Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Control Versus Freedom

“We cannot control people. Goodness knows I wish we could, but we can’t. It doesn’t work. It will never work. And here’s the worst part: the insecurity that drove the desire in the first place only deepens with each failure.

...sooner or later all false gods get fired. Or tired.

The tricky part is that God blatantly instructs us in Scripture to help one another, so how do we know when help has morphed into a quest for control? The first clue is when the helper is the one doing all the work… why are there so many people who talk big talk about what they need to do but then won’t do what it takes? … at the end of the day, people do what they want to do… when we try to do God’s job, we get in God’s way.”

flower_2  This quote out of Beth Moore’s book “So Long Insecurity” is one that really hit home to me.

I was recently talking to a friend of mine about another mutual friend of ours. This particular friend that I was talking to was trying hard to understand ‘why’ – why our other friend seemed to be making the same mistakes over and over again, while seemingly aware of her actions and patterns.

It’s frustrating, being in a position when you can see where a person you care about is headed down a wrong road and you feel like you’ve said all you can say and short of physically removing them or stopping them from doing something they shouldn’t be doing, you have nothing left to do but watch. And not to belittle anyone’s problems, but I’m not even talking about seemingly minor decisions that are reversible, I’m talking about life-long decisions that you KNOW that you KNOW, are not good for a person, yet they insist on doing them, all the while acknowledging the truth behind all the warnings you’ve tried so carefully to say. I’ve been there. In fact, I’ve been there more than once – and it’s a very hard place to be. 

But I’ve learned. Learned the hard way in some instances, that I have an obligation to make my warnings – to put all my cards on the table – all of my concerns, the truth as I know it to be. But once I’ve done that, I offer my support and love and I let it go. Because it is true: at the end of the day, people do what they want to. Me trying to control them, change them or getting overly involved in a situation isn’t going to do either one of us any good, and actually it will probably cause us both harm. In my experience, I have seen more harm done (including enabling a person to make bad decisions) than good come from insisting to be a part of a person’s wrong decisions (all in the name of “love”).

My mom and sisters have often asked me about certain boundaries that I have set up for myself and how I maintain them, and I’ve thought about it a lot myself, because for a while, I didn’t know what boundaries were – I was a wreck I was controlling, independent, co-dependent, needy, guarded and afraid all at the same time. I could barely tell you from one minute until the next how I was feeling or what I might say. People often walked on egg shells around me. I got offended easily, angry even easier and was bitter and unforgiving towards many people in my life. To put it nicely I was wounded, to put it plainly I was living in sin.

Then one day it all changed. I can’t tell you why or how exactly but I can tell you this – it felt almost instantaneous. As though a wall was broken down or a veil was lifted. I’m not referring to salvation, I was already a Christian, what I’m talking about is healing. I started a journey.

In the past I had never had a problem admitting I was damaged, or even talking about all my issues, but I never did anything about it, never took any real steps to change. But then one day I looked around and  decided, really decided I WANTED to be healed. I was willing to do whatever it took, even give up all my excuses of being damaged to get out of the pit that I was in. It was after this that the Lord was finally able to take a hold of my heart, When I decided I was ready to lose the control, He was able to step in. That was when my life changed.

Since then I have set up boundaries, not always because I wanted to, but because I needed to. Even though I was trying to control people and situations because I thought it would help me get hurt less, being controlling actually hurt me more. It left me exhausted a lot of the time, and on top of that, every time I failed (which happens often when we are trying to control people), I would end up with more wounds and disappointments. I was a self-fulfilling prophecy. I was so afraid of people not liking me or leaving me, and I would control them and “need them” to the point that I would drive them away, which would just reinforce the issues I had in the first place.

I have a lot to learn, and I can’t say that I don’t still try to control many situations in my life, especially ones that involve my kids, but I can say I now have boundaries – and not because I am mean or because I don’t care about people in my life (like this friend of mine) but because I’ve learned that after I’ve made my peace, and said what I feel like the Lord would have me say (which is the truth), I must back off – for the both of us, but mostly for myself, and my family. This is not a selfish thing, this is a healthy thing.

And while this is extremely hard to do, speaking from experience, it gets easier, and what’s even better is that it works!

Since I have set up boundaries in my own life, many of the same people I was trying to control have actually come to me asking me for my opinion and advice on areas in their life. Many of them refer to a confidence and wisdom they see in my life that they want for themselves. And while I don’t feel wise or confident, I do feel different, I feel like I’m healing and I feel blessed, I feel at peace and I feel like through the ups and downs of life I’m taken care of and loved.

For those of you who haven’t experienced much pain or held on to deep wounds for years (or even most of) your life, this might not make much sense to you, and that’s okay – in fact that’s great. But for me, a person who just the other day told her husband “When I was a little girl, my best dream of my future paled in comparison to the life that I have now,” that feeling is everything. 

My life isn’t perfect, I still experience pain, often, actually. But  I’m not bitter any more, and I try not to be so controlling, which brings me peace and I’m growing, which is where I want to be.

** While this post is not a review, I do want to recommend Beth Moore’s book ‘So Long Insecurity” for any woman who may struggle with any of the issues I mentioned in this post – I thoroughly enjoyed reading it, and while it is a little wordy (I mean it is Beth Moore), I got a lot out of it.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Review: Love is a Flame

image

Love is A Flame compiled by James Stuart Bell

A compilation of real-life short stories on the topic of marriage struggles and overcoming. Each story is about 4-5 pages in length, followed by a small “application” paragraph of what one could/should take away from that couple’s story/example.

This book has the potential to be an inspiration, giving hope to couples who may have all but given up. Reminding us that our God is a Hope to the hopeless, and that no situation or relationship is beyond his reach.

Real-life couples giving practical advice based on their own experiences is something I think would be useful for couples in similar situations.

This book is an easy read because of the simple and short chapters with it’s narrative style.

And while one can hardly argue with one couples tactics  over another’s and their approach on their marriage, that worked, it’s nice to have the variety in stories and personalities to offset any misunderstandings or difference of opinion one may have.

I truly believe in the power of mentors in ones life, and while the couples in these stories may not be actual friends, the same lessons can be passed on through this book.

Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of this book from Bethany Publishers in exchange for my unbiased review. The opinions expressed are my own.

Photoshop

So I’ve been slowly learning more and more about photoshop.

Check out what I did today:

Original

IMG_0180Altered:

IMG_0180_2  Altered More:

IMG_0180_1 So what do you think?

Sunday, July 25, 2010

7 Years: Full of Memories

7 years ago tomorrow, I married my best friend.

7 Years

7 years… I hear that there is a “7 year itch”, I don’t really get it. Now don’t get me wrong, I don’t think I’ve been married so long that I know it all or anything like that, in fact I know that’s not even close to true, but when I think about all that we’ve been through together in just the past 7 years, and how far we’ve come; it only reminds me of how much further I want to go with this man, my partner, my best friend, my husband. IMG_0006_1

The last 7 years have easily been the best 7 years of my life, and while I’ve experienced more pain and more loss in the past 7 years than I did the entire 19 prior to it, walking through it with my man by my side and God with us, has been an incredibly journey.

I am blown away at even the thought that there is more to come so much more! More joy, more pain, more laughter and crying. More growth. More mistakes. More compromise. Forgiveness, mercy and grace. I can’t hardly wait!

To think that we are in the beginning part of our story, the first 7 years – it’s only a chapter (maybe 2) of our story. The memories that we have made together are a part of us now – they have shaped us and changed us.

IMG_0015 I can’t help but think back….

I remember our honeymoon. We went to Hawaii for 10 days – it was awesome, and we swore we would go back after we had been married 5 years (instead we gave birth to our second child that year, so needless to say) it didn’t happen.

I think about starting our careers, after college, the friends we made. Or about our first apartment, and how we lived between a garage without electricity and Tim’s parents house for a month in between apartment leases. I remember our first home – and how Tim bought it without me ever even seeing it (it was PERFECT by the way).

IMG_0014 I vividly recall some of our first arguments, mostly about our family’s, and the struggles every newly married couple faces as they try to combine and mesh two very different family backgrounds into a functional family of their own – a challenge for sure, but we managed to do it without too many scars.

IMG_0022I remember the INCREDIBLE vacation we took to Mexico together – one of the most relaxing weeks of my life.

IMG_0024I remember finding out we were pregnant with our first child, and how Tim insisted on holding the stick while I peed on it, because he wasn’t sure I was doing it right and how it was so important to him that we found out at the EXACT same time. I remember the double take we both did when we saw TWO lines!! 

IMG_0028Our church, man, we miss that church. The church and friends who helped change/correct our view of God and the year of healing and transformation that took place after that.

TreytonThe birth of our firstborn – a son! Treyton James. The entire thing (pregnancy, birth, bringing him home) was so…. surreal!! We were both so in love and so taken by this little 8 pound creature that added a dynamic to our family that we never really expected and has never really stopped ;)

Then I think about how three years into our marriage everything seemed to change at a rapid pace. Tim quit his job in insurance, which we both loved, to fulfill his dream to run his own business. We moved in March of 2006. Two hours away from most of our family and friends. I was excited to go, we both were, and neither of us have really regretted our decision, but it wasn’t easy. Especially for a new mom whose husband was about to start working 60 hour weeks.

In the months following our move, one of my closest friends from high school passed away, we found out that I had Asherman’s (which was a fertility issue) and I suffered with depression for nearly a year. Tim stepped up in a major way, and though this was by far the hardest year of our marriage, I had never loved him more, and I needed him then more than ever and he certainly showed me in many tangible ways how much he loved me.

Chicago NY2

2007 brought us more joy. I got things back on track with God and we began to see His hand in our life in ways that we had never seen before. In a miraculous way, God fixed our fertility issues, I recovered from my depression, and we took an adventurous week long trip to New York City, just the two of us and in October we found out we were expecting our second child. Individually our walks with God transformed and grew everyday, and as a result so did our family’s. 

Alexa Natalee The birth of our second born daughter, Alexa Natalee, was such a joyous and miraculous occasion, and while it was completely different than having a child for the first time, she brought with her something that Treyton couldn’t have. Her life renewed our hope and gave us peace that we hadn’t experienced in a really long time.

rehearsal 2008

nove 08For a few months we lived in a bubble of bliss, counting our blessings every day – and during this time God began to prepare our hearts for an unimaginable season of loss and pain.

I think back to a Wednesday night in November of 2008, Lexa was 3 months old, Tim was carrying her down the stairs and slipped. They fell together more than halfway down our stairs. While neither of them were hurt badly (Lexie not at all), we ended up taking Alexa to the Emergency Room after she became nearly unresponsive. Luckily it was only her body’s reaction to the  rush of adrenaline in her system, and it was completely harmless and minor. But I cannot describe to you how that relatively minor fall changed my life and prepared me for something that only God could. The next day (it was a Thursday), I was on my face for much of the day before God – my heart had been changed – my need for God I once again realized and I was desperate for Him. He poured into me.

A week later, our precious, beloved nephew, Trent went to be with Jesus at 2 1/2 years old.

During this time Tim and I mourned. Together. Separately. As a family. And with our extended family. God held us closer during this time than I think we’ve ever been held before or since. Our marriage changed, our family changed, we experienced a loss, a real loss that can never be replaced. But God reminded us daily, He is good, and we believed Him.

epcot 2009 came and with it a few more changes. We moved into a new house. One closer to Tim’s work, out in the country (our dream) and with a large yard. Life was great, for about a week.

house March 20th, 2009 – Tim smashed his hand at work and nearly cut off his pinky and ring finger on his left hand. God worked miracle after miracle that day and the days following for our family, and we were once again left sitting just thanking Him for giving us another day together. That summer was filled with appointments, physical therapy and recovery for Tim.

hand In July we found out we were expecting precious miracle #3. A rough pregnancy, but we made it through and in March of 2010 we welcomed Audrey Ann into our family. The perfect addition, though an adjustment at first (on the part of the parents), Audrey has not brought more work upon us, but more joy. Being the easiest happiest baby, yet, we are often left wondering what to do with her ;)

Family Photo 1 The truth is, even as I type this out, this short memoir is only a partial reflection of God’s goodness in our life the last 7 years.

We have a great marriage, an incredible family and we’re happy. Truly happy. But I hope that it’s obvious that it’s not because of us – our story, our lives have been directed, protected and served by the hand of God.

7 Years Family_B&WThe last 7 years have been a journey of a couple that individually were headed no where, but together God managed to change and make something from nothing.

So to you, Tim, I just want to say, you complete me, you changed my life. My dreams have been fulfilled because you were in them. I still can’t believe you chose me, but I am so very glad that you did.

Thank you for being my best friend, my partner, the other person in my memories. Thank you for being my head, and for making it so easy to respect you – I will follow you anywhere. I look forward to the next 70 years by your side making even more memories.

I love you.

 

*** Sorry about the quality of some of the pictures, they are pictures of pictures.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Treytonism: Seeing Jesus

Bike My beloved grandpa passed away two months ago. In the process of grieving for our loss and planning his funeral which we then attended, Treyton and I had several new conversations about death, heaven and God.

I was able to tell him with certainty that grandpa was in heaven with Jesus. He was interested in the concept and asked lots of questions at one point he said “So now we know three persons that are in heaven with Jesus.”

“Three?” I asked – he was obviously referring to my grandpa and his cousin Trent, but I wasn’t sure who his third was. “Which three people do we know?”

“Trent, Grandpa and Chaus…. you know the dog that used to be by mommer’s house?”

Chaus was Mommer’s neighbor’s dog that died a while ago, but that Treyton had fallen in love with. He loved to play catch with him and when we would pull up he would say “Chaus!!”

 

A couple of weeks after my grandpa died Treyton started playing a new game with himself – which he called “playing dead”. He would lay really still under a blanket for 10-20 minutes at a time (this is a REALLY long time for him to be still).

I have asked him about it several times, because I was concerned about his process of thinking and what motives he had for wanting to “play dead”.

Today, I asked him again and he came over to me and said “I’ll tell you a secret.”

I said “Okay…” trying to prepare myself for what he might say.

He said “I don’t want to really die, and go to heaven, but I want to see Jesus.”

“So that’s why you play dead, to try to see Jesus?” I asked

“Yeah”

 

Wow… that never even crossed my mind… I’m actually speechless.

Friday, July 23, 2010

CSN Stores

CSN contacted me to host another review and giveaway on my blog!! I am so exited, to be working with them again!! I already know what I’m going to be getting with my $25 gift certificate.

Well, why don’t we have a little fun with this giveaway and you all guess what I’m going to get?!?!

Okay, probably not the best idea, seeing as how they have over 200 stores and carry everything from LED Lighting to pots and pans to education toys!!

So I guess what we’ll do instead is have you tell me what you would get with a $25 gift certificate (which is what you will win if you won)!!

To get you started you could visit some of my favorite sites toys and games online and cookware.com. 

Giveaway Details:

1. Mandatory entry (1 entry): just leave a comment telling me what you would get from CSN.

Additional Entries:

2. Become a follower or subscriber of my blog (2 entries)

3. Blog about this giveaway (3 entries) linking to this giveaway.

4. Add my button to your site (2 entries)

Your comment is your entry, so leave a comment on the blog for each entry (not on facebook). The giveaway is open for U.S. shipping only. The winner will be chosen using random.org (so friends and family can enter) and will be contacted by email, so be sure to leave your email address. This giveaway will end 10:00pm (CST) August 7th. The winner will be given 48 hours to get back to me or another winner will be chosen.

Thanks to CSN for this opportunity

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Review: Snikiddy Cheddar Fries

“Snikiddy® is a brand of great tasting snacks made from simple, wholesome and real ingredients. They are a healthy snacking alternative for toddlers, kids, and adults. Snikiddy Snacks put a smile on everyone’s faces.”

A healthy, tasty alternative to typical fried snacks like potato chips, making them a favorite for families seeking healthy snack options-

  • All Natural
  • Gluten-free
  • Wheat-free
  • No corn syrup
  • Peanut-free
  • No preservatives
  • No trans fats
  • No hydrogenated oils
  • 50% less fat than potato chips

Price: 4.5 oz. bag for $1.79

REVIEW

sn_fries_cheddar_pdp_lowres-130x190 Being a somewhat healthy and food conscience family, we are always on the lookout for some wholesome, good for you, taste good snacks. So when I was given the opportunity to review the Snikiddy Cheddar Cheese fries I was excited.

The fries, are actually made with potato flakes, giving it a similar texture of a funyun, which I liked. But, the taste was only okay for me. The fry tasted like fake cheese, and left a taste in my mouth. 

I decided I needed a little backup in the taste-testing department so everyone in the family (except Audrey) got a sample tasting.

Treyton said, “Are these good for you? They taste good for you.” and then he asked for some more.

Lexie loved them (though she only had one because of the cheese), she wanted more.

Tim, in his deepest thought voice said “They’re okay.”

I actually think the fry itself is pretty good, my problem may be with the seasoning, so maybe a different flavor? It’s hard to say. I wouldn’t rate it as the worst wholesome food I’ve eaten (far from it), but they’re not my favorite either.

MORE INFORMATION

To learn more about Snikiddy, the available products and deals visit the following:

http://snikiddy.com/

http://snikiddy.alice.com/

http://twitter.com/snikiddy

http://www.facebook.com/Snikiddy?v=wall

Keywords: Snikiddy

Other Info: Sweepstakes at Facebook.com/Snikiddy.  Fill out the sweeps tab to enter for a chance to win the weekly drawing for a Snikiddy gift basket or the grand prize- a Jamis kids' bike.

Buy Snikiddy sharing packs at Snikiddy.Alice.com and get $1 off, plus FREE shipping.

I received a complimentary sample of this product for review purposes through mamabzz. The opinions are my own.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Mud Puddle

We went for a walk today and along the way we found a mud puddle…. IMG_0141 …which provided nearly an hour of fun for me and the kids (and would have lasted longer if we didn’t have to go to an appointment).

IMG_0158

And though we concentrated…. ALOT…

IMG_0152 … we tried something new and we were proud of ourselves…

IMG_0165 …. because we weren’t afraid to get down….

IMG_0177  …. and get dirty….

IMG_0174 IMG_0175 …. because getting our feet dirty meant a whole lot of smiles for everyone!

IMG_0180

It was a good day.

IMG_0187

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Alexaism: A Time to Cry

Alexa's Bee This morning Lexie woke up and right away said she needed to go potty. She sat on the potty for a while but didn’t go (this happens). I asked her if she wanted to get off, she said ‘no’ I walked off. Treyton did not, soon enough they started fighting. Treyton wanted Alexa to get off the potty, Alexa didn’t want to.

I came back in, broke up the fight, and a little while later Lexie got off the potty all on her own.

She was still pretty upset about the whole thing (not being able to pee, fighting for a seat on the pot, etc.) and she said to me.

“I wa ci”

“What?” I asked “You want Skye?”

“No, I wa cwy”

“You want to cry?”

“Yeah!! My eyes.” She says as she points to her eyes.

“It’s okay if you want to cry honey, you take a minute, cry if you need to.”

“K” she said and she gave me a hug.

 

Like I’ve said too many times before to count…. she is her mama’s daughter!

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

No Training Wheels

July 13th, 2010 – a day that will go down in history for Treyton and his Big Daddy.

Tonight after dinner Tim and Treyton after having a few races, decided it was time to remove the training wheels off of Treyton’s bike.

Here is a video one of his first times ever without training wheels. Tim said he caught on right away – with no problems at all!!

If you hear Tim’s voice, you can tell how proud he is, this is such a big deal for the two of them. Even now as I am typing this Tim is telling Treyton how proud he is of him.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Lexie’s Party 7.11.10

We had Lexa’s birthday party this past weekend.

As our families grow so do the number of kids at our parties. We now have a bunch of cousins, which make for both busy and exciting parties!!

IMG_0029

We actually had 6 babies under the age of 8 months in attendance! (and only one of them was a friend and not family!

IMG_0014We truly feel blessed that most of our family travels 2 hours to make it to our birthday parties.

Lexie’s birthday party theme was Veggie Tales.

IMG_0073

Our immediate family were the primary decorations. I decided instead of buying a bunch of veggie tales plates, cups and wall decor – that our family could be the veggie tale theme. I bought us each a different shirt which we wore that day.

IMG_0051I bought a Veggie Tales cake pan off of e-bay for $10 which my mother in law baked and decorated – it turned out beautifully – it was actually hard to cut it up :(

IMG_0057 We served tacos, veggies and fruit. Easy but definitely a family favorite!!

IMG_0122 We feel so blessed to be surrounded by such great friends and family who support us and our children – thank all of you who took the time to make Alexa’s birthday so special.

IMG_0084

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Alexaism: Happy

All day on Lexie’s birthday she would say “I happy” meaning it was her birthday… because of the happy birthday song. So instead of saying it was her birthday she would say “I happy”. When people asked how she was she would hold up her two fingers and say “two” – I guess she misunderstood the question.

IMG_0169 

Then, this morning, Dad was “falling” on top of the kids on the bed, he decided to fall on top of Lamby, too. As he went to “timber”, Lexa was trying to save Lamby, she yelled at dad and as soon as he got off of her, she grabbed lamby started bouncing with her and saying “sshh, sshh, sshh”. I ran and got the camera while she was still doing it.

What a great little mommy!

Saturday, July 10, 2010

CSN Review: Plasma Car

A while ago I promised you that I was going to be reviewing a product from one of CSNs 200 online stores.

I was so excited that as I was shopping their stores I came across this:

plasma car A Plasma Car. I had seen these on different blogs before and the kids played with them at our local children’s museum and I had wanted one, but never really thought too much about it, until I actually had the chance to get one and then I was definitely SOLD!

I ordered it right away and have been storing it for several weeks waiting for my daughter’s birthday. The night before her birthday Tim and I sat down to assemble the car, and we were pleasantly surprised by how easy it was with minimal assembly.

Thursday morning, Tim brought out the Plasma car from the bedroom for Alexa – she was super pumped (almost as much as our son Treyton was). Since then, it seems like one of the two kids has been on it constantly!

IMG_0141 

We’ve used it inside and outside, fast and slow, with one rider or two, big people and little people! IMG_0145

This car is versatile, unique and fun.

IMG_0177 I can’t recommend it enough!

Though we’ve only used it for a few days I don’t see it going anywhere anytime soon.

To get your own, visit here at the Toys and Games branch of the CSN Stores. It retails for $64.95 and CSN is offering free shipping on it.

Product Description:

It's like magic, but you don't need to be a magician to get it to work. The PlasmaCar in Green is a mechanical marvel that makes use of that most inexhaustible of energy sources, kid-power. It's so easy to operate; all it needs is a driver and a smooth, flat surface. For starters, it doesn't require an expensive power source that needs constant replacement. It's quiet too - the only sound you'll hear is the sound of its wheels. It provides kids with plenty of exercise and the PlasmaCar is engineered to be absolutely safe when used appropriately. It's been extensively tested, and meets or exceeds all significant international safety standards.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Happy Birthday Alexa!

Happy 2nd Birthday Alexa!! 

IMG_0140When I think about you, I have no words – my heart swells and a big smile comes across my face. I can’t help it. You bring me pure joy.  A miracle, from the beginning, and from the moment I knew you were no longer just a dream but a reality you brought me joy and helped give me the peace and hope that I had lost.

I hope you have not only a wonderful day but a wonderful year as well!! You deserve it!! IMG_0110

I love that you remind me of me, we are both second born daughters and I think that gives us a special bond, though we are impossible to understand I “get” you and I can tell you “get” me too :)! It’s something that no one can (or should) spend too much time thinking about, because lets be honest, we’re too much!!

An independent nature for sure, you are one of the smartest most adorable 2 year olds I have ever met. You melt hearts. Even strangers can barely pass you by without cracking a smile or giving you a wink. You draw the attention of those around you and you bring a sparkle and smile wherever you go. This is a gift, daughter, cherish it and nurture it. Don’t let the world and worries squash that fun-loving nature I wish I had held onto a little longer.

IMG_0123 Thank you for making me laugh every day and reminding me that hugs are more important than laundry and chores. Thank you for the twinkle you brought to your Daddy’s eye, for making Treyton work for it and giving him the sister he needed, and for loving Audrey without question or doubt.

IMG_0105 You are an invaluable irreplaceable part of our family and being your mom has been the best gift in the world. I love you.

You are who you are, and I love that about you!!

Happy Birthday Baby,

Your Mom