Two Tiaras and a Sword

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

We are talking WIDE OPEN, y’all!

A little back story before we get to the main story.

I grew up in the suburbs of a large city.  It was drilled into me by my protective parents to lock doors.  House doors - when we were gone and when we were home.  Car doors - when we were parked, and when we were driving.  Before bed each night, Daddy made sure all the doors were locked up tight and we were all safe and secure inside.  It is just what we did.

Now I live in a small town.  Some of our friends admit to not locking their homes - day or night, home or away...ummm...NO.  I just can't do it.

So, this last weekend, My Prince and I went as chaperones on a beach retreat.  Our kids were all going, and well, a beach retreat = a no brainer.  I'm in.  I mean it.  ALL IN.  Bring on the sunscreen and the sand!

 Our group had one side of a mirror image building (the main street side), and shared the other side with a  group that brought down 3rd - 5th grade inner city kiddos.  I saw them pass by one afternoon on their way to the beach, but otherwise, I never saw the other group.  We all followed the rules and kept to our own sides.

So, we were among our own people.  Church members. Family.  People we were comfortable with.  I shared a room with three other ladies.  Our room connected by a door into one of the rooms where some of our girls were staying, and then there was one more room where the rest of our girls and our youth pastor's wife were staying.  All of the rooms had an outside access door.  The boys had a similar set up.  Only they were on the first floor and the girls were on the second floor.

The first night, I never even thought about locking the door.  Not once.  The thought never even crossed my mind.  We all got ready for bed, did some soul sharing (as women tend to do when we get together), and went to sleep.  Because tomorrow was coming early, and we had teenagers to chase around in the sun.  SOME sleep was necessary.

The next night, one of the ladies and I went up a little earlier to get ready for bed.  As the other ladies came in, I mentioned that I think we had forgotten to lock the door the night before, and that we needed to be sure and lock the door that night.  I guess it was on my mind after the Youngest Princess came in and told me that there had been a little incident (after I had already gone upstairs) where some guys off the street had tried to join our kids in a game of basketball.  The strangers were asked nicely to leave, and were not really keen about vacating the premises (or being told what to do in general).   Our men chaperones stepped in and handled the situation.  Then the daughter of another lady came in a few minutes later to tell us that she had passed by at some time during the day and our room door had been standing open and that it was really hot in our room.  She said she just shut the door for us.  All that said, I wanted to be sure that the room door was locked for the night.  I mentioned it to the lady sleeping closest to the door, as I was already on my top bunk, and she said okay.  I then got busy talking, and promptly forgot to watch her and make sure she actually DID lock the door.

Maybe it was the missing flip flop situation that captured my attention...but that is a story for another day.

We all got in bed.  We talked.  We laughed.  We said goodnight and went to sleep.

Then sometime in the middle of the night, I woke up.  I woke up because I was hot.  I am RARELY EVER hot.  And I was in a room full of ladies who like it COLD.  So I knew instinctively that something was WRONG.

When I opened my eyes, I was staring straight out the door.  It was standing WIDE OPEN.  I mean like alllll the way to the wall WIDE OPEN.  And y'all.  I was WIDE AWAKE.  I mean like fight or flight WIDE AWAKE.  Because I know we talked about locking said door.  And she said OKAY.  Which meant that she was going to do it.  So why in the world was it standing WIDE OPEN!?!?

From my lofty perch (top bunk) I did a quick head (or body) count.  We were all there.  The other three ladies who like it cold, were sleeping through the heat wave caused by the open door.  NO movement in any of them.  I played mental tug of war with myself.  Should I wake them up?  Was it the wind that blew open the locked door or was something more sinister going on?  What about the girls in the next room?  If I woke everyone else up would everyone be able to go back to sleep if it had just been the wind?  What if it wasn't the wind?!?  What should I do?!? Will they be mad at me if I wake them up and it WAS just the wind?

So I took matters into my own hands.  I got off of the bed and tiptoed across the room to the door (meanwhile, all the people watching from home are going "Don't do it!  Don't do it!).  I gingerly peeked both ways out the open door.  Saw no one, and shut and LOCKED the door.  Then my sleep deprived, sun baked brain thought, "Well, maybe I should check and make sure no one is in the room with us..." which may have been brought on by the thought that I should go to the bathroom before getting back up on my top bunk.  I know that was backwards, but I was scared, and not really thinking straight.  Meanwhile, my sweet friends slept peacefully on. 

I quickly did a check, and thankfully there was no intruder in the room with us.  I climbed back to the safety of my bed.  I grabbed my phone and started texting My Prince.  Long story short, I finally got ahold of the Young Prince.  The Young Prince woke up My Prince.  My Prince texted me to let me know he would come up.  He came to our door, and stood as lookout while I checked on (and locked the doors behind me) the girls in both rooms. All was well, so My Prince and I went back to bed. 

This all took place at about 3:30 a.m.  I think my first text was at 3:24.  I did not go back to sleep until about 5:10.  My friend got up at 5:30 to go watch the sunrise on the beach with her son.  I woke up with her alarm, and told her what had happened.  She asked me if I had dreamed it.  I told her no, that I had the texts to My Prince to prove it.

So, in the end, all was well that ended well.  Two of the ladies left that day, because they had to come back home early.  That left only two of us in the room for the last night.  We made SURE the door was locked, and we put our luggage in front of the door, so the wind would have a harder time if it decided a repeat performance.  I was not going to wake up in the middle of the night to an open door again.  Thankfully, due to our extra precautions, all was well the last night.

Now.  That's my story.  What is your's?  Have you even thought about locking your "door"?  Have you considered that there are forces out there that want access to your heart and mind?  God's Word tells us that we wrestle not with flesh and blood (Ephesians 6:12).  We are in a spiritual war.   And most of us are too comfortable here and too distracted to even think about taking precautions and locking our doors.  But I will tell you for sure.  You do NOT want to be blindsided and wake up from a dead sleep to find your door WIDE OPEN.  You do not want to find yourself completely vulnerable to the elements.  I pray that we will remember that we are not meant for this life.  And that there is a spiritual battle going on around us.  I pray that we will put on the "whole armor of God" that we will be able to "withstand in the evil day, and having done all to stand." (Ephesians 6:13)  After being caught off guard, we made sure to make every precaution that it would not happen again.  Let's learn from mistakes.  Let's put on that whole armor each and every day, no matter how comfortable we feel or how distracted we get.  Because I promise you, the wind did not stop blowing that last night, and Satan won't stop trying to blow your door in and destroy you and your family.  Don't let him!  Wear that armor like the good soldier that you are.  Don't find yourself wandering around in the dark, trying not to disturb others but wanting to make sure that everyone is safe.  Barricade your door.




Friday, June 22, 2018

Adjusting our sails

The winds of change.  They are blowing through.  As a family, we are adjusting our sails, and looking forward to our new adventures.  I thought I would write a quick blog to keep you all up to date.

And with that said, I am really not even sure where to begin.

I guess I will go back several months ago to a conversation that I had with my sweet Mother-in-Law.  She knows that I have wanted for some time now to stop teaching in the classroom, and to begin homeschooling the Youngest Princess.  She and I were discussing that I would still need some way to help our family financially.  She mentioned that I could tutor.  I thought about her suggestion, and prayed about it for several weeks before I mentioned it to My Prince.  When I did mention it to him, he told me we could pray about it.  I was overjoyed.  It was the first time that I felt that he was actually considering the possibility of letting me quit and start homeschooling.  I prayed continuously, and we would talk a little about it here and there, as time moved along.

I talked to other family members about the possibility.  Everyone seemed to think it would be a good move at this point in time.

I joined a group on Facebook for people who used the homeschool curriculum that I knew I wanted to use.  I did not post, but watched carefully and read just about every question and every answer posted and soaked it all in.  I learned a lot, and grew more and more excited every day.

And then there was a "chance" conversation that opened doors to the opportunity of me doing some tutoring this summer.  I nervously stepped out in faith.  I had no idea if anyone would even want me to tutor their children.  But I put it out there, and the Lord supplied.  I was very excited at the response.  To My Prince, it solidified that we were making the right steps and that the Lord was blessing.

I casually mentioned homeschooling to the Youngest Princess and she was very excited about the prospect.

My Prince and I talked more and more about it, and we finally set a date by which we wanted to make a final decision.  We wanted to give the school plenty of time to fill my position before the beginning of the next school year.

The day came, and we went to talk to the principal.  I was very nervous.  I guess because I knew it would finalize everything.

Over the next few days, as I had free time, I cleaned out my classroom.  It was bittersweet.  I taught there for 14 years.  My oldest two children went all the way through school there.  Many memories were made there.  We have made great friends there.  We have laughed and cried there.  We have prayed and praised there, and we have learned many, many lessons there.  I love the school and its ministry to the community.  We will miss it, no doubt.

And on the flip side of that, we are over the moon excited about this new chapter in our life.  We know there will be challenges.  We know it will not be smooth sailing all the way.  We know that we will have to make sacrifices to make it work.  But we know that this is what and where God has called us to at this point in our lives.  Yes, there are days when I have doubts.  And yes, it is scary to make changes.  And yes, it has taken faith on our part.  But we know that God will be with us every step of the way.

We signed up for homeschool and ordered books on a Wednesday, and had the books by Friday.  I have been like a kid in a candy shop going through it all to learn everything I can before we get started and working to get it all organized.

God has worked out little details that I was concerned about, and some that I didn't even know to be concerned about.  And He is still working out other details, but everything is falling into place.

On top of that, The Oldest Princess and the Young Prince will both be heading off to college on the same day in August (About 64 very short days away).  So that will be another big change for our family.  Until then we are soaking up the summer and making as many family memories as we can.  But getting us all together is harder than it used to be with the oldest two both working, and me tutoring, and My Prince's sometimes abnormal schedule.  More of that change I've been talking about.

Change stretches us. It wakes us up from the lethargy of routine. It moves us out of our comfort zones, and it helps us to grow.  It brings us closer to God as we lean more on Him and exercise our faith in Him.

Yes, the winds of change are blowing through.  We covet your prayers as we adjust our sails, and set out to experience uncharted waters and exciting new adventures.





Saturday, February 24, 2018

It’s Broken - And I Can’t Fix It

It is about as broken as broken gets.  And I can’t fix it.

I do not like this realization I have come to recently.  I would still rather reside in the happy land of “Maybe If...”or “It is Possible That...”.  The land where, in my heart,  I try to make things work out, and physical realities and the free will of people I love all line up and “voila!” everything is back to normal.  There are smiles, and rainbows, and happy endings.  A place where people are happy with themselves and are kind and loving to others.

But my mind has had to give my heart a reality check.  And I’ve had to vacate the happy land of “Maybe If...” and “It is Possible That...” and move into the smaller tighter reality of “It is Broken.” and “I Can’t Fix It.”

Broken things make me sad.  I don’t like things that are broken.  I want them to be fixed, restored, and made whole again. I like happy.  I like smooth sailing and sunny days.

Storms and rough seas are not my cup of tea.

But as much as I want to fix things, I’m only good at easy fixes like bandaids and kisses, ice packs and treats, hugs and smiles, causing laughter, encouraging toughness, tenacity, and persistence.

And this brokenness, well, it's bigger than those quick fixes.

 I’m not an expert fixer.  I am definitely not a miracle worker.  I’m not good at broken bones, stitches, surgical procedures. I am not good at broken lives, broken hearts or wounded souls.

When serious broken happens, I have to call on an expert.  So, it is a good thing that I know one personally.  One that IS an expert on fixing bodies AND souls.  And He is just one call away.  Even better, when I call Him, He already knows what is going on.  He already has a plan, and He has already set things in motion to heal and restore.

He speaks gently and lovingly to my heart.  He tells me to “fear not.”  He calms the storm raging in my mind and heart, and restores peace to my soul.  He allows me to cry over the brokenness that I can’t fix, while He wraps His arms of love around me and assures me that He will fix it, in His time, and in His way.

Our family seems to be under attack from every side and and every angle these past few weeks.  Satan has been working hard to discourage us.  Fiery darts rain in from EVERY side.  The winds blow, and our ship is tossed.  From big issues with a couple of our cars, to little issues with the washing machine.  From broken phones (which are hard to fix from several hundred miles away), to the stairway falling from our attic entrance (which was fixed fairly quickly by the Young Prince who was assisted by My Prince).  From heartbreaking situations at church (bearing one another's burdens), to discouraging issues at work.  From loved ones facing health issues to loved ones facing seriously tough life circumstances.  From death in our extended family to broken relationships among those we love.  From putting out one "fire" to putting out three or four "fires" at one time.

The other day, I had had all I could handle.  I felt like one more thing, and I was going to lose my mind.  So I went to God's Word, to assure and encourage myself.  I posted a few Bible Verses with the declaration of Not today, Satan!  Not today!  And I decided to call it a day.  I laid my head down on my pillow, and before I could relax, my phone buzzed.  Before I could completely handle that situation, the phone rang with more disturbing news.  Needless to say, it was a long night. After a really long day. And the next morning picked up right where the night before left off. Another really long day, in a series of several really long weeks.  A whole lot of broken.  In a short amount of time.  With little - if any - reprieve in between.

But through it all, God has remained faithful.  He has not left us.   I do not know how people face life without Him.  I am beyond thankful that I know the greatest Fixer of all things.  He has it all under control.  I just need to rest in that assurance, and trust that even when I can't fix it, no, especially when I can't fix it, God can.  I was reminded in my Bible study class that God does not run from our "messy", but he climbs right into the boat with us and calms our storm.  And for us, He has done just that.  In each and every situation, He has been right there.  He has calmed each storm. Even when they came back to back to back.

Is everything resolved and restored?  Unfortunately not.  But (for now) all is calm.  We have actually had a couple of calm days in a row (Hallelujah!).  And when I look back at just how faithful and good God has been in the past, I know that I can trust Him with my future.  It is broken.  And I can not fix it.  But I rest in the assurance that I know The One who can.



Saturday, February 10, 2018

I AM the Weakest Link

I am a pretty average human being.  But there have been more days than not, lately, that I feel as though I fail more than succeed.  And it is not just at one thing.  It seems to be everything.  At home.  At work.  At church.  At friendships.  At everything.  I have tried to be extra careful and double check things, and yet, I still make mistakes.

I was mulling over a mistake I made the other day, when I heard in my head, in that very proper British lady's accent, "You ARE the weakest link!"  And my heart added in your family, in your circle of friends, in your workplace.

And then, maybe because I have been focusing on trying to be quiet, and to listen to God and what He says about the things I think...I heard in my head, "Yes, you ARE the weakest link.  But, that is not a bad thing.  Because in your weakness, My strength is made perfect."

And as I thought it over for the next few minutes, the truth hit home.  Right in the center of my heart.  I AM the weakest link.  And I AM okay with that.  I will gladly be the weakest link, if it keeps me from being dependent on myself, and keeps me running to the Lord.  I will gladly be the weakest link if it means that His strength shines through, and He is the one who gets the glory for any good that comes out of my bumbling and fumbling through life.

I know sometimes I get too caught up in trying to be perfect.  And let's face it, the pressure to be perfect in today's world is strong.  But when I am perfect, or perform perfectly, who gets the credit?  I do.  Yet when I am human and make mistakes, and something good comes from it?  Then God is the one who gets the glory.  I don't want the glory.  I want it to go where it belongs - to my loving heavenly Father.

II Corinthians 12:9-10 states: And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness.  Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.
Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ's sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.

I am okay with being weak, because it just proves all the more how much I NEED Christ.  It keeps me looking to Him, leaning on Him, and trusting in Him.  And there is no other place I would rather be.

Yes.  I am okay with being weak.  And I am not afraid to admit that I make mistakes and fail, because that is when my precious heavenly Father steps in and shows just how strong He is.  To God be the glory!

Monday, January 1, 2018

Shhhh.

Do me a favor.  Stop for just a minute.  Sit still, and listen.  Just listen.  Think about what you hear.  It's okay.  I will wait.








So, what did you hear?  I hear the hum of the hairdryer as my daughter dries her hair.  I also hear the sounds of cars going by, and my two favorite men having a conversation downstairs.

For several months now, God has been working on my heart about picking my new word for 2018.  It started very subtly at first.  But the push toward this one word has become stronger and stronger in the past few weeks and days.  I thought about this word earlier in the year as I read books on the words we say and how we say them.  Thoughts of the same word surfaced more recently as I read about humility and how to have more of it in my life.  I thought about this word a lot and most recently as I pressed through the "busy" of the holiday season.

I asked my Facebook friends to humor me in a post yesterday.  I asked them to do as I asked you at the beginning of this blog.  To sit still for a few seconds and to share with me what they could hear.  I had about 30 different people respond.  Out of those who did respond, several mentioned hearing music, or the television, or the voices of loved ones.  Others mentioned things like ice makers, refrigerators, washing machines, and the sound of air from heaters.  Some mentioned husbands working or snoring.  Others heard the sound of loved ones helping someone.  Several mentioned the sounds that their pets were making.  But just as I had suspected.  No one mentioned the word that has been pressed by God on my heart. Well, one friend used my word to describe a sound that she heard, but no one only used my word.

We live in a noisy world.  There is activity and sound going on all around us constantly.  Did you know that noise is scientifically proven to raise blood pressure and stress levels?  My niece bought a game called Hearing Things.  It came with earphones for one player to wear while the other player read a phrase from a card.  The player with the earphones was supposed to try to figure out what the other player was reading from the card.  The earphones played a loud "crowd" type noise to keep the wearer from hearing what the other player was saying, and to cause them to depend only on lip reading skills to win the game.  Many of us had trouble getting past the distraction of the noise coming through the earphones in order to be able to focus on what was important - figuring out what the other player was saying - in order to win the game.

I think that Satan often uses noise to distract us from what is important.  I have read several articles on the benefits of just being quiet.  Many mention the health benefits.  One surprising benefit is that being quiet actually grows new brain cells - who knew!?!  And who of us would not benefit from new brain cells?  Quiet also helps with creativity.  Brain cells and creativity are a couple of things I feel I have been running short on for a few years now.

So, if you haven't figured it out by now.  My word for 2018, is quiet.  I plan to try to intentionally schedule some into every day.  I plan to quiet the noise around me.  I plan to "Be still" and "know" that He is God (Psalm 46:10).  I plan to tune out the world's noise, and to listen for what is important - His still small voice (1 Kings 19:12).

I also plan to work on quieting the noise within.  I'm really good at belittling myself.  I'm really good at beating myself up.  I'm really good at blaming myself.  I want to hear, and believe what God wants me to hear and believe.  I want to hear who He says that I am and soak it all in, instead of listening to the lies of Satan.  I want to hear His forgiveness and mercy instead of my self condemnation.  I want my identity to be in Him alone.  But to do this, I must quiet the noise within.

I also want to work more on being quiet myself. I do not have to say everything that is on my heart or mind.  I have tried to practice this lately.  I have amusingly found that others have plenty to say.  So when I am quiet, there is usually someone to fill in the void.  I want my words to have an impact.  I want to say things that matter.  I am working on quality, not quantity, when it comes to sharing my words and what is on my heart.

So, in my very informal Facebook survey, no one said that they just heard quiet.  But guess what I hear now?  Quiet.  Since I started writing, everyone else has left the house with things to do.  I am home alone getting over the flu.  And I hear quiet.  And since that is the word that God has impressed on me to be the focus of 2018, and has provided me with the opportunity to start now, I am going to take it.  My prayer is that you too, are intentional about adding more quiet to your life this year.

Happy New Year!  I pray that you grow closer to God this year than ever before!

Thursday, November 23, 2017

Thankful Thursday 11/23/17

Certainly not an exhaustive list, because there are millions of things to be thankful for, but these are some of the things that stood out this week.

*A sweet friend who helped us by watching the Youngest Princess

*Two awesome ladies who worked together and subbed for me 

*Safe travels

*An exciting day for the Young Prince

*A chance to see a sweet “frienb” and spend a little time together

*Another great friend who kept the Youngest Princess after school

*Safe travels home

*Time to catch up on laundry

*Steps taken for the future

*A great (long overdue) talk with the Oldest Princess

*A great day in the house of the Lord - worshipping, learning and growing with a great group of people.

*A dinner with good friends

*A fun time for The Youngest Princess

*Time together around the fire pit

*A warm home 

*Quiet time and a lunch date for my Prince and I

*Safe travels for the Oldest Princess

*An answer to prayer

*Chances to work on some of the things God is    speaking to my heart about

*Family time with all of my children 

*Strength, when mine is all gone

*Calls and texts and Facebook posts from family and friends that brighten my day

*Seeing my children practice discernment 

*Acts of service that show love

*A happy, blessed, family filled day

*Playing in the yard with the kids

*S’mores and fire pits 

For all these things, and many many more, I am Thankful to the Lord.

Happy Thanksgiving from our family to yours!



Thursday, November 16, 2017

Thankful Thursday 11/16/17

James 1:17
Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.

*For safe travels for the Oldest Princess

*For a fun day irking with the Oldest Princess

*For my wonderful Prince who steps in and helps when I need him

*For the Youngest Princess getting to play a little in the first basketball game

*For the joy of watching the Youngest Princess cheer

*For a fun dinner out with my family

*For a quiet evening to work on a project after a loooong busy day

*For rest

*For time together for the whole family

*For little ones full of energy that bless my heart with their childlike faith

*For teamwork 

*For my girls sitting with me in church 

*For a great opportunity for the Young Prince

*For special times sharing and growing with ladies I love

*For people who show they care in big and in small ways

*For a much needed purchase, made possible by a generous donation

*For a fun evening with My Prince and the Youngest Princess

*For the Holy Spirit who guides me and helps me when my flesh is weak

*For the prayers of my Prince when I need backup 

*For being able to see the Youngest Princess cheer again

*For am answer to prayer

*For the privilege to help someone I love

*For a great book that is cutting me to the core and teaching me hard but much needed things

*For conversations that go beyond surface topics and drive me to think deeply

*For medicines that help the symptoms of allergies and allergic reactions 

*For hope

*For grace

*For health

*For laughter

*For unconditional love

*For God’s hand of protection for the Youngest Princess

For all these things, any many, many more, I am thankful to the Lord.