Handle With Care

Monday, November 23, 2015

Thursday was a busy day here. I was facing a day of lots of prep for hubs and I to head to RadDog (roadtrip) for Young Life. After I had sent the kids out for the bus, Brooklyn came inside in a panic. The kids had spotted a bible at the end of the driveway. It was soaking wet from the rain. I told her to bring it inside.

My heart sank when I saw it. It was worse than I had imagined.

So Very Blessed

Thursday, October 8, 2015

So, I Am ridiculously spoiled.

I forget sometimes how awesome the people in my life are.

I am surrounded by family and friends who love me deeply.
Even in my darkest moments, there is light and love.

So Very Blessed.

One of those blessings is my sister, Kendra. She is the owner of Kendra Miller Photography. And because I am her sister, and she loves me, she takes pics of me for my blog in exchange for me watching her munchkins.

I really wish she had already been in business when I had my babies. While she takes awesome pics of me and my family, she is a truly talented birth photographer. Its her calling and passion to help capture the precious memories of bringing a new baby into the world.

See why I couldn't help but share some of her photos?


So very blessed. I think maybe I need to grab a coffee and go hang out with her this morning.

Thanks again for the photos Munchkin.

Love, The Queen.

*All images are used with permission and are not to be copied, reproduced, or transferred without permission. Thanks for your awesome support!*


Peace and Joy

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

My prayers the last few weeks have been unfamiliar. Change is coming in our life. Some of it was expected (like school), while some is new and more challenging (like saying goodbye to our dog Bailey). I don't like change. I don't like going through hard places. I hate the unknown. I am tormented by the thought that everything could be gone in the blink of an eye.

Its what anxiety does. It takes a small thing that you think you understand and asks you so many questions about it that the small thing begins to unravel. You begin to wonder how you could have ever trusted that small thing, that thought, in the first place.

And when you couple anxiety with depression you get a slippery slope of doom. Think Wipeout obstacle course, but in complete darkness. You never know what new thing is going to send you spiraling towards the icy water.

I'm incredibly grateful for the gift of being able to see my anxiety and depression for what they are. I can identify them and reach out to those who I know can help hold me accountable for my actions.
I can reach for truth and grace and find my footing again; I see the small lamp that lights the very next step.

Right now the next step is an MRI of my hip next week.
Me waiting for-ev-er at the doctors office
I may have a torn labrum (the part that holds your femur into your hip). A fall at camp in July only further aggravated the discomfort I had been having all summer. If I am up and around too much it begins to bother me. I never know when certain movements will cause sharp, shooting pain and make me want to scream bloody murder.

Seeing the doctor about my hip was a "small thing". It knew something was wrong but it had taken me most of the summer to be seen about it, 2-3 weeks after my fall even, because I didn't think I was hurt that badly. It was supposed to be something simple. Instead it unraveled and turned into a meeting with the orthopedic clinic, x-rays, an MRI, a meeting with the surgeon, and physical therapy for the foreseeable future. I am facing the possibility of surgery and a difficult recovery, depending on the severity of my injury.

I have had to put all of our current plans for the fall/winter on hold until I know for sure how bad it is. The anxiety of not knowing, of not being able to plan, worrying about all the possible bad things that could happen in surgery, how will I take care of my family, not being able to commit to anything, how will I ever finish all the things that need to be done at the house...... Its eating me alive.

And of course, because I have depression, its like the wind got knocked right out of me. I'm angry. Its how my depression comes out. I'm not a sad, crying mess all day. I get out of bed (although I don't really want to), but I am not all sunshine and roses. I'm pissed off at everything and everyone for basically no reason. The slightest things set me off, and make me just want to crawl back into bed. I have good moments too. Ones where you would never ever know that I even battle depression. I'm so grateful for them because it means that I still have hope.

I am so happy I am a part of Dauntless Grace Ministries.

Hope is what drives me. It keeps me from going completely under. It allows me to take my thoughts captive and rein them in; it gives me a chance to choose peace and joy. I love hope.

So for today, I am choosing

Peace & Joy. 

Because with all the changes coming our way in the next few months, I need God more than ever. His love, that perfect love, brings me peace and joy in a way that I could never duplicate.

Jesus said to his disciples,

 "Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid." -John 14: 27 (NIV)

Here is to a new season of hard things that are only going to make me stronger.
I'm are going to need lots of coffee.

*All opinions and images are my own and may not be used without express written consent.*

Because I'm a Young Life Leader

Monday, August 31, 2015

Hubs and I received the awesome opportunity to go to as leaders to Young Life camp in July. We went to Timberwolf Lake in western Michigan. So incredibly gorgeous. The leaders, speaker, and program team were so fabulous. Not to mention the awesome work crew & summer staff! This was my 3rd camp over two summers, and this go round I learned a few things I would like to share with y'all.

15 hours on a charter bus is better when you can sit next to your hubby and drool on him while you sleep. Sidenote: The current generation of doesn't appreciate Wayne's World. This is both sad and stunning.

Our fearless leader Robyn and her hubby Casey.
Do not try to play games/mixers in flip flops with your loaded backpack on. You will fall and almost break your hip only an hour after arriving at camp, because you are old.

You will then go get ice, miss club, and cry in your room because you don't know if you can do this. Because now you are going to miss the events and fun stuff with your friends. Every step will be painful. Every activity sitting on the sidelines will make your heart break a little more. And the thought of missing out on that time with them sucks. Especially having to stand at the bottom of the ropes course, the one thing you really wanted to conquer with them. You will do it with a smile and coach them down from the tower and cheer like crazy when they take that leap.

The good news is, there are amazing people and staff at YL camps. From program team to head leaders and especially the speaker, Ms Kelsey Jenney. They will be funny, encouraging, and most of all, will love your HS friends deeply. Almost as deeply as you do. They will perform the most awesome skits, come up with the most hilarious games, get the least amount of sleep (as if a leader thought it was possible to get any less at camp), and bring the holy word of God to life.

Photo courtesy of Kelsey Jenney.
You will ask those people help you by praying for you and your friends, you will continue to walk all over camp (even though it hurts like crazy) to participate in events and share meals with those friends, teach the freshman and newbies the meaning of “spoons”, get pied in the face (and enjoy it), ask the deep questions during cabin time…

and you will see God move in the most amazing ways.

Also, you will also spend way too much money on YL swag at the store. And even more money buying ice cream (or frozen lattes) for friends during one-on-ones. Every penny will be worth it. Because your friends will see how much you care. They will begin to understand that you are in this for the long haul and that they can trust you.

You can even watch as friends accept Christ for the very first time. Watch their eyes light up when they realize that they don't have to “do” anything to earn God’s love, it is freely given. That they ARE Tov Meod. Broken places in their life begin to find healing, new friendships and bonds are formed, and they see how important a relationship with the creator of the universe is. God does mighty works in them.

The long bus ride home is dark and quiet with reflection. You come home tired, exhausted really, yet so energized and ready to see how God is going to continue to move in the lives of your friends.

I thought being a parent was tough. I am pretty sure that being a YL leader is right up there. My girls make me a better parent, a better wife, and a better friend. They continue to teach me how awesome God is, and how much He loves us. I am forever grateful to get to participate in this ministry.

I cant wait to see how much my girls grow this year. I am so blessed that they let me be a part of their amazing journey.

Have questions or want more info about YL? Click on one of the links below!

*All opinions are my own and I was not compensated for them. All pictures are owned or used with permission. Please do not crop, edit, or use photos for personal or commercial use without express written consent.*

What God is doing in my life.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

I have recently been blessed to join a group of women who all started out as rejects.
Yep, rejects.
5,000 of us applied to be part of a launch team for a new book coming out in August by the one and only, Jen Hatmaker.

Why yes those are halo's above our heads! HA! Just kidding y'all!
The sun was streaming into the Sprint Center at Women of Faith KC in 2013. 
Here is the thing...the launch team could only take 500. Meaning 4500 of us were left out.
And so we formed our own group! We were hell-bent on helping to promote the book anyway, and by grace, learned that we had a lot more in common than being rejected from the launch team.

Yes, we love Jen (and the entire Hatmaker clan for that matter).
Yes, we love Jesus.
Yes, we all got rejected from the original launch team.

And then Jen herself scolded us (in the sweetest & best way possible!). She reminded us that we are not the B-team. We aren't the rejects or unworthy or misfits. We were still called and chosen for a purpose. That we didn't need a title to belong.

We realized that we were moms and wives and sisters all nodding our heads at each thread in our group. Saying "me too", "I thought I was the only one", & "yes, I need prayers for that too". We battle anxiety, depression, divorce, fostering & adoption, kiddos with special needs, crazy family members, cancer, doubt, fear, shame, guilt, and of course, feelings of being unloved or unworthy.

As our group of the 4500 grew, we started some sub-groups. And the craziest one (with the most amazing collection of women) started their own ministry. Dauntless Grace Ministries to be exact. We desired a place to be real, vulnerable, and most importantly to share truth with each other. God's truth. We pray for one another, share our stories, and just love. Cause that's what we were asked to do.

Truth also heals.

"Healing only occurs when Truth is brought to the surface. We will not allow each other to stay in the place of brokenness. John 1:15 says, “The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not over come it." Grace pulls us out of our muck and sets us on a new path." -DGM

If you could use some encouragement, some light shone into dark places, or a place to be real...check us out. I am so proud of my friend Megan for obeying God and taking on this new venture. It's going to be amazing. Won't you join us? Click the link above or join us on our facebook page.

Also, be sure to check out Jen's new book, For the Love, coming in August.

And then there were 5...

Sunday, June 14, 2015

My son Jackson turned 9 this week. 9!!! 
We are halfway to 18 folks!

(I think I can, I think I can, I think I can...)

Jackson with his cousin on his birthday
We did a small family party on his actual birthday and he invited four of his friends to spend the night last night. FOUR!! Yes, we are insane parents. We sent Brooklyn to spend the night with her Mimi, and did our best to keep them all from making us absolutely crazy. 
Since the night went so well, I thought I would share with you a little bit about how we handled survived it. 
(With some help from our favorite Hy-Vee grocery store.)

Having five boys, all 9 years old, all in one house requires a lot of activities that use up their energy. 
We started with a silly string war turned water balloon fight. I may have spent a ridiculous amount of time filling water balloons yesterday, but it was worth every second.

Since the boys play baseball together, this was also a great activity to help with their hand-eye coordination.

I think J was just a tad excited to throw one at daddy! 
Next, we let them chow down on pizza, and headed to the pool.

Between the cannonball competition, 500 game, dive stick races and general horeseplay, they had a blast! Also, I really need to invest in new dive sticks for the pool. Five just wasn't enough. Word to the wise, have plenty of dive sticks/rings for them to play games!

We came home for cake & ice cream and poor Jackson just couldn't get the sparkler candles to go out!

The boys had a blast playing with the new toys that Jackson got. I am forever thankful for thoughtful friends who provide my kids with gifts that help them learn as well as play. I have never seen them so excited about a marble run! After an attempt at watching a movie, we sent the boys to bed. It took a while but they finally settled down by midnight.

Of course they were up at 6:15... Which is why I am so thankful for my local Hy-Vee. I was able to get everything I needed for an easy, delicious breakfast for the boys, without breaking the bank.

This Bisquick pancake & waffle mix is a snap to mix up. The boys had a blast decorating their waffles with the berries and whipped cream. Of course, nothing goes better with waffles than Shatto chocolate milk! 
I love that we have easy access to local milk that is bottled in glass.

I didn't take pics of the waffle making process because it is really simple.
 (and lets be honest, my kitchen is kind of a disaster). 
Whisk together the dry mix, water, and oil, then pour into the preheated waffle iron. 
Quick tip for a big batch of waffles: turn the oven on low (the lowest mine goes is 170 degrees), and place the waffles on a cookie sheet to stay warm. Usually I will turn off the oven after its gotten hot, that way the waffles don't dry out too much. Serving them as individual triangles allows everyone to grab the amount they want as well as making it much easier to plate. 
We were ready to eat in about 30 minutes with very little clean-up! 

I am very proud of the young man my son is becoming. It's been a pleasure to get to watch him grow up with such awesome friends. I am also very thankful that we can provide memories like these for him. I hope you found some fun ideas to share with your family! 

Thanks for following along with our crazy life. 

*All opinions are my own. I was not compensated for any items or opinions. All photos are owned by me and are not to be used without permission.*

Welcome to my world!

Saturday, May 30, 2015

Well good morning y'all! Welcome to my little piece of the blog world. Let me introduce myself.  I'm Erica, a mama of two young crazies, and wife to a retired wounded warrior. I love coffee, Jesus, and being a DIY wannabe. We call Kansas City home and are huge Royals & Sporting fans. 

My life has changed dramatically in the last few years. I started blogging in September of 2011 as a way to keep our friends, family, and my husband's unit up to date on his progress after his injuries in Afghanistan.
Many times since his recovery I have tried to revamp that blog. I just cant. It brings up a lot of the feelings of the trauma we faced during the most difficult time in our lives.
 If you would like to read more you can find our story here
Its been a huge blessing to be able to share our journey, but its was time to start something new. 

Recently, I decided that I really did want to get back into blogging 
about our crazy life, so I created Life at the Clubhouse
Coming up you will find my current DIY projects, 
stories about our little family, my style, and faith. 

I'd love it if you would follow along. Go grab a cup of coffee and join me on the porch.
 It's going to be a fabulous time.

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