Thursday, September 29, 2011

Family Photos

I posted some of these on Facebook - but since not all of my family/friends connect with us that way I thought I would share a few here as well!! I don't want to share everything because I haven't decided yet what we will do for our Christmas cards this year!

Me and my handsome husband

Does it strike you that Elijah and Karlena have the same face in the above photo?! :)

My favorite part about the picture above is Elijah's pouty lip! He just cracks me up!!

Me and my favorite girl!!

Gabriel was supposed to give me a kiss and he DIDN'T want to! So he was laughing about it and I love it!

Daddy and Elijah touching the waterfall.

Thank you so much Anna with Studio W for taking our photos again!! We love them!!

My Soapbox

If the title of this post isn't warning enough let me give another one here....

I have been writing this post in my head for weeks now. I hope that I can share my point without sounding like a "know-it-all". And I must also clarify that I am NOT perfect...yes I know shocker!! :) And so although I will be sharing my point of view on a particular subject it doesn't mean that in MANY other areas I fail myself.

That being said....let me tell you a little about a particular "situation" at Gabriel's school.

The school over the summer constructed this BIG parking lot in front of the school. It has lots of spaces available for parking and then there is a curb along the entire lot that is designated for drop off and pick up.

When school started they sent out a memo AND made those school-wide parent alert phone calls. They said that IF your child was being dropped off or picked up - from the side of the car closest to the curb that you could use that method. The curb is for parents that DON'T need to get out of the car and get their child.

If your intent was to walk your child to the door etc then you were to park in the parking lot and bring your child over that way. NOT park your car on the curb and block the line of traffic.

For the most part the parents get it. You know "the rules"...."drop off etiquette". BUT there are those parent that just won't follow the "rules". They won't pull ahead so all curb space is maximized. They park their car at the drop off curb, get out and walk to the building.

Every day I see this happening and I will be irritates me to no end! Didn't they get the memo? The phone calls?


Boy if they would just do things the way that I do the whole world would run better right?! :)

In other soapbox relate-able news...

While waiting for Gabriel to come out of school yesterday I was watching the kids that were lining up for the bus. These are younger kids than Gabriel so either 1st graders or even kindergartners.

There were 2 kids in line next to each other and they were talking (I couldn't hear them) and then all of a sudden the bigger boy hauled off and punched the smaller boy right in the eye!!

I am not kidding you I almost jumped out of the car to give that kid some parenting "direction". I think one of the teachers saw at least some part of it and she seperated the kids and it looked like the puncher was repremanded....

But a moment later he was allowed to get on the bus.

Fighting on the bus is NOT allowed. We have to sign something at the beginning of the year acknowledging it and the consequences of it.

In MY opinion (and maybe I am off base) but I think the puncher should have been pulled out of line and his parent's called. I don't think he should have been allowed to get on the bus as though nothing happened.

But what do you think? I would love to hear your thoughts on this because I am not always right in my thinking.

If the puncher's parents had been called and had to make a special trip to pick him up....maybe the whole "it's ok to punch someone in the eye if I am upset" thing would have been squashed then and there.

But has this kid learned his lesson? My fear is that if he is being given the message that being a bully is "ok" - by not having any serious consequences at age 5 or 6...what will it be like when he is 12 and MUCH bigger?

Anyways....I have to go and brave the school traffic once again so I am stepping off my soapbox for now!!

Happy Thursday! :)

Monday, September 26, 2011

Worst Case Scenario?

What kind of person are you? Are you the kind that can see the positive in everything or are you the type that often considers the "worst case scenario"?

If you are anything like me, in some may revert to the "worst case" side of things. I don't love that side of me and I think that it is usually the result of fear in my life.

The fear of what exactly?? I think for me some of my biggest fears are that I won't measure up...I won't be enough. My kids won't fit in and they will struggle.

But don't you love the saying below??

The idea that if we are bringing those fears to God that we will find courage...a strength in Him that we aren't capable of ourselves.

I have seen how something that I had great fear about has been transformed through prayer and trusting God with my children.

I wrote this post about how I felt when we got a diagnosis for Gabriel 4 years ago. I was terrified for him. I just wanted him to have friends, to be like every other kid his age.

I would read about the characteristics of kids on the Spectrum and it would talk about kids that are "loners" and lack empathy.  Knowing how hard school can be anyways I worried that Gabriel would really struggle.  That he wouldn't have friends and would be seen as "aloof"

There wasn't much that I could do to "control" the situation and I just had to pray for him and support and encourage him where I could and trust the team that was put into place to work with him...and trust God with all the details after that.

Someone started working with Gabriel when he was 3. He had speech therapy and also worked one "social skills" with a few other kids in his class.

For the first year there wasn't a huge change. He continued to play alone, but his speech improved and we started understanding more and more of what he was trying to communicate.

Today though you wouldn't recognize him from the Gabriel we feared for 4 years ago.

Last week I completely forgot to study his spelling words with him and he got 100% plus 4 out of 5 bonus words correct!  This mama was proud!! :)

And today I went over to the school and had lunch with him because he is the Star Student for the week.  We had to fill out a sheet and answer some questions about what he likes etc and his favorite class is math! He wants to be a pilot when he grows up but he also wants to be a magician too! :)

When I met him in the hall some of the kids asked if they could sit with him at lunch. He showed me where to go and told me how to get my tray. And after lunch he was getting in line for recess and I was getting ready to go when this boy a few in front of him in line pushed this girl really hard and she fell back into Gabriel and onto the floor. The first thing Gabriel did was immediately ask her "Are you ok?!"

And I could tell that he was genuinely concerned about her.

The memories of my fears from 4 years ago came rushing back to me as I walked to the parking lot.  So much that I thought wasn't possible for him....and so much that he has already overcome.

Gabriel is a joy to me. Simply a joy.

I could have spent the last 4 years sick with worry. Afraid of his future and all of the obstacles that might stand in his way. At some point though I knew that I had to turn him over to God and trust that His path for Gabriel....for all of my childten, was better than my own.

Fear binds us, it holds us captive. It lies to us and tells us that we will never be enough, we will never measure up, that we will always struggle.

Today I am trying to choose life instead of fear. To trust in God with all areas of my life and to watch in wonder as His beauty unfolds in front of me.

Is fear in any area of your life holding you hostage?  Join me and others as we read "What Women Fear" with the Bloom Book Club at (in)Courage.  I am so excited to go through the book again and then connect with other people on the journey of freedom from fear. Will you join us?

Thursday, September 22, 2011

What we've been up to and a look back

It seems like it has been a busy week. Do you feel that way also?

Honestly every week goes by so quickly because we seem to have so many things going on during the week and on weekends.  So I thought I would share a few things about our week and also wanted to share a couple of "old" photos with you.

Karlena turned 9 mos old a few days ago and today we had her well-baby visit with the doctor.  She is healthy and happy and growing like a weed! She has decided that she would like to start trying to walk already.... something this mama is NOT excited about!

She weighed 19lbs 6oz (60%) and is 28 1/2 in long (81%)!! She is going to be tall and skinny like her brothers!

I would post a recent picture of her but earlier this week our laptop died and so we are using the old computer and I can't for the life of me find the cord to the camera to transfer pictures. (Thus the reason I will be sharing some older, stored photos with you!)

But speaking of Karlena.....

This was taken at Christmas in 2009.  Missing her so much these days!!!

Our laptop died the day before the 1 yr warranty expired. We called Best Buy and were told to bring it in by 9pm the next day (the day the warranty expired) and they would fix it.

Dominic drove 2 hrs to Sioux Falls to drop it off only to be told that the manufacturer doesn't accept items on the day that the warranty expires. (Not happy Bob!!)

But he held his cool - good thing I wasn't along!! - and due to the fact he was driving 4 hrs round trip and relied on what the guy the night before said they are going to fix it. Sounds like it is the motherboard and we won't have a computer for at least 3 weeks.

I am going to have to find that camera cord for sure!

Gabriel started Awana with our church last week and is LOVING it!! He memorized his first bible verse immediately (John 3:16) and once he remembered that it was "perish" and not "puurshish" he was good to go!  He got his new book last night and his teacher told me that it is great having him in class because he is so enthusiastic!!

Speaking of Gabriel.....

This was taken in 2006 - he looks SO much like Elijah it is nuts!!

I had conferences for Isaac this week and he is doing great. I am never worried about his grades but it is nice to hear his teachers say what a great kid he is!

Speaking of Isaac....

This was taken in 2007. Can you believe how much he has matured?! Crazy!!

Last night while I was taking Gabriel to Awana, Elijah found a scissors and cut his own bangs. Isaac is NOT getting paid for that babysitting time! :):)

And speaking of Elijah....

Here he was on Sept 23rd 2008. Just a little bambino starting to grow!
Dominic has an extra long day at work today and tomorrow and my mom is coming up to stay here tomorrow so that I can go to Sioux Falls for work.  Saturday is the SMSU Homecoming and there is a big parade happening that again runs right by our block! So we will be praying for nice weather so we can all go out and enjoy that together!
Hope that the end of your week is blessed!!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Guest Post at Kingdom Twindom +1!!

Hey guys!! I had the privledge of writing a guest post for one of the blogs that I follow -

Sarah has such an amazing story of God's faithfulness and it has been fun seeing how God has taken what was once broken and started to make it whole again.

That is one of the reasons that I love blogging so much. Although we spend time behind computer screens we have an opportunity to build a community with people that we may not have the chance to meet in person, in real life.

So hop on over to Sarah's blog and see what I had to say. And then while you are there take some time to see for yourself what an amazing heart she has and leave her a little encouragement as well!!

Blessings friends!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Women of Faith - Imagine!!!

In just 1 month my mom and I are heading up to St Paul, MN so that we can attend the Women of Faith Imagine conference!

To say that I am excited is an understatement.  My mom started this tradition with me probably during one of the very first WOF events. I think we went down to Omaha, NE and it was a weekend of shopping and conferences.

I remember being amazed at the women speaking from the porch. And to be honest I secretly wished that I could do that some day. To be a strong women of God and be able to touch the hearts of people just felt like it was something that was making a difference.

What is funny about this is that I am terrified about speaking in front of groups and so why that thought crossed my mind so many years ago I don't know....and I don't know that I ever shared that with anyone before.

Almost 4 years ago I heard about a woman named Angie. She had a heart-wrenching story and I started following her blog. Before this time I didn't even know what a blog was!! And shortly thereafter I decided to start my own blog. This was my first post...

I used to journal when I was younger and I loved being able to document my life like this and it was a way for my family to see pics of the kids from time to time as well.

Well this year Angie is speaking at WOF in St Paul and I am over the top excited to hear her in person. If you haven't read her books, "I Will Carry You" and "What Women Fear" ** you must pick up a copy today and read them. They are transforming.

Seriously -trust me on this one!!

Anyways. Not only do I get to hear and hopefully meet Angie, I get to spend some time with a couple of other blogger friends. 

Because of this blog, and so many others, I have come to know an amazing community of women and some of those women I have gotten to know on a more personal level. And the WOF weekend is the perfect place to turn an online community into a IRL community.

Kami and Jess are 2 beautiful Christian women who have already had a chance to connect IRL and I have come to know both of them and we will all be meeting in October!! In fact we get to also meet Kami's good friend (and room with them!! :) ) and her mom and sister!!

I am telling you this is going to be one weekend to remember.  Is anyone else out there joining us in St Paul? If so please let me know because we could make this one BIG party friends!!

I know this weekend will be bittersweet in a few ways will be my first conference without Karlena. It had become our tradition for so many years to attend in Denver once she got sick and so I know her loss will be felt - but isn't it great how God uses times like these to gift us with new friends to share the experience with?!

In all things He is good.  Until then I will be spending some time trying to "Imagine" what amazing things God will reveal to me and I can't wait to share them with you!!

**Disclosure: Affiliate link used**

Monday, September 19, 2011

Multitude Mondays

So very many things to be grateful for today...but I am especially fond of this little one.

This sweet girl is almost 9 months old!!

She hates to sit still and is desperate to learn how to walk!

But she is a joy, and although blurry, this picture captures her joy!!

In Honor of Gitzen Girl, this Monday I am counting some of my many blessings and choosing in ALL things to have Joy!

#169 - Sweet smiles from my only daughter

#170 - Garage sale finds and black and red dresses!

#171 - Cameras that capture life - even if slightly blurred

#172 - The sounds of kids laughing outdoors

#173 - Pumpkins and leaves changing colors

#174 - The smell of stew cooking in the crockpot

#175 - New friends and new opportunities for growth

And how about you?

What gifts can you count today? How are you choosing Joy? Please share them here - I would love to know some of the items on your "list".

Happy Monday!!" target="_blank">" >

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Choose Joy

I have spent the past couple of days reading through post after post after post about sweet Sara - aka "Gitzen Girl". Who is now on her journey homeward to meet her Maker.

Her mantra was to "Choose Joy".

Although I didn't know Sara on a personal level like so many did, I had an opportunity to read some of her posts and what struck me the most was that in spite of her battling a debilitating disease, she had found a way to intentionally "Choose Joy" regardless of her condition.

She reminds me so much of Karlena. Who also made a decision to "Choose Joy" in all things. The 2 of them would have made great friends I think! And oh what a party they will have together in Heaven soon...both girls and their dads.

The bigger challenge here for me and for all of us is how do we carry on a legacy like Sara' Karlena's?

Sara made it look pretty simple didn't she?

Just "Choose Joy".

Write it on the wall if you need a reminder each morning.

Make the choice - be intentional and "Choose Joy" in ALL things.

Such a simple idea - so will you join me in a new way of thinking....a better way of living?

And if you would please pray for those closest to Sara right now who are feeling her loss at an even deeper level....her family, her friends...Jess, Matthew, Candy, Shannon and so many countless others prayers are with you as you say goodbye - for now.
 May you feel Joy even amongst moments of sadness.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Working From Home a Q&A!

Many of you have asked what it is like for me to be working from home since we moved to Marshall.....alright strike that - none of you have really asked...but I imagine if you did you may have asked me some of the questions below. So sit back and enjoy a little peak into my day!!

1) So what does a typical day look like for you?
         I am up at 5:15am, get myself and the kids ready to go to school and daycare - with Dominic's help of course!!!, leave the house around 7:40am, drop Gabriel, drop Elijah and Karlena and back at home ready to work by 8am. I eat a quick lunch when I think about it at my desk and then take my "lunch break" when it is time to go and get the boys from school. We come home and I work for another hour or so until it is time to go get the little ones from daycare at 5.

         When my (then) boss and I started talking about this transition he had said that he didn't care when I got my work done...just that I got it done. But with his "exit" and my conditional 90 days it is clear that I needed to be available between the traditional 8-5 hours(understandable). Most days I am logged onto my computer and have read e-mails before the kids even get up and some evenings I have Isaac watch the little ones so that I can finish up a few things...but for the most part I am working here 8-5.

 2) So let's be honest here - do you work in your pj's every day because if it were me I would!
        Actually no! I am one of those people that needs to take a shower first thing when I get up in the morning or I just feel gross. So I shower right away and get ready just like I would if I were going into an office...except I get to wear jeans every day instead of dress pants!

3) What is the best thing about working from home?
         I think the best thing is the access I have to a few of the "little things". Every morning before I leave to take the kids to daycare and school I start a load of laundry. Before it would have sit wet all day long in the washer but now I can run and throw it into the dryer when I get back home from dropping them off. Also in the summer Gabriel, Isaac and I would sometimes run out to garage sales over my lunch hour. That's something I couldn't have done before and we had fun on our little hour long outings! I also love working in the same community as my kids go to school/daycare. If there were ever an emergency I could be available immediately and not have a commute to worry about!

4) What is the worst part about working from home?
          I think the hardest part is the isolation from all of the people I used to see and talk with on a daily basis. I talk with my co-workers by phone throughout the week but it is nothing like seeing them in person every day or sharing a cubicle wall with them. I think that I miss that most of all.

5) What surprises you most about your new situation?
          Surprisingly enough that I don't eat more! I did worry that being at home, always having access to food, snacks etc. that I would be eating non stop. But I probably snack less than I did when I was in an office.  Some days I have to remember to go and grab something to eat quick for lunch!

6) What, in your opinion, is the biggest misconception that others have about people who are working from home?
           This is interesting because I probably had these misconceptions before as well...until I was able to be in that situation myself. I would say first that my kids don't actually go to daycare and that I spend my day working a little and mostly playing with them. The truth is that I wouldn't get anything done if they were here so they HAVE to be at daycare. The second would be that I only work a few hours a day and the rest of the time I am watching tv...or whatever else. The truth here is that my work space is in an area completly separate from our family room and so our tv is probably on less than it ever was when we lived in Beresford. And I just don't allow myself to do "other things" because I do feel the pressure to prove that I can do this and be of benefit to my company.

7) So you have mentioned before about a "trial period"....when is that done and what happens then?
            I was given 90 days to try this and to see how it worked for my company and I am grateful for that. That 90 days is up October 1st.  So what then? I am not really sure. I am praying that they want to continue to keep me on and trusting that if they don't, God has the details of that already figured out. The stress of the "what-ifs" were really hurting me so I have really had to let all of that go and just trust God with the outcome.  Time will soon tell I guess! I will keep you posted!

So there you have there anything I didn't ask and answer that you'd like to ask? Leave me a comment and I will try to address it!! Looking forward to Friday tomorrow! :)

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Dayspring (in)spired Deals Review!

I love getting mail and I love sending mail. I especially love sending cards and finding a way to bless someone else.

I used to buy boxes of cards and store them at my desk at work so if I happened to think about someone that day, I saw it as a "sign" perhaps that I should send them a little encouragement.

Well a few weeks ago I was on the (in)courage website and saw that they were looking for some bloggers to do a review of some great new products they have available. I, always loving the "free" stuff, was in!

So one day last week these arrived on my doorstep!!

These beautiful cards are part of the "God's Heart For You" collection.

Perfect cards for a special woman in your life. A bestie that you want to encourage or a mentor that needs a lifting up or a neighbor down the street that doesn't get out much anymore. Who do you have in your circle of friends that could use a little boost?!
I can't wait to send these out and share them...even though I would love to keep them for myself. :)

Here is one of my favorites....

You are Loved....Just as you are (Ephesians 3:17-19)....

Do you feel loved "just as you are"?

I am afraid that in this its standards I would have to answer "no" some days.  I feel less than perfect, I see all of my failures and I am so critical of myself.

But I love the reminder that in God's Heart -
I am perfect.
I am loved.
I am redeemed.

Thank God for those truths today!! 

 So how do you answer the question "In God's Heart I am...."?

If you are interested in checking out the other products that Blessings Unlimited has to offer click here.

Disclosure: Dayspring sent me this pack of cards for free in exchange for a review of the product. All opinions expressed here are my own.

Monday, September 12, 2011

A host of things to be grateful for....

So often I get so caught up in "me" that I forget to see...

In the darkness of my self-focus, I shut out the light.

But then I am reminded of the counting of gifts....

And soon the host of good gifts is so very evident. This friends is where my focus will be today.

How about you? Can you count the many, many reasons we have to be thankful?

#127 - Red barn paint and helping when we are needed

#128 - The giggle of a boy who never sleeps past 6:30am

#129 - The sound of the dryer spinning clean clothes

#130 - Beautiful birch trees outside the front window

#131 - Rides to school from a helpful neighbor

#132 - Fresh baked banana bread

#133 - Grace...always grace

Have you counted today? Counted the gifts in your life...your day? Join me won't you?

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Let there be white....


I don't know about you...but this I think is a thing of far as barns go I mean!

The white really made the whole thing pop.

We talked about it early this morning and decided that we would just go for it and get the job finished...

And we are so glad that we did....looks even better than it did yesterday!

Although I don't know that the former owner of this web feels the same! :)

Saturday, September 10, 2011

What a difference a day makes....

We spent the day out in Parker so that we could help Dominic's parents paint their garage, summer kitchen and barn.

These are some of the "befores"

And here are some of the "afters"

It was a HUGE job and we worked all day long - but it looks great. Eventually white trim will be added to the barn but it wasn't going to happen today.

How did you spend your Saturday??

Friday, September 9, 2011

What Women Fear - Winners!!

Congratulations to the winners of the book "What Women Fear" by Angie Smith!! 

What Women Fear: Walking in Faith That Transforms   -     
        By: Angie Smith

I know that you will be blessed by this book and I wish I had a copy to send to everyone. And thank you for sharing some of your fears here. I will be praying for all of you and asking that God reveal Himself in all things to each of you!!

I used a number generator from and tried to embed the widgets into this post but I am having techinical difficulties this I apologize for that.

But it picked for me and the winners are:

Congrats to Sarah S. From "All Other Ground is Sinking Sand - Our Life After Loss"

And congrats to Jaimie from Displacedcitygirl!!

Please e-mail me your addresses at and I will get your copies out to you!! Yay for Fridays and fun giveaways!!

Thursday, September 8, 2011

God Knows What We Need

Sometimes God knows just what we need....even when we don't know if or when we will need it ourselves.

Let me give you an example.
This, as most of you know, is Elijah....

He likes cake...or "BIG cutcake" as he says it!

He loves to pose for pictures and look cute and he has a million different expressions that just melt your heart.

He also loves being 2 and with that comes tantrums and pushing boundaries and blowing bubbles in your milk - even when mom tells him to stop!

Some days having a 2 yr old is a lot to handle. :)

When we first looked into moving here my first thought was to find someone to watch our kids because I had to continue to work. I made some calls and it was looking pretty grim and then I asked someone from the local branch bank here if they had any ideas and I was given a name.

With my past experience it didn't seem like an opening was possible - especially when it was an in-home daycare, but I called anyways and you know what? There was an opening....she was losing a family that had a 2 yr old and a baby.

hmmmm....coincidence? I don't think so!!

So one weekend when we were up in Marshall looking for houses we stopped and met Markel and her family. And from the moment we met them we just knew it was "right". Her son Isac sat with us and talked about his faith in God and all of the great opportunities there were for kids in town. Her daughter Dara was home from college and treated us like we were old friends. And I think Markel had Karlena asleep within minutes of us showing up as she held her.

And I know...who couldn't love this girl right? But even for babies, transition can be hard. But Karlena hasn't even batted an eye. She is all smiles when I drop her off and when I pick her up. She has transitioned so well.

Elijah though has his 2-yr old moments. He told me yesterday that "I have fun at Markel's and I go in time out!"  He was so proud of himself! He can be such a handful.

I had e-mailed Markel about something earlier today and in it told her that I hoped Elijah had been behaving because I know how he can get.....

And her response??

"I love him...He is so sweet, and a true boy...reminds me of my Isac at that age... :)  always good with E :)"

You see? God knows.

He knew EXACTLY who we needed to love and care for our children during the day when we couldn't do it ourselves. He provided an opening just when the time was right and He gave our whole family a blessing in Markel.

Thank you God for seeing our needs so far in advance of us knowing it ourselves. You have provided so much for us here and we are eternally grateful. Thank you for Markel - may You bless her today and always!

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Back to School Shopping - Shoes

Thank you to Crocs for sponsoring this blog post. Please click here to learn more about Crocs’ new Back to School line. I was selected for this sponsorship by the Clever Girls Collective. All opinions expressed here are my own.

Now that the kiddos are back in school and I have a little time to breathe :) I wanted to share one of my Back to School shopping experiences.
You would think that shopping for boys would be pretty easy -and for the most part it is. Except that is when it comes to shoes.

After searching several stores and an online purchase returned, I took Isaac out and said I didn't care the cost - just find something, anything that fits you and is comfortable. I didn't think finding school shoes would be this difficult!! He did finally find something when out with his grandpa (thanks dad!!), but if you asked him he would rather be wearing his Crocs.

He has the slip on know like this....
A product thumbnail of  Classic
And although the straps have broken and they are pretty worn out - they have always been his "go to" shoe. But they aren't really appropriate "school" shoes.

Now Gabriel only has 1 criteria for shoes...NO TIES. He can tie his shoes, but they always come untied and "retying is such a chore mom"! :)  I have decided that, at least for now, fighting over a tie shoe isn't worth it and shoes without ties are fine with me.

Wouldn't these new Crocs be perfect for him??
An added bonus is that they are waterproof, like all of the other Crocs, so when he is splashing around in puddles (as he is apt to do) I won't have to find a vent to dry them on overnight!! BONUS!

The Crocs Back to School kids' line are school-approved on the outside (because they're close-toed and close-heeled), but have the same comfort in the inside 13 new styles for boys and girls from K-8.  Just by checking out their site - you can enter a giveaway for a family vacation to San Diego with no purchase necessary!! I am all in for that and already entered - Mark and Mindi here I come!! 

And if you want to learn more about the new Crocs line check out the video below.
(It's a little cheezy if you ask me...but the kids liked it) :)
The music video is interactive- you can click on the shoes in the video to go directly to the shoes' corresponding pages on the Crocs official site.

Added Bonus!!!: Try to find the hidden Easter Egg within the video, click on it and see what happens! And here's a hint for you...look for the object below and click on it for a special "secret discount"!!

Think yellow bird!! :)

It works, I tried it and I think I am going to have to use that discount towards a pair of these shoes!! So tell me what was your best and worst back to school shopping experience this year??

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

"What Women Fear" - a Giveaway!!!


I am so excited to share this book with you today and I have a great little giveaway too so keep reading!!  I got my copy of "What Women Fear - Walking in Faith that Transforms" by Angie Smith last Friday.

I finished it yesterday and I can't wait to find some time to go through it again and really devour it even more. I tend to read really fast and I don't want to miss any of Angie's nuggets of truth so this time I will have a pencil in hand so that I can mark my favorite parts.

In this book Angie shares about not only her personal fears, but of the fears of some familiar and maybe not so familiar people of the Bible.  I found in each chapter something that I could relate to and was moved by the honesty in which Angie shares her life.

Here is just one of my favorite parts....

"Another fear that many of us have is that we will let people down and not meet their expectation of us.  I think that so many of us feel like the real "us" will be exposed when we don't rise up to what someone else thinks we should be. So many of us feel burdened by our perceptions of the expectations of others. We often live our lives trying to avoid letting people down."....
"As a result, many of us talk about the weather at a Bible study instead of the fight we had with our teenage daughter, knowing that we might be labeled the overprotective parent, or the one that can't control her own children. And long after the issue is resolved, we will still be seen as the one who messed up. The labels we create (and dwell on) for each other are killing our chance for genuine community and we are missing the best part of each other."
Does any of this resonate with you like it does me? And the book is filled with points that not only helped to convict my stubborn heart but also offer hope for freedom....true freedom in following and trusting in the One true Redeemer.
I promise that it will be worth your time to read this book!!

And now is your chance to win one as well!! I have 2 copies available to share with 2 of my readers!! These are books that I purchased myself and I have not been compensated in any way to endorse Angie's book. I just believe in her and this book and want to share the love!!

The winners will be chosen randomly on Friday September 9th.

So here's how you enter with 3 separate chances to win: :)
(Leave 1 comment for each "Chance" and please make sure to leave your e-mail address in the comment if you don't have an active blog so that I can contact the winner!!)

1) Become a follower of my blog - The Smith Family Journey (Or comment if you already are!)

2) Share in a separate comment one of your fears...this can be anything you struggle with!

3) Share for another chance the title of a book you have read and enjoyed recently.

And if you want a copy of "What Women Fear" for yourself right now click on the Amazon link on the left sidebar and you can purchase a copy today!!  Have fun and good luck!!

Friday, September 2, 2011

"Maint Reqd"

So in the van I drive each day there is this "Maint Reqd" light that comes on every time you start it up. When the van is running as it should the light comes on briefly and then shuts off.

When you are nearing the time for an oil change the light will stay on and flash as you are in reverse and then shut off when you put it into drive.  Like a warning/reminder that you need to take some action soon.

And even after the vehicle has been checked and you think everything is ok, if the code isn't reset the light will stay on all the time. A sign that something is still not right on the inside.

And so it has been in my life recently as well....

When Dominic first moved to Tyler for this new job we didn't know how long we would have to live apart but we said we could do anything for 6-12 months. During that time, overall, things were pretty good. We cherished our phone conversations that we had every night and enjoyed our weekends as a family. We did that for 8 months. During that time we had a baby, put our house on the market, sold it, purchased a new one in Marshall and moved. In addition, during that same time I was made promises by my then boss that I could continue to work from the home when we finally moved. 2 weeks before the move my bosses employment with my company was no longer and it was learned by me that all of his promises had not been communicated to the "powers that be".

So in the midst of one of the biggest life changes for our entire family I was also fighting to save/keep the job I had with a company I have been with for almost 13 years. I have been given a "trial period" to see how/if it can continue and I say prayers everyday that it will....soon time will tell with that.

Well as you can imagine during this time the "Maint Reqd" light in my own life started showing up.

At first it was just that reminder that something needed to be taken care of in my heart. It was the Holy Spirit prodding me...trying to get my attention that if left alone/ignored a full-blown warning would ensue.

But I am a stubborn woman and one that wants to not only have the appearance that I have it all together...but actually HAVE it all together by my own doing - so I can take the credit right?. And when I don't have it all together- which if you must know is most days - I get frustrated, angry, discontented and negative.  All lovely qualities and surprisingly enough...none are found in the Bible under fruits of the spirit. hmmm....

So as you can about imagine when I stopped showing evidence of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, goodness, faithfulness and self-control in my life - the dynamics of our family began to change and cracks started to form in our foundation.  And once a crack has started and the water starts to rise....if the foundation isn't solid it can start to crumble.

Friends I have found myself here. The "Maint Reqd" light is on and shining brightly ALL the time. Warning....warning... It isn't a pretty place to be when your actions cause hurt and frustration. When it is evident that negativity has permeated every aspect of your thinking once again and it hasn't just hurt you but it has hurt the people closest to you that you love the most.

For weeks I have focused on everything that I see is "wrong" about my husband. Refusing to allow myself to see the truth because believing the lie helps justify my awful behavior and admitting that I am to blame for anything is so very difficult for me.  I started thinking that this move was a mistake - we loved better when we were apart....when the truth is that I hadn't put much effort into loving well here....I just expected that once we were back together that we would be one big happy family and everything would come easy.

But it isn't always easy.

I worry about what will happen with my job on a daily basis and always feel that I need to "prove" myself more than I ever did before. And if I fail...if I lose the job what does that say about me? Because how I look to you from the outside seems more important lately than how my insides look to God.

I obsess over the kids and their transition here. Mornings are chaos it seems. I get up almost 2 1/2 hrs before we need to leave the house at 7:35am and yet it is always a rush. And I get overwhelmed and stressed and don't know how to appropriately deal with it so I end up barking at someone - causing more hurt. My motives may be good...getting everyone, including myself off to school/daycare/work by 8am. But the way I act as I try to carry out my objective isn't right.

Please tell me I am not alone in this struggle!!

But at times such as this I need to be honest about these struggles....and what I haven't been willing to do about them.

I haven't been actively seeking God's Word. Sure I pray and I go to church...but I don't make time to read His Word. I have plenty of time for blogging and Facebook and checking e-mails, but not enough time for Him.

And I don't seek accountability like I should from other believers. I would rather you see the facade then the real me because I am not sure many people would stick around if they knew how crazy my minds gets at times!

But this has to change! "Maint Reqd" in the vehicle handbook says "Take your vehicle to an appropriate Toyota mechanic immediately".

And I too need to respond immediately - but I need your help!! First I would love some recommendations for a devotional maybe that I could do each day. I have a hard time just opening the Bible and reading. Maybe a devotional would give me some direction..something where I can be led to read more in the Bible based on that day's devotion. What works for you??

And secondly I need your help in staying accountable. This is the part I really don't want to do...but I know that if I want things to change I HAVE to do it.

So if you see me ask me how I am treating my husband and my kids. Am I showing him respect, and I being patient with my kids or am I letting "life" overwhelm me again? If you ask me how I am doing I will always say "I'm fine". Guaranty it!! Email me and share your experience in these areas...what has worked for you (besides hiring a FT nanny/housekeeper) because that isn't in the budget!! :)

I would love to make this a place where we can fellowship together and be real. No pretty clothes, or plastered smiles...but real, honest accountability. I promise you that even if I do all of these things I won't ever have it all together and somehow I need to come to a place where that is OK.

I know this post has gotten overly long and I apologize....thank you for allowing me to share my struggles with you. It is ugly....but I believe in the promises that God makes beauty from ashes. But I have to be willing to do a little "work" that my friends is where I start!

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