Wednesday, May 15, 2013

The mess!

Have you ever felt bad about company coming over to your house? I do, all the time because my house is pretty much, always messy. 

Someone, who really means well, has said on a few occasions, "if you try bleach and soap and scrub really hard, those stains should come out. " or "have you tried a magic erase marker on your walls? It should touch them up nicely." or "I dont have problems getting those stains off my pots and pans, maybe you should try this.. "     Drives me nuts.

 Shot of the sink: Dirty dishes, everyday!

I mean, she means well but really does not help my insecurity of a messy house! Realistically, I don't have time to touch up my hallways, and make special science experiment cleaners for the craters on my dishes and clothes. Not when I'm trying to parent two VERY active children. I'm not Martha Stewart, Ms. Housewife of the year, THANK GOD! I'm just Nicole with a messy home, trying to keep focus on God's truths. 

A friend's mom came over a while ago. I naturally had a messy house, unfinished projects laying around everywhere. I apologized for the mess, beginning to sound like a broken record. She instantly said, "Your house should look like this, dear. You are raising children and you are doing a great job. You are focused on what's important."

The unfinished project I apologized for, our unfinished painted deck. HA!

BREATH of fresh air! This was encouraging to me. I have to remind myself of that statement daily. 

This verse is gold for me:

"So if you're serious about living this new resurrection life with Christ, act like it. Pursue the things over which Christ presides. Don't shuffle along, eyes to the ground, absorbed with the things right in front of you. Look up, and be alert to what is going on around Christ - that's where the action is. See things from his perspective." Colossians 3:1-2 (The message)

Two things here that get me: 

1. LOOK UP- see things from Christ's perspective.

I have had a rough couple days.  A rotten attitude, short fused, also that time of the month. Ugh sucks.  I've been absorbed and focused on silly things in front of me. Really silly, I mean like -mulch the garden, paint the hallway/kitchen, hang up pictures. This is stuff that I really enjoy doing but this week I feel pressured to do them because my son's 2nd birthday celebration is this Saturday. AH! People are coming over. EEEEK! And, I want to appear to have it all together.  This is nonsense, silly. 

If I'm really agreeing with Christ, I would shout it out that "I DON'T HAVE IT ALL TOGETHER"... 
 And, that's okay!
Loud active children, messy counters, in the background the laundry room is throwing up dirty clothes!

I got a call a few weeks ago about faxing a copy of our medical insurance to my car insurance, so rates would remain lower. Well I FINALLY called back today to talk to a representative. While I'm trying to talk to her, my son is screaming his head off. She says, "ma'am can you remove your screaming child from the phone?" I wanted to say, "sure let me go lock him in the laundry room really quick" -? Really? I was so irritated. She was just doing her job, and couldn't hear me.  My initial reaction was wanting to hang up. Thankfully, I didn't. The irritations were getting to me. But keeping focus, I realized that:

....THIS IS LIFE. LIFE IS MESSY, LIFE IS LOUD.... I can't shuffle along, eyes to the ground, absorbed with the things right in front of me. I need to look up, and be alert to what is going on around Christ, because that is where the action is!

Where there is "action" there is life, and no room for fretting over a messy home.

floor shot: play dough, chip droppings and hair. Yep, gross!

                           Mom's don't feel guilty about a messy home, Keep looking UP!

Friday, April 12, 2013


When a car is in neutral and pushed down a hill, that car builds momentum, or gains speed. Eventually the car stops, or crashes into something but the point is, eventually you lose the momentum. I think this is currently the model of my life. I gain speed, or momentum with life whether it's healthy habits, exercise, prayer life, and then BOOM it's gone, I crashed and lost the momentum. UGH! This is annoying. Not sure if it's a personality thing or what but I realized I've been looking at my life as a time line with intervals filled with "deadlines" and plenty of "to-dos". Honestly, stuff that really is no importance... Instead, I need to be looking at my life in the moment and not constantly focus on what needs to be done in order to enjoy real life (the kind of life that isn't a race). Let's face it, life is STRESSFUL. The question is: how do I handle the stress?

I'm not an anti-planner woman, I do believe there is such thing as healthy planning, implementing healthy deadlines, etc.--Gosh, I love my planner, however when my focus is on "finishing the race" or completing the tasks so I can move forward to enjoy other things in life, I miss the point. I'm not living in that moment. I'm not enjoying God's blessings that He has generously saturated me with in the "rough times".  There is no joy in rushing/stressing things to "get finished." The momentum is lost when life becomes a stressful race. Being a mom can be difficult because it's all about juggling more than four things at once. Have you ever tried juggling? It's HARD!

There is plenty that I need to improve on, but currently, what I have chose to improve is my prayer life. It's the hardest for me to regain the momentum back. I have to kick start the engine and I do it by thanking God in my roughest times. I'm stubborn so sometimes this takes a while, but I at least know how to gain the momentum back! Recognizing the blessings through the rough times is difficult, but it's essential. I think that also would be true for losing the momentum in healthy eating, and exercise, possibly relationships too. Being positive, and thankful in the rough times kick starts the car and rebuilds that momentum. It takes a shift in attitude and some refocusing in the life lens.

What I have to remember: life isn't just about the peaks, and trying to maintain the "highs" but it's also about the valleys and how we regain momentum. Perseverance.

 I'm thankful for God who promises truth and that His grace is sufficient

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Pursuing God.

My husband and I met online. It was some shallow website I don't really care to name right now. I'm sure most of you reading this know the story and the name of the website; regardless, it's not exactly a website I want to promote to christian singles if you know what I mean. Okay, now I need to explain how we got on this really shallow website. The blame game, right? Our friends set up our profiles for us- I swear! I'd like to think we both are cool, non-creepy people but whatever. Anyway, my point is- this was totally out of character for both of us. Before this website, I planned to boycott boys for one entire year. Men just stunk at that point... Well, I made it eight months into my goal and decided Tyler (now my husband) was totally worth breaking that goal. I think I was three clicks on the site, and Tyler's face popped up. I clicked on him, not really knowing what i was doing, then he got a random e-mail saying I wanted to meet him. He almost deleted it, since it showed up in his Spam bin. Get this, he clicked on the e-mail (i'm sure he got hundreds of girls asking to meet him) he paid $5.95, FOR ME- to get my personal e-mail. I mean, I thought he was hot but I wasn't going to pay $5.95 to break my one year boycotting boys goal. He seemed really genuine, I was hooked. We finally met in person, after e-mailing and talking on the phone for a month or two. The first time we met was pretty hysterical. He called on his drive from Lansing to Ann Arbor and asked me if we should meet at a public place since he could possibly be a creeper truck driver. I laughed, and said I trusted him. He then stated nervously, "you might be the creepy truck driver." I couldn't stop laughing. He continues to make me laugh. I love him. That night we stayed up talking for hours on end.... I knew he was a keeper when he said, "I'm looking for a wife, not a girlfriend."                

2004, The internet stud himself, in hot pursuit!

To the right, is in 2006, finally his wife.... two years seemed like a long wait! I have to give God all the credit. Our relationship would have never sprouted if it weren't for Him. I boycotted boys for eight months and prayed that God would change my heart, that I would establish a relationship and foundation with HIM first. About the six-seven month mark is when I started praying if God thought I was ready, that he would place a Godly man in my life. Little did I know God could work through the internet.... Even through a shady website. Yep. Totally a God moment. Out of the millions of people on it, I clicked my future husband. Again, this was not a christian website. The chances of us meeting outside of the internet were slim, but the chances ON the internet, even on this website- even more slim! And to add, I said I was Christian, and left out the detail online that I was Catholic. I'm sure Tyler would not have pursued me knowing I (at the time) was Catholic. I am now fully processing this. Answered prayers. God was totally working with us, working in us.

I understood what I was getting into, marrying a Youth Minister... Ya, only exact opposite!  Our first year of marriage was difficult, financially, emotionally, and spiritually. Actually the week before our wedding was very difficult, setting the stage for our first couple years of wedded unhappiness. The company I worked for went under, I lost my job which meant we lost our housing too. We found this out the week before we got married! YIKES. Tyler was part time at our church.We couldn't afford anything. Not even the plane tickets to enjoy our honeymoon to Mexico (which was a wedding gift we got). Tyler's parents bought the tickets as their wedding gift, thankfully. Mexico was amazing. We came home nice and tan facing our reality. Our reality: we were homeless, I was jobless, Tyler was making $200/week. We moved into his parents basement for about a few months. I got a new job that covered housing, a great set up so we moved into Lansing. That lasted a year, then I was fired. So, we then moved into his brother and sister-in-law's house to switch it up. That was a bad situation. For a lack of better words, poor communication sums it up. I wasn't focused on God, I was frustrated. I was totally discontent living there, with myself, my husband, and our life in general. We moved out of their house and moved back into Tyler's parents basement. For a second time! HUMBLE PIE Note: this is all within two years of marriage. That puts us at the end of 2008. And then, OOPS- I am pregnant!

I say oops because I was on birth control, and still got pregnant. We were living in his parents basement, back to $200/week. Money was tight, ha- well it still is; that's ministry! I started working for a non-profit which didn't yield much but it provided what we needed. God provided. We still couldn't afford our own place, but we were taken care of during my pregnancy.  Realizing all of this, I wanted to be content. I was pursuing my relationship with God again full force. I wanted to trust Him, especially in the hard times. Within a couple months, God provided- again. He was faithful, is faithful. Families in our church pledged to pay for our housing which covered a 2 bedroom apartment and health insurance (JUST IN TIME). We were taken care of, and we SO appreciated it. We were able to move out of the parent's basement in time to have a baby and start our family in our own home.

In late 2009 we were graced with Taymos our first son. God blessed us with a sweet baby. We've learned how smart, fun, busy, vocal, and athletic this little squirt has become.

Our marriage for the first year was rough, the second year got better. But it was the third year when we were blessed with Taymos, that Tyler and I really started to get used to each other- the good and bad. That year we focused on communicating, teamwork, being more positive, God. Having Taymos opened our eyes, and renewed our purpose.

In 2011 we were blessed with Memaiko, our second son. He is a busy, smart little man. He is full of funny facial expressions, lots of attitude and sweetness rolled into one.
We purchased a home in December 2011. My mom helped with the down payment. Total blessing that we are home owners.

December 1st we moved into our new home, December 10th Tyler was admitted into the hospital for his appendix burst. A procedure we thought would be in and out. There were some complications and he was in the hospital for 10 days. That was such a crazy time. My Grandpa was on his death bed (the cancer finally won) while Tyler was trying to recover from surgery in the hospital (an hour away). Tyler had a blood infection, which freaked us all out. Needless to say, God was with me that whole time. I was at peace. I prayed and cried, and prayed and cried. I felt torn in three different directions: to be with Tyler, with my boys, and with my Grandpa. While Tyler was in the hospital, I decided to drive the boys to see my Grandpa before he passed. {My own father stepped out of my life in 2010, he chose to no longer have a relationship with us. My Grandpa stepped in and was awesome. He was intentional, and loving. We had many phone conversations about life.} God was so faithful. We heard that a couple days before we visited, my Grandpa had stopped eating, and talking. When we finally arrived, he lifted his head forced some words up, "I love you." He squeezed my hand so tight, hugged me, pointed at the boys, said, "I love you". My Grandpa was waiting to see me. He was waiting. Totally a God thing that he was still living at that point. That he was able to talk again, when he couldn't mutter words out the day before. Tyler was unable to visit Grandpa before he passed, but he was able to pray with him over the phone. My prayers were answered. God provided, he is faithful always.

I had a lot to say in this post, kind of a novel. Oh well.

I'm still young. Life lessons have taught me that God always provides. My husband has always said that even from the first time we met- but I never understood it until living through the difficult times in life. This is the life we chose, to minister to others. We obviously don't do it for the money, there isn't much of that! The people God has placed in our lives are loving and supportive, always helping us out. As an example, a family from church who we've adopted as our own, purchased us Casting Crowns tickets for Tyler and I to enjoy a night together. I cried. What an awesome gift. God is always showing in little/big ways that He is present, that He is faithful, that He will provide. I am in hot pursuit of Him, very grateful for the blessings, the plans and His promises. God is awesome.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Pitch the garbage

Today was an okay day. An average, but okay day. This morning, the boys made a huge mess! Poor husband came home and didn't have to ask what we did this morning. He got to see the remains of a toddler battlefield. I raised my white flag, and clearly surrendered. Toys, play dough, crayons, paper shavings, pretzel crumbs, shredded cheese. What a mess. Just enough of a mess that I couldn't think straight anymore. I realized the kitchen rug began to take a whole new twist on the eclectic look. Picture this: "spring 2013 Mom's Housekeeping Catalog introduces floor bling".. Yes I'm talking about play dough droppings, pretzel crumbs, and shredded cheese, all over the rug. Well, it's totally in style if you didn't know.  This was my house today. Iron Man was suffocating in play dough, and probably still is. The shredded cheese bag was pulled from the counter. Correction, the opened shredded cheese bag was pulled from the counter. My youngest was showered in sharp cheddar this morning. And, today I learned that play dough sticks to shredded cheese. I thought I was nice allowing the play dough to still stay on our shelves with some dog hair mixed in. Shredded cheese is a whole new level. Play dough went to the garbage today. While cleaning up one mess, two kiddos were behind me making another. Sigh- Motherhood is all about improvising. Yep, I decided outside play for the rest of the day! Messes like these are triggers for stress to take over. Ick. Thankful that today was nice and sunny outside. I swear, the 'great outdoors' helps ease my stress.

Like the messy state of my house, that trigger went off and my mind began to clutter itself too. I allowed the mess to clone itself via thoughts and nest right in my head. My mind was cluttered with garbage. Garbage, the stinkiest was discouragement. Oh, discouragement. When you invest in a relationship and don't see the results you want, discouragement. Relationships with spouse, children, boss, friendship, or even family member. I won't say which was bothering me, other than it was bothering me. Everyone has those days. Today was my day. After my husband came home, he picked up some of the mess. Thankfully, I recognized his efforts to try and ease some of my stress. I truly am thankful for that. That man is a man with a lot of patience. He's not perfect though. lol. I realized I needed some patience in my life. The kind to keep hope or keep my focus, no matter how discouraged I may be. I learned a lesson from him tonight. Not a lesson of words, but actions. He came home after a day of work, and served me. He knew I was stressed, probably assumed I was thinking too much and he wanted to help. He cleaned up the living room (easy clean up compared to kitchen, but it did the trick) and didn't complain, didn't even say anything.  That's when it clicked. What I needed to do was zoom out my lens a little, and realize that the discouragement today is only  paving a path to something bigger than just my stress levels. Something may not turn out the way we want it to, but we just have to work with what we got. Improvise. Adding hope to the equation is crucial. Oh ya, and admitting those discouragement thoughts into Hospice will be my first step. Time to pitch the garbage. God's got this.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Be joyful always.

A few days ago, a friend on Facebook posted a picture of their dinner she just made. I inspected the picture and mentally noted the healthy meal they were about to devour. I'll let you in my brain for a minute. My thoughts: "What a good mom. hmm, I'm serving fried chicken, Bummer. Bad mom. UGH guilt tastes bitter." Does anyone else follow me? I don't need to lose weight and nor do I want to. My husband would like to drop a few. Anyway, the guilt for me is simply because I wasn't choosing the healthy option for my family. Not sure if this is the "mom" in me, but I can become so fixed on what I'm doing wrong that it becomes a distraction. It steals the joy out of me.

This was my husbands breakfast yesterday. All right, mine too since I would have felt guilty eating a hash brown so I had one too. Ugh, I know. This is a kale shake. Let me be clear, we are not organic health nuts. Organic takes $$$. And even if we had a disposable income, we probably wouldn't be the organic health nuts. My husband and I have been chasing our 'starting line' for healthier eating for a while, and now that we found it we are taking baby steps. We're even starting a garden this spring as a project for kids, healthier eating, help the budget kind of thing, etc.. Maintaining budgets and waistlines one baby step at a time. Okay, but still all this focus on what I'm not doing, the comparing, and mom guilt is a distraction from my joy. This is just one example of "mom guilt", there were plenty to choose from and since kale shake was still in my mind, and mouth, I chose the health guilt.

Some background: We're a family of four on a ministers salary; and food has been a considerably large chunk of our budget. Idealistically, I'd love to have a pantry and fridge stocked full with healthy foods. In reality its not the case. We're not junk food hoarders, but we do have some junk.  And trying to feed my family healthy, tasty, affordable food is a tall order. (sigh) Doable, but a challenge for sure...Then there is Pinterest. I love Pinterest, but it's constantly showering me with oodles of yummy dinner ideas. Expensive, exotic, mouth watering, dinner ideas. It adds to the grocery list, and slaps our budget across the face. Such a distraction to me! I say a distraction because this has been my thinking pattern lately, "IF we just had a little more money in our budget we could afford those healthy meals, and be healthier...." Ahh, don't get me wrong, Pinterest is great, really great IF done right. I just have to check myself daily before I open the doors to it. If you're familiar with Pinterest you'll know they have these cool DIY projects, tips on saving money, budgeting, creative ideas for the kids, quotes, parenting stuff, healthy eating/living, etc. Its GREAT! I sometimes allow my mind to wander into "What IF land."  And that should not be my focus. Those thoughts are the distraction from my focus. My focus is on giving thanks in all circumstances.

1 Thessalonians 15:16-18 (NIV) says, "Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus." Great verse. Love it, love it, love it. It's a challenge for me, but GREAT reminder. I don't have room in my heart to be joyful if I am constantly thinking about these distractions. These distractions lead me down the wrong path, the path of comparing....then guilt, you get it.

....I'm in a women's group at church, and its been really great. Together we study scripture. The stuff that is worth focusing on, scripture. It keeps my thoughts on the right path when I study it. When I don't study scripture, I get distracted. Those distractions suck the joy right out of me. Last week our topic was about Thanksgiving. The main verse was the one stated above.  "...Give thanks in all circumstances...". That got me good. There are plenty of different distractions to write on, healthy eating was just one example.

 If we truly understood the grace God has for us, we would have a cup overflowing with gratitude. There would be no room for guilt, selfishness, or the other distractions in life. From the overflowing cup of grace would produce gratitude, and gratitude births joy. And we are called to be joyful always.... To pray continually. To give thanks in all circumstances. Gosh, I have a lot to be thankful for. A lot, even in the rough times. Praise God.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Mission: Motherhood

I have always loved writing, but have never done anything with it. Here goes nothing, welcome to my blog...

Recently I found out my best friend from high school is getting married, and this brings me joy. She is someone I am glad I've stayed connected with beyond high school. You know, the kind of person you envision staying close to for the rest of your life? We stayed in contact, but just were in different seasons in life.
Fast forward 10 years beyond high school, I'm married  (6 years) and have birthed two children. And, she is newly engaged. And did not ask me to be in her wedding party. I was shocked, a little heart broken. Then reality sank in.. Duh, Nicole. We aren't close anymore. Confession: it has been hard for me to stay connected to my friends sans kids.

Perspective. God has blessed me with two wonderful children, and lets not forget a supportive husband. And I am thankful. I am blessed. However, I am a little embarrassed that it has taken me until now to realize that I have lost some close friends after birthing children. But, it makes perfect sense. Motherhood is a ministry, a lifestyle. Not a 12 hour work day. No, it is all consuming, 24/7 blood, sweat, and tears kind of ministry. It's not a job that you can punch out, call in sick, get paid vacation, or switch positions. It is life. Truly the best job out there, in my opinion. But with it, there are sacrifices and friends are or can be one of them.

Before I move on, everyone should understand the definition of sacrifice. Sacrifice: Motherhood on a daily account. Used in a sentence: I sacrificed two hours of sleep so I could wake up before my kids and attain peace and quiet. Sacrifice. "S-A-C-R" ...You get my point.

Clarification. Back to the sacrifice of losing friends. Don't get me wrong, I have friends, plenty at that. God has placed great people in my life after having children. I've found to kind of link up with other women (MOMS) who understand the "highs and lows" of motherhood. It's natural, organic, there's rhythm to mom friendships. I'm thankful that I can say, I have a handful of close "mom friends". If you are a mom, I hope you have mom friends. Because in those moments where you feel like the kettle is about to burst, the right phone call can make all the difference. Mom friends to me are the best kind of friends. They are your cheerleaders on your rough days. Therapeutic, true, understanding, honest friends. Mom friends.

Current mission in life: Motherhood. My forever mission.