Thursday, July 2, 2015

"I am Good In the Things That Matter"

Weird title for a post, huh?

A wise woman told me once that she hated lying to people when they would ask how she was. So instead of the ordinary, polite, society-driven "fine", she started saying "I am good in the things that matter."

I am not fine. I am struggling. I am overwhelmed. But I am so thankful that "I am good in the things that matter". What matters to me? My salvation. My children knowing who God is. My family being together. My husband loving his work and doing great at his new promotion. Our health. God providing for our financial needs. Raising six children is kind of expensive! But God continually provides in amazing and always unexpected ways.

I never in my life thought raising teens would be so hard. I remember my dad saying, "when their little they have little problems, when they are big they have big problems." Oh, Dad, why did you have to by so right? Every day we are faced with at least one issue that pops up. I can see why parents give up. This is not easy! But as I told my daughter the other day when she complained that her life is not normal because of how we parent, I told her, "Get used to it, this is what being parented is, and I will continue to parent you until you are no longer my responsibility."

God is using these teens to forge Steve and I together in our parenting. I am a firefighter's wife. I could never count on him to come home and take care of discplining, because I never knew when he would be home. I am now making my children wait so that they father (who is way less emotional than me) can make the discplining decisions. It has been a huge load off of me and he is doing a fantastic job! I don't feel angry all the time and I am able to enjoy my children more.

I am going to give you a secret confession. I was beat up by the enemy big time this week. I had been praying that a wonderful, Christian family would move in next door. I went to go give my new neighbors a pie and I recognized them! They were from the homeschool co-op that I used to go to when I homeschooled. I hadn't seen them in three and a half years. I couldn't believe it and just started praising God. But as soon as I got home, I started to get really anxious and worried. "What if they hear me yell at my children?" "What if they think I am a bad mom because I don't homeschool anymore?" "What if they won't let their kids play with my kids because mine might be a bad influence on theirs?" "What will they think of my son having a girlfriend, since we aren't doing the courtship thing?" Questions, questions, questions...Old insecurities came crashing down on me. Insecurities I thought I had long since dealt with. Why now, why are they threatening to choke me?

In the morning as I was sick to my stomach praying to God to help me. The word "compare" came to my mind. I looked up all the verses in my Bible that had to do with comparing. I found that comparing is rooted in jealousy. I was shocked when I discovered that I was insanely jealous over the new neighbor's seemingly perfect behaved kids and their life style. They were living my dream. Did you notice I wrote "my dream". Obviously what I wanted and what God wanted were two totally different things. I did not get the amiable children that say "yes" to mommy and go on their cheerful, merry way. God gave me six stubborn, strong-willed children to parent. Therefore, my family looks and acts quite differently than a typical homeschool family.

I confessed my sin to the Lord and my sweet sister prayed the oppression off of me. I will not be defeated by something so small and petty, for in reality there are no perfect families. For years I compared our family to the Duggars. Hey, they got it together right? My heart broke as I watched America tear them apart because of a mistake that was made years ago. What America thought was perfect, wasn't. What I thought of their family was not accurate and unfair to them. We put them on a pedestal and then had to watch the unpleasantness of them toppling to the ground.

Our children are imperfect, free-willed, sinful creatures. They are children and they are going to mess up. I want to be a parent that moves toward them when they mess up and show them grace and mercy instead of anger and disappointment. I want to be a reflection of how how God loves me.

As I was working through this with my Heavenly Father, a friend gently suggested that I might be just looking at was wrong with my family and challenged me to write out what was going right. It was a breath-taking beautiful excercise as I wrote down 10-12 things for each of my children. Over 60 wonderful, godly things that I am seeing in my children's life.

 I am truly "good in the things that matter."...

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Celebrating 20 years of Marriage today!

 As I celebrate today, I look at a picture our engagement picture. We were so young, so full of hope and dreams. We didn't know it would be so hard. We didn't know that we would truly have to die to our own selves. We just didn't know. The fights. Oh the fights... The joys, oh the joys! Our six crazy, wonderful, hard children have forged us together. Two very stubborn, independent souls needed each other desperately. By relying on God and not ourselves, we have made it 20 years. In all our differences, God has used them to complement one another. We have ceased trying to change each other and have found the beauty and peacefulness of acceptance. I wish it hadn't taken so long.


Thank you, my husband for working so hard for us. Thank you for giving me the ability to stay home with our children. Thank you for supporting me while I homeschooled for seven years. Thank you for loving me even when I am moody, difficult, and over-committed sometimes. Thank you for letting me put God first, then you. And now God so graciously teaching me to put you before the children.

Thank you for finding a balance between work and family. Not every firefighter wife can say that.

Thank you for loving God, and serving Him.

I love you, my friend, my love, my husband. I pray for many more years to come.

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Spring-2015: God is Good!

 Spring has sprung around here. I was so pleased with the bulb planting efforts this last year. My daffodils and tulips all came in and were beautiful. Can't wait till next year when they fill out a bit more.

 Here is a picture of the front beds. The tulips haven't bloomed yet though.

 Josh is in the thick of driving school. It is spendy but it will be worth it. He does pretty good. :)

 My twin, Jackie and I now have the most similar hair since we were kids. I think this is the first time in our 40 years that my hair is actually longer than hers!

 Miss Lily had a birthday! I found this Elsa costume online and she is in love with it!


 We celebrated her birthday at her Aunt Jackie's. It was fun having Hailey has her lady-in-waiting holding her train up the whole time. She was truly a princess that day!

 We have taken a lot of time to go play at the ranch this spring. We like to take advantage of playing in the creek before it dries up in the heat of the summer months.

 On Easter weekend, I threw a shower for my sister. It was fun doing the whole "baby" thing again.

 That same night as the shower, our family had a birthday party for Jackie, my SIL, Sonya, and I. Yes, we all have the same birthday! Crazy!

 Part of spring at the ranch is branding season. My two older boys, Josh and Marcus were invaluable as they helped "mug" cows and hold them down so they could be given their shots, markings and of course brands.

 Papa, really enjoys having his big, strapping grandsons to help them.

 I have been continuing to decorate my home with some added touches. I just replaced the 20 year old blinds with some pretty curtains.

 I also, painted my office and hung a picture. I love how the colors turned out. Very warm and inviting! The only thing left to paint is my bedroom!


Andrew also had a birthday! He turned 10 this year! We took his friends out to the ranch and played in the creek then had cake and ice cream!

What fun we have been having! God is so faithful and good and is restoring to us the years the locusts have eaten. He moved us out of our comfort zone and moved us into a spacious place. A place of new memories. New experiences. New life in Him. It is sooo good.

He truly is a faithful God that knows what He is doing. To see how He has lined things up for our family in the past three years is absolutely amazing.

Monday, April 6, 2015

Exposing the Lie of Multi-tasking

"There is no rest in trying to do everything at once. No beginning and no end."-Kathi Lipp
I am so sick of multi-tasking! Can I just say that? I have realized that I got into the bad habit of multi-tasking when I was homeschooling my kids. I cooked and taught. I changed diapers and taught. I cleaned house and taught. I did my Bible study and taught! I even disciplined another child and taught at the same time. Ugh!!! No more!

I have asked God to help me recognize when I am doing two or three things at once. I want to take stress out of my life and do things well. I can only do this when I focus on one task at a time.

I read this passage from a book called "The Cure For the 'Perfect' Life" by Kathy Lipp and Cheri Gregory.

It says, "Multitasking is the great lie of the 21st century. While research has shown that men tend to think about one thing at a time, women usually are thinking about several things at once. But that doesn't mean we are good at doing several things at once. 

Part of the reason we feel on edge is that we've set up unreasonable expectations about the amount of work we should be able to get done. Without taking other factors into consideration:

Like:

I should be able to get this report written while my two-year-old naps in the other room.
          
I should be able to cook dinner in the 15 minutes we are home between school and rugby practice.

I should be able to clean out my daughter's room and then paint it today.

Anytime your thought or conversation starts with 'I should be able to ...' check to see if you're setting up an unreasonable expectation for yourself. When we expect to get too much done in a day, we start cutting out the luxuries, (a nap, time with our husband, playing the dog, exercise, reading) to catch up on the things we 'should have been able to get done.'"

Those are some wise words! Now, when I am feeling overwhelmed by all the kids coming at me at once for something, I take one kid aside and make the others wait. They need to know they are being heard. They need to know what they are saying is being valued. Kids can get lost when you have a large family. I am very aware of this danger and have to be extra diligent to make sure they know they are not lost in the shuffle.

Anyone else struggling with multi-tasking? I would love to hear some of your strategies!





Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Family Photos at the Fire Station

Our pastor is also our photographer. He has an uncanny ability to capture the personalities of each of my children. Thank you so much Pastor Tim! These are family treasures!








I put a bunch on the side bar of my blog. It was so nice to be able to update the kid's photos.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

The Power of An Apology



I blew it the other day. BLEW it! It was bad. I reverted into that mother that I have tried so hard to change. I was ashamed, and felt guilty. I hate yelling at my kids. And here I was back to where I didn't want to be.

So what did I do? I apologized almost immediately. Before, it would have taken me awhile. But this time I didn't just apologize to the child I yelled at, I apologized to all my other children for losing control and acting like a two-year old. They heard the whole thing. How could they not?

There is such power in an apology. Kids are so forgiving. They need to see that we are human. They need to see how to restore relationships when they get broken. Even though my child wasn't ready to forgive me yet, I knew that she couldn't lay there and demonize me. She knew I had to swallow my pride to get those two simple words out, "I'm sorry". The next day, on her own, she apologized to me. It wasn't forced or coerced. Ahh, SWEET RESTORATION!

In the book Love Dare for Parents, "Time reveals our humanity. Our children start feeling the aftershocks of our sinfulness and inconsistency...They wholeheartedly speak, but we're only half-listening. Sometimes we forget or we are lazy. Self-centered or angry. Ungrateful. Sinful."

"That's when love reminds us that there are no perfect parents-just the prideful, self-righteous ones who live in denial, and humble, honest ones who take responsibility for their mistakes. Love soberly invites us to look our children in the eye and tell the truth about our brokenness. To embrace the benefits of repentance, owning up to what we've done and adjusting our course."

"All parents need to be aware that a list of their crimes is probably being compiled over time in the hearts of their children. Wrongs they perceive that you have done. Hurtful words. Broken promises. Angry outbursts. Times when you have not practiced what you preached."

A simple way of correcting this is to go to each child and ask them, "Is there anything that I have done wrong that I haven't apologized for?" Listen and don't be defensive. You might be surprised at what is in your child's heart. Reduce that list NOW, not when they are 30 and still remember all the "bad things" their parents did to them.

It takes humility, but God has called us to walk in a humble way. A loving way.

I am going to take the way of love. I need forgiveness as much as my kids do. And more than anything right now as they are in the thick of growing up, I want a solid, godly, respectful relationship with each of my children.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Covering

( A nice layer of thick bark chip "covering" my bulbs and newly planted flowers)


I am shocked when I look back and realize I haven't blogged in over a month. It seems like the older I get, the less I have to say. That is probably a good thing.

The Lord is teaching me so much. Life has been difficult the past two weeks. Lots of strange things have happened and I just kind of feel "off". It seems like there is new drama every day and I am growing weary of it.

I was praying and praying yesterday and yet felt no peace, no joy, only worry as I was obsessively thinking about some of my problems. I cried out to God and said, "Lord, I need a word from you." I had no idea how it was going to come but I felt like it was going to be given to me that day. I was desperate!

As I was laying on a massage table, my sweet, Christian massage therapist, who happens to be one of the wisest people I know, started talking to me about this cool documentary she loved. It was called "Back to Eden". It was about gardening and tying it to Scripture. She said it was fascinating how we "cover" our earth with mulch, bark, and cover crops and the reasons behind it. Tears instantly started running down my cheeks. I told her, "That's it! That's my word!" She was a bit confused and I started explaining to her how helpless I had been feeling about some of the hard things my children had been facing at school. I knew God had instructed me to pray for them more intentionally, but when God gave me that word "Cover", I knew that's how I was to pray for them.

Of course, the next morning during my devotions, I decided to do a word search on the word "covering". Fascinating stuff!

Covering: A thing used to cover something, typically to protect or conceal

Cover, Covering Fire: Fire that makes it difficult for the enemy to fire on your own individuals or formations.

Cover: To provide for

Cover: To take an action to protect against future problems.

Cover: To protect or defend

Cover: To maintain a check on, especially by patrolling

Cover: Clothe, as if for protection from the elements

This is how and why I am to "cover" my children in prayer. I sensed a new and renewed purpose when I started to pray for my children this morning. Not just my children, but the other children at school, the teachers, the administrations. I started envisioning the hallways and the classrooms and prayed God's covering over them as well.

His covering is perfect and powerful. I can trust in Jesus's blood to cover my children and the areas that influence them.

"Thank you, Lord for these marching orders. They have given me hope and encouragement. For nothing is impossible with You!"


Thursday, January 1, 2015

New Year/ New Beginnings

As I was driving back with my six children from vacation at my Mom and Sister's houses, I almost burst out crying. I felt overwhelmed with thankfulness on this day. The very, FIRST day of the new year of 2015. I have been so busy getting through all of our Christmas and New Year's family traditions that I hadn't slowed down long enough to process all that God has done for us.

 (I ran across these verses a days back and couldn't help but think how true God's Word is!)


 Lily at her Christmas program! She was so sick all week, but the doctor cleared her to participate just in time. She couldn't wait to sing us her songs and show us her moves.

 Josh and Marcus pretending they are cool shepherds as they are getting ready for the Christmas tractor parade.

Shows how much Marcus has grown in one year!

Josh getting warmed up for a game. He is the one in the middle.

As basketball starts in full swing, we are going into it with a good attitude. We probably have around 45 more games to go between four kids. I love watching them play though. Each year they improve so much and it is really exciting to see them grow not just as athletes, but as friends and teammates.
 Lily in her new Christmas dress.


 During Christmas Vern and Ethel (Steve's folks) were able to come and join us. It is always good to have them over!

Jacob is really into reading. Here he is reading with Nana Diana, the Christmas story out of Luke before we opened our presents.

Lily got a pretend straightner. She decided to use it on Santa's beard. Too cute!

As we begin the new year, Steve will be getting promoted from Lieutenant to Captain in just a few days. So proud and excited for him! He has been waiting for this promotion for a very long time. The extra pay will help pay for things like Jessica's braces, and fun stuff like that. I know he will do such a good job. I enjoy listening to all of his dreams and plans of how he would like to make his shift run smoothly. He has been the head of his shift for several months, but it will be so nice that is is official.

Andrew pretending he was a baby again on my lap. and Jessica pretending Cuddles the Cat is her baby. She is practicing for when her Aunt has hers in May. Sometimes we just like to be silly!


We are getting really involved in our church and it has been so wonderful getting to know more of the church members on a more intimate level. I just became a deaconess and am soooo excited to be able to be plugged in and serving. Steve is teaming with another member to help with the grounds maintenance.  We are looking at ways our children can help too. Can't wait to see what God is going to do with our little church this year!

(Jackie and I's kids lined up to get some Chinese food in Mom's kitchen. Oldest to youngest. They are like little stair steps. Jackie's are easy to spot because they have red hair!)

 Josh is still going out with his girlfriend, Evie, whom we love dearly. She seems to love our children as well and has a quick smile and a great sense of humor. She treats Josh so good and he is turning out to be quite a romantic young man. They are pretty cute to watch!
(Here is Josh ice skating. The only thing he was lamenting about was that Evie wasn't there to skate with)
(The girl cousins waiting to see the ultrasound)

Back to my sister, Jackie. My mom, Jessica, Lily, Hailey (my niece), and I were able to go see Jackie's ultrasound for her baby. Oh, it was such a gift! To see a little baby bouncing all over in her womb. I know she is a little shell-shocked to find out that she was pregnant after trying for seven years, but this Auntie is beyond excited!!!! What a fun girl's outing!


Mom took the kids ice skating yesterday. They were having so much fun even though it was 19 degrees out!. Josh and Jess seem to be naturals.  Lily had a hard time with her training skates. 

Yikes, this is a really random post! At least I got it up. Happy New Year everyone!


Over and out!



Thursday, December 18, 2014

Uncontrol Redeemed


 I woke up this morning frustrated with life. Things seem to spin out of control fast when you have six children of all different ages. Many of them are going through real problems. I feel like we get one fire put out and three more pop up. It has been a constant struggle lately. Discouragement has come knocking on the door of my heart.

Like I said, today was especially bad. I called my sweet twin sister, Jackie. She helped me discern some tactics that the enemy was using against me. She also encouraged me and showed me what I was doing right. I seem to always focus on the big question "What am I doing wrong?" "Why is this so hard?". I need to change my focus and see what I am doing right!

After praying with me, I got off the phone and did my Bible study. Oh man, God was in every word of it. I just have to share some of this with you.

It was based on John 18:38, 19:1. Jesus just got arrested and the disciples are obviously traumatized. Their whole world just fell apart as He ALLOWED Himself to be bound. The same man who did three years worth of miracles, just let Himself be led away like a lamb to the slaughter. What a shock. What confusion they must have felt.

Beth Moore says this in Beloved Disciple: "Sudden trauma invites shock and out of control feelings. They remind us that we have had little control all along".

"Satan wants us to feel like it is all swirling out of control. It isn't! God is lining thing up. Things are going strangely enough according to God's plan."

"When we feel tremendously out of control in one area, without God's help we will ordinarily transfer a tighter control grip in another."

I feel this way in my parenting. If I feel like things are not where I want them, I might crack down on keeping the house extra clean or something similar to that. It is the same as an anorexic who has lost control in one area of their lives and so they transfer that control over their own bodies.

Ephesians 1:11 assures us that "God is working out everything!"

The next point she made was this, "We will never develop authentic confidence in God's sovereign control until we let Him see us through seasons when life seems out of control." I have experienced this first hand. The past three years have been a season of our lives seemingly out of control. Now looking back on all that trauma and loss and seeing how it has moved us to where God wants us to be has been astounding. He truly can be trusted.

"God wants to prove Himself faithful, so we need to step out and see that He will be faithful. Step into those rough waters. He may not do what we are begging Him to do, but He will use it in our lives according to His will for us."

"Trauma is meant to encourage communication with God." Satan wants us to stop going to God in prayer. He knows that is where the power is!

"Satan will always confront us on the day of our disaster. He kicks us when we are down. Don't underestimate him."

I am going to write this down somewhere and post this somewhere where I can see it everyday. "If You do not come, we will not make it." I know that without God's wisdom, love and care, I will never be able to finish this parenting this out well. There are too many hard times coming. God WILL give us the victory if we lean on Him.

In Jeremiah 33:3, God promised Israel that "if they called to Him, then we would answer them and teach them great and unsearchable things." I NEED God to give me that kind of wisdom!

The Word says there is nothing that God cannot redeem. But we have to allow Him to do it.

Put us back together again, Lord. In Your way and in Your time. 

Thanks for letting me share my heart. Parenting is tough. This season of teens and tweens seems especially challenging. But we must not give up! We fight for our kids on our knees. The influences around them are huge, but God is bigger. Even though we may see little change we need to know that our job is to lay the foundation of God's Truth in their lives. They alone will have to build on that foundation. It takes time when such apathy is involved. They must need God, just like we did.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Before and After Pics of Living Room Project

(Lily is hanging out with my sweet Amanda whom I watch three times a week)

Here are a few pictures of the living room before I had my friend Kathi come and help me decorate. I had know idea what to do with my pictures or how to make it warm and friendly.

(This kind of shows the set up of the old entertainment center. 

I painted it a nice warm tan.

 I got this new entertainment center with the little drawers. The Turquoise really brightens up the room. I also like having the TV lower. But see that off-centered alcove? That was throwing off my mojo. Sooooo, Kathy suggested we hang some panels.

Can you believe the difference? 

 Found this beautiful painting of a vase of flowers that was contemporary but not crazy weird. The Colors were gorgeous and tied all the rooms together.

The giant stopwatch on the wall serves as our clock and I bought that pretty red tree painting online. The kids loved the rug though. It is really thick and they beg to have slumber parties on it! I also bought some colorful throw pillows to give some pop to the room.

I completely transformed my living room for less than $500!
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