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Wednesday, April 30, 2014

What started as a sentimental birthday post

Has turned into...holy cow. How did we ever survive without digital images?!

Aj was born in 2001. 
I did not own a cell phone.
Or a digital camera.

I spent a lot of days at the store picking up a few cute pictures of my baby and many dark, out of focus, caught-you-in-the-middle-of-a-blink pictures.

So putting together a blog post complete with pictures of my boy growing up? Ya. It involves going through old albums, taking pictures of a picture with my phone, emailing it to my email, uploading it to my blog and there you have it.

So, hours later, I'm not even close to done. 
This post will have to wait until tomorrow.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Pray for Jana

Sometimes life just moves along, and you just sort of move along with it.

Other times? You get side-swiped by something totally and completely unexpected.
Something that you read about, and grieve about for other people, but never for yourself.

My sister Melanie recently shared with me about her husbands cousin, Jana.

Jana is 15 years old. Her and her family were just moving along with life, when suddenly they were side-swiped by something totally and completely unexpected.

Jana was having back pain last summer and around Christmas she started having face paralysis on one side of her face. 
After some tests they found that she had a tumor on her spine
The Doctors said they thought for sure it was not cancerous. 
So she went in for surgery to have it removed and that is when the doctor explained that he did NOT remove a neurofibroma, but something that resembled malignant tissue. 
This is when they found out that it was cancerous.  

Jana's mom shared about the results: "Jana has a Malignant Peripheral Nerve Sheath Tumor located on the L3 Spine.  We consulted with Dr. Jennifer Elster (Oncologist), she told us that the actual tumor itself isn't the main problem, it's the location of that tumor.  Dr. Gump (our Neurosurgeon) removed 95% of the tumor and said that the remaining amount could NOT be removed without damaging the nerve and the spinal chord.  So the challenge we have is to deal with this tumor non-surgically. "

They have found more spots up by her neck. They are not sure (without a biopsy) if they are malignant, but are treating them as that...so she has been undergoing very strong proton radiation the past two weeks.

***this is their biggest prayer during the radiation....

"We are praying specifically during radiation that the beams would kill the cancer cells and that God would protect everything else surrounding those areas."

She goes 5 days a week for the radiation. It's over a 2 hour drive each way. 

Life going along normally?
Not even close.
As a mother, even typing these words and thinking about what this family is going through absolutely breaks my heart.

I wanted to share Jana's story for a couple of reasons.
One reason is because I am amazed and challenged as I watch this family go through such painful struggles with such a great hope. 
Their hope is not in thinking positive thoughts, or wishing good things.
Their hope clearly lies in their relationship with a loving Heavenly Father.
This is the foundation of their lives and they are showing that with each and every step that they are taking.
Her mom wrote this today:

The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still." This word from our God has spoken so deeply to our family. Jana led us to this verse and it continues to strengthen, comfort, and give us peace. A friend who continually encourages me sent these words to me: "Thinking of how still she must be" (during radiation) and how He (the Lord) urges for that stillness in His sweet verse (Exodus 14:14) for her...His job is to heal...Her job is to be still. He will equip her. She's in His ever caring hands." Please pray for the cancer to be killed and everything else to be protected by His ever caring hands 

I am challenged and I knew you would be challenged to trust our Father that much.

The second reason is because prayer works.
I mean for real.
God's Word is truth.
Everything in it.
HE says that the fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.
HE says that the prayer of faith will heal the one who is sick.

I believe that with everything in me.
God is Jehovah Rapha - The God who heals.
It is His very name. His character. Who He is.
He is a healer. And He is mighty to save.

Will you pray for Jana?
Will you take a minute to pray for peace and strength for her and her family?
Will you pray for the doctors to have wisdom in treating her?
Will you stop what you are doing right now and beg God to heal sweet Jana?

This family is strong. Their foundation is secure. Their hope is real. Their God is faithful.
But they are human. And they have feelings and emotions and struggles and pain.
And it is through times like these, that God wants for us to rise up around His children and cover them in prayer. 
He wants us to pray when they can not utter words.
He wants us to love. to support. to give when they have nothing left to give.
We can be His hands and feet. 
Will you join me in committing to pray and support this family?

You can follow her journey here and like her Facebook prayer page here.
You can instagram #pray4jana

God is mighty to save.
He is mighty to save.

Monday, April 28, 2014

Mommy Monday ~ Teaching your kids how to choose their friends

I've said it a million times...

Do not be deceived. Bad company corrupts good character.

It is a verse that we have painted on the wall at The Porch, and we have said over and over to the teenagers that come in.
I have taken kids aside and said look...I think you're an awesome kid. I really do. But if you choose to hang out with _________? I am not going to give you the benefit of the doubt if something goes wrong.

You are choosing to take on the reputation of the person you spend time with.

The Bible gives a ton of verses that help us teach our kids the importance of choosing friends.
Proverbs 22:24 says ~
Do not befriend angry people, or associate with hot-tempered people.

There are other verses that talk about the importance of who you spend your time with.

This is a concept that is extremely important to teach to our kids, even at a very early age.
You can be teaching your 5-year-old to be careful that she still controls her emotions if she is spending time with someone who is having temper tantrums.
While we don't want to teach our kids to be judgmental, we still need to teach them the influence that other people have on them!
And it sure is easy to see that played out after a day spent with a particularly whiny child (or tv show! haha!) am I right?!

When I have started teaching this early in my kids lives, it makes it easier when I am talking to my 13-year-old about kids on his soccer team, or other kids that he meets...it's all just reinforcing what we have been teaching since he was little!

But here's where it gets really hard.

These things apply to you too, mom.

Who are you spending the most time with?
Are your friends building you up? or tearing you down.
Are they constantly negative? or do they find the positive to talk about.
Are they dreaming big? or are they happy with living a luke-warm, status quo life.

Don't even think for one second that their attitudes and lifestyle are not affecting you.
Do not be deceived.

This applies in so many areas of life...
You have to think about this same thing when you are running a business.
We run a non profit, and we have to be really thoughtful when it comes to who we decide to have on our team of leaders.
We don't need people who are going to be lacking faith and not willing to work.
Eventually, even if we think we are strong enough, they are going to rub off on us.

So take a minute right now and think about who you are spending the most time with.
Do you need to make any changes?
It's pretty hard to teach your kids to choose their friend wisely if we aren't taking the time to make sure we are doing the same thing.

*Sit down with your kids and have them make a list of character qualities that they think are important to have in themselves.
*Have them write down the qualities that they think are important to have in a friend.
*Then have them look over those positive qualities and think of the friends that show them the most!
*Being careful not to judge (we all obviously have faults and should not be expected to be perfect!) see if they might have any friends they should spend less time with.

Having them sit down and list out what they think is important makes the whole process easier! It is not just you complaining about their friends, it is them starting to take responsibility for their choices!
It allows them to see plainly what they should be looking for, and what is going to be helpful or harmful for them.

I think it is so vital to teach our kids this important discipline, and sadly, I think it is a very easy discipline to neglect teaching!
Let's be intentional about who our kids are spending time with! It may very well save us a lot of grief in the future!

Do not be deceived.
Bad company corrupts good character.

Learn it. Know it. Teach it. Live it.

Friday, April 25, 2014

And liiiiike stuff like thatttttttt!

Competition and the comparison game is everywhere, I get it.
I never really noticed it as much as I do now that I have more connections with such a large group of people in the photography industry.

But, I don't think you really even see where I'm going with this, because being in the photography industry has somehow gotten me in the middle of a bunch of other different creative industries, and that is where I see it as well.

And I think what surprises me the most is when people who are Christians are the very ones caught up in this whole game.

It shows itself mostly in instagram posts or Facebook statuses.

It's all like...
Here's me and my awesome friend _(fill in "celebrity" name here)__
And then they're all....sellffiiieeeeeee!
And then it's "liked" 257 times because we are all just so amazed by the fact that YOU are friends with HER and like OMG I am like sooo totally jealllouuusss???
And liiike stuff like thatttt.

And the funny thing is, 95 percent of the rest of the world doesn't even have a clue who your celebrity even is, and yet you have somehow reached Queen-of-the-world status in your mind because of it.

And I want to be all... Dude. I am like bff's with JESUS CHRIST!

And I would totally like, do a selllfieeee, if it were, like, humanly possible????

Can I get a what what??

I wish that we didn't play the favoritism game, because that is not the way God created us.
I love the fact that the people mentioned in the Bible are basically nobodies!

Ya know Rahab? Her story is found in the book of Joshua, and she was literally known as
Rahab the prostitute.

I bet nobody was all about getting selfies with her!
But God thought she was important enough to put in the Bible!

And I could go on and on with similar stories of people who we wouldn't have been bragging about being friends with, or teaming up with for a project, or having dinner with....yet God thought they were valuable enough to have them written in a Book that would last forever.

I have found myself, many times, feeling that feeling of - hmmm...I guess I'm just not cool enough for that person any more.
And I gotta tell ya. It's not a good feeling.

And I really and truly hope that I never make anyone feel that same way.

Everyone is valuable.
No, I seriously mean it....everyone is valuable.
And not one more than the other.

I could start a list right here and right now of incredible people that God has given me the privilege to know who are absolutely amazing, yet if I put a picture of us up together on instagram?
Most people wouldn't even know who they were.
Does that make them less valuable?
Absolutely not.

Christians? We know better than to be acting this way.

The reason that we are in whatever industry we are in is because of one thing...


And do you know what He has to say about it?

He says - Let not the wise man boast in his wisdom. Let not the mighty man boast in his might. Let not the rich man boast in his riches. But let him who boasts, boast in this
that he understands and knows me.

Do you get that? The only thing I have the right to boast over is that I know God!
And it's more than just saying - oh, all of this is His! or, I am so humbled. or, Thank God.
So whatever project I come up with, however much money I make...It's all because of God.

The really profound, totally mature, not 12-year-oldish way to say it?


It's not about you!
It's not even about how great you are because you realize it's not about you!

It's just not about you.
Plain and simple.

I hope that you can take an honest look at yourself for a second and make sure that the way you are living is showing everyone that it's not about you.
That you are not building yourself because you "know someone"
That you are not missing out on good, solid friendships with real people because you think you are better than them.
That you have an understanding of the value that you have because God created you that way!

And I hope I can say the same about myself.
Sometimes it takes work! Some people are harder to love than others.

But what was that I said before?
Oh ya...

Everyone is valuable.

So like, the next time you see meeee???
You should like totalllyyyyy get a pic with meeeee so we can totes instagram it, obvs, and like everyone??? is gonna be all....whattttt?? You know her?????

But for reals. We should be treating everyone like we feel privileged because we know them.

Word to your mother.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Looking for writers to guest blog

Have you ever read my blog and thought...duh! 

I could totally write that!

Well, I bet you could!
And I would love to hear from you!

I have a pretty good following with a wide variety of committed readers and I just know that you have a lot to offer, and I could learn a lot from you!

I am currently looking for writers to guest blog for me on a variety of topics including:

*Biblical parenting
*Running a business (photography or other)
*Keeping your faith strong while in high school
*Keeping your faith strong while in college
*How to use sarcasm in every day life 
*How ice cream should be implemented in every meal

Ok. Maybe the last couple were jokes, but really.
If you have something you have been dying to share and you think it would go along with my general style of writing and topics?
I would love to hear from you!

Please fill out a basic submission form here, and I will get back to you if I think that you are a good fit for my blog!

Looking forward to hearing from all of you!

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Hoping for college scholarships

I have been watching these boys of mine play soccer since they were 2 years old.
The funny thing is, it never ever gets old.
I just love it.
Both boys had tournaments this weekend. AJ's was on Friday where it was a brisk 40 degrees with a  brutal wind chill. Riley's was a little warmer 60 degrees with a strong wind chill.
At AJ's game I was literally sitting on the bleachers shivering. 
At Riley's game I was sitting on the turf soaking in the sun.
So weird, this NH weather!

The boys play indoor during the cold months, and outdoor when it gets nice.
Between both boys schedules, it can get a little crazy...but we're hoping for college scholarships!
Ha! Just kidding...kind of.

And they have to be 2 of the cutest boys you've ever seen on a soccer field!

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

When there is not a because in your story line

I love finding little things in the Bible that I never realized before.
I wrote about finding the words "so that" and just recently, I've been kind of excited about reading the word because.

So many times we have to go through life, through trials, through pain...and we have no idea why.
We also can get to the point where we are having good things happen and we don't really know why then either!

I did a little research and came up with a bunch of different times that God specifically says His reasoning. 
Because let me just tell you something. 
You have to understand my God!
He does not leave us alone. He loves us, and there are many times we CAN see why things happen!
Not all the time. No.
But sometimes.
Here are a few examples from the Bible:

And all these blessings shall come upon you and overtake you, because you obey the voice of the Lord your God

Because you did not serve the Lord your God with joy and gladness of heart, for the abundance of everything, therefore you shall serve your enemies

Now the Lord was with Jehoshaphat, because he walked in the former ways of his father David

He delivered me because He delighted in me

By this I know that You are well pleased with me, Because my enemy does not triumph over me.

Because I live, you will live also.

But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ.

I just love that about God.
He tells us why he does things. Why he blesses us. Why we need to be disciplined.

It's just amazing. The way God takes time to care about us so much. 
So if you are struggling right now and you just don't understand why.
Spend some time waiting on God. Finding out about His character, how He works, how He moves. Do your own searches (this is a great website to use) You may be able to find out a little bit more about the why.

And if you don't see the why? 
(because many times we may never see it while we're on earth.) 
Just trust.
Believe that God never goes back on His promises.
And even if you don't have a because in your story line? 
Know that He has a reason. He has a plan, and it is always. always. for your good!

Monday, April 21, 2014

Mommy Monday ~ When you're so tired

When you are a mom, being tired is basically relative.
It's like...time is not stopping for anyone, and you better just try and keep up!

There are all different kinds of tired.
Right now, at the phase I'm in, not getting a lot of sleep is not where I'm at.
But...I remember it clear as day, oh yes I do.
Getting 5 hours of interrupted sleep for weeks on end became normal and you just went with it!

But then there is physical tiredness, from just running around everywhere.
And there is emotional tiredness (is tiredness a word? Because it's not getting auto-corrected so I am going with it! ha!)

Regardless of the phase of life you are in...whether you are up in the night getting bottles and pacifiers, or if you are running back and forth from this practice, to that event, or dealing with friend issues, and self esteem problems, you have to just get used to the fact this is where you are for a reason.

You have to understand the fact that God is completely aware of your stage of life, and He is right there with you through all of it.

Tonight, as I was limping to my computer at 10:15 to help AJ finish up his paper for school tomorrow morning, Riley looked at me and said - Mom, satan is really testing you right now!

Oh Ry. You are so blunt and straight to the point.
He's right!
It's all a test!
How am I going to respond when I blow a fuse (reason #1047 to NEVER iron!) in our bedroom. Go to Lowe's to get new glass fuses (yep, we are that cool) buy a stellar flash light (that the cashier assures me comes with batteries, because my head hurts so bad I can barely even handle the fluorescent lights) only to find out when you get home that the fuse doesn't fix the problem, (looks like a romantic candlelit evening when Adam gets home from reffing at midnight) the flashlight didn't come with batteries, (of course it didn't.) and my headache hasn't gone away?

Am I going to snap at my kids? (maybe I started to...a little)
Am I going to yell out in frustration (possibly)
Or am I just going to trust.
Trust that God has it all under control. (I am now!)
He made me a mom in the first place and He knows that I can handle what He's given me.

You're a mom!
You don't get a break, but it's ok!
Some people say it's not a rewarding job? But I think it is the most rewarding job!
When AJ walks up to me and hugs me, and Riley tells me he loves me...
it's all I need.

And ya know what?
All you moms reading this? You are shaking your head, because you know!
You know something no one who is not a momma can even comprehend.
Because our kids are gifts...treasures.
The best treasures there could ever be.
And in spite of the craziness of life, you can do it!

I know you can, because you have to! 
And looking at those babies (whether you are rocking them right now, or looking up to them) is all you need to make it all worth it.
All those sleepless nights, those crying fits, those sick days, those stressful moments...
it's all worth it.

So I know. I know what it's like to be tired in every way possible.
But when you're so tired.
Just keep holding on.
The night will end
The morning will come.
The sun will rise.
God will be faithful...
He promises. And He can't go back on His Word!

Keep holding on sweet momma!
Hold on to those treasures with everything you have!
You got this.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

The reason I'm not inviting you to my Easter service

I've never actually quite understood it.

The girls frilly dresses. The boys suits and ties.
The importance of sitting in a seat for a one hour service, one day out of the year.

See, to me? Easter Sunday is literally like every other Sunday of my life.
It's getting up in the morning, getting the kids ready, and heading to church.

I'm not trying to sound insensitive or blasphemous to the meaning of Easter.
Easter is a big deal. The biggest of deals there could ever, ever be.
Easter means that I serve a God who is alive, as opposed to holding on to hopes of a god who is dead.
Easter means that I don't have to work anymore, or try to be good enough to get to heaven...
Jesus paying the debt that I owed covered it all.
Every thing I deserved to pay? He paid.
Easter means I have eternal life, hope, peace, satisfaction, and JOY.

But if you are just going to sit in a service because you think that is what people are supposed to do?
You are totally and completely missing the point.
It's not a show, people! It's not an act.

It's real life.

It's life that says I can not believe someone would actually love me enough to pay a debt that was clearly and totally mine to pay.
It's a life that says I can not even begin to understand the amount of love that Jesus has for me...little, old me.
I have done nothing to deserve it, and I have messed up way more times than I can count.
But still.
Still. He loves me.
He loves me because He created me, and He not only wants to pay the debt I owe?
He wants a relationship with me!
He want to help me get through my life.
Through the pains, through the struggles and through the joy!

And so the reason I'm not inviting you to my Easter service?

Is because I think maybe it's time you put down those dresses and suits and ties.
I think maybe it's time to stop doing a ritual to try and relieve your guilt.
I think maybe it's time to stop putting on an act.
I think maybe it's time to stop acting like you have it all together, when the truth is, none of us do!
I think maybe it's time you stopped trying to fool yourself into believing that you don't need anyone.

Until you stop believing that you can do it all on your own, you will never see the love of a Savior who says that He will do it all for you.

I mean, who are you trying to kid anyways? You know you can't do life on your own!
It's just too hard. 
Sure, you can work hard. You can believe in yourself and you can fight your way through.
But if you want to be able to do all of that and not have to take that pill every morning, or those drinks every night? You gotta get a hold of what Jesus offers.

So you heard me right. 

I'm not inviting you to my Easter service tomorrow.

But I am inviting you to my church service next Sunday.
I'll be at the same place, wearing what I normally wear, singing what I normally sing.
Because this is real life.
And much more than a church service? 
I am inviting you to stop what you are doing and consider a relationship with Jesus.
I am inviting you to come to the end of yourself and just consider that there's another way to live.

Whatever you were waiting for? Stop waiting.
Whatever you were trying to fix and get right first? Stop trying to fix it.

Just come exactly how you are.
Imperfect...just like the rest of us.

This will be a decision you will never, ever regret.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Spring Mini Sessions and a Mother's Day Giveaway!

It's finallllyyyyy Spring here.
Well, you wouldn't really know it today with the 42 degree weather and a pretty crazy wind chill.
But still. The snow is gone, and we are moving on!

I am excited to be offering mini sessions this Saturday, April 26th.
I love the chance I get to spend time with so many different families in one day and just pound out a bunch of sessions all at the same time!

Also, because Mother's Day is coming up and you just know you want to get a perfect gift for your wife, I am helping you out by doing a giveaway.
You're welcome.

You have to share my picture on facebook to be entered to win!
(You can also tweet or instagram it if you aren't on facebook much!)
And even if you don't win? Don't you think your wife would love a mini session?!

Because I put SO much energy into all my shoots I don't like to book myself too full for each day.
I do have a few spots still open though, so hit me up and we will get your session booked!

Happy weekend!

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Surge Teen Leadership Conference 2014

I am so incredibly excited to have other visionaries join me in offering a teen leadership conference!
We are still getting all the details together, but I already know that God is going to do amazing things as teenagers from New England come together and get fired up about being godly leaders in their schools!

A lot of the details are still in the works, but I am just too excited not to share it!

It will be held in August and will be located in Southern New Hampshire.
Just to give you a little idea of what the purpose is:

What it’s about.
This conference is designed to empower christian teenagers from the New England area who are
serious about their relationship with Jesus.
It will give them a chance to network with other like-minded teens, learn from godly leaders,
and make purposeful strategies on ways they can be used to change the world.

We will have specific workshops on how to share Christ on your sports team, how to start a Bible Study, and many others.

If you know a teenager who may be interested in the Surge Conference, please have them contact me here.

Getting all these world turners together in one place?
Ya. It's gonna be pretty awesome.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

It's more

It's more than just making dinner.
It's that feeling when it's 4:00 and I realize I still haven't planned out our meal...again.

It's more than just needing to lose 10 pounds.
It's that feeling when I put another cookie in my mouth even though I know I will feel bad after.

It's more than just opening Facebook.
It's that feeling of comparison popping up even though I'm trying not to compare my life with hers.

Life is tricky, my friends, and unfortunately I am surrounded by people who are trying to convince me that it's not. 
I'm surrounded by people trying to convince me through their instagrams, status updates and brand new jeans that they have it all together.
And what does having it all together even really mean?
I mean. Does it mean you are happy all the time?
Content with everything you have?
Confident in your friendships?
Satisfied with your weight, your looks and your accomplishments?
Does it mean you don't even have to try?

Because me? I have to try. Hard.
Some days I am feeling pretty good about everything.
About my life. My family. My friends. My things.
And then there are all the other days. The days I'm feeling like I am the worst mom ever. 
Like everyone is against me. 
Like how can I not just control myself enough to stop walking by the darn bag of cookies and shoving them in my face.

And I have to think it's not just me.
I am not alone in my thoughts. Because the bottom line is, we are all exactly the same.
Sure. We have different personalities, different likes and dislikes, different worlds.
But we were created the same.

We were created to be dependent in a world that is screaming at us to be independent.

I was created to be dependent on God. And so were you, bro.

Whenever I start thinking that I am Good enough. Strong enough. Smart enough...I start to get prideful.
And pride is the root issue of just about everything.

My feelings of accomplishments...as if I had anything at all to do with the mind I was given.
My feelings of success...as if I had anything at all to do with the resources I was given.

And that is when I have to just stop.
Stop thinking, actually.
And just realize that there is more.
More than my accomplishments, and more than my lack of accomplishments.

It's all about God. 
It's all about what he thinks about me. 
So stop.
Stop caring about what your pinterest board says about you.
Stop caring about what you think your scale is saying your worth is.

Stop thinking that you're nothing. 
Because you're something.

And stop thinking that you're something.
When the only reason you are is because God made you that way.

He values you.
And that, my friend, is so much more important than any. Other. Thing.
It's more. More important that you believe that one fact than anything else in the world. 

Read it.
Believe it.
Feel it.
Live it.

Up in the night

It's been a rough few days. Have I said that yet?
Please don't mistake my announcing the news of my life with complaining.
Complaining drives me crazy, and I am not trying to be a complainer.

What is going on: My back has been really bad since Sunday night, and my headaches not much better. (Adam is blaming both on stress)
This morning I was woken up at 2:30 by poor Ry who wasn't feeling well.
I got him a drink, had him go back to bed and rubbed his back until he fell asleep.
Then at 3:30 he woke me up again. This time it seemed a little more urgent, and sure enough...
He got sick.
So we spent the rest of the night/morning in the living room together. (not the best sleeping arrangement for an old crippled lady! ha!)

So it's just one more thing. But it's ok.
It's what is going on in our lives right now, and we know that God doesn't allow anything to get to us without his permission first.
So we are ok with that.
We also are very, very well aware that the enemy is threatened by us. 
So instead of complaining, we are taking it as a compliment.
I got a lot done, ministry-wise yesterday. And I will continue to do the same today.

We are up in the night, But we are focused.
I spent a good portion of the night praying for specific families from our town.
By name. 
Praying for their finances, for their marriages, for their kids, for their relationship with God.

It's all about focusing on the finish line.
It's a race, people. A hard one!

But we're up for it. We gotta stay hydrated, stay encouraged, and just keep pressing on.

Big things are happening around here. And I am talking big things. I can feel it...I can feel a revival happening, and I am going to be energized, and ready for it when it comes!
But this time, I'm hoping my prayer time can be at 7 in the morning, not 4. ha!

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Giving you the what for.

I need to go to Bible Pre-school.

Seriously. It's like I need to be reminded of simple things now, like...
Do to others as you would have them do to you. 
Think about things that are true.

And the crazy thing is, I already know all of these things, but it is allowing myself to remember them that is giving me the hardest time.

I just got off the phone with one of my best friends.
I know she must really, really love me because I call it how it is whenever we talk, and she's still my friend.
She knows that when she calls me, I am gonna give her the what for.
I don't think anyone has time for friends who complain with them.
I don't think anyone has time for friends who husband bash with them.
I don't think anyone has time for friends who jump in their mud puddles with them and whine.
I just. don't.

The kinds of friends I make time for are the ones who remind me how I need to be acting...even when it hurts like a banshee.
I got a text this week from a friend that said - Make the right choices with your thoughts, girl.
Do you know what it could have said? - Can you believe she did that to you? You don't deserve that...
and on and on and on it could have gone. IF I had made time for that kind of a friend.

Sometimes we just need people who love us to give us the what for.
To remind us of what we need to remember.

So tonight, I am giving you the what for.
Whatever is going on in your life right now, you need to remember the truth about what love is.
The kind of love that has literally nothing at all to do with a feeling.
Trust me. The times I need to show love the most is usually the times I feel it the least.
So here it is. God's definition of love:

Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. 
It does not demand its own way. 
It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged.  
It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.

How are you measuring up?
Are you acting irritable? Are you demanding your own way in something? Are you keeping record after record of the times you were wronged?
It's not gonna make you feel any better if you are doing any of that. Believe that.

Here's me giving you the what for.
Remember the kind of love God has for us.
And go out and treat other people the same way...especially the ones you don't feel like showing it to!

And invest in friendships with people who are going to help you grow.
Not ones who are going to drag you down.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Mommy Monday ~ 5 things every parent needs to remember

1 . Your kids are not your own. They were given to you as a gift from God and it is a privilege to have every second you have with them. Don't raise them begrudgingly. Don't complain about your time with them. Don't be constantly waiting for their current stage to be over so you can get to the next one. Enjoy every minute of this stage.

2. Your kids don't take your mistakes as hard as you do. For real. So many times you are beating yourself up over something that they don't even remember you doing.  If you just lost it and yelled at your 3-year-old? Chances are they are not going to remember it by the time they are 10. Apologize when you need to, and always keep communication open. Then - give yourself a little bit of a break!

3. Your kids need need you to laugh. And I mean just really laugh. Laughter is contagious. It makes you smile even if you don't want to. Let them hear you laugh a lot.
I get it...life is serious. Pain is serious. But life is also full of joy if you look for it. Don't confuse them into believing that once you are an adult you don't have time to just laugh and enjoy life.
Did you read that? Enjoy life. Period.
Just take the time to enjoy your life for crying out loud! Especially when you are with your family. Show them your loud, obnoxious, snorting laugh. It will make everything a little more fun.

4. Your kids need to know that you are not perfect, and that you are aware of that. No one appreciates an arrogant person who acts like they never do anything wrong. Admit when you make mistakes. Be ready to say you are sorry. Teach your kids humility by acting humble. You are not fooling them anyways, so your humility will go a long way.

5. Your kids want rules. I know, I know. They are not going to say it now. They may not even understand many of them now, but remember something...

Boundaries with love create protection, security and strength for your kids. 

If you are giving your kids rules with an explanation of your why, they are going to appreciate it...even if it's not until later in life.
If you give them rules because you're on a power trip? Not so much.
Know your reasons for your rules, and be ready to stay firm in those rules. Your kids need that, and it will make them secure and show them how loved they are.

Now... I could come up with much more than 5 things that would be helpful for parents to remember!
But I thought I would just give 5 simple ones that will make your home run a lot more smoothly.
Try putting these into practice this week, and see what a difference it will make.
And then record yourself laughing obnoxiously and send it to me so I can laugh too!
Happy Parenting!

Friday, April 11, 2014

The way Adam rolled circa 1994

Back in 1994, my boyfriend was playing soccer and basketball for his high school.
He was also part of a select singing group.
He then played soccer for a travel team in the summer and basketball for AAU.

But more than that.
He was coming home at night and reading his Bible. 
All the way through. 
Twice a year.
I just found one of Adam's old Bibles and saw (in his tiny little handwriting) the dates above each chapter he was reading at the time.

It literally stopped me in my tracks, because something hit me.

I am reaping the benefits of the decisions he was making as a 17-year-old.

I'm sure he wasn't thinking...I should be reading my Bible so I can grow to be a godly man and support my wife and kids.
I mean, what 17-year-old thinks that way?

That. Right there. Is one of the things that drives me to invest in the lives of teenagers.
Maybe. Just maybe, if I encourage one teenager to get serious in their relationship with God.
And if I encourage them to keep reading their Bible, and making God a priority?
There could be an entire family who can reap the benefits of those choices.
See...most teens don't think about their decisions affecting anyone else but themselves.
I said most.
But not all.
Not Adam.
He saw the importance of developing godly character at an early age, making it easier to keep it up as he got older, and as he started raising his family.

So the way Adam rolled circa 1994 was pretty awesome.
And I think every 17-year-old should roll the exact same way.

If you are reading this and you are a teenager?
Think about this:
The choices you make today are going to affect many people's lives in the future. 

Be a teenager of character. Your family will thank you later.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Ain't nothin gonna get me down.

It's been a stressful and very emotionally draining couple of weeks, so I was very thankful to wake up to blue skies and sunshine today!
I was also thankful to wake up to a husband who was joyful and at peace...exactly what I have been praying for him through everything.
And to top it off, there was only 1 inch of water in the basement instead of 4! It's the little things, right?

Ain't nothin gonna get me down!

Since we finally got some warmer weather, I forced the boys to have a picnic lunch.
Ha...It's pretty much like, I-make-the-food-so-you-do-what-I-say kinda deal.
They were good sports even though the sun was super bright!

Two of the best parts of Spring are about to be blooming! Tulips and lilacs - can't wait!

So thankful for a husband who wants to serve God no matter the cost.
And I am also so blessed to have 2 boys who look up to, and respect their dad for that very reason.
It was a good day.
Because God is good. Always.

Wednesday, April 09, 2014

Keeping quiet when you want to talk

Sometimes I want to say exactly what I'm thinking.
Who am I kidding....ALL the time I want to say exactly what I'm thinking!

I have already typed words on this blank page in front of me and then had to delete them.
Because I like to keep it real, I have shared my past hurts from people who called themselves friends.
I have put myself out there because I like for people to feel like they can relate to me.
Like they are not alone, and I like to remind them that they can get through.

See the thing is, I know that I will always get through. I have no doubt. I know that God is the one who gives me the strength I need.
Even though I believe that with everything in me, I still have struggles.
I still struggle trusting people.
I have a hard time believing peoples words compared to their actions.
It can just feel like too much already! Let downs, disappointments, not understanding.
Sometimes pain for myself, sometimes pain for other people.
I have difficulty controlling my thoughts that just run crazy in my head even as I read my Bible.
You would think that would be one time I could have some peace and quiet, right?
But no. My head still thinks it's time to rant and cry out even as I sit in front of the most stable,
life-changing, peace-giving book on earth.

And so I want to talk.
I want to talk about it all.
I want people to be on my side. Have my back. Hold my trust. Hear my case.
But I can't get very far without the book of Proverbs, I Peter, and many others grabbing ahold of my shoulders, shaking me and reminding me of what I need:

*Let no corrupt communication come out of your mouth.
*If you want to enjoy life and see many happy days, keep your tongue from speaking evil.
*Even a fool is considered wise when he keeps silent, discerning when he seals his lips.
*When there are many words, sin is unavoidable, but the one who controls his lips is wise.

Psalm 141:3 says it best when it calls it how it is...
Set a guard, O Lord, over my mouth; keep watch over the doors of my lips.

Keeping quiet when you want to talk.

It starts with my heart, and taking those thoughts captive.
Then I have to ask God to please put a big, strong, mighty guard in front of my mouth.
A guard that will not allow anything to enter the world where people hear and can be affected by my words.
(*please note that there is no side note here that says we are allowed to say things about people that are not edifying to our husbands, our sisters or our closest friends. Keep your mouth shut. period.)

Easier said than done my friends.
Especially if you feel like you need to defend yourself.
Still. Who is in control? Me? or God?

And so then. I will say these verses over and over. And then over and over again.
And again. And yep, you got it...again.
And not stop. Because I am afraid that if I stop saying the verses? I will say something else.

God's Word rules.
And it has to rule my heart, my thoughts and my words.

So no matter the insults. No matter the hardships. No matter the persecutions or calamities.
When I am weak, Then I am strong.
The power of Christ in me.

But of course...I'm the only one who has this problem, right?

Tuesday, April 08, 2014

Rachelle Chase Photography ~ Emmi turns 2!

I am not lying when I say that I have the cutest nieces you ever did see.
My niece Emmi turned 2 a couple weeks ago so we did a quick session with her and a few with her big sister Lilla!

Here are a few of my favorites!

Monday, April 07, 2014

Mommy Monday ~ Our children are in danger

If I had the time tonight, and if we were just sitting down over coffee...me and you.
I would tell story after story, time after time of how God has answered prayers in the lives of my family and my children in particular.
It started with the very night AJ was born.
My labor and delivery were not going at all how they portrayed it would go on TLC's          The Baby Story!
His heart rate was dropping rapidly and I didn't even realize until long after the danger that his life was in. 
It was right before we found out about this that Adam called the church to try and get in touch with my Dad. AWANA was going on at the time, and all the leaders from church stopped everything and prayed for AJ. For me. 
AJ "just happened" to be brought into this world right as people were praying.
He was born healthy and strong.
Coincidence? Not a stinking chance, my friends.

God is powerful. He is also personal. 
He wants to hear us cry to him, and He loves to bless us.

I believe with every ounce of my being that the prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective. I believe it because God says it.
I also believe that because it is so powerful, it is dangerous for my enemy. 
And it is because of this that I face major opposition when I decide to make prayer a priority.

Moms and Dads.
Please listen to what I am saying right now to you. 

Our children are in danger.

If I told you that there was someone coming after your kids to try and destroy their lives, how would that make you feel? Would you carry on as usual? Would you say...oh they can run fast, and they took a kickboxing class that one time, so they should be all set.
Or would it push you to action? Would it make you protect a little bit more. Prepare them a little bit harder, and beg God to protect and watch over them?

Our children are in danger.

Our kids do have an enemy coming after them (like a roaring lion) trying to attack and kill them. 
Did you know that the Bible says satan wants to steal, kill and destroy?
Did you know that he has your babies in his sights?
Did you know that what he wants to steal is not their legos or video games, but their joy. Their peace. Their purity. Their future.
Did you also know that he is a master deceiver? So we need to be more alert. More purposeful. More intentional about where our kids are. What they are watching, what they are listening to, and where they are going.
Do you even realize how much is at stake here?
Their very lives, and the lives of generations to come.
We are the keepers of these children as long as God allows them to be with us.
What are we doing about the enemy?
What are you doing about the enemy?

See, our kids think that what they are doing is no big deal.
The pornography they see on instagram a million times a day,
smoking pot a few times here and there,
drinking with their friends,
sleeping with their boyfriend or girlfriend...
They don't see the long term effects of these things-
That's why we need to be stepping in. Being involved and warning them of the dangers.

We need to be crying out. Pouring out our hearts like water to our loving Father.
I love how the Bible words it here...

Lamentations 2:19
"Arise, cry out in the night...pour out your hearts like water to the Lord. Lift up your hands to Him for the lives of your children..."

The NLT puts it:
"Rise during the night and cry out. Pour out your hearts like water to the Lord. Lift up your hands to Him in prayer pleading for your children..."

This is serious stuff here.
I pray over my boys every single night after they go to sleep.
I pray for purity. for courage. for strength. for leadership. for joy.
Sometimes I am on my knees pleading. Sometimes I am praying scripture over them.

Ephesians 1 and Colossians 1 both have great prayers to pray over your kids.

Are you crying out in the night for your kids? 
Believing that God will answer?  He says He will.
Our kids need us to fight for them. 
Our kids need us to pour out our hearts for them.
It's our job. How are you doing with that?

You know what else? Some kids don't have mommas who are crying out to God for them.
The kids I know? Don't have their mommas doing anything at all for them...and it breaks my heart.

That's where we come into play. 
We can fill in.
I have a list of boys that I am lifting up and pouring my heart to the Lord for because I know their parents aren't doing it.

Maybe that's what God wants you to do.
To fill in where other parents aren't doing what they need to be doing.

Moms and Dads. 
Our children are in danger. But there is something we can do about it!
Please, please take seriously what is in front of our faces.
Cry out. Plead and beg that God will protect our children. 
Ask God to give them the courage they need to face the pressures all around them.

The prayer of a righteous person does make a difference.
Live it out.
Pour out your hearts.

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