You Don’t Have to Read This

Can I be honest?

I have been struggling lately. The issues have all been in my head, so those around me weren’t aware. When I felt prompted to write about this, I said no. I really don’t want to air this. I don’t want to look petty or whiny, so I hope you don’t take it that way.

The night I had my moment of clarity and subsequent prompt to write about it, I said, “I will if You help me remember tomorrow.” You know those brilliant thoughts you have as you are about to go to sleep? The ones you have to write down or else they will be gone in the morning? Yeah, I was hoping this would be like that….

Here goes. My distress is due to the fact that most of my family and friends have not bought my book. Lame reason, I know. When I became “an author,” I thought those close to me would be as happy as I was and run to Amazon to order a copy. I mean, someone they know wrote a book! Turns out, I am one of the only people who feel that way.

That’s OK. It has to be.

Look, I know other people don’t want to read a book about spending less. And they certainly don’t want to feel guilty if they aren’t giving much. So they probably think reading this would be uncomfortable. Hey, I didn’t care if they read it. I just wanted them to buy it because I wrote it. My sister, who is very big on not spending money, was reminding me that the topic isn’t for everyone.

Trust me. I know.

I also know this is common among other people. Many people write books that their families don’t read. Hearing that should have made me feel better, but honestly it didn’t. I tried to push away from sadness so I didn’t head over to bitterness. My family loves me. I know that. They are proud of me.

Well, the other night, as I was praying about it again, God spoke to me. He told me not to push my experiences on them. I had had this day of awakening almost two years ago, and I wouldn’t want to take that from anyone. I wouldn’t want to push them to decide to give more if they weren’t ready for it. Timing isn’t up to me. We are all in different situations and serve different needs. My aha moments are not the same as anybody’s.

I am choosing to accept that.

Why do I feel led to share this? Why should I put out there that I have felt like a failure, or, worse, look like I am begging? I am starting to feel like this applies to more than my meager sales. I know I can’t control anyone but me. I can’t tell people who to vote for or what to believe. I can’t force my husband to think like I do or my kids to say what I want. I can only do what I do and pray for the rest.

The same applies to you.

Linking with Holley Gerth

Just to See You Smile

During Spring Break a few weeks ago, the girls and I cleaned their rooms. (We know how to have a good time. Who needs the beach?) Of course, things could be heard, like, “I’ve been looking for that!”

While cleaning Kaitlyn’s room, Lauren found a compact that Grandma brought her from Canada a few years ago. Kaitlyn became sad because she suddenly realized she wanted one. Do either one need portable mirrors? No, but you know how it is when someone else has one.

The next day, I was so excited when I saw the sparkly, jeweled compact I had gotten from our makeup company. Kaitlyn will love it! I called her down and asked if she wanted it. She did indeed love and want it but still looked kind of confused. Poor child went and got a dollar to pay me. She couldn’t understand why I would give her such a treasure.

It took me a while to convince her that the compact was hers free and clear. It is a gift because I love her. She doesn’t have to pay me or clean her room. I expect nothing in return.

Nothing in return. That is a hard concept to grasp at any age.

Maybe this is just me, but when something good happens, I think I will have to pay for it. I make the assumption that God wants something from me. In reality, sometimes He just wants to see me smile.

God is love struck. He woos me. He pursues me. He shows me how much He cares, but I seldom pay attention. How much am I missing because I don’t just accept the gift? I try to figure out what I am going to have to do to earn it or deserve it. If I take it graciously, I can enjoy it all the more.

This applies to all of life. Of course, Jesus gave me the ultimate gift of life when He died for me, but there are gifts every day. A job fell in my lap last year. I have recently seen one child start to love to read and the other one learn to ride her bike. Not much can bring more joy to a parent than seeing their children love life. I still get hugs and kisses willingly from them. I adore spending evenings on the deck with the man I love. These are all gifts that I don’t owe God for. I am not expected to scrape up some amount that would be big to me but piddly to God. He does things because bringing me joy gives Him joy.

Just to see me smile.

Linking with Holley Gerth

10 Ways to Make Your Hope Stronger Than Your Fear

How often do you let fear get out of control? If you are like me, it can be a run away train before you realize it. I tend toward anxiety but have been trying different ways to deal with it. So, here are 10 ways to make your hope stronger than your fear:

  • Surround yourself with people who love you. They may not always like you, but they will always love you. These can be family or friends. When fear takes over, let them listen and comfort you.
  • Come up with a mantra of a verse or a saying. “Jesus is all I need.” “The joy of the Lord is my strength.” “God is love.” “I am not alone.” “This too shall pass.” “It will all work out.”
  • Cling to Jesus. Send up little prayers every time a negative thought pops in your head. Read your Bible more than you have been. Getting closer to God is the best way to bring back hope.
  • Distract yourself. When you can’t shake a bad feeling, do something else. Change gears and get your mind thinking about something else.
  • Laugh. Laughter is powerful medicine! When the world gets you down, your heart needs to be lifted. Find a funny friend or even some comedy clips on YouTube.
  • Listen to music. But not just any old song. Find a go to song that never fails to make you happy. You may laugh, but a song that always makes me happy is Patience by Guns N’ Roses. It is our song and belting it out brings me joy. Think of a song that has personal meaning to you and see if that doesn’t perk you right up!
  • Smile. Even if you have to fake it till you make it, the act of smiling can lift your spirits and shake off anxiety.
  • Do something for someone else. Preferably anonymously. Getting out of your own head can show you how good the world can be and also that things can always be worse. When you think about your purpose in being here, it is not for yourself but for someone else. Fear fades away when you live for others.
  • Write it out. When you write out why you are fearful and list the scenarios that can happen, it gives you another perspective. Solutions may come to you or you may have peace. You may also see that you are being ridiculous. (I know I often do.)
  • If all else fails, sleep. Close your eyes and try to rest, even if for only 5 minutes. Things often look brighter in the morning.

If you are going through a storm, please know that you are never alone or the only one who feels the way you do. There is always hope. My family would be honored to pray for you!

Linking with Holley Gerth

Paul’s Words for Election Years

The book of Titus may have been written 2,000 years ago, but I think a few verses were snuck in for 2016. Election years are rough, y’all. It is easy to get caught up in all the negativity and self-righteousness.

In Titus 3, Paul warns: “Remind the people to be subject to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready to do whatever is good, to slander no one, to be peaceable and considerate, and always to be gentle toward everyone.” Now do you see why I keep my mouth shut when it comes to politics? We all know how bad things are without all the slander that goes on. I would rather keep my two ears open and my one mouth shut than to say something I can’t take back.

You know what you really won’t catch me doing? I won’t be talking badly about the president in front of kids, especially my own kids. Whoever is in that office is our authority and it isn’t up to us to pick and choose which authority we respect. I may not always agree with choices and words, but I respect anyone who wants to take on that job. You couldn’t pay me enough to be criticized by half the country and for my family to be scrutinized that much. And can we lay off the accusations of playing too much golf? Every president seems to play a lot of it. They are human and need rest too. Yes, we should hold them to high standards, but let’s make the standards achievable. My girls, like all kids, need to learn to respect any authority put over them. They will follow our lead, so let’s show them how *ahem* mature we are.

Peaceable, considerate, and gentle. Those are difficult to be toward those we are closest to, let alone in a political discussion. I believe we are much more persuasive (and sane sounding) when we behave in a peaceful manner. Passion will still be heard and people won’t tune us out immediately. How about instead of tearing down opponents, we bring up the good points of who we like? What a novel idea! Restraining our tongues is one of the hardest things to do, but it is worth it. We won’t lose friends or the respect and admiration of our peers.

There you have it: Paul’s guide to the 2016 election. If we can accomplish these behaviors, I believe we will see we have more common ground with opponents than we thought. We also might keep our friends! Let’s stay kind and peaceful and see what a difference it will make.

We can get through this together!

Today is my first monthly guest post over at Starla Jimenez’s blog. Check it out!

Linking with Holley Gerth

The Backside of a Cross Stitch

I don’t usually daydream about prostitutes.

While reading the beginning of the book of Joshua, and then flipping to Matthew a few days later, I had a vision about Rahab. She was a prostitute and was in the line of Jesus.

In the book of Joshua, spies were sent out to figure out how to take the city of Jericho. They hid in Rahab’s house while she sent the Jericho army off on a wild goose chase. They stayed hidden until it was safe to escape. She arranged for her family to be saved when Jericho was destroyed in exchange for her help. Because of her faith in God, not only were she and her family saved, Rahab literally was part of Jesus’ family. She married Salmon of the tribe of Judah and was the mother of Boaz. Boaz married Ruth and they were the great grandparents of David!

When you think of Jesus, you think about the Israelites, but his lineage includes a Canaanite. Through her daughter in law, Ruth, there is also a Moabite. Earlier in the Old Testament, Tamar tricked her father in law, Judah, into fathering her twins, Perez and Zerah. Perez is part of Jesus’ family. And who can forget Bathsheba? She was taken from her husband by Kind David. Whether or not these women did the right thing, they were in Jesus’ lineage!

When I think of these ladies, it brings to mind my cross stitch. The end result is beautiful-at least the front. No matter what the front looks like, the back is a hot mess of knots, extra thread, and weird lines. None of it looks like it belongs or makes sense.

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To me, that is God’s sense of humor. We can try to make sense of His choices and how He weaves His story together, but we will never get it. It isn’t like a puzzle where, once pieces are put together, it becomes clear. No, God likes to take different screwed up people from different places and put them all in a grand story.

If everyone in Jesus’ family were alike and all from Israel, everyone else would feel like they don’t belong. And if they all started out as upstanding citizens, anyone with a past would feel unworthy. But God says, “You are all welcome in My family. I will clean you up and make you worthy.”

Next time you feel like you are the backside of a cross stitch, flip it and see the beauty God is putting in you.

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Linking with Holley Gerth

Like, Totally Rad

The past few days have not been spent writing. They have been spent celebrating (and recovering from celebrating) this precious one’s 10th birthday!

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Saturday night, we had an 80’s party. The girls danced, ate pizza and cake, and had a Twister competition. Then the guests left and we all slept!

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Sunday was her actual birthday, and this Mama is mourning a little. Lauren is still the same sweet, sensitive child, but she is decidedly less childlike these days. She is more interested in clothes and that preteen attitude is coming out more.

Growing up is natural, and part of me can’t wait to see what amazing things she does. But the rest of me wants her to stay my little girl.

It really is true that the days are long but the years are short. I just need to embrace each day I get with my family. I will never get one back once it is over.

I hope you had a wonderful weekend and didn’t let the moments pass you by!

Enough Already

We are blessed. We know it, but do we always act like we know it? Sadly, no. We tend to take our lives for granted and get lost in a sea of what others have that we want. Call it the human condition or sin nature or whatever you want. I call it devastating.

This week I decided it isn’t enough for our money to be going to help other people. Our hearts and minds have got to be more invested if we want to turn things around.

Our family is going to do three things each week to stay on top of this greed issue. The first idea I got from Kristen Welch in her new book, Raising Grateful Kids in an Entitled World. There are so many helpful tips and encouraging words in this book! Now, I know that we are fortunate to have a pantry that always contains food. I am pretty sure my girls know this too, but we too easily forget. So, one night a week, we are going to eat rice and beans like so many in the world do. I started it this week and used the recipe Kristen included. All but little Kaitlyn really liked it. She can just eat rice if she really wants to. I know we will get tired of this, but that is when we will remember that we have the choice.

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The second thing we will be doing is a service project for MUST Ministries. I love that they are local and one day the girls will be old enough that we can go volunteer as a family. There are two things we can do to help-one is to decorate paper bags for lunches. The other is to roll up plastic forks and spoons in napkins for meals served there. They use more than 200 forks and spoons and 70 lunch bags every day, so this will be a big help. My plan is to do one of these each week and bring the girls in when I deliver them.

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The last thing has been ongoing, but slacking. Our Food for the Poor project was begun last year as a way for Lauren to help others. She has been relying on me selling makeup too much and needs to be more hands on. So, one day a week they will be earning money for it. This week they picked up 594 pine cones for me, and I donated $15. In a few weeks, we will have another lemonade stand.

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The FFTP project is very important to us and need to stay at the front of our minds. People ask me when I will go on a mission trip, but I don’t want to come home changed to a family that hasn’t. My prayer is still to raise the funds to build a school for Food for the Poor. Raising around $50,000 will take much more effort, so we are in training mode now. When that school is funded and built, I want all four of us to go see it. I want us to truly understand how good we have it.

It is one thing to have compassion, but without doing anything to help others, that compassion is empty. We have known that, but we haven’t been intentional enough lately. The great thing is that we can just jump in and help now. It is never too late!

Linking with Holley Gerth