A Beautiful Mess

A Beautiful Mess

Many, many of you have asked for updates on the situation with our daughter.  I have been hesitant to talk any more about it for several reasons.

1. There really is not much to tell since there have not been any significant changes.
2. Like I said in my original post, I only want to share my own story and not speak for anyone else.  (I have received a few emails of criticism for that, which puzzles me because I was only trying to respect the others in this situation.  But I certainly do NOT think this is all about me….in fact I think very little of it is about me at all, but a mother’s heart can break over her child no matter how old the child is and if you don’t understand that then you are blessed not to have felt this pain).
3. I don’t want it to be the focus of my blog.

BUT….I am not hesitant to share how incredible God is and that His hand has been so obvious through all of our sorrow and tears.  Despite the overwhelming agony of loss, the unspeakable joy that has cropped up all around me has to be shared!

mess01

In the beginning of this trial I asked Him to make me an empty vessel through which He could pour out His beauty and grace.  And He has used this situation to grant that prayer.  But let me warn you, before you pray that…..be ready for your world to be shaken up big time!  You can’t be empty if you are hanging onto idols in your life with a vice grip.  Trust me, I am the queen of that.  My knuckles are still sore from trying.

So, while I still hurt deeply, I am also experiencing a depth of faith that I didn’t understand before.   I know a greater joy through many blessings including a deeper, richer relationship with our other adult children who have stood by and supported the hard decisions that we have had to make.  I have learned to lean on God when things around me look bleak.  There is story after story I could tell you about how He has shown Himself to all of us in amazing ways.  Here are a few examples:

One afternoon I was crying in my bathroom and one of the boys heard me.  He knocked on the door and asked if he could pray with me.  He put his arms around me and cried with me and we prayed.  Suddenly, we both instantly felt a surge of strength and the burden lift.  Really…it was an actual physical lifting and a surprise to us both. We pulled back and looked at each other in amazement.  Afterwards my son offered me some incredible Biblical advice that was wise beyond his years. It gave me huge comfort!  God is using my pain to help turn my son into a man and draw closer to Him…..wow!

During my time at the Summit several older women approached me and asked how I was doing.  They knew about our situation and wanted to encourage me.  These wise women poured the love of God into me and I could so clearly see that He gave me these friends a year before this happened because He knew how much I would need them now.  To have godly women who have been in my shoes tell me that I am on the right path and not to lose hope…..priceless!

One more story….on Friday night at the Oklahoma Summit the team members (me included) were standing in the front of the ballroom ready to pray for the women there.  I had prayed with a couple of ladies and was standing there waiting when a women came up to me….I was ready to lift her up, but she said that she came to pray for me!  She offered the sweetest prayer and words of encouragement to me!  I wept on her shoulder.  It felt like God sent an angel.

I could go on and on….almost every day since this all began He has used someone (many of YOU!) to lift me up and show Himself.  And every single time I am reminded of His love and I want to shout it from the rooftops!  GOD IS GOOD!!!!

Then I want to pour it all right back out to you.

When you are struggling with anything….ANYTHING….He is there to comfort you.  His Word is a balm that I crave more and more as I walk this path.  Don’t underestimate the power of the revealed Will of God.  Some things are so hard to see….but there is SO much that is right there in front of you.

Deuteronomy 29:29 says His ways are not just for us, but for our children! It is His will that we tell the truth (Ex 20:16), that His mercy does not depend on anything I do (Romans 9:14-24), He does not tempt us (James 1:13), that there is only one way to be saved (Mark 16:16), and much more!

I share those with you so that you know that when you can’t figure out what His will is for you, you always know what He reveals to us in His Word.  It’s a great place to start!  Then He will unfold the rest as you need it.

mess02

The bottom line is…..I don’t trust myself.  I make mistakes, I mess things up, I can look back on any part of this ordeal and see things I could have done differently and probably should have.  Yes, often I hear from God through the Holy Spirit and I do my best to make sure it’s not my own thoughts then step out in faith.  It’s all I can really do if I want peace, put my trust in God….I know that He will work it all for my good and for the good of those who love Him (Romans 8:28).  I try my best and then leave the rest in His hands.

Thanks so much to all of you for being so willing to let God use you to bless our family!  I pray that it is coming back to you 100-fold.  And I pray that when you face trials that feel like you can’t survive that you find comfort and peace in the Word of God and His mercy and grace.

Now, back to our regular, lighter posts……

 

One Down, One to GO!

One Down, One to GO!

I am in a post-Summit stupor.

Last weekend I was in San Marcos, TX for the Homeschool Moms’ Winter Summit and it was incredible!  God blessed each and every person there in individual ways to encouraged us all in our mothering and in our relationship with Him.

I can’t tell you how blessed I am to be a small part of this ministry.  It gets to the core of what I feel called to do…..to minister to hurting moms and women that are running the race of wife, mom, friend and child of the one true King.  I get to spend the weekend hugging and praying and loving on these ladies and make new friends and spend precious time with old ones.

On Thursday morning my three daughters and I left the house to drive 3 hours to start setting up.  Since James was gone for the day on business, that left the 5 boys alone.  I wasn’t completely comfortable with it, but we did what we could to prepare them.  I gave them school assignments, we prepped their food and had some movies for them to watch.  Frankly, I just hoped they wouldn’t burn the place down.

Once there, the girls and I ran around for 2 days helping the team set up for the conference and it was a doozy of a job!  At the last minute some key people had a crisis and couldn’t be there.  The few that were left filled in where we could and actually pulled it off despite flying by the seat of our pants.

I ended up on stage a lot giving announcements or introducing the next speaker, so I decided to take selfies while I was at it.

txsummit03

Who doesn’t love a good selfie from the stage?!

There were many tears and lots of laughter and everywhere you went you could see women praying together and pouring into each other.  I am just so glad God allows me to be a part of it.

On Saturday night, we have my favorite part of the weekend….Girls’ Night Out.

First it’s a pajama party, which I prepared for by getting myself some footie pajamas.  In fact, just down the hall from our event was a beautiful Quinceanera going on.  So my friend Sheri convinced me to tiptoe down and get my picture taken with the belle of the ball…..her dress was like a fairy tale!  And mine too…depending on what tale you’re reading.

txsummit01

After the silliness (which I can’t reveal the details of because it’s a surprise for this next weekend’s attendees in Oklahoma) we sat down for some deep Titus 2 time.  Older women teaching younger women to love their husbands and children, be self-controlled and pure, etc.  I love, LOVE this part of the Summit

txsummit05Left to right is Lyndsay Lambert, Susan Chrisman, Shirley Quine and Roxanne Parks.  It was a powerhouse of wisdom!

And now I have had three days to recover and I am off to the Oklahoma Summit….there’s still time to get in on the goodness and come!

Also, the boys survived and the house was fully intact and even pretty clean when we got home on Sunday night.

It doesn’t get much better than that!

Some Essential Oils You May Not Have Tried AND a GREAT Giveaway!

Some Essential Oils You May Not Have Tried AND a GREAT Giveaway!

Y’all know I love me some Young Living essential oils.  To me it’s not just a substitute for OTC medications, but a lifestyle choice.  We need help and support in many areas besides being sick.

I use them to help us with attitude, stress, prayer, so many areas!

I start the diffuser each morning with oils that I feel led to use.  Sometimes it’s Thieves (if we’re coming down with something) or Purification (if we’re needing a good airing out), but most often I use oils that encourage a healthy attitude.

Many of you have asked me, “Is it new age-ish to say that the oils affect your mood?”  To that I say definitely NOT!  When you smell the oils, the airborne molecules interact almost immediately with the brain and the limbic system.  The limbic system is directly connected to those parts of the brain that control heart rate, blood pressure, breathing, memory, stress levels, and hormone balance.  That explains a lot about how they affect your moods and responses.

If we’ve been struggling with getting attitudes, I love these two oils, Motivation and Harmony, in the diffuser.  I have it going in the living room so everyone can get the benefits.  That’s what is so great about the diffuser…the whole family reaps the benefits!

Great ideas for what essential oils to use to support a healthy home environment

Speaking of harmony….occasionallywe do struggle with getting along.  The younger boys especially tend to get fussy with each other.  So I grab some Humility and Forgiveness and rub it on the back of their necks.  Then we pray together and work on learning to love one another.

Great uses for essential oils in the home

Another important way we use the oils is with our homeschool.  I adore Brain Power and Motivation for diffusing during school.  If we are really struggling I will also put it on the bottom of their feet or on their wrists.

Oils you may not have tried before!

The last common way we use the oils that I want to share is specifically for the girls.  With this many women in the house, we need a way to get through those, you know, certain times.  So we lean on our two favorites, Dragon Time and Clary Sage.  We use it topically both on the bottoms of our feet and wherever we are dealing with an issue (i.e. across the abdomen or lower back).

Some tips for using essential oils you might not have tried!

Because I want to help you increase your knowledge of the oils, I have teamed up with other bloggers and once a month for the next 3 months we will all share ways we use them.

Some interesting essential oils that you may not have tried!

AND we are pulling together to give away a Thieves Kit….you will LOVE it!!!  I only clean with Thieves anymore.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Be sure to pop over to the other blogs and check out how they use these amazing oils!

If you are interested in getting started with Young Living oils click HERE to sign up.  I have a GREAT incentive to join this month.  I am sending my favorite reference book, one of my essential oil shelves AND a $20 credit to your account after you sign up with a Premium Starter Kit by Jan 31, 2015.  My member # is already on the form (just in case, it’s 1386112).  Here’s a post where I share more about the oils in that kit.

Staying Warm in Winter

Staying Warm in Winter

Today I have a YouTube video for you with tips for dressing warmly while still wearing dresses.  There are tons of options for you if you prefer wearing dresses even in the cold temperatures.

Happy dressing!

Be sure to follow me on Facebook for more modesty ideas!

Joy Comes in the Morning!

Joy Comes in the Morning!

“Weeping may stay for the night, but rejoicing comes in the morning.” Psalm 30:5

I spent the past weekend in the beautiful city of Greenville, South Carolina for the Allume conference.  I think of it as a women’s retreat for bloggers.  It’s definitely not like any other blog conference I have been to.  It’s heavy on worship and seeing yourself through Christ’s eyes and light on SEO and social media tips.

And it was exactly what I needed.

It’s been a month since our daughter left and the grief and shock are just beginning to lift.  The hundreds of emails and comments you all have sent have lifted my heart like you can’t even imagine.  I read them all and share them with my family and we pray for those of you who are going through a similar situation.

IMG_1158[1]

At the conference I got to spend time with dear friends that know me so well.  They have prayed over me and cared for me as I walked through this difficult time.  What a gift it was to be with them in person and just leave it all behind for a few days.  We prayed, we worshiped, we laughed ourselves silly.  I even danced.  Hip hop.  Yes, I am a Diva-in-Training.

I came home with a fresh outlook and today, for the first time in a month, I don’t feel like I am dragging myself through the house pretending to be thinking about something else instead of the grief of our situation..  I truly am finding good in the sadness and I am excited to share the joy with my family and give them something to do besides be steeped in sorrow.

One thing I have realized is that I can’t let someone else’s decisions affect my joy.  It would have sounded impossible to me a month ago, but I have learned that I don’t have to let even something this devastating, a break in one of my most valued relationships, tear me away from living a life filled with glory and joy.

I know.  Easier said than done.  Whew!  It’s definitely a process.

I really, really, really want to give you the gift of knowing that you are not alone.  In your trials and desperate situations, you are treasured.  There is a God who cares about your deepest pain.  There is One who you can always turn to.

And you know what?  I care too.  And so does my family and I am guessing a whole lot of other people.

As I prepare for the week ahead, filled with activity and appointments, I know that I have a source of peace and comfort.  Look around you, it’s there!

For instance, just a few minutes ago one of my boys asked me the funniest question and we both laughed so hard.  That is the good stuff.  My three daughters at home and I have become so much closer through this, isn’t that sweet?  My marriage is becoming a testimony of strength through hard times.  There is so much good in the bad.

 

joy01

Let us pray for you if you need it.  Leave a comment here and many others will pray too.  I just know it.

Be blessed!!!!

 

Facing My Fears

Facing My Fears

Well, I finally turned in my first draft of my book.  It’s been one of those, “Be careful what you wish for” kinds of things.

I have always dreamed of writing a book.  And when I read books it seems so easy.  It’s also easy to sit in my recliner and watch the winter Olympics.  But not so easy to actually do.

It’s been more like an act of service than a living the dream.  But still very satisfying.

Last weekend while the girls and I were at the coast we decided to walk out on the dock across from our house.  It looked so nice from the balcony.  But when I stepped up to it I froze in fear.  It was a very long plank of worn wood with nothing to hold onto.  And by hold onto I mean grip with all my might until my finger ache.

As we started to cross, the girls were chatting it up behind me just skipping and enjoying the ocean.  “No talking. please,” I said,  “I need total concentration so I don’t die.”

dock

 

I inched my way across, not letting myself look at anything but the board directly in front of me.  “Don’t look up….don’t look around….” I kept telling myself. When I was a kid I had an extreme fear of water.  A few years of swim lessons helped, but I still can’t breathe when I watch a movie about someone underwater.  I would be the only person in the world to die from holding my breath in a theater while watching “Dolphin Tale 2.”

My friend who owned the house later told me, “If it helps, the water there is only about three feet deep.”

Nope.  That doesn’t help at all.

I made it across the dock, spent time on the pier with the girls watching the birds and talking about life and God’s goodness and then {cue horror music} I had to get back across.  I let the girls go first and after they were all the way across I just did it….one step at a time.  There’s definitely a metaphor for life in there somewhere.

Speaking of dread, today when I hit the send button on my book I felt that same irrational fear of death.  Why?  You can’t die from a bad book.  Wait, can you?

Wait.  Not that my book is bad.  I hope I hope.

Fear is a funny thing.  It doesn’t have to make sense.  God knew that we all would struggle with this.  I read somewhere that fear is mentioned over 365 times in the Bible.  Wowsa!  No denying that we are to fear not by leaning on Him!

Isaiah 41:10 “Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”

I am learning a lot lately about what I am afraid of and how much I need to put my faith in God and God alone.  I walked all the way across that dock and back again.  I was so proud of myself and my girls clapped for me.  They knew I was petrified and it was a huge blessing to show them that I could do something that really scared me.

Although let’s not get crazy…..I still don’t know if I could have done it if anyone was talking to me.

 

Time and Texts….Oh the Mystery

Time and Texts….Oh the Mystery

I can’t believe how quickly October is flying past.  While it will be remembered as one of the worst times in my life, it is also God’s mercy that I look back and realize that weeks have slipped by without my noticing.

When that happens I always think of those newborn baby days that seem soooo long then you realize your baby is 6 weeks old and you can’t imagine how that is possible.  Time is a weird thing, huh?

This past weekend I took my three girls to the beach for a weekend of encouragement and refreshment.  We had been planning it for a couple of months and while we missed our sister, it was a wonderful time for the four of us.  We watched DVDs from the True Woman Conference and talked about what God is doing in each of our lives.  I loved hearing how each girl was being blessed by the teachings and what they were learning.

beach01

One of the conference sessions was about the history of feminism and it was so funny to hear the different perspectives from the four of us.  For my girls it was a fascinating history lesson but for me it was a flood of memories.  I remember hearing “I am Woman Hear Me Roar” over and over on the radio.  I remember Virginia Slims telling women that they deserve their own, thinner cigarette.  I used to roll up strips of paper and pretend I was smoking…..”I deserve this,” I would think as I took a long, pretend draw on my symbol of adulthood.  Oh how things have changed!

But the main focus of the conference was about putting our eyes on God and not ourselves.  Embracing who we were created to be instead of fighting for our freedoms.  It was amazing and the timing couldn’t have been better.  All four of us walked away with a sense of knowing that we are safe in the arms of a loving Father who leads us with a wisdom that we can’t fully understand.

And to watch it all with the ocean waves splashing in our view……that made it perfect.

God knew exactly what we all needed.

Of course.

My boys were at home fending for themselves (aka eating nachos and playing wii) and texting me constantly.  “Hola Mamacita” and “Where is the ketchup?” kind of texts.  One of my boys really loves to text with me, but he doesn’t really get text etiquette.  He will say something to me, “What are you doing right now?” and I won’t see it or reply right away.  After about three seconds he will text again, “Hello????!!!!”  But if I am driving or running or sleeping I still won’t see it.  So three more seconds, “???????????????!” and so it goes for 20+ more texts from him.

But in typical homeschool mom fashion it has led me to mentally develop a class on texting, phone calls and other social interaction.

Bam!

Some challenges are much easier than others.

This week I am frantically finishing up the last of my book to send it to my editor for feedback.  All of this family drama has put me behind, but God knew this was coming and He has given me this extra week to say what He wants to say in the book.  I only THINK I am writing it.

Have a great week and may God minister to your heart the way He has mine over the past few days.

Be sure to follow me on Facebook for more encouragement!

 

 

What Makes You Smile?

What Makes You Smile?

There are three things that always make me smile….always.

1. The sound of my kids laughing together
2. Big, white, puffy clouds
3. Any movie with Doris Day in it

What is it about Doris Day that just makes you happy?  And her clothes….oh man I don’t even care that they are all 60s and outdated….I would wear any of those things in a heartbeat.

doris

Our weekend was beautifully simple.  One of my daughters & I went to the city on Saturday to return her friend to the airport and see a movie.  We previewed “Dolphin Tale 2″, which I really liked.  For sure we will rent it when it comes out.  I doubt we will see it in the theater though….taking 11 people to the movie is too expensive.  It would come down to a choice between Dolphin Tale 2 or paying last month’s electric bill.

But I should go ahead and add dolphins to my above list because I always smile when I see dolphins.  They are just so happy!

Since James had a big tax deadline on Monday he was kind of “gone” all weekend, so I took advantage of the time to myself on Saturday night by taking a simple course about Facebook marketing.  I think it will come as no surprise that I ended up with a great big old headache by the end of the evening.  Insights and statistics are not something I catch onto easily.  I went to bed, but the headache rolled over into Sunday morning and by the time church was over I was ready to dunk my brain in a tub of ice water.

A friend at church asked me if I was feeling OK and I told her I had a headache.  “Oh,” she said, “”Do you think it’s allergies?”  “No,” I replied, “It’s Facebook.”

I came home and instead of the ice water trick I rubbed myself down with essential oils.  There’s a great headache remedy that I really like and wish I had thought of it the night before.

headache-oils

I used the oils and laid down on my bed and watched a movie with my good friend Doris in it.  Headache-gone.

Today I am all better and I hit the ground running,  Literally.  I went for my morning run at 6:30AM.  The problem is that it’s dark now at that time and I am going to have to rethink my mornings.  The possibility of getting hit by a car is not worth staying in shape.  So I am looking for some new exercise DVDs.  I love my TTapp, but I’d like to try something new so I can alternate.

This is my last week of peacefulness before the storm of travel hits.  For the next 5 weeks I will be either traveling or having guests or my kids have activities.  Our family calendar looks like a scrap quilt of appointments and plans.  So my plan of attack is to sleep this entire week and hope for the best.

Have a good one!

 

Five Women and a Flat Tire

Five Women and a Flat Tire

Because I can’t let a drama go by untold, I have to share with you the flat tire incident from Tuesday night.

My friend Sara and I took two of my daughters to the city to pick up their friend from the airport.  We shopped and we ate and we went to Costco….you know.  City stuff.

We stayed all day and into the night for a meeting hosted by Young Living.  We dropped the girls at the mall (a first for us!) and Sara and I met another friend and went to the meeting where we stood in the back of a very crowded room. It was loud (people wouldn’t stop talking to each other) and hot.  So we decided to slip out and visit for a while instead.  Sitting and talking is always better than standing and sweating, at least in my book.

After a nice visit we left to pick up the girls, make a couple of quick stops and then head toward home.  We were looking forward the extra hour’s drive to talk a little more.  Really, it’s all about getting our words out for the day.

We were having great fellowship when it happened.  We had a full fledged blow out going 75 MPH.  I wasn’t speeding, that’s the speed limit on the highway here….about 30 miles down the road it changes to 80.  Tell your kids.  It can count as a geography lesson for the day.  “Which state has 80 MPH speed limits?”

It was after 10 at night, so dark doesn’t describe it.  More like pitch black.  Well, except for the Mack trucks and SUVs racing past at 75 miles per hour creating flashes of scary light.  And our cell phones which we were using to find things we dropped in the weeds.

Now I think the last time I had a flat tire I was in college.  I drove a Cutlass Supreme and the spare was where all spares belong, in the trunk under a flap of carpet.  It seems that all of the improvement over the past 30 years had led to a move from the trunk to who-knows-where.  Turns out my spare is up UNDER the van and the way you release it is through a hole between the driver’s seat and front passenger seat.

You know, I have always wondered what that 2″ circle of plastic was for.  Now I know it’s to fit a long socket thingy that looks nothing like the picture in the manual to unscrew a mystery spare tire holder that, unless you are lying flat on the ground under the van, you can’t get it out.

Nice.

I might also mention that we had to unload our entire van full of groceries and various other items onto the side of the road to get to the tire changing tools.   We looked like modern day Clampetts minus the gun and dog.

After half an hour of figuring out the spare tire situation a sheriff pulled up behind us.  He was so nice and he actually ended up changing the tire for us.  Of course, we had already done all of the hard work in locating the spare through the mysterious hole in the floor.

An hour or so later, we loaded the groceries, luggage, shopping bags and 5 tired ladies back into the van and agonizingly drove only 55MPH all the way home.  The sheriff had explained to me that you can’t go faster than that on a spare.  We finally made it home around 11, which in Lisa time means WAY past bed time.

The next morning I asked my oldest son if he would take the van to the tire place and get it all fixed back to the way it was before any of this ever happened., which he did.  I do realize that sounds like I don’t do any work, but keep in mind I spent 20 years raising him.  Not dealing with tire cleanup is is my reward for years of diapering and nose wiping and hurting my back pulling him in a wagon.

Have a great weekend!

Oh…..and be sure to check out this week’s YouTube video!  In it I talk about not letting your emotions control you (a concept I used on Tuesday night for sure!)

 

I’m Keyless

I’m Keyless

The conference this past weekend was a great family activity.  The kids especially loved seeing their friends and hanging out at the conference hotel until 2AM Saturday night playing games and singing.  I do not especially like staying up until 2 in the morning since it makes for a very grumpy mom, so I was in bed by 10:00.  Oh the joy of having kids who can drive themselves home.

We heard a lot of great speakers and ate a lot of hamburgers.  I got salad with chicken, of course, but the kids ate their weight in burgers.  For some reason they didn’t want to go home and eat leftovers when their friends were all going to Fuddrucker’s.  I agree really….the fellowship is the best part of these conferences!  But I’ve eaten enough Fuddrucker’s to last me a year.

We also had a family staying at our house so that meant people coming and going all day long.  I tried to run back and forth between home and hotel so my older kids could just enjoy the weekend.  It would have been nice to spend more time at the conference, but laundry waits for no man.  We invited different families over for meals during the weekend also, so that really kept things hopping.

On Sunday there was a church service to wrap up the conference and our whole family went, but I wasn’t feeling great so I decided to leave right after the service with the little boys and go on home, letting the rest of the family linger and say their goodbyes.

Here’s where I should tell you that I don’t carry a house key.  I really never need one because there’s always either someone at home or a pre-arranged hidden key (don’t bother looking for it….it’s a very complicated hiding process).  But I didn’t think about it yesterday so when I got home I realized I was locked out.

This is not the first time it’s happened.  And before you tell me how simple it would be for me to just GET A KEY, we have tried that.  But every time I go make myself a key something happens to it, someone borrows it, I forget it….the list of keylessness issues goes on and on.

I have thought before of getting one of those keyless entry locks, but two things stop me.  1. They cost like $100 and 2. They are ugly.

I may go back to trying to carry a house key.  But I think we can all see how that will go.

I did manage to get into the house.  I won’t tell you how, but just know it involved a metal bowl and some gardening shears.

One thing I especially loved about the weekend was that the rains brought cooler weather.  It was in the 80s all weekend which pretty much equals heaven in this part of Texas in September.  There’s nothing like a 100+ degree drought to make you glad for the teeniest bit of cool moisture.

We are looking forward to a quiet-ish week of normal-ish activity.

What do you have going on?!