Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Wonder Face

My favorite Christmas song is O Holy Night, because it gives me all the warm fuzzies as I think about that night when my Savior was born. But I find myself playing my favorite Christmas album a lot more this time of year… The Beach Boys Christmas! Oh my goodness, if you haven't heard these Christmas songs, march your little hiney down to the record shop and buy it! (Or download it from ITunes, Whatevs). I find myself craving the upbeat and just plain fun Beach Boys album because I just want to have the joy of Christmas that I remember as a child, the joy of Christmas before being the Mom that makes it all happen.                 
My goal every year is to KISS; keep it simple stupid. I try and not overbook us. I try and have all of my shopping done by November at the latest. I try and try and try to make everything simple and easy so we can just soak in the Christmas joy. But every year it gets harder and harder to do.

Heather spoke so eloquently last Tuesday about keeping our focus on Jesus and away from all the hustle and bustle. That we need to soak in our babies and that look they get when they experience something magical for the first time; Wonder Face. As Heather spoke about that, it made me ponder, what is the root of the Wonder Face and how can I … 1. See it and take it in when my kids have it? And 2. Experience it myself? So I've been asking God to show me what is up with this face and surely I can get in on this action too. Surely the God who made the universe doesn't want me to run around like a chicken with my head cut off making everything magical for everyone else without any peace and joy for myself?

Then at church on Sunday, my Pastor spoke about Hope.

May the God of HOPE fill you with joy and peace as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with HOPE by the power of the Holy Spirit. Romans 15:13

Now, not only does God want us to have Hope, He is actually the God of HOPE. That's pretty awesome. I want to be a hope filled Mama. I want to see the Wonder in my children and have it too. I think we all do. Life has some bumpy spots. Some hard things happen... some very, very hard things, and it is easy to become negative and not think of future possibilities of joy and peace. But you know who that is from; the enemy. He wants us to be depressed and hopeless. But our amazing Father wants us to be Hopeful. To have that Wonder Face at all things bright and beautiful.

The good news is well, the good news. Jesus was born so we may have the greatest Hope of all. Hope in Christ our Savior. He lived and died and He lives today! We can remember that this world with all of its troubles and aches and pain is not our home. And while we are here on this earth, we do not have to do this alone.

He gives us His Holy Spirit to help us.

"So that you may overflow with HOPE by the power of the Holy Spirit".

My prayer for you today Mama is that you take your eyes off of your to-do list and focus on the Hope of the Lord. That you know you are beautiful and loved and it is not because of what you do that you are loved, but because of Whose you are.

Now play some Christmas music and show me that Wonder Face!

"OH Holy Night,
The Stars are brightly Shining,
It is the night of our dear Savior's Birth

Long lay the world,
In sin and error pining
Till He appeared and the soul felt it's worth.

The thrill of Hope, the weary world rejoices."

- Summur

Sunday, December 3, 2017

Not Our Plan, but HIS Plan

Jeremiah 29:11
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.
Game changers…we all have them. Those times in life that change EVERYTHING. I want to share my game changer with you ladies. Her name is Maya Elena and she is one of the best surprises that Jesus has ever blessed me with. I thought that our family was doing well, but we were missing out on so much. We were settling for doing okay and our girls deserved better. I remember taking that pregnancy test and crying and asking why. I mean c’mon God, my life was perfect, what am I supposed to do with 4 kids?! After telling my husband and crying more and talking to friends and crying even more, we ended up at church. We were never religious people, but we were both asking God, "what now?". Our 4th baby girl (yes people, 4 girls!) changed EVERYTHING! We gave our lives over to God, and my family, my marriage, my friendships, and my life will never be the same. I was so scared and felt so helpless and once I learned that this baby was in God’s plan for us all along, my perspective changed. Yes, I still cried every now and then, but after I was done I got up and prayed. That hole in my life was filled and I no longer was alone in my anxiety. I learned through that situation just how loving our God is. He never stopped pursuing us, and for that I am so grateful. Seeing my daughters worship or my husband pray still brings tears to my eyes even now. God knew exactly what He was doing when He blessed us with Maya. I just needed to learn to trust His plans. How amazing is it that we have a God that wants nothing but beautiful things for us?
Amber and Luke Grover had a game changer too. Her name was Olivianna Grace. Olivianna only lived 11 minutes, but she is still touching lives to this day. After she passed, Olivianna’s Closet was started. The goal of Olivianna’s Closet is to provide necessities for parents or guardians in need and to share with them God’s Word. We can help this ministry continue to bless parents that may be feeling overwhelmed or fearful by donating items or even our time. They accept gently used and new items for babies and up to size 5t. Amber and Luke had faith in God’s plan for them and through Him they created something beautiful. We may sometimes feel overwhelmed or even alone, but God never abandons us. He is with us in our misery, our fear, our mess, and He is creating something beautiful out of it all.  So ladies, let's bless these families. Who knows, maybe these babies are God’s game changers in motion bringing these parents to a place where they can hear about Him!
If you would like to donate items, feel free to drop donations off at any time. There is a crib located next to the nursery that you can place your items in.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

MOPs Mentor Mom Panel

First, I want to thank our fabulous mentor moms for being willing to sit before us and be vulnerable; for stepping out of their comfort zone to share their wisdom, their mistakes, and their journey through motherhood!  You were such a blessing to so many of us moms that morning and we thank you from the bottom of our hearts!

I love that we have mentor moms! And no, their job isn’t just to show up and bring an egg dish.  Our MOPs group is so very blessed to be able to have so many different mentor moms from so many different walks of life with a multitude of tried and true tips and tricks!  Sitting on the stage before us was a fantastic testimony of God’s work through the variety of amazing women who are still walking the motherhood journey, just a little further down the road from us.

With all of the hundreds of resources online available to us (sometimes feeling shoved down our throats) it is easy to feel like you are alone and lost in the sea of information, or feel like you “got this” mother thing and don’t need any help from anyone.  I definitely relate to the first one by the way.  Either way, we have lost the apparent need for community and relationship and mentorship. 

I feel like our generation was given two roads of motherhood: the first being well worn and smooth with clearly marked hazard signs and the second being a dense jungle with no warning signs of dangers ahead, and you better have a freshly sharpened machete or you ain't goin’ nowhere very quickly! 
That first smooth path with the occasional bump is the one where we are looking ahead to the women who have gone before us! We learn from their mistakes, take in a bit of their wisdom, and when in need of help, there are tea shops lining the path!  
The second path, jungle dense and full of booby traps, is the path a lot of us have felt the need to take.  Alone and without a clear idea of where the path should even go.  Well meaning parenting techniques bombard you from every side and you no longer can make a confident decision about what your child can eat because apparently everything will give them cancer. You scour the internet and books and magazines trying to make a plan of attack, trying to understand what will be best for your family and you feel like you are drowning and alone.  

Meanwhile, your fellow motherhood sisters are making their way down the clearly marked path lined with tea shops where they stop once in awhile gaining wisdom and snagging tidbit tips left from the moms who have gone before them.  Sure there are still struggles and bumps and full on middle of the grocery store with a full cart tantrums, but at least they feel prepared and surrounded by fellow moms sharing in the same hike.  

Which path are you currently on? Which path do you want to be on?  

As for me and my circus, the path well traveled and tested is the one for me.  Sure, not everything will fit our family, and maybe I’ll try something that totally flops, but I will know I am surrounded by friends.

And remember, while there are those freshly showered moms with their second cup of hot coffee in hand just ahead of the mothering journey from us, there are also those who are just behind where our trail marker stands.  They are the ones with the sweet smelling newborn in their arms, blissfully unaware of the grocery store meltdowns but are bleary eyed from only getting two hours of sleep last night.  There are the moms who can’t seem to see the light at the end of the toy packed tunnel and if she steps on one more LEGO in the middle of the night she will lose her mind.  The mom whose special needs babe takes absolutely all of her waking moments and some of the sleeping ones too, who feels alone and misunderstood.  

Last Tuesday morning we all walked away with bits of wisdom and hope from our mentor moms, but I also hope that it will remind us to pause and look around at the other moms near by.  Who’s the mom you can ask for help from when you are stuck in a tough parenting situation that she’s already been through?  Where is the mom right there next to you on the path that you can reach over and pat on the back as you both drag your flailing toddler out of the store?  And who is the mom just behind you, who needs to be shown a little hope amidst the growing piles of diapers and handed a hot cup of coffee?  

We were not created to do this motherhood journey alone.  We were beautifully and intricately made by a God who favors the relationship.  

This week my prayer would be that we remember that.  

“May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you the same attitude of mind toward each other that Christ Jesus had.” -Romans 15:5
“And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, 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.”-Hebrews 10:24-25
“3 And here’s what I want you to teach the older women: Be respectful. Steer clear of gossip or drinking too much so that you can teach what is good 4 to young women. Be a positive example, showing them what it is to love their husbands and children, and teaching them to 5 control themselves in every way and to be pure. Train them to manage the household, to be kind, and to be submissive to their husbands, all of which honor the word of God.”  -Titus 2:3-5 (voice)


Saturday, November 4, 2017

Let Love be the Loudest Voice

It's pretty loud in my house right now, so I have relaxing nature music on, on YouTube haha. Annnyyyway, I'm really not sure where to start on this post. As I've been thinking this week about what I might write, I haven't been able to get out of my head that love has not been my loudest voice throughout my life. Irritation, impatience, whining, selfishness… these are some of what my loudest voice has been, and it hurts to be typing this. While it bothers me that I've lived like that, it stirs in me the desire to keep seeking the Lord for help to keep growing through it and past it. Oh, I'm so weak on my own. 

In her testimony, Love used the term "generational dysfunction" to describe unhealthy repetitive patterns that are present in a family tree. I do not want to pass my generational dysfunction on. I want it to stop with me, and I want a new (functioning) pattern to start with my family.

Love is hard for me. In my eyes, I'm hard to love, and it's hard for me to show love. Honestly, I don't know why. But thankfully, I don't have to. What I do know, is Jesus loves me and He is working on my heart and refining me day by day to be more like Him. I struggle, but He meets me there and gives me the strength to try again. And again. Him showing me love and grace is teaching me to show love and grace. 

Something that has been encouraging me is… when my little Abby was learning to walk, I would tell her, "Stand up and walk, stand up and walk", and I remember God teaching me through that, really the same thing; to "stand up and walk". To trust Him and get out of my comfort zone and try things I've wanted to try but never believed in myself enough to. That, if only I knew the goodness that awaited me once I "started walking"; I would try. Being her Mama, I knew Abby could do it and that once she did she woudn't stop. I believe it's similar to having a relationship with God (with the exception that I'm wee lil' me who doesn't know much, and He knows everything). He's the Father, and He knows what goodness awaits for His children. I hope all that makes sense!

Psalm 37:23-24 NIV
The Lord makes firm the steps of the one who delights in him; though he may stumble, he will not fall, for the Lord upholds him with his hand.

Mark 10:27 NIV
Jesus looked at them and said, "With man this is impossible, but not with God; all things are possible with God."

Jeremiah 29:11 NIV
"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."

-Heidi M.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Love & Marriage

So my lovely Mama friends, I have been wracking my brain with what to write from the marriage talk on last Tuesday because I came out of that talk honestly not really thinking about my marriage, but about my relationship with someone more important than my husband; with Jesus. If I am really honest, my relationship with God has gotten swept under the rug a bit for other relationships lately. After Michelle's talk, I came away convicted about my devotion & prayer life; or lack thereof. 

I mean, I feel like my relationship with my husband is pretty good, and I know that is really annoying because marriage is hard and I know a lot of people are going through some hard things. But when things are good isn't that when we start to forget about God? When things are hard it is really easy to cling to Him.

We have had some hard years. I swear the first year was all yelling and slamming doors. I mean, this guy was not meeting all my needs exactly when I wanted them met! What is wrong with him? (Can you guess who the selfish one is in our marriage?)

So in 11 years of marriage, I feel like the only advice I can give is the number one rule of marriage....grow in your relationship with Jesus. The closer we are to Him the easier it is to see when I am being extra selfish, extra prideful, and extra "fun" to be around.
When I am focused on Me and My marriage it is easier to see all of Matt's mistakes, when he left his shoes on the floor, or all the cabinets open. (Why do they do that, ladies?)

When I draw near to the Lord, He draws near to me. God is not a band aid and won't fix our issues over night, but he slowly prunes us and grows us. And when we grow, our relationships do too, especially our marriage.

I am so thankful that we have a gracious Lord that gently reminds me when my heart begins to wander from Him. And I am so hopeful to see my marriage grow as my relationship with Jesus deepens.

If you need help in your marriage call Michelle Williams on her cell (209.581.2789) and she can get you into her Marriage 911 class.
Don't be ashamed, we all need help at one time or another.


Friday, September 15, 2017

Hello Freedom, it's nice to meet you!

Ahh, a new year of MOPS has begun! Yay! Welcome everyone! I hope the first meeting was as refreshing for you as it was for me! It was so nice to be surrounded by friendly faces, hot coffee, and hot food! Okay, I have seriously ended every sentence so far with an exclamation point. I am just THAT excited about this MOPS year! On Tuesday we watched a video on this year's theme, Free Indeed. Here are a few things that stood out to me:

  • We will let love be the loudest voice.
  • Your scars are a roadmap to another woman's freedom.
  • We will go first in order to set other captives free.
  • We will proclaim that fear, worry, anxiety, and comparison will not win.
  • We are committed to fly and this is the year we stretch our wings.
  • Take to the skies and be free indeed.

For me, this theme couldn't have come at a better time. God's timing is perfect. I imagine that's the case for most, if not all of us. Don't we all need freedom from something? I've been held captive by my own thoughts of not being good enough as a wife, mother, friend, sister, or as a person, fearing that I woudn't know what to say in a conversation, or that no one would like me (the list goes on). In reality, that is so not true. Believing these lies about myself only kept me in my cage. Now that I'm accepting myself, opening up, and being vulnerable, I'm experiencing freedom for the first time; and well, it's freeing. I've started to see that sharing what we've gone through or are going through can make way for meaningful relationships. Of course I'm still human and I still get weighted down sometimes, but God is faithful and gives me the strength to lift my head up and walk on. I also have this amazing community of Mamas who are so encouraging. We have each other. We are not alone. We all have hurts and struggles. Sharing ours can not only be good for us; it can benefit those who hear it. It could give someone else the courage to do the same.

I came across these verses a couple months ago that made me think of MOPS, and was going to post them, but haven't yet. So here they are now (:

1 Thessalonians 5:11 NIV
Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.

Proverbs 12:25 NIV
Anxiety weighs down the heart, but a kind word cheers it up.

Can't wait for our next meeting!

-Heidi M.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Ode to MOPS

There is a little group of gals who hear me when I share.
They listen to each complaint, and heart ache and never seem to compare.

Although some mornings I can hardly muster up the courage,
I know as soon as I join them my heart will be encouraged.

God has blessed me with true friends, even when I felt alone.
You see four years ago, I moved back and hadn't a friend to call my own.

One morning I prayed and asked Him for some friends that were honest and true.
He said "Go to McDonald's and just you see what I will do".

Uhhh..Okay Lord, that's weird...but off we went to play.
Sitting with my burger I noticed the place was packed that day.

A Tuesday afternoon and so many beautiful and witty women.
Surely they wont talk to me, they have so many children!

Slowly but surely, I let down my guard and said "Hey, Hi there, Hello.."
They happily accepted me and told me about a place where I should go.

The following week I walked into a Venue I'd never even seen,
I bet no one notices me, and some may even be mean.

But one by one they started to smile and even remembered my name.
Ate a hot breakfast without a child, hey maybe I am still sane.

Life moved on just as it always seems to do,
Babies, friendships, illnesses and depression crept in too.

 My God was ever so faithful and I didn't feel so alone,
I had this squad of Mamas making sure I left my home.

We never know where this life will lead,the ups and downs the flips and flops.
But I do know He helped save me through a place called MOPS.


Tuesday, May 2, 2017


First of all, wow. What a morning full of open arms and open hearts! Thank you Maribeth, Yesi and Dana for having the courage to share your beautiful stories with the rest of us this morning!

I heard so many times this morning how God used your brave and raw words to speak truth to other moms. Each of us were born into this world with an incredible story ahead of us. The mountains and valleys of our story have helped mold us into who we are at this moment...and nothing suprised God. He knew every laugh, every stumble, every tear we would shed before it was even caught in our throat.

For so many years, I saw the hard days, the struggles and downright gut wrenching, heart shattering moments as times when God was reminding me I needed him...maybe even a little
bit of punishment for the poor choices I had made. And though part of that may be true, I now fully believe that these moments where I tried so hard to control and fix and erase away, were
precious moments of God molding me,showing me grace, building me up and creating in me a person He could use for good and glory. But hindsight is 20/20 right? John 13:7 “Jesus answered, “You don’t understand now what I’m doing, but it will be clear enough to you later.”

MOPs has become a wonderful place to be who YOU are, exactly where YOU ARE. And sometimes that isn’t a great place. Sometimes that’s between a rock and a hard place, but they say that diamonds are made under great pressure.
I’d like to say that the past 6 years I’ve been a part of MOPs, I’ve been open and real, but I’d be lying to both of us. There were years where I played the “I have it all together” card really well.
I had the usual motherhood complaints that come with the territory, but nothing that I would bare my soul for. But then I got lonely, and overwhelmed and maybe even a little depressed. So I opened up. I started going to MOPs and I let my freak flag fly. I couldn’t do this motherhood
journey alone. I can’t do it alone. We shouldn’t do it alone.

You only have to be brave. Brave to step out of your comfort zone and talk to that mom who wouldn’t normally fit into your “category.” Brave to open open and share your struggles and raw places and then to feel totally normal when you realize you’re not alone. Brave to try that new egg dish you saw on Pinterest on your turn to bring breakfast, and to be okay if it doesn’t turn
out. I guarantee that if you allow yourself the chance to be brave, good things will come. So, that being said, here is my moment to be brave. My husband and I are fighting tooth and nail for our marriage. We are in a deep valley. A hard
enough place that by the world’s standards I could call it quits and no one would think the worst. But I am not a quitter, and even on the days where I can’t seem to lift my head off the pillow or
even fathom feeding my family, I can see the light at the end. God has opened my soul to see that He is creating in me a better story than I could have ever written myself. Thank you Jesus for grace. Our marriage WILL be stronger, better and faithful through this. Just like the coal
that is pressed on so intensely, almost to be smothered out, only to come out the other side a diamond, I’m putting my complete trust in God that He’s going to make a fantastic diamond out
of our lump of coal.

I almost didn’t register for MOPs next year. I didn’t want to not have it all together. Wasn’t feeling brave enough to slump through this valley amongst other women. But then a couple of dear, precious friends I have made in MOPS, reminded me that this was exactly the place I needed to be. Surrounded by women who love Jesus and would in turn love and encourage me. Like I said before, MOPS is the perfect place to be WHO I AM, right WHERE I AM.


Wednesday, April 19, 2017


"What a friend we have in Jesus, all our sins & griefs to bear, what a privilege to carry, every thing to God in prayer."

Jesus can be our best friend but it's clear through scripture that He still calls us to fellowship & community in earthly friendships with messy people. 

Heather Blass shared about an early messy friendship and what God taught her through that and where He brought her because of that. 

Close friendships are amazing and beautiful but we need to be sure they are healthy and growing as well. Sometimes we stuff things down over and over in a relationship but eventually it's going to blow up and possibly cause irreparable damage. Also God may be pruning that relationship for His purposes and plans but we may not see why He's doing what He's doing. 

Here are some components of a healthy friendship:

1. Grace - We need to give grace. We don't always know what people are going through so assume the best about one another.

2. Truth -Be willing to face the truth.

   a. The truth about myself - be who you are and be willing to share how you feel, always speaking the truth in love. Be willing & humble to hear the truth about yourself too.

   b. Share what you are going through (in proportion with who you are with). If it's a brand new friend you don't want to spill all your guts but be willing to "go first". Sometimes this can cause an instant bond because of common issues. Don't stuff your stuff!

 c. Let others share their ugly stuff. Let's not put each other on a pedestal because we are human and we are going to blow it. 

"Friends love through all kinds of weather". Proverbs 17:17 (a) Let's not be just "fair weather friends" but also friends through the storms of life. 

3. Trust - Be a trustworthy friend. Do I keep confidences and trusts? Can I be counted on to keep private what should be private? 

"A perverse person stirs up conflict and a gossip separates close friends". Proverbs 16:28

4. Forgiveness - Do we forgive? Sometimes that forgiveness takes a while but we are the ones suffering if we do not forgive. "Love prospers when a fault is forgiven". Proverbs 17:9 God can turn a bad situation into a good & healthy relationship. 

We can't lose ourselves in other people - our spouses, kids or friends. We must be whole in ourselves. We need to know who we are- each one of us is special & unique with our own passion and talents. Our identity can not be all about being someone's wife or someone's mom or someone's friend. The only One we can lose ourselves in is Jesus because He is perfect.

Jesus is grace, He gives 2nd chances, He speaks truth to us, He is trustworthy and the original Promise Keeper. He forgives - He paid the price for our forgiveness.  

We need to beware of social media - it can be used for good and it can also be used for harm. How thoughtful am I about what I share or post? 

Comparison kills contentment!

Community is so important and everyone has something to offer. We need to learn from one another and beware of becoming isolated. No mom should be or feel alone. We can change the world by how we raise our kids. Are we intergenerational? Becoming friends with someone outside your age group can offer rich rewards. Be sure to tap into your mentor moms - they choose to be in MOPS for you, as ones who've experienced much and as prayer warriors. 


You get as much out of friendships as you put into it. The more you put in, the more you get out. You need to be able to share - be authentic. Put judgements aside & instead look to understand someone and what they are going through. Have grace and understanding. (Maybe they're in a hurry because they have diarrhea!) 

We as the church need to care for each other - we are not perfect or always happy but let's be genuine and strive to be in harmony with one another. 

"You must get along with each other. You must learn to be considerate of one another, cultivating a life in common". 1 Corinthians 1:10(b)

You've got a friend in me! And better yet, you've got a friend in Jesus!

Monday, April 3, 2017

I Get So Emotional Baby!

During our last Mops meeting, we watched a video on the topic of anger. It had many amazing tools to teach us how to deal with our emotions, or our “Super Power” as she called it. We can use our anger for good or for evil. And I can sooooo relate to that. I am a passionate person. I love deeply and am very sensitive to others. But I can also respond in anger swiftly. I am not one to hold my feelings In. Whereas my husband is calm cool and collected and holds everything in until it all comes out. I don't know if one way is better than another, and I definitely see our different emotional responses in our children and how they deal with their own big emotions. It's just like a mirror up to your face of your own sin and ugliness. Ouch! Generational sin is some powerful stuff.

I am highly on guard for getting out of control with my kids. We had some major emotional, verbal abuse in my house as a kid. (I think that's why when I had so much anger after having my last baby, I knew my brain was not working correctly.)

But you guys, I have been so on edge last week analyzing my every move. Am I raising my voice too much? Oh crap, I sighed at my kids fighting, will they think I don't  love them wholly for every essence of their being? My husband came home and was in a good mood, and I was in a grumpy mood. Will he think I am an angry old grump? I was literally freaking out over every exasperated sigh and exhale.
It is highly important to be self-aware and have practical tools to aid us in controlling our anger. But we have something better to help us!

This morning I read my devotional and was again reminded that no matter how hard I try and try to do what is right in my own power I am going to fail, no doubt about it. But we are free from the bondage of sin. Praise Jesus! I can analyze myself all day long, or I can give it over to the one true God who has me

"I have been liberated,
Set free,
and given new life,
New hope,
New motivation,
and new peace,
Of heart and mind.
No I have not been freed
To walk my own way,
To write my own rules,
OR to do what I choose.
No, I have been given
The best of freedoms.
I have been freed,
Not from God's rule,
But from my bondage
To me.
Submitting to God
Is the thing I was created to do,
So it is the place where
True freedom is to be found.
Rebellion never gives life.
Self-rule never brings freedom.
So grace has worked to rescue
Me from me,
So that I can know the true freedom
of serving Him." Paul David Tripp


Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Conquering Relationship Challenges

Our Tuesday morning Mops meeting was one that got me thinking a lot about my relationship with my husband.  Since we got married eight years ago, we have had to work hard on our communication.  I realized quickly that when I would ask too much of him, he would shut down.  I attributed this to the way he was raised and figured it had nothing to do with me.   Boy, was I wrong.

My husband is the sweetest man I have ever met.  Because of his size people become hesitant, but after a quick Harvey laugh, it is realized he is hilarious and light-hearted.  Things don’t ruffle his feathers and he has the ability to go with the flow.  Our beginning vacations as a married couple consisted of riding by the seat of our pants.  At times we would find ourselves driving up to Kirkwood in the dead of night or meeting up with friends in a faraway place at the drop of a hat.  It was fun and always an adventure.  His flexibility and sense of adventure is attractive and exciting.   I like reflecting on that time when decisions didn’t feel heavy.

Life progressed to beautiful children and a lot of necessary communication.  First of all, raising kids involves a lot of talking, planning, follow through, revisiting and repeating.  The fun is and will always be in our relationship, but having to talk business is a chore.  I find we get offended easily and in turn we don’t want to talk about it again. And, hay, who wants to deal with the un-fun stuff anyway?  Adulting in general is hard and I was not surprised to hear that the majority of problems in a marriage are not the big ticket items.  In fact, it all relates to how we communicate with each other.  Come to find out it is not all related to the way we have been raised; it has to do about the way we act towards each other.  It should be simple.  Here I am madly in love with my husband trying to be a good partner, friend, lover, and wife.  Aren't we all working towards that goal?  But things get in the way and riffs happen. 

Fixing those small things that bug us about each other have a simple solution.

Number 1: Examine the way we question our partners.  Day in and day out I ask why.  Questioning is part of understanding and it is what I do.  I thought that asking why was helping our communication.  My husband is not one to readily spew out details, so asking why seems like a way to get more information.  Asking why is okay, but the way we ask may change the results of the conversation.  My goal is to try to ask why in a way that does not assume that he has not thought through the situation.  Remembering that he makes choices by considering all options will make my questioning come out prettier.  My hope is he, in turn, will not attribute my asking why to nagging.

Our partners crave respect.  Showing respect can be as easy as a simple thank you. 

Number 2: Say thank you.  It is time to start noticing those small things and thank them for it.  I tried it last night, and it brought out a smile.  I am not just thanking him for the things I ask him to do, but for things he usually does.  My goal is to thank him as much as I hear I love you, which is an awful lot!

Finally, the racy part. 

Number 3: Our partners want to feel close and connected to us.  Women can feel this closeness and connection through many different outlets, like a heartfelt conversation, but men need it in a physical way.  Although it is so hard to want to make love when you are bugged, it may be something that will help the communication.  That physical connection is the antidepressant for him and may make the situation feel lighter. 

In our marriage we have grown and are continuing to learn how to empower each other.  Our pitfalls should not be considered a road block.  Working on communication by speaking kindly to each other, respecting the choices we make and connecting emotionally and physically can help bring both individuals back into alignment.  Being on the same page will make conquering our challenges together easier. 

- Amanda

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

It's Only a Season

   Has your life ever felt chaotic and out of control? (most days, right?) Then add moving, changing churches, a new job, toddlers, and .....really? A  surprise pregnancy!?!?

Our speaker Summur Braley shared her intimate and personal story of coming face to face with postpartum depression (PPD) & anxiety.

  All Summur ever wanted to do was to be a loving mommy to her children but during her last pregnancy and after the birth of her 4th child, sweet Holiday, she started to not recognize who she was becoming.

  On edge, very angry, anxious, and distant from God. At this time, Summur felt like if something happened to Holiday, it  could possibly be a medical emergency and going to the ER or almost calling 911 full of panic and fear was the "go to answer".

    It was a very sad and stressful time for their whole family. Matt, her dear husband, had to calmly talk her off the ledge she was so clearly on. She decided to call her doctor who told her in a very matter of fact way that she had Postpartum Depression. This was a difficult diagnosis to understand because Summur had always been a very cheery person, an extrovert, so how could this be? The doctor explained that anger is one of the main signs of depression and anxiety. The number one sign for Summur was that was she acting "unlike herself". Her doctor put her on antidepressants and sent her to a psychologist. The antidepressants didn't work but the psychologist was terrific. She gave her breathing techniques, practical daily changes to make along with suggestions of looking out at the horizon, beyond that little square we are locked in when we have a baby.

    Summur also learned that PPD & anxiety is a chemical imbalance in the brain. It's not something you have done, it's not because you think negatively, its not something we bring on ourselves and it's not the Lord punishing us.

   It turned out that talking about it was huge - for her and for many others. This epidemic is nothing  to be taken lightly. One of our own in MOPS lost her best friend to suicide because of postpartum depression. We can not trust our feelings at this time. We must reach out and get help even though it seems like everyone is so far away from us, including God. They are there for us, He is always there for us. Untreated postpartum depression can lead to postpartum psychosis and that is a very scary thing.

  We were given a very helpful handout that explained symptoms of PPD & anxiety, and postpartum psychosis, what to do if you have symptoms of PPD and how to help someone suffering from PPD.

   Finally "spring came" to Summur and her household, she started feeling like herself again, seeing colors and using her creative energy to start a tie dying business. God was so  faithful.

"For everything there is a season"
Ecclesiastics 3:1.

Please remember that PPD is only for a season but you do need to recognize it and treat it.

Have Hope -

Monday, February 20, 2017

Hush Little Baby, Mama's Gonna Buy You a Mercedes if you go to Sleep

"Rock a bye baby, in the tree top
When the wind blows the cradle will rock,
When the bough breaks the cradle will fall,
and down will come baby, cradle and all"

That's some dark stuff right there.

But we've all been as desperate for our baby to sleep as the lyricist to that ancient nursery rhyme.
If my baby would only sleep through the night....
If my 2 year old wouldn't climb into bed and kick me in the head all night...
If my 4 year old wouldn't wake me up at 3 in the morning asking where her hoodie is... (this literally happened last night and she doesn't own a hoodie currently)

But alas the struggle truly is real, Ladies.
I feel like my main goal as a mom is to get my children to sleep. Okay kids let's eat this meal at this time, play at this park, have this playdate, and so on and so forth and then you precious children will sleep like angels tonight! Thank you to the good Lord for bedtime!

Last week we were graced with the presence of an honest to goodness Sleep Expert. The lovely Jo Anna Inks. When I heard she was coming to share with us I honestly thought..."Oh this will be good for all of those young new Mamas."
You see I am an old old Mama, with four children of varying ages and I've always had pretty great sleepers. So what could I really learn?

And then I was humbled.
(Why is it that all of my blog posts have this common thread? Apparently I need a good kick in the pants)

Jo Anna had some amazing tips.

1/ Watch the Waking Hours
Babies get over tired very easily, if they are grumpy they are probably TIRED!

2/ Don't Be Afraid of the Dark
Humans, and babies, sleep better in the dark.

3/ Be Predictable
Babies and Toddlers love a predictable routine. A predictable bedtime lets your child know what's coming.

4/ Feed After Naps, Not Before
Number one reason babies/toddlers don't sleep is the connection they have formed with needing to eat to fall asleep.

5/ Same Place, Same Time
Have your child sleep in the same place and the same time everyday. Nap time and bed time should be in the same place too.

I ran into Jo Anna in the bathroom after her talk and told her about my one year old, Holiday. She had been waking up at 5 or six in the morning and I do not like waking early, at all. I put Holly down at 7pm like clock work every night, Jo Anna suggested trying a 6:30 bedtime. This morning she woke up at 8 am y'all!!!
Oh happy day!!!

You guys there was just so very many good tips that Jo Anna had for us. I highly recommend you give her a call.
1 (209) 813-0609.

Good Night Sweet Hearts,

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Rhonda Stoppe: There Is Hope

Rhonda Stoppe speaks like a woman with “No Regrets.” Not like a woman who wishes her life had been different. Not like a woman who hasn’t made mistakes. She doesn’t preach like a woman who holds onto pain, and she doesn’t speak the Word like a woman who doesn’t understand It’s power.

Instead, she spoke at MOPS on Tuesday like a woman who’s seen a lot, if not “it all.” A woman who has had to go before the throne of God on WAY more than one occasion, to ask for very large things.

Like Forgiveness. Like Grace. Like healing. Like Love for her enemies. Like strength when she feels the most thin, and the most weak, and the most unable.

She spoke like a Mother. Like you and I.

When I hear the phrase “No Regrets,” it triggers all of my regret. I think, well, that’s not me, lady! I have stuff. I have things that I wish I could erase or do-over. But the more I hear the definition of “The No Regrets Woman,” according to Rhonda, the more I realize that IS me. That’s all of us. Or, it can be, if we choose it.

One way we can choose to have a No Regrets Life, is to look at our lives like a story. Like a narrative, still being written.

Often I look back on events past, and think about the decisions I made, and looking in on those little moments in time can be discouraging. But then I look at those events, mixed in with those moments of rescue by God, those times when I was at my lowest, and someone came to help me. I remember moments where it seemed hopeless, and a stranger saw me and gave me words of encouragement in a college bathroom. I remember being halfway across the country, and another believer took me into their home and treated me like family.

I still look at my hurt, I remember those who hurt me.

But I remember those who helped me more. And I know that those moments were God showing up. He never left.

He shows up in our stories. If we look for Him, we will most certainly find Him there.

And the beauty is that our stories aren’t done yet. He isn’t finished! When the little moments get me down, or I feel worn, or tired, or unappreciated, I will remember this is only a tiny part of a greater story of God’s goodness in my life.

I have hope to be a No-Regrets woman. And so do you, sister.


Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Sharing the Joy of Books

Last week we were inspired to take our children, and our grandkids, on trips to foreign lands; to meet kings and queens, rulers and emperors, Indians in the Cupboard and Very Hungry Caterpillars. We were told we could have a P.H.D. by being a Parent who Has Desire to share the love of books and reading with our children.

I was struck by the generational passion for books that was so evident in this family. Cheryl had a mom who read to her, then she read to her children and now they are reading to their children. In the Bible we read about generational sin, sin that affects the 3rd or 4th generation. How wonderful to think about a positive generational habit to pass down to the 3rd or 4th generation and beyond.......the love of reading & books.

We were asked to think about some questions so I will highlight a couple.

1. How do I instill in my children a desire & excitement for books?
Start young! Train early!
Set aside time to read and remember that a busy schedule is a deterrent to reading!
Reading is the honey for your child's soul- sweetness of life, and we are capable of giving honey to our children even if it's only 10 minutes a day.
One book recommendation was Honey For A Child's Heart by Gladys Hunt.

2. Where do I find good books?
Visit the library, church and city libraries.....frequently & regularly. Go to story time, get them their own library card and let them pick out some of the books. Be sure to get books on tape for car rides and always have a book with you for doctor appointments or waiting in pickup lines.  There's also second hand book stores, Amazon Used Books as well as trading books with friends and family. Be sure to buy some books for your children to own - this will be the beginning of their library. Try buying books for each of the holidays and when you bring them out year after year a tradition will be born.

We were given ideas of practical times to read to our children:
During breakfast read a devotional.
During lunch show picture books.
During snacks after school, read them chapters from a novel.
During bedtime read more stories as everyone gets cozy and winds down.
Let them read in bed and never use their reading time as discipline.
Remember that reading leads to better writers & listeners and reading is the key to true learning.

We were challenged to be a commercial for reading by putting down our devices and model "SQUIRT- silent, quiet, un-interrupted, reading time". There are so many benefits to reading to or with your children including bonding with them and having an avenue to teach them your faith and values.

So with a B.A.- Better Attitude, a B.S.- Believing Spirit, a M.A.S.T.'R.- Make A Special Time to Read; you will end up with a P.H.D. Let's be passionate parents about reading and sharing the joy of books. Well I'm off to join Pa & Ma and their daughters Mary, Laura and Baby Carrie as they leave the Big Woods of Wisconsin to move West to Indian Country.
Happy reading!