Sunday, August 21, 2016

They are teaching me

Well here we are.  Another Summer has come and gone and the kids are about to head back to school.  Christian will be sophomore and the infamous Bo will brave middle school for the first time.
I looked at a picture of Bo the other day and realized just how much more mature he is looking.  With Christian, I embraced everything as being the first time.  I still get emotional with a lot of his first moments.  But here I have my baby boy about to enter the years where some of the biggest changes happen and I feel like I am not prepared because I haven't really taken the time to ponder on such things.

Bo will go in ready to take the bull by the horns.  He loves school.  He loves being around his friends.  He is definitely a social butterfly.  Christian, however, could skip school and just play sports.  He does well in school but honestly he would be fine never having to go another day of school in his life.  I have two totally opposite kids.  Because they are opposite, I find myself as a mother having to embrace different things.  I have to learn to be open to new things because each one of my boys takes us on a different path.

As you can imagine in a house full of boys, I feel like I am in a battle of testosterone at all times.  Everything is a bet, a dare, or a competition.  Christian and Bo both have their strengths and their weaknesses.  At one time I am telling Christian to quit picking on his younger brother and teasing him.  Then I am telling Bo to "man up" and how he needs to come to terms with the fact that he is the younger brother.  Dad was a younger brother and that is just the way life is so learn to deal with it.  Tough love by mom, huh?  Mommin' ain't easy!  I have to be tough.  If the boys sense fear in me, they might attack.  So though I may be an emotional mess at times, I have to keep it together for the sake of my survival.

I do have to say that I am ready for them to go back to school so they can get a break from each other.  Let's face it, school really is good for them too.  They learn many things and it is good for them to be around others their age.  They need to learn to deal with some of life's curve balls.  They need some day to day discipline.  They need to exercise their brains.  With the start of a new school season, I try to reflect on how we have grown as a family and individually over the Summer.

This Summer was a bit different for us.  You see we are a sports family.  We spend our Summers playing sports.  No one will ever convince me that sports is a bad thing.  Maybe the obsession with it can be bad, but not the love of the game and the will to play.  So this Summer we played sports as usual.  We had an opportunity to play a lot between the two boys being active in something.  But you see something else was stirring in Christian's heart and even Bo's.  Christian hit me up with going on our church's mission trip to Guatemala.  Me, being the overly spiritual mom I am, asked him if he really wanted to give up a week of sports for this trip.  Though I know deep down, there is a God sized dream in this young man's heart, I second guessed it.  What if you miss out on practice?  What if your team makes it to the championship and you are already committed to the trip?  A lot of what if's coming from a mom who has prayed God's word over this boy since before he was born.  Why in the world would I have even questioned this?  Maybe because I am more attached to the things of this world than I thought.  Christian looked at me and said "Mom, I want to go.  This will be good for me."  So there you go.  I couldn't argue with that truth bomb.  Bo also got to go to youth camp for the first time.  So now both boys were missing two weeks out of their sports.  I can tell you that what both of my boys gained in those times was more than I could have ever taught them.  They came back revived, refreshed and restored.  They came back with a lot of fire.

My hesitation made me question so many things about myself as a mother.  I can say some mighty prayers when it comes to my boys.  I have spoken so many things over their lives.  I have asked God for my kids to know Him personally and to seek out a relationship with Him.  Yet when they started doing that, here I am with the road block.  Though I wasn't intentionally trying to stop them, I was praying one thing and saying another.  This is when everything I had ever prayed over my boys began to resurface in my mind.  It was a reality check.  It was God saying "Hope I have heard your prayers for your boys.  Don't worry, I've got them."  My boys were teaching me to let go of things you think are important and focus on the eternal things that truly matter.  The scripture that says "better is one day in your courts than a thousand elsewhere" is so true. Their footsteps are ordered by the One who will never lead them down the wrong path.  Though I have thoughts of where I see them going to college, what sports they should play, what teachers they should have, what career they should pursue, the Lord's plans for them are much better.

I have control issues at times for sure.  I can admit that.  So naturally I want to control things in my kid's lives.  I am having to learn to give up some of that control because the two young men I have prayed for so much have proven to be doing ok without me on a lot of things.  It's like letting go of their hand the first day of Kindergarten.  It's like watching them in their first performance, knowing that even though you helped them practice every night, it is still all in their hands.  It's like letting them get behind the wheel to drive for the first time and then blinking and they are driving off to college.

Heck, I have so many flaws as a mom.  I say many things on one hand and act in a totally different way.  Just when I think I have the mom thing down, another life lesson slaps me in the face.  Just when I think I am teaching my boys how to be men, they are teaching me to be a better mom.  Their love for God inspires me right now.  As they start another school year, I pray that they continue seeking God first.  God is obviously a better parent than I am but He did choose me to be the mother of Christian and Bo.  One day I hope they thank God for me as I have thanked God for them.

I hope I have taught them a few things along the way...
Seek God first
Know how to talk to God
Love your family and keep the family circle
Be leaders
Look out for the little man
Work hard, stay humble
Learn to take criticism
Respect Girls
When you find a girl, try to make sure she likes your family
Say thank you
Own what you like to do whether it is band, choir, sports, academics
Strive to win but don't be a sore loser
Congratulate your friends on their successes
Surround yourself with good people because iron sharpens iron

Sunday, January 31, 2016

It's Just A Game

In our day to day lives, in the sports world, I often hear the phrase "it's just a game."  In fact, I catch myself saying that as well.  When tempers flare up or I see someone stressing, it is absolutely the right thing to say.  It is just a game.  It is just a test.  It is just a spelling bee.  It is just a performance.  You get the point.

Here is what I can say to that.  Yes it is just a game and there is no need to measure your whole self worth based on the outcome of that game.  But every time one of my children goes out to compete for something, I feel like my heart leaps outside of my chest and takes the field with them.  It is just a game but I know how much they have prepared.  I know how much they want to win.  I know how badly they want to do their best.

It is just a game but all eyes are watching.  The crowd is rooting for you before the first play happens.  But your mom is on the sidelines with butterflies in her stomach because she knows this means a lot to you.  She is full of pride when she gets that first look of you in your uniform.  She is proud because you had the courage to just get out there.  You make a good play and the crowd cheers.  Depending on your mom's personality she may jump up and scream with excitement.  Or she may just nod an atta boy at you.  Then you make a bad play.  You throw an interception, miss a tackle, or forget your lines. The crowd can be forgiving or down right mad.  And then there is your mom.  She may get mad.  She puts her head down and cringes because she knows you are already tough on yourself.  She feels your disappointment and the crowd's.  She feels the tension.  She feels every move you make.  She knows you have to keep going.  So she prays for you to pick yourself up and to muster enough strength to finish.

You may even get hurt at times.  She will feel like someone kicked her in the stomach.  She may tell you to suck it up even though she is hurting for you.  But she will also be the one to pray over you.  She will make sure you get well and she will pray some intense prayers to God.  She also knows that God has a plan for you and that your worth is not based on your performance.  She sees into your future and knows that this is just one competition, one game.  You will have plenty more in your life.  She will be there for every one she can be.  She prays that she doesn't miss a moment.

As a mom, I know these feelings all too well.  I have said many times, especially when emotions get out of control that it is just a game.  But I feel like my whole world steps out onto that field.  I will never forget when Christian was young and still playing baseball how I would have to walk away when he pitched.  I couldn't handle the pressure.  I couldn't handle knowing the ball was in his hands and he was either going to walk a batter or strike him out.  One game he hit a kid.  This particular kid wore glasses and stepped into the plate rather than away from it.  The ball hit his helmet and caused his glasses to cut his eye.  There was blood everywhere.  Naturally, the kid's mom screams and runs to her son.  Christian sat and watched and I knew he felt terrible.  As his momma, I knew he was done for the game.  But Coach kept him in.  I sat and watched him walk batter after batter after that.  The coach still kept him in.  I wanted to crawl in a hole because I felt every emotion.  Part of me wanted to yell at the coach and say take him out.  But I sat there and endured the downward spiral.  After the game, there I was along with Dad telling him to keep his head up.  Now looking back, I realize that was just one game and he would have many more games to play in his lifetime.  That game is just one part of many memories that have been made over the years.

Yesterday was UIL competition day for Bo.  This is the first year he has competed in such an event.  I watched him prepare for months. The night before the event his stomach began to hurt.  He was in tears and you could tell he didn't feel himself.  We prayed together.  I reminded him how he can continue to pray on his own and how it isn't selfish to pray for yourself.  He finally went to bed.  When he woke up that morning he still wasn't well.  I offered for him to back out and he said no with more tears in his eyes.  He told me he wanted to go.  So off we went to the school.  When we got there he was still in tears.  One of the teachers reassured him it would be fine if he wasn't able to compete.  I even offered to take him so he didn't have to ride the bus and bring him home early.  He got his composure together and told me he was fine and that he was going.  I left in tears.  I knew he had worked hard and wanted to be a part of this competition.  I prayed the whole way home.  Well he made it the whole day.  Then I arrived for the awards ceremony.  The audience waited patiently as they called all the winner's names in each category.  I watched Bo from the other side of the room.  I smiled at how he and his friends cheered loud and proud for their fellow classmates that won in each category.  When it was time for them to announce the top 6 in the category he competed in, he glanced over at me with a smile and a look of hope.  When all names were called, his name was not one of them.  I was disappointed for him but then he gave me the sweetest look.  He smiled at me and shrugged his shoulders like it was alright with him.  Afterwards he told me that he would get it next year.  It was another teachable moment.  You won't always be first and you won't always win.  But strong people get back up and try again.  They also can celebrate in the successes of their friends. Sure my momma's heart wanted his name to be called.  But my love for that boy doesn't change because it wasn't.

I have always said that God teaches me so many life lessons through my children.  God is a parent.  I know he sees every challenge we face.  I think he feels everything we feel.  He knows when we have prepared to step out.  He also knows when maybe we are in a fight that may be bigger than us.  I am sure it breaks His heart when we fall but He extends His hand to get us back on our feet.  He equips us with all we need.  When we humble ourselves, He promotes us just at the right time.  Sometimes we get the trophy and sometimes we don't.  But God knows that we are worth more than any trophy or any participation ribbon.  He tells us to press on.  He is our biggest fan even when everyone else may be against us.  He doesn't love us based on our performance.  His love is unconditional.  We may have blown it on the mound.  But He knows the greatness that is still inside of us.

People always make fun of me because when I watch a professional athlete blow it on the field, I think about his momma.  When all the fans are booing and wanting his head on the chopping block, I know somewhere his momma is sitting in her seat with her heart in her hand.  She still has to love him through it.  She will be the one telling her son that she still loves him and is still his fan.  She will have listen to every negative comment and try to tune it out.  She may even go a little momma bear on some one.  When it is all said and done, she will tell her son to stand tall.  She will tell him that he is worth more than some game.  Because after all, it is just a game, right?

Yes it is just a game.  It is a game that teaches us determination and perseverance.  It is a game that teaches us to work as a team, to put our heart out there for others.  It is a game that teaches us passion.  It is a game that teaches us adversity and how to overcome injury.  It is a game that sometimes lets us stand on the platform of victory.  And that same game may knock our face in the dirt.  It is a game that is worth playing when God is on your team.
It's just a game.  Yes, you are correct.  As a mom, a piece of my heart just prepared to take the field.  It's just a game and I am here to watch my favorite player.

Saturday, September 19, 2015

From the Back to the Front

Here we are already in the middle of September.  I feel like I haven't been able to catch my breath since school started.  We have entered the school year full force.  High School is constant work.  I am leaving my Freshman early at school almost every other day just to stay on top of the challenging work load he decided to take this year.  I am glad he is challenging himself this year but I am being challenged as well.  Didn't I already make it through 4 years of HS?  My 5th grader loves school and always has.  Bo is quite the socialite so waking him for school is never an issue.  In fact the boy sets his alarm for way earlier than he needs to get up.  He has to make sure he doesn't miss a thing. 

Growing boys mean this mom also has to grow in her patience and understanding.  I am either a nagging mom asking if they have all their stuff put up.  Or I am the best mom because I washed a shirt at 9:00 at night because one forgot they needed it the next morning.  There is no in between.  Some days I get a load of information and other days I am lucky if I get two words from them.  I am always trying to find that fine line of teaching my boys to be sweet, caring, and compassionate and encouraging them to be strong, courageous, and confident at the same time.  Not a day goes by, that I don't question myself as a mom.

I seem to be on the road a lot these days.  There is the everyday commute to work and then the numerous trips down Eagle drive taking my boys to their activities.  And of course there are the random grocery stops for items I forgot to get on my last grocery store visit.  It is on the road where God has really been making some things clear to me.  Now that my boys are often in different places at the same time, only one is with me in the car at a time.  Four days a week Bo is with me on his own.  We have our normal get-to-practice routine.  I get his jug of water ready for practice and carry it to the car while he grabs his cleats, helmet and shoulder pads.  He piles everything into the back seat and buckles up.  Some days he is quiet and other days he talks my ear off.  I am reminded that I am still in control of his life.  I have the steering wheel.  I am the big person in charge in the front seat.  I am steering the direction of his life most days.  He sits back and enjoys the ride trusting that he is safe in that car with me.  He talks and I listen yet I still know that I am the mom and he is the kid.  The downfall to him being in the backseat is that I often find myself tuning him out.  I am easily distracted by what is ahead of me.  I can sometimes forget that he is back there watching what I am doing.  I get lost in the cares of this world.  What am I cooking for dinner?  What errand do I need to run next?  Conviction has overtaken me recently as I find myself asking him to repeat himself because I wasn't paying attention.  Hope, slow down!!!  He will only be in the backseat for a short period of time.  I can only control the direction he goes in for so long.  I need to remind myself that there is a precious boy behind me who one day will be taller than me and old enough to ride in the front seat.  I will no longer look at him through the rear view mirror.  He will be shoulder to shoulder with me soon enough.  Lord help me to embrace these days with my back seat passenger.  I pray that I steer him in the right direction, the direction that leads to you.  Help me to pay attention to every word he says because there is power in the words we speak.  May I never forget how important it is to lead by example and remember who is following behind me.

Every morning I get to take Christian to school.  Man where did the time go?  He was once in that back seat.  But now this young man with a deep voice is sitting right next to me.  Some mornings are easier than others.  Some mornings I get asked for advice and other mornings I am the mom who obviously knows nothing about life.  I mean seriously, those of you know me know that I have been dancing since I was in diapers.  I am not good at a lot of things but I have some skills on the dance floor.  But I was told that I don't do the whip or the nae nae correctly. My dance moves may have been good for my day but things have changed.  Really?  He is lucky I still let him ride in the car.  So here is this teenager fighting for control at times by changing my favorite song on the radio.  Excuse me, but this is my car.  Go back to the backseat!  But no, there he is right next to me.  It is in those moments, that I get to see his profile.  I get to see how handsome he is and how he looks and acts so much like the love of my life.  I still have control of the steering wheel but he constantly interjects with his opinions of my driving.  Mom why are you waving at that car?  Mom why didn't you go?  Mom, why did you say thank you out loud to that driver?  They can't hear you.  You see even though I still have the keys and I am still driving, he now has an opinion.  He is becoming his own person.  He can now see what is ahead.  Sometimes I still find myself putting my arm on top of his chest if I make a hard stop.  When I can see danger ahead I still want to protect him.  I still want to shelter him.  I can only pray that the Lord shows me when to grasp that steering wheel with tight gripped hands and when to let off some slack.  Lord help me to embrace the days where he is right next to me because soon he will be driving.  He will have to see what is ahead and make a judgement call.  I pray that he sometimes asks "What would mom or Dad do?" I pray he knows which ways to turn, when to put on the gas, and when to slow down.  Lord guide his path.

Like many of you, I pray for my kids each day.  I pray for their friends too.  Because I want the kids who surround mine to love God.  I want them to be game changers and leaders.  Psalm 91:11 is a scripture I always pray over them.  I want God to command his angels concerning them.  I want them to be covered from the right to the left and from the back to the front.  I can say some serious momma prayers when it comes to my kids and your kids.  I can't lie though, there are days when I doubt and ask for forgiveness for it too.  It seemed the more I prayed for others the more bad things kept happening to my own kid.  We had our year of injury last year with Christian having to have pinky surgery.  We got through that and I was thankful for life lessons we learned through that time.  So honestly I thought we would go into this year fresh and totally prepared.  Then the tough schedule kicked us in the rear and three games into football Christian ends up with a mild concussion.  So yes, this prayer warrior momma did what every momma does.  I had a good cry.  Why is it that I can pray faithfully and am confident that God will hear me, yet mine gets knocked down again?  He has to be still and wait again.  Tell me there has to be a reason.  The truth is, I have boys who choose to play sports and injuries happen in sports.  Accidents will happen.  Adversities will come.  But God is God Almighty.  He sees the bigger picture.  He looks through the windshield and sees what is ahead.  He knows when to step on the gas pedal and He knows when the brakes need to be tapped.  I can picture it in my head.  He was there all along.  He saw what was coming and like the scripture says, He gave his angels charge over my son.  As I sat there waiting for my son to get up from the impact, I closed my eyes and prayed.  Some of my friends put their hands on me as a reassurance that I was not alone.  I spoke God's promise that my kids would be taken care of and that Christian would get up.  You see though my fear may overwhelm me, I know that God is peace.  Be still my heart.  There will always be consequences to our choices and sometimes we share in the consequences of others choices.  No matter the situation, I know God equips us with all that we need to get through anything in this life.

I will never understand why certain things happen.  Why does my mom struggle with her health so much?  Why does my friend have to battle cancer?  Why does a mom have to watch her son spend months in a hospital?  Why do innocent people have to die?  My lack of understanding doesn't change who God is.  His path is the one I choose to follow.  I picture the scene from the Grinch movie when the Grinch steals all the toys and is rejoicing in what he thought was his success of destroying the spirit of the Who people.  They were beyond devastated but in a distance the Grinch hears the rising of their Christmas spirit and the song coming from their mouths.  He shouts "They're relentless!"  This is exactly how I feel.  Life will always have its challenges.  Some will knock you down harder than others.  But I will make a joyful noise because the joy of the Lord is my strength.  I will be relentless.  I will keep singing of His love forever and I will continue to teach my kids to sing also.  God is lighting our path.  He has given me all the wisdom I need to be a good driver for my kids.  Whether they are riding in the front or the back, they are covered by one mightier than me.  Lord, thank you for surrounding my kids on all sides.

Here I am to worship

Friday, July 10, 2015

5 Thoughts on a Waterpark

Since Bo was about two years old, we have been going to Schlitterbahn in New Braunfels.  It has become a family tradition of sorts.  We skipped going there the last two years because of other vacations and busy Summers.  Though we enjoyed the other experiences very much, we realized how much we truly missed going to Schlitterbahn.  Maybe taking a break for the last couple of years helped us enjoy our time there even more this year.  This year I walked away with five personally important thoughts.

1.  I don't have a bikini body...
I dread having to go to a water park in a bathing suit.  I know there are many people who go and could care less about what anyone else is saying about their figure.  I wish I was like that.  Unless everything on my body is still in the shape it is suppose to be in and holding up like it is suppose to be, you won't find me in an itsy bitsy bikini.  Thumbs up to the ladies who can still rock them.  It impresses me to see the 40 year old woman still looking beast mode in one and I truly admire their commitment to staying in shape.  I know as you get older keeping the fat off just gets harder.  So when I see someone older who has an extremely fit figure I can't help but applaud them.  But in saying all of that, I know that my kids don't think any less of me.  There I am in my mom bathing suit top with swim shorts to cover my back side and a visor to top it off.  I make some comment about me being fat and Bo sweetly tells me how beautiful I am.  That gives me the confidence to keep walking around in my mom suit.  But it also makes me want to work harder for the better body.  Overall, I want to just be in shape.  I want a healthy heart.  Since I have been working out again, I realized that walking and climbing stairs is much easier.  I want to be healthy so that I can continue to enjoy the waterpark with my kids for many more years to come.  Yes I want the perfect body but I just can't commit to giving up that chocolate candy I love so much.  Did I mention I had ice cream three nights in a row?  Cheers to mom tops, swim shorts and visors!

2.  I still have maternal instincts...
I can honestly say that each year as my boys get older, the waterpark has gotten easier.  When we started Bo was still in a pull up.  Now that both of my boys can ride every ride and can swim with ease, things are much more enjoyable.  Several years ago we had a scare with Bo.  He had learned to swim but wasn't a strong swimmer.  We were at the 3rd park in Schlitterbahn which has a fast flowing river.  He was in a tube and I held on to his tube.  Bryan convinced me to let Bo go and that he would be fine.  So I let go.  I got turned around for a second and Bryan had his eyes solely on Christian.  In a flash we couldn't find Bo.  I don't usually panic but a rush of emotions came over me.  Bryan went around the river and I was frantically swimming towards the entrance of the river.  I finally see Bo and noticed he had jumped out of his tube and was headed towards the entrance so he could get out.  But since he wasn't a strong swimmer and the current was swift, he was going under.  I yelled to a lady to help him and she grabbed him for me.  After chewing him out, I remember being overcome with relief and thankfulness that he was ok.  This year he was fully capable of going without a tube on the same torrent river.  So we let him go around with Christian while Bryan and I took our time going around.  After the first lap, I asked Bryan if he saw them.  He hadn't seen them. So I stopped where I was and waited until they came around in my eye sight.  Something in me, something maternal just comes out.  I wanted to know that Bo was ok.  I knew he had his older brother with him but I wanted to put my eyes on him.  I wasn't moving forward until I knew things were under control.  I can't help but think this is how God is with us.  He lets us go into tough currents at times.  He knows we can swim but His eye never leaves us.  He is watching and if we need help he will be there to lift us up.  He is our Father.  And mothers and fathers always look out for their kids.

3.  There is still a chance you will get burned...
With all of the increase in cases of skin cancer, we know that it is necessary to apply sunscreen.  Christian and I have a brown layer already so we don't normally burn in the sun.  We just keep getting darker.  Bo is light skinned but will get a bronze color in the Summer.  And then there is Bryan. He is the pale one in the family.  We all made sure that we applied sun screen.  Though I have never had a sun burn, I have seen Bryan and Bo both in that state and we didn't want that to happen again.  The first day at the park was overcast so our skin survived with little sun.  The second day the sun was fierce.  We reapplied a few times to ensure we were all protected.  When we got back to the hotel, Bryan knew that he was burned.  Sure enough he was red all over.  He took every precaution to prevent it and yet it still happened.  Did we not re apply often enough?  Did we not use a good brand of sun screen?  Who knows?  Bottom line is he is dealing with a sun burn.  Thank God for Aloe Vera!  As silly as it may seem, I can't help but relate it to life.  Sometimes you can do everything to prepare.  Sometimes you will take every step to make sure things turn out right.  And even though you do what you can you still may get burned.  People will hurt you.  You won't get the promotion or the position you want.  You will be taken advantage of and feel unappreciated.  But again thank God that He can soothe the burn.  He will give you the courage to forgive.  He will open other doors that no one else can.  He will show you how special you are and will encourage you to step out again. The burn is only temporary.  Take time to soothe the burn but then get back out and enjoy the sun again.

4.  Compromise for those you love...
I am so relieved that we are past all of the kiddie park areas.  Yes the little toddlers are so cute in their little diapers and swim suits.  But come on!  How many times can you sit there and watch them go down the same little mushroom slide?  Ok maybe some of you can but I don't have that much patience.  We had done just about every ride in all three parks and were ready to call it a day.  Bo wanted to go and do the little rope obstacle course in one of the small kid areas.  Reluctantly we all went and sat in the 3 ft. deep water and waited for him to have his turn.  He had about five kids in front of him.  It seemed like the line took forever but we all made sure we kept our eye on Bo.  He was checking to see if all three of us were watching.  It was his moment.  It is what he wanted to do.  He is the youngest and he gets pulled everywhere we want to go.  We owed it to him to do what he wanted to do.  So there we all three sat amongst all the little kids waiting for our boy to get his turn.  When he was done we all smiled and complimented him.  His smile was enough for me.  When you love someone, you have to compromise.  It isn't all about you.  What makes them happy?  It may be small to you but it could mean the world to them.  We often get caught up in leading our lives that we forget there is someone there following.  Though they may not complain and follow contently, stop and ask where they want to go.  They may just take you on a journey that you have never been on.  Get a glimpse into their dreams.  See what makes them smile.  Their smile could bless you in so many ways.  A little bit of compromise can lead to a whole lot of blessing.

5.  Embrace the moment...
Bryan and I gave the kids a choice this year of taking one friend each on the trip or just going as a family.  To our surprise they chose for us to just go as a family.  Bryan and I embraced the fact that this may be the last time they like hanging out with just us.  It was so refreshing just having our two boys with us.  We talked, we laughed, and we argued like a family.  We talked about how it won't be like this forever.  Friends and girlfriends will probably tag along at some point.  Don't get me wrong, I love having people with us.  But I cherished the fact that we could still enjoy our time together as a family of four.  My boys actually got along for the most part.  They acted like brothers.  Every ride was a competition.  Who would finish first?  Whose tube could get in front of the other?  I know girls will come a long at some point and that is perfectly fine.  Although I can't imagine Bryan around a girl.  He is way too protective and just looking at all the young girls in their bathing suits at the water park, I am afraid Bryan would want to completely keep her locked up and covered up.  Only time will tell.  I think Bryan and I smiled the whole time because this trip was refreshing.  Our heart is just so full of love for our two boys.  When I sit back and watch them I can see myself and Bryan in them.  Each night we ate dinner we prayed as usual over our meal.  I couldn't help but give thanks to God for giving us this time together.  This is time we won't get back.  All through the park I saw people with phones, go pros and selfie sticks.  Though I thought it would be cool to capture some pictures, I was glad to be able to have the memories embedded in my heart and soul.  Embrace the moment.

You may think it is silly that I got all of this from a waterpark.  But I like learning life lessons through experiences.  I can't help but smile and be thankful that we were able to take time out and enjoy each other with no distractions.  I love seeing God in everything.  I love knowing that He is with us wherever we go.  Now it is back to work and back to schedules.  Bills are still coming in and responsibilities still have to be fulfilled.  For a moment though, we were able to laugh, lay back on a tube, and just enjoy the ride.

"My head is under water but I am breathing fine"

Thank you Lord!

Saturday, February 21, 2015


In my last blog I talked about trying to simplify my life.  So you may be wondering how that is going.  Truth is, I don't know that I have slowed down enough to know if I have simplified things or not.  I have tried not to post as much on social media.  Our Pastor hit on social media a bit in his message.  He was encouraging us to not get caught up in other people's lives.  Sometimes we get a false sense of who people really are because they post what they want you to see.  I try to post mostly positive things and that is truly a direct reflection of who I am.  I definitely don't want people to think my life is perfect though.  Only with God's help am I able to stay grounded in the midst of this crazy world.

My marriage is wonderful but not perfect.  Bryan and I went out on our first date 18 years ago on Valentines Day.  People always told me the first 5 years of marriage would be rough.  But I didn't think those years were all that bad.  We really have grown up together.  I do remember a time when we argued over something stupid and I threatened to leave him.  We were newly married and I thought I would say that to him and he would come running after me and profess his undying love for me.  I remember he looked at me and sternly said "Hope, if you walk out that door don't come back.  I am not going to spend the rest of my life playing games like this.  I am not coming after you."  Somehow I knew he was serious and I stayed.  That was the best thing he could have said in that moment.  We laugh about that argument still till this day.  I have never attempted that threat again.  We have laughed so much throughout our marriage.  We have both cried.  We have both had moments where life has taken a toll.  But neither of us has ever quit giving our all.  I am sure there are times when he wants to get away from me because I am nagging.  And there are times I could hit him.  But there are more days when I look at him and know that my life doesn't work without him.  He is my best friend.  If people ever ask me for marriage advice, I always tell them to put God first, laugh a lot, don't go home crying to momma and don't sweat the small stuff.  My mom told me something that has always stuck with me.  Sometimes you just want to scream because he leaves his underwear or shoes on the floor.  But it is just as easy at times to just pick them up, smile and go on about your business.  I believe life can be hard but loving my husband is easy.

My kids are great but not perfect either.  Christian was the horrible baby.  There were times when I was like please just make this baby stop crying.  He cried at every Christmas performance through his years at daycare.  He ended up going to school without all of that crying mess and has turned out to be an excellent student.  But I remember the time in 3rd grade when he forged our signature because the teacher caught him writing down a word that was in his library book about a female dog.  I was in disbelief but I am not one to assume that my kids won't mess up.  Bryan was working loss prevention at the time and had to interrogate people who were stealing or being dishonest at their job.  So Bryan came home and sat Christian down, and basically interrogated him like a criminal.  Christian finally broke and came clean.  I think there was spanking, grounding and apologizing and a whole lot of crying involved in all of that.  Since then he really hasn't had any other mishaps at school.  Sure we are getting into the teenage years.  Every time I try to tell him something he replies quickly with the "I already know mom" line.  Of course I won't be outdone so I am sure to get the last word every time. 
Bo, on the other hand, was an easy baby but ever so hard to potty train.  He is Mr. Social but that has gotten him in trouble several times.  His teacher last year called me into a conference and spent fifteen minutes telling he how wonderful my son is but that he was beginning to talk a little too much in class.  She told me how she didn't want me to go home and get on to him.  I told her that I would address it and that if I didn't address things like this then she wouldn't be complimenting my child as much as she had.  My kids know that if you get in trouble at school you are going to get it at home too.  I have prayed so much for them but I have found myself praying even more lately.  I have asked God for guidance so many times.  They are growing up, growing up fast and in a world full of chaos.  I know they are just one choice away from making a mistake.  I know that things I thought they may never do, they just might.  I pray that I am making the right decisions for them and for their future.  Am I pushing too hard or not enough?  Do I give them enough responsibilities?  Do I let them fall or do I do my best to protect them?  Do I say no when everyone else is saying yes?  Is saying no my need for control or is it truly what is best for them?  Do I say yes when everyone else is saying no because it is what is right for my son?  These are all questions that play over and over in my mind.  And I know I have to seek God for the answers. A mom's heart is forever longing for her kids to feel loved and secure and to always know that she will be there through it all.

My life is so worth living but definitely not perfect.  My house has torn up carpet from my goofy dog that hasn't been repaired.  I have debt that I need to pay off.  My garage is a tripping hazard right now.  We get it all cleaned and then something happens and it ends up back in the same messed up shape.  My car hasn't been washed in a month.  I have relationships that have gone sour and I honestly don't know how to fix them other than through prayer.  I have gone off on my kids because I was just having a bad day.  I have let people down.  I have opened my mouth when I shouldn't have.  I have lost my cool at a sporting event.  I have a crooked face still from bells palsy but I am more than healed.  I have been angry at God.  The truth is I am pretty messed up.

But I do know that God is perfect.  And He perfectly pursues us.  I don't believe in karma.  Yes, I believe that you reap what you sow.  But I don't believe that every mistake you make or everything you do wrong will haunt you forever.  I believe in God's grace and forgiveness.  He never gives me exactly what I deserve.  I have messed up plenty and His grace has been right there to scoop me back up and help me get on the right path.  See as humans we aren't perfect and that is ok.  We will hold each other to standards sometimes that are unfair.  People will let you down and hurt your feelings.  But people can't satisfy all of your needs or desires.  There is only One who can do that.  We forget to let God handle all the things that we can't. 

I say all of this to show that sometimes I don't want to put myself out there because I never want to paint a false picture of who I am.  I am a child of God and at times I act just like a child, a selfish brat to be exact.  God is with me each and every day.   Many times He has to step in and perfect all of the imperfections.  My life is not perfect.  Just like you, I am constantly seeking His guidance and perfect will for my life.

May you rest in His perfect word and know that His love is perfect!

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

A time to be still

Well it is almost time to embrace 2015.  Everyone is getting ready for New Years Eve celebrations and preparing New Years resolutions.  I am ready for the new year.  I am expecting a better year.  I mean 2014 wasn't horrible.  But this year brought two surgeries in our household and it was the busiest year ever.

January is both mine and Bryan's birthday month but we really weren't able to enjoy it due to his gallbladder surgery.  It has taken a while for him to get back to normal but we are thankful for a successful surgery and for the outpouring of prayers we received during that time.  Spring flew by but we ended up with a 13 and 9 year old in the process.  During the Summer, we played two select sports.  It was fun but so exhausting.  Every weekend was full of basketball or football.  Nothing makes me happier than watching my boys do what they love to do but honestly it can wear on you.  We enjoyed another great vacation in Garner with good friends.  Two of us got darker in the process and the other two may have got a little sunburned.

When Summer came to an end, we geared up for another school year.  Only this school year would be different because of the North/South split in BH.  Christian would have to split from kids that he has gone to school with since kindergarten.  Though I am still not a fan of the split, it hasn't been that bad.  Christian's group has a tight enough bond that they have been able to stay close to one another in spite of a divided line.  We have a great group of parents who ensure they stay close as well.  In September, we helped launch our church, Faith Family in Baytown.  I got to be a part of God's work and got to see Him move in big ways that far exceeded my expectations.  I gained a church family who has embraced my family and who inspire me to be a better person.  It has opened my eyes up in a whole different way.

The Fall is one of my favorite times of year because it is football season.  I love everything about football.  I love the camaraderie among the players.  I love the hard work that is put into it and the passion that it requires to play.  Both boys had great seasons.  Bo improved so much over the season.  He is the "cheerleader" per say with not one mean bone in his body.  He loves to just be with his friends and be part of the team.  Sometimes that is hard for our competitive sides to understand but we have learned so much watching him play.  Christian's season was full of deep breaths.  At the beginning we thought he would have to be out for the season thinking he broke his finger.  All the drama ended up being a wart that had ruptured on his finger.  Yes, you heard me right, it was a wart.  We were so relieved and so many jokes were made. 

Ironically enough, he really injured his finger the practice before his last game.  The boy was determined to play so we let him play thinking his finger was just a bad jam.  He played his last game and wrapped up the season on a win.  We went to the doctor the next day and it was broken.  Actually it was an unusual break and his finger was slightly displaced.  We would have to have surgery immediately.  I remember sitting in the office and the doctor saying no basketball for Christian.  I cried because my heart hurt.  Some of you may think that is silly because it is just a pinky finger and it is just basketball.  But I never like seeing my kids hurt and I don't like seeing disappointment on their face.  The nurse who was a very compassionate lady looked at me and said "It will all work out.  Sometimes God uses these times because He wants you to be still."  I did not like hearing those words but those words stuck with me throughout all of this.

Still...God wants me to be still.  We run all of the time.  We are on the go at least 6 days a week.  Sure it is all things we choose and love to do.  But when do we rest?  I talk to God daily but am I actually still enough to hear His voice?  It is funny when things happen to you or one of your kids it seems like the biggest thing.  But the world doesn't stop moving and people don't stop living for your circumstances.  But there is a time for you to go and a time to be still.  There is a time to play and a time to sit out.  There is a time to laugh and a time to cry.  But through it all, God is still God and He does not change.  His words and promises remain true.

So we made it through surgery and went through therapy only to be disappointed when the doctor did not think Christian was working hard enough.  His sharp warnings to Christian however lit a fire under him to work harder to get his finger back to where it needed to be.  Plus there was the threat of not being able to make it back on the basketball court before the season ended.  My son has had things not go his way and has had a couple of set of stitches but has never been through true adversity.  This was a time for him to sit on the sidelines and cheer his team mates on.  He was there to celebrate in their wins and individual accomplishments.  This was a time for him to see just how bad he wanted to be back on the court and how much he was willing to work to get back out there.  He worked his finger every day.  We prayed every day.  We rejoiced still in how blessed we already are as a family.  We prayed even more for others needing healing and going through far worse trials than we were.

Christian's next appointment was scheduled for this morning.  For days, my sleep was interrupted.  I would grab my own pinky and go through each part praying for it as if it were his.  Yes, I am one of those crazy moms.  I prayed the Lord would know the desires of Christian's heart and would care about what mattered to him.  I called all my prayer warrior friends and family and asked them to pray because I believe in the power of prayer.  I asked God to prepare us and give us peace if the doctor still said he wasn't ready and needed to stay out longer.  I couldn't even go to the appointment myself.  Bryan drove him because even though I can pray some serious prayers, I am still an emotional mom.  Bryan always does better in these circumstances.

As I sit here and write, I can only give God all the glory.  Our ultra conservative doctor took one look at Christian, had him make a fist and straighten his finger, and released him.  When Bryan called me, I broke down.  My heart was happy!  But once again, I am humbled by the goodness of God.  He listens when I pray.  He listens when you pray.  He loves Christian more than I love Christian.  God amazes me that He can heal cancers and livers and kidneys.  But he also amazes me that He can heal broken pinkies and heal tissues and tendons.  Yes, He cares about those small things too!
There is something to be said about man's inner spirit and our will to live and overcome all that life throws at us.  We will have times in our lives when tough things will happen.  Some things will be out of our control and some things will happen by our own doing.  But every thing that happens is a part of our life story.  God gave us this life to live.  We will fall.  We will break.  We will cry.  But with God it is possible to get back up.  It is possible to heal the brokenness.  It is possible to smile in the midst of adversity.  I am thankful I serve a God who is big enough to take care of the huge things but doesn't forget about the smallest details of our lives.

I don't like to make New Years resolutions.  But I am working on simplifying my life to allow for the magnificent things God has for me and my family.  I will work on being still more so that I can hear His voice.  Don't ask me yet how I plan on accomplishing that.  I don't have a plan but I know God has a plan.  And even though I always think I have it all figured out, He shows me that His ways are not my ways.  His ways are always better than mine.

Praying you and your family have great 2015!  Take time to be still and listen to God.  He just may have something awesome in store for you.


Friday, November 14, 2014

Pure Randomness

I guess I didn't realize that it has been this long since I wrote last.  Honestly, so much has been going on that I didn't even think that I could organize my thoughts enough to get them on paper. Life has been a whirlwind lately. It is just moving and it seems to go by faster each and every day. 

Over the last few months, I was able to be a part of my new church's launch.  I can't even begin to describe how alive I feel in my spirit these days.  It has been a lot of hard work alongside some amazing people. To say it has been great would be an understatement.  I have seen people in a way that I haven't in a long time.  I find myself having a heart for the hurting, the broken-hearted and the sick more than ever before.  I have always loved people but I think I was stuck in my own world for a while.  I could see people but the path to get to them seemed too hard to travel or it was just my blurred vision.  My heart has opened up again.  Since all of this, I have had mended relationships.  I had to let go of some things and pick up right where the relationship left off.  Nonetheless my heart has been able to love the ones I thought were unlovable.  I have been able to look past the opinions of others and give people a chance. We often miss the opportunities to meet great people because we let others influence our opinions of those people.  Open your heart.  Sure you may get let down at times or hurt but I can guarantee that your heart will still beat.  And as long as it is still beating then there is love in it ready to be shared with others.  When you let God in, He makes it easy for you to pour out His goodness, love and mercy.

I also got to see answered prayer when one of my friends finished chemo and found out that her cancer is gone.  I don't know when was the last time I prayed for something so diligently and with such confidence.  Through her battle, I was able to see a community come together and friendships become even stronger.  Many tears were shed through the journey.  At times they were sad tears but like God's word says "though the sorrow may last through the night, joy comes in the morning." I know so many who are dealing with cancer right now.  Cancer is an ugly word.  But I know what God did for my friend, He would gladly do for anyone. He orchestrated divine appointments and friendships and I am so thankful that I was able to be a part of such a beautiful story.  There were touching moments that will forever be embedded in my heart and mind.  I am looking forward to many more years with my friend.  Don't walk the paths of life alone. Grab someone special and let God show you the way.  The journey will be worth it.
One thing that hasn't changed since my last post is that I am still raising two boys who challenge me each day.  Bo keeps me smiling and laughing.  He has a personality that just leaves an impression on everyone he meets.  He is the child who wants to be a part of everything.  He is very compassionate and is always thinking of ways to make someone smile.  Right now I am battling the splitting of my time.  I felt guilty quite often these past few months for leaving Bo at practices so I could go watch Christian's games or go to meetings.  And because he has an older brother who is very active, I am always trying to make sure that I acknowledge Bo's accomplishments no matter how big or small.  He is the child that gets super excited when he is chosen to be Eagle of the Month or who gets to sing in the choir on Veteran's Day.  He wants to make sure Mom and Dad are there to see him.  It doesn't matter how many times I hear "God Bless the USA" in a high pitched 9 year old voice, I had better act like I love it like it was my first time hearing it.  I pray every day that I am showing him love and that he feels special and affirmed for the talents and gifts that he possesses.  You would think since he is the baby that he gets spoiled but sometimes I feel like he gets the shaft. Does any one else ever feel this way? 

Things are totally different with Christian.  He has kept me on my toes recently.  There is so much change that goes on with boys at this age.  You have moments when they still rely on you like they did when they were little and then there are times when they open their mouth and you think you are talking to a grown man.   He picks on me daily and I have come to accept that this is the way he shows me love.  When it comes to him, I constantly have to ask for direction from God.  Since he doesn't give me details, I have had to learn when to push and when to back off.  If I ask too many questions he shuts down.  Then there will be those special times when he opens up and I just have to be silent and soak it all in.  I feel like I learn so much from him.  He was that baby that cried all of the time and when I look back on those days, I thank the Lord we are at this point in life.  Now I am the one crying with each new adventure he takes us on.  But with each new step, I have had so many opportunities to say "Man that kid makes me proud!"

Raising boys is more fun than I ever thought it would be.  My patience has been taken to new levels.  I have learned to not panic.  I have learned that they never really grow up and that is perfectly fine.  I see my boys laughing and giggling at something only boys would.  Just when I want to correct them, I look at my husband and see him laughing and giggling at the same thing.  Boys can be gentlemen and they can be respectful.  Boys will pick you up just to show you how strong they are.  They will laugh at fart noises.  They will make anything into some sort of weapon.  Boys have a strong bond, kind of like a locker room bond with one another.  It is a relation that most of us girls will never truly understand.  Boys will call each other names and still come back together.  Boys will think your crazy when you break down and cry because you can't put into words just how much you love them.  Boys will like girls.  And you will learn to care about those girls because you embrace what your boys care about.  But isn't that how God is?  God cares about what we care about even down to the smallest detail.  Boys will make you pray more.  You will pray for good friends, good girls, bones to not be broken and a whole lot of other things. Boys will open doors, take out the trash and get something off the top shelf for you.  Boys will make you proud to be their momma.

So this is the re-cap of my life over the last few months.  I have had to "hide my crazy" a few times.  This time has been one of the most hectic seasons in my life.  But it has also been a season full of revelation.  I am working on being a better Hope.  I won't have all the answers.  I won't have it all together.  I won't have the cleanest house.  I won't be the perfect parent.  I won't always say the right thing.  But, I will be transparent enough to admit my faults and shortcomings.  I will learn from my mistakes.  I will love my kids and honor my husband.  I will tell you that there is hope in any situation.  I will spread the love of Jesus!

Blessings to you and yours!