Category Archives: A little of this and that

Randomness From My Life

Days seems to run together lately. It is almost Thanksgiving, can you believe it?! I am so ready to decorate for Christmas but Dominic is encouraging me to wait until after Thanksgiving to do so. There are so many things that I want to remember, and laugh about from this time so the easiest way for me to do that is to share them here.

On Tuesday we had our first band concert of the year. Gabe is in 8th grade and this will be our last year of middle school concerts for a while. I love the format they have, they match two grades together, 6th and 8th, and each grade play two songs. It is a nice, short concert. Perfect for my younger kids to sit through.

The only problem with these concerts is that we need “Sunday Best” dress. Now our church is a little more casual. So Sunday best for us is nice jeans and a sweater. But we needed dress pants for the concert. My now 14 yr old boy has grown again and is tall and thin. His waist is skinny-appropriate for the boys pants, but his legs are so long he really needs men’s lengths. No store in our community carries pants in a 26/32.

I unfortunately forgot about said concert until the day before and frantically ran around town buying every pant remotely close to his size. None of them worked. I found an old pair from last year that we decided were good enough for this concert if he wore dark, long socks so his legs wouldn’t show.

Then in true, I have it together fashion, just 10 minutes before we had to leave we found his only pair of dress shoes and discovered they were a size 8. He is a strong 10 these days. There was no cramming his feet into these small shoes. So our only option was to tightly tie on a pair of dad’s old dress shoes, size 13. He flopped those babies onto the stage with ease and thankfully didn’t trip. I need to be a bit proactive about concert number two so we don’t have the same issue again!

I have somehow pinched my sciatic nerve and have been suffering with weird, shooting pains in my rear end for the last week. It is super fun and after a few days of what I thought was healing time and no pain, I did a dance workout on Monday morning and apparently irritated it again and man it is bad now. It hurts to sit and walk and lay flat. So basically everything I do is marked with some form of pain. If you see me rubbing my own backside, you know why! haha

Yesterday we found a large hunk of blonde hair on the floor by the bathroom. It appeared to be cut. So I called Karlena into the bathroom and showed it to her and asked if she cut her own hair. She emphatically explained that in no way would she cut her own hair, she would never do that! Then she went to get her blonde haired horse out to speculate if somehow its hair had been magically cut. I assure you, sir, it had not.

So I started brushing her hair and noticed in the back that there is a small part that is shorter. It isn’t hugely noticeable. I asked if she got something stuck in her hair and attempted to cut it out herself and her eyes dropped to the floor. Ahh yes, mama knows.  She is a terrible liar, she does have some incredible story-telling abilities, but I know better.

I received the nicest letter from grandma in the mail yesterday. She wanted to encourage me about my surgery. She has arthritis in her hands and I know writing a handwritten note isn’t easy for her. I will treasure those notes forever. And I could take a lesson from her. A call or text is nice, but a handwritten note can’t be beat!

My surgery is still set for December 28th. I have complete peace about it so I am grateful for that. I made my first freezer meal last night and had my mom pick up some special aluminum pans and lids from Sams so that I can make a few more. We don’t have a ton of freezer space right now, but I should be able to freeze and store at least 5 meals. That should help.

We have applied with and enrolled in new health “sharing” with Liberty Health Share. It will start in January and will replace our traditional health insurance so I can’t really speak to how it all works right now, but I will give you some of the information I do know.

For our family, this seemed the best fit. We chose the Liberty Complete Plan and the monthly share amount will be $449 per month. We will have an out of pocket “annual unshared amount” of $1500 for our family. So we are responsible for everything up to the first $1500 and then after that we can share all our expenses. This will require that we be proactive at each appointment, asking for detailed records/billing notices so that we can upload them into the Liberty Share system. But we know a few people that use this program and have had success over the past year so we are hopeful it will be ok.

A dear friend of mine works for a health care system in the South and she has told me recently about how many changes we are going to continue to see with healthcare. It is probably going to get worse before it get better unfortunately. We all need to advocate for ourselves.

She advised me to call the surgical center where I had my recent surgery after I got my bill and ask if there was a discount if I paid the bill in full. Honestly, I didn’t expect there would be a discount. I had submitted it to insurance and what was remaining was mine to pay. But they did in fact tell me that if I paid in full I would save 10%. On this bill it was over $400! That’s $400 I can use to pay my remaining radiology bill, or my surgeon’s bill. So take notes friends, don’t be afraid to call and ask!

We have conferences tonight and I am excited to hear how our kids are doing in school. I was most worried about Karlena but she really enjoys school and at least from what I can tell is doing very well.

We are hosting Thanksgiving next week and will have a nice sized group, 18 of us! Our kitchen is all put back together and I am excited to host. Now if I can just find time to dust those pesky built-in shevles…

I have purchased almost all of my Christmas gifts and will start wrapping very soon. I am taking a very special trip with Karlena to Houston on December 15th for a long weekend and basically I need to have all my gifts wrapped, my treats baked and freezer meals done before then because when we get back on the 19th we will have a couple of days before Christmas and then just a few days before my surgery. So basically I have 29 days to do a whole lot of stuff! Better get to it!!

Have a great rest of the week!

 

Photo Credit: Walt Stoneburner

Memories, A Medical Update and That Time I Talked About Health Insurance


So once again it has been awhile since I have had a chance to sit down and write. Lots has happened and I wanted to share a few of those updates! On Saturday we had our family pictures taken by a friend who has some crazy amazing talent. I have only seen some of the sneak peaks…but what she has shared so far has blown me away. Her name is Stephanie Werner and she can be found here on Facebook. Seriously, if you need pictures taken and live in or near Marshall, MN, call her. I can’t wait to see the final edited CD!!

We have had a few really crazy weeks with work, and we just had some of the carpet replaced in the office space that we lease so things have been in a bit of a disarray here. But as of yesterday, everything was moved back into its proper place and the carpet looks really nice.

I couldn’t help but think that my grandpa would have really loved to see the before and after pictures. He and my grandma really supported us when Dominic first started this business. They gave us the loan that made it possible to buy the furniture and supplies he needed to get going. When I was cleaning out my desk drawers before we had to move everything I came across the paid off promissory note that he sent back to us after we had paid off everything in full. A sweet memory.

Speaking of memories, yesterday was the 7 year anniversary of my best friend Karlena’s passing. Honestly, I couldn’t believe it had been 7 years. Sometimes that seems impossible. But then I look at my girl, her namesake, and realize that she will be 7 in 6 short weeks. I was organizing pictures on our shelves after the move in the office and many of them are of our family and you can see how we have all aged and changed. But the pictures I have with Karlena and I will forever be from 2010 and earlier. It is sad when you think about the fact that someone so crucial to your faith walk isn’t there for new steps. But her presence and memory are certainly felt and I will forever be grateful that I had the opportunity to love her and be her friend.

On October 19th I had a follow-up visit with my OB/GYN Dr after my surgery. The good news was that everything was healing well and the biopsy from both the cyst (which was the thing I was most concerned about) and the tubes was benign.

In addition to having those things removed, I also had an ablation procedure. I shared back in September that because of the way that my uterus is tipped they were unable to do a standard biopsy in the Dr’s office, so instead they had to do it in the operating room prior to doing the ablation. My Dr had talked to me that there was a small chance that if something showed up in the biospy of the uterine wall that was concerning, I may have to have a hysterectomy in the future.

At the time there wasn’t anything in my history that indicated that might be a concern so we went forward with the lesser invasive procedure. Unfortunately, when they did the biopsy of the lining there were some sections of concern. In medical terms, there was some focal glandular crowding, proliferative-type endometrium, and cystic dilatation….in layman’s terms I like to call this my angry uterus.

Right now my angry uterus is just that…angry. Ha ha!! It isn’t cancer but if left unchecked and untreated it could become more serious. She said that we could wait a few months and then if my cycles don’t quit completely (like they do for 85-90% of women that have the ablation procedure) she would recommend a hysterectomy. (For people without an angry uterus bi-annual biopsies done in office can be used to watch for any changes….mine would have to be done surgically)

I am 42, almost 43. I won’t be having children physically in the future and so from a medical perspective, I don’t need this darn angry, funny tipped uterus. The reason we didn’t just do a hyst right away is because it has a longer recovery time and more risks….we were both thinking that the biopsy would be normal and hoping that I wouldn’t have the need for any more surgeries.

Well then last week we got the wonderful news about our anticipated healthcare premium increases. And just so I am clear, this is our experience and I realize that there are many of you that have had different experiences. I don’t know what the answers are, I wish I did…but I want to share what we have gone through the last 6 years and what is happening now as a result.

Let me just be frank with you, Obamacare for our family was a nightmare. Our premiums have doubled, tripled, quadrupled in the course of 6 years. I was fortunate for many years to work in a corporate environment and so as a result up until 2011, had access to a large group plan that offered reasonable rates and low deductibles. We were involved in a health coaching group and kept accountable for our health needs. Except for some major unexpected things, our group was healthy because we as a whole exercised, ate healthy and went to the doctor when it was medically necessary.

When we moved to MN and I was no longer working with that larger corporation and Dominic started his own business, we were in the position to look for healthcare on our own. I was clueless to what it would cost and we were shocked at how much more expensive rates were than the rates I had paid through the bank. But in 2011, it was manageable.

Then came 2012, 2013…and so on and with it extreme increases in premiums and out of pocket deductible costs. In 2011 we were paying approximately $400-450 a month for our family of 6 with maybe a $2000 deductible. Today we are paying $1600 a month and we have a deductible of over $7000 out of pocket. If we stay with our current group plan for 2018, one that we were lucky to get because we work together at the business….one that we were grandfathered into last year, our premiums will be almost $2100 a month.

$2100 a month just to have insurance. Our plan used to have a $40 co-pay, so at least when the kids got sick we could justify the expense of going in and getting checked out. In 2018 our co-pay will be eliminated. In addition to the $2100 a month, we would have to pay 100% of all medical costs per person up to $2300 each before any “insurance” would kick in.

Dominic and I work very hard for a living. We are fortunate, we know that. We make just enough that we do not qualify for any subsidy programs. Our cost of healthcare is fully our own. I know that we are not alone in this. I am friends with other families, many of them also self-employed, who have found themselves in a similar situation.

How is this “affordable healthcare?”

Last year we researched the options available to us in regards to the various Christian Health Sharing ministries. Fear kept me stuck in the what-ifs. Dominic was more ready to make a switch than I was but with promises of “reform” all over the news last November….we decided to ride out one more year in hopes that change was really going to happen.

Clearly that change isn’t happening anytime soon. The insurance companies continue to increase rates, decrease benefits and lesson the available networks that the plans work in. When my health care premiums are more than my mortgage payment each month, something is wrong.

So, as a result, two things are happening. One, we are looking into all of the options and companies out there that are considered Christian Health Sharing Ministries. I have spent hours reading and researching the differences, asking for input from friends that are using each plan, and honestly in prayer for wisdom and discernment over our decisions. I can’t live in fear of the unknown. When we get to that place where we have made some decisions I will share the whats and whys here for anyone that is interested.

I still have some questions and am hoping to get those answers soon. I am saddened that this is the state of our affairs and that we have to make these types of “between a rock and a hard place” decisions. But I am trusting that God will guide our choices and our steps.

And two….I have been back in contact with my doctor to discuss and schedule a hysterectomy (one that leaves my ovary intact!!) for the very end of December. While having another surgery in 2 months isn’t on my list of the best ways to end 2017 and ring in a new year, I can’t afford to risk waiting and having to do the surgery in early 2018. If there is a drastic change in my cycles in the next 6 weeks, the surgery could be canceled…but at this point, it looks like for many reasons, it is the best option for me.

I thought the week-long recovery of the last surgery was tough. This one will challenge me even more I am sure. But Dominic has been incredibly supportive and we will just have to schedule our workload very light in early January as a result. We have some pretty incredible clients and I know they will understand.

And sometime in the next 6 weeks I need to come up with about 10 freezer meals that I can make and freeze in advance so that I don’t have to worry about cooking. I won’t be able to lift anything over 20lbs for 6 weeks for sure, no laundry, no vacuuming….seriously what will I do?! Haha!

But joking aside, can I tell you that I have such a peace about all of this?! When my doctor said it might be something we would have to do it was like “ok…I can deal with that.” All the fear and anxiety I felt over the last surgery is just gone. Praise God! I know that having come to that place with Him, trusting that whatever the outcome, He would be there….that truth has carried me through today. It can only be explained by Him. He has given me a peace and I am so grateful for that.

So I do covet your prayers as we make final decisions about our health care situation and for December 28th and my surgery. It could be so much worse, I know that….so I just move forward seeking to get to the healthiest place that I can for myself and my family!

And if you are using a Christian Sharing Ministry and want to share your experience please do! What do you love, what works…what doesn’t, would you go back to traditional insurance? What questions should I be asking…give me all your knowledge!

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!!

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!

Friday Loves on Tuesday

Friday Loves

Ok so I know it is Tuesday and NOT Friday…but I couldn’t get a Friday Loves post up this past Friday…and with October right around the bend, I thought I would share some Loves early mid-week instead!

Write31Days

Fervent Prayer

I am really excited about the series that God placed on my heart for this October. This will be my third year participating in the series. Writers from all over the globe commit to writing/posting every day for 31 days during the month of October. After leading a Bible Study on Fervent in my church I felt led to also write a series for October! I have several posts pre-written and hopefully will be able to get the remaining posts done for the end of the month! I would love it if you would join me in exploring the topic of fervent prayer!

Five Minute Friday Book

fmf-book

Over the years I have participated in the flash-mob of writers who join every Thursday night to write for five minutes on a specific topic. It has been awhile since I have written but about a year ago I heard that they were putting together a book of Five Minute Friday pieces and I submitted one for consideration! I, along with 150 other writers, are included in this amazing book! What is even more awesome is that all the proceeds from this book will go to benefit 2 different charities. You can find out all the specifics over at Kate’s blog. You can purchase the book at Amazon here.

From the Depths We Rise

from-the-depths-we-rise

I have been following Sarah’s blog for over a year now so when I was contacted by my friends over at Icon Media with an opportunity to review Sarah’s new book, I jumped at the chance! I started reading it this weekend and it is SO GOOD. This book is a memoir of Sarah’s journey through some of the most difficult and life altering circumstances. She writes with such transparency, unafraid to discuss the hard and sometimes unanswerable questions…and yet does so with such grace.   Sarah’s faith in God, even in the face of her worst nightmares coming true, will challenge you to examine your own faith as well. She is a reflection of the truth that God never said that this life would be easy, but He would be with us the entire time and our hope should be in the promise of his redemptive power over all of our troubles. This is a book that you want to read, and follow her blog too…a beautiful soul who is bringing light into this dark world! You can purchase your copy on Amazon here.

Dayspring Nativity Hurricane Trio

dayspring-candle-trio

The Dayspring Hurricane Candle Trio is one of my most favorite items that I display in my home. I initially purchased it for Christmas, but I love it so much I honestly leave it up on my shelf all year round! Today and tomorrow only, Dayspring is having a flash sale and the Trio is only $50! And will ship for free!! If you have ever wanted to have this for your home, buy it today! You will not be sorry!!

So what are you loving this week? I’d love to hear all about it in the comments below!!

The Sounds of Praise

Lake walk

The black-and-white butterflies danced in front of our feet as we walked down the rocky path towards the shoreline of lake in front of us.

A bird circled overhead and cawed, reminding us that this was his territory.

The wind was strong that day and the trees sang and danced as the gusts caused their limbs to sway to and fro.

We were taking some time away with family, free of meetings and client calls. A time to breathe, something my husband and I both desperately needed.

There were sounds and movement all around us but I was filled with peace.

That kind of peace where you know all is well. Being able to unplug and just drink in this world that was created just for us.

I couldn’t help but feel a sense of gratitude at the multitude of ways nature sings praises to the One who created all of it.

The trees making a song with their branches and the birds soar high on the currents of the air, rhythmically moving with the wind. The waves join in on the lake as they build and crash across the surface of the water. The plants and flowers provide beauty. All of it is a reminder to me that God is ever present.

There has always been something about nature that has drawn me closer to God.

It is as though in these moments where I step away and just pause to see, that I am overwhelmed at all He is and has done for me.

I need to be more intentional about taking the time to seek Him in the world around me.

Stepping away from the clatter of the busyness of life and into the sounds of celebration and praise that nature provides.

Is there a place that you connect most with God? Take some time this week and unplug so that you can connect with God!

For the Times You Don’t Feel Equipped

Being Equipped

It has been mostly silent here in my little corner of the www.

Except for the occasional book review/giveaway, I haven’t really had the words. It is frustrating for someone like me who has learned to process through writing. It isn’t that I haven’t wanted to write either.

In April Dominic and I attended a marriage conference that was really impactful. I knew I wanted to write about it, but I just couldn’t find the words to do so. In June we celebrated our 20 year anniversary and with it came a tough lesson I had to learn about my stubbornness and pride, and how the enemy targets those very character defects in me. Some  day I will share that with you as well if God leads.

I know that the “experts” would tell me that I should get up and write regardless if I have the words…but when I don’t feel God leading me there, it feels forced and in-genuine. Some day soon I hope to be back to a regular writing schedule though…God-willing.

This morning as I was getting ready I was thinking about those times when I have felt ill-equipped to do what God has called me to.

Do you ever find yourself there? In a situation where you know God has brought you to but yet you feel like the least qualified to be there?

A few months ago we were getting close to wrapping up the bible study we were on in our women’s group at church. We started talking about what we would like to do next and someone mentioned the book Fervent.

I had read it 3 times through and really loved it so I was all on board for that. I didn’t think that it was something I would lead, I just wanted to read it again. Each time I have been through it I find things that I missed, or nuggets of information that mean even more to me with each new read.

The morning after the discussion I woke up unusually early and started writing. Within a short amount of time I had 5 bible study lessons written that would be the start to a guide for the book.

If you have read it you know that there isn’t a specific bible study for the book. I sent what I had written to the ladies that lead our group and said that I thought I could write out the rest of the guide for the remaining chapters. It really was a God-led thing and honestly the book made it easy.

And so a few weeks ago we started our study of Fervent, using my guide, which is still a bit of a surreal experience for me. This feels largely out of my skill set. And in addition to writing the guide I am now leading the study. Another thing that feels outside of my talents.

I was praying on the way to church on Tuesday that God would just give me the words. I worry about filling those uncomfortable gaps of silence, of creating a safe place for everyone to share and be honest. There is the time factor, what if I can’t fill the specified time…what if times gets away from me!

It all seems so much more than I can handle. And I start to doubt that I am the right person to be leading this group of women that have so much more wisdom than I ever have had.

But it is where I am finding myself.

This week as I left bible study I was just overwhelmed by how God shows up. It doesn’t matter that I don’t have it all figured out. The women that are attending each have their own wisdom to share, and collectively as a group we grow from our shared experiences.

And I wondered if maybe that’s why God called me to this.

It wasn’t that I had so much to give, but rather that it was an opportunity for me to witness how incredible my God is. {Click to Tweet}

To find myself in awe of how He would use me, grateful for the new women that are there this time and how much I have learned from them. Filled with a passion to continue to have a place where we can be transparent with one another and grow in our understanding of prayer.

It is a humbling experience and such an honor to be a part of this amazing group of women.

So if you are being called to something that feels outside of your comfort zone, don’t worry. Trust that God will give you just what you need. And wait with hopeful expectancy that He will give you more than you expect out of the process!

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!

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!

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