Monday, April 23, 2012

Mirrors of Motherhood

A few months ago I discovered my tween Crazy Horse had been writing on my bathroom mirror after her evening shower.  When I mentioned it to her, she was surprised by the interesting knowledge that although the writing disappeared when the steam vanished, it would reappear the next time someone took a shower unless the mirror had been wiped clean.  I had much fun teasing her about her mirror writing.  

This morning as I stepped out of the shower a message came into view.  In the middle of my mirror my crazy tween had written:  

I (heart) you 

In the process of posting this memory, I decided to fog the mirror one more time to see if I could capture the message with my camera.  Although I was unable to take a picture of the message from Crazy Horse, I did realize that I missed part of the original message this morning.  The complete message read:

I (heart) you
Mom &

I suppose this crazy tween has enough love for both of us.

What a wonderful "mirror" Monday.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Book Review: Everything Romance

There is no denying the fact that I am a hopeless romantic.  When presented with an opportunity to review a book of romantic ideas, I jumped at the opportunity.  The book, Everything Romance: A Celebration of Love for Couples by David Bordon and Tom Winters is published by Waterbrook Press.  It is a book overfilled with romantic ideas.  The authors have included numerous quotes on love, love stories that will bring tears of joy and happiness, food recipes, date ideas, various lists, poems, scriptures and prayers.  The book also includes gift ideas, love "busters" and love "boosters", lists and trivia and other interesting romance tidbits.

Lists included top 100 love songs, Ten Things a Couple Can Make, Besides Money, Made for TV matches and several others.  The book includes special love letters including Abraham Lincoln's Proposal and a letter from Mark Twain to his fiancee, Olivia Langdon.

This book is aesthetically appealing jacketed hardcover making it perfect for a wedding or anniversary gift for any couple.   There is a presentation page in the beginning of the book for gift giving.  

I found this book to have some familiar stories and many unfamiliar stories of love and romance.  It makes for a great coffee table or nightstand read.  I look forward to adding it to the list of possibilities for wedding gifts to encourage couples to continue to fan the flame of love and romance in their relationships.

I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review.

Click here to preview this book.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Created Perfectly Imperfect

Tea and Testimony
MOPS April 2012

I had a privilege to grow up in a Christian home, with parents who loved me and loved God and served our local church and neighbors with all their hearts and abilities.  I accepted Jesus Christ as my Savior when I was 7 years old. But that is only where my story begins.

I have been very blessed throughout my lifetime.  I excelled academically in high school and college.  I never seemed to have much difficulty in securing the jobs that I desired to obtain.  I excelled in my profession and received promotions as openings became available.  I may have even been on track for the Executive Director position of the organization I worked for when my world turned upside down in June of 2005.  Cale and I had been married for almost 6 years and were the proud parents of our oldest daughter, Haley.  Haley was almost three years old and we had just found out we were expecting our second child.  Cale was a bi-vocational pastor, fulfilling all the roles of a pastor and working part-time as an Associate Director of Missions to our local association of churches.  I worked full-time as a Director of Services for an Independent Living Center. My dad worked a construction job in Sedalia and would bring my mom to town each morning and she would provide that loving Grandma care to Haley in our home while Cale and I were both working.  

On Friday, June 10th, 2005, Cale, Haley and I returned home from our usual Friday night Burger King routine and received a phone call that my parents had been in a car accident and that my Dad was life-flighted to the University of Missouri Hospital in Columbia.  My Dad had incurred a severe head injury and was taken for immediate brain surgery to stop the bleeding on the brain. We were told by the ER doctor who first attended to my father, that the majority of people who present with this type of head injury do not survive. I know that God heard the prayers for healing voiced by so many people as the surgeon emerged and knelt before my mom and explained to her that when they got into surgery to stop the bleeding, the bleeding had already stopped and the swelling of the brain never reached a critical point they were anticipating.  This night was the beginning of weeks spent in the hospital and rehab for my father.  Four weeks later, my mom was admitted for brain surgery to release the swelling from a slow bleed that had gone undetected in her initial emergency room check up the night of the accident.  Today I am pleased to report that we are still blessed by the presence and overall health of both of my parents. 

These incidents are difficult to explain and to process.  For months, even years, I looked at the promise in Romans 8:28, were it reads "And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them."  However, I could not see how this event worked for the good of my parents, my siblings, myself and my family.

My parents' accident left Cale and I no choice but to place Haley in a local daycare facility.  We were pleased with the facility we were able to place her in; however, with another child on the way, we struggled with the idea and the financial burden of placing our second child in a daycare facility from birth.  This propelled us into thinking outside our box.  Cale was a volunteer firefighter and enjoyed the rush of every call.  He also had a strong desire to work with the ambulance.  Together we decided that he would pursue his EMT license and I would make plans to become a stay-at-home mom.  This was a title I never imagined on my resume. 

Our second daughter, Aspen, was born at the end of January 2006.  I took 7 weeks maternity leave and returned to work for a couple months before assuming my new position as a stay-at-home mom.  My new position brought with it many self-imposed "June Cleaver" style goals and the harsh reality of my "Lucy Ricardo" style struggles.

I've spent the last 6 years trying to figure out how to be a stay-at-home mom and wife.  Each day I feel like I come up short of the mark I've set for myself. The daily household tasks and child activities seem like they should be so simple, yet they continue to be some of the most difficult and frustrating tasks I've ever tried to accomplish.

Recently through my bible study of James, I have come to realize that the way I see "perfect" and the way that God sees perfect may be two totally different ideas.  In James 1:2-4, Jame's writes, "Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing."

My bible study points out that in these verses, the Greek word for perfect describes "that which has achieved or reached its goal, objective, purpose and therefore is full-grown and fully-developed."  

What this has taught me recently is that there are many "perfecting" events in our lives.  That doesn't make the event a "perfect" event.  It makes the event a point in our lives when God can turn our hearts and bring us closer to Him, if we are willing.  I previously quoted Romans 8:28, "And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them." This is the verse myself and many others hang our hat on when trials come our way; however, we tend to neglect the importance of the verse that follows. Romans 8:29: "For God knew his people in advance, and he chose them to become like his Son..." 

I've previously mentioned that I excelled in most everything I attempted in my young life.  I also mentioned that the title "stay-at-home mom" was never in the sights of my early ambitions.  I believe that God impressed this desire on my heart only in part for the benefit of my children.  Now, six years into this journey, I believe that God's bigger plan with this call on my heart was to use my imperfections to draw me closer to Him and to conform me in the likeness of His son, Jesus Christ.  God brought me to a place of my insecurity that I might learn to fully rely on him in my weakness.

Paul writes in 2 Corinthians 12:9-10," Each time he said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.”So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me. That’s why I take pleasure in my weaknesses, and in the insults, hardships, persecutions, and troubles that I suffer for Christ. For when I am weak, then I am strong."

I believe that my parents' accident was a "perfecting" event in my life.  It was an event that yielded my heart to become a stay-at-home mom.  It was an event that triggered events that later led us down a path that eventually brought us to Augusta, Kansas, almost two years ago.  A place where I have enjoyed an opportunity to grow new, wonderful friendships with many lovely ladies. And it is with those lovely ladies I have studied the Word of God in ways I never studied before.  It's a time and place in my life where I deeply miss my weekly lunches and grocery shopping trips with my sister and my mom. And God has used that hollow part of my heart to open my eyes and see each time I step into the grocery store as an opportunity to share God's love.

I now believe that my God has created me perfectly imperfect.  Imperfect in all the ways He wants to refine me and draw me closer to Him that His power and light can shine through my imperfection. Just as He blessed me in my abilities, He blessed me in my inabilities and uses them to display His strength and power and to bring glory and honor to His kingdom.

So I leave you with these questions, “In what way has God created you perfectly imperfect? What trial or struggle in your life does He want to use to bring you closer to Him?” and lastly, “Are you willing to let Him use it?”

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Book Review: Simple Secrets to a Happy Life

Doesn't everyone need a course in a happy life?  Luci Swindoll's book, Simple Secrets to a Happy Life, 50 ways to make the most of every day, is a book full of great topics to help you do just that.  Luci breaks down the secrets into five parts: Beginning with the Basics, Developing Your Style, Achieving Balance, Living a Good Life and Staying Connected.  Each part is composed of ten secrets.  Each simple secret is short and sweet and colored with examples to drive home the author's point.  Many secrets are laced with scripture or other quotations to encourage and uplift the reader.  The author also provides practical steps to help the reader achieve these simple secrets.  These secrets to a happy life cover a variety of topics from spiritual disciplines to organization and creativity to personal relationships with others.

I found this book to be a worthwhile read.  The author draws in her readers with personal stories from her childhood as well as her adulthood.  Each secret is only a couple pages in length and can be quickly and easily read.  I find the more difficult part is deciding to take action and implement it into my personal lifestyle.  Luci Swindoll has written more than a dozen books and curriculum studies.  This is the first of her works I have read, hopefully not the last.  I found this book to be very encouraging and would recommend it to my friends and family.

Simple Secrets to a Happy Life

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze®.com <http://BookSneeze®.com> book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 <> : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”