Thursday, May 31, 2012

Reflections - Humility

"Humble yourself before the Lord and He will lift you up." (James 4:10)

There could not have been a more perfect verse for me this week.  Or this past month really.  When I saw that this was the chosen topic for this week's Reflections post, I knew that I needed this verse this week.  James is probably my favorite book of the Bible and I've read it several times, but I think I've just skimmed over these particular words in the past.  Thankfully because of this post, I had to sit and chew on it for awhile this week.

This verse comes at an appropriate time because we are approaching the one year anniversary of our move here.  We did not have a Lexington address until August, but in June of 2011 we packed our car with suitcases and moved in with my sister and her family for awhile.  It was official- we were embarking on our church planting adventure.  And over the course of this past year we have done just that... planted. The phrase "church planting" makes it sound so simple.  I mean, how hard is it to plant something?  I guess that all depends on how successful and healthy you want it to be.

Take the parable of the sower for example, found in Matthew chapter 13.  In this story, a farmer plants seeds and the ones that fall on the dirt path get eaten by birds.  The ones that fall on rocky ground grow up quickly but dry out because their roots cannot find the soil.  Any seeds that are planted too close to the weeds are eventually choked out.  But thankfully some of the seeds fall on fertile soil and these are the plants that thrive and can be harvested.

In order for our church plant to thrive, we knew that we would have to have good soil.  In the church planting world that means the right people, the right vision, the right drive, and a whole heck of a lot of work!  It takes huge sacrifices, both on your time and resources, and we poured our hearts and souls into seeing this happen.  And then launch day rolled around and we had 280 people show up!  Amazing!  But guess what?  Our work wasn't done!  Our plant was now just a tiny seedling and it still needed lots of love.  It still needs love everyday, and more sacrifice, and more time and effort.  If we are truly the church, then our work is not just limited to Sundays but to everyday!  We can't stop!  There are too many birds out there waiting to eat those seeds, too many weeds waiting to choke out the new life, and too much rocky ground trying to uproot us.  It takes work every. single. day. to keep this plant healthy and thriving, and that work comes in so many forms.  As a church planting family we wear every hat... my husband is the pastor, the CEO, the accountant, the janitor, the maintenance director, the vision caster, and tries to keep this in balance with being a husband and a father first.  He's done everything from install air conditioning to setting up bank accounts, to running payroll, to designing a website, to making multimedia videos, to auditioning a worship team, to paying bills, to leading meetings, and still spends about 30 hours a week working on his message for the next Sunday.  Meanwhile I am mostly at home working a full-time job, taking care of our two little ones, running the kids' ministry, starting a community moms' group, keeping our house clean, trying to put dinner on the table, and still trying to be a loving wife first.  I'm not going to lie... it's exhausting.  Worth it?  Absolutely.  But exhausting nonetheless.

So what's this got to do with humility?  A LOT.  We live in an "I can do it all myself" society.  Asking for help is a sign of weakness in many people's opinions.  But you know what?  That idea is not from God!  Nope!  It's right there in black and white: HUMBLE yourself before the Lord and HE will lift you up.  It doesn't say juggle a million balls in the air and you'll somehow reach superstar status.  Nowhere in the Bible does it say that you have to do it all alone!  Right there in print it blatantly tells us that we cannot do it alone.  Nor should we.  And over these past few months I have tried.  I am juggling more balls than I can handle, and I felt that if I admitted that to myself or to anyone else, that would mean that I was failing.  But the truth is, by asking for help I am being more responsible and taking better care of these balls that I am juggling!  Surrounding myself with people who can help gives me more hands to keep them from falling... what a wonderful concept!  I am thankful that I could read this and be reminded that God created me to be many things and to be capable of doing many things, but that He did not create me to do it all.  As a woman, I am constantly comparing myself to others.  Through Facebook, blogs, Pinterest, and other mediums we are bombarded with examples of other women who "have and do it all."  The sad part is that we forget that it's all a facade and behind every one of them is a woman who feels like she's teetering on the edge of disappointing someone or letting someone down.  If we all just slowed down for a moment and asked for help- from God and from each other- just imagine how much less pressure we would have on ourselves!

So this is me officially saying that enough is enough... I have taken on a little more than I can handle and I am in the process of getting help.  If that makes me a failure in someone's eyes then so be it... because I've already been promised that HE will lift me up.  I am perfect in His eyes and those are the only ones that matter.

I hope that this is a verse that you will commit to memory for those times that you feel like your world is spinning out of control.  As my husband would say, "don't forget the Lord of the work when you're doing the work of the Lord."  In other words, do things for a purpose and drop the things that are just weighing you down.  And ask for help if you're overwhelmed, okay?  I promise it will be okay.

If you shared your view on this topic, please link up with us.  You can also check out the fabulous Brittany's thoughts over on her blog "Daughter... Wife... Mom... Sis" (found here).

To piggy-back on this week's topic for next week, we're going to talk about prayer.  I think humility and prayer go hand-in-hand since it's through prayer that we often ask for help.  I really don't have a specific verse or reading for the topic but instead I want you to spend this week reflecting on your prayer life.  How is it?  Do you even have one?  Do you pray only when you need something or do you rejoice and sing praises to the Lord in the good times, too?  What helps you remember to pray?  Do you do it daily or just when you think about it?  My hope is that through this process we can really evaluate and explore where we are at when it comes to prayer.  And if we find that we need to learn more about it to really get to where we want to be, at least we'll have a starting point.  And if you have any references that you can recommend on the topic, please feel free to share them in your post.  Can't wait to hear how God speaks to you this week!

As always, thanks for sharing and for allowing me to share.  I hope this verse blessed you as much as it has blessed me.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Mama's Month - Why I Love Being a Mom

Sorry for disappearing for a few days.  I wanted to do a few posts, I really did, but I was a wee bit busy spending tons of time outside... taking walks:

And lounging at the pool...

And hanging out with family at Grampa and Gramma's new house:

And even enjoying a much-needed girls' night out at a local winery...

See?  Busy... in the best kind of way!  My Memorial Day weekend this year was one of the best ever and really was like a stay-cation.  I've always loved every season, but especially now that I have kids, I think I am becoming a summer person.  Helllllooooo, summer... I'm so glad you're here!

Over these past few days, I've done a lot of thinking about what part of motherhood I would want to do this last Mama's Month post on.  If you're a mom yourself, you know that it's impossible to narrow down what you like best about motherhood!  It's the hardest, best, most rewarding, most frustrating, most amazing thing I have ever experienced in my life, so where to start?  So while today won't be the only favorite thing I have to share about being a mom, it's one tiny part of it.

So far, at every single age, I have said that I would freeze time if I could.  I cannot tell you how many times I have said, "This is my favorite age."  Yes, it's true... every single phase has it's challenges, but seeing my son or daughter figure something out or learn something new just blows my mind.  Jake is just a chatterbox these days, stringing together sentences and saying words that I didn't know he knew every single day.  And Lil, still as sweet as can be, is imitating sounds we make, army-crawling at lightning speed, and pulling herself up into a standing position (make it stop!!!).  I am constantly wowed by their little accomplishments... so I can only imagine how much pride I will feel as they get older and accomplish bigger things (by most people's standards anyway).  It's this constant amazement that I love most about motherhood... the daily surprises, and continuous awe, and inexplicable amount of pride, joy, and love that overflows because of this gift.  The Bible promises us that God can do anything and that He is amazing, but motherhood to me is the tangible proof of this promise:

20 Now glory be to God! By his mighty power at work within us, he is able to accomplish infinitely more than we would ever dare to ask or hope.  (Ephesians 3:20)

Because I'm a mom, not only do I know that I can love more than I ever thought possible, I also know that I can do anything and that no challenge is too big or too small.  My oldest child is only a little over two, but already I know that I can change a diaper and field a sales call at the same time.  I can switch from tending to Lilly in a gentle, caring way, to sternly disciplining Jake for climbing on the countertop.  I can build a train track village like a champ, throw a ball better than I ever could (which isn't saying much), and suddenly have cat-like reflexes when one of them trips on something.  I can carry a load of laundry, a child, a laptop, and a coffee cup up and down the stairs... all at the same time.  I can sing nursery rhymes I thought had been long forgotten, use voices when reading stories that I never knew I had, and go from a deep sleep to amazing alertness if one of them needs me in the middle of the night.  I have superhero hearing now and intuition that astounds me.  Yes, my kiddos amaze me daily, but now that I'm a mom, I am in awe about what God can do through me.  Parenthood takes a lot of prayer, but when I pray for strength, He gives it to me.  When I pray for patience, He usually gives Jake a double dose of temper tantrums that week or Lil a rough week of sleep so that I have no choice but to find extra patience. When I pray for peace, I have more moments cuddling sweet Lil as she falls asleep that week.  Through the gift of motherhood, I know more than I ever have, that He delivers.  These feats may be small in some people's eyes, but in mine, they are bigger than I could ever imagine.  And if becoming a mom makes me capable of doing all of this, there is no end to what I might be able to do.

13 I can do everything through him who gives me strength. (Philipians 4:13)

There has never been a truer statement, but I didn't know it until I was a mom.  

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Reflections - Never Once

Last week the challenge was to meditate on the lyrics of the song "Never Once" by Matt Redman and post about how they spoke to you.  I had never actually even heard this song, so I was pretty excited to delve into the unknown a bit.  And although all of the words are beautiful, the title (which is repeated over and over again throughout the entire song) is what continually jumped out at me.

Never Once... think about that phrase.  To me, it's pretty finite, and here it apples to the frequency that God has not been there for you.  Never Once.  When it comes to relationships in our lives, how many times have you let someone down?  How many times have you told someone you'd be there and then something came up and it all fell through?  There is not a single person on the planet who can answer "never once" to those questions.

But God can.

What really moves me is the thought that God has always been there for me, even through the times when I did not deserve His love.  I grew up in a Christian household, but in order to call yourself a follower of anything, you have to actually obey and follow the ways of whomever you're choosing to follow.  Makes sense, right?  Well, let's just say that even though I grew up in a Christian household, at some point I just chose to make my own decisions, carve my own path, and go my own way.  And because we're all born with some sense of right and wrong coupled with the teachings of the Bible from my upbringing, I always  had an inward struggle through these years.  It was as if I was butting heads with God, but didn't want to admit it.  I would try to pray to Him, but actually felt too guilty to do so.  And I would only go to Him when things were at the worst and I would be at my lowest low.  I failed to praise Him for the good, which is something I try to do daily now, and instead only ran to Him in the bad... and felt extremely guilty for treating Him that way.  Any other relationship in the world would not last through that kind of one-sidedness.  But God?  Well, I know now that He just patiently waited on me.  How many times did He leave me?  Never Once.  Sure, sometimes I couldn't feel His presence, and sometimes I felt like He had abandoned me, but looking back, it was probably due to the fact that I did not spend a whole heck of a lot of time seeking Him.  God wants to speak to us, but in order to have a conversation you need to seek His words and His wisdom.  And where do we find this?  In His book of course.  You might not read the right passage or find comfort in the words of your daily reading right away, but if you continue to seek Him through your struggles, you will stumble upon the answer eventually.  That's the beauty of His promise.

I don't know where you are right now in your walk.  Maybe you've been a Christian for as long as you can remember or maybe you are how I was and have a foundation, but no relationship and are living by your own rules.  Maybe you are "all in" or maybe you're just testing the waters and trying to figure out this thing that is so much bigger than ourselves.  But rest in the peace and comfort today that God is there no matter where you're at.  God is with you whether you like it or not in fact!  Seek Him and you will always find Him... and eventually you will see that God will never once let you down and that life is truly easier and more abundantly blessed when we do it His way.  Now that's a relationship that's worth having!

“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.
(Matthew 7:7-8)

As always, you can check out what Brittany wrote over on her blog (found here).  We also have a friend who has chosen to join us weekly and she's posting over at her blog "Welcome To Deckerville" (found here).  She has a huge heart for God and is going through some pretty tough stuff in regards to their new baby, which she has chosen to share in order to better help and minister to others.  And if you posted on this topic, please link up below or leave a comment.

It was Brittany's turn to pick so here is what we'll be reflecting on this week:

As for next week, I would like to pick a scripture in James 4 and it is just one verse - verse 10

"Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up

This is a "life verse" for me and I feel like re-visiting and meditating on it this week!  Sorry for being selfish, but I believe there is POWER and FREEDOM in this verse!  Join us in memorizing this scripture and responding to how it spoke to you this week!  

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Mama's Month - Maternity Leave Survival

One of the perks of having a baby is the glorious three months of time off.  Oh yes, time to spend relaxing with your new little one, catching up on reading, tackling projects around the house, and becoming supermom to your new tenant.  


If you've been there before, then you know as well as I do that it can quickly turn into endless days in your sweats, sleep deprivation, and cabin fever.  You can't remember the last time you brushed your hair or teeth (much less took a shower... what's that?) and there doesn't seem to be an end to the emotional roller coaster ride you're on.  Family and friends are dropping by (or staying with you) and even though you love the company, you're hoping they don't notice the messy house or the fact that you may or may not have poop on your shirt.  Plus, you kind of wish they'd just leave so you can attempt to take a nap.

Well guess what, friends?  You're not alone!  While I don't have a perfect plan that works for everyone, here is the advice that I wish I would have received before the little bambino arrived:

#1 - Throw the rule book out the window

Demand feeding vs. scheduled feeding.  Am I holding my baby too much?  Swaddling vs. not swaddling.  Breastfeeding vs. Bottle feeding.  Is it okay that my baby sleeps better on his belly?  

EVERY baby is different.  If you spend all of your time frantically worrying about whether or not you're doing it "right," you're going to be one stressed out mess!  While it's great to talk to other mommy friends, keep in mind that there is no perfect formula.  If breastfeeding is making you miserable, try a bottle and see if that helps!  Sure there are great nutrients in breast milk, but formula is rich with vitamins and nutrients, too!  If you make your decisions based on YOUR instincts and YOUR baby's preferences (which you will figure out before anyone else) then you're going to enjoy those first few months a lot more.

#2 - Accept Help

I was terrible at this!  I had family staying with us to help take care of Jake, the house, etc., but I insisted on doing everything myself.  My theory was that I would have to do it all eventually, so I might as well get used to it.  Yes, you are going to have to do it all eventually, so give yourself a break while you can! If you have family staying with you, don't be afraid to delegate a little either.  Your mother-in-law probably won't mind throwing in a load of laundry if you need her to.  And trust me, the baby will be in great hands while you take yourself a little nap.

#3 - If you're about to snap, you need a nap!

Okay, I didn't even mean to rhyme!  Sleep deprivation is a horrible thing... that's why it's used as a war tactic to torture prisoners.  If you start noticing that you're getting snippy or even angry at those around you (and your child in particular for not giving you any "me-time"), a little snooze will probably do you some good.  If I ended up in tears, it was usually a red flag that I needed an hour or two away from my bundle of joy... and that's perfectly okay and you're a better mom for it!

#4 - Accept the emotional roller coaster 

 There is nothing that will prepare you for the waves of emotion that will sweep over you after childbirth. and the weeks that follow.  In fact, as soon as I stepped foot into our house with Jake and he was handed off to one of the waiting grandparents I went up to my room and sobbed.  Like ugly-crying sobbed.  It was awful.  And my reason?  I didn't want to "share" him with anyone, which is silly I know.  I also had this crazy resentment toward Josh's dad for those first few weeks because I felt like he was "hogging the baby" which he was by no means doing!  I've actually apologized to him for my crazy behavior and now I could not imagine my life without him being nearby!  Everyday I would literally cry tears of joy as I would rock and sing Jake to sleep and then I'd be crying tears of frustration five minutes later.  It's normal... and it's okay.  I do think it's important though to talk to someone about what you're going through.  I know of two good friends now that went through postpartum depression, but never knew it until much later.  If you're angry at your child for being born, or if you feel like you don't like him or her at all, these are signs and there are probably people right under your nose who can help you through it.  Don't bottle it in for the fear that someone might think you're crazy.

#5 - Take a break before finding "normal"

I think the first couple of weeks are the most special weeks of a new parent's life.  Even though you're never dressed or don't have any make-up on, you just get to cuddle and love on your newborn.  You will never get that time back, so allow yourself to have it.  After a week or two, however, face the real world again.  Getting "out there" with or without your child is so important and will do wonders for your sanity. And if you need gas or a gallon of milk, volunteer to go without your child just to get out of the house by yourself for a few.  It will clear your head and make you realize how much you love your child based on how much you miss your child!

#6 - Make "To-Do" lists

Once you're past the two week mark, make short-term and long-term "To-Do" lists.  Not having any sort of schedule at all will result in lots of time watching HGTV (trust me, I know!).  I would record TV shows and allow myself only to watch them while nursing, even if it meant that I could not get through a full program before I was finished... that was just my rule to avoid becoming a couch potato.  Sometimes my daily to-do list would only have one or two things on it, like "go for a walk" or "visit Josh at work" but it made me become intentional about getting up, getting dressed, and getting out of the house.  It also made sure that my house did not turn into a pig-stye!  As for long-term projects, pick one or two things that you've been putting off and take baby steps toward accomplishing the task.  You'll find that projects will progress much more slowly now, so you might as well get used to it!

#7 - Give your body a break

Do you realize that you just had a baby?  Do you understand how amazing your body is???  One of the best things that ever happened to my confidence was childbirth.  I realize that I may never look like I did at 20, but I love the way I look now more than I ever did.  And I care about what goes into my body and how I take care of it more than I ever did.  Even though I'm a bit squishier, I care about my body so much more than I used to.  So wait at least three weeks before looking in a mirror and give yourself some time to just let it be.  And while you try to get the baby weight off, cut yourself some slack and appreciate the fact that God gave you such beautiful gift.

#8 - Know that it will get easier

I can still remember riding in the car with Josh on the way home from church.  Jake was about 12 weeks old and all of the sudden I looked up and felt my head clear.  I looked at Josh and told him that I felt like I as coming out of a cloud... like I had been living in a weird fog and I could finally see again.  I don't think this happens quite so literally for everyone, but understand that you will be so scatterbrained, confused, doubtful, and overwhelmed for a little while, and it's okay.  Eventually your baby will get over his or her colic.  Eventually your baby will sleep through the night.  Eventually you will understand what his or her cry means.  Keep in mind that this won't last forever.

#9 - Show that baby off!

It will happen.  You will walk into a room and suddenly disappear.  For nine months it was all about you, but now it's going to be "Oh hi, baby!" before they even see you.  Instead of letting that bother you, soak it up!  This is something YOU created... how amazing is that?  Great job, mama!

#10 - Believe it when they say that they grow up too fast

I hated this expression before I had kids.  I was always like "yeah, yeah... whatever."  And now Jake is two!  There is a reason people say this... it's so true!  So instead of always wishing for the next thing (I can't wait until he can hold his own bottle, I can't wait until she sleeps through the night, my life will be easier one he can talk, etc.) live IN every phase that you're at.  One day you'll blink and that baby will be a toddler, then a big kid, then a teenager, then off on his or her own.  

I don't think I set out to write ten of these and I probably could write ten more, but again, I wish I had someone who told me this stuff before Jake was born.  If you have advice on how to get the most out of your maternity leave time, I'd love for you to link up with me and share!

Friday, May 18, 2012

Biggest Loser and A Heavy Dose of Sarcasm...

I'm not even going to lie... I should not even be allowed to call myself a competitor in this Biggest Loser contest!  I'm not sure why it has been so difficult, but this time around I have not really taken the steps to eat better or work out more.  In fact, I think I've gotten worse!  I could list a million excuses (sick kiddos, Mother's Day, our MomSource event, etc.) which have kept us incredibly busy and offered opportunities to gorge myself on sweets, but it really comes down to a lack of commitment.  I set a goal weight to hit before our beach trip this July and now realize that with five pounds (and some major toning) to go, I'm never going to get there if I don't focus and start today.  So after I get rid of this last piece of cake that has been lingering at our house (because obviously it would be wasteful to just throw it away!) I'm back to reaching for a piece of fruit instead of chocolate and getting my rear end back to the gym (or at least out the front door for a little jog).  Somehow the scale numbers continue to drop little by little (probably due to stress more than anything else!), but I know it's going to catch up to me if I don't make some changes.  So, hopefully I won't be as embarrassed to report my progress next week.  If you see me eating a cookie this week, please slap it out of my hand and then show me a picture of Heidi Klum on the runway four weeks after giving birth to her fourth child.  And I'm suuuuuurrrrrrrrre that there was no tummy tuck involved.

As for this weekend, I should be able to squeeze in a workout because we finally have next-to-nothing on the agenda!  The movers were at my parents' house this week so I'm sure we'll be over there to lend a hand (or make it more difficult by adding two kids into the mix!) at some point.  We also have family photos tomorrow with my uber-talented friend, Cory, from Wilkes Photography and this time I'm setting my expectations very low as to how the kids (and by kids I mean Jake) will do.  Here lately he seems to suddenly become shy (which he is NOT) at the sight of a camera, so hopefully he'll at least look in the general direction at least once.  

As a parent, I've learned not to have some idealistic image of how something is going to go because more than likely I'll end up disappointed.  If you want proof, I should post a copy of the baby dedications at our church last weekend.  In my mind, we would stand there and everyone would "ooh" and "ahh" over my babies as Josh blessed them and presented them to the Lord.  Instead, Lilly screamed every time I tried to hand her to anyone but me and Jake rolled around on the stage because I wouldn't pick him up.  Oh it was a sight!  Thank goodness for my sister who saw my "get up here NOW!" look that I shot her because she swooped in to the rescue... meaning she grabbed Jake and ran out of the auditorium while we wrapped up!  Yes, sweet, peaceful moment indeed!  The good news is that at least we'll color coordinate!  I think I have finally mastered the art of coordinating outfits for family photos, which is really based around finding < BRIGHT! > colors that match and using them in different ways.  You can even use clashing patterns as long as there are some solids to balance it out.  Here is our color scheme:

Now if I can just figure out how to accessorize, I'll be all set.  I for one was not born with that gene.  If anyone has a suggestion or two please throw it my way!  And Josh may end up in a yellow shirt if he chooses.  I give my man options.  Only two, yes, but options nonetheless.  :)

I also plan to hit up the neighborhood yard sale tomorrow in hopes to find some treasures for our house.  We recently rearranged the upstairs and I basically have three new rooms to decorate.  We're really trying to stay on a tight budget, so my plan is to find some goodies and also recycle some of the stuff we own and make it new.  All blogs make it look easy, so I'm sure it will be a piece of cake.  Especially since I'm so darn crafty.  {to be read with a heavy dose of sarcasm}

Other than that it's another Sunday at TurningPoint... and I've lost count at what number this one is, which means that we're not quite so new anymore!  I love Sundays because it's a weekly reminder of why we do what we do.  Each week since launch we've seen new faces, people who swore they'd never step foot in a church, and several salvations.  When our weeks get jam-packed, when my days with the kids seem long, when it feels like we have something scheduled for every night of the week, and when it seems like there is never time to just rest, God makes sure to remind me every single weekend that it's all more than worth it.  What I also know is that when I cry out to Him and beg for rest, He gently whispers, "soon."  I don't know if "soon" means tomorrow or if "soon" means three years from now (which in comparison to a life span, would be soon!), but that's the answer I get every time.  Soon I will find rest, but not today.  Today there is still much work to be done for His kingdom.  I guess I'd better get to it.

Have a great weekend, blog land!  Any fun weekend plans on your horizon?

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Reflections - The Waiting Room

Brittany over at "Daughter... Wife... Mom... Sis" chose the topic for our weekly Reflections post, and if you did not get a chance to check out the message video she chose, you should definitely do so (and it can be found here)!  But if not, before I jump into my take on everything, the short version is that while we're instructed to wait on God in many situations, that instead of sitting in a waiting room, we should turn the situation into a work room.  As in, do something while you wait in order to go the direction that God is trying to get you to go.  

Often times, even as we wait, we have a pretty good idea (or at least a partial picture) of what the final destination looks like.  Take church planting for example (since that is what most strongly applies in my life)... we always knew the big picture and had the end result in mind, but when it was just a vision, there were millions of little things to get through between point A and point B.  We had the vision, could "see" the people in the chairs on that first day, but when we decided to plant, we didn't even live in this town yet!  God had truly laid this mission upon our hearts, we felt called to do it, and yes, a lot of the next year would be spent waiting... waiting to move, waiting to hear back from people regarding a facility, waiting to met the right people, waiting for finances to roll in... etc.  Since we knew and had confirmation time and time again from God that this was HIS plan, I guess we could have just sat around praying and hoping that all of this stuff would happen in His timing, but that could have taken years and caused so worry.  Instead, we turned out waiting into working.  We moved to Lexington and made arrangements to live with my sister and her family until we could afford housing of our own, Josh made phone call after phone call to other pastors and tried to connect with folks, we talked to people everywhere we went to try and strike up some friendships, and we gave out of our own pockets with faith that God would match or exceed our own personal contribution.  The list goes on and on about the countless hours and sacrifice that we poured in, but because we put in the work, God has been blessing our socks off.  I really feel like had we just sat around and waited for this dream to miraculously come to fruition, we would still be waiting.  Our God is faithful, but he also does not expect us to be lazy.

If you're in a current place of feeling complacent and waiting for something to change in your life, I challenge you to re-evaluate your current situation and pray for direction.  Seek direction so that you can begin moving toward it... turning your waiting into working.  My very favorite point from Holly's entire message was this:

Let your pain trigger a praise as you position yourself to let God work on you as you wait.

Your pain can be due to frustrations, complacency, fear of the unknown, or any number of things.  But the word that jumps out at me is POSITION.  POSITION YOURSELF... meaning Pray more.  Ask God for direction.  Get in the word.  And paise Him even in your times of uncertainty.  In other words... SEEK.  Sometimes He's just waiting for you to stop long enough to ask!  And then once you have a direction... get to work!  A book will never get written if you never put the pen to paper.  A non-profit would never get started unless someone drafts a business plan.  A child will never grow spiritually if the parent never takes the time to show and teach him or her daily what it means to live out our faith.  

I hope these words encouraged you today, but I feel like I cannot do Holly's message justice, so if this struck a chord, I highly recommend listening to her words.  Brittany posted her take on it over at her blog (found here) and if it did strike a chord and you have chosen to share with us, please link up below!

Technically it's my week to choose a topic, but I am going to kind of cheat and pick one that Brittany mentioned a few weeks ago.  It's the song "Never Once" by Matt Redman.  We're all about talking about risk and overcoming fear here lately, so this goes along with that fear (hmmm.... what is God telling the two of us lately?).  You can find it here: (  Listen to the lyrics, meditate on the words, and share with us how it spoke to you next week.  

And as always, thanks for letting me share my heart... and thanks for sharing yours.  My little blog-land is one of my most favorite places to be.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

What I'm Loving Wednesday

Lately I feel like I have a million blog ideas... and they are all over the place.  So since I may not get to do a full post on everything, I thought I'd participate in "What I'm Loving Wednesday" again and share a few.  So lately, here is what I'm loving...

1.  My parents are moving into their new home this week and guess what?  It's fifteen minutes away from me!  They've been in Florida for the past 12 years, so this is huge.  I also love that we've only been there once so far and Jake already knows that it's "Gramma's House."

2.  I'm loving everything that is happening with our church plant!  We launched TurningPoint Church in February and have already seen our numbers grow and (more importantly) lives changed.  Right after Easter we had a service with a spontaneous baptism and 27 people took the plunge!  Check out this awesome video ( ... the first guy in the water is actually Josh's dad and oneof the couples is my sister and brother-in-law.  It was an unbelievable day and God wows us every single week.

3.  With the anniversary of my blog coming up this summer, I'm looking into a blog redesign and even a new name that I have in the works.  I'm a geek, so this is super-thrilling for me.  I'm also loving that my blogger friends have been linking up and sharing during my Mama's Month series.  Yesterday's topic was favorite baby gear items... you should link up, too!

4.  Last week we rearranged our entire upstairs to give Jake and Lilly their own rooms.  Lil has been in her own crib in her own room for one full week.  Lil has finally slept through the night for one full week.  Coincidence?  I think not.  Our little diva just needed her own space!

5.  Last night a couple of friends and I put together an event to bring together moms in our neighborhood and community.  We had no idea what to expect but promoted it with Facebook and post cards that were handed out all over town.  There must have been about 30 women there and everyone hung out, chatted, and connected, which was our hope.  It was so awesome and I cannot wait until our next gathering at the end of the month!

6.  I was only going to do five, but I just have to add that I love how much my husband has spoiled me lately.  I know some of it had to do with mother's day, but all in all he's really just gone above and beyond to help me out at home.  Yep, I'm a lucky woman.

Told you these were all over the place.  Hopefully I'll find time to elaborate on some of it soon and stay tuned for a blog facelift coming this summer!  What are you loving this week?

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Mama's Month - Baby Gear

I feel like I am the last mom on the planet to do one of these posts.  It's like a blogger's right of passage into mommyhood.  And while opinions widely vary on what a new mom should and should not buy (or does and does not need), I always find it interesting to see what certain people can't live without.  I really think that the baby industry has gone overboard and there really isn't all that much that we actually need to raise a baby, but I do love some items that just make life so much darn easier.  So if I had to get rid of the rest, these would be my top five picks for what I must have (minus diapers, wipes, a car seat, and other no-brainer essentials).

When we got married, Josh's dad was super-generous and gave us his old dining room set.  Since we now had eight chairs for just the two of us, we decided that our home really did not need one more.  We opted to get this chair, since it straps onto a regular chair, and it's been one of our best purchases.  It reclines, so baby Jake could and now Lilly can sit in it and drink their bottles.  The pad comes out so it's easy to clean, but we just leave it out all the time now since toddlers are messy.  Plus, we can take it places with us, which is super convenient when we're traveling to stay with someone who does not have little ones.

Next is our video monitor... ours is the Summer Infant Slim and Secure, but I'm sure there are similar ones on the market.
Here's an item that I don't think is a necessity by any means, but it is SUPER nice to have.  The picture is clear enough to see that a newborn or infant is breathing and the night vision is fantastic.  Plus, I don't rush in there after every tiny noise because most of the time my kiddos are content just playing in their beds.  But honestly, it's the moments when you look at the screen and are totally taken off guard that make this little gadget worth it.  I once saw nothing but a bare baby bum and still have no clue how little Jake got his diaper off when he went to bed.  But it gave me a great laugh!  I will warn you though... it's hard to go to bed when you just want to watch your little one sleep soundly.

# 3 - My jogging stroller / travel system... ours is by BabyTrend:

I knew from the get-go that I wanted a jogger, and this one has been fantastic.  My sister has a BOB and aside from the canopy offering more coverage than mine, I think this one is just as good.  I've jogged with it numerous times and love that it has lots of cup-holders and storage space.  Our only complaint is that the seat only holds up to 22 pounds (whereas a lot go to 25), and since we make some solid children, they've both outgrown it by about six months old.  But all-in-all it's an affordable travel system, and a jogger is much easier to navigate through shopping malls, crowds, and uneven terrain.

# 4 - This is completely random and not on most people's lists I'm sure.  It's actually a new discovery for me- the travel bottle warmer:

Our family is on the go a lot and our kids are no strangers to road trips.  I frequently pump in the car and feed on the go, and this thing has been amazing to heat up refrigerated milk.  My pump did not make the list, but according to me, anything by Medela (I have the pump in style... but really, can you really pump "in style"?  There is nothing stylish about that process!) is the way to go.  Consider that a bonus item on the list!

I actually had a hard time coming up with a fifth, so instead of gear I'm just throwing in some things that I personally love, even though everyone is entitled to their own opinions.  This is just what works for my kids:

Diapers - Target brand are great if you've never tried them.  The polka-dots are cute, too.
Wipes - Huggies all the way for these tooshes.  They are thick and sturdy, which is a must.
Bottles - Playtex Drop-Ins.  Fewer parts to clean make this lady happy!
Swaddling Blankets - aden + anais... lightweight and big.  They make great nursing covers, too!
Steam Bags - Medela Quick Clean bags... great for pump and bottle parts as well as pacifiers!

Of course I could go on and on, which is why I chose for people to share only five.  I would love to see your favorites, too, and have a place where moms-to-be (or just moms in the market to update their current stuff) can find lots of suggestions.  If you did a post as part of my series, or if you've done a "Favorite Baby Gear" post in the past, please link it up with mine below!

Monday, May 14, 2012

On Moms...

I have read so many great posts on motherhood over the past couple of days, and after this weekend, my heart is so incredibly full.  Sometimes in the midst of chaos, I think I can forget what a true blessing it is.  How lucky I am to have two sweet, healthy children.  How incredibly blessed I am to have a mom who is still around and lives nearby.  How wonderful it is to have married a man who has a great mom, too, as well as a grandmother that would probably let me move in if I wanted to.  I often take for granted the fact that I have two sisters whom I see often, who are not only awesome mothers, but such good aunties to my kids.  Then I have a sister-in-law who I miss dearly every single day, because she is my phone call when I need a good laugh... my niece (her daughter) does the cutest darn things.  I have some amazing aunties myself, and now being grown up and having nieces and nephews of my own, I so deeply appreciate them.  My husband works side-by-side with a woman who has such a great relationship with her two kids, both older than mine, and I look up to her tremendously.  One of my best friends has four (yes, FOUR!) and kept her sanity and did a great job with them even while her husband was deployed for a year.  Another new (but already incredibly close) friend here has FIVE... and will bend over backwards to do something for others.  I have friends from blogging, and even though I've never met their children, their pictures and stories make me feel like I just saw them yesterday, and I love "knowing" their kids and what kinds of moms they are.  I have moms in my life with one, two, three, four, and five kids.  I have moms with twins and moms with kids so close in age they might as well be!  I know moms who have lost a child and moms who have prayed fervently that their child would pull through sickness.  I have moms in my life who were not planning on being moms and some that went through great lengths to become one.  When I look back on my life, I have always been surrounded by some pretty phenomenal women, most of which were mothers to their own kids, but still showed so much love and kindness to me.  I think your heart expands in ways that cannot be explained when you become a mom.  Sure your belly grows, but it (somewhat) goes back to it's original size, but everyday I find that I have more love, more compassion, more care, more hurt, more empathy, and more to give of myself to others than ever before.  Motherhood is an amazing gift, not just because it gives us some pretty incredible kids to love on, but because of the ways it changes you.  I can't imagine my life right now without this gift, and I'm thankful for a weekend that allowed me to just stop for a minute, turn off the chaos, and just focus on how special it really is.  And to all of the special mamas in my life, I just want to thank you, too.  You have impacted me and help shape me as a mother everyday.  We're better together, and I'm blessed to be surrounded by some incredibly strong moms who make me want to become a better one.  Happy Mother's Day to you all!

Me and my Mama before my wedding
My mother-in-law snuggling with my Jake
My Nana... whom we miss dearly this year
MawMaw Brenda... kissing on her great grandson
Aunt B and Carol... aunties who love us like our own mothers.  Miss you, too, Aunt B!
Aunt Claudia - one of the strongest moms I know
Aunt Karen and her girls... one of my mama role-models for sure!

My sister Angie and her boys.
My other sister, Mindy, and sweet Adam
My sister-in-law, Ginny, and cutie-pie Baby Skye
Gretchen - our other pastor's wife and a rockstar mom
Cory and three of the five... how does she do it?

Kristen, who has been my friend since high school and our kids FINALLY got to meet a few weeks ago!
Abby: Mother of three (two of which are twins) and rock-star triathlete
My best blog-buddy... hoping to meet your kiddos this summer!

Chelsea loving on sweet Charley... the youngest of her four

There are SOOOO many others and I hope you know who you are, but finding and swiping Facebook and blog pictures took much longer than I thought!  :)  And I certainly hope you don't mind that I stole some sweet moments from you ladies!

And in other mom news... please check my sister's blog HERE for a little update from her.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Biggest Loser - Weeks 2 and 3

So did I mention that I ran a half marathon last weekend?

Um, yeah... that pretty much made me rationalize all of the junk I ate all week.  I love to run long distances, but I forgot that it turns me into a bottomless pit, something I need to work on if I sign up for more races this summer and fall.  Plus, my friend Cory had me make Amish friendship bread (basically she made me do it) and the two loaves were gone in about three days.  Yeah, it was THAT good... the Amish really know what they're doing.  But my main discovery this week is that weight loss is all about defeating the excuses.  As I strive to eat healthier, I realize that I can talk myself into having just about anything that's not good for me.  I ran a half marathon, so logically that allows me to have a free pass all week, right?  Or since it's Mother's Day this weekend I should be able to eat not just one, but three molten lava cakes that my husband made for me (oh yes he did... and they were super delicious!).  Or since I skipped dinner, I can have a second bowl of ice cream.  It's ridiculous, and something that I need to work on... do you have this problem, too?

On the upside, there are a few things that I have improved on as well.  For one, I don't stop every time I pass Starbucks.  To you this may not sound like much, but it's a huge accomplishment for me.  I can talk myself into a latte at all hours of the day and realized that I would get one even when I really didn't want it.  Sure, it still tasted good, but was the four dollars really worth it?  Since I work from home I don't drive by one all that often, which is probably why it used to be so appealing when I did, but just because it's a novelty doesn't mean I need to have it every time it's available.  It's all about choices and truly listening to your body.

So where did the scale end up?  Unfortunately I have been going the wrong direction, but it was only an 0.2 gain this week, probably due to the race.  A day after the weekly weigh-in I caught a little bug that Jake had been sick with and, well, I'm now down two... go figure.  So my goal for this week is to make better overall choices and fight that irrational part of my brain that makes all of those excuses.  Oh, and I may want to show my face again at the gym... I'm pretty sure my muscles have forgotten what they are supposed to do!

How was your week??

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Reflections - Need

{This week's Reflections post is in response to the blog post "Need" by Going Beyond Ministries, which can be found HERE.}

My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?

These may just be some of the most famous words in the Bible.  Not only that, but when taken out of context, they are some of the most powerful words that anti-Christians try to use against us.  Wow, I'm getting heavy and it's only the third sentence!

As you might be familiar, as Jesus died on the cross, He shouted these words to the Father.  His Father.  Our Father.  Because as He suffered the most cruel death in history, the human side of Him- the side that felt pain, hurt, and emotions- felt abandoned.  He knew all along that this would be His fate... it had been prophesied for thousands of years before His existence, and He knew why (or rather for whom) He was dying.  It was  a hefty price to pay, and one that would change the world forever, but even Jesus had that moment of weakness- that moment of distrust.

No matter who you are or what your story, you have been through a dark time.  Who knows, maybe you are even going through one now.  Or maybe you feel like your life is one constant dark time and you can't find the way off of the hamster wheel.  And maybe, just maybe, you profess your faith in Christ but yet you feel like He's nowhere to be found.  This is totally not the direction that I was going to go with this today, but as soon as I sat down to type up my thoughts, my fingers started dancing across the keyboard.  Someone out there needs to read this today.  Someone out there is struggling, feels alone and abandoned, and desperately needs to hear that they are not alone.  And if you're feeling guilty about doubting that God will come through, know that you're not alone there either.  Jesus, our savior, had His moment of weakness, too.  But in God's timing, He was rescued, and you will be, too.  TRUST in Him during this time.  Have FAITH in Him during this time.  And even if you're not sure how to even pray to Him, just continue to remind yourself that you have no idea what the plan is or how this whole thing will turn out, you're putting it in His hands.  Hold your head high, square your shoulders, live by His word, and... well... wait.

Okay, so that's the part you didn't want to hear.  We live in a culture where we want it NOW.  We want the answer NOW.  We want the dark time to be over NOW.  And just because we're told to wait on God does not mean that we have to sit back and twiddle our thumbs.  God knows the answer, but He still expects you to do some work.  If you're greiving over the loss of something or someone (whether it be a death or the end of a relationship) He still expects you to take steps to start letting that person go.  It's just like in Joshua - even though He was told that He would win the battle, He still had to assemble an army and fight.  But I encourage you to always keep in mind that no matter what that fight is, God has it figured out.  Even in the end of these days, God will prevail... that's in there, too!

Like I said, this is not where I thought I was going to go with this today.  My challenge last week was for you to share a God-story... one of those when you thought all hope was lost and He came through.  I love those and could hear them all day.  So since I went off on a tangent, I'm just going to share a VERY quick one since I've already rambled on enough.  So... as you know, we decided last spring to move three states away and plant a church.  Our goal was to spend the summer living with my sister and scoping out locations and meeting people.  We still owned a house in Illinois and our focus was save, save, save.  Most of our spare income (and then some) was poured into this dream and we continued to tithe faithfully to a church that didn't yet exist.  And then in August, we bit the bullet and moved here full-time, which came with a hefty rent check.  Now I will be the first to say that I used to spend a lot of my time being concerned about money.  I lived at home for a long time, have always had a steady, well-paying job, and therefore have always had plenty to live on, plenty to spend on myself, and plenty left in a savings account just in case.  When I met Josh, he taught me about returning the tithe and I struggled at first with giving away 10%.  I did it out of due diligence and eventually it became routine.  And then in some weird way, it kind of became fun.  And then over time, I literally itched if it was the second day of the month and that check hadn't written.  Giving God my first fruits is now a way of life, and then on top of that, we started giving abundantly and generously.  We were always smart and paid our bills and provided for our family, but giving became (and still is) a big part of our life.  So the old me would have completely panicked about the decision to have a mortgage and a rental house.  Oh, did I mention that this was happening on one income?  Yeah, Josh quit his job before we moved here... it was the only way it would work out for us.  And then on top of that, I knew that maternity leave was in the very near future and I'd be going on about 12 weeks with very little pay.  We saved during that summer with my sister like never before, but once that maternity leave time hit, things did start getting tight.  We cut back even farther, but continued to pay on both houses.  And still, I did not freak out.  We continued to tithe and even budgeted enough to buy some pretty nice Christmas presents for our families, and still I did not panic.  It was weird, but I think it was truly the first time in my entire life that I told God that I knew He had this.  I knew He'd provide (but like I mentioned above, we were putting in the work while we waited).  January rolled around and I paid the mortgage.  We had budgeted to get us to this point and it was the very last mortgage payment that we had saved for.  In many ways, I couldn't believe that we had made it that far, and a small part of me started to doubt, just a little.  Our house hadn't shown in months and had been on the market since the previous May.  My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?  I had my moments of that... of course I did... I'm human!  But then I'd turn right back around and give it back to Him.  God, you've got this... I know you do.  And then out of the blue came a call from our realtor.  He asked me if we'd be willing to do a rent to own contract.  Josh and I knew nothing about how that worked but immediately said yes!  My hopes were up until he told me that the couple who wanted to know hadn't even seen the house.  We weren't in the clear yet.  Plus, it was already mid-month, so chances were we'd be scrounging to find that February payment.  But then, another call came, this time to discuss the contract.  Say what??  Really??  And.... guess when they wanted to move in?  Yep.... February 1st!  Since it was a rent-to-own we didn't have to wait until closing and could arrange that.  In fact, becuase it was a rent-to-own we officially don't even close until January 2014, which is crazy when you thimk about it.  But yet, they'll be paying us rent and we'll still be putting equity into the house.  The purchase price has been set, so we'll come out ahead even in this market.  One of my favorite sayings is "always be amazed, but never be surprised."  Yes, I was amazed- am still amazed.  God, I knew you had this one... and He did.  He just made me wait until the very last minute... just to make sure I meant it!  He's always there you know, but maybe He's just waiting for the very last minute, just to make sure you mean it, too!

Okay, so that wasn't as short as I thought it would be (but it never is with me).  I'm just going to leave you with one last nugget and then I'll shush for the day, deal?  I read this today and thought it was perfect to share:

If you made it this far, thank you.  As always, Brittany posted about the same topic and let me just tell you, she totally blew me away this week.  "Push Hard and Pedal" is something I'm going to have to start chanting to myself through hard times... I loved it!

Please share with us if you posted on this topic, too.  We don't receive too much feedback on these Reflections posts, but I hope you're getting as much out of them as we are from writing them.  Blogging with Brittany every Thursday has been something that I look forward to week after week, and we'd love to have more in our little club.  Leave a comment or link up if you want to join us.

Brit picked the topic for next week and I am totally pumped about it.  She picked a message by Holly Furtick, who is basically like the mecca of all pastor's wives.  Yeah, she's a superstar and someone I really admire... her blog is pretty wonderful, too.  Here's what Brittany has chosen for us:

{As for next week, I'd like to listen to a message from Holly Furtick.  Her husband is Pastor Steven Furtick of Elevation Church in Charlotte, NC.  She opened up there current series called "Waiting Room" with an UNBELIEVABLY TIMELY MESSAGE!!  You can listen and watch at this link below...

Love you all... thanks for reading!