For The Love of Jen Hatmaker & Giveaway

For The Love Giveaway

Back in March I was selected to be part of Jen Hatmaker’s launch team for her new book For The Love: Fighting for Grace in a World of Impossible Standards. I had never been on a launch team before and had no idea what to expect. I didn’t really care because, hello, Jen Hatmaker.

As one of the fortunate 500 members of the launch team I received an advanced copy of the book (including a PDF), the opportunity to write an endorsement for consideration of being published in the book and I have been privy to a closed Facebook group. From the moment I joined the group I knew I was part of something so much bigger than promoting a book.

When all of the giddy, Jen Hatmaker Kool-Aid drinking, we are not worthy type post died down and we started to read the book a tribe was formed. Real talk began to happen. We even agreed to disagree on certain issues without your typical drama created by strong opinions, insecurities, and what not. We shared our authentic selves, prayer request, personal struggles and achievements. We discussed everything from online dating, Gilmore Girls, Friday Night Lights, Tragic losses, and Jesus. We cried, laughed and solved the world problems one Facebook post at a time.

I am honored and humbled to have my name listed alongside theirs in the back of the actual book. I am even more thrilled to get to meet so  many of my new friends in real life at the official For The Love Launch Team Party next month in Austin at The Hatmaker’s Home.  WHAT!?

In the introduction Jen writes, “I’m hoping to help lead a tribe that does more healing and less hurting.” Mission Accomplished!

If you are wondering if this book is for you, here is what Jen has to say:

For the Love: Fighting for Grace in a World of Impossible Standards is officially available today. I have read this book several times. There are a plethora of highlight worthy passages.  I can not recommend this book enough. Here’s why:

For The Love Review

Get yourself a copy and come back and join in on the conversation every week as I blog my way through the book. Details coming soon…

In celebration of the book being released I am giving away TWO copies of the book. Enter below



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Bucked Off My High Horse

first day 15

The dust has settled and reality has kicked in. I find myself in a state of panic asking myself, “What in the world did we just do?” Did we really just flip our lifestyle upside down because I felt led by the Holy Spirit? Yes. Yes we did.

Ironically when I thought I was humbling myself I was actually doing the opposite. Somewhere along the way my fear was replaced with arrogance. Our calling to be Jesus to a community made me feel all high and mighty.

We moved into a community with the stereotypical statistics that equate to desperate need. While I am certain we were called to move we haven’t been led to do anything else, yet. We are in a place where I should remain unsettled but still. Our next step should be prayerfully considered and led by the Holy Spirit like before.

However, I am me and we are here. The people need us. I mean how did they survive before we moved our privileged little family into the neighborhood and repeatedly lamented over voluntarily putting our kids into their less than sub par school?

My superiority complex started the second we decided to move. I separated us from them from the get go and I didn’t even realize it. I “prepared” the kids by naming everything the community lacked and a hoorah, pat yourself on the back Cisneros family we are going to serve them.

When I registered the kids for school I “humbly’ denied the free lunch form because we don’t qualify. I made sure they knew what school the kids were transferring from and the area we actually live in. Who am I?

I denied the free uniform services and instead decided to donate the three shirts that didn’t fit my son in the name of serving when in reality I was too lazy to return them. I was all smug with donations in hand when we arrived at Meet The Teacher.

We found the corresponding teacher for each of the kids on a board outside and headed out to explore the campus. There was a line wrapped around the outside of the school office. As a natural-born busy body I went to read the sign at the beginning of the line. It said, “Free Uniforms.”

I looked at the line again and choked back tears. It was a 102 degrees of hot that day. I handed my shirts to a lady directing the line and she was caught off guard by our generous donation of three shirts. Like legit thankful. My son whispered, “All of these people need uniforms?” I looked him in the eyes and shook my head yes without saying a word.

I’m in awe of this whole process. The strength, courage, pride in self and ability to do whatever it takes to make sure your kid gets an education demonstrated over these last few days have bucked me right off my high horse. I still don’t know why we are here. Perhaps we are in training and our community is showing us what it means to show Jesus to others because they are the ones serving us.

This morning was the first day of school. I walked on the school campus and saw a plethora of kids running around in their neatly pressed uniforms and stylishly combed hair. The bell rang and my kids blended in. I walked off campus next to the other moms in solidarity with tears in our eyes. There was no us and them. We were one.

High School, A New Chapter

karisa O

Today I drove my daughter, Karisa, to her much-anticipated high school freshman orientation. The date has been marked on our calendar for a month. Several text messages have been sent back and forth between friends coming up with a time and place to meet. Meanwhile, I have held my breath and prayed for the days to slow down.

With all the changes happening in our life, Mr. C and I decided we would allow Karisa to remain at the high school in our old neighborhood to be with her friends. It would be cruel to pluck the girl away from the friends it took her years, years to make and move her schools when we didn’t have to. It’s the whole parent to your individual child thing. The other two make friends easily and will have each other at their new school, but I digress…

I pulled into the school and said goodbye to my baby girl. I watched as she walked toward the heard of other soon-to-be freshman. If she was nervous she hid it well.

I on the other hand cried all the way home as I replayed her short little life in mind.

My girl spent five years in speech therapy. She worked her butt off to get the words out the way she mastered so easily on paper.

She went through several groups of friends until she finally found her tribe. Girls who are not in a hurry to grow up, support each other individually (band, sports, church) and let’s be honest, are a bit nerdy. You know the kind of friends this momma wants her daughter to have as she embarks on a new adventure.

Although she lives in her own world, with her nose in a book, she has stretched herself socially, academically and spiritually this past year. I have enjoyed watching her fumble her way through life trying to figure out who she is.

You and I know things are about to become more confusing with the natural challenges of being a teenager. However, today I want to just take a minute to give praise for all of the “on my knees prayers” I have prayed during elementary and junior high. When I do that, my current fears of what is to come is muted by the gift of God’s faithfulness and perfect timing of those answered prayed.

A new chapter of our life is starting. It’s called high school.

Regenerating in Palm Springs

Palm Springs 15

We arrived in Palm Springs for the fourth year in a row yesterday afternoon. I guess it’s safe to call it our annual Summer Vacation. The night before we left my brother asked, ‘What’s in Palm Springs?” I simply said, “Rest.”

This week our family escapes from the hustle and bustle of life. It is our last hoorah before school starts and the insanity of juggling five different schedules begins. We take this time to regenerate as a family, husband and wife, brother and sister and as individuals.

While it’s true we are on vacation, I am still responsible for working my part-time job, have a Bible study to prep for, three launch teams to participate in and the everyday responsibilities of being a wife and mom. Okay, okay and a social media addiction I am trying to curb! Because of that I have to be intentional about finding time to rest.

Here is what regenerating looks like for me:

1.) Spending Time With God: We have two separate patios, one with a fireplace and both with a gorgeous view of God’s creation. Every morning I pull my butt out of bed before the kids grab my Bible, coffee and sit on the patio. I read, pray and sit still.

2.) Update Kids Prayer Journal: Every year I start a new journal for each of the kids. I pray specifically for them as individual and the challenges (mostly my own fears) for the upcoming school year. However, before I start I make time to reflect on the previous years journal. It allows me to sit in awe and praise God for his faithfulness. It  also gives me peace knowing my kids are covered in prayer as the begin a new journey. This is especially needed this year.

3.) Spend Quality Family Time: We spend an absurd amount of time as a family watching movies, playing board games, cooking, laughing, swimming, going on adventures, etc. During the week I look for opportunities to spend a few minutes alone with each kid. It may be a trip to the fitness center, a walk around the property, a run to the store. They always happen organically. Mr. C and I also make it a priority to spend time alone. Even if we have to lock the kids inside the condo while sit outside on the patio, blinds open so we can spy on them.

4.) Read: As if I would go anywhere without a plethora of books on hand. I could not imaging life without my nose in a book. The same is true on vacation. I try to add a few light and fun books to break up my usual non-fiction obsession.

5.) Unclench: My default setting is high-strung, rule following, do everything my way, control freak, type-A, buzz kill momma! Mr. C is the complete opposite. True story. I do my best to relax and let it go. I know I set the mood for our family. I want my kids to reflect on our time on vacation as a time of laughter and fun not walking on egg shells.

…and that’s all the time I have for today. I hope to be able to check in a few more times this week. If I don’t know it’s because this is happening…

Palm Springs 15 1

How do you regenerate for the new school year?

Education: On Second Thought

JH Quote

Our family loves to watch home renovation shows. Our favorite show is Fixer Upper. I love that show so much visiting Magnolia has been added to my bucket list but I digress. Without fail, no matter the show, if there is a family searching for a home their main requirement is to be in a great school district. It used to define where we would live too.

When my kids were babies I knew that education would be an absolute priority. I was the mom who read them all the books and only bought educational toys. I even created my own curriculum and played school at home. I was certain our kids would go to a private academic based school.

When it came time for our kids to start school we followed our conviction to send them to a public school. We were new in our faith and a bit self-righteous about following the guiding of the Holy Spirit. The truth is it really wasn’t a sacrifice to send our kids to one of the best academic schools in the city.

Only recently have the words great school district spoken on those shows been magnified. They are causing me to pause and think about this new journey our family is on. One of the biggest changes, aside from our address, is the school our children will attend this school year.

My husband and I have prayed our little hearts out about this upcoming school year and we are at peace with our decision. However, I have many thoughts of blatant disobedience.

This time around there is nothing self-righteous about our choice to send our kids to a 1 out of 10 rated school. Just writing that causes tears to stream my face. I’m scared.

It goes against everything this world tells us is important. We are supposed to send our kids to the best schools in order for them to receive the best education so they can go to the best university. Isn’t that the only way to be successful?

There are a plethora of stories of families who go to extremes to send their kids to better schools. It’s absolutely absurd for a family with means and choice to intentionally enroll their kids in a failing school. My flesh completely agrees.

I’m bombarded with self-imposed questions that keep me up at night. What effect will this school have on my kids? What am I doing to them? Will they be deprived academically? Will their behavior be impacted? What will they be exposed to? Am I failing as a mom?

If this was a handwritten post it would be completely tear-stained. My fears and questions are abundant and selfish.

When I stop for just one second and think about the families who don’t have the means or choice I start asking different questions. Why do we allow schools to operate at a 1 rating? How do we provide the same education to poorer areas? When did our culture make education the be all and end all? Is living in a bubble really living? Am I failing as a mom?

When I start asking myself the second set of questions a fire gets lit inside of me and my fear subsides. I’m really starting to get irked by the ease we have at naming all of the sub par schools and neighborhoods and yet there is never any talk about making them better. Our only solution is to avoid them. How crappy is that?

And so we walked into our new neighborhood school and enrolled our kids. My heart felt like it was going to leap out of my chest. When I told the receptionist what school we are transferring from she said, “That’s the school we send our grandkids to.” Even the employees send their grandkids to a different school, for the love!

Please hear this. I am not advocating for you to join me in enrolling your kids into low rated schools. We are simply sending our kids to the school within our boundary. You and I are called to lead different lives and that’s okay. This happens to be the journey we are on.

I believe that at the end of the school year it will be our family who is blessed by the choice we have made. Maybe our kids will not receive a top rated education, maybe they will. Maybe, just maybe what they gain is an understanding in how to simply love. That, my friends, trumps what any school book could every teach them.

Happy Happy 8th Birthday Kailey

Kailey 8 1

Happy Birthday to our baby girl Kailey. She turned EIGHT years old yesterday.

There is something about the baby of the family getting older that begs you to slow down and enjoy every single second of their childhood memories.

With that in mind, I didn’t consult Pinterest like I had grown accustomed to doing. Instead, I channeled my own childhood for inspiration. Why? Because to this day recalling our birthday celebrations bring so much joy to my soul.

We were always made to feel loved and special. As I filter my childhood memories with reality I realized as an adult the actual simplicity of the day.

Yesterday my daughter woke to a table simply decorated with a birthday day banner, pink plates and a walkway of pink human blown balloons. We had a birthday breakfast feast before Mr. C left to work. At the birthday girls request I served a French toast bake, bacon and strawberries. She joyfully opened her gifts and was beyond delighted to discover the items from her list. A humble list requesting Kinetic Sand, a Wet Brush and red lipstick (for dress-up).

kailey 8 2

She spent the afternoon shopping with grandma, soaking up every minute of alone time. Then came home and played hula-hoop and jump rope with her siblings as I sat on our porch and watched. It was a wonderful moment in time captured only because of our thirst to for a slower paced life.

Kailey 8

We ended the day feasting on Nachos, her favorite, followed by singing Happy Birthday and eating a homemade cake.

That night we cuddled on the sofa and I whispered so many words of affirmation in her ear you could feel her heart swell. She squeezed my hand and kissed my cheek causing me to choke back my tears. In all my attempts to be the perfect mom who gives their child the perfect party as a way to show my love I always felt like I didn’t measure up. Like I failed.

I recently started striving toward allowing myself to be the mom I was made to be. With that frame of mind the simplicity of the day refreshed my soul causing an abundance of love and a contentment in my mothering that I confess is rare.

I know the tradition is to give presents to the birthday girl but yesterday I received the greatest gift of all, motherhood the way it was intended to be.

Happy Happy Birthday Sweet Kailey.

Six months from today…

Six months from today I will celebrate my 40th birthday.

To be honest I haven’t given this milestone much thought until today. For some reason turning 39 ½ has given me all the feels. Not in a bad or good way. It’s more of a “holy crap what in the world does turning 40 mean?” kind of way.

I feel like I should be working on accomplishing some sort of countdown checklist. You know like a 40 before 40 type thing or whatever the cool kids are doing. That’s just not my jam at the moment.

Perhaps the benefit of getting older is a sense of contentment. Don’t get me wrong I still have goals and what not but they don’t have anything to do with turning a year older.

I’m at a place where I am striving to be healthier in the following areas:

Spiritually: I want to continue grow a deeper relationship with Christ. I want a more meaningful prayer life. I want to dig deeper into His word and learn what it really means to not merely listen to the words but to do what they say. I want to grow courage and wisdom as a Bible study teacher.

Relationally: I want to be a better wife, mom, sister and friend. I’ve been working on getting rid of trying to be perfect and instead being available and real. I’m also working on ungluing my cell phone from my hand…

Physically: I weighed in this morning at 154.6 pounds!!! I. Can’t. Even. I took a before picture but I’m not brave enough to share it. I’ll keep it as motivation and maybe, hopefully post it next to an after pic. I want to lose 29.6 pounds but more importantly I want to develop a healthier all around lifestyle.

Emotionally/Mentally: I suffer from legit depression and PTSD. And by legit I mean the words Mental Illness: Depression/PTSD are written in bold letters on my health care policy. I’m working on speaking out, asking for help and taking meds when necessary. More importantly I am working on being kinder to Mr. C. He doesn’t understand how someone can be completely happy and still be depressed. He tries so hard to make me happy even though he knows losing battle when my depression hits. We fail to properly communicate this battle to each other but we are working on getting better at it. His love for me is beyond my understanding.

Six months from today I don’t want to look back at this post and say check. Instead I want to be able to see progress and appreciate the process. I want to welcome 40 a healthier version of who I am today.

Who do you want to be six months from today?

ABCs of Me

My time to write any post for this little blog of mine has been diminished by packing. Moving is no joke, YO! My brain is no longer functional. So, I am totally and unashamedly stealing this fun idea from Jana over at JanaSays. It’s cool. We’re friends… and she “borrowed” the idea too so there.

A- Age: 39. That means I will be 40 in 198, not that I’m counting or anything!

B- Biggest Fear: Leaving my children motherless before they grow up.

C- Current Time: 9:39 p.m.

DDrink you last had: Water. It’s 109 degrees hot outside and we are moving. Water is a must.

E- Easiest Person To Talk to: Mr. C and my brother and sisters because they get me.

F– Favorite Song: That’s like asking me who my favorite child is so I will go with whatever song on the radio I let play is my Jam.

G– Grossest Memory: Let me start by saying being a mom has supplied me with endless amounts of gross. The grossest has been having two sick toddlers cradled in my arms. One puked all down my back and chest as the other exploded with crap in my arms and all over my lap. I didn’t even move. I just sat there until they were done and cried. Oddly enough it was in that moment that I felt like a “real” mom.

H- Hometown: South Phoenix, Arizona.

I- In love with: Mr. C. Yesterday I found a box of letters and cards he gave me during the first few years of our relationship/marriage. We had some trying times but somehow someway he has stayed true to his words and his promises. He’s my lobster!

J- Jealous of: Morning people. Even if I get up early I’m not remotely functionally until mid morning.

K- Killed Someone: A billion times in my head, never in real life.

L- Longest Relationship: 15 years and counting with Mr. C.

M- Middle Name: Um- technically my middle name was my mother’s maiden name but when I married I changed it to my maiden name and I will not reveal either for safety and all that jazz.

N- Number of Siblings: 2 sisters, 2 brothers….and 2 half brothers and 1 half-sister.

O- One Wish: To visit every single MLB ball park… and for World Peace.

P- Person who you last called: Mr. C.

Q- Question you’re always asked: What do you do all day? I’m a SAHM so obviously I watch TV and eat bonbons all day!

R- Reason to live: to fulfill my purpose…

S- Song you last sang: The Humpty Dance because I was watching Step Up 2 and it came on. Mr. C and I sang it word for word because we cool like that!

T– Time you woke up: 9:30a.m. See letter J…and it’s Summer break.

U– Underwear Color: Hot Pink. Don’t judge everything is packed.

V- Vacation Destination: We go to Palm Springs, CA every year at the end of July.

W– Worst Habit: Self doubt!

X- X-rays you’ve had: 2 CAT scans, a chest x-ray, dental x-rays and a billion ultra sounds.

Y- Your favorite food: Food? Yes, please! Mexican. Cheese. Bread – even better.

Z- Zodiac Sign: Capricorn

…next time won’t you sing with me?

Life Interrupted

New House

Short Story: Surprise! The Cisneros Family is moving. We are actually in possession of the keys to our new home as I type this and are in the process of transferring whatever possessions survived an epic purge from this house to our new home. Good times!

Long Story: Grab some popcorn and settle in friends. I have been trying to put into words how this move came about since we put in our application to move on June 5th but the story just keeps getting longer.

The fact of the matter is in retrospect I can clearly see God pruning my heart and preparing our family for this adventure. I became a Bible study teacher for the first time last August. I don’t believe it is a coincidence the studies I have taught thus far (Beth Moore: Children of the Day, Priscilla Shirer Jonah and Breathe) have required me to process the ideas of mobilized ministry, pursuing my personal Nineveh and adding the margin in our life necessary to not only observe a Sabbath but to head the call on our life.

In addition to the studies, I was chosen to be on the launch team for Jen Hatmaker’s upcoming book For the Love being released on August 18th. I encourage you to pre-order it now. It is life changing, as you will soon see.

I have highlighted so much truth from this book but not one single statement sums up the stirring in my heart it caused. It was the collective message of grace, hope, love, standing firm, using our gifts, knowing truth, raising kids, being a neighbor and for the love, laughter. The stirring was accelerated by the private face book group consisting of the 500 members of the launch team.

This group lives out the message of For The Love on a daily basis. I have never been a part of an online community that is as authentic as this one but more importantly accepting through love. Opposing ideas and views have been shared and discussed in such a civilized way it makes my heart yearn for this kind of world. We may have all drank the Jen Hatmaker Kool-Aid but the flavors vary!

I then went out and bought Interrupted also by Jen Hatmaker. I was sitting in the softball stands as usual reading the book and watching my daughter play. It’s a gift only an experienced baseball mom could pull off!! Tears started to run down my face. Let me back up. I have a tendency to always cry. Sometimes I look at my kids and I just burst out into tears because they look older, showed character, smiled at me or just because.I’m an emotional wreck, whatever.  It happens all the time so tears streaming my face in the stands is normal. What wasn’t normal was the words on the page and the scene playing out in front of me intersecting so perfectly the it was causing an uncontrollable tidal wave of tears and the convulsing of my body.

My daughter was playing in a less than affluent neighborhood. The team she was playing against had so much potential but it was clear this may be the first year they picked up a ball, whereas the girls on our team have been playing for eight years (since they were five). Why? Because the opportunity is available and the high cost is afforded in our neighborhood. That is not the case in the area she was playing in.

I remembered this feeling from when my daughter was playing Junior High ball against other areas of our city. It was the same thing. Our girls would dominate because it was clear the opposing team may have just recently started playing and they were using school issued gear. It is a contrast to the tee ball kids showing up with hundreds of dollars worth of gear they will out grow in less than a year in our league. No joke!

I went home that night and prayed through tears. I didn’t even know what I was praying about but I knew I was being convicted about something. I clearly heard the Holy Spirit whisper, “Stay unsettled, keep your eyes open and wait.”

I continued to pray for clearer answers because at this point I was just so confused. I wanted to serve, be a neighbor, be a better steward of not just our money but our gifts and talents. I wanted to stop blessing the blessed! At the same time I knew that the Holy Spirit would never contradict the Word of God. Never. So I prayed that whatever was happening would be made clear by Mr. C and I being on the same page. I couldn’t go and do this calling without Mr. C.

I shared my feelings with Mr. C and we started to have some great conversations. We were not always in agreement but we talked in great depth while sharing each others perspective. I still didn’t have any idea what was going on inside me.

Waiting is not exactly one of my qualities. I started to look at houses in the area I shed my tears and sent them to Mr. C. He started to drive me to look at said houses and the blithe of the neighborhood with a firm, “No.” Then right before we left on a five-day camping trip he sent me the picture of a house in the downtown area that neighbors my target area. As in we would share schools but be adjacent to the historic area and within walking distance to Main St. and the future light rail. However it was hundreds of dollars outside of our price range. A no-go even in our imaginary world.

We left on our camping trip and unplugged from the world. I spent my time praying and reading God’s word and begging for Him to lead us. All the while twice I told Mr. C I couldn’t get the house he sent me out of my head. I couldn’t. We just laughed. It’s a new build with modern upgrades and sure to go quick.

We bailed on our camping trip a day early.  It wasn’t even planned. Mr. C came back from fishing with the kids and asked how I felt about packing up and leaving.  I responded by packing everything up.  On our way home, Mr. C looked up the house on his phone. It was still available and they dropped the price to within our price range. We went to straight from camping to go look at  it. We all fell in love. Our family joined hands and prayed at the house for doors to be flung open or slammed shut because we are prone to impulses.

That night Mr. C had a heart to heart talk with the kids. He discussed what moving means including moving schools and sports. Our kids have built their own community here and have been steeply opposed to moving out of our boundaries in the past. All three of them were adamant about wanting to move and acknowledged the changes to come. Mr. C was beside himself.

He is a practical man and doesn’t make decisions lightly. He is a man of facts and reasons. A move didn’t make sense. We were comfortable living under the idea that we are supposed to give our kids a better life than we had. Our kids were in an excellent school district, with phenomenal sports programs in our area and in a safe neighborhood. We agreed to sleep on it.

The next day we went to visit the property again. We walked around the neighborhood and ate lunch at a local establishment. As it turns out Mr. C knew the family who owned the restaurant. We had a great conversation about the area and we felt like we were already home. We went back to the house and Mr. C wandered around alone and then we prayed, again. We went home and submitted our application.

On June 8th our application was accepted and we made a good faith payment. Since then we have been on a whirlwind adventure of purging (the new house is significantly smaller), packing, giving our 30 day notice and freaking out.

We have told very few people about our move but we have been bombarded with more questions than support. The biggest concern has been about our kids. Why?

Their Current School:
8 out of 10 Rating, an A+ school.
61% White Vs. State Average of 42%
22% Hispanic Vs. State Average of 43%
01% Black Vs. State Average of 5%
38% Participating in Free/Reduce School Lunch Vs. State Average of 47%

New School:
1 out of 10 Rating
03% White Vs. State Average of 42%
92% Hispanic Vs. State Average of 43%
02% Black Vs. State Average of 5%
97% Participating in Free/Reduce School Lunch Vs. State Average of 47%

I get it. Why would we give up the comfort of what the world is striving for? The only thing that comes to mind is Mark 8:36. “What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul?”

In full disclosure I have freaked out more times than I can count. I’m talking about grasping for a paper bag because I am either going to hyperventilate or puke type freak outs. I woke up one day crying because I was so scared and questioning my sanity. At one point I was completely okay with the idea of losing our $700 non-refundable good faith deposit because we could use the rest of the deposit money we had in savings for a fun Summer vacation. The struggle and Satan is real, YO!

Then I cried more because we have the privilege of walking away from $700 without it interfering with our lifestyle. The majority of the people in the community we are moving to do not have that choice. Most live where they live out of necessity. There is not an option to send their kids to fancy schools (we live in an open enrollment area so technically they could enroll them in another school but transportation would make it impossible for many reason) and the equivalent of a rent payment for competitive sports.

In the midst of my break down I read Wrecked by Jeff Goins and I thanked God for the extra support and validation this book gave me in this journey.  It is a phenomenal, transforming book.

Please hear this. This move is not some sort of pat on the back type of sacrifice our family is making for the greater good. I mean if anything we are gaining so many more perks than we have here. We are moving into a newer house in a sought after area. I will be within walking distance to three, THREE coffee shops and less than a mile away from great friends who we consider family. AND we are only moving 8 miles south of our house now, For.The.Love!

There are still so many unknowns. I still don’t know how/what/where serving will actually look like. All I know is we are moving and will have the benefit of becoming neighbors to a community in need.

I believe without a doubt this a God ordained journey led by the Holy Spirit. I mean so many unlikely little and big details had to fall exactly into place for this move to happen and they did in less than month!

I am filled with excitement and Holy fear as we start and share this new journey with you.

~Jenniemarie

 

In Defense of Dads

fathers day

I have spent my entire childhood defending dads. That happens when you are raised by a single father of five. I was the child who always raised their hand in class and said, “and dads too, right?” whenever someone with authority sang the praises of mothers.

It was a defense mechanism. The mention of the glorious wonders of mothers only caused me pain and hurt because it was a reminder that my mom left. She was not this super human who made us meals, comforted us when needed and did all the typical things that would cause others to remind us children that our moms deserve to be acknowledged. Nope, not even close. Instead of admitting that hurt I built walls and focused on the awesomeness of my dad, minus the whole alcoholism thing.

daddy of five

Sometime between my dad’s death and becoming a mom I stopped defending fatherhood and started to bask in the glory of being a mom. Wait. That sounds wrong. I still continued a healthy respect for the role of a father and selflessly encouraged it in our own home. I just stopped raising my hand and declaring it.

What I really meant was it felt good as a mom to relate to all the propaganda about how great moms are. Even if you didn’t watch the Olympics you saw the commercials right? I mean come on, I cried every time they aired. I am raising athletes and I could totally relate.

Moms are universally celebrated by the world. Anytime anyone succeeds in life the mom gets all the credit. It may be fair considering us moms are also the reason therapist exist but that’s not the point I am making.

What I am trying to do is raise my hand and ask, “What about the dads?” What are they chop liver? Did I just age myself with that question? Moving on.

Everything I am, I am because of my dad. It pains me to know that I did not fully appreciate his love and sacrifices until I was blessed with my own children. Children born after his death. We eat as a family nearly every night, spend the majority of our time as a family, our children are expected to treat others with respect and have a love for baseball that would make him proud all because he instilled these things in his own children.

The truth is as much as I would love to take all the credit for all the goodness of my children Mr. C plays a huge part in raising them. He is an amazing father who deserves to be celebrated. Mr. C is the leader of our family, spiritually and otherwise. It is he who will be held accountable for our family. He works his ass off everyday as the sole provider for our family. He endures the stress of balancing work and family time.

dads arms

He often leaves work and heads straight to whatever practice or game is going on. Our children squeal and run into his arms when they spot him walking up and the kid on the field flashes a huge smile because just being there matters. Because of this dinner gets served late but we still eat as a family and he listens to all the chatter about the rest of the day even though he hasn’t had a second to relax.

He is the kind of dad who paints his daughters nails, knows every girly hand cheer clapping game and plays them in public with his little girl. He is the kind of dad who makes the time to take his daughters and his sons on dates to spend one on one time with all four of them.

He is the kind of dad who clears the living room furniture to wrestle, practice grounders, play catch or have a Nerf gun war. He is the kind of dad who encourages, disciplines and loves. He is the kind of dad who knows because of his work schedule his time with his kids is limited. Therefore he makes it a point to be the one who tucks them in at night in order to make sure he is able to talk to them and prays for them before they go to sleep.

He is the kind of dad this momma is comforted in knowing he has set the bar high for the kind of man our daughters will seek in marriage and the kind of men our son’s will strive to be. He is not a perfect man but he is the best kind of man he knows how to be today.

My daddy and Mr. C are not the exception to the rule. I have had the privilege of being surrounded by great men . My grandfather’s raised my dad and aunt on his own after their mom died when they were teenagers. He allowed my dad and us five kids to live with him. He is the one who gave me strength to chase my dreams. My brother is an amazing father and I see so much of my dad in him. My brother-in-law has two beautiful girls who he makes his world.

Yet because of the bad rap of the overwhelming number of deadbeat dads their role gets minimized and uncelebrated. However, not every mom is the epitome of a Hallmark card and that doesn’t stop the world from celebrating us (rightfully so). So this Father’s Day my gift to dads everywhere is to celebrate you year round.

It’s time I start raising my hand again and saying, “and dads too, right?”

In the end when my children look back on their upbringing they will have memories of both a mom and a dad who were actively involved in shaping their legacy and not a two-minute highlight reel focused on the plight of just a mom because they will know it was because of their dad too.

On a side note: I  miss my daddy…