Friday, May 11, 2018

A New Chapter - Prayer Wins Out

Well....the praise challenge didn't work out as planned.  What else is new?  I'm ok at starting things but not always great at finishing them.  God isn't done with me yet. 😉

I am happy to share that I will begin a new chapter in my life next week.  I will be leaving my job at of 17 years and will be starting as a Customer Service Rep for Medieval Times. I'm very excited about it and think that it will be great fun.  I believe God is telling me that I have done my job of nurturing my children through the years (they are now 17, 15, and 12).  They don't need me around as much and I need to start doing some things for me.  This is a start!

However, that was not my motivation for this blog post.

My church has been doing a 4 week study about prayer.  It has been great!  This past Sunday, though, I was challenged.  Prayer is something I have always done, typically before bed or when something comes to mind during the day.  However, it has never been something that (don't be too shocked here) that Steven and I have done together.  (I know, pastor's wife and everything....long story behind that.)  But this past Sunday our senior pastor and our campus pastor encouraged us to listen to what God wanted to say to us about prayer in our lives.  And I heard God speak....

As clear as day, I knew that he was telling me that Steven and I needed to start praying together.  I have always known this was important but other issues always kept me from it and Steven, knowing my issues and not wanting to push me, has been very patient.  But this day I knew it was something God was specifically directed me to do.  So I said, "Ok, I'll talk to Steven about it."

I did NOT talk to him Sunday and that night, as I prayed, I asked forgiveness for being disobedient.  I did NOT talk to him Monday and again asked forgiveness.  This went on until finally Thursday (yes, 5 days later) I finally surrendered and obeyed and talked to Steven about it.  He was excited and agreed.  (And was probably secretly relieved that I had finally come to this point.)  So, last night, for the first time in quite some time, we prayed together before going to bed.

Needless to say, I slept great last night!  I feel a small burden lifted off my shoulders.  I also believe that Steven and I will grow closer and connect more with each other and with God during this process.  I can't go into why it has taken me so long to get here.  There are many issues I have dealt with over the years.  But I think I have an idea as to why God has prompted me NOW.  Other than the fact that it is a good discipline, I think God has impeccable timing.

This time next year, my oldest son will graduate from high school and get ready to leave for college.  The other 2 (at least 1) will follow shortly there after and it will once again be me and Steven.  I have spent so long being mom that I almost forgot how to be wife.  I believe that this is God's way of helping us connect, starting sooner rather than later, so that, when the boys are gone, we have already started reconnecting and will be content, even excited, that it will be just the 2 of us again.

I am excited to see how God works through this, not just in our lives but in the lives of our boys and those around us.  Thank you, God, for not giving up on me!

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Praise Challenge - Day 2 - Where do I throw away my confidence?

Today was a better day.  I have enjoyed my kids today and there weren't any major issues.  Finals are coming up next week and they aren't studying as I would like them to.  But  I am trying to allow them to be who they are.  I encourage studying (doing my part as a mom to bring it up) and let them decided how best to do that for them.

(BTW, I am listening to Laure Story as I type this.  She has the best praise music of anyone I have found yet.  All of her songs really seem to speak to me personally.  Also, I think she's a great mom and a model of what I would like to be more like.)

How do I throw away my confidence?  Negative self talk?  Sometimes.  But I think my biggest issue is comparing myself to other parents or my kids to other kids.
1.  They seem to have it all together and their kids are great and social and have future plans.  What's wrong with us?
2.  Those kids make friends so easily and are always out.  Why are my kids at home so much and not out with friends?
3.  How does that parent stay so calm is difficult situations while I tend to lose it?
4.  How do they always know the right thing to say but I never seem to know what to say to help my child?

There is a comparison of myself to other parents, or at least what I see of other parents. However, I need to also make myself realize that I am seeing them possibly at their best.  I am not in their home day to day.  I'm sure they struggle with things as well.  I can't compare myself to what I see on Facebook because that is where people put their best face on anyway, right?  Just as I don't show all my struggles out in public, I'm sure they don't either.  Lord, help me remember that we are all in the same boat.  Though we may struggle with different aspects of parenting, we all struggle.  No one is the perfect parent....except You.

I also second guess my decisions.  Did I make the right decision to quit working and stay home with the kids?  Was it right to only work part time once they were older?  Should I contribute more financially to help the family out so that is one less struggle?  Has my being at home a lot caused them to not learn how to be at home alone or do things for themselves?  God, help me remember that you gave me each of these children.  You chose me to be their mom for a specific reason.  And you helped me make certain decisions along the way that put me right here.  Right where you want me to be.  I trust you so help me be confident in knowing that I am enough and that I am right where I am supposed to be.  May I use the time I have at home with them to teach them how to care for themselves and show them your guidance and provision through my own example.

Thank you Jesus!

Monday, December 11, 2017

Praise Challenge - Day 1

I have often wondered how to develop a regular "quiet time".  I'm not much of a reader so I struggle to really get into the Word just for the sake of getting into it.  I've longed for something that would get me into the Word but with purpose.

Some recent events have caused me to feel as though I am at the end of my parenting rope.  I have begun questioning my ability, asking what have I done wrong?  Are there things I should have done differently?  I've come to a place where I just don't know how to help my kids.

Strangely enough, I had to get a new phone recently (that's another story) and it just so happens that this phone has twice the storage of my previous phone.  So, as I was setting it up, I started downloading apps that I had previously deleted due to space.  One of them happened to be the Kindle app, where I have discovered some free downloads that I always "intended" to read.  As I opened this app and signed in, I began looking through the reading options.  As though God designed it this way, I discovered "The 30 Day Praise Challenge for Parents" by Becky Harling was on my app.  Remember, I'm not much of a reader, but thought it might be the thing to do.  So I started reading it and quickly lost interest.  Satan?  Not sure.  Fast forward to today, having sat in my bedroom and cried until my mascara was running down my face, crying out to God asking what I should do to help my son. And tonight I sat down to watch football and felt prompted by God, again, to pull it out, so I did.  I could use all the help I can get right now. This is the result of reading day 1.

Each days ends with a journal question.  If it's ok with you, I'm just going to answer that question here.  I think it will help me and perhaps someone else.  So here it goes:

Joshua is 17, tall and blond, sports oriented, intelligent, responsible, loyal, loves to play with the dog's tail.  He's deeper than most 17 year old boys and longs for a deep friendship that goes beyond the surface stuff that a lot of teens nowadays have.  He is a hard worker, loves his mama, helps without being asked, enjoys my cooking, laid back, loves music, and is very truthful.  God, thank you for making Joshua exactly the way he is.  Thank you that he talks nonstop about sports.  I love that you have given him such a passion for something.  Something I never discovered for myself.  Thank you for how he thinks of others and wants to help his family and his friends.  I also thank you that he is laid back, though it drives me crazy sometimes, I know you made him that way for a reason.  Thank you for giving him a sense of responsibility and loyalty. His heart for other people is easily seen.  And thank you that he knows, loves, and serves you.  Thank you for speaking to his heart.  Though he is conflicted at times, as we all are, I thank you that he chooses You.

Zach is 14, tall and blond and very thin.  He is very intelligent, so much so that I think it turns others away and I don't even understand him sometimes.  He is a very out of the box thinker.  He's a nerd and I love it.  He likes Pokémon and Transformers.  He enjoys video games and has a YouTube channel.  He has a big heart and has never met a stranger.  He tries so hard but can be forgetful and a bit scattered.  He can easily focus on what interests him but has a hard time with things that don't.  He says what is on his mind, not ever meaning to hurt anyone.  He is very black and white.  He moves at his own pace and not a step faster.  He prefers being along and is a big sleeper.  Father, thank you for Zach.  Thank you for giving him a brain and making him not afraid to use it.  Thank you that he is passionate about things that others may find silly, but he sticks to his guns anyway and stays true to who you made him to be.  Thank you for his capacity to love and help others.  Thank you that he is confident enough in himself and who you made him to be that he is able to speak his mind.  And thank you for giving him and internal metronome that is unique to him and that he doesn't rush through life.  Thank you for how he questions things and doesn't accept things just because.  Thank you for making him a thinker.

Elijah is 11, shorter and also blond.  He is HFA, high functioning autistic (Asperger's) which gives him some super powers and some challenges.  He can memorize just about anything and can usually quote a movie after seeing it only once.  He has a difficult time understanding some everyday things, but knows more about ANW and WWE than most anyone else in the world.  He is a walking encyclopedia.  He thrives on routine and sameness.  He has a great smile and is very helpful and compassionate.  He will always do exactly what you ask him.  He is great at keeping me and his teachers on track.  God, thank you for Elijah.  Thank you for his sweet smile and loving heart.  Thank you for his super powers that come through autism.  Thank you that he likes to watch the same movies and videos over and over again.  Thank you that he knows he can use that to calm himself when the world around him gets a bit overwhelming.  Thank you that he helps keep the rest of us on schedule.  Thank you for giving him passions and enjoyment from ANW and WWE.  Thank you that he has found something he can connect with. Thank you for his helpful spirit and his tender heart.

In Jesus's name,

Monday, May 15, 2017

Almost 44....

I just realized that it has been almost 2 years since I wrote something.  Ugh!  I'll try to do better!!!!

One hour, 34 minutes until I turn 44.  My youngest son, Elijah (now 11), has already told me "Happy Birthday".  Obviously birthdays become less of a big deal as you get older.  However, this one has me thinking and wondering.  I'm not very introspective but some recent events have caused me to somewhat reevaluate my life.

Is this where I thought I would be at 44?  I'm not sure I could have answered where I would be years ago.  I don't really think that way.  But now that I'm here, I can't help but feel that younger me would have expected more of 44 year old me.  Don't get me wrong.  I love my life....for the most part.  I have a wonderful, loving husband and 3 fantastic boys who are very close to becoming men.  I have good friends and love my church.  So what am I missing?

There are times, a lot of them lately, where I just don't feel that I have accomplished all that I could have by this age.  Not to brag or anything, but I have a degree from Georgia Tech and haven't really used it much since I got it.  (I often wonder if my parents would be disappointed in me.)  I have worked in very entry level jobs since having kids.  Should I have been more ambitious?  On the other hand, I have no clue what I would be ambitious about.  I don't really have a "passion" as some do.  There's never been something that I have just wanted to do all my life.

Part of this comes as my youngest child enters middle school and I realize that, though I left the full time workforce 17 years ago to be there for my kids....they really don't need me to "be there" anymore.  Now I'm having thoughts of pursuing things for me and helping my family financially.  But what would I do?  What skills do I have?  And is the longing just me measuring myself against the rest of the world or am I really right where God wants me to be, here with my kids?

None of these questions can be answered tonight.  I will put them aside and happily celebrate my 44th birthday tomorrow.  But these questions will still linger May 17 when the party is over and life goes on again with me as a 44 year old woman.   So, if you think about it, pray for me.  Pray that I would fill the void with Jesus and the He would be the One to answer the questions for me.

Happy birthday to me!

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Blessings of a new school year and a thank you to teachers.

I spent yesterday and today taking my 3 boys to their respective schools to meet their teachers, get their schedules, and make sure they can find their way around the schools. (I even went to a school that we aren't registered for, but more about that later.) All in all, things went well. None of them are thrilled about going back to school. Who can blame them? All that work and having to get up early (extra early for my new high schooler), rules and projects, etc. But I know that they are looking forward to seeing friends. And I think they like the challenge of learning, even though they won't really admit it. :) I was pleased today to see, not necessarily their passion for school, but to witness the impact that a single teacher can have on a student, and vice versa. We started the day at the high school, a new place for us. My oldest son will be a high school freshman this year. (Not quite sure how we got here, but at least we made it!) He got his schedule and we found his classes. It wasn't difficult or eventful. Then, we headed over to the middle school. My middle son will be in 7th grade there this year and, obviously, my oldest son just left there. We got his schedule and proceeded to his classes and met his teachers. Again, it was fairly uneventful. The main purpose of today's blog is what happened next. Both (yes, BOTH) of the boys INSISTED that we go see Mrs. Irvine before we leave. Each of them had her for social studies at some point during middle school. And they would each tell you that she is, by far, their favorite middle school teacher. (I, as a mom like hearing that because it means that my kids have engaged another adult and even realize that the teachers are not there to torture them.) So we headed around the school to find her room. We found it in the same place that it was last year, surprisingly, and walked in the door. Mrs. Irvine stopped what she was doing (talking to a family that would be in her class this year), walked right toward us and hugged, really hugged, each of my boys. In talking to them she used the words "favorite" and "enjoyed". It was so refreshing to see that, not only did she have an impact on them, but THEY had an impact on HER. I've tried hard to raise them right and teach them to be good gentlemen and responsible citizens. It's so nice to see that all the hard work and struggle has paid off. THANK YOU, MRS. IRVINE! But it doesn't stop there..... My middle child also asked if we could go by the elementary school. Normally, that wouldn't be a problem. We usually do that anyway for my youngest child and the other boys get to see teachers from their past. However, this year, my youngest had changed schools and is no longer enrolled at the elementary school that they all remember. However, at my son's prodding, we went to a school where I had no vested interest for the year and no child enrolled. Yes, it took up more time. The parking lot was crowded. The building was crowded. It wasn't easy. But again, a teacher had made an impact on my child enough for him to want to return to see her. We walked into the elementary school. All the staff were very helpful. They wanted to give us maps and tell us what we needed to knew. I politely told them that I don't have a child enrolled, we were just there to see people. The first teacher we come across was my oldest son's 4th grade teacher, Ms. Austin. She's great! She engaged him in conversation and even asked if he would be interested in coming after he gets out of school to help her set up science experiments. (The high school is right next door to the elementary school.) Nice! Mrs. Bross, though, was our main target. She was my middle son's 5th grade teacher. He will easily tell you the she is his favorite elementary school teacher. A bit of background may be necessary for that one. 5th grade is the year that he, after many years of tests, was diagnosed with ADD. I informed Mrs. Bross and she immediately knew what to do. She has had experience with that before and knew how to handle it. Did she ever! She single handedly helped Zach gain confidence in his abilities and self esteem. She believed in him and, in turn, helped him believe in himself. She spent the time we were there telling him that she knew middle school was going to be great for him. (He is in all gifted classes.) I thanked her for her large part in who he is now, she rolled her eyes and said a sarcastic please, we both smiled and then we left. THANK YOU TEACHERS FOR WHAT YOU DO! IT DOES MAKE AN IMPACT AND WE PARENTS SEE IT AND APPRECIATE IT. I KNOW YOUR JOB ISN'T EASY, AND IT IS GETTING HARDER BY THE YEAR, BUT WE THANK YOU!!!!!

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Giving it all to God

Last week, I posted a question on Facebook asking people how and when they do their quiet time with God. See, even though I was a pastor's wife for 10 years, I've never been very good at setting aside that time to get closer to Jesus. I've always felt the need. I've always believed that, if I could just get that part of my life right, then everything else would fall into place. It has been true several times over the years. I'm just never able to stick to it. So, last Friday I starting being intentional about getting up early and spending those first few moments of the day with my Savior. Starting my day off in the right frame of mind and getting my priorities straight from the moment I get up. And, of course, as God has promised and shown my many times, it proved beneficial. I've been more joyful over the last few days. (Hopefully my family has noticed. I at least feel it.) The mysteries of life suddenly don't seem so mysterious anymore. God is using that time and the fact that I am now more open to Him and to hear what He has to say to me. And I'm listening.... Friday, the very same day that I started being intentional about my quiet time, I got a call (while walking around Target) from a company that I had sent a resume to a little more than a month earlier. I had completely forgotten about this company and the fact that I had applied for a job. They wanted me to come interview. That afternoon! I was knee deep in toys, popcorn and coke at Target so I told them I couldn't that day. But I was available the following day, Saturday. So we set it up. I went to the interview not expecting much. I spoke with the manager, who was very pleasant, but didn't get a real sense that I would get the job. "I have more interviews and we'll call if we are interested" has never worked well. So I went on about my day. Steven and I took a grocery store date (you take the time that you can with 3 kids!) and spent some of that time talking about the job. As we are walking through the meat department of Kroger, my phone rings. (Keep in mind, no one EVER calls me! I get texts but very few calls.) It was the manager from my job interview. She "really liked" me and wanted to offer me the job. Note, this was only 2 hours after I left my interview. I told her I would think about it and hung up. Steven and I spent the rest of the grocery trip talking about whether or not I should take the job. (I was so into the discussion, that I spent WAY too much on groceries!) We both agreed that the extra hours would be good for our budget and my sense of purpose. So we agreed I would take the job. I find it to be NO coincidence WHATSOEVER that this happened AS SOON AS I started being intentional about my time with God. Like I said before, I knew this was possible. I knew that He could change my life if I would just give Him the time, but I never did. Instead, I would get up and watch Sportscenter first thing in the morning. SC won out over my Savior. (Yes, I'm ashamed to say that out loud. But confession is the beginning of forgiveness, right?) Anyway, I'm back on track now. 6 days in a row! And now I have a new job to look forward to. Nothing glamorous, but I think it will be fun and I'm looking forward to it. Also, in the last 6 days, I've been communicating with the Gwinnett Braves and I will be working at the stadium again on Fridays and Saturdays until the end of the season. This is exactly what I needed. Why did it take me so long to truly give everything over to God? I have no idea. But....better late than never.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Am I ready for high school?

Last night, I took Joshua (JJ), my 14 year old 8th grader, to rising 9th grader night at the local high school.  I was very excited, and a bit nervous, for him to be starting this phase of his life.  But high school can be so rewarding and such a special time with special people.  You learn a lot. You grow a lot.  You become a lot of who God made you to be.

I'm sorry to say that I sit here now understanding no more about high school that I did yesterday.  When I was in high school (many moons ago), it was fairly simple.  You need certain classes to graduate, take some electives, a language, and when you are a senior, if you have achieved, you can take the AP core classes. (There were 4 AP classes.)  Now there are 26 AP classes, pre AP classes, CP classes, pathways, academies.....HUH?????  I want him to learn, prepare for college, and have fun all at the same time.  I don't believe that college level decisions should be put on a 14 year old.  I also don't like the emphasis put on class rank.  I want him doing well for himself, not because he is jockeying for position with his friends or people he doesn't even know.

He's smart.  I want him to succeed, go to college, find what God has for him and live the full, abundant life that Jesus has offered.  It just seems like so much emphasis has been put on outdoing everyone else.  It seems to be a competition.  Which, if you think about it, is quite funny because competition was never allowed when they were younger.  Trophies for everyone!  No keeping score!  Thankfully I believe that Steven and I have raised him, all 3 of our boys, with the right amount of competition and compassion; success and silliness.  Our lifestyle and teachings remain consistent regardless of how the world that surrounds them changes.

In a nutshell, I gave all the written info to JJ and told him to read it, learn and understand it and do what he believes is best.  His teachers from 8th grade will recommend him for certain classes, but I have override authority.  I want him to work hard, but not have to work so hard that he can't enjoy his teenage years.  He brings home a registration sheet next Tuesday.  (Yes! Already for next year!)  We'll just prayerfully go from there.

On a more personal note, my emotional eating has gotten the best of me.  2-3 years ago I lost almost 30 pounds.  It has slowly, but surely, found me again.  From Zach's ADD and first year of middle school to the possibility of Elijah having autism or something similar.....I have gotten out of control.  Starting now (meaning tomorrow morning) I will endeavor to get a hold on my emotional eating.  I pray that God will help me find another way to find comfort, enjoyment, pleasure, or whatever it is I may be looking for at the time.  I'm very disappointed in myself.  I worked so hard to lose the weight only to have it come right back.  Needless to say that my self esteem is not so great right now and that is affecting many other parts of my life.

So, here it goes.  Don't be afraid to ask me how I'm doing.