Tag Archives: family

Just Another Day in the Life

2 Mar

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I’m exhausted! It has been a long and kind of crazy day, but I’ll be darned if I don’t post for the final day of the 7 Posts in 7 Days challenge with Jen of Conversion Diary! With the Oscars in the background, I’m going to recap another blessed day in the life of this mommy and her two little daughters! Even though there so many times when I’m like, “Are you serious?”, I’m thankful for every moment!

I took the girls to Mass this morning by myself since Adam had to work today. (Also, the only reason I’m able to watch the Oscars tonight is because he’s not here! Of course, I’d rather have him home, but I like watching award shows once in awhile!) Fortunately, the girls behaved pretty well, although we still have to camp out in the family room each Sunday because Adri (my youngest) has the worst timing when she likes to say (loudly) things like “stinky” and “Are we done yet?” And, yes, both of those were said today. I really hate sitting in the family room, but it’s better than feeling like I’m going to pop a vein due to my impulsive two-year-old!

Anyway, all was well until nap time, when Adri decided that she would take her time falling asleep (unbeknownst to me) and started crying a half hour later just as I was entering through the gates of dreamland. Fortunately, she went to sleep after checking in on her. My oldest hadn’t fallen asleep yet, so this put a wrench in our own naps since Carmen couldn’t get back to sleep after this interruption. I was really looking forward to a nap today, but it wasn’t meant to be!

Apparently, my four-year-old turned into a teenage boy this afternoon, because she about ate me out of house and home! It was like the lunch that would never end! “Mommy, I’m still hungry.” Mommy, I’m still hungry.” “Mommy, I’m stiiiillll hungry.” Yeah…

Meanwhile, Adri was practicing her newly acquired cutting skills at the table. With her little red and blue safety scissors she sure made lots of confetti! I’m pretty sure I swept up a couple hundred pieces of paper over the course of the afternoon! At least it is one activity that she can focus on for more than 2.5 seconds!

In between folding towels and socks, we squeezed in a little dance party in the kitchen while my favorite Pandora station played on the iPad. It’s fun moments like this that make being a mom of girls such a blast! I can try out all the wicked dance moves I want and don’t have to be self-conscious! If only I could spin in endless circles like they can!

I knew it was only a matter of time before my nap-less daughter started acting like she didn’t have a nap today. All of a sudden every little thing became a crisis around dinnertime. It was a good thing that a storm rolled through at that time, because the sound of thunder magically transformed her attitude. It was the perfect distraction! Oh, and turning on Sprout doesn’t hurt either!

I forgot to mention that Carmen has entered that fascination stage with “potty” words and name calling. So all day I’m hearing variations of “Booty Butt”, “Booty Boo”, “Boo Boo”, and so on. Hope this little phase doesn’t last too long! Oh, and sprinkle in lots of “Moooooommmmmyyyyyyy” throughout the day, too! Somehow a couple extra syllables get thrown in whenever my two-year-old draws it out extra slowly, and extra irritatingly.

Pajama time, clean-up, and the whole bedtime routine went well tonight. My four-year-old inspected the job that her younger sister and I did putting away the toys in the basement. She stated, “You didn’t clean up like I wanted you to, so I organized them.” Yep, that’s Carmen for ya!

This 7 Posts, 7 Days thing has caught up with me, so I’m ready for bed. Have a great week, everyone! We made it!

Meet My Two Little Girls!

27 Feb

When referring to my girls on this blog (currently ages 4 and 2), I’ve been pretty hesitant to use their full names. I know that’s a little odd for a Catholic blogger, but I just don’t feel quite comfortable with plastering photos of them with the possibility of being seen by some random crazy person browsing the internet! Maybe I’m being a little paranoid, but today I’m making an exception! I’m linking up with Kathryn of Team Whitaker to talk about the stories behind our girls’ names! {Congratulations, Kathryn, on your new baby!}

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Carmen Sofia 

Let me just say that I had no idea how incredibly difficult it would be for us to agree on a name for our first born daughter! I felt like 99% of my name ideas were rejected by my husband. To be fair, I rejected most of the name ideas that he had!

About a year before we even knew we were pregnant, Adam co-wrote a song titled, “Sophia,” that was a beautiful lullaby-type song from a father to his daughter. He really liked this name and we thought that it would be neat to name her after this song. However, it was a very popular name especially a few years ago, and as one of three “Stephanies” in my elementary class I did not want her to have such a common name. We decided to keep this name as a middle name and change the “ph” to “f” since that is how my name (Stefanie) is spelled. Bonus: Sofia means wisdom, so that can’t hurt, right?!

Carmen was a name that I had liked for awhile. Once I discovered that it meant “song” in Latin, I think that sealed the deal for Adam and me! I liked that it was a fairly uncommon name- at least among white Americans! I’m sure there are several women with the name Carmen Sofia all over South America and Spain!

When we started telling people what her name would be, a couple responses I heard were, “Is that a family name?” and “Are you going to call her Sofia?” Basically that meant, “Why on earth would you name your child Carmen?”  I loved her name, though, and it didn’t affect our final decision, obviously!

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Adriana Grace

This time around, I made sure that we found out the gender before we even began discussing baby names. I figured it would cut our arguments discussions in half!

Since we went with a music theme with our first daughter, we wanted to incorporate that in some way for our second girl. One of Adam’s favorite musicians is Vince Gill. He always loved the song “Pretty Little Adriana.” I thought this was a beautiful name and had ear-marked it in the back of my mind.

We did consider her first name to be Grace with Anna as a middle name, but her initials would have been GAS, and I wasn’t going to do that! So, we settled on Grace as her middle name! All in all, we spent about one evening seriously discussing her name before deciding! It was much easier than the first time!

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Carmen meeting Adriana for the first time! She couldn’t get enough of her!

This is Day 4 of the 7 Posts in 7 Days Challenge with Jennifer Fulwiler of Conversion Diary! I’m over halfway done now! Woohoo!

Interview with an Everyday Catholic: Theresa Thomas {June’s Dreamer in the Spotlight}

28 Jun

Theresa Thomas
Source: The Integrated Catholic Life

I am so honored to be featuring Wife/Mother/Home-schooler/Writer Theresa Thomas, as this month’s Dreamer in the Spotlight! She is the co-author of the recently released book, BIG HEARTED: Inspiring Stories from Everyday Families and blogs at Theresa Thomas~Everyday Catholic. She also writes articles for The Integrated Catholic Life and Today’s Catholic.

A funny thing that I have to share is that while preparing to do this interview, I discovered that Theresa’s family and my family actually went to the same small parish at the same time until I moved to Tennessee. When I saw her beautiful family photo on her blog some members looked familiar, but I didn’t make the connection until I discovered that she lives in South Bend, Indiana. It’s a small world for sure! I often marveled at how well- behaved all her children were during Mass!

Anyway, without postponing this inspirational interview any longer, here it is! As you’ll see, it’s packed with great wisdom and touching moments!

How do you balance writing, homeschooling, and caring for a large family?

Well, it’s like golfing. You aim toward the pin (set your goals) then you hit the ball where it lies (roll with the punches). If you think too much you’ll ruin your swing (rhythm, routine). You have to find your own personal feel, react decisively on instinct and be natural. Yes, I’m married to a golfer. 🙂

Seriously, balancing these things can be like a tightrope walk, but the best way I’ve found to approach it is with love and humor. Things go wrong sometimes- that’s just life. Also, I’m going to make mistakes- we all make mistakes- but just diving in, trying hard with focus, keeping a smile on my face and love in my heart (even when the rice spills all over the floor or I can’t find my car keys or someone loses her spelling book, or one of the girls informs me that her toe poked through her ballet slipper and her instructor said she has to have new ones by next class in one hour) is my best advice and the way I balance!

I try always to put family first. I made a vow to my husband and to God. So everything –and I mean everything- comes after my responsibility to them. That being said, taking care of myself is part of that- it’s important because I’m no good unless I’m well nourished and rested. Moms can only give what they have, so I try to take the time to eat well, exercise, pray and get enough sleep. I do that for all of us. 🙂 I wrote about this all here.

Raising a large family is a challenging endeavor. Children need attention in a myriad of ways. Meals have to be made. The house has to be cleaned. My first responsibility is my vocation of wife and mother, and homeschooling is part of that vocation, a chosen part of that vocation so it is integrated into our daily life.

Photo by Scott Leonard of Valentino's Photographics (Granger, IN)

Photo by Scott Leonard of Valentino’s Photographics (Granger, IN)

Writing mostly comes early in the morning or late at night, when everyone is in bed. I have a column due each month for Today’s Catholic and I try be organized and write ahead, but I’d be lying if I didn’t say sometimes I’ll have a noon Friday deadline and it’s 11:25 and I’m still punching out at the computer! That’s just life! Because of the topics of my writing, I’m often invited to speak on various radio programs. Twice I’ve forgotten a scheduled interview and had to wing it. Once was at 6:50 a.m. and I was actually still in bed when the phone rang. I jumped up and seeing the caller ID was the radio station, I cleared my throat about six times before I answered. I scrambled around while it was a commercial and I was able to quickly make some coffee while the producer was putting me on hold for the host. Once we got talking the interview actually went fine but boy, was my adrenaline pumping at first! So, am I balanced? Sort of. Most things get done, although not always perfectly! And thank goodness for radio where you can do interviews in your pajamas. 🙂

In regards to homeschooling—

David and I determined after much research, prayer and discernment 18 years ago that God was leading our family to homeschool (until high school), and it takes 100% of our time. Homeschooling is a way of life. It’s a way we parent. It’s just part of the rhythm of our days, and one way we try to say ‘I love you’ to our children. Homeschooling isn’t for everybody, but it is for us, and I believe that somehow it is an important part of my children’s formation for their eventual mission in the world.

God gives different families different charisms, different gifts, and as parents we are to discover God’s will not just for us and our children individually, but also for our individual families. I believe that homeschooling is part of what God is calling our family to do. Other families have other callings. This is ours.

I struggle just the same as everyone else with balancing work and play in a large family. My house is not always in order, and worries and concerns pop up here just like everywhere else. Sometimes, like any other mother I slump down in a chair and look up to heaven and ask, “Really, God?” One day, in the midst of a particularly trying day, I sat down at the kitchen table and started laughing hysterically- nothing more could have gone wrong that day and it was the only thing left to do. One of the girls walked in and I’m sure was like, “Mom has lost it.” No, that’s how I find it- peace that is. You have to be able to laugh. Life is ironic and funny and challenging, sad and sorrowful and a million other things. There’s time for seriousness for sure, but knowing when to laugh keeps levity and right perspective.

Being a mother is like being a baby who is learning to walk- you try, you fall, you get up and try again. It’s the only way, really. You just keep moving forward with joy and hope. Then one day you’ll be standing there and look back and say, “Hey, I did that!”

How would you define what it means to be big-hearted, especially in the context of family life?

Being big hearted is a way of thinking and acting. It is putting others first. We have a few little favorite catchphrases in our family. One is “it is a privilege to serve.” Ten and twelve-year-old big sisters know this when their little sister asks for a drink of water. Big brothers know this when a younger sibling asks if they’ll play catch. My older sons who have graduated from college and are out of the house are great. They will phone or text their younger siblings to find out what is happening in their lives and give advice and encouragement. Being big hearted is looking out for others ahead of yourself, and that starts first with siblings and family, and extends out to the rest of the world.

Being ‘big hearted’ doesn’t necessarily mean having a big family- it can mean that of course, but families are big hearted when they welcome a child with a disability, adopt, open their home to grandparents, or in a thousand other ways serve others. Being big hearted can be doing small things in the home with great love. Big-hearted families are easy to spot. They are not perfect. They simply try to love radically. Inevitably, these families are marked by joy. Their hearts are open. We can all be big-hearted.

You shared some great personal stories of your own family in BIG HEARTED. Could you share another special big-hearted moment that wasn’t in the book?

Well, I don’t frequently share that I battled cancer eight years ago, but I did. I was personally challenged to big-heartedness in April of 2005. I had to accept the cross that was offered to me. On April 5, 2005 I gave birth to my ninth baby. Within two weeks, my 20-year-old youngest brother was killed in a car accident, and the day of his rosary at the funeral home I went in for a biopsy. Two days later I was diagnosed with cancer- Hodgkins lymphoma to be exact. The story of part of my struggle was published here.

Through this experience I was challenged to be true to my Catholic faith and reject artificial birth control. It wasn’t easy.

On a lighter note, one personal family big-hearted moment occurred recently when my husband and I were sitting in the family room after dinner together. Our two youngest daughters surprised us by calling us in the basement to visit their ‘restaurant’. Of course we dropped what we were doing and went downstairs. Children need the gift of our time and when we gave it to them that night, we were really the ones who were blessed. The whole story of that is here.

Being big hearted is not just doing amazing things outside your own family, but by doing little things with great love inside the family too. Parents can be big-hearted daily simply by giving their children their time and attention. They will find that that type of big-heartedness reaps big rewards.

Do you have a favorite book, quote, song, or movie that motivates and inspires you?

Yes!

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Source: Wikipedia

It’s a Wonderful Life is one of my all time favorite movies. What a gift to be able to know what your sacrifices and love have done for others! I think some day in heaven we will all look back and see the ripple effect we had on others’ lives, both good and bad. This movie is great on so many levels- it has a hardworking, feminine, beautiful loving mother (Mary), a selfless, honorable, full-of-hope-and-dreams father (George). It’s a story of integrity, hope, love and meaning. It captures so much about what life is all about. “It’s a Wonderful Life” is truly a big screen big-hearted story!

I have several favorite quotes:

“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” (Phil 4:13)

“If you judge people, you have no time to love them.” (Mother Teresa)

“Do small things with great love.” (I think this has been attributed to several sources including St. Therese and Mother Teresa)

And this, which I’ve had taped on my wall for many many years.

“Let nothing disturb thee. Let nothing dismay thee. All things pass; God never changes. Patience attains all that it strives for. He who has God finds he lacks nothing: God alone suffices.” -St. Teresa of Avila

~

Thank you, Theresa, for sharing so much of yourself with us today!

For more about BIG HEARTED, please read Theresa’s interview with Randy Hain.

Have a blessed weekend, everyone!

A Reflection on 8 Years of Marriage

25 Jun

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The above photo is one of my favorites! Adam and I were so happy to share this special day with so many of our close friends and family members! I remember not wanting to leave the next day to drive from Indiana down to Tennessee, because it was so wonderful to be around so many people I loved at one time! Occasions like this must be a small taste of what heaven will be like!

Today marks our 8th wedding anniversary! Here we are – a dog, a conversion, a house, two kids, and a 30th birthday later! AND HAPPIER THAN EVER! We truly feel so blessed to have been called to this vocation. We’ve had to go through growing pains, just like any couple does, especially in the first few years and when adjusting to the life-altering event of a first child! We’ve yelled, thrown things, cried, rolled our eyes, and slept on the edges of our beds as far apart as possible… There have been plenty of moments that we’re not proud of, but we have come through every challenge and emerged closer and stronger because of them!

It’s amazing how much things improved when we began TRULY putting God at the center of our marriage and surrendered our will to His! We mutually sacrificed more for each other and the good of our family. (It’s interesting how kids quickly change our priorities for the better, huh?! We’re forced to be selfless and re-examine our lives!) We started focusing on daily blessings and treasuring small moments. Joy has multiplied in our family in recent months!

A couple years ago, we both began journeys of seeking out God’s will and really being open to whatever He asks of us. I started devouring life-changing books about inspirational and faithful people with great wisdom! (I currently have quite a stack on my bedroom dresser waiting to be tackled!) I asked God to help me with my quickness to anger towards Adam, and you know what? He did! I’m happy to say that God’s grace has shaped me into a much more understanding and positive wife!

Adam began facing a lot of family hurt that had kept him in an emotional prison. He buried his former vision of his fantasy music career and started asking God how his talents should be used in the context of keeping his family his main priority. He started listening to Catholic radio again and watching impactful documentaries. He read (listened to) Wild at Heart by John Eldredge. Adam has grown into a joy-filled man full of confidence and conviction.

It has been eight years of chiseling and sharpening each other for heaven! It is a tragedy that so many couples abandon their vows before they experience the joy of a bond made stronger after facing adversity with forgiveness, faith, and hope. God-willing, eight years is just the beginning of our married journey! We know there are many years of change and challenge ahead (and probably some more eye-rolling on my part!), but with God at the center our love will endure!

Happy Anniversary, Baby!

Being Joyful on Purpose (Despite Neighbors and Old Cars)!

14 Jun
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First day of my senior year of high school with my new car! My bro was a lucky freshman who got to ride with me instead of on the bus!

Some days I want to move. I want to live in a neighborhood where people don’t park their cars in the front yard. I’m sick of fixing one thing after another on this house. I’m tired of vacuuming every day because my pomeranian’s hair is all over the place.

I can’t wait to buy a new (to me) car. One where the dashboard isn’t curling up from years of being parked out under the sun, the side door doesn’t have a dent from accidentally scraping against a fire hydrant, and the front passenger window isn’t taped up to prevent it from sliding down due to some weird electrical issue that’s been fixed twice already.

I wish I had more money. Not an obnoxious amount – just enough to feel like an unexpected crisis is going to put us back to square one of rebuilding our emergency savings. And enough to buy a decent used mini-van or SUV when my 13-year-old Grand Am decides it’s been driven too many miles.

I’m sure I could go on about all of the things that are lacking in my life and complain about from time to time, but I’m going to choose not to because I prefer (most days) to focus on the many blessings I have in my life – the special relationships, priceless moments, and undeserved gifts.

Just last evening alone, I experienced so many blessings. After work, I went to my parents’ house to pick up my daughters from an afternoon swimming lesson at their pool. My parents had just made dinner, which was perfect because I was hungrier than usual and was afraid that if I didn’t eat soon my patience would wear thin with the girls. When I sat down to join everybody else who was almost done eating, my two-year-old reminded me to pray! So cute, as she’s just learning to make the sign-of-the-cross and say grace before meals right now!

On the way home, my husband called to FaceTime with my four-year-old. Every night that my husband works, they always communicate via FaceTime before she goes to bed! And each night, including last night, “C” won’t let him off the phone until they both kiss their screens at the same time and hug their phones. Can you say A-D-O-R-A-B-L-E?!

And if that wasn’t adorable enough, when I walked into “C’s” room to get her ready for bed I found her standing at her dresser with her hands folded looking at a framed photo of her Daddy holding her when she was a baby. I asked her what she was doing and “C” said, “I’m praying for Daddy.” I asked her what she was praying for and she said, “I’m praying that he comes back to me and I want him to know that I’ll always love him.” MELT MY HEART! It was the sweetest thing I’ve ever seen in my life!

After precious cuddle time and big kisses and hugs, “C” and I even peeked out the window to watch the fireflies before she fell asleep. Then, later in the evening, I received this text from my husband- “Thanks for loving me :)”. These moments refresh me and make the vocation of marriage and raising a family so joy-filled. It may seem like just an average night, but how sad it would be if I were to dismiss and overlook all of these blessings!

Maybe I paid extra attention to these moments last night, because on Wednesday afternoon a beloved longtime co-worker lost her husband to a massive heart attack. It’s times like these when our priorities are really put into perspective and we cling a little tighter to what who matters. I want to be able to look back some each day and feel grateful that I soaked up precious time with those I love and didn’t hold anything back. I want to know that I sacrificed, gave too many hugs to count, said “I love you” a million times, and brought joy to others because I lived my own life joyfully, on purpose.

I love my house. I love that we live in a nice town so close to the lake, several parks, and my parents’. I love that my girls have nice rooms and warm beds to sleep in. I love that we have a finished basement with plenty of room for them to play and my husband has his own studio. I love that we only have one full bath – one less shower to clean! I love that we have a fenced-in backyard for Princess.

I’m grateful that my car has lasted this long. It was paid for by my parents and despite several cosmetic weaknesses, it has ran great which is what counts the most!

I’m thankful that God has provided what we have needed. It seems like anytime we get a bonus or some extra money, it goes straight to pay for a repair or a medical bill, but I know that is just what we needed at the right time! I’m thankful for our jobs. My husband and I are able to spend as much time with our young girls as possible and still provide for our family’s needs. We’ll never be able to get this time back with them and we know how much every moment counts.

A thankful heart is the key to joy. And this joy is all because of Him!

Have a great weekend, and live life intentionally TODAY!

*This post is part of the Catholic Blogger’s Network June 2013 Link-Up Blitz.

Real Connections = Real Change

7 Jun

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Often times, I think we, as Christians, feel like we aren’t doing enough to reach others or we get caught up in how many people we can influence. Of course, with the emphasis on the New Evangelization and this being The Year of Faith, many of us are focused on how we can better spread the truth of Jesus and the faith. This is something to which we are all called for sure and needs to be done.

Sometimes, though, I think we are distracted by the “big picture”. The truth is, as the quotes on this page point out, that showing love to our spouse, children, and neighbors is the most powerful and meaningful way that we can bring about change in our culture.

I think many of us who are busy working and raising young children, especially, may feel like we aren’t contributing as much as we’d like in our parishes and communities. (For me, personally, this is why I love to blog. I am able to work a full-time job, take care of the family that God has blessed me with, and still feel like I’m offering something outside my own little world.) We need to remember, though, that building strong, loving families is the foundation of our society and is worthy of most of our time and attention. Being able to sacrfice for our children in this way, enables us to grow in selflessness and be more open to whatever God is calling us to do now and in the future.

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When we do find ourselves in situations where we can reach out to others beyond our family, we are still called to focus on each individual person. As last month’s featured Dreamer Ryan Eggenberger encouraged, “Everybody – every single persion – is worth it to God. That means everybody – every single  person- is worth it to you and to me.” When we, through our actions, express to someone else that they, alone, matter to us and to God that is when real connections and relationships bloom. This is when we are most like Jesus.

It is, of course, easier said than done at times to take ourselves away from our work, thoughts, and to-do lists to really be present to others. Going outside of our comfort zones to really make a connection with someone can make us vulnerable to being rejected, but without taking risks and listening to promptings from the Holy Spirit, life would be pretty lonely.

I think a great example of someone who is living out this idea of influencing others by making deep connections is Contemporary Christian Music artist Matthew West. Matthew’s two most recent albums consist of songs that were inspired by stories of  specific individuals. He read thousands of letters sent to him and then crafted some of these into hopeful and healing songs. On Matthew West’s website he shares the real-life stories behind each song. The cool thing is that several people are relating to these songs, even though each one was written for a particular person!

If you have not listened to Matthew’s latest Into the Light CD yet, I highly recommend it! My girls love dancing and singing the words, too!

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We all have a role to play to bring others closer to Jesus. It can be as simple as making eye contact and giving a smile to a stranger – or your child. 

Have a great weekend, everyone!

The Shick Family Christmas {7 Quick Takes (#6)}

2 Jan

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I hope everyone had a blessed holiday season! We had a great time with our family and friends over the past two weeks, but it was a rather eventful Christmas! In order to help me step back and laugh at the situation, I thought I’d put together a little multiple choice quiz of our crazy vacation!

Here are the choices for the questions below:
A. Adam
B. Stefanie
C. Big Sister “C”
D. Little “A”
E. All of the Above

1. After being on the road for only 2 minutes and stopping to get gas, who spotted a tire low on air that ended up having a nail in it?

2. Who had intestinal issues for most of the weekend that caused horrible, painful diaper rash?

3. Which family member spent all Christmas Day in bed due to lower back pain?

4. Who had to be taken to urgent care due to a scratched cornea caused by a pink headband?

5. Which person did all the driving and most of the loading/unloading of luggage (included 20 total hours and stops at four different family members’ houses)?

6. Who got delayed one day of traveling back to Tennessee due to winter weather in Indiana?

7. Which one had a major meltdown once we finally arrived back home that included locking her bedroom door and refusing to open it for several minutes?

Answers 1. A; 2. D; 3. B; 4. D; 5. A; 6. E; 7. C

Even though we faced some challenges, there were many blessings mixed in! First of all, Adam was able to catch the flat tire prior to us getting very far and all tires were replaced due to worn treads. Secondly, I was able to rest my back an extra day due to the blizzard that caused us to delay our drive back. Thirdly, Little A’s eye healed 99% in less than 24 hours despite a bad scratch that was visible without dye. She left the patch on an entire day without much fuss! Finally, we arrived home safely!

Be sure to check out the other 7 Quick Takes posts at Moxie Wife this week!  Thanks, Hallie!  My prayers are with you, Jen!

A Randomly Chosen Winner? {Matthew West – December’s Dreamer in the Spotlight}

21 Dec

There are times in life when you just know that God is trying to show you something, and what I’m about to describe is one of those moments…

Last Tuesday, Adam and I were blessed to be able to enjoy an intimate mid-day performance in downtown Nashville by Matthew West that will air on SiriusXM’s The Message. (Thanks to my supervisor for letting me have a late, extended lunch!) While the concert itself was amazing (and I will talk about it more in a little bit), the story of getting the opportunity to go is pretty awesome, as well, so I’ll start at the beginning…

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Over the Thanksgiving weekend we spent time at my parents’ house. I heard my dad showing Adam the latest Matthew West CD, Into the Light, that he recently bought. (I was familiar with Matthew West’s background and some of his music already, but not a dedicated fan – yet!) We started discussing how he is the type of artist that Adam aspires to be and it would be neat if he could meet with him over lunch or whatever to ask him some questions and get some insight into how he balances family and music, etc. About a week later, my dad emails me details about an opportunity to randomly win two tickets to an in-studio performance by Matthew West in Nashville. Without giving it much thought, and noting that the timing was too perfect to be a coincidence, I entered the contest. A few days later I received an email that I was one of the winners! I really wasn’t surprised that I won, because I sensed that God was trying to speak to us, especially Adam, through Matthew. (I later found out that even my dad wasn’t surprised, because after I told him I entered the contest, he decided he didn’t need to enter it anymore!) Let me just note, that if it wasn’t for my dad getting Matthew West’s CD and showing it to Adam just a week prior, he probably would not have alerted me about the contest!

So back to the SiriusXM performance at the Bridgestone Arena… There was only about 40-50 people in this small room above the Visitor’s Center, and I’m sure each person that day was supposed to be there for a reason. (That’s the great thing about Matthew West’s concerts – I don’t see how anyone can leave and not be affected and changed in some way.) Adam said that he could feel the Holy Spirit in the room, and I definitely agree!

For those who aren’t familiar with Matthew West, his past two albums have consisted of songs written about some of the heart-breaking personal experiences he has received in over 20,000 letters. Each of his songs is about a specific individual and what God’s response would be to offer hope and healing. To listen to the songs and read these stories, check out Matthew West’s website. He has found a way to make his music career not about himself, but about encouraging others! How refreshing and inspirational! It’s something that Adam has really struggled with lately when thinking about his future music plans. He does not want to do music for his own sake, for money, or for fame. Adam wants to use his music to make a difference and he doesn’t want to promote himself just to try to gain more fans.

Adam said that this is the first time he has listened to live music without focusing on whether or not the singer hit the right notes or if the right part was played. He went to the performance totally open to listen with his heart. I can’t tell you how many times Adam gave me this look of, “Are you serious? Is he reading my mind? This is crazy!” Matthew also had his daughter, Lulu, there with him. Like us, he has two little girls, so that’s just another reason Adam feels he can relate to him. During the interview portion of the show, Matthew was asked if it was hard to be on the road when his girls were so young. Matthew stated that he struggled with it a lot and wondered if it was really God’s will to pursue his ministry while leaving his family at home. He said that God has provided ways for things to work out, and now they are able to home-school their girls so his family can be on the road with him when he goes on tour. This is one of those times when Adam looked at me with eyes that said, “Wow, this guy is totally like who I want to be! What is God trying to tell me?!” Adam has talked often, recently, about wondering if God would want him to be away from the girls and our family to pursue music.

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After this amazing performance that will be airing at some point on The Message (Keep an ear out, those of you who have SiriusXM!), we all got to do a little meet-and-greet with Matthew and he signed free CD’s!! Adam is still processing everything that happened in that hour-and-a-half on a Tuesday afternoon! God was definitely speaking and we’ll be keeping everyone updated on the next steps!

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Please check out Matthew West’s music! He’s bringing truth and hope to people in a real way! Artists like him should be supported! I know that he has at least two new devoted fans in Tennessee!

Merry Christmas and see you back at A Dreamer’s Wife in 2013!  I’ll leave all you dreamers with the lyrics to Matthew West’s song, Do Something!

Verse 1:
I woke up this morning
Saw a world full of trouble now
Thought, how’d we ever get so far down
How’s it ever gonna turn around

So I turned my eyes to Heaven
I thought, “God, why don’t You do something?”
Well, I just couldn’t bear the thought of
People living in poverty

Children sold into slavery
The thought disgusted me
So, I shook my fist at Heaven
Said, “God, why don’t You do something?”

He said, “I did, I created you”

Chorus:
If not us, then who
If not me and you
Right now, it’s time for us to do something
If not now, then when
Will we see an end
To all this pain
It’s not enough to do nothing
It’s time for us to do something

Verse 2:
I’m so tired of talking
About how we are God’s hands and feet
But it’s easier to say than to be
Live like angels of apathy who tell ourselves
It’s alright, “somebody else will do something”

Well, I don’t know about you
But I’m sick and tired of life with no desire
I don’t want a flame, I want a fire
I wanna be the one who stands up and says,
“I’m gonna do something”

Chorus:
If not us, then who
If not me and you
Right now, it’s time for us to do something (yes, it is)
If not now, then when
Will we see an end
To all this pain
It’s not enough to do nothing
It’s time for us to do something

Bridge:
We are the salt of the earth
We are a city on a hill (shine shine, shine shine)
But we’re never gonna change the world
By standing still
No we won’t stand still (x3)

Chorus:
If not us, then who
If not me and you
Right now, it’s time for us to do something
If not now, then when
Will we see an end
To all this pain
It’s not enough to do nothing
It’s time for us to do something

It’s time for us to do something (x2)

Read more: http://artists.letssingit.com/matthew-west-lyrics-do-something-mdw36nq#ixzz2FhDtRCYs
LetsSingIt – Your favorite Music Community

Anything You Want: Creating an Independent Artist Utopia

5 Oct

Have you heard of CD Baby?  This company sells independent music online and was founded by Derek Sivers in 1998 and, despite his intentions, became a multimillion dollar business.  A few months ago, I read his book Anything You Want that detailed what he learned about starting and running a business, etc.  His book is not the typical business leadership book – and I loved it! I often find myself coming back to some of the nuggets of wisdom in this short read when making plans and goals for our future, especially in regards to Adam’s music career.

Business is not about money.  It’s about making dreams come true for others and for yourself.

Starting with no money is an advantage.  You don’t need money to start helping people.

When you make a company, you make a utopia.  It’s where you design your perfect world.

I love that Adam and I can create his own “musician utopia.”  There are no “rules” that we have to follow.  There is no record label dictating his schedule and how he spends his time.  He is not confined to a specific genre and does not have to fit a certain type of mold.  Our family can still be a priority and he can write songs about his faith without being confined to the Christian music category box.

Recently, I ran across an old post at Indie Vision Music that asked people what they thought of an article written by artist Gungor on his website, titled “Why the Christian music category shouldn’t exist.”  The post brought up some intriguing points and the comments that followed were pretty interesting, as well.  I know that categories can be useful, but they can be limiting, as well.  Also, it seems odd to me to confine songs about God to a small section of the music industry… Let me know what you think!

A big part of creating our utopia is figuring out how to use Adam’s talents to help others.  I love the following quote by Aristotle.

Where your talents and the needs of the world cross, there lies your vocation.

If we focus on how Adam’s music can be used to help others, then I think we will be on the right track.  We used to be so consumed with how and when Adam could be a big enough artist to support our family, but now we’re not focused on the money aspect.  Money and fame are not motivators for Adam.  I, personally, just want Adam to be able to enjoy doing music without putting additional pressure on himself.  We are both blessed to  have jobs and be able to spend so much time with our daughters.  God has provided for us time and again financially and I know that He will continue to do so.

Also, Adam wants to be true to himself and his beliefs and sing about things that matter.  He doesn’t like how the music industry panders to a certain demographic.  Country music is a perfect example of this.  Many (superficial) singles on the radio right now have to do with trucks, dirt roads, and drinking.  What happened to the country music of 10 years ago that inspired Adam to move to Nashville? What happened to meaningful songs about love, faith, and family?  I like a fun, upbeat song as much as the next person, but seriously, where is the substance?  Even Vince Gill, Adam’s musical idol, has commented on this topic.

In addition, while social media has given artists more ways to connect to people than ever before, it also forces one to constantly be promoting and thinking of the next gimmick to get everyone’s attention.  From trying to make viral YouTube videos to coming up with a unique merchandise item to sell, it almost seems like there is more effort put into “attention-getters” than the actual music itself.

Of course, doing things on our own is more challenging and time-consuming than if we had a team of professional industry insiders to guide Adam’s musical dreams, but how much would we have to compromise?  How would our marriage endure?  Would our family suffer?  I’m so excited that Adam can release an album (yes, he’s working on a full-length album as opposed to the popular 5-song EP in this radio single-dominated market) full of whatever music he wants.  Some songs are upbeat with irresistible melodies.  Others are thought-provoking, insightful and inspiring.  We are learning how to do new things in order to be creative and professional on our tiny budget.  The freedom that we have is definitely worth the extra time.

Welcome to our utopia- where God, family, being real, and figuring out how our dreams can help others rules our ever-expanding little world!

What does your utopia look like?

The Year of Faith: Living Without Fear

21 Sep

Usually January 1st marks the annual time to contemplate goals and make resolutions, but in a few weeks many Catholics will begin a new year of sorts that will consist of challenges to learn more about the Catholic faith, grow deeper in a personal relationship with Jesus, and evangelize. The Year of Faith begins October 11, 2012 and lasts until November 24th, 2013. The Note with pastoral recommendations for the Year of Faith  from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith on the Vatican’s website details different events and opportunities for celebrating, as well as explains more about what the Year of Faith entails.

The Year of Faith is intended to contribute to a renewed conversion to the Lord Jesus and to the rediscovery of faith, so that the members of the Church will be credible and joy-filled witnesses to the Risen Lord in the world of today – capable of leading those many people who are seeking it to the “door of faith.”

I’m really excited about this upcoming Year of Faith, especially since I recently came across the idea for living “A Year Without Fear” in the book She’s Got Issues by Nicole Unice. I feel like the two “years” match up very well. In order to live without fear we must step outside our comfort zones and put our trust in God. It is a daily choice to let go of our false sense of control and say “Yes” to what God asks of us – whether big or small. The best way that we can share the true peace and joy that faith offers is through our actions and interactions with others.   I think Saint Francis of Assisi said this best.

Preach the gospel at all times — if necessary, use words.

As those who are familiar with this blog know, I am passionate about pursuing dreams and following God’s plan. The Year of Faith will be a great time to re-evaluate how we can use our God-given talents to serve others. When people see how joyful we are about what we do (because we truly enjoy doing what we love), it will speak more to convert hearts to Christ than anything we can say.  Understanding our faith should not be minimized, though, since it is the foundation for what we do and is necessary in order to explain the reason for our joy to others.

My plan for the upcoming year is to continue to look for opportunities and not use obstacles as excuses to live an “average” life. I want to continue to grow in my faith and be open to possibilities I never would have considered to be options in the past. I want to listen and respond to the Holy Spirit when He moves me to act or say something. I plan to enhance my faith by spending more time reading scripture and books about following God’s will!

How do you plan to embrace the Year of Faith?  What does living without fear look like for you?