As a little girl I remember my mom taking my sister and I to Mississippi to see her mom. AKA my Grandma Billie. I loved hanging out with her. She was the fun Grandma. She would take us to yard sales, let us watch the movie “Seven Brides for Seven Brothers” and even go visit her friends. My favorite memory was when she would take us on her newspaper route. As a 7-year-old, I would be in the backseat of her little red truck, rolling up newspapers and wrapping them with rubber bands. My Grandma would then throw the papers onto porches. She could land them in the exact spot every time. But I had to get out often to put them on porches. Mostly because when I threw the papers they would land next to the truck or bounce off a random object. I thought she had the coolest job in the world. She was so interesting to spend time with. Now I’m 28 and my Grandma is no longer like that because she has dementia. During our visit to Mississippi this week, I went to see my Grandma twice. She is now in an assistant living facility. A nice place with sweet people, but to my Grandma it’s a prison. Her own mind is a prison. I sat there looking at the woman with a great arm, struggle to chew her food. The Grandma who used to dance with me, slowly walk across a room with a lack purpose. During our visit we went outside in the courtyard. There was a water fountain my nieces were playing in. My Grandma walked over there and started playing with the girls. I snapped a few pictures because for just a few moments she forgot where she was and smiled. That was the face I remembered. When she was heading back to her chair I grabbed her hand to help her walk around some rose bushes. She stood there a few minutes just holding my hand like a little girl. I didn’t want her to let go. Because I didn’t know if she would even know me the next time I saw her. Side note: At this point my grandma has mini emotional seizures. The doctor calls them that because they’re not real seizures. But when she gets overwhelmed or upset she starts moving like she’s having one. At this point we don’t know if she is doing it on purpose or if it’s emotionally driven. At the end of our visit I walked her back to her room. She opened the door and started crying. She had an emotional seizure earlier and was trying to explain to me what happened. She couldn’t tell me. All she could do was cry. That’s when she said it was all the physical abuse from her second husband that causes her to be like this. She felt hopeless and confused. In that moment I wrapped her in my arms. My grandma stood there crying on my shoulder like a child. A scared child who wanted to understand. To be loved and comforted. I sat next to her on the couch and she had another emotional seizure. I slowly talked her through it. I stroked her softly and offered support. Sadly, I had to leave after that. I sat there a few more minutes before I left. Trying to distract her from the overwhelming emotions. All the while trying to hold back tears of my own. I gave her one last hug and walked out of her room. Closing her door was one of the hardest things for me. As I walked down the hall to the lobby…I started wondering if that would be the last time I would see her? Will she know me when I come back for another visit in a few months? My emotions flooded my mind and I began weeping. Thinking how unfair this was. How I just wanted to rescue her in some way. But I knew this was the safest place for her to be. That visit was a reminder of how precious family and people are. It’s not about things, it’s not about big houses and fancy cars. It’s about the legacy you leave behind. The love you give to others. The small moments that can leave a lasting memory for everyone involved. I’m scared that maybe one day my mom will have dementia. Or even I will. It really opens your eyes to what really matters. It opens your eyes to how hard it is on them. I couldn’t imagine what she is going through. Soon, I will be making some big changes in my life. I will reveal them in the upcoming weeks. But seeing my grandmother like that makes me so thankful that I’m taking more time with family. That I’m pouring love into others instead of worrying about what item I can buy for my home. My heart goes out to those who have parents, grandparents or other family members with Dementia or Alzheimer. It’s a cruel way to end life. It’s tough on everyone. I pray for joyful moments for you guys in the midst of heartache. Celebrate the good days. Don’t focus on the bad days. Most importantly, love them the best you can. Visit them often and never forget that you may be them in the future. Be respectful and ask God to help you show grace.
In less than two weeks I went from being a mom of a 2-year-old to being a mom of two elementary school girls and pre teen. It’s been interesting for sure. Among the many changes is dealing with the extra mess.
I’m used to my toddler leaving a mess of toys but glitter, paint and glue is a whole other animal.
I came home last night after work and saw that the girls did some art work. I briefly glanced at their masterpieces because I was too focused on the glitter covering my dining room floor. Honestly, I was mad. Frustrated because I did not want to see the mess. Why didn’t they pick it up?
This morning I woke up and saw the mess again. I was still frustrated because I knew I would be the person to clean it up. I started complaining to myself about the extra work. But then I realized I’m overlooking something. I’m forgetting what this mess represents.
The mess is more than spilled glitter and dry paint. It’s a beautiful, messy picture of kids being kids. Kids that come from a home where they’re used to being the adult. It’s proof that they were having fun in our home.
I started to feel guilty about my attitude towards the mess. Especially knowing that these two little girls will be heading to another foster home tomorrow.
You may not be a foster parent but all parents get frustrated with their kids. With the mess they make while having fun. Even though kids should clean up after themselves…we as parents should not look at it as a negative. But a positive that they are experiencing joy, happiness and love.
If you find yourself frustrated just take a step back and find a positive. Be thankful for those messes. Remember they are temporary. There’s plenty of time to have a clean house when you’re older.
As parents it’s our job to teach kids to learn life skills. Yes, even boring chores. That’s also one thing as foster parents we are called to do. These kids either came from a home where they had to take care of themselves, were never taught how, or maybe they came from a home where their parents did everything for them. But here are some ways we are teaching our 3 foster daughter how to do everyday chores with a twist of fun.
*Side note: When I was a Girl Scout Camp Counselor we had our girls do the same tip of chores after every meal. I would love to say I am smart enough to create these ideas on my own. But it’s all thanks to the Girl Scouts.
“What’s for dinner?” A phrase that parents hear daily from their kids. Instead of letting them watch TV or play have them get involved in the process. This can also help with picky eaters.
(I’m terrible at drawing straight lines on a board.)
I created this chart and assigned each child a different task each night of the week. Once again life skills that everyone needs to know. This way there is no arguing about who does what. They know every night around dinner time this is their job. Kids take these seriously. They get a feeling of satisfaction too when they help out with these chores.
Setting the table: This chore includes setting the table with plates, utensils, napkins, glasses and anything else needs for dinner. For example, if you’re having bakes potatoes for dinner and need butter or other toppings. Then they put that on the table too.
Helping with Dinner: Depending on the child’s age you may want to pick an easy job where they are not chopping veggies or cooking over a hot stove. But if they are old enough you can teach them. If they are a little younger then help them mix, pour or shake. Don’t be afraid to teach them how to prep the meal. Even talking about what foods they are eating, where they came from or how they help our bodies grow. Don’t forget to have them wash their hands before helping. You can also give them a cool apron they get to wear.
Getting Drinks: I was struggling with a third chore but I thought this would be a good one. This person is responsible for making sure everyone has a full glass. So when you sit down at the table everything is ready to go.
Cleaning up after dinner
When I was at Girl Scout camp we had this plastic cup with popsicle sticks inside. So after every meal we would all draw a stick that would list our chore. Everyone would work together to clean up and in about 5 minutes the tables were clean and we were outside singing songs.
Make sure to put these in a plastic cup not a clear one. Otherwise the kids will try to pick their favorite chore. Another tip is to only let the parents hold the cup. So you let them pick but you still have control. That way there are no arguments on who gets to hold the cup. (Yes, that happens a lot.)
Every person has to do their job. If someone gets done early — instead of letting them go off and play — ask them to help the others finish their chores. Adults you should draw a chore too. This helps you guys all work together as a team. You can teach along the way and lead by example. That way you aren’t making them clean everything but you’re also not the only one picking up after everyone else.
Other things you can do is turn on some music. Don’t be afraid to dance or sing into a broom. Have fun and use this time to grow closer as a family.
Moms. What would we do without them? Today is their time to shine. No matter how they became a mom or who calls them mom, it’s a time to recognize their hard work. Here is a great way to encourage a mom in your life.
I host a brunch every month and last weekend I had my sweet ladies participate in an encouraging craft idea. I saw another wife do this for her husband one year. I thought how cool would this be to give moms or ladies a little encouragement throughout their days. I call them encouraging boxes.
What you’ll need:
- Pencil, pens, color pencils
- Scraps of paper
- Bible/Quote book
This super easy craft is something that is sure to bring a smile to a mother’s face. As one of my ladies mentioned last week — it’s also kind of a personal gift to give someone. Something that takes some time and thought.
I made one for a dear friend of mine who is expecting her third child. She wasn’t able to attend the Lady’s Brunch, but usually attends. So we all put in a few quotes, scriptures and encouraging notes.
I like to think of the person and what makes them smile. Whether they like funny jokes from “The Office” TV show or enjoys reading scriptures and encouraging mommy quotes. I write them out on a piece of paper. I even draw little pictures on them with colored pencils. Then I fold it up and stick it in the box.
The whole idea behind the gift is that they only pull out a piece of paper when they need some encouragement. Whether that be in the midst of disciplining a child or dealing with a rude coworker. These boxes are so easy to make. Everyone needs encouragement. But we can’t always be there to provide it or know they are struggling.
For those last minute Mother’s Day shoppers this could be something cheap and easy to do for a mom. Whether they lost a child, struggle with infertility or are raising up toddler.
If you’ve been following me a while then you know how much I love to listen and read things from Sally Clarkson. She is a true inspiration for mothers and women. Lately, I’v been reading her book, “The Life Giving Table.” If you haven’t picked up a copy then order one now. Anyway, so as I was reading her book, I heard God tell me to find a way to invite other ladies to enjoy an afternoon of tea. That’s how I started my monthly Lady’s Brunch group.
I really wanted to create a time where women could come for a few hours and be served the best. I have china dishes and tea cups that I really wanted to use for this setting. Not to show that I have the best, but because it’s rare to be served on someone’s fine china unless it’s a holiday. I kept thinking to myself that these ladies give their best each day to their kids, husbands, work, families and may have little time to treat themselves.
I remember having two ladies show up for my first lady’s brunch. Their reactions to seeing the table set was priceless. Each lady got to pick their favorite tea cup along with their preferred beverage. The coolest part was that we spent about 3 hours sitting and talking about life. What were are struggles, our stories of adoption and fostering, and even the lack of community in our society.
The second meeting went just as well. This time there were 3 ladies that joined me for the afternoon. Once again, we sat and talked for a good 3 hours before we returned home to our families. I noticed each lady left a little bit lighter from the burdens of their everyday life. As much as we all love our husbands and kids…it was great to take just a few hours to rejuvenate ourselves and connect.
Since I started this group I have grown so much closer to these ladies. Since I moved to Indiana I have struggled to make honest and deep friendships with other moms. But I’m happy to say I now have those friendships. Why? Because I turned my focus from my self and found others to help.
As a mom it’s a struggle to make good friends. It’s hard to even find the time. One thing I never realized was how lonely motherhood can be. But now I have people to lean on. Godly women who seek God daily. Ladies who I respect and turn to when I need a voice of reason.
Our society has taught us to build bigger homes, drive fancier cars and make it all about what we want. All the while we are forgetting those around us. We don’t help people because we see them more as burdens that could take us away from our ideal lives.
I encourage you today to step out of your comfort zone. Find someone who needs a friend. I don’t mean the people of your normal crowd. I mean people you naturally would avoid. People who don’t quite wear the same clothes you do. People who don’t make as much money. At the end of our lives it’s not about what we racked up in things on this earth but the legacy we left behind. What legacy will you leave behind?
You’ve seen all over social media, the internet and even heard it from friends and family. “You’re in my thoughts and prayers.” Some people take that to heart while others snark at the comment. But do thoughts and prayer really work?
If you are just saying the phrase then no it doesn’t work. You may mean well when you type or speak that phrase, but it quickly becomes another trained response to avoid a real conversation. Why do we say it if we’re not going to actually pray for that person? That is when it doesn’t make a difference at all. Thinking about someone is nice but when we say we’re going to pray – we need to drop to our knees that instant and do it. That’s when it works.
After several shootings many people became tired of the “thoughts and prayers” phrase. Even some people I work with saw it more as a passive way to overlook gun issues in the country. Like I said before – if we say it but don’t pray then nothing will change. BUT when we pray – oh that’s when things change. Mountains move and we see the change even in ourselves.
I truly believe prayer is powerful. It has the ability to do so much for our country. God literally says it in the Bible.
“If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.” – 2 Chronicles 7:14
Our country is crumbling at our feet because many of us (yes, even Christians) don’t feel the need to pray. They either don’t think it works or they don’t have the time. From experience I can tell you I’ve seen what prayer can do. I’ve seen lives change, including my own. I’ve seen miracles happen. I’ve seen people step away from their selfish lifestyle and give their whole heart to Christ. So why are people so surprised that God can do amazing things when we pray to Him? I honestly believe it’s because they’ve never seen prayers answered. That makes me a little sad.
No, God is not a Genie that grants our wishes. Our prayers are answered every time but the outcome might not always be what we expected. The fact that our loved one passed away from cancer instead of being healed. Or we were skipped over a promotion at work again. God is answering your prayers. But they are within His will for your life.
I ask you, the next time you say the phrase “thoughts and prayers” PLEASE pray before you say or type those words. Maybe specifically ask how can I pray for you. If you’re on the phone with them or even texting them – say a prayer with them. Type out the prayer. Whatever it is. Because in that moment the person will see that the phrase is no longer an empty promise but a reminder of how powerful prayer is. We need more of that in our country. We need people to be vulnerable and to pray over us when we’re hurting.
We are all called to pray. If you even have a relationship with God then prayer should be a major part of your life. If not, then that relationship needs to start. We must humble ourselves before the creator of this world and pray. You’re not too holy to be exempt from prayer. Nor are you too far from God to be heard. The very act of prayer will start to change the world. But most importantly change you.
I truly believe many issues of this world develop from a heart problem. Not physical but spiritual. We measure our motives, actions and conversations next to what the world accepts. But we were not made for this world. God created us for something greater. As humans we still struggle with sin but we don’t have to become it. I’m calling Christians out to take time and pray. Instead of saying the phrase – do the action.
Remember, “thoughts and prayers” WORK when WE do the work. After reading this, some may still believe they are empty words. That we can’t fight gun violence with thoughts and prayers. We can’t fight murders with thoughts and prayers. We can’t feed the hungry with thoughts and prayers. But I would say we can. When hearts heal from praying there is less gun violence. Marriages start to mend. Fathers stay and children grow up in a loving home. Parents begin to invest in their kids and teach them right and wrong. We start becoming givers instead of takers. We start seeing others and their needs instead of our own. That’s when the hungry get fed. That’s when “thoughts and prayers” prompt action not apathy.
“It was now about the sixth hour, and there was darkness over the whole land until the ninth hour, while the sun’s light failed. And the curtain of the temple was torn in two. Then Jesus, calling out with a loud voice, said, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit!” And having said this he breathed his last.” Luke 23:44-46 ESV
Hope seemed lost. Those who hated Jesus saw it as a victory while others cried for the “one who was sent to save the world.” I think about this day and what people may have felt. To them, they saw no bright light at the end of the tunnel. I think even the strongest of believers felt empty. But as we all know — God wasn’t done.
Each Easter we look at the crucifixion of Jesus and try to make sense of it. We’re reminded that as Jesus hung on the cross he thought of YOU and me. He knew who would deny him, who would run from him and who would live their lives preaching about his sacrifice. He died so that we could live. He died so we could talk to God as we drive to work. These small luxuries were given to us by God’s one and only son. Jesus also died so we could be free. So we could see there is hope in a dark world.
If you’re in the midst of darkness today then I want you to think of what it may have felt like seeing Jesus die. Look at your life now. Are you struggling? What is going on in your life that makes you feel hopeless? What have you endured that has broken your heart so much you can’t see any way out? If you know the story of Jesus’ death then you know it wasn’t the end.
Sunday is coming! No one knew Jesus would walk out of that tomb 3 days later. I can imagine those 3 days of mourning were brutal. They were trying to make sense of it. Trying to figure out why he had to die. But then they learned he wasn’t dead.
“But on the first day of the week, at early dawn, they went to the tomb, taking the spices they had prepared. And they found the stone rolled away from the tomb, but when they went in they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus.”
Finally, the hope they so longed for was there. Proof that Jesus’ death was not in vain. That it was for a purpose. There was the light at the end of the tunnel. That is the same for you.
“Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, and that repentance for the forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem.” Luke 24:46-48
As you face your struggles, remember God’s timing is perfect. God could have raised Jesus from the dead any moment. He could have taken him off of the cross at any time. But God chose the perfect timing. Just like he is doing in your life. You may be struggling to see the hope, but your resurrection day is coming. The day when you look back on your most painful day and see it as a message. God took something so ugly and made it into a beautiful story. One that we look to each day and give thanks. Same goes for your story. God will use whatever mess and turn it into a message.
But you have to let him. Don’t let it be done in vain. Don’t let your pain determine your future. Use it as a tool to do good for God’s kingdom. Find a way to help others. Remember, Jesus died so that you may live. He broke those chains for you. Now you just have to let them go and start taking one step at a time. Whatever you are facing God is with you. Know that he will turn your life into a beautiful masterpiece.
“And he said to them, “Why are you troubled, and why do doubts arise in your hearts? See my hands and my feet, that it is I myself. Touch me, and see. For a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see that I have.” – Luke 24:38-40
Sometimes we just need to be reminded of why God is calling us down a different road. My husband and I will complete our last home study this weekend to help us become foster parents. So far this journey has been mentally taxing but overall exciting. There are even days I question if this is the right choice for our family.
Last night, I was driving home from work when I started to pray. (I talk to God a lot when I’m driving. It keeps my road rage at bay.) I talked to God about my hesitation and my fears of becoming a foster parent. Will I make a difference? Can I even help these kids? That’s when I asked Him to send me an encouraging reminder as to why He wants us to do this.
Side note. God understands my first love language is words of affirmation. He also knows I’m very visual. He knows that I need to be reminded in the midst of a journey. One way he likes to show me things is through my dreams. He has shared with me many times about my future husband (Steven) before I even knew who he was. He even used a dream to help me see Steven was safe to pursue. Dreams are a major way God communicates with me.
That prayer I prayed to God came true. Last night, I dreamed about our future foster kids. To no surprise there were 3 teen girls. Out of the three girls I saw the face of one girl. She looked to be about 13-years-old. Hispanic with beautiful black hair. She also had a love for horses. The second girl I didn’t see but she was talking to me on the phone. This girl talked a lot. She was asking me if we had dogs because she always wanted to own big dogs. I remember her voice coming alive when she found out we had TWO big dogs. The third girl I could barely see but I know that she was African American with an up-do. It was as if she as at a farther distance than the others. But God confirmed that this journey is what He wants us to do.
I share this story with you because some of you are questioning God about a choice, a decision or even a direction He is leading you in. I totally understand fearing the unknown. Feeling unqualified for what He has called you to do. But like me God wants to send you reminders too. Maybe He communicates with you in other ways. Like sending people to speak into your life or through scripture. Whatever future you are facing I want you to ask God to give you an encouraging reminder as to why He wants you to choose that path? Keep your eyes and ears open to what He says.
Remember, it is normal to question God. No matter how strong our faith is. If you open the Bible…it won’t take long before you come across a story about a person God uses to do mighty things…who has little faith. Or even question God’s direction. God doesn’t mind if we ask questions. He doesn’t mind that we doubt our ability. That’s when He comes alongside of us to shine light on what we are capable of. Following God is not easy. He never said it would be. But His ways are better.
I would love to hear how God sends you little messages. Share your story below.
“Sometimes the best runs come on days when you didn’t feel like running.”
When I created this blog I wanted to incorporate a fitness lifestyle into what I write about every week. Sadly, I’ve struggled with it. I didn’t want to write about something I wasn’t doing. I didn’t want to lead people on thinking I had my health together. In fact, that’s been my biggest struggle. I can’t seem to find the time or put workouts before other things that need to be done. But I want to be healthy. So I signed up for a 10K on June 2.
I originally planned to do a half marathon but I have been sick the last month with colds. As much as I hate letting myself down, I scaled back my goal a bit. Right now, I am on a 12 week journey to a 10k. Around the 6 week mark I will be running in a 5K to see how I am doing. That will give me a good idea of what my 10K may be like.
I used to run races all of the time. But I’m a little nervous about these two that are coming up. I am in terrible shape. Ashamed about the person I am today. But I can’t keep feeling sorry for myself or wishing I could do something. I’m just going to do it.
Yesterday, I walked 2 miles on the treadmill. I wanted to ease myself back into everything. I hate treadmills by the way. But we bought one so I could use it during winter months. Normally, I would just go outside and run. Except I have my daughter. I don’t want to expose her to the cold so a $200 treadmill seemed like a better solution.
But not all treadmills are the same. I bought mine because of the price and reviews. But if you’re looking to invest in a treadmill for a specific reason then you can read Best Treadmill Reviews of 2018 to get a better of idea of what can work best for you.
As the weather gets warmer I’m hoping to venture more outside. But until then it’s me and my trusty treadmill. Honestly, I don’t have much of a plan right now. I know I need to write my workouts down so I have something to focus on. But since I’m just starting back I’m really wanting to just focus on getting on the treadmill.
I’m also incorporating HIIT workouts with my running each day to build my strength. I don’t know if I will be ready for the 5K or the 10K. Failing is one of the worst things I can think of right now. I know if I’m putting in the work then I shouldn’t be too hard on myself. It’s going to take a day at a time. A goal at a time to help me get back to the runner I used to be.
Any advice or encouragement would be so helpful. Is anyone else starting over in their fitness journey? I would love to hear your thoughts. What helped you stay motivated?
“Rise during the night and cry out. Pour out your hearts like water to the Lord. Lift up your hands to him in prayer, pleading for your children, for in every street they are faint with hunger.” – Lamentations 2:19 NLT
When I was pregnant with Aurora I used to sit and talk to my tummy. Rubbing my hand across my daughter wondering what she was going to be like. There were days I ached to hold her so bad that I would find a baby doll to hold. It would give my heart a little relief. When I saw her for the first time my heart felt complete. That’s what it feels like as I prepare a place for our future foster children.
My husband and I still have a way to go before we become licensed to be foster parents. But right now we are getting a room ready. We just painted and put up bunk beds. The bedding just arrived this week. So now the beds are ready.
The other night I had a heavy heart thinking about the kids that will come into our home. Where are they now? Are they going through abuse and neglect or are they safe in a foster home? I went downstairs into the room we are preparing for them. I sat in the floor and started to pray. (One thing I’ve learned is that when someone is heavy on your heart – there is a reason.)
I prayed for their protection. I prayed for what they are going through now. I prayed that whatever brings them to this room will be turned into a testimony of their life. I prayed that when they walk in this room they feel the peace and safety we want it to demonstrate. That they don’t feel scared with us but relieved.
Like waiting for my daughter to arrive I am waiting for foster children to arrive, except it’s under different circumstances. It will be exciting and sad. These kids will be coming here because of the pain they’ve experienced. That breaks my heart.
But I am believing that it will make a difference. That they will find themselves growing stronger, feeling more loved and appreciated for who they are. That’s my hope at least. I have no idea what our future holds. Who these kids will be. But God knows. That’s why I pray to God about these kids. About these beds and this room. He knows what these kids will need. And He knows what impact they’ll have on our lives.