Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Time is TOO Short

Some days you just don't feel like staying on track. You don't want to follow the rules. You don't want to do "what is best". Some people may not admit to that truth, but I do. I admit to wondering what it would be like to throw caution to the wind and be "wild". I wonder would it would be like to forget what people expect of you and what you expect of yourself and say the heck with it. I wonder what it would be like to have no consequences, no responsibilities, and no worries about doing what is right or what is best for all of those around you.

I may wonder and ponder, but not about to "wander" and look around. Here is the reality: you can't sit on the fence or have one foot in one door and one foot in another. There is no point in meandering along trying to bounce back and forth. God says you can't have it both ways. That is where my "wondering" ends. I can't dabble in sin, just a little here or a little there, and then expect to feel connected to Him. I can't successfully HEAR GOD if I have a heart full of anger, bitterness, and jealousy.

I've been thinking SO much about the extreme heartache so many people are going through. Since I'm a highly emotional person, tender hearted to the extreme, I easily find myself so burdened that I verge on the edge of depression just thinking about it. How can you not hurt for people and their situations? How can you heart not break to see what they are going through? All I know to do is to encourage these people to not give up, stand strong, and then petition God on their behalf. I admit, sometimes that doesn't seem like enough and I struggle with how to handle that. EVEN IF God provides them a miracle, the hurt they are going through is hard to watch. If you open your eyes and hearts, you can see it EVERY where you look.

IF nothing else, the situations that are around us should be telling us something VERY important. WE have our priorities wrong. WE aren't reaching out enough. WE are only going to "make it" in this day and time if we fully commit our lives to God. It's obvious that WE CAN NOT do it on our own. HEARTACHE is real. It's more than being stressed, tired, and overwhelmed. REAL hearts are being broken. Parents don't know which way to turn in raising their children AGAINST the grain anymore. Parents are facing issues with their children THEY never dreamed they would face. Job loss. Medical emergencies. Loss of EVERY kind. Financial stress like never before. Broken marriages and infidelity every direction you turn.

How do you find peace and comfort in such times? God is the simple answer. He gives hope when things seem hopeless. Even if the situation doesn't change or the miracle you seek doesn't happen, God is still in control and He can lift you through ANY dark situation.

Something that I think we as a society are forgetting is that how quickly time passes. Our children grow in a blink of an eye. Stability can be shaken in an instant with just one bad decision. There isn't time to wonder about living life on the wild side. There isn't time to dabble in sin and think that it doesn't have consequences. Time is fleeting and it can be over in a blink of an eye. You may think that JUST ONE more day and you will turn your life over to God. What's JUST one more day? One more day is something that isn't guaranteed.

Just this weekend a local mother, one that was a cheerleading coach and well thought of, died in a completely FREAK accident. Do you think she had ANY idea that her life was going to end while looking at pictures, sitting on football bleachers of a freshman football jamboree? She had no idea that her life was going to end on Saturday afternoon when a utility pole would come crashing down. She didn't leave her home that morning to go watch her son at the ballgame and know that she would die. Life ended in a TRUE blink of an eye. We are NOT guaranteed one more breathe. There may not be time to invite God to take control of your life. Even if you life another 20 years or more, wouldn't each of those days matter more and mean more to have God with you through every thing you face. Just a thought.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Menu Planning: Part 1

My basic meal plan is set for this 1st Semester of school. It will probably have to change after Christmas because I expect a change in schedule. At this point, I haven't settled on the ACTUAL meals but rather "themes". For now, that's about all I can pull off. I have too many other "details" to work with right now to get more specific. At least I do have a starter plan.


  • Monday: are fresh baked days (muffins, breads, etc.) a "hot" start to kick our new week off
  • Tuesday: HOT cereal day (cream of wheat--my kids BEG for it, oatmeal of different varieties/flavors, including baked)
  • Wednesday: Cold cereal, breakfast bars, pop tarts or something similar (figure by midweek, I need a "break")
  • Thursday: from the freezer day since we have commitments those days (breakfast burritos, breakfast cookies, fruit cups, "mc-muffins", etc.... whatever happens to have made it on the list during freezer cooking days and can be zapped and eaten while running out the door)
  • Friday: pancakes/waffles or "cheater" doughnuts (made from canned biscuits and my kids LOVE them)...today is a celebration of making it through another week!


  • Monday: from the freezer (various items cooked ahead: chicken nuggets, mini meat loaves, pizza pockets, etc....)
  • Tuesday: Sandwiches (we are gone during the normal lunch "prep" time so this has to be a simple day)
  • Wednesday: "fun" meal to get us over the mid week doldrums...something creative (usually from Family Fun.com)
  • Thursday: packed lunch for a picnic at the playground after PMO or Little Caesar's Hot-n-Ready ($5.46 with tax gets me a pizza and crazy bread since we purchased one of the fundraiser cards from a neighbor)
  • Friday: from the freezer


  • Monday: PASTA night w/ Salad (this is BOARD game night!)
  • Tuesday: CROCKPOT meal (Adriana doesn't get home until 8:30 so I have to have something that can be eaten at different times since this is our only non-family dinner night and she HAS to eat as soon as she walks in the door. This is also FAMILY devotional night.)
  • Wednesday: from the FREEZER since 607 starts back SOON (YEAH!!!!) and there just isn't time to fix anything and FCC is not offering meals this time around.
  • Thursday: from scratch/try out a new recipe or even a "new" cook (Adriana, Kevin) This is "friendly competition" night which means time to break out new batteries for the Wii remotes.
  • Friday: "easy" meal night or snack bar at Oasis depending on whether it is our turn to volunteer or just drop Adriana off. Leftovers are a big possibility.

Snacks: still working on my list and tweaking recipes for things we typically purchase prepackaged and want to cook at home. This is also going to be "fun" since many days will revolve around Bradlee's pre-K curriculum. Many days may coincide with his "book" or letter of the day. Most excited about that!

So for those of you who have asked, there is my plan. It's not as specific as you were probably expecting, but that is what is working best for now. I hope to get more specific, especially in regards to knowing exactly what I want to do for freezer meals....but my brain hasn't wrapped around all of that with all we have going on right now. Baby steps!

NOT Super-MOM!

One week and TWO days. That's all I have left before we dive back into our 9th year of homeschooling. Yikes! NEVER dreamed we would still be here 9 years later, but wouldn't go back and change our decision for ANYTHING. Do things differently...absolutely. NOT do it...NEVER!

I've allowed MEGA loads of pressure to be piled on my shoulders as the date draws near and the more and more I've tried to simplify life, I think I've ended up further from my goal. Create a schedule that gets EVERYTHING to fit in. ORGANIZE everything in sight so that there is less CHAOS to deal with. Pick and choose curriculum from limitless sources so that EACH need of EACH child is covered. Figure out a way to also keep a spotless home. Plan, purchase ingredients, and cook 3 meals plus snacks every day. Don't forget that each one of those meals/snacks has to be cleaned up after in order to maintain order in our home. Volunteer in Early Childhood on Sunday. Volunteer in Children's Ministry on Wednesday. Volunteer for PMO on one Thursday morning so I can have the 3 other as "me" time. Prep COUNTLESS projects for a Pre-K curriculum that is FULLY hands on (otherwise a certain student WILL DESTROY everything in sight if his hands and mind aren't fully engaged). Laundry. Taxi runs. Budget & pay the bills and do it on one income. Spend one on one time with God. Spend family time with God. Manage the outside activities of 3 kids going in 3 directions....which results in MORE taxi runs and MORE time away from home and less time actively in front of the "books". Spend time with neighbors that are lonely, aging, or going through VERY difficult times. Attend enrichment activities with the kids to spark learning more. Plan lessons & unit studies for 3 kids with WAY different capabilities. Laundry...have to mention that again because it never ends!!! Spend time with my husband. Exercise. Eat healthy & be active to lose weight and get my health back under control again. Spend time on my "other" passions. Read. Blog. AND THE LIST could continue to go on!

It's VERY overwhelming. It's very daunting and NO matter how much I simplify I find myself getting deeper in the pit of "not good" enough. I get caught up in the:
  • I should have already done this or that.
  • THIS shouldn't be an issue any longer.
  • I'm not as good at THIS as "she" is.
  • I have WAY more potential than I'm using.
  • There are better ways.

That list can go on as well. I have huge stars in my eyes and find myself falling off the pedestal I've placed myself on VERY quickly when things don't run as I THINK they should. KEY WORDS: I THINK.

Instead, I should be thinking of what GOD thinks. He didn't make me perfect. He didn't make me ALL capable. He doesn't care if I don't have a menu plan together even if I KNOW it would help me balance everything else better. He doesn't care how many manipulatives are thrown in every corner of the room. He doesn't care if I have one load or fifteen loads of laundry piled up. He doesn't care if I use curriculum A, B, or a combination of XYTRDFNM.

What he does care about is ME. He cares that I am spending time with Him first. He cares that I'm leaning on Him and accepting that I am not SUPERMOM. He cares if I'm letting HIM lead. He cares more about my heart and the heart that I share with my children. He doesn't want me stressed out and ineffective. He wants me humbled before Him, ASKING for direction. Why? BECAUSE that is WHEN I'm going to become effective. THAT is when I'm going to make the RIGHT kind of difference in my family and home. He just wants me to stop worrying so much about the details. Worrying about the details is what gets me in the most trouble because that is when I FALL short! He doesn't want me to worry about measuring up to SOMEONE else's standards (including MY OWN!). He doesn't want me to set myself up for failure. He doesn't want me stuck on the merry-go-round of trying to be supermom or people pleasing. He just WANTS ME. Surely, I can LEARN to just do THAT. Once I get THAT down-pat, EVERYTHING else is going to fall into place.

Perhaps I need to focus on the "He" portion of Psalm 119. (Psalm 119 is a Hebrew acrostic poem with 22 stanzas each representing each successive letter of the Hebrew alphabet....even though I personally don't know the alphabet!)

Teach me your decrees, O Lord;

I will keep them to the end.

Give me understanding and I will obey your instructions;

I will put them into practice with all my heart.

Make me walk along the path of your commands,

for that is where my happiness is found.

Give me an eagerness for you laws rather than a love of money!

Turn my eyes from worthless things, and give me life through your word.

Reassure me of your promise, made to those who fear you.

Help me abandon my shameful ways;

for your regulations are good.

I long to obey your commandments!

Renew my life with your goodness.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Holding Hands

I was awake most of the night thinking of this post. I didn't get up and write it because I am trying to avoid late nights on the computer since I tend to "check" or do JUST ONE thing and it snowballs until an hour or two have gone by unnoticed! I would probably have had better sleep, if I just had got up and wrote what I was thinking and God was revealing. I thought I would do it first thing this morning before everyone got up. That didn't happen either since Mr. Middle Child woke up sick at 4:30 this morning and every time he made a dash to the bathroom the dog would start barking insanely as if the biggest, scariest, ugliest prowler was coming in a back window. Repeat that cycle for about 3 hours. Yes, it was a fun morning in the Goad abode! Hopefully the worst is over, but of course you always have to be prepared for it to NOT be an isolated event.

I am finally in the book of Psalm in the 90 Day Bible Challenge. I've actually reached the half way point of days and am ahead by about a week. I'm so excited to have STUCK with a "challenge". I've failed at so many others, so it's nice to feel a victory. The greater victory has been the amazing renewed passion for God's word. I think my eyes and heart have been open more this time than EVER before and instead of it just being "words", it has reached me on a different level. It also REALLY helps that I love the version I've been reading from: New Living Translation. I still use my NIV or KJV in "deeper" study, but this challenge is about reading...not studying. Your whole purpose is to read the Bible---cover to cover---in order, in 90 days (88 days with 2 catch up days built in.) I admit, reading the Old Testament is not always pleasant and I was excited to finally be in Psalm.

As I read last night, a verse felt like it LITERALLY jumped off the page. Psalms contains MANY of my favorite verses, but THIS one isn't one that I had ever really paid attention to. Maybe it is because of the new version, or maybe I just had "missed" it before. It just grabbed me and won't let go. As the evening went on and then when I went to bed, the verse wouldn't go away and that is when God start revealing "life application" and really reached me on a deeper level.

"The Lord directs the steps of the godly. He delights in EVERY detail of their lives. Though they stumble, they will not fall, for the Lord holds them by the hand." Psalm 37: 23-24

Initially I found great comfort in the verse to know that God cares about every aspect of my life. It seems that right now, in the place I am right now in life, I need MOST help with the details. Most amount of stress comes from DETAILS....how to pay this bill, how to solve this problem, how to balance these roles, how to set up our day to accomplish all the needs, which curriculum to choose, which topics to cover first, what life skills need to be taught. THOSE kind of details are swirling around and leaving me dizzy. Then there are the details of illness and heartache all around and how to best support those people involved. What matters is this: GOD is in the details. HE already knows EACH and EVERY situation I'm facing and He will direct my steps when I allow Him to. He will direct me in the things I can control and even more importantly He can direct me in the things I can NOT control. He can control my response and my emotions. I can find hope in Him when hope seems lost otherwise. As the verse says, I'm going to stumble and I stumble more than I walk a straight line. The amazing thing is that He won't let me fall completely flat on my face. The only time that happens is when I'm not holding His hand. I fall flat on my face when I'm out of His will or when I try to do things in my own power. If I'm going to be walking on my own, I better be wearing one of the kid's bicycle helmets because it is going to be a guaranteed crash and burn kind of situation.

As much as I love those comforting thoughts about him TRULY caring about ME, the real amazing part that struck a cord deep in my heart was the "hand holding" part. THAT is the part that had me up ALL night with the gears in my hand spinning WAY too fast!

In my house there are two people that you will find holding my hand on a constant basis, and many times both at the same time. The other two are in the stage of being beyond hand holding by family members and not to the point of hand holding in relationships (thank goodness!!). I began thinking of holding hands with Bradlee and Kevin and how the meanings are so different and how God also fulfills those same roles.

When I'm holding Bradlee's hand, it means:
  • I'm keeping you safe. I'm not letting you get struck by a car. I'm protecting you.
  • I'm helping you. Though you are a BIG kid, sometimes you still are unsteady in situations and I'm giving you just a tad bit of help.
  • I love you. I want to be sharing in these moments with you.
  • I'm directing you. Sometimes you might want to go somewhere or touch something that you don't need to. Some things are just too tempting to leave you alone with, so I'm guiding you and keeping you from those temptations.
  • Redirection. You've gone the wrong way, and now I'm going to lead you back the right direction. This hand holding is generally not so gentle! :)
  • I think you are just so stinking cute and lovable and I don't want to see these days end!

When I'm holding Kevin's hand, it means:

  • I love you. You are the only one for me and I want to be physically connected to you.
  • I'm in agreement with you. We are in this together.
  • I just need to touch you, to feel you near me. I need to know that we aren't going in opposite directions.
  • I support you. Touch exhibits love and shows caring.
  • I'm going to physically help you. Sometimes I may need help climbing that steep hill or coming down that BIG step.
  • Comfort. Connection. Intimacy. Support. Agreement. I like you. I love you. We are best friends. ALL of those things.

As that verse keep going through my head and I kept coming back to the part about Him holding my hand, I couldn't help but get excited. Looking at all of the things that holding hands means, how could I not. HE is holding my hand and it's more than just in guidance and direction. He loves me, supports me, is physically helping me, comforting me, directing me, bringing me back on the right path when I've gone the wrong way, etc... and He simply just wants to be with me. Does that not make you feel amazing? GOD of the universe wants to BE WITH YOU simply because HE loves you. HE wants to be holding your hand! WOW!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Broken & Shattered

Some days you need to just know that you are doing SOMETHING...ANYTHING right. You just need confirmation that all the twisting, painful growing pains are accomplishing SOMETHING! I tend to get REALLY caught up in the opinions of other people and most especially my own self-doubt or self-incrimination. I can very easily get caught up in being my own worst enemy. So, every once in awhile, it's good to get a glimpse of just a slight bit of the change going on in yourself. THE changes that matter and are going to continue to grow as time goes on.

Unfortunately, getting that glimpse today came at a cost. It came from seeing shattered remains of some of my most loved items.

We attended a picnic today at an apple orchard less than 5 minutes away with some great families of young children in our church. The weather was PERFECT and it's one of our favorite places. When Bradlee woke up, the first thing out of his mouth was "Is it time? Can I go get my lunch box out of the fridge?" Excitement was in the air as we began to enjoy a tiny glimpse of our FAVORITE season. I love FALL!!!!! (Just don't remind me it ushers in the MISERABLE Illinois winter when for months you see nothing but gray skies and the wind cuts like a knife.)

While I was getting ready to go, I heard a certain little 4 YO squealing at the top of his lungs. He was chasing the big kids and the dog through the living room. He quickly retreated to the safety of our bedroom and SLAMMED the door with EVERY ounce of his strength. That slam shook the adjoining wall so hard that an entire shelf of my most loved "treasures" came crashing down. Shattered. Broken. Irreplaceable. Beyond Repair.

It's JUST things. THINGS are NOT people. There are BIGGER issues to worry about and "stuff" really doesn't compare. However, it hurt. It hurt because of the attachment I have placed on those items. You see, when holidays come around it takes EVERYTHING we have and more to provide appropriate gifts for our children. Gifts to Kevin and I from the kids or to each other are FEW and FAR between. The other holidays and special days fall in the middle of other financially binding times, so it has become normal to only spend a few dollars on each other. When you can generally only spend about $25, finding the PERFECT gift becomes a journey. Kevin has become great about finding things that he KNOWS I will love. They generally have a meaningful Bible verse or reminder about our relationship, family or motherhood on them. Many times I pause to see those items and it gets me through another rough day or helps me to refocus on what is important.

THAT is what was on the shelf that now was on the ground in hundreds of pieces. A physical reminder of WHY we are on the path that we are. A reminder of where we've been, where we are going and what God might just possibly have in store for us. It was also a focal point for me that I found symbolic. THOSE items were important. Those items meant the world to me. Anyone that really knows me knows that little things SPEAK volumes to me and sentimental gifts are what I "need". I'm never going to be one that can go out and see something beautiful in a store and just walk up and buy without thinking about if it fits into the budget. Even the smallest of purchases have to be planned for. I accept that as part of choosing to be at home with our family. IT IS WORTH IT!

The revelation that showed me how I had grown and changed in recent months came from my reaction. I didn't yell. I didn't breakdown. I didn't sit in the floor and cry (even though I REALLY wanted to!). I calmly picked up the large broken pieces, vacuumed up the tiny ones and then gave me child a BIG hug. The hug that said:
  • it's OK, accidents happen....even if you may not have been on your best behavior.
  • you may have broken almost every last one of my "treasures " in the last 2 years (while the older 2 have only broken 1 or 2 in their entire lives), but you are MUCH bigger of a treasure to me.
  • my heart is broken right now, but I see that yours is probably even more so and I'm going to step outside of myself and comfort you

I know that life is changing for me because of that instant reaction. God IS giving me a calmer spirit in the face of heartbreak and adversity. I still mess up more than I get right most days, but I know that I'm heading in the right direction.

I also thought about those broken pieces and how I wonder how God feels when He sees me shatter something. What about when I know what is right, but do something different? Lose my temper? Break someones spirit? Don't fulfill my potential? Hold onto unforgiveness or bitterness? Get caught up in jealousy? Gossip? Bad attitude? Ungratefulness? That list could continue on indefinitely. When He looks down at me and my shattered pieces, I think He "hugs" me with the same forgiveness and comfort that I gave Bradlee. THAT is grace. THAT is forgiveness. THAT is TRUE love. THAT is CHRIST! I'm so very thankful that He sees beyond my wrong actions or inactions and LOVES anyway! Nothing is more beautiful than that. THAT doesn't have to sit on a shelf and be treasured....that LIVES within each of us that call Christ our Savior. THAT will never be broken and shattered in a million pieces.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Where is that SNOOZE button?

As much as I wish it were different or no matter how much I try, I just can't make the switch to being a morning person. Despite getting up at 6:30 for over a month now, I still just can NOT say I'm awake and functioning. On the flip side, talk with me at midnight and you'll find me perky and bouncy. It's the perfect time for my brain cells----I can make decisions much easier and my thoughts seem to be actually "connected" instead of disjointed like most of the rest of the day. How I wish I woke up "bright eyed and bushy tailed"! I could accomplish SO much more in a normal day if that was the case.

Now, on the opposite end of the spectrum IS my bright eyed bushy tailed 4 year old that doesn't gracefully or slowly wake up. He doesn't greet the morning slowly. He instead flutters those eyes open once, sees the sun and SPRINGS to life. No such thing as just "five more minutes" or hitting a snooze button with him. When his eyes open, his ENTIRE being is already in FULL speed and he doesn't slow down once.

Unfortunately, you put these two very differently wired brains together and a clash is going to happen. A typical morning immediately starts with demands. "I want to watch a show." "I want my turn on the computer; I want to play on PBS kids." "I want a drink." "I'm hungry." "Can I go out now?" All the while these demands are being thrown at me and my brain hasn't yet acclimated to waking up, I'm tossing around flailing trying to smack the snooze button. However, there is NO snooze button to be found. How I just wish the demands would start at a slower pace, you know after at least 10 brain cells have come together and I can at the very least string two thoughts together. Nope....hasn't happened yet.

That scenario this morning brought about a different perspective. God reached out and found a way to speak to me in His typical fashion...unusual places, unusual ways.

I realized that as much as I wish my morning could be delayed by hitting snooze on Bradlee at LEAST one time, God probably feels that way about me. I come to Him placing demands a million miles a minute. I need this, can you do this, PLEASE, HELP, HEAL, PROVIDE, RESCUE, RESTORE.....and the list goes on. Granted, most of the prayers are REAL needs for REAL people in REAL conflict. He LOVES to hear my petitions and cares about each and every one of my concerns. However, I wonder how much more effective my prayer life would be if I just slowed down and paused long enough to just worship Him and THOROUGHLY thank Him. After all, as I've blogged about before....God created us to WORSHIP Him, not to make demands of Him. That message has made it through my foggy brain again, so maybe I didn't "get it" enough the first time. So, TRACYE, slow down.....worship GOD first, completely thank Him for what he is doing in your life and the lives of others. It's OK to ask Him for everything else, but REMEMBER what the priority is and WHAT your purpose is. Worship. Gratitude. Yes, I think I'm beginning to see it more clearly, but I imagine there will be many more chances for Him to remind me of that again and again!

To go along with the theme of "slowing" down, I'm starting a new challenge. I'm going to choose one day a week (maybe two) and sometime during that day, I'm going to make sure I spend time encouraging someone else. I'm going back to the "old" way....the HANDWRITTEN note by snail mail! It was partially inspired by our family viewing of Letters to God. It also came from the incredible boost I feel when someone sends me an email out of the blue or a totally unexpected card comes in the mail. I'm a sucker for handwritten words. It's a lost art. So my challenge is in 4 parts (and I'm sure it will snowball and grow as time goes along!). A card/note handwritten from the heart to 4 people. Hopefully, it will result in 4 smiles.

  1. Someone that inspired, encouraged or made my life better growing up----a thank you for the blessing they were in my life.
  2. Someone that inspires me now, encourages me or drives me to be a better person now---a thank you for the blessing that they are NOW.
  3. Someone that is going through a difficult time---encouragement.
  4. Someone that is in the same place in life as I am and that I know could use an extra boost to get them through. (stay at home Moms and homeschooling Moms top that list!)

I'm excited just thinking about it. Just knowing HOW much a kind word has COMPLETELY changed the outcome of my days, I think it will be a blessing to PURPOSELY share that with others. Who knows, before long...maybe my list of 4 will grow to 10 times that!

Monday, August 23, 2010

JUST three things?

I recently saw a variation of the following question and it made me stop and think....REALLY think!

What three things are the most important lessons you would like your children to learn? If you could only be assured that three things would always stick with them, what would you choose?

For those of you that really know me, you know just choosing three things is difficult for me. Can't tell you how many times I've been told to just turn my brain off or to stop thinking so deeply! I usually have NOVELS of thoughts, wishes, desires, what-ifs, ideas, etc.. floating around in my head! So to choose JUST three wasn't an easy task, but I did come up with mine.

1) Faith in God

I would choose to make sure that my kids have a deep rooted PERSONAL faith in God. It's not about religion, it's about relationship. It's not about ATTENDING church, it's about BEING the church. It's not about just doing what your parents do, it's about knowing why THEY believe it. It's not about people-pleasing, it's about God-pleasing. My thoughts are that if THEY have their own deep rooted faith in God, every other single thing will fall into place. Going through the motions isn't good enough. I want their faith so deep and strong that they can not just survive in the real world, but that they can flourish in any situation. Just as mentioned at church yesterday, I want them to be salt and light. Adding salt to a dish doesn't diminish the flavor of the salt, the rest of the dish takes on the flavor of the salt. Darkness doesn't engulf light, light overtakes darkness. If they are deep rooted in their OWN PERSONAL faith and have been given every chance to allow that to grow as a child, they are prepared to be salt and light. With deep rooted faith, the Holy Spirit can and WILL guide them through every other aspect of their lives. WHEN, NOT if, they mess up they will know that they are covered in grace and forgiveness and can begin again. Their faith can carry them through EVERY single obstacle and move every single mountain they will face. Granted, it will NEVER be an easy path and every time they turn around they will be faced with situations that break their hearts. With a deep rooted faith, they will have the HOPE that can only be experienced with God's arms to lean on.

2) A LOVE for learning!!

It isn't about knowing everything or forcing them to memorize facts. It isn't about "memorizing" the answers to pass the test. I absolutely want my children to be above average academically and to have the chance to succeed at anything they choose, but it doesn't come from the knowledge they possess. It comes from the LOVE of learning. I want them to LOVE the feeling that comes from learning something that seemed impossible months before. If they have a LOVE of learning, there isn't ANY single thing that they can't learn. A LOVE for learning covers every single aspect that might be lacking. I can not cover EVERY single base with my kids (nor can ANY teacher!) and I can't send them out in the world with every fact lodged inside their brains. What I can make sure is that when they enter the "real" world they have a passion to always learn and expand their knowledge base. If they don't know something, I can make sure they know how to FIND the information and have a desire to do so. If those passions and abilities are in place, they will find themselves unstoppable!

3) A Healthy View of Marriage

This one really touches my heart deeply. Happy, healthy marriages are becoming hard to find with each passing day. Our kids are growing up in a world that the sacred, covenant vows of marriage seem to be "of the past". One of my goals as a parent, is to make sure that my kids are part of the solution. When I married Kevin, we said we were going to be the beginning of the end of the cycle. We wanted the kids that we would be blessed to be given to have a different start at life. We didn't want them to grow up with the baggage that comes with being a child of divorce. I've been there and Kevin's adult sons are part of those statistics, along with the majority of those around us. How amazingly blessed would our next generation of families be if they have been raised in a home with TWO loving parents that have provided incredible stability and the assurance that LOVE does conquer all! I can not change my past and as much as Kevin wishes he had been able to provide a different life for his sons, he can't go back and change it. What we can do and seek to do EVERYDAY is to make sure that the cycle ends with us. When the cycle ends with us, our children have a different foundation and will carry that ahead into future generations.

It is about MUCH MUCH MUCH more than just staying married. Look around and that is easy to see. How many couples do you see that are strangers in their own homes or may be married but are so disrespectful and hurt that their homes are no longer a safe, welcome haven for their children? Being "married" is MUCH more than a piece of paper or a ring on your finger.

For our kids, we wanted them to see that problems arise and may arise often, but LOVE wins out. You may have to forgive when forgiveness is the last thing you want to offer. You may have to give up some of your own dreams and desires for the OTHER person. You may have to do things out of your comfort zone to make the other person happy. What they also will see is that the OTHER person does the same thing. Marriage is NEVER about ME, it's about US! When you get caught in the ME trap, you destroy your marriage. Been there....done that! It's about give and take, not about take and give a little when you have extra time.

We also vowed to not hide affection from our kids. They NEED to see us appropriately touching, kissing, being playful and doing sweet things for each other! They NEED to see that outward sign of affection. How else will they know how to treat their future spouse? How else will they know what to seek in a spouse? How else will Adriana know how she should expect to be treated? On the flip side, it KEEPS a marriage alive! They need to see that Kevin and I think the world of each other and we are not shy about showing it. They may make gagging noises or say, "oh no, not again...", but if you see them out of the corner of your eye...you can see them smiling and feel the comfort they have.

How do I know this for a fact? Because we've been on the other of the end of the spectrum. We've been the "norm".....the strangers in the same home. We've been the ones so full of bitterness, regret, disappointment that communication was impossible or even being in the same room was too painful. We've been the ones that have walked out doors without the intention of coming back. We've been the ones to sit down and tell the kids that we just couldn't do it anymore. Yes, that's BEEN us. Unfortunately. Regrettably. Painfully.

I can't tell you the magic key we used to change it. I can tell you that most people would find that "truth" shocking. We are so incredibly in love and making our marriage thrive to the point that people criticize us or call us fake. NOPE! I think when you've been to the bottom and find yourself come out of that pit that you can't help but show the world. I can honestly say I love Kevin more than I could have ever dreamed of and that I love him much more than the day I married him. Just like most brides, you think you have the most perfect relationship and that everything is going to be smooth sailing. YOU aren't like all the others that have failed or are miserable. Yes, I thought that too! The key is to find the way to overcome REAL world when it hits. Fortunately, we have found our path and are enjoying the benefits of sticking with it. WE are enjoying the new discoveries of just how AMAZING real love founded in Christ can be. We are basking in the joy of "I am my beloved and he is mine". So pardon our sappiness....our open support of each other. Close your eyes if you don't want to see love notes or encouragement sprinkled all over our home. Block us on facebook or "hide" us if you don't want to see our playful banter. WE aren't changing or backtracking. Why? Because we've been there and NEVER want a glimpse of that darkness again. Why else? Because our children deserve it. They've seen the dark and they most certainly deserve to see what it feels like to be in a home so filled with love that it HAS to spill out! They need to see it, feel it AND remember it! Some day (and for a certain daughter....at least 25 more years !!! ) they will be faced with their own marriage battles and they can look back and remember that YES you can stick with things and NOT JUST overcome, but you can make it into something amazingly beautiful!

On a side note: we hope that it also overflows into their personal relationships with Christ. We know without a doubt that without our faith in God, we would have never overcome. We hope that they see that when they face VERY difficult obstacles or hard times that no matter how it feels at the time, God IS with them and HE WILL lead them down the right paths. Easy...not always. BUT if they stick with Him, in the end it will all work out!

Friday, August 20, 2010

I Can't!!

"There are just some things I can not do. That's a fact & I'm OK with that!" Who would have thought such GREAT wisdom would have been heard in a young child's cartoon? Even better yet, who would have thought that my brain would have picked it up and processed it at 7:00 in the morning! Just plain miraculous! OK---so the show (Martha Speaks) is an animated cartoon with a talking dog. Realistic? Obviously not! Speaking the truth? Absolutely.

I have been busy this morning actually getting some things accomplished. Not the energizer bunny by any means, but finally moving in a positive direction and seeing things come together. I know my list is overwhelming at the moment, but just yesterday's boost from God has opened up the door to allow me to be not so "paralyzed" with inaction because I didn't know which direction to go. As I've buzzed around, that cartoon statement has been on a repeat loop in my head and I can't get it to go away.

First off, there are things I CAN NOT do. I don't think I could write out an exhaustive list because there are more things I can't do than I can do. Unfortunately, I get wrapped up in the "not" as some kind of failure or that there is something lacking in me. I realized just how much I needed to carry the rest of the statement over into my own life. "That's a fact and I'm OK with that!" Wow! Let's try it....I, Tracye Goad, can NOT do (fill in the blank) and I'm OK with that. I think that just provided freedom like never before.

It doesn't mean I'm not going to try, but it does mean that I should be content with MY "cant's". Sure there are learning opportunities EVERY direction I turn and I will never stop learning, but there are things I can NOT do. On the silly side, I can NOT ride a roller coaster (because I WILL hurl and I will literally thinking I'm going to die!). I can NOT play team sports (unless it's part of the laugh Olympics). I can NOT go two days in a row without tripping over my own two feet or spilling something. Facts.

What about taking it up a few notches and going deeper? I can NOT be all things to ALL people. I can NOT control other people's actions. I can NOT protect my kids, my husband, myself or my loved ones from EVERY hurt. I can NOT make every decision for my children. I can NOT make time speed up, slow down, rewind, or fast forward. I can NOT balance all of my roles without help. I can NOT meet every need. I can NOT make it so my husband fulfills EACH and EVERY one of my needs (or friend, parent, etc....) I can NOT make every past hurt, disappointment, or failure go away. Oh, goodness...that list could go on forever. Plain and simple, I CAN NOT....that's a fact and I'm OK with that. Or at the very least, I'm learning to be OK with that. Work in process.

Going even deeper with that thought process brings me to the REAL freedom in believing that it is OK to be content with the "can not's". I do NOT have to be ALL of those things and I do NOT have to be able to do everything. Gasp.....did you just hear that huge weight being lifted? Coming from a perfectionist with my driven personality, that's a huge "AHA" moment. I don't have to be ALL of those things because I was NOT MEANT to be!!!! DID you hear that? I am EXACTLY who God created me to be, with the skills and personality he gave me. I always have room for growth and will constantly be seeking to move ahead, but guess what.....HE is going to love me regardless of how long that process takes or if I EVER reach my goals or not.

I don't have to look at other supermom's and feel lacking. Their grass isn't always greener (or as someone likes to tell me....if it does look greener it's because it's sitting over a septic system!). I don't have to do things the way someone else does them for it to be "right". If I'm seeking God and keeping my eyes focused on Him, nothing else is going to matter. He will either GIVE me the skills I need, provide someone that CAN, or show me that it didn't matter in the first place. I constantly think of the statement that "He doesn't call the equipped, HE EQUIPS the called!" How true is that. So where I can't.....HE will. Sometimes, He turns those "can not's" into "can" and other times He provides a different way. The other things, things that I have ZERO control over, HE does control.

So for now, as I look at the overwhelming tasks in front of me, I'm going to say I CAN'T. It's not a giving up attitude, because we know that a defeated attitude gets you NOWHERE. It's more about having freedom in knowing that when I can't, HE CAN! He can move the mountains, provide the need, heal the hurt, make a way when there doesn't see any way possible. HE can! I can't!!!! "There are just some things I can not do. That's a fact and I'm OK with that!"

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Word Of God Speak

Word of God Speak

It never ceases to amaze me just how much a good Christian contemporary song can completely change the direction my day is heading. Today was one of those days I just couldn't handle all of "reality" and teetered on the edge of completely losing my sanity. You know those days...the ones that chocolate can't even touch! My frame of mind made me lose my focus MANY times and once again I found myself wanting to just throw in the towel and quit. My heart is SO heavy over so many issues and today was the day that I felt like I just couldn't hold it together any longer.

I'm stuck in the middle. It's like the joke that we've been laughing at as a family the past several days. I get picked on (in fun....not hurtful!) for what is left of my southern accent when I'm here in Illinois. However, I REALLY get picked on for LOSING my southern accent when I go home to middle TN. Trust me: I may sound southern to you C-U friends, but BOY oh BOY I'm nothing like a true southern girl anymore. OH my, you should have heard Bradlee cackling trying to figure out why everyone sounded so different. Granted, I do have phrases that are southern and if I get emotional about something LOTS more southern pops out. I'm stuck in the middle and not settled....to some I'm a southern gal and to others I've lost my southern roots. No one finds me "normal" or like them when it comes to that accent.

That is the best place to describe where I am in REAL life right now. Stuck in the middle. Growing in God, but not getting to the finish line fast enough but not about to backtrack. Stuck in the middle of my marriage. I see the potential that we have to be one of those relationships that people look at and dream of having, but not there yet. However, we are millions of miles from where we were and the growth we've experienced is amazing. Stuck in the middle of being the mom that I need to be, versus the mom I am ashamed that I've been at times. Stuck in the middle of SO many roles....looking ahead of what I know my potential is and looking back to see how far I've come. Then there are those heartbreaking situations that I literally AM stuck in the middle of. Those that I would give ANYTHING to not be experiencing or watching those I love experience. Watching my daughter go through some of the same things is hard as well. She's stuck in the middle of knowing who she wants to be, but being held back by those around her. Stuck in the middle is not a fun place to be.

I'm guilty of not having a patient personality. Granted some people DO believe I am very patient in action, but they don't see the turmoil I have inside of me for not moving fast enough. A sweet friend constantly reminds me that this journey is not about a sprint and that she believes that God has me exactly where he needs and wants me. I agree, but on the flip side I'm still in a hurry. It's always about being pressed for time. Time is fleeting and I'm not moving along quickly enough to satisfy my own perfectionist needs.

Back to the point of music changing everything. Today was a break down day and I told Kevin that I didn't think I could handle many more of these kinds of days. We had amazing time on our weekend trip, but we didn't "accomplish" as much as I had hoped during that time. Our time was absolutely priceless and I wouldn't trade it for the world, but I did hope that we would have had more time to make more decisions and have even deeper prayer and conversation time. A weekend was just not long enough when you've waited 13 years for it! Because I was up all night (thanks to a mega sunburn and too much on my mind), I never was able to keep my focus today on the tasks that I needed to accomplish and that made me feel even more out of sorts. I finally gave in and took a LONG nap and I did wake up with a much clearer head and less emotional, but I still didn't feel settled. A song changed everything.

Before I had gone to sleep, I tried to pray and ask for God to lift this unsettled feeling and near panic attack mentality that I was in. I couldn't stay focused long enough to even get the words formed, but I think He heard the cry of my heart. The first thing I heard when I got up and going was the song "Word of God Speak". And his WORD did speak to me through that song. It broke my walls and I found myself just feeling everything lift away. Situations aren't changed. Heartache isn't over. Problems aren't all solved. However, my HEART is changed and my walls are back down. Over and over, I've been telling Kevin that I just need to find a way to calm everything around me and just let God speak to me. That is incredibly hard to do when you are constantly surrounded by the chaos of three kids always in need of something. Silence in our house is golden! Thankfully the song reminded me that God is right here with me and when I can't even fully word a prayer, he knows my heart and knows each and every thought I have. When I'm craving the quiet and solitude that can only be found in Him, he is there. He can still speak peace to my heart and nudge me in the right direction. I'm just going to do everything in my power to make sure that I feed my soul with those positive things that keep me heading in the right direction. My time to just sit at HIS feet may be limited right now, but if my heart is completely open and seeking, I know that he can use those short times to REALLY make a difference.

So many things lately have truly left me at a loss for words and as the song says, that's OK. That is actually a good place to be because that is when I'm most likely to hear from God. Seeking to calm the world around me so I can just really rest in his holiness. THAT is the most comforting, blissful feeling in this world. Because beyond the noise, THAT is where I am going to hear from him. Oh how I want to have my eyes open to Him and for his grace to fall down like rain and completely soak me....just to be drenched in Him....what an image.

See the video above to listen to the song. (You will have to pause the music on the left to be able to hear it.) Or go directly to the link here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=trUI1wtIIFk&feature=player_embedded

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Inspirational Findings

This is just a random post to write down some of the things I've been reading in recent days. Things that other moms have written that I have found so inspiring. I want to be able to look back and see some of them in one place when days are "hard" and I need inspiration.

"Excuses or change: Which are you going to make today?" List all of your excuses of why you can't do something or the things that are holding you back. (The author wrote out her own personal list or things she had heard others say, ending in I can't). "It's time to stop with the self-limiting profiling. Mother Teresa. Hellen Keller. Corrie Ten Boom. Elizabeth Eliot. They had great excuses. AND THEY NEVER USED THEM. We can make excuses or we can make change. {Tracye Goad} which are you working on?

"God created the days, minutes, hours and thus gave us work to do in that time. SO if this is true then He has given us enough hours in the day to accomplish what He wants us to do. It's when we try to do what all WE want or what others want us to do that we get stressed out." Hello, Tracye....did you hear that? What things do I need to let go that are NOT God-led...that are led by my own desires or because I couldn't say no to someone? Hmmmm.......

"Homeschooling: Mission Impossible? Have you been DOUBTING your qualifications as a teacher as the new year of school approaches? Feeling OVERWHELMED with the thought of picking curriculum, organizing multi-level teaching, planning schedules, all while caring for your (preschooler)? DON'T carry the burden alone, GOD WILL HELP you if you simply pray for and ask for his leading. He'll show you where to get the ideas, resources and supplies you need to complete the task HE has called you to." "God is able to make every grace overflow to you, so that in every way, always having everything you need, you may excel in every good work." 2 Cor 9:8

Perhaps the best one I read yesterday was the one that described the difference between a perfect mom and a balanced mom.

  • The world calls us to perfect mothers, but I believe God calls us to be balanced mothers.
  • A "perfect" mother puts appearance before relationship. A "balanced" mother sacrifices appearance for relationship.
  • A "perfect" mother seeks approval from others. A "balanced" mother seeks approval from God.
  • A "perfect" mother find reward in perceived success. A "balanced" mother's reward is a peaceful heart, family, and home.
  • A "perfect" mother perpetuates the lies and spreads the disillusionment. A "balanced" mother breaks the lie and spreads hope, truth, and inspiration.

The challenge for us today is to focus on being balanced rather than perfect. That every moment that we'd love our children more than our clean house or the approving look of a stranger. That our confidence, strength, hope, and identity would be found in God and the trust He's put in us by giving us His perfect little gifts that look to us and call us "Mommy".

Here's the problem. I can't be a balanced mom. Neither can you. We can't do it alone. As humans we crave the approval of others. Until we migrate our identity from this world to the arms of God, we will strive to be perfect mothers. That's why I'm so passionate about spending time praying and reading the Bible every morning. Before the voices of others crowd out His, we need to hear from Him that He has given us everything we need to love well. We need to be reminded that we are precious, beautiful, powerful and worthy of the love of the Almighty, Everlasting God. Because once we hear that...who cares what anyone else thinks.

And the overwhelming theme of EVERYTHING I have read is that, NO TRACYE you can NOT do everything BUT God can. I am limited in power, but HE IS NOT. I am selfish and demanding, but HE is perfectly patient and His timing is perfect. I can not cover EVERY base, but He WILL fill in the gaps if I ask Him to. HE is the greatest source of power to change EACH and every aspect of life that is lacking. I can't physically see how to provide all of my families needs of every kind and at EVERY level....but HE already knows how and when it's going to happen. I don't know how to make it "all" work, but He can lead me down the path that brings it all together. I don't know how to be all things to all people, but there is freedom in knowing that HE IS NOT asking me to be! Focus on what matters and He will take care of the rest. Pray for guidance and He will show us the direction. Pray for wisdom and He will show me where my focus should be and how to make things happen. The OVERWHELMING theme is that God is in control and NOT me, but if I come to Him he can direct me exactly where I should go. Keep your eyes focused on Him and LISTEN to what he says and the "outside" world will no longer matter.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

You DO matter!

Finally back to "real" world after a temporary break. It was unspeakably amazing to get to spend one-on-one time with my husband. The memories are priceless and the additional boost of strength it is providing us is unparalleled. Feeling incredibly thankful that we finally got OUR turn to do something like that. Ridiculous how long we waited, but thankful none the less. Counting down the minutes until God provides another chance!

Now it's back to real world. Real world isn't bad. Real world is just ever so slightly overwhelming at times. Trying to balance all of my roles is the hardest struggle I face and I know MANY of you reading this will agree! I struggle with trying to be the BEST wife, BEST mom, BEST home educator, BEST church volunteer, BEST friend, BEST encourager, BEST... the list goes on and on. I admit that if I focus on ONE role, I always end up dropping the ball in more than one category. Thankfully, God has been finding ways to show me how to slowly prioritize and put HIS plans first and let others go. He knows I have BIG ideas, HUGE plans and He knows how I feel when I bomb. In our home, we refer to those things as epic failures. Usually I find myself in the middle of one most days!

This time of year usually finds me spinning in circles and not gaining ground. This year is NOT different in that regards. I can reach out and touch a growing to do list that is now spilling over onto the 3rd page of a full size notebook. I get caught up in trying to find ways to get the ideas in my head into ACTUAL actions. Most of the time that doesn't happen often enough. This approaching school year is different. God has shown me that I am EXACTLY where he wants me and that HE is going to reward our faithfulness. THIS is the year that thoughts are going to become action. He isn't showing me that it is going to be perfect or easy, but He has given me the peace and encouragement that I needed. I normally would have started school with the kids this week, but I felt Him leading me to spend more time focusing on Him and HIS plans for us and to give myself a little more time to prepare. As a family, we need more time to focus on JUST being together without the pressures of adding in specific educational goals. Relationships FIRST and everything else will fall into place. Kevin and I needed a little more time to deepen our relationship and let some changes REALLY root before adding back in the pressure of balancing school, running 3 kids in 3 directions and EVERYTHING that goes along with it. I needed more time to accomplish some "domestic" plans to make our home run more smoothly through the year (meal planning, freezer cooking, organizing, scheduling and planning).

Perhaps most importantly, I need more time to let God really continue to speak to me and help me grow in areas that He has been working with me on. Let's face it: CHANGE takes EFFORT. Spiritual growth and emotional growth are hard to accomplish when you are pulled in more directions than you can physically go! These extra few weeks are giving me the chance to let things really take hold and grow. I can only imagine what kind of year we are going to have, both educationally and personally. I know that THIS year is going to be one that blesses our socks off. We have so much more to learn and so many more mountains to climb, but everything finally seems to be falling into place to allow it to happen.

This past week was amazing in regards to getting to spend time with some of our family and friends (even though I missed getting to see some VERY important people in my life!), but it was hard emotionally at times. A few of you know that I had to deal with some rather difficult situations, some of which in the past would have broken me. Because of the growth over the past year or so, amazing friendships and a husband that is PRICELESS...I was able to handle those things MUCH easier. God KNOWS what He is doing, even when we don't. He knows why we go through things that rip our hearts out and He has a MUCH bigger picture. I still have more questions than answers about many things EVERY single day, but He does not fail and His timing is never off. People may break us down, but HE builds us up. I may fail, even on a HUGE scale, but He never gives up on me and NEVER walks away. Finally having that peace and contentment, despite ALL circumstances, changes EVERYTHING!

Today I read a blog that could not have been more perfectly timed. It described the difference between a perfect mother and a balanced mother. Because I listened to God and followed His advice to "slow" down my thinking and planning right now, I was able to REALLY hear what the mom had to say and I heard God using her words to speak directly to my heart in a deep spot that few people can reach. That has been happening so often over the last two weeks. God has been preparing my heart to receive such messages. For those of you that are "just" moms or that are going against what society tells us is normal, DON'T ever let the world tell you that you don't matter. WE matter to each other and WE matter to God. For those that say motherhood isn't a mission field and that we are wasting God's calling or not doing "enough...WRONG!!! Don't let those people's words or actions get root in your heart!! Even if some days you feel like all you have done is cooked, cleaned, picked up the same mess you picked up five minutes ago, or your husband comes home and you look like death nibbling on crackers....YOU do matter and YOU are EFFECTIVELY reaching a world for Christ. Don't seek approval from the world. Find it only in God. Easier said than done at times, but at least work towards letting that root in your heart.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

A Better Ending to a Rough Day

As my emotions have come back under control and I've regained my normal grip on sanity (though as usual just a slight one!), I've found God speaking to me more and more tonight. He hasn't come down on me and given me a hard time about "losing" it today, I think He knows I'm going to be hard enough on myself that He doesn't have to.

However, He has used today as I way for me to learn things. One of the things I tossed out at the kids has already come back at me. I made a huge issue out of the fact that they have to be respectful towards each other. I reached my limit of the constant bickering back and forth, one bossing the other and one whining and complaining CONSTANTLY. I asked them to think about how they treat people at church versus how they treat each other at home. It's a very good point and something they DO need to think about it and implement. However, the lesson doesn't just stop with them.

I think I just gave myself the same speech. I am more patient with people at church or in the "real" world outside my four walls. I don't expect as much from them and give them more grace. It's easier to turn the other cheek in the "outside" world. Unfortunately, my standards for my children and even my husband are much higher. Granted, I do want more from them and EXPECT more from them and I believe that is OK. What isn't OK is that when they don't measure up, I don't give them as much love and patience as they deserve. I forget at times that they probably got some of their stubbornness honestly and sometimes they REALLY do have short memories and focus. It doesn't mean that I should drop all of my expectations of them, but I do need to teach and train MORE through love. There is wisdom in the saying you get more flies with honey!

I also think the being patient and exhibiting grace should really apply to ourselves as well. For someone with a perfectionist attitude and LOFTY goals, it's hard for things to not always go perfectly or quickly. I am still learning to treat myself with the same respect I offer others. I'm really great at giving people chance after chance, but for myself I don't allow that. I think God used today and all of its ugliness and failure to REACH me. I think He wanted me to see that because I lost focus on the fact that ONLY HE is perfect and HE doesn't demand perfection of me, I failed....big time. I allowed myself to put too much pressure on myself in the previous weeks (or months) and looking ahead to the next several weeks with the start of a new school year that I let it ALL build up. Today has been about starting from the bottom and looking back towards the future with a new set of eyes. Less pressure. More love. More forgiveness and patience. More reliance on God for ALL things and less reliance on self.

Not everything about today was a waste. God found me, that's what matters. He didn't find me all "shiny & perfect", but He found me and loved me anyway. Thankfully He's going to help shine me back up and put me on the right path. Thankfully when I stumble, I'm still caught in his grace.

Temper Tantrums: Not Just for 2 Year Olds

Oh my....if you're going to blog about REAL world, you better be real, right? Well this is as real as it gets. If you're going to blog about things you get right or when things are going good, you better be just as transparent when things aren't going right.

Well today is NOT a "going right" kind of day. Neither was yesterday. Hopefully it won't carry over tomorrow.

Real world: my throat is sore from screaming. Yes, real world. I feel like I've behaved like those kids you pretend to not look at in the grocery store kicking and screaming from not getting their way. Yes, that's a pretty good description of my own behaviour. Shameful. Yes? Honest: it does temporarily relieve the stress. Then you are faced with cleaning up your own mess.

As much as I DO NOT want to be a screaming, fit throwing mom: I am guilty. For those of you that watch 19 kids and counting, I've prayed for a gentle spirit like Michelle's but so far....nope it hasn't happened. OK, granted most days I come much closer. JUST not today.

Some days it just feels like you can't "pray" it away or talk it out. The kids push ALL your buttons ALL at the same time. Fighting. Disrespect. Bickering. Repeating directions for the 10th time and it STILL not getting done. Selfishness. Bad attitudes. All those things when piled up, just sometimes totally breaks this mom. That stress carries over to making things temporarily difficult in your marriage. It makes it hard to communicate or be loving. THAT cycles back to even more short temper explosions. Recipe for disaster. YES!

My mind is overwhelmed with hundreds of decisions to make, a to-do list a mile long before leaving for 10 days, physical issues and all my mind and soul wants is PEACE and QUIET. Right now there REALLY isn't time. Recipe for disaster.

Now what, now that the hissy fit has been thrown..............now what? Be happy about it? Absolutely not. Mortified, more like it. Expect your kids to be respectful for you and each other when you've just witnessed their eyes bug out because of how YOU just acted. Yep, not a good a picture. Is it getting me the results I needed? Oh yes......for a whole whopping 10 minutes. That's about all hissy fits are good for. Temper tantrums seldom get you the full results you want or are only a temporary fix.

So, here is the big realization. God was looking down at me about the same way a parent looks at their child. He was probably saying, "For real, Tracye, do you really think that is going to work?" The causes of my fit are the same things he sees me guilty of. How often does he repeat the same directions to me and I still don't follow them or do a "half" job of what he asked? How many times does he see me guilty of bickering, disrespect, a bad attitude or selfishness? Ummm hummm....whose on the hot seat now? Guilty.

So what now? Grace and forgiveness. Absolutely. A clean start tomorrow? No...a CLEAN start RIGHT now....why wait? And....chocolate, diet coke, Excedrin and a nap probably won't hurt either.

Sunday, August 1, 2010


This past weekend was one that just doesn't happen very often. It was one of those, for us, out of a fairy tale. We were able to spend the entire weekend away, tucked away on a private little paradise. What was incredibly amazing was that the only cost was a half tank of gas, $5 at a country market for slush puppies and bottled sodas, and $10 for hamburgers on the way home!

Years ago, Kevin began a friendship with one of his business vendors. Mr. David became like family for us during Peyton's hospitalization. He was one of those very few people that wasn't terrified to come into his room and interact with us. Up until that time, he was just a name I heard Kevin mention. The day he showed up in our hospital room with a steak dinner and sat with Kevin so I could actually leave the room long enough to do a load of laundry, I knew he would be in our lives forever. There just aren't many "business" people like that. Through the years, and all of the "moves", he has remained a constant in both the business and personal world.

Later that same year, Mr. David introduced us to the retired owners of his company. They own a Belgian Warmblood horse ranch in a VERY tiny town in Indiana (makes Westmoreland look like a metropolis!). He encouraged us to spend time on the ranch several months after Peyton's hospitalization. At that time, the trip was about 6 hours. That very first time we went, I was completely unprepared for the sights I was going to see. The last 15 minutes of the trip were almost enough to cause a divorce. Kidding....sort of! When we turned down that first dirt road with shack after shack, homes with broken out windows, I JUST KNEW Kevin had gotten me into another one of his crazy adventures that just NEVER turned out like planned. After several minutes and a near heart attack, we turned a corner and the most amazing property came into view. Yes, I had LOTS of apologizing to do for my previous freak outs!

The home is on the National Registry of Historic Places. It was built in 1864 and the main house is "original". The breakfast room is located in the "smoke" house portion of the home with all the original wood. Straight out of the history books! The grain silos had been converted into living quarters. However, we were sad to find out this trip that they had taken on water damage and they aren't sure how to fix it. We were still able to go in and climb to the top for the panoramic view of the property.

Though we have been several times in years past, we haven't been since living in IL even though it's only 2.5 hours away. The day that Adriana officially decided to no longer be involved in competitive gymnastics, I told Kevin that he needed to make arrangements for us to go back. Even though in the beginning it was a business relationship, it is no longer that way. The owners "adopt" you into their family and left us with an open invitation. After you've sat around their table and listened to their AMAZING stories, you feel like adopted grandchildren! A weekend is never enough time. We promised this time to NOT wait so long in returning. I know 3 children that will make sure that we NEVER wait long again!

We spent the weekend getting to be a family with NO stress, completely surrounded by nothing but nature. NO outside world. It didn't take long for the chaos to fade away. Within minutes, it was amazing to see how Kevin and I transformed into the happy, funny parents the kids love.

The weekend in a nutshell: GORGEOUS views no matter which direction you turned, riding through the woods and creeks in a Club Car 4X4 that held up to all of our adventures, interacting with the beautiful horses that made us feel TINY, watching the operations of a farm (especially bailing hay), climbing a 4 story tree house (and my memories of Peyton doing all this things at the same age of Bradlee!), landscaping views straight from Better Homes & Garden, hiking to the waterfalls, breakfast around the table just like we WERE family and time had not passed, fishing, wading through the creeks, paddle boats, eating peaches straight from the tree, letting the kids have "Driving" lessons with Dad (oh boy....I'm SO not ready for that day!), reading, reading, and more reading in the most serene surroundings. We also made a side trip to an exotic feline rescue center that provided some hilarious entertainment. (Kevin, is your heart beating normally again? On a side note: we were stunned to find out that one of the Pumas was rescued from a home IN CHAMPAIGN!) All in all, it was just a blessing that we never dreamed would be possible years ago when that friendship began.

It was just what we needed to regroup, refocus and find peace. We try to live by the "live, laugh, love" mantra and this weekend we did JUST that. We laughed abundantly, lived to the fullest (including hearing Kevin say I had REALLY mellowed out over the years because I didn't freak out over any of his crazy antics...except when Peyton was driving!), and we LOVED completely. Blessed!