Enjoy The Views

Do you ever feel lost, dazed, and always behind?

Lately I have felt all these things not because of poor choices but because I am living my best life. Loving my family well is my first priority.  I ask God daily for wisdom, insight and help. He has blessed us far beyond comprehension at this point.

Recently, I haven’t had time or the thought process to get my jumbled words out onto paper. I have had so many thoughts recently. Thoughts about human trafficking, the church, abuse, how Jesus heals, love, rest as a weapon and so much more. These thoughts are all wound up in my head like messy yarn. Instead of writing I see the beautiful faces of those I love and they have needed me more. When I begin one thing I am needed for someone else and I forget to finish what I began. If you are around when this happens please don’t take it personal. I am truly doing my best here to keep up with those that need me.

I often struggle with not being able to do everything I set my heart to get done. I have missed some writing deadlines, none that were required of me, but I set a personal goal to submit guest posts once a month. I found myself getting frustrated at myself for not being able to complete these submissions despite the drastic life changes my husband and I have had recently.

Have you ever been hard on yourself despite circumstances being far beyond your control? Why are we so hard on ourselves over things that don’t matter?

Once I realized how hard I was being on myself I chose to put my phone down, except to take photos, and enjoy the view. Whether it was hearing giggles and seeing smiling faces or providing tissues for tear streaked cheeks with heartache coming to the surface, I chose to be fully present in it all. I suppose I have been attempting to truly live this way since February but I hadn’t realized how much of our busy and performance based culture was imbedded into my DNA.

I have had to say, “no” more than I can count and take rain checks more often recently to ensure that I am fully present and living in obedience. This has also meant that goals have been slowed, not stopped, and life filled with other foreign things during a time unknown to us all. If I do not take the time to choose wisely I will miss it. What will I miss? I will miss those moments where those in my life need me and want to be the center of my world in that moment. I will miss the laughter and the hugs. I will miss the epic stories. I will miss the hiking trails and the messy faces, the scraped knees that need bandaging and my name being called in a sweet voice. I will miss the losses and the incredible victories.

I will miss the views.

The views that are beautiful beyond words and take your breathe away. The type of views you have prayed your entire life for and are struggling to soak in because it seems so surreal that finally you are living it!

Each of us must soak these views in because they will pass like a vapor in the wind too soon.

If you are struggling today to enjoy your view take a nice deep breathe in, exhale slowly and realize that this won’t last. You will miss some precious moments because they come and go in a blink of an eye. Give yourself grace as each day passes and a new one begins. Goals and dreams are waiting but those that need you won’t always be there like they are today.

Let each of us put down our phone, keep our wind blown hair and enjoy the views.

Counting The Savior’s Fingers And Toes

I have been thinking about Mary and baby Jesus recently. How did it feel to hold him close knowing who he was? As I began pondering these things the birth of Jesus started to come alive in different ways. Other things came to my mind as well.

Since God chose Mary and Joseph to be parents to Jesus, then he has fully equipped you to parent your kids whether they are biological or not. You are needed. You are known.

Remember the babe in a manger. Look at his family. Even he grew up in a blended family. It was not perfect. They were not rich. They loved God and each other. Obedience ran deep in their veins and trust was rooted in their hearts.

Below is a quick story that came from one of my days of pondering, wondering and imagining one of the greatest days in history for all mankind.

As you read, may the birth of Christ become more real to you today.

The dingy, musky air filled with scents of hay and sheep surrounded them. A fire crackled as a pot of water warmed over for Jesus and Mary.

Mary lay back exhausted and uncomfortable. She was trying to get Jesus to latch on for his first meal while Joseph gathered food, and tended to the fire. He would check on her every now and then. She would catch him staring at them in awe.

Jesus cooed and Mary nuzzled her nose into his neck and inhaled the scent of him. She counted his fingers and toes twice over. His eyes had a brightness to them and seemed to have a hue of every color. This was the Savior her people had been waiting their entire lives for.

Her heart could hardly take in that she was chosen to be his Mommy. How does one raise the son of God? She and Joseph did not have much and she bit back tears as she realized their lives were not fit for a king. It humbled her that she was considered worthy for such a task. And now here he was, in her arms, tiny, handsome and needing her. The Savior of the world needed her.

As Joseph finished gathering rags he brought over the warmed water and took care of his family. He could hardly believe that he was to raise the Messiah. He looked perfect in every way. Mary was more beautiful to him than she ever was. There were no words for this moment. Immediately their souls had intertwined and been brought together in a way that no one else in history would ever know.

Only a Savior could do that.

Roar of Justice

My little family of 3 is worth trudging through the mud for!

Due to our current dynamics (other blended families can relate) we often face ongoing challenges that require a good lifestyle of forgiveness, self-control, patience, joy, peace, kindness, goodness & love. Oh wait, you mean all families should require that too? Uh… Yeah!

Exclusion and slander have become just a normal thing we face on a regular basis (sadly by multiple people). The unfortunate part about this is that our daughter is the one that pays for it. I want to write a book about all of the ways that kids are getting damaged by selfish, deceitful adults who exclude, lie and slander those whose intentions are pure… So stayed tuned for several years about how selfish adults actions affect the next generation & ways to reverse the damage (insert wink emoji here for added light hearted effect which won’t work anyways).

I have reached a point where just pretending to put a smile on my face around these people is not good enough anymore. If you know anything about me I have always struggled when things are not complete, are not reconciled & when injustices continue to occur. I have also come to the realization that I have at times unknowingly partnered with the thief by just sitting back and allowing a heavy cloak of the wrong identity to be placed on me that was never mine. Consider this post a step to break free from the ongoing bondage I unknowingly partnered with.

Is my family worth it? Yes!

Will I continue to attempt to ensure that my family will be included and given time together that they deserve? Yes, just with a different attempt & with those that are in our lives to lift us up. I have every right to protect and guard those I love especially my own husband and daughter.

Here is to victory after victory!

Here is to triumph after triumph!

Hear the roar of justice! He is coming.

Winter is about to end.

Legacy: kindness?

Something heavy on my heart are the power of words. With my job, too often I see kids walk through our doors beat up from the words and actions of adults in their life. Kids come in with heads hung low or hiding deep wounds made by someone’s tongue.

Choose your words wisely. Your words can either help someone or hinder them. The same can be said about yourself.

The words one hears; the words spoken over someone, to someone, and about someone all become a part of the individual who is being spoken to. If these words are damaging, unfortunately it becomes a part of them.

Parents and family members, if you are trash talking another person that is related to your children, keep in mind that you are hurting your children. Your temporary pleasure of acting out in anger is not worth the abuse on your children’s heart and soul.

Be kind.

Speak kindly.

Choose to love. Stop the words of hate from exiting your mouth.

Be better.

Do better.

You were made to live in a way that helps and blesses others, especially your children, who are here to carry the legacy you leave behind.

What will your legacy be?

The Step Or Bonus

You are important.

You matter.

As a Stepmom Mother’s day is a strange day. It is filled with tension and love. By Monday I feel like I can take a deep breath and finally relax after Sunday is complete.

If you are a fellow Stepmom you know that some may acknowledge your role while others will not. Some of you desperately need and want to be accepted if it is a simple, “Thank you”.

This year Mother’s day is difficult for other reasons for me. Some reasons I will not share in this post but will reserve for another time.

I do not need a day like Mother’s day. I am blessed knowing that I am important and valued by those that matter most to me. I am often celebrated multiple times a year. I am blessed!

But the day does lead to other struggles and I would be happy to skip the day all together.

It will be the 3rd year without my Mom here. Even though the Lord has removed the deep grief I used to live with, the day is filled with a twinge of sadness. I am so blessed to have others in my life who love me like a daughter and I know that my Mom would be happy for these beautiful ones who cherish me so.

The day also brings an awkwardness as my daughter struggles. My desire is for her to love and cherish her Mom. As she grapples and struggles through her situation it is difficult to see her be put into situations that she never should have to be put in. She is a model of bravery and courage as she battles to love everyone even at the expense of her heart from one side.

Finally as Mother’s day approaches I grieve my baby. I should have been 30 weeks pregnant.

It was going to be a celebration of this beautiful miracle. Life should have been moving and growing within me as my family of 3 anticipated the arrival of number 4 this summer.

Despite the struggles I have new hope, and have found joy in letting go. I look forward to what is to come this year. In fact, the more I spend time allowing Jesus to heal my mind, body & soul, the more I laugh at what the enemy has attempted to destroy. It is payback year and the dues must be paid. Justice and victory are coming.

For those of you struggling with similar things I encourage you to know that God hears every hearts cry. He sees every tear that falls. He is for you and your family whether you are acknowledged for loving and caring for your kids or not. Whether you are a Foster Mom, Stepmom (bonus Mom), Adoptive Mom, or Grandma who has taken on the role of Mom- you are seen, known, and valued. Your kids need you. The enemy will try to tell you otherwise and others will jump on that bandwagon but it will never change the truth.

You are important.

You are valued.

You matter.

Keep loving no matter who tries to stop you.

No Grey

Black or white. Truth or lies. There is no grey area regarding our words.

Have you ever been nervous to be in someone’s presence who you knew had been told awful lies about you?

This alone can make one feel instantly unsafe.

It is horrible when slanderous words are used to steal your true identity or the identity of ones you love. Gossip and slander can steal the opportunity away for a genuine connection with others. Relationships, and entire family units can be torn apart just by one person sowing lies about individuals character and life. It is sad. It breaks hearts.

Until repentance occurs and time reveals that the lies have stopped, things will never be remotely similar to what they once were. With children the lies they may believe could take a lifetime to work through.

What we say is very powerful. Death and life is in the tongue. We either uplift or tear down. There is no grey area.

Choose your words wisely.

Choose love.

Choose truth.

Do It Again

2018 is on the horizon and I have many things on my mind. I have spent 2017 forgiving many, loving fiercely and surrendering my soul to my mighty God. There are many questions I have and many prayers I’m waiting for the Lord to answer. 

He has done great things for my heart, my soul & for my family. He has delivered me from pain & healed my body. He has set me free.

My biggest question going into 2018 is, “Will you do it again?” 

Every day for the past week and a half I have asked God this question. I have wept and I have spent hours into the night interceding for my family. There is so much on my heart that I cannot give up hope believing will happen. 

I have spent my time watching the boxing scene in Rocky where he did not win that battle but he put up one good fight & remained standing. This is 2017. 

2018 will be the year I see God do it again. I will go back in that boxing ring and win! It will be my year full of laughter & joy. 

I have listened to this song every day for the past week and a half. It has been my anthem. God is good. He is faithful. ⬇

“Do It Again” Elevation Worship

Speechless 

Is there a word that better describes grateful, thankful, or blessed? Joy? 

The past month has renewed hope within me for the impossible. I cannot describe it. I could not tell you when it happened. One day I woke up & all of a sudden what seemed impossible no longer looked or felt impossible. Childlike faith & joy was  restored. It was not like I lost it but the pain that God delivered me from has now enabled joy to invade every part that was ever damaged.

Words are not adequate. Giving my life will never convey how grateful I am for all that God has done for me and my family. 

Just this past week alone I have found myself wanting to shout praises to God! Simple things like being greeted from our cat at home have made me say “thank you”. Or the time she fell out of our window this past week & bounced off the side table onto the floor because she fell asleep there (she didn’t get hurt and I laughed a lot). 

What really gets me is when I see my daughter smile at me & tell me unsolicited, “I really love you Kara”. I love hugs from my husband & waking up knowing he is excited that I’m the first person he sees. 

I am grateful for voxers & phone calls with friends who have lasted the test of time & distance. I love that others have adopted me & love me without an expectation of what my response may be. Love has literally consumed my heart that it often feels as if it will burst.

Grateful? Thankful? Those words do not cut it. Those words merely express a tiny piece of what is in my soul. 

I am living in freedom! 

Joy is life.

Now I know what it means to laugh my way through trials. Do you want to know why?

Because my God is going to do the impossible! There is no way the enemy can win.

The Not So Evil Stepmom

Do you ever wonder if your love is breaking through to your stepkids?

Are you in a situation where the other parent is not easy to work with? Is life often like a rollercoaster due to the parental alienation tactics that brainwash each child that you love?

Do not give up. Do not stop loving your kids. 

Through the years my husband and I have learned some simple things that have helped our daughter have a “place of her own”. What is unique about her is that she has three homes rather than just one or two. It has been crucial to try to find something for her that is stable, safe & her own “home”. I will share a few tricks we have learned & maybe it will help someone get creative for their current situation.

Our kids deserve stability, safety & love. Stepmom, if you are not doing your part to help then you are joining the “problem”. Do not allow the stereotypical label of “Stepmom” or the vile actions from the other side validate your wrong reactions. Respond instead in love & extend mercy.

I strongly believe that my role as a Stepmom is to help facilitate the best relationship that my daughter can have with her Dad. On a similar note I believe I am to encourage all parental roles (in our case it would be bio-mom & grandma/grandpa) to work together for the good of our daughter. This means no trash talking anyone, and never ever taking out your frustration on your child or spouse from the unfair, illegal actions being done from the other side. At the end of the day if it feels you have bitten off your tongue you’ve done well (so pat yourself on the back… Yay).

I’ve also learned that there are appropriate times & ways to speak truth in love. For example, if a child has been misbehaving and the other side keeps making statements about how bad their child is, insinuating it is your husbands fault, I believe it is okay to say how good of a kid and Daddy they are. A child may misbehave but that does not make them bad nor does it necessarily mean one parent is to blame.

Create special traditions that are not dictated by specific dates. This year we do not get our daughter for Thanksgiving & it also lands on our weekend, which BM will not allow to be made up. So we plan our own Thanksgiving & stick to our traditional meal that is special to us. The times you share should not be dictated by having special dates on the actual day. It can always be done differently and creatively. This is a fact you’ll have to get used to. Greive it as you need to but do not get hung up on it. 

Give your child something that can be shared amongst all households. This will be the equivalent of “home” for your child. This could be a backpack, a stuffed animal or a small bag with items. Whatever it is this will be & can be the one stable thing that they can carry back & forth that will not change for them. You will find this provides a “safety” feature that often is not felt in each home. 

Never give up. Never give in. Keep loving. Keep hoping. Keep showing up and following through. 

Your impact is great. 

Punch the Darkness: Love Mercy

Mercy.

My amazing husband and I were talking the other day about mercy after reading Micah 7. This followed a conversation I had with a good friend the night prior about how I was living in His mercy every morning (Lamentations 3:22-23). It is an amazing truth!

It is hard to see heart-wrenching things happening all around us. I have asked, as have many of you, why God hasn’t done something sooner to help a situation or specific person. 

As I was processing out loud with my hubs I said things like, “I know God doesn’t like it when people hurt his kids. I know he is for our daughter but I don’t understand why he hasn’t switched things around more?”

His response was wise and it hit me in my gut, “He is extending mercy to her Mom. It took me 30 years to finally give my life to him and he extended me mercy over and over again. Why wouldn’t he do the same for her?” (I am so blessed by him!) 🙂

Finally it made sense. I need to extend mercy more. My Mama bear heart can contend for justice but it also can extend mercy to someone who is really in need. I can speak truth in love and still extend mercy. When it is hardest to love mercy (Micah 6:8) get on your knees & pray.

I need mercy. You need mercy. My enemies need mercy.

God is a good God. He is faithful. He waits for each of us because he loves us so much.

 You are worth it (even my enemies).