welcome friends.....thanks for popping in my world....
I'd love to know you've stopped by, so please note that the comment section is now found at the title of each post.

What if?

So we switched over our insurance companies a few months ago. We have five vehicles to insure, one being our camper and one being Gunner's truck that is still not yet registered. So I asked the agent what sort of insurance should we get, if any, on this truck seeing as though it is just sitting in our yard for now. I mean, it's a decent truck.....but I am pretty sure it is not on the top ten list for stolen vehicles right now. (the flat tire might divert most car thieves if they have a decent escape plan lined up too). She suggested this minimal coverage policy......you know, just in case it's stolen, vandalized or a tree happens to fall on it.

Who really worries about a tree falling on your car?

Uh......apparently we should.

This tree came crashing down about 2 feet from Gunner's truck this past Monday during a wicked rain/wind storm. Thankfully it missed it, but of course it couldn't fall on the big pile of crap we have on that side of the yard....it fell on a perfect brand new roll of fencing and crushed it like tin foil. neat.

To give you a little perspective (the photo doesn't show it too well).....but the part of the tree that is lying down is approximately 30 feet long.....it snapped about 15-20 feet up. So that was a whole lotta tree coming down. And it only about 10 feet from our driveway and about 20 feet from one of our barns.

Then I thought about it.....what if it fell a little more to the right and someone was walking/driving up the driveway? What if it landed on our barn and killed our whole herd? Or going in a financial direction, what if it was closer to our house (and smashed into the $7000 roof we just had done?)

Thankfully I am not much of a "what if" person anymore (and I have severe ADD) so those thoughts quickly passed.....but I used to be a worrywart.

I've babbled on about worry before here.......and then this morning I was reading Proverbs 27 and the first verse was, again, the reassurance that worry and anxiousness is useless.

Do not boast about tomorrow,
for you do not know what a day may bring forth. ~Proverbs 27:1

I am not saying that we shouldn't be prepared and plan responsibly in life for our future.....but as I am getting older and digging deeper in my walk with Christ, I realize that nothing is certain or secure in life.

This is so obvious as we continue to witness the devastation of Haiti. We (collectively we) also realize this when a tragic accident happens or a silent disease creeps in and whisks away someone in weeks. Sometimes a spouse decides to check out of the marriage unexpectedly....or the company you work for is shutting it's doors and leaving you jobless in a week.

Just being a mom brings a truckload of "what ifs" into your life......usually from the moment you find out you have conceived. Worrying about the pregnancy.....your newborn.....childhood scares right up until the teenage years. And the concerns never end, they just change in dynamics. Trust me.....as of yesterday, I am now the mom of TWO drivers. EEK!

But God tells us to bring all our cares and worries to Him.....and place them at His feet. He will take all of our burdens.......we just need to trust Him with it all. And I know that it is easier said than done.

One of my favorite Scriptures about worry is found in the Book of Luke;

Then Jesus said to his disciples: "Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat; or about your body, what you will wear. Life is more than food, and the body more than clothes. Consider the ravens: They do not sow or reap, they have no storeroom or barn; yet God feeds them. And how much more valuable you are than birds! Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life? Since you cannot do this very little thing, why do you worry about the rest? ~Luke 22-26

So I guess the point of this rambling today is that I am really thankful that I am getting to a place in my life (notice I have not gotten there yet) where I am not worrying/fretting as much as I used to. I think back and realized how much joy and peace had been robbed from me while I worried about things that we clearly out of my control. Did these concerns and issues come to pass? Yup. Some did. That check did bounce.....I did get called back for that follow up mammography appointment.....I did find out my baby did not have a heartbeat.

But I made it through.......

.......and I know that no matter what life brings, I can handle it with God by my side.

Giving your worries and concerns over to God doesn't mean that bad things will never happen in your life. It just is insurance that you will get through them all.

*not sure who needed to hear that.....but I know someone did*

Now excuse me......I need to make lemonade outta the lemons and get my kids chopping some much needed firewood.


Elbow Grease

So I looked in my refrigerator last night as I tossed in two packages of lunch meat and a gallon of milk from my quick trip to Target. I noticed that it was.....well....completely disgusting in there. There were Crystal Light spatters, containers of what I think appear to be left-overs (that fuzzy stuff was blocking my view) and a cucumber that now resembles a piece of beef jerky. There were random eggs rolling around in one of the door compartments. I use the word "were" as those eggs ended up smashed on my equally dirty/sticky floor.

Now before you X outta here and think I am a total slob.....I need to explain. I have never claimed to be Martha Stewart, but I do keep a decent clean house under normal circumstances. Right now it is NOT normal circumstances.....

......we are in the dreaded construction zone.

And we were brilliant to start this construction zone project pretty much the day after Christmas. So not only does the construction zone include our storage area for everything......we also need to have a new storage area to put all the junk from the place we are reconstructing. So we need a storage area for our storage. So this new storage area pretty much is any open floor space we can find. So yeah, I have mattresses and table saws at the bottom of our stairs (because...now that I think about it...... if you fall down the stairs and land on the saw, at least you will bleed to death in comfort). I have a multitude of Rubbermaid containers stacked in the corner of my living room. Some contain tangled Christmas lights, one has about three thousand photos that I do plan on putting in albums before I turn 90 and another has random baby items that I just cannot get rid of and will probably still have when I turn 90(yeah, that's a whole 'nother issue)

There are nine rolls of wrapping paper that I scored at the after Christmas sales. I really need to find a place to store them because not only are they rolling all over the place......they are often being used as fencing swords and weapons. Three have pretty much been rendered useless with all the dents and dingers, but in my defense....Hunter was wide open and I couldn't resist the great shot.

Here's more to the visual for you....(and then you actually have some pity on me because with my ADD and lack of organizing skills to begin with.....I think I might be ordering that straight jacket soon enough). Our dishwasher is broke . On a side note, I'd like to thank Kenmore for making an appliance that will die exactly one month after the warranty expires. I'd also like to thank that repair man for charging us $75 to tell us he can't find out what is the problem and to just turn up our water heater and do a vinegar rinse. Thanks! So there is a perpetual mountain of dishes both in the sink and drying on the counter.

There is an assortment of sheet-rock dust footprints that make a fabulous design on our entire upstairs. They range from "dainty little girlie" size to "Herman Munster" size 14 to softball size paw prints. Funny how they all lead to the refrigerator.

Oh yeah, back to my fridge.....I guess I can't necessarily blame construction on it being gross....I guess it's just that between the daily trips to Lowes, the erratic schedule of Gunner's basketball, getting the barns in order for baby goats in about 8 weeks and getting back into the swing of homeschooling.....I haven't been tending to my house like I should.

So the point is.....if you have ever done construction in your home, you can surely relate to the upside down feeling that comes with it. You also know that during this project, other areas in your home do not get the proper attention and will need some deep elbow grease style cleaning when it's all over.

I am kinda seeing my spiritual life is running parallel in these two ways. But the funny thing is, these two ways are actually nonparallel.

So the first way is that even though our schedule (or lack of) has been thrown to the wind......I have stayed committed to my Proverbs 31 Day Challenge. I have missed a day here and there, but I make sure I double up and give God my first fruits of that day.

It's hard to explain but I really feel that God is opening up new doors/areas in my heart as I read chapter to chapter. Sometimes I feel so convicted as I read all the things I do/have done and how we are warned of the danger that follows these actions/thoughts. Other times I am brought to a place of comfort when I feel reassured of God's grace and mercy for turning it around and doing the right thing. I love the inspiration of knowing that as long as we stay on His path.....we will succeed in life. (which is another thing I want to discuss soon enough....the definition of success)

Now going in the total opposite direction......upon opening my fridge last night, it occurred to me that although we have been focusing all of our efforts into this improvement of our home....our existing home is suffering. This can be applied to my spiritual home, I have been digging deep in Proverbs and sharing what is being revealed to me with my kids....I very well might be leaving other areas in my spiritual home unattended. I mean, it's great to start my day in His Word.....but I need to keep It and apply It throughout my day until I lay my head down.

You see....I am easily distracted and it doesn't take much to pull my focus off. (if you've visited me more than two times, this is obvious)

I can and do have good intentions as I start out my day with Him.....but then.....well, life gets in the way. All it takes is one incident or phone call and I am off track on fall onto that slippery slope of sin. And that is all the enemy needs....that one moment of distraction to slip in.
**to give you an example of distraction, as I am typing, I just noticed a cobweb out of the corner of my eye that is in the shape of the letter Y (which actually means ALOT to me.....something Jennifer at Getting Down with Jesus shared that I have never forgotten....a must read!).

So today.....I am getting my "Mr. Clean" on and doing that spiritual deep cleaning. I need to disinfect that area of pride and remember that sometimes it is better to be kind, rather than be right. That corner of stubbornness needs some serious scrubbing and that shelf of forgiving myself needs be sprayed down and wiped clean. Those nasty containers of left-overs and past hurts, some I can barely recognize anymore from all the crud that has layered over them....need to be tossed.

So excuse me.....I must get to putting on that Hazmat suit and use that extra elbow grease in that fridge of mine. I will admit that I am a little fearful of what I might find in there....and know this will be quite the task. But I also know it is much needed and will be well worth it.

.....oh, and one last thing. If you ever wanted to know.....a tomato does liquefy over time. neat.


The Invisible Woman

So you all know I don't paint a perfect picture of "the life of Michelle"......I let you all in on the good, the bad and the ugly. Because you know, I am who I am....keeping it real is what I am all about, as I have mentioned before about how I can't stand phonyness. (completely sure that is NOT a word)

I am going through a rough patch with my kids.....nothing major or specific, but I am just in a place where I don't think they appreciate and respect me lately. I am sure hormones raging has a little something to do with my feelings and defensiveness......but I do have some valid issues that definitely need to be addressed. I know these are normal teenage actions and thinking back to how *I* was and acted at their age, I might want to call them Wally and Beaver Cleaver. But that isn't the point, I am gonna use the "Do as I say, not as I do (did)" card. Right here, right now......I tend to be the brunt of their mood swings, their snappy know-it-all answers and their expectations of being their maid, chauffeur and personal chef.

Now don't get me wrong......I love being a mom and I know that title comes with all those job requirements......I just want a little respect and appreciation. Is that too much to ask?

I think we all get to the point where we feel we are giving so much and getting nothing in return. This does not only apply to motherhood..... it can be a work atmosphere, a ministry position in church or even in your own personal endeavor.

I know the line that has been spoken to me over and over "you do not give to receive".....but I want to lay it all out, stomp my feet and just ask for a simple "thank you" with possibly a "hey, I am sorry, Mom, that I have been a typical, selfish, self-centered, and it's-all-about-me product of "Generation Entitlement", lately." (don't worry, I am not holding my breath on that one)

........and right before I decide to go into meltdown hissy fit mode over it all, I remember this incredible video that my mother-in-law sent me a while back. And if you have or are feeling the slightest bit unappreciated in any area of your life.....I cannot encourage you enough to take the 5 minutes and 47 seconds of your life to watch this clip. It is Nicole Johnson from Freshed Brewed Life and I promise you be inspired and uplifted.

Be blessed~

The Cost of Anger-Guest Post/Shirley Jones

Back in October I wrote a post called Listening to the Littlest where it dealt with one of my not-s0-mother-of-the-year moments. I received an email from a wonderful person, Shirley, who took the time to reach out to me. Now I am now blessed to call her my friend. Shirley describes her blog Sketches of a Common Life as a scrapbook of common life. I describe it as a blog jam-packed with wisdom, truth, hope and faith.....now throw in a twist of humor and what she likes to refer to as "demented conversations". But don't take my word for it.....hop on over and read for yourself. But don't go yet.....

......now back to that email.......It blessed me beyond words. Not only did Shirley encourage and remind me of the rewards of mothering.....but she also opened her heart and shared a story about her daughter Missy. I was so moved by her story that I asked her if she would mind doing a guest post for my friends.

So without further adieu.....

The Cost of Anger
~by Shirley Jones

Toward the end of the summer of 2007, our daughters, Missy and Karri, hopped into the car, mostly on a whim, and took off for a week's vacation in Florida. I have jokingly called the trip their Thelma and Louise moment, and I am so happy they had that bit of time together and for the memories they made. I am an only child, so I don't understand the bond of a sister, but they were both sisters and best friends.

However, I was not happy that they both came back with souvenir tattoos. I was livid and hurt and disappointed, and I had actually decided that I would show them how hurt and angry and disappointed I was by pulling back from them...by withholding my love from them in an old fashioned pouty fit.

I am constantly amazed at God's mercy and how He can intervene when we're about to do something irreversibly stupid. After I found out about the tattoos, I called a friend to cry on her shoulder and to vent. I don't know what it was, but there was something about that conversation that God used to stop me from doing something I would have regretted the rest of my life. By the time I hung up, I had decided I was being silly and that I was just going to let it go...and I did. I realized that they were both still my beautiful daughters and that I loved them no matter what and that tattoos are just ink and certainly not worth destroying a relationship over.

Thank You, God! Thank You!

Four months later, Missy was killed in an automobile accident.

How dear the cost my anger would have been had I withdrawn from her! How could I ever have lived with myself...with the remorse! I believe with all my heart it would have driven me insane because I could never have gotten that time back! Never! But God intervened and saved me. My last months with Missy were wonderful instead of being spent in near estrangement from her.

Still, after Missy's death, I struggled with how angry I had been. It was my last point of anger with her. I could not forgive myself! It haunted me during long, sleepless nights. And then one day I made a decision--I was going to get a tattoo. Call it penance...call it a peace offering... I felt it was my best I could offer to Missy and to Karri and to myself. Eight months later, I sat in a tattoo parlor, at the age of 61, with Karri, Don, a friend, and perhaps Missy, there by my side lending me love and moral support. When the tat was finished, tears, cheers, and hugs filled the room. I was at peace...

The tattoo is a constant reminder to me of anger's cost. That who people are has nothing to do with ink on their skin. That we have to live so we can live. And that we cannot foolishly assume we have the promise that our loved ones will be here tomorrow! Every moment with them is a sacred gift from God to be treasured!

The cost is much too dear for us not to!


Shirley's tattoo was carefully chosen for it's symbolism....

"Just when a caterpillar thought it's world had ended, it became a butterfly"

Missy is now a butterfly.

Today is the second anniversary of Missy going Home to Heaven.....won't you please take a moment and say a prayer for Shirley and her family. May they feel God wrapping His loving arms around them.....May they feel a supernatural peace over them knowing that Missy is at the feet of Our Savior, happy and whole.

Thank you Shirley for sharing Missy with us.....and may you all hug your loved ones a little extra tighter today.

Peace and love~

Proverbs 12:10

So I am still plugging away, digging deep.....searching with The Proverbs 31 Day Challenge. Each morning, these powerful chapters have opened my eyes and heart to many things. Yesterday (Proverbs 11) really spoke to me about the destruction of gossip (which I have felt convicted over before).

Last week I learned exactly what really ticks God off. (Proverbs 6:16-19) I mean, I know He is slow to anger, but the Bible uses detestable (or hate or abomination, depending on what version you are using).....either way, no matter what choice of words....we need to get this message!!!

I also finally looked up the word "folly" because, well quite honestly......I never knew exactly what it meant. After reading it, I am pretty sure the only thing that was missing was a photo of me, back in the 80s (yes, sporting the huge big hair, pink lipstick and spandex) within that definition.

So yes, there is promise and reward when we seek God's wisdom. Of course the whole Bible is the Ultimate Handbook for a full life, but I am really loving all the instruction and guidance that I learning with this daily study in Proverbs. It's got just enough "fine tuning" for me. There is no gray area.....it's all black and white. It is packed with concentrated truth. And after reading these truths....it forces you to really take a look inside and pass judgment upon yourself. ouch!

Today, while reading Proverbs 12.....I came across a Scripture that is very special to me. I have been meaning to share this with you all since Christmas. OK, let's back up.....On Christmas Eve, we have a tradition where the kids each open one present. Usually it is the present that they collectively bought for each sibling. Ezra was especially excited because he went out and bought a special gift for the whole family and was out of his mind waiting for us to open it. He chose me as the official gift opener. We all almost died laughing when we saw that it was not only a Snuggie......but The Christmas Story themed Snuggie!! Here I am in all my glory....and can I shamelessly admit that it is super warm!??! I had to send the photo to Kristina from Pulsipher Predilections who is probably one of the funniest bloggers you will ever "meet" and she is all about rockin' the Snuggie! This fabulous photo of me was featured on her Snuggie Sightings' Picture of the Week!

OK, so that is not really what I wanted to share, but I couldn't resist....

After they were done......Josh came over to me and said that he had a present for me that he wanted me to open that night. This was strange because we really never do that. He brought me in our room and handed me a letter he had written. It was filled with thanksgiving and love.....lots of beautiful mushy stuff telling me how awesome it is to be spending his life with me. Of course I was welling up......and then he spoke about how even though we have been experience our share of sadness with not being able to have anymore kids.......God has a different plan with "kids" for us. He told me that I have such a way with animals and he is so happy that I am passing it along to our children. Raising them to have that same kindness and compassion for God's creatures. Then he told me that our little farm was missing one thing.........

Isn't this gorgeous!?!?! He had this sign custom made for me!!!!!!! I really think this is the best gift I have ever gotten.....there was such thought and passion behind it all. He designed it all (even that awesome little crown!)....That is our little sweetheart Trinity (now thinking about it, how cool is that name?).

I think what means the most to me....is that Josh dug deep in Scripture to find the perfect one for me, for us.....for our farm.

"A righteous man cares for the needs of his animal......."
~Proverbs 12:10

Thanks for letting me share.....

Peace and love~

Fear Factor

Do you remember that show, Fear Factor? The one that people had to do some insane stunt or eat things that I don't even care to discuss (bull testicles, horse rectum and cow eye juice? Really people? For the love of money? ....oooooops, guess I discussed it didn't I? And for the record, I only saw those examples on the previews because I stopped watching it after the 2nd episode. Enjoyed those dare devil feats......but just couldn't bring myself to subscribe to those disgusting eating challenges. *gag*)

Anyway.....because that show had about six seasons, it is fair to say that many Americans did watch it. The fact that it had been aired in several other countries, such as Egypt, Romania and Malaysia as well as the production of board games and video games proves that the human race is fascinated with death defying stunts and watching others eat vile items as well.

Fear can come in all shapes and sizes. We (society) love the thrill side of fear. Roller coasters, horror movies, extreme sports. On the other end of the spectrum......fear can cripple and paralyze people as well. Phobias can range from claustrophobia (fear of closed spaces) to agoraphobia (general fear of leaving home or a safe place.....fear of open spaces/public) with thousands of other phobias in between. Fear of certain animals, weather conditions or health related issues. These phobias can rob people of peace and happiness with the constant disruption of their daily lives.

Fear can be a motivating factor. Some believe that it can be a positive one in some instances. This post came about because Josh called down to H yesterday morning and told him it was almost 6:00AM and he was going to be late for school. I looked at the clock and it only was 5:35AM. I asked him why he lied.....he then corrected me and said he really wasn't lying that it was almost six, it's just an individual's perception of time. (*roll eyes*). He said that the fear of being late would motivate him to get up right away. I disagreed....although fear can get someone to "do" something instantaneous....it is only short term. It will not stimulate people to willingly carry through these tasks by their own self interest. I know this is true because it took until 6:10 to get him up this morning.

Fear is an emotional response to threats and danger. Our society/the world is governed by it. Media can sometimes distort the truth to get people to buy certain products, stop using other products........even get vaccinated. (I'll spare you my conspiracy theory tangent)

I am editing to add (re: my friend Andrea's comment) that I do believe that a healthy dose of fear can be valuable in regards to safety. It can be the buffer needed for protection when facing choices in life. Rational fears can keep you from stepping out into traffic, traveling down that dark alley alone or mess with that beehive you stumbled upon. So yes, although these rational fears should not rule your life, they can help serve as a preservation of it.

So what does The Bible say about fear? My take is that there are two kinds of fear in The Bible. There is the "fear of the Lord" fear.....and the "spirit of fear".

Fear of the Lord means reverence....a feeling of deep respect tinged with awe. Respect for His power and glory. This fear brings us to a place of wanting/needing to honor, obey and surrender to God. It is encouraged. It also brings us to a place of better understanding and peace. Proverbs 1:17 begins with "The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge........." .

Then we have the "spirit of fear" which, as I mentioned.....can cripple and keep us from the life that God wants for us. This spirit of fear can creep in when our finances take a nosedive or when we get a poor healthy report. It then takes our focus off of God......who promises us no weapon forged against us will prevail. (Isaiah 54:17).

2 Timothy 1:7 tells us “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind”. When we trust in God, we should not possess fear of anything. But how many of us can really say this is true 100%.....all.the.time?

I, for one.... am guilty of possessing the "spirit of fear" sometimes. So this is something I need to work on. I want to get more of the fear of the Lord in my life......and less fear of all the junk/lies that the world throws my way. I need to remember that God loves me and when there is His perfect love, there is no fear. (John 4:18)......He is for me, not against me. I don't want to be manipulated by what the world dictates to me (Isaiah 11-13) or the "fear of the unknown"....no, I want the freedom and peace that trusting and obeying in God will bring.

So how about you? Where are you when it comes to fear in life? When you read about fear in the Bible....what comes to your mind/heart?

Peace and love~

PS. for the record....I love roller coasters. ;)

Father Knows Best

OK, so how weird is this?

I woke up this morning and had something on my heart to share. I am joining in with Sherri from Matter of Fact with her Proverbs 31 Day Challenge. It's an encouragement to everyone to read one chapter each day during the 31 days of January to glean from the wisdom of King Solomon and apply it to our everyday lives. Proverbs speaks to every area of life we will ever encounter.

So all weekend, I have been reading my daily chapter and realized that many of the principles that are being taught, are the very same ones that Josh and I have been trying to teach my children, especially my older two boys who are 16 and 18. Of course, all these truths are what I need to learn and apply to my life as well. Anyway....the title Father Knows Best came to mind and when I went to type it in, I noticed that I had a draft post (blank body) already titled Father Knows Best.....from Jan 09, 2009. I just thought that was pretty wild that I must have had something along the same lines to write about last year at this same time.....and also find it very likely with my ADD that I lost the thought, therefor finding it blank.

So today, I will type before I forget.......

Is it just me or are any of you just blown away but the powerful, yet so simple, teachings that are found in Proverbs? I love it because Solomon writes almost as if he's talking one-on-one with a young person (so that would be God talking to me, a child..... in my way of thinking...no age jokes please....thankyouverymuch).

He warns about being undisciplined, or the dangers of hanging around with the wrong crowd. He encourages this us to have great respect for God and to pay careful attention to good, Godly advice. He wants us to avoid the consequences of making bad choices and the destruction that will surely follow. I mean....I am only up to the 4th chapter, but had I taken even a tenth of this wisdom in my earlier days, I would not have ended up in trainwreck after trainwreck. I guess that is why I am so determined to expose my children to these great words of Truth and pray that it sinks in with them.

OK, so I have read Proverbs before, but I just love how we can read the same thing in the Bible over and over and have it shed more Light or have it apply directly to something you might be going through at that time.

Something is just stirring up in me with these teachings. It's like I want to shout from the rooftops......"Come on people! We don't have to live with sadness and defeat! We don't need to have sleepless nights that are filled with worry or regret. We don't need to be consumed with ill thoughts or anger. There is such FREEDOM just in these few short chapters. Just take the time and Listen to this Advice!!!!!!!"

Of course I need to take my own advice....I need to listen to Our Father!

I want the peace that this wisdom will bring. I need to remember to "trust in the Lord with all my heart".......I need to remember that "I cannot lean on my own understanding" when events happen in my life that disappoint me. (Prov. 3:5)

I want to always give glory and credit to God (Proverbs 3:6).....I know that everything good comes from Above. Each and every blessing in my life.....is a gift from Him. He orchestrates it all.

I want to remember that when I trust in Him (not myself), seek His wisdom (not my own..which is pretty slim pickings as it is) and acknowledge Him....I will see clearly the path God wants me to travel.

I want my children to possess the discernment that only God's wisdom will bring about. They will live a full and healthy life just by following these teachings. Their whole life will be affected by it. Proverbs 4:10-13 is such an awesome example of "staying on the Path".

I pray that they learn how Proverbs will enable them to have God's insight on how to live. This wisdom will help them have peace, which will bring success. It will help them avoid the regrettable pitfalls that can bring difficulties in their life. The only issue is whether they (we) will consider its ways and follow its advice.

I could go on and on with each individual Scripture and explain how every word can be applied.....but I probably will start rambling and babbling and going completely off tangent. So instead, I encourage *you* to take The Proverbs 31 Day Challenge yourself! We are only on Day 4 so you can catch up! Let's start 2010 wiser!

Peace and love~

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