Be a Giver

Be a Giver

Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.” Luke 6:38

I enjoy giving gifts! Finding that perfect item for someone brings me excitement and joy. Giving and not expecting anything in return, just the pure joy and blessing of giving is fun for me!

“If God can get it through you then he can get it to you.” These are the words that my pastor spoke during a Sunday morning message at my home church while I was growing up. I haven’t forgotten that statement!

You can’t out-give God. You just can’t! Plain and simple! He owns the cattle on a thousand hills (Psalm 50:10). My mom used to sing this song to me when I was little. It goes like this:

https://i.pinimg.com/originals/0b/9f/fc/0b9ffc11e7b19e137d7fb508bae27cd7.jpg

What a great reminder. When we know God and walk with Him, we not only are God’s children (joint-heirs with Jesus) but everything that is God’s is ultimately our own. Therefore, we lack nothing! That is so much easier to say than to walk in. It can take full-on faith to trust God in the area of provision!

God wants us to be dependant on him; to trust and rely on him, not to be prideful and think that we can do it all on our own. There are often months when the end of the month is nearing, another house payment is scheduled to come out of the bank account, unforeseen expenses came up that month, all expected income has already been deposited but the numbers just aren’t matching up. We are coming up short. It can be hard to believe that God is taking care of us and will provide because we put him first. We take that step of faith and show our trust and reliance on God by giving the “first fruits” of our income, also called our tithe. Tithe means ten percent of our income.

Tithing. Finances. It’s the one area in our lives that God gives us straight out permission to test Him. All other times in the Bible, he says not to test him. In the area of finances, he almost challenges us. Like, “bring it on! Let me show you what I can do!”

Malachi 3:10 says, “Test Me now in this,” says the Lord of hosts, “if I will not open for you the windows of heaven and pour out for you a blessing until it overflows.”Also Proverbs 3:9-10 says, ” Honor the Lord with your wealth, with the firstfruits of all your crops; then your barns will be filled to overflowing, and your vats will brim over with new wine.”

In biblical times, these scriptures refer to crops, that was their main source of income as well as food to feed their families in those days. For our modern-day lives, we usually apply that verse as meaning our paycheck; the income that comes in that we live on. The main goal of tithing is a heart check-up with God. Ultimately what he wants is our hearts!

God knows that money is one of the hardest areas in our lives to give away as well as to trust someone with. If we can learn to hold our hands open to God, to see all income as His provision directly from Him to us. God pours the blessings into our empty and open hands, and then we empty our hands to others as quickly as he can fill them up; God will continue to pour and pour and pour. His resources are endless! Try grabbing something while having clenched fists. Pretty hard to do! The same goes for giving something away while holding onto it with a tight grasp. Now try doing either (receiving or giving) with open hands. It’s so much easier!

Once I watched a demonstration on giving. One person stood with their hands held together, open to receive. Another person poured pennies into the open hands. The open hands couldn’t receive more until the person emptied his full hands of pennies onto the ground; in other words, he gave them away. The quicker he emptied his hands (gave) the quicker they could be filled up with new pennies. This went on and on and until the pouring was happening so quickly, because he was so quickly emptying his hands, that the receiving hands were overflowing. The pennies were spilling out everywhere. The receiver couldn’t keep up!

You may be thinking, “how can this be true?” Or perhaps you may be saying, “I put money in the bucket at church when it comes around but I’m not overflowing with money.” Or, “I try to be generous towards others.” Tithing to God and giving to others are two separate playing fields. At the end of this post, I will offer a great resource to learn more details. As for now, I will say, check your heart. Do you give to God cheerfully? Do you give with full expectancy for him to provide and do what he says he will do? Do you give just a tiny sum in comparison to your total income or do you bring your “first fruits” and a full 10 percent, expecting God to do what he says he will do and bless you in return?

Thankfully, this is an area that God started showing my husband and I before we were married and sharing our finances. Tithing was a strong conviction for both of us and an area that, with some effort and refining, we have a pretty good system down. I will say again, that this truly is a heart issue. God is not sitting in heaven with a calculator and a clipboard, making sure that you gave your exact ten percent last month or else he is shaking his head in disapproval. Not at all! God is a God of grace, love, and compassion. However, he wants us to do our best to be as accurate as possible. I usually try to error on giving too much than not enough because as I said earlier, you can’t outgive God. It’s fun to watch him work and see how he opens doors and gives back to us! I will share a few personal stories a little further on but first I want to share a strategy that has worked well for my family.

A tactic that has worked well for us is creating a savings account within our bank account that is strictly for tithe. For us, there have been a lot of years where our monthly income fluctuates because we were mostly living off of income from my husband’s self-employment. The total amount of income usually was unknown and varied from month to month. Having a tithe account set aside where we can transfer ten percent, right off the top, into it, allows us to set that money aside and not spend it. Then when Sunday rolls around we give our check to our church, or sometimes, pay the lump sum each month. The important thing is that we are setting the money aside, making tithe a priority and cheerfully and expectantly giving it back to God.

We can testify over and over, the number of times God has faithfully provided and met our needs when we didn’t see how it would be possible (human math vs. heavenly math). We could also list the number of times God has protected us and “rebuked the devourer” for our sake, because we faithfully give to Him, our hearts belong to Him, and we are His children. Malachi 3:11 says, “I will rebuke the devourer for you so that it will not destroy the fruits of your soil, and your vine in the field shall not fail to bear,” says the LORD of hosts.

God’s math is different than our own. I used to be very anal when it came to budgets and keeping track of finances and having a plan. Please hear me that I’m not downplaying the importance of budgeting, planning and being a good steward! However, I have learned over and over in the past years of my life how God’s math can make money stretch. It can make money come from sources that we weren’t planning on. It can provide new avenues of provision that we didn’t see coming. When we are cheerful givers and give the first 10% of our income (tithe) back to God, He blesses our finances! I would rather live on 90% of my income that is blessed by God than 100% that is not.

I do want to say, that we need to do our part. To work and be responsible with the money that we do have. I also feel that I should say that tithing and giving is not a roadmap to becoming a millionaire and that yes, there are people who are not tithers and givers yet still are wealthy when it comes to dollars in the bank. However, the point I am trying to make is that when we trust God with our finances and follow his ways, we tap into a resource that is beyond what we can accumulate on our own efforts here on earth. We tap into God’s resources!

I can’t tell you the number of times I have not seen a way for financial needs to be met. Or for there to be enough money to meet whatever the expense was, but I still stepped out in faith and obedience to God in tithing and I watched as he “open the floodgates” on my situation. He has proven time and time again that he is faithful that he does what he says he will do and that he is a good, good Father. He is also so creative and he often is working behind the scenes before we even know that there is a need.

I used to have to travel back and forth to Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN for medical care. This has been an added expense in our life that not every person has to deal with. While receiving care there, making the long drive on my own was too tiring for me to do by myself. It was not something that my husband was always able to take time off from work to take me. It was also very expensive, even for short trips.

On one occasion a lady who attended our church at the time did a lot of traveling for business. She contacted me and offered to give me a plane ticket because she had so many accumulated miles built up for free tickets. She also had enough free vouchers that she was able and wanted to give me the points that would cover my hotel stay as well. The vouchers were only for certain hotels in the city, and one happened to be across the street from Mayo Clinic. What a blessing! She had a giving heart and it was evident in her life that God blessed her and she just poured it right back into others. God completely provided and blessed me through her. I, in turn, do my best to give to others and bless them as I am able and as God directs me. I know that if I give, he has something he wants to give to me already on the way. It may not be immediate, but often times it’s close by and it’s so fun to see how he works! I don’t give to get, but it’s just how God works.

Another example of God’s provision is when we were getting close to completing our license to do foster care. At the time, my husband and I were both driving paid for cars, each seating a standard 5 passengers. There were 3 of us in our family. About a month prior to our first placement, my car got stuck in a bad hail storm while I was at a store less than two miles from our home. The storm completely totaled my car but missed our house (I believe that is the hand of God). Insurance money provided a lump sum that we put in the bank. We were planning to have to get a larger vehicle to accommodate more children but didn’t know when. We could have only had one foster child for our first placement and our current cars would have still held our family just fine.

When we received our first placement of children, it was a sibling group of three kids. Our family doubled in a day! Two of the kids needed regular car seats and one, a booster seat. We did not have enough room for all of us to ride in one vehicle and especially to meet the car seat criteria (we had a total of 4 kids ages five and under). We found a nice minivan for sale by owner in a town that was an hour away. It had pretty high miles but was a Toyota, so had lots of miles left on it to use and it was priced at a total to where we were able to pay cash for it because of the insurance money. (I always said that I would never drive a minivan, but be careful about saying “never”). 🙂 God provided a good vehicle and we didn’t have to take out a car loan! On the way to get the van (we were driving both cars to go check it out). My husband’s car was older and the engine completely died, so we all had to pile into my car. My son sat on my lap (completely breaking the law, I know) and the three foster kids were squeezed into the backseat. The baby cried the whole way (welcome to the first 12 hours of becoming foster parents). It was very stressful at the time, but quite the adventure to say the least! We made it through!

So we bought the van, which had been very well cared for. The sweet lady we bought it from even called about a week after our purchase to check up on us and see how we liked the van. She said that she gets pretty attached to her vehicles. 🙂 My husband upgraded to the car I had been driving and sold his old car, which was needing to be replaced. It had lived a full life. My old car that he took over, ran great and had lower miles, it just had some hail dents which do not bother us. I would rather not have a car payment! Point of this whole story being, God completely provided for our needs and all in perfect timing! I could tell story after story, similar to these, of how we have seen God’s hand move in our lives because we are faithful in tithing and honoring him with our finances!

Cheerful giving. God loves a cheerful giver! 2 Cor. 9:7 says, “Let each one give [thoughtfully and with purpose] just as he has decided in his heart, not grudgingly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.”

Have you ever received a gift from someone and you could tell that they didn’t really want to give you anything? The gift itself may have been just what you wanted but because of the attitude of that person, you didn’t even want the item or money, or whatever they were giving away. That’s how God feels when we give back to him (tithe) but do it begrudgingly. To reiterate, God doesn’t need our money; He wants our hearts! When we give cheerfully, it shows God the condition of our hearts.

Have you ever received a gift from someone that they were SO excited to give to you? You could tell that they put forth a lot of thought and effort. That makes a person feel so blessed!! Have you ever received a gift where you know it took self-sacrifice on the part of the giver in order to give that gift to you? It doesn’t have to be an expensive gift, but to that person, it cost him a lot. It’s humbling, to say the least. You know that that kind of giving comes straight from a loving heart. That person truly cares! There were times when my oldest child, my son, was little and he would wrap up a favorite toy or stuffed animal to give to me. The thought and care that was coming from his little heart, overwhelmed me and made me so proud of him.

I like the story of the widow woman who gave everything she had, every last coin (found in Mark 12:41-44 and in Luke 21:1-4). Jesus called to his disciples and said, “Truly I tell you, this poor widow has put more into the treasury than all the others. They all gave out of their wealth; but she, out of her poverty, put in everything—all she had to live on.” Mark 12:43-44.

Recently, my middle daughter (who was 5 at the time) was grocery shopping with my husband. Out of nowhere, she exclaimed, “I want to get mom a Christmas present!” So he let her pick out whatever she wanted to get for me. Out of all the options in the grocery store, she chose a 64 oz. bottle of lemonade! I don’t very often drink lemonade, especially in the winter. I don’t think I have ever bought a big bottle of it, so for her to get this idea out of no where, I believe was a God-inspired gift! She has no idea about this blog or the meaning to me behind lemonade. This made that bottle of lemonade mean that much more to me, not to mention her love and thoughtfulness behind the gift. Now, we are trying to teach her how to keep presents a surprise until they are given. She came home and ran right up to me. “Mom! I bought you a Christmas present from the store! I got you LEMONADE! But, Shhhh…it’s a surprise for Christmas. You can’t have it til Christmas!” 😀

I have seen time and time again, God’s faithfulness in provision when I am faithful in tithing to Him! I have seen him grant the desires of my heart as well as meet my needs when I am faithful in giving to Him as well as blessing others. I have also experienced times when laziness has set in or our hearts were not in the right place and we would miss several months of tithing. Paychecks would come in without giving back to God. I can best describe it as it felt like God’s covering over our finances lifted. Like he stepped back and let us experience what life is like when we are trying to do it all on our own. Using our own wisdom and making just the resources in front of us to get by rather than His finite wisdom and resources. It’s not a place I want to be in or stay in for sure.

God wasn’t “punishing us,” just allowing us to experience life without his covering. We don’t have his blessing when we are trying to go our own way and do things on our own. Life felt like everything was spinning out of control. There wasn’t peace. There was chaos, not just in finances and in material ways, but relationships and the harmony of our home. As we got back on track, that peace and security and protected feeling returned. Peace and harmony, our family began to function like a well-oiled wheel rather than a squeaky wheel that was ready to fall off of its hinges. Life with God feels safe, however, it’s exciting because we don’t often know how God is going to work or act! That is not to say that nothing ever goes wrong or that things are perfect when we faithfully tithe. There is just a difference in where our hope and trust lies. God’s hands have the steering wheel rather than us trying to maneuver over all the bumps and sharp corners ourselves.

Diligent tithing brings about a sense of security, peace, and trust when we put God’s principles into practice. There is a sense of favor and blessing because we are honoring him with our lives and our hearts. Just as a child feels a sense of peace and security in the arms of a parent, or someone who he loves and trusts, so it is when we walk with God and follow his ways.

Final thoughts:

When the topic of giving was placed on my heart to write about, I planned to go about it more from the standpoint of “the heart of a giver.” In other words, giving for the blessing of making others feel loved and cared for. It’s more blessed to give than to receive. (Acts 20:35) I did not intend for this writing to be so geared towards our giving to God. However, from my beliefs and experience, God is the ultimate Giver. He gave His one and only Son, Jesus, so that we can have a way to eternal life with Him (John 3:16). Through Christ’s death and resurrection (the atonement for our sins. 1 John 2:2) Therefore, we follow God’s example to us, of we ourselves being givers.

I realize that not everyone who reads this post shares my same belief system regarding God and the Bible. However, I do think there is something to be gained in giving, no matter where you are in your personal beliefs. Most people, as a whole, recognize the importance of giving: putting others before ourselves, and see that blessing can come from making others feel good. I hope, that perhaps you will be open to idea of there being a one, true, living God in whom we can have a personal relationship with and that maybe my blog and personal stories will spur you on to look more into Christianity and developing your own walk with God.

Some of you may already on the path of believing there is a God but you are not living out a walking, talking, full-on relationship with Him. I encourage you, wherever you are at this new year, to try taking just one step further from where you have been. Perhaps, that step is simply slowing down to see the needs of those around you and being more mindful of others before yourself. You never know when you may be the answer to someone’s prayer. Perhaps, you are an all-out, Bible-believing, follower of God but you haven’t ever consistently taken God up on His offer to TEST Him with your finances. Take that next step of faith. Make a plan on how you will go about doing this and just see what blessing and provision will come your way in 2020! It’s an adventure and God is ready for you to take Him at His word!

For more detailed question/answer information on tithing, check out this great resource:

https://www.daveramsey.com/blog/daves-advice-on-tithing-and-giving

Beauty from Ashes

Beauty from Ashes

I had the opportunity and priviledge of interviewing a very inspiring young lady who is wise and brave beyond her years. I believe that her story will touch many lives and help others find the healing, peace and courage that they need in order to move forward from their own traumatic experiences. Here is an iconic “lemons to lemonade” story.

Tabitha is a 17 year old junior at Liberty North High School in Liberty, Missouri. Her life seems like that of a typical teen. She was involved in cheerleading and enjoys art. She takes pottery/sculpting classes and has an after-school job. The majority of her time is spent focusing on academics so that she can meet her future college and career goals. In meeting Tabitha, you would never guess that her past holds such a dark experience. 

Around the age of five years old, Tabitha began going to her Great Grandfather’s house to be cared for while her mother went to work. She would go there about four to five days per week. Her Great Grandfather lived in a cabin in the woods, a long distance from town. When he began taking care of her, he would talk to her about sex; explicitly describing the concept to her which led to him performing the act with her each time she went to his house. He told her that it was their little secret and not to tell anyone about it. He also brain-washed her into thinking that this was a normal relationship between children and adults and that all kids did this, it was just never talked about. This routine continued on for five years. 

Tabitha’s mother fully trusted her grandfather and never imagined him performing such horrific actions towards her daughter. She noticed behaviors in Tabitha that raised concerns and qued her into asking questions of her daughter. This led to the secret becoming exposed. Tabitha said that the initial concerning behaviors her mother witnessed were that Tabitha was much more mature acting than other kids her age. Also, when Tabitha was around her great grandfather, their relationship dynamic was more like that of a girlfriend/boyfriend. Once the secret was out, Tabitha’s mother notified authorities immediately. When her great grandfather realized that his actions of five years had been found out, he shot and instantly killed himself.

Once Tabitha was enlightened to the fact that what her great grandfather had been doing to her was wrong and that he was dead, she became a very angry person. What angered her most of all was that, in her words, “he took the easy way out. He never had to pay for what he did to me and I wouldn’t get my justice.”

This is a clay sculpture that Tabitha created, depicting her molester and the innocence that was stolen from her as a little girl.

Processing such a life-altering event spilled over into everything in Tabitha’s life. Her thoughts were consumed by the events of her past. She became a very emotional and angry individual. She became a loner and didn’t want to spend much time with other kids her age. She felt that other kids were living “perfect” lives and could not relate to what she had been through. It was easier for her to keep to herself and escape into reading books. Tabitha suffered from severe depression, anxiety, and PTSD. She had difficulty sleeping. Counseling didn’t seem to help her either. She just wanted to be alone all of the time to process her thoughts. Her mom was always open to talking with Tabitha whenever she needed someone to simply listen. She used art as an outlet for her feelings as well.

At the age of 14, Tabitha recalls a conversation that she had with a special father-figure in her life. He asked her what she wanted to become when she grew up. She said that she wanted to pursue becoming a nurse and ultimately a nurse practitioner and work in the Obstetrician or ER department. This conversation brought about the realization to her that she had her whole life ahead of her. That “that man” had stolen five years of her innocense and childhood. The anger and emotions that his actions caused, stole another four years on top of that. She wasn’t going to allow him to control and manipulate any more years of her life. “Your past traumas don’t have to define you and rule over the rest of your life. People don’t have to let things (from their past) control them.” What a profound statement coming from a seventeen year old! Such wisdom and courage! That new mindset at the age of 14 was a turning point for Tabitha and that is where healing began for her. 

Tabitha, with her little brother.

At the present time, Tabitha feels that she has healed and is moving forward. She no longer struggles with any depression, anxiety or sleep difficulties. She has normal, healthy relationships with her peers. Telling others about what she went through has been a major step towards her healing. She said that the only “trigger” she sometimes has is when she hears someone’s story that is similar to her own but with a different outcome. Such as the child being killed or taking his/her own life. It makes her sad because they never got the opportunity that she did; to heal, move on, and live their life. Tabitha’s future goal of becoming a nurse practitioner will enable her to take her own experience and in turn help, educate, protect, and empower others. In essense, make “lemonade out of lemons.” When I asked Tabitha to summarize her traumatic life event, she concluded, “I’m stronger because of it!”

Tabitha’s story is one that, sadly, rings true to too many individuals. Her courage to speak out, not only brings freedom and healing in her own life, but also to other victims. I asked Tabitha what she would say to someone who has been sexually abused, or who is currently in an abusive situation. She said, “Don’t let them (the perpetrator) win. Don’t let them consume your life. Talk to someone you trust or go to authorities.”

I also asked Tabitha what she would say to parents or loved ones of someone who has been victimized. She said that you need to be a listening ear. Whenever the child needs to talk, always be open and willing to listen. She said that you should not push counseling if the child does not want to do it. Some kids want it and find it helpful, others do not. Let the child decide. Finally, she said that if the victim asks questions, then answer with truth and always be empathetic. Lastly, her words to parents: “Parents, look after your children, and other children, anywhere you are at. Listen to kids. Don’t be afraid to teach them the real terms for body parts and what good and bad touches are. If anything is suspected then ask questions. Molesters want parents to keep kids in the dark.”

I love Tabitha’s perspective and attitude towards life and her past! We can all learn and grow from her. I think everyone has been through some type of past hurt that has left a wound or scar. For some, it carries on for years, keeping them from fully living and enjoying their life. Take Tabitha’s mindset and break free from the bondage of your past that is holding you back! Today is a gift! Today is your day to start anew!

“Don’t let one experience ruin the rest of your life. We only get one life.”- Tabitha Michelle

If you would like to contact Tabitha with questions or comments regarding this article, you can reach her at: [email protected]  

“Watching Tabi grow and develop into not only a better sculptor over the past 3 years has been certainly wonderful. However, being witness to Tabi working on her piece, communicating about her sexual abuse as a child, had to of brought up much emotion again for her. I hope the experience was therapeutic and brought her more healing. I applaud Tabi for being so vulnerable, to not only me in sharing her story and idea for the work, but knowing she had the inner strength to make the work and also display it in school among her peers is rather amazing for someone her age.” -Chablis Sanchez Martin, Art Teacher, Liberty North High School

How To Read My Blog…

This is my little “How To” statement, helping readers get an idea for my voice and how to go about reading this blog. I realize that some people may stumble upon my writings and not know me personally so I feel like I need to help a brother out. 😀

First of all, I like to joke and so I write with a lot of humor. I can be pretty sarcastic at times. I hope that my humor shines through, even if you don’t know me in person. Humor and laughter are so important. It’s how I get through life! That and Jesus (coffee, wine and chocolate help too)! 😉

I’m unapologetically Christian. I believe that the Bible is the inspired, active, living, sharper than a double-edged sword, Word of God (Hebrews 4:12). I realize that not everyone who reads my writings share or live by the same beliefs and convictions as me. Perhaps, your viewpoints are quite the opposite. Please know that I respect you and care for you as a human being and invite you to read along anyway! Hopefully, there are things that you can take away and learn from me and my experiences.

I believe that we can learn from everyone, even if we don’t see exactly eye-to-eye. I will be the first to openly admit that claiming to be a Christian does not mean that I think that I’m perfect! Strive as I may to follow Biblical guidelines, I fail daily at perfectly living up to God’s standards! God is the God of love, grace, peace, and mercy! I hope that, if nothing else, you can walk away from this blog with a refreshed perspective on Christianity.

I write with a heart of love and acceptance of people from all walks. Acceptance, meaning, “I care for you and invite you to come along with me on my journey.” I have no interest in arguing about beliefs. Feel free to share your viewpoint if it differs, just please do so with respect and kindness. I simply want to share my life and hope that I can help others!

Perhaps you have experienced hurts, mistreatment, and disappointments by the church or those claiming to share the same faith. As a Christian and on behalf of all believers, I apologize. I know many people who steer clear of churches because they believe churches are full of hypocrites. Well, no one is perfect! Church should be a place to learn, grow, and support one another in our daily lives and walks with Christ. I too have had my share of hurts, but I continue to press on because that is what God calls us to do; to forgive, to love and to move forward! I hope that you can find forgiveness and healing!

Grace, peace, and blessings to you!

Let Me Introduce Myself

Let Me Introduce Myself

They say to do something every day that scares you. Frankly, putting together this blog is pretty terrifying! Here is a bunch of random info to help you get to know me a little better.

*****Warning: this is long and possibly mind-boggling. Read at your own risk! 😉 *****

My Terrific Trio, a few years ago

I’ve been married for almost 16 years. My husband and I met in college. We had similar groups of friends but never met until his senior year (my junior year). We have three kids, ages: 11, 5 and 4. We were foster parents for five years; parenting 18 different kids. Some for short periods of time, but I remember each one and for that sliver of time when they were under my roof…they were “mine!” My middle child was adopted from foster care when she was 17 months old. I found out that I was pregnant (complete surprise) during the adoption process. Our youngest “bonus baby” was born two months after we finalized adoption. Looking back, I don’t know how I did it. Somedays, I still don’t know how I do it. Raising kids is tough! Especially when they have varying needs.

Me as a baby.

I was born in Custer, SD and raised in the Black Hills living in various towns here for most of my life. The Black Hills are home to me. I really LOVE the Hills and am a South Dakota girl through and through! I lived in the Twin Cities and attended a private college for a short period of time during my college career. It was fun to experience city life, but I really am a small town, country girl at heart!

I’m a chocoholic. I like all types. My favorite is dark, like 60% cocoa or higher. I also really like white chocolate. Combine either with peanut butter and you’ve won my heart forever! Nutella is amazing! Nutella and peanut butter, together on a spoon, are a match made in heaven! Oh, and Junior Mints…kept in the freezer; another favorite treat!!

I’m a complete Foodie and will eat pretty much anything that is in front of me. However, I don’t like bologna or lima beans. Overall, I eat healthfully, but life is all about balance!

I like to try new foods, especially unusual things like different kinds of seafood. It may have helped that I grew up with a dad who is a hunter. One time my mom and sister and I unknowingly ate rabbit meat. My dad wouldn’t tell us what it was until later after we had eaten it. He knew we wouldn’t have eaten it knowing that it once was a cute little bunny innocently hopping through the forest (insert tear wipe). 😀

As a kid, I lived through the ’80s and swore I would not fall back into that clothes trend if it ever came back around again, but here I am…rolling my jeans. It seems so much cooler the second time around. I was an L.A. Looks Hairspray girl. I spent a long time in the mornings curling my bangs and trying to get them high enough. The next hurdle was to spray them stiff enough to last several hours. Remember rolling the pant legs? The “fold-over and roll” could be tricky and took some practice. Did anyone safety-pin the bottoms of their jeans? I spent way more time on primping and caring how I looked back then compared to now! Why did I care so much?! Maybe because I had an older sister and followed along with she and her friends?

I enjoy music. All types and various artists, except punk-rock/heavy metal. I don’t care for the screaming. LOL. My first cassette tape was the Beach Boys. I loved the song Kokomo. Also, California Girls. I was always a little bummed about their description of “midwest farmer’s daughters.” I still have that cassette tape. Nope, I’m not a hoarder, but who can get rid of the Beach Boys?!?!!

I like kids and have worked with them for, well…forever! I was like the “Baby Whisperer,” even as a kid. One time, when I was about 6 or 7 years old, my mom took me along with her to a baby shower. The baby had already been born. Every lady wanted to hold that baby girl! She was crying and crying like something was really hurting her. Every mom passed her around and took her turn at trying to soothe the little baby. I LOVED babies! I wanted to hold her so badly! No one could calm her down. Finally, I got the courage to ask to hold her. Hesitantly, they let me. I laid her on her belly, facing downward on my arm. I gently and rhythmically bounced her and rubbed her back. She stopped crying right away and was comfortable. I’m sure it was tummy gas and that position brought relief. The moms were amazed. A little while later, the baby’s mom took her back and the baby started crying again. I think the moral of this story is “do not look down upon someone because they are young.” (1Tim. 4:12).

I’ve always been a bit of an “old soul.” I started babysitting when I was eleven years old. Now that I’m a parent, I can’t believe people left their kids with me at such a young age! Actually, we leave our eleven-year-old son to babysit his little sisters sometimes, but not for too long. I was responsible and mature at an early age. I babysat throughout all of my growing up years and nannied while in college. It just made sense for me to major in elementary/early childhood education.

Our family dog, Barney. He was getting pretty old by the time I came around. He was a wedding gift to my parents. I was about 3 or 4 when he passed away.

I like animals. For some reason, I always come upon animals that need help finding their home. It’s happened to me a few times just in the past couple of weeks. Dogs that are out wandering…I go get them. I don’t want to see them get hit by a car or lost. I have had many dogs throughout my growing up years. All were labrador retrievers. They were “hunting dogs” for my dad but also family pets. Two were hit and killed after not having them for very long. We lived in the country, close to a highway. Sometimes they would wander off. Most were rescued from the humane society. Growing up, I also had multiple fish, a gerbil, hamster, mini-flop-eared rabbits, a six-toed kitty that followed me home as a kitten, a treefrog and multiple animals and reptiles that we caught and kept for awhile. I share more detailed stories about all of these incredible creatures in another post called Animals are Family Too.

What else?… Hmmm…I like long walks on the beach. I know…that sounds like a Personals Ad, but really, I do!! Being at the ocean is one of my FAVORITE places ever! I don’t think I could get tired of it! If I go too long without seeing surf then I just, well…crave it! My husband says that I must have been a mermaid in my “previous life.” That’s just got to be true! I think mermaids are amazing and I’m sure they are for real! 🙂

Oceanside California, May 2019

Sharks are fascinating and creepy, to me. I want to swim with them, but only if I can be in a shark cage…wearing full-body shark gear…carrying shark repellent. 🙂 I love watching Shark Week on the Discovery channel! And those breaching Great Whites at the southern tip of South Africa. If I get brave enough maybe I will share my Bucket List/funeral idea. It could send some of you running if you only knew what kind of crazy thoughts this brain of mine entertains! 😉

I am a blank canvas…no tattoos. Only the butterfly stamps that my little girls put on my arms. Sometimes, when I’m feeling really daring…I let them paint my fingernails…RED. LOL! I have nothing against tattoos, I just have never felt compelled to get any. Maybe getting a tattoo will go on the list of “Things to Accomplish Before I Turn 40?” I don’t know, a tattoo feels like such a big commitment. I don’t know what I would pick. It would have to be something that I could like for the rest of my life. Something that could still look good on “old person” skin. I’m picturing this wrinkly, Winnie the Pooh bear on some old lady’s ankle while in the nursing home. 😀 I have had my ears pierced…six times…in the same spot. I kept getting infections and had to let the holes close up. I’m hoping that sixth time is a charm. So far, it’s going pretty good for me.

I really wish this text allowed for creative emojis!! I like emojis and hashtags. Some people don’t, but I really do! It just adds to the article and attitude behind the writing! Just read this article with lots of humor and sarcasm and you should do just fine!

I love to laugh and joke. People who can do this with me are my most FAVORITE people. EVER!!! It’s kind of like a must-have trait in order for us to hang out. 😀 Really, I love all people, but those with humor and wit are just MY kind of people! You keep life fun!

I’m a grammar and spelling nerd. You may find a ton of mistakes in my writing though. Grammarly, you’re leaving me hangin’ here.

I love American history, particularly the history of my local area. #HistoryBuffsRUs (insert arm flexing emoji). Many Wild West legends once lived here or passed through at one time. I’ve taken more post-grad credit hours in Black Hills history than I’m willing to admit. I want to travel to Savannah, GA and learn more about the South and Civil War history. I also want to visit the New England States. I think it’s a beautiful area and would love to see the roots of where our country started. Have you ever watched the TV series Turn: Washington’s Spies?! I have watched all four seasons on Netflix! It keeps me at the edge of my seat, even though I don’t like all the blood and gore. I would have totally been a spy, back in the day. I enjoy mystery and adventure!

OMG…this is getting SO loooong. A little wine or tequila while blogging…makes me write like “no one is reading.” I could develop a real fan club if I keep this up. Ha! I do enjoy those things but all alcohol in moderation and use responsibly. ?

I’m not sure if many people are reading my posts. My husband hasn’t read any yet; so…is anyone else? I keep asking him to…maybe he will someday. I get so much enjoyment from writing! He has helped me a lot with designing this site. I know what I want things to look like and I tell him and he puts it together effortlessly. I’m slowly learning how to do the more technical things on my own. I have to write down the steps and practice a few times before I get it. I’m just not a “techy.” I’m a pen and paper kind of girl. I depend on my husband to make technology devices operate properly. I don’t know the correct technical names for technical things. I use phrases like, “do-hickey” and “thingy-ma-bobber” and “whatchamacallit.” ? Somehow, he knows what I’m talking about!

Blogging makes me think of “Julie and Julia,” you know…that movie starring Amy Adams and Meryl Streep?! Julie is a food blogger. You’ve just got to watch it if you haven’t before. A lot of people tell me that I look like Amy Adams or Emma Stone.

Ballerina Girl

I love to dance!! I started taking ballet lessons when I was three years old, at the YMCA in Custer, SD. Growing up in small towns, I did not always have dance lessons available. I took Jazz lessons when I was a teenager and friends taught me Tap and Pointe. I did cheerleading from 6th grade through my freshman year of college, at Northwestern College, or University of Northwestern…or whatever they call it these days.

Senior year: Homecoming
football game

I was a football and basketball cheerleader during my high school years. During my sophomore year of high school, I had the opportunity to travel to Hollywood, California and perform in the Hollywood Christmas Parade. I was also on the dance team in high school and college. I was Captain one year and Co-Captain the next…in that order…which makes no sense to me, but it doesn’t matter. I enjoyed it and just liked being a part of the team. Growing up, I have so many good memories of doing dance and cheerleading!

I never got asked to prom while in high school, or to any school dance for that matter. I always ended up having to ask a date. That just sucked! It made me feel bad! I was friends with guys. How come I couldn’t get a date??!! My mom would say, “Kristen, you’re the kind of girl who guys want to marry, not date.” Maybe that is why…or just too much “personality?” 😀 I did get asked to prom by a student while I was substitute teaching in a high school. I said that I needed to ask my husband. 😉

I got asked to “dinner” by an 83-year-old man who I met while I was on a trip to the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN. His hotel room was next to mine. He was such a sweet guy! We met in the hotel lobby. He taught me how to play cribbage. We shared potato salad, a BBQ sandwich, and a donut. There is actually a longer story to all of this. I’ll share it another time. But you’ve got to love those older men! They actually have manners and chivalry!

I have always loved to travel and was blessed to take a lot of trips while growing up, seeing different parts of the country and one time, the Caribbean! I have been able to take some great trips too during my adult years. I get antsy to see the world and just have to get away for a bit. It’s always nice to return to a place that is home!

I love to fly. That feeling of when the plane is taking off and landing, it’s gives me butterflies in my stomach. It’s so exciting! In recent years though, I have developed some airplane anxiety. It has come out of nowhere. It’s not every time and I haven’t fully discovered why it happens. I think it may boil down to a “lack of control” from being confined to an airplane and at the mercy of airport schedule. I have to focus hard on my mindset in order to fight off fearful thoughts and get through certain situations where I feel panic could set in). I’m planning to write a blog post on the topic of anxiety at a later date. I believe there are many out there who can relate, who struggle with similar issues.

Watching my kids fly for the first time a few years ago on a trip to San Diego was a gift in and of itself to me! Watching their faces as they discovered new places and things. Letting them experience the ocean and another part of the country; a lifetime memory for them! “I would rather have a passport full of stamps rather than a house full of stuff,” I believe is how the saying goes.

Seeing different places is exciting and fun for me! I should have been a travel agent. I can plan a trip on a very slim budget!! Like, jaw-dropping, “how the heck did you ever find tickets for that price,” kind of traveling. I give God the credit. I pray a lot when planning a trip and I believe he blesses and opens up doors because I’m seeking Him with every detail of the planning. I’ve helped others with their travel pursuits as well. I enjoy it! Perhaps this is job idea number 432 to add to the lists of “Future Careers” and “Businesses to Own.” I’m an entrepreneur at heart.

I think I will write a blog post just on travel. Stay tuned…..

Other fun facts…I share a birthday with Abraham Lincoln. He is my favorite US President. I think so highly of him; his character, integrity, and courage that he displayed during one of the most crucial and stressful events in our nation’s history; a definite turning point (the Civil War).

My favorite tv shows are The Office and Seinfeld. I quote these shows regularly and compare episodes to experiences in my everyday life. It’s disappointing if someone hasn’t watched the shows and don’t get my joke! Explaining jokes is never fun!

I have been pulled over by policemen eleven times and never given a ticket…possibly 12 times. I’ve lost track. 🙂 Mostly for speeding. A few times for not having my lights on (parking lot lights throw me off). Also for driving the wrong way down a one-way street. Eeeek! I just find myself caught up in whatever it is that I’m doing…and then bod-a-bam-bod-a-boom…I’m breaking the law.

The best “excuse” that I had for speeding was when I got pulled over headed to the hospital for my first dose of an IV chemo med that is used for autoimmune conditions. I was nervous and trying to get to my appointment on time. The policeman asked me where I was headed. I told him I was “going to get chemo.” Truth! He seemed like he felt a little embarrassed and awkward. He let me off the hook with a “warning.” It was the first time I felt truly grateful for the medical junk that I was going through and like there really was “good” that could come from everything. LOL.

I like words…learning new words or studying a word’s actual dictionary meaning. I also make up my own words. Thanks to gas stations that share vocab words on the screen while you are pumping your gas… my vocab is widely expanding. A lot of times a favorite word will stick around for a while and I’ll find myself using it often. The past few months, my word has been “wonky.” I have A LOT of wonky moments!

I love the outdoors! I love doing ANYTHING that is outside: Hiking, biking, swimming, skiing, running. I would like to try snow-shoeing. This winter I want to get cross-country skis so that I can get outside more often, even when it’s snowy. I need sunshine in the winter!!

I like to be creative and make things. Decorating is fun for me. When I can figure out how to recreate a room on a “dime” that is even more fun for me. It’s a challenge that I enjoy.

You would not know it from my writing, but I can be a little bit quiet and reserved in person. Once I begin to feel comfortable then, look out! You may regret that I feel that way. LOL. I think sometimes people think that I’m snobbish until they get to know me. That is not the case, though. I am friends with everyone and openly embrace all different types of people!

I would rather have quality relationships than having stuff; invest my time into others. I try to think of how I can help someone else or encourage them. Rejection is probably the most hurtful thing to me. I really try to receive everyone and love them where they are at.

I’m pretty simple when it comes to hair and make-up and “girly” stuff. I just don’t put much money or time into it. I’ve been known to cut my own hair on several occasions. I shower at night. When I wash my hair…I go to bed with a wet head and let the pillow work its “magic.” I love coconut oil! To me, it’s like Windex is to the Greeks in the movie My Big Fat Greek Wedding. There are just so many uses!

I am always trying to simplify and live more minimally, but it can be challenging, especially with a family. I don’t like debt…at all! Same with clutter; both stress me out!! I was able to graduate from college without student loans. I had scholarships and lived with my parents for part of college. I also worked. Almost everything I earned went towards paying for school. I started in high school saving towards college. My parents helped out with the cost of books and anything else that I was not able to cover on my own.

I’m pretty frugal for the most part. I don’t like to waste things, especially food. We eat leftovers or I remake them into something new until everything is gone. I mend and patch clothes (I think that is a dying art). I try to be a good steward. I buy a lot of stuff used, but invest in new items when I can. I try to go for quality over quantity. I try to take care of what I own. It often lasts a long time.

I owned an old green Huffy bike for 22 years. I bought it from Kmart with babysitting money when I was a teenager. There were about 7 years where I was too weak to ride it. I finally invested in a new one last summer. It is so light and easy to ride! I love it and it was worth the investment! The Huffy was still in good condition. I was a little sad to see it go. We had been SO many places together! Lots of miles ridden and memories tied to that bike.

I’m trying to teach my kids these lessons. Earning money, saving up to buy things that they will use and enjoy. Taking care of them so they last a long time. Being a good steward. My son is 11 and mowed lawns this past summer. He bought himself two bikes, a skateboard, and a scooter. Now I need to work on teaching him savings. There is always winter snow shoveling for the neighbors!

I’m really sentimental. I have a hard time getting rid of clothes because I attach memories to them. Also my kids’ baby clothes. Ugh…they once were so tiny! Being sentimental and trying to be a minimalist really contradict each other. Baby steps. I like Marie Kondo’s perspective. It’s what sparks joy for you. The quantity and item just depend on the person.

I enjoy music and singing, but usually, stick with places like the car or at home. The shower has great acoustics! I like learning new things. I have a goal to learn to play the guitar. I played the piano and clarinet while growing up. Also, the harmonica and school recorder…outside of my big sister’s bedroom…at 6:00 on Saturday mornings. #bestlittlesisterever I can play a school recorder with my nose. Brace yourselves people…I’m always open to autographs! 😉 #nosemusician

I have a heart for adoption whether it’s people or pets. I don’t like to see anyone or anything left out. Love the “least of these.” Which brings me to God. I believe that adoption is His heartbeat. So last, but certainly not least, is my walk with God. Really this should be first but, how does that song go?…”Darlin’, save the last dance for me!”

Yes…God! He is who I center my life around. All of my decisions are based upon the principles in the Bible. I fall short every day. That’s the beauty of God. We don’t need to be perfect for Him to accept us. He often reminds me that I’m only human and he loves me just the way that I am. Flaws and all. He wants us to come to Him just as we are…broken people with messed-up lives. He is always waiting with His BIG open arms to receive us. To love and forgive us. He paid a HUGE price tag for us…the life and death (and thankfully, the resurrection) of His Son, Jesus Christ.

God is my all in all. It is He who has sustained me, graced me and filled me with peace, hope, and joy as I have walked through some very dark and hopeless looking situations in my life. He is my Way-Maker, Redeemer, Father, and Friend! Everything that I have and all that I am, I owe to Him. I am a child of God!

Congratulations on making it to the end! I should mail out medals! 😉

Imperfectly Perfect

Imperfectly Perfect

I’m struggling here. I want this blog to be a fun hobby…an outlet, not a chore. So far, it has mostly been enjoyable. But I’m also struggling…

Perfectionism.

I have always struggled with perfectionism! How does a person get hung up on trying to attain something that’s impossible? It’s been my nature for as long as I can remember. I was the kid who loved order and kept her bedroom as “perfect” as I could, for my sake, not because I was expected to do so. This gave my older sister some great ammo for getting under my skin. I noticed anything that was out of place because everything had a place. “Don’t touch anything!” And “Don’t you dare sit on my bed and wrinkle the blankets. I just made it!” (Crazy, I know).

I like things to be the best that they possibly can be. I want to do things well…with excellence…to the best of my ability. I get hung up…stuck. I have trouble moving forward. I’m afraid to make mistakes. I’m always trying to figure out the best. way. possible. I’m afraid of regrets, of hurting someone, of being…rejected. I feel inadequate. I contemplate all of the what-ifs, has beens and maybes. I over-think. Lord knows I over-think!

Control, insecurity and fear are the bedrocks of perfectionism.

I have this Jillian Michaels workout DVD. It’s awesome! I love Jillian! She motivates and inspires me. Jillian is tough. She doesn’t sugar-coat her words. “Perfect SUCKS! Perfect is BORING!” she yells at me through the screen as I’m breathing hard and trying to keep up with her. My heart is screaming, “YES! Sing it, Sister!” Yet, I still struggle.

I don’t think of myself as perfect. In fact, I KNOW that I am far from it. I don’t believe that I have set this expectation on others either. I think that I show a lot of mercy and grace towards people. Yet, why do I need to be perfect? Probably, feeling acceptance. Acceptance from others. Acceptance of myself. We have all experienced rejection. It cuts to the core; causes a person to build up walls for protection. “Maybe if I’m perfect then I won’t be rejected.” I know that is not true, yet I still believe the lie.

Back to Jillian…I’m at the end of the workout. Feeling pretty good because I set aside some time to take care of myself. To invest in my health. Then she says something profound, “It’s not about perfect; it’s about effort. When you bring your effort every day, that’s when transformation happens.”

Effort. I can do effort!

I’m growing in the area of letting go of perfection. The struggles I have faced with health issues or walking alongside others who are struggling and in the midst of their messy lives, have caused me to loosen up a bit; to give up some control. To appreciate what I do have. To give myself grace. To learn that it’s okay to be human sometimes. 🙂 To hang up my superhero cape and just be okay with not being okay. To be transparent with others. To admit that I need help and can’t do it on my own.

Humility. Grace.

Sometimes God steps back and waits until we are at the end of ourselves so that He can finally step in and work; to iron out the wrinkles in our lives. He loves us despite of our failures. He remembers that we are dust (Psalms 103:14). I’m slowly learning to be true to myself…accepting me just the way God made me. To love myself just the way I am, failures and all. It’s okay if sometimes my house looks like a tornado came through (hello mom of three kids…and a husband). I’m learning that it’s okay to not be liked or accepted by everyone (I’m a people-pleaser).

This brings me back to blogging.

Where do I even begin with blogging? I feel like I should be laying out this “perfect” foundation for you, my reader. Allowing you to get to know me and have a complete picture of my life before I share on anything else. There is so much. Is there a right or wrong way when it comes to blogging? I want to say “no.” Make it your own. Express yourself as you see fit. Yet, I struggle. Writing about my life and very personal events is vulnerable. Scary. Yet, I want to do it. I feel like God is leading me to write.

I am reminded that this doesn’t have to be perfect. Life isn’t perfect. I’m not perfect. We are all growing. I think that we are always discovering who we are and becoming a better version of ourselves. At least, that is what I strive for. So, when it comes to writing, there is always room for growth. I found a quote that I like: “Start writing no matter what. The water does not flow until the faucet is turned on.” -Louis L’ Amour

So here I am. I’m turning on the faucet.

Lord, let your words flow through me. Help me to share my heart and ultimately Your heart. May the roads I have walked down and the trials you have carried me through, be an instrument for helping others; a light and testament to your goodness, faithfulness, mercy and grace. May those who read my story and thoughts only see YOU and your great LOVE that you have for them. What you have done for me, you can do for others. Use me, imperfections and all! I am a willing vessel and that’s all that You ask of me! To God be the glory!

Amen.

Welcome!

Welcome!

Hello and welcome to my website blog! I’ve always thought that it would be fun to become a blogger; it’s kind of a Bucket List item. I enjoy writing and seem to express my thoughts more easily this way. I actually thought of the blog title and theme back in 2014 and my husband designed the logo for me. I never got further than that because we were doing foster care at the time with the intention of adopting. It just wasn’t the right timing yet.

I have walked through many hills and valleys in my life, spanning a variety of circumstances, all of which have produced growth and made me who I am today. I try to see what I can learn from every experience that I face and every person who crosses my path. I believe that I have gained wisdom through trials and can, in turn, help others who are facing hard times. If I can bring strength, hope, encouragement, wisdom, and inspiration to others then what I have walked through will make it all worthwhile.

I truly believe that God doesn’t allow us to go through difficulties without a purpose and a plan for our good when we allow Him to be in our lives and to guide and help us (Romans 8:28 and Jeremiah 29:11). He restores and brings beauty from ashes! Our job is to actively look for what that good is and then apply it. Oftentimes, the gain is simply personal growth (James 1:2-4)!

Over the years different people have encouraged me to write. From various school teachers and professors, friends and then there is my mom (love you, mom). I’m not writing this blog with the pursuit of fame but I am curious to find out if anyone besides my mom will read what I have to say. If my only readers are those closest to me, then that is okay. Writing a blog is a healthy and fun outlet. I love to create and writing is so therapeutic. Maybe I can help someone along the way!

Pin It on Pinterest