Saturday, April 2, 2016

Unstuffed, The Beginning

This post is written as part of the Unstuffed Blog Tour, which I am excited to be a part of along with many other inspiring bloggers. To learn more about the blog tour and join us, click HERE.

I have the amazing honor of being chosen to be on the launch team for Unstuffed by Ruth Soukup! Now you have to understand that I am never picked for anything. So when I decided to put my name in the hat to be chosen, I expected an email saying "You weren't chosen. Good luck next time!" When I got the email saying that I had been chosen, I knew it was all God's doing. God knew that I needed some "unstuffing" in my life and it came at the perfect time. Jeff and I had been talking about going through our stuff and getting rid of a lot. We have been in our house for 10 months and I still can't find a place for everything. I thought moving into a bigger house would allow for all of our stuff but I was wrong. Ruth said it better than I ever could:

Where in the world did it all come from??????

Ok, let's be honest. I know that answer... family and my hoarding. I didn't want to admit it, even though my husband is constantly telling me that I am a hoarder. But now it is being passed on to my children and that is unacceptable! Callee can't stand to get rid of anything. She gets upset when I throw away her old homework papers. Seriously!?!?!?! She has so many toys that she doesn't even know what to play with. She is constantly asking me what to play with. She doesn't really enjoy playing in her room because she is surrounded by too many things. I know that is mainly my fault. I want to keep all her toys for Lexi. Ok that's not 100% true.... I've attached memories to all Callee's old toys and I don't want to throw those memories away. Now I'm learning that I'm not throwing those memories away. I'm just getting rid of the toys but that is a difficult concept for me. For example, Callee has way too many My Little Ponies and  their accessories. However, I don't want to get rid of them because when I look at them, I see her at the age of 3 playing in "Ponyville." I also see myself when I was little because I loved My Little Pony! It's hard to get rid of something that brings back precious memories.

Ruth's book was a definite wake-up call. I've only made it through the first few chapters and I already have a game plan for "unstuffing" our house. I don't want to pass my bad habit down to my girls. I want them to enjoy their toys, instead of being so overwhelmed they can't. The month of April is going to be our "unstuffing" month. Today is the beginning of a long and difficult process for our family but it needs to be done. Next week I'll let you know how this 1st weekend of unstuffing went but for now, I should get to work on my girls' rooms!

Pray for me during this process because I know that only God can get me through this!

"No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it."  1 Corinthians 10:13

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Halfway Across the World

It has been 5 years since a tragedy hit half way across the world. 5 years since I thought I was going to be a single parent. It was the scariest thing I had ever been through and thinking about it now makes me shake. Even though I know the outcome and God's amazing timing, tears still creep into my eyes when I think about that day. Writing this is tough but it reminds me how amazing God is.

Jeff was on deployment in Japan. He had been there for about 7 months but was beginning his journey home. I spoke with him the night before and he said they were to fly to Tokyo and catch a flight to California the next morning. I went to bed as I normally do but my morning was anything but normal. My phone began going off around 5:30 am, if I remember correctly. Text messages asking if Jeff was ok and if I had talk to him recently. I was so confused until I got a phone call from a family member. I honestly don't remember who it was because their question was what stuck out to me.

"Is Jeff alive?"

When I asked why they would ask such a question, they told me to turn on CNN. By this point, I knew, in my gut, that something was terribly wrong. When I finally got to CNN and saw what was going on, I nearly lost it. An 9.0 earthquake had occurred and sent a tsunami straight to Japan. It hit Toyko the worst. I couldn't take my eyes off the TV screen. All I could do was pray. I just wanted him to be alive and ok. Of course, I had no way to reach him because his phone was off because they were traveling. I stood in shock.

I was quickly brought back to reality when I hear Callee talking over the baby monitor. I had to pretend everything was fine because she was only 16 months old. She wouldn't understand any of it. I turned on cartoons so she wouldn't have to watch the devastation they were showing in Japan. I acted as normal as I could, praying the entire time that he was ok and he was coming home to us. I knew I could be a single parent but my whole life would change. How could I live without him? How could Callee grow up without a dad? Why would God take him from us?

I spent the morning relaxing and playing with Callee while fielding phone calls and texts from everyone who saw the news. Several people would say that the news was reporting that all US military personnel was accounted for and that I shouldn't be worried. I had to tell them that wasn't saying that all those personnel were alive. They would tell the families of a death before blasting it on the news. It was difficult for me because I wanted to rely on God to keep Jeff safe but I wanted to question God's timing on this entire ordeal. WHY? WHY? WHY?

I forced myself to get ready and head to Tyler to visit my aunt in the hospital. It was roughly an hour drive and I prayed the entire time. About 5 minutes from the hospital, I received a text message from a number I didn't recognize. Since I didn't (and still don't) text and drive, I waited until I parked. When I read that message, I burst out crying! It was from another Marine's wife stating that Jeff was alive and ok! She had heard from her husband and they relayed a message to me because Jeff knew I was going crazy worrying about him. I felt instant peace that I know only God could provide!

I was able to talk to him later that day to verify that he was, in fact, alive and fine. His travel plans had changed at the last minute but he wasn't able to let me know of the changes. Instead of Tokyo, he was sitting on an island, enjoying the beach without a care in the world. Typical Jeff.

Looking back on that day, I know I should have trusted God more. I should have put the entire ordeal in His hands from the very beginning. I was too stubborn and worried more about me than anything else. God reminded me that He has control over everything. He knows what's going to happen before it ever does. He kept Jeff safe because He had bigger plans for him. A lot has happened in 5 years, including several moves, a new house, and a new daughter. None of that would have been possible without Jeff. God knew what He was doing but I couldn't see the bigger picture. I'm glad I get to do life with Jeff by my side because I don't know what I would do without him. I don't know what I would do without God by my side either!

"So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand." Isaiah 41:10

Friday, March 11, 2016

Thinking About Shadows

Wow! It's been several months since I wrote on here. A lot has happened since October, including several major holidays and birthdays, including mine! I even started a post in January but never finished it. I would say "That's the story of my life. Never finishing anything." but everybody's lives are busy. I often miss milestones because I'm too busy focusing on something else. I'm shining in certain areas while casting shadows in others.
c/o Flash of White Photography

Now, I cannot and will not take credit for that. Ruth Soukup, author of Living Well Spending Less, recently brought that to my attention. I received my weekly subscription email from her and that idea really resonated with me. As a mom, I thought I was supposed to be SuperMom, able to do everything. However, I'm realizing that is not possible. After reading Ruth's email, I began to think back over the past few months and really look at what I was shining on and what I was casting a shadow on. Here is what I came up with...

The months leading up to Christmas was strictly focused on work. I work in the accounting business so the end of the year is a big deal for us. Now don't get me wrong, I was focusing on my family but the majority of my light was on work. I was working 9 hour days, stressing about how the company would look financially at the end of the year. I was also working long hours to make sure we would have enough money to buy the girls all the presents they wanted. We were also taking a family vacation so I had to make sure my job was ready for me to leave and would be able to survive while I was gone. I was tired a lot and didn't really enjoy spending time with my family. I even missed spending time with my brother and his family when they came in for Christmas. Work consumed my life and my light.

Then the New Year was here! My New Year's Resolution was to be nicer and have a better attitude.... I wonder why. :-) With that thought in mind, I decided it was time to change my perspective. I did not, in any way, do this on my own. God was pushing at me like nothing I had ever felt before. He was changing me in ways that I couldn't see at the time. He made me realize that my family comes before my job. I was scared to make that adjustment but looking back now, I'm so glad I did. I started working normal hours, with the occasional long hours at the end of the month (gotta love accounting). I was happy and relaxed. God showed me that my light was needed at home and not at work. I couldn't see why, at the time but God didn't take long to turn our lives 90 degrees.

My husband, Jeff, transitioned jobs. While this is normal in our lives, this job requires travel especially in the beginning. I've dealt with travel. I am a Marine's wife. But that was 5 years and 1 kid less ago! I got used to having him around to help. Now he was going to be gone roughly 15 out of the next 30 days. I was not prepared! God, of course, knew all this was coming so He had prepared me, even though I didn't fully know it. We are half way through this transition period, and its going better than I expected. I'm learning that my girls need me more when their daddy is gone so I'm enjoying the extra attention, a little. I do have help so I'm not in this 100% alone. We will make it and I'm not worried now.

God is amazing! He knows what we will go through and He will prepare us for it. He never ceases to amaze me and He shouldn't. As Ephesians 3:20 says,
       "Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us"

He is working in me and preparing me for what He has planned and guess what.... I CAN'T EVEN IMAGINE WHAT IT IS!!!! He changes me and my light for His purposes in my life. God is amazing and I love it when I fully remember that.