Granny Gertrude ate lunch with my kids at school

I’ve always been told you need to have a variety of parenting tools in your back pocket. Meaning you can’t always whip out the same old “grounded from electronics” or “no car this weekend.”

So I consider my most recent creative parenting tool quite a success. Of course my kids don’t see it that way but maybe one day they will.

I take Spirit Week seriously at our kids school. You know the deal – your school does it too most likely. Each day has a theme. Crazy Hair Day, etc. Our school declared Monday to be Senior Citizens Day. And I had the perfect getup for it. And I mean perfect. Wig. Granny glasses. Hot Pink House Coat. And even a real set of dentures. (Thank you local dentist office for your support in the training and admonition of my children. )

But. BUT……my two precious chilrens – well, they refused to dress up. They were too cool for school.

After much pleading, begging and failed persuasion I sent the kids to school that morning in regular clothes. It burned me up inside. Letting them do it. Giving in to them.

But then I went to a Doctor’s appointment that morning and my Doctor, whose kid also attends our school, whips out her phone and shows me pictures of her kid all dressed up Granny style. She was adorable. And I was so jealous. So I read her my rant on Facebook that I just posted while in the waiting room which stated how mad I was that my kids wouldn’t dress up and that I was thinking about dressing up as a Granny and showing up to school because of it.

My Doctor totally encouraged me to do it. So did a lot of my friends on Facebook. So I took invented “Granny Gertrude” and showed up to school for both of my kids lunch breaks.

Meet Granny Gertrude…..

See Sophie’s reaction when she saw me coming with my decorated hot pink walker.

Who needs Botox when you can stuff a beach towel in your britches to fluff the fanny. Like I really needed it! LOL!!!

This is me with my son and his high school friends. When I told a “yo granny’s so ugly joke” I threw the false teeth out on the table and watched these young men turn blood red. I gathered my teeth and said a few words about school spirit and that perhaps tomorrow they would want to dress up. And then Granny Gertrude left the scene.

When I got the van I realized I had left my clothes at home so I had to wear my Granny Gertrude getup to the dentist office to return the dentures by a certain time. When I picked them up initially there was nobody in the waiting room of the office. But when I went to return them the place was packed! And get this – with all Senior Citizens that looked just like me! Not kidding.  I debated how I might return them without being seen but there was no way out. I had to go in dressed like I was and return the dentures. So I did. I have NO idea what those people thought because I never looked their direction. I got in returned the teeth and bolted out of there like nobody’s business.

The first words out of both of their mouths at carpool that afternoon:

9th grader: “Mom! How could you do that. You made me look bad!!”

4th grader: “Mom, I know what I’m going to dress up as for career day tomorrow! Which means you don’t have to come dressed up tomorrow. Right?!”

Needless to say both the kids dressed up the rest of the week.

Mission accomplished.

 

 

The gift of story

It’s always a gift to me when someone is willing to share his or her story with me. We all have a story inside of us and until we take our last breath our story is still unfolding. I’m a firm believer in the importance of sharing our stories with one another. It’s how we gain perspective and learn to appreciate differences in other people. God is the author of every story and so I’m convinced he loves us sharing his work with others for the purpose of showing him off.

I’ve had the privilege of hearing many stories over a kitchen table with coffee in hand or on the couch with feet propped up. Tissues nearby. Most all of our stories include a “rough patch” if you know what I mean.  These are the defining moments in our story that take us back to a vivid point and time. Sometimes it’s really hard to go back there and talk about those defining moments. I guess this is why I’m humbled and blessed when someone invites me in to hear or be a part of their story.

I never tell someone’s story unless they give me permission or allow me to share pieces without using names. Sometimes people need another person to help tell their story. In sharing over coffee and saying things out loud for the first time after having it in your head for decades can be a healing balm. And then to know that you are helping others can be another layer of healing from such a dry and barren season.

I’m not suggesting we all have to share our stories. Some stories aren’t ready to be unveiled and might not be this side of heaven. There might be too much raw pain to go public with a personal story. We should listen to those things. But when you sense the Holy Spirit nudging you to share do so with the purpose of giving God glory as the master writer.

In the weeks to come we’ll be hearing from some people who are willing to share their story in this space. I hope in hearing others stories we will be encouraged in our faith and encouraged to maybe share our own stories.

When’s the last time you shared your story? 

 

 

 

Infertility, Miscarriage, Still Birth and Abortion Support

Infertility, miscarriage, still birth and abortion are hard topics with deep, unique wounds associated with each.

We have experienced infertility and miscarriage and those were difficult days. I had a miscarraige very early in a pregnancy that resulted from IVF. My Doctor explained early on that my HCG levels were not normal and that the pregnancy would end naturally. Instead my HCG levels kept rising after daily checks to the point that we had a valid 8 week ultrasound report. Two weeks later I miscarried. These were painful days.

I can’t begin to imagine the pain related to having a miscarriage later in a pregnancy, having a stillborn child or having an abortion.

By God’s grace in our personal situation of years of infertility we were surrounded by an incredibly loving family and church family. Both sets of our parents prayed for us, encouraged us and supported us in big decisions we had to make. In addition our church family prayed for us and supported us also. God also used his Word and the Holy Spirit to minister to us through this time in some of the most profound ways. This blog is based on a verse that God showed me during those years of pain – Job 2:10 “Shall we accept good from God and not adversity?” So while those years of infertility were so painful we survived without becoming bitter or resentful. We had hope in the painful process.

Recent stats tell us that infertility effects 1 in 7 couples. And 10-20% of women who know they are pregnant have a miscarriage.

This means that if you have any sphere of influence other than your own backyard then you most likely know a woman who is going through infertility, has had a miscarriage or had an abortion.

Maybe she’ll share her struggles with you or maybe you’ll stumble on them.

What will you say? How will you encourage her?

This is where we make things harder than they need to be all because we don’t know what to say.

And I get it. I’ve said untimely strange things to people in an attempt to express my love and concern during difficult times. If we’re honest we’ll admit we’ve all said stupid things before. But can we just put our big girl panties on and acknowledge it, apologize if necessary and do differently next time?

Refuse to let your past awkward words paralyze you in such a way that you decide it’s just better not to get involved at all for fear of saying the wrong thing.

Loving others will be flat out awkward at times. But it’s totally worth the risk. The more we do it the less awkward. Or perhaps the less afraid we become of being awkward in our loving of others.

The other side of this coin is extending grace to others when they say something to us that is well intended but wounded instead. It happens. The quicker we realize this the better we will love each other.

There’s a resource I’d like to tell you about that I have found to be helpful over the past 15 years in dealing with these topics. From receiving personal help to knowing what to say and what not to say to people during times of utter pain.

Caleb Ministries  is a Christ centered ministry that addresses what we’re talking about at LIABOW today. Rarely do you find a ministry that deals with all of these issues specifically and in such detail.

One of their many sweet resources is a P.A.T box – Providing A Treasure

It includes a handmade burial gown, knit booties, baby hat, and a baby blanket. Also included is a book called “Morning will Come” by Sandy Day, Founder of Caleb Ministries. It really is a beautiful treasure for a young Mom and Dad who have just lost their baby.

Maybe Caleb Ministries is a resource that could help you or a friend. Being aware of these resources is helpful because we never know when we or someone we know will walk through a journey that involves these painful things.

Have you walked through any of the things we talked about today? If so, how did God meet you in the midst of your pain? I’d love to hear. 

 

 

 

Live Full Walk Free Bible Study – a word from the Author & a giveaway!

I am so excited to introduce you to Cindy Bultema, a sweet friend and Bible teacher that I have grown to love over the years. I’m still not even sure how our paths first crossed but it had to do with Shamrock Shakes from McDonalds. I’ve read all of Cindy’s Bible Studies and I love her because she’s so very much like you and me and has an ability to teach God’s word and connect with women of all ages and seasons of life. Even hard seasons that include rock bottom. Not everyone is willing to talk about their “rock bottom” with the grace and balance that Cindy does. This is why I keep coming back to her studies. Her blog. Her resources. In fact I’ve just started her brand new study Live Full Walk Free! More on that later. First I want you to get a glimpse of Cindy’s heart by hearing her words in this post. 

Meet Cindy:

High school was not kind to me.

Although there are a few fun memories – cheering for the freshmen basketball team, attending a zany psychology class, passing drivers training – I’m glad I never have to return to those four agonizing years again. Ever.

Mostly my adolescent days were filled with intense loneliness, rejection, and a bottomless longing for acceptance and love.

I’ll never forget the day I thought I finally was on my way to high school recognition. A fellow classmate shared she saw something written about me in the girls’ bathroom. Really? Me?!

I ran to the south side of the building as quickly as my clog-wearing feet would take me. I couldn’t wait to examine what someone had taken the time to reveal publicly about me!

I pulled open the heavy wooden door and scanned the chipped bathroom stall’s exterior. Then I spotted the six words that would shape my life for the next two decades…

“Cindy is a fat red cow.”

And on that dreadful day those six words attached to me like a sticky, descriptive name tag.

As the years went on, I may have appeared happy and self-confident. But beneath the cheery smile and bubbly personality, remained an injured and insecure young woman meticulously attempting to cover up the pain, and striving to protect herself from ever being hurt or teased…again.

I wonder if you can relate, sweet friend? What labels have attached to you over the years?

  • Not good enough
  • Stupid
  • Ugly
  • Fat
  • Not wanted.

Thankfully my story has a joyful ending. In 1996, in the midst of a drug and alcohol addiction, I was introduced to Jesus, and surrendered my life to Him. As I began to study the Bible, I quickly discovered God says I am….

  • Accepted (Romans 15:7).
  • Beautiful (Ephesians 1:3).
  • Chosen (1 Peter 2:9).
  • Dearly Loved (1 John 3:1).
  • Enough (2 Corinthians 12:9).
  • Forgiven (1 John 1:9).

My dear sister, you are too!

In Christ, we have been given new, Truth-filled, life-giving labels to wear. We all have.

Regardless of where we have been. Regardless of what we have done.

And in Christ, not only are the old labels erased, they have been replaced with power-filled words of Truth. Only God can do that!

What label are you wearing today? Did you put on “loved,” “significant,” “courageous” – or are your old labels trying to impact your new days?

May we say “no more” to not-nice nametags, lying labels, and sassy self-talk. Instead, may God infuse us with a fresh faith to “put on” Truth each day. His Words are always a perfect fit!

Be reminded of God’s power-filled words of truth with these free A-Z Scripture Cards available for download at http://www.cindybultema.com/live-full-walk-free/.

_________________________

With nearly 20 years of ministry experience, Cindy is a popular women’s speaker, author, and Bible teacher. But don’t let her cheerful smile fool you—Cindy has endured single parenting, overcome bondage to addiction, and survived tragic loss.

Cindy’s latest Bible study, Live Full Walk Free: Set Apart in a Sin-Soaked World http://www.cindybultema.com/live-full-walk-free/ was released in December 2016. Cindy lives in Michigan with her husband and their four kids. Most days you can find Cindy walking her beagle Rocky, attending one of her boys’ hockey games, or serving hot lunch at her kids’ school. Visit Cindy at www.cindybultema.com.

You guys – the Bible Study is really really good and the A-Z Scripture Cards are Awesome. Do you even know how many packs I’ve given away to people? Even danger stranger giveaways. I’m serious. Get you some! 

Cindy is donating a copy of Live Full Walk Free and a pack of A-Z Scripture Cards to a reader today. Just leave a comment on my blog and I’ll have the kids draw a name out of the hat. Umm yes, I did say drawing out of a hat. Sometimes I defy the high tech way of doing things and go old school. Actually I just don’t know how to do it. Ha! Be sure to leave a way for me to contact you in the case YOU are the winner. 

 

The Voices you Choose to Listen To

Oh friends this post has been burning in my heart for a very long time.

We must be careful who we choose to listen to as Christ-followers. There are many Christian leaders who love God and have a genuine heart in loving others but they are dangerously missing the mark.

Missing the mark by adding human preferences and ideals to God’s words. Saying things like, “I just can’t imagine that a loving God would  ____________.”  or “God’s love would never allow him to _________.”

I read recently a Christian woman say, “If your theology is not changing and evolving then you are not paying attention.”

I’m not sure how I feel about that statement. I really resisted it at first.

Theology is the study of who God is. And God never changes -according to Himself. The fact that God never changes is a comfort and a wonderful truth we can hang on to forever.

We change and our understanding of God changes as we get to know him by reading the Bible. As we see and hear of him through solid teaching. As we see him in the faces of the needy and marginalized that we serve.

But sometimes our view of God changes based on our circumstances and we decide to impose human standards and characteristics on God. And therefore we come to wrong conclusions about the theology of God.

Friends, we don’t get to make up the theology of God. God tells us who he is in the Bible. And this is primarily where our understanding of God will come from. God doesn’t change. Theology doesn’t change.

My husband always says, “Theology is precise.” And he’s not a grace slayer with a capital T- truth sword ready to whack people but he understands and has helped me understand the importance of communicating clearly the whole truth of God’s word while loving and extending grace. Both can happen. Both need to happen.

We won’t always get it right. We learn as we go. Sometimes we’re heavy on truth and not enough love. Enter the term Christian-jerks. The arrogant desire to prove rightness for the sake of being right ends up hurting so many people. It’s why wounded people leave the church. Who can blame them.

Other times we extend mounds of grace and love so much that we end up enabling someone in their own sin by never sharing the truth of God’s love. The more we build a relationship with a person the more we love them. And then the closer we become to them the less we want to hurt their feelings by speaking truth to them. Truth that will ultimately set them free and lovingly release them from captivity.

Beth Moore recently said these powerful words of caution at Passion 2017:

You will watch a generation of Christians — OF CHRISTIANS — set the Bible aside in an attempt to become more like Jesus. And stunningly it will sound completely plausible. This will be perhaps the cleverest of all the devil’s schemes in your generation. Sacrifice TRUTH for LOVE’s sake. And you will rise or fall based upon whether you will sacrifice one for the other. Will you have the courage to live in the tension of both TRUTH and LOVE? -Beth Moore

I want to live in that tension don’t you? It’s not easy but let’s pray and ask God to help us with this. Let’s pray for each other. And then I believe with all my heart we can wait in expectation to see what God will do through the power and love of his message for all people.

The back story of my Family Dollar car incident

So we got ourselves a brand spankin’ new Family Dollar in town. And the kids and I went the first day they opened and were so excited to drop in. BUT we couldn’t find a parking space so we had to circle around and leave.

Well there was a car in front of us and she was waiting to pull out. So we just waited behind her. With all the time we had I decided to roll down my window, hang my head out and proceed the tell the 5 managers that were all circled up slightly behind our van talking that I was so excited they were opened but they could use more parking.

I was pretty sure they hadn’t thought about this and I was just trying to help out. As if they could just address the issue of adding more parking places so easily. Not sure what I was thinking. So I’m in the middle of sharing my feelings – yes, with perfect strangers – when all of a sudden I hear every single one of them start yelling very loud. They’re shouting and pointing, “Hey, NO, STOP!! STOP!”

I immediately felt bad and it shut me up on the parking advice for sure. Apparently I had crossed a line and offended them by my words.

And then we felt it.

And heard it.

*Crash. Bang. Crunch.

The car in front of us – that I never saw coming because my head was literally hanging out the window and looking back – was unknowingly in reverse and gunned it and rammed into our van.

And then took off and left.

Thankfully all 5 of the people saw everything. In detail. As in wrote down the description of the car and tag number. So when I called the police they got all the important information – down to the side of the car the donut was on.

I really didn’t know what to do at that point.

Do I apologize for talking about the lack of parking?

Or do I thank them for getting all the information to hopefully catch the chic that hit us?

So what did I do?

Well, I just verbally threw up and rehashed the entire story that THEY had just lived through right back to them like a pyscho-nut-job.

They just stared at me.

And this is how we roll in this family.

This is why we’re so messed up.

This. Right here.

 

 

Seductive Senior Pictures

I’ve started this post a million times not wanting to tread on sensitive ground yet want to talk about something that has been concerning to me.

I’ll just get it out there.

I’m concerned about all the seductive senior pictures I’m seeing in facebook land.

Girlzzzzzz…….some of you are pulling off sexy really well but what you’re doing is dangerous. You’re setting yourself up for harm later on.

Before your eyes roll all the way in the back of your head just listen for a few more paragraphs please. I care about you. Enough to say this stuff because we both know it’s kind of awkward to talk about.

There are some way cool trends in Senior pictures lately. The possibilities are endless. You can choose a location that makes you feel most in your element – an urban setting, a park or beach, sports field, or performing arts center. Really cool stuff.

And while there are some amazingly creative options in photography there will be choices you need to make.

I know this seems like a peripheral issue compared to the big things in your life right now like boyfriends, getting your license and making college plans. But this little issue can set you up for some bigger issues down the road.

I want to encourage you to make wise choices in how you pose and what outfits you wear for your Senior pictures. Your countenance and facial expressions – you know what I mean. All these things have a part in the message you’re sending in your picture. Even if you feel that your photo session is not something that represents you typically – it is still you in those pictures. You are sending a message whether you realize it or not.

When your time comes to dress and pose for Senior pictures think about this – if someone had to describe your picture at first glance in one word what would it be? And do you really want it to be “sultry, provocative and sexy”? Because that’s the word I would use to describe quite a few of the Senior portraits I’ve seen.

Of course people may interpret things differently than we intend. And we can’t be all about what others think of us. But we do need to be responsible in the message we send by how we conduct ourselves. And this includes how we dress.

There’s a time and place to look and feel sexy. And I promise you it’s not in your Senior pictures or on Prom night. There’s unique treasure and delight in saving all the sexy for one special person in the future. Your husband.

If you know me at all then you know I’m not suggesting you throw on a pair of polyester culottes with a  turtleneck and wrap your hair tight in a granny bun and sport some white reeboks & tube socks for your photo shoot. No, please don’t even. We’d all throw up.

Know this about yourself – God made you beautiful. You’re already chosen and accepted by Him. You don’t have to prove anything. You don’t have to one up your friends. It’s not necessary to dress a certain way to impress your boyfriend. You can trade in provocative and sultry for confident in Christ and already accepted.

Don’t get sucked into current trends of our culture that block out who you really are. Some girls don’t know who they are in Christ. But some do know and they are falling into an easy trap that we must all guard ourselves against.

As Christ followers we are different. We will look different – even in the little-big things like Senior pictures.

Sometimes we do things and look back on them and realize we’d do it differently next time. Our God gives us grace and we need to give grace to others as well. So if you’re one who has learned or is learning the hard way – don’t walk in shame. Don’t feel condemned. But be encouraged to do differently now and to encourage others on a right track. This is what the body of Christ does for each other.

Good luck girls to finishing out your school year. May you radiate Jesus Christ, your creator. May He fill you with a satisfaction in Him alone so that when you go to pose for Senior pictures it’s really not a big deal. It’s just someone snapping a pic of who you really are.

 

 

 

 

Moving forward in looking back.

As I look back on 2016 in effort to move forward in 2017 I used this method from Emily P. Freeman that helped me a lot.

This process makes me realize things that I wouldn’t without working through the categories and thinking back on the last year. And it helps me in looking forward to the new year.

Let’s all make 2017 a year of purpose and intentionality. A great start is by looking back.

Happy New Year friends!

 

 

Christmas Happenings 2016

Christmas in pictures and a few words…..

Chess, movies, chilling, special dinner at home, opening stockings were all part of Christmas Eve at home in NC.

Christmas morning we read the account of Jesus’s birth and tried real hard to remember that it’s not about the presents and gifts but about our King Jesus being born into this world to rescue us from ourselves. And we did dig into some presents too.

I opened a cozy blanket from my sweet girl and a pillow from my man-child. The pillow has background meaning because this conversation always goes down at night at his bunkbeds.

Me:  Love you Mitchell.

Mitchell:  Love you more.

Mom: Not possible.

Mitchell: Well it’s happening.

Then we went to church to celebrate with our church family. I loved our service this year. It was actually really neat being ON Christmas this year. And I love how Randy addressed in his message the fact that it was kind of inconvenient because let’s be honest we’ve probably all thought it but not said it out loud. Christmas on Sunday morning means some people just don’t come to church at all because of Christmas traditions but other people move things around and it’s kind of inconvenient. But what a beautiful reminder to use that  tension of inconvenience to remember that God interrupted our world with the devastatingly beautiful plan of sending his son Jesus to save us from our sin. This is Christmas.

And then we drove to GA to celebrate with our families. The first few days at my Mom’s house with my side of the family and then we’ll go to Randy’s parents for the other half of our time with his family.

And so Mitchell got a big ole airsoft gun and Sophie got a wardrobe organizer for her American Girl Doll accessories and some American Girl doll pajama’s.

And then a surprise gift showed up for Sophie from a woman she’s never met before but that Randy and I know very well from our GA church days. And this is what she gave her:

A reborn baby doll. Sophie named her Hope Bella. And she was shocked and thrilled to receive such a nice gift. She looks so real – incredible. I won’t even go into how Randy and Mitchell make fun of the doll because it’s just so wrong on all accounts. But Sophie can hold her own and it doesn’t bother her one bit. And actually I warned the boys before hand because…..well, because I just know them….and told them NOT to make fun of the doll in any way shape or form. Did it do any good? No, it didn’t. But oh well. She’s a girl who knows what she’s likes and it hasn’t bothered her.

For 30 plus years we headed downtown Atlanta to eat dinner at the Varsity and sit on Santa’s lap and ride the Pink Pig on top of the old Macy’s. But we lost that tradition over the years due to different things – like Macy’s closing and the Pink Pig moving to a different location, etc. So now we just go to the Varsity and it’s still a lot of fun.

This year we saw an artist selling his sketches of downtown Atlanta and other key places around the South and we bought some to frame up and put in our den. So fun. The Fox theatre picture, The Varsity and Helen, GA since many of our years were spent in the North GA mountains.

And we wore this little girl slap out!

Today we go dress shopping with Sophie’s Grandmother and then we head over to Randy’s parents for family celebrations there. We are looking forward to it!

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year friends!

 

Celebration of Influence

A ladies event I participated in years ago called “Celebration of Influence” has impacted me every year since. The luncheon was a special day where the ladies in our church invited someone who had influenced our lives in some way. We treated them to lunch and did everything we could to make them feel special and appreciated.

We chose a gorgeous log cabin in the mountains that hosted weddings and other events as our venue. It was beautiful.

Each lady in our group had taken time to write a letter telling the person we invited how they had influenced our lives personally. Letters were placed at each place setting with their names inscribed on a place holder.

After we shared lunch together we gathered in a circle and heard brief snippets of how our friends and guests had influenced our lives. It was so neat hearing from each other and how their guest had influenced them over time. We had a special speaker as well and she spoke on friendship and sharpening each other.

Ever since this time together I have taken on the practice of listing the people of influence in my life each year. Not an exhaustive list but I pray and ask God to help me see the people he put in my path the past year who had influence on me in some way. And then I pull out the old fashion paper and pen and I write a letter to that person. Stick an address and stamp and I just threw a Celebration of Influence party. It’s that easy.

So maybe you’d be encouraged through this to think of just a few people in 2016 who have influenced you. They might know already but chances are they don’t know the extent. Why don’t you tell them? And as you’re thinking about who has influenced you offer a prayer to the Lord asking Him to help you be an influence in somebody’s life in 2017.

Proverbs 27:17
As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.