Thursday, September 29, 2011

Embrace High School Cheer

Today I'm teaching my girls a few cheerleading moves before we head up north for my 20th high school reunion!  They'll meet some of my old cheerleading buddies, so I want them to be ready with their "T, conehead, down, conehead" moves!!!

So, we're heading for the airport, we'll be gone for 5 days, so there will be no new post tomorrow and my Intentional Family post will be on Tuesday next week.
Happy cheering!  And Happy Weekend!

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

It Wouldn't Be Perfect

I was doing pretty well all summer, but as what would have been my due date approached, I was a mess again. I kept counting down thinking, “in one more month I would have had a tiny new baby,” then, “in one more week I would have been able to kiss those tiny toes,” and so on. One day I sat and cried with a friend, sharing how perfect the timing would have been to have a new baby in our family in September, “the girls are just starting school, so I’d only have Mack home with the new baby. The girls are so baby crazy right now, how lovely would it be to give them their own real life baby doll to play with?! I’ve always had vision for Macky to grow to be a great leader and I’ve always felt that he should have a younger sibling to lead. It would have been so perfect to head into fall and winter with a new baby to keep cozy, instead of having them in the heat of the summer. How much fun would it have been to have a newborn at Christmas? But if I were to get pregnant now – “ my girlfriend interrupted me. She finished my sentence and said, “it wouldn’t be perfect.” I quickly looked at her, shocked, because she said exactly what I was feeling and I don’t think anyone has said anything so comforting to me throughout this whole miscarriage thing. Most people desperately want to say something to stop the tears, bring hope, or remind me of the blessings I have. But rarely does someone, from the start, “sit in the pit” with you and totally agreed with your pain and not try to explain it away or remove it, but simply confirms it and validates the gut wrenching feelings that rear their ugly head at the most unexpected of times. We both agreed that we don’t think God had something to do with this, or that it was part of his plan or whatever. But that we live in an imperfect world where sometimes “life” just happens. I’ve been surprised at how many posts I’ve recently read by women who’ve lost babies in the past few weeks and months. It’s a club I never wanted to join and don’t wish for anymore to.

          I guess the beauty in the character of God is that he is Redeemer and Restorer and Healer and he makes all things new. I confess that I’m still waiting for all those things in this area of my life. But I am confident that in his timing they will flood over me, they have to, it would go against his nature if they don’t.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Intentional Family - Challenge Level Part II

      Do you think it is possible for a family to be over challenged or under challenged? Perhaps we expect too much of our children or plan too many activities. Or maybe we have no expectations, no plans and no vision. Children, just like us, will thrive if they are appropriately challenged. (If you’re lost on the whole challenge level thing, check out this post.) If children are over challenged, they are in danger of potential burn out and frustration. If they are under challenged, they are in a position to become bored, lazy and not living into their full potential.

      On a spectrum, there are 3 areas: Under Challenged, Appropriate Challenge Level, and Dangerously Over Challenged.




      It‘s difficult as a parent, especially as a mom, to keep everyone’s life in balance. It would be one thing if I only had to worry about myself (that’s hard enough!), But the reality is, I’m also responsible for 3 other little lives and keeping them appropriately challenged. It’s tough!
      Again, this post is NOT about doing more. It is NOT about feeling guilty because you haven’t done enough. It’s just important that we take some time to look at our kiddos individually and ask some intentional questions about their challenge level. I’m sure we can all agree that our desire is to raise healthy kids that are well rounded and that love Jesus. Sometime it’s easy to get out of wack and start to focus on other things that eat up our time and ultimately pull us away from those family values that we talked about a few weeks ago.
      Those family values come in very handy when making decisions about where to invest our time. If our children are running from soccer to dance to AWANA to play dates to karate, grabbing McDonald’s in between, is that in line with the family value “Family First”? Or if our children on the couch after school, playing video games for hours, getting into trouble because they’re bored, shuffling around with “nothing to do,” is that reflective of the family value “Work Hard”?  Whatever your family values are, use them to guide you as you help your children be appropriately challenged.

      There are a few areas of challenge to be looked at, not just after school involvement. Here are some questions to consider:
How challenged are your littles?

One thing that is really cool about having more than one child is that you get to see how different they really are and how God has not only uniquely gifted them, but also given them a unique perspective and approach to life. That is why, if you have more than one child, it is important to evaluate them individually. Just like us, children all have different appropriate challenge levels – what’s good for some is not good for others.

      One of the best gifts we can give our children is to create an environment for them where they can thrive! That environment doesn’t create itself – it takes intentional parents to make it happen. As parents, our most valuable weapon in raising our children is prayer. So pray through your family’s challenge level and ask God to make clear the appropriate level of challenge for everyone. God knows your children better than you do and he knows what is best for them – just ask him!!

Take some time to make a challenge level chart for each child. Put an “X” where you think they are currently operating. Put an “*” where you think they perform optimally. What can you do as a mom to help your child be appropriately challenged in the various areas of their lives? Do you need to help them say no to some things and cut back on their schedule? Do you need to encourage them to branch out and try something new? Ask God for wisdom and discernment.

How did you make out last week evaluating your own challenge level? What potential changes are you making? It’s important that we set a good example for our children – it starts with us being appropriately challenged!

Friday, September 23, 2011

I Want

It seems that school has opened up the girls’ eyes to some new things. Some good. Some not so good. I just want to shelter them from the evil of the world forever.
I want to keep them innocent and pure.
I want them to be completely free to be who God made them to be and now swayed by what the world says.
I want them to be confident and fearless.
I want them to be powerful women of God who leave a mark on this world.
Please God, protect my babies. 
Fill them with your Spirit and give them wisdom and discernment. 
Guard their hearts.
*see you Monday for another Intentional Family post - happy weekend!~

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Embrace the Single Moms

Another big change that hit our family this Fall is that Daddy Bear was promoted and now 3-4 days a week I am a single mom.  It's crazy.  It's exhausting.  It's special?  It's a challenge.  I have a new respect for single moms and all the work they do.  I also have a new appreciation for my partner and know how lucky I am to have someone to share parenting, life and house responsibilities with!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

"I Don’t Know How She Does It”

I went to the movie, “I Don’t Know How She Does It” last night with a girlfriend. It was good. Thought provoking. Probably could have spurred on some good conversation if we both didn’t have to get home to go to bed! Throughout the movie, the working mom is marveled at by many who say, “I don’t know how she does it,” meaning juggling a family and a career. It was an interesting portrayal of moms today – stay at home moms and working moms. One of the things that struck me was the title of the movie that I myself have heard in regards to myself – “Raeanne, I don’t know how you do it.” Last month at our end of summer bash a dear friend told me that she knows women who can’t read my blog because it makes them feel bad about themselves or guilty that their life isn’t perfect like mine. I was so disgusted at this thought that I didn’t really hear all that she was saying. My perfect life? Seriously? All I know is that I don’t do it all. And when I try, someone always suffers. And I mean someone ALWAYS suffers. I don’t have a perfect life. My children aren’t perfect. My marriage isn’t perfect. However, I do love to cook. I do love to decorate for parties. I do think my children are beautiful. I do love my husband. But that doesn’t mean I have it all together. My original vision for my blog was to encourage and challenge others as I find Jesus in my everyday, small life as a mom and a wife. It’s not to portray myself as perfect. It is also not to share all of my faults and failures. In regards to the movie and the lead Sara Jessica Parker, I joked, “How does she do it? She doesn’t. Her staff does!” None of us have it all together. But I pray that we all have a community of believers acting as our “staff” that helps us.
*pictured is me with one of my trusted "staff" members! 
A dear sister in christ who helps me live my life to the glory of God

Monday, September 19, 2011

Intentional Family - Challenge Level Part I

Adapted from a lecture by Bill Hybels at the Global Leadership Summit

        What is your current challenge level as a Mom? What is your current challenge level in life? These aren’t questions we normally ask ourselves! We’re usually too busy to take the time to honestly evaluate where we’re at! But these simple questions have recently changed my life.

On a spectrum, there are 3 areas:
Under Challenged, Appropriate Challenge Level, and Dangerously Over Challenged.

        If we are under challenged, we are not bringing our best game to our families. If we are dangerously over challenged, we are setting an unhealthy example and once again not bringing our best to the table. The optimum place to be is just above the Appropriate Challenge Level where we are stretched and challenged, but not to the point of being overwhelmed and stressed.
        This post today is NOT about doing more. It is NOT about loading up your week with more activities and chaos. It’s NOT about feeling guilty that you don’t do enough. Please don’t for a moment think that this is all about becoming Super Mom who can do it all! The challenge level evaluation is an individual thing. An appropriate challenge level to me might look totally different than an appropriate challenge level to you.
        Looking at the challenge level chart, I was asked to place an “X” where my current challenge level was and an “*” where I do my best work. I placed my “X” high up in the “under challenged” section. I then placed my “*” at the bottom of the “Dangerously Over Challenged” section. I know that I operate best when I am just slightly above an appropriate challenge level, a place where I’m stretched and pushed a bit, but not to the point of breaking. And in that lecture, I was honest to say that in my life I was operating in an under challenged realm.
        I looked at a few areas in my life – physical, spiritual, parenting, and marriage. Physically I’ve known that I’m way under challenged and that’s why we decided a few months back that it was worth the investment to join a gym so that I could challenge my body physically, be a healthy example to my children, and gain more energy through a healthy life style. I thought it would be impossible to find the time to go work out, but it’s amazing how when something becomes a priority how the time is found!
        Spiritually I’ve felt very under challenged as well. I decided to take some steps to challenge myself spiritually this year by joining a Bible study and mentoring a group of college students. And I’ve known that I’m squeaking by with the bare minimum in some areas of my responsibilities as a wife and mother which is why I decided to cancel cable!
        The truth is that I’m not very disciplined. I know for me one of my biggest distractions is the television. I could be spending quality time with my husband in conversation, playing a game, or watching an occasional movie. I could be packing the kids’ lunches the night before so I’m not running around like crazy in the morning. But instead I’m watching television. I came home and told my husband that we needed to cancel cable. He agreed and our cable is gone. (Let me be clear in saying that we still have Netflix and can stream movies into our television, which we do. I am not against television at all.)

        If we are going to be intentional mothers, intentional wives, intentional children of God, then we need to honestly evaluate our lives and admit where our current challenge level is. We might need to kick it up a notch. Or we might need to learn to say, “no” more and let some things go.

Take a moment and copy down the challenge level chart on a piece of paper.
Put an “X” where your current challenge level is.
Where do you do your best work? Put a “*” where you perform best.
Ask God to reveal to you ways in which you can get to the place of your optimum performance. Perhaps you need to cut a few things out of your life. Or maybe you need to be challenged in some areas.
How was you experience last week in thinking about Family Values?

Friday, September 16, 2011

Did You Know?

Did you know that God answers prayer?
It’s no secret that I’ve been a little stressed about my daughters starting kindergarten in a public school. I went to public school and always knew I’d send my children to public school (especially because the schools in our district are phenomenal). But now that the time has come, I’ve been nervous about sending my babies out into the world for a few hours a day. But guess what? God has answered my prayers and given my girls Christian teachers and we just met a second family from our church that has a kindergartener at our school. Yes, God answers prayers.
Did you know that God takes away our fears?
My daughter just had her 5 year check up and our Pediatrician heard a heart murmur. She sent us down to a pediatric cardiologist and my heart was beating more quickly than normal! They agreed to squeeze us into a packed schedule and we were grateful to sit and wait a bit. When the doctor came in he had a huge smile on his face and he was so nice and friendly to us. He listened to her heart and then called for an EKG and left the room. I was a bit nervous and just praying that everything was ok. “Mommy, I saw that man in our Sunday school class,” my daughter said. After the EKG, the doctor brought us into his office and per my daughter’s prompting, I said that she thought she had seen him in Sunday school. He asked what church we went to and when I told him he said, “yep, that was me. My wife and I help in elementary Sunday school.” What? Our church is at least ½ hour away from our doctor’s office and our church is very large – so what are the odds that this doctor goes to our church, let alone taught in my daughter’s class a few weeks ago? Odds are pretty good when God loves us so much that he brings a Christian doctor into our lives to ease our fears and assure us that my daughter’s heart is fine!
Did you know that a salad spinner is endless fun for kids?
I left the salad spinner out and my son got a hold of it! I caught him tearing up paper and putting it in the basket and then watching it spin around. Against my normal, “that isn’t what that’s used for,” tendency, I let him play and have a blast experimenting with different objects in the salad spinner!
Did you know that Joe knows yogurt?
Check out “What Does Joe Know” over in the right column!

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Embrace 7 Years

Since it was just our anniversary on Sunday, I thought my Embrace the Camera
should be some wedding photos!!
a casual family photo before we left for the wedding
 probably my most favorite wedding photo of all time - the moment my groom saw me.  I was in love with our photographer for capturing this moment
(my husband's dad was his best man and he quickly tucked a handkerchief in his son's hand when he saw him crying!)
I had my Grandmother's bouquet of gardenias replicated for my bouquet
 this photo captures one of many moments filled with surprises and laughter

and the cutting of the cake - we used my Grandmother's wedding topper and I just loved the old school feel of our classic wedding cake
 my brother was our chauffeur
that drove us away in this fabulous old Packard
7 years, 3 kids, 3 homes, and lots of love and wonderful memories

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

You Are Loved

As I sat and listened to her story, I was honored that she trusted me enough to share. Recently graduated from college, this young woman explained her journey through college, searching for love. She knew Jesus, but insecurities sent her searching for acceptance. Although she tried, she didn’t find it in her sorority, partying or boyfriends. Even the youth group she helped out in turned her away when they learned of some mistakes she had made.
     Her painful search for love pushed her into uncharted territories until she finally hit rock bottom and decided to end the search and completely surrender to Christ. Now she is serving in college ministry, sharing her story with so many students on the same journey to find true love and acceptance. Although her road was rough and painful, God is using her to share His unconditional love with so many that need to hear it.
No matter who you are, where you grew up, or what titles you’ve held, we are all the same. We all want to be loved.
     On our summer trip we visited the largest tree on earth! No photo could capture it’s grandeur. You can’t really even begin to grasp the massive trunk. That’s exactly like God’s love for us – totally unfathomable.

"And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge – that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.” Ephesians 3:17-19
Know that You Are Loved!

Monday, September 12, 2011

Intentional Family - Family Values

It was 7 years ago yesterday that I walked down that front lawn with my Daddy to meet my groom. It was one of the most spectacular days of my life. All the details – the music, the spoken words, the flowers, the dress, the guests… it all was planned out with a great deal of care and intention. It was my desire that everyone who came to my wedding would encounter the living God and experience a miracle as He united two people. With that goal in mind, all the preparations were made. Because I planned my wedding intentionally, my goals and dreams were achieved.
     As I spent the weekend looking at our wedding photos I recalled all the details and all the work. It was my “once in a life time” and I didn’t want to miss a thing! Several days before my wedding my Dad and I went to Villa Montalvo to practice our long walk from the villa to the alter. We had it timed just perfectly with the music so by the time we hit the bridal party, the music would conclude! Those things don’t just happen. They must be planned, thought out and practiced. 9 months of planning for one day!
     I am convicted that I have not spent as much time “planning” for my family. I have not taken the time, effort and intentionality to set goals, visions and dreams for my family. And just as that wedding day flew by, time with my children is going by even faster. I don’t want to spend one more day without a plan.
     In this series, Intentional Family, my hope is that together we can become intentional with our families. My hope is that we get serious about this gift we’ve been given and see God do great things in and through our families. I hope you’ll join me for this series every Monday and offer your thoughts and wisdom too! Let’s get started…

Family Values
It’s easy in the midst of having babies to enter into survival mode. You’re up all night, you’re learning curve is far too steep, and being overwhelmed is an understatement! But when those babies are 6 months old, you’ve hit your stride, they’re sleeping through the night – and so are you!, and parenting seems a bit more manageable – then what? I think survival mode turns into coasting. We start living in a routine and it feels nice. Then there are bumps in the road that kick us right back into survival mode like teething, walking, the arrival of a second baby, or financial changes, career moves or relocations. And we begin this dance between survival mode and coasting. And I believe that without sitting down and being intentional with how we “do” family, we will forever be stuck in the dance and never move into a season of thriving. How do we get to a place of thriving as a family? We must be intentional. Successful companies don’t just happen. There is a plan, a strategy, a vision and skilled, committed people to carry out the vision. It takes hard work, it takes time, and it takes commitment. The same is true for family – great ones don’t just happen! I don’t want to spend one more day simply surviving. I’m ready to thrive. Are you? It all starts with a plan.

     The first part of the plan is identifying our core values as a family.  What are we all about?  What do we believe in?  Large corporations have a clear set of values by which they operate in order to succeed. Families must too. Are your family’s core values clear?
     I heard a woman speak about family values and I was overwhelmed at the mere process of coming up with a list! She suggested using her family values and in time revising them. I thought that sounded like a rip-off, but you know what, it was just what I needed to get started. As my Daddy always says, “it’s easier to steer a moving car.”  In other words, start with something to get going and you can steer into different directions as you go.
Here was the example of her Family Values:
Love God
Family First
Work Hard
Tell the Truth
Be Kind

It’s important that our family values are clear and concise. Can you print them on a t-shirt? (not that you’re actually going to make them! or are you?) They should be something that the family can memorize. So many of you are creative and crafty, I’m sure you could make some fabulous framed art of your family values to hang in your home as a beautiful reminder of what you are all about.

This week’s CHALLENGE:
Come up with your family core values. Here are some questions to help you get started:
What do you want to be known for as a family? What qualities do you value? What are your goals for your family?  What kind of people do you want your children to become?  Take some time to pray through these questions before you answer them.
*what are your thoughts? Please share your questions and wisdom!

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Friday, September 9, 2011

Freedom & Joy

Isn’t this picture magical? My son just released a rocket balloon into the sky at his buddy’s birthday party! I just love the complete look of freedom and joy on his face as he let go. Hmmm… letting go… that brings joy and freedom… I keep mentioning that my family is experiencing some changes right now and I’m learning to let go. It’s not something that I’m good at. I’m really good at holding onto my plans, my schedule, my ideas and my ways. One of the biggest changes in our lives right now is that my husband was promoted and with that new promotion he received a new work schedule. He now works Friday, Saturday and Sunday on the graveyard shift! Which means I’m a single Moma all weekend long. And during the weekdays, Daddy is around to help and, um, well, do things a little differently than I do! I’m trying really hard to let go and find joy and freedom in this new season with my new weekday helper! It might take me awhile as I struggle to let go of control. I hope my husband is as patient with me as God is. How long have I struggled with letting go my plans, my ways, my ideas and trusting God? It’s a constant struggle. But I’ve seen Him prove faithful time and again and when I completely surrender to Him all that I have and all that I am, I experience true freedom and joy. Happy Weekend!
*I hope you’ll join me on Monday for my first post in the Intentional Family series.


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