Tuesday, August 30, 2016

One Hundred Days

On Christmas morning growing up, my Dad would lay long ways on our couch.

The couch was brown and green plaid found pushed against the white wall in our living room. While he laid there, I'd stand with my back end pressed against the edge of the couch. My eyes would circle the living room with all the Christmas excitement in view. Red dangly curls lined each cheek in most of my childhood pictures. As I am certain they did on those Christmas mornings. The other day, I looked through old Christmas pictures for one showing me standing against the couch. Let's just say some pictures linger only in our minds never making them to a print version.

Now, thinking about those days, I smile.

Smile at the memories etched in my precious mind of Christmas morning spent with my family.

Those curls grew out. Turned colors in shades of light reddish blonde. My guess from the amount of time spent in the sun. The curls evidentially formed a different shape of curl along the way as well.

I grew up moving on starting a family of my own.

Christmas then triggered new traditions for my married mothering life.

My oldest daughter is now 20. She left 3 weeks ago to attend college away from home. My mind spins in the reality what Christmas will look like this year following the years to come. There's no surprise realizing our kids grow up and move on. Even when slips of empty linger, we must remind ourselves it's a season. They are doing what they are supposed to be doing. We did it. Our parents did it. Their parents did it. Our kids will do it. Their kids will even do it. MOVE. ON. While thinking of my "new" Christmas, I jotted down a few traditions we've formed while she was growing up with her sister who is eight years younger to whom still lives at home.

In a relaxing manner, I would like to share some of those traditions we've accumulated over the years. Pull up a chair, grab a cup of coffee or relaxing tea, I know this will be fun. Take time out for you. Let's knock the edge off the approaching holiday season together. Relax. See. You feel it? This time of year is going to be fun. No. More. Pressure. Be. Free.

Let's get started:

Christmas Cards- I promise the Christmas picture card frenzy was started by me. When I was a child we did not send family Christmas picture cards. Nor do I remember friends sending them to us. It was not until I had a child, way before all my friends and when she was about 4 years old, I fell in love with photography. So the next Christmas, I made a Christmas photo card of her. I sent the card out to as many addresses I had at the time. From then on Christmas picture cards became the big tradition for most families. I know I started this! Funny thinking, I know. Christmas picture cards have become very popular over the years. Although we don't send a full family picture card, it's only of my kids, I am always on the hunt for a new outlet to purchase those cards where we can add their picture. This year, I found Paperless Posts, click on their name to see their recently updated site. They even have really cool Christmas cards not intended for pictures. Here is a little insight from our picture journey last year, Let this be your year. It will give you a peek into when we plan our Christmas cards. Also, it provides encouragement for those who might not make it to making cards.

One Tradition Shared From Childhood- A Christmas eve box holding matching pajamas. One of my favorite, I actually started this for my kids years ago. Not really thinking about my mother did it too. Because I think the older my sister and I got she no longer did it. Not a hundred percent sure, but thinking my memory is correct. When looking through Christmas pictures the other day, I found one of me and my sister holding matching pajamas. This picture was from when I was real little. Little with those red curls I mentioned at the start of this blog post. Ah, I do have a tradition going my mother did also. We can get so busy not realizing how much we do things like our mother's.

Favorite Christmas Breakfast- 
Sausage Balls
3 cup Bisquick
1 cup water
1 lb. grated sharp cheddar cheese
1 lb. ground sausage
Mix all together. Spoon into balls placing them on a cookie sheet. Cook on 350 until golden brown.
We started this tradition almost 15 years ago. A friend at work shared the recipe and it quickly became our favorite.

Family Time- After my sister and I married, we agreed to make arrangements with our families to alternate holidays. Especially when you toss kids into the mix. It can be hard. This is how we do it. One Christmas Eve we are with my husband's side of the family and Christmas of that same year we are with my family. Then the next year on Christmas Eve we are with my side of the family and Christmas Day with my husband's side of the family. My sister worked it out with her husband's side of the family therefore, we are synced on the same holiday schedule. Meaning when she's with her husband's side of the family, I am with my husband's side of the family. And when she's with her side of the family, I am with my side of the family. It's work out best as we know. Holidays can be hard for all. Hope this is helpful for someone. We started this many of years ago. So it's been long standing.

The Worst Christmas Gift- If you were to ask my kids what's the worst present they've received. They would tell you in a heartbeat. A box of Christmas tissues. You know one of those tissue boxes with cute decorations on the side you see around the holiday season. This could've been one of those Jimmy Kimmel moments, worst Christmas gift. Their response was just what he's looking for. Only, I didn't know I'd get the response I did. Nor was it my intent. So, I did not video. This took place several years ago. I tried to find small fun things so they could open gifts leading up to Christmas. I mean what kid doesn't love to open early gifts. Be precaution what you give my friends.

The Best Christmas Gift- From a mother's eyes, the best Christmas gift my kids received is advanced payment for college tuition. Hands down. Tell the grandparents to your children. Make it a creative adventure. So it's fun. Worth their wild. A jar with balloons with a sign on it, maybe, for them to drop their deposit in for their precious grandchildren.

One Thing I Wish I'd Done Different- Throughout the years, I wish I'd given 3 gifts per child. 3 gifts, as in, like the wise men gave Jesus, gold (of great value), frankincense (something spiritual) and myrrh (something for the body). Although it's not too late to start. My encouragement if you are not already doing this at whatever the age of your children 3 gifts each is plenty. Save the money you spend on the senseless stuff which ends up in the trash or donated. You will be ahead in the long run. Less clean up on Christmas. Less clean up on a daily basis. Less clean up decluttering your home. More money saved for college.  

Favorite Christmas Food From Childhood-
Sweet Potato Casserole
3 cups mashed sweet potato
3/4 cup sugar
1/3 cup milk
2 eggs
1/2 cup oleo
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp butter
topping: 1/2 cup oleo
1/3 cup flour
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup chopped nuts
Boil & mash potatoes. Add other ingredients. Put in casserole dish & top with topping.
Bake 350 for 30 minutes
My grandparents always cooked this recipe. I cook it now for our holiday season.

A Favorite Christmas Candy At Our House- A go to pick up candy is candy canes. Hands down. My kids love a good candy cane. Sounds cheesy. I know. It's a fact around here though.

Christmas Movies- Home Alone is our family favorite Christmas movie. We also enjoy watching the ABC Family 25 days of Christmas series.

Christmas Lights- A tradition since I was a child. My mother would drive me and my sister to a certain street near our home. It was a short street with a culdesac at the end. One house lights lined both sides of their driveway. We now as a family driving looking at lights as well. Even one year at our last house, my husband decorated our house covered in lights. It was awesome. Lots of hard work but it was fun back then. That's been over 15 years ago.

The Best Item I Bought For Winter Season- A snowman kit from a fundraiser magazine my daughter's school had. It has a hat, eyes, nose, pipe, and a scarf.

Wrapping Paper- A thick wrapping paper is a must. Sally Foster school fundraiser got me hook years ago. Now Hobby Lobby selection of thick Christmas wrapping paper is pretty awesome. One of my favorite things to do is limited the wrapping paper patterns for each Christmas season. Then wrap the kids presents stacking them on top of each other. The paper left from the year before goes to my mother. One year, I got thick brown paper. Mother helps me every year wrap their presents. This particular year she expressed how hard it was using the brown paper, like a brown paper bag, but it was a roll of it. I got crayons that year letting them decorate the paper themselves. It was fun watching them.

September 15th marks 100 days until Christmas. I hope you enjoyed hearing some of our family traditions. Please feel free to add some to your holiday season. Or simply drop how many you've created for your family. It's okay to say no.

What is one Christmas tradition you remember from childhood?
Do you have one you created for your family now?

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Without Saying a Word

A lady standing next to me asked if I knew who "such-n-such" was. They are "such-n-such's" sibling. My shoulder nearly touching hers enough to hear over the loud fans, whistleblowing, hightops screeching, coaches hauler, teammates calling for teammates and other parents talking.

We stood in the awkward position pushed against the wall out of harm's way, the ball. "No", I replied. "When my oldest daughter graduated a few years ago, it was the best release not keeping up with everyone." Our shoulders separated. She slid back into her upright standing position while I did the same.

It's important to know people, I get that, especially kids and families our own children are involved with. Also, I am a believer in going with what feels natural. Meaning where the Holy Spirit leads me in my demeanor as a mother. And this is feeling pretty awesome. Free. From. Highschool. Life.

My second child is only in middle school. So, I've enjoyed the break from high school life. A momma deserves a break, right. This time around starting the teen years, I am one of the few who already raised a teen. Eyeballs are on me, "give us advice".

That's cool with me. I'll start by saying "every child is different". I see it with the very two I am raising, and I saw it first hand up close with my oldest daughter and her friends. Let's just say it was a beautiful process to watch those kids grow up. More importantly, watch the other parents. Back then I was the mom who didn't have an older child. So, I did a lot of evaluating and watching of parenting skills. Then there were things behind closed doors, I had to tackle on my own as a mother. Today, I want to share those with you. Because I've been there. I've raised a daughter. Who is now 20. Which is another set of parenting challenges. Your time will come with those years too. I promise. Just like you got through infant, toddler, terrible two's, you will get past the teen years. I'll get past the 20's and teen's again.

When one is in the heat of the moment raising a teen, it can be hard. We can tend to forget what it was like for us personally when we were a teen.

If words fly off the handle.
The door gets slammed.
If mumbles form under the breath getting out of the car at practice.

Let it go!

Yes, I said it. Let it go.

Exodus 14:14 The Lord will fight for you, you need only be still. 

The harder we push, the harder they push the other way.

Think back to when you were a teen.

The pressure:

fitting in
performing the way a certain coach requires
adjusting to being around young and older girls/boys
longer practices
body changes

Be the mushy comfort your teen needs without saying a word, for now at least. [Click here to tweet].

Plan a time to watch a movie or tv show with just them. Make a movie ticket. Write it on a notecard. You can even schedule it verbally. This may require staying up later. Or asking your spouse to hang with the rest of the crew while you get this special time.

Write a note of encouragement. Post the note to their mirror, closet door, back of bathroom door or inside a cabinet. Leave it for a few days. Depending on your child's personality you may need to take it down before company, better yet leave it for the company to see, they might need encouragement too. Add a Bible verse. Not sure which verse. Find one here. 1 Thessalonians 5:11 Encourage each other and build each other up. 

Do a chore. One they are normally responsible for. No one wants to add more to their momma/dad list. I get it. Really, I do. Trust me on this one. You may not hear a response back on this one from your child. There's no need.

Speak kindly to them. Even if not spoken to kindly first. Proverbs 16:24 Kind words are like honey, sweet to the soul and healthy for the body. 

Ask for a hug. Not everyone is a hugger. If you are unsure test the waters and see if yours is. Can't get a hug in aim for a high-five. Or watching the movie snuggle next to them. Even if it's only touching shoulders.

Pray. Ask the Lord to reveal things He might be communicating to you about your personal self through this time. We are always growing. He is always talking to us. I know raising my oldest I grew mentally and spiritually. How do you feel about yourself? Are you jam up okay with the way things are? Do you love your job, hair, looks, etc? If you do not read anything else I've written, read this. You are jam up. You are a cool parent. You are a child of Gods. That's what matters. That's what makes you cool. You are loved. You are awesome. You matter. When we are busy loving God, others and our life there is no room for drama, worry, fear or regrets. Ephesians 2:19-22 When you feel unloved, unimportant, or insecure remember to whom you belong. 

Leave a gift. We all like surprises. If the teen needs something like a new toothbrush, socks, a pencil pouch or something for school, use this item as the gift. Leave a small note with the item stating, "I got this just for you." Don't go out breaking the bank to gift something in hopes the teen will never be grumbly again. A small gesture is all that's needed. Even baking a favorite meal or treat of theirs would be awesome.

Share what it was like when you were a teen. Teens love to hear stories about when we were kids. They want to know we screwed up, talked back to our parents, ran into a door in front of everyone, struggled with our appearance, and we saw the need for a daily relationship with Christ. Most get saved moving on never developing a relationship. This may be something you need to pray about personally for yourself. If so, that is perfectly okay.

While praying ask the Lord to show you which of these above would be good for you and your teen. All of them are not meant to be tackled. One. Few. Couple. Be the comfort your teen needs from the outside world. Be the hands and feet of Jesus.

You will make it through this.
You can handle this.
You can put the wooden spoon away.
You will see the sassy leave.

You are a great parent.

If you found this helpful leave a comment, tell a friend, share on facebook or other social networks. You can use the quick links just below.

Monday, July 25, 2016

Festering Something Old

Strapping my seat belt across my chest, I drove to the church.

All the parking places in the upper lot were full. The sun beamed in my eyes as my car wind down to the lower lot. A parking space was vacant next to the stairs. I parked. Each knee bent climbing to the next step. A small group of older women stood at the top of the stairs. As I smiled, “hello” pushed across my Chap Stick lips. Each woman said, “hello” back.

Once inside the church, I walked past the information desk. A familiar face sat behind the desk. From across the room, we exchanged smiles.

Around the corner, classrooms line a narrow hallway. I stopped at one of the open doors. My Bible study meets in this classroom every Tuesday morning. In front of a chair, my feet stopped. The green purse on my shoulder slid to the floor. While the Bible and study book in my hands released into the chair. Not many of my Bible study partners were in the classroom yet. I spoke to the ones who were. Then made my way outside the door. Where I stood greeting those entering our classroom.

This particular week a new Bible study was underway. We watched a video, listened to worship music while journaling a few thoughts. For my comfort, I sat on the floor next to my chair. Once the music was over, I remained on the floor for the rest of the class period for group discussion. The topic of discussion was something along the lines “What’s something you feel God’s protected you from?”

My mind spun in all sorts of directions: not getting hurt when I drove my car through a ditch on purpose in high school, the misery of walking out the grief process when my father passed away, sparing my life from liver cancer.

My thoughts stopped there.
Mainly, because a woman in class started talking.
My back pressed against the wall.

From across the room, I continued listening to her response, “The Lord protected me as a teen. He guarded my heart against sexual impurity.”

My heart stopped.
I looked down.

Why would she say that? She knows my story. Can we not talk about something different?

The gut-wrenching knife poked in my stomach. Each breath forced it to turn deeper. The enemy did what he does best. He trapped me in the mindset “how could she”.

Class soon ended. I gathered my things bailing out.

Weeks went by.

My finger dragged upward on my phone screen. This navigated the news feed on Facebook. A sponsored ad appeared. My eyes were intrigued by a non-profit organization. Their outreach  encourages young unplanned pregnant moms.

The day in Bible study popped back in my head.
The Lord whispered, “I saved you too!” Then He continued speaking over my soul. Processing our conversation, on a notecard, I jotted down these words:

You may have been saved from places out of protection years ago. I have been saved too by going places most did not. We can all be safe. We can all be saved. Different paths. Different journeys. One true God.

See, I was that girl one day, pregnant unplanned. I was a pregnant teen at the age of 18 straight out of high school. My doctor engaged the subject of abortion when he told me, “you are pregnant”.  No way was I having an abortion. Although I accepted Christ as an early teen, not only did I have sex out of marriage, guilt and shame smothered many years of my life after giving birth. 

Until in recent years, He really revealed Himself to me through a friend saying, “shame is not of God”. He began restoring my soul mustarding those words over me. “Shame is not of Me.” I am happy to say my daughter is 20 years old this year.

Back to the day in Bible study, the enemy had fun festering something old. He knew right where he could attack me and did. My true God who rescued me once will again and again. He reminds me, I am His, I am loved, nothing of His is a mistake and by grace, He reigns forever life over me.

In him, we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace that he lavished on us. With all wisdom and understanding, Ephesians 1:7-8 NIV

In him and through faith in him we may approach God with freedom and confidence. Ephesians 3:12 NIV

What He does for one He does for all.

Saved by grace.

Is the enemy festering an old sin of yours causing you to feel less than? 
Causing guilt to linger? 
Are you someone who had a child at a young age? Out of wedlock?

*This post originally was entered in the Spring for a chance as a guest post on (in)courage blog.

You are awesome. You are loved. You matter. Please share this post with a friend. Be the light.

To read more of my personal story of my pregnancy read my first book, Daddy's Briefcase

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

I want to write a book

I want to write a book. Now what? What advice do you have for me on getting started?

Three weeks ago, I published my second book Under Contract: Life in the Middle of Dreams. Since then, the response has been wonderful. I've been so blessed to have people come alongside me to cheer me on, gain readers and the list goes on. If you haven't already visit Amazon to purchase a copy and or leave a review.

Publishing a book triggers questions for inspiring authors. This excites me. I want to share my personal intense journey in hopes of helping others. Although everything from start to finish can not be shared in one blog post, I've prayed about how to answer the one question mentioned above, "What advice do you have for me to get started?" This is a very board question. One a book could be written about. We all know we have to start somewhere. So here goes. A good starting point for an overall view of knowledge of writing a book.

If you've known since you were a child you wanted to write a book and or people tell you often you should write a book. Then those two are good leverage for a starting point, but not to be mistaken for you should or the only reasons someone should. These two can be used by God to trigger work for His kingdom. Yet the timing could not be just yet. Knowing this, never give up. Write. Write some more. Read. Read more. Brainstorm. Pick a topic. Tell a friend. Pray. Believe. Trust. Press forward. If you've been called to write a book doors to complete the project will eventually open.

You will hear, create your brand, create your voice, and build a tribe in order to write a book, get published and then successfully have sales. These can be done by:

a blog
blog daily
vlog daily
make videos often
email list
join a writers group

Although all of these are wonderful, an inspiring writer is sure to become overwhelmed trying to tackle all trying to gain author status. As each child's personality is different, each writer is different. What works for one writer's personality might not be good for the next. Focus on what's good for you personally, you alone. What is time manageable for you? The moment you feel overwhelm back away. Slow down. Pray. Ask God to show you what's natural for your life. If it's only two from the list, then that's awesome. If it's five or all then great too. There could even be some not listed here. These just came to the top of my mind. The overall point is run with what works for you. Just because you see a successful author brand themselves through Instagram, email, and daily blogging is not what's going to make you the same successful author or any inspiring creative person whether it is music, artwork, housewife, married woman or even your health status. Horn in on your daily prayer life, your relationship with Christ and ask for His direction for you personally. Run with what He communicates to you. Be confident. Why work so hard to fit in when you've been called to be set apart. 2 Corinthains 6:17.

Here is a list of things to keep in mind about writing a book:

- Will the book be fiction or nonfiction? One idea is all it takes. Love the idea you aim towards, because you will grow tired along the way. Say "I do" until the end. Day after day, things can tend to grow boring. You will want to bail at some point, give up, don't. If you say "I do" don't bail. Great rewards at the end. I promise. If your writing has characters talk about them. Be prepared to share what your work of progress is about. Build up curiosity.

Have a notebook.  Keep an organized notebook to your liking. Keep handy. Even next to your bed. Night time gains great writers. I wrote my first book, Daddy's Briefcase, in the late hours of the night.  Warning, you will not remember in the morning. Keep as many of your notes in one place, a notebook, or it's going to get crazy. If you tend to write on a slip of paper here and there transfer to you notebook or tape the slip of paper in you notebook. Notebook. Voicemail. Ipad. Iphone. I Notes.

Time management, manage your writing to fit your schedule, some write working full time, some write while home with their kids. Me personally, I've written both of my books, Daddy's Briefcase and Under Contract around my families schedule. I am married, mother of two girls who are eight years apart. Sacrificing ounces of your time adds up. Try to write every day. There will be days or weeks you take off. Don't be alarmed. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Romans 12:12

- Writing a book can be comparable to having a baby. Researching. Planning. Writing. Creates laboring pains. You may even cry. One good thing is the book isn't going to cry. Like a dogs not going to talk back but they are still children. A book is your baby. It's fun the day of delivery, release day. Then the true work begins when everyone's back to their regular schedules. The pain you've been feeling, can't be compared to the joy that's coming. Romans 8:18

- The creative process is all yours. View other's work to inspire you. Go to the bookstore. Look at books. Look at books you have at home. Study the cover. Is it shiney or matte? Which do you like? White pages? Cream pages? Styles of writing? Which author grab your attention? Warning, don't compare your creativity to others. It's a trap to instant failure. You must seek the Lords guidance and create what only you've been called to.

- Not everyone writes an outline. I personally did not write an outline for either of my books. Others I know have not as well. Then I know others who have. Kinda like some can go to the grocery without a list and come out with all intended saving loads of cash. While some go by a step by step list to accomplish the same task. What works for one doesn't always work for the other.

- Write what you would like to read. This was done with my second book. Verse novels have grown to be a favorite read of mine through the years. It got to the point I was looking for a fresh, clean, family-oriented, faith-based, etc. verse novel. This type of verse novel did not exist. With these desires, the Lord opened a door for me to write one myself. I have a video on my facebook page about this very topic. It's under the Under Contract album.

- Editor + Proof reader. Value these people's time. It will take just that, time. Be patient. Work on something different while you wait. Make bookmarkers. Design book cover. Create a Goodreads account. Sign up for an ISBN number if your printing company doesn't provide or if you want full rights of you book. Apply for a Library of Congress Number. Think of marketing plans. Type copyright page. Type author note page. Type Acknowledgements page. Check print prices.

- Think of publishing early on. Will you self-publish or traditional publish? Self-publish is you holding rights to your book while doing all the work yourself. Basically, self-publishing is like owning your own business because technically you are. Traditional would be with a publishing house which typically hold onto certain rights. You will need to write a query letter and wait for acceptance from book agents. Rejection does happen. Rejection does hurt. Continue on until your print needs are met. I traveled the Traditional route sending out query letters with my first book. All response where rejection letters. I moved on after a certain time frame towards self-publishing. Self-publishing to some degree is easier this day and time. Even so, say 5 years ago. Remember, lots of people want to write books too. The time frame to write a book, edit and publish will take longer than you think. My first book took me 5 years and my second book took 3 years. Reminder John Grisham self-published his first book.

Think about: book theme, writing style, voice. You might not have all the answers at first. They will come. Start somewhere. Start writing. Get the first few thoughts out on paper. You can always back up, skip over or delete. There will always be a first draft. You can handwrite this or type in Word or something similar. When it feels off, it's off. Trust your intuition, always.

- Not everyone will support you. Find a trusted friend to bounce ideas off. Some will make you feel your writing is not good enough. So don't tell yourself it's not good enough. It is keep moving on. Whatever you do work heartily for the Lord, not men. Colossians 3:23

Writing can be fun one day. Then another day it can be torture. Press on. Write until it feels natural. Then when you're not writing you will have waves of anxiousness. Write again until your project is complete. Don't stop what the Lord started in you.

Write the book you've been dreaming of writing.

Did you find this helpful?
What questions did this trigger?
Would you like to hear more about writing?

Your comments, shares, and reviews are gold. Thanks for reading. I look forward to the next blog post. Hope you have a wonderful day. You are love! May this post be a light for any project you are working on. It doesn't have to be a book my friends.

You may find this post Answer Two or More helpful.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

It's not about the money

Thinking of happy days in all the years of parenting will melt a momma's heart.

One of the happiest days for me personally as a mom is the day I watched my oldest daughter walk across the stage receiving her high school diploma.

For the reasons of big accomplishments as a parent seeing the fruit unveil before your eyes. All the early mornings off to school, standing in line for uniforms, school supplies, lunches, school functions, dances, class parties, the no's, the yes', who is that you're talking to, "this is how we", the countless projects, tutor requirements just to make it through a class, field trips, driving test, drivers ed, sports, Friday nights, 5th-quart parties, "I am sorry, I said No!", sleepovers, awards day, report cards, grades, books, papers, chapels, sick days, etc. all tied up in one big day, graduation.

Then you move on after graduation day. The next question people ask you as the parents as well as your child, "Oh, what's your major?" Kinda like when you marry it's, "When are you having kids?" Then you have a kid and it's, "When are you going to have another one?"

In my families case, my oldest daughter's career path is education, elementary education, "teaching".

When you respond to others upon their questioning, "what's your major?" And you say very proud and confidently, whether it's me, my husband or my daughter herself, "teaching". In most cases, automatical you see the person's nose start to cringe. It's the most disappointing response. Then cringe turns into, "Oh, I could never do that", "I can't believe her dad agreed", "hope she plans to find a second job", "hope she finds a rich husband", "kids are so mean these days", "she can't survive doing that".

If you haven't already take a seat. Come in a little closer. Imagine us sitting at lunch together. That's how personal I want to be with my readers. Friends. Lunch buddies. Real with each other. Talk about anything. Be you. Be me.

Now, think for a minute. What if the responses shared above were about your child, grandchild or you? Are you with me? Are you feeling it? It hurts! Doesn't it? Point blank dog-on hurts. I know how my child was brought into this world. I know the sacrifices her dad and I made daily to raise our daughter, a daughter of the true King.

And that's just it, a daughter of the King's. All the responses, words or cringes, in His love can't touch what He's called His child to accomplish here on this earth to further His kingdom. That's true freedom my friends knowing words, money, nor a career does not define us. When we go places the Lord has called us He blesses us beyond what the world can and will or sees.

All the responses received by others in regards to a teaching career, we as parents have discussed with our daughter. Her awareness makes her stronger. It allows her to see His goodness in her life. It allows her to see the gift He instilled in her on a deeper level.

In a sense, when someone stands on the soccer sideline responding with such words, it hurts. It stings. Until my husband, myself or my daughter make sure our God size goggles are focused do we feel safe and secure. Because let's face it, in the world we live in we can be derailed in a heartbeat to question things just like others do. When our goggles are focused we see the beautiful picture of her life He has painted since day one. We see where she currently is trusting His plan most of all for her future. We replace hurts with His truth.

Before long, the world will not see me anymore, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live. On that day you will realize that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you. Whoever has my commands and keeps them is the one who loves me. The one who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love them and show myself to them.” John 14:19-21

At the end of the day, she can rest assure, as well as us as parents, "I am doing what I love". He knows what makes us tick. He knows what makes us tock for the advancement of His kingdom. Passion.

It is with great joy, I share such personal matter we face currently every day in this season of our life.

Now the school year is coming to the end for your child, your child's teacher, your neighbor's kids, or your grandchild think of how you can bless a teacher. Preparing for this blog post, I thought of a time I heard teachers talking while on a field trip. They were not on the field trip as teachers rather parents.  Their honesty was shared about what gifts teachers wish not receive. So, I compiled those with other responses recently received of what teachers do wish to receive. As well I did my own little research. Please by no means hold this list as etched in a stone. It's simply a suggestion upon personal preference. If you are like me a little toggle of the brain can get us going when making a decision about gift giving.

List of gifts teachers are most likely blessed by:
games for classroom
Qube cart
wooden door hanger
beach towel
grading stamp
adopt a sea creature
charity for art schools
personalized thank you notes
books for classroom
donate something to the school in their honor
provide lunch for a day of choice
cook dinner, drop off or put in school frig
electric pencil sharpener from school supply house
handwritten thank you notes from kids
handwritten encouragement notes
nothing with the word teacher on it
volunteer in the classroom- sharpen pencils, book orders, recess duty, make copies, deep clean classroom
tickets to a sports event or concert
new classroom scissors, pens, post-it notes, easel, globe, audio learning set
one gift from the class
gift card- teacher aid, restaurant, bookstore, spa, gas, grocery, iTunes, Netflix, carwash, visa gift card, salon, movies, water park, office max, massage, pedicure, ice cream, coffee

Things teachers request not to receive:
anything with apples on it
coffee mugs
bath soap, gels, and lotions
homemade treats
cash from individual student
nothing with your child's picture on it
if you saw it on Pinterest so did everyone else
nothing with the word teacher on it

As we give to Him, He gives to us. Luke 6:38

Some may still be thinking, "but we've got to make money." Rightly so, God grants us the wisdom to have means to provide our daily essentials. He also grants us wisdom and knowledge to have faith. So with this, I trust (1 Timothy 6:8-10,17, Ecclesiastes 5:10, Proverbs 11:28) my daughter's obedience to God's calling on her life she will be blessed beyond. As well as her contentment in Christ allows her to know money doesn't bring true happiness. Philippians 4:11-12.

A sign of discontentment is always wanting a little more. Our contentment is based on spiritual wealth, not material wealth. Money itself is not sinful but the love of money is leaving us to know power, wealth, and status lies with money. When we don't view money as our own, rather God's this opens the doors for Him to use us as He wishes. He knows our needs but also expects us to give generously. Proverbs 30:8.

As an added bonus here is a few guidelines to avoid love of money:
1. know your money will be gone one day.
2. content with what you have.
3. manage ways you get more money.
4. love others over money.
5. love working for God over money.
6. sharing what money you do have.

Psalm 107:8-9 He satisfies the thirsty and fills the hungry with good things.

In John 14:14 Jesus says, "You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it."

In your name Lord, I ask according to your character and will over Katelyn's life she be granted with your blessings. Because I know she is sincerely following You while seeking Your will. You will grant them according to your plan.

I am reminded of an article my daughter recently posted on her Facebook page. In summary it states: a career in teaching is the starting seed of all other careers. Our teacher are what holds the future of this world. The job you love a teacher helped you get there. Remember the elementary teacher you liked and did not like they are why you are who you are and where you are today. A love for learning overrules smart. Smart teachers sharpen minds and inspire learning.

My encouragement is, let's celebrate with those who's career path is not something "we could do". Because really when we take our eyes of self and place them on others there's so much beauty and freedom found. We can rejoice with their calling. We can celebrate with them. We can encourage them. Or maybe you're the one with a career path people's nose cringes at. Listen for His truth over your life. Maybe this is a reminder of encouragement whatever path you are on. Stay true to who you are in Christ. I would love to hear from you or even love if you shared this post with friends.

Bless a teacher today, they are blessing you by teaching your family member.