Monday, November 9, 2015

Why I don't care about Starbucks' cups...

This post could probably also be titled, "Why I'll Never Have a Large Blog Following."

I really only post when I'm fired up about something.

And, in this way-too-easily-offended culture we are living in, I'm sure I tick people off.

But, this morning, I don't care.

My dad sent me an email this morning asking how I feel about the whole red cup controversy.
Frankly, for a person who lives three hours from the nearest Starbucks, I'm probably a little too fired up about it. But, it is what it is. 


I don't care that their cups don't say "Merry Christmas."
I don't care that they aren't having Christian symbols anywhere this holiday season.

They aren't a Christian company! Why do we expect them to act like one?

I am a Christian. I was raised Christian. I decided on my own to remain a Christian into my adulthood. I lived overseas as a missionary. I considered myself a missionary to my college and in my work environments. So, you can read all this with that preface. 

I wish Christians would stop expecting non-Christians corporations to act in Christian ways.

So what if their cup doesn't say "Merry Christmas"? 
The jug of milk and loaf of bread that I just picked up at the grocery store don't say that either, but I still bought them. Personally, I don't get offended when the gas station clerk wishes me "Happy Holidays" instead of saying "Merry Christmas." And, seriously, if you can live by only shopping at Hobby Lobby and eating at Chick-fil-A, more power to you.

Perhaps we should stop boycotting places and demanding that others do things OUR way. 
Maybe instead, we SHOULD go into these places and spread some love and joy and peace instead of malice and frustration and anger that our own needs aren't being met exactly how we see fit. 

I honestly don't think Jesus would've cared AT ALL about what his coffee cup said, but I CAN GUARANTEE that he would've brightened up His barista's day. He would have left her feeling blessed and loved. 

(And, by the way, He totally forewarned us that stuff like this would happen. He told us we'd have troubles in this world. We live in a fallen world. Stuff like this should come as no surprise.)

Our response when we face troubles is to be gracious, full of patience, kindness, love. 

Now, to be clear, I do not consider this whole cup nonsense to be anything close to persecution, but I think we can still think about this verse in light of this situation:

"But even if you should suffer for righteousness' sake, you will be blessed. Have no fear of them, nor be troubled, but in your hearts regard Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect, having a good conscience, so that, when you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame." 
                1 Peter 3:14-16

How are we supposed to behave? 

Like people with hope, with gentleness and respect. Not full of malice and demands. Tell me, who is going to be attracted to our lifestyle if this is why we make headlines?

Instead, let's get all riled up about doing good this Christmas. Let's get all fired up about spreading love and joy. Maybe as a church, instead of boycotting a coffeeshop, we should come together and join forces to make sure that no homeless person has nowhere to go this Christmas. Let's make sure that there is not one kid in the foster care system who feels like an outsider on Christmas morning. Let's go buy a whole bunch of those offensive red cups full of cocoa and go visit your local old folks home to spend time with the elderly whose families live far away this Christmas. 

Let's take something that offends us and turn it into something good. 

Spread love.
Do good.
Be light.

For heaven's sake.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Weigh Your Words

So, I'm out in my garden trying to prune back the leaves that were decimated by the surprise frost we had the other night and I can't get this out of my head.

I've been wanting to write something feel-good for a while now.
       *Spoiler alert* This isn't it.

My heart hurts.

I don't even know how to actually say this...

Maybe this will work:

Weigh your words. 

Can we all try to be a little more careful and selective with what comes out of our mouths and especially how we say things?

I'm 31. And, I'm married. And, I'm a mom... a mom to little littles.
And it's hard.

I wish I was a more confident person. But, I second-guess myself and my decisions.

Am I feeding the kids right? Do they need to go up a size in clothes/shoes? Should we buy *fill-in-the-blank* or *fill in the other blank* on our tight budget this month? Did I discipline appropriately for that scenario? Should she still be taking an afternoon nap? Is it better to start a family devotion and never finish or should we just not start at all so we don't teach our kids that its ok if you don't follow through? Is the food coloring in that cupcake going to give my kid ADHD? Do they need a sweatshirt today? Do we vaccinate? Not vaccinate? Stagger/delay vaccinations? Should we sacrifice our dreams to make sure our kids are growing up closer to family? How much juice is too much juice? Should I homeschool again or send him to the public school? Is it selfish to take some "me time"? Did I treat that rash with the right stuff? And, it goes on and on and on...!

And, the craziest part isn't how many things I can question every single day.
The craziest thing isn't even that no matter what I choose, somebody is going to disagree. I've come to terms with this truth.
Hands down, the craziest thing is that when someone inevitably disagrees with our choices, they are going to feel that their opinion matters so much and is SO RIGHT that they need to tell me about it with ridiculously bold language that leaves no doubt that if I still choose the opposite of what they say,  I am obviously the WORST mother in the entire universe and I'm ruining my kids for life.

Dramatic? Yup.

Does that really happen? Yup.

I know this is cliche, but, you guys, I'M OVER IT.

I cannot believe how often I have conversations with girlfriends of mine who are in this very challenging stage of life with littles at home who tell me that someone has reprimanded them for a decision they made.

No decision I have ever made regarding my children (or anything else for that matter) has been 100%, unanimously, completely agreed with and approved by every single person on this planet. I'm going to disappoint someone.

It's fine if you disagree with my choices, but please, watch your language. I mean, I have had STRANGERS tell me that I'm "handing my kids over to the devil" and that I'm "obviously not a Christian" and a "total hypocrite" based on something I put on Facebook once.

They don't know me. They don't know that the decision they were tearing apart was prayed over, counsel was sought from people we trust, scripture was researched, and it was not made lightly. But, sure, go ahead and destroy everything about me even though we've never met. 

"Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus." -Philippians 4:6-7

Those harsh words - that is the devil's work. he is a master of slander. he wants me to second-guess everything. he wants me to believe I'm failing my husband, my kids, my God. he is the master of lies and manipulation and guilt and fear. he wants me to be so paralyzed that I never make decisions and step out in faith.

STOP HELPING him tear young mothers down.

We all second-guess ourselves enough. We don't need others to help us feel like failures! Stop confirming the lies we're being told that we are raising our kids wrong or failing at being moms!

Weigh your words. 

Is it really necessary to say it?

If you are that concerned, get in my life. Talk to me with kindness. Find out my motives FIRST before you judge. If you truly have a concern about something I'm doing with my kid, ask a question. Find out why I did it before you tell me how to fix something I don't think is broken.

"Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness that God requires." -James 1:19-20

I am willing to listen to people in my life. If someone who knows me has a concern, I am able to hear it. But, if you don't know the full story, how can you have such a strong opinion on it?

And, don't you know that God is bigger than that? He can and will redeem situations that I screw up. He will be victorious through my failings.

"And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ." -Philippians 1:6

Trust Him with me. Trust Him to make up for my lacking. Trust Him to fill in the gaps I leave in my kids. I do. I have to. I have to trust that if I am doing what I believe He wants me to and I still screw up, that He is going to answer my prayer that He'll redeem it and fix it anyway.

Then, if you still think I'm wrong, pray for me. Trust Him to correct me. He corrects me gently. He corrects with kindness and love. He corrects and teaches with my best interests at heart.

I'm just so heartbroken by how many of my friends feel just devastated by random people who claim to have "good intentions" but seem to have nothing but harsh words.

It's hard enough to be a young mom these days. Why be so critical and hurtful? Why be so judgmental? Why be so disapproving without offering some kindness, help, encouragement?

Choose kindness. 

I say that to my five year old at least once a day and now I'm saying to all of you grown-ups reading this.

Choose kindness.

In your words, your thoughts, your actions.

Weigh your words.
Choose kindness.

Err on the side of kindness.
Be too kind. Be too forgiving. Be too gracious.


"So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith." -Galatians 6:10

"Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you." -Ephesians 4:29-32

Monday, July 13, 2015

Weed Your Life

I've started gardening.

As a self-proclaimed "black thumb," I really have no business attempting a garden.

Yet, here I am, hoping against hope that I get SOMETHING out of the ground during harvest time.

We just moved to this home this past February.

I've heard it said that you should never plant in a new yard the first year you're there so that you can see what is already planted.

Do you want to know what's here?

Let me tell you what is here...


Lots of them.


But, I didn't know what was what so I took to Facebook for all the answers.
(I mean, who doesn't do that nowadays?!)
((Thanks to everyone who responded, by the way))

I quickly learned what to pull and what to keep.

One of my favorite responses was from our sweet friends and former mentors from Green Bay.

Lydia said this:

Mark always says anything you don't like or want where it is is simply a weed...pretty or not

I think that was really good advice. It made weeding a lot easier because I stopped being so concerned about what each thing was and started thinking about my garden and my yard as a whole. I started focusing on the end goal, my hope for my yard, what I wanted it to be like. This made every decision about every individual plant so much easier.

And then, one afternoon, with my hands in the dirt, I got to thinking...

Weeds tend to take up the nutrients and water that should be going to the plants that you intended to grow. If left unattended, they will take over and push out the good things in your garden.

So, we need to ask - What are the "weeds" in our lives?

These can be unhealthy habits, time-suckers, or even good things that are simply misplaced. Maybe you have too many things going on. Maybe you are pursuing something good, but it's just not the right time. Maybe you are letting yourself get distracted or lazy about something you need to be proactive about. It might be time to weed some of those out.

We have to get rid of the weeds so that the things we cherish have room to flourish.

I've been struggling with my identity for a while. Becoming a mom is hard. You go from carefully curating a collection of activities and experiences in your life to being completely at the mercy of each whim, desire, and need of a tiny human. I've spent too long thinking of all the things I can no longer do, the "me" I can no longer be. And while part of this is due to our relocation, much of it simply has to do with having three little kids that I am responsible for all day and night, every day and night.

As I was weeding in my garden, I began to think about my life. There are a lot of things I'd rather not do. Things that I wish were weeds that I could simply pull and throw in the fire. Sometimes there are days where I get overwhelmed with diapers and dishes and laundry and diffusing pointless fights and cleaning up unnecessary messes and wondering if my life currently means anything at all.

But, since those things are non-negotiable with tiny children, I need to be ok with picking a few things that I do want to be true of me and focusing on those. (There will come a time later on when they are older and I will be able to start doing some of the things I don't currently have time for.)

I need to rip out the real weeds, rip out the misplaced plants, and spend my time and energy on the few that I want to see succeed. I need to stop dreaming about what my garden will look like someday and start cultivating it to be the best it can be now.

And, just like weeding my garden with three small kids around, this will take time. It's going to take time to figure out what I want to make room for and what can be put aside until later. (I mean, it took me three days just to weed a tiny flowerbed in our yard. There's no way I'm figuring out my life while typing this blog post!)

It also requires maintenance. I walk through my garden every day to pull the little weeds that made their way above ground during the night. I know I will need to continually evaluate the things in my life to make sure they are taking the right amount of time and priority.

One weed for me has been technology. I love my time with my computer and my phone. I love social media, because out here in the middle of no where, it makes me feel somewhat connected. But, I also know that I can waste a LOT of time looking at screens instead of my kids. I have good intentions. Often I'm looking up ideas for things I can do with the kids or ways to make their playroom better or recipes to try for Evie. But, even so, I know I spend too much time with my computer and not enough with them.

So, that needs to get pulled (or at least pruned). And, in it's place, I've planted...

One fun thing - per kid - per day. 

I've been trying to do (at least) one fun thing, per kid, per day.
I'm not the kind of mom that is all tea parties and crafts and games and books from the moment they get up until bedtime.
I am an introvert by nature and with Evie's dietary needs, that would just be too exhausting.
So, this is my baby step.

Today was kicking a soccer ball around with Jake, painting with Evie, and practicing crawling with Izzie.

I know that to you moms who this comes naturally for, you're probably thinking how terrible I am for needing to be intentional about this, though I'm SURE I'm not alone.

Now, at the end of the day, no matter what else happens, I will be able to go to bed knowing that I spent quality time with each of my kids. It wasn't much. I know I can do better. But, it's something. They had my time, my attention, my eyes and ears, they had me for those moments. It has honestly made our home so much more peaceful during the day. When I do need a minute, they are more willing to give it to me.

Baby steps. Pruning. Pulling. Transplanting.

I'm going to be a work in progress, but hopefully my life and my days will start looking a little more like I want them to.


Thursday, July 2, 2015

Sunday Fun Day! Are you in?

Well, I've been thinking about being intentional with my husband and kids for 2015.

It's July.

I feel like this year is FLYING by.

This is probably due, at least in part, to the fact that we moved again, we spent over half a month back in CO to get the Little Miss on her new diet, and then we were pretty consumed with the planning of and everything else involved in my little sister's wedding!

It's been good
    and hard
          and good. :)

But, now it's already July and I'm left feeling like, "what just happened?!"

Our house still isn't fully settled and there's tons to do outside and our kids are at the ages that require constant attention and the cows make it so our fences require constant attention (#ranchliving) and Evie's diet is intense and requires a lot of prep time and on and on and on....

SO! I've decided something.

Since Sundays are the only days my husband has off and since I really hate wasting what time we do have this him, I've decided that Sundays are going to be our Fun Days!

Traditionally, Sundays are supposed to be the Sabbath, a day of rest.
It's supposed to be a day to rest, to reflect. God the Father took a day to rest and we, as His creation, are to do the same. It is supposed to refresh and nourish our body and soul.

So, to refresh my soul, I've decided to give my husband, my kids and myself Sundays this summer.

I'm going to do my best to be prepared to enjoy them on Sundays.

We will be going to church on Sundays and I'm sure I will still use Sunday nights to prepare for the upcoming week, but as far as the better part of the day goes, I want to relax and enjoy my family.

Will you join me in being intentional about using your Sunday as a day of rest and play with your family? Can you put aside the to-do list for one day?

Join me by posting about your Sunday Fun Day using the hashtag #ourfamilysundayfunday
I can't wait to see what you do!


Saturday, March 21, 2015

I am now a MAD mom

Many friends joined us in praying during Evie's last inpatient stay at Children's Hospital in Denver (Aurora) since it didn't go as we expected. So, here's a brief overview of what happened.

We've been trying to figure out Evie's seizures for two years now.

A while back, we had a spinal tap done that showed that Evie is "probable" for a certain metabolic disorder where her brain can't process sugar as fuel. Her seizures may be the result of her brain not getting fed. The idea of this diet was then put on the table as a way to properly fuel her body and brain with fat instead of sugar.

Kids who haven't been able to have their seizures successfully controlled with medicines usually see better results with changing to a Ketogenic Diet.

I guess I think of it this way... the rest of us can function properly on unleaded. Our sweet girl requires premium. ;)

So, we decided to give it a shot.

The view from our room

She fasted the night before we got there and drank a special shake during the first day.

We took lots of wagon rides and trips to the library and toy rooms.

We even had some special visitors!

The general idea is to starve the body to get it into a state of ketosis. This happens when the body starts using fat for fuel instead of the sugars we eat.

From WedMd:
Ketosis is a normal metabolic process, something your body does to keep working. When it doesn't have enough carbohydrates from food for your cells to burn for energy, it burns fat instead. As part of this process, it makes ketones.
We can monitor that she is still in ketosis by checking to see how many ketones she *expels* during the day. (I'll let your mind figure out how we'd test for that) ;)

The diet works on a ratio high in fat, moderate/low in protein and carbs. On the second day, I was taught how to use a special computer program to figure out the ratios. I then measured her foods to the exact grams or ounces on a scale. Her calories needed to be strictly limited, too, to maintain the state of ketosis. 

Her breakfast on the Ketogenic diet.

Unfortunately, she did not handle this diet well at all. 

The main staple of this diet is heavy cream. It's carb free and high in fat. But, we quickly found that her body aggressively rejects raw cream. (I can cook with it, but if it is mixed into anything cold - like using it to make creamsicles - her body expels it as quickly as possible.)

Our poor girl spent the next four days being so sick and out of it. 

I'll spare you all the details, but it was horrible. She wasn't herself. She refused to eat, drink, walk, etc. She was a sad, sometimes angry, limp noodle. She wouldn't even talk. She just cried, grunted, screamed. 

It was horrible. 

Dear Doc McStuffins, THANK YOU!

(why is it that kids look so much smaller when they are in those big hospital beds?)

So, the team decided to switch her to a Modified Atkins diet to see if that would help. 

The first smile I'd seen in 4 days... talking to her daddy. 

She would continue to have very limited carbs, but she'd be able to eat as much fat and protein as she wants and there would not be such an emphasis on the cream.

THIS GIRL. What a sweetie. She was so content and awesome so that I could focus on her sister.

Just about the time she started to rally, John was able to come up to be with us. By that point, I was was EXHAUSTED. I'm so grateful he came. 

Seeing him in real life (vs. talking the phone or video chatting) gave her the boost she needed to get well enough to be discharged from the hospital. 

We've been home for about a week and a half and she's doing really well! She was seizure free for a week and her seizures have been minimal the last few days. 

There is a lot of trial and error with this diet. We are learning and making adjustments as we go.

But, let me say this: ANY reduction in the frequency of her seizures is a WIN in our book. Her eyes are so bright and her sentence structure is already improving. She seems so much clearer. The fact that we saw a drastic reduction in seizures but then saw a few is not as discouraging as it sounds. She was having probably 100s per day and now we see 5 or less. So, yes, the diet may be high maintenance, but she is not on an extra medicine and there was not surgery or anything like that involved. We are SO grateful!

***Special thank you to my sweet cousin Bri, for spending time in the hospital with me and my girls, to Mindi and her family for taking the time to come down to say hi even though they have so much going on, Christine for always being a light in a dark time, Ric and Deb for your help, the Rieger's for letting John come down and taking care of our Jake, and to the greatest CA in the world, De'Ja.***

De'Ja and me when we finally got to leave.
It was a really hard 9 days and the diet is definitely requiring me to spend a lot of time researching, preparing, etc, but I'm so grateful for the relief it has provided Evie so far. 

Thanks to Children's Hospital in Denver and, more specifically, Dr. Park, Chelsey and Jenn! 
If you happen to run into a nurse, CA, CNA, etc, today, give them a hug. They are the unsung heroes of hospitals.


Friday, February 27, 2015

The Big Move to Big Sky Country

Some of you know that we ended up having to be out of our old place a week earlier than we had hoped, so we ended up getting some intense quality time with a sweet family in town! They took us (and ALL of our stuff) in during the transition time. 

Many thanks to Kelly and Katie Elkins for all the love and generosity you showed us. 

I can't explain how cared for we felt that week. There were lots of good conversations, good coffee, laughter, AND they really cared for me as we lost our sweet dog, Cooper Duke, while my hubby was out of town.
Thank you, sweet friends.

So many amazing friends showed up to help us load the UHaul in Lake City. We are so grateful. I got the opportunity to say sweet, intentional goodbyes to several of the women who made our time in Lake City so wonderful. I will miss each of them, as well as the ones I didn't get the chance to say goodbye to. Our time in Lake City was full of trials and tribulations and sweetest and friendships and good times and challenges and everything wonderful. 

The girls and I took off before the moving van was fully loaded because we had to pick up my dad from DIA. John and Jake were following behind in the moving truck with our horse trailer. 

Once we picked up my dad, we headed to the home of a former camper of ours whose parents graciously put us all up for the night. We felt so welcomed and blessed by them. They made us a wonderful dinner, provided such comfy accommodations, made and ate an amazing breakfast with us the next morning, AND gave us two horses. For real. I mean, geez. It was almost hard to leave. My dad, the girls, and I actually left later than we wanted to just because it was hard to leave. :) Special thanks to the Calhouns. We love you guys. 

That day was the longest day for us. We left the Denver/Colorado Springs area that morning, passed through Wyoming (where we stopped in the sweestest little town of Wheatland for lunch at Yacco's) and made it to eastern Montana later that evening. The girls and our puppy did great on the road. My dad and I were also able to have some really great conversations. I guess spending a day in a car together provides that opportunity. I'm grateful. It's not the kind of thing that happens when there are other distractors like tv, other family members, etc. This will be a sweet spot in my memory of times spent with my dad. We stopped in Miles City for gas and groceries before getting back on the road for the final stretch. 

We were relieved to find the beds made up and towels out for us in the bathrooms so we could just crash that night and deal with unloading in the morning. John and I have been mentally preparing for this move for a while so it all seemed normal to us, but it was fun to watch my dad discover what our lives were going to look like. 

One of the best moments was when one of John's new bosses showed up with his wife. They brought us a crockpot of soup... and three kittens. When my dad commented on how unusual that was, their response surprised him a bit: they are pest control. Ha! And, let me say, they are the cutest little pest control ever. ;)

Eventually we got everything into the house and it has been a slow process of getting it all settled. 
You know that saying, "You don't know what you've got til it's gone"? Well, I knew my dad was doing a lot but I didn't actually know how much until he left. I feel like I got so much done while he was here and haven't been able to do A THING since he left. Dad, COME BACK!

Thank you so much for all the help you gave us. The kids are still asking for you to come back. Just the other night when John asked Ev who she wanted to pray for, her only response was, "Papa Scott!"

So, anyway, be coming back here to see updates on the life of a cattle rancher's wife. I'm sure I'll be no Pioneer Woman anytime soon, but I will be posting pictures of cute cows. :)


Saturday, February 14, 2015

Cooper Duke 2007-2015

I'm not going to go into details because it's still pretty raw, but our pal, Cooper Duke, didn't end up making the trip to MT with us. He had some health complications during our trip to WI for the holidays that proved too much for him to heal from. Cooper was born about 6 months before our wedding. He was my roommate before we were married while John was still living on campus. Then, after our wedding, he kept me feeling safe and sound while John worked nights. He spoiled us. He was the best first dog two people could ever ask for. He was sweet and loyal and so so gentle with our babies. All he ever wanted was to be included. I never knew how difficult it is lose a pet. Saying goodbye to him was so much harder than I could've imagined. I loved that dog. What a pal.

RIP, old pal.

Friday, January 9, 2015

Baby Girl Bed Head - Installment 9

This wasn't exactly bed head, but this happened before I got to do her hair for the day.

Cold, dry winter air = Static.
Lots of it.

I hope you're having a good hair day.  ;)