Tuesday, December 31, 2013

2013 Review in Photos



May everyone have a very happy and safe New Year's Eve!

Photo Time

(but all out of order)

 The view out of my left car window
The view out of my right car window
(slight difference?)

 Sassy started Kindergarten
 Christmas 2013
Yoga time at Momo and Papa's house
 We baked in 2013 ... a lot!
 Sassy's first day of Kindergarten
 Advent (25 days of Christmas 2013)
 Fourth of July with Neighbors
 Photo shoot with cousin

 Disneyland - October 2013

 The girls love to plant
and weed
and garden with Momo and Nana

 Easter chaos
At the Easter Egg Mall Hunt
 Sassy's 5th birthday in Seattle 
(with daddy)
 More baking anyone?
 Nana's 45th birthday
 Sassy in the ER with Bronchitis
 Easter 2013

The small town carnival 
 Cousin togetherness with Mr. P snurgling
 Breez' 4th birthday
 Mas birthday party fun
 A visit to the Columbia River
 Halloween 2013
Auntie J as Minnie Mouse
Mama as a 70's chick
Sass as Princess Tiana 
And Breez as a Gypsy

 Swimming beauties
 Sass in the hospital (again) with abdominal pain, vomiting and breathing issues
My poor girl

Sassy getting student of the month!

There were so many more events that were photo worthy in 2013
But I either couldn't find them or there were no photos actually taken
Again, I hope for everyone to have a Happy New Years Eve!
And to bring in 2014 with everyone you love most!

See you NEXT YEAR!

Sunday, December 29, 2013

A Glimpse into Fasting and it's Almost 2014

*Note: When I use the word 'fast', I do not mean eliminating all food. When I use the word 'fast' (for me) I use it to mean not consuming any food for gluttonous, or emotionally satisfying reasons, but instead when tempted turning to God and not consuming anything until the temptation passes. Basically only consuming food for physical health - if that makes any sense. 

I have always heard the word 'fasting' and I either associated it with 'dieting' or 'Christian crazies' who preferred to thump their Bible rather than practice what it preaches. But lately I have been investigating the actual purpose of spiritual fasting because I have also read so much lately about people doing it. I found this straight from Google and I admit I was fascinated.

Spiritual fasting is not a way to earn God's favor by getting him to do something for us. Rather, the purpose is to produce a transformation in us—a clearer, more focused attention and dependence upon God.

Now, I realize healthy people who have no food issues fast by removing 1 or 2 meals or snacks or specific foods from their diet for a short period of time.

But in retrospect it is so true that for people such as myself who have food as an 'idol' and are blatantly 'gluttonous' that in order to more properly focus attention on God it is a really good idea to try semi-permanent fasting, especially if you feel called to do so.

That being said, I am feeling called to do so. In the past my weight loss attempts have been motivated by vain, selfish, superficial reasons. Of course, I prayed that God would help me not to fall into temptation with certain foods or that He would give me the will power to 'say no'. But it never occurred to me to take my focus completely off the food all together and instead focus only on Him in prayer and reading the Bible. It never occurred to me that it could possibly be my over-attention to what I was and was not putting in my mouth rather than focusing on God and allowing Him to fulfill me spiritually that was causing me to fail time and time again.
1 Corinthians 10:31
So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.
Now, I suddenly feel like a switch has been flipped. LITERALLY. I have thought to have felt or experienced that AHA moment so many people talk about. There are even posts on this very blog where I THOUGHT I had experienced that moment. But all of those experiences ended in failure because I was focused on the wrong thing! Instead of focusing on God and allowing him to work within me - to change me, I was trying to control the entire situation as if I had all the power when in reality my power to change myself was minuscule compared to the power He has to work within me and change me.
Philippians 4:13
I can do all things through him who strengthens me.

Tomorrow I start back on Weight Watchers. I will continue to count points. That is part of the program and I feel that God wants me to have guidelines. I don't believe He would have opened this door for me to participate in the program for free if it wasn't His will for me to do so. So, I will continue but when I am troubled and when some food calls to me and I know I should not partake in it, instead of agonizing on what I could eat instead and instead of wishing and hoping and obsessing over it, I will open my Bible and I will pray and I will fast. I have no doubts that if I make God the focus of my efforts instead my efforts the focus of my life, then I will be successful.


On that note, it is only 2 days until New Years Eve. 
Do you remember where you were on New Years Eve 2000?
I sure do
And it isn't where I am, that's for sure.
I was 15 and living in Newbury Park, California
I was a Sophomore in high school
In my 'sweatshirt phase' 
where every day I wore either a green, blue or black sweatshirt over and over and over again
My great grandpa was still alive then
My sister was only 7
I had survived one of the most difficult events of my life up to that point
and the consequences of that event were just beginning to melt into the recesses of my memory
 We played a board game 
Aggravation, I think
and my family wore silly party hats and blew silly party favors
I remember watching the NYC ball drop on the small TV
and the pulsing numbers - 2000- that filled the screen

Now here we are entering 

So much has changed in 14 years
I graduated high school 2002
Quit my job as assistant manager at McDonalds 2002
Worked for 6 months at the best job I would ever have 2003
Was let go 2004
I moved to Washington 2005
Worked for 6 months at the 2nd best job I would ever have 2005
They closed down and I got laid off 2005
Worked for just a short time at the 3rd best job ever 2005
And then subsequently moved to Southern Mexico
to wait for my soon-to-be husband's VISA and to teach English 2005
He got his VISA 2005
We moved back to the states 2006
Got married 2006
I got pregnant 2007
We separated 2007
Miscarried 2007
We separated 2007
Got pregnant again 2007
Gave birth while husband was in Mexico 2008
Moved 2008
Got pregnant again 2008
Gave birth 2009
Separated from my husband 2009
Moved into my mom's house 2009
Lost 55lbs in 2010
Divorced my husband 2011
Gained all 55lbs plus a lot more back 2011-2012
Sassy started school 2013



Saturday, December 28, 2013

Reevaluation and Renovation of Myself & this Blog

If you have been reading my blog for any amount of time (and those who still follow from before 2008 know that my blog has undergone multiple transformations, topics and even URLs) you know my main focus in life is ever-changing. One minute I am 100% focused on my girls and being a mom, the next I delve into being an author and focus all my extra efforts on writing. In those moments there is not a moment when my girls are occupied that I am not laying out plots, executing character actions and reasoning behind those actions, playing out fight scenes and love scenes and final scenes in my mind. AND then in the very next moment I am suddenly obsessed with weight loss and how I am going to 'do it this time'... How I am going to lose this weight.  I am a constantly and ever evolving rotation of good intentions and lengthy pros to express what those are and how I intend to fulfill them.

As I am constantly mentioning, I have been reading avidly through Linny's blog over at A Place Called Simplicity (I strongly suggest you visit and read) and my heart has made a strange metamorphoses. It is extremely difficult to understand myself, let alone explain to you all. It's like all my good intentions were being held captive inside a mud casing petrified over time and those intentions knew only the limits of that mud casing. But through Linny's blog (because I believe God chose her as a human vessel with which to reveal His Word to me) and my own soul searching and researching and listening religiously to my pastor and praying . . . it is as if the mud casing has broken away and crumbled into nothingness and I suddenly feel as if anything is possible. ANYTHING. I have so much that had been sitting on the surface of my heart and it feels as though it is sinking in, absorbing straight into the muscle and my chest feels literally overflowing with emotion and joy and POSSIBILITY and OPTIMISM.

Even as I write this I am listening to my 'Mercyme' Pandora Station and the song is, HOW GREAT IS OUR GOD! And my eyes are filled with tears because I don't know when the light switch flipped. I don't know when the flood gates opened and I suddenly felt this way. It just happened, unbeknownst to me. I was closed and cold and guarded and pessimistic and sad and lonely and then SUDDENLY I WASN'T. How great is MY GOD. YOUR GOD?!

God suddenly threw open several different doors and it was like He said to me, 'Choose Kristen. They've always been there. Now is the time to choose." And so now I am faced with a life-changing decision. I have three talents that stand out from any others that I may think or not think I have. Those are my strength and ability to give great massages. I have always been told I should get involved in massage therapy. I speak Spanish fluently and have been told on more than one occasion how I should be an interpreter and of course, I write. I love all of those options and I have plenty of time to weigh which is the best fit for me. I will pray. I will ask God to guide me. Just recently I was wallowing in the deepest trenches of despair, thinking about how much my family has helped me financially and what I would ever do if something happened to them. I was desperately depressed and then God took my chin, tilted it toward the sky and said to me ... I've got this. We've got this. And I will always provide for you when you need me.

Something else has been squeezing my heart as well and I cannot / will not reveal what that is but I will ask for prayers that God will reveal to me if / when it is time.

I cannot express how excited I am. The possibilities are endless. My eyes have been opened and cleared and I am excited to see where God leads me now that I can see. Don't worry, if you read to hear about my weight loss (or lack there of) you will still hear about that. If you read to see pictures and hear about my beautiful little girls, there will be plenty of that too. But this blog will undergo a transformation that will infuse the most important part of life directly into each post and there will be no lack of thanking God for everything He has given me, including the ability to share my journey.

God Bless,

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Christmas ALWAYS Goes too Fast

I feel like I was just writing my Thanksgiving post and now we are days away from the new year. Old(er) folks don't lie when they say that the older you get the faster the years go. And it is even more true when you have kids. I wouldn't change it though. Every year it just gets better and fills my heart to overflowing so that I can't imagine I could be any more blessed or loved the next year, only to find that it just grows exponentially every following season. It isn't just me either. After seeing photos and posts on Facebook and Twitter as well as reading several blog posts, it is apparent that the love really was felt and dealt well this year.

So, Linn over at A Place Called Simplicity has invited her readers (and their readers) into her house for Christmas and I am a sucker (excuse the expression) for the different ways people celebrate Christmas. I think it is thee ABSOLUTE most beautiful, wondrous and blessed time of year. Here is a peek into our Christmas eve and Christmas day.

Baking cookies

We made sugar cookies, sugar cookie balls, chocolate chip cookies, chex mix, carameled chex mix, muddy buddy chex mix (chocolate) and banana bread

Sassy, Mama's little elf
Opening the 24th day of 25 days of Christmas present

Ever After High Dolls - Apple White and Madeline Hatter

On our way to family's house for Christmas Brunch

Elsa - Sassy's gift from Auntie

Ana - Breezy's gift from Auntie

Hugs by the Christmas Tree

I am so thankful that they love each other so very much

(7 large and heavily frosted)
Christmas cookies and milk

They also saluted and kissed Kipper (our elf on the shelf) goodnight and goodbye for the last time until next year
There were tears
It was very emotional
Mr. P posing in front of the Christmas Tree

The tree Christmas Morning

Opening their stockings with care
in front of a faux fire
(see it on the TV in the background haha)

Opening Santa's (huge)
gifts with not so much care

Chief's face warmer beanie

Emma's Christmas Bling
Doesn't she just look stunning?!

Mr. P in his suit and tie
So handsome!

The girls gave mama
"Migraine fixer'
They were so proud of their gift to me and I LOVE IT
Sassy also made me the most adorable manger set with small ceramic plant pots. They were turned upside down and draped in ropes and shawls to make Mary, Joseph and the Baby Jesus. It is adorable but sadly, I have no photo.

Sassy's Santa Gift
Doc McStuffins Doc McStuffins - come on let the visit begin, the doc is in
(theme song)

Breezy's Santa Gift
She wanted a kitchen because she is mama's little sous chef
And there is nothing she enjoys more than mixing and stirring and chopping and serving
Momo and Papa's house
(with auntie C and great auntie J, Great Uncle E & honorary Uncle K)

Girls, Yizzl, Nana and Great Auntie J
Our Christmas Eve was spent playing Bunco with family. Even my little chicklets joined in. It was awesome and warm and beautiful with so much joy and laughter. 

There was a very tender and sad moment when Sassy looked at her cousin who was laughing with my uncle (my cousin's dad) and asked why she got to live with her daddy? 

My heart clenches and tears well in my eyes just thinking about it.
How do you explain to a beautiful, innocent heart of a 5 year old that her daddy isn't following the rules?
That it isn't safe?
And how do you explain that on Christmas eve?
The answer is, you don't. 
The answer is you hug the child and you tell them how much they are loved by everyone that surrounds them and by their daddy who isn't present in body but is present in her heart.

On a slightly more somber tone the rest of the night was spent holding my babies.
Loving on them and praying that God would touch their tender little hearts 
so that the pain of paternal absence would lessen

And THAT is what Christmas is about
Being there for the ones you love
When they are hurting
Holding them
Loving them
And showing them through your love for them how much God loves them
Which is why He sent his son
And is ALWAYS with them

Love to all
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year
May 2014 bring you all the peace, love, prosperity that God has intended for you

On that note, I read Katie's blog over at Runs for Cookies and a close family friend of hers who has (for lack of a better term due to lack of full disclosure) mental disabilities is dying from cancer and will probably be spending the rest of his days in a hospital bed instead of the group home he has known all his life. She has asked her readers to send him get better/well cards, even though it is unlikely he will get better. The cards cheer him up so much and she takes them to him and reads them to him which over joys him. So, I though I would ask my readers to do the same. If you can find it in your heart to write well wishes to Mark I think he would be tickled pink. You can find more details in THIS POST over on Katie's blog.

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