in a valley...

praying for a peak.... soon!

it feels like we have been in a valley for quite some time. i feel like we have been pruned a whole lot and then placed in a valley. can that happen to us all at that same time? it sure has. we keep saying that something big is about to happen. all the pruning and all the valleys have to lead to some great fruit and some big peaks - right? today, i have been praying that it happens really really soon.

for some time now, i have been going with the flow and knowing that all of this is God's plan for us. all that we have been through and are going through - is His plan. most days my chin is up and my head held high. today is not one of those days. most days i am very optimistic and encouraged by all that is going on. but today is not one of those days. i am very very far from either of those emotions. today, i am pessimistic and discouraged. today is not one of those days. i am exhausted and completely spent. i don't feel like i have a thing left to give.

not sure what in the world is going to be thrown at us next, i feel like i am definitely not throwing the first punch (sorry, Pastor). i feel like i am down and out and barely have the strength to get up and fight.

i pray for the strength to carry this large ripe fruit all the way through the valley and to the very top of the peak. today, i am on my knees with tears streaming praying for the pruning to be done and to be on the top of the peak. i know this is all my timing, not His. i just can not take another punch.

disclaimer: i know this is not a very uplifting or encouraging post to read today. i apologize, hopefully soon i can post some words of encouragement or laughter -- today is just not one of them. one of the purposes of my blog is to be transparent -- so today you get what you see! so actually i am going to take back the apology from above.


mom with a mission...

after a few weeks of trying to get adjusted to all the things i have on my plate. i realized that i was going to have to start making some changes in the way that i do things. the way that i schedule our day and our activities, the way that i organize the mounds of papers, mail and schoolwork that come through the door, the expectations i put on myself to accomplish all that i am trying to do and the way i go about my day putting God first.

i realized today while i was driving (go minivan moms!!) that my involvement and my life (aka the things i have on my plate) is busy and it will probably stay this way for awhile. most of the things i am involved in revolve around my role as a mom. (ie: i am a room mom at josh's school, i work one day a week at jordyn and jesiah's preschool, i am a "day care mom" to our little friend tucker, mom's book study ~~ i am also involved in the community groups ministry at elevation, where i attend a couple's small group and also lead a high school small group.)

i realized as i was driving, that i am complete, i am content with what i have on my plate and where my life is going. there were a few other things that i had thought about doing or adding. but i am ok, completely ok with the things i have. i am not going to add anything else. they are enough for me. they are christ honoring and they keep me plenty busy. i am learning how to say no and keep these things chugging along! (more about saying no in another post!)

so, it came to me today that i need a mission statement to help reinforce and support what i am doing in my ministry. to keep me focused and not getting off track. most churches, ministries, organizations and schools have a mission statement. so i thought, well my ministry right now in this stage of life is being a wife and a mom. and that is where i am going to remain centered and grounded.

so, i am going to begin working on a mission statement for my ministry. i encourage you to take a look at what is on your plate and ask yourself, "does it follow my mission statement? or is it helping me achieve "a win" for what my mission is?" if the answer is no, you may have to do one of two things: rewrite or rethink your mission statement or remove those things that don't line up with your mission.

whether you have thought about writing a mission statement or not, that doesn't matter -- what is most important is that as moms we understand that God has given us our family to minister to - our family is our ministry first and foremost. and what we do really really does matter.

mothering matters...be intentional about being a mom with a mission!!

big stupid prayers

last night, we attended elevation's prayer experience at butler high school. and it was unlike any kind of experience i have had before. it was awesome. it was so restoring and encouraging. elevation is an absolutely amazing church. it has been such a place of healing and comfort for me. i feel so blessed to be a part of the amazing things God is doing there. and i mean God is doing things at our church. last night as pastor spoke and took us back through the history of elevation, which i must note is under two years old. hearing and remembering what has taken place in the life of our church in such a short time was so motivating. it was motivating because the huge things that are happening at elevation MUST be of God. the number of people in attendance at each sunday experience, the number of salvations that have taken place, the number of people who are plugged in to serve and to take part in small groups, the number of lives changed. all of these are big huge numbers. so big that pastor, the staff, the leaders and the volunteers can't be doing all of this themselves. God is working at elevation! pastor has set a specific and HUGE vision to dominate charlotte. and God is giving us HUGE results. the people at elevation are on board and committed to this vision and we are on our way to making that happen.

last night pastor encouraged us all to pray big huge stupid prayers. what he meant by stupid is that they are so big they seem ridiculous and stupid. they are so big that when those prayers are answered that people have to say this must have been a God thing. there is no humanly way that this could be achieved. we prayed big stupid prayers of all sorts last night. we prayed on our own, we prayed in groups of two, we prayed in groups of three to five, and we prayed as a whole congregation. we prayed personal prayers, we prayed for our partners and fellow believers sitting around us, we prayed for elevation, we prayed for pastor and his wife, we prayed for the staff and we prayed for the city of charlotte. lots of big huge stupid ridiculous prayers were prayed last night. when these prayers, which were asked boldly and with confidence are answered those who are not believers will have no other choice but to begin to believe. as each prayer big and small are answered we as a body of believers are just one person closer, one step closer to reaching and DOMINATING the city of charlotte, nc!!! woohoo!!!

i made a commitment last night to continue to pray boldly and faithfully my big stupid prayers. i have two huge prayers that i know God will answer. when He does those around me who don't believe or are on the fence about this whole God thing, will be amazed and will begin to think twice about who He is. they will have no choice, once these prayers are answered they will know that i couldn't have done these things on my own, it would have to be the big and mighty God whom i love and serve.


spanky did it

a few months ago, jamil rented a little rascals movie for the kids. they loved it. jamil then bought one at wal mart for really cheap. so my kids like to watch the little rascals. shortly after viewing the movie a dozen or so times, jesiah began to blame things on "spanky". if you have ever heard jesiah speak - he speaks very well for a two year old, he speaks in complete 6-8 word sentences and you can pretty clearly understand him. although he says a few words really cute like instead of "spanky" he will say "panky" and instead of "spicy" he will say "picy". it is really cute.

anyway, enough bragging on my little guy. well, one day jesiah told jordyn to "shut up" which we really do not like our kids to say, but they do. (yup our children are not perfect) so i said to jesiah, don't say that it isn't nice. and he replied to me, "but panky said it". another day, he spilled his bowl of cereal and left a mess and when i asked him if he did it he said, "no panky did it". then the other night he knocked our laptop off of the table and jamil heard the thud and told jesiah - "no, no you don't touch the laptop." jesiah replied, "panky did it, panky did it"

it just cracks us up that he is blaming the little things he does on a tv character. obviously, he realized that even the little boys on tv get into stuff like he does. and when he does - he blames it on "panky" so cute and so innocently.


a little writer's block

well, my husband noticed i haven't posted a blog since the last one which talked about why it had been so long since that one. i guess i will chalk it up to writer's block. aside from the fact that i haven't really had a chance to sit down and write, i just am not sure what to write about. we have a lot going on. but who doesn't?

today, we spent most of the day just resting and hanging out. not a thing got crossed off of my "to do" list. but we have all been pretty exhausted (and coming down with colds) from the busyness of life and it was nice to just hang around. we do not often do that. i am glad that we did. it was just what the doctor ordered!

tomorrow, elevation church will be launching two services at butler high school. this is such a big deal and such a blessing for our church. this will allow elevation to have seats for so many more people! we will be going to butler! we went back and forth on the decision for quite awhile and then jamil was offered an opportunity to serve that puts him completely in his sweet spot! so, that was a clear sign from God to make the move. so once again we are making a change. i am excited but a little nervous. we were just getting adjusted and settled at providence. tomorrow, our good friends will be coming to visit and they have three boys who are the same ages as our kids, so our kids will have a built in friend in each of their classes! that will help the adjustment for them. and having some friends join me in the service will be good for me too. jamil will be busy doing his thing. i am sure that tomorrow will be a wonderful day in the life of our church. i am excited to see what God has in store for elevation! so if you are looking for an awesome place to worship -- come check it out -- i promise you will not be sorry that you did!!!

hopefully, my writer's block will be over and i will post again soon!!


long time - no blog post...

today, i was talking to my friend stephanie and was telling her about how i have been down and out lately. and she said something to the effect of "oh is that why you haven't written a new post recently." and she nailed it on the head! in fact, i have written a post about the lousy mood i have been in but never posted it for fear of sounding to negative. when i wrote it, i don't think there was anything positive or joyful in it.

basically, i have just been pretty on edge and moody and the biggest mood i have been displaying is grumpiness. atleast around the house with my family. boy, they sure take the brunt of my moodiness. i am sure no one at church or in carpool or even at Harris Teeter notice my bad mood.

it took me some time to put my finger on my bad attitude. and i have only one way to point my finger -- that is to satan. he is soooo trying to throw me off track and disillusion me right now. because in all honesty, there is nothing "bad" going on with me. aside from normal daily stress of raising three young children, everything is going good. i am having a hard time getting into the groove of this fall schedule of ours. we have gotten pretty busy, pretty fast!

i am ok with the busyness, because we have made solid decisions on where we are spending our time and making sure it is putting our family first. now, there are a few things here and there that don't put them first, like attending a small group, but the time that jamil and i have to be with other couples who can hold us up and keep us accountable -- our children will benefit from that.

so that has been why i have put off writing a new post ....


a pretty little basket...

last night was the first "momtourage" book study. a group of moms all gathered for the same purpose ~ to have a place to be transparent and real, to gain support from other women in the same walk of life and to discover what God has in store for us as moms and wives and so many other roles we play.

for our first night together, we had time to fellowship and had an icebreaker and some time to share prayer requests. i brought the "prop" for the icebreaker. yesterday, i found a basket and gathered a bunch of random items and put them in the basket. as i was doing that, i thought to myself, i have soooo many of these baskets of "stuff" lying around my house, i should have just brought one of those -- it would have been effortless! the one thing about myself that i was reminded of was that i LOVE and NEED organization in my life -- hence all the baskets and containers of stuff. but truly, if you looked inside of one of those baskets or a closet for that matter, you would probably see a bunch of stuff that may not have any kind of organization. with my hectic life, sometimes that is all i can do to maintain some sanity is to collect everything and put it in a container, so at least things look neat and orderly from the outside but what is inside is a bunch of mismatched random items.

so, last night, i asked the ladies to each take a out one item from the basket and explain why they chose that item. that really helped to open up the doors to each of our lives, some things that were shared were very deep, some funny and some sad. but the point was every lady appeared to be open and real! of course, my turn came and i was holding my friend's baby and didn't necessarily have hands to pick out my item, but then this thought came to my mind....

i used the entire pretty little basket as an analogy of my life. my life most often resembles a pretty little basket -- everything looks neat and all together from the outside, but when you get to the inside it is really pretty messy. does anyone else feel like that? i really truly try to be transparent and open and real, but sometimes i appear to have it all together and the truth is i really do not. i never want to appear to be something i am not. but i also know that i really shouldn't wear all of my mess on the outside, because if i did that then i wouldn't be a lot of fun to be around. again, with everything it is a balance. there are times and places and with certain people that i think it is appropriate to be "messy". and there are times when "the pretty little basket" needs to be on display.

please note i am not saying that when you are the "pretty little basket" that you should be pretending to be something that you are not. i am not saying that at all. i just mean we can't always be spilling all of our junk all over the place to everyone we meet. if we did that, as christ followers what kind of example would we be setting. those who are far from christ might just run the opposite way.

so, i think as women with so much stuff in our baskets we need to take the time to sort through our mess and try to be as neat as we can, but never to fear showing others our mess from time to time.


aren't we done, God?

for the last couple of days i have felt not like myself. almost like i don't know who i am. i haven't felt like i want to do anything at all, even though my house is a disaster and i should be cleaning it. i haven't been in the mood to play with my kids, am i the only one out there who feels like that sometimes. i have felt like my body is here, but my energy and thoughts and feelings are elsewhere and i don't know where they are. i feel like i can't make any decisions or have a clear focus, which is so totally frustrating. and all of these things add up to make me feel unproductive and then that leads to feeling rotten. i like feeling productive. i like accomplishing things.

so today, i have been trying to put a finger on why i might be feeling this way. i begun the day asking God to order my steps in His way. i have felt like my steps have been more like stumbles today. i am not sure what is going on with me. i think that there are two things going on. i think God is still not finished with me, He is still molding, shaping and changing all parts of me. i also think that i have so many emotions and thoughts put into so many of the areas of my life, mostly the ones He is working on - that i can not even think straight. i have no patience and i feel exhausted. i will start something and then stop - completely scatterbrained and even procrastinating on things. to top it all off, i am not feeling that great - i am fighting off a cold and it is winning right now. i think my feeling all these things was God trying to get my attention and by making me feel unproductive and not like myself He knows i will turn to him for direction and He knows He has my attention and then He will proceed to teach me or show me things I didn't know.

pretty much i have identified that God is working on me. He has been for quite some time. i don't mean to sound ungrateful, but aren't we done yet, God? i can not recall if i have posted using this analogy - if i have, hang in there with me. my friend, beth and i talked a few months ago about the analogy of the potter's hand. and how God basically will smash a piece of work, breaking it into pieces and then start over with a fresh new piece and begin to mold and shape it into His image, which is very different from the broken piece before it was smashed. by no means did i create this analogy on my own, i have heard it other times in my life. but it so applies to my life right now. a while ago i was soooo broken, i mean painfully and completely broken.

i was the piece that was broken and smashed and He started over with me. God has given me a new form and shape. but He isn't done with me yet. i wonder if He will ever be done with me. i think God is always at work in our lives, but sometimes i think He just has to work on smoothing out some rough edges. then there are other times when He has to break us and remake us. honestly, i am tired. i am ready to be smoothed over and not rebuilt. i probably shouldn't feel this way, i don't mean to be ungrateful. i am so excited about all that He is doing in soooo many areas of my life. but i am exhausted, physically, spiritually and emotionally. i want to feel settled. i want to feel like i know who i am. i don't feel like i even know myself. i have allowed God complete control and i don't know how i am going to react to or act on any decision. i have given up control. i love being in control, so this is so unlike me. i am just ready to know who i am again.

but for some reason, he isn't ready to be done with me, i am still very much a work in progress.


summer's end...

the labor day weekend flew by and i guess it is official that summer is at it's end. right? well, who would know -- it is still pretty hot outside. so here is what has been going on around here.

today, was the first day of preschool for jordyn and jesiah! they did wonderful. neither cried when i dropped them off! i was thrilled. that sure makes for very little mommy guilt when you leave. although, it was a little weird going to wal-mart without my children today - i refrained from feeling guilt. and that is all i got done today - a trip to wal-mart. by the time i dropped everyone off and met up with stephanie it was nearly 10:00. i had to drop off three children (my two plus the little guy i take care of) who were scattered all over the preschool. and being the first day it was pretty hectic and crowded. nonetheless, i love my kids' teachers, classrooms and the new building they are in. oh and they had a great time too!!

yesterday, jordyn had her first ballet class at her new ballet school. she LOVED it. she loved her teeny tiny class (only 4 little girls) and loved her teacher. so did mommy! i was very impressed with the studio. she loved being in ballet again.

jordyn spent the labor day weekend in baltimore visiting with my grandparents, sister, aunt, uncle and cousins. she went with my mom and dad. she had such a good time. she came home on monday and literally crashed for the afternoon and still went to bed on time that night. not having her around for the weekend certainly changed the dynamics - it was a lot quieter. but of course i missed her. although, today i wanted to send her right back to baltimore -- i know my gram and pop would love to have her back! jordyn was suppose to be taking a nap and i walked in to find her in my bathroom, she had squirted out a nice portion of my contact solution and a WHOLE bottle of facial cleanser. she had poured all of this stuff into three cups that were on the edge of my bathtub. i about had a break down. i feel like i move from mess to mess throughout the house all day long.

joshua and i started a school project tonight that was assigned awhile ago and is due next week. he informed me tonight that some of his classmates have already brought theirs in. hmmm... not us, we will be doing good to get it in next week! he is building a diorama of the habitat of a king cobra snake. he has some great ideas ~ but so do i ~ it is a little hard for me to let him be the one doing all of the work. but i know i have to. i love to do that kind of stuff with him! but i do want it to resemble his capabilities and not mine.

joshua got to have a sleepover on sunday night with his "best brother" elijah. he had a fun time. he just loves to have sleepovers! so for one night and a half a day jamil and i had only one child and one puppy. that was quite different. jesiah got some undivided attention from both of us on monday. we hung out around here and did things inside and outside. he had a good day!

jesiah has been his happy go lucky self as usual. except yesterday he colored all over my new, freshly painted walls in my hallway. i wanted to scream. and i probably did. we have also been having a time with him and potty training. this is so different for me. by this age josh and jordyn were already done potty training, having no accidents and in underwear. no, not this little guy, he is almost there, but we still have quite a few accidents. it is like he just forgets to go - pee or poop. just doesn't take the time to stop playing and go - so he goes in his big boy pants. and i probably confuse him, b/c i get so frustrated and tired of the mess so i put him in pull ups. i don't know. between potty training him and house breaking the puppy -- i am going to need to tear out my carpet and put in new floors!!

we are slowly but surely getting into our fall schedule. it is already wild and crazy and hectic, but what else could i expect?

i will post some pictures soon.


what made the cut...

over a week ago i posted about all of the commitments i had made and that i was trying to cross some of them off my list. i just got finished doing our calendar for the month and i am sooooo glad that i did cross some things off, because i am still quite busy!

so, you are probably wondering what made the cut.... well, first i have to say that my putting my family first is the largest commitment i have made. i will continue to seek wisdom and accountability on doing this. i don't want to go back to the place where i am so busy that i don't have time for my husband or kids. or that when i do have a carved out amount of time that i am not completely exhausted and falling asleep during a date night, a sporting event or playing a game. i have realized that having a famiy keeps me pretty busy ~ and that isn't adding anything else to that.

i also do recognize that i do have to have other things in my life that are outside of being a wife and being a mommy. but it all has to be within a balance.

most of the things i have chosen to do will not rock the dynamics of our family too much. i was conscious not to be gone too much (or too little for my sanity!) at night or doing things that require a babysitter. i also was conscious to take my husband's schedule into consideration!

so in addition to taking josh to and from school (oh btw, i have found a carpool to help here!), and taking jordyn and jesiah to school on 3 days a week, and taking them wherever else they need to go (ballet once a week for jordyn and only 2 sports in a year for josh) i am going to be taking care of a sweet three year old boy three days a week -- he will go to school with my kids on 2 of those days and we will have him on one other day as well. i will also work at the kid's preschool one morning a week as a floating teacher. i will figure out how to best volunteer at josh's school in between all of this. i will be doing a mom's book study with some ladies from church - which will be some "me" time! jamil and i will be leading a high school small group. we will not be leading an adult small group - although we will attend one. on sunday mornings i will be helping out with our ekidz area! so those are the commitments we have made. pretty simple yet we will still be busy.

i will use my "free" mornings twice a week while the kids are at school to go to the ymca and work out -- hopefully my friend kelly will hold me accountable there!! and i will also run my errands, so i don't have to grocery shop at night when jamil comes home.

i have been learning that less is more. i can choose to be involved in a few things and do them really well instead of gettng into a lot of things and doing them only a little bit well. i will choose the less is more concept and then apply it by learning how to say "NO". as hard as this can be for me, i know that my family benefits from it. i refuse to allow satan a stronghold and throw me out of balance again. my family will be first. if i commit to everyone else and not my family does that make sense? nope. enough said!


what a deal....

ok, i just had to blog about the deals i got last night when we went to the vera bradley outlet sale.

a little history:
for those of you who don't know me -- i am a vera bradley addict. love them. it all started 2 years ago when a group of my bible study friends bought me a bermuda blue baby bag for my baby shower for jesiah. i was looking for a baby bag - that would be good for 2 babies, since jordyn was only 19 months old when jesiah was born. my friend beth had a sherbet baby bag for her baby girl, emma (who is no longer a baby, she just turned 3!) and said she loved it. she started my obsession with vera bradley. thank you for getting me addicted, beth!

the obsession:
anyway, ever since then i have been obsessed. i have quite a collection. i have received every single one as a gift from all different people in my life! i love them -- love them. can not part with a single one of them.

the deal (part 1)
ok on to the deal that i found... a few weeks (months?) ago, i received an email from vera bradley in regards to the outlet sale coming to charlotte. i thought, wow, fun! but thought how cheap could they be? i put it out of my mind until last weekend when my mom asked if i was going. i told her i didn't think so, she reminded me that my birthday was coming and if i wanted to get something(s) that i should go. then on thursday my friend kristen called to see if i wanted to go with her on friday and i couldn't go with all 3 boys. i still was not convinced that there would be deals.

the deal (part 2)
well, yesterday she called me and told me how CHEAP everything is. and i mean CHEAP! kristen is a fru - gal so i knew she meant business! then i called all my vera bradley groupies and told them of the deals kristen got! that is when it all started. and my mom reminded me again of my approaching birthday!!! thanks mom!!!

so last night stephanie, dianna and i drove to the merchandise mart in charlotte. we met up with amy and chelsea and amy's future sister in law, katie. we had a BLAST!!! it was so much fun.

the real deal...

i came home with 10 pieces for about $100!!! yes i said 10 things for $100! i got 2 puppy collars and 1 leash, 2 belts, 1 watch, and 4 bags!!!! all for like $108. i was soooo excited. just to give you an idea of the deals:

~the leashes and collars were $1-$2 each (retail $17-$20)
~the watch was $16 (retail $95)
~ the belts were $2 (retail $26)
~ the bags i got were: a backsack ($34 - retail $ 55), a lindsay ($17 - retail $67), a julie ($17 - retail $69 , a molly ($11 - retail $44) )

ok, so if you LOVE or even like vera bradley -- you have gotta go!! today is the last day -- until 8 pm. they are putting out boxes of stuff as you shop and marking prices down as you go!!!

i can not wait until next year. i hope it will return to charlotte, i think this year was the first year here.

oh one more thing...
before we left the van, stephanie stopped us from rushing in there and she prayed that we would find some deals!! God was all over this one!! thank you Lord!!!!