Thursday, July 18, 2013

I've Changed My Mind

Over the past year, well, really two years, I've been under going a caterpillar like transformation.

I've become an adult. Like, a real one. Having children, buying a house, being married-the whole package. Um, reverse that order.

I've also learned that I've got incredible power and strength. I've found out that I'm an amazing person. I'm not saying this to sound arrogant or proud, I'm saying this because it's true of all of us!

I noticed during the beginning parts of being a mom, when all those sleepless nights seemed to drag on for weeks, months and even years, that I just kind of was lost.

I felt at times, I wanted to be joyful, but found myself being hateful and jealous instead.

I would see photos of other people on family vacations on Facebook, and as much as I wanted to be happy for them, I just sat there and was just so jealous!

Jealous is an evil thing. No good comes from it. I am a big runner, so let me put this analogy into a form that I can relate.

When I found myself in jealous feelings and thought, I realized that, for me, it was like running circles around a track. The two mile, or even the one mile run around the track, just kind of sucked for me. 

The two mile was always the first even at our track meets. This event always seemed to be the one no one cared about, and honestly, I always kind of felt like someone was just kind of laughing at me as I would pass them and do laps.
Just like a track, running circles in a hamster wheel gets you no where.

Jealous is a lot like that-you keep circling around and around and around. You keep seeing the same things and keep feeling the same things and it never gets better. You're in the unloved event. Sometimes it seems like it's the most pointless two miles ever. 

Every once in a while, you'd have a friend try and cheer you on for a few laps, but they never really stayed for the whole course. I can't say I blame them. It gets old.

So does feeling and thinking jealously.

I've learned on those days, when I was running around the jealousy track, that Bitterness and Hate would always show up to be my only cheerleaders. The Enemy at his finest. You know, when that's who you have cheering you on, you find that you will run yourself into the ground. When you cross the finish line and turn back to look at them, they're both just standing there clapping their hands, laughing at you. See it doesn't bother Bitterness or Hate. In fact, they loved it! They knew the longer you circled around that track and them, the worse off you'd feel when you finally stopped, and they knew exactly how you'd affect everyone else in your life because of it.

They're really sneaky. 

I was absolutely tired of letting something so small and insignificant steal my joy. Besides, there will always be someone who has a "nicer" house, "better" car, "more talent," and so on and so forth.

Besides stealing my joy about life, I noticed that I was poisoning my relationships around me. I wasn't being thankful for the amazing job my God does at providing for us. I wasn't thankful to husband for all his hard work, that he does every day.

I needed to start transforming my mind! I found Dr. Caroline Leaf's program-The 21 Day Brain Detox. Wow! I watched this video on her first, and I was just floored. She explains amazing scientific discoveries in a very simple way!

The toxic thoughts we have in our brains, like jealousy, hate and all the rest of the negative junk, affect our brains AND bodies in a negative way! But, we as amazing, God created beings, can actually change the way we think!! We are not victims about how our brain thinks, WE CONTROL OUR BRAINS! Not the other way around.

I thought, "This is exactly what I need!" I started this program two months ago and I have absolutely noticed a huge difference!

I have been able to completely kill of those thoughts of jealousy. I have noticed that I am so much happier for EVERYONE! Including myself.

I can see people that get a new home and think, "That's just so awesome for them! They totally needed it!"

Someone else gets a new job I can easily say, "I'm so thankful that God blessed them and they have something so wonderful!" And most importantly, I sincerely mean all of those things. I can say it with a heart filled smile. It isn't generic. It is genuine.

Day by day, with her program I totally started to see myself killing all these nasty things.

Again, using a running analogy, I ran cross country as well. With feelings and thoughts of Jealousy, it was like running two miles around a circle track. You never went anywhere. You just finished and felt tired and exhausted and just "Eh."

But, after starting and finishing this program, I noticed that it was a lot like a cross country race. I may have run two miles, but I got to see so many cool things along the way. 
Beautiful possibilities of countryside.
Sometimes, when I was running, I would find myself so amazed at the landscape that it was hard not to be drawn to the beauty of the countryside. Or laugh at a cow that you'd just passed by!

In cross country races you'd find yourself running up and downhills, around buildings, going here there every where! Kind of like a Dr. Seuss book. I remembered when I finished the race I had such a sense of accomplishment and it was always fun to see all the different people cheering you on! No one got bored watching you run circles, no-your friends would run to keep up with you! They'd race around the track to keep cheering you on.

When you were done, you were smiles. You knew where you started and you knew exactly how far you'd gone. 

That's what this program does. It takes you on a journey-it helps you conquer your hills and it cheers you on along the way. I makes you enjoy the journey and discover things along the way that make you realize how awesome and how much power you really have!

Additionally, you help to change the people around you. When you start to become a non-jealous person, filled with positive thoughts, you attract more people to you. People who want that feeling too!

I'm already almost done with my second toxic thought and I can't wait to just keep continuing my positive journey! Life doesn't seem to be the rat race it once was. I have an incredible sense of peace now. Joy. God has truly blessed me and my family! I have fully started to appreciate all his Glory and Wonder for our lives and those around us! What an amazing thing to feel.

If you are struggling with these same types of thoughts, try this program! I promise you, you will see the difference in your life!!!  This might be one of those things that I need to "giveaway," on my blog, because this is really what my life and journey on here has been all about.

Be the change that needs to happen. Be the change for someone else. Let's help each other!

Have you had thoughts that you've struggled with that just affect your whole life? Your relationships? Do you ever just feel tired of thinking and feeling that way? 

I'd love to hear your stories or comments. Have you heard of her program and tried it?

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We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.
2 Corinthians 10:5 (NIV)

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Thursday, July 11, 2013

Children's Ministry: Jesus Gets Excited When We Pray!

Looking for some fun lessons for teaching children (and getting them excited!) about Jesus, can kind of be difficult. Especially when you have children in your classroom that can range in age from three months to almost 6th grade.

I found this on Pinterest- Fizzy Forgiveness Prayer Station.

What I really loved about this was the fact that you can take something relatively easy to find (fizzy tablets) and turned it into something really cool!

Kids LOVE fizz. Even I as an adult, feel child like exuberance when I see fizz. There is something just so awesome about effervescence. 

I took this fizz idea and made it my own. Sometimes to come up with a cool idea, we just need a little help from above-and others!

My lesson was to teach children about prayer. I don't think you can stress enough, the importance of building a strong relationship with our Lord. Prayer does this along with reading His word.

Welcome to the lesson of:
 "Jesus Gets Excited When You Pray!"

I used 1 Timothy 2:1-6 (NLT). I wanted to stress that Jesus hears all prayers, not just prayers that come from adults, and we should pray for everyone!

Also, I wanted the children to understand what praying actually means. I looked up and printed out the definition, and some easier words, to help describe what it means to pray.

After we took turns reading and discussion what prayer means and how it applies to the verse I showed the kids what happens when we pray.

I used two glasses and filled them with some regular tap water and for extra "fizz" some sparkling water.

I went to our local City Market and bought these Alka Seltzer generic tablets. We got 30 tables for roughly $2. I wanted to make sure we had enough for two child, at the very least.

I allowed the children to pick what color we would make the water-they chose green, purple. My children at home chose orange.

I had them gather around and I said, "Tell me how this makes you feel." I dropped a tablet into the water and it immediately began to fizz.

The excitement on their faces was extremely evident and also, they said it was pretty cool.

I asked them if it was exciting to watch the fizz, and they all said, "Yes!"

I told them, that every time we pray to Jesus, that's how he feels. He feels excited, because we're building a relationship with him. We're talking to him, we're including him in our lives. Jesus loves us so much and he wants to be a part of our lives.

I handed each kid two tablets (there are two in each pack) and said that each one of us could pray together for someone or about something in their lives. I also gave them personal discretion that if they didn't feel comfortable praying out loud, we would just pray in agreement silently with them.

To watch the kids pray with excitement was just amazing! I know it partly had to do with the fizzy tablets they got to play with, but we also got to watch them gain understanding that praying is a good thing. Praying can be fun!

If it's fun to go to the movies, shouldn't it be fun to spend time praying to God too? I think so!

Also, I told the kids, after we had gotten into a few prayers, that we needed to be quiet and listen. They could hear the fizzing noise in action. I said sometimes that's how God works. He answers our prayers, but sometimes we have to be quiet and listen. God is a gentleman and he never forces us to do anything.

At the end of the class, I allowed the kids to save up their fizzes and they all dropped their remaining ones in together to see if they could over flow the water (which of course they managed to do! I'm pretty sure that was the one silent prayer we had!!).

We finished up the lesson with another coloring page from TwistyNoodle! I mentioned them before in our Lamb of God lesson we did over Resurrection Sunday.

I hope you found this fun and can some how use it to teach your kids about how awesome and amazing Jesus Christ is!

Just an FYI-I have a few left over tablets and I kept the orange glass out for our kids, and when they pray I let them drop a fizz into the water. 

Make sure to monitor your kids too! If you use the alka seltzer tablets, make sure they don't eat them or drink the water that you use. I'm not sure what exactly could happen, but we don't need to try to imagine it either!

Have fun sharing and learning about God! I'd love to hear your ideas or how you've incorporated this into your own lessons and teaching!

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Saturday, July 6, 2013

Colorado Summer Staycation/Bucket List

We're a family of four. Two little ones and two adults. We have crossed over the line in flights, where there are no more "free" lap children in our homes. If you've never flown this means, that each seat we buy will cost us at least $300(+) to go some where. (There are no discounts for children.)

Like a lot of other families, we're sticking close to home. 

We live in Colorado and there is so much to do here! Even as an adult that has lived here for over ten years, I still haven't even scratched the surface of exploring our state and all it has to offer! 

This summer I kind of had a "bucket list" of things to do and experience with the kids. I even have a few "wish list" ideas I'd love to experience with my husband. I have girls weekend ideas also.

A few of these are pretty simple, and some of them just need a little bit more logistical planning. But, none the less, if you're thinking of coming to Colorado, and aren't sure where to go or start, look at a few of my ideas for what to do while you're here!

There are always the same big ideas that come to mind when you think of Colorado vacation-white water rafting, zoos, aquariums, mountains, fishing and camping.

Here are ones that I'd love to do with the kids:

Fishing. (I know, easy isn't it?)

Take a train ride. There are a few different places in the state that you can accomplish this. You can always get a ticket on AmTrack, or you can do a fun mountain ride all over Colorado using one of these amazing railroad companies: Leadville Colorado & Southern Railroad, Royal Gorge Route Railroad, Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad, and Georgetown Loop Railroad.

We are so lucky to have so many unique locations for railroad rides! Even in the fall and winter months, a few of these trains provide amazing views and one even does a "Polar Express" ride! (When the kids are a few years older, we'll take them on that Polar Express Excursion. That movie/book is one of their favorites!)

Mountain Tram rides with a possible cave tour. We've never taken our kids up on top of the mountains. We've driven around them and looked at all the fall foliage, but we've never experienced a gondola/tram ride with them.

We have several that are very close to us, and one that offers a cool cave tour as well! Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park is a really, REALLY cool place to check out. Take a tram ride up to the top and check out the amazing cave tour that promises stalactites and stalagmites galore! Plus, no matter what time of year it is, it's always a consistent temperature of 52 degrees, year round!

They also have an assortment of thrill rides that include an Alpine Coaster (that you can ride with your three year old!), and the Cliffhanger Roller Coaster, which happens to be the highest elevation roller coaster in North America!

Visit the Zoo and Aquarium! The kids loved this last year. So did I, actually. But, this year, we've vowed to NOT go over the Fourth of July, when it's 100 degrees out. The animals don't really do anything when it is that hot out and neither do humans. While we visited Denver Zoo last year, this year we are hoping to check out The Cheyenne Mountain Zoo, in Colorado Springs. We have heard so many wonderful things about this zoo, and it's only $2 to feed the giraffes! (I LOVE giraffes, so I will definitely be spending the extra $2 to partake in this awesome experience!)

We only have one aquarium here in Colorado and our experience with it last year wasn't great, we visited the Downtown Denver Aquarium. But that was mostly because again, it was over Fourth of July, it was unbelievably packed and someone should have told us NOT to bring in our double jogging stroller. The kids couldn't move in and out between the people and, honestly, neither could we. So, we pushed through all the exhibits so quickly because we couldn't see that we didn't really enjoy it.

This year, I'm planning for a different day and time, and NO stroller! 

Bowling. Yea, that one seems a little weird doesn't it? But, I live in the desert. It can easily be 100 degrees here in the afternoon, and 90 degrees by nine o'clock in the morning. With little shade, and it highly advised that between 11 a.m and 4 p.m. we avoid a lot of direct sun for significant period of times.

Bowling is an indoor activity that still requires you to do some actions, and honestly, I loved doing this as a child! I also loved roller skating as a child, and we have a new roller skating rink that is opening up here that I am super excited to try out for date night!! Who else remembers skate-dancing in the 80's????

That for right now pretty much sums up my "kids" to do list. I also have a "parents" one as well.

While we are off doing a lot of these things for us and the kids to enjoy, we also try to plan for things for us as well.

What are some of those things on that list? We LOVE watching Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives. Last year, as we planned our trip to Denver, we also looked up a few of these Triple D visited restaurants. You can check it out by state, so if you're road tripping any where, you can plan your breakfast, lunch and dinner stops accordingly. 

While our youngest had just turned 1, we still wanted it to be fun for all of us. My husband and I honestly had a wonderful time doing this!! The kids were happy with whatever they had, but we got a chance to experience some food that was really fun and funky at times! I think that was probably the best part of our vacation last year, for him. He enjoyed himself so much that this year, he actually talks about going to a few new places to try out their famous specials.

Pro Baja Truck Rental. Ok, this is definitely more for my husband, but I just wanted to show you how extremely diverse Colorado was. Down at Gateway Canyons Resort, they offer a one of a kind Baja Truck Rental experience that can only be found in the likes of other places like California, or Las Vegas. This is a one of a kind experience that is sure to bring a smile to every man's face. (as long as he enjoys this type of high thrill activity!)

Spa Day. Yea, mom is usually really pretty easy! A fun, relaxing spa day with an outdoor massage, facial and total pampering (followed by lunch and long deserved, non disturbed nap) with a friend or three would be the perfect way to help celebrate a day of vacation/staycation!

This list could literally go on forever and ever, depending on the towns you pick to visit and additional things you choose to add on to it. The biggest thing to remember when it comes to summer vacation/staycations to allow extra time for everything and try not to pack it full. Sometimes the best part of the adventure is just enjoying the moments you find yourself in. Even when you don't stick to the schedule.

Life is about enjoying the time you have with the people you're given. Not about how much stuff you squeeze in. Some of my favorite memories with people I love, happened with the weirdest, unplanned, accidents/incidents. Like taking a bus and getting lost in a different part of town. Finding yourself at a restaurant that was closed and searching for something fun and better instead. Finding yourself in a different part of the world, because you allowed yourself just to have fun and go with it. Trust God, he knows how to have a GREAT time on a family vacation!!

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.
Romans 15:13 ESV

I'd love to hear some of your summer Colorado favorites for families!

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