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Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Sacrifices made in vain??

My brother joined the Air Force a little over 6 years ago.  I remember going to watch him graduate from basic training and I was so proud.  It was a moving ceremony.  We all thought it was a good move for him and he thrived and excelled in the military environment.  The first few Christmases were hard without him, but we knew he was where he needed to be.  Not being at the hospital when my niece was born was hard, but my sister and I and our parents were all able to fly out for a bit and see them.  I remember him taking us to the airport in his fatigues and I'll never erase from my mind the image of my dad hugging him goodbye at the gate.  He was leaving for Iraq within the next month after we left and we all left knowing it could possibly be the last time we saw him.  That's hard.  He left his two month old daughter and new wife at the hands of others to care for them while he was gone.  I can't imagine.  Watching my mom hold the phone to my dying grandmother's ear so he could say goodbye was gut wrenching to say the least.  I don't know if it is because I'm the oldest, but times when I know my arms should be around him but they can't be are the hardest for me.
His son was born in September of 2010.  But, as it is with those of us who make up the backbone of this country, we hadn't been able to afford to go out and see them.  They finally made it home last week, though, for a visit!  It wasn't on Christmas, but close enough!!  We were all so excited to see them, but oddly, seeing them was actually painful in a way.  You have to harden yourself some and distance yourself to get through things like not knowing your niece and nephew and the empty spots under the Christmas tree where packages should be that have been sent in the mail instead.  I walked in to see my adorable little one year old nephew looking at me like he had no clue who I was and I started crying (which scared him. So, he may not want to know me after that!  Haha!) because the reality of it hit so hard - they'll never really know me, nor I them.  He hadn't had an extended visit with us in over 3 years and hadn't spent Christmas with us in 6.  Having them here was so wonderful, but also a reminder to all of us that they were leaving.  They still won't be here on Christmas day.  The kids will have to get to know each other again next time we see them.  And, I think we all got through it by thinking this was a temporary thing.  That once we endured a few years of him being gone, he'd be back and all would be "normal" again.  This time I think we all finally faced the fact that he won't be coming back to stay.  These visits are what is "normal" now.
We wouldn't have it any other way.  I can't begin to express my gratitude that I can still have visits with my brother.  So many people have paid the ULTIMATE price and lost a loved one.  And, not just in this current war we just ended, but in the whole history of our country.  I never understood the sacrifices made until I went through it with my brother.  He has obviously sacrificed more than any of us, but it has affected every single person in our family as well.  Multiply that by all the service men and women in the history of the United States and that is a lot of sacrifice.  That equals out to a lot of children with parents missing, a lot of broken-hearted moms and wives, a lot of grandparents who don't get to know their grandbabies.
My brother has spent months away from his kids.  He has moved away from all his family and friends.  He has given up every luxury this country of plenty has to offer to go over and fight... for you.  For me.  For all of us.  So, what do we do with that?  Send our companies to China?  Refuse to exercise our right to vote?  Forget what a privilege it is for our children to be educated equally for free?  We build our big fancy houses, buy our foreign vehicles, and live in our little bubbles pretending that we can't make a difference in the world around us.  (I'm including myself in all this!)  Thank God there are a few good men and women out there who have given everything to allow us the freedom to not care.  I think it is time we all stood up, banded together, and made this country what WE want it to be.  Us.  The backbone.  The taxpayers, the laborers, the service people.  Why do we sit back and let the politicians and corporations decide our lives for us?  Wasn't that the whole point of "America."  Isn't that what so many have fought for?  So that "we the people" can run this country?  I think it's time we all got out of our bubbles and made sure that all the sacrifices, both past and present, were not made in vain!

Monday, November 28, 2011

Serving God, not man. (Even your husband!) ;)

So, this will be one of the times I'm sure my husband is super pumped that I like to blog about the personal details of our lives.  But, anyway, here goes...
My hubby is a little particular about the house and things being neat and orderly.  He doesn't gripe or complain (especially given his wife's very right brained tendencies toward the creative instead of organization!) but I can tell it makes him uncomfortable for the house to be in disarray and I TRY really hard to stay on top of my cluttery, procrastinatory nature.  (I made two words up in that last sentence.  It's okay.  I can do that.  It is called creative license!)
The other day I only had a couple of daycare kids and I knew we would be gone all of Thanksgiving break camping so I decided to really surprise the hubs.  The kids and I cleaned the house.  I rearranged the furniture in the kitchen and the living room.  Our love seat was in front of the wood stove, so that had to be done anyway in order to use our stove and make room for the Christmas tree.  I had the kids haul the Christmas tree and decoration boxes in from storage and we got everything put up and the boxes put back away so that he wouldn't have to do that when he got home.  I was actually pretty proud of our efforts!  The house looked great and we made sure Dad wouldn't have to lift a finger to help with the decorating!
I talked to him on the phone that afternoon and told him I wanted to decorate the tree that night.  (I even had all the ornaments out, made sure they all had hooks, and placed them neatly in a basket so we could just hang them as soon as we were ready!)  He immediately started going through the list of all the things we would need to do, like move furniture and vacuum under it, etc, etc.  I just played along, absolutely giddy at the thought of him coming home and seeing we had already taken care of everything!  I could not wait to see his face when he got home and saw we had taken care of everything, including putting up the tree and me shoving furniture all over the living room with my hip!  
So, anxiously, I awaited his arrival home, counting down the minutes, and.... enter "Scrooge."  It had started raining and he'd been unloading cattle feed in the rain and had apparently had a bad day at work.  So, A.  He didn't even notice anything at first, except the fact that our son's shoes weren't where they were supposed to be.  B. When our daughter said, "Look, Daddy! We got the tree up!"  He walked in the living room and said, "Oh, yea?  Thought I was supposed to help with that."  
Yep.  That's all the reaction I got.  Talk about deflated!!  (Don't worry, he apologized profusely later!)  Luckily I had to go to the grocery store, so it gave me an excuse to lick my wounds alone instead of sulking and making random sarcastic comments, which is the general unhealthy way I initially react to having my feelings hurt.  
I was in the car, driving to the store to get apple cider for our cozy little family tree decorating that I didn't even want to have anymore when God gave me a little nugget of wisdom and love.  I was feeling so sorry for myself because my husband wasn't pleased with all my efforts towards him and God told me that HE was pleased with my efforts.  He let me know that even though my husband (who is only human, even though he is absolutely TOP OF THE LINE human.) didn't appreciate what I'd done immediately, that God had had watched every move I made. He'd actually seen the painstaking lengths I'd gone to in order to honor my husband and do something I thought would mean a lot to him.  He let me know no matter what accolades I got from the people in my life, that my main goal should be serving HIM and that anytime I was serving his people, I was serving Him and it made Him proud.  
Sometimes I do get to feeling sorry for myself.  Sometimes I feel like a short order cook, a personal shopper and life planner for everyone around me with very little thanks. I do a LOT of serving in my job.  And, trust me, 1 year olds never say thanks for changing their diapers and I have 3-4 preschoolers who ask me for their drink EVERY day before I can get it set down on the table.  But, all it takes is to put God at the top of it all to get a little perspective.  Taking care of my family and taking care of my daycare kiddos is something God values very much and if I just make sure that my motivation is HIM and not this world, it makes everything I do of so much more value.  The world sees me in my sweats, with spit up on my shirt and labels me as babysitter.  God sees me and he labels me as His princess who is carrying out some of His most precious and valued work.  
So, after a little time to cool off and a little time alone with God, I was able to come back home with a renewed spirit and a different attitude.  As I said, my husband was very apologetic and appreciative after he got in out of the rain and settled down some.  We decorated our tree, read a Christmas story, and watched a movie.  I could have ruined the whole night with my attitude and been mad and started a fight and lost sight of the whole point of what I set out to do in the beginning.  Because I lost sight of my motivation.  Although I adore my husband and children, they can't come before God.  As long as he is first, the rest falls in to place.  As long as HIS approval is what I'm seeking, no one else can really let me down. 

An excellent wife who can find?
   She is far more precious than jewels.
The heart of her husband trusts in her,
   and he will have no lack of gain.
She does him good, and not harm,
   all the days of her life. -Proverbs 31:10-12

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Temptation comes in disguise!

5 Then the devil took him to the holy city and had him stand on the highest point of the temple. 6 “If you are the Son of God,” he said, “throw yourself down. For it is written:    “‘He will command his angels concerning you,
   and they will lift you up in their hands,
   so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.’ - Matthew 14:5-6

Even Jesus was tempted by Satan.  And as you read this verse, you see that Jesus wasn't being tempted to do something obvious like kill someone or steal something or use the Lord's name in vain.  In fact, I think a lesser someone might have listened to the devil's words and thought, "Hmmm.  If I did that and the angels caught me, man, that would really be a testimony to God's power, huh?"  (Because this lesser person just found herself in a similar situation!)
Early in our walk with Jesus, I think we tend to put a lot of focus on making sure we are doing all the obvious things right.  We have those ten commandments as a check list and it's like: "Okay.  Didn't kill anyone today.  Check.  Loved my neighbor.  Check.  Didn't commit adultery.  Check, check."  And, we think we are good to go.  However, as we walk deeper in to our faith, we should start to be able to discern when we are being under attack.  Satan's no dummy.  I've never once in my life wanted to personally kill someone, so when I'm being attacked, it probably won't be in that area of my faith.  It will come at a very vulnerable point in my life.  Somewhere I am weak.  Somewhere that could hurt me deeply or somewhere that might confuse me or make me doubt.  Things like pride and lust and condemnation sneak up on us slowly until they have taken up residence in our lives and we don't even see it happening!  Think about what attacks might hit you the hardest.  Think of the things in your life that you are most emotionally tied to.  When something starts going on there, you start acting out of emotion instead of intellect.  Sometimes it is like getting punched in the gut and then trying to breathe.  Or like drowning and trying to swim up for air and fight the waves.  You go in to automatic pilot and you react with the first impulse that comes to you - which is usually a very human impulse.  And, we all know that our human sides aren't our best sides.
Recently I found myself in a situation where I literally did not know what to do.  I didn't know what the RIGHT thing was to do.  I had two voices in my head and neither one sounded bad or evil.  Neither voice told me to kill anyone or to quit loving people.  In fact, it was the opposite.  And, I was anxious and confused.  So, what do you do in that situation?  Here's what I did:  I prayed.  I read the word.  And, when that still didn't do it, I sought Godly counsel on the situation.  And, that was like lifting a veil that had been over my eyes!
On a Wednesday night I was feeling led to share my issue with my bible study class and I was fighting it.  Because, believe it or not, I don't like to talk about emotional stuff to people.  I know I can sit here, writing, and spill my guts to a very public audience, but get me face to face and I'm going to clam up.  Anyway, I decided to share and it was just amazing how the people in the room had exactly the words I needed and exactly the life experiences to pull from in order to illustrate what the RIGHT and GODLY thing was to do in the situation.  I was floored!  And, suddenly some thing became very evident to me.  I am under attack.  Under attack at the very most vulnerable point I have.  My kids.  And, the voice in my head that was telling me what a great Christian I would be if I reacted a certain way was also tugging at my pride.  (A little pet sin of mine.)  I was buying in to how great I would be if I did things a certain way, not how much God would be glorified.  And, that should have been my first clue, but I just couldn't see it!  I was too emotionally charged to look too far past myself.
I think one of the biggest temptations Christians face is how we react in situations.  Because, friends, situations are just part of life in this world.  As long as we follow Christ, we'll have things thrown at us.  Even our Christ himself endured that.  Our true test is our reaction to those things and the way we treat people.  Goodness, I have failed in that SO many times.  But, I am becoming more aware.  And, I know that I have to stop and take a breath before I react.  It's hard when you are blindsided to pause and decide what the right reaction is.  But, I think the more time we spend in God's presence, the more time we spend in His word, and the more time we spend with other people who are facing the same trials and can support us, the easier it will be to react as Jesus did: 
Jesus answered him, “It is also written: ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.’ -Matthew 14:7
In each instance, Jesus responded to the devil with the word of God.  If we do our best to stay completely filled with the spirit and if we decrease our humanity enough that God has room to take over our lives, then our responses and our discernment will be His, not our own.  It's what we should all be striving for.  

"But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you." -John 14:26

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Life is NOT always "All or nothing."

I'm discovering the "all or nothing" mindset is one of my big problems in many areas of my life.  I'm probably the worst "starter/stopper" there is.  I start things with a bang and then quickly fizzle out.  It is definitely not for lack of motivation or drive, but I think more from having unrealistic expectations of myself.
Example:  I decide to eat right and exercise.  I do great for a day or two... sometimes even three.  Then, I have a McDouble and a Dr. Pepper or I don't fit in a workout one day, and this voice in my head tells me I've failed and there is just no point in going on.  Start over again next week.  It's like a reset button in my mind.  Instead of viewing it as a little hiccup, I let those little things completely knock me down and then I sit there for a little while and just get further behind before I decide to stand back up and start again.
For some reason there's always been something in my head that required a start, middle and finish to everything.  Lifestyle changes have to start on Monday and your progress is tracked throughout the week.  But, who says?  Who says I can't make that decision on a Wednesday??  I mean, Mondays are probably the hardest time to stick with anything.  Mondays suck!
And, it is not just dieting.  It is house cleaning.  I look at the kitchen and instead of just using the few minutes I have here or there to do a few things, I look at it like it is a whole project that has to be tackled at once... or not at all.  I don't even consider that I can just clean out the microwave real quick, because that task is included in "deep kitchen cleaning" and I think I will tackle that very large project when I have time.  And, I never, ever have 2 hours to just deep clean my kitchen.  I have trouble focusing on the little things and taking pride in marking them off in my mind as small victories.  It's almost like cleaning out the microwave stresses me out more than it makes me feel accomplished because it feels like I've started something and not finished it.  I started deep cleaning the kitchen and then there's this imaginary checklist in my head where that task is still blinking (I don't know why it blinks, but it does.  I'm very visual!) all day long and I know I need to "finish" it.  Instead of just feeling like I finished cleaning the microwave. 
Yesterday was Wednesday.  I decided I am over myself and my bad habits and my weight, etc.  But, my husband brought McDoubles home for lunch and when I got off work, I knew I only had 45 minutes or so before I needed to leave for church.  So, even though I'd eaten healthy all day except the McDoubles.  (Yes.  I meant for that to be plural. :-/)  And, even though I've successfully gone without pop for the whole week, I felt like the day was a loss and since I didn't have 30 minutes to devote to a work out, that I should just give up.  Start again another day.  But!  I talked myself out of it!!  I told myself that 10 minutes of movement was better than no minutes.  And, I told myself that any excercise would help work off the stupid McDoubles!!  And, I set dinner down on the table for my kids, put on a sweatshirt and went for a 12 minute run/walk and didn't give up on myself. 
It will probably be years before I have hours and hours to devote to deep cleaning one room in my house at all once.  But, I am determined to reprogram my brain!  I can always find 15 minutes here and there to do thigs like polish cabinets and scrub baseboards.  I can fit 15 minutes here and there to work out, when I can't fit in an entire workout.  I can learn to believe that one food foul up doesn't totally eradicate all the good choices I've made.  (Because, believe me, I'm ALWAYS going to make some bad choices with food. I'm a southern girl.  We like our food!)  Over time, if I'll just give myself time, those 15 minutes are going to add up, and eventually I'm going to see a difference!!
I think sometimes instead of trying to have MORE determination and MORE motivation, we actually need to give ourselves a break in order to feel successful.  Celebrate the little victories in life!

15 minutes a day spent working on something, multiplied by 30 days = 7.5 hours.  Just think what my kitchen would look like if I deep cleaned it for 7.5 hours!!  ;)

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

I used to be skinny, too!!

I think being overweight would be easier for me if I hadn't, at one point in my life, had a 24 inch waist and been made fun of for being too skinny.  Hearing a relative say to you:  "You were so tiny when you were young!  I just never figured you'd end up being a big person."  Living in the hometown and not having your childhood friends' parents recognize you.  It's humiliating!!
I remember being young and thinking, "I will NEVER let myself get fat!"  I totally looked down my nose at overweight people because I thought it was ridiculous.  Gaining weight was something that people could control, so why on earth would they let themselves get heavy?  Ahem.  Now I've been put in my place.
I still hear things along the lines of my old judgments.  "It's easy.  Just make good choices."  "Don't live to eat.  Eat to live."  Bla, bla, bla.  Here's the deal.  I got settled in to BAD habits.  Some of the skinny people look at me and just see "lazy" or think that I start the day with 3 chocolate donuts and a big glass of whole milk every day.  Here's the truth of the matter.  I became a mom at 20 years old and held down a full time job.  I became a single mom of 2 kids at age 23.  Now.  As a single working mother of two children, I was exhausted ALL the time.  With only my income, I couldn't really afford a gym membership, so working out had to be a video.  I couldn't really figure out a way to walk or jog with 2 small children in tow.  (Obviously I couldn't afford a fancy two kid stroller!)  My tiny apartment barely had room to move in the living room, but I'll be honest, the only time I could really work out would have been at about 6:00 am, and I just couldn't muster up the energy to drag myself out of bed any earlier than I had to already to get two kids up and around and ready to be out the door in time to get to daycare and work.  In all actuality, I spent my entire youth up until I had kids very active!  I always played sports and I ran because I loved it!  But, once I became a mom, I just totally lost sight of MYSELF.  It was all about my kids.  And, I now know that isn't healthy, because I need to take care of myself in order to be the best parent to my kids, but back then I just didn't see it.  
Also, I did develop a bit of an eating disorder.  I had a lot going on, emotionally, and I started using food to comfort myself.  I started working at a child development center where we were required to sit down, family style, at the table with the kids with a plate in front of us.  So.... I ate.  When I rushed out of the house to get to work, having only had coffee, then sat down at a table with a plate of food in front of me, well, it was hard to not eat.
Eating healthy and working out takes time and preparation and planning in today's world.  Time was something that was a precious commodity in my early twenties!!  Then, I got married at 27 and having another person to help parent my kids with me made me see just how spread thin I had really been as a single parent! But soon after, I started back to school full time.  So, I was working full time, had 2 kids, and was going to school full time.  
Right now, at 31, I can look back over the past 11 years and see all the ways I should have incorporated a healthier lifestyle in to my world.  I can see how it is every bit as important to my family's quality of life as college degrees and quality time and clean laundry and dishes.  But, hind sight is 20/20, right?  Now, I am faced with eradicating 11 years worth of bad habits and trying to undo about 50+ pounds of damage I've done to my body and my health.  I've started this process of change so many times, it hurts to think about it.  
It doesn't seem fair sometimes that other people have higher metabolisms.  I do not sit around and eat donuts all morning.  I rarely even keep sweets or pop at the house at all. I usually don't eat a whole lot at all during the day (which I know is not healthy, either!).  I nibble here and there on whatever I've fixed for the kids, then I'm usually starving by dinner time!  There are other people who could eat the same things I do all day and not gain a pound.  I even look at empty calories and my blood sugar bottoms out and I gain 2 pounds.
I know that I am the only one who can make a change.  I know that in order to exercise, I am going to have to leave the laundry alone and go to bed at a decent time so I can wake up at 6:00 am to work out, in order to be ready for work by 7:00. I know I am going to have to make the time to prepare meals and plan my food ahead of time so that I am making healthy choices.  I know my metabolism will only go downhill from here.  I know I HAVE to do this for my health and my self esteem.  And, I know it won't be easy.
But, I want so badly to not have to say, "I USED to be skinny." I can do it!!!

Thursday, November 3, 2011

The Power of Prayer

This isn't really "my" story to tell, so I won't go in to major details.  But, it has been on my heart and you know how I am about that... ;)  Gotta' write it down.
When I was 19 a "near-tragic" event took place in my home town.  I say "near," because no lives were lost.  But, it was a life altering event for my family and I.  On Dec. 6, 1999, a young boy opened fire on the middle school in our sleepy little town.  Several children were hurt, but none of them fatally.  Although, my little sister came close.  She was shot in the cheek and had to be life flighted from the school to a hospital that could handle the injury. An event where you lose or almost lose a person who means that much to you will forever change the way you look at life.  The way you look at "tomorrow."  It stole a piece of the whole town's security and peace that day.  It most definitely took something from our family, but God in all his infinite glory, gave us back ten-fold.  He gave us the gift of NOT taking tomorrow for granted.  He gave us the gift of renewed faith in Him.  He gave us the gift of knowing how extremely precious each moment is with the ones we love.  And, he gave each person in our family a similar, yet unique testimony of faith and answered prayers.
I was 19 at the time and had no idea that I was also about to become a mother.  That at the very moment my sister's life was ALMOST taken, I was in the process of creating a new one in my womb.  And, until I had my own children and experienced the crazy amount of love I had for them, I didn't even realize what it was like for both of my parents to experience the brief time they did where they thought they lost my sister.  I can't even stomach it.  No one should have to endure losing a child.  Although I know people do everyday and I know God can repair any wound, I grieve for those people so strongly.
Which brings me to fear.  THAT is my biggest fear.  And, it is very real to me.  It is very real that I have to drop my oldest off at middle school next year.  That she will be exactly the same age as my little sister, she will stand in the same spot.  I'll leave her there without me and know that although it is unlikely, it happened once before in the most unlikely of places.  I had that part of me stolen where you believe that school is a safe place where bad things don't happen and yet I have to take my kids there anyway and trust that they will be okay.
That's hard, isn't it?  It's my biggest downfall as a follower of Christ.  I worry.  I'm anxious and have been known to make myself physically ill worrying over things.  Having children brought that to a whole new level for me.  But, I have to look at the example of my mother.  My mom works in a town about 20 minutes East of where we grew up (and where we still live).  Every morning on the way to work she prayed for us kids.  In the exact moments that my sister was about to face one of the scariest things in her life.  In the moments when she was struck with a bullet, and lay by herself in a pool of her own blood, my mother was praying.  She was praying specifically that God would send his angels to wrap their wings around all her children.  Thank God for her.  My sister wasn't alone.  God protected her and all the kids at that school that day.  There was a thick fog over our town - just our little town that day.  It lifted as soon as you drove out of town in either direction.  I've heard people tell of the fog seeming to have a bit of sparkle in it.  There were teachers at that school, who, without a second thought about their own safety, ran out and put themselves between danger and the kids.  (Angels on Earth)
Tragedies happen all the time.  And, none of us knows the intent of our God.  But, I believe without a doubt that the "near" part of the tragedy I'm talking about is because that little school in that sleepy little town was COVERED in prayer.  Not long before this happened, a group of people from the town had come and walked around the campus, praying for the kids there. And, my mom was praying that morning, among many other parents, I'm sure.  
Sometimes I begrudge the fact that my job doesn't allow me to be one of those parents who is actively at the school, helping in the classroom, attending the parties, etc.  But, it dawned on me today that what better could I do than to commit to pray for my kids and their teachers and the school staff EVERY SINGLE day at the start of the school day?  Prayer is powerful.  Prayer works.  Who's with me??

"For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you
in all your ways"
Psalm 91:11

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. -Phillipians 4:6

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

It's like a punch to the gut in the dark

There I am, going about my day, when the hubby calls me from work.  Which isn't unusual because we usually talk on the phone every afternoon.  But, when he calls me at 10 am, I know it's for a reason.  And, I know him well enough to know instantly the tone of his voice and this wasn't a happy call.  Our pediatrician had called him to tell him our youngest needs to see a specialist.
She has been really prone to getting sick her whole life.  She got strep throat at 4 months old, then had it between 8 and 10 (confirmed) times in the next year.  Along with about as many ear infections, RSV, Pneumonia, and a few upper respiratory issues.  Her first year and a half was exhausting for all of us.  But, we soon realized that she had a milk allergy and we took her to an Ear Nose and Throat Specialist. (Dr. Tracey Childers has performed 3 different surgeries for our family and we LOVE her!  She is very devoted to her patients and caring!)  She had tubes put in and we got her on some allergy meds and things improved quite a bit!  However, she still got sick a lot more than our other two ever had.  There have been numerous times she's woken up, after acting absolutely fine the day before, with a HIGH fever.  With no explanation.  (I'm talking 104-105 degrees, high)  The last time it happened (she is 2 and a half now), I finally told her Doctor that I am concerned about her immune system.
He looked back over her chart and told me my concerns were valid, but that she seemed like a healthy child. Her skin looks good, her eyes are bright, etc.  But, being a VERY thorough doctor, he ordered a battery of tests to be done to make sure her immune system was doing its job.  We were really concerned, until a week or so later the office called us to tell us that everything looked normal.  Whew!!  I knew her tests had to be sent out to a different lab so there was a possibility they may not all be in, but we were relieved anyway.
That's why when they called us that morning to tell us there were some abnormalities, it was like being blindsided.  Our Doctor tells us not to worry and that he just wants to have the specialist check it out to see what he thinks.  But, we have no idea what exactly the doctor is checking for. We don't know what the test results mean with regard to OUR daughter.  Of course, I've googled.  And, that's usually a bad idea, because you start seeing the "C" word (cancer) and other awful things that are the stuff of every parent's nightmares.  And, I just can't go there.
But, what about all those people who are forced to "go there?"  Who are faced with gut wrenching news about their child?  Who lose a child?  Who daily face losing a child??  Who go through awful months, or even years worth of watching their child battle severe illnesses, with no way to "make it better." My heart goes out to those parents, because I cannot imagine it and I hope I NEVER have to live it.
So, while we wait for our appointment, I battle in my heart over the right words to send up to God.  Of course, I've had my cry, praying over her, begging God to just make her okay and to not make me have to deal with any of the aforementioned tragedies.  But, ironically, I've found myself thanking Him more than anything.  No matter what, I'm thankful for the gift of my three beautiful children and the 11+ years he has given me as their Mother.  I'm never guaranteed tomorrow.  I thought about the 2 episodes I had with my baby girl where I thought I was losing her while I was pregnant and how fervently I prayed for God to let me keep her and He did.  He didn't give me a number.  He didn't tell me how long I got to keep her - or any of my babies.  My, as every parent's, hope, is that they will all three put me in the ground at a ripe, old age.  But, bottom line is this:  They aren't mine.  They are HIS.  And, he loves them so much more than I do, although I just can't fathom that.  So, all I can do is offer my little red-head up to Him and know that He will take care of her and I can only be thankful for every blessed day He gives me with her.
And, next year, when my oldest starts middle school and I have to drop her off in that same spot where my baby sister was shot, all I can do is wrap her in a prayer and know that she is His.  And when they start to drive, and date, and go to college....... You get the picture.  It's all scary stuff.  This world is scary!  Luckily, this world isn't where my treasures are.  And, my kids are the greatest treasures I could possibly store up in Heaven.  So, that's what my focus has to be!  On THEIR eternity.  

Friday, October 14, 2011

Courageous, the movie

If you haven't seen it, go see it.  If you are a parent or prospective parent, it is a must!  This movie literally changed me.  I have rededicated my role as a parent.  

My husband and I went to see it together as a "date" of sorts.  It is a perfect movie for men and women.  There was lots of action and we could both relate to what the people were dealing with in the movie.  I must warn you, though,it is a tear jerker, for sure!  Bring your tissues.  It is an excellent reminder of what is really important in life.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

It's not easy teaching responsibility!

So, my 5th grade daughter decides to run for Student Council President.  I was proud of her and I spent Sunday afternoon/evening HELPING her make posters.  We brainstormed together and came up with slogans.  I helped her stencil letters on to construction paper and cut them out.  But, for the most part, she made them herself.
She calls me today, in tears, because they are doing their speeches today and she forgot.  I was a little puzzled as to what exactly she wanted me to do.  I suggested that she write a few things down in her free time before the speeches, but she told me she didn't have free time.  I told her she was super smart and funny and that she would be fine if she just got up there and made a speech.  She didn't like that idea, either.  It eventually came out, through her heart wrenching tears, that she wanted me to write a speech for her and bring it up to the school.
Uhhhhh.  No.  I replied, "Sis, I would have been more than happy to HELP you write a speech, but I'm absolutely not going to write it for you."  To which she replied that a lot of the parents had written their kids' speeches.
You have to know that my first impulse is to save her.  To write out a speech, somehow get it to the school for her and fix all this for her.  But, I squelch that desire.  At what point do we start passing the torch?  What would it teach her if I saved the day for her?  And, why do parents do their kids projects for them?  How could she feel any intrinsic pride if she got Student Council President after I made posters for her and wrote her a speech out?  That would be MY student council win - not her's.  However, the flip side of that is this:  The kids whose parents do their work for them tend to be the ones that get the high praise and win the Student Council seats.  So, what does THAT teach her?  That her efforts aren't good enough?
Parenting presents these ever present gray areas where you just don't know exactly what the right thing is to do.  As much as I want her to be happy with me and as much as I want to shield her from disappointments, I know my JOB is to get her ready for life.  If I write her a speech and bail her out now, it isn't a big deal.  It's 5th grade student council.  But, when do we let them learn these hard lessons?  When they are older and the stakes are higher?  When it's a due date for a college scholarship application that they don't bother to remember because someone has ALWAYS bailed them out of "forgetting."  Or when they go out on their own and have bills to pay, but don't think they have to remember because they've never been responsible for remembering anything?  I'd rather her blow her Student Council speech and learn a lesson the hard way in 5th grade than learn it by losing a scholarship her Senior year.  Or do I just fill out all her college scholarship applications for her, too, so that she will measure up to all the other kids' whose parents do it for them.  And, then hope that after I release her out in to the world, she somehow figures out how to do things on her own?  Not a chance.  I want her to figure it out NOW, while is still at home with our big, huge safety net underneath her.
But, then again.  Maybe I've got it all wrong!!!  That's the tough thing about parenting.  There's no handbook!!  But, one thing I do know about parenting.... I'll ALWAYS be there for her.  So, I'm gearing up for some TLC this afternoon when she gets home from what will probably be a disappointing day.  :-(

I have read some great books on this subject by Jim Faye and Charles Faye.  I encourage you to check them out!

Parenting with Love and Logic Website

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Corn Bread Casserole

Now.  By no means do I claim to be the first person to have invented this little gem or the creator of the idea!  I'm sure it's been done and done.  But, anyway.  This is my EASY version of a meal that my family actually really likes! 

Here's what you need:

2 corn bread mixes (I use the "not sweet" kind)
1 can of Rotel
Some cheese (I use colby/jack - preshredded!)
1 can of corn
1 lb of hamburger meat, browned
Some sour cream (if you want!)

So easy!  Brown your meat (I add in cumin, onion and garlic powder, salt, and chili powder while I'm browning!), make your corn bread mixes as per directions on the package, mix up the meat, corn bread, drained rotel, drained corn, and however much cheese you'd like!  Put it in the pan and bake it according to the directions on the corn bread mixes!  I like to eat it with a little bit of sour cream on top.  Yummmm!  Get creative!  You could put all kinds of stuff in the corn bread mix!  Try sausage or jalapenos (if you like a kick!)

P.S.  This reheats well!

My domestication requires lowered expectations!

On my (what I suppose will be lifelong) quest for total domestication, I am suddenly enjoying cooking.  Hmmm.  Strange.  Baking, new recipes, and the like.  Hamburger Helper should be jealous right about now!
Do not misunderstand me!  I am not referring to the kind of baking that requires a rolling pin (No clue where mine is. I only have one because it was my grandmothers and I keep it for nostalgic reasons.), flour all over the kitchen, or even baking powder.  I am in to what I like to call: CHEATING COOKING!  What is that?  Glad you asked!  Well, this morning I cooked some adorable little breakfast puffs that in some parts of the world might have a name in another language and a nice shiny egg white or butter coating.  Not here.  Here, I simply bought some crescent rolls (the always save, on sale, cheapest ones they had!) and I fried up a little bit of Blue and Gold sausage and added some eggs.  I chopped up some green onion and some mushrooms.  (Not fresh mushrooms.  Just some I had in the fridge in a jar!)  Put it in a bowl, mixed in some shredded cheese (bought it that way.  My cheese grater is rather a lonely little thing!) and a little sour cream and just wrapped the concoction up in the crescent rolls and baked them!  Voila!  Also, I have some potato soup in the crock pot.  (And, I did not chop up ONE SINGLE potato!  I hate peeling and cutting potatoes with a passion!)  Here's the "cheating" recipe for that:  Easy crockpot potato soup recipe It required opening things and dumping them in the crock pot, but this evening, I will be queen of the kitchen as my family raves about what a wonderful meal it is!  (Families rave about lots of easy meals when they are used to Hamburger Helper!) 
In an ideal world, I would honestly love to be one of those wives/moms who cooks organic, from scratch meals, leaves out all gluten and processed foods, grows and cans all our own vegetables, and has no clue what the price of a "Wal-Mart birthday cake" is!  And, my hat is off to those ladies, in all sincerity!! But, alas, I have 3 children (2 of which are in sports), a husband, 2 dogs, 6 bonus children here for about 10 hours a day, and semi-poor time management skills.  So.  I need to cheat!  I need meals that take 5 minutes to throw in a crock pot and taste like I slaved over them for hours!  And, I'm kind of excited about my new found interest!  I'm on the prowl for super easy recipes!!  And, I have decided to share with you all, all of my best findings!
I made extra of my little breakfast puffs so we can eat them on the way to games Saturday, instead of spending $20 or $30 on breakfast from a convenience store!  Thinking ahead! Aren't you proud of me? ;-)

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Shutter jewelry holder

I love this! I bought an old wooden shutter  a local flea market. I used paperclips (unfolded) to hang my bracelets and necklaces. I hang my dangle earrings right on the shutter. 

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Overwhelmed with thankfulness

I just am really overwhelmed right now and I needed to write it down!! 

There are two main things that I really wanted for my life.  Some people want huge houses, great monetary success, prestige, fame.... Maybe those were things I thought about a LOT of years ago.  But, starting at about 19 years old, I had two things that if I were to have them, I knew would make me feel like my life was complete, successful in MY eyes and that I'd not be able to ask for more!

One was to be in a marriage to someone who treated me like an equal, respected me, understood me, loved me for ME, and most importantly adored and cherished me.  The other was to be able to stay at home with my kids and not have to work outside the home.

It dawned on me today: HELLO!!! I'VE GOT IT ALL!!!  My husband is amazing and treats me the same (40 lbs and dozens more stretchmarks later) as he did when we first were together... better, actually.  He's everything I could have ever asked for.

And, I'm at home with my kids.  My youngest will be 3 in December.  I haven't missed a beat.  I've been there for almost every diaper, meal, first, last, boo-boo, and milestone along the way.  I'm here when my kids step off the bus every day.  I'm here all Summer with them. 

None of it came about the way I would have planned it.  It unfolded so very slowly and meticulously that it was hard to even see the totality of it until I look back on it.  Sometimes we ask God for things and we want to snap our fingers and see it.  God knows so much more than we do and he knows how to work things out perfectly in our lives.  Getting to this point, for me, was NOT painless.  There were bumps along the way.  But, had there not been, I would not have the appreciation I have for it all now.

I feel very humbled right now and in some respects very ungrateful.  How could I EVER complain about ANYTHING?  How could I get discouraged or down in the dumps?? At 30 God has given me, already, the two main things I wanted out of life.  He took the two most important things to me on this earth - Love and motherhood - and entwined them in to this perfect culmination of things in my life.  Everything else is just details, right?  Low on funds one month?  Who cares!!!  I have a beautiful family and everything I could ever want that really matters!  I am blessed absolutely beyond measure.  God should ground me from the internet if I EVER complain again!!  ;-)

You turned my wailing into dancing;
   you removed my sackcloth and clothed me with joy,
that my heart may sing your praises and not be silent.
   LORD my God, I will praise you forever. -Psalms 30:11-12

Friday, June 24, 2011

An Open Letter to Satan...


I thought you should know that I am shrinking.  And, clearly that should scare you.  I am decreasing so that Jesus' spirit that lives in me can increase.  I had a rough year a couple of years ago.  Really rough.  And, it hurt a little, but I sensed then and know now that God was breaking me down.  Not so He could build ME back up, but so He would have more room to be housed within me.
I used to be blind to your tricks.  I wanted to be blind to you and pretend you and your realm of darkness did not exist.  But, I am learning and growing and I am more aware than I've ever been of your presence in THIS world.  I see you now.  I see how you pick at me and try to wear me down.  But, I also have been made aware of how weak and vulnerable my flesh is.  So, I don't depend on myself anymore.  True, I've been a Christian for over 18 years now, but I am truly learning what it means to die to myself now.  Fear, which has ruled me my whole life, is a useless emotion when I belong to the MOST HIGH.  I no longer blindly struggle against you.  More and more, I see you and your ways and more and more I throw my hands up in the air in surrender to the one who has ultimate power over you.  You can't touch me.  I am HIS. (Neener, neener!!)
Nothing in THIS world matters.  Not the money, not the things, not the worry, not the sickness, not the sorrow, not the death.  Is it painful?  Oh, yes.  You know misery and pain and inflict it wherever you can.  But, I tell you now.  Go somewhere else.  Because my eyes are on the prize.  I will praise him in every storm.  I will forgive my enemies.  I will love when you want me to hate.  I will give my weaknesses to the Lord and I will NOT fight my own battles against you.  You battle me no longer.  You battle my God and we both know you have no chance with Him.  So, flee from me and mine, lest I stomp on your head with the supernatural power that is within me. You don't even know the amount of time I am in prayer silently, beseeching my God who hears my every thought. 
I am shrinking.  I am shrinking more and more every day and you know how powerful it makes me as I leave more and more room for the Holy Spirit to fill up my being and rule my life.  So, I have four words for you: GET THEE BEHIND ME.

He must become greater; I must become less. -John 3:30

Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. - Isaiah 41:10

The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid? -Psalm 27:1

Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the LORD our God.They are brought to their knees and fall, but we rise up and stand firm. - Psalm 20:7-8

Friday, May 27, 2011

Diets and Dog Poo - It's been a while....

I haven't updated in a while!  I hate to admit that my progress to this point is not where I thought it would be.  However, I am NOT beating myself up over it!  I changed courses a little bit.  I decided on using baby steps!!  I have determined that I will change things about my life (Because, after all, it is my life habits that got me where I am at...) one step at a time.  The first thing was to incorporate push ups in   to my daily routine.  May sound strange, but push ups are one of the most effective strength training exercises you can do.  They help your arms, core, chest, shoulders, and back.  So, I started out with two sets of 10 (girlie style!) every morning.  Then, I eventually moved up to 12, and on until I am now at 2 sets of 15.  Every morning.  Well, almost!  ;)  I think pretty soon I will add another set.  Eventually I will start doing military style!
The next step is cardio!  I am working on adding some cardio in to my day every day.  If I don't make it EVERY day, I don't get upset with myself.  I like to do it in the morning because it really increases my energy level all day, but again, if I don't get up, I don't beat myself up.  I just say, "No big deal.  I'll do it this evening."  I think Monday I am going to try, once again, to do the "Couch to 5k" running program. But, if like last year, I start hurting too bad from running, I'll just go back to walking and NOT BEAT MYSELF UP!  I think not being so hard on myself is going to be a key factor in sticking it out for the long haul!  Too many times in my past, I would get discouraged and quit the minute I messed up.  So, now, I am putting forth an effort to make changes I can actually stick to (instead of outrageous things like HCG and NO CARBS) and trying to make them part of my life one step at a time!

Friday, March 4, 2011

Diets and Dog Poo - Fizzgig and Soup

A relationship with a dog is very similar to a parent/child relationship.  It isn't like a dating relationship where you sit the dog down and say, "Listen.  This just isn't working out.  It's not me.  It's you."  HA!  But, I'll admit.  I'd been giving some thought to giving our lab, Ruth, to a good home.  Even though it would be sad and the kids would be sad.  And, I'd been looking on Craig's List every day at dogs that needed homes, dreaming of having a little indoor dog to love that would not be able to knock things over or leave horse-like piles of poo on my carpet!  Although I like Ruth a lot, I'd all but given up, as I looked out my kitchen window at 6:00 am one morning to see her in the neighbor's yard, looking over at our house.  I think maybe she was actually looking at ME through the window, as if to let me know where she was at so I wouldn't be worried....

So, I sat the hubby down and told him:  "I think we need to find Ruth another home.  This is just ridiculous.  We can't keep her in ANY kind of fence, when she's been cooped up in that little kennel, she's just too hyper for the kids to handle.  She's too much to keep in the house."  Now, I assumed he would be all for this because he's just not a big pet person.  He expects animals to earn their keep.  Coon hounds and cows - they have a purpose.  Dogs are just another mouth to feed and more responsibility.  Surprisingly, though, his exact words were: "Naw.  I don't want to do that."  Huh?!  Was it possible that he'd grown attached to the crazy dog??  He said he would fix the kennel so she couldn't get out and he would work on putting in a buried electric fence system to keep her in the yard.  I love this guy.

However, my longing for a little lap dog would not go away.  I don't know what the deal was.  I guess maybe because my youngest is 2, talking in complete sentences, potty trained and letting me know what color she wants of everything?  Maybe the good ol' baby fever is kicking in and I know the closest I can ever come again will be a puppy?  I don't know.  But, when Mom called me about some puppies someone she knew was trying to get rid of that were half Shih Tzu, half Jack Russell Terrier I was intrigued!  And when the lady sent me a picture of three little fluff balls, I instantly fell for one of them.  It was a little brown and white sleeping puppy, all spotted fur!!  I had to have her!  So, I worked up the nerve to ask the hubster if he'd be on board.  He of course, said it was up to me and I needed to make sure I wasn't biting off more than I could chew.  I don't know why I expected a resounding NO out of him, but I did.  I really, really love this guy!

Eagerly, I told the lady that I would get the pup the next day - Friday!  Then, I remembered I was having two wisdom teeth pulled Friday.  Oh, well, I thought.  I'll have Mom get her on her way home and I'll be fine to take care of her... and my three kids.  And, we had a livestock auction to go to the next day.  No big deal.

Fast Forward to the dentist's office.  Now.  I realized this was a "difficult extraction."  I knew one tooth was sideways and not through the gum.  So, I assumed they'd have to cut my gum.  And I knew they might have to break to tooth some to get it out.  I was nervous.  And unprepared.  The dentist asked me, "Are you nervous?"  I, of course, responded with a yes.  His next words are not what you want to hear as you are sitting down in a dentist's chair.  "You should be.  This isn't going to be easy."  Then he and the assistant were throwing words like "surgery" around.  I was having actual surgery, only I was going to be awake for it.  Lovely.  This was definitely going to help my irrational fear of the dentist.

So, he let me know the risks, like the chance that part of my lip could end up permanently numb and that there was a possibility of puncturing my sinus cavity and that the tooth was on a nerve so it was going to hurt no matter what and there was nothing he could do about it.  And, he told me how I needed to lay down afterwords and not talk and I needed to be "off duty " for a day or two to recover and keep my blood pressure down so the clotting would do it's thing.  Then, after he started there was talk about how much tissue he was having to cut through and about sewing the muscle back together and how it was going to feel like he sewed my mouth shut.  Hmmm.  Maybe this new puppy thing should have waited until NEXT weekend!

So, I went home and lay down until Mom showed up with my little fur ball who I named Fizzgig.  (Most people look at me like I'm crazy, but the name comes from one of my favorite childhood Jim Henson movies, The Dark Crystal.  Fizzgig was a little rolling, fuzzball Muppet creature.)  I tried to stay down as much as possible and my oldest daughter was more than happy to help out with the new family member.  I was up quite a bit that night, but I got to sleep in the next morning.

Now, having been unprepared for my dental ordeal, I had NOTHING in the house I could eat.  I tried to eat the dirty rice that the hubby (with lots of my help) made for dinner, but no matter how much I mashed the rice it kept wanting to get stuck in the gaping holes in my gums.  So, I drank some coffee the next morning and tried to get ready for my mom's Scentsy party at 2:00.  However, I kept feeling like I was going to throw up or pass out, or maybe both at the same time.  So, I asked my sister to stop and get us on her way to Mom's.  She did, of course, being the wonderful sister she is.  And she brought a friend!  So, here I am, half dressed, trying not to pass out in a pool of my own puke, my house a WRECK (because houses quickly get wrecked when moms spend much time at all lying around), and in walks my little sister and her very cute, neat, put together friend.  MORTIFIED!  So, I put on my best "I'm fine act" (because if I hadn't, she would have insisted on driving me) and told her I'd be ok to drive if she'd run the errand for me that mom had asked me to run.  Because A. I was not about to try to cram me, two of my kids and a dog in to the backseat of my sister's two door sports car. And B. I was not about to let this girl I'd never met even look in the windows of my van which is usually in a very pit of despair-ish kind of shape.  Trash in the floor, clothes all over, sticky stuff on the windows.  Nope. My pride would not allow it!  So, I suited up, got us all out the door and my husband walked to the window of the van to tell me good bye and instead said, "Don't take this wrong, Baby, but you look bad.  Are you okay?"  "Yep.  I'm fine.  I just need to eat something."  And, I did!  I knew my blood sugar had spiked or plummeted or something!  I just did not feel right at all. I had gone in to survival mode.  And, I knew my survival depended on getting to my Mommy as quick as possible without throwing up!

I made it.  I got us all in the door and in true Momma fashion, she took one look at me and said, "Are you okay?"  And, amidst the room full of Scentsy partiers, I said, "Yea."  And, I quickly walked to the kitchen.  As soon as she could get away, she was in there with me and I broke in to tears.  "What's wrong?"  Me: "I don't know.  I don't know why I'm crying!  I think I just need to eat!"  Ha!!!!  What I really needed was to have a milk shake and go lay down in a quiet room for about 10 hours and let the pain pills work their magic without having to take dogs to potty or feed kids or find binkies!  But, instead, I opted for some yogurt and chicken noodle soup (minus the noodles) and I tried to join in the scent sniffing festivities.  And, I went to the livestock sale to watch my girl "auction" her show heifer.  Then I went to El Chicos, one of my all time favorite Mexican restaurants and was tortured with chips and dip while I sipped soup.

I spent 5 days on an almost totally liquid diet.  And, I'm pretty sure that when I weigh myself Monday, you won't even be able to tell!  But, on a good note, I am head over heels for my new puppy!  And, so far we are on day 7 with only one tiny pee-pee accident!  My days of dog poo may be over for good!  But, the diet is still there.......

Top: Jim Henson's Fizzgig.  Bottom: My Fizzgig.  She found a binky!

Twirl (A VERY rough draft)

You were laying in the grass,
warm golden sun on your face.
Pig tails, innocence and lace.
A sweet breeze stirred your soul.
You got up and twirled about.
You don't remember; it was long ago.
But, He remembers everything,
though you thought you were alone.
He watched you dance, heard you sing,
He delighted in your silly song.
And when you were done, 
He cradled you with the warm spring sun.
and sent the wind to whisper you to sleep.

What hurts you must have
to give it all up for a man.
Who made you feel unworthy of
the very best kinds of love?
Oh, it hurts so much to watch you
passing your painful torch to
the ones who are looking for Him now.
Who made you feel less than?
Who hurt that little girl?
This was not your father's plan.
He wants to see you twirl.
Oh, He loved to watch you twirl.

You've been in love before;
It's fleeting - you try to hang on.
Try to keep that man's heart beating.
You are sure he's the one.
You'll give all your gifts away,
if only for a moment.
And, in the end they just feel stolen.

Only God will hold you
the way you really need.
Only God will send you
the love of your dreams.
Only God will be there
when the world turns away.
And only God remembers
Every single thing.

What hurts you must have
to give it all up for a man.
Who made you feel unworthy of
the very best kinds of love?
Oh, it hurts so much to watch you
passing your painful torch to
the ones who are looking for Him now.
Who made you feel less than?
Who hurt that little girl?
This was not your father's plan.
He wants to see you twirl.
Oh, He loved to watch you twirl

Don't you see her watching you?
Trying to decide who to be.
When was the last time she twirled in the grass?
Does she know she's lovely?

He loves to watch her twirl.
He never wanted you to stop.
Take his hands and twirl.
Don't ever let her stop.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Diets and Dog Poo - Flu and the frozen puppy

I have had the flu.  I haven't felt very well for the past two weeks.  So, I've just eaten whatever and I sure haven't worked out. Not to mention that the tons of snow we've gotten has just been a little depressing!  Something about being snowed in the house just makes me want to wear pajamas all day, sit on the couch with a blanket, and eat everything in sight!  Am I the only one??
My routine is all off.  The kids have been out of school for a week and a half.  I haven't really had any of my daycare kids for that long as well.  Also, I spent a few days in a cold medicine stupor.  I am such a creature of habit.  If my routine gets off kilter, everything else does, too.  So, no healthy eating and exercise lately!  :-(  Hopefully it didn't put me too far behind my goal.  I will start back Monday with gusto!
And, then there is poor Ruth.  The temperatures have been well below 0 F the past couple of nights.  The silly dog refuses to go bed down in the barn on the open part of my brother-in-law's shop.  Oh, I forgot to mention that she has also figured out how to break out of her outdoor kennel that has a closed in area to protect from wind and cold.  I covered a laundry basket in a trash bag and put it up against the grill with a cardboard box around it and a blanket draped over to try to give her a place to lay that would be protected from the cold, but I worried about her so much!  This morning she seemed fine.  She was laying sprawled out on a patch of dry concrete, sunbathing.  I've been considering trying her indoors again.  Am I crazy???  I need a big, giant dog crate....

Saturday, February 5, 2011

My spirtual project this year...

Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. 1 Peter 4:8
 I'm seeing a theme in my life.  It seems to go by years, for the most part.  God gives me a part of myself to work on and he throws little projects my way.  Last year was very much about learning humility, letting go of pride and forgiveness.
I'm pretty sure the above verse is what this year is all about.  I'd like to give a big shout out to one Joyce Meyer  for bringing the verse to my attention.  I love her, but man does she call me out sometimes via that TV broadcast in the mornings!
So, this will apply more to the ladies, but how many of you out there have that 1 or 2 people who you consider your "safe" people to talk to.  You know, you get highly irritated with someone, so you pick up the phone and call your BFF or your mom or your sister, maybe even your husband, and "vent."  After all, that doesn't count as gossip, right?  You know it won't go any further than that person, so it's safe to "vent."  And, by vent, I mean GRIPE and JUDGE and TALK BAD ABOUT BEHIND SOMEONE'S BACK.  I mean, sure, it may very well stop with that person, but does that make it ok? And, heck!  Sometimes we get so upset we don't care if the person we are talking to is "safe" or not!  We'll rant and rave to whoever is within ear shot... and then regret it later.
I'm not going to lie to you, I do it!  Sometimes it feels like I just HAVE to get something off my chest!  Someone is taking advantage of me, someone is doing things differently from how I think they should be done, someone hurt my feelings, or someone said something out of line to me.  All this is by MY standards.  But, honestly, how many times do we say a prayer for those people?  How many times do we stop and talk to God about the situation instead of grabbing the phone and sending a catty text to our "safe" person?  Because: A. That text isn't helping ANYONE.  and B. You gotta' be careful with those texts!  Sometimes they go to the wrong people!!!
I'm thinking that instead of judging someone for doing something differently than I think they should, I should see them through God's eyes!  I should realize that God loves this person immensely,  and he wants me to do the same.  I should do what I can to "cover" that person's sins.  I should help make up for their shortcomings where I can and realize that MY idea of a shortcoming is not everyone else's definition of the same.  When someone does something to really hurt me, I should talk to God first.  I should pray FOR that person that God might heal whatever is broken in them that made them act that way.
There's a fine line between being a good Christian and getting totally taken advantage of.  I think there have to be times when we stand up for ourselves and when we are open with people about how they are making us feel or if they are hurting us.  But, I think that we should really seek the Holy Spirit's guidance in how to handle those situations before we act on our impulses.  There's a humble way to approach someone and then there's anger, yelling and fits of rage that don't do ANY good!
Because, after all, the definition of gentle was once explained to me as this: Strength under control.  I have a ways to go, but I really am working on being less judgmental, thinking and praying before I react to others, and trying harder to help "cover" the sins of my sisters and brothers.  Because, God knows I have some things in me that I'd appreciate being covered instead of exposed!

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Independent Woman

We are snowed in here with some of the deepest snow I've seen in a while!  My husband has been sick with what seems to be a sinus infection, so yesterday I got the job of tending to the fire in our wood stove.  Right before bed last night my daughter came up to me and said, "Mom, how do you know how to do that?"  I told her I was in Girls Scouts and that I'd just been raised with a fireplace.  She seemed in awe of the way I was moving the logs around to stir up the coals and make sure there was room for air to flow up and ignite the fresh logs.  She surprised me when my ten year old said: "Mom, you're an independent woman, huh?"  She said it with pride.  It kind of took me by surprise because I wouldn't use "independent" as one of the main adjectives to describe myself.  I said, "Well.  I guess so, Sis.  That's just how my mom raised me.  She always told me there might not always be a man around so you have to be able to take care of yourself."  I told her the story of how my mom made my dad show me how to change a tire before I was allowed to drive.  I used to tease my mom by saying, "Aww, mom.  I can always find a man to do it for me."  She HATED that! Haha.  I have never seen myself as independent as my mom.  I've seen her roof a house, hang drywall, make dinner and sew clothes.  Part of me didn't want to be like that.  Part of me wanted to be the "little woman" and have a man take care of me.  But, last night as I saw myself through the eyes of my daughter, I realized I was proud that she saw me in that light.  She's seen me wait on my husband, make his plates, fold the family's clothes, etc.  But, she also knows that I can build a fire, change a tire and check my own oil.  She is seeing that I am a woman, I am feminine and delicate, but I can also take care of myself if need be and that I will stand my ground when I believe in something.  She's seen me let things slide off my back, but she's seen me believe in things enough to go to bat - she's seen me do it for her.  So, that makes me just a little bit proud of the example I'm showing her.  And, it also made me more aware of the fact that she is ALWAYS watching me!

Monday, January 17, 2011

Letting the Lbs go! - The before picture!!!

This is a picture of me at my 30th birthday outing.  UUUUuugh.  It pains me to look at this because this is not how I see myself in my own mind.  But.  At my 31st birthday there will be a new picture and I'll be over half way to where I want to be! Anybody want to join me??

Diets and Dog Poo - Not much poo these days!

Ruth got kicked back outside... twice.  Now it's for good.  When I woke up at 4 am to the smell of a big steamy pile of dog poo and and overturned trash can, she lost all indoor privileges.  Also, my youngest child is now completely out of diapers!  I'm talking stays dry all night!  Hallelujah!  Don't think this is the end of my journey with poo, though.  Hello.  I have a home daycare.  I imagine there will be plenty more diapers and house breaking in my future!  And, I don't care what anyone says, I think housebreaking a toddler is, by far, easier than a canine!
So, now my blog threads will just consist of the diet.  I am using a website called Spark People that tracks your calories in and out and a lot of other diet/health/nutrition info!  My goal is to lose 37 of the 57 lbs I need to lose by my birthday in May!  So... for anyone interested, you can follow my success!  I won't be posting my actual weight, but I will be posting my lbs lost.
And... dun, dun, duuuuun.... Before and after pictures!  OUCH.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Speaking of poo!

My youngest is now fully potty trained!!  Yay for me!  And, of course, here's a link to a video of her pooping in the potty.  She'll kill me someday for this, but it's SO hilarious!!
More Poo Poo

Diets and Dog Poo -I just put some chips up!

So, as you know, the HcG diet was a bust.  I think I'm done dieting.  My new goal is to conquer the basic math of body weight:  More output than input.  I'm basically just trying to eat less and work off more calories.  I'm not going to restrict myself of anything, but I'm going to try to make better choices.  Today for lunch I had a ham and mozzarella sandwich on a whole wheat roll with hot mustard and sauerkraut.  I also ate a few kettle chips.  Seriously, it was maybe 5.  And I had unsweetened tea to drink.  And, just now as I went through the kitchen, cleaning up, I just shut the bag.  I thought about grabbing a handful because that's what I would normally do, but I thought, "Nah.  I don't need 'em." And, I put them away!  Yay for me!!!!

Friday, January 7, 2011

Diets and Dog Poo - Hello, my name is Christin and I am a foodaholic...

There, I said it.  I quit HcG totally.  I quit everything again.  I fell off the wagon and I pigged out and it was glorious... until after.  As always.  I feel like I am battling a heroin addiction.  To some of you that will make sense.  To some of you, you will just think I am a fat, lazy, glutton.  And, that's fine.  But, I'm realizing that this is a true addiction.  All kidding aside.  And, I'm realizing I started this at a point in time in my life when things were very scary and out of control for me.  I used food to comfort myself.  I used food as a temporary high when everything else in my life seemed to be falling apart.  After that, as a single mom living on my own, supporting two children I had food stamps.  It wasn't something I was proud of, but I had to do it.  And, there was no extra money for anything!  No new clothes for me, not much of anything for the kids, and not a lot left over for entertainment.  It was all I could do to make ends meet.  But, I had that little blue card and we could go buy whatever we wanted to eat!  Food became my entertainment and one of the few things in my life I felt like I could control.  Maybe I couldn't buy my kids toys or brand new fancy outfits, but I could get them whatever special cereal they wanted and we could get ice cream and frozen pizzas every Friday night! And, it just stuck with me all these years.  Food is my vice.  So, I am NOT dieting anymore.  I am going to set small goals and I am going to conquer this just like I would a heroin addiction.  And, I'm not going to beat myself up for "falling off the wagon."  My goals right now are to: 1. Go to bed earlier. 2. Get up and work out every morning. 3. To try to eat smaller portions. 4. To add more whole foods to my diet like fruits and veggies.  Once I master those, I will move on to add more healthy things in to my life.
The other day I heated up some left over pizza.  I realized that I wasn't really hungry, I just really wanted the pizza.  It took a lot, but I took the pizza out of the microwave and I threw it in the trash.  Not a big deal for some people.  But, for me, it was the equivalent of an alcoholic pouring a bottle of booze down the drain.  And, I was proud of me!  It was a small step.  But, a step none-the-less!

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Today I cleaned my doors.

I've mentioned Fly Lady in a previous post.  I swear by this plan!  And, with a new year here I have decided to really get on track with it and keep my house in shape!  They have something called "Zone cleaning" where your home is divided in to 5 zones and for a week or so every month you concentrate on deep cleaning that area.  Eventually your house gets clean and stays that way!
This week is Zone 1.  That involves entry ways, porches, dining room.  Today I cleaned the outside of my doors and I realized something.  As a 30 year old, I have never cleaned the outside of my doors in any house I've lived in.  Okay, sure, I may have hosed one off here and there and if I owned a glass door, it got cleaned.  But, I went outside and I cleaned my doors and I was a little appalled!  My doors were dirty and the trim was dirty and there were cobwebs.
I looked at my doors like visitors would and I was pretty embarrassed!  I mean, this is the first thing people see as they walk in my house!  So, if you've ever come to my house and thought that I was a lazy bum because my doors are so dirty, let me tell you that's not the case!  I'm not a detail person.  I'm a big picture person.  So, I don't notice things like dusty doors and dirty trim and fingerprints by the doorknob.  I just see the whole front porch as a big picture.  So, don't worry, I will never notice the dust on your door.  And, for all you that do notice those things.... I'm on it!  ;-)