Thursday, May 26, 2011

Update #2

In a total moment of self glorification- I would also like to give a quick update on my weight loss journey. I have lost 10 lbs. I am at the weight I was when I got preggo with Ava. I still have toning to do, but I feel awesome. I realize it isn't so much about the mirror (although having clothes fit better IS a plus); I feel good because I am taking care of myself. It just feels incredible to be making good choices and finding success in it.

My husband can't keep his comments or his hands to himself....but I'm not so sure that is a plus. I appreciate the comments, but I have three kids touching me all day- the last thing I want is a grope from a grown man.

Note- my husband will perhaps accuse me of slight exaggeration, but I reserve the right to blog about the world as I see it;) AND if I'm honest it is nice that he thinks I'm a hot tamale cuz his view of sexy is the only one that really me, anyway;)

I guess you can only resist so much...

Just an "important" update. I DID prioritize correctly the past two days...well, except re. the small detail of SLEEP;P See, I thought maybe verbalizing my addiction, admitting it, etc., might cure it, but the truth is, I don't want a cure; I want to flippin' know who won American Idol! So...while I did chose what is more important FIRST, I also realized I am leaving for vacation on Thursday and it is very important for me to relax while there. Can a girl really relax without know the result of American Idol? I mean, REALLY? Then I'd have to spend the whole week avoiding media...and vacation is the only time I actually get a moment to read the paper;) SO...I've stayed up late watching my shows... and YES! I AM excited about the winners (though I liked both finalists of American Idol so much I would have been happy either way;). Yes, I am tired. REALLY tired to be honest (I mean let's not forget I was up until 11 Monday with Beiber Fever!)...but tomorrow morning bright and early I will be on a plane for FL. Starting Saturday my children will be in circus school every morning and I will be catchin' up on zzz's in the sunshine....

(yes, I am ignoring the fact that predicts rain every day of our vacation!)

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Addicted to...

I discussed my mental fragility of late yesterday. Today, as I got up, I made sure to start the day with prayer and quiet time. The day has been good. As I continued to chip away at my "to dos" and consider my schedule until vacation, I realized I have a small reality TV!
Embarrassing? Why, yes! Still, I found myself arranging my evening schedule around Biggest Loser and American Idol. Thank goodness Survivor, Amazing Race, and America's Next Top Model Ended in the last couple weeks and I am still in the "I will not watch that stupid show again" phase re. The Bachelorette (we'll see if I can avoid getting sucked in once the facebook comments start;P)

I don't know what it is...I just love these shows. I even can pull my husband in to watch. Oh, there are good things about them, don't get me wrong- watching people change their lives is exciting...but to find myself making it a priority is just craziness! INSANITY, I tell you!

Now...should I also take this time to confess that I ordered the Justin Beiber movie on pay per view last night and made my husband watch it with me. AND tell you that we both found it incredibly interesting and stayed up too late finishing it...

Monday, May 23, 2011

Pardon Me, Priorities...

I have virtually been a mental basket case of late;) Somehow, life just kind of got out of control! My in laws visit was wonderful but it kind of threw off our regular rhythm and was then followed immediately by two weekends away. Lots of good things but little time to process and little time to get done the necessary.

I found myself paralyzed with anxiety at the end of last week. I felt my "to do" list every growing and was so overwhelmed I wanted to hide from life. Our schedule was still jam packed and I found myself wondering how I had let life so quickly get out of control.

I did the first thing I could on Thursday afternoon- I napped. Granted it, it didn't knock anything off the "to do" list, but I remembered clearly our old pastor saying, "sometimes the most holy thing you can do is take a nap." I don't know if the exercise was holy or a mild moment of depression, but it felt heavenly. Friday morning, after realizing I was being a negative Nelly with friends, I took some time to listen to God instead of letting my thoughts spiral out of control and frantically try to outpace my ever racing heart.

God gave me a picture of myself bending over with my head in the sand. I was pounding at the sand with my fists because I couldn't breathe and all the while God's hand was there to help me pull my head up and realize there was oxygen all around if only I quit focusing on all the sand.

Amazingly, things are getting done, but what I have been trying to process is how to prioritize life a bit better. I am making friends here and I REALLY like friends. Yet part of me is still frantically striving to build these friendships instead of relaxing and letting God take the lead! I am worried, wasting mental energy, fretting about who I forgot to call or email, etc. It's like I'm stuck on this treadmill and just needed to get off. He has blessed me and somehow in the last month I have forgotten that and felt the need to do it all myself!

I was freakin' out about weight loss because I am actually AT the weight I was when I got pregnant with Ava but still a size bigger. I know I need to exercise, but where to fit it in?

In all my fretting and pacing, what is most important was getting completely lost. First, my spiritual health is paramont. What good is strengthening a body if my soul is getting weak? What good is focusing on myself if God is getting put on the back burner in the process? Second, time with my family is more important than any "to do".

I believe a clean house is important but it has it's place. Friday evening we hosted small group. Amazingly I had the house cleaned in time- well, maybe not so amazing since my wonderful husband came home at 3pm and took the kids to the park so I could finish up;) All of a sudden a clean house made life seem calm. I realized my "to do" list wasn't so long. Living in a state of chaos just doesn't work for me...or my husband for that matter. What I need to learn to do, however, is find the balance. I hate mess of any kind. I can downright destroy fun if I am feeling OCD about the house.

Though I completely didn't deserve it, I know God helped me on Saturday morning. We had a couple hours here before heading down to Chicago for a birthday party, I had big plans for getting things done, but then my daughter asked me to curl her hair. In that moment, the Spirit held my eyes wide open and I knew laundry could wait. I spent an hour curling Ava's hair and the smile on her face was priceless. How thankful I am that God cares enough to make sure I didn't miss that! But to be honest, I know without a doubt there are countless moments I have squandered in the name of clean dishes or folded laundry. Time with my children is fleeting and I can be so easily deceived into believing little things don't matter; Ava was filled with gratitude that I curled her hair. That hour mattered greatly to "to do"s were pushed back a day and didn't seem to mind one bit!

So here is the bottom line- I have some reprioritizing to do. We just happen to be leaving for Club Med on Friday. YAY! for vacation (not just vacation, but vacation that includes childcare)! I cannot wait to sit by the pool, but more importantly I cannot wait to spend EXTENDED time with Jesus asking him to help me get my heart in line with his heart. I want to do a good job at this homemaking thing. I want to please my husband and make his heart glad when he is with me. Sometimes life just clouds my vision. Oh, that I would be still and hear the voice of God leading me moment by moment, day by day...whether life is busy and chaotic or slow and peaceful. Oh that my focus will not be on sand, but on the God who is willing to take me by the hand and lead me.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Pictures from last week;)

Y, I am seriously posting more blogs in day than I usually do in a month! It's just been a jam packed kind of time!

Here are some photos from last week. I'll save you the long narration and simply comment on the photos;)

A typical day in my life- while I am picking up the living room, they destroy the kitchen...

But at least they have a organizing shelf has become batman's prison;)

The cake I made Ava's Teachers for Parent Appreciation Week.

Phin very proudly brought me a bouquet of sticks;) on our FIRST warm day.

The differences between boys and girls continue;)

Snapped a pic of our happy girl getting ready to go on stage for her school performance...she's kind of lovin' the spotlight;)

My Chloe turned 11 months old...where does time go?

Ladies Weekend AWAY!

I try to get away a couple times a year. I love my children (and my hubby, of course), but I find myself getting burnt out sometimes. A weekend away with girls is always a time of refreshing. Last summer, my husband was having a little guys weekend away and I knew I'd have to wait a while, until I was done nursing Chloe, to have my turn. I also knew that since it would have been a long while since getting away, that I wanted it to be extra special. I emailed my two closest friends from college to see if they would mind hanging with me for a couple days this spring.

I hadn't seen my friend Jenny in a few years. I hadn't spent time with just these girls (no kids or hubbies) since our weddings!! It was wonderful!

We talked A LOT. I felt like I was so excited the whole time that I talked too much and was probably border line obnoxious. I was like a kid in the candy store. So much has changed since our college days and yet these girls KNOW me. We have deep history. We have shared many joys and tears. I simply adore them.

I came home exhausted (it's so hard to go to bed when you are with besties!) but SOO refreshed. I also am still processing half of our conversations. MAN we covered everything from sex to politics to disciplining our children! We have different viewpoints and yet all love Jesus and one another. If you don't have friends like this, FIND ONE. I learn and grow each time I am with these women. It's easy to think your view point is the only one or the right one, but it's not! While we won't always AGREE, we can listen to one another and understand another view point and that is a gift! Thank you girls for loving me and letting me love you in return! XOXOXO

May 8- A Mother's Day and Birthday

Sunday we, of course, celebrated Mother's Day, but this year my father's birthday (also 5/8) trumped the day. My dad turned 60! If you don't know my dad already, you'll see in the pictures that he looks amazing; what you cannot see is that beneath his svelt young exterior lies an even more amazing heart and soul.

My dad had this little thing he was probably unaware of- every time we were in the car with him when we passed a Ruth's Chris Steakhouse, he'd say, "Have you guys ever been there? I've heard it's really good." We HAD been there and we knew indeed it is VERY good and there was no better place to chose to celebrate the big day!

The restaurant was kind enough to give us a private room for our family, a favor that benefitted them as much as it did us- we were after all bringing along three children under the age of two;) The privacy felt extra special and I hope my Papa did too!

Happy Birthday to truly one of the most amazing men alive. Very few people I know have father's that so wonderfully lived out scripture in an authentic, loving way. I truly believe my view of God has been shaped by the love, wisdom, authority, and grace my dad has lived out in our home. I KNOW I am blessed beyond words by having a dad of great character and I know each of my sisters AND our husbands feel the same way. Words cannot describe how grateful we are for him!

My Family;) (I know! They are good lookin', right?!)

This picture really has nothing to do with my dad, but it is adorable. Phin was "sitting" so quietly eating his fries it took us a while to notice the poor little guys had fallen asleep in his chair! (What I wouldn't give to be able to sleep anywhere like that!)

May 7- Covenant Friendships are a gift unlike any other

Blogger was down all last week so I am now playing "catch up".

We are blessed with friends. There isn't really a fancy way to say it- it just is a fact. We have some amazing friends. I haven't always appreciated friendship. In fact, I have many regrets from high school and college over times I failed a friend. It is through those learnings, that I have become a better friend and learned the value of true friendship,
of forgiveness, of love.

Saturday we got together with a group of friends that we don't live near; still, we live life alongside them. God has placed all of us in different locations over the past couple years and yet he has seen fit to keep us connected in an amazing way and I believe for his good purpose and glory.

Dear friends of ours are working in Tanzania. They had to come home for a medical emergency. We were fortunate to be able to see them while they were home. On Saturday, four couples got together minus the kiddos for a time of encouragement and prayer before this particular couple returns home to Africa. I cannot express to you how amazing each of these people are. When I am in their presence I just want to love Jesus MORE. There are moments in your life that you KNOW are a gift, this evening was one such moment.

(Rox brought me the cloth the use [hopefully she'll comment and remind me of the name] for head covering, skirts, or using as a baby carrying wrap...I'll be using it as a table cloth, but I still wanted to know how it worked should I ever feel the need to use it for real;)

We had dinner, we chatted, we prayed, and then spontaneously someone suggested having communion together. There was something fabulously REAL about that moment, about remembering the Savior who unites us in friendship. I couldn't help but picture Jesus' last supper with his friends and wonder if this casual (yet still very reverent) style of communion, so unlike what is typical, didn't make him smile. (Yes, Mexican style shot glasses hold the wine. Don't judge. I am pretty sure those plastic communion cups weren't what Jesus used either;)

It was late, we were tired and yet very much alive. Authentic friendship and authentic community are refreshing. Being supported and challenged at the same time is amazing. I grow each time I am in the presence of these friends and I can only hope I live a life that does the same for others.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Undeserved Faithfulness

I was reminded again today of the faithfulness of my God. I often don't pray as diligently as I should. When something is urgent or pressing, I am on my knees, but as time passes and I become numb to the problem or pain, I often neglect to keep asking God to intervene in difficult situations.

Without going into too many details, the relationship with my in-laws has often been a difficult one. They didn't approve of Marc's choice in marrying me and chose to not come to our wedding. We did our best at that time to honor them, but the bottom line was differing world views. Marc was looking for a wife who was like minded in re. to his relationship to Christ. He wasn't looking for a societal match- which I was not. It was a very painful time, not what one dreams of per say. We learned much and sought God daily for wisdom and forgiveness. We clung to him for strength and proceeded daily only as He led.

Looking back, God allowed Marc to separate from an unhealthy relationship with his mom and really allowed him to become a man. I am so grateful for the wisdom and strength Marc showed at that time. He chose a different world view; he chose to follow what he felt God was telling him to do even if it meant costing him his family. Yes, we loved one another deeply and were blissfully happy with one another, but we went forward in marriage despite the difficult circumstances because after much prayer and seeking the counsel of trusted Christian leaders, we were confident that marriage was what God intended for our lives.

At that time, his mother said I would never be welcomed into their home and a few other not so kind things. It really looked hopeless, but we know the God of all hope and so we prayed, we fasted, and we prayed some more. God led us each step of the way and gave me an incredible love for a woman who had no love in her heart for me.

That was ten years ago. Today my mother-in-law and her husband left after a two week visit. It was by far the best visit yet. I don't pray near as much as I used to about this situation. It has gradually improved over time and I do believe that when my Mother-in-Law now tells me she loves me that she DOES mean just that. We have a pretty good relationship and it's credit to God alone. I have done some amazing things because of God's leading and really screwed up at times when I let my hurt get the best of me, but God continues to answer the prayers we laid at his feet over ten years ago. He has FAR surpassed anything I could have every dreamed of asking of him. God is good and he DOES answer prayer. He doesn't always answer in my time or in the way I first desire, but he ALWAYS does what is BEST.

I am so very thankful and humbled at his thankfulness and provision. I love my Mother-in-law and I am SO thankful for her. She now comes to SERVE us when she visits- that is AMAZING. It is a blessing and it is testament to God's work in her life. It is exciting to see his hand in her life and in ours. He is so personal, so wise, so good. He DOES still perform miracles and HE DOES provide "IMMEASURABLY more than we can ask or imagine!"

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Book Review- 31 Days of Power (HIGHLY recommend!)

I love Ruth Meyers. Truly, her books have made a significant difference in my spiritual journey. Her first book, 31 Days of Praise was given to me during of time of brokenness and allowed me to turn from looking at my own pain and focus on the magnificence of my Creator. To be able to wholeheartedly praise God DESPITE life circumstances is a lesson I will never forget and has become an important part of my life.

In 31 Days of Power, Meyers does not disappoint. The book is laden with scripture and again focuses the reader on the truth of who God is and what he has done. As the title suggests, there are 31 separate prayers in the book. Each one focus on different aspects of God's character and takes the reader on a journey of realizing that we have GREAT power over the enemy through Jesus Christ. The bible says our "struggles are not against flesh and blood" and indeed that is true. There is a spiritual battle waging around us. What Meyers does however, is not simply highlight the battle but also reminds us that battle is already won! My favorite quote from the book, still gives me chills each time I reread it. " I praise you that You reign over all, with never the slightest alarm about the powers of evil, for Your throne is never threatened."

Ruth Meyers has a great talent for using scripture to inspire, instruct, encourage, and admonish the believer. In this book, she takes the bible and uses it to remind us that there is POWER in Christ and through the Holy Spirit. Satan may try to convince us that he is to be feared, but in God's word we are reminded that, indeed HIS throne is never threatened; we need not be either when we keep our eyes on the Victor and rely on His strength, wisdom, and truth to fill us with power.

I HIGHLY recommend this book along with the rest of the books in Meyers 31 days series.

(This book was given to me free from the publisher in exchange for my honest review.)