Haiti = Hard

This time next week I will be in HAITI!!! It has been a wild, wild month. I have had so many feelings regarding Haiti so I thought I would share a few.

I just want to be real here, going to Haiti is hard. It was hard when I went the first time, but now that I am going back and know what to expect (although all trips are different) it kind of takes the "hard" up a notch. Kind of like when you are giving birth to your second child. You've been there, done that, yet NOW you know what to expect (like, you know what it's liking pushing an 8 pound baby out of you-know-where) (am I going to poop all over the hospital staff again, wow, that was embarrassing).... it's just a different kind of nervous. I don't know.... thankfully, hopefully, there will be no pooping in front of others in Haiti...

Seriously though, this past month has been very up and down. As a family we went through a lot, some personal stuff and some business stuff. I flat out was thinking of different ways I could get out of going on this trip. I emailed my wonderful friend, Tami, and told her I was freaking out. She said that was great (wha???). LOL. Yes, apparently, my fears and apprehension all point to God doing something big in me through this trip.

I mean, I know a lot of people who go to Haiti. A lot. Like several times a year and they love it. They talk about not wanting to leave Haiti. They talk about these strong feelings toward going back. I didn't fall in love with Haiti the last time I went. In fact, I knew it would be a while before I went back. It was that hard. And the stuff I thought was going to be hard wasn't. I can live without hot water for a week. I can live with eating different foods for a week. I can live in the heat. I can live with the possibilty of the generator going out and having no electrcity. That stuff was easy.

Well, I would like to say that reaching out to Tami helped with my apprehension but it didn't. Midway through November I started looking for full time employment. One of the positions I was interviewing for had me starting work the Monday after I get back from Haiti. Talk about skyrocketing anxiety. I just didn't think I could do it. And, thankfully, I won't.

Even after I knew I wasn't going to take a full time position (more on that in another blog post to come) I just flat out attempted to convince myself that I did not have to go. I could get out of it...but what about all that money? What about all those people that helped me raise the money to go? Well, I would pay them back. No biggie. Ugh. I tried thinking about all the things I am going to miss while I am in Haiti during the Christmas season. My son's Christmas play. My work's Christmas party. Surely that is a good reason not to go. Mommy guilt, that's always a good one...

Then something real happened. My dad had a complication with his dialysis. He was having a procedure the day before Thanksgiving. I didn't know if this would impact me going to Haiti or not. If my dad was in the hospital I was not going to Haiti. I sent a text to Tami, who was ever supportive. And in the back of my mind, even though I wouldn't truly acknowledge it, I thought this is my way out.

Somehow, in all of this, I finally reached a decision. I decided I was going to go. I was supposed to go. I wanted to go. I felt peace. I felt even more peace after I heard that my dad's procedure went well and that nothing will really change with his dialysis until the new year. Whew.

This past week I have felt nothing but peace. I am going. I am supposed to go. I want to go. Now that we are back from Missouri I can truly do all the things that need to be done to get ready for the trip.

I don't really know how to explain it, the peace. I am glad it is there though.

Going to a third world country is hard. Seeing the poverty, devastation and under-nourished orphans in less than ideal conditions is hard. Knowing that there isn't really anything I can do to "fix" the corruption in Haiti is hard and frustrating. It is emotionally draining.

But, then I remember that as hard as it is, what if we weren't involved? What if we weren't there?What if we couldn't give. I don't feel like I make a whole lot of difference in Haiti and that's frustrating. But that week that I am in Haiti, as hard as it is, I get to give love freely to orphans that have nothing. As heartbreaking as it is to know that no one tucks them in at night, I can love on the few that "choose me" for the week. I can be a momma to some Haitian babies. Plus, we get to give them stuff, which is always cool. But reminding myself when this gets really hard that I have been so very blessed makes all the trivial difficulties seem, well, trivial.

So, I am going. And it's going to be hard. But, that's okay. I have one week of hard. These orphans haven't known anything but hard their whole lives. The only thing is they don't know it. And God uses them to remind me Who He Is. Because Jesus shines in them. To see them sing about Jesus and experience Him in ways that I truly have never known, priceless.

I'm looking forward to my second experience in Haiti. Thank you to everyone who gave toward my trip. Thanks for all your prayers. Please keep us in your thoughts next week! I will post an update when we get back!!!

Tis the Season....for Travel

We have survived Halloween and are anxiously awaiting Thanksgiving when we get to travel to Missouri to see my mom. Road trips with kids are always fun. Most of the time my kids do great in the car, maybe it's their age, I don't know. But I would like to think it has something to do with my planning and preparation. Not all road trips have been dreamy, but packing great snacks always made it a LOT better!

On the way back from our Second Honeymoon trip in May, we were on a plane with a couple who had a one year old. In fact, we sat right next to them on the front row of the plane. The baby fussed the whole trip, not just fussed but screamed, cried and wiggled the entire time. Even the flight attendant came and asked the mom if she could walk him around the plane. You know it's bad when the flight attendant steps in. Mom tried breastfeeding him at one point and we had about 10 minutes of quiet...man, that was nice. Then she tried to get him to go to sleep. No go. She fed him a sandwich which he devoured. She only had water in his sippy cup (what???)  and I think she may have had some goldfish, but as I sat there, I was wondering where her plethora of snacks were. We are a snacking family. I mean, if we are in the car for an extended period of time I brink lots of food for my kids. I could not understand for the life of me why this mom didn't pack pretzels, cookies, crackers, juice...you know all the good stuff that is bad for you. Even if you never, ever ever give your kid juice, especially under one year of age because that is FORBIDDEN and because, you know, it will cause them to get fat,  (yep, that 6 ounces is just going to bloat them out for life) please for the love of everyone on that plane, pack it!

Don't get me wrong. I have traveled on a plane with a baby before. It's no fun and this mom felt really bad, I could tell.

How do you feel about feeding your kids snacks that they normally wouldn't get, for special occasions like travel? I'll be honest, it made me way less sympathetic for her. I understand he was only one but if the boy can devour a peanut butter sandwich, then maybe, just maybe he can eat an animal cracker or two with some real juice. But, it didn't make me mad (like some other passengers who weren't really all that nice). Maybe it's because we were all relaxed from our second honeymoon, but I was very empathetic with her and the situation she and her husband was in. On the other hand I so much wanted to tell her PACK SNACKS, but, I figured at that point and time it probably wasn't the right time or place. I remember being a first time mom and wanting to do everything right, but, if you are doing everything you can in the moment for your child then you are doing it right. Even if others say you are messing up. And that even includes the American Association of Pediatrics!!!!

So, if you want any advice from this travel seasoned mom, don't worry about the sugar in the juice. Drinking a cup of juice or two will not harm your child. Her fat genes will not pop out all of the sudden with an extra piece of candy. Trust me. And the people around you will appreciate it so much and you will feel much less stressed.

I hope you have an easy, non-stressful travel season as the holidays are upon us! Just remember to pack snacks (I won't even mention benadryl works wonders too!!! ) ;-)


December 2011 I went to Jeremie, Haiti for the first time. After that trip, I said it would be a while before I went back. Well, it's been two years and I think I'm ready to go back. Whether I am completely ready to go back or not, I am going. Again, in the first week in December with my wonderful friends and team leaders, Dale and Tami Heim. I honestly would not go on this trip with any other leaders. They are the best and I am so appreciative of their leadership. I just felt that needed to be said!

I am hoping and praying that with this trip I can actually soak in what happens. Last time, I was in shock and I was stressed and overwhelmed. Because it was such a new experience and I really didn't know anyone on the trip, I allowed it to add stress and I withdrew. I became more introverted (than usual) and I was going through a lot emotionally anyway, working through my first step study in Celebrate Recovery. I was doing very intensive work on the inside, then went to Haiti to pour out on them and it was intense. I remember facetiming with Greg on the first or second night in Jeremie in tears. I was so out of my comfort zone. I was overwhelmed. I kept a lot of it in at the time and I just kept to myself a lot. This time, I'm looking forward to knowing what the routine is and the place I am staying, even though I have been told not two trips are the same, at least I have been there and I know what it's like to ride in that little 12 passenger plane! Yikes!

That plane ride was honestly one of the *least* stressful events during that trip. Seeing those orphans and the conditions that they live in, and knowing that even with those conditions, if that orphanage wasn't there, they would more than likely be dead, seeing that every day for five days, was quite emotionally draining.

Anyway, I really want this trip to be less about me and my issues and more about enjoying my time at the orphanage, feeling less overwhelmed and enjoying fellowship with some awesome people. In fact, that is my mantra for this trip. "It is not about me, it's about them". And to get more "spiritual", I'll quote John 3:20, "He must increase, but I must decrease". WORD!

I am raising money to fund my trip to Haiti and it is really easy to give, just check out my gofundme.com page, Susan-in-Haiti! If you are of the budgeting kind, My final payment for this trip will be due the first week of November...about three weeks before we LEAVE FOR HAITI (Eeeekkkkkk!!!)...sorry, I had a moment of something there. Eek. This trip is less than 8 weeks away. Eek. Eek. Eek. LOL.

If you want to check out my previous posts about my first trip to Haiti check these links out:

Return From Haiti

Just Cry

Of course, more important than monetary support is PRAYER!! And lots of it. Pray that this trip is not about me, that I let people in and that I love greatly. And just...go.

Thanks for all of your support!!!!


A Year Of Biblical Womanhood!!!

ON SALE on Kindle RIGHT NOW, October 1, 2013. Go GRAB it!!!

I absolutely LOVED this book. It's funny and enlightening. I may not agree with everything in the book, but she doesn't ask the reader to agree with her. I found it quite entertaining. It's on Kindle right now for $2.99. Great  read.

 I think if you do a study like True Woman 101: Divine Design  (and yes, I have read it) this should be read along with because not everyone believes  or perceives biblical womanhood in the same manner, and personally, I don't want my life and beliefs to be pigeonholed into what one person's interpretation of scripture holds. I believe in the power of the holy spirit to guide and lead me and my marriage.

 And, well, I'm kinda passionate about that. So it's not that I am against other studies, I personally, just like a more comprehensive approach to studying the murkier issues facing women studies today. Let's look at this from both sides.

I have no idea how long this will be $2.99 so if you find this post after October 1, 2013 you missed the deal. Personally, I would buy it anyway. It's great.

Click HERE to see if it's still on sale.

Thoughts? (I hope I am not opening Pandora's box.....)

Hope For the Future

Have you ever wanted to repair something but didn't know how? Or knew that it was really out of your control  and as much as you wanted to fix a situation you just couldn't quite put the pieces together to do so? I feel this just about every day in dealing with my ADHD son. I want to figure him out. I want to understand all of his behaviors. I worry. I pray. I wonder. I question. But in the end I can't figure it out.

And then I just have to let go. I continue to pray, especially during the difficult times. It's just part of my faith and when I can truly let go and experience peace. Calling on God to take over, surrendering to the things in this life that are completely out of my control.

I'm reminded often to pray. I don't always do it, but man, when I do, nothing may actually change my circumstances, but it makes them bearable. Not that we don't have our moments. Sometimes those moments drive us to pray without ceasing. And I am convinced that my son's ADHD has a purpose. And one of those purposes it to remind me that I need God to carry me through.

When nothing else makes sense. Nothing is working. When I am doubting, feeling like a failure as a parent, and about to lose my mind I am gently reminded to pray.

And then I reminded. My son is going to be. just. fine.

I don't know what that looks like but I know he's amazing and complex and he's going to be fine. When I feel overwhelmed in today, that's when I have to think about the outcome and how he has so much going for him. We are doing everything possible to give him the best treatment, support and opportunities. Even though a lot of the times I feel like a discipline failure and allow those fears to creep in (what ifs will drive you crazy). I have to TRUST God. I have to TRUST myself and my husband. And I have to TRUST to process.

Each day holds failures and successes as a parent, but I have finally figured out that one, singular day does not decide the fate of my child. It's a compilation of many, many days and years that will develop him into the strong, Christian man of God I KNOW that he will become. And that is what I hold onto when I talk about the "outcome", the future. If I only looked at the day to day, man, some days would just be pretty ugly. And how often do I ignore the good days? Cause I know there are more good days than bad. It's just the bad ones can be so bad that it shadows the good days.

So I try and make a point in recognizing the good. Because that is where I find hope. And it is in those good days that I am reminded that the in the future he's going to be. just. fine.

Prayer. Surrender. Trust. Faith. Hope and whole lot of love. How can that go wrong? His life  may not be the picture that I wanted it to look like but it's not my picture to create. It's my son's picture. And I think he's pretty amazing.

And one day I'm going to look back and see how much the good and the bad shaped him into this incredible man of God who is creative and smart and independent and strong. And, maybe in the back of my mind, I will finally allow myself to consider that, yeah, I had a part in molding him into the man that he is and will become.

Wow. He's going to be just fine.

I Didn't Know It Would Be This Hard.

So, things have been a bit rough around here lately. I really don't know how much to get into letting everyone know our business. Let's just say that we have gotten off to a very rocky 2nd grade start. It looks like more and more our seven year old is having anxiety issues along with his ADHD symptoms. And as much as I love ADHD medications, and the positive difference that it makes in the quality of my child's life...I hate it at the same time. Because it turns my child into a somebody different. All for the sake of helping him pay attention at school.

If you are reading this, please do not send me ideas of how to get my kid off ADHD meds. What works for your kid, natural solutions, ideas or help. I am not asking for help or ideas. Not to be rude, but I just need to vent. And I need to vent with just a listening ear...I don't need words of wisdom. I just need support. We need support.

My love/hate relationship with ADHD medications started last year, well, really in Kindergarten. The meds  worked so well. My baby was a different kid. He was able to pay attention and stay in his seat. I told the teacher we were torn because we could see how differently our child acted because of this wonder drug. She encouraged me to keep him on it because of the positive changes in his school behavior. Not just academic, he was doing fine without meds academically, but self-esteem wise, having his name called out so much, all this negative attention, was not doing him any favors. Now he was blossoming. We were so happy with that. But, who is this kid who just sits there. Is moody? Gets temperamental at the drop of a hat and is now prone to meltdowns? This isn't our kid. Yes, he can pay attention in class and do his class work, but anytime we show up at school or throw off his schedule he shuts down.

The medication doesn't create all the negative behaviors for our boy. They just bring them out. Intensify them. They are there to begin with. The meds just make them worse. This we have learned. We saw them in him before the meds, they just weren't as obvious.

Now, we are in second grade, and because we changed his meds over the summer, more negative behaviors are showing up. HE isn't a behavior problem, no, everyone loves our boy. It's more internal than that. It's like he is his own worst enemy. Keeping all this stuff inside, the meds making it worse and it affecting his school life. So, now we are into multiple doctor appointments a week, parent-teacher conferences, daily emails to and from the guidance counselor. Not exactly what I expected my seven year old to deal with. It makes this mommy heart very sad. The guilt. The worry. The tension. The meltdowns. The comments from others who see my boy and say, "This isn't  like him?? What happened". Makes my heart cringe every. time. I just want him to be him.

But, I'm not just a mom. I am a mental health professional. I have significant experience in dealing with kids with ADHD (God has a sense of humor doesn't he?). I have been on the other side of this thing so often. Holding a parent's hand. Encouraging them to medicate. Saying what is best. I know the stats. I know the benefits and risks of medication. I know that even with the best support, not medicating him can lead to him self-medicating in the future. And by that, I mean ADHD kids are at increased risk of drug and alcohol abuse, or other addictive behaviors if their ADHD is left untreated. I know, personally, because I had ADHD and was undiagnosed until a few years ago and I struggle to this day with food. It is my drug. My self-medicating drug. No, my child will not have to go through what I went through. This I know. This I feel strongly about.

Now, it's us. And I now understand how all those parents felt. I had no idea. I could sympathize, but I really had no freaking idea the pain that is involved or the side effects. The changes. I, like the teachers and school staff, just had the child's best interest at heart, and even though there are side effects the the benefits far out weigh the risks...that's what I would tell them. hmmm. I really had no idea at all. But at the same time, medication alone is not the answer. This I know, also. There has to be a comprehensive plan, and we are doing that for our boy.

So, we are on the search for the "perfect" regimen. Ha. Like there is one. We are looking for the best way to treat this ADHD thing without making my son into a zombie or affecting his social skills, or inhibiting his best academic performance. * sigh*. There was a touch of sarcasm there in case you missed it.

It's been a rough couple of weeks. But today is a new day. A new trial. We are damned if we do, damned if we don't.

That's how I feel about right now. Now to get ready for yet another appointment. Waiting to see what kind of email I get from the Guidance Counselor today.

I'm choosing joy, though, because others go through a lot worse than we do. I know that. I hope my venting has not seemed trivial in light of what you and your family are going through. We all have struggles. We all have a burden to bear. I'm thankful for the education I have. And for the encouraging words of our pediatrician when she said I was the best advocate for my child.

Damn right I am. I just didn't expect it to be this hard.

Great Resource!

I started following ADDitude on facebook a while back after searching for some articles on ADHD. It is an amazing resource and I wanted to share it with my readers. I read most of their articles because I have ADHD and my son has also been diagnosed with ADHD. Of course, I had ADHD all along growing up and it was never diagnosed. I struggled. A lot. I don't want my son to have to go through all of that, at least not getting the help that he needs. My husband and I can ultimately decide the steps to help him and his treatment process. This magazine helps.

CLICK HERE to view their awesome website. The have a print magazine, web magazine, webinars, ebooks, etc. Big, helpful resource. I love it. I subscribe to their emails also. If you or a loved one in your life suffers from ADHD, whether inattentive, hyperactive or combined, you will love the information shared on this site!

Pass it on!

You're welcome.

Have a great Tuesday!!!!!!!!!!!

A Day In The Life...

I have officially lost it! Today I was headed out to run errands and could not find my keys anywhere. At one point, I had taken them out of the purse and gathered everything up and headed out the door, only to come back in to look at some coupons....well, then my ADHD kicked in (I like to call it multi-tasking). Not only was I looking through the coupon drawer, I also remembered that our vacuum needed a new filter. So I went to the drawer where we keep all our instruction booklets. I decided to take a picture of the vacuum instructions so that I would know exactly what filter to buy. Then I started thinking about where I could go to get the filter. Need filter - Go to Target - While at Target - get Starbucks. Mmmm...coffee. Ok, back to reality. While dreaming of the Starbucks drink I would get at Target I kept looking through the coupon drawer. Then I started going through all the expired coupons. Then I threw them away and I decided I could go. Except by then, I could not locate my keys. Why was I even going out? Oh yeah, coffee. ooh...but I also had to go to Kroger, even though I had just been there yesterday, because I always seem to forget at least one thing (imagine that). Man, it seems like I go to Kroger every day. ooh...and I also wanted to go to the Hendersonville Produce Market.

But I couldn't go anywhere until I found my keys...so for the next 15-20 minutes I look for my keys, everywhere. Twice. I did find the coupon I was looking for (it was on the kitchen table) but I was completely frustrated because my keys had disappeared. Finally, I get my husband's key and leave.

While I was running my errands, including Kroger, I tried to backtrack in my mind exactly where the last time I saw my keys. Then I remembered that before I left I was looking for a coupon. That's where my keys were, in the drawer where the coupons were. I got really excited. So I came in and went to the drawer and looked for my keys. No keys. Now I was faced with pulling the trash out and going through it to make sure I didn't throw them out there accidentally. Eww.

Must keep thinking.

Then, my one last and only hope, I decided to look in the drawer where the instruction booklets are kept...you remember, the vacuum filter, right?

Aaaand....there they were. Yep. The search was over.

I told Greg that I found my keys and where I had found them. I also told him that I was losing it.

Then I remembered that I had forgotten, once again, to pick up a certain item while at Kroger.

I rhetorically asked Greg why I keep forgetting to buy at least one from Kroger every time that I went.

He lovingly replied, "Because you're losing it?"

Yes. Yes, I am.

Oh, and I never made it to Target. I honestly never even gave it another thought once I left the house.
And that's my day...how was yours???

Four Ways To Survive Vacation With Kids

What is one of the most exhausting, exasperating and stressful thing I have done in this motherhood journey? You think I'm going to say childbirth, right? No, what I'm talking about is taking those beloved children on vacation.

Below are a few things I've learned about surviving vacation with small kids while creating memories and building traditions.

1) Keep it familiar. The past two years we have gone to the same city for a beach trip. This is great because the kids always know what they are going to do and what they want to do. It's familiar, and as long as the kids keep thinking it's fun, it can be a win-win.Hearing my son talk about where we were going to get ice cream, and the first restaurant he wanted to eat at made me smile  for probably an hour down the road.

2) Bring reinforcements.  Most of time this means grandparents tagging along and it usually works out great. Parents get a night out (or two, if you are lucky) and we don't get sick of each other by the third day.

3) Remember to be flexible. I know this is a given. We know it, but after 10 hours in a car watching Wreck It Ralph over and over along with eating crap food (there really is no other appropriate word for the stuff we eat on the road) my patience is shot. If everyone is in a bad mood, all the kids are going to remember was how crabby mom was, not how great fishing on the boardwalk was. Word.

4) Remember your favorite. One of the things we have started doing with our kids is asking them on the last night of vacation what each of their favorite part was. It actually makes all the hard work, organization and exhaustion worth it to hear your kids talking about what they loved about vacation.

A very laid back summer

I admit it. I have been a slacker. Since the second honeymoon/10 year anniversary trip with my hubby to Cancun I have been barely hanging on. We came back and I spoke the following weekend, kids got out of school the next week, the first week out of school there were no programs for the boys so we have been busy keeping two boys from killing themselves. Seriously.

I have thoroughly enjoyed the laid back schedule. My work, which is part-time anyway, slows down quite a bit in the summer. I have been sleeping in and getting lots of rest. I have to say it's pretty nice.

As it is with every summer, once the boys are home I have this overwhelming desire to implement structure. I can teach structure to other parents all day long, but if you come to my house you will see that it is definitely lacking. I have a kid with ADHD who would actually benefit from a more structured environment. I have a four year old who thinks he runs the world, and lets just say, he needs to be shown the benefit of discipline, whether he likes it or not. Mr. Four Year Old likes to think he is running the show, and all he has to do is flash those big blue eyes that have extra long lashes (that only boys who don't NEED long lashes seem to get) and he sticks out that bottom lip and he thinks he has you fooled. Mmmmhmmmm....

Anyway, back to structure. This time, I am determined to do it. I have everything bought (just like I did last year), I have the plan in my head, the clever charts, we even bought star stickers today. So, ask me in a week how that's going. No, seriously. Ask me.

I've done my ordering and I'm thinking through all my chore charts and household rules. How about you?? I love the freedom of summer, but there has to be balance.

And for me, that means I will forever be trying to implement more structure....even if it's only in my head!!! HA!!!!

Is God Good?

This is a post that goes along with my response to the Boston tragedy. Since then, we have seen horrific devastation and loss of life in Moore, OK. Because of this, it still bears questioning. Is God good? To read my post on Boston, click HERE

For me, when personal tragedies have happened in my life, it is during those times that I have wrestled with the goodness of God. What I have been through may not be anything like what you have been through, it doesn't mean we don't experience similar doubt. And the thing is I think doubt is good. I think it's normal. I think it is part of the process of growth. I believe He is good. If you question whether or not God is good, I believe it is a journey many of us have been on, will be on or have travelled through. And it's personal and unique to every individual.

If your heart cries out to know if God is good He will lead you to the "answers" you need. For me, this is often in creation, or reading about creation in the bible. Before we get all bent out of shape on theories of creation vs. evolution, all I am saying is, do you believe something bigger than you had something to do with this earth and why we are on it? You will never know all the answers, even with the best research, statistics, theories....sometimes you just have to go on faith. And what better way to go on faith than to look at the heavens and simply declare his majesty. It gets me. every. time.

 God can handle our questions. He knows when you are doubting him, angry at him and forsaking him. And he can handle it. He loves you. He sent his son to die for you. That is the ultimate peace for me. No matter what we experience here on earth, through my faith in Jesus Christ, I know that this world is temporary. And even though it is sometimes very, very scary and bad things happen, even loss of life, loss of those close to me, I cling to the hope that this life is temporary. And for that I am thankful. I was made for eternity. Not this life. My God is big enough, good enough and well, just plain ENOUGH. It means surrendering control, because we don't have control. It means realizing that life is a gift, it is short, and even my husband and children and any other family ARE NOT MINE. They are gifts from God.

Even with all the pain, doubt, fear, I go to His word and read about how BIG God is. And how he has always been and always will be. And then I rest. And I have peace. Because even if I don't understand everything (and that is part of surrendering to Who God Is) then I humble myself and thank God that I don't have to. And trust that He IS the Great I AM. And He's got it covered. Simple.

Yet we make it so difficult.

I don't say this flippantly. I am not saying I would not grieve or be hurt if something happened to my family. I would be devastated. I still don't understand why bad things happen to good people, but I know that God is good. And no matter what, I am glad that it is in His hands and not mine.  Eventually, even through great grief, I would hope and pray I could come through it trusting Him more by humbling myself and saying "I don't have all the answers, and even though I don't understand this, I am thankful I have someone SO BIG, Ever-present, and Perfect to cast on all my cares". I am never responsible for carrying that burden. Ever. And what would get me through it is that this life is simply a vapor. And some days, I will want my time on earth to literally be like a vapor. Other times, I will want it to last, be never ending, like a flame on a slow burning candle. But unless we have those days, seasons when that we wish we could escape, like a vapor, and vanish completely, we don't really learn to treasure the other seasons.The beautiful, warm, fun-filled, loved, and precious moments that God has allowed us to experience. A wedding, a birth, a love story. A success and even some failures. And let's not forget the miracles. We see so many miracles every day, but we seem to forget them when things aren't going our way.

My, how we would take them for granted. We would never get a taste of heaven. The more pain and loss that I have experienced has allowed me to see, touch and feel heaven so much more than if I had never experienced those things. And it is a hope. It is a peace. It is full of anticipation and the unknown.

He's God. He is good. He has always been. He will always be. He is never changing. And he chose me. Me. All of me, warts and all. And He would do it all over again, if He had to. That's why I keep coming back. Because no matter how long my journey away from God is, it is the simple truth and simple faith that keep me here and coming back for more.

He is forever faithful and I am forever thankful and humbled by that truth.

My Review of Bread and Wine

I am fortunate to be able to review books for booksneeze.com. Free books. What's not to love?

When I saw this book available on the booksneeze website I snatched it as quickly as I could. I had read on blog of someone else talking about it a few weeks ago. So, here we go.

Bread and Wine is written by Shauna Niequist. This is Shauna's third published work. I have not read any of her previous books but I am planning to as soon as I can get my hands on them.

There were so many things in this book that resonated with me. I think if you are a woman, and have gone through any kind of struggle (I mean, who hasn't?), it will resonate with you. It will especially resonate if you have body issues, food issues, and/or fertility issues....I have/had all three. So, I cried when I read the chapter entitled "Hunger", "Enough" and "Meeting Mac".

Along with the short chapters filled with meaningful vignettes that include emotional, painful, joyful and funny moments of Shauna's life,  we get recipes. Lovely, yummy recipes. Another thing I loved were the quotes added at the beginning of each chapter. After I finished reading this book, I wanted a crusty baguette, with some tasty, smooth cheese and a big glass of wine.

This book is full. Full of good food, warm words and meaning. This book makes you want to slow down and enjoy life with friends, with community. It will touch you and resonate with you on some level, even if you haven't gone through what Shauna has gone through. Her writing is easy, but it holds your attention.

I would recommend this book to anyone. I am already thinking about who I want to give copies to. It was great. You need to go out and get a copy.

Disclaimer:BookSneeze provided a complimentary copy of this book for review;opinions expressed are my own

New Look!

It was time to give the 'ol blog an update. I am getting back in the blogging groove after a fabulous vacay with my hubby earlier in May, spoke the second weekend in May and finished up school for my littles last week. I now have a second grader and my baby is in pre-K. Wha????

Now we are enjoying summer vacation, mixed in with a little work and a whole lot of sibling wrestling (okay, fighting) going on. Not sure I'm going to make it...or them. Seriously, two boys = constant. physical. interaction.

Has your summer started? I'm looking forward to Vacation Bible School, Summer Camp and anything else that is going to occupy my children! Ha! We have also been enjoying the fire pit before it gets too hot. It has been amazing and so has the marshmallows! Did you know four marshmallows only have 100 calories! Bring it!!! YUM!!!

What are you up to this summer? Any big plans? Keep me updated!!!!

Middle Tennessee Homeschool Education Association

My husband and I are about to fly out to Mexico for a week to celebrate our 10 year wedding anniversary! I can't believe it has been ten years already! We fly out Monday the 6th, so if we come to mind please say a prayer that childcare arrangements, travel and the trip overall would go smoothly and we can truly enjoy some much needed R & R.

I wanted to remind you that I will be speaking locally, in Nashville the week after we get back from our trip. I will be doing two break out sessions representing the National Center for Biblical Parenting you know, the people I have been talking A LOT about recently with their new book! (have you ordered yours yet? there is still time to get free stuff. Check it out HERE!).

For my local peeps I will be speaking at the Middle Tennessee Homeschool Education Association for their annual curriculum fair, held at the Tennessee Expo center (formerly called the Nashville Fairgrounds) May 17-18, 2013.. Friday, May 17th,  I will be speaking at 3:00 PM on Teaching Children to Follow instructions. On Saturday, May 18th, I will be speaking at 2:00 PM  on How To End Every Discipline Time with a Positive Conclusion.

It's good stuff! If you homeschool, or are thinking about homeschooling, this conference is the place for you. Hope to see you there!!!

For more information on the MTHEA Curriculum Fair and Expo...registration, costs, schedule, etc. click HERE

Buy The Christian Parenting Handbook NOW...get free stuff!

The time has come. Launch week for the new book from NCBP! The Christian Parenting Handbook is available NOW!!! This is the week that you want to order the book and when you do you get FREE STUFF!!! And it's GREAT FREE STUFF!

  • The Christian Parenting Handbook electronic versions for iPad, Kindle, Nook or any mobile device ($29.97)
  • Say Goodbye to Whining, Complaining, and Bad Attitudes, in You and Your Kids Lesson #1Complete Package including Lesson 1 on Video, MP3, Study Guide, and Children’s Lesson. ($59.95)
  • Say Goodbye to Whining, Complaining, and Bad Attitudes, in You and Your Kids Lesson #2Complete Package including Lesson 2 on Video, MP3, Study Guide, and Children’s Lesson. ($59.95)
  • Teach Kids to Listen and Follow Instructions on Video, Workbook, MP3, Study Guide, and Children’s Lesson. ($59.95)
  •  Correction Ideas that Touch the Heart on Video, Workbook, MP3, Study Guide, and Children’s Lesson. ($59.95)
  •  Addressing Bad Attitudes in Kids on Video, Workbook, MP3, Study Guide, and Children’s Lesson. ($59.95)
  • Everyday Parents CAN Raise Extraordinary Kids Session #1 on Video, MP3, Study Guide, and Children’s Lesson. ($59.95)
  • How to Use The Christian Parenting Handbook 30-minute Video ($24.95)

Click here to see how to participate in Launch Week! In order to make it to the New York Times Bestseller List, they need to sell approximately 10,000 + copies of the book during April 29 – May 5! Wouldn’t be fabulous to have a book that honors God on that list??? I say we do everything we can to help them make that happen!!

The Christian Parenting Handbook Is Almost Here!!!!!!

A couple of weeks ago I posted about the upcoming book launch of The Christian Parenting Handbook by Dr. Scott Turansky and Joanne Miller RN, BSN! It's actually available now, but don't buy it. Not yet, anyway. Keep reading to find out why.

I am blessed to be partnering with the National Center for Biblical Parenting (NCBP) to bring my readers all kinds of information and opportunities during this book's launch, April 29-May 5.
Inside this guidebook for parents are 50 biblically-based strategies for raising Godly kids. It is full of common sense, biblical and practical ideas that any parent can implement. I think every Christian family will want it in their home library or on their Kindle.

The official launch of this book is April 29th through May 5th. It is VERY important that you buy the book during launch week, so, while you could buy the book now, we want you to wait.
In fact, if you wait and buy the book between April 29 and May 5, The Center for Biblical Parenting will give you $400 in parenting resources absolutely FREE! How awesome is that? Click here to discover everything you will receive and how to go about claiming your gifts.
Honestly, that's all you have to do to end up with $400 in parenting resources!!!!
Now GO!!! Sign up  to participate in the book launch and to get all your free goodies and plan to  buy your book during launch week!!!! I know I am!!!
We will also be having a twitter party May 1st at 8 PM to spread the word even further! There will also be some cool prize giveaways during the party, so go to Twitter and follow @biblicalparent and look for the hashtag #heartparenting to learn more.
Whew! I think that is all....for now. I am excited??? Are you???

Surviving Boston

What can you say about a week like this week? Most of us are still reeling from the Boston Marathon bombings which occurred on Monday. Other tragedies have occurred this week also, explosions in Texas, poisoned letters sent to the President and I could go on.

By Tuesday, I recognized the amount of stress and anxiety the Boston bombing was starting to have on me. I watched the news just like everyone else, I am sure. But with every news story, the repetitive showing of the bombing site and the people falling. Hearing about blood and limbs and then finally, the fact that an eight year old boy was killed, I could sense more and more anxiety building up.

By Wednesday, the anxiety started manifesting itself. It began by good things, like prayer. Prayer for those that were injured, and families of those killed. It then moved into things that I could not control but felt really, really bad about. Specifically, the eight year old innocent child that was killed watching his dad finish a marathon. His mom and sister are critically injured. I have a seven year old and I started to think about him being killed. How would I get through that. Then I started getting jumpy. If Greg had a meeting and it went long and I didn't hear from him, I started thinking something tragic had happened. When I couldn't find Carter on Wednesday, at the house, I was in a near panic (ends up he was in the bathroom, ahem, an unusually long time).

That's when I stopped watching the news. That's when I evaluated why I was feeling this way. And I knew I probably wasn't the only one.

When things feel out of control, we want to control them. And when tragic things happen, even if it didn't happen to us or anyone that we know, we feel out of control. And when we can identify with someone in a close way, much like this family who lost their eight year old son, we desperately want control. We want to be able to do something, anything. And there's just not anything we can physically "do". And that's frustrating. And if it's out of our control, we begin to think "what if", what if something like this happened to my family....

And that is where the anxiety comes in, because we don't have control. 90% of things that happen to us are beyond our control. It's how we choose to respond to them that will determine how they affect us, not the actual event itself.

So, I figured other people were probably feeling like me and I wanted to pass the biggest way you can circumvent your anxiety during moments of national and even local crises.



First, I don't know if you realize it or not, but news sometimes really isn't news. It's sensationalized information that may or may not come out as actual fact. Think about it, initially how many things were initially "reported" that turned out not to be truth. Because people can access news from so many sources, news media have to do everything they can to get the "scoop".  So often there are things that are reported just for sensationalism purposes because the news reporters are encouraged to keep the attention of the viewers. Keep that in mind.

Second, even if you don't struggle with anxiety, stress or depression, watching traumatic events over and over will increase a sense of helplessness and lack of control that can suddenly increase anxiety symptoms. If you are suffering from anxiety or stress, watching those videos over and over can actually make your symptoms much worse.   ONCE YOU SEE A PICTURE OR A VIDEO OF A TRAUMATIC EVENT YOU CAN'T ERASE IT FROM YOUR MIND. And if you watch it over and over again, it can actually affect how you feel. You might not even realize how it is affecting you until it is too late. Friday night I actually got to see a snippet of an interview on our local news with a psychologist from  Vanderbilt and she spoke about the same thing. That focusing on this tragedy will increase stress and anxiety. (Kinda made me feel good, since I had already written this blog post and she was talking about the same thing....).

Finally, connecting with a traumatic event through similar backgrounds and lifestyles can makes something feel very close and real to your own family. I personally experienced that this week when I started seeing pictures of the little boy who was killed during the bombings. And when you watch their story unfold on TV, and as the week went on they started showing video of the 19 year old placing the bomb near the child, and spinning that tragic story, it just yanks at your emotions, heart, and well being. I was reminded again...turn the TV OFF!!!.  I have a seven year old, this boy was eight. I started thinking of the "what ifs". What if they had chosen a different spot. What if the dad had finished later. What if. What if. What if. Then I started thinking about MY what ifs. What if something happened here. What if something happened to my children. How would I feel if my child had been blown up. What would I do....

Well, as I tell clients, that's a really good way to go crazy. Viewing traumatic events over and over just feed our natural tendency to worry, feel out of control, and when you couple that with similarities with people who have been traumatized, a connection, if you will, it is difficult to separate the feeling that something could actually happen to YOU or YOUR family. And the likelihood of something like that happening is so, so very slim, that is is pointless to even allow it to enter your mind.

So I stopped. I realized what was happening and I turned the television off. I stopped watching news coverage. I didn't read the stories on facebook, I scrolled through pictures and videos quickly so as not to view them because what happened to these people, as tragic and horrible as it was, it was not helping anything in my life and my surroundings for me to make it personal. Because it wasn't personal. It was crazy. And crazy things happen. And we can't control crazy. And I wasn't going to allow the crazy to take over my life.

The best thing I could do was pray. I am a person of faith. I cling to that faith during times like these because, for me, it brings me peace. You may or may not be a person of faith. For me, knowing that something bigger than me is in ultimate control brings ultimate peace. I am safe. My husband is safe. My children are safe. Bad things may happen, but I believe that no matter what happens to us, I can trust that my faith will carry me through. Others struggle with this type of crisis of belief. How could God allow this horrific thing to happen. If God exists and if He is good, why do bad things, tragic things, traumatic things happen.

I will cover that in my next blog post.

Kidney Transplant Waiting...

This week I am deviating a little bit from my normal posts to hopefully raise awareness for those in Renal Failure, those with chronic kidney disease and in need of a kidney transplant. This hits very close to home for us. My dad, Lyndal, is in need of a kidney transplant.

This coming Sunday my family and are a participating in the National Kidney Foundation's Kidney walk in East  Tennessee. We are doing this to raise awareness of kidney disease (1 in 5 Americans have it) and to help the NKF raise funds to help those in kidney failure, people just like my dad.

This picture is of my dad and all of his grand kids, taken back in 2010. This is no small feat, and has only happened this once, since my nephew lives in Minnesota.

My dad has been suffering from kidney failure for a while now. We knew, eventually he would be put on dialysis. His kidneys are currently functioning at about a 15% level. He is very close to getting on dialysis, so close in fact, he already has the port in his arm ready to go at a moments notice in case he goes into complete kidney failure.

Currently, my sister and I are looking into becoming a living donor for my dad. My sister is much closer in this process than I and hopefully we will find out within a week or two if she gets the go ahead to be a living donor, so please say a prayer for our family. We are in the kidney transplant program at Vanderbilt and the statistics state that they turn down 50% of all living donor applicants. My sister has just finished a whole, heap o' testing and she was assured that if she "passes" she can know that she is in extremely excellent health and can give my dad the kidney he so desperately needs.

If you would like to help support us in helping my dad and many others suffering through this illness, please click HERE to see my support page, just click donate on the right hand side of the page. We are currently about halfway to our goal.

Thank you for your prayers and your support.

What Feeds Your Soul??

I was sitting in a group therapy session, as a participant, when I first heard this question asked.

What feeds your soul??

If you really think about it, it's not an easy question to answer. Sure, there are very easy superficial answers. Since I live in the South, deep in the bible belt, most people respond quickly with, "Why Jesus, of course! Jesus feeds my soul". Because that's the "right" answer. And we worry about what other people think so we go with the superficial, right answer rather than the true, gut-wrenching truth.

 Obviously, as a Christian, my focus and belief system turns to Jesus. And yes, reading my bible, praying, and going to church help feed my soul but some of my most draining experiences have been within the modern church. What I have learned from this is that I would rather just fall in love with Jesus with my whole heart and let him lead and guide me to Him...which usually leads to quiet meditation and spending time with him in His word...hello! He tells me where to do His work. Often, though, we view our relationship with Christ as "doing" He longs for relationship, the doing will follow after that. Often we want to do it the other way around.

"Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says....whoever continues in it--not forgetting what they have heard, but doing it, they will be blessed in what they do"
James 2:22,25

To me this passage says get with Jesus, read his word, listen and then follow and act on what you have heard. So often we act, act, act, do, do, do thinking this will get us closer to Jesus. It's really the other way around. Jesus will lead us where he wants us to go. I want to trust that process. It leads to peace and blessing.

So, not that I want to diminish Jesus, or faith, but we need to broaden our view on feeding our soul. It's deep, more complex, multi-faceted.

This week you need to focus on what really feeds your soul. When people would get stumped at this question, the therapist would ask, "what did you really enjoy doing as a child?" "What were you really good at and enjoyed in high school?" For some people they would answer dancing. Some, it would be a sport like basketball. The therapist would then encourage them to go play. Whatever resonates in the deepest part of their soul that is satisfying, playful and enjoyable.

And while reading and going to get a manicure are enjoyable, lets be honest. They truly don't feed the deepest part of your soul. Those are more of a distraction.

This week I want to really delve into the differences between distracting ourselves and truly investing in self-care.

A great handout that I received from another therapist  can be found at www.evelyntribole.com. Unfortunately, they come in a packet of all her worksheets and cost $129.00, so I want to source her for the information I am about to give from her worksheet, "Deconstructing Eating Behavior". I have a feeling that you probably don't want to spend $129.00 for this info, as good as it is! Evelyn Tribole is a Nutrition Therapist and I have been reading her book, "Intuitive Eating", that she co-authored with another Nutrition Therapist.

Even though she is talking about food, when we struggle with other issues (like depression or anxiety) we can still look at what is going on inside to figure out our actions on the outside. This worksheet gives a great description of the differences in true self-care and merely doing other things, which are helpful, but don't really get to the "gut" of the issue.

Here goes:
Distraction: Music, Internet (ie: Pinterest!!!), Watch funny movie, Go to a bookstore
Support: Call, text or email a friend, Talk with minister, Talk with therapist
Deal with Feeling Directly: Write in Journal, feelings app (I've talked about that previously), Reframe thoughts or feeling, Listen to music that matches feeling, Write a letter, Talk with Therapist
Self-care: Set limits, Respect self-vulnerability, "Alone" time, Sleep/rest, Write in Journal, Unplug phone, computer
*Tribole, Evelyn; Deconstructing Eating Behavior Worksheet; www.evelyntribole.com

For a minute just think about this list. And see where you could go with it. Figure out if what you have been doing is truly nurturing yourself (although doing all of these is nurturing to a point) or just distracting yourself from the true feeling. All of these things on this list are good. Some of them just go deeper than others.

I love music, I always have. Because music feeds my soul I listen to it a lot. In the car, in the mornings during quiet meditation, I put music in when I am stressed out. I listen to worship music to focus on my relationship with Christ. I listen to music when I'm working out. Music moves me. It feeds me and over the years I have discovered that I need to be a part of something musical in order for my soul to be filled.

One way that I use music to feed my soul is by taking guitar lessons.  I like to sing but have never mastered learning an instrument (me and the piano just don't get along). But, with the guitar, I have found that while it's not easy, it seems you make quicker progress than with the piano. I wish I had more time to practice and really hone the skill, but my teacher is great wants me to enjoy this process rather than being a real disciplinarian about it. He makes it fun. And for that I am thankful.
What feeds your soul?

Get back to that playful self you remember. For some that will be through becoming involved in a competitive sport. Others it will be taking dance classes, or putting in the Just Dance DVD once a week. Write. Pick up that musical instrument (if it brings you joy). Figure it out. Then be strong enough to follow  it through. Even if you are met with resistance.

Remember you are worth it. Do not feel guilty. Love yourself enough to set healthy limits. And let go. You cannot control it all. It is pointless, futile, frustrating and can lead to so many problems. Just learn to let it go and find joy.

Next week we will finish up on self care with a few relaxation techniques. However, I did find this great website with 25 ways to Self-Nurture. Check it out HERE!

Reflections On My Second BlissDom!!!!

I just got back from the best weekend. I am still exhausted and curled in the fetal position from all that socializing (which I learned was OK from Susan Cain, author of the New York Times Best Seller, Quiet) , but I had to recap my thoughts ASAP.

First off, BlissDom is a conference for women (a premier conference for women, according to the BlissDom website :) ) who choose to publish online. So, the majority of the conference helps women be the best blogger they can be. There are four tracks: Business, Writing, Photography, and Life Development.
I typically hang out in the Writing and Life Development tracks. I NEED the photography tracks because my photos suck (see below) LOL!, but it's not my passion so I have never attended a photo track...yet.

Annie Downs

BlissDom is the only social media conference I have ever attended, and this was just my second year, so I don't have a lot to compare it to, but overall, I think it is pure awesomeness!!!! It inspires, encourages and lifts me up. I am also very exhausted once it is over. This year it was held in Dallas, Texas at the Gaylord Texan ( a big BOO! for that since I live in middle Tennessee where the previous BlissDom's were held).
I have a group of friends that I generally hang with and make the weekend extra-spectacular. I truly believe going to BlissDom last year, was a gift from God. I have Ah-mazing women in my life now because of it. Most of those ladies were able to return to BlissDom this year, two of them actually speaking at the event. I really enjoyed hanging with my friend Tami, Sue, Michelle, and new friend Shannon. I briefly got to see Alli (one of the founders of BlissDom) and Dedra, who was part of our group last year, but she works the conference so we got to see her in-between her breaks, which were few and far between.

So, here are my top four take aways from a great conference.

1) The speakers. I heard Jon Acuff, Tami Heim, and Annie Downs. I heard a few others here and there but these are the three that stood out to me. I was challenged, inspired and moved by all three for three very different reasons. Jon kicked our butts into gear about getting things done (instead of wasting time). Tami taught us leadership skills and helped us find out what our inner strengths are. And Annie, Annie inspired me and pushed me to write with authenticity and realness. I like to do that anyway, but she really encouraged stepping out of your comfort zone and talk about the things you know you need to be writing about, and sometimes they might be the things you don't want to write about, but people need to hear.
My friend, Tami Heim speaking on leadership skills

Good stuff.

2) Community. Overall, everyone is super friendly at the conference. There are plenty of opportunities to meet and mingle, pass out business cards, talk about your blog, etc. There is just a fun spirit at BlissDom and plenty of opportunities to get to know other people without feeling like you are networking all the time.

3) The Free stuff . Each day of the conference there were kick-offs, happy hours, give aways at the sponsors and multiple vendors booths which were all centrally located. I still haven't gotten over the fact that I DIDN'T win the free mattress at the National Sleep Foundations room, but hey, I learned about how to get a good night's sleep and if I had gotten there early enough, I could have signed up for a free manicure.

4) FUN!!!!! We had Girls Night Out, Girls Night In, all paid for by sponsors. We had music, dancing and some had drinks. We were able to tweet to help fight child hunger in America while we were being serenaded by Chris Mann and we had yummy dinner and dessert given to us by Con-Agra foods.
Here is a picture of me with a minion. They were promoting the new Despicable Me 2 movie...

They even had free boxes and shipping for BlissDom participants to ship all their free swag home without having to go over the weight limit of their bag at the airport. SWEET!!!!!

So, next year when you hear me talking about Blissdom, and you are involved in social media, blogging, writing, etc. in any way, then you better get your ticket and be there.

I'm keeping my fingers crossed that it comes back to Tennessee where it belongs. Other than that, I hope Blissdom never changes.

The Three B's....

This week we are continuing our talk on self-care. As a mom, who works part time and is very involved in her church, I realize, just as you do how easy it is to become tired, drained and even depressed by all the responsibilities women have on them in this day and age. The past few weeks we have defined self-care. We have talked about setting healthy boundaries. Today, I want to share the truth about women and self-care.

The truth is that women know that self-care is important. That if they make time for themselves they will be happier, more rested and have happier family lives. In fact, I would imagine that if you asked any women about the benefits of self-care they would agree that it would be a great thing to do.

However, according to a study that the people at Suave did a few years ago, partnered with a sociology professor, Dr. Katherine Gerson from NYU, stated that 80% of moms did not spend any time on self-care, even though 93% of those moms reported that they felt better when they took the time to take care of themselves.


Even though 76% of women reported that felt happier and more attractive when they took care of themselves and 72 % felt more self confident the statistic shows that even though women KNOW that it is beneficial, 80% just. don't. do. it.


66% reported that GUILT is one of the primary barriers.


Just let me shoot it to you straight ladies. Guilt, when delivered to ourselves, is generally nothing but self-condemnation disguised as something that is beneficial. In other words we feel like we should feel guilty. We're mom's, right? Mom stands for "guilt". Leaving kids behind, going to work, dropping them off at the nursery, not knowing every discipline technique. Blah, Blah, blah. And it doesn't matter if you are a stay at home mom or a working mom, there is guilt. Am I spending too much time with my kids, are my kids getting enough socialization?? Blah, blah, blah. It is so easy to make yourself feel guilty, it is very easy to allow others to make you feel guilty. It is very easy take on guilt. It can become a part of you. You start apologizing frequently. You get in the habit of self-doubt. You don't know when to say yes to something or no. You are paralyzed in fear. That is what misguided guilt can do.

 We are wrongly judging ourselves. We are our own worst enemy. Guilt has it's place. We were born with a conscience, the ability to know right from wrong. When we do something wrong, we feel guilty. When you are a mom and you have to make a tough decision, it is natural to feel guilty. But if you find yourself continually beating yourself up over those decisions it has moved beyond guilt and into shame (self-condemnation). That is why I talked about how having good personal and professional boundaries are so important. Someone who is balanced with themselves and know how to balance themselves with others experience less self-condemnation.

So how do I get rid of the guilt and start doing the things I know that are good for me?

1. Boundaries. We have already covered this in a previous post, but it is so absolutely connected to laying guilt aside and being the confident woman that God has created you to be. It has amazingly, wonderful positive consequences when implemented.

2. Balance. Closely tied to boundaries, having a balanced life means understanding that you can't have it all and you just have to know when to let things go. Balance means having confidence in your decisions, even when it hurts. You may have to go to that meeting and miss a special family dinner. Or, you may be able to tell your boss that you must leave at 4:30 in order to make your daughters ballet performance. It means knowing when to say "no" to that extra responsibility at church. And generally being OK with the hard decisions you have to make. Trusting yourself when you make the hard decisions that you are being healthy, realistic and doing the best that you can.

3. Blend. As a therapist, one of the things I teach my clients is the power of being flexible and not being so black and white. Having more gray areas in their life. People who have the ability to see things from both sides without judgement have more positive thinking. People who see things very black and white tend to have more negative thinking. We call this "all or nothing thinking". And many of us (me included) make assumptions in our thinking instead of asking questions and using communication to clarify what they think they are seeing or feeling. Then, people take on those assumptions as truth. If a person does this enough, research shows us that we can actually get into the habit of thinking negatively and believing those thoughts as truth. The professional term for this is "stinkin thinkin". :-) The best solution to "all or nothing thinking" is to learn to ask questions and use positive self-talk instead of just automatically believing everything you think.

Ultimately, it is up to each of us to take responsibility for our feelings and how we process those feelings and thoughts about ourselves. I am hoping that by having this discussion and giving you a little insight into HOW to stop the guilt that you can take the steps in moving forward and stop the negative feelings and whatever else that is keeping you from being the best that you can be .

 Sometimes just starting with accepting ourselves, loving ourselves and reminding ourselves how much we are loved and why we are here will be the first and best step in making small, positive changes.

See how great a love the Father has bestowed upon us, that we should be called children of God; and such we are. For this reason the world does not know us, because it did not know Him.
I John 3:1

Hmmm....maybe that is truly the first step in taking care of ourselves, believing that we are WORTH the TLC we deserve.

for more info on the Suave studay, this is the best one I could find in a pinch that explained best. ARTICLE

Christian Parenting Handbook Book Launch!

I am excited to share information about a new parenting book releasing in April. I will be sharing more information as the time draw nears but I wanted to share this promo video with you this week.

This book may be new, but Scott Turansky and Joanne Miller are hardly new on the parenting book scene. I am honored and proud to be a representative of the National Center for Biblical Parenting, which was started by Scott and Joanne. They present different parenting seminars, have written numerous books on parenting. Have a FABULOUS website, with so many different books, seminars, practical tips and simple solutions to common parenting issues. And you can access a lot of their tips, articles, etc. for free on their website, www.biblicalparenting.org! A few years ago they started training representatives to help them spread the message on heart-based parenting. That's how I got to know them. In 2007 I was trained in their Parenting is Heart Work seminar. Since then I have spoken at churches, conferences and trainings representing NCBP. I am very thankful for this opportunity to be part of this new book launch.

Now, Scott and Joanne are coming out with a book with 50 strategies for every stage of your child's life entitled, Christian Parenting Handbook. And it is biblically based, like all of their other material.

Here is a short video clip telling you more. Something to whet your appetite, so to speak. Stay tuned! Click below.

For more information go to www.christianparentinghandbook.com

Hope Does Not Disappoint (even when we do)

The stomach virus has struck our household this week, both boys down. I hope your week has been much less eventful.

I am posting a video that my friend, Cindy Landham sent me earlier in the week. Cindy is a Heath and Wellness coach and I had the privilege to be a part of one of her classes not too long ago. To learn more about Cindy, click HERE.

To preface this video and how it pertains to our discussion on Boundaries the past couple of weeks, I wanted to share that change is hard. Often, it is the most difficult part of any recovery, even lack of boundaries. It's hard work. Know that you will go two steps forward and one step back. You may even "give up" only to return because there is something inside of you urging you on. So you try again. Each time you try, whether you are dealing with boundary issues, eating issues, or addiction issues, know that you are one step closer to reaching your goal. All steps are progress no matter how slow. The only time you truly fail at something is when you permanently give up, never trying again.

I'll just be transparent here. I struggle with food. To say I struggle with my weight is an understatement. I have and do feel like a failure. I have given up. I have also gone forward. I have definitely taken two (or four) steps back.... however, I am going forward in this journey right now. The reason I like this video is that it is inspiring. My friend Cindy sent it because she believes in inspiration. She believes in me and all her Liberated Eating participants/graduates.

This video speaks of hope. It has empirical research to back it up. It speaks to our conversation surrounding boundaries but it can also speak to any struggle. Toward the end of the video, it also speaks to parents dealing with raising independent kids, a subject I touched on in another post not too long ago. If you want to check it out, click HERE.

Hope is the vital piece of the puzzle that keeps us going when we want to give up. Hope allows us to keep going, even when it is difficult to believe. When we have no hope, we give up. So whatever you are dealing with, my prayer is that you will watch this video and leave with hope and inspiration. I sure did.

 A key line in the video that I don't want you to miss is:

"Hope is not how we feel. It's how we think. And it's 100% teachable". - Brene Brown, PH.D.

...and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us. Romans 5:5 NAS

My prayer for you is that whatever you are struggling in, whether it be learning new boundaries, controlling your temper, adding patience, or struggling with addiction, that you leave this page with hope. THE HOPE that never disappoints. Never lets us down. Amen!


This week we will be talking about boundaries and how that ties in to self-care. Last week we discussed how the mind plays a huge part in how we take care of ourselves. How we think and respond to life around us has a huge impact on our stress level and ability to deal with stress. And life is stressful. Even if things are going well, just dealing with modern technology and the speed at which we live is extremely draining. Add in a few life "bumps" and well, it doesn't take long before our emotional bank has hit empty.

How do having good boundaries help in this area? Why is this even connected to self-care? Later on in the blog I will share Margaret Feinberg's personal experience with learning Boundaries as she shared in her recent book, Wonderstruck.

First, let's define boundaries. I'm going to be using info from primarily two or three books, which I will include a reference to at the end of this blog.

Boundaries is defined by Merriam-Webster dictionary as:

 A line that marks the limits of an area. A dividing line.

Other sources define boundaries as a symbolic line in the sand: Something that indicates a border or limit

 Or one of my favorites, is using the symbol of a circle. This is found in the book, Boundaries: Where You End and I Begin by Anne Katherine, M.A. In the book, which is primarily used with people who have suffered sexual abuse sometime in their life, they have an exercise at the end of chapter one. You are in the middle of a circle and everything that you love, believe, feel, want, desire, hate, is in that circle. You decide what is in the circle and you decide what is outside the circle. If you do not have good boundaries, then that circle really doesn't exist. If you don't have a strong sense of self, you are going to allow things in that circle that a person with healthy boundaries would not allow in.

This is a specific exercise that I do with people in a session. I have had some people have extreme difficulty completing this exercise. The have almost no sense of self, or who they are. I have had others have no difficulty naming their values, beliefs, what they love and what they hate and what they want in that circle.

 In the book, Boundaries, by Cloud and Townsend, they explain in detail how having healthy boundaries are not only biblical,  but necessary. Without appropriate boundaries we can become very angry or bitter. Some of us may have great professional boundaries while our personal boundaries are a wreck, or vice versa. We may be saying "yes" to things we need to say "no" too. We may be avoiding things we need to say "yes" too. In this book, the authors specifically address why we get angry or feel frustrated when we have misplaced boundaries. I highly recommend reading this book, going through the study, or doing the workbook on your own or with a friend or counselor.

I wanted to share with you a great example of learning about boundaries.  In Margaret Feinberg's new book, Wonderstruck.  Margaret spends a chapter on a time in her life when she was essentially, depressed, emotionally drained, exhausted. She had a difficult time getting out of bed. Really had no desire for the things that she had previously. Margaret wisely sought out a christian counselor in her area. Margaret was amazed to find out that she needed help with boundaries. She thought she had a great boundaries, but what she needed was to balance out her life. Over time, and going through Cloud and Townsend's book and videos, she learned that she was saying "yes" to way too many things without considering how this was affecting her personal life.

And if you think you have Boundaries, well, Margaret had read it TWICE. Her counselor called her on her lack of application to anything in the book. And I think that's what happens to a lot of people. Just because you read something once, or even twice, does not mean you have it mastered. You have merely scratched the surface.

This is what Margaret learned about Boundaries, or lack thereof, excerpt from her book, Wonderstruck; chapter 4: A Sanctuary in Time:

"The pace of life became a place of torment. My life was a smoking treadmill I'd been running on at level ten speed at an incline of ten since childhood...freedom wasn't found in tossing the treadmill, but in discovering a maintainable pace".

Through several counseling sessions and a lot of hard work and homework, Margaret began to take responsibility for her life:

"The pace of my life was my making, and only I could undo it. The grassy meadows and still waters described in the Twenty-third Psalm awaited, but I had to choose to answer the invitation of the Good Shepherd".

Margaret goes on to share how she and her husband "committed to realigning their lives". They changed their work schedule, meal times, added exercise and they found themselves "more rested and fully present". Change doesn't happen over night and Margaret talks about swinging too far into extremes shortly after her new lifestyle change. That is very normal. When learning something new and life changing you can expect mistakes and extremes until you get the flow down. I think this can be applied to many areas of our lives.

 When I came across this chapter in the book I literally cheered. I applaud Margaret's transparency, I mean, it takes a lot to admit that you needed counseling. Hopefully, it will help expel the myth that counseling if only for people who are really "messed up", or just for people who are going through a crisis. Finding a good counselor who can look into your life with neutrality is key. Why not be proactive and go ahead and dig into those issues that you see appearing and reappearing in your life over and over and work on that so that you can be the best that you can be.

 You can rest all you want, have snippets of down time, do things for yourself, but without proper boundaries you will always be emptying your emotional bank before it can get filled. As difficult as it is to learn and implement boundaries, you have to figure out your world, your circle, and what fits in it and what doesn't in order to be the most whole, complete person you can be. THAT is why it is so important in the total art of self-care.

I hope today you can start working on your boundaries...I don't know ANYONE who couldn't benefit from further exploration in this area. And that includes ME!!!!

I am meditating on this passage of scripture this week:

The law of the Lord is perfect, reviving the soul; the testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple; the precepts of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart; the commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes; the fear of the Lord is clean, enduring forever; the rules of the Lord are true, and righteous altogether. More to be desired are they than gold, even more fine gold; sweeter also than honey and drippings of the honeycomb. Moreover, by them is your servant warned; in keeping them there is great reward.
Psalm 19:7-11

The Lord gave laws as boundaries. Boundaries are important to God. He has put them there for our own good. To keep us whole. To keep us healthy. But we have to choose to follow him and his laws. I don't know about you but I want the above!! Doesn't mean everything goes your way, but you take responsibility for what is yours and leave the rest to God. You can trust him. He created boundaries for our good.

Have a blessed week!!!

MInd and Body, It's All Connected....

What do you think of when you read the above title?

Last week I began with an introduction to women taking care of themselves. I don't know any female client that I see that we don't go over self-care and how they keep balance in this insane, sometimes chaotic whirlwind we call LIFE. There is enough research that shows that stress inside the body comes out in various, unhealthy ways if we do not learn how to manage it.

Self-care is the art of nurturing yourself. Taking care of not only your body, but also your mind. It goes way deeper than that, but today I want to talk about the importance of how your mind plays a huge role in how you feel about yourself, how you respond to stress and ways that you can start improving how you look at yourself and how you look at life.

This is why self-care is more than just scheduling time for yourself, or finding an extra-curricular activity you enjoy. It's the total package. And scheduling time for yourself is an important part of taking care of yourself, but it's a whole lot easier to do those things when you truly believe that you are worth it. See how the mind plays a role in that?

If you start with the inside, it will be easier to put into habit the wonderful extraneous stuff that also feeds your soul, such as that regularly scheduled massage. But a lot of good it will do to feed your soul by getting a massage, taking a bubble bath or getting a manicure if you still think negative things about why you are doing them. Or if you feel guilt or shame for carving out time for yourself (which is just another form of negativity) and "stinking thinking", which I will go into in a moment.

First, the mind....

I did a quick search on bible passages (and I mean quick) and found over 37 verses about renewing our mind.. Here are a couple of my favorites.

Romans 12:1-2 ESV  
I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.

2 Corinthians 4:16 ESV    
So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day.

I don't know about you, but it is very easy for me to get stuck in "stinking thinking". And a healthy person can see that pattern and generally turn it around. Sometimes, life events happen that make it very difficult to pull ourselves out of negative thinking. If you struggle with depression or even anxiety, your mind is often not filled with good things. This is also known as the "critical self".

Oh yeah, we are our own worst enemy.

For as he thinks in his heart, so is he. Proverbs 23:7

Women who know how to nurture themselves generally don't have a habit of negative thinking. She is able to reason within her heart what is good and what is bad (Philippians 4:8). It doesn't mean she doesn't ever have a negative thought or wallow in a bad mood now and then. But overall, a woman who knows how to take care of herself knows what she needs, gets those needs met appropriately, and renews her mind on. good. things.

So how do I renew my mind?

The best place to start is just to be aware of how you think. Don't try and change anything, but maybe keep a journal for a week or two about what you are thinking about each day. For people with severe depression and anxiety, therapists often get them to complete a "mood chart" each day. A client recently informed me that there is actually an app for your smart phone you can add that will track your daily mood. Yep. They have an app for that! HERE is a link for more info on that app, appropriately titled, "Moody Me".
Once we see how we are thinking then we can work on changing it. It is amazing once women start doing this they can see how much "stinking thinking" they have allowed in. Poor communication, making assumptions, all or nothing thinking....all of these types of thinking (and lots more) affect our mood, our stress levels and ultimately, our interactions with others in a negative way.

There is an awesome book by David D. Burns, MD that you can get HERE called The Feeling Good Handbook. It. Is. Amazing. And it can go much further in depth than I can with teaching you how to renew your mind (and improve your mood, communication and interactions with others).

We are not done with talking about the mind, but that is all for today. Your homework this week, if you choose to accept it...is to keep a journal of your thoughts, your moods, and how that played a role in how you interacted with others. Put it all in there, the good , bad and the ugly. You are the only one that is going to be looking at it. If you find a lot of negative stuff in there, then get Dr. Burns book. And tune in here next time as we go further with mindfulness and the role it plays in taking care of YOU!!!

It starts in the mind.

Have a great week!!!