To Santa or not to Santa....

This is a re-post from last year....just my thoughts on Santa.




From December 2010






Ugh. The season is upon us. The crazy, busy, relentless time of year when we have so many thing pulling us in many different directions and the most important, significant things--like, say the birth of Christ--is kept in the background.

I am all about keeping Christmas simple, however, the world around us makes it very difficult. And, unless you want to make your kids feel like they have been raised under a rock, I feel, we, to a certain degree, must choose to participate in the whirlwind ride that we now know as Christmas. I am mainly talking about the expectations like, gifts for people, going to open houses, Christmas parties galore and eating lots of food that is just not that good for us.

You know, I would really love to write some meaningful, significant prose about the true meaning of Christmas. The reason will celebrate. I would hope that by writing about it, it would turn our hearts back to Christ and the simplicity of the season. But the thing is there are lots of books out there that tell you to do that. You can read scripture and be reminded of the humble beginnings of our Lord and Savior. The reason for the season.

But for me, I realize that unless I have a heart change about the season, it's really not going to make anything different. It's not going to make the Christmas carol we sing in church become any more alive. Where is the awe and the wonder? The magic and hope?

In that same respect, taking all commercial aspects of Christmas out of my house will not make me worship the Savior any more than keeping them in will. It still has to do with the heart.

This leads me to something I have wanted to write about for a while. Hopefully, no one will take offense. I am not saying one view point is right and one is wrong (because it is a personal decision). I can't quote scripture or tell you how you should celebrate Christmas in your home. There are arguments on both sides of the issue.

However, that being said, I really don't understand why Santa gets such a bad rap? Taking Santa, or any other commercial aspect of this season, out of the picture is not really going to change my heart. I can be just as in love with Jesus and tell my boys about Santa and go take them to get their picture made with him every year (which I do). I don't worry that by telling them about Santa they are just going to remember me lying to them....and if I lie to them about this fable, then, what's keeping me from lying about something else? Like God's love.

Please. Let me tell you, I grew up in one of the most legalistic church environments ever. I mean, I had no idea that God's grace was sufficient, but I did know that if I sinned he was keeping track of those and holding them against me (which is not true, but it was my perception). And lots of things counted as sin, or "worldly", such as wearing pants, listening to secular music....even listening to certain CHRISTIAN music was taught against. So, I know a thing or two about legalism.

I don't remember what our church taught about Santa growing up? If there was an opinion given, I have no idea now what it was. I did have friends whose parents rejected any commercial aspect of Christmas and refused to celebrate it, including having a tree and if you had to get them a gift, please get them underwear. Heaven forbid you actually have fun thinking about your family and get something meaningful. That was just too "worldly". We were fundamentalists, we had standards to uphold. LOL!

In my house, we believed in Santa. I can remember our first Christmas in Tennessee, maybe the second. Family was visiting from Florida and my cousin and I were looking out the window on Christmas Eve looking for Santa and his reindeer. I remember the presents from Santa and baking the cookies and seeing if the cookies were gone Christmas morning. I remember the excitement. The wonder. The memories.

However, Santa always had his place and he was never the center of attention, Jesus was. We talked more about Jesus birth and the reason for the season than we ever did about Santa. Santa was part of the celebration, but he wasn't the main event. Jesus was. And that's all I want to be able to do for my children. I don't feel like I need to take Santa out of the picture to draw them closer to Jesus.

I have an almost five year old that is full of questions. Believe me, he wants to know why we celebrate Christmas. And we tell him. We tell him the true meaning. We share with him the Christmas story. We bake a cake for Jesus the week of Christmas. He knows the songs about Jesus in a manger and why Jesus came, which was because of His great love for US. So, I get excited when Carter talks about Jesus. Jesus is the primary focus of the season in our house. But until Carter asks Jesus into his heart, he is not going to get the true meaning of Christmas, of Christ's birth. And more importantly, why He came as He did, to be the ultimate sacrifice for our sins and to do what no other self-proclaimed savior has done....rise from the dead.

But I have to say that as we were decorating the Christmas tree the other day and night had fallen and Carter looked out the window and said, " I wonder if we can see Santa up in the sky" my heart melted. The excitement. The wonder. The belief in Santa. I loved it. It didn't break my heart because we had already been talking about Jesus. Those seeds have been planted and my prayer is that when the time is right, Carter will come to know Christ, preferably at a young age.

I don't remember when I stopped believing in Santa. It obviously wasn't that traumatic. I have never felt lied to or deceived by my parents for telling me about this fairy tale. It was fun. It had it's place. And it is magical.

I never, ever tell Carter that he better be good because Santa is watching. I don't ever use getting Christmas presents as a way to control my son's behavior. In fact, I cringe when parents do that. That is one aspect I don't agree with. Good behavior should be expected regardless of the season and it should be learned, not used as a bribe. I want my kid to learn self-control from the heart, not because Santa won't bring him any presents if he misbehaves.

The thing is, I respect my friends or people I know who choose not to make Santa part of their kids lives. I mean, who am I to tell you that you are overreacting? There is no right or wrong answer here. I guess the most important thing to remember in all of it is the HEART. Because no matter how holy you think you are making Christmas, if you just take away things and don't focus on the heart, then all you are doing is making a statement for the purpose of being different. And being different doesn't make you holy. Having a relationship with Jesus Christ makes you holy.

So, that's my feeling about Santa. I think he has his place. He is not the centerpiece. Having Santa in the celebration of Christmas doesn't make me any closer to the Lord, just as leaving him out doesn't bring me any closer to the Lord. The heart is the matter.

Returned from Haiti

Hi everyone,

I cannot believe the whole month of December has passed and I have not posted here. I have had a lot on my mind and I am going to be sharing it in the next few weeks....on a more regular basis.

Today, I wanted to talk about Haiti and share my blog post that I posted for my church. I will also share our other team members blogs from that week. In case you have forgotten, I went to Haiti on a mission trip with my church December 10-16th. We served in an orphanage that is supported by our church.

I hope it will give you an insight into Haiti. It is a beautiful country with beautiful people that are in great, dire need. Especially the children, who are the innocent ones to suffer from man's corrupt nature.

Here is a look into our week.

December Team Update
Here is the first update from our December Haiti team. They are sharing the Good News with our kids this week! Please pray for them as they teach the children about the birth of our Savior! Susan Mayo wrote the post below, this is her first mission trip to Haiti.


My first day in Jeremie, Haiti By: Susan Mayo

I have been asked to write about my first day in Haiti. I was quite apprehensive about coming. I am married and have two small children. My husband, Greg, came on a construction team three months after the earthquake, so I had seen his pictures and heard his stories. Still, being a mom and leaving small children to travel internationally to a third world country, I had to really consider the risks and benefits. That’s how I looked at it anyway. I have lives dependent on me and I love them very much. But God made it clear that this was the trip for me. Despite all the apprehension I decided to go, trusting the Lord and His leading.

Even though I have never been to a third world country, I have seen poverty. I have seen hungry children living in squalor, it just happened to be in the United States. I am a counselor and one of my first jobs out of grad school had me going into homes providing intensive therapy to families. Most of these families were poor. Obviously, the poor in Haiti are much poorer, much more in need. But, with each job that I took I found myself in homes that were in very shady and dangerous parts of town, and communities where there was great need. I always worked with children, who were reaping the consequences of difficult life based on lack of resources, education and poor choices.

I am saying all this because I felt I had been exposed to poverty and had a pretty good idea what that looked like and I think that prepared me for this trip somewhat better than others who have never been exposed to poverty. And with that exposure comes a bit of a hardened heart. Call it protection, call it callousness, but there is an outer coating to the heart that comes year after year of working with those in need. Otherwise, your heart breaks over and over again, and you have a job to do and sometimes the feelings can be overwhelming so you look at it very business like, learning how not to feel the pain of others. I mean the Bible tells us the poor will always be with us, right? So do what you can and what you have been called to do, but don’t get too close.

But even with all that protection built up, nothing can prepare you for children whose bellies are protruding from hunger. I had worked with hungry children in America, but they had a school system that fed them at least two meals a day. And even though I have worked with homeless children, we have an organized government that at least attempts to provide for those with less resources and access to education. There are also programs, ministries, soup kitchens, nonprofits, etc. There is still a need, but at least we have an organized way of providing for those in need.

In Haiti, there is no safety net. There is no government that attempts to look out for it’s own. From what I understand it is corrupt. So, people are so poor that poor doesn’t even describe what they are. Abject poverty doesn’t really seem to cover it either. They are people. Human lives. And they are hungry. They are dirty and live in conditions that I find repulsive. No running water. No electricity. I saw sewage running in the street along with all the trash because they don’t have any ways to dispose of their waste. Hungry, malnourished children were visible at every corner. This was both in Port Au Prince and the city of Jeremie, which is where Long Hollow’s orphanage is located.

Then we went to the orphanage. That is a very overwhelming experience. The children rushed the bus. Eager to love and be loved on. I have never experienced anything like that. And as I walked through the orphanage, I was amazed that this is considered the “good life” for them. They have a place to stay, food to eat, people to care for them and more importantly, they learn about Jesus. But, it’s not the Ritz. I think someone referred to it as the “Haitian Ritz” last night. I mean, it isn’t much, but it is one hundred times better than if they were living on the street.

The children are dirty and they smell. But I didn’t care. I was covered in dirt from head to toe when I left that orphanage and that was nothing compared to what filth these children had lived in before coming to the orphanage. Here they could bathe and have different clothes to change into. They have food every day. They are in school, learning. And they learn about Jesus every day. Even though they don’t have an earthly father they now have the opportunity to personally know an eternal Father who will never leave them or forsake them, no matter what lot in life they have been given.

To us it might not seem like much, but to them it’s everything. I am still soaking everything in. Processing it. I am open, ready for God to move in my heart; the same heart that I have been attempting to protect for so long. He brought me here for a reason, I know this, and I don’t want to mess this up. So, I continue to watch, listen and wait. But I have a feeling I’m not going to have to look very far for my object lesson.

Getting Along

We had a wonderful Thanksgiving last week with my mom in Missouri. The boys did great in the car, especially coming back. It's amazing to me to see as Griffin gets older how much the dynamic between he and Carter is changing....sometimes not for the better. Often, though, it is for the good. I really love seeing them love each other and on each other and miss each other when the other one isn't around. But, sometimes, they can't stand each other! Already! At age almost 6 and 2 1/2 I can see the anger and the rage!

Sibling Rivalry. Ugh. Carter has always been a little jealous of Griffin. Can't say that I blame him. Carter was the main dude for a whole three years before Griffin popped up. Then, this other kid starting getting the attention. Now that Griffin is bigger, and still awfully cute and doing awfully cute things, I can see Carter become jealous over the attention he receives. We have tried really hard to pay equal attention and have special time with Carter, but, you know, it's impossible to do everything perfectly.

It's humorous to see sometimes how much Carter will act out to get my attention. Especially if Griffin has done something new or uses new words. I mean, it's a special time. We thought it was just as special when Carter did it, it's just he doesn't remember.

But Carter still talks in baby talk sometimes or wants to crawl around like a little baby. We ignore it for the most part because that would be feeding him negative attention. I really try to point out when he is doing good things. We talk about all the things he can do that Griffin can't do.

But, that is beginning to change because Griffin is getting close to doing everything Carter can do and we can't use that anymore. Even potty training. In the next few months, Griffin (hopefully, dear Lord!) will have mastered that. Griffin will always be younger than Carter but he may not necessarily be smaller.

So, we are now faced with the conundrum of teaching our boys how to get along. I want them to learn to get along even if they disagree. But, that is a big task. Kind of like eating an elephant...you just do it one bite at a time. Several "experts" have differing opinions on how to help siblings get along, some are more promising than others.

I am encouraged to know that Greg and I don't have to be perfect. We aren't perfect and we will make mistakes. I am very encouraged to hear that people who grew up greatly disliking their siblings are now best friends with them. Others still carry hurts from painful experiences growing up with an older sibling. But, more often than not, I hear positives. I am encouraged by that.

When I get overwhelmed with the latest issue that is popping up in parenting my boys I usually deal with it one or two ways. I sit and worry and get overwhelmed more, and get anxious, then end up taking it out on the people I love. Then, I come to my senses (and the end of myself) and pray. You would think after doing this a few times that I would automatically go to prayer about it but I must be hard headed because I almost always fret and worry and try and figure it out on my own until I end up surrendering.

All the experts and books in the world cannot make me be a perfect parent. Hindsight is always 20/20. I am thankful that GOD has given me everything I need to be the best parent I can be, according to His word. If it seems like I say that a lot, well, it's because I need to be reminded of it....a lot. And when I talk to moms and hear their stories, it resonates within me that they need to hear it too.

Whatever you are dealing with, whether it be teaching kids how to get along, dealing with developmental issues with your kids, school problems, teen pregnancy. Whatever. I can tell you this. You can't fix it.

There is no amount of worrying over something, fretting, losing sleep that will help you deal with that issue any better. Like the song that Laura Story has out, called, "Blessings", sometimes those hurts and tears and sleepless nights are how God gets our attention and lets us know that He hears us. It just leads us (me) closer to the end of myself where I can say, honestly, I give up.

So instead of worrying about whether Carter and Griffin are going to get along when they are older or if we are going to be able to instill in them the ability to solve problems without hitting someone first, lol, I think I will just give it up in prayer.

What about you?

Don't forget about Thanksgiving

It seems like this happens earlier and earlier each year. Thanksgiving is almost forgotten. I mean, we all still celebrate it, or "eat" for it, but it seems we rush to Christmas before it even feels Christmas-y in the air! I mean, I know people who have put up their Christmas decorations already

We are old fashioned around here when it comes to Christmas (or, as my friend, Roxanne, used to tell me, I was a "bah-humbug"! LOL. We don't put up Christmas decorations until well into December. I usually don't have a lot of my shopping done until December, except this year, I do have to say I am ahead of the game!! But, we are also attempting to keep Christmas simple, and that always helps in the gift departments.

Anyway, even I am jumping ahead to Christmas when I want to give Thanksgiving a boost! I guess it just naturally happens sometimes.

This year we are traveling to Springfield, MO on Thanksgiving, to see my mom and her husband, Charles. The last time we made it there Carter was six months old. It's been a while. My husband and I always joke that there is no easy way to drive to Springfield, but it has gotten better over the past few years. We actually get interstate and 4-lane highways as opposed to the lovely 2-lane roads. It's about a seven hour trip....without children.

Did you notice that? With children, well, who knows. It really depends on the mood of the children the day of travel. Or whether or not you have itty bitty babies who have to eat (and poop) often.

We are in a fortunate phase right now, the boys will watch movies in the back of the car, a special treat for long road trips, only!! I hope to have my new iPhone 4S by then (special birthday gift from my hubby today. Had to order it so I probably will get it Monday). Anyway, a smart phone with ear buds make a long trip more bearable for any mommy. And my poor husband, the driver, will be making the ultimate sacrifice. No ear buds, listening to Calliou or Cars 2, depending on which child gets to pick the movie at the moment.

I guess I could be nice and talk to my husband on the road trip, but my goodness, we are not big talkers. You give us a good hour and we would have everything covered. What are we supposed to talk about for the next six hours? He's an architect and I really don't want to hear about the latest way to resurface kitchen cabinets. And I am sure he doesn't want to hear about the latest therapy technique that I am learning about. He still gets narcolepsy and narcissism mixed up, which, there is a really funny story that goes along with that, but, again, I digress.

We will get through our long road trip, and back, and have made some special memories with Nana and Grandpa Charles. We will survive. We will have fun. Yes. This is the thing to do, think positively.

I hope you guys have a wonderful, blessed Thanksgiving. And an even better Black Friday, if you participate in the madness.

But don't forget about Thanksgiving. The real reason it is a National holiday. It's more than turkey and Indians and great shopping deals. It's a time to reflect on the many, many blessings YOU (and I) have. We are tremendously blessed. Most of us have food, a roof over our heads, income coming in, family support. If you live in America, even below the poverty line, you are more blessed than three-fourths of the world population.

Think about it. Times might be hard, but they could be a LOT worse. Take a minute and thank God for allowing you to be born and raised in America.

God Bless America

The only thing that's good in me is Jesus

I was just reading this blog online and wanted to share it with you guys! I can tell you I have so been there with this, and haven't we all?

http://blogs.babycenter.com/mom_stories/10242011losing-my-patience-when-i-need-it-most/

None of us want to carry on the negative traits we learned from our parents, however, if that is all you saw and knew, it will take re-learning and lots of prayer to change. But it can happen.

Obviously, this is written from a secular position, but I know the ONLY thing that keeps me from turning "into my mother" is Jesus.

I know that I can be the best mother that He would have me to be when I depend on him. If situations would bring to me knees in prayer instead of reactions, I could yield victory! But, I'm human and I'm going to make mistakes.

That's also where Jesus comes in. Grace. Mercy. And another chance. I may not be the perfect mom and I may have some not-so-shining moments....but I know that I am growing and learning and praying and keeping on. The Lord knew that these kids would be perfect for me. He designed me to have these children. Who am I to say that I will screw them up? There are no screw ups in Jesus' family. None.

So take heart on those bad days. Days when you raise your voice, punish too harshly rather than discipline (teach) and lose your patience. It's gonna happen. And the Lord will cover it all. He knows your heart. He knows what will keep you on your knees!

Every perfect gift comes from Him! And He thought you were special enough to receive this gift, He is going to walk with you through every step of the journey.

Help me get to Haiti!

I have stepped out in faith after feeling called to go on a mission trip this December to Haiti. I need your help to get there. The total cost of the trip is $2,000.00. If you feel led, and want to help me get there, you can send me a check to my home address made out to Long Hollow Baptist Church, with my name, plus "Haiti" in the memo line. This makes your check a tax deductible donation. Even if you cannot donate monetarily, I appreciate many prayers as I prepare for this trip and as I go and for the entire team.

Please send your tax deductible donation to my home address:

Susan Mayo
1015 Stirlingshire Drive
Hendersonville, TN 37075

THANK YOU just doesn't seem appropriate enough to say what I am feeling; but it is overflowing in my heart!

I'm Diving In!!!!




That's what I keep telling myself! I have recently committed to taking a mission trip to Haiti in December with my church. I felt the Lord leading me to go on a mission trip, not necessarily Haiti, but I knew I was being led in the direction of going on a mission trip.

After looking at our church sponsored trips, it didn't take long for me to gravitate toward Haiti.



Our church takes a trip just about every other month there. We (our church) has built an orphanage there. My husband went to Haiti shortly after the earthquake in 2010. At our church there are pictures of the orphans that are under our care. Their happy, smiling faces posted on our wall, reminding us how blessed we are and what a blessing these children are to us and especially to God. He loves them, as He loves us. We just happened to have been born in a country that is extremely blessed, as opposed to Haiti, which is poor, desolate, steeped in Voodoo religion.He has not forgotten them. But, he has commanded His church to take care of them. And for too long, the church body, as a whole, was not doing it's job.




The king (God)will answer them, 'I tell you with certainty, since you did it
for one of the least important of these brothers of mine, you did it for me.
Matthew 25:40 ISV



If we were to look at the entire parable spoken above (Matthew 25:31-46) we would see that Jesus was talking about ministering to those who are in need: hungry, thirsty, needing a home, the sick, and visiting and ministering to those who have not.



The funny thing is, I still struggled with making a decision to GO. To commit to going, because I knew once I committed it was done. I don't turn back from something once I have committed to it. So, I had to think it through. Was this God's will....the timing, this trip, etc. I mean, if I wasn't supposed to be there for this particular time, I sure wouldn't want to make people live with me for a week if I were miserable in a third world country. I mean, I already know I'm not going to have a good cup of coffee for a week...it could just go downhill from there! LOL.



All kidding aside, I really don't know what the struggle was, but it was a struggle I needed to go through. The Lord showed me very clearly this was where he was leading me. That I know. However, the feelings of fear and of the unknown are rampant in my mind and I think of that as a good thing. It means I am getting out of my comfort zone. If this trip was comfortable, there would be no reason to GO!



So, I go. Taking a leap of faith. I feel like I am so superficial, so dependant on common comforts, prideful, I could just go on and on. However, this trip really isn't about me. That's the whole point maybe God is making. It's not about me or a good cup of coffee. It's about going to the least of these.



Everyone says I will never be the same after I take this trip. I'm kind of looking forward to that. Cause some days, I just don't like the me I see.



Please pray for me and the team going to Haiti December 10-16th, 2001. I will be adding more information later on how you can donate online to help me get to Haiti. In the meantime, you may donate through snail mail. Make a donation with a check made out to Long Hollow Baptist Church. PLEASE make sure you put MY name in the memo so the funds get allocated to me.



My home address is:



Susan Mayo
1015 Stirlingshire Drive
Hendersonville, TN 37075


Thank you in advance for helping me get there!



It's FRIDAY and....

The first day of fall. It is actually cool outside. I am exhausted because it is the end of a very busy week. Waiting to wake up because I know another cup of coffee really won't help. LOL. But it sure is tempting.



I attempted to snuggle with Griffin in our bed this morning, but he's 2 1/2....
I guess you can figure out how that went. LOL.

What are your plans this weekend?It's another busy one for us. Looks like it will be Sunday before we get some downtime....I love vegging out, taking a nap, turning everything electronic off for a while, or just letting the TV do our thinking for us some nights.


It is essential to living in this world to have downtime. Especially now when everything is "viral" and at our disposal 24/7.

I'm addicted to my smartphone. I admit it. The other day I was looking at facebook in the car while waiting at a red light....I got to thinking....I wonder what I did to occupy my time (the whole THREE minutes) while waiting for the light to turn green....I mean, I spent twenty plus years driving with nothing but the radio or a CD, or a friend or loved one, to occupy my time at a three minute stop light.

I wonder if we would have to have so much downtime if we weren't so "globally" and "electronically" wired these days. I mean, really, did the pioneers have to crawl into their beds once the kids went to sleep and veg out on Friday nights to recoup from the busy week. Yeah, I didn't think so.

I think is is all about moderation. It is a saying a strictly believe in. In fact, moderation is hinted at in the Bible...


"Everything is permissible"--but not everything is beneficial. "Everything
is permissible"--but not everything is constructive. 1 Corinthians
10-23





Another verse that I like to go along that is found in Ecclesiates 3, vs. 1


1 There is a time for everything,
and a season for every activity under the heavens...

Now, does that mean I have free reign to do whatever I want? Of course not. I believe we live in a digital age for a reason and a purpose. You can use these things for good or evil. I hope I'm choosing for good.

Of course, checking facebook a gazillion times a day is not always beneficial. I am talking to myself, here, no one else.

I know some people who completely turn off electronic devices for 24 hours at a time. I know people who "fast" from certain things they consider are distracting them from their real purpose. I have fasted from facebook for Lent. It was hard. But, it was easier than detoxing from coffee for two weeks, let me tell you that!

Then I know people who completely shy away from facebook and twitter. They find reasons like marriages failing, affairs occurring, friendships broken up (you just think you deleted that email from facebook but they got the notification in their personal email inbox...oops).

I don't know what they answer is. I just know that sometimes a break is good. Facebook and Twitter are definintely being used for good (and can be used for evil). I prefer to stay on the good side.

If you are interested in learning more about advancing the Kingdom using modern technology, I highly recommend reading "Sticky Jesus", written by Tami Heim and Toni Birdsong.





To learn more about being "sticky" using social media, check out THEIR website!


Using all this stuff in moderation, being intentional and "sticky" and taking a healthy break. Yep. I think I will try this out and put it into practice. How 'bout you?


Free Online Blogging Workshop!

◦Do you want to attend a FREE blogging workshop online? You can! Just visit this page and follow the instructions: DIY Ministry!!!!

"One More" Awana Conference

I had a great time Saturday in Cordova, TN at the West Tennessee Region's Awana conference. Greg was able to go with me and we left on Friday night and had a beautiful gift basket waiting for us at our hotel as we checked in from TJ and Kathy Sipes, the Awana missionaries for that region.



We started bright and early Saturday at Mid-America Baptist Theological Seminary, which is right across the street from the famed Bellevue Baptist Church. Everyone was super friendly and accommodating and we had some great discussion in our sessions!


If you have an Awana program in your church did you know that you can get the Family Time Training live presentation to the parents in your church at NO COST! NCBP and Awana have a special relationship and because of that relationship NCBP is able to have this amazing offer.


It was a whirlwind weekend, but I was honored to have had the opportunity to speak at this conference!

Crazy, busy, hectic, AACCKKK kind of week ahead!!!

I am asking for thoughts and prayers this week!

I have two busy days at work on Tuesday and Thursday, very full, which I am thankful for, but then Friday I leave for Memphis to speak at an Awana Conference on Saturday. I am so excited to be speaking and feel privileged to have the opportunity. But this week it will be a battle of balance and sanity for this mom.

There is a lot to do, a lot to prepare for. Depending on whether or not Greg comes with me (we are still figuring that out) I may have to pack up the boys too. I wish I was one of those kind of people who didn't get frazzled. You know who they are. Nothing ever frustrates them. They take everything with a grain of salt. Life could be turning upside down and they are always, like, "whatever". Me, I get frazzled. I hate it.

So, the best thing I know to do is call out to friends and family and ask for thoughts and prayers that everything gets done, that I can prepare to speak and all the other things in life will somewhat cooperate, and if they don't that God will calm this frazzled mom in the midst of the chaos!

Thank you!!!!!

Billy Graham in Quotes- book review

This is my first booksneeze.com book review and the book I chose was Billy Graham in Quotes, written by Billy Graham's son, Franklin Graham with Donna Lee Toney.

My first impression of this book after looking it over was, wow, it really is just quotes. After the introduction everything you read is categorized by subject and it is from a direct quote from Billy Graham either through speaking or written from his books.

I really enjoyed reading the quotes, which kind of surprised me, I mean, it's a book of quotes. You would think it would get boring after a while, but each subject listed was timely and relevant. I also liked the book of quotes because I like to write and I use inspirational quotes in writing quite often. And this book is full of inspirational quotes and truths from Billy Graham, and he uses scripture to back up what he is talking about.

The only thing I would have changed about the book would be to have some small paragraph or two at the beginning of each subject chapter just to break up the monotony of reading quotes. This book does make me want to read other books by Billy Graham. This book leaves you with wanting more. And maybe that was the point!

New and exciting things!

Wow! The past few weeks have been crazy hectic.

my firstborn started Kindergarten. Our first parent/teacher conference is tonight. EEK! She said no worries, but I am secretly worried....about nothing in particular. He has done great, I guess I just am fearing the unknown.

My husband and I just got back from a wonderful weekend in Myrtle Beach. First time there. We went with 2 couples who are our closest friends and we left all the kids (8 between us) with relatives. Woo hoo. The weather was gorgeous. The ocean was fabulous. The time alone with my husband was priceless. We couldn't have asked for more.

Tomorrow, the regular fall activities begin at our church. I am teaching a Wednesday night discipleship class on parenting. It's a 12 week study entitled Parenting is Heart Work. If that name sounds familiar, it is. This is a more in-depth study of the parenting seminar that I do through NCBP. I am really excited as I have never done this study in-depth. I am really looking forward to it.

Tomorrow morning starts our church's mom group, called iMom. It stands for Intentional Mom. If you live in the middle Tennessee area follow this LINK to learn more about iMom.

Whew.

Last week I was so exhausted. I mean, my brain was tired. We were preparing to leave on this trip. I took too much on, as usual. I say this because I have a fabulous husband who will help out. He just needs to know I need help and there in lies the rub. Do I ask for help? No.

We didn't take our children, BUT, I had to pack for them because they were staying with relatives. My to-do list was two pages long. I had laundry to do, bags to pack, itineraries to print (which didn't get printed, BTW...)....I could go on and on, but if you are a mom, and you are reading this, I don't need to go on because you know exactly what I am talking about. It takes a lot of work to take a family on vacation, or for even just a weekend getaway. And the smaller your kids, the harder and more "stuff" you have to pack.

Then there are the notes to write. You know, the notes about your children that you are leaving for their caregiver for the weekend. For us, it was grandparents. Now, they have already raised at least one child and he or she survived because it is either YOU or your SPOUSE. Surely, we should give grandparents a little more credit than we give them. If they don't know they exact way little junior likes his sandwich cut up I am POSITIVE that junior will survive the weekend.

But, no. On I went and wrote my notes.

So, it's less than 48 hours before leaving for the beach. My notes are very far from being written down. I have barely begun packing. Still had lots to do. And I was very, very tired. Last Wednesday night I headed off to church. I was so exhausted that I stood at our church's coffee cafe and honestly could not make up my mind between whether I wanted regular coffee or decaf. No one was behind me, so I wasn't being rude or anything, but I told the one gal working there that I couldn't make up my mind. They let me think a minute then another gal came up, thinking I need assistance, and asked me what I wanted. I told her the same thing. I honestly could not make a decision. And I just stood there. My brain was not processing that I needed to make a decision.

I was very close to just giving up and walking away. I was so embarrassed and I shared with the two ladies, "have you ever been so tired that you can't make another decision". Now, I was talking to two women. Women who I was sure most likely had families. Children to care for, schedules to keep up with, etc. etc. They looked at me and nodded in agreement.

Then the lady who had asked me the second time what I wanted said, "what about half and half?" (meaning half caf/half decaf for all you non coffee drinkers out there...)

It was like I heard the hallelujah chorus going off in my head. I mean, it was perfect.

"YES", I said. "That is perfect!!!!"

Hahahahahaha......and it was. It solved my dilemma. It wasn't too much caffeine. It was a solution. And the best part, I didn't have to make the decision.

Life didn't get any easier or less exhausting following that. But it just made me laugh. And a good laugh is what I needed at that moment. And a half-caf, obviously.

Next trip, I am utilizing my husband more and putting EVERYTHING down on that to do list. Because if it's not on the list it gets forgotten. Like our itineraries. And the name of the company that I had a reservation with for the rental car (kind of important information, you know, when you need to pick up your car) and other small little things that got left behind or not done.

Life it too short not to ask for help. To prioritize what is important. And, to let go and forgive yourself when you mess up.

As we say, it all works/worked out in the end.

And it does.

The next time you are too tired to make a decision, then don't. Your body is telling you that you are done. Go get your husband. Call the grandparents. Go ask for some help even if it means calling a friend who is just as busy as you and asking them for H-E-L-P.

Do it. Ask for help. You just might get exactly what you need when you do!

Um...Uh....and other awkward moments!




So I have a five and half year old boy who has been asking questions about sex for a while. Now, when I say sex, I mean age appropriate questions for his age, like, "how was I born" "how did I get into mommy's tummy". Those kinds of questions.

However, very recently, it has come to my attention that Carter is very aware of the difference between boys and girls. Which is also very age appropriate, but still, I'm not sure I was really ready for all this. Last night, Greg came downstairs after putting Carter to bed telling me that Carter specifically asked where babies come from. Again. Which means we found a way to put it off the first time....looks like we need to come up with an age appropriate answer.





So.







Here we are.





I started researching some books and the first place I looked was National Center for Biblical Parenting; the organization I represent anytime I do a parenting seminar. I knew they had good, christian books on the subject of sex for preschoolers all the way up to teens.




I have to admit, while NCBP is very prompt, I was in a super hurry to get these, so I ended up going through amazon.com, just so we could get the boy's questions answered as quickly as possible. LOL.




These are the two books that I ordered.






You are not going to get any inappropriate surprises in these books (like some secular ones I have seen which have things in them I didn't care for....)

Keep in mind if you are interested in these books it is MUCH, MUCH cheaper to order them through NCBP than buying them individually. And let's face it, kids go through developmental stages and this is just the beginning. You may as well bite the bullet and get the entire series, which, I might add, has an entire book on talking CONFIDENTLY to your kids about sex.


Click HERE to purchase the entire series from NCBP.







I really, strongly believe in talking to kids about sex from an early age. When they start asking questions, they deserve an answer, and they deserve an answer on their level. And they deserve an answer that gives age appropriate information and not too much of it, or too little. You will know you have answered their questions when they stop asking. And the thing is, they are never going to stop asking! Ha! And you won't get the luxury of just answering a question once. Oh, no. You get to repeat it, over and over and over. Because that's how kids learn, by repetition. Excited??? Ha! Me either.



It's awkward. But the earlier you start the better. If you start out by giving your kid the answers they need when they are four then they are going to keep coming to you when they are fourteen as well. And that is what you want. Not that they aren't going to hear, see, and learn things from other people, but if they have been talking comfortably with you on this subject for years then it will most likely continue that way.




Wish us luck!!!!!

Sending kids off to school....

Making the decision to have a child is momentous. It is to decide forever to have your heart go walking around outside your body. ~Elizabeth Stone






The heart of a mother is a deep abyss at the bottom of which you will always find forgiveness. ~Honoré de Balzac





Women who miscalculate are called mothers. ~Abigail Van Buren :-)






I cannot believe that my oldest boy is going off to Kindergarten. I keep looking at him in amazement because I remember him being this tiny little baby, and I have wat(ched him grow up to be this amazing little boy who is smart, funny and baffling to me, all at the same time! Baffled because he is complex, caring and let's be honest, can be quite infuriating all at the same time.

I have never loved something or someone so much and, in some moments, have a fury rage inside me at some of his actions. I hope I am not being too brutally honest when I say that, but it's the truth. In his short five years I have felt rage, shock, pride and in it all, unconditional love, in spite of all his actions, whether I term them good or bad. It's true what they say, once you become a mother you need to be prepared to have your heart walking outside your body. It's true. The range of emotions a mother feels when dealing with this other, very human being, is sometimes incomprehensible.



Carter is a piece of me. He is a piece of my husband. He is a whole lot of God's grace and love. But this past week I have just been reminded that even though He is God's creation, the Lord allowed me to be a part of it. And with that, I am humbled. God allowed me to carry this precious gem, this gem that I LOVE so much, yet can be greatly annoyed with....at the same time.



I know I keep repeating that phrase, "at the same time", but it's true. I don't understand it. I guess because Carter is a part of me, that's why it is so confounding, to love something sooooo much, be humbled by the fact that he has been given to me, an the honor that has been bestowed on me, and at which I do not reflect upon nearly often enough. And let's be honest, can be a little boy I really dislike sometimes. LOL!



I don't really know what this has to do with Carter going into Kindergarten. I guess it has just made me very reflective, more so than normal. :-) It's a milestone. It's a marker. It's a gift. God allowed me to be the mom to Carter (and Griffin). He allowed me to be part of a miracle. And this miracle has grown into a little boy who is beautiful, caring, smart, funny, determined, stubborn, literal, and loving. Kind of like me, a little bit. Kind of like his dad.



Actually, I think Carter is a lot like me. Which is why I sometimes don't like him, even though I love him forever. I see myself in him. When Carter and I are in conflict is often when I see my flaws the most. And I want to fix them, through him. When all he really needs is to be loved and accepted. Mentored. Disciplined. Surrendered.



Wow. What gift. What a privilege.





Dear Heavenly Father,



THANK YOU for this gift. Thank you for your grace. Help me to remember that Carter is a GIFT, always, He is yours. He is not mine. He has only been loaned to me for a while. My prayer is that through You, and you alone, I really can be a perfect mother! Thank you for the resiliency of my children when I am not walking, by faith, in this journey of motherhood. Please forgive me for my self-sufficiency. Thank you for the perfect picture of unconditional love.

September 17th!!!

I wanted to let you guys know that I will be speaking at the Awana Ministry Conference in Cordova, Tn on September 17th!! I will be doing two breakout sessions in the morning and in the afternoon.

The two breakout sessions I will be speaking on are:


1) Have Fun Teaching Spiritual Truths
Come learn how to start a Family Time in your home that will excite your kids about God’s Word. Activity is the language of children so use it to communicate biblical truth. This session will energize you about Family Time and explain how to make the scriptures relevant and exciting for your kids.

2) How to Teach Children to Follow Instructions
All parents want cooperation but many find it difficult to teach. Most parents give instructions over a hundred times a day. In this session you will examine the Instruction Routine in your home. Replace whining, arguing, and yelling routines with a five-step approach that teaches cooperation and responsibility to children for the long-term. Giving instruction will never be the same.

I will be doing the same breakout sessions both in the morning and afternoon!

Here is some more detail on the conference itself. And be sure to check out the video link above!!


"Don’t miss this one-day Awana Ministry conference where you will experience the inspiration of One More through a powerful keynote message, explore practical workshops relevant to your Awana ministry, and engage and share ideas with other Awana leaders in your area. Whether you’re a Puggles leader, a T&T director, a Journey volunteer or a pastor, you will learn valuable principles and “how-to” ideas for your particular ministry as you share the hope of the gospel with One More. "





To register for the conference, click HERE!


Can't wait to see you there!

A Wednesday funny....

I don't really talk about politics on my blog very much, if at all, and I am really not getting into anything right now. However, given the much debate over raising the "debt ceiling" got Greg and I talking the other night.

I don't know anyone who hasn't been impacted in some way during this recession...some even call it a depression. If you watch the news at all, it will leave you even more depressed about the economy than you were before.

I can't exactly remember now what we had been watching, but it had a gloom and doom message...you know the type. There aren't really any facts behind what they are saying, just making a lot of presumptions, but they want you to believe that what they are saying is true. It had a lot to do with people losing jobs, the economy tanking even more and the Dow going to pot. And if this happens, then this will happen...blah, blah, blah.

I remember looking at Greg, half joking, saying this, "you know, we should just go live out in the middle of nowhere and live off the land. Then we wouldn't have to worry about all this stuff".

Greg replied, "so, you want to become Amish, live off the land and ride in a buggy?"

Me: "Yeah, well, except for not living without electricity. And I would want air conditioning. I would still want to wear make-up and be able to style my hair. Hmmm...I don't guess I want to be Amish, huh?" (LOL)

I don't guess we will be making THAT move anytime soon......oh, well.

I'm sure those closest to me are having a hard time imagining me as a pioneer woman, anyway....ME, TOO!!!!!

Taking the time to be thankful.....

For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother's womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place. When I was woven together in the depths of the earth, your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.

Psalm 139:13-16


So most of you know I am a mom to two boys. One is five and one is two. I have one starting Kindergarten, and the other is in the midst of those wonderful, terrible, terrific twos....and me, well, I'm exhausted most of the time. LOL.

To say that I am incredibly blessed is an understatement. Yeah, it took a lot to get both of them here, but it was worth all the tears, fears and anxieties of getting pregnant again, wondering if it was going to stick, and then, after realizing it was, was everything going to be okay?? I was of "advanced maternal age" you know...LOL. Gotta love that term.

But in the end I have two, healthy, beautiful boys. They are both unique in their own ways. Their personalities couldn't be more different. But seeing them together, even when they are fighting, makes every tear, anxiety and fear well worth it.

I don't have all the answers for all the pain we have to go through when it's difficult conceiving and carrying children. Some of you can't even identify with that because you had an easy time having your baby. But, I am sure if we didn't experience it ourselves, we have friends and loved ones who have gone through heartbreak at attempting to make a family. Some of you may never have been able to have children. You may have adopted or found other ways to meet that maternal need.

For those of us with children it doesn't take us long after the baby arrives at how much work goes into raising children. Oh, my. We actually have to raise them. And we find out to do it well, means really hard work. Sacrifice. Selflessness. And sometimes, continued heartbreak.

Maybe some of you have special needs children. A diagnosis that you didn't want to hear. A disease that will most likely take your child's life. Or maybe a test that states because of their disability, they will never be able to function on their own in society. What do you do with that? What do you do when you deliver a baby only to find out that there were too many chromosomes and the dreams and wishes you had for that baby are shattered?

Where ever you are today, in whatever circumstance, you can know that God knew exactly what he was doing when he made you a mom. Whether you birthed the children, adopted, or are mentoring other kids. God placed you in that specific role for a specific purpose. No matter how bad you think you are at it. No matter how overwhelmed you feel. No matter how exhausted you are at this moment. You can know that God is carrying you and your children.

Look at the above verses in Psalm 139. If God spent that much time and thought into creating your children, do you think he would give them to someone he knows can't handle it? God doesn't make mistakes. You are the one that is supposed to be raising these children. He didn't mess up. You are going to learn so much. You are going to surrender so much. And hopefully, you will grow to see that apart from Christ, you can't do it. But through Him you can do all things!

That's the beauty. He gives you what is on your plate, all you can handle, no more or no less, and uses it for his glory. And he is using whatever difficulties you may be going through to draw you closer to HIM. He also uses the successes. The small victories to keep you going. Pushing forward when all you want to do is give up. He is saying, "push on. Lean on me. I am enough".

Like I said, I am very blessed. And I very convicted at how much I complain about being a parent, about my kids, and how "over it" I am some days when I am blessed so much. My children are healthy. They have met their developmental milestones. I think it is safe to say we have passed the time to where they would be diagnosed with autism. Neither one of them are in school, so I don't know if they will have a difficult time or what they are going to be good at, but I know, at this point, we can most likely handle what ever comes our way.

It's so easy to be selfish. To put myself above my kids needs and need for attention. It occurred to me the other night as I was rocking Griffin back to sleep after he, very unusually, awoke in the middle of the night, how much I am really going to miss these times. The times where he sits on my lap, he starts humming the song I sing to him when we rock. His sweet, chubby fingers. How tiny they still are.

Then there is Carter, my big boy. He's so smart. He amazes me with his questions. And those big, beautiful hazel eyes that he got from me. The way that he tests the limits to make sure that I am going to follow through. The way that he tells us to stop tickling him.....then says, "do it again".

I just wanted to stop today and treasure my children. I am so not the perfect parent. I can be reactive. I can yell. I can let things go by that I probably need to address.

But I hope, in the end, what my kids know above anything else is how much I love them and how thankful I am to be their mommy.

Crafty momma, I am not!




I am not one to really get into arts and crafts. And with my first son, he could have cared LESS about doing anything artsy or crafty. I guess I figured he was a boy and would be so into that kind of stuff.



Well, then Griffin came along. The boy loves arts and crafts. I mean, Carter and Griffin could not be more different, in so many ways, and this is one of them. Griffin actually asks me to "dwaw". He wants to color (Carter HATED to color), Griffin colors with markers, he scribbles with a pen. I can actually keep him occupied with a piece of paper and a pen, whereas Carter would have still been running around the room. Anyway, I digress.



My friend, Blakely sent me a link to a blog that had this BLOG listed with a very cool activity kit for the summer. I got to looking more closely at this blog and noticed that this was one, very creative woman. I am amazed at the creativity of some people and the ideas they come up with, especially when it involves children. She has some really easy, fun and unique ideas.

I didn't seem too overwhelmed by her ideas (I'm really interested now in attempting to get me and the boys to make our own butter...I'll let you know how it goes) and I wanted to be sure and pass this activity kit onto you guys!!! Be sure and check her out!!!!!!! If I can do it, anyone can do it!








CLICK HERE to download activity kit



Let the fun begin!!!!

Where has this item been all my life...

I don't know about you, but toddlers and juice boxes just don't go together. There is usually juice squeezed out somewhere, sticky fingers...just a mess. How I would love to give a juice box to Griffin, our two year old, and not have to worry about a mess.





Well, I happened to be in Babies R Us yesterday and saw this product and the first thing I thought of was, "why didn't I think of that"??????????








It's called Dwink and it's a plastic box that holds just about any kind of juice drink, whether it be in a box or a pouch. I tried it out on Griffin today and it was amazing!





I have no idea when this product was made, but I do know it was created by a mom, cause it says so on their website. When I started reading her reasons for creating such a product, it was for exactly the same reason I would have created it. To create less mess!!!





She doesn't guarantee all your juice messes will be cleared up but it sure does make handing that box over to a little one a little less stressful.





Ahhh......why couldn't I have thought of that.

Priorities!

Have you ever ignored your body and your soul so much that it has to virtually attack you to get your attention? Mine has.

I can clearly remember the fall of 2006. I had returned to work as a school counselor and I was struggling with whether or not I was to stay home with our son who had been born that January. I felt the call to ministry but really didn't know what that looked like. But, in the back of my mind, I knew what I needed to do, I just wasn't doing it.

Then, came the most stressful few weeks of my life. I mean, one thing after another, mostly professional. It was like I kept getting hit with something over and over. Bam, bam bam. Then I would recover. Then, bam, hit again.

It wasn't until I woke up one morning, during this time, covered in hives and was not able to go into work and had some down time that I realized that I was stressed out, my body had had enough and it was telling me so, and if I wasn't going to take care of me, it would have to take care of me on it's own. And it did. I went to the doctor and got a shot and within a few days I was better, but it was a wake up call for me. I knew the Lord used those hives to get my attention. To slow down and to listen to Him. To follow Him and to trust Him.

Fast forward to now...several years later, add another kid, a private practice, a ministry and I find myself once again dealing with a lot and have been quite overwhelmed with it all. Some days I am working two to three days a week. I have a mentally challenging job. It can be really exhausting. Traveling back and forth from Nashville to Hendersonville. Making sure meals and child care are covered.

I am also a wife and a mom, raising two, you and very active boys. Plus, I am responsible for childcare arrangement for my boys, fixing meals, cleaning, laundry. Taking care of myself, my husband, the kids and the cat.

I have a ministry that I am called to, many things to do in that ministry but I seem so overwhelmed with everything to do that I am frozen by it all.

So, what do you get when you have too much on your plate? Well, I don't know about you but I get a good case of anxiety! I am doing what I need to do to take care of it, but this morning it came to my attention that there were some things I needed to take action on, if I didn't, they weren't ever going to get done. My body, once again, would revolt on me, and this time, I think it was going to be bigger than a bad breakout of hives! Something had to give.

So, I sat down and made a list and got to work. I worked on the things I could work on and let the other things go. I prayed a lot. I cried out to Jesus, a lot. And, it is just the beginning, but it is a start.

It's amazing as Christians how easy it is to forget that you really don't have to carry that burden around. But we do it anyway. It is so easy to forget that we are a child of the King...I'm a Princess! Loved unconditionally. An heir to the throne. I am a child of God. He is in me and I in Him and nothing can separate me from His love. But man, the devil sure tries everything he can to convince me otherwise.

And this time, well, he just isn't going to win.

It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm,then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yolk of slavery. Galatians 5:1

Perfect Kids.

Do you ever wish you had perfect kids? It usually happens right around the time your kids are NOT being perfect. At least for me it is. Carter had his Preschool graduation program last Thursday and he was really, really tired. When Carter gets tired he gets really hyper. He did not take an afternoon nap and by the time we went out to dinner before the program, I knew we were in for a treat. Ha!
The more tired, nervous, anxious, whatever, it seems Carter gets very….well, busy…. antsy…. active. *sigh* I could tell he was nervous, too, which also makes him hyper. His preschool teacher was wonderful. He was bouncing off the walls and jumping and all she said was, “well, I’m nervous, too”. I went to sit down in the auditorium and just really wanted to break down in tears.
If I listened to previous teachers, or even to my parents, then I would have to believe that Carter has a problem. And who knows, he might, maybe he is “over-active”. But, my pediatrician tells me he’s just fine. Mrs. Mary, his preschool teacher this year (a god-send!) put it this way, “He just acts like he’s five…”.
I get tired of the busyness. I get tired of the busyness at the wrong times. But I also see him being appropriate most of the time and at important times. He can focus. He is just extremely active. He is very, very busy. Apparently, they grow out of it, or so I have been told.
So what do you do with all the well-doers who come along critiquing your parenting techniques? Talking about what they would do if they had your child for six weeks and how they would shape them up? Yeah, that’s what I thought. I didn’t respond so well, either. Anybody else out there have someone from the previous generation that thinks children are supposed to be seen and not heard, still? I guess they haven’t gotten the memo that we actually let them be kids now and teach them how to behave as they grow. Four and five year olds are supposed to be busy and not sit still for forty-five minutes and when THAT generation did it, it was out of fear for their life; I would rather my child not grow up that way.
Okay. Vent over.
I think I tend to put a lot of pressure on Carter and I put a lot of pressure on myself as a parent. I also think I have a lot pride. And, my pediatrician also told me that Carter was given to me to humble me. Yep. Gee, thanks. But, it’s true. I’ve worked with kids for over 10 years now and even though I work with adults, too, working with families is my passion. So, my pediatrician said the same thing happened to her. She had a daughter who humbled her, a doctor, who specialized in treating children. We are given these strong-willed, stubborn little masses to humble us. To let us know we do not know it all. And for me, that I need to get on my knees and cry out to the only ONE who can supply me with what I need to be the best parent I can be!
Carter ended up doing fine in his program. He didn’t do anything more or less humorous or embarrassing than any of the other kids up on the stage that night. Although, he was extremely interested in the white lining to his dress pants pockets. :-)

Secret to a happy marriage when you have kids...

Greg and I are headed out of town this weekend to celebrate our wedding anniversary. It will be our eighth anniversary on May 10th. The grandparents are keeping the kids. We got a great deal on a two night stay, it has been paid for for months. We get free breakfast while we are there, plus a $50.00 resort credit (I Love Living Social deals!!)

Now, before you get too jealous I want to talk about how you, too, can get away with your spouse. I hear excuses all the time that we don't have the money to go out, or for a sitter, and certainly don't have the money to go on a weekend getaway.

Believe me, we are on a tight budget, but with livingsocials.com, we were able to get a really good deal. We gave this to each other for Christmas so it was paid for over four months ago. We are VERY fortunate to have grandparents who are willing and able to take the kids overnight. I know not everyone has that. But we all have friends and I am a big proponent of utilizing friends who also have children so you can have free childcare.

Obviously, things happen, and that can always be a deterrent to ever trying to get away without the kids. Griffin woke up today with a severe allergic reaction to his antibiotic he has been on for several days. I didn't know for sure, so I took him to the ped to make sure he wasn't contagious (our trip would then be cancelled and you would have had one, sad mommy!) Thankfully, it will clear up in a few days.

My personal philosophy and other therapists, pastors, counselors, etc. will tell you the same thing, that a marriage has to be tended to when you have children. You must carve out time for each other to reconnect and build intimacy. Greg and I have made a pact that this weekend is about us and we will do everything we can to remind each other if we happen to get off track (by talking about the kids non-stop. Yes, they are cute and we will miss them, but I want to be able to hold a conversation with my husband at dinner AFTER they are grown. If we don't cultivate that now, we won't know who each other is when we have an empty nest.)

I hear it time and time again, that we can't go out on date night and we can't get away. The truth is, you can, you are just choosing not to, Where there is a will there is a way.

There are countless free things to do for date night, you can even have a date night at home once the kids go to bed. You can trade off babysitting with others so that other couples can get a night out now and then too.

I understand that getting away for an overnight trip may seem challenging, however, with proper planning and support, it can be done. If nothing else, have friends or family members keep your kids overnight so you can have a break and give your spouse some undivided attention!!!

I hope you have a great mother's day weekend! I sure am!!!! :) :)

Awesome weekend at LHBC- Gallatin

Just wanted to post a few pictures from the women's event I have the privilege of being at Saturday. The women of Gallatin are very sweet!!! They went above and beyond in making sure I had everything I needed!! I led two sessions over the same material. It was the first time presenting that material, but I know that God had a special message to a few of those ladies. I could see it on their face.



























I am truly blessed to be able to do this. Whether there are 4 people or 400!!!! I LOVE being in the middle of what God has called me to do!!!!
























Who do you believe????

There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear....I John 4:18

This verse is so simple and so basic. And so easy to believe, right? I have talked to many women on the subject of fear in the christian walk. I have personally struggled with the stronghold of fear and anxiety in my life. I was quite surprised how much we women worry! I mean, I guess isolation is also part of Satan's plan (duh!) because here I thought I must be the only one.

I didn't realize that so many of us choose to believe a lie over the truth.

I wish that I could write a glowing story of my faith in Christ during the deepest crisis of belief that I went through. I wish I could be like other women who I have heard speak tell of how during their deepest, darkest times they turned to Christ faithfully during their time of need, trusting him fully.

Yeah, I really wish I could say that. But I can't. I chose to believe a lie. I chose fear over love.

I am thankful for friends who loved me, who prayed for me and friends who walked with me through that dark valley. I am thankful that I came through to the other side, repentant and surrendered and free.

But man, I wish I had a better story to tell. It is very humbling to have to say out loud that you believed a lie. Faith and fear really cannot coexist. And for over a year, I thought they could.

The minute I chose Christ, however, the lie was obliterated. And the thing is, He was there the whole time, waiting, lovingly, patiently and mericfully, for me to return to Him; to not believe a lie. And he accepted me with open arms, with no condemnation.

You see, it wasn't as if I had really "forsaken" God. I mean, i was still in church, went to bible study, attempted to pray and read the bible. I allowed Satan to convince me that I had every right to feel the way I did. I was still playing along in the game. This is where I think he has a lot of strong, Christian women. Women caught up in fear of things that we think should be okay. We are still okay.

But you either believe a lie or you believe the truth. For me, I thought I was okay and that my relationship with Christ was okay. He understood where I was. And He did, but what I did was reject His love. I rejected truth. All the while I didn't trust God with my pain and hurt. It really wasn't about the fear, the lie. It was about fearing God. For me, I thought it was about my pain and hurt and how I couldn't really trust God.

See, you can replace whatever it is you are held in fear about and hold it up to the light and say out loud....what I am really saying, Lord, is that I fear you. Yes, you heard me right. You are holding onto something that isn't yours anyway. I feared that my children and my husband's safety was in constant danger. Irrational? Yes. Did I believe it. Yes. Did I want to? Not really, but because I had put my faith in Christ and was a believer in him, Satan had to do whatever he could to immobilize me. Make me useless. And he used my concept of God, my perception of Him, to do that. Even though I said I feared death, what i was really saying was, "God, I fear what you are going to do to me". I chose a lie.

So what do you believe about God?

Our concept of God shapes how much we trust him. Because when we worry and fret and have anxiety and fears over something that god has control over (which is everything, by the way), it's like we are saying He isn't enough. He is too small. He is limited. He is somehow bound by our human limits.

The God of the universe. The creator of the heavens and the earth. The giver of LIFE itself. I mean, think about it for a minute. The more you dwell on God and hang out with him and His beauty and majesty, His righteousness and justice and His mercy and grace the more you are compelled to believe Him. the more you remember the Lord your God and Who He is, the great I AM. You trust those very hands that have given you life.

I kind of felt like Job, near the end of his story, and how the Lord prompted Job to show Him who the creator was, who held everything in His hands. who else out there is able to do this...please, Job, show him to me. "will the one who contends with the almighty correct him?" the Lord asks Job in Job 40:2

Job's response in chapter 42 is my response to the Lord, even this day. Every day.

"I know that you can do all things, no plan of yours can be thwarted....surely, I spoke of things I did not understand, things too wonderful for me to know....therefore, I repent. Job 42:2-6. Job wasn't repenting for committing secret sins. He was repenting for questioning God's sovereignty and justice. He repented for his attitude toward God. Then the Lord restored Job above and beyond what he had before.

Why would God do that? Because he is GOD. We have humanized our God so much that we have made him very small, bound, and limited. God did this for Job (and me and you) because he LOVES you. Because He loves me. And NOTHING can separate me from that love. Even my unbelief and unfaithfulness. He forgives. He heals. He is perfect love. The only way we are able to love him is through Him loving us. The very capacity to love is from him. Do we believe that? Or do we believe a lie?

It's your choice. I hope by sharing my story someone can avoid the regrets of believing a lie.

Choose the truth. Choose Christ. Choose love. He is right there. He has never left your side. His arms are open wide. He is holy. He is just. His love is perfect, whole, trustworthy and pure. And He would love nothing more than to heal your hurts and ease your pain. Whatever your story.

"Let us draw near to God with a sincere heart in FULL ASSURANCE of faith.” Hebrews 10:21-22 (emphasis mine)

Why do we choose fear?

I'm working on my breakout session for next week (continued prayers, please). And I wanted to ask a question....I posted something on facebook a couple of weeks ago, more out of my own deep thoughts than a real question, but I got some surprising answers. I am really hoping that you can help add to the discussion.

My question, although rhetorical at the time, was this, "what if we allowed perfect love to drive out fear"

So, I am going to post this everywhere and hope that you read this and will leave a comment. I won't name any names, but would love to hear the following:

1) What are you afraid of? What binds you in fear?
2)what if we allowed God's perfect love to drive out that fear?
3)why don't we?

Blessings and many thanks for your participation!!!
Susan

Prayers please!!!

So many things are going on, and they are good things, but, it is easy to get swept up in the busyness of life and the one thing I want to focus on today while I have some free time is prepping for my session in a few weeks on fear and anxiety. So, if you are reading this before April 30th, go ahead and pray because that is when I am speaking. If you read this after April 30th...pray about it anyways because I am sure I need it. LOL! I am very excited because I have been writing and thinking and ideas have been popping into my head and i have been writing them down and now, now I just need to do get everything together so that this is actually a presentation. I'm probably not supposed to say that I don't have it done yet, but, this will be the first time presenting on this subject matter. It is so personal that I know it intimately. It is all inside me, I just had to research some things, pray and let God do the rest. So, it's time. My baby boy's birthday is this coming Saturday. He is going to be TWO! I can't believe it. My mom is coming in tomorrow and I am sure we will be running around, I am only working one day this week, thankfully, but still, that is a lot going on. Basically, this is my only day of solid hours to work on this presentation this week. We are less than three weeks away! So, I covet your prayers. Thanks!

Mark you calendars! April 30th!! Women's event!

I am honored to be speaking at the Long Hollow Baptist Church Gallatin Campus Women's event in a few weeks. This event cost only $10.00!!!!!! Julie Woodruff, Women's minister for Long Hollow Baptist will be leading out the conference and there will be several women leading break out sessions. You don't want to miss this! Lunch is included!!! Click HERE for more details!!!

Nashville Parent Baby Fair 2011

If I were having a baby I wouldn't want to miss this. I'm not pregnant and I still think I would love to go. In fact, even though I have no use for it, I entered to win the wonderful grand prize, which is a beautiful three piece nursery set! LOL! What can I say, I love babies. And even if I am not having any more babies, I know plenty of people who are. And I bet I would win "best shower gift ever" if I brought that furniture set to a friends shower. All kidding aside, here is a link to the baby fair. Hope you local folks can make it! This event is at Baptist Hospital, next Saturday, April 9th from 10am-3pm. It is sponsored by Baptist Hospital and Nashville Parent Magazine. Click here to learn about the FAIR.

A Message From My Heart.....

I wanted to write a very special blog post sharing my heart.

First, I want to start out by saying how humbled I am and amazed that God wants to use me. I mean, I know that is why we are here, to glorify and worship Him. He has gifted certain people with certain talents and we all have a choice in whether or not we are going to truly fulfill our purpose in Christ. I don't really understand the "why" but I know I am compelled to follow, surrender and accept the call on my life. I never really set out to have a speaking ministry, but that is where it has led, and I feel that the more I surrender, follow and obey, God is going to do amazing things through me, in His power, to accomplish His plan. I just want to be open to His calling. It's not easy surrendering and following. Sometimes I doubt, have fears, and disobey. Surprisingly, God still wants to use me.

Second, I really want to make it clear that I am not a perfect mom. Period. I struggle in certain areas. I lose my temper. Say things I wish I hadn't. I want do-overs with my children. I worry that I am not doing a good job. I struggle with balancing being firm yet grounded in love. I want to give my kids roots and wings. So, I want to make it clear that I am not an expert.

If you could see me on Sunday mornings trying to check in my kids for childcare at church, which often includes long lines attempting to hold on to a 2 year old and making sure the 5 year old doesn't run off or start acting out in front of everyone solidifying the fact that, I am indeed, less than, you would see clearly that I struggle. Usually this goes along with having a very hectic morning at home getting ready for church, trying not to run late but inevitably doing so. I am often frustrated, frazzled and grumpy as I walk into church to worship the Lord. More than once, I have had to go back to the check-in desk and apologize to the nice people who checked us in because I was rude. Really.

Being a mom humbles me EVERY day. I think that is just part of it. If I had a perfect marriage and kids then I don't really think I would have much of a message. I mean, I would simply say "do as I do and you, too, can have perfection". That's not going to happen.

Some of you have known me for a very long time. The thought might cross your mind, "Who do you think you are telling me how to be a mom, how to raise my kids"? Well, again, let me make it clear that I AM NOT doing that. I don't know how to be a great mom, or wife, for that matter. But in Christ, I am. And I believe it, because I have seen His work in me. It's not me, it's Him. And it leaves me humbled and amazed every day. That is what is so exciting about this. You can actually see Him at work in your life when you get out of the way.

As a wife and mother I struggle. I have shared some of those struggles on this blog. Most recently, being delivered from fear and anxiety following the birth of my last child. I still struggle with this. It is a daily process. I am sure there are others out there who struggle with depression, fear, insecurity, doubt....all of the above. The message that God has for you is that He is big enough to take everything you have ever gone through, all your shortcomings, your fears, hurts, pain and shape you into a beautiful image of Himself. And He uses these experiences as moms to do this.

There is a lot of pressure in today's world for moms. Some of us work. Some of us are single and we carry the load. Some are work at home moms and spend 24/7 with their kids. Some of us are overwhelmed. Some of us have broken marriages and disenchanted views of this life that we have and really wish we could go back to those carefree, single days, even though we prayed and prayed for this life. Now that we have it, sometimes we would just like to give it back.

This IS what I know. God has given me the opportunity to use my gifts and talents to bring Him honor and praise. He has a message to moms. And, apparently, He wants to use me to get that message across. Now, that may mean I speak to 20 people or 2,000. I don't know. I don't really care. I don't even care if you or the outside world see my ministry as a success. That's not what this is about. It's about obedience. Surrender. Knowing that what you are doing is not your own. Period. I am SURE, given the last five years of being a mom, that God has PLENTY more humbling experiences to keep me in line with His plan for me.

I am doing this because of the passion God has put in my heart for moms just like me. The imperfect mess. Because I know that through HIM I can do all things. His grace is all I need. His strength is made PERFECT in my weakness. Because God is able to do exceedingly above all that I ask or think.

That means He has it covered and instead of trying to do this on our own He is calling me and you to Himself. He has your back. He's got it covered. And there is so much that He wants to teach us and show us of His mighty power and strength that He blessed us with children to remind us how fallible we really are. And how BIG He is.I know I am not a perfect mom. But when I focus on Christ, surrender to Him, trust Him and allow Him to BE God in my life, then the pressure is OFF.

And that is what I want to share. That is the heart of every message. I want to be real. I want to be authentic. I don't have all the answers. But praise God, I serve the one who does. And His love casts out every fear, doubt, imperfection....the list can go on and on.

We don't have to be an expert. We don't have to have it all together. We don't have to be perfect. Because He is. And if you are a mom, that is your calling. It's no accident that we were blessed with these kids. Yes, even YOUR kid! Through this journey, God wants to teach us what He can do and accomplish through us. That means breaking us of our pride, the gods we place before Him (which sometimes, lets be honest, are our kids), and to prune, shape and mold us into His image through this journey.

I really hope you come along with me. I am so excited. I am so passionate. I am so....imperfect.

The Mom's To Do List

Next month I have the honor of speaking at my church's women's event at one of our satellite campuses. I am very excited as I will be speaking for the very first time under the Reflections of a Mom ministry!!! I will be speaking on anxiety and fear...two things I know just a little bit about, unfortunately. I am so thankful that God is able to deliver us from anything! I am thankful for the journey that grief took me on and the ride with post-partum depression. That sounds crazy to say, but through that journey came a crisis of belief, and once again, I came face to face with all of my doubt and mistrust of my savior. And once again, as always, God proved his love for me and the fact that he welcomes me with open arms. Of course on my end was repentence, surrender and a decision to believe that He is good.

It sounds horrible doesn't it, to say that you doubt the One who loves you unconditionally? But yeah, during that time I was angry with God. I allowed myself to be deceived into believing that He is not kind, loving and good. I allowed satan the foothold on my heart. It was a slow process, but it happened nonetheless. But I wouldn't be here today if it wasn't for that journey. I am glad I chose Christ. I am glad I choose Christ on a daily basis. I can trust Him. He does have my best interests at heart.

So, the next few blog posts you might be getting a glimpse into what I am going to be talking about in a few weeks...including some humor in there as well.

Because I have just a oh-so-few things on my plate and I can still struggle with anxiety and feeling overwhelmed at times, I decided to make out a to do list to help schedule my time better and to prioritize all the things that I needed to do in preparation for the launching of the Reflections of a Mom ministry and this upcoming speaking event.

What I got out of this was simply laughable. I am not going to share my to do list, but it quickly became this very long, excruciatingly painful to look at, list of things to get done in the next six weeks. Then I started adding things in there just to lighten my mood, because this list was not making me feel any better. You know, perfectly doable things like, " create peace in the middle east"....LOL! I actually did put "schedule exercise weekly and DO daily". Yeah, I'm thinking peace in the middle east may actually happen before that one gets checked off the list.

I'm not a very organized person (although I have fooled many people into thinking that I am, I don't know how, but they have told me that I am organized), anyway, I love making lists. I have always loved scheduling things, writing lists, planning out how I am going to do things, etc. Then, I never do them. When I was younger I would spend weeks planning a diet that I was going to go on. I would research what eating plan I should go on, what kind of diet. Then I would write out my meal plans, figure out what I was going to eat, when I was going to eat it. Then the day came to go on the diet. Unfortunately, all that planning was for naught. I usually never made it past the first couple of days. But man, I came up with some really GOOD diets. I probably had a book's worth. Oh, well, I digress.

Now that I am actually married, a busy mom, working part time, attempting to start a new ministry, making lists actually calms me down. Checking things off my list, I believe, actually releases seratonin in my body. Really. The anxiety goes out the window. All I have to do is make a list and check a few things off and I feel much better.

I guess that is why making this list didn't do too much for me because everything that I have to do seems very daunting. I should be having a panic attack about now. Except, I rely on the truth of God's word. If I dedicate my day and time to the Lord, and follow what He has called me to do, and do what I need to do on my end; work just a little bit at being better organized, everything on that list will get done in time AND it will work out exactly how it is supposed to work out.

And, hopefully, there won't be too many sleepless nights between now and April 30th!

rainy days and mondays always get me down....

....especially when a little one has an ear infection.

We could tell for the past couple of days that Griffin was not feeling himself, especially when he woke up in the mornings. Today was no exception and he was so not himself that I took him to the doctor first thing, even though he really had no other symptoms. He has tubes in his ears and we had a few, great months of "good ears" but it seems our good times have passed. He had an ear infection last month and I am thinking his symptoms are diminished because of the tubes, yet, who knows how long he has been suffering since the diagnosis last month, since this infection is in the same ear.

We take communication for granted don't we? Especially when we are on sensory overload with communication coming at us in every direction. As in the people we interact with on a daily basis, information on the computer, text messaging and voice mails. We are used to hearing everything we need to hear.

But with little ones who haven't learned how to talk yet, we have to rely on other forms of communication to tell if they are not feeling well. Their body language, fever, tears and fussiness, pulling at their ears. There are lots of ways our babies communicate with us even though it is not in verbal form. Because we know our little ones so well, we can usually identify the problem.

This morning the only symptom that Griffin had that he had an ear infection was his constant fussiness from the moment he woke up until it was time to take him to the doctor four hours later (yeah, we had a great morning!). LOL! I guess I started thinking about this while I was at the doctor's office because they were asking me how I could tell Griffin was sick, what were his symptoms, and it struck me when I told them and then added, "you know, you just never know what's going on because he can't tell me. That's why I decided to bring him in, just in case".

So what is the point to all this? This morning got me thinking about how thankful I am that I can hear God speak to me clearly, if I am willing to listen.

Over the past two weeks I have seen God move in amazing ways, in my life and in the life of my friends. We had a FABULOUS women's' conference at my church, Long Hollow Baptist Church a couple of weeks ago. One of the speakers, Margaret Feinberg, spoke on hearing God speak and how it is often, as the bible says, not in the wind, earthquake or fire, but a whisper (I Kings 19). God also uses other forms of communication to speak to us. He gives us His word, His spirit, which prompts and leads us where we should go. He gives us people, His church, life experiences and most of all, peace. Even when it doesn't make sense.

I have some friends that have been faced with tough decisions lately and tough dilemmas. We have been faced with some also. Waiting on God to follow his direction and leading, waiting for his wisdom and discernment. That's when our relationship with Christ gets real. Are we really going to trust Him in our circumstances, even when He is telling us to take a huge leap of faith? Can we trust Him in the smallest of circumstance or do we have to figure things out on our own, in our own time? And what is this peace in the midst of these crazy circumstances that is telling me, 'it's all going to work out'? Do we feel like we have to help Him along? It's almost laughable to even type that last sentence. Yet time and time again, we do just that, feebly "help" him along. God. The king of the universe. Creator. Provider. Beginning and the End.

I am very thankful for a Father who speaks to me clearly, in many different ways, in many different actions. The more I learn to trust Him, the more clearly I hear his voice, even the slightest whisper. I can trust that in my walk with Him, He will make my paths straight.