Rising to the challenge

We had a heck of an evening.  One of those disaster after disaster days when you question whether or not you have done anything right as a mother.   

After several minor sibling problems and other behavior issues brewing amongst several of our children.  Our daughter especially presented us with quite the challenge as her preteen attitiude took rude and disrespectful to an entirely new level.  There have been moments of this attitude here and there but this evening her attitude exploded and crossed many lines.

I will not go into all of the details but reached a point a line was crossed and enough was enough.  It was not quite 6 pm when this situation peaked.  As an immediate consequence her youth activities at church were taken away and she was sent to bed without dinner.  And to bed without being allowed to complete her homework for the evening.  If you know Emily you know that not being allowed to do her homework is devastating.  

All this being done with discussion and further consequences to be given tomorrow.  These are the moments when parenting is at its hardest and most challenging.  Respond don’t react.  Don’t overreact.  I am human, I struggle in the heat of the moment with this concept, but today this situation I kept it together.  Calm face, no raised voices. Success, no yelling or arguing she put herself to bed.  Deep breath and I have time to collect my thoughts and prepare to sit down and discuss this with her tomorrow.  

Several hours later after I chopped up some fresh veggies for salad I slipped into Emily’s room to slip the carrot peels and lettuce heads to her bunnies.  I startled her out of her sleep as I was slipping back out of the room.  Half asleep, eyes closed and she says quietly to me “Mom I love you”.  That’s it, drifts back off to sleep.  

No pleading for getting up out of bed, no justifying her behavior, no apologizing, begging, arguing, just a sweet simple ‘mom I love you’.  

This is the first thought she had when she woke up.  Not angry with me for holding her accountable.  Not trying to get out of consequences.  Just that she loves me.  Oh despite her many flaws I love this girl’s heart.  This sweet heart melting moment does not change her consequences the following day.  She is still held accountable for her words, actions and behaviors.  


But as I lay drifting off to sleep I wonder what if that’s how I responded to God.  When I am dealing with the consequences of my own sin, facing the mess I have created trying to do things in my own strength and not turning to God.  Instead of rationalizing, justifying, complaining and worrying about the discussions of tomorrow.   To just stop and rest and tell the Lord I love Him.  Laying in bed after a day of trials and storms and just say “God I love You.”  How peaceful, simple.  

“And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them.”  ‭‭1 John‬ ‭4:16‬ ‭


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Capturing the WINS!

Being a mother is one of life’s greatest blessings and I am so grateful to be on this journey. However some days are harder than others, some moments bring heavier challenges. There are days as a parent it feels like one defeat after another with an overwhelming blanket of failure closing in. The day when everything little thing seems to be going wrong, all of the kids are having a rough day and it all bubbles into one disaster filled day. The day that you know the sun is there hiding behind the clouds but you cannot see it or feel it. I don’t think I am alone, I am pretty sure that any parent can relate to what kind of day this is, thankfully these days are few and far between.

‘Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds.’ James 1:2

Sometimes it may not be the whole day but just parts of a day that weigh down and burden you with feeling like you have failed in some way and it feels like the sunshine is a million miles away instead of just behind the clouds.

‘He will yet fill your mouth with laughter and your lips with shouts of joy.’ Job 8:21

To help stay focused on the positive and keep me to be more aware and sensitive to God’s blessing in my life I have been capturing the wins each day. This has helped to break through the clouds and see the sunshine even on the more difficult challenging days. Some days I am not as good with this, I fall to the negative feelings of defeat.

But overall capturing the wins has really been encouraging and quite rewarding.  For several months in my journal I have a space everyday for writing down my ‘WINS’. So as I go through my day I am making a conscious effort of looking for the positive things and then writing them down. Some days I am able to find more wins than others. Some days I struggle to find the wins however I am always able  find something positive to write down.  This has helped keep my heart and mind focused on seeing God’s blessings in my life, small and big.

Some days my wins are as simple as ‘5 minutes of uninterrupted bathroom time’.

A beautiful sunrise on the way in the morning.  

The way our youngest snuggles in my lap to play.

God’s forgiveness.

Sweet note from my loving husband.

As I have been capturing these positive moments and details of my life it has been most rewarding to go back and read the wins from weeks and months ago. My heart and mind are filled with these precious moments in time. Capturing my wins as turned out to be wonderful rays of sunshine in the stormy days.

‘Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth.’ Psalm 100:1

‘You turned my wailing into dancing; you removed my sackcloth and clothed me with joy.’ Psalm 30:11

‘When anxiety was great within me, your consolation brought me joy.’ Psalm 94:19

Heavenly Father,

I pray to keep my eyes focused on You.  I pray our marriage, our family, our home will keep You in the center of everything.  I pray for your will to be done in our lives, I pray to glorify You especially in our trials and struggles.  Help me to focus on the big and the small blessings in our lives.  I pray to keep my eyes and my heart open to Your blessings and the good being built within our family and home and to not dwell on the negatives or the struggles.  I am human and I make mistakes and fall short all the time, I pray to learn from my mistakes to grow stronger because of them.  I pray for direction and guidance.  Please Father give me courage and strength to be the wife and mother You have created me to be.  Thank you for my family, for blessing me with an amazing husband, for blessing me with the awesome adventure of being a mother.  ~~~In Jesus name, AMEN

Ready set go

When I take a moment and look at our family from the outside looking in I find it somewhat overwhelming.  I would imagine that some would say we are just plain crazy for all we take on.  Two full time working parents, 6 kids, our family is active in our church, our kids do extracurricular activities- one per child,  exercise regularly and in our downtime always finding adventures and outings for the kids.  Frequently I will be asked or hear the comment “just how do you do it all?”.  My response is simple, we don’t do it, we are not capable of doing it on our own, we are not made to do anything on our own, God give us the strength to push through and persevere during this season of busy, at times chaotic, our season of READY-SET-GO.

My strength comes from the Lord……Philippians 4:13


 This is our season of busy and I realize this is a brief fleeting moment in our lives and one day will be gone and we just may miss the busy.   I am making an honest and conscious effort each day to not get frustrated or annoyed with the small insignificant details and truly appreciating each moment as a gift on God in this challenging and wonderful journey of parenthood.  This can be a struggle for me as I tend to be a perfectionist and lean towards the OCD side of the spectrum, I while I am not always successful in these efforts however with God’s wisdom and guidance I am aware and I am improving.  

If we don’t take it moment by moment and enjoy it for what it is, will blink our eyes and one day it will be gone.  
As these hours, day, weeks and months are slipping by so quickly yet the are so incredibly important in the molding defining and shaping of our children into the young adults they will become.  Of course the most important and vital element in them growing up is their salvation, growing to truly know Christ as their Lord and Savior.  The most vital aspect for us as parents is to live the example. 

You cannot teach your children to live a life for Christ when your are not living yours for Christ. 

Wow!  This truth and realization cuts me deep and convicts me to my core.  This makes me really question and evaluate myself.  When my kids see me and how I am living do they see joy in all circumstances?  Not likely.  Do they see a patient and kind spirit?  Sometimes, in all honesty not as they see see an impatient spirit.

Galatians 5:22-23 ‘ but the fruit of the spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.’

We cannot expect our children to learn to live in a way that we are not able to.  For example look at healthy eating, we can teach our kids day in and day out what healthy choices are, what they should be eating and how that should be exercising however we lose credibility when we eat junk and sit on the couch.  It does not matter what words come out of our mouths if our actions do not match them.

John A. Younts writes this in his book titled “Everyday Talk.”  “Parents, God has given you a mission to make Him known in every corner of life. To pursue this mission takes great courage. As you walk along life’s road with your children, you must literally deny yourself in order to speak first about God and how He views this world. When your child hears and learns about God this way he will indeed be clothed with honor and crowned with grace.”  I love this perspective, as parents raising our children to know God we must deny ourselves.

 

I can look back and see how far God has brought me already in the last few years, God has transformed my heart and my life in many ways already.  I am so amazingly thankful to God and all He has done and for always being faithful and patient and loving with me.  So as I self-reflect on my many areas of weakness in my living the example of Christ for our children I turn to God for wisdom, guidance and direction to grow into the mother and woman He created me to be.  

Psalm 106:1 ‘Praise the Lord. Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good; His love endures forever.’

Lord, thank You so much for the great honor and blessing of being a mother.  I know that in the moments of busy I do not always handle my words, emotions, or actions the way You would. I fall short every single day.  I reach out to You and pray for continued strength, wisdom, discipline and guidance to continue to grow and transform into a godly mother and an example to our children to love You and live my life for You bringing You glory in all I do.  You have blessed me and my family abundantly, thank You for Your many blessings thank You for the greatest blessing of all Your son dying for our transgressions so that we may have eternal life with You Lord.  Thank You for loving me and our children, I pray they see and feel Your love through me in all circumstances.

In Jesus name ~Amen.

Ready or NOT

Ready or not as this upcoming school year is on the brink of beginning and there are many big things happening this year and I am SO NOT READY!!!  But ready or not it is happening. 

In a way I feel like I have blinked my eyes and the last 13 years have flown by. 

 Our oldest is 13 years old and starting this school year as an 8th grader.  I can close my eyes and see him as a sweet fresh born baby, it was with him I entered this incredible journey of motherhood and my life was forever better.    Such bittersweet desires as part of me longs to keep them babies, small, cuddly and needy while the other part is so happy and excited to see these wonderful and unique people they are each growing into.  My heart aches and smiles at the same time.  

This evening sitting on the floor with our youngest who is 14 months and requires very close attention as he cruises and crawls into all kinds of potentially dangerous situations, I caught and stopped myself from being a little frustrated that I couldn’t be working on my to do this exactly at this moment.  My mind is going a million miles a minute of all the last minute things I need to do to be ready for everyone’s 1st day of school and another very busy week but then I realized I’m going to blink my eyes and this one is going to be heading off to 8th before I am ready.


Only one more year until our oldest is going into high school, less than 3 years until he drives and five more to college!  This year we also have one taking another big step and going into kindergarten.  Feels like yesterday he was crab crawling along the floor and tomorrow he is putting on his first real book bag and walking into his kindergarten class to start the next part of his journey.

I am SO NOT READY!!

There is some good news though, I don’t have to be ready.  Because God’s ready, He is in control and all this is under His power and will.  He will prepare me, lead me and guide me.  When I need strength He will strengthen me, when I need wisdom He will give me knowledge.  I do not have enough strength on my own, I am certainly not wise or courageous enough on my own, I need God to equip me and lead me as a mother, woman and wife.  

“You make known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand.”

‭‭Psalm‬ ‭16:11‬ ‭

I must trust God as I let go of each child off to start their new school year.  He is big and mighty and He will protect them and surround them.  I must cover them in prayer-daily.  I must lead by example and show them what it looks like to live a christian, imperfect making mistakes trusting in our Savior and fully relying God life.  God is big, sovereign, mighty and wonderful.  As hard as it is to believe He loves our children more than we do and He is in control and He is ready when I am not!

“And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.”

‭‭Colossians‬ ‭3:17‬ ‭

Heavenly Father,

Thank You so so so much for the privilege, blessing and honor of being a mother.  This is the single most challenging and most rewarding job I will ever have and I am so grateful that You created me to be a mother.  Some moments and some days are harder(borderline impossible) but worth every bit of it.  God please surround each one of our children this school year.  I pray that their influences are good and godly but if they do encounter a difficult or ungodly friend or situation that they are equipped and strong enough to do what is right and honor You.  I pray that they are successful academically.  Please give them courage, strength and motivation to study and persevere into the young people You desire and created them to be.  I pray that they can be a light in this dark world and that in their own way they can shine Your light and love to those around them.  

Father please continue to equip in my motherhood journey.  I pray I continue to treasure each moment and stage as they grow into these incredibly and wonderfully made young people.  Give me discernment, courage, strength, humility and wisdom to show our children Your love and that they grow to serve You and love You.  Father thank You for each child as they are each a gift and blessing from You.

In Jesus name Amen.

—>It’s complicated <—

Being a parent is basically hard, challenging and just out right impossible at times.  Being tasked with the responsibility of being a mom is quite possibly the most difficult task I will be given in this life.  Children unfortunately don’t come with step by step instruction manuals.  There’s parenting advice galore out there especially these days with all of our social media, good advice and bad advice everywhere you turn and filtering this advice that comes at you from all directions.

 

As I sit back and look at how much goes into being a parent and just how much responsibility lays in our role it is quite overwhelming.  Then top off all the basic parenting tasks and add on the extra element of being part of a blended family or single parent role to the mix and you have taken complicated to a whole new level!  Co-parenting is difficult and intense with a cooperative parent that has the same belief and values.  Unfortunately more times than not the co-parent will not being any of those things and makes being a parent 10 times more complicated and challenging.


 

I feel like my husband and I are constantly scrambling and searching for this fine line to walk—-> raising them in this world and teaching them how to not be part of this world.   As much as I long to put my kids in a bubble and protect and shelter them from everything, it is just not possible to shelter them completely and protect them from all the evil and ungodly influences of this world.  And even if it were possible that would place them at a huge disadvantage to be sheltered in that way.  So you need to allow them to be in the world at the same time keeping them from becoming part of the world at the same time you are leading them to know Christ.

 

I was deep in thought pondering this daily dilemma earlier while running away taking out my frustrations on the treadmill at the gym.  This happened to be a family gym day and we had our crew of kids with is at the gym today.  Today is one of those days it was a struggle to get some of them to come to the gym. A little bit of whining about not wanting to go, questioned on why do they have to be dragged to the gym to exercise.  I find this battle quite frustrating and feel like it’s a losing battle most of the time. We have our good days when they come to the gym willingly and put forth good effort and leave the gym smiling after enjoying their workout asking when we are coming back.  But then we have the bad days when it’s struggle, and it is on those bad days that I am so tempted to give up and tell them fine just to stay home while my husband I get in a good uninterrupted work out without distraction.  But giving up is not the answer.

We certainly cannot force them to want to exercise and most definitely cannot force them to enjoy it.    This really leaves us with one option; what we can do is continue to bring them and set the example, lead them and teach them by showing them how it’s done.  We can simply show them that we enjoy exercising and being healthy and let them see the positive results from this. Then praying that the example you set takes hold and one day they can recognize the importance of exercise and maintaining the health of their body.

We can face our children’s salvation in the same manner.  The best we can do is be a good witness, to set the example for them, show them how to live a life for Christ, pray for them to be saved and LET GO, get out of the way and allow God to handle the rest.  Put down on paper it sounds so stinking simple…

Not so simple though, not for me anyway.  I struggle each and everyday and fail in many ways in my witness to our children.  I get so frustrated when I fail, I have really good intentions but am human and frequently fall short.  One of my biggest downfalls is not being joyful in all circumstances, letting my emotions and circumstances of the moment control my words, actions, facial expressions and moods.  I am working at this, slowly giving it over completely to the Lord and I am His work in progress, some days I do better, but each day a step in the right direction.


 

“Come follow me” Jesus said, “and I will send you out to fish for people”  At once they left their nets and followed him. —Matthew 4:19-20


  
I don’t want our kids to make the same mistakes I made.  I don’t want them to know God in their mind but not truly know Him in their heart, I don’t want them to be consumed by this fallen world and slipping into the darkness before living in the Lord’s light.  So with each day I will continue working on allowing God to strengthen and mold me into the mother and wife He created me to be and let my witness and example be what our children need to come to know Jesus. And I will fight for them on my knees in PRAYER…..


 

Heavenly Father above, please guide me and give me strength and courage at a mother and a stepmother.  I pray my witness will be true and bold.  I pray that our children will be able to look to me and see You, that I will let Your love shine in all areas of our life, I pray for a joyful heart even on the trying days when I want to be short tempered and rude, please soften my heart and strengthen my spirit to let go and let You take over.  Lord You know my heart and the areas that I truly need to surrender and allow You to take over, please God take all of me and let me be the woman, mother and wife You intended me to be, I pray to have the courage to chose Your way over everything else in this fallen world.  God thank You for the honor, privilege and responsibility of being a mother, our children are truly a blessing directly from You, let me never take this for granted and always treasure being a parent even during the difficult moments, let me praise You and bring You Glory.

In Jesus Name- AMEN


Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstance, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus   1Thessalonians 5:16-18 

Because I SAID SO!

  
When I was little and my mom said those dreaded words “because I said so”! I vowed to myself that when I was a parent that I would never use those words with my kids. Yet here I am 12 years into this parenting job and sure enough there have been those times when in the heat of the moment those words I hated so much have come flying out of my mouth to my own kids! As much as I hate that I have done this I now truly realize, understand and appreciate just why my mom used this phrase at times with me and my brothers. There is not always a reason other than I am the parent and you are my child and I know what is best for you. I am not in any way required to provide an explanation or reasoning to my children when I have instructed them, I am their mother and ultimately will determine what is in the best interest of my children whether they like it or not…..so with that being said the only reasonable way to say this is especially in the heat of the moment is none other than, “because I SAID SO!”.  
So as I sit here I cast my eyes up towards God with an open heart and reflect on a few things. Our Heavenly Father has given us very clear instructions on how we are suppose to live our lives and glorify Him. He is so wonderful and has such love for us that He cares so much that He even gives us clear reasons to following His direction.  

He tells us to love others because He first loved us.
o Romans 12:10, Ephesians 5:1-2, 1 John 4:19

Forgive each other as He has forgiven us through the sacrifice of His Son, Jesus.
o John 3:16, Matthew 6:14-15, Ephesians 4:2

Do not be afraid, be strong God is ALWAYS with you.
o Joshua 1:9, Isaiah 41:10

Do not worry, pray and give thanks, God will always answer
o Phil 4:6, 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

Trust in God, He is ALWAYS faithful
o John 15:7-8, Romans 8:28

Our lives our covered by God’s promises, love, mercy and grace, He guides us and gives us direction, He is true and loving and forgiving and He is ALWAYS ALWAYS with us. We are so sinful and selfish in all that we do. Look at our fallen world, how bad things have gotten, how everything in our society is so quickly becoming evil and depraved and it is happening SO FAST! Yet He is here with us in all this, how comforting is that,

HE IS HERE WITH US IN ALL THIS! 

All we need to do is sit back and let Him love us and protect us, all we need to do is love Him and obey Him joyfully. It sounds so easily when I put the words down here, yet I fail at this every day, every hour, every minute of every day- shamefully I fail God in some way but He still loves me and will never leave me. That is awesome and humbling. 

I am guilty of not obeying God, I am like my 3 year old kicking and screaming on the floor crying out in disobedience, over and over I throw tantrums and come up with excuses and am led by my own selfish and sinful desires and heart. 

This is why I need Jesus as my savior, I am guilty, He died for my sins and yours, He gave himself freely and with unconditional love so that I can be forgiven. Thank You Lord for sending Your Son.
I will do what I can to grow and to walk closer to God, grow in my relationship with Him, become more obedient to Him not because it is what I am SUPPOSE to do but because I desire to please Him, glorify Him in how I live my life, let myself be an example of His love, mercy and grace a little more with each breath, each moment and each day. Lord please give me strength, courage and wisdom to grow closer to You, mold me into the woman, mother and wife You created me to be. 
God does not need a “because I said so”, He has so given us so much more, He has given us His Son, His word in the Bible to direct us.

“This, then, is how you should pray: “ ‘Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one. ’ 

Matthew‬ ‭6:9-15‬ ‭NIV‬‬

Remembering Queen G

Last week while driving through the peaceful countryside of Mathews County I spotted a beautiful Blue Heron hanging out on the side of the road.  Everytime a bird catches my attention especially one I can identify my mind wanders and reflects treasured memories of my grandmother and grandfather.  It was during very special time with my grandparents that they taught me to identify and appreciate birds.

“She speaks with wisdom, and faithful instruction is on her tongue.”  Proverbs‬ ‭31:26‬ ‭

Hazel, mom, grandma, gamla, known by many different names but she was one very remarkable and wonderful woman.  She certainly was Queen of our little family and we all loved and treasured her dearly.  Very sadly my grandmother passed away just over a month ago, I am taking a few moments to reflect, reminisce and honor this very special woman today.  There is nothing that can be said or done to make losing a loved one any easier or less painful but I do take great comfort in knowing my grandmother loved the Lord and has been called Home to be with Him in paradise and has been reunited with our beloved grandfather.  

“Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.”  ‭‭Proverbs‬ ‭31:30‬ ‭

 

I would not be who I am today without my grandmother.   She lived a full, wonderful and long life, she was 91 years old when God called her home. She did experience heartbreak and tragedy in her life that no one should ever have to experience however she never let circumstances dictate or define her.    My grandfather was her highschool sweetheart and they were faithfully and happily married for over 60 years and she had to say goodbye and bury him a few years ago.   My grandmother faced challenges of fulfilling the role of working mother of 4 children, one of the first in her time to brave this the task of being a working mother.  When we lost my Uncle John a few years after we lost my grandfather she had to experience the pain of burying her youngest child.  Yet she always stood strong and was quite determined, some may even go as far as to call her stubborn. (Which my husband would tell you is something I inherited from her 😉

   
I truly am blessed for having such an amazing grandmother.  She helped me become who I am today in so many ways. I have always looked up to her and will always treasure my memories of her.  I will continue to be reminded of her and my grandfather in little parts of everyday life.  I will continue to talk about my grandparents and show and display their photos and keep their memories alive in my children as well.  

 

What an amazing testimony my grandmother left behind, the last words she spoke were to my brother before she went to sleep, she said “God has been good to me”.  She went to sleep and never woke up.  So peaceful and without suffering she left this world and into the arms of Our Heavenly Father, in her last moments she gave glory to God.  Everytime I think about how AWESOME this is I am so humbled and inspired.  

“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”  ‭‭John‬ ‭3:16‬ 

 

“Thank You Lord for blessing me with such an amazing grandmother.  I am so thankful to have had her as part of my life, blessed by her love and influence in my life.  My family and my heart are hurting as we feel the loss of this incredible woman we loved and cherished so much.  Please cover my family in healing and comfort during this time grieving. Amen.”