Wednesday, November 2, 2011

I once was lost, but now I'm found

As I sit today at my temporary office inside a local church, I can hear infants crying (church has daycare center). 

It makes me miss my babies. 

I text Mary (beyond awesome caregiver to my kids) and ask how kids are - because I miss them and in this moment of hearing babies cry and sitting alone in a big (freezing cold) room, I question so many things.

And then I get these:



I cry, send mushy texts back for Mary to read to the kids and I ask God,

"Are you sure I am doing what I am supposed to be doing?" 

"Why have you created me the way that I am with the desires I have?"

 
As I struggled to gain my footing emotionally, I had the thought, I once was lost, but now I am found.

"But God, how can I be found when one minute I feel confident and sure in Your plan and my steps and the next I am fearful, unsure and feel like I have completely missed the boat.  Aren't I the textbook definition of one who is lost?"
lost:
-having gone astray or missed the way; bewildered as to place, direction, etc.
-not used to good purpose, as opportunities, time, or labor; wasted
-being something that someone has failed to win

I look at those definitions (courtesy of dictionary.com) and I think, "yep, that's me."  But God says differently.  He says,

“Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Doesn’t he leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it?  And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders  and goes home. Then he calls his friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep.’  Luke 15:4-6
find/found: 
-to locate, attain, or obtain by search or effort
-to locate or recover (something lost or misplaced)
-to discover or perceive after consideration
-to gain or regain the use of
-equipped, outfitted, or furnished

I am not a theologian (not a surprise to many of you), but this is how I felt God spoke to me through this.  When I was lost, (astray; missing the way; bewildered as to place, direction; not used to good purpose), God came after me and searched until He FOUND (located, attained, obtained by search, effort; recovered; discovered or perceived at consideration; gained or regained use of; equipped, outfitted, furnished) ME.

I may still feel bewildered, astray and not used to good purpose, but God sees me as a discovered, equipped, furnished child that He rejoices over and shows off to His friends.

Wow.  I get choked up typing that. 

God is so good and loving and I am overwhelmed with Him and his love and presence, even here in this big empty (still freezing) temporary office.





Sunday, October 30, 2011

Change anyone?

Hello? 

Anyone out there? 

Since it has been months since I last blogged, I am unsure how many people will still be reading. 

But if you are still reading (thank you!), there have been some awesome changes happening in our lives and I am so excited to share.  One of the small changes will be this blog - I got connected with an awesome set of sisters who run a blog design business and they are working on redesigning this blog for me.  For those of you who know me personally, you know design and anything technical are not my strong points.

Another change to this blog is that it will now serve as a window into our leap into missions. 

(Pause for dramatic effect)

Yes, missions.

The following is a portion of a letter we sent to some of our friends and family (and if you didn't get one, it wasn't because we don't consider you a friend or family. . . it is because my memory is shot lately).  I figured to save the time, energy and repetitiveness I would just copy the heart of the message for you - my blogging friends.

You probably already know about an organization called Impact World Tour (IWT). IWT provides an effective and relevant means for the local church to express Christ’s message using international performing arts and sporting groups in campaign style evangelism.  It's a ministry of Youth With A Mission (YWAM) a long standing, well respected ministry.

Did you know that only 4% of our young people attend church on a regular basis? Our hearts were stirred when we heard that, and began to look at our local schools and our community to see so many of our youth without hope.

So where does IWT fit in?

Mark & I strongly believe in the mission of IWT as they meet the challenge of sharing the Gospel in a relevant way. I began volunteering with them in February and God has opened doors for us within IWT. I have recently left my full-time employment to begin serving with IWT as a missionary (there are no paid staff) for the outreach this fall in the Red River Valley. With that tour completed, I am now working with tour events in surrounding communities such as Grand Forks, Jamestown, Watertown, Minot, Bismarck, St. Cloud, Duluth and more through 2012 and beyond.

In early October, the IWT performance teams performed at over 40 school assemblies; and in nursing homes, churches and public venues like Scheels Arena! Thousands of lives were changed as a result. 

We heard countless stories of people responding the the Gospel for the first time.  One woman had been praying for her husband for 30 years and at one of the events, he came forward and surrendered his life to God.  Another man shared how his 6 year old son responded to Christ and on the drive home told his dad, "I can't believe I get to live for Jesus, Dad!  I graduated to Jesus!"

My major responsibility was to train and equip believers to talk and pray with students at the public events. I also coordinated small groups/neighborhood centers. These will be held in homes, at coffee shops, the library etc. and will provide students with love, acceptance and teach them more about God and His plan for their lives.

This is a giant step of faith for Mark & me and our family, but one we know that God has led us to take. We covet your prayers in this season and are so thankful for our great network of family and friends who support us.

So, there you have it.  We are super excited and yet a little scared.  It is easy to say that we trust God in everything; finances, health, relationships, etc.  But we are discovering it's easier to say you trust God when you really don't, than actually trusting God because you have to! 

My goal for this blog will be to keep all of you up to date on our life in missions and what is happening with IWT. And yes, I will still post silly stories and cute pictures of our kids.  After all, I still seek delight and peace in all things and am thrilled at the journey we are embarking on. 

Monday, June 27, 2011

In a perfect world. . .

. . .I would wake up each morning when my alarm went off (not 20 minutes later), pop out of bed, feeling rested and ready to conquer the day.

. . .my kids would not whine.  Ever.

. . .someone would come in and wash my hair and fix it for me every morning, while I sipped coffee and read.

. . .I would find fullfillment in everything I'm doing and where I am at, instead of feeling like I am just going through the motions in some areas.

. . .dishes would clean themselves.

. . .and so would clothes, floors, bathrooms (especially toilets), dogs, etc.

. . .I would never obsessively worry about things I have no control over.

. . .I would not work a 8 to 5 job.

. . .my kids would never get sick, hurt, or scared.

. . .I would not care what people think of me, instead of just pretending not to care what people think and then inside being terrified that they won't like me.

This list could go on and on. And probably about more important things like salvation, world hunger, crime, etc., but for now and in my little world, this is where I am. 

I feel like we (Mark & I and family) are in a time of transition. 

What's changing you ask? 

Nothing. 

Nothing at all except for a sense of movement in our hearts and minds. 

Towards what you ask? 

No idea. 

Not a clue. 

See how informative I am today?

All I do know is that I am remaining open to change and  trying to remain open even if that change is not what I had in mind (even though I don't have anything in mind). 

Whew! 

Annoyed with what I am trying to say but failing at miserably??? 

Welcome to my brain.

Friday, May 20, 2011

It's raining, it's pouring. . .

Seriously, why does it have to rain this weekend?  Although I am so ready for the weekend, it doesn't kill my mood too much. 

WARNING:  Random Post

*I am working at my 2nd seasonal job at a greenhouse tomorrow and Sunday, but if the weather is crummy, I may not be working as long.  Either way, it is a fun job and although I miss the kids a ton, I still get time with them both days-just not as much as normal weekends.

*Some friends are coming to stay with us tonight.  Jason is running on a relay team for the Fargo Marathon - better him than me!  They have 2 little boys, so the kids should have a blast playing together.

*Last night we learned why having a birthday party in the evening right up until bedtime is a bad idea. . . . let's just say that after a few "I can't believe I just did that" moments in parenting, taking away a toy for today and countless times out of bed, Isaac fell asleep around 8:50pm. . . . ugh. 

We are struggling with how to deal with a few certain behaviors - whining being the main one.  Isaac is such a good kid and I have said before, I think that almost makes his bad behavior worse because we are just not used to it!  His whining in the last few weeks has reached an all time high and what has worked in the past is no longer working.  So, back to the drawing board.  He responds really well to incentives and positive praise.  Sticker charts have worked in the past for things like staying in bed and going to bed like a 'big boy', so maybe we can figure out how to use one for whining or the lack of whining.

*Went to get my stitches out today and found out my arm is infected, so 10 days of antibiotics here I come. . . . .just hoping my arm is healed by the time I have to have the excision on my back. . .if not, I do not know how I will sleep since my first one was on my left arm and the one on my back is on my back/right side.  Oh well, I am so very thankful to be catching this stuff now.

Well, that is the end of my random post - have a great weekend!

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Surreal

At this point 3 years ago, I was in a surreal place.  I had just hit the call button and when the nurse's voice came through I said, "Um, I have a question about my son-could someone come down here?"

My son. 

Wow-saying those words for the first time the morning he was born felt so strange.  I thought the nurse would come in and say, "You don't have a son, that was just a dream!"

Of course that day and for many after I had lots and lots and lots of questions.  Should he be making those noises when he sleeps?  Should he really be spitting up this much?  Did he really have to pee on my toast and poop on my pants simultaneously our first night at home? 

But that feeling of having a son - of being a parent - still at times feels so surreal.

Especially today, on his 3rd birthday.  How am I the mom to a 3 year old little boy who is the most intelligent, kind, inquisitive, impatient boy I know? 

He amazes me everyday with the things he asks and the knowledge he absorbs.  He is independent and yet needs to know that we are there always encouraging, watching, praising him.  He is a great big brother and is so gentle with Piper - except of course when she has something he wants.

He loves to read bible stories - especially the one about "dem bones" (Ezekiel) - and he has his nightly prayer memorized.

"Dear Jesus, Thank you for Mommy, Daddy, Piper, Marley, Grandpa Paul, Grandma Liz, Grandpa Leo, Michelle, Mike, Lorrie, Samantha, Clay, Zachary, Matthew, Olivia, Gail, Ryan, Riley, Jacob, Joy, Mary, Steve, Samuel, Frederik, Samuel's Grandma & Grandpa, Ian, Khloe, Kahlea, Grace, Holly, Isabelle, Max, Isla, Levi, Amanda, Alyssa, Melissa, Cory, Harry, Maggie, Shane & Jill and everyone who loves me.  In Jesus name, Amen!"

Isaac Mark I love you more than words could ever express.  You are the delight of my heart and I pray daily that God draws you to Him and that He teaches your Daddy and me how to guide you through this life.  You are a blessing to everyone you meet.  Have a wonderful 3rd birthday, Bubba!

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Where in the world is Carmen San Diego?

Did you guys ever watch that show?  I used to watch it after school. . .  and then there was another show too that I watched that had a lady cop in it. . .maybe. . .totally blanking out on the name-help anyone?  Anywho, that is a totally random thought, but it fits perfectly with my life lately.

Just a run down of where I have been, what I have been doing.  These are listed in no particular order.

1)  The Puke Fest of 2011
This event started with my lovely daughter puking up spaghetti all over her crib one Friday night. . . . and then she continued to puke. . . .one key thing to note is that earlier in the evening she had smashed her head on a hard plastic corner of a bin in the living room (yes, we had an empty, totally pointless, bin out in the living room.  Why?  Why not???).  And of course as all slightly neurotic mothers know, if a child pukes more than 2 times after hitting their head, you need to have them looked at-so a phone call was made to my parents who came over to stay with Isaac (who thankfully slept through all of this) and Mark & I were off to the ER with Piper.  Oh did I mention she puked in the van on the way to the hospital?  And then again while we were sitting in the waiting room?  And again once we got back in the room to see the sweet ER doc??  Yes, it was quite a night. 
By the time we got to the ER she had a fever, so the doctor figured it was something viral and just a coincidence that she had hit her head, but he wanted to be sure, so off to get a CT scan we went.  I will not tell you what an awful experience that was. . . .everything from me having to pin down my child to the incredibly rude, obnoxious, jerk of a CT tech guy who was 'helping' us (and yes, he did glare at me when I was unable to hold my screaming, terrified, 18 month old child perfectly still while a loud, large, scary looking machine circled around her head-my apologies you giant jerk).  If you haven't noticed, I may have some unresolved anger at that man.  But, thankfully we got it done (with Mark & I holding Piper down-yeah, I didn't sleep that night because I kept seeing her horrified face) and the tests showed she was fine.  So, we took her home and she slept on and off all night.
Cue Saturday morning. . . . Isaac spikes a temp and Piper keeps puking, so off I went to Walgreen's to fill her prescription of Zofran and we tucked in for a day of sick kids.  Little did we know that this was just the beginning. 
To make this incredibly long story and even longer week short, I will summarize by saying that I got sick Sunday and by the end of the week we (and by we I mostly mean Mark) had cleaned up more puke and diarrhea than any person should ever have to deal with.  It.Was.AWFUL.  The only one not to get sick was Mark, but we both missed a week of work.  Some people take vacations-our family gets sick.

2)  Dave Ramsey gazelle intense debt pay off.
This event has started with me getting a seasonal 2nd job.  I work at a greenhouse for about 8 weeks this summer - it is so fun!!  I love being outside and working with so many different people.  It also makes for a very, very crazy schedule and not a lot of family time.  But it is only for a season and we know that being debt free is so very important to our future.

3)  Volunteering
I have taken a pretty big volunteer role for an event that is coming to our area this fall.  This is in an area  that I used to dream about doing and so having the opportunity to do it, well, it's like God is giving me some of my dreams back.  I am sure I will be talking more about this event as it gets closer, but it is the opportunity to share the Gospel with people in a real, relevant, culturally current way.  It is bringing churches from all denominations together for one goal and purpose, setting aside theological differences for the ultimate goal of reaching people, specifically young people, with the Gospel and the love of Christ.

4)  C-word
I went to my dermatologist a month or so ago to have him check out 3 moles.  I am a moley (not sure if that is a word) person and have had moles removed before-they all check out fine, no big deal.  But, my chiropractor and an urgent care doc had both said I should get this one particular mole checked out.  So, in I went, off they came and they said they would send me a letter or call with the results.  Okay I thought and put it our of my mind.  Fast forward a few days and I get a call from dermatology.  She says we have the results and proceeds to tell me the first 2 moles are fine, but the 3rd (actually 3rd & 4th since what I thought was 1 mole was actually 2) were moderately atypical and the doctor would like you to come back in so he can do an excision.  Ummm, okay.  She said, "It's not cancer, but it could become cancer. . . or it could stay how it is forever, but we just like to be cautious."  Ummmmm, okay.  And so off I went a week later to have an excision (which I had no idea what they were going to do).  When I got to my appt., my doctor explained that if white is not cancer and black is cancer, my cells in this mole were gray.  And sometimes cells are mildly gray and sometimes cells are moderately gray.  Guess which I had? Yep. . . so he cut a big chunk out of my arm along with some healthy cells so that they could test and make sure they got everything.  He also took a sample of another mole on my back to biopsy.  This was last Friday.  I got a call yesterday (I am starting to dread phone calls from a certain phone number) and the great news is they got all the "pre-cancer" cells from my arm. . . .the not so great news is that the one on my back is moderately atypical and so I need to have another excision. . . . and I found another mole that has been changing so they will biopsy that one as well when I go in.  The doctor said the more you atypical moles you have, the closer they watch you, but it doesn't mean I am guaranteed to get cancer. 
The crazy thing about all this is that I really am at peace. . . .and most people wouldn't describe me as a calm, peaceful person in times of stress.  But I am truly resting in the Lord and understanding that He knows what is going on.  I also know that He is my Healer.

5)-8)  Garage Sale, Travel, Family Visiting, Birthday
We had a garage sale that we decided to do at the last minute-not fun to be pricing things at midnight (which is why all the baby clothes were $.50!!).  But we had a great turn out - debt be gone!!
Mark & I are going out of town tomorrow morning and the kids are staying with Grandma & Grandpa-I haven't packed a single thing and we are leaving the house at 6:15 tomorrow morning. 
Mark's sister is coming into town tonight - our house is well, less than company ready, so it's a good thing she's family!! 
And Isaac's 3rd b-day is next week. . . and I just started planning it this week. 

So. . . .that is where I have been.  Whew!

Friday, April 29, 2011

What do you want?

I am here - just trying to catch my breath from all the stuff that has been happening.  I would love to post what all we have been up to, but I don't have time right now! ha!

What I would love though is to hear from you (if anyone is left. . .hello?). 

I want to hear what you want me to write about.  Do you have any questions for me?  Suggestions, ideas, comments, etc. . . . all are welcome! 

So, let me hear from you! 

And I promise to be back to my regular blogging schedule, sooner than later, I hope!

Friday, April 15, 2011

Everybody Pukes. . .

. . .I am alive and kicking. . . although I will say if I never, ever in a million years have to smell vomit again. . . . I will die a happy woman.

More to come on our last 7 days (yes, 7) in the Jacobson household.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Seeking the Dreamer

I know it has been a while since my last post.  I also know I have yet to share my outrageous hair pics and since I just got a pretty drastic haircut the other day, I will try to post of picture of that too.

BUT. . . . can I just tell on God for a little bit?  I try my hardest for this blog to be real and open and about who I really am and who I am trying to become.  I am a wife, mother, employee, woman who loves to read, hates to clean, is a wee bit sarcastic every now and again and often occasionally sticks her foot in her mouth.  I am also a Christian, which should define me more than any other role.

I love to dream.  Ask my parents.  As a child/teenager, I had HUGE dreams and plans. . . but would be unable to get my homework for the next day done.  Too much head in the clouds and too little feet on the ground.

I would love to say I have learned better and in a lot of ways I have.  But I think what has changed more is my dreams.  I tend to dream realistically now.  I dream of the day the kids go to school, the day we can go on a big all out family vacation, I dream of my kids getting married, having babies.  I dream of Mark & I traveling when we are empty-nesters. 

In the past few months I have felt a drawing to something more.  More of what, I don't know.  But recent events have caused me to look back to a time in my life where I dreamed really big dreams and I wonder if God has plans for me in that. 

I was recently talking to a youth pastor from Ohio who said to me, "Seek the Dreamer and He will restore your dreams." 

God is the ultimate Dreamer.  He dreams about us before we were born, He dreams about our future.  I have to believe that God gifts us with our gifts and callings for a purpose and the dreams He gives line up with those gifts.

I too often have sought after the dream, instead of the Dreamer.  I want my dreams, the realistic, the huge, the small, and the crazy all to line up with the Dreamer. 

I have started to more intentionally seek the Dreamer and in the last few weeks, I feel like God is restoring my dreams.  God has moved me in some small ways and some big ways to get me where He wants me.  My prayer is to continue to seek the Dreamer as I work towards my dreams.  My prayer is that I would be a reflection of Him in everything I do. 

Who do you seek?  What do you dream?

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Opens a door, opens a window

I love how God works - actually I can acknowledge loving how God works more in hindsight.  Often times in the midst of His working I feel like. . . .well, like I don't love it so much!  But regardless, He is at work in all of our lives. 

My word for this year as many of you know is delight.  Delighted in God, delightful towards others, finding delight in the everyday ordinary of life, etc.

In this process I am trying to be more aware of God and how He longs to be a part of my life, minute by minute, day by day.  I have heard my whole Christian life about how important relationship is with God and I feel as though I am just lately grasping that.  Yes, I am a slow learner at times.

I long to be with Mark, to talk to him, to sit with him, to be silly with him, etc.  Why?  Because I love him and I want our relationship to be strong.  I also argue with Mark, ask for forgiveness from Mark, and get frustrated with Mark.  Why?  Because I am human, imperfect and I make mistakes, but try to make up for those mistakes too.

Why not take those same simple principles of my relationship with Mark and apply them to my relationship with God?  I realize to many of you this is not profound.  Again, I am not a quick learner at times.

And yet I realize for myself that this simple thing is hard at times.  It is hard to change your mindset from God being everywhere and everything to everyone to being God who is with me, for me, about me always.

In this process of involving God in my everyday ordinary, I have begun to recognize His handiwork in so many ways.  As I have mentioned here, Mark and I are working to get debt free and stick to a budget that allows us to do that. 

I had a lunch meeting yesterday that I needed to be at, but did not have the money in the budget for - ugh.  So, I went through some stuff in our storage closet and found a few things to sell at a resale store in town.  Thank God - and I truly was thankful for God providing in this way. 

Well, I went to my meeting, enjoyed lunch and someone else at the table picked up the tab!  Yay!  I was even more thankful for God providing in this way!!  So, I took the money from the items I had sold and deposited it in the bank. . . guess God wanted that money to go towards debt!

Also while going through the boxes in storage, I came across a gift card to McDonald's for $10.  Mark & I have stopped eating out at lunch and so I thought, "Yay, a lunch date where we can eat something other than PB & J!"  So, Mark & I made plans to go out to McD's for lunch today. 

This morning I remembered that at an event for Big Brother, Big Sister we had each received a coupon for a free large sandwich at McDonald's - so I looked through my purse and there they were!  So, we got 2 free sandwiches, fries and 2 drinks for $4. . . and can go to McD's another day with the other $6 on the gift card.

Now, would these things not have happened if I hadn't been aware and involving God in my everyday ordinary?  Probably.  Maybe not though.  But would I have recognized them as God's handiwork and given Him praise for them?  No.

God opens doors and windows for us all the time.  We are His children and He loves us.  I also think He wants us to acknowledge Him in those little things too.  In the same way I love to hear my 2 year old thank me for dinner; even though I would give him dinner even if he didn't, God love to hear his kids thank Him for things He does; even though He would do it anyway.  *Whew, grammatically that may be the worst sentence ever, but you get my point, right?

How have you seen God in the little (and big) areas of your life?

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Winner!!!

We have a winner!!  I went to random.org and entered the number of entrants - and Amber is the big winner!!!  Congrats!  I will email you a time to drop off your prize - thanks everyone for playing! 

In other news, I am super excited that our kids slept through the night last night.  I am also more sure than ever that they conspire against us on the nights they get up (like last night).  Seriously, it seems to be so well planned so that Mark & I get no sleep, it's borderline ridiculous. 

But, I am focusing on being thankful that they slept!  Whoo Hoo!  What are you thankful for?

**I have not forgotten about posting a picture of one of my many hair disasters. . . .but that will come later today. . . . so be sure to check back!**

Monday, March 28, 2011

I am so offended

I remember when I was a teenager, hearing a man talk about how he felt he was being drawn to God.  He had a new desire to learn more about God, to learn what faith in Him was. 

This man said he was invited to church by a friend and the preacher at this church was the exact type of Christian that had driven this man away from church, faith and God.  He was loud, flamboyant, waved his arms around and shouted, "Hallelujah!" every other word it seemed.  This man decided after attending one service that he would not be back to this church and maybe he should rethink this desire for God.

Funniest thing though. . . he was drawn back to hear this man preach a week or so later.  He couldn't explain what drew him to go again. . . he just knew he had to be there.  This preacher did all the same offensive things and the man sat in his chair growing more and more frustrated and annoyed.

"Why would God, if there is a God, use this man who so obviously annoys me?  Does God not want me?" 

But as this preacher continued to speak, God softened the heart of this man.  He opened his ears to hear what God was saying through this man, regardless of the style of delivery.  This man ended up coming to a faith in Christ through this preacher. 

Here is what gets me about this story.  The man, who is now a pastor himself, still dislikes the style of preaching that is loud, flamboyant, and "Hallelujahs" every other word.  He even admitted that he still has a hard time listening to the preacher who led him to Christ preach.  He would rather do many things than listen to someone like that. 

But, he said (and I am paraphrasing), "I learned to be open to whatever God has for me, regardless of the form or vessel it comes in.  I have learned that I can be offended by someone or something and God can and will still use that."

I have thought of this so often over the years and again recently as I have been in some situations where I am just put off by someone's remarks, attitude or style.  I remind myself that God is still God and he uses any willing vessel (even the annoying ones) to accomplish His purpose.  My job is to be open and willing to listen.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Giveaway time!

I am jumping on the blog wagon and doing a giveaway!  I have never won any of the giveaways that I have entered, but I still think they are fun (especially PW's)!

So my giveaway is one set (2) of Sakura Votive Holders from PartyLite



Cherry blossoms symbolize peace, which makes the Sakura Votive Holder a vital accent for any home. A stylish etched cherry blossom pattern laces a glass votive cup, producing a dazzling glow.   (3" high)

How to win:
In the comments of this blog, tell me about your worst hair disaster!  We have all been there. . . and I have many many photos of my many many disasters!  I promise to post a pic of myself when I announce the winner.  If you are one of the few (if any) who have never experienced a hair disaster (or are just too embarrassed), tell me your favorite color. 

I will leave this giveaway open until Monday at 5pm and then announce the winner Tuesday, March 29.  I will use random.org to choose the winner. 

Votive holders will be shipped (or delivered if you live in town) at my expense. 

Tell your friends, family, co-workers, etc. - the more the merrier!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Say what?

"What's up chicken butt?"

For the last few weeks I have had this really obnoxious phrase stuck in my head. I honestly don't even know where it came from.  I think I can blame it on my good friend Deanna for starting it. . . .or maybe it was my good friend Christina. . . . but really as long as I can blame its origination on someone other than me, it's all good. 

Seriously, I know it's immature, doesn't make a lot of sense and all that, but I crack up every time I think about it!  I think we used to use it as a greeting in high school/college - yes we were that cool. 

Phrases and sayings are kind of like scents or music.  They can bring you back to a certain time in your life, or bring up certain emotions and thoughts. 

In Bible college (yes I went to Bible college) I had a professor who used to say "Bless God!" in this crazy, southern Baptist type voice - he would also say, "Blessed are the flexible, for they shall be flexed!"  Whenever I think of those phrases (usually at times of stress), I am reminded of this man of God and how he seemed to take everything in stride and with a touch of humor.

There are tons of other phrases and sayings, but my mind is overflowing with other stuff at the moment, so instead I want to hear from you.  What are some phrases that bring you back in time?  Or just phrases that you love or hate? 

**Update**  My reference to "crazy southern Baptist voice" had nothing to do with the Baptist (or southern Baptist) denomination or people who go to a Baptist church. . . . just what pops into my mind when I think of my professor!



Monday, March 21, 2011

A weekend in review

Whew!  Monday already?  This past weekend was the type where when I get to work on Monday, it is almost like having a break!  At least for the first few minutes!

We had a busy weekend, but at the same time it was one of the best weekends.

Friday night started with a "date night" for Mark & I.  We had to miss last Wednesday's Financial Peace University because our babysitter had to go out of town at the last minute.  Thankfully, we get one free lesson on Dave Ramsey's website, so Friday night my mom watched the kids and we went to my parents house to watch Lesson 3 of FPU.

This lesson is the nuts and bolts of FPU - the budget (cue horror movie music).

Mark & I have tried to create a budget for the last year, if not longer.  We create one, then life happens and bam, budget gone.  Or we create one and then a pair of shoes, latte, tool, etc. comes calling and we just have to have it.

I have heard people question the cost of FPU (it is usually $100 for the course).  I myself questioned it before hearing people I knew go through the course and witness their lives transformed.  For me, learning to budget, realistically budget, is worth every last penny of the $100.  Budgeting has been a struggle for me personally all my life and that has carried into married life as well. 

So, back to this weekend.  Mark & I watched Lesson 3 on Friday night and then planned to pound out the budget on Saturday night after the kids went to bed.

Saturday morning brought us swimming lessons, playtime, lunch and naps for EVERYONE (whoo hoo!).  Saturday late afternoon, my brother brought his boys (ages 5 & 8) over for a sleepover. 

Any thought I may have once had (prior to having any kids) to have 4 kids. . . yeah, long gone!!!  And all the kids were pretty well behaved, but oh man, it was a lot of work!  But we played and built towers with Lego's, ate supper, had ice cream, watched a little bit of a movie and then tried to get all 4 kids to bed at the same time.  Whew!

By this time we got settled into our room to start the budget I was weary, but ready to tackle the budget!  And that enthusiasm lasted until we started to figure out really how much money we had vs. what we wanted! 

It was tough but after about an hour, we had it down.  DR advice is to use a zero based budget - give every dollar a name before the month begins.  This is a challenge - especially for those of us who tend to use the guessing game for budgeting (I know we aren't the only ones out there going, now what do we pay when??).  But thankfully with the help of online bank statements, finding old paid bills in the stack of unorganized mess we call a filing system, we did it! 

After falling asleep Saturday night, we were woken up once by EVERY. SINGLE. CHILD.  Riley (8) got up to use the bathroom and accidentally came in our room instead.  Isaac fell out of his bed while attempting to get out to use the bathroom.  Jake (5) came in our room at 4:45am to see if it was time to watch cartoons yet.  Piper woke up at 5:00am just because.  Yeah, we were not loving it very much, but I guess that is to be expected.

Sunday morning we were MIA from church due to the above reasons.  Yes, it's an excuse. . . and a mighty good one I think.  We made pancakes and eggs for the kids and a large pot of coffee for me.  After my nephews left, we had a wonderful morning of relaxing, playing, just hanging out in our PJ's.  After lunch, we all napped (whoo hoo again!) and we all must have needed it because everyone slept for at least two hours!  This rarely happens in our house anymore, so it was a extra special treat!  We then finally watched the end of Happy Feet.  Mark & I always laugh because we see about the first 20 minutes of movies about 100 times before we convince Isaac to let the whole movie play through. 

The rest of Sunday was spent with more playing, running a couple errands, supper, bath time and bed.  Then, (cue horror music again) it was time to tackle part 2 of the budget.  The allocated spending plan.  This is were you go into great detail about what bills will be paid what week with what income. 

Note:  For all of you out there who have never struggled with managing your finances, I can about       imagine your thought process right now.  It may go something like this, "How can these people be adults and not have any idea how to manage money?  What is so difficult about this?  How have they survived all these years?"  For you people, well, I don't have a good answer.  All I can say is we are learning it now and better late than never, right?  It is humbling, very humbling.

For those of you who struggle like us - WELCOME TO THE CLUB!  One of the encouraging things about taking FPU with a group is that you realize that you are not alone.  It is so freeing to be able to look at people at all different walks of life and income levels and be able to all say that we are in the same boat together.  Granted, without taking the class that boat is quickly sinking, but for us this class is a lifesaver.  Enough metaphors for you?

Back to the allocated spending plan.  After another hour, with only a few tense moments (Mark may have been annoyed about how I am the nerd of the group and I like things written out a certain way), we had it finished.  Tired and overwhelmed as I was, I. FELT. AMAZING! 

Having this first step of control in our finances is amazing to me.  No, we are not rich, and no, we are not out of the woods yet and yes, we still have a ways to go to reach our goals, but oh my goodness, there is such freedom in telling your money where to go. 

DR says that the first month of trying to stick to the budget is tough, second month a little better and the third month is better yet.  I am prepared to have many "emergency budget meetings" this month as life happens, but the fact that we have started this portion of our journey is so encouraging to me. 

All in all a wonderful weekend, full of everyday life and the trials it brings. 

What was your weekend full of?  (and yes I know, ending a sentence with a preposition is a no-no. . . )

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Financial Peace

Mark and I have dreams and goals for our lives and the lives of our kids.  There are certain things we want to accomplish or be a part of that we are unable to right now due to one little itsy bitsy word.

Debt.

I wish that I could say that our level of debt is in direct relation to the size of the word, but it is more like this in our lives right now.

DEBT.

We have lived life like a lot if not most Americans.  We have bought what we could afford the payments on, not what we could afford.  

We decided a few months back that we need to get things on track and get out of debt. To help us do this, Mark & I have started Dave Ramsey's Financial Peace University.  We know both family and friends who have taken this course and we have seen the results.  We have also heard that this is not a quick fix (darn). 

We are in week 3 - since we have started, we have cut up all our credit cards (kind of a freeing and scary feeling at the same time), created a simple budget, and prayed for wisdom in our financial decisions from here on out. 

Also since we have started, I have never been more tempted to stop and get a latte on my way to work or go shopping for a cute pair of sandals for spring.  I look at my purse and think I should really get a new one becuase this one has a thread hanging from it.  I notice that there are all these great new eyeshadow colors in the make-up aisle at Walmart.  I think steaks on the grill sound great when before mac & cheese was fine by me. 

My immediate thought usually after all of these temptations is that I deserve it.  I deserve that coffee because I was up with the kids and I'm tired.  I deserve the shoes because they make me feel good about the way I look.  I deserve a new purse because a lot of my friends have purses for every outfit.  You get the picture.

Last week, in class Dave told a story of a single mom who stopped him after a conference.  She told him that she had created her budget, she was working 2 jobs to cover all the bills and although it was tight, she was making it.  Then one day on her way to bring the kids to daycare, it was pouring rain and she got a flat tire.  So she had to get out in the rain and change it, all the while being splashed by cars going by.  She got to work late because of this and got yelled at by her boss.  She had to work late to cover for being late and so she was late to pick up the kids from daycare and she got penalized for that.  On the way home, the kids were begging and pleading for "McDonald's, McDonald's, McDonald's!"  This mom, being tired and frustrated gave in because she felt she deserved a break after her horrible day.  So she pulled into the McDonald's drive through and bought some Happy Meals (with money marked for another expense) and went home.  This single mom told Dave, "That trip to McDonald's cost me $159 in bounced check fees."

Dave went on to say that we don't 'deserve' to treat ourselves when we are the ones to get ourselves into these messes.  By budgeting, you give all your money a name and if you don't have money for an area, whether its eating out, going to movies, buying new shoes or makeup, you don't do it!! 

Hard to shallow, but good for me to hear.  I still get tempted, but I keep thinking of the plans that we have and the plans that God has for us (Jeremiah 29:11-12) and it helps keep me motivated. 

So does one of Dave's famous phrases (paraphrased):

"Live now like no one else, so someday you can live like no one else!"

Monday, March 14, 2011

Arguments and a rubber ducky

Conflict in marriage in normal and healthy.  If you never had conflict, well. . . I would say you are a liar.  But, as Mark & I have learned (and continue to learn) it is how you resolve the conflict that matters. 

We recently read the book Everybody Wins: The Chapman Guide to Resolving Conflict Without Arguing with our mentor couple.  Mark & I don't have all out screaming matches - we are the sarcastic, snotty comments type of people.

Overall the book is really good - there were a few cheesy parts that we all agreed we would NEVER do.  One example, wear a sign around your neck that says, "I am listening" - yeah, no thanks.  But the point is that you need to really listen and take in what your partner is saying instead of just formulating your response the whole time they are talking. I of course have never done that.

We have definitely gotten better at resolving conflict, but we still have times of weakness. 

The other night we were giving the kids a bath.  Bath time is always crazy because, well we are trying to give 2 toddlers a bath!  I honestly don't even remember what we were fighting about (yes, brownie points for fighting in front of the kids), but it was getting as heated as our arguments get.  The tension in the bathroom was thick.  I was getting ready to rinse Piper off, so Mark was holding her as she stood in the tub and the next thing we know she was sticking her legs out in front of her.  Picture an Olympic gymnast on the rings with their arms straight down and legs straight out in front.  That is exactly what she was doing.  It was the oddest looking thing you have ever seen and she was giggling.  Mark's arms are on fire because our little girl, well she is not so little, but he starts laughing and I start laughing and then the kids start laughing. 

It was in that moment that I think both Mark & I realized that whatever it was we were arguing about was ridiculous and not worth the time or effort.  We got the kids out of the tub, put to bed and went on to have a really nice evening. 

I say all this to say that I am so thankful for being able to find humor in the midst of everyday life.  I am so thankful for the grace God gives us when we make such silly, selfish choices.  I love my husband more everyday because we can laugh together and forgive each other in the midst of our shortcomings.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

10 Things I Like More Than. . . .

. . .Going To The Dentist:

10) Bra shopping. Ladies, enough said.

9)  Having my picture taken.  For those who know me. . . yeah, enough said.

8)  Riding in a cargo van squished between 2 smelly people for 10+ hours.

7)  Packing.

6)  Unpacking.

5)  Long car rides with my children.  For those who know my children. . . you understand what I am saying.

4)  Cleaning the toy room.

3)  Cleaning the van.

2)  Cleaning the bathroom.

1)  Cleaning. . . . in general (you had to know this was coming after the last 3).  Again, for those who know me and maybe more importantly, for those who have stopped by unannounced you know how true this is.

I went to the dentist today.

Who, for the sake of fairness, is the nicest lady in the world and her hygienists are super sweet and professional. 

BUT - it was still the dentist.  And I have a high gag reflex and horror stories in my memory from going to the dentist, so it is not a great experience for me. 

It has honestly gotten better in the last few years since going to our current dentist, but still not an appointment I look forward too.  If any little thing comes up to give me an excuse to reschedule my appointment (like. . . a sale anywhere, the sky looking too gray, bad hair day, etc.) I will do so.

My memories of going to the dentist are just a few.  I did my standard twice a year cleaning, but my memories are centered around two events.

I hated sitting in the waiting room and hearing that suction thing.  You know the one they ask you to close your mouth around to suck out all the saliva, water, your soul?  That sound to this day makes me nauseous.  I would rather change 1000 nasty poopy diapers than listen to that sound, much less have it IN MY MOUTH!  I gag like crazy.

My second memory is of having fluoride treatment.  I remember as a child waiting and wishing to turn 16.  Not so I could date or get my driver's license.  But so that I no longer would have to get fluoride treatment.  In my mind it is a dentist's way to torture you for having bad breath, not flossing morning and night (seriously, what child does that?) and not brushing after every meal (again, who does this?). 

But the worst part of this treatment was the flavors.  I would love to meet the genius who said, "Hmm, let's take this horrible paste, with its horrible texture, that we put in this Styrofoam tray and make it bubble gum or strawberry flavored (or whatever other disgusting flavor they could think of) and ruin those flavors for a child for life."

Apparently when I was 13 or 14 my mind/body gave up the fight against the gag reflex and I threw up while having those awful trays in my mouth.  Sound disgusting?  Try being there.  After that the dentist said I didn't have to have fluoride treatment anymore.  Apparently they have a limit for how much they can endure as well.

So because of these experiences, I am a dentist's worst nightmare as a patient.  I ask to not close my mouth around the suction thing and I ask for mint toothpaste for when they polish my teeth (again, what is with the fruit flavors).  I grimace and try to think of my happy place as they are cleaning my teeth. 

I tip my hat to my dentist - she is patient with me, understanding and even laughs at my stories (but who wouldn't, right?).  I finally told her one time that although I still dislike going to the dentist, I really like coming to see her. 

Feel free to share your horror stories - and yes, I know I'm crazy.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Out of the mouths of babes

I was raised in a Christian home where my parents showed their faith in very obvious ways like taking us to church, praying before a meal, saying prayers with us kids before bed, etc. 

But they also gave examples of their faith in less obvious ways.  I remember waking up too early some mornings and hearing my parents praying together.  I remember my dad telling a story about how he got upset with someone at work and had to go back and apologize. 

I remember the year we went to public school for the 1st time (otherwise K-8th was at a christian school) and my mom would do devotions with my sister and I each morning before school.  Now these were not the most spiritual times for a 9 and 11 year old - my mom had a habit of falling asleep while praying.  You see she had just gotten off of a 12 hour night shift.  My sister and I would be as quiet as we could be as my mom started to pray and soon she would be dozing off. . . .we off course being the mature girls we were, would hold in our laughter for about. . . . . 30 seconds.  Then we would wake up my mom, who would smile, laugh and say, "Oh did I fall asleep again?!" and we would start prayers over.

Most of all I remember prayer being something that was a regular, normal, everyday part of our lives as kids.  My parents would pray for us when we were hurt (physically or emotionally), they would pray for us for an upcoming test or sporting event.  We would pray in the car (eyes open of course!), we would pray at home, at school, etc.  And no we were not those weird Christians. . . my parents were (and are) just very sincere in their faith and their belief in God who hears and answers prayer. 

This legacy is one I hope to pass on to our kids.  We pray with the kids each night and are getting better at remembering to pray at meals - which Isaac loves because we sing "Johnny Apple Seed" as loud as possible and he is so sincere and earnest in this prayer. 

I have also started praying for the kids whenever they get an owie or say something hurts.  I keep it simple.  Isaac says, "My head hurts." I say, "Should Mommy pray for you?"  He says, "Yes." I then pray something to the effect of, "Dear Jesus, I pray for Isaac's head that it wouldn't hurt anymore.  I pray that You would heal him and he would have a wonderful day.  In Jesus' name, Amen." 

I keep it simple for a few reasons.  One, I am not an eloquent person - I say what I mean or at least try to and usually it comes out sounding pretty, well, simple.  Just my nature.  Secondly, I want Isaac and Piper to know that they can talk to Jesus whenever, wherever, and they can talk to Him like they talk to a friend or Mommy & Daddy.

The other night, I was not feeling the best - my back among other things really hurt.  In the past when Isaac hears that my back hurts he comes over and rubs it till I say it feels better (melt my heart).  But the other night when I told him my back hurt, he started to pray for me.  It sounded something like this:

"Dear Jesus, asdfkjksdjf Mommy's back aklsdjfkj have good akjdasdjkf better, Jesus name AMEN!" 

I have never heard or been as blessed by a prayer in my entire life. 

Monday, March 7, 2011

Weekend Update

Ah, I missed you all! 

What?  You didn't notice my absence for the last 4 days?  Oh well, I was gone.  So there, now you can miss me!

We had a great weekend.  It was nothing super spectacular in terms of any big event or occasion, but it was just a great weekend filled with family time, fun kid things, a date and church.  My favorite type of weekend.

Saturday morning Isaac had his first spring swimming lesson class.  For the next 6 Saturdays, my little man gets to be a fish for 30 minutes (along with his daddy).  This is his second time in the parent-child class because you have to be 3 years old to advance to beginners.  I am actually very happy he is getting a 2nd time around with this class because it is a great refresher course for him and I think he will do better in beginners this summer after having taken this class. 

Last summer when Piper and I sat on the sidelines to watch and the only thing I had to be concerned about then was keeping her cool (indoor pool is great in the winter - a tad bit hot in the summer).  This spring, the girl wanted to go jump in the pool!  It was a long 30 minutes of crowd control!  This summer I think she will have a blast in swimming lessons, but until then it will be a lesson in self-control every Saturday morning!

I also had a friend over for a kikaPaprika party/showing.  It is a clothing line I heard about from my friend in Wisconsin.  Ladies, it is some of the cutest clothes I have ever seen!  When I first heard, all knit, I had visions of sweatsuits.  Yupthanksbutnothanks.  But, when Beth (consultant) arrived-oh my goodness, it is some of the cutest stuff and all really really comfortable.  The stuff leans towards the spendier side, but not our of line with stuff you would find at Macy's, Bloomingdale's, The Limited, etc.  Check it out!

Mark & I also had a date night on Saturday night.  It was wonderful.  I am learning (FINALLY) that we don't need to have these huge, long, gaze into your eyes discussions every time we go out.  I used to get so stressed trying to force conversation that I would miss the joy of just being with my best friend.  I would truly rather sit and be silent with Mark than have a conversation with anyone else.  So, this date was so nice for me in that I did not spend time thinking about what we should/could talk about, but instead I just enjoyed Mark.  I am also proud of the fact that we had supper, went to a movie and had dessert afterwards all for $10!  Free dinner (thank you Big Brother, Big Sister), free movie tickets (thank you Mom & Dad), and dessert (yes, dessert was $10!!!).

Sunday we went to church, went grocery shopping, took naps (yes all of us - love it!) and to my nephew's hockey game.

Weekends like this just remind me again of how much I love my family and the life we lead.  I love being together doing 'typical' family stuff.  I love the fact that in the midst of all these fun things we still can be (unfortunately) cranky, naughty, tired, annoyed, etc. but we are learning to move past those things to just enjoying each other. 

What was a highlight of your weekend? 

Also, if you have not had a chance to comment on misconceptions, please do so. 

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Sun shining, clean car and bloody noses

True story:

I'm at lunch with Mark today. 

We go to the gas station to fill up ($3.31/gallon - not cool) and get the van washed because it is sunny and 32 and around here that means no coats, car washes and flip flops (OK, so no to the flip flops with the 400" of snow still everywhere, but you get my point. . . right?  Hello?). 

Mark is about to get out and fill up the van when he turns to me and says, "You have a bloody nose," and then he gets out of the van. 

Ummmmm, okay. . . 1) how did I not notice I had a bloody nose? 2) I love how nonchalant Mark is about this fact.  It's like, "Oh hey honey, there is a piece of lint on your shirt and your nose is bleeding, in case you were wondering."  3) My nose was bleeding out of only one side - the side that I have not been able to breathe out of all day - yeahumsurewhynot.

In other breaking news, my daughter decided this morning she needed to bond with her mommy for 1 hour and 30 minutes. . . . . typically, not a big deal. . . but from 4:15 - 5:45 AM I prefer to bond with my pillow and comfy bed. 

And finally, tomorrow is Friday, my favorite day of the week.  I am wishing for a huge pile of money to get dumped on my doorstep, my 2003 Honda Odyssey to turn into a 2011 Honda Odyssey (yes I am that lame) and that our house will magically have new siding on it.  But *if* none of that happens - it will still be a great day!

Happy Thursday!

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Misconceptions

I was reading a blog I follow (can you tell by now that I love to read blogs?) and it was a great post about friendships and how important they are for women and it gave some great ideas for finding and building new relationships.  One thing that struck me though was a comment from another reader about how the workplace is a great place to meet friends and the author of the blog commented back saying yes that's true and how she was thinking more of SAHM who are so isolated.  She went on to say that she figured most women who work had lots of friends through the workplace. 

I have followed this particular blog long enough to get to know the heart of the author and I know she is a sweetheart with a big heart.  I found it interesting though at the misconception she seemed to have about friendships in the workplace and that got me thinking about the misconceptions in general between moms who work outside the home (WM) and moms who work inside the home (SAHM). 

Having been in both of these roles in my life I think I have a good handle on the great parts of both and the really difficult parts of both, but I also find myself at times thinking, "Oh those SAHM have it so easy!"  And yet I know that is not true, just like it is not true that I have it so easy because I can "drop my kids at daycare and go to work and have wonderful adult conversation, come home, have a delightful evening and joyfully put my kids to bed." 

So, I would love to hear responses from WM and SAHM alike.  What do you feel are some misconceptions about your role?  What is your greatest joy about your choice and what is the most difficult part?  I am working on future post (and article) about this subject too, so I may be using some of your ideas for that (I will ask you first and will not use names). 

I opened up comments to allow anonymous comments for this post, so if you are more comfortable leaving an anonymous comment, please do!  Thanks and I look forward to hearing from you all!

Friday, February 25, 2011

It goes by too fast most days

How is it that it feels like just yesterday that our family was here:
And Isaac looked like this:
And Piper looked like this:
Is this not the cutest little boy you have ever seen?
And I adore this little girl and her crazy hair.
And now we are here - 2 kids well into toddler years.  I am so thankful and blessed to be called their mommy.  I am in awe at times that I get to be a mom.  Even after a night of my 2 1/2 year old waking up 4 times.  It is easy to find delight when looking at these two precious babies-and yes I will call them my babies for as long as I live. 

Happy Friday!

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Off again

I am having a very off day today.  I just feel antsy and like I am just waiting on something, anything different to happen in my life.  I feel like I am wasting time.  Mind you I still have no idea what I want different or what I should be doing.

I am also just plain old tired, exhausted actually. I hate feeling this constant blanket of tiredness these last few weeks.  There is only so much caffeine can do these days.  And besides I really do not like being dependant on artificial means to have energy.  I know that I need to start exercising in some form or fashion.  I hear time and time again from so many that it helps.  Mark has started working out every night after the kids are in bed and I am so proud of him!  I also feel somewhat guilty as I crawl in bed when he goes out to exercise.  But, not guilty enough to do anything about it. 

I see the sun shining out my office window and it makes me craze spring and summer and lazy days with the kids at the park and the lake.  But it also makes me wish for more time to do those things I want.  Why can I not be content today?  Why is finding delight so difficult today? 

I tell myself that this is normal and that these are the minor downs of the ups and downs of life.  One thing I am really encouraged about is Mark & I have started praying specifically for direction in a certain area of our lives. 

Married people out there - I challenge you to pray with your spouse every night.  It does not need to be a big, long, super spiritual prayer. 
It can be, "Thank you Jesus for this day, keep the kids safe and healthy, help us have a good day tomorrow.  Amen." 
Seriously, most of my prayers when we first started a few months back were like that.  But the act of praying together, of listening to each other, and having that connection is so cool. 

But anyway, back to Mark & I praying together.  It has given me so much more peace knowing that we are together asking God for direction.  I am reminded again that God is God and He desires to be a part of every area of my life and our life as a family.

Okay-deep breath.  I feel somewhat better.  Thanks for letting me ramble and I am looking forward to being on again soon!

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Working Girls Unite!

Okay, so maybe my title gives you the impression of a different kind of working girl. . .  but I mean the working outside the home full-time girl. . . sheesh!

I would love some tips on how to balance.

(pausing here for laughter, snorts, "You've got to be kidding me!" comments)

I am not going to lie.  I struggle with how to juggle it all.  And please don't tell me that it's okay to leave a little dust around or a bowl can sit in the sink for a night.  If you came to my house right now you would see that lately I have been having success in spending time with kids, BUT. . . . . . our house is a WRECK!!!!!!!!!! 

Honestly, I do not expect perfection.  Really.  I am fine with some clutter and beds unmade, among other things.  But I think there is a responsibility I have as a human, wife, parent, etc. to keep our home a little lot better than I have been.

My struggle comes from having absolutely no energy after the kids are in bed to do anything like housework.  This may be due to the fact that our kids our still somewhat random about sleeping through the night. 

(Reminder-they are 16 months and 2 1/2 yrs. old.  Yeah, it's awesome.)

I have also learned that I need some time for me at the end of the day to unwind.  I wish I didn't, but that is just how I function.  I cannot go non-stop working from the moment I wake up until I drop into bed in exhaustion.  I have tried and it is not a pretty sight.  Just ask my husband.  Not pretty.

So, what do I do?  Do I not spend time with the kids after being away from them all day?  Do we use only paper plates and plastic utensils?  Buy new underwear for everyone every couple weeks?  And yes, I have been tempted and I have given in to this temptation at times too.  Okay not on the underwear thing, but wouldn't that be nice?!?!?. 

I honestly think though my biggest hurdle is the inability to prioritize what needs to be done, sticking with that, getting things organized so everything has a specific place and finally, just plain old motivation.

So, working girls, I am open to advice.  Comment away!  And if you are like me and have no clue, just tell me.  Then at least I will know I am not the only imperfect mom out there! ;)

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Oh why not?

I love that the day I want my hair to look nice for a luncheon fundraiser, it is frizzy, flat, and static-y (yes that's a word).  This is actually not that different than any other day, but why can't it look nice just once?!

I love that the day I am wearing 'less' clothing (little black dress for fundraiser), I am sweating more than ever.  I just returned from the rest room after sticking wads of toilet paper in my armpits to soak up the sweat. . . . . . . . seriously.  I did throw them away before leaving the rest room - otherwise that would be gross. 

(I am pausing here for you to laugh, gag, find a different blog to read, etc.)

But what I really do love is that today is my Friday, tomorrow I get a whole day with my wonderful husband and tomorrow night I get to drive to Bismarck to see my wonderful friend Christina. 

Happy Friday Thursday!

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Being Off and On

Kelle at her beautiful blog enjoying the small things and her post from yesterday On and Off got me thinking about being "on and off" and what that means to me.

Lately I have been feeling a desire to do more.  More what?  I don't know exactly. 

Do I have some idea?  Yes.  Am I ready to share all that?  No.

I do know that I have been feeling on and off at the same times it seems.  Let me try to explain. 

I feel as if I have all these desires, passions, ideas in my head.  I feel as though I get inspired with everything around me.  I feel as though I am learning to be more intentional with my kids.  I emphasize learning because truthfully it does not come natural for me.  There are some parts of mothering that come natural for me and others that do not.  Being intentional and present in the moment of reading the same book 500 times or singing along with the same Signing Time DVD over and over and over, etc. - that does not come natural to me.
*Side note:  Huge weight lifted in being able to admit that somewhere other than in my brain.

The off part comes from feeling like due to certain parts of my life that need my attention and time, I cannot pursue the other parts of my life that I want to give my time and attention.  I read about people who seem to do it all; work outside the home, have kids (and do a great job raising them it seems), have hobbies/passions, have healthy marriages, time to workout, don't wear the same 5 outfits week in and week out and I wonder how on earth they do it.  I know the saying that women are great at multi-tasking, but I must have missed out on the multi-tasking mother gene.  I do not feel like I can give 100% to my kids and 100% to my husband and 100% to me.  Actually I know that I can't.

My kids are my first priority and passion.  I know at times I may make it seem like they are all work and no fun.  Forgive me for that impression.  My kids bring me more joy and peace and delight than I would have ever thought.  Really, they are amazing little people that I look at and wonder what I did to deserve such blessings.  And then I remember I did nothing - God did everything. 

By making the choice to have kids and to be present and intentional in their lives, I have chosen to lay other things aside in my life.  And I am happy with that choice - thrilled as a matter of fact. 

But why then, do I have all of these feelings, thoughts, desires pulling at me?  I have a feeling of being "off" and yet I am at the same time feeling more "on" in my life than I have in a long time.  I feel as though I am making important strides in overcoming fear, in being a better parent, having better communication and relationship with Mark, etc.

In reading all of this just now, I realize it is somewhat garbled and disconnected, but it is also what I feel and I don't want to edit myself for the sake of good writing - so please bear with me.

All in all, I am again trying to rest in the process of life and find delight in this time.  I know that God has a plan and purpose for everything under the sun.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

I love Tuesday! And other random things. . .

  • While I am usually ridiculously cold at work, today I was so hot. . . as in my cheeks were red, armpits sweaty (too much detail??), hair pulled back, sleeves rolled up HOT!  Ugh, can I not just be a regulated normal temp at work?


  • Why does it seem like the majority of blogs by women are from women who stay home with their kids?  Do working (outside the home) women not have the blogging gene?  Is it a time issue?  Lack of interest?  I would love to find and follow more blogs of working moms.  I love the blogs I follow of stay (and work your butt off raising kids) at home moms, but I would also love to read about the struggles and ups and downs of working moms. 

  • Why does it seem like when you are the most broke financially conservative, that is when things/opportunities/bills come out of the woodwork like crazy.  It is like Dave Ramsey says I guess, "Murphy follows broke folks" (I may be paraphrasing that).

  • I love how I have medical, dental, life, and vision insurance and yet I cannot get any insurance to pay for a doctor prescribed treatment to decrease the amount of headaches I have.  Hmmmm, not trying to be obnoxious, but wouldn't you think it would be better, cheaper for insurance companies to pay a one time $600 bill than a lifetime of prescription costs, ER visits, specialist office visits, etc. . . . . I'm just sayin'.

  • My little boy told me Happy Valentine's Day yesterday about 30 times.  It does not get much better than that.

  • My little girl gave me a wet sloppy kiss with a bit of leftover supper on her mouth.  And while my gag reflex was in full swing (I am not immune to the disgustingness of toddlers), it does not get much better than that.

  • Am I the only one out there not getting on the skinny jean train?  They remind me of when I used to roll my jeans, my white Guess jeans.  And then pull my socks over them.  And wear generic Keds.  And a multi-color sweater (think Bill Cosby).  Although I will admit, if I was as tiny as the models I see the skinny jeans on, I may jump on board.  But for now - I will stick with boot cut. 

Monday, February 14, 2011

Happy "Holiday Made Up by Hallmark" Day!

I don't believe it, but Mark (and a lot of other men) does.  Valentine's Day is a fun day for me. . . .I don't go all out, but any excuse to buy candy, get flowers and most importantly show love, is a good day to me.  And it's not that Mark hates the day. . . I think just the pressure to make it extra special is what bugs him.  So, we keep it pretty low key. 

I know there are probably 50 million blog posts today about love and their significant other. . . so here is the 50,000,001 post.

Mark & I went on our first date Feb. 3, 2004.  He had asked me out the night before. . . for that same night, but I *ahem* lied (not proud) and said I had to babysit that night. . . .after all I didn't look very cute after a long day at work! 

Anywho, the point is that when Valentine's Day rolled around, we had only been dating a couple weeks and I had told my brother weeks prior that I would babysit for him that night.  So, during the day we went to a track meet at Concordia and then decided to have an early supper.  Considering we had only been dating a short time, I didn't want there to be a lot of pressure on Valentine's Day. . . and there are only so many places in Moorhead to eat. . . so we went to Village Inn on V-Day!  It was actually really fun.  We were there super early, so we ate with all the old-timers.  It was so fun to see all these cute old couples or groups of little old ladies eating together. 

Fast forward to the next year - we are now 2 weeks past being engaged (he asked a year to the day of the first day he asked me out) and we decided to make Village Inn part of our tradition!  No waiting and inexpensive. . . plus, it was part of our story.

We have now gone to Village Inn every year since. 

I wish I could accurately put into words how I feel about Mark.  He is the best man that I know.  He is a servant to the core.  He loves unconditionally.  He gives without seeking a return.  He is my best friend.  I would rather sit around with him and do nothing than go do anything else with anyone else.

Mark is an amazing dad.  He continually challenges me to be a better mom.  Not by anything he says, but by how present he is with our kids all the time.  He truly enjoys being together as a family, playing with the kids, making up silly games.  Where as I struggle at times needing a break, he seems to never need a break (although I know he appreciates it when he gets one). 

Mark has a heart for God.  He is quiet about his faith, but it is strong nonetheless.  These last few years as we have journeyed together to build our faith as a couple, he is open to the things God has for him and for us as a family.

I used to hear people say that they love their spouse more today than the day they married them and I would wonder how that is possible.  I have learned that it is possible because you have experienced the ups and down of life with that person.  Mark has seen me with bed head and stinky breath.  He has seen me in a bad mood and when I whine about nothing.  He has walked with me through my inner struggles and fears.  He has rejoiced with me in the births of our kids.  He has laughed with me about nothing.  He has shared more inside jokes and silent communication than anyone else.  I can say that I truly do love Mark more today than the day I married him.

Happy Valentine's Day, Mark - and I can't wait to be that "cute old couple" at Village Inn someday! 

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Fear and Freedom

This weekend Mark in going to be gone - and I am okay with it. 

For those of you who don't know much about me, that is a HUGE step.  My entire life I have been ruled by fear.  I could write a book on the ways I have allowed fear to shape the choices I have made in my life.  But I am learning this year that my fear is based more on my sense of control or lack of control.

I fear losing Mark - not as in him leaving me, but I fear him dying.  But what I fear more than that is that I won't know if he gets hurt or killed.  I fear that I won't be there at those final moments of his life.  I fear that he won't know how much I love him and that I will have regrets about how I have shown or not shown him love.

To those who have never dealt with fear, anxiety, panic attacks, etc., it is hard to understand how deeply fear can grip a person.  Fear is a powerful, powerful emotion and its grip is one that is not easily broken.  Fear is a seemingly never ending cycle.  For after my first panic attack at the ripe age of 8 (at least that's the first one I remember) I began to fear being fearful.  So I would do everything in my power to avoid the circumstance or situation that had caused me to panic.  Hard to do when the fear reared its ugly head anytime my mom left.  This made me going to school, her going to work, the store, out with my dad, etc. extremely difficult for me and my entire family.

As I grew up, those fears would ebb and flow. . . I would have months of relief to be followed by months of despair.  It truly was a roller coaster of emotions, the details of which may be for another post. 

Fast forward to my adult years.  The grip of fear in regards to my mom had finally broken away.  I lived a few precious years without the overwhelming fear of fear. 

As I began my relationship with Mark, it was free of fear.  Then came the summer of 2004 and it hit me like a ton of bricks.  I was on vacation with my parents, brother and his family.  I think it had to do with the fact that I knew this was the man I loved and wanted to be with for the rest of my life and the realization of that triggered in me the fear of losing him.  To most everyone else when they realize they love someone or find the love of their life it brings comfort, peace, joy.  To me it brought those things with a 1000 lb. side of fear.

God truly choose Mark for me, because he did not run away in the face of my panic attacks, illogical fears and emotions.  He didn't understand them, but he just loved me in spite of them.  I remember him telling me he wasn't going anywhere.  To a young woman who at times wanted to run away from herself, those were powerful words.

I have since had a lot of highs and lows with my fear.  I am just coming out of a really low time.  A time when once again I was consumed by fear and what it could do to me.  Fear does not just weigh me down.  It is a burden to those around me.  It is a heavy burden for Mark to bear, knowing that he is the 'source', for lack of a better term, of my fear.

With the realization though that my fear is based in not being in control, it has empowered me to really look at the things I fear and call them out.  I have no control over what happens to Mark whether he is in town or out of town.  I could talk to him on the phone during the day and the second we hang up he could get into a horrible car accident or some other freak thing.  Only God knows the number of days we are here on this earth.

So, I have been speaking life to myself the last few days and weeks.  I still struggle.  I still get that ugly feeling in the pit of my stomach when I can't reach Mark by phone or when I am waiting for him to return home after work.  I wish I could say that I didn't, but I am able to say in spite of the feeling of fear, I am getting so much better at not allowing it to rule my life and Mark's life.

I am happy that he gets this weekend away with a good friend.  He needs a break from our crazy life and I am looking forward to being able to give him the gift of being at peace and even looking forward to this time alone. 

There is freedom out there from this fear and I am on a journey to find it one day at a time.

I will find delight in embracing my past, living in the present and claiming my future, whatever it may be - free from fear.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Home Alone. . . .AHHH!

For the first time since I have had kids, I will have 24 hours alone. . . no spouse, no kids. . . .just me. 

Mark is going on his annual ice fishing trip with a good friend and so Friday night and part of Saturday it will just be me and the kids (take a moment and pray for our sanity).  Then Grandma and Grandpa come to the rescue get the kids and I have Saturday night and part of Sunday alone!

The thought is somewhat overwhelming actually as I am not quite sure what to do with myself anymore when it's just me.

Is that sad?  Or normal?

I am looking forward to the time though - I think I get so used to constantly having people around that I have forgotten the joy of alone time and how therapeutic  it can be.

So, I am trying to think of ideas of what to do.  I know I will go to the library and get a good book (yes, I am a nerd who loves to read) and I plan to rent at least one chick flick, but after that. . . . . my temptation is I should spend the time being productive and finish some projects I have at home, like:

1)  Actually have all out clothes put away in appropriate closets and dressers, instead of hanging in the laundry room and folded on the bed in the guest room.  Yes, it's sad and annoying and I still have yet to motivate myself to change it.

2)  Hang up pictures in our bedroom - bare walls drive me nuts and yet since we moved in we have gotten no further (or is it farther?) than bring the pictures into the bedroom and setting them on the floor.

3)  Pack up all the kids clothes that are too small and bring to Once Upon a Child or thrift store. 

4)  Scrub tub.  (okay in all honesty, I highly highly doubt I will run out of enough things to do that this would be at the top of my list. . . .but seriously it needs to be cleaned!!)

5)  Go through all the kids toys and pack up toys they no longer use or that are missing pieces and throw or bring to thrift store.

6)  Go grocery shopping for food that makes sense to have on hand so I can make an actual meal that makes sense instead of having hot dogs, PB & J, and grapes for supper.  Seriously.

7)  Paint our downstairs bathroom.  It is neon blue - ya, not kidding.  I am sure the people who lived there before us were wonderful people, but seriously enough with the blue.  Six rooms in our house were blue when we moved in.  There are now only 4 1/2 that are blue (I know, we have a lot of work to do), but this neon shade of blue has got to be the next to go.

8)  Decide on color for downstairs bathroom.  Okay, so perhaps this item on the list should be before painting, but I think we all know that by this point on the list. . . I am not getting any of this stuff done this weekend!

If you have ideas of things I should do this weekend or if you just want to live vicariously through me (as I do through people who go on vacations with or without kids, or who no longer have to change any diapers - ever), feel free to let me know!

Happy Tuesday!