Monday, December 21, 2015

Ultimate Gift-Giving...

In the hustle and bustle of the season I'm thankful that I have had time to stop. Time to reflect. I haven't made my schedule too full or too tight. I have these gaps of time... well, mainly to clean the house and keep up with laundry.. but at least a time that's not always scheduled.

I've been thinking about Jesus. His coming in the form of a small vulnerable child. His willingness to put on skin and be made flesh. I'm so thankful. I was thinking about my gifts this year. Pale and unpromising. Nothing special. Mostly for my kids. I felt low. Felt ashamed. I don't have much to bring. I'm not going to be lighting up eyes this year. But it got me thinking... the ultimate gift has already been given.

Jesus is that ultimate gift. He gave us Himself. He gave us His perfect life and died the death we deserve and if we are found in Him, if our faith and our hope are in Him, than we have a hope unshakeable. We have the Only gift that is truly needed. That can truly change us. That can give us joy.

So this year, I don't have much to bring in terms of physical presents... but I can point to the ultimate gift. And you can receive Him. It's up to you. He doesn't force His way in. He doesn't demand anything from you. He simply bids you come. He says you are welcome and there's a place at His table.

And how generous of a God who knows my heart longs to give gifts to recognize that He is the BEST Giver... and His gift is the most precious in the world.

Thank you Jesus!

What colors are you missing?


Real food is your friend. It helps bring healing and supports and creates healthy systems: skin, respiratory, circulatory, bones, muscles, DNA. I'm bridging the gap because I don't every single day get all the fruits and vegetables I need. JP+ enables me to receive 30+ fruits and vegetables in my body each day! Are you getting your 7-13 SERVINGS of fruits and veggies?

Saturday, December 19, 2015

KIDS EAT FREE!!!

ALL FIVE of my kids get their 20+ fruits and veggies a day for FREE

Friday, December 18, 2015

Day 11

Day 11 has begun of my 30 day Challenge of Transform30.

So far I've been diligent to keep away from dairy, gluten and sugar. I've been consistently exercising. Eating well. Having the 2 shakes in my day really helps me to stay on track and feel satisfied. I don't feel deprived and the whole food nutrition in my Complete protein drinks is giving me a"willpower" I've never been able to experience before. Starting my day with a concentration of 30+ fruits and veggies helps me to begin my day well!

My body feels happy. Really happy. I'm eating well. Getting sleep. Drinking water. My brain feels clear not foggy and my mood in general is way more stable. I'm not having headaches. I don't feel unduly sore (I mean my workouts are awesome so I do feel that kind of sore) but I don't feel the achy joint sore. Clean eating has been amazing.

And yet... there is a part of me that is scared. What if I fail? What if I don't succeed? What if nothing changes? What if? What if? What if?

And I remind myself of The Truth that my greatest need has already been met in Jesus Christ. And that my hope is not in losing weight or looking better or dropping the 100 I need to. My hope is in Christ. I am doing this for His glory. Disciplining myself and surrendering my eating to Him. Not rushing to food to fix things.

And boy does changing my eating do something to my mind. Because before when I was hurt or sad or low or lonely I could eat to comfort myself. But I've taken that "comfort blanket" away and I'm left truly facing myself. Facing my feelings. And I have to ask myself, "Why am I feeling the way I am?" What is triggering or guiding this feeling? Is it legitimate? True? Is it just a fleeting momentary passion? And I can acknowledge my anger or fear or sadness or fill in the blank and say, Okay God I feel this way.... but I know the truth of who you are and who I am in you.... so let me walk out my actions in the truth... not how I feel in any given moment.

Tonight I can't sleep. I really tried. I just felt up and energetic. I made myself a shake when I felt I was getting hungry and drank water. I read on my Kindle til the Ipad's battery died. I did laundry. I swept the floor. I cleared the table and made it a little more festive for Christmas. I sorted stuff. I checked out flights for January.

So now, I will retreat. I will crawl back into bed and deep breathe and hopefully relinquish myself to sleep. After all it is 4 in the morning now.

So goodnight/goodmorning. I hope this day finds you in peace, filled with joy and expectation of the good things that await you. That each trial and hurdle you face will lead you to a place of deeper contentment and deeper trust in the Lord! And that as we approach Christmas we would be reminded of our AMAZING God who humbled himself and became one of us, taking the form of a baby, and risked everything to rescue us.

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Friday, November 20, 2015

Making One Simple Change

I hear their feet scurrying by my door... actually it sounds more like loud clomping and stomping than scurrying.

The days are full. Therapy for Michael. Cleaning the house. Dishes. Laundry. Making meals. Homeschooling. Teaching. Reviewing. Helping. Checking over work. Planning. Scheduling. Dental appointments. Haircuts. Trips to the zoo and the library. Tutoring Foundations and Essentials at Classical Conversations. Grocery shopping and errands. Spending time with friends. Playing outside.
It's a full life. And a good one.

I love the health I am seeing in my children. I see the transformation of kids who used to be sick often to children who are strong and healthy. Their asthma is gone. No wheezing. No hacking cough. Not tightness of chest. No inahlers. No Zyrtec for seasonal allergies. No runny eyes or noses. I'm seeing them getting better sleep. Eating healthier. I see their emotions being more grounded and calm.

We made one simple change... we added Juice Plus+ to their diets.

And I see how it's affected me.

This Spring, I really believe I had Lyme's... numbness in my face and on my left side of the body. Headaches. Joint pain. Complete, utter EXHAUSTION. Debilitating headaches and migraines. Crippling fatigue. Swollen legs and feet. On top of which, I had severe depression and daily anxiety attacks, PTSD, and general hopelessness.

Now, I see my body getting stronger every day. No joint pain. No muscle spasms. No headaches. My head is clearer. My thinking is clearer. I still can have bad days and feel sad but it's not the spiraling vortex of doom that had me wanting to end my life. My edema is gone. I have energy. I get through my days and I'm not dragging by 2 or 3 p.m. I don't look for caffeine to fix the afternoon slump because I don't have a slump. I feel good. My sugar level is steady. My hunger patterns are consistent. I'm not emotionally erratic. I can see things for what they are. My mole hills are no longer mountains.

In addition to better health, I have the blessing of having my own business! I'm working towards helping to be able to contribute to our monthly income. I'm so thankful! Mike's work has not been as much as it used to be or as consistent as we've needed so I'm thankful that I have a way I can add to our monthly income. One of my goals is to be the one who pays rent every month! But soon after that I want my goal to be to pay the mortgage.... we want to be able to buy a house! And I know we will. I see the good coming. I love my job. I love seeing people who have had Lyme's get better. I love seeing people who have had cancer, heal. I love watching children grow healthy and strong. I love seeing my 91 year old Grandmother able to do physical therapy because she's taking Juice Plus+ and drinking her complete shakes!

I love the healthy changes my family has seen. I love that Juice Plus+ leads to lower cholesterol and lower blood pressure. Healthy gums. Healthy gut. Protects your DNA. Healthy brain. Healthy skin. Supports your immune system. Reduces inflammation. Fights oxidative stress. You can read about the research studies here.

The Complete Protein is helping me create lean muscle mass and burn fat. I use it as breakfast on the go or as a snack. It can be used as a meal replacement or just a great way to get delicious whole foods into your body. It's my favorite middle of the night treat. It helps me get through my busy CC days (classical conversations). The taste is amazing! I don't get the tummy upset I used to get from other protein powders or horrible nasty gas.

Kids can get it free! My children get their Juice Plus+ free through the children's health study! With every adult purchase a child (age 4 to college student) can get Juice Plus for free for up to 4 years! My husband and I cover 2 of our kids and my parents cover 2 more!

Yes even Grandparents can help support their grandbabies having better health!!!

I'm so thankful for my friend Keri who introduced me to Juice Plus+. In fact she let me try it for my kids for free. She cared so much about Samuel's health (having had cancer) and Michael (with cerebral palsy). I can not be more grateful to see how my kids are healthier and function better. Less mood swings. Better sleep. Healthier diet. They crave fruits and veggies now and they have become a part of every meal :)

In the toxic day of age we live in where our water and air and food are so contaminated I'm so grateful for a way to help combat the effects of a broken world with the power of concentrated fruits and vegetables.

What are you doing to change your health? Are you able to bridge the Gap between how you should eat and what you do eat? What one simple change are you going to make to your life? Drinking more water. Moving more. Getting adequate sleep. Reducing stress. There are so many ways to make a simple change.

I found that taking Juice Plus+ has enabled me to change all these areas... one simple change a time!

Wishing you and yours a Happy, Healthy Thanksgiving!

Let me know if you want to be added to a private group on FB for Clean Eating for Thanksgiving


Thursday, November 19, 2015

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Monday, November 09, 2015

Saturday, November 07, 2015

When you are changing your life in huge ways, even with small simple steps it's easy to come up against a wall of resistance. I am there. I can feel the bricks beneath my fingers and look up to see the towering wall that doesn't have an end. There is much that wants to come against me. That wants to crumble my resolve.

"It doesn't really matter that I'm moving more or eating salads and drinking whole-food nutrition," the lies that whisper in my head begin to echo and build in volume.

Shut up. I will not listen to you lies!

I AM changing my life.

I AM becoming healthier.

I AM managing my stress better.

I AM finding healthy ways to cope with depression and anxiety.

I AM moving forward in my life.

I AM confident in what God is doing.

I AM eating more fruits and veggies.

I AM trusting Jesus with my health journey.

I AM going to help other people get healthy.

I've decided to stop looking at what I can't do.... I can't fix or change my past mistakes, failures, or circumstances... but I can change so much of what and who I am NOW!

Jesus, thank you for giving me the strength to move boldly forward. Trusting you to lead me and guide me... to help me love myself and heal my body through the tools you've given and provided... and to help others to find courage to transform as well. Thank you that I'm not alone and even when I feel pressed against a wall. You are for me! Thank you for the good work you are doing! In your name Jesus, Amen.

Friday, October 30, 2015

How Juice Plus+ is Changing My Life

Some of you keep asking what I've been doing lately regarding my health journey.... so I thought I would put it all out here for you...

2 words.... Juice Plus+

My friend Keri introduced me to Juice Plus+ in May because she loves me and cares about my family's health. In particular she wanted to help Samuel, with fighting cancer, and Michael with his cerebral palsy.

The kids and I started in mid-May.

These are the changes I've seen in my children:

-better sleep
-more emotional stability
-less emotional outbursts (especially with Michael! He's not hitting others or himself! He's not telling me he hates me. He's not screaming and throwing fits. He's quick to apologize when he gets upset. He has more self-control!)
-increased cognitive function (no more brain fog with Samuel!) Doing better at school! More attention!
-improve immune systems (if they get sick they recover so fast! and they are not getting sick the way they used to).
- where are their seasonal allergies? They have disappeared. No runny noses. No itchy eyes. No coughing. We have even stopped using Zyrtec completely for helping with allergies!
-drinking more water (they ask for it! I don't even have to push it!)
-Respiratory system! They have been reduced from using an inhaler two puffs twice a day to completely stopping. We have it as a standby for "just in case". We haven't needed it yet! And this with kids who usually get pneumonia, bronchitis and need chest x-rays. Who have had to go to the ER for oxygen! Thank you Jesus!
-Strength! Michael is running! Jumping! He's increased his speech. His strength for physical therapy has continued to increase. He can actually do monkey bars which he could never do before and I have even seen him chase a sibling up Mount Trashmore!!!! Improvement in agility, fine motor and gross motor skills. Endurance.
-Less Attitude. The kids are quicker to respond to correction and when they're told to do something. They're less snappish. I think this can be attributed to a more balanced sugar level! Clearer thinking.
-Less Hormonal Issues. Libby is not up and down. Angry and then crying. Manic and then depressed. She's way more stable and quick to correct herself when needed. She's still a girl. She still has hormones... but they are so much more manageable!

In May, I had gotten to the point where I wanted to get tested for Lyme's Disease. My joints hurt. I was exhausted all the time, even upon waking. I had horrible headaches and a weekly migraine. I felt constantly nauseous. Was overeating all the time. Half of my face felt numb. I had sciatica and numbness on my left hip and leg. I felt I could sleep for 12 or more hours and still be mind-numbing tired. I had brain fog. I felt I couldn't think clearly or make decisions. I craved fast food- sugar, bad fats, and deep fried foods. I was fat and starving (nutritionally), exhausted and sick... and then I started taking Juice Plus+

Changes I've seen in myself:

Less headaches- I think I've had one or 2 headaches in the past 2 months compared to daily headaches!
Less Pain- I used to have daily pain. I was taking 800 mg. of ibuprofen 2-3 X day. I rarely take ibuprofen now. It always shocks me how I don't need it anymore!
More Energy- I have energy to homeschool my 5 kids, tutor Foundations and Essentials for Classical Conversations, manage my own business, care for my community, help with our church plant, participate in children's ministry, active in a support group for Mom's with Children with Special Needs (Living in Holland), and take Michael to 6 hours of therapy a week (physical, speech and occupational)
More self-control- Way way less emotional eating. I often think about why I'm eating and what I'm eating. When I've wanted chocolate I make a Juice Plus+ Dutch Cocoa Complete shake and I'm satisfied. I'm learning how to be in tune with my body. Even my emotions are more balanced for me. I react and I can still get upset but not like I used to before! My mood swings are more stable
Decreased anxiety and Depression: I still have my moments but I no longer have daily anxiety/panic attacks. My depression is more manageable and I have fewer bouts of significant depression and a quicker recovery time..
A desire for more fruits and veggies- I love how I'm eating more fruits and veggies than ever! My diet is rich in color and nutrients!
Better sleep- I fall asleep easily and stay asleep and I wake feeling well-rested!
Easier to make better, healthier choices- It's more of an instinct and habit than me trying to kill myself to do the right things! It feels like a natural extension of myself.
No more infections- I used to get monthly urinary tract infections and yeast infections! NO MORE!!!!
Better intimacy- I will not get specific here.... but Juice Plus+ has blessed our marriage. I will leave it at that.
Healthier Gut- No more Hurting Tummy. No more bowel trouble!
Losing weight and losing inches! I find that I get fuller more quickly and naturally eat less. I'm finding my body is getting leaner and I'm getting more muscle and less fat! I'm not starving. I eat well and I eat often. I even enjoy treats! But they're just that- treats! No more eating sugary laden goodies 3 times a day! I'm still human. I still will have an occasion where I indulge a little more than usual. But most of my diet is making good choices! And I feel great! I'm Down 2 sizes!!!!

There are so many changes and ways that Juice Plus+ has been changing me and my family. I think a huge thing has been the hope that I feel for myself and my family. I believe we have a future. I'm excited for the good things that are coming. I feel encouraged that I'm protecting my family by daily gentle detox and cleansing and nourishing them with fruits and veggies!

So you're probably asking... what is Juice Plus+?

Juice Plus+ is concentrated fruits and vegetables that have been put into capsule or into chewable gummies. Non-gmo fruits and vegetables that  have been picked at their peak of nutrition, washed, (tested for any herbicides or pesticides or chemicals- above and beyond organic!) and juiced, they are then cold dehydeated, keeping all of its nutrition and amazing phytonutrients and then combined and put into capsule! How it's made, you can see a video here.

My husband and I take the trio capsules (orchard, garden and vineyard) and our kids are on their health study which means we get the orchard and garden gummies for FREE for our kids. With every adult purchase of capsules or gummies you can get a child (age 4- college student) for free for up to 4 year!


What are the health benefits?




Are you getting enough fruits and vegetables?

Probably not... Depending on your activity level we need between 4- 6 CUPS of fruits and Veggies a DAY!

We know that we need fruits and vegetables! They are a part of a diet that protects us from heart disease, diabetes and cancer. The FDA recommends that half our plate should be filled with fruits and vegetables. Fruits and veggies are full of vitamins, fiber, and anti-oxidants. They help our immune system, promote a healthy gut, lower blood pressure and cholesterol and help our body to heal on a cellular level.

What if you are! Even the best fruits and vegetable eaters need help! We live in a toxic world: our food, water, and air are full of toxins. We need the anti-oxidants to fight these free radicals!

What is the research  behind Juice Plus+? 

Published medical studies    

Clinical Research Results 


What are doctors saying?  Check out this video.


Juice Plus+ is a way to bridge the gap between what we should eat and how we do eat. Especially with our children!

How can you buy Juice Plus+? Right here!


Tomorrow I am going to talk about my Transform 30 journey! 

I'm starting Monday, November 2 if you want to join me in shedding fat, creating lean muscle, more energy, better sleep, and overall better health! 

I'm going into the holidays with the healthiest me yet!



Friday, October 09, 2015

Keep Running

I was so emotionally exhausted after Samuel's appointments this afternoon that I crawled into bed and took a 3 hour nap! What a blessing my husband is to offer respite to me; he came home from a long day of work and took over.

 I'm so proud of Samuel. I know he was nervous but he did a great job handling his EKG, echocardiogram, blood draws, IV and CT Scan. We follow up with his oncologist, Dr. Lowe, tomorrow. Praying for good news. We want to hear N.E.D. (No Evidence of Disease!)

Ian started throwing up this afternoon while I was taking Samuel to his appointment. He has continued through the evening.

Michael and Peter puppy piled on the bed with me while I napped this evening.

Laundry awaits me and schooling and more organizing and eliminating.

I'm wide awake at 1 a.m. and thinking.

Trying to quiet my heart and still my thoughts. Asking the Lord to direct my gaze on Him and deep breathe while asking Him to be my center.

Asking the Lord to direct my day and show me what to take on and what to defer. What needs doing and what needs waiting. What is my priority that He has for me.

I'm still learning how to move from surviving to thriving. From not just making it to successfully meeting goals and soaring.

How do you simplify life when you have children? Special needs? Lots of appointments? Teaching? A business? Changing your health?

I'm taking it one step, one moment, one day at a time and giving myself to the Lord. Asking Him to transform me more into His likeness and to help me surrender my perfectionism, my anxiety, my fears and my shame-based thinking.

I know there will be a beautiful outcome of all this. I'm not there yet. But I'm embracing what the Lord has given me. I choose to pick myself up out of bed in the morning and put on my running shoes, literally and figuratively, and to follow hard after Him.

Monday, October 05, 2015

Embracing the Present....

I choose to be in the present. Not wallow in the regrets of my past nor dwell on the fears and worries of the future but to allow myself, as best as I can, be present where ever I am. To see, taste, touch, hear, speak fully where I am. To embrace those around me. To love where I am able. To serve and lay down my life.

And when I choose to be in the moment I find a joy. A secret of contentment that bubbles up in my heart because I see grace for each and every need, and peace for my grief and worries, and hope that God is bigger than me. He calls Himself I Am. He is the most present person there is.

And so I run to Him in my time of need. In my time of discouragement. In times of need and plenty. When I danced around the house because, yes, we did pay our rent this month! When I weep for the loss of a precious child and the brokenness that we experience still living in a fallen world, knowing that death has died but for now it separates us from those who have gone ahead. When the shower is broken. When the stickiness covers my floors, my counters and even my bedspread at times.

When there is laughter and tears and anger and peace and joy and sadness dancing in an out weaving patterns throughout my day. My heart soars as I hear my son who has been struggling to read, reading out loud, reading well, and excited that he's really doing it!

When we end up taking several baths in a day because of playing with friends and getting the backsides of our jeans dirty and jumping in puddles... and then doing it again!

When we pause to unload the dishwasher and talk about silly things or when the broken hearted child cries from hearing the news of their friend passing away who they prayed for each night, "God please heal Johnny". He is healed. In Heaven. Before the throne of grace. But we won't see him again until we too are on the other side. And hearing Samuel's sweet reaction, "Mama, He's with God. He's in the best place you could ever be!" So true Samuel.

A day of teaching at home has come and gone. Math and Handwriting and the Egyptian Empire and Invertebrates and Reading out loud and presentation preparation. Preparing now for tomorrow at Classical Conversations with a class that is full and brimming with sweet children that I love and pray for and hope to pour into... hope to reflect Christ to.

Jesus, be my vision. Let me behold you so big that you are all I can see.
that you block out my circumstances, my fears, doubts, anxiety
That there is more of you and less of me.

Jesus, be my guide. Show me the way, what to do what to say
how to live, how to love, how to trust, how to pray
How to give all of me, how to obey.

Jesus, be my Savior. My rescuer, my help in time of need
Remind me that you are enough, you paid my debt, set me free
Thank you that before the throne you always intercede

Jesus, be my Lover. Of my soul. Light of my life.
Help me trust, help me follow, walk by faith, not yet by sight
And thank you that you walk with me always by my side.



Thursday, September 24, 2015

Computer Failings, Hairy Legs and other Reasons to Run to God.

So my computer has been having issues, especially, it appears, when I'm trying to work on my teaching/tutoring tasks. It's a force that keeps driving me to the Lord. My Mac (which I really do love) has been having issues and I know what it's trying to tell me... you need to get a new one. But I don't want to. I can't afford to. And I just want to make this one work as long as it will possibly give me.

Even while typing the last paragraph I had several weird things pop-up on my screen as I typed that I had to click closed in order to keep going. I use my Mac for writing. For creating schedules. For editing pictures. For venting into the air and then rapidly deleting. I use it for teaching, tutoring, gathering resources or just putting my thoughts all into one place.

Please Lord, let this Mac last as long as possible!

My days are full. So full in fact that it doesn't leave me time to deal with my hair legs. It doesn't let me squeeze in all the many needed tasks. And I have to pick and choose what I say NO to. And it's tough. There are so many good things out there. So many ways to serve. So many opportunities to bless others. So many good intentions.

So I'm constantly returning to the Lord and saying "HELP! What do you want me to do with my time, energy, resources?"

Michael's therapy (speech, occupational and physical) occupy over 6 hours a week. Libby has American Heritage Girls and Art. We like to go to the play ground, the zoo, and the library. Add on top of that schooling, managing a house that needs constant upkeep, dishes that must be washed, meals made, errands run, and doing laundry for 7 and top off with my preparation for tutoring in my homeschool co-op and keeping up with my fabulous business and my week is consumed.

And I shouldn't fail to mention all the healthy changes I'm making... trying to eat well, make good choices, prepare healthy meals, get in exercise, drink water, etc. Thank goodness my Juice Plus+ gives me more energy!

I woke up before 5 this morning. I got my Bible Study reading done and worked on organizing my computer files and filtering my e-mail. I'm drinking my delicious Dutch Cocoa Complete Protein drink. I am NOT super woman. This is a day for the exception not the rule.

I have a husband who loves me so much. Mike had already started dinner and took one look at me as I crawled through the door last night and let me stumble into bed. Brought me a drink and then dinner in bed and encouraged me to just read and fall asleep... and I did. Keep in mind the kids were crazy and he managed them. What a treat it is to have my husband home on a WEEK DAY!!!!! I woke up at 10 and night and thought it was morning. I read for an hour and fell back asleep until 4:45. Mike's got incredible tuition for knowing when I'm on a brink of a major melt-down. And I felt I was definitely about to snap... how kind of God and my husband to halt that kind of impending doom.

So with the day ahead of me I will exercise. I will shower. I will gather all the materials I need for the baby shower Saturday. God willing I will get the opportunity to have the kids help me clean the house. By 8:30 this morning my house will grow from 5 children to 8. We will practice our grammar review together and I will let the kids play outside as long as possible.

And I'm thankful. Thankful that the Lord is kind to me when I don't deserve it. Thankful that He gives me moments of respite when I feel too weary to move forward. Thankful to Him for inspiring my brain with ideas and leading me into activities that will bless my family. Thankful that what He calls me to He will provide for.

This grace wraps around me. I know that my worth isn't derived by my productivity, my efficiency, and my accomplishments. In fact, my worth isn't merited by my credit. It's merited by Christ's. His Work was enough. His life was perfect. His death was for me... He sacrificed Himself for me. He atoned for my sins. And He rose, conquering death. Now, I'm a daughter of the King of Kings, a princess. Not because of any work of mine, but because I'm covered by Christ's perfect work.

I can go forward knowing that no matter how much I accomplish or how little that God looks on me with favor. That I am His child. That I am perfect in His eyes... because when He sees me He sees Christ over me. And Christ over me can never be shaken, removed, dulled, or deteriorate. His perfection covers me... in spite of my weaknesses, my failings, my sins. What a glorious Savior.

So whether I accomplish all that I want today or go back to sleep for a few more hours I take hope, rest, comfort and joy in knowing that I am His... and nothing can alter or change that position. I am secure for eternity. I belong to Him.

I hope you know that you too can rest in that knowledge. If your faith is in Jesus Christ as your Savior you can have that hope, that grace, that peace that nothing you do or don't do can separate you from His love. No matter how much we accomplish or how epically we fail we are secure in the work of Christ. His blood washes away our sins. His blood atones for us. His blood purchases us and makes us secure.

This world changes and remains the same. It's evil and dark with glimmers of hope. But our hope can not be in this world, not in our government or legislation, not in the moral fiber of our community... our hope must come from Christ alone. He alone is secure. He alone is unchanging. He alone will never let us go... never let us down... He will never defer our hope. We are secure in Him.

That is my hope and my peace today... not in my early rising and accomplishments but God's unfailing, never ending, never stopping love.... let it consume me today how loved I am and motivate me to pour out myself, my life for others.




Monday, September 21, 2015

Papaw Ralph... and hard good-byes.

He tenderly reaches for Michaels hand and let's Michael crawl up into his lap. I see his eyes soften and his lips turn up in a smile.

I see him with a cap on his head.

I see him with freckled hands that have been worked hard over the years.

I see Papaw Ralph in my mind.

He's gone home to be with Jesus.

I got the news the day before school started. Mike was out of town with work and I was home with the kids preparing for our new school year. I made the decision to not tell the kids. I didn't want to cast a shadow on their first day of school. But it cast a shadow over me. I didn't sleep well. I stumbled through my day. I waited until Mike was home so we could tell the kids together on Wednesday morning. We were packing to leave for the funeral.

The kids stayed in town and Mike, his brother, John, and I drove west. We stopped at their brother, David's home and we enjoyed the fellowship and rest of being with family. I got to see my beautiful niece Soleil and listen to her burbles and squeals. She's amazing. I got to be with my gorgeous sister-in-law and feel the comfort that comes with being a safe person. A person who is loving, kind, accepting, and strong.

Last December with Papaw Ralph
The next day we journeyed together to the funeral. And I had the privilege of being a part of this family. Of standing with them in a time of sorrow. And I admired the community that rallied around them. The songs sung. The meditations given. To hear Papaw Ralph commended and loved. Of the people who knew him, were affected by him, the people who sat with him or nursed him. And after the loving tributes and songs we gathered together to say goodbye.

We stood in the cemetery as his casket with the now bodily shell of Papaw was prepared to be lowered into the ground. But Papaw Ralph wasn't there. He's home. He's with Jesus. No more suffering. No more pain. No more sadness. I'm so thankful for the privilege of being a granddaughter in this family.

That week as we came back together as a family (the kids, Mike and I) we talked more about death and Heaven. How are hope is in Jesus Christ and what He did for us on the cross. How He led a perfect life and died the death we deserved. That He took our punishment upon Himself so that we could be called children of God.

During the week Michael cried. He was heartbroken over Papaw Ralph's passing. I held him and rubbed him with lavender oil as tears streamed down his face. I take joy in knowing that Michael loves much and I ache with him as he tries to understand loss.

When someone leaves their earthly body behind and their spirit goes to be with the Lord, I don't weep for them. They are in a better place. They have arrived. They are home. They have shed mortality and become immortal. They are in the presence of God. Their joy is complete. But it's for us left behind, that move forward with the loss of those we love, that is who the sorrow is for. That is where the grief comes from. The loss. The change. The missing of the person who was always a part and is now always "gone".

The kids and I have been praying daily for our 7 year old friend Johnny. He has a brain tumor and he  had some treatment (chemo and radiation) which has allowed him to live longer than originally expected but we know his time on earth is coming to a close.

And I cry. Not for Johnny. No! He will be with his Lord and Savior Jesus. He will be healed and restored. I weep for his Mom and Dad... for his siblings that won't be able to know their precious brother. I cry because of the brokenness and fallenness of this world.

I know Christ will make all things new. I know that there will be a new Heavens and a new Earth but we are not there yet. And sometimes life hurts. It's painful. I know death is a part of the current reality of life but it's so WRONG! I'm so thankful that Christ has conquered death... that parting is only "for a little while".

Trusting God with these hard good-byes and knowing that it's just for a little while... 

1 Corinthians 13:12 and 13 (NLT)tells us...
12Now we see things imperfectly, like puzzling reflections in a mirror, but then we will see everything with perfect clarity. All that I know now is partial and incomplete, but then I will know everything completely, just as God now knows me completely.
13Three things will last forever—faith, hope, and love—and the greatest of these is love.
Asking God's love to cover us. For faith and hope to guide our journey until we too are on the other side....
2 Corinthians 5: 1-14 (the Message)
1-5 For instance, we know that when these bodies of ours are taken down like tents and folded away, they will be replaced by resurrection bodies in heaven—God-made, not handmade—and we’ll never have to relocate our “tents” again. Sometimes we can hardly wait to move—and so we cry out in frustration. Compared to what’s coming, living conditions around here seem like a stopover in an unfurnished shack, and we’re tired of it! We’ve been given a glimpse of the real thing, our true home, our resurrection bodies! The Spirit of God whets our appetite by giving us a taste of what’s ahead. He puts a little of heaven in our hearts so that we’ll never settle for less.
6-8 That’s why we live with such good cheer. You won’t see us drooping our heads or dragging our feet! Cramped conditions here don’t get us down. They only remind us of the spacious living conditions ahead. It’s what we trust in but don’t yet see that keeps us going. Do you suppose a few ruts in the road or rocks in the path are going to stop us? When the time comes, we’ll be plenty ready to exchange exile for homecoming.
9-10 But neither exile nor homecoming is the main thing. Cheerfully pleasing God is the main thing, and that’s what we aim to do, regardless of our conditions. Sooner or later we’ll all have to face God, regardless of our conditions. We will appear before Christ and take what’s coming to us as a result of our actions, either good or bad.
11-14 That keeps us vigilant, you can be sure. It’s no light thing to know that we’ll all one day stand in that place of Judgment. That’s why we work urgently with everyone we meet to get them ready to face God. God alone knows how well we do this, but I hope you realize how much and deeply we care. We’re not saying this to make ourselves look good to you. We just thought it would make you feel good, proud even, that we’re on your side and not just nice to your face as so many people are. If I acted crazy, I did it for God; if I acted overly serious, I did it for you. Christ’s love has moved me to such extremes. His love has the first and last word in everything we do.

Monday, August 31, 2015

The Day Before School Begins... Morning Routines & Finding Joy in the Process

School starts for us tomorrow! We begin our second year of Classical Conversations (CC). I'm the tutor for a morning class called Foundations as well as the tutor in the afternoon for the 4th to 6th graders in a class called Essentials. In Essentials I will be teaching them English Grammar (including diagramming sentences) and how to write well. Thankfully we have a curriculum that lays it all out for me. Still hard work but doable!

Last year was a whole new world with having 5 kids homeschooling all for the first time. The great thing is we bonded together as a family. Our life had been so disjointed prior... moving in so many different directions with the diverse medical needs of our family. Therapy for Michael: physical, occupational, and speech. Samuel's cancer check-ups and audiology appointments for hearing aid and hearing loss.

Was it our most successful academic year? No, of course not. But we were able to work on how we speak to one another. How we can love each other. What it means to be a part of our family. Attitudes still happened but the emotions became more tempered throughout the year. Politeness and manners were great. We enjoyed frequent trips to the zoo and the library and hunting for treasures at the thrift store.

It was also great in giving us areas to work on. We needed to develop more of a schedule and routine. I needed to accept that homeschooling does not look like doing public school at home. I'm learning more how to manage my time, meals, and schooling better. Just think of how "together" I'll be when my youngest graduates 13 years from now.... :)

I'm trusting the Lord that this process is a part of His plan. I'm not perfect. I don't have my ducks in a row. I'm just a Mom who loves Jesus and is trying to seek His Kingdom first. I'm learning how to love my family better specifically and not just in general. I'm learning what works and doesn't work for our family.

One area that I'd like to grow in is having a fixed, reliable morning routine.

I found this excellent article from author and blogger Kim Sorgius (of notconsumed.com) about finding your perfect morning routine here.

I hope it encourages you, as it has for me, with wherever you're at. Whether it's going to college or managing toddlers, homeschooling your kids or sending them on the yellow bus or getting ready to leave for work in the mornings or running your own business... I think you will find encouragement on how to get your day started right!

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Sleep wherever...

Somedays I tucker them out so much they can't make it til bedtime...

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

The tears in the night

Up in the night with the crying child whose ear is hurting. I'm looking up natural remedies frantically and frustrated that I'm not sleeping. Another night of little sleep.

And I snap. I'm angry about the wailing... partly because it's annoying and disturbing and mostly because I feel helpless to do anything. And as I'm gathering hydrogen peroxide and white vinegar I get further exacerbated by the bugs I find everywhere and I begin to grumble.

And I have to stop myself and ask Jesus for help. Help me comfort my hurting child. Help me to be selfLESS.

And now the natural remedy coupled with ibuprofen has finally
Other nights I didn't sleep so well
soothed the swimmers ear. My child sleeps quiet beside me. Arms encroaching my space. Head sharing my pillow.

And I am thankful that God is not like me. He doesn't tire. He's not impatient. He knows and understands me perfectly and isn't frustrated with my limitations and weaknesses.

In fact He sings over us and delights in us. And so as I seek to close my eyes again I pray and ask that I would know better this tender love He has for us... and pray that I would be transformed to be a lot more of Him and a lot less of me.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

The Gift of Rest, My Need to Get Unplugged & Resist the Lies

I have had some of the most restful days this past week that I've had in a long, long time. I've been able to sleep, exercise, eat, play and go to Barnes and Noble whenever I've wanted. I have been "kid-free".

This is not my daily life. This is not normal at all. But I have enjoyed the ability to unwind and breathe deep and stretch as needed.

My life is full. Full of 5 beautiful, crazy kids. Full of cleaning and meal making and laundry doing. Full of joy and work and the occasional heartbreak that comes from living in a fallen, broken world.

I have found that in my unwinding... I need to be unplugging more. I'm finding myself in this quiet time, drawn to a screen like a moth to a light. And there are so many screens to choose from... my laptop, ipad, cell phone.

If I'm not careful I can fool myself into thinking I've been productive when I've just let myself wander down the rabbit hole.

This would have had no meaning
when I was a child...
If I'm not careful I can buy into the lie that my reality is way better or far worse than others' reality. I can look down my nose in self-righteousness. Or I can dissolve inward and feel sorry for myself that others have it so much better/easier than I do.

I have to be careful when i'm on online to ask myself, "Is this real?" "Is this the truth?" "What marketing/advertising line am I buying right now?" "Have I fooled myself into thinking that this product/service will fix ALL my problems?"

I need to yank those lies up by their roots and throw them away.

So instead of saying more I am going to stop. I'm going to close my computer for the day. And go workout. After I workout I'm going to gather my notebook and a physical book (kindle on my ipad can lead to checking out e-mal and FB) and find a coffee shop or cafe and just sit, soak up the sun. Write down some thoughts. Maybe do some art journaling or creative writing and breathe.

Get in nature. Take a walk. Toss some water balloons. Laugh. Breathe. Make some homemade ice-cream.

I'll check in again tomorrow. Have a great day!

Monday, July 20, 2015

transforming

I'm tempted to give up at times. But I'm not going to. Life is challenging. It has unique difficulties and roadblocks. And there are times when you need to genuinely stop and rest. But I'm trying to learn to pray and know the difference on when I need to press forward and when I just need to say no, this isn't it the time to stop. Running into a wall over and over again is not helpful. But learning to go over the wall or around the wall is.

I'm tempted to push snooze when I need to wake up. I want to give in to a temporary satisfaction instead of longer lasting pleasure. Asking God to help me to trust Him and move forward in my health. To change my eating, my diet, my exercise... MY HABITS!

This transformation has been happening for a long time. Many things internally have had to be re-aligned and fixed before I could take this step to move forward. Emotional and spiritual things had to be discovered and healed before I could do this.

I'm moving past issues that have held me back. With God's help I'm working on my PTSD, anxiety and depression issues. With God's help I'm growing stronger and healthier.

I'm choosing to be kind to myself, and not only to others.

I'm learning to stand up for myself and give my opinion when the time is appropriate instead of fearing others thoughts of me.

I'm not apologizing for the things that I don't need to be sorry about.

I'm not going to shape your opinion of me, I will allow you to make your own decision about me.... which means I'm not going to say, "I know this is so weird but..." or "I have a dumb question...." Instead I will ask, "May I share this with you?" "Excuse me...." etc.

Lookout world... this girl is becoming a butterfly.


Thursday, July 16, 2015

Changing Your Life



"Changing your life is like climbing a mountain, you can't see the great view from the top but you know it's coming..." Jennifer Napier

Thursday, July 09, 2015

On the days he hates me.

He hit me once and then again. He ran to his brother and popped him on the head. I pulled him away and held his hand. "Noooo!" He wailed. He went rigid. His eyes staring at me with scorn. His little body tight. His frustration mounting. And then he said the words that pierce my heart, "I hate you."

And it's really hard in that moment to gain perspective and clarity. It's hard to see his inability to control his environment and world. His desire for control in whatever way he can grasp it overrides any kind of behavior or attempt at kindness.

And my heart seizes in my chest and I tell myself to breathe. To exhale. "Son, I love you. You may not hit me. You may not hit others..." and he instantly starts whacking at himself. Trying to hit himself. Trying to punish himself. I put down the things in my hands and I say to him, "And you may not hit yourself. Squeeze me. Squeeze me hard." I wrap my arms around him and give him firm pressure. He's still angry. He squeezes. I can feel the anger and frustration in that squeeze and I pray that he's able to release this intense emotion.

I see him testing me. Testing my love for him. Seeing if it's any match for his self-loathing. His frustration and anger at the world that he in turn reverts inward directed at himself.

He feels other, not apart. Different. And the truth is he does have things that set him apart. And my heart breaks and I want to fix it. I want him to feel loved and accepted. I want him to know that his uniqueness is okay. He is not a mistake. He was made in the image of God.

I ask God to change my heart. To keep it soft. To not stiffen and respond in anger. Somedays I win at this and other times I fail. And I have to ask forgiveness from God, His maker. And I ask forgiveness from him, my child.

Some days are easier than others. Some days I'm more aware of my failing than God's faithfulness. I'm more aware of my son's contempt than God's continuing work in his little heart.

I know he doesn't really hate me. I know it's his way of saying, "I'm frustrated. I'm angry. I don't have control." But these are things I must continuously give to the Lord.

So Jesus help me. A new day has dawned and I'm need of your grace for today. Your new mercies for today. And help change me into the Mom you created me to be. In Your Name, Amen.


Tuesday, July 07, 2015

Persevering

per·se·vere
ˌpərsəˈvir/
verb
gerund or present participle: persevering
  1. continue in a course of action even in the face of difficulty or with little or no prospect of success.
    "his family persevered with his treatment"
    synonyms:persistcontinue, carry on, go on, keep on, keep going, struggle on,hammer away, be persistent, be determined, see/follow something through, keep at it, press on/ahead, not take no for an answer, be tenacious, stand one's ground, stand fast/firm, hold on, go the distance,stay the course, plod on, stop at nothing, leave no stone unturned;



Long days.

Littles finally truly asleep.

After reports of a bloody nose, who is getting out of bed, who has to go potty, who needs water, who is scared, and who banged their head against the wooden bunkbed.

Putting out "fires" day and night it feels like. I have such a deep appreciation for the single moms in this world and for moms who are home while their husbands deploy. This "single parenting" isn't what it's cracked up to be.

The learning how to use the outdoor grill and how to check the steering fluid in the car. Or checking the strange sounds at night. I miss the extra pair of hands and the wisdom that comes from stability and logic and soundness of mind and emotion. The encouragement that I can do it. The not sleeping alone.

Starting bootcamp for Michael for OT and Physical Therapy soon. That will be 2-3 days a week. Coupled with speech camp we're looking at 9 hours a week for 2 months. Entertaining 4 kids in the waiting room for 3 hours 3 days a week is NOT my idea of fun.

Doing what is necessary and right is not always easy. I want to cave and give in. Put off the difficult. Put off the challenge. Put off the exercise. Put off the making another meal...again. But I'm trying to say No. I will accept the challenge. I will do it in spite of how I feel. I will choose to persevere.

My tires are flat on my bike so I can't exercise in that way right now. Instead, I have to make a different choice, do a different exercise.

The needs, the questions, and the demands from the kids don't stop. Thankfully God is bigger than that. He's big enough to handle my despondency. My temptation to self-pity. Thankfully He loves me enough to just let me cry and reminds me that it will be better in the morning.

Mommy/Daughter Date night consisted of finishing A&E's Pride & Prejudice. Libby loved it. We also baked chocolate chip cookie bars for the boys. I added coconut oil and some oats to the recipe... and decreased the amount of sugar... but they never even noticed the healthier changes :) Success!

Days are long but I rest in the unchanging love of God. I know His mercies will be new in the morning. I know that NOTHING can separate me from His love! I know that His love and affection for me isn't dependent on what I get done or how well I parent or how clean my house or how in shape I am. I rest in the finished work of Christ... and Him alone.

So I surrender the day and the week and the month and the year and the decades again to the Lord and I say, "Please have your way with me, in me, through me." Help me to love and serve others. Help me to seek first YOUR kingdom. Help me to resist my self-sufficient ways, and my all-or-nothing attitudes, instead, let me run hard after you.

Going to bed. I know I will wake soon with a child's pair of feet in my face or being squished by someone trying to get in bed quietly. The night will fade and morning will come. The day will start again. Fresh with not mistakes in it. And my hope is in the Lord and I will sing His praise come what may...

May you find fresh grace for where you are at in this moment. May you find strength and peace and hope. You are not alone. We don't walk this life alone. Running with my eyes fixed on the prize....


Thursday, July 02, 2015

Bye-Bye Caterpillar, Hello Butterfly...

saying good-bye to the old me...
Hi friends. It's time. Time for me to transform. Time for me to slough all the extra weight that has been slowing me down... that was bound to me through trauma and stress and grief and loss and heartache. It's time to say good-by to the caterpillar and hello to the butterfly.

There's a New Girl in Town and her name is Jennifer. She will still smile and laugh. She will still enjoy life. But she's embracing health in a whole new way.

(I don't know why I was speaking about myself in the 3rd person, but that's okay.)

I'm moving more: walking, strength training. I'm not fearing the sweat but embracing allowing the toxins to leave my body.

I'm hydrating by drinking water.... a lot... with lemon, with mint, with cucumber, sometimes infused with strawberries and I might even get a little wild and throw in some apples.

I'm eating my fruits and veggies... At least 31 a day. 

I'm resting and sleeping when needed. 

I'm seeking healthy ways to release stress. Himalayan salt baths. Deep breathing and stretching. Journaling. A nice cup of herbal tea with lavender honey. Using my Doterra Essential Oils.

I'm not saying "No" to myself but instead "Yes"! Yes to veggies. Yes to smoothies. Yes to juicing. Yes to adventure. Yes to singing out loud and embarrassing my kids in the store. Yes to working out (even when I don't feel like it!)

On occasion right now  I might still have sweets. I might still enjoy a Starbucks now and again. But the point is I'm doing more positive. I'm making more food from home... and less eating out. I'm making my passion tea lemonade from home instead of going to Starbucks. I'm fixing myself lunch and eating so I'm not stopping at a drive thru before grocery shopping.

I'm eating my rainbow: spinach, kale, cucumbers, strawberries, blueberries, pineapple, oranges, mangoes, bananas, apples, broccoli, carrots, red, yellow and orange peppers....

And on the days where I'm not eating like I want to I'm still consuming 31 veggies and fruits a day! Thank you JP!

I want to be: 

healthier

stronger

embracing life

tasting sunshine

feeling the fear and doing it anyway!

Getting Ready to Fly
I'm going to take Dave Ramsey's advice... and I'm going to live like no one else, so I can LIVE like NO ONE ELSE!

Change is here. And I'm stepping out in faith. And it's a little scary. What if I fail? I have a whole audience to watch me... but what if I succeed? I'm not giving up. I'm going to keep trying. And I'm excited to see Jesus transform me more into His likeness and more into the Jennifer He created.

I will keep you posted about my T-30 and T-120 (transformation 30, transformation 120).

Bye Bye caterpillar...

Friday, June 19, 2015

Imperfection




“Imperfections are not inadequacies; they are reminders that we're all in this together.” 


Thursday, June 18, 2015

Vulnerability


Vulnerability sounds like truth and feels like courage. Truth and courage aren't always comfortable, but they're never weakness.



Friday, June 05, 2015

Ministry: Where I Am & Where I'm Going...

I was sitting in Panera at a typical monthly meeting, listening to the core team in my church plant discuss the usual.

But then something happened.

I'm not sure what exactly.

I felt this tingle in my spine as my pastor and my brother-in-law started discussing their most recent trip to Uganda. And I had a vision of rocking African babies and serving. It was big. Bigger than I can express at the moment.

It kind of hit me like a bolt of lightning. I could feel the energy and excitement tingle in my toes and fingertips.

Am I crazy? Is this crazy? I've never had a heart for Africa? I've never had a desire to go that continent, with the small exception of visiting the pyramids in Egypt.

I kind of pictured my missionary days as being over ever since I've married and settled down and had 5 kids.

But a seed was planted. A small little seed of hope was dug into my heart. And it's been watered and the sun has shone on this seed and now I have a little plantling of faith growing.

If the Lord wills. If He provides. If I continue to save.....
                           ...My hope, my goal, my vision is to be in Uganda. My plan is to go with my church on a missions trip this January. We're talking in less than 6 months.

My purpose is to go and serve and to love and help.

Sanyu Babies Home is my destination.

My goal at the orphanage and babies home is to help support the staff by helping in their round the clock care of children. Feeding babies in the night. Rocking. Diapering. Loving. If I can and it's helpful I'd also like to assist in the construction and repair projects that are needed.

A lot of my habits are built around making this trip happen. When I exercise and do cardio and strength training it's so that I'm more equipped and more able to serve in Uganda. When I'm tutoring any financial compensation I receive is going towards my Uganda trip. I'm even contemplating giving up my Starbucks coffee habit (um, addiction) in exchange for filling up my Africa jar. Oh dear Lord, you must be moving me!

Praying for creative ways to work and earn money for this trip. I'm so excited to see what the Lord has.

I'm thankful that I can minister and serve where ever I am. Whether it's cleaning my bathroom or teaching my children. Whether it's providing someone with a meal or encouraging a new Mom. God is equipping me to love and serve where I am. Whether in my home or on the other side of the world.

This is a bold and brave step for me. To leave my husband and my fabulous 5 littles and journey around the globe. But I want this. I can taste it. January 2-10... starting my New Year in a new continent for me. Seeing God's bigness in the little and the mundane and in the face of each child. Serving in simple ways. It's not glorious or earth shattering but being faithful step by step.

If this is the path the Lord has me, and I believe it is, I want to walk it, in faith.

So I train. I grow stronger. I choose healthier foods. I need a strong body and a strong mind. I need to plan and prepare. I want to commit to memorizing His Word. I want to pray, pray, pray.

Missions at home. Missions overseas. Missions where ever God has me. That's where I'm going.

Tuesday, June 02, 2015

The day before my birthday, Birthday Blues, A poem.

Birthday Blues, Birthday Blues.

Shake them off but they stick like glue.

Wrestle them down into a tiny box

Put on the lid, sit on the top

But they Spring forward like a jack in the box.


Some moments time passes achingly slow

with more diapers to change, more noses to blow

And other moments it slips through my hands

like trying to catch water from my shower or hold grains of sand.


My story is still being written, it's not done, it's not the end

But I struggle to see the passing time as a friend.

He's written all my days, and hey I'm still alive

This isn't the end. I'm just turning 35.


Sorry I get like this,  philosophical and so crazy contemplative

It's just a by-product of being overly numerative.

Breathe, take a breath, and then exhale

Tomorrow is just like any other day, yes, I will prevail.


So I take all these feelings and emotions and I give them to God

And say I surrender, please help me to turn off

My brain that won't stop thinking and processing

That tells me how much I'm failing and all I'm doing wrong

Please help me to trust in the work of your Son.


More like Him, less like me,

Every year your changing me,

Into Your Likeness I want to be

more like you, less like me.


So tomorrow might suck, my husband is out of town

The kids might freak out and have total melt downs

Or perhaps it might be a rosy day that has unexpected good

With lots of little surprises and some very tasty food.



But I'm resting in the fact that it's okay either way

Whether it's awesome and amazing or a really horrible day.

I am held by One who knows and loves me and created the stars

So I can trust Him with my birthday, with my thoughts, with my heart.


And I know that in Him, I am free of myself,

Of the selfish, and the petty, of the obsession with me

And tomorrow I can choose how I respond

With joy or with anger, I can choose to be happy

With whatever I'm given, it's more than I need

It's better than I deserve, I have been set FREE!

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Counting Sheep and Still No Winks

It's almost 3 a.m. and I can't sleep.

I've tossed and turned for hours.

Just like I did last night.

I even avoided watching my recent tv show on netflix addiction.

So, what have I done....

I've found out a few friends are pregnant. Thank you FB

i got a great recipe for glazed lemon zucchini bread. Thank you friend's post.

I read some articles.

I drank some water.

I admired some photos.

And time slips by and my eyes closing doesn't lend to dreaming. this is rough because I need to get up in a few hours and start my day. And we have practicum in the morning (Conference for Classical Conversations). And I got so little sleep last night... and the night before. In fact for the past several weeks. And I told myself I would go to bed by 9!

And now my thoughts tend to alternate between heavy and deep and loopy and weird.

And I pray... I pray for the Moms up with their newborns... awake in the wee small hours of the night. I think of what time it is in Sweden and how my friend's day is starting. I'm hoping my friend in CA is sleeping and getting some rest.

I marvel at how fast my kids are growing and changing and how sometimes, in the thick of it, in the drudgery and dirty diapers it feels like it's taking forever, and then other moments I feel like I blink and my kids have aged so much.

I wrestle with my anxiety... the usual ones, am I doing okay as a parent? as a teacher? as a caregiver? as a wife? friend? do I have what it takes? and the unusual ones.... why am I getting pimples at my age? Did I remember to floss my kids teeth?

Even though I'm changing and fickle my God is not. He's steady and faithful and good. Which is really amazing.

My son has been screaming at me lately. Well, that's actually a pretty normal thing. But he's yelling at me again and again, "Life is NOT fair!" and I tell him, "that's right buddy, it's not."

But yesterday I actually stopped in wonder and turned to him and said, "It's a good thing it's not fair. It's a good thing we're not getting what we deserve. We get Jesus and grace and forgiveness." He took punishment in our place. He who did no wrong. He who perfectly obeyed. We were given mercy. He took the wrath. And not only that but then we were given favor... all the good credited to Him is applied ot us. All the righteousness is given to us. It's kind of crazy.

So yeah, life isn't fair. We get dealt rough bargains sometimes... but overall we have been given so much, it's not fair. We are blessed. I'm not living in fear of being killed in war, murdered by insurgents. I'm not worried about my kids starving or a roof over my head or clothes to wear. I'm not afraid of my sins... because the price has been paid. I'm justified, declared righteous. And so I have bounty. Above and beyond what I need.

My birthday is around the corner (June 3rd) and I've been thinking about how I want to spend that day. It's a marker that causes reflection for me... I reflect on the past year and anticipate, imagine and dream about what is to come in this year.

I think about what can I give to someone else... I often like to donate my blood or plasma (Red Cross) or my hair to Locks of Love... or do something kind for someone else. I love to give. I'm not sure what it will look like this year.

I hope to go to the beach and soak in the sun and watch my children push their toes in the sand and admire the broken shells that litter the edge of the surf and taste the salt on my skin, in my hair, on my lips and breathe. Breathe deeply.

I'm alive. I'm still here.

This world is broken and sad and confusing. I have been battered along by the storms and waves but I'm here.

I'm going to overcome.

Not in my own strength. But in the strength that is given me through the Holy Spirit.

I'm not just going to survive but thrive. I'm going to take the longer walks and pause and admire the piece of nature that has arrested my child's attention.

I'm going to keep singing out loud in the grocery store and embarrassing my kids. I'm going to drink an iced tea and savor the day.

I'm going to clean and I'm going to rest. I'm going to picnic under the magnolia tree in my backyard and read out loud to the kids.

I'm going to make strawberry ice cream... and taste the tartness of lemonade. I'm going to sweat. I'm going to keep working out. I'm going to eat healthy and sometimes I'm going to blow it. I'm going to keep juicing and making smoothies and using my nutribullet. I'm going to bake chocolate chip cookies with the kids on a rainy day.

Because I'm alive and it's a gift... and sometimes I forget that. Sometimes in my longing for Heaven. Sometimes in my longing for Jesus to please return I forget that I'm here for a purpose. I ache for what is to come. For death to be no more. No sickness or sadness or  mourning or tears... but in the meantime there is this life that is to be lived. And I have a sweet Savior who keeps changing me and molding me more into His likeness, into His image.

And there it is, a yawn. A reminder that I am mere flesh and am in need of sleep. And that the heavy ponderings of the early morning can be stowed away for another time.

Matthew 10:29-31
29Are not two sparrows sold for a penny?[h] And not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. 30 But even the hairs of your head are all numbered. 31 Fear not, therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows.

And I rest secure, I am held. I am worth more than sparrows. I am found precious in His sight... and so are you. You are precious. So breathe deep with me. And let's live. Let's keep this gift called life that God has given us and praise His name. Amen