Monthly Archives: March 2019

The God of Hope…

It has been a minute since I have written. I haven’t been diligent about taking the time to sit down and write when I need to. And while there is a large painting project waiting on me right now and cleaning and laundry that needs to be taken care of, there are times that I NEED to write and today is one of those times.

As few weeks ago I found an old CD of a recorded talk that I gave back in 2009. I was asked to speak at a conference and share my story, my experience, strength and hope. At the time Dominic and I were just days (9 to be exact) away from delivering our 3rd son Elijah. I have said it here before, but our marriage and our story is a reflection of the great work of God’s grace and mercy.

Listening to that CD, hearing some of the details that I did share….the things we could laugh about at that point. Knowing all of the things that were just to painful to vocalize, wondering again how we possibly survived. Our selfishness and self-centeredness was like a viscous beast in our home and it created rifts in the very fabric of our marriage. We should not have survived the trauma we inflicted on one another.

But God, in His great mercy rescued us. He sent people in our path that guided us back to Him. We learned to love again, to trust Him. And we learned how to trust one another. It is a miracle, our story. But when I hear myself in 2009 I realize how very child-like I still was in my faith. Believing that if we just did things the “right way” that God would reward us.

Seeing all the years of hurt between us as a punishment as sorts from God…here we were “behaving” so maybe God will answer our prayers the way we want, things won’t be difficult anymore. You know, life on easy street.

If you have been reading here any length of time you will know that our life since 2009 has been anything but easy street. There have been more challenges than I expected, heartbreak that I didn’t think I could bear, deep pits of depression and also (of course) many, many blessings.

And with each trial, each roadblock, each blessing…my faith grows. My hope in the God that has walked me through each moment increases. I know that God is faithful because I have seen His faithfulness time and time again. But can I be honest with you? I still struggle when things get hard! I still question God and ask Him why. Some days I yell and scream and beg Him to make it all better because the weight is too much to bear…

But the difference between the me pre-2009 and the me today is that I keep wrestling with this faith walk. I think more than not I am running towards God instead of running away. For many years I shut Him out of my life. I was angry and bitter and felt like He wasn’t listening to me anyways…so I stopped praying.

Today I don’t know any other response than TO run to Him. To cry out when it is too much, to sing praises when I am overwhelmed with gratitude for all He has done. To keep praying, over and over, even if it is the same prayer that I have said for 100 days in a row.

I helped lead worship today at church. I love to sing but leading terrifies me. My heart races every time and I feel a little sick. I was talking with a friend before the service and she knows this is an area of struggle for me and I shared with her something my best friend and I discussed in the past.

For us, no matter how often we lead (or speak) we feel overcome with nerves. We have prayed about it but it doesn’t get better. And we have both come to realize that maybe that is something we will always struggle with because it keeps us closer to God. Our natural prideful nature would get the best of us if we didn’t have to fully rely on God to get us through.

Today as we were singing No Longer Slaves, I looked out and saw Gail’s daughter Jazzi singing. If you want to read more about Gail and how she is recovering after her stroke you can read more at her CaringBridge site. Here was this young woman singing out “I’m no longer a slave to fear, I am a child of God” while her mom is slowly recovering from a life altering stroke. It was all I could do to stop myself from breaking down right there.

THAT is such a picture of faith isn’t it? Worshiping God in the midst of the biggest trial their family has faced. There have been days in the last 8 years where I have sat in church unable to sing. My heart was so overcome with fear and worry, or anger and sin that I had to sit in silence. But oh to be filled with HOPE from the God that gives us hope, to find JOY in worship and PEACE in His presence. Such a powerful gift that was for me today.

I don’t know where you are today. In the middle of a struggle, overwhelmed by fear, stuck in a cycle of despair? Can I encourage you to bring it all to the Father? I can’t promise that your situation will immediately change, but I can promise that as you continue to put your trust in a God that can redeem the broken, you will find Hope and Joy and Peace that only comes from fellowship with Him. Rest in that truth today.

That Time I Left Hobby Lobby Empty-Handed and other Musings

I wrote this post last week but then didn’t have an opportunity to share it…so I am doing it today. Since I am now in the final month of my discretionary spending freeze I thought I should recap a bit how February went!


Happy Friday friends! Can I just tell you how glad I am that it is Friday?! It feels like it has been another LONG week. Maybe it is the constant snow, or the unseasonably cold temps or the beautiful sunset pics my mom sent me from California….but I am longing for sunshine, warmer temps and some time away.

I shared last week that I was disappointed when plans that I wanted to make with Dominic to get away for even a weekend seemed to be falling through. Seeing people share their vacation pics and wallowing in my own self-pity about not being able to go anywhere is a dangerous place for someone like me.

It is so easy to get focused on what I don’t have, to miss ALL the blessings I do have. But even knowing this it is easy for me to get sucked into the desire to want to do something to make me feel better about my present situation.

I had to go to Sioux Falls yesterday for a Dr’s appointment and a hair appointment. I was supposed to see my Dr the month prior but a snowstorm forced me to reschedule. Thankfully I was able to make plans on the same day as my hair appointment and make a day trip out of it.

As a little side note can I just say that I adore my OB/GYN. Years ago, in an emergency situation, she saved my life (and my ability to have 3 more children) in a surgery when a large cyst on my ovary exploded and I bled internally for 8+ hours. She is someone that I fully trust. She comes into the exam room and sits down and says tell me all about your family, what’s happening with your business…she doesn’t rush through the appointment, she takes time to talk through any concerns and I couldn’t be more grateful for her.

Her exam revealed a small (likely not concerning, benign feeling) lump in one of my breasts. I had a mammogram in October and they didn’t find anything then, so hopefully it is nothing. We are going to do a recheck in 8 weeks and if it hasn’t changed (or it has) we will do further diagnostics as needed. I can’t even feel it myself, but it was a reminder to me why taking time to have an annual physical is so important. I am not allowing myself the head space to worry about this at this time…but rather am grateful that I made me and my physical health a priority.

So I share this to encourage you. If you need – make that annual appointment if you haven’t had one recently!

So I had about 2 1/2 hours in between my Dr’s appointment and my hair appointment. I only get to Sioux Falls about every 3 months, so I was excited to do a little running around…but very aware that I was still on my discretionary spending freeze.

I had voxed my best friend on the way to town. I had a few things that I was going to be looking for. Dominic and I had talked about it – we have this space on our bedroom wall above a dresser that needs some artwork and I wanted a couple of new throw blankets for the living room.

BUT I also knew how I was feeling inside. It has been almost 2 months. And after these past few weeks the “desire’ to spend was strong. I knew that I had been given the ok to look (and buy) something but I didn’t want to buy JUST to buy.

Hobby Lobby was my first stop and while I took a few pictures of things and sent them to Dominic, I just didn’t find anything that I absolutely LOVED. I ALWAYS find something at Hobby Lobby, but that day I just didn’t. I couldn’t believe it myself when I walked out the doors empty handed! The same thing happened at Home Goods and Kirklands.

And you know what? It felt good!

And the fact that your best friend gets it and celebrates with me…even better!

Next was a trip to Costco where admittedly I spent a pretty penny on a cart full of grocery items. I also bought a new pack of socks for both Dominic and I. But I stayed away from all the other things, the areas that held items that had a habit of jumping into my cart when I didn’t need them.

I continued my Excel tracking for the month of February and was again shocked at how much we spend on food. Apparently the amount we spend is fairly typical for a family our size. Buying fresher foods costs more. We rarely eat out, we have leftovers most days for lunch. I think overall, even though the amount is higher than I thought it would be, it is for something good for our family.

I am also tracking our clothing expenses, our medical expenses (which we had a bunch of in February with an ER visit, follow up appointment and a large dentist bill for the family), and all the “extras.” So I have a main spreadsheet with every expenditure, and then additional spreadsheets that track those specific items. Yes it is extra work but it helps me break it out and see it for what it is.

At the end of my tracking time I want to be able to see how much we spent on “extra” things. Things like books orders from school, school yearbooks, and a new rug for our living room that Dominic and I agreed together to blow the discretionary spending freeze and order for our living room. These are those items that IF I needed to cut something from our budget, these could be the first things that would go.

I was talking to Dominic yesterday about a purchase I was going to make for a couple of clothing items I needed to order for the kids. Everything was on a great sale, I have always tried to shop frugally. It felt silly calling him over to my desk to show him what I was going to order to “get his permission.” I have always done the shopping for everyone and overall I typically only buy for the kids when they need something.

But I had to remember that the reason I am walking through this season is because I built some really bad habits. I spent when I shouldn’t have, and worse…I hid things and was dishonest more often than I would care to admit. I told him that I was trying to build a new “muscle.” One that included more honesty and certainly more pause when it came to spending.

This month continued to be a challenge for me. I added items into a cart at Old Navy and Evy’s Tree only to later close and cancel those transactions before I made the purchases. I promise you, I can justify just about anything. I found the CUTEST casual dress at Old Navy and it was only $12! But it is WINTER here and right now I just don’t need it. And who knows if I would even still love it come summer! I can’t just buy something because I can, or because I want to feel better. This process has helped me slowly see that I need to turn those impulses over to God and ask Him to help refine me in the areas that I struggle.

And I don’t want to run right out on April 1st back into my old bad habits. I want this time to be transformative, I am praying that God will continue to change me and am grateful for all that I have learned in the process!

Lord, Empty Me of Me…

It has been a long winter. And everyone in the Midwest shouted AMEN! More than just the snow and wind, the frigid temps and the missing days of school, this winter season that began with this new year has been a hard one for me.

I said it before, I knew that choosing to embark on a discretionary spending freeze was going to challenge me but I was hoping that the rest of life wouldn’t also follow suit. I was wrong. The year started with a difficult phone call and a reminder that nothing is certain. We walked into the next few weeks and faced computer and software transition challenges that just about drove me to drink, and I am NOT a drinker…so just know it was BAD.

We have had 6 or 7…maybe 8 full days of no school, plus multiple early outs and late starts. Our kids don’t know what it looks like to attend school for a full week anymore. It has affected their attitudes and parenting has quite frankly been a challenge.

We had 3 of us down with Influenza A, which included a very unfortunate visit to our local ER at 3:30am one morning. It was a rough two weeks and one that I hope we don’t have to revisit anytime soon.

And honestly, I have found myself in a repetitive state of discontentment.

I don’t like admitting that because it makes me sound ungrateful and whiny. And I am. I know it. Recently one of our own friends and church member suffered a stroke after a routine surgery and a brain tumor was found. Her future is uncertain and I believe she is only 50…maybe 49. The heaviness of her situation and her family’s has weighed on me for over a week and I feel guilty for even complaining about the petty issues that I have been dealing with.

But I still find myself there. In that icky place where I know my heart needs some serious work. It is easy to become indifferent though. To stay in this place of discontentment, to allow myself to continue to focus on the negative and see where it takes me.

I know where that kind of thinking takes me and it isn’t healthy or safe. My pride is my own worst enemy, my unwillingness to take responsibility for my negative thinking can and will lead me to a place that is harmful for anyone around me. I don’t want to walk through life with a scowl on my face…apparently that has been common on me as of late.

Lent begins on Wednesday and so it seems fitting that I take the next 40 days to spend some serious time in prayer over my heart. To ask God to empty me of those things that aren’t of Him, those things that can’t and won’t bring Him glory and to fill me with His presence.

I have read the Circle Maker by Mark Batterson a couple of times and in that book he talks about circling something in prayer for 40 days. So I am going to do that. I am going to fervently pray over my attitude, my marriage and my family. And I am going to pray that God would do a work in me during that time.

I know that when we step out in faith and make a declaration that we are going to do something like this that the enemy attacks seem to amp up. At least that is what seems to happen in my own life. It is scary really, to anticipate what might come at me in the next 40 days but I know that this commitment to communion with God in this way is needed and necessary….so I am going to trust that He will give me the strength to walk this journey.

I don’t know about you, but when I find myself at that place where something HAS to change…it is time. And that time is now. I would covet your prayers during this season and if you want to join me in prayer over this next 40 days would you leave a comment below and I will be praying for protection for you as well.

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