To Everything There Is A Season

A Time For Every Purpose Under Heaven

A blog about raising a young family and keeping Christ at the center of it.

The Cyrs

The Cyrs
Photo Credit: Rachel Dewhurst

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

A Time to Stop Shaming

I recently read a blog post written by a woman who wanted to make sure the rest of us knew she wasn't fooled by the "perfect" lives we try to portray on social media and how she had the collective "us" all figured out. I only got halfway through the article and then had to stop because her article did nothing to convict me of portraying something I'm not and frankly sounded more like the rantings of a bitter woman who is very dissatisfied with the life she is leading and clearly seeing other people happy or at least attempting to be happy, angers her. I would cite the blog post here so you could see for yourself but my blog is not about spreading that kind of negativity so I'm not going to; I'm sure a quick search would lead you to it...or one similar. 

That's the thing with social media. I will be the first to admit that I love my daily dose of Facebook because it's an easy way for me to stay connected with people; something that is difficult to do when you are busy raising a family. However, it has become a place where people feel very free to say whatever they think with very little regard to other people's feelings. It has also become a place where shaming of every kind is taking place. We have all seen and heard about the "mommy wars", I even wrote a blog post on it [A Time to Judge Me]. It is also a place where a person will now be shamed for having a happy life, happy marriage and happy children. When did we become so cynical that it is hard for us to believe that a family can be genuinely happy? When did we become so bitter that we
doubt a picture of a happy couple is real? When did we become so dissatisfied with our own lives that seeing posts about a person being thankful and happy for their spouse and children and life in general upsets us? 

Why is it necessary for us to know the "dirt" behind the photo? Why can't a frazzled, stressed out mom who has been taking care of her children who maybe haven't behaved the best the past few days or maybe were sick and cranky, post a photo of that rare second when the child was happy as a reminder to focus on the good and not the negative? Why can't a couple, who in reality have arguments and disagreements like every other couple, post a photo of themselves and celebrate the love they STILL have for one another despite the ups and downs marriage has brought? Why do we feel the need to tell people that if there is ANY negative anywhere in their lives then they are not allowed to focus on the ups but should instead dwell on the downs? 

I love seeing photos of couples who are happily married and in love. I love seeing photos of couples who have stood the test of time & the "for better or for worse" moments and I love seeing photos of families enjoying each other and being happy; even if it's only for that one day, minute or second because everyone deserves to celebrate the good moments. Families are falling apart and that is no secret. There are a lot of hurting moms and dads and in effect, a lot of hurting children. Families need help, they need support, they need love, they need encouragement and most of all they need to know there is a God that loves them more than any one person could and who wants to help them succeed. I want to spread THAT message! I want to like every happy, joyful picture I see, not because I'm naive and think that that a happy picture is a total representation of what is going on but because that person is making a choice to focus on the good rather than dwell on the negative and that kind of focus is what is going to save marriages and save families!

Yes, there are those out there who will always feel the need to impress and portray something that isn't reality but I believe they are the exception, not the rule. The majority of people on social media are just trying to live their lives to the best of their ability and sometimes if they need to make something look a little better than reality to help them feel better, then just let them! If we want to be people who love the way God tells us to love then we will be patient & kind; we won't be rude, envious, boastful, proud or easily angered & offended. My family is made up of 9 imperfect people who have good days and bad days. Despite the ups and downs though we are able to genuinely put a smile on our faces and have genuine love for one another in the midst of our circumstances because we have the joy of the Lord in our hearts. So post those happy moments and don't let anyone bully you into believing you shouldn't just because your life isn't perfect. That's what life is: An imperfect existence filled with perfect moments and no one should be shaming you for sharing it!

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

A Time for Two Wishes

"I have no greater joy than to hear that my children
 walk in truth." ~3 John 1:4

As a Christian family it can be difficult at times to explain to other Christians why we feel so strongly the best place for our kids to be educated is in the public school. In comparison to the people who only have a negative opinion about it, there are few who support our decision and even fewer who share our vision of the kind of difference we can make there. I've never been one to shy away from a fight; not one I believe in anyway. Yes, things have changed and we don't agree with all the changes but I also know that you can't make a difference if you walk away from the issues, someone has to stay and try to make a difference. Our difference won't be lobbying legislators in hopes of repealing Common Core. That would be great and there are people called to that kind of fight. The kind of fight I'm talking about is on a smaller scale, closer to home. The change we feel called to make is by offering support to the teachers who work effortlessly to do what is best for our children; to let them know how much we appreciate them when they are forced to teach a curriculum they don't care for or have to implement a set of standards they know will only frustrate the students. It's the kind of change that shows other's God can still be a part of a child's classroom when our own children bring their Bibles to school to read during free time or on the bus, that He's there when a teacher allows one of our children to share from God's word what we believe about the creation of the world, He is there when we commit to teaching kids about who God is during our weekly Good News Club, He's there in the lunchroom when a fellow classmate asks one of our children who is this God they believe in? He's even there in our children's homework assignments if we have taught them that no one, not even the public school, can take God out of their hearts if they want Him there. Yesterday one such homework assignment came home that proves this point:

Overlook the several grammatical errors that it appears even the teacher missed because the grammar is not what's important here...not this time. What is important is what is seen in the heart of Owen. The boldness he had in sharing his heart in a homework assignment not knowing how it would be received by the teacher. What is important is that rare glimpse into the heart of a child who very rarely lets people know what is going on inside. To say I was proud when I read this is an understatement. The courage it took for him to write this, knowing that he may be mocked by other classmates (because let's face it....these days anyone who claims the name of Christ is fair game for ridicule) touched me. It's the kind of courage that can only come from God. Last winter we spent our family devotion time in the book of Joshua and had the boys hide the following verse in their hearts: 

"Have not I commanded thee? Be strong and of a good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed: for the Lord thy God is with thee whithersoever thou goest." Joshua 1:9

He put the truth of that verse to work in that homework assignment! It may seem small in comparison to the battle Joshua was called to but even Joshua had to start somewhere. As Christian parents we need to be preparing our children for battle and teaching them to take courage in the face of opposition. They are never too young to learn this very important life lesson and I am thankful for the opportunities God is giving my kids to stand up for what they believe in their school, with their teachers and among their peers. Not every family will be called to put their children in public school; wherever you are called though, that is where your battle is and you have a responsibility to teach your kids how to stand up for their faith.

If you ask Ben and I what our two wishes are we'd say we don't believe in wishes, but we do believe in prayer and our two prayers would be that each member of our family would "love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind" and that our children will always "walk in truth". Pray for our children that God would continue to use them for His glory and that they would continue to have hearts willing to do His will. He CAN do great and mighty things through them...even in the public school.

Thursday, October 8, 2015

A time for "I don't do baths!"

"Any man can be a father, but it takes someone
special to be a dad." ~Anne Geddes

I'm going to make this simple. I was away and Ben was left to hold down the fort here at home. One evening I received a text that read: I DON'T DO BATHS!

Assuming he was just being melodramatic about a task he's not crazy about I didn't pay it much attention and replied with: Oh come on! Your mom is there to help you. :)

What I received next was a series of texts with pictures of the most hilarious bath time I've ever read about. Enjoy!

 It all started as a fun bubble bath. Lots of happy girls.

 Then Tess started wincing and holding her rear.

And then the faces started.

 Then, there it was. Bigger than most grown men.

 So we went downstairs and Oma rinsed hair...

...and Emma peed on the floor.

Then I had to clean the bathtub.

It grossed us all out.

 But we recovered.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

A Time for Change...Again!

Have I ever mentioned I don't like change? Well, I don't. I like structure, schedules, consistency and familiar surroundings. I can handle spontaneous as long as it's organized...I sound like so much fun, don't I?! This is one thing I love about God. He NEVER changes. He is always the same, unfailing, loving God and I don't have to worry that He's going to change His mind. For someone like me, that truth is a real comfort.

As I've shared before my morning routine is pretty structured and it works for me...well, worked. It was my "alone" time, while the house was quiet where I could get up at 5, have my coffee, read and do a couple chores and just prepare myself for the day ahead. Sadly, sometimes things change and you have to restructure your day or at least leave room for things to go a little differently. With a new school year came a new schedule for our oldest, who is now at the Middle School in another town. This is the age when the three towns in our district come together in one school so that puts us about a 30 minutes drive from the school....on a bus it's an hour and a half! So while I'm still getting up as early as I used to, I now have someone who needs to be up with me and instead of reading I'm making breakfast, lunch and keeping my 11-year-old, non-organized, son on schedule. Once he is on the bus I have about 40 minutes before the others start waking up and I begin the process of getting all of them ready for school.

Things change! That is reality and I need to deal with it. Some of the retired ladies at our Bible study yesterday were commenting on what an adjustment retirement is; They went from having the house to themselves all day, making the decisions, having a set routine to now having their husband home and the routine getting thrown all off. It made me realize how true it is that there really is a season to everything! I say it all the time, it's sort of my mantra but I guess I hadn't realized how that statement penetrates just about every aspect of life. No matter what stage of life or what season of life we find ourselves in, it all comes with change. Some changes are big...retirement is a big change. Some of the changes are small...a new school schedule is a small change. The thing I have to remember is that God knows all these changes. None of it is a surprise to Him and if we choose to trust Him with these changes then we can trust He is going to give us exactly what we need to function successfully with these changes. I can choose to grumble and complain and focus on how this is affecting me negatively or I can choose to see the change as something positive and seek out what His will is for me in the change.

One blessing I have already seen is that I now have some one-on-one time with my oldest that I didn't have before...and it's every morning! There are no distractions and no interruptions. We can open up our Bibles together and read while he eats breakfast. He also gets home before the other kids do, so there is even more one-on-one time. For my son, even he has chosen to see this as a positive. A couple of the things he said to me were, "well I'm up at that time anyway" and "I like the long bus ride; I get to talk to people." I do think as time goes on that getting up that early will not be as easy and I do think the long bus ride will get old but because we are choosing to see the good and positive in these changes, God is blessing us and we are thankful for the goodness He has shown us the past few weeks.

So if you are like me and you don't like change I encourage you to embrace it and look for the positive. Change is an inevitable part of life and not all change is bad. Look for what God might be trying to show you, teach you and bless you with during the change rather than dwell on the negative. If you find yourself really struggling to find the goodness in a change you are facing then I give you this verse:
'Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.' ~Philippians 4:8

You can't go wrong when you put your focus on all the things this verse mentions!

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

A Time for the Right Perspective

It's been quiet here on the blog. Between having all the kids home for the summer and taking classes, I haven't had a lot of time for much else. However, quiet on the blog does not mean quiet on my heart and God has done a good deal of convicting, shaping and restoring. I hope you can say that you've had seasons like that. Seasons where it seems like you don't have much to say but it's only because you are choosing to be still and know God. He can't speak to us if we never stop talking or moving long enough to hear him; we can't make changes if we don't know where change needs to happen. It's interesting sometimes to see what God will use to stir your heart and bring about conviction. For me it was a lecture in one of my classes and a book the kids and I read aloud together over the summer.

 In one of my lectures the professor gave us an acronym: ALIVE. It stands for Always Living In View of Eternity. We were learning this as a tool to have in order to help someone we might be helping understand how our perspectives influence our responses to life's circumstances and how our response influences the outcome 100% of the time. We were being taught to challenge someone to think about whether or not it is God's Word that influences our perspective. Throughout our lectures and our teaching, while we are being taught how to help others we also, if we are surrendered enough to allow it, are being challenged ourselves to make positive changes and look at life with a filter of hope and life in Christ. I began to see that there were some areas in my life that I was not completely surrendered and this really grieved me. 

Then as the kids and I got to the end of our book on "Hero's of the Faith", we read about two men: George Mueller and John Wesley. What these two men had in common and what the Lord spoke to not only me about but the kids also was how these men told only God of their needs and trusted Him fully to provide; they were incredible stewards with what God had given them, giving back to God more than what they kept for themselves. I realized that I had fallen away from the kind of steward I wanted to be. I felt the Lord convicting me about letting HIM provide for my needs rather than trusting in my bank account to provide. I was also being challenged about what I spent my money on.

 As I realized that I needed to live my WHOLE life with eternity in view not just part of it I realized that this had to extend into how our family spent our money and on what. One night I sat down with Ben and shared with him what God had been showing me and not surprising to us, Ben had been feeling convicted similarly. I love how God does that and how only He can make two hearts gives me goose bumps every time it happens. From there we talked about ways that we as a family can live with a perspective more focused on eternity and how we can be better stewards with what God has given us. We both wanted to involve the kids and make them a part of this work that God is doing in our lives. Showing our kids (and others too) practical ways we can practice what God is showing us is really important to us... so this is what we did...

We decided to give the kids an allowance. The kids work really hard around the house. They all have chores to do and for the most part they do them with sweet spirits and little complaint. Because we have seen how hard they have worked this past year we were okay with giving them a little compensation for their efforts with the intent of using the allowance to teach them about budgeting and being a wise steward with what God gives you. They will each receive 1/4 of their age per week (I told you it was a little compensation!). From that amt. they must tithe 10%, save 70% and can spend 20%. We thank Ben's parents for helping us with the percentages. It's what they did with their kids and I don't know about the others but it was a good system for Ben! We have also told them that for each need or want they have whether it is new sneakers or a new Lego set, we would pray about it and give God time to provide it in a way where we can get the item for the best deal possible instead of going out and just buying it brand new. We want the kids to see that God is ABLE to provide ANY need we have and as we as a family purpose to live this way, we are excited to see what God will show us. Keeping eternity in view will allow us to be more thoughtful on what we spend our money on and hopefully give us even more resources to give back to God. One passage from the chapter on John Wesley read:

“When you [John Wesley] were a young man, you made 30 pounds; you lived on 28 pounds and had 2 pounds to give away. The next year, you doubled your money to 60 pounds, but you still lived on 28 so you had 32 to give away. And when you made 120 pounds a year, you still lived on 28 and gave away 92!" John Wesley laughed and said, "I call it Kingdom economics!" ~Hero Tales by Dave & Neta Jackson

For Ben and I, of course there are set bills that have to be paid but aside from those things we are responding to the convicting of the Holy Spirit and leaving our budget and spending in Gods hands. We do not know what the future holds and there may come a day where we will have to live on less out of necessity; being convicted to live on little and need little may just be a blessing for the future that we have yet to understand! God always moves with a purpose and a plan and while I know becoming more disciplined in this area will not always be easy, I am excited to see God's plan worked out.  

Thursday, June 18, 2015

A Time for a Funny Story

It's been awhile since I've taken the time to sit down and write something funny one or all of the kids has done. It's the last day of school today and it was not without its funny incident at the bus stop! 

Side Story: My amazing neighbors, for the past 6 years beginning when Noah was in Kindergarten, have put my kids on the bus at the group stop for us. This has made it so that I don't have to get all the kids dressed up and in the truck to go to the bus stop and has been an incredible blessing and help; especially during the times I had a newborn to care for. Since the weather is nicer and they want to get up to their camp earlier, I have been putting the boys on the bus two days a week for a few weeks now and it is for this reason I was fortunate enough to have this story to share! A big thank you goes out to my neighbors; we should all be so lucky as to have an "Ed & Elaine" living next door. 

Our new 6th, 5th & 3rd graders!
I was sitting in the truck as the bus was pulling up. The boys had begun getting out of the truck and because I couldn't see what was happening on the other side, just assumed ALL the boys were getting their bags and heading onto the bus. I only saw two get on and I knew the bus driver was smiling and mouthing something to me but I just assumed she was saying, "Have a great summer!" and smiled and nodded at her. A few seconds pass and she's still laughing and I see that one of the boys hasn't gotten on the bus and I'm really confused because I don't see him anywhere. I get out and ask her, "did he get on?" and she laughs, points behind me and says, "He's peeing! I was telling you, boys will be boys!" Sure enough, there's the boy heading my way thinking nothing of the fact that he was peeing....out in the open....and with a big toothy grin got on the bus as though nothing had happened. 

I was so shocked I couldn't even muster up words to say to him. I admit this is not the first time one of them has had to pee at the bus stop but I make them go farther into the woods and get behind a tree...sorry Ed & Elaine! Why this particular time he thought right beside the truck door would be a good spot is beyond me. I also don't understand why one of his brothers didn't stop him; they must have thought it was an appropriate spot too?

We're the Cyr family and apparently we like to leave our more ways then one! 

Happy Summer! 

If you liked this story, you might also like the post A Time for Rocks when Noah put a rock in his ear at school...and how we got it out.

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

A Time to Let Go of Excuses!

He that covereth his sins shall not prosper: but whoso confesseth and forsaketh them shall have mercy. 
~Proverbs 28:13

So the Lord has given me another opportunity to be transparent with all of you....great for you, not so great for me! I do love transparency. Some of the women I admire most are the ones who have been willing to mentor me through transparency. It speaks volumes and can often help but for the person who has to do the revealing, it's not always fun. As I share this, please don't get the impression that this is the first time something like this has happened to us; I just felt led to share this particular incident and highlight a couple valuable life lesson I am trying to ingrain in my children. 

No names will be shared but some of the details need to be brought out for better understanding. There was a band field trip. It was at an amusement park. It was a well-deserved reward for some hard work during this school year. It may come as a shock to you but for my two who were on this trip, it was their first time at a place like this because well....amusement parks with 7 little children are just too overwhelming for me. I was thrilled for my two boys to have this opportunity because it means I don't have to bring them, ha! We've done Storyland but this place had big rides, for big kids! They were so excited for this trip, and I don't blame them. I knew that my two boys would be in the same group and I knew who their chaperone was going to be; I couldn't have been more thrilled with the situation. 

It never occurred to me that morning to have a talk to my boys about their behavior on this trip, to respect the people in charge of them and to just overall behave and be mindful of what our expectations are. While they are not perfect by any means, this is an area these two generally don't struggle with. So I sent them on their way with a cheerful goodbye and skipped the pep talk. Whether it was a mistake or not I'll never know; it’s possible the outcome would have been the same had they had it. I was so excited to pick them up at the end of the day and hear all about the fun they had; I knew it would be an evening full of stories. It was full of stories alright; just not the ones I was thinking of!

When they got into the car the first thing one of the boys said when I asked how it went was, "Well, the chaperone was probably upset with me for not being patient; I was just really excited to be there". Alright, I thought, a little excitement is expected so I didn't say much about it. I decided I would just text her when I got home and make sure things had gone well. Lets just say her version of the story and the one I was getting were different. When I questioned said child and read the text to him that said he had taken off on her three times he looked at me confused and said that he hadn't run off on her. Life lesson #1: Children are always guilty until proven innocent; except in cases where they are accusing an adult of harming them (in those cases, parents should always believe the child and investigate). So with that in mind I went back to my friend and made it clear that I believed her but not being there I was going to need more details so I could get to the bottom of this; and she obliged. When I read to my child the first instance he ran off he immediately made an excuse. Life lesson #2: NO EXCUSES! Own your behavior and take responsibility for your actions. I immediately called him on his excuse making and explained that what he thought was considered ASKING her was actually TELLING her. The two are not the same and I made it clear to him that he did, in fact, take off on her. He knew better to give me any excuses on the next two points and so after a little scolding, a little reminding and a little scripture to reinforce what I was teaching I then had him sit down to write the chaperone an apology. Life lesson #3: Teach your kids at a young age to apologize and ask forgiveness. 

Why am I sharing this? Because making excuses is one of my biggest pet-peeves and I see it all too often. How many times have you heard a parent make an excuse for a child who is behaving poorly? How many times do we see adults making excuses for themselves? I could have done it in this case. I could have said, "Weeeellll, he was just so excited. Relax a little!" The bottom line and what I want my kids to understand is that we have the power, with the help of the Holy Spirit to rein in our emotions and our bodies. We don't have to get out of control, we don't have to be impatient, and we don't have to throw tantrums because we can have control over those things. Generally speaking, we choose our behaviors and I begin teaching this to my children as soon as I know they understand the words coming out of my mouth. That means my two-year-old does not have the luxury of throwing a fit just because he's two and not getting his way or is over-tired. If we begin teaching our kids young these very important character traits (or fruits of the spirit, Gal.5:22-23) then hopefully by the time they are adults they are the kind of adults who can take ownership of their actions and not instantly fall back on excuses. My hope is that my kids grow to be the kind of people who are able to say, "I'm sorry" and really mean it. That instead of blaming circumstances and people for bad choices they will be able to examine their own hearts admit they were wrong. 

I'm also sharing this because it was a reminder to me that parenting never ends and it requires constant prayer. Even when you think you've done a really good job instilling principles in your kids, they will still make mistakes. When there are several kids (and I'm sure it happens in situations with fewer children) there are several areas needing attention all at the same time and it can get overwhelming. I was reminded that my two older boys are not adults yet and while they are great kids and generally make good choices, they still need lots of prayer, direction and guidance. It's so easy to get focused on the younger ones because they need so much from you but that incident was a reminder that I really need to work on balancing my attention and realize that my older kids need me just as much as my younger ones do. It was a lesson in humility for sure and reminded me once again, to be extending grace to other moms; the same kind of grace I need. I'm most certainly thankful for this particular chaperone's grace in the situation; it made a discouraging moment a little easier to bear. The great news is there will be more field trips and more opportunities for them to put into practice the principles we are trying to instill in them. They will fail; they will succeed. How they handle those successes and failures will be the fruit of our labors!

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

A Time to Pray for Change

'Have not I commanded thee? Be strong and of a good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed: for the Lord thy God is with thee whithersoever thou goest.' ~Jos. 1:9

The end of the school year is coming upon us and for most of us it is a welcomed sight! No more packing school lunches, making sure homework is done, activities slow down (theoretically) and we can look forward to the lazy days of summer. I don't know how you feel, but I love having my children home for the summer. It’s with the end of the year approaching that I have been thinking about public school, its students and our teachers a lot.

We hear and read so many articles about 'public school' and these days most of them are not singing it's praises. I've written before about the "why" we put our kids in public school and what some of the misconceptions are with regard to God being in the school. (Link: A Time for Public School.) While I do believe what I wrote in that post is still relevant and needs to be understood, there are so many other things that have people abuzz these days with regard to public school. I am not interested in getting into the issues of public school. The majority of us know what they are. Some people have an accurate understanding of what is going on and others are very misinformed and have a skewed understanding. To this, I will only say that if you are genuinely concerned for public school and the welfare of the student's then please, find articles from unbiased sources. Don't just go looking for articles from sources that support your negative thinking of public school; be willing to hear the other side.

There are innocent victims in this war on public school. The teachers who give of themselves sacrificially to teach our children because they DO care become casualties of this war. A couple news articles about teachers who do harmful things to students or who have off-base ideas about education are not the norm and we need to have sense enough to recognize that. The majority of teachers are teachers for all the right reasons. Every time we make a choice to put down public school we are doing so much more than criticizing our Government and the curriculum they've chosen. We are criticizing every teacher and every student and every family who make up these public schools. We are making a choice to speak negatively about a career that thousands of people have spent their lives devoted to. And when I say devoted I mean DEVOTED. Unless you witness firsthand what a public school teacher has to go through when these changes arise and the tears of frustration they shed over what they know is detrimental to the students learning and yet they stick around because they truly love the kids then you have no idea how hurtful  negative attitudes toward public school are. 

The other victims are the students themselves. Do you think they care about words like 'Common Core'? No they don't. They just want to go to school, make some friends, learn some stuff and have fun. Every time we criticize public school we are putting down these innocent students....who are remarkable children by the way. Christians, I would ask that you stop speaking as though children in the public school are bad kids and will negatively influence your dear innocent children. You do realize your own child has a sin nature just like every other child and could just as easily negatively influence the public school kids, right? And how do you know that a public school child won't POSITIVELY influence your child?  Parents need to understand this and stop instilling the idea that as Christians we should fear the public school and those within its walls.

My heart is burdened for public school; don't misunderstand. I know things are seriously wrong with our education system and I know our Government does not have the best interest of our children in mind. I also know that change does not happen by running away in fear. Many of the people who are speaking out in anger over what is going on in our schools sadly are doing only that; talking. It takes a whole lot more than talking badly about something to turn things around. 

To end I'd like to offer some advice from a family who is in the trenches: PRAY. Instead of criticizing people for keeping their kids in the school use that energy and pray for our public schools, its teachers, the students and their families. Pray for our Government and the leaders implementing these changes. PRAYER most certainly changes things so let’s take that negative energy being directed at the public school and turn it into positive energy by praying for change. Also, if you happen to come across a teacher this summer, THANK them for their willingness to invest in America's future.

***To my fellow Christians who are in the trenches with us, here is a book recommendation for you. I have gleaned valuable information from it!****

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Things Don't Always Go as Planned!

"The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusted in him, and I am helped:therefore my heart greatly rejoiceth; and with my song will I praise him." ~Ps. 28:7

When you are a planner, as I am, curve balls can be tough to handle. The past couple of weeks have been challenging as I try to balance life and my new adventure of going back to school. I have had to be more organized and manage my time more wisely than I ever have. And isn't it always the way that as soon as you begin to do something good, that bad things begin to happen. The enemy loves to see us get discouraged and on the verge of giving up and he has certainly tested me lately.

I was sharing with the ladies in my Bible study last week how my very first assignment was not without its glitches. Things I have never struggled being able to do on the computer all of a sudden became obstacles in me getting my work done. As a planner, my game plan has been to be one or two steps ahead throughout this whole class, so that when the unexpected happens I'm not at the last minute freaking out that I still am not done my assignment. I wanted to submit my first essay early so one evening after the younger ones were in bed and my older ones were busy working on motorcycles with their dad I decided to seize the opportunity to get it done. As I was writing the last paragraph the power went out! We were not in the middle of a rain, snow or wind storm. It was perfectly calm outside so it was confusing why it went out. We later learned that an accident had occurred up the road and took out a power line. We did not get it back that evening and by morning when I was able to turn on the computer, I found my work was not recoverable. And it hadn't been saved. So I had to start over.

Another part of my game plan is to get up early, before the kids do, to listen to my lectures uninterrupted. This morning I began listening to my lecture and shortly into it had to stop because Tess came running downstairs (at 5:30 am!). I had to explain to her that it was not wake up time and bring her back to her bed. Well, last night Jena threw up. When I walked into the room I learned she had thrown up again in the night, though in her bucket this time (thank you Lord!). I then proceeded to get the bucket cleaned up, made sure she was alright and then told them both to try and rest some more. I came back to my lecture and not long after had to stop again because the boys (being boys) managed to get into some mischief (have I mentioned my kids don't sleep?) and so I had to stop and deal with that. While I did mange to hear the entire lecture, I missed so much from all the stopping and starting that I am going to have to listen to it again.

Those are just a few things that have gotten in the way of "my plan".

I could choose to complain, whine, get angry or give up. I could make a choice to decide God is wrong and doesn't know what He is doing by sending these obstacles my way. I have decided however, to trust God. I'm not saying I do this easily though. It is something I have to purpose to do because my flesh instinctively wants to worry about the fact that all 7 of my kids could end up throwing up by the end of the week or get angry with fact that I am not as ahead as I would like to be despite all my planning. Instead I am purposing to look at all of this as "for my good" (Rom.8:28) and rely on His strength. I cannot do any of this without God's help. I need Him every hour and it is only when I make a choice to trust God rather than give into my flesh that I overcome the obstacles successfully.

God has been so good to me these past few weeks. When I lay down at night I can only think to praise Him and thank Him for what he allowed me to accomplish that day. He has been teaching me now more than ever, how to rely on His strength and it's been a precious gift amid some not so precious moments!

*I NEED THEE EVERY HOUR by Fernando Ortega

Friday, May 1, 2015

A Time for Changes, New Chapters and Much Prayer!

"The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man 

availeth much."  ~James 5:16b

Our lives get so busy don't they? At the beginning of each month I start making out my calendar and usually it's not filled in too much and I think it's possible to have a quiet month. It doesn't take long before those days slowly fill up with stuff though and before I know it the days get fuller and fuller. I've written before about the importance of having wisdom when it comes to commitments and not becoming so busy that you no longer have family time. This is not what I am talking about. I'm talking about the things that can't be avoided...a visit from family, appointments at the doctor, meetings, a birthday here and there, dump runs, yard work, date night! All things that are good and some necessary to do and all things that slowly fill up the calendar.

Over the years I have found myself daily praying for wisdom. Not just wisdom in raising my children (which is SO important and something we all need to be doing) but wisdom for the day to day. I'm so thankful for the verse in James that says, " If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him." I don't know about you but Ben and I need a LOT of wisdom when it comes to raising this family and navigating life and it brings us so much comfort to know that God wants to give it to us in abundance if we just ask!

One bit of wisdom that God gives and is so helpful in navigating life is the verse in Proverbs that says, "Without counsel purposes are disappointed: but in the multitude of counsellors they are established (15:22)." There are so many times in life when we have decisions to make; big decisions or small they all require thought, wisdom and time to seek out God's will in the matter. One way that God helps us is by the people he puts into our lives who maybe have had to make a similar decision and can help us by offering insight that we haven't thought of. Sometimes they have just been around long enough and have seen people in similar situations make a mistake that had big consequences and they can warn us or they can be a prayer warrior for us as we are making the decision. It is so foolish of us when we let pride get in the way instead of using the wisdom God has put right in front of us: His Word and His people!

It is because of this that I turn to you, my readers (thanks have no idea what a blessing you are!) and ask for prayer. Life has been and is getting very busy. It is a good kind of busy as we see the Lord working but I have never felt more inadequate as I have recently. I am thankful that God chooses to use our family when He does but it is such a humbling feeling when He does. Who am I? God certainly does not need me to accomplish His will and yet, thankfully, He sets aside a small part for me to fulfill. I'm excited and impatient at the same time, to see what the future has for our family but we certainly need all the wisdom God has to offer us as well as the "multitude of counsellors". We also need prayer warriors and while I know we have several I also know we can't have too many! If you would take the time, when the Lord puts our family on your hearts, to pray for some of the specific needs below we would appreciate it so much! Don't forget to scroll down and learn about a HUGE prayer God answered for us!

Please Pray!
Photo Credit: Kristina O'Brien

* I begin taking classes on Monday as I work toward a diploma in Biblical Counseling. I need prayer for good retention of information, time management ability and direction as I choose my next classes.

* We need wisdom for a decision that we are in the process of making. I'm not able to give details at this time but know that your prayers would be so much appreciated. We want the Lord to be clear and close the door if it's not His will. We do not want to force God into any decision for our family and want to be sure of His will in this matter.

* I was recently asked to speak at a ladies banquet in June. Please pray the Lord would give me wisdom to know what He wants me to touch upon. This is one of those "who am I?" moments. I'm humbled by the request and want to make sure that any words I speak that day are of the Lord and not of me.

* Ben's position at work changed recently and while it is going very well for him it still has a bit of a learning curve. Pray for him that he would have wisdom and a good testimony before his peers and that God would continue to teach him what He needs to do this job well.

* That as a family we would purpose to "Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil." (Eph.6:11)


With the changes for Ben at work came new hours, meaning he gets home a bit later than he did before. We, along with two other ladies, hold a Good News Club in our kid’s school on Friday afternoons; we just finished up our 6th year. In all those years, Ben has been the Bible story teacher but with the changes it looked like he would no longer be able to do that. When he first took the position he went to his new supervisor and explained the situation and was told that he could leave early on Friday's to finish out this year. We were still unsure about next year. We took to our faithful prayer warriors and asked that they pray for Ben to be able to continue leaving early on Friday's to teach, but if that would not be allowed, for God to provide someone different and make it clear who that someone should be. Two weeks ago, Ben went to his supervisor again and they discussed it. Without hesitation his boss told him he could leave early every Friday next year to continue teaching Good News Club! This is such a huge praise and we could not be happier with the way God answered. We are grateful to those who committed to praying about this with us. Your prayers were answered!

Thursday, April 16, 2015

A Time for "Happy Cupcake"

"But the very hairs of your head are all numbered." 
~Matt. 10:30

I've been doing some organizing, purging and cleaning the past couple of weeks because it was desperately needed. I just did this in the fall and yet we still seem to be over run with STUFF! I came across a few things that needed to be put into the kids memory boxes and as I was looking through Tess' something struck me as funny. Her first phrase awhile back was, "Happy cupcake!" Don't ask me why, other than the girl is obsessed with food. The first thing she says when she wakes up in the morning is, "food?" and it's what she says upon getting up from her nap, and what she says riding in the get the point. In her memory box I found the knitted hat that she was given at the hospital the day she was born. Our hospital has dear ladies who knit hats for the babies and make blankets for them. Tess' hat looks like a cupcake! I had forgotten about that and just started laughing when I saw how perfect it was for her. We could never have known then that her first phrase would be "happy cupcake" and yet the Lord knew. I love how he cares about details like that. Those little, seemingly insignificant things really make me smile. It's easy to see God when he's doing big things in our lives and think, "Wow, I'm so blessed". The big things are great and I am thankful for how God works them out but I am especially thankful when I see God in the smallest of things.
It's hard to see God in the smallest of things when we are too busy to stop and recognize it. I know He's there always, in every detail and yet so many times I miss the blessing He is trying to give me because I'm so focused on a task or my plan. How many times have I missed the blessing? I'm afraid to say, too many times. The God who cares about every hair on my head, certainly cares about the little things in my life and too often I forget about that. The simple task of putting something away in my daughter's memory box reminded me that I need to stop and see God in the little things because I'm missing out on too many blessings! I'm thankful that God can use the mundane in my life, like cleaning, to speak to me. He really does meet us right where we are at and if the only place He can get my attention is at the kitchen sink or in the attic as I sort clothes then that is where He'll meet me. I suspect though, that He would prefer to meet me in a place that is less busy and hectic and I'm thankful for this reminder today. To slow down and stop and really HEAR God. I needed to be reminded to consult God and let Him lead my day, not in the big things, that's easy to do but in the little, mundane things...because it's HIS plan and not mine that I should be focused on.

On the subject of keeping memories for our kids I thought I would share what I do. I'm not overly sentimental. I don't save every scrap of paper my kids doodle on or every word they write. I have heard the idea of taking digital photos of your kids work and then saving it on a disk. I think that is such a great idea and if I was a sentimental person, I would totally do this! What I do is I buy a photo box (the kind you can get for $2 at a craft store) when my child is born. In it I keep things I think will be cool to have in the future and cool for them to look at like the hat they are given at birth from the hospital, their hospital band (to show them just how small they really were) and school papers. My favorite things to save from school are the Kindergarten and 1st grade writing papers. The progression is so neat to see and the sentence topics usually crack us up! Class pictures and report cards are another thing I save. Sometimes I will keep drawings or something written but really I don't keep a ton of that stuff because the way my kids draw and write I'd need two storage bins a piece to contain it all! As it is I'm running out of room to store my little shoe box sized memory boxes (a high shelf in one of the closets has worked well for this). Also I keep a journal. I was never good at filling in baby books...not
even with my first one. So shortly after Noah was born and I realized this about myself I decided to instead buy a journal and write about his progress every few months. Little did I know then that I'd have 7 books to write in so the "every few months" part is more like once or twice a year but it still keeps a good record of the major things and I think it's something they will look forward to reading! I plan to give them their book on their 16th birthday.

What do you do to preserve memories without the memories overtaking your space?

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

A Time for Distracted Driving

Since April is Distracted Driving Month I decided to spend a little time talking about it. This topic is one of my "don't get me started" topics. We all have one or seven of those and this is one of mine, especially cell phone use and driving.

Almost 8 years ago Ben and I were out in Washington State for 4 months for his job. We had our 3 boys at the time and I was expecting boy #4. I still remember where I was sitting when I received an email from a family member informing me that a girl who I had grown up with was killed in a car accident in my home state. She was on her cell phone with a client and when she bent down to pick it up she lost control of her car and crashed. I had not had the opportunity to know Heather as an adult. I still remembered her as the little girl who lived across the street and who I would see in the summers swimming in the lake and playing on the beach because our families' camps were next to each other. I remember feeling so sad that her sweet life was cut so short and I remember the heartache I felt for her parents and brother, who I knew had to be devastated. Since her death her mother has worked tirelessly to raise awareness for distracted driving. While the awareness that has been created because of Heather's accident is good, it could never replace having Heather here, which of course is what anyone would prefer. Because of Heather's story and because of her mother, Judy, I have learned to never have my phone out when I am driving. I shared with Judy once that every time I hear my phone ring or the ding of a text coming in I always, always think of Heather and pray for her family. In order to be sure that the curiosity of who is trying to get a hold of me doesn't get the better of me I keep my cell phone in a small, zippered pouch inside my purse. This way there is no way I can easily fish it out. If I want to see who is calling that badly I force myself to pull over and stop the vehicle before even looking at my phone. I don't just do this for the safety of me and my children, I do it for the safety of those around me. I wholeheartedly repeat Judy's message, "Please put your cell phones away while driving"!

We all know that there are so many other ways we can be distracted behind the wheel. Before cell phones we'd often hear of someone loosing control of their car because they were fiddling with the radio station buttons. There will always be something there to distract us while driving, which is why we have to train ourselves to be vigilant drivers. One of the main distractions I have is the kids. It's a rare day I am driving and don't have the kids with me and I can't tell you how many times they ask me to look at something they are doing while I'm driving. It takes kids awhile to grasp the concept that when a parent is driving they can't be catering to their needs!  A simple thing like training your children to amuse themselves in the car, and not need you to meet a million needs while you are driving is helpful. I am always saying to my kids, "guys, mom is driving and I can't help you right now. You need to wait patiently until I park the car." If your child absolutely needs your help right away then pull over. Those extra minutes added onto your trip because you have to pull over could not only save you and your children's lives but those of the drivers around you.

I often wonder what is going through the minds of people who allow themselves to be distracted while they are driving whether it is because they are on their cell phones or because a woman is putting her make-up on (believe it or not there are enough accidents caused by this that it's a statistic!). Does it ever cross their minds that they could seriously hurt themselves or someone else? I realize we all wish we had a few extra hours in the day and we feel the need to multi-task but multi-tasking behind the wheel comes with risks so high I wonder why anyone takes them. I could not live with myself if I caused harm to someone or their loved one because I made a choice to be distracted rather than mindful when I was behind the wheel. We hear so much about teenagers getting into accidents because they were driving carelessly and we wonder why? If the adults aren't even setting the right example before them how can we expect them to perform any better? I can only be responsible for myself and I know that it is important to me that my children see me driving as carefully as I can, eliminating all the distractions that are within my control because this is the kind of drivers I want them to be.

So in light of April being Distracted Driving month, please help raise awareness and help save lives. If you are on the phone with someone and you know they are driving while they are talking to you, hang up with them and tell them to call you when they are no longer behind the wheel or pulled over and parked. One thing Heather's mom always says is how thankful she is it wasn't her Heather was speaking to on the phone when she crashed. Judy and her husband Rick, long before Heather's accident had taught their children to not be on their phones while driving and would refuse to talk to them if they knew they were driving. Teach your teens that if they are in the car with someone who is driving distracted to ask them to stop whatever it is they are doing because they don't feel safe. If the friend refuses tell your kids to get out of that vehicle and call you or someone they trust for a ride.  I don't know about you but I'd rather be sore with aching legs from walking 5 miles than end up dead. Think I'm exaggerating or overreacting? Watch a few distracted driving videos on YouTube....but not on your phone....while driving! I keep my "Maine Remembers Heather" magnet on my fridge to be reminded of what can happen if we don't drive carefully. It has also opened up dialogue with our children about who Heather was, why Maine remembers her and how important it is to drive responsibly.

****April 2nd is also Autism Awareness Day. Light it up blue for Autism. Heather Dawn was on the phone with a client's mother when she had her accident. Her client was Liam and he had Autism. Because of this Judy has created the The Heather and Liam Connection to help raise awareness and help for Autism. Take a minute to click on the link and see all the work they are doing and if you feel so led, make a donation!***

Monday, March 23, 2015

A Time for a Budget Friendly Make-Over

Over February vacation I began the task of giving our playroom a make-over. A funny thing has kids are growing up! For many years the finished room in our basement served us well as a place where all of the kids could play and I didn't worry about the mess...too much. Since the girls share two rooms and have plenty of room for their toys I decided to weed out the toys that the boys no longer play with and switch the room into more of a game room. I was working with a $500 budget so I had to be thrifty and search for bargains to make my money go as far as possible. This is one of those room make-overs that is ACTUALLY budget friendly. 

To start I needed to paint the walls. I know a dark color seems like an odd choice for a basement room that has minimal day-light but I wanted a color that would hide the marks and scratches; my kids can be really rough on walls! The carpet in this room is the carpet that was there when we bought the house and is a dark blue color so I needed something that would coordinate well with it. Grey is what I landed on and the pictures really don't do the color justice. I love the way it turned out! The doors and shelf also had to be painted so I chose a very light gray that is almost white. 

*The shelf holds board games, Nerf guns & Star Wars gear. I also bought bins to
store a few of the toys we did keep like Lincoln Logs and Rescue Heros.

The only seating we have had in the room is a futon, which we use when we have people staying over. To update it I purchased a new futon cover. I wanted more seating but because we do have to fold out the futon at times I didn't want seating that was bulky and hard to move. Bean bag chairs were the obvious choice and the kids love them! I do have a small wooden chair that I am in the process of painting to match the room and for what the kids do down here, it makes for plenty of seating.

Who doesn't love a chalk board wall?! The wall you see in the picture is a removable wall, because the furnace is behind it and it allows us access to it when it needs servicing. I was nervous about using chalkboard paint because I wasn't sure if it was easy to work with our not. It's actually not hard to use at all; in fact, the boys each had a section and painted it themselves. It turned out really great. I hung a bucket off of the beam (a bucket I already had) to put the chalk in. In front of the chalkboard are two 4-in-1 table top games that were given to the kids last Christmas. The table is just a folding table we already owned and eventually Ben is going to make a table on wheels, which will also have storage underneath for the ones we are not using. In the foreground of this picture you also see a black chest. I painted it and inside we store the kids costumes and all the accessories to the game tables. On top, we took the chess board/backgammon table that came with the game tables and drilled it to the top of the chest. Now there is a chess board always out (my boys LOVE chess) and the pieces are stored inside the chest.

I wanted some sort of sport game for the boys to do inside but was nervous to spend money on something that was poorly made and would break after a week. My boys play hard and things get broken! I found this basketball hoop on Amazon and we love it. It's meant to fit over a door but it didn't work on our doors so Ben took the hooks off and just drilled it into the beam. That's one of the perks of living in a post and beam house! The rim is metal and has springs so you can be rough on it and it's not going to break. It also came with a small basketball that, surprisingly, bounces really well on the carpet. The boys have spent hours playing with this already.

Then there were the accessories that I wanted to get. On top of the bookcase in the picture to the right
is a very small CD player. It's the perfect size and the sound quality is great! I didn't want to spend a lot of money because they all have CD players in their bedrooms. I also didn't want anything big and bulky because the space is small. Above the bookcase I purchased a frame and plan to put a picture of each of the kids in it, I just haven't had the time yet. I also had to purchase curtains for the two small windows. I ordered two valances and they work perfectly! One thing I did but didn't have to was replace all the light switch and outlet plates. The last things I bought was a DVD player and two wooden signs. One has "Family Rules" on it and the other is one that I have been wanting for a long time. My grandfather used to sing "You are my Sunshine" to me all the time when I was little. Every time I hear this song it reminds me of him!

We are all so pleased with the way the room turned out. I will break down what I purchased for the remodel and (if possible) will include a link to where I got the items. Anything you see in the room, but do not see it listed with a price, is an item we already owned.

*Paint: $160
*Bean Bag chairs: $60
*Futon Cover: $30
*Basketball Hoop: $20
*CD Player: $38
 *DVD player: $30
 *Wooden Signs: $25
*Bins: $35
*Clock: $9
*Light switch/outlet plates: $16
*Picture Frame: $18
  LINK  **The day I purchased this free shipping was offered**
*Valance X 2: $22

TOTAL: $463.00

So there you have it! This is how we remodeled our basement room for under $500. I loved the challenge of finding just the right items I wanted for this space and searching for the right price so I could stay within my budget. I know I could have gotten some of these things cheaper or even free if I had had the time to go to different thrift stores or ask around. Since this is money that was gifted to us, I felt less guilty splurging a little!

Since there are still plenty of rooms left in our house in need of a make-over, feel free to share your budget-friendly tips. I'm sure I'm going to need them!

Thursday, March 12, 2015

A Time to Be That Mom

Blessed are they that dwell in thy house: 

they will be still praising thee. Selah. ~Psalm 84:4 

Today I was that mom. You know the one that gets the looks. The one people are thinking has lost control. I thought it would be a good idea to take the girls out to the store today because there were a few things I needed, nothing pressing but getting out of the house would do us all some good. I expected them to be well-behaved because my children, typically, are good in public and when the trip involves the dollar store my chances of well-behaved children is even better because there is always a special treat involved when we go to the dollar store. Thinking in my head, "I got this", was my first mistake. Arrogantly thinking I would have perfectly obedient children was my second.

From the moment we left the house my 4-year-old was non-stop asking for things. From her brothers notebook she found in the truck to a mint to what she could have at the Dollar Store. The more I reminded her to stop asking for things the more she asked. When I left the house, I had looked out the window and saw the sun shining. It never occurred to me to check the temperature because yesterday it was a balmy 50, so sunshine obviously meant today would be balmy too. It wasn't. It was 28 and very windy. As we get to the store and are walking across the parking lot (because "I got this" so I don't need to contain the babies in the double stroller) my sweet girls are in their spring jackets with no hats because remember, in my mind it was supposed to be 50 degrees today, screeching that it's cold. My 2-year-old who has a deep, booming voice is yelling, "Tessie cold, mommy!" over and over and over. As I'm not paying attention to where we are stepping because I'm too busy trying to persuade the onlookers with my radiant smile that "I got this", the 2-year-old and 4-year-old step in a huge puddle of water. When we get inside. I put the 1-year-old in the cart, strap her in and she starts sucking her thumb, holding her taggie and looking like a little angel. This gives me hope. 

I had decided that having Tess sit in the basket of the extra small cart and burying her with all my dollar store treasures was a better idea than using the double stroller and trying to fit everything in the undercarriage. As we start walking around the 4-year-old proceeds to touch everything pink and ask if we can buy it. What the 2-year-old hears when I say no is yes so she stands up and tries to put said items in the cart. By aisle two the amount of times I had said "sit down" and "stop asking me to buy things" was discouraging. When we got to the toiletries section I stocked up on toothpaste and toothbrushes as I always do and then fixated on a shampoo that caught my eye. I never buy shampoo for myself at the dollar store because one of the things I like to treat myself to is really good shampoo. This one though, looked salon quality and said it was comparable to Paul Mitchell's tea tree shampoo. Even though I knew this was a gimmick to get me to buy it and even though I knew that it would likely leak everywhere because the cap did not close securely I still convinced myself it was a good idea to put it in the cart...with my 2-year-old...who was having obedience issues. When I came out of my daydream of having found salon quality shampoo at the DOLLAR STORE, I realized that the whole time my 4-year-old had been rearranging the nail polish display WHILE the girl working there was actually stocking nail polish. I didn't just get a look. I got a dirty look. 

I knew at that point I should probably just cut my trip short but I managed to convince myself that this wasn't going as badly as I thought and that "I got this". So on we went. The 4-year-old continued to ask me to buy her all the pink things she saw...and a couple purple ones too, the 2 year-old continued to stand up, which at this point was a big deal because each time she stood up all the items I was placing on her was falling under her and when she'd sit back down she would sit on all the bottles of shampoo. The next thing I know I have a 2-year-old who has tea-tree smelling shampoo all over her jeans, hands and just about everything else in the cart. Of course I had thought to bring wet wipes with me but because "I got this", I had decided not to bother because I would only be gone about an hour. I had nothing to wipe this shampoo up with so I had to grab a dish towel (why not a roll of paper towel? I.Do.Not.Know.) and start wiping up the toddler and wiping up the items in the cart. The 4-year-old is not happy because not only does she have to hold the bottle of shampoo for me the rest of the trip, the towel I choose to wipe stuff up with (and now have to buy) was not pink. All the while my angel of a 1-year-old...well she remained angelic, which I am sure is the only reason I got anyone to smile at us at all.

This is when I decided that it was time to head to the cash and go home. As we start unloading the items off of the 2-year-old I noticed my 4-year-old frantically grabbing things from the cart and giving them to the cashier herself. I should have thought something of that but at this point I had no capacity for foresight. I just told myself, "she's such an eager helper". I managed to get through the awkward explanation to the cashier about why I had already used the dish towel I had not yet paid for gracefully and shortly we were on our way back to the truck. The girls did screech the whole walk across the parking lot that it was "too cold mommy" because my prediction of a 50 degree day was still not being realized. It remained 28 degrees. A quick stop to my favorite coffee shop and we were driving home.

On the CD that was playing in the truck the song, "Be Still my Soul" came on. The first line says, "Be still my soul, the Lord is on your side, bear patiently the cross of grief or pain. Leave to thy God to order and provide;" And I began crying. I had gone into this trip thinking "I got this". I had gone into this trip with a sense of pride that my girls would be little angels as we walked around the store. What I should have done before we left, and what I usually do, is pray and ask God to help me. I had forgotten to include God in our day and the results spoke very loudly to me today...even louder than my 2-year-olds booming voice. Whenever we start thinking, "I got this", we need to take a step back and remember that it is only because of God that we can do anything, and ask for His help! While this song was playing God used it to show me that even though this trip didn't go the way I had planned it to go it was okay because he was going to use some of the things that happened to show me what I need to be more diligent about as a mom but still realize that no child is ever going to do everything perfectly. Even though we teach them to obey that doesn't guarantee they will ALWAYS obey. I don't always obey so how can I put the expectation of perfect obedience onto my children? I need to just do my job of "mom" the best way I can with God's help and trust HIM to provide the results. This trip to the store also taught me that I need to be more compassionate to other moms I meet in the store who may be dealing with an unruly child. Instead of assuming she's not doing her job as a mom I need to be giving her a warm smile that sends her the message of , "I understand" and say a silent prayer for her. If the moment allows maybe even offer her a word of encouragement. 

Safe at home, tears all dried up and with a refreshed spirit after meeting with God on my ride home, I began to unload the items we had purchased. My once full bottle of tea tree shampoo was now half a bottle and I realized that my "eager" helper was not so much an eager little helper but rather a deceptive little helper as I found a few items that made their way into our home I had not approved of. Oh well, I guess we can always put to use art supplies and coloring books. I realized I had forgotten the two things I actually went to the dollar store for but hey, who needs soap? As I looked around I got a very clear sense that no, I don't "got this" but I do know who does and I am so thankful that HE is always there to "order and provide".  

Thursday, February 26, 2015

A Time to Build Up

It is clear in God's word that we are to "build up" one another. In other words, encourage each other! Being an encouragement to others, whether it is when I encounter you face to face, on Facebook or through this blog, is something that is really important to me. It's something I pray about and try to be very intentional about. Encouragement can manifest itself in many forms and I am fortunate to have several encouraging people in my life that I can learn from. Recently I have a lot of friends who are looking for ways to provide for their family from home. We live in a time where there are more opportunities then ever to earn an income from the comfort of your home. This is a really great thing and for some, the difference between putting food on the table or not. I want to use this blog post to highlight some of the businesses my friends have with you. Maybe one of these great products they sell will interest you! If it doesn't, that's fine but I would ask that you take a few minutes to encourage them by clicking the links, taking a look and maybe even hitting the 'like' button on their Facebook pages!

1. Thirty-One with Kathy: Kathy recently became a consultant of Thirty-One products, as a way to earn money to bless others! That's right! Kathy has raised her family and has a full-time job but wanted to have extra funds in order to give to others who are in need. Whether it's a Pastor who needs encouragement or a neighbor in need. However the Lord leads her and her husband to give, is how they use all the money she earns selling these products. She is such a testimony to me of someone who is kind, generous and always goes above and beyond for others! If you have never had experience with Thirty-One products I will tell you that I have always been pleasantly surprised with the pieces I have purchased. They are of quality construction and always roomier than you expect. Click the link to go to Kathy's page and maybe consider hosting a party or making a purchase from an existing party.
2New Hampshire Home Made Creations: My good friends recently started their own Etsy shop selling things they make; from furniture to purses! There is a piece in their shop, a hand made wall tree, that is absolutely beautiful! It is quality craftsmanship with attention to detail and definitely worth taking a look at. I am purchasing the 'cup cozies' to give the kids teachers for Teacher Appreciation Day and the cups to go along with it (the cups are not on the site yet but will be soon) because I have a set and use it everyday! I think this set with a gift card to a coffee shop is the perfect way to say thank you to the awesome ladies who teach my kids each day! Click the link and encourage this young couple...and buy a cup cozie; you won't regret it!
New Hampshire Home Made Creations
NH Home Made Creations Facebook Page

3. It Works! with Tara: It Works is a company I had not heard of before. Tara and I went to high school together and I began seeing her post special's the company was offering on facebook. One particular offer really sparked my interest and so I contacted her and dug deeper. I have since become a fan of the products I have used. I am still very new to it so I would not be the best person to ask questions about it (that's Tara's job!) but I can tell you I am a satisfied customer. I  particularly love the line of supplements they offer. The 'Greens'-Berry flavor is so good and I add a scoop to my morning smoothie. That is just the beginning of what they offer! From body wraps to skin and hair care it's all there and you can check it out for yourself by clicking the link!
It Works! with Tara

4. doTERRA essential oils with Amy: You may remember a blog post I wrote awhile back about my recent experiences with essential oils. If you missed it, you can read it HERE. Amy is the one who introduced me to essential oils and she also sells them. As the wife of a youth Pastor and a busy mom of 5 children who also homeschool's, selling essential oils has been a great way for her to not only earn a little extra money but also earn free oils for her and her family. Amy has a facebook page where she shares a lot of helpful information about the oils. Take a minute to visit and if you are interested in getting started with oils, leave her a message on her page!
Revealing Natural Solutions Facebook Page

5. Ambit Energy with Laura: This is a brand new one to me but I really wanted to share this with you! Laura is the sister of a friend of mine who has recently become a consultant with Ambit Energy. Her husband is attending seminary right now and they are raising 3 young children so in an effort to help make ends meet, Laura has signed up to sell energy. As it has been explained to me, Ambit provides energy and natural gas services in deregulated markets across the United States. In short, they can provide electricity through your current supplier at a reduced rate. I'm still learning about how this works but I am intrigued. Laura was sharing with me some great incentives this company offers to anyone who signs up including a 2-night hotel voucher and the ability to earn free energy! One thing to note is this is only available in 14 states currently, so click the link to see if you live in a state it is offered in. Lucky for me I do live in one of them!
*Ambit Energy
*Ambit Energy with Laura
*Prospective Consultants Click HERE! (FREE enrollment ends tomorrow night at midnight, Pacific time)

This list contains a lot of fabulous people selling some great products! I hope you can spare some time to show them a little encouragement and visit them via the links I provided. If you are reading this and you have a home business or Etsy shop and you'd like to get the word out, you have an invitation to include the link and a brief description in the comment section! And if I may add...while you are 'liking' Facebook pages, don't forget to stop by mine and show a little love by hitting the 'like' button or becoming a follower of this blog!
To Everything There is a Season Facebook Page