Friday, December 14, 2012

When the World is Falling Apart

Sometimes, when we hear of something terrible happening in the world, we want to know more.  We want information. We want to know why. We want to empathize with the people who are suffering.

So we turn on the television, the news, the radio - anything where we can get the latest updates, to stay informed, to be aware.

Our hearts ache, we long to help, we wish we were closer to offer a loving embrace and some assistance, even in a small way.

 ABC News
But it can also be distracting.  The very things we turn to in order to help us feel connected can turn against us. The pictures can get lodged in our minds, the cries for help can haunt us at night.  And we begin to fear....and to fear....and to fear.

How we respond is crucial, for little eyes are watching us. Little eyes that trust, that believe in good, that want to live life with freedom.

So is the answer to shut everything off and just shelter our children, and never let them know of the evil going on outside?  Would that be helpful?

As tempted as I am to turn on the news (because I am an information addict), the house is eerily quiet today.  My children do not know what has happened yet.  They are still at school, hearing stories and reading books, their minds in far-away lands of fairy tales and make believe.

What I do with this situation will also stick in their minds forever. How do I tell them?  How much should I say?  Should I show them the truth?

Yet I know that as a mother, it is my job to guard their hearts, to protect them, to shield them from evil as long as I possibly can.

So today, while they are 5 and 7, I will prayerfully consider these things. I do not want to instill fear in my children, but faith that the world can still be good, that people can still be trusted, that God will protect them in their comings and goings.  There will still be many occasions for them to learn about evil in the world. But for today, I may just shield them one more time.

And maybe, with the silence of the television and news being off, I can use that time to pray, because often I spend more time getting informed than I actually do praying for the situation.

If your children already know of this situation or you plan on sharing it with them, head over to Beth's blog at Home Stories A to Z to read her advice on How to Talk to Your Kids About School Shootings. As a former school counselor, she knows.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

25 Days of Christmas Activities!!!

Every year I try to think of 25 fun activities for the boys to do before Christmas, and this year I went on the hunt for some new ideas. On Pinterest you can find a ton of cute ways for the kids to discover what the fun activity will be for the day, but we use our tried-and-true Christmas tree advent calendar that I got at Starbucks years and years ago.


Here is our list for this year:

Decorate for Christmas and put up the lights!!!

Eat a red and green dinner

Read a Christmas book by flashlight

Make a treat to take to the neighbors

Read the story of Jesus’ birth

Have dinner in front of the Christmas tree and watch a movie

Have hot chocolate

Go see the Christmas lights

Have Christmas breakfast for dinner!

Make a Christmas craft

Make Christmas cookies

Camp out under the tree!!

Buy Christmas gifts for each other!  $10 limit

Movie night

Open presents with family!

Newport Beach Boat Parade!!

Go get frozen yogurt!

Visit with Santa on the Santa float and get a candy cane!!!

Make a gingerbread house

Go to Grandma & Grandpa's house

Christmas Day - Celebrate Jesus!

Stay up late 

Go to the mall and ride the Christmas train

Go out to eat

Have a Christmas play-date with friends

In each little box I place one of the items on a slip of paper, along with 2 Hershey's kisses (one for each boy) and a Scripture reading to read before bed (still working on those though).

What ideas would you put on your list?

Friday, November 30, 2012

10 Minutes for You

If I were to ask you, "What did you do for yourself today?"  What would you say?

As mothers we have often a hard time with that question. Doing something for ourselves might make us feel like we're being selfish or not taking care of the kids or not caring about their needs.  Yet this is our full-time job, caring for others, and just as if it was a paid job, we need to take breaks throughout the day.

What you do for yourself might vary depending on the age of your child.  Do you love to exercise and can't find time for it?  When your baby is a newborn or toddler, that might not be something you get to do everyday, but as he grows older, his needs will change and you might find yourself fitting it in somewhere.  Do you love to scrapbook?  Maybe you cannot do that every single day, but you can schedule in a time once a month to do it because it brings you joy. The key is to plan moments for yourself and not feel guilty about it.

Although most of us would likely say that we do something fun for ourselves once or twice a month, I encourage you to daily find something you look forward to - something that will relax you, bring you joy, or be an outlet.  Before you tune me out for being impractical, let me state that I understand it is hard to find time, especially under certain circumstances - if you work, have more than one child, homeschool, etc...  But if you cannot find at least 5 minutes for you at least twice a day, some priorities need to change.

Whenever we do have small pockets of time, we usually try to accomplish something. Today I had 10 minutes and had to call my insurance to work out an issue.  Total pain.  But later on I found 10 minutes again, and this is what I did:

I went in my room, turned off the light, and laid in the dark.  It was quiet.  I was alone. Nobody was jumping on me or asking me to make them a snack for the 100th time.  I could actually hear myself breathing.  After 10 minutes, I got up and emerged from my bedroom with a clearer head and a little more energy.  (You might wonder what my boys were doing during that 10 minutes - they were watching a video at that moment - hallelujah!) :)

Today, what is something small that you can do for yourself with a small pocket of time?

Maybe you would read your Bible.
Or have a cup of coffee.
Perhaps you would take a quick nap, or rest for a bit.
Maybe you would read a magazine article.
Or listen to music
Maybe you'd even (gasp) exercise
Or go outside for a few minutes to get some fresh air

Only you can find what works for you.

But please don't do these things and think it will bring you rest:

Peruse the internet
Email someone
Read a blog
Listen to talk radio
Look for jobs
Write a blog post :)

Because hey, I'm all for enjoying time online, reading (and writing) blogs, but it most likely won't bring you rest or joy.  Find something creative that you can do that will allow you to stop and breathe without adding more noise to your already crowded mind.

So what would you do right now if you had 10 minutes?

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Who Can You Believe In?

Over lunch with a friend, she had tears in her eyes as she told me how one of her dreams had started to come true - a ministry she had told me about a year earlier that had been on her heart was now becoming reality.

"You were the only one who believed in me," she said.

"Really?" I replied, surprised.  I didn't understand. Her dream was not far-fetched; it was just something on her heart that she felt God calling her to do.  All I remember saying is that she could do it; I knew she could!

Unfortunately when she went to others, they weren't so encouraging.  People reminded her that "it had been done before and didn't work," "we've already tried that," and "there are others more qualified who could do the same thing."

It made me sad to hear that.  How hard is it just to encourage somebody? When they have an idea, how hard is it to just say, "I believe in you!"  Apparently it is really hard for some people. I understand; I have been one of those people many times before. As a "realist," not an "idealist," I am the first to think about the many details that can often be overlooked.  But as I get older, I am realizing that what is more important is not being the expert or stating the details involved, but just to believe in other people and support their dreams.  Let God handle the details, and let God show that person what to do next.

I hope and pray that I have more opportunities to encourage people in their dreams.

Two years ago someone did this for me- I told her of my dream to write a book, and she was the first person to say, "I know you can do it, and I will support you no matter what."  It made a huge difference, because every time I feel like giving up, I remember her words.

Today I saw this video on Facebook, and it was so moving that I had to share it.  One person believed that this man could overcome insurmountable obstacles, and that is what helped him to achieve his goal.  Incredible.  Take a few moments to watch this video; it will amaze you!

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Living in the Moment

I was recently talking with a wise friend who shared this with me, and I wanted to pass it on:

"Depression happens when we're living in the past. Anxiety happens when we're living in the future.  We need to live 'present-tense' in the now, fully immersed in whatever it is we're doing."

That statement really rang true for me.  We tend to live either in the past or the future.  For me, it's the future.  I'm continually thinking of things that I need to do, goals I want to achieve, or things that could happen.

Others live primarily in the past, wishing they could change things that happened, or feeling guilty.

It can be hard to live in the present.  Sometimes I feel like I'm living with adult ADHD, barely able to focus on the task right in front of me.  On one hand, I thrive on multi-tasking - but it becomes a problem when I can no longer focus on one thing well.

She went on to say,

"If you're doing dishes, do the dishes (focus on doing that to the best of your ability).  If you're in a conversation, be in the conversation (focus).  If you're doing laundry, do the laundry."  Focus, focus, focus.  For me, when I'm working, I need to work. When I'm mothering, I need to mother well.  When I'm studying, study.  Distractions will never go away, but I can still work on being focused on what is right in front of me. 

If we somehow learned the art of focusing, we could avoid so many spiraling thoughts.  We wouldn't worry so much about what people are thinking about us. We wouldn't dwell on our mistakes as much.  We wouldn't fret about the future so often.  Our minds might just be open enough to hear that still, small whisper of God that longs to speak to our hearts.

Jesus even teaches this concept in Matthew 6:33-34:  But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

This video for Ann Voskamp's 1000 gifts illustrates this so well. Take a moment to watch.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

A 5 Year Old's Anxiety

This morning was rough.  We got the boys ready for school, and 15 minutes before we had to leave, the revolt happened.

The 5 year old was NOT. GOING. TO. GO.

It started with the shoes.  "They are too tight!" then "I have a blister!" "I cannot gooooooo!" He wailed.

Then it turned to what happened yesterday: "I got hit in the face with a soccer ball!  And I don't want to play anything else; it's all BORING!"  Huge tears rolled down his face.

Then it got heavier and the sobs came and came and came.  "I have to erase my letters so much," he cried, and I felt for him.  Our 7 year old has the perfectionist gene as well.

"And I don't want to go to the computer lab. I don't know how to type the letters!" he cried some more.

We tried to get him into the car, but it became a chase. He dodged and hid behind chairs, under the table, behind the couch...and our other son was going to be late...again.

So I took Micah to school and left Martin and Jaden behind.  It's hard enough when 1 parent doesn't know what to do with their child, but when 2 parents don't know what to do - well, what do you do then?

I prayed the whole way there with a lump in my throat.  I hate seeing him sad; I hate seeing him struggle.  I felt like a horrible mom.  Yet I also didn't want him thinking that he could stay home anytime he didn't feel like going.

I dropped Micah off and went back home.  They were still sitting in the same spot as when I left.  Martin and I looked at each other with confusion- what do we do?

We decided to wait 1 hour and then try it again. He's already missed 6 days of school for being sick, and we don't want him to miss anymore if we can help it.

I sat at my desk and held him, and asked for prayer on Twitter.  People prayed.

At 10am we tried again. More screaming, more crying, more chasing.  But this time we had to at least try it.  We struggled and put him in the car, and I'm sure all the neighbors heard him.  His screams turned to sobs again and tears welled up in my eyes.  Are we doing the right thing?

When we arrived at the school, his class was leaving for recess, and the kids called out his name with excitement.  "Jaden's here!" but it didn't help. He buried his head in Martin's neck and wouldn't let go.

We filled out the late slip, sat on the bench and waited...and waited...

I reminded Jaden that school is a safe place, that his teacher cares about him, that his friends love him. I reminded him that angels are there protecting him.  He nodded.

And then I saw his teacher out of the corner of my eye. She came and sat with us. She asked what was wrong, she consoled him, she listened.  She said he is one of her best students, that she misses him when he's gone, that if anything ever happens to him, he can tell her.  She told him how easy and fun the computer lab is, and that he doesn't need to erase his work because he does such a good job.  His eyes grew brighter as she talked, and his heaviness lifted a bit.

"Come on, Jaden; will you go with me to pick the kids up from recess?" and she reached out her hand and took his small hand in hers.

I have had many moments where I worry about my son, where I wonder if he is okay, when I question if public school is the best choice for him.  There are many things I wish we could do differently. Yet today I was reminded that God cares about little hearts and little hands, and He watches over His own.  I left with a heart full of thankfulness for my son's school and his teacher, and that I can leave him in safe and loving hands.

It takes a little time, sometimes....

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Mom Talk: Kids & Technology

How much technology should our kids be exposed to?  Do you set limits with your kids?  If so, what works for you?

Here is a short video of what has worked for our family:

Kids & Technology from Jaimie Bowman on Vimeo.

View Mom Talk Episode 1: Loneliness in Motherhood

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Merging Blogs

Hi Everyone!!

I am in the process of merging this blog with my new blog  My hope is that Jaimie will be a combination of every facet of life that I love: my faith, family, leadership, speaking and writing.  The bonus is that you will only have to come to one blog instead of two!

If you haven't done so already, would you please consider becoming a follower or subscriber at the new site

Thank you for your patience!

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Trick-or-Treating at a Sex Offender's House

On Halloween night last year, we made a horrifying discovery after we came home and put the boys to bed. We went trick-or-treating at a sex offender's house.

I know. I was horrified too.

While we were walking up and down the blocks near our house, I vaguely remembered that a few years prior I had been on the Megan's Law website and saw that a sex offender lived in our neighborhood (a block over), but could not remember where exactly.  I told my husband, "I'm sure his lights will be off. After all, it's illegal for them to hand out candy on Halloween."


After we put the boys to bed, I looked up the Megan's Law website.  I typed in the zip code and saw the red dot dangerously close to our house.  The photo came up of the man, and I called my husband in the room. We looked at each other with wide eyes - it was him.

There was a certain house we went to, and I walked our older son up to the door. The man seemed nice, but I had a creepy feeling. He looked at my son, smiled, and gave him some candy, and we left.  But it was him.

For awhile I really freaked out. I felt like a horrible parent.  I had trouble getting to sleep, knowing that I had just put my son in the worst situation possible - the presence of a registered sex offender; one who had committed "lewd and laviscious acts with a child under age 14."

I had to really pray that night for peace.

The next morning I called a friend and told her how I was feeling, and she reassured me.  "We are around people like that all the time and we don't even know it."  It's true.  We don't know the strangers who live in our neighborhoods, who we come into contact with on the streets, in grocery stores, at gas stations.  It's a scary world we live in.

I called the police and spoke to a detective in the sex crimes division. "Unless he is on probation or parole," she said, "there is nothing we can do. He is allowed to hand out candy." She looked him up for me.  "He is not on probation or parole, so he is really no different from any other neighbor out there.  Except that people who have committed crimes like this often do repeat them, so it is wise to be aware and check out the website regularly. Even your kid's friends houses - if they want to go play, look the address up.  You can also write your local congressman and ask for the laws to be changed.  I'm sorry there is nothing we can do."

I felt helpless. Seriously, nothing they can do?  We don't know how long ago his crime was. Statistics vary on how often sex offenders repeat - but most studies show it is a rate between 50-90%.

Does that mean that we should lock our doors and keep our kids inside at all times?  That's not our plan. We are very vigilant about watching our kids and being careful who they are around.  When they are outside playing, we keep a very close on on them at all times (thankfully they are not in view of this convicted sex offender and he does not know where we live).  Yet no matter how hard we try to protect our kids, there will always be bad people in the world.

What is the solution?  We do our best to protect our children, and we trust God with their lives. We educate ourselves, and we do our research.  It is just a shame that the law doesn't protect people more from people with this horrible behavior.

This time, we know better.

I would highly encourage you to check the Megan's Law website before you go out trick-or-treating.  Be aware of who your neighbors are, and learn from our mistake.  And always go trick-or-treating with your kids.

This is one mistake we hope to never make again!

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Halloween Decisions

There are a few houses on our block that are decorated for Halloween, and ours was not one of them - until last Saturday. While I was inside the house, the neighbor kids descended upon our front yard and decided that our house needed to be decorated too. Unbeknownst to me, 5 neighbor kids (as well as my own), started bringing their leftover decorations to my front yard and they went to town.  I heard laughter and fun, and just assumed that they were playing as usual. When I went to check on them, I found our entire front yard and porch thoroughly decorated for Halloween, with spider webs slung everywhere, fake spiders hanging, and even Halloween stickers all over our front bannister.  I did not have the heart to stop them.  Micah ran inside and pulled out ALL of our craft supplies, and every child sprawled out on our front sidewalk and started cutting and coloring pictures of bats, spider-webs, and even vampires. 

At that point, I saw three options in front of me:

Option 1 - I could sit them all down in a circle and start to explain the perils of Halloween, and tell them all why we don't celebrate that holiday (well, we don't "celebrate" it, but we do go trick-or-treating, which some would say is celebrating, but we don't say that). Yes, I could have taken that moment to evangelize these 5, 6, and 7 year olds and tell them why we are different.

Option 2 - I could continue to let the kids decorate our house, accepting the fact that memories were being made and the kids were having a blast, and then tear down the decorations later.

Option 3- the same as Option 2, but I could leave the decorations up.

I chose Option 3.  I know it is not the decision many of my friends would have made.  I know it is a bit confusing to some that the "pastor's house" is decorated for Halloween.  And I know that some would feel that I made the wrong decision.  But I feel that this decision not only created a fun day for all of these kids, but it is creating conversations as well.  I honestly feel like the kids would have been hurt and confused if I would have torn down the decorations that they had worked so hard on.  Right now I am more concerned with their hearts than their actions (actions that weren't bad anyway, but would be interpreted that way if I tore everything down).

So what's the big deal anyway?  Well, to some this isn't a big deal at all. But to others, this is a huge deal because we could be seen as supporting Halloween and celebrating it.  Only we're not doing that.  I admit, I too am confused by the houses that have gory decorations and then throw a big cross on their front yard at Christmas-time.  So, I never wanted to confuse anyone. We do not glorify evil, and we do not celebrate Halloween. But we do accept that day as a normal event in our culture that can be turned into something good.

When I was growing up and my dad was a pastor, I remember going to church and watching videos about the history of Halloween and the reason we should not partake in any of its festivities. But I also have memories of dressing up as Anne of Green Gables, Laura Ingalls Wilder, Pippy Longstocking, and more, and going to Harvest Parties and even trick-or-treating. Those are some of my very favorite memories growing up.  Do I feel like participating in that way somehow affected me spiritually and caused me to not be as close to God? No, not at all.  Actually, those were alternatives that allowed me to have fun, stay safe, and be with my friends.

So, this year you will find us out trick-or-treating with our kids, and you will find us with our light on, passing out candy. Not because of what the holiday meant in the past, but because of what it means for us as a family today.  We can still be a light in the darkness, and we want our home to be a welcoming place to everyone, at anytime, especially if they're walking up to our door!  What a great opportunity to meet our neighbors and have fun. 

That is why we do participate in Halloween. However, I realize that many of my friends may make an entirely different choice, and I understand why and respect that. But please don't demonize (no pun intended) those of us who do choose to turn our light on and open our doors to trick-or-treaters, or even go out and mingle with them.  Even if there is no motive to evangelize, but just simply to have fun, I think that is okay too- but that is just my personal opinion. What I do not feel good about is other believers who make us feel badly for our choice, because of a personal choice they have made.  It reminds me of the whole public school debate (those who say we should not put our children in public school because we are indoctrinating them with worldly beliefs and exposing them to certain things).  I don't subscribe to that logic either.

God has called us to be the light of the world, not hide the light inside of houses, or turn the light off when things get uncomfortable (and pretend we're not home).  Just my two cents. 

So, if you're out trick-or-treating this year, we'll leave the light on for you.  We're the house with all the spider webs, pictures in the window, and stickers on the bannister.  And we might even have a pumpkin carved with a big cross in it :)

Friday, October 19, 2012

Loneliness in Motherhood (MomTalk)

I am so excited about this new video-blog series that is starting.  I decided to call it "Mom Talk" (original, huh?) ;)  and deal with some of the questions and comments that I hear often after speaking to mothers.

In this short clip, I respond to the question "What was the hardest thing for you to deal with when you became a stay at home mom?"  One of the top answers I receive to this question is "Loneliness."

Take a look at this video and let me know what you think. I would love to hear your recommendations for the issue of loneliness in motherhood as well.  Also, if you have a question you would like answered in this series, please leave a comment.

Thanks for "tuning in"!!! :)

Loneliness in Motherhood from Jaimie Bowman on Vimeo.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Everyone Has a Story

One of the speakers we heard from at the Re:Write Conference was a man named Peter Strople ("the most connected man in America").  I will be honest, before the conference I did not know who this man was. When he walked up to the registration table where I was working, I was immediately struck by his gentle tone and eyes.  He has a way making people feel like a friend right away.

During his seminar, he spoke about how each person we meet has a story.  He turned towards the cameraman and asked him to come on stage.  Now, I had seen the cameraman working behind the scenes and noticed his "rocker" type look (he really did look famous, but I thought he was just a "cool dude" cameraman with his black hair and black clothes).  The cameraman joined Peter onstage and he was introduced as Marc.  It turned out that Marc was a guitarist for the group Slash and has played before millions of people.  Marc is also a committed follower of Jesus Christ, and soft-spokenly told us of his love for his family and how he has loved getting to share Jesus with people he meets after his shows.

Peter's interview with Marc was powerful, because it reminded each of us that everyone around us is important. No, everyone may not be a famous guitar player, but they have amazing stories nonetheless. Peter taught me to stop, listen, and learn from the people around me.  He also taught humility and genuineness from example; it poured out from who he was.  When you meet Peter, he looks you in the eye, calls you by name, and remembers you. Who does that?!  :)

That seminar really impacted me, because I was reminded to notice the people I pass by on a regular basis.  I am now remembering that they have a story, and that I should stop and listen to them. 

-Like the mom at my son's school who I passed by every day. She was friendly, and we would say hi, but that was about it. Then I found out that she was going to have brain surgery because she had a tumor the size of a softball growing inside of her brain. If they couldn't get it out right, they might have to saw her jaw in half to get access to it through the front.  Suddenly she wasn't just "that kid's mom" - she was someone I cared about. I couldn't stop thinking about her, and so I started to pray for her.  (Her surgery went well and she is recovering). She had a story.

-I thought about the woman I met in my son's preschool class.  I sat next to her during the Mother's Day tea.  We made eye contact and said hello, but that was it.  It turned out that she was an author and speaker who was making an amazing impact all over the world. We went out to coffee, and she encouraged me to step out in new ways that I was afraid of.  If it wasn't for her, I would have never gone to the Re:Write Conference.  She had a story. 

-I thought about a woman in my church who I sat by every week, who would kindly ask how I was.  We chit-chatted, but it was nothing big.  Then one day she told me her story. We became friends.  And then I held her hand as she passed away from cancer earlier this year.  She had a story.

Peter reminded me to stop and notice those around me, because just listening to their story can make a huge impact in their lives. It can make a huge impact on OUR lives.  So, who is around you? Who are you just passing by on a daily basis?  Whose story do you need to hear?  Stop and listen. Everyone has a story.

(Want to hear more? Read Julianna's incredible story here).

Apple Picking

A few weeks ago we had the opportunity to go camping with our church family.  About 40 of us went and pitched our tents in a gorgeous campground-park only about 10 minutes from Oak Glen. If you have never been to Oak Glen, it is an apple farm community with cute stores, apple picking, an1800's schoolhouse, parks, and a colonial village with re-enactments.  SO much fun! 

We only got to stay 1 night since Martin had to be back for church on Sunday, but we packed a lot in.  It is always nice to camp with other families since the kids have friends to play with, and I think we had a total of about 10 kids that played from sun-up to sun-down.

Here is the gorgeous view from our tent:

On the second day, a few families (including us), drove to Oak Glen and went apple picking and raspberry picking together.  I got a few shots before my camera broke, and I was only able to retrieve these photos due to a file recovery program :(

We are so thankful to be a part of such a great church family, who not only prays together but plays together! :)  The kids from church also go to my kids' school, so we see them all week long. This was a huge answer to prayer for me, as we went for a few years with our kids being the only ones their age in Sunday School. AND they all live close by too!  God has blessed us and we are so thankful.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Searching For God's Will

Exciting things have happened the last two weeks, as I was able to attend a writer's conference and get an appointment with a book agent.  As I arrived home, I have been met by excitement and questions from others.  Those close to me know that this has been on my heart for a long time; it has been a dream that I never really thought would come true.  Although nothing has technically happened, I finally feel that I am taking small steps forward in the realization of these goals.

Yet something keeps weighing heavy on my heart.  I hear comments about this "dream finally coming true," that I'm "moving forward in God's will for my life," and that God has been "preparing me for this moment."  The problem is, I disagree with all of those things.

You see, when I was younger (in Bible college), I was taught and believed that God had a specific will for my life that was going to be amazing.  He was going to use me mightily.  His had a calling on my life that was powerful.  I believed these things and looked forward to them. I prayed every day about this perfect will that was supposed to be coming my way.  I sought opportunities that lined up with all of these words of affirmation. But nothing BIG seemed to happen.  Then I got disappointed. I felt like God forgot about me.  Year after year I struggled with this - this feeling like I had a call on my life that had not yet materialized.

And so now that supposedly BIG things are happening in my life; does that mean that this is it?  It's finally here?  I'm finally entering into God's will that had been talked about for so long?

No.  I say no.  You know what I've learned?  Every single day that I have lived up until this moment has been just as much a part of God's will for me as any big moment that might happen (or not).  Every single day!  Every boring day, where nothing seemed to happen, was just as crucial to my heart and my relationship with God as the realization of some dream.   Every moment where I held my children close to me and wondered if God forgot about me, and if I'd ever get to do the things I dreamed about or I would be stuck in my house forever and ever - all of those moments were His will and His plan for me. Those moments were important to my heart, my character, and my relationship with Him.  Was He preparing me for bigger things?  No, not bigger. He was preparing me for other things.  I was already doing the big things but just didn't know it.

You know what else I've learned?  So much of those dreams are really about us. We feel that if we accomplish something big, our lives will mean something more.  If we get that book deal, if we get that job, if we get our degree, if we just, if we just, if we just.  And life becomes more and more about ME instead of about HIM.   Now, I don't disagree with having dreams - please don't misunderstand.  I just disagree with the thinking that those dreams being realized are more important than where you are at on the way.

I know that disappointment of hearing good news from a friend and wishing it was you.  I know those thoughts that say, "When will my time come?"  But I have realized that time is already here, and we are missing it.  If I could give advice to myself 5 years ago, I would say, "Stop waiting for something grandeous to happen, that is really about you, and recognize that God's hand is on your life right now! You are in His will.  He has called you by name, and He does have a calling on your life - and it is right where you are.  Whatever happens next is also a part of His will for you, but it is no more important than the average day you have before you right in this moment."

Those average days involved staying home with my 2 kids. They involved doing the dishes, washing the clothes, taking endless walks to the park, planning the meals, and repeating the same cycle over and over.  Yet THAT was God's will for me at that time.  And this now, this is just the next thing.  I don't want my life to be dependent on my circumstances to find joy.  I want to find my joy in Him, no matter the season, because it's all part of His calling.

What about you? Are you waiting for the next big things, or do you see God's will as right where you are?

Sunday, September 23, 2012

"Just Write"- The Re:Write Experience

This weekend I had the amazing opportunity to attend the Re:Write Conference in San Diego.  As a blogger for over 6 years, I have always written as a hobby and it was literally my "therapy" as a stay-at-home mom, but I never really took it more serious than that. Blogging has connected me with so many amazing women, and I truly believe it has been a ministry for me to reach out to others.

It wasn't until last year that I started taking writing more seriously and felt like God was calling me into a season where I needed to actually focus and refine my words.  I was in a season where nothing seemed to be happening around me, doors were closing, and I felt discouraged, yet something very deep was happening inside of me.  That season led me to refining what I felt called to write about, and it was towards the end of last year that I heard about the Re:Write Conference.  I thought it would be neat to attend, but didn't think it would be a reality for me financially.

Through a series of God-events, I ended up there this weekend.  Immediately I was struck by the humility of each of the attendees. I have been to many conferences over the years and have always felt an "air of comparison."  I remember going to a church conference 3 years ago, and feeling like I didn't fit in because I wasn't dressed cool enough, and I just wasn't cool enough. Sad - right?  At a church conference.  But this one - the Re:Write Conference - was just so different.  The speakers were mulling around, meeting every attendee and genuinely interested in who we were and what we wanted to write about. They gave out their personal cell phone numbers, they encouraged us, and on the last day they HUGGED all of us like we were old friends.  Seriously?!!  These were people like George Barna, Mark Batterson, Paul Young (author of The Shack), Peter Strople, Julie Barnhill, Mary DeMuth - and the list goes on and on.  We were all just amazed at their humility and kindness to us.

Another thing that struck me was the theme of worship - almost every speaker touched on how our writing is worship to God.  Glory was being given to God over and over, and we were reminded to not find our value in our work, in whether or not we get published, but to find our value in Christ alone.  We were encouraged to write for an audience of one, to not give up, and over and over I heard the phrase "Just Write."  Do you remember my blog post where I said those were the 2 words God had spoken to my heart last year?  Just Write.  Tears came to my eyes every time I heard those words; it was as though God was reminding me "you are supposed to be here!"

I cannot even count the number of amazing people I met who have awesome books in the works. I went to the conference alone, not knowing anyone, and left with 200 new friends.  I'm not joking - these people are my friends now!  You can check out some of their blogs below.

I will write another post with the details of what the speakers talked about, but just wanted to give a quick synopsis for those who have asked about the conference.  I left more inspired than ever to continue writing and finish my book, and I'm so excited!

The next Re:Write Conference will be held in the Fall of 2013 in Austin, Texas. Start saving now and plan to go!  I hope to see you there!!

Be sure to check out these amazing writers and my new friends!

Ruth Rutherford:
Lori McClure:
Kirsten Strawn:
Jen Sandbulte:
Dr. Angie Welikala:
Jenn Hoskins:
Tim and Samantha Keller:
Sarah Markley:
Jeannie Burlowski:
Renee Fisher:
Maria Keckler:
Erin Ulrich:
Kurt Bubna:
Julianna Morlet:
Marie Osborne:
Nathan Magnuson:
Savannah Hartman:

(If you were at Re:Write and I missed mentioning you, please leave me a comment so I can add your blog!) :)

Monday, September 10, 2012

A New Normal

Everything so far has been leading up to THIS.  This = the week that both of my boys are in school full-time. For 7 years I stayed at home with my boys, devoting all of my time and energy to them, and they have just flown from my nest and settled in at school.  (Excuse me while I get some tissue).

Last week Jaden started Kindergarten, and he was excited to go. It was a relatively easy transition because he only had to be in school until noon - enough time for me to run one or two errands and rush back to pick him up. But today- today it begins. Today we dropped him off and he will be there for LUNCH, and picked up at 2pm.  I don't know - the thought of my baby boy eating lunch without me there to watch him just gets me every time.  I cry just thinking about it.  I can't put my finger on it - am I afraid he'll choke on something? Am I afraid he won't be able to open his crackers?  Am I afraid he won't have someone to sit with?  I admit, all of these things have passed through my mind.  But mostly, I will miss my little buddy.

Micah started 2nd grade, and although that is a big moment as well, he has had 2 years of full-time school to prepare for that.  He has his friends, he's adjusted, and he looks forward to going (for the most part).  I had a hard time leaving him for Kindergarten too, but still had Jaden at home with me to keep my mind busy from thinking about it too much.

 (He would not let me take any pictures of him on his first day, so I snuck this one really quick) :)

Now the house is eerily silent - and it's only been 28 minutes since I dropped them off.  I hear thoughts like "Go to the beach!" or "Go visit that new store that just opened!" or "Finally you can get some work done!"  but really, I want to go spy on them through binoculars at the park above the school.  (You didn't hear me say that).

So, what will I do with myself ALL DAY?  Well, for starters I will thank God that He brought me through one of the toughest seasons of my entire life - staying home full-time with my boys for the past 7 years.  In that time, he shaped me and molded me and sharpened me and disciplined me and changed me.  Now He wants to do something new in me.  I will need to make time to spend with God and allow Him to speak to me.  It was easy to let that go before - the kids were always interrupting - but now I have a wide open space for Him to speak.

What else will I do?  For starters, I'll be able to complete all of my work while the boys are at school. It is not easy working from home and having kids at home full time, so now I'll be able to get it all done so that I can be un-distracted when they get home.  That is something I've been waiting for a long time. There is a heavy guilt that many moms feel for having to work from home while their kids are running around and pulling on them for attention.  That pressure will be taken off, which is nice.

You won't find me watching daytime TV, eating bon-bons, or taking leisurely strolls on the beach.  I might be able to fit those things in here or there, but for the most part my days will be full. 

It has all come down to this - this new season...and I'm ready for it - just as soon as I blow my nose and re-apply my makeup.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

God Surprises

I've never been one for surprises - in fact, I've been known to find out about a few surprises that were planned for me because of my controlling inquisitive nature.  Like the time a big surprise party was planned for me at my favorite restaurant many years ago.  I had plans for that night with a friend, but my husband kept telling me I couldn't do it.  "But it's my birthday! I can do what I want to!" I exclaimed.  But he was adamant that I could not do what I wanted to that night (although he seemingly had nothing else planned for me in it's place).  Well, after much hoo-hah, I found out about the party.  I walked in to 15 of my closest friends yelling "surprise" and, of course, felt like a fool for ever making a big deal out of it.

Fast forward to today...I still don't like surprises, but mainly when I know something is up - but just don't know what it is.

And yet this week I found myself surprised by God.  This week was like a bunch of little surprise parties that He was throwing me.  I know that in life, there are seasons of great disappointment and heartache, and then there are the times when God surprises you out of the blue, just to remind you that He sees you and He loves you.

The first one was our trip to Yosemite.  Our car broke down last week and we had no air conditioner.  We did not want to travel through 100 degree days with no air.  I looked into renting a vehicle, without the intent to rent, but got an amazing deal on a rental car.  When we got there to pick it up, they upgraded us for free, and we drove away in a brand new GMC Acadia with this air conditioner that automatically detected the temp in the car and kept it steady the entire time.  I tell you, we felt like we were riding in style.  It was such a fun surprise!

We had little surprises all throughout that trip, like seeing old friends and spending time with them.  Upon returning from our trip, we got 2 suprise packages in the mail. One from the friend we got to visit on our trip - she sent me this awesome book!

Order Here.
Later in the day we got another package, and inside was UNO Attack - the game we played in Yosemite with our hosts at the cabin. The boys were in love with this game, so they decided to surprise us and send it to us when we returned home!

Order Here.

This week also brought the surprise that another friend's adopted baby was born.  They have waited a long time for this, through much heartache and pain (including a failed adoption last year). They were chosen a few months ago to be the birth parents of this baby, but the birth mother went into labor sooner than expected, and they are returning home today with their new baby boy!  The biggest surprise was that they were cleared to bring the baby home only 8 days later (unheard of for an out-of-state adoption)!

Lastly, earlier this year there was a conference that I was going to that I was greatly looking forward to. However, when the conference dates were moved, it fell on my wedding anniversary weekend.  I informed them I would not be attending, and disappointment settled inside.  But this week my husband asked me if I still wanted to go, since we had to change our anniversary plans.  When I emailed to find out if I could still attend the conference, they said YES, and I will get to go after all! This is a writer's conference that will help to inspire writers, and I'm praying God will give me more direction with writing as I attend.  I'm so excited!

I know sometimes it is hard to hear about surprises like these, when you are so desperately needing one of your own.  Maybe you're discouraged and just need to know God understands.  I have so been there. I have found myself jealous of other people's surprises.  I just want to encourage you today that maybe God is surprising you in small ways - be careful not to overlook even the slightest blessings in your day.  I really believe that He loves surprising His children!  And we can find delight in other's surprises too (like my friend's adoption), because He wants to encourage us through those things too.  He has not forgotten YOU today, too!  :)

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Vacation Thoughts

One thing a vacation should do for you is allow you space and time to experience. As I write this, I am sitting in a bedroom, in the dark, on the floor, in a cabin in Yosemite, as my family sleeps around me.  It is 12:01am and they are all sleeping soundly, but I am up thinking. It is so quiet that I can finally hear myself think.  It only took driving 300 miles away from home to make it happen :)

Tonight I am thinking some anxious thoughts...anxious about my baby - my 5 year old - starting Kindergarten next week. Who will his teacher be?  Will he know anyone in his class?  Will he feel nervous?  Will he feel sad? Who will comfort him if he is upset?  Tonight he is sleeping on the top bunk of a bunkbed- his first time ever doing that. He is growing up so fast.  I thought letting him go would be easier this time, since I already went through this once before with Micah. But it isn't any easier.  He is still my baby.

Tonight I'm thinking some proud thoughts... proud of Micah, my 7 year old, for all of the growth he has experienced lately. He has become very affectionate and loving, coming out of the stage where he resisted my comfort for awhile. He has overcome many of his fears this past year, and will be starting 2nd grade next week.  Instead of feeling anxious, I feel excited for him that he gets to go back to a school he loves and see his friends again. Tonight he won 2 games of UNO that we played in the cabin, and he said, "I love winning, because it makes me think that I'm going to win the Olympics one day!" :)

Tonight I'm thinking some thankful thoughts..thankful for my husband and all he does for our family, for his patience and love towards me, and his amazing fathering skills. He is such a great dad.  He woke up early with the boys at 7am and took them out fishing so that I could sleep in, then took them again the afternoon so I could get a nap. Seriously!  Don't hate me; I know it's rare but I'm so thankful!

As always, late at night my thoughts tend to drift towards the future... what will we be doing? Where will we be living?  Will our goals be reached?  Will certain things change?

But for right now... I sit in the dark, at midnight, in a room on the floor, feeling thankful for what God has given me.  We aren't perfect, we aren't rich, we have issues and needs and bills and problems, but God is.....near.  It's just nice to sit in His creation and be able to really see it and feel it.  And all that stress I felt last week with getting ready to come?  You guys were right, it was worth it :)

Friday, August 24, 2012

Modern Inconveniences

My mind has been going one hundred different directions lately and I have been overwhelmed.  We are preparing to go on vacation, but there are so many things to take care of before we go that we have almost cancelled twice.  This is a month where everything seems to have broken in our house and with our cars.  One of our cars has been in the shop 6 times for all different issues in the last 2 weeks, and now the air conditioner is broken right before we take a trip. Our other car is literally too small to fit all of our stuff for our big trip.

First world problems, I know.  There are people with real problems and here I am complaining about luxury items - small inconveniences when you look at the big picture.  Today I realized that I'm really just spoiled - I have come to expect air conditioning when on a long, hot trip.  I have come to expect transportation and always having two cars available.  I have come to expect a new computer, even though I have 2 other backups.  I have come to expect shades on my windows (we woke up one morning and they were on the ground, broken).  We have come to expect so many things, and when those things let us down, we go into a tailspin.  It shows how much of our happiness revolved around stuff, and how easily we let these things affect our mood, our outlook, our relationships, and more. 

This is also how the consumer mentality begins, and how easy it is to get into debt if we don't stop our thoughts and just learn to be content.

I read this post by Tiffany Noth yesterday, and it came at just the right moment. I rarely have time to read blogs anymore, but when I do, I love when they speak directly to something my heart needs to hear. 

Then I read this post by Daniel Parkins, and it reminded me to be thankful for what I have - my health and my family.  My struggles are incomparable to what some are called to walk through.

In three days we will be in Yosemite, marveling at God's creation - and everything will fall into place.  His creation has a way of doing that to our outlook on life.  Lord, help me to find that perspective here in this place, and not just when I get away from it all.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Coming Home!

The husband returns today after 5 days of being away at youth camp with our church youth group.  He has not been away this long in a few years; the last time being 7 days away when both of the boys were 1 and 3 and simultaneously had the stomach flu. This time went MUCH better.

I decided to take off and go to my parent's house, mainly due to the fact that I do not sleep at all when my husband is gone.  I hear every noise imaginable and freak out all night long.  Twice when he was gone, I called the police because I thought someone was breaking into the house. One time I saw a figure in the backyard, and it turned out that it was the reflection of a large vase I had put outside to dry, reflected onto the garage door wall.  It was pear-shaped - totally looked like a large, pear-shaped man coming to get me. 

The next time, I heard footsteps and had a panic attack (literally), and finally got the courage to walk slowly down the hall.  I opened the boy's room expecting to find an attacker, and found Jaden sitting on the bottom bunk, sucking on a lollipop that he had gotten a hankering for at 2am.  He was sitting in the shadows of his bottom-bunk light that was turned on, and it was freaky

So, as you can see, I thought it would probably be best to steal away to my parent's house, where my dad's gun collection (and my dad) would protect me no matter what.  I slept soundly, other than being in the same room with the boys while we played musical beds all night. 

Since the boys are older now, things were much easier.  I did become quite lonely missing my husband, and having nobody to tell all my boring daily details too (except my mom, but she's not my husband).

It was over 100 degrees where my parent's live, so I went on the hunt for a small pool we could set up.  Finally I found one at Rite-Aid, of all places, and $29.99 later, we were in business.  The boys have been in that pool for 3 days straight now! 

Is it just me, or when your husband goes out of town, do you automatically start having more appreciation for military members and their wives?  And single mothers, too?  I don't know how they do it.

While nothing exciting happened (thankfully - we don't need anymore trips to the ER), we had a good week and I am sure it made us all appreciate being together more.  We have 3 short weeks left until school starts - until my baby (age 5) starts Kindergarten, and Micah starts 2nd grade. I am cherishing each and every moment until they go.

Welcome Home, Dad!

Saturday, August 11, 2012

My Top 5 Favorite Beauty Products

As I age, I have noticed that it is getting harder and harder to look presentable.  Seriously, folks.  If I wake up and go to the grocery store without doing my hair and makeup (which usually entails just some cover-up, lip gloss and throwing my hair in a ponytail), I scare people.  I used to be able to get away with it, but not anymore.

Here are 5 of my favorite beauty products:

1) The Brazilian Blowout.  Two friends and I bought a "Groupon" coupon, and paid $99 for lunch and a Brazilian Blowout.  It was....amazing, to say the least.  For almost 3 months I could wake up in the morning and not even have to do my hair.  My hair did still have some wave, but no frizz, and it only took about 10 minutes to flat-iron my hair (usually it takes about 45).  It would then stay completely straight for the next 2-3 days.  Yes, it has formaldehyde in it (which they promise does not touch your scalp), so I would not do it all the time. I might never do it again because of that (there are many warnings about the Brazilian Blowout).  But now I'm looking for safer versions of this amazing hair product, because now my hair is back to it's frizzy, dry, funky-curly state. (For me, the Brazilian Blowout lasted almost 3 months).

This is my hair. Do you see the funk I currently have to deal with??
2)  BB Cream. I'm still looking for the perfect one, but I read about this cream in the newspaper.  It is basically a foundation, primer, sunscreen, and skin-brightener all in one.  You can put it on and go out without any other makeup on (if you want to).  The more expensive versions run about $30-50, but there are some great ones out there for only $12-15 as well.

3) Bare Minerals.  I can't rave enough about bare minerals.  It leaves my skin feeling fresh and looking smooth.  Their eye shadows stay on all day long.

4) Summer Soles. These may not officially qualify as a "beauty product," but I LOVE these.  As a lifelong sweaty-hand and feet survivor, I cannot live without these.  These are shoe inserts for people with sweaty feet - only these are not Dr. Scholl's, my friend.  These are pretty and fashionable, and I can now wear sandals!  Previously I could not wear 99% of sandals that did not have a cloth sole, because I would slip right out of them. I know this is way too much information, but if you suffer from hyperhydrosis too, you need to look into these.  (Get 20% off by using code "jackandhill")

5) Nail Polish.  Okay, I have never been one to wear nail polish in my life.  But this summer I found the perfect shade, and was amazed at how much different it made me feel wearing it!  I still won't put it on my fingernails more than once a year (I do dishes way too much), but I wear it on my toes constantly.  I feel like a completely different person when I have pretty nail polish on!  I don't go to a nail salon; I just slap on a quick coat and I'm good for about a week.  I bought a mauve color at Target for $5 and feel like a new woman!  (The color I bought looks just like this):


Friday, August 10, 2012

Advice to my Younger Self

Last month I turned 36.  No big deal to some, just "a baby" as others would say, but to me it was a big deal.  35 was the last year that I felt young.  All of my life -for some odd reason- I have seen 36 as the official "middle age" number.  Once you turn 36, you are closer to 40 than you've ever been!  Your twenties are officially behind you, and your thirties are closing in as well!  You have to start thinking about life insurance, retirement, and nursing home options!  Kidding, of course.  But seriously.  36 has always been old to me, and now I'm 36.

I was looking back at my life, reminiscing about my younger days, and started thinking about what I would say to my 25 year old self (why 25 and not 26? It just sounded better).  The year was 2001.  At age 25 I had been married for 2 years.  I was almost finished with my Master's Degree. I had already been a Licensed Minister for 4 years, and was working at a University pursuing full-time ministry on the side.  I was an ambitious girl.  My husband and I were living in a cute little 750 square foot apartment in Costa Mesa, and life was full of working, school, cooking dinner every night, and staying up late watching Friends re-runs.

Here are 10 things I would say to that girl:

1. Chill out a bit.  Ambition is good, but it isn't everything.  Your accomplishments don't define you.

2. Even if you don't end up doing what you set out to do, you are still important and valuable.

3. When things go wrong and you feel forgotten by God, remember all the times He was faithful to you, and He will continue to be faithful to you in the years ahead.

4. Life is not all about you.  One day you'll have kids and they will throw up on your cute clothes and you won't be so self-centered anymore.  Get a head start and start liking kids now. Be kinder to those moms you see in Target who have kids throwing tantrums.

5.  Be patient with your husband. Cut the guy a break.  He puts up with a lot from you.

6.  Invest in your friendships, because they will last as long as the effort you put into them.  Cut off the ones that drain you and leave you feeling empty. Pour your energy into the ones who make you feel alive and refreshed, as well as the ones who challenge you in your walk with God.

7.  Find a good counselor, for you will need her over the years.

8.  Handle your money wisely now, because your life 10 years from now will be affected by those decisions you make today.  Don't just take out loans without thinking of the long-term consequences.

9.  Forgive others. Show more love.  Be less harsh. 

10.  You are passionate.  Be more passionate about God than you are about His causes. 

What advice would you give to yourself 10 years ago?  I'm curious to know!

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

The Prescription for Good Children

This morning I was sitting with a dear friend, sipping coffee while our children played, and we were talking about motherhood.   She made a difficult decision lately regarding her child's schooling, and has struggled on both ends of the decision.  Ultimately we agreed that often as mothers, we start comparing our children to other people's children, and we start trying to figure out what the "prescription" is for having a good child, and we try to emulate what other people are doing.  The problem is, what seems right for them may not be what's right for us.

This comparison trap seems to start when we're first pregnant and we compare ourselves to other pregnant moms (weight gain, cuteness factor, whether or not they eat lunchmeat or tuna while know, important things like that).  Then it moves to the birthing stage, where we compare birthing stories ("Ohhhh, you had to have a c-section? I'm sorry.....I had my baby on my living room floor" and things like that). Then it moves to the newborn stage ("my baby is 6 days old and can hold his head up high!")  and with each stage of mothering, it only seems to get worse.

At some point we start comparing our kids behavior, and trying to find the "key factors" that make good kids or bad kids. And that's where we get all messed up.  We see another person's well-behaved child and try to figure out what that parent is doing right and what we're doing wrong. Only there is no prescription for good children (really, there isn't), and we feel like a failure when our child seems worse than our friend's child.  We wonder if a certain prescription is the answer - more prayer?  Having them memorize verse?  Homeschooling them?  Staying home full-time?  Reading a certain parenting book?

Photo Source
If we have a well-mannered child, we can also falsely concur that it is our stellar parenting skills that got them that way, and we can dish out advice in our head to all the "other" parents out there.  I admit, I have done it before, and my kids aren't even perfect.  We all do it at times, because we all have pride in our hearts.

So, in our quest to be the best parents and have the best children on the block, we can inadvertently take way too much credit for something that only God can do.  A child's heart is His, and He will move in their hearts despite our best efforts or greatest failures.  He is the author of their hearts, whichever school they go to or whatever friends they have.  He is the One who can change hard behavior through the Holy Spirit, when we have done everything humanly possible and failed.

We can do our part, but we have to be careful not to take too much credit for what only He can do.  Another friend was telling me how another mom called her and said, "On my sons 4th birthday, he accepted Jesus into his heart!" and it wasn't so much excitement that she was sharing, as it was almost a "dig" at the other mother, like a way to compare the two boys. It was a way of trying to take credit for something only God did.

We can also take credit for our kid's behavior based on the choices we have made as parents, giving pride a foothold, silently judging others, assuming that their kids would be better if they had made the same choices.  

I'm not saying that we should just give up or throw in the towel and be horrible parents.  I'm not saying to NOT make educated, wise choices about who our children are with, what school they go to, what shows they watch, etc... All of those are influential on our children. But let's be careful that we're not taking too much credit for the state of their hearts - something that only God can mold and change.  Let's be careful that if He has blessed us with good children, that we are not judging other people who don't have it all together.  Let's be careful that we are not patting ourselves on the back too much for things He should be getting all the credit and glory for.  Because if there were a prescription for good parenting, only God knows what it is - and what it is for one parent might be drastically different than another.  

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Joy Through Pain

This week Micah took a fall- a big fall- and had to be rushed to the ER for 7 stitches right under his eye.  He was walking in our front yard, tripped on a brick, and fell face-first into our metal park bench.  He has never been hurt that bad, and we had never made a trip to the ER before (a miracle, considering we have 2 boys), but there we found ourselves.

As we waited for 5 hours for him to be stitched up and receive the results from the CAT scan, there were moments I felt so overwhelmed by his pain that my mother's heart could barely handle it.  Yet there were also moments where I just felt thankful - so thankful that it wasn't worse, thankful that we have insurance, thankful that we got a room so quickly.  I was thankful that the doctor said that "it was a miracle" that it didn't puncture his eye, break his nose, or tear his tear-duct.   She said it was her most complicated case in 2 days, but he was one of her best patients.  Again, thankful that Micah had such courage and was so still when he needed to be.

We left at 11pm, and on the way home he threw up all over me. But I felt thankful that I was holding my baby boy, and that he was going to be okay.

As I'm getting older (last week I turned 36), one thing I'm realizing is that in moments of pain, there are still things to be thankful about.  It is hard to find them sometimes, but they are there.  Sometimes we are searching so hard for a lesson to be learned, a word from God, an answer, that we can forget to have a thankful heart, and just remain in the moment.

We are on Day 3 of recovery, and today Micah's eye opened back up after being swollen shut.  Again, I'm thankful that the doctor wasn't the one who had to open it.

Micah doesn't want to go anywhere or see anyone; he is very self-conscious of his face and does not want to look at himself.  But I see the healing taking place and I know he is getting better every day.

Tonight I wanted to get the boys out of the house after being cooped up for 3 days, and on the way to the beach, Jaden started screaming with delight in the backseat. I didn't know what was wrong, until he screamed, "A rainbow! A rainbow! I just saw my very first rainbow!!"  I pulled over and turned around to see huge smiles on both boy's faces.  Kids know how to be thankful and find joy in the simple things... a lesson we can all learn.

We arrived at the beach and Jaden got out of the car with me.  Raindrops started falling, and he looked up and said, "I LOVE the rain!"  Again, the little things...

We were then embraced by one of the most beautiful sunsets I have ever seen! 

A friend posted this on Facebook of tonight's sunset
One of the greatest lessons we can learn in life is how to find joy through pain - instead of whining, finding things to thank God for. I don't have it down yet; it is still a struggle, but my children teach me these things. And for that, I am thankful.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Adoption Auction!!

Just a quick note to ask everyone to stop by my friend's Adoption Auction, being held this week only! There are some GREAT items listed (including 2 of my friends available for dates) :) Most items are for pick up in Orange County, CA - but there are a few items that can be shipped.  Check it out!!

Monday, July 9, 2012

A Glimpse of Heaven

Sometimes in life, and in blogging, there is so much going on, that to stop and actually process it seems like another task and it can be overwhelming.  In the past month we have had a vacation, my sister's bridal shower, her bachelorette weekend, her wedding, and so many fun things in between that I could write for weeks! 

Today I was reminiscing about all the activity, and how we've been on a "high" from one activity to the next, flitting and fleeting to and fro, and all of the fun therein. Yet at some point the activity just stops and life becomes quiet again.  Today I felt that low, commonly felt after a fun-filled experience, where you realize nothing exciting is coming for awhile, and you start to wonder "what now?" The peace, the stillness, is welcome, but it is also deafeningly silent after all the noise.

So we return to the norm - to life, to tasks, to dishes in the sink and laundry that needs to be folded, to kids that get cranky and meals that need to be prepared. 

And yet I realized that all of those fun moments, filled with family, friends, and laughter, of being together and making special memories, are just a taste of what is to come.  As I drove to the grocery market today to refill my empty refrigerator, I missed those people who became a part of my life these past few weeks. People I barely knew became close friends as we worked, sweated and united together to pull off an amazing event. 

A picture came to mind- about 15 minutes before my sister got married on Saturday, she shouted "Let's have a dance party!"  One girl got out her ipod and blasted fun music while all the girls jumped and giggled and danced for 10 minutes.  They "got all their sillies out" as the children's song says, and I stood back and took it all in.  Is this a taste of heaven, or what?

A bride, who had every good reason to be stressed out and in tears, broke out in dance with her best friends, because she realized that it was a day of joy.  I'm so proud of my sister! 

So what does this have to do with all the hustle and bustle of life, and going back to the everyday mundane?

It is moments like this that remind us while not every moment in life is worthy of dancing, hold onto those moments that are, because they are a small taste of what is to come.... This is not our home, remember?  All of these moments are glimpses of eternity with Him in heaven, rejoicing, dancing, praising, surrounded by those who love us.  If this is just a glimpse, imagine how great that day will be!

That alone should give us reason to push through the days of nothingness, because each of those hold special moments too.  Although we may not have a fun activity coming up for weeks, we have something even greater to look forward to.  All of these in-between moments of joy are just a glimpse of heaven.