Today’s youth group-tomorrow’s adults!

I sit in the same section every Sunday at church. On the far right 1 row behind the teenagers/youth. Some people are annoyed by them but not me, I’m absolutely fascinated by them. Something about sitting behind them encourages me and gives me hope for the future. Why? Because it’s a place where otherwise macho jock teenage boys will hug each other as brothers in Christ. It’s a place where teens will huddle around a friend laying hands on one another in prayer. It’s a place where the popular trendy looking girls embrace the not so fashionable ones as their sisters. Watching teens with arms extended high to the Lord fills my cup. They aren’t ashamed of their faith, they embrace it. They don’t sink into their seats for fear of looking “uncool”, they jump, they shout, they sing, they dance, they praise! These kids aren’t here because their parents dragged them there, these kids are truly on fire for the Lord and it shines! This is encouraging to me because the world has set them up for spiritual failure. Everything on television, in music, movies, and magazines seems to be advertising sin. Satan entices our children with every temptation that is meant to drag them down to the fiery pits of hell with him. He wraps that sin up in a beautiful red ribbon and it’s hard to resist, especially when you aren’t well equipped. My girls and my nieces aren’t teenagers yet but I know that day is right around the corner for us. I’m so blessed to have many amazing teenage girls that I’ve adopted as my nieces over the years. I’ve loved watching them grow into beautiful, amazing, intelligent, caring, compassionate, God-fearing young women. My heart breaks for them when I see them struggling with some of the “normal” teenage girl dramas and heartaches. I try to reach out and encourage them to the best of my ability because it’s MY responsibility as cooky adoptive aunt to pour into their lives. It’s MY responsibility to show them the love that God has for them. There are a million and one people and influences swirling around them daily pulling them in the wrong direction, giving them destructive “advice”, pressuring them to sin so they need just as many influences lifting them up and encouraging them in the word. We are living in a world where kids who don’t know the Lord are committing unspeakable crimes against other teens and themselves. Our high schools are filled with young pregnant girls, STD’s, drugs, suicide, crime, teenagers with no accountability for their actions whatsoever. I want to encourage each and every one of you whether you have teenagers of your own or not to lift our youth up in prayer daily. Pray a hedge of protection over them and their friends. Pray that they will be so filled with the spirit of the Lord that satan can not sway them. Pour into their lives and be a good listener. Drop unexpected encouraging texts and emails. They need to know that the price of sin is death and that Jesus brings life. Remember that today’s teenagers, are the leaders of tomorrow. If we don’t cover these kids in the blood of the lamb and teach them right from wrong, if we don’t nurture and encourage a Christ centered life, we are not only doing them an injustice but we are sabotaging the future of our nation, of our world. Our teenage girls are especially under attack. Society tells them they aren’t pretty enough, skinny enough, popular enough. Society will teach them that they need the love and attention of a boy to make them feel complete. But, we need to teach them that they are the daughter of a King and their heavenly father thinks they are beautiful and perfect and loves them more completely than any high school boy could even fathom. It’s up to us to raise and encourage God fearing women who will go on to raise and encourage another generation of God fearing women. It’s up to us to pour into those teenage boys and show them how to love and respect a woman just as their heavenly father loves the church, his bride. It’s important that we teach them to love others despite their differences. Schools are filled with so many cliques and so much division, we must teach them to close in those gaps and come together as a family of Christ sharing one simple goal. Love God, love others. Rejoice in the truth and not delight in evil. If we all pour into these tweens/teens and show them to follow Christ, help them fall in love with Him and his word, we can change the world. These kids are our future. Invest in your future! <3 Be the light! <3

For lack of guidance a nation falls, but victory is won through many advisers.
Proverbs 11:14

Guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are God my Savior, and my hope is in you all day long.
Psalm 25:5

Motherhood

I want to start with a bit of an apology or a disclaimer if you will, I normally proof read my blogs briefly before I post because I know I can often become long winded or stray from the subject but I didn’t do that here. I just wanted to express exactly what I was feeling without any regards to run ons or subject changes! You’ve been warned.

When I held P (now 10) in my arms for the very first time, I knew being a mom was my calling. I mean, I had always known it but it really reiterated it. Yep, this was what I was meant to do. I was absolutely made to be a mother. I closed my eyes and envisioned my future as a glowing, nurturing, patient, maternal goddess. My entire future glowed before me. Soccer games, cheerleading, PTA meetings, family pictures. Yes, life was going to be picturesque, I could feel it. Even through the pain of my c-section and the late night feedings and poop explosions I trucked on towards the prize. The mother-of-year-prize; as though it was a tangible engraved trophy. I attended all her preschool parties with handmade treats and personalized party favors in tow. I scrapbooked every glorious little detail of her life in elaborate hand cut spreads with corner rounded photos. When I learned I was pregnant again, I just knew I would be an even better mother this time around. After all, I had some experience under my belt now, I was practically a pro! But when T came along, I learned I wasn’t as super as I thought. She was a difficult baby. She pretty much hated anyone but me and refused to be bottle fed at all. Pumped milk was not her thing, she wanted it fresh from the source! lol So class parties and other social events sort of took a back seat to little sister. I felt spread so thin I was sure both of my girls were suffering. By the time T was around 2 and I finally felt like I had a foothold on motherhood again, Dave and I begin talking about trying for our third and final baby. We thought since we were “trying” this time, it may take a while but in no time at all we were expecting again. This pregnancy was exciting to me because we were better prepared for it. It was expected, we were excited, the girls were excited, and we were in a better place financially to accommodate a new little blessing than previously. I was older, more experienced, and completely ready to take this on. After all, I had mastered being a mother of two, how much more difficult could a third child be? A was a pretty difficult child right out of the gate. She was colicky and was seriously attached to her mama. She did like Daddy much more than T did as a baby so that helped. Dave was much more helpful this time around too. He changed diapers and would offer to keep her so I could go to the store alone occasionally. But 3 kids into my parenting journey, I don’t exactly feel like a pro. I am NOT president of the PTA like I envisioned, I don’t even attend meetings. I have a hard time keeping their school and sporting events straight so I’m always late or confused in someway. We haven’t had family pictures taken in years. I’m not a glowing maternal goddess. I’m out of shape and stressed and overwhelmed most days. I feel like I’m drowning and failing in so many ways. I spend most of my days questioning every parenting decision I make and reflecting on every poor choice I made in the day: I text while I was at dinner with them, I fed them chick-fil-a because I didn’t feel like cooking, I didn’t bathe them last night because I was beyond ready for them to go to bed, they watched tv for more than an hour today, I lost my patience, I yelled, I skipped a bedtime story, we didn’t wake up in time for church, we didn’t pray together before bed. Did I spend enough time with them? Did I spend TOO much time with them? Did I let them be individuals and develop their own opinions or am I forcing mine on them? Have I scared them for life? Am I crushing their little spirits and forever changing who they are? Will they need therapy as adults? You laugh, but you know you’ve all thought the same thing about your parenting skills. Some days I hide in my closet and cry because I’m so disappointed in myself as a mother. Our pediatrician constantly compliments me on how well behaved, polite, intelligent, and wonderful our girls are. She praises Dave and I for our parenting every time we visit. Recently, Dave and I treated the girls to a nice dinner at Saltgrass steakhouse to celebrate P & T both being selected as students of the month at school when an elderly gentleman sitting at the table behind us came over as they were leaving and shook Dave’s hand. He said he just wanted to stop by and congratulate us on being wonderful parents. He said he and his wife had been watching and they were so blown away by how polite the girls were and how they just sat there sweetly the entire dinner. They were never rambunctious, never threw a fit, and were absolutely beautiful as well. Dave beamed with pride and the girls sweetly smiled and said thank you before waiving goodbye. Stuff like this literally happens to us every time we leave the house but still I don’t feel like a good parent. I still am overwhelmed with feelings of inadequacy and failure. This weekend was a great weekend for our family. Thursday I attended a muffins with Mom breakfast at the older girl’s elementary school and then a few hours later attended a muffins with Mom event at A’s mother’s day out program. I loved watching them very proudly present me little handmade cards and gifts as a Mother’s Day present. Friday morning, I attended another early morning breakfast event at the school because P had been chosen for a character award. Each time I attend an event at the girl’s school I am bombarded by reports of praise from their teachers, administrators, peers, and other parents. I cried as a letter from her teacher explaining why she was chosen was read aloud choked full of wonderful words of praise like “P is selfless, generous, and there is not a student in my classroom who thinks anything but the best of her. On my own bad days, I can think of a student like her and realize why I love to do this job.”. She goes on to say “Her kindness and constant enthusiasm will be something I remember for many years to come.”. Wow! Included in her award papers was a wonderful collage of sweet comments that each of her peers had contributed about her. “P is a problem solver and I have never seen her with a frown”, “You are a sweet, nice, cute, and generous girl and will be my best friend forever”, “You are awesome! You are fast, nice, gold hearted, a good friend, and very good at soccer”, “She is one of the coolest and nicest people I have ever met”. Were amongst some of my favorite things her classmates had to share about her. I am so so proud of this amazing little girl but I can’t take the credit for it. Even with all this praise, I can’t take credit. She’s wonderful all on her own and I still felt like a failure when I fed her fast food for dinner that night. The next morning, our whole family attended a city wide “Character March” at one of the local high schools. Star students from each school in the city were brought on stage and recognized for being students of impeccable character. This year there were about 18 students out of the nearly 500 enrolled students at their school selected to be students of the month and of those 18, my 2 children were BOTH selected! They were the only set of siblings recognized that day. T’s teacher said about her: “She always has a kind word for her friends and encourages others. She usually goes the extra mile to help teachers and students alike.” She added, “She is a great example to her peers daily and her genuine and caring heart makes her a friend to all.” We finished off the morning with food and fun at the stadium and then enjoyed an evening of pizza and playing with friends. At the end of the night when I kept my children up waaaaaay past their bedtimes and then became irritated when A was extremely cranky and whiney I felt like a failure again. My point in all of this was not to brag on my children, (okay, maybe a little bit, but they truly deserve some recognition), it was to say that no matter what the parenting circumstances are, no matter how other people view you as a parent, no matter how well behaved and kind hearted your kids may be, you will always be your own worst critic. It’s something I’ve struggled with since I became a mother and something I will probably always struggle with from time to time. This morning when I was surprised with a beautiful bouquet of flowers, jewelry from one of my favorite stores, donuts, and hand drawn Mother’s Day cards before church, I cried. Reading the sweet words on the card my husband had selected for me and the wonderful note he wrote at the bottom made my heart swell because I realized something for the first time in all of my years as a mom. I realized that I am enough. I’m not perfect, I’m often impatient, I become overwhelmed, sometimes my kids eat fast food, but I’m doing my very best and you know what? That’s a pretty good start. God didn’t intend for us to be perfect mothers. He intended us to lean on him with faithful prayer. He intended for us to go to Him for counsel and guidance and to raise our children to love him. Can I tell you something moms? You are enough for those babies. Someday when they’re grown, they won’t remember that time we were too tired for a bedtime story, they will remember the love we had for them, the discipline they received when they were disobedient, the lessons we teach them, and most importantly how we instilled in them a love for the Lord.

Proverbs 22:6 Train up a child in the way he should go and when he is old, he will not depart from it.

I find so much encouragement in the word knowing that the Father is with me co-parenting and picking up the slack when I can’t go on. I find hope in His promises for me as a mother and although I know I will always fall short in some area as a mother, I know those sweet, beautiful, amazing, precious babies of mine love their imperfect, absent minded, goofy, flawed mommy more than I deserve. They are truly the greatest gift I’ve ever been given. They try my patience and drive my absolutely batty some days but this wonderful amazing motherhood journey has been the greatest ride of my life!

Proverbs 31:28-29 Her children arise and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her. Many women do noble things but you surpass them all.

Thank you Lord for loving me so completely despite my many flaws. Thank you for trusting me with these 3 amazing little angels. Thank you for giving me a God fearing mother as an example to myself and my children and for the many amazing mothers in my life. I pray for extra strength for my fellow mommies who are struggling with the same feelings of inadequacy and failure today. Less of us and more of you Lord.

Happy Mother’s Day Mamas! <3

Marriage in the social media age

I don’t even know where to begin this post but it’s been weighing heavily on my heart for quite some time now.  I want to talk about marriage today.

Marriage has never been easy kids.  Historically, marriage has been hard work.  Adam and Eve even knew it was tough to be married.  Sin has always been a dividing factor in marriages.  The bible tells us stories of deceit, adultery, even murder in marriage so this is obviously not a new trend.  But now, thanks to technology, it seems marriages have a whole new set of hurdles to jump.

I’m going to start by telling you a little bit about myself and my own marriage so that you don’t feel like I’ve got a perfectly easy marriage and have NO idea what I’m talking about in this struggle.  Dave and I got married 6 years ago after a very brief courtship.  We moved rather quickly and both of us just kind of knew we were headed towards marriage from the get go.  I think we only dated a couple of months when he moved in with me and we began discussing marriage.  We toyed with a spring time beach wedding  and I sent off for an information packet from the travel agent about our wedding in St. Lucia.  We hadn’t yet set a date but were thinking sometime in March.  Life had other plans though.  In July (7 months before our planned beach wedding), I learned I was pregnant.  Dave’s reaction to that positive pregnancy test made me want to marry him even more.  Neither of us ever thought “oh no, what the hell have we done”.  Well, I didn’t anyway, and if that’s what he was thinking, he masked it well!  lol  Anyhow, we decided to bump the wedding up to August and kiss our barefoot beach wedding goodbye.  Our wedding was a simple but lovely (if I say so myself) lake front wedding.  Only our family and a small group of best friends were there to witness our vows.  I would like to tell you it’s been all rainbows and butterflies since but I would be lying.  We love each other fiercely so it always works out but we’ve had a lot of odds stacked against us.  In addition to not knowing each other fully well and a sudden unexpected pregnancy, we had a whole handful of differences to sort through.  I was raised in church while Dave was not.  I had been married before and had a small child from that marriage while Dave, an often drunk soldier in the Army, had never so much as had a serious relationship in his life.   Those were just the obvious obstacles.   I suffered from depression and had suitcases of trust issues, insecurities, and fear of being hit due to my first marriage.  Dave had his own baggage of course including some post traumatic stress from his time in war.  Moral of the story is, our marriage is not a walk in the park.  It is hard.  It’s work.  Every.day.of.our.lives! We love hard, we fight hard.  When it comes down to it though, there is no one else on the planet that can make me smile and laugh like this man can.  There is no one else on the planet I would rather fight for and fight with.   Yes, my eyes glazed over for a second and I got butterflies talking about him so I would say that’s a sign he’s a keeper still.

What was the point in me telling you our life story you’re probably wondering?  Well, the point is that people always tell me how happy and in love we look.  And we are 85% of the time.  The other 15% of the time, we often want to strangle each other.  lol  But when we fight, I don’t rush to social media to be my counselor.  I don’t air out our dirty laundry and the sacred details of our marriage and our disagreements to hundreds of mostly strangers.  Marriage is a sacred union and when I divulge the inner workings and problems within our marriage to the world, I give them a piece of my marriage that isn’t theirs to have.  Does this mean when we have a huge blowout and I need some guidance and advice that I don’t tell anyone at all?  Nope, I have a handful of people that I fully trust to be on the side of my marriage to consult with.  I consult God fearing friends who I feel will tell me when I’m being ridiculous and over reacting or pray with me and for us until we get it worked out.  I consult friends who do not pass judgement on either myself or my husband who won’t just take MY side because they’re my friend but will always take the side of my marriage and our children.  Social media sites like twitter, Facebook, and instagram can very easily harm your marriage.

I get so worked up when I log onto Facebook and see things like “I married such a useless A-hole”,  “He thinks he’s gonna cheat on me and get away with it”, “I’m so hurt by what my husband did…”, “My wife is such a B****h”,  “I wish my wife would do this…”, “Too bad my wife doesn’t look like this or dress like this…”.  You get the point, you’ve all seen these types of posts.  The problem with posting things like this about your spouse is that it is a full on public stoning.   You may as well line up all the townspeople with rocks in hand ready to throw them at your spouse.  This is an absolute blatant disregard for the sacred union that marriage is supposed to be.  The covenant of marriage was made between you, your spouse, and God and was NOT made to include 800 of your best Facebook “friends”!  When you trash talk and break your husband/wife down in a public forum, you are telling others that your marriage is not that strong.  That your spouse and your marriage is not that important to you.  You are publicly declaring that Satan is winning in your marriage.  No, no, no people!  Don’t declare that!  When you’re facing problems in your marriage no matter what the magnitude, you run like hell to get some counsel from someone who will be on the side of your marriage and not a bunch of random people to fuel the drama fire.  Go to God with your problems not the internet!

Wives, submit to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord.  Husbands, love your wives and do not be harsh with them. -Colossians 3:18-19

In addition to social media sites giving troubled marriages a forum to bash one another, it also opens the gates of sexual sin.  I repeatedly see married men (and sometimes women) “liking” pages that are one step away from pornographic.  Y’all, please don’t disrespect your wife by liking “big booty hoes” or “dirty housewives” on Facebook.  Wives, please do NOT participate in MCM (man crush monday) if you plan on posting a photo of some shirtless sweaty man that is NOT your husband.  Have some respect for each other for Pete’s sake!  I don’t want to see it in my newsfeed and no matter how “cool” and “secure” your spouse is, they don’t want to see it either!!!!!!!!  The problem is, we live in a society that makes objectifying women and men okay.  We’ve made things like topless bars acceptable.  We patron “sports bars” and “restaurants” that boast scantily clad, bikini top, booty short wearing waitresses and bartenders.  We are buying into sex.  We are buying into adultery.  We’ve got smartphones and portable devices that make viewing XXX videos and photos on demand easier than making a phone call!  Satan is invading our marriages and we just let him kids!  We’ve smeared a very black and white subject into a grey area with technology and these types of establishments but I will tell you God does not see this grey area we’ve created.

But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart. -Matthew 5:28

The moral of the story kids?  Look to God and not the world to guide you through your marriage.  Social media does not have the answers but HIS word surely does!  Love one another kids.  Forgive one another.  Do NOT publicly humiliate and bash one another.  Use social media to build your spouse up not tear them down!

dance

I’ll leave you with this gushy picture of me dancing with my handsome husband on the dock on our wedding day.  I don’t always like you, but I’ll always love you.  Those dreamy eyes and contagious smile will forever put you at the top of my Man Crush Monday list!!!  <3

Lies Christians tell themselves (and sometimes others too)

Those of us who were raised in the church or even found our way there as adults, know that there are certain character traits that Christians are “supposed” to possess.  Good Christians should be honest, fair, kind, and generous right?  So, I’m gonna start by being super honest with myself (and you).  Here goes, ready for it?  I am NOT always honest, fair, kind, and generous!  In fact, I.AM.A.LIAR!  Yikes!  Felt good to get that off my chest!  Yep, you read that correctly, I lie to myself (and sometimes others) pretty often actually.  What on earth do I mean you might be asking?  Let me give you an example as to lies I often tell myself (and others).  Brace yourself, you may just discover that YOU are a liar too!  Yikes!

Lie #1:  “I’ll pray for you.”  Relax.  I’m not saying this is always a lie.  In fact, a good 97% of the times that I say I will pray for you, I REALLY do!  But the bottom line is, I’m forgetful.  Reaaaaaaaalllly forgetful.  There are some days that I get so caught up in my super hectic life that I actually forget that 3% of specific prayer requests if I haven’t written them down or stopped that very second to pray.  Eeeeeesh.  Most of the time, I’ll see a post on Facebook or hear someone talk about the request later and want to slap myself in the face because I know I wasn’t a strong prayer warrior for that particular need. 

My commitment to future honesty: When I hear or read a prayer request I will immediately stop what I am doing and pray for that need if possible.

Lie #2:  “I don’t have any cash to give.”  We’ve all been approached by a homeless man on the streets, a group of children asking for donations for their school or sport, or some other need.  Sometimes I question the sincerity of the need and rather than opening my wallet, I just politely apologize with a generic “I’m sorry, I would, but I don’t have any cash on me”.  This isn’t always a lie.  In fact, I very rarely do carry cash on me but if I’m being super honest, there’s an atm on every corner and most stores have a cash back option when you’re paying with a card.  More than the lack of cash though, I wonder if the person is really in need.  I double even triple guess the need and if I don’t deem the person truly needy I use the no cash cop out.  Last week, the girls and I were grocery shopping and a young mom approached me with her young toddler on her hip.  She told me she was from a nearby town and needed some gas money to get back.  I sweetly smiled and said yep, you guessed it, “I’m sorry, but I don’t have any cash”.  She politely said “that’s okay, thank you anyway” and disappeared down the aisle.  The truth is, I had cash.  I had lots of cash actually.  I had a neat little row of $100 dollar bills I had been meaning to take to the bank to deposit.  If I had a $5, $10, or $20 I would have gladly handed it over but, I didn’t want to give her a whole $100!  I blow $100 on stupid stuff all the time so what was wrong with giving it to someone who could have used it.  But no, I questioned her motives.  I asked myself if her story was true or was she planning to use the money for drugs or alcohol and even, who knows if that was even her baby.   hahaha yes, I gotta laugh at myself on that last one because that’s just how paranoid and critical I have become.

My commitment to future honesty:  I will carry around several $20’s for instances just like this and I will attempt to calm my over analytical thoughts about people’s stories of need.  I will just open my heart and my purse and GIVE and not worry about what happens with that money once it leaves my hands.  

Lie #3:  “When God clearly speaks to me, I will obey.”  Sometimes we pray and pray for God to reveal things to us and we swear up and down that we will do whatever it is he is asking of us without question because really, who questions GOD?  Sometimes I’m guilty of hearing God’s voice loud and clear and ignoring him because I don’t like what he’s got to say.  A few weeks ago, I prayed that God would show me places that he could use me.  Specifically I was praying for a new church home where he might use me with the youth or on a praise team because those are the areas that have my heart to serve.  But I wasn’t just praying for those things, I was praying that he would show me ways that I could better show his love to the needy and broken people I encountered on a daily basis.  So first the stranded young lady at HEB then yesterday he placed another need before me and I just ignored him!  I went to city hall to get a proof of residency form because I didn’t yet have a utility bill with our new address on it and needed one.  As I was walking in, 3 kids in tow, a man and his son (probably about 10) held the door open for the girls and I.  I took note of how polite the little boy was because in this society it’s so rare to find youth who have been taught manners and chivalry.  They let us go ahead of them in line very politely even.  I got the form I needed quickly and then paused to the side to read a text message while Payton tied her shoe and couldn’t help but overhear the conversation between the man and the city employee.  He was asking for an extension on his water bill because it was about to be turned off.  He said his wife had a new baby and he had been laid off work and he didn’t have enough money to pay the bill at this time.  The employee said she could extend it until the following friday but that was the best she could do.  The man looked defeated but took what he could get.  At that very moment, God told me to pay the man’s water bill anonymously.  I looked him over and decided that I didn’t know enough about this tattoo covered man to do such a thing.  The girls and I slipped out to the parking lot and headed to the gym.  Throughout my workout I couldn’t get this family out of my head.  I remembered the feeling of desperation I had when T was born, just weeks old and Dave was laid off when oil crashed in 2009.  I imagined what his wife must feel like.  I pictured her sitting on the sofa, nursing that baby, crying, and wondering how they would provide for their children with her husband out of work.  I tried to push the image out of my mind and move on about my day but it plagued me and quite obviously is still bothering me.  Why didn’t I do what God told me to do?  Well, I don’t have a good answer other than I questioned the circumstances.  I made myself the jury and the judge and decided I needed to know why the man had lost his job, why he hadn’t yet found another, and why he couldn’t afford to pay that water bill.  I wondered if he had failed a drug test and gotten fired or if he was irresponsible and couldn’t show up on time.  When Dave lost his job, they tried everything in their power to keep him on.  He was one of the last people from that department they laid off in fact and his layoff had nothing to do with his very strong work ethic and everything to do with there just not being enough work at the time to justify paying him.  So why should it have mattered to me what this family’s circumstances were.  The bottom line was, they were in need, and I am so incredibly blessed to be in a place financially that I could have helped meet their need but didn’t.

My commitment to future honesty:  I’m a work in progress and it is human nature to be slightly selfish and apprehensive of giving your finances.  After all, you work hard and should get a say in where that money goes right?  But I will try and remember that it is not my money but God’s money and by his grace, we are so very blessed.  I will listen for his voice and even when it puts me out of my comfort zone I will try my hardest to be obedient.  I’m not saying I will never disobey but I’m going to make a conscious effort to practice obedience when he tells me to do something or give to someone.

Lie #4: “I’m not judging her/him/them at all, it’s not my place to judge.” Ha!  Who exactly do I think I’m kidding?   I’m judging ALL day long.  I’m judging those Facebook posts, that language he/she used, that parent with the ill behaved child at the playground, that mom giving her baby dr. pepper,  the elderly woman waiting tables, the mom who lets her little girl wear booty shorts or heels, the list goes on and on but you get the point.  I’m judging all the darn time and all the while telling myself I’m not a judgmental person!  

My commitment to future honesty:  I’m not saying I will never judge again because I think it is in our nature to judge others when their lifestyle and choices are different than ours.  But, I will say that I will stop telling myself that I’m NOT judging.  I will try and recognize when I am being judgmental and remind myself that different strokes are okay for different folks.  God made us all different and that’s okay.  I’ll try to remember that I don’t like the feeling I get when I know someone is judging me and try my hardest not to make other people feel that way.

I lie to myself all the time and sometimes others too but I can’t lie to God.  He sees my heart and he knows my actions.  What lies have you been telling yourself?

The F word

We’ve all heard the expression fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice, shame on me!  Most of us try and live our life to that standard.  We’ve got this idea that if someone does something to hurt us physically, emotionally, verbally, whatever, we should out of the kindness of our hearts give them the benefit of the doubt and extend some forgiveness but just once.  If the screw up again then too bad for them because we’ve already forgiven them once right?  Hate to burst your bubble kids {and my own} but WRONG!

Let’s get real honest with ourselves for a second.  Have you ever sinned?  Have you ever sinned more than once?  Twice?  More times than you can possibly count?  The answer is YES, YES, YES, and YES!  Often we go with our tails between our legs crying out to the Lord begging for forgiveness but other times, we just take his mercy and forgiveness for granted.  We just expect him to forgive us because we know he does.  We just know he extends grace and mercy repeatedly even when we don’t deserve it.  Why do we know that?  Because the word tells us he does!  But, in classic human nature, we take the word and we twist it to meet our needs.  We pick the parts we find beneficial to us out and use those but sort of paraphrase the rest.  We find the “loopholes” if you will.

Matthew 6:14-15 For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.  But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.

I often joke saying I have a “black thumb”.  Seriously, I could kill a cactus and pretty sure I have.  Horticulturist I am not but last year, I thought I would try my hand at an herb garden.  Nothing makes me happier than cooking with fresh herbs and it never fails I’m out of basil or rosemary in the middle of making a fabulous from scratch pasta sauce.  So, I moseyed on down to my friendly local Home Depot and snagged some potted herbs and a large window planter.  I didn’t do much research on the subject because the little biodegradable pots were just to be planted directly into the soil so I figured it was fool proof.  I planted Rosemary, Basil, Cilantro, and Sweet Mint.  I watered and cared for them for several months and they seemed to be thriving.  They made delicious additions to soups, pastas, chicken, and even mojitos!  Nom…nom…nom… mouth watering just thinking of it!  After several months, I noticed the mint seemed to be thriving a little too well if ya know what I mean!   It’s super easy to grow and maintain so it easily takes over some of the weaker herbs.  After several more months,  it was becoming difficult to get to my cilantro.  The leaves of the mint had become intertwined with the leaves of the cilantro and it just became a lot of work to try and keep the leaves apart.  Eventually the cilantro died.  R.I.P Cilantro-you were my favorite herb child.  When I went to remove the cilantro plant, parts of the mint started to come up as well.  The mint roots were so strong that they intertwined with the roots of the cilantro plant and began to take over and defeat them!  What is the moral of this little gardening tale you probably are asking?  You may even be throwing your hands up yelling at your computer screen “get to the point already you dysfunctional domestic diva!!!”  The point my friends is when we don’t extend forgiveness to others, it plants a seed of bitterness that only grows and thrives inside of us.  It takes root and if we let it, this bitterness will thrive and take over our life and it can sometimes defeat the roots of kindness that dwell in the same place.  We need to remember that we are only human and we will ALWAYS fall short of the humans that we SHOULD be.  Some transgressions are easier to forgive than others but that doesn’t mean those transgressions are unforgivable.

All of that being said, there is a fine line between forgiveness and foolishness and I think we often confuse the two.  The act of forgiveness doesn’t mean we have to be foolish and constantly subject ourselves to hurt.  I’m not saying if your husband is repeatedly hitting you or betraying your trust that you should just say “oh no problem honey, I forgive you again” and stick around for more.  Get yourself OUT of that toxic situation but don’t let the hurt become your crutch.  It could be your spouse, a friend, a co-worker, an ex, a sibling or other family member, a stranger on the streets even!  You say “I forgive you” and truly mean it, then move on with your merry little life!  Here’s the kicker.  People don’t always ask for forgiveness.  They may not think they’ve even done anything wrong at all and it isn’t our job to pass judgement on their sins but it IS our job to forgive them.  We must show them the exact kindness, grace, mercy, and forgiveness that our heavenly father repeatedly extends to us.  If we don’t, that original hurt, that original sin committed against us by someone else can quickly morph into our own sin and become bitterness!  Don’t be bitter kids.  Forgive, move on, and please be kind to one another.  Forgive but please don’t be foolish especially when it comes to the safety and security of yourself or your children!  Forgiving someone doesn’t mean you turn a blind eye and allow hurtful behavior repeatedly.  There are consequences for everyone’s actions whether that be on earth or on judgement day.  The good news is, we aren’t responsible for that big ole judgement burden, just the forgiveness part.

xoxo

Happy to have a glass!

I haven’t written in the last couple of weeks because we’ve been unbelievably busy!  3rd grade home days are whipping us and we don’t have time for much else it seems.  Add soccer and gymnastics into the mix and you’re left with some seriously exhausted kiddos and their mama by the end of the week!  On top of all that, we had 3 birthday parties and a soccer game last weekend and this past weekend we had a small party for P’s 9th birthday, baby dedication, and Baptism at church!

More than all the busyness though, I haven’t written because I’ve been struggling with some negativity.  When I started this blog, I was making a commitment to myself and my readers for it to be a source of encouragement and positive posting. Mama taught me if I didn’t have anything nice to say, not to say anything at all so I battled with my negative inner demons alone.  We’ve been hit hard the last couple of weeks with misfortunes and bad news that it’s been tough to maintain a positive attitude.  First with all the fiascos of the last post and then it seemed that slowly but surely everything else began to go wrong!

We found out my mother in law’s tumor had begun to grow back and we just aren’t sure what all of it means.  Waiting for weeks for test results, hoping to get her into a clinical trial, her not feeling well.  The kids want to see Grandma and it’s tough for her when she’s not feeling well so it’s been a stressful situation for my father in law and everyone else involved.  Then, after Dave’s blowout situation a couple of weeks ago, we had another truck mishap.  Last week he called and said he hit a cow and messed his truck up pretty badly.  Thank God he was okay, that big ole’ grill guard really helped block the impact of the 2,000 lb bovine but caused pretty severe damage to the truck.  We were waiting on the insurance representative to contact us so we could see what the next step would be.  We were pretty confident it was totaled because of the amount of damage that was done but after meeting with the insurance company yesterday, their preliminary estimates don’t point in the direction of totaled.  This is a bit disappointing to us as we are concerned about the condition of the truck after so many extensive repairs.  With as much as he travels, we just can’t risk him being in a vehicle that is in anything less than pristine running condition.  In between all this we got a contract on our home but it fell through when the buyers were offered a promotion that included a relocation, there was a misunderstanding that lead to some family tension, one of my very best friends had to admit her 5 year old daughter to the hospital for pneumonia and I can’t be there with her, and we discovered that our oldest daughter’s severe dyslexia was really giving her some problems in school.

With all of this bad news and tension surrounding our family, I was finding it extremely difficult to be positive!  But this morning, I was sitting around sulking about my bad series of misfortunes and attempting to sort through and purge some of my memos, texts, photos, etc from my phone.  I stumbled upon some church notes I had taken several months ago and decided to revisit the lesson.  Something my pastor said, as silly as it may have sounded at the time, stuck with me that day and made a profound effect on negative lil’ ole me.  He said “are you the type of person who sees the glass as half empty or half full, or are just happy that you have a glass at all?”  Wow!  Certainly on my negative days, I knew I was looking at the glass as half empty when I should be looking at it as half full but here I was patting myself on the back for doing great on my “positive” days because I was viewing the glass as half full.  HALF full!  Let’s analyze that for a second.

Half (as defined by dictionary.com): one of two equal or approximately equal parts of a divisible whole, as an object, or unit of measurer time; a part of a whole equal or almost equal to the remainder.

So when I say my glass is half full, I’m stating that my life is equally good and equally bad.  Let me review.  I’ve got 3 gorgeous children, amazing parents, a handsome hard working husband, 5 beautiful nieces, 1 handsome nephew, more incredible God fearing close friends than I can count on both hands, a roof over my head, a dependable vehicle to drive, clean clothes on my back, hot coffee in my cup, too much food on my plate, clean water to drink, and an amazing, wonderful, incredibly miraculous, all-knowing God to serve and that’s not enough for my cup to be more than “half full”?  I would say all that good in my life far outweighs the bad little bumps in the road.  Bad things happen, they’re inevitable.  Life isn’t always going to be peachy and that’s okay.  I’ll cling to the good and surrender the bad to God because he knows my strength more than I do and when I run out, he gives me His.  So today, I won’t see my glass as half empty, nor will I see it as half full.  Today I’m just going to be happy to have a glass at all!

Proverbs 3:5  “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding”

What is your glass looking like today?  Running a little low?  It’s okay, tomorrow is a new day and there are free refills all around!  Cheers!

Studies reveal that mean kids turn into mean adults over time!

When we were kids, we couldn’t wait to grow up!  We were going to do whatever we want and not have to ask permission.  We would watch whatever we wanted, listen to whatever music we wanted, and eat whatever we wanted and all would be right with the world.  As an awkward teenager  or a dorky elementary school student we thought to ourselves “someday, when I’m a grown up, people won’t be mean and immature.  There won’t be any “popular kids”  or cliques and everyone will just be nice to one another.  Nobody will ever push me around or make me feel bad about myself.  Everything in the world will be rainbows, butterflies, and lollipops”.

Then we grew up, got married, had some kids and realized that growing up wasn’t as much fun as we thought it was going to be.  There are bills to pay, mouths to feed, floors to mop, and lots and lots of stress.   We do NOT get to do whatever we want whenever we want because finding a babysitter is like finding a pearl in an oyster and it’s awfully expensive too!  We don’t get to watch whatever we want either because anything not rated G or PG is just out of the question, and we always have nursery rhymes and Veggie Tales songs stuck in our heads.  Nobody told us we couldn’t eat whatever we wanted once we were adults either because it would go straight to our thighs!  Life my friends is NOT all rainbows, butterflies, and lollipops as an adult.  All of this was disappointing to learn but not nearly as disappointing as learning that adults are STILL mean and immature.  The “popular kids” still exist and although they’ve traded in their backpacks for designer handbags and luxury SUV’s, they still know how to make you feel small.  Yep, sad truth is adults are NOT always nice to one another!  You just have to accept the fact that often grown adults will get jealous, they will talk about you behind your back, they get bossy, and even form cliques that you won’t always be a part of.  They will be unkind, inconsiderate, and just blatantly rude from time to time too.

But not you!  Nope, you’re nothing like these rude, clique forming adults I speak of right?

WRONG!

We need to remember that all of these not so nice qualities live inside each and every one of us.  We’re all guilty of gossiping about one another, we’re all guilty of leaving someone out of our circle of friends, and we’re all incredibly guilty of judging one another like God has appointed us his CEO of the judgment department!   Somedays it’s harder to keep our inner demons at bay than others.  The important thing to remember is that while there is bad in everyone, there is also good.  Just as God forgives us when we are not so nice to him, we should forgive others who are not always so nice to us and should strive to be equally kind to everyone!  Everyone is fighting a battle of their own so treat others the way you would like to be treated.  Don’t make it a point to leave people out or make them feel like less of a person just because you can!  In short, don’t be a bully because there will always be a bigger kid capable of bullying YOU!

These are important things to remember for 3 reasons:

1.  Nobody likes to be bullied or made fun of.  Nobody likes to be made to feel like their thoughts, opinions, feelings, and self worth are less valuable than anyone else’s.

2.  Remember those kids we’re raising?  You know, the ones who we strive so hard to shelter from these mean bully kids?  These kids are looking to us for examples of the kind of adults they should become.  If we are portraying an adult who speaks poorly about other people, who often says things like “no, I’m not going because so and so will be there and I don’t like her”,  or shows no concept of compromise or kind regard for the feelings and well being of others, than we are failing these children miserably!  They will be destined to become rude, snobby, bossy, boastful, unkind adults!

3. Most importantly, God commands us to be kind to one another time and time again throughout the bible!  He commands us to be forgiving and compassionate just as he is with us.

Ephesians 4:32 “Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as Christ God forgave you”

James 2:8 “If you really keep the royal law found in scripture, “Love your neighbor as yourself”,  you are doing right”

The bottom line here folks is we’re all sinners.  Romans 3:23 “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God”.  Nobody is asking you to be perfect and we are all a far cry from the people God is calling us to be but nobody young or old should have to deal with the mean kids on the playground.  If we all made a conscious effort to do what God is asking and just simply be kind and compassionate to one another, I imagine the mean kids on the playground would cease to exist!  Reach out to someone this week and let that beautiful light shine through you!  Sometimes we have to step out of our comfort zones and often including others in our plans is an inconvenience but if we ALL put others before ourselves, we would always have someone out there putting us first.

Lord, today my prayer is that you make me more like you.  Make me more compassionate and tolerant of the “mean kids” who aren’t always the easiest to love.  Help me to lay my own hurt aside to be forgiving to those who have never even asked for forgiveness.  Work through me to show them the joy and peace that only you can give.  I pray Lord that you will penetrate  the hearts of my children so they will always let your kindness shine through to their peers all their lives.  I pray that you will use my actions and my words to be a living example of your love and mercy to my husband, my children, my friends, family, and everyone I come in contact with.  Fill my heart with your peace and love and grant me a spirit of compassion and kindness.  Thank you so very much for loving me and forgiving me even though I don’t deserve it.   Amen <3