#26

#26

“How cool is it that the same God that created mountains, galaxies, and oceans looked at YOU and thought that the world needed one of you too?”

That is not my own original thought, but let that sink in for a second. Powerful, isn’t it? That was posted by a friend on Facebook who travels frequently and seems to always be outdoors…so, she has really seen first-hand the wonders of God’s creation.

Have you ever had your breath taken away by nature? For me, it happens when I’m in wide open fields – bright blue skies, tall green grass, a light breeze, and a warm sun. What about being on a mountaintop? Or on a boat in the middle of the ocean? Or even just enjoying the fall colors? The changing of the seasons? The same God that created all of that created YOU with just as much thought and attention. More so, actually! We learn in Genesis that mankind is the only thing made in God’s image and that his creation is “very good.”

Is it possible to feel very special and very small simultaneously? Pretty sure that’s what I’m experiencing right now…

Is there anything else quite like holding a newborn baby? You can just feel their parents’ love and pride…if you hold them too long, you might also feel their protectiveness. Newborns have irresistibly kissable cheeks, precious facial expressions, soft skin, and seemingly endless opportunities. They are perfect. A good friend recently brought her sweet baby into the world, and I think I’m still on a baby high from getting to snuggle and love on him. I can say without doubt that the way I experience meeting my friends’ little ones is on a whole new level of awe after experiencing parenthood myself. I refer to it as my “mommy heart.”

Even though we don’t get to meet those little sweet things until their birthday, God already knows all about them.

For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb.

I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well.

Psalm 139:13-14

That’s a pretty familiar passage for most people. It’s used as nursery décor, at baby showers, and is even printed on t-shirts. But when is the last time you really thought about it? Every detail was deliberately planned out; yes, even the parts that we are self-conscious about. When I think about the word “formed” I think of playdough. I’ve only mastered a playdough snake or a ball, but God is the master designer of us all. To “knit” takes patience, planning, and a pattern. I’ve never even attempted knitting, but I know several of my friends are extremely talented and can make scarves, hats, shirts, headbands, you name it! But as awesome as they are, they’ve never knit a flamingo or even a small sparrow.

That’s where most people’s familiarity with the psalm ends, but let’s keep reading…

My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth.

Psalm 139:15

I’ve gotta say, I think that’s my favorite part! It feels so familiar…so intimate. What about “in secret?” Most women don’t know that they’re pregnant until several weeks into the process. But God has already been at work! He knew I existed long before my own mother did. He knew about my daughter long before I could love her so much it hurts!

Not only does he know each of us to a level we cannot comprehend, he cares for us individually and knows the good and bad we will face in our lifetimes.

Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them.

Psalm 139:16

I obviously do not know how long I have to live. What a fearful world that would be! I don’t even know what the next 15 minutes will bring. But God does. He knows my highest highs and my lowest lows – even those that are years away! Before I even drew my first breath, he formed my days. All the places I’ll go, all the friends I’ll make, all the relationships that will be formed, all the jobs I’ll have, all the trials I’ll face…he knows about them all and nothing’s going to get past him.

I don’t know about you, but I’m sure feeling loved and special.

Even when I wish my legs were a little shorter, even when I’m feeling unfilled at work, even when my family suffers, God knew the world needed someone exactly like ME and created me just as I am.

So no matter what your day has brought you so far, please remember this: you were designed to be the amazing person that you are, you have a purpose, and you are loved.

Advertisements
#25

#25

“Trusty Rusty” is his name. Or hers…I’m really not quite sure because my 2007 Toyota Corolla doesn’t exactly give off a gender vibe.

I remember going car shopping with my Dad like it was yesterday. I had been driving an early 90s bright blue Plymouth Grand Voyager minivan to school. Don’t get me wrong, the van had its perks (like hauling tons of friends and tubas around) and because it was owned by my parents, was spotless and in top-notch shape. However, for a self-conscious high schooler, it wasn’t exactly the vehicle of my dreams. My wish list was pretty simple…power locks/windows, “leg room” (a must for my family), and a trunk that could fit a Tuba. Don’t you wish you were as cool as me? Ha! We had test driven a few other compact cars, but I remember falling in love with the Corolla for the first time with its navy blue paint, tan cloth interior, and yes, ample trunk space. Dad negotiated with the salesman and we headed home with my new car without telling my Mom. We both giggled and thought we were so clever when we told her we were on our way home with “the blue car” (what our family called the van).

When we left the dealership, the car had 14 miles on it. It now has 138,577 (I just went outside to get the exact ODO reading. You’re welcome 😉 ). That is A LOT of miles. A lot of memories.

Trusty Rusty has seen me through high school graduation, moving into the dorms at OU, countless random road trips, a move to Colorado for the summer of 2010 and met us in Florida in 2012. It’s chauffeured all of my boyfriends, dozens of tuba boys (and a few girls), best friends, and new friends. It’s carried our first dog, 2nd dog, and most precious baby girl. It’s nearly had its speakers blown out from blaring “Carry on my Wayward Son.” It has survived hail, a few minor accidents, run-ins with cement parking blocks, and a DIY fender replacement job after CJ accidentally backed into it. It has been my safe haven, my way of helping others, my freedom, my shelter, my getaway, my escape.

Before Hurricane Irma hit Florida, we received a lot of texts/calls asking if we were going to evacuate. We decided not to for different reasons, one of which was because we could not all (the 3 of us plus 2 large dogs) fit in either of our vehicles. We tried, really, and if we had to get out of dodge, we played Corolla Tetris enough to figure out that we could do it for a short distance with CJ driving, the 65lb dog in the front seat, and the 110lb dog on the sliver of a middle seat (and overflowing onto my lap) in the back between Avery and I.

Ever since then, I’ve been feeling especially materialistic. Ok, honestly, I’ve wanted a new car for a while – something bigger and without a rusting roof (a common problem for this model year) – but not being able to comfortably fit our growing family makes me feel less shallow and needy, so I tell myself that’s the reason. I see friends who have new cars every few years, how much technology has changed in 10 years, and I can’t help but feel a little inferior. But they have another thing that I don’t have…a car payment. And you know what, my car is just fine. It’s only broken down on me once (a story in itself which turned out to be a measly battery issue). It gets great gas mileage, which is HUGE for someone with a 90 minute round-trip commute. And its seat is formed perfectly to my dairy aire.

But godliness with contentment is great gain, for we brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anything out of the world.

1 Timothy 6:6-7

As nice as it can be to have new shiny things, my happiness should not depend on that. I wrote an article last year about not “Keeping up with the Jones’s” that I have to remind myself of frequently. I’ve been blessed with reliable transportation and the freedom it can provide.

And so, in a few minutes, I will get in my car, turn on the cold a/c, turn up the radio, and be grateful for my blessings and the memories accompanying them.

And he said to them, “Take care, and be on your guard against all covetousness, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.”

Luke 12:15

 

#24

#24

We’re at that stage. No longer am I the mother of an infant; I have a toddler, whom I’m sure is part parrot. She can repeat sounds, mirror facial expressions, copy movements and gestures, and attempts to use things like Mama and Daddy do.

She is always mimicking. Always repeating. Always copying. Always watching.

One of the places I see this most clearly is in, yes, the bathroom. I must always have an audience if I go there for any reason. She’ll try to step into the shower, point to the toilet paper, grab the toothpaste and say “ahhhh,” and throw Q-tips in the trash.

But her favorite thing is to watch Mama put on makeup.

She’ll sit (safely) on the counter, brush in hand, pretending to put things on her face. She’ll look in the mirror and smile at herself. I’ll encourage her and say “Who is that beautiful baby?!” or “ooooooh, so pretty!”

She needs me to teach her more than just how to put on mascara and the art of blending eyeshadow.

One thing I’ve learned this past year is that time is valuable and precious. As a working mom, I realize that I have different opportunities to teach and train her than those who don’t work outside the home. As a result, I’m always looking for ways to make the most of our time together. We practice words in the car, read several books before bed (or whenever she asks to), and we sing…constantly. Few things bring me more joy than watching her learn and remember songs from Bible class and start to do them with me. She’s my sidekick. She watches me cook. She’s learning to “sweep” and put things in the trash or the dirty clothes hamper. She can already pick up her own toys (with a little guidance).

I want her to know that there is more to her than how she looks. I tell her she’s special. I tell her she’s smart. I tell her she’s sweet. I tell her she’s a good girl. I tell her that I missed her during the day. I tell her that I love her sweet smile. I tell her I love to hear her giggle. I tell her that she is oh so loved.

I want her to have fun with makeup, but not feel like she needs it. I want her to know her true beauty comes from within. I want her to enjoy being a woman. I want to always see that sweet smile on her face. I want her to be confident, but humble and kind. I want her to love her neighbor as herself. I want her to see herself as I see her. I want her to see herself as one created in the image of God.

IMG_20170707_170931_538.jpg

Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as elaborate hairstyles and the wearing of gold jewelry or fine clothes. Rather, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight.

1 Peter 3:3-4

#23

#23

#Adulting. I say it means to do something generally done by Adults…which I don’t consider myself yet. Like, “I adulted today and got quotes for car insurance” or “I adulted and mailed in my tax forms.” My mom said that she heard it means to “pretend to be an adult.” Either way is true, I guess. I suppose that I’m only pretending to be an adult if I want a cookie every time I fill out a form or keep my vehicle street-legal.

It’s weird to me that people younger than I am consider me an adult. Even being called Ms. Kelcey makes me squirm. Wasn’t I supposed to feel different when I was an “adult?” I remember thinking how cool and mature college kids were…those days are long gone, and I still feel like I haven’t reached their level. My friends at work say that I look like I “have my stuff together,” which is extra funny to me because they know all about my awkwardness. I guess it’s a good thing that I at least portray myself that way, because I am the worst at keeping things about myself to myself. I’m an open book, even when I try not to be!

As a kid, I knew exactly the kinds of things I would do differently when I was finally old enough to make my own decisions. I think part of the reason that God gave us memories was so that we could look back and laugh at ourselves, because these are so goofy…

#1 – Never buy off-brand food

I used to hate being the one to bring the random box of cookies or the Shasta cola to events. I would leave my contribution in the plastic bag as long as possible and sneakily put it somewhere near the table. I thought that people were paying wayyyy more attention to me than they actually were I’m sure. Nowadays, the more store brands the better! Actually, Aldi trumps all! For real though, I have a favorite cashier there and I’m her “regular.” Great Value corn chips? Yes please. Publix bottled water? Load it up. Generic pantry staples? Yup, those are for me. There are a few exceptions – PopTarts must always be PopTarts, per my husband’s request. And on the rare occasion that I do buy pop, it must be from the office of Dr. Pepper and not Dr. Thunder.

#2 – Stop for a drink whenever I’m thirsty

I could never understand why saying “I’m thirsty” from the backseat didn’t allow for an immediate stop at 7-11. Instead, I usually received a “we’ll be home in just a few minutes.” The torture! Not only did I want my thirst to be quenched then and there, I knew for sure my selection would beat anything we could possibly have at home. Then, I got my first job. And I lived the convenience store life for a while. I learned not only does a $1.07 here and there add up quickly, but it’s also a great way to put on some poundage in a hurry.

#3 – Only buy trendy clothes/brands

I remember being self-conscious about EVERYTHING. My sister still teases me for asking her if my backpack “was the wrong color.” I was always on the lookout at Walmart because I thought I would die if someone I knew saw me walking the aisles. No one wanted to be caught in any kind of sneaker other than Nike or Adidas. It mattered where you bought your jeans. Make sure you have the right embroidered mascot on your polo. Goodness. From a young age, our parents started teaching us about modesty and how these things weren’t important (and how ridiculous it was to spend $$$ on shoes that you wouldn’t be able to wear in 6 months), but that didn’t stop me from wanting most of them. Today, most of my closet is hand-me-downs, clearance rack finds, and old faithful’s that have been with me for years. I have very simple standards for what I buy now; is it long enough to cover the middle and my Amazonian legs? Can I pair it with multiple things? If the answer is “yes,” then we’re good, regardless of which store it came from. But if it’s not on sale, I’m not buying it.

Looking back over my list, I see that all 3 of them relate to money. Learning the value of money can be a real struggle. It’s so much easier to spend your parent’s money than yours. I remember when we went on a family vacation to Hawaii, I was working a summer job at a printing shop and making right around $8/hr. One day, I estimated how much I thought our trip costed, and figured out how long I would have to work to pay for it. And then I think I probably cried (haha no surprise there). It was definitely a reality check.

Understanding the value of money is not the same as loving money. If I love money, I hoard it, put its importance above all else, am not generous, and never have enough. If I understand its value, I will spend responsibly, make wise decisions, plan, and save.

Work ethically and diligently for the money you earn, and spend it in the same manner.

 

Whoever loves money never has enough; whoever loves wealth is never satisfied with their income. This too is meaningless.

 Ecclesiastes 5:10

#22

#22

We had an intruder on our property the other day. I never saw him, but I did see evidence of his presence. My husband saw him a few times. He bought special tools and checked his “traps” frequently to try to catch the intruder in the act. Each day, CJ would see glimpses of him and things in the shed weren’t quite as he had left them the day before. The intruder can be described as fat, dark-colored, above-average size, beady eyes, and a long bald tail…

Yes, yes, sorry to freak you out…it was a rat.

It must be a man thing, but my husband was totally excited about catching this rat. It must have something to do with the “thrill of the hunt.” Me, not so much. Especially while making dinner *shudder* I had to cut off the rat talk more than once. Don’t get me wrong, I am glad that CJ was excited to make our shed vermin-free again, but I totally don’t need all of the details. Gross.

It took no ordinary mouse trap to catch the beast. We bought a gargantuan trap from the home improvement store; this thing must have been at least 9 inches long! I would definitely not want this bad boy snapping on my finger. I did learn that the fastest way to a rat’s heart isn’t cheese…it’s peanut butter.

Every day, just a little more peanut butter would be missing from the trap. And a little more. And a little more. And with each passing day, Mr. Rat got just a little cockier. Until one day…

…WHACK!!!

The trap catapulted across the room and landed upside down – the final resting place of the over-confident rat. Well, “final” until he was upgraded to a plastic sack in the garbage.

Such are the ways of everyone who is greedy for unjust gain; it takes away the life of its possessors.

Proverbs 1:19

What caused the rat’s ultimate demise? Greed. I don’t usually include a lot of definitions, but I feel like this one is necessary: Greed is intense and selfish desire for something, especially wealth, power, or food (Oxford Dictionaries). I also think of words like insatiable, unquenchable, burning/yearning, gluttony.

How many times have I wanted “just a little more” and it came back to bite me in the buttocks? More than once, that’s for sure. It’s like when you’re determined to bring in all of the groceries in one trip; you stuff the bags just as full as you can, hang them from both arms and every available finger, and waddle to the door only to have the bags burst from the weight. Or how about when you want that last button-push on the cappuccino machine? It overflows and scalds your hand.

Those are silly examples of a serious issue.

1. Greed can cloud our judgement. When I am always thinking about how to get ahead or how to get just a little more, I am more likely to make a bad decision. Accepting a bribe is not a smart shortcut. I need to work diligently every day and be a good steward of what I have already been given.

Whoever is greedy for unjust gain troubles his own household, but he who hates bribes will live.

Proverbs 15:27

2. Greed brings us new troubles. It’s like being at the lake; you’re walking along, the water is clear and you can see your toes. The more you walk, the more dirt and sediment your footsteps stir up. Soon, the water is murky and you can’t see the dangers that may be below.

A greedy man stirs up strife, but the one who trusts in the Lord will be enriched.

Proverbs 28:25

3. Greed can keep us from Heaven.

Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites,  nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God.

1 Corinthians 6:9-10

Wow, greed/covetousness is in a list of some pretty serious stuff, and it’s not by coincidence. But let’s keeping reading…

And such were some of you. But you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God.

1 Corinthians 6:11

Notice what it says? “Such were some of you.” As a Christian, I am certainly not immune to the struggles of the world and am by no means perfect. But, thanks to Jesus’s sacrifice, I am cleansed and can conquer these temptations with his help.

So, my friends, don’t be like Mr. Rat. Eat your small spoonful of peanut butter and be content.

#20

#20

“An arrow can only be released by first pulling it back. When life pulls you back, it simply means you’re launching into something amazing.”

I saw this quote scroll across Facebook some time ago, but it’s one that has stuck with me. I’m going to try to share this post in the most humble and grateful way that I can.

What happens when your Plan A fails? Go to Plan B. What happens when your Plan B fails? Go to Plan C. What happens your Plan C fails……?

CJ and I used to joke that we were on Plan XXX.

When we got married, we had a plan. We would move to Florida, be here for 6 months, be relocated elsewhere with my job, CJ would be accepted into a Physical Therapist program in our new city, he would graduate, I would quit my job, and we would start a family.

Plans are a good thing. We need to have goals, aspirations, and organization. But do you know how much of our plan worked out? Not. One. Bit. We’re going on 5 years in Florida, PT school has drifted from our minds, we have started our family, and I work full-time.

Now, I don’t want you to think that this is going to be a whiny “wahhh my life didn’t follow my exact plan” type of post or that I am going to be negative and Eeyore-like. Quite the opposite, actually. Is my life different from what I planned? A million times YES. Has it been an easy process to endure? Absolutely not. Am I happy with the direction it’s going? 100 million zillion times YES. Is the wild ride over? No way Jose.

**Sidenote** (This was not in my original idea for this post, but I thought it was too interesting not to share. We are all about adjusting our “plans” in this one anyways, right? 😉 )

I was looking at a couple different translations of Jeremiah 29:11. The one I have memorized is the NIV:

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.

But check out the New King James Version…

For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.

Take in for a moment what that says…God, in all his infinite wisdom and power, thinks about YOU. He thinks thoughts towards you. He has plans for you. He thinks about me…judgmental, sassy, bossy me. Not only does he think about me, he has plans for me…good, great and wonderful plans.

But what really got my attention was the King James Version…

For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the Lord, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end.

An expected end? Isn’t that what I’m try to achieve with all of my planning? I am not suggesting that God will give us all of the answers to life’s mysteries when we want them. God has plans for all of us while we are here on Earth. He wants good things not only for those who love him, but even for those who don’t (Matthew 5:45). But the reason that Christians have hope and a future is because we already know the ultimate outcome: those who love God and obey his commandments will be with him forever in Heaven. 

Be faithful unto death, and I will give you the crown of life.

Revelation 2:10

**End Sidenote**

I won’t load you up with all the details, but as our plan began to unravel, we found ourselves asking “well…now what?” I can’t tell you how many times we asked that question over the past 5 years; when we were told we’d be staying in Lakeland, when CJ didn’t get accepted to PT school, when I wished with all my might to be sick so that I wouldn’t have to face a bad work environment, when no one in central Florida seemed to be hiring men with bachelor’s degrees, when seemingly good opportunities turned out to not be what they seemed, when CJ wrestled with finding a fulfilling career path, when he worked 2nd shift and we felt more like roommates than husband and wife…now what? I remember specifically praying for wisdom and peace if a certain job opportunity for CJ didn’t work out, because I would have such a hard time understanding why he couldn’t catch a break or have a fulfilling career.

Frustration and desperation are understatements. There were many tearful nights, questioning of what he had done wrong to deserve these struggles, feelings of inadequacy, and gut-wrenching sorrow as we felt helpless watching each other suffer.

Throughout these times, we knew that God was in control even though it was oh so hard to see it sometimes. That he had a plan for our family. That it “wouldn’t always be this way.”

CJ has a heart for kids and a love of the Truth. In the back of his mind this whole time, he had considered pursuing Youth Ministry, but hadn’t taken it seriously. We toyed with the idea a few times, but always shied away because of uncertainty and the drastic shift in our “plan.” After some soul-searching and encouragement from close friends, he decided to take the plunge. He applied to the Florida School of Preaching at the end of 2016, put in his notice at work, and began seeking financial support. As soon as he did, it was like a lightbulb went off – an “A-Ha!” moment…things began to fall into place. He felt like a weight had been lifted from his shoulders; like he has found his purpose. People started telling him how they’d always thought he would be a wonderful Youth Minister and how excited they were not only for him, but the lives that he would influence. And, by the grace of God, we have enough financial support to meet more than just our basic needs.

 I always thought that I would enjoy being a minister’s wife, but I never thought it would be my life. Well, now it is (or will soon be in 2 short years)! I’ve been working really hard on myself; to be more diligent in my Bible study, to be patient, and to grow in wisdom and understanding so that I will be ready to be the best support for him that I can be. I am so proud of him…for who he is, and who he is becoming.

It is with the utmost sincerity of heart that I say how grateful I am to be on this side of our uncertainties. He wakes up every day excited to learn and to one day teach others. We aren’t living for the weekends. We get to actually eat dinner together on a regular basis for the first time in our married life! We get to spend time together with Avery in the evenings.

One thing I strive for in this blog is transparency. I know all too well how lonely it can feel to be going through struggles that no one else seems to have. You start comparing (that’s a no-no…I’ve already written about it, but still, it happens). You start wishing. You start envying. 

I didn’t trust God through this process near as much as I should have. I knew that he had a plan, we just had to find it, but more often than not I let my stress and anxiety get the best of me. But now, it all makes sense! Hindsight is always 20/20, but I can see him working in our lives this whole time. How so many doors were slammed in our face so that he could lead us to the RIGHT one. How being in Lakeland has led to life-long friendships. How CJ’s job in sales made him more confident and outgoing. How my difficult work situation reminds me to not take my current job for granted. How Avery was born at the perfect time to get loved on by her Florida grandma all day. So many things fell into place at exactly the right time to lead us to where we are today…just as God had planned.

For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
    neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord.
For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
    so are my ways higher than your ways
    and my thoughts than your thoughts.

Isaiah 55:8-9

I don’t want to give the impression that everything was a struggle, or that we were depressed and unhappy this whole time. We’ve traveled and had experiences that most people our age aren’t able to enjoy. We’ve taken up new hobbies and learned new skills. We’ve enjoyed the “regular” days together as husband and wife. These years have brought us closer together as we have endured and overcome obstacles. We’ve matured (spiritually and emotionally), gained more wisdom, learned to be good stewards, and now have all kinds of life experience we can use to uplift and encourage others 

I have no doubt that we will face struggles in the future, be it financial, health-related, job-related, parenting-related….all of the above. But I want to look back at this time as a reminder that even when I don’t understand, or can’t see our next move, that God is in control and that his plan for me is always better than anything I have planned for myself.

“Put God first, and everything else will fall into place.”

-Terry Anderson (AKA my Mom)

 

#19

#19

I was supposed to marry an NBA star. I just knew that there would be no other way for me to have my “happily ever after.” As a result, I found myself trying to catch the attention of anyone who could at least meet me at eye-level. Heyyyy there big fella.

I did not catch a basketball star. Quite the opposite actually – I married a gymnast. Now, physical appearance isn’t everything and it “shouldn’t” really matter…but it was totally weird at first. I am not saying anything negative about my husband – he is the best person I know; a Godly, hard-working, kind, goofy, and thoughtful partner. But it did take me more than a few days to get over our height difference.

I hardly notice it now. From time to time, someone will think they’re being funny and make a joke out of it. We’ve been the brunt of many “jokes” and snarky comments, including someone yelling “dude, you look like an Oompa Loompa next to her!” from a moving car. Joke’s on you jerk, because all that made us do was laugh…hysterically. Lesson: don’t take yourself too seriously and be unable to laugh at awkwardness.

There are some definite perks to being tall. I can gain more weight before it is noticeable than most people (pass the ice cream over here, please!). I am always able to see what’s going on in a crowd. I never have to look for a step stool. But there are some not-so-great things about it too: “Leg room” is a never-ending topic, I am constantly asked if I played volleyball/basketball (nope…Tuba! *blank stares*), and I have to be careful to not accidentally peek over bathroom stalls.

But you know what’s the worst thing about it all? SHOPPING.

What’s even harder is being a modestly-dressed tall woman.

So many times, I find a dress or skirt that I really like…try it on and…..nope. I’ve gotten really good at spotting things that would be a “Hiney Dress” on me and save myself the time (and frustration). And shoes…if you want to feel better about your own shoe size, go check out the size 10+ clearance section and see the gems that I get to pick from. I guess that’s another part of my problem; if it’s not on sale, I’m not interested.

So I guess what’s extra hard is being a modestly-dressed tall frugal woman.

My latest adventure was looking for a pair of jeans. Struggles. I haven’t bought a new pair of jeans since I gave birth to our daughter. I guess that’s good because I’m technically still in my “pre-baby” clothes, but these hips are definitely a new feature. I’m not a Junior size anymore…but I also don’t fit right in “Mom Jeans.” 

Over the last 2 weekends, I have been in and out of more stores than I can remember. In and out. In and out. In…..and out. I even got an email from a store saying they were having a MEGA sale on jeans. I got all excited, walked into the store, and…there were 2 whole pairs of “long” jeans. Size 0 and size 18. In a world where everyone is hung up on equality and levelling the playing field, can someone please explain to me how Petites have managed to gain their own section and I can’t even find a pair of pants?! (No offense to you Petite ladies 🙂 )

Sometimes, I hate being tall. Shopping trips usually make me feel like some kind of freak. There are times when my greatest wish is to be one of those “cute and petite” girls…..then I remind myself, I am “fearfully and wonderfully made” (Psalm 139:14). 

We are reminded of the true source of beauty in 1 Peter 3:3-4

Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as elaborate hairstyles and the wearing of gold jewelry or fine clothes. Rather, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight.


I have a husband who loves me and calls me his Supermodel, a beautiful little girl, good friends, and have all my needs met. I am blessed indeed and my height, weight, shoe size, etc has no bearing on any of that. 

God makes no mistakes. I am who I am because He deliberately designed me this way. And He did the same for you. Whether you are skinny, fluffy, curly-haired, straight-haired, brown-eyed, blue-eyed, have big feet, short stubby fingers, a crooked nose, are short, or tall…God made you. 

#18

#18

I love music. Always have. I declare to you today that everything is better with a song in the background.

I sing to my daughter constantly. Seriously. I’m sure one day it will embarrass her, but for now, I am the karaoke queen. It thrills my heart to see her bounce on her booty or clap her hands as mommy serenades her. I’d give you her favorites list, but it pretty much includes anything that ever pops in my head…like Shania Twain, Disney soundtracks, oldies, and mommy freestyle.

I’m working on a project at work that’s….well…..tedious and definitely requires tune-age. At first I was listening to Christmas music, but I think my elf spirit has run out. Next, I tried the “Pumpkin Latte State of Mind” station…awesome. But a tedious project mixed with too much folksy acoustic style makes for a super mellow (and slightly melancholy) me. So, I tried “Uplifting Country Motivation.”

I was jamming along, head bobbing as much as is professionally acceptable, when I heard a beachy tune from one of my favorite bands. I consider myself pretty well-rounded musically, so I was surprised that I hadn’t heard it before…so, I started to listen to the lyrics.

I heard a song about a guy watching other people getting dressed up and heading to a church building. Actually, it mentioned going to a building…or watching it on TV from a couch. Instead, this guy puts on his bathing suit, drives down to the beach, sticks his toes in the water, and claims to be as close to God as he can get.

I was so disappointed and offended.

The song goes on to talk about realizing how small we are next to the depths of the ocean and wondering what life after death is like.

Let’s pause for a second. I am not saying that you can’t or shouldn’t have moments where you are completely in awe of God’s creation and his magnitude. Gaze in wonder at the stars. Climb a mountain and humbly take in the view. Let your heart race as you run through an open field. Feel the power of a thunderstorm.

But for that to be “church?” No, that’s not what I read in the Bible.

This idea of creating one’s own “church” is certainly not new. I can think of a handful of other songs, currently on the radio, who claim the same kind of message. No matter how I may “feel” in certain moments, that does not give me the right to change or belittle what God has established. Scripture always trumps my feelings. Doesn’t it make sense that if I want to go to Heaven that I should follow his directions on how to get there? He did design it, after all.

The Church is Christ’s body (Colossians 1:24, Ephesians 1:23) and should be treated with utmost respect. He cares for it (Ephesians 5:29) and bought it with his blood (Acts 20:28)…how can I not take it seriously? Even though we may say things like “I’m on my way to church,” what we really mean is “the Church is assembling at XYZ location.” The Church is the body of believers, not the building or physical address.

We are specifically warned in Hebrews 10:24-25 to not forsake the assembly:

24 And let us consider how to spur one another on to love and good deeds. 25 Let us not neglect meeting together, as some have made a habit, but let us encourage one another, and all the more as you see the Day approaching.

Not only do we come together to worship God and remember Jesus’s sacrifice, we come to have our own spiritual “batteries” recharged. I know that I am encouraged when I am surrounded by those of like-mind and like-faith. I am encouraged when I hear my Christian family sing praises with all pf their heart. I am encouraged when I hear lessons that challenge me to grow. I am encouraged by the examples of perseverance set by the “more seasoned” adults.

The full blessings of being a Christian and belonging to the body cannot be matched by sitting alone in a fishing boat. It just simply is not the same.

 

#17

#17

Isn’t it funny how time can totally change your perspective on things? Something seemingly tragic turns into a joke; something hurtful is bonded over; something hysterical is forgotten.

My husband and I were reminiscing about college the other day. Most of the time, I still feel like I’m that age…then I remember that my “baby” brother is a sophomore, and the feeling quickly passes. Back in the day, we thought we were living the high life if one of us had $150 in our bank account. CJ told me that he would think to himself, “Ohhhh yeah! We’re going on a date! And out to Cane’s (that’s the holy grail of chicken tenders, for you non-Normanites)…probably twice!” Even though we felt so grown-up then, life was simple. Go to class (most of the time), do your homework (the night before), go to band and/or gymnastics practice, work a part-time job, and pay the few bills you’re responsible for.

We were so ready to graduate and start our married life together…but I will never forget the night I realized how expensive “adulthood” was.

We had been married about a month. Already, we had moved halfway across the country and away from everyone we knew. We had rented our first apartment. And I had just gotten my first “big girl” paycheck. Total honesty, I did not realize how big a piece Uncle Sam took out of my check before I saw a cent of it. Turns out, we had rented a little too nice of an apartment. CJ called a budget meeting (sounds official, doesn’t it?) and we made adjustments based on take-home pay…not salary. Who would’ve thought that you couldn’t just divide your salary by 12 for budgeting purposes? *facepalm* I remember sitting at the table watching a car commercial and just sobbing my eyes out. “How could anyone possibly afford a car payment?! Even a ‘measly’ $199/month?! (according to the salesman on TV).”

But you know what? We made it. We didn’t buy anything we couldn’t pay for in cash, bargain-shopped, and ate A LOT of Steak n’ Shake (can’t beat those $4 meal deals!). And now, those times are fond and humbling memories.

We all have those friends who just seem to attract awkward. If you don’t have one of those, I can be that for you. I feel like my writing has been a little heavy the last few weeks (ah, such is life), so here are 3 recent stories from my awkward life that (hopefully) we can laugh at. They need no embellishment.

(Don’t psych yourself up too much…they’re not that great and, for the record, are much better when told in person)

  1. Wednesday is KFC night. When I leave the house on Wednesday mornings, I won’t be back until after 8:30pm that night. There is a really nice older gentleman at church who some time ago, started giving me coupons. They’re always the same. “Free Go-Cup with the purchase of a drink.” He actually goes through quite a bit of effort to give these to me – he has to go online, fill out “the” survey, write his 6-digit code on the receipt, and remember to bring it to me. I expressed my deep gratitude the first time this happened because KFC is just far enough from my house, that I can pay my $1.92 for dinner and cram it down my throat in the car by the time I get home. And such has become our habit. He continues to bring me coupons and I continue to keep up the demand for Go-Cups, popcorn nugget style. So last Wednesday, I go through the drive thru and inhale my chicken. When I got home, it smelled kinda funky in my car but I brushed it off thinking “well, you did just have KFC…” I take Avery and my hobo collection of things needed for the day inside, but the smell lingers. I pick Avery up out of her car seat, carry her outside to let the dogs out, come back inside…only to find my arms covered in baby #2! I ask her “where did this come from?” because obviously, as an 8-month old she can answer me…only to find an erupted volcano of nasty coming out the side of her diaper. You would think by now that I would know that smell…but blowouts are so common with her, I think I’ve gone nose-blind! I change her diaper, rinse out her clothes, wash my arms, and then…I see it! Somehow, the little turkey had managed to get it in her hair! As I wipe it off with a baby wipe and stare at the wet spot, I can’t help but think “do I really have to give her a bath? This is so not what I want to do right now…” Calm yourselves, no need to call the law…I bathed her.
  2. The other night, I was putting crockpot chili together at about 10 o’clock. I started hearing a rhythmic thud, kind of like someone outside was playing their car stereo too loudly. At my ripe old age of 27, I thought “those silly kids…it’s too late for these shenanigans! How rude!” and continued my cooking. But it kept going…and going! So, being the classy individual that I am, I go outside in my bare feet with a baby on my hip and begin to look for the offender. “Weird…the street is empty, and I can barely hear it out here.” I go back inside and there it goes again! I look out our bedroom window and can see the neighbors’ lights flickering. They must be partying it up or watching a crazy movie! By now, my curiosity and bossiness are in full-force, and I have to figure out what is causing this noise! I take Avery into the garage and the sound is much louder! I think, “it must be the acoustics between the houses…their noise is echoing in here!” And then, I see it: the thudding, rude, noise-making, and inconsiderate foe…my dryer. Wah wah wah wahhh. Yes, it’s true. I open the door to find the entire load wrapped into a rope-like form, clinging for dear life to one of my tank tops on the lint trap. Obviously, this must be untangled immediately. I put Avery down on the rug and begin to unravel my mess. I look over just in time to see her putting a HUGE wad of dryer lint to her mouth…”Avery, no! That’s yucky!”….mom-reflex…not…fast……..enoughhhhhh. She looks directly at me, cocks an eyebrow, and puts the wad in her mouth! Stubborn child, I see you. You would’ve thought the thing tasted like cotton candy by the way I had to fight to take it away from her.
  3. (some of you may have seen the condensed version of this story on my Facebook) Some nights, I try to cram in way more than I am physically and emotionally capable of. On Tuesday night after I picked up Avery, I decided that I would grocery shop, try a new recipe for dinner (beef & broccoli), and maybe do a little meal prep for the week. Sounds doable, right? I thought so too. Grocery shopping goes fine, but by the time we made it home, Avery is hungry and sleepy, I’m hungry and antsy about getting my cold items put away, and the thought of making dinner still looms over me. Avery has this habit of climbing up my belly when I’m holding her (I would think she’s already high enough up there). She went to step on the waist of my pants (as a boost) and POP! there goes the latch to my favorite work pants. Not a huge deal. I feed her and hope that she will go down easily for her evening snooze (groceries still not put up at this point, fyi). She does not, but I can also tell that she’s not upset and is just playing in her crib. So I put groceries away, start chopping onions, and slicing my beef. I have yet to master the understanding of which cuts of beef are used for certain recipes…I bought stew meat. In my mind, stew is soup-like…so this should be really tender and easy to chew. Wrong. Maybe I just cooked it too long, who knows. By the time I finish cooking, my pan is burned, my house is smoky, and I am so hungry that I start to feel a little shaky. I wave the white flag for Avery’s nap and put her in her high chair (I like having dinner together) while I eat. My beef and broccoli tasted really good…but the meat took so long to chew, that I would gnaw at it for a bit, but then spit the rest out. I know, so attractive. I put the pan in the sink to soak and decide to unwind a bit and just enjoy quiet time with Avery. She is in the process of learning how her fingers work, and starts petting my face gently. Awww sweet baby, right? Kinda. Next thing I know, her “sweet” little fingers are wrist-deep in my nose and SCRAPE. I feel a burning and instantly smell iron…nosebleed. Not just a little nosebleed, no, a full-on stick toilet paper in your nose type of nosebleed. I had been pretty proud of how well I handled the stress of the day so far, but this pushed me over the edge! My eyes start welling up with tears and I let it allllllll out. (I’ve always been emotional, but I feel like I have cried more since having a baby than I did ever did before…combined!) Avery obviously doesn’t understand what’s going on, so she just starts laughing at me…and trying to stick her hands in the toilet water. Then, my phone rings. CJ always calls me on his lunch break. I answer the phone and he says “hi baby! How are you?” I’m not really sure what I said, but I think it was something like “I have toilet paper up my nose (unrecognizable sobbing)…and Avery is laughing at me (continued sobs)…and the floor is dirty (sob)…and she broke my pants!” A few minutes pass and I have calmed down, hang up the phone, and resolve to enjoy the rest of the evening. I give Avery a hug and start filling up the tub for her bath. As I get her undressed, I hear a “clink” in the tub. The little circle with the water temperature sticker thing has come off. No biggie, so I go to put it back on..and the knob disintegrates in my hand into 3 big pieces. I unplug the tub, but what’s this…the water is filling faster than it is draining! I know for sure that I am about to flood our house! I wrestle with the naked lever and try to use pieces of the knob to turn it off (while keeping Avery from climbing into the tub) and finally get the water turned off. Bath night moves to the kitchen – meaning Mama has to fight to keep spices, gadgets, and knives out of Little Miss’s reach. After all is said and done, Avery is asleep, the house has aired out, and I sat on the couch to watch The Beverly Hillbillies with a massive bowl of Honey Nut Cheerios…as a conqueror.

Congrats! You made it through nearly 2000 words!!

So often, we only hear the highlights of each others’ day…making us feel like we’re the only ones going through tough times or having stressful days. When I posted story #3 on Facebook, I was amazed at the response I got. Everyone seemed to relate! I share these stories for 2 reasons…to (hopefully) make you laugh (or at least crack a smile) and to prove that you are not the only one with some crazy in your life.

 

3034967_orig.jpg (600×600)

Because who doesn’t love a T-Rex joke?

#16

#16

Meet Mark – He’s 30 years old with a wife, 2 kids, and cancer.

I am an encourager, but sometimes I need encouragement. In the 10 minutes that I spent with Mark, he impacted me in a way that I will never forget.

First, a little background. My family has been struggling for quite some time with issues that we have little control over. As much as I enjoy sharing pieces of my life and using them to encourage others, I’m not a huge fan of having our personal life totally strung out across the internet 🙂 so, let’s suffice it to say that it’s not a “new” problem, and it is certainly not unique, but some days we handle it better than others. Tuesday/Wednesday was not one of our better days. We joke that we are on plan XXX, because A, B, C, D, etc have all not worked out as we hoped.

Earlier this year, a rock hit my windshield and left a 2-inch upside down “U” crack as a souvenir. I’m not sure why, but with the burden of our latest setback in mind, I decided that this would be the week that I would schedule a repair. I’m so glad I did…enter Mark.

Mark called me on my way to work to coordinate my appointment. He showed up cheerfully at my office parking lot and explained the process to me. He was professional, friendly, and unusually upbeat. I could tell that he was one of those people who could pretty much hold a conversation with little participation, which was fine with me because I was not feeling especially chatty. He told me about his family, his childhood, how much he likes his job, and oh yeah, about his lymphoma. He brought it into the conversation so nonchalantly that I’m sure my facial expression gave my shock away. He wasn’t looking for attention, sympathy, or encouragement. He brought it up simply to say that he was grateful for a supportive boss and co-workers who agreed to not treat him any differently.

He raved about his cancer support team, about changing his diet (with the exception of one piece of pizza every Friday), and how he knows that God is with him. He values the time he spends with his family, finds satisfaction in his work, and does everything “on purpose.” If I can sum up Mark in a song, it would be “Life Like You Were Dying” by Tim McGraw. I don’t know the extent of his diagnosis, but I do know that he is living life to the fullest and is not burdened by his problems.

I was floored.

After my windshield was repaired to its former glory, I told Mark how much I appreciated him and how he had really put things into perspective for me. As I walked back into the building, he said “Don’t have a great day; have an AWESOME day!” and gave me a thumbs up.

I went back to my desk and sobbed. Like, hard-core ugly cried. Here I am worked up over what my family is dealing with, and Mark is going through something I can’t begin to fathom…with a smile on his face.

I got a phone call from a manager towards the tail end of my meltdown…

 

Manager: Are you ok? Do you have a cold? You’re sniffling a lot…

Me: Well, I just got my windshield repaired and the guy was amazing and made me cry

Manager: Hmmm, I’ve had many windshields replaced…but they’ve never made me cry

Me: haha well it’s a happy cry, I think…I can’t tell you about it because I’ll start up again

Manager: It’s ok, I cry too. This morning for example (tells emotional story)

 

I’m not saying that one set of problems is bigger than another (although in this case, it’s  probably true) or that we have to be happy all the time…but it’s our attitude that counts. Perspective is everything. Live in view of Eternity.

I’d be lying if I denied being emotional the entire day. But, today has been better. To everyone who’s provided encouragement, offered prayers on our behalf, and given hugs…thank you. Please also remember Mark and his family in your prayers, as he is in mine.

One last thought. A close friend sent me this below – I’m not sure where it came from, so I can’t give proper credit where credit is due, but it’s too powerful not to share.

Learn to appreciate difficult days. Be stimulated by the challenges you encounter along your way. As you journey through rough terrain with Me, gain confidence from your knowledge that together we can handle anything. This knowledge is comprised of three parts: your relationship with Me, promises in the Bible, and the past experiences of coping successfully during hard times.

Look back on your life, and see how I have helped you through difficult days. If you are tempted to think, “Yes, but that was then, and this is now,” remember who I am! Although you and your circumstances may change dramatically, I remain the same throughout time and eternity. This is the basis of your confidence. In My Presence you live and move and have your being.

Isaiah 41:10;  Psalm 102:27;  Acts 17:28