Bring On March

Breathe Bible study by Priscilla Shirer #SabbathMargin

Somehow I blinked and missed February all together. Ironically, I start facilitating a Bible study tomorrow with the whole premise of taking time to breathe, as in resting and observing a Sabbath. As always God’s timing is perfect because our calendar has very few blank spaces for March. The class starts tomorrow and I’m all sorts of scared excited. I’ve been told that’s the best kind, right?

Also going on in March…

Little League: My daughter {Karisa 13} is knee-deep practicing with a Juniors team. My son [Kaiden 11} is finishing up an 8 month stint on a traveling club team and has started practice for his first year playing Majors in Little League. Games have not even started yet. Opening Day happens at the end of the month. Translation: We live at the ball park.

J-O-B: In case you missed my little announcement I am a full-fledged part-time employee as of five months ago. It is the perfect work from home job. I literally never have to leave my house and work around my schedule. I was a little cocky in the beginning. I think I uttered the words, “I can’t believe they pay me this much money to do this!” Then business picked up and I am eating humble pie and trying to figure out a system so my part-time work doesn’t require my full-time attention.

Working Out: Let’s just say any physical activity that doesn’t require running to the fridge has been non-existent. I went for a run last night and I loved it so much I started planning my comeback. This always happens. I sit on my butt and plan out my next five races and then do nothing. For now my biggest goal is just to work-out without any goals. Of course it’s raining as I write this and the treadmill is a bit dusty and it’s lunch time so the jury is still out…

Spring Break: In two weeks the kids will be on Spring Break and my plan is not to plan. Just kidding. I haven’t thought that far out yet but I’m thinking sleeping in and being outside sounds good.

Parenting: Our older kids are at the age where life is challenging enough without mom blogging about it. I did manage to spit some new cool parenting knowledge to my son the other day. I told him I would always, always be on his side. Then I reminded him that sometimes being on his side requires discipline because being on his side means loving him so much I need to make sure he doesn’t grow up to be a punk. He then rolled his eyes and walked away. Trial and error is in full effect right now.

Marriage: Mr. C and I will be celebrating our twelve-year anniversary at the end of this month. I could not be more in love with my husband. We have a long overdue date night planned at the end of this month to celebrate.

MLB: Finally, this is my favorite time of year because baseball is back! We live smack dab in the middle of Cactus League Spring Training Mecca. I am hoping to get to as many games as possible. I love, love baseball. Like seriously love.

Eh- I guess I should also mention that for the first time in forever I feel like a normal human being. Depression can totally suck it. I wish I could tell you why or how but the truth is I don’t know. I am not currently on any medication but I started to take Vitamin D again last month. So there’s that.

With that I say bring on March. I’m ready!

Pursuing Nineveh

“The word of the Lord came to Jonah son of Amittai: “Go to the great city of Nineveh and preach against it, because its wickedness has come up before me.” But Jonah ran away from the Lord and headed for Tarshish.” ~ Jonah 1:1-3

I have had the privilege of facilitating Jonah by Priscilla Shirer for the last seven weeks. If this study is being offered near you I would highly recommend it. Priscilla has a way of sharing the word of God in such an engaging, relatable and convicting way.

This study goes beyond the change your heart, shake your head in agreement and then go on with life once you leave class. Instead of just teaching biblical truth we were given ways in which to apply them to life and then held accountable each week.

We know that Jonah was sent to Nineveh to preach against it but instead he ran. It is essentially the same calling Jesus gave to us when he said, “Go and make disciples of all men…” It is something we all know we are supposed to be doing but if we are honest more times than not we run too.

This particular study has caused me to search my soul. Better yet, it has caused me to ask God to search my soul and reveal to me my own Nineveh.

I was prepared to be set in motion to serve a particular people group (homeless, youth, single mothers, military, etc.) or, gasp, a mission trip. Instead I was gut punched when it was made clear that at this point in time my Nineveh is my own family. Ugh.

Here is the thing. There are people in my immediate family who are not saved nor do they want nothing to do with me preaching about Jesus, or at least that is the vibe I get. I am having a difficult enough time just cultivating a “normal” relationship with them. My invitations to come over for family dinners or to get together go unanswered.

Let me pause right here and clarify that witnessing to others doesn’t translate into beating someone over the head with a Bible or threatening the fires of hell if they do not convert right there and then. It is simply our job to plant seeds and show love above all else. There are many ways in which this can be done. We need to figure that out for ourselves using our own God-given gifts, talents and personality.

Over the course of this study I came to conclusion that it is harder, for me, to be a disciple of Jesus to people I know than to strangers. I believe it is because I take it personal when the people I love disregard me and not so much when a stranger does. Make sense?

I wish I could say that I was all challenge accepted when I came to this revelation but I was not. I am still wrestling with bitterness, resentment and hurt that has been revealed to me because of this. I am not proud of these things but it has caused me to be dependant on God’s strength and courage.

When is the last time you asked God to reveal to you who your Nineveh is? Please do not confuse this question with our call to go and make disciples with the people we come in contact with in our everyday life. I am talking about a specific person or group of people who you are called to serve in the season in life you are in today.

My challenge for you today is to ask God to reveal to you who it is you are being called to serve right now in this season of your life and I will pray that you are obedient to that calling.

Hello There

I have been the driving force behind Another Housewife for nearly four years and started blogging a few years before that. That’s like a billion years considering the enormous amount of turn over in blogger land.

Throughout that time I have learned so much about myself as a person. The ever-changing direction of Another Housewife is a direct reflection of my journey. Part of that journey has been taking pause to consider if this is the path I wish to continue.

I continue to come to the same conclusion. For me, as a wife, mom, Bible study teacher, and part-time employee, blogging gives me the creative outlet that refreshes my soul. It allows me to use my God-given grammatically flawed gift of story telling

However, the length of my recent break had more to do with my frustration with a trend in the blogging world. I have a love-hate relationship with the influx of sponsored post.

Here is the thing. I am all for my fellow bloggers getting their hustle on. I truly am. I’m not even opposed to someday pulling it together enough to jump on board with limitations.

What irks me is the authenticity that used to come with blogging is being set aside and replaced with commercials. What is even more concerning are the post that claim to give the illusion of real life. You know the ones with strategically placed mess and bloggers who look perfectly not perfect.

I’m not even sure why my panties are all in a bunch about this but they are! I know this is not the case with all bloggers but it is a trend I see progressing. I am hoping that with the evolution of utilizing bloggers in win-win situations comes balance. That’s all.

What does that mean for Another Housewife? At this point in time, nothing.

My real problem is me. Last year I more than doubled the traffic to my blog without much effort, I had four articles published on BlogHer.com without any solicitation on my part and had more than a few offers for sponsored post I ignored.

I continue to be plagued by that nagging voice asking me, “What if you actually tried?” The truth is I struggle with self-worth and the fear of success. I am the walking definition of depression induced self sabotage!

It’s a vicious cycle but I refuse to give up.

I will continue to utilize my voice to be obedient to my desire to bring Glory to God. The only way I know how to do that is to be real, to be honest, to share my story and leave a legacy one memory at a time.

 

 

 

~Jenniemarie

New Year’s Resolution: Being a Better Version of Me

 

better version of me

I love how beginning a new year brings so much hope and enthusiasm. The new year allows us to renew our dedication to accomplishing goals, new and old. We make new years resolutions and a how to plan. We dust off the remnants of the previous year and move forward.

If you are anything like me, your resolutions are the same year after year in some form or another. Why? For me the reason is simple. I get caught up in the planning and not so much the doing.

I get frustrated when obstacles prevent me from accomplishing goals according to the plan. Instead of adjusting and moving forward, I go back to the drawing board and make another plan. I put so much effort into making contingency plans that may never happen I am to exhausted to take a step forward.

Sometime last year during a battle with depression and a pretty elaborate pity party I realized I needed to focus more on making progress rather than checking things off of my list. I let go of the perfect picture in my mind and accepted being done as success, no matter how I got there.

I still have big dreams and goals that require planning. However, I refuse to let them fall prey to the Resolution Graveyard. Instead I propose to continue on the path of progress.

This year it is my intention to start and end my day in prayer, refuse to let self-doubt or negative thinking wreck my day, count my blessings instead of deficits, praise our kids and discipline them without shaming them. I need to give my husband the affection he craves and make an attempt every. single. day. to show unconditional respect. I’m going to start as many projects as my heart desires and give myself permission to quit with dignity. I want to laugh more, cry when I feel like it and dance to the beat of my own drum. I shall do things that scare me, inconvenience me and grow my faith. I will celebrate my success and learn from my setbacks.

I resolve to improve my way of life in order to be a better version of me.

Do you have a New Year’s Resolution? 

 

 

Friday Five: Christmas Edition

Christmas Edition

Christmas 2014 is in the books. This season I have been plagued with a rough bout of depression. I sit here in complete awe because I shopped for every single gift in a twenty-four period, cleaned, cooked and hosted Christmas Eve dinner and pulled myself together long enough to be a part of our families traditions.

This morning I was met with a sense of relief. A peace that has escaped for some time. In honor of making the most of my good days I decided to share with you my five favorite Christmas moments:

Friday Five: Christmas Edition

Christmas 03

1.) Silent Night Church Service on Christmas Eve
This is hands down my favorite thing about every Christmas. Our family gathers to celebrate the real reason for the season, Jesus. Every year at the end of the Christmas service our church begins to sing Silent Night in complete darkness. It slowly becomes bright as day by candles lit one by one. It is the perfect reminder how God’s light shines even in the darkest of times and how fast that light can spread when we share it with others.

Christmas 02

2.) Christmas Eve Feast w/In Laws
After church we all gather at our house to eat Mexican food and open gifts from Grandma. This year was particularly special because our brother-in-law and his girls joined us for the first time in a long time. Knowing how much joy it brought my mother in law (a woman after God’s own heart and whom I adore) to have both of her boys and her grandchildren attend church and gather together.

Christmas 01

3.) Having All Four Kids Home
All four of our kids slept and woke under one roof. For mommas of young adult children you know how special and rare these moments are. We spent the day watching movies, playing games and eating, always eating.

Christmas 04

4.) Having Our Oldest Home
I know this may seem redundant but these are my favorite moments and I make my own rules! We were able to spend an entire twenty-four hours with him. It makes my mommy heart (especially as a step-mom) so full to see the bond between our kids. There is a fifteen year span between our oldest and our youngest. It was all I could do not to ugly cry when I looked over and saw our baby girl in our oldest child’s arms.

Christmas 05

5.) The Gift of Popcorn
I have an obsession with freshly popped, lightly salted and buttered popcorn. I can not get enough of the stuff. It was the only thing on my Christmas wish list. You know besides peace on Earth, a self-cleaning home and non bickering children of course!

Now it’s your turn. What are your five favorite Christmas moments? Or one? Or ten? Whatever…

Twenty-Three Years Ago Today

irene Twenty-three years ago today at roughly 10:23am my aunt, Irene, lost her two-year battle with Pancreatic Cancer. It’s really hard to believe that she has not been in my life for that long because I feel the impact she has made in my heart on a daily basis.

Several years ago, I wrote a couple of articles titled Remarkable Women for the Girlfriendit website. I couldn’t think of anyone more deserving of such a title than my Tia Irene. I think it is only fitting as we celebrate her memory I repost that updated article.

The first remarkable woman I am honored to write about is my aunt, Irene. She unselfishly committed her life to helping my dad raise us. She gave her time, money, and her unconditional love. She took us to museums, the theater, the mall, out to eat, fancy hair salons, movie theaters (I grew up in South Phoenix so these things did not exist in my community) and the most significant of all, church. We attended church from the very first Sunday we moved in with my dad (who at the time was living with my aunt-his sister and my grandfather-his dad) and every Sunday after.

I have to confess that our relationship was not easy. I was rebellious and would often remind her that she was not my mother. I was a mini replica of my mother, which caused great tension between us. Throughout the years and a few times of her going to bat on my side of the coin with my dad our relationship started to soften. After all when I had the choice of telling her or my dad that I started my period, I chose her!

In the eighth grade I was asked to apply for the Hispanic Mother Daughter Program. It was an ASU based program and I was determined to get any academic advantage available so instead of letting the fact that I didn’t have a mom derail me, I asked my aunt and she obliged. We were accepted into the program and met on a weekly basis. Each week was filled with self-esteem, leadership, mother/daughter bonding, academic, etc type classes. It was torture for me to see all of the mother/daughter relationships because I wished very much for my mom to return to our life. I kept a brave exterior and focused on the college prep aspects of the program. It was through this program that I learned so much about my aunt and her life. Our relationship started to really blossom. During one of the sessions she stood up and thanked me for asking her to be a part of this. I had seen it as a step forward academically, but she was truly touched and proud that I chose her.

As life would have it, our emerging relationship also marked the decline of her health. I remember her having to have a hysterectomy. At the time I did not know why or what the big deal was. She was in her late 30’s and never married and never had kids but she had always held out hope that her time was just around the corner. She had dedicated her life to help raise us, putting her life on hold. I remember her struggling with this decision and using me to convince herself it was okay. I became her new confidant. The hysterectomy was followed by several other surgeries, but the cause or reason was not yet revealed to us. I would go with her and sit at her bedside and read magazines. As the oldest of five kids it was a relief to get out of the house but she always thanked me so kindly for being there.

Finally, the explanation of all the hospital visits was revealed. All five of us kids were gathered in her bedroom to pray as a family, as we did every Sunday night, and she explained that she had Pancreatic Cancer and will begin radiation and chemo therapy that week. I remember her saying that she was ready to fight this disease but if it was God’s will for her to die she was ready. These words cause an uproar. My baby brother screamed as if she died right then and there. The rest of the kids were dumbfounded and didn’t really know what to do. Our mom had already abandoned us and now my aunt was saying she could possibly be leaving too. It was my first glimpse into the notion of God’s will and it wasn’t until recently on my own personally journey in discovering Christ that I was able to appreciate her faith and hope in God.

She battled Pancreatic Cancer for the next two years. She went on medical leave from work, lost all of hair and was sick a majority of the time. She was the kind of woman who had an outfit for every occasion with shoes, purse and accessories to match. Loosing her hair was the most difficult thing for her to deal with. She eventually just shaved it off and bought a wig. I watched her pray and I watched the women of our church gather and pray over her on a regular basis. When the time came for her to go back into the hospital, I stayed up and begged God to take me instead. It was very difficult to lose someone who shared so much of her love and even more difficult to watch my siblings experience such sorrow. On December 23 1991 God’s will was fulfilled, a couple of weeks before I turned 16.

In retrospect, I realize she was the first person to take a vested interest in me. She was the first person who believed I could be anything I set my mind to. What I failed to realize while she was alive was that she was also one of the few people to understand the misery of my life without a mom. She was 16 years old when her own mom lost a long battle with Tuberculosis and was raised by her dad and her brother. I spent all those years in that house convinced no one knew how I felt. She never once said the words, “I know how you feel.” Instead she used her actions to let me know I was not alone, even if it took several years after her death to realize it.

It has been twenty-three years since her death and I miss her more and more with each passing year. She is remarkable not only by earthly standards but she was the living example of Christ love.

There is NOT an Elf On Our Shelf

elf on the shelf My social media feeds are overflowing with pictures and stories of their elf. So much so that I started to wonder if I am the only one depriving my children of this creepy looking little fella. Should I add this to the topics of therapy they will be discussing in their future? I can just hear them saying “I can trace it back to us never having an Elf on the Shelf…”

Then I realized I can’t possibly be the only momma on this planet to shun this tradition. So I decided to write this post to let you other non Elf of the Shelf members know you are not alone. Although our reasoning may be completely different.

The truth is I only heard of Elf on the Shelf two years ago and this is the first year that I grasp the concept. I am not criticizing or judging those who welcome said Elf into their home. In fact I am in awe of their creativity and ability to remember to move the dang thing every night. I would fail on both accounts.

For our family, the elf would be one more thing distracting us from celebrating the real reason for the season. I don’t intend that to be a classic Jon Acuff Jesus Juke. What I am saying is every family is different and they must decide what is best for their family.

I know our kids would love, love to have an Elf on a Shelf and all of the shenanigans that would ensue. I also know that the elf would become the focus of the season (and I would be setting myself up for failure). Heck I had to add scripture reading to our Christmas Countdown because the countdown blocks were getting out of control. With our busy schedule I am having a hard enough time keeping up with our Christ centered traditions.

I’m not against the little guy. I know our family and I know me. So please don’t gasp in judgment when you find out our shelf is empty. My kids get to see Santa, the get to unwrap presents and they get to celebrate the reason for the season. I am okay with your elf and I am most certainly okay with not having one of my own.

Do you have an Elf of the Shelf?

 

A Christmas of Influence

‘Tis the season when we are bombarded with pleas to lend a helping a hand.  Those pleas often cue the opinions and rants of some who discredit or justify why they do not need to provide such help.  While it is true there are some that abuse certain systems, there are people who truly are in need.

We are called to be servants.  It is not our job to withhold help because it may go to someone who doesn’t meet our own criteria of need.  By all means do your due diligence and give to organizations who are creditable but don’t use the possibility of misuse as an excuse not to help if you are able.

If you ever wonder if your donation or act of service matters, let me be the first to reassure you it does.  The following is my own story of a time when our family found itself the benefactors of the kindness of strangers. You will notice that our basic needs were being provided for, which means we were better off than most of the families in need this season,but  that didn’t stop others from still making Christmas possible for a recently single father of five.

************* 

daddy of five

My favorite childhood Christmas memory stems from one of the most difficult transitions in my life. I am the oldest of five children and when I was seven years old my mom abandoned us. I remember my grandma driving us to my dads house and asking him, “Do you want them?” I dreaded the answer to that question but my dad, without hesitation, said “Yes!” I was relieved, scared, and ashamed, all wrapped in one emotion. We were left right there in the driveway with only the clothes on our back and the shoes on our feet.

Could you imagine the expense involved in providing just the bare necessities for five children? Two of which were in school and one still in diapers! Now add to that the cost of day care and groceries. Fortunately my aunt and grandfather, who my dad lived with at the time, provided the extra financial help he needed.

A mere three months later, Christmas was upon us. My dad already exhausted his resources and then some to provide us with the basics. Luckily for him my aunt loved Christmas and made it much more than getting gifts. She took us driving around to look at lights, we decorated the house and our very own Christmas tree. We even went to see Santa Clause!

Up until that point in my life, I thought Christmas was something that was celebrated by other people. I was cognitive of what it was and had heard about Santa Clause but my life was nothing short of turbulent up until that point.

On Christmas morning, my dad and aunt had to wake us up! We didn’t even think there could be more to the Christmas holiday. We were lined up youngest to oldest and walked into the living room. We could hear Christmas music playing courtesy of Alvin and The Chipmunks. As we entered the living room, we were shocked and squealed with delight. It was filled (corner to corner) with gifts. We had so much stuff we gave toys away to kids in the neighborhood!

That year those gifts made us true believers in Santa Clause. Little did we know that Santa Clause came in the form of very generous co-workers. My dad worked for a very large company and after hearing of his situation they jumped into action by collecting toys and clothes for us kids.

On the surface, it would seem obvious that this would be the best Christmas by the mere amount of gifts we received. However, when I think of the humanity and generosity of strangers it is still overwhelming to this day.

It has been nearly thirty years since that Christmas and I still remember turning the corner, seeing those gifts, and feeling, possibly for the first time, that I mattered enough to someone. Now, I know that someone was and always will be Jesus! We were indeed wanted.

Today it is because of the influence of those co-workers that I make it a point to give to others who are in need. There are so many ways to give a helping hand. You can give in the form of a prayer, your time, or a monetary contribution to worthy cause. You can adopt-a-family, pick a Christmas Angel, donate items to the homeless, send packages to our troops, invite others over to share a meal, or buy a single mom a gift just for her. The opportunities are endless.

1 Peter 4:10 says “Each of you should use what ever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in it’s various forms.” What gift have you been given? Your gift is waiting to make you someone’s Santa Clause! Who will you impact today that in thirty years your influence is still felt. Maybe, just maybe, with your gift, they will be unwrapping Jesus!

The Silent Days of December

I have been contemplating several blog post ideas for the month of December but this thing called life just keeps trumping any time I have had to sit and write. In fact the amount of life that has been happening around here lately could generate enough material to fill a bloggers posting schedule. You know if I was the kind of blogger who was equipped and willing to write about such things but I am not. So here I sit rambling.

My heart is currently in a vulnerable state. The more time I spend scrolling images and reading post on the seemingly perfect little life of the world at large the more I feel inadequate. Let me just be clear I know it is all in my head. I know that it is me. I also know all about the highlight reel effect. I am fully aware it is me not the amazing people I follow and have come to love. Yet, I still fall victim to the comparison trap.

There are things that I want to talk about but December just doesn’t seem like the time and place. I feel like the plethora of Elf on Shelf, Gift List, Advent, Recipes and Christmas Décor post would overshadow anything off topic. For now I will table post on becoming a mentor mom, life as a baseball mom, raising individuals, book reviews, childhood hunger or a good old fashion rant on the misconception of depression until the new year.

So what’s a girl to do in December? Well, I am giving myself permission to just be. I am relinquishing any self-imposed pressure to keep up. I will focus on making memories with my family while looking for opportunities to serve others. I don’t want to check things off a list that dictate what makes me a good mother. I don’t want to survive the Christmas season I want to be fully engaged in it. I don’t want to write a blog post in my head about how to make gingerbread houses or how to balance Jesus and Santa with your kids while simultaneously trying to be in the moment.

I want to refresh and recharge. I want to be still. I need to focus on what is best for me and my family. Therefore I have decided the blog will go silent with occasional recycled post appropriate for the season.

Jenniemarie

Happy 13th Birthday Karisa

baby karisa

Thirteen years ago today I gave birth to a six pound, thirteen ounce absolutely perfect baby girl. We named her Karisa and she calls me mommy. Today is the day she officially becomes a teenager.

I am not emotionally equipped at this time to justly write an obligatory post in her honor. I am completely overwhelmed knowing that I have raised a child, a girl no less, for thirteen years. She is truly everything I never knew I wanted needed.

I am completely humbled by the fact God has chosen me to be her mother. Me. The motherless, broken child who has fought everyday to give her as normal a life as possible.

I am not prepared for the teen years. I barely survived them myself. My heart breaks for her inevitable tangle with hormones and disappointment that notoriously wreak havoc on the years ahead of her. I won’t even mention the fact the number of years before she goes away to college can be counted on one hand. Nope. I’m not even going to go there.Then again I wasn’t prepared for the first thirteen years and she has turned out alright.

I have watched her take her first steps, say her first words, sent her away to school for the first time, watched as she worked furiously to overcome a speech impediment, held her as she recovered from illnesses, rushed her to the emergency room when we learned the hard way she is allergic to sulfa, enrolled her in every extra curricular activity until she found her nitch, developed bleacher butt watching her play ball, celebrated academic success, instilled in her a love of books and Jesus, sent her off to camp, baptized her, disciplined her and loved her unconditionally. I am in complete awe of the young lady she is becoming.

Karisa 13

At thirteen years old she is a brace faced, coffee/tea drinking, softball playing, too smart for her own good, independent but naive child of God.

I am blessed to be able to watch in awe as she shines like a star in the universe, spreading her wings and searching for her place in this world.

~Happy 13th Birthday Karisa ~