The future is bright

I am one hour and 15 minutes away from surviving my first week as an elementary school teacher.

Am I tired? You bet!

But my heart is full in a way that it hasn’t been before. Each morning I am greeted with a smile and a hug from a young student who is eager to learn. I have a chance to make an impact on their attitude towards school and their future opportunities. We use kind, positive words and encourage them to do the same.

Yes, I miss sleeping later and working out after the sun comes up, but I feel thankful for this opportunity!

I challenge you to think about your current situation. Are you fulfilled? Are you growing? Are you using the skills that God gave you?

I heard this quote recently and loved it: “Life shouldn’t be about working to make money. It should be about relationships.”

 

A new perspective

I will be starting a new full time job at the end of August, so I purposely ended my current job a few weeks early so that I could relax, get organized and have some fun. My last day was this past Thursday. On Sunday evening I was getting into my running clothes when I got a call from the assisted living facility where my mom lives. My mom had fallen and was being taken to the hospital via ambulance. I had a flashback to last December when she fell and broke her back. That resulted in a week at the hospital and three weeks at a rehabilitation center. As I put my regular clothes back on and headed to the hospital with my husband, I was anxious. We found my mom in the ER and learned that she had broken her hip and would require surgery. She was admitted to the hospital and the surgery was going to be the next day.  I’m a little ashamed to admit this, but as we headed home from the hospital after midnight, I was focused on myself.

There goes the rest of my summer. 

I returned the next day to see my mom in pre-op and pray that everything would be fine. After they took her into surgery I made my way to the waiting room. Adjacent to the waiting room was a kid’s play area, so I sat as far away as possible to avoid any noise. I wanted to be alone. A few hours later the surgeon came to me to tell me that everything went well and that she was in recovery and I would be able to see her soon. As he walked away my phone rang and it was my mother in law asking how everything was going. I gave her the report and she then told me that my father in law had fallen and hit his head and was on his way to the ER in an ambulance. My heart sank and my selfish thoughts returned.

There goes the rest of our summer.

After I visited with my mom and they took her to her room, I made my way to the ER to find my in-laws. As I walked through the surgical waiting area, something caught my eye. I saw that the area that was set up as a play area had become quite full and many adults were standing, hugging. I noticed that the sign on the wall said Pediatric Surgical Waiting Area. I stopped and stared at the people for a few minutes, trying to imagine their fear. It was like a slap in the face. My mom was going to be fine, but what about their child?

What about the rest of their summer?

I found my in-laws in the ER and my father in law had received many stitches and staples in his head. The CAT scan showed some bleeding and he was going to be admitted.  As I drove home from the hospital on that second day, I prayed out loud. I asked for forgiveness for being so selfish. I thanked God for keeping both our parents alive and asked for blessings for the parents in the pediatric surgical waiting room.

Today is the fourth day that I’m getting ready to return to the hospital. I will see my mom and father in law and remember to be thankful. This may not be the way that I thought the end of our summer would look like, but I remind myself that it could’ve been a lot worse.

Always be joyful. Never stop praying. Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus. 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

Summertime magic

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Feel the warm sun on my face,

tanned skin, freckles, a slower pace.

Watermelon, corn on the cob, crabs,

no homework, tests, or science labs.

 

Laughter, games, friends and hugs,

come to dance with lightening bugs.

A break for students and those who teach,

flip flops, tank tops, a walk on the beach.

Welcoming with a wave at my feet,

the ocean is a summertime treat.

A playground for dolphins jumping pairs,

the salt remains on my skin and hair.

Three months is better than none,

let’s make the most of summertime fun!

 

 

 

Roadblock or Detour?

Do you ever wonder how you got to where you are? How sometimes you think you’re headed in a certain direction in life and then it changes?

Detour!

How do you handle it?

I recently had several detours in my life. I was plugging along as a HS special education teacher for eight years when I felt called to write a book (Detour #1). I found that balancing a full-time job, family and writing a book was nearly impossible and after a some serious prayer, decided to take a year off (Detour #2). Not long after I made this decision a part-time position opened up at my church and someone asked me if I’d be interested (Detour #3). It has been such a privilege to work with my pastor and other church staff and has given me even more appreciation for the wonderful things they do. After I released my book last year, I have had some amazing opportunities to share my story, write articles and appear on TV and radio programs during this time. I’ve also had the opportunity to focus more on my health and be more available for my four sons. I volunteered in my sons’ fifth grade class once a week to assist with math and was pleasantly surprised by how much I liked it.  This got me thinking…..what if? So this September you will find me in fifth grade helping students with reading (Detour #4)!l-450744

When life hands you a sudden change, do you embrace it or allow it to throw you off course?

I can’t wait to see what is ahead!

Red, White and Blue (A 4BOYMOM Adventure)

The 4th of July is one of our families favorite holidays. We have a tradition of buying fireworks from a local stand and setting them off in the yard at night. One year we were at my in-laws beach house on the Chesapeake Bay for the holiday weekend. The day was filled with fun events including a local parade, playing in the water, and a picnic on the beach.

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As it got dark that evening, my husband began to set up the pyrotechnic display in the yard. Our 2nd son was about 3 1/2 at the time and was scared of the loud sound and ran inside to watch from the glass door. We oohed and ahhhed as the colorful display began. A few minutes later my mother in law exclaimed, “Oh my gosh….no…” as she was looking towards the house. I glanced back to see my little blonde cherub standing with a small American flag in his hand watching from behind the glass. “What?” I asked. She couldn’t respond as she was gagging and retching. I looked back at my son again and couldn’t imagine what had happened. I stood up, walked to the door and asked my son what happened and he just waved his little flag at me and smiled. I looked at my mother in law again and she was wiping tears from her face and trying to form words between gags. Annoyed I begged, “What happened?” At this point the show was finished and my husband joined us on the deck . Between gags, my mother in law explained what she has seen. My son, my bubbly, adorable toddler, had pulled his pants down, put the flag stick in his bottom and then curiously had put it in his mouth!

Horrified, the only word I could form was, “Why?”

The following week the same son developed a sore throat and ear infection. As I often did, I had to take all my kids to the appointment. As the doctor looked in son #2’s ears and throat my cherub said, “I think I know why I’m sick.” Dread filled my body as I began to pray (beg) silently, “God, please, don’t let him say it.”

The doctor said, “Oh? Why?”

I begged to be swallowed by the Earth as I heard my son begin, “Well, on the 4th of July I had this flag…”

Once my son finished the story, I couldn’t bring myself to look up at the doctor and the room went silent. My oldest son sat with his mouth hanging open, stunned that his brother just admitted (to a doctor) what he had done. After what felt like an eternity of silence, the doctor proceeded to tell my son(s) why we need to keep our hands and other objects away from our bottoms and as he left the room I was sure that our file folder got a big red slash drawn on the font.

Many years have passed since that incident and that doctor has retired, but something tells me that he hasn’t forgotten that story!

Encouragement for dads on Father’s Day

Happy Father’s Day to all the wonderful dads out there! Know that what you’re doing everyday makes a difference. Your children look to you for wisdom, guidance and love. Show them everyday what it looks like to work hard while finding balance. I hope that you can enjoy this day with your family!

I am honored to be able to share my article on this amazing site that provides encouragement for dads!

http://www.encouragingdads.com/2016/05/what-makes-a-good-dad/

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Adventures from a 4BOYMOM: Chapter One?

Now that my husband and I are “seasoned” parents, I love to look back at photos and share stories with our kids from when they were little. This is a memory from our first days of parenthood, 19 years ago.

My husband and I are only children and although I had babysat a lot, I had never been around babies, and neither had he, so when our first son was born we were both very nervous. We had read books and done our best to prepare, but really had no idea what we were doing. Reflecting on those first weeks makes us smile and laugh.

I remember getting home from the hospital and into the house and we put the baby down and then looked at each other as if to say, “Now what?” My husband was able to stay home for a week and by the time his parents arrived, we were exhausted. I was nursing and had read an article about using pacifiers and how they caused “nipple confusion” (seriously?) and was adamant that we wouldn’t use one.  After a week of litPacifiertle sleep and what felt like non-stop nursing, I was a wreck. My mother in law suggested that we try a pacifier (WHAT?!) She explained that the baby just wanted to soothe himself and wasn’t really hungry, which explained why he kept falling asleep at the wheel. So reluctantly, I popped it in his mouth mid-wail and BOOM, it worked!

 

We were very excited to give him his first bath and, being the firstborn, it would be videotaped and photographed to keep for all eternity. We lived in Massachusetts and although it was May, the weather was still cool. So before anything could happen, we had to be sure that the kitchen was warm enough (bring in the heater). Next step was to remove all items from the counter, sterilize the area, and get the perfect water temperature. My husband filled the small tub in the sink and did the “elbow test” to be sure that the water temperature was perfect. (Of course I had to test it too). We were ready!

My mother in law was standing in position with various cameras and caught everything on tape…

Baby bathAs soon as I started to undress the baby, he started to cry. I did my best to soothe him and tell him how much fun he was going to have in his first bath. (We even had a rubber ducky). I carefully lowered him into the water whereupon he howled. My blood pressure rose and I accused my husband of making the water too hot. I lifted him out and we quickly did the elbow test again. My mother in law suggested that we proceed with the bath….I lowered him back into the water and my husband proceeded to wash him as we had been instructed at the hospital, using a different washcloth for the major sections of the body (?!) The baby continued to scream and I quickly looked at my husband and saw sweat running down his temple. We surveyed the naked body and determined that he was clean. As I proceeded to lift him out of the tub, I noticed a weird yellowish color in the water and yelled, “WHY IS THEIR MUSTARD IN THE TUB?!” I looked around the room frantically and saw my mother in law laughing behind the camera. She said, “I think he pooped.” I looked into he camera with a desperate wail and asked, “Now what do we do?”

After wrapping the poopy screaming baby in a towel, emptying the tub, refilling it with the perfect temperature of water, we proceeded the cleaning process again.

When it was all over and the baby was clothed and swaddled, my husband and I collapsed on the couch and agreed that he wouldn’t be having another bath until he was 5.

I share this as a funny memory and also to encourage and cheer on any new moms out there. You are doing a great job! Having babies and raising little kids is tough and it’s ok if you don’t have all the answers. Go with your gut and remember to lean on your friends and family for help and LAUGH at yourself once in a while. When  you feel yourself slipping, pray and ask God for help.

Your baby WILL sleep through the night, learn to walk and talk, and go poop on the potty. You will blink and your strong-willed two year old will be heading out the door to Kindergarten.  No phase lasts forever, I promise.

Best wishes,

Tracey

 

 

 

 

Moving forward or staying in place?

Today is June 1, exactly six months since the New Year began. Do you remember what you did on New Years Eve? Who were you with? Did you make a resolution?

I love the start of a new year because it is a time to reflect and move forward with goals and plans. I like to make resolutions in the different areas of my life; family, faith, health and work. So now that six months have passes, take a minute to ash your self these questions:

Have you done any of the things that you said you were going to?

Tried new adventures?

Worked on yourself?

Are you any closer to your goals?

The cold temperatures of winter have passed and trees have blossomed; have you?

If so, you should feel proud! But what if you’re like me and feel like one or more of the things that you resolved for the new year haven’t progressed as you thought they would? What if you STILL need to lose those 20 pounds or haven’t done anything to change your work situation?

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I know that my goal for my faith hasn’t progressed as I had hoped. I want to read my Bible more often and focus on His word to deepen my relationship with God. I want to do a study that challenges my faith and takes it to a new level.

Well, guess what? It’s not too late to meet our goals! We still have six months to go!

So will you join me and hit “refresh” today as we reflect on the goals and promises that we made and promise to move forward?

Fill our homes with humility

I love it when the seasons change and get excited when I go into a home furnishing store and see all the seasonal décor. Last weekend I found myself oohing and aahing over all the beach and seaside home goods. I love the light blue and turquoise colored candles and even though they don’t really match our home décor, I found myself picking them up.

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And then a little voice (no, not my husbands) said, “Do you NEED that?” I answered in my head, “Ugh…..no. But it would be so nice to have if we had friends over.”

I recently heard a staggering set of statistics. Last month, Americans spent 8.96 billion on home furnishings and last year Americans spent 338 billion on home improvements.

 

This got me thinking; are we that desperate to feel good about ourselves that we need to fill our homes with nice/ improved things? The real question is, do these “things” add value to our home or life or are we just trying to look good for others?

What if someone invited me to their house for dinner and great conversation and didn’t have many furnishings at all? Would I love them less?

This led me to think about being humble. Humility is counter to our society and human nature, but the Bible is clear on the subject.

 “Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves” Phillipians 2:3 (NLT).

As Americans, we are consumers and tend to collect “stuff” to make our homes look nice.  But what is the real value of it to anyone but us?

I learned this as I was going through my parent’s house after my father died. He liked to spend money on nice things and as I saw the very low price tags at the estate sale, it made me realize that our possessions don’t matter to anyone but us.

So next time I find myself tempted to buy another thing to fill my home with, I’m going to ask, “Do I really need this? Will it bring me joy? Could I spend my money on something else that will add value to my life and contribute to my memories?”

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