Saturday, May 13, 2017

Do You Ever Feel a Mom's Fight Out?

    (2014 Repost) It’s 11:40 p.m. I just came home into a quiet house with everyone asleep. The beautifully dim light accentuates my favorite aspects of this house. But after ten seconds my mind went back to reality as I walked from the garage to the bedroom. I had thoughts race through my mothering mind within a matter of minutes, “What is that foul smell? Whew. Yuck. It can wait til morning…Did the kids and Scotty really need all those dishes tonight, especially when I ordered pizza? Oh, there are my Haiti sponsor letters that I have never mailed. I need to do that.  And I forgot to get medicine picked up. Bummer. She is totally out. Well, what’s one day with a kid with no meds? Wait, I should go first thing and get it. Should I go kiss and check on all the children? Better not, they may stir and need me. Not worth it. Who’s underwear is in the middle of the foyer and why? I am hungry, but not sure why since I had a salad and an entrĂ©e then frozen custard. Maybe I should ignore the hunger.Should I wash my face? I am too tired but I know I need to…and floss...and shower…and wash my hair…and shave. Ugh. I can’t do all that. So, I will just get my makeup off then maybe brush my teeth after I go eat some cereal. I need to read the papers the school sent home. And is tomorrow the last day for teacher appreciation?! I need to write thank you notes! How am I going to do that plus pack for our weekend trip and go to Wal-mart and take a shower…and make my bed…and read my Bible…and parent the kids, and answer Facebook messages…and bring the trash can in…and take all my vitamins…and clean the foul smell coming from the mound of dishes…and redo the load of laundry in the dryer that is now wrinkled and ruined from setting...and put gas in the car and, of course, exercise then all the other things that come in a day that I have to leave by 2:00 p.m.? And where did I put my wedding ring when I took it off? Ugh. Breathe. This is not the time for a panic attack.” This was all while my fabulous five were sleeping. Imagine what it can be like when they all wake up, and even more so, when I give birth to my 6th one here in a matter of weeks. Being a mother takes a lot

     Trust me, I LOVE motherhood. I have embraced motherhood. God has miraculously turned this “worst babysitter ever” that “didn’t like her first child” into a redeemed mama soul that is thrilled to be obedient in raising the people God has given her. They are precious and priceless. They are worth every minute of selfless living. It’s just that all the logistics that come with mothering can sometimes get in the way of my heart. I have to have a mom’s fight out mentally and emotionally to feel what I know to be the true core of who I am as a mother.
My mom and I out to the movies tonight!
     And I know there are others like me out there feeling this same way. In fact, tonight, I saw the new witty comedy Moms’ Night Out movie. It. Was. Awesome. My mom and I sat through the whole thing either laughing, crying, or saying, “That is sooooo how it is!” The movie completely revealed the same mental, emotional, and even spiritual battles that we plunge through on a daily basis in our mom-fight. For me, seeing a highly-produced movie about moms and their challenges on the big screen made me want to stand and yell out, “I LOVE THIS! I LIVE THIS!” while wondering if the person who wrote the script can be my new best friend.  I recommend the movie to anyone who is a mother or who has a mother because it humorously reveals the deep-rooted concerns in the chaos.    

     Being a mother is hard. It’s a fight. And yet, I believe it’s a fight we can win with the Lord’s help. Feeling overwhelmed? Don’t rely on your own ability. Stop trying to be strong enough. The house will always need work. The paper stack will always grow. The children will always need something. Choose to hand it over to the Lord in your heart and how you think. “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” Phil. 4:13. Discontent? The grass is just as itchy on the other side. Escaping will only mask the core issue for a season. Take time to learn what Paul did in Phil. 4:11 “I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances.” He didn’t have it naturally but learned it. Contentment will come when we are living in obedience. If we are right with God then we can rest instead of wondering if we should be somewhere else doing something else. If He wanted us to make a change, we would know.  Insecure? We know that Satan loves to lie. He loves to tell us we aren’t good enough and can’t do what we need to do. Only believe what the Lord says about you. He says, “I give strength to the weary and increase the power of the weak.” Isaiah 40:29. If God made the child then He will strengthen to parent the child as well. Guilty? All of us have things we regret as mamas but not forgiving ourselves and re-playing our mistakes keeps us in bondage. But Christ said, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” I John 1:9. Be free! Ask for forgiveness, do what you can to make it right then move on! If not, then you are saying God’s forgiveness isn’t enough so you still have to carry it. Mentally overloaded? “God will keep you in perfect peace when your mind stays on Him, because you trust Him.” Isaiah 26:3 Relax. God has the world under control. Take a deep breath. Rest in Him. Whether it is a sick child, a stray-hearted child, family changes, financial burdens, or marriage issues, we may have to walk through the hardship, but the Lord gives us peace as we trust Him to bring us through with His wisdom.

     No matter what the mom-fight is for you, you can win. We win with the power and help of the Lord. We aren’t alone in this journey! There are millions of us doing all we can to mother and God will help every single one us. Now, I can let all my late-night mom’s fight out thoughts go, and just rest in a the fond memories of the Moms’ Night Out movie. Much love and prayers to all my mothering friends...and go see the movie!

Saturday, April 8, 2017

How to Lead a Cousins (or Friends) Camp!

It's Spring time but I wanted to share this with so you have time to think and plan if this is something you decide to do this summer! This is an at-home camp for kids from any connections you may have in life. It could be for neighbors, friends, church kids or cousins! You can divide up ages or do everyone together depending on the amount and the ages. And all you Pinterest savvy people can spruce it up even more. We even threw in a bday party during one of the lunch times since we had everyone there anyway. We added cake, did presents and set out a theme on the table then went back into the camp saved time and money on the bday party and the bday girl loved it! Make it whatever works for you and have a blast impacting young hearts! Enjoy...

(2014 re-post) Woo-hoo! We just recently completed our 5th Annual Cousin's Camp! Hard to believe its been going for FIVE YEARS! SO WORTH IT! I gathered all first cousins who are 4 and older to make some major life-time memories. From the first-class greetings, to opening ceremonies, games and prizes, mini-group, and water fun we lived it up for yet another successful year of bonding. Here is a highlight video from this past month at Cousins Camp:

     After some thought, I decided that anything to lead and love children is worth sharing. Perhaps this will offer you some creative ideas to build relationships with the children in your world whether biological, extended, adopted, friends, neighbors, little ones you mentor etc. The main reasons we get together is to make an extra effort beyond birthdays and holidays (those are so busy) to grow in God, to have both sides of the family making memories, and for them to know their Aunt Casey loves them! Here is the schedule we use but adapt for your own interest and needs:

We keep the activities to two days and each day goes from 10-3:00. This is just enough time to do everything and yet not too much when things would get a little crazy.

10:00 WELCOME Greet outside with lots of energy and random instruments while cheering their name and making a tunnel. We do this until all arrive. Then we let the kids choose if they want to get their face painted which is done by a big kid or one of the helpers. Helpers are someone like an adult friend, relative, or teen. This year I had three helpers bc I am pregnant and also had 14 kids at the house…in addition, I decided I better have two camps next time bc the age gaps between the 4 yr olds and the 10-11 yr olds as well as the amount of kids! But it was fun!

10:15 OPENING CEREMONIES We gather around for the pledge to the American flag, then we circle up for a Cousins Camp Cheer (“We’re cousins! We’re cousins! We always stick together! I am with you, you are with me, its Cousins Camp Forever!”) then we put on some dance music and do a dance together (Electric Slide or something similar that is fun and easy).

10:30 BIBLE CHAT TIME There is a theme each year and we talk about a concept such as trusting the Lord, prayer, living a pure life, and learning what truth is in life. I lead the lesson and pass a balla round for each child to hold when it’s their turn to talk. We act out the lesson or use props to prove the point. It is the most valuable time of the whole camp as the children share their hearts and insights. Then we close with prayer requests and I remind them about being wise and choosing God no matter what life brings their way.

11:00 CRAFT TIME Anything from decorating t-shirts to stuffing panty hose with cotton and drawing faces to make long snakes, this is just a fun activity.

11:30 GAMES These games are easy and fun. We have two teams with equal ages on each if possible so older can help the younger. These games have included through the years tossing balls into buckets, throwing popcorn into mouths, playing Pictionary, guessing what items are missing from a tray or wrapping up in toilet paper races etc. The final game leads up one big game on day two such as a scavenger hunt for a treasure box with real coins or an obstacle course.


12:30 FREE TIME outdoors with sprinklers or set up pools, bikes, chalk, swingset etc.

2:00 SNACK TIME and AWARDS and sometimes we combine one of our girls bday celebrations during this part if the camp falls during a bday. We eat and open presents on Day 1. For Day 2, we do snack then give out awards for each child with a certificate or medal or trophy to acknowledge something special about each one. This year, due to rain, we had to move Freetime and snack to an indoor community swim area so I sent a picture with awards on it in the mail later.

2:45 PACK UP All kids gather their items and do a cleanup so the house isn’t too messy and moms don’t have to wait at pickup.

These years of effort have been worth every minute and I hope it inspires you to connect with the children in your life before they grow up and go their own ways. It truly is a gift to have influence and time with the heart of a child. ENJOY!

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Parenting With Apologies

     Shortly after one of my girls woke up, she was already verbalizing a negative attitude for the day. So I responded back to her with an attitude. Brilliant, right? I put the mama power on and firmly responded with, "I don't know what your problem is with today, but if you don't cut it out I can start your day with of some form of discipline to help you snap out of it." So she answered back that she didn't have an attitude. Then I answered back that she did and re-enacted it all so she could see it. Then I added, "You have one more chance to start this day off better." Then I went to the kitchen for another few minutes to finish reading my Bible. All it took was for me to see my Bible and I was immediately convicted.

     Calmly, I called for my daughter and expressed my apologies. "I am sorry. I was too firm and had a negative attitude myself this morning." Kindly she answered, "It's okay, mom." But I knew we needed to reunite in heart. "No, its not okay. I am sorry. Will you forgive me?" "Yes, I will." As we hugged she let out a sigh of relief. And so did I.

          So, after my daughter and I reconnected, I asked, "So what was up this morning that had you so tense..." and we chatted about it. Afterwards, we looked up Bible verses that would help with what she was struggling with for the day.  This was MUCH more effective than my first response.

     Parenting with apologies keeps my heart close to the girls and allows them to see my imperfections because they think I am totally perfe...wait, well, it allows them to see how I handle my imperfections. :-)

Rest Is Best

This letter to God was one I wrote back in 2014 when we had the biggest transition of our lives. I am just now sharing it as it takes time to share some things. Although we did go on to add another baby and a dog (life is funny like that) I am enjoying this pace that is primarily in my heart and mind in the midst of our new ministry work. Living at rest is priceless!

"Lord, it's me. Casey. I love You so much. I know we talk a lot but I wanted to write what I am feeling. And I believe others will connect with You as I share my heart. The past six weeks have been life-changing. Thank you for being with us in detailed ways as we have transitioned from being on staff at the church for twenty years. Thank you for the people that have encouraged us and blessed us in notes and gifts. They are sent from You and we don't take them for granted. This has been a divine time with You, Lord. And yet, what is a girl to do when she feels so much?

I have known my place and purpose my whole life. It was home, school, music and sports growing up. It has been marriage, motherhood, and ministry for some time now. Those things were challenging to me. I had to learn them and work hard for them. There were so many new things to conquer and do. Whether it was communication with Scotty, birthing babies, or leading at church, there was plenty of learning and doing.

But this time in my life is so strange. So I am seeking You on what to do with it. Our marriage is settled and blessed. My babies are born and growing. Our ministry has changed and there isn't a specific function for me to conquer yet. So what is up? Where is the adreneline? Where is my challenge? What is this? REST? You say, it's called "rest"? How can I stop when the world is in need and I must work! Work! Work!

Rest. A season of rest. Interesting, Lord. Sounds sinful based on my pattern of doing and thinking for over 30 years. Could this be from You? A period in my life where You literally just want me to do what I know to do and do it well? There is nothing new to chase or figure out? Do you seriously want me to simply rest? This is what Your word says in Ps. 116: 7 "I said to myself, 'relax and rest as God has showered you with blessings'..." but it seems unfamiliar.

Does this mean I can just open my Bible and enjoy it instead of prepare to teach? Does this mean I can sleep without grinding my teeth from the stress of so many details to not forget? Does this mean I can sit on my back porch swing and not feel like I am wasting time? Does this mean when I pray my mind is clear rather than cloudy from distractions of everything else? Does this mean when I choose a book it doesn't have to be one on how to survive in home, motherhood, and ministry? Does this mean You are okay with this? If so, this is amazing. This is almost too good to be true. And yet, I know this is what you have for me right now.

All I feel in my spirit these days is to be with You and take care of the things I already have in my life. No drive for more. No seeking things to conquer. No looking for fulfillment in the action and adventure. Just rest. Rest in You.

This isn't easy for me. But I am here. Let's do it. For many years I know I have obeyed by working hard for all You told me to do. And now I will pour myself into resting. This is Your plan. This is Your will. This is Your way. It isn't wrong. It isn't selfish. It isn't wasting time. This is what you want. You are using me and speaking to me in this.

Help me to take a deep breath and be with you in a Mary spirit. May I fellowship with You as it was when Jesus pulled away and met with you as part of Your plan. May I sit at Your feet and weep. May I calapse in Your arms as I lay out my heart before You. May I embrace being away from all I have ever known. May I be at peace with less. May I rest for as long as You desire. Your rest is best.




It Wasn't Raining When Noah Built the Ark

     This little sign sits in my laundry room and reminds me to think ahead for what may come. It doesn't say, "Have FEAR and PANIC because a storm is coming!!!!" For this I am grateful as I already have those thoughts as a natural response if I allow my flesh to take over and forget the promises of God. Instead, I quote "For do not fear, for I am with you. Do not be afraid, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will uphold you with my righteous right hand." Isaiah 41:10 while I also prepare for what we have been warned lies ahead.

     As many of you know, there are predicted tornados coming to the Mid-West over the next two days. Below I have listed some basic things to remember to help you prepare for the storms. I hope you will join me in prayer for the weather to die down as we also pray for peace if the storm should occur.

 All info gathered from

If disaster is imminent - how do you prepare?

If you hear that a severe storm or another type of natural disaster is headed your way, there are precautions you can take to help your family and your business be prepared.
If you are ordered to evacuate, do so. If you are not being evacuated, use your time wisely to make preparations designed to keep everyone safe during the event.

Here is what you need to do:

Communicate where you will be.
Contact someone outside the affected area to tell them where you will be for the duration of the storm. Business owners should remind employees of your
continuity plans, including information on how they will know if your facility is open for business once the storm has passed.
Learn how to shut off all utilities.
It is always a good idea to know how to turn off the gas, electricity and water in your home or place of business.

Learn the warning signs and alert signals for your area.
Stay tuned to your local television or radio station for disaster-related information.

Collect emergency building materials.
Depending on the type of disaster, you may want to consider having emergency materials on hand, such as plywood, sandbags and waterproof tarps.

Secure all outdoor objects or move them inside.
Grills, patio furniture and flowerpots are common household items that can become airborne in high winds. Do not use grills inside or store propane tanks inside the house or garage. Business owners should also remember to secure outdoor signage, benches and equipment to minimize potential damage.

Keep your car fueled up.
If you have an emergency generator, keep that fueled up as well, and always have spare fuel on hand that is stored in an approved container in a safe location.

Be sure you have car chargers for your cell phone, smart phone and other portable devices.
Having car chargers available can assist you in staying in communication if your electricity goes out.

Create a survival kit that will sustain you if disaster strikes

In creating a survival kit, think about what you would need if you were stranded away from home for three to seven days. Prepare your kit well in advance so that if you have to evacuate quickly you are able to take your essentials with you.

It should include at a minimum:

Canned food and other nonperishable food, along with a non-electric can opener
Enough water for a gallon of water per person, per day
Toiletries and personal items
Flashlights and plenty of batteries
A portable radio and/or television
Prescription medications
Extra clothing and blankets
A first-aid kit
Emergency cash and credit cards
A copy of your Travelers insurance policy
A copy of an inventory of your home's contents
Other personal documents

Store data electronically:

Important personal documents can help you reestablish your life after a disaster.
Consider storing digital copies of the following on a password-protected flash drive:

Wills, trusts, deeds and birth certificates
Account numbers
Personal and family records, copies of licenses including medical records

Legal and financial documents
Inventory of your home's contents

Photographs of your home and your belongings

     Again, this is not to create fear or panic but to be aware and ready for the future just as Noah planned even before he saw the rain. We can see this as beneficial again in Proverbs 31:27 says, "She watches over the affairs of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness." So let's be watchful and hardworking today and trust the Lord to take care of any and every storm we may encounter.

Balancing Ministry and Family

One of the key questions from people who are leading while raising a family is how to balance it all. Here are some thoughts from my heart on how the Lord has allowed us to function with fun and grace!

Friday, December 2, 2016

More Stuff!

     "What do you want for Christmas?" the Santa routinely 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!!!!" 

     Well, I didn't say it out loud, 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 six children, 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 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 overwhelmed 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 separate it yet into those resale/giveaway/trash piles. Just get a box and throw everything you can get rid of in there. Think in terms of clothes, toys, decor, books, DVDs etc. Then take it to Goodwill or save if you have time to sell or share things after the season. 

As you gather each item, you will feel a wave of holly jolly come over you, I guarantee. I typically have each of our children gather ten legitimate things (not their sibling's items or a small piece of a broken toy) to share. For us, that is 60 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. Just because they are growing up doesn't mean that the gifts are more and more. Some things may be more and some may be less. It can be a trap for them to compare from previous years or even with siblings who gets what and how much is it. 

This talk may even need to happen a couple of times as they grow in this new way of thinking. Therefore, 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? Just because you received a lot last year doesn't mean it will be the same this year or even bigger and better. But you will be blessed not only by Christmas morning but by the events and other festivities throughout the month! We will enjoy this all to the fullest when we have the right heart of gratitude. Who is ready to start?!" 

3. Choose a family project to bless others. Most families spend time asking, "What do you want for Christmas?" However, one of the questions we emphasize in our home is "What should we do to bless someone else this year?" This question will get everyone thinking outside of themselves. We gather around and chat to hear what is on everyone's heart. Then we choose several smaller giving projects if everyone is asking for something different or we do one big giving project if we feel there is a more pressing larger need. This time will settle in your children's hearts as more and more meaningful through the years. 

       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 chaos 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.

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