What Sea Turtles Taught Me About Purpose

When you think about turtles, what comes to mind? They are slow and clunky. Walking is awkward. Maybe you think of the tortoise beating the hare because slow and steady wins the race. Well, let me tell you sea turtles are amazing in the water!

While on Maui last week, we saw many turtles in the water. After swimming with sea turtles, a fact that I will bring up in every conversation for the rest of my life, I have developed a fascination with them. Who would have thought I would see (get it?) turtles as graceful? Not me!

The first day our family was near turtles, we were practicing snorkeling for our official snorkeling the next day. I was closest to our 11 year old, Lauren. Suddenly she made a noise and pointed. I turned, and a big, beautiful turtle was about to swim past me. He (she?) calmly swam a few feet from me while I freaked out. A turtle! In the water! Right there! It got so close to James and Kaitlyn that it touched them. I was amazed. This creature was in its element.

The next day, we saw several turtles from a little farther away and it was no less amazing. The day after that, we were in front of our condo where many must have lived. They swam by us and we were mesmerized. When Lauren was in the water, she would swim along with them. It never got old.

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When I am fulfilling my purpose and doing what God created me to do, I am like those sea turtles. It comes more naturally than the times I do something because I “think” I am supposed to do it. When I do something because “someone has to do it,” it is like watching a turtle on land. It can be almost painful to watch because I am stepping in someone’s shoes that I was never meant to fill.

I am here to do things in a way that no one else does them. You are here to do other things that you do well. When we do that and stay in our lanes, it is like magic to watch. People can’t take their eyes off of us, because there is grace and dignity in the way we move. We are here for a purpose, and when we figure out what that is, we are infused with confidence.

Maybe it is just me, but I want to do what comes naturally to me. I don’t want to work or volunteer somewhere because I think I should. I don’t want a hobby because other people around me do it. I want to do things that were made for me and I for them. Gliding through the water sounds much better than slogging along land that takes more effort. I want to be a sea turtle. Or maybe I just want to live at the beach!

Linking with Holley Gerth

Unicorns and Rainbows

As I am beginning to process our trip to Hawaii, I am more and more in awe of God. He never felt so near as on the island of Maui. Everywhere I looked seemed to point me to Him and to spending eternity with Him.

One of the reasons Maui made me think of heaven as much as it did is that mere days before we went there, a friend who we had been praying for healing for two years passed away. She was not even 40 years old and had inspired thousands with her courage and love despite fighting for her life. Even though Nadine surpassed the 3-4 month time she had been given, I still felt shocked when she left this earth. So I went on our trip with a heavy heart.

Well, our first day in Maui happened to be the same day as the memorial for Nadine. It started off early and brilliantly. We had heard that the sunrise from the top of a volcano called Mount Haleakala is breathtaking because you are at 10,000 feet and you see the clouds below you. Witnessing this meant leaving our hotel at 3:20 am but it was beyond worth it. Getting all bundled up for the 42 degree weather (and still freezing) added to the atmosphere of wonder. We were so excited to see God’s daily creation in a whole new way!

When you go to the top of Haleakala, you find a spot to stand and wait in the dark. You watch as the sun paints the sky and clouds different colors. Nadine loved unicorns and at one point, I swear one of the clouds was shaped like one. I tried to take a picture before it changed shape. She was there watching too.

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The clouds kept changing and glowing different colors, as if in anticipation of what was about to happen. They seemed to know the glory they got to be a part of. The glory I got to witness.

After the sun rose and the people in front of us thinned out, we made our way to the railing. Looking down into the valley was equally incredible. Seeing the start of a new day from this vantage point made me appreciate all the more how creative God is.

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Six days later, as we turned our rental car in and were about to board a plane to head back home, my girls saw a rainbow in the sky. Nadine had told her family in a letter, “I’m catching your every tear and I’m making rainbows with every one.” Since the day she went to heaven, people who knew her have been seeing them everywhere. I wasn’t a close friend of hers but you didn’t have to be close to know how special this woman was. She is missed here but is partying in heaven, of that we know.

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Seeing an island that is mostly unspoiled and is the way God intended the earth to be felt like magic. Knowing we were still on earth seemed impossible. I think Maui changed my view of life because it changed my view of heaven. I got a glimpse of what is to come after this life. One day every tear will be wiped away and who knows? Maybe they will be turned into rainbows in heaven!

Linking with Holley Gerth

Heaven on Earth

I got a glimpse of heaven this past week.

My family and I spent 6 nights on Maui and had the most amazing time. We had been planning this trip since our 11 year old was 7, as she pointed out. That is a good chunk of her life! Since we got back a few days ago, I have been trying to come up with words to describe it and all I got so far is heaven.

The whole island is breath taking and the vibe is laid back. They don’t call it “island time” for no reason! We were told that the bank in Hana is open for an hour and a half a day. My husband says island time would drive me crazy as I like to be on time. I think I could adjust. 🙂

There will be more on this trip starting next week, but for now here is a picture of our introduction to Maui. Aloha!

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My New Money Habit

Several weeks ago, my husband, James, said we had spent a lot of money eating at restaurants last month. I had been thinking it, but I wasn’t really paying attention. Now I am.

When he told me, I went into immediate action. That night, I started a money journal in a spiral notebook. I started writing down any money I had spent that day using one page for each week. I wrote the date, the store, and the amount. I have since tweaked it to only be about food purchases.

Yes, I know there are websites and apps that do this. James uses them and that was how he knew we had spend too much eating out. Call me old school, but the act of writing is more meaningful for me. If I just have to glance at an app, I will soon forget. But when I have to write it down myself, I am more hesitant to spend the money. Mindfulness is important, in whatever way works best for you.

People keep food journals for the same reason I am doing this. Accountability and awareness are key to changing habits. First of all, when you write something down, even if you are the only one who sees it, you have to own up to it. You can’t just dismiss it and move along, because there is a record of it. The second part is knowing when these things are happening so you can figure out why. Being able to analyze your habits gives insight to how you can change them.

Since I started this journal, I am being more intentional with our eating schedule. We aren’t the busiest family, but I want to plan at the beginning of the week any time I know we are eating out. I made a chart with each meal listed. I am leaving room for a few changes, but for the most part, if it says we are eating at home, I am making sure we have the ingredients for a meal. This has meant more trips to the grocery store, but that is certainly cheaper and healthier than a restaurant.

This idea can work for any part of your spending, but I think it is good to work on one area at a time. You can always get that under control and then move on to another area. It can be too overwhelming otherwise.

These last few weeks have felt good. I took control back that I had given up. We are all in charge of our finances and should see it as a gift and spend that money wisely. No one wants to talk about money, but once you open up that dialog, you get to take control. Saving money in areas you don’t really care about can mean saving it or spending it on something you are passionate about.

Don’t let your money issues hold you back or be your boss. Don’t let your stuff own you. Decide right now that you are in charge and get creative. It will all be worth it when you can give more, travel more, or buy that TV you have been wanting!

Linking with Holley Gerth

Hope for the Mom of Littles

One minute you are changing a diaper for the millionth time and wondering when it will end and the next minute you are preparing a child for middle school. That is me right now. My oldest starts sixth grade at the end of the month and I can’t believe it.

There were years of not enough sleep and constant requests for juice. Years of cartoons and post nap snuggles. Actually I still get all this, but on a much smaller scale. Both girls now not only don’t wear diapers, but they can wipe themselves too (and have been able to for years.) They can be in a different room and I don’t wonder if they are going to get hurt. They play outside without me hovering within eyesight. When the youngest has to go to the bathroom in a public place, I can send them together instead of having to take one, and then the other, there myself. They have a little more freedom and so do I.

These days, the girls make me laugh constantly. They used to both love matching and being “twinsies,” but Lauren is too old for that now. The other night I found them cuddling in bed together and asked if they had their matching pajamas on. Kaitlyn said in a sing song voice, “Yes we match and are cuddling” and posed for a picture. Lauren pulled the blanket over her head and yelled, “There’s no proof!” I couldn’t love these two more!

Yesterday I needed something at the mall so us three girls went. We chatted and laughed. We went to more grown up stores than The Disney Store. As we were getting near Starbucks, I asked if they wanted to go. I got, “Yaaaass!” I pulled out my Mother’s Day gift card and spent most of it. It was worth it!

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For years and years, I have dreaded middle school. The closer we get to this new phase though, the better I feel about it in some ways. My girls are not going to morph into completely different creatures (at least not overnight.) They will grow and learn and I get to be there for it all. Hopefully because I have laid the groundwork for them to trust me, they will most of the time. And if they stop for a time, they will come back to me.

For anyone who is in those early stages, remember that it matters. Some days it may seem tedious and you may miss seeing adults. However, the truth is you are laying the groundwork for your kids in the future. All of these things that seem little are more important than you realize now. Keep going.

Don’t stop pouring yourself into those babies and toddlers. One day soon these days will be gone and your big kids will tease you. They will want to wear your clothes and will say funny things. They will want to sit on your lap occasionally even though their arms and legs are almost as long as yours. They will be a delight. Mostly.

Linking with Holley Gerth

Land of the Free

This might be from 2 years ago, but it is still true today! Happy Fourth of July!

We like to be dramatic, don’t we? We say our rights are being taken away and make broad statements about how Jesus is coming soon. Don’t get me wrong, I pray He does. The truth is, things have always been bad and getting worse. We have been talking about His return since the Bible, so it might still be awhile!

As I think about Independence Day, I am so grateful for my freedom. I can worship God at home, in church, and outside-anywhere. I have multiple Bibles and don’t fear for my safety when I say I am a Christian on Facebook. Soldiers and police don’t walk in my house and arrest me.

My children will grow up with all the hope in the world. They have so many advantages they wouldn’t have in other countries. They are free to find out who they are meant to be while getting an education. They can play outside and discover all the beauty that was created for them.

My husband has a good job with insurance. We live in a country with a good middle class where we aren’t forced into extremes of poverty or riches. Because of his job, I am able to pursue passions of writing and helping others.

In the US, we have freedom. We have independence from fear, persecution, illiteracy, and hunger. We are free to pursue the life we want. No, we don’t always achieve it, but no one is telling us we can’t. We are encouraged to dream big and be bold.

Nothing this side of heaven is perfect, but here in America, I believe it is as close as it could be.

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“O beautiful for spacious skies,
For amber waves of grain,
For purple mountain majesties
Above the fruited plain.
America! America! God shed His grace on thee,
And crown thy good with brotherhood
From sea to shining sea.”

“My country, ’tis of Thee,
Sweet Land of Liberty
Of thee I sing;
Land where my fathers died,
Land of the pilgrims’ pride,
From every mountain side
Let Freedom ring.”

“Oh, say, can you see, by the dawn’s early light,
What so proudly we hail’d at the twilight’s last gleaming?
Whose broad stripes and bright stars, thro’ the perilous fight,
O’er the ramparts we watch’d, were so gallantly streaming?
And the rocket’s red glare, the bombs bursting in air
Gave proof thro’ the night that our flag was still there.
Oh, say, does that Star-Spangled Banner yet wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave?”

As we honor our country this week, I ask you to think of all you have and be grateful. Happy Independence Day!

Linking with Holley Gerth

I Hate to Tell You Jesus Wasn’t Into Politics

The political climate here in the United States this year is uncomfortable on a good day. We are so polarized and family members don’t even want to speak to each other based on beliefs. That makes me very sad. What prompted this post though is people bringing Jesus into it. Y’all, Jesus was not a politician. He hung out with a few tax collectors, but that was as far as it went.

This week I read through all the words of Jesus that we have on record. Do you know what He spoke about? Not politics. He talked about love, faith, forgiveness, mercy, and humility. He talked about how a person, not a government, should act. On both sides of the spectrum, we tend to throw around the idea of Jesus and what He would say or do. We aim it at the other side instead of at ourselves. We act like Jesus would line up with our beliefs and condemn the other side. The truth is Jesus would not be a Democrat or a Republican. He knew that human political systems are flawed and stayed away. When people tried to trip Jesus up, He answered and pointed them to God.

When asked if it is right to pay taxes, Jesus answered, “Give back to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s.” (Matthew 22:21) He didn’t give a long and drawn out response about taxes but told them to pay it and also give back to God.

When Jesus was condemned and about to be crucified for no reason, Pilate asked Him if He realized he (Pilate) had power over Him. Jesus answered, “You would have no power over me if it were not given to you from above. Therefore the one who handed me over to you is guilty of a greater sin.” (John 19:11) Wow. He didn’t start a fight but pointed Pilate to God, even in His darkest moments.

Nowhere in the Bible does Jesus go off on a tangent and shout, “The government should be doing this! It shouldn’t be doing that!” He focused on what each individual can control-their own actions. No, I am not saying that Jesus would think our government is too big or involved, but I do think He would agree that we let the arguing distract and discourage us. We get lulled into thinking the country should be helping the less fortunate, when in reality it is up to us. We can each do more than we are. We can give more time and money to causes. We can reach out to those who need us and be paying attention to those needs instead of assuming the government should do it.

Jesus was born to be the Savior of the world, but He didn’t come to be in charge. He came to serve and to be a leader of servants instead of the leader of a nation or an army. If we want to be more like Jesus, can we please stop talking about it, and start serving alongside Him?

Linking with Holley Gerth