Hope

My word for 2018 is Hope. Sometimes I choose my word and sometimes I feel one heavily pressed upon me. This year I just couldn’t get the word Hope out of my mind. It’s everywhere. And it’s what I need. I feel like the opposite of Hope is Fear and fear has been a struggle of mine for most of my life. I’ve really seen it manifest itself in my child rearing. Can you have Hope and Fear at the same time? I don’t think so. That means my life has been lacking hope. And what is life, without hope?

A few weeks ago I was reading my daughter a story about the first lighthouse. It said the ships were full of fearful people until they saw the light from the lighthouse, telling them home was near. Once they saw the light the fear and terror left them and they were filled with Hope and joy. Their perilous situation on the choppy water hadn’t changed but their attitude did.

I think I am like this too. When I take my eyes off the light of Jesus I am filled with fear, doubt, and even terror. But when even the slightest sight of Him shows up, peace and joy and Hope fill my heart. We too can have an attitude adjustment from fear to hope without our circumstances changing. It’s all about where our Hope is and whom it is in.

Psalm 27:1a “The Lord is my light and salvation, whom shall I fear?”

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My Real Christmas Letter

It’s two days before Christmas. Every year this is the fastest and slowest month. My kids get so excited once the Christmas decorations go up, and since they don’t have the best concept of time, they ask everyday, “How much longer til Christmas?” But for me, Christmas isn’t a destination to look forward to, I enjoy the journey to the special day.  I enjoy decorating, shopping for my friends and family, wrapping the gifts, watching the Hallmark sappy movies and the old classics. I enjoy the parties and the caroling and the concerts. I enjoy baking cookies for our neighbors and going door to door to deliver them. I love the whole spirit of giving that comes with Christmas. And while I enjoy Christmas Day, it’s just the exclamation point at the end of a fun filled season.

This year in particular has been a wonderful, yet tough year for our family. My husband started a job in the new year of 2017, and while it’s been a very rewarding experience for him professionally, it has required longer work hours and more time spent away from home than ever before. This has been very hard on me as a mom and wife, but also on the kids, who can never have enough time with their dad.  Sometimes with blessings come burdens and we have to choose how we focus on them. What’s the big picture?

As for me, the mom, I have had my own wonderful, yet tough year.  I turned 40 this year, for which I am thankful, but I honestly struggled quite a bit with to be honest.  But the hardest part of my year was finding out my mom had stage 4 lung cancer. It has been an emotional roller coaster for me, as she is my best friend.  We have talked on the phone almost every day for the past 20 years since I left home for college. She is my rock, my confidante, and the one person I know will always be there for me no matter what. I am lucky, so lucky, to have a mom like her.  She’s doing okay at the moment and we are so thankful to get to celebrate the holidays with her and dad and my brothers. I am growing in my faith through this experience, daily choosing to trust God with her and my heart no matter what the outcome of her cancer.  On a positive note, I have made some new friends this year and they have been an encouragement in many ways.

Hailey is 11 and started 5th grade this year, and once again we are homeschooling.  She seems to enjoy being homeschooled.  The older she gets, the more her strengths stand out to me. She is a very creative type. She loves to sing, she loves to write songs and desperately wants to learn how to play the guitar. She is an amazing friend. She is so kind and loving and innocent but I do see her growing into a Godly young lady.  Her best friend got cancer this year and she has spent a lot of time with her. She prayed for her every day and I’m happy to say her friend is cancer free now. Hailey always had faith she would be okay.  Everyone who meets Hailey, tells me that God has big plans for that girl, and I have to say I agree.

Bryson is 8 and in 2nd grade this year.  He did really well in public school last year for 1st grade but this year for 2nd, it was a whole different story. He made some bad choices in who to hang out with and slowly was becoming a very angry kid.  He was struggling in his school work as well and after doing everything we could with the school, we decided to pull him out in October and homeschool him.  I’m happy to say that the anger and bad behavior we had dealt with all went away after a few weeks home! It was amazing. He now has this calmness and helpful spirit that wasn’t there before.  He still fights with his brothers over dumb stuff but that’s just life with siblings. He enjoys his schoolwork and seems to be very proud of his work. Immediate praise does wonders for him.  It was definitely the right choice for him, even though mommy’s life got much harder.  He’s the same height as Hailey now and will probably pass her up next year. He still loves baseball but is now enjoying karate as well.

Beckett is 5 and started Kindergarten this past fall. He was always my easiest kid but he decided to step up his game this year and show me how hard he can be as well as his brothers.  This kiddo has an engineer’s mind. He’s always trying to figure out how everything works. Anything I give him he will take apart into a bunch of pieces.  I would say he destroys with a purpose. But he’s also a builder and loves making forts of absolutely anything…boxes, chairs, patio furniture, you name it.  I’m sure someday his mind will be put to good use.  He played soccer and baseball this year but seems to prefer soccer because its more active. He also started karate recently and is enjoying that as well. He has the sweetest smile ever.

Wyatt turned 3 recently and is finally potty trained (Hallelujah)!!  He has quite the personality to match his red hair. Everywhere we go people comment on his hair. It really is beautiful with its flecks of blond gold in it. Wyatt is full of energy. Oh so much energy. He’s everywhere all of the time. This year he cut his own hair, drew sharpie all over my house, and ran down the street while I was in the restroom. Can’t get a 5 minute break with that kid in the house. He’s been in speech therapy all year and has come a long way in his talking abilities. He’s clever and coy and goofy and so stinking adorable that it’s hard to get mad.  He’s the perfect last kiddo for this family.

I imagine that when Jesus decided to come to earth, He also knew his journey would be wonderful yet tough.  I’d like to think it was an easy decision because of His love for us but I know that He knew it wouldn’t be all sunshine and daisies down here. He had a tough life while on earth, and an even tougher death. But he deemed it worth it. It was a Holy Night when Christ was born, it was a night of sacrifice and hope for a future that we have not yet seen. I’m so thankful to God for keeping His eyes on the big picture and making the choice to save us. I hope that we too, as we live in this wonderful yet tough world full of joy and pain, that we can keep our eyes on the big picture, our hope of Heaven.

Merry Christmas to all and my your 2018 be bright,

Love,

The Flukens

The S Word

A few weeks ago I had a dream.  Now, I have dreams every night and I usually remember them for a couple minutes and then they fade away.  But this one stood out and I didn’t forget it about it for many days.

In my dream, my husband was driving my whole family in our big white truck. He pulled up to the bottom of this large green hill and told us all to get out. I looked at the hill and at my kids and then at my husband, and he said, “Let’s go!” I told him it was too steep for the kids, I told him it was too dangerous, that I didn’t want to go. He told me that we needed to do this and that it was time to go. Next thing I know we are at the top and looking out over one of the most beautiful views I had ever seen. I didn’t think we would make it but we did and we were all okay. My husband looked at me and said, “Look at what we would have missed out on if we had listened to your fear.” Then I woke up.

I just knew God had something to speak to me through this dream.  One thing I have been working on lately is listening to God. The thing is, to listen you have to have quiet around you. I have 4 kids so I don’t experience quiet very often. The only time I do is during my 10 minute shower every day. So I decided to take that time to not only clean up, but start listening UP. I simply ask God if there is anything He wants to tell me, and if there is, to give me the ability to hear it. Often a verse will come to mind or a line from a worship song. Sometimes I will feel a person is put on my heart to pray for as well.

A few days after the dream, I was listening and I felt God bring it back to my mind. I asked him what it meant and He said, “submission.”In the dream my husband was trying to lead me and our family. I was resisting his lead because I was scared and full of my own anxiety and fears. They weren’t ridiculous fears but neither was his suggestion. The fact is that when we submit to our husbands we also submit to God. We have to trust that God gave us a partner in life not just to love us, but also to challenge us out of our comfort zone.  Our submission to our husbands challenges them to seek God harder because they also don’t want to lead us astray.

There are some areas in my marriage where I am specifically working on trusting my husband more, and in turn submitting more. It’s not easy, but I trust God to work in him to lead our family. And I trust that God will strengthen our relationship through my letting go of the fears and anxieties that keep me from climbing the beautiful hills that will continue to come into my life.

 

In pursuit of peace,

Jamie

God is with you

Four words. So simple. But yet there is so much more here than I realized.

A few days ago I went to my homeschool academy’s monthly homeschool meeting. They give announcements, we turn in paperwork, sometimes we meet in groups and sometimes there is a special speaker. On this evening, there was a special speaker named Norm Wakefield. This was the title of his talk that night. It was SO good! It was such a simply straightforward message about God’s love but it was so practical for real life. I came away feeling like God spoke directly to me. I love that.

I’ve been feeling like God has been speaking to me a lot lately about fear and anxiety (hence the title of this blog).  The main thing I keep hearing from Him is that I don’t have to be afraid because He is with me. I think that sometimes His presence is a hard concept to grasp because we can’t see Him with our eyes. In certain situations I can feel his presence, like a warmth in my heart, but it’s hard to put into words. The amazing thing is that His presence isn’t just comfort, it’s also His power.  The other day I was talking to my son about how God lives in His heart, and he said to me, “You mean that the God who built the entire world has a home in MY heart?!”  He thought that was incredible.  God is so BIG to him, so amazing…and this BIG God loves us enough that he promises to always be with us! That should bring so much peace and hope into our lives.

My daughter has an extreme fear of needles/shots.  A few weeks ago I got to experience her fear first hand and it was so crazy it brought me to tears.  I had to wrap my whole body around hers while two nurse helped me hold her down to get a blood sample. She shook and convulsed in fear. It was like nothing I had ever seen and it was just the worst experience I’ve ever had.  The second the needle went into her arm, her whole body relaxed and went limp in my arms. It wasn’t the pain itself she was afraid of, it was the anticipation of the pain. Sometimes the things we fear are less scary than our own anxiety that we endure beforehand. I wonder if we truly believed that God was with us, we could embrace our fears and the unknowns of life with more peace.  Is our belief in God stronger than our anxieties and fears?  I want mine to be.

I will leave you with a few of my notes from that night at my meeting:

  1. “I will be with you always” means “I will help you.”  We were never meant to do this life alone. He wants to help us.
  2. Do not let your heart be troubled about anything, except not walking peacefully with your helper.

John 14:1 says, “Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God.”

In pursuit of peace,

Jamie

Be anxious for Nothing

It has been a long couple of weeks, maybe even months. My husband has been working very long hours and that has left me here to handle the kids and all their needs every day all day. As much as I love them (to the moon and back doesn’t come close), this Mom needs a break. I am an introvert and I need peace and quiet to have strength, to have focus, heck, to have sanity. And I haven’t had a lot of it a lately.

Often I put on a brave face, not just to others, but to myself as well. I convince myself I can handle this, that if I just take it one catastrophe at a time, I won’t break into a hundred pieces. And then something happens and my glass facade breaks and I have to be honest with myself and others. I am struggling.

This week I went to my bimonthly Mom’s group. This time was a bit different because instead of bringing 3 kids, I brought 4. Two weeks ago I pulled my 8 year old son out of public school. He has some special needs that were making it increasingly difficult for him to handle the stresses of school. After exhausting everything the school could do to help, we decided homeschooling him would be the best option. I already homeschool 2 of my other kids but the stress of schooling my oldest son was something I didn’t know if I could handle. I have had to make a lot of adjustments and give up a lot of things because of this kiddo. Any special needs parent will tell you that they have given up a lot and made significant adjustments to their life for their special kids but it’s hard to fully understand unless you are going through it.

On Thursday I was nervous walking in with my son. He was nervous too. This moms group is cool because they allow homeschool kids to be helpers so even us homeschool moms can enjoy some nice time with other moms and have a little break. But my kid doesn’t handle new situations well and I wasn’t sure how he would handle this. I made it through the meeting without anyone coming to get me (amazing!) but when I went to pick him up I got an earful about how challenging he was in the room. I’ve heard this so many times that I’m afraid I’ve built up a callous to it. The words flow over me as I nod my head and apologize and try to leave as fast as I can.

I walk down the hall and see a friend. I tell her what happens and before I know it, I’m sobbing. The oh-so-careful glass around my heart had been tapped in just the right spot and broke into a hundred pieces. The truth of my life, and how here I was about to have to give up the last thing that I had for myself, just tipped me over the edge. I understand that love is sacrifice, oh boy do I get that. But sometimes you need time just for you. The thought of losing it, this one last thing that I had for myself, broke me.

I wish I could say that this breaking hasn’t happened much in my life, but it has. I’ve struggled with anxiety much of my adult life but it has seemed to be worse this year. A post on why this year has been tough will be coming soon. However, a few days after this experience I started this blog. I have no idea if anyone will read my words here or if it will just be between me and God, either is fine. But the words in the verse that this blog is based on are my new anthem and I am hopeful that God is going to use this blog for His glory.

“Be anxious for nothing” (seriously, nothing?) “but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God” (the thing I am constantly in search of) “which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” Philipians 4:6-7

I have to be vulnerable with someone, why not with God? He doesn’t judge me, He already knows my heart, He cares, He has the best advice, and man, that peace He talks about in that verse sounds pretty dang good. It’s great to be strong and handle what life throws at you but it’s also good to have people in your life that you can share your heart with so that it doesn’t get to the point of a mini breakdown. It’s also good to pour out your heart to God, He is the “author and finisher of our faith…” (Heb. 12:2) after all!

I am honestly already dreading this coming week. It will be my first week homeschooling all three of my big kids and my husband just informed me that he is working tomorrow (Sunday) and the following Saturday and Sunday…which means I am on full time parent duty for the next 14days. I want to cry. But I know we will get through this and I will survive with a lot of prayer, chai tea, and maybe some Gilmore Girls reruns on in the background.

In pursuit of Peace,

Jamie

A little about me

So I decided to start a blog. This isn’t my first blog. About 10 years ago, when the blog craze started I jumped right in. At that time I think I started three or four different blogs about different things. Of course, life got crazy (as it always does) and I couldn’t keep up with them and pretty much let them all go. But I always had a feeling I would come back again later.

My life definitely didn’t get any less crazy, in fact the crazy factor around here is at epic proportions. But when God puts it on your hear to do something, you do it. So, here I am, ready to pour out my heart and life in written word. We shall see what happens.

So, about that crazy, let me share a little bit of my life now. I am married to a wonderful yet imperfect man. It’s been about 13 years now and our marriage has not been easy. In those 13  years I think we have moved 9 times and he has changed jobs at least that many times. He finally found his niche in Construction Management but it was a rough road getting there. I believe our difficult journey has made us closer and more resilient and it’s definitely tested our commitment. I’m thankful for that. We are stronger for it.

The other half of my crazy life is my kids. 4 of them. My parents had 4 and it didn’t seem like that big a deal so I thought, sure, I can do 4 too. Well….I have had a bit of a wake up call. You know how people say that God won’t give you more than you can handle? That’s a big FAT LIE!  I cannot handle these 4 crazies, they test me and push me to my limit daily! But, thankfully, I also can daily let go and give them to God and let Him handle them. He’s like the best babysitter ever, except they really belong to him. So maybe I’m the babysitter? That sounds like a whole other post.

So there are 4. My girl Hailey is 11, and my sons Bryson, Beckett, and Wyatt are 8, 5, and 3.  I daily get people telling me that I have my hands full. The truth is I really do! They are each wonderful in their own way and I’m enjoying the process of getting to see what their gifts and talents are and who God is making them to be. Oh, but they are very challenging too. Parenting them is the most selfless thing I have ever done in my life. They take every ounce of my energy and patience daily but then they do something adorable and fill me up once again. I’m convinced this is why God made kids so cute, to make up for how difficult they can be.

You may have noticed that the title of this post was “A little about Me” and yet I really haven’t talked about ME that much here. That’s kinda why I’m here. My husband and my kids have become my life. I spend all of my time attending to their needs and I think I may have lost a bit of me in the process. I’m hoping to find ME again through this blog. I’m hoping you will join me on this journey.

 

In pursuit of peace,

Jamie