Friday, June 28, 2013

Another Lesson Learned

We're about to wrap up one of the busiest weeks of the summer for us.  The kids had sports camp at our current church during the day and VBS in the evenings at the church we've been attending the last several years.  In the middle of that, I had all of my normal things going on (including two almost two year olds most days) and I also wanted to do a couple of things to bless some others (including sending home a fully home cooked dinner for six different families one night).  We're also in the middle of several projects, my daughter worked LOTS of hours this week and is involved in a ministry project that had us driving from one end of town to the other every morning, she's also about to leave for a conference in Panama City, FL  that we didn't anticipate her going on until nearly the last second, and my husband is gearing up for his busiest week of the year at work.  It also happened to be one of those weeks that Murphy visited in Murphy's law!  If it could go wrong, it did.  If it could be easy and simple, it wasn't.  I'm sure I'm not the only one with that kind of luck!!! More than once, my husband came home to find his wife having a breakdown!

I learned that I'm not as young as I used to be and that I'm not as capable of balancing things as I used to be.

Or am I?

Maybe it's more about what I didn't do instead of what I did do.

I let my one-on-one time with God slip.  Slip way down the list.  I made excuses.  I was emotionally tired.  I was physically exhausted beyond what I've felt in a long time (borderline lupus flare up hit at the WORST time).

So, I stopped doing what I KNOW is my life-line.

I hit snooze instead of getting up to read His word and REALLY pray (as in not just shooting up arrow prayers or two minute prayers of thank you and please help).

I didn't let my heart find renewal in Him. I didn't soak in the scriptures that provide EVERYTHING I need.  I didn't take the time to let praise and worship music fill our home and my soul.  I didn't stop to LISTEN to Him or find Him in the everyday moments.

I did things in my own power.

I let my emotions, the clock, the calendar, and everyone else's needs RULE.

I *thought* I'd just make up for it at night once the kids were in bed.  Or I *figured* I'd pull out my Bible and current devotionals/books/studies during nap time.

I thought/figured wrong.

I collapsed.  Or I couldn't find the ability to make coherent thoughts.

I know better.


Looking back today as things start to slowdown (still a busy 24 hours more to go, but the end of the insanity is near), I can't help but wonder.

What if?

What if I had stopped and kept my priorities in place?
What if I had kept my heart full of what matters above EVERY other role in my life?

Would I still be tired?

Oh yes!!!

.....but my heart would be full.  My soul would still be overflowing.

Thankful today for grace.

It was His unmerited favor that sustained us this week even when I wasn't on track.  It was His provision that covered my gaps.  It was His strength that carried even when I didn't think I needed it.

I was selfish.
I was living too much in the "world".
I took my eyes off of Him.  I didn't forget Him.....I just didn't go to Him FIRST above everything else.

So thankful for Him and His faithfulness even when I'm not.
So thankful for understanding family and a GIVING spouse that gave me space, grace, and help when needed.


I know that I will not be treating busy weeks the same again.  I won't be letting what I know matters most slip down the list of priorities.  It should be my life-line NOT my back up plan.

Lesson learned.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Changing of Seasons

Seasons are changing.

I love the change of seasons.

I love the colors of spring, the fresh start, and everything coming back to life.

I love the crisp air, hoodies, colors, snuggles and smells of fall.

I love the long days of summer with picnics, pool days, drive in movies, and LOTS of extra family time.

I even *gasp* love some things of winter.  I love the first few blankets of white snow and the bundling up by the fireplace.

Seasons changing bring about changes and different scenery.  It can renew and bring energy.  It can even cause you to slow down (as winter does).  Every season has something special about it.

We've been experiencing lots of changing seasons in our home.  It's definitely been a time of STRETCHING me as I realize I'm in a new season of life.  I dreaded these days, but now that I'm in them....I'm finding beauty and excitement in them.  OK---I definitely have moments of panic or possibly a few tears----but all in all, I'm finding that these new seasons are embraceable.

Just this last week (Hey, God----maybe we shouldn't combine so many at once!):

Our middle son went away to his first summer church camp alone.  No family members or long time friends to watch out for him.  Kevin and I grew up with church camp being a STAPLE of our lives and we were thrilled to finally have this opportunity for Peyton.  However, being in an area without family and being in a new church environment for us....he was starting fresh.  IT was amazing for him.  Yet, sending him off was a reminder of how much he has grown up on us!

Our youngest turned 7.  Every day is a new reminder of the fact that I no longer have small children.  (Thank heavens I've been blessed with the opportunity to provide childcare to multiple little ones in our home for the last 1.5 years+....they bless my soul AND allow me to still operate in my passion of caring for newborns and toddlers). For his birthday, we were thrilled to have been able to participate in a "House Party" for Nerf Super Soakers and Cheetos Naturals.  It allowed us to have a fun birthday party gathering for him.  The best part was it allowed us to spend some fantastic time with some neighbors and our dear friends that are leaving for full time mission work in South Africa at the end of the summer.  The rain almost rained out our party, but since we were going to get wet anyway---we went ahead with the water wars and just brought the food/fun inside the garage.  Definitely not what I originally intended, but it worked out GREAT and we had a super fun time.  Though my heart does ache at times that I no longer have preschoolers, littles, etc... I am thrilled with watching my children grow.  I love seeing them learn and love life!

Our daughter turned 16 last month, but this week she met the last requirements needed to actually get her license.  You moms that have already made this milestone and understand this new season, you fully understand the bittersweet feeling.  Those that haven't, yet, it REALLY is true about life going by faster than lightning.  I didn't listen either.  Well, I tried....but I didn't quite get it until now! I remember how she was so tiny and it was a BIG joke mentioned often about how she would never be tall enough to drive or her booster seat would go with her on her wedding day.  (She really was tiny.....13 pounds at a year old and 22 pounds at 2.5 years old).

Everything has been a reminder of how rapidly things are changing and how we are "aging" and moving into new seasons.  

Yet, as emotional as it can be, it's really beautiful.  

We are entering new seasons, but we are growing and changing together.  We are living and seeing life as God intended.  

With new seasons is new growth and new experiences.  New open doors.  New opportunities.  

This week we also reached a milestone that we can't help put praise God over.  It's been a lifetime in the making.  It's been through many tears, frustrations, heartache of DARK times.  We've dreamed of this day.  We've pleaded with God for this day.  We've fought for this day.  We prayed for God to redeem us through some hard times of our own making and many hard times out of our control.  He was faithful.  

We are no longer in debt to a lender.  We are debt free!  The commitment was worth it.  Debt chains us in bondage and it did us PROFOUNDLY.  It caused more stress than I can ever express.  The freedom that comes from the chains being broken is beyond what words can describe and I PRAISE God for that!

 Now, I'm going to admit something and be very transparent and honest.  THIS new season scares me the most.  I'm beyond thrilled to be here, but at the same time it's unnerving.  We want to be good stewards of the money and blessings He provides.  We don't want to waste another day or another penny.  We have made commitments in our hearts to give like never before.  We've vowed to not change our current lifestyles of frugal living very much because we want to use our resources for Him.  We know that because of that Satan will attack.  We know that we are praying for some big dreams in HIM and that in doing so, the enemy will attack.  We know that living in debt was not God's will and we were absolutely in disobedience of what He asked of us.  To finally be in this place today, we know that we open the door to what He has been preparing us for.  THAT IS TERRIFYING.  We know that being in God's will is the ONLY place to be, but it may not be the most comfortable place.  It is a place that we know is going to bring us out of our comfort zones.  However, we know that to be able to make the steps He is planning for us, we had to reach this milestone of debt-free living.  We had to show obedience and commitment on our parts so that it allows Him to open the door and reveal the next steps for the purpose He has planned for us.

New seasons are continuing to come our way.  We are soon to say goodbye to dear friends, goodbye to one of my precious littles as her family moves.  We are soon to welcome a new little to care for and a new grandchild.  More changes around the corner.  More growing up and moving on.  New opportunities to welcome.  New school year with incredible new directions.

Seasons are changing, but God is with us!

Last Week: Craft Marathon Fun!

Last week was one of those weeks that was busy and non-stop, but I found myself with this incredible, insatiable desire to tackle some craft projects that had been sitting and calling my name for what feels like AGES.  I had been waiting until I had extra time to just devote fully to them.  That time just never really was going to show up, so I finally realized that I could at least start them and none of them weren't things that I couldn't do in small steps.  I really found myself taking advantage of nap time and those few minutes at a time when between one and five kids were actively involved in something (which means seconds or minutes!).

I thrive on being crafty and creative (though I'm not in the slightest artistic!) and it was good for my soul to get a few things done.  It definitely put an extra smile on my face, brought joy, and made me feel productive!

Project 1: Galvanized Steel Pail Covered for outside use on the patio to either be used as a planter or to hold   various little items that I keep close by for the littles (bubbles, chalk, sunscreen, hotwheels, etc...)

Project 2: This one was the most sentimental and it was one that I had been wanting to do for quite awhile, but emotionally just wasn't ready.  With Father's Day being that weekend, I knew it was time.  I took one of my Dad's "famous" dress shirts and made it into an apron.  I originally planned on making a memory bear, but a friend suggested an apron and I KNEW that was exactly what I wanted to do.  I am passionate about aprons because of what they represent and I have just fallen in love with them (like some women and shoes).  I do admit that making those first cuts were very nerve wracking! However, the finished product is a priceless treasure.  I combined several different pinterest ideas and then just kind of went out on my own once I got started.

Project 3:  an antique house mailbox that we bought last summer at our local PACA store (organization that removes materials from old homes to be repurposed).  I painted it to be used on the porch to hold papers and such that people drop off when we aren't home.  I also thought it would be special to use it as a mailbox for family use (not through the mail system).  It currently is sitting on a table, but I think we may attach it to the house.

Project 4: I recently recovered our porch glider cushion with the black and white pattern you see above and I had wanted to add red pillows as soon as I picked out the fabric.  Pillows are expensive so I knew I'd eventually have to make them.  We had just started loading up another van full of things to take to be donated and as a last second decision I grabbed some white battenburg lace pillows back out of the stack.  They no longer matched our bedding and I had planned to pass them along to someone else, but then I realized it would work well recovered.  Another easy project with a great pop of color!

and a glimpse of everything pulled together for a spot that I love to spend the mornings enjoying
At this point, it was getting close to time to get things together for Bradlee's 7th Birthday, but I just couldn't resist starting another project.  The DIY craft bug had bitten and overtaken. 

So I started a quilt top for a new baby.  I plan to finish it this weekend and then I have a big project ready to tackle that I can hardly wait to get finished!  (Yes, this has caused my reading passion to slow down, but I still finished 5 books this week! LOL)