Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Beloved

My mother in law gave me a wonderful Glory Haus canvas many years ago, and it sits on my counter where I can read it everyday.  I am reading a book called Scary Close by Donald Miller and it is absolutely transforming the inner places of my heart. I just finished reading this quote in his book..."Each of us is unique and if we didn't exist something in the world would have been lost. I wonder, then, why we are so quick to conform-and what the world has lost because we have."

As my heart and mind ponder and process that, I walked some dishes to the sink and paused at the Canvas that sits on the corner and my heart was filled. The Lord is good. He is faithful. In the good times and hardest times, his love endures all things.  May your spirit be refreshed and renewed with the truth  from this "Beloved" canvas:

Rise Up, SHINE, for MY GLORY rises on you...I, the Lord, have called you...I will hold your hand, redeem you, and make you a symbol of PROMISE for my precious people.
I have put my SPIRIT on you and enabled you to share GOOD NEWS with the poor...I have sent you to free the captives, release the prisoners from darkness, and to heal broken hearts.  I bestow Beauty for ashes, Gladness for mourning, and I turn despair into praise. When you spend yourselves on behalf of the hungry and satisfy the needs of the oppressed, then you will become a LIGHT in the dark places and your night will SHINE like the noonday. I will GUIDE you, SATISFY you and STRENGTHEN you...you will repair devastated places and restore the paths that lead to HOME for those who are lonely and wandering.  
Every Valley will be raised and every mountain be made low and MY GLORY will be revealed and together all of my children will see it...I, the LORD, love justice..instead of shame, Everlasting JOY will be theirs and all will know that they are a people that the Lord has blessed!

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Exciting update!

A little over 6 years ago my rock star husband decided to be intentional and productive with his hour long commute to and from work every day.  Dave Ramsey's Take Control of Your Money podcast quickly became his favorite.  He actively started applying the principles of Total Money makeover to our personal finances. We got on a budget, made every dollar accountable for and started setting goals for what we wanted to do with our finances.  As we began building a 3-6 months savings account, we realized (michael grasped the concept much quicker) that if we hustle and work a little harder in our spare time to make extra income we could get to our goal even quicker.  Lets just get real down and honest, this was not a fun easy season of our lives. I drove a very hideous 1996 white jeep cherokee that was super duper ugly (but paid for) and Michael drove a 2001 Honda accord with high miles (but  paid for and more gas efficient for his long commute.)  We lived in a 2 bedroom townhouse and saved pretty much every extra penny we have. I can vividly remember several good friends buying a new sporty SUV's and purchasing a new homes and I was frustrated that I was stuck in my ugly jeep and small townhouse.  My sweet husband led me well and said, well what are we fighting for? Why do we not choose to buy new cars? Why are we not buying a house yet? This was probably the most pivotal moment for me because I had to figure out WHY I wanted to commit to this process!





We have huge things we are passionate about, ministries we want to help fund, mission trips we want to help pay for, adoptions we can help contribute to, and in the process our real hope and passion is that we can help positively influence those around us.  We truly believe that financial stress contributes to a large majority of stress and marital breakdown in families.  By choosing to discipline ourselves and commit to the process, it gives us the opportunity to give hope to other families drowning in debt desperately needing a plan to take action! I now had a WHY that was worth fighting for. Debt freedom would not only allow us to GIVE like crazy to the things we are passionate about, but would also give us the experience and knowledge of how to help lead others down the road to debt freedom.

So my super fun exciting awesome news!!!???!?!?!?



 This  morning at 9:07am my rock star husband wired the money to completely pay off the mortgage on our townhouse. GONE! WAHOOO!!

For the last 3 years we have been working our tails off in several small businesses to bring in extra income to get us to our goals as fast as possible.  We paid off our townhouse mortgage 24 years early! EEEK!!

Why do I share this?  Our hearts desire and biggest prayer is that our story can provide HOPE for others who feel stuck, feel like attacking their debt is impossible.



It is not only possible, it is worth it. Ive heard the saying before: How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time. Make a plan, get on a budget, commit to the process, set a goal and DO IT!



I can tell you this. It is worth it ALL. Its worth selling your super awesome fabulous DREAM CAR to drive something you can pay cash for and put the $900 per month payments towards attacking the rest of your debt. It was worth the 3 years of Michael working nights and weekends to build a small business that allowed us to cash flow expenses and stockpile extra income to throw on the debt. It was worth the crazy (and passionate) opinions we got as we started another home business with a direct sales company to help others and build another stream of income to build even more momentum on our debt snowball.  While living on a budget has been foundational in our pursuit of debt freedom, hard work and hustle to build extra income for our family has given us the massive momentum to attack the debt even quicker.  We are not done yet. We still have huge plans to attack our current mortgage. The townhouse income will give us even more momentum money to become completely debt free!


Now GO TAKE ACTION!  Get on a plan that will help you tell your money where to go, instead of wondering where it went. We have completed Dave Ramsey's Financial Peace University and highly recommend that class.  The company we work for AdvoCare has an excellent Debt Buster system free to distributors that has helped many people on our team begin to take the steps necessary to make a plan and get out of debt!





Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Sleeping Giants

When in college and asked what my major was, my response was usually....Well education, but to be honest, I have no clue what I want to do as a career because I really just want to be a wife and a mom. Long story short, I got a degree in Dental hygiene, really enjoyed working part time for a couple of years but my heart REALLY wanted to be home with my babies!!  After living on a budget for several years, and Michael starting several extra jobs to earn extra income we were able to make this a reality shortly after having our second child.  
While a huge blessing, staying home is SUPERDEEEDUPER hard! While I love being a mom and being the primary influence in their lives, but they have the most amazing dad on the planet, and now he is having to work extra jobs and longer days to keep us ahead with finances. When I jumped on AdvoCare products in the summer of July 2012 I was desperately trying to get more energy and feel better.  What I never dreamed or imagined is that AdvoCare would become a huge part of my life.  
I really loved being home and his opportunity allowed me the freedom and flexibility to help others look, feel and perform better, while also earn extra income for our family.  All I could really see initially was that I could make enough to pay for my new found love for Spark and many other products, but little did I know the financial and time freedom it would bring.  
Last May, we had consistently earned enough income monthly which matched Michaels corporate salary and He was able to take the huge leap of becoming self employed. He had worked extremely hard building his Landscaping business on the side, and the income our AdvoCare business has provided allowed for this to be a stress free, low pressure transition.  Now instead of him working 70+ hours a week in 100 temps building a business, he is able to manage and work the hours he wants, eat breakfast lunch and dinner with the kiddos and we have the freedom to choose where we want to spend our time.
I read an article today from the CEO of a billion dollar company and loved this:
"As a leader, if you go in with the attitude that there are
 sleeping giants of potential inside people (no matter their position)
, coupled with an operating landscape that lets them grow
 and helps them become the best version of themselves,
 you can create future generations of leaders.
Even from a business perspective, 
all a company ever is is a collection of people. 
If you're working with a high percentage of people
 who are all trying to be the best versions of themselves, 
you can't avoid success."  
Rick Goings 
THIS is why I LOVE AdvoCare as a business. I get to help people get started on products and look and feel their best.  For those wanting extra income or wanting to impact the lives of others, I get to be a part of a remarkable process of helping others stretch and grow and become their best.  My husband would tell you to this day he never dreamed I would ever do AdvoCare as a business.  What happened 2 years ago was a sleeping giant in the core of who I am was awakened.  I read a book called The Butterfly Effect by Andy Andrews and felt deeply called that I could impact peoples lives in so many ways.  By investing in the lives of others and challenging them to become more in every aspect of life, I could positively impact many friends and family members.  So whether or not it was through AdvoCare, or through bible study, or through relationships and friendships with neighbors, I made a decision to seek wisdom and become the best Renee possible, so that when given opportunities to lead and help others I could have a positive impact on their lives.   
AdvoCare is a collection of some amazing people.  The leadership at every level has the highest priority to be a company of character and integrity first and foremost, and be a company that values faith and family above all else. What a joy it has been to stretch and grow and help others become the BEST version of themselves.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Copy Cat

My mind has been in a funk, so I sat down and read a few great things, and landed on a page full of quotes from some amazing books that have seriously changed my life. I am a strong believer in Jesus, so these are not "salvation" change my life principles, but rather practical ways to live life to be the BEST me possible.  So this post will be some of the quotes that encouraged my spirit today. Andy Andrews gets all the credit. Most are from either The Travelers Gift, The Noticer or the



“Most people fail at whatever they attempt because of an undecided heart. Should I? Should I not? Go forward? Go back? Success requires the emotional balance of a committed heart. When confronted with a challenge, the committed heart will search for a solution. The undecided heart searches for an escape. 
A committed heart does not wait for conditions to be exactly right. Why? Because conditions are never exactly right. Indecision limits the Almighty and His ability to perform miracles in your life. He has put the vision in you -- proceed. To wait, to wonder, to doubt, to be indecisive is to disobey God. -Andy Andrews, The Traveler's Gift” 
― Andy Andrews

“My life - my personality, my habits, even my speech - is a combination of the books I choose to read, the people I choose to listen to, and the thoughts I choose to tolerate in my mind” 
― Andy Andrews

“Everybody wants to be on the mountaintop, but if you'll remember, mountaintops are rocky and cold. There is no growth on the top of a mountain. Sure, the view is great, but what's a view for? A view just gives us a glimpse of our next destination-our next target. But to hit that target, we must come off the mountain, go through the valley, and begin to climb the next slope. It is in the valley that we slog through the lush grass and rich soil, learning and becoming what enables us to summit life's next peak.” 
― Andy AndrewsThe Noticer: Sometimes, All a Person Needs Is a Little Perspective

“When faced with a decision, many people say they are waiting for God. But I understand, in most cases, God is waiting for me.” 
― Andy Andrews

“While it is true that most people never see or understand the difference they make, or sometimes only imagine their actions having a tiny effect, every single action a person takes has far-reaching consequences.” 
― Andy AndrewsThe Noticer: Sometimes, All a Person Needs Is a Little Perspective

“Remember, young man, experience is not the best teacher. Other people's experience is the best teacher. By reading about the lives of great people, you can unlock the secrets to what made them great.” 
― Andy AndrewsThe Noticer: Sometimes, All a Person Needs Is a Little Perspective


“Life itself is a privilege, but to live life to the fullest- well, that is a choice.” 
― Andy AndrewsThe Traveler's Gift: Seven Decisions That Determine Personal Success


Choose today to live life to the fullest!




Thursday, May 14, 2015

Interuptions

Lets just be honest, I am not profound, I have not spent 3 hours studying and processing something profound.  Why, you say? Because I have 3 sweet babies that demand my time and attention from sun up to sun down. I also have an amazing husband that gets the extra few minutes of my time and energy as those sweet little souls finally rest their heads.  Oh and cleaning the house, cooking, dishes, laundry, exercise, investing in lives of friends...not exactly where that time comes from but some how we manage to maintain the chaos.  If you are a mother of young children, or once had young children this all makes sense, if not what I am about to say may not be speaking your language.
I am a perfectionist, and so to be honest throughout my life I came to the conclusion that if I can't do something well, I should not do it at all. This is not a constructive idea or lifestyle, but it was my way of avoid failure or trying really hard and not measuring up. So I just settled for being and living a mediocre life and settling with the idea of my life "is what it is."  Two years ago, a set of circumstances and an opportunity I was given forced me to really look at life from a different perspective. What if there was more? What if I, crazy, most days melancholy Renee, What if I could positively impact the lives of others. What if I could invest in myself and then invest in others and could help them live the life they always wanted if they only knew how. Thus began a journey that I am still knee deep in and searching like crazy for wisdom and truths that can challenge me to become the person God designed me to be. Fully alive, fully loved and full of hope.

So where Im going with all of this is that most days, while I would love to spend 2 hours studying Gods word, reading books on how to become more and how to invest in and challenge people to become more, most days I am lucky to get 30 minutes before those sweet babies start calling my name.  An Andy Andrews book I read several years ago outlines the principle and value of Seeking Wisdom.  For a long while I thought the focus was wisdom... which it kind of is, but from the real value for me has come in the seeking. It is a continual journey. So basically, I feel like in a way I have become a seeker. Seeking wisdom in all realms of life, spiritual truth, financial freedom, nutrition and how to live a healthy lifestyle, parenting, small business, marriage and many more aspects of life.

All of that to say, I claim that most of what I will probably say today and in all future posts is rarely an original thought. As I continue to seek, I am going to try to use this as a place to share the glimpses of truth and knowledge in hopes that some of what the lord is teaching me, will guide your heart, and give you perseverance.

So in this season of my life, with very young children desperately needing and demanding every ounce of my time and energy, the reality is that I am drained. As a perfectionist, I feel like I have failed in many ways, and that most days feel like I am walking through quick sand trying to just get my feet on solid ground so that I can breathe. Last night at our bible study, we were discussing the demanding challenges of this stage of life, and our mentors encouraged and reminded us that this is the stage where the rubber meets the road. As a friend put it, this is the application stage of life.  For years I may have studied the scripture, and learned truth but these years are where I will get to apply these truths on the most basic practical level.  I will have to choose and demonstrate and teach love, joy, peace, patience, goodness, gentleness, and self control. And if you were a fly on the wall in our home, most days I fail miserably. My heart was encouraged last night, and then the Lord was so sweet this morning to encourage me in such a sweet way. Most days the only scripture I read is from a Solid Joys app on my phone. I love this because my heart starts the day being encouraged with truth and focused on what matters most.  This morning though I clicked the link at the bottom, which lead me to the website, to where I happened to click on another blog link to this article.  I am not going to try to translate, but rather allow the truth to encourage your spirit as it did mine this morning.

http://www.desiringgod.org/articles/when-god-interrupts-your-plans

Monday, January 12, 2015

Scars, Stretch Marks and Muffin Tops

Those 3 words so accurately describe the majority of our post baby bodies. I have struggled with each of my children accepting the wear and tear on my body that naturally comes with pregnancy, nursing and motherhood.  While my closet may appear otherwise, if I were to bump into you at target there is about a 99% chance that I will be wearing yoga pants and a tshirt.  No, I have never done yoga, but I can't leave the house in pajamas and skinny jeans and a cute top are not practical for wrangling 3 small children in and out of the van, shopping cart and attempting to get my to do list accomplished before the melt downs begin.

A dear friend gave me the book Loving the Little Years by Rachel Jankovic after having my second child and it powerfully transformed my thinking.  I have to go back and re-read one specific chapter often when I find myself focused on the things I hate about my body. Hopefully this will encourage you as it has refreshed my perspective this week.

"Motherhood uses your body in a way that God designed it to be used...motherhood is what your stomach was made for- and any wear and tear that it shows is simply the sign of a well used tool...So use it cheerfully and maintain it cheerfully. When you are working hard to lose the baby weight (as you may need to), think of it as tool maintenance. You want to fix up your body in order to be able to use it more. It might be used for more children, or it might be used to take care of the children you have.  ...Scars, stretch marks and muffin tops are all part of your kingdom work. One of the greatest testimonies Christian women can have in our world today, is the testimony of joyfully giving your body to another....So realize that your body is a testimony to the world of Gods design. Carry the extra weight joyfully until you can lose it joyfully. Carry the scars joyfully as you carry the fruit of them. Do not resent the damages that your children left on your body, just like a guitar mellows and sounds better with age and scratches, so your body can more fully praise God having been used for his purposes."  Rachel Jankovic in "Loving The Little Years"

Wow.

This seriously rocks my world every time I read it. Carry the extra weight joyfully, until you can lose it joyfully. That sentence I have repeated in my head several hundred times in the last few months.
As I begin the journey of tool maintenance and joyfully lose the extra weight, I am thankful for the constant reminder that I am fearfully and wonderfully made. I am also thankful that for me losing weight is not super easy. Discipline is so important, and to be honest if it were easy, I would not have to be disciplined. I also would not have discovered how important healthy foods and proper nutrition really are. Before having babies I could eat whatever I wanted and pretty much maintain my weight. The older I get and the more children I have, my body and metabolism require healthy foods to achieve and maintain a healthy body.  I love that I can trust AdvoCare products to be safe and also be a catalyst to achieving my goals.  It is so hard to get to the gym, and start making lifestyle changes and so often we give it 30 days but see no results and quickly give up or give in.  I love knowing that I WILL get results.  The 24 day challenge for me is more than just a few health products I take, its a lifestyle. Its a decision to commit to the process of getting healthy. Its a decision to make healthy food a priority in our home. I struggle with consistency, so anything that helps be focus and be disciplined is a win win!

My deepest desire is that as mothers we can lessen the expectations we have for ourselves to be so perfect not only physically, but emotionally as well. Motherhood demands everything from us. Loving our children well. Learning how to discipline and shape their sensitive yet strong wills. It is a challenge, but I pray that we will receive the calling with Joy.




Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Fast Forward


What will life to look like in 5 years??
I will have a 9 yr old, 8 year old and 5 year old. CRAZY. Maybe even MORE kids! EEK
And that is going to be here faster than I can even imagine. How do I know, because this year I will have a 5 year old. It seems like yesterday I got to hold her tiny 5lb self after being delivered 6 weeks earlier than planned. TIME FLIES. I don't know how the saying goes, but the days are LOOOOONNNGGGG but the years FLY by.

I would not have ever classified myself as a dreamer, or goal setter to be honest. Im the type that is trying to figure out how the heck I'm gonna make it through today and this week much less the next year. Who has time to think about next year. But two years ago something happened.

My sweet Allie was 3, it was April and landscaping season had begun. Daddy worked HARD for our family, long hours so that I could be home to raise our children, however that came at a cost. He worked long days for corporate job, and nights and weekends to build another business to provide the income we needed to support our quickly expanding family. Michael left out the garage door and Allie ran, fast and hard, and crying, banging on the door begging to go with daddy. I felt like I was watching my heart as thats how I really felt too. Desperately wishing he didn't have to go out again and work long, physically exhausting hours.
Now the truth is my heart had been struggling because I didn't understand WHY he HAD to work all the time. What I didn't see was how HARD my sweet man was fighting for our better future. He knew he was created for more than excel spreadsheets and managing a budget. He didn't know WHAT but he knew WHY. He wanted a different future than what that would bring. He wanted financial freedom, to be able to give freely to our church, support ministries and people we love. He wanted to enjoy life to the fullest and pursue his passions without the pressure and burden of time and money. 
If I'm honest we fought often because his fighting wore me out. I did not understand WHY. Until that day. The banging on the back door, crying for her daddy to come play.
For the first time I wanted HIS future to look different too. I realized all his hard work and long hours was fighting for our family, and for a better future, but at the expense of less time with us, more hours working to take care of our family. I wanted him to have more time with our kiddos to be the amazing Daddy that is his and wanted to be.

Thats when I asked myself the question I first asked you...

What is life gonna look like in 5 years if nothing changes? 
Or even just 2 years. What will our crazy life look like in 2 years? 

Then I started taking small baby steps every day. I began investing in myself, reading, challenging myself to become more. Realized if I could change and better my future, could I help others change and better theirs? 
<FAST FORWARD>
"2 years from now" has arrived. 
He is here.
He ate breakfast and lunch with us.
He picked them up from preschool and randomly took them to a park today in freezing cold weather when they saw a FUN NEW PARK.
He rocked Noah to sleep at nap time and even lingered to "snuggle please" at a precious request. Last week I walked in to an elaborate tea party he had set up for Allie.

The most powerful thing I realize now that happened that day in April 2 years ago is that I realized I didn't have to stay where I was. I could be more, become more and in turn maybe I could impact our families future for the better. I realized I was made for something more. I wanted more out of life. I was not ok with Michael working 80 hours a week to provide for us causing him to miss out on so many of the memories and precious gifts that come with raising children. Because of that day, he is now here. He has TIME with our children. He is a gift to them, they are the sweetest gifts to his soul.