Friday, December 13, 2013

Teaching our kids Gratefulness

Now to look at these beautiful faces, you'd think - they're perfect, polite, sweet, and beautiful, right?  I know most of the time those are MY thoughts too!

And because I love them, I want to give EVERYTHING to my girls - and I know I'm not alone!  I didn't have the childhood of my dreams, so I want to pour all I can into being sure my daughters have the amazing, and LOVING experiences I didn't necessarily have growing up.

How do we find the balance between giving our kids what they want, yet them being grateful kids?  

I had a moment where I realized I was doing my girls a dis-service by offering EVERYTHING I could to them. 

It's SOO frustrating when you sacrificially give something to your kids, and they just want more, and are not grateful for what they have.  During a time where we were extremely pinched financially, my husband took his birthday money from a family member and bought a doll one of my daughters wanted.  He was SO excited to give it to her.  At first, she was excited, but it quickly turned into her wanting more - a better doll, & more dolls.  My hubby was heart broken, knowing what a sacrifice it was to give her THAT doll.

I prayed for a creative solution - because I wanted her to be excited for what we CAN give, but for us not to feel taken advantage of when it's not what SHE thinks she deserves. 

It was near Easter time, so I told her I was going to take her shopping.  Oh boy, oh boy, was she excited.  When we got to the mall, I explained how ungrateful her attitude towards the doll her dad got her was, and pulled out scripture explaining it is better to GIVE then to RECEIVE, and this is the lesson our shopping experience is going to teach her.  And, I told her the money she got for Easter was going to be used to bless her father.  Oh my, the tears & upset; I'm sure the people in the mall were thinking I just sliced off her left arm because of how upset she was.

The reality sank in that she was getting NOTHING for Easter, rather, she was going to be the one giving this time.  Once she realized I was not going to change my mind, she pulled herself together and even got excited to bless her father.  We made sure to make a BIG deal out of what she was giving - and it was actually a lot of fun!  She even asked if she could get something for her sister too!  We spent that Easter just enjoying each others company & playing games rather than doing they typical Easter baskets & finding the Easter egg hunts.

To this day, 4 1/2 years later, she is a testimony of gratefulness & a BIG giving heart.  No matter how small the gift for her, she is overly thankful...and from her heart too. 

We need to be sure we're teaching our kids the art of giving so much more than receiving.  That's worth more than any gift we can give to them. We are called to give & serve the people around us; so that's a huge gift to our kids when we teach them the same principal.

Friday, December 6, 2013

Decisions, decisions...

You know to some people, the burning question may be, "What IS the meaning of life?"

And for some of us, the burning question may be, "WHY EVE, WHY?!?!"  Yah, I'm actually getting in line to ask that one...just saying!

But honestly, in this crazy world with all the variables & chaos flying around in life, the question needs to be, "Daddy, am I on the right track?"

You see, attack is going to come - it's just one of those realities that absolutely blows chunkies when you're a follower of Christ.
  • You get attacked when you're doing RIGHT because the enemy of your soul wants you to fall so he'll cause fear in hopes you turn away.
  • You get attacked when you're doing WRONG because you drifted away from the covering of God's protection. Now you're in the enemy's torment field being pushed around - and God's waiting for you to get out of there, and return to His protection.
A person can make themselves crazy trying to figure out what category they fall in when they're feeling the arrows of attack shot at their lives & circumstances.

When in the heat of attack, the solution is extremely simple - hard at times, but simple:

Nestle into the arms of the Almighty, lean into His chest, and hear His heartbeat.  His heartbeat for you, your family, and your circumstances.  Relationship with The Father is the most important thing to hang onto in this life.  It's not enough to know OF God, but to KNOW Him.  He's the best friend & guide you'll ever have.  Staying close to God is a MUST so during times of crisis you'll know clearly if you are to push past your pain, but stay on course, or change direction because you're on the wrong path.

We are living in such a "self help" age & society that it's very easy to forget that God wants to be involved in the operation of our lives - and let's face it...He'll do a MUCH better job of management that we could ever hope to do. 

First things first...PRAY
RUN, do not walk, do not pass go, do not collect $200 - but RUUUUN straight into your prayer closet, nestle close to God and be honest with yourself, and Him.  

If you're called to STAND FIRM
Ask which chaos this is. If you're confident you're on the RIGHT track, trust Him to cover you (with the peace that passes all understanding - Philippians 4:7), and He'll deal HARSHLY with the enemy who's sabotaging your circumstances.  Be at peace. God is bigger than your circumstances and will take care of the chaos, details, and the enemy who's trying to ruin your day. 
25 “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life...  
27 Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?  
                                                             Matthew 6:25-34 (NIV)

STORY TIME...Recently we were faced with quite a fork in the road & this very question - did we do right, or wrong in making ____ decision???  After much prayer & talking it out with my hubby, we decided God had ordained our direction and we were to hand this attack over to HIM - and not give another hour to it's yucky-ness.  Of course when we're stressed, our kids also can feel the anxiety - so we decided to take an impromptu family day.  We told our girls that we needed to Praise God through this storm, and stay in unity.  I could have sat at home to stew over all the possible terrible scenarios that COULD play out by our circumstances, or go play at DISNEY as a family.  Through the day we laughed, held hands, hugged, rode rides, and made silly jokes.  THE MIRACLE:  God worked out the circumstances WHILE we were out playing.
Be extremely honest with yourself. Admit you MAY have taken a wrong turn & God in His mercy is trying to get your attention to move you somewhere else.  If this is the case, hit the brakes as hard as you can (even if it gives you whiplash), and listen to the leading of the Holy Spirit to find your new direction.  Don't worry about your pride being bruised because you are not's a SHOCKER - none of us are!  There, the pressure is off. Your storm will end the sooner you face it, and change direction to blow WITH the wind of the Holy Spirit rather than against it.  I've tried fighting against God, but in the end, He always wins - so the sooner you embrace that, the faster things will become peaceful because you've now put yourself back into the secure place of the leading of Almighty God for your life.

PARABLE OF CHRISTY...There once was a young dumb girl who thought she knew everything.  She made some decisions in life being independent & strong - dumb ones at that, but she wanted to do things HER way.  She went from one chaotic battle to the next, and the more she fought, the more miserable bitter, & weary she became.  Then she shook her fist at God in anger and said, "WHY, GOD WHY - don't You love me?" and He gently asked if she was done trying to do things her way, and trust Him with her life because He DID love her?  She ran straight into His arms, nestled into His chest, listened to His heart for her life, and she's held onto Him ever since.  Now she lives with peace and a LOT of laughter because she knows her life is not being directed by her own knowledge, but by the Almighty God's.

Proverbs 3:5-12 (MSG)

5-12 Trust God from the bottom of your heart;
    don’t try to figure out everything on your own.
Listen for God’s voice in everything you do, everywhere you go;
    he’s the one who will keep you on track.
Don’t assume that you know it all.
    Run to God! Run from evil!
Your body will glow with health,
    your very bones will vibrate with life!
Honor God with everything you own;
    give him the first and the best.
Your barns will burst,
    your wine vats will brim over.
But don’t, dear friend, resent God’s discipline;
    don’t sulk under his loving correction.
It’s the child he loves that God corrects;
    a father’s delight is behind all this.

I see now how true it is; "It's the child He loves that God corrects" so when He asks us to put the brakes on a direction, it's because He loves us.  He's wanting the torment to END, and peace to reign in our life, family, and home.  Isn't that our motive for disciplining our children too?  It's out of LOVE.  So trust your life to LOVE.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

The mechanics of a marriage with sex

This is a topic I'm not overly comfortable writing on, but it keeps coming up because of it's importance.  Let me explain...

The passion in my heart has ALWAYS been the inspiration to be the hands and feet of Jesus to people - to show LOVE is a VERB...but it starts in our home and with our family.  A house divided against itself cannot stand (Matthew 12:25). 

So with that said, even though I had a passion for people and to love people, God in the early years of my marriage always reeled me back to my husband...who for years I felt hurt & betrayed by. I just wanted to "do the work of the gospel" but I had NO idea how to fix some areas of my marriage, so I'd just try to ignore the problems and move on to the things I could do well.  But, God lovingly continued to shut the doors I wanted open because He knew there needed to be health in my marriage FIRST before I could work on anything else.

When we feel hurt, betrayed, or offended by our husband, the first place we close off to them TENDS TO BE the sexual relationship.  I've been there, and I know many many women who are and have been in the same boat.  But this is not something we talk about - especially to our husbands!  So it's an area within the relationship that just drifts off to sea without paddle or motor - we just let it go.

The result of this is that our husbands who have been rejected by their mate, tends to lose confidence in many other areas of life.  We want strong leaders in our husbands, but we've taken away their power to lead. They will rarely say, "I need sex to build my confidence" and sometimes they don't necessarily know they do.  Many probably DO know, but don't want to voice it because they already feel like a disappointment & rejected by their wives.  We try to nag them in different areas needing our men to rise up to be the leaders in our home, but that tends to be fruitless. 

Now, I'm NOT suggesting this is everyone's story, but it's shamefully mine, and many brave women who have reached out to me give a big "amen" to identifying with some of my last posts on this subject.

For us women, the lack of sexual intimacy is a hidden poison.  It enlarges the rift between us and our husbands, it causes frustration (not so much sexual in nature, but wanting to fix the lack of balance in our homes).  Because our husband's confidence has been deflated, we rise up to lead (which is not our Biblical place) and we can be over controlling in the process. The bottom line when we are not in step with God, everything else just feels "off" and God calls us to be in unity with our ALL areas.

Viscous Circle
 To both husband and wife's relationship lacking sex, there is a vicious circle that tends to be created (for one reason or another - this is ONLY an example, not everyone's story):  The wife gets upset at some point (whether hurt feelings, betrayal, broken promises...) so she withholds sex.  The husband feels shameful & unworthy so he drudges along with a lack of confidence & backs off leading the family as he feels like a failure.  The husband's attitude frustrates the wife, and she gets upset, feels MORE frustrated, and shuts down even more, and is nagging him to rise up.  The husband feels like there's no point in trying, doesn't feel good enough, & looses more confidence & hope in himself...

Dare to be Bare!
The good news is, we can ALMOST INSTANTLY change the destiny of our marriage - by having the strength to DARE TO BE BARE! 

1. Dare to "Bear" your heart to your husband.  Once you acknowledge your desire to change the course of your absent sex life, and no longer withhold this from them, they tend to feel instant relief that you are seeing a need for change, they have compassion as you journey towards more union, and even start to rise up as leaders praying for, and loving you through the growth.

2. Dare to BE BARE.  Sex is not something to be embarrassed about, it's something to celebrate as a married couple.

It's a GIFT!
God gave sex to married couples to celebrate their union.  When we use this gift, it does several things:
1. It instantly boosts confidence in our men.  That husband/leader you've always wanted will instantly begin to rise to the surface.  I did it all backward for YEARS.  I wanted my husband to rise up & lead BEFORE I'd really explore making sex part of our regular life...but it never seemed to happen, in fact, it had the opposite effect and only caused more destruction to my relationship with my hubby.
2. It restores healing & union. That thing that you were frustrated about...will disappear.
3. The Holy Spirit is a BIG advocate of marital sex - and is ever present in times of union between a husband and wife.  You will find renewed relationship with The Father when you unite with your husband.  Cover to cover, the heart of The Bible is relationships, intimacy, and love.  So why do we (myself included) seek God, His direction, His intimacy - but leave our husbands out? 

I recently read the entire Song of Solomon and was blushing non stop - I encourage that as a good read on the topic.

In case you're needing some other scripture references regarding this subject, here a a few I came across recently:

After reading that God was the Creator of sex (Genesis 1:27 ), we then see how it was to be used: "Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh. And they were both naked, the man and his wife, and were not ashamed" (Genesis 2:24-25).

 "Let your fountain be blessed, and rejoice with the wife of your youth. As a loving deer and a graceful doe, let her breasts satisfy you at all times; and always be enraptured with her love" (Proverbs 5:18-19)

And of course 1 Corinthians 7:2-6 (The Message)
2-6 Certainly—but only within a certain context. It’s good for a man to have a wife, and for a woman to have a husband. Sexual drives are strong, but marriage is strong enough to contain them and provide for a balanced and fulfilling sexual life in a world of sexual disorder. The marriage bed must be a place of mutuality—the husband seeking to satisfy his wife, the wife seeking to satisfy her husband. Marriage is not a place to “stand up for your rights.” Marriage is a decision to serve the other, whether in bed or out. Abstaining from sex is permissible for a period of time if you both agree to it, and if it’s for the purposes of prayer and fasting—but only for such times. Then come back together again. Satan has an ingenious way of tempting us when we least expect it. I’m not, understand, commanding these periods of abstinence—only providing my best counsel if you should choose them.

Again, this is a topic I keep shying away from on this blog, but ladies have been coming out of their shame closet and reaching out to me on this subject - wanting to better their relationship with their spouses but it seems to be so "tabu".  So I'm going to "sheepishly" offer this - if you'd like to email me personally for any other encouragement on this topic, you may do so through my Facebook page (I'm the only one who looks at it) or my direct email address is

What a great time to start a new habit - Thanksgiving season!  I see all over that people are acknowledging the things they are thankful for - let's be even more thankful for our husbands this season!

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Learning my daughters' hearts through STRAWBERRIES

Being a homeschool mom, I do spend a lot of time with my daughters.  You'd think I know EVERYTHING that's going on in their beautiful hearts, right?

I recently learned something...I didn't

We have been volunteering at a Tower Garden Farm (hydroponic garden system) planting seeds & getting strawberry plants ready for the towers.  It's been a once a week adventure of sitting on a porch at the farm with no school assignments, TV, games, books, or music.  Just us putting tiny seeds in holes hour after hour...and we LOVE it.

One of our times a couple weeks back, my daughters just started asking me questions...surprising & deep questions - and I was thinking, "Where did all THIS come from?"  Well, come to find out these are things that have been brewing in their heart, but they had not seen the window of time to talk to me.

You see, I can be a busy-body.  I LOVE spending time with my daughters more than almost anything, and we have all kinds of adventures - but I realized parking my butt to a chair and doing NOTHING BUT listening to the deep things in their hearts seemed to hardly happen.

Working at the farm has been such an amazing time of silliness, growing together, learning, clarifying, and bonding.

Our lives these past few weeks have been extremely busy - we just moved, I look after an ailing gentleman, we school, and I do what I can for the community around me...I know you understand!  What I've learned is that I need to covet much more time to just bond heart to heart with my amazing daughters.

The interesting thing is, this is what God wants from us park our butt down to have a heart to heart with HIM.  You see, my girls shared some concerns, and I was able to help & guide them through.  When I sit and have the same talk with my Father God - He does the same; He helps ME navigate difficult situations and offer to help.

God can't help if I don't take the time to tell Him what's going on and give Him a chance to walk with me & guide my steps...just like my girls struggling to navigate through things without my (or their daddy's) help.

So here's to less busy-body-ness, and more strawberry talks :)

Monday, September 9, 2013

School Project...EPIC FAIL!!!

So here we are into week 3 of school, and we've had a ball (so far).

Today we did a project out of "America the Beautiful" (by the Notgrass company) and laughed so hard while trying to accomplish the impossible.

We were to build an Iroquois Long house out of toothpicks & gumdrops.  You'd think we could find gumdrops anywhere in the state of Florida...nope.  So my husband thought perhaps we could use mini marshmallows instead of gumdrops.

Here's the mission (if we choose to accept it)...

 All smiles and confidence as we start to construct the walls...

We built the smoke stacks for the interior of the structure - Micah even made cotton "smoke"...
As the wall assembly begins,
we're still confident in our ability...

Things VERY quickly began to FALL APART...

It was becoming very clear there was NO recovery, 
our mission was crashing & burning

So we tried to cut it in half, 
surely it would hold up if it's a smaller structure, right?


So we decided to do CHUBBY BUNNY! 

Yep, I give you permission to laugh at our non ability to build a simple longhouse.  Good thing we're not Iroquois or we may be kicked out of the tribe.

I decided to do this project this morning, because although our school spirits have been high, some tension was brewing a bit.  The girls had to do some work over the weekend to complete last week's assignments. They chose to play one afternoon - and were warned they'd have to complete their work before Monday; they agreed until the time came to finish.  They were NOT impressed, but I don't want to fall behind.

Nothing reduces stress faster than silliness, so giggling over our inability to do a longhouse was JUST the medicine needed to start the week.

A cheerful heart is good medicine,
but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.
Proverbs 17:22

Friday, August 30, 2013

The Beautiful Imperfections of Homeschooling

When my girls grew to school age, we made the decision to homeschool for reasons most here reading this will understand.  Oh boy, we were going to get SOOO much accomplished, they would be ready to graduate and head to college at 10 years old (well, maybe 14), and every day was going to be an incredible amount of fun...right?

Here we are 6 years later, and my girls are ELATED to start school this year - and I know it's genuine, but that did not come without ironing out some HUGE bumps in the road.

  • I purchased sooo many great books over the years...that did not get finished.
  • I have had some knock down drag out fights with my daughters...and work would not always get accomplished.
  • I planned on being sooo scheduled...then we had to move, or deal with LIFE & distractions, and the schedule would go to pot.
Some years I felt were an EPIC fail. I'd feel so defeated and I'd have to lick my wounds. BUT, to attempt to rise to the challenge, I'd bust out the cheer pom-poms, and Hoorah us on for another "GREAT YEAR" (through gritted teeth at times).

What I've learned - all through failure I must admit:

1. Don't set your expectations too high:  
I would look at some amazing blogger's homeschool schedule that is fine-tuned down to the minute, see all the wonderful subjects & lessons, art, music & geometry...and I'd think to myself, "I need to do ALL THAT to be successful!"  Then I'd tie myself into 12 knots trying to make that work for us, having to CONSTANTLY adjust my lesson plans (and eventually I just left them blank not knowing if I'd get ANYTHING accomplished), get grumpy at my girls because they couldn't meet my expectations, then feel like a failure because I couldn't accomplish it A-L-L.

The lesson I learned while trying to untangle myself is this:  One of the reasons we homeschool is because each family is UNIQUE, each child is UNIQUE, so we can tailor our curriculum, schedule, and style to fit the individual & family.

2. Involve your kids in the planning process:
Sometimes it was a battle to get my girls to do their work, and the reality that our system was NOT working was when the tears started to stream down my beautiful daughter's cheeks.  This was NOT the experience I wanted for them to remember as they look back at their homeschool years.

When I would start asking questions like, "Would you like to do THIS one, or THAT one?" I was amazed at their eagerness & response.  I'd offer choices in style of work, topics, and books.  When they felt invested in their learning, they were far more motivated to accomplish their work.

3. Encourage their individual learning style:
I have a daughter who can't sit long without fidgeting - so I will let her stand, and I'll have munchies at her desk so she can accomplish a lot if she's not forced to just sit still & concentrate for long periods of time.  I also will occasionally allow them to go long periods of time on one topic, rather than switch every hour - they do better that way (at times) when there's one week we may do all math to get to a certain place in their book, and another week may be a large variety of subjects.

4. Start simple (if you need to):
When I first thought of homeschooling, I started doing my research, and there are SOO many great resources out there - but for my type of personality, TOO MANY that caused me to short-circuit.  I wanted to do it ALL and be the mom/teacher to the next brain-y-ac. 

What I found the most peaceful was to start simple. The basics. Do the type of curriculum that is simple, and lays out the foundation very easily.  I purposely dodged homeschool conventions, curriculum catalogs, and magazines.  Now, I  AM a researcher, but to get a fire hose full of information when I was a newby was NOT helpful, in fact it was down-right overwhelming.  Now, this is ME, and to all you "MEs" out there, find peace in simplicity.  I found "shutting out" what many people considered the "norm" helpful for a season until I could learn MY girls, and style - and build from there - once I grasped the basics, I started adding upon my core work & style year after year.

SOOOO...Here's to our (and your) 

This Year, my girls are in Grade 5 & Grade 6.

What we're doing for Math, & Language Arts is a basic curriculum called Rod & Staff.  It's old fashioned, but extremely simple.  They have it set up where the girls simply do one lesson per day, per subject - but spelling is only once a week.

For Science, because we had some "hiccups" in our year/schedule last year (traveling, moving...), I'm still finishing up Apologia's "Exploring Creation" and LOVING IT!

We have so much fun with the experiments - from clay people, to edible cells, and watching their teeth rot in coke!  Then when we're done this one, we'll discuss what science topic we'd like to explore next!

For History & Geography, We're doing America The Beautiful...and it has been most excellent so far ;)

The girls have been loving coloring the maps, writing creative stories, and doing the crossword puzzles in their workbook.  We'll be building the Iroquis log house at the end of the week!

Finally, for Bible studies, we're doing Apologia's "Who is my Neighbor" which teaches a bit more history, and the Biblical view of servanthood. This is another one we're finishing up from last year.
This has lap books, puzzles, drawings, and scripture memory.  They LOVE all the ways this teaches stories, and interacts with the lessons.

Here are my AMAZING students/daughters on their exciting first day of school of the 2013/2014 year!!!

We ended our school day doing Apologia Science - A skeletal system demonstration.  We made clay models with skinny arms & legs to see how floppy they are without structure...then we made them WITH toothpicks so they could be held up. 

My husband made Gumby.

5. Seek God's Direction
The last thing - but it's really the first thing to do while working on, and planning a school year is PRAY.  I dedicate my year & daughters into God's care, seeking His direction for their learning and growing. 

Each year, He leads me to what seems like (to the natural eye) "stumbling upon" what we need to do for the year.  For example, as I was preparing & praying for this year, I started looking for some type of History lessons that would fit my girls learning style.  Literally AS I was deep in this thought, prayer, and scouting out some curriculum, my friend Sarah over at MY JOYFILLED LIFE posted a review of America the Beautiful. When I read it, and showed it to my hubbs, we both agreed that was the last missing piece of our school year puzzle.  I had the girls read up on it to get their "thumbs high", and the rest is HISTORY ;) and we're loving it. 

As a side note, being a Canadian living in the USA, I think I'm doing most of the learning!


Thursday, June 20, 2013

The Bathroom Wall - free printable

I won a contest (and a really pretty lamp) when asked where in my house I'd put something that would most inspire or encourage me.  My answer in all seriousness was, "My bathroom wall!"  When asked why there, the answer was easy, "Because it's the one place I get the most peace & quiet...and even that is hit or miss".  I WON!


I have regular stow-aways in my bed when I wake up, I find a little girl on my lap if I attempt to sit on the couch for a breath, I get asked for 80 items as snacks while in the kitchen, and I'm needing to regularly dig up a child from the never-ending laundry pile.

I hear quite often that people receive the most revelation from the bathroom.  I'll admit that certainly happens to me. Whether it's stolen time, rushed time, or the little people actually leave me alone to a few minutes of peace & quiet.  I try to take advantage of that moment where I can hear my own thoughts - and my Jesus' heart.

Meeting with God in the Bathroom

I know the importance of finding quality time with God, dedicating my day to Him, seeking direction, peace, and energy to accomplish the looong to-do list - but there are days, in all reality, that vast quantities of time is just NOT available!

So in those times, l've learned to take advantage of the fact that I do NEED to use the bathroom from time to time through the day, so why not multi-task and make that "pit stop" an opportunity to hand my day and all it's moments over to God - after all, it is HIS day, because I'm HIS!

There is SOO much power in praying scripture over our heart, lives, and circumstances - so I made this declaration to pray over myself.  Whether it be first thing in the morning, or when I need to take a quick moment to bathe myself in an emergency "help me" prayer to continue on, I have this on my bathroom wall.

Click HERE to download & print the image.

Don't get comfortable just doing what is required. You'll accomplish so much more if you surrender your day & all it's moments to God.  I know I can tell (and sadly so can my daughters) when I have not taken the time to cover myself in scripture, and declare victory over my family, my flesh, or my circumstances.  I need to do things in HIS strength, not my own.  Without Him, I am NOTHING.

So, here's MY bathroom wall...

Make your bathroom your sanctuary.  Let's take the word "Restroom" to a NEW level...not just "resting" on the porcelain throne, but "RESTING" in HIM.

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Marriage Mayday #2 - Appetizers & Business

When was the last time you just sat down and shared your thoughts with your spouse - and even dreamed a little?


You would think when you're married to someone - especially after many years, that you actually spend a lot of quality time with that person.  Sadly, in this day and age, that's not as easy as it sounds.  We have work duties, kid nose-wiping duties, 400 lbs of laundry duties, pay-for-everything duties, and over time, partnership & friendship in a marriage can get lost.

As the years go by, change happens:  life goals, wants & needs...but do we find time to express our hearts to our spouse?  Do we make time to talk regularly?

Take advantage of the AWESOME-NESS!
 Let's say you live in an area where there is something AMAZING to go to all the time (mountains, beaches, Disney...).  A lot of people would assume you enjoy your surroundings everyday.  But most locals from those areas don't take advantage of it regularly - because they know they can enjoy the scenery anytime, so it becomes a "We'll do it later."

Don't we do that to our marriages?  We don't put talking, planning, or sharing on the top of the list...because we think the opportunity will ALWAYS be available so "We can do it later."  

But then loooong periods of time drift by and the later doesn't come - and the close bond & connection with our spouse weakens.  We're so "duty" bound, that we don't see spending time together, planning, dreaming, changing direction, or just being silly at the top of the to-do list.

No marriage & family will be successful without unity.  Pull out your calendar & notebook, go get an appetizer and talk about changes, goals, dreams, and direction.

What an inspiration!!!!

Recently my husband and I went on one of our planning dates at a nearby restaurant, and a couple was seated near us.  They sat at the same side of the table together, and were sharing an appetizer.  I was trying not to stare and creep them out, but I was so blessed to watch them enjoy each other's company. They probably noticed my continually glancing over at them, so I went over and asked if they were married, and if so, for how long.  51 years!!!  They were married for 51 years!!  I told them what an inspiration they were to me - and I enjoyed seeing them spend time together.  They told me that yes, it was VERY important to invest in their marriage.  What an inspiration!!!

Planning Date - a free worksheet download...
Click on the worksheet to download & print it.

There are many aspects within a marriage that needs to be viewed as a business.  No business will be successful without unity among the management team.  The key to harmony and success within the marriage is being on the same page in terms of direction of operation within the home...

So grab your spouse, head down to a local restaurant (or put the kids to bed early), and tighten the unity within your marriage.  Share your heart, dreams, & goals.

Jesus knew their thoughts and said to them, "Every kingdom divided against itself will be ruined, and every city or household divided against itself will not stand."  Matthew 12:25 (NIV)

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Marriage Mayday #1 - Vulnerability

Have you even had a fight with your spouse?  Me neither - JUST KIDDING!!!!

Over the next few weeks, I'm going to be sharing some of the struggles & victories of marriage.  I'll be including worksheet pages from our "Marriage Mayday Kit" that you can download for free.

The Ugly Truth - The Weed
I used to think my marriage was divorce proof - how wrong I was!  Even after a decade of marriage, and a very strong friendship with my husband, there was still a weed growing that was about to overtake the garden of our marriage if we didn't do a serious spraying of round up & yanking to get rid of it once and for all.

My heart breaks when I hear of a marriage break up, and I used to naively think there's no way that could happen to ME.  But marriages do carry on blissfully unaware even when there IS a weed growing - and they will eventually find that lowly (or multiple) weed(s) have overtaken their marriage. The problem is - the weed is harder to get rid of the longer it's allowed to grow. Then one day either or both parties wake up and feel the only way they can survive life is to walk away because they feel their life is being choked out.  That weed seems to have too strong of roots to be pulled out.

The good news is, no matter how big the weed is, 
it CAN be killed & pulled.

There was a weed in our garden.  One weed that every time I allowed myself to be aware of it, I'd be so overwhelmed with the daunting task of trying to pull it, or kill it, so I'd just bury it for a while and pretend it wasn't there.

When we were first married, I saw the issue was present but like most blissful newly married couples, there was google-eyed grace, love, & mercy.  As time went on, and the issue was brought up, the fighting became more intense.  Then after a while, I just tried to ignore the issue - because I didn't know how to weed it out of my marriage; but when it was brought up, LOOK OUT - This is war and the gloves were off!  Resentment started to set in, dis-trust, lack of faith...over ONE WEED!  It's amazing how one weed can ruin such a beautiful garden...but this is the story of many.


The issue was no longer the culprit of destruction, but all focus was on the person.  Now it's one versus the other - not the issue to be combated.  We were no longer seeing and trying to pull the weed, but fight each other.

Calling a Truce
Then one day with the Grace of God, determination to have a peaceful marriage, and the wisdom around us, we had to call a truce - and find out what was REALLY plaguing us.

It wasn't each other - but the enemy fertilizing one rapidly growing weed in our marriage.

Someone we trust said to us, "The problem isn't YOU TWO, so quit attacking each other.  It has another name."

For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.  Ephesians 6:12

 Pride is the fertilizer used to rapid-grow weeds within relationships.  Love is the round-up.

So step one was laying down our PRIDE and realize the other person was NOT the enemy of our marriage.  Rather, we needed to work TOGETHER.  

Oh yes, we have a part to play in either victory or destruction - so we need to choose wisely what we say and do towards one another.  Let's place our energies on fighting against THE WEED.

Committed to Love - a free worksheet download...

Click on the worksheet to download & print it.

Laying down your weapons...Write the areas of pride you are willing to lay down for the sake of love.  Have an uninterrupted time with your spouse to have a vulnerable talk about the weed that needs to be dealt with in your marriage.

We need to take honest inventory of our marriages - and do some serious weed hunting.

The weed's growth did not happen overnight, so neither will be pulling it up.  God can SURELY do a miracle, but we must be patient with each other during this time of healing.

Because I simply avoided our issues & didn't take the weed seriously, it truly scares me how close to allowing it to choke & kill our marriage it came.  To those around us, this confession would be a shock - and I wasn't being "fake", but simply we have always been & are great friends and for the most part, I simply pretended the problem wasn't there.  It's not like we fought all the time, but when the weed was uncovered - LOOK OUT!

I LOVE Israel Houghton's song "Moving Forward" and have made it my declaration in hard times.  No matter how messy things are, or how many weeds I need to pull up, I'M MOVING FORWARD, like Paul says "Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me." Philippians 3:12...

What a moment You have brought me to?  
Such a freedom I have found in You  
You're the healer who makes all things new

I'm not going back, I'm moving ahead  
Here to declare to You my past is over 
in You All things are made new, 
surrendered my life to Christ I'm moving, moving forward, oh

You have risen with all power in Your hands  
You have given me a second chance  
Hallelujah, hallelujah,

You make all things new  
Yes, You make all things new 
and I will follow You forward  
You make all things new 
Yes, You make all things new 
and I will follow You forward
I will follow You forward, yeah, oh, oh

Here is more information about our Marriage Mayday Kit

Monday, April 15, 2013

Taming Mama Bear

My heart busts with joy when we are surrounded by a community of people we can laugh with, cry with, barbeque with, and play games with.

When we're in relationship with people, there will always be opportunities to get offended. If someone has rubbed us the wrong way, said something wrong...or...I'm sure you can think of a few examples.

As my daughters are getting older and having to work out issues with friends down the street, in church, or in different groups - I'm finding it quite a "political dance" to help them work through things at times. Dealing with MAMA BEAR can be hard to navigate.  It's so easy to get defensive if our (perfect) children (not!) get accused of  being not so nice, RIGHT?

I remember when my daughter was a toddler and went in those tubes at the McDonalds play park...and some kid hit her.  OOOOO, this 5 foot nothing mama turned into Hulk with a pink shoes in an instant.  Don't mess with MAMA BEAR!!!!!!

Here's the problem - if we're to look out for one another, stoop down and encourage one another - AND Iron out our differences (Philippians 4:2) that also must involve embracing those who wrong us, or our kids.

Here's an approach I've used over & over and it has actually produced MIRACLES - not just with the relationship among kids, but a high level of respect & authority among fellow mama bears.  To respect those in our lives, I will not be giving stories to illustrate, but this works.  When we've had issues with our girls' friends, we've approached the parents with 3 attitudes:

  1. Benefit of the doubt.  I NEVER go with the approach that their child is 100% wrong, and mine is innocent.  This IMMEDIATELY brings any defensive walls down.  I do an approach something like this, "I was just wondering if you were aware of ____.  This is the story I have, but maybe I'm wrong and I would love to just get it in the open before it gets worse.  ______ LOVES spending time with ______ so I'd just hate for things to escalate.
  2. I ask how I can help.  I love the "It takes a village to raise a child" mentality so I consider their child someone I can look out for and encourage.  So I ask permission to go out of my way to dote on that child.   This creates an atmosphere of safety & community.  Every time I've given this kind of support to a parent, it's literally a door to minister Christ's love to that family...whether they know Jesus or not.  What an opportunity to SERVE that family!!!!!
  3. I talk to my daughters about serving & loving that child - ESPECIALLY if they're not being oh-so-nice.  Didn't God say bless our enemies?  I've watched over and over my daughters lean into those who others would consider awkward or un-friendly.  And the reports I've gotten back is that the habits that caused discord lessen - because they were around positive friends, instead of being shunned for their attitude.
People that have children who tend to get in trouble have defensive parents - like the "What did he do now" attitude and feel quite rejected in the world of children.  We need to come alongside these families and encourage them.

I hear often stay at home moms feel like they have nothing to offer the Kingdom because they feel so isolated in the sink of dishes, or mountain of laundry & snotty noses.  My answer is to go out of their way to affect the circle of kids around them, and their parents. You NEVER KNOW the eternal impact you are having by just touching a fellow family with kindness.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

New things a comin'

I'm extremely sorry for my writing absence buuuut, I'm SUPER SUPER S-U-P-E-R excited to share some new things I'm developing, and the miracles happening.  The Lord has been depositing amazing fresh revelation in the area of family, marriage, devotion to HIM and the community of Christ - especially among us women.  What ARE we here for, and how do we break away from the dishes?!?!   


I'll be sharing more of my personal journey, & testimony along with the TESTS that seemed unbearable.

Thank you ALL for coming here and regularly checking in on me.  I will be starting my series next week with free printables & downloads.

Here is a sneek peek...

See you soon!

Thursday, February 7, 2013

5 tips to bring "The power of RANDOM"

During birthdays or holidays, we do our best to remember those we love - gifts, cards, phone calls, emails, Facebook Messages...  If we are going to take the time to honor someone, that's the best time to do it, right?

There is MUCH more impact & power in randomness;  
In a person thinking of, and honoring someone JUST BECAUSE!

Recently a beautiful young lady spent HER birthday honoring people.  19 acts of kindness for her 19th birthday.  Our family was one of the recipients...

I KNOW I don't have to explain how my family felt (you guessed it - I bawled like a baby).  When we received our package, we were reminded to pause, eat some candy and have family silly time.  We wouldn't have otherwise that day - but it was an ordained moment where God spoke through our friend & her gift to remind us that a way through stress is taking time for fun...and most of all, WE ARE LOVED.

As the body of Christ, we need each other.  We need her, she needs us & our family needs each other...

God is always working on our behalf, and working through us and others to work on His behalf.  

Because we live in the self-help society, we tend to muscle through our situations, but it's like a deep fresh breath blown on us when receive support from others.  

 And the flip side is, when we take time out of our stresses, life & rat-race to focus on others, we are fulfilling the scripture mandate.  God gives His love FREELY and without stipulation, all He asks is that we give it away, and remind others of this love.

Some tips to bring this amazing power to others...
  1. Make a dinner for a family - not because they're in need, but just because.
  2. Send a card in the mail to someone you haven't spoken with in a while - just because.
  3. Give a card & gift certificate to offer babysitting - just because.
  4. Give a Starbucks gift card (or ice cream - yum!) - just because.
  5. Send encouragement card to pastor, missionary, or boss - just because.
What if we were to do what my friend did for her birthday, for Valentine's Day...celebrate it by celebrating others???  
If you have a significant other - do it together! Find someone (or many) who needs to be riminded they are LOVED.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Healing between mother & daughter

Growing up, I had a very rough relationship with my mom.  She was ill since I was very young & I was strong-willed, and was a potent mix to say the least.

When I was in college, she made a (directional) decision that I didn't agree with.  I regret how I handled a strong-willed "know it all" immature attitude.  My mom basically wrote me off because she was so hurt.  Was I right in my stance?  YES.  Did I handle it with love, mercy & compassion? NO.

I lost my mom.

But GOD...

Right after that, I went to school with YWAM.  I knew I was going to have a lot of airplane/sit on my rear time, so I bought a project.  I found my mom's favorite poem as a cross stitch to do as a prayer project.

When I am an old woman, I shall wear PURPLE with a red hat that doesn't go & doesn't suit Jenny Joseph (I did customize it a little to suit my mom)

When I am an old woman I shall wear purple  
with a red hat that doesn't go and doesn't suit me. 
And I shall spend my pension on new "favorite sweaters" 
and more shoes and say we have no money for butter.
I shall sit down on the pavement when I'm tired 
and gobble up samples in shops, and press alarm bells, 
and run my stick along the public railing, 
and make up for the sanity of my youth. 
I shall go out in my slippers in the rain, 
and pick the flowers in other people's gardens, 
and learn to spit. 
You can wear terrible shirts, and grow more fat, 
and eat three pounds of sausage at a go, 
or fresh bread and pickles for a week, 
and hoard pens and pencils and notepaper, and things in boxes, 
but now we must have clothes that keep us dry, and pay our rent, 
and not swear in the street, and set a good example for the children. 
We will have friends to dinner, and read the paper, 
but maybe I ought to practice a little now, 
so people who know me are not too shocked and surprised 
when suddenly I am old and I start to wear purple.

So for plane hours, and "quiet times", I'd prayerfully stitch this poem together for her.

I had hard moments, because while on the mission field, I'd call my mom to "test the waters" - NOPE, she still wouldn't receive me. "What IS the point???" would be my thoughts; I'd want to burn the cross stitch feeling like I was doing it for nothing and God was NOT answering my prayers - but back to the cross stitch I'd go in prayer for her, me, healing, forgiveness, our relationship, & peace.

I knew if I dwelt on MY feelings, I'd be angry, hurt, and stay in a place of un-forgiveness. So I needed to be ACTIVE in working towards healing, and stay in a place of petitioning God for restoration.  It's impossible to stay angry when you're working towards, and praying for healing.  You look either one way or the other.

When I got home months later, I gave my mom a call. Without any explanation, venting, or angry blow-up, there was instant peace between us - the peace that passes all understanding.  I didn't have to agree with her to love & accept her.

I had the poem framed, and gave it to her as a Mother's Day gift.  From then to the day she suddenly died the following year, my mom & I had a beautiful time of healing & friendship between us.

Now this poem hangs in my home as a reminder that 
prayer works

And you NEVER know how long you have
with loved ones,
treat them like 
there is NO TOMORROW

It's too often that people settle for dysfunctional or estranged relationships. They just turn a blind eye, or write each other off, yet Matthew 5 is so clear:

23-24 “This is how I want you to conduct yourself in these matters. If you enter your place of worship and, about to make an offering, you suddenly remember a grudge a friend has against you, abandon your offering, leave immediately, go to this friend and make things right. Then and only then, come back and work things out with God.

That's pretty serious!

I know it's easier to forget the person rather than deal with the rift, but forgetting about the issue breeds un-forgiveness under the surface - growing like a fungus in our hearts.
It is not possible to have good emotional health while harboring bitterness, resentment and unforgiveness. Unforgiveness is poison! - Joyce Meyer
Here's the other favorite piece on my wall...
The nature of love has within itself
The power to endure the immaturity, ignorance, 
and offense of people,
And still see them in the light of their destiny and purpose.
Love will always see the divine value that each person has.
And love will always value the intimacy it has with each person regardless of their immaturity.
Lee Rollins - The Treasure Within.

The biggest lesson I learned from my experience growing up is that people do the very best they can with the tools they have.  Often people don't have all the tools they need, so their response is not the best - but we need to view them with compassion.  Isn't that what we're asking for when we make mistakes?