Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Discovery, Awareness and Laughter. - Susan Dunk

There is wonderful insight in a woman's story of where she has come from and what she has learned. Thank you Susan for meeting women where they are at... You continue to omit the facade of fake opinions and cliche lines and encourage others towards a real attitude of continued maturity and growth.



Discovery, Awareness and Laughter
by Susan Dunk

I got married super young- a month before my 21st birthday. We had our first child, Rebecca Joy, at age 22. When Paul and I decided to have children, we couldn’t wait to be parents. We thought we would be God’s gift to parenting - that we would parent the “right” way and that we knew everything we could possibly know about being great parents. We were after all – 22.




“A man cannot begin to learn what he thinks he already knows.”~Epitecus

I had read one book on the subject and was prepared for anything. Rebecca was born January 25th 1998 and it began. We had no choice, we were in it for real, and there was no handing her back at the end of the day or choosing another line of work. We were stuck. It was then that we realized we had better change our position of “all knowing” to “all about the learning”. We learned by watching great parenting styles and by watching some “OMG-styles”. We learned from reading and we learned mostly from our children, because children don’t come with an instruction manual-it’s “learn as you go!”



It wasn’t “wrong” that I got married at 21 and started a family the next year, it was just stupid…ok unwise. It is rare to find a 21 year old who knows who they are, and I certainly had no idea. Looking back I can see that I was desperately trying to find my identity in my “doing”. From my career at the time or my role as a wife and mother, I dove into the things I did with intense rigor because it was the source of who I was. On the outside I looked fantastic: juggling mom, wife, work; doing, doing, doing. The problem was, at the end of the day my goal to be a great wife, mom, working woman was more about me than those I was meant to love. Not to mention that I constantly compared myself to other women because I was driven to BE the best mom/wife because my worth was so attached to it. When you aren’t the first in your circle to have your child toilet trained-what the heck is wrong with you?!?



Fast forward to today. Paul and I celebrate 15 years next month and we have 3 incredible kids: Rebecca 13, Isaiah 9 and Nijel 4. How did I get from there to here? A lot of fights, a lot of tears, a lot of apologies, a lot of laughter, a lot of fun, and a lot of love. I’ve listed a few things that I’ve learned along the way:



Discovery. Discover who God made you to be. This is not what you “do” for your life but who you are. There is a reason you were born, a reason you look the way you do and your makeup is what it is; from your personality to your preference, discover it and live it. When you live out who you are, you give permission to your children to be who they are.



Awareness. Be aware of what’s going on inside of you and listen for what’s going on for those you love. Certain seasons of our life will require more emphasis than others, and we will see this when we are aware. When you become aware of mistakes you make as a parent, be courageous and repent to your kids. It is by far the single greatest action I have taken with my husband and my kids.



Laughter. Every day laugh. Laugh at yourself. Don’t take things so personally, or yourself so seriously.





To check out more of Susan you can take a look at her and her husbands blog at http://paulandsusan.ca/





Saturday, April 23, 2011

When Everything Is Stripped Away by Paula Castrucci

Thank you Paula! Beatiful!


When Everything Is Stripped Away
by Paula Castrucci


...it's been said that the amount of blows it takes you to blow out your birthday candles equals the amount of boyfriends you have. i should know; i was reminded of this a few weeks ago when i celebrated one. 31 candles are a lot to blow out, i'll have you know, but juggling four boyfriends is much harder.



okay, okay. i don't really have four boyfriends. in fact, i don't even have ... one.


that's right. do the math. 31, and single. alone. by myself. table for one. riding solo. i'm riding solo, i'm riding solo. [this musical interlude has been brought to you by jason derulo].


each year it seems as though more and more people jump on the "we need to find paula a husband" bandwagon. it's not uncommon for me to get an email stating that the sender is 'praying that God sends me a man soon', nor is it uncommon for someone to come up to me and boldly say such things to my face. now, let it be known that i LOOOOOOOVE men [a lot actually - especially when they look like derek morgan from criminal minds or the mcdreamy/steamy combo from greys], but i can't help but wonder something - what do people see when they look at me? someone who is ... missing something?


because that's not what i see. i see a young woman who has traveled the world. i see a 31 year old who lives a life of purpose. i see someone who is about to see yet another dream come true. i see beauty. confidence. humour. compassion. life. and the list goes on.


who do you see when you look in the mirror? do you simply see a role you play? a wife to ____? mom to _____? nurse? teacher etc? is your identity attached to who you know or what you are? or does it go much deeper than that?


you see, as a woman, the world would tell us that by the time we reach a certain age that we should have a husband, a kid or two [or more if we're crazy - just kidding nic], an ability to cook, bake, sew, whatever; and a green thumb to boot. i, on the other hand, am husband-less and kid-less. i can't hem a pair of pants for the life of me, and you will never - i repeat never - see me spending time in a garden. and you know something? i'm okay with that.


now don't get me wrong, it's perfectly fine to be a wife, or a mom, or to fill any [or every] single one of the roles mentioned in this blog for that matter, but take it from me, ladies - IT'S EQUALLY OKAY if you don't!


here's the thing - and i want you to catch this: our identity shouldn't be found in who we know or what we do.


because truth be told, when everything is stripped away, it's not going to matter whose wife you are, how many kids you have, what you do for a living, or how well you can sing, cook a meal, or whatever else you take pride in. all that's going to matter is who you belong to and who are you are a result: a loved and cherished daughter of the king!

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Every day is a treasure.

So if you were to do your day over again what would you do differently?

Tonight I got talked into watching a movie that has bothered me for years. "Ground Hog Day" The concept absolutely drove me nuts... life never progressing. AWFUL... what I realized today is that I never actually finished the movie. I had always turned it off before the main character realized the lesson in the challenge. With one day you can first see the beauty in the world around you, then cherish it for the better.

As I was sitting watching the movie with Adam, he posed a question. If you were to do the day over again what would you do different? What a great question! Instinctively I answered without a breath. I would spend more time with my girls. It fascinated me how fast that those words come out of my mouth. In a season that seems to be a consistent need to accomplish the "list" of priorities. I miss my girls. I see them everyday. I spend "time" with them. But in reality, I am only scratching the surface of actually connecting with them on a heart to heart level.

I am reminded with a simple movie, to take the time to cherish every day and every ordinary simple moment, never wasting a second!

Leanna (our first now almost 7)
So I pose the question to you.

If you were to do your day over what would you do differently?





Here's a short video that beautifully expresses this thought. (Thank you for posting this to set my heart in the right place today Jules.)

Enjoy.




Wednesday, April 20, 2011

What I learned from my kids. by Ruth Shelley

I am so thrilled to let you meet a dear friend of mine ladies. Ruth Shelley has had a wonderful impact on my life as a young 20year old learning what it is to be a mom. Her heart for her children continues to this day to touch my heart. From living in the same city for a year to from a distance watching the growth of a woman learning to see her children grow up, move out and get married. I see a godly woman who is  learning through the good the bad the joys and the trials. Enjoy this post from her heart.



These last few months I have been contemplating many things about motherhood. I have been missing the many stages of child rearing and growing up with the kids. I think I have been trying to let go because our youngest of 7 has just turned 18 and so now we are no longer the parents of 7 children, but of 7 adults. I have very mixed emotions about all of these changes. I am thrilled that our children have all grown up into wonderful adults. Five of them have married wonderful spouses and we have four beautiful grand daughters. We are anticipating the birth of grand child number five in another month. All of these things are great, but I miss the" being a mom" part of my life. It is different now. They don't need me the same and I am not there primary teacher anymore. Then a thought occurred to me, I was not the only teacher in our midst. Each and every one of my kids taught me a life skill or a life lesson while we were all growing up together. I would like to share with you now the things I learned from my kids and hope that you find encouragement in it. Even in the darkest moments of motherhood, God is using those very experiences to make you into who HE wants you to be!!!




What I learned from my kids:

 

Joshua our number one child

~ Being my first he taught me about beginnings. Firsts!! I also learned my vulnerabilities as a person. I had a little life, a person depending on me for the first time ever. What if all my ideas didn't work? What if I failed? I believed at this time in my "motherhood" that I had all the answers. My children would love and serve the Lord. They would love everybody and adore me. I have learned humility from Joshua. I didn't have all the answers. He has shown me that he had and still has a mind of his own and makes his own decisions whether they be good or bad. I have learned acceptance from that. As for adoring me......I don't think he should. He loves me for sure, but adoration is for his wife and especially for his Lord. I have learned to step down off that "he can only learn from me pedestal" and have chosen to allow God to teach Joshua. One of the biggest things I learned with Joshua is that only God can save ....I can't!!!



Jacob our number two child

~What I learned from Jacob. First of all that there is no such thing as second best. All kids are the best!!! I learned to trust Jesus with Jacob's life. Which later in his life taught me the power of a blessing and the power of a name. I feared for Jacob's life when he was a baby. Two of my friends lost their babies to crib death. So I feared so much that I may loose him that I pushed him away. I loved him, but I didn't give my whole heart to him. Later I realized I robbed him of a blessing. When he was a teenager I wrote him a letter and blessed him and apologized for pulling away from him when he was a baby. There was power in that blessing...in his life and in mine. It was through that experience that I learned God always gives us another chance....always!!!! When I realized the power of the blessing I also realized the power of his name....Jacob which God changed to Israel....His chosen. Jacob is chosen of God.



Priscilla our number three child

~Priscilla has taught me the power of prayer. I had two sons and wanted a daughter, a little girl. So I prayed for a little girl. For the first time I recall, God spoke to my heart and told me he had answered my prayer. I found out I was pregnant and knew right away, it was a girl. Many times during the difficult years of Priscilla's life I would remember that God had given her to us. She was an answer to prayer!! Many of the most amazing lessons I have learned in my Christian walk are because of Priscilla's life. Many answered prayers...many shining spots of gold. She has shown me there is more power in prayer, peace in prayer and comfort in prayer than in any other thing in my life. What a gift to have been given from God.



Amos our number four child

~Amos has taught me about sensitivity and compassion. When Amos was little he was so sensitive to others needs. He was so concerned about people's souls. He would see an accident on the TV news and wonder if they knew the Lord. I didn't have that sensitivity. Amos taught me about it. He was sensitive to wrongdoing and always wanted to make things right. This was sometimes a burden to his heart, but it taught this mother much. The times we apologized to teachers and principals for things he thought about doing...he didn't do them...he thought about doing them!!! These opportunities allowed us times to share our faith. Amos has always been sensitive to God's calling, he has fought it, but that too has shown me the spirit of man pitting against the spirit of God. He has taught me to follow God's leading and prompting or I won't be happy!!



Seth our number five child

~Seth brought us the gift of laughter. He has taught me that I need to laugh. There were so many times in our life when things were so difficult for Steve and I and Seth would come into our room late at night. He would start talking to us, but would end up doing a stand up comedy routine that would have us in stitches. The more we laughed the more he performed. Those were times of relief and respite for Steve and I. Seth brought laughter into our home in many ways....he still does!! God said laughter is like medicine for our soul...He is so right. To cry from laughing so hard is such a gift. Now when I am stressed I want to laugh or watch something funny. Steve and I try to laugh together. Seth our funny gifted son gave us that wonderful gift. Through it we have had great times and find peace. He has taught us much.



Isaac our number six child

~Isaac has taught me about being faithful and consistent. Out of all the kids, Isaac is the most like his dad. His personality is steady and faithful. He is not overly emotional or outgoing, but you can depend on him. He has taught me to stand firm, to be consistent and to follow and believe what I know is in my heart.. If I see a need...meet it, even if it is just picking up something and putting it away for somebody. Isaac always sees the need and faithfully follows through. He has a depth of stability that astounds me, even though he has insecurities and fears. I admire his faithfulness and he has taught me to be unwavering. I have seen his devotion on sport teams, in the family and mostly towards the Lord. His heart is tender with depth. I can still learn from him.



Leah our number seven child

~Leah has taught me that I can be strong in who I am. That I shouldn't worry or care about what others think of me. I am so amazed at the security and confidence that Leah has. She has taught me to be more like her!!! I have been ashamed of my pride and vanity when I am with Leah. She is so very comfortable in her skin and with who she is...both physically and spiritually!! She believes what she believes and speaks up. She has taught me courage. I have learned that I am who I am and who God made me to be and I have accepted that. I have learned to like and try new things because of Leah. She has a courage that I am still trying to develop. She has a boldness that comes from the Lord.






I hope this inspires you all as moms to look at your children and see their uniqueness. To ponder over their personalities and to see how they impact your life. Even the tough moments teach us something about ourselves. Always be teachable and allow the Lord to mold you into the woman that He longs you to be. Those beautiful gifts, your children, that He has entrusted to you can also become the most amazing teacher you will have in your life!!! God Bless!!!

Friday, April 8, 2011

Working out the kinks.

Sorry everyone for the difficulty of posting comments I am looking into how I can get it up and running more efficiently. How frustrating to take the time to write and not have it posted!!! Been there... it's terribly annoying grrr.

Thanks for working with me!!

Keep on following though, lots to come in the future!!! Really looking forward to take us all on a journey of learning, revelation and encouragement!!

Lots of love
Nicole

Beauty Pressure

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ei6JvK0W60I

Check out the link and please join in the discussion....

Whether you are a girl, woman, mother, grandmother... we ALL get hit with this message. We are constantly being bombarded with the pressure that we all need to look perfect, in style, weight even attitude!! In a society that promotes all things are acceptable it builds a VERY specific image that I believe all of us fight against or try to achieve at some point of our lives.

The illusion of a sexual body image is what I believe is at the core. I am one of the first to admit.. I spent years of my teens playing with the line of trying (in the christian circles) to create an  acceptably sexy. I wanted to be thought of as beautiful, but even more than that I wanted to have the "boys" attention and the envy of the "girls". As much as I hated it when it came my way it definitely appeased a hole in my self-esteem. Especially when having a childhood that struggled with acceptance. So why was I looking for acceptance from... people...???!!!!

I believe I absolutely still struggle with this from time to time. Although the fact that I am married and I have a husband that adores me inside and out tames the comparison beast a bit. I still fight the image of somehow even though I have 5 children that I should still have the sexy figure that I did when I was married at 19. I fight the thoughts that even though my husband compliments me... the reality of the difference in my body is evident and I have a hard time hearing it. I am still fighting the acceptance of other people.

I have read a book called Grace Based Parenting, by Tim Kimmel and almost right in the beginning it touches on certain life ingrained needs. 1. A secure love, 2. a significant purpose and 3. a strong hope. When we are not be fulfilled by God given principles and understanding we look else where to be fulfilled.

When my oldest was 4 years old she asked Adam when she was getting ready for bed if she could talk to him. She in a matter of  fact, "filling dad in with the days news" proceeded to tell Dad that she didn't think she was beautiful. She said that she doesn't think her face is very lovely and that she would rather have the face and hair of a friend of hers.  Now this is without the massive onslaught of media!!! With his heart aching for his little girl Adam brought Leanna on a journey of trusting what God says is true and that God has place dad in her life to reveal truth too. He let her know that she has an irreplaceable role in this world and that what God develops inside her far outweighs the beauty on the outside. She went to sleep that night knowing that she was irreplaceable and loved by her family and God. Now knowing how a girl thinks, God encouraged me to take a moment and talk about outer beauty also. So the next day I made sure to take a moment with Leanna and I placed her infront of a mirror. What is on the inside is 100% the first priority but I wanted to encourage her to look beyond the negative thoughts of herself and to SEE and pay attention to aspects of herself that God created and that she really likes. Take the attention away from the negatives and really notice special features. She told me that she loves her eyes and that she likes that her lips are pink. Touched my heart.



We all need to take a moment to cherish who God has made us, shining on the inside and then to take a moment and grasp the beauty that each and everyone of us has on the outside also, natural and God given.


Now looking at my girls I not only just want to teach them self worth, and what true beauty is, but I HAVE to teach them!!!! Bringing my self to a place of continued self acceptance and peace in God's love for me is just the beginning.





Here's where I would like the discussion to begin...

1/ What are things that you might be fighting with yourself? What are you doing to overcome it?
2/ What are you doing now to teach your girls what true beauty is?
3/ What have you done and seen the positive and negative of such parenting?

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Passionate Women.

"Show me your friends, and I will show you your future."

I am sure many of you have heard that saying before. It touches on the fact that who you surround yourself with will impact where you are going in life.

Those who you are in close contact with has the ability to change your life for the better and for the worst. God has created women in such a way that we innately need others in our lives in order to live a well rounded happy existence. Whether we like to admit it or not. Those who we include in our close circles will be part of the catalyst to where we are going in the future. That's why it's so important to include women who are in different stages and seasons of life. Include women who have a track record of living life to it's fullest and being led by their undying passion for God.

With that in mind, I have asked some women who I absolutely admire different aspect of their life to put together entries on areas where I believe we can gain some beautiful revelation and support for where we are at. In the next few months we will hear from a mother who has 7 grown children and hear what her children have taught her through the years. We will hear from a young adult who is pursuing God with all of her heart for the next stage of life and we will hear from an incredible woman who has come through an amazing trial and hear how she stayed positive and healthy throughout her sickness.

I am so excited to where this blog leads and I pray that through the thoughts, advice and wisdom of other women over the next few months, we will continue to gain revelation to live our womanhood to the fullest!!!

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

I AM A WOMAN!

Hello FRIENDS!!!!

I have decided to take this blog to a broader topic. Something that God has been bringing revelation to is who I am as a woman. I would love to bring you on a continued discovery of who I am and what it means to be a woman and what that looks like in all aspects of life. As a WIFE. As a MOTHER. As a DAUGHTER and as a FRIEND. Now looking at my girls it makes my passion for women to live out their God given role with tenacity a real life opportunity for me to live it out. I have 5 incredible ladies who are looking up to me to find out how they should behave act and be. What a responsibility! I love it. Scary! But LOVE IT!!!

WOOHOOO!!!!

Some topics I would love to hit on are...

Not letting the past dictate your present and future.

Image and how to parent our girls with beautiful inner and outward beauty.

What would you like to read about?

Monday, April 4, 2011

Embracing Marriage


 
 
As we come close to another summer there are many weddings on the horizon. I LOVE weddings!!! There is something about two people looking into eachothers eyes with the glimmer of tears confessing their vows to one another that brings goosebumps all over. It's so beautiful. What an incredible day. The day that you get married. Adam and I will have been married for 8 years as of April 12th. We are still babes to many of you who are years ahead of us. But one thing forsure is I am so thankful for the journey that we have been on together already. When I got married at the age of 19. I knew that it wasn't going to be a walk in the park but I also didn't know what real life actually looked like. I didn't realize that there would be significant bumps in the road. That there would be times of heart wrenching moments through out our life together. Although I was purposeful to embrace what I thought was reality. I also embraced the fantasy that Adam would be perfect and that I would be a perfect wife for him. Hahaha! Life is an incredible journey and so is marriage. What I am learning now in year 8 is that the passion that I felt for Adam in the begining in a strange and dynamic way is still the same passion I feel for him now. Even though I now know that he's not perfect and that I have messed up so many moments. God has given us so many revelations on what marriage is and how to do it the best way possible through many avenues. Through others in our lives, through the bible and through worked out issues between us. Here are a couple of things that have brought us to this point where we can say honestly, that we are more in love now than we were 8 years ago.


 #1 Unity Completely connected to eachother no matter what the situation or circumstances might come into play. How do you create unity? With the realization that whatever is going on, being connect is ultimately your #1 priority. Lay down pride and create your precursers. I love you, I want the best for you and I want the best for our marriage. Never say or purpose to bring the other partner down but do everything in your power to lift the other half up, whether it is in a challenge a confrontation or an encouragement. The goal is to create unity, not to make yourself feel better at the expense of the other. Stay as far away from selfishness as possible. Selfishness kills relationships.


#2 Cherish Going beyond just loving someone. Showing your spouse that you truly embrace who they are as a person and what they bring to your life. How do you cherish your spouse? You take the time to think about them. Put yourself in their shoes. Even when you don't feel like it do something special. Laugh with your spouse. Cry with your spouse. Tell them often why you love them and what you like about them in detail. Touch everyday. Kiss everyday, even the days you don't feel like it. Find joy in all the little moments with eachother.


 #3 Passion The way you show your husband or wife that you love them. How do you show passion? Passion is multi-faceted. Keep your physical relationship a priority. Love on eachother often. Be extravagant with your praise and with your challenge. The passion that you show with your spouse when you are happy with them should be the same passion you show when you see something that will effect your relationship negatively. If its a big deal let it be a BIG DEAL! Don't let things fester under the surface. Always deal with issues. (Of course while being in unity and cherishing eachother)


#4 Strength Being the support to your spouse when they are weak. Don't allow yourself to become selfishly motivated when your husband or wife is going through a rough patch. Embrace the saying when you are weak I am strong. Know that we all have times of sadness, depression and fatigue. Stay strong and support by staying in unity (humility), cherishing (supporting and loving) and showing passion (in encouragment and loving challenge). Also acknowlege when you are weak and thank your spouse for being there when you needed them.


#5 Relationships Staying connected to others. A good marriage is never accomplished alone. You are only as strong as those that you are connected too. Surround yourself with those who have the same values and beliefs as you. Have others in your life that you look up to and respect. Be purposeful in asking questions and being open about where you are at even if you are going through hard times. Have those who have a younger relationship in your life. You always have tips you can give ;) and it brings reminders of where you have come from and the memories that you have built together.


#6 Goals Make goals together. Whether its individual goals and desires or family goals. Do it together so you are able to support eachother to see the goals accomplished. Rejoice in every accomplishment. It's a big deal. Show in your actions how important your relationship is by staying aware of eachothers passions and desires.


Finally and most importantly,


 #7 God Belief and trust in God. Knowing that he has all the revelation and support that you need to keep your relationship strong. As you live life together aimed at a higher purpose than yourself you are able to stay away from selfishness and create a beautiful love story. Refinement is always to come. I love embracing what I can to become a better wife to my husband. I am excited to learn more lessons and to gain a greater revelation on what it takes to keep our marriage strong. I encourage all you who are married to keep your marriage strong and a priority. And all you who are looking to get married. Learn lots, practise lots, continue to grow and never listen to the negative opinions on marriage. You can have passionate relationship to last a life time!!! For all you who have been married for longer. I would love to hear you thoughts and advice to add to my 8 years!!!