"To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heavens." Ecclesiastes 3:1

Saturday, September 29, 2012

What is Enough?

The other day, my 4 year old asked me, "Mom, what is enough?"

Apparently, he heard me tell him that he had "enough" of something, and he wanted some clarification as to what that meant.  As I tried my best to tell him, it made me wonder if God was listening to my explanation and watching my own words hit home for me.   

What is enough? 

It's been 3 months since Buddy lost his job, and I've learned quite a bit since the last time I saw money deposited into our account.

In that first month, we ran out of bandaids, batteries, and one of the hair products that I use to control the mop of curls on my head.  We also had to buy paper, envelopes, and ink to help get Buddy's business going.  Since he's been traveling around to sell advertising, we spent a little over $300 in gas.  I had to renew my driver's license.  Buddy's brake tag expired, and we also had to replace his windshield because it had a huge crack and we knew they were going to require us to take care of that before approving his new tag.

Lots of normal life "stuff" happened in that first month, and it's made me even more aware of all of my blessings.  I don't think I've ever worried about adding bandaids to my grocery list before, but when we ran out, it was just one more thing that God used to help me recognize how good we've had it all of these years.  (I realize that bandaids are only a few dollars, but when you start running out of 10 different things that are "only a few dollars" it can really add up!)

And then there's gas.  Filling up the tank and watching those numbers climb has always made me cringe, but now I reach a whole new level of anxiety when I see our gas light come on.  Now it's just one more thing that reminds me of how much money is flowing out of our account instead of in

Since we have lived a *mostly* frugal life up until this point, there was a tiny part of me that hoped it wouldn't be too bad.  Maybe I'd get through this rough patch without fretting too much, since I was already used to pinching pennies and avoiding unnecessary expenses.

Ha!

God must have heard that thought pass through my mind and politely concealed His laugh at my expense.

No. I'm kidding.  I know that He would never laugh at me, especially when He knew the journey I was about to endure.  He probably felt more like a father watching his daughter attempt to swim for the first time on her own.  He knew I was going to go underwater and swallow some water as I gasped for air on my way up, but He also knew that it was a lesson I needed to experience so I could figure out what He needed me to learn. 

Sometimes life on this earth will be rough, but God will always provide.  

Unfortunately, every time I think I have that truth rooted deep in my heart, I find myself tearing up at the hundreds of "what ifs" that my brain is constantly trying to scare me with. But despite my moments of despair, I know that He will always make sure that we have enough.  I know this because I have witnessed it over and over again.

We have been using our savings to help us get through this rough patch, but we've also had many other people help us out as well.  When we realized we still had to buy a new car seat for the baby, we had family step in and provide us with the money so we could go buy what we needed.  When we started to worry about how bad the grocery bill was going to set us back, we had some friends surprise us with two Wal-Mart gift cards. We've had everything from people cooking dinners for us to someone donating diapers for the baby.  When our dog got sick, we had a friend give us the money to bring him to the vet.  When we got him to the appointment, the vet gave us a discount on his check up because she knew we have been struggling financially.  The other day, someone bought my daughter shoes for her PE class.  This woman found out that we had a need, and she just went out and bought them for her. (Crazy, right?!) Then the other day, we got an anonymous card in the mail that had a sweet note inside, along with $40 worth of Chuck-E-Cheese gift cards.  I'm not even joking.  (And such perfect timing too, because my son is turning two on Sunday, so now we can go there one day soon to celebrate!) These are just a few of the ways we have been blessed by others in the last few months.  I didn't even name them all!

So, despite having no income, our family of six has had enough.  We have actually had more than enough.  We have not only had food on our table, but we've also been treated to Popeye's chicken, Papa John's pizza, Baskin Robin's ice cream, and my personal favorite, Jerk's Island Grill.  Buddy and I have even been able to have a few date nights, thanks to the various restaurant gift cards that we had been given by family and friends on holidays and birthdays.  (I've definitely been thanking God big time for those, because I have really needed that time with my hubby!  Between the stress of the new job, the last few weeks of pregnancy, and now these past few weeks of adjusting to life with a newborn, those date nights have really been a major blessing!)

These last few months haven't been easy, but God has taken every one of our needs and provided for us in ways that we never would have thought possible. We have been humbled over and over again, and I have cried many tears of joy.

It's been very humbling to let so many other people take care of me and my family, but each time it happens, it brings me closer and closer to God.  Each time I am blessed, it reminds me that God is in control and that He is going to provide.

So next time someone asks you if you have had "enough", pause for a minute before you answer. Take that moment and say a prayer of thanksgiving to your heavenly Father.  Because as long as you are following Him and trusting in Him, your answer will always be, "Yes, I have enough."




Sunday, July 1, 2012

Just Have Faith

My husband turned 30 this week.  

He also lost his job.

Most people would hear those two things and naturally react with sympathy, but I'm begging you to please keep those sympathetic feelings to yourself.

This is a blessing.  It is an answered prayer.  It is exactly what we needed, exactly when we needed it. 

Do you know how I know?

Because God is in control.

We turned this issue over to him long ago, so no matter where we are on our journey at the moment, my faith will remain in Him.

Now, as all of this unfolded over the past week, I have to be honest and tell you that I've been riding a roller coaster of emotions.

I've been excited that he is finally finished working for a company that didn't appreciate him and was so poorly managed.

I've been scared that we have no income.

I've been overjoyed as I watched Buddy shine when he immediately took this opportunity to work on the magazine that he's been dying to get started.  (Working 50-60 hours a week at his old job didn't leave much time to get it off of the ground, no matter how hard we tried.)

I've been worried that even with him working on it full time, it may still take a while for the first issue to come out.  (Which means it may be a while before we see any money coming in to our account.)

The devil has attacked me quite a bit this week.  (I am 31 weeks pregnant and therefore full of crazy hormones; he knew I was an easy target!)  He has tried his best to fill me with fear and doubt, and while I've had my fair share of dark moments, my Jesus has never left my side.

As I sat in Mass this morning, I wondered if God had planned the readings out just for us.  I listened to the Gospel and it felt like Jesus was talking right to me when He said, "Do not be afraid; just have faith."

So as we begin a new week, I will remained focused on those words.

"Do not be afraid; just have faith."

I will remember that no matter what happens, God is in control.  He has a plan.  He will keep us under his wing and He will protect us all from harm.

All I need to do is have faith.

These next few months may not be easy, but I know that God will not leave us.  He will send us the support that we need.  He will direct Buddy's path so that he will find advertisers willing to take a leap of faith on a magazine they have yet to see in front of them.  He will open their eyes to the potential.  He will provide. 

So as we continue on our newest adventure, I must ask for your support and prayers.  I can't express how much it means to have people believe in us and who are happy to spread the word about what we are doing.  Even if it's not something that you would normally be interested in, you never know who you might be able to send our way.

And please do not forget to pray for us.  For this to work, we need to stay focused and unafraid.  God has equipped us to succeed; we just need to remember that when things get rough.  So please pray for us and remind us of this when necessary!

And just in case anyone has yet to see the new fan page for Ink & Oil Magazine, come check it out and share it with your friends!  We plan on updating it as often as possible, so you can follow our progress as we work to get out our first edition!




Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Grabbing on to the Memories

Six years ago at this time, Buddy and I were sitting down to the roast I had cooked for dinner.  The house was quiet and (mostly) clean.  I was scheduled to be induced the next morning and I remember being very nervous about the hours, days, and years ahead.  I prayed for God to guide my every step.  Just a few hours later, I went into labor and gave birth naturally to my beautiful baby girl (an hour before my scheduled induction). 


These last 6 years have been quite a journey for me as a mother.  Every day is a new adventure.  The quiet has been replaced with laughter (and screaming) and the house is rarely clean, but my arms are always full and my heart overflows with a love that I could spend all day trying to describe. 

I wish I could tell them to slow down.

My kids are growing up so fast, and even though I am home with them every day, I still feel like I can't grab on to all of the memories fast enough. 

I want to capture the magic of her giggle when Buddy tickles her until she can hardly breathe.  I can take a video of the moment, but it just doesn't seem like it will be enough in the years ahead. 

As I stare at her laughing, "She loves him so much!" is forever written on my heart.

As I watch her walk around the house with yet another Dr. Seuss book in her face, I try my hardest to wrap my heart around all of the emotions I feel as I listen to her.

"I actually taught her how to read!" I tell myself. 

How long will it take before I forget the feeling of her sweet hands on my face as she wiped away my tears when she discovered me hiding in my room crying?  She didn't even know what was wrong, but she somehow knew how to comfort me with her words and cradle my big, pregnant body in her tiny arms.

"She learned that from us." I realize, long after she disappears.

I have so many memories from these last 6 years that my mind is flooded as I try to unscramble all of them to type.

No matter how many I write down, I will always miss twice as many more.

It just goes by SO FAST.

I still feel like I am falling asleep with her newborn body in my arms, only I know I will wake up tomorrow and six years will have somehow flown by.

Someone help me to slow it all down and to grab each and every memory!

My life is so full and my heart constantly overflows.

I have the job I always dreamed of and the life I always wanted.

My house is full of noisy kids and my floor is constantly scattered with their toys.

And even though there are times when it all makes me crazy, I pray every day for God to remind me that I am so very blessed.





Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Black and White or Endless Shades of Gray?

I should probably start out by saying that I haven't read the book(s).  I actually had no idea what the big fuss was about until I finally did a Google search and discovered it on Amazon.  After reading the short description and then skimming a few of the reviews (all of which happened to be negative, despite the rave reviews I've seen posted by my friends on Facebook), I closed down the page.

Before I could walk away from the computer, I found myself looking up the author. The first thing I noticed were the words "Romance ~ Suspense ~ Erotica" at the top of the webpage. 

My heart sank.

I closed down the site and let all of this new information sink in for a while.  Then, after tucking the kids in bed, I asked Buddy if he knew anything about this new, popular book.  When he confirmed that he hadn't, I filled him in on what I knew.  His reaction was very much like mine; his face dropped in disappointment and he agreed with me how sad it was that this kind of thing is so common.

Here's the thing...I can totally see the appeal.  I don't want anyone to think that I am trying to be all high and mighty, looking down on anyone who is reading (or has read) the book.

I'm not.

I get it.  Real life love stories don't always seem like the page-turner that this book claims to be.  Real life has its ups and downs.  And the truth is, even the "up" moments in your life probably don't involve you having an orgasm just because you hear the sound of your name coming out of your husband's mouth.  (I'm not sure if that actually happens in the book, but it was in one of the reviews that I read.)

Real life is messy.

And I'm not talking about we've-had-sex-ten-times-in-one-night-and-the-bed-is-really-wet kind of messy.

I'm talking about REAL life.

In real life, you walk around smelling a bit funky all day because in your mad rush to get dressed before the kids destroyed the entire house, you forgot to put on your deodorant.

Real life involves late night laundry because you know the kids don't have any clean underwear for tomorrow.

Real life sometimes means working so hard that you can barely remember to kiss your wife goodnight because your eyes are closing faster than your brain can comprehend what's missing from your routine.

Real life is messy.

Not always, but at least for me, I'd say it's messy most of the time.

So what's the harm in losing yourself in a romance novel that also promises some suspense and erotica?

Everything.

Like I said, I can totally see the appeal, but if you really allowed yourself to think about it (and pray about it) you'd realize that reading this stuff isn't going to improve your life or who you are as a person.  Just like you should try to surround yourself with people who encourage you to better yourself, you should also fill your mind with knowledge on how to become a better person.

It seems to me that this kind of book might just be the exact opposite of that.

I'm not saying that you should only allow yourself to read self-help books, but I do think it's important for us to read books that have characters who possess traits that we can actually admire.  If you are going to let your imagination wander, why not make sure it's wandering around in a safe place?  One that will encourage you to improve yourself, rather than lose yourself?

I really try not to allow myself to indulge in the "What's the harm in it?" mentality, but to be honest, it's always a battle.  I still watch TV shows with characters having casual sex.  I don't agree with it, but I've somehow convinced myself that I'd have nothing to watch if I didn't overlook certain things, and I need TV.

(Yes, I am aware that that's not actually true.)

When I first read the synopsis of the book, it seemed so obvious to me that it was (for lack of a better description) a trashy romance novel, that I was kind of shocked by the number of people who were promoting it as being so wonderful.

These were good people.

They were people that I loved and respected.

So why didn't they see what I saw when reading the description?

Why didn't they notice the potential harm in immersing themselves in this story?

Because we live in a world that no longer sees things in black and white.

We live in a world that has created endless shades of gray. 

We live in a world that constantly promotes false beauty.  Girls are taught from a young age that being beautiful means that you must be tall and skinny, with perfect hair and sparkling white teeth.  Photos are touched up and then plastered all over magazine covers in checkout lines, ensuring that none of us can escape the lies that they promote.
 
We live in a world that pornography is shared among young boys faster than fleas can jump from one dog to the next - and that's just when it begins.  These same young boys quickly grow into men, and by that point, their minds are filled with so many of these graphic images, it's hard for some of them to even comprehend what real love is all about.  And if by chance these men do find real love, they are left to battle the inner demons that are ingrained in their minds from years of buying into these pornographic lies.  Worse yet, the sad truth is that some of them will hold on to their addiction, naively convincing themselves that it isn't causing anyone any harm.

We live in a world full of lies, where the truth can only been seen if you are constantly searching for it.

When it comes to my search for the truth, I fall short just as much as the next guy.  I get lazy and allow myself to wade in the gray water of lies that surround me.  I watch shows that don't promote the truth and I read books that don't always tell stories of reality.

But that needs to end.


So here's my challenge:

If the book you're reading isn't helping you become a better person, stop reading it.

If the TV show or movie you are watching starts promoting behavior that you know in your heart to be wrong, turn it off. 

If you or someone you love is addicted to pornography, take the necessary steps to help break the addiction.

When you get dressed every morning, promote modesty with your wardrobe.  Lead by example.

Take the time to examine your life.  Pray about the gray areas that you are struggling with, and ask God to make it clear to you what needs to change.
 
Even if it seems like you are taking baby steps to correct your path, take them.  Don't allow yourself the excuse that it's too hard to make the right choices, just start making them.  Little by little, you will notice that you are coming closer and closer to where you need to be.

Remember that baby steps are still steps.  Don't stop moving in the right direction.

Be sure to encourage your loved ones to do the same.

And don't judge one another, because we all struggle.  We are in this life together, so we need to stand together to fight against these shades of gray.

We must always remember to seek the truth and to speak the truth, because we truly are one body in Christ. 

Monday, May 14, 2012

Broken, but Forgiven

My kids eat Cheerios every morning, but they also love my cereal.  (I eat Quaker Oatmeal Squares, in case you are curious.) On any given morning, it is not uncommon for them to ask me if they can have a bite of mine, and every so often, I will put a square in each of their bowls.

This morning happened to be one of those mornings when I decided to share.  I was almost finished eating when they asked me, so after sharing with them, I only had a few bites left in my bowl.  As I scooped up one of my last bites, my son dumped a spoonful of his cereal into my bowl.

As much as I hate to admit it, in the moment, this made me furious.  I fussed at him.  I scooped up his offering, dumped it back into his bowl, and explained to him that he shouldn't do something like that without asking me first. 

His head fell in defeat, and he broke down into tears.

All in one stupid, thoughtless moment, I had broken his little spirit.

I scooped him up into my lap and listened while he gave a voice to his cry.

"Mama, I just wanted to share with you and you made me really sad.  You made my heart hurt inside."

As I held him tightly, I apologized for hurting his feelings and begged for his forgiveness. I admitted that I was having a bad morning and I ended up making a bad choice because of it. 

With his arms wrapped around my neck and his tears soaking my shirt, he said, "I forgive you."

The best part is, he really did forgive me.  After a few more minutes of snuggling, I wiped away his tears and we started over.  He didn't hold a grudge, and he didn't make me "pay" for my mistake all morning long; he just forgave me and moved on. 

Sweet Jesus, help me to forgive like a child.

Help me to love like a child.

Help me to break away from my grown up tendencies to snap too quickly and hold on too tightly to my anger.

I am so broken. 

Fill me with Your healing love and help me to start over each and every time I make a mistake.

I have made so many mistakes already, and unfortunately, I know there are more to come.

Remind me of Your healing grace.

Help me to not only forgive others quickly, but also to forgive myself when I don't measure up. 

Teach me to love as You love, and help me to remember that although I am broken, I am also forgiven.

All I have to do is ask.


Thursday, May 3, 2012

Peace Be With You

We are *only* on baby #4 and yet I can't tell you the number of times people look at us wide-eyed and question our methods as far as family planning.

"Did you actually PLAN for this to happen?"

"You are finished after this one, right?"

"How many more do you want to have?"

"How can you afford all of those kids?"  

"You live off of only one income?  How is that even possible?"

I hear these questions (plus some) often enough to know that many people in this world are lacking one simple but essential detail in their lives.

Peace.

Now I'll be the first to admit that when Buddy and I began our married life together, the idea of using Natural Family Planning filled our minds with anything but peace.  We still had one semester left in college, so it seemed almost absurd for us to even consider something so...ineffective?  Especially when using birth control seemed so simple and effective.  At least, that's what the world was telling us.

Birth control = Normal.

Natural Family Planning = An effective tool for people who are ready to have a houseful of kids.

Am I right? 

I'm going to go ahead and assume that we aren't the only ones who have ever gotten this impression.  And to some extent, it's not so far off from the truth.  These days, using birth control is normal, and many families who openly support NFP do actually have larger families.  But if there's one thing I've learned on this journey, it's that the people who use NFP seem to have a greater understanding of what it means to have peace.

Now just because you pop a birth control pill in your mouth everyday doesn't means you aren't happy or that you never experience peace.  I'm just saying that from my experience, the families who use NFP seem to have a greater understanding of what it means to trust in God and His plan for their lives.  Because of this understanding, they experience a sense of peace that many BC users may never know.

As far as my own personal experience, Buddy and I always talked about having a big family.  We dated for 7 years before we got married, so we had plenty of time to discuss our dreams.  We got pregnant right away, and even after that (exciting but somewhat scary/stressful) first year of parenthood, we knew we wanted more.   Then, after having two babies within two years, I started to question how many more we would have.  My hands were full when Buddy was at work, and I constantly felt like I was running in two different directions.  Baby #2 also gave me quite a bit of trouble with sleeping through the night, so that also played into my fear of having more children.  But when Buddy was ready to have another and I could not deny the feeling that God was waiting for me to trust Him, I prayed.  I prayed and prayed and prayed.  I offered up my fear to Him, and He replaced it with peace.  Peace and baby #3.  Now we are going on 7 years of marriage and I'm pregnant with #4.

We are fully aware that many people think we  a.) are crazy, b.) don't know how to use NFP, c.) are irresponsible, or d.) all of the above. 

But you know what?  We don't care.

God has given us the peace that we need to control the crazy feelings we (or I) sometimes get when people say rude comments like, "You know what causes that, right?" He reminds me in those moments that I am following Him, not them.  He calls us to be an example of His love, and I feel like our openness to life is a something that He wants from (and for) all of us.  (Not that we all have to have "large" families, but we should all be open to what His plan is for our lives.)

I'll admit, there are days when I do think we might be a little crazy, but I know deep in my heart that I am following Him, so it makes sense to me that the road I'm on won't always be easy.

"Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God."                                                                               Matthew 19:24

I still have moments (or entire days) when fear creeps in, but I'm only human, so I don't really expect that to completely disappear.  But I can tell you that as crazy as it sounds, my fears of having more children are actually becoming less and less with every child.  It has become very natural for me to stop and pray about my fears and offer up them up to Him because I know that He always provides me with the grace I need to overcome them.

He gives me peace.

And the best part is, that peace overflows into the rest of my life.  By trusting Him with my family planning (which is something huge), I have slowly learned how to become more trusting with everything else.

Peace.

It's good stuff!

Learning NFP isn't hard to do.  It takes time and effort, and it's ideal if you learn it by taking a class before you are married, but if you are even considering inviting God into this part of your marriage, don't let anything scare you away from it.

I promise, it is so worth it.

Pray about it.  Open your mind and your heart to what God has to offer.  He created us.  He knows us.  He made our bodies work exactly the way He wanted them to work.  He has a plan.  Trust in His plan and you might just find that you've become closer to Him and to your spouse.

And in this closeness, you will find amazing peace.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Finding My Purpose

It all started yesterday with one simple question from my husband.

"Hey, how's the blog coming along?"

As I heard the words come tumbling out of his mouth, the dam inside of me broke and my eyes flooded with tears.  I fought them back with everything I had as I mumbled, "It's not.  There hasn't been another post since my first entry."

Even though my back was facing him, he sensed my emotional response right away.  I could tell that he wasn't sure if he should push for more information or just leave me alone.  Obviously treading on thin ice, he pushed.

For the next few minutes, he gently questioned me about why I was so upset.  I answered him, angry at myself for breaking down and even more so because I was listening to myself speak the truth behind my original response.

I was hurt that no one responded to my original post.  I had found myself missing my old blog and I was so sure that God was calling me to start a new one, that it really got me down when I didn't get any reassurance after my first post.  And even when I tried to brush that original disappointment off, it just kept building up inside when no one seemed to notice that I hadn't continued my writing.  Almost an entire month had gone by before my own husband had even thought to ask.

I could tell that he felt terrible as he watched me crumble.  He was feeling responsible for not keeping up with this part of my life, but I knew that these feelings weren't all of his responsibility to bear.  He is busy working hard to pay our bills and even that doesn't stop him from helping out at home with the kids and daily chores that are always leftover from my never-ending to-do list.

Not to mention, he is also trying to start up his own business.

He is a busy, hard working man, and I thank God for him everyday.  But as we have learned over the course of our 14 years together, there's always something that gets pushed to the back burner.  Sometimes it's a chore that takes a year to accomplish, and other times, we forget to follow up with something important to our spouse.

It happens.

This just happened to get pushed to the back burner when I was in the middle of my fourth pregnancy, overwhelmed with emotions and ill-equipped to manage them all on my own.  It really wasn't his fault and I knew that, so I managed to dry my tears long enough to reassure him of it. 

He rubbed my back while I cried to him about my feelings of worthlessness, interjecting every so often to correct me from taking it too far.  He knew I needed to let it all out, even if we both knew better than my obviously unfair self-evaluation. 

I think every stay-at-home mom must go through these valleys.  If we don't keep a steady focus on God's calling in our lives, it's easy to find the time to question our self-worth.  Why wouldn't we, when we allow our minds to reflect on how working made us feel, compared to our worst days at home with our kids?  (Isn't that how we always do it - compare the best days of the past with the worst days of our present?)

When I let myself do this, I drag myself through the dirt and then sit back and wonder how I got to be such a mess.  It's silly, really, but once I realize what I'm doing, I always look up and feel that God is still with me, waiting patiently to clean me off so I can start again.  He never leaves me, even when I'm questioning the purpose of His own creation of my life.

Our God is an awesome God.

So now I'm going to try my best to start again.  Who knows how long it will take me to write another post, but I'm going to try to remember that it doesn't matter.  Life happens.  Things will get busy, kids will get sick, and pregnancy will turn my brain to mush, but one thing will remain the same - God will be with me through it all.  And even when I feel like it's impossible, He will help me find the time and energy to share the moments that He has created for me to share. 

And I will find my purpose in Him.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Louisiana Seasons

The official start to Spring has finally arrived, although if you lived around here, you'd know that the azaleas have been in full bloom for quite a while now.  I was born and raised in Louisiana, so "seasons" have always been more of a concept that I had to learn in school, rather than something I could actually expect to correspond with my wardrobe.  Even now, as a homeschooling mother, I've had to adjust my teaching methods so that I could factor in the confusion my kids would experience when we discussed the seasons.  They just didn't understand why we were putting the winter mittens on our "Tell Me About Your Day" chart, when clearly shorts and flip flops were more appropriate for the weather we were having outside.

Plain and simple, living in Louisiana means that you learn to prepare for the unknown.  Our seasons are long and short and back and forth.  We figure out at a young age that you should always ask what the weather is going to be like before dressing for the day, although most of us had to learn that the hard way before turning it into a habit.  Even if you're wearing a sundress today, that doesn't necessarily mean you won't need to sport your favorite sweats tomorrow.  And even if you start your day in sweats, it's probably best for you to wear them with layers, since there's still a good chance it will get up to 80 degrees by lunchtime.

My point is, even though we have dates that mark the beginning and ending of the official seasons, we can't always count on them to last that long or to begin right on time.  Life is like that.  Everything is a season.  All of the good and the bad that we experience has its own season and the truth is, we never know exactly how long that season may last.

Right now, I am in the midst of many seasons in my life.

I am in a season of marriage with my husband, Buddy.  Some days I feel like my marriage is everything I could have ever hoped and dreamed of, and other days I find myself longing for improvement and growth.  I know that Buddy has these moments as well, but since we have kept God as our focus, He has blessed us with 14 years together - 7 years of dating and this summer marks our 7th year of married life! 

Together, Buddy and I are in a season of parenting our three beautiful children and are looking forward to meeting our newest addition who is due this August.  Even though I keep reminding myself that the older kids will have had birthdays by the time the new baby comes, I'm still looking at having four kids under the age of six at home with me every day.  (Did I mention that I homeschool?)  Yes, there are many days that I have to remind myself that this is just a season and that one day I will be able to look back on it and have many good memories to fill my heart.  Until then, we are committed to taking the good days with the bad, and the successes with the failures. 

My friendships have all seen many different seasons, each one's fruitfulness depending on where I am in my life and where my friends are in theirs.  Some of them are in a strong, growing season, and others are unfortunately struggling to survive.

There are days when the seasons of my life build me up and days when they bring me down.  I wish I could say that all of my relationships are in a good place, just like I'd love to say that I never struggle with life's everyday challenges, but that's just not the case.

But everything has a season.  No one knows how long we will get to enjoy the good times or how much more we will have to endure before our current struggles end.  The only thing we can count on is that God is with us through it all.  He never leaves our side.

Ever.

So here I am with a new beginning.  A new season to add to the mix.  I've come up with every excuse as to why I shouldn't do it or why I don't need to do it, but when I prayed about it, I couldn't deny the calling that I felt.  I know that God is asking me to step up and share my life, both the good and the bad, so that maybe someone out there can get the encouragement that they need, when they need it.

It's not always easy to live the life that God has called us to, so for what it's worth, I am going to share my seasons with you.   I pray that wherever you are in the seasons of your life, you will find encouragement in my words and strength from my struggles.  And I pray that you will be open to share with me in the comments or in a private message, if you feel called to do so.  I would love to hear from you!

Please pray for me on my journey.

God bless!
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