Monday, June 27, 2011

Rise and Shine!

I may be dating myself a bit here, but when I was young, they taught us that uber annoying song in church "Ri-ise, and shi-ine, and give God the glory, glory!"  You know this song.  I know you do.  And if you don't, you're probably too young to enjoy this blog anyway.

*Sidenote- does it ever seem like my blog is one big ADD reel, complete with rabbit trails and random thoughts of digression?

Any how... where was I?  Oh yes!  The song.  So last year when I replaced my broken phone, I noticed I had an alarm on my phone.  Because, yes... my phone is now officially smart (and broken, as well- thankyouverymuch Shepherd.)  So for my alarm, I decided I would write the lyrics to that song.  I thought it would be a super brilliant idea to get that song stuck in my head every single morning until...  until I remembered to delete it  (note to self- delete annoying alarm).

So every single morning at 6:00a.m., my phone sends me a text message saying "Rise and shine and give God the glory!" You're welcome.  I know it's stuck in your head now, too.  At the time, though, this seemed like a brilliant plan.  I was feeling super "Christian" when I did it.  I guess I thought if I saw that little beeping note that I would suddenly be transformed in to this amazing, wonder-Christian.  Um.. not so much.  Honestly, most mornings I just hit the ignore button.  And some mornings I hear the buzz and think of a curse word because I'm still too tired.  So perhaps this wasn't the most brilliant plan...

But then there are mornings like today.  I didn't hear the buzz this morning because I was too busy drooling on my pillow.  However, when I did manage to unstick my pillow case from my face and wipe away last night's mascara, I looked down at that little reminder on my phone.  I went to hit ignore, but something made me open it.  When I read it, I saw this "Rise and shine and give God the glory!"  And for once, I didn't want to scream, or whine about how tired I was.  I realized why I had put that in there.  It wasn't to remind me never to traumatize my children with annoying songs.  It was so that I could remember why God put me here.  Yes, I did manage to have a deep thought before I had my coffee (who knew?!?)

But it made me think of this verse: "Whether, then, you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God."  So then as I dressed this morning and went about my day, I stopped and made time to think about my actions and my words.  I made a conscious choice to honor God as often as I remembered.  So maybe I shouldn't delete that little alarm.  It kind of makes me think of the Sunny D guy anyhow..  made me giggle today and who knows what will happen tomorrow?  

As I'm about to nod off, I have one thought- today, I chose to honor God.  I don't know what tomorrow holds for me and for my family, but in spite of the difficulties and tough news that came my way today, I was blessed indeed.  So here's to being transformed by a silly little preschool song- here's to being renewed and to being reminded why we are here- to give HIM all honor and glory.

"And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect." Romans 12:2

No Longer I,

The Real Life Mom

Answered Prayers... Savannah And Other Miracles

Since I was sharing with you that I was trusting God for some pretty huge things, I wanted to share with you some pretty awesome requests that He has answered over the years.

Let's start with Savannah.  

Have I ever told you how she came into my world?  I didn't give birth to this little angel, but God knew I'd need her.  Savannah is my step daughter (Kyle's daughter from before we were married).  When I was 20, a doctor told me I would likely never have children... ha!  I was DEVASTATED because I loved children so much (and when I say loved... I don't mean in the past tense- except at 6:00am on Saturday morning when all I want to do is sleep in... but I digress).  I desperately wanted children of my own, but had given up any hopes I had after that horrible doctor visit.

So anyway, after Kyle and I started dating, he told me he had a baby.  Her name was Savannah.  The first time I met her, I fell in love... like head over heels, I wish I had given birth to you so I could hold you all of the time and love on you like my own baby... L.O.V.E, mother-child love.  Then Kyle and I got pregnant (SURPRISE, DOC!)  and shortly, thereafter, we were married.  We were able to see Savannah every other weekend, but there was so much strife between her mother and I that it became more of a hassle.

Then we gave birth to Trinity and those feelings of selfless, adoring love came flooding right back in.  It wasn't when I first saw her... I mean, I WAS on some pretty intense drugs and kind of out of it, so to me she looked more like an alien, less like what I thought a newborn should look like.  Buuuuuuuttttt....  eventually they placed her in my arms and I fell deeply in love with that little alien.  I cuddled her and loved her and couldn't wait to bring her home.

A couple of years (and some tragic situations) passed and then I was supposed to be picking Savannah up from her 2nd birthday party outside of Chuck-e-Cheese.  Being the mature woman I was, I allowed myself to get drawn in to an argument over emotions about Kyle and so many other unimportant details.  I said things to Savannah's mom (Heather) that I should NEVER have said.  I acted in a way that was so unbecoming... blame it on the hormones because did I mention that I was pregnant by this time... again???  (I seriously need to give that genius doctor a Christmas card... from my whole family).  I digress... yet again.  Blame it on the ADD.

Anyway, I went home from that party without Savannah and very upset with her mother.  I felt so justified in my thoughts and actions and I just knew she was wrong... but it didn't matter.  That night, God gripped my heart.  He told me He had a plan to use this precious baby (Savannah) for His glory and that I should make every attempt to reconcile with heather.  So I did.  I wrote this woman an eight page letter- during which, I poured out my heart.  I apologized for the way I acted, for the words I said.  I told her how I felt God was telling me to make it right.  I didn't remember what all was said, but I presented the letter to her with cupcakes (a sort of peace offering).  Not sure if it was the letter or the cupcakes, but something got to her...  :)

That day, my life changed forever.  God used that letter to open the door for a beautiful friendship to begin.  He brought Heather and I so very close.  He allowed a friendship/ mentor-mentee relationship to begin and seven years later, we are closer than we've ever been.  That's not to say we never disagree or argue, but as with any friendship, we have come together in His name, for His glory.  God has used this situation to bless Heather's family and my own.  He has allowed freedom where bondage would otherwise dwell.

Not only did God give me four children of my very own, but He also gave me a precious angel and her mother to love.  I don't share that so I can boast of anything awesome that I did.  If I had things my way, I would have ignored God and there's no telling where we'd be today.  But I wanted to share this to show you how awesome God is! Against all odds, God used this situation to turn me into a mom- a real life mom.  So I praise Him for the opportunity to know and love this precious angel and her family.  And I praise Him for working in a seemingly-hopeless situation to bring Him all honor and glory!

No Longer I,

The Real Life Mom

All Things

Did I ever tell you I wasn't supposed to be able to have children?  Yep.  That's right.  About ten years ago, a doctor confirmed that I had severe endometriosis, causing scarring that would prevent me from having children.  1,874,328 children later, I can clearly see that God had other plans.  I have some friends who haven't had it so easy, though.

I can remember sitting in our class on Sunday morning about 4 years ago.  I was pregnant with my third child- a TOTAL surprise (as were they all).  A friend of mine had been trying to get pregnant for a couple of years. I announced that I was pregnant.  My friend said that she was completely broken-hearted because so many of us "just so happened" to get pregnant and at this point, she would have done anything for a baby of her own.  I felt horrible. 

So I began to pray for this couple.  I wanted God to intervene and bless this precious family with a child of their own.  But He did not.  Another year passed and they were still  not pregnant. Then something crazy happened.  God had been moving in my heart and in my life.  He was changing me and teaching me how to pray and to trust Him.  During one of my quiet times, I felt like he was telling me that I needed to pray over this couple- like out loud.  Because... you know...  ya,I didn't know either.  At this point, I was NOT one to pray out loud.  The very thought made my sweat... like under the arms, ringing wet, shaky voice, sweat.  

This was a huge step in my prayer life.  I remember hearing a sermon during this time about faith and what it meant to really trust God.  I had always told people I'd pray for them and usually just went on about my own business, but something inside of me was really changing.  I felt like God was really pressing me to be bold- to step out in prayer.   I asked these friends of mine if they would meet me at a Wednesday night prayer service.  I was nervous.  I mean, what if God didn't answer?  What if I looked like an idiot?  What if I gave them false hope and they really weren't supposed to have any children?  Would they hate me?

More than nervous, I was afraid of what would happen if I wasn't obedient.  I mean- would He still work?  I knew He was telling me to do this, so the excitement of watching Him work conquered any fears that I had.  So my friends met me down front one Wednesday evening and I prayed for them.  I laid my hands on them and I prayed the first bold prayer I'd ever prayed.  I claimed life in a dry womb.  I claimed victory in Jesus name.  And for the first time in my life, I felt like God was giving me authority to speak in His name.  So I claimed that in His name, this beautiful couple would be blessed with a child.  I was so excited because from my core, I felt like God was really going to do this- to honor this prayer.  But still, a small part of me was nervous.  

For the next month, I continued to pray and believe that He was going to work.  One night, God gave me a dream of that sweet family and with them- a precious little child.  And then I knew.  I knew He'd done it.  So the next time I saw them at church, without hesitation, I asked her if she was pregnant.  The tears of joy in her eyes were all of the confirmation I needed.  God had, indeed answered our prayers.  He blessed this family with their very greatest desire and gave them their first child.  

I don't think there was anything magical about my prayer.  I don't think God needed me to do this.  I think he could have and would have performed this miracle with or without me.  He chose me for this particular task and today I was so blessed to learn that they are now expecting their third baby.  It wasn't just about a baby. It was about learning to trust.  I saw God show up in a way I'd previously only ever heard of and that experience didn't just bless me- it caused my faith to multiply exponentially and increased the faith of my family and the faith of everyone we knew.

I read this in my quiet time today:  "The prayer of a person living right with God is something powerful to be reckoned with." James 5:16  And to this, I say amen.  This experience taught me so many things, but one of the greatest things I learned was that prayer is the real work.  God doesn't NEED us to pray, He WANTS us to pray- to admit that we are not in control.  I love that verse- something powerful to be reckoned with.  Alone, we can do nothing, but Matthew 19:26 says "Jesus said to them, With people this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”  

So, congratulations to my dear friends!  I cannot wait to meet your new little prince or princess!  Every time I see your sweet family, I am reminded of just how powerful prayer really is!  Thanks for letting me be a part of this fabulous journey with you guys!  A few years ago, I never would have dreamed we'd be hearing the announcement of the third baby.  This is such a testimony of God's awesome power and His goodness.

"With God ALL things are possible."

No Longer I (in my prayer life),

The Real Life Mom

Tuesday, June 21, 2011


I know I'm a little bi-polar in my posting.  One day you see the super-happy-almost-as-if-I-were-on-drugs post and then you have the what-in-the-world-whoa-is-me-whiney-girl post.  I hope you know by now that I am on medication for this.  I'm so kidding.  But I was laughing at myself after I posted yesterday's post about feeling let down by God and being honest about it- because after I posted it, I clicked on the "view blog" link. As I was re-reading the post, I read the post before it where I joyfully described praying big and why it's important to pray until something happens and all of my own posts from the Christi version of Hallmark's "Jesus" collection.

So anyway, as I was laying in bed last night, I was thinking to myself.  First I felt somewhat like an idiot for being so transparent with my emotions on the blog.  But then I really felt silly for not doing that much sooner.  I think sometimes people look at the blog and think I seem to have all of the right answers, or that my life is so "put together", but in reality, I blog what I want you to see.  So where you see me and my life as being super-positive, it's usually only after wrestling with some really tough stuff.

So as I was laying in bed last night, I went through the whole realm of emotions.  I prayed and when I didn't feel like I was getting anywhere with my prayers, I went through the ACTS prayer: Adoration. Confession. Thanksgiving. Supplication.  And then it hit me.  Perspective.

For me, perspective can be the difference between "I have 100 pounds to lose" and "I've lost 14 pounds already!"  Or "My life is so hard right now" and "Wow- life could be so much more difficult... thank you Lord for all you have done for me."  So it started with the adoration... that's when my heart started changing as I verbalized who He is.  Then in the confession, I realized how selfish I had been in not realizing where God had shown up and how He has blessed me.  I then took time to thank Him for all that He has done... which has really been oh so much!  He has blessed me and my precious family so very much.  He has shown us His love and has poured out his blessings in spite of all of our screw ups, in spite of my multiple personalities :) in spite of my selfishness and sin.  He has been there for me- even when I haven't seen or felt Him.  And even though I may not feel Him now, He is here.

I held a VBS at my house last week and one of the key points that I was teaching the kids was that faith is trusting in what you can't see because of what you can see.  Did you get that?  Don't miss it.  My kids know this and have been reciting it to me for weeks now (thankyouverymuch WoodsEdge-Kid zone!)  :)  Faith is trusting in what you can't see because of what you can see.  Wow.  I can see God.  I see Him everywhere- in the trees, in the rain that we ARE going to get today... right?  :)  I see him in my children's smiles and in my precious marriage (THANK YOU LORD!)  I hear Him when my kids laugh and when I feel the wind blow on a hot day.  I see Him in the health of my children and in all of the amazing ways that He has provided for us.

I see Him.  I may be going through some really tough stuff and I may not always feel Him near.  I may have felt like He abandoned us, but that's because I forgot... I lost my perspective.  He is here.  He does love me.  he has not left me.  A token from the Jesus collection "I will never leave you or forsake you."  He promised us that in His word.  So who am I to question that?  Just because I can't feel Him doesn't mean He isn't working.  So I need to choose to have faith- to trust in what I can't see because of what I can see.  :)

Here's to more of us being real and choosing joy as we change our perspective and choose to trust.  Thank you Lord for your promises.

Signing off- No longer I,

The Real Life Mom

Monday, June 20, 2011

Better Than A Hallelujah

So I know sometimes I'm like "Sally Christian", meaning that I think I have the right answers, or at least Hallmark's answers from their "Jesus" collection- you know, things like "God never gives us more than we can handle" or "Everything happens for a reason"... blah, blah, blah.

Sometimes I get tired of the sound of my voice- or the words I've written. And then sometimes I read the things I write and I think to myself- huh...  good thoughts.  Maybe I  should try applying them.  But today?  Today I don't have any answers.  I don't have any advice or great thoughts to share.  Today I just want to curl up in a bawl and cry.

It's been one of those weeks...  actually, it's been a season of tough weeks, off and on.  Kyle and I are doing well, but the hand we've been dealt is a tough one to play.  Most of the time I choose to have a better attitude, but this week I feel like life's really been piling it on and so right now all I want to do is cry... but I'm literally too numb to even do that.

You see, I prayed for some really big things.  I asked God to intervene on so many levels in so many different areas of my life... and He didn't.  With all of my heart, I believed He would show up and rescue us, but it didn't happen the way I thought it would.  I felt like He'd let us down.  I felt like He had turned His back on us.  I asked Him what I had done wrong or why I was being punished.    And there was no answer.  I screamed.  I shouted at Him.  I cried to Him.  All I wanted was an answer, but as of yet.... nothing.  I was actually mad at God.  Isn't that funny?  Mad.  At God.  Huh.

Sometimes writing is therapeutic for me.  I analyze life as I write it out and sometimes I come up with a solution either through prayer or scripture but this time I'm dry.  I have no answers.  I just know that there is a song I hear often on the radio by Amy Grant.  I think it's called Better Than a Hallelujah.  One of the lines "We pour out our misery, but God just hears a melody.  Beautiful, the mess we are!  Honest cries of breaking hearts... better than a hallelujah sometimes."  Yeah... not feeling so beautiful right now- actually feeling more mess than beautiful.

None-the-less, I'll keep crying out to Him.  Even though I don't feel Him here.  Even though I'm in a desert time.  I tried to worship in church yesterday but it felt so forced and all I wanted to do was scream "SERIOUSLY??!?!?"  I guess I just feel like He would rather me be honest with Him than sing meaningless words from an empty place.  Even so, something within me fought against these emotions in church.  I fought to try to connect with Him in worship, but I was still numb.

Anyway, I know I'm long winded.  I guess all of these words today could be summed up by saying this- please pray for me.  More than anything right now, I don't need words.  I don't need to be encouraged or to hear anything more from Hallmark.  I just need HIM.  Thanks for listening and thanks for praying.  Deep down, I know He is listening and I know He is there, so please just don't stop praying.  He will come through and He will turn my mourning in to dancing... eventually.  In the mean time, this is me- about as real as it gets, signing off.

Still working on becoming... NO LONGER I.

The Real Life Mom.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Pray Big

First trimester.  Four years ago.  I was pregnant with Jacob and although he was my third child, I had never experienced sickness before so I was unprepared for this.  Within the first few weeks I got sick... like really sick.  Like more sick than I had ever been in my life.  I was married to my bathroom but still had two toddlers (one with special needs) to take care of.  The sickness lasted for about 16 weeks, during which I was teaching Trinity how to pray.  I can remember about week ten she came into the bathroom one day while I was sick and asked if she could pray for me.  I thought surely it wouldn't make a difference, but, clearly I was wrong.  You see, Trinity honestly thought that if she asked God for something He would make it happen.  She believed.  She prayed with childlike faith and as soon as she stopped praying and removed her hands from my tummy, I felt better.  I was amazed.  She did this every day until the sickness was completely gone and each time I would feel better right away.

That entire pregnancy was a lesson in prayer and faith for me.  I had prayed for things in the past and felt like God hadn't come through for me, so I had little to no faith in His abilities.  I had put Him inside of a box.  But Trinity still believed.  She knew without a doubt that God would heal me... and He did (each time increasing both her faith and mine).  I don't know how God works or why He chooses to answer some prayers and not others.  I don't know why He chooses to heal some and not others.  I do know that He has a plan and that His ways, although mysterious are ultimately the best ways... but even still- trusting when you feel like you've been let down or ignored can be difficult.

I remember when my parents separated 15 years ago.  I prayed for FOREVER for them to reconcile.  I honestly believed God would bring them back together but that didn't happen.  They divorced and each went on to live separate lives.  I've prayed for freedom from certain struggles for most of my life and still... they remain.  Since we've been married we've had financial struggles.  In the beginning we were just poor stewards of our income.  Then we took steps to become better stewards of what God had given us but still... we struggled (and continue to struggle).  I have prayed and prayed- I have prayed- face down on the floor, bawling my eyes out.  I have begged and pleaded.  I have wrestled with God on this for our entire nine year marriage... and still, things are tight.  In fact, they are beyond tight.  This past week I wrote checks for a few bills.  I thought we'd have the money.  I was sure it would be there.  I prayed and trusted God and I just knew without a shadow of a doubt that the money would be there... but it wasn't.  

Kyle barely works right now because he's in school and I don't have an income producing job outside of the home.  In the past, God has provided in some amazing ways.  In fact, if I told you some of the really cool ways he has worked, you would be astounded (and it would take FOR.EV.ER) because He is that awesome and His timing has always been perfect.  So then, why didn't He show up this time?  Why didn't Kyle get more work the past week or two?  Why didn't I find a job?  I'm not sure.

But I know God has a plan- His plan for our good and for His glory.  It's hard to trust when you feel like you've been let down, but I'm choosing to press on.  I am praying big prayers, for more than just finances.  I am praying for a long list of things right now but as a friend told me yesterday on Facebook:  I'm praying big, praying bold, and praying often.  I am claiming victory over these circumstances that have bound us and I am going to keep petitioning God until something happens!  Don't they call that P.U.S.H. praying? (Pray Until Something Happens).  I am trying to rediscover the faith that my kids have.  I am going to let go of my doubt and my fear (tools of the enemy, used to whittle away faith) and I am going to trust that my God can move these mountains.  

What did I say a few posts back?  Rather than pressing into the mountain, I should press into the one who can move the mountain!  So no more manipulating finances each week to just get by.  I am trusting God for something so much bigger than just getting by.  I am trusting him to COMPLETELY and TOTALLY provide for each and every one of our needs.  Where the government may have decided we didn't need financial aid, My God, who is so much bigger than our government, WILL PROVIDE.  Join me in praying and believing.

And if you have a request, please add a comment below or send me a private message.  I'm on a roll here and I'd love to include your requests in my prayer time.  I look at each of these requests as a opportunity to spend at my savior's feet, so please don't hesitate!  I look forward to seeing God work in each of these requests and in each of our lives!  Walk with me. Pray with me.  Believe with me!  No longer with the faith of a doubting adult, but with the faith of a trusting child...

No longer I,

The Real Life Mom

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

To The Teachers

I've always felt that teaching was a gift from God.  I know it's definitely something that requires an extra dose of patience, creativity, passion, and loving kindness.  Some parents choose to home school while others enlist the aid of the nurturing, caring individuals we call teachers.  I once read a parent describing their child's life as a notebook.  She asked the question: "Who is writing on the pages of your child's notebook?"

My son is somewhat difficult to teach.  He's easily distracted, passionate, excitable, but definitely high energy.  He loves to learn, but I know for a while I was definitely not the person to teach him.  So God gave me a team of amazing ladies who invested time and energy into loving and guiding my precious boy.  Each of these ladies (from the administrators to the special needs teachers to his homeroom teachers) played a role in shaping the man my son will one day become.

I have watched my son struggle through autistic tendencies, hyperactivity, and a delayed speech development.  I have prayed for him, cried with him, because of the situation, and most every night for a couple of years.  I thought I'd never see the day when he would read independently, or write stories, or do math and science with such excitement.

Today is Timmy's seventh birthday and not only did we get to celebrate his birthday but we got to enjoy the end of the year awards at school.  I watched as my son's name was called as part of the list of students who received straight A's.  Yes, you read that correctly.  Straight A's... for the year.  Those of you who know him know what an amazing feat that is!  And yes, we are so very proud.

But this boy- this child has been through so much, struggling every step of the way, so I never thought I'd see the day where his name got called on the list of students who made straight A's for the entire year.  The A's weren't because of me. They weren't because I'm such an amazing mom... (no comments from the peanut gallery, please).  The A's were because of the hard work, dedication, passion, love, generosity, patience, and creativity of his teachers.  Specifically, I'd like to thank Ms. Gillum this year.  Each year he has been blessed with phenomenal teachers, but this year was the icing on the cake.  Ms. Gillum stayed late, communicated with me almost daily as needed, and committed to my son to never let him fail.  She pushed and challenged him, working through the difficulties and distractions.  She pressed on when his behavior was at its worst and refused to cave when the pressure was high.

I'd like to take this opportunity to recognize this special teacher and all of the other teachers by saying this-

I send my kids to school because I believe I am not the best possible person to teach my children at this time.  What I get back from you guys are pages and pages of wonderful blessings.  There is no one else I would rather have writing on the pages of my children's lives than you amazing, precious ladies.  I know many of you have children, families, and friends of your own that you sacrifice time with to love on and to guide our kids.  You go out of your way to bless us and your efforts do not go unnoticed.  You are a blessing and you are changing lives... not just ours, but thousands of lives to come.  You are helping to shape the future of our world as you hold their little hearts and minds in your hands. So thank you for giving, for loving so fully.  Thank you for demonstrating patience and excitement for learning.  Thank you for going out of your way to help my child become the person he was created to be.  You have blessed us more than you know and I hope and pray that although you may never fully see the fruits of your labor, that you would know the world would not be the same without you.  My child would not be the same without you.

So here's to all of you wonderful teachers, ladies and gentlemen.  May God bless you and give you rest and rejuvenation as you prepare to pour into more lives next year.  You are appreciated.  You are loved.