Sunshine Blogger Award

Sunshine Blogger Award

Good morning! I’d like to extend my very sincere thanks to Sue of Run With It for my nomination for the Sunshine Blogger Award! As a new kid on the block it’s very encouraging to be included. I’m so grateful that God has allowed me the opportunity to share my experiences with all of you!

Now to answer some thoughtful questions from Sue:

1. What led you to become a blogger?

I blogged under a fake name through much of high school, and through my experience with anorexia and the hospitalizations that came along with it. Writing came naturally as a means of expressing what I was going through, and ironically the fake name allowed me to be exceedingly authentic. In my early twenties with a young son to take care of on my own, I decided to pursue nursing rather than writing, and I put down the dream. Then last year I found myself with the opportunity to stay home full time after the birth of my daughter. The newfound flexibility in my schedule created an opening to write again and begin this blog!

2. What is the story behind the name of your blog?

It’s always my goal to be 100% real- and for me, that comes with a sense of humor. Through many difficult experiences I’ve learned that you’ve got to laugh about things. There is always something positive to be appreciated, and always a lesson to be learned.

3. What is the purpose of your blog, i.e. what is it about?

My blog is what I like to call “a Christian mom blog,” but I’d like to think it can be relatable to many outside of that description! I write about my day-to-day experiences and how God is teaching me through them all.

4. Who are you? How would you describe yourself?

I would describe myself as a quirky introvert. I’m a homebody, and the person my friends often come to for advice. Joann Fabrics is my happy place. Uncomfortable situations usually have a way of making me laugh, and I’ve been described as ‘stubborn’ many times in my life. In short, I’m a hot mess who loves the Lord and thank goodness He’s persistent because I’m sure I take a lot of work! 😂🤷🏻‍♀️

5. What is your belief system? Do you believe in God? Why?

I believe in God because His presence in my life is undeniable. There have been so many times my story could have ended, but where God shows up, He provides! My every happiness, every success, and very existence is thanks to Him pursuing and loving me, even when I’ve been difficult to love.

6. Are you a follower of Jesus Christ? If so, tell what that means to you.

I am! Following Jesus can easily be over complicated, but at the end of the day what it means to me is this: Love God, and love His people.

7. What do you do? Do you have a career outside the home, or are you a stay-at-home mom or wife, or are you a volunteer or a retiree, etc.?

I am an RN, turned stay-at-home mom. This month marks the end of my first year staying home with my family!

8. What fulfills you the most? The least?

Most fulfilling to me is my quiet time spent in the Word. I know that may sound like a generic answer, but in all honesty there is always a sense in those times that my soul is being fed. Being with my family is also where my heart is! Least fulfilling to me is being busy at a job where I feel I’m not making the best use of the gifts God has given me.

9. What motivates you the most? The least?

One of my biggest motivators is being told I can’t do something! But with this blog I’ve found my motivation to be the possibility of really reaching someone with God’s influence.

10. What is the most important message you wish to communicate?

I love this question! Most importantly I want people to know that you don’t have to be anyone other than exactly who you are to be loved by God. You don’t have to be someone who has it all together or be a cookie cutter person. God made you exactly as you are, so of course He loves you this way! Your past doesn’t define you, and even your present doesn’t define you. You. Are. Who. God. Says. You. Are: Beloved, fully forgiven, precious, and SAVED when you accept Him.

11. If you were to die tonight, do you have the assurance that you will spend eternity with God in heaven? If not, and you want that assurance, please feel free to talk with me about it, and I will be glad to show you the way.

I believe that we are saved by grace through faith (Ephesians 2:8), and so yes I do have that assurance.

Now, if you should decide to accept this nomination, and I am certain some of you have been nominated before, then please note these are the rules of engagement:

Sunshine Blogger Award Rules

1. Thank blogger(s) who nominated you in a blog post and link back to their blog.

2. Answer the 11 questions the blogger asked you.

3. Nominate 11 new blogs to receive the award and write them 11 new questions.

4. List the rules and display the Sunshine Blogger Award logo in your post and/or on your blog.

Finally, thank you to all who are willing to accept the nomination and to answer the questions I have posed to you. God bless you.

—————-

To the nominees:

1. What inspires you to write?

2. Have you had any formal training in writing?

3. What is your ultimate goal with your blog?

4. What is your favorite subject to write about?

5. What is your schedule like, and when do you find/make time to write?

6. Do you have a hobby outside of blogging?

7. What would you do as an alternate career?

8. What are some things you do to make your blog more appealing to your reader?

9. How would you describe your writing style?

10. What is one thing you’d like your readers to know?

11. What impression would you hope that your readers get from your blog site?

And finally, my nominations! Please bear with me- being a new blogger I am still growing the number of blogs I’m following and may not have the requested amount of nominees. The following, however, are very deserving!:

Comeback Pastor Mathew’s posts show his positive attitude as he shares his experiences in building a church.

Becoming His Tapestry Brenda is so REAL and authentic! Her blog is a very refreshing reminder that God’s work on us is continual and there is joy to be found in the process.

A New Life Amy is great at expressing her journey with the Lord and sharing experiences from her own life.

Thank you again for this nomination, and for spending time here on my blog!

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Maybe I’m the Jell-O

Maybe I’m the Jell-O

“If you would just stop fighting it this would be so much faster and easier!” I pleaded with my toddler.

Nevertheless, she bucked and stiffened every part of her body, writhing into a powerful alligator roll in an attempt to allude me and the clean diaper I was holding. “All I want is to take care of her, but she has her own agenda and doesn’t want to see what I’m trying to do for her,” I thought.

I instantly made the connection. If I would just stop fighting it this would be so much faster and easier. But I have my own agenda. I sometimes wriggle into my own powerful alligator roll in an attempt to get away from God’s freely given grace, and get to a ‘To Do’ list to try to become who I think I should be to please Him.

If you were a fly on my wall, you would have gotten to see this scenario for what it really was:

An 11 month postpartum mama wearing maternity pajama shorts with the drawstring as tight as it can go (because hey, they’re still comfortable,) 🤷🏻‍♀️ sporting one of her husband’s old shirts which has grown thin from years of wear. There’s a wild baby girl rolling around with buttons unbuttoned on her onesie, flopping this way to reach Mom’s phone, and that way to grab the bottle of baby lotion. Her brow is furrowed and the corners of her mouth curled downward in distress at being held down, while Mom grabs an arm here and a leg there in an attempt to nail Jell-O to a tree. And scene!

It’s like the adult version of playing with one of those water tube toys you used to get from the fair.

So if that’s how I look trying to get my toddler to cooperate, what does it look like when God does the same for us? Am I the Jell-O He’s trying to nail down?

It’s funny how closely related this instance is to what I’ve been reading this week, only because there are no coincidences when God’s Word chooses to show up.

“Oh, that my people would listen to me! Oh, that Israel would follow me, walking in my paths! How quickly I would then subdue their enemies! How soon my hands would be upon their foes!” (Psalms‬ ‭81:13-14‬ ‭NLT)‬‬ “But I would feed you with the finest wheat. I would satisfy you with wild honey from the rock.” (Verse 16‬‬)

“Oh, that my people would listen to me”- surely I can’t be the only person who has said some version of this to my family time and time again! In fact the next time my 7 Y.O. diverts from what I’ve asked him to do, I might just be quoting part of this scripture at him! 😂 Like us when we’re trying to help our families, God just wants us to listen to Him so that we can accept the good He’s trying to do for us- so that we can accept His grace.

I loved reading chapter 81 of Psalms this week because it showed me once again just how relatable our God truly is. Whatever our earthly struggles may be, He has a divine understanding of them.

Have you been nailing your own Jell-O lately? What gets you distracted from accepting God’s blessings?

Mystery Blogger Award

Mystery Blogger Award

“And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness:
God was manifest in the flesh, justified in the Spirit,
seen of angels, preached unto the Gentiles,
believed on in the world, received up into glory.”
– 1 Timothy 3:16 KJV

First of all I’d like to extend my sincere thanks to Gail for this nomination! As a new little baby blogger, receiving this is a very welcome reminder that I am on the path God has intended for me. There would be no blog without Him and His plan for me!

For those of you who don’t know what the Mystery Blogger Award is:

“Mystery Blogger Award is an award for amazing bloggers with ingenious posts. Their blog not only captivates; it inspires and motivates. They are one of the best out there, and they deserve every recognition they get. This award is also for bloggers who find fun and inspiration in blogging, and they do it with so much love and passion.”

Created by: Okoto Enigmas Blog

With this nomination I’ve been asked to share three things about myself.

1. First, I am a 28-year-old wife and mom. I have a 7.5-year-old son, and an 11-month-old daughter. I am married to my best friend and live on a few acres in the beautiful southern Indiana country.

2. Second, I am actually a nurse. I left my full-time management position just before my daughter was born to stay home and be the mom my kids need me to be.

3. And third, I’m a pretty quirky person- just ask my husband! I love to make my family laugh and truly believe it’s the best medicine (and a nurse should know, right?)

It has taken me a little while to write about this award because of the nomination step. Being new to this community I wanted to take time in choosing Christ-centered blogs to follow and I believe I’ve found some wonderful bloggers! I may not reach the 10-15 nomination mark, but I’d like to nominate the following:

1. Inside Cup

2. Barefoot In A Holler

3. Dreaming of Guatemala

4. Run With It

5. Taking Up My Cross

Now to answer Gail’s fun questions:

1. What makes you burp? (That’s my required weird question.) I’m not sure what you call it where you’re from, but here we call it pop!

2. What would you like to talk with God about one on one? I know there are plenty of pressing questions to ask Him, but there are some things I want to know- like where all the bobby pins and hair ties go, if my old dog Boomer has a doggy mansion up in Heaven, and why algebra exists.

3. Do you have a prayer request? I’d love for my writing journey to be remembered in your prayers! I truly believe this is what God intends for me to do, though I have no idea where it will lead.

4. What do you like to blog about? I love to blog about the crazy things my family does and the lessons God teaches me through them.

5. Where in the world do you live? I live in a small town in Indiana. ❤️

My questions for the nominees:

1. Do you have a hidden talent?

2. What’s a writing habit you couldn’t function without?

3. Who’s your favorite blogger or author?

4. What is one goal you have for 2018?

5. Name one item you couldn’t live without.

And finally, I’m to share one of my favorite posts: The 5 Stages of Sleep Deprivation (&a Keeping the Faith)

RULES

1. Put the award logo/image on your blog

2. List the rules.

3. Thank whoever nominated you and provide a link to their blog.

4. Mention the creator of the award and provide a link as well

5. Tell your readers 3 things about yourself

6. You have to nominate 10 – 20 people

7. Notify your nominees by commenting on their blog

8. Ask your nominees any 5 questions of your choice;
with one weird or funny question (specify)

9. Share a link to your best post(s)

Even Jesus Took Naps

Even Jesus Took Naps

Jesus healed, traveled, served, and performed countless miracles in his lifetime- and he still took naps.

Grab your favorite blanket and that cute sleep mask you’ve never taken out of the package because you know I’m going somewhere with this….

The passage from Mark chapter 4 (verses 35-41) tells the story of Jesus stepping away from the crowds and seeking rest in the back of a boat, even in the the midst of a raging storm. It brought a very realistic image of motherhood to mind:

It’s after 3 P.M. Loud and overwhelming ‘To Do’s” loom in the evening busyness of my household. Ready or not, the after work and school hours have begun, bringing on more demands than downtime. My husband asks where to find an obscure item which has faded from the landscape of a cluttered countertop over time, and has suddenly regained an urgent purpose. My 7.5-year-old son finds new sources of energy just as mine seem to be dwindling. I end up chasing him from room to room reminding him that socks don’t belong in couch cushions, and the dog needs to be fed. My 11 month daughter crawls and climbs the terrain of the living room and squeals for my full attention. Dinner needs cooked, pajamas need tiny people sprawled out within them, and after long days, a mama’s mind needs to be quieted.

Now. What happens in the midst of all this?

Is my response to,

A. Stand up, and use my calm presence to quiet the storm, or

B. Panic, lose my peace, and let my outward expression be determined by my inward unresolved struggle and weariness?

I’d love to tell you that I’m an option A mom, but I don’t always have it so together. As it turns out though, I’d be in good company because the disciples didn’t have it all together that day on the boat with Jesus either. When the storm threatened to sink their boat it says,

“Jesus was sleeping at the back of the boat with his head on a cushion. The disciples woke him up, shouting, “Teacher, don’t you care that we’re going to drown?”

‭‭Mark‬ ‭4:38‬ ‭NLT‬‬

It sounds like they had the tendency to stress, just like this mama does.

But not Jesus. In the raging storm he calmly stood and dealt.

“When Jesus woke up, he rebuked the wind and said to the waves, “Silence! Be still!” Suddenly the wind stopped, and there was a great calm. Then he asked them, “Why are you afraid? Do you still have no faith?” The disciples were absolutely terrified. “Who is this man?” they asked each other. “Even the wind and waves obey him!”

‭‭Mark‬ ‭4:39-41‬ ‭NLT‬‬

Now where do you think Jesus found that incredible calm? He was rested. His faith was in God, his unfailing Father, with whom he’d built a strong relationship. And so, even in the face of looming disaster and other priorities on the shore that begged for his time and attention, he protected his time alone and his time spent in prayer. Though it doesn’t specify, I can just imagine Jesus praying as he laid down, falling asleep while talking to his Father in Heaven. The Bible gives examples of his time away:

“Before daybreak the next morning, Jesus got up and went out to an isolated place to pray.” – Mark 1:35 NLT

“But Jesus often withdrew to the wilderness for prayer.” -Luke 5:16

So friends I have to ask- how often are we withdrawing to the wilderness?

Whether that wilderness is a Pinterest-worthy nook in your home complete with a plush designer chair and a built-in bookcase, or it’s the driver seat of your car because your kids finally fell asleep in the back, it’s calling for you. And it also requires something of you- the ability to say “wait” or even to say “no” altogether to certain things.

See, it wasn’t that Jesus had free time on his hands- but that he did what he had to in order to protect his time alone to rest and to protect his time in prayer, even when it meant stepping away from other things temporarily. (Kind of like trying to sneak off to use the bathroom even though tiny fingers will undoubtedly slither under the door within seconds. Hey, it’s a priority- you’ve just gotta do it.)

Jesus fully saw the need for his service out in the world, but he also recognized his inner need to recharge and speak with God.

Now here’s where I stumbled all over myself when I started considering this whole thing:

How important do I think I am that I can’t (won’t) take time out for God, when even JESUS HIMSELF made it a priority?

Do I not have faith that He will help to accomplish what’s asked of me in His perfect timing?

(If you’re slipping on your sunnies and sliding down in your seat right now, I’m going to guess you can relate to the grounds for those questions.)

As moms and wives it seems as if we are often the most in demand people on the planet. There is constantly someone calling our names, or something needing done that others think only we can do.

“Mom, I need toilet paper!”

“Honey, there’s toothpaste on the ceiling.”

“Mom, sissy’s diaper smells terrible!”

Oh, the demands of the job. How easily, then, can we relate to Jesus? He was highly sought after and often surrounded by great crowds of people seeking his attention. (In my mind, the equivalent must have been like having thousands of kids…. 😳) And yet, he understood the importance of rest and of his own personal time with the Lord.

I’m not suggesting we abandon our responsibilities to squander our time. Instead, let us prioritize where we will carefully place our attention before our attention is stolen away. We live out crazed days and we need rest, too. The best rest, I find, always comes after I give God some prime real estate in my daily schedule. If I want to be able to take a nap in my boat, I’ve got to make sure I’ve spent time in prayer in the wilderness first. That’s when I find the strength to remain calm in the storm. That’s when the sweet, restful moments come and are more fulfilling than ever before.

What’s your “wilderness” like? Where do you run off to when you need to spend quality time with God?

Keep Your Eye On The Couch Pillows

Keep Your Eye On The Couch Pillows

“DON’T EAT THE CARPET!” I yelled, as I dove over the kitchen chair barrier I’d created to keep my now-crawling daughter within the confines of the living room.

I pried her mouth open as she flailed her extremities in every direction. In one fluid swipe my glasses were removed from my face and landed just out of reach. “Blind your opponent- impressive strategy for a 10-month-old,” I thought. Nevertheless I was able to reach into her tiny little chipmunk-like cheeks between blows and retrieve the stray strand of carpet.

Our living room is currently its own special work of art. With an open concept floorplan there is little to keep my curious baby herded within the pasture of our living space. So, from necessity, I’ve designed a very chic arrangement consisting of a side-lying kitchen chair, furniture pressed up against each other, a laundry basket filled with hopeless, matchless socks, and a portable playpen.

I’m not sure why I haven’t been contacted by Better Homes and Gardens yet, really. 🤷🏻‍♀️

Now while much of our home boasts newer flooring thanks to the previous owner, our living room carpet has certainly seen its better days in the decades since our house was built. Charlie, our lazy yellow lab, must agree. Wherever he decides to lay, he paws at the carpet to make for a softer napping spot, and occasionally strands from the carpet are pulled loose. My eagle-eyed munchkin sometimes finds these small pieces before I do.

Feeling the frustration, I thought, “I’ll get ahead of this.” I grabbed a pair of scissors and went around extracting any little strand that looked as if it may come loose at Charlie’s pawing. Then, feeling accomplished, I returned my daughter to her designer play area.

A short time later I made a quick trip to the next room, only to return to find her squirreling away couch pillow stuffings in her tiny baby cheeks.

(Friends. Remember me in your prayers.)

As moms we know that we can’t take our eyes off of these sweet little sneaks for a second. The moment we start patting ourselves on the back for conquering the trials of one milestone, they’re already onto the next. In the midst of trying to keep up with my daughter this week, I came across a verse that pointedly reminded me that we can’t take our eyes off of our enemy either:

“When the devil had finished tempting Jesus, he left him until the next opportunity came.” -Luke 4:13 NLT

That’s right- He. Never. Stops.

Even as we celebrate the moments when we find the strength to walk away from a carefully crafted temptation, or choose differently rather than going back to a bad habit, he is already scouting out the next opportunity to knock us down. He is constantly working- so that means that we need to be, too.

In light of this, I’ve got to ask you what I’ve been asking myself this week: How can you be more persistent? 

Is it waking up earlier to get into the Word before your day sets your priorities for you? Grabbing your Bible or devotional as soon as the kids go to sleep instead of the remote? Deleting an app off your phone that- let’s be real here- the enemy is using to distract you from devoting more time to God?

The bottom line is this: our purpose in life is to love God and love people. It’s so simple, but the enemy is persistent and effective in making it complicated. We have to hold onto the truths of the Word in order to be prepared for every opportunity to love, so that there is less opportunity for the enemy to take the lead.

The 5 Stages of Sleep Deprivation (& Keeping the Faith)

The 5 Stages of Sleep Deprivation (& Keeping the Faith)

It recently occurred to me in the late hours of the night that sleep deprivation is very closely related to the 5 Stages of Grief.

I know. It sounds pretty dramatic. But have you ever tried to wrestle an alligator at 4 A.M.?

Well it goes like this:

  1. DENIAL. There’s a screech coming from the room where your baby sleeps. Your eyes pop open. It’s been approximately 27 minutes since you laid down your head on that fancy memory foam pillow you were sure would help you sleep. “You’ve got to be kidding me.” You think to yourself. “She can’t seriously be awake right now. Maybe she’ll fall back asleep on her own…” But alas! She does not, in fact, (ever) fall back asleep on her own.
  2. ANGER. I can’t function on 27 minutes of sleep!” You lament to your helpless baby. “Are you a robot?! Who replaced my tiny precious baby with a battery operated robot?!” You begin to furiously unwind government baby swapping conspiracy theories in your head.
  3. BARGAINING. “If you just go to sleep I will make Daddy buy you a pony,” you coo in your sweetest mommy voice. “Yes I will, you tiny princess, you can have WHATEVER you want- we will have chocolate cake for breakfast!” You rock and cuddle and negotiate, but nevertheless your tactics prove futile.
  4. DEPRESSION. Now here’s where things really take a turn. It’s around that 2-3:00 A.M. hour and you start getting philosophical. You begin to ask yourself… “What is sleep? On what plane of existence can it really even be found, and how does one get there? Why was I made a mother, and how can I ever reach my full child rearing potential if I am devoid of any source of energy?” All hope seems lost. And then, finally…….
  5. ACCEPTANCE.“Okay,” you declare to yourself, mustering what little strength you’ve gathered from your second wind. “I can do this. I’ll just bump up my caffeine intake tomorrow, it’s fine. I’ll be done with coffee by 3 P.M. so it won’t affect bedtime milk. I don’t need sleep. Sleep is for the weak! It’s 4:00am let’s just start the day!”

We’ve all been there. I certainly cycle through these stages in my mom life during seasons when my 10-month-old decides she’s got no need for a full night of sleep. But if I’m being honest, there are times I cycle through these stages in my Christian life as well.

Sometimes DENIAL comes in the form of a pursuit for control over my circumstances, convincing myself that I can take on a situation by myself without needing to seek counsel with my Father first.

Sometimes ANGER comes when the illusion of control slips away and I realize things aren’t going the way I’d planned.

Sometimes I experience the temptation to BARGAIN– to say “God if you get me through this I’m going to do it differently next time- I promise I’ve learned..”

Sometimes DEPRESSION strikes when I lose my focus on things above and get too fixated with the priorities of this world.

But after it all, when God picks me up to dust me off and make me better than he found me, I step into ACCEPTANCE and realize that I need him. I desperately, honestly, truly need him.

I don’t know where you are in the stages of your walk with God, (or the stages of sleep deprivation thanks to those little energy-depleting miracles we love so much.) But rest assured- you’re certainly not the only one there. Just as we enter into a sisterhood when we become mothers, we do the same when we accept God into our lives. We become a part of a whole big family of people who are living the same triumphs and trials that we are.

So in case you need to hear it from a sister today, it’s okay to be in that cycle.

But wherever you are, whether you’re pouring that second cup of coffee and happily declaring your need for your Father, or you’re bargaining with a toddler over mismatching socks at 3 o’clock in the morning, know that you can find your strength in the One who has already overcome the world! Don’t be afraid to share your struggle with your Father in Heaven and with your brothers and sisters in Christ, and to seek encouragement through it all. In all circumstances, you have an awesome support system!

“Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you.” (1 Peter 5:7 NLT).

Bathroom Seat Bravery

Bathroom Seat Bravery

And now, for an inspirational quote:

“True bravery is sitting down to use your son’s bathroom without looking first.”

Okay, so maybe that’s not what Paul meant when he said “we walk by faith and not by sight” (2 Cor. 5:7). But both of these brilliant illustrations shed light on two important characteristics of faith:

  1. Faith requires action
  2. Faith requires action without asking

It seems to me that people confuse the words ‘believe’ and ‘faith’. Believing in something merely means that you accept it to be true. I can believe in God and his promises. I can believe that the sun is our source of light. I can believe that chocolate doesn’t have calories if I really want to (and I do….) 🤷🏻‍♀️ We can believe anything, though hopefully we’ll choose to believe in things that are actually based on factual information.

But faith is different. Faith is a verb- an action word. Faith is often a series of seeking God’s direction, feeling the conviction to do something, and then- actually doing it! And doing it without asking yourself ‘what if?’, ‘how?’ or ‘what now?’, or asking God to reveal all the ins and outs to you beforehand. Faith doesn’t mean you won’t have doubts, but it is recognizing that God has got the outcome AND the details handled, and moving forward despite your reservations.

Have you ever felt that little nudge to help when you cross paths with someone you see struggling? Or felt an unexplainable need to strike up a conversation with someone you’ve never met? Maybe you’ve kept on walking, or maybe you’ve answered your calling in those moments. Whatever your response has been in the past, know that giving in to those convictions can come with incredible results- even if those benefits are not just for you. God nudges us where we’re needed and all that is expected of us is just to have the tiniest little mustard seed sized faith (Luke 17:6) and make the first move. God’s got it (and you) from there.