#29

#29

Happy 2018!!! It’s gotta be true what they say, that “the days pass slowly but the years fly by.” I clearly remember being in 5th grade with the whole Y2K thing looming over our heads. Is that really nearly 20 years ago? That was also the year that OU won the National Championship, just FYI 🙂 BOOMER!

How do you feel about New Year’s Resolutions? Love them? Hate them? Love to break them? According to my very official Google search, 41% of Americans usually make New Year’s Resolutions. In 2017, about 21% of those were about weight loss or healthier eating. Only 9% of people felt successful in keeping their resolutions. The next biggest buckets were Life/Self Improvements and Better Financial Decisions. And, you know, about 67% of statistics are made up anyways 😉 .

I don’t make “official” resolutions, but I do think about things I want to try or do differently in the upcoming year.

Make prayer a priority

I have so many things I’m working on myself for, but this is a biggie. I keep listening to sermons, talking with others, trying to find out how to be better at it, knowing all the while that I just need to DO IT more frequently and conscientiously. It’s like I keep trying to figure out the secret as to why it doesn’t come as easily or naturally for me as it seems to for some others. Even though we are to approach God with reverence, he also wants us to go to him as a child would to their father. Jesus had to teach his disciples how to pray in Matthew 6:5-15 and gave them a model prayer, commonly known as “The Lord’s Prayer.” If something is taught, it must need to be practiced as well, right? My biggest problems are that I try to pray “on the fly” and don’t put near the amount of thought in them as I should, or my mind wanders and drifts different places and I forget that I was even praying in the first place and not just seemingly talking to myself.

So, this year I’m adopting Nike’s line of “Just Do It” when it comes to my prayer life.

Become “Unbusy”

There’s a whole “unbusy” movement going on, and I love it! It’s all about living simply, savoring the “real life” moments, re-prioritizing, unplugging, and changing the way we think of “making the most of your time.” CJ is the laid-back to my crazy and has already told me when I need to say “no” to something. As you know, I can get frantic if I have a lot to do in a (seemingly) short amount of time or if we have too many things planned. Especially because most of the time I feel like I can and should do it all. Recently, we had nearly every waking hour for a weekend scheduled – all with fun stuff, but it sent me spinning. He calmly told me to take something out. I so did not want to, and it was hard to make the decision, but after I did I felt like I could breathe again. If I want to hang out less or not be as involved in certain things this year, don’t be offended 🙂

Detach from my phone

I want to be on my phone less while I am at home and MUCH less mindlessly scrolling through Facebook. I call it “creeping,” but it’s like my first instinct when I have a few minutes or I’m standing in a line is to scroll and catch up on the “news.” Sometimes people announce a social media hiatus with a “I won’t be on here for awhile…” post. That’s not my plan. I plan to just quietly suspend them for a certain amount of time (still thinking about how long). Clearly, I also didn’t start officially Jan 1, because you’re reading this 🙂 .

I have one of those “On this Day” apps, and besides seeing the pics from years gone by, most of what I see embarrasses me with how stupid (sorry Dad, had to use the “S” word) it is. Plus, when we post too much about what we’re doing, it makes it really hard to have a real conversation….because you already know exactly what they’ve been up to! It is nice though because my family (some across the country and some across the world) feel much closer than they actually are. When we get together, it doesn’t feel like we’ve really spent much time apart. By far my favorite thing to do is to share pics of my little sweet thing, but I think her FL Grandma will do an awesome job of holding the fort down for me 🙂 .

After proofreading, it appears I also need to detach from 🙂 ‘s, but, I love them too much and don’t feel like I can express myself or tone properly without them, so….. 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 sorry ’bout ‘cha.

Take out my contacts every night

Self-explanatory. World’s worst over here!

 

Wherever 2018 leads us, I hope and pray that we may always keep God at the forefront of our minds, that we keep everything in proper perspective, and that I may be able to encourage you in even the smallest of ways.

 

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, 

and do not lean on your own understanding.

In all your ways acknowledge him, 

and he will make straight your paths.

Proverbs 3:5-6

 

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#28

#28

“My child will hate reading!!” That’s what I used to think to myself when we forced her to sit still for a few minutes in our lap and read. We received some advice (pretty sure it came from my mom, like most good advice) that a way to teach her to sit still in worship service was to literally have her practice at home. It makes perfect sense if you think about it – if she only has to sit still and quietly 3x a week, she probably won’t be very good at it. Side note: Yes, I realize that she’s a toddler and “still and quiet” are not her greatest strengths. But for her age, I feel like she is very well behaved and rarely has to be taken out.

Anyways, we’ve made it her habit that we read books each night before bed. We always read her little toddler Bible first (we’ve been through the whole thing twice already!) and then she gets to pick 2 (sometimes 3) books. She has to sit in our laps. Daddy always reads her Bible. Mommy usually gets picked for the other 2, unless it’s “The Foot Book” because Daddy made up fun movements to go along with that one.

At first, it was a serious battle every night. She’d be squirming and screaming while we were wrestling and trying to read louder and LOUDER. As she grew, the squirming lessened, the screaming stopped, and she happily plops into our laps with her books each night.

This is actually not the point of this post 🙂

For a few days, she got on a “One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish” kick and wanted to read it every night. I’ve decided that I much prefer the board book versions of Dr. Seuss because they are shorter! I got pretty good at saying the made-up words that rhymed, but there was one page that rubbed me the wrong way.

Did you ever fly a kite in bed?

Did you ever walk with ten cats on your head?

Did you ever milk this kind of cow?

Well, we can do it. We know how.

If you never did, you should.

These things are fun, and fun is good.

These things are fun, and fun is good? I mean, yes, it can be. I totally get that it’s a rhyming children’s book, and if you want to walk with ten cats on your head, have at it! But just because something is “fun” does not necessarily mean that it’s “good.”

It reminds me of a song that’s on the radio right now. It goes like this: “How am I ever gonna get to be old and wise if I ain’t ever young and crazy?” You guys, that’s just foolish. Are you going to make mistakes in your younger years that you wouldn’t make when you’re more mature? Yes. Will you mellow out a bit as you age? Probably. But do you have to make all the mistakes? Surely not – ever heard of learning from history or others’ mistakes?

Most of those mistakes were probably made because it seemed like “fun.” It seemed fun to sneak out of the house to party with friends. It seemed fun to race your car. It seemed fun to cut class. It seemed fun to go too far with your boyfriend/girlfriend. It wasn’t fun when the party got busted. It wasn’t fun when you totaled the car. It wasn’t fun when you failed the class. It wasn’t fun when you had to grow up much too soon and face heartache. Everything has consequences.

It also makes me think of that “Never have I ever…” game. Basically, you hold up 10 fingers and take turns saying something that you’ve never done. If you have done the activity that was said, you put one finger down. First one to have all their fingers down wins (or loses based on how you’re playing). Depending on the crowd you’re with, it can go wayyyyyyyy off track and get out of hand in a hurry. So because I’ve never smoked pot and So-and-So says it’s fun, I should do it too? Don’t think so. Because I think it’d be fun to go to the Mediterranean, should I go? Yes please – start saving pennies! Because I’ve never skydived and my much-cooler-than-me sister has, I should try it? Sure, but someone would have to push me out, haha.

See what I mean?  There are things in my life that I did because they seemed “fun” or “funny” that I am not proud of (like we all have done). We have to be wise when making decisions.

Hopefully I didn’t just make myself sound like the biggest Party Pooper and Debbie Downer of all time 🙂 .

Fun is relative, but wisdom endures.

No, I don’t think Dr. Seuss was trying to brainwash my child. It just got my wheels turning.

 

And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

Colossians 3:17

 

Rejoice, O young man, in your youth, and let your heart cheer you in the days of your youth. Walk in the ways of your heart and the sight of your eyes. But know that for all these things God will bring you into judgment.

Ecclesiastes 11:9-10

#27

#27

I can be pretty high-strung about some ridiculously trivial things. For example, I’ve made it my mission to sit on the “unpopular” cushion of the couch so that they all get worn-in semi evenly. I also utterly despise the amount of clutter that accumulates on my husband’s nightstand/dresser; receipts, mail, old magazines, paperclips, socks (and clothes I folded a few days prior), screws, and coins (aka “owl food” for Avery’s piggy bank) all seem to find a home right there and NEVER stay gone long. But the thing that just drives me batty are dirty floors. (Point of Clarification: at my house. I don’t like dirty floors at my house. So don’t stop inviting me over thinking about your floors, because I don’t notice anyone else’s 🙂 ok, let’s continue).

I love our house. It is the perfect space for our family, we love opening it up to friends, and it feels like home. But, it is 20 years old with original tile in the kitchen – chipped, cracked, WHITE original tile. I hate that tile. I hate that tile so much. Not because it isn’t in mint condition, but because it’s WHITE and always looks dirty.

I don’t know if I’ve mentioned them before, but we have 2 large dogs. One is actually nearing horse-size, I’m quite certain. They essentially spend all of their time in the backyard mostly because, as I said, I hate dirty floors. Don’t feel bad for them – they prefer to be out there too and never want to be in the house long even when I do get crazy and let them in. So how can my white floor show so much dog hair for outside dogs?!

Let’s move on to the toddler. Oh my, I love her dearly, even with the amount of crumbs and spills she is capable of. Such is life, I know. Bless her heart, I think I’ve already rubbed off on her a bit because sometimes she’ll pick up a crumb and hand it to me like she found buried treasure. She also loves throwing things away, which I totally don’t hate either. Anyways, she thinks she’s real clever and will try to fake me out that she’s eaten more of her dinner than she has. She’ll sneak her little hand to the side of her tray while she’s talking to me, and quietly drop whatever it is I told her she needed to eat. If she’s feeling real brave, she’ll act excited about something and catapult crumbs like confetti. I can deal with dinner shenanigans, but what I cannot handle is when she drags her beloved blanket (“Night Night”) across the floor and through the kitchen. CJ laughs because he says the floor is probably equally clean throughout the house and that the kitchen is no different, but Night Night is promptly banished as soon as it hits the tile.

It is seriously embarrassing how upset I can get when I see dirt/dog hair on a floor that I just got done cleaning. Bless you who have managed to stay friends with me for any period of time! There have been times when I literally had to tell myself “just look up. Don’t even look down at it. Just look up.”

That got me thinking – how many other areas of my life can benefit from just “looking up?”

  • Experiences. Last month, we went on a date to see Brad Paisley in concert. We watched several people stop for pictures, people holding their phone up to record the show, and some even scrolling through Facebook while Brad was on stage. I’m sure we have all been guilty of letting our phone be more of a priority than we should at times. But if I am too concerned about getting a good picture or video to share on social media, I’ll miss the whole experience! Put the phone down and look up!
  • Kids. This is an area that is really hard for me, because they’re only little for so long and I feel the need to “document” everything! Similar to the concert, there have been times when I am so focused on videoing or getting a picture of Avery that I miss experiencing life with her. It is sooooo hard for me not to have my camera pointed at her at all times. Slowly, I’m trying to teach myself to enjoy the moment and look up!
  • Scenery. There was a time in our marriage that we were able to go on quite a few hikes. I am as clumsy as a baby giraffe and found myself constantly staring at the trail. Obviously, watch the path and don’t lose your footing, but don’t forget to enjoy the view. When is the last time you actually looked at the stars in the night sky? Or imagined shapes out of the clouds? Look up.

Most importantly,

  • Jesus. Hebrews 11 is sometimes referred to as the “Hall of Fame of Faith” – talk about some great examples of a faithful life! Noah was ridiculed and worked to build a humongous ark before he could even understand what a “flood” was because God told him to. Abraham left his homeland and believed that God would keep his promise to make him into a great nation, even though he had no children at the time. When his son, Isaac, was born and Abraham’s faith was tested, he still believed that God would keep his promises. Moses led the Israelites out of slavery in Egypt, and continued to lead them in the wilderness even though he would not be allowed to see the Promised Land.

And what more shall I say? For time would fail me to tell of Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, of David and Samuel and the prophets— who through faith conquered kingdoms, enforced justice, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions,  quenched the power of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, were made strong out of weakness, became mighty in war, put foreign armies to flight.

Hebrews 11:32-34

I’ve been blessed with some amazing mentors and role models. It’s easy for me to identify characteristics in others that I admire and try to copy them. But as great as they are, my ultimate example for living a faith-filled Christian life should always be Jesus. But how can he be my example if I don’t spend enough time with him through the Bible to really get to know him? I have to do a better job of studying for myself and in prayer so that I can emulate him in all that I do.

Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.

Hebrews 12:1-2

Look up!

#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.

#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.