Thursday, January 30, 2014

Determination

Posted by Tracy Wainwright at 7:58 AM 3 comments
I've been called stubborn before. Once or twice. And in the last few years especially I've come to appreciate my stubbornness. You see, I was given not one, but two strong-willed children. If I hadn't been given such steadfast spirit, my sweet young girls would be completely spoiled rotten at this point - because they got tenaciousness in spades.

I must give an example here. When one of these sweet girls was three, she would come to the kitchen every morning and ask for candy. Somewhere between three and ten times. Every morning. For about six months. Despite getting the same answer every time she asked. And by the grace of God I did give her the same answer each time she asked (We don't have candy for breakfast.)

Now, as a child and young woman my stubbornness often was to my detriment and got me in trouble. I won't put you through the misery (or entertainment, okay - my misery at having to recount the times I fell) of those stories.

It's in my growing closer to God and experiencing the benefit of determination as a mom that I've become to appreciate this dogged spirit He instilled - and has grown - in me. 

When I put my mind to do something, I generally follow through. It's why I published four books last hear and plan to publish eight this year. It's why I'm able to homeschool for seven years through changing circumstances. It's what got me up between five and five-thirty in the morning to exercise (when I was doing so.) It's what keeps me picking up after my family, feeding my family, and loving my family - even on days I don't feel like doing any of it. It's what made me lose 2 pounds during my third trimester of my first pregnancy.

I can be stubborn, tenacious, and determined. When I choose to be.

Which makes me wonder about the times I simply give in. When I fall back into bad habits, when I ignore what needs to be done, when I let go of my goals. Part of it, I believe, is due to the intensity I attack tasks with. Sometimes I simply get tired.

But that can't be the whole answer.

Being a part of a group of women who go through the same struggles, who have a desire to grow in their faith and be the best wife, mother, daughter, sister, and friend they can be reminds me I am always battling the flesh and my spiritual enemy.

Be serious! Be alert! Your adversary the Devil is prowling around 
like a roaring lion, looking for anyone he can devour. Resist him 
and be firm in the faith, knowing that the same sufferings are 
being experienced by your fellow believers throughout the world.
1 Peter 5:8-9

I must be alert and aware. It's easier to be self-focused and give into what doesn't take much effort and energy. But I know God made me for more than that. I have to do more than know it, though. I have to cling to it and to Him.

It helps to know my sisters struggle with the same things. And I'm so grateful for the opportunity to spur each other on and encourage each other in our faith walk

To be reminded that my stubbornness can be used for good - for me and for others. And that's why I'm #determined!

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Permissible but not Beneficial

Posted by Tracy Wainwright at 7:56 AM 2 comments
The concept of "permissible but not beneficial" is one that I have struggled to get from my head to my actions for a long time. It's one of those things I know, have known, get reminded of on occasion, but doesn't always affect my decisions. I'm grateful for the opportunity to once again work on good choices. Better choices. Best choices.

As a Type 1 diabetic, many people say to me: "Oh, you can't eat that, can you?"

The truth is, I can eat anything I want. I simply have to adjust the amount of insulin I take. I can also make wise decisions about how much of that anything I choose to ingest. However, I still struggle to make those wise decisions, too.

When I look at a piece of fruit and a handful of chocolate chips and know that they'll each have the same affect on my blood sugar - sorry gals, fruit has sugar - I'm going to pick the chocolate. Almost every time. It doesn't matter that the apple or orange or grapes also come with vitamins and minerals.

It also doesn't help that there are the days I eat right and my blood sugar still soars. It could be I didn't sleep well the night before, had a particularly stressful day, have a cold, or a fluctuation in my hormones (which you know is almost always happening to us.) Then I throw in the proverbial towel and figure I might as well eat what I want if eating healthy and balanced isn't giving me the positive results I'm seeking.

It's all a mental thing. I admit that. Well, actually it's sometimes an emotional thing, too. Which is why I'm trying to, praying about, and working so hard by joining over 40,000 other women studying Made To Crave. I want to get my head, heart, stomach, and mouth all working together toward the same goal: to get and stay healthy.

I do eat healthy. Sometimes. But I also eat junk and I also eat too much. And I need to remember (consistently) that neither of those habits are beneficial to me. Or my family.

I want to be around to see my grandchildren grow up. Considering my oldest child is currently ten, that's a major long-term goal. But not only do I want to be here for my children and their children, I want to be healthy. I want to be a role model for them by being active in ministry and living my life on fire to share the gospel.

I can't do that if I lose my eyesight, my feeling and possibly the reality of having legs. I can't do that if I have major kidney disease. All real risks in my life that increase with my decreased ability to control my blood sugars.

And so much of it boils down to this: what is permissible is not necessarily beneficial. God wants the best for me, and I have to find my want for my best, too. 

The verse God gave me for the beginning of the year is 2 Corinthians 10:5 - "...take every thought captive to obey Christ."

That means taking every thought captive - including those about food.

That's what I'm working diligently on through this study. That's what I'm becoming #empowered to do as I learn, step by step, brick by brick, to #CraveGod above and beyond and before anything else.

There are so many things that are allowed in this life, but I want to want what is best, what is going to draw me closer to the Lord, what is going to help me sow and reap a part of the harvest as I work the works God prepared for me before He spoke the earth into being. 

When I look at it from my perspective, I think why not? It's not that bad. It's permissible. 

When I look at it from the perspective of who God is and who He wants me to be, I want the best.

Monday, December 16, 2013

12 Days of Mommy Christmas

Posted by Tracy Wainwright at 11:57 AM 0 comments
On the 1st day of Christmas my children gave to me a homemade ornament.

On the 2nd day of Christmas my children gave to me two sugar cookies and a homemade ornament.

On the 3rd day of Christmas my children gave to me three cups of cider, two sugar cookies, and a homemade ornament.

On the 4th day of Christmas my children gave to me, four glittered cards, three cups of cider, two sugar cookies, and a homemade ornament.

On the 5th day of Christmas my children gave to me, five duck tape purses, four glittered, cards, three cups of cider, two sugar cookies, and a homemade ornament.

On the 6th day of Christmas my children gave to me, six snotty tissues, five duck tape purses, four glittered cards, three cups of cider, two sugar cookies, and a homemade ornament.

On the 7th day of Christmas my children gave to me, seven bruises from legos, six snotty tissues, five duck tape purses, four glittered cards, three cups of cider, two sugar cookies, and a homemade ornament.

On the 8th day of Christmas my children gave to me, eight mismatched socks, seven bruises from legos, six snotty tissues, five duck tape purses, four glittered cards, three ups of cider, two sugar cookies, and a homemade ornament.

On the 9th day of Christmas my children gave to me nine candy canes, eight mismatched socks, seven bruises from legos, six snotty tissues, five duck tape purses, four glittered cards, three cups of cider, two sugar cookies, and a homemade ornament.

On the 10th day of Christmas my children gave to me ten dirty dishes, nine candy canes, eight mismatched socks, seven bruises from legos, six snotty tissues, five duck tape purses, four glittered cards, three cups of cider, two sugar cookies, and a homemade ornament.

On the 11th day of Christmas my children gave to me eleven loads of laundry, ten dirty dishes, nine candy canes, eight mismatched socks, seven bruises from legos, six snotty tissues, five duck tape purses, four glittered cards, three cups of cider, two sugar cookies, and a homemade ornament.


On the 12th day of Christmas my children gave to me twelve hugs and kisses, eleven loads of laundry, ten dirty dishes, nine candy canes, eight mismatched socks, seven bruises from legos, six snotty tissues, five duck tape purses, four glittered cards, three ups of cider, two sugar cookies, and a homemade ornament.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

How I do it all

Posted by Tracy Wainwright at 6:19 AM 1 comments
Wow! I can hardly believe it's been 14 months since I posted. I mean, I've never been consistent by any means, but that's just ridiculous. Of course, the last year has been super busy. We survived the flu-like virus and strep last winter, but it knocked me down for a couple months. Spring brought warmth, health, and exciting projects. Most of what I've been doing since then is working on publishing four new books. Two were released in September and two in October. It's been a thrilling ride, and to be honest, it's still going, although my time requirements at this point are for different things.

I also directed the 4th Abundant Life Conference for Women earlier this month, keeping me on my toes most recently. And that doesn't include all the family, fun, and educational stuff. Honestly though, I wouldn't have it any other way and am loving all the things I'm getting to do right now. And that's what this new series is going to be about: how I do all that I do.

I want to start out by being clear about the reasons for this endeavor. I am not writing about myself because I’m overly self-centered (as far as I can tell, I’m about averagely self-centered) or want to garner loads of accolades (although, I’ll be the first to admit that compliments feel good.) No, the main purpose of this book is to answer the question I get all-too frequently: “How do you do it all?”

A secondary purpose for diving into this venture is to open up with what I hope will be blunt honesty about the life of a busy mom who seeks to live a life worthy of the calling she’s received. And in doing so, offer encouragement to other moms out there seeking the same.

Let me start off for those of you reading this who don’t know me by explaining why I think this question gets thrown at me so frequently. Hold on, though, I have to take a deep breath first.

Okay, let’s go: I am a stay-at-home wife and mother of four. As of this writing my children are ten, eight, six, and four and I homeschool them. We are active in our church. Three of my children sing in choir and all of them attend Awana (a program focusing on developing spiritually strong children and young adults.) The older three are each allowed to participate in one activity outside of church. My husband works full time and often takes on building projects (currently a loft bed is being constructed in our garage.) I also write. I love to write! (which is a whole other story in itself.) I’ve been writing for about eight years and now have five books in print. Four of them were released in the last three months and I’ve self-published them all – another separate story. Because I’m self-publishing, I now “own” my own publishing business, making me one of those millions of small business owners in the U.S. I write fiction, nonfiction, adult, children, and young adult books. I currently have about twenty books in the works – somewhere between title and basic idea to completed and awaiting some more edits. I also speak, travelling about six times a year around my region to share my testimony with women’s groups. I just directed the fourth annual Abundant Life Conference for Women, which I launched when my baby was a baby. We’re already planning for the fifth (conference, not baby.) In my spare time I help organize and go on domestic mission trips, serve at our church’s monthly community dinner for those in need, and occasionally lead a women’s Bible study and/or prayer group. In my spare time….

Sorry, what?

Okay, now it’s your turn to take a deep breath. I hope you’re not overwhelmed at this point, although when I put it all together like that, I often get overwhelmed. However, that is only a slice of the story. There’s much, much more.

But don’t run away! Please stay just a little while longer. There is (I hope) encouragement yet to come.

Here’s the next slice: Currently, I’m staring at approximately six loads of clean clothes piled up on the pool table. One of them is folded. The washer and dryer are both full and there are at least four loads of towels waiting to be washed. (Three of which consist of towels used in summer activities like boating and swimming – it’s November.) The school table is scattered with both school and non-school items alike. I have a full-sized counter piled with mail, paperwork, school pictures, crafts, snacks, more school stuff, and other things I can’t see. The video I checked out from the library for my kids last week hasn’t been touched, and it’s due back tomorrow. I have no idea what’s for lunch and have bags to pack for this week. For me to travel for three days to speak. For the children – for homeschool group, Awana, and to stay at Gamma’s house for two nights. My bathrooms are clean though! Umm, not by me, but they’re clean. The turtle’s tank has been green for the last week. Each day for several now I’ve promised to slip that little task up the to-do list. Did I mention we’ve only had about three full school days in the last three weeks?

I say that all to say this: I DO NOT DO IT ALL.

I do a lot. Some things I do well. But I fall short in many areas and never get everything done in one day that I’d like to get done. However, my life is overflowing with love, laughter, peace, hope, and joy. I’ve learned to be fruitful in my busyness instead of frantic. I’ve learned to say no (whether you believe it or not at this point.) I’ve also learned that days of doing absolutely nothing are essential. As is pulling myself away from everything to have quantities of quality time with my family.

That’s why this series is being launched. My desire to first of all give you the assurance that not only can’t you do it all, none of us are made to do it all. Second, to share some tips and tricks I’ve learned along my journey that will hopefully encourage you. And third to offer the keys to true joy, love, peace, and fulfillment without having to strive for or wear yourself out trying to earn any of it.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Laundry Woes

Posted by Tracy Wainwright at 2:07 PM 0 comments
How do you do laundry? I know some moms who prefer to do a load a day. That way, the piles of dirty (or clean) clothes don't feel so overwhelming. I especially find this true for my friends who work outside of the home full time, so their Saturday and Sunday family time isn't dominated by washing, folding, ironing, etc.

Or, like me, do you save it all up for one (or two) dedicated days? That's the way I like laundry.

I'm not a consistent, do something every day kind of person. Don't suppose I ever was. Will be surprised if I ever am. Therefore, laundry every 10 days or so works for me. However, when I tackle this monumental task, it does take up the better part of a day or two.

This is what it looks like to begin with, all piled in the floor, sorted (not just by lights, darks, and whites, but also reds and blues):


It all gets washed, dried, and piled on the pool table while we're doing school, cleaning house, mommy writes and kids play, etc. And it looks like this:


An hour or two of folding and all is ready for individual owners to put away:


You might think I'm crazy, and I just may be, but this system works for us. Until....something happens.

Two years ago, that something was my dryer breaking. With one load 1/2 dry, another soaking wet, and still more to do, I became creative with ski ropes strung throughout the garage. Not fun, but my father-in-law found a scratch and dent within a week and I was good to go again.

Now it's the washing machine. I'll admit that I wash fairly large loads, I fill the cavity to capacity. However, I don't ever stuff it overfull. Once I washed too large a load and my poor decade old machine walloped out of balance. It's been running fine ever since, although it sounds like a 747 trying to take off during the spin cycle. 

About a month ago, I noticed a leak. So, I put a towel under it. (No, there's no catch pan underneath.) Problem solved :)

Then yesterday, on the first load - which of course was jeans and a set of twin sheets, which I never do first - my daughter screams at me from the den that the upstairs smells like smoke. I look around the kitchen. No burners are on. Hadn't even touched the ovens. The coffee pot's not even brewing. I sprint upstairs to find my washing machine is making a low whir but is not whirling. In other words, the motor was attempting to spin, but the bucket was as stationary as an in ground pool. Going nowhere, but trying really heard. The smoking odor proved it.

I didn't handle this challenge well. My first reaction was anger at my husband not taking care of the off-kilter, leaky machine sooner. Then, when he came home and implied (okay, he didn't imply, he stated) that my load had been too big, I dug my heels in. I hadn't done anything different that day. How could it be my fault?

This time, my mother-in-law came to the rescue and took the sopping, dripping wet clothes plus two other loads and finished them at her house. Hubby ran a smaller load the the machine performed fine.

Great. Fantastic. So, it was me. Although I wouldn't admit it out loud.

Then God reminded me of the Bible Study I'm writing. The section I'm on happens to be on humility. And I certainly was not experiencing or exhibiting any humility. My feathers were ruffled and my quills were sticking up. 

This is what I was reminded of: Jesus, "Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death -- even death on a cross!" Philippians 2:5-8

Wow. I couldn't even humbly consider I'd done something to mess up. And I do mess up quite often. It keeps me humble. Especially when I need to be knocked down a few notches.

And so I was. 

We all have defenses. We all have trigger points. But whether we let them rise up and control us is up to us. I don't want to be controlled by these emotions. It doesn't feel good. I want to be controlled by the spirit.

It is a constant struggle. I will keep working on submitting myself to God to complete that work in me.

In the meantime, let me update the washing machine saga. One big load flopped. One small load finished to completion. A second small load stalled. So, there's no solution at this point.

The lesson, however, stands. No matter whether my washing machine starts working again on its own, hubby's able to fix it, or we get a new one, I will cling to the reminder that humility is a choice that God honors.


Friday, July 13, 2012

Abundant Life Conference for Women

Posted by Tracy Wainwright at 3:28 PM 2 comments
Registration for the 2012 Abundant Life Conference for Women is now open! You can print the first two pages of the brochure and fill them out to register. The session descriptions didn't come out clearly, so they're listed below the pictures. Email any questions to abundantlifeconference@yahoo.com. Hope to see you in November!







Breakout Session Descriptions     



Hearing God: God speaks to us all the time in many ways, but we seldom stop and listen. How can we hear God’s voice in the midst of today’s busy world? The elements of heading the Word, enduring through tough times, adoring God as a part of everyday life, and relinquishing your will to the Lord are covered in this session.
Led by: Barbara VernoskiBarbara is a wife of 24 years, homeschooling mom of 7 kids ages 23-8, speaker, author, Stonecroft Ministries speaker trainer, and founder and owner of “Restoring Life Today.” Her career ambition is to encourage, empower, and equip people to give them hope through helping them break destructive cycles and more consistently make healthy life choices.

Practical Steps for Discipleship: As disciples of Christ, we’re commanded to ‘go and make disciples.’ How can we ‘go’ if first we don’t ‘know’? As Jesus taught and demonstrated through obedience, this session will encourage and empower participants with practical techniques to bolster confidence in sharing the gospel and making
disciples—whether a seasoned warrior or new believer.
Led by: Danielle K. Jones—Danielle is a wife, mother, Bible study leader, She Speaks graduate, and founder of Daughters of Zion—a discipleship group for pre-teens and teens. Danielle’s heart to share the gospel of Christ has helped her plant deep roots in North Carolina and taken her as far as Africa.

Healthy Relationships: Those we’re closest to in life
often are the people we have the most conflict with. Emotionally damaging events, disappointments, and
difficulties are a part of life. If we aren’t able to heal and restore relationships, we carry detrimental pain and miss out on many blessings. This session will discuss repairing torn relationships and maintaining healthy ones.
Led by: Barbara VernoskiBarbara is a wife of 24 years, homeschooling mom of 7 kids ages 23-8, speaker, author, Stonecroft Ministries speaker trainer, and founder and owner of “Restoring Life Today.” Her career ambition is to encourage, empower, and equip people to give them hope through helping them break destructive cycles and more consistently make healthy life choices.

Anger-Free Parenting:  Frustration and angry outbursts
are parts of parenting that are undesirable, shame-producing, all too prevalent, and  often a symptom of deeply-rooted self-image issues. This session will help
participants see their true identity in Christ, recognize God’s richest blessings, and set their hearts & minds firmly on Christ, in order to parent from a more stable place.
Led by: Jenny Smith—Jenny’s passion is to teach women how to stand on the Word on God and really know what it says in order to apply it to life. In both Bible study teaching and writing, she keeps busy women in mind, inspiring them to encounter Jesus though scripture. Jenny ministers from Adairsville, GA, where she lives with her husband and three teenager daughters.

Living a Balanced Life: With the demands and various roles women have today, life can get out of balance quickly. This session focuses on debunking dangerous myths and putting into place practical, God-focused habits that will keep us from teetering out of control.
Led by: Tracy Wainwright—Tracy is a wife, homeschooling mama of four, writer, and speaker. She is passionate about sharing the gospel as a Stonecroft Ministries speaker and encouraging spiritual growth in others through the written and spoken word,

Whole Lot of Shaking Going On: Ever feel like the ground under the feet of life are shaking, trying to knock you down? Daily trials throw us off balance and take our focus off God. This session will lead us to choose worship instead of worry, trusting God with our deepest wounds.
Led by: Robin Harnist—Robin has a God-given evangelist’s heart and passion to see people grow in their faith in Jesus. She serves as AWANA Director and is the National Military Speaker Consultant for Stonecroft Ministries. She shares her past trials in the hope that her experiences, filtered through God’s Word, will encourage and inspire others.

Discipling Others: Discipleship is the foundation on which the Church is built.  This session will study the way Jesus modeled discipleship, show us how to recognize a “cozy” Bible study culture, and offer tools for developing a true culture of discipleship with our sisters in Christ.
Led by:  Jennifer Tubbiolo—Jennifer is a wife and
homeschooling mom of three. She is a Life Groups
Director at her church in South Carolina, a writer, speaker and She Speaks graduate.  She has a passion for serving women in Jesus’ name and is blessed to do so regularly as a staff member of Seacoast Church.

Good Enough Girls: Many women are broken, damaged from mental, physical, or emotional abuse, loss,
disappointment, or bad decisions. This session reveals
how we beat ourselves up while trying to be good enough for God, but what He wants is for us to surrender to Him and accept and live under His grace and unfailing love.
Led by: Kelly Combs Kelly is a wife, mother, speaker, and writer. Kelly grew up with an alcoholic and mentally ill mother and worked at being good enough until she let
the grace of God cover her.

Submission:  Submission is an ugly word in our culture. In many scriptures, though, God reveals the strength and blessings of submitting to:  Him, legal authorities, spiritual authorities, our husbands, and each other in Christ. This
session lays out God’s command for submission, defines it from the Word, and paves the path to Biblical Submission.
Led by: Tracy Wainwright—Tracy is a wife, homeschooling mama of four, writer, and speaker. She is passionate about sharing the gospel as a Stonecroft Ministries speaker and encouraging spiritual growth in others through the written and spoken word,


Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Struggles & Triumphs

Posted by Tracy Wainwright at 2:27 PM 0 comments

Guest Post by Cynthia Simmons



I have a room that’s off limits. If you open the door and peek inside, you see lots of papers and boxes scattered over the floor. It looks like junk, but it’s not. Those messy piles are the remnants of my childhood home. I’m compiling the material into an archive, and each time I dig in I learn something new.

Dad underlined “you were not redeemed with corruptible things such as silver and gold” in his New Testament. In the margin he penned, “Redeemed by the blood of Christ.” He didn’t often put his thoughts on paper, so I was thrilled to find a small tablet filled with his handwriting. He recorded his courtship with my mother. It’s so sweet. Mom wore red on their first date, and she spilled her coffee when he told a joke. They were married almost fifty-six years when she died.

A spiral bound book contained tearful prayers Mother wrote when feeling overwhelmed. Her Bible also had some treasures. In the center she recounted the story of her conversion. Precious! She kept notes on sermons, and dated passages she read in her devotions. In 1952 she’d highlighted Psalm 46:1. “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.” Beneath those words she jotted “Eternal refuge.”

Mom had a rare dementia that also impacted small motor skills. Handwriting became so difficult that she quit. In February of 2005 she scribbled, “Why can’t I be healed? I’ve prayed and others have prayed. Do you HEAR? PLEASE IN THE NAME of Jesus heal my body.” That made my heart heavy. Her final entry was in March 2005. The handwriting is almost illegible. “Psalm 33: 13 -20. The Lord is like a shield. He protects me. Verse 18 – His eye is watching me!! He is my strength.”

Hebrews 12:1 says “Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us.” (NAS)

 In Hebrews 11, the author told stories of faithful saints who lived before us. They are that ‘great cloud of witnesses’ who believed and endured. I’m very thankful my parents belong in that hall of fame. Mother could’ve turned against God when her illness continued to worsen, but she didn’t. Instead she chose to believe even though she didn’t know how things would turn out. Hebrews 12:1 says to get anything out of the way that will prevent us from trusting our Savior. When I’m tempted to doubt, I think of my parents and the legacy they left me. I can’t allow worry, fear, or discouragement stand in the way. Someday my children will sort through my things, and I hope they discover a legacy of undying faith.


Cynthia L Simmons and her husband, Ray, have five children and reside in Atlanta. She has taught for over twenty years as a homeschool mother and Bible teacher. Active in Christian Authors Guild (CAG), she conducts writing workshops and has served as president, vice president, and conference director. In December 2009 the membership granted her Life Time Membership for her numerous contributions to writers.  “Cindy” is fond of history and writes both historical fiction and nonfiction. Her writing appeared in CAG publications, NATHHAN NEWS, Chattanooga Regional Historical Magazine, Georgia Right to Life Newsletter, Chattanooga Times Free Press, Catholic Exchange, and Christian Devotions.us. Her first book, Struggles and Triumphs, came out in 2008. While promoting her book, she had interviews on radio and TV across the nation and was nominated for 2008 Georgia Author of the year. She also conducts monthly podcasts called CAG Spotlight in which she interviews authors and VIPs in the writing industry. At present she is completing a twelve week Bible study using the stories in Struggles and Triumphs.



Thursday, January 30, 2014

Determination

I've been called stubborn before. Once or twice. And in the last few years especially I've come to appreciate my stubbornness. You see, I was given not one, but two strong-willed children. If I hadn't been given such steadfast spirit, my sweet young girls would be completely spoiled rotten at this point - because they got tenaciousness in spades.

I must give an example here. When one of these sweet girls was three, she would come to the kitchen every morning and ask for candy. Somewhere between three and ten times. Every morning. For about six months. Despite getting the same answer every time she asked. And by the grace of God I did give her the same answer each time she asked (We don't have candy for breakfast.)

Now, as a child and young woman my stubbornness often was to my detriment and got me in trouble. I won't put you through the misery (or entertainment, okay - my misery at having to recount the times I fell) of those stories.

It's in my growing closer to God and experiencing the benefit of determination as a mom that I've become to appreciate this dogged spirit He instilled - and has grown - in me. 

When I put my mind to do something, I generally follow through. It's why I published four books last hear and plan to publish eight this year. It's why I'm able to homeschool for seven years through changing circumstances. It's what got me up between five and five-thirty in the morning to exercise (when I was doing so.) It's what keeps me picking up after my family, feeding my family, and loving my family - even on days I don't feel like doing any of it. It's what made me lose 2 pounds during my third trimester of my first pregnancy.

I can be stubborn, tenacious, and determined. When I choose to be.

Which makes me wonder about the times I simply give in. When I fall back into bad habits, when I ignore what needs to be done, when I let go of my goals. Part of it, I believe, is due to the intensity I attack tasks with. Sometimes I simply get tired.

But that can't be the whole answer.

Being a part of a group of women who go through the same struggles, who have a desire to grow in their faith and be the best wife, mother, daughter, sister, and friend they can be reminds me I am always battling the flesh and my spiritual enemy.

Be serious! Be alert! Your adversary the Devil is prowling around 
like a roaring lion, looking for anyone he can devour. Resist him 
and be firm in the faith, knowing that the same sufferings are 
being experienced by your fellow believers throughout the world.
1 Peter 5:8-9

I must be alert and aware. It's easier to be self-focused and give into what doesn't take much effort and energy. But I know God made me for more than that. I have to do more than know it, though. I have to cling to it and to Him.

It helps to know my sisters struggle with the same things. And I'm so grateful for the opportunity to spur each other on and encourage each other in our faith walk

To be reminded that my stubbornness can be used for good - for me and for others. And that's why I'm #determined!

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Permissible but not Beneficial

The concept of "permissible but not beneficial" is one that I have struggled to get from my head to my actions for a long time. It's one of those things I know, have known, get reminded of on occasion, but doesn't always affect my decisions. I'm grateful for the opportunity to once again work on good choices. Better choices. Best choices.

As a Type 1 diabetic, many people say to me: "Oh, you can't eat that, can you?"

The truth is, I can eat anything I want. I simply have to adjust the amount of insulin I take. I can also make wise decisions about how much of that anything I choose to ingest. However, I still struggle to make those wise decisions, too.

When I look at a piece of fruit and a handful of chocolate chips and know that they'll each have the same affect on my blood sugar - sorry gals, fruit has sugar - I'm going to pick the chocolate. Almost every time. It doesn't matter that the apple or orange or grapes also come with vitamins and minerals.

It also doesn't help that there are the days I eat right and my blood sugar still soars. It could be I didn't sleep well the night before, had a particularly stressful day, have a cold, or a fluctuation in my hormones (which you know is almost always happening to us.) Then I throw in the proverbial towel and figure I might as well eat what I want if eating healthy and balanced isn't giving me the positive results I'm seeking.

It's all a mental thing. I admit that. Well, actually it's sometimes an emotional thing, too. Which is why I'm trying to, praying about, and working so hard by joining over 40,000 other women studying Made To Crave. I want to get my head, heart, stomach, and mouth all working together toward the same goal: to get and stay healthy.

I do eat healthy. Sometimes. But I also eat junk and I also eat too much. And I need to remember (consistently) that neither of those habits are beneficial to me. Or my family.

I want to be around to see my grandchildren grow up. Considering my oldest child is currently ten, that's a major long-term goal. But not only do I want to be here for my children and their children, I want to be healthy. I want to be a role model for them by being active in ministry and living my life on fire to share the gospel.

I can't do that if I lose my eyesight, my feeling and possibly the reality of having legs. I can't do that if I have major kidney disease. All real risks in my life that increase with my decreased ability to control my blood sugars.

And so much of it boils down to this: what is permissible is not necessarily beneficial. God wants the best for me, and I have to find my want for my best, too. 

The verse God gave me for the beginning of the year is 2 Corinthians 10:5 - "...take every thought captive to obey Christ."

That means taking every thought captive - including those about food.

That's what I'm working diligently on through this study. That's what I'm becoming #empowered to do as I learn, step by step, brick by brick, to #CraveGod above and beyond and before anything else.

There are so many things that are allowed in this life, but I want to want what is best, what is going to draw me closer to the Lord, what is going to help me sow and reap a part of the harvest as I work the works God prepared for me before He spoke the earth into being. 

When I look at it from my perspective, I think why not? It's not that bad. It's permissible. 

When I look at it from the perspective of who God is and who He wants me to be, I want the best.

Monday, December 16, 2013

12 Days of Mommy Christmas

On the 1st day of Christmas my children gave to me a homemade ornament.

On the 2nd day of Christmas my children gave to me two sugar cookies and a homemade ornament.

On the 3rd day of Christmas my children gave to me three cups of cider, two sugar cookies, and a homemade ornament.

On the 4th day of Christmas my children gave to me, four glittered cards, three cups of cider, two sugar cookies, and a homemade ornament.

On the 5th day of Christmas my children gave to me, five duck tape purses, four glittered, cards, three cups of cider, two sugar cookies, and a homemade ornament.

On the 6th day of Christmas my children gave to me, six snotty tissues, five duck tape purses, four glittered cards, three cups of cider, two sugar cookies, and a homemade ornament.

On the 7th day of Christmas my children gave to me, seven bruises from legos, six snotty tissues, five duck tape purses, four glittered cards, three cups of cider, two sugar cookies, and a homemade ornament.

On the 8th day of Christmas my children gave to me, eight mismatched socks, seven bruises from legos, six snotty tissues, five duck tape purses, four glittered cards, three ups of cider, two sugar cookies, and a homemade ornament.

On the 9th day of Christmas my children gave to me nine candy canes, eight mismatched socks, seven bruises from legos, six snotty tissues, five duck tape purses, four glittered cards, three cups of cider, two sugar cookies, and a homemade ornament.

On the 10th day of Christmas my children gave to me ten dirty dishes, nine candy canes, eight mismatched socks, seven bruises from legos, six snotty tissues, five duck tape purses, four glittered cards, three cups of cider, two sugar cookies, and a homemade ornament.

On the 11th day of Christmas my children gave to me eleven loads of laundry, ten dirty dishes, nine candy canes, eight mismatched socks, seven bruises from legos, six snotty tissues, five duck tape purses, four glittered cards, three cups of cider, two sugar cookies, and a homemade ornament.


On the 12th day of Christmas my children gave to me twelve hugs and kisses, eleven loads of laundry, ten dirty dishes, nine candy canes, eight mismatched socks, seven bruises from legos, six snotty tissues, five duck tape purses, four glittered cards, three ups of cider, two sugar cookies, and a homemade ornament.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

How I do it all

Wow! I can hardly believe it's been 14 months since I posted. I mean, I've never been consistent by any means, but that's just ridiculous. Of course, the last year has been super busy. We survived the flu-like virus and strep last winter, but it knocked me down for a couple months. Spring brought warmth, health, and exciting projects. Most of what I've been doing since then is working on publishing four new books. Two were released in September and two in October. It's been a thrilling ride, and to be honest, it's still going, although my time requirements at this point are for different things.

I also directed the 4th Abundant Life Conference for Women earlier this month, keeping me on my toes most recently. And that doesn't include all the family, fun, and educational stuff. Honestly though, I wouldn't have it any other way and am loving all the things I'm getting to do right now. And that's what this new series is going to be about: how I do all that I do.

I want to start out by being clear about the reasons for this endeavor. I am not writing about myself because I’m overly self-centered (as far as I can tell, I’m about averagely self-centered) or want to garner loads of accolades (although, I’ll be the first to admit that compliments feel good.) No, the main purpose of this book is to answer the question I get all-too frequently: “How do you do it all?”

A secondary purpose for diving into this venture is to open up with what I hope will be blunt honesty about the life of a busy mom who seeks to live a life worthy of the calling she’s received. And in doing so, offer encouragement to other moms out there seeking the same.

Let me start off for those of you reading this who don’t know me by explaining why I think this question gets thrown at me so frequently. Hold on, though, I have to take a deep breath first.

Okay, let’s go: I am a stay-at-home wife and mother of four. As of this writing my children are ten, eight, six, and four and I homeschool them. We are active in our church. Three of my children sing in choir and all of them attend Awana (a program focusing on developing spiritually strong children and young adults.) The older three are each allowed to participate in one activity outside of church. My husband works full time and often takes on building projects (currently a loft bed is being constructed in our garage.) I also write. I love to write! (which is a whole other story in itself.) I’ve been writing for about eight years and now have five books in print. Four of them were released in the last three months and I’ve self-published them all – another separate story. Because I’m self-publishing, I now “own” my own publishing business, making me one of those millions of small business owners in the U.S. I write fiction, nonfiction, adult, children, and young adult books. I currently have about twenty books in the works – somewhere between title and basic idea to completed and awaiting some more edits. I also speak, travelling about six times a year around my region to share my testimony with women’s groups. I just directed the fourth annual Abundant Life Conference for Women, which I launched when my baby was a baby. We’re already planning for the fifth (conference, not baby.) In my spare time I help organize and go on domestic mission trips, serve at our church’s monthly community dinner for those in need, and occasionally lead a women’s Bible study and/or prayer group. In my spare time….

Sorry, what?

Okay, now it’s your turn to take a deep breath. I hope you’re not overwhelmed at this point, although when I put it all together like that, I often get overwhelmed. However, that is only a slice of the story. There’s much, much more.

But don’t run away! Please stay just a little while longer. There is (I hope) encouragement yet to come.

Here’s the next slice: Currently, I’m staring at approximately six loads of clean clothes piled up on the pool table. One of them is folded. The washer and dryer are both full and there are at least four loads of towels waiting to be washed. (Three of which consist of towels used in summer activities like boating and swimming – it’s November.) The school table is scattered with both school and non-school items alike. I have a full-sized counter piled with mail, paperwork, school pictures, crafts, snacks, more school stuff, and other things I can’t see. The video I checked out from the library for my kids last week hasn’t been touched, and it’s due back tomorrow. I have no idea what’s for lunch and have bags to pack for this week. For me to travel for three days to speak. For the children – for homeschool group, Awana, and to stay at Gamma’s house for two nights. My bathrooms are clean though! Umm, not by me, but they’re clean. The turtle’s tank has been green for the last week. Each day for several now I’ve promised to slip that little task up the to-do list. Did I mention we’ve only had about three full school days in the last three weeks?

I say that all to say this: I DO NOT DO IT ALL.

I do a lot. Some things I do well. But I fall short in many areas and never get everything done in one day that I’d like to get done. However, my life is overflowing with love, laughter, peace, hope, and joy. I’ve learned to be fruitful in my busyness instead of frantic. I’ve learned to say no (whether you believe it or not at this point.) I’ve also learned that days of doing absolutely nothing are essential. As is pulling myself away from everything to have quantities of quality time with my family.

That’s why this series is being launched. My desire to first of all give you the assurance that not only can’t you do it all, none of us are made to do it all. Second, to share some tips and tricks I’ve learned along my journey that will hopefully encourage you. And third to offer the keys to true joy, love, peace, and fulfillment without having to strive for or wear yourself out trying to earn any of it.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Laundry Woes

How do you do laundry? I know some moms who prefer to do a load a day. That way, the piles of dirty (or clean) clothes don't feel so overwhelming. I especially find this true for my friends who work outside of the home full time, so their Saturday and Sunday family time isn't dominated by washing, folding, ironing, etc.

Or, like me, do you save it all up for one (or two) dedicated days? That's the way I like laundry.

I'm not a consistent, do something every day kind of person. Don't suppose I ever was. Will be surprised if I ever am. Therefore, laundry every 10 days or so works for me. However, when I tackle this monumental task, it does take up the better part of a day or two.

This is what it looks like to begin with, all piled in the floor, sorted (not just by lights, darks, and whites, but also reds and blues):


It all gets washed, dried, and piled on the pool table while we're doing school, cleaning house, mommy writes and kids play, etc. And it looks like this:


An hour or two of folding and all is ready for individual owners to put away:


You might think I'm crazy, and I just may be, but this system works for us. Until....something happens.

Two years ago, that something was my dryer breaking. With one load 1/2 dry, another soaking wet, and still more to do, I became creative with ski ropes strung throughout the garage. Not fun, but my father-in-law found a scratch and dent within a week and I was good to go again.

Now it's the washing machine. I'll admit that I wash fairly large loads, I fill the cavity to capacity. However, I don't ever stuff it overfull. Once I washed too large a load and my poor decade old machine walloped out of balance. It's been running fine ever since, although it sounds like a 747 trying to take off during the spin cycle. 

About a month ago, I noticed a leak. So, I put a towel under it. (No, there's no catch pan underneath.) Problem solved :)

Then yesterday, on the first load - which of course was jeans and a set of twin sheets, which I never do first - my daughter screams at me from the den that the upstairs smells like smoke. I look around the kitchen. No burners are on. Hadn't even touched the ovens. The coffee pot's not even brewing. I sprint upstairs to find my washing machine is making a low whir but is not whirling. In other words, the motor was attempting to spin, but the bucket was as stationary as an in ground pool. Going nowhere, but trying really heard. The smoking odor proved it.

I didn't handle this challenge well. My first reaction was anger at my husband not taking care of the off-kilter, leaky machine sooner. Then, when he came home and implied (okay, he didn't imply, he stated) that my load had been too big, I dug my heels in. I hadn't done anything different that day. How could it be my fault?

This time, my mother-in-law came to the rescue and took the sopping, dripping wet clothes plus two other loads and finished them at her house. Hubby ran a smaller load the the machine performed fine.

Great. Fantastic. So, it was me. Although I wouldn't admit it out loud.

Then God reminded me of the Bible Study I'm writing. The section I'm on happens to be on humility. And I certainly was not experiencing or exhibiting any humility. My feathers were ruffled and my quills were sticking up. 

This is what I was reminded of: Jesus, "Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death -- even death on a cross!" Philippians 2:5-8

Wow. I couldn't even humbly consider I'd done something to mess up. And I do mess up quite often. It keeps me humble. Especially when I need to be knocked down a few notches.

And so I was. 

We all have defenses. We all have trigger points. But whether we let them rise up and control us is up to us. I don't want to be controlled by these emotions. It doesn't feel good. I want to be controlled by the spirit.

It is a constant struggle. I will keep working on submitting myself to God to complete that work in me.

In the meantime, let me update the washing machine saga. One big load flopped. One small load finished to completion. A second small load stalled. So, there's no solution at this point.

The lesson, however, stands. No matter whether my washing machine starts working again on its own, hubby's able to fix it, or we get a new one, I will cling to the reminder that humility is a choice that God honors.


Friday, July 13, 2012

Abundant Life Conference for Women

Registration for the 2012 Abundant Life Conference for Women is now open! You can print the first two pages of the brochure and fill them out to register. The session descriptions didn't come out clearly, so they're listed below the pictures. Email any questions to abundantlifeconference@yahoo.com. Hope to see you in November!







Breakout Session Descriptions     



Hearing God: God speaks to us all the time in many ways, but we seldom stop and listen. How can we hear God’s voice in the midst of today’s busy world? The elements of heading the Word, enduring through tough times, adoring God as a part of everyday life, and relinquishing your will to the Lord are covered in this session.
Led by: Barbara VernoskiBarbara is a wife of 24 years, homeschooling mom of 7 kids ages 23-8, speaker, author, Stonecroft Ministries speaker trainer, and founder and owner of “Restoring Life Today.” Her career ambition is to encourage, empower, and equip people to give them hope through helping them break destructive cycles and more consistently make healthy life choices.

Practical Steps for Discipleship: As disciples of Christ, we’re commanded to ‘go and make disciples.’ How can we ‘go’ if first we don’t ‘know’? As Jesus taught and demonstrated through obedience, this session will encourage and empower participants with practical techniques to bolster confidence in sharing the gospel and making
disciples—whether a seasoned warrior or new believer.
Led by: Danielle K. Jones—Danielle is a wife, mother, Bible study leader, She Speaks graduate, and founder of Daughters of Zion—a discipleship group for pre-teens and teens. Danielle’s heart to share the gospel of Christ has helped her plant deep roots in North Carolina and taken her as far as Africa.

Healthy Relationships: Those we’re closest to in life
often are the people we have the most conflict with. Emotionally damaging events, disappointments, and
difficulties are a part of life. If we aren’t able to heal and restore relationships, we carry detrimental pain and miss out on many blessings. This session will discuss repairing torn relationships and maintaining healthy ones.
Led by: Barbara VernoskiBarbara is a wife of 24 years, homeschooling mom of 7 kids ages 23-8, speaker, author, Stonecroft Ministries speaker trainer, and founder and owner of “Restoring Life Today.” Her career ambition is to encourage, empower, and equip people to give them hope through helping them break destructive cycles and more consistently make healthy life choices.

Anger-Free Parenting:  Frustration and angry outbursts
are parts of parenting that are undesirable, shame-producing, all too prevalent, and  often a symptom of deeply-rooted self-image issues. This session will help
participants see their true identity in Christ, recognize God’s richest blessings, and set their hearts & minds firmly on Christ, in order to parent from a more stable place.
Led by: Jenny Smith—Jenny’s passion is to teach women how to stand on the Word on God and really know what it says in order to apply it to life. In both Bible study teaching and writing, she keeps busy women in mind, inspiring them to encounter Jesus though scripture. Jenny ministers from Adairsville, GA, where she lives with her husband and three teenager daughters.

Living a Balanced Life: With the demands and various roles women have today, life can get out of balance quickly. This session focuses on debunking dangerous myths and putting into place practical, God-focused habits that will keep us from teetering out of control.
Led by: Tracy Wainwright—Tracy is a wife, homeschooling mama of four, writer, and speaker. She is passionate about sharing the gospel as a Stonecroft Ministries speaker and encouraging spiritual growth in others through the written and spoken word,

Whole Lot of Shaking Going On: Ever feel like the ground under the feet of life are shaking, trying to knock you down? Daily trials throw us off balance and take our focus off God. This session will lead us to choose worship instead of worry, trusting God with our deepest wounds.
Led by: Robin Harnist—Robin has a God-given evangelist’s heart and passion to see people grow in their faith in Jesus. She serves as AWANA Director and is the National Military Speaker Consultant for Stonecroft Ministries. She shares her past trials in the hope that her experiences, filtered through God’s Word, will encourage and inspire others.

Discipling Others: Discipleship is the foundation on which the Church is built.  This session will study the way Jesus modeled discipleship, show us how to recognize a “cozy” Bible study culture, and offer tools for developing a true culture of discipleship with our sisters in Christ.
Led by:  Jennifer Tubbiolo—Jennifer is a wife and
homeschooling mom of three. She is a Life Groups
Director at her church in South Carolina, a writer, speaker and She Speaks graduate.  She has a passion for serving women in Jesus’ name and is blessed to do so regularly as a staff member of Seacoast Church.

Good Enough Girls: Many women are broken, damaged from mental, physical, or emotional abuse, loss,
disappointment, or bad decisions. This session reveals
how we beat ourselves up while trying to be good enough for God, but what He wants is for us to surrender to Him and accept and live under His grace and unfailing love.
Led by: Kelly Combs Kelly is a wife, mother, speaker, and writer. Kelly grew up with an alcoholic and mentally ill mother and worked at being good enough until she let
the grace of God cover her.

Submission:  Submission is an ugly word in our culture. In many scriptures, though, God reveals the strength and blessings of submitting to:  Him, legal authorities, spiritual authorities, our husbands, and each other in Christ. This
session lays out God’s command for submission, defines it from the Word, and paves the path to Biblical Submission.
Led by: Tracy Wainwright—Tracy is a wife, homeschooling mama of four, writer, and speaker. She is passionate about sharing the gospel as a Stonecroft Ministries speaker and encouraging spiritual growth in others through the written and spoken word,


Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Struggles & Triumphs


Guest Post by Cynthia Simmons



I have a room that’s off limits. If you open the door and peek inside, you see lots of papers and boxes scattered over the floor. It looks like junk, but it’s not. Those messy piles are the remnants of my childhood home. I’m compiling the material into an archive, and each time I dig in I learn something new.

Dad underlined “you were not redeemed with corruptible things such as silver and gold” in his New Testament. In the margin he penned, “Redeemed by the blood of Christ.” He didn’t often put his thoughts on paper, so I was thrilled to find a small tablet filled with his handwriting. He recorded his courtship with my mother. It’s so sweet. Mom wore red on their first date, and she spilled her coffee when he told a joke. They were married almost fifty-six years when she died.

A spiral bound book contained tearful prayers Mother wrote when feeling overwhelmed. Her Bible also had some treasures. In the center she recounted the story of her conversion. Precious! She kept notes on sermons, and dated passages she read in her devotions. In 1952 she’d highlighted Psalm 46:1. “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.” Beneath those words she jotted “Eternal refuge.”

Mom had a rare dementia that also impacted small motor skills. Handwriting became so difficult that she quit. In February of 2005 she scribbled, “Why can’t I be healed? I’ve prayed and others have prayed. Do you HEAR? PLEASE IN THE NAME of Jesus heal my body.” That made my heart heavy. Her final entry was in March 2005. The handwriting is almost illegible. “Psalm 33: 13 -20. The Lord is like a shield. He protects me. Verse 18 – His eye is watching me!! He is my strength.”

Hebrews 12:1 says “Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us.” (NAS)

 In Hebrews 11, the author told stories of faithful saints who lived before us. They are that ‘great cloud of witnesses’ who believed and endured. I’m very thankful my parents belong in that hall of fame. Mother could’ve turned against God when her illness continued to worsen, but she didn’t. Instead she chose to believe even though she didn’t know how things would turn out. Hebrews 12:1 says to get anything out of the way that will prevent us from trusting our Savior. When I’m tempted to doubt, I think of my parents and the legacy they left me. I can’t allow worry, fear, or discouragement stand in the way. Someday my children will sort through my things, and I hope they discover a legacy of undying faith.


Cynthia L Simmons and her husband, Ray, have five children and reside in Atlanta. She has taught for over twenty years as a homeschool mother and Bible teacher. Active in Christian Authors Guild (CAG), she conducts writing workshops and has served as president, vice president, and conference director. In December 2009 the membership granted her Life Time Membership for her numerous contributions to writers.  “Cindy” is fond of history and writes both historical fiction and nonfiction. Her writing appeared in CAG publications, NATHHAN NEWS, Chattanooga Regional Historical Magazine, Georgia Right to Life Newsletter, Chattanooga Times Free Press, Catholic Exchange, and Christian Devotions.us. Her first book, Struggles and Triumphs, came out in 2008. While promoting her book, she had interviews on radio and TV across the nation and was nominated for 2008 Georgia Author of the year. She also conducts monthly podcasts called CAG Spotlight in which she interviews authors and VIPs in the writing industry. At present she is completing a twelve week Bible study using the stories in Struggles and Triumphs.



 

themommyanswer Copyright © 2009 Paper Girl is Designed by Ipietoon Sponsored by Online Business Journal