Finding Joy in the Really Hard – When Fear and Anger Rise, Joy Can Overcome

Find JOY When the Hard Comes...

There are times in our lives, when it feels like the darkness is closing in, and nothing will ever be beautiful again. Life is hard. Life is a struggle and sometimes we are faced with circumstances we could not have predicted, and fear and anger run rampant. But joy… Joy is seeing God for who He is, despite your situation.

Joy is the yearning for more of Him, and less of this world. Joy comes in seeing the things of God, from learning more about God, and from diving deeper into your relationship with Him. When the really hard comes knocking at your door, turn to joy, not fear.

We have had our share of hard… one of our children had to have surgery when he was eleven months old. It was a bad hernia that had to be repaired. We were terrified leading up to his surgery, and especially the morning of. As we let him go into the arms of the nurse who would take him to the O.R., we prayed God would protect him. Little did we know, God was at work, but not in the way we ever would have predicted.

Praying for Grace

Our son suffered at the hands of his surgeon, and because of it, he will forever be physically altered. When you have a doctor tell you that the surgeon did not do a good job, and also did a few things wrong you feel incredibly vulnerable, angry and extremely sad. Our baby needed a second surgery, which helped some things, but also showed us that what had happened was permanent, and irreversible. He was damaged, and we couldn’t fix it. As a mom, and a “fixer”, knowing this, was just heartbreaking.  We decided to seek professional counsel and though we didn’t find an attorney to take our case, I felt this burning drive to fight for my son.

While I was fighting for some justice for him, God was working. While I was battling hate, anger and guilt, God was working. While I was feeling helpless and thinking my sons life would be complicated and maybe even painful because of this doctor, God was working. And a settlement did come…without and attorney.

You see, God doesn’t take a back seat approach and give us directions only before we are about to fall off a cliff. He actually orchestrates the moments in our lives to bring about good to those who love Him.

Not only did He do just that in our case, but He also provided 13 children with life changing surgery because of it. A surgery which cost us so much, was used to provide for those who have so little. We decided to tithe on the money right when it came, to thank God for what He did by giving us a victory, even without an attorney. When I realized what He had done, and what He allowed me to do (I had written a prayer to Him, one year earlier asking Him to provide for us, so we could give to Cure), the joy was literally overwhelming.

Sometimes it takes stepping back, looking at what is, and what was and saying “thank you!” God is at work in your life, even when it’s hard, and even at times that feel so dark and lonely. He is there, holding you, working out things for your good, even though you can’t see it.

But hold on…because when you do see what He has done, it will overwhelm you with his tender mercy and love. Finding joy in the hard is not impossible, but it does take work. Forcing your mind and heart to focus on God, and not circumstances can be a great habit to form. It can be so hard to see outside of the present situation, but God is for you, not against you, and He will work this hard out for your good.

JOY in the hard times

Brussels Sprouts with Bacon – Finger Licking Good!

Brussels Sprouts and Bacon Recipe

Brussels sprouts and the term “finger licking good” wouldn’t normally be paired in the same sentence together…but these brussels sprouts are most definitely that. My husband even liked them…like he actually ate them and wanted more. He does NOT like brussels sprouts or any member of the cabbage family. He said if you add maple syrup and bacon to just about anything, I’ll eat it! So there you have it. These are so good, husbands will even eat them.

I decided to make these for Mother’s Day. My mom loves cabbage and brussels sprouts are one of her favorites. My niece is an abnormal eater…and adores brussels sprouts and asparagus. My own children wouldn’t even consider eating this. But their loss.

Brussels sprouts and bacon

Brussels Sprouts with Maple Syrup and Bacon

INGREDIENTS:

  • 3 lbs brussels sprouts cut in half (we made a large batch, you can easily cut this in half)
  • 3/4 C olive oil
  • 1/4 C maple syrup
  • 1 package of bacon, raw and sliced into 1/2- 1 inch pieces
  • Salt and pepper to taste

DIRECTIONS:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In a large glass baking dish add sprouts. In a bowl mix the olive oil and syrup, and then pour over sprouts, evenly coating them all. Add bacon and mix well. Top with salt and pepper. Bake uncovered for an hour (until the bacon is a bit crispy and the sprouts are soft and tender).

Brussels Sprouts and bacon recipe

5 Tips to a Better After School Routine – Reducing the Chaos and Creating Order

After School Routine - turning chaos into order

There is something so insanely stressful about a bunch of kids coming through the front door, throwing backpacks everywhere, kicking off their shoes, all at once telling you the good and bad of their days and reaching for snacks and drinks. Meanwhile….I’m over here like, “Don’t touch that!”  “I just vacuumed that!”  “I can’t hear you over your sister.” “What did you say?” “Don’t eat that, I’m about the make dinner!”

How can this chaotic, loud, and messy after school scene be made a little bit less stressful? Preparation!  Preparing your heart, body, life, and schedule to fit around the after school routine can make it seem so much more doable. Sometimes this is literally impossible. Working moms may feel like they so wish they could be there for the after school time, but for those of us who are there to welcome the little cherubs home, here are a few tips to make it go smoothly.

Creating order after school - 5 Tips to Going from Chaos to Order After School

5 Tips to a Better After School Routine – Creating Order

  1. Give yourself 15-20 minutes of time BEFORE they come home, to just decompress. This could be as simple as having a cup of coffee, doing a devotion, or sitting on the couch and staring blankly at the wall.
  2. Have dinner thought out, made up, or start to prepare it ahead of time. Otherwise you will be trying to cook, cleanup, talk to the kids, and get ready for the evening’s activities all at once. This can make for a cranky mom, and cranky kids.
  3. Create a designated spot for backpacks, shoes, coats, paperwork, homework, etc. to go. You can turn your hall closet into an organized place where all of this happens, with bins for homework, a basket for shoes, hooks for backpacks. Or you can use really any place in the house you think would work, in order to give everything it’s place. When you have multiple kids, with multiple backpacks, coats, etc. it just gets so disorderly, so quickly. Having a place to keep everything nice and tidy helps the kids to know exactly where to put things, and keeps the house from being ripped apart  the moment they walk through the door.
  4. Know the schedule for the evening, and post it for all to see. We use a chalkboard in our kitchen to keep everyone on the same page. I usually write out the night before what the next day will be like. This way the kids know what to expect. Do we have a doctor appointment? Are we picking up their cousin? Does one of the kids have an activity? What’s for dinner? All of this is on the board, so we can all be on the same page.
  5. Prepare snacks in bags, or bowls ahead of time. When the kids finally get home from a long day of school, being good, working hard, and barely eating, they are ravenous! Unless you want them to eat an entire bag of chips while watching Jessie, it’s best to have apples sliced, crackers bagged, and everything ready to go. This also reduces the amount of people who will rip apart the kitchen trying to find snacks, and they won’t be fighting over the same bag of treats.

5 Tips for a better after school routine

Coffee, Netflix, and Grace – What the Modern Mom Needs

Coffee Netflix and Grace - Mom Needs in the Modern World

Maybe it’s just me…but I feel like there are three very simple things that keep me somewhat sane… coffee, Netflix and grace. Before I was a mom I didn’t drink coffee…that was something grown-ups did (I was only 20 when I had my first baby), Netflix wasn’t really a thing (or maybe they just mailed DVD’s) and grace wasn’t something I realized I needed. After eleven years of parenting, and a lifetime worth of experiences with these five crazy munchkins, I feel like these are my go-to’s for keeping me sane.

Of course this isn’t a complete list…I still need food, air, water, mom friends, time with hubby, etc., but this is what makes me, as a modern mom, function and quite honestly not lose my mind! Maybe it’s because life is overly complicated now. Not only are we responsible for our children, but with the mom shaming going on virtually, it’s hard to not feel incompetent and inadequate. Most moms are needed to work outside of the home, raise children, have social lives, be involved in their churches, and still try to find me-time. There is no shortage of demands and expectations.

Praying for Grace

Grace. It’s a simple word, an old fashioned-reborn name, and really truly one of the sweetest gifts God can give us. People ask me all the time, “how do you do it with five kids? I can barely handle my two!” Grace is given as we need it. God doesn’t give you grace for five kids, when you have two.

He gives you grace to meet your needs, to help you get through the impossible, defeat the sin you are battling in your own heart and mold your children into respectful little people.

Praying for Him to dish out the grace is an easy call for help. When I was homeschooling my brood I would often ask Him to give me grace to get through the rest of the day, because it was a struggle on every single level.

Bring coffee to a friend who is sick

When your mom’ing becomes overwhelming, your days long, your weeks a blur and you feel like you have totally lost “you”…try to remember this is a season.

A time we will one day long for again, and that this is one of the most challenging yet important jobs you can possibly have. Hug them, when you don’t feel lovable, cuddle them, even when you feel totally spent, and remember to pray for grace as it’s needed. Oh, and have a cup of coffee….lots and lots of coffee!

All I Need is Coffee Netflix and Grace

What Moms Really Want for Mother’s Day

Mother's Day, What Moms Really Want

She has the ability to kiss boo-boo’s and make them better… she can find lost-never-to-return favorite stuffed animals… she knows what you are thinking, before you even think it. Mother’s Day is rapidly approaching, and with it comes our undying love and respect for the mama’s in our lives.

God has given women the unparalleled ability to nurture, care for, grow and even feed our children. We are uniquely made and equipped for the job, apart from men (who are equipped in different ways). The ability to nurture, and raise little people doesn’t come without sacrifice, challenge, sleepless nights and even a little drama.

breakfast

Mom’s have the tremendous responsibility of caring for every aspect of their children’s lives. From their mental, physical, spiritual and emotional well-being, to having their medical record memorized by heart, they intimately know their children. With this intimacy also comes a lot of worry, stress, and exertion on every level. Since Mother‘s Day is a day where we are to honor mom, giving her a special day off from her normal routine, lets take a moment to talk about what mom’s REALLY want for Mother’s Day.

  1. Rest. As mom’s we adore our children, husbands, families. But this one very coveted day is quite honestly for kicking up our feet and just resting! We do not want to cook, meal plan, grocery shop, bathe people, break up fights or vacuum. Plan ahead…have the meal purchased or the reservations made. Make her breakfast in bed….or heck, just bring her a cup of coffee and tell her to stay in bed!
  2. Homemade gifts are the best. Since moms are usually the ones to make the homemade gifts with the kids, it’s not too often they get to actually receive those really cute, thoughtful, Pinterest worthy gifts. We love them. You put our child’s handprint on literally anything and we will go bananas.
  3. To feel loved and appreciated. It is simple really…we aren’t looking for awards or praises. Moms just want to feel loved, appreciated and thought of. This is where planning ahead comes into play….having meals thought of ahead of time…having a special outing or day planned (even if it includes dad taking the kids to the park so mom can take a nap). It feels good to feel thought of, and to have someone else plan for the kids. We don’t want to pick out the kids outfits, and burn 500 calories attempting to get the four year old into his church clothes, while the ten year old screams she can’t find something to wear.

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Mother’s Day is a unique opportunity to cherish time with your mom. Whether you are two, or sixty two, remember to take time out of your day to honor your mom. With all that she does for you, has done, and will continue to do, we need to say “thank you” and “I love you” while we can.

Mothers Day, what moms really want