Sunday, April 23, 2017

Inspiring Our Boys

We want to teach our boys positive can emerge from negative. We want our boys to cling to faith and know God is good. We want our boys to use hard situations to cultivate strong, kind and thoughtful chacteristics. We want our boys to learn achieving their dreams always requires work. We want our boys to know that just because someone says they CAN'T be successful, DOESN'T MEAN IT'S TRUE. We want our boys to appreciate each other - to know that having siblings/cousins/family is a gift to be cherished. 

This article helped me teach these lessons to my sons. It's an inspirational story about a boy - who admist great struggle and sadness - worked hard to achieve his dream. We read it as a family and it sparked good conversation. 

I thought you might want to share this story  with your family too. 

Let's encase the little humans we are raising with stories of hope and love. 

You're doing a great job, mama. 

Keep on, keepin' on.
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What I've Been Thinking About Today...

I was ready for a fight.

The T-birds versus The Scorpions. (Danny Zuko, anyone?)

It was my side against theirs and I was on deck. My why-we-are-right reasons were queued up. My comebacks loaded. My back pocket held insults and sarcasm. My tongue, sharpened. And I was ready to go there - anything to get the “other side” to see THE LIGHT.

Leading up to this meeting, I practiced my lines with self-righteous, warrior-esque vigor. Somewhere in rehearsing my brilliant sarcastic points guaranteeing me verbal glory, the name “Abigail” crept into my brain. It fluttered around my mind distracting me from my previous performance. (Annoying and when I was just getting good...) Instead it urged me to stop, pay attention and remember her story.

It was a lesson I’d researched and taught for a women’s ministry event.

Abigail was a #girlpower woman married to the cross between Beauty and the Beast’s, Gastan, and The Grinch who stole Christmas. (Real name: Nabal.) A wealthy couple with much land, livestock, property and servants – their cup runneth over. King David – before he was king – was camping out with his men near Abigail and Nabal’s home. They’d been kind and protective of Nabal’s servants and possessions. As hospitality was custom, King David asked Nabal for a favor. On feast day, King David sent some of his men to request Nabal to provide David's group with food. Nabal didn’t just say no. He hurled insults, sarcasm and lashed the men with his l-am-wonderful-and-you-are-a-loser tongue of steel.

David received the insults well.

Just kidding…

David was strap-on-his-sword-and-let’s-talk-about-this-with-real-steel outraged. But Abigail got wind of the situation and swiftly interceded with David and his men. She offered wise words and kindness. She extended food and hospitality. She was diplomatic – an ambassador, a peacemaker…a fierce voice of reason. In a time when women were sometimes considered more property than people, DAVID LISTENED TO HER. Her kindness, wisdom and purposeful actions won. (I Samuel 25)

The story flurried around my brain challenging me, coaxing me, flat out chanting: Abigail was legit. She persuaded an army. AN ARMY. Her smart actions and words changed the minds of powerful people. What a woman, this Abigail. Could I play my cards like her? Could I have real influence through carefully chosen words? (What's that I feel? Is it me wanting to be like her?)

So, I revised my original plan. In the meeting, I focused on speaking convincing wisdom. I forced kindness from my lips. Or held my tongue. A lot. I tried to listen and understand and compromise. I didn’t do this flawlessly, but I did it well enough. The meeting went better than expected and I left feeling okay.

When people say “lives are transformed by the power of the gospel,” I think this is one way it plays out in the everyday.

God seeps into our minds and fills us with His truth and His wisdom. It flutters down to our hearts where it overflows into our actions.

Yet, don’t for a second think I'm never rude. I’m actually better than I want to be at the comeback. Or that every conflict ends with a hug and kiss. Oh goodness, invent how to make that happen and be a millionaire.

But this time – this blessed time – when the Holy Spirit whispered His persistent wisdom into my thoughts, I listened and chose God’s path. And let me tell you, I’m positive it worked much better than my original plan.

Jesus, stay near. Forever. Mean it.

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Sunday, April 9, 2017

My Huffington Post Article (18 Hours Later and I Felt Braver - For Moms)

Here’s my most recent Huffington Post article. It still seems surreal that I get to publish over there. Crazy mad dream come true. What is your dream? What keeps you up at night as you think: Maybe I COULD do this? What has God placed on your heart to try? I say go for it. Even if it’s out-of-the-box for you. We get one life, one chance. Maybe it won’t work out, but then again...maybe it will. (And thanks for reading a piece of my dream.♡)

I put the article in full below, but would love it if you would head over to the Huffington Post and share it from there.

18 Hours Later and I Felt Braver

(For Moms)

I did something I never thought I could do this summer: I drove 18 hours alone with my three kids on a marathon road trip.

Not straight - that’s madness. Over three days, I drove 9 hours, 5.5 hours, and then 3.5 hours.

But still. Eighteen hours.

I feel like John Glenn.

Voyaging beyond an hour from home with my boys is NOT MY THING. The thought gives me insomnia. But I desperately wanted my children to see out-of-state people I love, especially their great-grandma. My husband started the trip with us, but needed to fly home to work. So I took the wheel alone and pressed on. I would never have done this before kids, but motherhood trumped fear.

Parenting does that. It can make us narcoleptic-tired, paper-thin stretched, and worried like we majored in it, but out of the hard parts comes this crazy new kind of strength.

From day one, we’re forced out of our comfort zone. At first, we can’t even believe someone would trust us with this little human being. Then it seems miraculous that in our sleep-deprived state, we’ve somehow kept our baby fed, rested and clean. We get our kids safely through the toddler years despite the things they insist on doing, like licking spilt chocolate milk off of McDonald’s floor. (True story. That was also the day my first grey hair came in.) We become master researchers: illness, milestones, parenting tips, schools. Our strength becomes sub-human; when our children decide to koala-bear us for the entire length of the mall and then some, we carry them. When our eight-year-old begs to be thrown across the pool because, “Please mom, it’d be so fun!,” we find ourselving tossing a gleeful kid like we actually followed through with our morning workout. We make hard decisions: “Should I step into this middle school drama or let them figure it out on their own?” or “How do I motivate my teenager to get better grades in high school?” In juggling work, family and household, we become bolder, we speak up. And somewhere in it all, we find our inner Mama Bear.

And she is empowering. She nudges us to do things like drive alone with kids into galaxies beyond…

…or 18 hours across America...whatever, same diff.

All I know is after the road trip, I feel like I can do more than I could before.

Not that I want to drive alone again. (I don’t. And I don’t recommend it to you either.) But I could do it if I had to.
Parenting persuades us to be braver today than we were yesterday.

And that feels good.

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Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Photography - April Fools Day!

6yo: Mom, are you ready for April Fools Day? Do you have all of our presents? 
Me: Are you serious or joking?
6yo: Serious. You have gifts for us right?
Me: No. That's Christmas. And your birthday. April Fools Day is when you play jokes on each other.
6yo: Ohhh... (Light bulbs clicking in his head.)

Then there were lots of jokes played all day long. Mainly things hidden:
"Mom, I can't find my piggy bank!" APRIL FOOLS!
"Dad, someone stole your guitars!" APRIL FOOLS!
"Mom, I can't find my stuffed animal!" APRIL FOOLS!
About 3:00, my 6yo asked, "Is it still April Fools Day?" *Yes.* "Oh good!" (Lots more things to hide!)

But today, our long, lovely spring break is over and we are back to the grind. Schedules to obey. I wish my 6yo would shout out "April Fools!" But, here we to busyness... Happy Tuesday everyone! (And belated April Fools Day.)

PS - I've been playing with photos.(Oh the joy!) Notice, I posted pictures of my kids when they were babes. No one says you have to edit/print/photobook all your photos in a timely fashion. I very much enjoyed playing with photos from years before remembering how cute their toddler/baby stage was. Moms, just keep taking photos. You'll come back to them someday and they'll make your heart glow. 
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Saturday, March 18, 2017

A Mom In Full Control (50% of the Time)

No boys, we are NOT taking care of your aunt’s dog. It’s too much work. I know you said you’d do everything, but YOU KNOW I’ll end up cleaning up poop. I know Bella’s cute, but I like our dog-free home. I know you think it’s nice to help your aunt, but we can help her in other ways. I hear you that it’d be fun, but honestly, I don’t even really like dogs. No. It’s not happening. Quit asking. I'm a firm "no" on this. 

And here we are taking care of Bella. 

The boys slept around the dog like she was a campfire. When I picked them up from school the next day, my kindergartner said, "I just wanted Bella all day long." I could not drive fast enough to get home to her, according to my boys. Bella’s in danger of being over-loved. 

It’s good to be in control of my life. #FiftyPercentOfTheTime

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Friday, March 17, 2017

What I'm Watching & Reading

I love great movies and reads. I especially love when people share with me the good stuff that's inspiring them. So I thought I'd start sharing things I love on my blog a little more. This is what's moved me lately:

1.  I don't want to wreck this movie by telling you the conclusion, but Arrival is a must see. My husband and I had great conversation about the "ah-ha" moment at the end. Plus, it's pretty tame so you can watch the movie with your kids - or at least with the kids in the room. (It might bore them.) How the movie makes you think at the end is relevant to everyone. It will make you less fearful of the hard things in life.


2. I also loved this article: The Best Marriage Advice From a Divorced Man. No matter where you are in your marriage, it's a great read. The message goes both ways. I promise, you'll come a way from this article with fresh insight to marriage. 

3. Why God Took So Long To Give Me a Baby is for anyone in the wait, no matter what you are waiting for. It's a great reminder that sometimes, there is a purpose for your wait. God is preparing something (or someone) better than you can even imagine. This is an encouraging read. 

If your reading or watching anything great, I'd love to hear about it in the comments!

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Sunday, March 12, 2017

Photography Tips

I'm sharing  ideas of how to capture the everyday lovely in your life. Try these kind of shots:

1. Silloutte pictures. 

2. Zoom in on one object in the shot. (And not necessarily the object you would think to highlight.)

3. Set your camera on the table or ground (or log). 

4. Capture motion. They're never still anyway, so embrace the movement.

And lastly, lower your expectations. I gave up on trying to control every aspect of the shot. If I just try and be creative with photographing what's in front of me, I usually end up with at least one shot I like. And if not, I can try again another time. 

PS - This is updated version of the camera and lens I use. It took me a long time to decide to spend that kind of money on my hobby, but I'm glad I did. Fantastic purchase.

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