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Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Diets and Dog Poo - Foodaholics Anonymous?

So... a recovering alcoholic would never be expected to serve cocktails to their family, right?  As I melted the beautiful Velveeta and Rotel for nachos for my family it really sunk in that I am addicted to food - BIG TIME!  Food is my drug.  I stirred the thick, creamy, cheesy, glorious mess  and I looked at the big bag of crunchy, salty tortilla chips (one of my most favorites, by-the-way!!!) and then I looked at my small piece of grilled fish and I just wanted to quit!!!  And, usually I would have.  I would have said to myself, "Oh, well.  Just eat nachos tonight.  You can start over tomorrow!"  And in full binge mode (because, after all, if you are going to mess up, you might as well do it up BIG!) I would have gorged myself with nachos, had some sweet tea, and followed up with some of those evil cake balls that are still in the fridge!  (Could someone finish those off already???)
I knew that I loved food.  But, doing this diet is showing me just how unhealthy my relationship with food really is!  I have yet to be truly, physically hungry!  But, mentally is a different story.  I want to eat just for the sheer joy of eating.  It's ridiculous the number of times a day I think about eating!  And, finally it is sinking in - even though I've known it all along on some level - I can't eat like this anymore!  I'm on a diet, but I can't have the mentality that "after this" I can eat again!  I can't eat popcorn every night.  I can't give in to temptation every single time it jumps in front of me.  I can't have a cake ball anytime I want to and drink pop several times a week.  Some people can.  But, obviously my body doesn't work that way!  I think I should be able to indulge every so often, sure!  But, I'm going to have to be careful for the rest of my life!  Just like an alcoholic has to be careful!  I am truly addicted to eating.  So, maybe eventually, after I detox my body from the sugar and processed foods and empty carbs, I will be able to have a delicious treat now and then and not totally fall back in to my old patterns.  I've got to realize that food is fuel and my body is a temple.
I stirred that creamy yellow deliciousness and I did have a little tiny taste of it.  But, I did not grab the tortilla chips and dig in!  I ate my fish and my salad.  And I actually splurged on some broccoli with a tiny bit of that cheese on it.  (You know you are on a crazy, strict diet when broccoli is cheating!!!)  And, it was so hard to resist.  But, I did it!!!  And, God help me (literally, God is going to have to help me!!), I will beat this and I will lose this weight and feel good about myself again!
Motivation for today:  I got on the scales this morning and and there was a 5 pound loss from yesterday morning!  I'm sure a lot of that was water weight, but still... WOW!

Monday, December 27, 2010

Diets and Dog Poo - I Kinda Want a Cake Ball

So, I am doing the Homeopathic HcG diet via Kessinger Diagnostic Centre out of Rolla, MO.  A friend of mine had really great results and told me about it.  The first three days of this diet are great!  You take the drops four times a day and PIG OUT for 3 days straight.  It worked perfectly with Christmas!  I started on Christmas Eve.  The only thing was:  the drops really do suppress your appetite!  I actually found it hard to overeat!
Now, though, the fun is over.  It is day one of the drastic diet that includes only 500 calories a day!  Yes, that sounds insane, but the research kind of makes sense.  (http://hcgdietinfo.com/HCG_Diet_Dr_Simeons_Manuscript.htm)  Anyway, this morning was okay.  I didn't eat breakfast, which is fine with me because I'm not a big breakfast eater.  I had my two cups of coffee sweetened with Stevia, which I found to be pretty good!  Mid-morning I had an apple and it was actually hard for me to finish the whole thing!  Crazy! Because I am a notorious binger!!  I tried to get through the whole thing and finally quit about 3/4 of the way through.  However, as lunch approached I did get hungry.  And, while I was cooking my tiny chicken breast, I opened the fridge to get the lettuce out and there they were....
German Chocolate cake balls!  Mmmmm.  Nice and cold, too.  Do you know what a cake ball is?  You bake a cake, crumble it up, mix icing with it, roll it in to balls, and dip the balls of cake/icing in to confectioners chocolate and let them harden.  Oh. My. Goodness!  They are good.  And, I really, really wanted one!
However, I got out my lettuce instead.  I had my lunch of dry (cooked it too long!) sparsely seasoned chicken breast and salad (Not with ranch and cheese and croutons.  No.  Not that kind of salad.)  I'm not going to tell you it was awesome and I'm totally satisfied.  But, I think I can face the cake balls now.  After all, I am bigger than they are... MUCH, MUCH, MUCH bigger!  Which is kind of the whole point of this!  HA!!

Diets and Dog Poo - Introduction

This is my latest blog sequence about two seemingly unrelated issues in my life... My new diet and bringing our 10 month old lab to live inside...  It should be interesting.


Ruth.  Ruth is our Labrador Retriever.  (My dad has her sister, "Babe.")  I felt like a lab was a good choice.  They are super smart and great with kids - very social animals.  What I didn't know is that they are virtually unfenceable!  (I made that word up.)  She could not be contained with an electric fence.  When in my small fenced in daycare play area, she dug out from underneath finally and then dug in to the neighbor's yard to play with their dogs.  So, for weeks she's been in a little kennel built for hunting hounds.  I hate the idea of her being out there all alone, so the obvious solution is to bring her inside, right?  This should be interesting....


Dieting... again.  So... since High School I have gained about 70 lbs.  It's so hard to say that out loud.  I have a really bad relationship with food and have put myself on the back burner for years.  And, over and over again I have set out to lose the weight only to quit a few days in, vowing to start over Monday... and then Tuesday always comes around and... you get the picture.  This time I'm trying the HcG diet.  (The homeopathic drops)  I thought this diet was CRAZY!  I was like, "Sure you lose weight if you're eating around 500 calories a day.  That's ridiculous!"  But, the more I've researched the way it's supposed to work the more it makes sense to me.  So, I'm trying it.  And, to those of you nay sayers who say that it is unhealthy.  You could be right.  However, it can't possibly be more unhealthy than my current lifestyle.  And, this isn't just about a diet.  It's about breaking bad habits and starting a brand new way of life for me!


And that's how the two very unrelated subjects tie in together.  I am making some changes in my life.  Starting some new "good for me" things.  I'm taking a little more time for me.  And, apparently a little more time for Ruth, too.  Hopefully this goes well for both of us!  All I have to say, though, is that big ol' Labs leave much bigger presents than little lap dogs.  Whew.  That's a story for the next installment of.... dun, dun, duuuh.... DIETS AND DOG POO! 

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Someday (A poem)

Photo Courtesy of: Mecie Gauntt Photography

Someday we'll be old,
And won't these days seem grand?
Someday I'll be feeble,
But I know you'll hold my hand.
Someday we'll get old -
Our bones will barely walk.
Someday our house will be quiet,
And, of these times we'll talk!
Someday we'll be old,
But I'll remember this.
Remember loud and busy times.
Remember many a sticky kiss.
Remember messy bedrooms,
And shoes in the floor.
Remember little running feet,
And crayon marks on the door.
Someday our bed will be so big
without a little one in between.
Someday we'll wish they were here -
The house will be clean.
Someday you'll be gone.
And someday so will I.
And someday will be here...
In the blink of an eye.


By: Christin Bolinger
December 16, 2010

(I had this picture and the poem put on a canvas for my hubby for Christmas.)  *Please respect that this is an original poem*

Sunday, December 12, 2010

It is finished...

*deeeeeeeeeeeeep breath* Ahhhhhhhhh.  I am bordering on GIDDY!  3 years after I started back to school full time (including Summers!) and I am finally finished.  I know it's been 12+ years since I first started my college career, but I am pretty darn proud of myself for doing this.  I started in January, 2008.  At this point I had a full time job, 2 children, and had been married for a little less than a year to my husband.  At the end of my first semester, I found out I was pregnant.  We had planned to have another child, but AFTER I was finished with school.  We were living in a 2 bedroom trailer at the time because it was on his family's "farm" and we weren't having to pay any rent.  So... the plan was for me to finish school, us to buy a house, and then add to our family.  (My first two children were from a previous marriage.)  So, our little surprise didn't really fit in to the plan.  Especially since I had waited to start back to school full time until my children were a little older.  Now I was going to have a newborn!  I was not going to quit, though!  So, I pushed through, and thank God my last class was online that Fall because I was put on bed rest.  My sweet baby girl had to be induced 3 weeks early due to my extremely high blood pressure (pretty standard for my pregnancies).  This was a blessing in disguise because my classes started back just  a few days after her original due date.  So, with a 3 week old newborn at home I went to my first evening class, leaving her with Daddy and my mother-in-law.  I told my husband that there was no possible way I could work full time, go to school full time, and have a newborn.  We decided either school or work had to go and we also decided that me finishing school was more important.  So, after a lot of tears (I happened to love my job and had worked pretty hard to get to the position I was in there) I made the decision to leave my job and after a few months we decided we had outgrown our little trailer.  (We had actually about outgrown it before the baby came!!)  So, God intervened again and allowed us to buy my former boss's house, which was right next door to my brother-in-law.  The price was right and the location was perfect.  Also, little did I know, the set up of the house was perfect for the home daycare I was opening!  We just couldn't afford a house without 2 incomes, so my solution to staying at home with the baby so I could still go to school was to work at home.  (See my other blog: Chronicles of a Happy, Blessed Mess)  This proved to me a much larger undertaking than I imagined, but very rewarding.  While I did get to stay at home with my kids FINALLY (it was huge dream of mine!), I sure didn't have any extra time for homework!  With between 4 and 7 kids at the house there is not time for homework and I put in a good 10-12 hour day most days.  I actually could have graduated in May of this year had I really loaded myself down in the spring and taken one more class in the Summer.  Instead, I decided to give myself a break, take the Summer off and finish out in the Fall.  This last semester has proven to be the largest workload and most stressful of all!!  I had told myself that December was my goal for graduation, weight loss and some life changes I needed to make.  However, I caved under all the stress and none of those other things were accomplished.  And, actually, under all the stress, I completely forgot to apply for graduation in time!  So.... I just think God granted me an extension on my goals.  I will graduate officially in May.

So.  Now that I can breathe deeply again for what seems like the first time in almost 3 years, I feel like I'll have plenty of energy to spend on my poor house, my poor family, and my poor body until May!!  I am thinking of a 19 year old girl. I allude to her a lot in my blogs because she is so much a part of me!  She had to quit school, move away from all her friends, live in a college town with old classmates saying bad things about her behind her back (which got back to her, as those things usually do!) while they went on with their lives in college, doing what normal 19-20 year olds do.  She thought in the back of her mind that she might not ever finish school.  (You see, she was pretty beat down and had lost a lot of self esteem)  She started growing up and she spent all her time on her babies and became a single mom and there was never time for her and there was never time for school.  But, now, this 30 year old is looking back at her and smiling.  And, I'd just like to say, "Hey, girl!  Look at us.  We made it, you and me.  I always knew we could.  Let's see what next!"

;-)  *tear*  (but, it's a happy one!)

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Christmas card 2 2010

Lovingly Wrapped American Lung Association Holiday 5x7 folded card
Christmas cards and holiday thank you cards by Shutterfly.
View the entire collection of cards.

Friday, December 3, 2010

He takes my breath away...

Noticed it when we were dating. I found myself literally unable to catch my breath at times. I felt silly having to pull away from him and take a deep breath in the middle of a passionate kiss. To this day, after years, it's still hard to breathe through that first embrace or kiss...

But, give a little while in his arms, and I'm breathing easier than ever. Relaxed, safe, embraced - home... *Sigh*




Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Daddy's Girl

     For 9 grueling months (ok, sorry, I'm not a "I love being pregnant" kind of girl!!) I carried her in my body.  I threw up, dropped down to one cup of coffee a day, turned down even Tylenol for headaches, added to my already awesome collection of stretch marks and endured months of bed rest.  I went through hours and hours of some of the worst pain in my life for her.  And, even after she was out of my body, my body was still her's for almost a year and a half.  I nursed her, held her, missed showers for her, held my bladder until it was convenient for her, and slept only when she allowed it.  When her diaper is dirty, it's me that changes it.  When she needs a bath, I am the one to wash her - including her hair which has become a screaming battle every time.  When she gets shots, for the 10 + strep throat tests she's had, and for all the yucky medicine.... I have held her down.  Dad likes to leave the room because he "can't handle it."  I rock her every night, I sing the songs, I dry the tears, I apply the bandages, and even read most of the books.  It is MY belly button she has to have her finger in to go to sleep and it's my toe that gets stubbed in the dark at 2:30 in the morning when she can't find my belly button in HER bed and I have to go get her, because she is crying: "Momeeeeee!"
     But, ask her, "Who's girl are you?" and every time you'll hear: "Da-eeeee's."  After spending all day pouring my heart and soul in to her raising, Dad walks through the door in the evening and you've never seen her run so fast!  She jumps in his arms and acts like I've been beating her all day!  It is so unfair! She had a really bad diaper rash a few days ago and of course, yours truly had to do the changing and wipe her poor bottom and apply the diaper cream, while she yelled for her Daddy to save her.  And, save her he did, as soon as I was finished with the dirty work!
     But.  I have not lost heart.  Because I know my day will come!  As soon as she is grown and has her own little one growing insider her... well, that'll be MY time to shine!  That's when the tables will turn.  And, she'll always be Daddy's little girl, but I will suddenly be her confidante, her sounding board, her source of information...  The phone will ring and he will answer and she'll say:  "Hey, Dad!  Is mom there?  I need to ask her a question."  And, when the baby comes, Dad will have to leave the room because he "can't handle it."  But, if she'll have me, I'll be right there.
     Ahhhhh, Daddy's little girls.  A mother's rewards are great, but there is a wait for some of the big dividends!  In the meantime, though.... They are pretty cute together.





Sunday, October 31, 2010

To Halloween or not to Halloween? I am a Christian...

After having children, my viewpoint on Halloween changed some.  I became a little uncomfortable with it, but I wasn't exactly sure why and I couldn't exactly pinpoint my issue with the holiday.  As a Christian, trying to raise my children in a Christian home, I just wasn't exactly sure what my stance on the holiday SHOULD be.

Let me preface the rest of this blog by telling you that my mother LOVES Halloween.  She decorates the house and the porch and always went all out making our costumes.  Whatever we wanted to dress as, she made it happen!  Witches, bats, gypsies, vampires, genies.... She created just about every costume you could think of over the years.  My mom is a Christian, too!  But, she just really loves the holiday and all the spooky stories and movies.  She was raised in a time where Halloween was something that was all in fun.  It was safe to walk the streets at night and trick or treat everyone in your neighborhood and everyone just had fun with it.

So, for the last 10 years since having children, we've participated in Halloween activities.  They have always gotten to dress up, but it was always something cute.  We've done Eeyore, puppies, tigers, princesses, Wizard of Oz, etc.  We've attended the school and church carnivals and we always trick-or-treat a few people in town that we know and who enjoy seeing the kids dressed up.  And, although I was uncertain exactly how I should approach the holiday as a Christian, I've not felt like it interfered with our faith in any way... until this year.

This year my 10 year old wanted to be a witch.  I was just really uncomfortable about that.  But, I couldn't totally put my finger on why.  My mom was wanting to make her costume and was waiting on my decision about whether or not to allow her to dress as a witch.  Of course, Mom and I had a discussion about it and it was hard for me to express how I feel because I didn't want to make my mother feel like I thought her parenting was less than mine because she had always allowed us to dress up in ghoulish (never gross or gory!) costumes and she felt like it was all in fun and there was nothing wrong with it.  I couldn't find the true reason I was having issue with it.  I told my mom I didn't feel like it was going to interfere with my daughter's faith or walk with God, but it just seemed like a bad witness to other people.  However, I caved!  I let her dress as a witch and my son as a skeleton.  Even though I was still really unsettled about it.  I didn't want to them to wear their costumes to church carnivals and that got me!!  I said to myself: "I should not be letting my kids do anything or act in any way that I wouldn't if we are in church!"  Our lives should be led the same way regardless of what building we are in!  I realized that I for sure had made a mistake in bending on my principles and ignoring my convictions!  I decided to do some Halloween investigation!  I came across an article that Air 1 Radio had on their site and it really let me know what I needed to do. (Link to article: Halloween: Opression or Opportunity)

Halloween (it was not called Halloween then) started before Christ's birth as a pagan holiday in which people dressed as evil beings to trick the true demons.  They wanted to blend in with the demons and evil spirits they believed were walking the earth so that the demons would pass them over and not torment them.  This is DEFINITELY against our religion as Christians.  We believe we should be set apart from the evil of the world and be a light for all to see!  Many years later, after Christ, the Christian church decided to infiltrate this pagan holiday and make it about God.  They named it "All Hallow's Eve" (Which is where the word Halloween comes from.)  They made it about the fact that the only true protection we have from evil is Christ! 

This article gave me the history lesson I needed to tell me exactly how I feel about this holiday and how to explain my convictions.  When my daughter wanted to be a witch and my son a skeleton, I didn't like it, but I didn't have the explanation I needed to tell them "why."  Now I do!  So, even though they were dressed ghoulish this year, it will be the last year.  And, we had a discussion about it.  I told them that we should use Halloween to let everyone know that Jesus is our protection from evil and to celebrate the peace and protection we have from his resurrection.  I will allow my children to celebrate Halloween (or all Hallow's Eve) and they will be allowed to dress up as something cute or funny.  But, there will be no more evil spirits, ghouls, witches or hobgoblins at our house!  And, I think we'll make a tradition of talking about Jesus on that day and reading a verse about why we have nothing to fear in this world.  I have found a verse I really like:  
The fear of the Lord leads to life, and whoever has it rests satisfied; he will not be visited by harm. -Proverbs 19:23

And, now I know exactly where I stand and WHY!  Everyone has their own convictions.  For instance, the woman who raised me has a very different opinion that I!  And, we can't judge each other on that.  We just both have to accept that our choices are between our selves and God.  I know what God has said to ME on the subject, but I can't know what is truly in anyone else's heart!  So... I can with sound conscience say to you all:  HAPPY HALLOWEEN AND GOD BLESS!!!

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Some mercy, please?

So, I have always been a very forgiving person. It just came easy to me; I usually can see past people's actions to their selves and let go of any hurt or resentment. However, the last couple of years have proven to be a little difficult for me in that area. There have been several instances involving people close to me in the last year or so that have caused me to harbor negative feelings towards people that I just can't seem to work past! I resolved myself to thinking it is okay to erase these people from my life to ''guard'' myself from further hurt. Even though my spirit was not quite at ease wth this notion, I told myself it is ok and I can forgive and move on and ''love them from afar.''

This week God has been throwing a message of forgiveness at me left and right. From devotionals to television broadcasts to facebook posts to magazine articles! I just read an article in my P31 Woman magazine and it suddenly hit me like a ton of bricks... I am the one in need of mercy!

I have been acting towards others out of my own pain! Two years ago October I lost my grandmother (Me-Ma). This happened in the midst of a court battle with my ex husband & his family whom I love dearly. (our relationships have since been restored, praise God!) I was going through a difficult third pregnancy, in and out of the hospital for months after that and on bed rest. While my adorable daughter is an awesome joy to me, my pregnancy caused much stress and tension within my marriage. Not to mention, one of my husband's closest friends passed away the day after she was born and he had his own pain he was soerting out. The next month, three months after Me-Ma's passing, my other grandmother passed away. The ensuing year involved a move, the decision to quit a job I loved, starting a business and a lot of financial strain. There were other battles I faced, too personal to blog about... Did I mention that I was in school full time through all this?

I'm not whining! Things could have been a LOT worse. It was just one of life's valleys. Now that we seem to be on the uphill climb, it's easier to see the dark place I was in. And, today God placed on my heart that he has never chosen to ''love me from afar.'' No matter my transgressions! So, who am I to place anyone out of my reach? Who am I to hold on to someone else's infractions? I realize that while I've been so focused on other people's mistakes and how they need my forgiveness, I should have been looking at my own heart! I have been acting out of pain and stress and fatigue. So, today I asked God to search MY heart and heal the pain that I've not taken the time to deal with and help me to soften towards those around me. I need to realize we are all only human, all with our own private struggles. And, I'm only going to get as much mercy as I give away!!!









Wednesday, July 28, 2010

My favorite ''job''

Friday, July 2, 2010

Write your Love Story!

Last night I made love to my husband.  Too much information, you say?  Seriously?  You didn't know we did that??  (May I direct you to the daughter we had a year and a half ago?)  Anyway, not that I am trying to give you too much information here, but I'm not just talking about your everyday, run-of-the-mill, "roll in the hay."  I mean, I truly made LOVE to him.  Yes, for any of you guys that are reading this, I'm getting in to the emotional aspect of things, of course.  You gals... well, you know what I am talking about!


I read a story yesterday a woman wrote about falling in love with her now husband.  I could not stop reading it!!  I neglected almost all my wifely/motherly duties yesterday in order to finish reading her blog about the courtship between her and her hubby.  I couldn't stop reading it because it reminded me so much of my own story about my own husband.  While I read her words, I relived our story in my mind - and in my heart.  For the whole day I had all these emotions flooding back to me that reminded  me exactly what it was that made me fall in love with my husband.


I love him more now than I did before we married.  I truly do.  We have been through so much together in our short 3+ years since our wedding.  And, although there have been times when it seemed that life was trying to rip us apart, we came through it closer than before.  (Although, sadly, that is not always the case with couples.)  However, somewhere along the way, that deep fiery passion that I felt when we were dating has been extinguished some due to all the stress of everyday life.  Laying down every night, enveloped in his arms is just the norm now.  It is not some new, exhilarating feeling.  It is warm, familiar and comforting.

But, in his arms is where I fell in love!  I fell in love with the warm, strong, gentle, protective, comforted feeling I got when his big, muscular arms were around me.  I fell in love with the fact that I knew he could literally squeeze the life out of me if he wanted to, but he was so tender and gentle when I was in his arms.  Gently caressing my back or twirling my hair.  I remember the exact moment that I thought, "I could stay here forever."  And, I remember 100 emotions hurling at me as I realized the fear of that thought was not quite as big as the fear of NOT staying there forever.  How could I have ever gotten complacent about those arms around me??  I love them more now than I did then.  I have watched them comfort my first two children, discipline them, and wrestle and tickle them.  I watched them hold our tiny newborn daughter more timidly and delicately than those arms had ever done anything.  I've watched them build fence, fix little girl hair, work cows, change light bulbs, chop wood and tuck in my children at night.  How could I curl up in them every night and take for granted the deep, immense emotion that those beautiful, strong arms are capable of evoking in me???


It's just life!  We just get so tired.  We get complacent and we take for granted the most important things to us.  After reading the story yesterday I remembered not only my deep love for my husband, but I remember the unadulterated passion I have for him.  I entertained the thought of how fragile life is and how very easily my life could have ended up so different from how it is now.  I thought of how very easily he could have never been a part of my life at all.  But, God, in all his intricate, delicate planning, put my beloved in my life - just for me!  He spent years molding and forming us so that we would fit so very perfectly together.  How incredulous it is that I would take that for granted!


I think maybe, just maybe, if we all wrote our love stories out;  if we sat for a day or so, recalling all the beautiful, passionate moments that culminated the love we now have, then just maybe we wouldn't take so much for granted and maybe the odds of making it for the long haul would be better than they are!  Maybe if we re-read our love stories from time to time it would give us back the passion and urgency that brought us together in the first place - the fiery passion that the mundane and the trials of life seem to drown out over time.  Maybe, more often, we would truly make LOVE to one another and not go looking elsewhere for things we really already have.  Just maybe...

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Mascara!!

Ok... so this is NOT a paid advertisement!  I consider myself a connoisseur of sorts when it comes to mascara.  It is the one cosmetic item that I just can't live without!  My lashes aren't the longest, but aren't super short, either.  They are decently thick.  BUT, just like my hair, they are STRAIGHT.  So, no matter how much mascara I put on, they don't look a lot different because they grow straight forward.  Even when I curl them, they just fall back flat in no time.  I recently came across my favorite mascara to date!  Rimmell Lash Maxxx.  It comes in a black tube with a hot pink top.  It has kind of a funny applicator, but it is great!  One coat makes my lashes look fuller, way longer, and it holds them in place!  If you have the same issues I do with your lashes, try this out!!!

Thursday, June 24, 2010

This is NOT my home.

I have spent my entire life trying to conform to this world.  Much of my life consisted of someone trying (out of love) to convince me to change who I am.  "Sis, you are going to HAVE to stand up for yourself."  "You are SO sensitive."  "I can't believe you would still be friends with them after they did that to you."  And, on and on and on...

I am grateful to God for the way he made me... now.  I realize that my faith has come very easy to me because I have never felt like I truly belong here on Earth.  I cannot boast about my gentle spirit, patience or slow anger.  Those are all gifts to me from God and I, myself, had no control over the personality traits and spiritual gifts He bestowed on me before I was ever even born.  But, I used to really dislike the way I am.  I remember being young and figuring out our spiritual gifts in Sunday School.  Mine, of course, was mercy.  And, I so often I felt like that was a double edged sword.  While I relished in the fact that God gave me certain gifts because He had special plans for using me to glorify His kingdom, mercy is not always fun.  It is hard to explain to people why you would still carry on with someone who has hurt you greatly.  It is hard to explain that you see beyond that to the hurt they are feeling inside themselves and you just want to "fix" it.  God sometimes gives me the ability to truly feel someone else's pain even though I've not been in their situation.  How do you make someone believe that you "know how they feel?"  And, sometimes you want to shut off that ability because you just don't want to feel that!  Over the years, I learned to quit watching the news, to look the other way from homeless people on the side of the road, to turn the TV when the St. Jude's Telethon comes on.  Maybe that sounds awful, but if you knew the times I sat and bawled for an hour after hearing or reading something, with the knowledge that there is nothing I can do!!!

It cracks me up when people refer to me as "laid back."  I am... on the surface.  And, it is true that I don't anger quickly or yell or get outwardly excited about things.  But, on the inside I am anything but laid back.  On the inside I am in knots constantly and anxious all the time.  I think this is because I feel so out of place here on Earth.  It is so hard for me to comprehend the evil that surrounds us all the time and the behaviors of some people are just beyond my understanding.  And, if I had to name my biggest struggle in my walk with God, that is it!  Worry.  Instead of trusting Him to take care of everything, I worry and fret over everything. (In example: checking the door locks several times each night!!)  When what I should be clinging to is this:
"Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus." -Philippians 4:6-7

All my life I have been told to stand up for myself.  But, God says: "Blessed are the gentle[Or humble, meek ], for they shall inherit the earth." -Matthew 5:5  I've been mocked for wearing my heart on my sleeve and being so quick to tears, but God says to me: "Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted." -Matthew 5:4.  The world shakes it's head at me for those I have forgiven "too easily."  But, God's word says: "So, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience; bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone; just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you." -Colossians 12-13

The  more time goes by, the more thankful I am that God made it so easy on me.  I hear people say they are not ready to go to Heaven.  They feel like they will be missing out on something this world has to offer.  And, while there are many beautiful, joyous things here, I cannot wait to meet my maker!  God made it so that I would never be totally comfortable here and that makes it so much easier to long for Him and His ways!  I have experienced the peace of the Holy Spirit and the thought of living with that constantly is very appealing to me!  But, I know that while I spend my time here on Earth, my eyes must be on Jesus.  This time here is short, although that is hard for us to fathom.  Those of us who have chosen so, will spend an unimagineable eternity in Heaven.  The trials of this world will pass along with the money, bills, posessions, housework, etc... What will matter is HOW we chose to live while we were here and how we treated the people around us.  As Jesus was preparing his disciples for his departure from this Earth, he said this to them: (it is my favorite verse) "Peace I leave with you, my peace I give to you.  Not as the world gives do I give to you.  Therefore, let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid."  Don't get too comfortable here!  One way or the other, we won't be here long.  But, I know I can have great peace while I'm here.  I wish you the same, friends.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

What's on the top of your list???

So many of us have that imaginary list of priorities in our mind.  In my mind it is a picture of a piece of notebook paper with a neatly typed, (don't ask me why it is TYPED on notebook paper....) and numbered list.  It is an idealistic thing in my mind.  Of course, God is #1, then my family, then....  But, this last couple of weeks I've taken a good, hard, painful look at what my list REALLY says - in real life.  Because in my head, things are always ideal (I.E. the picture of ME in my head is of a slim 18 year old I used to know!) I've come to realize that God is nowhere near the top of my list.  And, really, neither is my family.  Sure, I love them the most, but do I show them that the most?  I mean, if I'm real with myself, my computer and housework has been coming before my family and God.  Sure, the housework I do is for my family, in part, but how many times a day to I tell my children, "Just a minute."  And, do I ever truly go back and take that minute to be truly present with them?  Not nearly enough.  It makes me choke up just thinking about it.  I've come to realize that even my bestie comes before God, truly.  If I have a complaint, a worry, a praise, a joyous thought, a funny notion - I call or text her.  I don't go talk to God about it first.  I don't take the quiet moments often enough to listen to what His spirit is telling me. 

This morning I went and laid in my almost 10 year old daughter's bed as she was waking up.  I held her in my arms and it took everything I had in me not to just start bawling my eyes out.  When did she quit crawling in to my bed at night and my lap to be rocked and read to.  When did that happen???  I missed it.  Truly, life is just busy and there is no way around the fact that I have to do laundry and cook and clean.  But, I know in my heart, my idealistic list of priorities needs to be made more than just an ideal...

Friday, May 14, 2010

Laissez les bons temps rouler!!!

Many people dread turning 30.  Today I am doing just that, and I am excited!  I am welcoming and embracing my 30's!  My last 10 years have been amazing.  A roller coaster of ups and downs.  Probably most of the great momentous events of my life have happened in the last 10 years....
I was married in 2000 and had my first child.  By 2003 I was divorced with two children, a bankruptcy, broke and barely a leg to stand on!  I worked myself up to a vocational certification in Child Care, to a good job with benefits, to a supervisory position in that job, to owning my own business, and in 7 months I will have obtained my Bachelors degree, all the while raising a family, being a wife and keeping up with a household.  I sent my little brother off to boot camp, then to war, and feel the pangs of grief that he is so far away from us, and the swelling of pride for how far he has come and the great sacrifices he makes for our nation.  I married my husband in 2007, blended our family (not always easy!) and had my precious red head in 2008.  I've been a single mom and I've swallowed pride and fear to hand over half the reins of child rearing to someone else.  I broke down thick walls of protection over my heart to love another man and share my life with him.  I watched by baby sister get married and held my mother's hand as she dealt with the pain of her last child leaving her home.  (And, that has made me appreciate this time in my life all the more!)  We buried 3 of my grandparents - my two grandmothers within 3 months of each other and had a baby in between them.  (When was there time to grieve??)   I've watched my two oldest children's hearts break, often over my own shortcomings, and had no way to "make it better."  I've watched their resilient little hearts recover and seen the amazing affects of our new found stability.  I was right there as each of them gave their hearts to Jesus and felt the all consuming comfort of knowing we'll all be together in the great beyond!!
There are moments in my 20's that I will NEVER forget!  How do you erase the first flutter of a child growing in your womb?  How do you ever forget looking in to the love of your life's eyes, and promising yourself to them?  The sorrows, pain and hardships are all just part of life.  I look back to 10 years ago.  I see a scared, pregnant 20 year old, growing up too soon.  Mothers Day was on my birthday that year.  The person I am now has been shaped by all the things that have happened between then and now.  God has put me through the fire, he has shaped me and molded me and sometimes it has hurt!!!  He has taught me things I will never forget, the most important of which is that the only way is His way and I have learned to rely on Him for my every need.  This is not to say that my trials are over!  No, I am not that naive!
We bought a house last year.  That was my 9 time to move in 10 years.  I sit back now, and look at my life and it feels so stable.  It feels so good to know that, more than likely, where I am at is where I'll be for some time.  I feel like for the first time in so long, I can sit back, take a deep breath, and truly enjoy my life!  And, when the curve balls come - as they are sure to from time to time - I am so much more ready than I used to be...  So, as I consider the next 10 years, I say to life:

Laissez les bons temps rouler!!! (Let the good times roll!!!)

"Nehemiah said, 'Go and enjoy choice food and sweet drinks, and send some to those who have nothing prepared. This day is sacred to our Lord. Do not grieve, for the joy of the LORD is your strength.'" -Nehemiah 8:10

"He will call upon me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble, I will deliver him and honor him. With long life will I satisfy him and show him my salvation."  -Psalm 91:15-16

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

My "Incompetent Housekeeper" Binder!

So... here in the land of Southern Hospitality, Sweet Iced Tea and good old fashioned values... housekeeping is everything!  A woman will forever be judged, at least in these parts, based upon the way she keeps house.  And, yes, I said SHE.  Because no matter how far we've "progressed" and despite the fact that women are in the work force, working every bit as much as their husbands, no one around here walks in a messy house and thinks, "THEY are bad housekeepers."  It is "SHE is a bad housekeeper."  I have been married twice now, and both times I married men who's mothers have immaculate houses.  My ex mother-in-law's house looks like something right out of a Southern Living Magazine - all the time - no matter when you walk in it.  And, she decorates it all herself.  No one does hospitality like her.  You walk in, feel right at home and she always has something to eat and drink and time to sit and chat.  My husbands mother is right there with her.  I open her freezer and feel immediate shame!  If any part of my life was as organized as just her freezer is, I'd be doing good!!  So, how on earth did these men end up with me???


My house is always a mess.  If it happens to not be a mess for 5 minutes, no one will see it. The odds are against me that anyone will stop by and see it spotless. Contrary to what many people might think, I am not lazy!  I am merely distracted.  I come from a long line of distraction.  It's all I know.  Distraction mixed with procrastination.  My mom has been known (on most Saturdays, actually) to spend an entire day "in the kitchen" cleaning.  You can talk to her in the evening and she'll say, "I've been in this kitchen cleaning ALL DAY LONG."  Now, I know my mom.  She has not been in the kitchen all day long.  She probably started in the kitchen, then somewhere along the way decided to water all her plants which led her to prune them as well and probably feed them.  There may have been one that needed to be repotted.  She probably ended up reorganizing a few drawers when she went to put something away... and countless other things that really needed to be done - not in the kitchen, but all the while, still cleaning the kitchen, too. I am not the perfectionist that my mom is.  I don't care if my cabinets are organized, as long as I can shut the doors and not see the disarray!  (She tends to organize them for me when she's here because it drives her nuts!!)
I am definitely not lazy.  The truth is, I try to do too much.  Instead of doing one load of laundry a day, I try to do as much as I can, end up not having time to finish it, and voila: laundry baskets with unfolded clothes all over the house.  Instead of focusing on one room, I decide to clean ALL the windows in the house or wash ALL the curtains or clean ALL the baseboards... and these things are usually started in the middle of another project.  So... I end up with several different parts of my house in the process of being cleaned.  Meanwhile, other things go by the wayside with the promise to myself of: "I'll do that in a minute."  Before I know it, I have piles of "Do it in a minutes" sitting on my kitchen counter, dresser, vanity, etc...
The only thing that has ever worked for me is a program I found on a website.  I have a binder full of schedules and do lists with regards to the running of my home.  I have been pretty reluctant to use it, though, even though it works for me, because I want to be the type of person who is naturally organized and neat and tidy.  But... bottom line: I'm not that type of person..  I thrive on lists & calendars!!  So, why is it crazy that I would use them for the running of my home??  It's really not a crazy notion!
So, if any of you find yourself in my predicament... try this out:  Fly Lady

Thursday, April 22, 2010

My Life is FUN!

It saddens me to think of all the people, even many Christians, who feel like a life led by Christ is "No Fun."  So many people feel that Christianity is about rules and regulations.  There is an image of God, looking down from Heaven, with a pencil and eraser and the book of life, just waiting for us to mess up so He can punish us.  I don't even understand how people live like this!  "God is love."  Why would we imagine Him as a cruel being who created us just to see if we could "walk the line?"  He created us to have a relationship with us.  That  is what it is all about!  A relationship with Christ!!  Yes, there are guidelines for how we need to live our lives, but isn't that true in any relationship?  It is the same way that we try to honor the people in our lives that we love.  We (most of us)  strive to treat our relationship with our spouses with care, for instance.  We try not to cheat on, lie to, hurt, neglect, etc our spouses because we cherish the relationship we have with them.  Obviously, we all fall short here and there, but in a healthy, solid relationship there is forgiveness and grace.  God loves us so much more than any human can love us!!  While there are some things a spouse may not be able to live with or forgive, God can.  He knew every transgression I would make against Him as His son was being nailed to the cross.  Jesus already paid the penance for my "mess ups."  While some people may feel that choosing to follow Christ would just be too restricting, I've found it to be the most freeing thing I've ever known.  God expects me to "TRY."  He never expects me to be perfect and He never expects me to rely on my own strength to make it through.  He is not up in Heaven, looking down.  He is right beside me, in the trenches, supplying me with his supernatural power and peace.  Life can be hard!!  But, I know that this isn't "it."  I am passing through on this Earth.  And, while I'm here, I plan to make the best of it!  I want to enjoy my life and have fun and I am free to do that!  God wants that for me, in fact.  I've tasted what the world has to offer, and it was fun... at first.  But, it didn't take long for it to feel empty and cold.  I look at my children and think of the immense, unconditional love I feel for them and it amazes me to think that God loves each and every one of us unimaginably more than that!  From the "greatest" of us, right down to the murderers and child molesters, he genuinely loves us all.  (My human brain can't fathom that kind of love!)  Nothing I do could ever make Him love me less!!!  I didn't "DO" anything to become a Christian.  Christ already did that for me when He was nailed to the cross.  All I did was pray and invite Him to come in to my life.  I opened the door for the relationship He so wanted with me.  And, I fall short every single day!  But, it's okay!  God already knew the mistakes I would make today and He chose to love me anyway and forgive it all.  I know this, for sure: 

For I am certain that nothing can separate us from his love; neither death nor life, neither angels nor other heavenly rulers or powers, neither the present nor the future, neither the world above nor the world below – there is nothing in all creation that will ever be able to separate us from the love of God which is ours through Christ Jesus our Lord. -Romans 8:38-39  (Good News Bible)

Monday, March 29, 2010

I am NOT in control! (Thank God!!)

I recently started the "Couch to 5K" running plan. ( http://www.fromcouchto5k.com/articles/training/the-couch-to-5k-training-plan/ ) Tonight I had to walk 5 minutes, run 7 minutes, then walk another 5 minutes.  I did the same thing a few days ago and it did not bother me much!  I think I set my pace too fast tonight.  Plus, I had a rough day.  It is a testament to my new found running devotion that I was even out there, after dark, running.  I had just gotten home from a visit to our local Urgent Care clinic with my daughter.  (On the way home, stressed and discouraged, I scarfed a Dr. Pepper and some fries.)  Twice I stopped for just a second after looking at my stopwatch to see only 3 minutes and 45 seconds had gone by!  When I got to just 30 seconds left to go, I felt like I couldn't run anymore.  I dug deep and said aloud, to myself, "You can do it, Christin."  Then, I thought of something Beth Moore had said in her bible study I have been attending. (Believing God - Bible Study)  She talks about how powerful it is to speak God's word, aloud.  I began to say, "I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength."  Breathlessly, I chanted this out loud. As I did, my feet began to pick up the pace and before I knew it, I was sprinting!  I finally stopped at 7min, 20 sec.  I could have gone further, though!  I only stopped because my bladder told me to!  (Many of you who have carried those big babies in your womb feel my pain on that one!!)  The Holy Spirit took over my body!!!


The first realization that came from this is: I TRULY am not in control and that is a great relief!  However, I try to be in control and that just messes things up!  Look at me, trudging through life when I could be sprinting if I would just "give up the reins."  Also, the Spirit revealed to me that if He was able to cause me to sprint after being beat down and worn out, He can also overcome my issues with food.  If I will just rely on Him and let the Holy Spirit guide my every decision.  If I will just give up the control.  I don't have to stop and get a Dr. Pepper and fattening treat when I'm having a bad day!  I can, however, throw some scripture at that temptation!


I walked my last 5 minutes with a huge grin on my face and a renewed enthusiasm for life.  As I stretched, I listened to the crickets chirp and looked up at the stars in the clear sky and the trees silhouetted against the last bits of setting sun.  I felt so peaceful and blessed!  Life is good!!

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

A Day in the Life of a Home Child Care Provider

So far today I have loaded the dishwasher 3 times and unloaded it twice.  I have swept the kitchen floor 3 times, picked up countless toys, changed over 20 diapers and wiped MANY noses.  I have rocked 5 children to sleep... at least once each.  I've done 2 loads of laundry, made three completely balanced meals (plus a snack), read several books, been called "Mamma" about a hundred times, settled several disputes over personal space and e-mailed parents about concerns with their child.  I have kept records, made bottles and cleaned up spills.  I have bleached counters and changing tables, sanitized binkies and kissed boo-boos.

Am I complaining?  Nope!  This is what I choose to do.  Because today I made a difference in the lives of children.  Every snotty hug, slobbery kiss, silly song, smile and cuddle will help mold who these little people become and I am so privileged to be a part of that!!

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

My God of Second Chances - Follow up

     Many of you followed my 7 part, VERY abridged story of some personal things I've gone through.  I wanted to just say that obviously, Travis and I didn't get married, live happily ever after, and my life is just roses now!  LOL  My life is blessed so abundantly, but it is not without trials.  Everyone has trials, whether you see them from the outside or not.  The biggest difference from where I was to where I am at is the choice I am making to TRY to stay within God's will for my life.  It just makes things easier.
     I am by no means anywhere  close to perfect.  I mess up.  Daily!  But, I am forgiven.  So many people don't realize that this whole Christianity thing is about relationships.  It is not just a big huge book of rules that we try to live by.  Okay, so there ARE rules in the bible.  However, there are also promises, parables, advice, comfort, encouragement and LOVE!  I recently read a book called The Shack by William P. Young.  I would urge you to read it.  It could really change your outlook on your relationship with God. http://theshackbook.com/
     I still get discouraged.  I trip and fall and I sin.  But, I am learning to lean on God more and more and less on myself and the ways of this world and it is making all the difference in my life!  I spent too many years trying to do it on my own.  This life is just too hard.  While there is joy to be found here on Earth, there is so much heartache, as well.  Time is so quickly fleeting.  Remember the relationships in your life.  When it is all said and done, that is what matters most.  And the most important relationship is the one you have with your creator!  He's left the ball in your court.  Because that's how much he loves you;  He wants you to come to Him.  Keep in mind that we are just passing through here on our way home.  I hope to see you all there someday!


Love,
Christin Leigh

My God of Second Chances (Part 7)

    One day my phone rang while I was driving home.  I didn't recognize the number, but answered it anyway.  It was a guy I had gone to school with since 2nd grade.  We had seen each other out and about a couple of times in the last year, but we hadn't even been close in High School.  I remembered that our freshman year we had a class together and he flirted with me relentlessly.  I also remembered that I used to mistake him for my boyfriend on the football field sometimes and felt a little guilty for thinking he looked pretty good in a pair of football pants!  Other than that, he was just the big goofy cowboy that copied off my papers for a year in Physical Science.


     He asked me if I wanted to go out on a date.  He had gotten my number from my sister, who worked for a good friend of his.  My exact thoughts were, "Why not?  I don't have anything better to do."  So, I agreed.  And, honestly, I didn't think much about it.


     He took me to Red Lobster and was quite obviously nervous.  Through dinner, I had a lot of fun talking to him and enjoyed my time with him at the movie.  I was surprised by the fact that his favorite music was 80's rock and a little turned off by the fact that he was an avid OU fan, but was able to get past it.  By the time we got back to my house, I was thinking, "Wow.  I actually kind of like this guy!"  However, he sat there with his hands on the steering wheel.  A little baffled, I said, "Well, I had a good time."  He said the classic words:  "Yea.  We'll have to do it again sometime."  WOW.  I had just been let down easy by the big goofy cowboy who I had really enjoyed a date with.  He didn't get out and open my door, let alone walk me to the house.  He just sat there, hands glued to the steering wheel.


   I chalked it up to the joys of dating and went on.  About two weeks later I got a call from him, but like any lady would, let it go to voice mail so as not to seem too available after that 2 week lull.  Apparently his blunderous ending of our date was only the first of many dating faux-pas I would have to overlook.  It was worth it, though.  Because I soon found out there was so much more to him than what most people ever know.  Before long he was a regular fixture at my little apartment, amidst the chaos that was my life with my two kids.  He would sit patiently while I patted my five year old's back until she FINALLY went to sleep.  He usually would bring over Subway on Friday nights and we would watch a movie at the house.  Before long, I found myself unintentionally falling head over heels for him.  We found ourselves to be very kindred souls, although no one would have expected it from the outside, looking in.


     The beginning of our relationship was not without it's issues.  Any man who is taking on a woman with two children and enough emotional baggage to warrant a live-in concierge, is sure to second guess things.  And, anytime there are children involved things can get difficult.  We made it through, though.  And, he was (and is) everything I wanted.  He was all the things I didn't even know I wanted in a man.  God knows the deepest desires of our heart, though.  Even better than we do!


     I will never forget the first time he saw my stomach.  I hated every second of it.  He ran his fingers over my stretch marks, that to me, were hideous.  I never let anyone see my stomach, let alone touch it.  I rarely looked at it in the mirror, myself.  "Why does that bother you so much?" he asked.  I told him it was because it was just awful.  He told me it wasn't.  He said, "How can you say that?  You have two beautiful kids in there because of this stomach."  And, yes, I cried.  God had brought me to a place where I knew I didn't need a man in my life.  I knew God could fulfill my every need.  But, in order to fulfill a very big "want" of mine, God put this man in my life.


                                                                ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~


     The church doors opened.  My father was at my side, wearing his Converse sneakers with his tux.  This time he wasn't trying to talk me out of it.  My two beautiful children were in front of me.  Most of the people I care most about were watching me, and "God Blessed the Broken Road" had just played.  We walked down the aisle and my dad gave away all three of us.  This was my second chance.  I was a different person than I had been at 19 years old, the first time I did this.  It seemed like a lifetime ago now.

     I don't know how many people knew what that moment in my life meant to me.  I had vowed to never let someone in my heart enough to hurt me ever again.  And, there I stood in front of this man who had stolen my heart without warning.  People always say love comes along when you least expect it, and in my case it was true.  I said my vows through tears of joy that I had been given an opportunity to try this again and that God had given my children and I this amazing man.  We didn't even realize that anything was missing from our little trio, but now we can't imagine life without him!  (Or the little red head that we added to the bunch a year and a half ago!)


     I'm still not sure how long it will take for all the wounds from my past to heal completely.  All I know is God can do it.  And, He will.  So many of them are just a distant memory.  I know that I sleep every night with my husbands big, strong arms around me.  And, I thank God for giving him to me.  I thank God for all the blessings He has given to me in my lifetime.  I am most thankful that no matter how many times I fail Him, He loves me the same.  He never changes.  People will let you down.  Even the people who love you the most.  I know I've done my fair share of hurting people... even if it was unintentional.  The only one who never will let you down is Jesus.


     Those of you who don't know Him, I urge you to seek Him in your life.  Those of you who do, but are trying to shut Him out, I would urge you to come back home.  Nothing you've done is too much for him to fix.  You never run out of second chances with my God!  He knew how many you would need the day you were born, and they were all nailed on the cross with Jesus years and years ago.


"Blessed is the man whom God corrects;
   so do not despise the discipline of the Almighty.
For he wounds, but he also binds up;
   he injures, but his hands also heal." - Job 5:17-18

Monday, March 15, 2010

My God of Second Chances (Part 6)


     Anyone who thinks a divorce is no big deal for a child is sorely mistaken.  My daughter has scars on her heart that will never go away.  At 9 years old, there is still residue from the situation that we deal with.  We have come a long way from her nightly, heart wrenching crying for her Daddy and her 4 year old tantrums.  She took everything out on me and, although I knew in my mind that she was just hurt and angry and it was safe to take it out on me, it still hurt my heart.  It was hard to hear my sweet little girl say she hated me and didn't want me to be her mom anymore.  It was hard to watch her hurt and not be able to fix it.  We went through counseling and "Divorce Care" (http://www.divorcecare.com/)and it helped, but I know there will be things she spends a lifetime overcoming. 


     There were doubts along the way about whether or not I did the right thing.  But, I now know I 100% did.  While the situation has still been hard for my son in some ways, he did not face the devastating heart break that my daughter did.  Divorce is hard.  And, it does not just affect the two married people.  There was a domino effect of heartache that happened when our family was torn apart.  It hurt us, our children and our families.  My ex-husband's family meant the world to me.  And, while God has since mended our relationship, there were time periods where things were so strained and the grief we all felt over losing the relationship with one another was as hard as the divorce itself was!


     Being a single parent is hard, too.  I don't care how much Hollywood glamorizes it.  I'm not saying it cannot be done and done well, I'm just saying it is a hard job.  I moved out of my parents house when my children were 4 and 16 months.  I moved in a little apartment in my home town.  I entered a vocational education program that paid a stipend every two weeks.  I got on food stamps and Temporary Aid for Needy Families.  Speaking of pride, I hated using the food stamp card.  But, it was the only way I could feed my kids.  I tried not to use it at the little hometown grocery store because I did not want anyone I knew to see me.  I did not want people to know how off course my life had gone!


     It was just me and my two kids.  It was scary sometimes, but it was also fun sometimes.  We had frozen pizza/movie night every Friday.  We all piled up in my bed every night.  (I couldn't stand them being in the other room at night.)  I tried my best to keep up with everything on my own.  I did the best I could at being both the mom and the dad day in and day out.  And, I did the best I could at keeping busy when they went to their Dad's house.  Dating was minimal.  I was trying to put God first in my life finally and I was listening close to His agenda for my life.  I truly believe he was not ready for me to be in a relationship yet.  Besides that, I could not fathom another man being in my life and around my kids.  Most of the time I felt like I would probably just stay single.  I had emerged from my marriage a very different person that when I entered it.  I had sold myself the lie that no one else would ever want me.  I had two children, I had gained 20 pounds and my 11 pound baby had left my stomach nothing less than what I considered disfigured.  But, single was okay with me...


     I learned a major lesson in life, the years I spent as a single gal.  The lesson I learned is that those nights I cried myself to sleep, wanting arms around me so badly, I should have cried out to Jesus.  Jesus was able to meet my every need.  The emotional needs I had been expecting my ex-husband to fill were needs that he could never have conquered in me.  Those longings were for God in my life.  The ever present ache in my heart was the Holy Spirit grieving for the life I was leading.  Grieving for the relationship with God I had let go of. There was a hole that could not be filled with romantic love or children or jobs or money or anything of this world!  Is it silly to ask Jesus to wrap His arms around you?  I'm here to tell you it is not!  I have had several moments in my life where the pain I felt was so real and the loneliness was overcoming.  I literally have begged my savior, "Please put your arms around me, Jesus.  Let me know you are here."  And, oh, He did!  He put a sense of peace over me that is indescribable.  It is why I love John 14:27 so much: "Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid."  I finally realized that Jesus wants an intimate, daily, loving, close relationship with me.  He cares about the tiny details and He wants to be in every part of my life.  Once I finally figured out that piece of the puzzle, God was ready to let me move on to my next chapter in life.  I had veered from his original plan for me and I had gone away from Him.  Therefore, I had suffered a great deal of pain in my life.  Much of which I don't even mention in this story.  But, He can fix anything.  And, He did!  I echo the words of my earthly father:  "It's okay, Baby.  Everybody makes mistakes."  God feels the same way about us.  He knew before I was born every mistake I was going to make and how he was going to fix it once I finally asked him to!  And, His plans are AWESOME!  "Beautiful History" by Plumb

   One day my phone rang while I was driving home...

(To be Cont)
   

Sunday, March 14, 2010

My God of Second Chances (Part 5)

    Time went on.  We split up, we vowed to work things out, we got back together.  It was a couple of years of turmoil and ups and downs.  Another baby came, unexpectedly.  At six months pregnant with our second child, I walked away from the marriage for good.  The details that led to my walking away are not important.


     At 26 weeks gestation I went in to labor with my son.  I didn't believe I was really having contractions, but my mom insisted we go to the hospital and, sure enough, I was starting to dilate and having regular contractions.  After 3 shots of medication the contractions would not stop, so they put me on a medication called magnesium sulfate that relaxed all the  muscles in my body, put me in an ambulance and shipped me to Tulsa, where, if he was born, he would have a better chance of surviving.

    Now, I've prayed pretty much my whole life.  But, never was there a more urgent prayer than the prayer I prayed in that ambulance.  I prayed and prayed the whole way to the hospital.  I'm quite sure my stress and anxiety was what caused the labor to come on, as they could not find any infection or any other evident cause for the onset of my labor.  I spent a couple of days in the hospital and then was sent home on bed rest with medication.  And, by home, I mean I went to my mom's and dad's house with my daughter.  Suddenly I was a single, pregnant mother, on bed rest, unable to work, and living back at my parent's house.  I was totally dependent on them.  And, I thank God, to this day, for their unconditional love and support.

     I have proof that God answers prayers.  He is a little boy that goes by, "Bubba."  He was definitely not born at 26 weeks.  I stayed on bed rest and medication until 36 weeks.  At one of my weekly OB appointments, the Doctor told me that he had actually moved back up out of the birth canal.  At 38 weeks I could barely walk and the next week they finally induced my labor and I gave birth to a big baby boy that weighed in at a whopping 11 lbs. 2 oz!

     I brought my baby boy home and it was so different from my first experience.  I did not bring him home to a house with a mom and a dad.  I brought him home to the one bedroom that we were living in at my Mom and Dad's house.  I had made up my mind that I was not going to become dependent on anyone to help me with my two children.  I knew I would eventually be out on my own and I would have to be able to take care of everything myself.  One of the first  nights after I left the hospital I was rocking my son and my 3 year old daughter was laying in bed.  Suddenly she started to sob and I said, "Sissy!  What's wrong?"  I'll never forget her sweet little voice: "Nobody won't lay with me."  My precious little angel had, in just a few months time, moved out of her house, left her Daddy, gained a little brother and lost at least half of the attention her mom had always paid her.  She had never put herself to sleep.  I had rocked her or laid in bed with her every night of her life.

     I began to sob, too.  Had I made a huge mistake?  Should I have just stayed in the situation I was in?  How could I possibly justify the hurt this little girl was feeling?  I had prayed my heart out before I left my husband.  I had asked for guidance and I thought for sure I had done everything I could to make our marriage work and that I was doing the right thing.  My mom came in to check on me and she said, "Oh, baby, what's wrong?"  What a sight we must have been.  ALL of us crying.  She told me I was going to have to let them know when I needed help.  That was not easy for me, though, with all my pride.

     One of the hardest things I ever did, regarding overcoming my pride, was dedicating my son when he was 2 weeks old.  Our church had a ceremony to dedicate all the babies that have been born in that year.  They held it 2 weeks after Bubba was born and I felt led to stand up and dedicate him.  It was not easy, though.  Because, there, in front of the entire congregation, I stood by myself.  I stood there among couples, lovingly holding their child together.  This was a large church and not that many people knew my story.  To many people I was just some young girl, who got pregnant out of wedlock.  And, I had been that girl!  But, I didn't want anyone to know.  However, I stood there, fighting the tears that were welling behind my eyes, stinging and blurring my vision.  I held that beautiful gift from God in my arms and I dedicated him back to God.  I promised to raise him in a Christian home and I knew that God would reward me for my obedience.

     And, besides, that... I had NEVER been alone.  At that moment, Jesus stood with me in front of that church.  I'm willing to bet that his only issue with pride was that he was proud of his child at that very moment.  He had been there all along.  He had been there even when I ran from him.  He had been there when I cried myself to sleep.  He promised to never leave me or forsake me, and he had not.  I had just chosen not to acknowledge him.  I decided that had not worked out well for me, though, and the changes began.  But, not without hardships along the way...

(To be Cont)

    

Saturday, March 13, 2010

My God of Second Chances (Part 4)

    Our dating had been quick and had shown neither of us the true self of the other.  I had married a charming, funny, charismatic, outgoing and entertaining man.  That's all I really knew.  Neither of us had a job when we got engaged.  I was the only one with a vehicle.  A two door sports car with one side of the front end smashed, still on my parents' insurance.  I guess we both just assumed everything would work itself out.


     God knows what he is doing, for sure!  He put a stop to my drinking in a hurry. He knows me.  He knows me far better than I know myself.  He knew the moment I found out there was a child inside me, I would do anything for it.  I stopped drinking.  I wouldn't even drink caffeine or take Tylenol!  I knew immediately that the year I'd spent acting like some other person was over.  It was like a switch.  All of the sudden I was a Mom.  It is different for men, though.  They don't have a little person growing inside them.  It is not as real as it is for us.  So, as I instantly morphed into Mommy, the gap between my husband and I immediately started growing, as did my expectations for him to suddenly become another person as well.

     Each of us had our own expectations of what a marriage should be like, however we never discussed these expectations with each other.  We really didn't discuss much of anything.  We just assumed the other one realized our feelings and shared our expectations.  As naive and ridiculous as it sounds, I assumed everyone's marriage was pretty close to my parent's.  And, I think he assumed the same about his.  So many assumptions!

     Instead of growing closer together in the months to come, we just grew further and further apart.  I had moved away from all of my friends and felt very alone in this new, bewildering role I had found myself in.  I always knew I eventually wanted to get married and have children, but I hadn't put a lot of thought in to it.  Some girls I knew had been planning their weddings since birth and had very solid ideas about the way they wanted to keep house and dress their children, etc, etc.  I just hadn't given the details much thought.  And, now, suddenly, I was a mother-to-be and a wife.  The mother part came so very naturally to be.  The wife part just did not!  Honestly, I missed my roommates and my life back in the college town I had come from.

     A never ending cycle of hurt and resentment ensued.  I was not very good at being organized and keeping up with the house and laundry.  He was not very good at being emotionally intimate.  It was hard for him to let anyone in and be vulnerable, open or affectionate.  We didn't talk about things, and slowly, the walls came up between us.  He expected me to do things the way his mother did and I expected to be treated like I had by my father and ex-boyfriends.  Now, that I am older and wiser, I can look back and see the immaturity on both our parts.  His love language was not the same as mine.  I express my love through touch.  His love is expressed through acts of service.  Things like keeping the house clean and doing laundry.  It never occurred to either of us how we were hurting the other.  (http://www.5lovelanguages.com/)

    The  lack of communication between us meant the arguments were few, but the arguments we did have were usually monumental!  And, usually ended with me walking out.  Running back home to my Mommy and Daddy.  But, other times, we had a lot of fun!  As I said before, he is a very fun person!  And, I grew to love his family so much.  They took me in and treated me as if I had just always been a part of their family.  The good times we had were very good and enough to make us stick it out for a while.

     Our beautiful daughter was also enough.  I can't say for sure that either of us really loved the other like we should have.  Honestly, how could we?  As little as we really knew about one another before jumping in to a "lifelong" commitment.  But, we both loved her.  And, the minute she was born, I filled all my empty spaces inside my heart with her!!  There wasn't much left for him.  Looking back, I now realize it had to be hard for him to deal with the jealousy he had to have felt over my infatuation with her, and then, the guilt over being jealous of his own daughter.  But, I've come to realize that is a very common feeling for new dads.  And, I had NEVER been so in love in my life!  Instantly, I became a mom and it was everything to me.  But, as I said before, the ache remained, regardless...

(to be cont)

Friday, March 12, 2010

My God of Second Chances (Part 3)

    I had been right.  It was her.  There were differing stories.  All I knew for sure was that she had been life flighted and I had to get to her.  On the way, I found out she had been shot it the face, but she was going to make it.  As I walked in to the hospital, I will never forget the view as long as I live.  I was met with what seemed like half of our little town in the waiting area.  My Grandmother met me at the door with tears in her eyes.  One of my friends who I'd left in the dust of my destrucion mouthed the words, "I love you," from accross the room.  It was the beginning of my journey back to where I was supposed to be in life.


     By the grace of God, my sister was given a second chance.  And so were we.  We would have never recovered from that loss.  She spent a week in the hospital and underwent surgery and I watched my parent's sheer exhaustion from it all and wondered how on earth I could have risked putting them through such hurt and anguish myself.  And, I felt like my problems that I had been so engrossed in were not so bad.  Not so bad at all.


     So, one week later, I came back to college and realized I was "late."  My best friend made me go to Wal-Mart to get a test.  I never dreamed it would be positive.  We had been so careful!  I burst in to tears and my first words were: "My dad's never going to talk to me again!"  My friend assured me he would and that it would all be okay.  She had just been through the same thing a year ago.  I was living with her and her daughter!  You would think I would have learned a lesson from that!

                                    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~


    So, there I sat. On a chair in my parents' living room, listening to my dad lecture me about how I was going to have to focus on school or they were going to make me come home.  And, all I could think was, "How am I going to tell them this??"  I started to cry.  The crying got worse and worse until it bordered hysterics.  My mom looked at me for a minute, then interrupted my dad to ask:  "Are you pregnant?"  Do not ask me how she knew that.  But, those of you who are moms probably don't have to ask!  There are some things we just know!


     I nodded my head.  My dad switched gears in an instant.  "It's okay, Baby.  It's okay.  Everybody makes mistakes.  It's going to be okay.....  Hey!  I'm gonna' be a grandpa!"


     Then, I sat on the couch with my mom on one side and my dad on the other.  None of us saying a word, all starring at the wall....  Two months later I stood with my dad on one side, my mom in the pew beside me, all staring at the preacher, and my future husband.


(To be cont.)