Tag Archives: scripture

Anniversaries

We must celebrate relationships in our lives and anniversaries are a perfect time to do that. Even though it is just one day of the year, it is often difficult to find time for even the people who mean the most to us. My husband is my rock and while it has been 14 years since we met and 10 years of marriage, he continues to be the best decision I ever made.

I was 27 years of age when we got married and still really relied on the opinions of others at the time. The beach wedding I wanted was frowned upon and even the fitted dress I wanted received those frowns too. Therefore, to steer clear of any more added drama on our special day, I made decisions based on others not completely on what my heart was telling me. Still, we had a perfect day, truly one of the best days of my life.

A few years after our wedding, I told my husband that if we ever remarried (of course to each other), I would do things the way we felt was right for us, not what was right for others. I then forgave those people and even myself for that time, acknowledging how much I had grown. It was then we also came up with a great idea: we would renew our vows at 10 years on the beach in the town where we met!

So two days ago we did just that! We renewed our love with personally written vows to each other’s and engraved wedding bands. We brought our children, parents and aunt to come to the beach where it all started 14 plus years ago. (I even got to wear a fitted white dress.) It was beyond special and perfect! God even held the rain until right afterwards.

Life is about these moments. In life, it is often easy to celebrate the big ones like weddings. However, we must make the time for the smaller moments too. They deserve to be celebrated too!

“Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.” (Ecclesiastes‬ ‭4:12‬ ‭NIV‬‬)

https://www.bible.com/111/ecc.4.12.niv

Though my husband and I are there to support and defend each other, it really helps having God as the first strand in our cord of three. “A triple braided cord is not easily broken.” Life is filled with highs and lows, mountains and valleys. However, it is with that added support of faith that we can better climb together tied to the strongest rope possible for when we fall. I know it is hard to take a single hair band out of my daughter’s curly hair as it can easily get tangled. We are like that single band when we stand alone. God must come first. And even though I fought that for so long, His undeserving grace led my husband and I together over fourteen years ago.

My blue eyed dream come true.

My answered prayer.

“You and me together
Through the days and nights
I don’t worry ’cause
Everything’s going to be alright ” – “No one” by Alicia Keyes

But remember anniversaries only come once a year, we must try to make the time to celebrate the important people and relationships we have throughout the year too.

Love always finds a way… if we let it.

Love is always the answer.

So I’m striving to continue to make sure my priorities are in order and to value my friendships and relationships even more.

My goal is to celebrate my marriage by making the time for it each day … even if that means that some nights the kitchen counter id let an unorganized mess.

Watch it Spin

Could even our biggest challenges like food allergies and anxiety spin into something positive? Could our greatest hurdles turn into the type of strength and perseverance that can be used for future races, experience and life?

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“Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth.” Like Colossians 3:2 states, perspective is a major key to one’s happiness. Life was never promised to be easy, but also can see in scripture the promise of “beauty for ashes.” This was the promise for God’s people to be delivered from their plight. Though it was promised way back when, it can still give us hope and encouragement during the most difficult times and situations we experience now. Therefore, we must remember to embrace and accept the challenge as an opportunity to learn, to grow, to change, to be ultimately blessed for the troubles and pains. Like John Wooden’s quote, “Things turn out best for the people who make the best out of the way things turn out,” take the bad and find the good. We must teach ourselves to find the positive spin.

Since May is food allergy awareness month, let’s use our experience with food allergies as an example. So, let’s go back to that first reaction, an experience no one should have to experience

Saturday, December 13 was a typical snowy evening.   As I was setting up my son’s dinner, I was excited because it would be his first taste of yogurt. After two small spoonfuls, the verdict was in: he seemed to love it!

However, within a minute it all changed.

He started to fuss and rub at his face. Turning red, his lips and mouth swelled up as huge blotches formed all over his face, neck and chest. Although just an infant, fear was written all across his face.  After calling 911, an ambulance arrived after what felt like a lifetime.  In the ambulance, his state continued to get worse. I held an oxygen mask over his now slightly-blue lips.   As he started to zone out, I prayed that he did not lose his breath. Every time he cried, I felt a second of relief for he was breathing.

Asking the EMT repeatedly about his state, I now know that she too was worried.  Her silence spoke louder than any words could have. They did not have an EpiPen with them in the ambulance and called to meet up with another team on the way to the hospital. However, due to the snow, that did not happen. As the doors to the ambulance opened, they sprinted in holding my son as I ran behind them, helpless.

The hospital staff administered epinephrine, Benadryl, and a steroid then reassured me that everything would be okay.   It was 40 minutes after ingesting that tiny amount of yogurt and I now know that we were beyond lucky.  Not everyone gets those 40 minutes.

A moment of relief soon turned into the reality of what had happened. It mixed with guilt, throwing me into the most difficult place I had seen. That night, I slept on the floor next to his crib waking up every hour to check for breathing.  Yet, even in his sleep, TJ smiled on…

We soon learned that TJ was allergic to and needed to avoid milk, eggs, wheat, oats, barley, rye, peanuts, tree nuts, coconut, sesame, soy, peas, and tomatoes. At first, I spent those early months trying to defend myself to others as a good person who did not eat too many or too little peanuts or eggs during my pregnancy.  Or, explaining why I chose to continue breastfeeding despite these allergies.   I was explaining myself to everyone to try to prove that I did not cause this and I was not an awful mom.  However, I had no one to prove myself to. It was not my fault. I did not need to sit with the guilt either. It was unhealthy and I needed to shift my focus to best help myself so that I could best help TJ.

What I did not know at the time was that I was suffering from post traumatic stress disorder afterwards as well. It was a time of great fear and challenges. Not only did he have these food allergies, he had also developed viral-induced asthma and seemed to be sick all the time, needing breathing treatments daily. Events with family and friends became difficult for so many reasons so I just avoided them. It appeared to be one hurdle after another during that time. Then, mix in a miscarriage, the loss of my close friend’s baby, postpartum anxiety and some medical issues plus a lifetime of anxiety… those mountains seemed way too high to climb.

That’s where the spin comes in… I seemed to be spinning out of control but that did not mean I could not learn to spin it the other way. My perspective had to change before my situation did.

Therefore against the intense anxiety, guilt, exhaustion and pain, I turned to reading scripture, praying and writing. I had always been good at seeing the good in other people but it was a challenge to do this for myself, my own experiences, my own life. I had to teach myself to find the positive or else I would never break the cycle… I had to reverse the spin.

Despite the fact that food allergies, anxiety and health issues are all incredible challenges, there is also a lot of good all around, waiting to be discovered or even seen through these rocky journeys.

Spinning forward and ahead…

1) Allergies have taught us to eat much healthier. It has opened our eyes and thus our mouths to a much more nutritious, organic and wholesome cuisine. It shined light on many misconceptions regarding health, food sources and fat, by allowing us to find great resources like Robin O’Brien. I still remember how I was pumping breast milk during my break at work when I got the message from an amazing nurse Kathy who sent me a video on her. I have not stopped following her since. Through the years, we have also found many companies and brands to trust. We have learned a lot.

2) Companies aren’t the only sources of great information. We have also met and/or spoken to so many other allergy families. We have shared ideas, joys and challenges. A support system is key and food allergies have allowed for that. They are all around. Sign up, join or boldly start your own.

3) We have been given a platform to teach to the ignorance and shine empathy on so many. In being able to educate others even our own family members and friends, relationships have taken on a whole new perspective and level.

4) Thinking outside the box – Having food allergies has really allowed us to get creative and go beyond the typical to ensure TJ, Madison and all of those with allergies are included. Why cry over the spilled milk and sheet cakes you can’t buy for birthday parties, when you have so many great alternative milks out there to purchase and so many cakes and recipes to experiment with and love! As we continue to add to our allergy-safe cookbook, we have fun with it.

5) It continues to teach us to appreciate the little things in life a bit more. We celebrate and praise God at the alter every time another food item is added back into our diets. Heck, we have even celebrated peas … shhh don’t tell my kids I’m not really a fan. Still, we are grateful for each blessing.

6) It develops self advocacy in children at a young age. A few weeks ago at a church class, teachers were switched without us knowing and the message about TJ’s allergies was not relayed. However, TJ spoke up for himself when they tried to give him goldfish which have dairy. Strong advocates with brave hearts will continue to make a difference in this world. I know I want to raise that type of child.

7) And the greatest blessing of all is the testimonies we have of God’s work. We were told TJ would have asthma until at least eight if not his whole life. – TJ no longer has asthma. He stopped daily treatments before he was 2.5. He hasn’t needed a breathing treatment since before he was 4. At 5 now, he is allergic to only dairy, eggs, and peanuts. Three allergies is a huge improvement from 21! While he used to be sick a lot, he has barely been sick this entire year and doesn’t even need an asthma care plan for kindergarten. We have a lot to be thankful for.

And when you ask TJ who took away the stomach bug he had in December, the breathing treatments, the other 18 allergies… His testimony is simply perfect. God!

Since beginning this journey, I have already learned to smile differently because:

1)      Special kinds of people wear these shoes.  Wear the label often thrown at you with pride. For you are special.

2)      Make the most of it, don’t let challenges like food allergies define you. Only YOU can define yourself.

3)      Ignorance is not bliss and needs to be educated. Let’s help share awareness with an open mind and heart.

4)      Let your faith be bigger than your fear.  Two thoughts cannot exist at the same time. A fearful one cannot remain when a faith-filled one butts in and takes charge. Trust your instinct but always be prepared and hopeful.

5)      Educating means advocating. Never apologize for it. Your child’s life, your life never requires an apology.

Last, but definitely not least, people with food allergies, old and young, continue to inspire us each and every day. They radiate so much strength, courage, and goodness. Don’t get me wrong, food allergies stink. However, we must keep focusing on the blessings while we keep safe, praying and believing God is continuing to use all of this as a testimony of his amazing love and healing power.

 

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So if it means having a house that’s a little messier and some challenges we know we will rise above, we’ll take it. We’ll use it all to continue to do our part to teach the merry-go-round of life to see the good all around and learn to spin the other way.

Surround Yourself

Who and what do you surround yourself with?

In a world inundated with negativity, it is crucial to surround yourself with the opposite, positivity. I’m not saying we should walk on a delusional path, ignorant to the realities of the world. I am simply saying that it is important we do not transform to them.

Even the Bible warns about it:

“Do not be deceived: Bad company ruins good morals.”- 1 Corinthians 15:33

“Whoever walks with the wise becomes wise, but the companion of fools will suffer harm.” – Proverbs 13:20

and one of my favorites:

“Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” -Romans 12:2

But it’s not just about people, it’s about everything. What is your mind seeing every day? Whatever it is, it is setting up a platform on which you will focus.

Living most of my life with incredible anxiety, I know this all too well. The vicious cycle that captures our minds like prey. This was most recently experienced after my daughter was born. While I couldn’t admit it at the time, I suffered from postpartum anxiety which teamed up with the post traumatic stress disorder that still lingered from my son’s anaphylactic reaction years before.

During this time, the last thing I needed was more negativity, but it was everywhere. Every other post on Facebook had it. The news that was on television. The news that people told me. What I was google searching… what I was searching for… what I was reading… turned into what I was thinking… It. Was. Everywhere.

Until I had a huge wake up call, I was choosing what to surround myself with. Sure, it was all out there, the negativity our society sometimes seems to sickly crave, the accidents we can’t turn our eyes from. However, it was my own choice if I looked or turned away to something else.

So I decided then during a session of breastfeeding my daughter I would gradually take control back from this vicious cycle once and for all.

That was when I started to google search positive quotes and song lyrics, leaving them on my phone to see when I went to text. Or when I would try to search up something fearful, I would see Bible scriptures of hope in the search engine and screen, then reminding myself to put the phone down. I started to plant seeds of positivity everywhere… my phone, my phone cover, my keychains, my computer screens, my ID holder, my classroom, etc.

Unlike the keys we must carry to get where we need to go each day, we do not need to carry the weight of the world’s negativity with us. Instead, learn to surround yourself with positive people who empower you and your life with reminders of all that is good in this world. Because the truth is… there really is sooo much good, just waiting to be seen.

There is so much beauty in the world if you train your eyes to see it. And if for some reason, you don’t see it… create it, become it, be it! That is why I embrace the mess because it is surrounded by goodness.

Scripture Strength

One of my favorite scriptures that hangs above my daughter’s crib since before she was born is Proverbs 31:25: “She is clothed in strength and dignity and she laughs without fear of the future.” 

 

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Every night before bed, we have prayed this scripture over Madison since birth. Interestingly enough, it fits her little, but big personality perfectly.

Isn’t it what we all hope for our daughters!? For our youth!? For our future?!

To be strong and respectable in a world that often tries to strip that from us…

To laugh through life not allowing worldly fears to steal that from us in an attempt to hold us back from who we are meant to become…

To stand confident in how we are beautiful just the way we are no matter what makeup and filters lie to us about …

And those imperfections that make is human, are perfectly designed to make us just that, beautifully and wonderfully made…

At only two, Madison is already so strong-willed and decisive, which makes some moments quite challenging. And she is quite fearless and independent too (The sprained foot, giant knot on her forehead and slight bruise under her eye, all within a month and a half of each other, were proof of that.) So as we continue to guide her and maybe even lead her down the stairs for now, we are confident that she will continue to be just that: strong, confident and of course, kind. For those qualities define true beauty and what we want for her.

Interestingly enough in reciting this over Madi, I didn’t realize at the time the overwhelming and uplifting effect all of this was also having over me. It’s amazing to see how much change can happen over 2.5 years. How much I’ve changed! And I’m not talking about those few added pounds that came and made a home in my hips over that time. Instead, I’m talking about learning the beauty of them. I’m talking about the beauty and strength that comes from having a daughter.

But that strength doesn’t just come from having kids, it truly comes from having a purpose. It comes from praying and asking God to reveal and confirm that purpose. It comes when we are walking in that purpose, His purpose for our lives.

So on the days when I am feeling worn down and like I need a break and more time, it is nice to know I still have the strength to get me through. And it’s even more empowering to know, she has it too.

 

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*It’s also on my phone case too, thanks to my thoughtful husband.

 

Be Who You Needed

In many ways, this quote has become my motivation this year. I could spend hours, if not days, talking about what I lacked and needed growing up. The struggles that almost took my life time and time again as a child, adolescent and young adult. I could point fingers and place blame on person after person for why I was the way I was, why I hated myself for so many years despite having so much to be thankful for.

But forgiveness allowed me to stop the useless finger pointing and take on the new challenge, applying to every part of my life.

“Be who you needed when you were younger.”

And it has truly changed the way I breath, the way I live, the way I love.

So who did you need? What did you need? What do you still need? Turn to the Word, pray for the strength and then do this very thing. Become who you needed. Become who you need. Become who the world needs. For there is beauty in becoming who you need … in becoming who you are meant to be … amongst the mess.

Unchained Candy Crush

I played Candy Crush for five years.

Yup.

Five years.

And while I do admit I loved it and how it made my mind turn off any worry or stress for those minutes each day of playing …

.. and do not judge anyone who plays it…

 

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let me share why I finally stopped playing cold turkey.

 

I have goals. Many of these dreams have been deeply rooted in me since I was a child. One goal this year is that I want to live in the present. Others include wanting to start this blog again, to write and publish my poetry, to write and publish a book or two, to make a difference according to God’s will, to develop a deep connection with my husband and children, to be more in-tune with family and friend relationships, to be my best self…

Back in the fall, one night as we were spending time with my son before bed, he asked to play on my phone. Finding Candy Crush, he then begged me to show him how to play. It was only for a few minutes that night … but soon turned into a few minutes every night that week… a few minutes every night that took away from conversation and soon could turn into hours or even days of valuable time taken away.

My husband challenged me, “You still play that game? Why don’t you delete it?

I started my defensive comeback …

It helped me work out in the morning (Yes I’m guilty of being the one running on a treadmill crushing away!) …

It helped me unwind …

It helped me de-stress …

It helped me …

Avoid …

Now, unwinding is one thing … but avoiding is another. I was avoiding my goals and dreams because it makes you extremely vulnerable to acknowledge them, verbalize them, and even more vulnerable to stretch out and reach for them.

Stretch goals are not easy. They are not meant to be easy. However, they will never be reached or even have the possibility of being reached if you avoid them.

“I’d rather attempt to do something great and fail than to attempt to do nothing and succeed.” – Robert H. Schuller

God-given gifts and those dreams that are placed on our hearts that align with those gifts cannot be avoided. They must be prayed for and used to do good.

So 1,825 days later …

I deleted candy crush.

You see the devil will use distractions in life to keep us from out destiny… and Candy Crush was one of mine.

While I could not get any of that past time back, I needed that time going forward…

Prayer … writing … poetry … close family and friends … all help me unwind, destress, and focus. But they also help me, stretch out for those dreams and give me the time to do so.

And even though as the work week comes to an end, the house is messier than I would like, my mind and heart are aligned in knowing they are working together to do good. They are working together for a greater purpose.

For more information:

  • “Walk in wisdom toward outsiders, making the best use of the time.” – Colossians 4:5
  • “I glorified you on earth, having accomplished the work that you gave me to do.” – John 17:4

© Jennifer Kosuda and The Art of a Messy House (theartofamessyhouse.com), 2019. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Jennifer Kosuda and The Art of a Messy House with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.


Perspective

All day. Every day. It’s all about perspective. I saw my life change in incredible ways when I shifted this exact thing: perspective.

Invite happiness in even though life is not perfect.

Accept that life will never be perfect.

See the world through a different lens.

We all have the ability to do this.

The mind needs to be retrained, retaught, renewed every day. Remind yourself to find the good and turn your focus away from the mess, and see the beauty. I promise it changes everything.

Besides, who doesn’t like a little mess here and there anyways?

Perspective

Hope in the Lord

strength will renew

like eagles soar on each wing

the run will not grow weary

the walk will not be faint

a perspective that frees

a love to sing.

Perspective is funny

as often as it fails

it is even more of a reason

why it must prevail

so grab hold to the truth

a quiet secure place

in such a noisy world

where God holds heads

and shoulders above

all that tries to pull us down

it’s all about perspective

it’s all about such a love.

A thousand may fall at your side

ten thousand at your right hand

but it will not come near you

that perspective you control

when in His love you stand.

Perspective is funny

as often as it fails

it is even more of a reason

why it must prevail

so grab hold to the truth

a quiet secure place

in such a noisy world

where God holds heads

and shoulders above

all that tries to pull us down

it’s all about perspective

it’s all about such a love.

Do not be afraid

for who is with us

is more than who is with them

so renew your mind

take hold of those thoughts

with eyes on God

truth and blessings collide

and true living, they finally find.

Perspective is funny

as often as it fails

it is even more of a reason

why it must prevail

so grab hold to the truth

a quiet secure place

in such a noisy world

where God holds heads

and shoulders above

all that tries to pull us down

it’s all about perspective

it’s all about such a love.

-JK

For more on this, check out:

Psalm 27:5–6

Isaiah 40:31

Psalm 91:7

2 Kings 6:16