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Thursday, September 26, 2013

24 SUPER EASY Steps To Potty Train Your Child

This is a glorious day...we kicked potty training's bootay.

Sort of.

I think. 

M, our 4 year old, is finally potty trained. (And no, that's not a typo. He really is 4 years old.)

No more pull-ups.

No more soiled undey-wears.

No more stern conversations extolling the virtues of peeing and pooping on the potty.

No more bribes incentives to stop "going" in his pants.

WOOOOOOOOOOOHOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!

And I DON'T want to brag, but if you want to know how we did it; it's simple.

Here is our easy, no-fail plan to potty train your child lickety split:

24 SUPER EASY STEPS TO POTTY TRAIN YOUR CHILD BEFORE COLLEGE

1) Begin with much excitement and fanfare! Sit them on the potty regularly and praise them each and every time they sit--even if they do not actually "go" on the potty.

2) Invest in pull-ups to let them feel like a "big kid".

3) Set a timer and dash to the potty every 10-15 minutes, continuing to build excitement.

4) With the first drop of pee that hits the potty, call every relative on the planet and share the "big news".

5) Allow your child to run around bottom naked so as to skip the (surprisingly lengthy) activity of removing pull up when the timer goes off.

6) Read every book in your extensive child's library in an effort to make potty time more "fun". And then repeat 672 times in a 10 minute period.

7) Grit your teeth and assure your child that you aren't angry when they pee on the kitchen floor (after you just finished sitting on the potty for the 1 millionth time).

8) Cry out to Jesus the fifth time your child poops on the floor exactly 1 nano second after they sat on the potty for 30 minutes.

9) Smash that friggin timer with a sledge hammer Make a conscious decision to no longer pressure your child with a timer.

10) Buy "big kid" underwear so that your child can "feel" when they pee and to offer incentive to pee in the potty.

11) Hold in the animalistic, guttural cry as you throw away yet another pair of newly purchased "big kid" underwear with poop in them (mama ain't cleaning those...)

12) Offer your little guy a pony, a new car, a stack of cold. hard. cash.--ANYTHING-- if he will just for the Love of God GO POTTY ON THE POTTY!

13) Use every activity imaginable to encourage potty training (i.e. "You can't take swimming lessons/play soccer/sleep over at Grandma's/play Minecraft/get a Happy Meal/See Big Time Rush in Concert/hang glide... if you don't pee and poop in the potty..."

14) High five when little Susie actually starts going on the potty!

15) Pull yourself up off the floor, where you've been laying in the fetal position Tell yourself it's okay when Susie starts having "accidents".

16) Muster up every bit of sunshiney encouragement you can to tell little Johnny ONE MORE TIME that you aren't mad he'd rather play than tell you he has to go potty--while you scrub the couch...again.

17 Seriously consider lining every square inch of your house with plastic. This scrubbing bull is for the birds.

18) Write 15 blog posts and 75 Facebook status updates about HOW MUCH YOU HATE POTTY TRAINING.

19) Ratchet down your raving lunatic-ness and take deep, cleansing breaths. How hard can potty training be?? Start your Stuart Smalley self-talk: You're a college grad. You run a business. You've done it several times already. You're a GOOD PERSON!!...

20) Consider yourself an absolute failure. For the love, you're 36 years old, have 3 older potty-trained children...WHY IS THIS NOT WORKING?? WHAT IS WRONG WITH ME?? I'm A FAILURE! 

21) Resign yourself that part of packing up your young lady for college and maybe even preparing her dowry will include Dora Pull ups. Underwear are overrated. Her husband should really lover her for who she is...

22) Give up. Eat chocolate and go about your life.

23) Realize one morning that Johnny hasn't had an accident in more than a week!

24) Celebrate and gloat and write a blog post about Susie being potty trained.

There you have it...super duper easy peasy!

I promise you, if you follow these easy steps, you'll have your child potty trained in
NO TIME
by the time kindergarten starts
before they graduate
in time for college.



Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Sometimes It Takes More Strength To Let Go


In an effort to "keep it real" here, this is another post on the heels of an amazingly crappy situation where I am not so proud of myself.

I've run this past Joe first to get his blessing because while I definitely want to keep my posts authentic, I also want to protect my marriage and family. I want to find a balance between giving an accurate presentation of life while also being respectful of my husband and careful to not paint him in a negative picture.

With being a part of the Launch Team for the Women Living Well book by Courtney Joseph, I am reading a ton about being my husband's helpmate.

Many women are rolling their eyes or have already tuned me out at the phrase.

I am by no means a Norma Rae, but that term kind of turns my stomach a bit too.

I picture a subservient, 50's housewife in her dress, frilly apron and heels, baking cookies and making a roast from scratch while dusting and organizing a bake sale for the PTA. Nothing wrong with that per se...if that's what you choose.

And I have seen the verses in Ephesians about wives submitting to their husbands used and abused far too many times.

But, in Courtney's book, I am learning that it is often WORLDS harder to submit, or support my husband than it is to take the lead. Submitting doesn't have to mean being weak.

Taking the lead is easy for me.

Unfortunately.

That leaves Joe absolutely no room to be the leader of our family.

So he doesn't lead.

And then I get resentful that he isn't leading.

Then that causes problems.

And we enter this ridiculous, vicious cycle.

And when there are problems in one area of our marriage, there will most definitely be problems in other areas.

Last night was a beautiful example of that.

Joe is handling our checking account and bill paying right now. I used to do it, but it got to be too stressful. Long story short: It is not one of my areas of giftedness.

With that task comes the responsibility of keeping us in line as far as spending.

To me, that means I hear "No" a lot.

And I hate to hear "No."

I'd like to think I am diligent in trying to be a Godly woman in a lot of ways, but as soon as I hear "no" or "not right now" I turn into a 3 year old toddler who had her lollipop taken away.

Right on down to the stomping foot, snotty nose, clenched fists, and yelling.

I'm a tantrum-er.

So, in an effort to stay within budget, and to continue my hobby of furnishing our home with nice things, I scour Craigslist and Freecycle.

I found a great dresser on Freecycle that is only about 20 minutes away. F R E E.

That's definitely in the budget.

I excitedly told Joe about my find last night, only to have him grimace and roll his eyes.

Well, that immediately made me want to put my fist through the wall. (I go 0 to 100 in 5.2 seconds.)

Not only does he not love when I volunteer him on his day off, but the gas it will take to go get the item kind of nullifies the "free" part of my find.

And even though I understood that...I was still furious.

So I pouted and fumed and stomped around...maybe slamming a few doors and drawers in the process.

I told myself all the ways Joe was ridiculous and unsupportive and constricting. I prayed out loud about my frustrations and being tired of penny pinching and being frugal.

And I did all this in our BEAUTIFUL, LARGE home, surrounded by our 6 gorgeous, healthy children, and driving to the store in our NICE, FULLY LOADED minivan.

In fact, while I was driving, I had to turn down the radio because a commercial came on about starving children.

Surely I don't want to be bothered about that because I'm carrying on to God about a dresser I want. That I plan to use as decoration. Or to put the MASSIVE amounts of clothing that my children own in.

Yes, I'm embarrassed right now.

I cried and lamented some more and then when I got home, I was planning on giving Joe the silent treatment for the rest of the night. I went in the house and found him in the living room.

And I walked over to him and said, "Thank you for being so careful and watching our money."

And I wanted to look around at who had just spoken.

That is NOT what I had in my heart to say.

But thank God...literally...that I didn't say what I wanted to.

Let me stop for a minute and explain that this is no reflection on Joe. We watch our spending (or rather HE watches our spending) because we want to be smart. We lived too long with spending on what we wanted and then worrying over what we needed. Silly.

Over the past several years, we have worked our BUTTS off to pay down thousands of dollars in debt and clear up our credit substantially.

Joe works HARD and makes a great living. We have LOTS of extras and we have never gone without.

So, to treat him like we're one paycheck away from living in a cardboard box is a wild exaggeration. But that doesn't stop me sometimes. 

And I realized...again...that it really doesn't matter how well I think Joe is doing at "leading" or being a husband...what matters is ME and my actions.

I have no control over whether or not he rubs my shoulders when I have a headache or hugs me when I say I've had a stressful day. My actions don't depend on whether or not he swoops in with flowers and a pizza saying. "I know it's been a tough day, so I brought dinner home." (Although he is very good about keeping me in fresh flowers.:)

I can still choose to speak to him respectfully. I can still let my actions tell him I love him even if I'm frustrated with him.

I can choose to have a conversation about the areas I'm struggling in rather than throwing a tantrum.

I know all these things...now putting them into practice....yeah.....that's the tough part.

But I'm finding (although this shouldn't be rocket science) that the more I speak to him respectfully and listen, the easier it is for us to communicate. Surely his isn't an easy job. He has the full load of stress on his shoulders to support our family financially.

When he looks at our beautiful children, he sees not only their amazing, smiling faces, but 6 mouths to feed, 3 sets of eyes with glasses (and surely 3 more...), 6 sets of teeth that will most likely need braces, 12 feet that need shoes at an alarming rate, 6 kids who want to participate in activities...and those activities seem to cost more each season, 2 bottoms that need diapers and wipes, 1 million gallons of milk, a home that needs paid for, heated and electricity, a van and a truck that need gas, and a wife who wants all kinds of things for the home. And a Coach bag.

And I'm sure he just wants to crawl in bed and pull the covers over his head sometimes.

And...you may be thinking..."So....it's all up to me to make him feel respected? What about all the times he..."

Yeah, I'm thinking it too.

I hate it. 

I hate that I can't make my affection and respect contingent on his actions. There are times when I feel he is downright cold to me. (And I am to him as well.) Why do I have to do the right thing regardless of what he does?

Because I cannot control him.

But I can control myself.

And in the end, even if he's being a butt head, my life will actually be easier if I don't stir the pot by being a butt head back.

Eloquence, I know.

And hopefully he'll find a blog post somewhere telling him how he should rub my feet unasked or surprise me with organizing an evening out--even getting a babysitter (usually my task).

Until then, I have my part to do.

And stink to high Heaven as it may sometimes...I'll do my best to do it.



Thursday, September 19, 2013

Are You Stuck?

Something has been stuck in my head lately.

Something I think I'm supposed to share, so maybe it's in your head too? Or needs to be?

Are you good enough?

Do you ever wonder how someone could love you? How someone could ever think good thoughts about you? Or if you deserve any good things in life?

Are your thoughts more vague and you maybe think things like, "If that person knew the REAL ME/What I've done/What I've said/What I believe/How I really feel, etc etc...he or she wouldn't like me/find me worthy/accept me/want to be my friend/love me..."

When you get a compliment, do you shrug it off and go out of your way to point out the opposite about yourself?

Are you in a pattern of thinking and acting in a way that you self-promote to seek attention and point out all the ways you are awesome?

Do you accept less than what you deserve because someone else has told you your worth is less? Maybe not in words, but in actions?

Do you live with destructive actions and thought patterns that derive from somewhere, someone or some event that you may or may not be able to identify, but that leave you reacting in the same way every single time they're triggered?

Are you often in conflict with others or yourself?

I can answer yes to many if not most of these.

And I think the tendency is often to figure it out. Get to the bottom of it. Find the root cause.

But you know what...I don't believe that is always...or even EVER...necessary.

Just as we don't have to "understand" what makes us a certain way or react in certain fashions, we also don't have to throw up our hands and say "that's just the way I am."

Because that is only partly true.

Maybe that is the way you ARE...right now...this very second, but you do not have to stay there. No one is forcing you to stay in that place; to repeat those destructive thoughts and actions, to damage relationships, or continue digging yourself into a hole of self doubt.

Before you start thinking this is getting too self-help-y sounding, please understand that I am having this conversation with myself, "out loud" so that maybe someone else can benefit too.

I have had some substantially crappy things happen in my 36 years of life. Substantially crappy.

And for a long time, I allowed the pain and hurt of those events to dictate who I was and how I felt about myself and even how I treated others.

I got caught up in all of it: the drama, the hurt, the revenge, the rebellion, the "Eff it all" mentality. And it almost destroyed my spirit. It ruined many relationships, and burned many bridges. Some of those relationships I have been able to mend and others, sadly, I don't think ever will mend this side of Heaven.

I came to a point where I was sick and tired of being caught in a revolving door of emotion and angst. I was miserable, and I attributed that misery to all that had happened to me.

I put myself square in the victim seat and buckled in for the long haul.

It's easy to do when you have been victimized.

But the glorious truth is that being victimized does not have to equate to being a victim.

Huh?

Stay with me.

To me, a victim is weak and wounded, and utterly vulnerable.

I don't want to associate any of those things with who I am or how I feel or DEFINITELY how others see me.

Granted, it was not an overnight thing, and I did nothing myself--God did it all--but I am now better about seeing my self worth through my past or others' eyes. I see it through God's eyes. Most of the time. :)

I am a work in progress.

So whatever it is for you...whatever is holding you down and trapping you in a thinking pattern or a behavior...repeat this to yourself, "I don't HAVE To stay here."

It's like going to get your hair done...

Brace yourself for an "amazing" analogy to follow...

When you are turned away from the mirror and the stylist is working on your hair, you have absolutely no idea what you look like. They could shave you bald, give you a mo-hawk or dye your hair purple...you would be none the wiser. It is not until you look in the mirror and see what has been done that you realize what you now look like.

I think what I'm talking about now is a lot like that...

It's not until you realize that your past does not control your present or your future that you start to view yourself differently.

Sometimes after I get a hair cut, I "forget" that my hair is now short. I anticipate the brush staying in my hair longer and I'm surprised when it slaps me in the shoulder.

Like that...even after we have realized we are different, we can sometimes get caught up in routine and "forget" who we really are.

I keep thinking about some of the people in the Bible who were less than stellar examples of person-hood, but God used them and used them mightily.

Rahab-was a prostitute. She was a single mother. She was, by all standards of her day and by many's standards today, a loser. A misfit in society, a whore, used, garbage, unworthy. You get the idea.

But who is mentioned in the lineage of Jesus? Rahab. (Matthew 1:5)

Not only was it unheard of to list a woman in lineage, but she was listed in the lineage of JESUS. :)

She was saved from the destruction of her town because she helped God's people. That's it. There was no dramatic falling to her knees and reciting all of her indiscretions (maybe that happened later, I don't know for sure), but the part the Bible concentrated on was that she was willing to do the right thing. She didn't talk herself into repetitive and destructive thoughts or actions because of her past or who others said she was. She didn't list all the ways she failed and how she couldn't possibly be worthy...

I've mentioned David before, but come on... how can you not mention this guy.

I mean, he was shepherd boy turned King and then he had an affair with a married woman, and THEN he killed her husband to cover up his affair...he was hardly a magnificent example of a perfect life. Yet he was called the man after God's own heart.

Samson? Huge guy. Super duper strong. And apparently he liked himself some girlies.

And not only was he a fan of the ladies, but he was apparently a slow learner as well since his girlfriend, Delilah, asked him the secret to his power so many stinking times. Why he caved the last time and TOLD HER even though every time she thought she had the right answer, she sicced the Philistines on him, is beyond me...yet Samson was still regarded enough by God to have his strength restored one last time to kill the Philistines.

My point in this...is that you are NOT STUCK. You do NOT HAVE TO stay "where you are."

Whatever it is that is poisoning you...whatever happened to you in the past...whatever other people say about you...whatever load of crap you are telling yourself about YOU...it means nothing. NOTHING.

Stop giving it the power it should not and does not have to have!

Look at yourself through the eyes of Jesus. He knew you before you were even created (Psalm 139:13), He knew every single thing you would do, good and bad, before you would do it, He has plans for you and has had those plans since you were born (Jeremiah 29:11), And He CHOSE to die for you...knowing that you are imperfect and would screw up--in big ways and in small.

It may not be easy and it may not be quick, but just realizing that you are not held captive is enough to change your perspective and give you encouragement to make a change. It starts with prayer and with allowing your value and image to come from One place. God.


Friday, September 13, 2013

Shaky-Kneed-Fall-On-My-Face Weary

Disclaimer:

Earlier this week I was feeling pretty low. I was struggling with relationship issues and the frustration that we are all a mess: The whole lot of us, in one way or another. I have a situation that I'm not sure how to handle--or worse-- that I KNOW how to handle but it's uncomfortable at best. And then, as it happens, when there is ONE BIG thing on my mind, seventeen thousand LITTLE things pop up that multiply the weight of the ONE BIG thing exponentially. And I was a bubbling cauldron of emotion. I was ready to go all Bruce Banner up in here. So that's the state of mind I was in when this post was born. I was at that place where I couldn't possibly "take" one more thing. My internal thermometer was approaching "BLAST OFF" and I was hanging by a precious little thread. So, kindly look past my venom as I share my heart. I want to keep this blog as authentic as I can. And not every day is filled with butterflies and rainbows, with witty posts about my harmonious life. Some days TOTALLY suck. This post was written during a string of those sucky days. :)

"Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light." (Matthew 11:28-30, NIV).

That sounds so nice.

But then I read the Message version and I was blown away.

"Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly."

Am I tired? Oh yes.

Worn Out? Absolutely!

Burned out on religion? A thousand times, YES!

I am all of those things.

And here's where the shiznit gets REAL on this blog.

I am more than physically tired. I am more than the fatigued and worn out that everyone gets from the demands of everyday responsibilities.

I am weary. I am shaky-kneed-fall-on-my-face weary.

From this thing called life.

From the delicate back-and-forth mechanism that makes up this universe.

I am worn out and disenchanted with relationships and all that is required to maintain them.

I am sick and tired of religion that says "wear your mask, check off the boxes, and everyone will think you're a 'good' Christian."

I am absolutely nauseated at religion that says "put your money in the envelope, volunteer for this ministry, sign up for this Bible Study, use all the catchphrases like 'Jesus Saves!' and disregard the black hole in your heart.

I am so over "commitment" that fits in every other Tuesday from 1:00 - 1:15, and only when it's convenient.

And I am infinitely exhausted over those who hide behind scripture usage, blog posts exalting the Word of God, and Pinterest Pins of scripture pinned by the 100s, yet there is no fruit--no tangible outward expression of the virtues being posted to Facebook, Tweeted or pinned on their Pinterest board.

I am sick to death of struggling against my human nature which wants to lash out and call those out who profess one thing but act quite another. Against those who others look up to, but it is so obvious that their lives bear little or no fruit--they don't walk their talk.

I am disheartened to read blogs written by those professing to be Christians (Blogger A) who publicly bash other bloggers (Blogger B), even questioning Blogger B's relationship with God, because Blogger B does not use the same writing style as Blogger A. All the while, Blogger A's posts are filled to the brim with condescension, holier-than-thou "wisdom" fraught with legalism that turns my stomach and makes me wonder how many seekers clicked the 'X' in the upper right hand corner of their screen before actually getting to meet Jesus.

I am road weary like the marathoner who hits the wall at the 22 mile mark. My legs are locking up and I look like Gumby.

I just want to walk away. Turn my back. Not give it or them one more second of my time or energy.

I am desert-thirsty for authenticity.

For those who are real enough to look you in the eye when there's a conflict. Who will respond when you reach out. Who will join together to glorify God even at the expense of self.

I am craving "REALness" and actual, bonafide relationship.

I am crippled in knowing how to deal with others and their weaknesses, struggles, and shortcomings when one of my own weaknesses, struggles and shortcomings is in dealing with those who refuse to be real. With those who refuse to communicate honestly.

I am stuck in an obsessive pattern of thought about all these things and what I want to say versus what I should say.

I am incapacitated by constant second guessing and rehashing. And with seeing too much of myself in the very things I am ranting about.

With knowing that I can't utter one single word against those that I just described because I've walked that path and acted those same ways too many times.

I am beaten down over the inner battle to ask WWJD and simultaneously not giving a flipping care what Jesus would do.

I don't want to be the bigger person. I don't want to chase others any longer. I don't want to beg for community. I don't want to have to decode what someone could have meant when he said this or when she said that. Or wonder why she didn't respond when I said this or why he didn't answer when I asked that.

I am weary and burdened.

And I want to rest in Jesus, but what does that mean? What does that look like? How can I practically apply that?

Does that mean allowing others to continue in the same manner? In a way that's hurtful and absolutely anti-community? Does that mean sweeping things under the rug when the other party refuses to have a conversation? What if that person is a Believer? How do you respond when someone who professes to wear the banner of Christ continues to act in a way completely opposite of Christ-likeness?

Those conversations are hard and I don't want to have them. I don't.

I hate confrontation. I hate conflict.

And making it even harder is when the parties involved refuse to participate in any kind of a clearing of the air.

And in the midst of this seething, I usually try to look within myself at the "plank" in my own eye before pointing out the "speck" in another's...and, at the end of the day, I want to do the right thing. I want the right attitude. I want the right reactions. I want to wear grace and kindness and humility.

But what an amazing strain that is to wrestle with the flesh that also wants to put my fist through the wall.

ARRRRRGH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I know the right things to do:

Seek Justice
Love Mercy
Walk Humbly with your God. (Micah 6:8)

Easier said than done.

I'll try.

I'll pray.

I'll ask to see others through the eyes of Jesus.

I'll ask to see myself through the eyes of Jesus too...and through the eyes of others.

I'll [try to] hold my tongue unless whatever I have to say is edifying and useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting, and training in righteousness. (2 Timothy 3:16).

I'll [try to] not grumble against my brothers and sisters. (John 6:43)

And I'll do a whole lot of asking for wisdom since I'll be doing most of this with a ton of [mental] kicking and screaming. (James 1:15)

Are you weary of these things too? Are you tired of warming a pew, but your heart feels cold? Are you tired of lips that quote scripture while hands are tucked safely in pockets? Do you want to drop the masks we all wear in the effort to play the part? Do you ever want to stand up and say, "I'm a hot mess, but Jesus loves me anyway. I have bad habits, I say things I shouldn't, I avoid certain situations like the plague, and I have a ways to go...but I'm saved! And I want to be different!"?

Me too.

I am a hot mess...a kelvin degree hot mess. (Did that even make sense??)

But I want to do this thing the way it was intended...the way Jesus did it.

Not the weak-looking Jesus you see in paintings.

The Jesus who had dirty finger nails, sandles caked with mud and camel dung, and a heart like no other.

I want to follow the Jesus who was homeless. Who had nowhere to lay his head. Who washed his disciples' feet...feet that were also caked with mud and camel dung.

The Jesus who lowered Himself to the role of servant. Who knew He was going to die, but did it anyway to save us. Who was so freaked out about what was to happen to Him that he sweated blood, He cried out to God to save Him, but most importantly He did it anyway.

I want to look to Him who has "been there" to know how to continue on.

And I want to be like the guy who made community with the "low-lifes" of society: the thieves, the prostitutes, the unmarried mothers, the dirt balls, the murderers, the poor, the crippled, all those considered outside the "right" social circles. Who ate dinner with them at their houses, who spoke kindly to them when the religious leaders and all others shunned and them. The man who knew His time was best spent ministering to those who had a hole in their hearts and didn't know about God's FORGIVENESS even though God's LAW had been shoved down their throats. The man who chose to GO OUT into the world rather than stay at home and brush elbows with those who He felt most comfortable with.

I want to emulate the man who didn't back down from His commitment to God's plan even when He was ridiculed, ostracized, beaten until you could see bone, whipped, beaten some more, nailed to a cross, abandoned by his friends and family and left to die alone, naked while the whole community looked on and spat at him, raffled off His clothes and made fun of Him.

And I have a WAAAAAAAAAYS to go to get to that point.

I am a failure in so many ways.

But I believe it starts with us and works into our inner circles.

If we can emulate Jesus in our everyday activities and interactions with those closest to us, we can affect our "4 walls"--who can, in turn, affect each of their inner circles.

And what may start as a drop of water in a pond can ripple into a whirl pool in an ocean.

And it starts with one step...one decision to be different...to be Real.


Thursday, September 12, 2013

Women Living Well, The Book!

Hi all!

I come to you a little out of breath and very, very excited about being selected to participate in the Women Living Well Book Launch!

Woo Hoo!!!!!

Women Living Well is written by Courtney Joseph of--you guessed it--Women Living Well.

If you don't remember, I met Courtney at the Women Living Well Conference this summer. I very nearly hyperventilated when she took the stage, and almost peed my pants when I actually got to meet her.

I was lucky enough to win an advanced copy of her book at the conference and then found out there was a book launch team for bloggers.

I screamed when I got the email saying I was in and I did a happy dance when I realized the excruciating minutes I spent filling out the application were not in vain. One section on the application asked what my favorite movie was.

I agonized over this for far too long. Naturally, my mind went blank and all I could think of were inappropriate titles like "Dirty Dancing" or titles that seemed like they were trying too hard like "The Passion of the Christ." "Weekend at Bernie's" actually flitted through my mind too as a homage to Rachel Green on Friends. And none of those are my actual favorite movie.

So, having a brain fart, I texted Joe and asked him what my favorite movie is.

He replied, "The Notebook?"

I said, "I've never even seen that movie."

Joe and I are *like this*. HAHA!

Anyway...his suggestion actually got me to thinking...and I chose "The Vow."

And not just because Channing Tatum is in it,

But because I LOVE the premise!

I cannot even imagine going into a coma and awakening to not remember my husband.

Or what it would be like to suddenly have a stranger profess their undying love to me.

But I DO know the feeling of looking across the table at the man who I have known for years and suddenly feel like we are speaking 2 different languages or like we are not as close as we used to be.

Changes come, life happens, kids' needs get put first and suddenly, you find yourselves playing on your iPads and iPhones during the few minutes alone you get together at night. "Down time," "me time," and "couple time" all get scrunched into the same time frame and one of us always ends up falling asleep on the couch while we watch TV and "spend time together." It doesn't take too many of those nights to dampen the flame.

So...back to Courtney's book...

I  knew I was going to love it from the get go because I already love her blog.

The first chapter alone had me. Courtney is very practical as she explains God's Word and how it applies to her life in particular and to Believers' lives in general. One thing I L O V E D was how she gave practical applications to the principals she was speaking about. For example, when she writes about fasting, she doesn't give a vague overview with scriptures referenced. Instead, she explains WHY we fast (and offers scripture to support that reasoning) as well as explaining that the hunger pains we feel during fasting serve as a reminder to pray. Every time we feel hungry and start to wish we could eat, we need to turn to God in prayer. Relying on Him and only Him to get through the hunger pangs strengthens our relationship with God and gets us on our knees before Him more often.

Then I hit chapters 4 & 5 on marriage.

Wow.

Talk about the dichotomy of salivating while I'm reading; unable to get enough of her wisdom ALONG WITH having a hard time swallowing the advice she is giving as far as allowing husbands to be the head of the home and sharing ways we can be the helpmates we were intended to be.

Most 21st century, modern women would be tearing her clothing and groaning in anguish at Courtney's suggestions. Because, as Courtney says, "To a modern woman of today's culture, Christian marriages may look as though they are caught in a time warp. We cannot expect those who do not believe in God's Word to understand" (p. 68).

And it's true.

Her thoughts on marriage, underscored with scripture, are considered archaic by today's standards.

But I find the times I treat my husband with respect are the times we get along better. The times I lash out in anger are the times we are back at square 1, angry and resentful at one another.

I'm only to chapter 7 so far, but I am already learning so much from this book.

Act now and Courtney has some goodies for you!!



I hope you'll order the book. I also hope you'll check out Courtney's Blog and get to know her a little better; her bubbly personality, her giggle, and most importantly, her love for the Lord, her husband, and her family.


Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Soldier On, Cowgirl, In The Face Of Conflict

Sometimes being on this planet is so very hard.

Too many people with too many personalities and too many perspectives.

Some days feel good and I veritably skip through the day, linked arm in arm with God feeling like, "We got this, Lord."

Other days...weeks...it's more like He's dragging me by the ankle as I slide along, face down in the dirt.

And the very things that felt so footloose and fancy free the day before are now an albatross around my neck.

Fellowship, friendship, kinship--whatever we call it--can be so rich and so fulfilling.

No one loves a good belly laugh with tears streaming down the cheeks more than I do.

I love being with someone whose company I enjoy, learning about and from each other.

And then the real world happens and conflicts arise and I spin in a circle trying to figure it all out.

I second guess myself and start and stop at least a half million times.

How do I handle this situation? How should I say this? How will they take it when I say that? Am I being selfish? Do I have all the pieces of the puzzle? Am I being Christ-like in my approach?

And it seems infinitely easier to just sweep it under the rug and try to forget about it...move on.

That works.

For a while.

And then I trip over that big issue that was swept under the rug and there is no avoiding it any longer.

So I remind myself of these things when I am in that predicament:

The battle is the Lord's: 1 Samuel 17:47.

That person/people aren't really the issue: Ephesians 6:12.

There are those who would like nothing more than to turn friend against friend, especially Believers who are friends. And I shouldn't be surprised when these disconnects and negative situations arise. Jesus gave explicit details on how to deal with it when it happens. Matthew 15 is loaded with step-by-step actions to take when there is a conflict among Believers. I struggle sometimes to remember that the way I react to something or someone can determine if the friendship is salvaged or not. I also remind myself to act toward someone in a way I would want someone to act toward me. If someone is wronging me, and I lash out, it will be 10 times harder to mend that relationship than if I act with grace. That's a toughy for me. And I have to remember that the enemy works both ways. He is an equal opportunity destroyer of relationships. While I may see the other party as in the wrong or acting ungodly, Satan is only too happy to paint the picture to the other person that I am in the wrong...or worse...I can jump in feet first, emotions flying and react in a way that is damaging and un-Christ-like. All without Satan's help. :(

And then I think: Prayer.

Prayer feels so feeble sometimes. But I know that is the best way to respond to any situation. Praying opens up communication to God that will open my eyes to the best method for handling any issue. I can also pray for God to soften the heart of the other person so that we can hear one another, without hurt feelings and defenses being raised. It can also work toward restoring someone who is struggling or falling away:

James 5:16, The MSG: "Make this your common practice: Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you can live together whole and healed. The prayer of a person living right with God is something powerful to be reckoned with."

So...if you're there right now...a conflict in whatever area of life, whether it's with someone else or within yourself...hold on. Hold fast to your faith and the Word and soldier on, cowgirl...

And "Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ." (Philippians 1:27. NIV).





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