No One Ever Cared for Me Like Jesus

hnI have shared a lot about Heidi recently. First when I interviewed her for “Inspiring Moms” then when she passed away, and then I recorded a song for her memorial.

Heidi encouraged me in so many ways including in worship. One day she approached me about singing a special solo in a Sunday service. Now you can’t just go requesting any song you want sung by any specific individual any time you feel like it. But my husband was the worship leader, and Heidi did get special privileges as the church member who was shall we say “most advanced in years”.

The song was “No One Ever Cared For Me Like Jesus”. The thing about this song was that she wanted to hear me sing it while she was still around and then sing it at her funeral when the time came. I’m not the best singer and there are plenty of girls who are more qualified on a performance level, but I don’t think Heidi cared about that. She cared about the words and she cared about the heart in which those words were delivered. The fact that she thought I would be the best person for the job is beyond humbling to me. Since then I moved away and had more and more kids making it extremely difficult to hop on a plane and fly in for the memorial service. I tried, but flying standby in the summer is definitely a gamble. It was really tearing me up inside. So Heidi’s family (some of my closest friends) suggested I send in a video.

I told them that considering my brother has a professional video/music studio I think we can pull a little something together. So I texted my brother and he agreed without hesitation.

It all went well and I was blessed by the positive feedback from Heidi’s family, including those I have never met.

Then on Sunday, my dad shared the video on Facebook with this caption

“Allow me to be a proud father this day… It is so rare to get this girl to sing publicly. Thanks Mrs. Lewiston for stretching her.”

A lot of people were commenting about how shocked they were that I could sing and they had no idea. Like I said that doesn’t mean I am a superstar with a phenomenal range and ability. I don’t have a secret desire to be a singer at all, but it did rekindle the love I have for music and worship and collaborating with my husband.

Just a couple days ago I was listening to a podcast and one of the guests talked about growing up in a musical family. It got me thinking; when Z and SJ were born I would have described our family as musical. Their dad was full time worship leader and their second home was a coffee shop with open mic night and musical festivals. Then we moved and SJ was diagnosed with profound hearing loss and life got crazy. Ezie and Elle haven’t really been exposed to that musical side of our lives at all since they have been born. I talked to J about how this made me kind of bummed and how I really liked working with him on a song for the first time in over 5 years!

Now that our lives are finally finding a steady rhythm again (no pun intended) I am inspired to cultivate a culture of music in our home once more and I have Heidi to thank for that.

No One Ever Cared for Me Like Jesus – Jeremy and Natalie Busch – Heidi Lewiston from Brandon Weaver on Vimeo.

By | June 22nd, 2017|Uncategorized|1 Comment

52 Commands of Jesus for Children Book Review and GIVEAWAY

Last year we did Advent at Christmas time. My kids loved it and learned so much from it. I wanted to ride the wave of their enthusiasm for the Word and made it my NUMBER ONE new year’s goal for 2017 to do weekly devotions with the kids. So I started the year doing what I typically do; wing it. We went through the fruits of the spirit and I had them cut out fruit shapes as we studied each of the nine attributes over the course of 9 weeks.

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They also learned the sign language for 5:22-23 which was awesome (too bad I can’t get the video to load).

Then we moved into the Lord’s Prayer and now we say it as a family almost every night.

I’ve really wanted to keep this up, but we’ve been lingering on The Lord’s Prayer for a while and I wasn’t sure where to go next. That’s when Susan Shipe of Hope Heart Home put out a request for bloggers to review her new book 52 Commands of Jesus for Children-    A One Year Devotional with 52 Coloring Pages I jumped at the opportunity.

This is exactly what I had been looking for, a one year devotional-journal for parents to use with their children. 

The book goes through 52 commands and character qualities of Jesus. One for each week of the year. I can’t think of anything better than unpacking the things that Jesus taught us and to really focus on them one at a time. I love it so much I could just about forget the children and keep it to myself. Just kidding, I can share. I want to share! I really want my kids to get this and it’s something that you can use over and over.

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If you do want to reuse the book or if you have more than one child and don’t want your children to color on the pages you can print copies of the individual images and graphics from Susan’s website (here).

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In the introduction of the book, Susan says “The 52 Commands of Jesus, found in the Gospels, each teach a character quality and it is that which offers the great lesson- how do we instill these characteristics in our children? This devotional is a simple place to begin the journey”

Just a few examples of the character qualities covered in the book are virtue, determination, justice, and contentment. Remember when I talked about choosing two main character traits for your family to focus on as core values? My husband and I chose compassion and self-control and those are both covered in the book 52 Commands of Jesus for Children (day 21 and day 7) so I can’t wait to go over them with the kids.

I know I am talking about character when the book is about the commands of Jesus, but each command is paired with the character trait. Commands and character go hand in hand which is a lesson in itself. Jesus gave us lots of instruction, but he was clearly most concerned about our hearts. He taught that obedience must be from the heart rather than just technical observance of the law (Matthew 5:21-22, 27-28, 31-32, 33-34, 38-42, 43-44, etc.) This is why I really love how Susan did put a character quality with each command. What a great way to teach kids this valuable lesson that you can’t just follow the laws because you are determined, but because Christ changed you. If you LOVE him you will keep his COMMANDS (John 14:15).

I’ve looked over the book and obviously gotten excited about the 52 Commands of Jesus for Children, but since my oldest son has been out of town I decided to wait for him to get back to get started. I’m sure I’ll have more to say and follow up once we all go through it.

Now for some really fun news. Susan is giving away one copy of 52 Commands of Jesus for Children to one of you! If you have kids, teach Sunday School, homeschool, or are a caregiver you will want this devotion. Better yet, just go to Amazon for your guaranteed copy. The book is only $12.99 (or $6.99 for the ebook) and the information in it is sound Biblical teaching with invaluable impact.  


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I’ll announce the winner of the giveaway in one week.

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Also, if you missed my feature about Susan’s testimony you can check that out here and there is a fantastic interview with Susan about the 52 Commands of Jesus for Children over here at Life Letter Cafe.

This is such an exciting book launch and giveaway. I am so grateful that I get to be a part of it!

By | June 16th, 2017|Uncategorized|3 Comments

Inspiring Mom 003: Susan Shipe


Today’s Inspiring mom has been a mother for 48 years. She has 3 kids and 2 grandchildren. She blogs regularly at HopeHeartHome.com and is the author of 10 books, one of which is launching this week!!!!
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When Susan was 8 years old she gave her heart to Jesus. The Bible was her standard and life was very black and white. If only things could always stay so simple, but the path that had appeared so clearly straight as a little girl would eventually become more and more blurred.

When Susan was 12 her parents got a divorce and she was uprooted from Florida to New Jersey to be raised by her mom.

When she was 16 she decided that she was fed up with the rundown “hood schools” of New Jersey and quit before her Senior year.

When she was 17 she fell head over heals in love with a soldier who she married the day after he returned from Vietnam. She was advised not to marry but thought their love for one another would conquer all and for a long time it did.

However, after 11 years of marriage and three children, ages 9, 7, and the (surprise) newborn baby boy, Susan discovered the most devastating news she would ever hear. Standing in her dream home that she and her husband had built together she looked at the love of her life and was crushed by the words he was telling her. 

He was a police officer. He was supposed to be noble and faithful. He was supposed to be the head of their home and the protector of their family and here he was wounding her and tearing their family and dreams apart.

For months he had been having an affair and the horrendous details destroyed Susan. The pain felt unbearable. Susan says “My life stopped. I think I stopped breathing for at least three months.

So she left their home with her three kids in tow to find a small place of their own and make a new life, although not necessarily a better one. 

Susan had spent the past 12 years being the good wife. She sacrificed anything and everything for her kids and her husband without realizing that she was emotionally on a one way street that would leave her banged up from a head on collision with a husband who was going the wrong direction.

That’s when Susan decided to quit. She was done being the good girl. She rebelled and became promiscuous. She searched for approval from men. For the next several years Susan would burry all the hurt and insecurity and just live the worldly life that she thought would keep her numb.

In the midst of the hurt and confusion, Susan still had a young family to take care of.

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She was high school dropout who had never worked outside of the home and now it was up to her to provide for her family. She immediately took the G.E.D. test passing highest percentile in her class. As she got her certificate her sister hummed the song played during the graduation march. Then she was off to find a job.

At that time all the kids were in school except for her youngest who was about three years old. Susan saved gas by making her way around on a bicycle with her toddler in a seat on the back. Her first job was as a courier delivering paper files from one office to the other (this was before computers and email). When she was out of the office she would ride around on her bicycle and collect aluminum cans to recycle to buy groceries.  She saw life as an adventure.

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Eventually she would move up in careers and begin working for a magazine. For a while this dream job lit a fire in Susan because she knew in her heart she was a writer. Except in the end it was a woman’s lib magazine and a horrible fit for her. So she left that job and ended up working for a property manger. He asked her if she had ever run an office before. Susan confidently answered, “No but I’ve run a household”. With that she shook hands with the man that would teach her everything she ever needed to know about business. It was an incredible stepping stone and Susan learned so much from that career, but unfortunately there was some illegal maneuvering of funds going on so she quit and went to work for another company doing property management in Palm Beach.

This is how Susan ended working for Donald Trump. That’s right. Back in 1985 Susan worked for the man who is now President of the United States. For the record, Susan states “He was very nice and I can honestly report that he was always a gentleman.”

Susan may have lost sight of God but He never lost sight of her. One night she was camping in Idaho smoking pot around a campfire and the Lord gave her a vision of a triple yield sign and it involved her children. Susan said He basically was warning me to return to Him. I listened and began the “return trip.” He had a lifeline on me and gently, oh so gently began reeling me in. I’ve never looked back and I have NEVER gone back on the vow I made Him that very night. Yes, Lord.” 

As far as a second chance at love, Susan’s knight in shining armor rode into her life on a vintage Norton motorcycle and the two of them got married in a teepee and they have lived happily ever after…

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Well, that’s the short fairy tale version. In the real life version, there are struggles that come with being a step parent and having teenagers that are bucking heads. There were times that Susan certainly felt like quitting but she says five years into the marriage when she was whining to her mom about the blended marriage and all the difficulties. That is when her mom gave her what she says is the best advice she had ever gotten she said “Susan, when those kids grow up and leave, and they will leave. You will be at home and that man will not leave you.”

Her mother was right. Her kids are all grown up and have been out of the nest for a long time now.

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Susan has spent the past 29 years living on a gorgeous 14.25 acre ranch in North Carolina with the man that makes her laugh every single day.

20151227_142003 She has a heart of forgiveness and walks in freedom thanks to a God that redeems the broken hearted. Her “was-band” as she calls her ex is still a part of her children’s lives and when Susan sees him now she can thank the Lord for His mercy in the entire situation. She says “God had a plan and I’m living it. God redeems what looks broken and hopeless and uses it for His glory and our good. He is my hero and good, good Father!

Susan advice to women facing similar hurts and struggles is to learn from her mistakes and “Run as fast as you can into the arms of the Lord rather than away from Him!”

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I’d like to give a big Thank you to Susan for allowing me to interview her and share a snippet of her testimony. Come back later this week as I review the phenomenal 52 week devotion she wrote called 52 Commands of Jesus for Children. It’s a really fantastic resource and I am so excited to be able to give away a copy to one of my readers so definitley check back this Thursday to learn more. 

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By | June 12th, 2017|Uncategorized|4 Comments

Goodbye for Now Dear Friend

I was playing dominos with my family memorial day when I got the text. Our dear friend Heidi, a.k.a Granny, had passed away.

She was 96 years old so it might sound like it wouldn’t be shocking at all, except it was. She was doing great and I had just talked with her a couple weeks before.

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I interviewed Heidi back in March for my inspiring mom series. We talked at length about her life experiences, her passions and pursuits, her encounter with Jesus as Her Lord. It was a wonderful conversation that I felt priviledged to have. I cried when she told me to enjoy my babies while they were young and I was still evrything to them. It was sage wisdom and I needed the reminder.

Heidi was always an encourager. At our church in Texas she welcomed everyone and she would greet her special friends with a kiss on the cheek. I don’t do “friend kisses”, but Heidi was certainly an exception. One of the sweetest compliments she ever gave me was she said in her soft weathered voice “Whenever I see a pretty dress I think of you“. I’m not super girly, but on Sundays I do like to wear pretty dresses. In fact when I got one of those “All About Mommy” fill in the blank sheets for Mother’s Day this year one of the sentences was “My mom looks beautiful when ____________” and SJ wrote she gos to chrch (meaning goes to church). I know a lot of churches are casual these days and I am totally 100 percent cool with that, but I still have a section of my closet for my Sunday best. I think it’s precious that Heidi thought of me as the girl that wore pretty dresses to church and 10 years later so does my 7 year old.

 

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Although I have to admit Heidi’s passing has changed my walk with God in a dramatic way. It was less than a month ago that I published that interview with Heidi for Inspiring Moms. Just weeks ago she called me up raving about how much she loved the piece and it brought her so much joy to relive those moments and walk down memory lane. She lived life to the fullest and saw God’s faithfulness at home and abroad. At the end of our wonderful conversation she said “I think I am going to go read the story again”. It is an encouragement to me to hear so much positive feedback from Heidi’s friends and family that read this testimony that was so fresh from her heart, but even more so I am grateful that Heidi got to read it before she left this earth and to hear that it meant so much to her. What a blessing.

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It’s the timing of it all that blows my mind. We had absolutely no way of knowing that out of her vibrant 96 years that very month that I posted Heidi’s story God was going to call her home, BUT GOD KNEW! He knew. And I feel a tangible increase in faith knowing that I can hear from God. He is directing my path. It’s one thing to believe that, but to it’s another to see it in action. As a mother of four sometime it feels like I am under house arrest and it’s hard to hear anything let alone that still small voice. But because of Heidi’s story I was reminded that God is in control.

Those of us close to Heidi are all saddened by her abscence, but we know she is now living a life greater than any of us could ever imagine.

By | June 5th, 2017|Uncategorized|1 Comment

Elle at 18 Months

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Elleis 18 months old now and doing great.

As many of you know Elle was born with hearing loss that was originally detected during a newborn screening. The inconclusive results then led us to Cincinnati Children’s hospital where she received several ABR tests (auditory brainstem response hearing test).

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When those test showed mild hearing loss it was assumed that she would lose all of her hearing because that is what happened with her big sister. However, the doctors still wanted to do a genetic test just in case there was a different reason for Elle to have hearing loss.

Turns out that slim chance actually came true and Elle has a different type of hearing loss than her big sister SJ.

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That’s when the doctors wanted to test my genetics to see how we were ending up with all of these different results. The tests showed that I have a genetic hearing loss and it is the same kind that was passed on to Elle.

It all turned out just fine in the end, but what a wild emotional rollercoaster we were on last year. I share that backstory to say with great enthusiasm that Elle is starting to talk and we are ecstatic! There was so much hanging on her hearing loss that we didn’t expect these first words to come as soon as they have and every single utterance has been music to our ears.

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She doesn’t have any sentences yet, but she is using new spontaneous language every single day.

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It’s been so much fun watching her explore and discover the world around her. I think one-year-olds are my favorite. I really love this age sooooo much.

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The thumb sucking is still going strong and the funny thing is Elle loves to put one hand in her mouth and the other down my shirt.

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She does it to J too.

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The other thing is grabbing her ponytail. She sticks her thumb in her mouth and the other hand reaches up and grabs her ponytail.

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I don’t mind the thumbsucking. In fact I am glad she is able to self sooth, but I do worry about when she turns two and we try to potty train, wean from breastfeeding, and wean from thumbsucking. I know we won’t be able to make all of those abrupt changes at once. That would be crazy! I just haven’t decided what order to do it all in. I guess we’ll cross that bridge when we get to it.

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The good news is she is already in her own little bed and she also moved from the baby carseat (shown below) to the next size up.

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That’s the latest for this little lady. We are looking forward to a fun summer!


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By | May 23rd, 2017|Uncategorized|5 Comments

The 5 Year Mark

It’s been five years since we found out that SJ was deaf.

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5 years of trying to unlock a world of communication for her.

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5 years of moving our family from house to house to get to a place that would have the resources that she needs.

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5 years of aiming to balance a fulfilling childhood with the ground work for unlimited options.

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Before SJ was even officially diagnosed I longed to be able to speak with her. I didn’t care how, but I wanted to be able to love her and teach her through words and for her to express her thoughts to me as well. I wondered what was going on in her mind. She was clearly an intelligent, independent thinker, but she had no words to piece together.

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Having no time to loose I scraped together every resource I could find on ASL. That’s when I met a lady who is an ASL teacher from Denton Texas and she recommended the show Switched at Birth.

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I found it on Netflix and binge watched all of season one (which was all there was at the time). I could watch deaf actors and hearing actors sign in a comprehensive way that was easy to follow. I would pause and repeat scenes until I was able to understand the signs without reading the subtitles. Eventually I could see exactly what they were signing and why they used certain signs even when it wasn’t a direct translation of the audible script. This show was an answer to prayer for me.

There were a lot of cheesy or even frustrating story lines along the way, but I craved the sign language and Switched at Birth met that need. The show was obviously dwindling down a while ago, but then last year they officially announced the final season. I watched the final episode to get my ASL fix and was completely unprepared for how it would affect me.

The first scene was with the two moms, Katherine and Regina.

Regina: Do you realize it’s been five years since the switched was discovered and we met?

Katherine: No. Has it been five years?

Regina: Mmm hmm.

Then Regina talks about how much everything has changed and announces that she is going to move out.

Katheryn says No.

Regina says-

It’s time.

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Thanks a lot for leaving out the trigger warning Freeform! Of course I’m joking. This would mean nothing to most viewers (other than getting a little teary eyed about their favorite teen drama), but it represented so much for me! That’s when I realized it was May of 2012, the day of the Kentucky Derby in Lousiville Kentucky that SJ was diagnosed, exactly 5 years ago.

5 seasons of Switched at Birth is so much more than just five years of watching a show. It’s been a huge part of my new life as a mother to a deaf child. So when the characters say that so much has changed and that it is time to move on it touches a nerve.

As you know we just recently moved and in just a few months SJ will begin her final year at her deaf school. It’s a big season of closure and I am feeling all the feels. So to have closure with this show as well just seems too perfect.

In one scene they show flashbacks from season one and Emmet tells Bay that it is “the end of an era”. I know this is ridiculous, but it’s almost like God put this show in front of me for the exact time that I needed it and now I don’t need it anymore because this battle to give SJ a language is ending. We did it! She can communicate now! We are just tying up a few loose ends over the next year before she spreads her little wings. No, she’s not going to college, but close enough.

I remember when SJ said her first word. She was three years old and we were living in my brother’s basement. She wanted to go upstairs and said “up”.

I remember the Christmas that she was finally able to say words like gloves, snowman, and angel.

I remember when she said I paint pumpkin and I was thrilled that I could hear a little about what her day was like.

I remember when she said In 2018 I will graduate and then I will go to my new school. That was a couple weeks ago. Each passing milestone has brought tears to my eyes because what may be a routine achievement for some is a major victory for us.

Switched at birth was a major stepping stone for me in learning a second language which helped my daughter learn a first language, and for that reason Switched at Birth will always hold a special place in my heart.

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Signing “brush teeth” when SJ was two-years-old

 

By | May 16th, 2017|Uncategorized|3 Comments

It Turns Out Mom Was Right

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I was going to write a Facebook status about my mom. I wanted to share just one thing about the kind of mother she was and what it has taught me. But then I thought of another thing, and another, and I could probably keep going.

So instead of writing a ridiculously long Facebook status, I decided to take it to the blog. Here are three things that I may not have necessarily appreciated when I was growing up, but now that I am an adult I see how much it made me the person I am today, and I am grateful for it.

1. Mom loved dad.

She not only loved my dad, but she respected him, honored him, and stuck with him through thick and thin. They didn’t start out in the ideal situation. They were very young when they became parents. I don’t think she will mind me sharing, but they didn’t even mean to become parents…when they were dating… as teenagers. But it did happen and they got married, had four kids, and now they are going on 37* years of marriage. I would always roll my eyes and become nauseous at the slightest bit of PDA from my parents and my mom would always say “you should be happy that we love each other”. Well, you were right mom. I am happy that you love each other and that you showed it in many ways.

2. Mom was crazy!

My mom was not the type to sit beside the pool getting a suntan. She is a mountain girl always ready to jump in with both feet, and as a mother, it showed. One time she picked up a huge turtle shell that was on the side of the road and put in the back of our giant clunky VW van. While we were out at soccer practice this giant snapping turtle emerged from its shell and climbed up to the front of the van to where it was peeking over the dashboard! After the turtle started hissing at us, my mom returned it to a lake near our house. Fortunately, no humans or animals were harmed in the process.

I also remember when the Nintendo Power Pad came out in the 80’s and mom was right there with us joining in the fun. So much so that she actually sprained her ankle on the thing!

Lastly, I will never forget the time my oldest brother was explaining a science experiment where you set a piece of paper on fire put in a glass and attach it to your skin. The flame will immediately extinguish and the glass should stick to you when you let go. My brother was sticking it to his arm and stomach, but it wouldn’t work. So my mom volunteered to demonstrate the experiment on her face and it worked! The problem was it worked a little too well. Her entire cheek was sucked into the glass and it was stuck there. Once the glass did come off she had a hickey that belonged in the book of world records.

There are many other stories like that. Although there were times I was embarrassed by some of her antics, I wouldn’t trade my spontaneous mom for a tan one any day!

3. Mom was nosey.

I will never forget being in the sixth grade and planning a double date on the phone with my friend. We had it all figured out. My mom would drop me off at my friend’s house and then we would go to the theater where the boys would meet us.

When I got off the phone my mom asked what was going on and I simply told her that I was wanting to go to the movies with my friend. The more she prodded the more intricate my web of deception became until she finally admitted to listening in on my conversation (good ol‘ land lines) and told me that I was welcome to meet the boys at that movie theater, but she would be having a seat in the row behind me. UGHHHH, gag me with a spoon! I ended up not going to the movies. Looking back now I am so thankful I didn’t start dating that young. Who knows what kind of trouble I could have found myself in.

Then there was the time she tore into my brother’s best friend when she overheard him drop the F-bomb, or she found out that one of us had littered, and the list goes on. I felt like she did allow us freedom and privacy, but she wasn’t afraid to pry, eavesdrop, or butt in. She said the Holy Spirit would let her know when she needed to and I am sure she was right. So thanks mom for being so nosey.

 

 

Those are just a few of the things that I can now say that I am so grateful for. There are lots and lots of other reasons I love and appreciate my mom. I hope I can gross my kids out and embarrass them just as much as she did for me.

Happy Mother’s Day.

*This post was originally published 3 years ago. My parents will be celebrating 40 years of marriage this year!

By | May 11th, 2017|Uncategorized|1 Comment

Inspiring Moms 002: Heidi Lewiston

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It’s time for the second installment of Inspiring Moms, and I am so excited to virtually introduce you to one of my all time favorite people and I’m not exaggerating. Her first name is Harriet, but she goes by Heidi and is known by many as Granny. It is an honor to share a teensy-weensy bit of her story with you today.

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Heidi Lewiston is 96 years old, but you would never know it. The lady has more spunk than many women who are less than half her age. She still lives on her own and has a driver’s license. She gets around town in her PT Cruiser, a car known for its modern design with a 1930’s flair. As you will soon learn this vehicle suits Heidi’s personality well.

I asked Heidi, What is your secret to being so vibrant after nearly a century of life? and she attributed it to the grace of God, although she also admits she stays active in her community. Heidi is involved at her church (The Lighthouse in Midlothian Texas, which is where we met) and she goes to the pool twice a week for aerobics. She also enjoys shopping, going to restaurants, and hanging out with her friends.

Heidi says the only unfortunate thing abut growing old is having a phone book full of people that are now gone, but she still feels blessed to be here and has a lifetime of amazing stories to share and inspire others with.

Heidi was the wife of the highly decorated senior Navy officer Andy Lewiston, but he didn’t hold such a distinguished titled when they met. In fact, Heidi first met Andy when he was a scrappy ten-year-old boy from a small town in Iowa. They went to school together from 5th to 10th grade and were friends until Heidi moved to California at the age of 15.

She didn’t see Andy again until 1940 when Heidi returned to her hometown. They began a relationship as Andy pursued furthering his education at the University of Iowa and then enlisted in the Navy to become a Naval officer. He spent 5 years in the Pacific and was in the war of Pearl Harbor. After the war was over he came back home and Heidi and Andy were married on April 4th, 1946.

They did their part contributing to the baby boom by adding a total of four little ones to their family. Andy’s dream was to become a dentist, but after everything he had been exposed to in the war this brilliant man found it very difficult to concentrate so he went back to the Navy where he faithful served for 25 years.

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While in the Navy they moved 22 times. Heidi still had a slight tone of resentment in her voice when she remembered how she had to remake curtains every time they moved. The old curtains never worked with the new windows in each home and sewing them was such a laborious task. All these years later Heidi explains: That’s why I don’t have any curtains in my home now. I’m over it. 

Heidi wasn’t exactly the quintessential Navy wife. When she married Andy the current Navy Captain’s wife gave her a book called “The Navy Wife” and it was full of rules from cover to cover stating what was expected of her. There was a culture at that time in which the code of conduct represented in the military would be apparent at home as well.

Wives were required to keep their children in line. The house and children must always be presentable between the hours of 4 and 6 and there were social expectations as well. Order and structure were a top priority. The way Heidi described it I pictured the Von Trapp family in the Sound of Music before Maria arrived. 

Heidi is clear that she is grateful for that time that they served in the military. However, when I asked her if there was anything she would change about her experience as a mom she answered without hesitation

“I put too much pressure on my oldest children in those early years”.

Heidi felt like she missed out on a lot, specifically with her oldest daughter because she was still trying to live up to the unrealistic standards of what it meant to be a Navy Wife. Heidi recalls a family that lived next door with 10 children. Their house was the opposite of order, but no one could deny it was full of life. One year for Halloween the mother of the rowdy brood approached Heidi with a gift. She had made a Halloween costume for Heidi’s daughter because Heidi was simply too busy. Heidi fought to push the guilt aside as she prepared for the next social event. She wanted her daughter to dress up, stay clean, go to cotillion and to ultimately become a proper young lady. It was a lot of pressure for all of them.

Eventually, Heidi saw the undue strain that she was putting on her daughter and she was able to loosen the expectations that she was putting on both of them. Once again Heidi gives credit to God’s grace and mercy for how proud she is of her four grown children, 6 grandchildren, and 5 great-grandchildren. 

Hedi’s husband Andy passed away in 2002 at 81 years old.

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I asked her what some of her fondest memories were. Her mind immediately transported her to a sea of reflections and I was along for the ride as she ventured back to a very special moment. It was the feast of tabernacles in Jerusalem. The year was 1978. 

We traveled by bus from Cairo Egypt to see [our daughter] who was living in Jerusalem at the time. We learned Jewish dances and got to see so many of the places we had read about in the Bible. The people were very nice there. The experience had such an impact that we returned to Israel at the end of the war of the northern border in Lebanon. They invited volunteers to come in and work at the hospitals because all of the able bodied people were fighting.

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I had become a licensed vocational nurse when my youngest son was 16 and I was in my 50s. I had always wanted to be a nurse, but when I graduated high school in 1938 my father was ill and I could not go to college. Mother had to go back to work and we all took care of dad. That’s why I didn’t actually see my dream of nursing become a reality until I was 53 years old and got my first employment! I had been working as a nurse for 8 months when I met a doctor who had been a minister at the Congo. He inspired me and invited us  to a full gospel business meeting. I was born again when I was 54 years old. Up until that point I never felt like I was pleasing God. I had never truly encountered Jesus until that day when I received the Holy Spirit and finally knew that Jesus was pleased with me as I was and it was GLORIOUS.

[Back to our time in Israel in January 1st, 1990] we were planning to go for 3 weeks for work, but ended up staying there for 9 months working at the hospital and doing various jobs. We lived in a 5 story brick dormatory in one room with a small bath and two cots. They had us go though exams and interviews with the rabbi there. We were under strict orders not to share the gospel and had to sign papers saying that we would not evangelize. We did however have the opportunity to serve people and pray with them. When people would ask us questions about our faith we would say “We serve the same the God. The God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.”  I still email and keep in touch with many of the people we met from there.

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After hearing so much of Heidi’s incredible story I had two final questions. 

What has been your favorite part of motherhood? 

I remember when I first saw each of my babies faces. Back then babies stayed three days in the hospital and the father didn’t touch the baby until you leave. Those first moments home together as a family were the best. We would just stand by the crib looking at the newborn amazed. I remember we would say to each other “He breathes so well”.  I need to spend more time remembering those precious times, like when they first learn to walk. I kind of walk that way now.

What encouragement would you give to the moms out there in the thick of it that feel like giving up because they are overwhelmed?

I would say to realize that these are best days of your life when you’ve got little kids and you are everything to them. When your children need you. Yes, those are the best days. I wasn’t aware because I was trying to live up to the Navy Wife ideals. I still have no regrets. They all turned out great. I am very grateful. The Lord has been so good. I am so thankful and happy and full of peace. I marvel at how good God is to me, that at this time in my life I could be so at peace and enjoy everyday. I know it God’s grace.

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By | May 8th, 2017|Uncategorized|2 Comments

I Will Never Show My Kids 13 Reasons Why

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I watched 13 Reasons Why the day it launched on Netflix.

I had no idea what I was getting into. I started watching because it was spring break here and my schedule was freed up a little. I immediately text my best friend after the first episode.

 

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I normally wouldn’t watch stuff like this. I have a very low threshold for shows that have any form of sexual assault at all! I am vehemently opposed to this type of entertainment. As a self-proclaimed prude, I have no excuse or idea why I got roped into this show. 

My exact words to my friend that day were “It’s like a murder mystery with a twist” because that is how it started. Innocent enough. Each episode after that got darker with more and more vulgar language, evil malicious intent, violence, and dishonesty. A few of the episodes had warnings at the beginning and so I stopped… briefly, but then I was just too curious to see how the show ended.

So then when those horrific scenes happened I tried to fast forward (or whatever you call it in these modern times), but then I would miss important voice over information. So I would just wince and close my eyes and quite frankly I would cry.

 

Netflix offers a bonus feature that includes interviews with directors and actors from the show called “Beyond the Reasons”. It’s obvious that their intentions for filming the way they did were to raise awareness and start some dialogue about these very serious issues. They said things like:

“we weren’t shying away from the ugliness”

“[that scene] was one of the most difficult to film. We didn’t look away from the sexual assaults in the show because to do otherwise is to minimize what those characters go through.”

“The goal was to try and represent everything as authentically and as truthful as possible”

“We had a number of people ask us along the way why we had Hannah kill herself in the way we did and why we showed it. We worked very hard not to be gratuitous, but we did want it to be painful to watch because we wanted it to be very clear that there is nothing in any way worthwhile about suicide.”

Okay, hold it right there. “We did want it to be painful to watch”. I didn’t actually see all of it because I chose to look away. The problem, in my opinion, is that there is a thing called desensitization and it is very real. The more you see something the more you are okay with it. It becomes less painful. That shock factor that the show gained is now the starting point for every other show to be more cutting edge; to be MORE authentic and truthful. Where do we draw the line?

Not to mention that while these kinds of graphic depictions are detestable and painful to many of us, the same images are only fuel for those with mental health problems.

I have said it before “When a story line includes a young child being molested that horrendous act can be implied without it having to be reenacted and displayed for all to see on the big screen and the same respect should be shown to women when it comes to rape”.

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 I’ll end with this excerpt from an email that I got from my child’s school yesterday. The subject line was “Message from Superintendent on Netflix Series” 

 

… our students’ safety and well being are a top priority. We are concerned about the negative impact of a new Netflix series called 13 Reasons Why based on the book by Jay Asher. It tells the fictional story of a high school student who dies by suicide and leaves behind recordings to the people whom she blames for her dissatisfaction with life. There have been concerns about the series from suicide prevention experts about the potential risks posed by the sensationalized treatment of youth suicide.

Experts, including the Nationwide Children’s Hospital Behavioral Health and JED Foundation, do not recommend that vulnerable youth watch this series. While many teens and young adults are resilient and capable of differentiating between a TV drama and real life, engaging in thoughtful conversations with them about the show is vital.

There were plenty of helpful links, tips, and phone numbers included in the email as well. I appreciate the school taking a stand and addressing the issue.

In conclusion, I thought the show was a very accurate portrayal of high school and agree that we don’t need to turn a blind eye to these issues. On the other hand, I don’t think that more graphic, more realistic visual details equal more effective. My kids are too young for the show anyway, but if they weren’t I would say no. This is not the tool I would use to teach with. I’m siding with the superintendent on this one.

By | May 3rd, 2017|Uncategorized|2 Comments

Ugly House Problems

We recently purchased our second real life fixer upper. We literally found the worst house in the best neighborhood to turn into our dream home. Now all we have to do is to tear down some walls (which will inevitably be load bearing), add a fresh coat of paint, discover and/or install shiplap, put in a custom island, and call up HGTV to let them know we are ready to fill in for Chip and Joanna.

That’s the TV way. That’s the American way. But it’s not reality. Not for most people.

I am not serious about those design plans for the record. If you watch Fixer Upper you know that first paragraph is pretty much quoting the show verbatim.

I am a huge Fixer Upper fan by the way, but I also I love this blog post by Mary Carver called “Why I Don’t Want Watch Fixer Upper” . In it Mary talks about how Fixer Upper and similar HGTV programs and home renovation shows appeal to the part of her that is so unsatisfied with what she has. There is nothing wrong with these shows, but if it’s causing you to covet or be discontent why would you want to feed that? I can certainly relate.

These days there is SO much emphasis on outward appearance, whether it’s our bodies, clothes, hair, or house. Have you seen the dumpy cars with bumper stickers like this?

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Or this?

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We make jokes, apologies, or disclaimers because we are all too aware that maybe our possessions don’t measure up. I want a sticker for my house that says “We are renovating”, because I want people to know that I can see how ugly my house is before they have the chance to think it. My brother came over for the first time on Easter and said “I think I saw a house exactly like this as the “before” on Property Brothers.” That pretty much sums it up. The main bathroom is red with black accents. One of my friends hit the nail on the head when she described it as gothic. The stair railing has painted grape accents that say 1994 Olive Garden and are a far cry from farm house chic. When I say we are renovating people think of an Extreme Home Makeover approach, but that’s not the direction we are heading.

This house was move in ready when we bought it. We don’t HAVE to fix much and the aesthetics are not something that are a priority right now.

Our old house was what I called the seven year flip.

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You can see the other pictures and read all the details, including how much we profited here.

I think seven years (not for paint, but for the WHOLE project) is a realistic marker and that means that our kids will be in or somewhat near the teenage years by the time it’s done. It is crazy to even think about, but hopefully they will be less likely to destroy everything at that age.

Anyway, this isn’t even what I was going to talk about today. I wanted to talk about the big blessing we received last week and instead I became a little squeamish and ashamed to even post pictures of my family room.

This family room is so perfectly amazing for us. It has its own bathroom and kitchenette area with a refrigerator and a microwave. We went from no microwave to two! From one bathroom to three! We never even had a family room or a working fire place before.

All of this is really exciting, but instead all I could think about was the tacky faux stone that looks like giraffe print. So I felt a need to give a disclaimer. 

The fact is it’s an awesome family room. We are blessed. The kids have a blast down there building forts and playing legos.

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The icing on the cake is that J’s boss was getting rid of his old flat screen and offered it to us. When we moved to Ohio 4 years ago we still had a box TV. Then my dad bought us this little flat screen which was awesome because we had a tiny apartment and it took up less space than the box. The small screen size worked out perfect when it’s on the floor level in close proximity to the couch, but when we moved into our house and had it up on the mantel in a large room it felt really small.

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So you can imagine how elated we were to receive a free 42 inch smart TV.  Isn’t that cool?

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Little by little we’ll be incorporating our own style, but in the mean time I’m not going to look like the miserable person in the “before” photo.

By | May 2nd, 2017|Uncategorized|14 Comments