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.

Hope

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!

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Sunlight and Rain

Recently I have had no words to share.  The words just seem to be floating around in my head like a mixed up mess.  I have had a couple of people ask about why I haven't posted recently.  All I can say is that there just hasn't been enough in me to pour out.   Life can be joyous, comical, crazy and even heart breaking at times.  The other day I found my 4th gray hair and I just had to laugh.  I am not getting younger and life just doesn't stop when you want it to.  Things will happen as you walk through your days.  Some things will make you want to shout from the rooftops and other days want to make you crawl into a hole.  You will have triumphs and tragedies.  But one thing is for sure, life will still go on despite the way you are feeling in that one moment.

One thing I love about Facebook is getting to walk through people's lives with them.  I have smiled at posts, shook my head at some and cried over others.  I have rejoiced in babies being born, degrees being earned, and kids making touchdowns.  I have bawled over the loss of innocent lives and friends that have lost things that they worked so hard for.  I have asked the Lord to break my heart for what breaks his and I can tell you I have been broken hearted many times over the pains and struggles that people I know go through.  In saying that, I have found myself broken at times too and have felt like I have nothing to offer anyone because I am emotionally and physically exhausted myself.  But through perseverance I have been able to offer a word or a prayer.  I am not the best at gift giving or cooking or crafting, but I can give my words.  My community is hurting.  My friends are fighting cancer.  My family is fighting sickness.  My heart can get desperate.  But my God gives comfort to the hurting.  He gives strength to the weak.  He gives healing to the sick.  He offers light in the midst of a dark world.

We have had a lot of rain recently and I am not a fan of the rain.  I am a "sunshine" girl.  I like windows and I like a lot of light.  Lots of sunny rays makes me one happy girl.  But I know there are days that rain is needed.  Have you ever sat down and thought that in the midst of the rain, someone somewhere is soaking it up?  Kids are laughing and playing out in it.  People are dancing to the sound of the rain.  Someone needs to be refreshed.  Others are having a sunshine moment as the rain pours and the thunders cracks down.  Life can be like that.  But when you are the one who had plans, the rain is just a nuisance. You may be in the middle of the storm.  The winds are raging and the downpour is relentless.  But you have to know that the sun does shine and the skies do clear.  The storm will pass.  Patience is not easy, especially when you are waiting on an answer and hoping for a miracle.  Some things are hard to understand.  God offers peace that passes all understanding.  When there is no sense of it all, all you can do is trust.
 Proverbs 3:5-6New International Version (NIV)
Trust in the Lord with all your heart
    and lean not on your own understanding;
in all your ways submit to him,
    and he will make your paths straight.[a]

I have been trying to read my bible more often lately.  It has seemed that every scripture or motivational quote that someone has posted has applied to me.  Isn't that funny how that happens?  I just keep soaking it in.  I read the Beatitudes in Matthew again the other day and it just jumped out at me like never before.  We live in a world where everyone has an opinion.  Everyone thinks it's ok to always speak their mind all the time.  People take heart in "karma."  Some love to see others fail.  Some can't share in your successes.  But the world could use more people that are slow to speak.  Sometimes the greatest lessons can be learned in silence.  If I have to choose between "karma" and mercy, I choose mercy.  I surely hope I don't get everything I deserve.  We should lift others up when they fall.  We should extend our hands and our resources if we are able.  We should be happy when people we know succeed.  I would rather extend my hand to someone who has fallen than laugh in their face.  I want my friends and family to succeed because out of the success comes overflow into my life as well.

I say all this to remind myself that we are in the midst of a hurting world.  But remember that out of great tragedies come great testimonies.  We have a will to keep going.  There will be times you need someone else to hold your hand and guide you when you can't see clearly through the many tears you have shed.  There will be times that it is your hands that hold a broken mother to comfort her.  It may be your resources that help a struggling relative.  It could be your ears that hear the prayers of person fighting a disease and needs strength to go on one more day.  It may be your eyes that see a friend's pain through their smile.   We all have purpose and we all have something to give.  God specifically designed you.  There is a life out there that you will touch and there will be someone who will touch your life.  You just may be the hope that someone needs today.  Go out and hold someone in the middle of their storm.  Share your light!

My prayer today:  God comfort those who need it today.  In a world where things don't always make sense, I ask that you be our source.  I ask that you hold the broken hearted in your hands today.  I ask that you restore husbands back to wives and kids back to parents.  I ask that you protect all of our children.  I pray for every disease and every sickness to be healed in your name.  I ask that you provide resources to all of those who are struggling in their finances today.  I pray for our homes, our businesses, our schools and our community.  Lord shine your everlasting light on all of us today.  Thank you for your promises and the hope you give us for today and for our future.

Amen

The Beatitudes

He said:
“Blessed are the poor in spirit,
    for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are those who mourn,
    for they will be comforted.
Blessed are the meek,
    for they will inherit the earth.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
    for they will be filled.
Blessed are the merciful,
    for they will be shown mercy.
Blessed are the pure in heart,
    for they will see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers,
    for they will be called children of God.
10 Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness,
    for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

The Dinner Table

We sat down to eat at the actual dinner table two nights ago.  And have done so three nights this week.  Why is that so important?  Well just let me explain.

We have always been a close family.  We are usually always together.  It has only been in the last year that we have been split on occasion between two children in their activities.  We always pile in one bed to say evening prayers and have several on our list that we pray for each night.  Friday nights are normally family nights where we just hang out and take a moment to exhale before starting the busy weekends.  We rarely miss a dinner together.  But to be honest, we eat in front of the TV.  Conversation is never scarce but there is always noise from the big screen.  So there we are, the four of us, two dogs and Adam Levine from "The Voice".  I just had to throw him in there.

I applaud you if you always eat at the dinner table.  I can also say that I don't feel that we are any less of a close family because we don't.  The brutal truth is that my table is where I throw my mail.  My table is decorated by a pile of bills and to do lists and papers to sign and return to school.  It has clothes that need to be returned to the store on it.  My table is the place where the busy life has found its resting place.  My messy table is a reminder to me that I need my life to slow down just a bit.
So the other day I had just enough motivation in me to clear the kitchen table.  That consisted of me moving my piles to other places in the house but nonetheless my table was clean.  When the kids saw it they requested that we have dinner at the table.  So we turned the television off and there was suddenly no noise. There were no distractions.  We just sat and talked as a family.  It was so refreshing!  Of course there was still "gross" boy conversations going on.  And big brother and little brother still had to throw jabs at each other.  But there were no outside distractions.  For a moment, life stopped long enough for me to catch my breath.  I actually could hear myself breathe and it was Heavenly.

My idea of Heaven is no schedules, no alarm clocks, no deadlines.  My Heaven is peace.  I imagine it to be a place where I can stop to smell the fragrances in the air, a place where I can lay my head down and not think about my next move.  Don't get me wrong, I love my crazy life.  I have so many memories running from home to work to practices to meetings to gyms and back home again.  But sometimes I want to be in the still and in the quiet.  I faithfully pray and I lay so much out there to God.  I call out name after name each morning.  But I forget to be quiet.  So I find myself turning down the radio and waiting.  I don't know about you but I am not good at waiting.  So I give God a few minutes to answer and when I don't hear anything I turn the radio back up.  Why can't I just shut up sometimes and listen? 

Like my kitchen table, I just want to keep piling everything up.  I am in a hurry so I leave everything on the table.  The "stuff" becomes part of the table and before I know it, those things are covering up the purpose of the table.  That rectangular piece of wood was meant for gathering my family together.  It should be the part of my home to seat the most important people to me not to merely be a storage place for paper and dust.  I have been created to do more than store the junk and worries of this world.  My purpose is far greater.  I have to be the best "Hope" that I can be.  There are people in my path and in my circle who need me to stop and lend a hand or lend an ear.  There will be those that need me to lift them up when they are down.  My kids need me to "look" when they want to show me a trick and "listen" when they need help with a problem.  So in the midst of my fast-paced, upside down world, I know that I need to stop and take a deep breath.  I need to rid myself of the worry and the concerns this life brings.  I need to recognize the blessings that are right in front of me.  I need to cleanse my mind and my heart of anything that doesn't need to be there and gather myself with the ones I love and the One who loves me.

I don't know what your dinner table looks like.  Maybe you get to eat at your table every night.  Maybe it is beautifully decorated with all the place settings.  Maybe you eat there alone and you are missing someone.  Maybe you are like us and you eat in front of the television.  Maybe you never have time to eat as a family.  Whatever the case, I hope it works for you.  If you are missing out because life just seems to be moving in all sorts of crazy directions, I challenge you to take a deep breath. Get a fresh perspective and know that there is more to life than all the noisy distractions.  Take time to listen.  Take time to smell.  Take time to touch.  Take time to taste.  Take time to see.  Be that someone that others want to gather around and do life with. 

Psalm 34:8
"Taste and see that Lord is good; blessed is the one who takes refuge in him."

Monday, April 14, 2014

Love Story

As we embark on Easter Sunday, I am not feeling so "eastery".  Yes, I know that is not a word but just follow me.  Maybe it is this crazy Texas weather that jumps from hot to cold and from rain to sunshine in the matter of a few hours.  I love Spring time but my allergies have been jacked up for weeks and it seems there is no relief in sight.  My boys are older and aren't so much into the egg hunts anymore.  I have replaced Easter baskets with Academy bags and Nike drawstring bags.  I really need to just borrow some one's little girl for the weekend so that I can dress her up and buy all the cute Easter stuff out there.  Of course I would need to return her after Sunday.

I know that Easter is the best time of year.  Easter reminds us of the greatest story of all.  It is the story of unfailing love, precious grace and redemption.  I should be rejoicing, right?  Can I just put it all out here?  I am tired!  My mind is tired.  My heart is tired.  My body is tired.  Have any of you been there?  Maybe you are there right now.  Your mind may be tired because you wake up every morning wondering how you are going to pay your next bill.  You may be worried about how you are going to get your kids everywhere they need to be because you are doing it alone.  Your mind is racing because you need direction in life and you just can't seem to get a clear answer.  You are afraid to make the wrong decision.  Your mind is flooded with the people you love who look to you for answers and you have nothing uplifting to say because you are down yourself.  Your heart is exhausted because it has been hurt over and over again.  You opened your heart to people who have hurt you.  So you want to just put your heart in a box and not open it up again for anyone.  Your heart aches over the loss of a loved one or the loss of a close relationship.  Your heart cries as you watch those dear to you suffer with sicknesses or addictions.  You feel helpless.  Your body is tired because you work your tail off trying to get ahead.  Or your body can't keep up with all that you want to accomplish.  Your body is weak because you have pushed it to its limit when you don't take time to rest.  Your body has been abused and has deeper scars that no one has seen.  Your body is in pain because you are fighting diabetes, cancer, arthritis or any other sickness.

My story may not be your exact story, but I can relate.  I will tell you that most days I am up on a cloud.  I look at life with a smile.  I approach most days ready to make a positive difference.  But then there are those days when I just want to put my head in my hands and cry.  In saying that,  I am always aware that there are worse situations.  There are people with bigger problems.  But I am glad that God cares about what is important to me down to the smallest detail.  For the last week I have been listening to the same few songs over and over again.  One of the songs is called "All I need to do is Worship" by Rita Springer.  I have had every emotion flood through my mind, heart and body.  So I decided to stop my whining and just worship.  It has been a wonderful week with just me and the One who holds my every moment.  There is a line in the song that says "when there is no way out, except through a miracle.  There's no way up a mountain except to climb it.  And every thing you hoped for seems gone. And every dream you've dreamed seems so far away, just lift your voice and say...All I need to do is worship."   There will be times when you feel like there is no solution to your problem and there is no hope for your restless soul.  It is in those times when all I can do is throw my hands up and surrender all of those emotions to God.  I can only worship.  And in the midst of it all, I know He holds me.  There is a comfort that comes when I don't ask him for anything but I just worship him.

So as Easter approaches I am reminded of a man who died on a cross so that I could be saved and have a promise of a future.  He is called King of Kings and Lord of Lords.  He did it all because He loves me.  I am reminded that He is savior.  He is healer.  He is the Prince of Peace.  He is my shield and my fortress.  You may not believe what I believe but I can tell you that my life does not work without Him in it.  He gives me rest when I am tired.  He gives me peace of mind when the stresses of the world are holding my thoughts captive.  He comforts my heart when it is broken.  He gives me rest when I am tired.  He gives me mercy when I have acted a fool.  He gives me grace when I have gotten myself into a screwed up mess.  When I focus on him and give him all of my worship, I find myself being able to take steps forward even when I want to retreat back.  I am able to smile in the midst of all that is coming at me.  I am able to control my tongue when I want to lash out.  I am able to find joy in the in the little things.  I am able to be encouraged by random people who just thought of me out of the blue.  I am able to see with eyes of compassion.  I have a heart for the hurting and eye to see beauty that is within.

I don't write any of this to force my beliefs on any of you.  I just know that I am not perfect.  And I know that the only way that I can handle the stresses and worries and attacks of this thing called life is by giving my life to the Lord.  If you can ever truly grasp what His love is all about, you would be brought to your knees.  As you decorate your eggs, and buy your perfect Sunday outfits remember that you are a part of the greatest love story of all.  If you don't feel so "eastery," that's OK too.  Don't give up hope.  The sun will rise and the flowers will bloom.  The grass will turn green and you will see that the days get bright.  We all walk our own path and tell our own stories but I know I have experienced some of the same things you have.  You are not alone.  I am praying for you and I am confident that the One who loves you more than anything is hearing my prayers.  Yes I am tired, but I am able to stand because there is a lover of my soul who holds me up when I need it most.

You are loved,

Hope

Click on link below.  Rita Springer "All I Need to do Is Worship"
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QRC65kgRs54&feature=share&list=RDQRC65kgRs54

Monday, March 10, 2014

I-don't-wanna!

So today I decided to run.  Yeah, yeah I know you don't want to hear about my run.  Believe me, I read all the jabs on Facebook about what everyone's personal pet peeve is.  You know some can't stand the people who post about their work outs all the time, or the ones who take pictures of their food or the selfie-crazed people, or the ones who post about their kids all the time.  Or they can't stand the ones who talk about God all the time or the ones who talk about going out to the club every day.  I don't let it work me up either way.  There is no need to delete,  I just keep scrolling down to the next post.  The truth is I am guilty of every single one except the selfies.  I am not that talented to take a picture of myself.

So again, I begin with the fact that today I decided to run.  I haven't really ran in several months.  It is so frustrating that a while back I was running three and four times a week and was feeling pretty darn good about myself.  I swore I would never get back to this point.  You know the point where you feel sloth like.  The point where you have no motivation but to eat the Snickers candy in your purse that your son gave you to hold on to for him.  You know that point where you know your pants are fitting a little too uncomfortably.  But as usual, I let life get in the way and can tell you a ton of excuses.  We are busy!  I hate to work out in the cold.  I hate gyms!!  I would rather work out outside.  I need Bryan to do it with me and hold me accountable.  Bryan had surgery a while back and it got me off track.  I need to cook dinner. You feel me?? 

But today the boys were out doing their sports thing and the weather was perfect so I put my gear on and headed to the park.  It felt good to have my IPOD back on and listen to some of my favorite songs.  Since I hadn't run in forever  and my GPS watch was not charged, I thought I would track my running and walking combo by the songs I was listening to.  So I would walk a whole song and then run a whole song.  That was a brilliant idea until GNR's "Paradise City" came on and I had to run for 6 minutes and 46 seconds.  That may not seem like a lot to you but when you haven't ran in a while every second counts.  And then of course my walking song was Cash's "Ring of Fire" which was like a little over 2 minutes.  Can I just be honest?  I just have a bad case of the I-don't-wanna's!

However the more I ran around the park the more I paused to watch people.  There was so much going on there tonight.  I saw mom's having some girl time while they watched their kids play.  I saw dad's and mom's in work clothes coming to pick up baseball uniforms.  I saw cute little four year old's practicing throwing and catching.  I saw some older people walking slowly together and just enjoying the weather.  There was a lady walking her dog and a mom giving her kid some bread so he could feed the birds.  There were a couple of young men fishing.  Then I had to pass up a mom with her toddler next to her who was screaming to go to the playground but she was trying to work out and so he had to stay beside her.  She was trying and that is what matters.  I don't know if she was a single mom or not but I have always had a special spot in my heart for single moms.  I guess it is because I know how hard it is to be a mom even with your husband's help much less doing it on your own.  It was in the moment that I passed her that I thought, man I shouldn't have any excuses.  Even though I have been in her shoes, I no longer have little ones that I have to bring with me to work out.  I am just tired and have a lack of motivation. 

And that's when all of these faces started appearing in my head.  I thought about a little boy just like my Bo who is battling cancer and probably would give anything to run and jump on that playground and have all the energy in the world.  His mom would probably trade places with him in a heartbeat if she could.  I thought about my friend who will begin chemo treatments soon and how she is going to fight!  I thought of how she is going to be thankful just to have the strength to continue being a mom and a teacher and a wife.  I thought about my mom who wants so badly to experience what it feels like to feel completely normal when she wakes up in the morning.  I thought about one of my single mom friends who has had every obstacle put in her way recently and is just desperate for some answers to prayers.  I thought about my friend who made a commitment to her son to run at least one 5K a month and has stuck to it in the midst of her busy lifestyle.  I thought about my Dad who still rides a bicycle to work every morning despite his diabetes.  He has been riding that bike ever since he was a teenager riding to my mom's house trying to date her.

I can't sit here and say that there won't be days like this again.  Next week school is back in session and all of my excuses will flood my brain again and escape my mouth.  But man I love times like this where I get some perspective.  The day started out overcast but out came the sun midway through the day.  I say it all the time that the sun reminds me that there are brighter days ahead.  I know there will be the I-wanna days and the I-don't-wanna days.  I pray that I will never forget those faces and that each time they flood my head it will make me want to keep going.  Those faces will be my reminder that every person matters.  Those faces tell a story.  Everyone battles something but I believe that with each new sunrise comes a new opportunity to get up and perservere.  I may not be running each and every day but I know my feet will hit the ground the very next morning.  May my steps be guided by the Lord each day!  May He use me to tell a story, a story that is inspiring and makes people say I-wanna!

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Confessions of a sports mom

I have a confession to make.  I am a sports mom.  But most of you already know that.  If my kids were into dance, I would be a dance mom.  If they were into theater, I would be a stage mom.  Whatever my kids were interested in doing, I would support them to the fullest.  I would buy the shirt, the hat, the band and wear them proudly.  Some people still don't understand our lives.  People think we are crazy running from game to game and from a basketball gym to a football field.  Yes, it is insane sometimes, but I love the insanity.  It is an insanity that keeps us sane.  Amongst all the chaos, I have learned some of the most important life lessons through sports.

Yesterday Bo's team learned a lesson to NEVER GIVE UP.  Before yesterday's game, we had only won two games this season.  We were playing the #2 ranked team.  Our boys had a lead and then the other team came back and were ahead by two points.  One of our kids was fouled and made one of his free throws, putting us one point down.  There were five seconds left in the game and we had possession.  Our player passes it in to Bo who dribbles down the court and goes up for a long shot.  Bo misses and one of our players rebounds and makes the shot right before the buzzer.  We won!!!  Now the loss didn't hurt the other team's ranking but man we were so excited.  It was a great opportunity for Bryan to teach the kids to never give up.  Some kids felt defeated before it was over and Bryan said to never quit, anything can happen.  After the game he explained to the players that life will throw you all sorts of challenges.  You will have games to play, sicknesses to fight and stresses to deal with.  You never give up.  You keep on fighting!  It is the same thing that the Lord tells us.  No matter how many times you fall, get back up and keep going.  He gives us hope!

I believe in winning and losing.  I am sorry if you don't agree with me but I am not of the mindset that everyone wins.  You either win the game or you lose the game.  You feel a sense of pride when you get the trophy or you get the title.  On the other side, if you lose, you have a greater desire to work hard to get the trophy the next time.  However, losing a game doesn't define you as a person.  Sometimes the greatest moments in your life come out of your losses.  We have lost games where I have been so proud of my kids and how they played.  They gave it their all.  They put their heart and soul into the game.  Though they came up short of the trophy, they gained so much more insight into who they are.  It's like being passed up on a promotion.  Yes you lost that position but then later on comes something better that was meant just for you at just the right time.  You can't win them all, but you can always keep the hunger and desire to win.  Come back from your loss with your head high, a fresh perspective, and a passion to persevere.  That is winning!

Sports help build relationships.  Some of my best friends have been made through sports.  We have sat together for hours watching our kids in 100 degree weather, or wrapped up in blankets or with rain ponchos on.  We have taken deep breaths together when one of our kids gets hurt.  We have made goodie bags, peeled oranges for half time snacks, and bought every color of Gatorade known to man.  We have cried when our kid was in pain and we have hollered when they make a mistake.  We have encouraged one another and have even had difficult words with one another.  It is like a family and it can get dysfunctional.  But sports parents know what it is like to love more than your own child.  We have the car pool schedule down to an art.  We know what it feels like to watch kids you have known since they were 5 start to grow up, talk like men and become taller than you.  We are happy with the winning basket no matter whose kid made it.  We are more interested in raising good young men than we are just with their performance in a game.  With my sports family, I know that my kid can go with any of them and they will protect them, discipline them and have their best interest at heart. 

Sports build character.  I see a lot of people complain about how cut throat sports can be.  But every area of life can be cut throat.  Believe me, I have a 13 year old so I have been around long enough to have seen it all.  Yes I have dealt with a husband who has lost his cool at a game.  I have dealt with parents cussing my husband out.  I have dealt with people mouthing about my kid.  I have dealt with people who are never satisfied no matter what you do.  I have dealt with my own desires of wanting to tell someone off and instead harbored anger and resentment.  But those experiences have only helped me to want to be a better person.  I can truly say that there is more good than bad that comes out of it all.  It is how you deal with those situations that helps build your character.  With each year that passes, I just want more and more to be a family that influences people.  I have always said that once you are in our sports family, you will always be.  (Unless you cuss my husband or kid out LOL)  I believe in relationships and loving on people.  I believe in encouraging people and pointing out the good in people.  I believe in lifting people up when they are down and embracing their gifts.  I believe in admitting when people are better at something than I am and rejoicing in their successes.  I believe in extending a hand when someone is down.  That is the character I want to have and want my kids to have.

You may think I am crazy for relating sports to life but this is my life.  I think deeply about things.  I try to take daily experiences and learn from them.  Whether it is watching a basketball go through a net, or a football crossing the goal line or a glove catching a ball, sports teach me a lot.  I have learned so much about my husband, kids and friends through our sports seasons together.  This is my family outside of my blood relatives.  I love their kids.  I pray for them.  Their burdens are mine to carry also.  I thank God for placing each one of them in my life during the perfect season.  We don't win every game and we don't always have the same schedule.  But we are on the same team.  It's a team that has a desire to win the prize but has a greater passion to win in life.

Praying for each one of you that has become a part of our sports family.  May the Lord protect each one our players and give us wisdom as parents to make the right decisions.  May they be successful by the Lord's standards and not just by the world's standards.  May they be the heads and not the tails.  May they stay humble and have a clean heart.  May we always stand with one another to lift each other up.  May grace and mercy follow us all wherever we go.












Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Just a Reminder

Sitting at home has never been my thing.  I like to do it every once in a while but I like to be doing something or feeling like I have accomplished something.  I am one of those people who doesn't mind getting up and going to work every morning.  I truly like my job and the people I work with.  But today I am off taking care of my husband who just had gall bladder surgery and the kiddos are home due to this crazy Texas weather.  There is not much for me to do today since I cleaned my house before surgery.  I guess I could clean the clutter piles that are stacked neat in a corner but I really have no motivation to do that either.  I have cleaned the kitchen three times already because when we are home we eat a lot.  I do have to say that I am enjoying staying in my jammies and getting to lay around with no deadlines.

I have had some time to think and reflect on some things in my life.  I shared recently that my life continues to be blessed but that I have had some of my toughest years spiritually.  I thought God was through using me.  I didn't think I had any influence on anyone anymore and that there wasn't anything I had to offer.  I felt some of my prayers were being tossed up only to be put away in a box somewhere and to be brought back out for review when I was good enough again.  But you see I know better than that.  Shame on me for even feeling that way, right?  I know what God's word says and I have experienced God's grace and love over and over again.  Now we have always been a family who prays together and we have never faltered from that but we have been trying to find our direction again.  We have been needing God to set our crooked paths straight.  I need to know that God is not done with me or my household.  There is a mission for the Rhodes family.  Our dreams aren't dead and our passions live on.

So as we had been anticipating Bryan's surgery, I was reminded just how God works in every moment.  He is leading and guiding us on every journey.  Of course Bryan's surgery was not major but the anticipation to get there was nerve wracking.  He had been having problems for a while and needed to get rid of his gall bladder that was causing him pain.  But in the process they discovered that the heart murmur he has had for years had progressed over time and was skipping a bit more.  They wouldn't clear him for surgery until the heart doctor cleared him.  So we began the process of waiting on appointments and waiting on results.  If his heart didn't check out then he would need to have a small heart surgery before removing his gall bladder.  Again, many people go through worse things and this definitely does not compare to other battles people are fighting.  But nonetheless, waiting is never fun.  I had great people praying with me.  People asked me if I was nervous at all.  But I can tell you that this is when I go into crazy prayer person mode.  Nothing messes with people I love.  I was confident that all would be OK and we would get clearance from the heart doctor.

Finally after 2 months of pain, Bryan got word that his heart does need to be monitored but that he can function normally now and could have his surgery.  So surgery was finally scheduled yesterday and was successful.  Now he is just in some pain but getting better by the hour.  But the experience has opened my eyes again to God's goodness and the work of His people.  Though I was confident that all would be a success, I cried after I prayed with Bryan.  He asked me not to, but I couldn't help it.  There is always a risk in surgery and so we talked about his wishes just in case something happened.  That is a hard conversation to have.  He told me that he wanted to make sure that I knew he loved me and that he wanted to have so many more years with me. We are approaching the date of completing 17 years together and are embarking on our 15th year anniversary.  I think the longer we are together the harder it is to think of losing him in my life.  I told him with tears in my eyes that you just realize how much you have with that person.  We have lots of memories, lots of tears together, lots of laughs and two amazing children.  I would fight for this man!  What God put together, nothing can tear apart!

They drugged him up and took him back.  As I waited again for him to come out of surgery, I was able to talk with my mother in law for a long time.  I got to see the woman who gave birth to that 9lb. 15oz. boy still love him like the day she first laid eyes on him.  I have been blessed with Bryan's mom in my life because she has always treated me like her own.  And I know she loves Bryan and my boys with every fiber in her body.  She told me that I will understand when I look at my two boys and that I will never stop being their mom.  She is right!  And that is why I have embraced her in my life and have enjoyed the gestures, meals and words of advice she has always had for us.  She has always been a good mom and would do anything for the guys that are so important to me and her.

The generosity of friends and family through this has been humbling.  People offered prayers up and brought food over.  Even though I am capable of cooking, they insisted on blessing me with meals.  I can never say enough just how much this helps a family out if you are able to bless them in that way. My neighbors came by and one brought Bryan a chocolate pie. We don't live in the biggest house but we are surrounded by the biggest hearted neighbors ever.  I am thankful for this house and how God has loved on us through the amazing people that surround us on all sides.  Friends have covered practices for us and given my kids rides.  This is what "community" and "church" is all about.  We are all busy and not one person can do everything for everyone.  But you can do something for someone.  I don't get caught up in who called and who didn't.  Instead I am thankful for the ones that God placed in my life for such a time as this.  I hope that I can be that person with the right words or the right actions for the right person at the right moment.

And I can't thank everyone without including the two great young men in my life.  These two pull together when they need to.  I get teased because I still make their lunches everyday and wait on them more than I should.  But the morning of the surgery, my mother in law said they got up made their own lunches and were ready to go.  Though they don't do this when I am around, it helps me to know that they pay attention to what I do.  So when they need to do step up, they can.  They watched the time and Bo commented that he knew his Dad was in surgery.  Christian doesn't say much but he is a thinker.  I know that my boys are praying boys.  They are definitely compassionate and can take over when they need to.  We don't always get it right with these two but I am proud of the young men they have become.  I hope we set a good example because Lord knows they are watching every move we make.

There are so many things I could say about this whole experience but I just wanted to brag on God at work.  He truly does hold our every moment.  We go through things we don't always understand.  We have to wait sometimes and the anticipation sometimes cripples us.  In my experiences, I have always found God to be right on time and that when you take a trip through the valley, you can be assured there is a glorious mountaintop waiting to be climbed.  Don't let the cares of this world consume you.  Hold on to your loved ones and fight for them.  They need to know that you want to do life with them.  Don't get caught up in the circles your not in.  Instead focus on the people in your life who leave an imprint on your heart.  For me it doesn't have to be a big gesture, just one that shows you matter.  And remember you can't give your all to 500 facebook friends.  But you can give a lot to someone who needs it when you are all they have.  God is so good and I can't say it enough.  I will never stop including Him in my blogs because there is no part of my life that is without Him.  He leaves me speechless at times!

I am thankful for this time because it is just a reminder that God is up to something good for our family.  We still matter and I do know that He is not done with us.  There has to be purpose for us!  He has brought new people into our lives at the perfect time.  I am looking forward to the journey we are about to take.  Though Bryan may have a heart that beats imperfectly, we know there is a mountain to climb.  That same heart will beat for God and the Rhodes will stand on the top together with every piece to our family fitting together perfectly.

Love these lines from Selah's version of "You Raise Me Up"

There is no life, no life without its hunger
Each restless heart beats so imperfectly
But when You come and I am filled with wonder
Sometimes, I think I glimpse eternity

Friday, January 3, 2014

2014-We Can Do Life Together

So I have never been one for New Year resolutions but I do always like to set some goals. I have a few that always seem to be on my list each and every year like lose weight and be healthy. Let's see if I can try that one more time.   I do want to continue to write these blogs and hope that you embrace them and read them.  Just maybe you can relate to my crazy world.    If you are just starting to read these, I want you to know that I write from my personal experiences of being an everyday mom, wife and Christian. I share these blogs on my face book page that way you can choose to read them or not.

A while back I saw several people posting interesting facts about themselves that people may have not known about them. I never did it because I really thought no one actually cared to read them. And it didn't help that other people were saying how they were tired of seeing the posts and didn't care. Well I loved reading all the facts about people because everyone has a story and each person is uniquely interesting. So for some of you who read this but may not know much about me and because we are starting a new year, I am going to share some personal facts about me and you can CHOOSE to read them now or STOP reading at this point.  

I was born to parents who were 15 years old at the time.  I am the only child from my mom and dad but I have a sister and a brother from a different mom and another brother from a different dad. They are each amazing people and I wish we were all closer in age.  When I was little I had a huge stuttering problem.   I remember standing up in the 4th grade to give an oral book report and couldn't get the words to come out.   I outgrew the stuttering in Junior High when I gave public speeches and signed up for theatre arts.  My mom came to one of my performances and couldn't believe my shy, stuttering self was up on a stage performing.  Actually, if you put me on a stage, I become a totally different person.  If I find myself in an insecure situation or I rush to talk, I will occasionally stutter even now.

I was voted most likely to succeed in Jr. High and homecoming queen in High School. Though it was cool back then I really don't like for it to be brought up today. I have come to find out that in the grand scheme of life that doesn't mean a whole bunch.  Titles are just that.  In fact, I didn't finish college like I should have.  I even promised my dad I would finish and I never did.  And now I am just a receptionist at a machine shop, the best machine shop ever, I might add.  It is funny how our definition of success changes as our life unfolds.  I don't have to have a title to be successful. One of the hardest yet most rewarding things I have ever done is be a mom and we don't even capitalize that title. 

I wanted to be a dancer when I was in elementary, then a lawyer in Jr. High, and eventually wanted to be a television news anchor.  I always shake my booty just not professionally.  If you play a song, I will dance.  I still like to argue my point but I am way too emotional to ever do it for a living.  And I still will have something to say if you shove a microphone in my face but I don't want to have to go out in hurricanes and disasters to cover the daily news.  So I will stick to my hairbrush in front of the mirror forever.  Plus, I think I have said before that "Hope Rhodes" just doesn't sound like a reporter's name.

I hate fireworks!!!  I use to think it was the loud pop I didn't like but my heart starts pounding as I watch them shoot up in the air.   I feel like I am anticipating a huge bomb about to explode.  The Lord better take me before any huge bombs get dropped here because I may just pass out with the sound of the explosion.  I try so hard to not be disrespectful at sporting events when they play the National Anthem. I keep one had on my heart and I put one ear on my shoulder because I get so anxious about them bursting fireworks during the words "and the rockets red glare."  I am so thankful when we get through July 4th and New Years so that the fireworks can go away.  We have spent the last two New Years inside the city limits so I was completely satisfied that fireworks couldn't be popped.  By the way everyone in my house loves fireworks and loves to spend tons of money on them.  I usually stay inside and watch from the window.  I really need to get over the fear but it seems inevitably hard to do so.

Driving is one of my least favorite things to do!  In fact, if I ever become rich in my finances, I would first hire a chauffeur.  I would let someone drive me around every day and not think twice about it.  I am horrible about being aware of my surroundings.  Bryan gets on to me about this all the time because I don't pay enough attention when I am out in public or to things that I have no interest in like building colors or license plate numbers.  However, I do pay attention to what people say and can remember the smallest detail.   I can remember their favorite candy bar or what Sonic drink they like. I usually can tell you what their God-given gifts and talents are because I pay attention to how they act and what makes them smile.  I love learning about people and what makes them tick!  And I usually have a good instinct about people. If someone does not have good intentions, I usually know. If they are genuine, I usually know.  I usually try to see the good in all people.

When I saw Bryan for the first time I thought he was so fine but way out of my league.  I never thought he would give me the time of day.  He was so tall and had a sophisticated arrogance about him.  I was sure he would never give this short, curly-haired girl a second look.   I have always been insecure about my hair and he loved it.   Little did I know that I too was turning his head and we would end up never turning back.  He made me feel like the most beautiful woman ever and he still does even when I am at my worst.  Two boys and seventeen years later we are still going strong.

I didn't get saved until I was an adult.  I grew up with church influence but I never had a true relationship with the Lord until I was older.  I never knew God was someone who could be your father, friend and comforter all at the same time.  God was a mystery me to me growing up but when I came into relationship with him my whole life changed.  I can't and don't do life without Him!  I think this is why I can relate to the un-churched and imperfect people so well.  I was there and I am still not perfect.  I like people to be real with me and with God.  Don't quote me all the scriptures and have no love in your heart or treat people like crap.  I would rather hang with the guy who said a dozen cuss words but is helping me fix my flat tire than with a self-righteous person with no compassion.

So there you have it!  I am a deep thinker and this is probably one of the reasons I write.  I hope as you share your eyes and ears with me by reading this blog that you will get a glimpse into who I am as a person.  I am a crazy sports mom who is super competitive even though I am not very athletic myself.   You can bet that I watch Sports Center almost every morning.  I am highly inappropriate at times but I love a good laugh and can pick on myself.  I will have laugh wrinkles as I grow old like Bryan said.  I will wear them proudly!  I am always dreaming of that bikini body even though I refuse to give up the foods I love.  I look in the mirror and try to convince myself that there is potential and then go to the kitchen and grab an Oreo.  And although I have had one my toughest years spiritually, I will pray with trembling hands and an open heart as I try to reach Heaven for the people I love and who ask me to.

As we begin 2014, I am expecting good things for my family.  We will get back on the path that God has laid out for us.  We will do our work with integrity and honesty.  We will raise our boys to be respectful gentlemen with generous hearts.  We will be unified as a family and give back to those around us.  We will serve God and serve others! 

Thank you for joining me again this year.  I pray that you will find hope in my blogs.  Some of you have told me that you cry when you read these blogs.  If I saw you, I would cry with you.  But I also pray that you laugh and know that I am just an everyday woman who shares the same experiences as you.  I don't always get it right and I am not the most advanced writer.  But I can promise you a life full of hope and promise.  We can do life together!