My Prayer for January

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Dear Lord,

The thing about being a follower of Christ is that seems so easy is to rely on you.

Yet, the thing that can be hardest for me, a follower of Christ, is to rely on you.

May this year, I rely more on you and not myself.

My January prayerIn a recent sermon, the preacher used a passage (shown in the photo) that I was unfamiliar with because it doesn’t seem to be applicable to me today.

But I was wrong.

I’ve been relying on me too long and it’s not working.

I want to give it all to you Lord.

I’ve been in the church my entire life so I would think it would be easy to consistently renew my mind, but, nah.

I have been and I will be working on getting out of my own way and to put more intentional focus on You, my precious Savior.

The key for me to understanding 1 Corinthians 14:14-17 was this:

My spirit prays, but my mind is unfruitful….  I will also pray with my understanding; I will sing with my spirit but I will also sing with my understanding.

Whoa.

I get it now.  Some people don’t understand what I’m saying when I praise you, the Holy Lord for everything.

I “get” that you provide for me, everything.

I “get” that it’s your possessions I’m taking care of the short while I’m here.

I “get” that your Son is to be glorified in everything.

I understand now and I feel blessed.

It is my prayer that someday I will speak in a tongue that someone else understands.  That someone else will be able to understand how much you, the Lord loves them and only wants the best for them.

Thank you for providing that wisdom my Lord to Jason to pass along to me.

In your Holy and precious name I pray,

Amen.


My Bucket List

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bucket list pic 3-2015You know those blog posts that start off with “When I was a little girl…?”

This is one of those blog posts so get ready –

When I was a little girl, I would dream of marrying a rich man.

No kidding.  I knew I would work, I knew I wanted to be a mom of two boys, I knew God and my mom loved me. (And yes, that means I really wasn’t sure about my dad or my brother, but that’s another story.)

I would tell my mom that he would be tall and handsome, and he would be wealthy so I wouldn’t have to worry about money ever again.

Those truly innocent dreams of my 5 through 9 year old self were a reflection of how I envisioned my life to be easier, not to have to worry like my mother, and to have a man who loved me and took care of me.

The last one in that list was an actual thing that I could see my mom struggling with. My father didn’t spend quality time with us the way fathers are supposed to, and I am the classic-text-book case of not having a father that loved his wife, did not take care of his family and was only there part-time because of selfishness and insecurities.

I could have written that textbook of the problems that come from not having a father around, but, as I’ve stated in previous posts, he’s gotten better the older he gets and will do almost anything he can for his grandchildren.

To quickly finish the story, my husband is the man of my dreams.

He and I got married young (19 and 20 years old,) and we first lived in a one bedroom studio apartment with second-hand furniture, a 16-inch black and white television, and a card table that we used to eat on.  Those were some of the greatest memories of my entire life.  I remember eating lots of potatoes, because I am not a great cook and because they were so inexpensive and I remember the love we felt back then between us because we didn’t have anything else.

My husband and I both graduated college, got good jobs, have purchased homes and he does well selling rubber stamps on remarks.rubbermarks.com.  Please feel free to check them out for custom rubber stamps of pretty much anything you could imagine.  We are very proud of that website and they are having a give-away this week with ten (10) ways to enter! Update: The giveaway is over, but check them out anyway! 😉

Remarks GiveawaySo that intro brings you to where I am at now.  When I was little, my bucket list consisted of marrying an amazing man, owning a home, having children and serving the Lord.

What happens when you do all that?

What happens when you try to plan?

What’s next…..


This entire subject is a bit difficult to talk about for me.
At the end of her life, I would often ask my mom the question: “What did you expect?” and that question would come when she and I were at an impasse of how I had to take time off from work to take her to a doctor’s appointment, or to the store late in the evening when I wanted to be at home with all three of my kids and my husband.  I would usually ask her that question after she told me that she was “sorry” I had to take her places.

She never actually answered that question.

I kind of wish she did.  I would have been blessed by the answer to know if she planned to marry another man, if she wanted to get back together with my father, or if she really thought her children would always take care of her.

I would tell her often, “This is the way it’s supposed to be” and I would tell her that because I believed it, and I knew if she heard me say it, it was going to make her feel a little bit better about her need for someone to take care of her.

<Big sigh.> I miss that woman but I’m glad she’s free.

Blessed is the one
who trusts in the Lord,
who does not look to the proud,
to those who turn aside to false gods.
Many, Lord my God,
are the wonders you have done,
the things you planned for us.
None can compare with you;
were I to speak and tell of your deeds,
they would be too many to declare.

Psalm 40:4-5

The bible tells me that the Lord has plans for us, and I truly believe that.

Jeremiah 29:11

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.

Psalms is my favorite book of the bible because of its wisdom BUT it also has a ton of warnings.

Psalm 94:11New International Version (NIV)

The Lord knows all human plans;
he knows that they are futile.

I think one of the hardest things to do as I have gotten older is to begin dreaming again.

Many times as a believer I’ve been challenged with the choice to do one thing for myself or do something for someone else in need and one of the greatest examples of this for any parent is usually things you do for your children.

And those are the moments for me that the Lord whispers in my ear that he is my parent too.  He wants me to feel the love of a parent sacrificing everything and anything so that I can enjoy this life.  I now know, and feel that it’s okay to dream again.

I’ve gotten better at dreaming and my screen shot above is my proof.  I started a bucket list on my cell phone. (I can’t get the credit for doing it as it was a friends idea first.) 

There’s a few more ideas in my head, including seeing a volcano and lava flow in real life, which our family hopes to accomplish in August in Hawaii.  I also want to start a Pinterest board with my bucket list items, including ones we accomplish.

My understanding of “bucket lists” is to think of things you really want to do before you leave this earth.  There’s a tinge of excitement that I have when I see this list, but with all the cautiousness of a well-trained Christian woman who knows that our time is short and we do not know when the Lord will take it from us.

I’m not writing this blog post for other people to read and have some profound moment of clarity.  I’m writing it for myself and my children, so that they know that if I make it to retirement age and beyond, I did everything I can to 1. serve the Lord, 2. take care of them, and 3. enjoy the life I’ve been given.  Three things my mom taught me and personally lived.

I believe there is a balance and I know the Lord wants us to enjoy his creation (lava flows), what others have done through his/her talents (Michelangelo’s art), and being a steward of the money we earn that is really His to begin with (hence, giving, giving, giving.)

With however much time I have left on this earth I want to live it to the fullest.  I pray and hope continuously that my family and I get the chance to do the things that please the Lord, as He is what it’s all really about anyway.

Is there anything on your bucket list?

Do you or did you have a hard time making a bucket list too?

Have a great week and continue to be and feel blessed friends.


Word of the Year – 2015

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Word of the YearAbout the same time last year, I posted my word of the year (it was pro-active.)

The year went well with that as my “focus” word or the word that I wanted to use to remind myself what my purpose was and what I was trying to accomplish for the year, up until I hurt my knee in June.  That incident threw my whole world out of control.

And I’m all about control.

This year I’m changing my focus seemingly completely.  I prayed about my “purpose word” for this year and one word seemed to stick out of all the rest that were swimming around in my head.

I wanted to take the control out of the word for this year.  I want it to be about what the Lord wants for me.

I want it to be what the Lord has blessed me with and how I can use those blessings, aka gifts, to glorify him and to serve him better.

I also want to bless others with gifts.  Not just the physical kind, but the “presence” kind.

My time is very valuable to me.  I want to be intentional about giving it as a gift, even when I don’t think I can squeeze it into my busy schedule.

I hope to blog about my giving.  It’s all about being blessed and being able to bless others.

I picked Proverbs 18:16 as my verse of the year. Word-year-verse(NIV version)

Have you picked a verse or word of the year?

What do you want to accomplish next year?  What kind of purpose do you feel compelled or lead to do for the year?  Can you sum it up in one word?

I hope you try to pick one word too and please, feel free to share it with me!


The Newest Addition to Our Family

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No, I’m NOT pregnant.  And I’m VERY HAPPY to say that.

This summer, our family became foster parents to two different furry-family members.

Fostering an animal is one of the most rewarding experiences for our family to date.  Sure we go to church and have helped build houses in Mexico and show love to people who wouldn’t may have felt Christ’s love, but this is different.

 St Francis de Sales Quote-Doing little thingsDoing little things with a strong desire to please God makes them really great. ~ St. Francis de Sales

 The Lord put man on earth to help care for the animals.  He put us over them.

Then God said, “Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.” ~ Genesis 1:26

I believe taking care of dogs are no exception.

In 2012, our yellow Labrador, Franklin, was no longer able to walk and had completely stopped eating.  I cried in my husband’s arms the night we knew our first puppy dog as a couple had to be put down because he was now suffering and the only option was expensive back surgery which may or may not have corrected the problem.  Franklin was 12-years old and we look at his photos with joy that he had a wonderful, full life and we were the ones that were blessed to take care of him.

 In 2013, through a friend on Facebook, I read about a program called Elder Paws Senior Rescue.

I don’t know about you, but sometimes I hear about something and I know – I JUST KNOW – that I want to get involved and help.

But, with a family of three growing children, a husband that doesn’t share in the “save every animal we can” mentality that I do, sometimes there’s not much I can do.

I heard that voice in my head (call it what you want) that whispered, “You can help them.”

Then the other voice, the voice of reason says, “No, you have other goals, other priorities, no time and other things to take care of right now.”

The voice of reason was winning the argument.

My mom had progressed in her diabetes to the point of kidney failure and was on dialysis three days a week. My husband and I were disagreeing on many things and (at the time) he was suggesting I needed to get healthier so I wouldn’t end up like my mother.  I had children’s birthday parties to plan, a Halloween costume to make and other things I needed (and wanted) to do with life than take care of another dog.

After having a heart to heart conversation with my husband about how I knew I was supposed to help this charity, and give my lonely mini poodle a friend, we agreed to send an application to be foster parents to one dog (at a time) and as soon as my mini poodle passed away, we would request that the foster dog we had would be the last.

My husband made it very clear that we were not going to get another dog.

 I sent in an application to become a furry-friend-foster mom in January of 2014.  We had a home inspection performed within a matter of a couple of weeks, and waited.

And waited.

And waited.

I helped out the charity when I could, creating a few postcards, talking about it with my friends, going and visiting the adoptable dogs at their events on occasion with my children and my mini-poodle to show the lady in charge that we were a good, nice family with a well behaved dog.

 I finally got contacted by the organization’s leader in early June that she had a dog that was capable of being with our children and she explained to me that most senior dogs were skittish around children, tended to nip them, and didn’t like loud noises.  I thanked her for just knowing that my children were loud.  (Because they are.)  She had a dog that was deaf, blind, and was very sweet with everyone he had met.

Our foster dog JafariOur first foster dog was named Jafari. We got him on June 29th. In the above photo, he is on the left and my mini poodle is on the right.

He was a sweet and wonderful bichon mix and was soft just like my mini poodle and just about the same size.

I had to take Jafari to the vet for an eye problem the third week we had him.

Jafari and I at the vet.He ended up needing more care than what my family was able to do for him and the organization’s leader was not only aware of it, but suggested that he be placed with a better suited foster for him.  My husband and I were again, so grateful that she had the foresight to even consider this and we took the offer.

He ended up with one of his eyes removed and the last time we saw him at an adoption event, he was wagging his tail, barking away at everyone and everything that would listen.  As of the date of this post he has not found a forever home and you can find out more about him here.

The organizations leader told me that she had another dog for us that was healthy and totally sweet around children.  He did seem to have a problem with men though and was a nervous dog.

We began fostering Reese on August 2nd. Reese's Journey - 1

Described to me as a Chi Masterson Terrier Mix, he was extremely timid the first day he came home with us.  He was not potty trained and growled, although not loudly, at my husband when my husband was around.  He had been on the kill list because no one had come to claim him at a local shelter and he was found wandering the streets, friendly, just skittish according to the shelter workers.

Life passes by when you have children and are taking care of dogs.  The first night was the only night he slept on his bed in our room.  The next night he slept on our bed where our mini-poodle sleeps and knows that’s his bed now.

Reese's Journey -2He also loves to be cuddled right next to my husband.  It took him about a week to start that, but he responded really well to treats.

Potty training him was a challenge.  It took us three weeks but we finally broke him in.  Again, it was the treats that really showed him that he was being a good boy when he did his business outside.

As a dog owner only twice in my whole life (one in high school and that dog made it to 13-years old) and then as an adult to the two dogs my husband and I loved as ‘children’, I knew I was a “dog person.”

This dog was stealing my heart. Reese's Journey - 4I had knee surgery on August 12th and was in bed for a week.  He hardly ever left my side (it was a good week to potty train him) and he never did anything wrong.

Never.

Compare it to this: My mini-poodle was also a rescue.  They estimated him to be about 18-months old when we got him, and that was about 13-years ago.  His problems were/are extensive.  No matter what we do, he incessantly licks his paws.  We’ve tried sensitive shampoos, sprays of all kinds, hot spot treatment, pills, you name it and he still does it.  He also tries to dominate other dogs whenever he can, no matter how big or how small.  (If you’re a dog person, you know what that means.) Ugh.  He’s been fixed for 13-years it’s just as embarrassing as you can imagine it to be!

But he’s one of my babies and I still love him. Reese's Journey - 6 with my mini-poodleReese hasn’t done anything like that – at all. My husband and I couldn’t believe it.  Those first three weeks we were trying to figure out “what was wrong with him” but the answer kept being “nothing.”

When Reese got over his fear of my husband in about a week, he began spending more time with my husband (and my father during the day when he took care of my children.)  My husband would hold him in his arms, just like I do with my mini-poodle.

Around August 20th, my husband told me after the kids went to sleep that he thought we should keep Reese. Reese's Journey - In my husbands arms What?  I had to ask him if I heard that right.  I did.  He wanted me to make the decision to keep him or not.

I started to pray.

I had been under the impression that he did not want another dog.  Granted, this dog probably only has 10 more years left because he was five years old, but, still.

I kept hearing conflicting answers in my head.  The voice of reason kept telling me that he was just reacting to the moment and he would change his mind after something came up with the dog, and potentially blame me for saying it was okay to keep him.

It took me ten days to know that the answer in my heart was to keep Reese.

There were so many signs in those ten days and yes, I believe in that kind of thing.

I had asked the children over the course of a few days what they thought of Reese and if each of them, individually, would like him as a forever pet.  Independently my children said that they wanted to keep him, and my oldest was wise enough to ask, “What about daddy?”

The charity posted this to Facebook on August 30th, after confirming with the leader of the Elder Paws Senior Rescue that we could adopt him. (She was just as surprised as I was.)

EPFB PostAdoption of Reese - photo on FB WallAnd that my friends, is how we ended up with the newest member of our family.

 Proverbs 12:10


Dependence & Relationship advice from Philippians

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I’m doing another bible post!

I know not everyone who reads this blog *knows* me, so I will again preface this post with the standard bible-referenced warning: I am not a biblical scholar, nor do I pretend to be one.  I usually read the bible when things are going tough, and today’s post is no exception.

You have been warned.

I depend on the LordWhat’s going on you ask?

Well, without getting too deep, I’ve run into a wall with my husband that we can’t seem to get around.  An extremely personal issue, we are still imperfect people trying to figure this living-with-each-other thing out, and I love to vent on my blog.  However, I don’t vent about my husband in a public setting because I don’t believe that’s ever productive.  In fact I believe it’s counterproductive in marriage.  I know women that do it and that’s fine for them, but not for me.

SO back to why I am telling you all that –

I am reading an older study book called “Loving Your Husband, Building an Intimate Marriage in a Fallen World” by Cynthia Heald.  I remember getting this book in 1999, a few years after we were married.

The book is dated a publishing date of 1989, so it’s prior to the days before Pinterest and Facebook where advice and free bible studies are prevalent and everyone seems to know what they are talking about.  We now believe in ourselves more than ever in my humble opinion.  [Trust me, I am no exception to this as I found out today.]  The bible it seems has become a tool to use to prove our personal points and agenda more than anything now-days.  (And it makes for great content when you have a Bible Verses section on your blog. =)

I have done this study before, now calculated to be over 15 years ago, and I remember learning so much from it that I knew it was time to go through it again.

I have a love/hate relationship with bible studies.  I learn so much (the love part) but it opens me up to my imperfections and usually makes me cry (the hate part.)

I’m telling you all this to set you up for the book of Philippians or specific verses in my case.

In the very first Lesson, the thing that stuck to me the most was the part referencing Philippians.

I must be dependent on the Lord to meet my deepest needs.

Did you say “whoa” like I did there?

You DON’T HAVE TO BE MARRIED to tell yourself that statement.

It doesn’t say “I must be dependent on myself to meet my deepest needs” or “I must be dependent on my lover/husband/kids/dog to meet my deepest needs.”

Can you say this:I am dependent on the LordI am dependent on the Lord to meet my deepest needs.

I can’t say that I am.  I really need to work on that!

Now read this.

Philippians 2:3-4How’s that for a personal relationship reminder?

Or what about this:

Philippians 4:4This one is like telling someone (me) who is having a hard time dealing with his/her loved one that you have to be happy with what’s going on.

Pshh.

Philippians 4:5Gentleness?  Right now I want to be upset.  Oh wait, there’s that whole dependence thing….  <Tears start welling up about now for me.>

Philippians 4:6-7

The book of Philippians friends, Philippians.

How do these verses speak to you?

In a relationship setting, especially a marriage setting, where the Lord is who I am (or supposed to be in my case) dependent on, I will have a peace that transcends all understanding.

I will.

I will have that peace.

I am (supposed to be) dependent on the Lord for all my needs – all my loving needs.


The Most Important Things in Life

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2Corinthians 1:13-14I’m not a very good theologian.

I’m not sure I even spelled that word right or even using it right for that matter.

I do the whole praying thing, go to church thing, try to find the positive thing in every situation, love making bible verse media, and truly believe that if Jesus Christ is my Lord and Savior then I got the ticket to heaven because of grace.

But every once in a while, like today, are those moments where I feel like spilling my guts on my blog about what I think the most important things are in life.

If you haven’t been reading my blog and don’t want to check out some previous personal posts, let me give you a summary:

My mom is dying of diabetes, congestive heart failure and is on dialysis three times a week.

For the past year, the doctor’s have been keeping her alive (thank you Lord for modern technology) and in May 2014 we were told that there is not much more they can do but keep her comfortable.

She’s had a total of seven heart attacks (that we know of) small, but as the doctor described to us, every single one of them damaged her heart just a little bit more, and two of them (TWO OF THEM) happened yesterday morning.

She’s at home now and is planning on going to see my kids (three of her grandchildren) this afternoon – just like a regular Tuesday.

I have been putting off many of the tasks as the eldest of two children that involve getting things ready for my mother’s eventual funeral.  It’s been challenging to say the least to do this, as the human side of me doesn’t want to face death.

The believer side of me knows where she’s going, so what am I afraid of?

Yesterday’s phone call from my mother woke me up from my silent denial.  My amazing & awesome husband is going to go with me to the funeral home I have picked out to talk to a funeral director and hopefully walk out with a plan.  We’re doing that this week.

I’ve put this off long enough.

The reality is, the more I get done now, the more grieving I can do later.

So what’s the most important things in life right now?

My answer is this: Keep having the same awesome, perfect days.

“What’s a perfect day?” you ask.

For me, it’s enjoying the sweet faces of youth I am blessed to be called mommy by.  It’s the ability to call my mother and check-in-on-her.  It’s the positive & encouraging Facebook post someone posted that spoke to me or tagged me in a photo.  It’s the fact I have a job, healthy children, an amazing husband, a terrific family, a wonderful church and the cutest nephews and niece any auntie would ask for.

It’s my life I’ve been given for as long as I’ve got.

My life is perfect - just for meIt’s perfect for just for me.

It’s the crazy, dependent parents.  It’s the guy who cut me off in traffic that I said a little prayer for so he doesn’t hurt somebody.  It’s my four-year old’s tears because she didn’t get the happy meal she asked for.

I got picked to do this job of wife, mother, daughter, sister & friend in this world, here and now.

It’s all perfect.  It’s routine, normal, peaceful, perfection that I always dreamed of.

I know the time is coming for the drama.  I know the time is coming when I’m going to have to deal with death for both my parents and so many others – if I make it that long.

But to me, that’s all a part of this perfect life – so I can get to heaven and be with all the others that have become before me and we can talk about the perfect lives we had.

I’m alive.

It’s all I need to make the most of every day.


Graduation Season is Upon Us

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My children seem so little right now.

I love it and wouldn’t want it any other way.

Recently enough however, our family and I were invited to five different high-school graduation parties for children my husband and I have seen grow up before our eyes.

My husband and I have been married for almost 18-years and have attended the same church in that same amount of time, so many of these families are part of our family.

I remember 8+ years ago, holding my first son in my arms and thinking how as I knew he was going to grow up, I would cherish memories, remember dates, and recall moments in time when precious events of his life happened.

Enter reality.

Eight years, two more children later, I kick myself for not grabbing the camera and capturing moments while they happen so I can remember them.  So is the story of every momma who fells the same way right?

Think of it as you ticket to change the world

Our family attended a graduation party at our church for twelve (12!) graduating seniors.  Many of them created boards of accomplishments, showcased photos of themselves as children, and displayed honors, achievements, and the important things of life that a high school graduate wants people to know about him or her.

I have ten years left until my oldest will be a graduating senior.

It seems almost surreal just writing that sentence.

Shop Amazon – Congratulate Your Graduate – Class of 2014

Although there are plenty of blogs with words of wisdom for the graduating senior, or collegiate, or mommy letting their 18-year old grown “baby” off to college, I offer one piece of advice:

Always be open to change.Always be Open to Change

It will always be there, and eventually, (even if it seems to be horrible at the moment) it will be for your good.

...so that you may be mature & complete not lacking anything. - James 1:4


Getting It Done, sort of…..

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Getting It Done

I haven’t posted about my 30-days of hustle experience for quite some time, as Easter has taken its place.

I got over the “dip” (a term I learned that happens when you are trying to accomplish a goal) in trying to finish my mother’s advanced directive.

We actually read and filled out four pages!
I am so grateful for this.  We got to the part of the directive that discussed medications, and we stopped because she didn’t want to think about it anymore.  Quite the win if you ask me.

I am grateful for this, Easter Sunday, where my mom and I were able to communicate clearly, talk about some deep stuff (as far as dealing with her eventual death) and get a piece of a goal done.

Yay!Romans 15:13 - Overflow with HopeHappy Resurrection Day too.



Not knowing what the future holds…

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...plans to give you hope and a future.I am a planner.

I love to plan things out from the simple “date night” to the one-year ahead Disney vacation.  (Everybody plans that out a year ahead right?)

I think the unknown just simply scares me.  There, I said it.

My mom went to the hospital today, with the whole diabetic, renal and congestive heart failure literally “typical” problems that all those ailments will cause.  It’s getting close.  It might be a year from now close, but it’s getting close.  All too soon for my “planning.”

I thankfully have the best husband in the world who supports me, and all traditional family crap aside, my father is there for me to take care of my kids and run errands as needed.

I have many issues with both my parents, many of them stemming from my relationship with my mother.  (At least that’s what a therapist told me once.)  But as we (as a family) approach the end of her life, I can’t help but crying and I can’t figure out why.  The only explanation I can think of – is that she is still my mother.

I believe I’ve been given a chance to plan.  She’s not gone yet, and I joked with her in a car ride recently that I don’t think she’s died because the Lord knows I need to have her funeral planned out first.  It really was a joke – but was it?

I am glad for this opportunity.  That much I know and feel.  I’ve still got her, and I have to take advantage of it.  Well, off to the hospital.  It’s going to be a long night.

 


Thinking about Thanksgiving

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Photo Credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/momprepares/

Every year, I try to post a daily thought on Face Book for something I am thankful for.  I try to do one thing that’s specific, and not everything is quite thought-provoking as one may imagine.

While I type this, I’m trying to think of my top ten.

Have you thought of them?

It should be simple…right?

It’s going to be a great Thanksgiving – that much I know.