Friday, May 29, 2009

As you may have noticed my blog has lost a lot of its elements. This is because I have finally figured out how to make a three-column blog (which I am incredibly thrilled about, by the way)! So, please have patience with me as I build my blog up again - my free time is limited this weekend, so it may be awhile. But YAY for the three-column blog!! :)

Thursday, May 28, 2009

My meeting yesterday (at my church with a wonderful woman named Monica) went far better than I anticipated it would! Granted, I completely understand the fact that God truly does have me in His arms and He is guiding me on my path of life - but in the midst of this very lonely period I've been going through (during the daytime when it's just me and Colin here), it's been really hard to see the light at the end of the tunnel. SO - Monica and I met and spent awhile talking about me and my upbringing, my Christian walk and what exactly brought me to the place I am. Then we talked about where I would best fit in what ministries. I expressed my desire to be able to be a part of serving as well as being served (as I just love to help in small groups - I always have!). She shared a vision with me that she believed I would be a very important part of. She said that our church is looking to start a small group for people in my situation - for blended families who are trying to work their way through the transition into one family. She told me that she believes I may be the one who can start that group and truly get it going - I can't even begin to tell you how happy that made me! First, however, I am being introduced to different women in the church and am going to work at establishing relationships and truly establishing my place. Over the summer I will be getting together with one of the heads of the MOPs group in our church, who (I'm told) will in turn help me establish more friendships with at-home moms in my area. What a blessing!.

With such a wonderful meeting behind me, I was driving home yesterday with a huge burden on my heart to truly devote myself to being a good steward. Naturally, when I got home, I decided to dive into my Bible and find out exactly what it means to be a good steward. What I found were things that I already knew, but very likely needed a little refresher course in this subject. The Bible states that we are to be faithful (good stewards) with our time, money and talent. It also says that 'he who is faithful in the little things will be faithful in much'.

I broke it down and looked into those three topics: time, money and talent. Starting with money, as that seems the most logical in my mind - I know that we are faithful with our money. We tithe, we give to charities, we even sponsor a sweet little girl named Seida through Compassion International. We are good about not spending money on foolish things (well, most of the time!) and are working steadily on planning for our future. If God were to ask me today if we are being faithful with our money, I believe I could confidently answer that Yes we are!

So - on to talents. I think I can honestly say that I am not a good steward of all of my talents, simply because I am unsure as to where they can best be used. I'm crazy organized, love heading new groups/projects and truly have a heart for people. I think that these are my strongest talents - I also believe that my meeting with Monica yesterday is opening the door for me to use those talents in the place that God has set for me.

The one I don't want to discuss, however, is time. I can say that I waste my time spend too much of my valuable time doing things that could be saved for later and too little of my time being a good steward of the home I own. My house is rarely clean - my laundry is usually in piles - I myself am usually in pajamas until late morning. There are so many other things I could be doing. Granted, part of my morning ritual that is NOT wasted is my daily occasional phone conversation with my sister. Being 11 years older than me (she is the oldest sibling, I am the youngest - there are two brothers in there somewhere as well!), she has been through many experiences much like ones I may be experiencing as well. She is my mentor and one of my closest friends and I truly do believe her to be a gift straight from my Father, as he knew that I would need someone who truly knew my heart to support me on this new journey of my life.

Okay - that was a little bit of a sidetrack there, but what can I say? I just absolutely love and adore my sister!

I truly do believe that God is showing me that He has a plan for my life - and the action steps that I can take in making that plan move forward is to prove that I can be truly AM a good steward of the things He has given me.

So that is my challenge to myself and to YOU - instead of spending those few extra minutes in bed tomorrow morning, I'm going to be up bright and early and be ready for the day He has given me.

"This is the day the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it." Psalm 118:24

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

No, it's not just because they have a contest going away that I'm posting about them - it's because I truly do LOVE their shirts! Wild Olive makes T-shirts that allow you to "Get Your Verse On" with a scripture verse on each shirt. They are all so uniquely made and uniquely beautiful - I just made my first order today and I can't WAIT to get them! :)

Visit them here or click their banner in my sidebar. They are styling in the way they shine for God!
Today is supposed to be insane! I can't really complain about it, though I am trying to prepare myself and Colin for it. We have a meeting with the Director of Women's Ministries (Monica) at my church at 10am. Why am I meeting with her? Because a couple of months ago I tried to join the MOPs (Mothers of Preschoolers) group at our church and I was told that they are full and there is no room for Colin and I to join. That felt like a punch in the gut! It took me awhile to decide I really do still want to be a part of some ministry, and so I contacted my pastor who put me in touch with Monica - and today I'm meeting with her! I'm excited to see what doors God is opening for me through this meeting.

After that, it's a quick trip to Target (my boys need socks) and then back home for lunch and naptime. Chris is coming over this afternoon to watch Colin, and I am heading out to Minneapolis to pick Monte up at work and then head down to Bloomington where we are meeting with our financial advisor.

After that meeting, we are headed home and one of us is going straight to Iain's baseball game while the other is taking Ellis to his soccer game. It's going to be a crazy crazy day!!

Saturday, May 23, 2009

As many of you know, for the last five and a half months (almost six, holy moly!) I have been in the midst of transitioning from single woman working in the corporate world to stay-at-home step-mom. As many of you also know, this transition has NOT been easy. I am by no means saying that staying home with my step-kids has been a drag, because it hasn't ... I'm just saying that it has been a huge moment of self discovery for me. I'm learning how to be a parent, which I think will come more naturally after awhile. I'm learning how to cook - and this is where I found myself getting stuck. When I was single, I had no problem cooking (by my definition) gourmet meals for myself - and grocery shopping happened only once every three to four weeks (with a stop in between to pick up some fresh produce). Now, I continually find myself grocery shopping at least once per week and I find myself frustrated with not being able to cook the great meals that I want to and not being as good as my mom or my sister or my neighbor. And yes, I am doing comparisons.

Here I am, 25 years old, and just now learning how to cook for six people. I have always dreamed of being as good as my mom - having fun snacks ready for the kiddos after school and great meals that have them talking about them for months afterward. I had to humble myself awhile ago and ask my sister for advice on what to do and how to come up with new ideas, as the spaghetti that I'm great at making has started to bore my children! She referred me to a blog written by The Pioneer Woman and thus far it has been a success! Last night I made her Chicken Scallopine and the kids just loved it! I thought the lemon flavor was a bit intense, and I will decrease the amount of lemon I use next time, also I am going to use portabello mushrooms instead of white mushrooms, as I want more flavor. BUT, with the exception of those little details - the meal was a success! My step daughter has been talking about it all morning long (and saying that she wants me to make it again tonight)!

Why the blog about my cooking? In my marriage, Monte and I have promised not to do any comparisons, as I already know that, in the kids' minds, there is no chance that I live up to the high esteem that they remember their mother to be (and there is no way that I want to change that image of her in their minds - I am more than okay with being second place!). Unfortunately, even though Monte doesn't compare me ... I compare me. I compare myself to Kelley (the kids' mother). I compare myself to my sister. I compare myself to my neighbor. I compare myself to my mom and my aunts and my friend's moms and to June Cleaver for sure! ;) It's never ending for me. Somehow I don't feel like I measure up when I look at all of these mothers who are GREAT with their children and who I know can cook like a pro! In the midst of cooking dinner last night, I was having a very intimate conversation with God about not feeling like I am enough. I can't cook like my sister. I don't have a lot of fun and unique recipes like my neighbor. I can't make jellies like Kelley could. I can't make every meal amazing like my mom can. I just can't do it! I believe that God helped me to come to the realization that I really can do it and that I am comparing myself to people who have been in the parenting "business" for years, when I myself have been there for five and a half months. I don't have to do things the same way that everybody around me does. It's okay if I give my kids junk food once in awhile, because I guarantee you that they are eating healthier food more often than the latter. It's okay if I have to resort to making grilled cheese sandwiches because both of our boys have sports that evening and there is no way that we're going to be able to sit down for a real family meal. It's okay that I don't always have a grand dinner prepared. It's great when I do. I have learned that, even something as simple as cooking for my family ... that is exactly the good work that my Father has begun in me. I believe the Bible to be 100% true, which means that "He who has begun a good work in you will be faithful to complete it."

I'm okay where I'm at. I'm stepping into motherhood not like a majority of mothers out there, I don't get to learn one-at-a-time. I get all four starting from the hardest place they have ever been at in their short lives. I've got a heart overflowing with love for my kiddos, and that's what really matters. The cooking will come with time, and I have to be satisfied that I am just continuing to learn and that it will be a process. For right now, I am the one who can love them unconditionally and I am the one who can offer everything that I have to them. Because, simply put, I am everything that I have - I can give them, plain and simply, just me. And that's okay!

Friday, May 15, 2009

Right now, at this very moment, I am enjoying the sound of nothing but my fingers hitting the keys on my keyboard. My house is completely silent for the first time in four days. Let me correct myself - I have time to myself for the first time in four days. A girlfriend of mine came to stay with us for a few days, which is absolutely fine, but I've come to discover that having new (un-related) people in my house throws off my schedule more than I would care to admit. We were constantly busy with driving kids to soccer and baseball, picking them up from friend's houses, collecting rent at our apartment complex, buying groceries and returning clothes that just didn't quite fit correctly ... and that's not even half of it! The four days were quite busy - so busy that I did not have one day this week where I stayed in Mound all day. To be frank, I am exhausted!

My hubby is out of town on a camping trip with my two brothers, Jeremy and Tory, and my brother-in-law, Martin. This is Tory's birthday gift - he requested a guy's weekend at the Badlands. I'm more than okay with this. By no means am I saying that I want my husband to be gone, but I fully understand the necessity of taking weekends away. For that reason, my husband being gone does not bother me. The one thing I have missed in the midst of all of the crazy going on around me this week is any opportunity to just be still. I had late nights and early mornings all week long - and if you know me at all, you know that is NOT like me at all. Yes, I get up early with my kids, but I also go to bed early with my kids. Somehow, 9:30 has become my preferred bedtime! So, that being said, I was running on less-than-usual sleep and doing more-than-usual errands. Throw on top of that a case of head lice in two of my three boys (and haircuts for all of them - two of them shaved completely!) and it has been an insane week! Side note: by no means am I complaining about this - I truly am reflecting and enjoying thoughts of this week.

That's where I've been this week and now ----- now I sit here, listening to the silence, and the one thing that struck me is that I have not once in this past week taken time to truly be still before God. I am certainly one of those people who walks through my entire day talking to God, I really don't know how I would get through weeks like this if I wasn't, but I have not made time to intimately sit down and pour out my heart to Him, and to wait upon Him and listen for His voice. During my normal schedule, I often will use Colin's naptime as the time for me to spend one-on-one, no interruptions, completely intimate time with the Lord. Being the fact that this week has been so out-of-whack, I'm realizing that my soul craves that refreshing time of being with it's very Lover.

So now, as my children sleep and as my husband is likely sitting around a campfire with the guys, now my house is silent. Now it's time for my date with God.

Father, I am sorry I have waited so long.

Monday, May 11, 2009

What can I say? The trip was wonderful! It was such a sweet resting time for me - and the ironic thing about all that time in the sun is that I came back the same pasty white color that I left! :) My sunblock must've been more powerful than I was aware of!

We enjoyed the beach, a day at Universal Studios and lots of time relaxing at our hotel and in one of the nine or ten pools at the hotel. It was a wonderful amount of down time with my husband - a retreat that will forever be cherished! :)

Now I'm back to real life - a three year old who happily uses the potty chair (thank God for Papa and Grandma being willing to continue his potty training while we were gone) and three wonderful kiddos in school today. I've got groceries to buy and a lawn to mow .... life is great! :)

Monday, May 4, 2009

My house is out of control! Holy moly! I took Monte to the airport this morning and, when we left, it was already in desperate need of a deep DEEP cleaning. That being said, an entire day has gone by, the house has obtained more mess and far less clean and I feel like I'm in a swamp! I had intended on spending most of my day today cleaning and doing laundry, but my schedule got completely changed around when I realized that, in order to potty train my three-year-old, I would have to devote every waking moment to reminding him that it's time to go potty, and changing him every time he wets himself. Ugh. I was up to my ears in frustration, and that's the very moment that the Lord smiled at me because

Colin went potty in the potty chair!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I can't even tell you the relief that came with this, and because we praised him so highly (and even treated him to ice cream), he seems really excited to be a BIG BOY and make sure that he always potties in the toilet. I even overheard him playing with his cars - he was saying (or the car was saying) "it's fun to be a big boy and to go potty in the potty chair, so you should do it too!". Thank you God!!

I understand there will still be accidents and I am likely not on to the easiest party of potty training yet, but this moment of success has brought enough encouragement to keep me going through whatever comes next!

Now if I could only find time to clean and pack - I fly out to Orlando (to meet Monte and have a short-but-wonderfully-sweet vacation with my darling husband) on Wednesday and have promised myself that the house is going to be completely clean by then. I wouldn't want my in-laws (who are watching the kids for us) to think I'm a pig or anything ;) Wait a minute, they've watched the kiddos for extended periods before ... I think they understand.

Oh boy - potty chair, here we come!!

I did not get into a "fight" with my rosebush this week, only to get mad and turn around and try to push it out of the way - only to end up MORE scratched up. Not me.

Today, in the midst of potty training my son, I did not get confused and ask the cashier at the grocery store if she had to go potty before we left, then proceed to be confused as to why I asked her that and have to explain myself. That would be too embarassing, I would never do that!

I did not ask my son if he knows what it means to be quiet because he was asking too many questions and certainly did not get his response of "but God made me to ask so many questions."

And to top it all off, I did not answer the phone by saying "hey lover!" because I thought it was my husband's number on the caller ID, only to find out it definitely was not my husband's number being displayed. No way!