Tuesday, October 28, 2014

My Struggle: The "M" Word


I've done lots of debating about this blog post. If I should post it and how I should write it.

It's not a topic I normally talk about with vivid candor... it's uncomfortable for me, to be honest.

It's not about sex or politics, no worries.


No, it's about money. 

God has done a lot of pruning on me the last few years on this topic. I've failed, too, over, and over, and over. I think we can ALL look at our bank accounts and see numerous places where we haven't been wise stewards of what God has given us. Hubby and I included.


But today, I want to tell you a story about money-- a deeply personal one that is not-so-easy for me to share. God is teaching me a lot, however, and so completely taking care of us. I felt like, just maybe, someone else needed to hear our story, even though it puts me in a not-so-comfortable, vulnerable spot.

So... here goes:

Once upon a time...

There was a man and woman. They had three sweet little girls. They did things a little backwards, the woman went to work during the day, while the man stayed home and took care of the babies, working part-time some evenings and weekends.

It wasn't the perfect scenario. The man and the woman didn't see each other nearly enough, but it kept their babies out of daycare, so they were a happy little family. The woman got a promotion, and then another one, and made a decent amount of money. They paid off credit card bills and had a nice tidy emergency fund in the bank. Dave Ramsey would have been proud. They were saving for fun things like cars that weren't 150k miles+ old and a bigger house to hold their growing family, and saving for retirement.

Then they got the news that baby number 4 was on the way. They were elated! Life was good. God was good. The future was bright and sunshiny.

Then they got some not-very-good news. Baby number 4 had a broken heart. They were told that the baby might not make it, but doctors would try their best to fix her broken heart.

The little princess was born, and her heart was indeed very sick. Surgery after surgery was done, and still, her heart was broken.  She wasn't able to come home from the hospital, so her pretty little room sat empty, with unused furniture just waiting for their precious princess to arrive and use them.

Meanwhile, the man and woman struggled to keep their family well. Their three other kids missed their parents, particularly their mommy who still worked during the day and slept at the hospital with the little princess at night. They saw less of each other than ever.

They lived on hope that the princess's heart would get all better and that life could be sunshiny and bright again.

So many people gathered around to support the hurting family. Cards and letters and gifts, they were such a blessing. They treasured each one.

Some suggested they start fundraising, to help with the expenses that comes with a baby who has a broken heart.

But the man and the woman looked around. They were blessed already. All their bills were being paid, they still had their tidy emergency fund, and people's gifts were allowing them to not have to touch it. It felt oh so very uncomfortable to solicit money from people. So they refrained, only accepting gifts when offered, and trusting God to meet their needs.

Ten long months later, the princess came home, having received the precious gift a new heart.

But the man and the woman began to worry. The princess was still very sick, and the woman was no longer able to go to work, as caring for the princess became her full-time job. They began to spend their tidy emergency fund, and the man began to look for work himself so the woman could nurse the princess to full health.

The man eventually found it, but not after their tidy fund was reduced to pennies. And the work the man found, while it was good, it paid much, much less than the woman used to make, and wasn't nearly enough to pay their bills. After all, "daddy" on a resume, while impressive, does not draw a lot of high salary positions being offered. It had good benefits though, and allowed him time to help his healing family.

Still, God blessed the family in the form of many generous people. Without the man and woman even asking, people sent gifts at JUST the right moment.

The woman started to work a little again, mostly from home, sometimes in the evening. She struggled with this for a whole year. But it became too much. Her little princess needed her at home with her, to give her medicine and food and help her learn the big girl things she'd missed. Their lives were filled with doctors appointments and therapy and frequent trips to the hospital. The princess got sick a LOT. The woman working was just not going to work yet.

The woman did, however, write. She wrote her stories during the princess's nap times and hoped to sell them. Her heart ached to be able to help with bills again, but it also ached to have purpose. For the stories that God gave her to be used. So she was obedient and wrote--but writers of stories make very little money. She profited some, but not enough to make even a dent in their monthly bills. Still though, she writes and tells people about her books, hoping someday, she can make enough to help.

Finally, the man and woman, not knowing how they would pay their bills each month, applied the little princess for disability. It was a bit of a sad day for the man and woman. They wanted to be able to provide for their little family themselves, but it was becoming clear that at this moment, they could not.

They waited six months to be approved. And for six months, they struggled. But God was always faithful and brought help in some very amazing places, and some humbling places too. And each month, the bills were paid.

Then the seventh month came. They were told due to a miscommunication, the princess was not approved for disability and would have to reapply.

The man and the woman were devastated. God had provided so much and had always been faithful, but they would not have enough money to pay the bills for the eighth month, for the first time in the four years of struggle.

But they held tight to the promises that God would never leave them nor forsake them. That God knew exactly their needs, even better than they did. They went about life, trusting that God would provide in the exact moment they needed it.

Two weeks before their bills were due for which they would not have the money to pay, the woman got a phone call.

There had been a mistake. They were approved after all, and one week before the bills were due, there was money in their account to pay them.

And there would be a deposit into the account each month going forward. It doesn't fix all their problems. They still must be very wise with their money. But the man will continue to work hard. And the woman will continue to care for her children and write her books and promote them as best she can. And God will continue to direct and teach them that no matter how desperate things look, if they trust in Him and are obedient, God has it handled.

The man and woman are so thankful. Thankful that God shows up when needed. That even when all seems lost, God knows. That even if they don't understand why things happen, God does.

They still have dreams.

Dreams of being able to have that house that is a little bigger to fit their family of 6

Dreams of being able to not have to pinch every penny and stretch every dollar.

Dreams of having that tidy little emergency fund again--they are only allowed a very small one while on the princess is on disability, which hurts the woman's heart.

Dreams of being able to decide where to give, rather than how to cover each bill.

These aren't bad dreams. They aren't prideful or sinful or greedy.

They are dreams of hope. Dreams of a future.

But even as they are dreaming, they are content with where God has them. They are so thankful for the gift of a new heart for the littlest princess. They are so thankful for ALL four of their princesses.

Even though their bank account is in ICU recovering, they are blessed beyond measure.

Because they serve a GOOD God. A WISE God. and a FAITHFUL God.

Philippians 4:11-13 NLT

"Not that I was ever in need, for I have learned how to be content with whatever I have. I know how to live on almost nothing or with everything. I have learned the secret of living in every situation, whether it is with a full stomach or empty, with plenty or little. For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength."

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Priorities = STRAIGHT

So, today is blogging day.

But I was busy this week and didn't make time to do so.

BOO for me.

But in my defense, I'm feverishly working on several writing projects and am trying to balance priorities to give my readers more books to read!

That's a good excuse, right?!?

I think it is:-)

So in that spirit, I'm going to take a blogging break next week so I can concentrate on writing BOOKS.

I'd appreciate your prayers, that God helps me think clearly, prioritize well, and get the story he's given to me down on to paper (or screen, as it may be) in a way that gives HIM glory.

I'll be back on October 28th... fresh and ready to blog, and hopefully with a few things off my writing to-do-list checked off!!!

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

It's okay to be ME

It's so hard to get caught in the comparison trap. To look it others and think, "Wow, if I could just be like that...."

I've had a war within me pretty much since the moment I found out I was going to be a mother. It was like I looked around and found all the qualities in other mothers I admired and did a buffet style "This is how I want to be."

Then I became a mother.

And was sad to find out... it doesn't really work that way.

So then I switched to berating myself. "Why can't I do this?" "Why can't I be like her?" "How come I'm such a bad mom compared to ____?"

It's a bit disheartening at times.

Then I go through phases where I muster up all my energy and put it all into trying to be like that perfect "mom" mold I'd created out of my observations.

It was exhausting. To the point I stomped on the mold and just quit trying. Quit caring. I am who I am and my kids and hubby JUST NEED TO LIVE WITH IT, dad gum it.

But that's not okay either.

Why?

Because I want to care. I NEED to care. I NEED to try to work at being better.

And that's when this great thought hit me. Somewhere during my almost 2 weeks of a "mom break" I had a few weeks ago.

It's okay to be ME.

I am how I am for a reason. God's made me, molded me, to be the mom I am for my kids, and that's fantastic.

But.... I need to be the BEST version of me possible. Which means I still need to work at it. I still need to care. I still need to put my "best" foot forward.

So... I thought I'd show exactly what that looks like today. What are some of the things that showcase ME as a mom... and that are just fine?

  1. I don't homeschool. I want to hide under the bed at the very thought. I ENJOY my breaks from my kids, in fact. I kinda need them. It is not something God has put on my heart or given me any kind of desire to do. I look at other moms who do and am in awe. I used to feel guilty.... they must love their kids SO much more than me. But nope. That's not it. God's just shaped them different.... and that's okay!
  2. I spank. Rarely, but I do. I look at other mom's who don't, who claim they couldn't bear to hurt their child, and think... is that what I'm doing? Am I, like, in some strange way, being a bully to my kid by spanking? But nope. That's not it. I don't over-spank and only do it when really needed, and not out of anger. My kids are well behaved, they know they are loved, and they are honestly better for it. God's shaped my family the way He has, both my hubby and I endured them as kids and came out better for it, so it's one method of discipline we use... and that's okay!
  3. I hate cleaning my house. Seriously, I despise it. I pray almost daily that God blesses book sales enough for me to be able to continue to stay at home and write while paying our bills --- and allows me to hire someone to come in once a week and clean. I know, I know, extravagant. and until such time, I still clean. But God's not made me to be one of those women who enjoy keeping house. It gives me no pleasure, no sense of accomplishment, and the whole time I do it I think of all the other productive things I COULD be doing. God's given me a brain that loves to write and loves numbers and loves to fix things.... and evidently the "cleaning" gene was removed to make way for those. I still clean because my family needs me to, but ours is not the cleanest house on the block by any stretch of the imagination.... and that's okay!
  4. I'm not a good cook. Evidently my cooking gene is missing too. I actually like to bake some, but cooking meals? Yeah, it's just not my gift. I do so because my family needs me to, but I'll be honest. We go out probably more than we should considering our slim budget. But ya know? God didn't give me a love for fine food or crafting food to be pretty or flavored to perfection. I still cook meals for my family as best I can-- even if we do eat a lot of mac and cheese. I CARE and I put my best foot forward.... but our meals are not fit for Betty Crocker's kitchen...and that's okay!
  5. I'm a silly mommy. I love to be goofy with my kids. We dance around the living room, we sing crazy at the top of our lungs, I am the ultimate tickle monster, and I recently won at a game of nerf wars, something I'm very, very proud of. When they are naughty, I frequently threaten them with a trip to the trashcan where I will throw them in. No, I don't actually do it, but I've held them over it a few times until their complaints turned to laughter. Hey, whatever works, right? God's made me silly... and it affects my motherhood.... and that's okay!

So yes, those are just a few things about me.

Things I'm learning to embrace rather than change. To love rather than despise. To be BETTER at, rather than kick to the curb.

What about you? What are some things that define who you are as a parent that you can learn to embrace and IMPROVE upon rather than delete and rewrite?

Thursday, October 9, 2014

SALE!!!!!!!!


http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00MNR78AS/onwosdr-20

It's FALL!

The leaves are turning all sorts of pretty colors, the weather is getting cooler, the smell of PUMPKIN is in the air!

It's the PERFECT time to cozy up with a nice, fun book....

So what better time for a SALE on my sweet little side dish, A Side of Faith?

For this weekend ONLY, now through Monday, you can get the ebook of A Side of Faith for only 99 cents!

That's less than $1.00!

Less than a pack of gum....

Even less than my $1.00 Large Coke from McDonald's!

So if you haven't had a chance to check it out, now's a great time!

And if you're of a mind, I'd LOVE help in spreading the word about the sale!

Thank you so much for your support and love! I appreciate you more than I can

Blessings!

~ Krista

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Renewal

Rest is such an amazing thing.

It can do wonders to a soul.

I'm back from my two trips that I've anticipated for months and months and months.

Usually two trips in two weeks would be so incredibly stressful. But not these trips.

First, I left my kids behind in both cases. I LOVE my kids. But I needed a break. Badly. Like, momma is on the brink of cracking, badly.

Second, I got two trips that I really needed.

One to focus on ME as a WRITER and a woman and as a child of Jesus. To have fun with friends and mentally recharge.

And one to focus on my marriage and to physically recharge. This girl needed SLEEP!! Hubby and I got a little cabin in the mountains near Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge, and went on a "stress-free" 4 days of just slowing down the pace, not fretting about what/when/where we were going to go, but just relaxing. We came back actually LIKING each other again, enjoying each others company, and me not snipping at him every 5 minutes. (If you know us at all, my hubby is not a snipper. He's pretty quiet, and usually I'm snipping at him to talk to me more, LOL)

So yeah, I'm feeling renewed. I like, cleaned my house yesterday, did laundry, AND got some writing in. All in the same day. Along with taking care of Annabelle. I know, shocker, huh!

We'll see how long my energy lasts, but I'm enjoying it while it lasts!

So here's my blog tip of the day:

Take a wee bit of time for you.

Ugh, okay. I know. It feels selfish. Our kids should be our everything, we should put everyones needs before our own, right?

But I propose that you can't take care of everyone else unless you're physically, emotionally, and spiritually "taken care of" yourself. If you're tired and worn down, eventually you'll become ineffective.

If you're feeling overwhelmed, tired, unproductive, bordering on sanity (raising my hand as of a few weeks ago).... get away. Even if it's for a few hours. But overnight is AWESOME if you can swing it.

Clear your to-do-list slate, leave guilt and stress far away, and just take a little time to "be".

BE yourself.
BE in the moment.
BE in tune with God.

Just... Be.



How do YOU take time for yourself to recharge?

Thursday, October 2, 2014

15 Amazing Years!

15 years ago, I married the love of my life.

I was a mere 18 years old...

And I'd probably throttle my girls' necks if they suggested at that age that they tie the knot. (my parents weren't super excited about the idea, either, which I thought was horribly old-fashioned and mean of them...It's amazing how being a mom oneself changes your point of view drastically!! Oh, and did I mention I met him in an Internet chatroom and had only "seen" him twice when we got engaged? AND he lived halfway across the country?)

But as ill-fated as the whole thing seemed, I've never regretted it, not ONE DAY. (Okay, fine, there have been a few days when I was especially mad at him that the thought might have glimpsed through my mind... but it fled fast, I promise!)

We're spending a few days in the mountains at little cabin high up in the woods. Today was glorious. We ate breakfast on the porch overlooking the beautiful mountains, then just laid around and did pretty much nothing all day. We needed this. We needed time to just BE.

Last night, we went to the Island in Pigeon Forge and rode the Big Sky Wheel. Afterward, we sat and watched the water show while holding hands.

This funny thought came to my mind.

We rarely hold hands anymore. Not that we don't like to. I LOVE holding my honey's hand.

But usually our hands are engulfed in the tiny hands of our children, ensuring their safety and enjoying their presense.

There is such joy in such a simple thing as holding hand.

I've missed it.

Tonight, we're headed out on the "town" and enjoying a nice dinner. There will definitely be more hand holding :-) :-)

I'm just stopping in quickly to say...

I love my sweet husband, and happy 15 years, oh-love-of-my-life. Looking forward to see what whirlwind God has for us in the next 15! 


Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Exhaustion

I'm.

Tired.

Goodness, am I tired.

It is the best tired EVER though!

The ACFW conference last week was... amazing. Exactly what God ordered. I needed a mental break from "life" as it is and it totally delivered. I got to focus on networking and reconnecting with friends... ADULT friends... ones that don't (usually) whine for food or poop their pants or require scheduled medications to be given to them or scream when someone else hits them (although I'm sure they would if someone actually hit them, but thankfully that's typically frowned upon at Christian conferences!)

But while I feel emotionally and spiritually recharged, and had some GREAT appointments with my agent and a few editors, I'm now physically running on sleepy fumes. (as evidenced by the fact I am writing this at 9pm on Monday night and my eyes are burning and yelling at me to close them STAT!)

That said, here are a few fun highlights of conference (NOT all inclusive, as that would be impossible to list!)

  • I met the amazing Lauraine Snelling and got to chat a bit with her at dinner on the last night #starstruck
  • Cheering fellow Nashvillian Patrick Carr on as he won the Carol Award for Speculative Fiction, roomie Jody Hedlund on as she won the Carol Award for Historical Romance, and Alleycat Laurie Tomlinson on her Genesis win. There are SO many others that I screamed super loud for too!!!
  • Handing out Sandwich pins! Lots of friends reported being asked, "What's up with the sandwich?" including a few editors! I even sat down at a pitch session with an Editor with Tyndale and she asked me about it! It was super fun to represent the sandwich!!
  • I got to MEET my new agent in person! She was just as amazing as I thought she'd be!
  • I got to HUG SO many friends, too many to mention!!!
  • I had 3 of the BEST roomies out there, Jody Hedlund, Sarah Forgrave, and Janice Boekhoff.
  • Spending time with my Alleycats -- my sisters-of-the-heart.
  • Two pitches that I was INSANELY nervous about but they went much better than I could have hoped for. God reminded me, though, that He has a great plan in mind for my books and it is SO MUCH BETTER than my plans. Continuing to lay my book into HIS hands and trust
*yawn* GOODNESS I'm tired. I know there are a ton of other things I'm missing....*yawn*

Okay, so that's gonna have to be my update.

Now I must go to bed. Tomorrow (today when you're reading this...) is filled with laundry and cleaning and repacking for my NEXT trip...

Hubby and I are going to the moutains for a few days to celebrate our 15th anniversary! My inlaws are coming to help take care of the kiddos.

So while I'm emotionally filled but physically exhausted.... rest and recuperation are near!!!

OH! I have a billion and one pictures. Please feel free to visit here to view them! (It's my personal FB page... but I have the pictures set to public so anyone can see them! At least I think so...)