[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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[closing time]

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You guys remember this right?

“So gather up your jackets, and move it to the exits, I hope you have found a Friend. Closing time. Every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end.”
I feel every ounce of this song. Though I’ve usually thought of it as the bar keep saying “Get out of my bar, I’m tired” and not in the sense of Closing on a house, packing up our belongings and moving along. Making an end at one residence and allowing it to be someone else’s new start.

We got the e-mail that we can close next week and I SCREAMED when I read it and called my husband to make sure he saw it (he didn’t. he was driving.)

1 down. 2 to go.
We should be able to close on the house we are moving to in just a few days after we sign the documents on house 1.
We should have house 2 up to snuff in a week or two and have that on the market, then we will cross our fingers and keep praying that God will show us some mercy and good grace and sell the house quickly. It will be hard to manage a second house from an hour away. Please join us in praying that we sell my college home quickly.
WE ARE SO EXCITED.

[things to come]

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We’re getting ready to close on the house that we have lived in for the past two years, our first years as a married couple and as a family. There’s an eensy weensy little spot of me that is sort of sad to see it go. Most of me is relieved. I had these huge fears that we would be trapped there for the rest of our lives and I would feel cramped and tired and stuck. But we’re not even living there now. And it feels like I can breathe again.

We’re staying in the house that I owned before we got married. Sleeping in a room I’d never slept in before, remodeling rooms I’ve dreamed about but didn’t have the know-how to be able to do. Painting, cleaning, continually boxing items. Always finding out that we have TOO MUCH STUFF and our storage unit is TOO full. There have only been a handful of items we have *really* wished we had on hand, that were packed away. one of them we bought to replace while we wait to unpack all our items- a mini food processor, from an estate sale, in mint condition with all the accessories for $2. It was really hard to pass up. And I mean, we’ve definitely desired to have two of them a time or two before. So now we have two.

We’re trying to renovate and continue living our lives, but really, we’re tired. My husband especially. Because my Prince is a dreamboat and he works all day at his office and then comes home, puts on his boots and goes upstairs to build walls, tear out dividers, hang mirrors, paint things, put in trim and more. I ache from sitting at a desk all day, to a point that I don’t WANT to do physical things unless it’s as simple as walking. I clean the house and then I’m over-exerted. Depression and anxiety are running high right now and are never more than an arm’s length away, hello fall season- i see you.

We’re also only three weeks away from closing on our dream house. our farm. we’ve met the owners of the house and fell in love with them. the wife is so sweet. she cried when we met and reached out for a hug but realized we’d only known each other a few seconds and pulled back. I hope she comes back to visit in a few years. The thought of moving is dreadful. I can’t envision spending one more day messing with our belongings and moving them again. It feels so laborious. I just want to be settled in our home.

It feels like we are always busy. Always doing something, even on the nights that we have to veg out and watch a tv show and eat on the couch because we are so tired. Our emotions are tired, or mine are at least. I can’t deal with my overworked husband who spits out words like fire and doesn’t realize how crushing they can be. I can’t handle it. And I can’t handle the ins and outs of parenthood right now. I just can’t. I am at a point where I need a safe place and I need a cozy chair and blanket and a book or 10 to curl up with and recoup, but there is no time for it.

I’m looking forward to learning to garden and learning to be the canning queen of 2018.
I can’t wait for goats, chickens and some day cows, even though i don’t really want cows.
I can’t wait to build the photo studio of my dreams, right on my land.
I can’t wait to take walks in our back yard through our hills.
To wake up and see deer feeding from our trees.
To have our home.
To create our farm.
I can’t believe we’re really doing it!

[ 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

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

JUNE UPDATE

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The StepMomma’s 2017 Goals:

  1. Decluttering
  2. Fixing up House A
  3. Fixing up House B
  4. Making healthier food and life choices
  5. Saving more moolah
  6. Paying off all debt (excluding student loans, mortgages)
  7. Weekly Bible Studies with the kiddos
  8. Reading my entire bible all the way through
  9. Hosting a Bible study in our home
  10. Becoming a DBA and LLC for my personal business
  11. More family time
  12. Learning to cook one decent meal for the family
  13. Only wearing jeans one day/week…
  14. Read more.

JUNE UPDATE IS HERE!

I can tell you that we are doing well in so many of these and I can’t hardly take it.
In the past month, we have finally gotten a storage unit. We’ve filled about 1/4 of it and have seventeen years worth of belongings to go through still, but we will get there. We have a perpetual pile of junk that needs to go to the unit each week, which sits in our corner and it makes me so happy. I’m happy to move it. Happy to pack it. Happy to throw it away.  The kids have been willing to go through their toys and get rid of the ones that they don’t need immediately.  It’s so nice.

Friday, we got a text saying that a step at house A was broken and needed attention. Sunday, my Prince put in a brand new set of steps and it looks amazing. We had this on our To-Do list, knowing it would need repairing at some point, just hadn’t been a necessity. So sometimes, those late calls turn into blessings because they force us to check items off our lists!

Thursday, I came home from work and my Prince Charming was standing on top of our roof. He decided it was the day! He would finally, after 8 months of having roof sheets lie in our yard, put the roof on the house. In his defense, you cannot start a roofing project during a Michigan Winter and you cannot start a roofing project in a Michigan fall or spring: Snow, Rain, Rain. Day 2 of the roof being off of our house it rained slightly, for the first time in weeks, and now is blazing hot and we have record breaking heat right now. My poor husband. He is so red. But this afternoon, we will have a brand new, maroon roof on our green house. I am so very thankful for our friends and the church family we have- four men in our church came to help us out and lend hands on the hottest weekend of the year. We fed them taco salad and gave them lots of water and iced tea, but i know it’s not near enough. Now that this giant project is out of the way, a lot of other projects can begin. It’s hard to start projects when there is a huge one staring you in the eye every day.

We keep eating healthy. I cheat and eat pizza and I’ll never stop drinking pop because i just plain like it. But i drink less of it and more water. I get shock tarts every couple weeks and enjoy one bag for a few days. It’s the only way to live. I really don’t care to be 100% green all the time. It’s fun to indulge, you just have to do it responsibly. Just like anything else. PS I’m down 20 pounds and I can see it and feel it and my shirts reflect it. That means that the last shirt I bought was 2 sizes smaller than the previous one I was wearing. I also just want to say that I am down 20 pounds after pretty much quitting (i got bored) and after my step dad died, when i didn’t work out once in 10 days and ate what i wanted and sat on my couch in mourning. I’m still down 20 pounds. I’m 1/3 of the way to my December 31 goal with my dad. It’s a lot of weight, but it’ll be worth it. I started the 21 day fix, but did it my way. I am intentionally using it for the portion control, not because I overeat, but honestly because I under-eat and I don’t know what a cup of greens looks like compared to a cup of fruit, or what an appropriate serving of each would be. So using the containers helps me to see what MY body really needs every day. Using their app allows me to track my food and see when I’ve indulged too much or when it’s been 3 day since I’ve had any fruit. I struggle with fruit. So I’m being intentional with drinking it- in smoothies or in V8 Fusion, where you get 1 serving of Fruit AND veggies in 1 can. Some added sugar, but I lack in fruit so much that it seems worth it to me.

Saving more moolah is hard. We have bills, for sure. And now it’s summer. And I really like shopping. And i just spent two weeks in a grueling depression that I didn’t think had an end, until i forced my husband to kneel on the ground and hug me until i stopped crying. It broke the next day. Freedom came with that cry. So anyway, when i’m sad i shop………… and i spent a little bit of money in those two weeks. But yesterday, I got a raise at work and my second job just gave me a raise, too! So the extra money can get put towards the last couple of non-mortgage/student loan debts we have and will get us closer to a new house.

I’ve still only worn jeans 3 times this year and life is so good because of it.

 

Bye for now!

 

 

New Years Check In

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I am slow to post these days and I am fine with it.
I am spending my days at work a lot busier (most of the time).
I am spending my lunch hours raising the bar and lifting weights.
I am spending my evenings taking walks with my husband and recouping from the day. Cooking more. Cleaning. Enjoying my time with him when it is there.
So blogging is low on the priority list and I hope I haven’t upset you by not being here.

I realized I’ve only checked in once on my 2017 goals and now is a great time to do so again!

The StepMomma’s 2017 Goals:

  1. Decluttering
  2. Fixing up House A
  3. Fixing up House B
  4. Making healthier food and life choices
  5. Saving more moolah
  6. Paying off all debt (excluding student loans, mortgages)
  7. Weekly Bible Studies with the kiddos
  8. Reading my entire bible all the way through
  9. Hosting a Bible study in our home
  10. Becoming a DBA and LLC for my personal business
  11. More family time
  12. Learning to cook one decent meal for the family
  13. Only wearing jeans one day/week…
  14. Read more.

Some of these are a work in progress- like decluttering, making healthy choices, saving money, and having more family time. They always will be. As long as there is progress in these areas, I am so happy.

We have been boxing up as much as we can. We’ve found a couple items we wished we wouldnt have boxed up yet, but we will NOT pull them back out. Prince Charming almost boxed up our TV, but I’m not ready for that. We like watching movies on the weekends and we love our Wii lately.

Two weeks ago I talked to my dad on the phone and somehow he suggested we do a weight loss challenge, because my entire family is overweight, unhealthy, and making no signs of positive changes. I jumped on it. I like challenges and I need someone to hold me accountable. I invited my husband to join in and he will, once school is over. So right now, my dad, husband and I are in the battle of the fittest. Except we are all going to win if we commit to making better choices. I don’t really care about a certain number that I get down to- but I did set a goal for myself. I’m happy to see myself change. The first week I lost 10 pounds! Then another five, but those came back. So i have steadily lost 10 pounds in 2.5 weeks and I am happy about that. If I know that I am eating better foods and I am working out steadily- I don’t really care what my scale says. I know that I am doing good things because I can lift more than I did last week and I can drum longer without stopping for a drink. I can see change in this short amount of time and that in itself is encouraging. I have been to the gym 12 times in 2.5 weeks and the days I didn’t hit the gym, I worked out at home or went for walks with my husband. I think there’s only been one day of inactivity and in reality, I got my butt kicked at work that day and was lifting heavy equipment all day long- I count it as a workout almost.

We have successfully paid off all but one debt (which we are making payments on) and are now working toward student loan debt, too. It is so exciting to get statements with zeros on them! It’s tough to do when both of us aren’t working full time, but I am so grateful for even widdling them down.

We have spent a LOT of time together as a family lately. So much that I have been in need of some real s.p.a.c.e. lately. or a lot of time with just my husband. one or the other is rejuvenating to me. Two weeks ago we had the younger two kids on our Wednesday, the weekend, the following Monday. Then 17 came over on Tuesday, we had the youngest two on Wednesday and 20 came over, too. The two youngest came again on Thursday. So we had them every day for an entire week and I almost lost it. It’s so hard for me to not get a break. It’s so hard to come home and be drained from work and feel no release or sense of rest. To not be able to put a load of laundry in the washer without being nagged.. it can be daunting. I feel awful about it, but I can’t help it. My Prince questions whether I truly want a family. If I want kids of my own. And I can’t explain to him enough that it will not be the same. He just doesn’t get it. There is a difference in the longing that kids have for their mother and the type of attention they crave from me. It is so incredibly different that I can’t even explain it. They crave time with me but when they realize it’s happening, they put up walls and they scoot away. I do the same thing.

They get excited and want to share with me or play with me and I sort of freak out over the type of intimacy that I’m experiencing with them. Afraid that they’ll shut me out again or their mom will rip them from me, their dad will interfere. That they’ll look up and realize I’m not their parent and they shouldn’t be giggling with me so much. I don’t want to do that to my kids. But it’s how I function.

I have mastered a few meals! I just had my dad over on Sunday and cooked Honey Balsalmic Chicken and green beans for him. Prince Charming made some potatoes and a tarte for them. My dad was so pleased. he was so impressed to see me cooking something and that the seasoning that went on the chicken was homemade, not from a bottle. That i blended spices together to get this delicious tasting sauce to coat the chicken and beans in. It was so good. I felt so accomplished.

I haven’t worn jeans since January.

I have still only read two books this year, but I am working on a third and just taking my time doing so. What recommendations do you have?

 

how are your goals coming along?