There’s No Turning Back…

Sometimes there is something so exciting that you just can’t keep it to yourself. And sometimes there is something so exciting that it scares you. Sometimes that something that is so big AND scares you, has to be released into the atmosphere so that there’s no turning back. THIS EXCITING THING is one of those! It’s big, it’s scary, and it has to be released so that WE will be held accountable.

 

So, what is it?! And who is WE?

Well, you may have heard me mention my buddy, Marissa a time or two over at Honey Flavored Lemonade and she’s a big part of this because she is who makes up the WE. So what are WE doing?!

Spill it already, Erika!!!

Okay, I’ll tell you but first a little background…(Really?! Yes, really. Patience my friends.)

I initially heard of Marissa from a mutual friend who thought she would be a great person to talk to because she was very knowledgeable about dairy allergies. My youngest daughter had just had a severe allergic reaction to cheddar cheese puffs and she looked like she could’ve been Will Smith’s daughter in the movie Hitch when he had an allergic reaction.

I finally met Marissa and we exchanged numbers and I know I told her every Thursday (I would see her at our Women’s Bible Study every week) that I would call her tomorrow. Tomorrow turned into about a month and finally Marissa said, “You’ve been saying that for about a month now. I’ll believe it when it happens.” Ouch! Did you feel that? Yep, that stinging sensation when someone calls you out and they’re right. Ugh!

I can’t remember if I sent a text or sent a Facebook message but the following Wednesday I was ringing Marissa’s doorbell. She thought I was coming to talk dairy allergies. Wrong! I had checked out Marissa’s blog and was thinking of becoming a blogger myself. Not only that, I was feeling as though I was being called into the ministry but wasn’t sure what to do.

That afternoon, I poured my heart out to Marissa about friendships, blogging, and ministry and quite honestly, if it wasn’t for help, I probably wouldn’t have started blogging (or KEPT blogging or RETURNED to blogging).

For the past year, Marissa and I have shared so many of our passions. We’ve shared our dreams and found that they are quite similar. Our dreams have been both big and small, achievable in a day and achievable in the long run, and some have seemed impossible. But God… I love those two words together. It usually means God is about to show how awesome He is!

There are times when Marissa and I have thought that our aspirations were pointless and silly. Furthermore, there are times when we thought our aspirations were “self-serving” but God always had a way of using us to speak words of encouragement to each other. God also let us know that it’s okay to have aspirations, or dreams, and that it’s not “self-serving” to want to speak and share what God has laid on our hearts through public speaking or blogging. We learned that it’s perfectly okay to dream in God’s will.

Proverbs 27:17 states, “As iron sharpens iron, so a friend sharpens a friend.” Marissa has been that friend to me and I have been that friend to her.

What Marissa and I have realized is that there are many women out there who have things they want to achieve to, big or small, all aspirations matter. However, not all of those women have people in the circle who encourage them to go after whatever it is that they want. And that got us to thinking………. and thinking……….. and thinking some more.

So, here is what we came up with:

  1. It’s okay to aspire towards something. Dreaming about doing more or being more isn’t selfish or outside of God’s will. My friend Ashley shared this quote by Erma Bombeck regarding her business, JubeeleeArt, it states, “When I stand before God at the end of my life, I would hope that I would have a single bit of talent left, and could say, I used everything you gave me.”
  2. You have to be relentless. Not everything comes easy and it may not be handed to you. That doesn’t mean it’s not for you. I can’t begin to tell you how many times we wanted to give up blogging, speaking, even ADULTING!  But you have to keep going.
  3. Truth. God’s word is the truth. Matthew 6:33 states, “But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.”

 

Those three things are the core of our BIG THING!

In February 2017 join us for our first conference, the Aspire Relentless Truth (A.R.T.) Conference! This conference is open to all women who have aspirations big or small and want to join a circle of women who can share how they have achieved their dreams, are working toward their dreams, and women who may be at the beginning of realizing what their dreams are. We hope that you will join us! More details to come…..

God Doesn’t Leave Residue But You Do

You know what really bothers me? Memes like this one below.

 

I’ll tell you why.

Our God, our Father, Jesus Christ is not in the habit of leaving residue behind. However, you and I, we are in the business of leaving behind residue if everything were left up to us.

Let me explain.

“As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good.” This statement comes from the story of Joseph, Genesis 50:20, and if you read the ENTIRE verse, what it truly states is the following:

20 As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good in order to bring about [a]this present result, to preserve many people alive.

Do you know the story of Joseph? If you don’t please read it. You can find his story in Genesis 37-50 I’ve heard the story of Joseph so many times but I’ve been reminded of how awesome his story is as I’m completing the book, Seamless: Understanding the Bible as One Complete Story by Angie Smith.

For the purpose of this topic, here is a quick summary of Joseph’s story (but please, pick up your Bible and read the entire story).

Joseph was his father’s favorite and his brothers knew it. Joseph was also a little boastful and told his brothers that, according to the dreams God was giving him, they would one day bow to him as their King. Out of jealousy, his brothers sold him as a slave and told their father, Jacob, that he was killed by wild animals. Joseph started off as a slave in Egypt but through a series of events, Joseph eventually became second in command, only the Pharaoh was above him. Many years pass and thanks to God’s revelations to Joseph, Joseph was able to save Egypt from a severe famine that neighboring countries were suffering from, including the land of his brothers. (Again, I urge you to read the entire story for yourself.) Eventually, his brothers must travel to Egypt in order to buy food, or else their entire family, Joseph’s relatives, will die. Guess who these fellas have to see in order to purchase food to survive? Yep, you guessed it! Joseph. The brothers do not recognize him but Joseph knows who they are upon first sight but doesn’t reveal himself site yet. Eventually, Joseph does reveal himself to his brothers and they are one big happy family. No, I’m not being sarcastic here. They truly are one big happy family and his brothers, well really all of Joseph’s relatives, move to Egypt and live like royalty. I’m serious.

You see, Joseph recognized something that others would fail to recognize. Everything that happened  to Joseph…wait a sec. Folks, have I mentioned you should read the story of Joseph for yourself? I have? Oh good, because I left out a lot. Like how the pharaoh’s wife accused Joseph of raping her, yep that happened. So as I was saying, Joseph realized that everything that happened to him, especially the “bad” stuff was all part of God’s divine plan. Had Joseph not been sold into slavery and rose to the position he did, his brothers, the same ones that sold him into slavery, the same ones that lied to their father and said he was dead, those same brothers would have perished had it not been for Joseph, well really, had it not been for God. Joseph recognized that it was not about him, it was about his family and God keeping an old promise that He had hundreds of years before to a man named Abraham.

Let’s be honest here…If your siblings sold you into slavery, would you react like Joseph? The moment your siblings arrived needing food, would you cry tears of happiness or would you taunt them? Would you rub your “stature in life” in their face or freely share what you had? Would you remind them of what they did to you and hold it over their heads? I’ll go ahead and tell you, I would probably leave behind some residue and make sure that my siblings felt guilty about what they had done. Sure, I might give them the food they needed, of course I wouldn’t want them to starve to death. I’d probably even bring up the dream again and be like, “Hey, remember when I told you that you would bow down to me? Ha, look at ya!” Friends, I would leave residue.

You see, when God “handles” things, unlike us, He doesn’t leave behind residue.

Images like the one shown above and the one below is not what God is in the business of doing. Yes, He blesses us but not because we are necessarily deserving. And when He blesses us, He doesn’t necessarily do it to “get back at” someone else on your behalf. God blesses us because He loves us and cares for us. Also, I’m sorry to be the one to break it to you, but He even blesses those who have not necessarily always been kind to us. That person who just gets on your nerves so bad and the person who harmed you, yep, those people, God loves them too.

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So what can be learned from all of this?

  1. Get into The Word! So many scriptures get taken out of context for selfish reasons. One of the things we’re taught at my church is if given a scripture, read the scripture before and after it.
  2.  If someone has wronged you, pray for them and pray for yourself. Pray that God will bless them as He has blessed you and that both of you will draw nearer to Him. Pray that God will give you the insight that Joseph had to see how even good things can come out of bad situations.
  3. I love a good meme but be careful of the ones you post, especially when it pertains to God and what He’s doing. We serve a mighty big God, don’t put Him in the tiny box of just blessing little ol’ you and punishing others because that’s just YOUR residue.

Now, if you haven’t done so already, go read the story of Joseph. Love ya!

One more thing, I have to give credit where credit is due. I overheard my dad telling someone that if we leave things up to us, we’ll leave residue. He didn’t use the story of Joseph or any story from the Bible but he did say God doesn’t leave residue behind. For some reason, that just stuck with me. Just wanted to throw that in there.

 

 

The Signs Were There…

The Signs Were There

It’s been way too long, friends, way too long! I disconnected, there’s a reason, and haven’t been back since. But my gosh how much I missed my blog!

Around the last time you heard from me was October, as I was participating in a writing challenge to post something everyday for the month of October. Well, clearly I didn’t finish the challenge but that’s okay. Better luck next time, Charlie!So where have I been? Well, I’m not really good at hiding the truth so here goes…

WARNING*** THE FOLLOWING CAN BE CLASSIFIED AS TMI. ***WARNING

Well, on October 1st I started what I believed to be my menstrual cycle. I had just stopped nursing my youngest little Bee in September so I wasn’t surprised. To me, the bleeding was normal and nothing out of the ordinary as far as flow. What did strike me as different was the fact that I actually had a day seven, when normally my cycle is three to five days. However, I hadn’t had a cycle in over a year and figured my body was just reprogramming itself. Day eight rolled around and it seemed as though it was over. I went on about my day as normal without wearing any type of product to protect my clothing. BIG MISTAKE!

I husband and I had enrolled in a class at church and as I was dropping the girls off in childcare I felt a large gush. I quickly walked to the nearest restroom and I was totally confused. My jeans were stained in the but I had on a shirt long enough to cover. I cleaned myself up so and fixed my clothes so that I could walk out of church with my head held high and go home. The bleeding continued for four more days before I gave my dad, a physician’s assistant who practices family medicine a call on that Friday. (Now for some, this may be strange that I called my dad, that’s fine. However, he does “exams” on women on a daily basis and he’s my dad. I know he’ll look out for my best interest and give great medical advice.)

“Dad, I need you to think of me as a patient and not as your daughter,” I start off. “My cycle has been on for 9 days and I think it’s because I just stopped nursing Braelynn. It’s never lasted this long and the flow isn’t light, it’s heavy and there’s clotting. Do you think I should call my doctor?”

“Yes, definitely give her a call and see if she can get you in soon. Most likely, Erika, she’s going to “restart” your cycle by starting you on some form of birth control. Or are you already on birth control,” he asks.

“No, I’m not,” I respond.

“Erika, what?! Girl, you are going to get pregnant again and very fast,” he states.

To which I reply, “Dad, I’ve been nursing and I didn’t need it.”

“Erika, you are going to be pregnant,” he says again. (sign #1)

And of course my know-it-all self said (with a lot of sass I might add), “No, I’m not. I literally just stopped nursing and it’s worked up until now so I think I’m good.”

We hung up the phone and I called a couple of OBGYN’s in the area and all of them were booked until January for new patients. (I refused to see my last OBGYN for various reasons, another blog post for that.) So I called my primary doctor on Monday, who was able to see the following day, day 13 of the bleeding.

That Tuesday I went in and did the normal preliminary weigh-in, blood pressure check, temperature and etc. My blood pressure was somewhere around 114/74 and I remember the nurse asking me if that was normal for me. Without giving it a second thought, I replied, “Only when I’m pregnant.” (sign #2….Are you smelling what I’m cooking here?)

The nurse left and came back a couple of minutes later and asked if I could give a urine sample to which I did. (sign #3)

Let me pause here, while I’m signaling the signs for you, let me just tell you I did not recognize the signs for the life of me!

My doctor came in and asked questions about what I was experiencing and then she asked me, “Are you sexually active?” People, is it just me or do you get uncomfortable when a doctor ask you even when you’re married?!

“Well, your urine test came back positive for pregnancy and your numbers are pretty high so I’ll put you right around four to five weeks,” she states.

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It’s a good thing I didn’t lie and tell her no regarding being sexually active but I did say, “That’s not possible.” I’m a smart gal, ain’t I?!

She sent me to have blood work done to be sure and she called the following day, Wednesday, to confirm the blood test also showed I was pregnant and my numbers were high. She then worked on getting me a referral to an OBGYN.

The following day, Wednesday and day 14 of bleeding, I was in bible study when I received a phone call from my doctor stating she had found a doctor for me (a great one, too) and to expect a call from them. A couple of minutes later, my phone rang again and it was my new OBGYN’s nurse calling to get some preliminary information. I know the women in bible study class probably thought I was acting strange. Although my phone was on silent, I think the nurse may have called me two to three times and I kept having to get up and walk out of the room. An appointment was set for sometime in November, I can’t remember the date but I remember thinking, “What am I supposed to do between now and then?”

I remember waking up in the middle of the night freezing cold and literally being mad at my husband for turning the air conditioner on so high, that is until I pulled back the covers and realized I covered in wet clothes from sweating so much during my sleep. I got to use the bathroom and change clothes, there were clots everywhere and I started to panic. Keep in mind, I’ve been bleeding for 14 days now, I’m pregnant, I don’t see my OBGYN for at least another four weeks. I can’t even be excited about this pregnancy because I don’t know if I have a reason to. Am I miscarrying? I have no clue what is going on.

That afternoon, I started feeling faint and my husband took me to the emergency room. After running a few tests and a vaginal ultrasound, the emergency room doctor told me my hCG levels which were higher than they were a couple of days earlier, a good sign. He also told me that the bleeding was caused by a left subchorionic hemorrhage. He also went on to say that I was maybe having what some would call “a threatened miscarriage” but he couldn’t say for sure. Well, that made me feel a lot better . I was told to give my doctor a call the following day and inform her of what was going on, which I did the following day.

On October 19th, day 19 of bleeding, I was back in the emergency room again. This time I semi-fainted and ended up in a wheelchair. I’ve never been good at getting my blood drawn and I normally do feel sick but never before have I actually dropped before. The same tests were run as before, including an ultrasound but this time a pelvic exam was also conducted. This emergency room doctor was a lot more informative and was very encouraging. Again, my hCG numbers had increased and the baby was still there. He confirmed the subchorionic hemorrhage and he also made a call to my doctor’s office to see if he could get me in sooner. He did say what the other doctor said as far as it being a threatened miscarriage but he also said it was common.

I remember after leaving the emergency room that time, I just prayed about it. Although I started reading information about subchorionic hemorrhages and found that it was very common and most women went on to have healthy babies, I still was worried.

The bleeding lasted for 28 days, I know this because it started October 1st and ended October 28th.

Unlike my previous two pregnancies, I have held onto this pregnancy news for well into my second trimester, to the point I already know the sex of the baby. Although tests and ultrasounds show we have a healthy baby, the beginning of this pregnancy made me want to be extremely cautious. I only told my immediate family and my closest friends. I didn’t want to have to suffer the pain of telling others and then having to report bad news later. The women in bible study group did know and they gathered around me and prayed over me. I know those prayers worked.

Regarding my blog, from mid-October to the first part of November I was just a nervous wreck and worried. Then it had been so long since I wrote anything, I started to question whether I should even continue.

So, how is everything today? Is everything okay?

Everything is great! Our family is excited to announce we will be having a beautiful baby girl join our crew the first week in June! That’s right, another girl! LOL!

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I pray all has been well with all of you and I’m excited to get back to blogging, as well as some other great and exciting things that are coming up soon.

Now, about the blog name The Three Bees and Me…any suggestions?

 

For more information on a subchorionic hemorrhage or hematoma, click here http://www.justmommies.com/articles/subchorionic-hematoma.shtml 

Day 16: On Assignment

I think almost every writer, singer, speaker, actor, and you name it has experienced this. This what? This great idea that you’re going immediately blow up overnight because you have either written the best book ever written, sang a song better than it’s ever been sung before, or given the greatest on-screen performance since Scarlet Ohara’s, “I’ll never go hungry again”, and so on. But then…crickets. I’ve been there,  I’ve experienced these great expectations, and I’ve been disappointed.

So what do you do?

Keep writing, keep singing, keep speaking, keep acting, and keep doing what you have been led to do. Here are three things that have helped me to keep going on with my assignment.

PRAY                                                                                                 

I can’t tell you what you should say to God but I will share with you my prayer. God, thank you so much for blessing me with he ability to express myself through writing. Thank you for the opportunity to share who You are with others. God, I pray that the message that You would have each individual receive be of encouragement to them. I pray Lord that I would hear your voice and that you would impart your wisdom on me.  I pray, Lord, that at least one person gains something from these words. Lord,help me forget about my ego and remember it’s about you. I thank you for all these things in advance. Amen.

BIRDS OF A FEATHER, FLOCK TOGETHER  

It’s a good idea to have people who are in the same boat in your inner circle. These are going to the people who “get it” and you need them. Here’s the truth, as much as your family and friends love you, they’re not necessarily always going to be the most supportive. Having friends who have either “been there, done that” or at the same exact stage in the game is important. Ahh, I almost forgot this, make sure you are helping those coming after you, too. For me, my flock includes a fellow blogger, a stationary designer, my book editor, and one friend who isn’t into any of this stuff but she comments on every post (look for her, you’ll find her easily, LOL). Mom, don’t fret, you’re included!

REMEMBER YOUR ASSIGNMENT, DAILY  

For me personally, I feel God has given me heart that wants to help women and their spiritual growth. I try to make sure every post ends with words of encouragement. I don’t want to talk about problems for the sake of talking about them, I want to help offer solutions on how to deal with them, too. To me, that’s the assignment that God has laid on my heart. Now, if God sees fit that this blog should gain more followers, that’s great. I’d be lying if I told you I didn’t think about it but I have to remind myself on a daily basis that what I write is bigger than little ol’ me. I have to remind myself of my assignment and remember my “why”.

Day 15: Three Blogs and Three Apps You Should Check Out

Today I wanted to share with you some of my favorite blogs and mobile apps. Check them out below and you can even click on the title of each to take you directly to the website or to download. I’d love to hear from you what your favorite apps and blogs are, so don’t be afraid to comment. I hope you enjoy these as much as I do!

Little Lights of Mine by Ayesha Curry

FullSizeRenderAs Ayesha tells it, she’s a Canadian born, Charlotte, NC raised wife and mommy currently living in San Francisco. Her family is her heartbeat and she’s been blessed to be able to work from home, raise two little girls and be a loving wife to her husband Stephen. She loves the Lord, food, and her family. Ayesha started this blog to witness, exchange recipes, stories and document the daily happenings in her life. I love this blog because Ayesha’s realness and joy are palatable through the computer screen.

Honey Flavored Lemonade

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This blog belongs to one of my very good friends, Marissa. I first heard about Marissa through a mutual friend who told me I should contact her when I learned my youngest daughter had a dairy allergy. When I finally met Marissa at my church’s weekly Bible study, I got her number and every week for two months, I told her I would call her. Finally, one day as we were leaving the study, I told her I would call. She said, “I’ll believe that when it happens, you’ve been saying that every week.” I got in my car in the church parking lot and sent her text, pretty much inviting myself over her house the following day. She’s been my buddy ever since! Her blog is covers everything from faith and inspiration, to book reviews, home maintenance, photography, and recipes geared for those who have allergies to dairy, nuts, and you name it. My favorite part of her blog are her Front Porch Truths, where her honesty about life will make you want to laugh, cry, and say, “Yes, me too!”

A Kelective Muse

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A Kelective Muse is your one stop place for everything that has to do with fashion, all while on a budget.  The purpose of Kelly’s blog is to inspire you to become bold, fearless and confident within your own personal style. As Kelly states, ” Shop smarter. Love harder. Budget better. Be inspired.” She even offers personal style services for people in the NYC area but fret not my friends, email consultations are available too, so distance isn’t a factor. One thing I must add, before I met Kelly, I knew of her through her modeling pictures, the girl is gorgeous. However, as beautiful as she is on the outside, she is ten times more beautiful on the inside, an absolute heart of gold.

She Reads Truth

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She Reads Truth is an online community of women who study God’s word together daily through the app, web site, or just by using the #SheReadsTruth hashtag on social media. Not only are there daily devotionals but there are also lock screens, reading plans, bookmarking and journaling capabilities, additional free and paid devotional reading plans, and so much more.

First 5

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I love this app! The vision for First 5 was developed by Proverbs 31 Ministries in order to connect a woman’s heart to God’s Word the First 5 minutes of her day. First 5 will wake you up with a short teaching first thing in the morning, so you can exchange whispers with God before shouts with the world. It’s way too easy to fall into the trap of being “too busy” to spend time with God and honestly, we owe Him a lot more than five minutes. However, five minutes is better than no time at all. So before you hop out of the bed in the morning, spend time with God, there’s no better way to start your day.

Echo Prayer App

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 Echo was created to help organize and keep a list of prayers, and in turn help you remember all the things you need to pray for when life gets busy. For me personally, this app has helped me become more detailed in my prayer life. For example, I used to literally say, “God, I pray for my marriage,” but what exactly I wanted God to do for my marriage was not being expressed. Of course, pen and paper can do the trick too, but if you like technology this app is great. There’s even an icon to check off answered prayers.

Day 14 (11-13): No Escape Plan

Earlier this morning I was praying and I said something that immediately made me stop. I guess you are wondering what in the world came out of her mouth, huh? Well, I said, “Thank you for always being there when I need you.” I had to ask myself, “Did I really just say that?”

I can just imagine my Father laughing at that notion, that He only is there when I, emphasis on the word I, need Him. The nerve. The truth of the matter is that irregardless of whether I think I need Him (which is all the time) or I think I have it handled on my own (lies they do tell!), He is always here. When things go the way I desire, He is here. When things don’t go my way, He is here. When I do right by His word, He is here. When I go against what I know my Father has taught me, He is STILL here.

I think David sums it up perfectly here in Psalm 139: 7-10: Where can I go from your spirit? From your presence, where can I flee? 8 If I ascend to the heavens, you are there; if I lie down in Sheol, there you are. 9 If I take the wings of dawn and dwell beyond the sea, 10 Even there your hand guides me, your right hand holds me fast.

Friends, there is no escaping Him, that’s just the way He is. He is ALWAYS there, it’s just us who need to remember that. I love the lyrics in Just the Way by Forever Jones:

So you can not escape my lovin’
You can not outrun my covenant
I made a vow to chase you to the end

And it’s just the way I love you
It’s just the way I chase you
It’s just the way I like it
The only way I know to

And I’m not leaving I’m committed
To my love there is no limit
I’m forever in it to the end

Check the song out below!

Day 10: Please, Don’t Ask Me When I’m Going Back to Work

If you could be anything in the world, do anything in the world, what would you do? Really think about that.  If doubt and fear didn’t exist, if there was a 100% guarantee that you’d succeed at your goal, what would you be doing right now? Feel free to respond in the comments, I’d love to hear from you.

Ever since I became a stay-at-home-mom (SAHM), I’ve been asked over and over again, “So, when do you plan on going back to work?” Parents, family members, former coworkers, friends, and others have asked this question. Now here’s the thing, I don’t mind answering the question the first time, not even the second time, but right around the third and beyond it literally makes my skin crawl.

Now, don’t get upset here because I am not saying this applies to everyone. Some people genuinely want to know if and when I plan on returning to work. Then there are the others. The ones who inadvertently imply that by staying home to raise your kids, you’re not actually working. Is staying home to raise my girls a privilege? Yes, I’m blessed to be able to do so. Is it easy? I’ll answer that with a question. If it is such an easy job, why do parents get so excited when the school year starts back every year? I’ll just leave that right there.

For the past year and a half, I have really been focusing on a career in writing. I have my blog of course, but I’ve also written a book, unpublished but written, and have started working on another book.  When people ask me if or when I’m returning to work, I usually say, “If you are referring to a regular 9 to 5 job, I’m not sure if that will happen again. I am really focusing on my writing and plan to make a living off of it.” Yet, even after I give this response, a couple of months later that question is asked again by the same people. Do you know what the bigger problem with this is? It’s not repeating myself or the lack of respect for the role of the SAHM, no, that’s not the bigger problem.

The bigger problem is that people have gotten stuck in the belief system that if you aren’t clocking into a computer and relying on someone else to verify that you worked and in turn,  pay you, it’s not work. Let’s be clear, there is nothing wrong with working for someone else and clocking into work, nothing at all, every single job is important. I’m not even saying I will never go back to work, never say never. However, it saddens me when people go off the beaten path, they’re encouraged to find a 9-to-5 job instead of encouraged to keep trying to succeed at what they’re passionate about.

The people who achieved the American Dream that is so often sought out, didn’t take the paths everyone else took. Walt Disney, Oprah Winfrey, Colonel Sanders, Jim Carrey, Sidney Poitier, Michael Jordan, Theodor Seuss Giesel, and so many others were not the exception. Let me repeat, they are not the exception, they are just the ones who didn’t give up and they kept going, even when people probably asked them, “When are you going to work?”

Day 9: Stories We’ll Tell Our Children

Before my first child was even conceived, I remember writing a prayer down on a piece of paper and sticking it in my Bible. For some reason, I had this great feeling that my first child would be a girl. I wrote out all of the qualities and characteristics I wanted her to have. I even payed careful attention to the order that I wrote it down because I had heard, “God will give you exactly what you pray for and in the order that you pray for it.” Well, God did answer all of my requests and I still look over the letter sometimes and just laugh at myself. Reminiscing on when I wrote the prayer, I was envisioning a little six-year-old girl and the young woman with these characteristics, not the two-and-half year old, who is currently residing in my house. LOL!

Well, for my youngest child, I didn’t write out a list. I only asked God for one thing, that He would use her to do great things for His kingdom. A couple of mornings ago, my husband was naming off some of the stories he wanted to tell the girls about themselves when they got older. “When Braelynn asks what her first words were, I’m going to tell her they were tink-chu (thank you),” he said. Up until that moment, I had never really thought of her first words in conjunction with my prayer for her. Goosebumps.

Psalm 95:2-3 (NIV) Let us come before him with thanksgiving and extol him with music and song. For the Lord is the great God,the great King above all gods.

Well, for the sake of not being lengthy for the sake of being lengthy, that’s all I wanted to share. Praying for you always, God bless.

Day 8: Don’t Drown

I have a friend, we’ll call her Ava, that is one of the nicest and coolest people you will ever meet, at least I think so. Ava’s hair always looks like she just walked out a salon, her nails are done every week, she is the best dressed person I know, and she only drives luxury cars. She also goes to some really awesome vacation spots. I guess one could say that her life looks pretty impressive. But here’s the thing, in order to “dress to impress” and create the illusion of the perfect life, she’ll skip a couple of months of rent and even miss a car payment, or two. Does she like doing this? No. But she feels like she has to keep up with her circle of friends and so she continues to live like this, hoping that it doesn’t catch up to her.

Now before you start thinking of how unwise her actions are, many Americans are in sinking in the same ship, even though they may have taken a different speed boat to get there. Credit cards, car loans, mortgages, student loans, medical bills and the list goes on have many Americans sinking in debt. Some go into debt blindly and some know exactly what they’re doing and take the gamble anyway. Some are like my friend Ava, she’s gone into debt in order to impress and keep up with others. Some people are like me and racked up student loan debt (should’ve studied to keep HOPE alive), and some people never thought they’d have a medical crisis and now owe hundreds of thousands of dollars in hospital bills. So many people are drowning.

I was catching up with a good friend of mine the other day who happens to work for a bank in the credit card division. “Erika, oh my gosh,” she says, “this has been so eye-opening. Like seriously, so many people are  drowning in debt. All people do is shop around for 0% interest introductory rates and they transfer their debt from one credit card to another. And Erika, I’m talking about $20,000 to $30,000 dollars of debt that they can’t pay off in a year, so they just keep transferring it. Do you know what’s really sad about it, too? They’re our age, Erika. They’re people with families and they get these credit cards for “emergencies” and just rack up debt. You know what I’ve learned, Erika? The best thing to do for emergencies is just to have a checking account or a savings account with your own money in it. It’s just so sad.”

So what’s my point? Well, the theme for October is Vulnerability and Growth. So, the truth I hate to admit is that we are like so many other Americans and we have a load of debt. Student loans and one open-heart surgery can do a brother and a sister in! But here’s the awesome part, the part where there’s growth, we are slowly but surely working ourselves out of it. For a long time, my husband and I were so overwhelmed that we became frozen and we didn’t do anything because we didn’t know what to do. My church kept offering these Financial Peace University courses by Dave Ramsey and although some friends of raved about it, we just didn’t think it would work for us. Why pay $100 for Financial Peace just to fatten the pocket of Dave Ramsey? Seriously, friends, that was our mindset. Then one day out of the blue my dad said, “You know what’s wrong with a lot of Americans when it comes to debt. They get stuck like a deer in headlights when they see their debt and they just freeze. They close their eyes because they are afraid to see it and hope that it will just go away on its own.” I don’t know if my dad knows this, he may have thought he was just “talking” but I’m telling you God used him because I signed up for Financial Peace University that very day. Best $100 investment I’ve probably ever made!

Now, I’m not trying to promote Financial Peace University or Dave Ramsey. I think it’s an amazing course and it is working for us. What I am trying to promote, however, is that if you are like many others, including me, that you sit down and come up with a plan of attack. Reach out for help, preferably not a bank who is trying to sale you something, but DO SOMETHING. Let me be the first to tell you, folks,  IT IS NOT EASY. It requires changing your mindset in order to change your behavior. That’s hard. But I keep thinking of Dave Ramsey’s quote, “Live like no one else today, so you can live like no one tomorrow.” Let that sink in.

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Again, Financial Peace University is working for us, the added bonus is that it is biblically based. If you would like my information, click here Financial Peace University. I know that online courses are available but please consider attending a class in person, sometimes it’s really great to include that extra accountability that comes with meeting face to face.

Day 7: Stop Your Complaining and Suck It Up!

As I write this, I’m literally shaking my head and rolling my eyes at myself. I’m so serious right now. On an earlier post in the writing challenge, a friend wrote on Facebook, “Your posts always hit me personally in some kind of way and I just want you to know in a loving way I hate you for that.” Well, friend, let me tell you, Iit pains me to write what I’m about to write but sometimes the truth hurts. Please let me add this disclaimer, too, a lot of my writing content is directed more at me than anyone else, just keep that in mind as you read.

So here goes, “Stop your complaining and suck it up!”

Complaining about what, you ask?

I’ve been blessed with the awesome opportunity to stay at home and raise my two girls since they were born. While I know it’s a huge blessing, sometimes, I complain about it. Okay, maybe a little more than sometimes.

Do you know what my biggest complaint is? That it is a never-ending job with no breaks in-between and I have no time to myself. I mean, I can’t even use the bathroom alone. And let’s not mention what people think we do versus reality. I’ll never forget a well-meaning friend once said, “Well, we all have to work so you’re the only one who has the time to go to this place.” Forgive them, for they know not what they say, le sigh.

On a serious note, I’m embarrassed to even tell you all of this because I know that there are lots of women who would love to stay home with their kids but they have to work. I also know that there are women who would love to have kids, period. When I complain about “never getting a break” I know that there are far worse problems out there in the world. With all this being said, I came across a particular scripture today, that I wasn’t even searching for.  When I read it, I felt like I was politely being  reprimanded by my Heavenly Father. He does that sometimes, you know, just corrects you when you don’t even know (or want to admit) you need correcting.

Deuteronomy 6:6–7 And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. 7 You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.

My word, did you catch that? Not only has He given very specific instructions to “keep these words on our heart and teach them diligently”but He also left the times we are to do this.  Read it again, “You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them WHEN you sit in your house, and WHEN you walk by the way, and WHEN you lie down, and WHEN you rise.”

I guess He never promised us it would be easy, huh? I hear ya, Father, I hear ya.

Father, thank you just for being who You are. For your love, kindness, and even your gentle correcting. Forgive me for complaining and not seeing the blessing in my role as a mother. Help me become more of a Proverbs 31 woman as a mother.  Thank you for my children and the opportunity to teach them about You. Praises unto You, forever and always. Amen.

you're the gratest!