Thursday, January 31, 2013

Family Game Nights

In the spirit of noticing and enjoying my kids growing up lately, I thought I'd share some of our favorite games these days. Greg and I both come from game-playing families and still love to have game nights with our friends, so I'm glad we're raising a game-playing family of our own.

Blokus
We got this game I'd never heard of as a Christmas present from a friend of ours. I was immediately intrigued because the pieces reminded me of Tetris. Ben can't quite play (which is expected in a game recommended for people 5 and older), but he does say, "Momma, I'm going to jam you up!" when he's helping his daddy play. Cate, who is 5, is developing some strategy, but this is one of those games that is simple to learn but leaves plenty of time to master. Sometimes when the kids are in bed, Greg and I will play some competitive rounds of Blokus without our kids.

Sequence for Kids
Another gift from another friend, I hadn't seen this game until it was sitting on our table. I've seen and I believe even played the regular version, but this is a fun kid version that my 3-year-old restless boy can play and my game-loving, 5-year-old daughter likes to play. It's like a more sophisticated Connect Four. I get the feeling there will be more post-dinner games of Sequence for Kids happening around here.


The Best of Charades for Kids
I don't generally like charades. Mostly, I don't like standing in front {even a small} crowd and acting. But my daughter loves this game. She got The Best of Charades for Kids in a board game exchange at her class Christmas party {Fabulous idea, huh?}. I do like that each card has three words of different difficulty levels with the easiest having a picture as well as the written word. That makes playing this an option for Ben, who was surprisingly good at translating the picture into her actions.

Rummikub for Kids
This the junior version of a game both Greg and I played as kids. He calls is RUM-ME-CUB and I call it RUM-ME-CUBE, just as the directions shows. To make matters worse, his mom calls is it RUMMY-CUB too. They are little tiles, people. Tiles are more like cubes than cubs. Whatever you call it, the kid version of Rummikub is worth playing.

Uno
Greg and I love to play cards so, really, we're hoping to raise some Euchre and Spades players. But until then, we'll play Uno with our girl who definitely gets the damage a well-timed "reverse" or "skip" can do. SKIP BO is the next card game I want to teach her.

Chutes & Ladders
Admittedly, Chutes and Ladders and Candy Land rank pretty low now that we've reached a point of being able to play all these other games, but I do find much joy in my son thinking sliding down chutes, which move him farther from the finish line, is fun.

What kind of games does your family play?
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Disclosure: Compensated affiliate links used, but the opinions about these board games are mine. Want more? Subscribe to get "Insights" in your inbox. Or follow me on Twitter.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

They're growing up.

Ben in his big boy bed in his new room. All his stuffed animals made the move with him.

My boy is getting big. 

And, honestly, I'm good with that.

I walk this thin line between wanting to live in the moment and being excited my kids are growing up. Don't misinterpret that. I don't want to rush my kids out of childhood. But I do like some of the ways they embrace independence. My kindergarten daughter is showering herself once one of us adults gets her water temperature the perfect and is getting close to losing her third tooth. My 3-year-old boy can eventually put on his clothes and sometimes manages to get his coat and hat on before we walk out the door.

She's excited about her brother getting bigger and
she pulled her loose tooth last night. Three down ... 
Last week we moved Ben from his nursery bedroom on the main level of the house to what has been the guest room upstairs. He shares a hallway with his big sister now. He's even ventured into her room a few times in the middle of the night, which disrupts sleep for all of us.

Cate is even excited to have him upstairs in his own space near her room, although she doesn't want him in her room, much less her bed, in the middle night. They both even helped me move his toys up the stairs and they've played in there many afternoons once she's home from school.

She told her carpool friends about Ben "sleeping in his big boy bed in his new room by hers." I heard the excitement in her voice that diminished when her friends didn't really seem to care.

Having a newborn is sweet but it's not my favorite phase of motherhood. I haven't been sad at either of my kids' first birthdays. I don't mind when I can start carrying a big purse again instead of a stuffed-full diaper bag. Toddlerhood with my boy was much harder and exhausting than a few years earlier with my girl, so I'm OK living on the other side of him being 2.

But, you know, my boy is funny. He tells crazy stories, probably to compete with his sister's constant detailed tales. Sometimes in the middle of a conversation, he's just growl. It's when I can't hear him I have to wonder what he's doing.

He's sweet sometimes too. A few times he's interrupted silence with "Momma! I love Jesus. Jesus lives in heaven." He adores my best friend here nearly as much as he loves her three kids who he treats like an extended group of siblings. He whispers in people's ears and likes to wave to strangers in stores and restaurants.

I like seeing his personality explode in our life, even on the days I have to take deep breaths and finally breathe a deep sigh of relief when bedtime comes. I want to help him channel his energy and not squash his spirit. Seeing my kids' relationship with each other develop is one of my greatest joys of mothering. Maybe she can convince him using the potty really is better than wearing a diaper.

These things wouldn't happen if they didn't grow up. I'm sure one day I'll cry big 'ole momma tears 'cause my babies aren't babies. But I'm not there yet. Right now I want to wrap my arms around my 5-year-old girl and 3-year-old boy and remember that these days won't last for long because that's how life is meant to be. 
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Tuesday, January 29, 2013

{God-sized Dreams} Remembering

And Joshua set up at Gilgal the twelve stones they had taken out of the Jordan. He said to the Israelits, "In the future when you descendants ask their parents, 'What do these stones mean?' tell them, 'Israel crossed the Jordan on dry ground.' For the Lord your God dried up the Jordan before you until you had crossed over. The Lord your God did to the Jordan what he had done to the Red Sea when he dried it up before us until we had crossed over. He did this so that all the peoples of the earth might know that the hand of the Lord is powerful and so that you might always fear the Lord your God.

I've got some memorial stones of my own. There are both my kids' adoption processes. Details in both reminded me God is faithful and always working, even when we can't see what he's doing. We found the ideal house for our growing family when we weren't even looking and moved three weeks before our second child was born. Just yesterday I finished blogging about five ways Januarys in the past have changed my life

As a planner who has been known to resist change, God often reminds me how he has provided in the more than five years since I quit a job I loved when my daughter I loved more was 4 months old. I went back to work as a small-town newspaper reporter after six weeks at home with my newborn daughter. This was my plan, yet I was more reluctant than I expected. Still, I went, mostly because I told my boss I would. Plus I wanted to prove to myself I could do it all. I could be excellent at my job and be a devoted mother. 

Truth was, it was hard. And my girl wasn't even moving yet. My husband worked at home in the mornings when I went to the office and then I came home at lunch and we swapped. He went to work and I took care of Cate while fielding phone calls and answering emails, possibly even writing my stories for the next day's paper while she slept. I took her along to interviews at the sheriff's department and city hall.

It worked, but I knew it wasn't going to work for long. Honestly, I didn't want this arrangement to work for much longer. 

Greg had gone out on his own and started his own law practice in August 2006. Not even a year earlier. That was certainly a factor in my hesitation. I got paid every other week. Granted, newspaper reporting isn't a lucrative profession, but my paychecks were steady. We knew what they would be and when they would come. And my health insurance contribution to my work's group plan came out of that salary. 

I debated. I talked. I thought. I asked. I wondered. I worked. I mothered. I hesitated. 

And then I trusted God. 

In August 2007, just after my sister's wedding weekend when God sealed my decision during a conversation with my aunt, I told my boss I was going to quit reporting on police and courts news, university and city government meetings and business, and our town's publicly owned hospital. I was going to fully embrace motherhood now that my husband had figured out how to make health insurance work through his still young business. 

God has provided. He's been faithful as my husband has worked to expand his business. I may have a print journalism degree, but God has opened up opportunities for me to use some of those same skills to volunteer with community organizations that matter to me and manage our two Kentucky Lake vacation rentals. Starting just a couple weeks after I quit my job, I went to a mom's group where I met another stay-at-home mom who has become a dear friend. He's helped me build friendships with other moms who help sustain me. And God has given me contentment. 

When I walked out of that newsroom for the last time on Sept. 14, 2007, I did wonder if I'd miss it. How could I not after four years of loving a job I had once said I'd never do? But somehow God gave me peace and took away that wondering and wishing and missing the organized chaos of a newsroom, an environment in which I thrived. My days at home -- well, you know, we go places too -- are harder than the ones in the newsroom, but I already get that they already are and will be more rewarding. 

I want to remember. I want to remember how I eventually trusted God in accepting change. I want to remember how God provides and is faithful and gives peace that passes all understanding. So here is my memorial stone for that decision that not only changed my life but has changed my husband's and daughter's life and more recently my son's life. 

Last week, Holley encouraged us to take this step: Thing back to another time when you took positive action in your life. What's one thing that helped you move forward that you could apply again now and someone else could benefit from hearing too? 


Remember. That's my one thing. I cherish stories and love to reminisce. It's in the words and memories that I'm reminded what God has done. I'm left believing he'll do it again and again. Because the hand of the Lord is powerful.
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Tuesdays are God-sized Dream days around here and I'm linking this post along with many, many other dreamers on Holley Gerth's blog. You'll find encouragement, truth and community there. Want more? Subscribe to get "Insights" in your inbox. Or follow me on Twitter.

Monday, January 28, 2013

{January 28, 2004}

Two years ago I wrote a five-part series about how January changed me. Big things have happened in Januarys past and I want to share them again this year as a reminder that God moves. He works when we don't realize how things will come together.


I had lost a ton of weight. I was always thirsty. And my contacts felt dry in my eyes.

Those were my symptoms. For months. For a year at least. Really, probably closer to 18 months. At first I didn't notice. Then I needed to hold a couple more months until my health insurance kicked in.

I chose a doctor a friend had gone to and liked. And within five minutes of talking to the doctor, I learned I probably had diabetes. She ordered a blood test to confirm, but she told me to go home and pack a bag for the hospital.

I cried. I called Greg. I cried. I called my mom. I cried.

I cried because I was scared.

Even on this first day, I was thankful for my doctor. She was calm and encouraging. And she didn't let me in on just how dangerously high my blood sugar was. I mean, she told me the number, which was in the 500s, I believe, but she didn't let me know just how worrisome that was. She also didn't tell me until later about my A1C, which measures the average blood sugar level over the past few months, and how it indicated diabetes had gone undiagnosed in me for quite some time.

Some in the previous year or maybe even two, my pancreas had stopped working. A virus killing off good cells is the best possible cause, but, really, the reason is a mystery. Turns out, my pancreas doesn't produce insulin and my body was burning fat because it couldn't properly break down sugar, leading to my thirst and hunger issues and weight loss.

I spent three nights in the hospital, where the nurses gradually brought my blood sugar level down with shots of insulin in my upper arm and tended to my dehydrated body with fluids. I learned how to count carbohydrates, give myself insulin shots and monitor my blood sugar levels. I realized our bodies are complex and that addressing this one need helped me feel so much better in every way.

For more than 7 1/2 years, I took one kind of insulin every time I eat and another kind each evening. Then in September 2011, I started using an insulin pump, which was such a good decision for me. This change came on the heels of me choosing a new doctor when the one who diagnosed me closed her practice. When I hesitated about his recommendation for pump therapy, he said if I decided do it I'd regret doing it five years earlier. I'm not sure about the five years, but I know he was right about me wishing I'd done it sooner!

I still go to the doctor every three months to have blood work done so my blood sugar, thyroid function and cholesterol levels can be monitored. Doctor #2 moved from my small-town, so I just started seeing another primary care physician and am looking into adding an endocrinologist for an annual visit. My kids like to watch my change my insulin pump infusion set, fill the new reservoir with insulin from the vial, and prick my finger to check my blood sugar. I know if I go too many days without exercise that my blood sugar rises for several days, giving me headaches. And when I do exercise, I have to take off my insulin pump so my blood sugar doesn't go too low.

I certainly don't manage it perfectly, and I still like to treat myself to sweets {with extra insulin, of course}. But I take care of myself, even though it's frustrating some times. A side effect of insulin is the difficulty losing weight. Yet I have to take it. So, like most people, I'm better off to pass on the desserts. But I like food. It's a vicious cycle. Usually I am thankful my chronic condition is one that is manageable. But some days I wish I could have a normally functioning pancreas.

I don't really want to live Jan. 28, 2004, over again. But it's part of me. I don't cringe when I give myself a shot or prick my finger. I just do it. Most of the pharmacist technicians at Rite-Aid know my name when I walk into pick up my diabetes supplies.

Much of those few days is a blur. But I remember one thing clearly: When I called Greg just a few minutes after I found out, crying, of course, he said, "It's OK, we'll change our lifestyle." He said, "we," and I was reminded I'm married to my best friend who is willing to live life with me, despite circumstances that may alter the course we thought we were on.

And he's lived by that these past nine years. He knows when I get irritable there is a good chance my blood sugar is high. He knows if my words start to be confusing and I'm sweating that my blood sugar is too low.

God created me and knows the details of every hormone and organ in my body. I may not know why my pancreas quit working, but I'm thankful there are ways to continue living this life, my life.
_______

This is the last in a five-part series about how January changed me. Want more? Subscribe to get "Insights" in your inbox. Or follow me on Twitter.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

{January 27, 2010}

Two years ago I wrote a five-part series about how January changed me. Big things have happened in Januarys past and I want to share them again this year as a reminder that God moves. He works when we don't realize how things will come together.

Ben has kept us on our toes before he was even born.

We were going to use a placement agency for our second adoption, but we met Ben's birth mom just before we really committed. He wanted to come into the world early, forcing his birth mom to take it easy for months before he was born, just eight days early. Once we had him home, he spit up often and was quick to express his discontentment. Let's just say, once Ben was sleeping through the night, momma and Ben were both more pleasant people.

And then, thankfully, his adoption process went even faster than we expected. The hearing was just an informal formality, but it was an important step in creating our family of four. And we wouldn't change Ben's second-child ways that disrupted what we were used to and made our family even better.

He's 3 now. And he's still loud and messy. But he's really funny and joy-filled too. He's fearless, always looking for an adventure. He likes his cup and sister near. He loves watching movies and swinging at the park, but he doesn't sit still for much of anything else. As his momma, I hope I can help him channel that energy and not squash his spirit.
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You can see pictures from the final adoption hearing here. This is the fourth in a five-part series about how various events in January changed my life. Want more? Subscribe to get "Insights" in your inbox. Or follow me on Twitter.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

{Shutterfly} 101 FREE 4x6 prints

Who doesn't love free?!

Today and tomorrow you can get 101 free 4x6 photo prints from Shutterfly. I love ordering from Shutterfly because the quality is fantastic, the service is excellent and whatever you name your photo appears on the back of the print. Use the code GET101PRINTS between now and 11:59 p.m. {Pacific} Sunday to get your free prints.

Offer is good for 101 free 4x6 prints at Shutterfly.com. Offer valid for one-time redemption per billing address. Offer not valid for in-store pickup. Taxes, shipping and handling will apply. In most parts of the country, shipping will be around $7.50.

So what are you waiting for?
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Disclaimer: Compensated affiliate links used, but who doesn't love a good photo deal. Want more? Subscribe to get "Insights" in your inbox. Or follow me on Twitter.

Weekend Words

Having a bad doesn't make you a bad mother :: This is so good. "Buy ear plugs if you have to – turn up the music, dance in the fact that you are doing it – you are mothering and it’s the hardest gig for the most demanding audience. Don’t waste the good moments on that voice. Don’t listen. Learn to tune it out and run to your kids instead. Run and hug and laugh away the bad moments. Say sorry when you need to and stay down on your knees a little longer, look around and see how the world is small and big at the same time and it’s right there in your hands." I saved this for when I was having the kind of day I needed such a reminder. I just recently started following Lisa-Jo Baker's blog, but I can tell it will be a place of much encouragement.

I need you. You need me. {And that's good.} :: Holley Gerth did it again. Her words came through my laptop like she was sitting at my kitchen table, reminding me that this is the good, real life I'm living in community with my friends who lead ordinary lives like me. But together we're extraordinary.

Thoughts on Hospitality :: Yes! Jennifer Bruce contrasts entertaining and hospitality in a way that should make us breathe a sigh of relief and unlock our doors. "The next time you have an opportunity to welcome someone into your home, I challenge you to practice hospitality. Don't put on a show. Just open the door and your heart as you invite someone to c'mon in and be part of your family for awhile."

Have you read anything good online this week?
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Friday, January 25, 2013

{Five Minute Friday} Again

I'm participating in Five Minute Friday, a link-up writing prompt at Lisa-Jo Baker's blog. This week the prompt is "Again ...

I think it was in the 2 o'clock hour this morning that I heard our 3-year-old boy peering over my husband's side of the bed. Yes, I could hear him peering. And then I heard him mumbling something about not being able to sleep.

Once again, my husband was gracious even while his sleep was being interrupted. I'm not that gracious, usually even in normal waking hours. That was my one thought before I went back to sleep again.

Then two little faces that should be sleeping peered over my side of the bed. I guess I heard them again because something woke me up. Maybe it was their voices. But maybe it was just their presence. It was 4:36, according to my cell phone that doubles as my alarm clock.

The first words out of my mouth: "You two need to go back to bed." They were scratchy, irritated words. There, again, my lack of grace.

My 5-year-old girl starts in on the story of what's going on. "Ben came into my room." See, we just moved him to his "new" room upstairs. It used to be a guest room, but I thought he was ready. I think he likes being down the hall from his sister now. And while I appreciate him thinking she can help his sleeping woes, I really just wanted them sleeping. Again.

Thankfully, that did happen after I sent them back to their rooms.

STOP.

Want to join us? Here are Lisa-Jo's rules: 1. Write for 5 minutes flat – no editing, no over thinking, no backtracking. 2. Link back here and invite others to join in. 3. Please visit the person who linked up before you and encourage them in their comments. That is like the one rule we all really care about. For reals.
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{Giveaway} Beyond Ordinary

"... Most of the behaviors we struggle with are tied to broken parts of our hearts. ... God doesn't want to improve your marriage; he wants to transform it. God doesn't want to modify your behavior; he wants to change your heart. Extraordinary comes when you, as a husband or wife, invite God to change you."
{From "Beyond Ordinary" by Justin & Trisha Davis}

I've been married for a decade. And, honestly, our marriage gets better each year. We've had our share of hard times, but we're figuring out how to get through them and come out stronger and more in sync. We're living a story that is far better than the one I scripted in my head when we spent most of our college days dating each other.

But I don't want to settle for our good marriage. I know God is always working and transforming and perfecting, and I want to embrace that. I want to let God make our marriage extraordinary.

I recently read "Beyond Ordinary" by Justin and Trisha Davis. Honestly, I got the first two chapters free online after I read on multiple blogs I follow about the book's release. So I figured I'd try it.

As soon as I finished Chapter 2, I ordered the entire Kindle version of the book from the comforts of my bed that night. You know, it's not often a non-fiction, self-help book reads like a page turner to the point I couldn't wait until morning to read a little more. I read the whole book in a few days, which, really, in this season of mothering a 3-year-old, always-on-the-move boy and a 5-year-old girl who constantly tells stories is rare.


"Oneness in marriage is restored as we ask -- and allow -- God to change us. Even if you spouse doesn't change, your marriage will be better because you will be changed."
{From Chapter 2: No Ordinary Battle}


I loved how both Justin and Trisha tell about their marriage. They take turns weaving together their story of  falling in love, settling for what is front of them, messing up by not tending to their relationship, and letting God transform them as individuals and as a family.

"Our marriage had been ordinary for so many years because I had allowed God to improve me, not recreate me. ... God promises to re-create you -- that is how committed to your healing he is. God doesn't want you to be better, he wants you to be brand new."
{From Chapter 10: No Ordinary Healing}

The memoir part of the story would stand on its own, but they don't stop there. While telling their story, they teach about bitterness, brokenness, selfishness, confession, oneness, grace, forgiveness, healing, intentional living, redemption and transformation. Yep, all those things, and, really, probably more, in one book. I've recommended it to my husband and three of my best girl friends. And now I'm recommending it to you.

I'm a big believer in remembering what God has done for you. The Davises talk about that in Chapter 4. What could have been a 19-day journey from Egypt to Canaan took the Israelites 40 years. And not because God is bad with directions.

"We will always be tempted to settle for ordinary in Egypt rather than walking with God through the wilderness to extraordinary. But God's greatest purpose for the people of Isreal wasn't where they were going; it was who they were becoming."
{From Chapter 4: No Ordinary Journey}

I want to have an extraordinary marriage for the next decade. And the ones after that. Justin and Trisha tell a story of redemption that should give us all hope that the best is yet to come if we'll trust God to heal our hearts and make us new.

Surprise! Trisha Davis has graciously said she and Justin would send one of readers {a U.S. mailing address only, please} a copy of "Beyond Ordinary." To enter, leave a comment telling me how long you've been married and a lesson your marriage has taught you. Then use the Rafflecopter giveaway below to earn additional entries and make note of your blog comment to officially enter. A winner will be selected at random on Feb. 1. If you want to go ahead buy a copy or two, you can do so here: Beyond Ordinary.


a Rafflecopter giveaway
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Learn more about Justin and Trisha Davis' ministry at refineus.org. You can also follow them on Twitter {Justin and Trisha}. I bought "Beyond Ordinary" for myself and wrote this review before I knew the Davis' would give away a copy to one of you. There is a compensated affiliate link used. Want more? Subscribe to get "Insights" in your inbox. Or follow me on Twitter.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

{Tiny Prints} 20% off your order until Jan. 30

Valentines Day Card from Tiny Prints

Love is in the air!

Does your son or daughter have a classroom full of sweet friends? Maybe your church is busting at the seems with small friends who need some love in an envelope. Perhaps there are adults in your life who would love a picture of your sweet family.

Regardless of who you're wanting to love on this Valentine's Day, Tiny Prints has adorable cards that can be customized with your child's pictures and your own text in whatever fonts you choose. Tiny Prints also has great customized photo gifts and its sister company, Treat, has some awesome personalized greeting cards.

If you order by Jan. 30 and use the promo code 20JANSW you can save 20% on your entire order!
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Disclaimer: Compensated affiliate links used. But, hey, I really do like ordering from Tiny Prints. Want more? Subscribe to get "Insights" in your inbox. Or follow me on Twitter.

ESFJ

I took a free personality test this week and immediately texted one friend and emailed another friend the results. They were the two friends who I knew would care about the four letters. In fact, they both knew their four letters without hesitation.

Holly's response to my ESFJ personality type? "I'm a little surprised you're a extrovert."


Read on. I like celebrating traditions. My husband
surprised me with these for  the 11th anniversary
of our engagement, which I wrote about yesterday.
Apparently I am. Extraverted. Sensing. Feeling. Judging.

Hmmm. So, of course, I had to consider whether I'm surprised I'm a extrovert. Really, I'm not. But I can see why Holly or someone else who knows how much I've been valuing my slow schedule that has allowed much time at home this month could be surprised.

My calendar this month has not been jam packed with appointments, playdates or commitments. Yes, I've taken a kid to the doctor, had a doctor's appointment of my own, driven carpool, met friends for lunch, ran errands when I needed to, cheered at basketball games, and had a school board meeting for my daughter's small, private school. But I've been able to be at home, where I've been able to relax, read three books, write for myself and you, play games with my kids, connect with new friends online, and dream.


Even so, it's in my relationships I find strength and wisdom and encouragement. God didn't create us to be alone, and I feel refreshed and energized when I'm living life with people close to me. Just because I'm labeled an extrovert doesn't mean I want to get in front of a crowd and speak. Trust me.

I often see contradictions in my personality, so I'm always amazed with a description of my type is so right. This one even mentions the "contradictory forces"!

Guardians of birthdays, holidays and celebrations, ESFJs are generous entertainers. They enjoy and joyfully observe traditions and are liberal in giving, especially where custom prescribes. 
All else being equal, ESFJs enjoy being in charge. They see problems clearly and delegate easily, work hard and play with zest. ESFJs, as do most SJs, bear strong allegiance to rights of seniority. They willingly provide service (which embodies life's meaning) and expect the same from others. 
ESFJs are easily wounded. And when wounded, their emotions will not be contained. They by nature "wear their hearts on their sleeves," often exuding warmth and bonhomie, but not infrequently boiling over with the vexation of their souls. Some ESFJs channel these vibrant emotions into moving dramatic performances on stage and screen. {Um, yeah, you won't find me on stage and screen. A lesser part of my personality must slip in there ...
Strong, contradictory forces consume the ESFJ. Their sense of right and wrong wrestles with an overwhelming rescuing, 'mothering' drive. This sometimes results in swift, immediate action taken upon a transgressor, followed by stern reprimand; ultimately, however, the prodigal is wrested from the gallows of their folly, just as the noose tightens and all hope is lost, by the very executioner! 
An ESFJ at odds with self is a remarkable sight. When a decision must be made, especially one involving the risk of conflict (abhorrent to ESFJs), there ensues an in-house wrestling match between the aforementioned black-and-white Values and the Nemesis of Discord. ... 
As caretakers, ESFJs sense danger all around --germs within, the elements without, unscrupulous malefactors, insidious character flaws. The world is a dangerous place, not to be trusted. {I pay more attention to character flaws than germs!} Not that the ESFJ is paranoid; hyper-vigilant would be more precise. And thus they serve excellently as protectors, outstanding in fields such as medical care and elementary education. {Pretty sure you couldn't pay me enough to be a nurse or a teacher, but I get the point!}
{From ESFJ Profile on TypeLogic

Here is another description, courtesy Deb Brown: Warm hearted, popular and conscientious. Tend to put the needs of others over their own needs. Feel strong sense of responsibility and duty. Value traditions and security. Interested in serving others. Need positive reinforcement to feel good about themselves. Well developed sense of space and function. 

She goes on to list other characteristics, struggles and leadership styles. I thought several of these summed me up pretty well.
Leadership: Traditional take-charge yet take-care style.
Potential difficult area: Telling others what they ought/should be doing.
Tips for communication with ESFJs: Respect their feelings! Look them in the eye and respond to what they say. Mention points of agreement first. Be clear and specific. Lay out the steps whenever possible.
Your turn! Have you ever taken a personality test? Do you know your four letters? What do these generalizations say about you?
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You can take the personality test here. And then read about your results. Deb Brown has another good resource for deciphering your personality. Want more? Subscribe to get "Insights" in your inbox. Or follow me on Twitter.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

{January 23, 2002}


Two years ago I wrote a five-part series about how January changed me. Big things have happened in Januarys past and I want to share them again this year as a reminder that God moves. He works when we don't realize how things will come together.

It was an ordinary Wednesday morning. I was sleeping later than I can imagine now as a mother of two because it was my day off. As an editorial assistant at The Associated Press who took sports scores, wrote some stories and answered the phone, I worked 4 p.m. to midnight with Wednesdays and Sundays off.

My landline phone rang, waking me up. It was Greg, who was a law school student 77 miles away. {Side note: I did have a cell phone, but I used my landline more often. Greg didn't even have a cell phone, just for the record.}

We had known each other four years and had dated the majority of that time, which began the second semester of my college freshman year. We chatted for a few minutes before he said something was supposed to be delivered to my apartment and I should check to see if it was there.

I did. And, lucky me had a box of flowers waiting for me.

Of course, I discovered these flowers after I decided that even though Greg sounded weird on the phone that whatever he was talking about would be worth getting out of bed for.

Tulips are better than any alarm clock. That's for sure. So I picked up the box and was nearly back inside my apartment when Greg walked around the corner. He called me on a cell phone that he borrowed from his roommate. And he skipped class to bring me flowers, which I had to put in a blender because I didn't have a vase.

My heart was beating fast. Like it knew more than my head knew. I hugged Greg for a long time. I didn't say much. Plus, it was the morning, and I don't talk too much in the morning. Plus, I was pleasantly surprised Greg was there because we generally saw each other on Sundays at that point.

Then he gave me a handwritten letter. It was amazing, really.

As I write this I am overwhelmed by all that you mean to me. You are my best friend, the one who knows me better than any other, my confidante, and normally the only person I talk to when things are especially bad or good. I love you more than I knew a person could love another ...

He went on to talk about how our relationship had developed and God was in it with us.

And then I realized what was going on ...

Kristin, I want to be with you more than anything else. ... More than anything else, I want to look back on the life I've lived and rejoice because I got to spend it with my favorite person in the world. ...

I hurried through the last half, not truly retaining what I was reading but thankful that I could re-read the beautiful words later, when my heart wasn't racing. I noticed Greg was watching me.

And then he knelt down. I didn't give him time to say anything and hugged him. Leave it to my impatience to rush the moment. "Wait, I have something to ask," he said.

He asked me to marry him when I finally gave him room to breathe.

I said yes.

Well, actually I paused and just looked at him, fell more in love with him, and then said yes.

We spent that Wednesday together. It wasn't Christmas, which we had just celebrated. It wasn't Valentine's Day, when we went on our first date. It wasn't even Feb. 7, when we met four years earlier. No. It was Wednesday, Jan. 23.

And we were married 192 days later.
_______

This is the third in a five-part series about how various events in January changed my life. Want more? Subscribe to get "Insights" in your inbox. Or follow me on Twitter.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

{God-sized Dreams} Buddies

I don't like the word buddy.

{Cringe}

Buddy makes me think about the time Greg didn't know the last names of some of his pick-up basketball playing friends. Greg's great uncle also has a dog named Buddy. Then there is an elf.

I call my son "buddy" sometimes. But then I cringe. Don't even get me started "bubby."

If someone asks, "Did your buddies come over Saturday?" I want to say, "No, my dearest friends who have sustained me and encouraged me and lived life with me came over." But, you know, my husband has taught me not all my responses have to be so dramatic.

In most cases, buddy seems to make relationships seem more superficial than that really are to me. I know people who choose this word don't feel the same. I know they aren't devaluing my relationships. They don't have that power and I'm certain that's not their intention anyway.

But then Holley Gerth asked me to partner with a God-sized Dream buddy from our Facebook group who I would encourage as another committed to be my cheerleader. She also reminded me of the importance of real-life dream buddies.

Honestly, I found myself giggling at her word choice. She has no idea that the word makes me laugh and cringe simultaneously. But her message was yet again one of truth and nudging accountability. {Side note: If you don't know her, dig into her blog or her books. She'll tell you things and make you think she's sitting across the table from you.}

Once I got done giggling and cringing, I truly appreciated Holley's encouragement and I jumped into the partnering thread in our Facebook group and started connecting with these new dreamer friends. Honestly, the possibility of these moments creating new friendships is one thing I adore about social media. Technology has changed our social culture and made our world smaller.

And now I have encouragement coming from Southaven, Mississippi, and Alabama's Gulf Coast. It's supposed to be I encourage one and one encourages to me. But I can already tell the encouragement is going to go both ways as I'm getting to know Tonya and Jessica. I'm excited to share dreams and stories. And we hope you join us.

While it's no official buddy system, I've also been blessed by another new dreamer friend who was willing to read my book draft. Her email was packed full of awesome ideas, several of which I plan to implement. Elizabeth Anne has encouraged me with her perspective, comments and critique. Plus, I'm pretty sure we'd be friends in real, everyday life anyway.

Then there is my everyday life, in which I'm blessed with dear friends who lives are intertwined with mine. I like it that way. In fact, I prefer it that way. I couldn't do life without them. They inspire me and sustain me and dream with me and plan with me and have conversations over lunch while our kids talk and sing louder than we'd ever choose with me. Jaclyn, Sarah, Jenn, and Courtney have copies of my rough draft in their hands. They're reading {or have read ...} part of my dream and our friendships found their ways into the pages. I don't want to call them buddies, but just this one I will. But only because what they are to me is what Holley was implying when she spoke of the importance of having a support system surrounding me.

On my application for Holley's Dream Team, I had to list a real-life dreamer buddy. I listed Holly. I introduced you to her dream earlier this month. I emailed telling her I wanted to label her as my "dream buddy." And her response pretty much summed up our friendship: I'll be your dream buddy for life.

So there it is. I'm surrounded my own personal dream team of buddies. Tomorrow I think I'll call them friends.


Who helps you chase your dreams and supports your moves to capture them?
________

Tuesdays are God-sized Dream days around here and I'm linking this post along with many, many other dreamers on Holley Gerth's blog. You'll find encouragement, truth and community there. Want more? Subscribe to get "Insights" in your inbox. Or follow me on Twitter.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Faster. Run. Hey Mama. Home. Count on Me. Mercy.


I told my daughter I like to listen to music while I run because it makes me run faster. Really, that's not true. Actually, the music drowns out my heavy breathing, so I mentally can ignore the fact I'm exhausted and panting as I feel my feet pounding into the pavement.

There have been three Saturdays in this new year, and my family has gone on morning runs all three of them. The park across the street from our house has a trail that is a three-tenths of a mile loop. This is how it's gone: Greg runs ahead. He's faster and he's choosing to run farther. I push Ben in the stroller. Cate runs and walks around the loop, offering high fives and asking questions as we each pass by her.

Plus I've been running a couple other times during the week. We've had weird winter weather around here, so a few mornings it was in the 60s. Other mornings it was in the 20s and I loaded the stroller and went to the track inside the basketball arena. Temperatures on the three Saturdays we've run outside were 38, 67 and 52. Welcome to Kentucky.

Greg decided to prepare for a 5K in at the beginning of March and another at the end of May. Of course, we're slightly competitive, so I told him I'd run too. I'm not sure what I was thinking. Honestly, I don't really like to run. I've gone through phases of running before {this past summer being the last time ..}, but never with an end goal in mind. I know 3.1 miles isn't very far for you runners in my life, but my shins and thighs feel like they may give out after the 1.5- and 2-mile runs I've done the past few weeks.

I'm going to keep trying. Greg is convinced if I continue pushing the stroller that when I find myself running without the stroller {I have no idea when that will actually be ...} then I'll be faster by default. I think I like pushing the stroller because it's a good excuse for not being very fast, which, honestly, I'm not, regardless of the 30-pound kid in tow. My goal is the run the 5K without stopping. And it would be nice if I didn't finish dead last.

Better crank up that music ...
"Hey Mama" by Mat Kearny
"Faster" by Matt Nathanson
"Brigher Than the Sun" by Colbie Caillat
"The Outsiders" by Needtobreathe
"Mercy" by Dave Matthews Band
"Some Nights" by Fun
"Slumber" by Needtobreathe
"Count on Me" by Mat Kearney
"Home" by Phillip Phillips
"The World's Greatest" by R. Kelly
"Closer to Love" by Mat Kearney
"Modern Love" by Matt Nathanson
"When We're Together" by Mark Harris
"Dynamite" by Taio Cruz
"Run" by Matt Nathanson

Do you have any tips for running for someone who really isn't a runner? What do you listen to so you'll get movin'?
________

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Sunday, January 20, 2013

{January 20, 1996}

Two years ago I wrote a five-part series about how January changed me. Big things have happened in Januarys past and I want to share them again this year as a reminder that God moves. He works when we don't realize how things will come together.


'Cause I've been broken now I've been saved

I've learned to cry and I've learned how to pray
And I'm learning I'm learning even I can be changed
{From "Growing Young" by Rich Mullins}

God orchestrates moments. He weaves together people and places to reach our hearts. I knew God was working 17 years ago, but I didn't realize what it would mean.

That Saturday night sitting in the Flaget Center sanctuary on the first night of the Chrysalis weekend was a turning point. I had been having conversations with friends about spiritual things. I had been wondering about this life and the next. And I was led to Romans 8:28. All of those things intersected in my heart and mind as I wrote down on a tiny sheet of paper things I wanted to give up. Then I nailed them to a cross. Literally.

That perfectionism and desire to please people should remain on the cross because died there for me. I have often tried to regain control over the details of my life, but ultimately my faith goes back to that night, when I gave up control for the first time and God promised me He'd lead me step by step through life. Thankfully, His grace covers all my continued imperfections.

I can still hear "Growing Young" playing in the background while I felt God bring peace to my heart while I sat with my back against the sanctuary wall. But, really, I was no longer against a wall.

Because God does work for the good for those who love him.

I've had to figuratively nail some of those same things back to the cross through the years. And I've had to give up other struggles. But the God who met me that night when I was a 16-year-old girl searching for her identity continues to lead me through life. And I am continually reminded He's always watching down the road for me.
_______

This is the second in a five-part series about how various events in January changed my life. Want more? Subscribe to get "Insights" in your inbox. Or follow me on Twitter.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Weekend Words

Break Free From Your Need to be Perfect :: I recently started reading Justin and Tricia Davis' blog. Their new book is on my to-read list, but until I do that I'm loving the encouragement, truth and freedom found in their online words. God is helping me transform my expectations and perceptions as I embrace imperfection.

The Difference Between Dreaming and Starting :: With all this God-sized dreaming going on, this was such a practical post for me from Jeff Goins. "This is life. The real deal. The main event. And there is no practice. Every day, you are participating, or not. You were made to create something — to build a family, write a song, found an organization. You weren’t born to simply follow orders. You were created to be creative — whether you’re an artist, plumber, or saleswoman. The legacy you leave hinges on your decision to start. To create something worth noticing."

Cultivating a Realistic Vision of Motherhood :: Life keeps us on our toes. We have to be ready and willing to adapt. Or like Sarah Mae said: "You've just got to come up with another meaning for ideal, and another meaning for beautiful."

Caring for the right thing at the right time :: Jason Gray wrote beautiful words here, but, more importantly, it's a beautiful message of grace, forgiveness, willingness to try again, and slowing down long enough to hear truth. If you don't listen to Jason Gray's music, I recommend that too.

Brave Moms Raise Brave Kids :: Jen Hatmaker makes me laugh and think. Once again, she's challenged me with those clever, honest words of hers. I think I'm a brave mom, but even so, raising a boy is the hardest thing I've ever experienced. And he's only 3.
________

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Friday, January 18, 2013

{Five Minute Friday} Cherished

For the first time I'm participating in Five Minute Friday, a link-up project at Lisa-Jo Baker's blog. This week the prompt was "Cherished ..." Here is what she says over there: We write because we love words and the relief it is to just write them without worrying if they’re just right or not. So we take five minutes on Friday and write like we used to finger paint. For joy in the process. No matter how messy the result.

Cherished makes me think about two things. Babies who grow into toddlers who grow into preschool who go to kindergarten. My mind doesn't go much past that because that's where I am with my oldest. "Cherished" also reminds me of moments.

Moments with my two kids. Moments that having these two kids have changed me. I'm never going to be the same person because of these two. Not just any two. These two. They were meant to be ours.

I want to cherish the way Ben goes from toddler ways to preschool ways in the blink of an eye. I want to cherish the way Cate wants me to help her get dressed in the morning then the later that evening wants to give herself a shower. She and I don't cherish the mornings like Daddy and Ben do. I want to cherish our meals around the table, where conversation is interrupted because Ben has to be reminded to sit down. Again. I want to cherish Cate capturing so many details in her stories. I want to cherish playing board games, which requires infinite amounts of patience for Ben but is a love language to Cate.

STOP. Man, that five minutes went by fast. 

Want to join us? Here are Lisa-Jo's rules: 1. Write for 5 minutes flat – no editing, no over thinking, no backtracking. 2. Link back here and invite others to join in. 3. Please visit the person who linked up before you & encourage them in their comments. That is like the one rule we all really care about. For reals.

________

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{January 18, 2007}

Two years ago I wrote a five-part series about how January changed me. Big things have happened in Januarys past and I want to share them again this year as a reminder that God moves. He works when we don't realize how things will come together.

We had talked on the phone, but watching Cate's birth mom walk into the doctor's office waiting room was surreal. She was carrying our daughter inside her and she was thankful her daughter was going to have a family. And from that moment on, God lined up detail after detail to create our family.

Not only did we meet Cate's birth mom that day, but we also saw our daughter via ultrasound. We named her Catherine Anna, officially, on the drive home from Bloomington, Indiana.

I later learned that Catherine is also the birth mom's middle name. See, God was showing his faithfulness in all the details. This was His plan. This was meant to be.

I tried to soak in the details of this woman who made a brave, selfless decision. I liked talking to her during our lunches that would following pre-natal doctor's appointments over the next 15 weeks.

She's 5-foot-10 with a very sweet face. She's big-boned and beautiful. Her dark hair is mostly straight but seems to want to flip just a bit as it grows back. She likes pink, just look at her tennis shoes.

Growing up in a Midwest family, she's the youngest of three. She loves sports and plays card. Even though Christmas is her favorite holiday, she chooses to be outside in warm weather. She likes pizza, chocolate and root beer.

She could raise the baby growing inside, and truly I have no doubt she's be a fine mother. But she's 19. She thinks about going to medical school, or at least pursuing a career in the medical field. An occupational therapist, perhaps. Somehow she'll end up helping people. Maybe that's why she battled and survived Hodgkins disease. She wears a yellow Livestrong bracelet.

I only hope our baby has part of her determined spirit and positive attitude. And then I can say it's in the genes.

_______

This is the first in a five-part series about how various events in January changed my life. Want more? Subscribe to get "Insights" in your inbox. Or follow me on Twitter.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Intentionally choosing imperfect

Life isn't perfect. Sometimes I need to venture outside that fenced pasture like the cow did. 

"In each of our stories, there is a moment when all of our priorities, all of our concerns, are shifted. Our identity begins to change with it. We sense a disparity between what is and what should be. There is a nagging feeling in our souls that something’s been wrong with the world for a while, and when this Moment happens, the feeling is no longer bearable. You no longer “fit” into the old world. You’ve seen too much, heard too many things, and you can’t go back to ordinary living."

{From "Wrecked for the Ordinary: A Manifesto for Misfits" by Jeff Goins}

There is a voice inside me that tells me I can't change my stubborn, perfectionist ways. It echoes as I go about my ordinary life. That's just who you are. Make the most of it. Well, yes, that's who I am.

But that's not all I have to be.

I serve a mighty God who believes in completing the work he began in us. Yes, I'm guessing I'll always find comfort in organizing my drawers, my dreams, and my family. But I don't always have to hold onto expectations that only set up disappointment. I can embrace grace and imperfections that are part of life and realize it's in these moments that God perfects me.

Perfects me as in the process by which I mature and grow and endure in my faith, only by God's grace, wisdom and love flowing through me.

Perfection for me is often wanting to control situations and reactions and details and interpretations and plans. It's about unreasonable expectations and thinking my way is the best way. This seeps into my marriage, my mothering, my friendships, my faith, my routine, and my housekeeping.

This is a message that God has been repeating through my heart. He's using my husband's quiet, steadfast love. Bloggers and authors keep writing words as if they're meant just for me. My kids remind me countless times daily, even though they don't intend to. "No More Perfect Moms" by Jill Savage arrived in my inbox when I needed it most. Prayers not meant for me speak to my heart. My friends and I share real life and I'm reminded how it's glorious even in the chaos that comes with our many small children. I hear songs that remind me to rest easy, rejoice in my new names, and trust in God's unfailing love.

I'm not willing to let perfectionism reign. Yes, it's part of me and letting go is painfully hard. I'm sure it will creep back in when I let my guard down. But I want to embrace imperfection, knowing full well the creator of the universe has the world -- including my family, my plans, and my relationships -- in his hands.

Ironically, I don't really have a specific plan for fighting perfectionism. But I do know doing so involves staying connected to the truth through God's word and continuing to live my life in community. I don't want to fit in the my self-made mold of a perfectionist. I need to venture outside the fenced pasture. I want to trust God to finish the work he's began when I became a new creation. The old is gone and needs to stay gone. The new needs to be evident. I want my decisions and reactions to be intentional.

And that voice inside me needs to hush so my ordinary can change and I can find way out of the pasture fence. Life is out there. And I'm ready, even if it means I may get some dirt on my feet.
________

This is yet another post in an ongoing series about how God's teaching me to embrace imperfection. Want more? Subscribe to get "Insights" in your inbox. Or follow me on Twitter.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

A {Sort of} Sick Day on a {Sort of} Snow Day

They're watching one of the countless "Land Before Time" sequels. 

Today my daughter's school {and several others in our county and neighboring counties} was canceled because of the freezing rain happening last night and assumed to happen this morning. The roads around my in-town house are fine. I'm guessing some back roads may not have been as clear.

I've also taken my daughter to the doctor today with some spots on her face that weren't healing. I know only from experience that they were likely impetigo, which is a symptom of strep throat. So, yes, for the second time in her little life, my daughter has strep throat with sores on her face being the only symptom. And, actually, this time her rapid strep test was negative but the nurse practitioner didn't believe it when she looked at Cate's throat. This is her fourth strep diagnosis {the three previous ones were all the fall/winter of 2010} and in only one of those four times did her throat actually hurt. So strange.

Even thought the roads aren't icy, it seems like a good day to spent at home and let some antibiotic battle a bacteria I barely knew was creeping in my daughter's body and life. We'll get enough doses in her that she can go to school tomorrow and not infect her friends.

I'm reminded this morning that we shouldn't interpret situations on our feelings and sometimes we have to trust our instincts. My daughter doesn't feel bad, but, still, something wasn't right in her and I trusted my instinct and took her to the pediatrician. Yes, I texted my nurse friend Courtney a picture of my daughter's face first thing this morning to get her opinion. Yes, I felt a little silly when I told the nurse I wanted to bring Cate in so someone could look at what I thought was impetigo on her face.

Likewise, the school principal had to trust her instincts while making a decision about today last night when surrounding school districts were calling off school because of the assumed bad weather that would make getting to school dangerous for some families. Cate goes to a small, private school, so these decisions are different than at large, multi-school districts. But the principal made a judgement based on the information she had and, I'm assuming, the instincts inside her.

And, truly, even though it doesn't all make sense looking out my front door, it's worked out for the best for us. Perhaps other families needed this day for some reason. There is no way to see everything happening around us, but we have to trust that all is indeed working together for the good.
________

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Tuesday, January 15, 2013

{God-sized dreams} One small thing at a time

"God gave us the ability to take action because he wants us to freely move forward rather than him forcing our steps. ... God can handle the big. When you start out, it's okay for your part to simply be the small."

I surprise myself sometimes with how satisfied I am with my ordinary life. I stay at home {well, you know what I mean ...} with two kids. My season of motherhood changed some when my daughter started kindergarten five months ago and my son started preschool at the same time, which was a year earlier than I had planned to send him. Even on the hard days when the questions are endless and I wish my 3-year-old boy noticed his dirty diapers and cared about the potty, I wouldn't trade this life.

Yes, that surprises me sometimes. This isn't what I planned for myself.

But it's here, in this surprise place of motherhood that I've gotten to know God in a way I hadn't experienced before, realized what I value most, built friendships that have sustained me, and learned big things happen in small moments.

And it's here I've met my God-sized dreams and mission: I believe God has created and called me to communicate stories from my own life and others' lives for families to know God as the author and creator of every detail through writing, promoting and serving. 

The asterisk that goes with my mission statement is I want to serve my family first. I want to be a wife and mother before I'm a writer, creator, and promoter.

Yet, still, while serving my family this week, I've still managed to hear God encourage my dreams and give me opportunities to take small steps when I wasn't changing diapers, packing lunches, making dinner, grocery shopping, going to a doctor's appointment, driving carpool, and running errands. It was in these ordinary moments that I was reminded dreams will get derailed if I don't act -- even in small ways -- now because the time will never be perfect. I can always come up with reasons to wait. But ignoring God's nudges is no way to spend my time.

On that note, I heard Mat Kearney's "Never Be Ready" on the radio this week. See, I'm telling you, God is in the details: We've got our fee on the wire, talking 'bout flying/Maybe we're diving in over our heads/Scared of what I'm feeling/Staring at the ceiling here tonight/Come on lay down these arms, all our best defenses/We're taking our chances here on the run/The fear is an anchor, time is a stranger/Love isn't borrowed, we aren't promised tomorrow/We'll never be ready if we keep waiting/For the perfect time to come/Won't be steady, we'll never be ready {From "Never Be Ready" by Mat Kearney}

Take a listen ..



The Dreams {Updated}
Last week I shared my dreams and what I was doing to work toward them. Just moments after publishing that list, I acted on a couple opportunities to tell a couple of my own stories as guest blog posts on two different websites. I haven't heard if my words were approved, but I still felt the reassurance that God has my storytelling under control, just like he does every other details of my life. 

{The Book}
In the past week, I've also texted with my best friend about the rough draft of my book and emailed my with stranger critique partner, who had fabulous ideas I plan to implement. My mom also gave the concept her stamp of approval. 

{KHT Promotions}
Even though I had already created a Facebook page for my on-the-side business, I shared it with friends last week and had several "likes" and even a couple messages of encouragement. I also began working on a project that involves marketing a vacation lake rental that isn't ours. If you're interested in knowing more about my freelance business or supporting this dream, you can "like" KHT Promotions on Facebook.

How is God moving in your dreams? What steps are you taking to follow him?
________

Tuesdays are God-sized Dream days around here and I'm linking this post along with many, many other dreamers on Holley Gerth's blog. You'll find encouragement, truth and community there. Want more? Subscribe to get "Insights" in your inbox. Or follow me on Twitter.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Giving God a chance to perfect the story

I was almost ready for church this morning when I heard my kids picking on each other. The arguments diffused as quickly as they started, and then I noticed a little chair pulled up close to the kitchen counter. The evidence that my 3-year-old boy had tried to reach markers he wasn't supposed to have irritated me.

Then as he walked toward me talking about wanting to color, I noticed him sticking the eraser end of a pencil in his ear. I was irritated some more, but I tried to hide it. I told him he wasn't using coloring utensils right, but he could find a book to take to church. He returned a few minutes later with a book. And then he stuck it in my mouth. I asked him in a too-frustrated tone to take the book out of his mouth. He didn't. So I yelled about how I wished he'd listen.

My husband tried to tell me to chill out. Of course, that annoyed me too. My mood and I angrily picked up some toys I thought my son should have already taken back to his room.

I knew in that emotional moment I should have showed more grace, spoken softer, loved more, moved more slowly, and remembered kids will be imperfect kids. My imperfections were shining through oh-so brightly, yet I was expecting perfection from my boy who still depends on me so much for guidance and assistance. 

All the while, it was time to leave for church, so I started to corral the kids in the mini van. {I say this like we have a large brood. Nope. Just two. Yet I sometimes still feel like I'm herding cats.} But as I was doing so, I realized it was much colder than I thought it was and backtracked to get my daughter's coat as my husband helped my boy with his. I opened the door and as I was doing so, I heard the door knock hardly into something. That something was my boy's head. The door knob hit him above his ear. Hard.

And I felt terrible.

I had been chewing him out in such a nagging way. Admittedly, I was still irritated with having to remind and repeat and corral and correct. Yet none of that had anything to do with my poor timing of opening the door and Ben's unfortunate location right in the path of the door knob. All of my woe-is-me-as-a-mom emotions were pushed away by my wanting to comfort Ben, who didn't cry as much as I thought he would normally and was barely talking, which is totally abnormal for my boy who sings and growls and talks nearly constantly.

Ben seemed shocked, sad and mad. He didn't want to talk to me. He wanted Daddy. On the way to church,  I finally got a response when I asked him to growl like a dinosaur. It was strange but sweet music to my ears.

My heart was heavy. I told my son I was sorry for yelling at him. He did give me a kiss as Daddy held him as we sang songs to open the church service. But God wasn't done. 

Our pastor mentioned Sanctity of Life Sunday, a time set aside to bring awareness to how many lives have been lost through abortion. Google tells me other congregations will bring attention to the issue next week. Regardless of the official date, January 2013 is the 40th anniversary of Roe v. Wade. Since that decision that legalized abortion, at least 55,808,387 babies weren't given a chance to live, according to information provided by our local pregnancy crisis center.

That's 55.8 million stories that remain untold.

God still wasn't done speaking to my heart. 

A friend of mine gave an update about her high-risk pregnancy and her baby girl who is not developing properly. There is the possibility her baby may not breathe many breaths outside the womb. Best case scenario still means a harder life with shorter-than-normal limbs. My heart has been heavy for my friend and her family.

A prayer time for my friend and her unborn baby followed. I thought about how I'm encouraged my friend's faith to trust God and believe God is indeed good all of the time, even when the world as we want it comes crashing down. I prayed the peace that passes all understanding would cover my friend. I wanted to take back yelling at and nagging my son.

I walked back to my seat, feeling grateful. I'm thankful the two birth moms who carried and birthed my kids chose life for them. I'm thankful I have a husband who loves me so much he wants me to trust God and give him control over every detail of my life, especially my words. I'm thankful for a faith community that prays and encourages and teaches one another.

And I'm thankful for the ways God perfects me and refines me and strengthens me through my imperfections. I really do want to trust him to do the same for my kids.
________

This is yet another post in an ongoing series about how God's teaching me to embrace imperfection. You can read my previous posts inspired by "No More Perfect Moms" hereWant more? Subscribe to get "Insights" in your inbox. Or follow me on Twitter.