Monthly Archives: June 2014

Give Them Jobs – A Riches of His Love Parenting Series – Advice From the Worst Mom Ever!

Parenting Series

I have said it before that being a parent is tough business. When we were pregnant with Isaac I had no idea what being a mom would really mean. I loved babies and had babysat as a teenager…so it would be a piece of cake loving on your own baby, right?

But sleepless nights and a colicky son that cried for hours at a time, quickly showed me that this thing wasn’t for the faint of heart.

It has been a few years since I have paced the hallways with a crying baby…but as I find myself in the thick of raising two toddlers along with 2 older boys, there is a new sound that has emerged inside my home.

Whining.

Oh the whining! The fighting and hitting is awful too…but I don’t know that much else irritates this mama more than the constant whining and fussing.

Because Elijah and Karlena are so close in age (18 months) it seems to have magnified. There is 7 years between Isaac and Gabriel, and 5 years between Gabriel and Elijah. I just don’t remember it being THIS terrible with them.

And while Elijah and Karlena really do play well together at times, and I know they love each other, they also argue and bicker and fight and cry and fuss and bawl and whine.

The whining was threatening to push me over the edge on the way home from church on Sunday. Oh yes – even then!! I can leave church happy and filled because of worship and a good sermon, and want to scream myself silly after a 15 minute car ride home! 🙂

Because I am really trying to change my pattern of screaming at them when they are screaming at each other I decided to try something different this time.

I gave them jobs.

Elijah, who just turned 5, is interested in helping. I don’t always give him enough opportunities to be helpful but he loves the praise that comes with being a good helper. So we got home and we got right to work.

I asked him if he wanted to be a bog boy and help mom with some important work. He said yes and we set to task.

It wasn’t anything huge, and honestly I could have done it myself in 1 trip upstairs. It took him 3 trips, but he was very proud of himself for getting the work done. And he didn’t whine once during the entire process.

Once we had finished that task, I had him help me set the table for lunch.

Now the Type A, perfectionist personality in me cringes at a sloppy set table, but again this was a chance for him to learn. So we talked about where to put the fork, and Gabriel helped with the napkins…it wasn’t pretty but the whining had stopped.

Of course I was sure to praise him heavily during this time. Telling him how much I appreciated that he was being such a big helper and what a great job he was doing.

Kids LOVE to hear how awesome they are. Sometimes I forget that really. I get overwhelmed by the whining and fighting and I find myself focusing on everything they are doing wrong, instead of celebrating all they are doing well.

I know it isn’t a perfect plan. Sometimes asking them to help may cause more whining, oh heaven help us if it does!! But it is worth a try and might just give you a few more minutes of peace and sanity in your home!

What kind of jobs have you given your kids to do? Please leave them in the comments below so I can add to my list! 😉

A Time for Rest – Finding Spiritual Whitespace

Balance beam

My word for 2014 is Balance.

The last several months of 2013 were a blur. Dominic and I were so busy at the office that there were times I wondered if we would make it. Now don’t get me wrong, we are blessed and grateful for this business and how God has provided for our family, but I felt very flustered for too long. I needed balance.

I thought that if my one word could be balance that I might be more intentional about finding it.

I can tell you that it has been, and continues to be, a work in progress.

I suppose I hoped that by mid-way through a year I would have been further along, but the reality is that life just happens and I allow myself to get swept up in the wave of it all.

Then one day I got an email from Bonnie Gray  asking if I wanted to be a part of her new book launch team for “Finding Spiritual Whitespace – Awakening Your Soul to Rest“. Her book sounded like JUST what I needed because “rest” seemed so lacking in my daily life.

And by rest – I really don’t mean more time to sleep. While that would be nice, I have become so accustomed to sleeping WITH interruption for the last MANY years, that sleeping through the night seems unnatural to me!

No, what my spirit really needs is finding that rest IN God. In relationship with Him.  (<====Click to Tweet)

“Making room for whitespace means taking the journey to confide in Jesus the way we would if he were standing right here in front of us.” pg 31

My hope is that during these times of busy, I would be intentional about seeking and finding God in the everyday. I don’t want my relationship with God to be one where I treat Him like my 1-800-CRISIS line. It HAS been that way in the past and I found that for many years I felt like God was my enemy because He just didn’t “fix” all of my problems.

Instead, I want to create a spirit of thankfulness in all situations. To find comfort in His promises despite what is happening in the world around me.

Rest

Recently I have done a few things to stay in a closer relationship with God. I have been spending a little time each morning in quiet time, reading the Bible, listening to praise music and praying over my husband and my family.

There are mornings when I am exhausted and don’t want to get up with my alarm. And on those mornings, I usually start my prayer time by thanking God for giving me the energy I need to get through the day, to do a short workout, and be awake and beneficial for my family.

A heart of thankfulness makes all the difference, doesn’t it?! (<====Click to Tweet)

Bonnie share her heart in this book. The deepest parts of the hurts from her past, a past that threatened to drown her once the details started coming to light.

And yet she also offers hope.

Hope that our past doesn’t have to define us. And a path to seeking and finding a loving God that wants us to find our rest IN Him.

I don’t want my life to be defined by how busy I was. I am thankful we are busy, but it can’t take the place of spending time seeking God’s plan for my life. Spending time in His Word, offering up prayers, even when they come from exhaustion, with thankfulness on my lips, and singing His praises are just a few things I am doing to find rest.

What areas of your life do you need to find rest?

Finding Spiritual Whitespace

Purchase a copy for yourself here!

Thank you Bonnie for allowing me to be a part of your amazing team of women seeking to find God, find peace and find rest.

Photo Credit: sherbonbon

Choosing Joy – How One Man Holding a Sign Can Make a Difference

Sale Sign

A local furniture store has been advertising a HUGE, EVERYTHING MUST GO, SALE OF THE CENTURY, kind of sale since before Memorial Day weekend. They have big banners in the window and a fleet of 3 cars with big signs attached to the tops of them, that people drive in a caravan around town all day long.

And then there is Paul.

Paul is a young man, I would guess in his 20’s, who stands in front of the store with another sign that advertises the sale.

Every day on our way to and from work, we see Paul. And he is dancing and shaking his hips, and waving as people drive by.

He is a young man, holding a sign for his job. All day long, six days a week, he is out on the sidewalk holding his sign.

And Paul exudes JOY.

It has been HOT and then wet and rainy, stormy and windy all wrapped in one.

And yet, Paul is there waving and dancing and reminding me that we can find joy if we choose to in ANY circumstance.

I think of how often I come to my nice comfortable work space, a job that provides financially for our family, and I am unappreciative of the work I “have” to do and I forget that I “get” to work in the comfort of air conditioning, with chocolates and nice people.

I stop choosing joy and allow the stress to overwhelm me.

Yesterday I was driving by and saw him there again and felt very strongly that God was telling me I needed to stop.

But that is ridiculous, and creepy right?

And I stopped to get gas and asked God to tell me out loud if He really wanted me to stop and meet this man with the sign. (Let me just say that God doesn’t give into my demands…He lets the Holy Spirit do some heart work on me instead)

My heart was pounding and so I drove back to where he was. Except there were 2 cars blocking the driveway entrances…so I had no place to stop. (Excuses I know!)

But I felt like this was something I was supposed to do. So I voxed my closest prayer partners and told them this crazy story…so that I would be held accountable.

And then today at lunch Dominic mentioned the man with the sign and I told him that I felt like we needed to go and stop.

And after lunch we did just that.

We brought him a cold soda, a baggie of chocolates (which maybe wasn’t the smartest idea because it was super hot out) and a Choose Joy card with a $20 “tip”.

I asked him his name – it’s Paul if you hadn’t caught that before.

And I told him that we see him every day, dancing and waving and holding his sign, and that what he does matters. 

He is bringing joy to people on the streets of Marshall. He is getting paid to hold a sign but he is doing that job in such a way that it makes a difference.

Maybe God wanted someone to tell him that he was doing just that.

I am so glad we stopped…that moment brought me such joy and a a renewed perspective that we ALL can make a difference – we just have to make the choice to choose joy. (<====Click to Tweet)

Is there someone in your life, someone you see on a regular basis that maybe needs to hear that what they do matters? Take the time today and tell them. Ask them their name and thank them for what they do.

Words can be life changing…what if what you say to encourage someone is JUST what they needed at that moment?

My hope is that Paul will know how much God loves him. It is just an honor to be a small part of sharing that love!

Photo Credit: jakerome

Praying From Head to Toe

praying-for-your-husband-from-head-to-toe-copy

Photo Credit and free printable can found at Loving Life at Home!

I am not really sure how I came across Jennifer’s blog. I was probably searching to find some sort of prayer that I could reference in the morning so that I could be more intentional about praying for Dominic.

I spent a lot of years praying that God would change or fix Dominic because in my self-righteousness I believed that any problems we had were his “fault”. I never actively prayed for his protection of God’s favor.

There are a lot of books, posts etc. about wives praying for their husband’s, and it hasn’t been a priority of mine until recently.

I found Jennifer’s site and started praying the head-to-toe prayer every morning. It really is an easy way to focus on intentionally praying for your spouse. I change things up or expand my prayers on some days, but I can always remember the “basics” of this prayer.

After several weeks of doing this every morning, Dominic and I had some sort of silly fight. It wasn’t anything huge but as is typical in a situation like this my response was “well look at what I have been doing that is so holy by praying for you…what have you been doing?!”

I am nice like that…

As I was driving to the office that morning I was messaging a couple of close friends and sharing how terrible I had been. As I was talking I realized that I was focusing my prayers on just Dominic and there were several areas in my own life that needed covering and protection as well!

Insert light bulb going off here! 🙂

So I told them that I was going to start praying those same prayers for myself …and I committed to praying the prayers for these girlfriends and their spouses as well.

There are specific areas that I really need help with – one being my sharp and quick tongue. So when I get to praying for our mouths, I ask that God would put words of affirmation and praise on my lips. That if angry or hurtful words are threatening to come out that I would be unable to speak them.

I can’t say that it is perfect – that since I started I haven’t spoken an angry word…but I believe it has been better. I am more aware of it in myself and willing to have God make the changes in me that refine me to be more of Him and less of me.

Progress not perfection right?!

This has become a meaningful part of my morning routine…I actually am praying while I am on my elliptical when I first get up. Eyes closed, I get some uninterrupted time with God and my workout seems to go faster! Win win! 🙂

Thank you to Jennifer for sharing this wonderful prayer, I am grateful that it is now a part of my quiet time with God!  What is a favorite prayer of yours? I’d love to hear about it!

Mel’s Amazing Black Bean Salsa Recipe

This is my friend Mel. She writes over at A Barefoot Life. We initially met as a part of the God-sized Dream Team, then became part of a mastermind group on FB, were roomies at Allume and now are part of the founding team at the God-sized Dreams website. Oh and we are in the same Hello Mornings group as well! Mel and I, while we have only known each other for less than 2 years, feel like we are sisters. 🙂

Mel and I

She is awesome and when I share her amazing recipe you are all going to want to know her more too! 😉 So we were doing a little “get-to-know-you” in our Hello Mornings group and someone suggested we have a virtual picnic and asked what we would bring.

Mel said she would bring her black bean salsa recipe because it was amazing.

Now I am not a fan of the beans. Personally I think they taste like dirt. I would eat bean-less chili if I could, I really would! 🙂 But my husband is a bean fan and this recipe sounded like something he would really like. So I asked her for the recipe – because she said she would share and she is awesome like that!

I clarified that I probably would NOT like it…but I was willing to make it for my husband, since our anniversary was a few days away.

Now a little disclaimer…Mel does give credit to her MIL for the original recipe…but she tweaked a bit and since I am sharing what she shared with me – we are calling this “Mel’s Amazing Black Bean Salsa”! I will put the entire recipe at the end of the post!

Mel's Bean Dip 1

This recipe is really so easy…just a few ingredients and a little chopping and it is done!

Tomato, Avocado, Red Onion and Cilantro.

A can of Black Beans and a can of Mexican Corn. (Now my Walmart didn’t have Mexican Corn but I found Fiesta Corn and figured that would be close enough)

Also the Roma tomatoes were looking a little sad the 2nd time I made this recipe so I just used regular ones and I think it turned out just fine.

Mel's Bean Dip 2

Here it is all ready for the final topping.

My Walmart also didn’t have the Fiesta Hidden Valley Ranch packets the first time I made this so instead I bought a regular and a green onion packet. (Did I mention that I doubled the recipe every time I have tried this?!) It is just THAT good!!

Mel's Bean Dip 3

If you can’t find the Fiesta packets, trust me that these will still make it taste great!

Mix the packets with some olive oil and white wine vinegar and pour it over everything you have in your bowl.

Now I will admit that it tastes even better after it has been in the refrigerator for a few hours…but it was so good that we ate a bunch of it right out of the bowl – no double dipping of course! 🙂

Mel's Bean Dip 5

This salsa is great on chips, Ritz crackers, eggs, steak…boy the list could go on and on. In fact it has become a staple in our home…a condiment we can’t live without.

And this girl, this “beans taste like dirt” disbeliever? I am a changed woman. This will be my go to recipe whenever I need to bring something to a picnic or potluck.

Thanks so much Mel for having and sharing such a wonderful recipe…now go out and get the ingredients and make some for yourself! Your family will thank you, I promise! 🙂

Mel’s Amazing Black Bean Salsa Recipe
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 can Mexican corn, drained (regular is fine, too)
3 roma tomatoes, diced
1/2 red onion, diced
2 avocados, diced
chopped cilantro (I’ve also used dried)

Mix the first 6 ingredients, then add the dressing:

1/4 c white wine vinegar
1/4 c olive oil
1 pkg Hidden Valley Fiesta Ranch seasoning

Just Paint – A Riches of His Love Parenting Series…Advice from the WORST mom ever!

Parenting Series

I hadn’t even been home from work for 5 minutes and I was ready to go back.

Yes it was Friday night and I should have been excited about the upcoming weekend, but the reality was that I walked into kids fighting and I could feel my blood pressure rise immediately.

What is it about fighting, screaming kids that can push you over the edge?!

The past two days had been especially bad. Elijah spent the early part of the week away at a fun camp with his grandparents and cousin Isabel. Apparently he cried every night for us but once he came home, the “missing mom feelings” wore off and his temper and sass were back in full force.

I tried some calm and positive correction.

His response?

“I don’t like your attitude mom”

Excuse me?!

Anything I or his brother Gabriel said to him he repeated in a taunting voice. He was testing the waters big time!

Then he told me that he couldn’t stop being naughty because they devil was making him do it and because the devil was making him misbehave it wasn’t really his fault. (Seriously?!)

I could feel myself getting more and more angry and it was work to keep my voice from yelling back at him.

And then I decided to ask him what he wanted to do. What was it that would help him to behave?

“Paint, I want to paint.”

He has asked to paint before and usually I find a reason not to bring out the paints. It always seems like such a hassle.

But for some reason this night I thought it was worth a try. No he hadn’t “deserved” the right to do something he really wanted to do. He had been nothing but naughty for almost 2 hours straight, but I was desperate for a change…so I said yes.

Just Paint

We got out the watercolors and a few sheets of paper, a cup of water and he was ready to go.

He painted for maybe 10 minutes. 10 blissful, sass-free minutes and it was wonderful. 

Within a half hour he was right back to burping at his brother and chasing his sister. Short-lived peace, yes, but I learned a good lesson.

Sometimes we have to be willing to try something new. We need to say yes to things like painting if it means we will be able to regain some of our sanity, even if just for a few minutes.

What have you said yes to, in order to get some peace from your kids?! I’d love for you to share your stories in the comments below!!

A Mother on the Edge – A Riches of His Love Parenting Series…Advice From the WORST mom ever!

Parenting Series

I got a vox from a dear friend this morning. She was a mother on the edge. It was maybe the 10th full day of summer and she was struggling to find sanity in the craziness of schedules that had been thrown out the window, routines down the drain, and a 4 year old who seemed to try and push EVERY.SINGLE.BUTTON.

While her message was sprinkled with humor, there was a bit of desperation in her voice as well. How will I make it through until August?!

As a mother who clearly has her act together (insert a loud snort and a chuckle) I responded back with some prayers and a little advice.

Now, I don’t give advice because I have it all together or do this parenting thing right every day. Nope in fact most days I FAIL miserably! 

My daughter never flushes the toilet after she poops so anyone going in after her gets a fun surprise. And no, most times she does not use toilet paper. (I know, gross right?!)

My now 5 year old told me today that I was NOT the only one in charge in the family and I couldn’t tell him to behave. (I then threatened  asked him if I should call his father to clear the whole issue up…oh yes I did!!) He may have stuck his tongue out at me….I have blocked that memory out.

No, clearly I am probably the WORST mom to be giving advice, because I don’t have the best behaved children on the block. But I am right down in the trenches with you moms and have found a few things that have worked over the years.

My friend said I should write a book, if not that, at least a blog series. I laughed and said who would read a book called “Parenting Advice from the Worst Mom Ever“? (I am officially trademarking that name too if I ever do write a book, although I don’t know that saying you are trademarking something is technically “legal” and would stand up in court but I am going to go with it!)

Sorry for the legal tangent, back to the “story”…She said she would read a book with that title ha! 🙂 So for fun, and a little change this summer I thought I would try a little blog series.

I realize that a series should be consistent, you know on the same day every week…If I were following the right “how-to’s” in blogging I would add a linky and ask you to share your posts.

But the reality is that we are in our busiest time of the year, for this time of the year! I keep thinking it will slow down and it hasn’t – all good but it has left me exhausted and unavailable when it comes to writing!

So I can’t promise when I will post again in the series – but I know that I have some fun stories to share. And this will be good for me too because I can remind myself of some of the things I have learned in the past so that I can try them again when the opportunity presents itself! Because trust me they WILL present themselves again.

I hope you come along for the ride, and even though I won’t have a fancy linky (because I have NO IDEA how to add one and can’t possibly take the time to learn.) Please share your stories in the comments so we can find strength in numbers.

This parenting thing is tough business and we need all the help we can get! (<====Click to Tweet) I don’t want you to come here and think I have it figured out and that you can’t measure up to me because that is just crazy funny! No perfect parenting how-to’s here!

Instead I will share how I have done it wrong, and then maybe with a little grace, done it better the next time! 😉

 So what do you think?! Will you join me?!

Dream Because of Your Children!

Dream BIG!

Hey friends, lean in close, and let me tell you a secret. I can be a wonderful encourager of others to follow their dreams, but when it comes to my own? Well let’s just say that I often find myself making excuses and shaking in my boots!

I had the rare opportunity to spend a little bit of time at the park with my sister and our kids one weekend recently, and as we talked I realized once again that this dreaming business is hard for so many of us!

Beth, who is younger and has the beautiful straight hair I always wished for, :) is doing a little dream chasing herself very soon. But it wasn’t easy for her to come to that jumping off point and go for it. Beth has a beautiful voice. She was part of concert choir and show choir in high school, and even took voices lessons at one point along the way, but somewhere I believe that her faith in her abilities faded and she stopped singing for and in front of others.

I completely understand the feeling.

I sing on the worship team at church and want to throw up every Sunday that I stand on the altar at the front – all those eyes looking at me. :)

I once had a 3 line “solo”, if you can call it that when the congregation is singing along with you, and my voice started to shake so bad…it simultaneously terrifies and exhilarates me. I love to sing, I have always loved it but somewhere along the way my confidence in any talent I may have, went down the drain.

Beth shared with me that since American Idol first came on the air she thought about auditioning. When she turned 27 and officially was “too old” to try she felt a sadness about it. Then she heard about the show The Voice. Twice she signed up to go and audition, but life and maybe a little fear got in the way, and she didn’t follow through with it.

She said that every time she thought about the fact that she hadn’t done it, she felt a pit in her stomach. (Sounds like a dream trying to bust out to me!!)

I am so excited to share the rest of this story with you over at God-sized Dreams – please join me and leave a little encouragement for my amazing sister! 🙂

18 Years and Counting…

Anniversary

18 years ago, on June 1st, Dominic and I stood before a group of our family and friends and vowed to God and one another that we would keep the sacred bond of marriage. The picture above was always a favorite of mine because it was the first picture taken as we walked out of the church as husband and wife.

When my dad gave me away in the ceremony, he took both of our hands and said that he had just one piece of advice for us. “Never, never, never give up.”

It was beautiful and I was sure that we would do just that. Divorce wasn’t a word that had been spoken in our families, so it wasn’t a concern.

But if you would have asked me 10 years ago if we would be this close to celebrating a 20 year anniversary, I would have probably said that you were crazy. What started out as excitement, joy and a bit of nervousness turned quickly into high and often unmet expectations, frustration, bitterness and resentment for both of us.

Marriage is tough isn’t it?!

Marriage can be difficult even when you do things the “right” way…you know courtship, down-on-one-knee proposal, wedding and then kids. But when you enter into marriage in a more, ahem, unconventional way…pregnancy and then marriage – well let’s just say that it isn’t an easy way to start.

I have said before that we were ill-equipped to be parents much less husband and wife. We just had no idea how much grace and forgiveness, how much release of selfishness would be needed to make a marriage successful!

There were times that I was certain that even God couldn’t fix the hurt we had heaped onto one another. And while the idea to “never give up” seemed like the wise choice, I can say that I wanted to run at the first sign of trouble.

I didn’t know how to handle the conflict we faced and divorce became a common threat used in my vocabulary. Because threatening people with an ultimatum and not following through time and time again is a wonderful way to build trust and closeness isn’t it?!

Sigh…

For years we struggled. We didn’t communicate well and I became angry and bitter. Disrespectful is a mild description of the way and manner that I treated Dominic on most days. It really is a miracle that we are still married today…

But God

Oh how I love the stories that have a But God moment in them, don’t you?!

All those years that I thought God had abandoned us, He was right there. We were the ones that had turned from Him!

And about 8 years ago we both came to that breaking point. That place where one is finally willing to let go and let God work – to do whatever it would take to see change happen.

And God showed up in a BIG way.

Hearts softened, forgiveness was given and received, selfishness was put aside and things began to change. (<==== Click to Tweet)

This change was slow and painful at times. Someone once told me that it takes years to cause the damage and we can’t expect that just because we become willing to change, that our lives will be roses from that moment on.

And it is true!

But God was there in the smallest details. He put people in our lives to support and encourage us. We had people praying for us, others that would listen to us complain and justify and then gently help us see a Godly perspective of how marriage and relationship should be.

It was, and continues to be, hard work.

But I have found that it is in those difficult times that I am seeking God more, relying on Him for strength, and I desire to give Him the praise and the glory for any transformation that occurs.

On Sunday we had the amazing opportunity to share some of our story with our congregation at church. I couldn’t help thinking the entire time that it was all God. The reason we could even be up on that stage was His doing.

He made the change possible. God’s grace towards us is the reason that we have learned how to give grace to one another. His forgiveness of our sins the example we use to forgive each other.

Today we celebrate 18 years. While they haven’t always been “easy”…ok they haven’t ever been easy! 🙂  But we have grown and matured, we have found in the last 8 years a personal relationship with a God that has blessed us time and time again. And we are teaching our kids that God is God even when life isn’t perfect. And He is worthy to be praised!

I am so grateful for Dominic, for his patience and love on all of the days that I am not very lovable. I am thankful  that God has transformed our marriage, allowing us to work together and raise a family. We are blessed.

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