Monday, April 15, 2013

Reading the Bible… 20 Times in a Row!!

Bible reading= something I know I should do, need to do, and feel guilty about not doing enough.

I am embarrassed and ashamed to admit that I have been a Christ-follower for over two-thirds of my life and I have never been able to read the Bible in its entirety.  I have tried many times to make Bible reading apart of my daily life, but I have never been able to discipline myself to study it on a regular basis for any length of time.  Sure, I have been in church my whole life and have heard many, many teachings about God and Jesus.  I even went to a Christian college where I took classes like New Testament, Old Testament, Theology, and Evangelism.  I have done Bible studies on my own and with others, and have spent time reading daily devotionals periodically.  So, I have learned a lot, but I know there is so much more that I am missing.  I know that God has so much more waiting for me to learn if I will just open my heart up and take the time to read what is in there!

I also that know it sounds kind of crazy to say that I have actually read so little of something that I hold so close to my heart.  However, I have read and know enough about what it teaches to make me a believer.  I know that it says Jesus came to Earth, lived as a man, died a terrible death, and took my sins away through all of it.  Most importantly, I know that because of this, I am able to and do have a relationship with the God that created the universe.  I know that He really does love me and care about every detail of my life.  I know that His plans are bigger than my own.

Since I am so confident in what I do know about God, I must discipline myself to learn the Bible and  indulge myself in what else He has to teach me through it.

I really do not know why I have such a hard time staying focused on reading the Bible.  I have started from Genesis probably about ten times and have made it all the way into Leviticus a few times.  I have started in Matthew just as many times and have made it to Romans or so.  However, I can never stay disciplined enough to make it through the whole Bible.  Worse, I am quick to forget the details of what I have read when I stop.

Obviously, what I have been trying for years is not working.  When talking to Chris, he said that he has  the same problem.  Actually, he has been doing some research lately about different Bible reading plans and came across an article here that suggests reading one book at a time…20…yes 20… times in a row.

So, he asked me if I was interested in trying this method with him.  He thought I would say no because I would be overwhelmed by that big number.  Actually, I feel the opposite.  It comforts me to think that I only have to focus on doing one book at a time and being able to really learn what it is teaching me.

The article suggests starting with the the shortest book which is Third John and continuing through the New Testament in the order of shortest to longest.

So, Chris and I plan to start this method today.  There is no time limit for how long it takes us, just as long as we stay focused on reading when we can.  We also plan on journaling about what God is teaching us and sharing it with each other.  More importantly, we are praying that God will give both of us a thirst and passion for His word and that through reading it so deeply, He will reveal to us what He wants us to learn.

Do you have a Bible reading plan that works great for you?  Please share with me if you do!

Thursday, April 4, 2013

The End of an Era.

Many of you may know that almost a year ago Chris lost his job at the bank where he worked.  Although, we knew that his job may be in jeopardy, it was still somewhat of a stomach-turning surprise when he came home and announced that he didn't have to go to work the next day.  Even though we were in shock, I was still a little bit happy that it actually happened.  Chris hated his job and had been trying to find a new one for years, with no luck.  He was miserable there.  When you spend all day long being miserable you come home and stay miserable because you know that you have to be back at that same miserable place bright and early the next morning.

We had been praying for years that God would open a door for him and get him out of his bank job.  This was our answered prayer, we figured.  Not exactly the way we had hoped, but he was out of his job.  As upsetting as the situation could have been, we both tried to keep a positive attitude about the whole thing, knowing that God does a have plan for our family.

Just six weeks before this happened, we had taken the plunge and put the kids in preschool/daycare three days a week so that I could take a day shift position at my job.  The kids were finally getting in to a good routine and were loving their new school.  Since we had high hopes that Chris would find a job really soon, we decided to keep them there for the time being.

Then right before Lily's third birthday, and just a month after the job loss, we found out that baby #3 was on the way! This news was a bit of a surprise, even to us.  I'm quite sure our families and friends thought we had lost our minds.  Even though the timing was not necessarily what we thought was ideal, we were super excited to add another precious baby to our family.  We knew it would all work out somehow.

Weeks passed and turned into months.  Chris applied for job after job, after job.  Nothing.  He rarely even had an interview.  He had a few promising leads, but none of them turned into anything.

I began to fear that he would never get a job, really.

I just did not understand it sometimes.  He has a degree, is smart, and communicates well.  Why wasn't anyone hiring him?!

He even had "connections".  He had an interview that a totally awesome friend, Kelly, had helped him get in October.  He thought it went great.  We both had such high hopes that this would be the job!  But, he did not get it.

As the months passed, sometimes he was depressed over the situation, sometimes I was.  We both tried to stay positive, but it was hard sometimes.  I knew deep down that God did have a plan, but it sure was hard being patient to find out what it was.

In the fall, we decided the time had come to take the kids out of school to save some money.  Chris became Mr. Mom as I worked full-time.

This was one of the many blessings that came out of our situation.  Chris was able to have bonding time with both kids that he would have never had the opportunity to have while working full-time.

I have to say though, I was jealous sometimes.  He was getting the opportunity to be a stay at home dad and I had longed to be a stay at home mom for a long, long time.

We had to deal with new challenges as a married couple that we had never had to deal with before.  It was really hard sometimes.  Really hard.

Finally, in February something truly miraculous happened.  I almost didn't want to believe it happened because I didn't want to get my hopes up once again.  Chris received an email from the lady that he had interviewed with in October.  She said she was hiring again.  Apparently he interviewed well enough for her to remember him and wanted him to interview again!

So on February 22 he went to interview.  I sat at home, 39 weeks and 5 days pregnant, anxiously awaiting a phone call from him.  When the phone rang, I timidly answered and asked him how it went. He happily announced that he was offered the job!!!

I can't even express what I was feeling at that moment!  It was the strangest sense of relief, yet at the same time a feeling that only my faith in God can explain.  Amidst the frustration I had felt time and time again in those ten months of uncertainty in our family, I always knew deep down that God would open a door when the timing was right.  So, in a way, I completely expected Chris to announce that he got the job.

It just so happened that God decided to bless us doubly that day.  Later that night we went to the hospital so my labor could be induced.  Our third sweet baby, Ellyson Grace, was born shortly after midnight the next day!!

What a day for our family!  Two major life events, a job loss and a new pregnancy, both which started in May of last year, both the root of a mirage of emotions, came to an end all within a fourteen hour period!

So, with that, there was the end of what seemed like an era for our family.

I can't even express how much God took care of us, as He always does, during those months.  Our marriage is now stronger than ever before and our faith in God is even stronger!

It even worked out perfect that Chris didn't start his new job until three weeks later, so he was able to stay home with me after the baby was born.

He has now been working for a couple of weeks and is loving his job so much!  We know that he is exactly where God wants him and that is so exciting!

We are so grateful to you Kelly for helping him get this job.  If you are reading this, please know you are awesome and we love you!

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Thank you Dorothy!

I've written before about how I really am passionate about health and nutrition.  Shoot, I even have another whole blog focused on it (that has been regretfully abandoned as of late).  Well, I have to say that over the past four months, I have completely buried that passion under loss of control, stress, and pregnancy cravings.  I have guiltily and ashamedly eaten anything and everything in sight.  I have felt bad about it really with just about every bite, but then I quickly justify it in some weird way.  Almost every night I feel physically miserable and know that it is because I have over indulged in junk food all day long.  I drink soft drinks like they are going out of style.  I see something that looks good and lose control immediately.  So, I guess you are probably getting my point by now that I'm very disappointed in myself.  I know my baby deserves much better and I deserve to treat myself better.

Like everything else in life it is just a matter of making one wise decision after another.  I recently had decided that I would start making those wise decisions related to food after I come back from the beach in a few weeks.

Until today….

Our totally awesome volunteer at work, Dorothy, called me out when she saw me drinking a Dr. Pepper.  She reads my blog (thanks Dorothy!) and knows where my heart really is and how I once, not too terribly long ago, was very passionate about eating whole, healthy foods.  She so kindly said she was going to act like my mom for a minute and told me how I really shouldn't be drinking it.

Of course I knew that.  Of course I've known that every time I have pigged out everyday for the past several months on junk.  I know I am not giving myself the nutrients I need, nor my baby.  Plus, I am increasing my chances of developing gestational diabetes, not to mention decreasing my chances of fitting into that bridesmaid's dress I so proudly get to wear in my sweet cousin Haylie's wedding just a few months after this baby is born.

So, what did I need to jumpstart getting myself under control?  Dorothy!  I now have a renewed determination to detox my body of this junk food and eat the way that I know is best for me and my baby.  So starting right now, no more!!  Seriously, I need accountability in my life.  If you do see me eating junk food, call me out!!!!!

Seriously, thanks Dorothy!!!

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Oh Baby!!

Well, Chris and I recently announced that Baby #3 is on the way!  Although, we are both very knowledgable about where babies come from and knew that it could happen, for some reason we were both a little surprised that it actually did.  It seemed so surreal that I actually took FIVE pregnancy tests!!  (That's a record for me, and I will admit that I've always been pretty obsessed with them!)

So, we are both really happy and excited about this little blessing that God has given us!

I admit though, that due to our current circumstances, I was nervous to tell anyone.  I almost felt like a teenager that might get in trouble!

Yes, there are many, many unknowns in our family's future.  There would be anyway though.  This news just adds a bit of extra excitement to the mix.

There are so many questions I would like to have answered right this minute, but I know that everything will unfold in God's timing, not mine.

What seems most pressing to me is Chris' job situation.  He still is waiting on God to open the right door.  I know it will happen soon.  I am actually being quite patient as of late about it.  When God answers this prayer, it will give us a better idea of what to do about my job situation.  It doesn't make much sense for me to continue working full-time if this means paying for three kids to go to daycare.  If you know how much that costs a month, you would completely agree with me.

Plus, as much as I do enjoy working dayshift, I miss my babies so much!!  Especially my baby boy.  It is so hard on the days that I work because most of the time I don't even see him.  He is asleep when I leave in the morning and in bed before I get home at night.  Ok, pity party done.  I really am thankful that God has provided me with full time work during our current situation.

So many more questions, both little and big, are left to be answered.  Is Caleb going to be ready for a big bed so he can share a room with Lily?  How am I going to go anywhere by myself with a 3 year old, 1 year old, and a newborn!!!!???!!  What kind of vehicle are we going to be able to get (and afford) to fit three car seats???  If I take Lily out of her current preschool/daycare where will she go?  Will I homeschool?  Will I really be tired for the next 10 years?  How will I meet the needs of all three at the same time?  I could go on and on and on with the things I think about.  I know though, I just need to take a deep breath and know that all of these things will work out just fine on their own.

So, I will do just that.

And, of course say a prayer and trust that God still has a plan and this is just the next part!

I'm ready for this adventure. (I hope!)

Sunday, July 8, 2012

I Need More Than a Band-Aid

Each day over the last eight years that I have been a nurse, before I get out of the car to walk into the hospital I say a prayer.  I basically ask God to give me wisdom and judgement, intuition from Him, to help me pay attention to vital signs, notice if my patient's condition changes, call the doctor when I need to, don't forget to do anything or say anything that I need to, and most importantly as far as my patient's are concerned- please God NO CODES!!!  For those of you who do not work in a hospital, this is just me asking God to keep my patient's alive, heart beating, and breathing while they are under my care (unless of course, they have "permission" to die from having a Do Not Resuscitate order).

I also like to ask God to please keep my family safe through the day.  

Frequently, my job presents me with the task of dealing with challenging people.  This includes my patients, their families, and occasionally my coworkers.  Some time ago, I realized that having to handle situations with these people on a daily basis was making me have a really bad attitude about my work.  After dwelling in it for a long time with little improvement in my attitude, I began to add a new part to my pre-work prayer.

I began asking God to help me see these people through His eyes and love them the way He does.  I ask God each day to please not let me say anything hurtful about anyone.  I really, truly do not want to do this.  I do not want to be a mean person.  I want to be nice to everyone.  I even realize that when I open my mouth, I am ultimately making myself look bad.  Most importantly though, I know that when I do make these comments, I am not reflecting that I am a Christ follower in any way, shape, or form.  

But, I do it anyway.

Why is this such a struggle for me?  Some say that when people say bad things about others it is because it makes them feel better about themselves.  I know that is not why I do it, because it sure does make me feel like crap after I say it.   I know that I do easily get wrapped in to negative conversations sometimes.  That is such an easy way to just let words fly out of my mouth.  Why do I want anyone else to hear those bitter words though?  Words that I would never say directly to that person.  Words that I am ashamed of. 

But, I do it anyway.

I recently asked God, Why?  Why do I ask you to not let me say these words and I still do?

He woke me in the middle of the night with the answer.  It is really quite simple.  

If He were to simply help me not say those words, that would just be putting a bandaid on the real problem.  And, this problem needs much more than a bandaid.  It needs a heart transplant.

The real problem is my heart.  Where is my heart for God?  I can't ask God to help me love these people like He loves them, if I am not loving God the way I want to, need to, and have been called to.

So, I now know what is the ultimate solution to my problem.  I kind of knew it before, but for reasons I don't understand, I have been pretending like everything was okay between God and me.   

I know I have not been surrendering everything to Him.  I have not been giving Him my whole heart.  

When I do this, I know that more than just my problem of having a big mouth will be solved.  

I don't know why it is so hard to give it all to God.  I certainly trust God.  But, I distance myself from Him sometimes.  

I pray that I don't do this anymore.  I pray that I give Him my whole heart and make Him my first love.  When I do this, I won't have to worry about saying things that I shouldn't say, because I won't be thinking them!!!  That is the amazing part of all this.  When you surrender everything to God and give Him your heart, you will truly love others the way He does!!  When you love others the way He does, you see them much differently than before.  You even love those that you already love differently.  You love your friend, your husband or wife, and your children in a new way!  When God is your first love, you love your other loves even more! 

I'm not saying that I am there yet, but I now know what I need to do.  I just need to give God my heart, and let Him do the rest.  

Friday, June 1, 2012

God Has a Plan, I Just Know It!!

The past couple of months have been quite a whirlwind for our family.  At the end of March, I changed my work schedule to work 3 twelve hour day shifts a week instead of such crazy evening/night/weekend hours that I had been doing for so long in order to be part-time.  This was a huge change for our family because it meant the kids would start going to daycare/preschool during the day and I would be going from working 24 hours a week up to 36.  I know that I had been quite spoiled for the past couple of years by having the opportunity to only work part-time.  The time came though that I was looking for a more "normal" schedule so when the opportunity opened to move to day shift I took it.  Thankfully, for the most part, the kids have adjusted wonderfully and everything is going great with preschool.  Poor Caleb has been hit pretty hard with the daycare germs, but hopefully with summer here he will start to feel better and stay healthy soon.

About a week or so into me switching my schedule Chris and I did something that we had been talking about doing for quite some time.  We invested in the online version of Dave Ramsey's Financial Peace University.  We quickly discovered that we had been living in denial for quite some time about our financial situation.  We had been living above our means and using those emergency credit cards for things that weren't so emergent…  We knew that we had to start being proactive about getting our finances under control.  So, I decided to start working extra so that we could get some bills paid off and be on the road to financial success.  I worked 48 hours a week for the whole next month (which is a lot for my wimpy, little self!!).  This along with downgrading our smart phones, downgrading our TV to the most basic of services, and proactively taking steps to cut out other things actually helped us meet our monthly budget nicely.  We also put tithing back at the top of the budget, instead of at the bottom where we regretfully had placed it over the last several years.  

So, things were looking positive and we were starting to feel pretty good about the whole financial mess we had gotten ourselves into.  Then, one Monday afternoon I come home to Chris telling me that he had good news and bad news.  The good news was that he is now available to help me clean the house.  The bad news is he will be home because he no longer has a job…  

I actually was somewhat relieved when he said this.  You see, Chris had been very unhappy in his job for quite some time and had been praying for a long time for God to open up a new door.  He never had any dreams of being a loan officer at a bank.  He went to school to be a history teacher.  Right after college we decided to get married and unfortunately, getting a teacher licensure (to actually be able to teach) kind of got pushed to the back burner.  So, the first "real" job opportunity that opened up happened to be at the bank. It sounded good at the time, so he took it.  However, things started getting rough over the last couple of years when the bank started placing unrealistic goals upon him and he just wasn't able to meet them.  I knew how much he hated going to work and spending such a huge chunk of his life doing something that he resented and was not passionate about at all.  There were even times that I begged him to quit because I thought it would be better for him to work at Starbucks than to go to a job he hated so much everyday.  

So, now it has been almost a month since Chris has been out of work.  I know that God has something big planned for him.  About the same time I went to day shift (before the job loss), Chris had quite a spiritual awakening with God.  In fact, he is more on fire for God now than I have ever seen him.  He knows that he wants to do something purposeful with his life and is praying so hard that God will lead him exactly where He wants him.   He desperately wants to be used to show other's the love of God!!  

Looking back, I know God was preparing us for this huge change of life.  I am so fortunate to have taken my full time position at work just in time.  Furthermore, I thank God so much to have a job that allows me to work as much as I need to.  If we had not started Dave Ramsey's program when we did and made those changes to our budget, we would be really struggling right now.  God knew what was about to happen and prepared us!!!  God has also given me strength to continue to work lots of overtime so I can make up the difference until Chris finds that special job God has waiting for him.

I admit that I have felt overwhelmed and a little stressed and depressed about the situation a few times.  But, then I remember that God is in control.  I cannot let myself underestimate God!  He has a plan for our family.  I have absolutely no idea what it is right now and that is a little scary.  But, I know that God has bigger thoughts than I can wrap my head around, so I need to just sit back and trust Him.  I am so excited to see what God has in store for our family!!  Please pray that God will let us see clearly what to do and where to go!

"For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."  Jeremiah 29:11

Friday, March 9, 2012

What Do I Wish I Could Tell My Teenage Self?


The answer to this question in two words is A LOT!

I'm not normally one that likes to talk about my birthday when it is coming up, but this year I am finding myself talking about it quite a bit.  I guess because it is a big one!  Yes, I will say it again- I am going to be the BIG 3-0!  Very soon!!!  So, in honor of this big date that is quickly approaching I am going to be really dramatic and devote this blog post to my "younger years."  More specifically, about a time that is, without a doubt, the most pivotal of my life. The teenage years.  When I think about my teenage years, it seems like they went on forever.  It seems so crazy to me now that it was only a six year period of time, yet it seems like such a huge chunk of my life.  Everything seemed to be such a big deal back then.  I took everything so seriously and so personal.  I did a lot of learning the hard way.  I did a lot of things that I am not proud of.  I often ponder the strong emotions that surround the memories of this time.  Oh how I wish I could've known just a few things then that I know now.  I was thinking about all of these things on my way to work this afternoon, so I decided that maybe I should make a list.  A list of the things that I would tell my teenage self, if that were actually possible.  Who knows, maybe this list might help Lily one day.  I especially hope she reads number 1!!!   :o)~

So here goes…

1.  Listen to your mother!  She might really know what she is talking about.  She loves you so much.  Even if it seems like she is keeping you in prison by not letting you do all those things that seem so important right now, she just wants to protect you from yourself.  She has learned what is really important in life and just wants you to open your eyes and see these things, instead of blindly falling into a dangerous pit.  She wants to be your friend, but she knows that she must do what she has to do to keep you safe first.  She sees the big picture of life.  Save yourself some trouble and learn the easy way!  Don't forget to take the time to tell her how much you love her and thank her for loving you so much.  Even if you don't feel the need to do this now, you will soon.  Trust me!

2.  Humble yourself.  You are not the only person in this world.  The world does not and should not revolve around your wants and needs.  While you may think that life is all about you, it is not.  I know that the things in your life seem like a really big deal right now, but many of them really are not in the whole scheme of life.  There is really no other way to say it.  Don't take things so seriously, because what you are worried about now, really is not that important.  I know you are hormonal, but really, you do not need to cry over everything.

3.  While you do need to be humble, you also need to love and respect yourself and your body.  Take care of yourself.  You deserve it.  Love and respect yourself enough now to avoid doing those things that you have been warned that you will regret one day.  Because you will.  You know what those things are.  The people that you are trying to keep up with and be like, will probably also regret what they are doing one day.  You will thank your 30 year old self one day if you just use your brain, actually think about the real consequences of your actions (they do happen and they will happen to you), and practice some self control.

4.  Don't ever forget that God made you to be exactly who you are.  You do not need to spend, rather waste, the enormous amount of time you do trying to be someone that you are not, to impress someone that really doesn't care.  I know this sounds cliche, but really, you are who you are.  Be yourself.  If people do not like you and you have not given them any reason to not like you, then that is their problem.  You will never, ever please or impress everyone, no matter how hard you try.  And, that is okay.  So, instead of worrying about saying the right things and acting a certain way, just simply be nice and respectful to everyone.  Treat others with respect, no matter how they treat you, and you will earn the respect you want so much!

5.  Don't rush this time away!!!  I know you want to grow up so bad, but enjoy being young and carefree.  You are at a beautiful age where you can have and express your own opinions, go to work, earn money, buy your own things, but still come back home at night and know that your mom and dad are still there to baby you if you need it.  I know it seems like you are stressed out a lot, but try your best to put that stuff in perspective.  Most of it is not stuff you really need to worry about.  It will all work itself out in time.  Relax, lighten up, and have fun!

6.  Friends…. Accept the fact now that most will move on and you will not be BFF's forever.  I know this is a sad concept, but people change.  You will change.  Things just change.  There will be a few special people that you will stay in touch with though.  They will be the ones that love you for who you are and do not try to get you to do things that you don't feel comfortable doing.  These are the ones that respect you.  Quality definitely beats out quantity when it comes to friends.  Please, just remember this.

7.  I would love to tell you not to worry about finding a husband when you are in high school, but you will!  Yes, you will!  He will be your best friend, your confidant.   I will tell you though to respect him and your future marriage enough to save the things that are meant for marriage until the time comes.  If you do this, there will be no regrets.

So, these are the most important things that I wish I could tell my teenage self from my 30 year old perspective.  Funny thing is, most of them remain true now.  I still need to remind myself of a few of these on a daily basis.  I know that everything I went through, or rather, put myself through, helped mold me into who I am today.  For this I am mostly thankful, but I do wish I could have been a bit wiser during those years.  I am so fortunate to have those special people in my life, like my mom, and many other family members and friends that were there to nudge me in the right direction when I needed it most.  I thank God for you all :o)

Now it's your turn!  What would you tell your teenage self?!