My 9 year old is 19!!!

Y’all, why do our daughters grow up so fast?!?

I feel like when I was 9, I was enjoying being 9. But my 9 year old is acting like she’s 19. She wants a phone. She wants snap chat. She has a crush. She’s ready to start driving. She’s acting too grown. WHAT DO I DO?!!??!?

I dropped her off at camp today for the 3rd year. Which means, I starting dropping her off at camp when she was 7. Just her and her best friend. No church group. No chaperone {that I know}. Just her and her friend. And she loves it. She would stay all summer if I let her! Thankfully she DID kiss me goodbye today. When the day comes that I don’t get a kiss, I may just check in to Whitfield.

Abby and I butt heads A.LOT. I correct her behavior. A. LOT. I get on to her. A. LOT. I’m just so afraid that she’ll become a “mean girl.” Because y’all….girls are mean! And I’m determined to force Abby to be a “non mean girl.” But the more I think about it, the more I realize that she is so much like me. And the behavior that I see as negative is actually the personality that God has given her. That doesn’t mean that I don’t need to correct bad behavior….but it does mean that I need to stop suppressing the character traits that God has blessed her with. Trying to find that line is the hard part.

So, tonight I end this blog with a sigh. A sigh because:

*I miss my baby. Monday seems like an eternity from now.

*I don’t know how to parent a 9 year old. Much less a 19 year old.

*I need help. I need a mentor to come into my life and tell me that it’s all going to be fine.

*I’m just a mom that is striving daily to get it right. Or just get something right!

Goodnight, friends!

 

How do you feel?

How do you feel tonight? As you recap your day, how do you feel? Do you feel exhausted? Like a failure? Like a rockstar? Do you feel worried? Fearful? Excited? Hopeful? Do you feel thankful? Blessed? In need of grace? In need of a drink?

At the end of each day, my feelings start overwhelming me. Some nights, I give myself a high five because of the super awesome things I did that day. But most nights, I pour myself a glass of wine and tuck my head under the covers.

But I heard something the other day that has stuck with me…..”Don’t let your feelings overwhelm your faith.” Wow. Wow. Wow.

Most days I feel like I’ve failed more than I’ve succeeded. I start each day with good intentions. Actually, great intentions. But they turn into complete frustrated failures. Today I gave both kids a big(moving) box and told them to make something out of it. At first, they were both SO excited. But after 5 minutes, their excitement turned into frustration. And their frustration made me irritable. And my irritableness then turned the tone of the home into absolute chaos. And the chaos made me want to run for the hills! Like, why did I even suggest this? Just get your iPads and go to your rooms!!!! UGH!!!

But of course, my quiet time this morning was about this very thing. “How Many Times Do I Have To Tell You?” It was talking about parents disciplining their children. I mean, how many times do we have to tell our kids that “so and so” is not acceptable? And to stop doing “so and so.” But really….how many times does God tell us that very same thing? Tonya, stop arguing with me and just do what I’ve asked. Tonya, just clean up that mess like I’ve asked you to. Tonya, stop talking back to me. Tonya, get off your {electronic device} and find something more meaningful to do. Wow. Ok, God, I get it.

So many times my feelings take precedence over my faith. I know what God wants from me. What He thinks of me. But my feelings tell me different. My feelings say: You’ve failed. You’re too far gone. You’re kids are past the age of impression. They’re a lost cause, because you haven’t been good enough.

But my faith says: God is good. He fills in the gaps that I create. His mercy is new every morning. His grace is sufficient. His love is unconditional.

My feelings don’t define me. My faith is in who God is. Not in who I am. I have to constantly remind myself of that. I have feelings, yes. But I also have faith. And my faith is in Christ alone. That He can fill in the missing puzzle pieces, and that He can set the tone of this home when I’m ready to call it quits. Thank you, Lord, for your mercy and grace. I need it today and every day.

Goodnight, friends!

Where’s your stone?

“….Let any of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone…” John 8:7

So, I polled a couple of people and asked what I should write about next. My husband was no help! 😉  Another family member gave me a good topic {I’ll write about it soon!} but one of my friends gave me this topic…..”Why we feel the need to judge others”

I asked her what she meant specifically, and what she shared really made me think. Why do we feel like it’s our place to judge each other’s sins and mistakes??????? This topic came at such a perfect time, and I’ll tell you why…..

Tonight was the night that I serve in the prison ministry. {See: “I went to jail tonight”} I left ON FIRE tonight. One of the girls that I have grown to love is going to court next Monday to see if she gets to go home! I met her about 7 months ago. It was her first day in jail and she was NOT happy about seeing these “church ladies” come in. However, she did choose to come out of her room and sit at the table….but she didn’t smile or make eye contact the whole time. She didn’t speak or anything. But for some reason, God put a soft spot on my heart for her. I made it a point each Monday to love on her. I started calling her Sunshine because she wore a yellow jumpsuit. But not only that, she started smiling 🙂 Her smile each week was such a ray of sunshine to me! She has opened up only to me over the past 7 months, and God has created a unique friendship. Tonight she asked what church I went to and if she could meet me there when she gets out of jail. Um…..ABSOLUTELY! I am so excited about what God has in store for her….and for our God-ordained-nonjudgemental friendship! I don’t know why she’s in jail, nor do I care. I don’t really even know what all the jumpsuit colors mean. Nor. Do. I. Care. Their identity is not found in the colors of their jumpsuits. It is found in who Christ says they are. Which is….

Loved.

Redeemed.

Forgiven.

Beautiful.

So…..why are we so quick to judge? Is the lie you told today any different than the porn your neighbor looked at last night? No. Is the gossip you spoke any different than the crack your sister-n-law smoked? No. Is the way you envy your friends’ stuff any different than the way a homeless man steals stuff? No.

“For whoever keeps the entire law, yet fails in one point, is guilty of breaking it all.” James 2:10

Yes, different sins have different consequences….but in God’s eyes, they’re all the same. So, what does that mean? DON’T JUDGE OTHERS, UNLESS YOU’RE WILLING TO JUDGE YOURSELF!

“Why do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye but don’t notice the log in your own eye?” Matthew 7:3

We all mess up. “For ALL have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.”  Romans 3:23 We mess up in different ways. Our mess ups have different consequences. But y’all….we’re in this #reallife together. And as children of God, we’re called to love and encourage and help each other along the way! Stop judging and start loving!

“Do not judge, so that you won’t be judged. For with the judgement you use, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.” Matthew 7:1-2

Goodnight, friends!

 

 

Friend/Foe’ever?

I’ve been wanting to share about this topic for a while now, but wasn’t quite ready for the transparency that goes along with it. {I’m still not quite ready, but ready or not…..}

For as long as I can remember, I’ve struggled with friendships. Growing up in a divorced home with little money made me hungry for approval from peers. All I ever wanted was to be accepted with the “in crowd.” Popularity is something that I wanted more than anything! But I was never willing to compromise my beliefs or morals. And that’s what set me apart. I didn’t realize it at the time, but looking back, I know that God set me apart for a reason. It was so hard. Being a girl, in junior high and high school, I just wanted girlfriends. I wanted to be invited to every slumber party, house party, birthday party, senior party. But I wasn’t. Even now, I look at the friendships that have carried over into married life. Some of the girls I grew up with are still best friends and now their kids and husbands are best friends. I find myself sometimes feeling resentful at not having those lifelong friendships. The one best friend that I did have growing up, didn’t even want to be in my wedding when I asked her. It. Crushed. Me. To. The. Core.

I’ve had a lot of girlfriends throughout my life. But because of moves, those close friendships are now long-distance friendships. Which means, we don’t talk much….or see each other much. However, they are meaningful friendships, and I know that if I needed them, they’d be there in a MINUTE! I’ve left a piece of my heart behind with every move. Sometimes I think that’s a negative thing. I look at Facebook and wonder “Why don’t I have that close knit group of friends?”…..”Why has God forced those friendships to an end?”…..”Why can’t I have long term friendships like so-and-so?”

But….God reminds me that it’s not about quantity…it’s about quality. What is the quality of my friendships? And some friendships are just for a season. But most importantly…what friendships stand in the way of my friendship with the Lord????? This is something that I’ve really started asking myself over the past year. Am I totally obsessed with having a group of girlfriends? Yes, I was. But little by little, the Lord revealed that some of those friendships  were toxic to my personal and spiritual life. Guarding my heart was more important than giving my heart to any and every girlfriend that came into my life.

It’s no coincidence that over the past week, my quiet times with the Lord have been about friendship. Not friendship with other people, but friendship with the Lord. Above all, that’s what really matters. If you’re like me, then you know that being friends with “someone you can’t see” is really hard. Like, REALLY hard. But just because I can’t see Him, doesn’t mean that I can’t feel him. His friendship is more real than any friendship I’ve ever had.

It’s still hard sometimes. I still crave physical interaction with girlfriends. I still get down when I see Facebook highlight reels of amazing friendships. But when I start feeling that way, I ask…..”God, what are you trying to show me through this?” And every time His response is…..”Tonya, I am more than enough for you.”

Yes, Lord. You are.

Goodnight friends!

When the going gets tough…

So….the past month has been TOUGH! We packed up a 3,000 sq ft house, moved, and have started {slowly} unpacking into a 2,200 sq ft house. Needless to say, I threw away a lot and gave away a lot. When I got tired of packing, I just took a load to Goodwill! LOL! 🙂 #declutter

My anxiety was out.of.control. It’s slowly getting better, but it got real bad. A couple weeks ago, I sent a group message to my Small Group girls and asked if they would meet me in the prayer room at church and pray with me! #askforhelp

Since then, God has revealed over and over how powerful prayer is. I watched War Room on Friday, and this afternoon I started working on my very own “War Room.” I’m ready to wage war on satan and the grip that he’s had on me and my family. This household is under new management! {quote from the movie War Room} #pray

We’ve also had some financial strain. Michael {my hubby} started his own insurance agency on July 1. We went from having a really good, steady income….to having…not a whole lot. It will take time for Michael to build his business, and in the meantime….we’re cutting expenses {insert: homeschool}. I was working part-time at a local store as an interior designer, but I quit a couple weeks ago.I also have my own business {SCOR home prep…..look me up on Facebook} The purpose of my business is to stage homes to sell, but God has sent me a different clientele. For the past 6+ months, I have been cleaning houses for people. It’s something my mom has done since I was little, but I’ve never had a desire to clean other people’s homes…..I can barely keep up with my own! However, I love helping people! It’s not an easy job, but it’s a rewarding one. It’s also helped our family financially, and I’m so thankful for the unexpected ways that God provides!!!!! #Godwillprovide

I share all this to say…..life is tough. It doesn’t always go the way I think it should. That’s the purpose of this blog. To share #reallife with you. God’s ways are not my own….but they’re ALWAYS so much better!!!!! Allow Him to push you out of your comfort zone. Because often times being comfortable means that we become complacent. Wake up in the morning and ask God to make you #uncomfortable!

Goodnight, friends!

Who, What, When, Where?

I’ve been thinking about what my next post would be. I’ve been praying about a “perfect topic”….and I just haven’t felt led any specific way. So….today I’ll just tell a little about myself and my current situation based on the 4 W’s….

Who??

I’m Tonya. I’m a wife, a mother, a sister, a daughter, a friend, and a child of God. Just like the blog says….in a nutshell….I’m stressed. blessed. and a bit hot-messed. I spend a lot of my time feeling stressed. Just normal stress….I guess? Is it normal to be stressed about every.single.thing?? Lol! I take Lexapro to help maintain sanity. It helps….except for when I forget to take it. I’m also blessed. God has blessed me and my family in incredible ways. And I’m a bit hot-messed. Which means….I just try to make it through each day–in a crazy, frazzled kinda way!

What??

What is my current situation? Well…..we just moved. For the 5th time. And I can tell you….I’d be ok if we NEVER move again. I love where we’re living. I love the season of life my family is in. My husband started his own insurance agency and we decided to cut expenses until he builds his book of business. We downsized the house. We pulled the kids out of private school (I’ll be homeschooling). And we’ve just tried to “simplify” life. And I’m loving it! My happiness has never depended on money….or things. But it seems like the more money we made, the more things we had. And the harder we tried to “keep up” with those around us. It’s such an exhausting life.

When??

When will life slow down? Gosh, I don’t know? Probably never. There’s always something that needs to be done. Someone that needs me. Somewhere that I need to be. A few years ago I learned to pray that God would interrupt me. Which means that in the busyness of life, I want to give God permission to interrupt my schedule to put me in line with His will. I don’t always allow Him to interrupt me, because I’m just too busy to be interrupted!!!! But I want to be interrupted more. I need to be interrupted more.

Where??

Where do I see myself and my family in a year from now? HAHA! I have no idea. If I’ve learned anything in my life, it’s that God’s plans are wayyyyy different than mine! I thought Brookhaven was our “forever home” but it’s been 7 years since we’ve lived there! A lot has changed since then, and a lot is changing now. Like I said earlier, I have decided to homeschool the kids. I’m planning on just homeschooling them for a year and then going back to Hartfield. But…my plans are not God’s, so who knows? When I think about homeschooling the kids, all I can think is…..I’m going to fail. I can’t do this. But I know that “I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.” And I know the same for you.

So, no matter WHO you are. WHAT you’re going through. WHEN God will rescue you from your trials. or WHERE you’ll end up….

God has a plan. His timing is not our timing. And He loves us with an unconditional love that we can’t even comprehend. Claim that tonight. Soak in it. And allow Him to take control of your life and your circumstances.

Goodnight friends!

I went to jail tonight

Yes, I went to jail tonight.

But it was voluntary.

I got involved with a prison ministry about a year ago. My mom has done it for a few years, and I joined her last fall.

It is the most amazing ministry that I have ever been a part of. Mainly because–I view those girls as friends. I look forward to going….and I am probably more blessed by it than they are.

So, tonight I did the “devotion.” The girls know that whatever topic I choose to speak to them about is a topic that I am struggling with myself. I am real with them. I am no better than them. I love them.

Tonight we talked about prayer. Something that I am currently struggling with. We talked about who God is to us. What is our view of Him? I told them that I’ve always struggled with my view of my Heavenly Father because of my earthly father. Does God really love me no matter what? Does He think I’m good enough? Does He want me around? Yes. He does. But it’s one of satan’s biggest footholds in my life.

The girls opened up. We talked…..laughed….prayed…cried. And then this happened….One of the {new} girls that I had never met before said to me…..”Your excitement for God is like a kid in a candy shop.”

Wow. I wanted to pat myself on the back. “Good job, Tonya. You’re a super duper Christian!” But no, I’m not. I’m just living through these #reallife struggles, and I’m sharing them with others. Some days I get it right. Some days I fall flat on my face. But through it all, God remains constant. Constantly in love with me. Constantly pursuing me. Constantly revealing Himself. And THAT excites me.

Goodnight friends!

 

#unS.E.L.F.I.E.

SELFIE:

S-Self

E-Entertainment

L-Led

F-From

I-Insecurities

E-Eternal

Can I just tell you something? Selfies are nothing but people seeking approval from people who really don’t matter!  {insert: guilty!} Social media brings out the deepest insecurities in us. I mean, do we take selfies and send them to our family? NO! Why would we? They love us just like we are. So, why are we seeking approval from other people? Challenge: don’t post a selfie for an entire week. Instead, take pictures of your family and print them out. Put them in an album. Frame them. See how rewarding that can be. Take my challenge, and on July 15th comment below with how this “challenge” made a difference in your life. I’m going to do the same. Good luck.

#unselfie

Put down the butter knife!

So…..I’m laying here in bed at 8:25 trying to find motivation to get up. My husband has already left for work. My kids are still sleeping. And our new furry family member is asleep beside me {insert: rolled eyes} But here lately, finding motivation to do anything has been extremely hard. As soon as my eyes open in the morning, I’m filled with anxiety. Anxiety about what all needs to get done today. Anxiety about what all I want to do today. Anxiety about what fun things I should do with the kids today. I mean, it’s summer for goodness sake…..doesn’t that mean we need to be out having as much fun as possible?!? But then at the end of the day, I feel like a failure. And then the anxiety/depression hits again. What did I get done today? What did I even do today? Did the kids have enough fun? Did I meet my husband’s needs? As all of this is going through my mind this morning, I decided to open up my Proverbs 31 email and read today’s devotion. {insert: if you do not receive these emails, sign up now! proverbs31.org} I want to share today’s devotion with you.
July 8, 2016

When You Can’t Seem to Do Enough
ALICIA BRUXVOORT

“… And as the Spirit of the Lord works within us, we become more and more like him.” 2 Corinthians 3:18b (TLB)

I heard the sound of her frustrated howl before I eyed the sag in her slender shoulders.

Those angry wails led me to the kitchen table where I found my first-grader hunched over her math homework with a pencil in one hand and a butter knife in the other.

“What’s wrong?” I asked.

“I can’t do this!” she moaned.

I leaned over my slouching girl and glanced at the worksheet that was causing so much angst. Rectangles were printed across the white page with these simple instructions: “Measure the length of each box.”

I watched as my 7-year-old attempted to align the edge of the butter knife with the base of the rectangle on her worksheet. She leaned in close and studied the glinting utensil as if the answer she sought might be scripted on the silverware’s silver teeth.

I crossed the room and plucked a metric ruler from the desk drawer. “Maybe you should try a new measuring stick.” I handed the ruler to my discouraged girl and encouraged her to try again. “The right measuring stick changes everything,” I said with an empathetic smile.

That’s a lesson I’ve learned first-hand.

When my five kids were young, I lived in a constant state of discouragement. No matter how I stewarded my time, I ended most of my days with the nagging feeling that I hadn’t done enough.

Sometimes I was defeated because I felt like I hadn’t done enough with my children. I hadn’t played tag or created a Pinterest-worthy craft with them; I hadn’t exposed them to classical music or worked on their ABCs.

Other days, I felt like I hadn’t done enough on the home front. I hadn’t folded all the laundry or mopped the sticky floors. Sadly, no matter what I accomplished in a given day, my best efforts rarely measured up to the expectations inside of my head.

Then one night, after listening to my rant about all the things I hadn’t gotten done, my husband gently challenged, “Maybe you’re using the wrong measuring stick.”

With a sage smile, he suggested, “Instead of asking, ‘What have I done today?’ You should ask, ‘Who have I been today?’”

At first, I shrugged off my man’s advice. But the more I pondered his quiet wisdom, the more I wondered if he was right. Had I been assessing my days with a butter knife?

It wasn’t easy, and it didn’t feel natural, but little by little, I began to change the way I evaluated my days. Rather than focusing on what I’d done (or hadn’t done), I began to consider who I’d been:

Had I been patient?
Had I been kind?
Had I been loving?
Had I been generous? And grace-filled? And real?

Humbly, I asked God to help me exchange the fickle rulers in my head for His faithful rule in my heart. And, eventually, my daily dose of discouragement was replaced by a steady stream of peace.

Our key verse reminds us that God is far more interested in who we are becoming than in what we are doing. So, on those days when it feels like we aren’t getting anything done around us, we are wise to remember that God is always at work within us. “… And as the Spirit of the Lord works within us, we become more and more like him” (2 Corinthians 3:18b).

God can use our productive and unproductive moments to grow us into the women He’s dreamed us to be. Our efforts may come up short, but God’s promises never will. And knowing that changes everything!

So, let’s stop measuring our days with that butter knife of doing “enough.” Instead, let’s invite our Maker to do immeasurably more than we can ask or imagine according to His Spirit within us.

And then, one day, when we pose the question, “Who have I been today?”

We just might hear our Father whisper, “You’ve been a beautiful reflection of My Son.”

God never ceases to amaze me. He always speaks the exact words that I need to hear. But sadly, I’m not always listening.

Today, I want to not focus so much on what I’ve done….but who I’ve been!

Have a great day, friends!!!

#reallife….why share?

Ok, so I’ve been thinking for a while now about starting a blog. Why???…

Not because I’m a writer. Or an important person. Or live a super cool life.

But because  I want to share my “real life” with you in hopes that it will encourage you, entertain you, and educate you. Social media is a “highlight reel” for many people. And I’ve fallen into that trap. I’ve deleted Facebook several times because I just can’t handle how perfect all my Facebook friends are!!!! GAG! I’ll scroll through my news feed and then feel left thinking…..

“Why aren’t my kids that perfect?”
“I wish my husband was like so-and-so’s husband”

Am I the only one??? I mean, geez! Why can’t we all just be real with each other? Life is hard. Parenting is hard. Marriage is hard. Friendships are hard.

Let me tell you a  little about me. I’m happily married. No, really, I am. We’re celebrating 10 years of marriage this year, and let me tell you…..it’s been a freakin rollercoaster. We’ve had highs….lows….and our fair share of loop-dee-loops! But I.am.in.love.with.my.man. That doesn’t mean that we don’t have hard days. {insert: my mental breakdown I had today and went off on the entire family because my husband brought home a puppy, the day after we moved homes. Could we unpack some boxes first?!?!?} Anywayyyyyy…..I have 2 beautiful children. {insert: the word I used today was bratty…..but they are beautiful, bratty children} I love being a mom….I really do. But I promise to be real in this blog. So, I will share the good–and the bad. I just celebrated my 32nd birthday, but I honestly still feel 22. {insert: anxiety medicine, cellulite, 10 lbs heavier, and a 9:00pm bedtime} But most importantly, you should know, I am a Christian. Which means….I believe that God sent His only Son to die for my sins (and yours), He was buried, He arose, and He’s coming back! I believe that with my whole heart….but living in that faith is the hard part. Life.Is.Hard. God.Is.Good. I.Am.Sinful.

Whew….how do we navigate through this life? That’s what I want to share with you. The real life struggles about real life. Follow this blog, and let’s help each other along the way. {insert: this is not comfortable for me….but I want women to know that you’re not alone!}