Friday, July 26, 2013

Blessings Pour Down

"Because he loves me," says the LORD, "I will rescue him; I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name.  He will call upon me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble, I will deliver him and honor him.  With long life will I satisfy him and show him my salvation."   
Psalm 91:14-16

I find myself stopping at random points during the day this week to say "Thank you Lord."  That's all - short and sweet and heartfelt.  You know why?  Because I am feeling His blessings in my life in some special and visible ways.  Here's some history: my husband is a DoD (Department of Defense) employee.  As you may know President Obama decided in his infinite wisdom last year to institute sequestration if Congress didn't bend to his budget demands.  It hit the news and fizzled - after all, who cares about some fat-cat government employees getting a pay cut, right??  Unfortunately what people didn't (and still don't) understand is that the fat-cats don't feel the cuts.  This sequestration was targeted at people just like us - middle-class working families, many with children, who are trying to make a living for their family.  The result has been 11 days of furlough spread out over 11 weeks.  Allow me to translate - for 11 weeks Charles is "off" on Fridays because he's not getting paid.  It's a partial lay-off in layman's terms.  20% of our pay every week is gone.  Granted we still get to pay all of our bills at full price, but with 20% less money available to do so. 

Now, reading all about sequestration and its affects on our family you may be wondering why I'm writing about blessings.  Strangely enough, God's blessings are pouring through the clouds surrounding us right now.  I have been signed up with a freelance writing website for about a year now.  I had almost forgotten about this site until I started fretting about money and how we were going to make it financially right now.  I ended up exploring this site and accepting an article.  I spent about an hour writing, turned it in and made approximately $7.  Not too bad, but I'd sure have to take a lot of assignments in order to make up any pay Charles has lost.  Imagine my surprise Wednesday when I opened the site and had a team invitation.  I have been invited to join a team that writes an average of 20 articles a week, with the opportunity to do more if I'm able.  Would you believe that writing 20 of these articles will make me almost exactly the amount we are losing to sequestration every week? 

I was stunned and incredibly humbled by this discovery.  I have been worried to the point of sickness over this whole situation and I finally hit bottom with it last weekend.  I sat down and had a long conversation with God about this whole business and gave it to him completely.  For Real!  I didn't grab it back immediately so I could worry some more.  I handed my burden over to his more-than-capable shoulders and left it there.  Needless to say it was very freeing and I started feeling better about the whole situation right then and there.  And three days later I am provided with a way to make up every penny that we are losing.  I don't think you could attribute this to anything but God and his goodness.  I am floored and comforted by his overwhelming care and protection.  I hope that you, too, will give him your burdens.  I can't guarantee you'll have the same answer, but I promise you He will provide for you.  His blessings will pour down on you!

Wednesday, July 17, 2013


26 You are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus, 27 for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. 28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. 29 If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise. (NIV)
Galatians 3:26-28
I can't tell you how many times this verse has gone through my head today as I continue to hear anger, pain and hurt from both sides of the Zimmerman / Martin controversy.  People are in pain, families are hurting, and of course the media is right there spreading the hate around.  Why?  Why do we do this to each other?  What is wrong with us as a country when the federal government involves itself in a situation just because the verdict was not guilty?  Are we really so petty?  Apparently we are.  It makes me sad and disappointed in my fellow Americans. 
It's times like this that I can just picture the devil rubbing his hands in glee.  We are letting ourselves get drawn into the "race" arguments and hard feelings and ignoring the needs of people all around us.  Are you going to fix anything by stoking the fire?  How can we expect anyone to heal if we constantly shove this in peoples' faces?  We've got to get it together my friends!  Wake up and realize that pointing fingers and judging people you don't know will set you right into Satan's palm. 
What does Paul tell the Galatians?  "There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus."  I think God would allow me to add "black or white" to this verse to make my point.  We're all the same in Christ Jesus.  Men, women, African, Asian, Indian, or Caucasian, and the list goes on.  If we're all children of God these differences we have don't matter.  Skin color especially - do you realize skin color is all about the amount of melanin in your skin?  More melanin = darker skin; less melanin = lighter skin.  It's such a silly thing to judge each other over!  I'm not saying we aren't all different, but culture plays a bigger part in our differences than skin color ever will. 
In this time of uncertainty and negativity I challenge you to be better.  Don't get mired in the controversy.  Hold on to God while others are holding on to the hate and anger.  Let God in so He can heal your hurts.  And pray that those at the heart of this very sad situation will do the same thing.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Happy Saturday!

Hello my friends!  Here are some great Dr. Seuss thoughts for you on this beautiful weekend afternoon...
Photo: Wednesday Wisdom <3 

Who says nursery rhymes are only for children!

Thursday, July 11, 2013

De-Vacation My Children!

Do you ever have to de-vacation your children after a trip?  You know what I mean - sit them down and explain that the world does not, in fact, revolve around them and their every whim, that we do actually have to get stuff done around the house, and that the pocketbook is not a bottomless reservoir.  Is it only me that has this problem?  I think not!!  I bet you know exactly what I'm talking about.  I made the tactical error of taking the girls to Wal-Mart yesterday before the de-vacationing speech and got nothing but "Can we get _____?"  "I really like ______," and the ever so subtle "I'm SOOO thirsty - that bottled water sure looks good..."  Yep, it was a pretty quick shopping trip followed by a much needed conversation about real life. 

So, how do we go about de-vacationing? 
Here's my feeble attempt:

1)  Try to get things back to normal-ish.  Monday morning we started back with the chore charts.  It's a way to ease us back into routine without killing anybody.  We're not being real sticklers on bedtimes or wake-ups yet since it's still summer break, but we are taking some time each day to work on math facts and make sure our normal tasks get done.

2)  Don't give in to the gimmees.  It's so easy on vacation to play the sentimental card and buy way more than any one kid needs to have, much less three.  If this happened during vacation you have to put a stop to it once you get home or you will find yourself drooling somewhere in an asylum corner before you know it!  While a little treating during vacation is nice, and even expected, you won't do your kids any favors if you continue the trend when you're home.  Kids need to know that there's a difference between our usual budget $$ and the $$ we set aside for vacation extras.  Otherwise you might as well paste a wallet to your head because that's all they'll see when you're around.

3)  Be honest.  Let your kids know that you had a budget for vacation and you have a budget for home.  If you spend at home like you do on vacation you might find yourself in a bad financial spot.  It's good for them to have a grasp, albeit not dollar amounts, on the budget.  For instance, as a DOD employee my husband is going to be furloughed for one day every week for 11 weeks - yay - which is affecting our budget.  I've sat the girls down and explained that things are going to be tight, and we won't be doing much extra.  It stinks that we have to deal with this over the summer, but what choice do we have?  We could ignore the cut in pay and spend our way right out of a home and into bankruptcy.  Not a smart move! 

4)  Be fun!!  The fun doesn't have to end just because vacation is over.  Try to keep that spirit alive when you get back home.  Let the kids camp out together if they want to.  Fire up the firepit and roast some s'mores.  Turn the sprinkler on and let them loose.  Visit the pool or the library - or both!  Try to remember, even as you get things back to "normal" that you only get this time with them once.  Let loose and have some fun with your kids!

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Where is my freedom?

With the 4th of July upon us our minds naturally turn to freedom.  We remember how blessed we are to live in this country: the land of the free and the home of the brave.  It's got me thinking about my freedoms as a parent and what they mean to me. 

What do I mean by free?  Let me put it to you this way - do you find fulfillment and freedom in your life as a parent or does it stifle and constrict you?  I think we all have moments that we identify with both sides of this question.  It's when we can't escape the constriction that we have to stop and fix things.  Being a parent should be a freeing and exciting journey for each one of us.  Whether you planned each of your miracles or were surprised, they are special and worthy of your time and energy.  You should be free to love them without restriction, to play with them without embarrassment, and to cuddle them without limitations.  What keeps you from claiming that joy?  I know what keeps me from it - I get distracted, I get busy, and I get so bogged down in the day-to-day muck of life that I don't feel free or joyful.  Instead of enjoying an outing I find myself thinking about what has to be done when we get home. 

So, how do we work ourselves out of the funk and into the freedom and joy of parenting?  I think the best way is improving our prayer lives.  I know that too often I lay a burden at God's feet only to take it up again later.  Really??  Am I really so arrogant that I think I can handle my stuff better than God can?  Apparently I am all too often!  It's a hard thing to give your burdens away for good.  I like to think I'm getting better at it, and most days I am, but there are some things that I have a hard time giving over.  However, when I'm successful I find that parenting becomes easier for me.  I'm calmer and more relaxed with my girls, which makes me more fun to be around. 

Along with improving our prayer lives we have to learn to lighten up!  Be silly with your kids - who cares if you look funny singing your heart out to One Direction songs?  Does it matter?  It means so much to your kids when you can sit down with them and be fun - play games, play Barbies or Legos, read together, make up silly stories, or color.  They don't care what it is.  So I'm going to challenge you to be free - claim your right to be a joyful, free parent and see how your children respond!