Saturday, September 28, 2013

Dirty Little Secrets

Why do we feel the need to keep certain parts of ourselves hidden? Why do we think that we won't be accepted if other people knew our true selves?

The truth every single person I have ever talked to is hiding something. Not a single person on this earth has it all together? We all struggle with certain things. 

Imagine with me for just a minute... What would this world look like if we would all just let our flaws hang out for the world to see? Think about it, if you and I would just be honest about what we are struggling with, how many people do we know that may have already been where we are? How many of our friends and family could help us deal with our problems? How many people could we help go through something we have already been through - if only we could be honest!! If only we could put our fears of rejection and shame aside!! What kind of world would it be?

When we keep our problems a secret from others, it's so easy to lose our perspective. They can seem so much bigger than they really are. And they can weigh us down and keep us from enjoying life.

Through this blog, I am committing to share my problems, concerns, and struggles. I am hoping you are willing to do the same. Life is much easier when we do it together! So let's commit to being there for each other and stop worrying about what others will think of us! Instead, let's focus on how we can help others who may be struggling with the same thing!!

Even if you only tell one person one little secret you've been keeping, it's a good place to start! Don't you think?

Friday, September 27, 2013

Lessening the "Frazzle" in my Life

I'm just like any other busy mom/wife who rushes home each day and struggles to find the time to cook, clean, do dishes, laundry, and still have quality time with my family! So in an effort to make life a little easier and free up some time through the week, I've decided to try my first attempt at "freezer cooking".

I've often thought about trying it, but we don't have an extra deep freeze at our house and since we don't have a garage or basement, I really don't have anywhere to put one. So I've always just decided it wasn't for me. But since life has blown up lately and gotten even busier than normal, I decided it's time to give it a try!  Due to my lack of space, I am only going to make enough meals for one week.

So early this morning, armed with my pen and notebook, I scoured Pinterest and came up with a few meals that I want to make this week.  It's actually a combination of some meals we already know we like and some new ones! (It's never good to try a whole week of new meals... I want to know I have at least one my family will like!)

It was harder than I expected to narrow down the list of what to make. Keeping my limited budget in mind, I wanted to find something that I could make without having to buy hundreds of dollars in ingredients.

Here is what I came up with for this week:

Black Bean Taco Soup

Baked Ziti

Spinach Lasagna Rolls (I'm going to adapt it and serve it with my favorite seasoned chicken breasts!)

Frozen Pizzas (But I'm going to use whole wheat flour instead).

Chicken and Rice (My own "at-home" hibachi....) **This is our family's favorite meal! We LOVE our local Hibachi restaurant, Aki. But since it's not friendly on the wallet or the waistline, I played around for a while and figured out the perfect alternative to make at home! I'll share the recipe later!!  I've never tried freezing it, but I think it will work just fine.

Breakfast Sandwiches (On English Muffins) - Because I leave the house by 4:30am and Jerry drags Miah out the door to take her to her Grandma's by 6:45am... so we ALWAYS have to do breakfast on the run!!

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So Sunday afternoon, I will sit down and start my afternoon of baking! Here's to hoping Miah is in a mood to help!! :)

But today, after work, we are off to the local Amish-run discount grocery store to try and score some deals on some of the items on our list.  Then a quick trip to Food Lion to pick up the rest of the items on the list!!

I'll post on Monday with results of how it turned out!!! But for now, please share your experiences with freezer cooking!  What are some of your favorite recipes??

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Digging out of your Mess

I saw something a few weeks ago (Yes, on Pinterest....) that has really helped bring me through some tough times in my life right now:

Think about it....

This applies to every single person's life at some point. We ALL have something that we have made a mess of in our lives. And sometimes it isn't even something we could control. Sometimes, the mess just finds us!

That's hard for me to grasp sometimes... I look around at the areas of my life that are a complete and utter mess and I feel like I need to find a reason. Something or someone to blame for it. Normally, I end up blaming myself.  

Most of my "Mess" right now is financial and it's so easy for me to beat myself up over what I should have done (or not done). But the truth is, while there were things I could have done better, I was truly listening and following God's will in many of my decisions.  Sometimes its hard to just accept that he wants me to be in this place at this time. I long for times when I don't have issues paying my bills and I can afford to do things that I so desperately want to do. For example, more than anything, I want to be able to afford to take my daughter on a Disney Cruise. And I can choose to focus on that and be upset that I'm not able to do that right now. Or I can choose to recognize that my Heavenly Father knows the desires of my heart and if it's possible for me to be in his will and still be able to do those things, he will allow them to happen... in His timing!!

All that I can do is wait and trust in my God!

It is not always easy, but I am realizing that regardless of how horrible my current "mess" is, it has strengthened my marriage tremendously (You can read more about that here), but even more importantly it has strengthened our faith in the Lord!  Both Jerry and I are able to see God move in ways we had only read about in stories.  

When we were first opening the gym a few months ago, I found this image below and I prayed that God would make it true in my life! And He has done exactly that!

If we didn't have times of trouble, would we even rely on God for anything? Or would we be comfortable where we are in life and be content just knowing He exists!?  God desires for us to know him intimately - He is after all....

our Creator 
our Savior
our Father
our Comforter
our Everything!!

It's time we put our trust in the one who knows us so intimately that he even knows the number of hairs on our head.  He is Infinitely Good!!

So next time you start to feel worn down, frustrated, or just tired of waiting for this mess to pass..... remember that God has you in this place and time for a reason and He has a plan to turn your mess into an amazing message if you just left him!!!

Sunday, September 22, 2013

A True Domestic Goddess

This morning I sat down and started to write a blog post about being a domestic goddess.... emphasizing how we all strive to be the perfect wife, mother, housekeeper, etc.  But I stopped home for just a brief second in between working the gym and going to show houses and as I walked in my door, I wanted to cry! It smelled like dog, there was visible dust on my dining room floor, the dirty dishes were overflowing my sink and beginning to take over the countertop, there were toys everywhere, and the blankets and pillows from last night's family movie night were still scattered across the living room. I had a sudden rush of emotions flash before me.  I felt like a hypocrite and a failure.  I grabbed what I needed off the cluttered kitchen counter, pushed the dog back with my leg so he wouldn't run out the door and rushed off to my next appointment!  A few hours later, I pulled in the driveway and took a deep breath... I was dreading walking back into my mess of a house! (When things are falling apart at home, it's so easy to find reasons to stay away and escape it.)  But I finally gathered myself together and walked toward the door. As I opened the door, I suddenly had tears fill my eyes!! There was my husband vacuuming the stairs.... the table and counter were both perfectly clean and free of clutter, the dishes had been done, the laundry had been put away, the toys were cleaned up, the dining room floor was free of dust and dog hair, and the aroma of my favorite candles filled the air!

I am not telling you this to make you wish your husband had done the same thing for you today.... in fact that is the opposite of what I am trying to do.

Let me take you back to this time last year (even 6 months ago....). My husband and I have nothing in common, really. We spent the last few years of our marriage wondering why we were even putting up with each other. We fought every day! We never did anything together.... just lived our separate lives and maybe tolerated each other a few minutes a day when we were in public.. to keep up appearances! I really think the only reason I wasn't ready to give up on things was because I would have been embarrassed of how it would make me look. I feel horrible even saying that because I look at my husband now and can't imagine that I ever felt that way!  He is the most incredible gift from God and I am so ashamed that I ever lost sight of that.

I wouldn't have said this at the time, but looking back I realize how selfish I was being. And I know he feels the same. We were each focused more on what we were getting from our marriage than what we were giving to our marriage.  It was so easy to see a post on facebook where someone mentioned something nice their spouse did for them, and wish my spouse did that for me! That would harbor feelings of envy and anger toward toward him and was killing my marriage!

Opening the gym forced us to take a step of faith. We each began to work on our relationship with God and very soon we realized how different our relationship with each other had become.  When we put our focus on the Lord, we began to see each other in a different way! I remembered all the reasons I fell in love with my husband! And as a result, we realized that weeks had gone by and we hadn't fought about a single thing! I now look forward to and treasure the time that I have with my husband!  The transformation that happened in just a few months is truly a miracle!

So when I say that I came home today to a clean house, it is no way to brag about him or make anyone envious. It is to make you realize that when God is the center of your marriage, you are able to be more attentive to each other than you ever thought possible. By staying in constant communication with our Lord and spending time together each day doing devotions, we realize just how blessed we truly are!

My prayer is that each and every person reading this is able to take something away to improve their marriage. I realized that I can strive all day to be a domestic goddess... but a true domestic goddess isn't about having the perfect clean house, home-cooked dinner, perfect children, or having completed all the perfect Pinterest crafts. It's about being a wife who prays for and with her husband and trusts in her Savior to provide all of her family's needs!

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Why "Christianity" pisses me off!!!

I saw something on Pinterest this afternoon that really made me stop and think. Yes, I admit I am a Pinterest addict. But I do legitimately put many of my "pins" to good use, so I feel that justifies my addiction... Sort of!)

Anyway..... This is one of the things I saw today that got me thinking so deeply that I decided to write a whole blog post about it:

Can I tell you just how much I LOVE this!?!  Those who know me well know that modern day Christianity makes me so angry! I can't speak for God and I certainly don't want to put words in his mouth. But when I read through the bible and study all of the things Jesus was teaching his followers, I can only help but wonder if he would be furious with us for the image of Him that we have portrayed!

For example, how did Jesus respond In John 8, when the Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught in adultery and threw her down at his feet? They questioned Jesus as to whether he agreed with them that she should be stoned to death, as the law required. And what did Jesus say to them? “Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her.” All the accusers eventually walked away in shame. And when Jesus was the only one left, he said to her, “Where are your accusers, does no one condemn you?” She replied (terrified and humiliated, I'm sure), “No one, Lord.” Jesus answered her with the most amazing words imaginable, “Neither do I condemn you; go, and from now on, sin no more.”

Isn't that story simply incredible!? It gives me goosebumps!! Isn't it just like so many Christians today to catch this woman in the midst of her mistake and then try to make an example of her? Put her sins on display, all the while trying to make themselves look better! It's sickening, but true! Jesus has no desire to participate in their stupid little game, instead he uses the opportunity to turn the tables against the accusers. How's it feel when your sins are put on display? No one deserves that , and furthermore it does absolutely no good for anyone! 

But my favorite part of the story is Jesus' response to the woman... "Neither do I condemn you; go and from now on, sin no more!" He has no interest in telling her what she has done wrong. She already knows that. Instead he is there to offer forgiveness and comfort! He is there to embrace her! But notice, he doesn't just stand around and tolerate her continuing to sin. He clearly tells her to change her ways! He just knows how to deal with his children in a loving manner that the modern day church has seemed to forget completely!

I'm not going to get into them right now, but I could point out dozens of similar examples throughout scripture (The parable of the Prodigal Son, His many times of forgiving David's mishaps, etc.). So where did we get so mixed up in our view of "Christianity"?  And how do we fix it?

God doesn't expect perfection, in fact he knows its impossible for us to achieve! He just wants us to strive to be like Him! And no matter how many times we mess up, he'll embrace us and welcome us home again! That's not to say there are never consequences for our actions, but that's another post for another time!

So where do we begin to change this? We change our perspective and we strive to let everyone around us see the love of Christ through us! The best way for us to do this is to study who Christ really was and how he interacted with people. He didn't always see eye to eye with the leaders of the church. In fact, they called him "a glutton, a drunkard, and a friend of sinners!" He spent his days among the people the "Christians" were too disgusted to bother with! There isn't a single person on this earth that Christ didn't give his life for. Think about it, Christ not only spent his time among sinners, he DIED to make sure they could be saved! He sacrificed everything imaginable for each and every one of us and there is nothing we could ever do to change that! 

Think about your own life, do you spend your days trying to show everyone you meet how much they are truly valued by Christ? Or do you spend your life being Thankful that Christ died for you, and thankful that you don't have a "messed up life" like this person or that person... Which one of the above scenarios would Christ want us to live like?

The only way we will ever see a change to the "hypocritical Christian" view we have been given, is to change ourselves and do everything we can to let others see what being a Christ follower is truly meant to be!

I hate using the word "Christian" to describe my relationship with Christ because it is used so loosely! So instead, I strive to be a "Christ Follower"! 

Would you rather live your life as a "Christian" or a "Christ Follower"?? I've made my choice, it's time to make yours!!! 

Friday, September 20, 2013

Success, Contentment, and Joy.... Is it really Possible to have them all???

We all have those areas we struggle with. For me, it's being content! I like to blame it on the fact that I just have so many things I want to do in life, but that's just a good attempt at avoiding the truth!  And the truth is, that not being content with my life is basically like slapping God in the face! "Thanks for giving me this life, but I wish you had done things differently!"

As a parent, I get very angry when my daughter isn't happy with the overwhelmingly large amount of toys she has and whines for something different. And we would all agree that I am justified in not giving her everything she wants. Its my job to build her character and teach her about life. So giving her absolutely everything she wanted wouldn't be in her best interest (or in the best interest of my wallet)! Don't you think it's the same with God??  He gave us life and he only wants the BEST for us, and more often than not, the "best" doesn't have anything to do with ] all the stuff we want!  He is more concerned with developing our character and shaping us into people who can make a difference in this world, than he is with giving us the car, house, or job that we think would make us happy.

So often we aren't content because we associate success with the size of our wallet, make of our car, size of our house, marital status, how well our children behave, etc. But God has a different view of success and (News Flash!) it has nothing to do with ANY of those things! He created us with passions, dreams, and talents so that we can use them for Him! Our ONLY measure of success in His eyes is how obedient and faithful we are!

I have A LOT of dreams in this life... Dreams of having a house with a two-car garage (so I don't have to shovel snow off it every winter)... I have dreams of renovating a vintage airstream camper and traveling with my family... I have dreams of opening a business with my best friend where we can refinish furniture and accessories together, etc.... and there is nothing wrong with having those dreams and aspiring to obtain them! But it is wrong for me to want them to happen so badly that I ignore what God is doing in my life right now! No matter where you are right now, there is something to be thankful for! Even if you world seems like its falling apart and you long for days when you aren't in pain, financial distress, etc., there is a reason you are there and there is something good that can be taken from that situation! It may not be something ever completely understand, but know that he would never allow us to just suffer for no reason! Think about it, would you just allow your child to suffer if it wasn't necessary? Neither would your Heavenly Father do that to you!!!

So own where you are right now! And make a promise to yourself to find at least One thing each day to be Thankful for! Before you know it, you will be much more content with where you are right now! And despite your circumstances, you will be joyful!!!

We brought nothing into this world, and we will take nothing with us when we leave – Pleasing God & Bringing honor and glory to Him should always be our priority.
1 Timothy 6:6 -7, KJV 

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Learning to Trust

I haven't blogged in a ridiculously long time, but I really feel like God is urging me to write a post today. Even as I am starting to type this, I am not completely sure exactly what I am supposed to say through this.

As most of you know, we just recently opened our new business, Alpha Fitness, and as I look back over the events of the last few months, God's hand in it is UNDENIABLE!  It began years ago, really. A few months before we got married (in early 2006) Jerry was looking for some part-time work and found out his gym was hiring. So he picked up a few hours a week working the front desk there.  Even as he graduated college and got his first teaching job, he continued to work there every Saturday.  As a wife, I am so blessed by his work ethic and his willingness to work long hours and do whatever it takes for us. He has always done that. And anytime we had a few more days than dollars left, he would pick up a few more hours in the evenings to make sure we had food.  Despite some incredibly difficult times over the past few years, God has always provided for our needs.

I have not always seen it that way. There have been points in our lives where I was furious with God because my life wasn't where I had always envisioned it.  When we bought our townhouse in 2005, I was convinced it was my 3-5 year plan and once we had children we would be in our new house with a 2 car garage and fenced in yard..... In 2007, before we ever had our first child, we found that house that I thought would make me happy.  We put an offer on it, and listed our townhouse for sale - convinced it would sell in no time.  Well that didn't happen! And the house that I wanted so badly sold to someone else.  Finally, we pulled our house off the market and shortly after the value of houses in our area decline dramatically. So now we were stuck in this house and I was pissed!  In 2009, Miah was born and when I went to go back to work as she was 6 weeks old, I was told that my position was no longer needed. I remember being terrified of how we were going to survive, yet happy for the time I would get to spend with my little girl!  I had also started selling real estate around that same time. I can honestly say that I haven't had a single day since she was born that I have felt the "financial security" we used to have. But once I got past being angry with God, I realized that he has been using this time to show me his power in my life and develop my character.  He has ALWAYS provided what I need. And in 4 1/2 years of ups and downs, we have never gone without. Even when I have made some incredibly stupid decisions, He hasn't given up on me. He continues to provide and show me that I should be placing my trust in Him.  But despite all of that, I continued to be completely blind to His wonder all around me.

Back to the story of Jerry and his job at the gym..... things were starting to go downhill with the gym and it was becoming clear to everyone. We all just kept waiting for the day the gym would close it's doors. But it didn't happen that way. We always joked around that we would love to own it. But considering our current financial state, there was absolutely no way we would be able to open a business - or so we thought!

God opened some incredible doors for this to be possible.  We started realizing it could possibly happen in the early part of this year and to be perfectly honest, I prayed everyday that God would please take this idea out of our heads! I did not want us to get excited about the possibility, to find out there was no way we could ever come up with the funds needed to open it.  But with each prayer I prayed, He made it more clear that this was going to happen and we were to follow His plan and trust Him.
So we opened this business, without a penny to our names - Literally!  In the end of April 2013, we were already in the process of talking with some banks, and getting close to being able to purchase the equipment from his previous employer, and reopen the gym! But we literally ran out of money!! I hadn't had a real estate settlement in almost 3 months and we beyond strapped. But I was scheduled to have a real estate settlement on May 3, 2013 that would be close to a $5000 paycheck. So I knew we would be okay for another few months... But about 72 hours before settlement, I found out that there was an issue with the property and my clients were not able to buy it. So not only did I have to call and break this news to my clients leaving them basically homeless, but I was panicking about how it was going to affect my own life.  So needless to say, I was not able to make my mortgage payment for May and again began to get angry at God. I remember having many sessions where I cried and yelled at Him. "Why would you give us this dream of opening a gym when I can't even pay my own bills!? I will never be able to get a bank loan now! This dream is ruined! Why would you plant this dream in our hearts to have it end like this??"  Finally, I got over my toddler-like tantrum and decided I was going to hand everything over to Him for good. I was done with this half-hearted attempt at trusting him. If he was really going to take care of us, now was His time to show us! I was at my wits-end and decided I would test if He was really going to take care of me!

That's when life got really crazy! Within 30 days the gym was open and we were able to do it without any bank loans. It was truly miraculous!  And real estate clients started coming at me from every angle. Between July 1st and September 1st, I had closed more real estate transactions than I had in the entire year previous! We were able to catch up and pay all of our personal bills, as well as fund the first few months that the gym was open with those settlements! It was truly miraculous! But we still were still at a spot where we were having to put money into the business each month to cover overhead costs, so when summer ended Jerry had to go back to his teaching job. It breaks my heart to see him leave for work every morning when I know his dream is to be at the gym. But God is continuing to teach us more about His faithfulness each day! Our faith has been tested in more ways than I ever imagined possible over these past few months.  And every time I pray for Him to help me get through the day, He provides exactly what I need!!  He is teaching me that it is not MY business, it's His! And we are to allow Him to work through us to do great things for Him!

The gym has now been open for a little over 100 days, and during that time we have each worked 70-80+ hours weeks each and every week. It has been exhausting to say the least. But God has always provided exactly what we need, exactly when we need it. And I know He will not give up on us now.
If I look at the future, I see the massive amount of bills I owe in the next few weeks and it can be beyond overwhelming. But I am learning that all the planning in the world does me no good.  I can't control what will happen tomorrow. Only God has the ability. So instead of trying to figure out a business plan, I am trying my best to give it over the One who brought this business to life! Without Him, there would be no way Alpha Fitness could have opened!

Just this morning, I read something that was written by Austin Pryor. And his words just jumped off my screen and spoke such truth to me.
"God can absolutely be counted on to provide all the means necessary in order for us to obey His commands or carry out His plans. In other words, He knows exactly what resources we need to stay in His will, and He always makes them available."
(Taken from

I have no idea how to make it through tomorrow, but God does and I am putting my trust in Him!!!

"A person may plan his own journey, but the Lord directs his steps."   -Proverbs 16:9