Thursday, December 20, 2012

12 in 2012

Another New Year is just around the corner, but, before we go there, I want to take a few minutes to reflect on the year 2012.  I want to really think about all I've learned, things we've done, as a family, ways we've struggled and where we've grown.  I want to acknowledge that this year will forever be etched in our stories and to give it due honors.  Not everything this year has been pleasant.  In fact, as I type this now, there's a twinge of regret in my stomach over a parenting decision I made today.  There have definitely been some mistakes, but there have been some awesome times, too.  Any good, quality reflection includes both, ya know.

So here goes...12 from 2012.

12.  Life as a Sooner.  I'll admit, it was sort like I was being dragged into life in Oklahoma kicking and screaming.  Once we arrived, I hated it. I was lonely and depressed, not fitting in, and not meeting anyone. I was feeling useless and out of sorts.  It sucked.  Some how, and somewhere along the road this year, I snapped out of it.  I decided I needed to return to work (more on that in a minute) and I needed to use my skills and talents. I needed to engage!  I've reached out and made some great new friends.  Justin and I have even attended at few OU football games and had a blast.  We've purchased some Sooner gear and are embracing life in our new community...finally.

11.  Football was the story of our life this fall.  Shawn decided to give it another shot for his 6th grade year and really enjoyed it.  He got to know a few boys, which I think helped a lot. We all got out of the house and stepped away from all thing electronics for several hours each week.  Shawn's skill in the game really improved and he had fun...which was totally different than the two years he'd played when he was younger. He's already talking about playing 7th grade football!  I can't wait...I truly do love being a football mom!  I bring a certain, shall we say "energy", to the sidelines and have a lot of fun cheering the boys on. 

10.  The year of the dental work...that's how we'll be recording this year. Derek and Sarah nailed us in the first six weeks with massive dental work bills and then Derek's orthodontia kicked in.  Whew! I sure hope these kiddos appreciate their smiles when its all said and done.  I totally blame Justin!! My teeth have never had a cavity (knocking on wood now) but all four of our kids have had awful teeth.  After searching for a great dentist in the OKC area, we finally settled on Smile Galaxy and love it! They're so great with the kids and make the whole thing way less scary for them, which is amazing.  The most impressive thing was when the dentist asked to pray with me before Derek's surgery!  I've never had a service provider do that and it meant so much!  Hopefully, we'll get to see a little less of him in 2013, but either way, I'm glad we found Smile Galaxy.

9.  I have to admit I'm still learning the true meaning of Proverbs 22:6 this year. "Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it."  As a social worker, especially a social worker in child welfare who trains other people in parenting and things for a living, I'm supposed to be a bit of an expert on the topic, right? Wow! There are most definitely some days when that couldn't be further from the truth and I do everything I know I'm not supposed to do or I respond to one of my children in a manner that is definitely not the way that particular child needs me to respond.  I forget my head and my training and my flesh takes over.  In 2012, I think God has been using a blow-horn to get my attention that each of my kids will need me to be a different kind of mom.  But, wait, I'm only one person, right? How can I possibly be 4 different moms to 4 different kids all at the same time.  The answer is I can't.  Only God can give me those skills to be the magic shape-shifting mom for my kids.  So, while I've struggled against that in 2012, next year will be the year I let go of my stubbornness and realize I am not the expert in my home nor am I the one who knows best for my children.  I'll do my very best to surrender that power and control over to God each day...and I'll start today! This very minute.  I'm going to try and let it go and let God.

8. Family vacation.  It was sure nice to get away from our everyday life for a week this summer and to just chillax and spend time together.  We went to Table Rock Lake and Branson, MO.  Justin's parents spent the week there, too, and that was great. A whole week with family was awesome.  We were able to do several things within Branson but we were most content to just hang out at the resort and jump off the swim dock, go fishing, splash in a pool, or take a nap.  It was peaceful and awesome to see the kids in nature and to make s'mores.  I cannot wait for our next trip!

7.  Seventy times seven, or maybe it's Infinity times seven...that's how many times I've needed forgiveness this year.  At times, I feel like I'll simply explode with emotions and all kinds of emotions...and there have been times when I have exploded.  We all do it, I know that, but it stinks when you realize that your family is the one who takes the heat.  They do it because they love you, and I'm so happy they love me enough to deal with me when I lose my flippin head.  I've asked for forgiveness more times than I'd care to admit this year and have done and said things I swore I would never do.  Tonight, as I write this blog, even, I'm praying and asking for forgiveness again.  I know God will forgive me. I know my kids will forgive me. What I need to learn is how to forgive myself and then to give myself grace to really learn and grow and change in those areas of need.  I need to recognize that I cannot be, and I'm not expected to be perfect. I can't do it all and when I try, its those around me who suffer.  I need to accept that these things are a part of me and I need to remember what I know I need to do.  Praise God, I don't have to do it alone.  Amen and Hallelujah! 

6. Chloe's drama.  Oh, that girl...she has such an energy about her that its remarkable.  In school, this year, she's testing boundaries and doing some pretty crazy things in school, but she's the first one to draw you a picture, give you a hug, tell you how much she loves you and to offer to help you.  Chloe's volume level can sometimes leave something to be desired, but its a sign of her love of life.  She has an undeniable love of animals...all sorts...and she's not afraid to get dirty.  This semester, she joined the drama club at school and played a Soldier and a Doctor in MacBeth. She did an amazing job! It was fun to see her apply all that energy on the stage. Next semester, they're doing A Midsummer Night's Dream and I cant wait to see how she does with that.

5.  I think Justin's found his sweet-spot as a manager. He likes it and enjoys his co-workers. His boss sounds like a fair guy and one who is willing to teach and train, which is great.  Justin's still eager to learn and is enjoying the position with the company.  I won't deny I still hate his hours but, at least, he enjoys it.   We're crossing our fingers he'll get to go to 1st shift by September.  Its been an uphill struggle to learn how to do it all during the week and I miss my partner, but I know its only temporary and try to stay focused on that.  God has blessed him with great colleagues,a good boss, and a flexible schedule, among other things, and that's all good.  Growth? Learning to be content in the temporary to make long-term,permanent change and progress.

4.  Four is the number of jobs I decided I could work this year...yeah right! A study in time managment, goal-making, and priority setting is on the books for next year.  Time whip out Stephen Covey's book again, I think.

I've been an Adjunct Faculty at the University of Oklahoma in the Zarrow School of Social Work since August 2011 and LOVE IT!  I cannot tell you how exciting it is to be a part of inspiring young adults to think about social work and to consider the tremendous benefit that comes from being a social worker.  Its truly an awesome honor and a huge responsibility.  I'm blessed to continue to teach again this coming Spring semester. 

In February, I decided to open a home-based business when I decided to finally get serious about my health and to lose weight.  I signed on as a distributor and user of the some of the most incredible health & wellness products out there. The quality of the products is unmatched anywhere on the market and I'm truly feeling better, physically, than I have in a long, long time. Not only have I lost 35 lbs, I've gained some awesome new friends.  I still have a ways to go to reach my goal but I know...I have absolutely no doubt...I'll get there.  The process can be slow going for me and Satan for sure uses my tendencies for carbs/sugars/soda against me.  I'm learning to fully rely on God for my satisfaction and I'm learning to fuel my body how God intended.  The products are an amazing support tool for me.

In May, I started contracting with the Oklahoma CASA Association as a training coordinator and facilitator. Its been tons o' fun to get to work with CASA again. I have such a deep admiration for the work of CASA volunteers and their program staff.  They give selflessly of their time, energy, and talents to advocate for hurting children. I'm honored to be a part of their effort in Oklahoma.  We're currently in the process of planning the 2013 Annual Conference and are really looking forward to the fabulous workshops and presentations we have planned.  The Conference will be in April 2013 and all are invited!

In September, I started contracting with Eagle Ridge Institute as a Resource Family Recruiter & Trainer.  In November, the position grew into a newly developed full-time position as the Director of Resource Family Care.  We have big plans for the Therapeutic Foster Care program at ERI and I couldn't be more excited by the challenge.  I'm now overseeing the recruitment, training, certification, and ongoing support of all ERI's therapeutic foster families in our 3 locations.  Its a growing position and team and we're thrilled.  Stay tuned.

3.  Yeah, so number four introduces the need to prioritize, set goals, and learn to manage my time...but I musn't forget the lesson God gave me this year.  In the early fall, I felt this constant prodding and pushing to remember my calling and to work within the talents and skills God entrusted to me. I knew it was God speaking to me and, after several weeks, I finally listened.  I refocused my energy on my calling and the blessings have been awesome every since.   It was a real reminder of God's ultimate plan and to not take your eyes off God for a minute!  Its too distracting and you'll quickly get lost.  I found my way back onto the path and things are to stay on the right path...that's the tricky part.

2.  The couple.  The thing that started our family.  Justin and I have spent more time together in the past six months, on dates and things, than we have in a long, long time and it feels so good.  I really enjoy my husband and the time that we have together. We don't typically do much "date" stuff, but the point is that we're doing it together and spending time away from the kids.  We've recognized we dont always have to be Mom and Dad...we can just be "us" and its good for us (and the kids).  We have fun and he makes me laugh. Even grocery shopping, which could be pretty mundane, becomes less annoying when he's being annoying :) .  He's a giant goofball, which is one thing I love about him and I'm glad I've gotten to see that again.  My prayer is that we'll continue this into 2013 and beyond.

1.  Don't stop here.  This is the final lesson I've learned in 2012.  Simply, don't stop.  Don't stop seeking, learning, growing, changing, and improving.  Stay focused and determined but have fun. Remember that life is short and we never know much time we have.  We'll never know when its our last chance to give a hug, to say I love you, to take on a new challenge, to explore new possibilities, or to encourage another.  So, in 2013, I will keep pushing forward and I'll only look back to remember the blessings and the lessons or the blessings in the lessons, however you want to look at it. 

2013....Here I come! Are you ready? We've got a lot to look forward to and a lot of blessings headed our way!

Monday, June 18, 2012

Prayer - Why is it so hard?

If you know me, you know that I'm a very social person. I can typically talk, laugh, and have a great time with just about anyone.  I'm definitely a people person.  I'm able to sit and have both light-hearted and deep, meaningful conversations with people from all walks of life. As a social worker, this is a skill that has definitely come in very handy. 

So, why is prayer so hard for me?  Why is having a simple conversation with God so intimidating for me? Why do I feel like I have to do it the "right way" and why do I feel like I have to teach my kids to "pray the right way"? you know just how frustrating that is?

Over the past two weeks, I've been following along with my hometown church's 21 days of prayer journey and reading daily messages about prayer at Each and every message is speaking directly to my heart and I'm really feeling God's presence in each one and, yet, its still hard for me to get into that sacred place where prayer is a natural thing.  I never quite know what to say or how to say I say in my head or do I say it outloud?  Do I need to be in a certain posture? How long do I need to pray?  AAAACCCCCKKKK!!!!  Its definitely overwhelming.

Its not that I don't have a lot to talk about with God.  I have a long list of prayers - prayers of thanksgiving and gratefulness for all the many blessings in my life, prayers for others in my life and situations they're going through and requests for blessings over them or protection or strength, prayers over difficult situations or decisions in my own life or the life of my family, etc.  Yeah, I have prayers...but how do I send them to the Big Man upstairs? 

Do you struggle with this?  If you have and have found your groove...what helped you get to the point where prayer came easy and natural for you?  What scares you about prayer or just completely freaks you out?  Let's get it out there and talk about it - the nitty gritty of prayer.   

Friday, March 23, 2012

Getting Healthy This Year!!

Here are two stories of other people using the same products I am to get healthy and I found them so awesome that I had to share them with everyone!!!  If there was a mountaintop near me, I'd climb (or crawl) to the top and shout it out, they are so inspiring!!!  Since Feb 12, I have lost 16 lbs, which means I only have 65 to go until I reach my goal, which is really exciting.  These products are easily incorporated into any other healthy eating plan, like Weight Watchers, Nutri-system, Jenny Craig, etc. or just watching your calories, fat content, or carbs.  They promote overall health and wellness, so they're also great for those who don't necessarily have weightloss as a goal but just want to enhance their body's natural functions.

Please help me spread the word about this awesome program and sharing this post with anyone you know who might be interested.  I would love to help as many people as possible get healthy this year!!! The journey is easier when you do it with friends!  More pictures and success stories are available on my facebook page!/pages/AmaXYNG-Oklahoma/199588176808595 
#1)  Dan & Melissa C (In this pic, Melissa is a size 11 but now, she’s a 7)
Finding a health and wellness solution for my husband and me with these products was an unexpected blessing to say the least. Nine years ago at the age of 41, Dan suffered a severe stroke that nearly took his life after years of uncontrolled high blood pressure, extreme stress from his corporate management job, and being 100 plus pounds overweight. The doctors told us if we didn’t control his blood pressure and lose the weight his chances of having a second stroke he wouldn’t survive were extremely high. We’ve tried everything from fad diets to prescriptions, to exercise, but nothing gave us lasting results as the weight always came back. The guilt I felt for not being able to help my husband contributed to my own weight gain, as I turned to food for comfort. Waking up every day wondering if it would be our last together consumed me with fear. After years of this, our doctor suggested our only option would be gastric bypass surgery for Dan, but we were unable to find a doctor willing to perform the risky procedure on someone with a history of a stroke. We were completely devastated and felt we had nowhere to turn.

In July of 2011, I was invited to an event called a Cheat N Eat by my sister-in-law. She had been using these products for several months, and thought they would be beneficial to us as well. I learned about the products, sampled a few of them and couldn’t wait to get home to tell Dan we may have found our answer! We ordered the IGNITE pack, and in our first 8 days I lost 11 pounds and Dan lost 14 pounds. We took one day off and, after another 8 days, repeated our results and felt great!

Since July 2011, we’ve continued using all of the products and are having great success. In September, Dan’s blood pressure medicine was reduced by half and he was asked by our doctor to return in 3 weeks to be sure it stabilized. He didn’t actively try to lose more pounds during this time, but continued using some of the products. We were so excited 3 weeks later to find his blood pressure had stabilized, and that he had lost another 5 pounds! Our doctor was just amazed, especially when the results from Dan’s Chem 7 blood tests came back all in the “normal” range!

As of January 1, 2012, I have lost over 60 pounds and I’m now wearing a size 7!!! Dan has lost over 80 pounds. We both agree we’ve never felt better, and we know that with the help of these products, we have finally taken control of our health, and look forward everyday to the great life we have ahead of us. 

 #2) Jane – down 74 lbs and 97 inches in 9 months
From debilitating Fibromyalgia, arthritic bones spurs & picturing herself in one of those power chairs she now has her life back!!! After scrutinizing the products and the Company for a month and ½ Jane decided she had nothing to lose but w...eight and pain. Today, she is off all narcotic pain & blood pressure medications (at the advice of her physician) & she's lost 74 lbs. and 97" all in 9 months.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Back Talkin'

What is it about back talk that can cause one to throw every good parenting skill she knows right out the window? Why is such a very typical childish act so dang frustrating for a parent?  Holy cow!!

My oldest is turning into quite the pro at talking back.  He's 11 and I swear to you that he's convinced he's in control of everything...everything except his mouth and his attitude.  I'm not saying he does it all the time but, man, when it happens, he really goes all the way with it. 

So, how are we supposed to handle this kind of thing? Getting mad and "talking with intense emotion" definitely doesn't help.  Ignoring it only sends the message its okay.  Grounding him from all things electronic or with a screen has lost its meaning and value. He doesn't really play with toys anymore and since we've moved, he doesn't even have a lot of friends that we can ground him from.  I've talked to him about God's directives for him, as a child.  I know he gets it and I know he understands it...I just wonder if its really settling in his heart. Its times like this when he's no fun to be around and I get mad at myself because I let the disrespect of the arguing and talking back get to me.

Oh, and did I mention the other 3 kids are right there, watching all of this unfold?  I dread the day I get it from all four angles. 

He'll be 12 in six months...and then, a full-fledged teenager. Puberty and hormones are going to set in and I'm betting middle school will not help this situation get any better. 

Parenting is tough and there are times when we just don't know what to do.  Kids will be kids, I know, and I know they learn how to behave from us, so we have to really model what we want from them.  There are times, though, when even parents turn into children and behave childishly.  What do we do then?  How do we overcome these obstacles? 

Its a question almost as big as "What's the meaning of life?"

Do you know the answer?

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

My Princess

Tomorrow is my oldest daughter's 8th birthday.  Chloe Michelle is a dramatic, energetic, dynamic, animal loving little girl with a big heart.  Her arrival into our family was one of joy and excitement for me. After having two boys, I was very excited to have a little "princess" in my midst. Little did I know that a "princess" she would not be.  This girl is no girly-girl. She refuses to wear a dress or a skirt and would rather wear pants and cowgirl boots.  She never really wants me to do her hair, denies that her ears are even pierced and I'm sure she'll probably avoid make-up like its the plague.  Chloe is definitely her own person but already struggles with self-esteem and confidence, which I pray will not be a life-long struggle for her.  Chloe fights to go to gymnastics every week but has a ball once she's there. She loves to draw and recently enjoyed putting together her first scrapbook.  Chloe can be very assertive, which will come in handy as she gets older, I'm sure...if only we can help her reign it in when needed. 

As she turns 8 years old, my prayer is that God will continue to show her just how amazing she is and that she will continue to love Jesus and animals as much as she does today.  I pray that she will have a zest for life always and that she will have a strong faith in the plans God has for her life.  I pray that she grows into a confident and strong young woman who can be excited about every new day.  I pray that she will recognize she is and always a be a princess...because her Father is King of Kings!  (pictures by my awesomely talented friend, Jessica Lindsey)

I am so proud of her and I love that she is just the way she is...girly or not...she's still my princess.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

12 Dreams for 2012

1) Grow closer to God.
2) Grow closer to my Sweetie and remember why I love him each and every day...even during intense fellowships.
3) Grow closer to each of my amazing kiddos and tell them every day just how special and amazing God made each of them.
4) Grow old friendships deeper, despite any distance.
5) Grow new friendships.
6) Grow a beautiful flower/bush garden this spring to make the front of our home more welcoming.
7) Grow my blog.
8) Grow my book.
9) Grow as a social worker through connections, training, and enhanced passion for the field of child welfare.
10) Grow myself as a public speaker
11) "Grow" a little smaller through finally doing what needs to be done.
12) Grow in the kitchen by trying to be a more creative and healthy cook.

What are your 12 dreams for 2012?  I'd love to encourage you along the way!