Friday, May 30, 2014

The Teenage Years

"Teenage years":  Do those two words terrify you?  They don't have to.  Here is an encouraging article from a 19-year-old from "To Love Honor and Vacuum...

Why Do Teenagers Rebel? A 19-year-old explains how it doesn't HAVE to happen!
Why do teenagers rebel? Is it automatic? And can you do things that prevent teens from rebelling? I asked my 19-year-old to help us answer that today!

“All kids will rebel, and my job as a parent is to be there to help catch them when they fall.”
I’ve heard Christian parents say that to me time and time again–strong Christian parents, too. But the Holy Spirit does not have an age limit. The Holy Spirit is with ALL Christians, young or old. And so if we can expect ourselves to act appropriately, we can certainly expect our teenagers to as well.
I’m a big believer in this philosophy, and I’ve written about these two different approaches to parenting before. This week, I thought I’d let other people speak about how to raise kids to make good decisions. We started on Monday about how to raise kids who won’t date too young, and then on Tuesday my 16-year-old chimed in telling us why she’s not dating in high school.
Today I’ve invited my 19-year-old to share her thoughts on why teenagers rebel. I said to her, “can you just write something explaining why you DIDN’T rebel?” She sent me this. It makes me tear up to read it.
Hello. My name is Rebecca Gregoire, and I was the perfect teenager.
Obviously I’m saying that as a joke, but by most standards, I truly was pretty perfect. I never drank, never smoked, never partied, never dated, never even swore. (Honestly. I didn’t swear until I was 18.)  I may have been moody, but I always had a good job, and was extremely involved in church and volunteered in childcare and youth ministries. I didn’t rebel at all–I walked the straight and narrow all through high school, and am continuing to do so now that I’m living on my own.
I’m not saying all this to try and make myself look great–I’m saying it to make a point. I’m saying it to destroy a myth that has been hovering over Christian circles for way too long.
Teenagers do not have to rebel.
I am living, breathing proof of that statement. And so are the three girls I live with, and my best friends at our university IVCF group. We didn’t rebel.
Before I continue, let me tell you something else about myself.
I am not demure in any sense of the word. I don’t like listening to authority, and I often get frustrated when I’m told what to do, or how to do it. I like to question everything. I’m naturally extremely proud, a challenger of authority, and extremely stubborn.
Why am I telling you this? To prove that I’m not “naturally predispositioned to submit”. I’m actually the complete opposite.

Whether or not teenagers rebel isn’t contingent on their natural personality, and kids aren’t “guaranteed” to rebel. Obviously teenagers aren’t guaranteed to NOT rebel, either, but there are things you can do that make it less likely.

My family had two children who were complete opposites, and neither of us had a rebellion stage. So it has to be something about the family, not our natural dispositions.
So why do teenagers rebel? And why do some teenagers never rebel? I’ve tried to pinpoint what kinds of things my parents did that helped my sister and me not rebel (though, of course, there are never guarantees that a teen won’t rebel), and here’s what I’ve come up with:

5 Reasons I Didn’t Rebel as a Teenager

My parents instilled in me a sense of family honour

Often teenagers feel distant from their families, like they’re part of it by blood, but that’s it. In my family it was never like that. My mom and dad would make decisions on their own, of course, but they always talked everything over with my sister and me. Even things that we weren’t directly impacted by–we’d discuss everything over the dinner table.
My family is the kind of family where everyone is involved–it’s a team experience. A result of this is that I received a huge sense of family pride, dignity, and honour.
Family honour has been lost in our culture. We are so focused on ourselves, and have become extremely selfish. And I think a lot of that is that parents put their children’s wants over the family’s needs. In our family, Katie and I never went without. But we didn’t get everything we wanted–I wanted an X-Box when all my friends were getting one, but because that would cut out of major family time my parents said no. A small example, I know, but it shows the worldview my family had. No matter what, family comes first.
When your mindset shifts from “me” to “we”, your behaviours and your actions aren’t just going to affect you–you begin to see how what you do affects other people. What I do when I’m in my free time reflects on my family, whether good or bad. And for me, that was a huge incentive to be responsible and make my parents proud.
My parents were extremely encouraging, but also demanding
There needs to be a middle ground. I cannot stress this enough.
So many parents I see are all about the encouragement. Their kids can’t do any wrong in their eyes, and they just constantly pour love and affection and butterflies and rainbows into their children’s life. And then other parents are the opposite–they don’t pay any attention to their kids unless they do something wrong and then they blow up. Or, even if they don’t explode in anger, they only ever criticize and never praise their children.
My parents had a happy medium. We weren’t coddled, but we weren’t picked on, either. My parents chose their battles, and also encouraged us when encouragement was necessary but didn’t lie and tell us we were great at something when we weren’t. For instance, my parents never would have told me that I should go for a career in gymnastics, because I am not flexible in the least.
We always knew where our parents stood, and through that, we always knew that they were honest and had a better understanding of who we were.

My family talks about everything

Open communication was big in our family. My mom and dad always made sure not only that they had time to talk to us, but that they had a specific time and place to do it, too. When I was younger, we talked before or after reading bedtime stories, or at the dinner table when we were eating together. When we got older, that spot moved to the hot tub we had in our backyard and car trips to and from the grocery store, friends’ houses, etc.
The biggest part, though, was that we didn’t just talk about school, work, and the like. We talked about whatever was going on in our lives–whether I was thinking about a new blog post idea, how Katie was doing with her skating, or what movie we really wanted to see–anything that came to mind. Our parents became our confidants, and that built a level of trust.
Moreover, our parents shared things with us, too. Now, don’t get me wrong, there is definitely a line here. But in our family, my parents simply humanized themselves to us. My dad would tell us about his favourite movies growing up, my mom would ask our opinions on knitting patterns. She’d even tell me when she had angst over commenters on this blog!
This built a partnership between us. A partnership where one was the parent and one was the child, of course, but nonetheless, a relationship where the actions of one person directly affected the other. Because of that relationship, I never felt like I needed to rebel to be heard, to be understood, or to get my way. I knew that if my parents said no, it was for a reason.

We were never expected to rebel as teenagers

My parents never encouraged any idea of teenage-hood rebellion. They never joked about us rolling our eyes, acting exasperated, or having attitude at all. Rather, they actually made us think that teenagers and the whole rebellion process was stupid and unnecessary. I always figured that I would grow up straight from child to adult, with no “silly teenage stage” in-between. You may think that this is no fun, or that kids need their time to be silly and make mistakes.
But what kind of message does that send the teenager? If kids expect that when they hit 13 they’ll start wanting to go to parties, or go out with boys, or watch inappropriate movies, then they will grow up to fulfill those expectations. On the contrary, if they are raised to believe that those are all optional, and actually unnecessary and somewhat frivolous, they won’t want to disappoint or seem silly, and so are more likely to make positive choices and act like an adult. This doesn’t mean that we miss out on a childhood, or miss out on teenage years–it just means that we use them for training for adulthood, and have fewer regrets when we’re through it all.
Also in this category is that we had very few rules. My parents never needed them, because they didn’t expect us to break them. When parents have a lot of rules it always seems to me like they’re trying to control their kids, and if you have to control them, you’ve lost the battle already. My parents always assumed we’d pick up on their values and make good decisions. Through our close relationship, heart-to-heart talks, and–when necessary–confrontations, we learned their expectations, they learned our points of view, and our family worked together instead of parents trying to reign in their children. Now, I only think this worked because we grew up in such a structured, close, and trust-filled family, but that was a big thing for me. I never felt stifled, so I never felt a need to rebel.

God was center in our home

Our home never revolved around work, sports, school, or activities. It didn’t even revolve around other people–it always hinged on God and his plan for our family. Growing up in that kind of an environment shaped my view of my actions, choices, and the effect I had on others. When you’re used to basing everything on God’s will and God’s plan, suddenly the parties don’t seem as important. It isn’t as tempting to lie about who you’re hanging out with. Smoking, drinking, and the like just doesn’t really have any appeal, because they don’t help with your ultimate goal–to become a person God will use for great things.
So many times I see families who drop everything for good grades, or who don’t go to church if it’s a busy week at work, or who choose extracurricular activities over youth group and the like. My family, however, was the opposite. If we were tired, too bad. Get in the car, we’re going to church, because that’s what God’s called us to. If Mom and Dad had a hard time with work, we went to church because that’s a place of rest. If I was struggling with school and needed the day to study I didn’t have that choice, because it was my decision not to study earlier.
God came first in everything. And my choices were shaped because of that worldview.
I honestly don’t think there’s any one way to make sure your children don’t rebel. Every child is different, and every family contains unique people. But all I know is that for me, this worked. In my family, the trust, communication, and centrality of God in our home made my teenage years one of partnership with my parents rather than a constant battle.
So don’t give up hope–the teenage years don’t have to be war!

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Growing Your Husband's Dreams

This is a really encouraging blog post by a girl I went to college with.  Her name is Heather Marks; she and her husband are on deputation as missionaries to Japan.  It's neat to see her growing the vision that God has laid on her husband's heart. Here is their website if you would like to know more about them or would even be interested in them coming to your church...projectjapan.  Take the time to read "Growing Your Husband's Dream."

photoShe put the finishing touches on dinner in their small apartment as she waited for him to return home from visitation.  It had been 2 years since they were married.  She still wore the joy of a newlywed as she set the table.  When he arrived, she greeted him at the door with a kiss.  He handed her a surprise: a single leaf.  He and their pastor had visited the home from where this lone leaf had come.  He was excited to tell her about the potential held in this small green oval!  His eyes lit up as he told her the leaf was from a unique and rare plant, the night blooming cereus.  This desert plant only blooms once a year, and then, only at night.  But when it does, it sends a beautiful aroma from its bright white exotic blooms which quickly fade by sunrise.  His passion for plants bubbled over as he extended his hand.  A little puzzled, she smiled and gently took the leaf and planted it in some soil in a old coffee can.  

The single leaf lived in their home week after week, eventually growing young shoots off from each side.  She watered it month after month, careful not to neglect this special plant her husband had been so excited about.  She kept their two growing boys away from its fragile leaves.  The months turned into years, and the night blooming cereus seemed more like a dream than a reality as she looked at the insignificant, sprawling plant still sitting in the corner.  Every five years she transplanted it as it outgrew its pot.  There were times she wondered if he had imagined those special blooms he spoke of on the day he brought the leaf home.  Though she had only his word to go on, she continued to care for his prize plant.  She even brought it with them when they moved across town.  She trusted that he could see what would become of this tiny dream though she could not.
photo-1Finally, after 17 years of care and attention while tending it, the night blooming cereus bore a handful of crimson buds!  The couple was ecstatic as they waited patiently for the blooms to finally open.  She smiled as she thought about all those times she almost gave up and tossed the plant in the trash.  This long anticipated event became a yearly tradition, something they looked forward to each fall.

 Since then, death has separated this loving couple, and she longs to be reunited with him and her sweet Jesus.  She lives alone, passing the days busying herself around the house. Her life has changed in many ways without him here, but she still cares for his night blooming cereus, only now, she waits alone for its fragrant blooms.  She treasures the plant for more than its brilliant white flowers and tumbling green leaves.  It reminds her of him and the many years they shared, the life they built together, starting with one small surprise. A single leaf.  

Growing your husband’s dream

The story above is about my grandparents, and I have been thinking about it a lot the past few days.  There are several lessons that the Lord has shown me from my grandmother’s devotion.  I am far from a pro at any of this, but here are a few things the Lord is teaching me.  He is so gracious and longsuffering with me!

1. Dreams start small

In the story, he knew that single leaf held the potential to become a grand and beautiful plant.  Your husband’s dream may seem out of view right now.  It may be in the “single leaf” stage.  But, give the Lord and your husband time, and you’ll find yourself amazed at the beauty that can blossom from one small dream.  Where are you in the life-span of your husband’s dream?  Is it just a single leaf?  Are you on year 16, still waiting for it to blossom?  Are you looking back over the years rejoicing at the beauty He allowed you to enjoy together in life?  No matter what stage you are in, you can know that God brings beauty to those who give their lives to Him.  Don’t underestimate your role in growing your husband’s dream, no matter how big or small.  Rejoice where you are right now.

2. Dreams need care

Imagine if she had dismissed his plant as unimportant, or forgotten it as the years passed.  Ladies, we dare not brush aside our husband’s dreams for God.  He was born to serve the Lord, and God puts within him dreams that we can help nurture and grow.  We must not pressure him with our petty needs and distract him from his holy calling.  Instead, we must care for the things he cares for!  We can pray.  We can encourage.  We can help.  We must choose to be actively involved in growing his dreams.  That plant in the story didn’t just survive on its own for all those years.  Care about his dreams.

3. Dreams take work.

She had to transplant the flower when it outgrew its pot.  She watered it.  She moved it to their new home.  She relocated it to the front porch as the sunlight changed with the seasons.  She covered it at night with blankets so it wouldn’t be damaged by the frost.  If we are going to grow our husband’s dreams, we must be willing to work.  It will take extra responsibility on our parts.  It may mean moving across the country, or across the world.  It may mean seeing him less often and sharing him with the ministry.  It may mean tucking the kids in bed yourself while he is working late.  It will require sacrifice and it will be difficult at times, but it will be worth it!  Be willing to work for his dreams.

4. Dreams take faith

She wasn’t there on visitation that night.  She didn’t see the original plant in bloom.  All she had to go on was his word.  Wives, we have a sure Word that we can trust!  We must go to God’s word when things don’t make sense.  We can trust that our husbands are following God even though the way seems unclear.  Let God build your faith in Him through your husband’s dream!

5. Dreams become treasures

She would have missed out on such a precious treasure if she had thrown the leaf away the night he came home.  She could have given up waiting for it to bloom.  Think of all the memories, all the nights spent sitting beside the plant together, all the sweet moments of conversation and friendship that blossomed from that silly little leaf.  We will miss out on so many of God’s blessings if we don’t grow our husband’s dreams.  Invest today so that you can enjoy God’s treasures tomorrow.

I am still in the early stages of this growing process.  Much of what I’ve written is in faith that is yet to become sight.  But when I look back over the years if God allows, I don’t want to hang my head in shame and regret for what could have been.  Instead, I want to rejoice at the wonderful things He has done!

With love,

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Lonely Motherhood

LONELY!  We are surrounded by children, people at the store, social media, BUT yet we are lonely.  I have gone through periods of loneliness.  As a pastor's wife, I am constantly surrounded by people, BUT YET, I have felt very friendless at times. This article hits the nail on the head.  I won't steal the thunder from Finding Joy but I do have some final comments at the bottom.

I feel so alone.
Would you write a letter to the lonely mom?
I get email after email after message after message after tweet after comment and all again asking me to write about the lonely mom. Yes, the lonely mom. The mom, like you, or me, or the mom at Target who has actually mastered pushing the jumbo cart that needs blinkers and two weeks of training and yet, still feels alone. The lonely mom in a world of crazy social media connectivity.
We have facebook, pinterest, twitter, email, phones with us at all the time and yet, sometimes, I think we as mothers feel more alone than ever when hypothetically, we should be connected more than ever. We share status updates and like things. We add friends. We love instagrams and favorite tweets. We send texts with cute little heart emoticons and messages with clever quotes. We share our pictures, videos, and sometimes our hopes for the week. We update our lives and check in at places and take pictures of us smiling in a crowd.
Yet, so often, we feel alone.
Watching a world of information, perfection, could do’s, should have done’s, never-ending projects, vacations, expectations, fabulous dinners, cute homes, clever kids, and scrapbooks of life scrolling by.
Truth? I think the reason so many of us feel so alone it is that so much time is spent labeling and unintentionally competing and thus less time is spent embracing each other for who we are. And that categorizing of motherhood just might come with the crazy flood of information that we’re presented with every single day.
But, listen. At the core, we’re still all mothers.
Mothers who wake up often tired. Mothers with dreams. Mothers wondering if they’re going to make it through the morning and toddlerhood. Mothers working several jobs and praying that the food stretches the week. Mothers with one child. Mothers with many children. Mothers who are worn out. Mothers who are content. Mothers who are married. Mothers who are single. Mothers who don’t care what anyone else is doing. Mothers with kids that sit still. Mothers with kids throwing tantrums at the check-out lane in Target. We’re all mothers painting different canvases of motherhood. Making choices best for our families. Loving our kids. Working hard. Giving of ourselves.
What if this constant stream of highlights contributes to the culture of loneliness that mothers feel? What if it’s a disconnect between really getting to know someone versus only getting to know someone by the information that they share? There is a deeper level of intimacy with really getting to know the mom at preschool and sitting in the Starbucks that she instagrams all the time (haha…like me) versus simply looking at her instagram picture with the artsy looking caramel macchiato cup with the Starbucks logo turned just perfectly and her toddler who sat still for the eleven seconds it took her to take the picture.
When one gets to know someone more they see the mom ordering the macchiato and dealing with the toddler and hearing her share her story and seeing tears sometimes well in the corner of her eyes as she talks about being overwhelmed with the toddler who sat still only for the eleven seconds it took to take the instagram.
The frenzy of social can add layers of should have’s, could have’s, why didn’t I do that’s, and other unneeded expectations on our lives. It’s fabulous to share, to be social, but in that sharing and reading other’s lives we also need to remember that it’s only a snapshot of the entire canvas, the entire story, of another person.
Do you know what matters at the deep core level? It’s the bond of motherhood. It’s the bond of being brave even when sometimes we’re scared out of our minds and don’t know what to do with those kids that we love unconditionally. It’s the connection of giving of self – losing sleep, counting to ten, praying for peace, driving here and there, teaching them how to thrive as adults – while we live our lives as mother day by day teaching them, those kids, the skills and the courage to leave our homes.
We’re not raising kids to make ourselves look like super moms.
We are instead blessed with the awesome responsibility of teaching and training and loving and guiding the kids who we love to be adults. And that’s motherhood.
If we as women, as mothers recognize the potential for loneliness in what appears to be a very socially connected world, then we have a responsibility. Not to try to keep up with everything that we think would make us be a perfect mother but rather the responsibility to be real, to reach out to the other moms, to open our doors into our lives and not worry that everything isn’t exactly right or that we have different opinions on parenting topics but to rather embrace each other simply for who we are as mothers.
Motherhood isn’t meant to be journeyed alone.
Let’s celebrate real. Let’s celebrate our differences and the fact that we can learn from others.
Let’s connect motherhood. One phone call. One five extra minutes spent talking in the doorway. One trip to Starbucks. One message telling a friend how much they matter to you and how grateful you are to have them as a friend. Let’s create a community, a culture of women that decides to strip away the layers of unneeded defining expectations of motherhood and let’s instead start to celebrate the little things in life. The moments of bravery and teaching and brushing off the dust and trying again. The times spent together learning about others.
It’s about real heart connections. And being okay with not having the perfect life but instead opening up your life, your home, your heart to another. So to you, all the moms that have emailed me telling me you feel so very alone in this world of motherhood, I want you to know that you are not alone. There are many moms feeling this way. You and I and the next mom and the mom on facebook and on my finding joy facebook page we all can work to change that loneliness. Let’s be real. Let’s linger a bit more, sit with coffee, and not worry about measuring up but rather invest in each other’s lives.
Motherhood is beautiful. And motherhood is a journey meant to be shared.
So today, today I challenge you to do one thing to connect with another mom. One thing. A phone call. A smile at Starbucks (do you feel a theme with me and Starbucks?). Meeting at the park. Open your life.
Lonely motherhood connected. #littlethingsmatter

After reading this article, I would encourage you lonely moms:
1. Have personal relationships, not social media relationships.  Have a mom over to your house or meet at the park.  Don't just stay within your age limit.  Get to know mom's that are older and younger then you.  A mom that has teenagers, may need a baby fix and you might need her wisdom. 

2. To have friends, you must be a friend. When we moved to FL. I was extremely depressed and lonely.  We had just married, but we had moved to my husband's, hometown, his church, his family, his life.  He knew people and I was just waiting for someone to friend me.  Finally, one day, Jer said "Joy, to have friends you have to be a friend. Invite people over to our house."  So we started inviting families over for dinner, once a week.  Remember, someone, has to take the first step. You can be that one and have a friend for a lifetime.

3. You have a God-Sized Hole that only God can fill.  You may have all the friends in the world and STILL feel lonely.  If you don't have a personal relationship with God, you will always feel empty. We were created to be His friend and only He can satisfy the needs of our heart. 

I hope this helps. Reach out and up - Rejoicing in the Present

Friday, May 23, 2014

Bible Story Told by Kids

HAPPY Friday! I hope this puts a smile on your face.  I got such a kick out of this video!  Over the years, I have worked with preschoolers on and off ;  they are some of my favorite kids.  You never know what they are going say, but they have such tender hearts.  This video is a group of kids telling their version of the parable, about the unmerciful servant, while some adults act out the story 

*Disclaimer* - I personally, do not like anyone acting or dressing up as Jesus, so that was the one drawback for me, for this video.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Who Are You Listening To?

 Motherhood comes with many different emotions.  One minute it's exciting, the next tiring. We can go from feeling like the super mom to the super failure. One thing we have to remember is that we have a Cheerleader and a condemner. We have someone constantly whispering our failures and another that says "Cast your cares on me." Who are we listening to?  This article reminds us to close the door on the liar and to spend time with the Lifegiver. This is from Letters From the Nest: - Rejoicing

It is there, and it creeps up like a silent killer. Maybe it is the wet underwear that you found floating in the hallway bathroom. Or the cat food that has been flung out on the floor like tiny marbles waiting to trip up a passerby. Or the loud thumping and yelling and tantruming as if we live in some sort of primal age where roaring and beating your chest were the only way to get other’s attention.

And all of that madness and anger? It wasn’t the kids. It was me. The mother. The one who left a pair of Superman undies in a bathroom we rarely use for days, fed the cat without my glasses after someone else forgot, and the loud, obnoxious, downright scary human being I can be when I have just had more than I can handle.

That’s the kind of thing that happens when you allow satan to steal your motherhood.

No, it’s not the mistakes. It’s not the forgetfulness. It is what happens on the inside that no one else sees. And he knows just how to get to you.

He admires you, you know. But only when you yell at your kids, complain about tasks that need to be done regardless of how many people are in your home. He loves it when you wish you were the mom with the skinny jeans and tall boots and shiny hair with the perfectly groomed kids at the mall play area. You look at her and think you are sub-par. Satan loves that.

Satan also loves it when you get scared because someone posted a random video online of how their four year old can read, so you freak out that YOUR four year old is more interested in roaming outdoors and playing with bobby pins and giving them names, so you panic because books are the last thing on her mind. Satan is clapping now.

Satan also adores you when you get on the phone and ignore your kids, when you hide your true feelings and dreams and frustrations with your husband with a weak “I’m fine”, and when you feel like this fun birthday party at the park for your children isn’t “the best” compared to someone else’s insanely expensive Pinterest celebration.

Satan wants you to fail. And to feel alone. And to feel inadequate to what Someone Else has CALLED you to do.

Because I might as well have left the front door unlocked and allowed a thief to come right in my home yesterday. I mean, why not? I let satan in. After all the fussing and nagging and utter bone tired exhaustion, I crawled into bed with my three year old for a moment. Just to apologize.

“I am so sorry today was so rough”

“I didn’t think it was rough. I thought it was fun!”

“Really? Which part was fun?”

“The part where we played on the couch like we were on a boat. Where we ‘fished’ with your belt as a fishing line, and used the couch pillows for life boats”.

Tears started rolling down my cheeks.

“Please pray for me. That I can be a better Mommy”.

“Oh, I did! Earlier today. When it was sunny. Right before we played the boat game”.

Today I’m locking the door tight to whatever evil enters my heart and home.

Today I am going to remember the One who GIVES LIFE and knows I am a mess and LOVES ME ANYWAY.

I washed the undies. The cat took care of the food. That four year old is now six and can read like a champ. But she still names random things. And it’s cool that my hair is “shiny” because it is unwashed and I can’t wear tall boots because they make me taller than the guy that loves me to the moon and back.

Roll those cars down a ramp, read one more princess story, forget how “busy” you think you are and what the world thinks you should accomplish in a 24 hour period and for heaven’s sake, LOG OFF OF PINTEREST.

Take your kids and an old, worn blanket, reheat that coffee and hold them tight and just rest at the feet of Jesus for a moment.

Today? It is going to be okay. Take back your motherhood. It is a gift. Listen to the life-giver, NOT the liar.

The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly. {John 10:10}

Friday, May 16, 2014

Diaper Showers

After finding out about a sweet little bundle that was due to arrive, I was approached by a lady in our church who wanted to throw a shower for us.  I was not expecting it and so I had already started putting together "T"'s room on a dime. I knew I didn't have a budget so I used birthday money and some fun money to craft the room.  I was able to paint, design, recover and redo the room all within my non-budget. :-)

So when Lori talked to me about throwing me this shower/BBQ it was a wonderful bonus.  I knew that my BIGGEST expense would be diapers and wipes, so I told her about that need and she jumped on it.  She had a couples' Diaper BBQ for my husband and me. Her hubby grilled and everyone else was encouraged to bring a side dish and a pack of diapers. Our church has always been very giving and so it wasn't surprising to see the response. We were super-blessed and as you can see from the above picture. 

We have diapers for the first year and half! :-)  I am just totally pumped and thankful to God for blessing us in this way.  I wanted to share this with you because you may not have thought about all the disposables one needs with a baby. Diapers, wipes, body wash and other disposables can be quite expensive.  So if you are expecting, or know someone who is, think about having a diaper shower.  They are GREAT!  Now I just have to figure out where I'm going to store all this wonderful stuff. :-) - Rejoicing in the present

Thursday, May 15, 2014

HEALTH: Banana A Day

Did you know how good banana's are for us? I didn't. This is super interesting. This is from jewsnews.

Research has proven that just two bananas provide enough energy for a strenuous 90-minute workout. No wonder the banana is the number one fruit with the world’s leading athletes.
6But energy isn’t the only way a banana can help us keep fit. It can also help overcome or prevent a substantial number of illnesses and conditions, making it a must to add to our daily diet.


According to a recent survey undertaken by MIND amongst people suffering from depression, many felt much better after eating a banana. This is because bananas contain tryptophan, a type of protein that the body converts into serotonin, known to make you relax, improve your mood and generally make you feel happier.


Forget the pills – eat a banana. The vitamin B6 it contains regulates blood glucose levels, which can affect your mood.


High in iron, bananas can stimulate the production of hemoglobin in the blood and so helps in cases of anemia.


This unique tropical fruit is extremely high in potassium yet low in salt, making it perfect to beat blood pressure So much so, the US Food and Drug Administration has just allowed the banana industry to make official claims for the fruit’s ability to reduce the risk of blood pressure and stroke.


200 students at a Twickenham school ( England ) were helped through their exams this year by eating bananas at breakfast, break, and lunch in a bid to boost their brain power. Research has shown that the potassium-packed fruit can assist learning by making pupils more alert.


High in fiber, including bananas in the diet can help restore normal bowel action, helping to overcome the problem without resorting to laxatives.


Bananas have a natural antacid effect in the body, so if you suffer from heartburn, try eating a banana for soothing relief.


Snacking on bananas between meals helps to keep blood sugar levels up and avoid morning sickness.


Before reaching for the insect bite cream, try rubbing the affected area with the inside of a banana skin. Many people find it amazingly successful at reducing swelling and irritation.


Bananas are high in B vitamins that help calm the nervous system..
Overweight and at work? Studies at the Institute of Psychology in Austria found pressure at work leads to gorging on comfort food like chocolate and chips. Looking at 5,000 hospital patients, researchers found the most obese were more likely to be in high-pressure jobs. The report concluded that, to avoid panic-induced food cravings, we need to control our blood sugar levels by snacking on high carbohydrate foods every two hours to keep levels steady.


The banana is used as the dietary food against intestinal disorders because of its soft texture and smoothness. It is the only raw fruit that can be eaten without distress in over-chroniclercases. It also neutralizes over-acidity and reduces irritation by coating the lining of the stomach.


Many other cultures see bananas as a ‘cooling’ fruit that can lower both the physical and emotional temperature of expectant mothers. In Thailand , for example, pregnant women eat bananas to ensure their baby is born with a cool temperature.
So, a banana really is a natural remedy for many ills. When you compare it to an apple, it has FOUR TIMES the protein, TWICE the carbohydrate, THREE TIMES the phosphorus, five times the vitamin A and iron, and twice the other vitamins and minerals.. It is also rich in potassium and is one of the best value foods around So maybe its time to change that well-known phrase so that we say, ‘A BANANA a day keeps the doctor away!’

Wednesday, May 14, 2014


I wanted to give my little girl personalized wall art. I designed a "Sweet T" picture out of four canvases.  I am very much a stick-man artist so this all had to be traced.  Let me tell you how I did it. :-)

What I used:

  1. The extra paint from the babies room
  2. Blank canvases from Michaels
  3. A projector
  4. A pencil and small paint brushes
  5. Buttons 
  6. Hot glue
What I did:
  1. PREP: I painted all the canvases the lime green color of the shelf and let them dry.
  2. Next, I found a few pictures that I liked on Google.
  3. I then hooked the projector up to my computer and projected the picture onto the canvas.
  4. Then, using pencil, I traced the picture onto the canvas.
  5. I filled in all the pictures with the paint from Baby "T"'s room.
  6. I had to give each picture a few coats of paint.
  7. After the pictures were dry, I added details.
  8. For the "T", I painted the "T" first and once it dried, I hot-glued white buttons all over it. 
The pictures are hard to see but they turned out to be quite adorable and it's a sweet gift that I can give to my sweet "T". :-) - Rejoicing in the Present

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

DIY Pacifier Clip

My amazing big sis made Baby T some pacifier clips.  She said that you can also use them to clip toys.  How awesome is this!  Thanks, Faith!  So I went on Pinterest and found out how to make them.  Here are the directions I got from freeprettythingsforyou

What you need:

  1. Bed Sheet Fasteners
  2. Ruffled Ribbon and Ribbon
  3. Hot Glue

What you do...

  1. Cut the fasteners up
  2. Hot glue 2 ruffled trims together (both ruffled trims were 8 inches long)
  3. And then hot glue the thin pink ribbon on the back.
  4. Next, fasten the clip on and add Velcro on the other end.. and that was it!

You could make 4 of these fancy clip holders for only 99 cents if you already have the other materials on hand :)This would be a super cute gift to give at a baby shower don’t you think?

Monday, May 12, 2014


"It's raining AGAIN."
"My back hurts."
"She said_____________ about me."
"I spilled my Starbucks on the floor this morning before I got a sip."
"My boss ripped me today."

Do we often complain about our many problems to friends and on our Social Media websites? What if you really had a problem? Would you be able to overcome it or would you just simply complain about it?  I love to hear the stories of overcomers.  I love to see the world and the devil defeated.  I love to see how God helps us to overcome.  We really have NOTHING to complain about.  We are so blessed!  Nick V. reminds us of this in a video clip. 

My mom and I had the privilege of seeing Nick at a conference, about 2 years ago. He is still going strong. 

My brother, Daniel Waldschmidt, wrote a book Edgy Conversations about overcoming and achieving success. It gives some great stories and some good how-to strategies.  If you are really struggling with success, pick up the book.  It will give you some insight.

But, also, pick up the Bible.  Your ultimate cheerleader is God.  Yes, we can fight but we need him to fight with us.  I pray that we don't just complain about our struggles, but that we fight, and we fight with the power that God gives.  We overcome. We don't allow anything to hold us back. - Rejoicing in the Present

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Happy Mother's Day

Recently, I wrote a post about a controversial blog- post about a Mother's Day video.  In the post, I wrote a shout-out to my mom and if you didn't get to read it before, I hope you will read about the amazing and wonderful woman that I get to call "Mom". 

Mothers Hold Wall Art My mother had 5 children whom she loved, trained and taught.  If there was an award for a Stay-at-Home Mom of the Year, she would have won it every year.  She made most of our meals from scratch; she couponed, cleaned, nursed us, and read to us for hours each week, drove us to school, church, lessons, and games and so on.  She went above and beyond with me as she home schooled me from 5th grade through 12th grade. She also nursed me for months at a time, as I had four major spinal surgeries, where I was on my back for about a month each time.  I know there were days that she didn't sit down much, and plenty of nights, she didn't, and still doesn't, sleep. 
She has always been one to put her stuff down and talk and counsel me when I call. (I call almost every day)  She took time, everyday, to have a private time with God and taught us to do the same.  She was and is a godly woman.  Is she perfect?  No, but she tried to give her best.  She didn't do it for glory; she did it because she knew that was what God was asking of her to do.

Happy Mother's Day Mom! I love you! - Rejoicing in the Present

Friday, May 9, 2014

DIY Mobile

I really wanted my baby girl to have a pretty mobile but they were a bit expensive for the use they get. Since, Baby A wasn't using his, I decided to redo his. His mobile had animals to go with his animal theme and since that didn't go with her theme, I redid it. Here is what I did...

What I used:

  1. Previously used mobile
  2. Flowers (from Michaels)
  3. Ribbon
What I did:
  1. PREP: I simply removed the strings that held the animal.
  2. Then I went shopping and  found these adorable flowers at Michaels. They looked like little balls of flowers.
  3. Next I took the stems off and cut ribbon to the length I wanted them to hang.
  4. I threaded the ribbon through the flower balls.
  5. And then I tied knots at the top and hung them. 
  6. I finished by gluing a flower to the top. VOILA!
It was so simple and I'm sure that you could hang about anything from them. You probably could go to a thrift store or garage sale if you don't have an old one mobile. The world is your limit. :-) - Rejoicing in the Present

Thursday, May 8, 2014


PAINT: the key to give most rooms or items a new lift.  I think sometimes that I use paint as my fall-back for everything...and in this case, we painted ALOT!

We painted the walls two different colors (Two were a light pink and two were a dark cherry pink). We painted all the base boards white. Then I painted an accent shelf green and the lamp white. It was amazing to see the transformation of the room after the many different paint jobs we did!  I would encourage you that if your room needs a quick face lift, try to some paint. 

Some thoughts

  1. When looking for a paint color, don't limit yourself to a certain brand.  Many times, stores, like Lowe's can match the color with a cheaper brand. 
  2. Look at the price yourself: don't just take the paint chip to them and ask them to get you your paint. I did this when I first started painting and the workers all seemed to give me the most expensive paint they sold.
  3. Try some different forms of painting. When painting Baby "A"'s bathroom, the first color was super bright and my husband really didn't like it. So I came back with a lighter color and sponged over it. It's now perfect for us!
  4. There are alot of fun things you can do to the wall-everything from stenciling to stripes to sponging.  Google or Pinterest some ideas and you will see how much fun you can have! 
  5. Don't forget to have drop cloths and don't forget to use painter's tape to give you a clean-cut look!
I hope this gives you some ideas :-) - Rejoicing in the Present

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

DIY Fleece Blanket

When our little guy was a baby, my husband's grandmother made him a beautiful quilt. We will always treasure it as it was made with lots of love. She is a sweet lady with a big heart but her health just wouldn't allow her to make another quilt.  Instead she made a beautiful comfy blanket for our little girl.  Like the quilt, we will treasure the effort and love she put into it. 

I was able to find easy directions on Pinterest from Katie. Here they are...

What you need:
  1. Two fleece fabrics. I always do a pattern on top and a solid on bottom,  This blanket is 2 yards long. I usually do 2 1/2 yards because I like mine huge - but they only had 2 yards left in the gray and that's what I wanted. Obviously you can make them bigger or smaller according to your needs.
  2. Scissors
What you do:

  1. Lay down the solid piece of fleece with the softest side facing the floor. On a side note, don't wash your fleece before you begin - I did that the first time I ever made one of these and it didn't turn out well Wash it when you're finished!
  2. Then lay down the printed fleece with the softest side up.
  4. Using your cutting board underneath, cut off the excess edges with your fabric rotary cutter. You know me, I just eyeball it. Just cut off as little as possible so you can maximize your fabric.
  5. Now cut off all four corners. I cut five squares x five squares on my board.
  6. Now you're ready to cut your strips. I don't measure every single strip (this would take an eternity) but they vary in width from about 1 - 1 1/2 squares width. I cut them about five squares deep to match the depth of the corner square I cut.
  7. As I'm cutting I flip every other strip up. This will make it easier to tie the strips later on and it helps me eyeball how straight my line is.
  8. Now you tie! I start at the corner strip and tie every other strip. I always tie two knots. Make sure you don't tie the first knot too tight - if you do the fabric will all bunch together and your blanket will end up small and round (this happened on my first blanket).
  9. Then just go back around and tie the rest of the stips!
  10. Viola! You're done - it probably took me about an hour at the most.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014


Religious or Relational?  Pharisee or Follower?  Tradition or Truth? 

Have you asked yourself these questions?  Why do you go to church?  Why do you give money to your church?  Why do you do it that way?  Why do you sing that song?  Why do you attend that many or that few services?  Why are you caring on that tradition or is it truth?  I don't believe you should just drop every ministry and service you are a part of, but I do think you should check your heart and check your motive.

The article below is from Pastor Kurt Kelly and I found it very convicting.  I hope it will encourage and convict you as it did me. - Rejoicing in the Present
In and of themselves, traditions are not bad things. In fact, they’re good things, and I suppose we all practice them to varying degrees. For instance, one of our family traditions is to exchange gifts on Christmas Eve. I know, it’s kind of like cheating. Apparently it’s a Norwegian thing. One quick click on the “Kurt's Family” tab above will make it pretty obvious that my kids are a couple of generations removed from their blonde haired, blue eyed Norwegian heritage! But we faithfully keep the tradition anyway. And we like it. Especially sleeping in on Christmas morning. Don’t hate.

I have no idea when, where, or how that tradition began. Perhaps a good reason exists. Or maybe Norwegians are naturally more impatient than others. It doesn’t matter.

What does this have to do with church?

Churches are filled with traditions, and not just the church down the street with the gothic architecture. Your church. Mine too. For instance, some time ago somebody had the bright idea that it might be wise to meet for Bible study in the middle of the week. Great idea, if you ask me. No doubt the “midweek service pioneers” were driven by the biblical principle that people draw closer to God and each other through Bible study and prayer. 

The principle drove the behavior. The repeated behavior became habit. The mutually shared habit became tradition. Now, simply insert any number of other methodologies or traditions—bus ministry, Sunday school, etc.—and consider the same process.  

Here’s the problem. Once tradition sets in, we often forget its underlying principle. The tradition becomes the measure of right and wrong. Subtly, our application of a biblical principle begins to outweigh the very truth upon which it was founded. A good thing has now become a bad thing.

When are traditions dangerous?

When they become an end in and of themselves

Traditions are applications of unchanging truths. To borrow the illustration above, churches need to be places where, among other things, believers learn the timeless truths of the Word of God. This must never change. Whether they choose to do that on Wednesday night or Friday afternoon or Tuesday morning is up to them.  Let’s recognize the liberty other individuals and church bodies have to recognize biblical principles and formulate the best practices by which they can honor them.

When they become a measuring stick for spirituality

Human pride loves comparisons, and she typically chooses to set herself up as the standard by which all others are compared and by which they must inevitably fall short. “The way we do it is right, because it’s the way we do it.” If we are not careful, our traditions will become the lens through which we view and judge others.

When they thwart innovation

Keep in mind that today’s tradition was yesterday’s innovation. Somebody pioneered bold new approaches like picking up children on buses, or canvassing neighborhoods, or organizing evangelistic campaigns, or extending altar calls, or printing gospel tracts. Although you might argue that some of these were first century methodologies, I could readily make the case that first century believers did not employ these methods in these ways. How could they? Combustible engines, printing presses, television, and a host of other societal advances were not available to the first century Christian.    

Again, I’m grateful for each of these methods, and our church happens to employ all of them. But let’s keep in mind the principle that undergirds them lest the tradition itself impede the exploration of a better way.

We live in exciting days! Yes, technological advances have brought frightening new dangers. But they have also brought unprecedented avenues by which we may advance the cause of Jesus Christ.

I guess what I’m saying is that it’s OK for you to open your presents on Christmas morning or go to Aunt Edna’s on Thanksgiving. For that matter, it really doesn’t bother me if you use one song director or a team of song leaders. Hymn book or screen. Pew or chair. Wednesday or Thursday. Growth groups or Sunday school. Whatever.

Let’s agree to love Jesus and teach the Bible