Hello Fall

Autumn officially began last week. I love Fall. Even though the weather doesn’t change much where I live, and we drink frozen apple cider because it’s so hot out, I still LOVE Fall!

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I took a nose-dive into Fall. I was leaving work one day with both my younger children and in the parking lot I ate it! I mean: lost my balance spun around and splat, right on the asphalt. I escaped with no major bumps or bruises, only some road rash. However, my pride took a beating.

My son asked me, “Did you have to fall in front of my teacher?” I had been having a conversation with his teacher and turned back to say something when I quickly ended up on the pavement.

My daughter was more concerned about me, “Are you ok, Mommy?” she asked. I knew I was going to be ok, but at that moment, I was utterly embarrassed.

My life resembles this scenario lately. Things are going great and then splat, everything falls. Can you relate? When I think I have our groove down in this new school year, something changes and throws everything off balance. Our schedule gets busier, and the time for laundry, meal planning, and rest decreases. People get sick, and plans change. Do you wish this season would go more like you planned?

 

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School Spirit Day!

We started the school year well! Our routine was working. Uniforms were clean and laid out the night before, necessary papers filled out daily, and homework was getting done. BUT life happens. Monday comes AGAIN, and even more quickly after a jam-packed weekend. Why does Monday have to come every week? Most mornings, on our way out the door, one of my kids forgets something, loses something, and I rapidly lose my mind! Our productive morning goes SPLAT!

 

This morning was more of a pile-up crash type of moment: My earring back fell out, and I couldn’t find it on the floor. Then, while putting a sandwich bag of chips into a lunch box, they open upon and spill everywhere. All the while, my middle son is complaining he can’t find his planner. He assured me he left it at school on Friday. For the record, when he got to class, he realized the planner was signed and in his backpack. Thankfully, I said “No” to going upstairs to check the library, where I work, before taking him to class.

On most days, it seems the last five minutes of the morning getting out the door becomes the most challenging task. It’s not just my kids who disrupt the morning routine. On many frenzied mornings, I’m running back into the house to grab something – even with careful preparations the night before.

Confession time, I want this season of my life to go just as I’ve planned. I want to make it out the door without a hitch on Mondays, and the rest of the week too. This goal isn’t realistic, nor is it how life is “meant to be.” According to John 16:33, we will have trouble in this life. “I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth, you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.”

I know this, I tell my children this, and women I meet at church. BUT, I still desire the smooth, comfortable, easy-breezy type of day.

Honestly, what I desire more than a smooth day, is a day where I rise above the disarray around me, the irrational thoughts going on in my head, and the impatient actions spewing out of me. Without challenging moments, I won’t learn to rise above the confusion or my emotions. Part of me believes I should’ve grasped this by this point in my life, but the other part of me is eager to surrender my longing for the peaceful and comfortable. And if I’m asking to surrender this fleshly desire, my God is going to give me opportunities to walk it out.

Although I desire to rise above the daily chaos, my flesh often takes over, and I have to learn the same things all over again. My word for last year last was EMBRACE. This year it’s NEW. The NEW thing I’m learning to EMBRACE this season isn’t unique. I’m repeating the same lesson on embracing chaos. There will be similar disruptions this Fall, and new chaotic moments. One thing I know for sure is that there will be turbulence. I hope that I’ll handle the chaos better this season.

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Photo by Danielle MacInnes on Unsplash

I realize if I weren’t holding so tightly to my idea of the perfect morning, it wouldn’t bother me as much when things don’t go as planned. I picture the leaves falling during autumn. Leaves falling is also something we don’t see living this far south. Nevertheless, the leaves don’t cling to the tree branch and refuse to fall. I do, however, clench my desires and plans too tightly. For me to grow and something new to develop, I have to let go! Sometimes I need to allow things to fall. I need to take a deep breathe and help pick up the pieces.

Practically, there are ways I can prepare for the rocky moments. Recently, I printed a morning checklist for my youngest son, so he can see what needs to be done and check each item off himself. I realize I need to focus on a list of my own. Am I making time to rest, to prepare for the next day, or next week? Am I getting alone with the Lord and filling my brain with His truths instead of allowing my worries, desires, and fears to consume me? Lately, because of that checklist, my son is having smoother mornings and is helping more. I can, too, when I’m prepared and not solely focused on how I think the morning should flow.

Another thing that helps is doing something that refreshes me. Embellishing our home is one of those things that exhilarates me. Give me an empty area with a moderate amount of seasonal decor, and I’m in my happy place. The idea of decorating may make you extremely stressed; I have girlfriends who hate decorating!

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Go for a walk!

Find something that will rejuvenate you in this season and make time for it. If you’re feeling adventurous, you can even try something new. I signed up for an online class and can’t wait to get started. Making time for a walk outside can revive me after a draining day. A few times a week, I step away from the burdens of the day while getting my body moving. I listen to an audiobook, podcast, worship music, or appreciate the quiet of being outside. These are all things that help fulfill me. That way, when the depleting moments come (and they will), I can better handle them.

Free Farmhouse Scripture Print-I am with you alwaysIn this season, I hope you find new practical ways to embrace the chaos you’re facing. We will have troubles, but if you are walking with Jesus, remember you’re never facing them alone. I’m utterly thankful for that realization!

Goodbye Summer

Summer was such a sweet season for our family. I’m sad to see it go. It was a season mixed with downtime, travel, and exciting adventures. We braved the Florida heat and visited Disney World with friends and family. I cleaned out my kids’ rooms, yes, I was almost as excited about this as one … Continue reading “Goodbye Summer”

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Summer was such a sweet season for our family. I’m sad to see it go.

It was a season mixed with downtime, travel, and exciting adventures.

We braved the Florida heat and visited Disney World with friends and family.

I cleaned out my kids’ rooms, yes, I was almost as excited about this as one of our summer adventures!

 

We enjoyed the outdoors and tried new adventures.

 

We savored lazy summer mornings.

My husband and I helped out my in-laws’ family restaurant; this took me back to our days of being engaged where we worked together.

We started a small group in our home for young adults. They keep us young and teach us a lot.

 

I served at our church youth camp and youth conference.

This summer was good for my soul. It was incredible for our family.

img_1538And now we say goodbye to summer.

School is back in session, and my full-time job outside our home begins again.

As I reflect on this season, I remember how opposite I felt when school let out a few months before. I was exhausted, burned-out, and lonely.

I went into the last school year with my own set of expectations; which is never a good idea. I had high hopes for myself and others. Most of which I didn’t even realize.

I thought because last year was my second year at the same job I’d have more things figured out, but I still had quite a bit of learning to do.

I expected my eighth-grader to have a smoother year than his past two in middle school. But, he had similar academic challenges and struggled with responsibility. I wasn’t prepared for his group of friends shrinking and seeing him on the outside of his friend group.

I was entirely caught off guard when my third grader, who never has a rough day at school, began having quite a few rough days at home. His time at home became filled with emotional outbursts, sadness, and anxiety. I couldn’t comprehend how our bright and sweet boy was growing sad and stressed.

I was ill-equipped to handle my daughter going into school crying because she didn’t like her hair, her uniform, or the fact that her best friend yesterday wasn’t speaking to her this week. She was in kindergarten.

Maybe it’s my age, perhaps its selective memory, but I don’t remember middle school, third grade, or kindergarten being this difficult! We did survive the 2018-19 school year, and all grew in many ways. But I welcomed summer break like never before.

“To everything there is a season, A time for every purpose under heaven:”        Ecclesiastes 3:1

There was also the challenge of carving out time with my husband amidst our opposite schedules. I had to accept the heartache of dwindling relationships with friends and family without understanding why.

What I did know was: I didn’t feel like I was enough, in any area of my life, and that felt awful!

It was at the end of “my rope” that God began to refresh me with His Word, with friendships that were growing, with sweet time early in the morning sitting at His feet.

And I mean early.

Groggily, I’d peek at my phone to check the time. Most mornings, I’d pray/beg the Lord to let me sleep a little longer. After tossing and turning I’d realize that wasn’t an option. I’d head out to the living room and find my cozy spot on the couch. I’d open my bible or devotion book and wait for the Lord to reveal something.

I’d long for Him to remind me:

· I am not alone.

· Your plans are good, even if I don’t feel like they are.

· I can keep going.

Most days throughout the past school year, I did start my day in my bible. I listened to worship music on my way to work. I enjoyed sweet conversations with my kids (most of the time). I was grateful for the many blessings in my life. But I still felt this heaviness and sadness that weighed me down. I became so physically exhausted; I ended up going to my doctor. I found out I have something wrong with my thyroid, nothing serious at this time, but it is something to watch.

I also realized I had something wrong, spiritually. I was going through the motions and not being filled with Jesus. I was trying, in my strength and my set of expectations to take care of everything/everyone in this season. I don’t have to be Jesus; I have to lean on Jesus.

 I don’t have to be Jesus; I have to lean on Jesus.

I began changing my thinking and reminding myself:

o God is always with me, ‘I’m never alone. Deut 31:8

o I trust Your good plans for my family and me. Jer 29:11

o I don’t have to keep going in my strength; I can persevere with Jesus. Phil 4:13

1280x1280-1I also began realizing Jesus wanted me to know Him as my friend. I sang many times in church, “I’m a friend of God.” I never fully grasped this.  If I hadn’t felt so isolated this past year, I would’ve missed out on knowing my Savior in a new way.

There are times now when I’m hurt, upset, or scared that I stop and pray instead of picking up the phone to call a friend. God has also shown me the importance of having friends in my life to ask to pray and speak into my life.

He’s challenged me to make time for intentional moments with friends. I need to be surrounded by women who have the freedom to speak truth into my life during this season. Because of my busy schedule working full-time, I don’t have as many friendships as other seasons. But I do have deeper friendships during this season. One of the sweetest times since being back at work is the lunch breaks I’ve scheduled with friends. They have been life-giving to me. I’ve learned I’m not alone and to extend the benefit of the doubt; we are all walking through something.

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One reason I felt so alone is that I was focusing on my difficulties and believing no-one else was struggling. That’s not true, this is a fallen world filled with broken people, and we all need Jesus.

I’ve sensed God refreshing me this summer. He is reviving me with His Word. Jesus has brought reconciliation to strained relationships, which are stronger than before. He is renewing my relationships with my kids and leading me as I meet them in their seasons. He’s restoring our marriage as we navigate this busy season. I feel like I’ve been through a renovation this past year. I see “new” rising in many areas of my life. Newness I would’ve missed out on if I hadn’t walked a lonely road of being overwhelmed for a season.

1280x1280Jesus continues to meet me in my expectations, emotions, stubbornness, and weaknesses. And He will meet you too. I’m thankful for this crazy, challenging, blessed life and the undeserving grace of Jesus that gets me through.

Embrace Adventure

This summer was a whirlwind, and much too short in my opinion. It was filled with many restful still moments along with many crazy busy scheduled moments. We started off the month of June with a guy’s trip to Boston, my husband, teenage son and our youngest son. I’m delighted they let me tag along! It was a great time celebrating our oldest turning thirteen this year; while exploring a new city with our boys.

That week was an adventure; as Webster’s dictionary’s second definition clarifies, an exciting or remarkable experience.”

The next week we were home with just enough time for my oldest and me to get ready for the youth mission trip to the Bahamas. That same week our daughter turned six! I knew if we didn’t celebrate her that week, it wouldn’t happen. We had plans to head to a lake house the day after we returned home from the mission trip with my niece and nephew, who were visiting from out-of-state, and my in-laws. June was definitely a full month! But it was one of those months I knew everything packed into our calendar was necessary. It was a busy time we’d prayed over and prepared for. This helped me plan for and embark on the many adventures happening in June.

However, I wasn’t prepared for the adventure smack dab in the middle of my one-week at home. This adventure I’d definitely describe using the first definition for adventure in Webster’s Dictionary: an undertaking usually involving danger and unknown risks.”

It was Wednesday and it was packed. I had an MRI scheduled, I hurt my Achilles and needed it to be checked before we went away again. That afternoon we had a few close friends coming over to celebrate our sweet girl’s birthday and then we were heading to church. My son and I were going to meet up with our mission trip team and be prayed over before heading to the Bahamas.

As I laid in this machine, not able to move I had no idea things were going crazy outside of the mechanic tunnel. My husband got a call from our daughter’s camp that he needed to head there, immediately! She had a “moment,” and needed to be picked up. We hadn’t seen one of these “moments” in quite a while. Our sweet girl has EBD, Emotional Behavioral Disorder, and has certain challenges that can take an ordinary day and turn it into a lengthy adventure of searching for peace and calm. Reminding our daughter, she’s loved and accepted is essential during these times. Although we try to calm her down and remind her she’s loved, she struggles to accept it. She then shuts down, speaks negative words about herself, us, and those around her. These hostile, demanding, and unfortunate moments have been part of her journey since she was perfectly placed in our family. She was placed in our home when she was six months old and we were her foster family until getting the privilege of becoming her forever family.

download-3That day she got in trouble, nothing major, but then panicked and wouldn’t accept the miniscule consequence. Things escalated and she made a couple of extreme statements, she was looking for a response, and she found one! Our princess is a smart young lady and she knows how to push buttons, and that she did! She certainly struggles with the word “no.” I don’t know many people, adults or children who like being told, “no.” For our sweet girl this has always been an issue. I pray often that we will find the root of her reactions. We have seen so much growth in the past couple of years, but we also have a way to go.

As I’m processing this phone call and trying to take in what happened, my heart just broke. Our sweet girl was supposed to be headed home for her party. Do I cancel her birthday party? Do I have everyone over and hold it together? Maybe I should pull this minivan over and just cry, will that make this moment better? Isn’t it funny how other people’s “moments” can lead us right into our own “moments.”  Oh, and I had a captive upfront audience as my thirteen-year-old sat in the passenger seat taking in what was happening. Wondering if his sister was ok and watching how I’d handle this. This was an adventure I didn’t want! I didn’t want my daughter going through it and neither did I. BUT we don’t get to choose all of our adventures. Sometimes adventure appears and it changes our course, whether we are ready for it or not.

I didn’t cancel her party. My husband and I, with the help of her therapist, were able to help our princess process what she said. We tried our best to help her realize our words have consequences. This is something I still need to be reminded of an as an adult. The party went on, I might’ve not had as much time to prepare our house or decorate, but we celebrated her! It wasn’t my party but I definitely cried. And the mamas that were there with me loved me, encouraged me, and most importantly prayed for our amazing girl. Thankfully we even made it to church. It’s funny how in the midst of the crazy God Knows just what we need.

The next day my girl and I, hand in hand, both took the long walk into camp. She didn’t want to apologize, but she did. I knew she needed to go, because if she didn’t she wouldn’t ever want to return to the place she experienced such a bad day. Another part of this adventurous life is recovering after we blow it. Her coach welcomed her back and reassured us both she would have a good day. This wonderful woman isn’t just a cheer coach, she’s also a mom, and she was so encouraging to me that morning. Our girl made it through the last couple of days at camp and she performed her little heart out on the last day! She would’ve missed out on one of the best parts of her adventure that week if we let fear and shame keep her on the sidelines. She conquered her fear that week and recovered big time. We are so proud of her. IMG_7237

What a week….

I learned plenty to continue embracing on this adventure.

  1. Everyone needs a little extra help sometimes and that’s ok. We can still be adventurous while accepting help from others.
  2. Being adventurous doesn’t always mean it’s enjoyable.
  3. If we want to be brave and embrace adventure, we have to be willing to embrace all types of adventures.
  4. Not my plans, but God’s plans. (“My thoughts are nothing like your thoughts,” says the Lord.  “And my ways are far beyond anything you could imagine. For just as the heavens are higher than the earth, so my ways are higher than your ways
    and my thoughts higher than your thoughts. Isaiah 55:8-9)

There were more fun adventures and memories made during the rest of our summer. My son and I had an awesome time in the Bahamas together with our team. We served the community through Vacation Bible Schools, visiting a foster kids center, and work projects in the area. We also had a great time taking in the beauty and culture of the Bahamas.

We enjoyed some much-needed family time when we returned. The cousins had a fantastic time visiting with each other and their grandparents. We went tubing, roasted marshmallows, played board games, and enjoyed just hanging out!

July was much calmer, a time to exhale……

We spent July 4th with friends who are more like family. We tried to beat the heat by enjoying lots of pool time. Thankfully our sweet girl was able to get a water proof cast for her fractured ankle. Yes, even in the midst of our calm part of summer more unplanned adventures occurred. She hurt her ankle at a trampoline park and needed a cast. She handled it like a champ and both her brothers stepped-up and helped her out.

Now school is in full swing and new adventures have begun. I’m back to working full-time. Our oldest is in his last year of middle school and growing up much too fast.  Our middle is in third grade and has crossed over to the “older” side of elementary school. Our daughter is now at school with me and her brothers. This is the first year we’ve had all three children in the same place and I’m so excited! It’s been an adventurous adjustment to say the least, but we are making it. img_2947

I hope your summer was filled with fun adventures and time to be still. I pray this year we will all embrace the adventures that come our way with wisdom, hope, and joy.

 

 

Double for your Trouble

 

After a hiatus from writing this summer, I’m excited to be back! I love to write and have missed my somewhat therapeutic times sitting in front the computer pouring my heart out. I’ve found that writing my thoughts and prayers on paper help me slow down and stay focused. That being said, there have been quite a few moments I would’ve liked to write about, but nothing ever became a complete thought.  I don’t want to just write the “stuff” life throws without sharing the lesson, hope, or new thing the Lord taught me during the moment. But it’s good to be back!

We had a busy but awesome summer! We didn’t go on any grand vacations or have anything really exciting happen, but we enjoyed the little moments of fun that summer brought. The end of summer and beginning of this school year started some remarkable changes. The weekend after our boys started school was an especially exciting time. I turned forty – yes 40! Honestly, I’m still not sure how I feel about this. My thirties were filled with some of life’s biggest blessings, but also life’s most difficult moments, trials, and pain. In some ways I’m ready for the next decade.  And then it hits me that I have a four and a six-year-old and I’m forty! This wasn’t my timing, that’s for sure. And there are many things I’d like to be different.

img_8595I’d love my dad to be here and my mom not to feel so alone, even though we live together in our crazy house with my husband, three kids, and two outlandish dogs. I know she carries deep loneliness most days. I’d like to be able to call my brother and see him enjoying his niece and nephews. I’d love my sweet baby girl to not have the struggles of her emotional difficulties that make some days super hard for both of us. Most of all, I feel excited for what’s ahead.

This past year I started making time for myself to work out and get healthy. It’s something my husband and I have done together. I wanted to loose forty pounds by my birthday, I got close I lost thirty! “No, dear brothers and sisters, I have not achieved it, but I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us….” Philippians #:13-15a It’s a journey I’m still on. That journey may now include melting off the few pounds I put back on during our end of summer celebrations. Nonetheless, I’m thrilled at how much better I feel and excited to keep working toward my goals.

I had a wonderful birthday! My mom, husband, and close friends pulled off an awesome surprise party for my 40th! I am very grateful for the people God has placed in my life. The celebration didn’t just stop that Friday night. My husband found a vacation rental house for us to stay in for the weekend. It was beautiful, down the street from the beach, and on the intracoastal. Sunday afternoon we concluded our weekend with a fun family day.

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However, the highlight of that weekend, for me, came Saturday night. That’s the night my husband was ordained as a pastor at our church. What an amazing gift to celebrate the same weekend. To say we were overwhelmed with emotion would be an understatement. The outpouring of support and love we received after church that Saturday night was unbelievable. What an encouraging time to be with our church family and share what God has done and is doing in our lives.

Many people have asked my husband what has changed for him since becoming a pastor. He will say, “Not much, my job is the same. But for my wife a lot has changed.” My husband is my biggest fan and is just as excited for the new doors that have opened for me in ministry. And I completely understand – As much as I enjoyed my surprise Friday night (and it was fantastic), I couldn’t wait for Saturday to share my hubby’s special night. We don’t do life perfectly and can very quickly get on each other’s nerves, but overall we try to do marriage well! We are best friends and still really enjoy spending time together. But yes, our life has changed in some ways.  It’s become busier, a little crazier (still not sure how that’s possible), and also more rewarding. We love serving together at our church. We met serving in children’s ministry 17 years ago and still look forward to serving together today.

When our first opportunity came to do a couple’s time of sharing during church service, we both had a moment where we wanted to respond – “No thank you!” Our church was doing a marriage series and we were asked to share on “Intimacy in Marriage.” On a Wednesday night we sat in front of our church and shared more then I’d like to, and I’m an over-sharer. LOL. As we both moved past the title and began to talk about intimacy in marriage, we were reminded it’s so much more than physical intimacy. And yes, sex, is a healthy, beautiful, and important part of marriage. (YES I just said sex in a Christian blog post as a very new pastor’s wife. Lord – you are making me bold.) We shared with the congregation that through almost 16 years of marriage we can keep intimacy alive by staying friends, being honest, respecting each other, and having accountability in our marriage. I love what my husband said, “If intimacy is happening in your marriage, physical intimacy will naturally happen.” Having a good marriage does require work. It takes planning to spend meaningful time together, especially with three kids, two dogs, along with a busy work and ministry load, and let’s not forget the extra demands that pop up daily.  But having a healthy marriage is completely worth it. I’m blessed and excited to share life with my best friend, and serving in ministry together is such a bonus! Especially when you get to see God’s promises come to fruition. img_8625

Over five years ago, I met a pastor’s wife who walked with me through one of my darkest seasons. She would always encourage me and say, “I see double for you.” And “Double for your trouble, hold on.” I knew the verse in the Bible, Isaiah 6:7, but I didn’t know what that meant for me personally. Sitting on my living room couch one night this summer talking with my mom, I told her that I couldn’t believe Michael was going to be ordained, and that I’d have a chance to serve more in Women’s Ministry. She looked at me and said, “It’s your double.” Insert happy crying face, I started balling!

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The realization hit me – that what the pastor’s wife had spoken over me years ago during one of my darkest seasons, was becoming answered prayer and a fulfilled promise. Ladies, please don’t lose heart! Hold onto what the Lord has promised you even if you don’t know what that looks like, how it’s possible, or if it seems light years away. God is always faithful and keeps His promises.

Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful.” Hebrews 10:23

We are now a couple months into the school year. We should be saying hello to fall, although in my neck of the woods there isn’t much of a physical change of season. However, my love of all things pumpkin and putting up our fall décor reminds me of the change of season. Recently our time has been filled with teacher conferences, middle school football practices and games for our oldest, ballet for our sweet girl and AWANA for our younger two kiddos. Car pooling and hours spent in my mini-van are at an all-time high! I’ve also been blessed with the opportunity to serve over our Women’s ministry at church. I’m excited and humbled to get to do what I’m passionate about each week. I’m discovering even more the importance of crock-pot meals, using my calendar, and desperately trying to be better organized. I also recognize the importance of scheduling coffee dates with friends, one-on-one dates with my kids, and date nights with my hubby.

Today it actually feels a little fallish down south where I live. As we enter this new season –  whatever that looks like for you, whether lots of changes or more of the mundane –  I pray you desire to do it well. All the while knowing you don’t have to be perfect. I hope you’re sharing what God asks you to share, with whoever He tells you to share with. And I know that might take some courage and boldness for some of us. I pray you’re seeing God open doors for you, however little or big they might be. I pray for all of us that we won’t miss what God has for us in the valley and on the mountaintops. Happy Fall Y’all – Be Blessed!  images-1

Back Into the Swing of Things

The school year is in full swing at our house already. With our kids in pre-k 3, kindergarten, and 5th grade it’s a big year for each of them in different ways. Also in this season my husband has started a new role at church and I have begun this journey of blogging. On this adventure to write I have also been learning about blogging, widgets, and much more technological lingo that I haven’t quite figured out yet. I am not sure why I am surprised that my children have had trouble adjusting to change and the new school year, it took me months and a brief Jonah season before I basically threw my hands up and promised my Heavenly Father I will actually stop talking about blogging and just do it! We have all had our stretching moments in the first month of school. I have shed more tears than I would like to admit. Thankfully, that is ok! My creator loves me and knows every tear before it falls. Restore our fortunes, Lord, as streams renew the desert. Those who plant in tears will harvest with shouts of joy. They weep as they go to plant their seed, but they sing as they return with the harvest. Psalm 126:4-6 NLT

Our youngest child is our brave, beautiful, and strong willed princess. She is learning patience, listening skills and self-control. These are neither fun tasks, nor are they easy tasks, even for me as an adult. Thankfully, she is also learning to make friends, bible verses, imaginary play, and coloring; lots of coloring. She loves to help her teacher and help at home even if it is isn’t needed. The word “NO” is a difficult word for her to hear, it usually results in an immediate crying fit and pouting. She is usually pouting loudly and can’t even hear if that “NO,” means “not right now.” This can be challenging when you are in a classroom with other children and results in her having to visit the director more times then I’d like to admit. We have already been in for a conference this year; I believe it was the 2nd week of school. Lots of prayers for our sweet girl and what this year holds for her and us as her parents. The growth I have seen in her is amazing and fills me with hope, a hope that only my Heavenly Father can provide!

Our youngest son is smart, stubborn, sensitive, and a super-duper 5 year old who entered kindergarten this year. He embraces the term middle child like no one I have ever met. I did not even realize middle child syndrome existed until he was about 3 years old. I grew up with only one brother and I was eight years older so my poor brother grew up with 2 moms or at least more of a really cool aunt than just a big sister. Needless to say, middle child syndrome does exist and the struggle is real! My kindergartener is an over achiever. As a matter of fact, when someone in class learned the bible verse of the week before him, he refused to go to sleep that night until he could recite his verse without any mistakes. Like most kindergartners, he is learning to share and that can be difficult especially when he is constantly sharing his time with an older brother with lots of homework and a younger sister who only wants her way, (what girl doesn’t right)? In the midst of our crazy life, his sweetness is a blessing and he is such an excellent peace maker.

Our oldest son is our awesome 10 year old who can be shy and strong-willed. He always finds it necessary to add his 2 cents, whether good or bad. He is learning to manage his locker, organization, responsibility, and to be himself. He is trying desperately to figure out who he is while trying to fit in. His best friend from last year started at a new school and this has been tough on him. He has had a difficult time adjusting to studying and bringing papers home; then getting them turned in. He loves all sports and would rather be outside playing and/or competing in something, then doing homework. We are half way through the first quarter and he is really starting to grasp his independence and improve his study skills. I am delighted at the hard work he has been putting in to be diligent in school. I am not sure what grades he will have on his report card, but I already know this will be the one I am most proud of thus far.

This school year has started off more challenging then I would like. My amazing kiddos have had me on my knees and filling my prayer journal, nevertheless most importantly thanking God no matter how tough it is I get to be their mama. I would love to be able to say I haven’t lost my temper and that I’ve handled the many challenges with grace; but I haven’t. Thankfully my Heavenly Father has grace for me each day. Jesus tells us in 2 Corinthians 12:9…“My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” We will have our weak moments whether it’s this season dealing with a crazy school year, changes at work, finding a job,or family stresses, the list goes on and on; just fill in the blank __________. We must allow the grace that only comes from Jesus to fill our weak areas and bring peace.

I was blessed to recently attend the UNSHAKEN Women’s Conference at Calvary Chapel Ft. Lauderdale. What an amazing day! I cannot wait to share more about the conference at another time. They had staged rooms set up for viewing different life events. I definitely connected with more than one, as I looked in the window of a room that mirrored different stages of my life. It made for a powerful emotional and spiritual connection. The one that came to mind while writing this, (love how God does that), was the room labeled “BROKEN.” When you peered in that room, everything looked perfect. The implication of the room is the dweller may seem to have the “perfect” life on the outside. However she is broken on the inside and “keeping it all together”. I can definitely relate to that. Although my house is far from perfect; because there’s always a cup in the sink, even if I just did the dishes, and laundry waiting to be folded. But, boy do I try to “keep it all together!” Don’t we as women tend to put ourselves together and plaster a smile on our faces, all the while feeling completely broken inside? I know I do this, even with God. I can “look” like I have it all figured out, but God sees everything! It’s not our job to “look” like we have it all figured out, and it’s also not healthy to throw a pity party and lay on the floor and cry like my 3 year old. Although at times we all probably feel like doing both. Thankfully we have a Savior who takes our brokenness and brings it to the surface so He can ever so lovingly repair us. The start of this school year has been tough, and at times I’ve felt like a failure as a mom, wife, friend and daughter. Each time I sat a little longer at my Savior’s feet, my load was a little lighter and the cracked pieces could be mended. Even if I had just had a tantrum, thank you Jesus for loving me anyway. He loves each of you too, and wants to meet you right where you are!

“Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart” – Hebrews 12:2-3

Here is the picture of the BROKEN room from the UNSHAKEN Conference.

This quote was hanging on the wall above the bed in the room-

“EVERY BEAUTIFUL FAÇADE CONCEALS ROT AND RUIN THAT IS ALMOST SEEN.”

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BROKEN