40 Days & 40 Nights

Recently, our new pastor challenged us to be a praying church.  He asked for everyone to commit to taking one day during a 40-day challenge and fast from something….food, technology, TV, something that you would be sacrificing.

I spent some time thinking about this and it became pretty clear to me that God was asking more of me.  I’ve been in a pretty dark place for awhile.  I can’t really explain except that it got easy to do things my way and not worry too much about what God was wanting.  Starting with our vacation where God didn’t just knock on my door but pretty much blew it down (you can read about this here), I was starting to realize that it was time to put the work in to get back where I should be.

I decided I needed more than just a day, I needed to give something up for the entire 40 days.  Logistically, I can’t give up food for 40 days, giving up my technology would be hard to do with my job, so I started to look at what I really depend on.

Here’s the honest truth…I was drinking Coke Zero (and pop) like an alcoholic drinks beer, maybe even more. In the stressful times, celebratory times, sad times, it didn’t matter, I always drank a Coke Zero or four.  I knew this was what had to go.

This was a crazy idea.  Not only do I just love Coke Zero, but this 40 days included my birthday and the start of school where I need all the extra caffeine I can get.

I planned that every time I craved a Coke Zero (or soda of any kind), I would pray.  I wanted some specific things to pray for.  Of course, I wanted to pray for our church, my family, the school year and all the usuals but the two things I wanted to really focus in on were:

  1.  For God to bring a close, deep friendship to my life.  I have many wonderful, great friends.  I definitely don’t lack in that area.  I’ve seen a pattern in my adult life that when I get a best friend that I can really have deep conversations about and get real, they move.  (You know who you are!)
  2. My other prayer was for my own spiritual life.  I’ve been in a really weird place for quite awhile and although I knew my mind was changing, I really wanted to focus on putting the work in to be who God expects me to be.

Here’s the interesting thing, as I prayed for a close friend, God put situations in my path that made me be a better friend to the people around me.

When I prayed for my own spiritual life, he put situations in my path that made me get out of my comfort zone and step up my game.  He also gave me situations to deal with that normally would have got my temper boiling but I have been overwhelmingly calm.  Even in moments of anger, random Bible verse would pop into my head and instantly calm me.

I have missed my pop.  No doubt about it.  Starting a school year is hard.  Without my usual caffeine jump start, it’s almost heroic.  I have visited White Grill, a local, lovely greasy spoon that has my heart, several times.  It is almost a sin to go to White Grill and not have a Diet Dr. Pepper with my whistle burger and suzies, but I did it.  There were MANY prayers said in White Grill, and I was successful.

I’ve read my Bible more.  I’ve listened to God more and most importantly, I got my head on straight.  It’s easy to just be a good person and go through life without causing waves.  God asks more of us.  He wants us to jump into the uncomfortable.  He wants us to show His love every minute of every day.  He wants us to see needs before they are even spoken.  He wants us in His house regularly making connections and hearing what He has to tell us.  He wants us to show compassion and patience.

I don’t have all the answers and don’t pretend to, here’s what I know…I feel different on the inside.  I’ve seen God working all around me.  I’m glad I stepped up to the challenge.  I can’t wait to see what happens next.

 

 

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Thankful for a Craptastic Vacation

I haven’t blogged in awhile but this story has to be told.

We recently went on our annual family vacation.  It was nothing short of craptastic.  And I couldn’t be more thankful….

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We weren’t supposed to go to the beach.  At first, I had a great trip planned to Yellowstone but Parker informed me that riding in the car to look at “stuff” did not sound like a relaxing vacation to him.  Then I decided we should go to Disney World.  I did all the research and gently told Blake how much it was going cost (roughly an arm and a leg), then one night the kids were talking about how they really wanted to go to the beach.  We took a vote of who wanted to go to Disney World and who wanted to go to the beach and, I was the only one who voted for Disney World, so I planned a beach vacation.

Usually, I’m so excited to get to the beach.  I plan and make lists for weeks, preparing a meal plan, shopping for everything I need off of my many different categories of lists.  This year, I wasn’t into it.  I couldn’t tell you why but the night before we left, I started packing haphazardly.  I had a few ideas for meals and was just sort of excited to go.  I would describe myself as being in a funk.

Our trip to the beach was pretty uneventful.  It included me threatening to throw things out the window if children didn’t stop arguing, stopped traffic, closed exits, confused map apps, all the regular things that happen our family vacations.

Our condo was wonderful.  Much larger than we had stayed in before with lots of great amenities.  We got to the beach and thought it was pretty great too.

On Sunday, we planned to have a beach day because the forecast for the rest of the week didn’t look great.  We were excited to see a parasail company just a short walk down the beach so we planned to hit that up as well.  We played in the ocean, dug holes and got a little sunburned.  I walked down the beach and paid for our parasailing ride.  We were to come back in one hour.  An hour later, we marched down the beach and were told that the Gulf had gotten too rough and we couldn’t get out to the boat.  They refunded our money and sent us on our way…disappointed.

Sunday night Parker mentioned that his foot hurt.  We looked at it and it pretty much looked like he had a small blister right under his big toe.  We didn’t think much about it.

Monday came and it was a pretty rainy day.  We ventured to lunch and to an alligator farm.  We had quite a bit of fun and were able to mostly dodge the rain.  Monday night Parker’s toe was still bothering him.  I noticed it was getting pretty red and we decided we would probably head to urgent care the next day just to be on the safe side.

Tuesday morning we woke up thinking we would head to see the Blue Angels perform.  On our way, we saw an urgent care so we decided to stop.  Turns out Parker had a shell in his foot.  The doctor had to numb it and dig it out.  He was put on antibiotics and told to stay off the beach and out of the hot tub.  That will be easy, right?  (We got the bill for that procedure today.  Apparently, it was an outpatient surgery, who knew? $$)

So what do you do with a kid who can’t go to the beach on vacation?  Oh yeah, and it stormed so we didn’t go see the Blue Angels.  The kids and Blake spent most of the day in the pool and had quite a bit of fun.  Parker’s foot was bandaged but not slowing him down much.  We were disappointed we couldn’t go to the beach but the weather still hadn’t been too good.

On Wednesday, we headed to the Blue Angels.   We went through security at the naval base gates, made our way to the Navy museum and were all the way inside before we heard that the Blue Angels were grounded that day.  Of course, they were.  We were noticing a pattern here.  We still enjoyed the museum but didn’t have a day like we had planned.  We had a great lunch (in the rain) where we sat and watched boats come in and out.  Probably the highlight of the whole trip for me.  We went back to the condo and Blake and the kids headed back to the pool.  I wasn’t feeling too good. I thought maybe I had some bad seafood or something so I napped and took it easy.  We had a relaxing afternoon/evening in the condo but were starting to go stir crazy.

I’m the kind of person who is always ready to come home at the end of vacation but I’ve never been the kind of person who wants to cut the trip short to get home.  We live in a small town without a beach.  Most of the time you have to drag me to the car.  On Wednesday night, I was ready to come home.  I wasn’t feeling terrible, just a little upset stomach but I just was ready to be done.  We had a family meeting and decided if it was raining Thursday morning, we would probably just head home a couple days early.  It was supposed to rain the next two days.

We woke up Thursday morning, and it was raining so much you couldn’t tell the sky from the water.  We had a nice breakfast (I felt fine) and packed up the condo.  The first hour and a half of our trip were fine.  About twelve hours from home, my stomach started hurting.  I thought it might still be from the seafood, or maybe I had a stomach bug.  We stopped to visit several bathrooms, we stopped for ginger ale but nothing was making it better.  At one point, I talked Blake into letting me drive so I could focus on something besides my hurting stomach.  As the day progressed, I felt worse and worse.  The only comparison I have is the worst contraction I had in labor that never stopped for twelves hours.  I kept telling Blake I thought I was pretty tough but I really hurt.  My mom called and I had to hang up because I couldn’t talk to her.  I would shut my eyes for what seemed like an hour and look at the clock to see a minute had passed.  It was the longest twelve hours of my life.  In Conway, AR, I thought about stopping at an urgent care but what if there was something wrong?  We would be stuck in the middle of Arkansas with our kids and me sick…so we kept driving.  I think around Fayetteville, Blake started speeding.  I remember wondering if we were dumb to drive through Joplin and not stop but MAYBE if I got to my own bathroom and my own bed I would feel better.

As we pulled into town, I started throwing up.  I NEVER throw up.  As we got closer to the house and this had gone on for several minutes, Parker took off his headphones and said, “Hey, what exactly is going on up there?”  You can count on Parker to bring some comic relief to the situation.

I think I was home exactly 10 minutes when I told Blake I thought we better head to the ER.  I didn’t know what was wrong with me but I knew it wasn’t getting better.

It didn’t take them long to figure out that my appendix was the problem.  By the time they got me to surgery I had almost a 104 temperature and was a pretty sick girl.  Thankfully, I had great doctors and nurses (several former students) who took great care of me.

I’m thankful for our craptastic vacation because if Parker hadn’t hurt his foot and I had been in the ocean and a wave had hit me wrong, it could have burst my appendix even before I was hurting.

I’m thankful for our craptastic vacation because if we would have been having tons of fun, we would have been in Alabama when I started hurting.  Blake would have had to juggle me and two kids without any help.

I remember on Wednesday telling Blake that I felt like God was keeping us out of the ocean for a reason and it was kind of creeping me out.  I’ve always said the ocean is like church to me but I couldn’t find peace there this time.

The thing is that in the hustle and bustle of life, I kind of forgot that God has a plan and He takes care of us even when we don’t realize it.  Usually, I try to keep that in mind when I get behind a slow car or things don’t go my way.  I could fill a book with the times He has protected me from myself or danger and I can’t wait to get to heaven to hear about all the other times He protected me.

My appendix is out, I’m finally feeling better and I’ve had a little shake from the Maker of the universe that there’s no need to worry.  He’s got all this under control.

Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?  Matthew 6:26

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Parker Says…

Last night Parker and I had some Royals tickets we couldn’t turn down, even if it was a school night.  So what’s a good, responsible mom to do?  Go to the game, of course.

Parker is a huge Royals fan, always has been.  This year, I notice he’s doing more than learning the players.  He’s really focusing on their stats, facts shared by the announcers and even how the pitchers hold the ball when they pitch.  Does he get bored?  No way, he’s totally in his element!

We happened to be in the front row in left field and in our row, there were only 4 seats.  About halfway through the game, I noticed the nice man was tweeting some of the comments Parker was making.

Here is a highlight of some of Parker’s commentary from the game:

“Royals rule, Tigers drool”  yelled about 37 times throughout the game

“Mom, why does it say Mike hashtag 8 Moustakas?”  That’s not a hashtag son, it’s a number sign

“Mom, do you have head lice?”  Apparently they learned about lice in kindergarten yesterday.

“Look Mom, #41 is pitching to #41”  Very observant kid!

And my favorite, “WE BROKE THE CURSE!!”

Last year, we attended 9 games.  Even though this was the World Series winning season, we only saw the team win 1 time.

We were happy to get a victory!

Here’s to making memories, eating $1 hotdogs and sharing my love for the Royals with the next generation.

I see the light

The past couple of months, I’ve been in a funk.  I’ve felt like nothing has gone the way I thought it should, people have continually disappointed me, and I have fallen into a dark pit.  None of the events were earth shattering, especially compared to the past 18 months of my life.  None the less, I felt myself fall into a darkness and I wasn’t able to pull myself out.  I wasn’t able to remind myself that God always has a plan or remind myself of how blessed I am.  I tried to tell myself all the truths that I know, but they didn’t help.  For the first time in my life, I was sinking with no way out.

I’ve been thinking a lot about my grandma lately.  I miss her so much.  When life wasn’t fair, I would call her and she would listen and then agree with me that I was right.  Who knows if she really thought I was right but she was always on my side.  So many days I went to call her and then realized, there are no phone calls in heaven.

Almost two weeks ago, the kids and I came home from work.  I was reminding each kid what they needed to do when we got home.  When we pulled into the driveway, our cleaning lady’s car was still there (Sidenote:  When I married Blake he had a cleaning lady so I felt there was no reason to ever get rid of her.)  We adjusted our after school chores to accommodate her finishing up and got to work on our after school “stuff”.  After she left, I walked into the kitchen and noticed a couple things she had found while cleaning.  There was a crazy picture Parker had colored and left somewhere and there was a Chick-Fil-A gift card.  I don’t remember ever seeing that gift card before so it peaked my curiosity.  The gift card that was sitting on the counter was from my grandma, in her handwriting.  Some would say that my cleaning lady was doing her job, just picking up something we left laying around.  I choose to believe that it was a little sign that she’s still in my corner, watching and cheering me on.

I usually jump into Spring Break with a to-do list a mile long and/or some big trip planned.  This year has been different.  We had a few things planned.  Paige and I attended an awesome Piano Guys concert and all four of us spent the weekend in KC celebrating Paige’s upcoming birthday.  Mostly, I let my heart and my brain relax.  I didn’t let myself think about any of the negative things that have gotten me down.  If I started to say something about it or think about it, I would physically just stop myself.  I read several really good books.  I walked all over town with my kiddos.  I ate good food.  Through the relaxing quality time I’ve spent with my kids and Blake, I feel like I’m healing.  I’ve got a long way to go, but I can see the light.

I’ve got a long way to go, but I can see the light.

 

The Biggest Little Fixer Upper Fan

Have I told you how awesome this kid is lately?
   

 She’s so generous, kind-hearted, and fun. She has raised hundreds of dollars for the local food pantry. She is beyond patient with a little brother who tries your patience every second. She loves her family, friends, her cat and especially HGTV. 
It is the funniest thing. A couple of months ago Paige became obsessed with all things HGTV. She loves House Hunters, Property Brothers, Flip or Flop but more than all of them she LOVES Fixer Upper. She laughs so hard at Chip’s antics and ooo’s and ah’s over Jo’s beautiful decorating. 
Paige spends her time on Netflix watching Fixer Upper. She fills my DVR with every episode. She watches the episodes over and over even though she has them memorized. 
One day Paige asked if I thought her style was more modern or traditional. That’s a normal question for a 10-year old right?
Paige turns 10 in 2 months. It’s hard to believe she is growing up so fast. We’ve started making birthday plans. It just so happens that Chip and Joanna will be in Kansas City at the Home Show the weekend before Paige’s birthday. We plan to go wait in a long line to get 10 seconds of their time to make her birthday wish come true. 

Choosing

Have you ever listened to this song?  Really listened to the words?

My favorite line in the song is,

“My heart will choose to say, Lord
Blessed be Your name, Lord”

I remember a time, right after one of our dearest friends passed away unexpectedly, this song was sung in church.  I couldn’t sing along.  At that point, I couldn’t choose to just “Bless the Lord” but deep down, I knew some day I would be able to.  Each week, I got closer until I could finally sing the song again.

Isn’t life all about choices?

We choose to start our day with a positive attitude or a negative attitude.  We choose to respond to rude people with the same rudeness or to kill them with kindness.  It’s all about our choices.

We choose what we eat and drink.  We choose how we prioritize our time each day.  We choose who we spend time with.  We choose to dwell on the negative or look for the positive.  Life is full of choices.

I choose to trust God.  I choose to find the good in people.  I choose to believe the best is yet to come.  I choose to make my family the priority in my life.

What are you choosing?

YouTube video:
Uploaded on Nov 21, 2008

The Song Blessed Be Your Name Turned into a worship video made for you to worship our God.

Shake it off…shake it offf

Have you ever heard something bad about yourself and just let it eat you from the inside out?  Even if that something isn’t true, just to know someone thought something negative about you, it’s almost more than you can handle.

Yesterday, I came across some information that listed some feedback about me.  When I first read it, I was immediately so mad.  How dare they say things about me that:

  1.  weren’t true
  2. were hurtful
  3. and were just downright mean spirited

I really stewed on these comments for quite awhile.  It started to have a damper on how my day was going.  I’m not one who usually stews about things.  Usually things just roll off my shoulders without much thought (which drives my husband crazy) but for some reason, this was sticking with me.

I had to have a pep talk with myself and reminded myself that it really doesn’t matter what one person thinks.  If I was as bad as I was made out to be, I wouldn’t have a job, family or friends because who would want to be around me.

It reminded me that I need to just shake it off and move on.  I do need to probably keep my sarcasm in check sometimes because apparently some people don’t understand sarcasm, but as long as I’m being the best me I can be, I’ll shake it off and move on.