Thursday, June 28, 2012

Reflections - Cornerstone

Happy Thursday!

Did you have a chance to listen to the song picked out for this week?  If not, it's Cornerstone by Hillsong and you can find it here... and even listen to it as you read this!  I admit, I had not heard it even though I love Hillsong, and it's actually a good fit for someone who grew up in a traditional church and is dipping their toes in the "contemporary" Christian music world.  I put quotations around contemporary, only because I personally do not really like the phrase.  Everything in this country, from technology to building structures to corporate infrastructure has always continued to grow and change and improve with the times.  When we have more resources available, why not use them, right?  But when the church puts a rock band on stage, we're viewed as "contemporary" and not just current with the times that we're living in... but I do get that some people are not as comfortable in that environment as they are in a more traditional setting, and that's okay by me.  We always say as long as you're in a church, we're happy... it doesn't have to be ours if that's not works for you in terms of worshipping God.  

WOW... what a tangent... sorry!  All I meant to say is that this song is basically a hymn with some drums, so yes, it's a good mix of the new and the old.  Cool?  Okay, moving on...

Instead of reflecting too deeply on the song this week, I thought about that word: Cornerstone.  I kind of knew what that was, but looked it up just to make sure I wasn't thinking of something else.  Webster's Dictionary defines it as this:

(1) - A stone forming a part of a corner or angle in a wall;  (2) a basic element: foundation

When I started this blog three years ago (already??), I never had any intention of doing any posts like this.  I'll get into a lot of this in a future post, but basically the original concept was to simply have a place to update our friends and family on how we were doing after moving across the country.  It was my outlet to write about our new home, new town, new friends, and our church planting experience, which I later found is almost impossible to put into words.  But after we got married and through the process of planting our first church, my faith and trust in God was put to the test... A LOT.  But you know what?  The more it was tested, the more it grew.  The more I doubted, the more I handed over to Him, and the more I felt His love.  I am a completely different person now than I was three years ago, and when you think about it, that's not a very long time in the grand scheme of things.  I had always known who God was, but I never really surrendered to Him, put my full faith in Him, or fully trusted Him.  It was so often my way or the highway, and my way always seemed to lead to trouble.  Hmmm... imagine that, right?  It wasn't until I decided to live by the principles set out in the Bible and follow the teachings of Jesus and read the letters from Paul that my life truly began to change, in all kinds of crazy good ways.  Sure, there are some tangible blessings: I have a great marriage (granted, that's all due to the two of us being committed to treat each other by what's outlined in the Bible), two beautiful children, a roof over our head, food in our refrigerator, money in our bank account (most of the time- ha!), and more friends than a person could ever want.  But the true blessings have been the intangible things... the knowledge that even on my worst day, things are going to be okay; the comfort in knowing that there is a God who loves me for ME, no matter how badly I mess up; the willingness to make the wrong things in my life right; the freedom of knowing that I don't have to be trapped by my past mistakes or be pinpointed as the person I used to be; and the peace in knowing that Jesus died for my sins so that one day I can have eternal life in heaven with Him and His people.  My life doesn't end here on this earth... I am just a visitor and my home is in heaven.

The reason my blog has weekly posts on a Christian topic now mixed in with the day-to-day stuff is because my life changed dramatically because of my relationship with God.  I knew who Jesus was, but didn't truly meet Him and get to know Him until I first started learning what He actually had to say, and secondly decided to let Him guide my thoughts and behaviors.  I am in such a better place than I have ever been and wish I would have figured this all out much sooner, but am thankful that I'm here now.  And I want others to have it... so I have no choice but to share.  A building cannot be sturdy without a cornerstone or a strong foundation as we learned above, and I, too, cannot be sturdy without Jesus in my life.  He is my foundation.  He is the root of all of my decisions and actions.  And He ensures that I don't crumble into rubble only to try and build myself up again without His help.  I've tried that path and although it works for awhile, it ultimately ends up giving you a lot of heartache.  My best day without Him isn't near as great as my worst day with Him.  And that, my friends, is news worth sharing.

My encouragement this week is to evaluate where you are at in your relationship with Christ and strive to make it better.  If you don't have one, I challenge you to learn more about Him... read His teachings, learn His story, and perhaps you'll fall in love the way I did.  If you do know about Him, work toward living BY his teachings, doing things HIS way, which again, might mean doing a little reading yourself to find out what all that entails.  Doing things this way makes life SO much easier.  And if you're not in a church, I challenge you to go out and find one... and one that connects with YOU.  Just because you grew up Catholic, Baptist, Methodist, etc. does not mean you have to continued down that path if you're just going through the motions on a Sunday morning and not getting anything out of it.  Those are all man-made religions, split only because of a few tiny differences in interpretation of something in the Bible.  When looking for a new home, look at it through the lens of how the people treated you and welcomed you in and how the message spoke to you.  You might know right away that it's not for you or you might be willing to give it a second shot just to see if that's the place.  And remember that it's not just important for you to go each Sunday just to "do" your obligatory one hour.  The reason it's so important is to surround yourself with others who are striving to live the way you want to live and trying to do life better.  We all mess up, and if we surround ourselves with people who have behavior patterns that we're trying to get away from, they are just going to pull us back down with them... the temptation is too strong and we are too weak.  But if we're surrounding ourselves with people who understand that we're not perfect and admit that they're not perfect and everyone is just trying to be better, well, chances are that path will be a little bit easier.  It's all about community... and it's all about living in the word.  Let God be the cornerstone of your life.  Try living His way for awhile.  Chances are, over time, you might find yourself blogging about things you used to roll your eyes at because you just can't keep it in.  In the end, I know where I'm going and I know who ultimately will be the judge, and my days won't end here.

Please jump on over to Brittany's blog and read what she has to say here, and if you shared something, please leave a comment so we can check out your post.  I will eventually start doing link-ups again, but right now it's a lot of work and we only have one or two linking up (if at all) so we'll just hold off on it.

For next week I'm going to put in a bit of a shameless plug and have us all watch a message by my personal favorite pastor, who I happen to be married to.  He delivered a slammin' message last weekend, which I think is worth sharing.  And for those of you readers who were actually there to hear it, perhaps you can share your reflections on it in my comments section next week.  Cool?  You can listen to it online here.

Alright... sorry this got up late this week, but better late than never, right?  Have a happy Thursday!

Monday, June 25, 2012


Missing in action?  Maybe a little.  But this week I'm actually IN the MIA (Miami that is) and back to the grind at work.  I fortunate to work from the office in our home all year long, but occasionally I do have to actually come show my face and remind everyone that I still exist!  So this week was no exception.

So what's one to do while away from her kids and family for three days?  Well... first I cried a little... can't even deny that.  Granted, for those of you moms out there who can understand, my hormones have been a bit unbalanced due to weaning Lil before this trip.  I don't think I realized how not ready I was for that until I actually started doing it.  Jake weaned himself, but with Lil I literally had that very last feeding, when I knew in my heart of hearts that it was the last time we'd ever have that special time.  Oh my gosh, I might start crying again... so moving on...

I arrived to the hotel last night around 9:30 in the evening, chatted on the phone with Josh for maybe 20 minutes, turned on the TV, and- you guessed it- fell asleep.  Probably by 10 with a few lights on and before brushing my teeth.  This mama apparently needed her rest!  And on tonight's agenda?  More of the same I can assure you.  It's funny how life changes... get me in a room by myself and I don't even want to watch TV anymore, read, or even peruse Facebook; nope, I just want to sleep.  My family isn't here and it's completely thrown me out of whack, and although I need the sleep for rest purposes, I mostly choose that option because it passes my time here the quickest.  I am one-fourth of an equation now, and the majority of my heart is up in Kentucky, hundreds of miles away from here.  My teenage rebellious self would probably die of a heart attack to read this, but I am not me without them.  I need them just as much as they need me, and I love that about our life.  Blessings come in all forms, shapes, and sizes, but my favorite three (and by far best three) blessings are three of the greatest people I know- one big and two small.  And I can't get home to them soon enough!

I would like to give a big thanks to everyone who is helping with the kiddos and checking in on the hubs this week to make sure he has everything covered.  Again, we are so blessed.  I even heard that a tray of spaghetti was delivered to the house last night, which is so very awesome (and better eats than he gets even when I'm home I assure you!).  I don't think there was much of a point to this post other than to just say that I'm so very thankful for what I have and maybe realize it more when I'm away from it.  Sometimes all it takes is a temporary change of scenery.  To stay-at-home moms out there whose child is frustrating  you to know end, keep in mind that being there with them is ultimately what would fill your heart more than being away from them.  And to all of you who go off to work everyday or travel often, I commend you for that... I know it's not easy.  But in whatever you're doing and wherever you're at, know that it's the place you're supposed to be right now and find joy in it everyday.  This too shall pass and I"ll be home soon enough, so for the next couple of days I'm going to continue to rest, relax, work without interruption, and enjoy these quiet moments while I have them.  

And from what the pictures that I'm being sent show... these two look pretty content without Mom around this week!

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Reflections - Change the World!

Wow, is it Thursday again already?  This week has just flown by!

Last week I set out a topic that was not all that deep, but hopefully stirred up something within you.  As my husband often teaches, find the thing that ticks you off and that's probably what makes you tick.  Translation: if there is an issue in this world that breaks your heart, chances are that you'd serve very passionately to work toward that cause and it would fulfill you deeply.  For my husband, TurningPoint Church is the fruit of that... his heart aches constantly for those who do not know the love of Christ and he worked diligently to do something about it.  And for me, helping my husband fulfill his dream was what made my cup run over as well.  Granted, over time and through hearing story after story of what God's love has meant to someone who previously had not known it, my heart breaks for those who are without God as well, and without that, we could've never survived church planting together.  It baffles him that we don't automatically have that big hurt and we don't feel that urge to get everyone into a relationship with Christ, because he had that from day one.  And I know others like that, too.  But for most people, we go through a selfish period first (what can He do for me?), finally realize at some point the impact that having a relationship with Christ has made on our life, and then we start to want that for other people.  I really wish it was the other way around.  But I digress... where was I going with this?

Oh yes, how do I want to change the world?  That was what I put out there last week to reflect on, and for me, it really boiled down to how do I want to change my world (AKA current situation) right now.  You see, over the past year things in my life have been turned upside down in a very good way, but now that the dust is settling, I realize that I have put everyone else ahead of me and am not sure if I'm exactly where I want to be.  Does that make sense?  And hear me out... I think this was (A) completely necessary for this time in our life, (B) a conscious decision that I happily made and have loved, and (C) something that had to transpire in my own life.  Why?  Because, well, I spent the first 29 years of my life living very selfishly, and these past few have taught me the importance of putting others first.  My problems are not that big, my life is not that bad, and even on my worst day, I am more blessed than a large majority of the world.  Yet, I find myself complaining from time to time and a sense of dissatisfaction sets in.  Because like all selfish people (meaning... ALL of us), I want MORE for myself.  Now that the church is in a healthy state and our life is a little more routine (although we really don't know the meaning of that word!) I think it's time to self-assess and evaluate and find out exactly what that MORE that I want actually is.  Do any of us know?

There is a magnet on our refrigerator that says "If you could do anything and know that you could not fail, what would you do?"  A couple of weeks ago, Josh asked me if I had an answer to that question, and it was odd that I read it just about everyday.  So... I thought about it.  And you know what?  It turns out that as we stormed through life like a Tazmanian devil for the past three years, my dreams are still there.  They're still strong.  And the some have even come true!  I am married to a man that I adore, who inspires me to be better and do great things, and does many himself on a daily basis.  I have two incredible children, who I love more than this life.  We have a home, tons of friends, and more love than I could ever ask for.  Those dreams have come true.  And what's left are those "bucket list" types of accomplishments that are so personal they scare the crap out of me.  Some are small... get better at photography, learn to use Photoshop, learn new techniques to decorate cakes.  But then (gulp) there are those big ones that you don't even want to tell anyone for fear that you'll fail.  And then I think of that magnet, and well, at some point you just have to go for it, right?  Because I think the only answer to this dissatisfaction is tackling those things that leave you shaking in your boots.  Things like... (deep breath)... write a book, run a sub-four hour marathon, have a successful ministry (although I'm not sure for whom or on what), wear a post-baby bikini... okay, I just made that last one up, but seriously, how scary is that?  Like I said... BIG stuff.  SCARY stuff.  Stuff that could take YEARS to accomplish.  Stuff that require tons of work, commitment, time, and dedication.  Stuff that leaves me shaking in my boots.

But then I look at my husband and see the satisfaction painted on his face.  Since this dream welled up inside of him, there have been days that he thought he would fail, days that were tough, days when there was not enough time or money, and days that we thought we'd kill each other.  His dream is BIG.  His dream is SCARY.  But he went for it!

So... I think the way to fight dissatisfaction is always to be going after these big, scary things that we're afraid to say out loud.  If your 9-5 is just what gets you a paycheck right now or if you feel stuck in a rut being a stay-at-home parent, keep in mind that the dreams you had before life got crazy are still there- they might just be hiding underneath loads of laundry, piles of bills, or dirty diapers.  But I think they still want to be chased and it's in the chasing that we find contentment.  What are some of yours?

Okay, so that was so not where I had originally planned to go with this post, but sometimes you just have to go with it.  Now that I've put all of that out there, I guess it's time to get started, right?

Please check out Brittany's thoughts on the topic over at Daughter... Wife... Mom... Sis on this.  I think she basically said what I was trying to say before I got off topic and it completely rocked my socks off.  She and I are great friends and pastors wives who live WAY too far apart, but I love coming together like this each week.  We also hope that you shared this week and will link up below!

As for next week, here is what Brittany has challenged us to reflect on this week: 

I'd like for us to meditate on the new Hillsong song...."Cornerstone" is just absolutely UH...MAZE.....ING!!!!!!!!  You will not be disappointed.  It talks about God being our anchor and cornerstone in life!  Let's focus on the words of the song and share on what spoke to you most!  

Here is the link and the lyrics: 

My hope is built on nothing less
than Jesus' blood and righteousness
dare not trust the sweetest frame
but wholly trust in Jesus' name

Christ alone, Cornerstone
Weak made strong, in the Savior's love
Through the storm
He is Lord, Lord of All

When darkness seems to hide His face
rest on His unchanging grace
In every high and stormy gale
My anchor holds within the veil


He is Lord, Lord of all

[Chorus 2x]

Then He shall come with trumpets sound
Oh, may I then in Him be found
Dressed in His righteousness alone
faultless, stand before the throne 

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Some Special Dudes

First comes love...

Then comes marriage...

Then comes babies in the baby carriage...

No, I'm not making any sort of announcement!  Phew!  It's just that when that first baby comes along, the man you love becomes a father... and with every smile at the new baby, every kiss, every cuddle, every giggle, and every snuggle, you fall farther and farther in love with him.  Yes it's true, nothing looks hotter on a husband than fatherhood!  Josh has a way with our two kids that melts my heart like nothing else.  Those kids adore him.  Nobody makes them laugh harder, squeal louder, or grin bigger than he does.  He truly is their hero, and I truly am more and more in love with him everyday.  I am a lucky woman, and they are two lucky kids.

Happy Father's Day to Mauneyland's favorite pop!

And on that note, happy Father's Day to these VERY special guys as well!

Great Grandaddy

Great Pop-Pop



Uncle Josh

And Uncle Mike!


Thursday, June 14, 2012

Reflections - Leadership

Good morning, y'all (that's right... I said it.  I have officially lived in Kentucky for a year so it's time I start using the lingo!).  Did you have a chance to listen to the podcast posted by Brittany last week?  If not, you can find it here.  And if not, I encourage you to jump over there and listen because Christine Caine (the speaker) really knows her stuff and is such an inspiration to men and women all over the world.  For those of you who have never heard of her, she and her family have been in ministry for a long time, but their main focus now is their A21 Campaign, which works to abolish sex trafficking all over the world.  Talk about taking on a really big, ugly problem, right?  And I am embarrassed to admit that until I heard her speak at a conference, I really had no idea how horrific and HUGE this issue is.  Did you know that there are an estimated 20 million people (mostly women and children) imprisoned by slavery today?  Against their will?  From child labor to prostitution, people are still being sold and shipped like cargo to live in bondage and I sit here in the comfort of my cozy living room and complain when my husband has to work late or my children won't nap!  It really puts things into perspective, doesn't it?  Okay, so I did not mean to go into that too much today, but if you did not know about this atrocity that is still occurring worldwide, I encourage you to look into it.  Knowledge is power and bringing awareness to any problem only works toward finding a solution.  And that's what I love about Christine Cain... she refuses to just sit back and let this happen... which brings me to my point today.

You only have to listen to her speak for about two minutes before you hear the point that I'm going to post on today.  She begins to talk about her 5 top qualities for leadership and although all five are great (conviction, confidence, commitment, consistency, and courage), one jumped out at me.  When she talks about confidence, I love that she specifically defined it as "confidence in Christ."  We've probably all been to leadership seminars in our lives, and even though confidence is probably touched upon, have you ever heard it expanded not just to confidence in ourselves and our own abilities, but confidence in Christ.  In God... who created the heavens and the earth and breathed life into you and me.  And ultimately, we can only have confidence in ourselves because all of our gifts and abilities come from Him.  But how many times do we shy away from something because we don't think we're good enough?  Maybe we don't apply for a job because we don't feel qualified or don't join in a discussion because we don't feel smart enough?  It's in these times that we need to take a step back and realize that we can only have confidence in ourselves if we first have confidence in Christ.

A good friend of mine has been going through a lot lately and it has been taking a toll on her emotionally.  Anytime we don't know the outcome of something, it opens the door to the what-if's and she found herself there, which is not a fun place to be.  I listened to her without much advice to give other than just to wait and see, but wish I had more.  Later that day I went home and opened up a new book we just bought for Jake called "Jesus Calling: 365 Devotions for Kids" just to skim some of the content.  First off, let me just say that I love this book.  He's still a little young for it, but even though it's geared toward children, I am getting so much out of it!  I think we complicate things as adults, so getting back to the basics is kind of nice sometimes.  But anyway, I "coincidentally" opened it up to the page that had these words:

"I am all around you.  Even when you don't notice Me, I am here.  you may not notice Me because your mind is tied up with other things.  Like worry.  A lot of people believe that worry is just a part of life.  But they are wrong.  Worry is actually a kind of unbelief.  Worrying says you don't believe I am big enough to take care of whatever it is that upsets you so much.  Worrying says you think I need your help.

Wrong!  I am big enough.  I am strong enough.  I love you enough.  Bring your problems to Me.  You can trust Me to take care of you- and whatever you are worrying about!"

I immediately called her back and read that to her... and then later emailed it.  The words that struck me here are "You don't believe I am big enough to take care of whatever it is that upsets you so much."  Ouch.  Do you ever find yourself there?  Without... wait for it... CONFIDENCE in Christ?  How can we believe that we can accomplish anything if we don't always believe (and know!) that God can do anything.  And not only that, but He can do anything THROUGH us.  We are his hands and feet and the only way He can do good in this world is to use us to do His work.  Which ultimately means that we are far more equipped than we even think, so sometimes we just have to step out of our comfort zone and just go for it!  If we just believed with all our might that we can be used in big ways, we really can be a light into the world and change it for the better.  One of my husband's favorite sayings is, "God does't call the equipped... He equips the called."

Is there something in your life that absolutely bugs you?  Something that breaks your heart that you wish could change?  It could be big or small... not all of us have to be as brave as Christine Cain to tackle a global issue (yet anyway... hee hee) yet there has to be something in your world that could be better.  Taking what we learned last week in this podcast, along with the words found in John 16:33, how can YOU use these things to make a difference?  How can YOU begin to change the world, or even just your current situation if you're unhappy with it?  Draw confidence in CHRIST this week and join us again here next week to share.

Please make sure to visit Brittany over at Daughter...Wife...Mom...Sis to read her take on this week's topic and then link up below or leave a comment to share your own thoughts!

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

With this ring...

It has been three short years since Josh and I tied the knot... can you believe that?  It truly feels like ten, and I mean that in a very good year.  These have been three of the most fun, exciting, adventurous, intense, rewarding, non-stop, busy, fulfilling, and incredible years of my life and I cannot imagine living it with anyone else.  Three years, two children, three states, two successful church plants- some people don't even do that in a lifetime!  I feel so blessed by all of it.

I can still remember the excitement I felt when Josh first put that ring on my finger... you know... "the" ring.  He proposed on an ordinary Thursday night because he told me that he could not wait to spend the rest of his ordinary days with me.  As sweet as the sentiment was, I can honestly say that our days have been anything but ordinary.  What we've seen, done, and experienced in those days since we got engaged and married is enough to fill a book.  But that day was the start of it, and that ring was a symbol of things to come.

I remember how at first I could not stop looking at it.  I would love when people would ask me to show it off or hear the story.  The lighting in our church at the time was incredible for making that ring sparkle, so I can honestly say I heard very little of the messages since I was too busy admiring my bling.  But three years later... it's just a part of me.

This ring represents so much more than just an eternal commitment to the man I love.  It now carries a few years of great memories with it, and countless stories through our ups and (very few) downs.  Although I'm pretty good at getting it cleaned up every six months, it is a bit more dull in places and on any given day may have remnants of play-dough in the prongs.  Those added extras are simply reminders of the fact that my hands have gotten dirty as we've planted a church together... we rolled up our sleeves and put in the work side-by-side as partners.  I have also worn it as I literally played in the dirt with our rambunctious two-year-old and dunked my hands in soapy water to bathe our babies.  And it the very few times that I have taken off for one reason or another, there is a definite absence that I can feel and do not enjoy.  My left ring finger is not right when it's bare.  It is meant to carry that symbol... of our love, our vows... but mostly our story.

I hope that I can someday pass down these rings to a child or a grandchild, either for themselves or for a an intended spouse.  By that point I also hope that they are even more "broken in" and have a few more dings and dents in them, because that would be the result of a few more decades of this life with my love.  We never know how much time we have on this earth, but I am thankful for each and every one that I spend with him.  My life is so much better with him in it and I am such a better version of myself than I've ever been.

So Josh, thank you for these past few years.  Thank you for your encouragement and constant reminder that I can do anything and be anything that I want as long as I put in the work.  Thank you for loving me and our kids unconditionally and for showing us every day.  Thank you for working harder than any person I've ever met to make sure our present and future is the best it can be.  But most of all, thank you for picking me.  Thank you for asking me.  And thank you for letting me wear this ring everyday.  It just keeps getting better and better and I look forward to what is to come.

Forever and ever...

Monday, June 11, 2012

Dear Pinterest,

Let me just start by saying that I think you offer a really neat concept... I really do.  I mean, how else would I ever know how unorganized I am or what to do with all of the mason jars I have stored in my pantry?  And even though I think you're great for some people, I just want you to know that you and I will never have a relationship.  It's not you, it's me....

Some people, well, are just born with the gift of craftiness.  Me?  Not so much.  Because of you and all of the fantastic craft ideas you offer, I have more scrapbook paper and acrylic paint that I know what to with, but even more half-finished DIY projects that all look like they were done by a kindergartner.  My mother-in-law may never receive the semi-completed and already very late Mother's Day gift I have been working on due to the fact that I am too frustrated to even finish it.  And while all of these ideas are beautiful and look simple enough on your online pin-boards...

I, for one, just lack the skills required to pull off such things.  In fact, I'm too embarrassed to even post pictures of what I've attempted (much less completed) for fear that my crafty friends may judge me.  Plus, there is a 99% chance that if I attempt a craft involving glue, paint, or sequins, I could find my 9-month-old covered in said materials due to a mischievous 2-year-old who lives here.  You can do better than me... we were just not meant to be.

Also, before you came along, I was perfectly happy with the way the inside of my pantry and bathroom cabinets looked.  Putting my things on the provided shelves seems pretty logical and organized, but then I see things like this and feel, well, inadequate.  Lining my shelves with wallpaper?  Wow... that takes some time and money that I simply do not have!  It's beautiful, yes, but how many people actually even see the inside of my pantry?  Should I be including this on the tour of my home?  Did I miss a memo?

Not to mention the pictures upon pictures of homes that I will never be able to afford.  Do I want my laundry room to look like a place I need to wear a dress and heels to enter?  Sure I do.  Sorta.  Or do I?  See?  I don't even know what I want anymore thanks to you.  I never knew I needed frosted French doors on my closet or striped walls in my mudroom or floor-to-cieling windows in my master bedroom, so thank you for bringing that to my attention.  Last I checked my dream home was the one I was living in, because my family is here inside of it, but apparently my decor is not quite up to par.  And clearly spending hours online finding pictures of said dream home to pin is a means to get me there.  What?  It's not a pay-per-pin thing?  Oh.  Well now I'm just confused.

Lastly, while I find your clever ideas on what to do with my toddler on a summer day fantastic, I realize that all my 2-year-old really needs is to be stripped down naked and set free in the backyard.  It's a "Lord of the Flies" type thing that seems to work with him, and all males I'm sure.  While I appreciate your suggestion that I should spend some more of my time making his lunches into clever shapes and taking him on a nature hike, chances are the most joy he's going to find all day is when he plays in the toilet bowl when I'm not looking.  And oddly enough, I have not seen any of those suggestions on your site. 

Listen, I'm sure you're not all bad and I know a lot of people really enjoy you for lots of reasons, and that's okay by me.  To each his own.  I just wanted to make sure there were no hard feelings between us because quite frankly, I just don't have the time or energy for you.  Even as I type this letter I am thinking about how messy my living room is and how there are two loads of laundry that have been sitting in baskets for four days now... in a laundry room that is filled with unpacked boxes because we don't have enough storage space in this house.  Or maybe the storage space that I do have is just not organized correctly into brightly painted shoe boxes or something like that.  What I'm really trying to say is that you are exhausting.  I don't have time to pin things that would make my life "easier" but in essence depress me because I don't have the time, talent, or resources to make it happen.  So how about this?  Someday when I find that I have plenty of disposable income, all the time in the world, and have moved into my my perfectly organized dream home decorated by the beautiful crafts that I have made, we can try to get along.  Can we make that work?

Thank you for understanding and for allowing me to distance myself so that I can feel like I'm not a complete failure at life.  If you would like to create an online space for me where I can post pictures of all of my failed attempts at crafting and cooking as well as pictures of my messy house, that might be something I can get in line with.  I think I'd find comfort in networking with others who like me did not get any of those necessary genes.  Until then, I think it's best that we see other people.

Thank you for your time... that you apparently have more of than I do.

A very busy mom

Disclaimer: I have nothing against Pinterest or anyone who uses it.  I do see its merit for some things, but this answers the "why don't you use Pinterest?" question that I'm asked on occasion.  Just FYI!

PS - I probably should have included the sources for these photos but I honestly do not know where they came from.  Ironically, they were swiped from (gasp!) Pinterest since those of us without accounts can still get limited access.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Laugh or Cry...

I love these moments in this crazy adventure we call parenthood- you know, when you're not sure if you should laugh of cry.  I wondered why Jake was handling his time-out in his room so calmly and quietly.  And I did smell the strong aroma of baby powder from the top of the stairs.  But somehow, I did not expect to see this when I opened the door to his room!

It apparently snowed on the Island of Sodor.  And if you don't know what that island is, I am a little bit jealous of the fact that you've never had to sit through an episode of Thomas the Train.  Unfortunately, the "snow" was not confined just to the table but also all over the carpet and his bed.  So what's a mom to do?  Grab the camera and then figure out how the heck to clean up this mess.

As a sidenote, if this ever happens to you, be aware that the vacuum cleaner will first blow all of the powder up into the air before sucking anything up.  So basically, it will just redistribute the powder all over the room.  And proof that I have the best babysitter in the world?... she actually cleaned the outside of my vacuum cleaner after all was said and done.  It takes a village folks!  The moral of the story: don't put Jake in time-out.  Or don't put baby powder in his room.  You decide.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Reflections - Prayer

What a week it has been... man oh man has God been at work on me.

Let me start at the beginning...

About three weeks ago I found myself at a point where I was really overwhelmed.  I am frequently on a soap box here encouraging others to ask for help or to give something up instead of overloading themselves.  I'd also blog about how busy our life was, but how much joy we were getting out of the busy-ness.  But do you know what was actually happening?  Life was getting busier and busier, and I was getting farther and farther away from God.  To the point that I physically could not talk to Him.  I would try of course, but I literally felt uncomfortable when I tried to pray.  To you that may seem silly, but it was born out of my own knowledge that I was not seeking Him daily.  Or even weekly to be honest.  I was writing these weekly posts and that was about the extent of it.  So when I'd go to pray, I felt like it was not heartfelt and that God would not like that.  And that made me feel a bit... well... dumb really.  I happen to know deep down that God likes all prayers, whether they are silent meditations or quick little snippets in a quiet moment throughout the day, but for me, I could not settle my spirit enough to bring any meaningful words to Him.  The noise all around me was just too loud and even when I tried I could not block it out and just focus on Him.  And that made me feel guilty, too, and pushed me farther away.  And I hated it.  I knew deep down something wasn't right.

So you know what I decided?  Instead of just going to Him and seeking His help (like I encourage you all to do each week... and still stand firm in that encouragement, by the way, but sometimes need to take my own advice) I decided that I should probably give something up;  something that was sucking up my personal time.  So as you might have guessed, my blog is what was almost put on the chopping blog.  I say "almost" because my mind has since been changed on this decision, but I'll get to that in a minute.  So yes, a few weeks ago I decided that I'd stick it out for a few more weeks and then I'd shut her down.  I didn't have time for it and even though it's something I love to do, I didn't feel like it was a valuable use of my time.  My mind was made up.

Then we posted on humility last week.  I have to admit, that verse ("Humble yourself before the Lord and He will lift you up" ~James 4:10) resonated with something deep inside of me.  I had at some point over the course of the past few months taken on an "I-can-do-it-all-without-You" attitude and hadn't even realized it.  But after I wrote my post on humility, it was as if that verse took a tiny little hammer and started chiseling away at whatever wall I had managed to build between me and God.  And then I posted that this week's topic would be prayer.  (I'm getting to my point... I promise... just bear with me).

Fast forward to Friday of last week.  Josh and I had plans to go out of town and I felt like we had a million things to get done before we left.  My car was in the shop and Josh's dad came by to pick him up to go get it.  Without me asking, he said that he'd go ahead and take the kids with them so I could wrap up my work for the week.  Perfect.  The door shut behind them and I went back up to my office and sat in front of my computer, fully intending to get some work done.  But instead, reveling in the silence for a few moments, I procrastinated and perused a few blogs.  I have a few that I frequent and one is written by a girl I went to college with who has over 1000 followers.  She generally blogs about her life, fashion, and events... a light read and something to break up the monotony of my day.  But on this particular day, she posted about her faith.  Do not ask me why, but reading that post broke me down.  I sat there and sobbed because she was posting on something that I had been trying to get across to people- that God fills a void in our lives and turns things around for the better like nothing else can.  Only she had 1000+ people reading it!  And then I felt guilty (again) for feeling this way because again, it's not about me.  It's not about how many followers I have.  But I guess in that moment I confirmed (in my own mind) that my words out here in blog-land don't really make a difference.  That nobody even really reads this.  It was my own sick, twisted "woe is me" moment.  Plus, I should have rejoiced that someone with a big following who never posts about that aspect of her life was sharing the good news about God.  Again, sick and twisted.

But this is what I love about God.  Sometimes it takes us coming to our breaking point for Him to give us a breakthrough.  In the quiet of the house I prayed like I haven't prayed in a very long time (between sobs) for Him to take that feeling of "it's about me" away.  I begged Him to not let me feel silly or stupid or half-hearted every time I tried to pray.  I prayed for my kids and my husband, something I should be doing every day.  I prayed for every single person in the church and for the ones I haven't met yet.  I prayed for friends who are going through difficult times, because I told them I would and want to make good on that promise.  Besides, I know prayer works... I have seen it time and again in my own life, so the least I can do is pray for others.  I think I cried and prayed out every ounce of self-pity that I could have possibly found within me and asked Him to take it.  I don't want it any more and I cannot carry it around with me.  It's not welcome here... He can have it and I know He can handle it better than I can on my own.  And when I said my "Amen," the crying stopped.  Just like that.  It was strange, because I am pretty much the ugliest cry-er around, but when Josh returned he couldn't even tell.  I had to fill him in later all about my breakdown.

We went out of town Friday night to celebrate our anniversary a little early and had a a great time getting away from it all.  And when I got back, I noticed that not one, but two people had linked up on our Reflections post last week, which was a first.  It was as if God was saying, "look... people do read this and want to help minister to others, too!"  And then I got a Facebook message from someone I hadn't talked to in awhile thanking me for a post that was helping her through a difficult time.  Alright, God... you have my attention.  And then here's the kicker: I met a lady at the church who showed up on a Sunday morning because a friend of hers in Illinois reads my blog and knew she lived here in town and should come check out the work we're doing.  Say what??  Okay, God... now you're just showing off!  :)

This whole story may sound silly and petty to you... but it was the absolute confirmation that I needed.  He came through.  He always does... but He was just waiting for me to ask.  I made the decision to give up blogging on my own and He answered with a "Had you just asked me, I would have shown you sooner to stick with it."  I do write this blog for me and it is something that I am passionate about and love doing, but He showed me that it does matter to others, too, even if it's just a handful of people.  And that's okay with me because even if it just helps one person, that person matters.  I also realized that until I do prioritize my time and find ways to cancel out the noise for a few moments everyday to seek Him out, He's not going to give me a bigger following (which is not what it's all about... like I just said).  If I'm not pouring His word into myself, why should He trust me to be able to pour into others?  An empty pitcher cannot fill up any cups- it's as simple as that.  I read a book by the incredible Lynne Hybels (look her up if you've never heard of her) and she illustrated the most perfect word picture:

She wrote something to the effect of if you're juggling all kinds of balls in the air trying to keep them all close to God, don't forget that you're then the farthest away.  We try to hold our husbands up, keeping them nearer to God.  We definitely try and keep our kids way up there, showing them God everyday.  And maybe we serve at church or lead a team and try and keep that one up there, too.  But when you're holding everything above yourself to keep them nearer to God, you're the one left at the bottom... farthest away from Him.  All of these things ultimately get in the way of our direct connection with our Father if we're not careful in how we juggle.

So this week, I hope you can cancel out the noise in your life for a moment or two each day to lift up your praise and needs to God.  He doesn't need some eloquent speech either... just talk to Him like you would a friend, because that it who He is.  If He is truly our father in heaven, you can come to Him when you're busy, tired, scared, happy, or confused.  He just wants you to seek Him out.  Whether it's down on your knees or driving down the road, talk to Him... bring your worries, problems, frustrations, and doubts to Him.  He's always there and always waiting.
 28 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”  (Matthew 11:28-30)

Thank you for being a bit of an emotional dumping-ground for me today.  I usually do not get this personal here, but I think if we all just got real with one another we'd realize that we're not alone in our times of doubt and self-pity.  My problems are small compared to many, but I am a work in progress just like everyone else.

For a different take on the topic, please visit Brittany over at Daughter... Wife... Mom... Sis for her insights.  And of course, if you posted on the topic, please leave a comment or link up below.  And whether you like it or not, this blog is not going anywhere for awhile!

Brittany picked the topic for this week and I am excited about it... if you've never heard of Christine Caine, look her up RIGHT. NOW.  She is incredible and has done amazing things through her ministry career and the A21 campaign.  Here's what Brittany posted:

I would like for us to listen to this podcast by Christine Caine.  It was recommended to me last week by a friend and I'm so thankful for the timely encouragement and challenge that came with me listening to it!  Enjoy this amazing woman of God...
Christine Caine - Women in Leadership Principles