Wednesday, November 12, 2014

See the Need, Share the Need, Meet the Need

So much of my life lately has been consumed with this:
1. Seeing needs and not knowing how to meet them.
2. Having needs but being resistant to sharing them.
3. Being able to meet needs, but not willing.

So many conversations I've had lately center around seeing needs. I know couples who need marriage support, ministries that need prayer, women who need friends (me included), men who need mentors, and families who need help raising and taking care of their children. How do we meet these needs?  How do we get others to see the needs? That's the real question. We can't meet every need we see, but someone can.

Lord please change our hearts.

How many needs do I miss? Why when there is so much uncertainty are we hesitant to share that we need prayer and encouragement? How do we as the body of Christ die to ourselves to do the work God has called us to? How can we expect others to do what we ourselves are unwilling to do?

I am guilty. I doubt, I fear, I give in to anxiety, but rarely do I share what I'm struggling with. Right now we are in the process of buying a house. We thought we were to the end. It's been incredibly stressful. I've had anxiety, worried at late hours of the night, and even had nightmares through the process. I've cried, drove by the house and said a million prayers, and only confessed to a tiny few that we are even in this process. Why? Why did we not tell right away that we were doing this- that we needed guidance and encouragement and advice? Buying a house is stressful. We thought we would be closing this Friday, but according to the call I got today at best it's happening next Thursday if at all. I was completely crushed. I've prayed through the whole process, but if I had just shared the need early on how much stress and anxiety could the prayers of others saved us? We have to share our needs. We need each others prayers. We need each others encouragement. Sometimes we need more than just encouragement and prayer- sometimes we have physical needs that could be met if only we would speak up.

If more and more people were willing to be transparent, would it make a difference?

To that end, we have to do more than see needs and share our own, we have to actually step up and meet the needs we are capable of meeting. I can't do it all, but I can do something. I can pray for someone. I can send a card. I can send a meal. I can watch a child for a short amount of time. I can listen. There are lots of things I can do, I just have to be willing to listen when the Lord says to move and take action.

What needs do you see? What needs do you have? What needs have you met? These questions are important. As the body of Christ we should be in the business of seeing and meeting needs.

Acts 20:35 "In all things I have shown you that by working hard in this way we must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.'”

James 2:26 "For as the body apart from the spirit is dead, so also faith apart from works is dead."

1 Thessalonians 5:11 "Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing."

Galatians 6:2 "Bear one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ"

Hebrews 10:24-25 " 24 And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, 25 not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching."

What are your thoughts? What keeps us from meeting others needs? What keeps us from sharing our own needs? What is keeping us from seeing the needs of others?

I'm tired. I'm scared. I'm selfish. Lord change me.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Understood Mommy

I've come to notice a change and I'm proud to say I think it's coming from my generation.

Today I was out with my lovely 18 month old all over town running errands. I dropped in a resale store that I go to often to see if I could consign a few of Vi's old clothes that will be the wrong season for Lila (I'm crafty, but even I don't know how to salvage long sleeve christmas onesies and make them work for July). While at the store my child started having a meltdown. You know, a "scream at the top of my lungs and cry and want up and then kick to get down, and then beg to be picked back up" type of meltdown. If you have never experienced this, well, you must not have ever had an 18 month old. It's completely normal. I was not panicked. I was not embarrassed. I could tell the sales lady was a little uncomfortable, so I told her that at this age my child has no less than 20 "the world is ending" episodes a day, and that it's not a cause for concern. I basically ignore them unless I know there is a legitimate reason/need not being met causing the behavior. At that point I noticed a few other moms in the store who had taken notice, and when I explained to the sales lady, I saw smiles. They knew. I didn't have to talk to those other moms to know they weren't judging me. A simple smile let me know that they understood exactly what I was going through and the futility of fighting or even apologizing for my child's behavior.

 I have a piece of paper from our pediatrician describing in great detail my child's exact behavior (even though it is a handout given to ALL moms at the 18 month check up). It also states I should not take my child anywhere I would not feel comfortable with having her throw a tantrum. As it turns out, I don't care if her world ends while I'm at the grocery store, a clothing store, or even church. Do you know why? Because I have been given the freedom to parent according to my own convictions. I am careful about what I say in public and keep my more debatable parenting convictions to myself or share them person to person rather than throwing it out to the wolves. For the most part, I don't see judgement.

That's what makes me excited. Women my age have embraced reality. In spite of the pressure of super mom on Pinterest and perfect pictures on Instagram, we've managed to get over it all and accept that life at home is hard. Children do not act or look the way we want them to all the time. Our homes are messy. We don't shower nearly as often as we wish we could. We are too tired to compete. There is always dirty laundry and dirty dishes. We try to feed our families healthy foods, but sometimes we  feed our kids cereal for dinner. I am so thankful for the other mommies out there with blogs that reflect real life. I'm thankful to women I almost never interact with in real life, but, through facebook, feel like kindred spirits because they aren't afraid to post photos with laundry baskets in the background and toys all over the floor while their children wear mismatched clothes or run around in underwear. That's real life.

I still see women who pass judgement on other moms, but the point is I'm seeing it less and less. What I'm seeing more is the great response of honest mommies who rise up in defense when they see another mom being criticized. It gives me hope that some day when my girls are older and become moms, they will have a community of support instead of a community of criticism. I pray that women in the church would rise up with honesty and transparency because that's what women need. We need someone genuine who feels what we feel. We need someone to smile in such a way that let's us know they get it. We need to know that our feelings are valid. They are.

We understand. We really do. If we don't, it's only because we haven't been there yet, but trust me, our day is coming.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014


The past few days I will admit that I've felt a little lost. I don't call my parents often. I rarely ask for advice or direction, but I did recently because right now I honestly have no idea what to do. Have you ever felt that way?

There are some things in life that we must decide that aren't easy, times when no one else on earth can really tell us which direction to take. That's where I'm at.

As contrary as it may seem to many, the Bible really doesn't contain a list giving us the answer to every move we make in life. It won't tell us directly what method we should choose to educate our children, where exactly to live, what occupation to take, who to marry, or how many children to have. There are certainly guidelines and advice that speaks to all of these, but the Bible doesn't give specifics on many of these "big" decisions.

We know that when we don't know what to do, the answer is to ask the Lord. After all, He is sovereign. He knows all things, so surely He can direct us in these decisions.

That's what I'm waiting for.

I have to admit, it's difficult to wait with patience. I want to know the answer yesterday. I find myself pouring through my Bible in hopes of finding a solution even though I know that my current situation will find no direct answer in scripture. So here is what I pose to you: In these situations where you find that the only answer is to pray for an answer, what do you do while you are waiting on God?

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Sisters, sisters, there were never such devoted sisters... Introducing our little one's name :)

If you didn't catch the hint from my facebook post, Violet is getting a little sister. I'm ECSTATIC! I'd have been happy to have a little boy, but I don't think there is anything wrong with having a preference one way or the other, and I really wanted another little girl.

Her name, well, it kinda requires some explanation, but to start, I SWEAR I'M NOT NAMING MY GIRLS FOR SHADES OF PURPLE. Now that I've got that out, we will call her "Lila." Her full name is Lilac Jane Joyce Jaeger.

1.I want my girls to know they are beautiful so I gave them names of flowers. Violet's flower name was a nod to my early love of reading The Boxcar Children. Lilac's name was inspired by my favorite movie of all time: The Holiday Inn (which is also the first movie Cameron and I ever watched together). One of the girls in the movie is named "Lila" and I thought it sounded pretty.

2. As well as being beautiful, we want our girls to be smart. I like giving them names with literary ties (Cameron and I both desire for our girls to love reading like we do). Jane is in fact a nod to my favorite author of all time, Jane Austen. The fact that her middle names Jane Joyce are also reminiscent of James Joyce was a happy coincidence :)

3. We also want our girls to be close to their family, so we are giving them family names. Violet was named for Cameron's maternal grandmother Grace. Lila we are naming after my maternal grandmother Joyce. Regardless of all else, my grandmother has this legacy to offer: she stayed with my grandfather for better or worse and in sickness and health. Sometimes "worse" is something we never imagined before we got married, and "sickness" can be years and years of struggle, but I believe that marriage is sacred and our vows are meant to be honored for life. That's something I want to pass on to my daughters.

 So there you have it. Her name is long, and certainly less than common, but I love it. We are identified by our names for the rest of our lives, so they might as well accompany a meaning worth identifying with. God makes us in His own image. He makes us beautiful and intelligent. He created us for relationship with Himself and others. If we fail in other ways, at the very least our girls will grow up sure of these things because even their names will testify to their identity in Christ.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

A little note of joy

Being a parent is pretty awesome most days. Just sayin'. Don't get me wrong, the teething is terrible, my child's inability to tell me in words what is wrong (therefore resulting in many mini meltdowns) stinks, and about a billion other little annoyances make the job less than desirable at times, but all in all having a little girl is pretty amazing.

Tonight we were making dinner in the kitchen and had Violet sitting up on the counter with music playing and while she was bopping her head and flailing her arms in an attempt to dance, I took Cameron's hand and we started dancing. Her little eyes lit up and she busted out giggles of glee. We let her hop down and she went back and forth between the two of us taking our hands and dancing around the kitchen with us.

She has this way of stealing the show in our family. We think we are watching a movie or eating dinner or doing any normal thing and then I find that actually we are just watching Violet do those things.She is absolutely captivating. I mean it. When her little eyes light up and she smiles and starts dancing we can't help but stop and stare as if mesmerized. It's almost as if her joy fills us with joy.

Our mouths were filled with laughter, our tongues with songs of joy. Then it was said among the nations, “The Lord has done great things for them.” The Lord has done great things for us, and we are filled with joy.Psalm 126:2-3 (NIV)

That's what it is. Children are a gift, a great blessing. Just by trusting us with Violet, the Lord has done great things for us, and we are filled with joy. 

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

$$$ Money, money money, MONEY!

Little things add up. I recently did the math and found that from digital coupons, clipped coupons, shopping/ planning meals around what is on sale, and looking through the discount bins, I consistently save about 35-40% a month on groceries. I don't do anything "extreme" or super time consuming. We eat almost every meal at home plus snacks and treats so we go through a lot of groceries. We eat what we like and our budget never holds us back from having our favorite things. I figured out that we eat about $250 worth of groceries a week. I spend about $150. We save about $4800 a year.

So, here is how I do it:

1. I buy in multiples.
I look at the sale ads EVERY week. I choose the items that have the deepest discounts and I buy as much as I can of those items. For instance, this week Kroger has skinner pasta on sale for .38 each (typically about $1 each). I will buy a month worth of pasta at that price because pasta goes on sale at deep discounts pretty often. We go through about 2-3 packages of pasta a week. So say 10 in a month. The sale price saves me about $6 for the month. A few weeks back Kroger ran canned tuna on sale for .50 each (which is a rare low price I haven't seen for tuna in a very long time- it typically goes on sale for about .69-.89)- I bought over 30 cans. That might seem extreme at first, but if you think of it in the long run- I know that my family eats about 6-8 cans of tuna a month. The normal price I pay is about .79 each. So I typically spend 4.74-6.32 a month on tuna. At the sale price of .50 I'm only paying $3-4 a month. That's about $2 a month which may not sound like a huge savings at first, but when you buy say 4-5 months worth, that's about $9. Now just on tuna and pasta- some pretty basic staples, I've saved $8 in a month. Maybe you still don't think that's much, but if I can get that sort of savings EVERY month- it adds up to $96 in a year.

This is how I shop for almost EVERY item. I buy in bulk when things are on sale and it means that I am only ever paying the lowest prices for my grocery items. This means that each week I may not be buying groceries that all together would equal a week of meals because ingredients are missing, but combined with what I've bought in the past, it all works out.

2. I buy what's on sale. 
That statement may sound a lot like what I just went through, but hang with me a second, because it is VERY different. Not all items can be bought in bulk because they would spoil. These fresh items are really important to a well balanced, healthy diet. The way I keep fresh foods in the house without running up my grocery bill is I ONLY buy what is on sale. Last week grapes were on sale for .88/lb which is a fantastic price for fruit. I also found blueberries for 1.99/pint. A few weeks ago we went out to a farm and purchased a 1/4 peck of peaches that we keep in the refrigerator- (buying from the farm AT the farm is a great way to get super low prices on seasonal produce). This gave my family three great options for fresh fruit last week and kept my grocery bill low. I do the same thing for veggies that aren't best bought frozen (like whole potatoes, bell peppers, mushrooms, tomatoes, etc.) I buy what is on sale (which is typically whatever is in season) and then I plan my meals/snacks around what I am able to purchase. Grapes are typically $2-3/lb and blueberries are typically $4/pint. Peaches have been around $2/lb. Last week we had $16 worth of fruit, but I only paid about $7.

3. I buy discount meat.
Now this part of how I save a TON of money really does require a small deep freezer. Also, you need to educate yourself on the proper way to freeze/store meat, how to thaw it, and how long it can be frozen. In addition to purchasing choice meats when they are on sale (brisket, ribs, steaks, good cuts of pork, etc.), I ALWAYS check the discount bins in the meat department and almost exclusively buy ground beef and roasts on "managers special" (marked down) along with anything else appealing I find there for less than $3.49/lb. I buy lean ground beef and never pay a dime over $3.49/lb for it, but I often pay less than $3/lb. If you shop much you know that those prices are at a minimum $1/lb less than the typical prices. When I see the meat, I buy every bit that is available. I wait for smoked sausage to be $1/package and then buy in bulk. I also buy bacon in bulk- on occasion there are two grocery stores in town that will run a 3lb package of bacon for $8-$9 (which is an absolute STEAL for bacon) and I will buy 4 packages at once (which lasts us 3-6 months depending on how much we feel like eating bacon). I buy chicken (boneless/skinless) only when it is on sale for less than 1.80/lb. If I can't find our staples (ground beef and boneless skinless chicken) on sale/discount, then I buy bulk packages at Sam's Club which ALWAYS carries them at the lowest regular price in town (typically a full .70-.80/lb less). Meat can be a big chunk of your grocery budget if you don't shop smart- but remember that there are many meats that keep for several months if frozen properly. You should never pay the regular grocery store price for meat. I exclusively purchase sale and discount meats and I know it is where I save a huge percent of $$$. If you live in Longview, Skinner's is really great at having discount meats, and Kroger/Albertson's run the best sales on meat. Between the three, you should never have to pay full price. Super One and occasionally Brookshire's run the smoked sausage and bacon on sale a few times a year and prices worth buying in bulk.

4. I USE ALL of the discounts available to me. 
I have the store cards for every store in town. I load the digital coupons onto my cards. It takes very little time to load digital coupons and it's an easy way to save money without spending a lot of time/effort. Brookshires will even send text exclusive deals to your phone if you sign up and sometimes those deals are really good. I don't typically shop at Brookshires because it is the furthest from my home and the prices on average are the highest in town, but every now and then I get a text deal too good to pass up. I also clip coupons. If you don't buy the Sunday paper (I don't), you probably know someone who does and doesn't use the coupons- ask for them. I get free coupons, clip the ones I might use, and keep them in plastic organizers in my purse at ALL times. I NEVER EVER leave home without them. I flip through them in the parking lot before I go into the store and pull out the ones I think I might need based on what I'm going in for. I don't go crazy, and I don't buy things I don't need. I only use them if they will actually SAVE money. Sometimes it's cheaper to buy the store brand or a different size of the item than to use the coupon you have. In addition to the free coupons I am graciously given, about once a month I browse and print out the coupons that are for items I know I buy (or that typically go on sale meaning I can purchase them at super low prices). I also have "liked" the facebook pages for several brands that my family likes. Often companies will post facebook exclusive coupons. I don't go looking through pages for coupons, but if it comes up in my normal feed, I go ahead and print it. I also pay attention to the coupons that print out at the register when I'm at the grocery store. Those coupons are typically targeted towards your buying habits and can be really valuable. I save about $20/ month using coupons and spend maybe an hour/month clipping/downloading/printing them. Not bad. *It is important to note that you may need to read through the coupon policy for the store you shop at most often to learn the exceptions- for example, at kroger you cannot combine a printed coupon with a digital coupon. Digital coupons also cannot be used for "managers special" (marked down) items, but they CAN be used for sale items.

5. I check my receipts. 
While my items are being rung up, I watch the screen to try and check that the prices are what I expected. Before I leave the store, I pull my buggy over to the side after I've checked out and I look over my receipt to make sure that every thing rang up for what it was supposed to, that all sale items were truly sold to me at the advertised prices, and to make sure all of my coupons were taken off. If I find a problem, I immediately take my receipt to customer service and have it made right. No less than 6 times a year I get over charged for items and have to go through the process to get a refund, but at times it has been the difference of as much as $20! That's a lot of money to lose to not checking your receipts!

6. I read the fine print.
There is nothing worse than thinking that you are going to get a great deal then walking up to the cash register and finding out that you didn't read the details and will miss out on the savings. This can apply to coupons, but mostly I find the issue with the "mega" sales. Often, in order to get the lowest advertised price, you have to meet certain criteria- like purchasing a certain number of items that are on the "mega" sale. If you purchase too few, none of the items will be sold to you at the discount, and if you get too many,  (say 7 instead of 6), then the "extra" items will be sold at the higher price. It's also important to note limits. Often stores will advertise "loss leaders"- these are items sold at discounts so deep the retailer might actually be losing money on the sale, so they put in limits for the number of those items that you can purchase at the discount- attempting to purchase more than the limit will result in the excess being sold to you at regular price. Also with "loss leaders" you need to make sure there isn't an "additional purchase" requirement. Especially with meat deals, stores often require you to make an ADDITIONAL (meaning the price of the sale item doesn't count towards the total) purchase of $10-$20.

7. I always check out the competition.
I shop the most at Kroger because I find it to be the store with the lowest overall prices and it's close to my home. However, I do not shop exclusively at Kroger. I buy bread at Skinners because they sell pepperidge farm bread products for .99 everyday. I look at the sale ads for EVERY grocery store in town EVERY week. Sometimes it's worth it for me to run into a different store to pick up sale items. I find this most true for fresh items (produce and meat). By looking at the competition each week, I get to make sure I'm getting the most for my money and providing variety for my family.

8. Special items are ONLY bought at super discounts.
We have a coffee machine that brews K-cups. If you've ever done the math, you know that it is much more expensive to buy K-cups than it is to buy ground coffee. For this reason I ONLY buy K-cups on clearance. I occasionally find them at Super One or Kroger on clearance and I buy up everything they have. I pay a max of $3.50 for a box of 12, but typically I pay $2-$3 per box (typically less than half of the regular price). We have a lot of K-cups and a wide variety of options at our house. This is how we handle ALL Special items. We don't buy ice cream unless it's a really good sale. We only buy candy the day after a holiday when it's half off. We save the special stuff for when it's really cheap.

9. I am brand flexible. 
It's hard to save money if you are only willing to buy the same brand you always buy. We have our preferences, but those preferences can be trumped by prices. For instance, we prefer Prego or Classico for jarred pasta sauce, but this week Ragu was on sale for 1.19/jar PLUS I had a coupon for .75/off 2. That made each jar about .81. Prego or Classico would have been over 2.50/jar. We don't love Ragu, but we are all willing to eat it. At that big of a price difference, we eat what's affordable over what's preferable. Now, we straight up dislike certain brands of pasta sauce, so regardless of the price, I don't buy those. Flexibility doesn't mean eating things we don't like or buying things we will never use. Sometimes the store brand is cheapest, sometimes a name brand is cheapest, and sometimes the right coupon can make a world of difference. We eat several brands, we are willing to try new brands, and I shop with a balance of what's most affordable vs. what we prefer.

10. I buy the SIZE that is most cost effective.
Look closely at the price tags on the shelves and you will start to see small numbers typically in a corner that will give a breakdown of the price/unit. So like when buying cheese typically the small corner price will show the price/ounce. This is really important to pay attention to. Sometimes the bigger size of an item comes at smaller price/unit- but not always. Sometimes the smaller packages carry the smaller overall price (this is especially true when an item is on sale- often the size that is on sale will be cheaper than other sizes of the same item). Does that make sense? For example, typically with block cheese, if you buy a 1lb block, you pay less per ounce than if you bought the same brand of cheese in the 8oz block. However, on occasion, 8oz blocks will run on sale at prices so low that it actually becomes cheaper to buy two 8oz blocks of cheese than a 1lb block of cheese. NOW- the one exception to this money saving rule is this: NEVER BUY MORE THAN YOU CAN USE BEFORE IT SPOILS. It does no good at all to buy a whole bunch of something if you are going to end up throwing out a good portion of it. Like if you buy cereal but your family doesn't eat it often, it may be more economical to buy the smaller box because the bigger one may go stale before you are able to eat the whole thing.

Ok, I know that was a lot of info. If you aren't big on shopping/saving it may seem overwhelming, but I promise, with just a tiny bit of time practicing the execution, it gets easier and eventually you find that it's not hard or time consuming to save a lot of money grocery shopping.

If you are interested in some of the more crazy side of saving money, I suggest "liking" the Kroger Krazy page on facebook. You can also check out for a super easy walk through of how to combine coupons with sale prices and price matching to get stuff for super cheap/free.

Friday, June 13, 2014

To all of you who want to play the "one up" game

We all know how to play the "one up" game and among moms it seems especially popular. In most cases I hate the "one up" game. Mostly because I think it's wrong. While I certainly want my child to succeed, my child belongs to God and because of that, her accomplishments should serve to glorify God, not me.

I do have an idea for the game that I think could be productive. What if instead of playing the game with our children as the pawns spouting their achievements, we did it with our spouses and spouted their Godly characteristics? We love to say good things about our children, but for whatever reason I find that women seem to have a hard time saying as many good things about their husbands.

The thing is, our husbands good qualities are something worth boasting. It's good for you, it's good for him, and it's good for others to hear. When we speak well of our husbands to others we tell them that we value our spouse. It's a great way to protect your marriage. When you consciously tell others about your husband's good qualities, it helps you to focus on them. That's good, because when you live with someone sharing all of life's moments together, it gets really easy to focus on their weaknesses. When you speak of your spouse's strengths you also give him a boost. It's good for him to hear praise from you. It's not like saying your spouse is better than others, it's just saying that these are the things about him that are worthy of praise. It's a way of showing that you are thankful for him. I think when we start spreading the good rumors about our loved ones, it encourages others to speak well of their loved ones too. Now doesn't that sound familiar?

1 Thess. 5:11: Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing.

Eph. 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.

Phil. 4:8:  Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.

 My husband is a protector. He thinks about what is best for me and protects me from myself. He doesn't tell me what to do, but in a very loving manner points me to see the things that aren't the best for me. He gives me a reason to quit the things I'm miserable doing when I haven't even hinted at wanting to quit. He sees what I need and goes after it. He loves our baby fiercely. He delights in her. He is a good daddy. Anyone who spends even the smallest amount of time with Cameron and Violet can see right away that he is a great father. He doesn't just love her when she's easy, He serves her when she is a mess. He is a good worker. He doesn't turn down an opportunity to provide for his family, and no job is beneath him. Whether it's waiting tables, wading through mud, sweating in the heat, cutting grass, or working in a factory, I know that he will do whatever it takes to provide for us. He acts with humility. He doesn't consider himself better than anyone else. All people are people to him.

I've never met a better man.

Now it's your turn. Feel free to leave a comment here, on fb, or just start telling others about your spouse's attributes that are worthy of praise.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

A note of encouragement

Typically I write a blog post for myself, but today I want to write something for you: a note of encouragement.

Right now life is really good. That's only for one reason though: I'm trusting the Lord and He is providing. The last five years felt mostly like wandering around in the wilderness for me and I feel like I've finally reached the promised land. I'm living out the life I was always supposed to have (not to say I won't stumble some more- in fact, I'd bet on it). Maybe you're not there right now. Maybe you feel like you're in the wilderness and it's dark and terrifying. Perhaps you're losing hope and doubting the path that you've taken. Just keep walking. The Lord is faithful and provides. After five years of the wilderness and finally coming out, I know this is true.

Recently we came to a point where there was no reasonable way for our bills to get smaller. However, between bills, food, and gas, we were spending more than we were bringing in and falling behind on things. We started talking about the possibility of me looking for a part time job (and because of Violet that would have almost necessarily meant working at a daycare). It's not what I wanted, but I'm the one who handles paying our bills so I knew it would be necessary. We hadn't told anyone we were looking for extra ways to make money, but right when we needed it, opportunities presented themselves. Someone needed occasional child care that I could provide without taking away too much time from my own home/family and without the headache of a daycare. At the same time our property manager was having trouble keeping up the lawncare where we live and Cameron just mentioned that he would be willing to take care of it if they were interested. No phone calls or applications. We didn't solicit the jobs, they just showed up (one literally at our doorstep). We didn't have a lawnmower or weedeater, but God worked that out too. We were GIVEN both by a sweet couple from our church. Between the two new "jobs" we have enough that I don't have to look for a part time job. Other people had needs we were able to fill, and by doing so, our needs were filled too. Tell me God didn't do that.

Maybe your struggle isn't financial. Perhaps like me God has been talking to you about something He wants you to do or be a part of. Maybe you are holding back for some reason. Whatever it is, talk to God about it. He cares. When He placed a need on my heart, I told my husband but stopped there. I thought about it and did some research on it, but that was it. I told God I was open to doing it, but that I didn't know where to start and I was scared to talk to someone about it. He knows me and He already knew my inexperience and anxiety when it comes to speaking up. He opened the door so that the exact thing I was being called to do was presented to me. Someone walked straight up to me, asked if I would pray about being a part of something and that something was exactly what God had already told me to do.  All I had to do was say yes. He made it easy. That's not always how He works (trust me, I've been there) but that doesn't mean we can't talk to Him about our hesitations. Sometimes you have to do the hard thing, but then sometimes God sends you an Aaron. It's okay to ask God for what you think you need.

Maybe your struggle is your marriage. I know I've only been married for five years, but trust me, we've been through struggles beyond our years. We've hurt each other in ways that no one but God can heal. Praise Jesus that He is the great Healer. I've felt alone, abandoned, misused, betrayed, unappreciated, you name it. I've done just as much to him too. Marriage is hard work. Don't let anyone tell you differently. You will hurt your spouse and you will be hurt by your spouse in ways you never imagined. When you feel like giving up, hold on even tighter. When you most feel that divorce is the answer, recommit yourself to your vows and let your spouse know that you'd rather do the work than take the easy way out. I know you may think you're out of energy and that it's too much. Maybe you feel like you're doing it all alone. I've been there. God always has more strength to give you. When you think that you are out of forgiveness, that you have none left to offer, God will give you more. You can forgive your spouse of ANYTHING. Remember that God has forgiven you for everything. The Lord is always there, so you are never alone. The Lord has not abandoned your marriage or betrayed it and He wants more than anything to heal your wounds. He can heal all things, all marriages.

Whatever you are going through right now, God is faithful. His word is true. He wants to offer you an abundant life. Take it. Be thankful.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

In the middle- a little Violet update

(this is an old post I started a couple weeks ago and never posted)

Well, I'm not winning any awards for tonight's dinner. I fed Violet leftover birthday cake, cheerios, diced turkey, and apple juice... in her walker while she watched Sesame Street. Yeah. She's having a rough day between extreme allergies and teething so I gave her all of the things she likes best. Last night I did food battle and made her eat what I ate, but tonight I figured she is battling enough other stuff, food doesn't need to be on that list.

I feel knee deep in the middle of mommying a "little." I can sing the entire theme song to Abby's Flying Fairy School, I know the name of Big Bird's teddy bear (Radar), and I have completely memorized almost every episode from season 2 of Yo Gabba Gabba. I know every song that her piano plays, her bouncer plays, and her nursery rhyme book plays. I also have memorized the tiny kitten book she makes me read her a billion times a day (you know, on the days when I don't hide it to save my sanity).

As of her one year check up she is:
W: 21 pounds 11 ounces
H: 29.5 inches tall
Giant head at 18.5 inches

She loves small books, rubber ducks, stuffed animals, knocking down blocks, emptying baskets, and generally destroying my home :) She LOVEs music and shoes. Those two are probably her favorites. She doesn't like to wear shoes so much as look at them.

She likes swinging at the park and she can say "duck," "uh-oh," "mama," "dada," and "thank you."

Spiritual gifts

To all of my friends who understand what it is to be an introvert and don't expect me to act like an extrovert, thank you.

I just got home from a baby shower. It was lovely and beautiful and the mom to be is one of the sweetest women I know. I went because I remember my shower and how much it meant to me that people came. It's nice to get gifts, but there is something special about someone showing up to celebrate. Coming home I'm exhausted and there is no physical reason for it. I spoke what little I had to for politeness to the people around me, and had a truly lovely conversation with the moms of the couple being celebrated. So there was no reason to be exhausted... except I was in a room full of people I didn't know for a few hours. It makes my heart race and I get nervous and anxious and awkward. I get a headache and start to feel incredibly overwhelmed when I'm around a large number of people- even if I know them, but more so when I don't know them. If you're a fellow introvert, you understand.

Now that I'm home and texting my husband about the shower and he has convinced me it's okay to let Violet cry in her bed a few minutes while I decompress, I realize something about my past. Most people don't know that when I was in college I took medicine for depression during the first two years. I went to a doctor my freshman year when I wasn't feeling well and he asked me a billion questions and determined that I didn't feel well because I was depressed. He gave me some meds and I took them for a while, then I started having panic attacks so I stopped taking them and switched to different meds, but continued to have panic attacks while in college (although strangely they seemed to stop not long after graduation). Sometime during those first two years I stopped taking the meds. I decided one day that I didn't need them and I quit. (I DO NOT recommend that ANYONE do this without consulting a doctor). I was perfectly fine and haven't taken them since then.

Looking back I don't think I had depression. I think I was overwhelmed by constantly being around so many people my age and it made me anxious and caused symptoms (which explains why the panic attacks stopped not long after graduation). I also think that my need to say no to spending time with friends and staying in bed holed up with a book away from others on occasion was a result of being an introvert, not signs that I was depressed. What's even more interesting to me is that as I progressed in my studies of my major (speech communication)- let's all laugh about that for a second- I became more and more aware of my personality and that I was an introvert and that knowledge along with the rest of what I was learning in my classes helped me learn to manage life so that I could survive without giving myself a nervous breakdown. This is my first time to ever look back and realize that all of my "symptoms" of depression were the same things that let me know I'm an introvert. I do believe that depression is a very real thing that some people struggle with, but I no longer believe that it is something I once struggled with.

Did you know that knowledge is a spiritual gift? I didn't. The above realization came through knowledge. God changed my life through that knowledge. It was a gift and it's one that continually changes me. I bring this up because I just got back the results from a spiritual gift survey I did and guess what gift I scored highest on? Yep: knowledge. I don't claim to know a lot, but I do believe that my understanding of the things I know is a gift from the Lord, and I'm thankful to have it pointed out.

Do you know your spiritual gifts? There are several lists in the Bible- here is one that I haven't read as much as the others.

1 Corinthians 12 (NIV)
12 Now about the gifts of the Spirit, brothers and sisters, I do not want you to be uninformed. You know that when you were pagans, somehow or other you were influenced and led astray to mute idols. Therefore I want you to know that no one who is speaking by the Spirit of God says, “Jesus be cursed,” and no one can say, “Jesus is Lord,” except by the Holy Spirit.
There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit distributes them. There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. There are different kinds of working, but in all of them and in everyone it is the same God at work.
Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good. To one there is given through the Spirit a message of wisdom, to another a message of knowledge by means of the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by that one Spirit, 10 to another miraculous powers, to another prophecy, to another distinguishing between spirits, to another speaking in different kinds of tongues,[a] and to still another the interpretation of tongues.[b] 11 All these are the work of one and the same Spirit, and he distributes them to each one, just as he determines.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

On this day

On this day one year ago I was in labor. I went to a normal OB appointment and didn't get to come home because despite being 3 weeks and 2 days before my due date, I was very much in labor and dilated past 4cm.

I haven't forgotten the pain. I remember how terrible I felt being pregnant. I was sick all of the time. Everything made me worse. I was put on bed rest because of early contractions and started dilating a full month before my child was due. I was completely miserable, and even worse than that, I was scared. I was scared that she wouldn't make it and that it would have all been for nothing. I was scared that I couldn't do it- that labor would be too much for me. And to be honest, I was scared that someday I would look back and regret having a child. I was afraid that it wasn't worth all that I had to go through. Being pregnant, having labor, having morning sickness, having a million tubes in me at the hospital, having my blood pressure taken so much my arms were bruised, and having someone cut through me with a knife and staple me shut- that was the worst pain I have ever been through. It was hell. Recovery was hell.

The thing is, even though I can't fathom worse pain and suffering than what I went through, I would do it again. Even with as vivid of a memory as I have of the worst of it, I still know that I WILL do it again someday. She's worth it. My little Violet is worth every single bit of suffering it took to bring her  into the world.

The more I think about my own beautiful child and her birth, the more I am forced to think of Jesus and how much more suffering He went through so that I could be reborn. The truth is that while the suffering I went through was the closest I know to Hell, it wasn't the real thing. I was never once separated from the Lord. I never had to know for a second what it was like to be without Him. When I was cut and bleeding and in pain I was able to cry out to God and know that He heard me. He heard me because of the suffering of Jesus. That's huge to me. He was broken and bleeding and went through it all just so that He could have a relationship with me. ME. This selfish, whiny, lazy woman who complains about the littlest things. He said I am worth all that He went through. Anyone else think that's some crazy love?

I don't know if I'm connecting the dots as well in words as they appear in my head, but what a picture! My child can be difficult and whiny and downright exhausting. Some days I get frustrated and I know that as she gets older the struggle will continue, but it's worth it. I love her so incredibly much. I would do anything to have a relationship with her. There is nothing she can ever do that would for a second diminish my love for her or longing to have a great relationship with her. After just one year with her, this great mystery of the love God has for me has become so much more clear because I feel that way for her. If I feel so strongly about my child and would be so willing to endure great pain and suffering for her, how much must Jesus love me?

Praise God. One year ago I tasted the punishment for sin, (Gen. 3:16  "To the woman he said, "I will make your pains in childbearing very severe; with painful labor you will give birth to children.") but praise the Lord I don't have to pay the full price. Thank you Jesus for taking that for me. Just as there is only one way for a baby to come out for life and that is through the mother, there was only one way for me to have eternal life and that was through Jesus.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Summer... oh Summer.

 Dear Spring,

I'm burnt out. I give up. You win. I agree that I've taken on too much stuff. Therefore, I'm doing what I do best and walking away from it all. Between the allergies, billion trips to the doctor to make sure it's really just allergies and not something contagious, and the five million excuses and apologies for not showing up because my kid's eyes are crusted together or I sound like I'm dying from emphysema, or we have to go back to the doctor, it's all just too much. I'm looking forward to summer. No more allergies, no more music class, bible study fellowship, MOPS, childcare for the other MOPS group, quilting class, or even MDO. That's right, this summer we are forgoing Mother's Day Out. Violet is big enough to play with other kids now, so I'm just going to set up play dates for her and we will take it easy this summer. I'm done with all of the "mommy" activities (for now). I will continue learning to sew from Pam as often as we can arrange to meet, but that's it. Everything else is on hiatus for summer because this momma just can't keep up. In the Fall I'm thinking the only thing we will be doing is bible study fellowship.I love all of the things we are doing right now, but I couldn't do them all at once for very long without losing my sanity. I hear I need a little bit of that if I want to raise a somewhat stable human being. So today, on the first official day of Spring (as if that even means anything in Texas where it's been Spring off and on for over a month), I give up.

I expected things to be different by now, but they're not really. I thought that by this point I would be a pro. I would have everything together with a schedule full of educational activities to make my baby smart, she would be running around, I would have lost a bunch weight chasing her, and I would have regained my energy and quick thinking from before I had Violet. None of that has happened. She doesn't even walk yet, I'm still fat, can barely keep up with what day of the week it is, and just started our first "educational activity" a few days ago. By the way, DK's "My First Words" touch and feel picture cards are awesome. Violet really gravitates to them. (Purchased on Amazon).

Yeah. As it turns out, I'm not quite the mom I thought I would be. All of my visions of my sweet baby playing in the room we went to so much trouble to paint and decorate were just dreams: we never play in her room. It's just a place where laundry baskets full of clothes that never get put away go to die.

That's okay. I am in the process of changing our busy life so that maybe this summer, we might actually spend the afternoon playing in her room. It could happen.Oh Summer. I'm ready.

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Good Enough Mommy

I don't make any claims to being a great mom. Honestly, I'm not trying to be a great mom. I'm happy with good enough. Anyone who knows me at all, (or for that matter has read this blog at all) probably already knows that. I'm not a perfectionist and never have been.

 All I've ever tried to be is good enough. When I was younger that seemed like an impossible standard because I was judging good enough by what I perceived were others' expectations (which I don't believe we can ever really meet). Now, I take a much more reasonable approach. I aspire to good enough for me, and good enough for God. This is a big shift in priorities. First off, it's a huge load off my shoulders because there is no guess work involved. I know what I expect, and I know what God expects. Even better, I have Jesus standing for me in front of God. That gives me freedom. 

As far as meeting my own expectations, well, that part is awesome. It means I give myself permission to be who God created me to be. God created me to be at home. He created me to be a mom. He created me to cook and sew and take care of the grocery shopping and manage the household accounts and schedule.

Right now I'm learning a skill I've wanted for my entire life- the ability to sew. After years of desire,small gifts of experience along the way, and miraculously two sewing machines given to me, God has graciously placed in my life two very different ladies and both with the willingness to teach me. One is teaching me to quilt and the other is teaching me to sew clothes and mend them. I don't aspire to be a great seamstress or to use my skill for profit, I just want to be able to make the most of my family's wardrobe, create useful gifts for friends and family, and someday pass the skill on to my own children. I don't have to do things perfectly. Not every stitch has to be exactly right and if I mess up a little here or there, so long as it doesn't compromise the integrity of the garment, who cares? Not me. If you are looking at my baby's outfit close enough to notice my sewing imperfections, you are probably looking too close at my baby. I'm good with good enough.

I had intended to make this post completely different and write a controversial piece about "Easter" and my beliefs about how it's wrong to teach our children pagan customs. (If you research the origins of "Easter" you quickly find  that all sorts of familiar customs and even the name Easter have nothing to do with the resurrection and were later "Christianized"). While I would never defend the merging of one of the holiest Christian holidays with clearly pagan customs, I don't see reason in arguing the point either. While the customs were pagan, no one to my knowledge is still worshiping the goddess of fertility that Easter celebrates, or at least they aren't around here- which means that the holiday is no longer glorifying that pagan god. So the real issue isn't the origins of the traditions of the holiday, but rather how we glorify God in all that we do.

That is where good enough isn't good enough. I can let a lot of things slide in life. My home can be good enough, my food can taste good enough, my skills can be good enough, but our lives cannot merely be good enough. I can't "Christianize" the customs of the world and call it good enough. We have to be different. My little Violet must stand out because she was called to live a life "set apart." If I'm going to be a good enough mom, I have to train her to live like she doesn't belong here.What is the difference between the basketful of chocolate crosses and the basketful of chocolate bunnies? None. Let's not kid ourselves. Will my child decorate eggs? Will she participate in an egg hunt? I don't know yet. I can guarantee if she does, it won't be on resurrection Sunday, and it will be for a purpose that glorifies God.

For me, good enough is when we listen to the Holy Spirit's convictions and live accordingly.  I choose to live intentionally and with conviction. Good enough is not compromising God's standards of holiness, but rather compromising my standards of mediocrity and rising to be set apart according to His calling.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

To Know and Follow Hard After You

I was privileged to have a high school experience unlike any other. I came out with an excellent education, a decent amount of confidence, a great spiritual foundation, and one very good friend. Despite this, I would not, if given the chance, want to relive any of my high school years. (I would, however, like a video recording of all my history classes with Mrs.Allen- those videos would be worth more than their weight in gold).

I was even more privileged to attend a university where I found unexpected friends, mentors, and a whole side of myself that I think I had refused to believe existed before because it didn't fit the expectations of my culture.When I embraced this side of myself, I lost part of the old me. Some of the old me needed to be cast off because it wasn't genuine, but part of it was good and that's the part I'm now hoping to regain.

I don't think about my past often. (Or at least I don't anymore). I've made peace with the bad parts, accepted the good parts, and moved on. I have been happily living in the present and looking to the future for the past few years. What has me on this nostalgia train is music.

I've loved music since the day I was born. When I became a christian and my family started going to church regularly, I found great joy in the worship music of that time (starting in 1998). I learned about the great lengths of the love of God from Third Day's "Love Song." I was humbled by "We Fall Down"-( which is also the only song I ever learned to play on the guitar). I remember getting to church early and standing in a dark, empty auditorium singing to the Lord. I was always singing. In praise band, ensemble, and youth choir at church, and then in praise band and choir at school (not to mention at the top of my lungs in the car, humming down the hallways, and in my room with the headphones on).

When I went to college I still listened to music a lot, but I stopped singing as much. Then, when I graduated and got married, I almost stopped listening and singing altogether. The past five years have been the only five of my life void of music.

But, recently that has changed. Since coming back to Longview and finding Oakland Heights, I  feel like a slow fire has been building, reigniting my passion for the Lord and at the same time, for music.

How does all of this tie together? This slowly building fire reminds me of the passion I had when I was younger (particularly in high school). I don't want to go back to high school, but I do want the fire back. I've spent the last several hours listening to the same worship music I did in high school. I miss the music. I miss the worship within the music. I miss the boldness I had then (well, it was bold for ME). I mean, I stood on a stage to sing to the Lord. ME. I did that. That doesn't sound at all like me now, but I want it to.

Give me one pure and holy passion
Be my magnificent obsession
Give me one glorious ambition for my life
To know and follow hard after You

To know and follow hard after You
To grow as Your disciple in Your truth
This world is empty, pale and poor
Compared to knowing You my Lord
Lead me on, and I will run after You

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Real Life Mommy

I feel like I'm finally getting into the swing of this whole mommy thing.

My child is old enough to make a giant mess at every meal, warrant a bath every day (sometimes more than one a day), I'm too busy to actually bathe her every day, she is fascinated with dropping things, screaming, and dumping out everything. Violet has acquired the ability to make a nice neat stack of toys a giant mess is less than five minutes, and immediately afterwards completely loses interest in her toys, and instead starts examining the floor for dirt and trash (which is always abundant). She does most of this while smiling, babbling, giggling, and making my heart melt.

This is the mommy life I read about. What's funny is that as exhausting as it can be, it's SOOO GOOD. I know my floor is dirty (even though I scrubbed it on hands and knees a few days ago). I know the laundry is piled up on the couch. Even though we do at least one load a day, we only catch up all the dishes about once a week. The "dining" table is inevitably the place we pile books and sewing stuff, and the bathroom floor still has last week's mail on it. (Because who hasn't gone out to check the mail only to realize they had to use the bathroom RIGHT THEN, and proceeded to read the mail on the toilet? This is real life people.)

 I LOVE taking her to grocery store. Sure, she gets bored after a while and wants to be held, and plays with my keys and drops them a thousand times, but she also gets excited when a stranger smiles back at her and smiles when I show her different fruits and vegetables as I put them in the cart. She babbles at me as I tell her about what I'm buying and what we will make with it. Someday she is going to be my favorite shopping partner. I know, because every time I take her with me (along with the inconvenience), I show her that I care about her. I show her that shopping is a special time to talk to mommy. I show her that it can be fun, rewarding, and economical :) I could choose to shop when I wouldn't need to take her with me, but most of the time I don't.

 Real life as a mommy has required some adjustments to my parenting ideas. I've thrown out so many of the things I've said I would never do. I've embraced the season that we are in and whatever makes that season more enjoyable. So that means she isn't in cloth diapers everyday (although we do still use them regularly), we eat cereal puffs from the can, we adore anything that can be picked up with little fingers that isn't messy, and we like the idea of applesauce in a squeezable pouch. It means that we don't always read a story before bed, she doesn't always wear pajamas, and at home, she doesn't always even wear pants.

Real life mommy holds to only one real belief as far as parenting goes and that is to train my child in the way that she should go. Not train her one way, then train her another way, then another. Our life is messy and imperfect, and that's okay. She goes where we go. She eats what we eat. She starts out how we want her to continue on.

It's a beautiful mess.

Friday, January 24, 2014

Don't wait 5 months to fill in your kid's baby book

So tonight I'm doing something I should have been doing all along: writing in Violet's baby book. As it turns out, she is almost ten months old, and I haven't written in it since she was three months! Luckily with social media and dates on pictures (plus my lovely little blog here), it's not that hard to piece together what happened when and fill in the blanks.

It's been a nice little jog down memory lane. I have a hard time digesting just how much she has changed from this little "thing" to a sweet little girl who has personality and likes and dislikes. Four months ago it was a big deal that we could sit her up, and she could stay that way without any help. Today she started trying to let go and stand without holding on to anything. I realized about a week ago that I probably need to start thinking about what we're going to do for her first birthday party. Yikes!

Some days I think it's all happening too fast, and I long for the little baby who just wanted to be held and sleep in my arms. I feel like I let that time slip away some, wishing for her to be more like she is now. Tonight as I remember each stage and little milestone she has made, I am seeing better how each stage has its precious moments that need to be embraced. I hope that I get better at writing in Violet's baby book, but if not, I hope at least that I can learn to slow down and not wish for what is behind or ahead, but instead enjoy the moment we're in.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

A resolution worth keeping.

I don't know if I've mentioned it here, but many know that Cameron and I have found a new home church where I think we will be better plugged in. We joined Oakland Heights Baptist a week and a half ago officially. The first time we visited we left and both admitted that it felt like home.

Growing up I really felt like my church was my home. I was there ALL the time. If they would have let me, I would have kept a sleeping bag there and just moved in. Anytime the door was open I was there. Sunday mornings, Sunday evenings, Tuesdays for visitation, Wednesdays for youth group, Friday nights for hangout, and Saturdays when there were events going on. I was always there early, and I always stayed late. My Sunday School teachers were my mentors and my church friends were my REAL friends. They were the ones who knew as much about me as I knew about myself. I loved being involved and feeling like I belonged there.

In college I was adopted into a church that helped me through those years when I was really learning about myself and growing into a woman. I met older women who spoke to me as an equal and treated me with dignity. I had so many people open up their homes and families to me. It was the place I felt most comfortable and wanted.

Since we moved to Longview I've never really felt like I had that sense of home again. Oakland Heights brought that feeling back for me. What's more, is that it makes me want to be that person I was before (not exactly because God has brought me a long way and taught me so much that I wouldn't want to lose)- I want to be the person who doesn't just go to church, but is actually connected to the church. I want to be involved. I want to take ownership, and I want to feel like a contributing member of a community of believers.

One thing I'm very sorry to admit is that since college I just haven't been in the Bible like I should. While I do believe that my relationship with the Lord has grown in many ways and even during our darker moments I've maintained communication with the Lord, I'm ready to return to His word. I'm ready to remember what it's like to study scripture. I'm serious about my resolution to dig into scripture and meditate on the word of God.

To that end, I was blessed to be invited to go to Bible Study Fellowship (look it up online if you aren't familiar- it's awesome). Part of BSF is getting in the word and studying along with answering a few questions six days a week. This past week I only did it two days. I have about a million excuses for that. None of them are really great. The truth is I'm rusty. It's been a long time since I really was in the word and the truth is that it's mentally taxing. I refuse to beat myself up over it. This past week I spent time studying God's word twice. (Note that studying and reading are NOT the same thing- I've done plenty of reading since college). I hope to increase my time studying this week.

Feel free to help keep me on track. I want to meditate on scripture. Satan would much rather I stay up late watching old episodes of Boy Meets World. The things I do instead of reading scripture are not in themselves bad things, but when they replace my time in the word, they become bad things.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

How can our love go wrong if we start the new year right?

The title is a line from a song by Irving Berlin performed in The Holiday Inn (my favorite movie of all time). There is a great New Years Eve song in the musical that I just love and it always sticks in my head this time of year.

I've been thinking a lot lately about how different things are from last year. New Years 2013 we were in San Antonio, missing friends (especially my mommy), and I was miserably pregnant. Cameron was working long hours and I was alone a lot. We were looking forward to coming home to Longview and rejoining our group of friends and church. I don't think we had any idea what we were really coming back to and how much ten months away had changed not only Longview and the people here, but us too.

This year we are starting out as a family of three. We have a different vehicle, new friends, and a new church home. Cameron has a new job that allows him to be home during the day with us and all day on Sundays. It is such a refreshing change to know that I will get to see my husband every day and to have the assurance that once a week he has a full day off. No more traveling. It's been fantastic for us. We are better together. Money is tight, but so is our family. I think it's better that way.

We both have goals for this next year in several areas of life, but the one I am most interested in pursuing is this:

"This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it, For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success." Joshua 1:8

This little gem is sandwiched between the more popular "be strong and courageous" admonition (it is said twice- vs.6 and vs.9). I feel like there is always emphasis on the "be strong and courageous" part, however, I've never really noticed the call to meditate on scripture with the promise of success in this passage. I probably skimmed over it in the past. This year, I want to be intentional about reading God's word and meditating on it. I don't want to skim over anything anymore.

God has given me an abundant life. No more skimming over God's word (or life for that matter). Let's start the new year right :)