Saturday, April 12, 2014

Our 6-Year-Old Daughter's Wedding

     As Scotty and I just completed a marriage retreat, I am reminded of this true, sweet story and the parenting principles we can apply to our family as we prepare our children for a future relationships. 

Click below for the link to the Wedding Issue from Springfield Lifestyle Magazine April 2014.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Update on Scotty at Mayo Clinic

     Hello friends! Our heartfelt gratitude goes out to you for all the prayers for Scotty as he is here in Rochester, MN at the renowned Mayo Clinic. God has been answering our prayers and we are thankful for many blessings! We are truly honored that you care and are supporting us in love and prayers.

     As we are on this journey, I just wanted to share a brief history and update because sometimes it can be hard to piece it all together. Basically, Scotty is here at the Pain Management Clinic. This is an intense three-week program for people who have chronic pain with no other options for surgery or medicine.  The  goal is not to necessarily relieve all pain nor to find new answers for the condition at hand, but to help the patient reduce medicine and learn practical methods to live a quality life with as little pain as possible.

                                    Some of the caring staff at the clinic

     Scotty’s back pain started over 20 years ago as he was injured playing football as the quarterback at Evangel University. He has had four major back surgeries. One was a fusion down low at L5 S1 and another surgery was a fusion with hardware placed in the mid-back at T11 T12. The third surgery took the hardware out after a few years. And the last surgery was a total-disk replacement back down to the lower spine. The operations were performed by doctors with the highest qualifications around the country including Dr. Ziglar at the Texas Spine Institute for the total disk replacement. And yet, none have cured the injury. In fact, there is not only  spine damage but there is also nerve damage, arthritis, degenerative disease, and scar tissue that adds to the pain.

     Consequently, we have tried numerous medicines, herbal oils, vitamins, hot tubs, topical creams, acupuncture, chiropractors, massage therapy, physical therapy, and a dozen other things we would say were “unusual but worth trying”! While some of the remedies do give relief, it only lasts momentarily at best. This is what has led us to the Mayo program.  We have accepted that outside of a miracle, which we are believing for, we have done all we can do.

     To this point, Scotty has completed two out of the three weeks of the program. The staff is excellent and we know they are offering the best possible. While most of the tools taught we are already aware of and apply, there have been enough new things to give us hope. However, it will take weeks if not months to see results on a measurable scale. So, we trust the Lord and are doing our part to utilize the information we have been given.
     Overall, Scotty is doing well. God is helping him. To be honest, it has been very challenging physically and mentally, especially at night as he is off all meds and working to “retrain the brain” on how to deal with the pain. There are many other lifestyle details he, and all of us, are learning that is part of the process. In fact, the older two girls and I attended a two-day training to learn what we can do to help. We are all working together for optimal results.

The girls in class (7 hrs/day) learning how the body handles pain and how to live with someone in pain. 

     One blessing is that Scotty has been able to still preach on the weekends in various churches and will do an upcoming youth event this weekend. Honestly, I stand in awe of the Lord equipping him for these because of the struggle going on physically. But God is greater than our own ability. For everyone's trials, we can rest assured that "He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak." Isaiah 40:29 

     No matter what you are struggling with in health, loss, hurt, financial concern, addiction etc. God is strong when we are not. We are unable to control our circumstances but we are able to fully depend on the Lord for every moment. When we suffer, our main focus is to trust He has allowed it for purposes beyond our knowledge and will help us. 

     Whatever you may be facing could be a time of challenge, but we want to encourage you with Isaiah 41:10. “For do not fear, for I am with you. Do not be dismayed, for I am your God.  I will strengthen you and help you. I will uphold you with my righteous right hand!”

      Again, thank you for your love during this time. We are on Day 13 and appreciate all the prayers for the next 8 days and the weeks to follow. Believing for healing and victory! 

With the girls praying for God to help us while we praise Him for all He has already done.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Communicating Our Healthy Choices

Hello! Have you ever felt like teaching your children how to handle healthy food choices can be difficult? For us, we had to learn the hard way! Just because our girls were eating healthy didn't mean they had healthy communication to others about it! In March's issue of Springfield Lifestyle Magazine I share our experience. It is on page 22 followed by another personal story from my brother, Austin Hartley and his journey to making better choices for his own life.
May your families enjoy all the healthy benefits of life!

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Mealtime Satisfaction

Hey friends! Here is the link to an article I wrote for the February Springfield Lifestyle Magazine that may encourage mealtime success in your home. I hope it gives some insights into practical tips for your time eating as a family! Enjoy!

Friday, December 6, 2013

More Stuff!

     Merry Christmas! At least I hope it is for you mamas! This can also be a time of frustration from your house being overwhelmed with stuff and your children longing for more.

Take heart! There is a small 2-step strategy that may help you feel a bit more merry in this month's article for Springfield Lifestyle Magazine.
More Stuff?!?

   "What do you want for Christmas?" the Santa rountinely asked my little girl. I abruptly piped in like only a parent could, "Nothing!!!! She doesn't want anything! She has all she needs and wants! Oh wait, I know what she can have....a professional organizer to help her deal with what she already has! The last thing she needs is MORE STUFF!!!!"

      Yes, this really happened in my life. Well, I didn't say it outloud, but I certainly thought about it. For many families like ours, Christmas has meant two things: More and Stuff! Stuff for the closet! Stuff for the toy bin! Stuff for the TV hutch! Stuff the garage! Stuff for the areas...with stuff! As a mother of five children between 3-10 yrs old, the last thing I need is more stuff on top of the stuff we have! After all the treats from the school party, costumes from the church performance, clothes and toys from the family-giving, I have felt as if I have a mall in my home entry room. All I can do in December is make a pile in the laundry room and deal with it all after New Years.

       Then there is the More Factor. The innocent children in our lives have this inward understanding that every year the gifts should be bigger and better! The bigger you get, the bigger the presents get. And it better be better, mom, so they think. I thought this as a child and I know my children have had these expectations Seriously, my oldest daughter made the comment a couple years ago of her Christmas gifts being more and more each year. "Just think, Mom! By the time I am 13 I will have a car!" No ho, ho,ho here...because truth is, she was right! There was this unsaid pattern we had been creating as a family every year that there were more gifts and more expensive gifts than the year before.

          Certainly, Christmas is a wonderful time to purchase and receive presents as we rejoice over the ultimate Gift given to the world. And I love it all! But the reality is that it can easily get out of control and our children can become consumed with consuming. And this can lead to frustration in the minds and the home of the parents. For us, we decided to pull the reins back a bit on the sleigh ride for our family so that we aren't overhwelmed with more stuff and yet still have the most wonderful time of the year. We took two easy steps that changed the direction of our whole season:

     1. Give away as much as you can this month before more comes in the door. Since it's a hectic time, don't even seperate it yet into those resale/giveaway/trash piles. Just get a box and throw everthing you can get rid of in there. Think in terms of clothes, toys, decor, books, DVDs etc. As you gather each item, you will feel a wave of holly jolly come over you, I gaurantee. I typically have each of our children gather five legitimate things, not their sibling's items or a small piece of a broken toy, to share. For us, that is 25 items out of the way! Merry Christmas to me!

     2. Explain that each child is loved but the gifts are not always going to be more impressive than the year before. Some years may be a step up from the year before but some years may not, and that is okay. Share with them that the goal is to share the love not increase the greed. The atmosphere, tone and words we use in communicating these steps is for the children is crucial for them to understand and embrace. These changes may be harder for some hearts than others but it's beneficial for all.

      Here is glimpse at what we actually say to our children during December, "Hey it's the most wonderful time of the year! Who is ready to celebrate? Decorate? Bake? Shop? Give?! Go light-seeing?! Here is the plan, kids. First, we are going to start by making room for the blessings that are to come! This way, other children can use what we have had and it keeps the house from being overwhelmed with too much stuff. Secondly, let's keep things in perspective of appreciation for all you will be receiving this year. Each present is given because you are loved. However, every year they will not necessarily be bigger and better, okay? We are blessed and will enjoy this all to the fullest when we have the right heart of gratitude. Who is ready to start?!"

       So, gather your small and big elves around the fire, pass out marshmallows and share the family's merry way to celebrate! Keep it short and sweet answering all questions at the end, then implement all month long with expectations of less material choas and fewer greedy hearts. Everyone can still decorate the house, eat delicious treats, go visit the brightest lights, turn up the Christmas tunes, make traditional crafts and do some shopping for others. But most of all, you will be able to enjoy the most wonderful time of the year without everyone wanting more and your home overflowing with stuff.



Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Trying to Train!

    All I am trying to do is "train up a child in the way she should go". But that is not always easy! This video clip is exactly what happened yesterday. I was feeling frustrated so I decided to video it exactly the way it was two minutes previously...and the phone even rang without prompting...which is part of our normal life too! Ugh. So many distractions. 

    Honestly, I started singing because it was either sing or let out an exasperated sigh. So, I just made up a song to get their attention. Do you ever feel frustrated with your children when all you are trying to do it is the right thing?! I am sure this is the case for mothers everywhere!  Don't give up friends! Keep teaching even when it's tough! I am preaching this to myself too!
    I am reminded of the verse in Galations 6:9-10 (MSG) "So let's not allow ourselves to get fatigued doing good. At the right time we will harvest a good crop if we don't give up or quit. Right now, therefore, every time we get the chance, let us work for the benefit of all, starting with the people closest to us in the community of faith." Totally for us, friends.

     We must not give up with planting the seeds in the hearts of our children so we can gather a harvest. I can remember a friend of mine who has raised eight children sharing with me that I am in the years of plowing the fields. (I am picturing myself completely digging with a shovel, sweating profusely in the blazing sun with no water as a comparison to what I feel at times emotionally, physically, mentally as a mama!). But she went on to say that I will in time see the growth coming up and will be richly blessed with a lifelong harvest which would be my children loving the Lord! I have never forgotten those words. And so I plow. And you must too.

     No matter what distractions or frustrations we may feel when leading our children, we must keep going. Even better is that our strength, patience, and perhaps at times a fun-loving response will come from the Lord who created our children and chose us to mother them.

     After the song we did move on with still and quiet children ready to actually learn. Little seeds are already sprouting from my little crop!


Saturday, November 2, 2013

Inspiration to Remain Faithful!

     Scotty and I are in a unique season of life that includes traveling to different parts of the nation each week to preach the Word. God has blessed! Every place we go there is something special about the people that we take with us in our hearts. And my favorite part is participating in what God is doing in high schools and universities, churches, conventions, and retreats.

     One specific place that stands out from our fall trips is the Billy Graham Retreat Center with the North Carolina AG Pastors. This was a weekend for the lead pastors to get away and be refreshed with one another as well as have time in the Lord's presence. God truly met us there and began a work. In addition, Scotty and I were encouraged, inspired, and challenged as we looked at the life of Billy Graham depicted on the campus. What a man of God with faithfulness!

     Many of you may have heard or be participating in the "My Hope America" outreach in homes November 7th created by the Billy Graham Association. This event as already reached millions in other countries and Billy is praying for a revival in America through people inviting those they personally know into their homes to view the program, eat, and chat about the Lord. All of that to say, since we were inspired to be as faithful in our ministry as Billy has been in his along with the promotion of this coming event which coincides with Billy's 95th birthday, I have made a video highlight of his life and our time there at The Cove. May you be motivated to stay strong until the end of your life as you watch his journey!

Click on the link below: