Monday, December 1, 2014

Scriptures for a New Mom



Today is exactly three weeks until we finalize the adoption! I find myself all excited and nervous at the same time. I'm a first time mom and I feel the weight of responsibility as a single mom by choice because really...I don't know what I'm doing! Ha. Seriously, I do question sometimes if I'm even relying on God enough, am I sharing about God enough, am I making this time special for her, am I in tune with her needs and hurts, her desires and hopes...am I being a good momma? 

Also, I'm ready to get back to a somewhat "normal" routine for me. My daughter and I have established one for us but in my hours when she is at school it's full of work - and a call from CPS, next an email from my adoption agency, but it's the 1st of the month so all my foster/adoption monthly paperwork needs to get completed and emailed and oh, that reminds me, I've got to send that signed paperwork back to the lawyer but first there was something really important I needed to do...oh yeah, pay BILLS! Yikes. What a whirlwind! This little paragraph does it no justice for the outsider.

Thank you Jesus for putting it on my friend's heart, Angie, to send me this little reminder of scriptures below! It's helping me out today. Let's face it, adoption is a HUGE step! And not just for my daughter but for me too...so I know I need to chill out some and rest in God (even in my ability to rest in God - LOL). 





Besides just getting off the phone with my friend Esther and talking through some of my other emotions, something else that's been helping is the example Katie sets in her book called, "Kisses from Katie." I am always moved at how much Katie gushes as a new mom about her new foster-to-adopt daughters. Today I feel the need to follow her example and remind myself what an amazing young lady God's placed in my life.

My sweet girl: She's got such a heart of perseverance! She feels emotions deeply and likes to take care of others. She does small things all the time to show her love (like putting a Zip-Lock bag of dark chocolate covered espresso beans in my purse this morning as a surprise). She's a smart young woman who does great in school (just 3 points shy of all A's) and is competitive in the type of way that makes her successful but doesn't overpower others. She enjoys ALL kinds of animals and has shown extreme patience as she's tried to befriend our shy cat, Manna. The other day he let her hold him like a baby! She's the only other one besides me who has ever had that privilege.

One thing I really enjoy about her is her intense desire to laugh. She cracks herself up all the time. We laugh and have begun having inside jokes and routines which are beyond special! She is playful, caring and has a child-like nature that is completely endearing. My daughter is super creative and crafty (DIY - she is currently making Christmas ornaments that are sequin pokemon balls) and if reading was an Olympic sport, I know she would blow the competition away.

I very much admire all the times she is open about her day, her dreams, her thoughts and her hurts. Any tear that she sheds is so special to me because I know she does not have to be that vulnerable with me...but when she shares her emotions I know that she's made the decision to trust my love. Not many young people at her age (sweet 16) carry that kind of openness, especially after dealing with the foster care system. It makes me understand more deeply the specialness of Psalm 56:8 as to why my own tears are so special to my God. He knows we don't have to be vulnerable so when we choose to open our hearts and emotions to Him of course they would be special to Him too! God has blessed her with a fun, light spirit and He has blessed me with her! As my friend put it in a text today, having her as my daughter is my "destiny." :)

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Your Vote Counts!


I grew in my passion for voting during the summer of 2012 when I studied out US Women's Suffrage. During that time, women like Alice Paul, Lucy Stone, Elizabeth Blackwell, Inez Milholland, Lucy Burns, & Lucretia Mott became heroines to me. As I read wonderful stories about the resolve of these women to help others and win freedom rights, I began to realize that I have a passionate heart too...and it's one of an activist. The title of Activist isn't used much lately but that's what I am! Activism consists of efforts to promote, impede, or direct social, political, economic, or environmental change, or stasis.

There are many passions that flow from my heart and I must be vocal about them. Your vote is your voice! Unfortunately, when it comes to voting, I think this quote by Bill Vaughan rings too true: "A citizen of America will cross the ocean to fight for democracy, but won't cross the street to vote in a national election."

Today is election day and it is not too late! Please get educated on the issues and vote. However, maybe you can't vote today because you've neglected to even registered? If so don't wait until the next elections sneak up on you...register to vote today by clicking here: www.usa.gov - Citizen Voting Register

In the spirit of today, here are some voting quotes. *grin*


  • Abraham Lincoln said,"Elections belong to the people. It's their decision. If they decide to turn their back on the fire and burn their behinds, then they will just have to sit on their blisters."
  • Every election is determined by the people who show up. ― Larry J. Sabato, Pendulum Swing 
  • Politicians and diapers should be changed frequently and all for the same reason.  ~José Maria de Eça de Queiroz, translated from Portuguese
  • People often say that, in a democracy, decisions are made by a majority of the people. Of course, that is not true.  Decisions are made by a majority of those who make themselves heard and who vote - a very different thing.  ~Walter H. Judd
  • Bad officials are elected by good citizens who do not vote. ~ George Jean Nathan
  • Always vote for principle, though you may vote alone, and you may cherish the sweetest reflection that your vote is never lost. ~ John Quincy Adams Quotes 
  • Have you ever stopped to ponder the amount of blood spilt, the volume of tears shed, the degree of pain and anguish endured, the number of noble men and women lost in battle so that we as individuals might have a say in governing our country?  Honor the lives sacrificed for your freedoms. Vote. ~ Richelle E. Goodrich, Smile Anyway: Quotes, Verse, & Grumblings for Every Day of the Year
*Notable story: Inez Miholland, a suffragist, labor lawyer, World War I correspondent, and public speaker went on a tour in the West speaking for women's rights as a member of the National Woman's Party in 1916. She undertook the tour despite suffering from pernicious anemia and despite the admonitions of her family who were concerned about her deteriorating health. On October 22, 1916, she collapsed in the middle of a speech in Los Angeles, and she died on November 25, 1916. Milholland's last public words were, "Mr. President, how long must women wait for liberty?" (Use your voice to advocate for what matters!)

Your Vote Counts!


I grew in my passion for voting during the summer of 2012 when I studied out US Women's Suffrage. During that time, women like Alice Paul, Lucy Stone, Elizabeth Blackwell, Inez Milholland, Lucy Burns, & Lucretia Mott became heroines to me. As I read wonderful stories about the resolve of these women to help others and win freedom rights, I began to realize that I have a passionate heart too...and it's one of an activist. The title of Activist isn't used much lately but that's what I am! Activism consists of efforts to promote, impede, or direct social, political, economic, or environmental change, or stasis.

There are many passions that flow from my heart and I must be vocal about them. Your vote is your voice! Unfortunately, when it comes to voting, I think this quote by Bill Vaughan rings too true: "A citizen of America will cross the ocean to fight for democracy, but won't cross the street to vote in a national election."

Today is election day and it is not too late! Please get educated on the issues and vote. However, maybe you can't vote today because you've neglected to even registered? If so don't wait until the next elections sneak up on you...register to vote today by clicking here: www.usa.gov - Citizen Voting Register

In the spirit of today, here are some voting quotes. *grin*


  • Abraham Lincoln said,"Elections belong to the people. It's their decision. If they decide to turn their back on the fire and burn their behinds, then they will just have to sit on their blisters."
  • Every election is determined by the people who show up. ― Larry J. Sabato, Pendulum Swing 
  • Politicians and diapers should be changed frequently and all for the same reason.  ~José Maria de Eça de Queiroz, translated from Portuguese
  • People often say that, in a democracy, decisions are made by a majority of the people. Of course, that is not true.  Decisions are made by a majority of those who make themselves heard and who vote - a very different thing.  ~Walter H. Judd
  • Bad officials are elected by good citizens who do not vote. ~ George Jean Nathan
  • Always vote for principle, though you may vote alone, and you may cherish the sweetest reflection that your vote is never lost. ~ John Quincy Adams Quotes 
  • Have you ever stopped to ponder the amount of blood spilt, the volume of tears shed, the degree of pain and anguish endured, the number of noble men and women lost in battle so that we as individuals might have a say in governing our country?  Honor the lives sacrificed for your freedoms. Vote. ~ Richelle E. Goodrich, Smile Anyway: Quotes, Verse, & Grumblings for Every Day of the Year
*Notable story: Inez Miholland, a suffragist, labor lawyer, World War I correspondent, and public speaker went on a tour in the West speaking for women's rights as a member of the National Woman's Party in 1916. She undertook the tour despite suffering from pernicious anemia and despite the admonitions of her family who were concerned about her deteriorating health. On October 22, 1916, she collapsed in the middle of a speech in Los Angeles, and she died on November 25, 1916. Milholland's last public words were, "Mr. President, how long must women wait for liberty?" (Use your voice to advocate for what matters!)

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Adoption - It Is Time!!


Psalm 16:8 - I know the Lord is always with me. I will not be shaken, for he is right beside me.


Dear Readers,

Please forgive my short break from blogging. I've been praying, fasting, seeking advice, reading, experiencing, laughing, crying, training and doing much soul searching for the past 4.5 months and this has allowed me very little time for blogging creatively.  Ah motherhood! :)

And now...it is time. I made the decision yesterday to start the formal process of adopting my new 15 yr. old daughter. It's hard to believe she moved in with me just a short time ago from foster care. I was pretty certain that adoption would be the outcome but as I prayed previously, I didn't get the impression that I should move forward just yet. 

At first this was scary and confusing!!! I didn't understand the feeling or why the Spirit was not giving the green light but I got surrendered that I needed to wait. After becoming okay with waiting, suddenly it became clear that I needed to wait until I had read the CPS file. My agency specialist and I bugged CPS for 8 weeks then finally, yesterday...I received it and finished reading it! It took me 1 hr per each large binder to read through all the paperwork.

So last night, over pizza and watching Mickey Mouse in french, my girl and I sat at the table (by her request) and discussed adoption in full. I told her I wanted to adopt her and asked if she would like this? Would she like to consider me as her family...her forever family? She said YES with the most beautiful smile - I will never forget it!

My daughter is kind, full of joy, rambunctious, thoughtful and smart as a whip! What a blessing she's been to me. All the ways she encourages me, spends time with me, and loves up on me is a treasure. :) We also talked about the options she has concerning her name. She decided she wants to take my last name and keep her bio dad's family name as her middle name. That makes me so happy I can't even express! :D

Next steps?
I'm guessing tons more paperwork, stress, excitement, and challenges. It may be that my girl and I experience some fear: fear of the "bottom dropping out" or nerves about the future, but I will continue towards trusting God and I have faith in Him. My hope is that in some way I can also steel in her heart and mind this trust and faith too! My Lord has brought us a long way. A long way! 
 This is me and my daughter 

May our story make Him happy and encourage people towards Him. I pray others consider adopting too... especially a teen!

WE COULD STILL USE PRAYERS! Please pray for God to protect us during this process, for no barriers to pop up, and for much open communication, happiness and laughter during this time in our lives which we are certain to never forget. 

ps. I'm also praying that one of the photographers who donate sessions to adoption families will become available to capture this special event once everything is set! 


"We must be willing to let go of the life we have planned, so as to have the life that is waiting for us."

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Waiting and Growing

Lately I've been reading a new blog during my Coffee & Cozy times with God. Today's entry from "She Reads Truth" hit a cord with my heart because it's about waiting. I got a ping on my heart with the sentence the author wrote ...

"The waiting isn’t just the hardest part, it’s the growing part." 


As Sarah Mathey continued sharing about her own waiting story of adopting, she shared, "We should think of the waiting as our labor pains. The contractions are getting stronger, closer together, more and more painful, the longer the process continues. While we are waiting, we are changing– [God's] changing us in the waiting.

This season in life is both exciting and challenging. Since my whole routine flipped upside down in May, I don't feel as close to God as I did when it was just me in the house. I think I've been fighting to find my "way back" instead of waiting and simply growing into the fresh relationship that God seems to be trying to develop as I build a family. Also, right now I'm waiting for the Spirit to move and watching like an Israelite who keeps their eye on the pillar of cloud and that's okay too. I tend to be a 'planner' and sometimes a "rusher" so this waiting is good for me.

What is going on in your life right now? Is there a season of waiting? Maybe you are waiting for a result, an open/closed door, healing, freedom, help, or direction. If so, please know you are not alone. May you find comfort that Jesus loves you. And just maybe he is speaking words to you, like he did the winds and the waves, "Peace, be still!' [Mark 4:39]

May you find this peace in your wait. 




Wednesday, September 10, 2014

The Decision to Glorify God

Think back to the last time you had a life changing decision in front of you. How did you make it? Did you pray? Get Advice? Search the scriptures or books? Make a pros verses cons list? Research on the internet for what others do?

Well, I have one of the biggest decisions of my life in front of me. There is a wonderful 15 year old teenager living in my home who just happens to also be a part of the foster care system. As our relationship is deepening, I believe we want to adopt each other but how do I make the final decision that this is the right path to take for both of us? And whatever path is chosen, when times get tough, how am I going to remain confident in my decision?!?!

You might think at this stage the decision would be easy...but life changing decisions are never simple or easy. 

Romans 12:2 says, "Don't copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God's will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect."

I want to know what God's will is for me! I know God is trying to do some transformation in my thinking through all this. Today, I heard a woman say that when planning her wedding she really tried to consider what would be most glorifying to God. I felt the Spirit tug at me.

The Spirit is urging me to focus on the path that would most glorify God!

But what does glorifying God mean? Since I'm so detailed oriented, I had to make sure I knew what this common phrase meant. Defined - to glorify means to reveal or make clearer the glory (the magnificence/great beauty/high renown) of God by one's actions. So the question is what path would best reveal God and spotlight Him for others. 

Let's be honest, in most decisions we focused on "what do I want" or "what's best for me" questions. And yet when you think instead (hello, transforming of the mind) "what would best glorify God" that changes everything! 

  • Which choice puts a beautiful spotlight on God?
  • Which path/action reveals Him to others?
  • Is my desire to glorify God the most important factor when making this decision? 

Well, within the thought of glorifying God and considering adoption, these scriptures have been helpful!  

2 Corinthians 8:9
(NLT) "You know the generous grace of our Lord Jesus Christ. Though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, so that by his poverty he could make you rich." Adoption is a sacrifice but imitation of my Lord Jesus...that would glorify God.

Hebrews 13:16 (NLT) "And don’t forget to do good and to share with those in need. These are the sacrifices that please God." Opening up my life and family...that would glorify God.

John 15:12-13 "This is my commandment: Love each other in the same way I have loved you. There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends." Laying down my life, in all the many ways that adoption calls for...that would glorify God. 

After much prayer, I know there is one final "wall' I must climb before I can make the final decision. The Spirit is prompting me to wait until it is climbed and I know that's why I've not been able to make this life changing decision fully yet BUT I believe the ultimate path is becoming more and more clear as God continues to open doors of hope and I focus on the decision to glorify God! 

What about you? Do you have a life-changing decision you need to make? Then, I pray these little thoughts & scriptures help. :) 

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Stress Relief from Music



"A bird does not sing because it has an answer. 
It sings because it has a song."


pic from: http://www.druworldwide.com/sound/dru_sound_weekend_retreats


Last Friday was a particularly hard day. I got a chance to hear from my foster daughter's own lips about her childhood. It was almost more than I could handle but I put on my mommy spirit to stay strong and supportive so that my girl could express all her emotions. Then I had to go straight to work. :( By the time I got to a special church event that night, my nerves were shot because they'd been bottled too long. As people encouraged me with hugs and sweet words, all I could really do was cry. Then Sunday, I let myself get too stressed when three different conflicts popped up. So by Monday, I woke up with a sore throat, sneezing, and a tooth that is really sensitive. Today my voice is almost completely gone. Is it allergies? A common cold? Sinus infection? I don't know but somehow I suspect that STRESS is negatively affecting my immune system.


Reflecting on all this started me thinking today about music. Recently, my daughter and I downloaded Disney music from several different movies. We've been singing along with them every chance we get and it has been bonding for us to be in the car belting out lyrics to each other of, "you ain't never had a friend like me" [Aladdin] and "Hakuna Matata" [Lion King].

Even today, I'm listening to music and it's helping so much. Probably nothing new to anyone but music can be an amazing tool. I've always believed that people who walk around humming and singing carry a lot of joy in their hearts. Something I truly appreciate about my girl is how much she sings and laughs. She's had to deal with a ton of loss in her short life but I strongly believe she lives with more joy and laughter than most people. 

So, just in case you need a pick-me-up too, besides clicking on the links for the Aladdin & Lion King songs above, here are a few I've been listening to today. And yes, my music style is diverse, some are older and some are silly but they do have me bobbing bob my head:

Radioactive (cover) 
Don't Worry, Be Happy
Happy 
Twist & Shout
Day-O 
Power of Love 
Cups (When I'm Gone) 

Footloose 
Roar 

Three Birds 
Hound Dog 
Brave
Ghostbusters
 
 

PS.
 CLICK HERE & WATCH THIS FUN VIDEO

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Single Foster-to-Adopt Mom: Carving out "me time"


Life seems to be moving too fast to blog much lately! As you may have read from previous posts, as a new single mom I'm really trying to be better about taking care of myself. Below are some ideas that I've been implementing lately in my own self-care practices:


  1. Using my shower time. Guilt free...take some extra time to relax, pray, mediate, pamper myself.
  2. Meal help - During a very stressful week, taking someone up on their offer to bring over a meal. (thanks Pree!!!!)
  3. Be creative - Zentangles and simple pencil drawings on black paper have been my mental break to help me file away the day and unwind. , I copied the idea of the drawing above from a pin I saw on pinterest that linked to this site.
  4. Use your kids bedtime routine- If your child is older, take advantage of their time getting ready for bed (while they shower & brush their teeth etc...) to get some alone time
  5. Find a low maintenance hobby - The advantage is that it's low cost. It also helps to take your mind of the day's stress and places it into the moment. Examples: taking care of a few plants/your backyard, juggling, do a word search or jumble puzzle each night...
  6. Exercise. Sometimes I jump on the treadmill in the living room while my teen watches a cartoon on tv. 
  7. Imitate your pet. I've made the decision when I see one of my cats stretch, I'll stretch my body too. It sounds funny but it's a great reminder because cats are excellent at "self-care" and relaxation. 
  8. Ask for a hug. I've found I really need hugs more than I get. I read this article that said it's good to have 8 hugs at day!! EIGHT! I need to start asking for more hugs. LOL. I get a few from my teen and some on Wed/Sundays when I see people at church but otherwise am very thirsty for them :)
  9. Use a chair massage/heating pad. My body is holding onto stress a bunch. Right now, I can't afford regular massages but I splurged a few years ago to buy one of those simple massagers that plug in and you place in a chair. It's been a great investment. Also, my heating pad helps on days I'm exhausted and my muscles are tight. It's easy to sit and listen to my kid'o tell me all about her day. I can even have it on at the dinner table.
  10. Play online educational games. Sometimes the mental break I need isn't just resting but working on a different type of "problem." So I have been using sites like lumosity and funtotype so my mind can take on a simple but different types of challenges. 
If you have any special tips you use, please let me know. :) 



Monday, August 4, 2014

The Escape! Why we NEED self-care.

Last week was tough and I was reminded of the valuable lesson in self-care. It's essential! 

Yeah, yeah, I'm not sharing anything you've not heard or read before but... there is a difference between the knowledge of something and the practice of something. 

I had the knowledge of self-care...I thought I was practicing it but when I had an emotional crash last Monday night, my body said, "Nope, you are not listening!" and basically my adoption specialist agreed. My daughter went into a respite home for 4 days. Yup, and I had a hard time with that...it was really the worse I've seen my pride in a while...ugly pride. I specifically remember saying to my specialist, "bio parents don't get respite." And while this is true...it doesn't mean I shouldn't take the opportunity God has given me. As a foster mom, the state provides respite to myself and my daughter. A humble woman should take it, especially when she's standing there crying in the bathroom at her wits end while on the phone with her specialist.

A few days after our conversation, after I had some sleep, a clearer mind and a quiet house, I decided to jump in the Prius, drive to a local park, pop the hatchback and jump in the back to do some inspirational reading and writing while looking out over the park.

After the first hour my mind kicked in and said, "You have stuff you NEED to do! Why are you just sitting here?" I started feeling anxious and prayed. During my prayer I realized my busy mind was fighting the "stress detox" and self care I was doing. Being busy can be an addiction of sorts and if we have an addictive personality it's easy to trade one addiction for another even as we grow in our relationship with God. These may be less scary addictions than drugs/alcohol like addiction to a certain sport, to coffee, to gaming, and the like but we still use them ultimately to do what all addictions do...numb. I've found that especially during stressful times, I need to be going to God to meet my needs. 

Because I've learned to recognize my tendency in this, I forced myself to stay...two more hours...so that I could calm my restless spirit, get some much needed peace from God and some perspective. 

So, why do we need self-care? Because truly, to take care of others, we must take care of ourselves. 

Click here to read some examples of typical self-care areas people lack in when they are caregivers. This article is specifically for those who are healing from trauma but it works well for caregivers too! A great little resource and reminder. :)

As I was looking online for encouragement and reminders for self care, especially as a foster-to-adopt parent, I came across this statement: "When a foster or adopted child has special needs, parents must juggle appointments with mental health therapists, occupational therapists, physical therapists, speech therapists, psychiatrists, ophthalmologists, allergists, and asthma specialists. They must attend IEP meetings, keep in touch with the school principal and their child’s teacher, check in with the social worker, and establish a schedule for personal care attendants (PCAs). Ongoing appointments and emergencies keep parents so busy that attending to their own feelings and needs may be put on hold.

Self-care, however, is crucial for foster and adoptive parents. The physical and emotional toll of caring for traumatized children can be overwhelming. Children can project hurt onto parents and, at the same time, blame parents for feelings of loss and despair. Parents must understand both the complexities of foster care and adoption, and their child’s unique needs. With that knowledge and an ongoing commitment to self-care, parents can more easily remain effective and balanced." article link - here

So for me, this statement hit so close to home that my eyes started watering - "Ongoing appointments and emergencies keep parents so busy that attending to their own feelings and needs may be put on hold." My daughter arrived 2 months ago and life has been a whirlwind of trying to get to know her & building a bond, getting her in school, day camp, church camp, there have been medical appointments with 5/6 different doctors plus meetings with my agency and CPS, completing daily and monthly paperwork, and somehow trying to fit in time for her to hang out with teens her own age! 

So the question, "When can I take some time for me?" just wasn't a true priority. As I'm reflecting on self care, I realize that on top of all the activity above, I had started skipping lunches at work, have been eating less balanced meals, usually get only 6/7 hrs per night of sleep, have only exercised 3 times in the last two months, am not blogging and deeply expressing my feelings/emotions and just surviving off of shorter times with God and zendoodles for a creative outlet. My poor self care decisions must change. So I'll be praying about having a better plan to help me daily with self care...oh, and here's the new book I just downloaded to inspire me. 


Shield: A Framework of Self-Care for Foster and Adoptive Families [Kindle Edition] 

For those readers who are Christians, check out this article about self care as well! It provides some thoughts to chew on and consider. I really like the "What's my job?" and "Hearing God" paragraphs! : Codependency and Self-Care by Don Smith


I'm very hopeful that I can grow in this area and do better at self-care too. Anyway, that's a little update from my world. Take care of yourself too, my friend!

The Blessing of Escape - written during my time at the park
"It's too easy to judge myself and my experiences. The fact is I needed a bit of an adventure and escape. So with a backpack full of the books that most encourage and inspire me, I took off in the Prius to a local park. I sit here, resting with the hatchback open, listening to too many cars rush by and a non-working windmill whaling like an ancient dinosaur. Still the breeze is nice as it electrifies the misty rain and, when there is a break in the traffic, I can hear Mother Nature's crickets, birds, rustling leaves and well sadly, that  is just about it - ha - but my spirit, mind, & body needs some nature and change of scenery right now. I need to notice small details and vast openness. I need to be reminded of life outside of my own. I need rest but was feeling closed in at the house! I need to watch the hawk circle. I need to see summer in bloom on a rainy day. After all the rain is God's encouragement to me today. How do I take this home with me? Having the windows open wasn't enough. It takes more time, little heart and mind,...to purge. Stop your rushing. Stop your judging."

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Today Is Calling You

“Live today. Not yesterday. Not tomorrow. Just today. Inhabit your moments. Don’t rent them out to tomorrow. Do you know what you’re doing when you spend a moment wondering how things are going to turn out...? You’re cheating yourself out of today. Today is calling to you, trying to get your attention, but you’re stuck on tomorrow, and today trickles away like water down a drain. You wake up the next morning and that today you wasted is gone forever. It’s now yesterday...” ― Jerry Spinelli, Love, Stargirl 


- unique lighting at a recent event - just had to stop and appreciate it -

Are you up for trying some new things?! :)
  1. Chew with your eyes shut. The other day at lunch I placed a bite of food in my mouth and shut my eyes. Suddenly, I found that the rest of my senses kicked into gear. I felt the texture of the food in my mouth, focused on the taste and smell, and found myself chewing slower. It's amazing to realize how much our eyes can distract us from the other senses. Totally worth trying!
  2. Drive a different way home. Since I have a new job, I've had many opportunities to try different routes. Over the next few days, take a new way home...even if it's just one street different. Engage your vision and look for something new and interesting!
  3. Describe. So often we go through the day on cruise control. Take a moment, even right now, and describe something you see around you. Is there something unique around you in nature? What about your home/office...how would you describe it someone in a different country? Look out the nearest window and jot down some interesting words about what you see.
  4. Work with your hands. Work a different part of the brain by either doing a craft, gardening, or working on some other physical project. (check out this unique article to learn more: The Health Benefits of Working With Your Hands. For example, I've been looking for a cute Christmas tree skirt for several years. I finally found one that I liked on Etsy but it was $85! I decided to at least try to make my own before I'd ever spend that kind of money. So I spent about 2 hours creating one. I was amazed how great I felt afterward! (will post photos soon)
  5. Walk casually. You don't really have to race from one point to the other. This morning, I saw a dad walking across campus with a little boy in tow. The young one was so out of breath trying to tell his dad a story and keep up that his feet almost didn't get a chance to hit the ground. Really?! So for a bit try meandering a bit, or stroll, mosey, wander, dawdle, ramble along sometimes. (actually, I think it's good to do most of the time)
 Here are some quotes to further inspire!

“You must live in the present, launch yourself on every wave, find your eternity in each moment. Fools stand on their island of opportunities and look toward another land. There is no other land; there is no other life but this.” ― Henry David Thoreau
 “The purpose of life is to live it, to taste experience to the utmost, to reach out eagerly and without fear for newer and richer experience.” ― Eleanor Roosevelt 

Monday, July 21, 2014

Being Still - by guest blogger, Lori

Earlier in the year, myself and a few girl friends went away for a weekend. We called it our "Strength Weekend" and it was designed so we could relax,  strengthen our relationship with God, and get closer to each other. We talked, prayed, watched an inspiring movie, played croquet and had a communion pancake breakfast. Also, each of us shared a lesson of something on our heart. Below is one lesson that was shared. I hope you'll find encouragement in her thoughts. :)

Being Still 
by Lori

The main scripture I want us to focus on: “Be STILL and know that I am God” –Psalm 46:10a

Since last year I realized my body has been telling me things are not going well.

-Depression (no joy, a week long, sad and wanted to be alone)
-Sick (Jan-Feb) 

I started thinking maybe I don’t know how to relax, how to take in the moments, or even how to listen to my own body when it needs rest.

As women do we know how to be still? Can I sit in one spot and take in God's Glory without thinking about my to-do list, my job, my pet, my worries, and my replay of previous events. Can I just sit here and take in the sound of the wind blowing the leaves, the wind chimes playing music, or do I hear the world and all its to-do’s?

#1 Live in the now, don't wait for tomorrow


-Don’t overload your schedule

“Look, I am Coming Soon! My reward is with me, and I will give to each person according to what they have done." ~Revelations 22:12

-Your schedule may not be packed to the max like some others and you may feel you are not doing your best because you’re not running around like a headless chicken. It's important to focus on what I do today and if it would make Jesus proud? (The little things)

-Think about the moment, about today, what you are doing

“Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”  ~Matthew 6:34

-Don’t get caught up in worrying about things that could happen in the future. Example: Cleaning, planning my future, my projects/crafts, etc.

*Be still and LIVE in the moment


#2 Take the time to Love and Encourage yourself 

-Take care of yourself by treating yourself as one of God's treasures

“For none of us lives for ourselves alone, and none of us dies for ourselves alone. If we live, we live for the Lord, and if we die, we die for the Lord. So whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord.” ~Romans 14:7-8


-The world makes us believe that we own ourselves; God says we belong to him.

-Honor God with your body

“Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies.”  ~1 Corinthians 6:19-20

-The World believes that your body is an image and that we can do whatever we want to our bodies. We should ask ourselves, would Jesus do this to his body?

- Feel good about ourselves and where we are at physically and mentally. Sleepy, then get rest. Weak, then work out.

*Be still and Love, Encourage, and Honor your body.


 #3 A day of rest is crucial


-Do you know what happens to a battery when it keeps running? It dies quicker. We are no different.

“Six days of work shall be done, but the seventh day is a Sabbath of solemn rest.”  ~Exodus 31:15a

-What is solemn rest? True Rest?

-Definition of solemn is characterized by deep sincerity; serious (syn.-somber, grave, honest, genuine, wholehearted, firm)

-God is the only one to give us the solemn rest we need

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.”  ~Matthew 11:28

-A true reset is to give it all to God so you may receive rest.

-You and the body/temple God gave will let you know how much rest is enough. That could be once a week to once every four months.

-It can be tough to keep this day sacred but if you do not get what you need you could end up sick and miss more than 1 day.

*Be still and REST.

Now, take a moment & practice being still (deep breathing and focus on breath)
 


craft with one of the lessons




communion breakfast

Monday, July 14, 2014

A Time for Everything

Have you ever tried to control the weather?
Or tell that rain cloud, "Don't pour yet!" 

What about the Winter or Summer? Have you ever tried to hold them back from arriving? 

This sounds silly and honestly, it is silly. We all know that we cannot do one thing to change the weather in an instant or stop how the seasons change.

Yet today I realized I try to do just that. I try to stop the seasons from changing. I even get disappointed when they do change. It may not be the weather's seasons I'm trying to control but I totally try to hold back the seasons of life. I'm not writing about the huge, hard things such as death or illness. I'm talking about regular 'ole changes like changes in relationships, career, my body as I age, or even the group of people God wants me to serve. I know the year will flow from one season to another yet for some reason I've gotten it in my mind that a season of life should always stay where it is...or at least be there as long as I think it should. When it doesn't, I get overly frustrated or sad. Silly me. Can you relate? 

Right now, I'm pondering how to better embrace those things that are just plain GOING to happen. As I try to change my mind set and get more comfortable with change, here are a few things I've found so far that I really like:



You may often see me wearing this pendant I bought at James Avery. I wear this as a reminder that whatever is going on in my life right now...it's just one season.



Ecclesiastes 3:109
A Time for Everything
1 There is a time for everything,
and a season for every activity under the heavens:
2 a time to be born and a time to die,
a time to plant and a time to uproot,
3 a time to kill and a time to heal,
a time to tear down and a time to build,
4 a time to weep and a time to laugh,
a time to mourn and a time to dance,
5 a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,
6 a time to search and a time to give up,
a time to keep and a time to throw away,
7 a time to tear and a time to mend,
a time to be silent and a time to speak,
8 a time to love and a time to hate,
a time for war and a time for peace

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Protecting Your Teen - Online, Social Media


http://static.squarespace.com/static/54220a55e4b041fec87d2d0d/547f45c6e4b0a7dc6a8432db/547f5fb4e4b0a7dc6a86dc15/1417633716243/Screen-Shot-2013-05-17-at-3.40.27-PM.png?format=original
This is not another post on what parental control options are out there to help you. This post is something a little different. Since just two weeks ago I was thrust into parenting a teenager, suddenly I have found myself scrambling for parental control options to protect her from social media demons/pitfalls. Over these few weeks, I began feeling tremendous pressure rise in my heart from the thoughts of, "How can I even come close to protecting her from it all or teaching her all she needs to know??" So...HERE'S A FACT: I can't. No matter how much advice other parents spew at me, I can't buy/download/upload enough "guards" to protect her from everything onlin


I needed this amazing article below to remind me of that. All I can do is put some parental controls in place, monitor as best I can, teach her wisdom lessons about being online, and most of all pray for God to help her because He can help her in ways I can't. I've shared the sentiment expressed in this article below for years to other parents as I mentored their teen...now I needed the reminder!!! We can only do what we can do. Ultimately, our teens choose for themselves.

Here's the article from "the Better Mom" by Elisa. Enjoy! Please click on the links to go to the website.
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I’ve been a mentor of teen girls for more than sixteen years, and in that time, I’ve walked through some rather difficult situations with girls and their families. What has always surprised me over the years is how often the girls are able to keep their trouble, and rebellion, off their parent’s radar screen.

Before I had my own teen children, it was pretty easy to pass judgment about what every mom or dad ought to do in order to keep their children from walking in prodigal shoes. But the fact is, I could be that mom. All my children have the potential of going the prodigal way, just as much as I do. God’s gift of free will enables us to embrace loving him as much as it allows us to take one degree steps in the wrong direction.
Even though I feel a sense of confidence about what my tween and teen daughters are up to when they are out of my sight, the reality is that I may not know as much as I think I do. We’ve spent hours talking (and training) about how to live with integrity and long term vision, yet our children will have to choose for themselves whether they will yield to God or the ways of this world. Their flesh will be as tempted as mine to dominate their discernment and self-discipline!
 
As a mom, I’ve had to fight against the fear of my own children rebelling, especially when I’ve seen how unexpectedly it happens in other families.
 
In one particular year, I was mentoring three girls, two of whom came from loving and devoted Christian families. Can you imagine the shock and disappointment when these girls made choices that landed them in a big heap of trouble, not once but twice in less than three months! I felt like a total failure as a mentor, shared sobs with not only the girls but with their moms! These were Christian moms raising daughters using the same Bible study materials I was pouring through with my own girls. 

Desperate and defeated, I begged God, “If this happened to these girls, what can keep it from happening with mine?”

He answered me. And He changed my parenting forever.


You can’t protect them from making bad decisions. Their choices are their choices. But you can continue to pour into their lives and establish a relationship with them that is bathed in My love. You won’t be able to control their future but you can be the one they return to in their mess. Receive them as I receive you. In love. Even if there are consequences.
 
By the grace of God, I realized I needed to spend more time listening and engaging with my growing children, and less time worrying about their future. I put my schedule and priorities under careful scrutiny, and made the necessary changes so that I could be available to hear their hearts, instead of being out at a meeting or staring at a screen or pursuing some dream that could wait until tomorrow.
 
I realized that we need to cultivate relationships with our kids that would be able to withstand the stress of a prodigal challenge rather than crumble under the impact of one. 
 
Yes, I could be that mom who has no idea what her teen is up, too. But why borrow trouble worrying about tomorrow? Instead, I’m focusing on on building a relationship that will outlast the mistakes and lay a foundation for God to make beauty from ashes. Will you join me in doing the same?"

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Beginning Family Devotionals

We had our first family devo tonight. Over the next few weeks my daughter and I will be discussing the different things written on our "Family Values" board. I am letting her pick the order of what we discuss and she picked Psalm 121 first. Tonight we had a great time of getting in God's word, along with high-fives, laughter, and extreme hoop shots of our own while "casting our cares."  :] My girl beat me by 1 shot...but I did have a classic trick shot which bounced off of the Sunny cat's head and into the basket.  ha! 
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PSALM 121  – God leads our home and we can turn to the bible for wisdom, encouragement, strength...

*NLT 2 Timothy 3:16 - All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right.

*Psalm 121 – one of the scriptures I pray over you.
According to this scripture, who helps us? What part of this is most encouraging?

*1 Peter 5:7 – “Cast all your anxieties on Him, because he cares for you.”

*Activity! -Take 5 large pieces of paper and on each one write down something you feel anxious [worried, concerned] about lately (examples, school, work…)

  • Next watch extreme trick shots video - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_8yZsa6wFEw
  • Our turn! Now we are going to practice ‘casting our cares’ by wading up our worries and shooting them like a basketball into the trash basket.  

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Near God's Altar



recent doodle

Life with my new daughter has been going so well. It's not all smooth sailing but that's to be expected when you toss two women together in a household. Especially, when one woman is kind of set in her ways and the other young lady happens to be a teen! ha. We had a week full of appointments and fun, movies and rest, crafts and small adventures. This week we are beginning to really get into more of a normal routine since she is attending a teen leadership camp and I've gone back to work.

One thing I knew I would need is something to help me stay focused during my times with God. Honestly, it's been a challenge for me to keep my mind on anything else besides my daughter. I had been reading through some of the Psalms and in Matthew plus zen-doodling to help my mind relax but for this week ahead, I knew I'd need more. So of course, I bought a new devotional book!! *smile*


The author relates her personal story (she's a single mom thru divorce), she shares scriptures & quotes, some thoughts to reflect on and some thoughts on how to keep your children "near the altar of God" too. She writes that Psalm 84:3 first encouraged her to search for ways to bring her children near God's altar. "Even the sparrow finds a home, and the swallow builds her nest and raises her young at a place near your altar, O LORD of Heaven's Armies, my King and my God!"

After I read today's chapter, I went 'hunting' on the internet for more thoughts about the altars of God. I found this additional lesson online that I really like so I wanted to share it. Below this brief lesson is a picture of a devotional book I'm reading...just in case you are a single mom who wants encouragement or if you know a single mom who might like it. :) 
Enjoy!!

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Build an Altar by Sharon Elliott - found at http://www.cbn.com/spirituallife/Devotions/elliottsharon_altar.aspx         
       
During King David’s reign, the tabernacle (the movable tent) that Moses had made was erected at the high place in Gibeon. This tabernacle represented the presence of God among the people.

At one particular time when David sinned, he needed a more immediate and convenient altar, so God sent him to a guy named Ornan and told David to build on Ornan’s threshing floor. 1 Chronicles 21:26 says,

“And David built there an altar to the LORD, and offered burnt offerings and peace offerings, and called on the LORD; and He answered him from heaven by fire on the altar of burnt offering.”

Thanks to Jesus, the sacrificial system is out, the need to go through Levitical priests to get to God is out, and the need to stand before a particular altar whenever I pray is out. However, even though all those things are out, the spirit of each part of David’s worship is still necessary today.

You see, my body is now the temple. I Corinthians 6:19 says, "Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit...?"

It is my responsibility to build an altar to the Lord in my heart, maintain it, and visit it frequently. I take my sin, sorrow, faults, and failings to God at this altar and offer them as I would a burnt offering, letting God’s fire consume them and reprove me. I take my confidences, joys, and praise as peace offerings, willingly sharing them with my Master and continually submitting them to Him. I call on the Lord at my altar, discussing my requests and desires with Him, and seeking His face concerning them.

Finally, it is at the altar where God answers from Heaven by fire. Since my body is the temple, I can never leave my altar. As I maintain altar-consciousness and listen for God’s voice, I will hear Him speak through His Word, through other Christian brothers and sisters, and even through observations of nature, which after all is the work of His hands.

Consider these two verses:

For we are the temple of the living God. As God has said: "I will live with them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they will be my people."  2 Corinthians 6:16(NIV)

You also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.  1 Peter 2:5 (NIV)

I encourage you today to become altar-conscious. If you’re just starting out, build your heart’s altar to the Lord by making a determination to spend daily time with Him. You may have to repair your neglected altar. That’s all right; just do it and take up where you left off. If you already spend regular times with God, keep it up. Whatever the case, it’s a joy to know that God eagerly desires to spend time with us.
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Here's the book I'm reading!