30 April 2014

The Hidden Art of Homemaking

Book Club Wednesday

This book by Edith Schaeffer has been circulating through all of the young moms at my church, so much so that I couldn't wait for my turn to read the book so I just ended up ordering it on amazon! (so impatient, I know!)

Have you ever taken time to just sit and think about all the things that God has created?

Leaves, grass, the galaxies, the ocean, stars, mountains, babies...

Isn't He the perfect artist?

In Colossians we are reminded that "For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible."

God created ALL things.  

All things visible: my front lawn, the buds on the trees, the rain pouring down my window, and Micah's chubby fingers come to mind.

Our God is so creative.

Think about you as a homemaker, how you create things.  I'm thinking of tonight's meal for example. I made a quick inventory of my ingredients.  I chopped, I planned, I rinsed, I cleaned, and I seasoned.  (my favorite part is the seasoning).  When we create we come up with an idea and we do our best to our ability to follow through and carry that task out.  We make a choice and then we follow through.  
But because we are human we are limited by choice and talent and sometimes resources.  Come on, have you ever thought of the perfect meal, and did not have all the ingredients you needed?  Have you ever made a meal and it was a flop or worse...burnt?

God has no limits.  He has endless choices, talents and resources!  That's why all He has created is perfectly planned out and executed perfectly, perfectly timed.

I am so glad that He loved me.  I am so glad that He created me.  He has given me a purpose.  He has timed my life out perfectly and any surprises that come my way, or problems, He already knew about and expected, and has the answer for...what a relief.

Today I am taking time to enjoy the sound of the rain on my window.  I'm listening to the wind in the fire place, and I'm smelling the yummy chicken cooking....and I am thankful that God is the perfect artist, and that He has made me one too.



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29 April 2014

Team Rudanovic is Growing!

The Next Chapter For The Home Team

You may remember the last time I interviewed Morgan when she was pregnant with her latest bundle of love.  Well, now that Jordan Foster Rudanovic is here I wanted to touch base with Morgan and see how she was doing with her new addition and how she prepped her older son Desmond for the baby to come.

I absolutely love highlighting other Moms because A. They inspire us to all be the best at what we do. B. It encourages me that I am not alone in my motherhood journey. C. I am so thankful to have met so many awesome moms who truly make me a better mom!

Jordan Foster was born on April 8th...here is my interview with Morgan....

How did you prep Desmond for his new brother?

We discussed mommy's belly a lot with Desmond beforehand. He wasn't that interested until Sara Jones and Deanna Sgalambro had their little ones. Then all he would talk about is "Nate has his sister and Dray has his brother, when do I get my brother?" So I would really say seeing other babies prepped him on what was about to happen.

What are you most excited about in meeting this new little guy?


We can't wait to see what he looks like!  (Jordan looks just like his Daddy!!!!)

Lastly, what new tradition will the four of you be able to do now? Or what are you excited to teach/share with Jordan?


We are so excited to have two boys who will grow up playing with daddy and mommy in the backyard. We are both very into sports and games so it will be fun to continue that with our boys. Desmond already loves playing in the backyard!  We are also excited to teach Jordan to pray and to see him grow up being taught the truth of the Gospel and the grace that has been extended to those who trust in Jesus.

**** Morgan and Chris are one of my favorite couples at Jacobs Well.  They are down to earth, very funny, and the hardest working pair I have met.  There is also a huge measure of excellence in everything they do.  They lead the Well Kids ministry at our church which is all of the education programs for the kids.  I am so excited to join their team this summer.  I'm teaching K-2nd grade this summer and helping out with VBS.  I really felt like God was pushing me to teach more at church and use my gifts there for Him.  I was so glad when the opportunity came up!


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28 April 2014

Expanding the Family

Growing in Love and Size

One of my many fears about being a mother is meeting everyone's needs. It was always my same fear as a classroom teacher too.  You are given these beautiful gifts in the form of children/students, and you want to do everything you can to not only teach them everything they need to know, but you want to love them, stretch them, inspire them, and push them to be all they can be.

When you only have one or two kids meeting one child's need is a challenge.  But because you can focus all your undivided energy on that one child it's totally doable (with God's help of course), then once the next sibling comes you begin the balancing act of dividing yourself.  I think that's one going from one child to two children is so hard at first.  It is such a huge feat to sort of "share" your self, your time, your energy with both children.

I clearly remember crying on the way to my friend's house as I was having contractions with Mark.  Julia was 17 months old and I felt awful that in a matter of hours I was no longer going to be "only" her mommy, but that now she would have to share me and that she would have to learn to wait for things.  I wanted so badly to just spoil her and give her my undivided attention...and yet I knew that things would never be the way they were.  I even thought...how will I love this new baby the way I love her?  



Now, I am a mom of 3.5 kids.  I divide my time between Julia (6), Mark (4), and Micah (1) all the while growing this little petunia in my belly (due in late August or early Sept).  And the same fears go through my head...how will I do it?  I know the correct answer is...with God's help you just do it!  The love will come, the children will adjust to the new member of the family.  And all will be well.  There will be a new normal, just like there was when Micah was born.  And I know God will expand my heart, my horizons, and my perspective on motherhood once again.

Isn't it amazing how in an instant life can completely change?

And isn't it amazing how in an instant you can fall in love with someone you never even met?

Each day my love grows more for this little baby...and although so unexpected, and only by God's grace I am learning to once again stretch my heart and mind and wrap my brain around the wonder of it all.

My darling Julia, my favorite first born
My sweet Mark, my favorite red haired boy


To my favorite chubby little, happy go lucky, always smiling blondie boy
 

And to you my sweet petunia whom I have not yet met...we love you already and we are happy to welcome you and include you into our growing family.


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23 April 2014

High School Chapel

My Passion

Teaching is my passion.  I love it.  I can't imagine not teaching or learning something new each day.  I love to research, I love to write, I love my students, and I loved my classroom and "home" school Timothy Christian School in Piscataway.  I try to make myself available at least once a year, if not more times to speak in chapel to the students.

Most of whom I have had as third or fourth graders or some I have taught when I was subbing when Julia was a year old.  This week I will be speaking with the high schoolers.  The seniors are near and dear to my heart because I had many of them in third AND fourth grade because I looped grades that year and had pretty much the same class the following year.  

My topic this week is going to be on Choosing Godly Friends: Friend or Fool.

This topic took me awhile to put together.  At first I wanted to focus on Honor...that word kept coming to me, but I just couldn't develop it into a good enough "talk" for the teens.  I felt this friendship topic would hit home a lot better because we can all relate to having friends, and knowing godly people and knowing fools.  

I love the verse in 1 Corinthians that says: "Bad company corrupts good morals."  Choosing godly friends and being a godly friend is so important because who we associate with and how we act will affect our reputation and can truly affect our character.  I'm going to stress to the teens tomorrow through many different media examples that choosing to hang around "fools" will get you in a lot of trouble and can have lasting consequences.  

photography by Erin Nicastro Photography


This topic is so important to me because John and I have been praying for Julia, Mark, and Micah's friends since before they were born!  We know the importance and impact friends can have on a child's life.  I want my kids to be salt and light to the world, but at the same time I want them to have a close inner circle of friends who are godly, loyal, trustworthy, honest, and loving.  I want them to have friends who build them up verbally and encourage them to be all they can be (because even if parents do this at home, which we do, sometimes children listen to their peers even more than their parents).  Becoming a mom has taught me that it is my job to pray for my children and to help surround them with godly people to choose from.

Proverbs 12:26 A righteous man is cautious in friendship, but the way of the wicked leads them astray.
John even enrolled our children in Chinese school not only for the academic purpose of teaching them a 2nd language, but he felt it was so important to teach them the value of loving other cultures, investing in surrounding our kids around children whose parents value discipline, education and academics as much as we do.  

Proverbs 13: 20 Whoever walks with the wise becomes wise, but the companion of fools will suffer harm.
I am really excited to go into the scripture and explain what a fool is to the teens.  I don't think we talk about wise/vs fool very often, and I think it is SO important to choose WISE friends.  Fools may be cunning, and crafty, and popular and beautiful, they may be attractive and witty and charming, but a fool will lead you to your death, where a wise friend will steer you on the right path.

Foolish Friends

Proverbs 18:2 A fool does not delight in understanding but only in revealing his own mind. (close-minded)

Proverbs 15:5 A fool rejects his father's discipline, but he who regards reproof is sensible. (disobedient)

Proverbs 26:11 Like a dog that returns to his vomit is a fool who repeats his folly. (repeats same sin)

Ecclesiastes 5: 3 For the dream comes through much effort and the voice of a fool through many words. (always running their mouth)

Proverbs 10: 8 The wise of heart will receive commands, but a babbling fool will be ruined. (always running their mouth)

Proverbs 20: 3 Keeping away from strife is an honor for a man, but any fool will quarrel.  (loves to quarrel)

Proverbs 29: 11 A fool always loses his temper, but a wise man holds it back.  (loses his temper)

Proverbs 14: 16 A wise man is cautious and turns away from evil, but a fool is arrogant and careless. (arrogant and careless)


Wise Friends

Proverbs 29: 3 Whoever loves wisdom makes his father rejoice, but a companion of harlots wastes his wealth.   (loves God's word)

Proverbs 17:9 He who covers over an offense promotes love, but whoever repeats the matter separates close friends.    (forgiving person)

Proverbs 14: 16 (see above) cautious and turns away from evil

Proverbs 20:3 (see above) keeps away from strife

Proverbs 10:8 (see above) teachable spirit, receives commands

Ecclesiastes 5: 3 (see above) works hard at achieving their dreams

Proverbs 18:2 (see above) delights in understanding

Prov. 15: 5 (see above) regards reproof (correction)

Jesus-The Ultimate Friend...how do we become godly friends to others

Prov. 17: 17 A friend loves at all times...

John 15: 13 Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends

John 15: 14 You are my friends if you do what I command

John 15: 15 I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master's business.  Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you.

2 Peter 3: 14 So then, dear friends, since you are looking  forward to this, make every effort to be found spotless, blameless and at peace with him

Colossians 3: 12-14 Therefore, as God's chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourself with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.  Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another.  Forgive as the Lord forgave you.  And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.



I can't wait to share with the high-schoolers tomorrow!  Please pray for me as I speak from God's word that it will soften their hearts and they will be receptive to hearing me.


****Tomorrow I will post the Wednesday Book Club Chapter 6!


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22 April 2014

Success in Spelling: Homeschool Front

On the Home School Front

Wrapping Things Up

As any good teacher would, I like to look back over the year and see what worked well and what didn't with my current students.  This year, Julia who technically is only in Kindergarten by age, will complete First Grade curriculum.  I was very excited to teach her Spelling because A. I am a great speller. B. I know it is a skill she will need as she gets older. C. I knew it would help her vocabulary to grow.  D. I was excited to watch her reading skills increase. E. Did I mention I am a good speller?

The first couple of lists went great!  She was getting 100's like nobody's business.  But as the lists grew longer and the words got bigger she really started to struggle, and the first time she didn't get a 100 on her test, she cried.  It broke my heart to see how hard she was on herself.  It reminded me of me.

So for a few weeks I stopped testing her on Fridays.  I would just do a quick oral test to get an idea if she basically could master the list.  It took the pressure off and she wasn't so concerned about seeing that 100 on top of her paper.  My thing as a teacher is I want to stretch my students but I don't want to break them!  I didn't want her to get discouraged so I felt my new plan was working.

Then I started focusing even more on her reading skills.  I found that once she really mastered the beauty and smoothness of phonetics and special sounds and reading really really well, so much so that she was animated when she read, I saw that her love of writing and care about spelling really grew.  She wanted to write.  She wanted to spell things correctly.  It actually got annoying to some degree because this kid wanted me to spell while I was in the shower, driving in the car, making dinner.  It really became her passion.  And do you think it stopped her when I said, "You have to wait, or sound it out?"  Not.  At.  All.  I love how first graders spell things phonetically and it is completely wrong but totally understandable.

She wrote my sister in law a "Congradulashin" card on her twins and said, "I know you will be a grate mom."

Just recently the past few weeks we went back to the traditional written testing towards the end of the week for a grade to see if she mastered the list and Julia has been getting only 1 wrong or a 100.  I've been so proud of her.  She has done so well.  I wanted to share our success tips in spelling.

Success in Spelling

1. Practice at least once a day orally.  Say the word, spell the word, say the word.  Have your child say their words to their pet.  Have them say it to a sibling.  Have them say it to Daddy when he gets home.  Have them say it in a mirror (Julia loves the mirror practice!)

2. Practice every other day on paper.  You can be creative and write sentences, do ABC order, do cursive handwriting, use chocolate pudding or colored markers.  Make it fun! But practice!

3. Pre-test on Wednesday orally and written and study from the mistakes.  This is what really helped Julia to do well by Thursday/Friday depending on our test schedule because she could zero in on the hard words.

4. On Tuesday write each word on index cards and carry them everywhere, to the store, in the car, to the park, and have them "practice" by themselves.  Visual learners need to see the words more often!  This also teaches your child how to study on their own at a young age.

5. Write sentences OR orally make up a story using all or some of the spelling words to discuss meaning of the words.  Julia and I loved making up silly sentences or stories.  And she also loved illustrating them!


Mommy is so proud of you Julia.  I loved learning and studying with you!

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21 April 2014

Every Mom Has a Story: Michele Ng

The Third Baby Woes

Trusting God No Matter What

I met Michele at Jacobs Well right away.  She and Ming are very sweet and warm people and we are so thankful to know and love them.

Michele found out she was pregnant right after I had Micah.  I can remember nursing Micah at church and talking to her about getting things ready at her for her baby to come.  We were both excited and nervous to add this third member to the family.  Michele has been someone I can totally relate to in her faith, her career (she taught at a christian school in elementary) and now as a stay at home mom.

We are looking forward to double dating with her and Ming super soon!  We both have very hectic schedules so at least we are in the same boat!  Michele has so much wisdom on motherhood and in her faith.  I could listen to her all day.  

Here is her story...

Did you and Ming always envision a family of 5?

1. We did!!! However we didn't think it would be a reality. In fact, Rachel was our surprise baby!! At the time we were both happy with only having Jonathan and Hannah but God obviously had other ideas and blessed us with Rachel.


What has been the hardest part transitioning from 2 to 3 kids (this has been super difficult for me)?

2. This transition from 2 to 3 kids really has been the most difficult for me. I don't know if it's just I'm older this time around but I find myself really tired all the time and not being able to keep up with all the housework. It's also been lonely at times because I've been stuck at the house with Hannah and Rachel due to the crazy winter we've had. I'm not really sure I have fully adjusted yet. I try not to beat myself up about the housework. On any given day there will be toys on the floor, dishes in the sink and laundry that needs to be done & that's ok!! I try to have the attitude of it'll get done when it gets done!! It also helps having a husband who is understanding and will help out with the chores and let you take a 2 hour nap after working a full day!


What would you say your family's mission or goal is?

3. We haven't really come up with our family mission statement yet so this is kind of a "work in progress". First, we want our family to be rooted in the Gospel. We want to raise our kids in the ways of the Lord and we pray that they would be saved and have a relationship with God. Second, we want to live out the Gospel by loving Jesus in serving those who are around us. And finally we want to glorify God in all that we do.


What is your favorite part of motherhood?

4. My favorite part of motherhood is seeing the kids accomplish something they have been working on. With Jonathan it's been his journey with his speech - he went from not really talking at 2 to now reading books with ease! With Hannah it's her ongoing conquest of being afraid of everything. We are still working on it but I'm sure she'll overcome her fears eventually. With Rachel it's been every little developmental milestone she's been able to reach - from lifting up her head, smiling, grasping fingers tightly and now rolling over! I'm excited to see what she'll do this week!!

What is the most difficult part of motherhood for you personally?

5. The most difficult part of motherhood is disciplining the kids and being consistent. It's so easy to make excuses for them or let them off the hook. However, I find that their behavior becomes worse. For example I've had a really hard week with Hannah not listening & doing what I've told her to do the first time. It's been building up all week and finally she threw a huge tantrum after church. After we got home, she was put in time out and cried her eyes out! However, for the rest of the day, she was well-behaved! :)


How has your relationship with Jesus grown/changed through motherhood?

6. I have definitely grown since becoming a mom. It certainly teaches me about unconditional love and being patient everyday. When I struggle with something the kids are doing like not listening or talking back, I find myself struggling with the same thing in my relationship with God. Except it's me that's not listening or having a bad attitude. God definitely uses my kids to point out the things I'm struggling with and the lessons He wants me to learn.


God bless your growing family Michele.  I 'm so thankful God allowed our paths to cross!!!
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18 April 2014

He took MY place...

Easter Traditions

Pretty dresses
Bow ties and suits
Chocolate bunnies
Easter baskets
Jelly beans
Peeps
Lilies
Decorated Eggs

These are all signs of Easter, right?

Well, in this house we have always taught Julia and Mark, and now Micah that the best part of Easter is that it is all about Jesus and what he did for us on the cross.  The best part of Easter is all about Him and not about us.  The month of March we started our Resurrection Eggs (each colored egg has an object of the real Easter story...a nail, a whip, a crown of thorns, a white cloth for burial, and the last egg is empty to symbolize the empty tomb).  It's always my favorite way of re teaching the Easter story because little kids love visual aids and opening things as you read.

This was the first year that Julia got excited about Easter because of the chocolate bunnies...and that scared me.  "Julia, what is the BEST part about Easter?"  Right away she knew I was talking about Jesus.  "That Jesus died for us on the cross."  "Yup! And that he ROSE again...He's alive!"  I don't blame the kids for getting excited to get Easter candy, or see family, or get presents from their grandparents and aunts, but  I do try to remind them that the best part of Easter is that Christ makes all things new...that he died and rose again for me, because of my sin.  That Jesus loves me so much that he died in my place.  He endured pain and suffering on my behalf...that is way better than a basket full of candy.

Isaiah 53:5
New King James Version (NKJV)But He was wounded for our transgressions,He was bruised for our iniquities;The chastisement for our peace was upon Him,And by His stripes we are healed.

I wish all of you a Happy Easter!  He is Risen!



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17 April 2014

The Motherhood Rollercoaster

Hands held high or Screaming bloody murder?

Have you ever been on a rollercoaster? Do you remember your first time? Were you scared? Were you excited?  Did you throw your hands up high and take it all in or did you scream bloody murder until the ride was over?

Motherhood has been a rollercoaster experience for me.  And I know I am not alone.  It is extremely exciting at first.  The baby shower, choosing names, designing nurseries, picking out the safest stroller and car seat, and buying cute outfits! So exciting!

But the minute labor/birth is over, and your baby is in your arms, you look at your spouse and think to yourself, “How in the world am I going to parent this little person?  How am I going to be responsible enough to raise a good citizen?  How am I going to do this? And why in the world is the hospital allowing me to take this precious new thing home?!

When my husband John and I brought Julia home that first day 6 years ago, we were in the parking lot of the hospital.  We strapped her in, we made sure the car seat was secure.  We followed all the directions.  We packed her diaper bag.  We bundled her up on that January morning and we both sat and stared at her in the car and said out loud, “We get to bring her home?!” It was both baffling, and terrifying!

Just like a rollercoaster of emotions we were so excited and happy in the hospital, but the moment we brought her home, and I still wasn’t able to sleep because of visitors, and nursing was painful, and sitting down was painful, and I was just so over tired, the happiness was gone, and reality set in.  Motherhood is no joke.  It is work.  It is painful.  There is no more luxury sleep.   The house still needs to get cleaned, meals need to be cooked, and this baby, this new baby, needs you.  All.  The.  Time.  And trust me when I tell you.  I was so spoiled.  

Julia was the best baby in the world.  She latched properly.  She fell quickly into a rhythm and routine.  She loved bath time.  She did not cry.  I’m serious.  She didn’t.  She was such a good baby, but I was so new at all this.  I was such a great teacher.  I was teacher of the year for crying out loud.  I had my Masters Degree.  Why couldn’t I keep it all together and do this motherhood thing right?  Why was I so hormonal? Tired? And Cranky?  Why did I miss my life before kids so much?  Was I normal?

The mundane jobs of being a mom, changing diapers, food shopping, cleaning, making beds…not so exciting or terrifying, but John and I now have 3 kids…with one on the way…and life just keeps going and you just get busier and busier. 

On my journey of motherhood I have found that each child has brought their own joys and trials.  The roller coaster ride aka as motherhood goes pretty fast.  And once you are on, there are no trial runs or time outs.  You are committed to the ride.  You are a mom forever.

One minute you are burping a newborn and the next you are watching them run!  The next thing you know you are enrolling them in kindergarten or in our case picking out curriculum for home school.   One of my favorite mommy quotes is, “The days are long, but the years are short.”  Isn’t it true?

It’s funny because growing up I always loved babysitting, I always taught Sunday school for little kids at church, and then being an educator and teaching pre-k, third grade, and fourth grade in the classroom, I always thought being a mom was going to be a snap.  If I can lead a classroom of 25 third graders, earn my Masters degree in 3 summers, be involved in missions at church, and be a wife, how hard could a baby be?
Little did I know!

At Jacob’s Well, I have met so many wonderful moms, I have listened to their stories, I have interviewed some for my blog, I have shared my struggles and joys with them.  If you look around JW you will notice one thing: LIFE!  People are either pregnant, nursing a baby, holding a grandchild, or running after a toddler.  I love it.  I love the honesty of the moms I meet.  Motherhood is a sacred calling.  It isn't always thrilling, exciting or fun, and it can be downright scary.  I am so thankful that with my Savior and my awesome spouse, I am not alone.  I can actually throw my hands up from time to time and enjoy the ride!


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16 April 2014

Exploders

Book Club Wednesday

Lysa Terkeurst

Chapter 5: Exploders

I did not expect to get such a big response about Chapter 4.  Many of you shared that you are both stuffers and exploders!  I think it definitely depends on the person or people you are dealing with and the situation.

Many of you shared how frustrating it is to be an exploder because once the explosion is over it may have felt good to "get it out" but the guilt you feel afterward just isn't worth it, not to mention hurting people we love.


This chapter solely focused on the exploder.  I am definitely both a stuffer and an exploder at times.  I am much more comfortable stuffing, but when I just can't take it anymore or and at my peak of stress or anxiety...WATCH OUT!  An explosion will ensue.  And I really hate that about myself.  I never even know when it is going to happen...and forget when I am pregnant.  The hormones....oh, Lord Jesus, help me with the hormones!

I like how in this chapter Lysa shared that she struggled with not being able to function after a disagreement with someone through texting.  She was so frazzled she couldn't even put her shirt on the right way!  She ended up at Target with her shirt on inside out, and the check out lady HAD to mention it.

Have you ever been frazzled by someone's words?

Have you ever tried to call back to fix things only to make matters worse?

Did you explode instead of become the peacemaker?

And afterwards did you get so mad at yourself for not being more calm and patient?

I hear you!

Lysa says, "Raw emotions won't sit quietly awaiting further instructions.  They'll move outward if we explode and inward if we stuff."

That's the tough part about emotions.  WE can't control them.  They are so unpredictable and complicated.
And the shame and regret afterwards only makes matters worse.  What do we do with that guilt and shame we feel after we explode?  Do we use it to motivate us to be calmer next time?  Do we use it to help us to not want the shame to be our reality next time?

Lysa says, "Sip the shame so you won't have to guzzle the regret."

I love that!  Basically she is saying weigh the consequences because the regret you feel afterwards is NEVER worth it and you can't take it back after the fact.

Ephesians 6:12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.
You know what often happens in this life?  We put each other on the enemy side.  We put family members, the annoying lady at the library, the rude man at the gas station, and the sassy mom at the park as our enemy.  We explode on each other we dump on each other and we don't even realize who our real enemy is.  Every time we explode and we hurt the other person, we make Satan so very happy.  That is just what he wants.  To side track us, to cause disunity, and to make people the enemy when HE is the only enemy.

Not to sound corny, but we should be busy loving each other, making and keeping the peace, pouring on kindness and blessings, not dumping and exploding even if the other person "deserves it", even if we are in "the right."

Ephesians 6:19 Pray also for me, that whenever I open my mouth, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel.
I love this verse!

Whenever I open my mouth....words may be given to me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel.

WE must all carefully consider our words to each person.  People are not the enemy.  Try to see the BIGGER picture.  Trust me, I am speaking to myself more than to any of you out there.  I really really needed this reminder today.

Instead of Exploding
1. Begin by honoring the one offended.
2. Keep your response short and full of grace.
3. End by extending compassion.

Lysa reminds us that choosing a gentle reply does not mean you're weak.


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15 April 2014

Guest Post About Homeschool Sisterhood

Homeschool Sisterhood

Today you can find me at The Joy of Homemaking blog where I am guest posting about the sisterhood of homeschooling!  I had so much fun writing this post because God has blessed me so much with awesome sisters in Christ, and awesome homeschool friends who constantly encouraging me in the quest for achieving the highest academics for my kids!


Click the above link to check it out!

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14 April 2014

Every Mom Has A Story: Valerie Woods

Sweet Valerie

I met Valerie at church many years ago before either of us were married or had kids.  Then we crossed paths again at MOPS where we were both just moms attending.  Three years ago Valerie took on the role of leading mops for two years and she did an amazing job!  This is when we worked together on the same steering team and got much closer as friends.

Our boys Mark and Charlie are only months apart, and Mark LOVES Charlie to pieces.  He always wants to be with his buddy Charlie.  They are in the same Awana class and next year they will both most likely be in the same Classical Conversation homeschool coop.

Valerie is a naturally sweet person.  The sweetest I know.  She is super organized and loves artsy crafty stuff because she was an Art major and Art teacher.  She is gifted and talented in so many ways.  I had to spot light her here.  I think she is a great mom!

Here is her awesome mommy story!


When did you and Scott meet?  When did you get married?


1. Scott and I met in the Summer of 2006 through Doctor Steve, a mutual friend of our families. The story goes something like this...Doctor Steve asked my mom to call me into the office one summer afternoon as Scott was the next patient he was going to see that specific day. It was definitely a set-up and more so for Scott as he had no inkling of what was going to happen. When I arrived at the office, Scott was sitting there as was I and Doctor Steve came right out from the hallway and very nonchalantly asked Scott if he knew me and then let us take it from there. Well...to make a long story short, that was history and we got married in November of 2007. I am blessed by my wonderful, loving husband who genuinely loves The Lord and continues to nurture our family as he faithfully serves us!

Did you always know you wanted to be a Mother?

2. Yes!!! I always knew that I wanted to be a mother. My dream was always to be a stay-at-home mom and wife! Without a doubt! I am so grateful that The Lord knows the desires of my heart and provided for me in this area!

Charlie is 4 1/2 and Maeve is 2...have you found them to be totally different or more alike being that they are a boy and a girl?

3. Charlie and Maeve are very much alike! I see so many similar attributes in the two of them. Sometimes I feel like I am reliving exactly what I went through with Charlie as Maeve displays much of the same characteristics at a very similar point in her life. For example, her strong-willed personality, although not as pronounced as Charlie's, began to come through right at the beginning of her life. Her tender, sensitive heart for others and love for her family is as clear as day as is Charlie's sensitive, loving spirit. They both have a passion for life and a joyful personality. They both love The Lord and enjoy learning about Him more and more everyday.
Charlie and Maeve both love music! Charlie channels his love of music more instrumentally as he continues to take piano lessons and Maeve expresses her musicality through dance. She is a mover and a shaker-a very kinesthetic personality! I must mention Charlie's love of art as well! Suggesting any kind of art project be it drawing, painting, gluing, sculpting, etc., sends him on an artistic journey!  Differences aside from gender and looks (I have a chocolate and a vanilla) are limited and I continue to look for them. 

What is your favorite part about being a Mom?

4. My favorite part of being a mom is feeling that unconditional love for my children everyday and being able to pour into them and help to mold them as The Lord guides me. I love the wonder that my children display when they learn or experience something new or do something that they love!

I heard you are homeschooling...do you love it? How is Charlie doing?

5. Yes! We are officially homeschooling. It is very exciting and I am really enjoying it. You asked how Charlie is doing. He is soaring! He is fluently reading books and really enjoying math! We are learning about money and time in math right now. We love AWANA as it helps me to incorporate devotions and bible study into our curriculum.

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11 April 2014

Every Mom Has A Story: My Sister Laurie

My Beautiful Sister

One awesome thing about marrying John is that I got another wonderful sister!  Laurie is such a sweetheart.  She is one of the most honest, supportive, loving, take the shirt off her back type of person there is!

We are all on pins and needles waiting for baby Ava and baby Niklas to arrive!  TWINS!  A boy and a girl...does it get any better?!  I am so proud of my sister for taking such great care of herself, for eating right, drinking water, even though she hates it, and already being the best mom she can be!

Here is her amazing Mom to be story!

1. When did you and Kelsey meet and how long before he proposed?

Kelsey and I met in November 2010. He proposed in October 2011.

2. Did you guys want to start your family right away? Did you ever imagine you'd have TWINs?!

As soon as we got married we wanted to start a family right away. It took us a while but now we are almost 9 months pregnant and feel so Blessed! We used to joke about having twins or triplets. Then God decided we are having TWINS!  We never really thought that was going to happen! LOL

3. What are you nervous/excited about when the babies get here?

I think I'm nervous about the normal stuff like changing the babies, putting clothes over their head when they're so delicate and just basically keeping up with two babies at one time LOL. I'm just praying I do everything that is best for the babies.
Kelsey and I are just excited about everything! We can't wait to meet them and see what they look like and have our beautiful family together and make wonderful memories!

4. How hard was it to come up with a boy/girl name?

Oh my gosh it was so hard! Kelsey and I had totally different ideas about baby names. He wanted Swedish/Scandinavian names and I wanted more American names. We each made a list and then crossed off what we didn't like. We thankfully both had Ava on our list so that one was easier. Our boys name took forever & we finally agreed on Niklas 😃


5. So the babies will be here before or on May 1st....are you ready????? What do you still have left to do?

Yes! I think we are ready! We finally put the car seat bases into the car the other day. The last thing we need to do is just to have them checked to make sure they are in correctly!

Laurie we are so excited and happy for you!  Julia and Mark and Micah can't wait to meet their new cousins and help out. Especially Julia, she is a mommy in the making.  Remember my only advice: Philippians 4:13 I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me!
You got this!  You both are going to be awesome parents!  And I for one, can not wait to spoil my niece and nephew!

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10 April 2014

12 Years A Slave

Movie Review

Last Night was date night.  Kids were put to bed by 8:15 which is very early considering we let them stay up til at least 9pm on most nights to have Daddy Time.  

John picked up a movie from Redbox that I have been aching to see since it won so many awards this year for best picture.  Steve McQueen directed this film and I couldn't wait to see it for myself.  It is sadly based on a very true story.  My recommendation for all of you out there, do not watch this on a date night.  It was such a sad and cruel movie about our history's past (which I knew it would be) but seeing it was really difficult at parts.  And definitely not a romantic mood movie.

I think it left both John and I just plain MAD.  How could things like this happen in our country not so long ago.  In the North this man was totally free, and after a week of trickery with two musicians (the main character plaid the fiddle) he ends up being sold into slavery in the South.  A minute ago he was with his beautiful wife, in his home, with his daughter and son, and the next minute he's in a dirty basement outside of DC, with shackles on his hands and feet.

The part of the movie that got to me the most was the beatings and the cruelty, and the rape.  Slaves were seen basically as cattle.  They were sold completely naked, it was awful to see how debase our society was and it was all about making money off of their free labor.  The part that got John the most (I think) was the way they separated families.  I mean young kids were sold separately from their mom and it was devastating to watch.  And once the mom arrived at the new plantation crying over her lost babies, the woman of the house said, "Don't worry your children will soon be forgotten."  I really wanted to smack that lady!  No mother ever would or could forget her children.  No matter how many days, months, years, slip by.

This movie was so well directed and acted, painful at times to watch, but definitely a must see.  Sometimes we have to remember the painful past to step forward into a brighter future.  I am so glad this movie won awards.  It deserved every single one.

I learned that just because the Masters were cruel to the slaves, they had major issues as well, whether it be alcoholism, or just hardened hearts.  It reminded me that we all have this broken/hard heart problem and that we all need a Savior. Every time I saw a scene where a man or a woman, or a child was beaten by the Masters, I thought of Christ.  He took a horrible beating for me.  Because of my sin.  And it made me reflect on the fact that I have the same heart problem that these men had.  The main character of the movie, Solomon, needed a hero, he needed a hero to get him out of slavery.  He needed his papers back in the north which said he was free.  And it made me think how Jesus paid for my freedom with his blood on the cross.  By his stripes we are healed.

This movie was a must see.  

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09 April 2014

What Kind of Unglued Am I?

Wednesday Book Club

Lysa Terkeurst

Chapter 4 What Kind of Unglued Am I?

Am I an Exploder or Stuffer?

"It's both healthy and productive to identify the issues that cause us to react badly when we are stressed, irritated by people who get on our nerves, stuck in conflicts, feeling hurt or causing hurt, at the mercy of raging hormones, or drenched in our raw emotions."

Okay, so let's start with me.  I'm definitely a stuffer.  I'd much rather stuff my feelings than confront for fear of an explosion.  However, it is so easy to read me that most of my friends, and the people who really know and love me that they can tell when I am hurting or stuffing even when I say, "I'm fine!"

"Exploding means pushing emotions outward." 

If you are an exploder you probably regret every time you explode.  You may have stern words, harsh looks, raise your voice, and have demonstrative gestures.  But you know what at least you get your yucky feelings out!  Although, once they are out they do damage to whomever is in your crossfire.  That's the thing about our words...they can deeply hurt those around us.  And we can't take them back.

"Exploding feels good in the short term, but awful in the long term."

One thing I absolutely love about John is that he is not either one of these.  Seriously, he's pretty darn perfect at times.  It's annoying.  I think one of the many reasons I married John was that he has been such a level headed even keeled person.  I grew up in a home where there was a lot of exploding and stuffing going on and when I sought a mate, I really looked for someone who was super stable and authentic and honest.  Growing up in a home like that was rough because I never knew what to expect.  It was a scary feeling.  I am so glad I married him because I couldn't handle exploding or stuffing from him.  I think that would make our marriage very difficult.  We really have great communication and talk things out before they get to an exploding or stuffing emotion....thank goodness!

"Stuffing means pushing emotions inward."

I hate being a stuffer when I am hurt because it just hurts all the more and then I get angry for being hurt and I get madder and madder at the situation and it spirals into something really ridiculous.  God has really taught me to be honest when I am hurt and say, "That bothered me."  "Or that is not okay to say."  At least then I can get the emotion out and deal with the hurt right away.  Stuffing just prolongs everything!


4 Categories of Unglued Reactions

* Exploders who shame themselves
* Exploders who blame others
*Stuffers who build barriers
*Stuffers who collect retaliation rocks

No matter where you fall in any of these categories, know this, whatever, whichever you do, you will pay a cost for coming unglued.

I love when Lysa talks about Soul Integrity: "honesty that's godly.  It brings the passion of the exploder and the peacemaking of the stuffer under the authority of Jesus."

That's what we all need.  We need help in these situations.  We need time to stop and think instead of stuff or spew.  And that requires a lot of maturity and soul searching and self control.  I will end with this verse in James.

James 3:17
But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere.

We are called in any situation to be peace makers.  And as a mom of 3 I feel like I am constantly trying to keep the peace among my three kids so I know how difficult it is among little ones and big ones.  Although dealing with little kids is sometimes easier.  In life we have a choice, we can explode, we can stuff, or we can be the hero and keep the peace.  

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08 April 2014

19 Weeks

Our Fourth Baby Blessing

We are due on Sept 2 with baby number 4!  In 2 weeks we will find out the gender of the baby.  I tried to find out at my 16th visit but the baby was shy and didn't cooperate during the ultrasound.

The next appt. is an anatomy visit where the ultrasound is very extensive (usually an hour) and they check all the organs.  I'm really starting to get excited and anxious to prepare for what comes next.

Boy or Girl it doesn't matter to us.  We already have one of each as it is and we have been so super blessed with 3 healthy children.  John and I are really still amazed that our family is still growing!  But you know what, we do pretty well when our hands our full.  We both work well under pressure.  And we have an awesome God who constantly  provides strength and grace and wisdom when we need it.  So at this point I kind of just feel like...we got this!  

This past week and this week have been the most normal for me.  I really don't feel "pregnant".  I still run all over the house like a mad woman doing chores, climbing over baby gates, dusting, cleaning, vacuuming, bending.  I think the bending at times does get to me, but other than that I feel great and I am so glad to not be nauseous anymore.  Although I do not crave coffee every morning like I used to.  I have had a few cups of it in the last week or so, and they have been nice, but it's definitely not a habit I am going to start again.  Tea suits me just fine.

I haven't been back to the gym yet, but I plan on walking 3-4 times a week with my new Nike Sneakers to stay in shape.  And I love stretching in the morning and at night.  Maternity tops are a must at this point.  I got a few cute dresses at Gap for the Spring.  And my love of black stretch pants and flats continues.

Thank you for this sweet, precious gift Lord, I know you will bring us joy no matter what.

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07 April 2014

Giving It All

They Learned A Valuable Lesson

John has been priming and prepping these two all week.  Each night at bed time he would tell them a new story in the Bible about how someone gave their all, or gave up something super valuable to bless someone else.

I had no idea what his goal was, not until this past Friday night when Julia was in tears.  She found a brand new barbie that she had never opened from her birthday in the garage and John was hoping she'd forget about it.  But she didn't.  When she found it he said to her, "Maybe you can give it away to a little girl in India who doesn't have one."  Well, that was a horrible idea apparently!  How could she give this beautiful new barbie to someone else??? It was still in the box and she NEEDED it.

John told her it was her decision.  But he laid on some pretty thick guilt (I thought) and told her to pray about it.  She was so torn.  I could see she wanted so badly to share and give to others but she just couldn't part with this doll for some reason.

Well, the next day, the big kids had their opportunity to do something great.  John told them he was bringing them to the bank to empty all their coins and cash them for dollars.  Then he was bringing them to the mall to buy Legos for the children in India.  They had a choice.  They could give some of their dollars or all of their money to Daddy for the payment of the Legos we were buying.  They could not buy anything at the store for themselves.  We were there only for the children in India.  In the car John handed each kid their dollars.  They both had $11.  I thought for sure they would give John maybe a $5 or a $1 bill.

We picked out the Legos.  The kids chose really cool ones for the other children.  Then we got to the register.  The moment of truth.  John asked them, "Julia, how much are you going to give towards the purchase?"  No hesitation..."All of it."  "Mark, how much are you going to give towards the Legos?" "$13!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!" he shouted.  To which we all laughed and said, "Buddy, you only have $11."  John and I were SO proud of their choice.

The minute we left the store (this is my favorite part) John scooped up both the big kids.  "We are so proud of you two.  Do you remember what God said through Malachi:  To test him in giving and that then He would open up the flood gates of heaven and pour out a blessing on them.  So guess what?  Guess where I am taking you right now?"  Julia and Mark looked so confused.  They had no idea.

"Daddy is taking you to the candy store and you can pick out anything you want!!!"  Oh, the excitement and cheers!!!! Even I was happy!!! Even Micah was blessed.  He got to eat his first chocolate covered pretzel.  

I don't think Mark fully grasped the extent of his gift.  He is still learning about the value of money.  He is only 4.  But to see the struggle that Julia had and to see her heart so raw.  And then to see her the next day give so graciously made me so thankful and proud.  I honestly couldn't believe it.  I was so glad to be a part of that moment.  I was so thankful that John took the time this past week to tell them stories in the Bible about giving, tithing, and being generous.  It was just so super neat to see.  Julia even told me that she prayed about the Barbie situation and asked God to help her to be more giving.  Bless her heart.

So this weekend the big kids learned a very valuable lesson.  They learned that it truly is better to give than to receive.  They learned that God does reward good deeds.  They learned that their Daddy is awesome.  And I learned that sometimes even bystanders (like me and Micah) get a blessing from the goodness of others.  

Malachi 3:10

Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this," says the LORD Almighty, "and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that there will not be room enough to store it.

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04 April 2014

Perfection

Photography by Erin Nicastro

Friday Wisdom

2 Corinthians: 13:11
Aim for perfection, listen to my appeal, be of one mind, live in peace.  And the God of love and peace will be with you.

The Dictionary defines perfection as the quality or condition of being perfect.  The act or process of perfecting.  A person or thing considered to be perfect.  An instance of excellence.

Oh, wow, how I just long to be perfect.  It's really to my own detriment.  I know I can't be perfect, but so often I want to be.  I want my day to go just as I planned it to be.  I want everyone to be hair brushed, washed, buttoned, and with a belt on please Mark.  I want my meals to go as scheduled.  I want school time to be an ever present passage of learning and understanding and lightbulbs to be flashing on!  Sometimes I get complaining, crying, and lots of "I can't do this!"

If I am supposed to be excellent in all things then my meals need to be perfect, my kids need to be perfect, my marriage needs to be perfect, right?  How will I ever measure up to my own standards, forget about Gods?

But that's not what God's word says.  Today in my devotional I learned that perfection starts at the core.  Perfection starts with my heart.  Do I have a clean heart before God?  How does He see me?  I can walk in Christian perfection (and not have a perfect meal plan, and mark can be without a belt) if my heart is right and if I am truly seeking God.

Phew!!!!!!!!!!

Did you hear my huge sigh of relief?

I hope you can rest in HIS perfect love and peace today.  Have a great weekend!

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03 April 2014

What's the stink about Noah?

Husband/Wife Movie Review

I really love when John gets excited about one of my upcoming blog posts.  He knew how I felt about the movie Noah and he wanted to share his point of view also.  And being that he's awesome, and my better half, I totally let him.

John's View

Thoughts on the movie “Noah”

My opinion of the movie as it pertains to a film:
Fantastic actors and acting, amazing cinematography, awesome special effects.  I would highly recommend it.

Thoughts on the controversial aspect:
I do believe that in an attempt to be faithful to Jesus the conservative zeal of conservative Christians (of which I am one of) can lead us in the opposite direction Jesus might be going.  (You see this often in the Gospels when Jesus ate with “sinners.”  I think this may be the case here with the criticism Noah has faced.
I’m pretty sure every biblical movie that has ever been made had its own dose of artistic embellishment by the writers/directors.  For example, the 1956 10 Commandments with Charleston Heston.  Um, where was Aaron?  Didn't he do all the talking to Pharaoh for Moses?  Or how about the Passion of the Christ.  Which verse was it that little demon children were haunting Judas?
The greater issue than artistic embellishment to believers should be theological truths, what the theme of the movie communicates and the intention of the director to either highlight or degrade the Biblical accounts.   I think Noah certainly tried to highlight and appreciate the Biblical account with some creative imagination.  In contrast a film like the Di Vinci Code clearly tried to tear it down (with some horrible historic amnesia might I add).  

Here are some of my favorite theological themes and truths the movie Noah communicated:

1. There is one creator of heaven and earth who made all things by His power and might and should be worshipped by humanity.
2.       Mankind sinned in the garden of eden, a perfect place where God, man and animal communed together in a perfect world.  Man sinned by disobeying God and sin entered through our disobedience.
3.       The creator is loving and merciful yet also is holy and the righteous judge of mankind who hates unrighteousness. 
4.       Sin is in every man, even those who live righteously (Noah).
5.       Man deserves God’s judgment but also provides a way out of that judgment. 
The one effect Noah had on me was that it inspired me to go back and read the story of Noah.  The creative areas that were not mentioned whatsoever in the Biblical account were to me, fantastic imagination that inspired my faith (even though I knew it wasn’t accurate).  The angels that were banished to the earth because they loved Adam and wanted to help him, crash landing from being cast to the earth,, hitting it and becoming encrusted with rock and mud and looked like deformed rock creatures with a glowing core – come on! - Fantastic imagination!

If you never went to seminary you may not know that ancient believers told stories about biblical powerhouses with their own twists to inspire faith (i.e. Testament of Abraham).   Gnostic Gospel writers on the other hand tried purposefully to corrupt the faith with their stories of a false Jesus.  Two very different positions in antiquity.  Here with Noah we have a mixture.  A non-believer appreciating the Biblical account. 
I’m glad an atheist found such an interest in the account of Noah and he portrayed it in an exciting way and also stayed completely true to theological themes the Bible communicates.  I am thankful that a non-believer took a step towards us with his work.  He gave us a great bridge to conversation we should be happy to dialogue about.  I think Jesus would have had dinner with the director and encouraged him in the longing of his heart towards God’s Word and righteous character.  Jesus did this all the time in the Gospels, I think we should follow His lead. 

Kristi's View

After reading John's movie review all I wanted to type was DITTO.  But here's a more wordy answer:

First of all, I do not understand what the "stink" about the movie is?  It's a movie about Noah made in Hollywood by an atheist.  Did Christians think it was going to be a totally accurate portrayal of the Bible?  And why would Christians not want to see a movie that was inspired by the bible and may have used some creative licensing...the bible does not tell us everything that happened in the story of Noah.  Some things are left unsaid. 

The director (I watched an interview on Friday with him) wanted to make this movie since he was 13 years old.  How cool is that?  He has been wanting to make a movie about Noah since he was 13 and was able to reach that goal and have Russell Crowe star in the movie as Noah...AMAZING!

As a believer, I was so excited that this movie was out and even put into the theaters!  I see movies like this as an opportunity to talk about God even more to all my friends.  Isn't that what we are told to do in Matthew 28?

The movie was beautifully done and it was SO COOL to see the ark! (The Director used the actual cubits and sizing from the Bible) It was AMAZING to see the animals on the ark.  The whole movie is about how God loved man, and how wicked man got, and how God had to punish that sin because he is holy.  Ummm, that is all biblical.

Throughout the movie I just kept marveling at the directors imagination and at God's workmanship of the earth.  And the common theme that is so prevalent in my every day life that rang true throughout the whole movie: God always provides.  Noah was constantly amazed at how God always provided all along the way as he built the ark and how God preserved his life and his family's life on the ark.  This was all portrayed clearly in the movie and beautifully done.

Should young children see this movie?

I would not allow my children to see this movie because of the violence portrayed and the wickedness of man.  I can read them the story in the Bible and leave it at that.  But when my children are teenagers and can see past black and white issues and not take everything literally because the director used creative license...absolutely I would let them see it.  And I would love to talk and dialogue with them about it and answer any questions they may have.  As parents we need to talk to our kids, explain things to our kids, and teach them how to differentiate between real and Hollywood.

The movie made we want to re-read the account of Noah in Genesis 5


I am confident in my faith and the integrity of the Bible that I could see this movie and see past the creative licenses.  I totally enjoyed the movie and I am so excited for the conversations I can now have with friends who have seen it.  Any movie that makes me want to dig deeper, read the Bible more, and love my God and marvel at his love and provision for mankind, is a great movie to watch in my opinion, plus I got to see it with a really handsome guy whom I love dearly.



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02 April 2014

The Prisoners

Book Club Wednesday

Unglued by Lysa Terkeurst

Chapter 3 The Prisoners

Labels are the worst!  "They imprison us in categories that are hard to escape."

Yeller.

Jerk.

Nerd.

People pleaser.

Sensitive.

Insecure.

Over achiever.

Baby in the family.

First born.

Middle child.

Party girl.

No matter what label people might stick on you it can make you feel bad, or less than.  Have you ever read the Max Lucado book, You ARE Special.  It's about a little boy who gets labeled and because of his low self esteem every time someone says something negative about him he lets it affect him.  Poor guy.  And the words leave a mark (dot) on his body.  But then he meets a little girl with no marks a lot of confidence.  When people try to label her and say things about her she just goes to her Maker and reminds herself who she really is.  "The dots only stick if you let them."

I love this children story because I am like that little boy Punchinello.  I let people's words leave their mark (dot) on me.  I let their words affect me.  And sometimes it's even someone's lack of words.  I have realized that one of my love languages is Words of Affirmation.  I think that's why I like Facebook.  Instant gratification that I am ok, that the job I am doing as a mom is good, that I am good enough that I am accepted all by a simple "liking" from another person on Facebook or a sweet comment.  It's really the dumbest thing ever.

I should be more like the little girl who isn't affected by positive or negative comments from others.  I should be more interested in sitting at my Makers feet and learning from him.  Not busy waiting to hear a positive response from people on Facebook.  

Labels can also make us more susceptible to comparing ourselves to others.  If we are unorganized we may say, "Why can't I have a house like ______________?"  Or if we don't cook well, "Why can't I cook meals like _____________?"  Instead of doing the best we can with the gifts/talents we are given we want what others have.  And in this day and age (media driven) everyone knows everyone else's strengths AND weaknesses by scrolling down their Instagram pics or Facebook profile, or reading their tweets.  Seriously, do we leave anything left to the imagination anymore?

But is change possible?  If you are always late, should you just accept it, and label yourself a late comer, or should you challenge yourself to strive to be on time?  I know there are times when I want to give up in certain areas, but the Holy Spirit always convicts me to keep pressing on and keep trying.  I ask God to change me, and to mold me, and chisel me, because I don't want to stay stuck in a bad habit or way.


One thing I love about God's word...He teaches us to give grace to others because we need so much grace, and he also teaches us to press on towards change.  

"For we are God's Workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do." --Ephesians 2: 10

Grace

The longer I live, the more I see how we are all so broken and we all need grace extended to us.  As a newlywed I would sit in the pew at church and silently wonder why these families who strolled in late every week could be so rude!?  I mean really...can't you people be on time ever.  And as God added another baby in my life...all 4 times....I started to see just how challenging it can be to feed, wash, and dress 5 people and get to church on time.  Does that mean I have given up and stroll into church late every week?  Absolutely not!  But if I see someone come in late I no longer have that critical thought.  My first inclination is a heart of grace, especially for nursing mothers, the elderly, and families with young children.  You just never now how hard it can be to drive to church in a van with 5 people until you do it each week.

Before you label others or start to be critical of other people, take a walk in their shoes.  Think about what their life was like 15 minutes before you saw them.  And pray for others instead of critiquing them.  Watch the words of judgment before they come out of your mouth.  I didn't mean to dwell on the time example I guess that is one that is near and dear to my heart because I care so much about being timely and it bothers me immensely if/when we arrive late anywhere.  I've had to learn to give myself some grace!

Call it Grace

1. Identify the label as a lie meant to tear me down.
2. I chose to view this circumstance as a call to action, not a call to beat myself up mentally.
3. I used the momentum of tackling one label to help me tackle more.

Don't let labels imprison you.  Trust God to chisel and change you.  We are all beautiful in His sight.  He made us and we are not perfect but a work in progress!

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