Saturday, March 25, 2017

My Mandy Memories

Last week, on Tuesday March 21st, Mandy Kelly, her husband, her 9 year old daughter and her 10 month old son all died in a tragic house fire.  Her 16yo daughter and 12yo son escaped along with her husband's mother. {News video link here.}  I am in shock.  I know her through Good Morning Girls {GMG}, which is the online bible study I've been a part of for over 5 years.  She was a gifted blogger at Worshipful Living so in honor of her memory, many of us bloggers are coming together to share what we've learned from Mandy.

From Mandy's Facebook page
Since joining GMG, I have been on a private Facebook group for leaders.  It's a great resource and a wonderful support system which I've been pretty active on from the very beginning.  Courtney Joseph is the creator of Good Morning Girls but for the past couple years she's had four women help with running the online outreach portion.  At one point those girls needed extra help so I, along with some other ladies were their support; we were called "Helping Hands" {HH} on the Leadership Group.  We answered people's questions, shared helpful links, commented on our daily reading and offered prayer support.  The leadership coordinator was Mandy Kelly. Because of my role in the leaders group and HH, Mandy and I had many private conversations.  One of the first was when she wanted me to be on the HH team!  I was honored!

One of my responsibilities was helping with the prayer requests.  I had an organized system for tracking them all and Mandy asked me to write a guest post on her blog explaining my method. {Click HERE to read about it on Mandy's blog.}

I prayed for Mandy through many things, from GMG leadership concerns to personal requests like waiting to adopt a baby.  {Just to give a bit of background, Mandy was single for a long time and married Scott, a widower with three children.  They married but felt led to adopt a baby.}  One night a couple years ago I sent her a private message to say I was praying:

That was back in 2015 when she was "matched" with a girl.  The birth mom ended up changing her mind right after the birth and Mandy had already met the baby.  It was a heart-breaking but Mandy always trusted God's timing.  You can read the blog post HERE where she wrote about how she felt after this happened.  Despite the pain, Mandy trusted that God was at work and we all continued praying for His perfect timing for her family to grow.  God answered all our prayers last year!  Little Judah was born, and it was awesome to see her get the longing of her heart fulfilled via adoption.

I never met Mandy but I am going to miss her so much.  The GMG leaders group is not going to be the same without her.  She was such an encouragement, and people are sharing lots of stories of what she meant to them.  Many stories on her Facebook profile are from people she knew in real life but there are a bunch of us online who never met her.  Similarly, we have "Mandy Memories" to add to her treasure box o' influence!  She invested TIME and put out lots of love even with little comments like this that made me smile when I was having a bum day.
One thing I've learned from Mandy's early death is that I too have LIMITED time on earth.  I don't know when my last day will be so when I tuck my kids in each night, it will be with more love and not so rushed.  {The fire happened through the night so I want my last moments with my family to be good.}
I want to live my life WELL like she did.  I want to LOVE the people in my life better too.  The stories and photos that are all over her Facebook profile and blog page are so sweet and encouraging. She really poured God's love into everyone she knew!  She paid it forward if you will!
And lastly, just a little lighter... I've been praying for direction with my blog and I know now that I want to continue to write. I enjoy it and if something does happen to me sooner than later, it's nice to know that this could be like a memory album for my kids and family.

Mandy's blog is Worshipful Living and what a treat her posts are now that she's gone.  She posted tons of videos if you wanted to hear her speak.  I told her I liked her voice... rusty little tone to it.  Her Facebook page is good too and she scheduled a bunch of posts so they are still publishing even though she's gone.  Some have been oh so applicable.  She encourages us on earth even though she's left us!
Facebook Page:

All she wanted to to do was sow seeds of faith wherever she went.  She definitely touched my life as a wonderful example of a faithful follower of Jesus.  She loved God with her whole heart and it overflowed to everyone she met, in person and online.

Mandy... I will worship with my life too.  Thanks for being a great example!!

Please pray for the kids left behind.  Mandy was their 2nd mother.  They lost their birth mom a few years ago so they and their whole family have been through so much loss already.  Thankfully they are leaning on God for strength.

If you wish to support the Kelly Family, their church is accepting donations.
Go to: 
Click on the green "Give" button and designate your donation for The Kelly Family.  

I appreciate you reading my thoughts as I wanted to contribute to the treasure of "Mandy Memories" that are being passed around.  

Rest well good and faithful servant.

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Thursday, February 23, 2017

2017 Volume 3

Read the post below or listen to me read it to you on SoundCloud:  {CLICK HERE}
Where has the time gone?!  February is zipping by as fast as January!  I have been so busy but I wanted to share some updates before the month was gone.

I mentioned before about trying to eat healthy but I struggle with consistency.  Remember that clean eating challenge?  Ya.. failed miserably.  Doesn't help that my schedule got busier!  I just default back to what I know, and what I know isn't the best.  Still decent but much room for improvement.  I'll keep chugging along on that endeavor but am not obsessing about it.  

We got snow and the kids enjoyed playing in it.  I dreamed of a mudroom or a nicer entry way because my living room often looks like a closet exploded.  I'm trying to not freak about it but umm... about once a month, I blow a gasket.  Darn hormones.  I had hoped my kids would be magically cleaner as they got older but it's complete opposite.  All those nights tidying before bedtime have amounted to NOTHING!  Even with the kids ages soon to be 12, 10 & 7, they pretty much need their life threatened to clean up around here!  We've had a monetary system in place for a couple years but that doesn't motivate them unless there is something that are itching to buy.  

So Momma copes by eating, making cards and making her nails pretty with glitter.  Oh and wine.  Did I mention that I buy it by the box now?  *wink*

I got this great shirt below from Walmart of all places! I love it!  I felt happy in it all day.  I want to dress happier. Kimmy Schmidt from Unbreakable inspires me.  I might not go all out 90s but a splash here and there of color and whimsy is on my mind!

PEOPLE, He-man and She-ra are on Netflix!!!  I watched an episode of each with my sick son a few days ago and it was pretty funny.  What's with He-man's hair?  And Skeletor called someone a boob which actually made me laugh.  Oh 80s, you make me smile.

We got snow.  We live in CT.  Snow is almost gone.  My little garden gnome "Hal" {short for jalepeno - bc of his hat} popped up through the snow.  He's braving it outside all year round because his owner is lazy and didn't clean up in the fall.  Meh... maybe next year.  Hope he survives.

I went on a date with my hot man last weekend!  We went to see Us The Duo at Mohegan Sun.  They opened for Pentatonix who my daughter and I saw back in November.  I fell in love with their music and was THRILLED they were touring.  I took lots of pics and posted my favs on Instagram because they always pic a fan's photo to share on their feed.
They didn't choose mine but they did like and comment on my pics!  They are sooo good with connecting with their fans.  They genuinely are so grateful for our support.  They are a married couple with beautiful harmonizing voices and they both many multiple instruments.  You gotta check them out!  {links below}
Well that's about it for this volume o' updates.  Hope you are staying cozy wherever you are.

My card page on Facebook:
My Instagram:
Us The Duo:

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Tuesday, January 24, 2017

2017 Volume 2

What!?  Can you believe the end of January is almost here?  I can't even get over how fast time is passing.  Woah slow down!  Here's an update as inspired by my Instagram feed...

Although we are eating more good food and healthy meals, I might have bought Oreos last week!  We are far from perfect but we are eating more fruit and veggies and reading more labels so that's progress!  I am also avoiding drive thrus and we as a family are eating out much less.  I bought a frozen pizza for those nights I don't want to cook and eventually we'll upgrade to making homemade, but for now, I am not stressing out about things.  I've made things like homemade chicken soup, coconut lime sauce on chicken, homemade tomato pasta sauce, BBQ chicken, and Indian curry in the past week for supper.

I posted three pictures about my kids.  When I checked on them before going to bed, I found one with his little foot sticking out over the edge of the bed.  First of all, I would NEVER sleep like that!  Something might grab it!  Haha... childhood fears live on.  And second of all, why is it that innocent moments like this just make my heart want to burst with love?

I am so grateful to raise these kids but man do they drive me crazy with their bickering lately!  They respond to one another with disdain and impatience.  There has been a shift in my home.  The kids all have birthdays coming up and they'll be 12, 10 & 7.  They don't play the way they used to with one another or do imaginative play as much.  (Well the youngest does!  He's the master when it comes to creativity!).  They are getting older and as they grow, our family dynamics are changing.  I sat them down this weekend and pointed out the changes.  I also told them that they are driving me crazy with how they interact.  I don't want to live in a home where we are all fighting and competing with one another.  I reminded them that they are each my child and I love them and it hurts my heart to hear how they treat one another.  Inspired by my youngest's homeroom teacher, I decided to implement a clip chart.  Simple but hey I made it in like 5 minutes with an extra tape measure I had.

They clip up an inch when I see them getting along and being respectful.  If they fight, they clip down.  And because I have my own issues to work on, they get a bonus of clipping up if I loose my cool.  I can't expect behavior from them if I don't model it myself.  I also suggested we come up with a physical sign we can do if we are feeling frustrated rather than yell.  Lance came up with sticking out our tongue while giving the thumbs up on both hands. It looks ridiculous but we've been doing it and it certainly cools the atmosphere.  LOL!  I 've been doing it too except I clasp my hands together.  I told them that I want to remember to pray during those times because I can't do it on my own.  I need God's strength to relax and be calmer. As for rewards, when they get to 30, we get to do something fun together... Read on...

I mentioned that the kids don't play like they used to.  They don't get lost in imaginative play like before so they are "bored" more.  Their demands for game and gadget time has increased.  I am trying to limit their electronic time after reading articles from sources like Dr. Dunckley {link below} who writes about the affects it has on kids brain development.  So if I want to keep them {and myself} off screens, then we have to DO more preferably away from the house.  I took them out last weekend to open play at a local gymnastics center.  It was a really great time.  Things cost money so that is why I started the clip up chart too.  They have to earn the outings that cost money like bowling, ice-skating, rollerskating, open gym, etc.  I have a million things I can do at home so it's good for me to get out too.  Plus I really like my family and want to spend more quality time with them but you just gotta be intentional with this stuff.  Time passes too quickly with nothing to show for otherwise!

The picture of the Starbucks cup was taken at Target.  I needed a few things but since we had nothing going on, I let the kids hang out in the toy aisles. Weekends when my husband works can be lonely so sometimes I do stuff like that just to pass the time.  Ironically, we bumped into friends so had a great visit while the kids played.

The picture that says: "A heart of gratitude is a heart of worship" was one that I made after my quiet time today.  I read 1 Samuel 12:24 that reads, "Be sure to fear the Lord and faithfully serve Him.  Think of all the wonderful things He has done for you."  In the thinking of the wonderful things, I was just stirred to remember how important it is to have a heart of gratitude, no matter your circumstances.  We lost power and I thanked God for a house sheltered from the elements and kids who didn't wake up afraid.  In moments like that I find myself praising God for His provision rather than cursing Him for what I'm lacking.  That principle can be applied to so many things and I want to be sure to carry that attitude of gratitude with me wherever I go.

That's the quick of it around here.  A Parenting Endeavor!  Hope you all have a great week and here are links to things I mentioned:

Dr. Dunckley
Good Morning Girls bible study
My Instagram Account

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Tuesday, January 10, 2017

2017 Volume 1

Welcome to 2017!  As the years pass by and times and technology changes, I feel that my blog might be evolving too.  I still don't know how it's going to look but for now I thought I'd share what's going on by posting a peek at my Instagram posts.  Instagram is so easy!  I love photography and it's a SIMPLE way to share!  No multi-step, multi-page busyness that leaves my brain feeling scattered.  {My profile is listed below if you wanted to follow me.}

My friend Becky {link below} has created a photo challenge with a theme a day.  This gives some focus to my Instagram posts.  I am not doing it every single day.  If inspiration strikes then great, but I'm not putting too much pressure on myself with this one!  I really like the key words she came up with though.

I have signed up to cut out processed food with Lisa Leake of "100 Days of Real Food".  My goal isn't to eliminate it at this point but to greatly reduce it and find healthy alternatives to the way we eat.  I have been doing lots of things in the past few years but I have so much to learn!  Check out her website {listed below} for free recipes and lots of food ideas!  I've been following her for a couple years but now own her cookbook and am using more of her recipes.

I am cooking and baking A LOT more.  More time in the kitchen is key to eating better.  Last weekend I made cinnamon rolls from scratch for the first time.  I didn't roll them tight enough and they popped up in the center but they were still delicious!

I get most of my groceries at ALDI.  They have a growing organic section so when I get a chance to "vote" between two options, I try to choose organic.  I am not doing this 100% of the time but am making more healthy choices every day.  I see progress so I can easily down four Oreos and not feel guilty!

We got lots of snow recently after a rather brown winter.  I am in awe of God and His creation whenever I look out my window.

On Monday, I started another bible study with the online group, Good Morning Girls.  January marks five years that I have been doing this format!  I am grateful for my little private online Facebook group and the girls who encourage me along the way.

That's the scoop for this week!
I hope everyone stays warm and healthy!

Links I mentioned:
My Instagram Account
100 Days of Real Food
Becky L McCoy
Good Morning Girls

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