Tuesday, July 28, 2009

The Mystery Elmo

Here is one blog that will require a little reader participation if you don't mind. I promise I won't ask you to do anything embarrassing, I only hope to find out your opinion on a certain matter after I explain my situation and present the two views I see before myself.

The Dilemma:

Shortly after putting Natalie down for a nap this afternoon, I put Zachary in his stroller and prepared to go down and check the mail. Upon stepping out of my door I came upon a brand new, in the packaging, Singing Pizza Elmo toy sitting against the right side of the small alcove that is ours alone. I searched it for some sort of note or indication of who it might be intended for, besides the obvious, or who it may have come from; my search was in vain. I left the mystery Elmo outside exactly where I had found it as I planned on asking some of my friends in the building if they had any answers to my questions. No one knew anything about the little red guy. So now the concern is, do I keep it or toss it?

First View:

My first instincts are to get rid of it. I may be considered paranoid for this thought, but if I don't know where or who it came from I am not going to give it to my children. In a time when we are told not to open mail with no return address because of anthrax, or when we watch the candy our children get at halloween to make sure none has been tampered with, I feel a gift with no note left on your doorstep could fall under the same category. For all I know someone could've put a razor somewhere inside just waiting for the unsuspecting child to find it, or it could be laced with some sort of dangerous material or chemical that upon inspection I would not even be able to discover or notice. It may seem harsh to have that point of view, but I have read too many news stories about things happening to people that I find unreal and appalling. Who would do such things? Certainly it would never happen to me! But the reality is that there are people out there who do these types of criminal acts and it could happen to me. I don't want to be the naive one who goes about thinking I can't be touched by any of those crimes that 'only' happen to others. Personally I have had some of those experiences myself and I know first hand it touches more people then we realize- but that's another story for another time.

Second View:

After talking to a friend who always sees the glass as half full, I had to consider the other side to it. Her first thoughts were that someone was trying to be kind and bless us anonymously, which I have to admit is not unheard of. I would consider it such a sweet and wonderful blessing if someone having seen we have 2 small children decided to give us this toy that either they bought specifically for that purpose or that they themselves already had but didn't need or want, either way it would be an extremely thoughtful gesture. And to do it anonymously is to show great humility in not wanting any attention by means of praise or repayment brought on themselves, but just to be generous purely out of the goodness in their hearts. How can I reject something given with a humble heart like that? It would be so great to know there are still good people out there who do such random acts of kindness in a time when all we focus on is the negative within life.

Now it is time for your participation. What would you do in this situation? Discard the nice new toy for fear of some ill that may come from giving it to the children from an unknown source, or accept it as a humble and kind gesture from a thoughtful stranger? Or do you see a third option?

Friday, July 24, 2009

Blessed by Your Friendship

In high school making friends was just a part of life. You are surrounded everyday by these people, you are bound to connect with someone sometime, its inevitable. Some may be single serving friendships, people who you enjoy while they are there but it fades quickly when you no longer see them regularly. Then some are life lasting, people you really make a connection with and it just sticks, no matter the distance between you. Both are wonderful friends and serve to bless you in some way. Now just out of high school I had my group of friends, people who all lived nearby who I had been friends with from school or church, but soon after getting married to my sailor it came time for our first move.

Best Friends from Washington

I am not a 'people person' or a 'social butterfly', as my husband is. It can take some time for me to open up and make friends, especially when I am not constantly surrounded by them as in high school or at work. I was terrified about having to move and make new friends. I didn't think it was possible for me to find anyone who could truly be my friend other then the people who I left behind in Washington as we traveled across the country to Virginia.

It didn't take us long to find a church in Virginia and we knew right away that it was where God wanted us. I was amazed at how fast we made friends! Though I never had realized it before, apparently I had been thinking subconsciously that outside of my circle of friends in Washington there were no good people who could like me! But here across the country in Virginia we met some wonderful, salt of the earth, good Christian friends. And I can't say I feel we had enough time together, I miss them all dearly.

'Salt of the Earth' friends in Virginia

When the time came to move again, my mind went back to the same line of thought as before, I won't possibly be able to find as good friends in Guam as I have in Washington and Virginia. You see how stubborn I am? Sometimes I just don't learn the first time. Not surprisingly, God has blessed us so graciously again. Now I can't imagine never having met such wonderful, encouraging and caring friends as we now have here on Guam. I just stand amazed at God's faithful blessings that pour out on us through others. And hopefully I will be able to remember that the next time we have to move; there are good and wonderful people God will bring into our lives no matter where we go. And sometimes He will only bless us with them for a short time before one of us moves on to bless someone else, somewhere else, but how amazing it was to know them for even the shortest time!

Encouraging friends on Guam

Thank you to all the people I have been blessed to call friend. God has poured so many blessings on me through the friends He has brought into my life. I look forward to all the new friends I will make in the future as we continue to move as the Navy needs, but while I am here I will savor those I have right now for as long as I can!

What are some of your best memories with friends old & new? Who has God blessed you with in your life?

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Discouragement: A Weapon of the Enemy

You know the feeling. Nothing seems like it will, or even could, go your way. You wonder why you should even bother. Someone is whispering in your ear, reminding you of all the reasons you should quit. You aren't good enough, you don't know enough, no one wants to hear what you have to say. They will laugh at you, they will stare at you, they will stop talking to you and instead gossip about you when you leave the room. Then as this whisper grows louder, almost into a shout, your self confidence shrinks and your fear builds. You can't do this, it must be a mistake. God couldn't possibly have wanted me for this. If God really wants me for this than someone will approach me, I don't need to step out on my own.

But sometimes we all need not to just step out, but leap out on faith!

I need to be reminded of this often myself. I fall into my emotions so easily. Satan uses those opportunites to his best advantage. Preying on me at my lowest point. I don't get a reply as soon as I expected, or things don't go exactly as I hoped and I start wondering what I did wrong, if I am good enough, if I made a mistake thinking God could use me, or even more crazy- did God make a mistake Himself in laying something on my heart, in giving me a mission for Him?

I know, crazy right? God doesn't make mistakes, not once in His infinite existence. So what would make me think He is going to start now? No, God knows what He is doing, and He knows what we are capable of, though it may not be easy or comfortable for us.

Personally, I have been struggling with a lot of discouragement lately. Part of it is getting caught up in all the 'what if's and fear that comes with doing something new. I try to keep in mind why I am feeling discouraged though. Why is Satan taking this opportunity to fill my mind with self doubt? Could it possibly be to prevent me from my mission because of the good it could do? What a positive thought! If Satan is trying so hard to keep me down, I should want to go forward and make that leap even more! There is no better way to beat the enemy than by doing as God wants me to.

So when you are feeling discouraged, like you couldn't possibly make a difference or matter that much for God to use you; remember Satan obviously thinks you will matter or why else would he be kicking you while you are already down! Often if the task seems too easy with no obstacles, that is when we should be reevaluating our direction. Praying for God to show us His path, and not taking our own. If Satan isn't attacking and throwing down obstacles in the way, it may be because he doesn't see us as a threat!

I say bring on the hardships! Its when I learn the most and can truly know I am on the road less traveled. After all, the road less traveled, the narrow path, is bound to have more bumps and branches in the way verses the common, easy path.

...looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy
that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and was set down
at the right hand of the throne of God. For consider Him who endured such
hostility from sinners against Himself, lest you become weary and discouraged in
your souls. ~ Hebrews 12:2-3

The fear of man brings a snare, But whoever trusts in the Lord shall be
safe. ~Proverbs 29:25

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Adventures in Potty Training

Jon and I 'started' potty training Natalie at 20 months old. We really hoped we could get it taken care of early because we were so tired of diapers; we were tired of buying them, changing them, and disposing of them! Due to lack of discipline on my part mostly, we decided to give it a rest for a little while because Natalie didn't seem to be getting it and we thought maybe it was too early for her.

Months went by and occassionally if she showed interest I would place her once again on that porcelin throne, but nothing ever happened. Eventually Jon found out we would be moving to Guam the following summer; we decided with such a big move it wouldn't be a good idea to really get into potty training until we were settled in Guam. So again we put it off for a few more months. In those few months, right before our little family was about to move overseas, I found out I was pregnant with Zachary. As expected I had about 4 months of nausea and was not about to try something as daunting as putting Natalie on the potty every half an hour during that part of the pregnancy, I would just wait until that passed and I was more comfortable. So I picked a day after the nausea had subsided. I decided didn't want to be changing the diapers of both my kids, one at a time in diapers would be enough! But I quickly realized that was easier said then done.

Natalie had learned how to really be stubborn. She didn't want to learn how to use the big girl's potty at this point. And as my belly grew, I didn't have the energy to fight her over it or to sit in the bathroom with her as she sat on the toilet, happily I might add, for 15 minutes at a time just refusing to go, then she would sweetly ask for her diaper each time I took her off of it- the 'fight' part began when I told her no more diapers. That lasted for about 4 days with no success before I gave in.

My big girl going potty and wearing panties!

Now at three and half years old, Natalie has finally gone one full day diaper free AND dry!! Of course we are bribing her with M&Ms, but somewhere down the line we will just have to 'forget' to give them to her and see how often she begins to forget them herself when she realizes how much better she will feel about herself, and how much more comfortable she will be, not sitting in a diaper full of her own bodily waste. Until then I just pray we have many more dry days and that Natalie continues to be very excited about using the potty on her own.

How long did it take you to potty train your children? Any tips or tricks you would like to pass on to the mommys of toddlers?

Monday, July 13, 2009

Leading by Example

I let myself get more irritated every time I give Natalie a peanut butter or tuna sandwich. Why you may ask? Well she has developed a habit I never gave a second thought to until recently. Anytime she eats a sandwich she completely deconstructs it; right down to scraping off any condiment on the bread with her fingers. This of course makes a HUGE mess for me to clean up, and if you know me you know I loathe cleaning.

Natalie wanting to be just like mommy as she shops!
Last week though I had had enough! I was tired of scrubbing all the peanut butter from between her fingers and sometimes off her clothes and anywhere else her dirty fingers wandered. I sat down to eat lunch with Natalie and I showed her how to eat a sandwich correctly. Why hadn't I thought of this sooner?! She picked it up and happily ate her tuna sandwich all together instead of piece by piece! By simply reminding her to eat it properly each time since, she has followed through and continues to leave me with so much less to worry about cleaning after she has eaten! I am just still so surprised at myself for not doing this sooner. In the past I would just instruct her to not pull it apart, but by taking the time, just a few minutes, to actually show her it made all the difference.
Wonder who she picked this on up from?!

Its funny how God shows me these little connections between everyday life and what He has to teach me in the bigger picture. This same little lesson I learned last week, I was able to think about even further as I listened to Pastor Joe's sermon this past Sunday. He talked about how Jesus led by example. Out of the time the disciples spent with Jesus, the first year all they really did was watch Jesus as He went about ministering to people. Then they could see how they should minister. Of course I have always known I should strive to be like Jesus, to follow in His foot steps, but just thinking about how Natalie, and someday Zachary, will watch me and look to me to learn how they should behave and act makes it all the more important. Natalie is at that age when she is watching every move I make and listening to every word I say- though sometimes I wish she would just obey more of the words I say! When I truly sit down to think about all the ways she mimics me, all the habits she picks up from me it is very convicting. Now so far I don't think she has picked up anything too bad from me, but I need to be much more aware of my own actions and how they may appear to my children. I think about how maybe I should read my bible out in the living room instead of retreating to my bedroom every time, and at the same time I should probably read it aloud more often when the children are around. I also think about how Jon and I interact, sometimes the way we joke with each other may not seem so much like joking to a 3 year old who doesn't understand sarcasm. I think about how my attitude may be showing when I unhappily go about doing the housework, I shouldn't treat them so much as chores as I should consider them part of taking care of my family which I am happy to do. These little habits we may not even realize we are showing so much really can rub off and impact our children. I want my habits to be always joyful, positive, and above all, Godly, so that my children will mimic that those same habits someday!
I hope this encourages everyone to take a look at their own lives and maybe see some areas they need to change so that they may reflect Jesus to their children always! We need to always strive to follow in His example, just as our children will follow the example we leave them.
Let no one despise your youth, but be an example to the
believers in word, in conduct, in love, in spirit, in faith, in purity.
Timothy 4:12 (NKJV)
And these words which I command you today shall be in your
heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them
when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and
when you rise up.
Deuteronomy 6:18 (NKJV)

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Sharing Our Scars

I recently read a book called Your Scars Are Beautiful to God by Sharon Jaynes. It is through this book that God brought me immeasurable peace about all the bumps on my own journey. There have been quite a few, and sometimes it is easy to feel like you are alone in your suffering. It's easy to listen to that whisper in your ear from the enemy that you are the only one who knows this pain and make you feel embarrassed and ashamed of it. Sometimes I even wish I could hide my own scars from God, but that's impossible! And that's not why He allowed these experiences to happen.
Now I don't believe my God would ever cause horrible crimes to be committed, but I do believe God allows Satan to tempt us or throw us in the path of someone else he is tempting. But God knows our strengths and our weakness. He knows how much we can handle, and God wants us to turn to Him in our moments of pain and suffering. Just as in Job; God allowed Job to be tested by Satan but God had the power to stop it when He chose. And remember in the end , after losing everything Job still trusted and took comfort in the Lord? Then he was blessed above and beyond what he had lost!
I want to be like Job. Not that I want to lose everything I hold near and dear. I cherish my family and it would break my heart to lose them; though I like to think I would be strong and still take comfort in the Lord, trusting in Him to see me through. But I have my trials, much less then the loss of my family, that I have been very angry with God. Not that I completely lost my faith in Him, just that I couldn't wrap my mind around the 'why'. I was angry with God just as a child gets angry with his parents. And as a parent, I hate to see my children upset with me, it breaks my heart, but what I do is in love because I want only whats best for them. And it is the same way with God. I don't always understand why but I need to learn to constantly trust in my Heavenly Father. He only wants what is best for me.
With that said, I want to trust in the Lord that He will give me the strength to share my scars. I don't understand them all completely, but I know I want them to honor God. I believe by being open and honest; by taking off my mask, that I can also help others begin to take their own masks off. Our scars should not only be beautiful to God, but to each other as fellow believers. We make connections to one another through similar interests, hobbies, and just about anything we may have in common; but I think we tend to overlook the connections we can make through our past pain and grief. I think, especially as women, we hide these scars away ashamed of them. Just think of all the encouragement we could give to one another and all the new bonds we could form through the sharing of our scars! I know I find it so very comforting to hear about someone else who has gone through the same thing as I have because I can know they truly understand everything I am feeling as well as knowing I am not alone! Logically I realize I could not possibly be the only one to have been through any number of my scars, but emotionally I still feel alone until I am able to connect with someone who fully understands. Suddenly I find peace in knowing I am not alone, others understand and have been through it before me and came out victorious in Christ! And then I can hope to someday be that friend to someone else who is hurting and share with them my own scar so that maybe they will find the same peace in not feeling alone anymore! Through truly none of us are ever alone when we know the Lord. And praise God, He can make goodness come from anything!
I pray that you may always remember that and maybe someday you will be able to take your own mask off, share you scars and reap the blessings the Lord will bestow!

No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is
faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but
with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to
bear it.
1 Corinthians 10:13 (NKJV)

And we know that
all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the
called according to His purpose.
Romans 8:28 (NKJV)

Friday, July 10, 2009

Let It Pour

Oh how I long for the day when I can again enjoy a rainy day as I feel it should be. Growing up in Washington, appropriately nicknamed the 'rainy state', I am no stranger to a lot of rain. And honestly it never bothered me that it was wet outside for the majority of the year. Fall was always my favorite season, summer my least favorite; so the rain suits me. But the kind of rain I expect and long for, is the cold and wet variety!
Another cloudy gray day.

We have been in Guam a year this month and I still cannot get used to the constant humidity and heat. I don't like the rain here. Even just the cloudy days are enough to mess with my mind. I sit inside my well air-conditioned apartment on the fourth floor looking out at the downpour and dreary gray sky and I imagine sitting out on the lanai enjoying the cold weather, only to actually walk out and feel a too warm, uncomfortable breeze in the air. I walk out my door without a jacket expecting to be reminded I need it by the chill and steam from my breath, only to be slapped in the face with the heat. I long to run through the cold rain to my car bundled up in my warm coat with the hood pulled up to protect my hair while the bottoms of my jeans get just drenched from the puddles I splash through; instead I just run through the rain getting all my thin clothes wet and my feet soaked because why would I wear anything but flip flops here?! And of course compared to the rain in Guam, Washington rain is almost a light sprinkle, a mist but on Guam when it rains its like God has just taken a huge bucket and emptied it over the island. You can't be in it for only a minute without looking like you just jumped in the pool fully clothed!

The downpour begins.

Then there is just the fact of how sudden it can come on. Sometimes no warning and it just hits you. Other times you can see the wall of rain as it approaches and you can only pray it takes a turn for a different direction! Sometimes it seems cloudy and gray so you may make an educated guess you WILL be rained on, other days seem bright and sunny before it starts. Just because you wake up to a beautiful day outside doesn't mean it can't take a turn, and the same goes for when the rain stops. It may be minutes or it may be hours. You may wake up to a dull, gloomy day and have a beautiful blue sky in the afternoon. You just never can tell!
I suppose though in all fairness there are some good points to the rain here. I would definitely be more likely to go out and play in the tropical rain. If I were to do that in Washington without my jacket I would probably catch a cold! And let's face it sometimes it is fun to just go hop from puddle to puddle, or dance around letting the warm rain hit you face and just enjoy the shower from heaven. Or I could have my own love scene like in the movies; completely drenched standing out in the pouring rain, my love rushes up to me sweeps me off my feet as we share in a passionate kiss with the rain streaming down both of our faces. Maybe that is something I should look into while we are here in the midst of this tropical weather!
Still, I do miss my Washington rain, though I think from now on I will try to make the most of Guam's rainy season while we are here.

Restarting an Old Passion

Once upon a time, I wrote poetry, short stories and I even blogged a little. But then things happened, and I never managed to get back into one of the God given talents I most cherished, creative writing. I forgot how good it felt to share my opinion in writing and just work my words into something I could be truly proud of. And honestly I have missed it!

Now thanks to a little push here and there from friends or circumstances that left me longing to once again to put my thoughts onto paper, I am back!

I hope to share about all the little things, good and bad, about life. I am a mom of two beautiful children who provide me with new adventures and things to consider each day. I live on the beautiful island of Guam that I am constantly learning new things about. I am a proud Navy wife so that also presents me with some very passionate subjects to discuss. And above all I am a woman striving to live a life pleasing to the Lord. I am very passionate my beliefs and about helping others. God has allowed some great trials in my life and I hope to always use them to give Him the glory because He has pulled me through each one; making me stronger despite them every day.

I make it my goal to write at least one or two blogs a week. I look forward to any comments anyone has to leave about anything I write. Constructive criticism is always welcome too. And I am more then happy to answer any questions, even very personal ones because I want to be real, I don't want to hide anything or wear a mask. This is something I am working on as God has laid it on my heart.

Well I hope you all enjoy my blogging! Thank you for taking the time to hear what I have to say!