery at our church. We had our first meeting today where we filled out paperwork and went over the rules and guidelines. Our pastor came in to give us a mini lesson and pray over us. He asked if we remembered the story of Moses...and to be honest I had to think about what he really wanted me to remember. I overheard the nursery director say something about us preparing our own lesson plans to bring in for the kids. I kinda freaked out and had to get something off my chest.

I am not a "kid" mom.

I don't know how else to explain this but I know there are other moms who feel this way. I have talked with them. You could say I'm not a fun mom, or I struggle with pretend play. Or you could say I don't really enjoy playing at all. You could also say that I don't enjoy tea parties or board games...or even practicing numbers and letters, and you would be correct. I had to just say that I am not the kind of woman who would sit and plan a bible lesson for the kids and come in with crafts and stories. I just wouldn't.

 I am the kind of mom who loves to hold crying babies. I love to breastfeed and change diapers. I love to stay up late and rock my babies to sleep. I love to nurture and soothe...I am good at it. I love to clean up boo boos and speak life and courage into my kids. I love to pray for them. I love to pack diaper bags and picnics and go to the park and watch them play with other kids...or just sit and watch the ducks and talk about creation. I love to paint and draw with them...and I love to fold their laundry and tuck them in bed. I love to brush their hair and put on clean jammies and cuddle. That's me.

And I found myself delving into the story of Moses today and his mother. I just could not believe that God had placed me in this tiny room in a church in a small town in Texas today...only to hear about her. I just knew there was a reason I feel such a strong pull to stay here at home with my kids. We knew from the very beginning I would and we have never second guessed our choice, even in our toughest financial challenges...

After Moses was put in that basket and sent down the ended up that Pharaohs daughter hired his own mother to be his caretaker and she had 3 maybe 4 years with him. Moses grew up to be one of Gods greatest leaders. I could go on and on about Moses here but its his mother that has sent me into a tailspin today. Instead of seeing her son killed, she had enough faith in God to let him float down the Nile...then raise him herself for those few years, only to set him free again. I cant even imagine how much faith you would have to do what she did. And even more, I am so wishing I could go back in time and hear what she was whispering into his ear and speaking into to his heart as she was caring for her son. And knowing what kind of man Moses grew up to be and everything he was, I think we all know it was because of the short time he had with his mother. She knew she had limited time.

And so do I.

My girls would probably learn their ABC's and the days of the week and how to count to 30 a lot faster if they were in daycare or in a traditional preschool setting...remember these things aren't really my strong point. But when I meet God, I know that's not what is going to be on his heart for me. I will be judged at how I used my time and where my heart was. The fact is, we don't have alot of money. And there are times we struggle financially...but I still have faith in my God that he is bigger than all that. I still find myself in awe of how he provides for us, while I stay at home with them.

I came across a scripture today that has just blown me away...and convicted the pants off of me.Oh the timing.

   Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise,  making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil.  Ephesians 5 15-16

What a strong message for such a broken society with other plans. And I am one of them. My God forgive me for not putting your desires first and living for me, and not you. Forgive me.

My hope, my prayer for my girls is that I have done everything I possibly can to prepare them for what is to come in their lives. I have recently been able to release alot of fear to God regarding them, understanding that it is not my job to protect them as much as it is to prepare them. And I simply cant justify my time spent out of my home, as time invested in them.

Now here comes the part where I tell you how much I fail at this. There are days I wish that I worked outside my home, although they are very few and far between anymore. I miss adult conversation.There are days when I just want to sleep until ten and hire a cleaning lady.I do sometimes cringe when its 3 pm and its hot and the laundry is piling up and dinner needs to be prepped and Grace asks me to read her a story, and I just say no. And there are most certainly times when I would rather paint than do anything at all. I am not always the wife and mother God wants me to be. But that's ok. I will never measure up to the standards the world puts on women to be everything to everyone. I cant do it all. And I don't enjoy it all. But my heart fills up and tears start flowing when I get to show Jesus to my Grace...when we have moments when Grace asks me the tough questions and I get to be the one to answer them.Or when I get to pray for my Lucy when she is tired and is having a meltdown. I get overwhelmed with gratitude when I get to be the one to take Grace to her dentist month after month and speak Gods courage and love into her heart so she can overcome her fears...and then joyfully share in the moments with her when she finally overcomes them. I just know that she will remember these times and remember the lessons I have filled her up with and I think about all the opportunities I would miss out on if I wasn't here.Nothing makes me happier than spending my days, my hours, my minutes with my children. Nothing. But I didn't always feel that way...

There were periods of time in my life when I felt like I wanted to just run from it all. I felt like I wasn't as good of a mom as you are or she I felt like I should just give up the responsibility to someone else. So I started praying about it. I asked God to give me the heart for my children that he has for them. And as impossible as it seems because his heart doesn't even compare to mine, he answered my prayer. And it all of a sudden became okay that I wasn't doing art projects everyday or we weren't reading books everyday. It became okay that I wasn't doing all the pinterest projects or even blogging about motherhood. Its all okay. I am everything I was meant to be, because he made me. I am not mother of the year, whoever she is.

I can say for sure that no amount of money or desire I have would keep me from this precious time I have in front of them. This is it. This is really it. I have been trusted with these little people and I want to give it my all. Even if my all is them helping me pack boxes or the two of them playing by themselves for a few hours while I work at home. I have no guilt in that. I have no guilt that sometimes we eat slices of cheese and strawberries for dinner at 9 pm because I am still here. And I am still the one sharing the gospel with them and just reminding them each and every moment I can that God loves them. And there is no amount of money or education that will compare to that truth. He alone is the bread of life and nobody but God himself will ever love them as much as I do.There is grace for me when I am weak and overwhelmed and there is grace for me when I fail them. And I do every single day. But I am still their mother. I was created for them and they were a gift to me. I stand firm in my choice and my freedom to do so...and I am praising God with all i am that he has given me this opportunity to create income and sustain our family in this rough economy. I am embracing our new ways of cutting costs and budgeting. I am actually happier being more frugal and obedient and less in the flesh. I never thought those words would come out of my mouth.

There is nothing that cant wait for a few years. No dream that I have with my art or writing...nothing is out of Gods timing. I am in it for sure. I am right where i am supposed to be. I have finally come to a place where I don't feel as if I am missing out on anything. There is no job or degree or any amount of money that would lure me out of my calling. I am a mother. I am a wife. And I am a child of the most high. And I am far more concerned with what he wants for me than what I think I want for myself. I would hope one day my girls would understand why we didn't take lavish vacations every year or why they ate pasta and PB and J sandwiches for some months...and I am praying for anyone struggling with this choice. I know its hard sometimes. I too have been known to put my faith and my security in a job or my bank account. But the fact is, those things are fleeting. And the time is short. And the world is an evil place. And I find much more security in Gods word and his promises for me and my family. And I want to make sure I have every single opportunity to fill my girls hearts up with his promises, so when they face this evil world, when i have to finally let them go, I will know I did everything I could.

I will have no regrets.

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Saturday, September 8, 2012


I have had several stop in my tracks moments lately where God has just blown me away with his peace. I find myself sometimes so engrossed in a task and then I just have to stop and soak it all in. Soak in him. He whispers to me...he tells me of the plans he has for me. I can actually feel him walking around with me, lifting me up when I'm tired and giving me so much grace when its all just too much.

Funny, my daughter is named Grace and I didn't really even know the meaning of the word until now. And it has been the key to freedom for me. This concept that I will never be good enough or able to do enough or be what everyone needs me to be, without him. And still, I fail at that. Still, I am the apple of his eye. Still, when I yell at my kids or just fall short...he is standing right there waiting for me to just release to him.

And with my art. I just am amazed at his timing and how he has made all this come together for this family. This really is my dream. Working at home and making something with my hands... But the working at home part is the real blessing. Being able to be in front of my children all day and even when I am busy filling boxes or ordering supplies, they are here, in our home. And still being able to be here for my husband when he needs me, it warms my heart, all of it. This really is the definition of having it all to me.

But lately I have been thinking about what exactly this is. Where is this going? I go through it in my head so many times and it still does not compare to what God has in store. My hopes and dreams for my family seem so small compared to what he has already planned. And I just cant help but wonder how much do people miss out on when they don't match their thinking to Gods. I have always been a big dreamer. Someone who has ideas and visions for the future, for prosperity. I have big dreams to help people in big ways... I wonder what would be happening right now if I didn't listen to him 6 months ago when he nudged me to pick up that paint brush. I wonder if this whole thing is a magical part of my sovereign destiny and I maybe would never have experienced Gods best, if I didn't believe he wanted it for me. I am so often brought back to Jeremiah 29:11 where God just simply says...

For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.

We all know it. We have all heard it. But do we really get it? Its all for him. I stopped dead in my tracks today wiping my sticky counters full of syrup from breakfast and just thought wow, this really is for him. He really did create all of this. He delights in me. He wants me to succeed. He loves me so much that he put these hopes and dreams into my heart even before I was on this earth. He knew what I would struggle with...he knew my rough spots. But he planned a way out. He planned so much love and grace for where I would fail. And I am in awe of him working in my life right now. I am not designed to fail, because I know him. And I trust him. And even if it appears that I fail, it really isn't to him because he uses all of that to build me up for something better.

I don't know if I am meant to just paint flags and Noah's Ark...but I am certainly not going to limit my God. And I am certainly not going to equate financial success as prosperity...because I feel more secure and safe with all the hard lessons I have been taught through him and with his unfailing love than with what could ever be in my bank account. My families needs have grown, and he has given us a way to meet those needs. I am in awe. And I am standing on his promise today...and tomorrow.

If this life is for him, and he takes delight in me and wants to prosper me, I'm sure not going to stop him anymore with any feelings of fear or doubt. My God does not work on our economy or the state of our country. He is much more concerned with how much I believe in him.

Thank God for his promise of prosperity.
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Friday, September 7, 2012

an update on Grace

Oh much has happened in the past 6 months.

It all really started when we moved to Texas. Her cough and allergies has turned into some pretty crappy asthma. She coughs, throws up every single morning and her active little personality is being tested. I watched her have her first asthma attack last week. I held her while she was struggling to breathe and her little heart was going 90 miles an hour. Last week we officially got the diagnosis and now shes on 2 inhalers, a heavy dose of steroid and 3 allergy meds, preventative and fast acting. I cant say that any of this is a surprise, welcome to my side of the family. All the women in my family have horrible allergies and asthma.

But what was a surprise to me is my reaction. I guess I have been through enough lately to know that this stuff is not from God. Yes, some of the time these horrible things are consequences of our own actions, but not this. She didn't do this, it didn't seek her out personally, and this is not her fault. We will do the best we can with what we have. And I actually found myself praising God for choosing me to be her mother, after all I know asthma and allergies myself and how to handle it. I have compassion for her and empathy and I also know how to handle our surroundings and what we eat so that we heal. I got this.

Tuesday was her first day back at preschool since the summer. The first day of school when everyone shows up in their best outfits, brand new colored pencils and glue and a packed lunch. Grace lives for that day. We woke up and put on her favorite outfit and we were so excited. And then she started coughing so bad and threw up everywhere, all over her and I. She was shaking and struggling and just mad as hell. I held her and calmed her down...secretly crying with her. I told her that we couldn't go to school and it was like the world had stopped. After about a half hour I changed my mind and we left. I walked into her school very hesitant and scared. I didn't know if they would even be willing to accept this burden and love her through it. They don't have to. But they did. And we just finished our first week and she is so happy. But I am even more proud of her and I as a team, choosing to keep going and fighting even when things are tough. If there is anything I would hope to teach my girls, its that anything is possible.

We have also been able to keep going to swim lessons and that is just a God send for us. She is thriving in a new way I never even thought she could. It is the one place i see there is no fear in her. The other day she had her first moment of panic when she stopped a few inches short of the side and couldn't find her way...still under water. But Rory noticed and let her feel it out for a few seconds and gave her a gently nudge to the side. I thought to myself, if that were me when I was four, i would be out of that pool and in the car, with panic in my heart and fear written all over me. But not Grace. And I am finding myself just pouring tears over my girls and who they are more and more lately. I'm just so full as a mama right now. So amazed at how Gods grace picks me up and carries me when I am feeling like I cant do this. His grace poured all over our Grace when her body doesn't want to let her thrive. We will be okay. I will show her that she can do things even when obstacles are in her way. And I will use this as a constant teaching moment for her about how grateful we are to be alive and how bad she could really have it.

Grace, one day I hope you find yourself here and you can understand just how very much you show me in life. Your courage and commitment are beyond even my own. I am just so excited for you and who you are becoming. And I will hold you and cry with you when your mad as hell that you cant breathe or run or play. And I will be praying for you everyday...

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Thursday, September 6, 2012

The things they should teach you in school...

I don't know what it is but I have a huge fear of a man showing up in a cheap suit shaking his finger at me banging on the door, telling me I need to pay my taxes. I guess this is the part of my personality that I love, and I hate. The part where I need to always know what I'm doing, have a process, lists and a system. Once I set my mind on something, I need to know how to do it, why I am doing it and what happens if I don't. This is a great part of me when it comes to being a military wife. I really am great at handling business when it comes to moving and relocating our family ever few lists and processes get us from point A to point B with minimal damage.

But I am terrified at not doing something right in business.

I am terrified because its new to me. Yes, I have owned a business before but never really did anything with it so it went to business heaven and I haven't heard from it since. But things are happening over here and I just want to be prepared.

I was on hold with the IRS today for 2 hours. And thank God for my husband who takes the kids and entertains them for me while I handle this stuff. I finally got the right person on the line and simply just started out the conversation with, " I am simply a mom and a military wife, I don't know what I am doing." She really was annoyed already. And I am a talker, that's how I process things. You can actually find me walking the grocery store isles mumbling to myself, I have caught people staring at me and had to snap out of my self talk. So when I kept interrupting this poor lady to say, ok so your saying I don't owe anything right now right? she got terribly annoyed. And I will say I did shed a few tears at the end.

This moment, today, will be important for me to look back on one day. I really just truly believe that if this story can help anyone out there, or even just my daughters, this will all be worth it. Because I know nothing. Literally nothing. I didn't know anything before I started this either and here I am. Selling art. I am freaked out in the best way possible. I will say it again, I just picked up a paint brush 6 months ago. I am just in awe of what has happened here.

So after hour three today, I don't know if I feel that much more confident with the rules and my responsibilities. And I am deeply sorry for those people that work there that seem to just hate their jobs. But I guess the very fact that I stay up at night analyzing and googling schedule C forms and 1040 ES worksheets makes me on the right track. I'm sure the very fact that I actually care gives me a good start.

I kept repeating, I am just a stay at home mom and a military wife who is trying to do good for her family.

I really think that if I would have learned a little about tax law or small business structures or anything related in school I would be better off today. I really do think it needs to be part of the curriculum in school. But I'm not a teacher and have no idea how that would work...I guess that's what college is for? Didn't do that either.

So I might just be a stay at home mom and a wife but I know I have the Almighty clearing paths, directing me to people and pulling strings for me. I just know it. And I hope that somewhere out there in Internet land some mom finds this post. A mom who wants the very best for her girls...doesn't care much about clothes or shoes, or even vacations, but who cares about being able to put healthy food on the table and help her husband out in a tough economy. A mom who cares so much about being able to give to others but cant...yet. If your out there, this is possible. You can do this. If you have a passion in your heart and a God to lean on, that's all you need.

Everything in between will always work itself out. ;)
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Tuesday, September 4, 2012

7 is sure to be our number

I was watching "19 kids and counting" last night and it was a wedding episode. One of the Duggar daughters got married. They had a few of the other Duggar girls sitting in chairs in a panel speaking about what they are looking for in future husbands. They are all under the age of 18 and spoke with such confidence. They spoke about finding husbands who could admit when they are wrong and husbands who love the Lord. They said that finding someone who had a great relationship with the elders in their family was important. Then I watched the wedding, it was the bride and grooms first ever kiss. They both had decided to even wait for that. I was in awe and discouraged at the same time. I found myself feeling a little envy and resentment because they had chosen to do things the right way. The God way. And then I got to thinking about how today, my husband and I are married 7 years....

Scott, when you and I met, we had no list. There was no criteria. We were so broken we both just needed someone to take all of that away. You and I both agree that if we hadn't met, we both wouldn't be here today. I didn't even consider all of your faults when choosing to spend the rest of my life with you. Infact I will never forget that 5 am we were so drunk off champagne on our front porch of our crappy apartment...that we talked about God for the first time. I believe that's the first time you met Jesus. I believe.

I never had the engagement I dreamt of. We quick planned a wedding after 3 years of being together because we decided the best route for you would be to join the Navy. Then you left and our life really started. We didn't have any engagement photos or meeting of the families...In fact most of our early days were spent fighting, leaving each other and then speeding right back. We had many opportunities then to get out. Even before we were married. But we didnt.

I am thinking back on our 7 years of marriage today a little bit in shock and a whole lot of grateful...thinking about the list of sins we have committed against each other and I think how crazy are we? How crazy is this marriage that seems more like a seedy romance novel, than a God breathed union of a man and a woman. And sometimes I even find myself questioning could he have brought two people together that clearly are the complete opposite and were so broken that we didn't even know what marriage was, unlike those Duggar kids...because not everyone knows our story here, but you do. And you know what I was going through when we met. And I know what you were going through...and that night before I left for Cedar Point, I prayed...and I hadn't prayed in a long time. But I asked God to either help me make lots of money at that summer job or lead me to the man I was going to marry. And I didn't make any money that summer...

So here we are. 7 years later. Still in somewhat of a broken state. We still fight, we still get consumed with what the world wants us to be, at least I know I do. And I think about that letter you wrote me back in 2002, in our book. The one about the tree and how awkward it was then but how it was going to bloom into the most beautiful thing we had ever seen...and I think about how broken we really are and how much pruning has been done on our tree. Because we are still here. Through all of the hurt we have caused each other, through all of the promises we have broken. Its almost like God put us together because he knew how broken we were and he knew that we would hurt each other...because we didn't have the right foundation. But because of all that, we would understand each other and have a multitude of grace for each other that no one else would have. I get you. Your sin is not a surprise to me, and mine is not to you. And yet we still forgive each other and keep going, every time. If I had a million hands I could count all the reasons why we don't work but that doesn't compare to the reason why we do work. Thank God.

Our marriage is a testimony love...a testimony that giving up is not always the answer. You name it, we have been through it. I don't even know who I was 7 years ago...that girl who said I do. But I am so grateful that you were on the other end saying you do too...Not many people would still be here with me, but you are.

I am not always happy, and neither are you. I am not always fulfilled, and neither are you. And too often I live in the flesh and focus more on whats wrong than whats right. Some days I just want to give up and I know you do too...but we don't, and we keep going. For the next 7 years I just pray that our tree grows taller and stronger and that it is in full bloom. I just pray that we continue to live in grace and work harder at loving each other where we are, right now. And I pray that we look less like ourselves everyday, and more like Him.

If I could go back 10 years...I still would choose you. And I know you would choose me. I still see that guy who I fell in love with. And even though we aren't those people anymore, I still remember you. I think about that guy who made me laugh. The only guy I could be myself around. I love that we used to walk around with 40 feet of toilet paper in our pants acting like it wasn't there and waiting for people to notice, and crack up. I love that we used to pull fire alarms and write in our notebook everyday...and I love that I am still the only one who ever saw the "tree people".

So here's to our marriage today Scott. There will be no fancy dinners or jewelry exchanged. We wont be having any champagne. I didn't even get you a card. But I did give you my heart. And no, we dont look like every other couple. We didnt always do things the right way, Lord knows. And we will keep making mistakes...but I am grateful that God can use all of it.

And you texted me earlier and asked if I thought it was possible to start fresh at 7 years...and my answer is still, yes. We can start over every single day of our lives together.

I love you.

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Saturday, September 1, 2012

To Justin from HEB.... ;)

Justin, we met tonight in the isle of all that expensive cheese and meat...
we talked about the two most important things to both of us,
me...I told you about God
and you, you told me about music.
Except, I didnt really tell you about God.
I told you that I once WAS you...
living the life for the here and now.
I told you that there once was a time that I smoked as much as you...
even more.
but that doesn't decide my eternity.
In fact, Im 100% positive that it doesn't.
And its funny how the two of us met.
And I do miss cigarettes sometimes...
But I don't miss what they represented.
Addiction, dependence, instant pleasure...
I traded THAT in for freedom.
And that's what the cross represents.
THATS Jesus.
We talked about music and how we both love it. Feel lost without it.
But I really wish I would have talked more about Jesus, and how I am lost without him.
Oh Justin,
I just sometimes struggle with the "how tos" of sharing my Jesus, I always leave these short encounters feeling like there are 100 million other things I could have said than what I did say...
So I will say it now, if your listening.
Crazy if you are here because I gave you my card.
I told you to check out my art, you said you would.
So if I could go back about an hour, I would tell you that God IS real and according to you, if you died today, you wouldnt know your status.
Well you say it would just be over, and your cool with that...
But what if that wasnt it?
My soul aches for you Justin because you are so young and so sweet and full of passion...
and there is so much life ahead of you.
You are so young...
I have 10 years on you my friend and in that ten years, alot has happened.
But what I wanted to tell you about standing there laughing at the icky pork was that its not about what God does for me, its what Jesus did.
On the cross.
And I am praying for you that you hear about it more, and you recieve it.
Because you dont have to quit smoking, to meet Jesus.
You dont have to do anything.
I am just as much of a sinner as you my friend.
And as far as living your life for the here and now...
been there, done that.
I could sit here and tell you about all the times in my life God put his very hand on me and healed and restored me, forgave me and loved me...
even when I didnt love him.
And I could tell you that my life has greater meaning now that I know Jesus,
but again, its not about that.
Its about the cross.
Justin, my friend...
if you died today,
where would you go?
I asked you that in not so many ways,
and your cool with your answer.
But Im not,
and Hes not.
But he still loves you...
Thanks for the chat tonight.
I will always remember Justin in the expensive chesse and meat section.
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