Am I A Paralyzed Christian?

We often hear the phrase “be the hands and feet of Jesus.” I’ve heard it at church, I’ve spoken it in devotionals, I have prayed it with my children.

This phrase is often associated with Jesus’ attitude of serving and loving others.

As I said it again this week, I realized something.
I am paralyzed.

I am paralyzed from the neck down. And that breaks my heart.

I don’t use my hands. I don’t use my feet or my body or my heart. I just use my mouth. That’s it. And my fingers occasionally.

We live in a world full of Facebook Christian warriors. Keyboard warriors. Only using our fingers to daily share Christian memes or pictures with verses, or argue in an effort to “serve” God. If you can call it serving.

But how often do we truly live our life’s as the hands and feet of Jesus?

His hands were used to heal, to wash feet, to feed crowds, to calm storms, to build, to give, to serve, and love. To carry a cross.

His hands were pierced and bled as He died. For me.

His feet were used to walk on water, to carry him to the houses of sinners, to walk for miles teaching, serving and loving. To walk a hate filled path, carrying a cross, up a hill.

His feet were pierced and bled as He died. For me.

He died for me, and yet here I am, paralyzed.
Why, out of an entire body, does it seem that I only use my mouth and my words? That instead of daily serving in a way that will truly make a difference, I just use my fingers. From behind a keyboard. That instead of inconvenient serving, it seems that I look at my charity money as being “enough.” Giving money is enough serving so I can move on with my week. Sometimes I use financial donations as an easy way out.

How much more meaningful would it be to bake a widower some cookies and drop by his house for a visit, than it would be to just send him a gift card to the grocery store? How much more meaningful would it be to invite a poor family into our home to share a meal, than it would be to have a pizza delivered to them?

This week I am determined to use what God gave me. He gave me hands to serve, feet to go, and a heart to love.

I will use my hands to prepare a meal for a hungry family, or write just a simple note of encouragement to someone who I know needs it. Use my feet to go visit the sick, the nursing home, or an elderly neighbor. Use my body to babysit for a mom who needs to catch a break, or stop and help someone with a flat tire.

We are called to give more than just our money and our opinions. And I would love for you to join me in genuinely being the hands and feet of Jesus.

Please, leave a comment here or on Facebook with suggestions on ways to serve-big or small!

To my Last Baby

Sweet sweet son, today is your birthday and I am holding on tight. Holding on to the memories, the past present and future. Holding on to you.

When your brothers were younger, life seemed slower, I felt like I was able to catch more moments. But now, sometimes it seems as though life is flying by so fast that I am just spinning. I feel like I am watching life in fast forward, when all I really want is to hit the pause button.

Each time you hit a new milestone I have been filled with excitement for you, but at the back of my mind is a subtle hint of sadness.

You have been my last of all of the firsts. My last baby to take his first step, my last baby to get his first tooth, first busted lip, first word, last to take a first ride on a bike.

You are also the last of all the lasts. My last to breastfeed, last to potty train, last to rock to sleep. And I’m excited to watch you walk through more lasts. My last to go to kindergarten, last to have “muffins with mom,” last to play his last junior high basketball game, last to get your license, last to move away from my home to begin your own. I know you will be great, you will see success and failures, and endure your own loves and your own heartaches.

You are now 3 and I still rock you to sleep. It tugs on my heart to think of the day when 1pm naptime rolls around, and this lap that has rocked you, these arms that have held you, will be empty. Because you won’t need a nap. I don’t know when that last time will happen, but I know that even if my lap is empty, my heart will be full.

When your oldest brother was born, I feel like we stayed home for 4 months. When your twin brothers were born, we stuck around home for the recommended 6-8 weeks. But you, my sweet boy, you were out and about at 5 days old. And your life hasn’t slowed down since.

You entered a world of crazy and busy. A world that already had places filled by 3 other amazing little boys. A world of soccer, and school musicals. Of church camps and vacations. And you fit right in to your spot without complaint. I know it probably hasn’t been easy, but you go with it with grace and excitement. Of course, you do make sure to keep us on our toes. Like the time you dropped our keys down a pipe at a baseball game.

You hold my heart in your chubby little hands. But yet, sometimes I still feel guilty.

I am sorry that some days after I have a long day, it seems that you just get my leftovers.

I’m sorry that I should be a “been there done that,” wise mom, who knows what she is doing, but honestly, most of the time, I don’t. Some days I feel like I have forgotten everything about how to be a mom. Some days I crave that wisdom that I should have, but feel that I am lacking. Please know I am trying with every ounce of my being. And when I fail, thank you for your patience. Your love keeps me going.

I’m sorry if it seems that I couldn’t care less when you eat off the floor, even though I cared when your oldest brother was little. I promise I care. But I’ve learned you will live through ingesting floor crumbs.

I am sorry that a lot of times you get the tired version of me. Sometimes I just feel physically, emotionally, and spiritually tired. Thank you for being willing to just sit, cuddle and do nothing with me. I hope you remember these moments.

I am sorry that your oldest brother has 5 full DVDs from his first 2 months of life. And somehow we seem to have lost our cameras when you were born. I am sorry that I completed baby books, calendars, and scrapbooks for your older brothers. And I think the only pages of your book that is filled out are the pages I did before you were born. I just hope that maybe my cell phone pictures are timestamped- that will be your baby book.

I am sorry that you have gotten the less sympathetic version of me than what your oldest brother got. If he fell, I was quick to scoop him up and cry with him. Sometimes I would even stand close enough that I could catch him before he fell. But you, my tough strong boy, I watch you fall. I let you run to me and I kiss your owies and send you back on your way.
I’m sorry that almost all of your clothes, shoes, toys and books are hand me downs.

I am pretty sure your third word was “poop.” And you love to say it, because it makes your big brothers laugh. And I’m OK with that. I have gotten to witness countless giggle fits from the 4 of you.

I am sorry that sharing is all you have ever known. You share my time, my lap, my arms, my focus, and my energy. Because those things have limits.

But I want you to know something. My love and my heart are limitless. There are no boundaries on the love I can give. You joining our family didn’t make me split my love. My love just grows as our family has grown.

You are my joy. You complete our family in ways I never could have imagined. You have been the perfect addition.

I know that tonight when I tuck you in I will kiss your squishy cheeks and say “I love you baby Beau.” And you will say “I not baby. I Beau.” And you will be right. You are not a baby, but you will always be my last baby.

 

Be sure to find me on Facebook and check out my Children’s Bible reading journal here.

Ladies, if you want change…start with yourselves.

Lots of screaming been going on. Yelling. Fighting. Frustration. Anger. Marching. Rock throwing. Trash burning. Hate.

And it is consuming. It is hard to miss and easy to spot. It’s there. Always there. And us ladies have been behind the majority of it here lately.

You say you want higher pay. Then work for it. Work hard for it. Work so hard that your boss has no excuse not to pay more. Shoot, work hard enough to be the boss yourself. My husband works for a billion dollar company. And guess what?! His boss?? Yeah she is a woman. And she is in charge of thousands of men. How awesome is it that we live in a country where that is even possible!

You say you are pro-life. Well then give. Give your time, your money, give yourself to serving and caring for unwanted children.

You say you want to breastfeed in public. Do it. It’s legal. It is your right. And then just get over it if you get a funny look. Get over it. Not everyone will agree with everything you do. Just get over it and keep doing you.

You say you’re fighting for the women who have been abused. Then be their friend. Feed them, love them, visit with them. Send them a gift. Just cause. Cause they are a person and you care.

You complain about how men treat you. Well then focus on teaching your sons. Teaching their friends. TEACH THEM how to treat women, so that one day that same complaint won’t be said of them. Things aren’t fixed overnight. But you can fix it in the next generation.

You say you want respect. Well then earn it. Earn it. And I don’t mean earning it by parading around in a vagina costume. Earn it by showing love, and patience. By using manners and intellect. Earn respect by giving it. By respecting others first.

You say you want equality. Yet you’re fighting for superiority.

You say “at least American women have rights” as you compare our freedoms to the lack of female freedoms in other countries. Well pray for those women. Pray that one day there will no longer be an “at least.” Pray that one day those women will get to experience even an ounce of the freedoms that we American women so willingly trample over.

You scream “don’t call me a slut.” Well then don’t dress and act like one.

You yell “don’t sexualize and objectify women.” Well then don’t sexualize yourself. Quit begging for attention by showing it all. Quit using your low-cut shirts to try to get free drinks. Quit flirting your way out of tickets (yes, I did this in college. It infuriated my little brother who was with me, because he knew that if he had been driving then he would have gotten the ticket.) Quit turning a blind eye to the porn industry.

Change is possible. It can happen. And it is important that it does.

Just think how humbling it would be for the young women 50 years from now to be thanking us. Thanking us for being respectful, thanking us for teaching our sons- their husbands and fathers- how to treat women, thanking us for not using our bodies for their sex appeal, but for the strength that comes from our hearts. Thanking us for mothering the motherless, loving the un-lovable, and serving the lowly. Thanking us for breaking racial barriers. As women.

Be a generation of women that is worthy of being thanked.

I tell my kids all the time “You can’t control how they act. You can only control how you act. And make sure you’re doing it right. It starts with you.”

Ladies, we can’t just blame men. We are a part of the problem, but we can most definitely also be part of the solution.

I truly believe that we women can change things. We are strong, determined, fearless, and motivated. But change starts with US.

Find me on Facebook and check out my Children’s Bible reading and journal schedule below!

9 Things I Have Learned in 9 Years of Marriage

Marriage is not an ownership, but a partnership. I don’t OWN my husband. I can’t control him. Can’t tell him what to do or order him around. He is not my child. He is a person and I should trust him enough to make responsible choices. We are a team, and we are on the same side.

Finances can bring you together or tear you apart. Finances very well may be the most stressful thing in many marriages. Talk about money. Don’t hide. Don’t scold. Work through it. Don’t belittle each other, but support each other and hold each other accountable. Somehow, God has always provided when our fears start coming in. We lived paycheck to paycheck for a long time. And I remember several times when we had no food and no money in our checking account, and a grocery store gift card would be mailed to us. Or a hospital would send us a reimbursement check for overpaying a bill. Our needs have always been met. I also want to add- it is important to differentiate between wants and needs.

True love overlooks the physical flaws. The smelly feet, pimples, toenail clippings, bathroom smells, bad singing voice, mother nature meltdowns, burnt supper, messy hair and no makeup, cellulite, stretch marks and varicose veins- all of it!  Also- Marriage isn’t like a fairy tale. Or most of the time. Sometimes it is a fantasy and my Pandora is set on a sappy romantic station. But sometimes he frustrates me so much that my theme song is Carrie Underwood “Before He Cheats,“ that I’m singing at the top of my angry lungs.

He needs respect. I need love. Ephesians 5:33 “However, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.” Remember your needs, and the needs of the other. Sometimes when I am needing love, I will overly-mushy gushy love my husband. But that’s not necessarily what he needs. He needs my respect.

Be together. Do something together. Pray together. Set goals together. Pick a ministry or charity and work at it together. Find a hobby that is just for fun. Exercise, clean, cook, anything- just work to accomplish something together.

Flirting is still important. Be yourselves and feel free to be goofy around each other. Have fun and make each other laugh. And don’t forget to date.

Don’t put the kids in the complete middle of your world. That’s a lot of pressure for a kid. And it is also good for kids to know that they aren’t the center of the universe. That your spouse is equally as important as they are. One day our kids will be out of our home, and we will have to remember how to just be us.

Communication is everything. A lot of silly fights are the result of lack of communication. If you need something, tell him. If you want to go hang out with your friends, tell her. Talk about money, kids, sex, friends, families, school, work, life. Talk. And even more important- Listen.

Forgiveness is vital. Trust until it’s broken, then put everything you have into rebuilding that trust. You both will say mean things and do dumb things. But it is important to remember that if you expect him to forgive you, then you also need to forgive him. And forgive yourself. Don’t hold grudges or keep count of wrongs. That will do nothing but tear down your trust instead of build it back up.

And number 10- because there are way more than 9!
Keep God at the center. Pray together, worship together, talk to your kids about Jesus. Make God a part of your daily life.

And always
Choose Love

Make sure to share this post and check out my Children’s Bible reading schedule and journal on Amazon! 

A Mother’s Love- not Less, Just Different


It seems that we live in a world of constant comparison. And sometimes when it comes to motherhood, it is easy to get down on ourselves and feel like we don’t do enough, that WE aren’t enough, and that our love isn’t good enough. This world of comparison can also sometimes leave us feeling like we are better, like we parent better, like our love is better.

But I’ve come to realize that sometimes our love is not less or more. It is just different.

Just different.

You may love your child so much that you stand next to them on the monkey bars, ready to catch them if they fall. I may love my child so much that I sit by on the sidelines, ready to comfort them when they do fall. Love that’s not less, just different. 

Your love may be so great that you stay at home with your child, teaching them, nurturing them, serving them, loving them. My love may be so great that I work a paying job and find childcare. Love thats not less, just different. 

I may love my child so much that I will give them my cell phone to play on when we go out to eat. Preserving my patience, enjoying some time outside of the house, having a break from the discipline that comes with having 4 rowdy boys who burp like Buddy the Elf when we are out in public.  You may love your child so much that you say no to their begging to borrow your phone. You want to train them and raise them to have good manners. To spend quality time with family. To carry on a conversation. Love not less, just different.

You may love your baby so much that you breastfeed when it’s hard. That you persevere through the struggle when you’re just ready to quit. I may love my baby so much that I bottle feed because I just don’t produce enough and I want what is best for my baby. Love that’s not less, just different.

You may love your child so much that you use that as motivation to get up for your 5am workouts. I may love my child so much that I have chocolate ice cream and peanut butter at 11pm to try to unwind after a long day. Love that’s not less, just different. 

I may love my child so much that I spank them as a form of discipline. You may love your child so much that you use time-outs for bad behavior. Love that’s not less, just different.

You may love your child so much that you make them pick up every single toy on their bedroom floor. You want to teach them responsibility and cleanliness. I may love my child so much that I let them be messy. I want them to know their room is their space. That home is their safe place. Love not less, just different.

You may love your babies so much that you let them watch hours of TV while crying in your room from the loneliness and stress of being a single mom. Hoping that they will see you as strong and not see your brokenness. I may love my babies so much that I limit them to 30 minutes of TV a day because someone, somewhere, said to limit screen time. I may love so much that I will willingly deplete my energy, patience, and kindness, because limiting TV leaves me to be their source of entertainment, and that is hard. Love that’s not less, just different. 

I may love my child’s passion so much that I save up $3000 to put them in a team sport that will teach them hard work, teamwork, and a never quit attitude. You may love your child so much that you spend just $45 for a 5 week sports season because you want them to know there is more to life than sports and hard work can be learned off the field. Love that’s not less, just different.

You may love your child so much that you escape an abusive marriage because nothing is more important to you than the safety of your children. I may love my kids so much that I stay in a broken marriage because I want to teach them the value of commitment. Love that’s not less, just different.

And there is so much more. Vaccinations, school types, marriage, discipline, friends- choices. We all have choices. But making different choices isn’t a measurement of our love. The love we have for our children is something that can’t be measured. It’s not more or less. It’s just ours. And it can be different.

So next time you see someone mothering differently than you, just remember their love is not less or more.

It’s just different.

Make sure to share this post and then check out my new Children’s Bible reading schedule on Amazon!

 

 

It’s a Twin Thing

Chocolate and twins

Legit #twinmomprobs

You might be an identical twin if:

Your health insurance MIGHT just deny the birth of one of you.

We battled the insurance company and had to prove that we had twins before they would cover the cost of 2 nursery bills.

Your mom has to pull the car over, get you out of your car seat, and check to make sure she is bringing the right twin to a sick visit at the doctor.

How totally embarrassing would it be to show up at the doctor and find out you brought the wrong one.

You master the age old strategy of divide and conquer.

Once I took my boys to the park to feed the ducks when they were about 2. I figured I could handle taking them off their leashes. Yeah. Wrong. First thing they did was split. One went towards the water from the shore. The other headed to the dock and started climbing over. I ran after the one climbing over the dock -that would have been about an 8 ft drop into deep water. About the time I grabbed him, I heard a splash. His twin brother had jumped in the shallow water on the shore. I have had to learn to pick who to run after based off of who is headed to the most danger.

You had to wear toenail polish on your big toes for the first 3 months of your life.

The fear of switching babies at birth is a real fear.

Honesty is sometimes a battle too easy to lose- You know how to pull a successful switch-a-roo

This year at a t-ball game, one of my twins didn’t hear his name called as next batter, but his twin brother heard! Sneaky twin told the coach that he was his brother and walked up to the plate to bat. I was the 3rd base coach and knew the line up, so I caught him. But man. Honesty. Yeah.

We have friends whose boys are geniuses (like literally) and we get tickled and nervous every time we hear the story about one time when they switched, one of them gave the same speech twice and the other took the same math test twice. One of mine has already threatened to switch on his teacher. He’s only in Kindergarten!

I have also caught them cheating on their eye exams! The chart was at the end of the hallway, and one twin stood around the corner close to the chart and would look at each letter and whisper it to his twin taking the eye exam!

Your mom might just accidentally put 2 individual pictures of ONE of you and 0 pictures of the other one on your Christmas cards.

Not going to admit to doing this though 😉

You can really confuse the school picture company.

Recently, my twins had school pictures. I totally did the twin mom thing and dressed them alike, gave them each a check and an order form and then sent them on their way. Both of their checks were deposited. But only one of them brought pictures back. The other one just had a proof sheet order form. Yeah. I am 99% sure that the photo company mistakenly thought “I’ve already done this kid” and skipped over one of them.

Same has happened at church. Last year they were getting pictures taken and their teachers skipped one of them. (I myself was a teacher haaha)

Pinterest may become your moms best friend and your worst enemy.

Ohh the twin picture ideas! I played dress up with my boys all the time for photo ops that I saw on Pinterest. But every one of them was a Pinterest FAIL!

twin pic

You might freak your mom out by talking to each other in your sleep.

I have heard mine talking to each other and laughing simultaneously while they’re asleep. Once they even laughed at the same time while they were sleeping in separate rooms. Creeepyy.

You try to one up each other. All. The. Time.

You are squeezing the shampoo all over the floor? Well I will squeeze out the conditioner AND body wash!

You are super gluing paper to the wall? Well I will super glue my MOUTH!

You are going to climb to the top of the fence? Well I will climb OVER the fence!

You get blamed for your twin’s offenses.

                Self explanatory.

Only one toothbrush in the bathroom? It’s his? Oh well. What he doesn’t know won’t hurt him.

One of my twins is somewhat a germophobe. The other one would brush his teeth with a stranger’s toothbrush if he had to. I regularly have to break up a fight when germophobe kid discovers his twin using his toothbrush.

Twins

Other babies may play in their own poop. We will play in each other’s poop!

Anndd on that note,

Last but not least, my biggest #twinmomprob—

SYNCHRONIZED POOPING.

Like, all the time. Guess similar bodies eating the same meals means that it all runs through about the same time. No biggie as long as there are 2 toilets around. But when there is just 1 toilet. Let me just tell you. The twin fight that commences is nothing short of a battle scene.

I hope you will add your own unique twin things in the comments. and tell me about it on facebook!

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The cute newborn pictures are found here and here

10 Gift Ideas for a NICU Family

NICU gifte

 

No one starts their pregnancy planning on being a NICU family. But it happens. It could happen to you, me, or your friends. And if you happen to be a friend who is on the outside looking in, you may want to get a special gift on top of the typical baby shower item for a special NICU family. This month is prematurity awareness month and I want to share these gift ideas that can be inspiring, encouraging, and very helpful to a NICU parent.

Meals

We stayed in the Ronald McDonald House and the meals provided were such a blessing. But even then, it was nice for friends to bring us a meal. We enjoyed feeling a little more normal by having company and home cooked meals. I believe that meals are also a blessing to NICU families who are closer to the hospital and stay at home. Anything that helps can be an uplifting relief. And meals are perfect!

Monetary donations/gift cards

Being in the NICU is expensive. Surgeries, medicines, lab tests, neonatologists, anesthesiologists, nurses, NPs, all of it adds up. Fast. We were so so so blessed that we were given monetary gifts. My hometown church and also the church in Canyon took a collection for us. The bank in Abernathy started a bank account and the good folks of Abernathy donated to us there. Ryan’s social club brothers did a car wash and gave us all the profits. As a young, newlywed couple this helped lighten a huge financial burden. Also, when a parent is spending hours at the hospital, dollar bills come in handy for the vending machines.

Your company

Planned or scheduled company. Planned being the keyword. When Brock was in the NICU, we had set visitation hours that we were allowed to see him. For example, we might could only go visit him every 3 hours. If I had unexpected company show up, then it put me in a tough spot to either be hostess, or be momma. And being momma is more important but then I was left feeling guilty for neglecting our company. But scheduled company was so great. It was nice to talk to people. Nice to hear about life outside of the hospital walls. Friend dates are great! I had a friend come and take me out for ice-cream. Company can help make the NICU feel a little less lonely.

Journals and books

I was given a journal at the beginning of Brocks stay by a friends very wise mother. She told me to keep it and write anything. Feelings, weather, people who came to visit, Brocks progress, Brocks set-backs, anything. When she first gave it to me I was like “yeah right. I don’t want to remember any of this.” But that journal became an outlet. I still love to reflect back on it and see the answered prayers. Some prayers were answered with a yes, some with no, and some wait. My heart seems to have healed, but that journal along with pictures and videos are a reminder of the gift we have in Brock. Books are also a great way to pass time. There are a lot of parenting/humorous/inspirational books out there to pick from! Coloring books are also another great option.

Outings

About 6 or 7 weeks in, the nurses at the hospital told Ryan and I that we absolutely HAD to go on a date. They told me that the RMH had makeover coupons that a salon had donated and we had a gift card to go eat. It was so refreshing to go on a date. To get spend time with Ryan away from the buzzing and beeping of the hospital. We needed it. Date night gift cards, hair cut/makeover gift cards, simple ice cream coupons, etc are a great gift to parents.

Home help

Cleaning, babysitting older kids, taking care of pets, laundry, meals (again) are some ideas. Before we brought Brock home, both my mom and Ryan’s mom went to our apartment and cleaned. We had been staying in the Ronald McDonald House and had only been home a handful of times and none of those were spent cleaning. It was so nice to come home to a clean home.

Personalized/homemade/handmade special keepsakes

A few of the most precious and special gifts I received were homemade gifts from other children. A group of kids came by the Ronald McDonald house and delivered potted plants that they decorated.  One of the Elementary classes wrote us a card and all signed it.  Our nieces made a welcome home sign.  An ex NICU mom made little blankets for all the babies and attached a note about her NICU baby. These gifts were all so special to me.  We also received personalized baby shoes with Brocks name and weight on them. And anything handprint/footprint related is a perfect keepsake gift.

Shutterfly gift card/ family pictures

Pictures. They truly hold memories don’t they? Newborn photo shoot (or just first family pictures- some NICU babies are no longer newborns when they get out) are great gifts. Also a gift card to a photo printing company is great for all of those snapshots that may be taken in the NICU.

Childrens books

Instead of a card, consider getting a book instead. And be sure to sign it. Write a note in it. Sometimes I wasn’t allowed to touch Brock, so I would just sit with him. And if I ran out of things to talk to him about, then reading was a great alternative.

Thoughts and prayers

Lastly, the most important thing you can give to a NICU family is your thoughts and prayers. Text/call/message on big days when you know tests are being run and let them know you’re  praying.

Often, life outside the hospital flies by so it may be easy to forget our make time to check in on baby, but when you are stuck at the hospital, time seems to drag and those messages from friends who remember that you’re still there can be very encouraging.

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5 Reasons I’m not Buying my Kids Christmas Presents this Year

5-reasons-im-not-getting-my-kids-christmas-presents

I spent some time this week sorting through “stuff.” And by “stuff” I mean  the 1.78 million toys that my 4 boys have collected through the years. As I was sorting through it and putting it in give away or throw away piles, my mind wandered to presents, gifts, and Christmas.

Christmas. A time when my kids who already have too much stuff, get more stuff. And I started thinking about alternatives to getting more toys. Last year my husband ran the Rock n Roll half in San Antonio and we took our twins. They loved it. They were 5 at the time, and when we got home, they did their fair share of bragging to our 7 year old who missed out on the trip. They still talk about San Antonio.

But do you know what they don’t talk about?
They don’t talk about that 1500 piece Lego set they got from Santa. They don’t talk about that nerf gun with torn up bullets. They talk about the river boat ride and the Children’s museum. They talk about staying in a hotel that had a playground with it. They talk about our memories.

Once I realized this, I immediately texted my husband and said “Hey! What do you think about not getting any presents for our kids or each other, but instead we could take a family trip? We already have too many things.”

And he said “YES!”

So guys, I would like to share with you 5 reasons that I am not getting my kids Christmas presents this year. (Although we may draw names and let the kids get each other one small thing)

Too Much Stuff

As I have already mentioned, we already have too many things. They don’t need any of the big things- bikes, trampoline, fort, etc. We already have like 2000 legos, 100 magnatiles, 250 lincoln logs, 500 train tracks, and more. And quite often my boys think it’s a great idea to get dump everything out and mix it all together like ingredients in a cake recipe. We do not need more of that.

Grandparents and family

Now, I don’t know about your kids, but my kids definitely love going through the magazines and picking out things they would like. And I am not going to stop them from doing that. I plan on just giving their Christmas lists to their grandparents. They have awesome grandparents and family members who spoil them, so my kids won’t be missing out. But Ryan and I will be using our money on a trip instead of a gift.

Our time is a gift

Time is so valuable. It is priceless. I know my kids might not remember their zip line trip, or first time to see a lion. But I will. And they will remember that I was there. With them. Giving them my time. And time is what is most important. Distraction free. No house to clean, neighbors to visit, basketball practice, no work- just family to focus on. That time is something we will never get back. I can always go run to the store and grab my kid a gift, but I will never be able to go back to the time when they’re 8, 6, and 2 and take them on a trip.

Memories over materials

That imaginext batcave? Yeah, that is something that will be loved and played with, then thrown away in a couple of years. But those family memories. Those moments spent strengthening a bond, a relationship with my children are precious. When I reflect back on my childhood Christmas memories, I can’t remember one toy that I got. But I can remember going to Colorado and stopping on the side of the road to play in the snow. I can tell you about going to the mountains and going fishing. I can tell you about the many hunting trips we took when I thought my toes might fall off. I can remember the time I spent with my family.

Money

I know that life shouldn’t revolve around money, but when you have mouths to feed and needs to provide for, money is definitely a factor. I did some searching and found that thanks to Groupon and a Children’s Museum membership, we can stay 3 nights in San Antonio and do 3 fun activities for about the same amount of money that we spend on gifts each year. And to me, that is money better spent.

I am anxious to see how this turns out. But I am more excited than anything. I can’t wait to see their faces when they open their tickets to go do the Natural Bridge Caverns and Zip line. I can’t wait to hear their squeals when they pack their bags the morning we surprise them and say we’re leaving. I know that they may initially feel disappointed to not have gifts to unwrap, but I know in the long run that they will love the fun they will have on our little trip.

If anyone else does a trip instead of gifts, I would love to hear from you!
How do you do it? Do your kids enjoy it? Give me all your tips!

*In addition to giving them a memory instead of a toy, I am also hoping to start a tradition of giving them a gift that they can give away. I want them to be more aware of others needs than focused on their personal wants. I am still working on ideas for this, so I would gladly welcome any suggestions!

As always, sharing is caring and I would love to connect on Facebook!

Parents of Sinners- Telling Your Christian Parents that You’re Unwed and Pregnant

to-parents-of-sinnersNine years ago, today, was a day that completely changed my life. Completely. As in any plan I had for my life was completely shattered. Changed. Those plans became something of the past. You see, 9 years ago today, I found out I was pregnant. I was 19 years old, a sophomore at a Christian University, not married, jobless, and scared. (You can read more about that here.)

our announcement

Probably one of the hardest and scariest parts was having to tell our parents. How would they react? What would they think of me? What would they think of Ryan? His dad was an elder and my dad a deacon- now preacher (enter preacher’s daughter jokes here). Our families have Christian reputations. They are administrators/educators at our hometown schools. We were about to stain that clean white reputation. Our sin couldn’t be hidden and was going to be made public. The weight of our sin was suffocating. We were going to have to announce our pregnancy. Our unplanned, out of wedlock pregnancy

Pregnancy announcements. They are so fun aren’t they? And so creative. Thanks to Facebook, I love seeing all of my friend’s cute and creative pregnancy announcements. There are a lot of fun ways to tell your parents that they will be becoming grandparents.

But how do you announce an “unwanted,” unwed pregnancy? Instead of joy and excitement, you might feel shame, fear, and guilt. I know I did.

Telling our parents

I couldn’t bear to face my family.  On a Wednesday night towards the end of October in 2007, Ryan and I parted ways and both headed to attend church at our hometown church. I remember asking my mom to go for a drive with me after church.

I drove to the city park and turned my car off. Then I gave her the letter. The letter that was life changing for me, her, and our entire family. She said “what’s this?” And I asked her to read it and not say anything until she was finished. I was already crying by the time she read the first word, and she was crying by the time she read the first paragraph.

Then she did something I will never forget.                

She hugged me. And she said “I love you.” And she meant it.

Ryan is a little more gutsy than I am. He said he just flat out told his parents after church that night. I know there were some tears shed at his home with his parents too.

And his parents reactions were the same as mine were.

Love and encouragement first, and I would assume followed by a feeling of inward disappointment.

The reactions of our parents to our pregnancy announcement are probably the most important part of our story. These reactions could be game-changers. These reactions are what could make or break us.

Their reaction to this less-than-ideal situation potentially could have broken and shattered our faith. But instead it strengthened our faith in a loving God. It strengthened us.

Growing up in Christian homes, Ryan and I were lucky to hear Bible stories over and over again.

The Prodigal Son and sufficient grace

One of those stories forever etched in my heart is the Parable of the Prodigal Son.

Instead of just teaching us about the Prodigal son and the Father who still loved him and showed him grace, our parents got to live that story. They welcomed us, sin and all, with open arms.

They showed us love and support. But they didn’t try to take away the responsibility that resulted from our choice. We still had to be responsible. When we got married, I went on Cobra insurance, and Ryan and I paid the nearly $400 for coverage for 3 months until I could get on his. As a young couple, we got our own phone plan, paid our own rent, gas, water, electricity. We went without cable TV and internet. We grew up.

Our parents were there for us though. If one of our cars broke down, one or both of our dads would come help Ryan fix it. Ryan’s mom made the flower girl dresses for our wedding. She made some of Brocks bedding for his room. My mom would bring groceries and take us out to eat every time she came to visit. And she would also bring me a couple pieces of maternity clothes when she would come. She babysat Brock for free while I continued my college education.

We got to witness, first-hand, the power of God’s love, grace, and forgiveness.

Our parents are great. They raised us in a way that makes me want to follow their footprints. God was at the center of our families from the time we were born. They read us the Bible, prayed with us, taught Bible classes and preached at our churches, and took our youth groups to activities.

Yet I still messed up. Ryan still messed up.

To you

So to any parent of a Prodigal, I know that inwardly you you may be broken and crumbling, but I want to say something to you.

The sins of your grown children do not reflect your success or failure as a parent. Just like the sins of the Prodigal Son don’t reflect the success or failure of his father. And just like your sins, my sins, and the sins of any other person don’t reflect on the success or failure of our God and Father.

Awhile back a fellow momma, Janet Stafford, and I were discussing our similar stories and she mentioned something that has really stuck with me– There is no mistake that isn’t redeemable by God. Every piece of the puzzle is completing His glory. And while being pieced together may be hard and at times not make sense, it is so awesome to reflect back over time and see how those pieces have been fit together.

Parents- remember, you may be witnessing the beginning of your kid’s story. An incredible testimony. This isn’t the end of their story it’s the beginning. Your reaction will be part of it.

The choices of your children are their own. Please don’t chain your child’s choices to your success as a parent.

You know your situation. Some Prodigals don’t come back home. Some Prodigals come and go like a revolving door. Sometimes the best way to parent is on your knees in prayer. Sometimes the best way to parent is by encouraging your kids to grow up. You know your kid.

But remember, likely when your pride in them is at an all-time low, is when their need for you is at an all time high.

Give them grace.

*If you are a young girl who is walking this hard path, and your parents haven’t been supportive, I want to encourage you. Find support. A close friend, a welcoming church, a pregnancy crisis center (I found one that did some counseling and talked to me about what steps to take regarding health care) are all great ways to have the support you need to make it.

You are strong. You are loved. And you are His.

You can do this.

I would love to connect on Facebook and be sure to check out my Children’s Bible Reading And journal schedule on Amazon here!

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How my college life changed Brocks beginning

It's positive!