Posted in Being a Mom, Faith, Family, Inspiration, Uncategorized

This One’s Just For You

Recently, Meghan, our high school freshman, came home from school with the news that her Journalism teacher had decided to guest publish an article she had written in the school newspaper. After co…

Source: This One’s Just For You

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Posted in Christmas, Faith, Family, Inspiration

Eddie Walker Simple

TODAY’S CHRISTMAS FORECAST: SIMPLEEddie Walker Santa

Bob and I got engaged 17 years ago in November of 1997. That year we spent a great deal of time carefully picking out Christmas decorations together. He and I shared a vision from those first purchases that we would be creating Christmases for our family for years to come. I laugh now thinking about how seriously we took those first buying decisions. It was as if we believed we could preserve all our future happiness with the items we bought. That particular year, we both fell in love with a designer, Eddie Walker, who made carvings that reflected a simpler, country way of life. Her figurines are all retired now, but over the first few years of our marriage, Bob and I would collect many of them together.

Over the years, our tastes changed dramatically, and we opted for more modern expressions of the Christmas season. The Eddie Walkers found their way to back bedrooms or to the downstairs family room. Some years I just didn’t unwrap them at all. This year, however, I found myself desperately longing for those days when things were so much simpler. As I dug through the Christmas boxes and bins in the basement, I lovingly unwrapped those Eddie Walkers. I took them upstairs and placed them in plain sight for all to see who visit us this holiday. It was just one step, but in giving those figures a prominent place in our home, I felt like I was taking back a lost tradition from a time where dreams were big and expectations were few. Life already seemed a little bit simpler.

The question I had to ask myself was, “Why shouldn’t it be?” The birth of the child we’re celebrating was far from grandiose. The King of Kings was wrapped in nothing more than a cloth and laid among stable animals. Other than the gifts that the Magi bestowed upon Him, everything else was as simplistic as it could be. If such humble beginnings were good enough for the Prince of Peace, shouldn’t it be for us as well? In this age of instant gratification and constantly doing, isn’t Christmas the perfect time to catch our breath and find reasons to experience a bit of nostalgia and peace? Unfortunately, most of us do the exact opposite this time of year. I know I stand guilty as charged. I worry about the right decorations, the right gifts, the right food, the right time to go to church, the right outfit for each Christmas party. I become a product of my surroundings, a frazzled, hot mess! This year, I decided to take it back a notch. I did a lot of shopping online. I limited the number of social commitments we made, I even took Christmas dinner with extended family from a traditional, formal, sit-down to a finger foods and sandwiches party.

So I ask you, how can you simplify your holiday this season? Do you have your own version of our Eddie Walkers that you can dust off this Christmas? Or maybe you have a traditional recipe your family used to make when you were younger that you haven’t made in years. Maybe it’s turning off the phone for a few hours each evening or simplifying a usually complex meal. Whatever it is for your family, I hope that you can recover a bit of nostalgia this Christmas season that will help you to de-stress and remember a simpler time of joy and love. God bless you all and Merry Christmas.

Posted in Faith, Family, Inspiration, Uncategorized

Christmas Lists

I think I heard a communal sigh from some of you when you saw the title of this post, as in, “Gee Jen, could we get through Halloween first? Walking into any retail store and seeing it decorated for Christmas when it’s not even Halloween is disconcerting enough, but do we have to read about it in blog posts too?” Believe me, I COMPLETELY understand. I promise you all that the jack-o-lanterns are still burning brightly at our house as we gear up for Trick-or-Treat, Halloween parades and the like. It’s just that as November quickly approaches, there are those in both mine and Bob’s families who like to get their holiday shopping done earlier rather than later, so it is about this time every year that I hear the familiar call of “Christmas lists please!” and have to sit down with Bob and the kids to see what I can pull out of them.

Last evening as I sat down to begin to compile lists for our family, I titled my note “Christmas Lists 2013” and underneath listed each person’s name: Bob, Meghan, Jake and Jen. Even Daisy, our puppy, who is barely teetering on the “Naughty” into the “I’m going to have to find a new home” list found a place in my notes. As I began to jot down a few things for everyone, a quiet voice seemed to whisper at the back of my mind, “Where am I on your list?” to which I immediately responded by writing God at the top of my paper. I sat there pondering this a moment, feeling a little bit like the little drummer boy who claimed to have no gift to bring to the Christ Child. I began to think about what gifts I might give to God this coming holiday season and one finally came to mind, time.

Time I could certainly spare. Over the past several weeks I had realized that the time I had been spending in prayer with God had certainly dwindled. It was not until I was gravely ill and back in the hospital with health scares abounding, that I began to desperately call out to Him again and ask Him to help me keep my eyes fixed on Him. When I was sick, I received two devotionals in care packages from close friends. One is Jesus Calling: Enjoying Peace in His Presence by Sarah Young. This book is uniquely written from the perspective of Jesus as if he was having a personal conversation with you. There are so many days when I have gone to that book now and the message for a particular day is exactly what I needed both emotionally and spiritually. The reading for each day is short and the supportive biblical verses are right there for you to examine more closely. I highly recommend it! The other is Prayers for a Woman’s Soul by Julie K. Gillies. For all your ladies out there, as busy moms and/or executives of our careers, it is easy to bombard heaven with prayers to meet everyone else’s needs. But how often do you pray for your own needs? As daughters of faith, we need to be open to a daily offering of our own needs up to God, and Prayers for a Woman’s Soul is a great way to begin.

Anyway, I’ve digressed a bit. The important takeaway here is that no matter how much time we’re currently spending in prayer, we could always give God a little bit more of our time. God is completely crazy about us and wants us to spend time with Him. Though He knows the interworking of our souls, He desires to hear our voices in prayer, whisper to us in the silence of our minds and hearts and bathe us in the joy of His presence.  Psalm 4:3 says, I know the Lord has set me apart for Himself; the Lord hears when I call to Him. Psalm 21:6 says, Surely you have granted Him eternal blessings and made Him glad with the joy of your presence. Did you ever think that you could make God happy just by being you in His presence? 🙂 Do you know that even in “seasons of silence” God is always listening to you and loving that You trust Him with your needs?

I know it’s not Christmas yet, but who says we have to wait? Give God the “treat” of your time at Halloween, share with Him the bounty of your thanks at Thanksgiving. Best of all, I dare you to include Him on your Christmas lists this year. What will you give to the Kings of Kings this year? I hope you will all challenge me to answer that question as well as we head toward these upcoming holidays.

God Bless and Easy Breathing!

Posted in Being a Mom, Faith, Family, Uncategorized

In Prayer There is Rest

About a week and a half ago our eight year old, Jake, started having nightmares. I remember the first time I heard his little feet scurrying across the wooden floor in our kitchen and then feeling him leap onto our bed in the wee hours of the morning. He shook Bob awake and I heard him whisper rather loudly, “Dad, I’m scared!” I vaguely remember Bob getting back into bed a bit later and me asking if Jake had settled down when I heard the now familiar thud of feet on the kitchen floor. I heard Jake scurrying back into our bedroom, now to my side of the bed, saying, “Mom, I’m still really scared and I can’t go back to sleep.” It happened multiple times that night and continued on for the next several nights much to mine and Bob’s dismay. After several continuous nights of very little sleep, both Bob and I realized our patience was quickly wearing thin. By the fourth night, we were at our wits end, both hoping that this would be the night we would all gain a good night’s sleep. After conducting closet and under-the-bed checks, putting the dog in Jake’s room, giving him a few special stuffed animals to cuddle with and talking at length about what was bothering him, I finally came up with a new solution that we probably should have started with in the first place, prayer.

That night when we were tucking Jake into bed, I told him that I thought we should tell Jesus how scared he was and ask that He take the fear out of Jake’s heart and mind so that he could get a good night’s rest. We said the prayer together, and whether it was a direct result of that prayer or the dose of Benadryl that we happened to give that evening for a flare-up of his itchy eczema, I give the good Lord two big thumbs up for hearing us.

Jake slept that night and has been sleeping soundly every night since. Each night at bedtime it’s been the same routine, adding a prayer thanking God for the rest He provided the night before and asking for him to watch over Jake through the night. Last night as we were tucking both kids into bed, Jake and I had prayed “the prayer” and then he said so innocently, “Mom, we’ve been saying that prayer every night now, do you think God is getting tired of hearing it?”

It was nice for once, to know a definite answer to his question. I smiled and said, “No honey, He never tires of our prayers. He may not always give us an answer right away or even the answer we want, but He never tires of hearing from us. Jesus is our friend and we can always confide in Him.”

Later that evening, after the kids had been asleep for a few hours, I thought some more about Jake’s question. I recalled how tired I had been when Bob and I were facing our late-night interruptions, yet it occurred to me that as often as we come before God with our own requests and interruptions, He never tires of us; our words never fall on deaf ears. I remembered something from Psalms talking about how God listens to and answers prayer so I looked it up. In Psalm 116, it says 1 I love the LORD because he hears and answers my prayers. 2 Because he bends down and listens, I will pray as long as I have breath! 3 Death had its hands around my throat; the terrors of the grave overtook me. I saw only trouble and sorrow. 4 Then I called on the name of the LORD: “Please, LORD, save me!” 5 How kind the LORD is! How good he is! So merciful, this God of ours! 6 The LORD protects those of childlike faith; I was facing death, and then he saved me. 7 Now I can rest again, for the LORD has been so good to me.

After reading those words, they only reemphasized what I had thought of earlier that evening that we should have put Jake’s nightmares to prayer from the very beginning. These verses are excellent reminders that God hears and answers our prayers, especially when we come to Him in child-like belief. In prayer there is rest; of that I have no doubt.

 

  

 

Posted in Being a Mom, Faith, Family, Inspiration, Uncategorized

Daisy Mae

TODAY’S FORECAST: Cuddly

Some of you have inquired about my absence on the blog and were worried that something had happened with my health that had not allowed me to write. Thank you so much for your concern and I’m so sorry for worrying you; I should have posted something much sooner than today. I am here and actually feeling quite good for as much as Ohio weather has been on a roller coaster the last few weeks. We’ve been fluctuating anywhere from the 40 degree (Fahrenheit) range to the 80 degree range in a single day! Let me tell you, I’m still convinced I could make BIG BUCKS in the meteorology field. These old bones and joints can feel those cold fronts coming a mile away. The “human barometer” is alive and well! 😉

As it always does, change has graced our lives in a number of ways over the past two weeks. First and foremost is the fact that we got a new puppy. Faithful readers meet, Daisy. Daisy, meet faithful readers. 🙂DSC07011

Daisy is a Morkie (a mix between a Yorkie Terrier and a Maltese). She is 2.5 pounds of pure puppy! She chews on everything with her sharp puppy teeth and loves to play tug of war with her rope. She goes wild when you say the word, “Treat” and sleeps in a pink bed with the word, “Princess” on it, which pretty much says it all. 🙂 She’s 11 weeks old and is working on being house-broken.  (She best be giving it an A+ effort too, because I’m getting really tired of following her around with the carpet cleaner!) She’s a total wuss in the rain but it could be because she is just a wee bit spoiled. She wags her little stump of a tail when the kids get home from school and we couldn’t love her much more, despite her ornery and stubborn nature.

After two weeks with Daisy I’m convinced that having a puppy is like having a baby all over again but worse at times. There are no diapers to contain the pee and poop when it doesn’t land outside where it should. Between running to grab her to avoid an inside accident and running to get her outside to the backyard just in time, I’m getting plenty of exercise. While the exercise is good, this Mama is one tired lady at the end of the day. Blogging? Well blogging has had to wait during this baby stage. Mom needs to sleep when the baby sleeps to keep up with her. So yeah, at the moment, creativity will have to wait a little while. It’s funny, by the time Bob gets home from work, instead of hearing about what the kids did I’m usually whining and saying, “Do you know what YOUR dog did today?” He says it reminds him of when the kids were toddlers and getting into all kinds of things and I used to say, “I need five minutes of peace, just five minutes.”

The puppy teething might be even worse. It means utter destruction if you leave a her unsupervised for even just a second. The corner of my new entertainment center took a mild beating when I left her so I could take my own “potty break” the other day. Anything she can get her little mouth around is fair game, including toes, fingers, shoe strings, sandal straps, corners of furniture, strings under the furniture, electrical cords, etc. Bob jokes some days that we’re going to give the people we purchased Daisy from fifty cents on the dollar just to have them take her back. Depending on her degree of stubbornness, it may go from fifty cents, to a quarter, to FREE, to we’ll pay a quarter on the dollar to give her back!!! LOL.

I have to admit that when Jake carries her around and proclaims proudly, “This is my puppy,” or when I overhear Meghan say, “Daisy do you want sissy to take you outside?” my heart melts just a little.  The kids are great with her and surprisingly helpful too. We did make a family pact together that we would all help take care of her; and though there’s been a few expected sighs during this second week, they still get up to feed her or take her out when we ask. Daisy has definitely brought our family closer together and blesses us with her light and energy. Maybe that was God’s intended purpose for her to be in our family. I know he has a purpose for everything, even sharp puppy teeth!!! 🙂

DSC07085

I promise I will write as time allows. I’ll have more news about the changes God is bringing to our life as well as puppy updates, I’m sure. God bless and easy breathing!!! Love and peace until we meet again. 🙂

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in Being a Friend, Being a Mom, Being a Wife, Faith, Family, Inspiration, Uncategorized, Womanhood

Keeping Up with the Joneses

TODAY’S FORECAST: Grateful

So today, we cover the final piece of the ten commandments in 100% Chance of CHANGE’s first ever series, GPS of Faith:

You shall not covet your neighbors’ goods.

In lieu of a post today, I want you to check out a website instead, if you would. It is called Who are the Joneses?

DIRECTIONS:

1. Click on the website link or copy and paste it into your web browser. http://whoarethejoneses.org/

2. Do what it says, go ahead and enter your salary (or your total household income), and hit ENTER,  I DARE YOU! 🙂 Read what it says.

2. Click on Nevermind the Joneses

3. Read and follow the prompts.

4. Comment on the blog FB page or on this post what your experience was.

Whatever your walk in life is, I guarantee this will make you think.  Happy Friday and many blessings this weekend to you and yours.

God Bless and Easy Breathing!

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in Being a Friend, Being a Mom, Being a Wife, Faith, Family, Inspiration, Uncategorized, Womanhood

Little White Lies

TODAY’S FORECAST: Honest

Well, it’s been a few days since my last post, so I’ll pick up on where I left off on the GPS of Faith series in reviewing the 10 commandments. Considering I combined multiple commandments on a few of the posts, I just realized that this leaves us at the second-to-last post, so we’re down to the home stretch and then this series will be finished. Congratulations on sticking it out with me, we’ve almost made it! 🙂

Today’s focus commandment is this:

You shall not bear false witness.

I don’t know how anyone could argue that “bearing false witness,” otherwise known as lying, has become almost as natural as breathing in our society. We lie about all sorts of things from falsifying our looks for the sake of youth to telling our kids that they are the very best, brightest and strongest, even if they’re not. I recently read an article published online by Huffpost Healthy Living from September, 2012 http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/09/09/why-we-lie-time-factor-truth_n_1862384.html. The article quoted a Notre Dame Psychology Professor, Anita E. Kelly, Ph.D., as saying “Recent evidence indicates that Americans average about 11 lies per week.” How sad that is. That’s quite a lot of false witnessing right there! I don’t think there’s much then to be argued that this commandment is still applicable today. In the article Dr. Kelly went on to say that, “We found that the participants could purposefully and dramatically reduce their everyday lies, and that in turn was associated with significantly improved health.” So let me get this straight. Lying is not only wrong in God’s eyes, but can also negatively impact our health? Then why the heck do we do it?

Studies have shown that most of us are not spending those 11 lies a week telling the “really big whoppers,” but the “little white lies” that easily slip into our social banter. We all know that lying is wrong; however, if we are honest with ourselves, we would probably realize that we tell a few too many “little white lies” than we’d openly care to admit. For most of us, telling a lie seems like a simple way of sparing people’s feelings, avoiding conflict, saving ourselves from embarrassment, protecting our kids or inflating our own self-esteem. Have you ever heard yourself saying something like:

“You’ve put on weight? Seriously, where?”

“Of course I would tell you if I was upset with you, we’re friends, aren’t we?”

“That’s funny, I never got that paperwork.”

“Sorry I’m late, traffic was backed up because of an accident.”

“There are no losers, honey, only winners.”

“I shot a 67 on the course last weekend!”

“We can afford the Lexus. We’ll pay this credit card off as soon as you get your next bonus.”

It’s so easy to convince ourselves that lies like these are not only okay, but also a way of survival in this crazy world we live in. So let’s turn the tables for a moment. What if God was the one telling us the “little white lies?” Imagine if He had said:

“That fig leaf ensemble looks fabulous on you, Eve!”

“Cain, your offering wasn’t all that bad, you’re still a winner in My eyes.”

“Why Moses, of course you can part the Red Sea all by yourself. You can do anything you put your mind to.”

“You should have seen it; I sent those Israelites steak and eggs, right down from the heavens!”

“Don’t be ridiculous, Jonah, they’re really not that bad in Nineveh, just a little misguided that’s all.”

“Well Martha, I know Lazarus has been dead for four days, but with you in charge, of course the tomb won’t stink.”

“Mary, you’re highly qualified. This being the “Mother of Jesus” thing will be a snap!”

“It’s okay, Judas, I’m sure you needed the money.”

Sounds ridiculous right? Well, it’s just as ridiculous as the lies we tell each other. Remember folks, the devil is the “father of lies,” the “king of ridiculousness.” He is the one that secretly convinces each of us that we’re not good enough or that if we tell the complete truth, God will not be there to fulfill whatever void we believe is being created. As I’ve mentioned in a couple of posts, he is also the master of subtlety. He doesn’t attempt to take our hearts with the “tall” tales he plants his seed with little untruths. That is why we have to come together and pray that we can guard our hearts against them. Remember, whether we classify them as “big whoppers” or “little white lies” we’re still breaking God’s commandments.

Challenge for the week: Honestly look at the times you “stretch the truth” and see why you do it. Ask God for guidance and forgiveness in this area.