Category Archives: Being real

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.

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!!

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

A Lesson in Forgiveness

I was in the bathroom getting ready when I heard the screaming.

Dominic had been invited to attend a seminar tonight as one of their featured guests and we were 30 minutes from the time we had to leave. When we heard the screams we both went running to see what was going on.

Karlena came into the kitchen holding her mouth, blood covering her chin and teeth. It looked awful to me and I was pretty sure she needed stitches…but the clinics were all closed for the day and our only option was the ER.

I called my dad, he is a PA, and asked if we could send him some pictures. He confirmed that it needed to be treated. He said they may be able to glue it together but we needed to go in. A few calls were made to the group that was putting on the seminar to notify them we wouldn’t be attending, and we got ready to leave.

I sent a quick vox to some close friends asking for prayer. Prayer for Karlena and prayer for me. I have struggled to parent well in a few situations recently, and this was testing me in a big way. You see our son had pushed his sister and caused the accident.

I knew it wasn’t his intent to hurt her…but I was angry nonetheless. I wanted to handle this appropriately…it was important that he understand how serious this was. But on the other hand, despite his rough and tumble exterior, he is a boy with a tender spirit.

And if I am being completely honest with you, it is my nature to lay blame and also to create an environment filled with anger. And that is a dangerous combination!!

So we went to the ER and our brave girl was glued back together. Her lip continues to swell and because of the position of the steri-strip she is having a hard time opening her mouth very wide. Dominic told Elijah to come with so he could see what Karlena had to go through.

It is important that our kids understand that there are consequences to their actions….and sometimes they are painful ones.

Before we left the ER, Karlena was given this little bag with a coloring book, markers and a matching game for being so brave. We got home and one of the first things Karlena did was look at her brother and tell him that she forgave him. And then she asked if he wanted to play with the new things in her bag.

I was taken aback at how quickly she not only offered forgiveness but also took a step towards restoring the relationship. There was no blame or shame and guilt. Just love. Oh the lessons that I can learn from my 6yr old.

I went over to our E and hugged him and reminded him that we loved him. We talked about how our actions can hurt someone else, even if we didn’t mean to and we reminded him that he needs to learn from this lesson. But ultimately I want him to know that he is loved, especially when he has done something wrong.

I so desperately want to make sure that we are a home filled with love even when things aren’t “perfect.” I don’t ever want my kids to grow up thinking that our love was conditional based on their behavior. I was reminded tonight that I can teach consequences and model love simultaneously. 

Karlena taught me that forgiveness can be swift and without conditions and relationships can be restored without guilt, even when the pain still remains. What a gift she gave me tonight.

I know that I too must remain teachable. I can learn from my mistakes and seek to make better choices, and I can love well in the difficult and the easy.

Not what I had planned or expected for my Saturday night! And if you think about it would you say a prayer for our girl tonight? She is starting to notice the pain more now and everything feels swollen and “weird.” Hopefully if all goes well it will heal with little scarring but she is going to feel a little uncomfortable for the next several days. Thank you friends!!

Broken Pieces


We decided to go down to the beach for one last walk to look for shells.

It was much colder that morning and the wind was blowing the dry sand across the beach. The waves rolled and crashed and after a few minutes we threatened to go in.

I love hunting for treasures. When we vacation in the summer with our kids it is one of my favorite things to do. It maybe be quartz or agates or shells….but the thrill of finding that one perfect treasure keeps me going. So that morning I kept walking.

The reality was that most of what we found was broken. Hurricane Matthew had done some major damage on those beaches in Georgia just months before and so what was washing ashore was broken pieces of once beautiful shells.

But as I walked I reflected on some of the broken pieces of my own life. Times where I too had found myself shattered. Times where I had done the damage to someone I loved. At the time I could only see the shards of what was remaining….it didn’t seem like beauty could come from the brokenness.

But over and over again God has restored those broken places. Not because I deserved it, or even because I had changed, but simply because He is sovereign and merciful and He loves me.

As I picked up the pieces of the broken shells I could imagine what they looked like whole. I could see their beauty despite their brokenness.

I spent some time that morning walking and praying. I thanked God for all the ways in which He has changed me. I thanked Him for His love and mercy. God has been faithful to restore and redeem me even when I have fought Him and actively gone against His will before coming to that place of surrender.

He has always been constant in my life. A good, good Father. We sang that song in church a few weeks ago and it is so beautiful. A praise to the One who makes all things new.

Even when we can’t see it, when we are in the midst of the struggle, God sees us whole. Because of the saving sacrifice of His Son, God sees me as the perfect shell. He doesn’t see the chips and cracks, the shards left from the brokenness I have caused…no He sees the whole me. A vision of myself I may not comprehend this side of heaven.

Friends, I don’t know what might be the cause of your broken pieces, but I am sure you have them just like I do. It is easy to get stuck in the pit, focused on all of the negatives and unable to see the beauty.

But the beauty is there. Sometimes it takes a perspective shift to see it…but it is there. It is a new year. A time for fresh starts. Take a moment today and look for the beauty around you. Acknowledge where God has moved in your life and thank Him for that. Hold tight to the truth that He sees you whole and that those broken pieces in your story may just be the thing that gives another hope.

The Unmaking

the-unmaking

Recently I had the opportunity to hear Nicole Nordman perform. She has a very powerful testimony and she shared about  how walking through some of the darkest moments of her life helped her to find God in a new way.

Then she sang this song called The Unmaking. It was incredibly powerful and as I have listened to it over and over again I have realized that this is where I am finding myself once again.

It is coming to that place where we are broken because we can’t manage life on our own. It’s the giving up of the lies we have believed, the things that have shaped us and kept us stuck. It is the letting go of the need to control and finally being ready to trust God with our lives.

The chorus of her song says it beautifully:

This is the unmaking
The beauty in the breaking
Had to lose myself
To find out who You are
Before each beginning
There must be an ending
Sitting in the rubble
I can see the stars
This is the unmaking

I have walked some difficult roads over the past several years. Ones that were hard by my own doing. Through a lot of hard heart work I have come to that place where I am letting go of shame, embracing who God has made me to be. I am finding joy and contentment in where I am (especially with my writing here) and am letting go of the burden of jealousy and envy. Something that has tripped me up for far too long.

Just like the song says, I had to come to that place where I was completely unmade and yet because of my faith, I could trust that God had a plan for it all.

Freedom came from that refining. I wrote an entire 31 Days series that came as a result of that time in my life. I am so grateful that God met me there and I really thought that maybe I was done with my “trying” times for awhile.

But today I had a realization that I once again was going through a refining time.

I am inching closer to 42. When people told me that things would change once I turned 40, I didn’t really think it would happen to me. But (of course) it did happen and over the past almost 2 years I have gotten more physically weak, more tired and deal with back pain every day.

Something had to change. I was tired of making excuses and so I joined an accountability group that’s led by an amazing coach and started on my first round of the 21-day fix exercise program. Guys, it’s HARD. And this morning I shared the following in my accountability group….

“My husband and I were talking to our oldest son a year or so ago and joked that when you turn 40 all bets are off. It gets harder to keep off the weight, to exercise etc. We made up this acronym to describe ourselves. WOLFS. You would think it might mean something strong but no, it stood for Weak, Old, Lazy, Fat and Soft. That’s how I have viewed myself for the past year or more.

Back in 2012 he and I were doing the 30-day shred videos. I was stronger and more fit than I had ever been. I felt great about myself. Then my husband fell off a 15ft extension ladder and shattered his heel bone into 3 pieces. It was a major injury, changed his life. He lives with constant pain and will never run again. He has 10 screws and a plate holding his foot together. It was a miracle he didn’t break his back, leg etc.

Once that happened I felt guilty when I would go exercise because he physically couldn’t. For 4 months he couldn’t even walk on his leg. And so I quit. Once I stopped it was easy not to get back into it, to make excuses.

Today as I did the pilates fix I struggled. At one point I cried. I am so not flexible. I can’t even fully straighten my legs. I always have to follow Kat (the modified exercises) and I am so tired of being a WOLFS.

This is not only a physical battle for me but an emotional and spiritual one. I believe lies much faster than I do truths. I get discouraged and quit when it gets hard. This time I want something different. So while I am discouraged at how poorly I do on the exercises, I am determined to keep going. I am only 4 days into the actual program. But I have done at least 20 minutes of hard exercise 9 out of 11 days. That’s huge for me.

I can do this. Tomorrow I will get up and do the next cardio workout in the program. I will probably have to stop and my body will hurt, but I am getting stronger. And I will see results. I am holding on to that this morning.”

Sharing that truth felt like a weight lifted.

But laying on the floor this morning I realized that I was in that place of brokenness once again. I could stay there and feel sorry for myself, or I could commit to getting back up and working for my best health.

I don’t know where you are today, what needs rebuilding in your life, but I am guessing you are stronger than you realize. God has equipped you and will strengthen you and even in the rubble you can see the beauty…the hope that’s available.

If you are holding onto lies, I am praying you would ask God to reveal the truth. And remember that when we are at our “bottom”, the only place we can look is up. I encourage you to listen to the entire song The Unmaking…I hope it blesses you like it has me!

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Photo credit: changeable focus

Friday Loves

Friday Loves

So I always see these fun Friday Favorites posts in my inbox and thought that I would put together a fun list of my own “loves”. I can’t promise that I will do this every week, but I hope to share some of my favorite things, favorite people and favorite blogs when I do! I’d love to hear some of your loves so share them in the comments below!

Favorite new book I am reading: Chase the Lion by Mark Batterson

I was fortunate enough to be on another launch team for Mark Batterson. You must read his books – life changing! I think this one will be the same. I am only a few chapters in right now, but essentially it is a book about chasing your dreams. As a dreamer who is also a scaredy cat, this book will be sure to challenge me!

Chase the Lion

Favorite place to shop: Noble Women Botique

NWB

Their store motto is “Look Good, Feel Good, Do Good” and is inspired by Proverbs 31: 10-30. NWB was one of the first “local” stores that I shopped at when we moved to Marshall 5 years ago. I honestly didn’t have much of a sense of style back then and you likely would have found me rocking my mom jeans. But as I have added to my closet I have discovered that I do have a particular style and I can dress fashionable, even at 41! 😉 If you are ever in Marshall you just let me know and we will go shopping together!

Favorite new item on my 2016 wish list: ViBella Brittany Necklace

ViBella necklace

Oh my, this new necklace from ViBella is on my wish list for sure!! Not only for it’s beautiful colors, but it is made by an artisan in Ecuador and by purchasing this it helps women in poverty have gainful employment. Love the product and love the company mission even more!!

Favorite skin care product: Rodan & Fields Multi-purpose Eye Cream

R&F Eye Cream

About 2 years ago I started using Rodan & Fields. For the first 6 months I used the Reverse line in-between other products that I needed to use up. I hated to throw anything else away. I also, typically, only use the product in the morning. Does anyone else struggle with washing their face before bed? So silly I know, but I get so tired and brushing my teeth is about all I can handle. Anyways, I am working at treating the melasma patches I had on my cheeks after having Karlena. My face always looked dirty or like I didn’t know how to apply my makeup. Their skin care line has transformed my skin. And this multi-function eye cream is one of the best! Yes it is a little more expensive than your drug store brand, but I spent $$$$ lots of money on every product available and none worked like this has!

Favorite part about summer ending: Canning!

Canning

I know that probably seems crazy, but I love the satisfaction of canning/freezing for winter eating! This year we froze approximately 51 quarts of bagged sweet corn stuffed full, we also froze pounds and pounds of peaches, strawberries, blueberries and cherries for smoothies! And we have done 2 or 3 batches of tomatoes. We have so much salsa left from last year that I didn’t do any of that this year. But we will have lots of tomatoes for chili, soups, spaghetti and lasagna! Yum yum!

Well that’s all I have for today! Share your favorites below won’t you?!

I Want to be That Woman

Be a Light

James 3:13 “Who in your community is understanding and wise? Let his example, which is marked by wisdom and gentleness, blaze a trail for others.”

Her name flashed across my phone as a call coming in. I was in the middle of my Bible study and I couldn’t answer it right then. It was a bit unusual that I was getting a call from this friend so I made a mental note to touch base with her when I was done.

I sent her a text an hour or so later when I was getting ready to drive back home, she asked if I was free and her call came in a moment later.

“I knew if I called you, you would pray” she said as she poured out the incredibly difficult news she had received earlier that day.

My heart was breaking for her and I worried that I wouldn’t have the “right” words to say to her. “It’s too big Lord.”

And then I remembered something that we had talked about in Bible Study just an hour before. We were on our last week of studying the book Fervent. I had the incredible opportunity to lead the 12 week study and even wrote the outline that we used to do so. God was in all the details with that one and I can’t wait to tell you more in October!

But that day we had discussed relationships and how the enemy will often attack even our Christian relationships. If he can bring dissension, he will. He wants to see us broken and weak and alone.  We talked about how we can fight against that. What does it look like to be a light in our church and our community?

Then we read James 3: 13-18. I happened across the Voice version and loved what it said.  James 3:13 “Who in your community is understanding and wise? Let his example, which is marked by wisdom and gentleness, blaze a trail for others.”

That is who I want to be, I had shared. A woman who is understanding and wise. A woman who is marked by wisdom and gentleness. I want to blaze a trail for others.

I know that I am not all there yet, but I have hope in God’s ability to continue to restore and refine me. And in the doing so, I want to be able to share that hope with others.

So this morning, in the darkness of my living room, I knelt before my couch and I prayed. It is embarrassing to admit that it had been a long time since I had prayed like that, with that much fervency. Here I had been leading a study on fervent prayer and my own prayer life had waned a bit.

But it didn’t matter at that moment. What mattered is that I wanted to follow through on my promise to pray.

I spoke bold, miracle-pleading prayers.

I believe my God can answer those prayers in the way I would like. I also know He may not. So I prayed for peace and understanding. I prayed for this friend and her family and I knew that God WOULD be there with them through this season.

I can’t begin to speculate on the outcome, but I know without a doubt that God can and will be glorified through it all. I also prayed that I would have discernment and wisdom so that I could be the best support possible to my friend.

We were texting this morning a bit and she asked “how do always have the right thing to say?” I laughed to myself and then told her that every once and awhile I listen to God’s leading and I have that “right” thing to share. But the reality is that I am human too and it is also just as likely that I will get angry or frustrated and snap at my husband or kids, right after being fully filled with God’s wisdom.

I don’t get it right most of the time. But I still want to be THAT woman.

I want to blaze a trail for other women to follow.

I can’t do that on my own though, God must go before me. It is only through Him that I am able to be any hope to another. It is an honor and a privilege to walk out this faith journey and share it with others. I know what a mess I am most days and so if God can use me He can use any of us!

So walk with me won’t you? Blaze a trail of your own and be THAT woman to someone else! And if you would, please join me in praying for my friend. God knows who she is and what her specific need is. I will continue to pray for a miracle, trusting that God will be there regardless of the outcome.

A Curly Girl Hair Routine

Curly Girl 1

Alright friends, it once again has been a LONG time since I have updated about life here. The summer in our part of the state is still going strong and school won’t start for another 3 weeks (Lord help me those kids need to GO.BACK.TO.SCHOOL!!) Can I get an Amen?!

Anyways, I have been writing. But I can’t share what I am working on yet. It started with writing a study guide for the book Fervent and has led into a 31 day series that I am sharing in October! I am pretty excited about having over 1/3 of my posts fully written in early August. But it means that other writing has taken a back seat.

But last night at Bible study I was sharing my hair woes. I showed up with my hair in a ponytail. Which I never do unless I am having a real bad hair day. Which led to the discussion about my curly hair routine. It is pretty laughable and so I thought it would be fun to share here!

I was sent a new product to try and review that was a shampoo and conditioner. It did not get my glowing review, thus the ponytail…but I have weird, finicky hair and specific steps that I MUST take each day so that I don’t look freakish.

So a little background.

I had stick straight hair, and apparently a solid mullet as a child. Evidence below…

Kristin teenage pic

When I was 10 maybe 12 I started getting a perm at the local beauty school. It was the 80’s and what you did.

Kristin child pic

Once I started getting perms, it seemed the easiest way to do my hair. I have very fine hair but lots of it. So it can look thick, but if I try and wear it straight now it behaves terribly. The routine I will share in a minute would be 3x longer if I wanted to try and wear straight hair every day. And I have a longer face…straight, no body hair gives me a horse face. I don’t have a picture to prove it, so you are going to have to trust me on this! 😉

When I had Isaac I decided to cut all my hair off. It was SHORT. And Dominic hated it. It took me years, painfully slow years to grow it back out. Once it got long enough I permed it again to give it body. I like the big hair I guess, if it can’t be beautiful, sleek hair then it should be Texas big! ha!!

With each pregnancy my new hair seemed to grow in more and more curly. So today I think I have a mix of natural curl and perm. I get a perm about every 18 months or so. She uses these long rods which are different than the rods I traditionally had. Something like this. Only hers are more narrow and white. But you get the point.

Perm rods

The perm gives my hair nice curl, and good volume. But I think it looks pretty natural. Just a few days after my perm it doesn’t have that 80’s frizz look. Over the years I have tried EVERY shampoo, gel, mousse combination possible. I have finally found a system that my hair seems to respond well to. (I am telling you it is finicky hair) If I change it up my hair goes nuts. Every single time.

Steps

Deva Curl No-Poo shampoo is the only shampoo I like. Other shampoo makes my hair shaft expand 3 times its normal size. The product I was sent to test out made my hair a snarly ball in the shower.! It was awful. No-poo shampoo doesn’t create suds, but it still cleans your hair. I could easily comb through my hair in the shower, it keeps my hair light and non-expanded. The conditioner just adds some moisture.

A few years ago I read that curly girls shouldn’t use towels on their hair, but a t-shirt. Something about the towel sucking out the moisture too fast and causing frizz. So I have 2 t-shirts that I use each morning. One for when I get out of the shower, and another to use after all the products have been added.

So I wear t-shirt #1 while I get dressed and then I start the process of layering on my products. Layering? Seriously guys this hair of mine!! Anyways, I use Redkin snap to strengthen my ends and a small, pea-sized amount of argon oil right before I comb through my hair. Everything I do, I do with my head upside down. There is something about doing it this way that seems to comb easier, stress less, etc. It works, try it!

Once I have combed through (I use a pick) I apply my mousse. The only mousse that my hair likes is L’Oreal Everstyle Alcohol free curl enhancing mousse. It is light-weight and not sticky. I don’t know that the company is making it any more. I have probably 8 cans I bought in bulk in my closet. It is less than $6 a bottle and I will cry if I ever can’t find it anymore!!

After the mousse comes my Deva curl light defining gel. I use one-half a pump. So not much. The 32oz jug I bought 2 years ago is less than 1/2 full still. It lasts me a long time!

Steps Final

The entire time, I have my head upside down and I am scrunching my hair up. The final step {for now} is to use some Moroccan sea salt spray. This too is a light-weight product, but gives my hair extra bounce. Finally I get out t-shirt #2 and wrap up my hair to dry while I do my make-up.

If I let my hair naturally dry, it is lifeless and a little crunchy. If I use a hairdryer it gets too frizzy. So a few years ago I discovered that if I sit in front of a space heater it dries the outside layer enough so that I can curl it and gives it body, but doesn’t leave it too frizzy.

Seriously, do you know anyone who needs to use a space heater to dry their hair?! My hair has it’s own DIVA personality!

Wet with heater

So in the picture above it me with wet hair, and my trusty space heater. :):)

Scrunch and Dry

While I sit, I scrunch, always the scrunch to help enhance the curls. The picture above it me scrunching away and the after picture once it is dry. (It is not fully dry…the underneath layer is always still damp and just dries naturally.

Now I am almost done!! YAY! I am tired, aren’t you?!

I have never found a hairstyle that has allowed me to not pull my hair back a little. I can’t stand having hair in my face, and I don’t want to be constantly tucking it behind my ears…so I pull it back every day. It used to bother me but then I remembered that girls with straight hair, or short hair pretty much style their hair the same every day too…I am no different.

Before and After

My final step is to curl the very bottoms of the front of my hair and add in some soft curls around my face. My ends, even when newly cut, can have a bit of frizz to them…the curling iron softens those. I don’t have to do much else, but set it with hairspray.

At this point I have been up 4 hours and 42 minutes…ha! Kidding!! But I would say that everything, start to finish, including showering, dressing, my make-up etc takes me a full hour. I do not have wash and go hair. I can’t skip a few days and not wash in between either. My hair would be gross if I did that. Dry shampoos don’t work on my hair, so this is a routine I have mastered and accepted as my life.

Seems a bit extreme doesn’t it?! I am so jealous of those women who can just wash and go, or dry brush and go. I may never know that kind of luxury!! #curlygirlproblems

Are you a #curlygirl? What are some of the products you use that you love?! I’d love to hear!!

No Longer Ashamed – Finding an Identity in Christ

identity in christ!

I have spent a lot of my life living under the weight of my past and my failures.

Convinced I didn’t have anything to offer, and further justified in my mind when I would see others succeed and I did not.

My identity had become something that was defined by my success (or lack thereof), if I wasn’t invited to be a part of something I must not be worth it. I became more and more ashamed of who I was and certain that I had no value.

I can see today that it was a lie – but in the thick of it, it seemed like absolute truth.

Oh how we can be deceived. The Bible says in John 10:10 that the thief comes to kill and destroy but God has come to give us life and abundantly at that!

I have heard that verse hundreds of times over the course of my 41 years and it wasn’t until recently that I really understood its truth in my own life.

I have read a couple of books about shame in the past 6 months, most recently one called “Unashamed – Healing our brokenness and finding freedom from shame” by Heather Davis Nelson.

In it she describes shame as “the feeling that we have missed the mark according to our own standard or our perception of someone else’s standard for us. Shame keeps us from being honest about our struggles, sins and less than perfect moments. Fear of shame drives us to perfectionism in all areas of our lives, so that there would be no imperfection to be noticed and judged. Shame is what we heap on others when they fail us. Shame keeps us holding onto bitterness and refusing to forgive. We are impacted by the shame of sin committed against us, and this drives a wedge into our relationships.” p20

That feeling we have missed the mark….

The story of my life really, but I want freedom and I believe it is possible!

But it starts with an honest look at what has shaped me over the years. How I see people seeing me now. Why the opinions of others matter SO much and a look at who am I living my life for.

These aren’t easy questions to explore and honestly it has been a bit of a painful process.

But I believe that the heart work has been necessary to get to that place that I can be honest with others. The hope is that in doing so we can surround ourselves with a body of believers that encourages us in spite of our failures.

Heather says this…“Imagine a community where we are free to be known and seen for who we are on our best days and our worst days.” p83

If I want that community for myself I first need to be that kind of community to others. And I can use Christ as my example.

Finding my identity in the One who can fully restore me from all shame, all my sinful past, all my mistakes and hurts.

Heather said it beautifully here…“Rescue comes only through Jesus. Jesus took the shame of our shame-filled (and shame-fueled) performances and mis-placed blame, and bore it in His body and shed blood for us on the cross. He covered not only the guilt of our sin, but our shame of trying to cover up our sin. And the good news doesn’t stop there! We have Jesus’s righteous performance in place of our feeble half-hearted attempts.” p93

Jesus did it all.

And He did it EVEN THOUGH He knew what my sins would be. He loved me that much. And now because of this great sacrifice, my identity isn’t one of sin and shame but instead an identity filled with the goodness of who Christ is.

It’s pretty amazing really and I am so grateful for this gift of new life He has given me!

I don’t know about you, but trying to be something I am not is exhausting. I won’t ever get this life “right”, I can’t be perfect and when I try (and for all the wrong reasons) I will fail every time.

Instead I am finding peace and sanctuary in the knowledge of my new identity and claiming it with TRUTH from His word.

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has done, the new has come!” 2 Corinthians 5:17

“There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, for the law of the Spirit of life has set you free from the law of sin and death.” Romans 8:1

“I have been crucified with Christ and therefore I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” Galatians 2:20-21

Take some time today to revel in those truths. If you have struggled with your identity, start praying about how God can open your eyes to your real identity through Him. Take a step of faith and start building community with someone you can trust, and start getting real. I think that as we do this and then also claim truth in our hearts from the scripture we will start walking in the freedom that God has intended for us all along!

Heather’s book is really good and explores areas of shame in our body image, our social interactions and our performance. What I loved most about the book was that it is filled with the truth and encouragement that can only be found in a relationship with Jesus. Not another self-help book but rather a hope-filled book that can help you identity shame and then break free from the chains it has on you!

I was sent a copy of Unashamed to review for free in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own. The wonderful people at #FlyBy have a copy of this book for me to giveaway to one of my readers!! If you would like a copy simply leave a comment below! I will pick a winner next Friday the 8th!

Unashamed book

“Disclosure (in accordance with the FTC’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guidelines Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising”) Many thanks to Propeller Consultin, LLC for providing this prize for the giveaway. Choice of winners and opinions are 100% my own and NOT influenced by monetary compensation. I did receive a sample of the product in exchange for this review and post. Only one entrant per mailing address, per giveaway. If you have won a prize from our sponsor Propeller/FlyBy Promotions in the last 30 days, you are not eligible to win. Or if you have won the same prize on another blog, you are not eligible to win it again. Winner is subject to eligibility verification.”

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