Monday, December 31, 2012

2012 in Review

No, it can't be time AGAIN! Really, another year has already flew by?! It seems it has.

Somehow, the older I get, the faster time wants to go. Why is that? When I was young & anxiously awaiting something, it took F O R E V E R, but now that I am trying to slow down, I can't!

2012 was filled with ups & downs, laughter & tears, triumphs & disappointments. G.R.A.C.E has reached out & encouraged more people than I could imagine.  Blessed Boutique is allowing me to do what I enjoy while still being home.

In a nutshell this year we have had 1 child stop believing in Santa & the tooth fairy, 1 child lost their first 2 teeth, 1 child to take their first steps. We have bought a dirt bike, a go cart, a 4 wheeler, a truck, a new engine for the Suburban, & a new washer & dryer. We have played football, soccer, baseball, & cheer leading. We have dealt with RSV - twice, ear infections - too many to count, a gash in a head, a leg almost sawed off, bumps, bruises, black eyes, & bloody noses. We have left one church in order to follow God's will for Justin to become a pastor.

Thankfully, through it all, I can still say that I am BLESSED! God is good!

Here are a few of my favorite posts from the past year -

Here's to the close of 2012 & the promise of 2013!

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Just Another Job?

As I was getting breakfast at a local drive thru this morning, I couldn't help but notice a young man who worked there. He stood with his back to me most of the time but it was still obvious that he had no desire to be there this morning or even possibly ever. He leaned his head against the window frame appearing to be exhausted, he twirled drink trays as if he was bored to tears, and as he shoved my food out the window,which turned my pancakes upside down, he mumbled "have a nice day".

I immediately thought that he must hate his job and pondered over why people choose to continue on in something when they are obviously miserable. (I know sometimes there isn't another choice.) We have all been there - stuck doing something that we don't want to do. Or maybe performing a job where we don't get the credit we think we deserve.

God showed me right then that I have been behaving the same way with my job. Only my job isn't only a job, it is my passion, it is my life. Motherhood is my career, it is my calling, it is my ministry.

Far too often, I have treated it as merely a job. Something to bear through another day. Finding any way to survive with my sanity somewhat in tact.

Its time I we all start embracing our own callings with open arms - that's the best position to be in for lots of hugs!

1 Corinthians 10:31 "Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God."

Colossians 3:17 "And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him."

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Elf on the Shelf ~ Goodbye Twinkle

Goodbye Twinkle. See you again soon.

Christmas Isn't Always Merry

For the 2nd morning in a row, I have woke up around 4am. Yesterday, I tried my best to ignore it. I laid in the bed tossing & turning. I even managed to doze off a few times. But I sure was in a bad mood when I finally got up. I don't take kindly to lack of sleep.

Then again this morning. I laid in bed for a little while, but this time, my mind was running wide open. All of a sudden, I had 2 or 3 people that I just could not get out of my head. God was wanting my attention & my prayers.

I planned on getting up early anyway so I could be ready for Christmas before the kids woke up. I just hadn't planned on that early.

While I was praying for these people, more & more names & faces came to mind. An overwhelming sadness drifted across my heart at the empty places that will be in homes this morning - children, parents, brother, sisters, grandparents, friends. No doubt far too many of those missing loved ones have presents wrapped under a tree.

Each & every one of us have experienced grief in our lives & no doubt will suffer through more before our time on earth is over.

While you take extra time to embrace your kids, spouses, & loved ones, please continue to pray for those staring at empty places. Those holes left in our hearts have a hard time being repaired.

God bless you & yours on this blessed Christmas morning!

Saturday, December 22, 2012

The Theory of the Little Gold Band

Last night, while getting ready for bed, my wonderful hubby looked at me & said "You're the most beautiful woman in the world" (again). I laughed & said "You're crazy" (again).

Now, before you start throwing tomatoes at me - let me assure you that this is a funny story!! I know that many women are saying "I wish my husband thought I was the most beautiful woman in the world" & some are probably saying "I wish my husband just told me I looked pretty once in a while" & some are no doubt even saying "You're his wife, he's supposed to think you are beautiful".

I know all of this - bare with me & my humor. I promise you will at least chuckle at it!

So I looked at him & said "I've got it! I know what the problem is! Your wedding band is too tight & its cutting off all the circulation to your brain. It's making you delusional."

He laughed & said "Nope, you forgot that I haven't had it on lately thanks to this job." (He can't wear it to work for safety reasons.)

I said "Well then, you're not used to it being off, so therefore now all the oxygen rich blood is rushing to your head & making you delusional."

Wait a minute - If you think this theory doesn't apply just because your wedding ring isn't gold, think again buddy! This proven scientific theory transcends ALL shape, size, color, material, & symbolism. It's even certifiable!

HAHAHAHA - I'm just full of smarticles!

Now, smile, you know it was funny!

Elf on the Shelf ~ BRRRR

Twinkle get OUT of the freezer!!! You cannot invite friends over to go ice skating anytime you want to!

Friday, December 21, 2012

Whose Dream is This?

When I was little, the only thing I EVER remember saying I wanted to do when I grew up was make a difference to someone. My future ideas of an occupation might have changed as quickly as the seasons blew by, but I KNEW, deep down, somehow, I needed to make a difference in someone's life. I had dreams of teaching, nursing, a corner office, a musical career, fame, fortune, big city living - you name it & I probably thought about it!

The one thing I didn't think about was being a mom. Oh, I knew I wanted kids, but that never defined my future. I most certainly never dreamed that I would be a stay at home mom let alone a homeschool mom. And if someone had told me I would be a pastor's wife, I would have laughed until I cried. Nope - that wasn't my dream for the future.

Well, let me just say that priorities change drastically the older you get & whoever thinks that God doesn't have a sense of humor, needs to think again.

So here I am. I no longer dream of fame, fortune, or big city living. I still have big dreams, but now they revolve around my husband, my kids, my farm, & God's will.

Does that mean that every day is sunshine & roses?

Sweetheart, you obviously don't know me if you think my life is that grand!

We struggle. We fuss. We fight. We worry. We cry. We battle periods of attitude, guilt, rage, selfishness, & depression. But we also laugh, smile, love, & praise.

Somedays I wonder if this is really what my life is meant to be. I mean really. How am I supposed to cook, clean, teach, play, do laundry, balance the checkbook, run an at home business, spend time with my husband, explore my own interests, not neglect my friends, & find time for God? HOW? There are not enough hours in the day!

Day in, day out brings the same story again. Wake husband up before the sun even considers rising, fall back asleep. Wake up to the baby crying, begging PLEASE go back to sleep, it's still dark. Throw clothes on because even if the baby did go back to sleep, I'm wide awake. Play on Internet a few quite minutes. Try to wake kids up, occasionally resulting to anger when they don't listen. Face the breakfast dilemma again. Battle through school with cries of "I don't know how to do this" "I don't want to do this" & "I need your help". Get a few chores done during baby's nap, only to have him make a bigger mess when he wakes up. Lunch. A little more school followed quickly by "Please go outside & leave me alone". Maybe get in a little exercise while the baby lays down again & then if I'm lucky a shower as well. Hubby's home but he has a ton of stuff to do as well. "Honey, what's for dinner?" Oh crap, I have no idea! Hmmmmm, maybe I can find something the kids will actually eat. Bathtime & finally bedtime. I feel like I'm stuck in a Suburbia version of Groundhog's Day.

Does this mean that I hate my life?

Absolutely not!

Does this mean that I wish I could swap lives with someone else for a few days?


Does this mean I fantasize about a deserted tropical island where children are not allowed?

Quite frequently!

Does this mean that I need to be more thankful for the season I'm in right now because time passes far too quickly?

Most certainly!

Do you ever wonder what in the world you were thinking when you signed on for this whole motherhood thing?

Sister, you are not alone. But remember, you are BLESSED!

Amongst all the dirty dishes, smelly laundry, sticky floors, buckets of Lego's, & chaos that is motherhood, you are doing the one job that NO ONE else can do! You were chosen specifically by God to mother your children & be a wife to your husband!

Keep on, keeping on!

1st Corinthians 10:31 "Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God."

Oh, & in case you were wondering...I did achieve my dream! I am making a difference in my kids lives everyday! I may not bring home a typical paycheck, but hugs, kisses, & crowns are worth far more than mere money!

Sometimes we just need reminding that "For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away." & "To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven"

Elf on the Shelf ~ Popcorn?

Twinkle made a popcorn garland for our trees outside. 

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Festival of Lights

Two years ago, my little family took off to Pilot Mountain to check out a Christmas light display. I can't remember how we found out about it, but it was well worth the trip. You actually get to walk through these lights.

Its been a few years (I'm not even sure if Makenzie was born yet) since we have been to Tanglewood. There's just sooo much hype & sooo much traffic that it doesn't top our list of fun festive things to do. Well, we decided to go this year.

Let me just say that well into the first hour of waiting with an overly tired toddler who was having a fit to get out of his car seat, two kids who thought it would be fun to repeatedly climb & flip over the back seat of my Suburban, alternately whine that they had to PEE, & occasionally freak out at the police officers directing traffic because they were no longer buckled, (no worries - we were off the main road & in stand still traffic) & a husband who choose really cheesy Christmas songs to play, I was wondering what had possessed me to even suggest this adventure.

That all gave way to sheer bliss at watching all three of my babies cram into the front seat onto Daddy's & Papa's laps so they could see better.

Sometimes we forget too easily what it is like to see the amazement of our world through innocent eyes!

Remembering Sandy Hook Elementary

I am writing this post more for myself than anyone else. I know that everyone has seen these stories & poems. I wanted a special place to have them all together for future remembrance.

December 14, 2012 is yet another day that will go down in American infamy. Too many tragic events mar the timeline in American history. Its a shame that evil is so prevalent in our society today.

Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Ct will now forever be remembered as the place where 20 kindergarten children & 6 teachers were mercilessly gunned down. The media is relentless in their airing of this senseless act of violence. Everything from encouraging words, to those precious angels' faces, to conspiracy theories, to gun control are all anyone can discuss right now.

I don't mind the news coverage. In fact I find it hard to turn away when its on TV. But I can't help but wonder if this somehow desensitizes America to violence.

We must never get to the point where murder, evil, & violence become second nature to us!

This poem by Cameo Smith brought tears to my eyes.
"Twas' 11 days before Christmas, around 9:38
when 20 beautiful children stormed through heaven's gate.
Their smiles were contagious, their laughter filled the air.
They could hardly believe all the beauty they saw there.
They were filled with such joy; they didn't know what to say.
They remembered nothing of what had happened earlier that day.
“Where are we?" asked a little girl, as quiet as ...a mouse.
“This is heaven" declared a small boy. "We’re spending Christmas at God's house”.
When what to their wondering eyes did appear,
but Jesus, their savior, the children gathered near.
He looked at them and smiled, and they smiled just the same.
Then He opened His arms and He called them by name.
And in that moment was joy, that only heaven can bring
those children all flew into the arms of their King
and as they lingered in the warmth of His embrace,
one small girl turned and looked at Jesus' face.
And as if He could read all the questions she had
He gently whispered to her, "I'll take care of mom and dad.
“Then He looked down on earth, the world far below
He saw all of the hurt, the sorrow, and woe,
then He closed His eyes and He outstretched His hand,
“Let My power and presence re-enter this land!
“May this country be delivered from the hands of fools”
“I’m taking back my nation. I'm taking back my schools!
“Then He and the children stood up without a sound.
“Come now my children let me show you around.
“Excitement filled the space, some skipped and some ran.
All displaying enthusiasm that only a small child can.
And I heard Him proclaim as He walked out of sight,
“in the midst of this darkness,” I AM STILL THE LIGHT."

Max Lucado's "A Christmas Prayer" reminds us that darkness is not a new thing.
"Dear Jesus,
It's a good thing you were born at night. This world sure seems dark. I have a good eye for silver linings. But they seem dimmer lately.
These killings, Lord. These children, Lord. Innocence violated. Raw evil demonstrated.
The whole world seems on edge. Trigger-happy. Ticked off. We hear threats of chemical weapons and nuclear bombs. Are we one button-push away from annihilation?
Your world seems a bit darker this Christmas. But you were born in the dark, right? You came at night. The shepherds were nightshift workers. The Wise Men followed a star. Your first cries were heard in the shadows. To see your face, Mary and Joseph needed a candle flame. It was dark. Dark with Herod's jealousy. Dark with Roman oppression. Dark with poverty. Dark with violence.
Herod went on a rampage, killing babies. Joseph took you and your mom into Egypt. You were an immigrant before you were a Nazarene.
Oh, Lord Jesus, you entered the dark world of your day. Won't you enter ours? We are weary of bloodshed. We, like the wise men, are looking for a star. We, like the shepherds, are kneeling at a manger.
This Christmas, we ask you, heal us, help us, be born anew in us.

Your Children"

When Forever is no Longer Forever

I've heard so many people debate whether divorce really affects children or not. I have always had my own opinions & convictions about this topic.

The Bible clearly states that God wants a marriage to last forever. He only gives 2 acceptable reasons for divorce - adultery & irreconcilable differences in religious beliefs. Now, He's not talking about a mere 1 time occurrence of cheating here, He's talking about over & over & over again without any regard for saving the marriage or attempting to change one's habits. God also doesn't mean petty little spats & disagreements over what you think is right or wrong. This is clearly when one spouse is saved & the other has hardened their heart so much that it is disrupting your everyday lives. Then, & only then, does God give "permission" for divorce. Does that mean He approves? Absolutely not, but He understands.

Regardless of what the Bible says, I know that many, many people that choose to leave their spouse. As humans, we have come to accept this as normal. Sometimes, we try to convince them to work it out. Sometimes, we say they are better off. Most often, it doesn't even cause us to falter.

How sad is it, that we live in a society where we throw away the person we pledged our undying affection to just as easily as we throw out last week's leftovers? We have truly become an unfeeling, uncaring nation of people.

Back to the original statement. I know far too many children that have been devastated when divorce comes knocking at their door. Questions of "Why me", "What did I do wrong", "How can I fix this", "Will mom/dad still love me", "Does true love still exist" circulate faster than a Texas tornado in spring.

Let me just say that these feelings of inadequacy do not cease with age.

By now, you might be asking yourself if I have ANY idea what I am talking about. Well, yes & no.

My parents have been married 36 years. That seems like a lifetime in today's time frame. 36 years is a major accomplishment any way you look at it.

I have been saying for years that I have no idea how or why they have stayed together. Do they fight that often? Nope, they hardly ever fight. Even growing up, I hardly ever say them disagree. But you know what else I never saw? Affection. Sure my dad would kiss my mom good night & tell her he loved her, but that's about the extent of it.

My mom finally dropped the bomb on me last week. She is no longer in love with my dad & hasn't been happy for years. Even though it wasn't a huge surprise to me, it still hurt. I mean it HURT. Thinking something myself verses hearing it out loud has two totally different results.

Of course my responses consisted of "Are you sure", "Have you told him how you feel", "Are you leaving him", "Have you considered counseling", "Have you tried making more effort to do things together". In a nutshell, she has no desire to work things out.

These are my PARENTS. How do I respond to that? I'm NOT supposed to be their counselor!

So when I talked to my dad, I told him they needed to talk & she wasn't happy. He already knew this. The marriage has been dead for years. It turns out that me & my kids are the glue holding it together.

Now does this mean that I get the honor of joining the ever increasing number of children from broken homes? Who knows.
In a way, I always have been. I've referred to them for too many years to count as either mom or dad, hardly ever both of them. Many people already think they are divorced because they are never together.

They may follow through with divorce. They may continue on pretending for everyone else. Or they may fall back in love. I'm not holding my breath for any of these.


That means when I fall apart, everything else does too!

Elf on the Shelf ~ Ready for an Adventure

Twinkle, did you think the mirror was a mountain to repel down??

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Elf on the Shelf ~ A Helping Hand

Thanks Twinkle for putting Austin's Halo Lego fighter plane together. Shew, I bet that took a LONG time!

Friday, December 14, 2012

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Elf on the Shelf ~ Mission Impossible

Looks like Twinkle is on a recon mission. Does anyone else hear the theme to Mission: Impossible?

Monday, December 10, 2012

Elf on the Shelf ~ A Gift

Matthew 2:11 "And when they were come into the house, they saw the young child with Mary his mother, and fell down, and worshipped him: and when they had opened their treasures, they presented unto him gifts; gold, and frankincense and myrrh."

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Elf on the Shelf ~ The M&Ms Shrunk

This morning, we found Twinkle in a bowl full of M&Ms. They weren't regular M&Ms. These were little ones. Its almost like she shrunk them. She also left a note telling the kids to plant some of them..... WHAT is that crazy elf up to now???

So, we planted them.....

And "watered" them with Coke.....

Oh & she fixed Makenzie's bracelet too. How sweet.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Monday, December 3, 2012

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Elf on the Shelf ~ Breakfast is Served

Twinkle was so nice. She brought us breakfast. Hopefully no one will crash from the sugar high later! Who knew that candy canes would color AND flavor milk?

Saturday, December 1, 2012

I’m Waiting on the Bigger & Better

Sometimes certain people have been in your life so long it’s hard to remember where they came from, how they got there, & even how you l...