Summer Blessings

13445400_10154927222784746_4419286371882224395_n (1)After our trial the last year with cancer, it has been such a nice break this summer. This morning at church, our pastor had us look at where God has us right now and where he might be taking us in his big plans. During that time, as I reflected on where he has me right now, I couldn’t help but praise Him as I saw blessing after blessing in His active working my life. I wanted to share them with you and let you know that every single thing on this list has been given to me by God and for God–No one can tell me there is no God because I know Him personally! 🙂 This isn’t an eloquently written post by any means, but its truth and I felt lead to share.

13512128_10154932488199746_4493964367166036115_nSo the first thing is my relationship with my children has grown this summer. When my daycare provider told me that she needed the kids to come in at least 2 times a week this summer to keep their spots open (3 kids is a lot of income to lose for the summer when you are a daycare provider), my first thought was “Maybe I can use that time for me time! I can go to the beach, read a book, take a nap!” And then of course, the other day could be used for business–lesson planning, work on my books, my app, Owen’s business, etc. At first that is what I planned to do with those two days until God clearly spoke to me and told me to use that free day to take one of my kids out each week on a date for one-on-one time. 13415497_10154891369579746_7140565395515364686_oWhile I was sad to lose my lost me time, I knew it was right and also loved the idea. I  knew it was much better and God-glorifying than a me day. So I’ve been doing it and it has been such a wonderful time! James and I went to a movie, had lunch together and chatted, then held hands as we walked to the beach. Kanan and I did something similar, but he actually talked me into jumping in the cold ocean water and body surf with him. Once I got past being cold, I had an exhilarating time. I felt alive! Then Benny and I enjoyed our one-on-one time at Chucky E Cheeses and the Lego Land Water Park. He is going through a whiney phase lately which he still pulled on our special day, but with his bright brown eyes and chubby cheeks, He was easy to forgive. Won’t have time for Scotty to get a date in without causing an imbalance with the boys, but she alrady gets so much attention given she’s the baby. I really feel the boys are the ones who really need that special time. But even on days when we are all together, we have had such a great time going to Balboa park on free museum days, enjoying the refreshing water at the waterpark on hot days, or working in the yard.

Next, when I found out the cost of making an app last year, the marriage app project that my friend Nikki-Marie from were working on last year seemed to feel impossible. I put my focus on my sick husband and teaching and pretty much forgot about it. That is until my cousin came up with an app concept and started successfully crowd-funding to make it. It has since inspired me and Nikki-Marie to do the same and we are now writing the scrip13434815_10154926962694746_32091562682476397_nts and getting the logo made for the campaign. We both strongly believe that this app could potentially save marriages if people use it. What is more God-glorifying than that? We are praying God blesses our endeavors and helps us get the funds to make it. Hoping to have the video filmed at least before I return to work.

Then, we found a new church. And while our old church was wonderful and helped Owen and I grow so much, we are so excited to grow deeper and make more friends in the church community as well as follow God’s lead in where he plans to take us through this next church community. If someone had told me two years ago we were going to leave our old church, I would have kicked and screamed and cried. But over the last two years, God has really prepared my heart for this change. We like the church too so much. Our new pastor has an interactive way of teaching–having us pull out paper and draw concept pictures so we can connect to the teaching as it relates to13442337_10154926961649746_7051367176373135726_n our lives. He teaches verse by verse. We just finished going through the book of Nehemiah and just started the book of Jonah. Seeing how these prophets helped create change in large communities for God’s glory has been so inspiring. While the church itself is much smaller than our old church, the new pastor’s vision is to be very active in the world. Everyone there is really friendly too. The pastor and his wife even took us our family out to lunch and had our kids play while we got to know each other!  We are really excited about his vision for our community and how we might be involved to serve God’s purpose and heart for people.

Finally, Owen and I have been talking about moving to Temecula the last few months. It wouldn’t be for a couple more years, but Owen has been so excited about the move and passionate about the decision.While the idea of living closer to work and being more connected to that community as w13445686_10154927222944746_2781050758264998830_nell as the lower cost of housing was appealing to me, I knew if we did, I’d have to ask my oldest son to choose who he wanted to live with. And I knew he’d choose his Dad. The idea of losing my son has been weighing so heavily on my heart. I have wept so much over it in private moments. Having him every other weekend for material things seemed like such an awful decision, but  When I first brought up my issue with moving, he didn’t budge. I don’t remember how I worded it, but it was brief. So I have resorted to prayer the last two months.  I’m doing a Beth Moore study right now on Believing God and during the study I came to recognize that God loves my son Kanan as well. And he would not want any decision to be made that could hurt him. I felt lead to trust that he would take care of it. I didn’t know how, but he would. Then a week ago, Owen prayed out loud during family prayer for God to let him know if He wanted us to move to Temecula or not. I praised God then because I knew that believe godGod must be working on his heart for him to be questioning the decision and asking God. I thought, I would wait for God to tell him. But a few days ago, I was hanging out with my friend Brianne, who I feel God used to speak to me. I brought up the move to Temecula and she immediately pointed out the concern for Kanan. She suggested I speak to Owen again about it, but I decided to just wait and let God speak to him because I didn’t want to start a fight and didn’t think Owen would agree with me. Maybe God could speak to him through a friend or divine revelation. But last night, I felt God tell me “Why are you waiting for Me to speak to Him through someone else? Don’t you think I could use you to speak to Him?” So I got up the courage to risk a fight and I told him my concern. But I brought up the possible damage it could cause Kanan and our family. Immediately, he said that he never considered those possibilities and that we would not move to Temecula. Then today, he brought it up again, saying that it his job to keep our family together. Yes! No fight. God just worked. He took care of it. He worked on Owen’s heart and worked on me to get the courage to bring up a sensitive subject when I hate conflict.

So right now I am just basking in God’s love and mercies. We are not experiencing any trials right now and I feel so safe.I feel very much like we under God’s canopy of protection right now. It is a joyous place to be. I know that if you are not in a trial that you just left one or about to be in one. We had a huge one this last year. And while I know this middle place won’t last forever, I want to acknowledge it, and thank God for it. I also hope to encourage any of you who are reading this to trust in God. He is so good and mighty!


The Potty

Yes, it is that time. Now I am not expecting anything grand. I know Kanan is a boy and chances are he won’t be fully potty trained until he is three, but I thought I could start now. And so far, it has been quite interesting.

Kanan and I bought the potty at Walmart on Wednesday. Nothing spectacular, just a simple $9.95 potty from Safety First that can sit on the floor, fold into a stool, and also can have the seat removed and inserted into the adult seat on the big potty.

That night, I pulled out  the potty and showed it to Kanan. I told him what it was and asked him to sit on it. He was quite eager to do so. However, instead of approaching the seat from the front side and backing up and then bending down to sit on it like one would expect, my little guy approached the potty from the backside and straddled it like a ride-along toy. I laughed. Then I pulled his legs to the front of the potty and watched. He sat happily, smiling his amused smile and babbling as he always does when content. I talked about pee-pee and poo-poo and how we do it on the potty. He listened and then he got up and moved on to bigger and better things. It was a good start.

About an hour and a half later, right before it was time for Kanan’s bath, I tried again. I pulled it out and he happily sat on it (straddle style again) then I sat on the big potty and told him that we could both go. He sat amused, but was over it in like 2 minutes. So into the bathtub he went. And what happened? He played for 5 minutes and then got this funny expression on his face and then he grunted and looked relieved. I ran toward the tub (I was standing at the sink) and shouted “no, don’t go poo-poo!” It was too late. There floating in the white bubbles amongst orange shovels and blue toy cars was a long brown turd. I pulled Kanan out immediately, took the bowl out of his toddler potty and scooped up the turd and dumped into the toilet. I showed Kanan the turd in the toilet and flushed it. He looked quite perplexed and then reached for the flusher to try it out himself. Then he walked away dripping wet to go play. I wanted to dry him off. But the images of bacteria infesting my bathtub and toys haunted me. I couldn’t do anything but solve that problem first. I quickly poured bleach into the tub and turned on scalding hot water to soak his toys as well. I threw the potty bowl in there too. Then I attempted to find my wet son but didn’t take long because I heard him shouting in the bedroom “eh-eh!” and pointing at the ground. There on my freshly vacuumed carpet was a second turd.

Maybe this potty training thing will be harder than I thought. 😛

Can Children Cure Vanity and Build Our Character?

One thing I can say about having child is that he definitely humbles the selfish, self glorifying facets of me. Any body who has known me for years will tell you that I once was the “fashionista.” I shopped often and was always up to date with the latest trends and perhaps even starting trends of my own as I added my own creative twists and perspective on fashion. To me, fashion was self-expression and depending on my mood and motive for the day, I would dress accordingly. Hair? Styled. Clothes? Fashionable and put together. Makeup? Clean and up to date.

 Now, I am completely different. I just don’t have the time or the money to do it. My half of the contribution to care for, dress, feed, bathe, diaper, and entertain the little one is costing me about 500 dollars a month. That was 500 dollars a month that I used to spend on myself. Now how does time work into the equation?—when I come home from work, it is not about unwinding and indulging in “me time.” I come home, entertain Kanan, feed him dinner, squeeze in some time to shove food down my throat because I’m too starving to wait until Kanan goes to bed to eat, give Kanan a bath and do the bedtime ritual and then after he goes to bed, I work on my homework because I have to take a night class to earn the credits to move up the pay scale so that I can afford to live comfortably with Mike and our baby. Phew……that was a long sentence.

 But here is the interesting part. Somehow this process has been a paradoxical twist which as humbled my vanity and yet built my character. Because as much as I wish I had clothes and nice hair and nice makeup and could go out shopping or to the movies on a whim, the joy my son has brought into my life is so consuming and amazing, that I find my selfish desires expendable.  Kanan is so worth it. His innocence. His glee for life. His wonder at the simplest things we take for granted. His pride he shows when he finally masters a skill. His laugh. Everything. He has helped me to build a new facet to myself—the loving mother. And it feels good to know I am doing a good job.

 And with this change in my life, I find that somehow I am building another part of my character. I am generally a happy person. But I am also a worrier—have been all my life. And adding a mother role to my life only adds to my list of worries. I battle with this often, only to always learn that everything turns out fine in the end. But before Kanan, I could rely on my appearance to make up for my bad days with my bad mood or my stress or my lack of confidence in a certain situation (or maybe so I thought; wink wink). Because lets be honest here–in America, looks can help people get a way with a lot. If someone looks nice, some people will tolerate the person’s flawed personality. I am not saying I didn’t have a personality before Kanan, but on some days, I did often seem stand-offish and unapproachable—especially if I was preoccupied with conflict. Today, if I’m having a bad day or am in an uncomfortable situation and decide to show my negativity to people in the way I communicate or present myself, I’m now just a boring, grumpy woman with bad hair and an old shirt. I now have to think about smiling more and making eye contact more and showing others respect more often than I ever had. No matter how materialistic our society is, people do forget the pretty woman with an uptight personality. But no matter how bad we are dressed or how bad our hair may look, people will remember us if we make them feel good or if we were funny or confident or happy. Looks take us places, but personality goes further.

 Now I am not saying that I should pretend I am in a good mood when I am not, but at the same time, it is not fair or inspiring to other people if I openly show my frustration with my day. It doesn’t improve my day. And it certainly doesn’t enhance other people’s day. And believe it or not, when I force myself to smile even when I don’t want to, somehow, I do feel better and worry less. And I notice other people smile around me. I never influenced people like that when all I had going for me, when my list of worries reached uncomfortable lengths, was a pretty new dress. And maybe one day, when I have the money and the time to begin caring about the finer details of my appearance, my personality will have strengthened to help me make friends and influence people more than ever before. Kanan has been a blessing in more ways than one. Praise God for the gift of a postive attitude!