Our Family

Our Family
The Lord is my strength and my shield; my hearts trusts in him, and I am helped. My heart leaps for joy and I will give thanks to him in song. ~ Psalm 28:7

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Scripture to pray over your kids as they embark on another school year


Many are the plans in a {Mother's} heart,
but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails. 

~ Proverbs 19:21


 So I say, live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature.

~Galatians 5:16


Trust in the Lord with all your heart
and lean not on your own understanding;
 in all your ways acknowledge him,
and he will make your paths straight.

~ Proverbs 3:5-6


Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go. 

~ Joshua 1:9


The LORD does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.

~1 Samuel 16:7


God has said, "Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you"..

~ Hebrews 13:5


Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, "This is the way; walk in it."

~Isaiah 30:21


The LORD appeared to us in the past, saying: " I  have loved you with an everlasting love, I have drawn you with loving-kindness."

~ Jeremiah 31:3


 Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be courageous; be strong. 



Then you will go on your way in safety,
and your foot will not stumble.                                                                                                                                             ~Proverbs 3:23


Be shepherds of God’s flock that is under your care, watching over them—not because you must, but because you are willing, as God wants you to be; not pursuing dishonest gain, but eager to serve

~1 Peter 5:2

Know also that wisdom is like honey for you:
If you find it, there is a future hope for you, and your hope will not be cut off.                                                                               ~ Proverbs 24:14





Prayers of Thanksgiving


Lord, you gave us these children for a season, and though we love them with all our hearts can hold, our love is limited; YOUR  love, however, is limitless, and we thank you for giving us the privilege of raising these children.


·      Many are the plans in a {Mother's} heart,
but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails. 

          ~ Proverbs 19:21

Thank you for their health, for their zest for life, even though it often times leaves us tired and spent at the end of the day. Thank you for their eagerness to grow, to explore, to learn..

·      Know also that wisdom is like honey for you:
If you find it, there is a future hope for you, and your hope will not be cut off.                            ~ Proverbs 24:14

Your love is what they need to sustain them as we release them into a world that is unknown. Thank you for giving Your love so freely to ALL of your children.


·      The LORD appeared to us in the past, saying: " I  have loved you with an everlasting love, I have drawn you with loving-kindness."

          ~ Jeremiah 31:3

·      God has said, "Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you"..

          ~ Hebrews 13:5


Prayers of Blessing

Lord, pour out Your blessings on our children and all those they encounter when they leave our hands this school year.

·      Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, "This is the way; walk in it."

          ~Isaiah 30:21

Please bless their teachers, that they may see and appreciate each of our kids for the unique little people they are. Pour Your grace out on the staff who endure all kinds of "baggage" from the many kids who enter their building each day, and whose hearts are exposed daily to weariness we can only imagine.

·      Be shepherds of God’s flock that is under your care, watching over them—not because you must, but because you are willing, as God wants you to be; not pursuing dishonest gain, but eager to serve

          ~1 Peter 5:2


Shine Your love down on the drivers of the buses, who are only with our kids for a little bit each day, but that little bit is so very crucial. Bless the drivers with steady hands and patient hearts.


·      Then you will go on your way in safety,
and your foot will not stumble.                                                                                                                                             ~Proverbs 3:23


Prayers of Petition


Lord, these are YOUR babies first, ours second. Help them to be free from doubt, to be secure in YOUR love when they are faced with fear or pressure that makes them unsure. 


·      Trust in the Lord with all your heart
and lean not on your own understanding;
 in all your ways acknowledge him,
and he will make your paths straight.

          ~ Proverbs 3:5-6



Keep them on Your solid ground, Father. Guide them to find their identity in YOUR eyes, not in the eyes of the world.


·      The LORD does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.

          ~1 Samuel 16:7


Please give them courage to stand strong in their faith, Lord. They will be tested, no doubt. You and the truth in Your word will be their sword and shield.


·      Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be courageous; be strong. 



We ask  for you to provide them discernment in choosing their friends; we pray they seek to not only FIND good roles models, but to BE good role models. We pray for strong, peaceful relationships with their peers and their teachers.  You have crowned them with glory and honor, Lord, as I say again, they were Yours before they were mine.  Lead them in their daily steps.


·      Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go. 

          ~ Joshua 1:9


Father, we ask that You send the Holy Spirit to fill our children, so that when they are faced with a difficult choice, that they might seek Your voice first before heeding to their own desire.


·      So I say, live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature.

          ~Galatians 5:16


 Finally, I ask that you pour out your blessings on the women here, and those who are not, specifically, we lift up to you, Lord, our friends Erin and her boys Liam and Noah; Julia, and her children Taylor and Chet, for Susan as she sets out to teach another year at IUP, Grace and Emma, her girls, Karen's Aunt Nancy, who is also embarking on another (long) year of teaching, Liz and Katie and all their homeschoolers (Rowan, Sawyer, Adam, Hannah, Zeke and Ellie), and Nicole and her girls, Diana, Simone and Camille, as she heeds your voice in her schooling choices this year.


Lord, thank you for drawing these women into my world, for taking care of me, your child, as I seek to take care of the children you have entrusted to me. These women have added light to my days, and for that, I am grateful.  I ask that you lift each of us today, comfort our tears, hold our hearts as we continue to be pruned in this process of letting go. May our conversations today and every day be always for Your glory! We lift these prayers to you, in joy and love and fellowship with one another, all in the name of our Savior, Jesus!


Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Happy Mother's Day, a bit early! I'll be celebrating Mom's day this year with my youngest sis in law and her newly wedded husband, so I thought I'd share this little tidbit from a few years back, when I wrote for the Pennwood Farms Newsletter:)  This was over four years ago, but the memory is still quite vivid!


 The Dandelion Diaries

Four chubby hands shoved fistfuls of bright yellow flowers at me this past week.  The smiles on the faces of my two youngest, both boys, were as sunshine filled as the yellow in the vile weed they clutched in their hands.  Ironically, I was, at that very moment, plotting how to destroy the insidious weeds that were creeping onto our freshly mowed lawn.

The boys would run, barefoot, across the grass, and painstakingly pick one flower at a time. They would trek the entire length of the lot to get the furthest flower, and then run full speed back to the deck, ready and willing to present me with their treasure. “E’re da go, mom; dese foe you!” my 3 year old shouted.  “Momma, wook!!!” squealed my 2 year old with excitement.  This process was repeated until my Dixie cup runneth over with dandelions, some root and all (Thank you, boys!!)

Now up till that moment, my day was filled with “to do” lists, and my mind was revisiting some conversations that left my heart weary.  And in one blissful second, my sweet little boys changed my heart, and the course of my day, and in turn, the way I chose to interact with everyone else from that point on.  I certainly saw the glimpse of Jesus in their eyes as they pulled me out of doldrums of simply “doing” life instead of “living” life. 

I settled my racing thoughts, stopped pouring over the “to do” list (and put down the weed killer!) to allow the beauty of spiritual pruning by a couple of dirty, noisy, weed toting little boys.  And in that moment, I felt the weeds in my day shrivel, as I realized the true beauty of what was before me.  I allowed myself to find the joy that was anxiously knocking at my heart. And you know what? I even picked a couple of those weeds myself! 

I won’t lie; it’s not always roses in my house. Babies get sick; friends go through crisis; family struggles rage on.  The dandelions continue to pop up; that’s life.  I’m simply learning the difference between pulling desperately at the weeds, trying to rid them all, and pruning the weeds so that they may be turned into something more meaningful and perhaps, even beautiful…

By the way, no little seedlings will come from my yard to yours!  I have a “picked clean”  yard and 3 vases filled with bright yellow “flowers”!

"Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus"

                                          ~ 1Thessalonians 5: 16-18

Father, whisper your sweet saving grace into my soul today, that I might be renewed to be joyful always. Thank you for the little moments, even the challenging ones, that affirm who I am- a daughter, sister, wife, mother and friend. Be with the mothers who struggle, who grieve, who are lonely, who yearn for more; I pray they find your guiding light. And gently remind me, when I try to do this "motherhood" thing on my own, that YOU are what I need to survive the crazy insane moments that test my spirit. Thank you Lord for blessing me with the title "Mom".  

Happy Mother's Day to all, whether you are a mom or love some one like a mother loves, may your day be blessed and renewed in HIM!

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Snow White and the 8th Dwarf, Frumpy

Some of you know my heart's desire is to write a book someday. And while I can spin a thousand tales to my husband as to why I just backed the van into the 1/2 opened garage door (true story...from about 24 hours ago) or create a virtual miniseries for my kids on a car ride while sitting in stop and go traffic, my writing strength does NOT lie in novel writing. Instead, I am passionate about writing about what I know. And these days, that consists of being a wife, mother, daughter, sister, niece, and friend.  Entertaining, yes, sometimes; earth moving, maybe not so much.

So I revert back to what I know again: the tales of life as I know it, how I interpret those tales, and what it looks like at the end of the day when I turn to God to give it all back to Him (the good and the bad!). I tell you this, so you know as you read this, you are reading my heart, a mini-devotional I'm concocting, complete with my heart's prayer and even a verse or two that struck me as "just right". I'll admit, I feel a wee bit vulnerable sharing this with you. It's my dream of the "book I'll write someday" and a little glimpse of how it comes together from my scattered creative thoughts to this little old typeface on the Internet. BUT, again, if you know me, I tend to jump in head first, so whatever it makes me "feel", I still want to share it with you!

Hope it brightens your day, and hope you realize, if you've taken the time to read this, you've taken the time to know me and my heart a wee bit more. Frumpy thanks you!~
(I wrote this little snippit a while back, in another lifetime, it seems, but it still applies, no matter where I live or how old the kids have gotten. Or how many more pairs of yoga pants I have purchased since this original writing!)

We’ve all heard that wonderful fairy tale that begins with wickedness in the form of an apple, throws in a couple of animated small woodsmen, and ends with a prince and happily ever after.   

And while I'm not a betting woman, I'm willing to wager we all have that One friend…the One who is always put together, her house is in order, her children are behaved and well mannered, she’s involved in all the school and community organizations and is never late to a meeting, she remembers your birthday and your anniversary and even makes you a gift, and she’s got a home cooked meal on the table every night.

Marika Women's Tie Dye Waistband <em>Yoga Pants</em> (Olive- M)Next to her at the bus stop, you in your yoga pants and stained t-shirt, she in her khakis and well matched accessories (like she stepped off of a Pinterest board) you just can’t help but feel inadequate.

 (And I'm strangely reminded of a Taylor Swift ballad...but I stray from topic). 

Let me introduce you to the princess, the One: meet Snow White:  And me? I’m her friend, Frumpy. I'd shake your hand, but it's currently been the holding place for the contents of the youngest child's misguided sneeze. 

Now please don’t misconstrue my thoughts as ones of envy. In fact, I’m quite content in my yoga pants, and truth be told, Snow White’s daily grind makes me rather tired just thinking about all she accomplishes. But she can pull it off daily, and STILL be a wonderful friend to Frumpy.

And over coffee one day, she shares with me how much she wishes she could be like me. WHAT?! Yes, you heard it correct. She desires to have more of MY qualities, I desire to have more of hers. And right there in my kitchen, God has taught us (and will continue to teach us over many more cups of coffee together) that we are exactly who we are supposed to be in Him.

He’s given us all we need to be who we are, and part of who I need is my Snow White. Just like she needs me, frumpiness and all. We are here to lift each other to God, to share in the joys and woes of mothering, and to love each other, plain and simple.

Now THAT'S a happily ever after I can live with, especially since I get to stay in my yoga pants!

Lord, thank you for my qualities that make me uniquely me. Help me to appreciate my own characteristics and to not covet those characteristics that uniquely make up my friends. Pull back the blinds to allow me to see how You intricately blend my friendships to form a wonderful support system, and guide me to know what the desires of Your heart are for me and those friendships I foster. Be the source of truth in my relationships, and let our bonds be built on those of Your solid foundation of love and grace. 

1 Samuel 16:7
But the Lord said to Samuel, "Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected them. The Lord does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart."

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Christmas Update 2011

            Merry Christmas!! Oddly, my last blog post was in August, so if there is any need for clarification, yes, indeed, time DOES fly, and yes, indeed, 4 kids DO keep us WAY too busy!  In case you can't keep track (because Lord knows Chris and I have trouble) the four little people in our world include Stephanie who's now 10 and in 4th grade, Melanie, she's 8 and in 2nd grade, Ryan who's 6 and in 1st grade, and my little man, Kevin who turned 5 at the end of August and is in Pre-K.

            This year, as in true Justi fashion, we began with a move into a new house and ended with a new addition to our family. Now, before you go gettin' all wound up, let me clarify; we haven't added a new baby for 5 years and have no plans of doing so anymore. THIS new addition has 4 legs and fur; after dog sitting this past spring for a dear high school friend of mine, we fell in love with her Shih Tzu and added our own little Roxie Roo to our family this past August (on Melanie's 8th birthday). The little ball of fluff is puppy fun and has made our house even that much more interesting (apparently our day to day wasn't crazy enough!).

            Last Christmas, Chris moved into our new home (which had been occupied by a lovely middle aged couple who packed up a little, left a ton, and moved to Texas).  We inherited their mess, and "mess" is an understatement. The home was left in a condition that would've made the guys at "Hoarders" flinch. But not Chris; he "saw the forest for the trees" and dove in. He moved in 3 weeks earlier than we did, and by the time we moved in on Dec 20th, a couple of Clorox burns and a tetanus shot later, the house was beginning its transformation, thanks to Chris and my dad. We celebrated our first Christmas complete with party hosting (as if we'd let a little thing like unpacking stop us from celebrating?!? We had the house unpacked and decorated by our Christmas Eve party) and haven't stopped working on the house since. No complaints; we enjoy making it "ours".

            Our year was spent making odd discoveries, finding unique treasures (and not so unique trash) and getting our above ground pool ready for summer. We landscaped, dug, tore up, replanted, mulched, removed old car parts (and some old bones of some kind....don't ask...I, for one, don't want to know).  Before you knew it, we were muck booted up and clearing out spots for camping on our 2 acres, fire pits, tire swings, and slip and slides, and creek walking in the stream that runs through our yard. We've had a full year of new friends with lots of fun....we've had brunches, book club, lunches, dinners, girls' nights, cookouts, Fall Fests, and date nights with the new friends we've made; Most everyone has 3 or 4 kids, too, so chaos reigns supreme with the kids outnumbering the adults!

            The rainy spring was well worth the beautiful summer. We swam everyday and by July, we geared up for a huge pig roast to honor my dad's 60th birthday. Over 100 guests celebrated the day with us, and we plan to do this now annually (We think the Saturday after the 4th will be our annual date).  The mammoth slip and slide was the recycled tarp Chris once used to create the ice rink on our very flat Cleveland property. THIS time, we used it on our very hilly property and found that we could fit about 20 kids on it at once! In fact, at least one newly crowned 60 year old "kid" was seen slippin' and slidin' at one point. A full fireworks display lasted over 1/2 hour, thanks to my pyrotechnic brother and his "craft".  Lots of time has been spent catching up on lost years with our family, now that we are all "just down the road".  Family dinners and birthday parties with grams and paps, aunts and uncles are all being made up for now.

*****************************Justi Recap 2011******************************

JANUARY: It snows. A lot. And we are stuck because our driveway becomes an ice hill.  Much of what was uttered in January was related to traveling down an icy driveway and therefore, probably shouldn't be shared here! Ryan tells everyone to wave their "terrible flag" (instead of terrible towel) when the Steelers need a little help. It doesn't really work. But he has fun trying.

FEBRUARY:  Still snowing, but now Valentine's candy has filled the sugary void since Christmas. When I ask Melanie if she'd like a little brownie for dessert, she replies, "Now why in the world would I say no?"  . We've survived sledding with no broken bones so far this year.  Kevin tells me "you put the YOU in bea-YOU-tiful". Steph and I go shopping, and I discover a fashion diva in my midst. She tells me "Oh, that is so you, Mom.  I just love fashion".  Melanie is too busy making faces in the 3 way mirror to care.

MARCH: Snow blizzard strikes. All sanity is out the window as snow day after snow day accumulates. Ryan asks if I can "right side" his shirt in. Kevin tells us he is "tired of chewing" his chocolate cake. Kevin also makes a bold statement that he won't change his underwear until he goes to Heaven.  Gotta love that kid.

APRIL: A snowflake or two remains. We dog sit.  We secretly mount a campaign to win Chris over to the dog side. It works (see August). Ryan tries to summarize a movie he saw, and decides, after telling me "um" 13 times, it's just easier to share the ending. Ryan turns 6.  We watch our dollars fly out the window as Steph gets braces.  We are still broken bone free.

MAY: We open the pool! (Yes, it was just snowing a month ago...welcome to Western Pa). We herd a cow with our minivan (we have embraced country living completely). Yard work begins, and Ryan tells Kevin "You need to eat more chicken. Chicken makes you strong. Like Batman. And Mom." Gotta love that kid.

JUNE: It's hot. We swim. Everyday. Life is good. Kevin tells me, after a lunch gathering with friends who brought fabulous muffins, "Mom, I think I have a muffin problem".  Steph launches her jewelry making business and does wonderfully (she IS into fashion, remember?) Gotta love that kid.

JULY: Pig roast. It's hot. We swim. Everyday. We've adopted the "pool is your shower" method and "get in, get wet, get out, get to bed" method of keeping cool when the house still reads 84 degrees at 11pm. (We don't have air conditioning. Yet.)  Dog campaign is in full force. Mel becomes distressed when the frog she loves eats the lightning bug she loves...but is thrilled when the bug survives in the frogs belly and lights up the frog, and then she just loves the frog lighting up. Still no broken bones to report.

AUGUST: We camp out in our backyard. Steph is paranoid about the "ferocious deer". Two birthdays happen (Mel turns 8, Kev turns 5). We get back from Summer's Best Two Weeks Family Camp, and get the dog Roxie. She is so cute (wait till next month) Ryan loses his first tooth, but holds it till the second tooth falls....he felt the tooth fairy should only come when BOTH teeth had been lost. Kevin transforms into Indiana Jones and remains that way for the next few months.

SEPTEMBER: School starts, more chaos mounts as we head into gymnastics for the girls and cub scouts for Ryan. All love their activities. I begin to think Chris was right on the NO DOG side, as she continues to eat more and more non-food items. We often refer to her as "that little Shih...Tzu".  But she is so stinkin' cute.  Gotta love that dog.  The 20 turkeys in the yard begin to look at her like they could easily take her on.  Chris begins to dream of hunting the turkeys. And the ferocious deer.

OCTOBER: Fall fest, scarecrows, pumpkin patches, harvest parties, trick or treating with cousins (Melanie reports "Roxie is trick or treating in the trash!") and canning begin. Pool is closed for the season. Chris and I celebrate 14 years of marriage. We take the kids to the high school's undefeated football games.  My world stops when my dear Aunt Fran passes away very unexpectedly. The rest of the world goes on. And the snow falls before Halloween.

NOVEMBER: Steph turns 10. A decade. I run a turkey trot 5k to celebrate surviving 10 years of motherhood. And I race hard and fast for my aunt's memory. Thanksgiving is bittersweet, but celebrated with family and friends. Still no broken bones in our house. Instead, Chris gets a nasty tick bite and is diagnosed with Lyme's. He starts treatment and is doing just fine. Chris becomes a hunter/gatherer for the first time in 20 years. Gotta love that guy. 

Ah, DECEMBER. The month of crazy hustle and bustle. The decorating is done, the cookies are baked. We are overjoyed to be able to sit back and really celebrate the birth of our Lord and Savior. We share laughs and meals with many friends and family, and we share the glorious gift of Jesus' love with each other. We still mourn, but we rejoice "Joy to the world. The Lord is come!" May you be blessed by His Grace!  Gotta love that Lord!!

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

...It was the worst of times....Who says?!?

It's been awhile since I put fingers to keyboard and dashed out my thoughts, but some events recently have made me so agitated, I can only express myself (at least coherently!) in this way. So, if you've had a day where you've already heard one too many soapbox moments, I'll advise you now to tune out. Or at least tune out till the end, kinda like this is one big paid commercial announcement that you choose to ignore till the end of the show; I promise to wrap it up in a cheerful, "happily ever after" manner!

Ok, now that I've got my disclaimer out of the way, I'll ease you into the reason behind my emotional rant.

If you know me at all, you know I am a glass half full kinda gal. I think the best of folks. I give you the benefit of the doubt. I'd like to take credit for all this feel good, girl scout behavior, but I can't. I've said it before, and I'll continue to say it...the only thing that's good in me is Jesus. My disposition comes straight from His love, because I'd easily choose the "grumpy" dwarf over happy on any given day; it's just easier sometimes- and if you're honest, I'll bet you'll admit this, too! Choosing Grumpy can really seem appealing when you've been up all night with a colicky infant/sick child/snoring spouse/ insomnia episode.

Back to my point. So far, I've let you know I'd be a lot less nice if I didn't have Jesus. Now let's move onto the world we live in.

The world....Oh, the world. Now that's a tricky one. We live in America, where we have much to be thankful for, despite the economy we face right now. We have food readily available (check out the local grocery store and count how many types and varieties of fresh, frozen and canned veggies are at your disposal). We have luxury shelter (even Freddie and Fannie Mae can't argue that our housing is far more luxurious than a one room dirt floor hut). We have opportunity, not just to better ourselves, but to live freely (You wanna worship a cat? Yeah, you can do that here in our free country. I'll need to freely have a conversation with you, but you're free to do it if you choose.)

Yet, somehow, somewhere along the lines, we've become a people of fear. Of timidity. And I'm not the least bit pleased with the trend I see. Nor do I want to be a part of it. Yet I get sucked into it again and again. How you ask? (Or maybe you're not asking because you've tuned out already...that's ok, I plan to share anyway!)

I wanted to put my son's name on his backpack. But someone, a stranger, might see his name and call him by his name and he'll be  (insert terrible thing here).

I posted some pictures of my niece with nakedness. Adorable innocence, but I ended up taking them down because of the (insert terrible thing here).

We encourage our kids to smile and make eye contact with people  they meet, but that person might be (insert terrible thing here).

My husband offered a ride to a man who's bicycle literally fell apart, but that man might have (insert terrible thing here).

We needed a place to sit and rest one day while walking the super humid streets of downtown Saxonburg. We found a church but had to sit outside, because, of course, the doors were locked to prevent (insert terrible thing here).

In the "old days", before kids lit up my world, I was a nurse; a doggone good one too; I loved my patients and I loved being a caregiver. But now, because someone out there sued a nurse, and legal actions complicated matters, I hesitate to put my family at risk because some nurse once (insert terrible thing here).

I'm sure you get my long winded point. But what to do about it?

I will tell you I've been hurt by being too trusting (naive, some would say); I've thought the best of some and then seen their worst. I've been bit by the hug that held me. And I've seen myself repeat the same mistake over and over again when it comes to giving someone the benefit of the doubt, only to find out they actually DIDN'T deserve it.

But you know what? Despite all that, I will not change. I will not succumb to the mentality of "insert terrible thing here" into every part of life. Oh, but don't think that I'm doing that on my own soapbox. No way! I'm standing firm on solid ground, folks, listening to what God has told me (and told you, too). 

A favorite verse in our house is from 2Timothy 1:7:

For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of a sound mind.

Did you hear that? That was the sound of fear flying out the window; it has no place in our world. When we invite Jesus in, we solidly escort fear out.

Our second born, Melanie, who overcame magnificent odds when she was just 8 weeks in the womb, tends to lean towards a spirit of fear. That makes me sad, considering how she triumphed over all fears when she was just a blip on a monitor screen. But I am hopeful that since this is a verse she hears often, in her own time, she will come to not just hear it but believe it; since she sees it lived out in our family, I pray she comes to understand it on her own.

As for me, I'm gonna continue to buck the system of fear the world encourages us to live under. And while I'll admit to occasionally kneeling to the world's ridiculous fears (I did take the seriously adorable naked little tushie photos of my niece off of my shared photo site), I will absolutely denounce living in spirit of timidity. I will not be dictated by fear. I will continue to smile at strangers, offer up our guest room to friends of friends', provide a helping hand to a stranded biker, and yes, even shout my kids' names (sometimes both first AND middle names!) at playgrounds....And I will continue to seek the light when I find myself wanting to hide in the darkness of  fear the world offers.

The LORD is my light and my salvation; Whom shall I fear? The LORD is the strength of my life; Of whom shall I be afraid?
~Psalm 27:1

Until next time, peace to you!

Friday, May 6, 2011

My Mother's Day Thoughts for YOU!

Some of you may know, I've been working on a book for a long, long time now. A devotional for mom's, it's something I'd like to see completed before I'm a grandma!  This particular day's devotional seems fitting as we get ready to celebrate moms everywhere:) I've always believed that you don't have to have children to be a  revered as a "Mom" for someone...I can think of more than one special woman in my life who wasn't my mom, but who provided me with love and nurturing. So this is to celebrate women everywhere who've offered motherly love to someone in their world!

Don’t hurry, don’t worry and take time to smell the flowers~

My husband’s uncle was a man of God, a Capuchin Priest in the Franciscan order. It was in his recent death a little over a year ago that I came to know of this favorite saying of his. Looking back on the 16 years I knew him, it’s easy for me to see how his words played out in his everyday life. An ornery sense of humor and a booming voice, you could feel his presence in a room before he walked in. And once you were with him, you could just feel yourself slow down a bit as you listened to his stories and anecdotes, his tall tales and his true tales. He engaged you with every bit of his being, as he would ask you question after question about your life, your thoughts, and your ideas. After a conversation with him, you just felt better. He’ll be missed on this side of eternity, but we all know Uncle Marvin waits for us at Heaven’s gates!

As moms, I know how hard it is to take those moments to slow down. We have agendas, obligations, tasks (some of which have to be completed just to ensure our wee ones live and breath each day with clean little bodies and well fed tummies!). Don’t I know it, as I sit here ticking off my to do list today. And it’s all we can do sometimes to just survive minute by minute, hour by hour. But God’s soft voice quietly reminds me to live the moment, for my days our numbered. Please don’t think me as fatalistic, just truthful. God has given us a timeline here on earth, not to be taken lightly. We have an important job to do, wives to our husbands and  moms to our kids, butwe do this all as children of God.  He expects us to live this life in a joyful, earnest way, making the most of the moments we have. Of course, He also knows our hearts and how weary mothering can make us. But that is especially when He calls on us to run to Him, to cast our cares to Him, to throw our worries to the wind. You’ve heard it a million times before….the computer will be there to check email, the bills will be waiting, the laundry will never stop growing, and families will not cease to exist if cold cereal is served for dinner. But our children will be grown before we know it. I don’t want to live with regrets, so I will begin each day with these thoughts from Uncle Marvin: don’thurry, don’tworry and take time to smell the flowers.

My prayer today:
Father, I pray today that you will help me to focus. I know it’s unrealistic to “clear my agenda”, as I have a job to do as wife and mother. But I also know that it is your true desire for me to have joy in these tasks. When I find myself becoming resentful of the many things I “must” do, please God shine my children’s smile my way as a reminder of your love and blessing. Please allow me put aside my tasks with a happy heart as I embrace the moments of mothering; humble me so that I might be able to recognize these earthly tasks are trivial compared to the tasks you have set before me. Thank you God for the gift of each day, to start fresh and new.
Psalm 39:4 (New Living Translation)

 4 “Lord, remind me how brief my time on earth will be.
      Remind me that my days are numbered—
      how fleeting my life is.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Rendered speechless

Recently, Chris and I have found some awesome documentaries on the Wii Netflix channel. Now, before I continue, I promise this story gets much more interesting than your current image of the two of us entering middle age, watching documentaries as we wistfully remember the good ole days. Wait for it.....

As I was saying, we've somehow managed to reclaim some time after the kids go to bed, and with the garbage they put on cable, we've resorted to Netflix. So far, so good. So good, in fact, we've had a ton of opportunities to teach the kids some history (tons of National Geographic stories offered) as well as some really cool science. We just watched March of the Penguins, which, while it was an awesome program, did have some emotional highs throughout. You can probably guess here...Nature, predators, cute little penguin chicks....Kevin actually said, as he watched the penguins dive back into the ice "like bullets going super fast" that he wanted to BE a penguin. Until the momma penguin was eaten by a leopard seal. That changed his mind fast. He and Ryan went to bed, whimpering, and I had to remind them "I am not a penguin Momma and there is no seal that wants to eat me".   They seemed content enough once they remembered, indeed, I am not a penguin. 

Strike one for the brainstorm we parents have to expose our kids to educational documentaries.

We started to watch a really cool program last night, Man on Wire. It's about a (nutty) Frenchman who is a wire walker (like the tightrope dudes in the circus).  Back in 1974 (the 1900's, according to my kids....hmmmm, they are accurate, I guess, in saying that, but really? Does it have to sound so ancient?) this particular nutty Frenchman Philippe Petit decided, after crossing various other too high buildings,
he MUST cross a wire between the twin towers. (Yes, he actually said  he MUST.)

Now, I will digress a moment. In order to fully appreciate this story you must understand a few things about Chris and me.
  • First, we are adamantly against cable TV. Just ask our families. They've grumbled through years of us only having rabbit ears and then basic cable, which we HAD to get for internet service.
  • Two, we aren't that well versed in entertainment media; this simply means we have no idea which teen singer is dating who, which reality show just sent someone with a rose to live on a deserted island, or what movie was up for whatever is the newest, grandest award.
  • Three, we are,in fact, kinda dull and nerdy book types. (He's MUCH more of a nerd that me....he IS a science geek, you know! The title sterility assurance manager/microbiologist just kind implies "science nerd"!) 
  • Four:  We do love a good movie. One of our favorite date/family time things to do is watching a movie together. We thought we hit the jackpot with our newest delve in documentaries.

And now, back to "Man on Wire" and the "wait for it" moment I promised you.

So, today, at dinner, Chris and I were talking about this program, and Steph pipes in, "Hey, we learned about this guy at my old school. He walked across the two tallest buildings on a wire."  She was intrigued, and wanted to know what the show was like. We told her (and the others, who were now listening intently, the idea of getting to watch TV on school night seeming to be pretty appealing) that we only watched 1/2 of it, and were planning to watch the rest tonight. She (and the rest of them) were excited, so we said, sure, why not!

When it comes to movies, we are always checking out whether things are OK for our kids to watch (http://www.pluggedin.com/ is one of our fave sights, but also use http://www.imdb.com/ ). However, we had already started watching this true life story, and hadn't seen/heard anything we would shy from. We did consider our sanity in allowing Kevin to watch anything that could encourage his Evel Knievel spirit, but we pushed those thoughts aside. (I'm sure this will come back to bite us later...look for it in a later post, no doubt!)

The nutty Frenchman and his crew were entertaining at times, as they plotted how they would actually accomplish this task. There was some dialogue in French which = BORED kids. But there was some cool wire walking scenes on top of buildings and bridges=FASCINATED kids. Success, right? They was a lot of talk of the science (at least from their dad) about how this wire walking event would have to take into account wind, humidity , blah blah, blah.....(I never really cared much for the science behind the man!).

And then, one of his crew mentioned pot. As in, the kind one smokes before he assists his friend in walking across a wire suspended between the Twin Towers. Not something any of the kids picked up on, but still something that made Chris and I less than comfortable. We cruised by this one, but we are now at strike two for the brainstorm thing.

Wait for it. There's a tad bit more.

So, we get to the climactic scene of the wire walking event. The kids are amazed. Thrilled. Flabbergasted. So are we. This guy takes 45 minutes, makes 8 back and forth walks, lies down, kneels down. CRAZY! AND our kids get to see the twin towers. Not images of towers marred by airplanes sticking in their side, with flumes of smoke pouring forth. Those tower images are all they really seem to know. Especially since Steph was born two months after 9/11. Lots of memorabilia from her birth year include those photos. Instead, they are seeing these gleaming newly built towers, they saw the construction process outlines in the film, the saw the final building, they saw the nutty Frenchman walk atop those most amazing buildings. We were all talking at once as we saw the Frenchman finish his task and be arrested for his nuttiness (see, there is even a lesson here. Kevin, don't break the rules!)

That "wait for it " moment enters right now.

The nutty Frenchman is next seen talking to reporters and then, a split second later, as he describes a young woman who was so intrigued by his feat, the black and white scene cuts to a young man and young woman in fast forward motion, like an old time silent film.....TAKING OFF THEIR CLOTHES!!!!! HOLY CROW!!!! WHAT JUST HAPPENED HERE?!?!?!?

Strike three.....and the "worst parent of the year award goes to...."

Our girls are cracking up as "those two people are getting naked and having a pillow fight" Chris hurdles a kid or two and pole vaults the recliner to turn off the TV. But not before the initial image of two figures disrobing are burnt onto the blasted 52 inches of LCD screen in our living room!!!!!!!

Do we react or try NOT to react, so as to defuse the situation. Folks, we were watching a documentary, full of facts and nutty french people performing dangerous daredevil stunts, never expecting this little blip on the scene. OF COURSE WE REACTED!!!  Shock and awe, people. Shock and awe. I was laughing and crying at the same time. In disbelief. They took a good thing, and had to add that? FOR WHAT PURPOSE? Just to make other parents out there become Olympian gymnasts before their kids see that 5 seconds of unnecessary skin???

The kids are now in bed, and we are both still shaking our heads. Really? They HAD to go that route? It was an hour and a half program, and at 1hour and 24 minutes we had a grenade thrown at us. Tune in tomorrow for the cleanup. I'm sure there's bound to be some repercussions from this one. UGH.

Unfortunately, after the fact, I see that there was a rating on this....apparently it wasn't just a standard old documentary type thing...it was actually a movie. Rated PG 13. Sigh. .

So, I guess the moral of the story is, if you are coming to the Justi house, we suggest you bring a book. Cuz, that there TV, well, she's worn out her use, and it looks like we're gonna have to put her down.

Still in shock,