Sunday, April 22, 2012

A Sunday Morning Date

This morning before church it was calm, we weren't running late, and didn't have any major battles erupt.  For those of you that are parents, especially of multiple children, you know how rare Sunday mornings like that really are.  It's usually a chaotic rush of finding matching shoes, bickering between siblings, rushing out the door with not much more than a peck on the check from the husband at best.  Many Sunday mornings we finally hop in the van to make the short 2 mile drive to church and I look over at Kev and let out a deep breath and say, "Good morning, dear!" because it feels like we were zipping past each other, too rushed to really enjoy each other's presence.  Many mornings we walk into church and have to be VERY purposeful about turning off the rush and chaos and letting our hearts connect with the message, worship, and fellowship.  Otherwise we will miss it because we are still just to very much wrapped up in the chaos of just GETTING there. I'm sure many of you know EXACTLY what I'm talking about!

Fortunately, this morning was much different.  For whatever reason, I woke up feeling refreshed and ready to TRULY start the day much earlier than normal.  Based on our normal typical Sunday morning schedule on weeks that we aren't teaching, I could have slept an extra hour or at the very least stayed in bed and relaxed.  Mornings usually start full speed ahead with our energetic 5 year old!  Kevin tries to allow me this one morning of a SLOW start.  Instead of sleeping in, I was up, dressed, and ready to go as soon as Kev was back home from dropping off the big kids for the extra service they attend.  I spent that extra time just trying to prepare my heart for the day ahead.  Praying.  Listening to worship.  Reading a good devotional.  Things that went ahead and put my heart in the mind-set of worship. 

While I was reading, I saw a picture that said "Fall in Love with Jesus---again!". 

It made me think of how I CHERISH falling in love with Kevin all over again.  That has been something very obvious in our relationship.  It's incredible to experience that falling in love again and again. 

I thought about how our weekly dates have REALLY allowed that to happen.  Our spending two hours together one night a week, ALONE, has given us the necessary tools to take our marriage from ordinary to extraordinary.  For the first 15 years of marriage, we didn't have that opportunity.  Now that we do, we value it, protect it, and cherish it.  Those hours together allow us to fall in love all over again.  It helps melt the stress of a normal week away.  We literally CRAVE that time together now.  We do not allow ANYTHING to prevent that time together.  We may have to be flexible with the day.  We may not be able to financially do anything more than grab a sweet tea and sit at the park.  Other times we are blessed with being able to spend more and experience different things.  Regardless of the activity, we SPEND that time together focused on each other as a priority. 

I thought of how attending church allows the same thing in my heart for Christ.  Spending our Sunday mornings in fellowship with other believers, listening to the message, actively participating in worship, serving others in some capacity, etc...  allows that heart connection with Christ.  The week is busy.  It's VERY easy to let the world and its demands during the week crowd out communion with Christ.  VERY easy!  Attending church opens the door for falling in love with Christ---again and again.  It allows for a heart connection from slowing down and focusing on Him.

I also thought about how very important date night is to us, how we protect that time together at all cost, BUT that we also have to spend time together every other day as well.  The date night is the culmination of the rest of the week.  It's the icing on the cake.  Because we've attempted to spend the rest of the week showing each other daily how much we value, love, and appreciate each other, date night is a celebration of that love.  Because we've spent time each day praying together, communicating on a deep level, and putting each other's needs first, date night allows for even deeper communication and connection. 

On the other hand, those weeks that we've failed to take care of each other's hearts, date night may end up being more about "salvaging" or "making up".  It may be a time of starting over.  At times it has been almost a desperation.  "IF, we can just survive until Tuesday, we can really connect again" kind of thing. 

Church is the same way.  If we are spending time in communication with Him EVERY day by praying, reading His word, and seeking His will, the time in church on Sunday mornings just allows that relationship to grow even more.  Our hearts can truly just OVERFLOW because of the relationship that we have been nurturing during the week.  On the other hand, if there has been neglect of that relationship during the week, it can feel like we are there grasping onto EVERY word, EVERY song, EVERY move of the Holy Spirit JUST SO WE CAN HANG ON! 

No matter what, the time in church allows us the opportunity to fall in love with Christ in a deeper way.  Fresh. Renewed.  Just like date night with my husband allows ours hearts to reconnect and overflow with love for each other.  It's vital.  Just like we have to make our date night a priority be protecting our schedules to allow for it, we have to make sure that we protect that time in church as well.  We are a "rush, rush" society and it's so very easy to just want to take that day off.  It's VERY easy to just skip a mid-week service because we are pulled in so many directions.  However, it's vital that we don't.  Our hearts need that time connected with Christ.  Just like I know what a difference date night has made in my marriage, I know just how vital time at church is in my relationship with Christ.  Without it, we end up in survival mode.  We learn to accept and settle for "ok".  Ordinary is good enough. 

Not for me.  I live for extraordinary.  I don't just want to get by.  I want the best of what He offers by giving Him the best of me.  I can't do that when I'm not spending time with Him.  I don't want it for my marriage.  We've been strangers living in the same home and we never want to return to that place.  I've been through enough dark times of feeling like God is out of reach.  I never want to experience either one again.  Ordinary isn't enough.  Extraordinary.  Overflowing, Craving.  That is what I desire.

Friday, April 20, 2012

A New Adventure

Been a little quiet lately here in cyberworld---but now I'm back to share a bit about how God has been at work in our lives!

He has been at work in INCREDIBLE ways and I've just been taking some quiet time to let it soak in. 

I finally learned the lesson that when my head is full of chaos, when I'm unsettled/off-balance emotionally that I just need to back away, pull inward, and seek God's face fully.  In the past, I would fight it and spiral downward until EVERYTHING was falling apart.  I've finally recognized that the typical cause of that uneasiness is that God is ready to reveal something in my life and that I need to slow down and open my heart to hear it. I had been feeling that for about two weeks, so I knew that God was about to show up in a big way!

In recent months when I made the decision to say "no" to many things, even things that I REALLY loved and had such value it was very difficult but I knew it was the right decision.  I constantly was given reminders that saying "no" to things now meant that I would be able to say "yes" to something later.  I didn't know when that would come or what *that* would be. 

What matters is that God is putting our feet on a new path.  A path that isn't an easy one, but one that is going to have countless rewards.  I'm sure people will think I am crazy at times (I at times feel that way!).  I know this, when God is in it....who cares what the world says!  I can't even listen to my own doubts.  I have to walk in faith.

You see, years ago (which is beginning to feel like a lifetime) I had a dream.  *I* had a plan.  *I* had a direction for my life.  In college, I was working towards my social work degree and had a heavy focus on children's ministry.  *My* plan was to partner with some youth ministry leaders in Honduras that were in the initial stages of building an orphanage.  Though God led me down a different path when He gave me the incredible gift of my PRICELESS husband and then later our blessings of children, my heart has still had that calling in it. 

The calling in my heart just moved in a new direction:  to my family.  Same ideas, same message, same heart---just not across the world!  That "calling" in my heart has shaped the mother, wife, friend, daughter of Christ that I try to be.  It pushes me and encourages me to STICK with it, to "finish what I started" on those HARD days.  It is the basis of what motivates us to continue to homeschool after this many years.  It is what doesn't let  me settle with "good enough".  It is what pushes me back to Proverbs 31 DAILY. My "mission field" became my home.  AND IT'S MORE THAN ENOUGH!

However, we see some doors opening that are the result of that same seed that was planted all those years ago. 

For the past 7 months, I have had the incredible blessing to provide childcare for a precious little girl a couple of days a week.  It has been such a joy.  For those that know me, you know that I have an insatiable desire and passion for little ones.  It can't be quenched.  Many look at me like I'm crazy when they realize that I THRIVE on having a wee one around!

Because I've felt so adamant about giving her the full attention she deserves and the balancing of my own family's daily needs (especially with home education), I didn't desire to expand that childcare to any others (except for a dear family friend if she were ever in need!). 

Yet, God moved.  He has moved in a HUGE way. 

Saying "no" to those other families and saying "no" to those other activities/ministries/responsibilities has allowed us to NOW say "yes" to something bigger. 

We, as a family, have a desire to be involved in missions.  We have for a VERY long time desired to adopt.  We want to partner with organizations that focus on the orphan.  There have been hurdles with adopting and doors have closed, but we prayerfully wait for that to change.  We still feel VERY led to be on a mission field some day, whether that be short or long term.  God will have to lead on those details!

ALL of these things require finances we just simply don't have.  Though we are less than a year away from FINALLY being 100% debt free (and 45 days away from only having ONE bill!), our long terms goals require finances beyond that.  We've felt like our desire to become debt free is just a baby step in a bigger plan. 

In my heart, I had already been wondering how we could bring our goals (even though we don't know ANY of the details, we just know the general direction) to reality faster. 

Was I saying "no" to God when I was saying "no" to opportunities that just seemed to pop up out of the blue?  Was I preventing our goals of ministry from happening by my own lack of faith?  Tough questions.

Several weeks ago, Kevin and I found this switch that allowed us to begin communicating on a MUCH deeper level than we had ever experienced  (which is hard to believe!).   To say that the Holy Spirit has taken over both of our lives with a new power is an understatement.  We are finally seeing the results of digging into His word, earnest prayers, and just connecting at the heart. It's dramatically changing and shaping us. 

The one thing that is happening is that we are SEEING God at work.  Seeing, not just believing by faith.. Little miracles are in front of our eyes constantly.  Problems that didn't seem possible to deal with, suddenly have had solutions.  The list could go on endlessly....

One of those conversations allowed me to share my heart about where I felt God was leading, but that I had confusion as to whether it was my own emotions or God's leading.  Sometimes THAT IS VERY HARD to separate. 

So we began to pray about that direction....

And HE answered.  Instantly.  Like I have NEVER experienced in my life. 

I was in process of sending an email to a friend asking her to pray specifically on a couple of topics and JUST as I was reading her response email----I saw another email from a name from someone I didn't immediately recognize. 

The email was God's answer. 

With much prayer, thoughtful consideration, countless conversations....we stepped through the door of faith and have opened our home to some additional childcare. 

Because I do NOT ever want it to be "just a job" and I truly want it to be a ministry, I have been seeking God's direction and leading on how to proceed.  I know this:  I have some adjustments ahead of me and it's not something we are taking "lightly"....but GOD IS IN THIS!  His hand is ALL over it! 

What I didn't know when the conversations were taking place was that Kevin was hidden away AT THAT SAME TIME praying for financial blessings to be poured out because of our desires to serve God in a BIG way. 

Many times we wait for YEARS for answers to prayers....this time it was instant.  Literally before ink could dry to paper (even though it was actual a series of emails!). 

Had I not started saying "no" all of those weeks ago, I wouldn't have been in position to say "yes" now.  I would have missed the opportunity that God had been giving us.  Just even in the basic daily way we have been doing things in recent months was preparation for this "yes". He's allowing me to share the love I have for babies with a family that is in desperate need of childcare and wants their child in a Christian home those hours.   I truly see it as a ministry opportunity.

In the bigger picture, *this* is the beginning of us being able to work towards our long terms goals financially, one day at a time, but a bit faster than before.  It isn't to buy bigger or better things.  It isn't to have more stuff.  It's so that we can begin to build financially so that when God finally does say "GO!", all we have to ask is "Where?"

Walking in faith.  Believing as He has opened doors (much more than I can write in a single post).  Wondering what the future holds and what His ultimate plan for our family is, but knowing we couldn't be in any better hands.  Knowing that this new adventure is just the first step in a new direction He has for us, but so incredibly thankful to have the opportunity to soak it in.  MANY decisions on our plates to think through, many uncertain things.......but know that we are on track.  We finally feel like our purpose is beginning to fall into place!  I know there are going to be days ahead that I'm just physically exhausted from balancing EVERYONE'S needs to the fullest capacity I can provide---but I know that with God:  ALL. THINGS. ARE.POSSIBLE!

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

5 Love Languages for Children Winner Announcement!

Just a fast announcement of the winner of the "5 Love Languages of Children" book giveaway!

The winner was comment #1 :  Robin.  Robin, be on the lookout for an email from me later today to get your address!

Monday, April 9, 2012

The 5 Love Languages of Children (AMAZING giveaway!)

When I posted the giveaway/review for "A Perfect Pet for Peyton"  (Congratulations to Emily F!---you were selected by as the winner of that giveaway), I mentioned that a second review of the "5 Love Languages) was coming! 

I mentioned how excited I was to read this book because of the difference the "adult" version of the book had made in my marriage. 

The 5 Love Languages of Children:  DID NOT DISAPPOINT!  Thank you Gary Chapman & Ross Campbell for such an amazing tool!

In my opinion, EVERY single parent should own this book.  Seriously!

Though I've not yet had many opportunities to use the information I learned in this book, I can HARDLY wait to start applying it.  I feel like I've found the key to truly connect with each of my children on a completely personal, individual level.  It has given me the tools needed to reach into their innermost beings and demonstrate love in the way THEIR heart need it.  Isn't that really what our roles as parents should be about, specially as Christian parents.  The way we love our children sets the foundation for them learning to accept the unconditional love of Christ!!!

The book gives GREAT tools for discovering what those needs are and practical ways to express it, most especially beneficial if your child's language is different than your own.  These tools are PRICELESS!  I can already tell you that I will be bringing this book back out time and time again.  It most definitely is MORE than just about reading a book for a review for me (though I'm VERY thankful for this opportunity!)

Not only is each language fully explained, but also a "game" is included that helps you determine the primary and secondary love languages of your children (works best for children age 5 and older). 

Though I'm confident that I'm going to be able to reach each of my children's hearts a little deeper, I loved some of the first chapters that talked in general about love and our expressions of it the most.

Listen to some of my favorite quotes:

"Only the child who FEELS genuinely loved and cared for can do her best.  You may truly love your child, but unless she feels it--unless you speak the love language that communicates to her your love--she will not feel loved."

"Speaking your child's primary love language does not mean he or she will not rebel later.  It does mean your child will know you love him, and that can bring him security and hope; it can help you to rear your child to responsible adulthood.  Love is the foundation."

And, in my opinion, some of the greatest information that touched me the deepest was the explanation of unconditional love. 

"Unconditional love shows love to a child NO MATTER WHAT.  We love regardless of what the child looks like; regardless of her assets, liabilities, or handicaps; regardless of what we expect her to be; and most difficult of all, regardless of how she acts.  This does not mean that we like all of her behavior.  It does mean that we give and show love to our child all the time, even when her behavior is poor.......No child can receive too much appropriate unconditional love. A child may be "spoiled" by a lack of training or by inappropriate love that gives or trains incorrectly.  True unconditional love will NEVER spoil a child because it is impossible for parents to give too much of it."


I can't wait to get this book into the hands of one of you!  I encourage EVERY parent to purchase a copy. 

One reader can receive a copy of the book.  Just leave a comment telling me ONE thing that you love about your children.  I'd love to hear something that makes you smile or warms your heart.  Take a minute to just share it!  One comment will be chosen by using on April 17th.  Be sure to leave an email for me to contact you if you are the winner!  I look forwarding to hearing something special about your children!

Required fine print:  “Disclosure of Material Connection: I received one or more of the products or services mentioned above for free in the hope that I would mention it on my blog. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Letting Go of the "To-Do" List

So much about the last two months or so has been about pulling back, looking at priorities, redirecting focus to areas of God's leading, etc..

In short...

It's been about taming the chaos so I can HEAR Him.  I'm seeking Him.  I'm thirsting for Him like I've never known possible.  The results are beginning to be visible and it's tremendous. 

Yet, I have such a long way to go that I am constantly overwhelmed.  My perfectionist tendencies tend to derail me more often than I really want to admit.  I'm working on it.  I really am. 

These past few days have been an extreme physical battle.  I spent all of last week fighting off a mild flare-up and made it until Thursday night when it hit relentlessly.  Finally back up and going today.  Perhaps not feeling completely good yet, but I'm being as active as possible to make my body catch up with my mind!  Or until I crash---which my husband is just waiting to say "I told you so."  Just can't stand being down!  We all know that Moms don't get true sick days and especially a homeschooling mom.  The show must go on! 

Just before I start getting physically drained early in the week, my husband and I were blessed to have had some REALLY deep discussions.  Those kinds that you wish you could have recorded because they were so amazing, so deep reaching, and just what we needed.   Some of those topics allowed me to let go of so much garbage and broke down so many walls.  God was definitely in the midst of us!  However, you can't have those type of discussions without hitting some rough waters.  Those waters that reveal things you don't like about yourself, areas you need to change (grow, let-go, turn over, etc...). 

One such topic was expectations.  Not the ones that we place on others.  The ones that we carry on our own shoulders.

I so often think I've failed.  I know I'm not alone in this feeling because of conversations I've had with so many recently. 

I set out with a "list".  At the end of the day, I fail to see what I accomplished.  I just see what is left to do.  Fail.

I want to exhibit a specific quality or work on a certain character issue.  I fail to see where I made better choices 8 times that day.  All I see is those 2 times I didn't. (It could even be 99 successes and 1 fail!) Fail.

On that particular day that we talked about this issue, I had accomplished an incredible amount of things at home that day.  Looking back now, I laugh.  I had ended up so mad at myself because I crashed at the end of the day and was just LAZY.  I decided to not cook dinner.  I started beating myself up mentally and TOTALLY erased in my brain all the things I DID do.  All I could focus on was the one thing I thought I'd done wrong.  I didn't measure up to the Proverbs 31 women in my own head.  Ridiculous!  It's laughable now, but at the moment it wasn't. 

I think many of us struggle with this.  We fail to see the progress we are making.  We fail to see the MANY things we do right.  We fail to see the value of the little things we do. 

God doesn't want us to be living like that.  He offers grace for a reason.  We can sometimes easily offer it to others, but fail to accept it for ourselves.  Besides that, whose "list" are we living by? I don't believe God is sitting there with a checklist to see how many things we got done.  He is looking at our hearts and our motives. 

My forced downtime this week really brought this issue back to light.  Our conversation started it, but being forced to think about it while I wasn't able to attack a list the last several days was very revealing. 

I learned something very powerful during this time as well. 

The reason I *try* to do so much is because I want to calm the chaos.  If my house is clean, I can think.  If I can think, I can relax.  If I can relax, I can focus more intently during my one-on-one time with God.  If my one-on-one time is focused, I can hear His voice in my heart.  It's uncluttered and I can hear.  The chaos is calmed.

That is what the last several months have been about.

Zooming through *my list* so I can calm the chaos. 

This week taught me something.  Chaos is here.  Chaos isn't EVER going to be tamed.  I can definitely do things to HELP.  I can absolutely give myself the best chances by keeping priorities in focus, I can consistently surround myself with people that are uplifting, I can continue to make choices to avoid things that fill my head with garbage, etc...  However, I can not give myself the perfect world!  Reality is just that.  Kids get sick.  I get sick.  Schedules fall apart.  The house will not always be 100% clean when someone knocks on the door.  There will be days I have to drop everything to help someone out of bind.  It's reality. 

What I have to do is learn to STILL focus on Christ even when life is a whirlwind around!!!  I absolutely need to do everything I can to give myself that BEST chance of being connected with Him, but I also have to accept that some days I have to SEARCH him out!  I have to train myself to find Him in the MIDDLE of the chaos.  Not just in the silence.

It wasn't very long after Kev and I talked about these things (letting go of my *lists*, paying too much attention to my failures and not enough credit for progress) that I read something very powerful.

I know this post is already long, but I want to share in the entirety what I read.  It spoke word for word to my heart what our conversations had been about.  God reached my heart with this even in the chaos.  Though these last few days of being physically drained, in pain, and dealing with some very unpleasant symptoms has been hard----it has been such a time of reflection.  For that I'm thankful. 

Taken from Sarah Young's devotional book "Jesus Calling".

"I am calling you to a life of constant communion with Me. Basic training includes learning to live above your circumstances, even while interacting on that cluttered plane of life.  You yearn for a simplified lifestyle, so that your communication with Me can be uninterrupted.  But I challenge you to relinquish the fantasy of an uncluttered world.  Accept each day just as it comes, and find Me in the midst of it all. 

Talk with Me about every aspect of your day, including your feelings.  Remember that your ultimate goal is not to control or fix everything around you; it is to keep communing with Me.  A successful day is one in which you have stayed in touch with Me, even if many things remain undone at the end of the day.  Do not let your to-do list (written or mental) become an idol directing your life.  Instead, ask My Spirit to guide you moment by moment.  He will keep you close to Me."

OUCH---those words touched me, convicted me, moved me, and are continuously teaching me. 

Learning to walk in a new direction.  Learning what a truly successful day looks like.  Seeing things that I have to change.  Even in the middle of the chaos!

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Beautiful Scars

I have a whole list of hang-ups.  Things that I don't like about myself.  Things I struggle with on a daily basis.  Things that "push" my buttons.  Doubts. Fears. Wounds. Scars.

Don't we all! 

As a thank you gesture for some volunteering we did this past weekend with Holt International, we were given a CD from Newsong (One True God).  The entire CD has been incredible and it's an understatement to say that listening to it this week has been a blessing.  I think I could literally write an individual blog about nearly every song because the words are that moving.  However, one specific line keeps coming to mind today..

"Not one of us will get through life unscarred.  If no wound upon our body, then our hearts." (from the AMAZING song "Between The Cross and Crown")

The first time I heard the song we were getting ready for church and I thought I was going to end up having church right there in the middle of my bathroom because it caused such a stir in my heart.  The song goes on to talk about how God is sovereign over all and that in the days between the cross and the crown (meaning the days were are living in between Jesus' death/Resurrection and the day that we are united in heaven with him) we have an amazing gift.  That gift is the Holy Spirit.  He is here to be our comforter, counsellor and our breath of Life.  The song talks about the reminder that nothing comes to us without passing through God's hand and that He has a plan. 

Scars are hard.  They can literally change everything around the area.  For those of us that have some type of physical scar that we can visibly see or touch, you know how the skin changes and how it looks different than the skin around it. 

The scars in our hearts are no different.  They change how we view the world.  I could talk ALL day about how they affect us...but that isn't my real focus of this post. 

My focus is this...

What do you do with that scar? 

We all have them.  We all have baggage.  We all have garbage in our lives. 

Do we lay down and become a victim?  Do we let it create a cycle that damages those around us?  Do we become bitter and full of unforgivness. 

Oh, it's so easy to do that........

I've been guilty more times that I want to admit.

However, when we let God intervene with those scars something beautiful happens.

They TRULY heal.  They don't heal just on the surface enough for the world to see.  He can truly heal those wounds from the inside, out.   It isn't easy.  Let me rephrase that, it MAY be excruciating in the process.  It may actually be terrifying, especially if you've REALLY held on to the damage for SO long.   Healing may leave you feeling incredibly vulnerable, but it's only temporary.  Once the healing takes place---the release of bitterness, anger, frustration, loss of "dream", hurt----the scar becomes beautiful. 

It really does. 

You see, it becomes a reminder of how amazing the love of God is.  We can't heal a physical wound on our own.  It's a miracle of science from the creation of God's own hand!  Have you ever really thought about the process of healing from a cut, what actually happens in your body?  Have you thought about the details of the process:  platelets, clots, fibrin, white blood cells, etc..  It's an incredible design of God---one of those things that I tell my kids that proves how intricatly God designed our bodies and that it isn't "just" science.

Our "internal" scars are the same way.  He provides the tools for us to allow that healing to take place.  When a wound heals a scar may remain.  We wrongly think at times that it is ugly, unsightly, and we might even think it means that we aren't healed.   I've thought for so long....

I thought the scars made me "less than".  I thought the scars made me "ugly".  I thought the scars made me ineffective as a witness.  I thought the scars were shameful.

Those are lies.  BOLD FACED lies directly from Satan. 

I've finally stopped listening to them!

Scars are beautiful.  They show where God has done a work in our hearts and provided healing.  It shows the areas that we've allowed God to have control.  We can't heal our own wounds---neither of the heart or in a physical sense.  Only He can do that. 

Even those scars that are still tender are beautiful.  They may only be in the partial healing stage, but a scar shows that the healing has begun! 

Don't listen to the lies of Satan----cling to the power of God to do what we think is impossible.  When the lies threaten to overtake, remember this:

Don't question in the dark what God has revealed in the light! 

When you are in the healing process and KNOW that God is moving you in the right direction, CLING to that light when during the dark times the questions come again. 

Darkness isn't the opposite of light, it's just the absence of light.  TURN  on the light and LIVE there.  It's a beautiful place to be.  Scars and all!

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Unexpected Blessings

It never ceases to amaze me JUST how God shows up, JUST when you need it.  I KNOW He will deep down, but it still takes me by surprise.

Yesterday didn't start out good.  Well, I should rephrase that.  I didn't allow yesterday to start out in a good way.  I was off-balance, easily irritated, and physically exhausted.  Normally that wouldn't be enough to make a day "bad", but my attitude did.   It stunk.  Plain and simple.

My husband encouraged me to just get out of the house for a few minutes.  Run out and splurge on a diet coke.   (I kicked that MAJOR habit about a year ago, but some days MANY days I still CRAVE one!).  So, I did. 

By the time I got back home I was already feeling much better, but I still just felt like I needed "more". 

That "more" was waiting in the mailbox.  God had shown up and left a little message for my heart.

I have been struggling with finding my "new" place in regards to ministry, connection, and what I say "yes" to versus "no" to.   Since I've backed away from so many things in order to find exactly where God wants me instead of where I'm doing things on my "own", I've been hearing those lies of Satan in my head telling me the things I had been doing were pointless anyway.  In the middle of this soul-searching and allowing God to direct on a new path of His leading, I've been feeling vulnerable and exhausted emotionally.  I've felt much needed connection with my husband and children, but have been somewhat grieving the loss of connection with others in this process.  Some friendships are proving that they are solid and growing by the day.  Others, well...are showing that their foundation was based on the things I did for them.  It hasn't been easy.   Just being honest.

Waiting in the mailbox were two things that reached my heart and were like a direct connection from God to the deepest parts of me. 

A letter, update, and picture from the child that we sponsor.  It was completely unexpected and a much needed "connection" I was needing.  It could have come on any day at any other time, but it arrived just when I was thinking in my heart of how I needed a boost to let me know that things we do matter.  Just when I needed some doubts silenced. 

Also waiting was something that blew my mind.  There is no doubt that God provided.  A check.  A VERY unexpected check.  It wasn't enough to run out and buy anything of significance.  Maybe just a meal out and a few basic necessities.  It however was more than enough for me to know that God is listening.  You see, this check was for a bill we paid OVER 10 years ago.  Yes, 10 years!  I had weekly ultrasounds with Peyton from about 30 weeks on because they were concerned with a lupus complication that had developed and that had to be monitored to assure his viability.  Since it wasn't usual to have them at such an increased frequency they had to be pre-approved by insurance.  They quickly agreed with the necessity but some paperwork errors caused the first few to not have the radiologist's reading fee paid at the highest benefit amount.  We ended up paying too much out of pocket.  Fast forward to yesterday, 10 years plus after the fact.....they corrected that error.  Are you serious?  Does that REALLY happen?  Yes it does, when God is sending a message to TRUST HIM in the big and little things.  TRUST that HE is still in control and ready to pour out blessings! 

All I needed yesterday was an attitude adjustment.  I just needed the reminder that even in the little things, God is listening.  He provided.  He provided with a needed heart connection and He provided with a financial blessing.  Though it wasn't a major boost to the budget, it was more than enough to remind us to trust Him.  He has never failed before and He won't now.  His timing may not line up with mine, but His is perfect!

B90 Final Check-In for Jan-March 2012 Session

I missed getting a check-in post up Sunday night for this final post, but I most definitely didn't forget about each of you!

I can't tell you how big my smile was to start receiving emails and blog comments from those of you that have already checked in as FINISHERS!  Some of you even had commented/emailed a few days prior that you just didn't think you would be able to do it AND then YOU DID!  So very proud of you!  EACH and EVERY one of you! Be proud of the fact that you didn't give up---and many of you had REAL reasons that could have derailed you! 

I know there are probably a few more of you that have finished or are REALLY close!

I have to take a moment and really say how proud I am of my husband.  He has not had the patience (focus!) in many years to sit down and read.  It just isn't one of his passions like the rest of us in this household!  He had tried to B90 with me the last two times I participated but he just never really found a rhythm or got in the habit.  He did it this time!  I'm so overjoyed with pride in him because I know this was NOT easy for him and that it took FULL commitment.  The sweetest part was the fact that he wouldn't go to sleep until he had finished----late on day 90!  *Kev, I'm so proud of you & seeing you complete this just makes me so excited about what is waiting around the corner for us.  I KNOW God is using this to lead us in a new direction! Stronger. Together.*

So, my question is:  How does it feel to be finished?  How has God really used this time with you?  How do YOU feel?  Did you want to give up and now feel such a great accomplishment for persevering?

Just soak it in and let His word continue to work in your heart.  Let it draw Him closer and closer!

Now what?  What is your next plan?  Whatever *that* may be, just don't stop here.  Let this 90 day journey be a catalyst for even more growth!

For me, I'm going back and highlighting in my actual Bible everything I bookmarked on my phone.  Some things are for deeper study, some are just to soak in and write how God is using that verse in my life, and many will be for memorizing.  I'm re-reading areas that were confusing or some that really spoke to my heart in specific situations.  I'm taking some time to catch up on some other reading (most specifically some GREAT books I purchased at Hearts at Home).  My husband & I are also both reading the Resolution books that are part of Courageous.  We are already discussing when we want to start another 90 day plan and if we want to do it as a big project again, or just as a couple/family.

For those that haven't finished:  please don't give up!  Don't let the 90 day number discourage you.  Just finish!  Push through and don't give up.  Don't discount this time that you've spent in His word.  I've said all along--the 90 is just a number---it's what is taking place in your heart and your commitment to be in His word that matters.  I'd STILL love to hear from you as you finish!  I'd still love to say congratulations! Still cheering you on!

I most especially want to say THANK YOU!  Thank you for allowing me to spend this time with you.  Many of you have TRULY touched my heart and changed me!  Thank you for allowing me into your hearts and sharing your lives with me.  Thank you for allowing me to pray for you on specific issues.  Simply...thank you.  It has blessed my heart more than I can ever express. 

Thank you, Lord, for allowing me to partner with each of these women (and a few men!).  Thank you for moving my heart and continuing to show me the power of YOUR word!  Thank you for moving in me and for opening up so many doors!  Thank you for forgiving me when I've failed and continuing to offer me grace.  Thank you.