Friday, February 22, 2013

Blogging Regularly...Here I Come

I wish I could post pictures of a perfectly decorated home where all the laundry is always neatly folded and put away, and the floors are clean enough to eat off of, but I'm not that mom (trust me I read lots of articles on how to be that mom and even have a Pintrest board designated to getting me there)! I tell my kids, "everything has a place" yet even I struggle with getting everything to its place...I'm just not naturally organized! I want to be, but I'm not.

Piles of paper litter most every room of my home, but I prefer to call it organized chaos. Why would I even use the word organized if I just admitted that I'm completely unorganized...well just because there's a pile of papers on my kitchen counter doesn't mean I can't find things. On the contrary...I can tell you which stack my receipt from a shopping trip to Walmart three weeks ago is in and how far down to look. I like to call that a simple organizer. Do I love that my brain works this way? Not so much (and trust me my husband doesn't either...it drives him crazy), but it doesn't mean I stop trying to be a better version of me.

Now when I started this blog almost two years ago, my main goal was to share our love story, because it is such an awesome story (if you haven't read it I promise it's worth taking the time)! Then I finished that (well most of it...you'll have to wait for the book to get it all). Afterward, I began dabbling in writing whatever God laid on my heart...or life lessons as I like to call them.

So, after our chaotic summer, a new baby and several other crazy transitions, I started thinking about what to do with my blog now. After all, I spent 8 years getting paid for my writing skills, and if they're that good...then why not put them to use again. However, I still wanted to be able to homeschool my children and help my husband be the pastor that GOD has called him to be. That's where Mosaic Reviews came in. When I stumbled upon them, I knew this was exactly what I needed to get me on the right track for blogging regularly and I was right!

Our first assignment...reviewing a blog planner. Obviously, as I told you earlier, I'm not the most organized person. However, you cannot spend 8 years in TV without knowing how to do some planning and obviously meeting deadlines on a consistent basis, so I decided to suck it up and find something to work with. When I first began looking at the options, many of them overwhelmed (who knew there was so much to blogging???) the simple organizer in me and I was thinking, I'm going to fail miserable on my very first assignment...that is until I got toward the end of the list...that's when I found it...the blog planner that was perfect for me!


There's one line per day and you write in the week you are working on. There's a section for notes, images to make, future post ideas, a to do list and where to promote your blog. It's all combined on a single page and I didn't have to spend a fortune in ink just to print it! I printed a couple weeks in advance, added it to a binder with sheet protectors and volià! Suddenly, my organized chaos becomes something even easier to work with than the scraps of paper I scratch things down on from time to time!!! I really cannot express how much I loved the simplicity of this!!!! You can formulate a quick plan right away and best of all it's FREE! Now, if you are über organized and like to plan every last detail before you start...then this planner most likely isn't for you, but if you're a simple organizer (or live in organized chaos like me) who just wants some general guidelines to follow and place to jot down a few notes, then by all means go and snatch this blog planner up!







And don't forget there's still time to enter to win some amazing prizes from Unique Boutique by Lauren! Click the link to head over there or visit the Giveaways tab to find out more!






Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Uniquie Boutique by Lauren Giveaway

I'm really excited about all that's going on with My Java for Jesus! GOD is using it in so many ways...recently I received several messages and e-mails about how the words GOD has given me have encouraged some people and brought them hope...that's more than I even dreamed of when I started this blog (see why here). For me these messages are confirmation that I'm doing exactly what GOD wants me to do. So in order to try to reach more people for HIM, I'm reinventing the blog in...well sort of.

I'm adding a section for reviews that I get the pleasure of doing; there will be a section on different homeschool adventures we encounter from time to time; also there will be a section I'm calling mommy mania tips (that's when you catch them doing something that you're ready to kill them for...yet you stop yourself in the name of JESUS); and of course all great blogs have some phenomenal giveaways. Have said all that, if there's something else you'd like to see, please leave me a comment either here or on Facebook and I'll do my best to accommodate! In doing this, my hope is that more and more people will read our love story or the devotions and be inspired by what GOD can do for them! So without further ado, here is our very first spectacular giveaway!

I met Lauren not long after Earl and I were married. Earl attended The Crown of the Bible. While there we joined the church that housed the college Temple Baptist in Powell, TN. He began teaching a Sunday School group and Lauren and her husband Daniel ended up under him. I was working over nights, so I didn't get to know everyone in the group as well as Earl did, but Lauren and I both had our first children within few months of each other, so as first time moms I was able to get to know her more than a few of the others.

When we left and went to Nashville for me to take a job with The 700 Club we lost touch. However, after almost 3 years there, GOD called us back to Knoxville and shortly following our return called Earl into the pastorate at Forest Grove Free Will Baptist Church. Since then we have reconnected with Daniel and Lauren and her talents have been such a blessing to me. I'm not as crafty outwardly as I am in my head...so that's why I employ her ingenuity to make awesome things for my kids. Here's a couple pictures of a few of the things I've requested she create so far.

Hair bow holder for Genesis
 For Asher after the new baby

 Party dress for Genesis
And here's something I stumbled upon when she was a vendor at a consignment sale a friend mine and I hosted.
Coffee Cozy (I didn't have an actual Starbucks cup to use so I resorted to a kids cup)



This one is reversible!
Other side
 So I got to thinking, since the blog's name is My Java with Jesus, why not see if she would make some coffee cozies to giveaway and Lauren so graciously agreed. Now, I know some of you (heaven forbid) may not like coffee, so we didn't want to exclude you from entering for a chance to win...Lauren has decided to give away a boy/girl outfit as the Grand Prize. So we will have a total of four winners. The boy outfit consists of suspenders and bow tie and the girls is a shirt/skirt combo!



So good luck and spread the word about My Java with Jesus so we can reach as many people as possible for the Kingdom (yes we...because you play a part in sowing seeds when you send them here)! And don't forget to drop by Unique Boutique by Lauren and show her some love and appreciation for her amazing talents and gifts!






Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Validation

I love getting comments!! Whether it's on this blog or Facebook or Pintrest! It's just so exciting to see what people have to say when you post something you think is awesome. (Admit it! You do too!!) But that got me to thinking, especially when it comes to my blog, why do those words carry so much weight? They are encouraging...after all, it means someone actually read this. So I began to think back to when I stared this journey. I didn't start it to be validated by readers or even my own friends and family. I started it to be validated by my FATHER.

All to often we are looking for someone's stamp of approval. It's in our nature really. I mean think about it...


Eve took a bite of some fruit that she knew was absolutely forbidden, all because she gave too much thought to what a lowly serpent said...Adam undoubtedly felt an insurmountable amount of guilt for not protecting Eve from a spineless snake and so he probably coined the phrase, "If you can't beat 'em...join 'em!" And from there the whole world spiraled out of control... all because they weighed the word of another more than the only one that really mattered...which was the VOICE that came looking for them later that evening in the garden. Unfortunately, at that point it was just too late. They'd chose to seek approval and acceptance elsewhere else.
 about Sampson! All that brawn but no brains really...after all how many times did Delilah tempt him o convey the secret of his strength to Even Peter, one of CHRIST's most beloved disciples fought with wanting to feel validated. First, he  argues with the other disciples about who was the greatest among them. Even after JESUS puts Peter in his place, Peter argues with CHRIST that he would never fail HIM. Then later the same evening, we find Peter warming himself by the fire, denying any knowledge of the man that just a few short hours before he called MASTER and swore allegiance to. All because Peter, at that point in his life, cared more about what others were thinking than what GOD was telling him.

Then I began to think of JESUS. I mean what better example of righteous validation could you find. Think about it, children do everything they can to get their parents attention. Whether good or bad...they just want someone to care what they are doing. While this need for recognition is clearly present from birth, it wasn't in HIM to need that. When Mary and Joseph accidentally, left HIM behind after the passover at the age of 12, HE began to teach in the temple where some of the most revered scholars stood and they all marveled. When HIS earthly parents came for HIM and questioned why HE didn't follow...HIS answer,

  
"How is it that ye sought me? wist ye not that I must be about my Father's business?" (Luke 2:49 KJV)

It's not that JESUS didn't care what HIS parents thought or that they were worried. It's that HE had a purpose to fulfill and their approval was trivial compared to that of HIS FATHER'S. However, because HE was still under the guidance of HIS earthly parents HE respected their wishes and followed them home.


Later, when it was time for HIM to begin HIS public ministry, you find the same passionate spirit. When the temple was being used for ill gain, HE wasn't worried what others were thinking and in his righteous indignation, HE began overturning the tables of the moneychangers who were using the temple for their own profit (John 2:13-16 is the account of this happening early in HIS ministry).  All throughout HIS ministry you will find CHRIST caring for those the religious crowd would consider undesirable. HE dined with a tax collecter (Zacchaeus), spoke to the woman at the well (a Samaritan...a group of people the Jews would not mingle with under any circumstances) and even healed a leper. No matter what, JESUS did exactly what HIS FATHER would approve of. When HE was baptized there could have been no great validation than these words:


"And lo a voice from heaven, saying, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased."(Matthew 3:17 KJV)


We too will have that opportunity one day...to hear those words...


"His lord said unto him, Well done, thou good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord." (Matthew 25:21 KJV)


CHRIST always chose to do what pleased GOD...


"...Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me: nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done." (Luke 22:42)


All the way to the cross HE went...just so you and I could be validated in the eyes of our FATHER.




Friday, February 1, 2013

Transition

Over the past several months God has given me several ideas for blogs and I've got drafts waiting to be finished, but writing hasn't been a top priority for me. I was nearing the end of my third pregnancy, homeschooling our 6 year old daughter, entertaining a 2 year old with more energy than I remember EVER having, taking care of the books for my husband's business, among other things...in short, my attention was diverted; focused on all these tasks, as well as a mixture of several "transitions" going on in our lives.

For starters I was in the final months of an uncomfortable pregnancy (more on that later) with a very large baby (9lbs 10oz). Knowing the new baby would undoubtedly throw a wrench in our homeschool schedule we didn't take a summer break. Next, my husband was working so much between his business and pastoring that I was carrying an extremely heavy load...managing being mom, dad, disciplinarian, homemaker, teacher...you name it, I was wearing that hat this summer. With his jam packed schedule, I convinced him to offer Financial Peace University at our church on Wednesdays. I figured he could lead that and it wouldn't take nearly as much preparation as a sermon and that would be one less thing on his plate, but even that eventually fell into my lap as his job kept him continually absent from the class.

If you follow my blog, you know that in March of last year I lost my grandfather. He was my rock; a tremendous influence in my choosing to follow Christ. As much as that hurt, I knew I had to go on for my family. After his passing my parents began discussing moving to Knoxville. Of course I was thrilled with this prospect, I would love having them minutes away instead of hours. In July, they decided to make that move. My dad would arrive in September to begin his new job, right around the time the baby was to be born. Mom would follow in the next few months.

So why do I tell you all this? And what does any of it have to do with my writing a blog? Everything really and here's why...

My pregnancy was rather normal, as have been the other two. Of course with each pregnancy there is always a symptom that I seem to discover that makes me think twice about having more...with Genesis it was morning sickness from beginning to end for the most part. Asher inflated me like a balloon, so much so that a month before he was born I lost the sense of touch and it didn't come back until 8 weeks after he was born; and only after I tuned to my husband and asked him to pray over them because the doctor actually began discussing surgical options; not only that but the aching within my heart to be able  touch my newborn's soft, smooth skin was unbearable. Then there was Canaan, our newest addition. Of all the pregnancies, everything was more perfect than any other...with the exception of knowing I was going to be delivering a very large baby...that is until about 36 weeks. That's when it began. The itching. At first it was mild, but with every passing day it worsened. Imagine it like this, you have poison ivy or chicken pox from head to toe, only worse because you can't see it and there is no relief. No cream, no oatmeal bath, no pill, no lotion, nothing. You, and the itching, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Everyday began in tears and everyday ended in tears. Sleeping was impossible, not from the normal discomforts of pregnancy, but because of the itching. It truly became overpowering. So much so, that I honestly considered asking to be induced...which for me is unfathomable. Not only do I have a pretty high tolerance for pain, but I truly believe birth is a natural, normal process that GOD intended me to endure. HE made me to do it and I just don't see it as a medical condition needing treatment (that's not to say I don't think modern medicine isn't necessary...and no I don't judge those that turn to hospitals...it's your body and your baby...moving on now). For me,  I know, it's nearly impossible to break me mentally, so I choose to forgo the epidural and medical interventions of birth...I just have to find my happy place and go there. But when all you ever do is itch and scratch to the point where you have scabs all over you...it's virtually impossible to find anything to focus on except the itch!

It was 2 AM on Saturday night, three days past my due date and I was there...my breaking poing. I literally contemplated calling the midwife at that moment and asking to be induced as quickly as possible. Or even just waking my husband and getting him to rush me to the nearest hospital so it'd all be over. So I took a deep breath and began to run a lukewarm bath. When I did that so it brought an ever so slight and brief moment of relief (or not but it was better than laying in the bed scratching like a dog with fleas and disturbing my husband). I remember sitting there in the tub, crying. I begged and pleaded for GOD to allow labor to come...but it didn't and somehow in that prayer time I managed to regained my composure and decided I would give the pregnancy until my weekly checkup on Tuesday. After all I had dealt with the itching this long, what's two more days?

As I went to bed Monday night I knew I didn't want to ask what I was about to ask the next morning but I also knew I had given it all I had. The itching had to stop, I couldn't find a way to focus on anything else. Then about 5 AM I woke up with the urge to got to the bathroom and an ever so minuscule contraction...much like a Braxton hicks really, so I wasn't the least bit excited. While in the bathroom, I felt another contraction and noticed a possible sign of impending labor. I remember beginning to think...is this it? Could the end really be here? And sure enough the contractions kept coming. After a couple hours I phoned the birth center to let them know I was in labor. It was the best feeling ever...knowing that not only was about to meet my son...but the end of the itching was here! When I spoke to the midwife she still wanted me to come in for my appointment just to be sure, so I did. While there my water broke while I was lying on the exam table. I remember thinking "Yay! I'm going to have a baby at a decent hour of the day!" However, unfortunately for me, my labors are so weird and unpredictable! The first started with my water breaking and not a single hard contraction for 12 hours...then once I'm at the birth center (still without a contraction) I find out I'm only dilated to 3 cm and BAM! Suddenly 3 straight hours of hard labor. The second started normally. I labored at home all day and when I got to the birth center that night, they told me I was dilated 3 cm agin!  Only this time I had to endure 10 hours of intense back labor. So when I arrived for my 3rd child that evening my only prayer was to be beyond 3 cm. However, that's exactly where I was!  Talk about discouraging!!!! So I did the only thing I knew to do...pray. That was my only focus during the entire labor...the prayers...each contraction, they left my lips and landed at heavens gate...and it was during this time that GOD spoke to my soul.

When a woman is in labor, it's broken up into three stages:

1) Early labor: 

  • This is uncomfortable but not extremely painful and your cervix is dilating between 1 and 3 cm
2) Active Labor:

  • This is when contractions are really picking up and so is your breathing. It happens between 4-6 cm
Just before the birth of our 3rd child
3) Transition:

  • This is when the cervix dilates from 7-10 cm. It is the shortest yet most intense part of labor...just before you start pushing.

As I entered that final phase, I knew the time to push was drawing closer and closer, yet all I wanted to do was give up. I questioned why I trust GOD and my body enough to do this naturally a third time. And then I knew...my itching had been symbolic of my labor phases and everything else in life...it always gets the HARDEST just before the birth of something amazing! 

Suddenly my mind was drawn to the story of Joseph from the book of Genesis. The early stage for Joseph was the dreams GOD birthed within him, showing him that one day he would rule over his whole family. This lead to a necessary hatred of him by his brothers; so much so that they sold him into slavery. It was then that he began the active stage, laboring as a servant in Potiphar's house for 11 years...yet GOD made it bearable, allowing him to be favored by his master and treated with more grace and dignity than any slave could even begin to hope for. And finally he entered transition, accused of a crime he did not commit and thrown into prison, only to be forgotten about for a period of about 2 years. Can you imagine? From the favored son to the fortunate slave to the forsaken servant. Of the 13 years he spent in captivity, the last two were spent in a prison cell, no doubt surrounded by loud torturous cries for freedom. Can't you just see it...every night he closed his eyes, he must've longed for home...for relief...for freedom from all this heavy labor!!
He could hear his father, Jacob, in the distance, calling his name. "Joseph, Joseph, my precious son" How he missed those words...he was Joseph, the son of Rachel, Jacob's beloved wife. Tending to the flock was beneath him his father had told him...that job fell to his older brothers. Jacob made sure he was taught to read and write. In his father's eyes, he was no ordinary shepard boy...he was special...he was meant for greatness.

I imagine, the aching for home comforted him, yet haunted him at the same time. I'm sure there where many days when he thought, "How did I get here? Why have you put me here to rot away in a dirty Egyptian prison GOD?!?!?!? Why GOD?!?!?!?!?! Why?" 

But that's just it...had it not been for that last phase, Joseph never would've had the opportunity to progress from a dirty prisoner to the Pharaoh’s most trusted advisor. And without transition, I'd never have become a mother of three...or a stay at home mom...or homeschooler...or even a servant of GOD. 

Paul said, "Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, [therewith] to be content. I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: every where and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me." (Phil 4:11-13 KJV

So whatever phase your in...just wait, your TRANSITION is coming and in the end, so is something AMAZING!!
Our miracle!!