Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Angie: A Mom Restored

A lifelong friend of 25 years is sharing today! Angie and I met when I was about 13 years old, we were going to the same church and middle school at the time, and she was 1 grade ahead of me. She and I have so much history I don’t even know where to start. We became very close friends pretty quickly and maintained it for over 6 years, she even moved from Clearwater to Clewiston with us for a short time. She is honestly a part of our family; she calls my parents “Mom & Dad” and has always had a place in our home and lives.  We did lose touch off and on for several years, but I love that we have always been able to pick up where we left off. I was trying to find some pictures of us growing up and managed to find a few, considering Angie and I were both blessed (or cursed) with a ton of naturally curly hair- every picture seemed to be of big, bigger, and biggest hair, lol.
Angie and I spoke a lot as she was answering questions for this post, and I was saddened to discover that as close as we were, I never knew how much turmoil she was going through inside. Angie was always the one to have fun and make you laugh; I have so many wonderful memories of our times together. There were times I was bit jealous of her ability to make people smile, whether it is through fun or her unbelievable voice. God has blessed Angie (and pretty much everyone in her family) with an ability to sing effortlessly- she could win American Idol at the tryouts alone! No matter, on the inside she was being torn apart.
Angie shared with me that she does want pity, but just wants people to know and see God in her journey. She is not proud of the choices she has made, but she is proud to show God’s faithfulness to her and her children. Angie is the story of restoration….

My name is Angie, I am a single Mom of two boys, Caleb is 17 and Joshua is 11. I come from a very complicated family, and many of the components of it had a negative effect on me. My Dad was always out working 2 or 3 jobs and my Mom had to raise 6 kids pretty much alone. Being the baby of the family, I kind of saw everything happening in the home- the good, bad, crazy and the ugly. At the age of 8 and again at 10, I was also subjected to some of the “ugly”- I was molested.
Considering I was already a very angry lil’ girl, these circumstances caused my anger to grow- which also influenced the angry, hurt, and bitter teen I developed into. In my later teen years, I was raped- and feared many things as a result. Being the product of not only the sexual abuse but observing and being a part of so much other unhealthy stuff in my family, produced a girl in her late teens and early twenties, drinking, smoking, dating (being with many different men). During this time, I became pregnant with my son, Caleb.
My Mom basically raised Caleb until the relationship began with my youngest son, Joshua’s, Father. That was a regrettable 3 years of my life. With so much pain in me that I never dealt with, I was everything but a healthy Mom to my boys. There was so much turmoil on the inside, there were moments that actually thought of killing myself and ending it all.
I wish I could say that all of the abuse ended with me, but then Caleb was also sexually abused as a child. The anger with my family and circumstances turned to hate with a vengeance, yet no one on the outside knew of my personal hell. You see I became really good at being fake, I played church so well. I continued to sing on worship teams and taking my boys and myself to church regularly.
Two in a half years ago I did finally say I couldn’t do it anymore- I was tired of being fake and living a lie. There had to be more to life, God had to love me and He had to be real. That was all I had to hold onto, that God had to be and have more. I made a choice to go on a journey to uncover, for the first time, whom I really was. The hardest part was to stop looking at myself as the victim and to take responsibility for my choices and myself. This journey sucks, it hurts and sometimes I have wanted to quit. But then I see my boys and myself changing and thriving, and again realize that we are all better for uncovering the ugly and making new discoveries. Will this journey ever be complete? That’s a big, NO! We all remain on a journey of embracing who we are, holding ourselves accountable, and implementing changes, as necessary- finally doing these things is the best decision I have ever made.

What is your biggest pet peeve with parenting?
The blessed toilet lid battle is probably my biggest pet peeve! Do u know how many times I have almost fallen in! Now I have a note in red marker right above the toilet reminding the boys to put the seat down..it works.

Do you have a funny/embarrassing story with your boys?
When Josh was 3, he and I and two of my sisters went to Village Inn to eat. Our waitress had like three teeth total, Josh found it necessary to point out that he had all of his teeth to her. What do you say to that?
With Caleb, we were also in a restaurant for a big group family thing. While waiting in line for our table, there was a black family waiting in front of us. When they were called to be seated, Caleb followed them all the way to their table. It wasn’t until they were sitting down that he realized it wasn’t us, it was hysterical!
Given the opportunity, what- if anything- would you do differently as a Mom?
Gosh, that is hard. I did the best I knew how at the time. But today, I know more and I
know better than I did then. Probably having more patience. I continue to struggle
today and I am having to practice it a lot.

What are your “non-negotiables” when it comes to your kids?
How many can I list here? 1.) Church 2.) Homework 3.) Eating 2 out 3 items on plate 4.) Toothpaste lid always on the toothpaste 4.) No laundry on the floor.

What was your biggest fear when you found out you were going to be a Mom?
My biggest fear, because of the circumstances I was in at the time, was that I would fail them. Although, I did make some choices, I did not fail them and am proud of the Mom I have evolved into and of the young men I am raising.
Caleb is a great football player, he helps in children’s church, he always apologizes for any outbursts he may have, and he loves his family unconditionally. Josh is very compassionate and tender. He loves to sing (just like his Mom) and is a very friendly young man. I am proud of who they are becoming and it brings me peace and joy to know that, even with my imperfections, I had something to do with that.
The boys and I had a heart to heart about a year ago. I had to ask them to forgive me for my choices and things that had transpired through out the years. That was a pivotal point in our relationship, a real turning point. We talk and they share everything with me, no judgments just lots of love and guidance. I love my job being a Mom now.

Do you have a funny “labor” moment?
With Caleb, I kept yelling, “I need to poop..” during the pushing stage. Finally, the doctor yelled back for me to “go ahead and poop already!” (This is just Mom’s reading this, right?)
With Josh, I had to have a C-section, I refused to go into surgery until the doctor found and showed me the authorization to tie my tubes! It was a very funny moment.

What is your “secret” addiction or obsession?
My former addiction would have been smoking. Now it is painting my nails!
I have to have my nails painted, I feel naked without it! I have every shade of nail polish imaginable!

One thing that you do for your kids- because you love them- but you absolutely dread it every time!?
Making Caleb peanut butter n jelly sandwiches. As much as I dislike it and he is more than big enough/old enough to do it himself, I still do it for him- probably my way to keep him “my baby” a bit longer. With Josh, I hate, hate, hate, did I say hate; I hate doing math homework with him.

What is something you said you would NEVER do with/to your children that you have found yourself doing?
Nagging, I always said I wouldn’t nag my kids (because my Mom was a bit of a nagger). So, instead I have taken to posting notes all over the house, that way, instead of opening mouth to nag- or repeat myself- I just point at the note. Pretty ingenious if I do say so myself!

Your biggest Mommy “Aha” moment?
When I saw Caleb in the ultra sound for the first time, I was flooded with so much love for him. In the beginning, I was so ashamed and scared that I was a pregnant and single and not in a relationship- not to mention the shame that I felt from parents and family. It was pretty obvious that I had been a huge disappointment. So, I spent the first few months (in a home for “unwed Mothers”) of that pregnancy trying everything to miscarry the child. Seeing Caleb’s beating heart and watching my child on that screen changed everything.

Do you ever deal with “Mommy Guilt”? Why?
I fight Mommy guilt daily. I have made some pretty crappy choices in my life and those choices did effect my lil’ guys. I do the” if only game” a lot. I have realized though, that game doesn’t help my boys or me. That is an area I am really working on and it has gotten better.

Do you remember your first thought as you held/saw your child(ren) for the first time?
With Caleb, his head had been “stuck” in the canal for a while so he had quite a cone head going on. I found myself praying that his head wouldn’t stay that way.
With Josh, I instantly checked out his head! What relief that it looked perfect and he didn’t have a cone!

What is the best piece of advice you could give to a new Mother?
Get away from being caught up in what Dr. Phil says the books say. Rather, enjoy and embrace every moment, the good the bad and the ugly.  Try not to have to high of expectations for yourself. Admit when your overwhelmed, ask for help, take naps, and avoid perfection.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Oh, No She Didn't....

Touchy topic! As Mom's, we have our standards, rules, and our major pet peeves God help the person who crosses any of them at the wrong (or any) moment.
The other day the whole family went to the library, we also had the baby girl I baby-sit with us. It came time for us to go and check out our HUGE stack of books. I tend to always use the self-check out because I am too impatient to wait in line for the slow library workers (kind of rude, I'm working on it). While Lupe and I were getting all of the books checked out, I instructed my girls to sit on the floor beside me with the baby carrier to wait, and they did so nicely. My "Mommy Alert" (you know, that chilling feeling when the hair stands up on the back of your neck because you know you just heard/saw something inappropriately directed towards your children) went off as I heard, "You girls need to get off of that floor, it's very dirty and you should not be sitting on it!" Hahahaha (in an evil tone), I know that lady was just talking to my kids (who were sitting perfectly criss-cross-applesauce and VERY quiet). My kind response was, "It's okay, and they are doing exactly what I asked them to." What I really wanted to say? "Would you rather them standing up jumping, running, swinging off of the dividers like the others?" or "Maybe you should talk to the library about cleaning their carpets rather than correcting children who need no correction?" or "Thank You, but they have a Mom and it's not YOU!" I know, not very Christian of me- aren't you glad I gave her my first response? Which of course she said, "Well, these floors are really dirty and..." which is where I stopped listening and turned away (for her sake and mine).
Now, don't get me wrong- there are times that I welcome someone to step in: when a child is in danger, clearly breaking a rule or needs some type of help. But, when a parent is very present and the children are being of no problem to anyone- I think you may cross the line.
Wouldn't it be more appropriate, to go up to the parent and say quietly, "I just wanted to let you know that these floors aren't the cleanest just in case you were concerned about that type of thing..”? We teach our children not to talk to (or listen to) strangers universally, yet a stranger steps in to correct a child who is doing no wrong in front of a parent.
I remember one time picking up Tenly from school; you only walked up the sidewalk to get them- you did not have to go inside. Gianna was asleep, I did not want to wake her- so I did the unthinkable- I let her sleep in the car as I walked up the sidewalk (our car had key-less start up, so I did not leave the keys in). I did get "reprimanded" for doing that by one of the school workers. She nicely explained to me what I already knew, but obviously needed reminding of. It's not fun being corrected as a Mom, but done in the right manner and circumstances it can be a much needed and welcomed learning experience that will bring change and better parenting. Let's just say, I have never since left my child in the car- key-less start up or not.
Maybe I am to sensitive, or maybe I should be more concerned with dirty floors than I am (they are kids, 75% of what they do has to do with some type of germs or dirt). But, I do not appreciate another person (especially one I do not know) correcting my children- especially for being obedient to their Mother. As much as I would think this is common sense, it apparently isn't.
Believe me, I have moments when I see kids doing something and it takes everything in me not to take them up to their parent and yell, "Have you lost your mind? How could you allow...!!!" But, I know my place and that isn't it! I will be the first to step in and help a child in need and given the opportunity have a word or two with the parent.
A couple weeks ago, I took the girls and I had a play-date with a friend and her kids and we took them all to the pool. While there, another little girl kind of attached herself to our group and we all welcomed her. She had no floaties/life jacket on, so I assumed she could swim- that is until she stepped off the steps and went under. I quickly grabbed her up and back on the steps, I then asked where her family was and she said they were inside playing paddleball. Ummm, excuse me!? What kind of parent leaves a child who cannot swim unattended...and without any type of safety device!!?? What would have happened if I hadn't been standing there? Believe me, my friend and I were about to come unglued at someone being so irresponsible with their child, their most precious gift. Yes, that would be a time (and was) for words to be said- kindly, of course.
Enough rambling! Obviously, this is a major pet-peeve of mine! I respect "parenting boundaries" and would hope that others would do the same. Since this is probably not the last time it will happen, I need to continue to pray that God would help grace to abound from me...something else I am continuing to work on, lol!

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Is It Ever Okay To Walk Away?

I like to think of myself as a good friend...not a perfect friend, but good nonetheless.
What defines a good friend? Time, laughs, outings, talking, sharing, confidence, sympathy, empathy, listening, secrets, understanding, comfort...? What about when you are not getting these things from your "friends"? Which things are not negotiable and which are?
When do you know it's a good time and choice to walk away because the "friendship" is just draining you too much? Is there ever such a time that it's okay?
"You don't have a right to place blame or be angry if you have never communicated that there is a problem. You must give a person the opportunity to change and/or make it right."
That would be one of the statements I believe to be very true. Of course, that would require confrontation which is just so difficult- to difficult. For one, when a situation is brought up and confronted, you leave yourself vulnerable to hear that you may be just as wrong as you believe the other person to be. And two, you risk, and probably will, hurt someone you care about and may even lose them. Walking away is easier in some ways, but harder in others.
Confrontation is a good thing when done correctly. The person being confronted should never feel ganged up on, defeated or degraded. When communicating an issue, it should be done in love and under the covering of a lot of prayer. AND, no matter how disturbed you may be over a matter- you better be sure that God is leading you instead of your emotions and opinions.
If I am a true "good friend", don't I have the responsibility to tell my friend(s) (in love) when there is something going very wrong? Something that not only you are effected by, but others also.
I have one "friend" who isn't my "friend" anymore (yes, this does sound very high school). It came to my attention on Facebook of all places (yes, even more high school). I went to check out her page to see how she was doing and leave a little message when I realized I had been deleted. I thought this just MUST be an mistake, so I requested her as a friend again and then again, and well- it went completely ignored. Now, I don't want someone to be my "friend" out of obligation, but please give the opportunity to either defend myself and/or apologize if I have done something.
This whole thing bothered me the most, because I have no clue what I really did- I have an idea of something it may have been- but I don't know. If I did do something, I was never given the opportunity to make it right. Assuming I did do something wrong, I could of learned, grown and apologized if I would of been given the opportunity (shocking that I am imperfect).
Considering there have been times in my life that I have been lonely without friends nearby, I realize the value of friendships. I do realize that even if I were to distance myself, it is never okay to be hateful or angry- that goes against everything God has instructed me to do in His Word.
So, I guess I have answered my own questions as I type.. Distancing yourself is okay after you have communicated and given the other person the opportunity to explain/change. No one deserves to be written off without explanation or opportunity. Regardless, God requires me to pray, love and care for my friends, even when they drive me up the wall! If I communicate my concerns and issues with my friend, with the right heart, and they choose to continue "draining" me, then that may require some distance- after a lot of prayer.
Proverbs 17:17 says "A friend loves at ALL times.."
Which tells me I better love the good, the bad, and the ugly.............

Thursday, July 26, 2012

30 Days To School Memories

Tenly's 1st day of Kinder
I know I am not the only one thinking about school getting ready to start as August approaches. The school supply lists, what teacher will they have, who will be in their class, the backpack and lunchbox shopping, etc.
I also know I cannot be the only one who is excited to get back into a routine, but is also dreading losing control once again. Tenly is going into the 1st Grade this year and Gianna is starting PreK- for 3 hours a day I will be without children- what in the world am I going to do (don't worry, I think I will manage to find things to do fairly easily). The hardest part of my kids beginning school is the fact that I am not in "the know" at all times. I am having to put my trust and most precious gifts into the hands of others. "Will they have friends?", "Will they be scared?", "Will someone be mean to them?", "Will they stand up for themselves?", "Will their teachers 'care'?", "Will they remember where everything is?", "Will they ask for help?", my list could go on forever. 
I saw a post on another Blog (forgive me, I did not write the blog down, so this is not my brilliant idea- just my list) last year after Tenly had started Kindergarten. It was "30 Days To Kindergarten"- I hated I didn't see it in time, but vowed that it was something I would like to do every year counting down to school starting. So, I made my list last year- and although I haven't been able to really do it this year (I am babysitting an infant at home now), I still love the idea and think it something we implement more and more. So here it is for the Mom's out there who want to live life to the fullest before their babies begin their "big kid" journey...
You and your child (or children) make a list for every day of the month, each day there will be something that you do that is special or out of the ordinary. I remember the Blogger that the idea came from documented each day with a picture, which would be wonderful (I can see a great Shutterfly Photobook now!). An important part of the process is towards the end, you interview your child (I also think it would be fun for your child to interview you at the same time), ideally you will interview them with the same questions each year to watch how they change/develop/grow (I will put some questions at the very end of the Days). I know we are a little short of the full 30 days- but you could do a 20, 15 or even 10 day countdown.
[By The Way, I ran across this Blog, 30 Days To Kindergarten, (while trying to find the link to the other) that the Mom wrote something special to her son every day while making memories in every moment- it is a very touching read.]
31 Day Kindergarten (or School) Countdown
Day 1- Ice cream date to make our 30 day lists.
Day 2- Barnes 'N Noble Bookstore
Day 3- Fort building
Day 4- Artists Day: Coloring Books and Drawing 
Day 5- Scavenger Hunt 
Day 6- Swimming with friend of choice
Day 7-  Sidewalk Chalk
Day 8- Makeover
Day 9- Mani/Pedi
Day 10- Daddy's Birthday Celebration
Day 11: Movie Night with Blankets, Pillows, and Popcorn
Day 12: Visit Michael's for "Crafty Night" stuff
Day 13: Make Cupcakes
Day 14: Tea Party
Day 15: Bowling
Day 16: Bake a Cake
Day 17:  Pool time fun
Day 18:  Library Day
Day 19: Cook Dinner 
Day 20: Park Play Date and Lunch with Friends
Day 21: Play Do
Day 22: Lunch Date at Sweet Tomato's
Day 23: Game Night
Day 24: Mini golf adventure
Day 25: Canvas Painting for Bedroom Decor
Day 26: Museum Day
Day 27: Fishing
Day 28: Interview Questions (look below)
Day 29: Living Room "Camping"- continue Interview (look below)
Day 30: Beach Day
Day 31: Jaxson's Ice Cream
Interview Questions
Favorite color:
Favorite foods:
Favorite thing to do:
Favorite Friend:
Favorite thing to wear:
Favorite Toy:
Favorite thing to do with Mommy:
Favorite thing to do with Daddy:
Favorite movie:
Favorite place to visit:
Favorite book:
Favorite trip:
Favorite day ever:
Worst day ever:
Something funny that happened to you:
Something sad:
Something happy:
What I’m most thankful for:

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Time For A Facelift..

.. or, I guess it should say a "Bloglift". That's right, this Blog (and Mom) have evolved and that means I am making some changes. Let me explain a little.. I have "found myself" (not totally, but a good percentage)...
When I began this Blog (you can go back to the beginning)- I was selfishly doing it for me and this was one time I was okay with being selfish. I was about to take myself through a painful, but necessary, process of prying through the good, bad, and ugly of Jenn Garcia. I was proud of myself for finally being brave enough to face the true "Me" and deal with the many things I had been avoiding. 
The Blog was titled, "Jenn, Finding Myself Again.." and it has been documenting my process of trying to rediscover me, my talents, who I am at my core and what God has called me to. I felt my identity had been lost in "just" being a Wife and Mother. My first post was titled Jeremiah 29:11, at that time that verse was my lifeline.
I believe one of my first break throughs was when I made the Blog public. My survival for a very long time was based on how people perceived me- that's what had me on this impossible uphill battle to perfectionism, which I will never obtain. This process has taught me to give myself permission to "let go".
So, my discovery? My family is what God has called me to right now. I know this seems so "simple" and why has it taken me a year to come to the conclusion that being a Wife and Mom is sufficient? Maybe because it wasn't really as much of me losing my gifts, talents and abilities; but it was more about me not being able to locate them anymore underneath all of the anger, bitterness and junk I had allowed to corrupt my heart and mind.
My gifts and talents have never gone anywhere, and now I realize that I have my family to pour them into. At times, I have been given other opportunities to use them in other areas- but not at the expense of my family. 
Writing this Blog has given me the opportunity to connect with many other Moms’ and Women- that has been very refreshing! That takes me to my new objective for this Blog. It will be geared more towards Mom's- but Women also. Recently, I have been grabbing insight from so many other Mom's- because I felt it important that we learn and support each other instead of the need to "one up" or compete. I will be honest, some of the answers to questions I have asked have challenged me to reevaluate my ways, some have helped me embrace/understand differences and some have reinforced why I do things the way I do. I realized through the answers just how judgmental I have been towards Mom's who do things differently from me- I have a new appreciation for other methods and realize I can't judge because I don't know. The biggest shocker, I have made some changes in how I do some things after hearing how/what/when/why Mom's do things the way they do.
I will be continuing to spotlight other Mom's- I LOVE reading what they have to say! I will also be continuing to hit on a variety of other things as they come to mind or heart.
Thanks for sticking with me, following, and reading. The support has helped me in this process. If you have not joined this group, I ask you to do so and pass it along. The site will have a new title and maybe a new look; so don't be caught off guard next time you check in! Thanks for going on this journey with me....

Monday, July 23, 2012

Lane'e: Ice cream In The Shower, Gotta Do What'cha Gotta Do..

My friend, Lane’e took a break from her busy life to answer my many questions on “Mommyhood”. Lane’e and I go back (like so many others) to Texas Bible Institute. I actually met Lane’e's (very new) boyfriend, Jeremy (who would be her husband), first. Jeremy was actually in Lupe and my wedding; I remember when they were driving down to Florida from Texas the week before the wedding- all the guys said Jeremy was on the phone with Lane’e almost the whole time except when he was sleeping.
The rest is history; they were engaged and married a year later. I loved that I got to help Lane’e find her wedding dress, and even helped out at the wedding a bit (everyone knows how happy wedding stuff makes me).

Lane’e is an unbelievable Mom with 2 beautiful little girls (I love that there’s another Mom out there that takes and posts as many pictures as I do of their kids and family). She works tirelessly for the youth in their ministry along side her husband, but her family always gets that much more. It has been amazing to watch this young women develop into such an incredible Wife and Mother regardless of any circumstance around her, although I never doubted she would.

My name is Lane'e and I have 3 children, my 5 year old, Jaci, my 2 year old, Jeslyn, and my husband, Jeremy. Jeremy and I met at Texas Bible Institute, were married in 2006 and have been in youth ministry ever since. I am blessed to be able to stay home with my girls, but I do take part time classes at Angelina College.
I am working very slowly towards a teaching certificate while being a Mom and working with the youth. The church and students we serve are fantastic and we know we are right where God wants us. I always knew that God had called me to be in ministry, I just wasn't sure where. My journey as a Mom began very early in our marriage, but I wouldn't change anything. I am looking forward to the fact that in my early 40's we will be empty nesters, going on mission’s trips, and devoting our life even more to the ministry. I have learned that God is faithful and He always has a plan. I am living the life I have always dreamed of and I couldn't be more thankful.

Are you a scheduled or non-scheduled Mom?
I am definitely a non-scheduled Mom. I will say that this past year I have become more into a routine than ever before. I do believe that when my children get bored they get into trouble. I have thought about creating a loose schedule to try and follow, but I have yet to do it. It's just not my personality!
My biggest Mommy pet peeve? 
I could go on for days answering this question (as most Moms could). I would have to say my biggest pet peeve would be judgmental glances from strangers when I am correcting my children's behavior. Sometimes I was to ask them if they have any children for themselves, because if they did they would understand. I'm sorry if they don't like it, but my daughters will be well behaved and respectful. I need to add that I CANNOT stand when I see a child neglected or left in a car by themselves. I have on occasion waited for the parents to return and explain to them how dangerous that is. It just gets under my skin. 
My funniest "Mom/child" moment?
I have a whole library of these! One that sticks out in my mind happened about 1 1/2 years ago. We had recently moved to Lufkin and became the Jr. High pastors of Clawson AG. A lady from the church was bent down talking to Jaci and Jaci said, "You have yellow teeth, you need to go to the dentist!" I about had a heart attack! What do you say after a comment like that, no matter how true it might be? This came two weeks after seeing a lady at our doctor’s office that was missing some teeth. Jaci very innocently asked the lady "What happened to your teeth?" The lady responded, "I fell down." Jaci replied "Then why are they all black?" Mortified is not the word to describe my emotions. After these two incidents I made it very clear to Jaci, if she has a question about someone to wait until we are in the car to ask Mommy. I can't be upset with her though; she calls it like she sees it! 
What would I do differently as a Mom? 
This is a tough one, not that I am perfect by any means. I have a long list of Mommy mistakes that I wish I could change. I guess this is so hard for me because my children are still very young. I will have to say I wish I would of been more prepared for everything that Motherhood brought to me. I had Jaci 2 weeks before my 21st birthday. I think I would Mother differently had I been a little older. 
Do you have a Mommy confession?
I don't think I have anything exciting to confess. I did eat an ice cream cone behind the shower curtain the other day, so Jeslyn (2 yrs old) wouldn’t see me eating it. LOL that’s great parenting skills right there! Does the way you were parented shape the way you parent?
Yes, my Mother just oozed love for me, sometimes at a fault. She did the best she could and she loved me to the ends of the earth. I am very blessed to have such an awesome Mom. 
What are your non-negotiables when it comes to my kids?
I will not put up with disrespect towards myself or any other adult and I do not allow them to say hate, shut-up, stupid, or fat. Those are bad words in our house. Fat got attached to the list when Jaci (5 years old) told me that I was fat! Recently I have had to explain to her that these are not "bad" words, but they are not kind words to say.
Did you breastfeed your children? Did you feel pressured to or not to?
Yes, I did breast feed both of my girls for about 4 months each. I remember my Mother pounding in my head that I needed to breast-feed. Later I found out that she only nursed me for 18 days! The way she talked about it, she had nursed me forever. I do not agree with culture sending messages to Moms who chose not to or can't breast feed, that they are less of a Mother. It's your body a d your baby and you will figure out what works for you both. Something you do for your kids because you love them, but you absolutely dread it?
One thing that I do for my kids that I dislike it's brushing their teeth. That is my least favorite thing to do. Luckily Jaci can brush her own teeth now and I am working with Jeslyn.
Anything that you said you would never do as a Mom, yet you find yourself doing it? 
That would have to be picking my battles with my girls, especially the 2 year old. Pre children I would see a child doing something and I would think, I would never let my child get away with that. Now that I have children I have learned that you need to pick your battles. Not everything is important to go to WWIII on. 
Labor with or without drugs?
I choose labor with drugs. They are available so why not give yourself a little comfort. My Mom had me au natural and kudos to her! I think it's a personal choice that each Mom needs to make for herself. 
Have you had a Mommy “Aha” moment?
My most recent "Aha" Mommy moment was when I was having a difficult time with an impossible family member. This person would tear me down and just be awful. I have never stood up for myself against this person and I had decided enough is enough. Let's just say the phone conversation was not productive. She was having surgery that week so the girls and I made a card for her. I was trying to love her like Christ loves her no matter how nasty she spoke to me. Later that week Jaci kept going on and on about the card we made her, so she would feel better. Jaci didn't know about the phone conversation. Then it hit me, I did not matter how this person treated me, and all that mattered was how I responded. The example I give to my children is all that mattered. That changed my perspective big time. 
Best advice you could give a new Mom?
The best piece of advice I could give a new Mom is taking it easy, enjoy every moment, and don't overact. Sleep when the baby sleeps and don't be afraid to ask for help, even if it's only 10 minutes to take a shower. Put make up on and fix your hair every now and then, it will make you feel better. Don't neglect your relationship with your husband- that is very important!

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Stephanie: Determined To Be A Mom

No questions and answers today, rather a story. I asked my friend Stephanie to tell her story, and I will warn it is one of heartbreak and of celebration.
I met Stephanie when she was a student at Texas Bible Institute- Stephanie is full of life and fun! We were able to watch as Stephanie met the man that would be her husband- it was so special to see them fall in love and begin their life together.
When I first read the story you are about to read, I was overwhelmed imagining the difficulty. There is much to be taken away from what is written below, and I am so thankful that Stephanie (and Doug) was willing to tell their truth so that others can have hope…

"My name is Stephanie, my husband Doug and I will have been married for 4 years in November.  Before we were married Doug expressed to me how he wanted children, it was exciting to know that as his wife I would be able to give him his dream.  We talked about waiting until after our 1-year anniversary.  I began birth control and we were very careful. 
When the time came, I stopped the birth control and we did everything we could to conceive.  After a year of trying with no success, we decided to stop and just let it happen. I began to blame myself for not being able to give my husband what he wanted – that resulted in me locking myself away from him (I avoided letting him touch me or even have sex with me as much as possible) 
A few months later, in October 2010, we discovered we were pregnant.  We were overwhelmed with joy and couldn’t express enough thanks to God.  We were 12 weeks along when we decided to tell our family.  I was feeling great until one day at work I started to bleed and my mom told me we should go to the hospital and have it checked out. When we got to the hospital I told God whatever happens He is in control.  They discovered that the baby was only 6 weeks along, but my uterus was 12 weeks.  They could not find a heartbeat so they sent us home and told us to “let nature take its course”.  The day we miscarried was the worst day of my life.  It was so painful I felt like I was in labor.  When the baby passed, I caught it in my hand; it was so sad and I felt defeated by God and everyone in the world.  Eventually, I came back to reality we decided not to try again for a while.  BUT, we discovered in December 2010, that with no trying we were pregnant for the 2nd time.  It was VERY unexpected and part of me wasn’t sure I was ready to do this again.  I was so shocked; I took 5 pregnancy tests to make sure I was seeing what I thought I was seeing, we gave all the glory to God.  We had our first OBGYN appointment in January 2011 that’s when we discovered that the baby had no heartbeat but the doctor was sure the baby was just too small to hear or even see one. So we waited 2 weeks and went back and that’s when we found out we lost another child. 
I felt like my life was over and I didn’t want anything to do with life or even God.  I stepped down from the praise team, from the youth and from all my responsibilities to do with the church.  I wanted nothing to do with God or the church.  I felt like God let me down.  I didn’t understand why ME or US in this case.  One day I was sitting at home in my own pity party thinking, I’m better than this.  So I got up and changed my mindset.  That day we decided to not try until we were ready and comfortable with the idea of being pregnant again. 
So in September 2011 we discovered we were pregnant again; a few weeks later in October 2011 we learned we had lost this little gift also.  My heart was overwhelmed with sadness and I was concerned that I would never be able to give my husband what he always wanted.  I felt defeated once again.  I told Doug that I was sorry; I felt like it was my fault because it was my body.  We once again decided not to try again; we were going to once again wait on God. 
In late 2011 we went to a high risk OBGYN she said we shouldn’t give up but maybe we should look into in vitro or something like that.  We decided for us this was way too expansive and we would just wait on God.  We had to completely give everything to God even the babies we lost.  We chose not to talk about the other miscarriages and just to put it all behind us.  I’m not going to lie, it was hard but we did it.  We decided not to be intimate with each other for a few weeks until we were ready.  So when the time came, we were intimate- just 1 time.  When God says it’s your time then it’s your time. 
On December 22, 23, 24 of 2011 I took a pregnancy test without anyone knowing.  When the first test came back positive I had to sit down because I just could not believe my eyes.  I called my mom and told her I was pregnant but couldn’t see how, we were intimate only once in the last few weeks.  She told me “Baby it’s a GOD thing.”  That’s when I knew this pregnancy was going to be different than any other pregnancy we had gone through.  I just knew God was in all this and it was only Him that could have made this happen. 
I held out telling Doug and the family till Christmas.  So, needless to say, it was a very exciting Christmas!  We had decided to not tell any other family or friends until we reached the “safe” point.  On our first OB appointment we were able to hear the heartbeat and it was in the high 160’s.  When we were 14 weeks Doug said I think it’s time to tell the good news.  So we did.  
This has truly been the biggest miracle and blessing we could have ever asked for.  We truly see why we have gone through this, Doug and I would not be the people we are today if we had not gone through what we went through.  I LOVE and respect my husband more today than I had ever thought I could.  He is my strong hand and I just know because of the man he is today that he is going to be the world’s greatest daddy any little girl could hope for.  We are truly blessed and with 5 weeks to go I feel love for this little girl like no other.  We can’t wait to see our AliMae Lynndi Billingsley. We wanted to give her a strong name so we named her after my grandmother who has passed away, Linda Mae Plaisance Cantrelle.  We are a close family and I have to think that she would be a proud great-grandmother."

Stephanie has agreed to do a follow up post after Miss AliMae arrives with tons of bragging pictures to go along. I ask that everyone who reads this will keep this incredible family in your prayers as they are about to embark on one of the best journeys ever…parenthood.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Tarah: Honesty is The Best Policy

My friend Tarah is sharing today. I met Tarah after moving to Texas; she had just graduated from TBI and had started working on staff for the ministry for a few years. Love and Stephen Gonzales won her heart and whisked her away to start their “happily ever after”. Tarah is so wonderful, strong and full of wisdom, but the one thing that stands out to me is her beautiful sense of style. She’s one of those girls you look at and wish you could put stuff together like that (at least I do). Here’s a little bit about Tarah and her Mom journey…
 I'm Tarah, a working mommy of two and a wife to the man of my dreams. I met my husband Stephen while in Bible College. We became friends at first, but were both in separate relationships at the time. We would never have dreamed, back then, that we would one day spend the rest of our lives together. Following Bible School I got a job on staff at the Bible School Ministry. Four years after having meeting Stephen, he came out to the school one weekend for a retreat. Our friendship rekindled, which eventually became a marriage. Four months after being married we found out we were pregnant with our first we were so ecstatic! (We had no idea how unprepared we were!) I wanted a boy so bad, I don’t really know why- I would even say to myself I don't have anything against little girls so why do I want a boy so bad?? A few months later we found out that that desire of my heart came true, we were going to have a son named Judah. 
Judah has been such a joy to my life. He is so tender hearted, ready and willing to learn EVERYTHING. He has a silly sense of humor and his own way of doing things. Judah does not have to 'fit' in to the crowd; he does things on his own and minds his own business. He is very much an individual.
Stephen and I were very happy with our little family, and didn't quite know if and when we wanted another child. But, needless to say when Judah was 1 and 1/2 we found out we were pregnant with our second. I was happy, but I didn't quite know how I was going to handle two kids financially, physically, emotionally...etc. We had our little girl, Adah, in September- I was so excited to dress her up in frills and bows.
My little girl has become the delight of my heart; she is strong willed and acts like she is 10 months going on 10 years. Adah is very determined and won't let anything get in her way. She is also very analytical and observant; she picks up on things quickly and already has quite a vocabulary at 10 months. This little girl has truly blown us away and become the completing component to our family; I couldn't imagine my life without my kids.
Are you a Scheduled or Non-Scheduled Mom? What are the benefits and downfalls to your choice?
When I was a stay at home Mom...yes, I was very scheduled as far as feedings and sleep times. But as I’ve started working full time again, I give the babysitter a guideline and then let her take it from there. I've learned to be flexible in this area.
What is your biggest Mommy Pet-Peeve?
I absolutely hate whining!! My sweet little boy has a talent for it that is teaching me patience (big area I’m working on!!) I've learned that usually when he's whining it's because he wants or needs something. Since he is approaching 3 we are learning how to use our words to ask nicely!!
Your funniest/most embarrassing “Mom/Child’ moment?
Shortly after having Adah, I was learning how to get to church (and other places) in one piece. I made it to the nursery with both the kids and one of the nursery workers informed me that the lining layer of my skirt was nicely tucked into my panties!! Uhg...they understood because they are moms. But, my husband is the student pastor at our church so no telling how many other people saw me on display as I walked it!!
Given the opportunity, what- if anything- would you do differently as a Mom?
Oh man so many things I would do differently, and my kids are still young! I know one thing; I would have NEVER given Judah a drop of Juice, EVER! Even though we diluted it with water the child got seriously addicted. BIGGEST. MISTAKE. EVER.
Did the way you were parented shape that way that you parent your own children? YES!!! I find my self always thinking what would my mom have done in a situation. Since I’ve grown up, I ask her for advice often. I think I perceived her as much more strict than she actually was when I was young. I lean on my Mom a lot. Sometimes before I discipline my kids, I make a quick call to my mom to ask her its ok or what I should do. Ha, my kids don' t have a clue that I don't know what I’m doing!!
What are your “non-negotiables” when it comes to your kids?
Naptime is definitely a non negotiable for me. I have much happier kids and they have a much happier Mommy after they have a nap!!
What was your biggest fear when you found out you were going to be a Mom? Honestly with Judah, I wasn't scared at all (but I should have been) we were in no position to have a child, I thought I knew more about kids than I really did. But Gods grace got us through and he provided. Judah is one of the greatest gifts God has given me. With Adah I had a little bit more of a head on my shoulders but wasn't expecting to have a second just yet. God had spoken to me about her a couple months before I found out I was pregnant and He gave me her name. I laughed and said well that won't happen for a while if AT ALL. A couple months later, boy were we surprised. SO surprised, I cried although I knew it would be ok. I was very confident telling Stephen it would be a girl and what her name would be. God has taken care of us tremendously with her.
Did you breastfeed- why/why not? Did you feel pressure to/not to?
With Judah I tried it once but he was sick and had to be in the NICU. I was so overwhelmed; the nurses insisted it would be ok to put him on formula.. so I did. With Adah I was determined to breastfeed, it was painful and I hated it, but I was still determined. I tried for a week but my milk didn't ever come in significantly. Stephen finally talked to me and told me it was ok to not breastfeed her; she would be fine, so I reluctantly stopped. She has been a very healthy happy baby and I have no regrets now.
 One thing that you do for your kids- because you love them- but you absolutely dread it every time!?
I let Judah watch Yo Gabba Gabba (sometimes), I absolutely HATE that show, but he absolutely loves it.
What is something you said you would NEVER do with/to your children that you have found yourself doing?
I said I would never give my kids Juice, did that- not with Adah though.
I said I would never cook separate meals; Judah is very picky, did that. We are working on his eating habits. If I can get somewhat of a healthy meal in him I am happy. Even if it means he is eating something differently than what we did.
And, I said I would never let my kids sleep in bed with me- did that. Adah never has, but Judah did all the time and still sneaks in every once in a while, they 
are just different kids.
Labor with drugs or without drugs?
Oh, definitely with!! I think it’s the most wonderful thing in the world!!
Your biggest Mommy “Aha” moment?
Realizing that everything is not a big deal, kids will learn and grow at their own pace. And letting Judah pick out his own Froggy potty was a big aha moment lol
What is the best piece of advice you could give to a new Mother?
Well, I think honesty is the best policy, and I don't feel like Moms are honest enough with each other. Being a Mother is one of the most extraordinary things you can experience in life, it is also one of the most challenging. It’s ok to not know it all, and to not be a perfect Mom. I have learned to admit my weaknesses to my self and to God. I am not perfect by any means as a Mother, but I have learned to humble my self, admit it, and rely on God's help and wisdom.
Newborns are tough. I was in shock at how much I had to get up at night- I hated it. Judah would wake up every two hours and feed for at least 30 minutes, I was getting about 4 hours of sleep at night. I was miserable and felt like it would never end and I would never enjoy being a Mom. But it DOES end. Eventually they will sleep and not cry as much, and you will enjoy Motherhood. Every stage is different and every stage has its wonderful moments and challenging ones. Bottom line is, God gives us kids to grow them up and he gives us kids to grow us up. I am so very grateful to him for allowing me the experience to be somebody's Mommy.