Why Yes, My Husband is Actually The Greatest!

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So, this week Phil and I celebrated our 18th Wedding Anniversary. I know right, who would have guessed we have been married that long! 18 years is a long time to spend with the same person. Waking up to him every morning and kissing him Goodnight every night for the past 18 years! That’s 6574 kisses Goodnight! Yep, 18 years sure is a long time!

There have been ups and downs on our journey, but over the most part we have been as happy as a kid at Christmas….well ok, I guess I am one of those too! But our marriage has always been one of give and take, and when one is down, the other is always there to pick them up!

I feel so incredibly blessed that I get to travel this crazy journey called life with my very best friend. That we get to go on this amazing adventure together and now bring our kids along with us.

So some of you may be asking yourself about now if this is going to turn mushy, and the answer to that is YES! Yes, it is!

You know, there are so many women out there tearing down their husbands (sorry girls, but yes, I am aiming this at you!) Sometimes it seems on Facebook there is a competition who can bag or put down their husband the most. They moan and they complain about life and the person they chose to do it with. They speak negatively and don’t have a kind word to say about them ever.

Then, on the other hand, you get the women who just won’t say anything at all, even if their husband is awesome, for fear of bragging. But you know what I say…...brag away!

me and phil 1Phil is an incredible husband, so why should I not brag about that? God has blessed me with an amazing man. One who provides for his family and always puts us first in all that he does. He is selfless, generous, a mighty man of God, an amazing Dad, a great husband, a fantastic cook, and if I was going to be totally honest, SO good looking!

There is enough negativity in the world being aimed at men, that I for one, don’t need to add to it! So instead I am going to uplift Phil as often as I can. I am his number 1 fan and so I am going to be his biggest cheerleader! Not just at home, but in public as well.

My good friend Rachael does something called Marriage Monday. Every Monday she either blogs about her marriage or posts an amazing post on facebook about her husband. I love this, she writes:

Marriage Monday is a way for us to honor our spouse and God by speaking life over our spouse rather than complaining about everything that is wrong.
You can read more about Marriage Mondays here

So gals, please don’t be afraid to praise your husband and uplift him in public. This is the man God has called you to spend the rest of your life with so let’s be our husbands number 1 fan, on and off the field!

Oh, and Happy Anniversary Honey, you really are everything I never knew I wanted or needed!

love

 

 


Are You A Gazillionaire?

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I was chatting with a couple of friends the other day and we were talking about Team Strong’s upcoming trip to Mexico in a couple of weeks. One of them said, “Didn’t you take your kids to Africa last year? Are you guys Gazillionaires?”

My first thought was “If only!” but I laughed and said to her that we were far from being Gazillionaires!
As a family, we have chosen to live a life of faith, and that means we live a lot of our life outside of our comfort zone, not only with finances, but in so many area’s of our life!

I would love to tell you that we have unlimited amounts of money and can travel the world where ever and when ever we want, but for us, that is just not the case!

There have been many sacrifices made along the way. Hard choices to be made and many opportunities turned down to focus on what we know God has called us to do! Some of our friends and family don’t understand our choices, but we know this is the way God has called us to live. It’s exciting and exhilarating, but not always fun!

4 months ago our dishwasher completely died! It just stopped. Well ok, it didn’t just stop! It made a whole lot of weird noises, flooded the kitchen and then stopped!
The kids were like “Are we going to buy a new one tomorrow?” I would have loved to have said yes, and gone to the shop and put one on credit….that would be the easy option right? But Phil and I talked with the kids and explained that yes, we could go and get one tomorrow, but that wasn’t the right thing for us to do. We (as a family) don’t borrow money for things like dishwashers, and we weren’t going to use any of our money put aside for Mexico. We knew there were going to be some sacrifices along the way, and it looked like having our dishes washed for us was going to be one of them!

We told them we wouldn’t even be thinking about getting a new dishwasher till we get back from Mexico. They were pretty gutted at first (ok, I was too, having a clean and a tidy bench is one thing I absolutely LOVE!) but we have all muddled through. Yes, our plates now have a few more chips in them, there have been a couple of smashed glasses and every now and then you will get a plate out of the cupboard that is a little less than clean, but we are surviving! Surely, this is a small sacrifice to pay for what God has called us to do?

In Matthew 25:40 it says ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’
For me, I would rather make a difference in one life than have a dishwasher. I know we are going to change the lives of the families we are building houses for, our kids’ lives will be changed and I know my life will be too.

And so as a family, we continue to make decisions that don’t always make sense. We continue to step out in faith, and we continue to live the life we know God has called us to live, whether that makes sense to most people or not! And yes, this week we continue to wash dishes!


Doing it for Jesus!

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So in a few days I am getting up on stage in front of an auditorium full of people and speaking. I will be wearing the ugliest sweater you have ever seen, some jeans that should have been left in the 90’s and shoes that won’t match either! My hair will be styled like I just walked off an 80’s dance video, and my blue eye shadow and red lipstick will be a sight to behold!

I was practicing what I was going to say in front of Gracie the other day and this is how the conversation went:
“Mum, are you really going to go on stage like that?”
“Yes, of course, why not?”
“Cause it’s embarrassing, people will laugh at you?”
“Yes, they probably will, but I’m doing it for Jesus”
“Mum, you always say that”
“What?”
That you’re doing it for Jesus!”

And I guess I do say it often! But really, shouldn’t everything I do be for Jesus? If I say I am a Christian, then shouldn’t everything I do reflect my love for Him and all He has rescued me from.

Shouldn’t my whole life be a testimony to Him? In everything, I say and do. Whether it’s washing the dishes at home, running around after the kids or on stage in front of an auditorium full of people……. It’s all for Him. So I guess if I look a little silly along the way, then that’s ok. It’s a small price to pay for what He did for me.

I am hoping that I am teaching the kids that it’s ok to not look like you have it all together all of the time! It’s actually ok to look a little silly if you are doing it for the right reasons, and it’s actually ok to do things out of your comfort zone!

So on Friday I will spend quite a bit of time getting ready in my ever so gorgeous outfit, make sure my makeup is over the top stunning, take a deep breath and walk up on stage. And in case you think I have completely lost my marbles, it’s ok, I am in a drama we are performing at our Church Conference, so it’s ok to be dressed like a misfit on stage and have people laugh at me….. Right?

kathy fluro

 


Lord, Please remind me why I’m doing this!

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It’s been one of “those” weeks! Actually it’s been a number of “those” weeks that have accumulated, to the point of me sitting on the couch last night, head in my hands and asking God “Why? Why am I doing this Lord?”

It has been a busy time for Team Strong and life just hasn’t slowed down in the last 7 weeks! The problem that happens when we all get busy is that we lose our connection. Everyone goes into automatic pilot and we all hit survival mode. Everyone does what they need to to get through and grace seems to be the last thing on everyone’s mind! (God’s grace, not our own poppet in case you were getting worried!)

So for the last week or so, the busyness and tiredness have caught up with everybody and to be totally honest, none of us have put our best foot forward around home. Our usual filters of what is acceptable in our family have been dropped and the kids tolerance levels for each other have also plummeted. Now most Mum’s can just send the kids off to school for a bit of a break, but, of course, when you homeschool you don’t have that option! Nope, its kids 24/7. For 51 weeks of the year I absolutely love it, but this last week has left me asking “God, please remind me why I am doing this, wouldn’t it be just so much easier if the kids were in school?”

And the answer is yes! Yes, it would be easier to send the kids off to school for 6 hours a day, 5 days a week. Yes, it would be easier to send them off on the bus at 8am in the morning and not have to think about them till they got off the bus at 4pm. Yes, that would be the easy option for our family. But that is not what God has called us to do.

He has called us to homeschool the kids for their High School years. He has called us to invest in them, to spend time with them, to guide them along the path that God has for them. He has called us to be a family that lives outside of what most people would call “normal” and to make a difference in the world! To give them a Christian education that isn’t religious and regimented, to give them opportunities that most kids their ages don’t get. To build connections with them, and to create the life stories that they will remember long after they have left home. To equip them to be thoughtful, generous, well-adjusted adults that give to the world more than they take from it, and to impact the community around them…. Where ever that may be! Oh, and to have fun, I forgot that part! Yip, to have fun!

Right, so that’s why we are doing this God, I remember now! Time to get Team Strong back to a place where we are connected, where we are happy, and where everyone actually wants to be a part of  Team Strong!

And what better way to do that, than with a “Family Meeting” Ahhhhh, not the family meeting, I hear you cry! Why would you do that to your kids? But family meetings don’t need to be all bad, really they don’t! It’s a great way to get reconnected with each other. To clear the air. For everyone to have their say and for everyone to walk away feeling like they were heard. It’s also a great excuse to turn off all devices and to have chocolate self-saucing pudding and ice cream!

So, I am happy to say that Team Strong is back on track. We are refocused, we are all playing on the same team again and we are back to fighting for what we want instead of fighting each other! We are connected and we are back to being glad God has called us to be on the same team! And this Mamma, well she can go back to loving what she does and remembering why she chose this path for her family.

So watch out everyone, we are back, we are connected and we are stronger (get it!) than ever! We are going to make a difference in this world and we are going to have fun while we are doing it!

SONY DSC

 


“Mum, why do you cry so much?”

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“Mum, why do you cry so much?”
“Mum, are you crying again?”
Mum, is that tears on your cheeks?”
“Really Mum? Tears again?”
“You’ve been crying haven’t you Mum?”

Yip, these are comments I often hear from my kids. Actually, I would say at least a couple of times a week I will hear those words coming from their mouths, grins on their faces, like, here we go again.  It’s a normal thing to see Mum cry.

Now these tears are mostly all happy tears! You know the ones. The ones you get when you watch Extreme Make Over – Home Edition or watch that YouTube clip of returning Soldiers seeing their kids for the first time. That Ellen clip of her giving a deserving family $10,000 or a stranger showing kindness to someone less deserving! Gosh, even Christmas movies and songs can bring me to tears! Yes siree, all these things will easily bring a tear (or two) to my eyes!

But sometimes they are actually tears of sadness though: watching a clip of a Father burying his 5-year-old son, a cancer patient speaking to a daughter, he will never meet, or that heart-wrenching video of a father walking his 12-year-old daughter down the aisle as he won’t be around to do it when she actually does get married!

Yes, I am a crier! And actually I don’t think that is necessarily a bad thing. I don’t see crying as a weakness. I see it as me being comfortable with who God has made me to be, and that my friends is an emotional being! What you see is what you get, whether I am happy or sad, you will see it! And I guess because my kids spend so much time with me, they see it a lot!

I am hopeful that I am teaching my kids that it’s ok to cry. People will often say that strong people don’t cry. Well to that I say “Piffle”

I am a strong person. I am not a hard person, but I am a strong person. I have overcome things in my life that have been tough. I have always refused to be a victim and to rise above my difficulties. These things have made me stronger, but they haven’t hardened me. Crying is not a weakness or something to be ashamed of, in fact, God has made us with emotions and I think it’s healthy to let them show.

At this point I do just need to clarify: we are talking about a few silent tears streaming down your cheeks, not the opening of the floodgates, the big ugly sobbing crying, or the crying so hard you can’t breathe. That’s ok too, but I just don’t think anyone but Jesus needs to see that!

So this week will no doubt be another emotional week for me. There will be highs and lows, good and bad experiences and moments of sadness that will bring me to tears. But there will also be laughter, silliness, happy tears and moments where my heart is so full it feels like it will burst. It will be real and honest, and it will be me. This is my life and I love it!

So if you see me with tears in my eyes, don’t panic! I am ok, I will be ok, and despite what my kids think, I am normal!

a a crying

 


Valentines Day, Love & all that Hooplah!

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Well, for all you romantics out there, I guess I don’t need to remind you that it’s Valentines Day this week.

It’s a big thing in America, but here in little ole New Zealand, not so much. I must admit in my younger sillier days I bought into the whole thing. I would send Phil cards, buy him ridiculous amounts of chocolate and candy and one year, even bought him a huge (and I mean HUGE) stuffed animal. Yip, the good ole days when we were more mushy, sentimental, had money to waste and were not so practical!

If you ask anyone what true love is, they will all have a different answer for you. I love it when they ask kids what love is, some of the answers are just too cute:

“Love is when a girl puts on perfume and a boy puts on shaving cologne and they go out and smell each other.” Karl – age 5

“Love is what makes you smile when you’re tired.” Terri – age 4

“Love is when you tell a guy you like his shirt, then he wears it every day.” Noelle – age 7

“Love is like a little old woman and a little old man who are still friends even after they know each other so well.” Tommy – age 6

“Love is what’s in the room with you at Christmas if you stop opening presents and listen,” Bobby – age 7 (my absolute favourite!)

As great as those answers are, I have found a new definition that speaks volumes to me:

“True Love is considering the ultimate good of others over your own”

We had a situation recently in which that sentence took on a whole new meaning for me. You’d think once you have been married for 17 years, not a lot could shock you! That you would know your spouse well, that there would be no surprises….. especially when it comes to love! Surely after 17 years life gets boring, mundane and predictable? Nope!

Phil made a decision recently that was extremely hard for him. But when it came down to it, he put family before anything else, and I was completely blown away! Now, don’t get me wrong, Phil often puts us first and is one of the most selfless people I know, but this was a biggie and something I know was tugging hard at his heart strings.

To feel so loved, that someone would put their needs second to yours, is something I don’t take for granted and something I am extremely thankful for. It made me sit back and think, “Wow, I am loved, I am actually worth it!”

So as great as Valentines day may be, (and it’s a great excuse to eat chocolate) it’s not just about one day in the year when I let Phil know how much I love him. I hope I do it more often than that, in fact, I hope its a daily thing. I hope I can show him in my actions as well as my words, what he means to me and how thankful I am for all he has done for me and the kids.

It is also a great reminder of the love of Christ and the ultimate sacrifice He made for us…. for me! That He would give His life so that we could live. So that we can live a life of abundance, a life of adventure and freedom, and a life that honours Him in everything we do.

So however you choose to spend your Valentines Day, whether you celebrate it or not, my pray is that you would remember the ultimate sacrifice that was paid for your freedom by a man that loves you beyond measure…. now that’s true love!

a a kiss


My Babies are Leaving Home!

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It goes like this….. One minute you are rocking them to sleep, comforting their boo boo’s and wiping their grubby little faces.  The next minute they are bigger than you, taller than you, smarter than you and are teaching you about the world and how it works!

How and when did this happen? I mean seriously, it only feels like yesterday they were babies, and now they are creating their own adventures in the world, leaving me in their dust to pick up my breaking heart and wonder what the future holds for me and Phil when they have flown the coop!

Ok, so they haven’t quite left home yet, but there has been plenty of talk about it lately. Both kids have grand illusions of getting their drivers license, buying their own cars and never been seen around him again. Of going flatting with their friends and of earning copious amounts of money and never having to struggle, budget or ask for pocket money again! And the freedom, oh the freedom that will come with leaving home, no more chores and no more parents to tell you to get off the x-box! I won’t burst their bubble with reality just yet, plenty of time for them to discover the cruelties of the real world themselves!

Somehow all this talk has seeped into my dreams and I dreamt the other night that both, yes BOTH kids moved to China and left the house without even a kiss on the cheek, in fact, they were literally running down the drive! (I don’t think they were going to run to China, but it was like they couldn’t leave the house quick enough!)

I have given us 5 years max! Yip, 5 years and our youngest baby will have left home, hopefully not to China, but she will be making her own way in the world. Her brother (according to him) will be long gone by then! For some reason, this reality hit me like a brick in the face this week and I have struggled with the thought of an empty nest! Sure, there will be perks: no more Mum’s taxi, freedom, less washing, tidy house (oh no wait, Phil will still be around, lets not get too carried away!) smaller grocery bill, getting to choose which music gets played in my car, not having to fight for the last cookie in the jar, yes, I can see there will be benefits. But let’s be honest, all those perks don’t compare to having them around!

One of the things I love about God is that He is gentle, loving, compassionate and He knows our hearts. He knows I am struggling with this and so is dealing with it now instead of the actual day they move out and I have chained myself to their ankle, being dragged along begging them to not leave me. Wailing at the top of my lungs that I have been a good mother and how can they do this to me! Nope, I don’t think that is the memory I want our kids to leave home with, although it would make for some fun stories to tell the grandkids. So I am putting on my big girl panties and dealing with it like any rational Mum would…… I have grounded them for the next 4 years! Just kidding (although I have thought about it!) I haven’t quite gone to that extreme, but I am making the most of the time I have left. I am being intentional about the way we spend time as a family and creating as many ‘life stories’ as we can, that will go with the kids when they leave and hopefully set them up well for whatever adventures God has in store for them. Yip, I want our kids to leave home well adjusted and well equipped for what the world will throw at them and the best way I can help them is to be the intentional Mum God has called me to be.

Ok, let’s be honest, there will still be some tears along the way! Thankfully, I have an understanding husband, copious amounts of tissues and a God who will give me the tools to cope when that fateful day finally arrives! But for now I will enjoy the chaos, the fighting, the hormones and the craziness of a house filled with teenagers!

Where have my babies gone-


It’s almost Here…..and I’m SO excited!

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I have to admit…… I am super-duper, pretty jolly well excited!

It’s only 7 more sleeps till Christmas and I am definitely getting more and more excited as the day draws near. Now you are probably wondering why a grown woman would get so excited about Christmas? It’s not like my kids are littlies anymore and wake me at 6 in the morning with a gleam in their eye begging me to get up so they can open their Santa Sacks (knowing they have already been downstairs and rummaged through them!) It’s not like I even have grandkids to spoil (they will come in due course, but not for a few years yet Jackson & Gracie!) So again you may be wondering why all the excitement, and my simple answer would be……… Why not?

Why not celebrate? You know, so often in our society now days, we just don’t celebrate…… Anything! Life has become mundane and people just don’t celebrate milestones or special occasions anymore. But it’s a choice people, and I choose to celebrate!

So often I hear the excuses “Oh, we can’t afford it” “Oh, we don’t want to spoil our kids” “Oh, we don’t want our kids growing up thinking they will have a party for their birthday every year” “Oh, we don’t celebrate Christmas because it has become too commercial”

Sure, I could almost agree with some of those excuses, but come on, when did we all turn into the Grinch?

Now, I’m not saying you have to go and spend hundreds and thousands on every special occasion, in fact, we celebrate most things on a tight budget, and for me that makes it even more challenging and fun! It’s not about the money, it’s about creating memories for our kids, it’s about creating traditions (I blogged about that here) that will long outlive me, and it’s about what’s in your heart!

So when it comes to Christmas, why wouldn’t I get excited and celebrate? It’s a great excuse to hang with family and friends, indulge in a little too much good food and bubbles, to play my never ending list of Christmas songs and to relax at the end of the year!

But most of all, why would I not get excited about celebrating the birth of the most incredible man ever born, the man who saved me from a life without love, the man who died so I could live! The man who gave His all so we could have this festive season. Why would we not celebrate this man?

I think that’s a pretty good reason to celebrate….. and so I do!

a happy


Christmas Traditions

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“It’s the most wonderful time of the year………” or so the Christmas Carol goes! And actually, I would have to say I agree completely!

One of the main things I love about Christmas is the family traditions we have created. Phil often laugh’s at me when I introduce something new to the family, and says it is not a tradition if we haven’t done it before, but I always say “Traditions have to start sometime, why not start now?” Even though our kids are getting older we still have a couple of traditions we do every year.

This year was a little tough for me as it was the first year I have put the tree up by myself. Both kids thought it wasn’t “cool” to put up the tree and I was ok with that. As much as I love Christmas, I am not going to force it on anyone else! I did have a couple of friends tell me it’s just a “phase” the kids are going through, give them a couple of years and they will be once again hanging tinsel on the tree with me, but until that day I will hang tinsel by myself, and I’m ok with that (sniff, sniff!) no, really, I’m ok!

But when it comes to traditions that’s a whole other story! I kind of wish pinterest was around when the kids were littler as they have some amazing traditions you can start when your kids are just tots. I wonder how differently, I would have done things…… But alas, I digress. There are some traditions we did start and they have carried on throughout the years.

The first is about the first present placed under the tree. The first gift always has to be for Jesus, I mean, He is the whole reason we are celebrating so it’s only fitting the first gift under the tree is for him. We have a gorgeous red box that sits right in front of the tree. When the kids were little, we filled the box with hugs and kisses for Jesus and quickly put the lid on so that they wouldn’t escape!

As the kids have gotten older, we all write a promise to Jesus on a piece of paper and place it in the box. Over the years I have promised to be the best Mum I can be, to read my bible more, to serve others more, and to become more of the women I know God has created me to be, amongst others.

We keep previous year’s promises in the box and its great (and sometimes hilarious) to see what the kids have written in the past and to see how they have grown each year in their faith. It’s my hope and prayer that our kids carry on this tradition with their kids, that they never forget the real reason for the season!

Another one we adopted over the last couple of years is to go out for a “Strong Family Work Do” There are so many “work functions” at this time of year we thought we have worked hard as a family, why not have a family work do? We all get dressed up, chose a nice restaurant and have a nice meal out together. It’s kind of  a “yes” dinner, like the “yes” days we have (you can read about those here) It means you can order anything you like! You can have 10 courses if you really want and you can order as many drinks as you can possibly drink (normally, it’s a 1 drink policy in our family, as otherwise it gets too expensive!) We talk about the year we have had, the good and the bad and we make some plans for the following year. It’s a great excuse to have a great night out and let our kids know how proud we are of them!

So my encouragement to you is, start your own family traditions! Whether you have kids or not, whether you are young or old, married or not, start something that you can continue throughout the years. For me, it doesn’t have to be big and flashy or cost lots of money, it’s just about creating memories that will live longer than I will.

a family dinner


It doesn’t have to be perfect to be Beautiful! Pt 1

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I am a perfectionist!
Wikipedia would tell me that it is characterised by a person’s striving for flawlessness and setting excessively high-performance standards, accompanied by overly critical self-evaluations and concerns regarding others’ evaluations.

Wow! And I just thought all the stripes on the duvet had to be lined up! Actually, to be honest, I got rid of our striped duvet cover as I could never get them all lined up and it used to drive me nuts!

I admit it, I like to have things in order. Everything in its place, neat and tidy (and labelled if I can help it!)

My family, on the other hand, are not perfectionists (Thank you Lord!) They don’t seem to mind if things are not put away in the right place, if there are dishes left on the bench, or shoes are left lying in the doorway! They are quite relaxed when things are “out of place” and can carry on life as normal.

As with most lessons in life, I am learning slowly, that things don’t have to be perfect to be beautiful! Having everything in its place, labelled and lined up straight doesn’t make my house a home. It’s the people in it, the laughter, the fun and the silliness that makes it a home.

As lovely as all that sounds, it is easier said than done! As a perfectionist at heart, this is super hard for me to do! I find it near impossible to relax when the bench, even has one cup on it, when there is washing to be put away or when the kids leave DVD’s all over the floor! Heaven forbid if there is a cushion on the wrong sofa or the bed isn’t made straight with no wrinkles!

So how do you get a balance between perfect, perfectionism and letting it all go?

Well, for me, I have to look at the bigger picture! I don’t want my kids only memories of  growing up, being that Mum was always tidying the house instead of playing with them. I don’t want them to remember me as a control freak who was always wiping down the bench, straightening the cushions or labelling anything that could be labelled! I want their memories of growing up to be fun! I mean really, who wants be living in a perfectly clean and tidy house all the time (No, Kathy, not you!)

So this week I am sitting on my hands and not being “manic” when things aren’t as I think they should be. It’s jolly hard seeing the shoes on the floor and not putting them away, walking past Gracie’s room and not reminding her to tidy it, or even watching tv with a pile of  washing sitting there waiting to be put away! No, perfectionism can wait this week, this week it’s about letting go and having fun, and not stressing over the little things.

It’s not about being perfect…… it’s about being beautiful!

 

in this house.jpg