Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Winner Winner!!

I'm so sorry that it has taken me a few days to actually post who the winner is for the Ultimate Blog Party and 500th Post Giveaway!   The winner was contacted on Saturday, and the number was drawn using, a random number generator.  The winner was #23 - Aubrey Laine, who entered as many times as she could, and it paid off!! Congrats, Aubrey!  Your $10 Starbucks card is on its way!

I have to admit, as much as I like Starbucks, my favorite coffee shop is Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf.  I love their white chocolate lattes, and I always order it with 1/2 sugar-free vanilla powder, 1/2 white chocolate powder to cut down on the sugar grams.  It is SO good!  Normally a regular size is 460 calories, but with the 1/2 sugar-free vanilla powder, those calories are cut down by at least a third. Still a hefty calorie intake, but  I save it for special occasions; you know, like those days where I have to drop the kids off at school and stuff like that.


Among other news, I am finishing up my 4th month as a photographer's assistant, and I L-O-V-E it.  I'm actually a virtual assistant, doing all of my work on the computer from home.  My boss lives over an hour away, and we have actually never even met in person.  We Skype, email, and talk on the phone, and I work anywhere from 5-10 hours a week.  God has really blessed me with this position, as I was not sure what kind of job would fit in with my boys' schedules.  First I looked into being a virtual assistant through the MAG Group, which services pastors and ministries with administrative help. Shortly after applying there, however, I was offered this job that my brother heard about on Facebook through a friend of his.  If you are looking for a position like this, make a list of all of your skills, and start marketing yourself on Facebook and social networks.  You just never know what could happen!

Soon I'll write another post on how exactly to find a job as a virtual assistant, so if you have any specific questions, please leave a comment and I'll be sure to answer those questions in that post.  Have a great week!

Sunday, April 15, 2012


Things didn't end well tonight.  The amount of strong will in a 4-going-on-14 year old is amazing, to say the least.  He was tired, I was tired.  He was disobeying, I was growing frustrated.  So he got in trouble.  He fought me, I took away his favorite toy.  He threw his blankets off the bed.  I raised my voice.  He yelled through tears of frustration. After almost an hour of a power struggle, finally there was quiet, but I knew he went to sleep with tears in his eyes.  I collapsed on the couch, feeling defeated.

When I went to check on him later, he looked so peaceful, so still, so perfect.  And that is when the waves of guilt washed over me.  I wanted to hold him, to say "I'm sorry," to tell him it will all be alright.  I wanted to whisper in his ear that even when we disagree, it doesn't change my love for him.  For a moment I imagined what life would be like if something happened to him, and the grief was so strong that I had to stop the thought before it even finished.

So he sleeps soundly, and the scene re-plays itself over and over in my mind.

"You're a bad mom!" I hear.
"You are so impatient with him!" I cringe.
"You are going to scar him for life!" I want to run and hide.

My thoughts are my own worst enemy. This mommy-guilt... it is overpowering, it cripples, it blinds.  If I let it, it will destroy me.

And so I have a decision to make - to wallow in the guilt that only mother's know, or choose to accept God's grace for me.  I decide to receive the grace, and for a few moments I let it wash over me.  It feels cold and uncomfortable.  This grace is something so hard to receive that I try to reject it, and let the thoughts overtake me once again.  Yet He keeps pouring it out, over and over.  I fight it, then it comes again. I fight it, it comes again. And again, and again...His grace.. until I am sound asleep.

Tomorrow is new.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Ultimate Blog Party '12 and a GIVEAWAY!!

If you are visiting from the Ultimate Blog Party over at 5 Minutes for Mom, WELCOME!   Each year Janice and Susan throw this amazing party for bloggers, which enables hundreds of us to get to know each other from the comfort of our own living rooms...offices...bedrooms...kitchens, and more.  I have actually made quite a few good friends from blogging, and can attest that these blogger friends can, in fact, become your IRL (in real life) friends as well!

Here at The Wonder Years, I blog about motherhood, faith, and friendship.  I have also written posts about photography (I ran a photography business for 6 years), breastfeeding (I am a Certified Lactation Educator), and ministry (you can visit my ministry page over at  I was previously a guest contributor over at 5 Minutes for Mom, so you may have seen my post there about "Getting Your Photography Business Up and Running."

I started blogging 5 years ago, and this post is my 502nd post!  SO, in honor of my 500th post (which is still being edited because it is very special), I am going to do a giveaway!  Who likes coffee??? Who likes Starbucks??

The winner of this giveway will receive a $10 gift card to Starbucks.  All you have to do is be a follower and leave a comment.  No complex entries here, people!   I want to thank the followers I have had thus far, and welcome any new ones, so everyone who is a follower and leaves a comment will be entered.  You can enter once per day, and the entries close at midnight on Friday, April 20th.

If you'd like to follow me on Twitter, be sure to visit me there too.

Thanks for stopping by!

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

The Long Way Home

Some of my favorite memories happened in high school, when I had the opportunity to go to camp with my youth group.  With 40-50 of us packed in the large schoolbus turned churchbus, we would make the long 2-3 hour drive up the mountain, singing obnoxious songs, playing games, and making faces at other cars passing by.

We were hyper, we were excited, we were loud.  We anticipated what God would do in our lives.  For  winter camp we stayed 2 1/2 days, and for summer camp we stayed 5 days.

I will never forget, though, the contrast between our attitudes on the way up the mountain versus the way down the mountain, heading back home.  Our hearts were heavy, we were tired, we were thankful for all that God did, but most of us did not want to go home.  We wanted to stay on the mountain, to worship with all of our hearts, to have fun with our friends, leaving our worries and cares behind.  Heading down the mountain reminded us all that we were going back to real life, heading back to families with "issues," homework to deal with, jobs, and so much more.

Camp was our vacation, our refuge, our getaway - and for a 15 year old, it was the most exiting thing to happen all year.  Yet those trips back home were quiet - eerily quiet - with many people sleeping from exhaustion, and others quietly wiping away tears because they did not want to go back.

With Easter being just 4 days ago, today I was reminded of these feelings.  There is such a build-up for Easter - the excitement, the preparation, the church services, the clothes, the pictures, the Easter egg hunts, the family get togethers, and for many of us, Spring Break!  It can all be very exciting.  But then we have to get back to real-life, and it is hard.  As we made the long trip home today from our exciting week, that sadness washed over me, just like when I was riding the bus home from camp when I was 15 years old.  

I didn't want to go back to the bills, the cleaning, work, homework, school schedules. I wanted to stay on vacation. I also wanted to stay focused on the Resurrection, the happiness, the excitement of everything Christ did for us.  It's easy to stay focused on those things when everyone is about it, when Easter Sunday is coming, when the fridge is stocked full of yummy food, and everywhere you turn you are reminded of what this season is all about.  But then, Monday comes, and it feels like all the excitement is over. What then?

I wonder if this is how the disciples felt, too.  Jesus rose from the dead, 3 days after He died, just like He said He would!  But then...He ascended to heaven, and they were left behind, trying to grasp everything that had just happened.  It was probably eerily quiet.  Yes, He had just given them the Holy Spirit, so they had a new empowerment and boldness to go tell others about Him. But wow, there was sure a lot to process.  I'm sure there was sadness, a kindof "let down" if you will, that it seemed...over.  What now?

On the way home today, as I pondered all of these things, I was reminded to find things to be thankful for.  Even though I was struggling with coming back home to the laundry, the taxes, and dinner to be made, a small voice spoke to my heart and said, "Find 10 things to be thankful for right now."  So I started thinking of things in my mind to be thankful for - that home that I didn't want to go back to because it represented real-life - "God, I thank you for my home, for the front and back yards that my kids can run around in. I thank you for the food in my fridge that will feed my family tonight. I thank you for a heater to keep us warm in this storm.  I thank you for our kitty who will greet us when we return." (It's the little things, right?)  The one place I didn't want to go back to is exactly what I needed to thank God for.  

I think that is one way to keep going. To get over "the hump" of Monday / the long ride home / the let-down after a big event / the loneliness after all the friends have gone home.  We'll all experience it at one time or another.  God has not gone anywhere; He remains the same. Wherever it is that we don't want to go back to, because it represents stress, things to do, or a person you don't want to see, that is exactly what we need to thank Him for.  Jesus was trying to teach His followers that His presence was just as strong after He left as when He was physically in their midst.  He wants us to learn that same lesson - His presence is just as strong wherever it is hardest to be, as where we feel Him the most.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

The Last Day

He woke me up early, foot in my face.  Our 4 year old had climbed into bed with us again.  I was tired and not looking forward to the day.  Maybe I just woke up on the wrong side of the bed, or maybe it was just weeks of tiredness catching up with me, but I knew I would need coffee this morning.

As my husband took our older son to school, I was left home with Jaden, wondering what we would do all day.  You see, on the days when he is not in preschool, those can be some of the longest days.  It's not that I don't enjoy being with him; I am so thankful for each day I can stay home with him, but he is one child who does not like to play alone.  On the days he is home, I can't get anything done.

I sit at the breakfast table, still waking up, hair all a mess and not saying much.  He jumps up and down and says, "Today is my fun day, mommy!"  I smile, but inside I am thinking of the many things I have to do.  Today is the day I need to clean my office, balance the checkbook, make 4 phone calls, schedule the carpet cleaning, run 2 errands, and so much more. I sigh.

"Play Legos with me, mommy!"  It has begun.  I'm not a very good Lego builder, and the office is calling my name.  I think about it for awhile, sipping my coffee slowly.  I watch him play, waiting for me.  Then it hits me - today is a special day.

Today is the day he is 4 years, 323 days old.  Never again will he be 4 years, 323 days old.  Today is the last day he will be 4 years, 323 days old.

Next month he turns 5. He will never again be 4 years, 323 days old.

In September he starts Kindergarten. He will be gone 5 days a week, 6 hours a day.  I will miss him so much.  I will miss his hugs, his kisses, his laughter.  The house will be too quiet, and I will cry.

He will never again be 4 years, 323 days old.

Next April, he will be ending 1st grade.  He will start to need me a little less.  I will miss him so much.  He is getting bigger.

He is growing fast, and each day he is slipping a little farther away.

Today is a special day, because he is 4 years, 323 days old.  This is the last day he will be that old.

So we play Legos.

Then he wants to play baseball in the back yard.

The office calls my name, but I ignore it.

He asks if we can go to the park to play ball, since he can't hit the hard balls in our backyard.  He gets so excited that I find him sitting in the car, all buckled up.

We play baseball at the park, where he exclaims, "You don't pitch very well, mommy!"

We drive home, and he says, "Ask me my high/low, mommy!"  I ask him and he says, "My high was playing baseball at home, and then at the park with you, and then having snack.  My low was eating breakfast."

I'm glad I was a part of his "high" today, because the day is not even half over.  For the past 4 hours, we played together, because today is a special day.  Today is the day he is 4 years, 323 days old.

We will go on to play more today, and the office will have to wait.

For he will go back to preschool in just a few days, but today he is with me.  Happy 4 year, 323rd day of your birth, special boy.