Mom Confessions and Updates

Mom Confessions

I haven’t blogged any real life confessions in a few weeks! I have had things to share, but we went on a vacation 2 weeks ago and had no wifi! So even though I had things I would have shared, I couldn’t…and can I confess that having a few weeks off felt good.

I love blogging, I love sharing my heart here and working out the nitty gritty of my faith, but when I start to feel the pressure to write, to have a certain number of posts in a week…it starts to lose its appeal.

Taking a break was good for me, necessary really and while I will continue to write, I am trying to lower the expectations I have for myself here.

Things have been a blur since coming back to the “real world.” We were scheduled to be greeters at church the Sunday morning after our return. Note to self, if you are randomly scheduled to greet the day after a vacation…switch with someone.

We were up until almost 1am unpacking and when the alarm went off I groaned…and I am a morning person! Karlena was the worst…crying that she was just SOOO tired! I felt her pain. But we were there, not with bells on…but we were there. The sermon was on baptism and so good..so there was a good reason we needed to be there besides greeting! :)

Last week flew by. I really don’t know what we did even. Why is it that you need a vacation from life after a vacation? We had a busy work week scheduled and I think we all struggled to maintain at full speed right out of the gate! Who does our scheduling anyways? A crazy person?!

Oh wait, that is me. :/

This week is VBS week.

VBS

I LOVE LOVE VBS week. Really it is a blast. I am helping lead the singing/dancing again this year and it is the highlight of my summer! It is the one time that I can laugh and dance and be goofy and I don’t feel people are judging me. And if they are I don’t even care because VBS just rocks so much!

I just unpacked my suitcase yesterday. I am honestly surprised that I did it this soon. But it was time, and I couldn’t find a second pair of clean socks to wear to VBS so it was necessary that I search for them in my bag. Isn’t unpacking after vacation the worst?

The Fruit Truck came to town last Friday and we purchased 40lbs of bing cherries. Yes we are nuts but oh were they delicious!! We also bought this cherry pitter.

Cherry Pitter

It was $22 and a splurge but oh how worth it! We set up an assembly line and had 20lbs pitted and frozen in no time!

This weekend the kids asked if they could do an experiment. Karlena grabbed a container and just wanted to add food coloring to water. Then Elijah joined in and wanted to make “goo”…he thought the ingredients were water, Elmer’s glue and “white powder”…I could have searched for a recipe but I was too tired…so we just let them dump and pour.

The result was not what they were hoping for and it made a mess everywhere.

Experiments

Karlena dripped green slops all over the floor. I have yet to mop it. I am secretly hoping the dog does the job for me. I know, I know.

I have fed the kids fried eggs for dinner 3 nights in a row. It is late when we get home from VBS and the kids are usually starving and since it seems we NEVER have anything to eat…eggs are the easiest answer. Thank goodness they love eggs.

We spent the afternoon on Sunday with friends and came home with 2 packs of farm-fresh eggs. Karlena calls them “chicken eggs”…I am not sure what animal’s eggs she thinks we eat normally, but apparently farm-fresh = chicken eggs.

There may be more I could share, but I am tired…and out of words. :) I hope you all have a wonderful rest of the week and hopefully I will be back sometime soon!

What a Zip Line Taught Me About Fear

Black Hills

We just got back from a week in the Black Hills of South Dakota. It is our third year vacationing there and we rented a cabin in Lead. The cabin was at the top of a mountain and it took 9 minutes and 38 seconds to get up or down the road.

It was kind of a treacherous road as well..I will have more on that at a later time. It was long and bumpy but lead to a beautiful cabin and view. We were remote in many ways…including that we didn’t have wifi. It was a true vacation and such a good week.

One of the days it was rainy and Dominic and I took Isaac, his friend Zach and cousin Casey to go through Rushmore Cave in Keystone. The little kids didn’t want to go so they stayed at the cabin for a “rest” day with the grandparents.

The cave was fun…beautiful really, and for the most part, the journey through was manageable. There were a couple of interesting spots where you had to watch your step, but overall it felt safe.

Then we headed to this 7-D theater experience where I was in last place for shooting zombies. This didn’t come as a shock to me as I was with 4 boys! 😉

The final part of our time there was supposed to be a zip-line ride. We headed up the hill and Dominic and I got on first. As soon as I was in the seat and my feet were dangling, I started to get second thoughts.

It wasn’t a terrible drop, but I am not one who loves the thrill of my stomach dropping in rides. I don’t like roller coasters and other rides like that. Panic waved over me and I said that I wanted to get off.

I know that Dominic was disappointed in me…he had just wanted to ride together. But, as in so many situations, when I feel fear, I want to run.

I didn’t think about praying, didn’t consider pushing through. I just got scared and I got off the ride.

Looking back this is so indicative of my faith life.

I can be happy go lucky if things are safe and going well…but the minute it becomes a little dangerous, or unknown, I bail.

As much as I feel I have grown this past 6 months in my dependence of God, this experience felt like a huge step back. I could have asked God to calm my spirit, could have just had courage to stand up to my fear, but I didn’t.

And it has bothered me ever since.

I don’t want to be ruled by fear, limited in what I can or will do because I am so afraid of the “what ifs.” I think for me, right now, this fear is coming from the reality that we will be sending Isaac off to school in a few months.

We visited the school again while we were there…I have some concerns, less about Isaac and more about what the environment will be like those first few weeks/months. Let’s just say the freshman all get to wear a ugly green beenie hat for like 2 months or more (no one we have ever asked will admit to the actual length of time….all the students “can’t remember”) AND while wearing the hat they can (and will) be forced to stop, get on their knees and sing a “I love my beenie hat song” at the whim of any upper classman.

That along with the parties and alcohol etc., that will be available (and it sounds like all freshman get forced pulled into those first few weeks)…I am suddenly entering this place of being unable to control what happens to Isaac and what the outcome may be.

Not like I ever had any control right? Maybe the illusion of control when he lives upstairs…but 7 hours away with a bunch of students who try and humiliate and pressure my first born. Ugh, this mama heart almost can’t handle it!

I am on that ride again and I just want off.

I told Isaac that I thought he needed to stay home another year before going off to school 😉 …I just need more time you know?! Time to make sure he is prepared for the real world, to make sure he can melt chocolate without scorching it (inside joke)….I haven’t possibly done enough.

And as I type these words I realize…like literally right this moment, I can see that I am so darn afraid that I haven’t been a good enough parent.

I should have been stronger, prayed over him more, encouraged him and prepared him, told him I loved him and hugged him more. I suddenly feel like a failure. He is going off to experience one of his biggest life changes yet and I want it to be good.

I want to be able to wrap an imaginary swath of bubble wrap around him so that he doesn’t have to experience hurt and failure and disappointment. I want everything to be roses and the reality is that it probably won’t be.

And as much as I know that he needs to go through these life lessons, just like I did. Oh how I want it to be easier! 

As a first time mama going through this, I am not sure how you survive?! I know that you do…I have seen others go before me. My own mom survived me and that was a feat in itself! ha!

I am at that moment where my feet are dangling and I know that it is going to be scary but I have to be able to trust that God has my son just like He always has me.

I have to let go.

I have to trust that God is with Him.

I have to trust that Isaac will go through what he needs to, and that his life experiences will hopefully draw him closer to God as well. He is a great kid and I just want amazing things for his life.

Will there be unknown? I am certain of it.

I am also certain that God loves Isaac even more than I do, and that He will be with him every step of the way.

Fear doesn’t have to control me. I can learn to let go and trust God. (<====Click to Tweet)

It probably won’t be a pretty journey on my part…but it is a step forward in the right direction!

If you want to see the lamo ride that I chickened out of you can check out the video below (or here if you are reading in an email) :)

YouTube Preview Image

#ReadItPrayIt

ReadItPrayIt

It is a joy for me to share with you a guest post today and a fun product that I know you will love! I met Kimberly through blogging and in person this past October at Allume! She has such a sweet heart for God’s Word and she has designed a product that is available on Etsy and it is the perfect way to dive into scripture even more! Thanks so much for being here Kimberly!

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Over the last few years, my little ones and I have been discovering the Word of God together. It started when my kids were young and I realized they had the ability to memorize Bible verses. As they got a bit older, I began to incorporate the scriptures we were learning into the prayers.

To help us along I created a set of 3×5 cards. On the front of the card it says “Read It”. That’s where the memory verse is printed. On the back of the card it say “Pray It”. There you’ll find the verse turned into a prayer. The topics cover such things like God’s protection (to prevent fear), courage (to make new friends at school), and thankfulness (to help them appreciate what they have).

We don’t just use these cards for scripture memorization. Here are a handful of other ways we’ve used them:

  • As a mini devotional. We read the Bible verse on the front of the card. Sometimes we look it up in another translation or read about it in a commentary to get a better sense of the context in which it was written. Then we talk about what the verse means. Once we are done, we close our time with the prayer that’s on the back of the card.
  • On the go as a pick me up. My kids like to keep a set in the their backpack or on hand in their room. They can go straight to the scripture that speaks to their situation, find encouragement, and pray. I like to keep a set in my purse or in my car. When I have a moment to spare, I pull them out, read them, meditate on them, and pray.
  • As prayers at bedtime. The cards guide us to pray about different topics each evening so that our prayers don’t become as predictable as our bedtime routine. Praying the many promises God has set out in His word acquaints us with who He is and what He desires to do in our life.

It’s been so amazing to see the spiritual growth of my children over the years and it is all because the Word of God has been planted in their heart through scripture memorization and prayer.

The cards I mentioned above are free to download on my blog, however, if you prefer the convenience of receiving these cards professionally printed, trimmed, and delivered to your mailbox, you can purchase them in my Etsy shop. Choose from a variety of topics or purchase the Starter Set that includes all 48 cards shared on my site.

In my shop you will also find NEW scripture cards available in 3 month, 6 month, and 1 Year subscriptions. They are available in the form of a digital download or printed product. The first set ships in August.

Kimberly

Kimberly Amici is a writer, designer, and community builder whose desire is for hearts to be healed, minds to be renewed, and women to be connected in fellowship just as God intended. She is known for her creativity, strong faith, and commitment to living life with purpose and passion. She is the co-founder and managing editor at Circles of Faith and a writer at Faith Gateway. She also blogs at Living in the Sweet Spot. Kimberly lives with her husband Carl and their three children in the NYC suburbs.

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Mom Confessions – Smiths in Real Life – Part Ten

Mom ConfessionsIt has been fun sharing my “confessions” here each week. Like therapy, but free! 😉 And even though I would love for you all to go on believing that I have it all together, that isn’t my reality. At all. So I am joining up with my friend Anna over at Girl With Blog and sharing some of my Mom Confessions.

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I may have told Karlena that I needed 3 minutes without words the other day…I really couldn’t take all the talking.  I promptly hurt her feelings and then came the tears. Awesome. So I apologized and gave her all.the.things. Because that’s how I roll sometimes. Ok all the time.

karlena crying

I have a new guilty pleasure. I am not typically an ice cream eater. But last time we were at the grocery store I saw some waffle ice cream comes on an end cap. There was a coupon for $1.50 off ice cream too so it seemed like a great treat for the kids.  I made the mistake of trying one myself. For whatever reason I thought I should line the inside of the cone with caramel sauce. Oh my goodness it was like my very own homemade drumstick. Oh it is so good. It was my dinner on Saturday night. I have a serious problem.

ice cream 1

ice cream 2Oh and after my ice cream I are Doritos…because I needed some salty after my sweet.

Folding/pairing socks together is not something I enjoy. I had let our basket get overrun again this week and begged the kids to help. I told them they didn’t even have to do the folding of the socks, just the matching. I came home later and found this…

socks pile

It was pretty funny actually, any movement at all and that stack was going down. But I was able to whip through the pile in no time flat so I was a happy mama!

One morning this week Karlena woke up and just wanted to watch horse jumping on my computer…in her room. I obliged and found her later like this, she cracks me up!

Karlena computer

The fruit truck came to town again on Monday and this time it was blueberries and melons. We bought 24 pints. What can I say our kids love fruit and these were sooo good! One the way home Dominic and I may (or may not have) eaten an entire pint.

blueberries

I plan on freezing a bunch so that I can use them in my blueberry banana bread recipe later in the year. Does a fruit truck come to your area? Next up is bing cherries and I can’t wait!!

And finally it was our 19 year anniversary on Monday and boy did Dominic surprise me!! I am usually a card giver…but the reality is, Dominic isn’t as moved by cards as I am…so I didn’t get him anything. We typically haven’t made a big deal out of our anniversary…although we should right?! Being married this long is hard work – we should reward ourselves!

Anyways, not only did he get me a beautiful card, acknowledging my love of words…he also made mention of it at church and we were recognized AND he ordered flowers for me that Isaac delivered to the office!

This is HUGE people! And I likely won’t get flowers next year, but this year…I am totally soaking it up! :)

Anniversary flowers

Aren’t they beautiful?! I was just so so excited!! I am enjoying them all week!

Well that’s about all my brain can muster right now. It has been a week of long days and nights and little sleep…but rest is in sight! Have a wonderful rest of the week!

Mom Confessions – Smiths in Real Life – Part Nine

Mom Confessions

How is it I have written 9 of these posts now?! It has been fun sharing my “confessions” here each week. Like therapy, but free! 😉 And even though I would love for you all to go on believing that I have it all together, that isn’t my reality. At all. So I am joining up with my friend Anna over at Girl With Blog and sharing some of my Mom Confessions.

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A few weeks ago Dominic ran to Walmart for me with the kids and got some groceries. He brought home a couple packs for toilet paper….good man right? Yes, but then we realized that he didn’t get the “right stuff.” He said it felt much heavier than he had remembered, but didn’t know why. So we decided to open a pack and try it out.

Let me tell you this stuff was NOT GOOD. it is the cheapest toilet paper we have ever encountered. So we had opened one pack and figured we were stuck with it…but decided to take the other one back to Walmart the other day.

mom confessions toilet paper

So, as they always do, the cashier asks us if there was anything wrong with the item we were returning? ahem….well actually yes, yes indeed there was. Dominic tells her that it was the worst toilet paper ever. That it was like wiping with a thistle. :) Oh we were all laughing by the time we were done. I am thinking we made that woman’s day because she laughed so hard…and I bet you anything she won’t ever buy that toilet paper!!

I don’t know if you saw my post yesterday about our Open House for Isaac? Well there were a couple of things that I didn’t share there that are fitting now.

First of all I never got around to washing my kitchen/dining room floors before the party. Yes there were sticky spots all around, but I ran out of time. And you know what?! It is a good thing I didn’t bother because after 100+ people came through our kitchen, got food and drinks…there were spills and I would have had to do it all over again.

So we decided that from now on we will clean after the party only! :)

Second there was a door that I was REALLLLLY embarrassed about. We had even tried about a month ago to get a new door to fix it but we couldn’t. The door is a screen door that is part of a built in insert and we can’t find a new glass storm door to replace it like we had hoped.

Here is why I wanted to fix the door.

broken door

It started when our dog would jump on the screen door to let us know she wanted back in the house…. she had that thing ripped to shreds in about 2 days.

So Dominic bought a new screen and this vinyl sheeting stuff and tried to build a barrier. One afternoon the big door was left open and from the inside she scratched at the screen and tore it again.

broken door 2

So now we have broken screen view from the inside and dirty white vinyl from the outside. It is gross and I hate not having a screen so we can let light and air in…but we are stuck right now. To replace it would mean removing siding to get to the door casing and would cost a lot of money….not happening now.

But yuck right?!

The reality is most of our guests on Saturday didn’t even go near the door and the ones that did were family and they don’t care. Why do I let things like this bother me so?! :)

And speaking of Isaac…this is some of the fun he has to look forward to when he starts school.

Mines beenie

Interestingly, they don’t tell the students about this when they visit the school…but we knew and apparently he will get to wear this beauty for a full semester. Kind of has a greek-initiation feel to it doesn’t it? All I can say is with my hair, that hat would NOT have happened. No sir!

And finally these….really are words even necessary?! Just that I want these and can’t stop thinking of them. They look so delicious! You are welcome!

knock yo naked bars

And so, that about wraps up our week. I am hoping to get back to some more consistent writing soon…but there are no promises. Have a blessed rest of the week!!

We Survived Our First Graduation

Isaac 3

As you may know, our oldest son graduated from High School a few weeks ago and this past Saturday we had his open house. This has been some major firsts for all of us and it was quite the experience. I am so proud of Isaac and all he has done in high school. I know this next phase is exciting, but WOW as a mom…I am learning how to let go and it is tough! 😉

So when I started to plan his open house I had NO IDEA how many people to actually expect. We sent out invitations to lots of family and friends, some of which I knew might not be able to come based on their distance from us. I invited some people closer via a FB group and with the responses from that group anticipated about 80 people, give or take.

Isaac chose a taco bar for the meal and long ago asked if he could have a chocolate fountain too. OF COURSE!! 😉

chocolate fountain

My mom was a HUGE help and did most of the shopping for me. Going to Sam’s and Costco to compare prices and send me lists of everything I was thinking we needed.

Looking back I maybe went a bit overboard….maybe.

I ordered 100 cupcakes from a woman locally that makes homemade and really amazing buttercream. They were so good and we didn’t have too many left, maybe 20? So it wasn’t bad.

open house 2But really with the chocolate fountain, I could have skipped the cake and we would have been fine.

We had lots of dipping choices, the best were the Bavarian cream puffs. I don’t love these plain, but covered in warm chocolate, TO DIE FOR!

chocolate fountain dipsI also may have had too many choices for the drinks. I served water but then thought I needed 2 different kinds of juice/punch. The whole “punch” was a bit of a fiasco. It was thrown together without a recipe but ended up being pretty good. Next time someone else can be in charge of that though!

open house 5The biggest hit was the punch (the one on the middle) it was a mix of Cran Lemonade, 7-Up and orange sherbet. The ratio? Can’t really say…it was more of a dump and stir thing happening with that! But we had to refill it twice…so all in all it was good!

The taco bar was the hardest to plan for. I mean really, how much meat do you need to feed an estimated 80-100 people?

Well I bought 40 pounds. Yes you heard me right, 40 pounds.

I know, I am shaking my head as well. But on the day of we had approximately 30lbs in the roaster pan and when it was all over only about 7lbs left! Just perfect actually. We ate some as leftovers and froze 1 containers worth for later! And as an added bonus I have 10lbs of hamburger browned and frozen for a quick meal later too!

open house 4We decided to go with large bags of chips instead of single serving ones…it was honestly about 1/2 the price. I had my mom get 6 bags of Doritos and 6 of the Fritos. We used 6 total. Thankfully chips don’t last long in my home…we will survive.

We also had small burrito shells, which was inspired by our Gabriel who doesn’t like chips. I had 2 packages of 20 and we ran out!  I also had mom get 2 large bags of shredded cheese and we didn’t even open one…so good to know for the next time! And we had the largest tub of sour cream that I have ever seen and used almost all of it! Crazy!

open house garageMy mom helped decorate the garage with Gabriel assisting on Saturday morning. We were grateful to have borrowed the tables and chairs from our church so I didn’t have to rent those. We fit 4 tables for seating in our garage and 1 for our candy bar!

Another fun Pinteresty project I saw when I was planning and it too was a big hit!

open house candy bar

I had grandiose ideas of how it would look and got all of my containers at GoodWill or the Dollar Tree to keep costs down…it didn’t execute as cute as the pictures online but people liked it none the less! We chose to shares Isaac’s favorites and had little paper gift bags that people could take a treat with them.

open house candy bar signI was worried that no one would see them but Isaac did a great job of telling people about it. Lots of people liked to be able to take a treat with them for the road.

The open house was so much fun. Exhausting and crazy but such a blessing to have so many people come and help us celebrate Isaac! Our house was full, our garage was full. It was wonderful!

open house

open houseIt was so nice to have so many from my family here that day too. Aunts and Uncles, Great Aunts and Uncles, Cousins and Second Cousins, grandparents and my sister and her family! And I think at this moment pictured above was the only time that my mom sat down all day! She worked hard, we couldn’t have done the party without her help!

Oh and did I show you the wall of Isaac?!

My friend Courtney is AMAZINGLY talented. She does a lot of furniture refinishing and I mentioned that I needed to build a frame for Isaac’s pictures. It was massive, I wanted it to fill the wall and it is perfect. It may never ever come down! Once I take down Isaac’s pictures I can see the kids art, Christmas cards, birthday cards…all on the wall. Courtney I can’t thank you enough!!

open house wall of Isaac

So yep, we survived. We are tired but blessed and so very grateful for the love that all of you showered on our son. Thank you so much!

Mom Confessions – Smiths in Real Life – Part Eight

Mom Confessions

What fun these “confession” posts have been….are you loving them like I am? There is something freeing about laying it all out there. And even though I would love for you all to go on believing that I have it all together, that isn’t my reality. At all. So I am joining up with my friend Anna over at Girl With Blog and sharing some of my Mom Confessions.

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I shared yesterday that I struggle with jealousy. Mostly and more specifically over other women. All you beautiful, creative, funny, well put together women. I see you and I think I need what you have. I stop praising God for all of the wonderful ways He made me unique and start wishing I could be someone else.

It isn’t healthy and I am seeing it for what it is. Part of the process of working through that is sharing these weekly posts. Knowing jealousy is a struggle for me, tells me that maybe it is a struggle for you as well. So I share some laughs here so that I can work at being a bit more real.

burned baconOn Dominc’s birthday last week I got up early to make him a special birthday breakfast complete with hashbrowns, eggs and bacon. I decided to try the bacon in the oven so I didn’t have to be watching it all morning…and I promptly left it unattended long enough that I burned it. Happy Birthday Dominic.

Then for dinner the next night I wanted to make some roasted mushrooms. I was too lazy to add some chopped onion and we ran out of olive oil. So left unattended once again, those dehydrated to the point that they were not good. Awesome!

burned mushroomsThey had a funny smell. The whole thing was sad. I don’t even remember what we were trying to eat with them, but they were not good.

Isaac’s graduation was Friday night and I took pictures with both my camera and my phone. Not a single one turned out. Not a one! Case in point….

isaac graduation

Now I know Isaac was the really tall guy in the row of shorter girls…but you can’t see his face, or anyone else’s for that matter. I am hoping that the professional one that was taken of him that will cost me $56 for a 5×7 is good…that may be my only hope! 😉

Each day before I leave for work I give the boys some jobs to do. They have to have some responsibilities or they would stay glued to the tv all day. On Friday I asked them to give the dog a bath. She had thrown up in her very large kennel and then laid right in it. Because of course.

She smelled bad and needed a bath. Isaac sent me a text when they were done asking if I knew what had happened to the dog brush. She had snarls and they needed to be combed.

Our conversation went down like this….

Did you check xyz?….yep not there.

Know of any comb or brush that is old we could use?

Now here is where my judgement lapsed. In all sincerity, I thought I could just buy a new $3 brush…I mean it really was the only option.

So I told Isaac that Dominic had 2 brushes. One in the bathroom and another in his travel bag. Use one of those and I can clean it…or just buy him a new one. It made sense in my mind at the time….

HairbrushSo he used the hairbrush and I forgot about it. Until that afternoon at lunch one of our kids decided to get extra gabby and tell Dominic that Isaac used the brush on the dog. Knowing that I had given him the order to use it, I fessed up and told Dominic why it made sense in my mind. He wasn’t seeing it from my perspective. Can you blame him?! So now we get to laugh over the “dog butt brush”…

Sometimes I just don’t think things through, or maybe I just think I won’t get caught and then when I do…well I have some ‘splaining to do! :)

So there you have it. A week full of laughs, mistakes, and burned food. Sometimes I can’t win. In a few days we have the big graduation open house. I have gone overboard (as I always do) and browned 40lbs of hamburger in anticipation of our taco bar feast. If you are joining us- come hungry!

Have a wonderful rest of the week friends!

For When The Wall Needs to Come Down

Wall Crumbling

We all have walls in our lives that need to come down.

I personally struggle with jealousy in a BIG way. It is a wall around my heart, the need to compare, the envy of others and how “put together” they may seem. My focus on what is important is skewed.

It is one of the reasons that I started sharing my Mom Confessions here. I hope that I haven’t ever come across to another as “having it all together,” because I don’t. Ever. If sharing a few of my failures each week keeps me more transparent, well it is a necessary practice.

Sometimes God calls us to the hard. He calls us to step out in faith and do the seemingly impossible. We dream big God-sized dreams and often enter them knowing that without God’s help, we can’t accomplish them.

I have been in this place many times. My “word’ for this year is Depend and man has God given me multiple opportunities to put my money where my mouth is. Do I really believe what I say here? In the walking out of my faith am I actually trusting God with everything and not just saying that I want to?

This hasn’t been a fun 5 months. I would love to tell you that I have it figured out but I don’t. The one thing that I do know is that fear can have a huge factor in my actions.

What will people think? 

What if I heard God wrong?

What if this isn’t what He wants for me anymore?

How will I know….how can I possibly discern His will in my life?

Have you ever faced those questions?

I am convinced that fear is often what the enemy uses in my life to keep me from moving forward. (<===Click to Tweet)

I can be certain of a calling from God, but then if when it doesn’t go exactly as I had planned/hoped/imagined…I start to second guess everything. I wonder if I have made a mistake and I start looking for an “out.”

Heck, I have a heart for community. Loved the idea of the turquoise table, FINALLY got one in my yard, shared the idea with my church. And guess how many parties I have had? NONE. It has been the coldest (weather wise) and busiest (work & family wise) 6 weeks we have had…and my passion sits on the back burner.

And if I can be completely honest, that table taunts me some days.  “All talk and no action huh?!” “Maybe this was a mistake, besides hosting scares you…” “What a joke you are….”

The fear creeps in, the lies come more loudly and I start to doubt God’s call for community in my life.

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I have seen this in other areas as well.

Whether it is a project, a new business, a campaign at church…we prayerfully enter into new opportunities and trust God’s plan. We move forward, do our best, and set expectations that are God-sized.

We know we need God to achieve the plans He has given us….but when it doesn’t come together like we thought it would, the fear and the doubt start to creep in.

Did we hear God correctly?

Should we continue forward?

Don’t we have a responsibility to be responsible with what God has given us?

All legitimate and valid questions. All worth discussing and exploring.

But having walked through some unknown seasons of my own, I start to see things from a different perspective.

I can see how we so often act in fear, myself included. And quite honestly, I am sick and tired of living my life in chains.

Healthy fear can be ok. I don’t stand in the middle of the road, in oncoming traffic to test God’s plan for my life and safety. But I am choosing to walk forward in faith when God’s calling is present, even if it means it might be hard…or unknown.

In the Bible we see stories time and time again of people that God called to do something hard, impossible..unfathomable even.

Read the story of the Wall of Jericho in Joshua 6. There was a literal wall that needed to come down. So God tells Joshua that he and his men need to march around the wall, once a day for 6 days. And on the 7th day they marched around 7 times and once they had marched the final time around they shouted out and the wall fell.

It is impossible.

Without God, it is impossible that men marching around a wall for a week would cause it to crumble. Some may have thought that Joshua was a little bit crazy, don’t you think? And after about the 3rd day…don’t you think the questioning started? Maybe the doubt started to settle in deep.

What if they had quit? What if they had believed the lie that this call wasn’t from God?

And then there is Abraham.

Oh you know Abraham and his beloved son Isaac? The entire story is found in Genesis 22. Go spend some time there reading it. Here is my favorite part of that story. Abraham was OLD, he finally has his promised son, who is guessed to be a teenager at this point. God tells him to sacrifice his son and both Abraham and Isaac start on their journey.

They even get to the point where the alter is built, and Abraham is ready to do what God has called…and just in time God provides an alternate sacrifice. He tested Abraham and because he was faithful, generations of people were blessed.

Generations were blessed.

There are so many more that I could share, but I encourage you to spend some time searching yourself.

You may find yourself in a time of testing. Can we trust God with the vision He has given us? Go ahead and ask the questions that come, spend time in serious prayer asking for God’s wisdom. But know this, from my experience I have seen this to be true…we can question and pray and explore the best angles but sometimes we are just called to keep walking forward.

If God didn’t want the wall to come down after all of that walking, it wouldn’t have come down. Joshua was faithful to what God had called him to, even if it seemed impossible, and ultimately God’s plan for the wall was seen.

Whatever wall you have in your life that needs to come down….march on forward. Be prayerful, ask for discernment, but march on friends. March on!

Photo Credit: E.Briel

When Hospitality Looks Like A Late Night Cupcake Tasting

Cupcake TastingI think I need to start this post with an admission…or an apology. But it is highly likely that if you call our house, I will not answer the phone. Oh I may be there…but I am not going to answer an actual call. I know it is silly…I pretty much hate making or taking phone calls. It is something in my introverted self that feels intimidated by the potential for the “awkward silence.” So I screen and call back when necessary.

Last night I had already changed into my “don’t go out of the house lounge clothes.” Dominic was outside getting the garbages out and I was on the couch when the phone rang. I honestly figured it was the school with a graduation related announcement…so I let it go.

Then I heard the voice on the machine…was that Amy saying something about cupcakes and Dominic’s birthday? Sure enough, my friend Amy from church was calling asking if we were still up…she was making cupcakes and wanted to know if they could bring us some for Dominic’s birthday!

Can you even believe that?! Seriously I was blown away!!

So Dominic came inside and I played the message…he was surprised too. He said we could go over and pick up a few cupcakes… 😉 As a side story Amy and her husband Greg bought a house that we had looked at online several times before we moved here. It is a beautiful, older brick home with a ton of character…we had always wanted to see it in person.

So I called her back. It was 9:30 at night, I was in clothes I wouldn’t ever wear outside of the house…and we asked if we could come over instead. She said yes and we headed over.

Sometimes outrageous hospitality looks like a late night cupcake party! (<====Click to Tweet)

The heavenly smell that came out of their kitchen when they opened the door to us was AMAZING. Amy was making cupcakes for her kids to take to school on one of their last days. Lots and lots of cupcakes and all sorts of wonderful flavors.

Cupcakes with oreos on the bottoms and others with strawberries in the center. She was trying a few new recipes out, new creations, and wanted us to try a little bit of everything so we could tell her if it was a recipe she should use again.

She and her family gave us a tour of their home. She said don’t judge…it’s lived in. But all I could see was a space filled with love. Yep there may have been messes in the kids rooms and clothes in piles (just like my own)…but it didn’t matter. When you open your home, as it is, and invite people in…the condition of the space is the last thing that will be seen. What is seen is love.

We were showered with love last night.

The fact that she called and offered to share some cupcakes with us because she saw it was Dominic’s birthday was one thing. The fact that they opened their home, made us feel welcome and shared laughter and stories and cupcakes until probably way too late on a school night…that is hospitality.

She has a gift, not only in baking, but in making people feel like family. 

We went home last night full and with a few extra cupcakes to share. But more importantly we felt a covering of God’s love in a way we haven’t in awhile. All she did was pick up the phone and make a call.

Is it really that simple?!

Honestly I forget sometimes how easy community can be if we are willing to step out and make a simple call. What a reminder that was for me last night. What a blessing to be remembered.

Amy, what a blessing you were to us last night. Thank you for simply picking up the phone and making that call…for inviting us in and stuffing us full of your amazing creations. 😉 I pray that God pours our a special measure of blessings on you today!

Happy 40th Birthday Dominic!!

DSC_8158Today is a special day in the Smith home because my husband has FINALLY reached the glorious ranks that I have been living in since January. Yep that’s right…he is 40 today! 😉

I know that he isn’t as thrilled about turing 40 like I was….I did however get spoiled to a fun surprise weekend away. And while we aren’t wisking away for a fun filled adventure…I did want to take a moment and honor my man.

Dominic, I know we have different thoughts about how birthdays are celebrated…but I couldn’t start my day without telling you how much I love you. We have walked through difficult times but we have grown so much through them. We have laughter now. Sometimes at the most peculiar things…but it is a joy to be able to share life with you.

I was afraid what would happen when we started working together. Yes I may have quit 6 times in the first year…but you stuck with me in spite of my drama and today we make a great team. You work so hard for our family. I know most people don’t see the time, the hours, you spend so that our clients feel like they have received the best plan they can get. You truly care about each of the clients we work with. What an honor to be a part of the legacy you are leaving.

You love our kids well and I am so grateful that we have the opportunity to be parents together. You said once that our kids are one of the best things about the two if us together and you were right. They are amazing. They have a little of you and a little of me in them…and watching their personalities grow and develop has been fun.

I wouldn’t choose to do this life with anyone else.

You have taught me that life can be falling apart and yet we can still trust God. You had faith at a time that mine was failing…you were my rock. Thank you for continuing to work out your own faith so that you can be an example to me and our kids.

And while life isn’t and can’t be perfect, it is better than I could have hoped for when we first met. Yep we argue at times and we mess up…but I have never doubted your commitment to me. Thank you for always being steadfast in that.

I know that at times 40 feels old…but my prayer is that we have another 40 together. (Oh boy can you even imagine us at 80 together?!) 😉 Today I celebrate you. I thank God for allowing me to be a part of your past, present and future and I pray that you would be showered with blessings today and in the coming year.

I love you, Happy Birthday!

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