Sunday, December 30, 2012

World's Worst Baby Book Mama

There are mamas I know who have baby books & scrapbooks for their children that would challenge the work of the world's top graphic designers.  To all of these mamas, "I salute you."  For you see, I am, admittedly, the world's worst baby book mama.

For our first son Thomas, I bought a baby book.  Faithfully, for the first six weeks of his life, I documented important know what I'm talking about, things like how much he weighed, what time he was born, who came to visit, what gifts he received.

When our daughter Abby arrived almost 7 years later, I believe I bought a baby book, but don't quote me, and heavens, please don't ask me where it resides.....those pages only made it thru the first few days.

Four years ago, on New Year's Eve Day, at 12:02pm, Jack Henry entered the scene.


Ok, so you may have guessed by now..... no baby book.  This time however; I'm quite sure I saved the money  - a girl finally begins to know herself around age 40 you know. ;)

Truth be told, I used to really feel guilty.  Guilty that I hadn't been a good mama and taken proper notes, guilty that good mamas had these beautiful books documenting everything from their child's first guests to their first teeth to their first steps................ just plain guilty..........but you know what? {deep cleansing breath} I don't feel that guilt anymore.  (a girl realizes a whole lotta things around age 40)

           There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. - Romans 8:1

Keeping a prestigious baby book doesn't determine my ability to be a good mama.  Loving my kiddos unconditionally, encouraging them, nurturing them, building them up, valuing them, and showing them The Way....that's what makes me a good mama.  (*note: not a perfect mama, there is no such thing. Let go of that mommy guilt immediately)

It was hearing the Christmas story found in Luke Chapter 2 again this year that originally inspired this post.  I have mentioned before that each year, when I read.....and hear........and soak in the words of this incredible love story, God shows me something *new*.....................................  This year, my heart rested on these three incredible verses.....

                    When they [the shepherds] had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child,  and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them.  But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. ♥ Luke 2:17-19

Mary didn't have a baby book.  No Snapfish or Shutterfly either.  Not even a Nikon CoolPix to capture the Savior's first smile.  BUT MARY TREASURED.........Mary PONDERED............Mary STORED UP each and every moment and embedded them in her heart.

That's what a good mama does you know. ♥

Happy Birthday my sweet Jack Henry - You are forever engraved on your Mama's Heart. ♥
Grace & Peace to You as we Welcome the Gift of a New Year,

Saturday, December 15, 2012

We can give them.........GRACE♥

Stunned. Shocked. Saddened.....Seemingly helpless.  But are we?
Or, in the wake of yesterday's tragic events.......Is there something that we, God's people, God's CHILDREN can do?
I asked Him about it last night. Most of the night in fact.
I shed tears as I spoke with Him.......cried out to Him.....praying for the children who were snatched from the arms of their earthly parents......praying for the mommies & daddies who now feel the emptiness in their homes and in their hearts....praying for the community who gathers to find ways to express their love and demonstrate their support........
I asked God...........what can we do? what can we send? what can we give?
and He answered...........
God ALWAYS answers...
He answered,
Give them.....GRACE.



Give Them Grace. Show Them Grace. SEND. THEM. GRACE.
Friends, if there's one thing I'm learning on this faith journey, it is the importance of listening to God, and in turn, obeying Him.  Now.  Not later.  Now. He speaks. We listen.
So here is what the Elness family came up with.........
We are sending a shipment of Max Lucado's "GRACE for the Moment Devotions for Kids" to the students of Sandy Hook Elementary.  27 copies in honor and memory of those taken.
We placed the order online, with instructions to ship to the school, and we prayed for each set of tiny hands that we hope will soon hold one.

Will you consider joining us? Whether it's one copy, ten copies, or one hundred copies?
Imagine if enough copies were sent to place in the hands of every small student at Sandy Hook?

Let's share the GIFT of His Grace this Christmas. ♥

The people brought children to Jesus, hoping he might touch them. The disciples shooed them off. But Jesus was irate and let them know it: “Don’t push these children away. Don’t ever get between them and me. These children are at the very center of life in the kingdom. Mark this: Unless you accept God’s kingdom in the simplicity of a child, you’ll never get in.” Then, gathering the children up in his arms, he laid his hands of blessing on them. ~Mark 10:13-16

Sweet Blessings,

Saturday, December 1, 2012

In the Middle

Father - Son - Holy Spirit
Jesus in the Middle.

Son - Daughter - Son
Abby in the Middle. 

The LORD God made all sorts of trees grow up from the ground—trees that were beautiful and that produced delicious fruit. In the middle of the garden he placed the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. ~Genesis 2:9

The angel of the LORD appeared to him in a blazing fire from the middle of a bush. Moses stared in amazement. ~Exodus 3:2

In the middle is a pretty incredible place to be.
Dove Caramels.
In the middle.

Abby Jean & Jesus Christ - both loved to the fullest by their heavenly Father and entrusted to the care of their earthly parents.  Both made in His Image to reflect His light, His grace, His mercy, and His love. ♥ Both sent for a purpose, and both with humble beginnings....

 Joseph went from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to the town of Bethlehem in Judea, the birthplace of King David. Joseph went there because he was a descendant of David. He went to register with Mary, who was promised in marriage to him. She was pregnant, and while they were in Bethlehem, the time came for her to have her baby.  She gave birth to her first son, wrapped him in cloths and laid him in a manger..... ~Luke 2:4-7

Today, we celebrate and give thanks for our "in the middle".  Our middle-school, middle-child, in-the-middle Abby Jean turns 12 years old today.  A beautiful millennium baby born at night in a small hometown hospital in December. 

Happy Birthday Baby Girl.  You make us proud every single day of your life.  And God has you right where he wants you.  
In the Middle. 

♥All my Love Always & Forever,
Mom xo

Sunday, November 4, 2012

But Who Will Carry Me??

Jack Henry proudly began his first day of Sunday School this fall.  He remained in the classroom without the shedding of tears (which his father and I immediately deemed a success as his siblings did not exhibit this exuberant independence in their 3rd year of life).  However; when I returned to retrieve our curious new student, I questioned his teacher as to how he had managed.  She told me that although he was very quiet, he really did quite well........But (isn't there ALWAYS a 'but'?), she went on to explain that at opening music time, the leader instructed the kids as to how they would weave their way to the front of the room, line up, and make their joyful noise. Our beloved Jack, in the most quiet, humble, deeply sincere small voice asked........."But who will carry me?"  
             Oh it comes..
"He's not used to being carried all the time, is he?" the sweet woman asked with a grin....(bless her heart) this point, all you mamas know, that this is where you insert the "cute filler laugh",  the one that says "oh...isn't that cute?" even though inside you are secretly thinking:
"Oh great, now these people know that we continue to carry this child who is approaching 4 and isn't exactly in the lightweight division...."

And you know what?.......We do.   
As a matter of fact, as I was going thru some family photos, there was no denying it...

And as I looked thru all the pictures, ALL the pictures of Jack Henry happily resting in the arms of another.........I Smiled. 
I smiled and gave THANKS.  
For you see, I too can happily rest each day smiling safely in the arms of another. 
And friends, let me tell ya, there are days I'm in need of some SERIOUS carrying.......
C'mon, you know those days....You oversleep, the car won't start, homework's not done, the "right" jeans aren't clean, the cupcakes aren't baked, the dog gets sick........and it's not yet 8am.  Anyone relate?
♥Take heart sweet friends - - God is not only WILLING to carry us, He INSISTS

                      Then Jesus said, “Come to me,
                   all of you who are weary 
                    and carry heavy burdens,
              and I will give you rest." ~ Matthew 11:28 
****** Tired? Worn out? Dealing with too much stress? too much anxiety? just plain TOO MUCH?
"No worries", Jesus says, "I'll carry you."


           He tends his flock like a shepherd: 
            He gathers the lambs in his arms
            and carries them close to his heart;
           He gently leads those that have young. ~ Isaiah 40:11

****** Ever feel like you're wandering? Wondering while you wander just where your place is in this world? Wishing someone would lead you to your destiny?
"No problem", Jesus says,"I'll carry you." 

******* And sometimes, well,........sometimes we just need to give our ego a break, set our pride aside, and admit we need some help.......

                 Humble yourselves before the Lord, 
                        and he will lift you up. ~ James 4:10

  "It's ok", Jesus says, "I'll carry you."

"But Mama", he asks me, "Who will carry me?"
He will my sweet boy. ♥           HE will carry us both.♥     

In His Arms,

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Eatin' Glue

Ever wonder what Jesus meant when He spoke of entering the Kingdom of Heaven as a child?  I sure have.


Listen to His words in the book of Matthew.......

Jesus called a little child to him and put the child among them. Then he said, “I tell you the truth, unless you turn from your sins and become like little children, you will never get into the Kingdom of Heaven. So anyone who becomes as humble as this little child is the greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven. (Matthew 18:2-4)

and again in Mark.......

One day some parents brought their children to Jesus so he could touch and bless them. But the disciples scolded the parents for bothering him. When Jesus saw what was happening, he was angry with his disciples. He said to them, “Let the children come to me. Don’t stop them! For the Kingdom of God belongs to those who are like these children.(Mark 10:13-14)

and again in Luke......

Then Jesus called for the children and said to the disciples, “Let the children come to me. Don’t stop them! For the Kingdom of God belongs to those who are like these children.  I tell you the truth, anyone who doesn’t receive the Kingdom of God like a child will never enter it.”  (Luke 18:16-17)

Friends, today the Holy Spirit explained it to me.  

 Today, as I helped out at my son's preschool; surrounded by small, curious, rambunctious children who would rather eat glue than gummy bears, I realized that THIS is how Jesus calls us to Him.....


**A little girl stepped on her friend's fingers at carpet time. One quick "I'm sorry" later, all was forgiven.
 - - -Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others. (Colossians 3:13)

**A small boy hurts the feelings of another, then turns to offer a tender hug.
- - - Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. (1 John 4:7)

**Ten sweet souls, different races, different backgrounds, different lives, yet all they see when they look at each other, is FRIEND.
- - - God does not see the same way people see. People look at the outside of a person, but the Lord looks at the heart. (1 Samuel 16:7)

Our world can sometimes feel crazy.  Our lives can be stuffed with hectic schedules, troubled relationships, overwhelming trials, and heavy burdens that seem as though they will tear us in two - - BUT.... when those feelings come, when you feel as though you will surely be broken, remember this sweet friends - - - > 

“Let me give you a new command: Love one another. In the same way I loved you, you love one another. This is how everyone will recognize that you are my disciples—when they see the love you have for each other.” (John 13:34)

 **** in other words,
play nice, do your best to get along, and take care of each other until I get back.♥ 

Jesus is the Glue. Eat up.   †

Embraced by His Grace,

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Mama's Beaten Beatin' Heart ♥

Grandma's Acne Soap.  
Guaranteed to eliminate pimples and beat out blemishes. 
There's just one catch........the complexion will need to get worse before it gets better.  In order for the skin to empty itself of impurities and begin the healing and recovery process, it must first bring these imperfections to the surface to be exposed.

I discovered this week that the same is true for a Mama's heart. ♥  In order for the heart to heal, the tears must flow.......and that is OKAY.  I have discovered that in the midst of new beginnings and life's changes, that there is only ONE. TRUE. WAY. to a healed heart.....a heart that empties itself  - of self - allowing room for peace, joy, and yes........comfort.  

You see, this mama's beatin' heart has taken quite a beatin' this week.
On Sunday, we helped our son Thomas settle into his new beginning.  College.  Gulp.  How did this happen?  How did he get here?  How did WE get here?  I had been preparing myself for months.....or so I thought.  I had convinced myself that there would be no tears, and even if there were, certainly it would be but a few.....

"He's ready", I repeated to myself, and then repeated again.....and again. 

"He will be less than 2 hours away, we can see him anytime we'd like", I reasoned.  

"We're not sad, we're excited for him,  and so proud of this next big step", I reassured myself.....and everyone else.  

That is...........until it was time to say goodbye in the doorway of his small dorm room............

Beautiful memories of him flooded my beaten heart
Stinging salty tears flooded my swollen eyes.

I knew it was time to go, but as I held him in my arms.......I squeezed extra tight, as if to convince his heart, and mine, that we would both be ok.
We left. We left with the realization that "one of us" was missing.  "One of us" wasn't coming home tonight.  "One of us" was starting anew.
As we drove home, I began to pray and ask God to watch over Thomas in our absence........
and that is when I heard back from Him. 
The One. 
The ONLY One who could cure this beaten mama's beatin' heart...and here dear friends,
 is what He said........

"Tera, don't worry. He's MINE."

Without hesitation, the Spirit flooded my empty heart with the words I so desperately needed to hear.............

"Tera, I knew him before you did"
You made my whole being;
       you formed me in my mother's body.  ~ Psalm 139:13

"Tera, I have a plan for him"
I say this because I know what I am planning for you," says the Lord. "I have good plans for you, not plans to hurt you. I will give you hope and a good future. ~ Jeremiah 29:11

"Tera, I will never leave him"
"I will never leave you;
       I will never abandon you." ~ Deuteronomy 31:6

"Tera, I will take care of him and provide for him"
 And this same God who takes care of me will supply all your needs from his glorious riches, which have been given to us in Christ Jesus. ~ Phillippians 4:19

"Tera, I am there to protect him"
When you call to me, I will answer you.
    I will be with you when you are in trouble.
    I will save you and honor you.  ~ Psalm 91:15

and "Tera, don't ever forget.... I LOVE Him. Always & Forever."
the Lord loves us very much,
       and his truth is everlasting.  ~ Psalm 117:2

And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age. ~ Matthew 28:20

The tears stopped flowing.  The heart started healing.  I gave thanks to God our Heavenly Father for entrusting three of his precious children to my care.  

And this morning....just two days after my beaten beatin' heart had whispered goodbye........God helped me to do it all over again......
This time, however; I took a deep breath, kissed the Cheerio cheeks of my youngest son, and said goodbye.  A few tears escaped my eyes, and that is OKAY.  Because you see fellow mamas, as I crawled into my car to drive away..........God spoke to me once again,

"Tera, don't worry. He's MINE......they ALL are." ♥

Embraced in His Grace,

Friday, June 29, 2012

It Just Didn't "Sound" Right...

It is absolutely Amazing to me how God continues to teach and share His message simply by using the everyday things of this life.  Jesus often used parables during His time here on Earth to help the people understand. God continues to use our circumstances, situations, and simply "everyday" occurrences to do the same........

I received an email a few days ago from a friend. Her name was in the "Sender" line and my name was in the "Subject" line.  As I read the words leading to what was to be a "helpful link" providing information about job possibilities and a bright promising future, I stopped.  I didn't need to read further. 


Because I knew the words were not from my friend.  I knew they were not from her because it just didn't "sound" like her.  It didn't "sound right". I've spent time with this woman,  had conversations with her , this simply wasn't the way she spoke.  So I passed on the "link to happiness", chose the delete key instead, and within moments received an email from her explaining that indeed this message had not come from her, but that she had been hacked.

Ever feel like your mind, thoughts, and beliefs have been HACKED?  I have. My guess is that you have too.  The enemy works within this world to separate us from the truth. The truth that we are LOVED, ACCEPTED, AND EMBRACED by God the Father.  This truth allows us to hit DELETE.

.......Any of these hacked messages sound familiar?

"You're Not Good Enough" - - - - - DELETE
"You will Never be Able to Accomplish That"  - - - - -DELETE
"You Don't Look Right, You'll Never Fit In" - - - - -DELETE
"You're Such a Scaredy Cat, You'll Never Try That" - - - - -DELETE
"You'll Never be Loved, No One will Ever Want You" - - - - DELETE
"You're Weak." - - - - - - - DELETE
"It's Too Late for You" - - - - - DELETE

So, how do we know that such messages are NOT from God?
The more we spend time with the One who loves us beyond all measure, the more we understand His very character.  And as we grow and learn to understand Him, we are given the grace to make His promises, His message our own.

Friends~~~ Don't let the Enemy hack into your thoughts.  Don't follow the link that promises earthly Happiness & Prosperity.  Click delete.  They're not from God.   
Here is what IS:

And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love Him, to enable them to fulfill the purpose for which they are called. (Romans 8:28)

I can do all things through Christ, because he gives me strength. (Philippians 4:13)

I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
Marvelous are Your works,
And that my soul knows very well. (Psalm 139:14)

Remember that I commanded you to be strong and brave. Don't be afraid, because the Lord your God will be with you everywhere you go." (Joshua 1:9)

"God loved the world so much that he gave his one and only Son so that whoever believes in him may not be lost, but have eternal life" (John 3:16)
But those who trust in the Lord will find new strength.
    They will soar high on wings like eagles.
They will run and not grow weary.
    They will walk and not faint. (Isaiah 40:31)

For I am about to do something new.
    See, I have already begun! Do you not see it?
I will make a pathway through the wilderness.
    I will create rivers in the dry wasteland. (Isaiah 43:19)

This is who God is.  This is His Character.  This is His Word.† THIS is the Message worth Saving in the Inbox.

Because of His Grace,

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Yahweh & my Yogurt

One word.  Maury.

What comes to mind?  Let me venture a guess, may I?
" ______________, you are NOT the father"
or "_______________, you ARE the father"
These life-changing statements emphatically result in an explosion of emotions and tears, yelling and fighting, cursing and denials.
I know this to be true because it was the way I spent my noon hour for all too many years. ( come on now, no judging allowed!)

That is, until one day God spoke to my heart while I anxiously awaited the latest paternity results  - - "Why are you watching this Tera? Just because you CAN, doesn't mean you SHOULD"
in other words,

"Everything is permissible"--but not everything is beneficial. "Everything is permissible"--but not everything is constructive. ~ 1 Corinthians 10:23

God was right (imagine that).  Just because I "COULD" watch this nonsense, didn't mean I "SHOULD" watch this nonsense (my apologies Maury).  So, I decided right then and there that Mr. Povich and I needed to end our daily lunch date.  And I felt good about it. One small step of obedience.
What I learned however; is that simply keeping out the "bad", wasn't enough.

I start each day off with a yogurt. 

You see, yogurt has power-boosting protein and bone-building calcium. It can also help you lose weight and fend off a cold.  But perhaps the greatest benefit of yogurt is that it contains probiotics, "live and active cultures", beneficial bugs that live in your digestive tract and help crowd out harmful microorganisms that can cause intestinal infections. Now, before you cringe and think "Oooooo, yucky icky", hear me out.  When I decided  back in 2009 that it was time to change my way of eating, change my way of exercising (ok, START exercising ;) ),  I did my research.

Things to Avoid in Excess:  Milk Chocolate & Candy (booooo!), Potato Chips, Soda Pop, Pizza, Processed Food, and (gulp), Cinnamon Rolls & other Homemade Baked Delights, etc, etc....the list goes on.

 But we already know all of this, right?  I mean, c'mon, everyone knows that a breakfast loaded with sugary pastries, followed by a fast-food burger, fries, & milkshake lunch, and an evening supper composed of a  bucket of broasted chicken, mashed potatoes, and biscuits is not beneficial to our health (Gee, anyone else suddenly craving Poptarts & KFC?) ;)
What we DON'T always consider is that in addition to "keeping out the bad" (that which is permissible, but not beneficial), we must also "put in the good" (that which is constructive) in order for our physical body to achieve a healthy balance.   Yogurt puts the "good" back in, and that's why I enjoy a Yoplait Light as part of each morning.

The same is true of my morning time with Yahweh.  It's vital to my spiritual balance that each day begin by "putting in the good" through prayer & quality alone time with the Father.  Jesus did too.

                Early the next morning, while it was still dark,
                        Jesus woke and left the house.
               He went to a lonely place, where he prayed. - Mark 1:35 

It's important that I not only keep out the "bad", (negative thoughts, poor television choices, profanity-ladened music, jealousy, pride, unforgiveness, the list goes on......) but that I put in the "good"(reading the Word, prayer, thankfulness, love, joy, patience, mercy, the list goes on....) through the daily renewing of my mind, and that's why I savor the Savior as part of each morning.

Don't copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God's will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect. - Romans 12:2

How do YOU maintain a healthy physical & spiritual balance?  I'd love to hear from you, so I'm hosting my first blog *giveaway* ! Simply comment below and your name will be entered to win a copy of Sarah Young's Daily Devotional "Jesus Calling" along with a crisp $5.00 bill.   Why the $5.00?  *to pick up your own yogurt of course ;)

Sweet Blessings,

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Baby Shots.....Ouch!

If you're a Mama, you know what I'm talkin' about....Baby shots.  Awful, right?  We get ourSELVES so worked up before we even arrive at the clinic, that I'm not sure who should be more medicated, us....or the baby?  To make matters worse, we are also instructed to strip our innocent little one down to nothing more than his/her diaper....Now,  I'm not sure about you...but this caused some MAJOR distress in it's own right for all three of my angels...then came the dreaded Needle...
Look Familiar?

At this point in the dance, I'm not sure who's crying more.......the baby, the mama, or the nurse, or nurse(S) if you're like me and have a fighter on your hands...
But despite the pain, despite the tears (ours and theirs!), and despite the redness & swollen little limbs....we go back in a few months to do it all over again.
Because it is the best way to STRENGTHEN their Physical Immune Systems.  The best way to provide them with what they will need to fight off diseases and infections. 
Does it hurt?   Yes.
Does it require some extra love & patience?  Yes.
Does it help them in the long run?  Yes.

Our FAITH is our Spiritual Immune System.
It is often strengthened through the Shots we endure..........
The shot of a Lost Job..........Ouch.
The shot of a Loved One's Death.....Ouch.
The shot of a Sick Child.....Ouch.
The shot of Betrayal.......Ouch.
The shot of Addiction........Ouch.
The shot of a Broken Friendship......Ouch.
The shot of a Hurting Marriage........Ouch.
There are more.  Lots more.  The shots that pierce our spirit the same way the needles of immunizations pierce our flesh.

But take heart ♥
It is through these 'shots' that our faith has the opportunity to be STRENGTHENED. Preparing our Spiritual Bodies for future battles of this world, infections of the heart, diseases of the soul.
Will they hurt?  Yes.
Will they require some extra love & patience?  Yes.
Will they help us in the long run?  YES. YES. YES. 

And just as our babies scream "MAMA!" at the most painful, tearful moment,  we too can call out "ABBA!" , resting in the confidence that our Father hears our cry ~

I love the LORD, for he heard my voice;
   he heard my cry for mercy.
Because he turned his ear to me,
   I will call on him as long as I live.
  Return to your rest, my soul,
   for the LORD has been good to you.
 For you, LORD, have delivered me from death,
   my eyes from tears,
   my feet from stumbling,
 that I may walk before the LORD
   in the land of the living.          Psalm 116:1-2, 7-9

Strengthened Bodies ~ Strengthened Faith.  Thankful for the Shots that Save. †

Sweet Blessings my Friends,

The LORD will work out his plans for my life— for your faithful love, O LORD, endures forever....Psalm 138:8