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It’s Okay to Say “I’m having a ME day!”

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me-day

Any time you travel on an airplane, the flight attendants announce that if the oxygen masks drop down, you should first put on your own mask, and ‘then assist small children.’ This is good parenting advice for life in general. Yes, our children have many needs that need to be met, and even more desires they would like you to fulfill. But in order to have the energy to care for them, you need to make sure that you’re also taking care of yourself! Take a few whiffs of parenting oxygen now and then, and it will help to rejuvenate you.

Here are some tips for what to do when you’re “running on empty.”

Ideas for meeting your physical needs:

b5a9c56b277030b3ecc9f41a0a160c441. Exercise, on your own and as a family.
I’ll be honest, as soon as I hear the word “exercise” it causes an automatic physical and mental reaction….”ugh”. I immediately feel weak and ill. However, I logically know that there are several benefits to exercising daily. Now, I just have to convince my brain and body.

2. Sleep (as much as  you can), and nap when your child naps. I used to feel guilty when I needed a nap. Now I try to rest as much as possible.

3. Eat right: Food affects mood, so try to cut down on sugars and processed foods. Easier said than done. And DRINK WATER! This is another thing I am terrible at doing. I am basically dehydrated all the time. I do not like water. I have to put lemon juice or some other kind of flavor enhancer to drink water. However, there are so many health benefits to drinking large amounts of water.

4. Get or give a massage. I’m totally okay with receiving a massage. I could do this one EVERY day.

5. Cuddle, kiss, or make love with your spouse. I’m sure my husband will be highlighting this one and making me read my own article to remind me of how brilliant I am. ;-)

6. Take a hot shower, or a long bath (add a little lavender oil to increase relaxation).

7. Have a cup of chamomile tea or warm milk. (or hot chocolate with marshmallows!)

8. Go for a long walk outdoors – on your own, or with your child in a sling or stroller.

Ideas for meeting your emotional and social needs:

1. Spend time with friends. (These are people you actually like.) This will be difficult for people like me who would rather hide in our house and pull the shades. But, healthy frienships can alleviate stress and create happy memories.

2. Spend time alone each day. Even 15 minutes can make a huge difference.

Spend time alone.
Spend time alone

3. Prioritize the activities that make you happy. For instance, I write! I can see the puzzled look on your face right now. I also write music, lyrics, play bass, sing. My newest musical project allows me to express myself and gives me a healthy outlet.

4. Be creative. This goes along with #3 for me, but can also include painting, drawing, coloring….anything that involves creating.

5. Be flexible about social activities you can work around your child’s needs. Do not overbook yourself. Learn to say NO. (Good luck!)

6. Allow yourself to cry. You are not weak. Sometimes it’s ok to “let it out”.

7. Find things that make you laugh. I LOVE NETFLIX! Endless movie selections.

8. Find a way to have a weekly date with your partner. This is extremely important. The bond you create and maintain with your spouse will carry you throught the darkest and brightest days of your life.

9. Say no to extra responsibilities. (I’ll have to practice this one.) SEE #5

Ideas for meeting intellectual needs:

1. Take your child to the library, but pick up something for yourself while you’re there… (and then read it).

2. Listen to radio programs, audio books, or podcasts from the web while you drive, or while you work around the house. I’ve found free college coursework on Coursera.com, and I get a lot of use out of my Audible.com account.

Create memories
Create memories

3. If your child is doing an art project, sit down and create your own art! I am currently homeschooling my preschooler and so we do projects together nearly every day.

4. Write – stories, a blog, a personal journal – get your thoughts out on paper.

5. Identify a project that would be challenging and rewarding and TACKLE IT!

6. Return to old hobbies you may not have pursued since baby’s birth.

Ideas for meeting spiritual needs:

1. Go to religious services. Find a church where you feel connected, encouraged, challenged and lifted up. My home church is like my family.

2. Pray each morning, or each evening. Prayer is proven to do several things, including improve your attitude, offer hope, bringing you closer to God and so much more!

3. Do volunteer work or help out others spontaneously. Keep in mind you’re a finite person with finite time and resources, and that you shouldn’t take on too many responsibilities.

praying-on-rock
Prayer is powerful

4. Spend time outdoors. Living in Colorado is a blessing!

5. Write in a journal – reflect on your new life.

6. Look for the blessings in your life. You will find what you focus on.

7. Contribute to causes you believe in. Helping others is incredibly important to the health of your mind and body.

Every morning when your alarm goes off, or shortly after your child wakes you, spend one minute in bed deciding what you are going to do for yourself that day. Start small – promise yourself just 15 minutes a day. You’ll soon see the rewards (for yourself, and your family) of a little bit of “me time.”

 

Lovingly,

A Busy Mom

Celebrating the Small Things

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“Everyone is trying to accomplish something big, not realizing that life is made up of little things.”- Frank A. Clark

My husband and I started dating 16 years ago today! Some couples don’t celebrate this day, but we have it down to the time. Our first date immediately followed the Olivet Nazarene University Homecoming football game. We met in my dorm room, watched Ghost and nervously exchanged glances at each other.  I lived in a ‘girls only’ dormitory and the boys were supposed to be OUT by 6:00 pm that day. The movie ran a little long (oops). As Chris pulled his bulky green winter coat on I reached up to give him a hug, and he went for it! He gave me the sloppiest kiss. It was truly romantic. (swoon) And so our first kiss occurred on November 7, 1998, at 6:30 pm. (Fun Fact: Chris received a $200 fine from the university, because he broke the rules. LOL)

One of the reasons we celebrate this special (small) moment is because we believe in FOREVER, and any moment that has led to so many memories (our life together, the adoption of our son, the birth of our daughter) is worth celebrating!

happy 16 years

I’m Overwhelmed! Now What?

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Have you ever been so completely overwhelmed by a situation it’s as if you’re drowning in a sea of regret. Have you ever been to the point where you’re asking yourself “what if?”, or dreaming about “if only I had done things like differently”. Or perhaps you’ve been so completely overwhelmed by a situation that you became numb; not caring one way or another how it turned out, as long as you didn’t have to feel anymore? I’ve been there. I’m sure you have too. Maybe you’re there right now.

Last week I had a close friend contact me in regards to their marriage. They made the following statements:
“I don’t feel special.”
“I don’t understand why I come back.”
“I am miserable again.”
“They cry when we fight….but I feel no remorse.”
“I feel so empty.”

Now, keep in mind I personally know this couple. I have a vested interest in their lives, and in their happiness. However, regardless of your situation, the thing/relationship/addiction/overwhelming obstacle that makes you feel regret or emptiness, I believe the advice is beneficial.

Here’s part of my response:

Let me tell you what I do in a difficult situation: I try my best, in every situation to…

1. Dwell upon the word of God. Even Jesus had to talk to His Father before any choice was made, or any action could be done.

“By myself I can do nothing; I judge only as I hear, and my judgment is just, for I seek not to please myself but him who sent me.” John 5:30

“Jesus gave them this answer: “Very truly I tell you, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does.” John 5:19

“Jesus therefore said, ‘When you lift up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am He, and I do nothing on My own initiative, but I speak these things as the Father taught Me.'” (John 8:28).

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“Dwell upon the word of God first.”

When facing a really hard time in my life (of which I have had many) I dwell in the Word. I try to read everything I can that would be relevant to my situation….not just what I to hear from God’s word, but what He wants to me to hear.

2. I pray. I diligently seek the wisdom of God. I pray before I read my Bible, while I read my Bible, after I read my Bible. I try to pray constantly. (I fail miserably at this….miserably.) I often get in the way. I think I truly desire what God wants for me, but in the midst of my pain I also want Him to give me what I want. Unfortunately, it doesn’t work like that. I have learned time and time again that God works in His own way, in His own time.

“The LORD is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth.” Psalm 145:18

“In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express.” Romans 8:26

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” Philippians 4:6

“Look to the LORD and his strength; seek his face always.” 1 Chronicles 16:11

3. I trust. I try to wait patiently for God to reveal Himself to me and what He has planned for my life. This is excruciatingly painful for me. I don’t trust easily. And I am one of the most impatient people you will ever know. I want things in my time and the way I see fit. I think I know how it should be, and I will attempt to manipulate a situation so that it goes “my way”. Trust is incredibly hard for me. I’m sure it’s hard for you too. People fail us all the time. Constantly. But, God is faithful. He never fails. He is the one true constant in my life, and yours. It’s time to start trusting Him again.

 

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“Trust in the LORD with all your heart.”

“For the word of the LORD is right and true; he is faithful in all he does. The LORD loves righteousness and justice; the earth is full of his unfailing love. By the word of the LORD were the heavens made, their starry host by the breath of his mouth.” Psalm 33:4-6

“Do you not know? Have you not heard? The LORD is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom. He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.” Isaiah 40:28-31

“Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.” Proverbs 3:5&6

4. I seek good (godly) council. It’s okay to ask for help. You came to me with a BIG question (and I hope I’m helping). Too many people (especially men) have a tendency to go into self-preservation mode, hide, or try the “do-it-yourself” way. Very few people seek help. And by “help” I mean someone who can actually provide sound, effective advice. My dad always says, “don’t ask your broke buddy how to manage your money”, because obviously THAT person doesn’t know what they’re doing. So, if your having car trouble…seek a good mechanic. If you need weight loss advice, ask your personal trainer, or a friend that is physically fit. Do not ask the YO-YO dieter in the family. And, if you’re having marriage trouble…..seek out a trusted, married couple, and, or better yet, a marriage counselor. Professional help DOES work. It’s OKAY to seek the advice of people who are happily married, and people who are educated, certified counselors. As a matter of fact, when it gets really bad you should probably seek the professional help before it’s too late. (Side note: I am not a professional. However, I have taken many courses and have given advice to a slew of people for over the last 15 years. I have also been happily married for over a decade and still going strong. So, I’m not a professional, but I am an “expert” by way of experience. LOL)

“Plans are established by seeking advice; so if you wage war, obtain guidance.” Proverbs 20:18

“Plans fail for lack of counsel, but with many advisers they succeed.” Proverbs 15:22

“The godly offer good counsel; they know what is right from wrong. They fill their hearts with God’s law, so they will never slip from his path.” Proverbs 37: 30-31

“A wise man will hear and increase in learning, And a man of understanding will acquire wise counsel,” Proverbs 1:5

In my opinion, (remember this comes from the depths of my love for you and your spouse) you should seek professional counseling. You should each attend individualized therapy, and you should attend marriage counseling together. You should also find a support system. Family, friends, a good church, and/or a 12 step program….a place where you can plug in, feel accepted, loved, cared for and supported, lifted up, encouraged. “No man is an island.” You will not be able to traverse this on your own. I think you’ve already discovered how difficult it is to “fix it” on your own.

You will be in my prayers this week.
You are not alone.

No matter what the situation; whether it’s a rough patch in your marriage, raising a difficult child, trying to kick a bad habit (or even a major addiction), dealing with the death of a loved one…….no matter what! God is watching over you, loving you, caring for you. Seek Him. Trust Him. Lean on Him. Focus on Him. You are not alone.


What Does True Love Feel Like?

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Earlier this week I had a Facebook friend private message me one of the toughest questions I’ve ever faced: What does true love feel like? I was actually taken aback by the question, because, 1) it came out of the blue and, 2) because I’ve never had to answer that question. I have answered other difficult questions…questions about God, Jesus, my faith, my family. But, never about how love “feels”. After several minutes of wracking my brain I started to think about the love in my life, and this was my response:

“Hmmmmm…..tough question. LOL. I’m not sure I can tell you what it “feels” like, but I can tell you what true love looks like for me.

“True love is selfless, self-sacrificing.”

True love is selfless, self-sacrificing. True love follows the model of Christ…. forgiveness, mercy, and it’s not about me…. it’s about Jesus first, then others and then me.

In a relationship, the only way to model true love is to have your priorities in order (Jesus, Others, You), and have your heart and mind in the right place. It’s a commitment; one you make every day. It’s not a once and done deal. I have to choose to commit every day, in every relationship.

For me, true love is having a husband, who doesn’t like heavy metal or rock music, take you to a live show, spend money on merchandise, stay out way too late…. just because he knows I love it. It’s when I go out of my way to do his laundry…. and when I encourage him in his endeavors and dreams…. even if it will take me outside my comfort zone, or interrupt my day. True love is knowing, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that my spouse loves me, likes me, (love and like are different LOL) supports me, (in my ministry, my music, my dreams) cares for me, provides for me (hates his job and goes anyway), is a wonderful father to our kids, makes time for me, etc.

I guess, in a nutshell, true love ‘feels’ like I’m special and cherished by someone.

I hope that helps.”

The Big Decision

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Two great moments in our lives are, 1) when we are born, and 2) the day we discover why we’re born.

decisionWe were created for a reason. A divine purpose. Our lives are not accidents or fate. Whether your parents were happily married, unhappily married or “hooking up” when you were conceived… Whether you’re adopted, lived in foster care, raised by an extended family member, living in an abusive home, or in a loving home…..God has a personal plan for each of us. His purpose in our lives can only be accomplished because of Jesus Christ.

The life of Jesus Christ is the turning point of ALL history. For example, our calendar hinges on His birth. This is a man from a small town called Nazareth, in the Middle East, prophets announced His birth hundreds of years before He arrived, He fulfilled every single prophecy regarding the Messiah in His lifetime. Many great men have come and gone, yet none of them were divine, announced beforehand, fulfilled all the messianic prophecies, except ONE man, Jesus Christ.

When Jesus started His ministry He selected 12 men to help Him. I think it’s important to note that all of Jesus’ disciples decided to follow Him. They weren’t tricked, coerced, manipulated…they made a choice. Another important note: each of them came from a different walk of life/family history. None of them were “awesome” or “one of a kind”. As a matter of fact, Peter had a really bad temper, Simon the Zealot is nearly a total mystery with very little known about him, and Andrew wasn’t as popular as his cousin John the Baptist, and lived in his shadow. There isn’t a single one that was incredibly important, until they met Jesus.  The point is, they simply believed.

“Then Peter opened his mouth and said: “In truth I perceive that God shows no partiality. But in every nation whoever fears Him and works righteousness is accepted by Him. The word which God sent to the children of Israel, preaching peace through Jesus Christ—He is Lord of all— that word you know, which was proclaimed throughout all Judea, and began from Galilee after the baptism which John preached: how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power, who went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with Him. And we are witnesses of all things which He did both in the land of the Jews and in Jerusalem, whom they killed by hanging on a tree. Him God raised up on the third day, and showed Him openly, not to all the people, but to witnesses chosen before by God, even to us who ate and drank with Him after He arose from the dead. And He commanded us to preach to the people, and to testify that it is He who was ordained by God to be Judge of the living and the dead. To Him all the prophets witness that, through His name, whoever believes in Him will receive remission of sins.”   Acts 10:34-43

Peter said that God wants to forgive us and bring peace into our lives. Jesus provides the way to peace—peace with God and peace with others. Other people have sinned against us and we have sinned against other people. We can do something about both by asking God to forgive us of our sins and forgiving others for their sins against us.

The life of Christ calls for a decision. Was He just a good teacher/spiritual leader? Or was He who He claimed to be? The Son of God, who has the power to forgive sins and grant everlasting life to all who will believe on Him. Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth and the life.”

Life has two roads, and we’re on one of them. One leads to death and eternal punishment. The other to everlasting life. Jesus taught us that every person will exist for eternity. Romans 6:23, For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. However, choosing the right road is simple. Romans 10:9-10, “…if you confess with your mouth the Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.  For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.”

We all know in our hearts that we have sinned. Even if we’ve never read the Bible, or can’t understand what it means to sin against God, we know we’re sinners. God created us with a conscience. We know what we don’t want others doing to us. We don’t want them lying , stealing from us or being unkind, and when we do it to other people our conscience let’s us know we have done wrong.

The penalty for sin is death. BUT, 2,000 years ago Jesus Christ, the holy Son of God, became a man. He lived for 33 years, without sin. Then He was murdered. He paid the penalty for sin without committing any crime. So death had no power over Him. After 3 days, He came back to life again. HE IS ALIVE! And now He offers forgiveness of sin and the gift of eternal life.

You can receive Christ as your Savior RIGHT NOW. You can tell Him in your own words that you’re sorry for your sins and want to receive Jesus as your Lord and Savior. Ask God to change your heart and life. It’s your prayer. He wants to hear you. You must say it from your heart and mean it. (Romans 10:9-10)

“God, I know I have sinned. I believe your son, Jesus Christ, died to take the punishment for my sin. I believe Jesus came back to life from death, and has the power to forgive my sins and change my life. Forgive me. Come into my life and change me. I want to live for you and follow your plan for my life. I believe you have forgiven me, and I thank you for hearing my prayer. In Jesus’ name, amen.”

God has forgiven you if you prayed this prayer and meant it from your heart. Now you can begin the life He has planned for you. Step by step God will lead you to what He has planned for you. He will show you the way to live.

My Husband, My Hero

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My husband, Chris, and I have been through a lot in the last 15 years of our relationship. Marriage, job loss, infertility, foreclosure, bankruptcy, four failed adoptions, a major move from Illinois to Colorado, being foster parents to 16 children within a 2 year period (lots of loss involved there), the foster/adoption of our son Nathan, the surprising birth of our biological daughter, Annabella, my near death experience after giving birth, loss of our business as a result of the time Chris took off to take care of me and the kids, difficulties with our son post adoption, ministry hardships and so much more. (That’s just to name a few.)

Chris and I CutePeople have often asked us how we’ve stayed married through all of this. Especially since, in today’s day and age, divorce is the new commitment. If it gets too hard you can always bail out. Most couples getting married, or talking about marriage, have their “out strategy” planned. Being a youth pastor I’ve heard many young people say, “I’m committed to the relationship until they do __________.” Our society’s “Have it Your Way” mentality, which is the McDonald’s slogan for having your sandwich with or without pickles, has morphed into how we view marriage. “I liked my spouse when we married, but now those things that I thought were cute are now annoying. So, I’m out.”  Many couples hit the Escape button when things get too uncomfortable. And we’re teaching the next generation to do the same.

(Disclaimer: There are lots of exceptions. Every realtionship has two people, and they deal with their own set of issues, personalities and experiences, etc.)

I am not trying to start a debate about marriage, or tell anyone how to live their life. However, Chris and I entered into this marriage knowing there’s only one way out; death. This idea sounds terribly morbid, however it’s Biblical. Plus, we knew each other really well before we got married. Not completely, but really well. And my parents raised me to be a committed person. My dad said on hundreds of occasions, “Dittmer’s don’t quit!” (my maiden name) So, when Chris and I got married we knew what we were getting into. His constant talking and trying to make jokes…I knew about it. My constant correcting, or “mothering” as he’s called it…he knew about. So, they’re not reasons to bail. It’s become a family joke, “I knew exactly what I was getting into, so it’s my fault!”

With that said, our marriage is not perfect. We are continuously working on ourselves and our marriage. But, we are unified in our efforts. We like being together. Spending time together is important to us, both alone and with our children. My husband is my best friend and I am his. We make a focused effort to maintain unity in our marriage, and we try to keep our priorities in order:

1. God
2. Marriage
3. Children
4. Everything else

Sometimes I fail. Actually, I fail way more than I succeed. But, I’m aware of the times I falter, whether by intuition (that snazzy women’s intuition) or by being told, or rather putting my foot in my mouth and having someone remove it for me. And I make an effort to correct it.

Unity in my marriage is extremely important to me. Knowing that my husband has my back and I have his provides me with the stability I need to function as a wife and mother, and wear the many hats that I do. My husband is a hard worker. He goes to work every day and gives 110%, no excuses. He is also a towering example of fatherhood and leadership for our family, church and community. He leads by example and I am proud to be his wife.

So, to answer the question of how we’ve stayed together through the good times and the bad times; through the well-to-do times and the Ramen noodle poor times; through sickness and health, until death do us part? Our bond is strong because we stay focused on Jesus and on each other. And nothing will divide us.

My husband, My HeroChris and I Bike
He’s the man I love.
The man I choose every day.
He’s my best friend.
The one I lean on.
The one I run to.
The one I trust.
He’s my husband.
He’s my hero.