Thursday, March 31, 2011

Thankful Thursday

This month of March we have been talking about adventures. Along the way do your kids ask you all kinds of questions? Mine do too. Many times the question is "Did God make that?" If it is something in nature, of course, I answer yes. But if it is man-made, I usually respond, "God gave someone the idea and a person made it." Today I'm thankful for vehicles that take us on adventures--whether it is bicycles, planes, trains, boats, or minivans--I'm thankful for God giving their inventors the idea to make it possible to explore His world. Side note: anyone else have a mini-midlife crisis when you got a minivan. We didn't even have any kids yet when we first got one! But that is another story. We have surely had our times of car trouble, but I'm thankful for what God has provided.

What are you thankful for today?

Posted by Shelly, Mom and Loving It Ministries Assistant

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Grace to Face Adventure

Have you seen the orange juice commercial where the mom sits at the breakfast table and people from her day are there to give her a report of the mishaps of the day to come? The principal reports he will be calling about her son, co-worker says there is a problem at the office, other plans change.... Then she says something like, "It's a good thing I had my OJ to face the day."

We don't get a morning briefing or a map of our day. Actually, it is probably a good thing because there are days that if I had known what was coming, I would have just crawled back in bed! Here is one such day...

About 3 years ago, my youngest son was 2 and he woke me up early. He was wet from head to toe! I striped him down, cleaned him up, and got a new diaper. Then I went to his room to change the sheets, but his bed was completely dry. How could he be that wet and his bed be totally dry? About that time my daughter said, "Eew!" as she leaned on big brother's bed. Evidently, my youngest son crawled in my older son's bed after he went to school, and went back to sleep. So I started stripping the bed and cleaning the carpet. I went into my bathroom to get a rag for the carpet job and found my 2 year old spraying bathroom cleaner all over the bathroom! I finally got ALL that cleaned up and got breakfast ready. Thankfully I had just put the lid back on the very full bottle of purple grape juice because it got pushed off the cabinet! Then my daughter proceeded to spill the milk in her cereal. To which I responded in a loud, stern, frustrated mom voice, "Sit down, eat your breakfast, and stop goofin' off!" My daughter replied in a loud, stern, frustrated daughter voice, "Is that the way you talk to your daughter?" (Yes, it is going to get very interesting at our house in a few years!)

We finally made it through breakfast. My mom called to tell me something (more on that in a minute). While I was reading about that online, I heard sounds in the bathroom. I found my youngest picking up a wad of toilet paper out of the potty, squeezing it, and dropping it back in the potty. I really think he dropped it because I scared him when I yelled, "Gross! Gross! Gross!" (I'm praying it was clean water that he put clean paper in!) Got that all cleaned up...again gross! Later I was holding him and kissed his forehead and his hair was wet. I thought Oh, I hope that was just sweat! And it wasn't even lunchtime yet!

The phone call from my mom was to see if I had heard about Steven Curtis Chapman's family. His baby daughter, Maria, who just turned 5 was killed in a car accident. Their story was so similar to my family's that I was just sad all day and cried several times. As I recounted my day to my husband, I laughed about it. And then I cried because I'm sure my Mom, as well as the Chapman family, would treasure another potty diving day, and I spent the day being frustrated with my kids. It was definitely one of those days that I would have crawled back in bed had I known what was coming!

But we do know the One who sees it all and knows what is coming, and He gives us the grace to face whatever may come. Stephen Curtis Chapman has a song that says, "To Him the future is history." Our Heavenly Father invites us to meet with Him each morning, so He can remind us how much He loves us and give us direction for life. Then no matter what adventure may come in the day, we can say, "It is a good thing I have my Jesus to face the day."

Let the morning bring me word of Your unfailing love,
for I have put my trust in You.
Show me the way I should go,
for to You I lift up my soul.
Psalm 143:8
Posted by Shelly, Mom and Loving It Ministries Assistant

Monday, March 28, 2011

Fun Monday

We were watching the weather on the news. The station we watch usually lists the 5-day forecast like this:

Monday--Sunny, 65
Tuesday--Partly Cloudy, 68
Wednesday--Partly Cloudy, 67

The weatherman had not quite reached that part of the report yet. He was covering the pollen count for the day and it was laid out in similar format:

Fungus 567
Grass 234
Cedar 89
Weeds 199
TOTAL 1089

To which my son, age 5 at the time, commented, "Boy! That last day is going to be a hot one!"

Warmer temperatures are on the way, but hopefully not that hot! And if you are suffering because of all the allergies in the air, please pass the Puffs!

Posted by Shelly, Mom and Loving It Ministries Assistant

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Thankful Thursday

I am thankful today for God's handiwork. A few weeks ago I shared with you that we had to stay close to home because we were paying off debt. Well, this year that hard work is paying off, and we took an adventure away from home! (I'm not saying that to brag, just as an encouragement that if you are in the middle of it, keep going! It is so worth it!) Anyway, this year we took our kids to see the Grand Canyon. What a great reminder of God's creativity, His majesty, His hugeness! I'm so thankful He created places on earth that point us to Him!

Do you have a favorite place where God's handiwork reminds you of Him? I have some close to home, like sunsets. Some are farther that I don't see often, like the ocean.
Posted by Shelly, Mom and Loving It Ministries Assistant

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Adventure of a Lifetime!

Marriage--the adventure of a lifetime! Not what you expected to see? If you have been married for more than 5 minutes you know that it is a wild ride with all its ups and downs. Marriage, just as in parenting, you get no real training before you're full-time into the relationship. How are you supposed to know how to be married? TV has lots of suggestions...mostly scary ones! Your parents gave you a picture of marriage, but maybe they divorced and shook your view of a forever relationship. Even if you were raised in a two-parent home, it's possible that they weren't the best example of a loving relationship--maybe they just stayed together "for the kids." Or maybe your parents were terrific. But just because they openly showed their love for each other and they knew how to be married doesn't mean you automatically know how to do this marriage thing. You're a different person than your parents, which means you won't do things exactly like them. And your husband is different as well. Just as every lock has a unique key to make it work, each union between a man and a woman is going to work in its own unique way.

Why is marriage so hard? I knew there would be struggles, but this is so much work, and now that I'm a mom, I'm really tired! I was relieved to find compassion in Jesus' teaching in Mathew 19. He says, "'Not everyone is mature enough to live a married life. It requires a certain aptitude and grace. Marriage isn't for everyone....But if you're capable of growing into the largeness of marriage, do it'" (vv.11-12 The Message). I'm convinced that if we are married, we are capable of growing into the largeness of marriage with God's strength. But it is a huge undertaking, something we must grow into. Marriage is a relationship we start learning about the day we get married, and if we're smart we'll keep learning for the rest of our lives.

It's encouraging to know that marriage is no picnic for anyone. Marriage is work for every couple, no matter how easy they make it look. Research shows that the couples that have good marriages have the same amount of conflict that people with troubled marriages have. The difference is in how they deal with it. Marriage is worth the work. Don't give in just because it gets hard.


You know my heart for my husband. You know when I'm glad to be married to him and You know when I'm not so happy about being committed to him. With the demands of children and life sometimes I forget him, Lord. I forget why I was so giggly about him and what we did before we were married. Help me to remember. Restore what we have lost and grow us beyond what we can imagine. Forgive me for missing opportunities to encourage him and for the times when I chose to tear him down instead. Help me to work on myself rather than always trying to "fix" him. I want to love being his wife, just as I want to love being a mom. Help me to persevere when times are tough. Please help us both to grow into the couple You want us to be. Trusting You as I begin again, I pray in Jesus' Name. Amen.

Adapted from Laurie and Sharon's book Mom...And Loving It!

Monday, March 21, 2011

Fun Monday

Professional in the Making
An adventure the past year for our family has been an ag project and going to stock shows. This past January we went to the Fort Worth Stock Show for the first time where my 10 year old showed his lamb. When he was packing for the trip, he was cracking me up! He said, "Mom, I want to look professional. Like I totally know what I'm doing and have been here before." (It is amazing what they pick up from us! He gets that from his dad!)

During some of their down time before the show, he decided he needed his boots shined because, you know, he wanted to look professional!

Has your family tried any new adventures this year?

Posted by Shelly, Mom and Loving It Ministries Assistant

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Malibu Meeting and MOPS Moms

This trip has been a whirlwind! I can't believe we only have one more full day! Here's the rundown...

Monday we were able to do some bargain shopping before heading to Pepperdine University where we met staff members and had a chance to visit with Dr. Canfield, his wife Dee, and Annlee. God has been weaving a plan for a long time that we didn't see (and still don't completely understand) that is exciting... Writing curriculum, learning objectives...We haven't thought of those things in quite a long time, but it's fun to have them on our minds again... The details are a little fuzzy for now. We will share more as we know it, but what we know is that GOD LOVES MOMS and He has a message for all of us mommies in His word.

We ended the day by having dinner with the Canfields at Paradise Cove in Malibu. The adults ate while the kids played on the beach. Kinda felt like a perfect evening.

Tues: Sharon and family left early and went to Riverside, CA to speak at The Grove MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers). We loved spending time with this group. The kids were fast friends with the McIntire children. And sound guy, Rob McIntire, shared 88 slightly used AA batteries with Davis for his remote control helicopter. We pray for people to invest in our children along the way. God is always faithful to provide the people. We celebrated AnnNan's birthday by having the group sing to her. (AnnNan is Nancy Autry, Pat's sister...AnnNan - short for Aunt Nancy!)

Wed: We were all back at Disneyland. Our cousin Lisa and her son Jacob were able to join us again. It's been great to see them and get to catch up with our California Cousins. We were worn out after walking and walking. Every night has definitely been a good night of sleep...just short nights sometimes.

The Hilliards headed north Wed. night to meet the Emig family (friends from college) and to be near the location they would be speaking on Thurs. morning. The Autrys went south to San Clemente.

Thurs: Laurie spoke at Grace Baptist Church in Santa Clarita. Her voice has been on the blink, but she said they were wonderful...getting her hot tea, cough drops, and lots of sweet words of encouragement. Yet, through all of it, Laurie in her understanding way, was able to care about the moms like no other. I think she is an amazing counselor/teacher. What a great ministry is going on there reaching out to so many moms.

I spoke at Pacific Coast Church in San Clemente. The mentor moms began the morning praying for the moms, for me and for the day - the right way to start anything! I was able to join some of the discussion groups to hear the joys and struggles of their mothering journeys.

Tomorrow, Laurie and her family will be speaking in Yorba Linda. We will have new pictures taken by sweet Tracey (totshots) again. Can't wait to see her again. Then, we will head to Canyon Lake to set up for our final event before heading home.

Thanks for praying for us. We appreciate it and please know that God has made Himself obvious to us through this week of adventure.
Blessings from the road...Sharon and the whole crew

Thankful Thursday

Happy St. Patrick's Day! The real St. Patrick was a missionary to Ireland, and he used the three leaf clover to tell about the Trinity. Today as you see clovers around, pray for missionaries you know or for countries and the missionaries who work there. This Thursday, I'm thankful for missionaries in our country and around the world who leave their country and family as they share the Good News of Jesus Christ with those who have not heard yet.
If you would like to leave a comment with the name of a missionary you know, we can pray for them too.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

No matter what adventure

We recently had grassfires burning in our area, and the TV kept broadcasting evacuations for the people in danger. The fires were probably within 10 miles of our house, but thankfully we were not in immediate danger. Unfortunately, many people lost their homes, but no lives were lost. With the news reports, my husband and I talked through what we might try to get if we had to be evacuated. That conversation only heightened my daughter's anxiety about the situation. She asked if she could get her stuff together. I told her she could get one bag if that would make her feel better. I went in her room later and this is what I found. She could not quite fit all of her life in one bag! That is ok, I couldn't either! And again, thankfully we didn't have to put our plan into action, but she was ready!

Our theme for March is adventures. Along our life journey, events can be life changing, and they can be good or... well...not so good. In fact, they can be down right scary and painful! There are some adventures that you anticipate, pack for and are very excited about! Like Spring Break Trips! Those are fun and I'm so glad we have those in life! Then there are some adventures that you get a little warning to prepare and you don't really want to put the plan in action. Sometimes it happenes and sometimes it doesn't. Then some adventures you find your self right in the middle of it before you even know what is happening--a loss, a change, a surprise, an earthquake. We have to enjoy the ones that we can. And the tough ones, know that our Heavenly Father is with us no matter what comes. Our job is to trust Him.

The Bible tells us of many of Paul's adventures. Sometimes he found wonderful brothers and sisters in Christ who encouraged him on his way. Other times he was run out of town, barely escaping with his life. This is what he said:

I've learned by now to be quite content whatever my circumstances.
I'm just as happy with little as with much, with much as with little.
I've found the recipe for being happy
whether full or hungry, hands full or hands empty.
Whatever I have, wherever I am,
I can make it through anything
in the One who makes me who I am.
Philippians 4:11-13 The Message

I wrote this before the disaster in Japan, and a little grassfire seems to pale in comparison. We are praying for the people of Japan, as they have found themselves in the middle of a very hard situation.

Posted by Shelly, Mom and Loving It Ministries Assistant

Monday, March 14, 2011

Fun Monday

Back Seat Driver

Sunday after church we stopped at Sonic to pick up lunch. We had our food and headed home. My husband turned left and pulled out into the turning lane and drove there for a little bit (I wasn't scared yet) before he realized he needed to scoot on over to the right lane. He said, "Oh, I guess I could move over." As he was saying that, our three-year-old was saying, "Dodge and weave! Dodge and weave!" (He had recently watched Disney's Cars.) I was laughing so hard that it took me a minute to interpret what he was saying for our driver!

Do you have any funny traveling or adventure stories we could share this month? We would love to hear it! You can send them to Shelly(at)momandlovingit(dot)org.

Posted by Shelly, Mom and Loving It Ministries Assistant

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Gettin' Our Kicks on Route 66

We've been singing the song, "Route 66," as we make our way to California...We were at Amarillo by sunset, then Gallup NM by morning! The hours flew by. Thirteen hours felt more like 6 to me. Somebody must be praying!
Some Other Prayer Requests:
  • Everything has gone as planned except for the speed we use gas in the Hilliard's van as they pull the trailer...about 10.5 miles/gallon. I've never been so glad to see Clines Corners in all my life! They were on fumes after filling up not much before that. We are praying that God will stretch the gas as far as it will go. He could multiply food - why not gas?
  • Also, pray that God will grow our marriages while we're out here. It's no shock that trips can put a strain on relationships, but I'm planning on getting better.
  • We will be speaking to over 600 moms while we're in California. Pray for our hearts as we continue to prepare and for the ladies to be receptive. We hope they will be able to take some resources home that will encourage them after we're gone.
We've started reading The Bronze Bow, watched movies, listened to Adventures in Odyssey Mysteries, worked some, and Pat has been listening to podcasts from NorthPointe Church with Andy Stanley. Good stuff.
We got into our hotel very late last night, but I was wide awake at 6:30, so I'm getting a little quiet time. Laurie did the same! Crazy...I think we're excited! But, we are hoping for a nap later.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Thanks for Praying!

Laurie and Sharon and their families are leaving soon for a mini-tour in Southern California. They will be speaking at moms groups in Riverside, San Clemente, Santa Clarita, and Yorba Linda. Then they will have a Mom...and Loving It! Conference in Canyon Lake. If you are in the area and would like to come, contact us and we will give you the contact information.

Many of you won't be in Southern California next week, but you will be praying for us. Thank you so much! We really appreciate it! Hope you have an adventurous sping break, even if it is in your backyard!

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Adventures Close to Home

A few years ago we were in the middle of Dave Ramsey's baby steps to pay off debt, and there was not a lot of extra money for a Spring Break Adventure. Anybody else been there? So that year we had adventures close to home! We rode the light rail train to our local zoo. And the kids loved it! You can tell they are kids of the safety seat era because they felt so free they raised their hands like they were on a roller coaster!

One night we slept in tents in our backyard. We set up two tents--two kids in one, and Mom with one kid in the other. That was the plan anyway. Reality found all four of us and the dog in one kid-sized tent! For breakfast we had pancakes (which is a treat at our house) just like we do when we go camping in Colorado in the summer.

The next day we had a bike ride to the playground. It wasn't anything too expensive, but it was out of our ordinary. Perfect for a spring break adventure close to home!

Do you have adventurous spring break plans? Even if it is close to home!

Posted by Shelly, Mom and Loving It Ministries Assistant

Monday, March 7, 2011

An Amazing Race

“Let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us…”Hebrews 12:1

Have you seen the Amazing Race? Around 5:00 on Sundays, my family starts checking the time hoping that 60 Minutes stays within it’s allotted 60 minutes allowing The Amazing Race to come on at 7. We are real fans. I’ve been bugging my brother for years to be my partner and try to be on the show. We would be the middle-aged siblings…and we’d win because we’re both pretty scrappy and can do a little bit of everything.

Chris and I were the perfect contestants. My family was so convinced that we would be on the show that they were already sad about my being gone so long! Such sweet supporters!

Dec. 15, 2010. The Amazing Race was having try-outs in Durant, OK only an hour from our homes. This was our chance. It must be meant to be since the auditions were so close! We decided what to wear - Texas Rangers shirts to represent Texas and our Rangers who made their first ever trip to the World Series in 2010 (Go Rangers!) I even bought a new pair of boots!

I don’t know what I was thinking. I guess I thought we were the only and biggest fans of this show. (That’s why it’s been on TV for so many seasons!) We were ready. Scripted, sort of. There wouldn’t be more than a few people and we would shine above them all.

We arrived around 10 am on a Wednesday morning in the middle of December, the busiest time of the year. When they began passing out numbers we were number 102…not bad, except we were 102 in the pink group. There was a blue 102…204 teams so far. But the day was young.

After hours of waiting and meeting all sorts of people around us, some that had driven from Austin, Dallas, Lubbock, Arkansas, and Houston, we finally made it to the waiting area with actual chairs. That made me nervous. When it was our turn, I lost my brain. I stuttered, babbled, and didn’t even use my best line… “I’ve traveled the country with my sister, I thought it would be great to see the world with my brother!” I’d practiced it for weeks and then when it was time, I forgot! (Now y’all just think I’m weird! It was a humiliating experience.)

Our amazing adventure had been summed up in a few hours! That was all there was going to be.

By the time we left, there were over 500 teams. I felt very insignificant. In fact, over the Christmas break, I struggled with how big the world is and where is my place and what’s so special about me and why do I try to do anything because there’s somebody who will do it better. I was so worried that I hadn’t “wowed” the producers, I failed to remember I already had the approval of The Producer.

I had forgotten that “Jesus loves me.” He knows my name. He even knows how many hairs are on my head. I’m not just a number in the sea of humanity.

Colossians 3:12 calls those who know Christ,
“God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved…”

The world is a big place, but instead of trying to impress some other human, my worth can never be shaken when I find it in The One who has chosen me to live this day, for such a time as this, in my house, and in my community.

If you’re feeling insignificant today, don’t bite into the lie that looms in front of you. Instead, look up and know that He smiles when He thinks of you. He loves you and has an amazing race planned for your life. It starts today, so…On your mark, get set…GO!

Racing with Him...Sharon

“For I know the plans I have for You, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you. Plans to give you a hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Getting Ready to Go...

Today, we are going shopping to get ready for our California trip next week. We're trying to be budget conscious. Finding clothes that can be sold at a consignment store has been our goal this morning. We'll also find some great deals at our favorite consignment stores...sort of trading the outgrown for "new" things that fit!

I'm finding that it's much easier to have kids who are willing to "clean-out" when they have the adventure of a trip in front of them. While looking for clothes that fit for this fun adventure, we are cleaning out, too. It's much easier to get them moving when there is something to look forward to.

Sometimes our family is a last minute group (I think that's mostly my fault!) But, hopefully this time, we've planned a little better and won't be running around like chickens with our heads cut off at the last minute. (Now there's an interesting conversation to have with your kids...chickens running around...eeeeyoooo!)

We would really appreciate your prayers as we head out. We'll have LOTS of hours in the car from Texas to California. While we are there, we'll have the opportunity to speak to 600+ moms. What an amazing opportunity and incredible responsibility. To God Be The Glory!!

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

14 Days of Love Undone…Loving Yourself

14 Days of Love was such a great idea! 14 days from the beginning to Valentine’s Day. That was the original plan. Then when I realized I couldn’t possibly get a thoughtful blog in everyday, I decided we could use the whole month of February for 14 days of love…every other day. But, every other day still proved to be a challenge. So now I come to you on the first day of March (though you won’t see this until at least the 2nd because my internet is down) with the last of the 14 –4 Days of Love.

I decided the best way to end this series was to be an example of loving myself. Love yourself today, tomorrow, the month of March, the whole year by giving yourself a break. I’ve been kicking "me" for the past week when I realized that even if I wrote a blog everyday, I still wouldn’t get enough in before the 28th! I felt like a failure!

But, girl to girl, I’m telling you that I just couldn’t get it all done. And admitting it makes me feel much better. Not that I’m a quitter, or even a slacker. I don’t feel that. I do feel like I’ve written what God had for me to share even if that’s not the nice box of 14 that I thought it was going to be.

So, while I’m asking you to let me off the hook, and as I give myself a break, I want to know what you need to be free from. In what areas do you need to love on yourself by giving yourself some slack? What is dragging you down? How are you bound by guilt today?

You certainly don’t have to share, but if you’re anything like me, you’ll feel better after you do.

“He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” Philippians 1:6 Completion might not always appear as I think it should, but that doesn't mean it's not complete. So from the __ Days of Love ... The End.

In we can, we'll be blogging about our trip to California. We leave March 11th. If you'd like to pray for us, let us know and we can give you specifics.

Following Him,