Monday, December 10, 2012

Taking Back Christmas

Last year I wrote a blog about how difficult it can be to actually enjoy the Christmas season (take a gander here if you want).  Life was so busy and hectic with all the commitments we had made for ourselves that joy was hard to find.  This year I made a vow to myself that this family would simplify things and give ourselves the gift of time.  Time to relax and enjoy one another as a family and time to appreciate the holiday.

Things became a little derailed when I became sick for three weeks but I am on the mend now and back on track.  I'm thankful now more than ever that we opted out of some activities we would normally of done.  I have found that by choosing only the most important activities to be a part of or to host, that those things we are doing have more meaning.  I appreciate the holiday parties we have chosen to do more than last year because it's not "just another thing on the list." 

This year we have already watched several Christmas movies as a family.  We are able to do our advent calendar everyday.  We have days that are free coming up to make Christmas cookies and ornaments as a family.  Those school Christmas programs are actually anticipated because they are not conflicting with other activities.  We find that even with all the things we have planned to do, we still have time for Zach to go play golf or for me to enjoy some quiet time.  By simplifying our Christmas we have freed up funds to give to those in need.  Yes people, we have found a way to take back Christmas!

Things aren't perfect.  We will always have our obligations around this time and I know that I have been judged by some by opting our family out of some activities, but, in the end what really matters is that we have had the opportunity to enjoy what we have without longing for what we don't.

What are you doing to take back Christmas this year? 

From our family to yours, have yourself a very merry Christmas.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Thankfulness

I haven't been blogging much lately.  I have no real reason for this other than I've been so sick and exhausted that my mind has pretty much turned to mush.  Most of the time I don't feel I could even tell you the day, let alone communicate something worthwhile. 

Thankfully I am beginning to have more times during the day where I feel almost human so I am hopeful that we are on a uphill side of things.  I have been humbled recently with the amount of inquiries about my health that I have received these past few weeks.  Humbled and thankful for the prayers.

Earlier today I was on Facebook and was astounded by all the negative comments and just plain displays of grouchiness on display from some of my facebook contacts.  As usual, this got me thinking...

As I did last year, I am doing the 30 days of Thankfulness, thinking of at least one thing each day that I am thankful for.  Some people may think doing this is "lame" or whatnot, but honestly, sometimes we need to be reminded to think of something each day that we are thankful for.  Otherwise we can easily be wrapped up in our own pity party and forget how blessed we are.  I love writing these each day and I love reading what others find to be thankful.

Reflecting on this thought, it hit me: I am happy.  I have a wonderful and blessed life.  Yes, lately things have been hard on me and my family because of my physical limitations, but that hasn't changed anything.  I have a wonderful family, wonderful friends, a lovely home, and food on the table.  What more could I possible want? 

It's easy to let our day to day burdens drag us down.  But just think how much happier we would be if forced ourselves to be thankful for our blessings each and every day.  Let's band together, stop the negativity, and be a beacon of light and goodness for the world to see.

 
 

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Why I hate Halloween.

I know.  It sounds horrible to say, but I really don't like Halloween.  Yes, I've been called a grouch and I'm sure other parents have rolled their eyes and spoken behind my back about my dislike for this day, but I'm okay with that.  I have my reasons.

Even as a child, Halloween for me wasn't the day all my classmates and friends talked excitedly about.  We didn't really go trick or treating.  My mom would load us up and we would go visit our relatives.  This is the only part of Halloween that I actually enjoyed.  When my great grandmother was still living we would go visit her.  She would make the best popcorn balls.  We would go visit my grandparents, my great aunts, and any other relative we could squeeze in before bedtime.  We didn't go to a lot of houses and didn't get a lot of candy, but we were okay with that.  My dad would eat it all after we went to bed anyway. :)

My sister and me in our "costumes."  I hated Halloween even then.

The part I hated was the costumes.  My mom couldn't sew and wouldn't spend a fortune on costumes so we always looked a little raggedy, and not in a good way.  When I was in elementary we always had a costume contest.  I was already crippled with shyness on a good day so the weeks leading up to Halloween I was miserable with anxiety.  I knew I wasn't going to win.  I never had a chance.  It was humiliating to stand up with the rest of the class, wrapped in a sheet, pretending to be Cleopatra, when the rest of my class was standing there decked out like stars.  I remember that embarrassment and wondered every year why I even tried.  Then, I would look out at the students in my class who weren't in costume.  They were too poor to even have a sheet to wrap around themselves.


I'm thankful Zoe's school doesn't allow costumes on Halloween.  I'm also thankful that so far I have been able to get away with both kids wearing hand-me-downs and being happy about it.  With two kids and one on the way on a minister's salary, we can't afford to buy brand new costumes every year.  We cant afford to provide sugary sweets to the neighborhood hooligans. 

Halloween, in my eyes, is nothing more than a huge money suck.  Everything about it requires you to shell out some dough.  It's difficult for my family, I can't imagine what families less fortunate that us feel on this day.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Changes...

I may be part of a minority who actually likes change.  I find it refreshing and needed more often than not.  It may be a little scary but, with my experiences, it can also bring so many blessings.

We are looking at changes here in our world.  Zach is looking at making some changes with his education that will take the next several years to complete.  Scary? Yes, but so worth it.

We also have another change happening come May...



Scary? Yes, but oh, what a blessing.  To quote my delighted daughter, "This is like, the most amazing thing evah!"

Prayers appreciated.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Trying to See...

This past weekend Zach and I were able to go to a Youth Leader Retreat put on by our conference.  We left Thursday and retreated until Saturday.  It was lovely.  Going to the mountains is always a treat for me, I love the cool air and we even got rain! Lots and lots of rain.

The conference was able to bring in a speaker to lead the retreat and so we got to spend the weekend with Mark Yaconelli.  If you are unfamiliar with him, go check out the link, especially if you work with youth in any capacity.  I really enjoyed the times we were able to sit and speak to him, to hear his philosophies on ministry and life.

The theme of this retreat was, more or less, about being able to take your Sabbath.  To find that place of peace and rest in the midst of our chaotic lives.  We also talked a lot about compassion, what that looks like, how to show it, and how to receive it. 

I don't know about anyone else but I struggle with showing compassion to others.  In my mind I'm secretly thinking, "Geez, you think you have it tough? There are people all over the world so worse off than you."  I know, it's horrible!  I find that I constantly have to remind myself that pain is pain, regardless of anything else. 

During one such session, when Mark was giving us a model of what compassion looks like and how to get there, I thought of my daughter.  I specific image came to my mind:  Noah, running around, falling and skinning his knee on the asphalt.  It immediately began to bleed and he just barely whimpered, struggling as I tried to clean the wound.  His loving sister came by and, upon seeing her brother's knee, had tears well up in her eyes.  She stood, transfixed by the sight of her brother's physical hurt.  Slightly shaking her head back and forth, she repeated, over and over, "Poor, poor bubba."

Once again I find myself wishing I were more like my children.   Compassion and empathy comes so natural to them.  At what point does that change?  At what point do we loose the ability to notice one's suffering and immediately feel compassion towards them?

Mark noted that the first step to showing compassion is seeing them as they really are.  Instead of seeing a kid as dirty or annoying or disruptive, we should see them as, well, just a kid.  A kid who may be hurting. 

My vision is often clouded with my own issues and prejudices. 

This weekend with other Youth workers in our area, most of whom I have never met, left me feeling humbled.  There is no other word to describe it.  However, I also feel that I left that mountain sanctuary with a few more tools in my arsenal.  I am so thankful.

May we all be able to truly see those around us.

Picture of Peace...


Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Where's your sparkle?

I often find myself in need of a certain reminder, things aren't usually nearly as bad as I think they are.

Those moments that I find myself incredibly discouraged with work are eased when I am able to clearly see that, it spite of it all, things could be worse.  When I am able to make myself see that, I am also able to see all the blessings.

The same goes for parenthood.   It's no secret, with two young children with two strong personalities, that the going gets tough sometimes.  I've made countless phone calls to my mom where the first words out of my mouth are, "Your grandchildren!"  It helps me to hear her chuckle, even if I don't completely appreciate it at the time, and realize, these are the moments that are few and far between.  These are the moments that I won't remember a year from now.  I have a great family, I should never take them for granted.

It helps to have someone to vent to.  I am lucky that when it comes to work and ministry issues, I have a great pastor/friend that will allow me to come to his office and "download."  I am lucky that my husband doesn't mind me crying on his shoulder when I just don't know what else to do.  I am lucky that my mother is able to bring my back down to reality when my kids are driving me batty.
I am lucky.  I am blessed.

I am also lucky that these wonderful people around me, my kids who depend on me, my family that supports me, do not allow me to wallow in the "poor me's."   I am not afforded the luxury to wallow too long in whatever woes I feel are irrepressible, and instead, am encouraged to be proactive about the things I can change and accepting of the things I cannot.  

Bechtold News:
Zoe is LOVING school, which is no surprise, she's always loved school.  She has gotten in trouble for talking, which is also no surprise.  I had a dear woman at church ask me the other day if "Zoe was born talking."  YES! she was. 

Noah has started back two mornings a week at preschool.  He's also enjoying it, and only cries a little when we leave him.   The past two weeks he has been in bed before 7:00, if he makes it that long.  It's hard work being such an active little guy.

Zach has started back in gear at Wesley and is as busy as ever, and as exhausted as ever.  Even with how tired he is, I know he is so happy.  He is so fortunate to do what he loves and get paid for it!

I have been busy with trying to get our family into some sort of schedule.  I am getting back into our "School" youth schedule along with starting a Life Group at church and volunteering weekly at Zoe's school.  I love that I am able to do these things. 

I will leave you with a quote from the bedtime story I was reading Zoe tonight, from The Very Fairy Princess:  "Even a fairy princess needs a break, to keep her sparkle from sagging!"

Do what you need to do, to help you keep your sparkle!


Oh Barney...

Friday, August 17, 2012

Growing Pains...

Today the Bechtold Family reached a milestone.  It was Zoe's first day of Kindergarten.  It seems like yesterday I was thinking, after seeing posts from friends on Facebook about their little ones first day of school, that I don't know what I'll do when it's Zoe's first day.  All of a sudden my little girl isn't so little anymore.

School in Las Cruces is a little different than in other places we have lived.  School for the other kids began on Wednesday.  The school has what's called "Kinder Transition Day" for the Kindergarten kids.  On Wednesday afternoon we dropped Noah off at our friend Stuart's house and Zoe and I headed up to her new school.   We had packed up Zoe's new Hello Kitty backpack with her new school supplies and she so very bravely marched into her new classroom.  She shook her teacher's hand and when a comment was made about Zoe's blue eyes, she proudly proclaimed,"They're my Daddy's eyes!" 

Our transition day only included 6 other students and before long Zoe was in a very animated conversation with the little girl sitting next to her while they did their craft.  So quickly and easily does she make friends.  We were able to tour the school, fill out the pile of paperwork, and get "tested" all in one afternoon.  If possible, Zoe left that afternoon even more excited to start school than before.
Transition day.

Noah takes posing lessons from sister.

The first real day of school started this morning, on a Friday.  I woke up first, put the cinnamon toast in the oven, fixed the chocolate milk, cut up the strawberries, and then went and woke up Zoe.  Zoe is our little morning person.  She jumps out of bed, no matter what the time, like she's coming off the bench in a basketball game. 

After breakfast, getting dressed, and taking the standard "first day of school pictures" we all loaded up and drove the 15 minutes to Zoe's school.  We no sooner walked up that she was off playing in the playground and once again, making new friends.  In fact we had to call her back over just so Mommy and Daddy could say their goodbyes.  After our hugs and kisses, Zoe ran off to play some more before the bell rang and Mommy and Daddy wiped their tears away.  It was so much harder on us than her.

First day picture.

So happy...

For the rest of the day I kept my eye on the clock.  I would say to myself, "Zoe's in the cafeteria now, eating lunch like a big girl," or "I wonder what Zoe's learning right now."  I couldn't wait for 2:30 to come around.

Finally the time came and we were waiting outside for her to come bounding out exclaiming about what a great day she had.  Noah was just as excited to see her than I was, happily taking her hand as we walked back to the car.  We promptly left and took Zoe to Barnes and Noble to pick out her "first day of school book," a tradition we are starting this year, and then took her to her choice of restaurant for an early supper (she chose Olive Garden, big surprise there).  After the meal we went to Hastings and picked out a movie for the evening.  I couldn't keep count of how many times she, with obvious joy, shouted, "This is just the best day ever!"

A new tradition begins.

Zoe's selection. This was a very difficult decision.

Zoe's favorite restaurant.

I am so proud of my darling girl.  I don't know that I could be anymore proud of her than I am.  She is so much what I wish I could be, every day.  Joyous, happy, sensitive, thoughtful, and curious, among other things.  It's hard, seeing her so big, so smart, and not get misty eyed, but I know she is growing into such a lovely person, capable of doing so much good.   I will try not to mourn her "babyhood" (if that's such a word) and instead delight in how well she's growing up...

Praying you all are as blessed as I feel today...

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Even know-it-alls can learn something...

I work for a great church.  I am also blessed to work for a Pastor who just so happens to be a good friend.  He knows Zach and I quite well and when he suggests that we do something, we usually trust his judgment.  Several months ago Pastor Travis suggested we attend this years Willow Creek Association Global Leadership Summit.  I admit, I wasn't overly thrilled when I learned I had already been signed up to go.  In fact, I was hoping for something to come up so that I could back out.  Thankfully, nothing did! 

For the two days of the Summit Zach and I had to get the kids up and out the door before 6:30 for the 45 minute drive to El Paso.  We were meeting a church in El Paso that also opened up their nursery to watch our kids.  This was a televised conference, with the multiple speakers being in Chicago and sending live feed out to all the other locations.  All of these factors joined together to make a "I don't know about this" moment in my mind.  But can you believe it, with all my skepticism, I actually learned some things!? 

The leaders included Bill Hybels, Condoleezza Rice, Jim Collins, Craig Groeschel, Patrick Lencioni, and John Ortberg, among others.  There was so much that these great leaders said that I just wanted to throw my hands up in the air and yell, "YES! That makes so much sense!"  or "YES! Where's so-in-so, so that they could be hearing this too!"  (I know, shame on me.)  So, I'm going to share some things I loved from this conference:

1.  "A leaders most valuable asset is their energy and ability to energize." - Bill Hybels

2. "Don't talk about going 'there' until you explain why you can't stay 'here'" - Bill Hybels

3. "Remember that it is a privilege to be a leader." - Bill Hybels (personal note, I forget this sometimes and need to remember how blessed I am to be in a position to lead others.)

4.  "The greatest quality of a leader is their irrepressible optimism." - Condoleezza Rice

5. "Out of struggle comes victory, after Friday comes Sunday." - Condoleezza Rice

6. "The x-factor of great leadership is humility combined with great will." - Jim Collins

7.  "Mediocrity comes from chronic inconsistency." - Jim Collins

8. "Don't fear or resent the next generation, believe in them." - Craig Groeschel

9. "If you're not dead, you're not done." - Craig Groeschel

10. "People act honorable when they have been shown honor and respect." - Craig Groeschel

11.  "Being all things to all people means you are nothing to everyone." - Patrick Lencioni

12.  "The discoverer of the role of forgiveness in human affairs was Jesus Christ." - John Ortberg

13. "Everyone benefits when a leader gets better." - Bill Hybels

14. "Jesus will not allow HIS church to be easily destroyed." - Bill Hybels

There is a lot more that I took away than these little snippets.  I came away with some reading, with inspiration, and with a drive to see how much more I can do, not just in regards to the Youth group, but with the church universal. 

As the Summit was coming to a close, the volunteers passed out a card with a prayer written on it.  The idea was to enter into a covenant with someone else to pray this prayer every morning.  The Prayer is added below.

Click on photo to enlarge it.

What are you doing with your talents and energy?  Your creativity and resources?  Together, we can change the world.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Celebrate all events with cookies...

I love the Olympic games. Correction - I LOVE the Olympic games!  Seriously, I had been counting the days to the opening ceremonies for over a year.  No, I'm not an athelete. I don't know why I like them so much but I do.  I record every channel the Olympics have been playing on much to my husband's chagrin.  It doesn't matter which event is playing, this girl is watching, and when necessary, crying along with the atheletes.

Much to my dismay we had to be in Plainview on the first weekend of the Olympics.  If we had been home in Las Cruces I would of gone all out, Olympic party style, for the opening ceremonies.  Being at my parent's house I did what I could.  I donned my red, white, and blue tank top (bought special for the occassion), selected an all American meal (fried chicken thank you very much), and taught the kids a USA cheer that was absolutely adorable when performed by my sweet two year old.  We also had special Olympic themed cookies that Zoe and I decorated earlier in the day.  They weren't great, but they were fun and tasted...well, they tasted patriotic. :)

 Pay no attention to the misspelling...

Zoe would decorate a cookie and eat a cookie. 
Pretty great system if you ask me.

And yes, I realize purple isn't exactly a patriotic color but when you have a prissy 5 year old, you gotta do what you gotta do.

I'm still watching for the next week and a half, still cheering, and still closing my eyes with anticipation.  That's how I roll.  I'm also trying to always remember the race I am (and you are too) racing everyday.  Racing with a purpose...


24 Don’t you realize that in a race everyone runs, but only one person gets the prize? So run to win! 25 All athletes are disciplined in their training. They do it to win a prize that will fade away, but we do it for an eternal prize. 26 So I run with purpose in every step. I am not just shadowboxing. 27 I discipline my body like an athlete, training it to do what it should. Otherwise, I fear that after preaching to others I myself might be disqualified.
New Living Translation (NLT)


What are you doing to prepare yourself for your Christian life?  Are you running with purpose or are you just going through the motions?

Happy watching and blessings to you and yours.


Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Another day, another lesson to learn...

The Bechtolds had a great vacation.  It wasn't very long but it sure did pack a punch.  We swung by Plainview on our way home and left the kids at the grandparents before heading back to Las Cruces.  I miss them but we sure are enjoying the peace and quiet.  The test is to see if I can use this time productively instead of napping all day like I want to. Yawn...

During our vacation we were able to attend a Rockies game, something Zach has always wanted to do.  We had a lovely time and the kids did great.  Noah, once plied with sugar, really got into the game, cheering and waving his rally towel like a pro.  Zoe did good but got bored with the game and looked for other ways to entertain herself.  Zoe had a nice older woman sitting next to her that would smile time to time at the children's antics.  Before long Zoe was sitting there, talking like she is prone to do, asking a million and one questions of this poor, unsuspecting woman.  After a while of her just nodding her head to Zoe's queries she leaned over to Zach, and in heavily accented English, haltingly said,"I don't speak English."  Embarrassed Zach tried his best to put a halt in Zoe's barrage of questions.

Sweet girl, never has she met a stranger.  She has her moments of shyness, certainly, but all in all she is open to anyone.  I'm not so open.  It's difficult for me to speak to others and to do so without reserve.  More often than not when I try and force myself to get out of my box I end up regretting most of what I said.  It's safer for me and my mouth to be reserved when I'm around those who may not know me well.

There have been many times that I have been amazed at Zoe's openness and willingness to befriend anyone.  I recall a trip to Walmart that ended in Zoe standing hand-in-hand with a little Hispanic girl who loudly proclaimed her daddy was in prison.  Although slightly confused by what this "prison" thing was, it did not deter Zoe from inviting this girl over to her house someday. 

Those things that may keep me from reaching out to another is so insignificant to my five year old.  Those fears and worries that plague my thoughts aren't present in hers.  She sees people as just that, people. People like her.

I wish I were more like my kids.  Honestly, I can learn so much from them and I hope and pray that my own shortcomings do not rub off too much on them.

May you all take notice of the blessings surrounding you today.

Admittedly blurry pic showing the kids cheering along.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Small acts...

I enjoy Facebook, maybe even a little too much.  I could blame it on the fact that I am home with the kids all day, rarely seeing another adult, but I fear that would be merely an excuse.  Truth is I enjoy seeing what my friends and family are up to.  It helps me feel connected, which considering I rarely get to see any of my family and friends, is very important. 

A large number of my Facebook friends are parents.  I love seeing and hearing about the antics of their little ones and not so little ones.  I love seeing the photos from those who are parents to furry children.  Basically, I love hearing from everyone.

Some might call me nosy.  Perhaps I am, but honestly, I am interested in what's going on in the lives of those whom I care about.  There are those who like to pretend they are too evolved for Facebook.  There are those who will gladly post a million things but they "don't check their Facebook."  In other words, they have no interest in what other may have to say.

Why the Facebook rant? you may be asking.  Well, let me explain...to much, let me sum up (hehehe) - The other day someone that Zach knows posted a status.  Very basic, very standard.  He liked it, as he is prone to do.  This friend of Zach's (and I hope I don't embarrass them by stating this) then commented on his wall, expressing to him how happy that "like" made them. 

It can take so little to make someone's day, or to break someone's day.  One little acknowledgement from someone that yes, they are here, and yes, they care about what you have to say.  In a world where communication with others is mainly digital, it is so easy to reach out to others.  On the flip side, its also so easy to make another feel so very alone.

It's not healthy to focus on such little things, for sure, but truth is, sometimes we do.  Sometimes others do.  Right or wrong, regardless of how you feel about technology, Facebook, or the internet, little acts of digital kindness can go a long way.

In other news:

Zach is preaching for our friend Travis at church today, all three services.  He is nervous, but I have faith he will do wonderfully.  He preaches for Wesley but this being "our" church makes things harder for him.

Last night we got to eat some delicious custard with a group from Plainview on their way to San Diego for a mission trip.  It was wonderful to see their faces, kids and adults that were such big parts of our lives in Plainview.  Prayers for them this week.

Summer is almost over - yikes! I'm ready for a vacation!

I must now go and get ready to go hear my best friend!

Blessings to you on this day! What acts of kindness can you find to do today?

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Gut check...

The other day I took the kids to the doctor for Noah's well-visit.  On the "well" side of the waiting area there was one other mom and her daughter who appeared to be around three years old.  My kids immediately went for the basket of books and each brought me one to read, so we took turns.  I noticed that little girl was interested in the story so I read a little louder, drawing an annoyed glance from her mother.  The girl then went and got a book and took it to her mother, who this entire time was busy on her phone.  The mother read one page and went back to doing whatever it was on her phone.  The little girl just sat there with the open book in her hands looking at her mother until the nurse called them back.  No lie, it kinda broke my heart.

I will be the first to acknowledge that I have used technology to escape the pressures of motherhood.  There are times I get a little annoyed at my kids for demanding something of me when, frankly, I just want to check facebook, read this article, check a score, etc.  Then I get a reality check and feel shame for placing all those things, which are so unimportant, before the needs of my family.  What are we teaching our kids?

I came across an article claiming that American kids are found to be the most spoiled kids in the world.  No shock there.  It's easy to see that kids today are completely overindulged and spoiled.  What shocked me, and perhaps it shouldn't of, was that in the comments to this article I guestimate that 9 out of 10 commenters, mainly mothers, admitted that they spoiled their children.  They also admitted that they will continue to spoil their kids.  One commenter passed judgment on another saying that anyone giving their three year old chores was cruel.  Another stated that the guilt she felt for working long hours led to her spoiling her child and buying her whatever she wanted.

Wow people! What values we are teaching our children!  Not only do we see what we are doing is wrong, we continue to do it!  There is always a way we can justify our behavoir.   That justification we do just inhibits us from bettering ourselves and being better examples for the kids.

There are many directions I could go with this but I'll stop there.  I think you get what I'm trying to say.  In short, give your kids what really matters, you.  When they grow up and (hopefully) leave your home, they will not be lamenting over the lack of gifts, toys, gadgets they received as a child.  Instead, they will realize how very blessed they were to have you as a parent.

Blessings to you and yours today....I'm going to go enjoy mine now...

Here is a link to the blog that took me to the above referenced article.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Lessons from toddlers...

Earlier today the kids and I were outside watering my plants.  As I was turning on the water faucet I got some water on my skirt and leg.  Knowing that we practically live on the surface of the sun out here, I was not too concerned about it.  I notice Noah had gone back inside the house and head towards the door to go in and see what he was doing.  He was already headed back outside and he had in his hand a towel, which he used to try and dry me off.  He went inside specifically to get something to help me out.  I was touched by his thoughtfulness.  At the tender age of two, he is already thinking of others.

What happens to us as we grow up that makes us so anethesized to the needs of others? There is a new show on television that my husband came across the other day.  I can't remember the name of it (help here Zach) but it is narrated by John Krasinski.  The premise of the show appears, after just catching a few episodes, to be about how the human brain acknowledges certain things.  For example they ran an experiment where they put a clown on an unicycle and had him literally ride circles around people who were on their cell phones.  These people never noticed the clown.  Later, the producers of the show went to the people and asked if they noticed the guy on the unicycle.  Their response was no, they didn't notice anything and they were certain they would have.  At this point the producers show them tape with evidence of the clown.  Those people were shocked to say the least.

Obviously we are so easily caught up in our own little worlds to the point of blinding us to the people around us.  How many people do we encounter on a daily basis that are in need of something and we never realize it?  And, if we are able to notice and recognize their needs, how willing are we to see that those needs are met?

Maybe I should start taking lessons from my toddler. 

Blessings to you all on this day.

Quite the role model if you look past the tantrums and nose picking.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Memories made...

Yesterday morning I had great plans for our day.  Funny thing about kids, they don't care about your plans. 

Zach got a bug in him that he needed to get a new pillow so we decided to head to the mall, grab lunch there, and then go rent a movie from Red Box.  We got to the mall and was picking out a pillow when Noah decided to throw a monster 2 year old tantrum.  Moments earlier he had been smiling and laughing, even prompting an older woman to walk by and tell us what a little gentleman he was and how she could just snatch him up.  He began screaming and before I knew it he was running down the aisle.  I leave Zach and Zoe to check out and begin the chase.  I literally chased that little monster around the entire store, all while he was screaming as loud as his little lungs could allow.  Finally I catch up to him and he goes boneless. After struggling for a few minutes I am able to wrangle him into my arms and he continues to fight me and scream.  I am beyond frustrated.  I go and grab Zoe from Zach, who is still in line to check-out, and announce we are headed to the car (much to the relief of every person in the store, I'm sure).  I see the woman who commented on wanting to take Noah with her and she wont meet my eye.  At this point she could of made me a very reasonable offer and I would of been tempted.

This guy...

We get in the car and once Zach gets there I tell him that I have reached my limits and it would be better to just go home and abandon all of our plans.  Noah continues to scream until we pull into our neighborhood, where he becomes quite pleasant once again.  Sigh...

We put the kids down for naps and crash out in front of the tv.  At this point I am wary of continuing on with the plans I had for a family movie night.  The patience I was forced to exercise in the mall has taken it's toll on me.  However, one look at my sweet daughter playing quietly changes my mind.  Plan on!

I have seen on Pinterest, in a couple of places actually, the idea to create a drive-in movie experience in your living room.  You can see one here and how far the idea can be taken.  We decided to keep it simple.

Zoe and I went to the garage and selected two big boxes, took them to the living room, and set about decorating them.  Zoe LOVED this and commented several times about how she was "just so happy."  Zach even got in the spirit and helped Zoe while I decorated Noah's box, as he was sleeping off the crankiness.
Zoe decorates her chick-mobile.

Zoe wanted her car to be a "girly" car and only pink and purple colors were allowed.  She drew windows on the inside of her box and clouds in the windows.  After the wheels were glued on she went and grabbed blankets and pillows and we made her "car" as comfy as possible.  When Noah woke up we all went to Walgreens for junk food and a movie.  Zoe decided the perfect movie snacks were popcorn, M&Ms, and Sprite.  I also grabbed a package of cookies to balance everything out.

All in all it was a great evening.  Noah loved sitting in his car as much as sister did.  They both enjoyed the movie and went to bed full of sugar.





Notice the M&M beard.

I'm glad that, even though my day didn't go as planned, I decided to continue on with this idea.  This past week I read an article (here) about a little baby with days to live.  As a memorial to this baby, his parents requested that parents everywhere serve banana splits for dinner to their kids.  In other words, give their kids a moment to remember, even if it's not healthy.  It's a way to enjoy the moment and not take any day for granted.  I must admit that was my inspiration for this evening of junk food, tv, and cardboard cars.

At the end of the day the tantrum at the store seemed trivial.  These moments at the end, the simple pleasures of a evening at home with my beautiful family, that's what will stick with us. 

May you all do something today worth remembering...


Monday, June 18, 2012

Reflections...

The Bechtold family had a great Father's Day.  Saturday was a late night and we had to get up early the next morning for church, so I was expecting many meltdowns.  I was proven wrong and the kids were great all day!  VBS was last week so on Sunday Zoe got up with the other children to sing in two of the services.  She did so well.  After church we took Zach out to lunch.  I was telling Zoe how proud I was that she is so willing to go up in front of the church and sing and dance.  Zach made the comment that that is something that I wouldn't have done when I was her age (which is true).  Zoe looked at me and said,"Don't worry mom, we'll practise and you'll get better." Thanks kid.

After I got a comment similar to Zach's from my mom when I was bragging to her about Zoe, it got me thinking.  When I was entering middle school I chose to follow my sister's footsteps and elect to be in band.  Like my sister I chose to play the flute.  Mom immediately enrolled my sister and me in private flute lessons.  Instead of the normal recital,s our instructor had us play before the service began at church.  I made it through only because we were able to "hide" a little in the alcove of the sanctuary while we played.

The church she had us play in was the church we sometimes attended.  Most Sundays that we went Mom would take us to Sunday School and then we would leave before worship.  When we did attend worship we would sit in the balcony away from the rest of the congregation.  I remember waking up many Sunday mornings hoping that Mom wouldn't want to go.  I hated going.

On the day of one of these recitals my Dad came to listen.  I remember this being one of the only times I had seen my Dad in church.  It was after this service that my Dad decided our family was going to be regular attenders.  NOOOOOOOO!  After my sister and I objected vehemently about having to attend this church, my parents made a choice to attend another, smaller church in town and we were promptly baptized and joined the church as a family.  We've come a long way since then.

As I was reflecting over this story I was struck with the idea of how different life would be if my dad hadn't come to listen to the flute performance.  It's obvious that God had been working in my Dad though I have no idea how.  It reminds me of that song "It only takes a spark, to get a fire going."

My Dad is one of the most amazing Christian men I have ever met.   I know that he has touched so many hearts, by his actions and his words.  He is a man that so many others can look up to and respect. 

My kids are very blessed to have this man as their "Riley."  No man has loved his grandkids more and it's so evident in every action and every moment he gives them.  Dad never hesitates to get down on the floor and put a puzzle together with them or to give them a boost into the tree outside.  Acts of love that they will carry with them their entire lives.

We are all blessed to have him in our lives and I know that he will continue to be one that my family and other will look to for guidance.

Thank God for flute lessons! 

Riley listens to Noah.

Zoe loves Riley cuddle time.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

We don't judge

Several years ago I had the pleasure of getting to mentor a great group of teenage girls.  They were so much fun, they kept me young, and always had a style tip to share with me. ("Mikel, why are you wearing those 'mom' shoes?")  They taught me so much and I can only hope that I taught them a little something too.  A running gag that developed with this group was the saying, "We don't judge!"  This particular adage became a joke used between us. "You only like movies starring Mandy Moore? It's okay, we don't judge!" "You ate a pan of brownies for breakfast? It's okay, we don't judge!" Ah, I miss those girls...

This week has been another trial for me as once again I hurt my back and have been trying to take it easy.  Yesterday I tried to be productive and was adamant about leaving the house only to reinjure my back to the point I wasn't able to walk without incurring severe pain.  These days where I am frustrated and unable to do what I really want to do lead me to peruse the Internet.  I have come across all sorts of things this week.  Most of them quite disturbing.  There seems to be a lesson that a lot of people have yet to learn so let me drop a knowledge bomb on you.  Wait for it....

Christians can have fun.  There it is. Oh, and Christians can have a sense of humor.  We can enjoy life.  And we can live into the business of Christ without judging others.

 "God alone, who gave the law, is the Judge. He alone has the power to save or to destroy. So what right do you have to judge your neighbor?" James 4:12

“Do not judge others, and you will not be judged.  For you will be treated as you treat others. The standard you use in judging is the standard by which you will be judged. And why worry about a speck in your friend’s eye when you have a log in your own?  How can you think of saying to your friend, ‘Let me help you get rid of that speck in your eye,’ when you can’t see past the log in your own eye?  Hypocrite! First get rid of the log in your own eye; then you will see well enough to deal with the speck in your friend’s eye." Matthew 7:1-5


How often have you seen this sentiment: "that's the problem with Christians, they're all hypocrites!" or "I could never be a part of a church because everyone who goes is so judgemental."


It's a shame that our own witness is keeping other's from discovering the great joy of living in Christ.  It's a terrible shame that our own actions are doing more harm than good.  Why is it so hard for us to just love? We can never hope to bring others into a relationship with Christ without first bringing them into a relationship with ourselves.  And newsflash people, no one wants to be around someone who is a judgemental hypocrite.

That's my rant for the day.  I pray that we can all look into ourselves and become the vessel that God calls us to be.

Blessings my friends!

Monday, June 11, 2012

Be Something

Be the Change.

There have been many moments that I have felt such a strong desire, a NEED, to make a difference.  I see something going on around me and think,"I have to do something about this!"  With all of my good intentions I look around and find no outlet for my efforts.  I want things to be better but I don't know what I can do to help.

This reality is most evident to me within the church.  I have been in situations where I really, really wanted to help, to be a part of something bigger than me, and just wasn't allowed in.  I have had conversations with pastors asking why the same people did everything.  I volunteered many times for many things, only to be overlooked for the veterans.

I have also seen people get burned out in the church because they were constantly doing everything.  These same people would become resentful of the church because they were the only ones asked to lead, provide, and instruct.

I want to be a part of the community.  I want the church to be bigger than itself.  I want to reach out to others.  I want to meet the needs of everyone.  Occasionally I think I even have good ideas.  I know there are other's like me, other's searching for a way to belong and assist, but they do not know where to begin.

If you are in leadership of an organization what do you do to reach out to those who may help you lead? 

If you want your organization to be successful, you must be willing to seek out ideas different from your own.  Be willing to listen to those who are searching for a way to make a difference. 

You also have to be willing to change things that need changing and help things that are in need of help.  We can't allow ourselves to be satisfied with mediocre.  We can't be okay with allowing things to fail because we were too afraid to speak up.

Don't be afraid to speak up, in a loving manner mind you, when you see something that could be handled differently.  We all have a purpose, and we are all worth listening to.

Be the change you desire in your world.  Be the difference your church needs.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Point the way...

Zach is away at his first Annual Conference this week and the kids and I are at home, trucking along as usual.  We are pretty used to him being gone from his days as a Youth Pastor.  I think everyone underestimates how busy a youth pastor can be in the summer, or any time for that matter.  I know there are people in our lives who believed, and still do, that Zach only works one or two days a work and feel inclined to put work in quotations.

We have been so blessed to be able to do what we do.  We have met some incredible people and have gotten to be a part of some incredible events, all things we would have missed out on if we had "regular" jobs.  Sure, the pay's not great and sometimes the hours aren't either, but I know neither one of us would trade what we have done for all the money in the world.

Zach's trip to AC is sure to be the first of many and this fact alone gets me so excited for our future.  You see, we have a purpose.  God has great things in store for us and I can't wait to see what's next.  I know without a doubt we are on the right path.

Where is God directing you?  Are you able to see His direction through your own wordly desires?


Blessings to you all, my friends...

Monday, June 4, 2012

Just ask...

If you know we well you should know that I love history and I love books.  I especially love books about history.  I love reading about things that took place way before my time and seeing parallels to my life.  It doesn't matter when you live, life is pretty much the same - hard.  You will always have problems, choices to make, and people to love.  Somethings never change.

This summer my Youth kids asked to study some stories from the Old Testament that they may have heard before but never really studied.  We are cruising through Genesis and last nights study was centered around Abraham when he was still Abram.  Here is a man that God chose to be the father of His people.  Abraham was chosen to bear a great responsibility and yet he was just a man.  He had choices to make and just like the rest of us, sometimes he took the wrong path.

We see other great men in the Bible who were chosen for great things and yet they really screwed up (see David and Solomon).  They were given everything they needed, anything they asked God for, He provided.  It was when they tried to do things on their own, without seeking God, that disaster ensued. 

We are human. We make mistakes.  We get caught up in our own lives and we forget to seek God's will in what we are doing.  When a problem arises, so often we try and fix it ourselves, instead of going to God in prayer or delving into His word to discern what path we should choose.

God gives us all we need.  All we need to do is ask...

"If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and he will give it to you. He will not rebuke you for asking." James 1:5
Thanks be to God.



Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Wisdom from Abe...

The other day my wonderful husband brought me home Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter which I have been wanting to read for a very long time.  Just for the record, I'm not quite half way through and I LOVE it.  It's quite enjoyable.  Last night I was reading and came upon this jewel: "Judge us not equally." Now in the book this quote is referencing Vampires and slaves, but how relevant is it to us normal folk?

Yesterday I read a blog written by my cousin who told the story about an experience he had on a recent flight.  I won't link you there because I haven't asked for his permission, but to sum up it was about a young man of middle eastern decent who was shown disdain and prejudice by an older woman based solely on his appearance.  My cousin shared how even after the young man jumped up to offer this woman assistance with her luggage, she still glared at him with judgment.  Now, there was more to the story but I was struck by the thought of how often we judge something or someone based on something else entirely.

For instance it seems that in our society Christianity has become somewhat taboo.  I've become even more aware of this now that I've moved out of the Bible Belt.  Christians are judged as being judgemental, hypocritical, and ultra-conservative.  We are being judged that way based on the actions of a few.

Judge us not equally.

It is unfortunate that there are "Christians" who are quite vocal about their lack of love for their brothers.  Can we not make it our mission to change this image being touted about this nation? 

I know that lately I have been blogging a lot about love.  I feel transformed.  There's no other way to say it.  It's a hard thing to love, really hard, but lately I find it just a little bit easier.  What was once a struggle to see the good in every situation has become closer to being a part of my nature.  There are certain parts of my life that I still hold a prejudice for, certainly, but those things are few.  I am a different person.  I love more, I judge less, and I feel a need to be a difference in our world.

Join me on this mission won't you please?

Blessings to you this day.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Whatcha Gonna Do?

Hello all!  Did you guys get the memo? It's summer time!! Yesterday was Zoe's last day of preschool.  It was a day of fun in the sun and wind for water day!

Ready to go! 

Noah hops in for the photo op.

Noah's last day was the day before.  I love these kids.  I can't believe how much they have grown and learned over these months.

Last night after the kids were put to bed Zach and I went to our room and watched some Baseball Tonight.  After a while I went to check on the kids and found Noah awake and very happy about it.  I picked him up and took him to our room and Zach and I spent a while just enjoying our son.  It was blissful.  We had tickle wars, we laid together and watched "b-ball", and we laughed a lot.  I have a great family.

This late night experience reminds me that enjoying time together as a family doesn't have to be some grand gesture.  As we are getting geared up for the summer and I am wondering how to keep my sanity with trying to keep the kids entertained until school starts up, it's good to remember that we can have fun and not spend any money or plan huge activities.

On that note, I would love to hear any ideas or tips for summer activities.  What are your plans for the vacation months?

May you all see your blessings in everything you do.



Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Sometimes Life is hard...

This is Zoe's last week of preschool.  Wednesday is her last day and she is very ready to begin Kindergarten.  She is having a problem dealing with the fact that she will no longer be going to Bright Beginnings.   She came home from school today already in trouble from her father.  Apparently she didn't want to leave school and shared this feeling quite forcefully with Zach.  He did not appreciate that so much and punished her to her room as soon as they got home.

Knowing she was upset and guessing at the reason, I went in to talk to her.  I pulled her in my lap and she immediately began crying.  "I'm going to miss my friends so much! I'm never going to see them again!" she wailed.  I know her pain.  I sympathize with her.  Smoothing her sweaty hair back and wiping away her tears I told her,"People enter our lives for a reason.  If people are supposed to be in our lives we must trust in God that He will find a way to make it happen."

People have entered my life and left my life.  I have moved miles away from the people I care about.  I have to have faith that God has a plan for me and knows what people are meant for that plan.  Regardless of where I am I must believe that He has a way to ensure the right people are in my life.

As I stated in my previous post I have been giving a lot of thought to my ministry.  Anyone can have a ministry in my opinion, you don't have to have a job at a church or be a Minister.  People think that if they have a desire to serve God then they must go to seminary.  That's simply not true and if more people realized this then I think the state of our churches would be better.  We would have less ineffective pastors and more involved congregants, but I digress.  

We never know when we will depart this world, when today will be our last.  Can you feel comfortable with saying,"If I die tomorrow, I know that I leave this world a better place for having been in it."

St. Francis of Assisi is quoted as saying: "Remember that when you leave this earth, you can take with you nothing that have received--only what you have given."

I hope and pray that when I leave this place at least one person can say I had a positive impact on them.  Shouldn't that be what we all strive for? 

I will not be on Facebook much for a while.  If you need to contact me please message me or send me a text.  Peace be to you.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Post so random...

To say I am exhausted would be a huge understatement.  I am beyond tired, so much so that my body aches with fatigue.  The weekend we had in Plainview celebrating Mother's Day and Zoe's birthday really took it's toll on us.  We are all still trying to recover which has resulted in more than a few melt-downs in this house.

I really did enjoy our visit back in Plainview.  Though we no longer consider Plainview our "home" we still enjoy getting to see our family, especially when we have the time to visit everyone and not be rushed.

Zach and I took advantage of the six hours with little radio reception to talk to one another, really talk, which isn't something we are able to do very often.  We talked about a lot of things - our future, our visions for our ministry, the paths that led us to where we are now, and where we see God working in our lives.  What a great relief to know that we are both on the same page on most of these issues.  I really have found my soul mate.

Another great moment was when we got to share some of these revelations with our dear "sister" (not by blood but brought together by God) Erin.  I can not wait to see what God has in store for her and her future husband.

Keeping on with the randomness of this post I would encourage you all to read Blue Like Jazz by Donald Miller.  I have only made it through about half of this book but I think about it often.  It's not the type of book I would usually read but I am glad I picked it up.

Zoe had a great birthday.  She got to have a sleepover with her cousins, something which she has been asking for for a long time, and eat lots of cake.  So much so that she was turning down ice cream.  I think she is struggling with the idea of being five and therefore, a "really big girl."  The other night she was watching as I went to check on Noah after he fell asleep for the night (at 5:30 - I told you we had a rough weekend).  She noted how I arranged his pillows and moved somethings around and then tucked his blanket around him.  Later that night as I was putting her to bed she asked,"Mom, will you do with my blanket and pillows what you did with Noah?"  I complied, though it wasn't necessary, and she was pacified.  Last night when we told her to go to bed she asked again,"Mom, will you do to me what you do to Noah when you check on him?"  Again I complied. 

This got me thinking, though we grow older and less dependent on others sometimes we need to know that if we need it, someone will be there to take care of us.  Sometimes we need to know that even when we don't need it, someone is there to let us know we are loved and cared for.

My heart is full and here's hoping yours is too.

My "really big girl."

Friday, May 11, 2012

Zoe Noel

Today is Zoe's birthday.  Just like I did with Noah I thought I would take this time to document her birth story.

Being pregnant with Zoe was a trial.  I had morning sickness before I knew I was pregnant and the intense nausea lasted the entire pregnancy.  I couldn't even think about food without getting sick.  I tried everything to make it better.  Finally, my mom found biobands online and ordered me some.  Though it didn't eliminate my sickness I did find relief enough to eat.

I remember with clarity the day we found out Zoe was a girl.  Zach was certain we would have a boy.  He was counting on having a boy.  When we went in for the ultrasound I was looking at my husband instead of the screen when the doctor made that announcement.  The look of horror on Zach's face was so clear.  We got in the car after the appointment and sat in silence.  I was secretly ecstatic but I could tell Zach wasn't so much.  It took a while but finally he got over some of his fears.

The morning of the day Zoe made her arrival Zach got up early and left for work.  I was a week before my due date.  I was awoken by a phone call from my former boss asking if I would come back to work for him after the baby was born if he allowed me to work part-time.  Still laying in bed I called my mom to tell her that news.  I was feeling good, energetic, ready to take on the world and get cracking on that to-do list I wanted to complete before baby arrived.  I got out of bed to hop in the shower and my water broke.  Immediately I called Zach and couldn't reach him.  Then I called my mom.  "Mom, I think my water just broke."  Mom: "What do you mean you think?! Call the doctor!" 

I called my doctor and was told to get to the hospital and then tried calling Zach again.  Finally I tracked him down and told him that today we were having a baby.  While waiting for him to get here I checked my bag, gathered my toiletries and was thinking about taking a shower when Zach arrived.  Zach came home: "What are you doing? We have to get going!" Me: "I want to shower first." Zach: "Are you crazy? We are having a baby! We have to get going!!"

Yeah, we lived about 1 minute from the hospital.  I was having no contractions.  I didn't get my shower...

Once in the hospital they started me on pitocin since I was not dilated or having any other labor symptoms.  Holy Cow, when those contractions started!  Labor was hard and I had problems delivering Zoe.  My last push was going to be my last regardless if she came or not. Zoe Noel Bechtold was born that evening at around 6:30. Her little head was blistered from the vacuum and I was completely exhausted.  I had to stay in the delivery room much longer than usual because I kept losing consciousness and I didn't get to hold my daughter until the next day.  I also didn't get to have my shower until the next evening.

The first two weeks of precious Zoe's life was (I hate to admit) the hardest days of my life.  I was having a difficult recovery, I wasn't producing enough milk to satisfy Zoe, and she never stopped crying.  I went days without any sleep and I truly experienced post-partum depression before we got her feedings figured out and things levelled out. 

Those two weeks of misery now seem trivial when I look into my love's face.  She was a very good baby.  Very happy, always smiling.  I can't imagine what my life would be life without her in it.

Five years later I can see the young woman my daughter is going to grow into be.  She is so compassionate, empathizing with everyone she encounters.  She is dramatic, feeling things so intensely.  She is stubborn, refusing to budge on what she thinks.  She is so much like her mother.

I am so proud of Zoe.  I can't wait to see her continue to mature and blossom.  Happy birthday, my sweet, loving, silly girl.  I love you!

Zoe one day old.

Happy Zoe at 2 months.

Little diva.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

YOLO

YOLO. I know most of you are very familiar with this acronym.  It's very popular with the younger generations.  I first saw it popping up in my facebook news feed and, being more unhip than I thought, had no idea what it meant.  I actually had to Google it to find out it means "you only live once."  It's a great life motto, if you use it correctly.  Unfortunately, many people choose to use this saying as a justification of doing anything that they want.  "You only live once so what if I do this incredibly stupid thing?"  "You only live once so what if I do something that hurts another person?"  Yeah, you get the idea.

For me, and I assume many others, this is simply a reminder to not take those things/people/experiences in our lives for granted.  It's trendy, and to certain hipsters it's probably taboo, but, to remind ourselves that we only have this one life to live can encourage us to make better choices.  Something that I came across while teaching Confirmation (in fact it may have been quoted once in some sermon here recently) is that if you leave this place without having made at least one change to make it better then you did not live up to your life's purpose.  We all have a purpose in life, to love as Jesus has taught us to love.  We never know when it's our time to leave this world, or, for that matter, when it's time for someone else to leave this world.  Why should we put off for tomorrow the good we can do today?

There's a news story floating about that I'm sure has many others like me reaching for the tissue.  It's the story of the little baby who's parents were told she didn't have long to live.  They created a bucket list for her short little life which, unfortunately, ended much too soon.  Here's a link to the article if you haven't seen it.  It's a heart breaking story and I can't imagine what her parents must be going through.  I know if it were me I would probably be wallowing in "what-ifs" and regrets over every wasted moment I had with my child.

Disaster can happen at any moment to any one of us.  Each moment we have with someone we care about could be our last.  What regrets would you have if something happened tomorrow to one of your loved ones?

My sweet little girl is going to be five on Friday.  I can't believe how quickly time has gone and I know that before I know it I will be posting pictures of her Senior Prom on Facebook (or it's equivalent in 12 years).  Already I have regrets of time wasted with my little girl.  Weeks go by and I haven't used the time with my family wisely.  We let our lives go by in a blur of business and have nothing to show for it.  We spend our days working, cleaning, running around crazy, and when we have the chance to just "be" with our family we spend it sprawled in front of the tv or snapping at our kids who are vying for our attention.  Opportunities to be with those we care about are wasted.

Tonight after an evening of Zach and I going our different ways for work we were able to meet up at McAllisters for supper.  There we were, sitting outside on the patio, eating as a family, enjoying the perfect weather and watching the sun go down behind the mountains.  It was perfectly peaceful and I fully appreciated that moment with my family.

You Only Live Once.  Are you wasting your life or are you making the most of the gift of time that has generously been given to everyone of us? 

May you always see your blessings for what they are and never take them for granted...

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Just life

Let me start out by saying I love Netflix instant streaming.  This week while I have been taking it easy on my back, Netflix has been a sanity saver.  Lots and lots of Bones, Psych, and the Office. 

This week has been the "home-stretch" for summer.  Zach has been crazy busy for work closing up the semester but tomorrow is his last scheduled event.  Today the Wesley is having its first annual golf tournament.  This event has been very stressful for Zach and I for one am glad to see it behind us. 

Thursday night we had an open house at Zoe's new school for next year.  She is so excited to be starting Kindergarten, very ready to find out who her new teacher is going to be.  The idea of her starting big girl school next year makes me a little weepy so I try not to think of it too much.

Next week my little girl turns five. FIVE!!  How is that possible?  I asked her what she wanted more than anything for her birthday and she said, "Olive Garden."  We plan to go there Thursday night as we are going to Plainview on Friday for her birthday and Mother's day.  We haven't been back to Plainview since Christmas. 

Last night, after a busy day full of a doctors appointment, errands, shopping, rummage-saling at church, and picking Noah up from school, Zach really wanted a nice, quiet evening to rest.  He was exhausted from helping Travis move and watching the Avengers at midnight the day before.  We cooked out on the grill and then treated the kids to watching a movie in the guest room before bed (we don't allow them to watch tv in there often).  After months of waiting for a good time we decided to finally try and watch Money Ball.  It probably took us three hours to watch the movie because of the constant interruptions from our children.  After the tenth time of having to pause the movie because of the kids I could see the vein starting to pulse in Zach's forehead.  He was not enjoying the trappings of parenthood in that moment.  I scooped up Noah and laughing, took him to his room and put him in bed.  Zach, shaking his head at me said, "I'm glad you think its so funny."  My response was, "Sometimes all you can do is laugh." 

I know that is a cliche thing to say but it's so true.  Life gives us so many interruptions, plans get ruined, messes happen, and those moments of quiet and rest we think we desperately need never seem to turn out the way we want.  We can choose to let those moments bring us down or we can laugh, shake it off, and keep on trucking. 

Here's to some calm during the noise of life, but if that doesn't happen, here's to a sense of humor to keep us sane...

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Finding Comfort

I have spoken before of my back problems.  Basically what it comes down to is that I have back pain which is aggravated by certain activities.  I try to stay away from those triggers but, being a mom of 2 little ones, it doesn't always happen.  The information that I have received is that the only medical solution for my back is medication, not something I'm ready to do yet.  So, when it gets bad enough, the only thing that helps is rest.  This was my Monday and most of today.  Not fun and my house is a mess but I have enjoyed my Friends marathon (PIVOT, PIVOT).

I tell you this because I wanted to tell you all about what a wonderful family I have.  I mean, that's not news, they are usually great, but it's times like these that I can see the extra effort they make in order to help me feel better.  For example:

Zoe has a little stuffed pony.  It was a gift that spent the first few months in our home stuffed in some box in the closet.  During a day of cleaning Zoe rediscovered this pony and it has not left her side since.  Most days she even takes it to school where it spends the afternoon soaking up knowledge in Zoe's cubby.  Bedtime can not be achieved until pony (Rainbow Dash if you are on a first name basis with her) is right where she belongs.  To say Zoe loves her pony is an understatement.  My first morning laid up in bed my precious daughter brought me her pony.  She said,"Mommy, Pony always makes me feel better and I want you to feel better so I am going to let you have her."  Zoe tucked pony in right next to me, kissed me on the check and patted me on the head.  Pony stayed by my side until bedtime.  To give Zoe credit, she brought me a "substitution" animal before she took Pony to her bed for the night.

Pony and my little fashionista...

As parents we feel we are always in the comforting role.  Mommy's kisses are what make anything feel better (well, that and a band-aid).  What we never think of is how those hugs and kisses from our precious little-ones are just as therapeutic.  My back is by no means healed, but the actions of my sweet little family certainly comforted me.

Blessings to you on this beautiful day.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

I got the joy, joy, joy...somewhere I'm sure...

I usually write when I find myself dwelling on a certain subject or make an observation that I feel bears recording.  It's more of a therapeutic exercise than an expectation that someone reads my thoughts and gains anything from it (though it's a bonus, for sure).  I haven't written lately though because I haven't had the time or energy to dwell on anything but living.  I know we all get that way.  We become consumed with living and we forget to enjoy our life. 

But, isn't it funny, that when I try and look back over the past week or so I can't recall anything that kept me from enjoying life, or should I say, not an activity or event that kept me from finding my joy.  Joy is always there, a quality of life that, for some, is harder to recognize than some other quality.  I'm one of those people.  This may come as a shock to some of you (does sarcasm relay in print?) but I am a pessimist.  In fact, I believe I have spoken before about this trait of mine I have to endure.  It's a part of who I am that I have prayed to have changed.  I would LOVE to be a natural optimist, someone who goes through life with a smile on my face and a song in my heart.  I am SO not that person.  I am a sarcastic, realist/pessimist, that has to make a continual effort to plaster that smile on my face (not always a successful effort, mind you).  So, I can choose to love myself as myself, trying to make positive changes in who I am, or I can choose to dislike who I am and therefore, dislike my life.  I choose the former.  I am who I am.

Life has been difficult lately.  There hasn't been that catalyst or a life-altering event that has occurred.  Just life and all it's toils.  I have two beautiful children that have very strong personalities and are in stages of their development that can make reasoning with them more difficult than usual.  We, as parents, have had to take a step back and reevaluate how we are choosing to handle those difficult situations and make some changes.  This parenting thing is all about adjustments, don't you agree?

We will get through this time, we already are on the uphill side of things, and life will be full of joy again.  I know that, I have faith in that.  Sometimes we just need a little reminder...

Blessings to you on this day.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Simple things...

When you think of your childhood what memories stick out in your mind about your parents?  For me I will always associate my mother with her hands, holding them in church, playing with her rings, the smoothness of her skin, as well as the smell of her perfume.  I find comfort in those memories.  Not too long ago I read this blog that I found on Pinterest.  The blog lists certain things that we should remember to tell our children.  It was reading this list that made me think of what impressions I may be leaving on my children.  What memories of their childhood and, more specifically, of their father and me, will stick with them throughout their lives?  I hope that they will look back with fondness of the relationship I had with them.

I know that I fail my children daily.  In fact there are moments during our day that I say something to them and instantly regret it.  There is also something I am not good at doing, which is saying,"I'm sorry, I was wrong."  Simple words that have a huge impact and yet they are so hard to say. 

I know I need to work on certain things, certain facets of my relationship with Zoe and Noah, but I hope that regardless of anything else, they know how much I love them.  I try not to let them go to sleep without them hearing, "I love you" from their mother.  When Zoe is in trouble and so upset with the consequences she has incurred, I try to remember to let her know that even though I'm not happy with her behavior, that I will love her forever.

This parenting thing is hard and there are so many theories of what we should be doing.  It's impossible to do everything perfect.  All that we can do is to let our kids know we love them and keep on doing our best.  And, when we do fail, work on that whole "apology" thing.

Blessings to you and yours my friends...

That's love right there.

Friday, April 6, 2012

NoPax

Today is Noah's 2nd birthday!  I can't believe my baby is so big.  It seems like yesterday that he was an infant.  I remember looking into his face and wondering what he was going to be like when he got older, wondering what his voice would sound like, wondering how his features would change.  He's such a sweet child.

It's amazing how when you are pregnant you feel like it's forever before that baby gets here.  You are uncomfortable, sick, tired, and anxious.  Then that baby gets here and after a while you have a hard time remembering the discomfort.  The same thing happens when you have an infant.  You forget what sleeping through the night feels like.  You have a hard time visualizing what it's like to have a toddler.  Those moments are so fleeting it's important to remember.

Noah was a planned c-section.  I had so many problems with Zoe's delivery that my doctor and I decided that would be best.  I didn't want the surgery.  I was terrified and even after enduring what I went through with Zoe's birth, I wavered with that decision.  We went to the doctor on the Thursday before Good Friday for an ultrasound and it was decided then that Noah would come the following Tuesday.  I remember going back to work and telling everyone that I would not be back after the Easter holiday.  My shower was that afternoon and suddenly it was becoming so real. 

With Zoe my water broke and I didn't have time to dwell too much on what was going to happen right before the delivery.  This time I knew for certain that we were going to have a baby on Tuesday, April 6.  I was so excited, trying to make sure everything was done before baby came.  We went through Easter weekend, busy as always, and I was very aware that this was our last time as a family of three.  I was so excited for Noah to be here but also mourning our final moments with Zoe as an only child.

Tuesday morning came and we had to be at the hospital at 10:30 (I think, I may be wrong here).  I had already had my lab work done the day before and was  sporting my hospital bracelet.  Zach went to take Zoe to school while I showered and repacked my bag for the millionth time.  Zach was late getting home, he's a gabber and has a problem breaking off conversations, and I was already stressed.  I am the type to rather be at a place 20 minutes early than five minutes late.  Finally we got the car loaded and off we went to the hospital. 

Several babies decided they wanted to arrive on baseball's opening day (one reason we chose that day rather than a day later in the week) so we were running behind schedule.  I wasn't there long before the braxton hicks I had been experiencing for a few months turned into full-on contractions.  The nurse would pop in periodically and ask if I was feeling those contractions.  You will be proud of me, I didn't smack her once.  Finally the time came and I was wheeled into surgery where after more waiting and 3 attempts at the spinal (OWEY) the time had finally come to see my sweet child.  Two and a half hours later than scheduled I heard those sweet cries.  No love was more instantaneous.

He was a good baby.  He slept a lot and ate a lot, not much has changed there.  He also had colic the first two months, just in the evenings.  As rough as those evenings were the fact he was so sweet the other times more than made up for it.  I never had that feeling of complete exasperation like I had with Zoe.  Life was lovely and those weeks passed so quickly.

Noah is now a very energetic, adventurous, happy two year old.  He is my cuddle-bug, my sweet heart.  He is my biggest "helper" and during those rough months in New Boston, he was my joy.  I can't wait to see what kind of man he becomes.