Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Girl Crush


Lately, everything I see, hear, read, and experience has made it glaringly obvious that I have a...girl crush?

Well, maybe I wouldn't refer to myself as having a girl crush, but when I heard the song Girl Crush by Little Big Town, I had a major wow moment.  If you're not a country music fan, humor me for 3 minutes, 27 secs and watch this video.  :-)



To be honest, this blog post has been sitting as a draft for a few weeks.  The ah ha moment came when I heard the song, but in true God fashion, He had a few more things to show me before releasing me to write.  LOL  I actually really love the process.  The process.

So, after listening to the chorus it is easy to determine that the song is not describing an actual girl crush.  Instead, it is about coveting someone else's characteristics, desiring their partner, and discontentment wrapped up in a lusty alto country chorus.  I enjoy the song, but it made me think. "Oh geez, Jocelynn!  What am I coveting?  What am I discontent with now?"

Well...?

Well, here it is.  I am covetous of appearances.  The couple that looks so lovey.  They hold hands and pass adoring looks.  They always say things are great, and by George they look fabulous!  My little feelings get to rising up and I think, "Jonathon and I must be the only couple that struggles with X."  Absolutely silly, I know.  Silly and dangerous.  You honestly never know what is going on in another relationship.  You don't know the struggles and sacrifices that led to the celebrations, or perceived celebrations.  Great marriages don't just happen.  I have to check myself.  Refocus my gaze.  Coveting what other couples appear to have will never get me a closer relationship with Christ or my husband.



I also covet time.  I think Priscilla Shirer says it best in The Resolution for Women:

     As a teenager, I'd impatiently rushed toward young adulthood full throttle.  As a single university student I couldn't wait to be in a committed relationship and out of college so that life could "really begin."  Then with a loving mate promised for life, I enjoyed our first yeas of marriage, but during some of them secretly harbored discontentment with our childlessness.  And when the kids started coming, the nights were long and the days even longer, and I prayed through each of them that bedtime would come more quickly today than I'd remember it coming the day before. (Shirer 14)




How many days did I think about how great life would be once I got out of my parents house?  Zoooom.  How many days did I pray for my husband?  Zoooom.  How many days did I cry for children?  Zooooom.  How many days do I complain because the kids are wearing my out?  Zoooom.  How many days do I whine about wanting to start working full time already?  Zoooom.

Why am I in such a rush to get to the next thing?  Good gracious.  I will only be 31 years old once.  I will only have these moments with my sweet babies once.  I will only get to be married to Jonathon in this moment once.  Once.

Lately, I have had the opportunity to talk to other people who are hitting the zoom button in the vehicle of life.  I encourage them, as I encourage myself to slow down.  You will never get these moments back.  Refocus your gaze.  What is this moment about?  How does God want to use you right now to bless His people?

Stop. Thinking. About. You.

I have decided to reread The Resolution for Women by Priscilla Shirer because I know that every day I need to resolve to work on becoming the best women God has called me to be.  I will post some thoughts as I traverse the pages.

I also recommend reading some of my fellow blog sisters writing on contentment:

+Nicole Miller's "Are You Content With Your Portion?"

Candace Claiborn's "Are You Content With Your Content?"

Always Striving,

Joce

Friday, May 15, 2015

More

My sister, an amazing mother, has two wonderful children.  One day, before I had kids of my own, she pulled me aside and said, "Jocelynn, you are favoring one of my children over the other.  I won't allow it.  They are equal.  You can love them equally, yet differently.  Either you will do this, or I won't let you be around them.  Kids can tell."


What?  I was completely taken aback.  I wasn't favoring one child over the other... was I?  Then I thought about it.  REALLY thought about it.  She was right.  I didn't want to stop being around my niece and nephew.  I loved them very much.  I had to do a heart check.  Figure out what the heck was going on, and stop being led by my emotions.

On a very basic level I understood what she was saying from experiences in my own childhood.  I began to think back on all the times I could tell people were favoring one of my siblings over me.  Man, did it hurt.  As adults it's tough to process why someone doesn't like us.  As a child, you certainly don't understand it.  You think, "What's wrong with me?"

As a teacher I had always made it a point not to favor one child over the other.  If I felt myself swaying toward one, I would quickly check myself because I remember the feeling of rejection.  Why then, was it easy to allow favoritism to creep in between my nephew and niece?  Neither is more lovable, more kind, more right, more good.  They are kids.  Equal in innocence right now.  Both wanting to be loved and accepted by their aunt.

Fast forward three years later, I am a mother of two wonderful children and I UNDERSTAND what my sister saw that day.  I understand why she hurt.  Why she pulled me aside and made it very clear what she would NOT allow.

As a parent you hurt for, and with your children.  It tears me up inside when I take my son to the playground and the other children won't play with him.  When his sad face looks at me and asks, "Why won't they be my friend, Mommy?"  It takes everything for me not to cry.

What's even worse, is when you see adults choose one of your children over the other.  Now, listen, I know that life isn't fair.  Everybody can't like everybody, but while my kids are young and can't understand, while I can still be somewhat in control of who influences them... Jesus be a fence.

In Acts 10:34 - 35 Peter says, "I now realize how true it is that 
God does not show favoritism, but accepts from every 
nation the one who fears him and does what is right."

If God does not show favoritism, who am I to pick and choose based on ... nothing.  Heart check.

All through my second pregnancy I talked to my husband about this concept of favoritism.  I didn't want people to forget about Jace because the new baby was here.  I didn't want people to ignore the new baby because of a relationship that had already been developed with Jace.

But wait, what about me?  So many second time parents wonder how they can love another child as much as their first.  I too, wondered how.  I love Jace so much.  He is my first baby.  His first breath breathed a love into me like I had never felt before.  So, how?  How would I love both children equally?  How would I not show favoritism?  I began to pray and ask God to show me.  He did.

During the first trimester of my second pregnancy I was crazy sick.  I couldn't take care of Jace and my husband couldn't keep taking off work.  I had to move into my parents house for support.  During that time I watched my sister, an AMAZING mother, with two wonderful children of her own, invite my Jace into the fold like he was her own.  I mean complete love given to my child.  At times I heard him call her Mommy.  It made my heart smile.

So, when my daughter was finally born and it was my turn to share love, I did.  My heart filled with love.  More love.  A love that I wanted to immediately share with my son.  Having a home birth, I was able to let him hold his sister, love his sister, comfort his sister immediately.  I thought my heart would break for loving those two so much.



And then, what really did it for me was watching my sister, an amazing mother with two wonderful children of her own, love my children both EQUALLY.  I was incredibly thankful that day for her example.  For her love.  I am so blessed to be able to share this journey of motherhood with her.

Always Striving,

Joce


Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Who Am I?


The Gathering Testimony: Joanna Gaines

This morning I watched a video testimony by Joanna Gaines, from HGTV's Fixer Upper.  It is a beautiful reminder to trust God.  To wait on His promises.

Somewhere in the muck of life, the everyday, we sometimes lose sight of who we are.  Who God has called us to be.  We get discouraged.  Over the last couple of years I have slowly started to slip away from the confident in Christ person I had been.  Finally, two weeks ago I woke up, looked in the mirror, and could not recognize myself.

"Who are you?" I asked myself.  "What do you stand for?  What is your purpose?  Are you waking up everyday walking out the purpose God has placed on your life?"

The answer was a disheartening "I don't know and no."

I have been conflicted for a time.  I love, love, love the opportunity to stay at home with my children.  I love watching them grow and develop.  I love being able to teach them new things, provide new learning experiences.  However, being a stay at home mom is not all roses and tea cakes.  There are tough, tough days.  Long days of endless 1 yr old babble and 3 yr old rantings.  Some days I swear I see 5 or 10 brain cells falling out of my left ear.  LOL  I love my kids, I do, but with every celebration there is a challenge.

So, my conflict is losing who I thought I was or was supposed to be.  Most days there are few minutes spent alone.  (Even now, my 3 yr old is rambling on about who knows what next to me.)  There is no me time.  I've been asking God how on Earth I'm supposed to cultivate the passions He has placed in me if I never have time to think.  Raising children is just one of the callings on my life.  Before kids I had a career.  I very much enjoyed my career.  I miss my career.

Lately, I have felt a great pressing on my heart to start thinking about some other passions that God has given me.  I'm super excited, but anxious.  It's one of those hurry up and take your time situations.
Joanna Gaines testimony reminded me that God's got me.  He is the author and the finisher.  If He has said it will be, it will be.  And, as I tell my son every single day, "Patience is a virtue."  I have to worship while I'm waiting.  I need to love while I'm waiting.  I need to smile while I'm waiting.  I need to live while I'm waiting.  I need to pray while I'm waiting.  I need to enjoy and appreciate my current purpose, while I'm waiting on other promises.

I thank God for the reminders.  I thank God for His perfect timing.

So, Jocelynn, who are you?  Well, I can not say that at this moment I have completely come out of my feelings, zippity do da.  What I will say is that God is checking my heart.  He is getting me right.  He has placed glasses on my face with God vision.  He is reminding me that I have to die daily to self to live out His purposes.

He is patient, loving, and kind.  I am excited to see, with new eyes, the purposes of today.

Always Striving,

Jocelynn

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Hey, Lady Wisdom! - Checking Back In

I received an email response to my post "Let's Chat About Checking Out", asking how I came back from checking out of the finances.

I thought, "Wow!  What a great question.  I totally forgot to address that."  :-)  Thank you, friend, for always reading and asking questions.  Thank you, for keeping me accountable.


Well, the simple answer is Jesus.  :-)  The more detailed answer begins with this: "The wisdom of God produces progression." - Pastor David Blunt reminded me of this during one of his sermons at Church on the Rock -St. Louis.

God's wisdom is given to us in pieces.  Bit by bit he feeds us, teaches us.  It is like learning to read.  Letter by letter, sound by sound.  Once you have developed the knowledge base, acquired the components, you can begin learning to read.


God knows that imparting His infinite wisdom upon us is entirely too much.  Even giving us all wisdom for a particular series of situations is too much.  So, bit by bit He prepares us.  He gives us experiences and wisdom.  Practice.  Game day performances.  Each time we grow, we progress with His wisdom.  His guidance.  His strength.

This is how I came back.  God's wisdom reached out and brought me back.  Click!  Like a light switch flipping on, I started to see the err of my ways.  

"Lady Wisdom goes out in the street and shouts.  
At the town center she makes her speech.  
In the middle of the traffic she takes her stand.  
At the busiest corner she calls out:  
'Simpletons!  How long will you wallow in ignorance?
Cynics!  How long will you feed your cynicism?
Idiots!  How long will you refuse to learn?
About face!  I can revise your life.
-Proverbs 1:20-23 (MSG)

Part I: 

1) A few months back, my aunt called me out.  She challenged me.  "31 Chapters in 31 Days - Reading through the book of Proverbs".  I accepted the challenge.  God's challenge to receive wisdom.  As I read through Proverbs I was fascinated.  I had read parts of Proverbs before, but never the entire book, and never with my current perspective.  My heart was challenged in many ways.  As I read the scriptures on being slave to the lender, being responsible for debts, and weakness due to lack of self control, I heard a still small voice whisper: "Jocelynn, you know this is your fault, right?  You need to make it right."

     "Wait?  What?!  My fault.  How are our family debts my fault?"

     "You are not listening, Jocelynn.  The lack of progress is your fault.  You and Jonathon are one.  He may be the head of the household, but you are his help meet.  You are to come together to consider the matters of the household.  You have not joined your husband in this way for far too long."

     "Oh."

     "Oh, is right.  You two talk about doing the right things.  You have the knowledge, but not the wisdom.  God is not going to bless this knowledge.  He will not bless your intentions until they are matched with wisdom."

This was a tough revelation for me.  I can't lie, I had to meditate on it for a few days.  Didn't pick up the Bible for a few days.  Say what you will, but that was my process.

I thought back over the experiences of the last few months.  There were growth opportunities that we had been seeking.  None of them panned out.  There was always a logical explanation.  The decision was fair.  What I know about my God and His favor...it ain't fair.  I knew that He wanted more from us, for us.  I could feel it, but I didn't understand why it wasn't happening.  My answer:  Our financial household was not in order.  We were not operating in wisdom.  We were not being good stewards with God's money.

I talked to Jonathon a little bit about what was being revealed to me.  I asked him if he would work with me.  If he would read Dave Ramsey's, Total Money Makeover with me.  He said yes and the journey began. 

2) A month or so after this, some good friends came to visit.  As usual, we had wonderful conversation.  One evening, my friend asked me a tough question.  "Jocelynn, how are your finances, really?"  I answered the question honestly.  I felt like we had been making progress, but definitely had a long way to go.

She said it was difficult to come to me with this question, but she was so strongly led by the Holy Spirit that she could not decline.  Thank God for her obedience.  After our very honest conversation, she suggested we take Financial Peace University.  Later that week I received a text message from her with a list of classes being offered near our house.  Haha!  That's accountability for you.

Financial Peace University changed our marriage!  Plain and simple.  It made a very challenging subject much easier to discuss.  It gave us the tools, the language, and the support we needed to really make a change.

***STOP***  This is why it is so important to have accountability partners who are praying and being led by the Holy Spirit.  So many break throughs.  The enemy would have you believe you are alone in this fight.  You are not!  If you do not have an accountability/prayer partner, ask God to bring someone into your life.  Iron sharpens Iron!  ***

Now, we all know that possessing knowledge and acting on it are two different things.  I could have realized and refused to act.  But God!  My heart and mind were ready.  I had people praying for me.  I had accountability.  I had a husband who only wants God's best for our marriage and our family.  I had faith.

So, how has it been since I stopped checking out?  Well, that's a post for another day.  :-)  Have faith, my friends.  Be blessed.

Always Striving,

Jocelynn

Monday, February 23, 2015

Mommy Moments: It's A Bug!


As I sit at the table, participating in a Webinar for work, I hear a sudden screech.  I look up to find Jace and Kobi crouched down on the kitchen floor.  They are very attentively watching something.

Jace: "Mommy, it's a bug in here!"

Me: "Ok, Jace.  Give me a second."  I walk over to the kitchen where Jace is pointing to some teeny tiny bug.

Jace: "Look, Kobi.  It's an ANT!"  Kobi watches as her brother talks to her about this bug.  Squealing with delight.

Me: "Ok, you two.  First, it's not an ant.  Not sure what it is."

Jace: "Oh, ok.  Kobi it's not the ant!"  I chuckle and go over to grab a paper towel. "KOBI!!  No, it's not eating time!"  I look over to see Kobi trying to grasp this little bug in her pincers.  "No, Kobi! No."  Jace knows from experience that anything Kobi picks up is headed to her mouth.



I am about to pass out laughing as I swoop in to grab the bug with a paper towel.  Kobi sits up looking confused.  Then smiles.  No harm, no foul.  LOL

Always Amused,

Joce

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Negative Numbers Make Me Nervous (Budgeting)

Negative numbers don't excite me either.  I get a little bit of anxiety every time we sit down to do the budget.  But....Here's my question to you: Which makes the most sense?

Scenario A)  The household sits down and creates a budget.  After all expenses, including bills, food, fun, etc. are included, the household realizes there will be lack at the end of the month.  You decide to adjust some figures based on your priorities.  For example, The household has been invited to three birthday dinners.  Together, it is decide that it is more important to participate in two friend's birthday dinners than to eat out for lunch every day.  The household will pack lunch this month allowing a $50 spending limit INCLUDING tips for each dinner.  At the end of the month the main household account is in the green with money in savings.

Scenario B)  The household does not create a budget.  The household has a general idea of how much money is earned this month and about how much is going out.  Three friends have invited the household to birthday dinners.  The household does not know if there is enough money to pay for the dinners or how much is appropriate to spend at each dinner.  At the end of the month the household receives three overdraft notices.  Each time the account overdrafts, a $35.00 fee is assessed.  The account is now overdrawn by at least $105.00.  Was it worth it?

Which scenario makes the most sense?  Believe me, I've been in both places.  Although I hate telling people no, hate seeing that I can't do or have everything I think I want, I feel much better when I don't get an overdraft charge from the bank.

Always...

WAIT WAIT WAIT!  Someone in the back just said, "I'd just use my credit card.  Duh?!"

Well, yes.  That would be a solution if you are trying to keep yourself in debt.  See me, I'm not trying to owe anyone anything.  I love my friends, but I do NOT like the death grip of debt.  If I can't pay for the dinner celebration now and be done with it, then I can't afford to go.  I am not related to Daddy Warbucks and I will not pretend to be.  I do not have enough money to be everywhere all the time.  I do not have enough money to be everything to everyone.  Check your priorities and check your finances.

Hear my heart.  More importantly, hear God's heart.  What are His desires for you?  He very clearly states in Proverbs 22:7 -

"The rich rule over the poor, 
Trapped by debt.
and the borrower is slave to the lender."

Freedom.  God wants you to be free to live.  He has made you to fulfill a purpose.  How much more stressful is it to focus on your purpose when bill collectors are calling you?  How much more difficult is it for you to focus on your purpose when you don't have money to invest in yourself, your dreams?  
How many of you are working jobs you don't really enjoy because it pays well?  Every month you bring in 2, 3, $4,000 or more.  Maybe $400 is left for you to eat, get gas, buy clothes, and generally enjoy life.  Why?



Think about your dreams.  Your passions.  How can you serve God and His people more fully, more freely if you were not in debt?

Always Striving,

Joce

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Let's Chat About Checking Out (Budgeting)

Previously, I shared how five years ago I checked out regarding financial matters.  Although my husband is good with numbers and is pretty smart with money, let me tell you why my checking out was dangerous.

"She will do him good and not evil all of her days." - Proverbs 31:12

I placed undue stress on Jonathon.  He is my husband, not my Daddy.  My checking out forced him into a disciplinarian type role when it came to allocating funds.  When I didn't get what I wanted I would pout, argue, and generally run my mouth.  Jonathon was left with two choices: Tell me no and hear my mouth or tell me yes and have to readjust and rearrange money to keep our bank account balanced.  There were plenty of times when he told me no, but as day leads on to day, attitude leads on to more attitude.  The "no" became "yes" more often, and the juggling game became more fierce for Jonathon.  I know some of you are thinking, "Whatever!  I would have told her no and that would be that."  Well, maybe, but Jonathon is human.  He is my husband and he wanted to make me happy.  I mean, my habits weren't bankrupting us.  Besides, telling me "no" could mean a week long stand off.  (I'm almost embarrassed admitting to my silliness.  Jesus!)  Needless to say this back and forth caused tension.

We are supposed to be a team in all matters.  Naturally, each person has strengths.  In general, you defer to or submit to the person who excels in a particular area, but you do not completely fold.  You work as a team through the decision making process.

In regard to the finances, Jonathon is better with numbers and can work a spreadsheet, but I am naturally more organized and can multi-task.  Combining our superpowers at a budgeting meeting is like magic.  I keep our bills paid on time and remember all of the little things that need to be included as the budget changes month to month.  Jonathon calculates all kinds of numbers in his head, puts formulas into the spreadsheet so we are working smarter, not harder, and generally sees the bigger picture while keeping me calm as the numbers fluctuate.      

Additionally, what if, God forbid, something was to happen to Jonathon?  I would have no idea what was what or where to look for it.  Yes, my name is on every account, but I had no clue what we were paying to whom, when, or why.  Not good.  When you are dealing with a tragedy, whether an accident or a death, the last thing you need is confusion in your finances.  Your house needs to be in order.

Always Striving,

Joce