Filled With Peace

People have asked how I am doing recently, and honestly I am pretty good. I shared how the first few days were pretty anxiety-filled but for the most part now I have a sense of peace about everything.

Not the peace that everything is going to turn out exactly as I hope, because I just don’t know that. This is a peace that regardless of what happens, God will be with me and I will be ok.

I am ready for my pre-op appointment. It is this Wednesday and Dominic will be coming with me. My wise friend Sherry told me to make sure that I gave him permission to ask whatever questions he may have. Especially if I am not asking them myself. She shared that when she went through a recent medical scare she just blanked when the doctor started talking about the surgery she was facing….she couldn’t think of anything to ask. So Dominic knows that I appreciate his voice in this and I am just grateful that he can be there.

We have been talking about this on and off for a few weeks now and Dominic has been praying about my surgery in the morning so our kids know something is going on. A few nights ago we were headed out to get pumpkins and broom corn from a farmer friend and Gabe started asking some questions.

So we told them that there was  a cyst and it isn’t “normal” and it needs to come out. Gabe asked if it was cancer. I told him that I didn’t know for certain, but I was hopeful it wasn’t. But we couldn’t know anything for sure if I didn’t have it removed. Gabe said that he knew how he could be praying for me. What a gift it is to have my kids praying for me.

I assured them that I trusted my Doctor and that she saved my life once before, she would take care of me this time too. Elijah wasn’t sure that was true so he asked Dominic if it was. It was funny actually, once Dominic said yes it was true Elijah says “OK I believe you!” Oh he makes me laugh!

Yes there are some scary unknowns, I honestly am most worried about my recovery after the surgery. The last laparoscopic surgery I had should have been a 2 hour recovery time and then I would have gone home but I was there for HOURS. Poor Dominic was so hungry and I was so sick. I couldn’t keep anything down. The meds made me nauseous and the gas they pumped into my abdomen caused such terrible referred pain in my shoulder that I could hardly move.

So if you are the praying kind, prayers for a better recovery this round would be so appreciated.

Yesterday a couple of young men came by our home to talk to me about their faith and their church. I will be honest, when I saw them coming down the street I initially wondered how I might avoid the conversation. I guess I didn’t feel prepared to “defend” my beliefs.

I was outside in my garage canning salsa though so there was really no getting away. So I said a little prayer that God would give me the words to say. They asked if I had a faith in God and I shared that I did. They went further and wanted to talk to me about the other things that their church believes. We had some dialogue back and forth and they asked me if they left me their “book” if I would read it.

I was kind, but I said no. I didn’t need another book besides the Bible to tell me about Jesus. That was “proof” enough for me. I didn’t need another book or a profit to tell me what I already knew from the written word of God. I have a personal relationship with Him. I believe Jesus was the Son of God, He died for my sins and because of my faith and trust in Him, I would someday be in heaven with Him.

They respected my no, and told me that the number on the back of their card they gave me could be used if we ever needed help for any reason…that they were on mission for God for the next 2 years. I told them that while I didn’t agree with the teachings of their church, I respected that they were going out and sharing their faith. How many Christians do you know that would go door to door and share their faith in Jesus? I’ve never done it!

They left and I went over in my mind the things I had shared, wondering if I had honored God with my words…I hoped that they left knowing that I was kind and respectful towards them, but firm in my own faith. Oh and I invited them to my church…because it just seemed right!

Today in church the message was in part about the Great Commission. When Jesus commanded his disciples to go, baptize and teach in His name. Kent told us that each of us have been given gifts and that we can use those gifts to help fulfill the Great Commission. Maybe evangelism isn’t my gift, but writing is. So how can I use my God-give gifts and talents to bring Him glory?

Well, by sharing these moments in my life.

I won’t sugar coat it and wrap it up in a pretty little bow and pretend that because I have Jesus my life is perfect. No, my life is a mess almost 100% of the time and it is exactly why I need Jesus!

I struggle with fear and uncertainty, I question God and sometimes I even argue with Him. But He is my constant. He has always been there for me. He always will be. It doesn’t matter what happens at my surgery, if I have to take meds I don’t want to take for several years, or if it is something more….whatever happens God will be there.

I don’t know how people go through difficulty without a relationship with God. I was thinking about what I shared at my best friend Karlena’s funeral back in 2010. She had such an incredible faith and I wanted what she had. I wanted to be able to trust God even if I knew that my life would end up differently than I had hoped. She had that trust in spite of the incredible difficulties she faced every day, especially at the end.

But one of her biggest concerns was that all her family and friends might come to know God and have a relationship with Him like she did. She wanted to be reunited again in heaven. So at the end of my talk I shared that. I said that she would have wanted to see everyone in that room with her again some day and there was only one way to have that assurance, and that was a faith in God. My dad later commented that it was like I did an old fashioned altar call.

Friends, I feel just as strongly today as I did that day. Our time is short. we don’t know the day or the hour that we will be called away or that Christ will return. If you are reading this and don’t have a personal relationship with Jesus, would you please reach out to me. I would love to talk with you and pray for you. There is a peace that passes all understanding that is available through God, believe me I know this first hand and I am so grateful for it. I’d love to introduce you to my Jesus.

It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas

Are you singing the song yet? Sorry about that! It is no secret that Christmas is my favorite time of the year. From the Christmas carols, the beautiful trees, the celebration of the birth of Christ…there is something so wonderful about all of it.

So when my friends at DaySpring contacted me and asked if I was interested in getting a sneak peak at some of their newest Christmas items a few months in advance of decorating time, I jumped at the chance!

One of the things I love most about the DaySpring products is that they center around the real reason for the season. Christ has come! Each of the pieces they sent me captures that message in its own unique way.

The Nativity Hurricane Trio Luminary Set has to be my favorite item from the set. I purchased the original hurricane set years ago and have it up in my home year round, but this set is so beautiful. I don’t know that I will be able to put it away after Christmas is over! One of the things that makes it so unique is that it can be displayed and enjoyed from both the front and the back!

On the front each piece has a different word at the bottom. Savior, Jesus and Messiah. On the back are three different Bible verses! Matthew 1:21, I John 4:14 and Luke 2:10. I will be displaying mine on my fireplace mantle but these would be beautiful on a bookshelf or as a centerpiece on your dining room table.

The Christmas Door Banner is bright and bold and fits around your door so that there is a message on both the front and the inside of the door. It was easy to install and could be used on any door in your home!

These Boxed Christmas cards will be donated to a friend at church who has a ministry of making sure that people are given cheer and encouragement through the written word. When I received the cards I knew she would put them to good use. I love getting Christmas cards, don’t you?! We do send Christmas cards/pictures and a letter each year to our family, friends and business clients. The list keeps growing and at times it seems like a lot to keep up with, but people tell us again and again that they love to receive them so we keep doing it! Do you send cards out at Christmas?

If you have been to my house during Christmas you have seen my multiple Christmas trees. They are becoming so heavy with ornaments that I have threatened to buy another tree. I LOVE ornaments. I have ornaments that my mom collected for me when I was a child and now I do the same thing each year with my kids. This Glory to God Porcelain ornament is beautiful. I will be adding the date on the back of it so that I can remember what year I received it and probably will be ordering a few more from DaySpring’s collection!

And finally, I received this fun Christmas Countdown board. I have one of those chalk pens and wrote in a number inside of the star. This could be hung anywhere in your home and every day your kids could help you countdown the days until Christmas. And just for fun, in case you were wondering, it is 95 days until Christmas today!

Here are a few items that I haven’t seen in person but look like something I’d love to have in my home!

The Joy to the World Round Wall Hanging would be a fun addition to my wall space.

We have the Shepherd on the Search Advent kit from last year and it’s a great alternative to the Elf on the Shelf!!

I love the rough wood look of this A Savior is Born plank!

And these hand-thrown mugs are awesome, they have four styles, Jesus, Peace, Joy and Shine!

As you can see there are a variety of items to choose from in a wide price range. DaySpring offers free shipping on all orders over $50 as well!

I love DaySpring products. You will find them all over my home. It was a joy to receive these pieces for free in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts and opinions are my own! Affiliate links throughout.

What is your favorite piece from the new collection?!

A Moment to Breathe

I shared last week some of the scary stuff that is going on in my life right now and you were all so encouraging to me, offering prayer and support. Thank you. I know that no matter what, I am not going through this alone and that is so comforting!

That said, I have certainly had my moments of crazy-town as early on I spent waaaay too much time consulting Dr. Google. Let me tell you that Dr. Google doesn’t always have the best bedside manner and may often leave you in a fit of panic.

At one point I voxed my best friend and lamented my woes to her and I almost spent $449 on a mattress cooling pad thingy without talking to Dominic because I was certain that I would be recovering in a pile of sweat after my surgery and didn’t want to be in pain and drowning in my own nastiness. I tend to have a flair towards the dramatic….

Thankfully I did not purchase said mattress pad and she lovingly but sternly told me that I was banned from Dr. Google until after my pre-op appointment that is still a LONG 9 days away, and I was not allowed to purchase any products right now to treat something I am not yet dealing with! She was right though. And as I laughed about it with Dominic later that evening he reminded me that I was essentially “paying the fine for a ticket I hadn’t even gotten”….I have a tendency to jump the gun a little if you haven’t noticed.

The next morning I got up and found an empty prayer journal. I had been really good about writing out my prayers a year ago and then I got busy and I stopped. But I knew that in this season especially, I needed to take a few moments in the morning and focus on centering my life and my heart in prayer.

When I write the prayers out I can go back and see all the ways that God has answered those prayers, and it keeps me focused. My mind can’t wander as easily and I am forced to put my phone down {ahem}.

It doesn’t take much time in the morning, but it’s a moment to breathe, to focus on prayer and to spend time with God.

I recently shared on Facebook that I was blessed to be a part of a new devotional that is coming out from (in)courage called A Moment to Breathe. 365 Devotions that meet you in your everyday mess. Well isn’t that just perfect for me? And even more exciting is that the book will be available for purchase on October 3rd. The very day of my surgery.

A day that I will be waking up hungry and scared and nervous can now instead be marked by excitement and honor to be featured as an author alongside some of my most favorite authors! It really feels pretty unbelievable to me still!

Right now, and while supplies last, when you order your copy of A Moment to Breathe here though Lifeway, Lifeway will send you this beautiful mug (pictured above) for free! And the mug ships right away, I know because I ordered several to give as gifts and they are HUGE and beautiful!!

It is a perfect gift and the book is something that you will be able to read again and again!! I hope that you will order a copy for yourself and maybe a copy to share with a good friend, I know we all can use a moment to breathe in the midst of our mess can’t we?!

Yes, But….

I know when it has been too long since I posted last when I have forgotten the password to log into my own site! Hello friends, thanks for being here with me today. It is funny how much changes in a year’s time. Last year at this time I was writing away, planning for my 31-day challenge on Fervent Prayer. And then somehow after that, the words just stopped. I am not one to force words out just to have a post, thus the long lengths of silence here. I can’t promise that things will be changing soon but I do want to share a little bit of what is going on with me and ask for some prayer in the coming weeks.

Part of my reason for sharing this more personal information is so that I can look back at it and remember, and also because as I have done some of my own research I am finding that first-hand accounts are rare and quite honestly, I get lost in the complexity of medical terminology. When I had my PRK surgery I blogged honestly about my experience and so I thought I might do a little of that here today.

Some back story for those that don’t know it…it will become important to the rest of the story in a minute.

Sometime in 2001 I believe I had a very scary experience when a large cyst, that I didn’t know was growing on the underside of my left ovary, burst and basically tore my ovary and fallopian tube to shreds. I remember feeling a funny “pop” in my gut and then feeling uncomfortable all day at work. I didn’t know what was going on but I was stubborn and ignored the symptoms.

It wasn’t until later in the day that I started to black out as I would stand up. Someone called a women from a neighboring department who was an EMT and she came and took my blood pressure and it was really low. I decided to drive myself (I know I am that stubborn) to the local acute care to be checked out.

At this point I was in terrible pain in my abdomen and could hardly stand up straight. They did an X-ray and couldn’t figure out what was going on. They wanted to send me to the ER and thankfully had me call my mom to come and get me because it was unsafe for me to drive. In the ER they did a CT scan and discovered I was filled with blood and figured it was some sort of “female” problem. My OB/GYN doctor was called in to do an emergency exploratory surgery.

I remember being on the table as they prepped me, being ready to be put to sleep and she came in. She has long red hair and it looked like fire to me next to her blue scrubs and the white walls and lights. I begged her to save my ovaries so that I could have more babies. We only had Isaac at that point and I knew I wanted more kids.

She told me that she would do her best but that if it was a decision between my life and my ability to have more kids, she would save me. I woke up and the first thing I asked was if I had lost everything. I hadn’t. She had been able to save the right ovary. They had removed blood clots the size of lemons from around the my lungs. I had bled internally from approximately 11am to 9pm. I was on the verge of needing a blood transfusion but they decided to wait and ultimately I didn’t need one.

I credit my doctor for saving my life. They said if I had ignored the woman at work and decided to drive home instead I likely would have died. After that surgery I was able to have 3 more children. It wasn’t necessarily easy, but we had Gabe in 2003, a miscarriage in 2007, Elijah in 2009 and Karlena in 2010.

After Karlena I went on birth control. I hadn’t used it for years because we stuggled so much to get pregnant it wasn’t necessary, but then our girl was a surprise to us so quickly after Elijah and we knew after 4 that we were done…so I decided to take something.

I didn’t love how the birth control made me feel. I know for most people there aren’t side effects, but I felt big emotional swings and developed dark melasma patches on my cheeks. A few years ago I started using essential oils more, started replacing many of our products with more “nautral” ones and tried to eliminate products that used parabens etc. from our cabinets. In 2014 I decided to have my tubes tied so that I could eliminate the need for the hormones all together.

10 months ago I started working out consistently with the Beachbody programs. I am consistently doing something at least 5 days a week if not more. I have lost and kept off 10lbs and also lost 10 inches from my hips and waist! I stopped drinking sugared juices in October and drink only water now. I don’t eat 100% “clean” but I know that I am healthier today and in better shape than I have been in years.

Since my tubal, my cycles have been a little funny. When you take a hormone to control them, they come on a specified day and typically end on a specified day. When you leave your body to naturally handle that on it’s own, it doesn’t always do it the same way. That has been the case with me. I have been tracking my cycles each month for over 2 years and while they have been somewhat consistent, recently I was noticing some changes. It was an extra extended cycle that brought me into my doctor last week for a check.

They ran some blood work and did an initial check of me and scheduled an ultrasound for this past Tuesday. I thought it was possible that my symptoms were a result of perimenopause. I had been told that women can go through some of the menopausal symptoms for up to 10 years before they are finally through it. (Great right?!) So I thought maybe this was my deal. Not ideal, but manageable.

The ultrasound on Tuesday revealed that there was a little more going on than just perimenopause symptoms. The doctor ran a CA125 blood screen to see if that was elevated. She explained that if it was it “may” be an indicator of cancer and the growth that was seen on the ultrasound would likely need to be removed. If not we could probably just watch it, but she wanted to get the radiologist’s full report to determine that as well.

They called yesterday and thankfully the CA125 was in a normal range, as was my thyroid and my FSH test. But the cyst on my only ovary has “focal thickening” and apparently that is concerning and it needs to come out.

The surgery itself is pretty simple. The doctor does it over her lunch hour. Bad for me because I am going to be STARVING since I won’t be able to eat after midnight the night before…but what do you do? Anyways, the biggest problem I am having right now is that depending on IF the cyst looks benign she may be able to remove it without taking the ovary. But IF any of that isn’t the case, it will all have to go and I will effectively be put into what is called “surgical menopause”.

Google that for some fun stories if you want to cry a little with me. Nevermind, don’t. Basically when the ovaries are removed the body immediately loses all estrogen production and so unlike a typical woman going through perimenopause who slowly loses estrogen, mine would immediately stop. From what I am reading it is very likely that ALL the symptoms of menopause could happen, like right away at any time. (Google was NOT my friend yesterday, I’m telling you!)

So the doctor mentioned that I would probably have to be on hormone replacement therapy. This is exactly what I wanted to avoid. When someone says “Oh those side effects only happen to 1 in 5 women”…well I am the 1.

But if I don’t take the HRT there are pretty huge and scary risks especially for women that are under the age of 45. Like being 7 times more likely to develop heart disease, increased risk of osteoporosis, and a doubled risk of Parkinson’s disease and dementia. All scary stuff.

Can I tell you that my heart starts beating fast and I get a little nauseous thinking about all of that! And there is so much info out there, how do you trust what is true and what is hype? I start to get in a panic and things spin quickly out of control.

Breathe, just breathe……

Dominic reminded me last night that we should be grateful that she didn’t call and say the CA125 was elevated. Yes, but…

And I realized that even though I had stopped to ask some close friends to pray about it for me, I hadn’t myself stopped to give it over to God.

Do you trust Me?

Lord, Yes, but….

I do, and I am grateful…but I didn’t want this.

I do, but I am scared and I don’t want to make the wrong decision.

I do, but I would have been happier if the answer was even simpler.

I don’t know yet (today) what is going to happen. My surgery is tentatively scheduled for October 3rd. I will meet with my doctor on the 27th to discuss all the options and risks etc. I am praying for wisdom and discernment, and for peace that whatever happens will be right for me medically speaking.

I am grateful that the blood test was normal. I do not want a repeat of what happened in 2001, even if it means surgical menopause.

Last week two of my closest friends whom I vox with every day were in Houston facing the terror of Hurricane Harvey. I have never in my life been so invested in fervent prayer for someone. I prayed over and over that God would spare their homes. I prayed crazy, bold prayers, that His army of angels would surround their homes and that not a drop of water would be allowed to enter their door frames.

At one point last week it seemed that all hope was lost, one friend was being evacuated by FEMA and the waters were rising fast. They were told that all the homes in the neighborhood would be covered. And yet by some miracle, the water stopped rising, and held and didn’t enter their homes.

God hears prayer. I was a first-hand witness to it. I also know that there are times those prayers don’t get answered in the way we would hope. I can’t explain why so many people did lose their homes, and others were spared. I can’t explain why my blood test would be negative but I know that there was likely a woman receiving different news yesterday.

I believe that the God that held back the waters, is the same God that will be there for me. But I have to be willing to let go of the outcome. I don’t want to have a “Yes, but…” kind of faith. In any of life’s storms I want to be able to say “Yes, Lord I trust You.” Regardless of the outcome. I won’t always get the answer I am hoping for. But I can look for the many reasons to be grateful along the way.

This has gotten incredibly long, and kuddos to anyone of you that has stuck with me. I will probably try and share more as I go through this. I know my experience will be unique to me, but being able to read someone else’s real life experience is so much more helpful (in my opinion) than 10-year-old forum chat boards that become quickly overwhelming.

So as I have more to share, I will do that and thank you in advance for anyone who is praying for me, I appreciate it so much!!

Well Hello There!

It has been quite a time away again hasn’t it?! I realized that almost 6 weeks has passed since I shared anything here. In many ways I miss writing and honestly in other ways it has felt good to step away for awhile.

I have been writing though, a little. I am excitedly involved in 2 projects that I will be able to tell you more about this fall. It was an honor to participate and once again I will get to see my words in actual print! Some of the other writers involved are my writing heroes so to be included alongside them is surreal!

Speaking of printed words, I spent several months this winter working on a surprise for my mom and my grandma that I was finally able to share with them on Mother’s Day so I can finally share it here now too!

We participated in a leadership training class through my church this year. One of the other participants has an interesting hobby. He loves to print and bind books! He has a detailed process for how he goes about it and when I heard that I asked him if he would be willing to take some of my blog posts from this blog and my old family blog and put them into a book for me to give as a gift.

He agreed and I set to work copying the posts I wanted to use over to a Word document. It was a big task as it was over 121,000 words! Stories from my heart and my life from 2008 – 2016. He helped design the cover and the font etc., he really was such a gift to me and it was incredibly special to be able to share my words in printed form like that with my mom and grandma!

That is the one thing that I love so much about blogging, it is a record keeper of our life. As I went back through some of those old posts I could see how much not only my writing had matured, but how I had changed as well. Spiritually, emotionally…it has been a journey and not always an easy one. But my prayer has always been that my words would be a reflection of God’s work in my life.

God has always been there, even in the hardest, darkest moments. I don’t always see it in the moment, but when I read old stories it is a reminder of all He has done!

Speaking of God’s work in our lives, on Easter Sunday we did one of those Cardboard Testimonies during the worship service. There were about 10 of us I think that got up to share how God had worked in our lives. Dominic and I went up as a couple and it was really powerful and a testament to all that God can do! Here were my signs…

We are nearing the end of the school year here, an after Labor Day start means we are in class through June 1st. Our kids are ready to be done but have a few more days of mandated testing and then the last few days should be a little more fun!

I have been helping with the prep work for VBS at our church. It is such fun to participate in VBS each year, I always look forward to it. The kids are in for a treat again this year too with the decorations! I haven’t helped as much as I would like because I am at work during the day, (I really need to talk to my boss about that!!) but after work I have been spending my evenings at the church painting and creating.

The brains behind this operation are my dear friends Steph, Christina, Carol and Zita. Man, these ladies are talented….and funny! I seriously just want to help so that I can go and laugh for a few hours! So they tell me what to do and I do my best, I bring limited craftiness and lots of laughs and sass to the party. It’s a good fit all around!

I am still exercising most days. I skipped today because I was just too tired to get up…but most days I get a 30-minute Beachbody workout in. Being able to do a workout in the comfort of my own home has been one of the reasons I am still with this after 6+ months! That and an awesome accountability group that encourages one another. Dominic even started getting up early starting this past December. I don’t think he is very happy about it still, but it does make us both feel better. Since October I have lost and kept off 10lbs and 8+ inches!

And even better I still get to eat the things I love. Interestingly, as I have started to eat more healthy I am finding that there are certain foods that really don’t agree with me. I may not ever eat something deep fried again as I feel terrible after I do, but I don’t miss it anymore! If someone tells me I can’t ever have something again, I would crave it for life! But as I make more healthy choices I am finding my cravings change. Weird stuff happening around these parts!

And don’t think I have gone all out crazy health nut over here, I am eating peanut M&M’s as I write this. Seriously, out of all the candy/chocolate available, these have become my favorite! YUM!

Dominic and I will celebrate 21 years of marriage on June 1st and plan to sneak away for an overnight to Red Wing, MN at a beautiful bed & breakfast they have there! We have been to a couple of these and have enjoyed them. Our time was limited when I was trying to plan the surprise, so we are just grateful to be able to get away even if only for 24 hours!

We will be taking a trip up to Northern MN as a family this summer and the kids are anxiously awaiting some warmer temps so that they can get back in our pool. Dominic set it up in mid-May when we were having unseasonably warms temps and then it got cold and rained for a week straight so the pool is a balmy 51 degrees. It may be mid-June before they get back in, but they ask about it almost every day!

Beyond that we are just living life. Busy with work life and home life and everything in between! Our garden is planted and the potatoes may not survive the 4 inches of rain we got in 2 days, but if we can get some warmer and windy days here to dry them out they may have a chance! I’d love to catch up with you…do you have any fun summer plans? Are your kids still in school or are they done? Drop me a comment and let me know!!

A Very Important Decision

Parenting has proven to be one of the most difficult yet rewarding aspects of my life. There are days that I am failing and need to ask for grace over and over again. And there are days that we count as a win, when our kids surprise us or act on a teachable moment.

It can be easy to get overwhelmed by all of the should-do-this and don’t-do-that whispers that come from all around us. If I am not careful and prayerful I can get caught up in those. But there are those rare and amazing moments that are God-filled and I want to share one of those with you today.

I should be having Dominic write this story because it is really his to tell. I wasn’t even there, but it was such a beautiful example of parenting with God’s leading that I wanted to document it.

On Saturday I had a special day planned with some of my girlfriends from church. We were heading to Sioux Falls for some shopping and then a evening conference featuring Lysa Terkeurst. It is rare that I get away for days like this so I was really looking forward to it.

Dominic took the kids over to get haircuts before I left town and then had a full day planned filled with work, a motorcycle ride and grilling hamburgers for the kids. It would be a pretty typical Saturday or so we thought…that is until lunch.

We have a 6 and 7 year old right now. We have been working with them on their understanding of communion. In our church there isn’t a specific “class” on why we celebrate communion, it is something that the pastor explains on the Sundays we have it and as parents we are encouraged to talk with our kids and help make the decision about when the time it is right.

For a long time Karlena has been asking about it and wanting to take communion but really just thought it was a time to snack at church. We knew she didn’t understand the significance of it all so we continued to talk to her about it.

After the last time we had communion at church Dominic took home a few of the little cups the juice comes in so that we could talk more about it at home. The cups have been sitting on our counter for a month or more but for some reason on Saturday Dominic got them out at lunch time and he and the kids started talking.

He told them again the story of Jesus, why He came and why He made a sacrifice for us. He talked about the significance of the last supper and why it is the reason we recognize the celebration ourselves today.

Then he asked the kids if they wanted to take communion together. So they got some crackers and he filled the little cups with some of his opened Monster energy drink…to which they all said it was “delicious and mom doesn’t know what she’s talking about”…they are on to me and my lies about how terrible sugared drinks taste!

Anyways, together they took communion and celebrated the gift that we have been given through Jesus. Dominic felt confident that they understood the significance and that they were ready to participate in church.

Then he asked them if they had ever asked Jesus to come into their hearts? Elijah had and so he said yes but Karlena shook her head no. Dominic asked if she thought she might like to say a simple prayer to ask Jesus into her life and she said yes!

So he called everyone together and they knelt down and he led Karlena through a prayer of recognition of who God is, confession of her sinful nature and then asked Jesus to come into her life and lead her. She repeated the words after him and was so excited that Jesus was now in her heart!

I got the news through a text after it happened, and I have to admit that I was a little sad that I wasn’t there, but I was so grateful that Dominic was able to share this incredibly special moment with his youngest and only daughter. And I am so glad that Dominic followed the Holy Spirit’s leading to have the conversation in the first place!

On Sunday morning when she got up, Karlena came to find me to tell me the good news. Wonderful news indeed!! Such an important decision, one that we all need to make. I know this doesn’t guarantee that her life will be easy. As much as I wish ease and comfort for my kids, more than anything I want them to be drawn to a personal relationship with Jesus. And if they are anything like me, they may need some hardship before they come to that place of surrender and being fully ready to let God lead them.

But regardless of what happens in the next 10, 20 or 40 years of my daughter’s life, she has the assurance that she is saved and loved by God. She is sealed by the blood of Jesus and her name is written in the Book of Life.

I am so proud of her and it is an honor to be a parent to the amazing kids God has given us!

When God Made You

Last night at our weekly bible study class we were discussing children. Specifically, we talked about the differences that are often seen even among children in the same family. Some may be concise and matter-of-fact, while others are adventurous or creative.

God made each of my children differently. This can make parenting difficult at times because one response or consequence doesn’t always work for all children. It keeps us on our toes doesn’t it?!

But these differences make our children unique and we should find ways to celebrate that.

In the new book “When God Made You” by Matthew Paul Turner, the creative way that God has designed each of us is celebrated. It is a beautifully illustrated book filled with color and whimsy.  The pages flow like that of a song, a dance of words that encourages and inspires.

“Use your talents and passions, those gifts that God fashioned. Think up ideas and then put them to action.”

” ‘Cause when God made you and the world oohed and aahed, in heaven they called you an image of God.”

My kids love to hear all the ways God made them special. Last year we started pointing out three words that described each of our kids. Words that were reflective of who they are, that encouraged them to focus on some of their best attributes.

Each morning when I would drop off our son at school I would remind him to be Kind, Compassionate and Brave. Day after day I affirmed him telling him to look for ways to use his God-given gifts to be a help to someone else.

It didn’t take long and he was calling out affirmations for himself and others. When we are focusing on those gifts our perspective changes. There still may be messes and mistakes, but the core truths of who our kids are haven’t changed.

These beautiful children of ours are a gift. “When God Made You” is a book that celebrates that gift. It is a book that your kids will ask you to read again and again.

“You, you, when God sees you, God delights in what is and sees only what’s true. That you – yes, YOU – in all of your glory, bring color and rhythm and rhyme to God’s story.”

I have ordered a copy of this book for all the young kids in my extended family. You should do the same! You can find “When God Made You” at Amazon and Barnes and Noble.

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I received this book as a part of the When God Made You launch team, all opinions expressed are my own.

Remembering the Gift – A Deeper Waters Guest Post

Recently my friend Denise Hughes reached out to me and asked if I wanted to participate in her study of the book of James over at her Deeper Waters site. It is always an honor to be asked by fellow writers that I esteem to join in their ministry and so I happily said yes.

We each had to choose a set of verses in James to study further and write on. I knew immediately which verses I wanted or should I say needed to write on.

James 1: 19-25 specifically addresses anger. This has long been a struggle for me. My temper has caused hurt and pain and I continue to have the opportunity to practice a different response.

It just so happened that I learned from one of those opportunities recently and I am sharing my heart over at the Deeper Waters site this morning. I would love if you would join me over there and I encourage you to sign up for the daily emails and keep walking through the book of James with us!

Happy Monday!

Photo Credit: Courtesy of the Deeper Waters website

Where’s Your Mission Field?

I used to think that I needed to be called overseas to be on mission for God. I used to think that I needed to publish a book to prove that I was writing for Him. When those things didn’t happen, it was easy for me to believe that maybe God hadn’t called me to anything special.

But I was wrong.

This morning my daughter came to me with her backpack. The liner in it had ripped at the top and she didn’t want to use it anymore. I told her that I thought I could fix it, at least enough to use it. So I got out some thread and a needle and with just minutes to spare before leaving for school, I repaired her bag. Sometimes my mission field looks like a bad sewing job on a broken backpack. My girl was so grateful for the fix and it took me less than 5 minutes to serve her well.

Yesterday I spent 3 hours in a hospital room holding a very sick baby boy. His mama (with strong encouragement that she wasn’t being a bad mother) went to support her husband at his grandmother’s funeral. She struggled with leaving, but as a mom who has spent days in a hospital with a baby that almost died from rsv…well she knew I understood what to do. For 3 hours yesterday, this boy was my mission field. I took pictures and sent them to his mom to reassure her that he was just fine. I got to rock him and sing to him and even fed him his first bottle! What a gift that was to be of service in that way.

Every day my husband and I go to his office. We work hard to help people plan their estates so that their family doesn’t have to worry or fight once they are gone. Sometimes the days get long and we are at the office into the early evening. Sometimes we have projects or plans that are mentally taxing and it feels overwhelming. But we have the honor of helping people. We don’t take this responsibility lightly. Even though we aren’t a church or don’t serve people in a foreign country, we still have a mission field right here. 

I have always been someone that struggles with comparison. I see my friend who is leaving on a mission trip and I wonder if she is doing it better for God than I am. I watch as more and more of my author friends are releasing yet another book, or signing their first book deal…while I struggle to get posts out on a consistent basis. I wonder if God knows He can use them more than He can use me. I see those involved in the church and leading in ways I am not and believe the lie that my past failures make me unqualified.

It would be very easy for me to see myself as not valuable and unworthy. But that is crazy! God whispered to my heart this morning and reassured me that I was on a mission for Him.  My mission field is found in the ways I serve my family in love, in my prayers for others, when I find ways to be an encouragement to someone who is struggling, when we go to work each day and strive to do the best job we can for our clients.

Friends, we each have a mission field. Find ways to be of service to those around you. And do so with a happy and grateful heart. When we love others well, we are sharing the love of God. And what a mission that is!

My Warrior Boy

My posts here have been few and far between it seems. I have had lots that I could share but no time to sit down and tap out a post. So I am stealing away a few minutes at work to share an incredible story about our youngest son.

Elijah is seven and in the first grade. Like most kids his age he is starting to lose his baby teeth. It started with his two bottom teeth. Getting the baby teeth out has been painful. Not really painful for him, but for me. I can’t stand seeing loose teeth. When I was little and would get a wiggly tooth, it would be out. I worked it until it came out.

Elijah was filled with fear over the pain that might happen if he let us pull the tooth. So back in December he had a VERY loose tooth on the top. He refused to let us touch it. It was ready to come out around Christmas….it actually came out 2 weeks ago.

It was dead and grey and crooked and he refused to let us touch it. When we realized how much his new tooth had descended and that the old tooth was pushing on it in a bad way, we told him it was time. Dominic tied a string around it and it came out so fast. He had built up this fear of pain so much and in reality it was hardly anything.

Once that first top tooth was out the one next to it seemed to get more and more loose. It detached on one side completely and was crooked hanging in his mouth. In addition he had a tooth on the bottom that was also ready and on Monday night Elijah bumped it while eating and it was hanging on by a thread.

Last night we tried to convince him to pull the bottom tooth. I told him that he was a warrior and he could handle the pain. Dominic remembered an old favorite song of ours from the 80’s (The Warrior) and started playing it on the computer. (I’ve shared a video below in case you want a trip down memory lane!)

So we were all dancing around and acting goofy. Elijah and I were going around the dining room table and all of a sudden our dog, who has become a bit excited over all the commotion, came running out into the kitchen and into Elijah. Elijah falls to the ground and the dog apparently swiped her paw on Elijah’s mouth and BOTH of his teeth popped out!

It was so unbelievable.

Elijah started freaking out because his mouth was bleeding and one of the teeth was missing. It was an interesting sight seeing all of us on our hands and knees in the dining room crawling around with flashlights looking for the missing tooth. It was found and Elijah started feeling pretty proud of himself.

I told him that he was my warrior boy and that I don’t know that anyone else in the world will lose two teeth at the same time, because of the dog’s paw, AND on Valentine’s Day. What a story he had to tell today at school! 🙂 I thought I would share it here so that we won’t ever forget what a crazy Valentine’s Day we had in 2017! 🙂

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