Grateful {Books}

I have always enjoyed reading and in here I am going to share something that I have never shared with anyone; please be kind with my vulnerabilities.

Reading was my way to escape, to feel a part of something, to find friends. Now before anyone gets upset with me, I want you to know that I have had (and still have) some wonderful friends growing up, but I still never really felt like I fit in. I didn’t think or do the same things that my friends did. Not that any of this is bad – all people are different, have different talents, abilities and desires. While I liked spending time with my friends and having those relationships, I also desired time to myself and quiet. And I’m pretty sure that is what made me so different. Also, I really wasn’t very rebellious (I think that “stage” came a little later for me, in college). I knew what my parents expected from me and having their approval and not disappointing them was very important to me. I don’t resent that, I am very grateful for growing up with that desire and from it I learned not being like everyone else is ok and so I turned to books for companionship.

And it’s still true for me today – when I’m feeling overwhelmed or bogged down, reading helps me to escape or I saw somewhere someone called it “Mommy’s in time out!” I still need that quiet time to almost recoup from the day-to-day chaos.

I’d say in around junior high I discovered Christian fiction. It started with romance, what girls doesn’t love a good romance? And then I read a series by Frank Peretti that was different. It was a thriller/mystery that had my heart pumping and I would stay up way to late because I just couldn’t put it down. And from there I found Ted Dekker. He has become one of my favorite authors; he delves into the supernatural “realm” so to speak – making my faith stretch and question. He wrote about spirits and demons and a whole other world. Some of that is scary, but the way he wrote it made so much sense to me. While I loved to read romantic stories of characters finding their faith through hardships and falling in love after having to let the loved one go and how families miraculously came together against all odds, albeit through tragedy and sometimes chaos, I found myself wanting to find something a bit….deeper? Ted Dekker and now his daughter Rachelle Dekker and another Christian thriller author, Mark Andrew Olsen all write books that make me think about who I am in Christ and helped me to understand that light always overcomes darkness.

(Going a tad off subject here, but bear with me!)

That is the “theme” behind Rachelle Dekker’s first series, The Seers. (My most recent reading adventure.) Light always overcomes darkness and remembering that light in myself – in all of us – is what makes us whole. Sometimes that light has to work hard to overcome, but that hard work is what builds our faith.

“It took me a long time to learn that faith’s purpose is not to release you from life’s trials. Faith gives you the strength to see the trial fully and to know this too shall pass. To hold nothing against the world or the trial before you. To practice true forgiveness.” The Returning, Rachelle Dekker.

(No worries, this will come full circle!)

reading
credit: Patsy Clairmont Facebook page

I didn’t see it when I was growing up. I just thought I was different because I didn’t like or enjoy the same things as those around me. This made me an outcast, made me “miss out,” made me wonder (more times than I can count) “Who am I?”

And I still do. “Who am I, to be responsible for these two, sweet little boys?” “Who am I, to have this wonderful family?” “Who am I, to be offered the unconditional love of a man who I’m pretty sure I drive crazy?”

But what if my being different wasn’t just because that’s who I was? And since I didn’t have the same interests I was missing out? But being different meant I had something I needed to share and all of the quiet, reading time was the Father’s way of showing me what I have to offer – His light. What if even then, when I wasn’t sure of who I was, that He knew I would come to this realization and I would feel like I’ve been struck by lightning at how clear it is to me now?!

I have read many non-fiction books (most recent Bible study Finding I Am, by Lysa TerKeurst is wonderful!) about how to connect with God on that personal level and how to delve deeper into the Bible to build that relationship; they have been helpful to me, by guiding me on the process. But the fictional stories have seemed to help me to apply it to myself. They write HOW their character find their light; remembering what the Father says about them and for whatever reason it resonates with me a bit more. And I really love that these specific authors don’t shy away from the evil. We all know that it exists, but sometimes we feel like if we don’t acknowledge it maybe it won’t hurt us, but that’s exactly what it wants. Ignoring the problem only gives it more room to grow; shining light on the problem, while most likely painful, is the only way to find the solution. (One lesson learned from Finding I Am study!)

(Full circle coming!)

My love of reading, in the long run (close to 20 years!) has helped me to find who I am in Christ. It’s helped me to remember how to find my light; it’s brought me back to faith when I doubted myself; it’s made me dig deeper and want to become a better person, not just myself but for those around me.

I want you to know that this is a HUGE work in progress for me, as I’m coming to find out that it is in everyone. This quote from Rachelle’s book really hit home for me:

“If I’m being honest, which I feel like I can be here with you in this safe place we share, I am living in a constant state of judgement. I judge myself for losing sight of my true nature. I judge myself for needing to remember. I judge myself for aging, for feeling weak and tired. I judge myself for the blame I carry. And I judge myself that I can’t let it go. I know I shouldn’t, and then I judge myself because I do. Maybe that’s all this life is, really. Waking up each morning and forgiving yourself. Forgiving the world around you. Seeing things with clear eyes and letting go of the grievances we hold on to for dear life. Maybe that is the only way to really find peace. It’s hard to do when the darkness creeps in. When thoughts of you flood my mind or when I’m overcome with worry for your sister. But I am trying to see myself as I hope that you see yourself: blameless, whole, lacking nothing, perfect. For the love given to us call this forth.” The Returning

And now I’ve found a new habit to work on stacking – stop judging myself and remember who I am: the daughter of my Father, who chose me and gives me His light (and a love for reading!)

“Jesus spoke to the people once more and said, ‘I am the light of the world. If you follow me, you won’t have to walk in darkness, because you will have the light that leads to life.'” ~ John 8:12

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Grateful {New Day}

A month into my new year and I’ve stuck by my “no resolutions” mantra. Now before you start laughing and scoffing “No resolutions, but that’s the whole point!” I’ve been working on a new idea – habit stacking and using this method to help me to reach and accomplish my goals.

True to my people pleasing/second guessing self, I have thought of all of the arguments against this new method I’m trying: 1) just an excuse to not be more disciplined; 2) easier to give up; 3) takes longer to get results and etc. I’ve come to the conclusion that maybe these are all true and maybe this method doesn’t work for every one, but it does work for me.

That all being said, can I share how I’m habit stacking?

The idea was first shared with me from my Thirty-One Gifts director. She is amazing; really, I am very grateful that God has put her in my life and especially in this position. I’ve been in different direct marketing ventures before and didn’t really expect much from myself, but Elisa expects her team to do their best and to realize that every one’s best is different. That’s where I always struggled (don’t we all!). Anyways, even though she brought this up doing a video on our team page, she explained how it doesn’t have to be just business centered, but that it works with everyday habits, too.

It was like a light bulb for me! I like routine and even though someone looking in might say “Are you sure that’s what you like?” I do really have a routine for a lot of things and I really think habit stacking is great for routine! As most who read my blog knows, my life is a bit chaotic; between trying to keep a relative peace between two little boys and making sure everyone is well-fed (does anyone know how picky boys can be!) and trying my best to keep a decent amount of clothes clean, well let’s just say I’m still trying to figure out the routine for the chaos! But when it comes to my more personal goals, habit stacking is wonderful! I really do enjoy working out and I’m not a morning person so I needed to find another time to get my workout in – afternoon naps! Even though at first that seemed to take away from my “quiet time” (oh the peace of sleeping boys!) I reworked my mind frame into “making-a-better-me time” and once I got into that routine, it became a habit and so started my habit stacking journey.

The next habit is eating better. In the past I’ve noticed that when I work out regularly I don’t crave the crappy stuff. Why would I right? Now, a bit of a disclaimer, I haven’t set myself on any sort of diet, I’m simply WORKING on not eating the crap. I still indulge and I haven’t thrown out all the bad stuff, but I’m WORKING on forming the habit to grab an apple instead of a cookie or just a few crackers instead of the bag of chips. There are days when I go without eating bad stuff and there are days that I snack all day, but those “bad” days are hopefully becoming less and less.

Another habit I’m working on is getting organized when it comes to household chores. I am a TERRIBLE housewife; cleaning is like my arch-enemy. This habit is definitely still in the “infant” stages (as my husband will readily agree!), but I’ve found that if I write down what I HOPE to get done there’s a slightly better chance it gets done. I’ll keep you updated on how well this habit forms!

But I think the most important thing I’m learning is that every day is a New Day. A new day to try to be better about cleaning; a new day to eat healthy; a new day to not lose my temper at every little thing that goes wrong…a new day to work on my good habits.

“The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.” ~ Lamentations 3:22-23

anotherday
Graphic credit: TobyMac

Grateful {Small Moments}

I’ve had a hard time coming up with this second “Grateful” post. Which sounds really terrible, but I’ve been struggling with how to put into words what is it I want to say.

It started out with being content and grateful with the life I have right now, which is something that I need to work on, but a devotion I read recently challenged me to “pray bold prayers.” It was a very convicting message asking why do we pray for things that we can “answer” ourselves? Like our daily bread – I already know that I will have more than enough food to eat today, so why do I pray for it? Anyways, so while I need to be grateful for where I am, I also shouldn’t be guilty for looking forward to what will be.

Needless to say that post was deleted and so now here we are.

Small Moments; I have actually read a few posts and devotionals about this. About finding God in the small moments/miracles of the “ordinary” day. For me it’s come to finding JOY; making the choice to FIND, not just look, but FIND joy in my day, to help me get through the day.

I have always been a person that needs alone time. I need to have time completely to myself to recharge. Some may call that introvert or a hermit, but if I go too long without some time to myself I start falling apart, and my husband can be a witness to that! I am completely comfortable doing things alone; going to the movies, having lunch, shopping – you name it I can enjoy it by myself.

So the whole point to this is that when I make the conscious effort to FIND JOY, it helps me to not long for that alone time. When I choose to enjoy the sweet laughter of little boys and I indulge their need to wrestle (something I probably don’t do often enough) my spirits lift. When I make myself take the time to just sit and read a book (which they both love!) and soak up their need to be close, if only for a minute, my heart feels overwhelmed with love.

Joy of being together

Most of all, when I just sit in the silence of nap time and really think about the amazing gift God has given me of a loving, supportive husband and honor of being momma to my sweet, energetic boys – I realize I should not have to try so hard to find joy. I can get to caught up in wanting my alone time and not realize that the joy here in my home can often give me the peace to get through the day.

The small moments piled together make for the best kind of journey through life instead of relying on one big moment to define who I am.

Wow….a bit deeper than intended, but so glad I chose a change of subject.

“Rejoice in our confident hope. Be patient in trouble, and keep on praying.” ~Romans 12:12

“Always be joyful. Never stop praying. Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.” ~1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

Grateful {Positive Vibes}

I know this may seem cliché, but so be it! I am so very grateful for so many things, but in the next few weeks I’d like to share with you what I am so very grateful for and why I strive for an “attitude of gratitude” every day.

To begin, I am so very thankful for the POSITIVE vibes – so to speak – that I see on my social media. And by extension, I am grateful that I can edit whom I follow so that I can keep my news feeds positive. I think everyone can agree that as humans we tend to lean towards the negative and bad news. Whether it is from hearing only about the terrible terrorist or the arrogant business man or the movie star who went off the deep end; finding the faults and negative in others’ lives….for what? Makes us feel better about ourselves?

Now, I’m not perfect, but I do feel like I avoid this fairly well. I really don’t feel like it’s worth reading about how terrible of a person someone is. I would much rather take the time to really LOOK and be able to read the success stories.

One of my favorite positive pages I follow is TobyMac, a Christian singer. I love the “memes” they post; most of them I save and make my wallpaper on my phone.

tobymacunplug
credit TobyMac Facebook page

They always seem to #SpeakLife (one of his songs) into my day! (Really crazy side note: that song just came on my Pandora as I’m typing this!)

While I feel like I am generally pretty positive – or at least try to be – this is one thing I struggle when I think or talk to myself. I know I’m not the only one. I am my toughest critic and I am very, very unforgiving to myself. Isn’t that they way it goes? If this applies to you, can we make a pact? Let’s make the conscious effort to “talk” positively to ourselves! What’s your favorite thing about YOU? Your BEST quality? Now, write the answers (yes, plural! There should be more than one!) on a few sticky notes and stick those to your bathroom mirror or somewhere that you will see them everyday. Fun little reminders about why you need to be grateful for YOU! Being positive doesn’t just apply to how you view the world, it needs to start within yourself. Can you imagine how much MORE positive vibes we could create when we become positive to/about ourselves?

“Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.” ~Philippians 4:8-9

Shipping Calves 2016 Photo Story

We had a beautiful October morning to ship the Volf Ranch calves. Thanks to all of our help, everything went quickly and smoothly!

I decided a “photo story” would be a fun way to share the day!

trucks

 

shipping1

 

shipping3

 

shipping2

 

shipping4

 

shippingej

 

miles

 

goodbye

 

The land yields its harvest; God, our God, richly blesses us. ~ Psalm 67:6

Outdoors + Boys = A Great Adventure!

We went on our first camping trip as a family last week.

We’ve been “planning” to go camping for quite a while, but as all farm/ranch wives know these things are usually spur of the moment and 12 hours (or less!) of heads-up time to get things ready.

Anyways….as we’re getting ready for this big trip I’m making sure we have literally any possible item that the boys might want/need while we’re gone for 36 hours. Of course, we didn’t need half of it, but I was prepared for anything!

It was a blast! Was I tired, worn out, contemplating on putting Miles into a plastic bubble? Yes, but it was fun.

EJ loved every moment; from riding his bike everywhere – I don’t want to take it (helmet) off!; to “swimming” in the lake – splashing our feet and throwing rocks; to making s’mores -which he wouldn’t eat! He even did great on our hike – picking every dandelion within reach and trying his best to “blow” it out (he found that if he just throws it really hard they fall off and float away just the same!). DSCN0473
Miles did well, I think, for a one year old (yes, he’s one already – where did the time go?!) Besides wanting to touch the fire and walking right into the lake – socks, shoes and all, like there wasn’t even water there – and just being his ridiculously rambunctious self, he did good. He loved the water. Even with the wind blowing and the coolness of evening he didn’t want to leave. Then the next day when we went back and it was warmer he tried his hardest to “swim” but only was able to partially sit down before I swept him out, but he immediately wanted to go back in!DSCN0456
We definitely have two outdoor loving little boys! Bikes, dirt and Lord, knows whatever else they can get into, they would stay out all day, rain or shine, if they could!CrystalLake

I’m looking forward to many more camping trips in the future and to discovering what their wild imaginations will cook up. Like EJ racing up the hill on our hike and calling down “So tall Momma! Ima super hero!” Miles will be right behind him next time, trying to be faster and taller; seeing who can throw rocks the farthest into the lake. How long will they enjoy picking dandelions and try to blow the seeds off? Or have wonder at watching a deer walk through the campsite? While I do look forward to the day when we can enjoy camping as we used to, without worrying about one falling down and getting hurt or if/when nap time will be, I dread the day that they start to slowly lose their funny little imaginations and sense of wonder. I know they’ll have it for a while still and I pray that they will always of a sense of wonder for God’s creation, but for the sake of being able to watch how their little minds learn and play, I can live with a few more years of “uncomfortable” camping.

Children are a gift from the LORD; they are a reward from him. ~ Psalm 127:3

Direct your children onto the right path, and when they are older, they will not leave it. ~ Proverbs 22:6

#AttitudeOfGratitude

I was schooled in a lesson of gratitude today….by my husband (shhhh don’t tell him!) Actually he doesn’t even know he did, until he reads this.

He was explaining an argument he’d had and how it’s frustrating always hearing about how “terrible” things are when in reality (and in nearly every situation) things may not look great, but “it could be worse.” He told them that complaining doesn’t do any good, ever, and it usually just makes things worse since your outlook on life will only be negative.

He said, “If you’re ungrateful for what you already have, why would God want to give you more or something better?”

Insert “hand slap to forehead” – well actually that didn’t happen to me until later when I saw this on Facebook:

credit to TobyMac Facebook page
credit to TobyMac Facebook page

See, I have been feeling a bit sorry for myself lately. I mean yes being a mom can be tough, right? But everyone has “those” days; you other moms know what I’m talking about – you’re so tired you don’t want to function which means NOTHING gets done, therefore you have a disaster of a house; then the baby needs to be constantly held…by only you; the toddler has a great “potty” day and the next he poops in the pull-up three times; dirty dishes everywhere, dirty clothes everywhere – same load of clothes in the washer has been washed three times in three days because I keep forgetting to be them in the dryer…..and so on and so forth. Oh, and on top of that you are trying to be healthy, but gosh that soda helps to wake me up and chips go great with soda and both kids are finally sleeping at the same time so I’ll enjoy these in front of the TV.

So I’ve been having pity parties and the cycle of “ungratefulness” begins. I’m tired and don’t want to do anything, leads to nothing getting done, leads to frustration that nothing gets done, leads to impatience with EVERYTHING, leads to a short temper, leads to “I’m a terrible mother,” leads to I can’t do anything right…..WOW.

What happened to my attitude of gratitude?

Being grateful my eyes opened this morning instead of dwelling on being tired. Grateful for a nice, sturdy home and its messiness showing a family that wants for nothing. Grateful for dirty dishes because we have food. Grateful for sweet baby cuddles because they won’t last forever. Grateful for a healthy toddler….with regular bowel movements? Haha you know where I’m going with that one….grateful for the good days! Grateful for a body that works, it maybe not be “in shape” (yet!) but I’m grateful that it can do what needs to be done and when I get that walk in I know how good I’ll feel afterwards.

So friends will you hold me accountable? Help me pursue an attitude of gratitude and to remember that it may be tough today, but oh the possibilities of a great day tomorrow all because of the gratitude I have for today!