I'm just a regular mom with a passion for all things creative! Being a wife and mom to four little boys is demanding, but I haven't lost my identity in it. I'm still a woman who loves to try new things and explore ways of bringing creativity into my life. This journey of being the Creative Chaos Mom is going to be a fun one, so feel free to join me in the chaos and share a little of your own along the way!

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

"Son Up to Son Down"

    A few years back a friend of mine brought a gift to me.  It was a little blue sign and written in delicate black letters read the words, “Mothers of little boys work from son up to son down.”  The sign has been scribbled on with crayons and pencils a number of times.  I used to clean it, but one day I gave up and thought, “You know what?  This is real life.  It adds character.” So the marks have stayed.  I am a mother of four boys.  I often say that it’s like raising four wild monkeys on crack who sometimes act like dinosaurs.  
    I giggle now when I think of that little sign, mostly because the sun and sons went down hours ago.  Here I am still awake doing the laundry and housework as I attempt to clean up what feels like the remnants of a tornado and turn it into something presentable for my 9 am meeting with a client tomorrow.
    I can faintly hear my husband snoring from the bedroom and the tapping of zippers and buttons attached to clothing as they go round and round in the dryer.  Yet there is a stillness and quiet in the house.  My mind swirls with my “to-do” list for the week as I finally pause, take a deep breath and release the stress my shoulders have carried all day.
    Today was different.  The boys were fighting more so than usual.  My sweet husband came home a bit early from work to take them to a movie since it’s their spring break, and I needed to work on a talk I’m presenting this weekend.  I took the time to sit and catch up on my bible study, reflecting on Easter and preparing for my talk.  
    The quiet was refreshing and rare for daytime.  I shouldn’t have been surprised, and yet I still was taken aback...every time I seek Jesus, he meets me.  I cried some good tears.  I still can’t wrap my mind around why he loves us so much, why he loves me so much.  His death on the cross, his resurrection, his love that is so much greater than I can even fathom...it leaves me speechless.
    I read scripture and journaled and prayed.  I love the quiet because I can talk to God out loud, without distraction.  He’s present...with me.  It makes me feel closer to him.  As I prepared for my talk I spoke of the things he has been doing in my life over the last six months, breathing new life in me, challenging my thinking, challenging my purpose, calling me to let go of the things I cling to and follow him with reckless abandon.  I’m finally learning to let go and there is so much freedom in it.  My heart has joy, my body is tired, but he sustains me and keeps me going.  He fills me with love to pour out on those four boys and to love my husband passionately.  I am surrounded by such precious gifts.  The more “stuff” I let go of, the more value I find in the things that really matter.  I’m so thankful that I have a reason to work from “son up to son down” and the hours beyond.
    I found a quote by Erma Bombeck today that says, “When I stand before God at the end of my life, I would hope that I would not have a single bit of talent left, and could say, ‘I used everything you gave me.’”  I just love that.  Though tired and weary at times, I know that God is with me, and he is drawing me in closer and closer.  I will continue to pursue him and pour myself out to do that which he has called me to.  So back to work I go...

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

5 Lessons I'm teaching my kiddos that apply to grown-ups

  1. Be nice.  My kids bicker about stupid things.  They are often selfish and unkind to each other.  It’s in their nature.  Teaching them the golden rule, “treat others how you would like to be treated”, is key in helping them grow into compassionate kind adults.  The funny thing is (sad really) that I run into adults on a regular basis who haven’t seemed to grasp this concept.  Selfishness, rudeness, cattiness, gossip...I just don’t understand it all.  This is not rocket science.  Be nice to each other.  Be kind.  Treat others how you would like to be treated.  Give people the benefit of the doubt. If they are just mean spirited, kill them with kindness.  Proverbs 21:21 says, “Whoever pursues righteousness and kindness will find life, righteousness, and honor.”  Smile, be kind to those you come in contact with and you’ll see your life become more positive.
  2. Work hard.  Most things in life don’t come easy.  Life is not about free handouts.  We all have to do things sometimes that we don’t want to do.  Even if it’s something we really do want, we usually have to work hard to get it.  The cool thing about having a good work ethic is that it can aid in developing many other important traits like dependability, passion, efficiency and effectiveness.  There is a sense of achievement that comes with hard work.  Proverbs 12:11 says, “Whoever works his land will have plenty of bread, but he who follows worthless pursuits lacks sense.”  It is also very important to apply your work ethic to teamwork.  Amazing things can be accomplished when you work together with others.  Ecclesiastes 4:9 says, “Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil.”  Work hard to become the best version of you, work well with those around you and see where life takes you.
  3. Integrity is key.  Honesty and integrity are endangered species in the world today.  As you grow into an adult the value of integrity in every area of your life is priceless.  Nobody likes those who are schmoozy or dishonest.  When you see people falling for schmoozy or being dishonest it should give you a bad feeling in the pit of your stomach.  Stand up for what’s right.  Do the right thing when people are watching and especially when they are not!  Colossians 3:17 says, “And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.”  God is watching even when others are not.  Be the person God has called you to be with integrity.
  4. Take Risks.  Life is too short and too important to live by a bubble wrap philosophy.  Follow your dreams.  Stretch yourself.  If you live in fear you will miss out on so much of what life has to offer.  Will you fail sometimes?  Most definitely, but you will learn from it.  You’ll get back up and keep running towards all that God has destined you for.  You must have faith.  Sometimes God calls us to do things that are scary or completely out of our comfort zone.  Let your faith win!  Jeremiah 29:11 says, “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.” Great things happen when we are willing to step out in faith, trust God and take those risks.
  5. Find joy.  Laugh a lot til your belly hurts.  Life has hard stuff in it and your perspective makes a huge difference in how that hard stuff affects you.  Don’t take yourself too seriously.  Choose to find the good in things and look for the bits of joy that make you see the glass “half full”.  There will always be hardships and curveballs that come your way, but if you can find joy, contentment and humor in the everyday you will sail through those rough waters with confidence.  My prayer for you is found in Romans 15:13, “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”
You can make conscious choices to apply these lessons each day.  Some come easier than others, but if you practice these principles daily eventually they will become habit.

Monday, June 9, 2014

The Good Christian

I grew up going to church.  I became a christian at the age of 5. I went to church on Sunday morning and Sunday night.  Midweek I went to Awana and then to youth group as I got older.  I spent a week every summer at a Christian camp.  I volunteered in Sunday school classes for little kids. I was a good kid who stayed out of trouble.  The church and christianity have been a part of my life as far back as I can remember.

I am a people pleaser by nature.  Faith always came easy to me for the most part.  There’s a part of me that has struggled for years though.  It comes with the idea of the “good” christian.  The church I grew up in was fairly legalistic, and honestly, I think legalism is the noose around the neck of the church today.  The general idea that I was taught in church is that you read your bible everyday, you pray everyday, you have a time of “devotion” everyday, you choose to be good and to do the right thing.  It’s something that you “do” if you’re a “good” christian.  I learned the stories of the Bible, I memorized verses, I learned the christian answers and the christianese lingo.  I wanted to be a “good” christian.

As I got older and life happened, I had a hard time finding time to read the bible.  Sure I had time to read, but time to read in quiet and actually have the words come to life...not so much.  My prayer life dwindled because I felt like my prayers hit the ceiling and fell back to the floor.  My faith was always there, I knew the right answers, but I didn’t feel the closeness.  Being a people pleaser, I struggled with the lack of intimacy and felt like I wasn’t pleasing to God.  I felt unworthy of his presence because I wasn’t a “good enough” christian.  This idea snowballed as I felt more ashamed with my lack of “goodness” and in turn I pulled further away from my time with God.

The reality of it all is that I am not a habitual person.  I am creative minded.  A dreamer.  I am not a morning person.  God made me that way.  I have a love/hate relationship with structure.  I need it, yet find it binding and suffocating at times.  I am not a “do your one hour of devotions at the same time first thing in the morning everyday” type of girl.  I used to be ashamed of that, because after all that’s what good christians do.  Right?  It took me a long time to come to grips with the fact that I was not a “good” christian as defined by what I had been taught.

Then the years of motherhood came, and holy-moly, did that throw me for a loop!  I had my first three boys in just under three years, and I was in what felt like a permanent state of survival mode.  I struggled.  I cried.  I was depressed.  I reached depths of loneliness that I didn’t know existed.  I was exhausted.  I wanted to be this amazing spiritual saint for my kids to look up to and I failed miserably.  I wanted to be a good christian, a good leader, a good wife, a good mom, a good friend, a good worker, a good mentor...I wanted to “do” it all.  I couldn’t do it.  I broke.  I wasn’t enough.

Do you know what happened?  I found GRACE!  It was the part of my faith I had not fully grasped from the get go.  Grace is defined as “the free and unmerited favor of God”.  FREE, not earned!  In my brokenness I held up my hands and said, “I’m not enough.  There is nothing I can DO to ever be enough.”  I know that Jesus saved me that night way back when I was five years old.  I accepted him as my savior.  But, it wasn’t until I was broken on my knees in a puddle of tears as an adult with kids of my own that I finally acknowledged his grace and accepted the fact that he finds favor in me just the way I am.  There is nothing I can “do” to make him love me more or less.  This realization was so freeing.  I didn’t have to be a “good” christian.  I just had to be me...the me that God purposed me to be.  The me that he planned this amazing life for.  I let go of the legalistic views that I struggled with for so long.  I accepted the things that were unique and different about me because that’s how God made me.  There isn’t a cookie cutter christian life to follow.  He made us different for a purpose.  He created us to bring him glory and there is so much beauty in the uniqueness of each person he created.

I have friends who do their one hour devotion every morning first thing because that is what works for them.  They find God in those moments, and I love it that they are habitual in it because that’s how God made them.  For me, I pray in the car (out loud because I can).  Sometimes I pray in the shower because it is one of the only times of the day that I get to be by myself. I meet God singing a worship song when I’m subbing at the Christian school my kids go to.  I see him in his creation in nature where I just soak in his presence without saying a word.  I hear him speak when I read his Word (the bible) while trying to find some encouraging words for a friend.  I cry out to him in the wee hours when I just need him to be my strength.  I thank him in moments where joy is found when my kids giggle and when we snuggle.  My intimacy and faith looks different than the “good” christian idea I was raised on and that’s okay.  I choose to embrace grace, I choose to embrace who God created me to be, and I choose to love those around me for who they are.  I find joy in creation because God made me creative.

It’s not about being a “good” Christian.  It’s about believing in who Jesus is and what he’s done.  It’s about accepting grace and loving him because he’s downright amazing.  It’s about loving people around us and extending grace because God created them to be loved unconditionally.

As I raise my boys up in this ‘oh so crazy’ world of ours, I want them to know God’s grace, and I want them to know that they are loved fiercely and unconditionally.  I want them to accept who God created them to be, and then go love the heck out of the people God has placed in their lives.

I’m not a “good” Christian.  I’m just a girl who loves Jesus, who will never fully understand why he loves me, but I’m thankful that he does.  And I will spend the rest of my days loving the people around me in hopes that they will know his love too because that’s why God made me.

“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith-and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God-not by works, so that no one can boast.” - Ephesians 2:8-9.

“And now these three remain: faith, hope and love.  But the greatest of these is love.” 
- I Corinthians 13:13

Thursday, January 9, 2014

The Light at the End of the Tunnel

I don’t know what happened.  A switch clicked inside me four days ago, and I finally reached the light at the end of the tunnel.  My boys are 8 1/2, 7 (three weeks shy), 5 1/2 and 2 1/2.  I have been living in some form of survival mode for YEARS!  And by years I mean nearing the decade mark!  This new year is the fresh start I’ve been longing for...the moment when I could look at my life, take a deep breath and say, “I can do this!” and actually believe the words coming out of my mouth.

I feel like a huge weight has lifted from my shoulders, the fog has cleared and I have this beautiful positive view of the amazing life God has blessed me with.  I didn’t set out this year with new year’s resolutions, but somehow I’ve already made some substantial changes (and we’re only a couple weeks in!).  I’m guessing it may have something to do with some remarkable praying women who move mountains with their faith.  If you know anyone like that, get on their prayer list.  Seriously, miracles can happen!

A few major changes have reduced stress and allowed me to really find a positive spin in the everyday.  First off, my husband’s employment was kind of in limbo mode the last couple of years.  He has a great job working at our church (for the last decade), but we were seriously considering making a profession change and explored many options.  Things have been “up in the air” for quite some time.  He would start down a road and God would close the door.  In the end, God made it very clear that we are to stay put.  We are exactly where He wants us, and He is doing a great work that we get to be a part of as our church looks to the future.  It’s an exciting time, and we both feel God’s hand in it.  Now that we know we are going to be here for the long haul (unless, of course, God calls us somewhere else out of the blue), we both have an overwhelming peace about it!

Another change is that we decided to put our boys in a private Christian school.  We moved our oldest son to Christian school back in September (mid-semester) for a variety of reasons, and it was one of the best decisions we’ve ever made.  He has grown so much academically, spiritually and emotionally.  It’s been such a fun experience watching the changes in him.  Our two middle boys stayed in public school, so for the last four months I’ve been a full-time taxi service with two different schools, two different drop off times, three different pick-up times, half-days, full-days and the ever dreadful “early-release Wednesday” pick-ups. It has been complete madness!  My 2 year old doesn’t nap more than 15 minutes a day and it takes place in the car because that is really all that is allotted with our schedule.  With the introduction of “Common Core” in the public school district the straw finally broke the camel’s back.  Doing the math homework with my first grader made me want to stab myself in the eye with sharp pencils.  I’ve never been so frustrated in all my life.  Who knew that I would dislike homework more as a parent than I ever did as a student?  I knew I couldn’t keep up with this crazy circus I was starring in and I could see frustration rising in my boys, so after much thought, prayer and discussion, our middle boys will be starting at the Christian school next week.  Can I get an hallelujah?!  I can’t tell you the relief and utter peace I’ve experienced since making that decision.  Financially it is going to be hard, and if people saw our budget they would think we were downright crazy for making this decision.  In a grand step of faith we are stepping out on this journey and trusting God to provide the finances to make this work.  Again, I have complete peace about this decision which normally I would totally be freaking out about.  He will provide.  I will trust in His faithfulness and provision.  Deep breath...sigh...feeling so much better.  We’ve already seen Him move in the financial department a few times in the last two weeks!  It’s amazing to watch.  Homeschool isn’t completely off the table, and I strongly considered it, but it just wasn’t the right time.  We’ll see what next year looks like when we get there.  We are on the one year at a time plan for now.

I also decided this year to do a “read through the Bible in a year” program.  I got in a rut for a LONG time where I just went back to my favorite parts of the Bible and would only read things I had highlighted or underlined.  Bad idea.  Granted they were often verses of encouragement, but, wow, was I missing out on so much of what God has for me.  I know I was in survival mode and just trying to get through the everyday, so I’m extending myself some grace on this one.  However, now that the tunnel is gone and sunlight and fresh air are encircling me I figured it’s time to “dig” into the Word.  I have already learned a lot and view the Word with what feels like “fresh eyes” as it comes to life right before me each day.  I am excited!  My passion for learning and truly knowing God and His character is back and it feels FAN-FREAKING-TASTIC!  Again, deep breath...sigh...feeling so much better.

In an attempt to use my time better, I decided to delete facebook from my phone and limit myself to checking it on the computer once a day in the morning only to check for personal messages.  I also have cut back on “screen time” watching t.v. and being on the computer.  I have been diligent about keeping my boys’ screen time down to a minimum over the last few months because they literally turn into MONSTERS when they get too much.  I made these changes for myself in January because I wanted to set a good example for them.  I was very surprised at how much screen time affected me.  I am so much less irritable and less stressed after making these slight changes.  I went from feeling like I never had enough time and was constantly playing “catch up” to feeling relaxed, in control and very capable of completing my daily routine and tasks as needed.  It was such a small change with such a huge impact.  I still am kind of in shock by it all and wish I had made this change much sooner!

I know many different women who use “Jesus Calling” for their daily devotional.  I can’t say enough good things about it.  I even bought the kid version for my boys.  If you don’t have it and are looking for a daily devotional, I highly recommend it!  I had an “a-ha” moment on January 7th after letting go of my facebook addiction the day before.  I read in Jesus Calling, “It is impossible to praise or thank me too much.”  Down the page it read, “Fill up the spare moments of your life with praise and thanksgiving.  This joyous discipline will help you live in the intimacy of My Presence.” (Jesus Calling by Sarah Young pg. 8).  “Joyous discipline” definitely resonated with me.  After I read it I was thinking I had just stopped giving my spare moments of life to Facebook, so what an easy transition it would be to give those moments to praise and thanksgiving.  I started looking at my life with thankfulness in everything from the little things to the big things.  Instead of thinking I “have to” do the laundry or I “have to” wash the dishes my thinking became I “get to” do laundry because my God has provided clothes and linens for my family, and it’s so awesome that I have a huge washer and dryer and don’t have to work at it by hand!  I “get to” do the dishes because my God provided dishes and food for my family.  We “get to” eat three healthy meals a day and still have snacks.  It’s so awesome that we have a dishwasher, and I don’t have to do them all by hand.  I “get to” help my kids with their homework because they are bright and learning, and I “get to” be a part of their growth.  It’s a simple change that has ROCKED MY WORLD!

When you can take all the complaining, “have to’s” and struggles of daily life and find those bits of positive to focus on, when you can give praise and thanksgiving to God in your spare moments and when you can find that ever present relationship and realize God is always there right with you waiting for you to converse with Him, your life WILL CHANGE!

I have reached the light at the end of this particular tunnel of “young mother”.  It has been a painful exhausting journey, but I have learned so much, and I can praise my mighty God for walking with me every single step of the way.  I am so looking forward to what He has for me in 2014!  So far, it’s been one of the best years yet!  Deep breath...sigh...feeling so much better!

I Thessalonians 5:16-18
“Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Oh Baby!

Well hello there! First, let me wish all of you a very HAPPY NEW YEAR!!! I have missed blogging oh so much! I can't believe how much time has passed since my last post. Let me catch you up real quick...

Besides the chaos of all the holidays and raising a family of three boys (not to mention we are in the middle of selling our home), I found out in September that I am expecting baby #4!!! While this is very exciting news, it brings with it months and months of sickness for me. I (unfortunately) am not one of those women that feels fantastic while pregnant, and I actually struggle with what I call "all-day sickness" for 5-9 months during my pregnancies. Hence my absence!

The good news is that my fifth month is here, and I am finally getting some relief. Hopefully I will be back to my usual blogging self soon as I sort through life and reestablish my schedule.

I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas and that 2011 brings with it many blessings in your life! God bless and take care! I'll be back soon.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Recipe: Amber's Pasta Salad

Happy Labor Day! I hope you have fun plans to celebrate. My family is heading over to a friend's house for a BBQ. It is pot-luck style, so I signed up to bring a yummy pasta salad.

Pasta salad is so easy to make and there are a million different recipes out there. Today I'm going to share my own personal recipe. It's fast, easy and we usually have all the ingredients on hand at our house to whip up this tasty colorful salad. Hope you like it!

Amber's Pasta Salad

1 lb. Mini-Farfalle (Bowtie) Pasta (You can also use colorful rotini, small shells or mini penne)
1 cup of Balsamic Vinaigrette Dressing (I use Newman's Own Light Balsamic)
1 Cucumber chopped
2 Large Bell Peppers (1 yellow and 1 orange) chopped
2 Stalks of Celery chopped
1 Cup of Tomatoes chopped (I use cherry or any small tomatoes)
4 oz. of Feta Cheese

Boil pasta as directed and drain. In a large bowl mix pasta and vinaigrette dressing. Put in refrigerator to cool. Once cooled add cucumber, bell pepper, celery and tomato. Toss salad together until evenly mixed. Add feta cheese and toss lightly. Cover and chill for 30 minutes before serving.

Serve and enjoy!

P.S.-This is a great recipe to make ahead of time (even the day before). My only recommendation if making ahead is to not add the tomatoes (they will get mushy), and stir the feta in right before serving (or you can serve the feta to the side as a topping).

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Commercial Fun!

You've heard me say this before, but if you haven't joined some sort of local moms group, you really should! I have the joy of being a part of the leadership "steering" team of my local MOPS group this year, and it is an absolute blast! I have met so many amazing women who encourage my heart on a daily basis. New friendships are blooming, older friendships are becoming stronger, and I am becoming a better woman by having these incredible ladies in my life!

My role this year in MOPS is Publicity. Basically, my job is to get the word out marketing our group and keep up our communication through Facebook pages and our monthly newsletter.

My first project was creating a promo commercial for our church to attract new moms to our MOPS group. This was SO MUCH FUN! My husband happens to be the Director of Communications at our church, so he has the much needed skills we used to film and edit the video. I wrote and directed the piece, and my husband worked his magic to bring us the finished product. We filmed all of the video on my handy dandy camera that I mentioned in my previous blog post. I know...it does video too!!! So cool! I have always had an interest in film (yet another creative outlet for me!), so this is something I am planning to learn a lot more about. My husband is up to the challenge of teaching me his mad skills, so we have decided to start working on more projects together. It's been fun sharing something that we both have a love for, and it turns out that we make a great team!

I also have to point out that the super great music on this commercial was written and produced by T.J. Hill of Future of Forestry who is by far the most talented musician I have ever met! Check out his blog/music here.

Here is the commercial that we produced. Hope you like it!