Thursday, December 23, 2010

Joy to the World

"And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you, is born this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord." ~Luke 2: 10 & 11

It's the Monday before Christmas and the babies are arriving at daycare. They're dressed in adorable Christmas outfits,  coincidentally with snowmen on each of them. They look adorable. I have a bag packed with sippy cups, snacks, diapers and wipes. Also, a few special toys that they seldom see. Its a trick I learned when my own children were small. Keep a few unfamiliar toys for "emergency situations" when you need children to behave.

I make the phone call and confirm that yes, we are infact still welcome. We pile into the car, buckle up and sing Christmas songs like Jingle Bells and Frosty the Snowman along the way. We also go over the rules, as best you can with a 2 1/2 year old and a 13 month old anyway. "Be polite, smile, say Merry Christmas" I urge.....I wonder am I talking to them or myself?

We're off to the nursing home to visit my  83 year old grandmother. I adore my grandmother. During the 50s and 60s she raised four children on her own. Not an easy thing to do during any era but particularly during those years. She was poor but hardworking, firm with her children but she loved them, different from her peers but graceful just the same. I have always admired my grandmother, considering her to be a very strong, brave, independent woman. Its difficult to see her now in a nursing home relying on others for her care.

I admittedly don't visit often. Sad but true. Life is busy and I don't make time. But because its Christmas I am going to. I'm bringing the daycare babies along with me, hoping that they will bring a ray of sunshine into her life. I assume her life is gloomy and gray.

As we enter the building, we are greeted by unfamiliar yet smiling faces. An older gentlemen leans against the wall for support and smiles at us. Just the site of two toddlers toddling makes  pleases him. As we pass by doorway after doorway, we see patients in various states of need. Some are bedridden, some are in wheelchairs, some walking. All of them are smiling. Many of them say "Your grandmother is so excited your coming".

As we enter Memere's room, I prepare myself for what I might see.  Instead,  I am greeted with a grin from ear to ear. She startles and gasps when she realizes not only have I brought along the daycare but my oldest daughter, home from college. She is absolutely,  noticeably,  THRILLED. Her room is decorated with Christmas cards, a tree and photos of her family. When she embraces me I feel  her happiness in her touch.

Over the course of the next hour and half, we open gifts, reminisce over pictures and stories and hug, often. After a while, the babies start to get antsy and I suggest we go for a walk. To my surprise the 2 year old climbs right up  into my grandmothers lap as though she's the Grand Marshall in a parade. As I push Mem down the hallways we are introduced to her friends, wish them Merry Christmas and show off the babies. Every single person in that home, ooooh'd and aahhhhh'd over those babies. Every single person beamed with happiness. And those babies ate it up!!!!! I mean they PUT ON A SHOW :)

My grandmother was in her glory....excited to show us all around the place, the dining hall, the physical therapy room, the TV gathering area. I'll be honest, it surprised me. I expected this visit to be sort of depressing. Instead, it warmed my heart. Memere is genuinely happy. Her friends are sweet and kind, welcoming and loving. The babies automatically feel a connection with these elderly folk and the elderly, well, the only word that comes to mind it JOY. I can see it on their faces. I can hear it in their voices, its the sparkle in those old weary eyes. JOY just at the sight of seeing a child's face.

As we said our goodbyes, passed out one more hug and two more kisses, I realized that this visit wasn't just good for  my grandmother and  the residents at the nursing home. This visit brought ME a sense of peace, a sense of understanding, a sense of Christmas spirit. THIS is what its about, its about loving people, even people you don't know. Loving people, some of whom can't speak. Loving people, so sick they can't open their eyes. Loving them with a hug or a word or a smile. Love is how we can spread Joy to the World.

Dear God~

As the Christmas season draws very near, I pray we experience the joy of personal relationships, especially with your son, Jesus. May we treat each other kindly, lovingly, patiently.  May we share our faith, our time, our money, and ourselves. In doing so, may  we share the love of Jesus and be your light throughout the world.

In your sons precious name, Amen

** Todays blog is dedicated to my grandmother, Lorraine. A woman of grace, commitment, hard work and deep love for her friends and family. "Biggie",  I love you, with all of my heart.**

Monday, December 13, 2010

A Christmas Story

"For God loved the world so much that he gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life. God sent his Son into the world not to judge the world, but to save the world through him." ~John 3:16 &17 (NLT)

Have you ever seen the movie "A Christmas Story"?   Set in the 1940s little Ralphie is on a mission to convince his parents that he must have a Red Ryder BB gun for Christmas. It's his only wish for Christmas.....he's desperate for it! But his parents response is always basically the same "no way! you'll shoot your eye out!"

I have a couple of wonderful family Christmas stories but my personal favorite, involves that clarinet I mentioned in an earlier blog . Although several years have passed, it still brings tears to my eyes when I re-tell it.  My daughter, Chelsea was in 4th grade at the time. Her older sister, Kristi was in 7th grade.

We were in a crazy busy time of our lives. Each of the girls were 3 sport athletes in separate age groups, often playing on two teams EACH  during the same season. Rec soccer and travel soccer for example. There were practices every night of the week for one or both of them. In addition, there were birthday parties, tournaments, appointments, practices, games, CONSTANTLY! It was a very full but very happy phase of our life. We were busy but we were always together.

One fall afternoon, Chelsea came home from school, unloaded her backpack and dumped the contents on the table. With excitement in her voice, she said "Mom, I want to do this" and handed me a notice for the sign ups for band. She described in detail the demonstration that day at school. The musical instrument company had visited and brought along an assortment of instruments for the children to listen to, touch,  hold and admire. Chelsea was SOLD!

"No way! Chelsea, we are already soooooo busy! We have games and practices every night of the week. There is no way, I'm paying for an instrument and then fighting with you to practice. Absolutely NOT! This is not gonna happen" I insisted.

She begged and she pleaded and she begged some more. I said "NO" over and over and over again. For weeks we went back and forth. When I arrived at school to pick her, the band teacher greeted me. "Chelsea really wants to do this" she said. I explained my case, we're too busy, there just isn't time, I'm not wasting money on something I know she'll quit in 3 months. "We have a two week trial period, I can get her an instrument on loan at no charge. Let's just try and see how she does" the teacher persuaded.

I finally relented. Chelsea borrowed a clarinet from a former student and began her lessons. Now, this is going to sound like I'm bragging but the God's honest truth is..... that girl took to the clarinet like a fish takes to water. She didn't squeak and cause her parents to wear earplugs. She didn't fuss and have to be told to practice. She couldn't wait to get home from school and get her hands on that clarient. It was amazing......her passion for music and her instrument was incredible. Not being musically inclined, I had no idea of what she was capable of. Impressed is an understatement!

 By late November, it had become clear that Chelsea was in love with music. She was talented and it wasn't a phase. It would become a lifetime passion. As we worked on our Christmas Lists it became very clear what Chelsea would wish for .....her own, very new, very shiny clarient. She knew it was impossible. She also knew that she wanted it more than anything.  It was an outrageously extravagant gift,  financially,  I mean. Even so, I contacted the instrument company and arranged for monthly payments and delivery of the highly sought after, much loved clarient.

That Christmas morning, I honestly cant remember if it was the first gift or the last. Probably the latter, because.....well, I like to mess with my kids like that! Chelsea stood there ready to open her gift. Camera poised, I waited and watched. She tore the paper...... she realized the gift...... she screamed!......and then in a moment that took me completely by surprise.....she bawled. She clutched that gift to her chest and...... she sobbed. My 9 year old daughter was so touched and awed, she stood there and cried tears of gratitude and love.  It was without a doubt, probably  one the most genuine moments I have ever witnessed  of my children. She was in love. To this day, she loves her clarinet. She sat "First Chair" in the band her Freshman Year of High School and continues to excel and impress us all. The gift of this clarinet far surpassed anything I thought or expected.

This Christmas as we get caught up in all of the busyness, the decorating, the baking, the shopping, the wrapping, let's not forget that we too have been given a gift.  An outrageously, extravagant gift that is impossible to completely understand.

 A gift that arrived wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger. God sent us the gift of his only son, Jesus. He came to earth, suffered, died, was buried. He  rose again three days later and ascended to Heaven. He came here so that we would be forgiven of our sins and could have eternal life in Heaven. He came here and left with us, the Holy Spirit, to guide and teach us how to "do life".

As with any gift, it must be given and it must be accepted. You may be  saying  to yourself, just as I said to my sweet daughter,  "I just don't have time for this"..."There's no more room in my life for anything else! There's no money, there's no time, there's no energy"......"Absolutely not! This just isn't what I need right now".

I can with all honesty tell you, accepting God's  gift will change your life. It's changed mine. Just as I couldn't have anticipated the joy Chelsea's talents would bring to her, and to all who hear her play....I never anticipated the joy having a personal relationship with Jesus brings. Please understand it's  not about going to church on Sunday, sending your kids to Bible School, or obeying all the rules....that's religion. The gift I am talking about is RELATIONSHIP.  Its about having a personal  relationship with God, with Jesus.

The benefits, you wonder? More love to your life, my joy to your world, more peace to your every day existence. It brings the assurance that no, you are not perfect, but you are forgiven and you will be received in Heaven when you leave this world.  It's too easy? You're right, it is the most simple, beautiful gift you ever receive. Here's the just have to accept it! Once you do, I have no doubt the tears of gratitude and love will pour out of you as well.

Have you accepted the gift that God has given you? Have you accepted Jesus as your Lord and Savior? If not, why? If you want to know more,  please ask.

Father God~

May we never forget the Christmas gift you gave each of us. That you sent your son, Jesus, to save each one of us. May we accept that gift with open hearts and in absolute awe.  May our response be that of a child, clutching tightly to our hearts the treasure it is. May we love that gift and honor it and share it with others,  the way you intended us to do. Thank you Father God for the most incredible Christmas gift we could ever receive. In Jesus' name, Amen.

Holiday Hugs!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

The Wish List

"Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart." ~Psalm 37:4

From the time my girls were very little, as the holiday season approached, they would make me a "Christmas Wish List". It started out being a craft project. We'd sit down with paper and crayons, glitter and glue and work on special "letters to Santa". It was the perfect way for me to find out what their hearts desires were, so that I could make their special wish come true. The "wishes" have ranged from barbies and bikes to tvs and ipods. One year, there was even a wish for a clarinet. That's another story for another day, however.

As the girls have gotten older,  the wish list event has too. Its no longer a sit-down-with-Mom-time to color and dream. Yup, kids grow up, whether we want them to or not.  For a time, Kristi would leave post-it notes, on my bureau or my nightstand.  Recently Chelsea prefers to send me links on FaceBook for the items she's wishing  for. Somehow, they always find a way to communicate with me what it is they want.  I've even asked Chris to give me his wish that he's not disappointed on Christmas morning. There's nothing more exciting that watching someone you love, open the gift they've been dreaming about, is there?

There have been a couple of times I've been able to pull off a full blown surprise. The beloved clarinet (I promise I'll share that story sometime), the all expenses paid trip to the softball coaching convention, and the treasured cell phone. Those are probably my favorite moments....they each knew they'd get a gift on Christmas morning, but they had NO IDEA how awesome it would be!

As I drove home from bible study last night I started thinking about my own wishes.....................

I wish there were more hours in a day

I wish I had more money

I wish I had someone to clean my house

I wish I hadn't said that

I wish I could spend more time with my husband, my daughters, my best friend

I wish I could lose this weight

I wish I could forgive the friend who betrayed me, the father who abandoned me, the people who have let me down and hurt me. I want to know what that feels truly forgive someone, to just "let it go" and move on.

I wish I had faith so deep and so honest and true that I believed everything God says about me. I want to be me, knowing that God created me this way and loves me this way.

I wish I had courage. I want to walk into a room, not worry about what people think, what people say, about me, my weight, my faith.

I wish I could trust God, trust his plan, trust his decisions, trust his Word. I don't want to try to control everything in my life. I'm sick of trying!  I want  to let him to handle the details and I want to follow his lead.

I wish.....I wish I had the faith, love, heart for God the way other people seem to. I WANT to know that kind of love. I want to love God will all of my heart, my soul and my mind.

I wish * I wish * I wish *

I wish for joy.  I wish for peace.  I wish for contentment. I wish for love. I wish for forgiveness. This is the season for miracles! I'm going all out on my Christmas wish list.

Dear God:

You have already given me far more than I deserve and yet, like the child I am..... I want more. I want more of you. Give me a heart to understand. A willingness to learn and  to ask questions, the determination and grace to forgive. Give me the courage to step over my fears and become the person you know I am. Give me the faith to trust you, in all of the big decisions and the smallest ones too.  It is my deepest desire to know you, to really and truly know you. You have  proven time and time again, that you can surprise me with gifts I never expected, never imagined and never dared ask for! With a grateful heart & in your son's name, Amen.

What is it you're wishing for this Christmas? Have you asked?

Holiday Hugs!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Fear Factor

"For God does not give us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind" ~2 Timothy 1:7

The dark
Spiders & Bugs

Psychology Today defines fear as " a vital response to physical and emotional danger—if we couldn't feel it, we couldn't protect ourselves from legitimate threats."  Hmmmmmm interesting!

This morning as I sat in my kitchen, eating a steaming bowl of oatmeal, sipping a second cup of coffee, I looked up at a picture on my refrigerator. I mentioned earlier, my dearest friend Tammy and I took a cruise together in October. There's a picture of our day on the beach in Cozumel, Mexico. We're both beaming, the sun is shining, there's a gorgeous palm tree in the background. There are tropical birds perched on each of our shoulders. This was probably one of my most memorable moments on our vacation.

For as long as I can remember, I have been TERRIFIED of birds. Any bird, large or small, chicken, sparrow, eagle, blue jay, crow and tropical birds included! When I was younger, I'd gone fishing with my uncle on White Lake in the White Mountains of New Hampshire. I caught my first fish that day. I caught my first fish AND I acquired a long term fear of birds. Seagulls dive bombed our boat trying to snatch the fish I'd caught. From that moment on, I avoided birds at all cost.

Friends love to reminisce of the "time Michelle freaked out at a softball game when a flock of geese flew over head". My children love to toss a cracker near Mom's chair at the beach to see how close a seagull can get to me.  I know, right?...they're cruel huh? My encounters with birds and the stories are comical for sure, but they are also very real situations where I was truly afraid. I've had a bird trapped in my laundry room , a chicken chase my 3 year old and been unable to help her......AND I've also panicked, locked my children outside of the minivan, while I trembled inside the van in fear of the huge flock of seagulls overhead in the Walmart parking lot. Its ok, go ahead and laugh, I know you want to.

So how in the world is it possible that I had a tropical bird on my shoulder that afternoon in Cozumel? I'm not sure what possessed me to be honest with you. But as I watched the young man, walk up and down the beach, in such a beautiful setting, with such a wonderful friend, I said outloud "I want to do that!"...."do what?" Tammy asked  "I want to have my picture taken with one of those birds. " I replied.  I'm not sure she believed me at first. I'm not sure I believed me either. But the moment passed and the young man kept walking in the opposite direction. It seemed the moment had passed. Oh well. (I seriously wasn't heart broken over it)

Not long after, as we shared our lunch in the shade of the palm trees, you guessed it, he returned. "Go do it!" Tam suggested. "Nah, I'm good" I replied.......and she gave me that look, the look only your best friend can give you and get away with it......"Give me a break you chicken, DO IT.....because I know you can and you know you can!" So with hands shaking with fear, a throat as dry as the dessert and a body trembling with fear I said "You're coming with me!".......and she did what best friends do......she did :)

As that gorgeous blue and yellow tropical bird sat on my shoulder and pecked in my ear, I grabbed Tam's hand and squeezed for dear life....and I prayed "God give me the courage to do this".....and He did. As irrational as my fear was, God gave me the courage to stand there, snap a photo and overcome a fear. Not only that, he gave me the ability to stretch myself even further. "Can I hold him?" I heard myself ask. Before I knew it, the bird was in my hand, I was petting it and realizing how absolutely beautiful this creature was. It brings tears to my eyes as I think of it now.

How many other things have I feared in life? Making a new friend?  joining a new gym? asking a question? trying something new? How many moments have I missed? How many blessings have I willingly given up? When I stepped over the fear, I was able to experience an excitement, a blessing, the beauty of something I'd never known.

What are you afraid of? and what can you do, today to step over that fear?


Wednesday, November 17, 2010

It's a Girl!

"Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think." Ephesians 3:20 (NLT)

Nineteen years ago, my life and my heart changed forever. It is a day that is etched in my memory, the details as clear as though they happened yesterday.

During the first few minutes of Wednesday, November 13, 1991 I gave birth to my first child. A healthy, full head of hair, tiny fingers and toes, pink little bundle of joy.....Kristi graced the earth with her presence. As I looked into her face, I saw hope, dreams, laughter, and for the first time in my life, I felt unconditional love. I truly, deeply, profoundly understood what it mean to love someone more than life itself.

After three long days, several trips to the hospital, false alarms, monitors, injections, centimeters and such, Kristi Valori weighing 6 lbs 1 oz and a mere 19 1/2 inches long  pushed her way into the world. Immediately, she became the fulfillment of a dream. She was the product of deep love between her father and I but she was and is so much more. She was the first grandchild and great grandchild in the family. Her arrival was anticipated and celebrated months before she actually drew her first breath.

As I sit here now, reflecting on that day, and the many since, I am in awe of the person she has become. She was the most beautiful baby girl. Her tiny ringlets framed her face and her laughter filled our home. She loved to play outside, help her Daddy and listen to her Pepere's stories. As she grew, it became more and more obvious to those who love her what a special girl Kristi would be. In grade school, she was the kind-hearted child who would help another student who struggled with a math assignment. She was loved by her teachers and had a wide circle of friends. Although very social, she also loved being at home, preferring to stay  here at home and watch movies than go to the slumber party.

Junior High and High School brought more friends, more activities and many more choices. To this day, I admire how she handles those situations. Although friendly with everyone, she chooses her "friends" wisely. She loves to have fun and enjoy life but prefers to do that without using drugs, alcohol or mischief. A friend asked me recently, how I raised a child, in this society to be this way. I honestly, don't know. By the grace of God I think.

It would be sooo easy for me to look back and wish for her to be little again. To re-live the cookie baking, the pj days, the impromptu playdates with the Croteaus and the Blais's. To pine away for craft projects we made, the stories we read and the memories we made. Instead, as I pull into the parking lot of her dorm, I am overcome with emotion. Not with regret or the loss of my "baby girl" ...but with the realization that we have reached a new place in our relationship. We are no longer just mother & daughter.....we are friends.

Its a feeling and a place that makes my heart so full its difficult to express. Being Kristi's mom is a tremendous joy, it always has been and I assume it always will be.

Being her friend, is a blessing!


Friday, November 12, 2010

Salty or Sweet?

"You are the salt of the earth.  But what good is salt if it has lost its flavor?  Can you make it salty again?  It will be thrown out and trampled underfoot as worthless."  Matthew 5:13

One of the key struggles I had with my initial decision to accept Christ into my life was that I didn't want to lose who I was.  I actually like me.  My entire life, I worked hard to be different than other actually not fit into a certain mold and although I struggled with friendships and relationships along the way because of that - I secretly enjoyed walking to the tune of my own drum.  I am drawn to the person that stands out; I am intrigued by them. 

A year ago, two of my girlfriends and I experienced a girls get-a-way week-end together at the beach.  The bartender at the Inn we stayed at was one of these intriguing people.  Because I'm drawn to interesting characteristics, this particular girl had many piercings, an attractive haircut and these deep, deep eyes that when you looked into them, you really saw her soul.  Although what really intrigued me was the tattoo she had scribed across her chest that read:  Beautiful Disaster.  I absolutely loved it!  Not that I'm about to go out and get a tattoo across my chest, but what it acknowledged for her was that her life wasn't perfect, and yes she had made many mistakes, however she had the courage to be who she was and was not apologetic for it.  She didn't feel the need to be a certain way or fit into a certain mold.  Whether it was the tattoo or perhaps the fact that I could really see into her soul that brought me to that conclusion, the end result was that I respected her for it.  In fact, I had more respect for her unapologeticness (is that a word?) than I would if she was molded by society, her interpretation of what her life should be like, or whatever!

So, since my journey as Christian began in 2009, I am living my life and my walk with God "Tammy Style".  For me, my relationship is unique and different than anyone else's and yes it comes with road bumps, stop signs and even very large brick walls; however a relationship with God "Tammy Style" means I am totally honest with God about my hang-ups, my challenges, my issues.  When things don't make sense to me or I don't see God's bigger plan, I don't pretend I am happy about it but instead I say, "God - I totally don't get what is going on here and why these challenges are in my life but what I do know for sure is that you have a plan.  And thank goodness because I have no idea what to do next.  So, I'm just gonna let go and let you handle it." 

I'm am soo thankful that God in fact wants me to be different!  He wants a relationship with me "Tammy Style" and he wants me to stand out in the crowd so that others will have the courage to step out in faith too!  How about you?  What's your style?


Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Little Tikes

"How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!"~ 1 John 3:1

I love my job. It's true!  Anyone one who knows me, knows I do.

I am a daycare provider. Five days a week I welcome 3 beautiful children into my home and do my very best to love and care for them like they were my own. I make bottles and change diapers. I read stories and kiss boo-boos. I serve lunches and tuck sweet sleepy faces in for naps. I trip over toys and wipe up spills.  I dance with Elmo and the gang, I color and glue and play with playdough. I teach and love and discipline. I truly do love my job!

My earliest memories include playing with baby dolls. I had every baby doll imaginable. Mrs. Beasley, Baby Alive, Betsey Wetsy, Holly Hobby, Raggedy Anne, I had them all! Nothing made me happier than the Sears Wishbook Catalog. I knew my Nana would let me choose any dolly I wanted for Christmas. So, its pretty obvious that I wanted to be a mom. I embraced motherhood with passion and determination and incredible joy. I'm the kind of mom who couldn't wait for school vacations so that I could have my kids back at home again with me. Yeah, I know, most of you think I'm crazy, but its true.

My own  daughters are nearly grown now. Kristi is  in college and Chelsea is  in high school. They don't need me like they used to. Don't get me wrong, they need me, it just looks different now.We are still very much a part  of each others daily  lives. Anyway,  I thought my "mommy days" were over. But God had another plan. The opportunity to start my own daycare fell into my lap. It was a chance I didn't want to pass up. To love babies again, be a support  to their parents AND get paid?   I jumped on it.

Its not a job for everyone. But for me its a perfect fit. However, there are some challenging, down right difficult days.. Yesterday was one of those days. Jack is a beautiful 4 month old. Normally  he's happy and predictable. Yesterday though,  I was faced with an infant who fussed for most of the afternoon. He was clean, he was fed, he had napped but he was UNHAPPY. I tried everything, rocking, singing, playing. No matter what I tried, I didn't do whatever it was he wanted me to do.

Isabella is an adventurous one year old, who is experiencing a bit of separation anxiety. She wouldn't let me leave her sight. The minute I turned my back, set her down  or stepped away for just a moment she WAILED. A blood curdling, "Where are you?!" screech is more like it.   Katie, the two-going-on-twelve  year old demanded. She demanded...... "something else for lunch" and she demanded  "to watch Dora NOT Barney". She demanded all day long.  She argued about putting her shoes on and taking the time to use the potty.  You see, it was a long long day.

But this morning, as I write, baby Jack  is peacefully sleeping in his bed. He looks angelic. His deep slow breathes epitomizes  relaxation. His little lips are curled into a precious smile. Bella and Katie are playing silly peek-a-boo games with each other and completely cracking each other up.The sound of their laughter is incredibly beautiful and  contagious. I can't help but laugh too!  Every now and then,  one or both, will approach me with a spontaneous hug or a kiss. Immediately, I have forgotten yesterday's chaos and exhaustion.

I wonder if that's sort of how God looks down on us?

Do we appear as small children, immature in our wants and reactions and behaviors?  We fuss and demand and wail. We want what we want....and we want it NOW! We throw our tantrums about what we want God to do, when we want him to do it and how we expect him to do it too. He just sits there patiently, maybe with an eye roll or a shake of his head. He knows.....he knows it will pass and no matter how poorly we behave he'll love us regardless. He forgets our tantrums and our bad decisions and simply delights in our being.

I imagine he looks down on us and chuckles.....often.  He marvels at us when we do obey him. He laughs when we entertain him with our antics. He takes joy in knowing we are his children and there's nothing we can ever do that will change his love. How great is that?

Duty calls........there's a fort of blankets we need to explore and a tower of blocks we need to knock over and rebuild!


*childrens names have been changed to protect their anonymity

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Pity Party for One

"Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petion, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus."~Philippians 4: 6&7

Ever have one of those days when everything seems off?

 It started last night with a slight disagreement with my husband. Actually, it wasn't even a disagreement, it was a discussion. An adult coversation over dinner where he voiced his opinion and I voiced mine. We were respectful and kind. We listened to each others thoughts and answers but in the end we both maintained our views. Sounds very adult-like huh? I suppose it was....except....I thought about it and thought about it and thought about it. I chewed on it, tried to swallow it and then chewed it some more.  I stewed in it....I brewed in it...I let it simmer and percolate. I let it keep me awake last night and I let it affect my day, all day, today.

Once something like this starts for me, I get all caught up in it. The next thing you know, I'm totally ticked off and often tearful. Then I start to notice things that have absolutely nothing to do with the original issue. For instance, because I was frustrated and annoyed with my husband, it irritated me the way he left his dirty clothes on our bedroom floor when he went to work. And I hate the way he leaves the toilet seat up and the dirty coffee cup on the counter. I even hate the way HIS dog sheds all over MY  house!

Now since I'm in such a good mood, I should probably think about everything else that's wrong......the can of paint that leaked all over the laundry room floor, empty toilet paper roll that someone didn't replace, the incessant phone calls from politicians urging me to vote. What about the fact my girlfriend that hurt my feelings this week?  The 7 loads of laundry that need to be done and  cobwebs in every corner that need to be caught. Ugh. I am having myself a good ole fashioned PITY PARTY! No one hears me, no one understands me, no one appreciates me!

Are you tired yet? I am!!!! I've wasted a  whole day....all because my husband I had a very honest, very real, very adult discussion over dinner LAST NIGHT! This is crazy!So, I'm cancelling  the pity party !!!

Instead, I am going to choose to be grateful. I am grateful for the husband who takes the time to listen to my thoughts. Who doesn't demand that his views also be mine. I will choose to pick up those dirty clothes (and not mention it later) knowing that he was in a hurry to get to work, to provide for our family. I will be grateful we have hot coffee to start each day. I will be grateful for the companionship of the shedding dog, for her silly antics and for the laughter she brings to this house. I will choose to believe the friend didn't mean to offend me and I will be grateful for her friendship. I will be grateful for the abundance of clothes and the electric washing machine to clean them. I will try, ever so hard,  to be grateful for the political calls, knowing that we live in a country where democracy and freedom to vote is celebrated. I'm still trying to find a way to be grateful for the cobwebs :)

The bible says "Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God which transcends all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus"- Philippians 4:6&7.

This was the first scripture I ever memorized. You would think by now, I would remember to lean on that truth, day in and day out.

"Do not be anxious about anything but in EVERYTHING" ......everything probably includes this little discussion with Chris? and all those other worries and woes? .....

" by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God " .......yup, here's where I messed up, I didn't pray about it, I thought and thought and thought some more, that's probably referred to as being "anxious"....

"And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus"  !
Well, HELLO there's what I was looking for all along. Peace. P.E.A.C.E.

Need I say more? I'm gonna grab a cup of coffee, fold the laundry  and pat the dog. I'm not sure I'll answer the phone or get to the those cobwebs though. heee heeee


Friday, October 29, 2010

"Who Am I?"

"For you created my inmost being: you knit me together in my mother's womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well"~Psalm 139:14

Welcome Back! Thank GOD its Friday :).....right?!

Today I thought I'd share a difficult assignment I was given this week. Each Monday evening I attend a bible study called "Boundaries" by Drs. Henry Cloud and John Townsend. Its a terrific bible study and I would highly recommend it to EVERYONE! Anyway, during the course of our discussion this past Monday, our Pastor, "Babs"  posed the question "Who Am I?" With some reservation, although not much,  she assigned us all an essay. I immediately bristled!

Unfortunately, her question also contained qualifiers. We could not include "roles" such as I am a mother, I am wife....and we couldn't use "god-talk" such as "I am saved by the blood of the Lamb". Well, there goes MY essay!!!! This essay should include my feelings, attitudes, behaviors, choices and values. Ugh.

Who am I?


Who am I?

Who am I? .........this is what I came up with :

Its a legitimate question. Its a tough question!!!! I already hate this assignment, does that give you any indication of "who I am"? I've spent the past 20+ years losing myself, so I'm not entirely sure. I have lost myself in the busyness of parenting, creating a home, working, chores, basically the  existence we call life. I'm not sure who I am exactly but I'll give this  my best shot.

I am......
~a woman deeply in love with her husband, her children and her friends. I am always ready to "go the extra mile" to prove my love. Sometimes I'll do it at my own expense. I am willing to sacrifice my time, my money, my energy, even myself, to take care of people. Often I take care of people I don't know. Yes, I am a text book case of codependency. I am the friend who's great to have beside you in a crisis.

I am......
~a woman who struggles with feelings in general. Including but not limited to  fear, anxiety, depression and anger. I often use food to supress these feelings. I am the by-product of a broken home and child survivor of domestic violence.

I am.......
~a woman who wants more than anything to believe....that all God says is true....about Himself, about me, about love. I want to know it and to feel it. I want to believe I am loved and accepted. I know intellectually what the Bible says, I just want to feel it with all of my heart.

I am......
~a woman who loves bible studies, reading, writing, crochetting.I love shopping for a bargain and I absolutely adore a fantastic purse!  I love any of the Real Housewives shows! I love babies and laughter and the smell of my husbands hair. I love the sound of the rain and having coffee on the porch at dawn. I love having a best friend to share my real self with, trusting she can handle, the good, the bad and the ugly.

I am......
~fiercely loyal, a bit overprotective, often defensive and too critical of myself and others. I am surprisingly stubborn and a perfectionist at heart (that is...I'm a control freak). By now you know, I am also an "Open Book".

I am......
~still learning, growing and hoping!

and I'm wondering......who are YOU? I'd love to hear your feedback. Have a blessed weekend!


Thursday, October 28, 2010

Iron sharpens iron

"As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another"~Proverbs 27:17

Hello my friends! Welcome to BFFs blog and first official entry. It is with great pleasure and tremendous fear that I welcome you here. Yup, you read that right, I said "fear". I have butterflies in my stomach, my mouth is dry and my fingers are  frozen!!!!

You see, writing is my passion. For as long as I can remember, I have wanted to write. I have dreamed about putting pen to paper and writing the novels that people will devour! My parents encouraged me, my teachers encouraged me, but until recently I have never done anything with the gift God has given me. I've written the occassional email and had a the response of  "you need to WRITE"...but I've never really been willing to put myself out there. Writing is personal......very personal.  It's equivalent to giving someone a glimpse of your heart and a piece of your soul.

So why now? Why all of a sudden do I feel compelled to just do it and finally take the leap of faith?

Well, it started two weeks ago on a beach in Cozumel, Mexico. My BFF, Tammy and I celebrated our 40th birthdays by taking a Premiere Christian Cruise together. The guest speakers, artists, and attendees were incredible. We both felt God using them to inspire us! As we sat on this gorgeous beach, looking out on the crystal blue waters, the coarse white sand between our toes, the idea to start a "blog" was formed. I jotted down notes, people to involve, topics to write about. We were both excited by the idea and agreed to pray about it. Prayer is often my MO to "stall" for time :)

After we returned from our cruise, refreshed, inspired and excited, the real world collided with our vacation mindset. The every day list of every day distractions took hold.The idea of a blog slipped further and further from my mind. "Maybe someday" I thought. God had a different plan!

He sent me a best friend, the most incredible woman who challenges me almost daily. Tammy and I go way 7th grade....but that's another story for another day. My point is that she knows me. She knows that I let the distractions of this world deter me from focusing on God's plan sometimes. She knows that although I love to write, I don't make time to do it. She knows that my intentions are good but my time management skills.....well, not so much!

So, God impressed upon her heart to set up this blog site. After an already busy week of travel, she sat in an airport, and with love in her heart, designed this blog. Is that a friend or what? She could have taken a nap, read a magazine, sipped a coffee and just savored the end of the day. Instead, she used what little time she had and dedicated it to this! She knew I wouldn't do it, so she did! By doing so, she pushed me, a little harder than I would have pushed myself, for sure!

That my dear friends, is what "iron sharpens iron" means to me. It's being real with one another. It's support and encouragement. It's being honest and loving at the same time. It's challenging your friend to do, to think, to be something outside their comfort zone. Often it is messy.

Picture it! Iron against iron, creates heat and friction, sometimes even sparks,  but in the end it  produces a sharper, stronger,  better  product.....a better friendship.  You may not always LIKE what a friend says or advises. You may not WANT to hear what they have to tell you. You may not  FEEL like doing "the right thing". But a true friend will tell you either way.

I pray that you have a BFF as loving as mine. One who will speak truth into your life. One who will love you, when you are right and when you are wrong. One who will send you "tough love" text messages, after she's let you have your pity party. I pray, that I will be that friend too.

 God bless you Tamra Jean <3 I thank God every day for restoring our friendship and showing me what BFF stands for!