Tuesday, December 31, 2013

I'm a planner. Obviously Moses wasn't. {Lessons to be learned}

I have a goal of writing more each year than I did the previous year.

This post marks one more post than I did in 2012.

Made my goal by the skin of my teeth.

I thought about writing those three sentences as my post and leaving 2013 with it.

Then I decided I want to leave 2013 with hope and encouragement for 2014.

As I was ending 2012 I thought that the following year was the beginning of good things.

And it was.

Just not how I had envisioned those good things.

Part of me is afraid to hope for good things in 2014.

I'm not sure if I can handle another year filled with the 'good things' that 2013 brought me.

Then I found an article printed from a website lying on a friend's counter.

The title 'Can God Provide the Things You Need?' screamed up at me.

I struggle with this idea.

I like to think that I hold my future wrapped tightly in my fist.

I glanced over it, not having time to actually read it.  It is about Moses and the Children of Israel in the desert.  God provided all their needs.  The article shows how big their need was.

I jotted down the website so I could take the time to read it and let it all soak in.

I'm not going to share the article in its entirety.  Just a few brief points that stood out to me.

  • Moses needed 1500 tons of food each day.   We aren't talking a small snack here. 
  • To bring that much food to the desert, they would need two freight trains each a mile long. Thankfully, God doesn't need trains.  The wilderness is rather lacking in tracks. 
  • To cook the food they would need 4000 tons of firewood each day.  And I don't think there is an abundance of forests in the desert.  
  • Of course, water was needed.  If they used water sparingly, they would need 11,000,000 gallons of water.  Imagine if they were like spoiled Americans and demanded bottled water?
  • If they crossed two by two like all of the Children's Bible stories like to paint, it would have taken them 35 days and nights and the line would be 800 miles long.  Next time you are in line at an amusement park, imagine waiting to cross the Red Sea and being last in line.  Your line won't seem so long anymore. 
  • Because they needed to cross in one night, they went across (not two by two) but in rows of 5000.  I can't get my three kids to walk side by side.  Imagine getting that many people, who were scared and tired, to cross. 
  • Every time they camped for the night, it was like turning almost the whole state of Rhode Island into a giant campground. Their camp covered 750 sq. miles. 
What struck me most about the article was the comment at the end of the mind blowing facts.  It says: "Do you think Moses figured it all out before he left Egypt?  I think not."


Why do I think I need to figure it all out before I am willing to step out in faith?  

If God can provide for that many in the wilderness, He can easily provide for my small family of four.  

This past year I have had so many kind words said, beautiful letters sent, and wonderful emails written to me about this blog.  Thank you so much for each bit of encouragement.  I love hearing from all my readers across the globe.  I have had mentioned that some would like to comment, but don't want it published.  The comments are moderated by myself so if you would like to leave a comment, but want it unpublished just say so in the comment and I won't publish it for others to read.  Thanks again for the kindness that has been shown to my children and I.  Blessings in 2014.  I can't wait to see what it brings!  xoxo-j  

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Best Year {2013}

2013 was...well...was quite the year. 

In some ways the most eventful year of my life. 

I've had years where there was a big event.  Happen in singular form. 

This year just so happened to bring me big events...in plural form. 

I'm quite tired after living this year.  And at one point would have accused 2013 of being a bad year.  

Then I came across this quote:

I believe that if I'm living my life the way I should, the best year of my life will always be the last one that I lived. "Best year" doesn't mean that all of my hopes and dreams have come true. And a year where all of my hopes and dreams have come true wouldn't necessarily be my best, but perhaps just be my most unexpected one.” 
–Eli McCann

After pondering on what he meant; I realized that in some ways I could say that 2013 was my 'best year'.  

I grew in 2013.

I was 






However you want to describe it.  It happened. 

In Decembers past while reminiscing; I have said the same thing about those years.  That those were the years I grew the most.

Little did I know what this year would be. 

2013 was the year where I had to prove to myself that I was tough enough, that I could trust enough, that I was willing to grow enough, that I would fight for what I wanted. 


January was the finalizing of the kids' name change...  My name was changed the previous October, but the final court hearing for the kids' name wasn't until January.  A year later I'm still speechless when I try and describe the good that has come from pursuing this. 

February I finished classes.  Four years of essays, projects, and classroom discussions.  

Spring: Started networking on a more serious level.  

Baseball/Softball starts

Visited Hartford and personally met a network contact who introduced me to more.  Started a wild and crazy week filled with interviews.  

Beginning of summer break :-)

Football for the boys begin

August/September:  Both positions that were offered to me were closed by HR.  Fiscal year end/budget issues. 

I start a new job at a local hospital. 
Rhianna turns nine. 

We move from our little apartment to a small ranch home. 

Riley turns eleven, Reagan turns eight. 


I'm ready to take on 2014.

A little apprehensive...as it seems like each year gets more and more adventurous.  

Maybe 2014 will just be my most unexpected year.

Where all my dreams come true. 

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Christmas Sunshine Box

Christmastime can be hard.

Hearing others talk, I realize I'm not the only one.

The nostalgic times of childhood memories come back and it makes me remember people that are gone.

I miss my dad everyday; but Christmastime is always worse.

I struggle with being single; but Christmastime is always worse.

I don't know why.

Maybe I'm abnormal,

But I think I'm more normal that what I give myself credit for.


This Christmas we had so many surprises.

An envelope in the mail full of gift certificates for the kids and I.

We had so much fun shopping and finding treasures.

And eating out for dinner.

I have no idea who sent those gift certificates.

If you are reading this: thank you.

Thank you so very much.

You made our family very, very happy.


One night after working 2nd shift I found a bag of wrapped gifts on my front porch.

A card tucked inside that said "open a gift or two every day from now until Christmas...nothing exciting, just a little something for you."

We had so much fun taking turns each opening a gift.

There were fun straws, Oreos, pretzels, and other fun things.

It reminded me that it doesn't take anything big to bring a big smile to someones face.

I'm hoping to do this for someone next year.

To find someone who is having a hard time or just lonely.

Give them a Sunshine box to get them through Christmas.

To remind them that there are people who love them.


I don't know who gave us these gifts.  I can't thank them in person.  So I'm thanking them here and asking (once again) that my readers not forget the single moms that they know.

I have a church family who does so much for me.  I have tremendously generous friends and family who take care of me so well.

I am well aware that I am spoiled rotten.

It makes me feel guilty.

I know that there are other single parents who are truly doing it alone.

These people work in your grocery stores, they are your servers at your favorite restaurant.  They are your nurses, your school teachers, your children's friends parents.

Its so easy to point a finger and say that their decisions put them there.  Maybe so, maybe not.

Doesn't matter.

Doesn't have to be a box of gifts.

Just a smile.

Or a helping hand.

Or a bit of encouragement when they think they can't do another day.

Don't point fingers and please don't judge.

We do enough judging of ourselves.  We point our own fingers inwardly.

Giving a little sunshine goes a long way.  

Friday, December 27, 2013

And then there were two...

The pet store told us that a shipment of guinea pigs would come in on Friday.

I had off work on Thursday so I decided to call around to other stores in their chain to see if they had guinea pigs in stock.

We found one nearby and headed off to get Reagan's guinea pig.

You could feel the excitement in the air.

There were only 2 to pick from.  A brownish/blackish white one that was quite hyper and a black and white one that was quiet.

Reagan picked the black and white one.

He already had a name picked out.  Nolan.  After his best friend.

So now we have two...

Timber and Nolan.

I'm going to apologize for the poor picture quality.  My camera is bi-polar...sometimes its great and sometimes its not.  I'm sure it has more to do with the operator being clueless when it comes to taking pictures, but its easier to blame the equipment.  These pictures show the reason why I rarely post pictures on my blog...its easier for me to paint a picture with words than to post a bad picture. :-)  


I had to laugh when I wrote the title: "And then there were two"  

A year ago we had no plans of having a pet.  Then we had Chinchie .  After Chinchie died, I said I would consider getting the kids another chinchilla for Christmas if they still wanted a pet.  

How did I end up with TWO guinea pigs??  

Reagan wanted a female guinea pig so that we could start a guinea pig farm. 

They only have 20 babies a year, Mom. 

Thankfully, the pet store only sells males.  

There will not be a guinea pig farm at our house in 2014.  Or ever. :-)


The kids love their pets.  We are just getting to know Nolan, but Timber is quite the character.  He gets so excited when I get home from work, squeaking and hopping and jumping.  He sticks his little nose up to the edge of the cage wanting to talk to me.  

I admit... I go over and talk to him and it makes the empty house seem not so empty. 

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Missing Guinea Pigs

Rhianna saved her birthday money for months to get a guinea pig {more on that later}

Reagan decided he wanted one for himself.

Between getting the cage, house, toys, bedding, the piggie itself; it was the majority of his Christmas presents.

This morning I ran him to the pet store to get his new little guinea pig with the gift card I had wrapped.

He was so excited.

I wish I could write how his eyes twinkled and how he grinned his cute little crooked grin.

We walked in to the pet store and he went right to the guinea pig cages.

Only to be met with a sign that said "CURRENTLY OUT OF STOCK"

His little face fell and the look of disappointment was heart wrenching.

We went to the counter to find out when more would come in.


On the way home Rhianna was almost in tears.

I was almost in tears.

I told Reagan what someone tells me when I face disappointments.

'Have a good cry, and then move on'

He said "I'm okay Mom.  I don't need to cry.  I'm just really disappointed"

I am so proud of how he reacted.

He reacted so maturely.  

He has been waiting for months for this little pet.

I know that he knows that he will get one in just a few days but it was still so disappointing.

Technically its Tuesday

It is our family tradition to open gifts on Christmas Eve.

It started when I was a child.

Christmas Day was always so hectic that it just made sense.

It was always planned that we open Christmas morning but we would beg and beg to open 'just one' on Christmas Eve.

Just one soon turned into all of them.

Looking back I wonder if that was part of my dad's plan.  To tease us into thinking we were getting away with something special...when in reality it was always planned to open all of them.


I have to work second shift Christmas Eve this year.

Putting a damper on our 'opening gifts Christmas Eve night' plans.

I figured we could make a special day of it, getting up to a special breakfast and then opening gifts.

But when Riley suggested opening gifts tonight after I got off work because 'technically its Tuesday' I couldn't say no.

Because who am I kidding?

Like we would get up early and open gifts in the morning.

We will celebrate like the night owls that we are and open gifts promptly at 12:01 am Christmas Eve.


The night went exactly like I thought it would.

First a fight.

Then tears.

A lot of tears.

Me yelling and threatening unrealistically outrageous threats.

(Such as "you can all go to bed and we can open gifts next week if you don't quit the tears")

Then they all settled down and we opened gifts.

The boys seemed surprised and excited by the shared basketball arcade game.

Rhianna was so surprised and excited by the new CD player.

The best was when Riley said "Mom. I can't believe you would actually get me Madden.  Why would you go to all that trouble to find it??  I love it!"

Reagan can't wait to spend his gift card and pick out his guinea pig.


I think the night was a success.

It was a small Christmas in comparison to some.

But it was a huge Christmas in comparison to so many.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Reality Check {Hiking to Jerusalem}

This December marks ten year that I was baptized.

Ten years ago, I thought I knew what the Christian walk was all about.

I knew I had a lot of growing to do, but I didn't realize how much.

I assumed in ten years I would have it figured out.

Reality is ten years later I think I know less than what I knew then.

Or maybe that is growth.

The realization of how little we know.

Realizing how little we are.

Knowing that we are weak and tire easily.


The past few months, finishing up the roller coaster ride that 2013 brought, I felt like I was failing in my Christian walk.  And in many ways I was.  It felt that because things weren't falling into place and I wasn't feeling the warm feelings I thought I should be feeling that must mean I was doing something wrong.  Right?

It wasn't until I read Lynn Austin's book Pilgrimage that I realized that sometimes as Christians we struggle because of our mistakes but other times we go through a rocky time simply because we are Christians.

She writes about her journey to Israel.  {Seriously, get this book.  Not just at the library for a quick read, but as a highlight-make notes in the margin-read over and over-type of book.  Seriously!! Get it.}

I could try and describe what she wrote, but I would fail for sure.  Instead I'm going to share a small part that spoke loudly screamed to me:

When I look at this rugged terrain and the steep, breathless climb to Jerusalem, I wonder why we have tried to make the Christian life a comfortable one.  Why are we tempted to make our faith experiences all about "arriving", finding a great parking spot, resting on our achievements, building monuments and settling down?  I was guilty of doing just that....I'm learning that the spiritual life is all about change-moving forward and going steadily upward, growing closer and closer to God.  Its about sacrificing my will and my plans to His.

She describes the walk up to Jerusalem from the Jordan River as a difficult rocky climb.  How the city literally sits high on a rocky cliff-like hill.  How going up to Jerusalem on foot would require stamina.  How if we are truly on the road to the new Jerusalem it will require stamina.  We will tire, we might stumble, it will be hard.  

Reading what she wrote made me realize that while I haven't made the progress I thought I would have made in ten years, reality is, I've made great progress.  

I'm walking the rough, rugged terrain UP to Jerusalem.  

We're not supposed to be grazing in the green pastures.  

At least, not yet. 

Friday, December 6, 2013

O, Christmas Tree

It really wasn't a special occasion.

Commonplace; rather ordinary.

But to us it is was rather extraordinary.

We went and got a live tree for Christmas this year.

Why is this so special?

We've never had one.

And this one, we cut down ourselves.

I was a little apprehensive about doing this.  I didn't really know what I was doing.  I've never cut down a tree before and wasn't sure what all was involved.

We made it to the tree farm with 25 minutes before closing.  The men who helped us get our saw gave us a funny smirk.  I know exactly what they were thinking.  They thought I was crazy for taking three kids out to cut down a tree.  They thought we couldn't do it.  I had to laugh to myself. They obviously had never encountered us before.

We walked back through the field.  All the way to the furthest corner.  We occasionally stopped and inspected a tree, but we couldn't find one that quite measured up.  I kept reminding the kids that we had to get a little one because we had to get it in the Jetta's trunk.  I was secretly a little nervous about how I would ever make this happen.

After tramping through most of the field, we stopped and found the perfect tree.  The kids thought it was a little small, but it would do.

Riley started sawing.

And made it look easy.

Rhianna took a turn.

Reagan, determined, sawed some as well.

I didn't think we were making quick enough progress, so I said I would take a turn. I'm embarrassed to admit that I could hardly do it.  It was HARD!  I had to surrender the saw to Riley and tell him to keep working at it.

I was starting to panic.  It was getting dark, fast.  We were still sawing away and the end was no where in sight.  I was really getting nervous I was going to have to tramp back through the field and ask the guys to finish it off for me.

I didn't see it coming.  Riley, fed up from sawing, decided to hit it like a linebacker.  He ran a few steps, put his shoulder down, and knocked into it.

The tree came down.

My boy is becoming a man right before my eyes.

We loaded the tree onto the sled and started back.

We went in and paid while the men wrapped it tightly in twine.

When I came out of the shop, I noticed that there was a drive to pull around and have them load up your tree.  The line of cars was rather long and I was cold, tired, and starving.  I didn't feel like waiting to have them load up the tree for me.

I told Riley: "Let's carry the tree together and load it in the car."

He replied with: "I'll just carry it myself."

He picked the 6 1/2 foot tree up, flung it over his shoulders and carried it the quarter mile to the car.

I hope those guys who laughed at us earlier saw him.

It was a proud mama moment.

I know that a lot of people cut down their own tree every year.  I know that this isn't that exciting or special.  It's not getting the tree that was the achievement.  It was seeing my kids determined to get something they wanted.  To see them work together.  To see them get creative and find ways to solve a problem.  To hear them say "we won't give up".  If there is one thing I want my children to know from me, it is to never give up on your dreams.   Even if it is as simple as cutting down your own Christmas tree.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Total Trust

This past summer/fall was a hard time for me.

Things just weren't going as I planned and with that other things happened.

I found myself in a difficult place.  One I didn't know how to get out of.

I went to someone I have total trust in for advice.

They told me what they thought I should do.

And even though it was impossibly hard.  I did it.  I followed their advice.
One evening I was sharing this with a friend.  She asked how I could just not question things and just do what they told me {she agreed it was good advice...just hard to follow}.

I told her that I knew this person loved me.  I knew this person has only my best interest in mind.  I knew this person would only give me the absolute best possible guidance.  Yes, it was indescribably difficult, I knew that for things to turn out good I had to follow their advice.
In sharing this conversation with another friend, she said "Isn't that how we should be with God?
Just trust that no matter what He has the best intent for us."

It hit me that I don't have that.  Deep down, I don't have that total, unwavering trust.

I have a teeny-tiny bit of faith.

I know it in my mind.  I could probably recite multiple verses about it.

But I don't know it in my heart.  Right now, I'm not feeling the warm feelings of total trust.

I realize I have some work to do.

I want to get back to the point where I feel it in my heart.

Am I alone in this?

Or does anyone else question things?