03 December 2013


I had just situated myself in bed after a long day to do a little Cyber Monday shopping while watching tv. It was almost a quarter to nine last night when my husband's cell phone rang. I glanced over only to see that it said "No Caller ID".  I assumed it was no one worthy of my time so I ignored it. Just after my husband entered the room, I heard his phone "ding" that there was a voicemail and I informed him of the call that I had ignored. He reaches for the phone and proceeds to playback the voicemail. It was from a teacher. We weren't expecting one of our oldest son's teachers to call.

I have so many friends (or at least it appears that way by looking at my Facebook wall around report card time) who have children who are honor roll students, top of the class, gifted and/or popular. My children, despite my best efforts, do not compare to that level of academia. For a long time, I'd wish and pray that they could  be as successful in school. After all, I couldn't brag about their straight D's. I was happy if they avoided an E.

In middle school, teachers do not have the time to contact each parent. If you receive a call from one at almost 9pm, it's not a good sign. I listened in on the message bracing myself for what she may have to say only to find out it was GOOD NEWS!!! She praised him for making significant improvements in class over a period of two weeks. She went on to explain how he had begun to separate himself from the other students that would distract him in class. The changes prompted the teacher to speak to his guidance counselor who informed her that he was choosing to make it a goal to improve in this particular class.

What prompted him two week ago? Our Family ID. One of the final lessons is to brainstorm and write out individual goals for each family member. We had discussed it over dinner one night. I sat with my pad and pencil jotting down everyone's suggestions along with my own. The boys had just received their report cards and we made specific goals for the next marking period. We had also made goals on the character traits we wanted to see them possess.

What I didn't realize was the profound effect it would have on them. In the past, I've made countless personal goal posters and have always failed to accomplish them. Despite that, I believe in setting goals and striving for it. My family has watched this cycle over and over. Setting goals on a bigger scale to include the whole family was a first. Because they had seen me do it before, it wasn't foreign to them. They were willing subjects.

Prior to this study, "No Caller ID" was what identified our family. We were mindlessly sailing along. We had something to tell the world but have been ignored just as I disregarded the phone call last night. We wanted our children to possess certain traits and progress academically, emotionally and spiritually. We wanted to strengthen and improve our marriage and ourselves. We did not have a plan. We were formless and void of producing quality fruit.

As Habakkuk 2:2 mentions, we must write out our plans and make them plain. There must have been power in that statement. The changes that have occurred in my children recently would attest to that. I did not realize it until the phone call last night.

What identifies your family? Do you feel like you're aimlessly wandering? Feel free to discuss below.

13 November 2013


When we began the journey into the Family ID small group curriculum with our life group, there were no warning signs posted at the door or caution stickers affixed to the workbook to show us that there would be huge hurdles in this lesson plan. We began carrying out the lessons each week and completing our homework assignments towards this family vision and gravitating from idea to action. It has been the most invasive of all the studies we've done. It will cause you to dislike your comfort zone and no longer desire your current circumstances. You will want to change your family's course of life for the better!

Sounds doable, right? Not too hard. Until the enemy comes to thwart your efforts. My last post gave a small glimpse at some of what the enemy had plotted against us to derail our efforts and to plant seeds of doubt.

The enemy is quite slick at making us focus on the actions of what the other person is doing. We allow ourselves to become his puppets if we don't arm ourselves daily with God's Word and his protection through prayer. We don't realize this enemy is pulling the strings to engineer his crafty scheme. The ultimate goal for him is to derail what we as a couple are working towards.

Palm to face. Facepalm.

The attacks began as soon as we verbalized what we were willing to step up and do! We did not see the true impact and nature of what we agreed to. I'm sure many who are called into ministry can attest to far greater trials and tests than what we've encountered.

As my husband and I discussed with our great friends what led to the pitfalls over the past 2 weeks (and so many times long ago in our marriage), I did that facepalm motion.

We have all had these moments in life. When we are in the midst of a storm, we can't see through the rain. Once the rain clears, the clouds dissipate and the sun comes out, we can see a clearer picture. I realized all the above last night. It was more than my husband not catering to my needs. It was more than my emotions getting the best of me. It was a test to see if we were made of the stuff necessary for the next level in our marriage and in our purpose. The heat and pressure was applied and our pot boiled over.

Hmmmm, ok.
       Lesson learned.

Like the wise elders leading the young valiant hero in one of those classic stories, our great friends continued on in the conversation to warn us this would happen again. Not if, but when. What?No sugar coating? Darn. Ok, I guess we must prepare for battle. For you see, we have been called to be a peculiar people. To BE WEIRD!

Have you been fighting and struggling in your marriage? Perhaps it's because you aren't willing to settle for average in our society of normal? Don't give up. Be encouraged. It may seem grim. It may seem bleak. Get counseling. Kneel down and pray together. Don't allow the enemy to sneak in and kill the thing God blessed you with.

07 November 2013

Birthday Do-Over

I love making people feel special. Serving is my love language. I love helping them celebrate, especially my own family. When it comes around to my turn on the birthday wheel, it seems to fall short. Even Mother's Day is less than spectacular.

Now, I don't require a lavish, grand ballroom-scaled celebration but I expect a halt on sibling quarrels and husband screaming at said quarrelling teens. I always hear from mommy friends that this is an unrealistic expectation. I disagree. I want 1 day of calm; ok 2. I'd love 363 other days of calm but let's be real about the odds of THAT happening!

Here are the events that ensued based on my recollection:
This year, as I can recall for at least the past 2 years of birthdays and Mother's Days, the bickering, fussing and fighting did not cease. I informed my husband in advance what I'd like to do and made sure to include the link to the desired event on his Facebook wall for all mutual friends to see. There was no subtlety involved. He made sure to get the good seats for the event which was above what I asked. I felt this was a good sign.

Let's just say, the calm wasn't there. Even the next day, actual birthday, was a repeat of the same shouting, bickering, whining. Please Earth, swallow me up now.

Drama Queen Alert!

I was at the breaking point. Snapped. Done. That was me. I spiralled out of control in my self-loathing and cried and slept for the next 24 hours!  My friends thought I'd lost it. I'm sure an intervention was being planned.

My husband pried me out of bed and convinced me I needed to eat food. I sulkingly walked down the stairs, out through the kitchen and in to the dining room where my three men were standing. My husband crowned me with the finest crown that Walmart could buy. It was cute, sparkly and had pink and purple jewels. As I became teary-eyed again, my three men began singing "Happy Birthday" and guiding me to my seat. Dinner was plated and a beautiful arrangement of my favorite flowers were before me. The walls were dotted with pretty pale pink balloons. They made it as girly as possible in my testosterone filled home. It was imperfectly perfect.

I couldn't believe it! I was handed one of thos wonderful, musically-injected cards and a handmade card from my youngest son. What a change of events!

My dear husband guided family conversation and led the family devotion time. Family devotions are a new routine that we began just a week ago. Now, we have engaging conversation at the dinner table. The daily devotion was one crafted just to what I needed in that moment. After dinner and discussion, the kids voted to watch a family movie and I selected "Fireproof". We had not watched it since it was in the theater but were reminded, painfully, of all the areas we need to improve upon in our marriage.

The kids meandered off to bed after the movie and now it was just the two of us. We had a good conversation about our needs and how we each could have acted better. I confessed a song kept running through my head all day as I tried to stay in my grief. There was a war between my head and my spirit. I reached for my iPhone and selected it from my iPhone play list. My knight in shining armor jumped to his feet and grabbed my hand. We slow-danced in the middle of our living room. Let me explain, my husband never dances; hates to dance. I can only make him slow dance at weddings. He held me tight as we listened to the tunes. It was a magical, memorable birthday do-over.

30 October 2013

Less Judgement, More Acceptance - My Analysis

I began this "31 Days of Less and More" just 8 short days ago because I wanted to figure out why I keep circling back around to certain stumbling blocks in my life. 2013 has been dubbed as "My Year" for self-improvement. It's been an incredible journey but I realize I haven't accomplished all the areas I thought I would have tackled by now. A friend asked me to join her in this challenge and I decided to join her as I wrap up 2013 with a bang.

I've never considered myself to be a judgemental person. I thought today's blog focus would be fairly easy.  

             Boy, was I wrong.

It's easy to trick ourselves into thinking we have certain areas under control in our lives. Fact of the matter is, we don't! Sure, pat yourself on the back that you've succeeded in not getting that mocha frappacino every morning or make it to bed by 10 pm at least 4 nights out of the week; but, have we really changed our personal nature? I hope we have all collectively improved from 5, 10, 20 years ago...but we are not at a point of completion. We deceive ourselves.

Last night, my husband and I had one of our epic, knock-down, drag-out fights that you'd probably pop some popcorn and pull up a chair to watch. I was self-righteous and perfect in my thinking and my husband was not getting it. What's wrong with him? At least, that was my story and I was sticking to it! Until...

Until a dear friend whom I knew would be the right person to confide in and respond with a loving and productive answer, reminded me of where I am in the grand plan of life. I am not that awesome. Wow, ok. She challenged me to not keep score and go home to apologize anyway. I did as she said. I knew she'd check to see if I followed through with her advice.

I came home. I apologized. I went to sleep.

Fast forward to this morning: I sat at work at my desk awaiting the tardy tech to arrive for our appointment. I remembered the challenge despite how physically and emotionally exhausted I felt.

"Oh great", I thought as I read today's challenge was on judgement and acceptance. "God, do we have to do this now?" Ok. I'll listen. I read the blog and realized I had been judging my husband all this time. Who am I to judge him and how he is or is not leading our family spiritually, practically or relationally? Did God himself ordain me?

My girlfriend's reminder to me came flooding back to my memory.

My ego has been knocked down a few pegs today. That's ok. God is going to prune me even more in these final months of the year. I can't produce more fruit without being pruned.

My husband and I had a rare lunch date today and spent time admitting our faults and realizing we did, in fact, improve from how we would have handled the same situation even a year ago. We accepted where we are at and agreed to do even better next time.

17 October 2013

90 Days

If you were given insight into the future that in 90 days there would be a need to stockpile food, water, finances, etc, would you? What if God talked to you the way He talked with Noah thousands of years ago? Noah was ridiculed and mocked by others who saw no rain in sight. Would you be one who carefully planned and prepared? Or, would you be in denial until the "doom" actually occurred and begging for mercy?

Consider the story of Joseph from Old Testament: You may recall the stories of how his brothers sold him into slavery but do you remember his vivid dreams? He foresaw the need to stock up during an abundant season because a season of famine appeared in his dreams. He dutifully had the farmers pile a portion of the grain harvest in a storehouse. Eventually, the famine occurred and many came from distant lands to receive a portion. If Joseph hadn't heeded the prophesy, thousands would have starved. We shouldn't hope that one out of thousands or millions will store up enough for everyone else in tough times. We should learn to save up a little for our own families. I'm not saying you should hoard for your own family. There is a difference.

Many people chalk "Doomsday Preppers" up to nothing more than scared fanatics. Perhaps there is a middle ground between stocking a bunker underground and doing nothing until it's too late. I've followed various blogs, posts and pins about how to prepare for natural disasters or other catastrophes. While I've procrastinated to put almost any of it in motion, I have considered much of it as smart planning. We know natural disasters will occur. It's not a matter of if, it's a matter of when. Let's not even consider political upheaval or anarchy. Car accidents and snow storms are bound to happen. Why do we wait?

I remember living in Europe years ago, we were encouraged to keep blankets, nonperishable food and water in our vehicles because you never knew when your adventures on the autobahn would come to a screeching halt in a "stau". I was fortunate it didn't happen to us but I knew many who did sit in them for hours. Some prepared and were okay but others took their chances and regretted their poor decision. Since coming back to the States, we haven't kept our cars stocked. We quickly forgot the possibility of a traffic lockup on a highway.

Just a week ago, my husband was in a bad accident that rendered his vehicle useless. (He was physically fine.) The insurance found him at fault so we won't receive money to replace his vehicle.  The average American would run to the bank and get a loan out for $15,000-$30,000. Thankfully, we had a small, but sizeable-enough-to-buy-a-"beater", savings fund because of the uncertainty of my paycheck due to the government shutdown. Now, we are able to search for a replacement vehicle to pay for... in cash!

We no longer believe in holding debt or using it as a back-up plan. Had it not been for that savings, we would be just a tad bit more stressed. We realized years ago that by having debt, we were not holding our faith in God during situations and it was robbing us of money we could be saving from the interest charges. This was certainly a test in what we would do if push came to shove and I have to say we passed this test. It is doable.

So back to the original thought, 90 days. While I'm thankful that many of my furloughed friends have been able to return to work today, Congress has only patched the hole in the boat that is sinking. It's just more "continuing resolution. Consider it a reprieve. Consider it the tremor before an earthquake or a dry run in an emergency evacuation plan. Manyof my fellow coworkers really didn't think the shutdown would occur. They thought that Congress would all agree in the eleventh hour. That wasn't the case.

You may call it gut instinct but I consider it God's way of nudging me. I had told my husband last month that I really thought this shutdown had to occur. We had begun preparing what we could in that short time to brace ourselves. We had just recovered from the furloughs of this summer. What we didn't anticipate was the car accident. I'm thankful we had taken the time to go into "emergency mode".

I encourage everyone to begin saving money. Don't spend your entire paycheck now. Save some for later. Invest in retirement. Do not rely on the government to supply your needs. Rely on God to direct your path and show you where to place your money. Faith without action is just hope.

16 October 2013

Family Vision

When I first created this blog, I had no real vision or direction for it. Our family certainly didn't have a vision or direction either. Does yours? Probably not.

We have been a part of an amazing group of married couples/families for all of 2013. They have become an extended family to us. It's what many churches call a "life group" but we are fancy and call ours an "iGroup". Yep, we attend a very hip church! You don't have to attend a hip church to create a circle of friends with a similar ideal. True community enhances our family life yet has been long forgotten in our fast-paced society.

Several weeks ago, we began a new weekly session that takes us through how to create a family motto, vision and mission statement. We have these things in our workplace, schools and associations. Why not carry it into our homes? 

Habakkuk 2:2 states, "Write down the vision; write it clearly on tablets so whoever reads it can run to tell others."

I admit, the idea sounded a bit "hokey" at first; but the more we got into it, the more excitement it induced in my family. As my husband and I began writing down our desires for what we'd like our family to be, we kept coming back to the concept of "Be Weird". That reminded me of this blog that I created a few years ago. I have no idea where it'll take me or who it may touch.

As our leaders said last night, whatever you choose as your family's motto, you better be committed. Punky Brewster was my role model as a young child....need I say more?!? I'd say we are pretty committed. Our children love the concept, too. In some ways, we are already weird. I've always danced to the beat of a different drum. Now we are officially weird!