Baptism

Today my oldest son was baptized. We honestly couldn’t have been more proud of him for this decision if we tried. Today in our services for Easter Sunday (April 16, 2017) 53 men, women, teenagers, and children (2nd grade and up) made the decision to publicly declare their faith and relationships with the ONE true God. Our church does an amazing job of celebrating this moment for the people who come forward. As they go into the baptismal we are on our feet, worshiping with the team (praise team, choir, orchestra, and the whole congregation), clapping to the music…and then as they come out of the water, we cheer. Loudly! We whoop and holler and clap and jump around. For this body of believers, we are rejoicing that this person, on this day, is telling the world that they have a Savior that has called them by name. Their name is written in the book. They have chosen to follow Christ and make him Lord of their life. Amen.

The services today were especially powerful because we were full to the brim with guests from near and far. We had family in town to support Blake in his decision as did all of the other people who were baptized. And….it was EASTER. This was the day that Jesus Christ rose from the dead and showed the world who He really was. He conquered death to pay the price for our sins. He paid a debt we could not possibly pay on our own. He offered His sinless life as a sacrifice so that we could someday be with him for eternity. As a follower of Christ, THIS is the day of all days. This day signifies the power, sacrifice, gift, and LOVE that God has for His people. He is RISEN!

But he’s not a baby….

But it also got me to thinking today….as I shared with others about Blake’s decision to be baptized, I was met with a few curious looks. I realize that a lot of our community believes that people are baptized as infants. This is simply what you do as parents when your baby is born and as soon as possible because it somehow *saves your baby. I will go as far to say that some believe that the infant’s baptism is indeed was actually SAVES their baby so that they spend eternity in heaven. This isn’t what I believe to be true. Let me explain….

In our family (Dan and I) when our babies are little, we choose to dedicate them. This looks similar to infant baptism in many ways. We dress them up in cute outfits (but they don’t have to be white), we gather family and friends to celebrate with us, we take the baby on stage, but there’s no water involved. As a family we stand up there and dedicate ourselves to the Christian upbringing of our child. The coolest part is that the congregation gets involved and THEY commit to supporting us in that effort. As we know….it takes a village to raise a child. Constant prayer support is one of those ways the village can help any parent.

We did this with our oldest child. We had no idea what we had gotten ourselves into and honestly, we had to learn on the job. Parenting is tough….but we want so much to raise our children to know the Lord. We want them to want it for themselves. Own their decisions. Faith in God is easy for kids though. There’s a reason the Bible talks about having faith like a child. For Blake, his faith came very easy. Honestly, sharing his faith with others has been pretty easy too. In 3rd grade he was bringing his Bible to school and reading it in his down time. He had friends from his class even join him! I thought sure we were going to get calls from the school or parents….but we didn’t. We have a pretty amazing community here. Blake asked Christ to be Lord of his life when he was 5 years old. Since then we’ve read a lot of Bible stories, said many prayers, gone to lots of church services….but the things that I think have been best for helping him in his walk have been things like helping out on service projects, serving meals to college students, attending VBS (and inviting people to join him)…the hands on things that create thoughtfulness and awareness on things other than ourselves.

Blake has been wanting to be baptized for a couple of years, but we asked him to wait. We wanted to make sure he was doing it for the right reasons and really understood what he was doing. We also wanted him to really own this for himself and not think he was checking a box or doing it for one of us. We really want him to know his own faith. His own relationship with Christ. I think he has that. I think he still has a long way to go….but don’t we all? I love this kid.

My Story

All of this leads me to my story….it’s similar to Blake’s actually. I was actually baptized as an infant although my parents didn’t believe that I was saved at that point. It’s just what the church did for babies at the time. I came to know Christ in a 5 day club when I was 5 years old. I remember because there was an altar call every day and I raised my hand to ask Jesus into my heart every day. The people who led the group (Doug & Sue Bernstein) told me that I didn’t HAVE to come back every day. That it “worked” the first time. Ha ha. But I just wanted to make sure I did it “right”. I just knew that I wanted what they described and I would do whatever it took to have that. Then I remember being in summer camp at 11 or 12 years old. I remember it was a particularly powerful message given that night and EVERYONE at camp felt the presence of the Holy Spirit there that night. I know that sounds  a little silly to some of you, but it’s a powerful feeling to almost physically feel like a presence is in the room with you. That night I rededicated and confirmed my faith in God. I wanted so much to do the right things and follow Him in whatever path he wanted me to choose.

I chose to be baptized when I was 12 years old. I did it with a couple of friends from church and we went to a church in town that had a baptismal. We shared our testimonies, we got dunked, and we had a little gathering afterwards in church basement. Sound familiar to anyone?

After that I was active in my church youth group and another youth group in town. I went to all the church things, bible studies, camps, etc that I could. My search for knowing and doing right was a constant thing. So much so that I know that I really irritated some people in school with my “right-ness”. In fact, one of the things I regret most is how my being “right” may have turned people away from the Lord back then. I wasn’t very compassionate or understanding. Probably not a great listener either. I knew what I knew and you couldn’t argue with me (which I see in my kids now….ugh). I wish I would have offered more grace. Peer pressure was strong in our little town and my goal was to just stay out of trouble, in every sense of the word.

Success was a big drive for me. Success in school. Friendships. Faith. Family. I’ve always had a strong drive to be the best at whatever I put my mind to. I still struggle with this…sometimes I put too much of my own efforts into whatever I’m doing and don’t let God take the reins. That often gets me in trouble.

Parenting. Marriage. Relationships….lately I’ve had to learn that I can’t do everything on my own. I can’t rely on my own strengths to succeed. I HAVE to trust in God to cover what I can’t manage on my own. I do EVERYTHING I can and have to trust that God has the rest covered. For example, my kids faith. Their attitudes. The way they’ll be when they’re adults. It’s so hard! And scary! Especially now that we have an adolescent in the house (Lord, help me).

The real reason for this blog…

I think I started rambling in there a little bit. Here’s the point….what I believe is that God calls you to himself. You just have to be listening and answer that call. God made you. He wants you. He wants to know you and be known. He wants to LOVE you and wash you clean. There is NOTHING too bad for God’s grace and forgiveness. Nothing. All you have to do is confess that you are a sinner. That you can’t save yourself. Ask Him to forgive you. Ask him to be Lord of your life. That’s it you guys. It’s really that simple. Once you’ve made this decision we need to really follow Him. The way you do that is by getting to know Him….through reading your Bible, attending a church service to be in fellowship with other believers. Consider joining a small group at your church – this is awesome for accountability and growing your knowledge of God.

Seriously, I would love to answer any questions you have. This God….the One I know….He’s kind of amazing. The hope, love, forgiveness, grace, and truth is no joke. I’ve known Him for a long time and I still have a lot to learn. I love Him and He loves me.

“O Praise the one who paid my debt
And raised this life up from the dead”

Church Service

The whole Sunday service was amazing today. I’d love to invite you to join us any Sunday! We’re at Bethel Church in Fargo (2702 30th Ave S Fargo ND). Services are at 9 a.m. and 10:45 a.m. Join us anytime!! If you’d like to check out the services from this Sunday here’s the video.

 

*saves indicates that the person is a Christian saved by grace through Christ and will enter into eternal life in heaven with God

Being Nice

I think I’m a nice person. I smile. I might give a little nod when I see someone I know. I often go out of my way to say “hello”!

But sometimes I find myself in situations where I think THEY should be the one to initiate the “smile” or the “nod”. Why do I do that? I don’t want them to think I’m strange or “too much” so I just play it cool and wait for them to come to me. Sometimes I think I do that with my kid’s friends. I don’t want them to feel awkward so I wait for them to acknowledge me in some way before I acknowledge them.

Recently though, I’ve been thinking. When I’m in a group of people, large or small, I ALWAYS appreciate that person that goes out of their way to smile at me, crosses the room to say hello, and genuinely asks me what’s up. THOSE people are my favorite. You know the one….you feel like you matter to them every time you see them. They make you feel cool to be you. They might be like that with every person in their life, but because they really care, it shows.

I want to be that person.

I want to be the one who initiates the smile. Does more than nod. I want every person I come into contact with to know I care. Truly. Because I really do. I don’t like this game of playing it quiet or cool. That’s just not my style.

Image found on google and pinterest. I do not own it. I want the kids that come into my house or see me in the hallway at school to know that there’s a grown up that maybe doesn’t really know me that well, but they smile at me when they see me. They know me, even just a little bit. They go out of their way to brighten my day.

I want people to see the light that’s inside of me….the light that comes from my faith in Christ. I want people to see the love of Jesus in every interaction that I have with people. I want people to wonder why I’m always so happy. And not in a fake way, but a true and authentic way that can only come from one place. God the Father!

Please Lord, let my light shine. Let others see YOU in me. Let them want more of you when they see the joy in me.

 

 

So tonight I challenge you.

Smile MORE! People might wonder what you’re up to…

This Old House…

Almost 2 years ago now….I had to say good bye to my family home. The home that my family built in 1976 (before I was born). I was born into this home, lived there for 19 years, and then moved on. Lots of firsts happened there and countless memories. There’s so much that could be said, but I thought it would be fun to relive some of the quirky things about the home through a collections of pictures.

1540307_10153284585443552_3564883695348554192_o

Here’s my house probably around 1982-1983. Located 7 miles west of Langdon on the south side of the highway. For the longest time, it was this bright bright blue color. I loved it. Before that it was kind of a peach color. My family didn’t care so much about what color the house was, but that the paint was affordable. So….blue it became and I think it sort of became a landmark to many driving west. Every year my mom would plan petunias in that brick flower bed. She liked them because they were hardy and lasted a long time through the summer. That flower bed in the very front never seemed to grow anything very well so it wasn’t for anything special.

This is the crib I slept in and probably all my other siblings, cousins, and kids that stayed at our house for 40 years. Yes, my parents still had it. Pretty sure it was illegal by now, but somehow we all survived.

20141116_11211420141116_11205420141116_1120481107141028

See this chair?

20141115_135516

This chair is way older than me. I have no idea who it belonged to or where it came from, but I would bet that my mom could tell you! Anyway, once upon a time, many Christmas’ ago, I puked in this chair. I was probably 5 and I had never EVER thrown up before. I had no idea what had just happened! I knew I wasn’t feeling great so I went and sat in this chair to take a break and then….blaaaahhhh. Right in the chair. Then I ran to the bathroom where my cousin, Scott, was sitting on the toilet that I had hoped to use. I yelled at him to get up, but for some reason he couldn’t. 😉 So I proceeded to use the sink for the rest of my puke fest. I don’t remember what happened after that, but it must have gotten cleaned up and all was well with the world because we had this chair until the house sold. 🙂 They don’t make chairs this solid anymore. I also read and listened to a lot of “The Lone Ranger” books while sitting in this chair. It was placed right next to our tape/record player and made a cozy spot to curl up and read right in front of that large picture window that faced the south side of our yard.20141115_135102

 

 

This old light hung above that chair. This isn’t a great picture of it, but you get the idea.

The pool table.

Oh the stories we could tell about this old thing. First of all, it weighs a ton. Probably literally (or at least close). My parents got a good deal on it and when they were building the house, moved it into the basement. The problem was…..it didn’t fit down the stairs!! So stuck in the middle going down, they had to cut a hole in the wall to get it down. That hole provided a great little window to visit while sitting on the stairs and in all honesty, I thought it was meant to be that way for the longest time. Kids would often stick stuff down the holes and we’d have to get inventive on how to get the stuff out. Also, that front door where the balls are held would fall off when you’d jiggle it too hard. Always created some exciting times when people didn’t know that would happen.  They thought they’d broken it!! Sometimes we’d let them think that too. The wood paneled walls were just a smidge too close to the table so you couldn’t really get a full shot at some angles. You had to get very creative in how to hit those balls…..made for some pretty good pool players back in the day.

20141109_090919

 

20141116_105930

20141116_105959

20141116_105949

Here’s that hole….and our crazy carpet.

Remember folks….this house was built in 1976 and this may not have been the most wild carpet in the house.

20141116_110144

20141116_110129

20141115_153416

 

See this post.

There’s a funny story involving this post. Back in the day, my cousins and I liked to hang out in the basement. We played a lot of games including “Blind Man’s Bluff”. For those of you who don’t know this game, it’s basically tag, but the person that’s “it” is blind folded. Once upon a time, there was a chair right in front of this post. This was sort of to protect the “it” person from bonking into the post, but also for extra seating. 🙂

So what happened was this: My cousin, Scott, was it. He was tagging people left and right, but this one time he lunged forward for someone he heard and it just so happened that his knee hit that chair in front of the post, his arms went on both sides of the post, and WHAM!!! His head hit the post so hard, he bounced backwards, onto the floor, and laid there for a few minutes seeing stars! Poor guy….I think he about knocked himself out! We all laughed and then got worried, but then laughed again when we found out he was ok. Man…..none of us will ever forget this incident. In fact, I saw Scott in April and he asked if I remembered when he almost knocked himself out on that post in my basement. Yup….not going to forget that one ever.

Raise your hand if you grew up and had some sort of “store room”….We had TWO!

20141116_110158
20141109_13375120141109_133744

20141116_110111 20141109_133834The pictures you see here are of empty rooms, but imagine these rooms filled with stuff, from stop to bottom, front to back, and everywhere in between. That’s what they once were.

The one with green carpet held all kinds of treasures. Bed frames, mattresses, dressers, relatives old discarded clothing, antiques, every school paper/project us 4 kids ever did (well most of them anyway), chairs, desks, wigs, hats, a couple of Ataris, Erector sets, a doll house, old dolls, and on and on and on. We never needed to shop for Halloween costumes or any kind of costume….we’d just go down to this room and “shop”. You could usually find something that would work in here. Many a lazy day, my friends and I would adventure in here and come up wearing all kinds of goofy get ups.

The other one with grey block walls, was our “cellar. Every single one of those shelves were filled with home made canned goods all through my growing up years. Sometimes 2-3 jars deep. Corn, beans (yellow and green), beets, salsa, tomatoes, jellies, pickled peaches…. everything you could grow in a garden in Northeast ND. That’s what we had in there. We had a GIANT garden and my mom would spend many hours slaving over a hot stove in our hot farm house (with no kind of air conditioning) in the fall to save up for the year. I always joked that we could have fed an army at a moments notice with all the goods we had down there…and I still think we could have. That counter top with the sink hole….that’s where we kept our potatoes. In the fall it would be full to the top. Since it was cool and dark down there, the potatoes would stay pretty good throughout the winter. They’d grow “eyes” that were kind of creepy, but they still worked for feeding our family. Oh and that’s also where my dad made his own shot gun shells right next to it. Ha!
The room with white walls….well imagine that’s it’s 1999 and you might be slightly concerned that the world as we know it will end in 2000. Well this is where you might store extra everything….just in case. Again….full. We would have been just fine if the world ended that winter.

Some of the things we found in the storage rooms

20141109_09300420141115_15354720141115_15345220141115_15370320141115_15364320141116_100749
20141116_100020110714124020141116_10010320141115_15375220141109_09474420141109_09463220141109_09442920141109_09414420141109_09334120141108_08334920141108_083559

1107141238a

 

Yes, there were two dead mice in these pictures….You’re welcome.

The bathroom that never really worked….

20141109_13391920141109_133905At some point in the history of this house, this bathroom worked. It was the one in our basement, right next to the pool table. The toilet worked….I even remember using the shower once. But at some point, maybe due to the crazy wall paper or the pink paint (again we didn’t care about color….just affordability) the bathroom gave up. Everything stopped working. I remember sitting in there as a kid and looking at this wall paper sort of mesmerized. I think it was sort of like reading a magazine, without the magazine.

There was a time that a litter box and cat things were kept in this room. Someone at least had a functional bathroom!

Then after the cat was gone it became the room where we stored empty boxes. We kept those….from everything. Just in case. At one point it was FILLED to the ceiling with boxes. Never needed to buy boxes for Christmas packages or shipping items anywhere….

I have no idea where that fancy looking flooring came from. I think it was some sort of crazy linoleum when I was growing up, but I honestly can’t remember now. Shoot.

The rest of the basement…

20141115_15330120141115_15335020141115_153406

In addition to the large storage rooms, the bathroom that never really worked, and the pool table, we had 2 bedrooms, a tv area, and a nook/ library/ office/ work out area. Back in the day, this floor had carpet on it. It was very 70s carpet, but it was carpet. Several years back now, the washing machine overflowed and caused some water damage which forced the removal of said carpet and some of the flooring, but picture this. In the corner by the window was our tv space. We didn’t have cable, but we DID have an antenna. That device hanging from the wall…..that’s the thing we could use to change the direction of the antenna to see if we could get the channels to come in better. Somehow it was connected to the thing on top of our roof and would actually turn it! Amazing, right! I think on a good day we could get channel 8 (ABC), 12 (NBC), or maybe 13 (PBS). I remember doing lots of exciting work out videos in this space with my goofy friends and as a kid I watched Mr. Rogers. We had some very retro furniture down here too. Some day maybe I’ll find those pictures and share.

The library…

20141115_153337

Tucked away underneath the basement stairs was this magical closet. Genius use of space in my opinion. You see, my family liked books. And encyclopedias. In fact, my mom sold Encyclopedias for awhile. So we had lots of them. You may have found them and many many more books tucked away in this wonderful space. It had doors that closed that were the same paneling and you wouldn’t even know it was there if someone didn’t tell you….

 

 

Downstairs bedrooms

How do you like them curtains….yeah buddy.

20141109_095802

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

How about that orange carpet. That’s my sister going through all her “text messages” aka “notes” from her school years. What a blast from the past that was!

20141109_100725

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And the personalized window. Pretty sure some of my siblings snuck out through that window. Not me….just them. Seriously!20141109_135902

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Upstairs bedrooms

20141109_090105

Once I graduated from the crib, that was in my parents room, this is the room AND the bed that moved to. The walls used to be a bright blue on the bottom and some very patriotic wall paper on top. When I was in high school I ATTEMPTED to paint the bottom burgandy and the top a sponged grey….but guess what….grey is hard to mix and often looks purple. And since we don’t spend money on paint….it stayed burgandy and purple. Uffda….The red curtains are original. And if you could see the floor, it’s still very blue.20141109_090046

11071410141107141010

 

 

 

In 1976 when this home was built, this was my sister’s room. At 4 years old she got to pick everything out. Rose carpet and all. What you don’t see here is the wallpaper that used to live here. Little pink ballerinas….. everywhere! When I was old enough to live in this room I could only handle the ballerinas for so long before they had to go and I replaced it with blue. Here enters my blue stage. I loved blue. Everything blue. I might have gone a little overboard. In the picture 20141115_135335with me on the floor I may have been channeling a 1107141009amovie….can you guess which one?

 

 

 

 

 
20141109_090136

I didn’t get a good shot of my parents room, but I did take a picture of their light fixture. Yep….fancy chandelier. That might be so old it’s coming back into fashion!!

The end….for now.

Oh my goodness….I’ve spent a lot of time writing this today and I have so much more to do! So I’m going to leave off today with this little gem. We often had little signs around our house to remember who we are or who holds tomorrow or that God wasn’t finished with us yet….and that our rooms might have been messy….:) I’ll return another day to finish this up. I hope you enjoyed a little taste of what our farm was like! Until next time….

20141115_135422

To my dear friends…

There are days that I reflect back on the time we once had to talk on the phone, hang out, drop everything for a dinner out, watching a movie, or night on the town. We both had time for that. We both could stop everything without interruptions for each other. Not for anything planned, scheduled, or super important, but just because we wanted to do something with someone we love and you were the one we wanted to do it with. Weekends together were easier to plan or sometimes we’d just show up at each other’s house….and the rest would go from there.

1609732_10153671277912923_2810596948212779931_nThose days are not part of my reality at the moment. Now I have a husband. And kids. Kids that don’t drive and have their own things that they have to do. Like baseball, piano lessons, school activities and beyond. And I don’t love you less or want to do those things less….I just have other people in line first. People that need me to do those things with them. For this season I am just simply less available. To you. My friend. And more available to these little people that I brought into the world and get a privilege of being mommy to.

I think that once my kids are teenagers they will want to be around me less. And then my husband and I will have more time to hang out. Unscheduled. Unplanned. I’ll be able to drop things more to run out to dinner. Or for a walk. Or shopping (if I’m not completely broke from said teenagers). Then maybe we can be “that” friend again.

In the mean time know this. I am here. I haven’t gone away. I hope that someday we can do fun stuff together again. But for now, don’t forget me. Love me anyway. And know that if you need me….I mean really need me. I will drop everything for you. Because I love ya.

And until that day comes when we can be a little more care free….we just have to schedule our time together. Lunches might include little people. Movies might mean Disney is included. Hanging out might mean we’re at the carnival with our kids or choosing a trip that is kid friendly. Conversations might mean 50 interruptions because heaven forbid we talk on the phone.

Until that day….know that I love you. I always have. I always will. Because that’s the kind of friend I am.

You know who you are….my dear friends.

Ecclesiates 3:1 (ESV) For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven:…

*The rest of this chapter is good too. Click Here to read it.

 

Striving for perfection will make you fail every time

A week or so ago I posted something on Facebook about that “perfect” mom that’s all cute and skinny and drives a fancy SUV and how that seems so unreal to me. How that seems to completely unlike any reality that I have ever known or experienced. With Anyone. Ever. This wasn’t my way of judging someone because I have come to understand in my few years on this planet that EVERYONE has their own struggles. That “perfect” appearing mom probably has her own insecurities. And I can tell you beyond a shadow of a doubt that she is not perfect.

I realized today when I dropped off my kiddo at school that in my struggle to strive for perfection that it just can’t happen. I can even strive for great and I’ll fall short…a lot.

That’s a little discouraging and frustrating.

I want to be the BEST mom and wife and friend and sister and auntie and co-worker and and and….that I can possibly be. I want to use my time wisely. Treasure moments with my kids. Have a clean home. Be a good cook that prepares healthy meals. Have a healthy body. Be a friend that is there when needed and beyond. Be a disciple of Christ. Lead others to Christ. Be respected at work. Be respected among my peers. Enjoy my own life and give myself what I need to be happy. And the list could go on and on.

I realized today that I will never get it all right all of the time. God didn’t design us this way. We were made in His perfect image, but try as we might, HE is the only one that can attain perfection. We were created with a free will and frail bodies. We are only meant to be here for a short while and so we are charged to make an impact using the talents that he gave us within our sphere of influence (Read here to find out more about how to use your talents – Matthew 25:14-30). God created each of us so uniquely that we will NEVER look like that “perfect mom”. We’re not supposed to! Did you hear me ladies? We are NOT SUPPOSED to look like her.

God made you for you. Just you. No one else gets to be you. They can sure try, but they will never be you. And they shouldn’t want to.

I think there’s such freedom in that. It’s liberating to know that I was created for this time. For these roles. For a purpose. My job is to dig into my relationship with Him and do the very best that I can.

And THAT….is as perfect as we’ll ever get.

  • We’ll fall.
  • We’ll fail.
  • We’ll forget.
  • We’ll get angry.
  • We’ll sin.
  • We’ll yell.
  • We’ll lose perspective.
  • We’ll get it all wrong at some point.
  • We just will.

God’s loving arms will pick us up. Dust us off. Kiss our owies. And send us on our way. Just like our earthly parents would. *If your parents are like mine anyway….I acknowledge that not all parents are created equally.

Don’t be discouraged my friends. You were created to have success too. To have perfect moments. To reach your goals. But we have to keep moving forward. Every day. Choose in each moment to make the best of it. Make a difference where you can and let go of the ones you can’t save. God will walk this journey with you and gently be your guide….if you let Him.

I love you friends. I hope I can be an encouragement to you today. That’s one of the things I strive for. To be a light. To be a good friend. We (my kids and I) pray for that every day.

Lord, help me to be a light in a dark world. Help others to see Jesus in me so that they might want You for themselves. Calm my soul when I start to stress and worry over things I can’t control. Help me to be content in the place you have me. I am so ever grateful for the life you’ve given me. Help me to walk in your ways and follow the path you set before me. Forgive me for trying to be something I’m not. Forgive me for comparing myself to others. Forgive me for the bad attitude that I have when I see someone that has something I want. Protect my loved ones today dear Lord and give them opportunities to shine for You. In Jesus’ precious name….and all of God’s people said….AMEN!

When I Lay Down and When I Wake Up

015 cropped

Last night as I laid my head on my pillow I felt

  • Accomplished
  • Loved
  • Tired
  • Weary
  • Sore
  • Discouraged
  • And yet hopeful that with a good night’s sleep I would have my energy and spirit renewed the next morning (which is usually how the whole sleep thing works)

When I woke up this morning I felt

  • Rested
  • Ready for a new day

Then I peeked at my facebook this morning and I saw all the fun things that some moms do with their kids in the morning and the great photos that they take and their cute little bodies (the moms) and the fun they had with friends yesterday and I was right back at feeling discouraged. Like a sub par parent, a bad friend, heavy…oh and really really pasty white. I don’t know why it hit me like this today….Normally I can look at this stuff and be happy for my friends. But lately as I become less and less happy with myself….and more aware that people are noticing, I am less and less happy for my friends.

I crave balance. I yearn for it. I want to find that place between faith, family, friends, work, health, cleanliness, organization, and FUN. I don’t want to be so crazy about my size that I lose sight of the fun of living. I don’t want to be so nuts about my house being clean and organized that I miss the fun of parenting my kids and being a good wife to my husband. I don’t want to be stressed out, but I want to do a good job at my work.

 

Balance —— That’s what I want.

 

So I’m on a journey. We all are. I’m far from perfect, but I’m trying. Man am I trying. Every day is a new day. I’m taking them one at a time. God gave me a verse many years ago and it’s just as needed for me today as it was way back then.

“Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” -Matthew 6:34

Oh and guess what….it was one of my devotional verses today. Weird, huh?

Lord, walk beside me today. Lift my spirits. Let me not be so concerned with what others are doing, but focus my attention exactly where it needs to be. You chose me to be Dan’s wife and the mother to my children. You trusted me to love them and support them in the way that they need it most. Please work in me, my life, and my heart so that I can achieve these goals and all that you have for me. Let my focus be more on YOU and less on the things that I see as “missing” in my world. And Lord most of all, help me to shine brightly for you so that others can see you and know you and love you. In Jesus Name. Amen.

Who are you?

Do you ever find that depending on the group of people you’re with you are a different person? Not that you aren’t you or being true to you….but in the group dynamic you play a different role….

I’m noticing lately how that’s true for me.

Work/Church (I lump these together because for me it’s one and the same)
I’m the bubbly one. The life of the party. I like to chat and laugh and generally make the situation light. People laugh at/with me and often shake their heads at me because that’s just who I am. Don’t get me wrong….I feel respected and appreciated in my work environment because I know how to be serious and dig in to get the job done. But in general I would say I’m the “fun” one (not the only one, just one of the fun ones). 😉 **Work people correct me if I’m wrong.

Home
I’m the hammer. I’m “mean” (according to my kids). I’m in charge. Sure we have fun too, but my role is that of mom. I have to keep everyone fed, clean, healthy, and clothed. It’s a big job to keep everyone in line and love them like crazy. I’m typically not that “fun” at home. I’m not saying I like to be the hammer….but somebody has to do it, right? Trying to find balance between “mean” and “fun” at home can be a challenge. **Home people correct me if I’m wrong.

With the Girls
For some very weird reason that I can’t quite figure out, I think I’ve ended up being the “boring” one with the girls. Maybe boring isn’t the right word….maybe I’m the “plain” one. I’m not as loud. I’m not as funny. I don’t have the most interesting stories to tell. It’s weird. This is not my natural place. This is not where I see myself and yet with these women that I would consider to be the best friends that I have on this planet…my role is wrong. It doesn’t matter if we’re having lunch or if we’re having drinks…I’ve ended up being the wallflower of sorts. Maybe the word is that I’m the serious one. I don’t like this. It’s unnatural for me and yet I’m stuck. How do I fix it? I don’t want to be the “wild” girl, but how did I get to be the serious one? **Girl people, correct me if I’m wrong.

With my Husband
This is probably the most real I could get. I am me. I am Sueann. I am all of the things listed above. Fun. Serious. Mean. Honest. Life of the Party. This is where I am most comfortable because my husband knows all parts of me and loves me anyway. I don’t need to have a good story to tell or tell him to clean behind his ears or even be funny. I get to just be his wife and THIS is a pretty amazing place to be. With my husband. **Husband, correct me if I’m wrong.

I am all of these things. I like to observe the situation and adapt to what is needed, and yet I want to be true to who I am.

Does anyone else find themselves in this place?

I am not a perfect mom

I’m publishing this today….October 1, 2014, but it was written in December 16, 2013. I’m posting it today because it’s still so true. (I sometimes write stuff down and then sit on it….)

I believe that there are misconceptions out there that your life, kids, and house must look a certain way in order to be a “good” mom, wife, person, etc. I call BOLOGNA!! Here’s my attempt at showing you what my life really looks like. It’s not perfect. It’s messy. And I would bet that there are more women out there that can relate, but are afraid to tell the world. Today I’m tearing down the curtain…

 

I Am Not a Perfect Mom

Do you ever feel like no matter what you do, you’re never doing enough?

I try to be that mom. You know that mom who has these good looking, well rounded, smart, polite kids. Those kids know their mom loves them and would fight for them in any circumstance. I’m the mom that wants her kids to know how awesome their dad is and that they should aspire to be like him. Most of all I’m the mom that wants her kids to know the Lord. To know His love and want to share it with the world. And in all that I want to be the mom that doesn’t lose herself. That’s still the woman God created me to be. For me it’s singing…God gave me the gift, I feel called to use it. I want to garden. I want to spend time with my friends and family. I want to read. I want to cook good meals and share them with our family and friends.

But I’m also that mom that wishes I could do more. Be more. Have more. Dream more. Craft more. Garden more. Cook more…..and on and on and on.

I’ll be honest. I usually have laundry piled high in the living room. My kitchen counter is always covered with mail, kid’s papers/artwork, DS games, pencils, boxes, and who knows what else. And that’s just one counter. 🙂 My bathroom counter has cotton balls, toothpaste, toothbrushes, shaving cream, jewelry, pony tail holders, flat iron, and all kinds of other crap on it. It doesn’t get cleaned as much as it should – and don’t ask me how often that is because you might not want to know the answer. My dusting is behind. The beds don’t get washed as much as they should. The vacuuming….well I get around to that more than anything which still isn’t as much as some think I should. Half the time I feel lucky that I got the kids out of the house dressed, shoed, clean, and with all their “stuff” that they need for the day. And sometimes I have to run back to the school because someone forgot something.

I work full time. My husband works full time + and often the hours are weird. Most days consist of me getting done with work, go get the kids, go home, try to find something in the fridge/freezer to put together for dinner, make dinner, eat dinner, clean up dinner, homework, baths, bed time routine, everyone is sleeping….and by this time mommy is ready to pass out because she’s so tired. Then I often take a look around the house, see what I can pick up or work on before I pass out (but it has to be something quiet because the kids are sleeping now), then try to get ready for bed myself only to start all over again. Sometimes daddy can be there to do the evening stuff and there’s a little more space in there for fun stuff, but I can’t count on that most of the time. And I do all of this on a tank that is empty which isn’t fun for the kids. I’m tired, short with them, frustrated that they aren’t helping, aren’t doing what I’ve asked, they’re wanting more than I can/want to give (candy, movies, computer games, etc) and then complaining (and by complaining I mean throwing holy fits) when they don’t get what they want. And this is when we don’t have anything else going on….like soccer, football, swimming, AWANA, birthday parties, etc. I basically get 2 hours with my kids on weeknights and I don’t want that time to be spent on cleaning all the time.

Then there’s the weekends. Could I spend every moment of my weekends cleaning? Sure! If I didn’t have anything else going on (like church, family gathering, something fun with the kids, etc). Or maybe I could spend my weekend trying to catch up on rest and soaking in time with my kids. And even in those moments….those choices….I still don’t feel like I’m doing enough.

I didn’t cook a meal with them.

I didn’t do some fun art project with them.

I didn’t play the game they wanted to play at the moment they wanted to play it.

I didn’t take them to the Bison game or the UND hockey game.

I didn’t do a service project with them.

We didn’t go on some fun and faraway vacation with them.

We didn’t go to the fun play place with them.

We didn’t go over letters and shapes and colors or math problems and reading.

We didn’t study our Bible verses for Awana

We probably just stayed home and tried to breathe. Tried to cuddle. Tried to keep our heads above water. I probably didn’t accomplish half of what I ever wanted to. And to be honest…I’m not sure how to get there. My house is still a mess. My kids are probably still complaining. I’m probably still exhausted. But I’m still here and I’m still trying. Some days are easier to be hopeful that I can get better at this. Some days are just hard. Today is that hard day. I am trusting for each step ahead of me today. Trusting that the One who holds my future will carry me through. Trusting that if I am walking in the light of His truth that all things will come together for good.

As I list all the things we didn’t do….here’s what I can focus on for today.

  • Today my kids brushed their teeth without arguing.
  • They are well rested, healthy, and in relatively good moods when they left the house (even if one of them was late for school).

I just pray that my kids love their mama despite her many imperfections.

Sincerely – an imperfect mama

What she said…

You know that moment when you’re talking to a co-worker, a friend, a family member….and they are talking about someone else you know with not so much kindness? Do you join in and agree? Do you defend the person? Do you say nothing and avoid the conflict?

I have those moments from time to time and sometimes I agree. But then I leave the conversation feeling badly. What if that person, who you call your friend, heard you say those things? How would they feel? Then I think….I am not naive enough to think that the person who is saying those things about the mutual friend doesn’t do the same thing to me. Sad, huh? If people talk about others, what makes you think they don’t talk that way about you?

Then I think, what would they say about me? What could they say that would hurt me? Would it bother me? Should it bother me?

Things they could say:
She works too much
She’s really opinionated and thinks she knows everything
She is bossy
She talks to much
She’s loud
She spends too much time on the computer/facebook
She’s messy
She’s emotional

Things that would really hurt:
She thinks she’s a good singer, but I really don’t like her voice
She’s a bad mom
She doesn’t take care of her family
She isn’t very good at her job
She’s fat
She’s ugly
She’s not a good wife

And so as I think about my conversations….I think “what would I want said if it were me they were talking about”. Just food for thought….Oh and here’s what my favorite book has to say about it.

Ephesian 4:29 Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear

Matthew 18:15-20 “If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother. But if he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, that every charge may be established by the evidence of two or three witnesses. If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church. And if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector. Truly, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. Again I say to you, if two of you agree on earth about anything they ask, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven. For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them.

Matthew 5:2-11

The Beatitudes

And he opened his mouth and taught them, saying:

“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

“Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.

“Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.

“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.

“Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.

“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.

“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.

“Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

“Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

Venison Round Steak Fajitas

So I didn’t have a lot of time and I knew I wanted to cook something at home. I have some venison in my freezer (thanks Dad), but my husband doesn’t like it. Sooooo….I thought maybe a flavorful marinade would disguise the flavor. And guess what!? It totally worked. The 8 year old boy said it was the best dinner ever and the husband had no idea it was venison. SUCCESS!! Here’s what I did.

Ingredients:
1 lb venison round steak
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon minced garlic
4 tablespoon lime juice
2 tablespoons kosher salt
6 soft taco shells
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1/2 cup grape tomatoes sliced
1 medium onion
1/2 cup julienned carrots
1/3 cup black beans

Directions:
Put venison into a baggy with the olive oil, garlic, lime juice, and salt. Mix around and let sit while you prepare the rest of the ingredients.
Slice onion into strips. Julienne carrots. Put carrots and onion into medium-high frying pan with vegetable oil. Cook about 5 minutes or until onion is clear. Remove from hot pan and place in a serving dish.
Remove venison from marinade and slice into 1/4 inch strips. Put into hot pan. After a couple of minutes add the rest of the marinade juice for extra moisture. Cook about 7 minutes total or until venison is cooked to your liking.
While meat is cooking you can slice up your tomatoes, warm up your beans, and set cheese aside for use.

When the meat is done warm up your shells (I like to pop mine in the microwave covered for about 30 seconds) and serve! Enjoy.

Again…I don’t have a picture of it, but it was quick and easy and low cal. Here’s what I calculated for nutrition information.

Per Fajita
305 Calories
19 Carbs
12 Fat
26 Protein
380 Sodium
2 Sugar

Yay! Another one under 500 calories! Unless you have 2….which I did.