Last night I got to spend some time with the cutest little sweeties I know. We went bear hunting in the kitchen, climbed mountains and crossed rivers. We imagined that the living room rug was a pond and we jumped in and swam.
We used cookie cutters and playdough to create some pretty cool sculptures, none of which I got a picture of because sometimes you just have to put your phone down and enjoy the moment.
There was one moment I enjoyed the most though. One simple tiny moment in time that wrapped my heart up and melted me right there on the spot.
My oldest grandson (3) came up and stood in front of me as I was sitting on the couch. He continued building with his playdough as he snuggled back into me and I rested my head on his shoulder. I said “Ryan, I think I’ll just rest here a minute”. He didn’t miss a beat and replied- “It otay, I wuv you”.
Yes, he can have anything he wants for Christmas this year.
That simple moment in time, seconds really, made all the difference in my whole day.
Simple, needed, loved.
There are so many worries in this world, so many challenges and uncertainties and the day had been long. But this moment refreshed me. This moment made my heart melt. Such a simple phrase from an innocent child who means what he says.
As I melted inside, I felt the Lord’s gentile nudge. I felt the Lord say that this is what He wants for us too. He wants us to come to him. To lay our heads on His shoulder and give Him our burdens. He wants to comfort, protect, and heal. He wants us to get refreshed from all the worries of this world and to know that in Him we can have peace.
He wants us to have simple moments in His presence where He can say “I love you”.
I pray that you will receive His love today and have a much-needed rest from your burdens. Remember His yoke is easy and His burden is light.
I pray today that you wrap your arms around Jesus and let Him whisper in your ear. “My child, I LOVE YOU”.
Hey everyone, I can’t believe how long it’s been since I’ve written. Honestly, I’ve missed it. But life happens and you know how that is. And to be real, I just needed a break from a lot of things. I needed to step back and reevaluate where I was and where I’m going.
I love the picture below. I took it the other day while I was taking a walk. The sky was beautiful, the day was warm with a light breeze and I felt the weight of the world sitting pretty squarely on my shoulders. I think the problem lies with the way I was looking at the many issues I was facing. I didn’t see a clear way out and I felt like I had to fix everything.
I can’t fix everything. I can’t fix much of anything.
Shocker, right? Why do I do that every single time? Why do I look at the situations and pray about them and give them to God and then pick them right back up and tell Him what I need from Him? As if the God of the universe can’t handle things without my not-so-subtle suggestions.
If you are like me then today you are facing some challenges. Some of those challenges may just be simple changes that are taking place in your life and you’re struggling with the adjustment. Others may be devastating and you are struggling to even breath.
I want to encourage you today. I also want to encourage me today. I want us both to look outside the chains that lock us in and look to Jesus. He is the only one who can walk us through this crazy world. He is the one who will walk us beside the still waters even though we walk through the valley of death.
I love that. I receive that today. I hope you do too.
People cope with their hard times in all sorts of different ways. The way I deal with mine I’m sure looks a lot different than the way you deal with yours. There’s no one right way to deal with them. You just keep pushing and moving forward. I’ve never really been comfortable sharing my personal life but I feel like I have a story to tell. Let me start by telling you how hard life can be.
Hard is when your mom passes away from a tragic accident and you’re only 15.
Hard is seeing your family fall apart because of this loss.
Hard is moving forward in life when all you want is one more hug from her.
Hard is living without my mom.
Hard is receiving a special needs diagnosis when you thought everything was okay.
Hard is watching your husband cry because of the unknowns.
Hard is watching your baby be flown off to another hospital, hoping he will still be alive by the time you get there.
Hard is being taken back to the ICU and looking at your child’s chest with so many tubes and wires hooked to him and feeling so helpless.
Hard is wanting to have another baby but being hesitant because of the “what if’s”.
Hard is moving forward when all you want is a breather.
Through all of these hard times there has also been so much beauty. My grandparents are my saviors, they’ve been by my side through everything. My oldest sister graduated from graduate school this year and my middle sister runs her own successful boutique. I’ve recently rekindled a relationship with my brother. I have an incredible and supportive husband who always rescues me. My mother and father in-law love me like their own and my two babies are even better than I could have imagined.
Hard times don’t have to control you, instead they have the potential to shape you. I would be a completely different person and have a completely different life if I had let these hard times control me. I am so grateful for the people in my life that helped me move forward. I have hope in spite of the hard times. Like I said in the beginning – I didn’t stop pushing through and moving forward. You can too.
I’ll never forget the first night back at our new apartment after our honeymoon. We went to bed and as I laid my head down I felt something under my husband’s pillow. It was a picture of his dad. A picture that he had been sleeping with for years.
Now, I don’t mean to jump right into a deep conversation about tragedy but the ugly truth is life can be cruel. Sometimes we get hit so hard that our hearts feel like they will never recover.
I also want to preface this by saying that I have my husband’s full permission to write this today. He has read this blog and placed his stamp of approval on it. I would never share it otherwise.
My husband is my hero. He is a true general in the army of God, a walking testimony of a life that won’t give up.
But sometimes he hurts so desperately.
Sometimes he wants to quit and run and hide and not come out for a very long time and to be quite honest I don’t blame him. I have been there and I’m sure you have too.
So with all that said- let’s talk about the reality of life, the situations that we didn’t see coming and the path to healing that seems so far away.
I’ll start by telling you a piece of his story.
When my husband was just 15 years old he received a call that no one would ever want to receive. His biological father had just attempted suicide. My husband’s world spun out of control.
I don’t think there is anything worse than sitting by a hospital bed wondering why and searching for answers as you hold the hand of someone who is slipping away.
The answers will never come.
As my husband reeled from the loss, questioned his own worth, wondered if there was anything that he could have done, his little teenage heart filled with regret for not being enough to make his dad want to live.
As adults we know in our heads that it wasn’t about Ryan at all. We know that there were other things that plagued his dad, that he had lost hope and couldn’t see a road out of the troubles that overwhelmed him.
Our hearts don’t always get the memo from our heads though. Our hearts just plain break.
To be at such an integral age, barely a teen, no longer a child, definitely not an adult, but dealing with a situation beyond all imagination- Ryan began to withdraw inside.
He learned to cut off his emotions.
Trama often causes our bodies to go into a protective mode. He didn’t talk about what happened, he acted like he was fine, went along with his life like all was good in the world, but that picture remained hidden under his pillow. A desperate attempt at holding on to a life that was no longer.
The night that I discovered that picture under the pillow (I knew nothing about it before that). He tentatively took it from my hands and set it on the dresser. He told me that he guessed it could stay there for now. I tried to press for more information but it was clear that there would be no conversation to follow. In fact, it would be many years before any real conversation would occur.
Ryan turned away from God during that time. (understatement of the century)
He told me that he couldn’t believe that a God (any God) could exist in the midst of all the chaos and tragedy in the world because any real God would not allow all this.
Have you ever felt that way?
Before I married my husband I didn’t know any of this. I didn’t know about his dad, I didn’t know about his pain, I had no idea what was hidden behind all those closed doors because I didn’t know the doors existed.
I prayed. I didn’t know what else to do.
I want to tell you that God just healed every hurt, that he took all the pain away and that Ryan never has to feel all of that again but the truth is he still deals with that loss and will for the rest of his life. I’d be lying if I said otherwise and you would know it.
What I can tell you is this- God helped Ryan to recover. He came in and opened Ryan’s heart. He allowed the grieving and in the process he caused Ryan to have a compassion for others that I’ve never seen before. He showed Ryan how much he is truly loved, how it wasn’t his fault and how incredibly good Jesus is- even in the midst of the worst. He showed Ryan that a loving God does exist and although terrible things do happen, God has a plan for it all.
Ryan has a new perspective these days. He has come full circle.
So how do you deal with your deepest hurts? How did he?
One single second at a time and one simple prayer- “Jesus I don’t understand this, I can’t breath, I can’t do this, I need help, I need hope, I need something to hang on to, I think I need you.”
Ryan says that he has learned that God does not ever bring these things into our lives, instead he is the one that walks us through them. He tells me that God sees a big picture that we can’t even begin to comprehend and that God will not for even a second leave us or forsake us.
Talk about coming full circle.
As Ryan has walked through this life he has learned that what he goes through today someone may need to hear about tomorrow and that his own personal tragedies can be the very thing that saves someone else’s life.
None of us would ever choose to go through these situations but we don’t have to get stuck in them either. We can overcome. Jesus can heal, your life can have meaning, you can recover, you can be whole again, and your life most definitely has purpose.
Ryan has healed because of Jesus and in spite of the situation. If you are desperate for hope today, trust a very loving God who can help you through the very unloving world we live in. My husband is living proof that you can make it.
If you want to overcome the heartbreak and the pain there is only one place that you will find the healing you need. The Bible says to ask and you shall receive… so ask Jesus today. The road may be long but if he can walk my husband down that dusty old path of recovery then I believe with my whole heart that he can walk you down it too.
You don’t have to do anything by yourself. You have Jesus, you have us, and you can have hope- receive it today.
I got this little succulent at the start of all the chaos this year. Isn’t it just the cutest? I had no idea what it would become, what it was supposed to look like, or even how to take care of it.
When the weather started to change in the spring and it became warm enough to put the little guy outside I did. What happened next surprised me. That cute little plant took over. It grew and grew until I had to remove it from the pot it was in. Tiny new plants grew on it’s leaves and one good gust of wind sent them everywhere. I suddenly found myself pulling these tiny babies out of all my other plants.
I have since done some research. This succulent is nicknamed “The Mother of Many Daughters” & “The Mother of Thousands”. How cool is that? From a tiny adorable little plant to one that can’t be stopped and certainly one that makes an impression on anyone who gets close to it.
Every single time I bump the table it sits on, every time even a wisp of the wind blows, every time I look at that plant- it sends its tiny little ones on a journey to find new soil and new life grows. I have even found this plant growing in places it shouldn’t be able to.
I believe that’s what God sees in each of us.
He looks at us and he sees this minuscule person (my words not God’s) who has no idea what the right soil and a little “son” time will do. He sees how our lives can effect everything and everyone around us even when we are not consious of it. We may bump into people by chance, the wind may blow us to and fro and what we see as life’s crazy journey, God may be using to move us right where we are needed.
Today, trust that though you may feel tiny and insignificant, God can make you like this plant. Strong and mighty, powerful and effective, full of life that changes everything around you even when you aren’t aware of it.
Times have been crazy, the storms have been extreme and the soil may seem pretty rocky, but remember who is raising you up. Remember who loves you more than you can imagine. Remember Jesus today and what He did for you on that old rugged cross then remember that he didn’t stop there. He rose to raise you up too. He gave his life so you could thrive in yours. No matter what you are facing today, no matter what Covid has stolen, or what the political climate brings, remember who is walking you through it all. You can live today, you can grow, you can change, and you can make a difference.
Maybe, just maybe, you were created for such a time as this.
Oh, I have got to tell you guys- there have been so many ups and downs in this journey. I don’t even know where to start. It was about a year ago that we began taking our health more seriously and we really made so much progress.
I’m not going to pull any punches here, instead I’m going to state the obvious and say that this is hard. Like really hard.
Our lives got incredibly busy over the summer and I found that I was compromising probably more than I should have.
We also traveled more than we usually do, and, in the spring, we found ourselves in San Antonio Texas visiting our son. I don’t know about you but one of my favorite things to do while traveling is to eat. I absolutely love to try different restaurants and this short vacation was no different. Let me tell you- we had some of the very best Mexican food we have ever had on this trip.
Actually, we had it twice and in large quantities.
I rolled myself out of that place.
My mouth is salivating just thinking about it.
Then, as summer began, we went on a cruise to celebrate our 25th (closer to the 26th) anniversary. We had planned this trip with friends and were looking forward to just relaxing, celebrating, and eating… and eating… and eating.
Oh, that cruise food.
I tried to eat in moderation on that trip.
I really tried, but by the third day I had completely thrown moderation out the window and I was fully trying all the food.
And I do mean ALL.THE.FOOD.
I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again- when this girl does something, she does it right. Good and bad.
We got back from that big old boat and felt like big old boats ourselves.
We did manage to get back on track when we disembarked but oh it was so much harder. My husband kept going to the kitchen and threatening bad reviews on yelp. (He is seriously funny and usually in trouble…)
Thankfully we quickly got back on track (for the most part) and continued to maintain our progress.
I got an opportunity to visit my son again- this time we would meet in Dallas TX.
Guys, there is only so much resolve that I have and mine was melting away by the minute.
Texas is known for its BBQ and we found ourselves experiencing not only mouth-watering barbecue, but great little unique restaurants, some of the most amazing food trucks and family’s home cooking that fit every single bill.
My pants however did not fit anymore. (Okay- so they still fit, but not comfortably)
I guess the best part of this journey is that it doesn’t end. When I make the best choices, (tonight for example while I am writing this- I’m craving sweets and junk food, but instead I ate some amazing mango chicken and veggies) I see progress in myself.
And when I make the not so good choices… well the truth is that doesn’t mean that I’ve failed or that I’m not going to make the goals I’ve set.
Our minds tell us all sorts of things and when I got on the scale recently, I realized that all those months of good healthy decisions were not lost. Some of the pounds may have come back, but many of them haven’t. That means that where I’m starting today is much farther along than when we began this journey many months ago.
And what has happened inside of me is so different than where I was in my yo yo diet, you are not good enough, you will never succeed years.
Now, the scale is an object, but I am not. The scale is just a number, my pants are just a size, and my heart is no longer tied to any of them.
Do I get discouraged? Yep, but I also get motivated and hopeful. I get to see where I’ve been and where I’m going.
I get to try and fail and try and win. I get to pick myself up and next year as I write an update to this- I’ll probably have a few more wins and a few more losses to report but all of it will be a story of this amazing life that I’ve been gifted with.
I have been so blessed to have been able to visit my son and celebrate our anniversary in such an amazing way this year. When I put all of that into perspective, I wouldn’t change a thing. All those memories were worth a few numbers on the scale.
Soooooo completely worth it.
You are worth it too.
Start writing your story today. Quit worrying about perfection and just appreciate the progress.
You will win some and you will lose some but, in the end, it really is the journey that matters most. Take the leap today and enjoy the trip.
Do you realize the power you have when you and your spouse are on the same page? Not only do things change in your relationship, but there is an unbeatable power in the spiritual realm. When you stick together through the good and the bad the enemy loses ground.
The bible says that 1 can put 1000 to flight but 2 can put 10,000 to flight. How’s that for an increase in the odds?
Recently I was struggling. I was fighting through my emotions (really how bad can 1 persons emotions be?) I was fighting with my desire to speak my mind in situations that I have no place speaking my mind. (Oh please Lord put a muzzle over this girls mouth…) I was fighting with my own attitude, worth, purpose… (Okay, let’s just be honest and admit that sometimes I just plain can’t get it all together… at…all)
My husband snuggled up next to me as we were going to sleep and he rubbed my arm and prayed. He did this without me asking. He did this because I was not doing this myself and he knew that I needed a reset. He knew that I needed a perspective shift and I needed a reminder that one bad day, one bad week… or even a few bad years do not mean that I have failed in this life. (sometimes I can be pretty dramatic)
I did not need a lecture. I just needed me some Jesus. (actually I needed A LOT of Jesus)
Immediately I felt a difference.
My husband could have gotten irritated with me, he could have just said “woman get a grip”. And there are times he may have just done that. But this time, he chose what I should have chosen from the beginning.
Maybe he’s learning. Maybe we both are.
Guys, the more we can be unified as friends, parents, and most importantly in the spiritual aspect of our relationship the less power the enemy has over our lives.
It’s important to remember that your spouse is on your team. You are on the same side. Choose to be. Fight to be. Do whatever it takes to be.
Find common ground with your spouse and use that to build on.
There is power in being in agreement. Power in the word of God as well as in our families.
The bible says that when we get married we become one flesh- so why is it that we fight so hard against each other? Listen, the enemy knows that if he can get you on opposing sides he can remove all the power you have over your life. (and no I’m not being dramatic here… this one’s legit)
So stand strong together. Be there for each other. Be there when there are tough choices, and be there when mistakes are made. Be there rooting each other on through all of it. The good and the bad.
Let’s start taking back some ground in our lives. Stick together- pray for and with each other and watch what happens in your relationship.
“You may have to fight a battle more than once to win it.” (Margaret Thatcher) Isn’t that the truth? How many times have I decided that I was going to conquer the mountain before me only to be beat down by the first peak?
This is my year for…
I’m going to take that big leap into…
To be honest I think my internal GPS is on a permanent script of “recalculating”.
As I was sitting here today thinking about it all I realized that I have never accomplished any goal the way I thought I would.
I have taken backroads, off ramps, and shortcuts that always seemed to lead me the long way around.
I have taken the successes and failures of others to heart and compared my own life to theirs.
Through it all I have learned a few things and they’ve stuck with me:
No battle worth fighting is easy and in my experience once it is won (whatever the battle may be- health and nutrition, weight loss, addiction…)
We have to continue the fight to keep it in the winners bracket.
The minute I let my guard down is the minute I begin to slip back into my old ways. Now I don’t mean that the battle is always difficult, but it is always before me. Things I have thought I conquered years ago suddenly rear their ugly heads and I find myself having to make a conscious effort to put them back in their place.
I used to think that I was a failure because of those times. Now I realize that it’s just part of the process.
Do you want to win for good?
Then quit beating yourself up when you have to fight a battle over and over. It’s the battle that makes us strong, it gives us the ability to persevere, and ultimately be changed.
I love gold, but until you heat it up it contains all kinds of impurities. It’s the heat that allows those impurities to be removed and the beauty of the gold can then shine through.
You and I- we are like gold being refined. The fire that we hate, the battle that is long and tiresome- all of it is bringing us to a place where we can look back and see the beauty in it all.
The beauty in ourselves.
The kind of beauty that is so much deeper than what the mirror portrays.
We may have to fight a battle more than once to win it.
We may have to fight for months or years, but in the end I’ve never regretted the fight. I’ve always been glad I took on the challenge. Win or lose each and every battle has brought something out of me that I didn’t know existed. I’ve learned, I’ve grown, I’ve lost and I’ve won, and looking back I’m glad for all of it.
I’m not excited for the battle today (are we ever really?) but I am ready to fight. There is so much more to be accomplished than just a single goal and I am surrendering the battle before me to God. With him all things are possible and I know that I don’t have to fight alone. It’s a win win. I make progress and he changes me. So, here I am welcoming so many battles I really don’t want to fight and I’m completely confident that it will be worth it.
How about joining me today? Pick your battle, lace up your gloves and let’s fight together. Gold takes time to be perfectly refined and so do you and I and ya know what? Both are beautifully worth it.
Last year I put a sign on my fridge at work that says- “Do something that scares you every day”. I needed the reminder to get out of the box I’d created for myself, to reach for new stars, and try new things.
The old saying that “if you want something new you have to stop doing something old” is such a solid truth. If we want something to change in our lives we have to change something in our lives.
It’s a simple concept that both my body and mind fight tooth and nail.
I love staying right inside the box. I like my warm house, my comfort food and my baggy jeans. I’m a fan of surrounding myself with people who build me up and tell me that I’m perfect just the way I am. I need those people in my life. They are like a soft blanket that makes me feel safe and secure.
But what if I surround myself with another layer of people too? What if I begin to surround myself with people who challenge me? Who don’t let me stay in the box or on the couch? My daughter -in -law is one of these people. She is all the kindness of the soft blanket but often manages to kick me in the fanny just when I need it. (She can remind me that this is a good thing someday) She will often ask- have you written “this” yet? Have you started that challenging project yet?
To be honest, I need the push. If given to my own devices I might choose the couch over the project. I might choose comfort over the uncertainty of a new goal.
My son and daughter -in -law are not afraid to take on a challenge. They are what I call “get out of the boat” kind of people. Where I often want to tiptoe in until the water feels nice, they jump straight out of the boat into the turbulence and they swim. Do they hit every goal the way they thought they would? Do they have to make changes and re-directions often? The answer to both is yes. BUT the point is they live their lives outside of their comfort zones and their lives tell a story that challenges me to rewrite mine.
I am a believer that we should never stop learning, never stop putting ourselves out there- even and especially if we are unsure of ourselves. I recently told my son Zach that when we go through hard times in our lives we should pray that God changes us the way he knows we need it. I told him that we never really change or grow when things are easy and good. I gave him the unsolicited advice that he should embrace the tough times and just trust the process.
I felt like mom of the year when I sent the message- until God pressed upon my own heart that I need to do this as well. Giving that advice was great, but am I living it?
So as this next decade begins my goal is to do just that. It’s time I turn up the heat, launch the boat, and dip my feet into the water. (notice that I did not say jump right in… I am still a work in progress here.)(I am thinking “outside the box” though so that’s good right?) I hope and pray that by the end of the decade I will have jumped right into that ocean of possibilities- but for now I’ve decided to just step out of my little box and look for new opportunities and challenges. I’m uncomfortable, I don’t like the uncertainty one bit, but there is something inside that is loving this.
I’m fully planning to surround myself with more people who will kick my fanny just when I need it and I can’t wait to write to you all in the next 10 years and see who God has made me to be at the end of it.Want to get out of the boat with me? Come on in the water is- freezing and scary and crazy and I don’t know exactly what it means… but this is going to be a ton of fun.
Isn’t this a great picture? Don’t we look like we are having a blast and just loving our time together? Well we are…sorta, BUT- there is a very different reality behind this picture. So right now I want to give you a behind the scenes tour of what was really going on here.
First of all, my husband woke up with a fever and felt horrible all day. Originally, our plans were to have a great dinner together and play games late into the evening. Our oldest son and his wife would spend the night and we’d have the whole family here with us. I looked so forward to this time together. It was our middle son’s last night with us and I was ready to cherish every last second.
Instead, my husband ended up sleeping all day, only got up for dinner, and we didn’t let him touch anything. While he slept I frantically cleaned and disinfected everything he has ever even looked at in this house. We debated on having dinner together but decided that since it was Zach’s last night we’d go ahead with that part. Ryan got up long enough to eat, take a quick happy family selfie while not breathing on or touching anyone and then head back to the recliner. No games were played, no overnight stays from our older kids and Ryan was in bed by 9.
We were all disappointed but this is life and we roll with it right?
The next morning I got up and decided that I’d have coffee ready, put some bacon on, and spend some time with Jesus. I was determined to have a good attitude regardless of the disappointments of the night before and the dread of our son leaving tonight.
I may have gotten a little distracted while reading and praying this morning. Doesn’t this bacon look delicious? I literally had to scrape it from the pan, who knew bacon could stick so well?
I want to tell you that I sat and had a great cup of coffee while my family slept but I made the coffee and around here that says it all.
I can tell you this though- I enjoyed that coffee and I laughed at that bacon. 2020 may not have started the way I planned, but it’s still just as sweet. Last night my younger 2 sons and I talked for a very long time. We talked about everything, good, bad, funny, you name it. Then I went to bed exhausted and sad for this time coming to an end but so very grateful for every minute.
I wonder if things had gone as planned would we have had the time to talk?
I need to remind myself that there is good in the regrouping. There is hope in the burned bacon and the change of plans. Sometimes the silver lining is hard to find, but if we look close enough it is still there.
Guys, I’m not sure what 2020 is going to bring, I’m praying hard for a little less crazy and a whole lot more peace. I’m praying that the pictures I post on social media will be a little more transparent and a lot less perfect in appearance.
Whatever comes our way, whatever this year has to bring I want you all to know that I love you, I’m so thankful to have you all with me on this journey through life and I will be praying for you too- every step of the way.