Tuesday, December 19, 2017

What do a Crunched Bumper and a Shoe have in common?

I always find it fascinating how God answers prayers in unexpected ways.  Like the times that I ask for more patience for example.  God doesn’t just grant me more patience overnight like I hoped.  He instead gives me lots (and lots and lots) of circumstances in which I have to practice and learn to be patient.

So why would this whole idea of mine of the 10 days of Kindness and praying for circumstances where I can show kindness be any different?  Well, it has been.  Yes, there have been some places I have been able to show kindness to others.  But moreso?  Two people, in particular, have shown so much kindness to me and my family in the last few days. 

One man showed kindness when he witnessed someone hit our car in the parking lot of the grocery store.  He acted quickly and wrote down the license plate number on a note he put on our windshield.  But that wasn’t all.  He waited until we came out to our car and told us about it and left his contact info. 

My son and I often park far away from stores to be able to get some steps in before getting somewhere.  Today was no different, and we were actually going to stop at the library before going somewhere else so we parked part way between them and walked.  As we were crossing this busy little street in the shopping center, my son somehow stepped out right in front of me causing us both to fall. 

At this point I should also mention that I was also carrying 15 library books to return when we crossed that road….

I held on to his hand and head to protect him but my knees took the brunt of the fall.  As, embarrassing as that was already was I tried to pick him up and scurry off as quickly as possible when much to my dismay I realized he’d lost one of his shoes in the middle of the street.  As I turned to check traffic and go back for it, a man yelled “I’ll get it”.  And he did.  He then brought it over and helped put it on my son’s foot and helped us up.  Such sweetness.  Such kindness.  I also should note that a very nice, very lifted truck had stopped to allow us to cross and actually waited very patiently during our whole ordeal and only proceeded once he ensured we were ok.  Such an embarrassing and painful (literally) thing to go through and such kindness was bestowed on us. 

As I reflect on my attitude over much of the last few days, I see a work in progress.  A woman and mama who tries her best, but still loses her temper at times.  Perhaps even, God is using these everyday moments to help show me and build up in me the kindness response.  That man didn’t have to take time out of his day to write a note with the plate number and wait to talk to us.  That other man didn’t have to leave his car door open and run and grab my toddler’s shoe (to save it from certain death from being run over).  I didn’t know either of them.  I wouldn’t have thought either of them were rude for not helping.  But in showing kindness and helping us, they gave us something so much more meaningful.

People are not always nice or kind.  Circumstances often stink.  The question is, what are we going to do with it?  Shouldn’t we all make some lemonade, when life hands us lemons?  Like my dear friend who just finished her 8th round of Chemo?  She has faced her diagnosis and treatment with such grace and kindness.  Like my own Mom who just celebrated 5 years of being cancer free?  She has always been someone I admired but her quiet strength and faithfulness in the midst of life’s storms have been so encouraging.

Things will go well.  Things will go badly.  Where is our hope when the things of this world fade away or go wrong though?  I leave you with some lyrics to one of my (many) favorite hymns.

1 My hope is built on nothing less
than Jesus' blood and righteousness;
I dare not trust the sweetest frame,
but wholly lean on Jesus' name.
On Christ, the solid Rock, I stand;
all other ground is sinking sand.
2 When darkness veils His lovely face,
I rest on His unchanging grace;
in ev'ry high and stormy gale
my anchor holds within the veil.
On Christ, the solid Rock, I stand;
all other ground is sinking sand.
3 His oath, His covenant, His blood
support me in the 'whelming flood;
when all around my soul gives way
He then is all my hope and stay.
On Christ, the solid Rock, I stand;
all other ground is sinking sand.
4 When He shall come with trumpet sound,
O may I then in Him be found,
dressed in His righteousness alone,
faultless to stand before the throne.
On Christ, the solid Rock, I stand;
all other ground is sinking sand.
#Enjoying10daysofkindness is an ongoing kindness project that can be
 found on my facebook page if you've missed it!

Thursday, December 7, 2017

How are you doing? Really?

You know the funny thing about this time of year?  It’s both my favorite and my least favorite time of the year.  I love all the sights and sounds of the season.  The excitement in children’s eyes at all the lights and music.  The true reason for the season = the celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ.  But I don’t like all the stress and heartache that comes with this time of year.  I think about my grand fathers I won't get to visit again this year.  I think about our little babe who isn't here.  I think about my friends who have lost husbands, daughters, sons, parents...

It’s no secret that December ranks highest in cases of depression and suicide of any other month of the year.  Why do we think that is?  Probably has something to do with all the hype of Christmas and time to gather with family and then also realizing those strained or non-existent relationships either because of conflict, divorce, deployment or death.  That’s a lot to deal with any time of year, right?  But then add on all the parties and happy celebrations we see all around us.  I think it just makes it too much for many of us.  (I'm not trying to oversimplify depression or suicide either, there are a lot of things that contribute to December being a hard month for everyone.)

So, I am trying to take a step back and take care of myself and my own mental, physical and spiritual health first.  I think as women, and especially for moms, it’s really easy for us to put ourselves on the back burner.  I mean, who else is going to get all the things done?  Diapers need changing, bathrooms need cleaning, papers need graded, things need to be taught, cookies baked, and the lists go on and on and on.  (Am I right?)  But really, if we don’t take care of ourselves and our needs first, who is going to do it?  Who are we going to help when we have nothing left to give?  How are we going to keep going when we are passed out on the floor from exhaustion? Or worse?

I seem to always come back to this idea of I can’t control other people.  I can only control the way I react to them.  I mean, as much as I would like to control others and keep them from saying hurtful and insensitive things, I can’t.  I can’t even always control myself, so why do I expect to possibly control someone else? 

When I am running on empty because I am over here trying to make sure everything is taken care of and everyone is ‘happy’, I’m not doing anyone, I repeat ANYONE any favors.  Then when someone makes a snide comment I can’t hold it together anymore.  Perhaps if my cup was full I could do something other than just cry and try not to totally fall apart.  But we have to take care of ourselves first.  I know it’s hard to find the time or the energy to do it.  But it’s SOOOO important.  And something I am still learning, which is why I am kind of an expert on the what not to do part of this.

So, let’s do this exercise first.  Repeat after me:

I cannot control other people.  I can only control the way I react to them.

I will take some much needed me time to focus on my overall health before any more of this month goes by.  I will check my mental health, my physical health and my spiritual health and seek help if needed for ANY of those. 

You see, there is no shame in seeking out help.  It's the healthy thing to do.  We cannot do this life alone.  

Here are a few things in each category to get you started.  And you better believe that I am doing this right beside you, because I need to fill my cup (or bucket or whatever analogy you prefer) before any more days go by!

Mental health:  Are there any issues I need to work through or talk through?  Any grief that has not been properly grieved?  Triggers to avoid?  People or conversations?  Safe people to confide in?

Physical health:  Am I eating healthy balanced foods regularly?  Am I doing physical exercise a few times a week?  If you hate running don’t run.  If you love walking, Walk!  Just do something active and try to eat a balanced diet!  I helps more than you may realize. 

Spiritual Health:  Am I seeking answers to life’s questions?  Do I need to pray more?  What things do I need to give to God?  Have I been spending time in the word every day?  Do I have people to connect with in fellowship?  How am I growing in my faith and trusting God?

A gentle answer turns away wrath, 
but a harsh word stirs up anger. 
The tongue of the wise adorns knowledge, 
but the mouth of the fool gushes folly.
Proverbs 15:1-2 

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

So much to be thankful for...

Thanksgiving is in two days.  Have you thought about what you have to be thankful for?  No matter what's going on in your life or how badly things are going, there is always something (and usually lots) to be thankful for.  I like to get in the thankful frame of mind this week leading up to Thanksgiving as I'm sure others do too.

23 things I am thankful for in absolutely no order.

- My two grandmas who are still with us.  I never even dreamed that my child (I’m pretty much the youngest grandchild on each side of our family) would have the opportunity to visit and play with his great-grandmas.  We visited my dad’s mom last week and I watched as my son spun my grandma in an office chair to both of their delight.  A couple months ago my son squealed with delight as he played peek-a-boo with my mom’s mom.  How sweet.  I treasure these moments that I know will not last forever, in more ways than one.

- My parents.  Both of them, and especially my Mom as I reflect on coming up on her 5 year Cancerversary. So thankful for them.

- My extended family who is mostly (rather) nearby. (My sisters & their families, My in-laws, My siblings-in-law and their families, Cousins, Aunts, Uncles, etc…)

- My son.

- My son’s first mom.

- My husband and our marriage.

- My husband’s job.

- My home.

- My Church.

- Friends.

- Humor.

- Dave Ramsey & Financial Peace University.

- Books.

- America.

- Parks.

- Mountains.

- Sunshine.

- Seasons.

- Reliable vehicles.

- Sleep.

- Music.

- Shoes.

- Modern medicine.  

- Jesus Christ, and His great love for us.

- You. <3 p="">

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

What are you going to do about it?

I must admit that I've been in a bit of a funk lately, especially when it comes to writing and updating here.  Writing what was on my heart used to come much more easily.  But with all the events in the news that just seem to keep happening, and happening...it makes me feel...sad. And like I don't know how best to combat all the hate and hurt.

So, I've been doing my best to try to love my husband, and love my son, and be present with my family.

I've been quicker to listen and (hopefully) slower to speak.

I've been spending time with friends and family walking, talking and doing life together.

I am certainly not doing a perfect job. Only one has ever been able to do anything perfectly, and His 
name is Jesus.  But I am doing my best.  I am trying to do my best.  That’s what we all are doing, right?

Most of all, I am teaching my son that although we all sin and there is much wrong in the world, that there is a God who loved us SO much that He didn’t want this world to be it.  He loved us so much that He sent His son to pay for the debt of this whole world’s sins so that we can have a relationship with Him and be with Him for eternity.  As we come up on Christmas, it’s so easy to get caught up in the joy of the season, the glittering lights, presents, family and spirit of giving—not that those are terrible things at all.  Let us just not forget who we are really celebrating and why He matters.  Jesus may have been born some 2000 years ago, but we need Him just as much now as ever.

So yes, the news it sad as always.  There are terrible things happening in our country and our world.  Every.  Single.  Day.  What are you going to do about it?  We could talk about possible solutions until we were blue in the face.  But what really may help?  Is what we are probably already doing.  Go home and love our families.  Love our kids.  Love our neighbors.  Eat dinner with people.  Listen more, talk less.  Pray often.  Seek Jesus.  Oh, and spend less time on social media.  

Friday, October 20, 2017

There's still time to redeem the day!

All week I’ve been reminiscing about this week 10 years ago.  My boyfriend and I were finishing up our Argentine Tango lessons.  That same boyfriend and I also had a trip out to California for me to meet his best friend.  We flew to San Fran and had the best weekend exploring the bay area with his friend.  Little did I know, that I would come back with a little something extra too.  You see, my sweet boyfriend had this rather elaborate plan to propose to me on the beach.  With a kite.  I kept wondering why he seemed so obsessed with flying a kite while we were in CA.  I mean, you can fly a kite anytime, anywhere right?!?  

Well, his plan worked out perfectly with the help of his friend.  Halfway through the weekend he got down on one knee on that beach after the ring had made its way down the kite string to my hand and asked me to marry him.  Of course, I said yes!  Since I had been thinking about it a lot this week, I wanted to make today memorable and sweet for our little fam.  Because if it weren’t for this day 10 years ago, none of us would be here in this place, right?  Well, I guess I did that.  I made it memorable.  Not in the way I had meant to though…

You see, this morning as my husband was about to leave for work, he came back inside asking where his passport was because he needed it for some travel he has coming up next year.  Well….of course I thought I knew where it was.  But he came back in as I was just finishing up my shower.  My lovely, hot, shower that helps start my day off right?!?  I wasn’t exactly in the thinking or remembering where I put all the important things mindset though.  So….instead of calmly telling him where it was, or just getting it for him?  I kind of…just…lost my mind.  Well, not really, but I frantically dried off, tied my towel around myself and ran to the spare room where all the things are supposed to be.  Basically looking like a chicken with its head cut off.  I told him a couple places to look and I tore things apart trying to find it quickly…..fast forward ten minutes and we still have yet to find it.  He found a copy of it and took that with him to work, while I continued the search.  I turned everything over, opened every file, touched every paper we own, before looking in the first place I had told him to look.  And sure enough?  That’s where it was.  Right there, neatly tucked in an envelope. 
I could have been upset that he didn’t see it the first time, but really?  I was just glad that I knew where it was!  I texted him and we both sighed a sigh of relief!
close -up, desk, hat
Isn’t that just how life is sometimes?  We think about, or plan to make something memorable in a good way, and the opposite happens?  Or we overlook things that are right in front of us?  Or we treat the ones we love the most in the worst ways sometimes? 

Thankfully, my husband is quick to forgive and I am learning to be quick to seek forgiveness.  As much as God has forgiven us, how much more should we forgive others after all?  Thankfully, this also isn’t the end of our story. (At least as far as I know, it’s not.)  I can still redeem the rest of the day with my husband and son.  I can still make it memorable in a good way.  There’s still time.  Just like there’s still time to receive Christ if you haven’t already.  There’s still time to ask God for the  forgiveness that He is more than willing to give.  There’s still time to seek the Maker of us all.  There’s still time to love those you love, well.  Even when you make mistakes, or lose your temper, or temporarily lose your mind.  There’s still time, friends.  Ask for forgiveness.  Forgive.  Admit wrongs.  Love well.  You're a good mom, wife, daughter, sister, husband, son, father, etc...despite your downfalls.  

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

What exactly is so tragic about someone taking their own life?

I am pretty sure we can agree that this a tragic story. I didn't know either of them. I don't know what their beliefs were. I imagine Mr. Kennedy felt some survivors guilt, and obviously a lot of pain from losing his girlfriend. (Who wouldn't?!?)

Was that a reason to take his own life though? No.
Was that a reason to cause how many more people grief? No.
Was it apparently all he could think of to end the pain? Maybe.

But that, that is the tragic part of this story. It's not that he died of a broken heart. It's because he caused himself, or forced himself to die of a broken heart. He didn't even give his family, or friends a chance to help him grieve. He didn't give himself a chance to grieve and rebuild his life. Since I don’t know him, I can’t say whether he believed in God, or Heaven, or the saving work of Jesus Christ. But I’m willing to guess, he didn’t.

You see, if we just look at the things of this world, all the sad, horrible things that happen on a daily basis. All the death, destruction, sickness, etc. going on and have no hope except in our own abilities and strength. If we only believe that this life is it. How depressing is that?!? If this is our one shot, and something goes wrong, where can you really go? BUT, what if this isn’t all there is?

What if there is a Creator who designed us in His own image?
What if there is hope?
What if there is heaven?
What if there is a reason to live?
What if there is a way out, or better yet, a way through?

What if all the pain and brokenness is not pointing away from God, but instead pointing us right Him? We live in a sinful, broken world—yes. But, that’s not the end game. This isn’t it friends! This is only the beginning.

For ALL have sinned and fall short of the glory of God and the wages of sin is death. But God loved the world so much He gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life. God demonstrated His own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. (Romans 3:23, 6:23, John 3:16, Romans 5:8)

Bad things still happen, death and sickness still happen but when you have Jesus you have hope to get through. We know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him and are called according to His Purpose. (Romans 8:28) If Mr. Kennedy had this hope I am speaking of, I believe he’d still be around today. And that is why this story is tragic, and why we need to share the gospel of Jesus Christ every chance we get. It’s a life or death issue. Where is your hope?

If you or someone you know is contemplating taking their own life please reach out. Seek Help. Call the Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-8255. Reach out to a local friend or Church. Talk to someone. You matter. Your life matters. Another post from around this time last year.

Monday, August 21, 2017

Today was a historic day.

eclipse, moon, night
Today was a historic day. 
For some it was because of the Eclipse. 
For some it was because their babies started school. 
For some it was because they said “yes” or “I do”. 
For some it was because they’d made it to 1 or 5 or 10 years cancer free. 
And for some it was because they got a positive cancer diagnosis.

It wasn’t too long ago, that my Mom sat me down after a lovely Christmas visit, the day before we were to fly back to our NC home at the time, to break it to me that she had cancer and was having a very serious surgery in the following days.  Fast forward to almost 5 years later and she’s thankfully doing great.  While there is still a shadow looming (like there will always be now), much like that Eclipse many of us witnessed today, she is healthier than ever and the strongest fighter I know! (read more here)

Others don’t have the same outcome though.  Cancer is mysterious.  Cancer is devastating.  Cancer is cancer.  Even in the day and age of wonderful, revolutionary science and modern medicine, they don’t know much about cancer.

Today was the day a dear friend of mine, whom I’ve known for 15 years, got the news that nobody ever wants to receive.  There are still so many unknowns because it is early in the diagnosis and cancer just has so many unknowns.  I can’t imagine the helpless and, even at times, hopeless feelings my friend and her family must be going through right now.  Life already is full of unknowns with jobs, children, family, neighbors, etc.…but to put your health into that just is hard.  I am truly heartbroken for her.  Cancer stinks.  We should lean into God for the strength to fight, for answers and comfort.  But it doesn’t always come that naturally.  Could you please lift up a prayer for her and her sweet family?  And could you also add them to your prayer list?

Let’s hug our loved ones tightly when we see them and let them know we love them.  Let’s lean into the Word of God.  Let’s lean on a friend.  Reach out for help or offer help.  Let’s pray like we’ve never prayed before.  Not just for my friend (which I’m sure she’s appreciate) but also for our families, our country, our world and our walk with God.  Let’s get closer to each other and to God.  

Today reminds me of how short life truly is, and how we never know when we’ll meet our Maker.   

Jesus was 33 when He died.  He was the age that I am now.  That’s all.  In today’s standards that’s a short life, but He completed everything He needed to in that time frame.  Although you could argue that since He was still fully God while He was fully human, he likely knew how long He was going to live and therefore could be highly efficient with His time which He would be anyway because He was perfect.  Since we aren’t at all God, not even a little, shouldn’t we be super efficient with our time since we have NO IDEA when it will be up?  We’ve only got one chance at this life, and none of us are making it out of here alive.  

While I hope and pray my friend's cancer is treatable and as curable as some seem to be, there are no guarantees in this life.  Well, there is one and it is that life will end for each of us.  Then there are two ways to go:  to be united with God forever or to be separated from him for eternity.  I know where she and I both stand, do you?

Monday, August 14, 2017

It's a start

We just got back from a much needed weekend away that was completely unplugged. (Literally because we had no service!) While we had a great time, it was so sad to come home to such tragic news of the events this weekend. While I am still processing how some can have so much hate in their hearts, I am not really surprised.  I hear so many people say things like it’s so much better than it was before civil rights or we’ve come so far….but have we really?

A few weeks ago we were coming home from the mountains and stopped at a visitor center to check out the view.  I was with my husband and son when I went to the counter to ask if they had any Jr. Ranger books.  My son had been sitting in the car for an hour before we got out to stretch and was kind of cranky (like any two-year-old might be at any given moment).  The ranger looks at him, interrupting the conversation she was having with me, to say:  “Are you being a good boy today?  Because if you aren’t we’re going to string you up in that tree.”  My jaw dropped.  I didn’t even have words.  I really wish I would have called out her racism and how inappropriate her comment was.  Not only was it inappropriate for a child (or anyone) but with the history in this country of lynching…and the fact that it still happens her comment was just ridiculous.  I didn’t have words, so I scraped my chin off the floor and booked it out of there. 

I certainly don’t have a fix all for our country or for racism but I keep coming back to a few things:

1.  Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. (Romans 12:9)

2.  Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. (1 John 4:20)

3.  Perfect love drives out fear. (1 John 4:18)

4.  Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that. (Dr. Martin Luther King)

5.  The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy. (Dr. Martin Luther King)

Let’s hold our loved ones a little closer tonight.  Let’s be kind and love well.  Let’s pray.  Let’s lift up more prayers than ever before. <3 font="">

Wednesday, August 2, 2017


So, it had been getting harder and harder to see for the last few months.  It came on gradually and sometimes my vision would seem perfectly fine.  Then other times it’s just like I was looking through some frosted glass.  It seemed to come and go  and was thankfully only affecting my right eye.  I attributed it to allergies for a bit until the beginning of July when I finally decided to make an appointment to see an eye Dr.  I had a couple other things going on in my eyes, so I wanted to see an Ophthalmologist… 

I had my appointment last week, and long story short I’m fine.  I’ve had some sort of eye glass Rx for about 10-15 years…but it’s been so little of a difference from my regular vision I was only told to wear them when I wanted or at night when driving but I’m not restricted on my driver’s license or anything.  So basically…that means I don’t wear them.  Unless maybe I’m doing a lot of computer work and get eye strain…but really, let’s be honest.  Have you ever seen me in glasses?  Probably not!  Ha!  Ironic because I begged my mom for YEARS for glasses and just like she said…when I got them, it turns out I didn’t really want them! 

It had been over three years since I’d been to the eye Dr. and sure enough…all I needed was a stronger Rx for glasses and….get this….to actually wear them.  LOL  Slightly embarrassing reality that my eyesight has just gotten worse….but I’m so thankful my optic nerves and everything else is pretty much perfect! 

Today my glasses got in and I’m a little on the fence about 1.  The way they look/feel on my face and 2. How I like this Rx.  It’s still not a very big Rx but it’s big enough that it’s taking my eyes and brain some time to get used to.  The coolest thing is possibly that I can see SO much better.  I was driving to meet my niece for lunch and I could see not just the trees lining the street (like I always could) but all the leaves on the trees, as well as street signs before I’m right on top of them, etc… 

Isn’t that just how life is?  Things change gradually and we don’t even notice it until it hits some sort of breaking point?  I didn’t even realize that I wasn’t seeing the full picture.  I had gotten comfortable.  So, I  just need glasses to be able to see clearly.  I’m sure you could tell exactly what I needed from the opening sentence, and that’s also how life is sometimes.  We can see solutions to other people’s problems easily but not our own.  Or, we can see the speck in our friends’ eye and not the plank in our own. (Matthew 7:3)

Hint:  that’s me a lot…although also something I’ve been working on a lot this summer!  The removal of my own figurative plank in my eye…Perhaps then I wouldn’t need glasses at all! 

  I'm not fishing for compliments really, but if you have any feedback or tips I would love them!  Since I'm basically a glasses newbie!

Monday, July 31, 2017

An invitation

adult, architecture, candlesticks
This morning was a gorgeous Colorado morning that was slightly warm with lots of sun and shade.  I parked in the usual spot I do to drop off the check.  I got out and then got my son out of the car to walk it up to the door.  As I was about to press the doorbell, I saw the front door open.  There was my sweet landlady (is that a word?), one of her sweet daughters and their little dog greeting us.  I handed her the check and before I could turn around to leave she invited us in and I accepted. 

I feel like you likely know me pretty well if you are reading this, but I am not really one to show up unexpected to places.  I am terrified as being perceived as a burden.  I also would never want to come across as needy, or not busy enough (or too busy or fill in the blank).  But you know what I end up missing out on?  Community.  Friendship.  Relationships.  Or at least conversations because I’m too wrapped up in trying to be put together, or something.

In the day in age of social media and all the instant info on every one of your friends list, it can be so hard to actually like genuinely to connect with someone.  Or, I guess I should say for me it is.  Perhaps you don’t struggle with that.  I don’t think I did so much when I was working outside of the home and regularly had lunch or dinner with friends. 

I have a bit of theory about it though.  I think it may have something to do with the fact that social media gives us this false sense of intimacy.  When we see all the pictures of our friends’ daily lives and big events happening it makes us feel closer than we really are.  Sure, it helps ‘keep up’ but does it really?  I mean, I know what you ate for dinner last night but do I know how you’re actually doing?

It just isn’t the way that we are really wired.  We are relational people.  We need actual SOCIAL interaction.  Not just social MEDIA interaction.  I think that’s partially why the rates of anxiety and depression are at (I believe) an all-time high in the US right now.

The more we know about everyone the less wonderful our lives seem.  Or the more we know about…the more we compare.  The more we want to share, and maybe shouldn’t.  We find out when people start dating, or break up immediately.  Do you even remember the times when you had to wait for your BFF to call you to tell you (and no, I don’t mean text, I mean call) that she had broken up with her boyfriend.  Or maybe she just showed up on your doorstep to talk it through?  I do.  That’s how it was when I was dating. (Thankfully!)  I’ve said it more than once, that I am SO glad that social media and all he drama that comes with it wasn’t around when was growing up.  It’s not only changing the way we interact with the world, but the way we think about it.

I am so thankful for a sweet friend who invited me into her house and life, and that I said yes.  (Her sweet kiddos played with little man and he had a blast, of course, too!)  

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

9 years ago today...

Jesse and I had our first date on July 25, 2007.  He asked me to marry him on October 20, 2007.  We said “I do” on this day 9 years ago.  We were in love.  We were excited to being our life together. I'm not entirely sure we knew what we were getting ourselves into.  I mean, I know that we both understood that marriage was a lifetime commitment and all, but what exactly marriage is, I don't think we even could grasp that at all.

The last 9 years have brought us: 
9 jobs between the two of us
7 years to build our marriage before we became parents
6 more nieces (& 1 more nephew!)
5 apartments to call home
5 years in North Carolina
4 years in Colorado
3 Church families
3 people to mourn the loss of, my grandfathers and our miscarriage.
2 cross country moves (one as a couple & one with a 5 m.o. baby!)
1 sweet growing boy
lots of joy
lots of sadness
lots of choices
lots of adventures
lot of asking or offering forgiveness.
more love than I thought was possible.

There have been more ups and downs that I ever would have imagine, like most of life.  But I wouldn't trade a single day of it, because it’s made us who we are. Together.  Plus, all those downs make the ups so much sweeter.  I couldn’t have dreamed up a better match, partner, mate or father for our child.  God has bestowed many blessings (and a ton of grace) on me throughout my life, but one of the greatest has been you, my sweet husband Jesse.  I love you!  Happy Anniversary! 

"A happy marriage is the union of two good forgivers." -Ruth Bell Graham

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

It's not you, it's me. (Why I think I have a hard time opening up)

Does anyone else struggle with being open with others?  I’m not just talking about being open and transparent with friends or acquaintances…but with people who are close to you, like close friends and family, your “people”?  Well, maybe I’m the only one who struggles with this.

I think part of it goes back to high school, when I had a boyfriend who, I thought, I was pretty crazy about.  I also a had a really good friend.  I’d go so far to call her my BFF, except for the little fact that my boyfriend cheated on me with her, at Prom.  I think that’s when I realized that I couldn’t really trust people.  Or, at least that I couldn’t trust people without the risk of getting hurt.  Perhaps I should have realized that sooner, but I was naive until then.  So, I just kind of stopped trusting people.  Stopped being vulnerable.  Stopped being close with people.  (Except for my mama, who I’ve always been close with!)

I wish I could say that kept me from ever being hurt again….but it didn’t.

Fast forward to going away to and loving college, but being ready to move on by the end it and moving back home for a job.  Then finding the love of my life, getting married and moving back to my college town where he was finishing up grad school.  Then we moved across the country for his post-doc and five years later we moved back across the country to, ironically, the same town we went to college in.  We love this town.  But, coming and leaving, and coming back and leaving and coming back again…makes for an….interesting dynamic to say the least. 

I’m not sure if all that story is entirely what accounts for my inability to open up to others, but I’m sure it is part of it.  I guess the other usual suspects of insecurity, shame, guilt, etc.… are also factors.  I was made very aware of the fact that it can be hurtful for me to not be open even with my closest people a few months ago.  I guess I had kind of lived in denial of my tendencies until then.  

Maybe it’s all because there is SO much going on inside my head that I’m afraid that people won’t understand me.  So, I’d rather just sit back, and be “normal” and very guarded.

Maybe it’s because I just have a super tough time trusting people.

Maybe it’s because this life can be really lonely.  It’s easy to feel like you’re the only one who has been “there”, no matter where “there” was.

Maybe it’s because I have a challenging time believing that I’m not a burden.

Maybe it’s because I don’t like parts of my past, the hurts, the disappointments, etc. and I’d rather not rehash them?  (At least until I'm ready?)  Whether they happened 20 years ago, 11 years ago or last month.

Maybe it’s because I am insecure.

Maybe it’s just the way I am?

It’s a coping mechanism.  I know.  I am aware of it.  I am working on it.  And I am more proud of who I have become DESPITE things I’ve been through and who I am in Christ.  So, I guess sometimes, I just feel like the past is better left in the past.  I hope that helps you to understand a bit more about me, or people like me. 

It’s really not you, it’s me. 

(And, if you were wondering, yes, I still find it easier to open up online than to a person face to face.  I can’t really explain it.)

Monday, May 22, 2017

Four ways we are striving to be more intentional with money

As you probably already know, and might be sick of hearing, we took Financial Peace University recently and it completely changed the way we think about and handle money!  I feel like we kind of went from "where did all our money go?" to "this is where our money is going!" every month.  Which may not sound like much to you.  But for us, it has been HUGE!  I want to be intentional in every area of our lives, so money is a great place to be intentional too.

1.     Emergency Fund

In Financial Peace University Dave Ramsey has these 7 baby steps.  The first is a little $1000 emergency fund.  I call it little not because I don't think that $1000 is a lot, because I do, but because a "full" emergency fund is 3-6 months of expenses that is Step 3 though.  Anyway, step 2 is to pay off all debt except your house if you have one.  Then you move on to the full emergency fund, and house down payment in 3 a & b.  Like that saying “It's not a matter of if but when” for a disaster, emergency or other big expense to come up.  The Emergency Fund is intended as an insurance policy NOT a savings account.

2.      Paying off debt. (and other baby steps) 

I guess I always kind of thought we'd have our student loans or some sort of debt payments, so we were saving up aggressively for a down payment for a house up until January.  Then we started this class and it changed the way we think.  We decided to use most of what we'd saved up for a house to pay off all our student loans and some of the car loan we still had.  We are poised to pay off the rest of our car (that we bought two years old in January 2016) at the beginning of June.  From there, we’ll finish off our full emergency fund (Baby Step 3a) and begin saving aggressively for our Down Payment for a house (Baby Step 3b) that we hope to purchase in the spring/summer of 2018. 

3.     Budget-telling your money where to go.

I really kind of hate to admit this, but Jesse and I never really lived on a budget until February, like as in a few months ago.  I mean, we'd plan out what we wanted to spend on groceries, etc... but when some categories got overspent we'd just sort of give up and just check our bank balance.  If there was money we'd go to the store.  If there wasn't, we wouldn’t.  Or if we really needed some food or gas or something, we’d put it on the credit card and pay that off as soon as we got paid again.  We were very much living paycheck to paycheck.  (Not that we aren't now...but I'll get to that in a minute.)

We have been using EveryDollar for our budgets, like I’ve mentioned before.  We’ve been keeping a zero-based budget, for the last four months and that’s where every dollar and cent is accounted for.  I love the way that EveryDollar has it set up with categories like this:  Income, Giving, Saving, Housing, Transportation, Food, Health and ‘Lifestyle’ which is basically everything else (clothes, haircuts, misc.…).  It makes it so easy to budget for things and to rearrange when life happens.

4.     Sinking funds.

We have been using a ‘sinking fund’ as Dave calls it for years for regular bigger expenses like car insurance.  Now we even have a place in our budget for a vacation sinking fund for any trips we’d like to take and Christmas gift sinking fund.  A Sinking fund is where you take the amount you need for something, like say your car insurance is $600 every 6 months (or $1200 a year).  You divide that total by how many months you have to save for it, which would be $100 a month, and then you put that in a special savings account and use it for just that.  When the bill comes around you already have the $600 ready for the bill!  Makes those bills so much less stressful. 

Now, I do have to admit that there was one place we strayed from Dave's plan a little.  We did cut up our credit cards (they didn't have any balances on them anyway) one of the first weeks of the class but when we took our nest egg to pay off debts we saved some of it for a bit bigger of an initial emergency fund so that we felt comfortable not relying on using a credit card even just to carry us from month to month.  Dave would likely disagree with what we did here.  We did it because that way we knew we'd have peace of mind and be able to not fall back into the trap of credit cards.  We also knew we'd be able to pay off all our debts in about four months still.  So for us, that just worked. 

Have you taken FPU?  If you are interested in taking the class here is a link to where it is offered near you!  What has been most helpful to you in changing the way you think about and handle money?  What would you add to this?

***I’m not getting paid to recommend any of this stuff!  (Because no one knows who I am!)  It has just completely changed the way we think about and handle money, so I wanted to share some of this with you!***

Friday, May 19, 2017

Where do you find your identity?

Whenever we try to find our identity or worth in something other than where it truly is we come up short.   It doesn’t matter what you do.  If you’re working mom, a stay at home mom, a career professional, a pro athlete, a student, an avid reader or playwright.  When you look to things that are temporary for your worth and identity it will always come up short.  There will always be someone who is smarter, faster, more talented, more successful or better than you.  And that doesn’t actually matter.  There will also be scores of people who are worse than you, which also doesn’t matter.

Do you know what does matter?  Eternity.  Eternity matters.

Do you know whose opinion matters?  Hint:  it’s not your teachers, bosses, friends, coaches or even your parents.  It’s God.    

You know the best part though?  Is that God already loves you.  There isn’t anything you could do to take that away.  There isn’t anything you could do to earn it. 

Before I have some angry mamas or papas writing me.  Of course, their opinion matters, to some extent.  At the end of the day, at the end of our lives (whenever that comes) there is only one who holds it all—and it is His opinion that matters and inevitably what you decide to do with it that will determine your eternity.

There are two options: 
1.       Believe His opinion of you, cherish it and put your faith in Jesus’ life, death and resurrection which was the ultimate way for God to show His love for us. 
2.       Reject it.

When we choose option 1, we accept God’s opinion as the only one we strive for and listen to.  We’re daughters and sons of the King!  We’re beautiful, cared for, loved and full of hope for the future.  We know that we'll spend our eternity with Him.  Option 2 is a lot more grim, relying on this world to satisfy which it never could even come close to doing and being separated from God forever.

  • When we look to this world to make us feel loved, we may feel that way for a while but it is always fleeting.  People will disappoint. 
  • When we look to this world for encouragement, it all fades too.
  • When we look to this world for enjoyment, there is only the temporary game, book, movie or relationship…
  • When we look to this world for our value, we realize we are easily dispensable.
  • When we look to this world for acceptance, that too is only temporary, with strings attached.
  • When we look to this world for answers, we come up with far more questions.
There are things we can definitely enjoy while spending our time on this earth-definitely.  I’m talking about where we find our identity, our worth and our true sense of joy.  It’s when we look on the face of God through His word that things start to come together.  We realize:

  • We have purpose. (Eph. 2:10, Hebrews 11)
  • We have strength. (Phil. 4:13, Eph. 3:14-19)
  • We are seen and known. (Psalm 139, Luke 12:6-7)
  • We are loved. (John 3:16, Eph. 3:17-19)
  • We have hope and a future. (Jer.29:11, Rom. 8:28)
  • We are not alone. (Josh. 1:8-9, Rom. 8:31-38)
  • We have identity in Christ. (Gal. 2:20, John 1:12)

I’m a woman, a daughter, a sister, a wife and a mom – yes.  But I’m first and foremost a child of God.  A Christian.  I’m a sinner saved by grace, who has been forgiven and blessed more than I could ever imagine by the Creator the Universe.  When I look to this world or what I do to fulfill me, it will always disappoint.  When I look to God and who He says I am, there I find my identity.  My joy.  My hope.  My life.

Whether or not you get that promotion.  Whether or not you make the sales quota.  Whether or not you get into the school you wanted to.  Whether or not you make it Pro.  Whether or not you get married or have kids.  Whether or not you _____________.  You are loved.  You are known.  You matter.  Life will always have ups and downs friends, but when we find our identity in Christ rather than this world, it makes it all a lot more bearable!