Category Archives: Being real

An Unlikely Bunch – The Gift of Friendship

Gift of Friendship

I’ll just start out by being really honest with you. I didn’t want to be a part of their “group”. When Dominic “recommended” that I go to the new bible study meeting at church I was less than enthused.

There were several times over the course of the past 4 years that I wanted to participate in one of the bible studies, but there never seemed to be time. But now it was HIS idea so somehow it was a priority. And I didn’t want to go.

You see we were really struggling, no…I was really struggling. My attitude and behavior were less than ideal and I was creating waves in our marriage that were drowning us both. I needed something, I knew it…but I didn’t want it to be something he recommended. Admitting this was a good thing was also an admission that I needed help and I wasn’t ready for that.

I can be a bit overreactive and emotional if you couldn’t tell….

A small piece of me knew that if I didn’t go to this study, I may ruin future opportunities…so that first Monday I got in my car and drove to church. It is a 15 minute drive and I fought with God the entire way. “I DON’T want to be doing this Lord. I know that I need something, but I don’t want it to be the something he recommended. I know I am being terrible right now, so please Lord would you give me even one thing at this study tonight that I could take home with me?”

In my time of desperation, when I called out to God, He heard and He answered.

We are an unlikely bunch. The women in my bible study come from all different places. Some of us are mothers, others grandmas. Some of us are moms of teens and others MOPS. Each of us have a different story to tell. Hurts that have cut us deep and shaped who we are today. Struggles with finances and marriages and freedom from the lies of the enemy.

None of us the same and yet each of us are connected in unity with one goal in mind.

We are seeking a God that loves the very broken women that we are and we are working towards knowing Him more. Becoming a light to those around us, sharing our hurts and our hopes in order to lift one another up.

If you were there with us, you would be warmly welcomed. We don’t have all the answers so we search the God that does. We fail in our jobs and our homes and then we come and share our stories of imperfection. It is a safe place that we can be real and yet walk away lavished in the truth of who we are in Christ.

It was not at all what I expected and exactly what I needed.

I don’t know where you find yourself today. Maybe you have been hurt by the church, or by women…I know it happens and can I just say that I am sorry! I know that I have been that judgmental woman myself, believing that I wouldn’t fit in with “that group.” But boy when I prayed that simple prayer for God to give me one thing I could take home, He gave me an unlikely group of women that have become friends. And I am so grateful.

It is my prayer that we can continue to be that gift to more women that join us…that His love would spread into our homes and our workplaces and communities. That by gathering together as imperfect women, seeking God, we will be able to then be a blessing to someone else who really needs it.

I think that is exactly why God gave us friendships, and today I celebrate that!  Celebrating the friendships that give life today and celebrating the launch of this new book. The Gift of Friendship – Stories that Celebrate the Beauty of Shared Moments by Dawn Camp is available for sale now. A beautiful book filled with stories from women who are doing life with friends. The hard, the wonderful, the scary moments that happen in friendship are all shared in this book. A perfect gift for the friends in your life!

“I’m a Terrible Person!”

Broken Chains

She came in the door sobbing. The kind of cry that would make one think something must be broken.

“I’m a terrible person”, “I’m a terrible person” she yelled in between sobs.

I grabbed her close and asked her why she would even say that.

She is 5. Oh how I don’t want this for her. This naming and claiming of lies.

Apparently something had happened as she and her brothers came back home from a friend’s house. I don’t know if she fell, or if she intentionally did it…but somehow snow got inside the barrel of one of Gabriel’s nerf guns that she was carrying.  In response, one of the neighbor kids told her she was naughty.

She was almost inconsolable. And while I know that my girl can be naughty at times, there is no doubt, I wanted to get at the heart of what she was saying.

I grabbed onto her hands and made her look me in the eyes.

I reminded her of the three truths we had given to her. Elijah had helped choose words for his sister after we picked his.  Karlena is Adventurous, Kind and Brave.

As I held her hands I repeated those three words over and over.

“Karlena, you are Adventurous, Kind and Brave, do you remember that?’

“God made you with those special qualities, look at me Miss…do you remember?”

“Adventurous, Kind and Brave”

She was still crying, but the intensity with which she was, had decreased.

Truth, she needs truth at this moment.

“You are NOT a terrible person, you are Adventurous, Kind and Brave.”

And then we talked about how sometimes even filled with our God-given attributes, we make mistakes.

“Mommy makes mistakes, Daddy, Elijah and Gabriel…even Isaac off at college. None of us is perfect.”

“But we can’t let those mistakes define who we are. Not when you are Adventurous, Kind and Brave.”

We talked about forgiveness, about saying we were sorry if we had hurt someone/something…even if unintentionally. I encouraged her to tell her brother that she was sorry and promised her that he would offer forgiveness.

She said sorry with big, fat tears in her eyes but the second Gabriel said he forgave her she ran and gave him the biggest hug.

And as quickly as the storm had come in, it had left.

I am 41 years young 😉 and at times I still walk around reminding myself that “I’m a Terrible Person.”

I could make a list of all the reasons that would support my claim. But is that what God wants for us?

Yes it is necessary for us to take responsibility for our actions, and sometimes that means saying we are sorry and asking for forgiveness. Hopefully as we mature (and I am not quite there yet, trust me) we learn from our mistakes and turn from those choices to better ones.

I can’t expect perfection from my kids. I won’t.

I do pray that they start to embrace the amazing truths about who they are so that even when they do make a mistake they are so firm in who God made them, that they can weather the storm, the lies that will come at them.

This isn’t a parenting “fix” so that our kids will be appropriately behaved.

No, instead this has been an opportunity for growth in our home. A naming and claiming of the truth and a stomping out of the lies.

It is easy for me to start down the path of “why didn’t I do this sooner…” But I can’t stay there. I have an incredible opportunity to change the path we have been on. Less good versus bad and more truth to overcome the lies.

I start to get a little excited when I think of the freedom that will come of this…Chains are breaking friends, can you hear it?!

Have you given yourself or your kids three truths? I so encourage you to try it and then watch what happens as a result…I’d love to hear your stories as they happen, because I am confident they will blow you away!

Original Photo Credit: via

Empowered to Choose

Choose Elijah

I shared last week about how I had given my kids 3 words. Words that might encourage them to see how God created them. Words that would inspire them to be a blessing to others. I saw it working right away…it is pretty amazing actually and I only wish I had figured this out years ago.

I guess it has been born of my own recent self discovery.

I have been stuck for so long in a place where I felt defined by my failures, where I wanted to be defined by my accomplishments, seeking man’s approval and not considering how I was created in the image of God.

I have walked through life making choices, having responses, laying blame and not taking responsibility for who I was because I wasn’t able to see who I was in Christ. Yes I committed my life to Him and believed I was saved, but I always saw myself as the messy sinner that I was.

I thought I had an understanding of grace, but never really for myself.

But I am realizing that living in this way, full of lies and weighed down by past sins isn’t the life giving freedom that God wants us to walk in, through Him. It is exactly why He sacrificed His son…so we didn’t have to live this way.

I see my own kids responding to life in many of the ways that I have, and I wanted it to change. Yes they would continue to make mistakes, we all do, but what if they could fill their minds and hearts with truth instead? Would it make a difference?

It has and it does.

Elijah has been the most impacted. He held the door again after school for his classmates. He apparently volunteered in the classroom when his teacher was out for the day and his substitute sent a note home and said he was her hero.

Do you know what it does to a young child to be called a hero?!

This morning we were talking on the way to school and he said he wanted to add a 4th word to his list! He called himself helpful. Then he proceeded to name some strengths he saw in me.

He is looking for the good in others and then telling them. He is six. Imagine what a lifetime of hearing and affirming the truth about who God created him to be will do?!

In choosing 3 simple words for my son he is now empowered to choose more truths for himself and others.

He is choosing to see that God created him for good. At six he has a purpose, he believes these truths about himself. He won’t always get it right, but he is embracing the positive instead of believing the negative lies.

Oh how I want everyone to be transformed in the way my son has. We need to start claiming the truths of who God created us to be. Stop believing the lies that you are too dirty, too broken, too sin-filled to be used by God.

Name 3 truths about who God created you to be and start walking in them today. {<====Click to Tweet}

I have maybe shared this song with you already, but it is such a powerful song that I wanted to share it today. It is called Clean by Natalie Grant and the words so speak to who I have seen myself to be, and the the reality of who I am in Christ.

God is restoring my heart and my life piece by piece. I can see it in even the smallest of ways and I am just humbled by His grace in my life.

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It’s Time to Break Busy

Breaking-Busy-Book.-Crazy-Busy-Instagram.-Alli-Worthington(pp_w890_h890)

It is the most common answer when someone asks how we are doing…

We are Busy.

Always busy.

Sometimes I think that I wear busy like a badge of honor. Being busy must indicate that my days are filled with important things and that must make me valuable right?!

When I am focused on preforming, on being someone that matters in this world, I loose my focus on what’s really important.

Alli Worthington talks about this busy cycle in her new book Breaking Busy. (Available tomorrow January 26th!!) She says “Crazy busy is a life without peace. It’s marked by decisions made for the approval of the world, not the approval of God. It’s filled with what we think we “should” do, what we think will make others happy, and we think being a good person (or good girl) looks like. All this busyness, in the end, keeps us out of reach of the life we were created to live.”

How is it that this has become my life?

I recognize the need for peace in my life but yet I can’t stop my need to seek perfection. As if it is ever even available!

Alli shares some signs to help you determine if you are too busy. Things like an inability to control your emotions, or lack of self care. Check and check.

So here’s the raw and ugly truth.

When I spend every waking moment filling my life with way too much, seeking the approval of man over the love of God…I find myself bitter, overwhelmed and quite frankly out of control.

How can we see God’s purpose in our lives, and recognize the gifts He gave us?

Alli says “I have learned that God plants gifts in us and provides opportunities throughout our lives to fulfill our life’s purpose. But we have to break the cycle of busy in our lives if we are going to have enough room to discover God’s plan – our destiny.”

So what’s an overachiever, can’t say no, trying to measure up kind of girl like myself supposed to do?

First, and I am learning this painfully slow…I have to start saying no. Not to everything, but I am trying to be prayerful about the things I say yes to. The places I spend my time, and those commitments that take me away from my family.

It isn’t easy at times, and I struggle even more in our business trying to find that balance between keeping our clients happy and having a manageable schedule. But if we want to enjoy life even a little, finding that balance is necessary for all of us!

Second, I am seeking God for direction in all things. I don’t do this well all the time either but I am trying. I stepped down from the worship team at church in October. I miss it more than I thought I would and part of me really wants to go back. But I have been praying about it and asking God to make it clear if or when that should happen. I haven’t felt His leading and so I am staying where I am.

I want my participation in leading worship to be all for His glory and not to bolster my self esteem. Right now I think it would be more about me than Him…so some continued heart work will need to happen until I am in the best place to honor God with my voice.

And finally I am investing in things that will be best for my emotional/spiritual/mental health. I typically have not been good about taking responsibility for my actions and behaviors. When my emotions get out of control I hurt people. I didn’t want to admit that I needed some help, but I did.

So recently I have been meeting with a counselor. A Christian counselor who is helping me to see what makes me, me and why I think/act the way I do. I am discovering more about who I am, the lies that I have believed for way too long, and what my identity in Christ really is.

It isn’t necessarily convenient to meet with him each week and takes several hours out of my morning because it is over an hour drive to see him. But the time is well spent when my emotional, spiritual and mental health are improving.

Sometimes it is necessary in our busy lives to carve time out to take care of ourselves isn’t it?!

You see, the enemy wants nothing more than to keep us stuck on the merry-go-round of busy. In that place where we are doing too much, we don’t have time for God and really don’t have time to seek out His plans for our lives!

Alli writes this, “Keeping us busy trying to prove our worth is the easiest way to keep us from the life that God created us to live because it makes us think that our worth is based on what we do, instead of who God is.”

Isn’t that some powerful truth?!

This book came at the perfect time for me. I needed the truths that Ali shares in her book. I needed to be challenged and encouraged and this book does just that. I received a copy of her book as a part of her launch team but even more fun is that I have a copy to give away to one of you!!

So if you want to win, please leave a comment telling me one area of your life you would like to be less busy. Additional entries can be received by sharing this post on social media. Leave a comment for each share! I will choose a winner on Friday January 29th!

The Hard Truth

parenting fail

This parenting business is no joke.

I become more aware of my failures as a parent each and every day. And let me just say that before I share my most recent “lesson” with you…there is grace here. Grace for me and grace for anyone reading this that might relate to my struggles. No condemnation – just an opportunity for awareness and grace.

I saw this cute quiz on a friend’s Facebook page. She had asked her young children some questions about her and asked them to answer. Their responses were so loving and adorable…so my first mistake was thinking that my sweet darlings would respond in the same manner about me.

I was wrong. Clearly.

First question – “What is something that I say all the time to you?”

My friend’s kids answer  – “I love you!”

Mine – “Stop doing that.”

I am not even kidding here. I should have known that this wasn’t going to get any better…

Second question – “What makes me happy?”

My friend’s kids answer  – “Playing games with me!”

Mine – “When I am good.”

Third question – “What makes you sad?”

My friend’s kids answer  – “When you have to give me discipline”

Mine – “When I am naughty.”

I stopped the quiz and decided that my heart couldn’t take any more. It is something that has been unfolding before me in the recent few weeks and this quiz had solidified in me the need for a change.

I have talked about it before here that I have struggled my entire life feeling like I didn’t measure up. To what exactly, I’m not sure…but it was a feeling I have lived with forever.

It didn’t matter how hard I tried to “be good”…I was a sinful, selfish human being and eventually all my trying led me right back to a place of failure. A blow up, an unkind word, a threat…the list could go on and on.

I read this book called “Tired of Trying to Measure Up” and while some of the things didn’t necessarily fit with me, so many things did. And it all leads back to one main underlying emotion.

Shame.

When we spend our time trying to measure up to this standard of perfection that we set for ourselves, and then we fail, the natural response is to feel ashamed.

There were things in this book that I knew as a parent I had been doing. Not intentionally no, but a way of communicating with my kids that has allowed them to believe that by “being good” mommy is happy and when they are “bad” mommy is not.

Now yes, I feel happy when my kids are behaving, that is true. But am I communicating to them that I love them NO MATTER WHAT? That even on the days that they make mistakes, there is nothing that would make me love them more or less?

Am I modeling that unconditional love that Christ has for me?

The reality is – no.

As much as I would like to tell you differently, I am learning that this is something in my character that need refining.

I want my kids to understand the difference between good and bad choices. They need to have consequences when they make wrong decisions and can be praised when they are a blessing to others.

But here is what struck me so deeply last night.

It is NOT my kids responsibility to make or keep me happy. They are NOT responsible for my emotions and if I am communicating with them in a way that makes them believe they need to somehow “manage” my feelings…well then things have to change.

This morning I talked with Elijah a little and told him that it was not his job to make sure I was happy. I told him that there were a lot of things that make me happy and I listed off a few things. His smile being one of the biggest.

I also told him that no matter what, I would always love him. Even on the days that he makes wrong choices. I told him that sometimes those choices might make me sad but I would ALWAYS love him, just like God does.

Shame can be a good emotion when we can learn from a mistake and move forward.

But when the pressure to measure up and strive towards an unachieveable perfection causes a lifetime of feeling ashamed of who we are, it is not healthy.

I am working now on retraining my thought processes. It is my natural response to see only the negative in myself (and oftentimes others) and it has kept my in chains for too long.

I am starting by seeking out the truths of who I am in Christ.

Setting my feet on the solid rock of God and remembering that regardless of my choices, God loves me no matter what.

I want my children to walk in that truth as well.

Today I told Elijah that there were 3 things I wanted him to remember about how God uniquely created him. Yes there are so many things I could add to this list, but 3 seemed like something he could remember easily.

I said “You are kind, you are compassionate and you are brave. God gave you those gifts, try and be a blessing to someone else today.”

Will he fail? You bet. We all do.

But my hope is that he will start to walk in the truths of who he is. He will believe those truths over the lies that the enemy will try and whisper to him and he will know that he is loved no matter what.

As parents it is all we can do, own it for ourselves and then pass on the truth to the littles we have been entrusted with.

Original Photo Credit: via modified

Flocked in His Grace

Flocked tree

We had our first big snow recently. Heavy, wet snow fell over the course of 2 days. 2 days that Dominic was out of town and my oldest away at college. Yes I cried and whined having to shovel twice in 2 days and still hurt from the after effects. (Old age stinks) 😉

In an effort to embrace this expected season change and colder weather I tried to focus on the positives….most of which included how beautiful the trees look after a heavy snow. The entire block was white and the once brown, dead looking trees, looked vibrant again.

Yesterday I was driving out of town and while some of the snow has melted, most of the trees were still covered. They glistened in the sun and it was a beautiful sight.

And for some reason I had a flash back to a memory long forgotten.

For years as a child, my parents would take us to get a real Christmas tree at a local nursery. Long before trees were available at every Sam’s Club, Home Depot and Costco, there was one special place we would go each year to get our tree.

The smell inside the nursery was heavenly. The front shop was filled with handmade wreaths and trees decorated with ornaments you could purchase…and then there was a special place in the back corner.

If we were lucky there would be a tree in the contained area that had just been flocked that we could see.

For those that don’t know what flocking is, they use a substance that is white and spray it all over the tree, it makes it look like it was snowed upon. Flocked trees were probably double the price of a regular tree.

I knew they weren’t in our budget, but I always thought they were interesting. It felt like those trees were reserved for the elite, the “special” and just knowing that made them desirable to me.

As I was driving yesterday I realized that the trees outside looked like they had been flocked. Covered full in white, so beautiful….and it was a reminder for me.

I have been walking through the past few months feeling like the brown, dead tree.

I know that I am a sinner, we all are I get it…but there are times that the weight of the person that I am is too much. I get stuck in old habits and patterns of behavior that have long been unacceptable, but I tidy up just enough so that I don’t have to deal with the underlying issue.

I place so much emphasis on how things look on the outside that I have ignored the inside, heart issues, for way too long.

Becoming aware, even slightly of the work that now needs to be done, feels overwhelming and I (as is my nature) want to give up.

Sometimes redemption seems impossible, and grace – real, life changing grace, feels out of reach.

And then I get a simple reminder in the picture of some flocked trees that I too am covered by God’s grace.

Isaiah 1:18 says Come now, let us reason together, says the Lordthough your sins are like scarlet,  they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall become like wool.”

Jesus paid for my sins. How quickly I forget that. I get wrapped up in my own emotions and feelings about my present state and forget that the Son of God bore the weight of MY sins when he hung on that cross.

He did it for me.

And as a result, in the eyes of God, I am white as snow.

Now this doesn’t give me free reign to go and continue to allow sin to wage a war inside of me. There are things I can and need to do with God to work towards freedom.

One of the first things is changing my perspective.

I have believed that I was like that dead tree and couldn’t ever see myself as the beautiful flocked tree.

I could only see the sinner, forgetting what grace looks like. I get stuck in the hopeless and don’t know how to move forward.

My eyes need to be fixated on that vision of grace. I need to embrace it for my own life and then be as generous with it for others as God has been with me.

It is a start, and for me at the end of this year….I guess it is the place that I need to be.

Maybe you have been struggling with something too, feeling like that ugly, dead tree for so long that you have forgotten grace is available for you. Friend I am grasping at these truths with all that I have and want you to know that you aren’t alone.

You are beautiful and loved and flocked by His grace.

Photo Credit: JusDaFax

Clearing Away the Cobwebs

CobwebsIt all started with a chair…

We bought a “fake” leather chair for Isaac to take to college on clearance at Menards. It sat in our living room for several months until a few weeks ago when we moved him to college. It was our only recliner and there was this empty space where it once was. We talked about replacing it and when we went and looked we started talking about getting an entire new set.

My mom had said we should wait until our kids were more grown up…less chance of it getting stained/ruined. And it made sense, it really did. We asked her honest opinion and appreciated her insight.

We have had the same couch for 10+ years and it was showing a lot of wear. The cushions were sagging and stained. It wasn’t nice to look at and it wasn’t very comfortable. We had a love seat that we bought off Craigslist for $80 when we moved here and the dog ate a portion of the arm off it so I had to patch it to keep it from coming apart.

But as we looked I thought, you know why not enjoy it with the kids. Sure it will get stained, but we have loved the life out of our old couch and what if we had waited to get that? It was well used and appreciated…and if we got new furniture it would be the same.

So we bought a couch and some chairs. I guess maybe I justified it all in my mind and I honestly felt good about it. I almost wrote a post about how we should go ahead and enjoy life, even if it gets messy.

Then we went to church on Sunday and our pastor preached about this need we often have to “keep up the our neighbors.” Our need to have everything now. The new car, a phone upgrade every time it is available….he challenged us to ask ourselves what we might do instead with the money we would use for that new phone, or a newer car. Do something radical like buy meals for a needy family each week for a month.

I will be honest I left feeling a little guilty and ashamed.

And while I don’t regret our choice to get the new furniture, I do recognize that this need to have what others have is a problem for me.

When we moved to this house I loved it, it was our dream home. We moved from a very small starter home to this one that had more space than we could have dreamed of. I imagined it to be the place that our grown children and their families would return to…I joked that I would die here, never moving again I declared!

The yellow walls were inviting and a change from the all tan walls in our old home. The grey exterior seemed warmer than the stark white we had left behind.

But at some point the yellow walls in.every.room. became too much and three years ago I started repainting every room I could. First the entryway and hallway, the dining room and kitchen, bathrooms and bedrooms followed. The paint changed the space for me and I was once again content.

Then the outside color of our home started to feel too “institutional.” It was bland and blah and I wanted a change. We had a girl stop by from some painting company offering a free quote. We said yes and I started dreaming of the colors that were possible for our home.

The bid was almost $7000, and even if we had the extra cash, it was an outrageous price to have someone repaint your home…”we could do it ourselves” we thought. But the reality of finding the time/energy to get it done quickly put that idea to rest as well.

Our neighbors got a similar bid and decided to do the work themselves and last summer repainted their home. It looked amazing and I was jealous. I had high hopes that this year before graduation I might tackle the job myself.

Let’s all take a moment to really just laugh at that one ok? Ok you can stop now, I DO realize how insane that idea was.

And recently our other neighbors started getting new siding. It too looks beautiful and the ugly monster “envy” started rearing its head once again.

I called my close friend, the one you can tell your ugliest parts to and they still love you…I told her that I was SOOO jealous of my neighbors home. I wanted my house to look that nice. I wanted a new warm paint color and crisp white trim.

How quickly I go from dream house to dump.

It is a reflection of my heart really. This wanting, never being satisfied, content with all we do have. Always wishing we could have more. I can say I am grateful (and I am) but if I was really grateful, would I feel this discontented??

This morning I took a broom and started to clean up our front porch. It was littered with toys, and food wrappers, leaves and cobwebs. Oh the cobwebs. I started brushing and as I did my perspective of my porch changed.

As the cobwebs fell it took on a new life for me. Sure the paint is still chipping and the grey is still “institutional”, but it is clean and fresh again and I felt happy about it.

Sometimes we need to spend some time clearing away the cobwebs.

We need to do the hard heart work that God requires of us. We need to look at our motives and question why it is that we are making the choices we do. My pastor didn’t say we can’t have nice things, but he did say we should stop and think. Make wise choices and also be generous with others. Give back when we can and stop coveting what we don’t have.

Right now my house doesn’t look like I might dream it should. And when the yard is covered in white snow, the grey won’t feel bold enough for me. But for today I am seeing things with a fresh perspective, a new pair of glasses you might say.

No nothing has changed and it likely won’t for a long time…but I am going to be praying about being content…truly content.

I am going to stop and thank God for what I do have every time I start to covet something I don’t. It is a start. Yes the cobwebs may return…it seems they always do. But I have hope that I can once again get out my broom and work at changing my perspective. One sweep at a time.

Photo Credit: Stephen@home

All the things I want to say…

Sunset IsaacI made a quick trip to Walmart this evening to pick up a few last things on my “sending Isaac to college” list. It is the eve of the eve of our adventure to college and my mama heart aches at the reality of it all.

I cried through the entire worship portion of church yesterday…something I was clearly NOT prepared for as the ugly cry was starting and I couldn’t find a kleenex to save my life. It was awesome. Something about singing about God’s amazing love for us and seeing a dear friend singing on the worship team who is leaving on her own adventure this next week…and standing next to my son, it was too much.

The tears are coming quite a bit these past few days, and I am sick on top of it so it is all around good times.

I found myself in the baby aisle tonight, oddly enough buying pull ups for one who will be in our home for 14 more years and a new towel for the one we are preparing to leave us.

It didn’t seem so long ago that I found myself making late night runs to Walmart to buy a new paci because Isaac’s was lost once again…how is it possible that the time has gone so fast?

As I was leaving the store I was feeling a bit verklempt and I walked out to see the most beautiful sunset before me.

Oddly enough I make many trips at this time of night and for a brief moment I get to experience God’s full splendor in creation itself.

The clouds were tipped in pink and the sky was a brilliant orange, contrasted to the dark clouds that were behind me…a storm that had recently passed through.

Oh how I marvel in the beauty after the storm.

The sky represents a promise to me. A promise that God is always with us….and He CAN make something beautiful out of even our darkest storms. I just have to trust that. Oh may I always remember Lord.

As a mother I honestly want to protect my oldest from any storm.

I want him to learn from my mistakes so he doesn’t have to make any of his own. I pray that his journey would be easier than mine….but if it were, would he experience the majesty that is the sunset after the storm?

In my darkest moments I haven’t always believed that I would see daylight again. And at times I believed that God couldn’t redeem my past.

But He has and He will…

So as I prepare to close this chapter of parenting and enter a new one with Isaac I wanted to share a few things here.

I am an introvert through and through, and while I am a woman with ALL THE FEELINGS, I don’t always express them well. Especially out loud and in person. Thankfully God knew this about me and gifted me with an ability to more comfortably share the cries of my heart behind the safety of a computer screen.

So first Isaac let me say how much I love you.

I know I don’t and haven’t said it enough in person and I am sorry for that. I hope that you know and always know that I love you. You have always been a gift to me. I thank God that he allowed me the blessing of being your mom. How did I ever get to be so lucky?!

And Isaac we are so incredibly proud of you.

Not only are you an amazing brother but you are a hard worker. Someone that can be trusted, dependable and funny. You bring laughter to our home and your presence will be missed by the entire family.

You are smart and talented.

You can take apart just about anything and make it new again. You aren’t afraid to try something new, to push your thinking outside of the box…it is no wonder you are pursuing engineering.

I am so excited to see where God will take you.

I know this transition won’t be easy for you, but I know you will be ok. You have a resilience in your bones and as difficult as it was to move before you started high school..I believe it has prepared you even better for this next phase of your life.

There will be trials. Life won’t always turn out like you hoped or imagined.

My prayer during these times would be that you would hold onto your faith, trust God with the big and the small things….He is with you and will be with you every step of the way. Even in those times you may feel abandoned…He IS there. Trust me on this one…it is a lesson I have learned time and time again.

The last 18+ years have been an honor. 

While this change makes me sad it also makes me so excited for you. There are bigger and better things in front of you. Chase those dreams you have, do the scary stuff, take risks (acceptable, legal ones) 😉 and don’t let fear tell you that you can’t do something.

You are well prepared for this moment Isaac, I am confident in that. We all stumble, face failures and struggle with feelings of doubt…but always remember that you are right where God wants and needs you. Be that light to others, and make a difference.

And while I joke that you are never coming home again I hope that you want to visit us soon. There will always be a place for you here, even if your brothers take over your room next week! 🙂 You were the best thing that happened to your dad and I almost 19 years ago and we are cheering you on as you start college.

Oh and a couple other “administrative” items before I let you go…please text me once a week so I know you are still alive! Know that I will always be here for you. I may force myself not to check up on you but it isn’t because I don’t want to know how you are…I don’t want to be that annoying mom. 🙂 Do your laundry before you run out of shirts and pants. Trust me everyone will appreciate that one. And just go and do your best. We don’t expect perfection…clearly we aren’t capable of it ourselves…just work hard like you always have and you will succeed.

Thank you Isaac for being such a gift. I love you.

Mom

Photo Credit: vj_flicks

Walking in Forgiveness

Path to forgivenessOh friends how I miss this space at times.

I miss writing here, miss sharing my heart…my summer has been filled with fun and not-so-fun moments, and with preparations to send our oldest to college in 15 days, seriously where has the time gone?!

I am not sure that my heart is ready for the change.

And isn’t that the way with so many things? Life, reality, comes at us and we have to deal with it regardless if we are prepared or not.

And as a girl who doesn’t like change, or things out of her control…well this can be a bit of a tough road to go down!

I don’t know why God felt that 2015 needed to be the year of all the lessons. I mean really, one good one would have been plenty for this girl…but it has been chock full of learning and growing.

Most days I probably grumble more than I should.

Many days I focus on the pain of the stretching and not the beauty of new growth.

But every once and awhile I get it…it is a light bulb moment and change happens, and that is what I want to share with you today.

I have vaguely shared that for many years Dominic and I struggled in our marriage. I haven’t shared lots of details, but married life didn’t start out easy.

We jumped right in as young adults into a big world of expectations and we both got burned in the process.

On our wedding day, as my dad gave me away, he told us both to never, never, never give up.

It made me cry and I thought that it was beautiful.

And then I got angry at Dominic for something and wanted to run.

I am not sure where that all comes from really…I need some good therapy to figure it all out. But when things get hard and uncomfortable – I want out!

Very early on I established a pattern in our marriage. It was a damaging and awful path to be on and I walked in it for years. Divorce was a swear word and I used it with a vengeance.

Make me angry, I threaten you with everything that should be secure….family, home, our relationship. It didn’t matter if I really meant it or not. I got mad and opened my mouth and out spewed unmatched ugliness.

Can I just pause and say here that this is NOT where I thought I was headed with this post when I started writing it…that being said I am going to keep walking this out as I feel God is maybe giving me the words for someone who needs to hear them.

In my Hello Mornings study we have been reading through James and yikes can I say that it is a tough one to read when there are so many things that I can personally relate to.

So to lay it all out there…me mad = many people hurt by my actions/words.

I used my words as a weapon time and time again. And Dominic received the worst of it.

And I always felt justified. The conversation in my head always went something like this…

“Well if he wouldn’t have done/said xyz…then I wouldn’t have gotten angry.”

So in my mind it was never my fault. (I see the error in my thinking now, but this has been a struggle for YEARS and it caused so much hurt.)

I became an expert at the silent treatment. Even when forgiveness was asked, and I “granted” it (even though I should have been doing the asking) I would drag out my punishment for days being silent and cold.

Sounds like a wonderful, inviting home doesn’t it?!

We went around and around in this cycle for way too long.

Yes several years ago there was some significant restoration and healing…but bad behaviors are hard to break, especially for someone like me. And walking in true forgiveness wasn’t something that I had mastered.

I forgave with conditions.

I never let go, never took full responsibility for my part….I have been walking in chains and so desperately want freedom.

A few weeks ago Dominic and I had a really great conversation. It was one of those unplanned, deep talks that led to a frank discussion about forgiveness.

Dominic used himself as an example saying things like “at times I do this and say I forgive you, but I don’t really and I hold a grudge….” Everything that he said was something that I should and could say as well. We both do it and it isn’t healthy.

And then he said “We have got to say we forgive one another and then walk forward like we actually do.”

No more I forgive you but….

I forgive you but I am going to remain guarded and distant.

I forgive you but I am going to remember this for next time.

I forgive you but only after I have punished you for a time first.

We have walked that path for longer than we ever should have.

And so that night we committed to walking a new path.

A path of true forgiveness.

It has been a little silly around our house as a result.

Arguing and hurt feelings happen. We are flawed human beings…so now we say “I forgive you” immediately.

Forgiveness is flying around like crazy. I will admit it has become a bit of a joke (sometimes he forgives me for forgiving him), but we are practicing it every day. 🙂

There will be a time where one of us hurts the other. It is inevitable. And as a woman with all.the.feelings., well Dominic just has to look at me sideways on the wrong day and I could get all twisted up.

But if it happens, I will choose to walk in forgiveness.

I will say it and then act like I mean it.

I will not hold a grudge.

I will not threaten our marriage.

I will not give the silent treatment.

He deserves better than that and so do I!

We have a choice to walk in freedom on the path of forgiveness. (<====Click to Tweet)

There is a lightness in my step as a result.

I still have LOTS of issues that I need to deal with, my anger first and foremost at the front…but I have confidence that there will be freedom there as well.

As my dear friend Marlene told me “God has given me the key to freedom…I just need to choose to walk in that freedom.”

So I am marching ahead. Want to join me?!

Joining the beautiful writers over at Jennifer’s place #TellHisStory

Photo Credit: agnivohneb

The Spoon

Spoon 2

A few weeks ago I picked Karlena up from daycare and as we were driving home I noticed that she had a toy in her hand. When I asked her what it was she tried to hide it behind her back.

A pretty clear sign to me that she had taken something that wasn’t hers.

When we got home I told her to show me what she had. It was a small toy horse. She LOVES horses right now and it was obviously something she didn’t already have at home. But I knew it wasn’t hers.

She reluctantly admitted to me that it was Markel’s. When I asked her how she got it outside without either of us seeing it she said she hid it in her shorts! In the waist band to be exact! Can you even believe that?!

We had a long conversation about taking things that aren’t ours and the next morning we brought it back to daycare and she told Markel the truth and apologized for taking something she shouldn’t have.

This isn’t the first time that one of my kids have done something like this. Last year it was Elijah and some shiny treasures from preschool. I might have cause to be worried but the reality is don’t we all covet what we don’t have?

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I don’t remember how old I was but I do remember the tea set.

We lived on a hill and there was a family that lived down the hill from us that had 2 girls just a few years younger than me. Sarah and I became friends and often played together. Her dad also had a red corvette and every once and awhile he would take us out in the “cool car” to McDonalds for an ice cream cone. That was always such a treat!

At some point Sarah got a brand new, huge white tea set for a birthday or Christmas present.

Oh how I wanted that tea set. I loved playing with it and wanted to have one at my house. But I didn’t. It wasn’t enough that Sarah was generous in sharing it with me during our play time…no I needed to have one myself.

And when I couldn’t have it, I didn’t want her to have one either.

Why is it that we do that?

When someone has something nice/fun/new why do we feel jealousy, why do we covet what they have? Why can’t we be genuinely happy for others and their blessings?!

I didn’t want Sarah to have something so wonderful, so one day when we were playing I stole a tea spoon. I hid it in my pocket and took it home with me. Stuffed under pairs of socks, it sat like a dirty little secret in my drawer.

It isn’t much fun to play with one spoon.

It really isn’t fun to play with one spoon that is a constant reminder of stealing…of a lie. I would take out that spoon and feel guilty. I knew that I should give it back. That Sarah wanted her full tea set together….that it wasn’t mine and I didn’t have any right to take it.

I honestly can’t remember if I returned the spoon or not. I hope that I did.

I have a feeling that I would have been the only likely “suspect” and maybe the truth came out…but if I didn’t, I want to apologize Sarah for taking that spoon!

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I was thinking about that story this morning as I was laying in bed. I am not sure what brought it to mind really but I find that as memories like this happen, I process them best at the keyboard.

I have been pretty silent here lately. There are some things that I do plan on writing about, but I am still working through them. Some ugly, icky parts of myself, and my past that God is healing and restoring.

It isn’t fun. Let’s be honest I am the type of person that would really like to skate around the difficult. I don’t like wading through the muck of my life. I want a quick fix to any and all faults/problems and I am finding again and again that God isn’t going to give me restoration on my time.

I am learning to savor the journey even if it means it is a slow, arduous process. (<====Click to Tweet)

If the end result is freedom from the things that are bondage in my life…well it is worth it.

One of the things that I want to find freedom in is this need to want what I don’t have.

It has been with me since I was young and started with the smallest of items, a tea spoon. It grew as I aged and became jealous of friends that had better, name brand clothes than I did. Maybe someone was smarter or prettier than I was. The cheerleader and the homecoming queen….I was never “enough”

As a wife and a mother I see all that you can do, and feel inadequate in my own family. I start to wish that I could go on the trips, or have the super romantic relationship with my husband that I see in other couples. Or the most well behaved children in church. 😉

It is never enough. What I have is just never enough. But the reality is that it IS enough.

I have more than I could ever hope or imagine. SO many blessings in my life. No it isn’t always easy…but they are blessings none the less.

And I don’t want to paint a picture of someone that I am not.

I don’t have it all together. My children will mess up, but heck so do I – ALL.THE.TIME! I am not the perfect women/mother/spouse and it is ok! Thank God for grace.

A part of this walking into freedom is recognizing that I am who God made me. Yes there are flaws and imperfections but there are beautiful things too.

I don’t know if jealousy or envy is something you have struggled with, but if it is you are not alone! Let’s do something together and stop comparing, stop coveting, and start giving thanks for the very place that God has each of us.

It is going to look different for you than it is me. Let’s embrace the difference, there is beauty in that! And let’s start walking out of bondage and into freedom.

One spoon at a time.

Photo Credit: partycja

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