Friday, September 4, 2015

when confusion sets in . . .

I'm getting vulnerable in a whole new way. Sometimes in life we get to places and think, "how did i get myself here?" Recently, I've been stuck. I found myself in over my head in a lot of areas in my life. Putting unrealistic expectations and pressures on for no good reason, then freaking out and taking a bunch of stuff off my plate. I'm learning how to enjoy the stillness. How to be ok with rest. How to be ok with not doing.

I've been in this weird space where I started collecting a ton of books, reading up on the more current Christian women authors and diving in head first in my effort to be "ok" with silence and stillness - I filled the silence up super quick with reading. I kept searching for things to make me feel "ok" with where I was at when in all reality, I just needed to rest.

In most of the books I was reading, many authors talked about counseling and how freeing it was. I have friends that have done counseling as well and I thought I should give it a try. What's the worst that could come from it, right? I don't mind talking to people and being vulnerable (to a certain point), and I was looking for some direction in my life in certain areas -  it might be good to just get it all out. So, I signed up and started talking.

One of the key things I've been learning is how easy it is to listen to other peoples voices and opinions over listening to what make you tick, what you value, and most importantly - who God is and what He values. I found that I'm a people pleaser. I strayed away from time alone by myself because I often viewed it as "selfish". I can easily find out what makes you tick and work to meet your standards. I actually find a lot of joy in helping other people out. But, I got to a point where I could see what everyone else needed and I was ignoring what I needed. I honestly didn't even know what I needed anymore.

It's so much easier to get validation from real people than from an invisible God. I was finding it easier to read other self-help books verses reading the Bible as well. (Books aren't bad, but when they are replacing the Bible- you can get yourself into a sticky situation). I was letting confusion sink in. I was letting other voices tell me what I needed to do, who I should be, what I should be working on, what I should be quitting or ascribing too, and I stopped listening to what God was telling me to do.

Confusion: a) "lack of understanding; uncertainty. b) ">the state of being bewildered or unclear in one's mind about something. It's so easy to get confused when you are looking for "truth" from a bunch of different sources. I'm learning to enjoy reading the Bible again. Seriously, why is this so hard?! Literally an eye opening message on enjoying the Bible came through scrolling Facebook and stumbling upon a message from Eric Knopf. You can listen to his message here. This was his list that I L O V E D.

  • Don't wait until a crisis to read the Word.
  • Bad attitude towards reading the Word blocks revelation.
  • Don't have your Smart Phone near you.
  • Don't binge-read the Bible. We have these reading standards no one can live up to. Manage your appetite.
  • Don't limit your reading to the Bible. You're not cheating on the Bible when you read other books.
  • Don't read the Bible unprepared. Expect God to speak to you. In OT, God had people build a stack of rocks to remember. Steward what God tells you. Use a highlighter. Record what God tells you.
  • Do read the Bible in the morning. Your mind is less distracted/stressed and you're the most available for mental transformation. Morning gives God first fruits. It sets the trajectory of your day.
  • Do slow down! You'll notice things you miss when you're reading too fast.
  • Do read until you receive.
  • Do record, memorize and synthesize. You can avoid having crisis by getting direction before they show up.
  • Do read what is most enjoyable. There's something to be said for reading what interests you!
So, I'm taking time on Fridays now for myself (it used to be my "mommy" days with my kids). My goal is to really think about what I value. Getting back to the basics of enjoying reading and finding wisdom in the Bible. It doesn't probably sound so complicated - but it's clearing the haziness of confusion. The unclear things are fading away. I'm realizing that it's not selfish to take time for myself even when I could be giving my time to others. I've gotta get filled back up. 

Cheers to counseling, time alone, and finding truth and wisdom in the Bible (with JOY as opposed to a task). Hoping my vulnerability frees you up to do the same (even just with those in your closest circle).  

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

How Do You Do It All?!

How do you do it all? That's probably one of the questions I get asked most in life. How do you love your husband well? How do you love your kids well? How do you work full time? How are you so involved in church life? How do you find time to get to the gym? You lead a Mentor Mom program too? How do you find time to post on social media without it ruining your life? Does quiet time with God fit in there at some point?

All of these questions can seem so overwhelming and when I look at my life, I think, how does that all get done? And if it is (NOT), is it getting done well?  For the Love!

I'm excited to write today while teaming up with the For the Love Blog Tour. Because honestly, if you are to scroll through any of these blogs today (which will all sing high praises of this inspiring, real, hilarious, honest book) you will find that the answer to the questions above is that something has to give. Jen Hatmaker gives you freedom and G R A C E to not be everything to everyone.

I think deep down I'm realizing that I'm a people pleaser. I want people to be happy and come to a better understanding of who Jesus is, the G O O D that He is, the Rescuer you find in Him. Sometimes that pressure I put on myself can become so overwhelming that I start sacrificing the stuff that's most important to me. If I could sum up my response to this book, you'll find it here in the endorsement I submitted (it's not in the book BUT my name is - shameless plug):

In a culture that insists that women do it all, Jen dismantles the illusion of perfection in exchange for grace and love. She lifts the burden with humor and authenticity. For the Love makes room in our lives for what matters most: our relationships—relationships with our God, families, husband, kids, friends, and neighborhood. It's a no-brainer—this book will change the way you live your everyday life.

I have so many favorite chapters and favorite quotes I could fill up a week's worth of blog posts. I've already read this book two times! Two times! And I'm not typically a re-reader either. I just couldn't get enough of the G O O D that is in these powerful freeing words. Jen mentioned that her dream for this book was to help take you "off the hook." We live in a world of impossible standards, and the more we place high expectations on ourselves, the more we lose the ability to love those that matter most. Just because, here are a few of my favorite quotes:

On Balance:
It's like a unicorn; we've heard about it, everyone talks about it and makes airbrushed T-shirts celebrating it, it seems super rad, but we haven't actually seen one. I'm beginning to think it isn't a thing.
On Cooking:
Cooking is not an affliction . . . Cooking isn't actually hard at all. It is the simple mechanism that nourished every generation in time.
On Telling the Truth:
When I present a fabricated version of myself - the self who knows all, is ever certain, always steps strong - we all lose, because I cannot keep up with that lie and neither can you.
Don't try to win over the haters; you're not the jackass whisperer.
On Marriage:
Lean honestly into every hard place, each tender spot, because truthfulness hurts for a minute but silence is the kill shot.
On Jesus Kids:
Good behavior won't guarantee anything. If they don't love Jesus and people, it matters zero if they remain virgins and don't say the F-word. We must shepherd their hearts, not just their hemlines.
On Community:
If you can make a pot of chili and use a cell phone, then you can create community. 
Instead of waiting around for the church to assemble a perfect group dynamic of People Who Can Meet on Tuesdays, maybe just invite some folks over. A shared table is the supreme expression of hospitality in every culture on earth.
Final Thoughts:
Be kind. Be you. Love Jesus. 
I'm walking away from this book with a desire to be more present in my relationships, slow down a little, give grace unconditionally, and cheer for the woman sitting next to me. We've got a big job to do, and as we each play our part, we'll be able to accomplish it together.

Get your copy today!  Find more goodies on her website as well:

**Comment below with an area of your life that you need to give yourself a little more grace in for a chance to win your own copy of FOR THE LOVE! I'm giving another book away today. Share this post on facebook, twitter, instagram or pinterest and let me know and I'll give you an extra entry! Announcing the winner on August 20 when my copies of the books get in!

Friday, August 7, 2015

Friday Favorite Things!

I always love seeing what other people are into at the moment, so I thought I'd share with you what's been on my mind and in my hands lately! I would love for you to share your favorites back too.

1. The Happy Hour Podcast with Jamie Ivey
I've never really listened to podcasts before, but I seriously can't say enough good things about this one! I can't stop listening. It's as addicting as your favorite show on netflix. I've got this great drive into work & the gym these days with our new move, so it keeps me fed with all these great resources and inspiration. She even gives you a "how to" if you've never listened to a podcast before and need to learn how to get started. She's friends with some of my favorite authors, and I love the behind-the-scenes everyday life picture you get from listening.
Click Image for Link!

2. Serial Podcast
Literally this is the second podcast I've ever listened to and I couldn't stop. I love a good murder mystery and this is based on a true story with a reporter that tries to find out if the convicted-for-life felon is truly guilty or innocent. At the end of the show, you get to decide. I still don't know what to think about this particular case, but it's fascinating (and addicting). Warning, it's not kid-friendly content due to language and some graphic details. Listen at your own risk.

Click Image for Link!
3. Audible Book Downloads
Honestly, I can't say too much about this cause I just downloaded my first FREE book. Joe and I are going out of town this weekend and I got a book I thought we would both enjoy listening to on the drive. Again- I think I'm just learning about this whole "listen in your car" thing and I'm LOVING it. In case you are curious, I downloaded "Through the Eyes of a Lion" by Levi Lusko (I mean have you see Joe's back tattoo?) Levi is a pastor in Montana who lost his daughter at the age of 5 to an extreme asthma attack 5 days before Christmas. He's a wordsmith and I just can't wait to hear his story. I'll tell you more about it after this weekend.

Click Image for Link!
4. Hello Fresh
If you know anything about me you know how much I HATE cooking. So, in good fashion, I heard about "Hello Fresh" on The Happy Hour Podcast, and decided to try it out. Your first week you get 3 meals (which I only ordered enough for 2 people, cause Lord knows my kids eat like birds right now) and I got $30 off. So the total was only $39 for 3 farm-fresh meals. I'm going to try it out and see how it goes. I also got really enthusiastic and made a recipe binder that's still sitting in my car, ummmm ya. It was a good thought. Plus, I heard about this book "Devotions for a Healthier You" by Katie Ferrell and I stuck it in my Amazon account that Joe and I share, and he surprised me and bought it. I'll let you know how that read goes later. It has yummy recipes, it's just designed cute, and it was on sale, plus it's a hardcover. I love hardcovers.

Click Image for Link

5. For the Love by Jen Hatmaker
Speaking of cooking and inspiration. I really, really love the writings of Jen Hatmaker. I think she just speaks my language. She shared about a time in her new book "For the Love" when she decided to start to enjoy cooking. She was a macaroni and cheese, hamburger helper, peanut butter and jelly kind of cook, and then shifted her thinking. Started watching the food network, kicking the kids out of the kitchen while cooking if they were whining and complaining, turned some good music on, and created a process and love for the kitchen. I'm a work in progress, but it really inspired me. PS. I bought 5 copies of the book to giveaway. Let's start today! If you want a chance to win a free copy of the book (Guys, my name is in the back credits, gah!) comment below (on the blog or facebook) with one of your current favorite things! I'll randomly select a winner on Sunday 8/9. The books are shipping on August 18 (the release date of this little treasure.) Pre-order a copy today too! PSS. If you're extra interested, listen to Jamie Ivey interview Jen Hatmaker on the Happy Hour podcast. It's a good one.
Click Image for Link!

I've got a lot more favorite things to add to this list right now, but I'm going to stop with this and continue next week! Cross your fingers for some more goodies.

Thanks for reading and comment for your chance to win a book!


Wednesday, June 17, 2015

anything story // the hurting never stops

Jennifer Turney accidentally stumbled in our small group in October 2013 at Capital Christian Center in Sacramento, CA. Jennifer had recently been diagnosed with Systemic Lupus and had to resign from her occupation as an Addiction Specialist working for STARS (Specialized Treatment And Recovery Services) but she knew there was more to life than resigning to pain. I was leading a group called MOPS (Mother’s of Preschoolers) at the time and was looking for a way to blend a privileged community of moms with mothers needing a helping hand. Mentor Moms was birthed over breakfast at Ettores (a local bakery), while we shared a passion and a dream to connect the two diverse populations.
Jen & I

Jen's story is quite different than mine. Jen doesn't like talking about the past much because she feels like it highlight's too much of what the enemy has stolen from her. She wants to spend more time on what Jesus has given her instead! However, she survived human trafficking, eating disorders, domestic abuse, drug addiction and homelessness. Beyond that, Jesus came to her. Jesus rescued her! Jesus took all the broken parts of her past and showed up in a big way. He showed her what truth looked like for the first time.

Lupus took away some basic functions of life. Some days it's tricky to brush her teeth, style her hair, get dressed, put on makeup; the pain comes in like a flood and quickly strips her of normality. Other days, she's able to slowly get ready and make it out to a couple appointments. She's currently undergoing a trial-based treatment getting infusions (similar to chemo) every-other-week. She easily could give up on purpose in life. She easily could resign to pain and bed-ridden days. But she's not! She said an "ANYTHING" prayer when Jesus rescued her. She can't stand the idea of mothers never hearing the truth and freedom of Jesus. Though the pain in her physical body can be unending, she always mentions the hurt and the pain in the lives of women in our own Sacramento community that will never end until they are shown love in practical ways through our mentors. She's famous for saying, "I won't stop working because the hurting on the street never stops."

Jen & Laine with Mentee Amber & Kids

Jennifer had access to drug and alcohol treatment centers, transitional living programs, and CPS cases from her previous exposure and employment which helped provide a referral system for the mentees in our group. We were able to quickly create training material, recruit reliable mentors and set up a non-profit organization in the last two years through the good and the bad days of Lupus. Jen is a fighter. She's not going to go down without seeing God do a miracle. We are seeing miracles every day in the lives of our mentees who are overcoming huge obstacles. Even if her physical body is not healed on this earth, she is apart of healing hearts everyday and extending the love of Jesus.

Her story was shared at our Easter services in April 2015. You can watch part of her video here:


You can read more about the #anythingproject here: ANYTHING

Follow more of what Mentor Moms is doing on our social networks:
instagram @MentorMoms

Thursday, May 14, 2015

heartalk // capital women

there are seasons in life that come and go. i think the word "season" comes with even more impact and gurth when you become a mom. you travel quickly from infant season to toddler stage to preschool to elementary, etc. to top it all off, our culture puts various expectations on women to do it all and be it all to everyone. it becomes nearly impossible. the guilt piles on and we are left feeling undone, unsuccessful, unfulfilled. so, how to we go through these seasons of life with purpose, feeling free and alive? good question, right?! i don't know the answer, but i'm willing to walk out on the road to finding some peace in each season of life.

mops was a season for me. an extremely effective, growing, learning season. i loved every minute of it and the friendships that were birthed and maintained. but with much prayer, conversations and wisdom from friends and family, that season is over for me. it's time for something new. something fresh. something that can reach more women in this culture that we live in (large population of working moms). and with all that said, we want to join women who are walking through various seasons of life. generationally we can learn from each other. i desire to have people in my life wiser, with more years under their belt having those hard life conversations with truth and honesty. i also desire to walk with those younger than me, full of creativity, the world at their fingertips - how can we collide all types of women? again, i don't have the answer, but i don't want to sit still waiting for something to happen- i want to be apart of the solution.

this all leads up to "heartalk." it's a stirring in my heart and those i surround myself with. it's a desire to gather women from all seasons of life and talk "JESUS." talk about what Jesus is doing in our life. talk about how to include him better and more. talk about real life. the good, bad and ugly. Jesus promises us that we can have life abundantly and live in freedom. i want to take hold of that promise!

more to come. this is just the beginning.

Find out more info or RSVP for the event at:

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Discipline & Needed Change

My sweet little love decided she was sick of preschool after being in her new class for a couple of months. She's too smart for her own good, and went on a two-week spring of acting out in order for me to get the "preschool suspension" phone call and have to come pick her up. After a couple parent-teacher conferences, we all were wracking our brains for various ways to halt this spree of "sad heart choices" and we came up with plans to work together. (If you are looking for parenting advice, you've come to the wrong spot. I'll share my experiences with you candidly, but I'm not sure you will want to duplicate all the failure along the way.)

In the midst of it all, I sought to find humor in the disturbances. You can't make up the kind of outbreaks that Izzy attempted in seeking havoc in her classroom. My stack of incident reports is going to have to be displayed in her wedding video montage at some point. Her teachers are saints. They truly love her and were trying all kinds of methods to get her to listen. She just wasn't going to have it, because her ultimate desire was to get out of class and spend time with me. She knew what it took to achieve her goal. Act out dramatically (see report). Sit in the principles office (which is a resort to her). Phone mom for an early pick up and get an extra day off due to bad behavior (the best kind of consequence a three-year old could come up with). Don't feel sad for us just yet, this story gets better.

I attempted to share my "real life" parenting mess with the general public for these reasons below:
1. It's quite humorous
2. I enjoyed people telling me "paybacks a $#87!"
3. Some actually suggested good ideas and solutions
4. Some just came along the pity party with me
5. It's quite humorous (again)

I guess you would say most people probably look at my life and surroundings and think I should have this parenting thing all figured out. The good news is, I can't fool any of you. Each kid is uniquely designed and with God's help and guidance, we are doing the best we can. If you've got parenting struggles, know that you aren't alone! It happens to the best of us!

As stated before, the story gets better. My sweet, sweet grandmother (Mary Ann Cole) is an angel here on this earth. After seeing a couple of my facebook posts and incident reports, she called my father with sadness. She didn't think Izzy was capable of such disrespectful behavior. My dad reassured her everything was ok (and that Izzy just isn't saved yet and reminded her of my childhood) and she did what any amazing grandmother would do; she started praying for my dear child. During her prayer time, God gave her a new creative idea (seriously God-breathed). She asked me if she could pick Izzy up a couple days a week around noon. She would give her some one-on-one time (Izzy's love language would be "quality time") and they could play together. I didn't even hesitate! That would be the perfect solution for my little cherub. She could give her the quality time that I couldn't (I'm a working mom- thank you Jesus!) and it would break up Izzy's week a little.

Needless to say, she's been faithfully investing in Iz for the last three months. They've gone to the salon together, Nordstrom, the grocery story, walks to the mailbox, puzzles galore, coloring and so much more. Since she's been picking her up, I haven't received one incident report. Not one. I can't thank my grandma enough for following God's leading. They've got a special relationship. It's the sweetest. I think God knows what each of us needs. When we ask, he always answers!

Monday, May 19, 2014

Crying in the Costco Bathroom Stall . . .

I have been told that I was a "strong-willed" child. I've also been told that entering into parenting my past faults would come back to haunt me. I guess you could say it's the circle of life or whatever, but the truth is, it's becoming my reality.

Sample Incident Report
Don't get me wrong, my children are amazing! They surprise me everyday with glimpses of hope. But I'm also in the trenches right now. I'm walking through the messy parenting stages of life with a 4 and 2 year old. I cross my fingers daily as I go to pick up Izzy from preschool that she hasn't had a rough day. My stack of incident reports is growing (the only competition is my sister-in-law with my niece Ella- ha). My parent-teacher conferences are getting scheduled more frequently. It's no joke. I'm in the trenches.

I'm sure you are wondering what this all has to do with crying in Costco- so here goes. My cute little family of four adventured to Costco on Saturday before heading to a few family and friend BBQ's last weekend. We had to pick up "the goods." We like to think we have our shopping trips mastered at this point. Joe grabbed a cart and stuck Judah in it. I grabbed another cart and stuck Izzy in it. Divide and conquer, right?! Well, everyone needed to stop for a potty break so we headed to the bathroom. And so it begins. . .

Izzy is smart. Izzy is potty trained. Izzy is independent. She opened a bathroom stall and proceeded to go potty all by herself. I headed to the stall next to her (TMI-sorry) rushing quickly to make sure she didn't have any escapades crawling between stalls (cause that has happened before) I was done and waiting for her to finish. She started taking her time and I was in a little hurry to get our shopping trip done. I knew for sure at this point the boys were so far ahead of us, that I knocked on her door and offered to help her get her pants up. She insisted that she could do it herself which was fine for the first minute that passed. But with the clock ticking, I opened her door to which she responded by screaming loudly in the echo-y bathroom. I continued by pulling up Izzy's pants and carrying her out of the stall to her dismay. Those in the restroom (and outside the restroom) heard her disappointment and frustration. To me, it wasn't that big of a deal (maybe it should have been?). Just a battle of the wills at this point and I was going to win.

Well, I take Izzy up to the sink to wash her hands and she's still upset, but I'm #winning. I guess not only was Izzy upset, but an older woman also became very upset that I wasn't doing anything to put Izzy in her place. Washing her hands next to me, she looks over and says "Aren't you going to do anything about that? You know there is something you can do!" (I'm guessing she's referring to "spanking" her). To which I turn and say, "Thank you," very kindly as to not enter an altercation.  She grabs paper towels on the other side of us and turns to Izzy and says "Brat." I think more than anything at this point I was kind of in shock. No words came out of my mouth. She continued to exit the restroom and then turned around back to me and said, "You know the only reason she is like this is because of you." Still in shock I said, "Thank you, you have been very helpful." And she walked out the door.

She then runs into Joe and asks, "Did you confiscate my cart?" To which he replies (not knowing any of what just went down inside) "No, but your husband confiscated our extra cart and moved down that direction." She muttered under her breath and walked away.

I actually did not end up crying in the bathroom stall (just thought it would be kind catchy) but I know plenty of young, tired moms (without much support) that easily could have ended up defeated and crying in a stall. I probably felt a little deflated, but I won my battle with Izzy (even though it wasn't a quiet win). I explained to Joe what took place and he laughed. He said, their home must be really lame and not filled with much life. I guess the husband was standing by Joe (after the husband confiscated our extra cart) and when Izzy uttered her first frustrated scream the man said "Jesus Christ" to which Joe replied, "No sir. It's not Jesus. It's just Izzy." The man then walked further down the lane to remove himself from the scene of the crime.

Well, I know I don't have parenting figured out. Seriously, I don't. My children don't always listen to me at my first request. Sometimes there are tears, timeouts, spankings (we actually do spank sometimes) but I do try to ask God for help along the way. I know that He has given me my kids for this time in history. I know that He has equipped me to be their mom. To win some battles of wills, but more importantly to teach them that Jesus loves them. That Jesus has created them to show love to those around us. That Jesus has blessed us, so we can in turn bless others. We are walking life out together. I just wish that the nice old lady could have looked at me instead and said "I've been there. Keep fighting the good fight. You've got this."

I hope my little story sparks something in you today! Don't be discouraged. You've got this! My little fighter (her name is Ireland people) is going to be something mighty! This will be a story I can tell her when she ventures into parenting and has one just like her. Good luck!

My everyday life.