Unity

After this I looked, and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and before the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands.
‭‭Revelation‬ ‭7:9‬ ‭NIV‬‬

Someday, when we get to heaven there will be people of every tongue, every race, every nation worshipping the King of Kings, the Lord of Lords. God created us, He knit us together in our mothers’ womb. He is infinitely creative, making us unique and beautiful in our own ways.

Yet here we are, divided. Every time I turn on the news there is another story of hate. This is breaking my heart. I believe God wants reconciliation. He doesn’t want us to hate each other for any reason. I believe the Lord wants to see healing happen in our country and our world.

I believe this needs to start with the church. We need to repent, we need to forgive and we need to love people. I believe there is a healing that needs to happen in people’s hearts and minds. I sincerely believe as we seek the Lord on this issue, He will be found. He will bring healing. It doesn’t matter the race, religion, or sin issues (we all have sin issues folks, the Bible says all men have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. Me included)! Remember, Jesus had meals with tax gatherers and sinners.

Let us be a light to this world and show people love and kindness.

Lord, please help me show Your love to the people in my path today.

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Jumping When God Says Too

It has been a long time since I have written on my blog! My family and I have experienced a sudden, unexpected change in direction in life about a year and a half ago. It has kept us very busy adjusting ever since.

Several years ago, my husband started to feel like the Lord was speaking to him about being a nurse. When you have two kids, working full time and one income, that is really hard to do. We kept trying to figure it out but it was put on the back burner for years.

In November 2015, I felt like the Lord started putting on my heart that we needed to move so my husband can go to nursing school. I told the Lord, He was crazy but God was persistent. Right before Christmas I told my husband what God was putting on my heart, fully expecting him to tell me I was nuts. He got in the shower, and came out ten minutes later and laid out the rough draft of a plan. I would need to get a full time job. We would need to sell our house, find a home to rent in Phoenix, this would likely take months. Grandma could watch the kiddos to help out (thus the need to move, we needed family). Within one week I found a job in social work paying me the 40k I needed. Serious miracle right there as I don’t have a Masters. We found a home and moved within a week and a half. Our house sold one month later.

God said to jump so we jumped. The last year and a half has been a crazy, wild ride. My husband has his CNA now and is on the waiting list to begin the RN program. I am working full time in foster care, which is an area that has always been my passion. My kids are going to a great school, enjoying making friends.

I found out later from my husband that he knew instantly that what God laid on my heart was from God because the day before a homeless man walked into his mattress store he was working at. My husband gave the man food and water. The man then told my husband he was not homeless at all. The man was a pastor of a homeless church and walked into the store because God had given him a prophetic word. The man then went on to tell my husband God wanted him to move on and pursue the call God has for him.

When I look back on this I am still amazed at the way God stopped us in our tracks and moved so quickly to get us where He wanted to be.

Thankful For the Opportunity to Get Annoyed….

Yep you read the title right…. I haven’t written in the last two months because I accepted a part time position doing adoption work.  For the last two months, my five hour a week position has been more like thirty hours.  I have had the opportunity to work closely with a birth mom.  My job was to help her through the adoption process, as she chose to pursue an adoption plan and to help her hopefully get back on her feet.  I obviously can’t say much about her case but what I can say is this.  She has more than one child and she doesn’t get to see them.  I would like to believe that I have had a lasting impact on her life (of that I can’t be sure).  What I do know for certain is that she has unknowingly had a lasting impact on mine.

I have been a Stay at Home Mom now for the last six years.  I will confess to the whole world that I have not always been thankful for it.  I get bored first of all.  Second of all, I am a self-declared not so good house keeper.  I think I had this picture of being a Stay at Home Mom in my brain that looked something like June Cleaver in Leave It To Beaver.  My house would be perfectly clean, my hair would be in just the right place, a lovely gourmet dinner would be on the table every night and the house would be perfectly decorated.  At the end of every day there would be some perfectly lovely lesson learned with my perfect little children going off to bed.  The reality of staying at home looks something like me being in my favorite shorts and t-shirt, my hair being frazzled, I’m doing awesome to get my make up on, my house is some how always messy, even seconds after I clean it.  I think the Tazmanian Devil is hiding in my house some where and comes out to mess things up as soon as I go to the bathroom.  As far as dinner goes, I have become a pretty decent cook, but June’s food always looks much better than mine.

The third thing I always had messed up in my brain was this idea that my little darling children would always behave perfectly….now that one is pretty funny.  Obviously, I was not seeing this in the Biblical truth that we are all born with a sinful nature.  For my confession, sometimes my children really, really annoy me.  I try not to show it, but sometimes it just comes pouring out all over their cuteness.

With that being said, the other day I was spending time with this lady on my case load.  She is down on her luck for sure.  Honestly, I don’t remember what brought it up.  Something (probably stupid and insignificant because I can’t even remember what it was) had happened and I was feeling annoyed with my children when I saw her.  I briefly mentioned that my little angels were driving me crazy and her reaction was something I will not soon forget.  She said, “I wish I could be around my children long enough for them to annoy me.”  She said, “Do you know I actually miss hearing them fight?”

I have not been able to get that statement out of my head.  I have not seen my children’s fights and other things they do in the same way since I heard that statement.  What must it be like to not be able to have the opportunity to become irritated with your children, because you simply don’t see them?

I used to think that I wasn’t all that blessed because we don’t have much money.  I am realizing that God’s blessings come in all different shapes and sizes.  Sure having money would be nice, but is that really what is important.  I believe that one of the biggest blessings God has given me in my life is the opportunity to get annoyed.  That’s right, I get to spend so much time with my beautiful children that they sometimes drive me nuts!  The question I have been asking myself lately is would I trade my special opportunity to be annoyed for all the money in the world.  The answer to that is clear to me.  No I would not!  I get the amazing blessing of really knowing these two sweet little people who God blessed me with.  I get to hear them laugh and cry.  I get to see them at their best and yes at their worst.  I get to see them be silly and just be kids.  I get to hear them fight with each other and love each other.

I wouldn’t give up the opportunity to get annoyed with my sweet kids for all the money in the world because every single moment I have with them are blessings.  It’s just that sometimes the blessing is a little bit hard to recognize.

Mother’s Day Encouragement

Today is Mother’s Day.  I have been thinking a lot about it.  I called my mom and chatted with her.  I wished I could see her, but alas I have a sick kid in my house.  I adore my mom.  Our relationship is not perfect but who has the perfect relationship anyway?  She worked hard and sacrificed a lot for me. She has always loved me with her whole heart.  She like every other mom, was not perfect but she was the perfect mom for me.

I also thought of my mother in law.  She is an amazing person and extremely supportive.  She wasn’t perfect either.  She loved my husband with her whole heart and still does.  I know she was the perfect mom for my husband.  Did she make mistakes?  Definitely, but God knew what he was doing when He gave my husband his mom.

I also thought of me.  I worry all the time that I am messing up my kids.  I struggle with mom guilt and self doubt.  I wonder if my mom felt that way.  Did she wonder all the time if she was messing me up?  I suspect she did.  I bet my mother in law thought that too.  The reality is if I didn’t love my kids so very much, I doubt I would worry about messing them up.  I doubt I would obsess about each decision I make for them or feel horrible every time I lose my temper.

I was praying about all of these jumbled up thoughts this morning and as I prayed I realized something.  I may not be the perfect mom.  I will inevitably mess up.  That being said God chose me to be my children’s mother.  I may not be a perfect mom, but I am the right mom for my kids.  I am so thankful that God is there to cover my mistakes. 

Remember moms, you aren’t perfect but God chose you to be your kids mom.  There isn’t any one better qualified.

Happy Easter

Today, as we celebrate Easter I can’t help to think about what it really means.  My family enjoys coloring eggs and hunting them.  We enjoy Easter baskets and candy.  We get dressed up in our Sunday best, but is that what Easter is about?

The answer to that question is definitely not.  We aren’t celebrating all of those fun traditions, we are celebrating the fact that Jesus died on the cross and rose again.  He willingly gave his life, so that we can be saved.

Today, my daughter got a little Easter egg that she was going to give to her cousin if she was “good.”  I’m glad that came up, because we talked about what a true gift is, it is not dependent on how we perform, but is freely given, just because we love someone.

Jesus did not die for us dependent on our performance, he died for us because he loved us and because he knew that no matter how hard we try we can never, ever perform up to God’s standard of perfection.  We are all fallen and fallible.  We are all sinners and we are all in need of forgiveness.  Fortunately for us, God died so we don’t have to be judged on our performance, we can simply be judged on whether or not we accepted the gift that Jesus gave us freely.  Did we surrender our lives to Jesus?  Did we acknowledge that we are sinners and acknowledge our need for the Savior?  That’s it folks.  The gospel is not complicated.  We are simply saved by grace and putting our faith in Jesus Christ.  We are saved because Jesus came to Earth, lived a perfect life and willingly sacrificed his life, so that we may live.

The question is, have you accepted Jesus?  Are you aware that if you were the only one that ever accepted Jesus, He would have still died because He loves you that much?  This Easter, take time and consider what Easter is really about.  It is about a gift that is so much sweeter than the chocolate bunny, it is about our Savior sacrificing His life so that you and I can spend eternity in heaven. May you all have a blessed and happy Easter.

But God demonstrates his own love for us in this:  While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.  Romans 5:8 NIV

My Pickle Challenge

You might be asking yourself, why are you calling this post the pickle challenge?  Seriously, Sharon you are pickling something, it isn’t like you are climbing Mount Everest.   That is true, but please understand, this is totally out of my comfort zone.  This is coming from the girl who really didn’t understand the point of the produce section in the grocery store when I first went to college (outside of bananas, apples, and a occasional potato).

As part of my new journey to better myself, I decided I wanted to challenge myself, in both little things and big things.  You see I tend to get bored easily.  For the last couple of years, I have been well bored being at home.   This has nothing to do with being a stay at home mom though.  It more has to do with me personally.  Before I became a mom I had a very challenging job, yet I tended to get bored doing it as well.  I think it has to do with doing the same things everyday and falling into drudgery.  It wasn’t until recently that I realized that it is really up to me to challenge myself in new and interesting ways.   With that in mind, I want to push myself to try new things that maybe I was sure I couldn’t do or perhaps was just uncomfortable with.

I have thought about making pickles before and I honestly thought, “Who am I, Martha Stewart?”  The answer to that question is definitely not.  Which is the reason I had to look up a pickle recipe online to give this a good shot.  I found a refrigerator pickle recipe by Alton Brown.

http://www.food.com/recipe/alton-browns-bread-and-butter-pickles-217129

Here is the first pickle recipe I am going to attempt.  These pickles are more like a sweet pickle. I plan to take you on the journey with me, so you will get to see my entire experience.  I promise you I will still post this even if it is an epic fail.

With that in mind, this challenge started when I received a ton of pickling cucumbers in my 30lbs of veggies box for $5.  Whenever I do that, I know I am in for some sort of food adventure.  Sure, I could chop up the cucumbers and just eat them, but what fun would that be? (Not to mention that would be a really boring blog post)

My daughter and I went and bought all of our necessary spices and a couple of appropriate jars to store our pickles in.  The frustrating thing is when I got back home I discovered my cucumbers went moldy over night…..AHHHHHH!!!!!  I told you I would take you on the full journey.  So, bummer, but back to Sprouts I went.

Now I have beautiful, fresh cucumbers.  Thank you Sprouts (no they don’t pay me to say that, wouldn’t that be nice though)

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I took four of my little beauties and washed them thoroughly and patted them dry.  I used four of these because the recipe called for two medium cucumbers.  I consider these small.

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I then sliced the onions thinly.

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I put all of the onions and cucumbers into my jar.  I then combined all of the other ingredients in the pan to bring them to a boil.  I boiled the ingredients for a full four minutes.  I should say my son and I boiled the ingredients for a full four minutes.  No cooking happens in my house without my junior chef.  He is truly in love with all things cooking.  He even dressed as a chef for Halloween.

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After four minutes were up, I carefully poured the pickling liquid into the jar.  It filled the jar all the way to the brim.  I allowed it to sit for a minute, and I was then able to fit the rest of the pickling liquid into the jar.

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These pickles need to sit in the fridge for a while before they will be ready.  I firmly believe variety is the spice of life, so on to pickling recipe number two.  Again, I depended on Alton Brown for this one.  These pickles are more of a sour pickle.  I did do my own riff on this recipe by adding some dill to my pickling liquid.  I also could not figure out what champagne vinegar is but after some research online that said I can substitute White Wine Vinegar, I decided to go for it.

http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/alton-brown/kinda-sorta-sours-recipe.html

I went to start my next recipe and discovered something important…..oye I ran out of Cider Vinegar.  Alas I did not have enough and it is off to Wal-Mart again.

The second recipe was much like doing the first.  I started by washing my cucumbers, patting them dry and slicing them thin.  I also sliced my onion thin.

Thinly sliced cucumbers

I filled my other pickle jar with my onion and cucumber.  This time I took a little more care to layer them in the jar fairly evenly, instead of having the onions all on the bottoms and the cucumber on top.  I don’t know if this will make any difference, but they look prettier in the jar.

This time, me and my team of junior chefs boiled all of the other ingredients for four whole minutes.

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Don’t you love my mess on the counter in the background….keeping it real.  Once we finished boiling our pickling liquid, I carefully poured it into the jar of cucumbers and onions.  Again, I had to let the liquid settle a minute before I could fit it all in the jar.

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Yes I did just used Christmas name tag stickers to label my pickle jars.  I have a bunch left over and figured that was the most efficient way and they are kind of pretty, much better than my other option which was cutting a piece of paper out and packing taping it to the jar.  Regardless, my pickle challenge is done.  None of us could wait until the pickles have actually sat in the jar for a whole week before we tried them…..really who has that much self-control?  They are both divine.

Next time around, I will be more careful to make sure I have all my ingredients on hand.  It was a waste to have to go back and forth to the grocery store.  This was actually a really simple thing to do.  I did have to put in an initial investment to get jars, and all the spices, but now that I have them, I can easily make my own pickles whenever the urge strikes me.  Yay for learning something new and thank you to Alton Brown for providing me with awesome recipes.

What If I Fail?

I just celebrated my 12th wedding anniversary.  I remember right after I got married, I was terrified to cook for my new husband.  I was not a great cook….I could boil water like a champ and I could make such favorites as macaroni and cheese with tuna mixed in….mmmm yummy.  My cooking skills definitely left much to be desired.

After I got married I knew I needed to learn to cook.  Fortunately for me, I am married to an awesome, patient and not very critical guy.  Here I was, watching food shows, reading recipe books, asking friends for help, but I always had a nagging question in my mind that really scared me. What if I fail?  What if this food is so nasty that my wonderful husband gags?  I will admit, I have had my share of epic fails in the kitchen where we literally tossed it and ordered pizza.  I learned from my mistakes, and eventually became a good cook.  Now my family eats well, or at least better than macaroni and cheese and tuna.

This story came to my mind today, as I prayed about starting a little business.  This business would not cost much to start, so there is little risk.  That being said the nagging question has been on my mind, “What if I fail?”  What a paralyzing question that can be.  Of course you have to consider risk in making any financial decision, but it certainly can’t be the only question to consider.  If you give that question to much weight, you’ll never try anything.  I felt the Lord gently correct me today by asking this question, “What if you succeed?”

Jeremiah 29:11New International Version (NIV)
11 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.