Tuesday, March 5, 2013

You have value because...

Value- noun: worth, merit or importance.
          verb: to consider with respect to worth, excellence, usefulness, importance

Over the last few months, I've been learning what it means to have value. My friend Kelly and I talk of it often. We both have such a desire in our hearts to serve the people around us and feel as if it is a calling in our lives. We do this in different ways, but the purpose remains the same. To speak value into their lives so they walk away from our interactions encouraged and uplifted.

A little back story:
Kelly and I came to know each other through our Scentsy businesses, but through God's divine nature, have come to a place of unique and precious friendship. In fact, if someone were to listen to our phone calls and the 90 mile a minute, talk over but still understand each other, completely random conversations, they'd need a nap and be convinced we needed serious help. :) But that's what I love about our friendship. Even though we live states apart, we're the best of friends with an understanding of the other's level of crazy and we don't judge each other for it. We can agree to disagree and love each other when it's needed most. While we talk of many things including family and business, we tend to somehow always come back to learning and talking of new ways we can be lights in the lives of those around us. This is how the conversations of value began.

Learning what Value means:
The idea of value and what it means for my life came full circle just a couple short weeks ago. I'd been asked to speak at a Scensty event in Little Rock in front of close to 800 people. I was terrified. Kelly and I talked so many times about what we'd talk about and how we'd like to come across as she was also speaking at an event in Ohio. She was also terrified. We wanted what we spoke about not only to be useful in the businesses of those we were speaking to, but we also both desired to instill value in some way.
After the event, I had such immense pride for conquering such a huge fear and it's amazing what power can fill one's spirit when that happens. When I came home, we talked about our experiences and once again, the conversation came back to value. I desire so much to be of value in other's lives and have been spending much time in prayer about what that truly means.
It was during that conversation that I heard God speak to my  heart and tell me what being of true value means and that's really what I want to share with you in this post. This is what He said...

We are people born in His image. Every single one of us. We are born sinful, but through His grace, we have life. In ourselves, we have no value, but it is through our relationship and love for our Heavenly Father that our value is found. You see, He fills us with value the moment we seek His place in our lives. Here's the important part, so pay attention! :)
We are not filled with value so that WE can be awesome. It is not for us to show the world how great WE are. I am not filled with value so that I can be great. We are filled with value so that THROUGH us, God can be awesome. We are filled with value so that THROUGH us, God can show how great HE is. How incredible is this? 

The fact is, in ourselves, we often feel like we're not good enough. We may not feel smart enough, brave enough or capable enough. Some times, our past tries to define who we are and tell us that we aren't valuable and we have nothing to give. In ourselves, we don't have anything to offer, but it is through our amazing Savior, that every single one of us have immense value and the purpose of that value is to give it away.

YOU, yes YOU, are valuable! You have value because you are filled with value to be spoken or shown into the people around you. Not to hold inside. Not to make yourself great, not so you can be awesome, but to give it away in that doing so, God can show just how awesome He is.

So I challenge us today to pray about the value we hold. To learn to desire to use our value to be a light into the people we come into contact with every single day. Your value may be different from mine, but if we both decide to let our awesome God show His glory THROUGH our value, my my, how much better would this world be?


Saturday, February 9, 2013

A recipe for your sweet tooth...

A very creative friend who is quite the master in the kitchen posted a recipe for a  no-bake chocolate oatmeal ball today that looked oh so tasty! ( you can find her beautiful blog here)
 I had decided that they would be my afternoon craft for the day when I realized that I didn't have one of the ingredients she had listed in her recipe. Stinkers!
It didn't detour me long, however, because I couldn't get them off my mind. My husband was on a run, the girls were happily playing with play doh and I had nothing else to do, so off to the kitchen I went.
Below you'll find the recipe born from the need for something chocolaty. It is the perfect mix of chocolate and coffee which brings about a super yummy mocha flavor. Simple and tasty. Doesn't get much better! Thank you Amy for the inspiration!

Mocha Oat Balls with white Velata Drizzle:

1 stick of butter (softened)
1.5 cups of powdered sugar
1 Tbls. Vanilla
4 Tbls. Cocoa Powder
1.5 cups oats
2 Tbls. Strong coffee
1 pkg. of Velata in white chocolate

Mix butter, sugar and vanilla until well blended and creamy.
Stir in cocoa powder. Once combined, add in oats and coffee.
Mix well and form into balls and place onto wax paper. Place in freezer for 10 min. to set.
Once set, place Velata in microwave for 30 second increments until melted.
Unscrew cap and drizzle chocolate over the top of the balls and place back in the freezer and let chocolate set.
Then, try not to eat them all :)

I think next time we'll be trying Velata in dark chocolate for our drizzle and may just throw in a handful of mini chips for an added level of texture.
You could also roll the balls in powdered sugar or coconut before placing in the freezer if it tickled you. :)
If you try this recipe, please let me know! I'd love to hear about it!

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

So I started to vent...

Over the last month or so, I've been 'chewing' on something that I've been hesitant to share. The more I chewed, the more I saw it happening around me, the more comfortable I became with just keeping the thought to myself. More in an effort not to hurt feelings than anything else.
After talking to a sweet friend today, she encouraged me to share it and maybe in a moment of 'oh what the heck', here I am. :)
Saying that, let me preface this blog with a note saying that it's contents are not directed towards any one certain person. If it's for anyone, it's for me.
In late December, I found myself becoming overwhelmed with everything going on around me. The holidays, my leadership responsibilities, my family responsibilities and so on. If you knew me personally, you would know that I tend to be a high stress person but you won't necessarily see it's affects on me unless you live in my house. When anxiety hits, it's runs my life.
I think we can all agree that when we feel overwhelming feelings such as these, it can feel so good to vent. We pick a person to lay everything on the table with and just pour out every gripe, complaint, or frustration we have about the person or situation.
 It was in one of these moments of pure 'GRRRRR'' that I started to type a text to my best friend and 'vent' about a certain something. I started to vent and express my grievance and something suddenly struck me."What in heaven's name are you doing?" I asked myself. (I'm going with God on this one. Seems like something He would trying to get my attention on) ;)
Now, I've vented many times before. I would probably say I'm a semi-pro, but I've never been really stopped and thought  about what it was I was actually doing. The more and more I thought about it, the more I realized that maybe this venting thing isn't all it's cracked up to be.
First let's look at our victims (aka the people we're venting to). When we start sharing our thoughts so forcefully on them, we are putting them in 1 of 2 positions. Either the agree with us and we still like them or they disagree and we are now mad at them for not agreeing with us. Fair to do to someone who was probably just eating a bowl a cereal and mistakenly answered our phone call? Probably not.
Next let's look at ourselves. We are also putting ourselves in 1 or 2 positions. Either they agree with us and 'further our cause' really only making us more upset about the situation because we now feel justified or they disagree and again, now we're frustrated about something else.
Don't get me wrong. I definitely think there is a time and place when sharing frustrations can be the right thing to do, especially is we are seeking resolution. But I would also say 9 times out of 10, we just want to be miserable and want to invite others to our pity party.
What good is actually coming from this thing called the 'vent'? Is our problem being solved? Are we open to advice that we'd actually take? Or are we just using this moment to speak ill of someone when truly, our words are meant for building up?
I see this each and every day and especially on social networking sites. Those who feel they have a right to displace their anger or frustration on anyone willing to listen which again, only turns out one of the 2 ways listed above. Who are we to do that to other people and ourselves?

So this is my challenge to you and to myself.  Next time we find ourselves picking up the phone to call or text, logging on to Facebook or as our spouse walks through the door, ready to 'vent', let's just not.
Let's take a step back, really look at what we're about to say or do and decide whether it is something that will add value to either our lives or the person who's getting ready to have a rain of frustration poured all over them. Are we doing ourselves justice? Are we doing them justice? Are we doing the person were venting about justice? If we don't have anything nice to say, let's just not say it at all.
 Let's choose to find constructive ways to channel these feelings that will actually solve our problems instead of creating new ones. Let's find ourselves saying, " So I started to vent....and I just stopped."

 So, chosen by God for this new life of love, dress in the wardrobe God picked out for you: compassion, kindness, humility, quiet strength, discipline. Be even-tempered, content with second place, quick to forgive an offense. Forgive as quickly and completely as the Master forgave you. And regardless of what else you put on, wear love. Colossians 3:12-14

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Why I chose to talk to them about it...

The past 4 days have been numbing for so many. None more than those who lost children on Friday. We all stand confused and unsure and angry trying to make sense from the senseless.
As soon as I saw the news Friday, I began thinking about how we would handle talking about it with our daughters. I assumed Kate would hear about it at school and figured the questions would come as soon as she was in the car, but they didn't come. She hadn't heard and I was thankful. I was thankful that I would be able to be the one to share with her what had happened in Connecticut that same morning.
I've had friends and acquaintances who have talked to their children about it and those who are choosing not to and those who can't decide.
I thought I might share with you why I did.
Friday after Abby came home from PreK and I turned the news on, my heart and mind were just in a weird stage of shock. At first disbelief maybe, but then tears began to flood my eyes. I felt utter urgency to begin praying. I went to where Abby was and sat down with her, fighting through tears to tell her what happened in a way a 4 year old could understand. I told her that a man who wasn't very nice went and hurt many little girls and boys and their teacher and they needed us to pray for them. We held hands and prayed together. Abby asked why I was crying and I told her my heart was hurting for the mommies and daddies and that we needed to remember them when we talked to Jesus. Why put this burden of prayer on a 4 year old? One of the most important things we are trying to teach our daughters is compassion. She's 4 and so she'll only understand so much of what's going on, but I felt in that moment that it was important to teach her that when we see the need for prayer around us, we need to respond. After we prayed, she went on about her happy little self and probably didn't think anything else of it.
Later that day when my oldest came home from school, I was expecting her to jump in the car with a pocket full of questions, worry and concern. She is almost 8 and is very tenderhearted and I knew if she'd heard, she'd want to talk about it, but she hadn't and she didn't.
Once we were home, I sat her down to talk to her. No, I didn't want to implant that worry and concern into her heart when it wasn't there already, but I knew she'd find out at church on Sunday or school on Monday and I wanted to be the one to answer her questions.
I explained what had happened and in a little more detail with her than Abby. We didn't talk about gory details, just the basics and I let her ask questions and I answered as best I could. After I felt she understood as best she could for the circumstances, I explained to her that I felt there were 2 reasons I felt she should know. The first and foremost so she would be a prayer warrior for the families and friends. That as a family, we could bring them before God asking Him to bring them comfort only He could bring.
Secondly though, I wanted her to be prepared. Yes, you could say this is erring on the side of paranoia,  but I felt this was an opportunity to give Kate some guidance as to what to do if this were ever something she and her friends were faced with. I pray they never do. I pray it's never something she even has to consider, but just as we teacher them about stranger danger and stop, drop and roll, I felt the need to teach her what to do in this scenario if she has the ability to react. We talked about hiding and we talked about lying down. We talked about being very quiet and listening to what our teacher is telling us. We talked about calming our friends down and praying. It is so sad to me that it even has to become a topic in our home, but it has and so we take the moment to learn and to teach.
I realize that this won't be the right thing for every family, but I feel it's right for ours.
Each morning when I send my sweet little ones to school, I always pray for God's safety and angels around them, that they are a blessing and be blessed. I've prayed it everyday since the very first day they went to school and I will never stop. My job as my daughter's mother is to protect their minds, their bodies, their souls and their hearts and I will always do what I can to do this.
 This is why I chose to talk to them about it.

Friday, November 2, 2012

So I woke with a song in this heart of mine...

And it goes like this, "It's beginning to rain, hear the voice of my Father. He's saying who so ever will, come and drink of My water. He's promised to pour His spirit out on your sons and your daughters. If you're thirsty and dry, look up to the sky. It's beginning to rain."
What makes this different is that I haven't heard this song in some time. It's not one I'm typically drawn to, but none the less, I woke up singing it.
As it replayed in my head, I realized that this may be my God speaking to my heart, whispering His promises to my mind. I knew then that today would be a good day.
Over the last 2 weeks, I have struggled. Emotionally, physically, mentally just not been in a good place. I felt like I was doing a lot of giving and not receiving in all 3 of those areas and it left me drained. I spent many of those days in almost tears because I felt hopeless.
During the last month I heard God give me clear direction in a few areas that I was being called to be obedient in. I learned through the process how selfish a person I really am and when being called to be fully unselfish, I don't handle it well, but I was trying. I knew during this time that God was trying to bring me out of myself so I could become fully immersed in His plan for my life. There were moments of frustration and bitterness, but all the while, knowing I had to do what I was doing. Problem was, I wasn't doing it with the attitude I should have been and that, my friends, was not okay.
Wednesday of this week, everything came to a head. We were notified early last month that our home was deemed to be in a Zone A Flood zone and because of that FEMA was mandating that we obtain flood coverage. Wednesday afternoon I received a call from a friend with our insurance company to tell me that this coverage would be costing us right at $3,000 annually. That was it. I was done. While that alone didn't make me fall apart, it was the straw that broke this camel's back and I lost it.
Sobbing, I called the one person I knew could uplift and love on me in that moment. I felt defeated in every area of my life. My personal life, my business life, my spiritual life. Everything felt like it was just crashing.
Kelly spoke some words that supportive words of love and some were words of honesty that I needed to just go ahead and swallow. I will be 100% honest and tell you that I was questioning God. I was essentially saying to Him, "Listen, you've told me to do these things and I'm doing them and I'm not seeing anything from it! Not only am I not seeing anything, but things are getting worse!" Holy cow! Who did I think I was? Even when I said it, I knew it was wrong, but I didn't care.
Later that evening I had to go to church and teach my Jr. Youth kids. I didn't want to. I was upset, my day was aweful, and I just didn't want to go and have to be 'happy', but I did.
The lesson Wednesday night was on the Israelites and the 12 spies. You see, these were God's children and God had some good stuff in store for them, but because of their unwillingness to wait and trust God, they cheated themselves out of amazing blessings. Some never even getting to experience those blessings and some having to wait many, many years before they even had a glimpse of what it was God had waiting that entire time.
In the middle of the lesson, I smirked to myself realizing that this night, I wasn't there to teach those kids about spies, I was there to teach myself about God's timing, His faithfulness and my unwillingness to fully trust.
After service, we talked to our pastors and asked them to be in prayer about the flood insurance issue with us, that God would intervene. My pastor's wife and friend spoke encouraging words to my heart and on the way home, I decided that I would start preparing my praise report for that issue right then and continue to prepare it until the time came to share it. The rest of the evening was filled with continued battles that left me emotionally lifeless by the end of the night.
Thursday I woke up with a better attitude. I read my verse of the day and it was Luke 11:10-13 "Don’t bargain with God. Be direct. Ask for what you need. This is not a cat-and-mouse, hide-and-seek game we’re in. If your little boy asks for a serving of fish, do you scare him with a live snake on his plate? If your little girl asks for an egg, do you trick her with a spider? As bad as you are, you would not think of such a thing—you’re at least decent to your own children. And don’t you think the Father who conceived you in love will give the Holy Spirit when you ask him?”

Yes Lord! I hear you! That was very clear. That was for me in that moment. He's renewal in my Spirit that He was there and He did have a will and He did have a purpose and I had a purpose.
Continuing in praise report preparation, I went through my day trying not to worry and to do the things I knew to do.
Then we get to today. I woke with that song on my heart ready for day and ready for God's purpose.
A couple of hours ago, I got a phone call from our insurance girl Jennifer. I missed it, but quickly sent her a text to see what was up. Oh my goodness! :D What amazing news it was! She did some work (that we are so grateful for) and was able to get our flood insurance coverage dropped from that almost $3,000 to $931 annually! THAT is the kind of God I serve! THAT is my God who is reminding me that HE is in control. THAT is the God who, even in our disobedience, desires to love on us and meet our needs. THAT is MY God!
This may not seem like the miracle to you that it is to me, but that's okay. It's not your miracle. :)
My whole attitude is different now. I'm thankful that God knows I'm weak and loves me despite it. I've apologized and asked for forgiveness and am trying to begin again.
You see, I can't walk in obedience expecting reward. I must walk in obedience in faith that whatever the reason I'm being called to walk, that there is purpose and a great one and that the 'reward' the Father may have for me may not be in the shape or form I'm expecting, but something even greater. While the physical blessing that came from this week was the affect on that insurance, the mental and spiritual blessings were greater. I am renewed and revived and while I'm disappointed in how I acted earlier this week, I'm excited to begin again and work to walk in obedience in what He's called me to do. Excited to drink of that water. Excited to see His Spirit poured out over my soul. Excited to stand in the rain!

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

So there is this girl from Germany...

I know it's been a while since I've checked in and so forgive me for that! Once my littles were out of school, everything went haywire! :) The good news is that over the summer, my journey through weight loss continued and I am now officially down 37lbs since May. Amazing how much better I feel and look and I'm thankful for the encouragement and support of my awesome friends cheering me along the way. 20 to go and I'll be where I want to be. Feels so within reach!

So a lot has changed for my family over the last week. We went from being a family of 4 to a family of 5 and it all happened in the blink of an eye. Many have asked how and why it happened and so I thought the best place to share it would be here, where I can take you through the journey with us.

Before the school year began, we were asked if we would consider becoming a host family for a foreign exchange student by a good friend who was placing in our area. To be honest, the thought terrified me! I talked to Josh and be both decided that we really didn't think it was something we could do between schedules etc, so we declined.
Jump ahead four weeks and we land on last Saturday, the 8th. Lisa, my friend I mentioned before, send me a message that I could tell was filled with concern. She was coming to us sharing the story of a young girl who was going to need somewhere to stay. She had been placed with a host family and it just wasn't going to work out. She was truly not getting a good representation of a typical American home. She needed and was going to be pulled from it. She asked if we would consider taking her in and again, that chord of fear struck my heart. I mean, there would just be no way we could do it, but I told her we would be praying and looking for God's guidance in the situation. Problem was, it needed to be a quick one!

That Sunday morning  I went to my close friend and asked her to pray for us in this situation. That God's plan would be crystal clear with no room for misunderstanding. Little did we know how crystal clear He would make it. That morning, the pastor spoke on obeying God even when we might get uncomfortable with what He's asking. It caught my attention, but I didn't necessarily feel like it spoke to this situation.
As the day went on, Josh and I teased that it would be nice to meet the student and 'try her out' to see if she's be a match for our family without any pressure on us or her. Obviously, you can't really do that...unless you have a big God.

The next day I got a frantic phone call from Lisa asking if there was any way I could go pick this student, Maja (pronounced Maya) up from her host home and let her stay at my house for a few hours until she got home. Her host mother did not want her there any longer and Lisa was at the doctors office and couldn't get away to go and get her. My afternoon was free and so I agreed. I quickly drove over to pick up a visibly saddened girl who needed someone. She got in the car and started crying which then led me to cry because, well, that's what I do. :) I patted her leg and reassured her that all would be well. I can only imagine being her mom half a world away in that moment. How scared would I be if this was my little girl?
Maja spent the afternoon with us only thinking that we were just friends of Lisa's doing her a favor. She had no clue we were considering taking her in. The girls loved her, she was quiet, sweet, spoke English well, was curious about God and our religion.
She left later that afternoon and as I talked to Josh, we remembered the comment we'd made the day before about wishing we could have a test run and that's exactly what had just happened. We were able to 'try her out' without any pressure on our family or on her.
As the night went on, we talked more and I decided to jump into my Bible to hopefully find some direction and peace on what we should do. Now, I kid you not when I tell you that this was the verse my quiet time was over that day. "Put into practice what you have learned from me, what you have heard and saw and realized. Do that and God who makes everything work together will work you in His most excellent harmonies."
I read it to Josh and I think it was then we realized that between that verse, the test run that afternoon and our pastor's message the morning before, we may just have our answer. We decided then that we would be asking Maja if she would like to come and live with us over the next year.
The story doesn't end here though. I went to bed that night knowing what the answer was. Seeing clearly what God desired of us even though it scared me. I barely slept and when I got up the next morning, I questioned God. I just couldn't believe He was placing us with this charge.
Before I began my quiet time, I asked Him to reassure me so it was beyond the shadow of a doubt what He wanted. This was what my verse was that day. "You were sure of yourselves then. It's still a sure thing! But you need to stick it out, staying with God's plan so you'll be there for the promised completion."
Holy cow! Honestly! I don't think I've ever had God speak to me through Scripture like this before. It was just an unreal experience.
Later that day, although still nervous, but seeing the plan ahead, I told Lisa that we'd like to welcome Maja into our home if she'd have us. She told Maja and from what I understand, she jumped up and hugged her, so excited to be coming to stay here.
We spent the next 2 days moving my littlest one into the bigger one's room and giving Maja her very own room. On Thursday, we officially welcomed her 'home'.
It was upon telling one of my closest friend's this story yesterday how over this summer God kept bringing to be the idea of 'you've been blessed, so I'm calling you to be a blessing' to me over and over. Through sermons, quiet times, Sunday school, songs, etc. That single thought replayed and replayed and I kept asking God to show me why I needing to be paying attention to this. Was there someone in our lives we needed to help? Who was it? I would think it was one person and then that would pass. It left me very confused because I knew it was for me, but wasn't seeing where I needed to be using it. Now I see that God was solely preparing my heart for this moment in our lives.

I can't tell you how thrilling and terrifying it is to be in this place. A place of knowing we're exactly where God wants us to be, but also being so unsure of myself and my role in it. One thing I do know is that if God has brought us here, He will carry us through and it will be with an amazing journey along the way.

I ask that you, my friends, keep our family and especially sweet Maja in your prayers as we share our lives together over the next 9 months. Also for her own family as they watch her grow from so far away.
 I'm learning how to 'parent' a teenager, cook for 5, clean for 5 and juggle all the things we have going in our lives for 5. I'm deeply humbled that God saw us fit to take Maja into our home and I'm anxious to see what this year will bring for our new family of 5.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Why there won't be an after...

Typically when one is trying to lose weight gained over time and get in better shape, you have pictures of the person you were before and the person you are after. Well, there won't be an after for this girl.
When I started this challenge, honestly, it was just to see if I could make it for 2 weeks. I never thought I'd make it through all 6. When week 3 started, I thought, "you can do this for 2 weeks again!" and so I did. Right now, I'm 8 weeks into my journey.
What I am doing is not a diet. Diet is such an ugly word. What I am doing  have done is changed the way I feel and think about food. It's not the center of my universe. It is my energy, my fuel, my sidekick, not my comfort. Comfort is lower numbers on the scales and new clothes.While I will definitely take a picture of what I look like when I get to my goal, I won't be calling it my 'after' picture. After is defined by 'following an event or time'. What I am doing is my life now. Its the way I'll always live. I feel awesome from the inside out and no burger or pizza is worth taking that away from me. I don't want to just be thinner, I want to be fit. I want to be healthy- body, mind and soul.
So maybe I'll find a new name for it. Suggestions are always welcome and you're definitely welcome to say 'man, doesn't she look great after losing all that weight!' After is most welcome in that case. :)
18 down...26 to go to fitness goal.