Tuesday, February 14, 2017

It's Good to be an Outcast!

The study day that I just finished was all about shepherds.  We are looking at the two "I AM" statements "I am the good shepherd" and "I am the gate."  In this we read all the way back to Genesis where the first shepherd was mentioned (Genesis 4).  We read about how Abel watched over flocks while Cain was a farmer.  Abel brought forth fat portions of some of his firstborns while Cain brought random sacrifices.  God showed favor on Abel's sacrifice, which made Cain jealous, and that jealousy in turn caused Cain to kill Abel.

We then read about David, who was "just a shepherd," being annointed as the next king, and then read in Ezekiel about "shepherds" (kings and priests) not taking care of their "flocks," and God stating that He will send one true shepherd to watch over all of His flock.

And then we read about how shepherds were the first ones to hear about Jesus' birth.  Lowly, outcast shepherds!  And finally, we conclude with Jesus' discussion with Peter about how he needs to give up fishing and to "Feed His Lambs," "Take Care of His Sheep," and "Feed His Sheep."  Jesus wanted Peter to be changed from a quick-judging fisherman to a caring shepherd.

Shepherds were the outcasts...the ones least likely to be asked to do anything important, and yet God used them over and over again in the Bible.  The resonated so much with me because in my town (often referred to as "the bubble), I often feel like such an outcast.  We don't have the money that many have, we don't take the trips that people take, we don't have the house that people have.  I also feel like an outcast at times because I really love being a part of my kids' activities...going to every sporting event.  But so many moms here just appear to think about themselves...they attend if it doesn't conflict with their social calendar.

Now don't get me wrong, I wouldn't change my situation or my priorities one bit, but that doesn't mean I don't feel left out at times.  Reading this made me feel so much more confident that God has, is and will continue to use me to do His work!  It probably won't be easy, but nothing good comes easily!


Thursday, February 02, 2017

A Little Behind but Pushing Through :)

So I'm a few days behind in my Bible study, but that doesn't mean it's not on my mind or that I'm not trying to live love anyway :)

The day that I caught up on (I think it was supposed to be Monday?) was pretty powerful to me, but I'm not sure what to really do with it.  There is a quote in it that I absolutely love: "A little gift placed in the hands of a big God can change the world."  I want to take that quote and put it on a wall somewhere in my house!  It can apply to so much!  Right now I'm sitting in my office which has a wall behind it filled with four large canvases of my kids.  This quote seems extremely appropriate when I think of them...small little people, but if I turn them over to God (including all of my worries about whether I'm raising them correctly or doing anything right), then He will use them to change the world!

The part of this day of study that was and continues to be hard for me to process deals with making time a priority.  When you say that to a mom of four kids in sports (some in multiple at once), it can hit a nerve; especially if that mom craves time with her family...a night with nothing going on.  This happens to be a constant battle in our house :(  I just want family time, but John's thoughts are "what did you expect with four kids?"  Honestly?  I didn't expect this much time-sucking until middles school...like when we were kids :(  But he is right...if we want our kids to have the best chances to place the sports they love as long as they possibly can, then they need to be playing them very seriously right now.  And by seriously, I mean that in January Josh was playing baseball three times per week.

The biggest problem we run into is that John coaches Josh's team, and then helps out with Ryan's baseball and basketball teams as much as he can, so he is gone almost every night of the week.  And if by some chance we do have an unscheduled (or even sometimes scheduled) night off, he will end up staying at the office until 8:00 or 9:00 PM.

So what's the right answer?  I feel like the church side says we need to slow down and not be so scheduled, but the prepare-the-kids-for-high-school side says that the more they practice now, the better chances they will have of making the high school team.

I don't know if there is a right answer, but I know that I have to keep praying about it.  I have to ask God to show me times He wants me to slow down.  And that might not even involve anyone else in the house, just me.  And then there might be times that I need to slow the whole family down, or at least be more deliberate in making the family take time together during the time that we are all together.

Friday, January 27, 2017

Still Going!

Good Morning!
So I would definitely consider yesterday (Wednesday) another success!  The day started with the big kids going off to school and the little boys getting ready without any fighting.  I have a step class at the gym that I like to go to on Wednesday mornings, and lately it's gotten really crowded, so I needed to get there early to get a spot.  So for the first time I had Colton walk to school with Ryan without me.  I put myself above my thoughts of what a "perfect" parent should do.

After my class, I headed home for a super fast shower because I wanted to head over to the other side of the city and hit a furniture store that was closing along with another very large furniture store that was over there.  I only had about 3 hours until the kids would be home, so I had to move fast!  On my way out of my town, Kylie texted me telling me that she was crying and there was drama with her friends.  Now in the past, I would have immediately gotten angry at the fact that my afternoon plans appeared to be messed up, as well become emotionally involved in her drama, which would have led to me trying to fix the problems and give her all kinds of "advice."  Instead, I pulled the car into the next neighborhood I came to and parked.  I continued texting with her for a little bit and told her that I would come and get her if she really needed me to, but that I needed to run some errands so she had better tell me quickly what she wants to do.  In the end, she stayed at school and I continued on my drive with only a 15 minute delay.

The rest of the day was good...I got home right before the big kids got home from school and gave Kylie lots of hugs.  I worked with Josh on his homework and started making dinner.  All of these things lately had been driving me crazy.  I was sick of "mom" jobs, but I felt more like my old self and it felt great!

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Day 1 & 2 :)

OK, so while I didn't get to complete my Bible study homework yesterday, I was able to watch the video teaching, which was better than nothing.  It's amazing how if I'm really watching, I can clearly see how satan does everything he can to distract me.

I started my day relaxed...nothing hurried, nothing rushed.  I was going to the gym but I wouldn't let that feeling of "I have to get out of this house right now" creep in...I took my time and got a bunch of stuff done around the house.  Lesson #1 learned, I should have done my Bible study before going to the gym, but alas, I didn't.

As the day went on, I went to the gym and then went to a couple of stores looking for chairs for some rooms that I'm going to have painted.  I was very relaxed!  Then my sister called me to say that she was coming into town (I had offered to watch my niece if she did so she could go and look for cars).  Again, I carefully did not rush, I finished my errands, came home and got ready.  Wouldn't you know it that as soon as I sat down to my computer to do the Bible study, she pulls in?  So the rest of the day was spent with my adorable little niece and then taking care of the kids when they got home from school :)

However, even though I was not able to do my Bible study, I was able to practice "loving patiently" successfully all day...until last night :(  But even then I came out of it on the higher end.  There was a series of events (as it always happens) where my daughter said a very hurtful thing to me, Colton didn't listen, I slammed my finger in the drawer, and then Colton didn't listen again.  I lost it!  But then I calmed myself down and was able to watch a TV show with Josh and then talk to John about the whole thing when he got home from baseball with Ryan.

Today was a different story!  While I started a lot of things around the house (laundry, cleaning the kitchen, etc.), I sat down throughout the day and worked on yesterday's homework and today (so I'm caught up!).  I had one of Colton's friends come over so he has been pretty entertained all day - I've only had to feed them and occasionally help them out with something.

What I learned in Bible Study:
Day 1:
1.) There are two words for life used in the Bible: bios and zoe.  Bios refers to physical life and zoe refers to looking to the fullness of life (the fullness of God). These two types of life are a "both and" not an "either or."
2.) Go allows us to experience spiritual hunger because he wants us to desperately need AND want Him.
3.) Good verse to remember:
Matthew 6:33
But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.
4.) My declaration: I have to stop expecting to feel fulfilled by people in this physical world!

Day 2:
1.) Feeding the 5,000 - this is the only miracle that is talked about in all four gospels.
2.) This is the miracle performed right before Jesus' I Am statement that He is the bread of life...His disciples still don't really understand who He is and what He is capable of doing!

So far today I think I have done a really great job of "loving patiently" again!  I am beyond amazed at how "easy" it has been.  I say that in quotes because I know it's only "easy" because I prayed for this and John is praying for me...there is no other way to even begin to explain the complete shift in feelings from one night to the next morning.  When I depend on God, good things happen!

'Til tomorrow!

Monday, January 23, 2017

I'm Going To Try This Again...

Life is really crazy at my house right now...really crazy.  So crazy that I'm not really enjoying it at all.  I'm trying to figure out how to deal with it because my unhappiness is really affecting the whole family, and that is the last thing that I want.  So I thought that if I keep myself accountable with blog posts then maybe I can kick this!

Here are some of the other things that I'm going to try this week:
1.) I have a new Bible study starting...Proverbs 31 Online Bible Studies - I Am by Lysa TerKeurst
2.) Each day I'm going to work at practicing "Love" according to I Corinthians 13.  Today is "Patience."
3.) I'm going to try really, really hard to not put so much pressure on myself.  I look at everything my kids do and every single parenting decision I make as how it will affect them long-term.  This pressure is too great for me to handle!  Sometimes my kids are going to talk back to me, and I can't extrapolate that to mean they will be horrible, bratty teenagers if I don't punish them at that moment for talking back.

So hopefully with all of these things, and a lot of prayer, I can go back to being happy with my life.  I have to trust that God is in control of me and that this trial that I'm going through is teaching me something (or lots of somethings).  We happen to be studying James at church right now, so the timing of all of this just proves that God is taking care of me!

Thursday, December 03, 2015

I'm Back?

OK, a couple years off...it's amazing to think that I had time to write blog posts when I was working, but now that I'm home, I haven't been able to find time in the last 2 1/2 years to write anything :(  That's going to change right now!  Our family is going through so much right now and I want it captured.  I want to be able to pull these pages out when my kids have their own kids and show them the struggles that we went through and how we dealt with them (or at least prove that we went through them and have come out on the other side).  Life is flying by so quickly right now that this is probably the only way that I'm going to remember it...so here I go...again!

The kids have obviously gotten older...Kylie is 12 and in 7th grade, Josh is 10 and in 5th grade (last year of elementary school :( ), Ryan is 7 and in 2nd grade and Colton is just about to turn 5.  Kylie is still a competitive gymnast (level 7), but is currently injured with a stress fracture in the growth plate in her wrist :( so we are working through her trying to stay in shape while it heals all while she is stressing about not having her skills for competition season in January.  Josh will play his third year of travel baseball next season (practices start in January), which absolutely consumes our lives.  He played baseball from April last year all the way through August 9th - it was a ton of baseball.  Ryan will join him this year as he made the 8U travel baseball team - two Thunder players!  Colton has just started sports this year with flag football this past fall and ninja classes at Kylie's gym.  Wow, just writing all of that has exhausted me!  But it's our life and for the most part, it's very enjoyable ;)

The only way that this has all been possible is that I stopped working outside the home 2 1/2 years ago.  God had put it on my heart for a while before then that I should be home with the kids, but I didn't listen :(  We all know what happens when we don't listen, and 2 1/2 years ago He made is perfectly clear that I was to be home, and of course, He was so right.  The amount of time needed to run the house, raise a child that is still home full-time and get these kids to all the practices, but most importantly, games and meets, was more than I could have handled if I was still working.  And I thank God everyday that I am able to be home...I feel so blessed to be able to stay home and enjoy my last little guy (who goes to Kindergarten next year...yikes!) and still be in such a wonderful community.  I get the best of both worlds now...home with the kids but I do the accounting for John's business, so I get to go to work one day a week for a few hours.

I also wouldn't be able to accomplish all of this if my parents didn't live next door.  I have no idea what I would do without my mom!  She watches Colton so much for me (which allows me to help out at school and go to work and take the kids to their doctor appointments without having to worry about having to entertain a 4 year-old among other things).  When my dad is up on the weekends he takes Colton with him to the school and has lunch with Ryan every Friday.  The kids are always running back and forth between our houses and I LOVE IT! 

I think this is a good start ;)  Hopefully this can become my morning ritual...quiet time with my coffee and memories :)

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Happy 4th Birthday Colton!

Colton!  You turned 4 years old today!  You have been looking forward to this day for a very long time, and it's been fun because I don't remember the other kids being so excited about their birthdays this young.

All you wanted to do for your birthday was go to Chuck E. Cheese's.  You have told me that for weeks.  So I booked you a party and we had both sets of grandparents, Aunt Cindy, Aunt Mimi, Uncle Jim and Mya and Mason there.  You played games for over an hour, ate pizza, blew out your candles and ate cake, and then went in the ticket blaster (which you had been looking forward to for weeks!).  You knew exactly what you would get with this party because you had seen the commercial so many times :)  The theme of your party was superheroes, and all you wanted on your cake was Batman and Superman.  Unfortunately the lady who was supposed to do your cake thought I needed it the next weekend, so I ran to Kroger after church and they whipped me up and awesome Batman cake for you!  It all worked out :)

You have grown up so much this past year!  For a while, I was really struggling with you and your crying and your fits and your stubbornness.  I had every intention of making a doctor's appointment for you because I was sure there were some psychological issues that we needed to figure out.  But then, you grew up :)  I don't know exactly when or how it happened, but I know I hit a point where I looked at life and thought that it was actually getting easier.  I used to dread taking you places...I never did it because you were so horrible!  But now, I love the trips we take during the day!  We go to Wal-Mart and you play on the firetruck when I check out and we get Auntie Ann's pretzel-dogs for lunch, we go to Giant Eagle and you ride in the car (you used to go to the play area but they shut that down :( ).  I can even take you to work with me when I go into Daddy's office!  Now that is an accomplishment!  I love the time that you and I get alone everyday!  Which was why I was so glad that you told me you don't want to go to preschool ;)

I'm pretty sure you are left handed.  You throw with your left hand and you bat left handed. Sometimes you still write/color with your right hand, but you usually switch over.  You are slowly fading yourself out of a booster seat at the table...you will sit in it for dinner, and sometimes breakfast, but a lot of times you will nicely ask if you can sit in the big boy chair and you do a great job!  You know your numbers and you are constantly working on what sounds the letters make.  You know how to spell your name :)  First and last :)

You love to play with Legos, cars, planes, and iPads :)  You and Ryan are such buddies (and yet bicker so often!) and will play cars and planes together.  Ryan will build you things with Legos and you will play with them.  You never stop moving.  You have more energy than I know what to do with ;)  which is probably why you are skin and bones and yet probably eat the most of any of the kids. Outside you love to swing, jump on the trampoline, play baseball and football, and mow :) When we go to baseball games, you have your backpack full of cars and planes, and we usually try to pack your mower as well.

You talk like an adult at times and it's hilarious!  Today your dad was making a comment that he shouldn't have done something and you reported right back to him that he had made a bad decision :) You love to retort back, rolling your eyes, with "of course..." (i.e. "of course I'm not going to eat.").

Mr. Colton I love you with all of my heart!  You crack me up and yet also make me want to pull my hair out.  I've often tried to imagine where you will go in life and I just can't see it yet.  You will either be CEO of a company or the goofiest person anyone knows :)  I will tell you one thing - you have the stubbornness (err, OK, the determination) to do WHATEVER YOU WANT! Seriously, you don't take "no" from anyone, and while it's killing me right now, I know that it will do great things for you down the road.

Thank you for surprising us 4 years ago...I can't imagine my life without my little 1/11/11 guy!