Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Surprise Snow Day! {aka Happy early Valentine's Day to me!}


I woke up, realized my son was sound asleep cuddling with me after waking up much too early, and glanced at my iPhone clock: 7:09.

“Ben, I’m going to have to take you to school because we’re going to miss the bus!” I said as I bolted out of bed.

I heard the shower running, so I opened the door and asked Greg, “Did my alarm not go off?” It was a weird question to ask because it’s set to “boing” at 6:30 a.m. each weekday. I’ve been known to forget to turn off the automatic setting when we have a planned day off from school.

Turns out, my husband, who was up with teething Rachel at 5:20 a.m., realized other area schools were cancelled and my kids’ small private school would probably cancel too. So he took my phone and silenced the alarm, just as the “Snow day!” text came in from the school principal. I guess he put the phone back beside my bed before he got in the shower.

I slept through it all.

Well, I heard Rachel at 5:20 a.m. and thought I would have to take over the early-morning feeding because Greg usually has Bible study at 6 a.m. While I slept, he cancelled that too.

Greg has known me for 18 years. We dated for 4 ½ years and have been married for 13 ½ years. (There were the times during those early years of dating that I broke up with him, generally because of my own insecurities, but we don’t need to discuss that saga right now. BUT you can read about our first meeting and our first-date day.)

He knows me.

He knows I like flowers, but I really love when he gifts me tickets to a concert so we can go together.

He knows I like to ask questions, but I really do like surprises too.

He knows I value sleep, and he definitely knows I’m not a morning person.

So, happy early Valentine’s Day – which we affectionately like to call First-Date Day – to me because I got a surprise snow day! As a momma, especially one with a newborn, this kind of surprise is rare, but I’m so grateful Greg and I are a team in this life.
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‘Tis the season for love! But yesterday I also was reading through “Team Us” by Ashleigh Slater before I packaged it with another marriage book – “A Lifelong Love” by Gary Thomas – to mail to a newlywed friend. In the note I included, I told her marriage is hard, especially in the early years, but it gets better with time. With a baker’s dozen of years, I can say that a mean it. We’ve had hard times, and I’ve done more than my share of crying and yelling. But I’m a better person because of my marriage, and I’m grateful we’re not the same people we were when we met or when we said “I do.”

Read reviews of some of two books :: “Team Us” // “A Lifelong Love
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Want more insights? "Peace in the Process: How Adoption Built My Faith & My Family" is available on Amazon. Like me on Facebook, follow me on Twitter, peek into my life on Instagram, follow 152 Insights at Bloglovin', or subscribe to receive "Insights in Your Inbox."

Friday, February 5, 2016

Focus {a Five Minute Friday post}

It's been almost a year since I've joined the Five Minute Friday crew to write. So here I am. The word this week is FOCUS, so I set my timer and focused on this for five minutes. It's straight from my mind to you. And I'm linking up with others at Kate Motaung's place


Ready, set, go ... 

{FOCUS}

The week after Christmas break, I had trouble settling back into a routine. Then we had some snow days, and I blamed them the following week for feeling unsettled. And now, here I am, at the beginning of February and I’m still feeling unfocused.

Except I see God working. I’ve been reading some valuable books and having meaningful conversations. Greg and I have been dreaming together and waiting to see how that unfolds. We’ve been soaking in time together as a family in the evenings.

But I get distracted. I want to solve people’s problems, but know I’m not in control of much. But I keep thinking about the friend I know who had to decide whether to terminate her pregnancy because her baby’s brain isn’t developed; the friend whose adoption is suddenly messier and harder than expected; and the friend fighting cancer.

So this unfocused feeling I’m feeling? I think it’s God reshaping some things, shaking up some priorities. The to-do list never ends, but that’s okay. I have more ideas than time. But I’m confident God has me where he wants me. I believe he’s working in my life, even when I can’t seem to get a grip on my day. I’m blessed with people to do this life with me.

Perhaps I should focus on that – and stop blaming the school schedule and the weather.

{And stop.}
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Want more insights? "Peace in the Process: How Adoption Built My Faith & My Family" is available on Amazon. Like me on Facebook, follow me on Twitter, peek into my life on Instagram, follow 152 Insights at Bloglovin', or subscribe to receive "Insights in Your Inbox."

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

In The Middle

You know sometimes you hear an idea that just makes sense and gets you excited about participating? Well, that's how I was when my blogging friend Britta LaFont told me about her Meet Me In The Middle Project. I like it so much, it's going to be the theme of my posts on Wednesdays for the next seven weeks  that's starting next Wednesday with Ash Wednesday and continue through the Lenten season. 

I invited Britta to come share about the project here, so that's what today's post is. There's absolutely no pressure for you to participate in this project, but if you want to, I'd love for you to link up both here and at her place. And, even if you aren't joining in The Meet Me In The Middle Project, you're always welcome to link up here for #ThreeWordWednesday, and nothing that that changes. Honestly, I'm excited to have a focus for the coming weeks, especially throughout Lent. 

So, welcome, Britta, and I hope the rest of you get as excited as I am. 
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I remember walking up the stairs and seeing her at the computer, out of the corner of my eye. She was muttering to herself and shaking her head.

"What's wrong, Sweetie?"

"Mom, I just want to hurry up and get all my work done, so I can have some fun," fumed my homeschooling sixth grader.

Everyone likes to have fun, but my child always loved school too. What had happened? Instantly, I knew where she learned that way of thinking and it stopped me in my tracks.

I was the one always rushing, Let's get our reading done, so we can have recess. Let's try to finish early, so we can meet our friends at the park. Let's hurry up and do our work, so we can bake.

I turned around and went downstairs. I repented of my haste. I explained to her that most of life is work and if we can't see any value in it, we are missing our calling to honor the Lord in all we do.
Col 323-24
Do you ever find yourself rushing ahead, wanting to get to the next place, to move straight from Before to After without spending time in the middle? That day on the stairs, I realized that I was constantly chasing the "After" and missing the Middle. And it got me thinking...

Most of us dread the workout, but want to look great in our jeans. We don’t enjoy cleaning, but we love the shiny, sweet-smelling endpoint. We don’t like waiting, We want results, and we want them fast. We don’t want to wait for anything.

What if…we realized that most of life is lived in the Middle? That most of life is work, sweat, and tears?

What if…we saw a Before & After and did not covet the result, but admired the effort exerted?

What if…we acknowledged that every “Big Reveal” pales in comparison to the biggest reveal of them all — the Resurrection?

YOUR INVITATION!

Won't you join me in celebrating the middle places that we sometimes miss, because we want so badly to get to the After? It's a small commitment, but I think it could be really fun! We are calling it a Lenten Curation of Before & After pictures. We want to repurpose those Before & Afters and show how they point to the gospel.

WILL YOU MEET ME IN THE MIDDLE?

1. Create a before/after collage
2. Post it (on a blog or Pinterest or Instagram)
3. Tell how the story of the pics is a gospel story (can be a few sentences)
4. Hashtag #Meetmeinthemiddleproj
5. Link up Wednesdays Feb10-Mar23 (You CAN link up with the permalink from the Pin or the Instagram post!)

Sign up! Then link up at meetmeinthemiddleproject.com. In all, it is just seven before/after collages! Easy peasy! Here are some examples:

A furniture refinishing Before & After can remind us that Jesus promises to complete the work He began in us (Phil 1:6, ESV).

furniture Instagram

A garden Before & After reminds us that The Holy Spirit is an imperishable seed placed in us, that we will yield fruit even if our hearts look like fallow ground now (1 Peter 1:23, ESV).

Garden Before and After

The Before & After graphic design creation below is from a tutorial, where you can learn, step by step, how to create a tachometer that begins as a simple line. The website responsible for the images generously shares expert knowledge, offering FREE tutorials, using FREE (professional quality) vector graphics software. The everyday kindnesses represented in this Before & After remind me of how Jesus lived and taught, "Think of the kindness you wish others would show you; do the same for them” (Luke 6:31, VOICE).

Before&After Tachometer Tutorial

We start next week. Link up first here, at Three Word Wednesday. Then hop over to the Meet Me in the Middle Project and join us there!
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Britta LaFont is a sojourner. She was a military kid and is a military wife. She lives in the hot, hot desert of Arizona far, far away from her New Orleans family. She gratefully homeschools two of her most favorite people on the planet: 12-year-old Gracie and 10-year-old Josh. Britta and her husband Scott recently celebrated their 21st anniversary and foresee a happy ending to this military life in the very near future. Find her online at her blog, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest.
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Want more insights? "Peace in the Process: How Adoption Built My Faith & My Family" is available on Amazon. Like me on Facebook, follow me on Twitter, peek into my life on Instagram, follow 152 Insights at Bloglovin', or subscribe to receive "Insights in Your Inbox."

Friday, January 29, 2016

Five Things I Learned in January

January and I have a history. 

It's the month I decided to follow Jesus two decades ago, we met Cate's birth mom nine years ago, Greg proposed 14 years ago, Ben's adoption was finalized six years ago, and I was diagnosed with diabetes 12 years ago. In 2012, it was January when decided to adopt a third time, and while we waited more than three years for that to happen, I remember the day God freed me from those fears. Last January, we decided to go on a mission trip to Guatemala, a trip that's still rocking my world.

So, yeah, January. 

Honestly, this January hasn't had big moments. Rather it's been the kind of month where I've felt settled with where I am and who I am. I see God working in the everyday moments. I get teary thinking about all that God has done for us, in Januarys and all the other months of our lives.


In no particular order, here some things I've learned this month ... 

1. Snow days are the best.

Okay, so, really, I'm a summer girl. But if we're going to do winter, let's have some snow days! And then when the snow days are over, let the sun come out and the snow melt. Clearly, I'm an all-or-nothing girl too.

And, yes, I've had snow days before, but we had a couple in one week (the same week the kids already had that Monday off in honor of Martin Luther King Jr.) and having everybody home FOR TWO DAYS PLUS THE WEEKEND was so great.

One snow day was a Wednesday, and then the roads were fine enough for a delayed-start school on Thursday, which worked out well because I needed to go to the grocery. And then more snow came so the kids were off school again Friday. Hello, long weekend! And Greg stayed home Wednesday and Friday too, which is a definite perks of owning his own business.

We played games, ate warm foods, drank hot chocolate, made snow cream, and hung out with neighbor friends. One day our best friends were even here for eight hours. We managed to play five games of various versions of Settlers of Catan while the kids enjoyed each other's company.

The whole third week of January was a sweet balance of each of doing our own things and hanging out together as a family.

2. Swiss Miss Simply Cocoa (Milk Chocolate) is the best packaged hot coca.

I don't drink hot drinks. Not coffee. Not tea. And I used to only want real hot chocolate, like the kind my mother-in-law makes or the kind that comes from a coffee shop. But I bought this on a whim in January. And we liked it so much I bought it again. And, well, those snow days I mentioned gave us ample opportunity to heat some milk to mix with these packets.

3. Strep throat can still happen even when someone doesn't have tonsils. 

Ben, who is 6 years old, and strep throat are not strangers. Since he was 11 months old, he's had it 16 times. But only two of those have been since his tonsils and adenoids were removed nine months ago. So, basically, we've had a good stretch lately.

Ironically, Ben was at the allergist the day before his latest strep diagnosis and the nurse practitioner even looked in his throat, which was red and irritated by the time the pediatrician looked at it. Within hours of leaving the allergist, Ben started running a fever. The pediatrician did say the way the winter weather has been back and forth around here is hard on kids with allergies.

4. Technology makes managing a chronic condition more efficient and fun. 

Medtronic Diabetes has the best customer service of any company I've ever used for anything. When I called to order some glucose sensors (a little piece of technology that is inserts near where my pump is inserted and monitors my blood sugar levels) and the lady told me I could get a free Connect , which is a small Bluetooth device that lets my pump and sensor communicate send data to an app on my phone.

{Read more here about my diabetes diagnosis 12 years ago and what living with a pancreas that doesn't produce insulin in like.}

5. Those DVR shows will have to wait. 

Greg and I started watching "The West Wing" when all our regular shows took a holiday break. Now there are multiple episodes of "Madam Secretary," "Blue Bloods," and "The Blacklist" on the DVR just waiting for us. We can't stop watching Josiah Bartlet and company.

{Speaking of President Bartlet, why is Jed a nickname for Josiah?}
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I'm linking up with Emily Freeman, like I do at the end of every month. 

{2013} JuneJulyAugustSeptemberOctoberNovember
{2014} JanuaryFebruaryMarchAprilMayJune

Want more insights? "Peace in the Process: How Adoption Built My Faith & My Family" is available on Amazon. Like me on Facebook, follow me on Twitter, peek into my life on Instagram, follow 152 Insights at Bloglovin', or subscribe to receive "Insights in Your Inbox."

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Taking the Steps {a #ThreeWordWednesday post}


I want to get back to walking regularly. I don’t really love exercising, but I do love clearing my head, catching up with a friend if I’m able to walk with her, and reading a book while I want on the treadmill.

One recent morning, I got on the treadmill with a library book – “The Lake House” by Kate Morton – and started walking. I read a few pages, but combination of the font size and lighting (or lack thereof!) in the room made me strain as I was bouncing from the steps on the treadmill. Note to self: THIS is why I prefer my Kindle while walking on the treadmill.

So I closed the book, scrolled through Facebook and then sorted thoughts in my head. And I realized with each step I took, I wasn’t actually going anywhere. And isn’t that like life sometimes?

I know it’s how I’ve felt this week. I’ve struggled to find a groove – in chores, in errands, in writing – coming off a week that had my kids going to school twice and lots of fun family time. Last week was like an unplanned staycation and I loved every minute of that not going anywhere.

I’ve been in life seasons that had me stuck too. We waited a long time to have a baby the first time and even longer for our third. I’ve waited for healing to come in relationships. And I’ve waited for God to say, “Now.”

We take steps that we hope to move us forward but days and months and maybe even years later we find ourselves in the same place. And, you know, sometimes that’s okay. Sometimes God has us where he wants AND HE WANTS US TO STAY THERE.

Yes, there are times God calls us to go elsewhere.

But many times, being brave means taking the small steps, knowing full well our environment is going to stay the same. Even then, though, we’re not going to be the same because when we take the small steps toward a great big God, we’re changed from the inside out (Romans 12:1-2).

So take those steps, seek God, and be grateful for where you are. {Tweet that.}

Call the friend and invite her in – in your house and into your life. Tell your story – and not necessarily to the masses but to the friend you know needs to hear it. Be willing to teach your kids counter-culture ways, even when that’s hard and goes against “what everyone else is doing.” Eat meals around the table. Play games with your kids.

Right in there in the midst of life, of feeling like you’re taking all the steps but going nowhere, God is working. He’s weaving together these small details of our days into stories. {Tweet that.} And I get the feeling these are the stories we’ll remember when we’re in a different season, wondering how time escaped so quickly and praising God for what he has done.
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Want more insights? "Peace in the Process: How Adoption Built My Faith & My Family" is available on Amazon. Like me on Facebook, follow me on Twitter, peek into my life on Instagram, follow 152 Insights at Bloglovin', or subscribe to receive "Insights in Your Inbox."

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Breaking Busy {a review}


I wore busyness like a badge. I defined a successful day by how much I got done. I wanted everyone else to multi-task at my pace.

And then I had kids.

My idol of productivity still creeps in after more than eight years of motherhood. But the changed started happening when little people started depending on me.

Especially this third one who comes after an almost-six-year gap. In these first four months, she’s reminding me to slow down and cherish the moments.

I’m not the same person I was when I got married, or welcomed our first daughter home, or our son 30 months after that.

I don’t wear busyness as a badge anymore. Yes, I still have to remind myself that my to-do list doesn’t have to dominate my days. I still have fight the temptation to bow down to productivity as an idol.

But at least now I know better and recognize the importance of breaking busy.

At the end of 2015, I read Alli Worthington’s “Breaking Busy: How to Find Peace & Purpose in a World of Crazy,” which solidified what I’ve been learning the last several years. It’s a practical, real book with plenty of advice worth hearing and real life tales to make you giggle.

Just look at the chapter topics: Capacity. Relationships. Calling. Editing. Thoughts. Traditions. Time. Decisions. Communication. Worth. Those are all relevant to everyday life – the routines and motions that make up our usual days and the bigger picture of life.

It’s when we slow down enough in our ordinary days that God gives us a glimpse of the big picture – of what he has for us. “Breaking Busy” reminded me that God has me where he wants me, but trying to control everything around me conflicts with my calling to serve him.

“God has set our feet on a path that leads to where and how we can live out our calling. We often make ourselves very busy because we are searching for our calling. But it is when we slow down and choose to be busy only when what we are doing is our God-given purpose that we can see where God is leading us.”

Later in the book, Alli talks about how she had to make a choice about believing God – and that’s a choice we all have to make if we’re going to let go of the desire to control our lives.

“At that moment I had to decide whether I was going to keep living as if God wasn’t truthful, or if I was going to live like I believed that the God of the universe, who knit me together in my mother’s womb, was good and would bring me what I needed each day.”

Knowing God is enough and provides all we need is the essence to breaking busy. {Tweet that.} We don’t have to work harder and do more to prove our worth. Yes, we need to care for what he’s given us – and sometimes that’s hard work – but we’re loved just as we are.

In “Breaking Busy,” Alli also contrasts worry and anxiety – which is important for all the pressure society puts on us to be more, look better, exercise more, eat this and not that, be there and here at the same time, and maintain perfection in the process.

We can’t be all things to all people, but we can be our best selves to the people who matter most and the people God calls us to serve. We can have hard days and still be grateful for what we have and where we are. Like Alli said, “Gratitude is the antidote to anxiety.”

The last few years have been packed with lessons on letting go, not worshiping productivity, trusting God and believing his promises, and choosing joy. And this book ties so much of that together for me.
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ABOUT THE BOOK :: “Breaking Busy” marries popular secular research from the fields of social and positive psychology with solid biblical principles, instilling readers with the confidence that they, too, can move from crazy busy to confident calm.

The 207-page book officially releases today (Jan. 26) from Zondervan.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR :: Alli Worthington is an author, speaker, blogger, and the executive director of Propel Women. Her goal is to help women live the life they were created to live. Alli co-founded BlissDom Events and has helped individuals, small business owners, and Fortune 500 companies be more successful. Alli’s no-nonsense, guilt-free take on motherhood, parenting, and balance has led to appearances on TODAY and Good Morning America. She lives outside Nashville with her husband, Mark, their five sons, and their rescued dog and cat, who moved onto their doorstep. You can connect with Alli at AlliWorthington.com.
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I received a free, advanced copy of this book to read as part of the launch team. All opinions here are my own. 

Want more insights? "Peace in the Process: How Adoption Built My Faith & My Family" is available on Amazon. Like me on Facebook, follow me on Twitter, peek into my life on Instagram, follow 152 Insights at Bloglovin', or subscribe to receive "Insights in Your Inbox."

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Rachel @ 4 months {and some #ThreeWordWednesday reflections}

I know, it’s #ThreeWordWednesday, and you’re expecting some insightful reflections on what God is teaching. But, honestly, I just don’t have them right now. I’ve been overwhelmed – in a good way, the kind of way that only comes from God – with what God has done.

We’re blessed beyond my wildest dreams – we’re a family of five knit together in God’s perfect way, my husband’s business is successful, we have a community of people who love us and share their lives with us.

With those blessings, comes great responsibility. Some days I know exactly what that looks like for us, and other days I feel like I’m floundering.


“… For everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked.”

A God-sized Dream friend sent me “Raising Grateful Kids in an Entitled World” by Kristen Welch as a delayed secret Santa gift. I say delayed, it was really right on time. Read the subtitle: How one family learned that saying no can lead to life’s biggest yes.

The book may rock my world. I feel like God is preparing us for … something. I just started reading it yesterday and was nodding in agreement that parenting can be hard because I believe God has called us to a different standard than the one our society teaches.

Beyond that, I just don’t have much. (Yet.) Well, actually, I have a million thoughts but many of them aren’t connected (yet …), so I’m going with the simple documentation of life today because my baby girl is 4 months now.

(I know, I don’t know how it’s possible either. But it’s true, as of yesterday.)


She’s still happy, smiley, and a good sleeper. And every day is evidence she is perfect for our family.

And by good sleeper I mean she’s been sleeping nine-hour stretches at night, usually from 10 p.m. to 7 a.m. The last couple nights, she’s gone to bed around 8 p.m. and then I’ve fed her a couple hours after that. It’s what we like to call a dream feed because she doesn’t really even wake up, so that’s really more like an 11-hour stretch … good girl!

And by happy and smiley, I mean she is content as long as you have her bottles ready when she’s hungry. She’s been eating 6-7 ounces every 3-4 hours – which the nurse said was a lot. Hence the growth, I suppose: She weighs 14 pounds 7 ounces (that's double her birth weight!) and is 24 3/4 inches long.  She likes to babble, chew on anything, observe everyone and everything, and hang out on her play mat. She drools and spits up regularly.

She prefers being in the same room with people, which is why I think she prefers napping in her swing. She sleeps in her crib at night but had been rejecting the attempts to sleep in there during daytime hours, BUT the last couple days have included MULTIPLE NAPS IN HER BED.

She scoots some on her back and can roll from her belly to her back, but otherwise she’s still stationary. (I realize that could change in any moment.) I’m over carrying the car seat carrier thing, which is fine because she likes the wrap and the stroller.

That’s a glimpse into one of the greatest blessings of our lives. She’s little, but her life is mighty. She’s already changed me and I have the feeling God will use her for even more.

Look back on Rachel’s growth :: One month. Two months. Three months.
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AND #ThreeWordWednesday friends, I had a Facebook party the other night and the giveaways are still open. Of course, come on over to my Facebook page, where the conversations are always open. Anyway, the giveaways will be open through today {Wednesday}, so be sure to enter to win! 

Want more insights? "Peace in the Process: How Adoption Built My Faith & My Family" is available on Amazon. Like me on Facebook, follow me on Twitter, peek into my life on Instagram, follow 152 Insights at Bloglovin', or subscribe to receive "Insights in Your Inbox."