Monday, July 25, 2011

ramblings of a step parent

When I first began this journey.
Daniella barely 3 years young.
One of the best, most complicated aspects of my life is step-parenting.  I know, I know... I hate the word "step" too.  But it is often too complicated to explain what people otherwise associate with this word. 

Don't get me wrong, this "step" business is filled with so many highs and joys, but along with it come some of the most challenging situations I'll probably ever have to go through.

I have always prayed that Christ would grant to me the ability to love Daniella as unconditionally as I would love any other child that He blesses me with.  I don't want there to be an ounce of difference between her and any other siblings she may have.  I never want to hear her say, "This is my half sister/brother, oh and that's my Dad's wife."  Never. Ever. Ever. Ever!

I can truly say that although is a continual pursuit in the revelation of adoption, God has been good to me and He has given me grace to love.

In everything though, I am finding this stepparenting experiencing quite lonely* Most people I know carry one of two mentalities when it comes to our very very unique situation;
  1) "I could never do that" and so they don't.  They lack the understanding and the desire to really understand so they purposefully set themselves away from it all.  The thought of even coming in with me and getting their hands and knees dirty is just inconceivable.

  2)  "I would help out and all, but so long as it doesn't affect me negatively."  The idea of laying down my life for the sake of another-- even more that it is someone who is not "flesh and blood" is absolutely prepostorous, so they advice me to just walk away and kinda keep at a distance.  Well, considering my answered prayer from a paragraph or two ago, it doesn't really seems like that's an option. 

Us now. This is sweet-sweet journey!
Both parties mean well, and I am by no means speaking against either.  It is hard, and truthfully, I probably wouldn't quite know how to handle if I wasn't the one in the midst of it all.  I probably would say "I could never do that" and just lack understanding, comfortably.  And that's okay.

In this lonely journey, I'm finding that I have to truly press into the Lord.  I'm having to receive revelation and grace as to how to do this in a manner that will glorify Him and benefit my sweet Daniella Grace, from Scripture, when there's no exact scenario or exhortation in Scripture on it.  I'm having to be vulnerable with my husband in every opinion, every thought and every emotion (and may I say vulnerability is not my specialty).  I'm learning that for me to stepparent successfully, I have to die to myself and I have to posess qualities so much like Jesus that it is impossible for me to do it without Him.

I remember picking up a book on stepparenting at Border's once.  I browsed through and in reading the first page or so, I realized what an awful mentality our society has on step-parenting.  One parent was quoted "I really don't get along with my stepkids that well.  They don't like me, and truthfully, I don't really like them.  It's a mutual understanding and respect that has allowed neither one of us to build up resentment against the other." 


I'm pretty positive that's not how Jesus would do it.  I'm pretty positive He speaks to the stepparent and encourages them to give up the child (in love, so to speak) and their very lives and heart in the process for the purpose of life. (read all about it in 1 Kings 3:16-28

I think my *favorite* part of this lonely journey is that I know this is what He has chosen for me.  One of the worship leaders at the International House of Prayer-KC once said that "God chose the generation, the nation, the circumstance, the family, the very heritage into which you should be born so that you would love Him the most." 

When this thing gets tough and all manners of self-seeking thoughts and attitudes knock at my door, I have to, I choose to remind myself that He has chosen this for me.  This was done out of His Sovereignty and His purposes will reign. 

It's a team effort, this Mommy business
In the meantime, I'd like to encourage you.  Look around the people in your life.  Is there anyone who has a "difficult, sticky" situation they live with?  Are you readily available to offer prayer and/or Biblical support?  Have you prayed for them lately?  Chances are, they need it.  Ask God to encounter you with a spirit of adoption and pray for someone you normally "wouldn't know how to" pray for. 

Friday, July 22, 2011

high calling of servanthood

A great friend asked me at the end of the year last year what my (spiritual) goals were for the new year.  Last year was a *rough* year and little did she know she was setting me up for what would be the theme of this very year.

"I just want to learn to serve, yano.  I feel like servanthood is such a lost art and I want to learn how to be a okay with just being a servant.  After all, it's what Jesus asked of us, right?"  I responded. She nodded her head and simply said, "Wow, yeah... that's so true."

Ha! This year has been filled with so many opportunities to quietly, humbly and secretly serve.  Back in December, Aaliya was only 4 months old. Now she's a few short weeks shy of one (yikes!).  But becoming a mother has only been an introduction to servanthood.  It is indeed the greatest and highest calling to give up of oneself to rear these little ones unto the Kingdom of God, yet I am learning that this call to lowly servanthood reaches far beyond the walls of our home, similarly to the way that the influence of the Church should reach far beyond the walls of the building called Church.

I am servant to my God first, my husband second, my children third and the world fourth.  Nevertheless, I am servant by calling.

I hoped to use an appropriate definition for "servant" or "serve" at this point in the post, yet when looking through the dictionary, I definitely feel as though the English language has been compromised and Scriptural words are now used for common or negative concepts.  The definitions just didn't encompass the fullness of what a servant is. 

As a servant, I have learned that it is more than just to meet needs and just "present in a specified manner."  Serving my Christ, my family and the community surrounding means putting my needs and desires on hold, to fulfill theirs.  It means that out of love, I am willing to do whatever it takes to bring them closer to Christ.  Serving is truly a work of grace and such a high calling.  I have never known Christ as deeply nor as sweetly as this year, in serving my husband without grumbling or complaining, in serving my two daughters with my whole heart and with my entire time, or in learning to consider others as better than myself.

I have yet to master servanthood, but this sweet journey has drawn me closer to Him.  I long for you to join me on this journey and tell me all about it...

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

a community of mommies

The baby's crying unconsolably.  The phone's ringing.  The big sister is hungry and has a hundred questions; oh, and the baby's crying stresses her out.  The water I was *attempting* to boil is now spilling over because it's been sitting there entirely too long set on high.  I am overwhelmed and I want to throw in the towel and cry.

prringg! A text message assaults my phone and my senses.  Angry at the interruption on my self-pity Mama-Friend writes "How's your day going?  Thinking about ya!"  And I break down.  It's friends like these and texts like these that keep me going. 

It was so completely insignificant, yet it touched my heart strings like few other things could.  I am convinced that old African Proverb was on to something.  You know, the one that says "It takes a village to raise a child."

But, I think it has less to do with everyone putting their hands in the cookie jar of parenting and more to do with the support a family needs to do the job properly.

I need encouragement.  I need a friend to call when I feel like I can't do this.  I need to know I'm walking alongside someone and that they are as imperfect as I am.  I need community.

And for the most part, I truly feel like I have it.  I am beyond blessed to have a wonderful pot of friendships from every different walk of life that I can trust and turn to for support, encouragement and a reciprocated efforts to them.  But I am starting to notice that this may not be norm. 

It is so important that we establish community amongst ourselves so that we remain safe and secure and accountable for our mothering, our wifeliness and our walks with the Lord. 

"He who separates himself seeks his own desire, He quarrels against all sound wisdom." (Prov. 18:1)
"Do not be deceived; Bad company corrupts good character." (1 Cor 15:33)

It is important we surround ourselves with good company.  Company who will speak Scripture into us and not allow us to dishonor our family in any way.  Company who will be bold and unashamed in their stance for righteousness and stir us to do the same. Company who will stir us to be like Christ and love and serve Him wholeheartedly.

I would encourage that you create a culture of community wherever you are.  Make yourself available and be open with both your sucesses and your failures. Make the first move and see what happens.  Encourage yourself in the Lord and practice sound wisdom.  Surround yourselves with godly women who will speak life and courage into you daily!
*this post is linked with Living Well Wednesdays

Monday, July 18, 2011

I will be content

I am about to fit six extra people into our already crowded cozy two-bedroom apartment.  And I have to say, I'm slightly nervous.

As I was doing a massive overhaul of cleaning today (because of course, last week's cleaning in preparation for this blessed event was just that... last week's cleaning) I began to really question myself.  Why is it that I feel like I have to "put on a show" everytime family or guests come to visit? There is this unspoken pressure that causes me to perform, act, you know... Make sure the house really sparkles and shines. I don't fully understand it.  It's not like my family or guests have ever complained about my living arrangements.  It's not like they've ever made me feel nor mentioned any form of distaste towards what and how I do what I *try* to do. 

But, there it is.  Everytime family and guests come.  That ugly monster peeks its head and I become an insecure teenager again.  Except this time, it's not about the zit on my forehead, it's about the hiccup in decorating style or small living quarters I have to offer

The mature, sensible part of me screams, "That's just silly!"  But the very human side of me struggles to find contenment in my surroundings and myself.  We go back to that upside down way of our society.

I don't mean to sound like a broken record, but the closer I get to Christ, the more I see how utterly backwards our society is.  We seek for more things and bigger things but forsake the One Thing. That one thing that Paul count everything as loss, for the sake of knowing It.  Here I am, worried that my tiny cozy apartment won't be enough, but it's all I have to offer.  It's all I've been given to steward and my heart and mind must find contenment in it.  I'm drawn away by more and forget that He is my provider and He provides according to our needs and His wisdom.

I will set my heart on Christ and learn the meaning of contenment.  I will live simply so that I can simply live life more abundantly hidden in Christ.  I will remind myself that He decides how much I should steward and find joy, contenment and peace there.

And if someone else chooses to judge me for it... Well then, so be it.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

no such thing as middle ground.

Phew! I never knew a little sorcerer kid could cause such a commotion, nor could the portrayed love story between a dreaded vampire and a supposed pure maiden cause such massive hysteria in society!

Then again, such is the kingdom of darkness.  Subtle in its execution, mighty in its result.

That social media of Facebook has seen quite its amount of drama and controversy amongst Christians over this much-debated subject of Christians engaging and participating in witchcraft by watching Harry Potter.

This was my response to the much controversial topic; "Sadly, the line between good and evil is being blurred more and more! Christians are being deceived at an alarming rate.  But, such is the Great Apostasy.  The good news is, Truth Wins!"  Truth of course being Jesus Christ and not Edward Cullen or Harry Potter.

Bottom line comes to this.  (Contributed by yet another clever Facebook status) "... to piggy back on all the fuss about Harry Potter and all that jazz, I just have to say one thing.  Truth Wins! And when we stand before Him, we will give account for everything we did; even the movies we watched, and the music we listened to.  He really DOES care about that stuff."

We serve and love a God who is intensely personal and whose name is Jealous. (Exodus 34:14, Deuteronomy 6:15)  We have been called to be stewards unto Him and every decision we make counts.  He is not a shrewd dictator, but He is Jealous and there is no way around that.

If then, we are called to be stewards of His resources unto His Kingdom, then how can we partner with darkness and justify it?

"If we say that we have fellowship with Him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth." (1 John 1:6)

"Do not be bound together with unbelievers; for what partnership have righteousness and lawlessness, or what fellowship has light with darkness? Or what harmony has Christ with Belial, or what has a believer in common with an unbeliever? Or what agreement has the temple of God with idols (idols like the massive hysteria in society over that little sorcerer kid and that Edward Cullen guy? hmm)? For we are the temple of the living God; just as God said, “I will dwell in them and walk among them; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people. Therefore, 'come out from their midst and be seperate,' says the Lord.  'and do not touch what is unclean (sin!); And I will welcome you. And I will be a father to you, and you shall be sons and daughters to Me,' says the Lord Almighty." (2 Corinthians 6:14-18)

Though we can debate this subject all day long, there are two key facts that none of us, believers, can deny.

1) Harry Potter and Twilight (just to name a few) are associated with the demonic supernatural realm and witchcraft which is Scripturally evil. "Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live." (Ex 22:18) " For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry. Because thou hast rejected the word of the LORD, he hath also rejected thee from being king" (1 Sam 15:23)

2) The enemy comes, seeking to destroy truth and bring forth compromise to the believers of Christ. "Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour." (1 Pet. 5:8)  Our adversary comes looking for whom he may devour, and according to 1 Peter, he can only devour a person who is drunk in spirit (with the pleasures of this world) and unaware.

I am called to steward my finances, my time and my resources unto Christ.  What then, can I truly say to account for the time wasted on Harry Potter and Edward Cullen?  Of what heavenly value is that to me? 

How can I partner with darkness and expect Light to be merciful to me?  I am either for God or against Him.  There is simply no middle ground.  It is not just a book.  It is not just a movie.  There is not "just" in this life.  All of it is a battle.  All of it is a choice.  A choice to partner with Christ and be a wise steward of time or a choice to be drunk of spirit and slumber away, thinking that I'm awake and alive. 

As a Christian, there is just no middle ground.  It's an illusion created by that same crafty enemy that has brought about these stories that have deceived so many. It has devoured many that have fallen asleep to his devices.

All this fuss has caused me to re-evaluate myself.  My time spent and how guarded (or unguarded) I am.  I don't want to think that I'm alive, if I'm really dead on the inside.

... I pray you don't either.

"You adulteresses, do you not know that friendship with the world is hostility toward God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God." (James 4:4)

*writer's note: I wanted to include pictures with this post, but while searching for a picture, I kept coming across such distasteful pictures of wickedness, I decided against it.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

pursuing ministry as a family

Walter Bagehot once said "Women-- one half of the human race, at least-- care fifty times more about a marriage than a ministry." 

No offense to Walter Bagehot, but I tend to disagree.  I do care fifty times more about marriages than the Westernized notion of ministry, but I also firmly believe that ministry is intricately woven into the family unit, including marriage and they are to go hand-in-hand, not exclusive from one another

This is the little-big family I have the privilege of ministry alongside! :)

Unfortunately, we have gotten away from the idea that our families are our ministries and we've instead pursued outside of the home that which we should pursue not only within our home, but through our home.

I believe ministry (in the fullness of the word, not just the western notion of it) is an act of worship that is to be pursued as a family unit, not just individually.  Unfortunately, we are all too eager for "our own thing" that we tend to leave behind the primary ministry Christ has given us.

Let's look at some of the famous women ministers that have impacted our society.  I don't doubt (nor will I consider judging) they treasure family, but their ministries carry their names and their words as its primary foundation.  Rather than a family unit being known for its love we see individuals speaking forth words, but lacking through with actions.

How important it is for us to run the race, side by side with our families; our husbands, our children, our fathers and mothers if we haven't attained marriage and parenting yet.  I don't believe ministry was created to be an individual affair.  I don't believe callings and life visions are given to individuals who are married.  I believe they are released specifically for the family unit.  My husband doesn't have a calling, and neither do I.  But together, we have the highest calling; to raise the two daughters Christ has graced us with.  All as a family we are called to minister in love and justice to the poor, the widow, the orphan, the young and the old alike. 

So many opportunities have come for me to minister as an individual, and it has been hard to reject some, but in everything, I must take it to prayer and my husband and truly weigh out whether it's a family affair or a Nicole affair.  Not to say that every member of my family participates in every ministry "event" so to speak that we are involved in.  But does the family minister or just Mommy?  In blogging, I am the only one that blogs, but it is our family that ministers through the blog because it is our life as a family that inspires each post.  Such is the ministry I desire to see rise up again in our nation.

I dare to believe this can happen, do you?

*this post is linked up with Living Well Wednesdays!

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Biblical Hospitality

Every Wednesday night our house is busting at the seams with youth and young adults.  Around 730p they start filtering in (sometimes even a little before) and they stay well past 1030p.  Wednesday night is our night of service and open hospitality.  I make the very best effort to provide not only dinner (sometimes just a light one or just desserts), but a godly and welcoming atmosphere for them.

And you know?  Something's gotta be going okay.  Because, they keep coming back. And I love it!

One of the things I'm passionate about is hospitality.  I may not be from the "Real South" but I delight in that Southern Hospitality Charm that characterizes a lot of southern states (though why FL has taken a culture of its own and decided not to take on the culture of "The South" is beyond me!). 

I believe it is so very important for every homemaker to practice hospitality as per Biblical Instruction.

"The end of all things is near. Therefore be alert and of sober mind so that you may pray. Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling. Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms. If anyone speaks, they should do so as one who speaks the very words of God. If anyone serves, they should do so with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen." --1 Peter 4:7-11

I find it interesting that as Peter admonishes the Church to "offer hospitality without grumbling" at the same time he speaks of the end times ministries. Hospitality is a lost art that must be refound in the homes and heart of godly women. 

We live in a society that tells us it's okay to get away with being greedy and selfish with our resources, because... well, sometimes, we just don't have enough of them to merit the sharing.  If that isn't upside-down and topsy turvy from the Kingdom of God, then I don't know what is. 

And I understand the worry.  I won't partner with it, but I can understand it.  Living frugally (for us) often times means that our grocery list (and budget!) is quite limited and will often reach for just the four of us.  Add an extra five to six people coming to visit us weekly on Wednesdays and our faith is now stretched.

But, here's the beautiful part of this entire hospitality journey.  I find that in giving my humble loaf of bread and two fish, the Christ who called me to minister hospitality multiplies the offering and there is never any lack. Our family has discovered that if we give in our need, He is faithful and has never left us forsaken.  We have ministered out of our home in hospitality at least once a week and our family has never gone hungry.  Through high times (two income budgets for example!) to the lowest of the lowest times (had a family of 6 staying here with us on an empty pantry and empty pocket!). 

My God is a good God who loves to give good gifts.  And the more I give, the more I become like Him.  Scripture is clear in instructing us to practice hospitality.  It is also clear in showing us how Faithful, Good and what a wonderful Provider He is!

Now, it's time to put that to the test... Who will you practice hospitality to in your home this week?
*This post is linked up with Titus2esdays and Homemaking Wednesday

Saturday, July 9, 2011

that cheerful giver

"Each one must do as he purposed in his heart, not grudgingly or under compulsion for God loves a cheerful giver." --2 Corinthians 9:7

This is one of those difficult Scriptures.  

You know, the ones that pierce right through the heart of man, causing a brief extended moment of reflection and soul searching. 

But, unfortunately, it has become a Scripture tied to mostly financial giving.  American Churches have branded this Scripture, "Yepp see, God loves a cheerful giver, so write me a nice check and do so happily.  Because God will bless you if you bless me."

I'm sorry.  I hope you see right through me and know that I am not judging.  Certainly not trying to, just wanting to bring light to a Scripture that means more than dollar signs and financial donations

I have purposed in my heart to be a homemaker.  
I have purposed in my heart to be Caleb's wife. 
I have purposed in my heart to be Daniella and Aaliya's mommy. 
I have purposed in my heart... 

And in this crazy, twisted, amazing life I live I try really hard to be a cheerful giver.  I want to be cheerful in my giving to my children and to my husband.  I want to be a cheerful giver to those I welcome into our home.  

I want to joyfully serve. 

But truthfully, it doesn't always happen.  When the rubber meets the road, I tend to lose it. A lot.  I often wonder if I chose this life "under compulsion" and such thinking often leads to that awful "grudgingly" attitude.  

So, once again it goes back to that whole "His grace is sufficient for me" (Phil. 4:9) truth.  

I purposed in my heart to be a homemaker because He has given me His grace to do so. 
I purposed in my heart to be Caleb's wife because He has given me His grace to do so. 
I purposed in my heart to be Daniella and Aaliya's mommy because He has given me His grace to do so. 
He has purposed to give me His heart, so He joyfully gives to me. 

How often I forget in my journey that He has placed the fullness of His kingdom within me and so with that, I already have everything inside of me to be a godly, wise and perfect wife, mom and homemaker.  Because of who He is inside of me, I have already attained that Proverbs 31 woman status.  He sees the fullness of His Son within me, so I am perfect in His eyes and I have been given every tool under Heaven to cheerfully give, abundantly give and perfectly give, serve and love my family and those He entrusts to our path. 

"I pray that out of His glorious he may strenghten you with power through His Spirit in your inner man, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and grounded in love may have power together, with all His Holy people to know how wide, how long, and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge-- that you may be filled to the fullness of God." (Eph 3:16-17)

Friday, July 8, 2011

an encouragement for Moms

A few days ago, I was sitting, trying hard to press through my headache and those thoughts of giving up on EVERYTHING, pondering to my self that this homemaker/mothering/wife business is surely way to much for me, and this journey is way too rigorous. Although in the end we wont give up, the fight still remains. I know we can all relate with the feeling of weariness, and heaviness.


I am so thankful for the faithfulness of the Lord, He is always true to His word, and devoted to His beloved ones.

Sitting there, in a very very messy kitchen, during my lowest point, God met me! He spoke to me the simplest things. Things I've heard before.


It hit my heart this time and I knew that I was to share it with other mommas. I pray that it encourages and blesses your heart.

"You are not alone, I am with you. I am the lifter of your head and I will carry you in your weariness & sustain you when you feel you cant stand. You do not need to run the this journey of motherhood on your own strength because my strength is made perfect in your weakness and my grace is more then enough. You may feel you haven't reached perfection in your homemaking skills, in your raising children skills, or even if your wife skills, but in my eyes YOU HAVE. When I look at you, I see a faithful & diligent woman."

As I was feeling this, I saw a picture of Jesus, as a strong built man, lifting me up, moving my hands and feet for me. He was carrying me around my house, as if he was helping me get all that I needed to get done, He was laboring WITH me, NEXT to me.

He is saying; "I AM strength. I AM grace. I AM mercy, just REST, REST, REST in ME!"

The ever so faithfulness, of the Lord, is what keep us going, and O how faithful He is!

Melany blogs over at Beauty of Motherhood! =)
"My, name is Melany Reyes, I am the wife to a wonderful man named Moises, whom I have been married to for 4yrs. I am also the very proud momma to two amazing babies. My oldest baby, Grace Anna is going to be two in August and my youngest, Joshua Elias is 6 months. I am currently a proud homemaker & stay at home mom, living in KC MO. My desire is to see and view my family through the eyes of Jesus, and to share what He reveals to me with other Jesus-loving mommies everywhere!"

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

A working mother is a guilty mother

Kayleigh just turned three months old this past weekend. Most mothers who have decided to return to work do so around this time. However, I chose to return to work just six short weeks after Kayleigh was born. It's amazing to me the judgement that mother's receive from one another about the choices we make regarding our children. One would think that having experienced similar journeys that women would be more apt to band together versus tear each other down. I am not saying that every woman who has ever been a mother is this way. It's not the case, in fact, I have been lucky to find several women who band together in such the opposite way. Unfortunately, the negative tends to make more of an impact on us than positive. Needless to say, in returning to work, and working with clients on a day to day basis, I fell under a great deal of scrutiny for this decision. As if, my own self-inflicted guilt and punishment was not enough, right?

The good news? Here I sit, some 6 weeks later, confident in my decision still and ever loved by my daughter and husband. I think it's important to remember that there are no guidelines when making choices for your children and family. You are the only one who is qualified to do so and who knows what is best for you and your family. I prayed over this decision before I committed to it and I've needed to pray over it for strength on many occasions; and every time, I feel reassured I've made the right decision. I can go into all the reasons I made this decision, but then I fall into a desperate need for rationalization. So rather than the reasons for why, let me share with you the many things I find reassuring.

  • The best part of my day is when I step out of those office doors and know I am on my way to get my daughter. It does not matter the kind of day I had, when I sit down in my car and turn the key to ignition, a sense of joy washes over me knowing I will soon see her smiling face.

  • As worried as I was about Daycare, Kayleigh receives all the love and attention from her teachers that I had ever hoped for. Her teachers have nothing but good things to say about her. When I show up unannounced, early, or late, she is always being cared for and receiving attention when. Her milestones are as important to them as they are to me and are constantly being celebrated.

  • She is building relationships even at this young age. When I walk into that room and other babies are present she is interacting with other children. There was another child leaning on a bouncy chair Kayleigh was in just today in fact. She was helping Kayleigh bounce that seat all the while the two were cooing and gaaing at one another. It melts my heart. The teachers feel the need to say hello and goodbye every day and get their own special recognition smile from her as well.

  • As much as I always thought she would forget me, going from 24/7 of my care and supervision, to spending 40+ hours away with strangers, I was wrong. She immediately smiles when she realizes I am there to pick her up and she clings to my arms, now that she can, when I go to drop her off. I'm still the only one who gets that specific, "I love you mommy" grin. And sometimes, in the evenings, when we think she's inconsolable, she just wants to cuddle with her mommy.

It's not been an easy decision to make or stick to, but I am a firm believer that when you are on the right path, it is made clear to you. I have amazing friends and family who have reached out to support me and offer encouragement when I do struggle. My time with Kayleigh is all that more precious too. Because it is not so abundant, I find I go out of my way more to play with her, read to her, teach her, sing to her, just be with her more and more. It's made me a better Mother and more appreciative of her. Which, by the way, I thought was impossible. If you are facing a decision like this, I implore you to pray over it and seek knowledge and refuge in His word.

I have heard mention of people picking a life verse. Although this is something I have not truly or "officially" done, below is Proverbs 31, which is probably the closest thing to a life verse that I have and is something I revisit almost daily. It works for me; find something that works for you, borrow this, what ever you can do to find an answer. Some women may read over it and be intimidated by the perfect woman described. I personally find hope in this message. It would be difficult to always exhibit all of these things and I think it's important to remember that God does not expect us to. Instead remember that what he expects of us is that we yield ourselves unto Him and stay true to that journey whether it calls us away or calls us home.

"A wife of noble character who can find? She is worth far more than rubies. Her husband has full confidence in her and lacks nothing of value. She brings him good, not harm, all the days of her life. She selects wool and flax and works with eager hands. She is like the merchant ships, bringing food from afar. She gets up while it is still dark; she provides food for her family and portions for her servant girls. She considers a field and buys it; out of her earnings she plants a vineyard. She sets about her work vigorously; her arms are strong for her tasks. She sees that her trading is profitable, and her lamp does not go out at night. In her hand she holds the distaff and grasps the spindle with her fingers. She opens her arms to the poor and extends her hands to the needy. When it snows, she has no fear for her household; for all of them are clothed in scarlet. She makes coverings for her bed; she is clothed in fine linen and purple. Her husband is respected at the city gate where he takes his seat among the elders of the land. She makes linen garments and sells them and supplies the merchants with sashes. She is clothed with strength and dignity; she can laugh at the days to come. She speaks with wisdom and faithful instruction is on her tongue. She watches over the affairs of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness. Her children arise and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her. "Many women do noble things, but you surpass them all." Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised. Give her the reward she has earned, and let her works bring her praise at the city gate."

So much can be read into this passage, but it's really about what you take away from it. I am often faced with a faltering need to reassure myself that I am on the right path. I often feel overwhelmed with my obligations and commitments. I often feel as though I just need one night or day of rest. The job, though, is never done. When I read this passage, I find hope. I see a woman to who's character I wish to live up to. I hope only to be able to provide for my family the way she had for hers. I hope only to receive the love and praise of my husband and daughter, the way her family has honored her. I find reassurance in my decision to work away from my home during the day so that I can provide for my home at all times.

It's not been an easy decision, and unfortunately, it has not gotten easier. There are good days and bad. There are pros and cons. In the end though, I know I am doing what is right for my family. If this is a decision you have struggled with or already committed to, I hope you too can be so blessed to find comfort and guidance in His word and with the love of friends and family, as I have.

Genevieve blogs over at In My Daughter's Eyes.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Just give me five more minutes! PLEASE!

How many of us have used this phrase a million times a day? I have and still do!

It's not just five minutes, sometimes I wish I could add more hours to a day. It's been said "good personal time management skills are essential for a happy, successful career". Entering into motherhood changes our whole world. Nothing can truly prepare you for the sleepless nights, the consuming cries of a child, chores pilling up, and in top of your hormonal body, trying to find intimacy time with your spouse.

I remember when I had my first born I cried the whole first year. I totally failed when it came to keeping a house cleaned, cooking an edible meal, and keeping up with myself so that I didn't scare anyone off. I would improve little by little but I wasn't happy with what I was giving my children, husband, especially myself.

At the end of every year everyone has a new year's resolution. Some people set a goal to loose weight, buy a house, be debt free, get married, have a baby. But nope not me! The word that first popped into my head was..."Determination". Do you have any idea how many times I’ve set goals? Yes I'm going to do this and that and then I start, I give it a week, and I've quit by then. Then I get so upset at myself at the fact that I started something to not finish it and my excuse as always been "I just don't have the time".

While reading the word of God one morning I came across this passage, Philippians 1:6."Being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus". I understood that I was created in God's image being fully capable of starting something and finishing it as God is doing in our lives. I was determined to make the time for everything I had to accomplish in one day. I'm going to share with you a few things I did that made my life so much better and happier boosting my confidence, as a mother, wife and homemaker.

Preparing a To-Do List
You can use to-do lists in different ways in different situations; whatever role you have, either a stay-at-home or a working parent.

A good way to motivate yourself is to keep your to-do list relatively short, and aim to complete it every day. Remember to carry out only necessary tasks.

Tackle the most important jobs first, and don't waste time on little things. Don't get stressed by a large number of unimportant jobs. There are 7 days a week so make sure to prioritize your tasks and have fun with it.

Before you go to sleep do your to-do list for the next day. Write down chores you would like to get done and make sure to include activities for your kids to do. If you’re going out shopping take a list of the things you want/need to buy and give yourself a specific time to be out so you won’t be rushing home to cook dinner and get kids ready for bed.

Everyday doesn’t have to be about chores, plan a fun day out for yourself or your kids.

Organization is a Must!
American inventor Thomas Edison once said "Time is really the only capital any human being has, and the one thing he can't afford to waste."
Organizational skills are important for day after day life because they will assist in planning correctly the actual tasks that need to be completed. After preparing your to-do list, write down a time schedule in which each task will be completed.

Plan every hour of the day the night before starting from the moment you wake up and that should be as early as possible. I get up at 6am to start my day with prayer, working out and getting ready before my kids wake up which is by 8am, after that time my day is planned with specific chores, activities and me time. Everyday is a different schedule depending on the things I have planned.

It will take a while to get used to a daily routine but I promise you it will all flow naturally by a month’s time. This may not always work when you or the kids are sick or something unexpected comes up, but 80% of the time it will work allowing you to be in control of your time, day and children. I normally place my paper in the fridge where I can go back to it as a reminder of what to do next. Try to change the time used to watch TV, go on the internet and even texting. They are all distractions that can consume so much of our time. Remember to give yourself a time slot to relax. A happy wife makes a happy home.

God made a season and a time for everything but it is our job to plan out our lives. God in the beginning had a 7 day To-Do List for all creation. He had a goal, set a daily plan, and did an amazing job at accomplishing it and so can we! Nothing in life is easy but you can do all things through Jesus Christ who strengthens you!

Sheila is a wife and a mommy of three beautiful little girls.

"I know what it is to lose a husband in a car accident while pregnant. Then to later marry again, go through a divorce but also be able to experience God’s restoration in my marriage after a 3 year separation. God is a good God and everything He does is perfect! I am also a stay-at-home mommy who homeschools. My children make me a better mother everyday and my husband a better wife. I love the life God has chosen for me and will continue to serve God and my family well until the return of Jesus Christ.”

A celebration is going on around here!

We finally made it to 100 posts! Chronicles of a Stay at Home Mom stayed a float for 100 (and some-odd) posts!

Blogging has been a wonderful experience full of ups, downs, and growing in love, servanthood and friendships.

So, to celebrate I invited some of my favorite Mommy-bloggers to come and share their hearts. Some said yes and could, others couldn't and still others I didn't dare to ask because of busyness, intimidation and such other issues.

So, stay tuned because we start our beautiful line-up tomorrow morning!

Lavender Pancakes Recipe

Having Caleb home yesterday was such a sweet treat! Even though we didn't celebrate Independence Day in an outstanding way, it was so sweet to see Aaliya spending time with her Daddy all day long.

So, yesterday for brunch (I got to spend a little *extra* time with Jesus yesterday, PTL!) I decided to make pancakes and Caleb's favorite shake. And then, I decided to get adventurous. And the result was pretty yummy lavender pancakes! I love baking with lavender! It is such a yummy herb to eat and to sniff. Anytime I cook/bake with it, my home is automatically naturally aromatized! :)

Since I like ya'll so much, I decided to share the recipe!

Lavender Pancakes
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon white sugar
1 1/4 cups milk
1 egg
3 tablespoons butter, melted
1 tbls of lavender buds
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
(You can also use pancake mix if you so choose to-- it's just as yummy!)

1.In a large bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, salt and sugar. Make a well in the center and pour in the milk, egg, melted butter, vanilla and lavender; mix until smooth.

2.Heat a lightly oiled griddle or frying pan over medium high heat. Pour or scoop the batter onto the griddle, using approximately 1/4 cup for each pancake. Brown on both sides and serve hot.

Voila! Enjoy!

*This post is linked with Titus2esday!

Friday, July 1, 2011

the home as priority

The 2011 Orlando Salsa Congress is this weekend. And I'm going.

Now, before you get all excited and get the crazy idea that I'm doing anything remotely cool, slow down and know that I get to be nothing more than the boring bracelet checker (aka "bouncer" haha!). Yep, nothing exciting. Just one of the behind the scenes volunteers.

When I said yes to this opportunity, I was so excited (and I still am!). Salsa has become a pretty neat part of my week and I was excited to be able to be around it for a while on Saturday.

But then, on Monday I went out. On Wednesday I was out unexpectedly two hours during the evening/afternoon (after Husband got home), and then we had people over. And then Thursday, we also had company over. And now, I'll be gone for four-ish hours on Saturday.

None of these things are wrong or bad things. A lot of them are necessary (aka Monday's Girls' Night!) and some of them we consider fellowship and ministry nights (aka Wednesday's gathering of the young adults! [yes, we watch SYTYC, but we fellowship, we break bread and we talk about Jesus together... That counts!]).

But in our culture, the opportunities are plenty and entirely too available for me to become "busy" and forget the ministry I have at home. Once again, our society is just topsy-turvy when it comes to the commandments Christ has given women (and in general, really) in their ministry and their roles.

And I want to live quite literally in the inside, outside, upside down way of the Kingdom of God. I want to continually set my face before my King, in my home with my family. Not that any of the activities that I'm involved in this week are bad. They're not. And this was a "different" kind of week so to speak. I just desire to carry Titus 2 in my heart and I want those words and those commands to carry over into every day life.

As mothers and wives, we should always consider the home as our greatest ministry (besides the secret place to Christ) and our greatest priority and then everything else trickles down. We should consider just how many family dinners we have or will miss, how many nights Daddy tucked in the littles to bed alone and how much (or little) time our husbands will spend with us throughout the week before saying yes to any outside activity.

It isn't that we shouldn't do them. It's just that it isn't about us. It's about Christ and our love for them. And sometimes, no often times... that means death to ourselves. It's countercultural and "unnatural." Yeah, I know. But if our priorities are in the right place, we'll never run dry and our tanks will never be on empty.

I want to learn that. I want to get there. I want live out His commandments, so that the Word of God will not be dishonored. (Titus 2:4-7)