This question has been on every person’s mind lately for a million different reasons. Maybe your “What if” has to do with school, work, politics, finances, marriages, friendships, openings and closings, masks or not….we have all struggled with some sort of what if question lately.
This might be a new one for you to think about…
What if….God was using what you viewed as a set back to push you right into His will?
I have seen people struggling the past few months. I have struggled the past few months. Depression and hard times and confusion and mourning over what is lost are all quite common for humanity in general these days.
I am not saying that things are easy, but what I am saying is that God is faithful.
I have spent many times in my life crying and feeling hopeless over situations. I know the feeling of thinking that you messed everything up and that you will not get past it. I can also look back on my life and see where God pulled me out of my despair and used those same circumstances to direct me to new opportunities.
I feel like sometimes we can get so protective of our own control. We want to know the plan and what the next step is. It can almost be worse when we feel like we know God’s calling on our life. Then we can really start making plans and trying to figure ways to accomplish goals. Maybe…just maybe, that is not that way that God wanted to use you to fit that purpose.
2020 has not surprised God. All of the cancellations, changed plans, even the sickness….He knew it was coming and He knows when it will go away.
Don’t sink into despair. It is a new day filled with new opportunities. I can’t tell you when things will be ‘normal’ again. I can tell you that no matter what happens next, God has absolutely got us. Look for the positive, Look for ways that He is shifting your path or ideas. He is always directing you to His plan and His perfect will.
Proverbs 19:21- You can make many plans, but the Lord’s purpose will prevail. (NLT)
So at this point in the pandemic scheme of things, we have missed out on a family trip for a homeschool conference, a missions trip to NYC, three weeks of camp, an annual youth conference, a trip to Ohio for Nationals, and our New Years Cruise has already been cancelled. Maybe it’s all of these things that are leading me to daydream about travels.
I love to go anywhere new. There is no such thing as a boring destination. I love the planning and research and can come up with an itinerary for any destination! I’ll be packed and ready to go with my folder of notes and lists!!
I thought that today I would share five places that I would love to visit!!
My first one might be kind of bending the rules, but it’s my post so I can do that! 😂 one of my travel goals is to visit all fifty states! I am at 21 out of 50 right now and look forward to any chance to mark another one off of my list!!
The second place on my list would be Australia. This is a place that Otis and I have always wanted to visit. When we first got married, we said that for our twentieth anniversary we would go on a dream trip to Australia. Of course back then as newly weds, we assumed that by twenty years we would have a ton of savings and just be able to go on such an amazing trip. Here we are at 19 years and well… life, mortgages, kids… I don’t think that trip is happening!! Haha! Maybe for our thirtieth anniversary!!
The third place on my list would be Paris. Is there really any explanation needed?!?? Who wouldn’t want to go here!! And also- Disneyland at Paris with Sleeping Beauty’s Castle! 😍😍😍 This would totally be a dream come true!!
My fourth place that I would love to visit is Greece. There is no special reason or connection other than it is absolutely beautiful.
The final location on my list would be Bora Bora. Isn’t this a “dream destination” for anyone?!?! It seems so relaxing and picturesque!!
What are some places that are on your list?? Share them with me and maybe I’ll expand my list to be a top ten!!
I think that if we are honest, there are always things that we want God to transform within us. I also think that there is something special about identifying those things and making them known, whether by putting them into writing or having an accountability partner. It is easy to pray ‘God, make me more like you’ or something like that. It is much more difficult to confront an actual issue in yourself- like God help me to be less of a gossip or help me with this addiction. It has been said that if you don’t admit to having a problem then you can’t take the necessary steps to solve it. This topic honestly came up in a post that listed several writing prompts. I decided to honestly explore it.
The first way that I would want God to transform me is to help me be more confident. If I am being completely honest, I am more often than not very insecure. This is not about body image. It is more about always feeling like you don’t bring enough to the table. I do believe that I am absolutely my own worst enemy, and being aware of that has helped me to overcome this struggle in my life. I used to be very insecure in my friendships- feeling not valued…like people simply tolerated me versus valuing me. Over the past few years though, God has truly blessed me with such an amazing tribe of friends to walk through life with. I have had to overcome feeling threatened over others achievements. I can celebrate with those I love and be completely secure in my giftings and talents. It is such a joy to be able to recognize those things that I am good at and can serve- allowing others to also walk in their own areas. I need to continue to work in being this confident while walking in who God has made me to be, and not trying to make myself something else.
The second area of my life that I would like to be transformed is just being more in tune with God. Hopefully this is something that we are all striving for. There are so many days when I feel like I haven’t prayed enough or spent enough time in His word. I am so thankful for HIS grace!! As long as I am working on it!!! I have created the habit of actually putting my Bible reading on my to do list as the first thing. This helps me to get it done first and sets the tone for my day. I usually have my worship music playing while I am reading, so that allows me to flow right into some quiet/worship time before the busyness of my day. I am continually working on helping my kids with this as well. We were all doing this together during the school year, but now that we are half way through summer break- I realized that my son had probably not picked up his devotional since the last day of school. So I have been trying to do better in holding us all accountable in this area.
The third area of my life that I would like to be transformed in is being a better wife and mom. I am so proud of the little family that Otis and I have created. I am so proud of our children and the people that they are becoming. We have nurtured these relationships and worked hard to protect and honor them. Just because you are putting the work in and proud, does not mean that there still isn’t room for transformation. As far as being a mother goes, it is the most important job title that I will ever carry. I make it my top priority. Growing up, I never had career dreams- I just knew that I wanted to have a family and I knew what kind of mom I wanted to be. I had seen first hand what kind of mother I did not want to be, so breaking that cycle and being the opposite was something that was so important to me. Here is my dirty little secret- I am a “yeller”. I am not proud of it. There are even times when I am yelling at my kids and the enemy whispers in my ear… ‘see, you are just like your mom”. I know that is not true, but those attacks come. I am trying to hold myself accountable for yelling and not yelling as much. I am a work in progress. As far as being a wife goes, marriage is a journey for sure. There are seasons of date nights and being so connected and then there are seasons of barely being able see each other because work is pulling you in opposite directions. There are times when you might feel ahead of the game with finances and then there might be times when you are really struggling, which adds more stress in itself. Otis and I have been married almost twenty years. You would think by then, there would be no more need to growth in our relationship. The truth is that you should never stop growing in your relationship. It should always be your priority to talk and grow and love one another better with each passing day. That is my desire- to be the best wife and most amazing mother. To work toward that and walk in grace even in the midst of my shortcomings.
I could go on and on and probably name several more, but my goal for today was to identify three areas. Even if you only choose to identify one in your own life, think of an area and focus on that. God does and can transform any life, no matter what the circumstances. Lay your failures down and allow Him to meet you where you are!
This quarantine has been a hard time for so many, including me. I am the type of person that always tries to find the good in a situation. Even though the last few weeks and months have been so difficult for so many, it has provided a ton of down time to rest and tackle projects. We have organized and cleaned and done all sorts of house projects. Another thing that I’ve chosen to use this time for is to try some new products. I have five products that I tried for the first time during this quarantine – let me tell you all about them!
The first product would be Tinkle razors. Do y’all use these? Am I just super late to the game? I have watched a couple of bloggers that I follow use these and rave about them for years. I never really thought I needed them. I didn’t consider myself to have a peach fuzz problem. Then during quarantine when I didn’t wear any makeup for almost forty days straight….I was looking in my mirror. I did that weird thing where I moved my face at different angles and all of a sudden with the light and angle- I could see peach fuzz on my cheek. So I went to that bloggers page and read her post on these razors. She talked about how she used them once a week and they were fantastic for exfoliation purposes. Think about all the men who seem to age so gracefully…. they are shaving weekly… lots of exfoliation going on in that process. (JS) They are super cheap- like six on amazon for less than five bucks. I ordered some and tried it. The amount of dead skin cells that came off of my face 🤢 Seriously! I have found that using them once every two or three weeks is best for me. And just as a warning, right after you use them, your skin care routine is going to feel extra tingly!
The second product is wool balls. I have always been a stickler for tossing multiple dryer sheets in a load of laundry. The smell of my clothes is also very important to me. I grabbed these at Walmart. They work great with controlling the static. I put a drop of lavender essential oil on each one and toss them both in with a load of clothes. I apply a fresh drop of oil every few loads. I have been using these for a few weeks and have zero complaints. They were only a few dollars for the pair and they have already saved me so much money on dryer sheets!
The third product is L’Oréal Blow dry it quick dry primer spray. This product is meant to cut down on dry time and to also provide heat protection. Full disclosure, I recently got a haircut so my dry time was dramatically cut down anyway. However, it did seem faster when using this while offering heat protection. It also smells really nice!
The fourth product is hard as hoof nail cream. I noticed when the season started to change that my nails were splitting. I went to pinterest to find a remedy and came across this. The instructions say to apply three times a day or more. In the beginning of all this when we were still doing school work each day, I would just sit the tub next to me and apply it 4 to 5 times per day. I will say this, the health of my cuticles improved right away. My nails were so strong as well. When school finished and I was only putting it on in the morning and at night, it still helped but it wasn’t as drastic as before. I had also developed some dry skin on the top of my hand from all of the excessive hand washing. I rubbed this on it and it helped tremendously.
I saved the best for last!! Y’all! Here it is- my first Fab Fit Fun box and I’m totally hooked! I tried another “subscription” box about six months ago and was so disappointed. It was an immediate cancellation. I was willing to give this one a try because I had seen so many celebrities and influencers rave about them. They also seemed to have higher quality products. It almost seemed too good to be true! FFF allows you to choose some of your preferences. I was so excited for this- I was literally tracking my shipment! I paid $45 and received all of this!!
I looked up each product and it was a $324 Value!! I LOVE A GOOD DEAL! Plus I knew with a teenage daughter, no products would go to waste. If I wasn’t interested, then she would be! I was most excited about the adorable Draper James bag (retailing at $75). I love Reese Witherspoon and was excited to own something from her line!
I also received a Michael Kors passport wallet ($78), a giving key necklace ($45), an ice roller, beach mist, brow pencil, beauty blender, and hand cream. If you have ever thought about this, I would say go for it!! They are seasonal, so it’s only four times per year. It is definitely something that I know I will look forward to in the future!!
What new products have you tried? Let me know so I can try them, too!!!
This is day 34 of the quarantine for us. It has been quite an up and down ride of emotions. Some days are fine. Almost normal. We homeschool anyway, so that’s not a huge change for us. Otis and Allie are still working at Chick-fil-A, so that gets them out of the house for a few hours a week. It was hard at first, adjusting our schooling schedule to no field trips, library days, or extra curricular activities, but we’ve gotten used to that. We haven’t run out of food or toilet paper. There hasn’t been any real reason to panic. We have been wearing masks if we go to the grocery store, hand sanitizing like crazy, and spraying our mail with Lysol. The hardest part of all of this for me are the weekends. It just feels so long and open. We have done house projects, played games and watched movies. I just really struggle on the weekends and I guess a lot of that is because we aren’t doing schoolwork. I miss my church. I miss my friends. I miss hugging necks and going out for lunch. I miss wandering around Target and Ross. I know in the grand scheme of things, my misses aren’t important at all. I’m just letting you know that we may be on different levels, but it’s a struggle for all of us. I really struggled last weekend on Easter Sunday. I just missed my people and celebrating with them.
On the flip side of all my struggles, I have seen SO MUCH GOOD. I’m a fairly positive person anyway, so I’m always going to search for good no matter what situation we are facing. I have seen churches become so creative and people that wouldn’t come to a regular church service before have been engaged online. I have seen food banks offer drive thru grocery bags for those in need. I have seen people in the church taking time to reach out and connect. If y’all know me, you know that I’m a “card sender”. During this past month, I have received several cards in the mail. It has just blessed me so much. I’m not used to being the one receiving cards and so to get unexpected cards in the mail was so heart warming for me.
Our neighborhood has also gotten so creative to keep people active and connected. We had one lady sewing masks and giving them out for free. We had a walk through zoo where many of us put out stuffed animals in our windows or yard for the small children in neighborhood to walk around and see. We have also had dance contests and scavenger hunts. Gary won a guitar in one of the first scavenger hunts. He loves it and has been walking around the house strumming it and singing ‘Remember Me’ from Cocoa! 😂😂
My point in sharing all of that is just to say that people have been coming together. There is a good side to all of this.
The most common answer that was given when you would ask someone how they were doing before this pandemic was “busy”. I’m so guilty of saying the same thing. None of us can really say that anymore. Our calendar was always full. We have missed multiple conferences, trips, and planned events. Everyone has. We have never had this much free time. Ever. I’m choosing to look at it as a blessing- a gift. My family is safe. I’m praying for those that are sick and all of the essential workers that are keeping things as normal as they can despite the circumstances. I’ve been using this time to tackle projects that have just been lingering around. Thank goodness for amazon!! I have ordered flash drives in bulk and organized ALL of my pictures. I have read books. I have tried new recipes. I’ve done online Bible studies and am taking a class. I know we all cope with things differently, but try to see the goodness in all of it.
Please know that no matter how you feel in any certain moment, you are not alone. People are praying for you. People are willing to help in anyway they can. You are loved- it just has to be from a distance for now.
I’m believing that when all of this is over, we will be changed. We won’t take things for granted. We will be truly excited for church. We will be happy to see one another. We will hug a little tighter. Stay safe my friends. Search for the good and you will find it. ❤️ Hope to hug your neck soon!!
This has been one crazy week- that’s for sure!! This time last week, business was usual for my family. A few things were canceled, but for the most part it was all routine. We were set to be out of town this weekend at a homeschool convention, but it was canceled. We’ve had birthday parties, church services, and everything else that usually fills our schedule cleared out. We are used to having a pretty full and busy life. It’s normal for us. This week has been anything but normal. Like people all over the world, our new reality is that everything is canceled. We have been forced to “slow down”. Although it can definitely be somewhat scary and unsettling, because we don’t know when things will go back to ‘normal’. I am choosing to focus on the blessings that have come with this unexpected situation. Of course we should all stay safe and be smart, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t do anything.
This is a great time to tackle a project that you have been putting off. Purge, clean, and organize one room at a time. Tackle projects around your house. We put up a fence two days ago that we had been talking about doing for years!! Plant some flowers or paint a room. Go through your closet or your kids toys!! It will help you feel productive and accomplished. Try a new recipe! I made strawberry cinnamon rolls from scratch yesterday morning. (If I’m being honest, they didn’t exactly turn out 🤷🏻♀️ But at least I tried it and had the time to make them) We might not be able to go to our church building this morning or to lunch with our family like we always do, but we are still all checking in on each other. Text your people. Check on them. Mail cards to older people that may not be texters. Being separated does not equal not having community.
It is completely possible to focus on the positive parts of this situation when your peace is greater than whatever the world can throw at you. Turn off the news and read a book instead. Put down your phone and play a game with your family. Rest in the fact that none of this caught God by surprise. He has us. This was in my devotion a couple of days ago- Danger may crash all around me, to my right and left, but I will be unharmed. I will not be intimidated. I won’t even flinch, for you are by my side!
Keep me safe, O mighty God. I run for dear life to you, my Safe Place. Psalm 16:1
Happy Sunday! I’m praying that you have peace in your heart and are able to find the good in any circumstance!!
Tomorrow will be better, because today I spent time alone with God. I chose to spend time in His word instead of catching up on Hulu this morning before school. Tomorrow will be better, because today I spent time getting myself organized. This includes my menu, grocery list and lesson plan for school. Tomorrow will be better, because today I went ahead and tackled the laundry. Even though the hamper only stays empty for about 45 minutes…. at least it won’t be overflowing. Tomorrow will be better, because today I stopped our schoolwork to spend some time with a family member that is home from college. Time with her is good for all of our hearts. ❤️ I never get upset, stressed, and frazzled over ONE THING. It is always a compilation of several things that are building. If I can be very purposeful with my choices today, then I can save myself some frustration tomorrow. What are some things that you can do today to make tomorrow better?
Meal planning is something that is a true game changer for me! If you can devote twenty minutes or less to getting organized on the weekend, then it can change your dinner time and budget. Even on the busiest of days, if I know what I’m making and that I have everything I need, then it takes stress and pressure off of me. My week is so much smoother if I’m organized and know what to expect. I love being organized and knowing that my week is set. To me, there is nothing worse than standing in front of the fridge, staring in, and wondering what you’re making for dinner that night. Having it all planned and shopping off of a list has cut my grocery budget in half. Some people might think that meal planning is super hard and they could never do it, but I promise that you can!! I’m going to share the four things I do when I’m meal planning and hopefully these tips might help you as well!!
The first thing I do is to get my calendar out and my notebook. I list all of the days that I am planning- we get paid biweekly, so I plan out our meals two weeks at a time. I check my calendar to see what days we might have plans that would include not eating at home. For instance, we always eat out with friends after church on Sunday and then I don’t cook another meal that evening. That’s a great opportunity for the kids to eat leftovers! Make sure to plug in any birthday celebrations or dinner meetings. Once you have done that, then you will see exactly how many days you need to plan meal for!
The next things I do is to shop my kitchen. I check my freezers and pantry to see what I have on hand that I need to incorporate into my meal plan. I start a list of possible side dishes or main courses that can be prepared with these items. This step usually fills in one or two of my needed meals, plus provides some side dishes for the other days!
Next, I ask my family if they have any requests. Sometimes I go with their requests- sometimes I don’t. My son will ask for cheeze it meatballs Every. Single. Week. If I let him. 😂😂 I will plug in some of their requests into my meal plan. I also like to check out my pinterest board for a new recipe or dish to try. If you’re like me then you have hundreds and hundreds saved, but trying to make too many of those in a week can really blow a budget. I’ve found that aiming to try one a week is a good fit for me.
The final step is to make your grocery list and go shopping. I write down everything that I will need for each meal that I have planned and mark out the things that I already have. Then I check the kitchen for staples that we may need— we seem to ALWAYS be running out of ketchup 🤦🏻♀️🤷🏻♀️Personally, I choose to drive about 25 minutes to shop at Aldi. There is another grocery store five minutes from my house that I will run to if I need something last minute or unexpected, but my major grocery haul is from Aldi. I can usually feed my family of four for two weeks for about $160. That’s huge savings from other grocery stores! And I am talking about breakfast, lunch, and dinner. We homeschool and are home during the day, so I always make sure to have sandwich supplies and pretzels on hand. We also keep cereal, pop tarts, oatmeal, and waffles for a quick breakfast!!
This whole process might seem like too much for you, but seriously it takes me about 10-15 minutes on a Sunday afternoon. (Not counting the grocery shopping). If you want to give it a try, go to hobby lobby and get a cute chalkboard menu sign for your kitchen. It will motivate you to plan it out! This makes such a huge impact on the flow of my week and I’m sure it will benefit you, too!
Mom life is tough y’all. I absolutely believe that people will gain more from you and respect you more if you are authentic with them. If you show real life…. the good and the bad.
Yesterday was a tough day. It included many tears and even some attitude. There was punishment and yelling. This wasn’t an isolated issue either. A few weeks ago, I was the recipient of an Oscar worthy performance from our son. He was yelling about how I always make him work. He stomped into his room huffing and puffing and complaining. Now given this extravagant display, you might be wondering what I was making him do. Things that might cause such an outburst could include…. maybe cleaning out the gutters…. or painting the house….. or even maybe raking the yard.
Or none of the above.
Y’all. I asked him to brush his teeth and get his shoes on. 🤦🏻♀️
I. ALWAYS. MAKE.HIM.WORK.
I walk that line and struggle a lot with my kids. I always feel like I’m the one fussing at them for cleaning their room or doing their chores. And mind you… this all usually takes place after a day when I’ve had my Teacher hat on all day and have delivered multiple lessons, tests, labs, etc.
My own expectations can often be my worst enemy. Each day isn’t supposed to be a beautiful event wrapped in a picture perfect bow. Some days are just plain hard. Sometimes our emotions get the best of us and we feel like we are doing everything wrong.
I have to choose to remember that I am enough.
God gave me these kids as a part of His plan. He called us to homeschool as a part of His plan. He called our family into ministry as a part of His plan.
There are days when the stress can seem to be crushing. Even so, I completely trust His plan.
“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.””
Joshua 1:9 NIV
Wherever you go!!! That includes algebra lessons and dentist appointments and meltdowns and tears. Every single thing we face, He is there with us. Always.
“But I trust in you, Lord; I say, “You are my God.””
Psalm 31:14 NIV
So in the midst of the hard moments, I hope that you also choose to trust! ❤️
This is no secret. Most people know it. If you have lived it then you totally get it and understand exactly what I mean. I’m not even being exclusive to full time pastors right now. We have done both- ministry while working full time jobs as well as being a full time pastor. Over the past 18 years that we have spent in ministry, we have learned many, many (many, many, many….) lessons. We have transitioned from youth leaders to full time youth pastor to associate pastor leading both youth and kids. Through all of this, there are many rewards and victories and moments of celebration. There are also moments filled with doubt, fear, uncertainty and loneliness. Life in ministry is hard.
Our family is in an extremely busy season of life and ministry. We are keeping up and making it all work, but there are certainly days when we have multiple things going on. We have to communicate a lot and stay organized to keep up with our calendar. We also make a point to try and schedule downtime for us all to unwind/rest/relax a little. I think back to October 2014, when Otis and I were on a flight to NYC to attend the Hillsong Conference. Otis was sleeping in the seat next to me. I was settling in to read a book, when the Lord clearly spoke to me. Something that He specifically told me was that I could not do the ministry that He had for us with my current work schedule. (You can read all about that here)
If you know me on a personal level, you know that unfortunately I tend to take things very personally. When people make random comments that they may feel as harmless…. it’s like opening a window to my heart and allowing doubt flood in. I know that isn’t a great habit to let happen, but if I’m being honest… that’s the truth. I’m working on it and have grown, but it does still happen.
Anytime that you are in ministry, there are a million opinions on EVERYTHING. We can find dozens of things to disagree on or choose to not like. These things can be used to divide and destroy us. As ministries grow, more and more families become involved and that equals more and more opinions.
As people who work in youth and kids ministry, there is a certain level of pressure to cater to each families needs. Parents are not shy about telling you what they think you are doing wrong and what their kids want. Some want constant fun and games… others want more teaching… others want events and activities. It can be difficult to manage everything and you can truly wear yourself out trying to do just that. It’s so easy, and almost natural, to become overwhelmed and stressed out about keeping everyone happy.
Y’all- it’s impossible.
We have learned that we just have to step back and take a breath. It’s important to remember the point of it all. Our goal and job is to point others to Jesus. It is that simple. We can plan all of the events and stay busy for the rest of our lives and not fulfill our calling at the same time. We are not full time child care. It is not our job to entertain. It is our job to teach about Jesus and help students grow in their faith.
Stay focused on that truth and the Lord will handle the rest. Don’t get me wrong, activities and fun events and outreaches can all be used to nurture growth…. but it can also be empty calendar fillers.
To all of the exhausted workers out there, don’t lose faith. The work you are doing is important and is making a difference. Don’t cave to the pressure to people- please. Be faithful to Jesus and trust that He has it all under control.