Monday, October 31, 2011

Faith like a Child

"He called a little child to him, and placed the child among them. And he said: “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever takes the lowly position of this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven."
Matthew 18:2-4

For many years that was my prayer, to be like a child, not just humble in position, but to have faith like a child. That as I read the Word of God that all doubt would cease and like a child I would believe and embrace everything I read. Now to be clear I had no doubt whatsoever that the Bible is 100% true. Jesus is my Lord & I serve Him. That is not the kind of doubt I'm talking about. I'm talking about lies of the enemy that have a tendency to creep into my thoughts from time to time. And I think I know where those thoughts began.

I have been a Christian since I was 16 years old. I remember the first year as a believer reading the Bible and taking in every word with such delight and excitement. A year later I started college. Between undergrad and grad school I spent 5 years in the academic setting. If you've ever spent time in a secular university you know it's a difficult place to be a Christian. Many professors are not believers and some were often vocal in the unbelief. The prevailing "wisdom" is relativism-the notion that there is no absolute truth. While I was vocal in class defending my faith and the absurd idea that there is no right or wrong, I never realized how sitting under the teaching of unbelievers for years gave the enemy a foothold to cause me to doubt.

Now I'm not saying Christians should never go to secular universities-not at all! I just know for me, as a brand new Christian at the time, I wish I had gone to a university that would have given me a Biblical worldview and equipped me to serve the Lord. I'm sure if I went back into that academic setting now as a believer for the last 12 years my experience would be totally different and the lies I hear far less powerful. But as a new, impressionable believer, at that time in my life I needed to be disciplined before I was sent out into the world.

This past Thursday I was privileged to go to Liberty University in Lynchburg, Virginia-the largest Christian university in the world. I went with my friend Candace as she gave an incredible Gospel message at their Friday morning convocation. I had an amazing time hanging out with my friend but also loved our time spent at Liberty (although it was VERY short!). I was so impressed with the staff and student body and their love for the Lord and wanting to equip these students to go out into the world as a light for Christ! It caused me to wonder how my life would be different if I had gone to a university like Liberty. Obviously that wasn't God's plan for me and thankfully in His grace, He has taught me to take every thought captive, silence the untruths that were taught to me for years, and have faith like a child. But I will definitely encourage the people in my life to consider sending their children to a Christian university like Liberty.

What about you? Did you go to public school or a secular university? How did that affect your walk with the Lord?

Growing Home

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Friday, October 28, 2011

Eternity is a long time!

The other day I was joking with my mom and brother that because we are all Christians that means they will be stuck with me forever. My brother said "But you won't be in pain for eternity." Even though I know that to be true something about hearing my brother say that out loud really struck me. I had to fight not to burst into tears. I have never really allowed myself to imagine eternity in NO pain but in that moment I did and the joy and gratitude I felt made my heart feel like it could burst.

"He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away." Revelation 21:4

Do you ever stop and think about what happens after you die? We will all spend eternity somewhere.

Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me." John 14: 6

But salvation is more than just belief in Jesus.

"You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that--and shudder." James 2:19

It's about surrendering all to Jesus, following Him and allowing Him to be Lord of your life. Jesus loves you so and doesn't want anyone to perish.

"The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance. " 2 Peter 3:9

Where are you spending eternity? Do you know?

The Word says, "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. " 1 John 1:9

There is no more important question you can answer and if you need help with understanding what salvation means I am more than happy to chat with you anytime.

I can't wait for eternity and I hope to see you there! Eternity is a long time...a long pain-free time!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Best Compliment Ever

Every morning when I get to work as a nanny I show up with my homeschool in a bag. I have a weather chart, foam clock, lined dry erase board, workbooks & library books for the day, several types of flashcards & art supplies.

I am met by the most enthusiastic 4 year old you've ever seen who can't wait to get started on our "learning books" as he calls them. We love doing homeschool preschool! 2 mornings a week when I am there the little guy I watch also goes to preschool outside the home. A couple of weeks ago when I picked him up his teacher came out to talk to me. She said N came up to her & said
"Everyday I learn so much. But not from school, Stacy teaches me" He then went through and listed everything we do each day and finished off by telling her "All I do here is play". I'm not sure I've ever been paid a bigger compliment than that. To know that the work and preparation I put into teaching Little Guy is actually impacting him, is truly rewarding. By many people's standards I don't have a very glamorous job. And especially when people find out I have a master's degree they wonder why on Earth I work as a nanny. But would I really be doing something more valuable to offer my skills and education to a company or investing in the life of a child?

Being a nanny has been among the biggest blessings in my life. My pain doesn't allow me to work a normal full time desk job. I may not make a lot of money or have a lot of prestige. And sometimes I can feel like an outsider to the "mommy" club because the kids I love and help to raise aren't my own. But I have learned to silence the negativity and instead be grateful for my job. And just like I try to find purpose in the pain the Lord has allowed in my life, I am also finding purpose in the job He has planned for me.

"Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving. " Colossians 3:23-24

Everyday I spend loving and nurturing the little ones that have been entrusted to my care, I am working for the Lord. I take pride in my job. I love planning lessons, activities and outings for the kids. I enjoy picking up the house, doing dishes and the laundry because I know it blesses my bosses and gives them more time to be with their children. My days are never boring and always an adventure. I really can't imagine trading my days with the kids for a job where I sit in front of a computer for 9 hours a day. I can't be pregnant and take the medication I need to control my fibromyalgia so it's likely that I will never have children of my own. And while I am open to adoption, if I am married, it still may not be right for me since I don't think I have the physical stamina with my problems to care for children 24/7. Children deserve a mother who can be mentally and physically there for them. Knowing all of that make me treasure my job even more since this may be my only opportunity to impact a child's life in a daily way.

A lot of my life I have spent dreaming, wishing and hoping for my future but like the old cliche says "the future is now". And I've decided to spend my present being grateful for my job and treating it like the task that it is. And the compliment from the little guy I watch is just the icing on the cake:)

Hip Homeschool Moms Button

Growing Home

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Getting to Know....Me!

In honor of the Women Living Well Blog Bash I'm doing a little getting to know you blog.

My name is Stacy

I'm 28, single and living in the Midwest. I've been a Christian since I was 16. I've also been a nanny for 12 years and enjoy caring for 4 kids . I've had my blog for a little over 2 years but have only been really getting into it and posting regularly in the last 2 months. I started blogging because I feel it's what God has called me to do.

The reason I blog is based on this verse:

2 Corinthians 1:3-5

"Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God. For just as the sufferings of Christ flow over into our lives, so also through Christ our comfort overflows."

I want to bless and encourage people who are struggling by sharing the lessons the Lord has taught me through having severe fibromyalgia since childhood. I think that whether your struggle is with chronic pain or disease or just the everyday business of life my hope is that you will see something in the words I write that will draw you closer to Jesus. If you don't know Him as your savior I pray that you will. If you are a believer but aren't living a life fully yielded to Him I pray that you'll be encouraged to grab hold of the abundant life and purposes He has for you. If the pain and circumstances of your life have become a burden that has stopped you from being all that God wants you to be I pray you'll find victory in Him, to give the burdens over to Him and trust that He can use you exactly as you are!

My own life is so far from perfect and that's why I blog. I've learned a lot of things the hard way and I pray my stories may spare you the same pain. In addition to sharing my journey with fibromyalgia, I also enjoy blogging about my adventures as a nanny, frugal living, and homeschooling preschoolers.

I love meeting new people & would love to meet you! Feel free to also find me on Facebook & Twitter!

Now it's your turn! Tell me about you & share a link to your blog if you have one:)

Monday, October 24, 2011

Travel Tips with Chronic Pain

I absolutely love to travel and have been blessed to go to some amazing, fun places like China, Costa Rica, NYC, Atlanta, LA, Miami & Las Vegas just to name a few. While I love traveling it can also be a stressful experience for me physically if I don't take the right precautions. Here are my tips for traveling with chronic pain:

1. Create a Master Packing List- This has taken so much stress out of preparing for a trip. I have a list with 81 items on it-every single thing I would ever need to bring on a trip from clothes & meds, to my heating pad, pain patches, camera, sunglasses & extra batteries. All I have to do to pack is print out the list & follow it!

2. Live out of your suitcase the day before you leave- I try to pack all my items for a trip 24 hours in advance. That way I can live out of my suitcase the day before I go and realize if there are any necessary items I forgot to bring.

3. Take the pharmacy with you- Obviously you should bring your everyday prescriptions & vitamins (in their original containers) but what about that pain pill for your back that you only take a couple times a year? Bring it too! To create my medication list for trips I started at the top of my body and went through every body part to determine if I needed to bring a medication for it. For example: Head-Tylenol, Stomach-Imodium etc. This may seem extreme but I've had trips that would have been ruined had I not brought an obscure medication that I rarely need. Also make sure your medication goes in your carry on if you are flying. You don't want the airline to lose your bags and have to go without your meds.

4. Fly Whenever Possible- I know it's more expensive than driving but at least for me I really can't do car rides over 2 hours anymore. My pain is worse sitting in the same position and not being able to get up and move around. The extra money is worth having far less pain. Also I always try to get the aisle seat when I fly. That way I can take frequent breaks to walk around and stretch without having to constantly ask other passengers to let me out. Plus I like the aisle seat because I can stretch my legs out and put them into the aisle while I sit-but watch out for the drink carts!

5. Don't take the early bird flight- I have learned this lesson the hard way many times. The earliest flight of the day is usually the cheapest but also the worst for my fibro. I have to wake up so early which means I usually get very little sleep. The lack of sleep makes me more likely to have increased pain and vertigo. Also mornings are just a rough time for people with fibromyalgia. It's better, in my experience, to pay a little more and take a later flight.

6. Adjust to a new time zone as quickly as possible- If you are only traveling domestically this will likely not be a huge deal but if you are traveling internationally it's a much bigger deal. When I traveled to China it was a 12 hour time change-literally night & day. To prepare the day before I took my evening pills in the morning & my morning pills at night. I tried to mentally adjust myself to the time & forced myself to wake up on the flight & eat lunch in the middle of the night. It was still a big challenge but these little steps helped. I'm not sure where I heard this but I guess it takes 1 day to get adjusted for each hour of time difference. I have found this to be completely true. Unfortunately for me I only went to China for 12 days so literally the first day I felt completely adjusted to the time was the day I went home!

So what about you? What are your travel tips with chronic pain/conditions?

Friday, October 21, 2011

Fall Fun with Kids!

With the exception of cooler temperatures, I absolutely love fall. The gorgeous leaves on the trees, the smell of bon fires in the air, and of course Pumpkin Spice lattes at Starbucks. But one of my favorite things about fall is all the wonderful activities you can do with little ones. Here are some fun fall ides for kids!

Fall Printables-I was looking for fall themed learning activities for our homeschool preschool time and found the Preschool Fall Fun Printable Pack from Homeschool Creations. We are absolutely loving the memory games, patterning board, and fall worksheets & I'm sure you will too.

Nature Walks-In my area we are blessed to have 2 large rivers that go throughout the city. It makes the perfect place for a nature walk. We bring a packed lunch, skip stones on the river, collect leaves and acorns, and just enjoy the beauty of the fall leaves around us.

Leaf Rubs-
After we come back from our nature walk, we always have plenty of leaves to do leaf rubs. Simply lay leaves under a sheet of paper and color with the side of a crayon. The little guy I watch has also had fun painting the leaves as well.

Pumpkin Painting-While pumpkin carving is a quintessential fall activity. Pumpkin painting can be just as fun and a little easier for younger kids to participate in.

Spend a day at the farm-Kids absolutely love this (and adults do too!). We have farms here that let us pick apples & pumpkins, take hay rides, go through corn mazes and play with baby animals. I've had a blast over the years taking kids to different farms around town. If you are in my local area my favorite farms for kids are Leeds Farm & Circle S Farms.

Apple Print Crafts-This is another simple activity that kids love. Simply cut an apple in half, paint the interior side and start stamping!

Fall Books-I am a huge fan of the library & love ordering fall books to read with the kids. Surprisingly their favorite fall books are tree field guides or other books that feature pictures of actual trees.

Fall Food-I've got to admit this is my favorite part of fall. I love all the amazing fall recipes. Here are some I've discovered lately that I can't wait to make:

Pumpkin Sheet Cake by Growing Home. * I actually made this last week for a get together (or I should say my mom generously made it for me because I was in too much pain). The cake was a huge success. I highly recommend it!

Pumpkin Waffles With Spice Whipped Cream by Comfy in the Kitchen.

Gourmet Caramel Apples by Janelle from Comfy in the Kitchen featured on Women Living Well

How do you have fun with kids in the fall?

Growing Home

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Tips to Get Kids to Behave Anywhere

As a nanny for almost 12 years I am often surrounded by kids....lots of them! Taking 6 kids to the science center, 5 kids to the water park or running errands with 4 kids (including an infant) is commonplace to me. And because of that I have learned quite a few tricks over the years to get kids to behave in public. Here are some of them!

Be Confident-My philosophy with kids is the more the merrier! And for that reason I often end up taking lots of little ones around town. I love the looks I get when I show up at the science center with 6 kids-it's a mix of shock and pity. Seriously I love being the leader of the's the closest to a superhero I will ever get. But it's always important for the kids to know that I'm in charge and for me to be confident that when I take them out in public they will listen & behave. If I ever start to see their behavior shift & my confidence waiver I make sure to stop and pray that God would help me to guide and lead these children as I should.

Set Clear Expectations Upfront-Before I go anywhere with the kids, I have them give me their full attention and I explain to them what to expect on our outing. We go to Target for fun at least once a week. Before we go I usually say something like "we are going in to look around for an hour and pick up a couple things your mom needs. We may look at anything you want but we are not buying anything or getting snacks today". Occasionally the kids bring their own money to get something small or I get them a popcorn or Icee but I always let them know upfront. I also have the kids repeat our 2 rules for going anywhere:

Rule #1-They must listen and obey me the first time
Rule #2- They must have fun!
And the kids know the tickle monster visits anyone who isn't being joyful and having the right attitude;)

Keep it light & fun & take kids out in public often-Make it a fun adventure to go out in public. As the adult in charge keep your mood light and fun. If you stay positive, chances are your little ones will too. The kids I nanny for & I are constantly on the run going to different places in the community which gives them an opportunity to learn how to behave in many different environments. I've taken kids as young as 18 months to the theater. Even if they can't sit still the whole time & you have to leave early it's still great to get them used to being self controlled in public. I've seen parents before who never leave the house with their kids and then wonder why their kids act like a caged animal in public. Practice makes perfect!

Deal with bad attitudes & behavior immediately-
Don't wait till your child is running through the aisles of Target or throwing a tantrum in aisle 4 before you address their behavior. I am careful to monitor the kids' moods and behavior and if I start to notice subtle changes I give them a warning or take them aside to see if something is wrong. It's very easy for bad attitudes to escalate into bad behavior. Like I said earlier, whenever I see the kids I watch getting cranky they know that the tickle monster will come to visit them. The tickle monster tickles away all bad attitudes in children. Just mentioning the tickle a monster to the kids is usually enough to make them laugh away their bad attitude:)

Don't set them up to fail-
Just like adults, kids aren't at their happiest when they are tired and hungry. So if possible avoid huge outings during nap time or meal time. Also if you know you have a little one with lots of extra energy and they love to touch everything in the store. Instead of spending your entire time at the store scolding them why not confine them in a shopping cart or stroller and give them a small toy to occupy them if they can't walk nicely beside you.

Be willing to leave-
Being able to predict the consequences of their behavior is necessary for a child to behave correctly. And the only way they will know those consequences is if the adult caring for them is consistent 100% of the time. If I notice bad behavior while we are out I give a warning that if they don't stop we will leave and they will go to their room when we get home. Certain kids will test those boundaries and you have to be willing to follow through and actually leave. It's gets tricky when you have several kids & only one is misbehaving. In that case I would still leave but find a way to reward the kids who were behaving when we get home like maybe letting them watch a favorite TV show.

Point out bad behavior in public-
This is my favorite! Anytime I am out with the kids and I see another child misbehaving I will point it out to the kids and say something like " Do you see that boy over there screaming and whining because he wants a toy? Do you think that is a good way to behave? (to which they hopefully reply no!) That child is being very disobedient to their mom. I'm so thankful you don't behave like that when we go places or we wouldn't be able to do all the fun things we do". This gives the kids a chance to see firsthand the type of behavior you don't want them to emulate.

I'm so thankful that the kids I watch now are so well behaved and we almost never have issues out in public. So what about you? What are your tips to get children to behave in public? I love learning from the wisdom & experience of others!

Monday, October 17, 2011

The Thorns of Life

2 Corinthians 12: 7-10

"Therefore, in order to keep me from becoming conceited, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong."

Oh how I can relate to the Apostle Paul! Fibromyalgia has most definitely been my thorn in the flesh. I have pleaded more times than I can count for the Lord to take it away. And yet it remains. Why? It's a question that has gone through my mind for years. But the answer has always been in verse 9.

2 Corinthians 12 :9
"But he said to me,
“My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. "

I realized this before like the time I a wrote a post boasting in my weakness. But I now understand it is something I have to constantly remind myself of especially on the rough pain nights when it's easy to believe that the pain is a punishment from God. But really it's quite the opposite. It's actually a gift. In fact I am so incredibly blessed to have this pain because it gives me a chance every second of every day to remember that I'm utterly dependent on God for everything. And how cool that in my weak, completely dependent state I get to see the power of God. Wow, I get to see the power of God everyday! The fact that I sleep through the night, wake up in the morning, get out of bed and get ready, take my 26 pills (mostly vitamins!) and have the physical and mental energy and strength to work is completely a miracle.

As Paul says in 2 Corinthians 12:9 I too "will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. "

What about you? What are the thorns and weaknesses in your life? I'd love to hear you boast in your weaknesses and share how you've seen the power of God!

Friday, October 14, 2011

How to Teach Kids the Value of a Dollar

As a nanny for the last 11 1/2 years I have learned a lot about child rearing. And I've come to believe that one of the most important lessons you can teach a child is how to save and spend wisely and truly appreciate the value of a dollar. Many parents wrestle with whether or not to give their child an allowance or pay them for chores and grades. My siblings and I never had an allowance although my parents did give us money if we were going out with friends. In our house you were expected to get good grades and help out around the house because we were members of the family not as some kind of work to be paid for. I do know plenty of people who do give their kids an allowance and I can see how that would be beneficial in teaching them responsibility and how to manage money, So whether you give an allowance or not here are my tips to teach your child the value of a dollar.

Model Good Habits in Speech & Actions:
-Talk to your kids often about money
-Show them what items cost in the store and how to comparison shop and save money with coupons
-Let your children see you tithe and give money to charities
-Show them how you save money every month to go on your family vacation
-Talk to your kids as you watch TV about how commercials are meant to manipulate us into buying items we really don't need
-Take them shopping at second hand stores or garage sales so they can see how much you can save by buying used
-Talk to them about items you want but how you decided you don't need to spend the money for it
-Allow money to be a regular part of your daily life & conversations with your kids

Implement Godly Principles:
-Let your children know that money, like everything else, is a gift from God. It is not ours and is up to God how we spend it
-Read your children verses in the Bible pertaining to money & discuss how to implement those principles into your lives
-When your child earns or receives money have them take a percentage out for tithing, giving and savings
-As a family save money to give to a needy family or your favorite charity

Encourage Entrepreneurship:
-Babysitting, a paper route, mowing yards, shoveling snow, raking leaves, and lemonade stands are all options for kids to make money. Nothing will teach your kids the value of a dollar quicker than having them work for it.
-Help your child discover how to turn their passions, interests or skills into an opportunity to make money. Encourage their creativity!

Have Them Pay for Extras:
At least once a week I take the kids I watch to Target to walk around. Each time if I allow them they bring their own money (if they have any) to buy items in the one spot or get a snack like popcorn or an Icee. Some weeks some of the kids don't have money and while they may be a little sad it is teaching them that maybe spending money as soon as you get it isn't always the best choice.
As children get older you can have them pay for clothes and shoes that they want that aren't in the family budget. I've even heard of some parents who give their high school aged kids an allowance and then charge them "rent" each month to show them what it's like in the real world. It is far better for children to learn money lessons in the controlled environment of your home.

Don't Overindulge:
As kids my siblings & I got gifts on Christmas, Easter and our birthday. On a rare occasion my mom would buy us a toy when we were out shopping. We were always so excited and grateful for it because it was a special treat. Over the years as a nanny I have seen so many kids believe they are entitled to anything they want and they often think that because their parents give them anything they want. I always cringe when I'm at Target with the kids and hear other kids complaining, whining and crying for toys. I'm thankful the kids I watch have wonderful parents who don't overindulge them .

So what are your tips to teach kids the value of a dollar?

Growing Home

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

What Women Fear

Last week I read Angie Smith's newest book What Women Fear. I am blown away at the insights the Lord has given Angie. I truly learned so much. The book is broke up into chapters based on the types of common fears women experience such as fear of failure, death, being found out, losing approval of others and abandonment. The book weaves together scripture and Angie's personal experiences with fears. The immediate feeling I had reading through this book was relief. I wasn't so alone. In fact I am pretty convinced Angie Smith is my long lost twin sister! I've never heard of anyone with such a similar childhood of extreme worrying over things most children don't even think of. As I shared in the past here my childhood was consumed with fears of sickness, disaster, my siblings being abducted or something terrible happening to my parents. Angie's book does something beautiful in that it shines a light on fear, shows us that we are not alone, and points us to the only One who can calm our fears.

Fear is still something I struggle with, although thankfully not as bad as when I was a child. At times I see victory over my some of my fears and other times I still feel like that 8 year old sitting at the window, waiting for my mom to come home, imagining all the horrible things that could have happened to her. As Christian women there is such pressure to look like we have it all together. When we realize we don't, we decide to keep those flaws and fears as a secret between us and God, afraid for anyone in our life to know we aren't perfect. But that secret only leads to feeling alone and isolated, like we must be some terrible Christian to still struggle with fear. And eventually that isolation gives birth to shame. But as for me I don't want to walk around with a mask to cover my shame. I'm not perfect. I have many flaws and I suspect you do too. We are works in progress in the hands of the master craftsman. If you're looking for a book that will both encourage you and challenge you to examine the fears in your life through the lens of the Word of God, then check out Angie's book. You will not be disappointed.

So what about you? Have you read Angie's book? What are you thoughts? What do you fear?

Monday, October 10, 2011

I am the Clay

In light of this post 2 weeks ago on feeling under attack. I've been praying/thinking a lot about my life. I want God to use me. But then I don't always want to yield to His plans for me...especially when those plans involve me being in pain everyday. I want to find purpose in my pain and I do but some days the purpose doesn't seem to outweigh the pain. I want to be this ever joyful person full of gratitude but some days it's hard to be grateful when I hurt so much. Can anyone relate? Do you feel torn over these two sides of you competing? I love the Lord and I live for Him alone. My life is His and truly there is no where else I want to be than in the center of His will but when my flesh rears it's yucky head sometimes my life doesn't always reflect my heart. In short I am human. Not perfect.

Romans 7:15 "I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do."

Can I just tell you how happy it makes my heart that the Lord allowed this verse in the Bible? I'm not alone even an amazing man of God, the apostle Paul, struggled with his flesh to live a life that pleases God.

If you are struggling today to live the life God wants you to live know that you are in good company. But also know this is no excuse for us to stay in our sinful patterns. Where are you struggling in your life to please the Lord? Are you having trouble loving your spouse or children the way God wants you to? Are you having a hard time being respectful to your boss and coworkers? Is your thought life a mess? Or maybe like me you are struggling with how to live a life that isn't what you expected it to be. There is no way to do all of these things without the power of God working in you and thankfully as believers we have the power that raised God from the dead living in us. Remarkable. I am ready to tap into that power and see my life transformed.

Jeremiah 18: 5-6 "Then the word of the LORD came to me. He said, “Can I not do with you, Israel, as this potter does?” declares the LORD. “Like clay in the hand of the potter, so are you in my hand, Israel."

Romans 9:20-21 "
But who are you, a human being, to talk back to God? “Shall what is formed say to the one who formed it, ‘Why did you make me like this?’” Does not the potter have the right to make out of the same lump of clay some pottery for special purposes and some for common use?

I am the clay and can't wait to see all that the potter will do with me!

Friday, October 7, 2011


Joy is the ocean in Costa Rica

Joy is a houseful of family on Christmas Eve

Joy is a walk on a warm day with 4 of my favorite kids

Joy is going to China to see my other 4 favorite kids

Joy is ice cream and laughter with friends

Joy is visiting the other side of the world

Joy is having the same friend for 15 years

Joy is these 2

Joy is having no idea how I will pay my bills and then God makes a way

Joy is everything crumbling around me but I feel a peace that surpasses understanding

Joy is answered prayer

Joy is sharing Jesus with a stranger on an airplane

Joy is knowing my pain has a purpose

Joy is Jesus!

Nehemiah 8:10 ...."for the joy of the LORD is your strength.”

Psalm 126:3 "The LORD has done great things for us, and we are filled with joy."

Where do you find joy?

friday favorite things | finding joy

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Guest Post- Tyler's Purpose in the Pain

* I'm so blessed to have Tyler Matjeka share with you all today. Tyler has an incredible story of courage through insurmountable challenges. She has turned her pain into an incredible ministry and testimony of the work of the Lord. Be sure to visit Daddy's Girl Ministries! I am thankful to have "met" Tyler on twitter and have her now in my life as a prayer warrior and friend. Here is Tyler's Purpose in the Pain.

I feel honored that Stacy asked me to write a guest blog for her website blog, Finding Purpose in the Pain. I prayed for God to lay upon my heart what to write, and I felt Him softly whisper to me, "Share your favorite story about how you found purpose in your pain." I pray that my story will bless you...

The date was March 17, 2007. I was deathly ill, and on the way to the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota. My best friends - my husband, my mom, and my dad were with me.

A little history about my health - I am the fourth patient at the Mayo Clinic to be diagnosed with my medical condition, which has yet to receive an official name. I was diagnosed when I was fifteen years old (I am now thirty-two). I have nerve damage to my autonomic nervous system from my waist down. This affects my blood flow and the functioning of my organs. I have had seven organs affected from the nerve damage, and four of these organs have been removed.

I have almost lost my life five times due to my illness, and the fifth time was during this trip to the Mayo Clinic.

My family and I were at the Mayo Clinic for six straight weeks. We shared a hotel room. My husband and I had our bedroom, there was a common room, and on the other side of the common room was my parents' bedroom. We were fighting for my health and for my life, together.

My husband and my dad would administer my IV medication. My dad would push me in my wheelchair to go and have my blood drawn every morning.

My husband, mom, and dad accompanied me to all my appointments and medical procedures.

At night time in our hotel room, we all watched really corny television shows together - something we wouldn't have done had we not all been cooped up in a hotel room together.

My husband and my dad would sit in the common room at night and talk until 4:00 and 5:00 in the morning while my mom and I were asleep. Something that wouldn't have taken place had we not been in this situation.

When we left for the Mayo Clinic, we had no idea that we would be there for so long. We ended up being there on my birthday in April. My dad made me the sweetest gift certificates on the computer to use when we got back home, and my family hid the gifts they bought me at the hotel all over our rooms. A birthday that I'll cherish forever.

My dad and I shared so many heart to heart conversations. Conversations we wouldn't have had if I hadn't been so I'll. Moments we wouldn't have shared and memories we wouldn't have made otherwise.

So many funny many scary many hopeful much love.

Purpose during this painful time in my life due to my health.

The date was now March 17, 2008. I was reminiscing about the flight to the Mayo Clinic just a year ago. Reminiscing about all the memories my family and I made together. Remembering how very sick I had been, and grateful for how far my health had come in just one year. My prognosis was now a very good one.

But as sick as I had been just one year ago...I longed to go back to March 17, 2007. To take that flight to the Mayo Clinic with my family again. To be together, away from the hustle and bustle of every day life, for six weeks.

Little did I know during my fight for life in 2007, that God would be calling my dad home in less than a year.

My dad lost his life in an airplane crash in January of 2008. He was flying home from a business trip, and his airplane malfunctioned. He had to make an emergency landing, and just as he was about to land his airplane on a field, he saw that there were over fifty children playing soccer on that field.

My dad immediately took the airplane straight up to avoid hitting the children, which caused his airplane to stall and crash. This cost him his life.

Being so ill in 2007 was horrible. But I'd do it all over again to have that extra time with my dad.

I'm beyond grateful that I had to be at the Mayo Clinic for six straight weeks. My husband, mom and I got to spend all that extra time with my dad! There was purpose for the physical pain in my life during that time.

Whatever trials you may be facing in your life today, know that God would not allow them to be happening without great purpose! Look around you - what blessings are you experiencing that wouldn't be happening if you weren't where you are in your life today?

What people have you met? What places have you seen? What memories have you made that you wouldn't be making otherwise?

Pain is hard, in its many forms: health, finances, relationships, addictions, and the list goes on and on. But God gives you purpose in your pain if you'll let Him.

Take a look around you. What blessings, and what purposes do you see? Sometimes, blessings come in the form of raindrops...

Monday, October 3, 2011

Check me out in the current issue of Palmer Grove!

Check me out in the current issue of the online magazine Palmer Grove! I'm featured on pages 6 & 7 and am writing about Central Ohio's Best Winter Outings for Children. Enjoy!

How to Cope When the Pain is Bad

When most people are sick, not feeling well, overly tired, or just simply had a bad day you are given a "free pass" to temporarily feel grumpy, moody or a little down. But imagine if your body felt that way everyday for years! There is no way you can have a "free pass" to be grumpy everyday or no one would want to be around. That is what it's like to have chronic pain. This constant balance between feeling terrible physically but trying to live in a world where most people have no idea how you feel. In trying to navigate this balance I've discovered a few things that help me better cope with a bad pain day.

Even though the pain may be constant not everyday will be a bad day- I wrote about this in the post "This too shall pass". When I have those really bad excruciating pain, no sleep kinda days, I remind myself that I'm in a crazy....ok maybe not crazy but altered state of mind. The sad, hopeless thoughts that I feel on really bad pain days are irrational. Reminding myself of that fact doesn't make me feel any better but it does help me to remember that what I'm feeling is temporary, situational and will eventually pass.

Choose gratitude not complaint- Confession time! This is what I struggle with the most. I think it's very important to have people in your life who you can share your chronic pain journey with. People who will pray for you and encourage you. My mom is a wonderful example of a supportive person. It's important though for me to have restraint and not allow my sharing to turn into constant complaining. I've gotten better at not complaining so much with my friends but have some work to do with my family. They see my pain up close and it's hard not to complain all the time about how I feel.

Pray and Read the Word of God- Diving into to God's Word and His promises does wonders for changing my heart and mind set!

Limit tweeting/facebook/emails on rough pain nights- This may sound silly but I have said so many things I regret or wish I could take back when I've said them on rough pain nights. The next morning everything looks better and I'm left with regrets. I now am more careful with what I say and try to to stay positive on bad pain nights. Simply tweeting about staying positive thru the pain reminds me that God will get me thru this like He has in the past.

Watch a comedy- Again it sounds silly but laughter is great medicine!

Go to sleep!-This is the biggest piece of advice I can give. Everything looks better in the morning.

Lamentations 3:22-23 "Because of the LORD’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness"

What are your tips to cope with bad pain nights?