[more book reviews]

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I’m excited to say that I’ve been asked to review the She Reads Truth Bible.

It hasn’t shipped yet, I just got approved. and I. Can’t. Wait.

Genesis

As a visual learner who also needs to hear, touch, feel things before I really get it, I think this Bible is going to be amazing. I’m posting my hopes for this Bible before I even get to feel it with my own hands. Maybe you’ll get one of these first copies, too?

They’re equipped with things like devotionals- which is something that I NEED. and i can’t wait to dive in.

Who is looking forward to hearing more about it?

 

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[ Loop Devotional for Women]

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You Have a Helper

“But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you” (John 14:26).

My daughter, there are things you know are true—things you can’t see, things you can’t touch. You read my words in pages held together, all stacked, one by one. You read the stories of my presence in my children’s lives. You read about my promises. You see the words upon the page, listen to the sound of them expressed aloud. But what do they mean to you? Am I a God you see around you? Do you breathe Me in, this day?

You hear my name in sermons, read about Me in books. You hear my name tossed around on the lips of believers and unbelievers alike. A believer? A phrase so familiar. . .What is that? What does it mean to believe in something—in Me—as it requires so much faith?

I ask you to wait and trust Me. I tell you to not fear and look for where I am . . . Yes, even in the believing in something yet to be fully seen, you can still see Me. You can still feel Me. And I want to show you where.

There is a place, deep within you, that has eyes that see what is true. My Counselor, within you, the Holy Spirit, gives light, illuminating uncertainty, eradicating doubt, pushing forth understanding to what the world, on its own, can never understand.

This world is not meant to make sense, without the eyes and ears of my Counselor within you, guiding you to see and love and act in ways that do.

You see, it is up to you—my heart within you—to make sense in this misunderstood world. It is your task to see most clearly, from the place where my Counselor resides with you. It is your task to live, to act, from that place, from the understanding I give you about loving whom I say.

You have a Guide who knows Me and shows you the way to live. And it will not align with the ways of this world.

Listen deeply now. Pull in close to hear my whispers: Practice recognizing my voice so when you hear it, you can act. And do it with confidence, hearing Me and seeing me, even yet.

Someday there will be so much more to see, to hear, to understand. But you have enough now. I give you enough to know how to live and love now.

Trust Me.

Live that life now.

Carry Me into the world.

LOOP

4th of July Bliss

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I’ve been scarce lately and it’s because we are incredibly busy. And I don’t need to apologize for that 🙂

We spent four days on the other side of the state at a conference and came home late Saturday night, gathering the kiddos early Sunday morning before church.
Which for me, was exhausting. There are struggles each week to get to church- one of them hates it and it’s evident, but he goes anyway. This weekend, their mom let them stay up until about 5:00AM Sunday morning and then came to our house at 8:30AM for church. So both of them fell asleep during service and in the car and on the way home and everywhere else and I was furious. And they wore basketball shorts because 13 won’t do their laundry.
So i was grumpy and mad because I had just spent 4 days with 2500+ people and then was awoken by 2 snotty kids at 8:30am, while we should have been away for one more day (we came home early). I was unhappy.
13 had a ‘tude all day long and i couldn’t handle being in the same room as him. and that makes my Prince upset and he gets angry and cold toward me.
17 came over for the day. and the next day. and the next day.

a lot of kids.

But yesterday, the fourth of July. We woke up before 9am (20 mins before we were supposed to leave because my alarm didn’t go off!) and headed to the beach. We packed lunches and sunscreen and headed out. We got there and the beach was practically empty (10:30AM, it’s to be expected). The kids all played. Hard. They built a huge sand sea turtle (see below). People stopped and took pictures of it, took pictures with it, put their kids on it. eventually they let their kids climb on it and stab the turtle’s head, which i thought was pretty rude haha.

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We all left after we were sufficiently fried. More than fried. We were all red and crispy. And we only have one bottle of Aloe Vera.

We drove home and tried to sneak into a couple ice cream shops- one was rude when my husband asked to use a restroom, they did the Pretty Woman thing where they sort of told him he was too garbage to use their bathroom, so we chose to eat ice cream elsewhere. Then we found the second shop and they’d closed! So we finally drove the long way around town, almost home, and found ice cream.
The kids started craving Pizza. Real bad. And we told them no 500 times. but when we walked into the restaurant, I pulled my prince aside and said “come on babe, lets just get some pizza and then have ice cream later.” and he smiled and sat at a table. He’s starting to enjoy tricking them, too. We didn’t let them look at menus, we just waited to see how long they could stand it before we ordered.

and it was good. it was doughy and saucy and fresh from the oven. and the ice cream was perfect. and we got it all for about $35 which is pretty neat, since there’s 5 of us.

And 13 said that he had just had the best fourth of july he can ever remember. and there weren’t even fireworks yet.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Teeter Totter summer update 2. [the one that you should read.]

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Okay my posts aren’t always going to be about a teeter totter summer, but this week it is because its week 1 and everything is upside down.

Last night was …dun dun duuuun.. report card night.
9’s is almost glowing, it’s so good. he has 2 areas he can improve on, but the teacher even said “I think he’ll figure it out. He’s a leader in our class. He is an example. He works well with others, etc.” Everything a parent wants to read about their kid. He is GIDDY with his end of year grades and the positive report his teacher gave him.

13 has had this impending doom hanging above his head for the entire last trimester- he’s known it was coming. Long story short, he barely passed his year at school and we’re searching for summer school as a sort of bonus punishment. He’s lost privileges like television, tablets, cell phones, video games- all of it. very strictly for 3 weeks.

We came to this agreement about 6 minutes after we got the letter in the mail. The kids’ mom came over and my Prince kept saying, before she arrived, that “We would all discuss this and figure it out.” and i questioned him- “You keep saying we. does that mean i get to be a part of this?”
“Unless she outright won’t meet and talk about this if you’re here, yes. I want you to be a part of this.”
*huge internal smile*
Immediately after, she arrives. We all gather on the porch and she even says hi to me before i get on the porch. that’s strange.
we have our discussion and she actually listens to my input, which i am mindful to not add unless i think its very important, since this is the first time i’ve been tolerated. this is going well…

she admits a lot of her own faults in why 13 didnt succeed this year. she admits to a lot and basically reaches her hands out asking for help.
Eventually the conversation is wrapped up. I sent the boys in the house to find a book that they  were playing with the other day, it was their mom’s and her sisters from when they were kids- we gave it back to her and she smiled so big! she said she really appreciated it and held it close. and then the  boys go off to swim.
She doesn’t run off the porch.
Instead she thanks me.

SHE THANKED ME.
and she apologized for the way the last two years have been and blamed it on “momma bear.” and i just told her i understood and i thanked her.
and i told her how much i love those boys. and how much i care for them and just want the best for them. and she just said “Stepmomma, i know. they love you. and care for you. and i’m just grateful to have a support system for them. Thank you for all that you do for them and all you have done. i think things are going to be a lot better from here on out.”

WHAT!

and once she left, i walked right out to the pool and told my prince what she said, and he hopped out like “Should we talk somewhere else?” like the boys shouldn’t hear. and i said no. i intentionally came here for them to hear that their mom came to me and apologized. there was a tangible tension between us the last two years and they have openly talked about her disdain for me. I think it’d be good for them to hear that things are better. and he just smiled, like “You’re right.”

And then we took the boys to Taco Bell as a little surprise, but also because it was hot and we didn’t want to cook.

and then we took them to play tennis and 13, the one who hates all physical activity and outdoors, LOVED IT. he had fun. he smiled and laughed and ran around and then i smoked him in a real game of tennis (PS it was his first day ever of tennis, but still i won.) and then i crushed my Prince in another game of tennis that he tried, so hard, to get me to redo, but i scored on him in all 3 redo rounds. and i won again.

we all giggled and we all smiled hugely and came home feeling good.

this was my favorite day in a very long time.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

week on- week off, my life is a teeter totter

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Consistency, what does that word even mean? Constant. Never changing. Routine. Similar. Predictable. What I crave for every aspect of my life.

Now for someone who is very much a “Type A” personality, change is scary. And I don’t know how I ever thought that life as a step parent would fit into my clean, organized, well- scheduled life. Because it doesn’t. It so does not.

Our “Schedule” is typically 1 night per week and every other weekend. With some bonus days here and there, whenever my Prince invites the kids over or their mom can’t stand them anymore, which is often as of late.

I almost demand that Prince Charming tells me when they come over if it is an “off” day of ours. I cannot physically or mentally handle coming home to three people when I expected to come home to zero or 1 (if my prince is working.) And he hates it. He often thinks that I mean he needs my approval to have the kids over. While that would be real fun, since I do plan things on our nights off and sometimes really do need a day off from everyone, it is not the case.

I am just step mom. My needs come last, my sanity comes way last.
I have begged and pleaded for this summer to not come and alas, here it is. Week 1.
Where we get the boys for an entire week. They’ll go to their mom’s house for 14 sweet hours in the middle of the week, but still. My sanity is scared. My heart that still is aching since my step dad died. It’s terrifying to cry or have added stress. My sunburned skin is not looking forward to when 9 pulls me to go look at something or how the dogs get riled up while the kids are over and might jump & scratch my fresh burns. ouch.
I have told my Prince that if he were to pursue further custody of the children than what he/we have, I would support him. I would take the kids every day of their dang lives if that’s what he wanted and that’s what were best. But I am not prepared for week on, week off. At all.

I am not prepared for the arguments and my husband telling me that I’m fighting just like the thirteen year old.
I am not prepared to get walked on day in and day out every other week.
I am not prepared to be pushed aside for an entire week.
I am not prepared for the week long mental exhaustion and feeling like i am on the outskirts of my own home.
I am not prepared for the endless laundry that will accumulate or the swimsuits and towels that will hang forever on our porch rail.
I am not prepared for them to miss their mom and to hate every second of being with us. I cannot ever prepare for the “I miss mom” ‘s or the 25 minute phone calls to her, when we never get an “i miss you” phone call while they are away from us.

When my routines break, I turn into a monster. I can’t think straight, I can’t keep track of the days, I cannot handle it. I struggle when I come home to a full house instead of getting my 30 minutes of quiet, where I can pick up the pieces of the day before and get things back in order. Do the laundry, wash the dishes, sweep up the floors and tackle whatever large mess was left by my husband or skids. When I come home to a full house, I am already defeated. I cannot peel away from them to do housework or editing photos + videos from my side gig, I cannot find 5 minutes of quiet, I am exhausted.

Does it seem wrong to not want this week on/week off thing? Prince Charming keeps saying “We’re only adding three days/week and she gets them on our regular night!!”

Yes, but that’s three days of not seeing my husband.
Three days of doubt and worry and being shoved to the side.
Three days of arguments and fights over dinner or whether it’s actually 89 degrees out.
Three days of telling 13 that he cannot possibly have another pop and can’t have 4 bowls of ice cream, especially because he was a giant turd all day long.
Three days of not bike riding or walking because the kids are too lazy to go. (mainly 13)
Three days of sanity that I so badly need.

We’ve never done week on, week off.

I am honestly terrified for summer.

a step mom- on mother’s day.

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Apparently everyone is jumping on the Mother’s Day bandwagon right now, even though we’re more than a week out from it. I guess this is when I should write about it, too.

imagesMother’s day is a really, extremely sore spot for me. I’m not excited for it. I don’t have a wish list. I don’t look forward to any part of it. It hurts me. Mother’s day feels like a giant loss for me and there are no possible words for me to even explain this to you, without giving you miles and miles of explanations. So for short:

Mother’s day is a trying time for me. My own mother lives on the other side of the country and told us she was leaving only 10 days before she drove off. Her job didn’t call her there, she convinced them she needed to move. She took a pay cut, drove her own, personal car through the mountains, and increased her monthly bills tremendously. This was 6 years ago.moving-company-reviews-clipart

In these six years, my own mother, who I used to view as this immense source of strength and beauty in a way I couldn’t understand, this woman who had it all and had it all together- she has cracked. She is broken. and she is lost.

 

My own mother suffers from some manic depressive habits and probably schizophrenia, if not a multiple personality disorder. I can’t give you a real diagnosis because she won’t visit a doctor to receive any help. Through these debilitating mental disorders, she has lost the job that she chased after, 2300 miles away. She has lost her home, she has lost her car. and she’s lost a lot of dignity. While there isn’t much else to lose, she is very rapidly losing her children. It’s hard to even say that. I’m not going to go in to grave detail here because it’s far too extravagant to try to explain.

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I have felt, for 6 years, the way a young child with a parent who walked out of their life feels. Abandoned. A little worthless, since it was so simple to just leave. A lot forgotten. But I’m an adult and I was an adult when she left and I do still have contact with her. But it feels so strange. This is the first year I didn’t call my own mother on Easter. I just couldn’t.

As a step-mom, mother’s day is naturally strange. Two years ago, Mother’s day was only a few days before my Prince and i’s wedding day. So he had the kids make me Mother’s day cards. I got one that said “Happy Mother’s Day-ish” and “Thanks, StepMomma (with my real name inserted.) And it was cute the first time because they still didn’t really know what it meant to have a step mom or what was happening. I’m not sure they really realized I was moving in until I didn’t go home the first night we returned from our honeymoon.

The second Mother’s day, I directly asked them to not send me an “ish” card. That I’d rather have nothing than an “ish” card. Because in all honesty, that “Ish” hurt.. pretty bad. They couldn’t even call me their step mother. i was just Ish. My Prince had them buy me flowers and they picked some out for their mom, too. Snuck into her house and left them on her windowsill. Our church has a Mother’s Day thing every year, where sometimes the kids deliver the flowers to their moms or sometimes they call everyone up in front of the church to have flowers given to them, or sometimes an adult will pass them out while we watch a slideshow of memories of little babies in hospitals and moms kissing their babies cheeks.

I don’t want to stand there. I feel like an outcast. My kids don’t want to buy me flowers, they correct the servers at restaurants that say “Maybe Mom will…”. They can’t stand the idea of me as their mom or as a mother-like influence. And it really crushes me sometimes.

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Mother’s day hurts. And i know that for you, it might hurt in different ways. This year feels different and feels like my kids may actually like me better than they did last year, but i am still a little bit broken on Mother’s day, grieving the loss of my own mother. She’s still alive but she is very much not here. She doesn’t know the names of my kids and hardly knows what I do for a living.

For mother’s day this year, I don’t want a thing. i don’t need a thing. Except maybe a giant hug from my Prince and an “I love you anyway.”

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writehard

Reblog: 5 Things to Stop Asking People Who are Dating Parents

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“The truth is: a family is a family as long as there are people in a clump who love each other and try really hard to be good and say sorry when they aren’t as good as they could be. It doesn’t matter how that family came to be. It really doesn’t.”

 

5 Questions to Stop Asking People Who are Dating Parents

Please for the love of god, stop.

Alright. I’m only about 6 months into dating the man of my dreams who also has a child and I’m exhausted. Not because men smell bad sometimes or children can be assholes, but because I’m tired of being asked the same lame questions by people who are not dating a man who also has a four-year-old son.

I understand that people are curious. I’m a former child actor who is now booze sober and freelances while making her life up as she goes, so I’m super familiar with fielding questions from people who wonder what it’s like to live my best life. I L O V E to talk about myself, so I’m usually pretty cool with answering most inquiries.

I also understand that the dismantling of what we once considered a “traditional family” is a recent development in our species’ evolution. Everyone is curious. But there are some questions that just need to stop.

The truth is: a family is a family as long as there are people in a clump who love each other and try really hard to be good and say sorry when they aren’t as good as they could be. It doesn’t matter how that family came to be. It really doesn’t.

Before I rant, I’d like to note that I’m writing this as a white, heterosexual woman who is dating a straight white guy. I’ve got it the easiest as far as these situations go for more reasons than just that. I can’t even begin to imagine what it’s like for anyone else because I’m not anyone else. If you’re in a similar but different situation, I want to hear about it.

From my experience, these are five common yet useless questions people should really stop asking people who are dating parents:

1. Is it weird that he has a kid?

Is it weird that YOU have a kid? I think what you mean is, “Is it weird that you’re playing house with a baby that isn’t yours?” My personal answer is: this is literally all I’ve ever done. I’ve played with dolls, I’ve babysat other people’s children and I’ve imagined parenting that cute wealthy little wasp of a child on the subway. This is the only thing I know how to do, so it’s not that weird at all. Also, what if I said, “Yeah. It’s super weird, man. It’s like there’s this kid there sometimes and it creeps me out.” THAT would be weird.

2. Are you in the child’s life?

Hahahah. No. For half the week, I live in the bathroom and subsist on used Q-tips and body wash.

3. Do you guys want your own kids?

Before I get into this: just stop asking people in general if they’re going to have children. It’s really annoying and weird and none of your business. Giving birth is not a rite of passage. It’s an optional thing. Get used to it. Beyond that? Ew, none of your business. Also, there’s something gross about saying “your own” kids. It comes across like you’re trying to find a way to ask, “Hey so you wanna have any non-bastard kids or what?” It’s weird and, one more time for those in the back: none of your business.

4. How did the kid happen?

In many cases, kids happen when a man and a woman do sex with each other and the woman’s eggs are ripe. In many other cases, it happens differently. In all cases: it’s none of your business.

5. What’s with his/her/their baby mama/daddy?

This one is my favorite. It’s the nosiest of all the questions. I wish people would just lick their chops and rub their palms together when they ask it so they could look as predatory as they sound. I usually say, “That’s not my story to share. And if you ever say ‘baby mama’ to me again, I’m gonna fart into your mouth.” Look, don’t be a gossip. Maybe deep down, you want to hear some juicy story of passion and betrayal because you haven’t had a sick day in awhile and you miss watching Jerry Springer. But: it ain’t nunya.

I’m not saying you shouldn’t ask questions, folks. But there’s a right way to ask questions and there are many careless, insensitive ways to ask. Do me a favor and skip all those other questions and just ask this one:

I’d love to hear about your partner’s kid, if you want to talk about it!

That’s it. Super easy. You’ll get the information you actually need, which is whatever the other person decides to share.