Mother’s Day Weekend

On Friday afternoon I decided to use the youth of my children to my advantage. Right after I picked Caden up from school I announced, “Well guys, Mother’s Day Weekend starts now!”

I could tell they were mildly confused. Since we homeschool a couple of days a week we have a monthly calendar and we use it to count down to important days, like Mother’s Day. So they tried to argue for a minute that Mothers Day wasn’t until Sunday, but I just told them that, “Actually, here in America, we celebrate Mother’s Day all weekend long.” (Of course I made that up… along with the story about Jacob being born a monkey and trading my banana for him to come home with me.) So, starting immediately I was expecting things like flowers, and drawings, and songs sung in my honor, and foot rubs.

They were cool with everything but the foot rubs. Why am I the only kid that fell for that??? Was anyone else coerced into rubbing their moms stinky feet? Just me? Mmm kay.

Friday night was pretty typical. The only exception was after the big boys were ready for bed, when given the chance to watch a show, Caden chose Dancing with the Stars because he knows I like it. How sweet.

Saturday, however was all mine. I slept in and woke up to a fresh pot of coffee. Then we all put on our tennies and headed up Mt. Rubidoux.

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Afterwards we moseyed around the farmers market and ate lunch at a little sandwich shop downtown. We ended the day with church (our usual Saturday night) but when we came back home for dinner Jacob said, “Mom, do you know why we’re acting like we like you so much? Because its Mother’s Day weekend!” Thanks for the act, kid.

Honestly, I was SO looking forward to Sunday. It was going to be my day off. I woke up to breakfast in bed and the cutest cards and gifts a mom has ever seen. I was going to meet my sister at Glen Ivy but then we thought it would be pretty crowded and since she lives on the beach (literally on the beach) I decided I would just meet her at her house. So after I stopped at Target for a magazine (and ended up spending $100… Why Target?!?! Why?!?!) I met up with my sis for lunch and lounging on the beach. Ahhhhhhhh.

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The perfect weekend, right?

Here’s the thing. As I was driving home on Sunday evening I was thinking about how blessed I am and how I had SUCH a great weekend, but, if I had to pick one day to have been my Mother’s Day celebration day, I would have picked Saturday, the day with my kids and my husband.

Weird, right?

All along I thought my gift was going to be Sunday, a day to myself, and while it was wonderful (truly, truly, truly), my people (my husband and kids), THEY fill me up.

I love being with them. They have some crazy ability to love me like no one else.

How about you?

It kinda feels like (and I’m totally calling myself out on this one because I’m just as guilty as the next mom) it feels like it’s completely acceptable to not like your kids and husband, or at least act like you don’t. It’s almost expected to go on facebook and read status upon status from moms complaining about their kids. And if you get a group of women together discussing their husbands, it’s almost as if he’s the big dope that couldn’t make it to the dinner party.

I know there are times when we are having a particularly bad day, and maybe facebook or blogging is our only outlet into the adult world, but I’m talking about the habitual status updater or blogger. The one that is constantly venting. The one that you really start to question if they even like their kids. That one.

I don’t know when this became acceptable, but it has. But I’m challenging myself (and you, my readers) to stop “venting” and instead, let’s speak highly of our kids and husbands. Who cares if we sound mushy or sappy or we think we’re annoying people. They are OUR people.

So, what do you think? Have you seen this trend? When did it become okay? And are you guilty of it? Go ahead and call yourself out. I did. But just accept my challenge to stop right after.

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Don’t forget, Geric and I are going on a missions trip to Honduras in July. If you’d like to support us financially, click here!
Honduras Button

Why I Need a New Passport

I found my expired passport the other day.  And to be completely honest, I was HORRIFIED by what I saw.  Please, don’t comment with things like, “Erin, you’re being too hard on yourself” or “Erin, I don’t think it’s that’s bad” or “Erin, I think you look beautiful.”

Well, I guess you can make those comments, but then I’ll know which of my friends are liars.

Look.

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I heard the gasps.

Horrific, right?

And I have no excuse at all for that look.  Yes, those are straps to jean overalls on my shoulders that I am still wearing in 2000… well past their prime.  Yes, my hair… honestly, I’m speechless about that hair.  Each time I try to say something about it, vomit gets lodged in my throat.  And my eyebrows!  Why in the world are they waxed so far apart from each other?  And, the bags under my eyes!  What is that all about?  This picture was taken well before I had children.  Back in the day when I would lay my head on my pillow and not get up until I deemed so, which was usually around 10am, if I wasn’t working.  I have no reason to be looking that tired.

Thank God I’ll be getting a new passport soon.

Why are you getting a new passport, Erin?

I’m so glad you asked.  Gotta love a good segue.

I’m getting a new passport because I’m going on a missions trip to Honduras in July!

I love my kids.  I really, really do.  With all my heart!  To the moon and back.  Actually to the rock formerly known as the planet Pluto, and back.  (The moon is relatively close to us, if you think about it.)  Anyway, my heart overflows with love for my three munchkins, but the one thing I have completely missed since becoming a mother are missions trips.

I love traveling to new places and sharing the love of Jesus with more than just words.  I love providing for people’s physical needs, and running a VBS for the crazy kids, and helping to build homes and churches.  And as much as I say that I’m going down there to help the people, I know from experience that I will come home with my heart fuller than when I left.   I know that they will affect me far beyond what I can begin to imagine.  That’s how amazing God is, you know?

Honduras is just special to me.  I’m not sure if I’ll be able to explain it fully.  My first trip was in 1996 with my best friend.  We opted for a missions trip as a senior trip (crazy, wild, party animals that we were!)  And it was a hard couple of weeks of heat, humidity, and sickness.      But it was one of the first times that I was on my own experiencing people that had next to nothing, overflow with joy because of Jesus.  After I graduated from college, I was pretty much clueless as to what I was going to do with my life.  So I opted for Honduras, again.  I moved down there and worked with an amazing organization called Signs of Love.  They reach out to the deaf (who are largely ignored by society) and teach them sign language and also about the love of God.  That was when I first met my teamer, Robin.

There’s no better way to explain it than to say that she was (and still is) a sister to me.  We clicked from the beginning and she honestly modeled for me how to be completely and totally abandoned to God’s will for her life.  She gave up everything to just follow His voice.  Her reliance on Him alone and her passion to make a Kingdom difference with her life was something brand new for me. The time I spent with her represents a milestone in my life.  It marks a place where my love for God and my relationship with Him became real.  So much more than the dos and don’ts that I learned at church, or Bible verses that I memorized, or habits that I had formed.  It’s where I realized that God truly moves, and God is so alive, and that I really can live moment to moment for Him.

Last December the unthinkable happened to my friend, Robin.  Her husband (of less than three years) was killed in a car accident.  It was unimaginable, not only because the thought of anyone losing his or her spouse is unimaginable, but also because it was Robin.  She had waited and prayed for her husband for so long.  He needed to be a man unlike any other, that would give up everything he knew to follow the call put on her life.  Jeff was that amazing man.  And he was taken from her way too soon.

Unfortunately, the story doesn’t end there.  I wrote about Steve in an earlier post.  He is the father of a childhood friend of mine, and was like a brother to Robin.  Days after Jeff died, Steve traveled down to Honduras to comfort Robin and help her to recover.  But as they were traveling in a car together, men on the roadside shot and killed Steve.  As I wrote previously, Steve was an amazing person.  His love and generosity for people was unmatched.  He had a heart for Honduras and the ministry going on down there, so in some weird way, it makes sense that his last moments were spent there serving a friend in need.

While I am definitely going to be serving the Honduran people on this trip, through vacation Bible school and finishing a church building, this feels like more of a heartfelt mission than ever before.  This time it’s bigger than the physical service we will provide.  It’s that and more.  It’s bringing comfort to a friend who lost more that I can begin to imagine.  And it’s allowing the generosity of a man with a huge heart for the poor, to continue beyond his own life.

I’m putting all of this here on my blog, because I’m asking for your support.

First and foremost, please PRAY!  Prayer is so incredibly powerful!  I have seen the miraculous happen all because of prayer and fasting.  Pray for God’s will to be done while we are there.  Pray for the safety of each member of our team.  Pray for traveling mercies.  Personally, I would love it if you’d pray for my family.  My heart is definitely torn about leaving my babies to go so far for so long, even though it’s only 8 days.  Pray for God’s grace to be all over us as we’re far away from each other.  Pray for protection and peace while I’m gone.  A mama is not easily replaced!

Finally, please pray about supporting me financially.  We are going to be doing a group fundraiser (more abut that later), but the cost of the entire trip is $1800.  And, actually Geric has decided to join me!  (Praise God!) So, the cost of our trip jumped up to $3600.  I know that seems like an awful lot of money but as Geric told me, “Where God guides, God provides.”  And he’s so right!  I’m not going to put God in a box and say that this is too expensive.  I’m going to have faith in my God as a mighty provider!  If you feel led to support me through your finances, you can just click the Honduras Button to the right on my blog (or at the bottom of this post) and from there find my name “Erin DeVincenzo” from the drop down menu and give whatever amount you feel led to give.

Also, you’re always welcome to give the old fashioned way, by writing a check, and then you have a couple of options.  You can either wait until the next time you see me and slip it into my pocket when I’m not paying attention.  I love finding money when I’m doing my laundry, it eases the pain.  Or, you can make it out to North Hills Communtiy Church (thus making it tax deductible), put my name in the memo (or Geric’s!) and send it to P.O. Box 398, Rancho Cucamonga, CA 91729.

Finally, I would, LOVE, LOVE, LOVE it if you would leave an encouraging word or your favorite Bible verse in either the comment section of this post or in an email to me.  I know that there will be times when I’m feeling discouraged or missing home and reading a message from a friend can really bring strength.

Thanks in advance for all your support!  I’m already praising Jesus for the miracles that I will see!

Being Intentional… Again

I already wrote a post titled Being Intentional, thus the title of this post, Being Intentional… Again.  In my first post, I started out with this sentence:

There’s a lot of things I need to be more intentional about… mothering, eating well, exercising, bible study, etc.

Then I went on to write a post about being more intentional with my writing… because we all know writing is WAY more important than any of those other things.  Not!  (Have I mentioned that I’m bringing back “Not!”?  Because I am.  Geric and I just talked about it the other day.  We’re bringing it back.)

Part of the reason I’ve been so absent from this here blog is because I’ve been being more intentional in those other areas of my life.  And I like it.  So, I thought I would share.

EATING WELL:

I was living in ignorance.  And, as the saying goes, it was bliss.  Then I watched a little movie called Food Inc.  And another one called Food Matters.  And then I read a little book called Skinny Bitch.  And you know what, they changed me.  Number one, I felt nauseous. For days.  No joke.  What really got to me was the part in Skinny Bitch that talks about the treatment of animals in slaughterhouses.  Ugh.  So sad, and so disgusting.  I’m not getting into detail, because you should read the book, and because this is a family blog and I just can’t go there.  But honestly, to think that there are people out there that treat animals like that is just demented!  (Please don’t leave me a comment how there are people out there treating people like that, because yes, I do realize that, but it’s just not the topic of conversation right now.  Mmmm… kay?)

So, anywho, I went vegan for a minute.  That was rough.  I like cheese.  So, then I went vegetarian, and that lasted awhile.  I really like fruits and veggies, but don’t give me fake meat.  I’m now back to eating chicken once a week-ish, but I need to know it wasn’t in one of those dark chicken coops where they’re so fat their little legs break underneath them.  So, only free range and organic.

And we’re in the process of eliminating processed food.  Honestly, this one is really hard with kids in tow.  They’ll go Ghandi on you if you do too much too fast.  So, we’re easing into this one.

We aren’t food Nazis (there’s an example of people treating people similarly to the way people are treating animals in slaughterhouses, but still, don’t leave me a comment about it… maybe another post in the future… don’t hold your breath), we’re just trying to make healthier choices.  And so far, we’re feeling better about it.

MOTHERING:

This one is a biggie as far as my absence from this here blog.

Does anyone else feel like someone has pushed the fast forward button on life?  I mean, it was just yesterday that Caden was going to his first day of preschool, yet I just got a letter about ordering a cap and gown for kindergarten graduation.  (Which, by the way, is ridiculous.  Yet, I did it.  Because, God forbid my kid be the only one walking across that stage without them.  Yes, I still care what strangers think about me.)

So, I’m trying to relish the moments before they are gone.  And honestly, it’s changed my perspective a little bit.  I still have my days of wanting to rip my hair out (or pull my ears off, depending on the noise level) but mostly, I really, really enjoy my kids.  We went to the aquarium the other day, and I was caught up in a moment of realizing, These are my kids.  And they are great.  They are great people.  I really like them, and not just because I’m their mom and they grew in my belly and I have to love them.  I really like them.  I think they are funny, and smart, and compassionate, and joyful.  And honestly, I really like spending my days with them.

So we’re bringing back Family Nights.  Can I get a “woot, woot!”  (And not a girly “woot, woot,” more of an Arsenio “woot, woot.”  Thanks.)  The boys have been asking why we haven’t done one in so long.  So, I’m planning  Cinco de Mayo one ahora. (That means “now” in spanish.)

PRAYING:

I would LOVE to say I get up at 5am and pray and read my Bible, but then I would be perfect.  So there, you’ve found my weakness.  I like sleep.

But I am being more intentional about praying and reading my Bible.  And I’m kinda glad it’s not just a morning event for me.  It’s more of all day thing.  A moment to moment thing.  I’m getting good at listening to God’s voice and praying what He puts on my heart.  I also stumbled upon this blog called MOB Society (MOB stand for Mother of Boys.)  They are doing a 21 day prayer challenge that started May 1st, and it’s already so awesome.  Peeps, if you have boys, you must participate.  It’s that awesome.

The other thing that God has put on my heart is Honduras and my Teamer T, Robin.  I never wrote about it on the blog, but she lost her husband in a fatal car accident last December.  It was tragic and awful and all things bad.  But since then, she and Honduras have been on my heart on a daily basis, so when I was presented (that sounds so formal… it was more of a mention in an email about cakepops, but still) with the opportunity to go on a trip there with a team from North Hills Community Church, it was kind of a no brainer.  Actually, I had to make sure my babies would be taken care of while Geric works and that God really, really, for reals, not kidding, totally sure, write-it-in-the-sky, was saying to go.  And He was.  So I am.

But more about that in another post.

So, that’s what’s been going on.  Nothing big, or major, or earth shattering, but it’s good.

And just so you all know, I am planning on being more intentional about blogging, again.  And this is where I would normally say, “but don’t hold me to it.”  But you can.

And I’m not even gonna say “Not!”

Reasons to Stop Blogging… even though I never really will

Where in the world have I been?

It’s been way too long since a blog post, I realize.  And I was contemplating just giving it up altogether.

My reasons?

Well, for some reason, this blog puts pressure on me.  I can’t explain it.  But when I write something I’m putting myself “out there” and if no one comments, then I think I suck.  Or if it’s really good and I get a lot of comments, I feel like “how am I going to top that?”

And then there’s the whole idea of strangers reading my blog.  And honestly, complete strangers don’t bother me.  The mommies from other states or whatever.  That’s fine.  It’s the people who I kinda know that might find me through facebook or mutual friends and then they’re reading my blog and watching me live my life and not leaving comments, so I don’t really know they are there, but they are.  Like a stalker.  That I kinda know.  Okay I’m talking about ex-boyfriends.  It freaks me out that ex-boyfriends might be reading my blog!  We cut ties, people!  I don’t want contact.  Especially if they aren’t owning up to their stalking ways.  I don’t even know if they really are stalking me, but just the thought that they might be, freaks me out!  I mean, honestly, I’m totally stalkable material, right?  Right?

I sound crazy, right? But that’s not news.  Really.  Ya’ll knew I was crazy.

Then there’s the thought that strangers (not ex-boyfriends or mommies from other states, but weirdos) are really reading about my kids.  It’s just kinda weird.  And Oprah has gotten me all paranoid that there’s a child molester around every corner.  Which according to the Megan’s Law website, there kinda IS!  What if there’s someone reading my blog that IS a child molester and they’re printing out pictures of my kids like that one guy on Desperate Housewives who had that kid shrine in his basement.  *shiver me timbers*  Or the guy from Silence of the Lambs.  What if there’s a freak like the guy from Silence of the Lambs reading my blog?!?!  Then what?  Huh?  Then what?

I’m not the type of mommy blogger that is all discreet and only shows pictures of the back of my kids heads or makes up names for my kids like “Peter Pan” and “Simba,” because frankly there just aren’t enough cute male Disney characters, unless I start naming them after mice and ducks.  But if you sit and think about this stuff for too long, it’s just a wee bit freaky, right?

The world is a scary, scary place.

Alright, maybe not that scary, but still…

And finally, my kids are getting older.  I mean, my oldest is in kindergarten, but I have thought about how he’s going to feel one day if he reads my blog.  Is he going to be embarrassed about some of the stuff I’ve shared?  Or will he think it’s funny, as we all think it is, right?  Will he feel like we’re laughing with him, or at him?   It’s one thing to talk about my almost-5-year-old who still defiantly wets his pants on facebook to my 337 close and personal friends (haha) but putting it out in the blogosphere… kinda embarrassing… but maybe that’ll teach him to stop peeing in his pants, for heaven’s sake!

So, anywho, that’s what I’ve been thinking about and that’s why I’ve been gone for so long.

But it’s nice that some of you have facebooked me and said you’ve missed me, and the others that have “liked” that comment… that’s nice.  Those little blue “thumbs up” really make me feel special.

So, I’ll be back.  Me, Peter Pan, Simba, Nemo, and Sulley have a lot of updates to tell you all about.

I think I’ll adopt the name Mrs. Incredible for myself… for obvious reasons.

Crossroads

I’m pretty sure this is going to end up a verbal vomit-ish post, because I feel like I have all these thoughts swarming around in my brain, and I just need an outlet to get them all out.

Thank God for this here blog.

I feel like we’re at a crossroads.

Have I said that before?  I feel like I’ve said that before.  But this time I really, really mean it.  Really.  I don’t know how to explain it except to say that it’s a stirring in my heart that won’t go away.  I know that sounds hyper-spiritual (especially if you’re not the spiritual type, but deal.  Mm, kay?)

We’re just in this weird place where everything is up in the air and every time I think it’s going to settle down, it doesn’t.

A month ago, I honestly felt like our life was spinning out of control.  I was so stressed out that I got a cold sore.  That is how you know Erin is stressed out.  Ignore her words of being okay and “giving it to God.”  If you see a huge disgusting growth on her lip, she’s stressed. Hug her.  Just avoid the cold sore.  They are highly contagious.

Anyway, here I was with my cold sore, thinking that our house was going to auction, we didn’t have enough income to go anywhere but my mom and dads (which would be perfectly acceptable in any other country but America, by the way) and it felt like there was no way out.  Then things started falling into place.  The bank postponed foreclosure and was looking at approving us for a short sale.  I interviewed for a job and it went really well.  Geric started applying at churches, feeling he was ready to get back into ministry.  We were on a path.  It was good.  New directions.  Yay.

But now the bank is silent again, taking their sweet time and having us jump through short sale hoops.  The awesome interview I had has also led to silence, actually an email a few weeks ago saying that the candidates would know by the end of the week, and then silence.  I’m taking that as a no.  Silence from the churches Geric has applied for and questions in his mind… is he too old to be a youth pastor???

And now everything is up in the air again.

And I’m praying my cold sore doesn’t come back.

I feel like God keeps taking us to this place.  And I’m really trying to figure out what it is that He’s teaching me, because I’m sure once I do He’ll lead me out of here, right?  Right, God?  I’m talking to you, Big Guy. 

But then it crossed my mind this morning as I was doing my quiet time, that maybe God keeps bringing us here to this place, because he has other plans for us.

Okay, here comes the crazy. 

I’ve always felt drawn to missions.  After my first trip to Mexico (when I was in junior high) I wrote in my journal that I wanted to win a million dollars so I could give it to the people we met.  I remember feeling like I wanted to give up everything and GO!  And I did almost every summer.  My senior trip wasn’t a wild party in Cancun or Hawaii, it was a two week mission trip to Honduras.  After college, I was directionless, and my first thought was, I should be a missionary, and it felt right.  I remember sitting on a hill at the park, and it was just right.  And I did.  I packed up my stuff and moved to Honduras… to endure the hardest three months of my life.

And then I met Geric.  I met him right before he left to go be a part of YWAM (Youth with a Mission) in Australia.  He came home after his trip and ended up going back to work in Indonesia.  And when he came back from there we really got to know each other when we were on the first missions outreach team at our church together.  And then you have to take into account the place where we fell in love… on a missions trip to Mexico.  I remember (once again) sitting on a hill and watching him dig out steps to the front of a house that we had just built and thinking, “I’m gonna marry that guy.”  And lo and behold,  I did.

Crazy, right?

Because missions are scary.

Honestly, I don’t want to go.

I don’t want to drag my kids to God-knows-where to do God-knows-what.  And raise them to be weird missionary kids.  (No offense Carrie.) I don’t want them to be in a place that’s considered “dangerous.”  I don’t want to take them away from their extended family only to see them once or twice a year for a couple of weeks.  That one seriously breaks my heart. I don’t want to be forced to learn another language, because that’s really hard.  I don’t want to meet new people who are nothing like me and my American ways, and then try to be their friend.

But at the same time, I love Jesus.  And I’ve come to realize that the only reason I’m here on this planet is to serve Him and glorify Him.  And all I really want to do is run hard after Him and His will for my life.

I haven’t even talked to Geric about all of this, although I know he would have our suitcases packed in 10.2 seconds if I told him I wanted to go.  Go where?  Another unknown.

Now that I’ve typed this I want to delete it.  Because I feel like now you’re all going to hold me to it.  Like if I see you out on the streets (out on the streets???  That made me laugh.) But if I do see you out on the streets I feel like you’re going to come up to me and ask when I’m leaving and where I’m going, or if I wussed out.  Don’t do that, k?

I told you in the beginning, this is all a bunch of verbal vomit that may or may not lead to action.

So, yeah, we’re at a crossroads.

 

The Big White Sign of Shame

It came yesterday.

It actually didn’t get hung on our door since Geric was out front fixing a sprinkler, but it got handed to him.

In case you’re lost, “the big white sign of shame” is the sign that gets hung on your door when you’re in foreclosure and they set a date of sale, the date your house gets auctioned on courthouse steps.  Our date is November 3rd.  I’ll be sure to wear my cutest outfit for our date.

Here’s the ironic thing.  Yesterday morning I woke up early (and the kids slept in… praise God!) so I had some time to do a quiet time.  I did my Bible study and read a couple of devotionals and then I felt led to Proverbs 31, so I read that, which is the chapter about the wife of noble character.  I got hung up on verse 25 which says, “She is clothed with strength and dignity; she can laugh at the days to come.”  I love this image.  Here is this amazing woman who daily clothes herself in strength and dignity, holding her head up high.  I want to be like her.  Not only that, but she laughs at the days to come.  She lays her worries aside and knows that God holds her future, so why worry?  Laugh!  Be filled with His joy!

I was so touched by these verses that I actually texted them to a few of my friends.  And while I hope they were encouraged by them, I realized when the sign of shame came, those verses were for me.  I had to keep reminding myself yesterday that God is in control, not me, not the bank, not my real estate agent.  God, and God alone.  And because of that, I can relax.  Not just relax, REJOICE!  He’s not out to get me.  He loves me.  He loves my family.  He wants good for us.  I can laugh at the days to come because He is in control of those very days.

So this morning, I remembered a sermon that Pastor Glen gave one Sunday at our church.  He was talking about 2 Corinthians 4:7-9.

But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us.  We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair;  persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.

We are those jars of clay.  Just a bunch of boring jars of clay.  Yes, we were shaped by the Potter’s hand, but a jar of clay is pretty mundane, pretty worthless.  What makes us special is the treasure inside.  It’s Jesus!

Those verse go on to talk about being pressed, but not crushed, which is exactly where I feel like I am today.  But here’s the amazing part.  Yes, I’m being pressed on every side (like a mafioso with his head in a vice) and I’m not being crushed, but I am a jar of clay, so there are some major cracks forming in the surface.  But you know what shines through?  The treasure inside!  Jesus will shine through today!  I choose Him!  I will not be brought down by my circumstances, but I will lift my eyes to my Maker, My Creator, My Sustainer, My Redeemer, My Restorer, who gives me hope daily and fills me to overflowing with His joy!

Today I choose His joy!

And today I choose to look into His eyes when my circumstances overwhelm me.

And today I choose to hope in Him.

And today I might get a pair of new shoes for our big date.

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Why I’m Not Forever 21

My friend Jessica is going to take family portraits for us this weekend.  So I, of course, was on the hunt for the perfect outfit.  I’ve found it’s easier for me to buy a really cute new outfit and then rummage around in the boys closets to find something that matches me.

What?  It’s true.

Anywho, after I had unsuccessfully scoured a few stores I decided to venture in to Forever 21.  Why, you ask?  Not real sure.  I’m not a regular at Forever 21, but my best guess would be that I was feeling sorta desperate and there is a two-story Forever 21 right down the street from me, so I thought I would give it a go.

Bad idea.

Very, very bad idea.

I just don’t belong there.  And here is a list of my reasons why:

1.  I’m not 21.  I don’t feel like I’m 21.  I don’t even wish I was 21. I really don’t understand why anyone would want to be 21 forever anyway.  I mean, it was cool, but not that cool.  32 is waaaay cooler, right?  Right?  High five?  Anyone?

2.  When I walked in, the salesgirl greeted me and as I looked up and saw her wearing a wide-brimmed black hat with a white feather in it, I thought she was in costume.  I thought she was joking.  Like, she was trying on a go-back or something.  When I realized she wasn’t, I really questioned if that was in fashion.  Then I started to question my own taste in fashion.  Am I totally out?  I swear five minutes ago, I was confident in my own fashion tastes, but I think I might be out. Blogosphere, I beg of you, let me know, am I out?  Are wide-brimmed hats perfectly acceptable indoor attire?

3.  After skimming through a rack of horizontally striped shirts (which was every rack in the whole store, by the way) I looked around and wondered if anyone else thought the music they were playing was just a notch too loud.  I kinda wanted to pull a Ross and gesture the manager with my hands to quiet down and lower the volume just a smidge.  And just the fact that I remember that episode of Friends is probably more proof that I shouldn’t be shopping at Forever 21.

4.  As I was wandering around the store amongst a busload of tiny high school cheerleader-types, I started wondering if I should take the escalator upstairs and browse in the Plus Size section.  I’ve never actually shopped in a Plus Size store or section, but I’m starting to feel like that might be my place.  And since in Forever 21 a size 7 is a real-life size -5, that would make me a size 48.  I’m pretty sure that’s in the plus size section, right?

5.  I started feeling judged by all the cheerleaders.  Like, as they looked at me with my couple of hangers of clothes they secretly thought, “She’s not 21!  Why is she even in here?  Security!”  So, I concocted a story if anyone asked why I was in Forever 21 in the first place.  Why in world would anyone ask???  But if anyone did, I was shopping for my niece, or my little sister, or any other female in my life that is closer to the age of 21, and closer to a size -5.  And then I would tell them that I get carded at Trader Joe’s all the time.  All.  The. Time.

So, anyway, I left Forever 21 without buying a thing.  I actually abandoned my selections in a corner (The wide-brimmed hat girl will probably have to put them with the rest of the go-backs, if she doesn’t try them on and parade around the store wearing them first.)

Instead, bought a really cute top at a much more mature store.

Active.

So, what about you?  Do you still shop at Forever 21?

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Helicopter Parents

I am the first to admit when my kids are out of control.  Really.  I am.  I’ll usually roll my eyes, let out a deep sigh or an “Oh my word!” and quickly remove myself and my kids from the situation… after I’ve threatened them with their lives, that is.

Sunday, however, was not one of those days.

I had met my bestie at the mall and between the two of us we had six boys under 7.  (She had traded in her daughter for her nephew.) Anyway, the boys wanted to play on the playground, even though it was near 100 degrees out, but we allowed it as we sat in the shade and chatted. Soon enough, they came over all red-cheeked and we let them take their shirts off… because they’re boys and they can. That led to playing in the small fountain by the playground, which we also allowed, because like I said it was hellish hot.  I’ve seen plenty of kids play there and I knew it wasn’t against mall policy. We set boundaries; no standing on the fountain and no getting people wet that don’t want to be wet.

They had a blast! They were getting soaked and giggling and yelling with glee and running around chasing each other. Pure childlike fun.  Typical kid stuff, right?

Apparently not.

Apparently, their behavior was disrespectful. Well, according to another mom on the playground, they were completely disrespectful. And I know this not because she confronted either me or my BFF, but because she muttered it as she was walking past us removing her child from being around our little hooligans. She even went so far as to call security to come over. Lame. The security guy came (on his stand-mobile-thing-a-ma-jig) and told us that our kids would probably have more fun at the bigger fountain. He was right, but part of me wanted to stay just to bug this other mother, but we didn’t.

There’s a few names I have for this other mother. One I will not publish on my blog. Another is coward because she couldn’t just come up and tell us her concern. And the last is a helicopter parent.

What is a helicopter parent, you ask?  One that hovers.  One that never lets their child out of their sight.  Which is easily accomplished as a helicopter parent because they never actually let their child further than five feet from their person.  Their kids never take risks because they aren’t allowed… they have boundaries for goodness sakes!  Their kids never make mistakes, because their heli-parent is always there to protect them from failing.  Their kids miss out on a lot of natural kid activity; things like drinking out of the hose, riding their bikes in the street, or digging in the dirt… because God forbid they should eat a little of it… shudder!

One of the biggest problems with helicopter parents is that they are extremely judgy.  Case in point, heli-mommy at the park.  Because she has practically closed the lid on the teeny tiny box that she keeps her kids in, anyone that has slightly wider boundaries for their own children is wrong.  Their kids are misbehaved and unruly, she says.  If heli-parent isn’t a coward, they will probably actually step in and try to parent your kids for you, because Lord knows you aren’t doing a very good job on your own.

Calling them down from the top of a play structure, lest they fall.  Barking at them to slow down as they run through the park, not the mall, the park… a place for running.  Stepping in during disagreements when the children would have actually benefitted from using their own problem solving skills.  These are all things you can catch heli-parent doing as she tries to parent your kids.

What she fails to see is that these other kids, these unruly, disrespectful kids, they are actually normal.  They are exhibiting completely normal childlike behavior.  What she fails to see is that children are not mini-adults that need to be confined and restricted into behaving in a mature way all the time.  They can actually be free to be youthful, and childish, because they are children.      

The biggest problem with helicopter parents are their children that will one say become adults.  They are raising them in such a way that I believe they only have a choice of becoming two types of adults.

One, they will become spoiled brats.  They will think the world revolves around them, they never have anything go wrong, and mistakes are not an option.  The sad part is that things do go wrong, and mistakes will happen, and unfortunately these adults won’t have the tools to handle it.

Secondly, these kids will grow up to become very fearful adults.  Mostly because their parents instilled fear in them by never allowing them to take risks, never allowing them to step outside of their box, and once again never being allowed to feel failure or mistakes.

So, yes, that mom on the playground bugged the be-Jesus out of me and made my blood boil with her judgy attitude and her tattle-telling ways.  I guess I have to walk away thankful that my children will actually experience a real childhood, mudpies for dinner, and all.

Have you ever met a helicopter parent?  What do you think?  Maybe you are a helicopter parent… defend yourself!

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Donate Life

My sister is a registered nurse.  She got a job at an organization called One Legacy about 2 or 3 years ago.  All I knew for a while was that she helped somewhere in the process of getting organs from patients who were declared brain dead, to patients that were waiting in desperate need.  She deals with the “getting” end of the business instead than the “giving” side, so you can imagine she has some really uplifting stories for the Thanksgiving table.  Not…  But she has been able to scare my kids into doing things like looking both ways before they cross the street and not climbing on their dresser.  So, that’s handy.

For awhile I didn’t know much about what she did, because let’s face it, her side is depressing.  And it kinda freaked me out.  We had a conversation one night when we were both spending the night at my older sister’s house and it got so detailed that I made her sleep on the pull out couch with me because I was afraid I was going to have nightmares!

However, things have changed since then.

Remember, Lauren?  Well, she got her new heart and while she still has some ups and downs, she’s doing really well.  Her heart was a miracle, and a life saver.  During the process of waiting for Lauren’s heart I was constantly asking my sister if she knew of anything out there on the horizon that would help Lauren.  She obviously couldn’t tell me any details, but occasionally I would get a text that would just say, “PRAY!” and I would.  And, eventually Lauren’s heart came.  And that, my friends, will go down in the record books and one of the happiest days in my life!

And while my sister wasn’t involved in the case that led to Lauren receiving her heart, she knew about it through me, and I think it was nice for her to be on the happy side for a change.

I do realize that the other side it out there.  I realize that there is a mother out there who lost her baby less than a year ago, and is completely and utterly heartbroken.  I cannot even begin to imagine the anguish of being that mother, and I’m not going to pretend that I do.  That’s my worst fear, that something would happen to one of my kids.  I just don’t know if it’s something that you ever completely heal from.

What I do know about that mother is that she was faced with making a very difficult choice, probably the hardest choice she had to make in her entire life.  And she chose to donate her baby’s organs in order to give life to someone else’s baby.  And for that, I will be forever grateful.

Before all this happened with Lauren I don’t know that I would have made the same choice.  I think seeing your child die is hard enough, but thinking about surgeons operating on them and making them less of their original self, is really hard to wrap your brain around.  And in a moment of tragedy, I’m not sure I would’ve been able to do that.  Now, however, I get it.

I’ve seen the other side.  I’ve prayed with the other mother who desperately needed a miracle.  I’ve fasted with her family pleading with God for a way out.  I’ve felt the helplessness and the knowing that God is the only one who is really in control here.  And because of all of that, because of Lauren and her amazing story, I would give the gift of life if I ever had that choice.

Why am I saying all of this?

Because.  Lauren got her heart, but there is another baby girl in the same hospital that is waiting for her’s.  And there is probably a little boy somewhere in there, too.  And in a different hospital there is more than likely a teenager who is waiting for a set of lungs.  And in a different hospital there is a woman who needs a liver.  These people are everywhere, just waiting.  In fact, right now there are 112,150 people just waiting.  Because, besides praying for a miracle, that’s all they can do.

So, I thought I would use my little (emphasis on little) corner of the blogosphere to raise some awareness and hopefully give you a different perspective.  I know it’s a little bit morbid to think about what’s going to happen to you when you die, but you can make a difference.  You can make a huge difference!  You could save a life.

If you live in California, you can register online here.  If you live outside of California, you can register here.

Think about it.  Pray about it.  And then, go register to be a life giver.

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Family BBQ

Has anyone else noticed that it has taken five times as long to blog about our trip to Northern California than we were actually there?  We were there for less than 48 hours, but I have managed to split this trip up into, what?  Five different posts?  I’m nuts.

Anyway, after the photo shoot at the cabin, we made our way to my uncle’s house for a bar-b-que and some swimming.  I would just like to point out that the memorial had some snacks at it… you know cookies, cupcakes, bottled water.  But it was at 10am.  We all figured we were eating lunch at my uncle’s.  Right?  Would you figure that?

Nope.  He starved us until dinner time.  Not kidding.  Our stomachs could be heard growling from the neighbor’s backyard.  One of my cousins was walking around with a bowl of potato chips because the poor kid was withering away.  I repeatedly told my uncle, “We’re starving out here!”  And nothin’.  Nothin’.  ‘Til dinner.

And then he let me be first in line.  And it was delicious.  Worth the wait?  I don’t know about that.  But delicious.

Here’s some photos for your viewing pleasure.

Here’s everyone sitting around a table.  This is when we thought food would be coming at any minute.  Little did we know about the wait that we were about to endure.

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The kiddos decided to swim (probably to distract themselves from the pangs of hunger.)

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This is my cousin Andy, with his adorable daughter Caroline.  She could be a little model, right?  So stinkin’ cute!

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And here’s some more sitting around a table.  That’s the bowl of potato chips I was talking about.  It’s empty now.

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This is my uncle and I.  He’s also my godfather, and insisted that I called him that the whole day.  “Yes, Godfather…”  “What do you need, Godfather?”  “I’m sorry, Godfather.”  You know, things like that.  And yes, he’s wearing a magnet bracelet.  He’s certain that he cannot be pushed over.  I think next time I see him I’m gonna try a sneak attack to see if it really works.

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Here’s another child model.  So cute, lil’ Emma Bug.

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And here’s Elijah with his Auntie and cousin.

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These boys were like little peas in a pod.  They were pushing each other in a wagon and playing together the whole day.  It was so nice to see them meet each other and get along so well.

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After we ate (it was seriously like a scene out of Survivor the way we all ravaged the table) we had a little photo shoot with all the new cousins.

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Have you seen cuter kids?  Me neither!

And the OG Nelson cousins with our spouses and our offspring.  (Poor Steve is missing because he had to fly home early.)

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More to come tomorrow… and then I swear I’m done with this trip.

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