My Marital Unfaithfulness

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In my past, I have had several different types of relationships. I am joyful to say that I can look back on my high school relationship and remember it as one that was pure, God honoring and lots of fun.

Unfortunately, as the Israelites went through a 40 year period of wandering and disobedience in the wilderness, I too suffered through a few years in college of lots of disobedience and even more wandering. I was flirtatious, seductive, and manipulative.

Ugh. I really hate thinking about it.

I practiced the type of Kleenex (throw away) relationships and used my words and body to get what I wanted…even though I never knew what I really wanted.

Thank the Lord, God brought a very special man into my life my junior year of college. A man that was NOTHING of what I was looking for, but EVERYTHING God knew I needed. Matthew helped ground me and has taught me so much about God.

And the day we decided to get married, I made a promise. I would never flirt with any other man again.

It was a hard promise for me. Flirting just seemed to come second nature.

Through these five years I have stuck to my promise….until this week.

Lets just be honest, I don’t really view myself as young and sexy anymore. I am a pastors wife, a mom of 3, and never get out of my sweat pants. Who but my husband wants that?!?

Well, on this certain day, I was NOT in sweat pants. I was in a rather adorable dress and even had perfume on! I was rushing home and on my way out the door when I noticed someone walk up behind me.

I turned…and BAM. Mr. McDREAMY was standing right by my side. He was tall, buff, tan and smiling.  He even smelled good.

And there I was, in college again. I morphed from soccer mommy to one hot mamma.

Mr. McDreamy commented on my outfit. I blushed and flicked my hair. We exchanged some flirtatious words and walked each other out. We joked and laughed. He smiled and ended with “see you tomorrow”

He hopped onto his Harley and drove into the pink sunrise…..as I stepped into my mini-van…. real life smacked me like a ton of bricks.

I AM A MARRIED WOMAN. I drive a mini-van with three car seats in it! And I just flirted with someone other than my husband!

Ugh. I felt sick.

On my short drive back home I knew I had a decision to make. Do I tell Matthew or not?

On one hand, it was not that big of deal. Its not like we exchanged numbers or made out. I dont even know his name!

On the other hand, I had flirted and broke my promise.

Adultery does not usually start with a make out session. It starts with a kind comment and a smile. It starts with giving someone a little extra attention and a short daydream.

During marital counseling Matthew and I made a promise to let the other know at even the faintest hint of unfaithfulness. I had already broken enough promises for the day, so I decided to keep that one!

I didnt wait, as soon as I got in the door, I told him.

He responded in love. We laughed about and joked about me riding into the sunset with Mr. McDREAMY with the 3 girls strapped to my back.

Now this potential threat is in the light and has no hold on me. My husband knows to keep me accountable and I guess all of you do as well.

Never be foolish enough to think you are above the temptation of adultery. Matthew and I had just gotten back from a 4 day getaway for our anniversary. We had grown so close those 4 days. The enemy does not want us to have a strong marriage or strong families. He desires to destroy us. Remember that.

Stay on guard. Set boundaries. Live in the light!

“But I say to you that whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart. ”

Matthew 5:28

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Winnie The Pooh Birthday Party

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We are blessed beyond measure to get to be Clara Beth’s parents. Yesterday we were able to celebrate her first year of life with a family birthday party. My family loves parties and they MUST always have a theme, so early on I decided the theme for her party, Pooh Bear! Clara has such a Pooh Bear personality that it just fit.

Unfortunately, as life tends to work, things have been crazy busy for us the past month…..so the day before the party I began to prepare. Not wise on my part. I soon realized that Winnie the Pooh is not the hot commodity anymore, and almost impossible to find anything, so I went to Pinterest.This is what we came up with!

FOOD

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These acorns were a hit and they were very simple. Hershey kisses stuck to nutter butters. I used bakers chocolate to stick them together.

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These were originally going to be “Tigger Tails” but those flopped. I learned a valuable lesson, you can not dye bakers chocolate with a water based food coloring. So they turned into Sticks from Eeyores House. Tasted the same, just not quite as cool.

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The middle honey pot was Clara’s cake and the little ones were the kids party favors. I found the pots at dollar tree! I just used a regular yellow cake mix and whip cream topping for the cake.

 

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I wanted to have a “time tree” and also stick with the forest theme. I just hot glued her monthly photos to some ribbon and had my husband pick some tree branches to stick in vases.

She didn’t know what to think about the honey pot, but she warmed up to it!

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Some pictures from the party.

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Overall it was a special day and the best part was spending time with family!

I Lust Food

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I like to eat.

And by like, I really mean I lust to eat. Its slightly odd for me to use lust and food in the same sentence. But I have decided that’s just what it is.

As I sit and gaze longingly at a Chick-Fil-A chocolate-chip cookie(the best cookie known to mankind), my heart begins to quicken. My brow perspires. My stomach churns. I lick my lips. I dream about the taste of this cookie. I feel as I NEED that cookie. This quite possibly could be how a man feels when a bleached blonde girl walks by in a bikini.

I have always had a problem with food, since childhood. I still recall sneaking cookies and snacks from the kitchen and hiding them under my pillow to save for a bedtime snack.

Too many late night snacks and not enough activity led to a “pleasantly plump” kid. Good thing was most people liked me so I didn’t get picked on too much. And I always knew I was big, but didn’t know how overweight I was until my 7th grade weigh in. I stepped up on the scale and my teacher chuckled. She said, “Oh that cant be right.” So she had me step up again, only to see the same large number of 202 pounds.

I was mortified. And on that day I decided I would lose weight, now matter the cost, and never get back to that place.

Much has changed since the 7th grade. I did lose the weight, even though it wasn’t always the healthiest way. And from all appearances, I am healthy today.

I still struggle with the root issue though, I have no self control!

I guess I shouldn’t say no self control. I am quite self controlled in several areas of my life, almost every area, but food!

Can anyone relate? I secretly hope so.

I see chocolate, I eat it. I make cookies, I eat them….all. I buy ice cream, its gone in two days. And no matter how hard I try, over and over again I fail to control myself.

And its more than just enjoying food. There is nothing wrong with ice cream or chocolate. I truly believe that chocolate was one of the best blessings God gave womankind, especially in the form of a Chick-Fil-A chocolate-chip cookie!

Its more than that. Its a comfort thing. Its a void I am trying to fill with an insufficient thing.  I’m a addict in need of a sugar high.

A couple weeks ago, a friend posted this verse on Facebook.

“A man without self-control is like a city broken into and left without walls.” Proverbs 25:28

That is me. That is how I feel.

Another lovely gem I ran across in the Bible says,” Put a knife to your throat if you are given to appetite.” Proverbs23:2

Now obviously the writer is not recommending suicide, but he is trying to help us realize the need for self control and that gluttony is a sin. THERE, I said it. Over eating is sinful.

Its hard to admit in a world where over-eating is the norm. Most people fall into the overweight category. Its funny to eat the 8th piece of pizza.

Maybe your thing is not food. Maybe its shopping and spending money you don’t have. Maybe its sexual lust. Possibly you cant control your mouth or can’t stop lying. Or you like sleep way too much, or alcohol, or prescription meds. We all have something. Some area where our flesh is weak. Some areas are just easier to hide than others.

Are you tired of hiding your weakness?

I serve a God who is willing to take my weakness. He doesn’t expect me to be perfect to come to Him.

“My grace is sufficient for you, for my strength is made perfect in weakness….Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ’s sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong”. 2 Corinthians 12:9-10

Relish in that a moment. His grace is enough.

His grace does not mean I keep willfully sinning. It means I am a work in progress.

Offer your weakness to Him today. Ask Him to start a change in you.

And when you get a chance, enjoy a chocolate-chip cookie for me…but just one.

Depantsing

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Lately most of my blog entries have been more on the heavy side. I hope they have made you think and ponder.

If you are reading this in hopes for something deep, turn back now. I am writing this piece out of pure silliness and pleasure.

Ye be warned.

I am so tired of being depantsed.

Literally, it happens ALL the time.

Yesterday is a prime example of this. Most of you have heard me rant before on how difficult getting my three wee ones in and out of places, especially at the gym. Because not only do I have three children, I have a gym bag, a diaper bag, and a purse. Not to mention my kiddos have big heavy coats on. And I don’t know what it is about big winter coats. They make kids hands slippery, like they are laced with Crisco.

So here I am, three bags strapped to me, Clara Beth in one arm, Priscilla holding my other hand, and Josie holding on to my pant pocket. And lets add in the fact that its 30 degrees out and my car is parked in the north 40 of the parking lot. (I think all places of business should make mommy parking)

We are trudging to the mini van and I slowly feel it. That slow creep of something slipping. With my hands totally full I have high hopes that my pants can hold up until we get to the car. I even make a quick glance around to make sure no one is watching. We keep walking.

Twenty steps away, I feel a breeze. Slightly annoyed, I tell Josie to loosen her grip.

Fifteen steps, my rear is chilly. Josie has not loosened her grip.

Ten steps out Josie gives them a good jerk and that’s the end of that.

My hot pink flowers and bare buns are fully exposed.

I release Priscilla’s hand and give the right side of my pants a jerk, but cant quite get that left side up over my cheek.

I switched Clara Beth to the opposite hip.

Priscilla is running out into the street, I chase in pursuit. Mind you my left cheek is still exposed.

I grab Priscilla, yelling ensues. I slide the mini van’s door open and dump Clara Beth down. Corral the older two in.

Then, I pull up my pants. My cheek is numb by this point.

I glance around, hoping no one even noticed……only to realize a couple sitting in their car parked right beside my van. In perfect seats to have gotten the full show. The husband cheeks are flushed.

The wife is giggling.

I sigh, knowing this hasn’t been the first time, nor will it be the last.

Every Stinkin’ Day!

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Two Sundays ago Matthew and I chose to dedicate Clara Beth to the Lord.

This statement sounds a little funny. Some might wonder what does dedicate mean? Others may think….Umm maybe you should have done that like ten months ago.

A dedication service is a fancy way of saying, “Okay God, we know this child is Yours and we entrust her life to you.”

Typing that sentence out is much easier than living it out.

We also dedicated my older two girls when they were babies. But something was different this time. It was more than “just” a dedication service. With young children getting deathly sick and dying all around me, my trust has been shaken.

I trust you God….just as long as you keep my child healthy and happy….and umm let them be successful and make lots of money. Amen.

None of us would like to say we think this way, but I am willing to wager all of us have.

I trust God. I do. I trust my life is in His hands. I don’t fear my death. I don’t fear getting sick. Or I don’t fear being unsuccessful or unhappy. But the child I carried for nine months and birthed and nursed and spend every minute of the day with….? Hmmm.

With all that said, I really did not want to go through the motions of the dedication service unless we really were willing to dedicate Clara to God. To place her in His hands. No matter the outcome.

So we did. I even had the privilege of having my own father dedicate her. And it was beautiful.

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Unfortunately its not a one time shot. I cant just work up the trust once and its never required of me again.

Its EVERY STINKIN’ DAY! Every day I have to wrestle with my flesh to not hold on too tightly.

And trying to differentiate between trust and fear has been my hardest battle. Let me give you an example.

Clara Beth was due for her vaccinations. Actually she was overdue. We have always given the girls vaccinations. I really have not even second guessed that choice. So like normal, I called to make the appointment. But as soon as I made that call something felt off. I felt like she was not supposed to get those shots.

I have heard horror stories lately of children having deathly reactions to vaccines. I figured it was just an irrational fear inside of me and pushed the thought down. I have to trust God with my girls right?!? I cant live in fear.

But over the next two weeks approaching the appointment I just felt sick over this choice. I cant explain why. I had no reason to be afraid But before I know it, shot day is here and I am dreading it. That morning I told Matthew my hesitation, asking him to pray about it. He did and said to go ahead with the shots.

I reluctantly put Clara Beth in the car and left. On the drive there I prayed something like this…

“Lord, I trust you with Clara’s life. But I feel something is wrong. If she is not suppose to get these shots, move your sovereign hand so that she wont. ”

With that prayer I felt peace and went in. They start checking her in and the nurse says,” wait a minute, she doesn’t need these shots. Come back in a couple of months when she is older.”

Hmmm…..I am still confused by it all. I had called and they had told me she was overdue for shots.

Some may say it was a mix up. Some a  coincidence. I say it was God’s sovereign hand.

We can trust God with our children. He will direct our paths.

“A man’s heart plans his way, but the Lord directs his steps” Proverbs 16:9

This Year At The Parks Home

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Friends and Family,

First off, we would like to wish you a Merry Christmas and encourage you to remember the Gift that was given to us, which is the reason we celebrate. As a family, we struggle each year to keep our celebration focused on Christ and NOT focused on kids, toys, food, décor, or even church. Please join us in using this “holiday” to remind the world of the birth of Jesus Christ!

We are so thankful for another year of life and all the blessings and growth we have received. For those of you who don’t know, we are living in Carthage, Missouri, where Matthew is working full-time as the Worship and Youth Pastor at Open Door Baptist Church. We are happy to serve at a very loving and generous church body. Matthew is also a full-time online student through Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary and is working to finish his Masters of Arts in Theological Studies. He is a student at heart and sometimes I feel like he will always be in school, whether it be as a student or maybe someday as a professor. Living in a house full of women keeps him busy as a faithful husband and a playful Daddy. Please pray for him as he balances family, ministry, and school.

This year for me has been a stretch. I have had the privilege of staying home with our girls and I love it! There are days I question whether or not I should go back to work, but I know I am right where God wants me, and I really can’t imagine having to get out of sweatpants each day. God has really taught me a lot this year. I have learned that I am more than a wife and mother. Although loving my husband and teaching my children is a priority, God desires to use me in other ways too. I have been able to help/teach the youth girls, encourage others through my blog, head up our churches women’s ministry, and be a volunteer fitness class instructor. Through each of these adventures, God has placed believers and non-believers in my path for specific reasons. Please pray for me to have patience with my children and to share my passion for Christ to all I meet.

Josie had her 3rd birthday this summer. She astounds me every day with her nurturing spirit and joy she finds in life. I could not have picked a better big sister. She takes care of Priscilla and Clara Beth and is willing to help me out whenever I need it. She loves to learn and can carry on an adult conversation. Josie may be bashful when you first meet her, but she will be cuddled up on your lap in no time. Pray for her and us as we make the decision whether or not we will be homeschooling her.

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Priscilla is what we like to call our wild child. She turned two this September and we have had a few rough months. Once we got over the biting stage, we transitioned into the won’t-stay-in-her-bed-for-nothing phase. Spankings are not very effective, but we have found that time-outs are her greatest foe. When she wants to be obedient, she is the best and well-behaved child. But this is always dependent on what mood she is in. She loves to read and will possibly be a MMA fighter someday with her sweet drop kick and tackle moves. Despite her strong-willed spirit, she is a blessing to our family and God has taught us a lot about our own sinful nature through her. Please pray for her and Matthew and I as we explore effective methods of discipline and tackle potty training after the holidays.

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If any of you have met Clara Beth, you will attest to the fact that she is the sweetest and happiest baby ever. Clara was born this February and just hit 9 months old! She has figured out crawling this past month and likes to eat anything we are eating. She is a great sleeper and a wonderful addition to our family. Josie and Priscilla love her so much and she is extremely tough to put up with all the things they do to her. We thank God for her life and ask you to pray against any sickness during these flu and cold winter months.

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That is our family in a nutshell. We have enjoyed this year and even set a few family records. The house we are living in is the longest time we have stayed in one spot. And this is also the longest we have gone without getting pregnant! Who knows what God has in store for next year?!

Blessings!

The Parks’

Christmas 2014

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I Don’t Want To Be A Rolly Pollie

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Some uninvited friends have decided to move in with us. They didn’t ask to come. They just showed up in the Spring and have refused to leave. My hospitality has been stretched too far. I have asked nicely. I have taken them outside. And now I have resorted to smashing them.

Silly rolly pollies.

I know it could be much worse. It could be spiders or roaches.

But living with them the past six months has reeked havoc on my children. Priscilla, my mighty warrior child, was absolutely terrified of them. One night as I was giving the girls a bath, she noticed one floating in the water.

She panicked, started shrieking and then flung her soaking body out of the tub.

I guess after months of seeing them the fear has finally worn off. Now she prefers to eat them. Or put them on Clara Beth.

I never realized how dumb rolly pollies are. When in imminent danger, they don’t flee. They don’t fight. They roll up in a ball and…..lay there. Making them much more desirable to eat or smash.

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Yet through these silly little creatures, I feel as if God has taught me something. He tends to use the mundane and silly things sometimes to open my sleep deprived eyes.

Just last week I was having a conversation with a new friend. We were talking about some of the trials and tragedies that fellow believers are going through. She made the comment that she really doesn’t like to stay up on topic and stories of suffering. It makes her too sad so she likes to “crawl back in my hole”.

I don’t tell you this story to pick on my friend. In fact, I greatly appreciate her transparency. I share this because I believe that all of us can relate. Who has not done this?

We hear an awful tale of the christians being beaten and starved in other countries. It’s too much, we can’t bare to think about it. We don’t want the sadness to ruin our day. We feel helpless and don’t like that feeling. So……we roll up in a ball and stay right there, sitting in our little cave of denial.

I know we all have different convictions. God is showing each one of us new and exciting things each day, if we let Him. But this issue has been on my heart lately, and I know my blog reflects that.

I am tired of being the Christ follower who prefers a hiding tactic over action. And not only action in tragedy, but just DOING something in any circumstance.

Thanksgiving is today. If you didn’t know that, you really need to get out of your little ball. We all like to use this time to make lists and tell others what we are thankful for. That is important and heart warming. It makes us feel good.

But what if we use our thankfulness and DO something about it.

For example….I am so thankful for all the financial blessings God has given me, I will use them to bless others who are struggling this season.

I’m grateful for the warm home and food God has provided, I will open up my home to minister to others.

God has brought me through a life threatening disease or sickness, so I will find time to minister to others who are suffering through what I went through.

I’m so glad God gave me a new job, I will use each day to be a light to my co-workers and give Him glory.

God brought me through an almost divorce, now I will encourage the marriages around me.

I am so thankful for my full (overflowing) closet of clothes, shoes and handbags, how about I take half of it and give to someone who really needs them. (And NOT go out and buy new ones to replace those)

Or maybe you don’t think there is a lot to be grateful for. Maybe you seem to be surrounded by suffering and pain. What can you do?

That is not a rhetorical question. Answer the question.

Don’t get depressed and block out the pain around you. Ask God how you can meet and need and do it. Don’t feel helpless. There will always be hurting people and there will always be needs to meet. (Until heaven that is!)

Maybe instead of letting satan use suffering to destroy the body, God will use it to heal us.

 

“Cause what if your blessings come through rain drops

What if Your healing comes through tears
What if a thousand sleepless nights are what it takes to know You’re near

What if my greatest disappointments or the aching of this life
                      Is the revealing of a greater thirst this world can’t satisfy
What if trials of this life
The rain, the storms, the hardest nights
Are your mercies in disguise” -Laura Story, Blessings