Thursday, November 06, 2014

Military Family Gratitude Day 6: Sound

Sounds are unique to us all. There are sounds we love and sounds we don't.

One of my favorite sounds is laughter.....more specifically, the laughter of my children. Their laughter is contagious when those giggle boxes are turned on.

I also love the sounds of their unique voices. Carter still has his baby voice.  At four years old, he can't fish. It's tish.  Snake is nake.  I don't fret the mistakes. I know he will grow out of it all too soon.  It seems like only yesterday that Colin was four and saying "geen" instead of green.  Now, at 12, his voice is starting to deepen.  Its raspy one moment and high pitched the next.  My baby boy is growing into a young man.  And Carson....the way he repeats parts of his words.....treee eeee, mor orning.  He still has his little kid voice, but I know soon he will be changing as well.

I love the sound coming from the back seat as they are singing God's Not Dead or Until the Whole World Hears.  I love the sound of meal blessings and bedtime prayers.  I love the sound of sleep talking and laughing about it the next day because they truly believe they didn't say those things.

But the best of all

What I love the most

I love the sound of, "I love you, Mama" fifty times a day.



Wednesday, November 05, 2014

Wives of Faith Military Family Gratitude Day 5: Emotion

I am an emotional person.  Sometimes an emotional mess.  But I am thankful for emotions.  They remind me that I am human, I am real.  There's no faking it.

Emotion is good. Sometimes it doesn't feel that way, but it is.  I have learned not to be led by emotion, but the wisdom of God.  My emotions can mislead me, but God never does.

Wives of Faith Military Family Gratitude: Day 4 - Freedom

I am thankful for the freedom provided by our former military service members.

I am thankful for the freedom provided by our present military service members.

I am thankful for the freedom to be able to worship in the church of my choice.

I am thankful for the freedom to be able to come and go as I please.

I am thankful for the freedom to vote.

I am thankful for the freedom to be able to be the woman God has planned for me.

I am thankful for the freedom that comes from my faith in Jesus Christ.

Tuesday, November 04, 2014

Wives of Faith Military Family Gratitude Day 3: Health

What a blessing it is to be healthy!  I think sometimes we take it for granted.  There is so much that could happen with our health.

About 5 years ago, I had a lot of tenderness in my breast. I was scared. I didn't want to hear the C word.  But finally I went to the doctor. At 32, I had my first mammogram.  I heard a different C word: caffeine.  Yes, folks. My caffeine intake was too high and that's what caused the tenderness.

While my husband was deployed, I came down with Fifth's disease after my oldest son got it.  I was so miserable, but I know it could have been so much worse. Fever and swelling. I had myself self-diagnosed with a blood clot in the leg.  My advice: Don't self diagnose on WebMD. Ever.

My children and husband remain healthy as well.  We've had many scares along the way from asthma to food allergy reactions and from growing pains to a minor knee surgery.  I am thankful each day for our health.


Sunday, November 02, 2014

Wives of Faith: Military Family Gratitude Day 2: Light



I am thankful for the light of a new day. I have learned through the storms of life that "joy comes in the morning.



Military Family Gratitude Challenge Day 1: Friendship

I am thankful for friends both old and new. I am thankful for friends during the changing seasons of life.

I am thankful for those who love my children as their own and allow me to love theirs as my own. Those that our children share friendship as well.

I am thankful for the women I share my life with.
We've laughed together.
We've cried together.
I know we will be through so much more together.



I am thankful for those friends who walked through my first deployment with me. Those who took care of me in ways that others wouldn't.  They may not have understood what it was like, but they stood beside me nonetheless.


I am thankful for friends who share their faith, who face unimaginable battles, but yet, find their strength in Christ and share the story of His love and mercy.


I am thankful for the friends that get your weird sense of humor, those that you share inside jokes with. You know the ones: you can look at each other and tell what the other is thinking.

But yet,when there is no laughter, only tears, they are there to hold your hand. In the messiness of life, they love you anyway.



Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their work:  If one falls down, his friend can help him up. But pity the man who falls and has no one to help him up! Ecclesiastes 4:9-10


Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Book Review: How Can I Possibly Forgive?

I have had the opportunity to join Sara Horn's launch team for her new book How Can I Possibly Forgive? Rescuing Your Heart from Resentment and Regret.  I was excited about this opportunity because I have read other books written by Sara such as My So-Called Life as a Submissive Wife and GodStrong. In those books, I appreciated Sara's use of humor and honesty in her writing.  I felt a connection with her through her personal stories. Therefore, I looked forward to reading her newest book which is available on October 1.

After reading How Can I Possibly Forgive?, I have to say that Sara did not disappointment me.  She used wit and honesty to tell her personal experience with forgiveness.  In her book, Sara did not sugar coat things that she isn't so proud of.  Instead, she told what she did that she wasn't proud of and what a better choice in offering forgiveness should have been.

Throughout the book, Sara Horn also connected her life's experiences with the Bible.  She gave examples from Joseph and Naomi to Jonah. In each example, we can see a correlation to that experience with things that have happened in our own lives. Sara always has a way of showing her readers they are not alone in valleys of life.  This book, like her others, offers hope and shows how we can make better choices to become the people God wants us to be.

One of the things I like about this book is the mini sections I like to call "Five Ways." In each section, Sara offers some suggestions for working through forgiveness.  Such topics include forgiving yourself, letting go of your anger with God, and asking for forgiveness.  Another thing I like about the book is the discussion questions found in the back. These could be used for small groups or for independent reflection and journaling.

We have all had to deal with the issue of forgiveness in our lives and will continue to do so.  This book is a great tool in helping us deal with the hurts that can cause resentment and regret.  I have already begun to talk to others about things I have read in this book to help them with the healing process that comes through forgiveness. This book is also a good tool for helping us have a stronger relationship with Christ and live more like Him, the ultimate example of offering forgiveness.

I highly recommend this book for those looking to learn more about healing through forgiveness.  Sara Horn's books are always insightful and thought provoking.


*****

I received a free copy of this book as part of Sara Horn's launch team for the purpose of an honest review.  I was not required to write a positive review, only to give my honest opinion of the book.

For more information about Sara Horn and her books, visit www.sarahorn.com.


Saturday, September 20, 2014

Missing this space

Seriously, I am.

I am missing being here....writing....sharing....hopefully making a difference.

Life has a way of happening.

Mine happens a lot!

We are smack dab in the middle of soccer.

We are smack dab in the middle of the first quarter of school.

We are living life and loving it.

So, could you forgive me for neglecting this space for the last few weeks?

Forgiveness.....


Do you consider that the "F" word?  Why is it such a difficult word?

I am reading a book right now....

Are you ready????


Sara Horn's new book How Can I Possibly Forgive?

Haven't heard of it?  That's OK, It will be released on October 1.  And can I just say.....It is awesome. I am blessed to be a part of Sara's Launch Team for this amazing book! I can't wait to tell you more about it after I actually finish reading it.

I love Sara's writing.  She's honest, funny, and well, honest.  I appreciate that so much.  When I read her books, it's like having a conversation with a best friend.

And a book on forgiveness.....

Well, isn't that what so many of us need?

For some people, forgiveness is easy.  For others, well, not so much.

Looking at my personal experience with forgiveness, I know of instances when it has been easy to forgive and instances when it hasn't been so easy.  Sometimes it is a pride thing. Sometimes we feel that the act was too unforgivable.  Whatever the reason, it isn't good enough.

I have forgiven family.
I have forgiven friends.
I have forgiven strangers.

Most importantly, I have been forgiven.

When I decided to live my life for Christ, I asked God for forgiveness.  You know that Amazing Grace song?  Well, I'm that wretch it is about.  God saved me and forgave me through amazing grace.  How can I, therefore, deny forgiveness to someone???

Resentment is too hard on the soul.  It isn't worth it.

No, I know life isn't fair. I know we want people to get what they deserve. I see a lot of things on Facebook about Karma.  But payback and heartache are not the answer.  God is our ultimate judge. Let Him deal with it.

I can choose to let go, to forgive the hurt, to move on, and to be free from the burden of a hardened heart, or I can choose to harbor the hurt, to let pride stand in the way, to miss out on the amazing joy that comes from letting go and letting God.

Forgiveness is a God thing.

Unforgiveness is a Satan thing.

Why would we ever let Satan have a stronghold on us like that?

Oh, and I know what you are saying, "But Natasha, you don't know!  You don't have any idea what happened. You don't know my story!"

But I don't have to know your story. I have my own.  And regardless of our stories, I have seen first hand what unforgiveness does to people, to family, to friends.

I know people that have missed out on years of the lives of people they love, all because they chose not to forgive.  They thought it was a punishment to that one person, but unforgiveness affects many people.

Look at it this way.....

I get mad at my brother (Hi, Doug! I'm seriously not mad at you.) because he was careless with our parents' estate.  Now, I don't get my share of the inheritance.  There goes that vacation I wanted. There goes my sons' college funds. There goes.....our relationship. I avoid him. I don't go to family functions because he is going to be there.  I miss out on his children (those innocent bystanders).  I miss out on other family members (more innocent bystanders) because I simply cannot show up somewhere my brother might be.  This goes on for years. A ripple effect of missed opportunities, missed relationships, missed memories.  All because I chose to hold a grudge. I was slighted. I haven't mentioned the fact that I swell up each time his name is mentioned.  The resentment continues when I see those vacation commercials on TV or my kids start talking about college.  Dang it, brother!  It's all your fault.

But forgiving can allow me to move forward. It can help me communicate.  It can help me be aware of people and their intentions. Had I forgiven my brother in this hypothetical example, I could have extended grace to him.  He could have been embarrassed about what had happened and needed my help.  Had I forgiven him, I wouldn't have missed out on sharing life with him and his family.

I think sometimes we feel like if we forgive we are saying to the other person, "It's OK."

I've heard kids say this in the classroom, and it bothers me.  Calling another student "stupid" is not OK.  I realize a child says this because it seems to be the right thing to say.  But we need to have the appropriate response.  We can say, "I forgive you." We can say, "Thank you for the apology." I don't think we should say, "Oh, its OK."

Some people may not realize they have hurt us.  We have the choice to let them know that we were hurt and have forgiven them, or we can just forgive and move on without mentioning it.  I think somethings we definitely need to talk about, but others....just move on.  

Just because I choose to forgive, doesn't make me naive.  I believe that forgiving and moving on doesn't mean that I am going to allow that behavior to happen again.  I may forgive someone for a wrongdoing, but at the same time realize that we do not have a healthy relationship.  I may forgive you for stabbing me in the back, but I am choosing not to keep my relationship with you because I know your heart has not changed and you will probably do it again.  I will continue to pray for you so that you can be the person God intends you to be.

And in all of this....prayer is the key.  Go to God in prayer. Ask him to help you forgive....forgive others....forgive yourself.....seek forgiveness.  Don't deny forgiveness, God didn't deny it when it came to us.

This week, I challenge you to offer grace, the grace found in forgiveness. Can you say this with me....."I forgive you."  Those are life altering words. Try it and see what happens.




Are you interested in Sara's new book?  Find out more information at her webpage.  You can even pre-order an autographed copy.

www.sarahorn.com



Saturday, August 30, 2014

Why, Hello There!

It seems I have neglected this space.  If you've been depending on me, sorry.  Life happens outside of the Internet.  Want to play catch up?

My baby turned 12. Yep. Next July, Colin will be a teenager.....I cringe typing that word. Teenager.  He is an amazing young man and I am so proud of him.

We had our annual Camp Creative again at church. This year's theme was God's Creative Exodus.  I taught the cake decorating class again.  The little ones made frog cupcakes, the middle group made Ten Commandment cakes and the big kids made cakes with a basket weave design. The youth girls made a "Moses Parts the Red Sea" cake.  

We spent a fun Sunday with Jeff's unit in Nashville.  It was sooooo hot.  Thankfully, the firefighters that came to visit with the children turned on the water hose.  If the wind blew just right, oooohhhhh, the mist felt so good.

Fall soccer has started. Honestly, shouldn't we play fall soccer in the fall?  Its been at least 2 weeks since we've had a practice or game due to the heat.  You really shouldn't have fall soccer in the summer.  

We had a back to school painting party where we each painted pencils for our classrooms.  It was fun and good to hang out with the other teachers before school started.  School is in full swing now.  New teammate. New principal. New assistant principal. New students. New year. I am hoping for a good year for me and the boys. Colin is in 7th grade. He has joined the robotics team. I think he will be on the academic team as well.Carson is in 3rd grade.  I hope he will be able to be in GT Art again this year. Carter has started preschool.  He is learning so much already and doing things for Mrs. Terri that I could never get him to do.


I think our biggest news is that Jeff finally completed and turned in his active duty packet.  A few things happened that finally got us to that decision. But all in all, we believe this is what God want us to do. Just pray for us!  We are now going to play that hurry up and wait game!


Somebody is getting old. Had to get glasses.

Until next time....


Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Being A Mom is Tough Blog Hop

P31 OBS Blog Hop

For my regular readers, I am taking part in the Being a Mom is Tough Blog Hope.  We are reading Lysa TerKeurst's book Am I Messing Up My Kids? For my new guests, WELCOME!  I'd like to introduce you to those boys who call me Mom.

Colin, Carson, and Carter.  These are my boys, and I am their Mama.  It seems that when I go into daycare or a store or to the park, I hear, "There's Carter's Mom, " or "Hey, Colin's Mama."  Sometimes, when I leave a message on my cousin's voice mail, I don't say my name, but I say, "Hello, this is Colin, Carson, and Carter's Mom. Give me a call  back when you get a chance." Regardless of where we are, I am usually defined by being their mom.  

I do have a name.  My name is Natasha.  And this is me with ALL of by boys.  My husband Jeff is the lucky man who God chose to be the daddy of these boys and the husband of this mama/wife. 
My boys are simply amazing.  What mama wouldn't say that?  

Colin is my firstborn. You know, the one that you made sure everyone washed their hands with before they held him.  The one that you had no idea what you were doing with and wondered if you were even smart enough to mix the formula with water to feed him.  Colin and I spent many, MANY sleepless nights together.  The kid seriously quit sleeping when he came home from the hospital.  He napped while I fed him.  People would always ask, "Do you get to sleep when he sleeps?"  I just laughed (really wanted to cry), "Shoot no!  The kid never sleeps!"  He's the kid that "slept" in the middle of our king size bed for his first 3 years, just so I could sleep. We would put a movie in the VCR, push play, and go to sleep.  Then at whatever time the movie went off, Colin would wake us up to rewind it and start again.  See, the kid never slept.  Don't forget the colic. Oh, colic how I hate thee! Now that he is almost 12, and it's summer, he is sleeping in....a little just because he stays up half the night.  Colin is a very tenderhearted young man.  He has accepted the Lord as his Savior and is very involved in church, serving as an usher and the drummer for the youth praise band.  He plays baseball and soccer. Colin has been on the Academic Team for 3 years, he was on the robotics team for 2 years, and has just returned from his third trip to Space Camp. This summer he earned his first real paycheck for running the sound equipment for a wedding at our church. Now, if I could just get him to clean his room. I know things get tough for him because he is the oldest.  He is paving the way for his brothers.  They get in is space when all he wants is to be away from them.

Carson is my middle child.  Although he is eight years old, he is still very much my baby.  After Carson was born, he was rushed to NICU due to fluid in his lungs.  It was very scary for us, and he still has problems to this day.  He has to have breathing treatments when the weather changes or he will get sick. Living in south central Kentucky where we can experience all four seasons in one week can pose major health risks for him.  We have to be very cautious even with  a runny nose or slight cough.  It's hard for family to understand that we don't visit much due to the cigarette smoke. He has asthma and is allergic to nuts and peanut butter. So, I carry around an EpiPen and inhaler everywhere we go.  Carson is very matter of fact.  Repetition is pointless if he already knows something (Seriously, the two weeks his kindergarten teacher made him trace his name was torture....on both of us.).  In first grade, he was placed into a small reading intervention group because he was having trouble with nonsense words.  I just had to laugh.  Nonsense words??? Are you kidding?  If they don't really exist and he is already reading on a 3rd grade level, Carson doesn't care about nonsense words! Carson loves science.  He loves to read. He learns things, and I'm like, "What?  Where did you learn that?"  He's taught me stuff that I actually had to look up because I just couldn't believe he would know something like that.  Carson is a very neat kid.  He has the advantage of being able to do things with Colin and be a "big kid" or do things with his little brother.  When my youngest child was born, I had to take Carson out of daycare.  He would get up with me during the middle of the night to help me with diapers and bottles. He became my shadow and developed a bond with his baby brother.  I am curious to see what Carson will do as he gets older.  He is such a homebody like his mama, but he loves to learn.  He can be quite a character too! He has the most awesome Charlie Brown dance you have ever seen!
  
My youngest son is Carter.  The baby.  Yes, he is four years old, and I still call him The Baby. He asked me the other day if he was a toddler. I informed him he was actually a Preschooler, still though, my baby.  Carter arrived a little early after we found out I had been losing amniotic fluid.  The boy hasn't stopped going since the day he was born.  He is VERY active, VERY rowdy, and VERY funny. You never know what is going to come out of his mouth. The boy loves to play...play outside, play toys, play iPad, play soccer, play baseball, play, play, play.  If you want an adventure, take him to play some miniature golf.  Oh, my!  The first time we took him, we were all sweaty and tired. He and Carson both loved every minute of it and were like wild animals let out of a cage.  During that vacation, I think we played at Goofy Golf every single night!  Carter doesn't realize how little he is.  Being the youngest, he has always been around older kids.  He thinks when Colin's friends come over that they are there to play with him.  He is our social creature.  But you have to be careful around him.  He likes to hit, and he hits hard, in places he shouldn't. We are working on that.  We were embarrassed when he brought his barber to his knees at the ball park one night.  I didn't know whether to laugh or cry. He comes ups with something new to say or do all the time. Right now, he is stuck on "Mama, smell my pain."  After saying that, he then shoves something in my face to smell: an armpit, foot, or his butt.  Good times!  But he is definitely my cuddle bug.  We have our routines. We have our "Mommy and Carter Time" because well, it is special to him and he has to have it.  He is definitely a mama's boys.

I absolutely LOVE being a mom.  It is definitely tough.  My kids are no angels and I am no saint. So, yes, things get a little hairy.  They disobey. I fuss. They keep on. I fuss a little louder.  They keep on. I yell.  They tell me I am mean and don't like it when I yell, and I tell them, they are disrespectful and I don't like it when they don't obey me. If they would just do what I said the first time I said it, our lives would be so much simpler!  There are times we are laughing, calm, having a good time, and all of sudden, they are ready to get each other.  I am prying kids off of kids, and swatting butts, and yelling, and they are yelling, and slapping at each other.  It's in those moments I'm like, "Wait! What just happened?"  We all totally lost it in a matter of seconds.  

Sometimes it is so hard to remember that my kids aren't these perfect creatures, that they will disobey and fuss and fight and not make good choices.  That is difficult when I know they know better.  Sixth grade about killed me this year. As a teacher, I take pride in the fact that my kids know (well, should know) what parents and teachers expect, and I had the allusion they would always do the right thing.  But when Colin chose not to do his work for reading the last quarter, I about died.  What? One of the smartest kids in his class?? An F in reading??? He chose not to do the work???? Oh, this mamateacher wasn't going to have it.  It about killed us both, but he brought the F up to a B.  Whew! That was close. 
There are times I wonder where these kids get their stubbornness, their fits of rage, their attitude. Then I look in the mirror and realize that I am the problem.  And honestly, I ask myself on a daily basis, "Am I messing up my kids?"  As a mom, that is a major fear of mine.  Am I going to be too strict? Will I not be strict enough when I need to be?  Will I say something that will ruin their perceptions of themselves? Will they doubt my love for them? Am I able to raise them to be the men God intends for them to be?

God has entrusted me with these children. He chose me to be their mom.  God's ways are perfect, and He doesn't mess up. Why then do I doubt that I can be the mother these kids need me to be?  I know that Satan is fighting for my children just like I am.  I don't want him to get his hands on them, but I worry that my actions will allow him to.  I know I need to lean on God to be the mom I am supposed to be.  I know that if I truly seek Him, God will restore my, refresh my perspective, and guide me.

I am thankful for God's mercy. I need His forgiveness daily.  I need to not define myself by my mistakes, but take heart in the good moments, those moments that really build my children up.  I have to stop expecting everything to be great and calm and easy all the time.  That's not realistic.  There are going to be days of sibling rivalry, disobedience, and flat out defiance.  There are going to be days they don't clean up their toys, put their dirty dishes away, or clean the pee off the toilet seat.  There are going to be days where we feel like we are going to pull our hair out if we have to spend one more moment together.  But there are also going to be the days we laugh together, swim together, play together. There will be the days we give hugs, kisses, and high fives.  There will be the days we pray together, sing together, and encourage one another.  Those are the days I need to draw my strength from.   I need to dwell on those days, not the tough days.  Those tough days are for learning, for forgiving, for moving on.

No matter what day I am having, I am thankful. Thankful that God gave me an amazing husband and allowed us to be the parents of these precious children.