Christmas Eve 2014

It is Christmas Eve.  The kids are playing video games, Rico is at work & I’m sitting here (still in pain from a lame back injury) just thinking.  Thinking about what?  Everything, really.  It is a shame that life has gotten so busy & complicated that I have a hard time remembering what I did yesterday, let alone the beginning of the year.  Life has gotten so busy that I can’t even squeeze time to write about my day, which is mostly boring & only contains probably 18 “waking” hours.  I stumbled upon some pictures of the kids from probably 2-3 years ago.  How did they get so big?!  I only seem to notice it when I see old pictures or I buy them new pants.

No matter how many times I tell myself not to take this moment for granted, I get sucked into this world of: My-house-needs-to-be-clean-all-the-time, I-need-to-get-organized.  I’m so focused on being a ‘Martha’ that I often forget to be more like ‘Mary’.  I know that during the times I do choose to be ‘Mary’ I enjoy those moments so much.  Hearing the kids’ laughter & watching them be silly.  Having them snuggle up to me or forcing me to play League of Legends & hearing them say “We can’t win without you!”  It melts my heart, but yet, sometimes I still allow my weariness from the day overcome me & I choose to disappoint them.

I only have them for such a brief moment & then the day will come when I’ll be begging for THEIR time & they’ll be the ones too tired or too busy to come spend time with me.  I will then, feel the feelings, the emotions, the heart-break that they are feeling now.  I need to start the tradition of family being more important than a clean house, than schedules, so that when they start their own families, they will be able to cherish the moments that I’ve missed.

Well at least we have a few traditions for Christmas:

  • The putting up of the outside lights & decorations (mainly the boys do that)
  • Decorating the inside of the house including most ornaments & the little village (mainly the girls do that)
  • Putting up our personal ornaments together
  • Having hot cocoa
  • Opening up stocking stuffers
  • And their favorite…Santa’s scavenger hunt!

Next year they’ll be turning 10 & 12.  So close to the dreaded teenage years.  I’ve heard & seen so many horror stories.  I can only hope & pray that it won’t be as bad as I imagine.  It is a journey that not all parents get to take.  I should approach it with gladness.  God has always been there for me through difficult times, I know that this won’t be different.  I think the part that I am most scared of is when the kids have to go through THEIR difficult times & not being able to fix it for them.  That is when my trust in God will truly be tested.

Sweet note in microwave

A note from Kayla. The sad thing is that I don’t know what attitude she is referring to. Although I have been stressing over work so I was probably frustrated & took it out on her. Poor thing. I love getting these notes so much.

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Calvin & Hobbs

Calvin & Hobbs

This is so perfect for me! It describes me whenever I have a project that I should be working on, but not in the mood to do.

A God Moment

My intention was to go to work today & have a “normal” day; whatever my Monday routine is suppose to be.  It started with me waking up with allergy symptoms; to the point where my eyes felt swollen as if I had been crying the night before.  At around 7AM, Jadon comes out & tells me that BOTH of Spikes heat bulbs went out.  Both?! Really?  And of course there aren’t any extra bulbs lying around.  “Fine.  I’ll run to the store when it opens.”

Then just when I had hopes of leaving for school early enough to miss the traffic out of the school we end up running late.  Which of course then creates a stir in Kayla & now she’s in a bad mood.  And as we know, when she’s in a bad mood, I become in a bad mood almost instantaneously.  Thankfully, the traffic out wasn’t too bad, so I began to cheer up again.  I start to get excited knowing that I will soon be in my comfy, cozy, toasty bed.  Not even 10 minutes after my head hits the pillow, my phone rings.  It’s the school!  Jadon is on the line & he says, “Mom, can you bring a pumpkin? And can you bring it before 2?”  “Sure”, I sighed.  So I turned to Rico & said, “It looks like today will be an errand day, sorry.”

So as Rico is getting ready for work & I’m trying to relish in the comfort of my bed, I keep reminding myself to not forget to give Rico the flyers for Rose.  I’m sure you can guess what happened there.  “Ok, fine.  I’ll just get up, get ready, do my errands real quick & meet up with Rose by noon.”  As I’m driving to start my errand around 10:30 (opposite direction from where I’m meeting Rose), I get a text from her saying she’s ready to meet up.  Seriously?!

I run into Petsmart, grab a bulb, quickly drive over to Super Target & grab a pumpkin.  Alright, so far, so good.  I drive to the school & drop off the pumpkin, head home to replace the bulbs.  Put the 1st bulb in, then the 2nd, flipped the switch.  Why is it still dim? I take a peek & only 1 bulb is working! I DON’T HAVE TIME FOR THIS!  I just keep the 1 light on & rush back out of the house.  I don’t like being late to anything, especially when I know someone is waiting for me.  As I am driving down Leander, I try to laugh at myself & try to calm myself down.  As I’m thinking about how my day is going so far I think to myself, “Wouldn’t it be funny if I didn’t even have the flyers with me?”  [Now, I purposely put it in my study bag Sunday afternoon, knowing that I had Bible study the next day, with the intention to leave the bag in the car].  As I look at the floor to where the study bag was suppose to be, I noticed it was missing.  Where could it be?! Then I remembered, Sunday NIGHT, I had decided to bring it into the house in case I had time to do some of the homework.  Now, Leander Road is a country road with 1 road going in each direction & hardly any streets to turn into.  I finally decided to squeeze my MINI van into an itty bitty drive way & bust a U-turn back to my house.  Thankfully, I wasn’t too far.  I probably lost 10 minutes though.  That was pretty much my annoying day, aside from Kayla getting upset with me for no reason & not being able to finish half of my errands.  But through it all, I kept reminding myself of Psalm 118:24 “This is the day The Lord has made, we will rejoice & be glad in it.”  Which helped keep a smile on my face & a positive attitude.

So of course the next thing I did, what I normally do, I posted it on Facebook.  One of my church friends (SF) commented that I should listen to worship music.  I told her that I pretty much have 92.1 on my radio 99% of the time.  And that I specifically needed to hear Mandisa, Jamie Grace or Steven Curtis Chapman’s songs.  Their upbeat songs always make me smile.  Well, that was that, didn’t think twice about it.

Afterwards I dropped the kids off at work so UNCLE STEVEN can take them to their class.  As I head out to pick up my girls for Bible study, what song comes on?  Mandisa’s Overcomer.  I had to smile & thanked God for being such an awesome Comforter.

I picked up my girls & headed to Bible study.  Now whenever I have people in the car & we’re chit-chatting, I turn the radio off, so I had it off during the ride there & back.  When I was alone in my car heading home I turned the radio back on.  As I’m nearing 175, Jamie Gracie’s Hold Me comes on!!!!  What?! Seriously?!  I feel the “tingles” & I become overjoyed.  Then I think to myself, “How cool would it be to hear Steven Curtis Chapman’s Love Take Me Over?”  But as Jamie’s song is ending, I’m getting closer to my house.  So I figured, there’s no chance it would.  It would have to be IMMEDIATELY after this song.  Now THAT would be awesome crazy though!  But after the song, came a commercial.  “Ahh, oh well.  2 out of 3 is still pretty awesome.”  I was already trying to think of ways to manipulate it to happen by turning on the radio at home (which I never do on a weeknight) & leaving it on all night intentionally waiting for that last song.  But that wouldn’t be right & it would take away from what just happened, so I decided I wouldn’t do that.  Then I started thinking, “Well maybe someone on the FB thread will mention the song.  That will count!”  Haha!  As I was just about to turn into my street, the commercial ended, but the next song was not THE song.  I decided to check Spirit 105.  The DJ finished her conversation with a caller & the very next song was….LOVE TAKE ME OVER!!!  I am not even kidding!  You could not erase the HUGE smile I had on my face.  My heart was so filled with…I don’t know…God’s LOVE?!  My eyes teared up & at that moment I so felt his presence!  And I could imagine the smile He must have had seeing me smile & the joy He must have felt seeing me experience the joy He had just given me; that special moment that He gives & shares in with just you & Him.  Not only did He play the 3 songs I wanted to hear, but in the exact order I had named them.  There is no way you can say that was coincidence!  That was all God!

Quick side note to add to this AWESOMENESS:

In the Beth Moore video I watched tonight she had talked about that moment when you don’t only think, or hope, or have faith that He is there with you, but you KNOW that He is.  You can literally feel His presence.  And how you wish every moment could be like that.  I began to think about all my little moments that I had & wished that I could have another one again, soon.  Not only was God so loving & so kind & compassionate towards me today, but He was also so faithful.  He knew the desire of my heart at that moment.  And when your desire aligns with His, anything is possible!

How I wish that everyone could just believe in Him & trust Him so that they can experience Him & His full & complete unconditional love that He has for them.  He wants to give it so badly & so freely & abundantly!  All we need to do is accept it & allow Him in our hearts.  There is no “cleaning up” or changing that we, ourselves, need to do first.  We just need to come as we are & He does the clean up. 🙂

Happy birthday, mom!

Happy birthday to the woman who has played a major factor in molding me to the person I have become. Even though it has taken me years to catch on…you have been right all along. I have been striving to be a fraction of the mother you have been to me & seem to always fail in comparison. I can only hope that I am creating positive memories in my children’s lives as you have in mine. Having children of my own has given me such a deep & indescribable appreciation for what you did for me to raise me & my 5 siblings the best you could with what you had. ‘Thank you’ just doesn’t seem to be enough so I hope that the tears shed whenever I think about the sacrifice, love, compassion & prayers you gave & continue to give will be able to express my gratitude & love in return. Your strength & faith continues to amaze me & give me hope. And not to mention, you’ve restored my belief in miracles! I wish you many more years to come & may you continue to keep defying the odds. Loving you always!

Becoming the person God wants

I saw this devotional posted on Facebook & it really struck a cord with me. It’s just so cool how perfect God’s timing is. I just love it! I’m constantly struggling with wanting to be the best mom & wife that I can be. And I’m constantly down on myself whenever I slip up or feel like I’m failing or not doing enough. I set such a high standard for myself & I don’t even know why. Is it because other moms & wives around me put up this facade like they have it all together & are so organized which makes me feel like my life is in chaos!? It can’t be because of tv because all the moms on there are pretty messed up these days. Am I looking for perfection? I should know by now that I will never reach it. But lately God has been revealing to me…ok, maybe He’s been trying to reveal it to me for a long time now & I’m just now finally listening…that I need to stop focusing on trying to get everything perfect & start cherishing these moments with my family. Because time is flying by so quickly I can hardly keep up. I don’t want them to grow up & the memories they have of me is of all of my charts, how everything had to be in its place, routines couldn’t be broken, etc. Absolutely not! I am trying so hard to let things go, let the house be messy, let the kids get messy. I’ve gotten better on letting them play outside with their friends. That’s a step, right? But I can’t seem to get over the house being messy. It just really affects my mood. Haha! I feel like I’m getting better about picking my battles, not letting the small things get to me & just staying calm when the kids are acting up. That is still a work in progress, but for the most part, I’m doing a lot better. I did get affirmation today that I’m at least going down the right path. My intentions are there, the motive behind my intentions are right & we’re doing our best to try to raise them according to God’s Word. And although we will make mistakes along the way, it’s important that we admit to it & correct ourselves. So for a while now, I try to remember to pray for the Lord to continue to mold me to who He wants me to be, who He created me to be, and to give me the courage, confident & faith, to step out & be that person & be content with her. Because I know that the person I am today, will not be the same person a year from now & especially 5-10 years from now & so forth. I guess I’m just anxious to get there. But I guess I shouldn’t complain that my growth might seem slow; as long as I’m not stagnant in my walk, I will be content! I guess this is a good way to teach me patience. Haha! Hopefully my loved-ones around me can see the difference in me & appreciate that I’m doing my best to better myself. I just need to put my thoughts into action more often. :/

So below is that devotional that I saw on FB. I had to put it in my blog so I can read it over & over again, especially when I need a reminder.

But we all are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit.
2 Corinthians 3:18

When you begin to align your goals with God’s goals and your desires with God’s desires, you will rid your life of a lot of anger, anxiety and depression. The homemaker who wants a happy, harmonious family is expressing a godly desire, but she cannot guarantee that it will happen. So she’d better not base her identity and sense of worth on it or she will be a basket case of anger or resentment toward her sometimes less-than-harmonious family.

Instead she could decide, “I’m going to be the wife and mother God wants me to be”. That’s a great goal! Is it impossible or uncertain? No, because it’s also God’s goal for her and nothing is impossible with God. Who can block her goal? She’s the only one who can. As long as she cooperates with God’s goal for her, her success is assured.

“But what if my husband has a mid-life crisis or my kids rebel?” she may object. Problems like that aren’t blocking her goal of being the wife and mother God wants her to be, but they will put her goal to a serious test. If her husband ever needs a godly wife, and if her children ever need a godly mother, it’s in times of trouble. Family difficulties are merely new opportunities for her to fulfil her goal of being the woman God wants her to be.

The pastor whose worth is based on his goal to win his community for Christ, have the best youth ministry in town, or increase giving to missions by 50 percent is headed for a fall. These are worthwhile desires, but they are poor goals by which to determine his worth because they can be blocked by people or circumstances. Rather he could say, “I’m going to be the pastor God wants me to be”. That’s a great goal because nothing can block him from achieving it.

God’s basic goal for your life is character development, becoming the person God wants you to be. Because it’s a godly goal, no one can block it except you.

Lord, I want to be the person You called me to be today. Thank You that by Your grace I can be that person.

(by Neil Anderson as seen in FICM Daily Devotional)

Beauty is only skin deep

As summer is nearing & bikinis are hanging up on store racks my anxiety begins to rise. A year ago I probably would have fallen into a deep depression, not wanting to socialize or be around people. I was very caught up & obsessed on trying to change my outside. Once I heard the words “You look beautiful” I all of a sudden felt this pressure to look beautiful at all times; & if I didn’t feel like I was pretty enough, I’d begin to feel angry or ashamed. Every time people would tell me I looked beautiful, I would feel good about myself & feel happy… but then it would quickly fade & I would go back to feeling depressed. Beauty had become my master and The Lord began to convict me BIG TIME. [In my personal opinion I think that is why I went through that major break out phase.] He told me that if I wanted to really FEEL beautiful I needed to change who I was on the inside FIRST. I’m not saying I was a horrible person, but there was definitely a lot of room for growth. It was a long & hard lesson to accept. It is slowly getting easier for me. I also noticed that as soon as I began to accept it in my heart & apply it to my life, not only did my break outs go away pretty quickly, but I also began to see a completely different person in the mirror. Grant it, I do have scars, which is a constant reminder of my “golden calf”, but one thing I realize now…when people say they notice a positive change in me, it’s not happiness I feel, it’s joy…the Lord’s joy… & that’s long lasting. It sure is more rewarding to please The Lord rather than trying to please people. And you have so much more to offer with your inside beauty than your outside beauty. Most importantly, “Charm is deceptive, and beauty does not last; but a woman who fears the LORD will be greatly praised.” Proverbs 31:30 NLT.

Now there is nothing wrong with trying to look beautiful on the outside as long as it doesn’t become your idol. And I think or at least I hope, I can say I am no longer a slave to my vanity. Forget trying to obtain society’s “triple threat” status. My definition of a triple threat is someone who’s inside beauty surpasses their outside beauty while having God’s Word in their hearts!

So whenever I’m feeling “ugly” & I start to feel that anxiety rise up inside me I remind myself that in God’s eyes I’m beautiful & “worth far more than rubies.”

Teaching PreK for the first time

Yikes! I get a text from Ms. Nellie Saturday evening that she wasn’t going to be able to make it to church on Sunday to teach the preK class. Being the assistant, I kind of go into panic mode. But then I decide to calm myself down & figure “Mela, wouldn’t just throw me in there last minute like that. Would she?!” I text Mela & let her know. She replies with “…so are you ready to teach?” But then she quickly tells me not to panic & that she could cover if I needed her to. I was relieved & figured, “Ok, that solves that.” Well later that evening as I’m sitting down drinking tea…the conviction begins. The tugging at my heart. All the scriptures that kept “appearing” through the last couple of weeks started to make sense. “This is my command—be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” -Joshua 1:9. I kept wondering, “Hmm…I wonder what God is preparing me for.” My imagination was trying to run wild, in an attempt to scare & discourage me; but I tried to use all the strength I can muster to not allow myself to go there. All I could do, is continue to keep repeating that verse over & over again. Then “BAM!” He hits me with it. You are going to teach…by yourself…for the first time.

After the initial shock & anxiety subsided, I decided to see what the lesson is suppose to be about. The Lord’s Supper. “Hmm..ok, I’ve read/heard this story plenty of times. It’s pretty familiar. Maybe I can do this.” I pick up the iPad & search “How to teach preschoolers about the Last Supper”. Well my over-analyzing brain kept me up for 2+ hours “researching”, brain-storming, planning, whatever you want to call it. I almost gave up several times, but I tried my best to push through it. I didn’t want to miss another opportunity that God provided for me…AGAIN! Finally, nearly 2am, I printed my notes out, printed the coloring sheet, gathered my supplies & packed it up. The funny thing is, I had all the supplies I needed. So I really had absolutely no excuse…zero, zilch, nada! I had a tablecloth, I had juice boxes (which I never have in my house), I happen to have crackers (for the unleaven bread), I found the perfect coloring page online with the perfect picture & the exact verse I wanted to use. Really?! So I go to bed feeling somewhat confident, but expecting absolutely no energy.

In the morning, I woke up, got ready fairly quickly without feeling rushed, in a good mood & surprisingly not feeling as tired as I thought. I get to church & in all the excitement, nervousness, (I have no clue which one it was), I ended up leaving my coffee in the car. What?! But I was wearing painful heels, so I didn’t want to walk back to the car to get it. Haha! I tried not to think about it so I wouldn’t panic. I was also suppose to greet that morning, so as people arrived, I was counting all the preK’ers walking by.

After I greeted, I walked over to the MPR & caught the end of worship. I tried to stay confident, grabbed the clipboard & called out the names of the kids in my class. I only had 5 & they were the regulars. When we walked in the classroom, I started my little shpeel & realized I still had to pour the juice & get the crackers. What was I thinking? I should have done that before hand! I started to feel the panic rise & lo & behold, Mela walks in with Reagan. “I found you a helper”, she said! “Thank you, God!” So she helped prepare the juices as I got the kids to help me lay out the tablecloth & pass out the napkins. I continued with my shpeel & took a cracker & acted out how Jesus took the bread, gave thanks, broke it & passed it to his disciples. He told them to eat it & remember Him. We all ate together. Then we did the same with the juice. It was cute, cuz the kids had these smiles on their faces. Rianna wanted to do it again. Haha. I went around & asked my questions & finished the lesson too quickly. “NOW WHAT?!” I looked at the clock & began to panic. What was I going to do for 45 minutes more? And when I panic, my mind goes blank. So I didn’t even know what to improvise with. So I kept them busy with snacks & asking random questions. We then cleaned up & we colored the coloring sheets, which most kids, I realized, don’t really like to do AND it takes them like 1 minute (at the most) to do. I scramble to look for a kid’s Bible & fortunately the kids knew where it was kept. So I prayed that it would have the Lord’s Supper in it & IT DID!!! And it had all the parts of the story that we just did & acted out & the same verse. I wanted to cry! So I went ahead & had Rianna read it. Right when I almost gave in & about to let them have free time I noticed people coming out of the sanctuary. What? I looked at the clock & there was still at least 15 more minutes, maybe. So I just figured the clock was broken or the battery was dying. It was only later, I found out that service ended early. That rarely happens when Pastor Bob is teaching; he is usually pretty punctual. It is usually when we have guest speakers, that we end early. Really?

Now that I’m looking back at the day, I see God’s hand all over it & I just witnessed Joshua 1:9 played out in my life today. The cool thing is, I’m sure I’ve heard this verse before & it never stood out to me. But in June of 2011, Ricci & I & the kids went to one of those ceramic places & for some reason (I can’t remember if I even had one), I decided to put this verse on my ceramic. From that point on, it seemed like that verse would continue to pop up…as if to continually remind me of it. As this day got closer, the more frequent it appeared. The Young Marrieds ministry is studying the book of Joshua, so of course I read it there. I’m also doing the Monday Night Women’s study of Nehemiah by Kelly Minter & there is a verse similar to it mentioned in there also. I heard it from other people, devotionals, radio. Then in just the past week, I felt like I kept reading it over & over again on Facebook. Posted by different people at different times. And finally the day came when I really had to use it. And I’m sure this isn’t going to be the last time I will need this verse. Being such a fearful person, I’m sure this is my new life verse for this phase/season in my life. But in a way it does seem to go hand-in-hand with Philippians 4:13 “I can do ALL things through Christ who strengthens me.” This was my 1st life verse. And what makes it even sweeter is that I believe this is becoming the kids’ 1st life verse as well. These are the moments when I wish I could jump up to heaven & give God a great big hug & ‘thank you’.

The reason why Noelle doesn’t eat hot dogs

I’m watching Noelle & Franco today & I’m trying to figure out what to make for lunch. I ask Noelle if she eats hot dogs & she says “no”. So I end up making her chicken nuggets.

As I’m cooking hot dogs for the other 3, she walks into the kitchen & asks, “Who farted?” Giggling, I replied, “Nobody farted, it’s probably the hot dogs you’re smelling.” She quickly & sincerely says, “And that’s why I don’t eat hot dogs.”

Buhahaha! That was funny.

Proverbs 16:7 NLT

“When people’s lives please The Lord, even their enemies are at peace with them.”

This is a good verse for me to help me continue to strive living a life that pleases The Lord cuz I’m such a people-pleaser & I want everyone to like me. I can’t stand it when I know someone doesn’t like me or not pleased with me. 🙂