Saturday, April 16, 2011

ain't no rain gonna slow THIS girl down! :)

it's chilly, it's rainy, it's windy... (welcome to chicago.) but we are NOT letting it dampen our spirits today (pun fully intended!) :)

i've got 3 cute girls buzzing around in the early morning hours, ready for the day's adventure! what a blessing to be able to do this with my sweet girls - growing up, my dad was a teacher and a coach for several years and then worked with a faith-financed ministry so our income was modest at best. i never felt at want while growing up - i always had everything i needed and a few things i wanted even :) (an atari, a cabbage patch kid, a cool bike with a silver sparkly banana seat, you get the jist.) but i am so fortunate to have a husband who has steady employment (barring any major government shutdowns!) and works very hard to provide for our family. tell your hubby thanks today for all he does for your family (trust me, girls. it is hard when it's not reciprocated but God calls us to submission and to respect our husband, regardless of his response. you can't get around that.) i have found that it will revolutionize your relationship in the best way possible. :)

so off we go to the big city!!! :) will try to post pics later - pray for our safety and clear skies!!

ANNNNNNND we have TWO winners from yesterday's big giveaway!

CONGRATS kristi skeen and jill keiser!!!! :) i can't wait for you to check out this book - i pray it encourages you as much as it has me. and it's FUNNY. i like FUNNY. :)

love y'all! enjoy your weekend - praying you find time for rest, for fun, some alone time, and some sweet family time as well :)


Thursday, April 14, 2011

favorite things friday giveaway!

hello there sweet girls!

well, it only seems fit that this week's favorite things giveaway would be my new favorite book, "made to crave" by lysa terkeurst! i have heard from dozens of you who have also started reading this book, just ordered it or are about to order it. my advice, do it NOW. :) as my friend liz said, it is a great resource for any kind of addiction you may be struggling with - insecurity, alcohol, pride, brownies, cocaine, what have you... it is an easy read, so very witty but poignant and REAL. obviously, i can't say it enough - LOVE IT. so, since i just friggin' ADORE this book, i will be choosing TWO winners tomorrow instead of the one (and for the record, my delivery service is running VERRRRRRY slowly these days. but i promise you, they are arriving shortly. as far as you know. ha!) so leave me a comment (yes, "hi." does count, lesley. it's lame, but it counts. lol) and i will randomly pick two names to receive this book! yay! i'm already excited for you!! :) i know it will change your heart as it has mine. thank you Jesus!!

this is going to be another busy but BLESSED weekend - my youngest daughter is turning 8 and her birthday wish is to have breakfast at the American Girl store in Chicago :) so we are getting up early on saturday to catch the train into town, dining with my two sweetie-girls and two of laney's bffs at AG, and then her Aunt Jessica (my sissy from Dallas!) is flying up and meeting us at the store to surprise her! i've almost blown the surprise, like, 1200 times already, too. in case you haven't figured it out by now, i have a HUGE mouth. :D (it really does look just like that.) Jess will be meeting us after breakfast so as soon as we're done eating we're going to pick out her new AG doll and Aunt Sisi will jump out from behind something and scare the tar out of her! YES! :) my sis will be staying with us for the week (fun girl time! and yikes, this will be my biggest test so far - i don't know if my sister and i can actually HAVE fun without eating inordinate amounts of fried food. we'll probably just sit around sulking, nibbling on carrot sticks. lol) and THEN, as if that weren't fun enough, my cute little sis-in-law (my brother's wife) is flying up from college station, tx (WHOOP!) on thursday to hang out with us for a few days! SO EXCITED!! the three of us will be staying in the big city thursday night so if you hear any news reports of 3 crazy, hungry looking women wandering the magnificent mile that would be us :)

wow. aren't y'all glad i just gave you a complete itinerary of the next 7 days of my life?? thrilling, i'm sure. :) if i lose a couple followers after this post i don't blame ya. (ha! just kidding. i will find you.)

so check in with me tomorrow to get in on a chance for the giveaway, "made to crave". and have a super fun fabulous friday!! love you girls!!


Tuesday, April 12, 2011

my new favorite book

first off, i feel i need to apologize for not posting lately. we moved the family computer upstairs because my daughter needed to print something off for school and i've left it there all weekend and the past couple days. i tell you what, i can actually get stuff done without that thing beckoning me, taunting me all day long :) so it's been freeing for me to focus on other things like my family and my housework and the million projects i have piling up around the house. you should try it some time! (after you get done reading this, of course. lol)

ok, i am a reader and i love to read inspirational, "self-help" type books. i figure if i'm going to sit down and take a break out of my day to read, i want to get back up with a renewed purpose :) and i always have a pile of books that have been "sampled" a couple chapters at a time laying around. but this one has grabbed me and i can't get enough of it.

i started this blog as a source of encouragement for mommies who may be struggling with depression, anxiety, guilt, feelings of inadequacy, etc. and to remind you that it is NOT a sign that your Heavenly Father has abandoned you or stopped loving you. i have struggled for 11 years with these emotions/imbalances and have tried in the past several things to remedy my pain. one of the main sources of counterfeit comfort that i've run to has been food. ahhhhhh, yes. dare i say i'm not the only one here? it has been the number one stronghold in my life for the past 20 years, no doubt, and has only intensified since having children and losing, what i believed to be, my "pre-baby body" (truly, she ain't the same. lol) i touched on this in an earlier post, talking about how i tried to assuage my loneliness while my husband was in training with french fries and cheeseburgers. which would only serve to usher in more guilt, and hot on the heels of that guilt was the total defeatedness and depression i felt, which would find me, once again, in some random drive-thru lane... a sweet friend introduced me to a book that i love by gwen shamblin called "the weight down diet". the concept of loving God more than food seriously hit home for me. i realized i was an addict. some people struggle with alcohol, some with drugs, but mine was a more hidden and, sadly, socially acceptable addiction of food. reading that book really did change how i thought about food. it helped me to realize that my eating habits and cycles were absolutely a spiritual issue and stronghold for me. i still abide by many of the principles of the weigh down diet but have become lazy and the old excuses start sneaking in... (and isn't that JUST how satan works? he doesn't sit you down with an entire ice cream cake and yell "eat!!", he seduces us with rationalizations and compromises until we are numb to the voice of reason.)


okay, so here's my new favorite book (on this topic) it's called "made to crave" by lysa terkeurst. lysa is a well-known author/speaker and is the founder if "proverbs 31 ministries" i started reading this book a couple weeks ago, one snippet at a time, and then recently found her website which has all kinds of awesome info and resources for us. i HIGHLY encourage you to check it out. surely i can't be the only one who knows that this is a problem and so desires to be right with God in this area...

here's what lysa has to say:

"getting healthy isn't just about losing weight. it's not limited to adjusting our diet and hoping for good physical results. it's about recalibrating our souls so that we want to change - spiritually, physically, and mentally. and the battle really is in all three areas. i had to ask God to give me the desire to be healthy. i knew a vanity-seeking "want to" would never last. shallow desires produce only shallow efforts. i had to seek a spiritual "want to" empowered by God Himself."

wow. that right there is the key, my friends! i have wrestled and wrestled with this in the past. most of my motivation for losing weight prior to having babies (and especially prior to getting married) was to LOOK GOOOOOOD. to turn heads. to feel good about myself. but i don't want that now and i haven't been able to figure out how to get rid of that focus in my head. trying to lose weight has always been a shallow, prideful endeavor for me - i don't want it to be that anymore! recently, in light of my health issues, i have come to terms with the fact that i NEED to exercise to take care of my body. but where does that leave me with the food? it still calls me from the pantry every night, after the kids have gone to bed, away from the watchful eyes and grabby little hands (i mean, there's no WAY i'd let my kids eat the way i do! how lame is THAT? ugh.) and i am DONE. this book has refocused my gaze and reminded me that this is a HUGE spiritual issue. think about it... if satan can defeat us in this area, all kinds of stuff gets out of whack. we are depressed and cranky from eating crap all day long and we take it out on our kids. we feel lazy and unmotivated so it hinders us from enjoying life to the fullest. and, most importantly i think, when we feel bad about ourselves we are FAR more less likely to be intimate with our husbands and fulfill our roles as wives in that aspect. NOT GOOD. and all for what?!? A COOKIE??? my word, Lord Jesus, forgive us, forgive ME, for not recognizing this sooner and not bringing this completely and totally to Your feet. help me to change my mindset, to set my mind on things above (colossians 3:1-5) and take every thought captive "to make it obedient to Christ" (2 cor. 10:5) i would love to hear from you, sweet sisters. i hope we can encourage each other through our struggles and hardships, knowing that there is power in prayer and in community. i have a link to this book set up at the end of this post - check out the book, it's less than $10 on, and let me know what you think of it. most definitely go to the "made to crave" website for further encouragement and also to lysa terkeursts' "proverbs 31 woman" website. such awesome resources available to us out there! let's take advantage of them! :)

i love y'all so so much. i plan on getting back into david's life soon and how it relates to our emotional struggles as moms as well. but i just had to share with you all what has been heavy on my heart the past few days... praying for ALL of you and i adore you more than words can express :)


Thursday, April 7, 2011

let's dig in :)

"give me understanding, and i will keep your law
and obey it with all my heart.
direct me in the path of your commands,
for there i find delight.
turn my heart toward your statutes
and not toward selfish gain.
turn my eyes toward worthless things;
preserve my life according to your word."

psalm 119:34-37

i tell you what, i love God's word. "for the word of God is alive and active. sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart." (hebrews 4:12) it is refreshing, it is encouraging, it is the voice of the One True God made available to us here on Earth. maybe that's why satan distracts us with every possible hurdle in an effort to keep us from getting into it. he KNOWS it is "the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes" (romans 1:16) he fills our thoughts with excuses and rationales causing us to avoid getting into the word. he KNOWS there is power in the sacred script, he KNOWS God's word does not return void (isaiah 55:11) and that we WILL gain strength, wisdom, knowledge, peace, and encouragement from it and that scares the TAR out of him. it can be intimidating if you don't know where to start. face it, it's a big book with a lot of words - that scares me. :) first, pray that God would give you the desire to know Him more. sometimes, it just starts with a simple request. He sees it all anyway - just lay it out there. "God, right now i'm just not really interested in reading the Bible. can you please give me a desire to do it?" pray that He will bring specific scriptures to mind. Ask Him to lead you to just the right story, the right verse that will speak to you, in your situation, TODAY. sometimes i just sit on my couch, open up my Bible, lay my hands on those precious pages and sit in the quiet. He tells us to "be still and know that i am God" (psalm 46:10) just rest in His goodness and in His unfailing love for you. He really wants to spend time with you, to love on you a little bit. pray for the opportunity and the desire to do that today - to rest in His word. take a look at the psalms - a book in the Bible dedicated to praise and worship. it is powerful! i am praying for all of us, sweet sisters, that He continues to make us into strong warrior princesses, beloved daughters of the Most High God, raising up the next generation ready to do battle. love it. :)

ok, so let's get into checking out this david fella... we've all heard the numerous stories from our very first days in sunday school. david the little shepherd boy, david and goliath, david and bathsheba, etc. i've always been fascinated with his life because i knew that God had called him a "man after his own heart" and yet i heard the stories of struggles, the terrible choices (adultery and murder? so not good.), his wayward children, his battles with depression, and i thought, i really need to investigate this further. :) there i was, beating myself up on a daily basis because i wasn't "perfect" or the least bit consistent in my walk with the Lord, and then here's david, making a complete mess of things, and i think, maybe there's hope for me yet. well, guess what. there is. :)

david's story starts in 1 samuel 16. Saul is the King of Israel and he's messed up pretty badly. samuel has to break the news to Saul that "the LORD has torn the kingdom of Israel from you today and given it to one of your neighbors - to one better than you." OUCH. thus begins the quest for a new king - God has told samuel to go see a man named jesse in bethlehem (yes, THE bethlehem), that He's chosen one of jesse's sons to be the next King of Israel, but He hasn't revealed it to samuel yet. so david's father, jesse, brings out "all" his sons to march in front of samuel but none of them are "the one". samuel senses something is up and he asks jesse, "are you SURE these are all the sons you have?" oh wait. silly jesse forgot one. he's out with the sheep. wow - david's own father was like "no way. he is definitely NOT 'king' quality." for some people, that total lack of confidence from one's parent requires years of therapy to heal. i know i would be totally hacked. :)

so here comes david, fresh from the field, smelling of sheep food and sheep crud, standing before samuel, along with his 7 other brothers and his loving father who forgot he existed, awaiting the verdict... "then the LORD said (to samuel), 'rise and anoint him; he is the one.' so samuel took the horn of oil and anointed him in the presence of his brothers'" (you know they were pumped up about watching their scrawny little brother being anointed the next King of Israel. or not.) it goes on to say that "from that day on the Spirit of the LORD came upon David in power." now, he's not the King of Israel yet. Saul is still in charge but God has made it clear that the Kingdom of Israel is not his for long. if i were him i might be a little paranoid, you know? 1 samuel 16:14 says this "now the Spirit of the LORD had departed from Saul, and an evil spirit from the LORD tormented him." (i wonder if this was the exact time that the Spirit of the LORD came upon David. could be...) okay, i am not going to even attempt at translating this for you. my Bible commentary says that "perhaps Saul was simply depressed. or perhaps the Holy Spirit had left Saul, and God allowed an evil spirit (a demon) to torment him as judgment for his disobedience (this would demonstrate God's power over the spirit world - 1 kings 22:19-23)" i could sit and attempt to understand the Holy and perfect ways of God but it hurts my brain to do so. what on earth is an evil spirit from the LORD anyway? i tell you what, i'd rather not get to the point of disobedience where i actually find out. this just may be where the "fear of the LORD" comes into play. He is God and He can do whatever He sees fit - it's not for me and my feeble human mind to try to understand it all. and as we will discover with the life of David, there's not a whole heck of a lot that makes "sense" as far as what we may think a true servant of God "should" look like.

tomorrow we'll be getting into Saul's and David's relationship (he actually ends up marrying Saul's daughter - and you thought YOU had problems with the inlaws!) and his fight with this big guy named goliath. i hope you're loving this as much as i am - i'm a huge history buff and one of the main reasons is because you have the advantage of looking back over the years and the centuries and actually seeing God's hand of providence moving and working. it's pretty stinkin awesome. and it gives us hope on days like today (or yesterday, or tomorrow) when everything seems to be falling apart that God is still in control and that we can TRUST HIM with the outcome.

love you girls :) see you tomorrow!


Wednesday, April 6, 2011

my story, part 6 (i think.)

today we're going to talk about the voices in my head. :)

one of my greatest challenges as a follower of Jesus has been my own self-condemning thoughts. i am my own greatest enemy at times. it has taken me a long time to be able to distinguish the voice of reason from the voice of criticism. of course i still struggle but my ability to discern has become fine tuned, refined over the past 10 years. but not without much trial and error.

for me, that was the worst thing about being alone as a new mom. sure i was busy with the baby and shuffling through the mundane every day tasks but at night, when all was still and settled, it was just me and my thoughts. now, i don't know if it's a personality thing, a hormone thing, a chemical imbalance thing but my brain, if i allow it (this is key and we will revisit this in a later post), will run until it starts to smoke and springs start popping out everywhere. :) and inevitably, if i let those unsavory thoughts run rampant for a while, i actually start to believe them. i was convinced that God had made a terrible, awful mistake in giving me a child - it was obviously a massive oversight on His part. and then, in the wake of these ugly thoughts, my mind would start wandering down the road of serious doubt and questioning everything i believed and thought to be true. was i even really saved? how could someone who really loves God even HAVE these thoughts?

over the years i have been completely fascinated with the story of David. more has been written in scripture about this man than Abraham, Joseph and Jacob. in fact, God specifically calls Him "a man after His own heart" (1 samuel 13:13-14) wow. sounds like a pretty impressive dude, huh? for God to have sought him out while looking for a replacement for Saul and, out of ALL the people in Israel (or the world for that matter), he said "yep. this is my guy." he HAS to be perfect, right? i mean, seriously, a man after God's own heart would HAVE to be, wouldn't he? well, let's have a look-see... tomorrow :) we will start to examine David's life and get into the Psalms that show that maybe David wrestled with his thoughts as well. (so it's NOT just me?? sweet!) if you want to get a head start, check out 1 samuel 16 all the way through 2 samuel into his death in 1 kings 2. (oops, total spoiler. he dies at the end. lol)

busy night at church tonight - hubby's working late, my girls invited friends to come with them to church, choir practice preparing for Easter, we leave in 40 mins and i need to scrape something respectable together for dinner :) i'm excited to get into the life of David tomorrow - it is beyond mind-boggling and gives me such hope and encouragement to know that the only man God ever referred to in scripture as being "a man after His own heart" had some MAJOR issues. maybe there's hope for me yet. lol :)

"therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken,
le us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe,
for our 'God is a consuming fire.'"

hebrews 12:28-29

love y'all - see you tomorrow :)