Love, Juliebug: August 2015
As a person, I tend to be hyper-critical of myself. I have these expectations to never appear foolish, or stupid. As a mom, I fear I've carried this over into parenting. The fear of others opinions finds its way into my heart, head, and voice without me realizing it. I get impatient, cranky, and sometimes, I know, my words make my daughter feel like she can do no right. It breaks my heart and leads to repentance. 

The good news? Today is a new day. I can't change how I acted then but today I can choose to love my daughter (and husband) like God loves each of us. So, here are some phrases that will build up your children's hearts instead of tearing them down.

You are important to me.

I am listening.

I love you as you are.

I trust you.

You are not alone.

I'm proud of you.

Don't give up.

I will always love you.

There's nothing I'd rather be doing right now.

There's no rush.

Keep up the good work.

I'm so glad I'm your mom.

Seeing you makes my heart happy.

Mistakes are a part of growing up. 

My prayer is that the damage I may have done with my words, fears, and critical spirit would be healed. Because honestly, I want to have a special relationship with my daughter...not control her. Not make her afraid of me. Or, afraid of making mistakes. She is a blessing to our family and I want her to truly believe that.

More from Julie:
All Things Lovely

As you can imagine, the last few weeks have been crazy. I'll explain below though if you've been following my blog at all they will not be a surprise to you!

1. Abby is seven now. She had two parties, including one that was a surprise to the both of us, thanks to my awesome friend Heather!

2. She has also started first grade. This is her third day. She is loving school and the new freedoms she has as a first grader.

3. Homework will start on the second week. I don't expect she will love this part of first grade.

4. Living away from family and friends is always hard but even harder sometimes. I miss them all.

5. If you are a friend or family member of mine, don't be surprised if you get a note from me soon. I'm back to my card sending self. I love keeping in touch the "old-fashioned" way.

6. The weather here has been odd. Some days have been over 90 but then today is 77. Variety is the spice of life, I guess.

7. I've been trying to not be tied to my phone as much. Between that and the fact that it dies fast - sometimes I miss a call or two. Or, five. Sorry babe.

8. Remember the chocolate ganache I tried to make for Abby's birthday cake? Yeah. That didn't turn out. Apparently, you can heat the chocolate/cream mixture too much. Oops.

9. Abby and I (and all the other parents & kids at her school) got caught in a vicious sort of downpour yesterday. Then, the second we got in the car it died down. We. were. drenched.

10. Our house is the cool place to be. Well, if you are wasps. Why do these things keep hanging out here and building nests? The gutter near our front door is especially tempting for them but they will settle for the underside of our recycle bin handle. Anyone have tips for me?

11. The other night I put on Pandora's Rockabye Baby station for Abby to fall asleep to. They play popular music without words in lullaby form. I almost fell over when they played "Ragdoll" by Aerosmith. The words were going through my brain but at least Abby had no clue that was a highly inappropriate lullaby song. 

12. Our dog is a stinker. He gets mad about something and rebels by dragging something outside. 

13. I made a yummy stir-fry last night with beef, broccoli, and zucchini (from our garden!) Everyone loved it even the 7 year old who "hates" zucchini!

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The day we had been counting down to finally happened. This girl is in first grade and doesn't she look excited?

Oh yes, she was floating on a cloud yesterday morning. She patiently let her Momma take a billion photos and then we went off to school. After playing for about fifteen minutes the bell rang. She gave me a huge hug and went right into her line like she's been in first grade for months. The class was about to start walking in and, just to make me miss her even more, she blew me a kiss. 

*Cue heart melting moment.*

It felt so odd to walk off the playground with nobody by my side again. But, I walked away saying a prayer for my sweet, big girl. During the school year I have decided it's important for me to set an alarm to remind me to get the girl from school. Not that I would forget about her but that I tend to lose track of time.

At our school quite a few parents gather on the playground to wait for their kiddos. Last year, being in Kindergarten, we had to wait a few minutes or more until the teachers brought the children out in a line. This year, she is able to come out pretty much immediately. I could tell she was pretty excited about that as well as seeing me.

She told me her favorite part of the day was math and that makes me smile because it is definitely a new development. I can tell she feels quite proud to be in first grade as she keeps telling me things that are different this year. "Did you know we are allowed to have flip top water bottles at their desk?" and "We are allowed to bring lip balm this year!" 

I am looking forward to seeing how her year develops but it is off to the right start. How are your kiddos doing with school so far?

More from Julie:
I have no excuse for my absence. Actually, I do. I've been cleaning. Deep cleaning. Like some people do in the spring. I've told you before I'm a procrastinator alright? A touch of my OCD has been rearing it's ugly head. Along with anxiety and a smidge of depression. Is smidge a word? No matter. I'm beginning to really believe that you are what you eat. Which leads us to this point.

I have not been eating well. 

I've been eating quite poorly actually. Not in quantity, oh no, but low in nutritional value for sure. My habits are back. Overeating anything that doesn't move except lots of fruits and veggies. Not moving my body. Forgetting my value in God's eyes.

The last one is probably key. In fact, I know it is. That's what happens when you stop growing in the faith. You don't sit where you left off. You drift backward uncontrollably. All those victories I experienced, and I don't just mean weight loss, have vanished in front of my eyes. Things like not eating my emotions, and trusting God.

I've been really "good" about praying for others lately. Not even a smidge (there's that word again) good about praying for myself and my struggles. Or, about spending time in the word. I need to center myself back on God. It's not about being a good Christian woman. It's not about checking off an item on a list. It's about connecting to the heart of God. 

I realize there have been a lot of seemingly "good" Christians in the news lately. The word hypocrite comes into play. And, while I would not excuse the actions of those people it does make me think. 
Every human is exactly that. Human. Even when someone accepts Christ into their life, they are still human. Still sinful by nature. We have been forgiven (and will always be so) but we still struggle. We do things that we despise and cannot help ourselves. 
For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do--this I keep on doing. -Romans 7:19
Others may see our behavior as hypocritical. I think it really depends on each persons heart. If we are sinning and could not care less and yet we still speak of others needing to repent then, yes, we are being hypocrites. If we are sinning and it breaks our heart each time, then I think we are in a different category entirely.

Why am I even talking about all this? We need to think before we judge someone else. We don't know their hearts. We can only guess. And, we are rarely right. Let's leave the judgement to God. There is so much hate and sin in this world but because of God there is beauty too. It's such a twisted sort of puzzle.

I will never understand it all on this side of Heaven. And, the older I get the more okay I am with that.

More from Julie:
I just put my six year old to bed for the last time. In the morning she will be seven. I remember life before her. Barely. We had been married for 11 years, wanting a child so badly. I went through all the stages of...what else can I call it but grief. Each home pregnancy test that was negative nearly broke my heart. I prayed to God. Yelled at God. I even stopped talking to Him at times. Everyone else's pregnancy announcement brought joy and also shot an arrow through me. 

We had joined a bible study group but it was more than a bible study group. It was a family of sorts. A family learning together and praying together. We asked for prayer about fertility treatments. I know I cried many times while sharing my heart. Part of me was afraid to feel hope. The other part was strengthened by the community of believers God had surrounded us with.

So, when we found out we were expecting they were some of the first people that we told. Their continued prayers brought the peace of God to us throughout the pregnancy despite complications at the end.

After her birth it took awhile before I could truly believe she was ours. God had answered our prayers in a great way. Whether we ever have another child, I am thankful and blessed to call this girl my daughter. She is so sweet, loving, and joyous. 

I love her to the moon and back.

More from Julie:

It's easy to say we are over something. An emotion. A fight. Abuse. Addiction. It is easy to say and so much harder to live out. Moving on without dealing with it is impossible. Part of our soul stays stuck. Immovable in it's grief. We may not recognize it for years but then it pops up again out of the blue. 

It's so much worse for people who stuff things inside. Are you like that? I know I am. I stuff. I say I'm fine. I try to make myself believe it. In the end, usually after a binge, I realize the truth. Why do I stuff things down inside as if I can't handle it? Oh wait, I know this one. It's because I am trying to deal with it all by myself instead of entrusting it to the One who can not only handle it but take it completely from me. 

Getting beyond something requires thinking. Feeling. And, usually, prayer. It comes with understanding what we felt and why as well as why that feeling doesn't need to be with us anymore.

Is there anything you need to get beyond?

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We have two weeks until school starts. First grade. This momma's heart is emotional. I'm so proud of the girl she is becoming. So very proud. At the same time I am in denial. How can it be possible she is almost seven and almost a first grader?

We just went to her school for reading assessment for first grade. They had her read half a book to herself and half aloud. Then, she had to answer questions about it as well as copy a verbal sentence to paper. The teacher came out with a thumbs up and told us to "keep up the good work". I am so proud of our girl.

So, summer is almost over for us. I'm not ready for that either. It means snow is not too far away. Most likely we have about two months until our first snow. Shh. I can't believe I said that! We haven't done a lot of swimming this summer. I'm not sure why except that the only place we can go (without paying extra) is the Y. That would be fine but their hours stink. 3-5:30 pm is their open swim with additional evening hours. I want early daytime hours. Oh well.

What have you been doing with your summer? Leave me a note below telling me of your exciting tales! 

More from Julie:
All Things Lovely
Another week, another Thursday Thirteen! And, once again, we have gone completely random.

1. I don't know if I've said this recently but I am so in love with that man of mine. I'm proud of who he is and how hard he works for our family.

2. Did I mention that our girl asked for a real cell phone for her birthday? Um, not happening but nice try. 

3. Speaking of our girl, this parenting thing is not always easy. Not for me. I feel like I have a pre-teen sometimes. That's all I'll say about that.

4. One of my favorite summer treats is Hawaiian shaved ice and we've only had it once this summer. I consider that a good thing as I'm sure that much sugar is not on my new eating plan.

5. I have once again found an awesome new station on Pandora. Wait for it - Simon & Garfunkel. I know, I know. I LOVE it though. It's relaxing.

6. I've been staying up too late again lately. Ugh. I don't know why I do that to myself. I need to make my bedtime 10 pm but I often find it to be midnight.

7. This week Abby has been going to Vacation Bible School. She loves it and looks forward to it every summer.

8. I need a way to make myself drink more water. I went through this day having maybe a glass. It's not even like I've been necessarily replacing it with another drink. Dehydrated much?

9. I've been loving a new app on my Android called First 5. It is awesome and all about giving God the first five minutes of your day. I will admit it isn't always the first five minutes of my day but there is such great insight and community on that app.

10. I'm having a giveaway for my friends and readers in the Colorado/Wyoming delivery area for Door to Door Organics. I am so excited to be working with this company!

11. I haven't been able to get into reading much lately where as a month or so ago I couldn't stop. Not sure why but maybe I need book suggestions...and GO!

12. I made my own chicken broth from a whole chicken this week and it is amazing. Very garlicky and flavorful.

13. Abby has not so subtly requested a chocolate cake for her birthday. Anyone have a good recipe to recommend? I'm trying to find a good, moist (ugh - that word!), easy cake.

More from Julie:
If you're like me you are always trying to find ways for you and your family to eat healthier. I think most of us know that organic fruits and veggies are a key to a healthier lifestyle. What if I told you there was an easy and cost-effective way to get your organic fruits, vegetables, and even more?

It exists! It's called Door to Door Organics. Usually when I check into a company they aren't available in Wyoming. When I found out they were available in my area I almost cried. Happy dance!
Door to Door Organics lives up to its name. They are a subscription service so you start by selecting the size of your produce box. You can pick all veggie, all fruit or a combination of the two. Then, choose the size box that works best for your household as well as the frequency.

The cool thing about Door to Door Organics is this: you can customize your box by substituting up to five items. Say you are scheduled to receive brussel sprouts and the sight of them makes you gag, well, you can simply pick another item. Also, you can add things to your order such as dairy, meats, fish, additional produce, pantry items and prepared meals. 

For our family I thought the small mixed box would be a perfect fit. I also picked some additional items; Eggs, Grass-Fed Ground Beef, Organic Split Chicken Wings, Local Meat Lovers' Variety Pack, Garlic & Herb Cream Cheese, Sourdough Sandwich Bread, and Whole Milk.

In our area delivery is scheduled for Wednesdays so I only had to wait a couple days for my order. When the day finally came I didn't have to wait long to spy the Door to Door Organics van in front of our house. Look what they left!

Three big beautiful boxes of goodies! The amazing thing was how well everything was packaged.

Nothing was broken or spoiled. It was very carefully packaged. And do you want to see my haul? Well, here it is!

Everything was such high quality and so fresh. It tasted much better than the items I normally would buy in the store and did I mention it was delivered to my doorstep?!

Because I love you and the company is amazing, I have two surprises for you today. 

#1 - I have $10 off your first Door to Door Organics order! Simply click HERE to start. 

#2 - We have a $50 Door to Door Organics gift certificate to giveaway! **The giveaway is open to those that either live or work in Colorado/Wyoming in their delivery area.**

You can check if you are eligible HERE. The giveaway runs from today until 8/13/15. Enter below and good luck!

More from Julie:

These are lyrics from a song I adore by Britt Nicole called The Lost Get Found. It's lyrics echo one of my core fears...standing out. As a kid I remember wishing to blend in. To not be seen. I was picked on quite a bit and being a sensitive child, it stung badly. It stayed with me for days, weeks, months, even years. I also wished for red hair and green eyes because, yeah, THAT would make me invisible. But whatever. 

How could I, or can I, want to blend in and also want to be noticed? To be special? The two don't coexist. Either I want to be a wallflower or the singer on the stage. Either I want to open myself up to the possibility of criticism and get freedom in the process or lock myself up in my house, wasting away. If nobody sees you, sees your story, sees how far you've come, then it is all wasted. There are people out there that need to hear about your struggle and how you got past it. How God got you past it. Because that breeds hope for them. 

And, that's how the lost get found.

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