05
Sep
14

be-YOU-tiful

Ugh… why does everyone have to do what everyone else is doing?

If you don’t think that is the case then just look at your Facebook feed.  Everyone posts the same video, same RIP to so and so famous person, everyone’s back to school picture is the same… it is so boring. As a creative person I’d like to see a bit more variety in life.

I get my news from, well the news broadcasters so when so and so famous dies I heard it all ready. Why post a sad RIP to someone you didn’t know? Yes, death is sad and loss of life affects people but let the news stations be the ones to hash it out, who they were, why they died and so on… I mean they don’t report all the real news anyway so they need something to talk about. Leave Facebook to telling me what food you ate, type of workout you did, what cool things you learned, where you traveled to, how you lost it as a parent when your kid did whatever, funny things your kids said, and so on… that’s entertaining… the sad, depressing stuff the news will cover thoroughly for far too long anyway.

I love Pinterest, I Pinterest a lot! It can be inspirational and I have gotten a lot of great tips from many pins. But when taking pictures of your kids and family why not be YOU?! Do what says and looks like YOUR family, YOUR kids. Make it unique and funny. Don’t print off the same chalkboard printable or make your chalk board look like everyone else to snap a picture of your precious child. How is that different from the school pictures? Yeah, it’s cuter than a blue/gray backdrop but save the look a likes for the yearbook and standard school pictures. Make your child’s first day about them, make it look like they do on a daily basis. If they are sad summer is over why not snap a picture of them crying (or fake crying) holding their back pack or throwing it; or why not a picture of them in their swimsuit and a back pack because they are not ready for summer to be over?

After seeing the fun pictures of my brother and his wife sent out for Christmas my family has gotten away from the posed, matchy clothes, Olan Mills-ish family photos. We are so glad we ditched that idea about 5 years ago because they are just so boring and not too much different from the pictures from the 1800’s where no one smiled. Our favorite family pictures are crazy, goofy, funny ones that say ‘THIS IS THE SWARTZ FAMILY!’ Everyone we know has told us they cannot wait for our Christmas cards because they are so fun to get in the mail. Heck, the office at the kids school asks me every year if they are getting a card because they want to put our fun picture up on the office door. How cool is that?! We only do matchy stuff around here for Halloween because we dress up thematically because we will turn ourselves into a Star Wars movie, Marvel Superheroes, a band of scallywag pirates, a football team, etc…

BeYOUtiful! How many times have you seen that posted or heard some one quote it? Countless times…. So why not just be you? Do your thing. Make your own path. Make your own statement. Take the path less traveled. Be creative. Be unique. Have fun. Teach yourself and your kids to be different. To stand out from the crowd do not get lost in it. Variety is fun, exciting, makes the world interesting. Go be You and not worry that you are not like anyone else because that someone else is already taken. Make a mark and make your life memorable. It makes for great stories in the future when you sit around with your kids and their kids and talk about all the things you did as a family that wasn’t like anyone else’s. I do my best to make choices and do things that will create those kind of moments later. I want to make sure my kids feel more than comfortable about being different, not following the crowd and not feeling they need to do and say what everyone else is because that makes them blend in and not shine when they are interviewing for the job of their dreams or auditioning for something they love.

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22
Aug
14

STOP THE PRESSES!!!

Are you sitting down?

 
I read Interrupted in two days! Did you hear me?! TWO DAYS!!!

 
This is such big news, so shocking my sister (who is prego with baby #5) said “There is no need to name her baby because the rapture is sure to come any day now!”
Why all the excitement you ask?

 
Well, for starters I am not a reader. I don’t really enjoy it. It is labor some for me. There is a lot of re-reading passages, breaks are needed, my eyes get super tired, I fall asleep, and my comprehension is not so great. All of that combined equals no fun. In fact, counting Interrupted, I can now use both hands when counting up how many books I have completed. (We are not including Dr. Seuss, Mother Goose, or Goodnight Moon… I have read plenty of short children’s books to my kids)

 
Secondly, the fact that I finished it in such short, almost light speed of a time frame is also impressive. I have a stack of books I have started but have not completed. I’d rather read a magazine and by read I mean, skim through the pages and read the headlines and bold words and within 5 minutes I am done, unless there are some great pictures.
So, now you understand the shock and awe I created by reading the entire book in two days. And I did not sequester myself to get it done. I still lived life, cooked, baked, took kids to the pool, ran errands, napped etc…etc…etc…

 
Needless to say it was a good book. It spoke volumes to me. I loved it! I feel like it put words to the nagging feelings I have had. It helped explain what I feel is missing in my church experience. It spurred me to pray a prayer I needed to pray a long time ago. I took the plunge and prayed for God to make known to me what, where He wanted me. To confirm or dissolve thoughts and ideas I have had if they are not His. And to also confirm things with my family as to where we need to be and what we need to be doing.

 
So I wait, continue to seek Him, pray and wait….let the ride, journey begin.

21
Aug
14

Not afraid of change, just the changes that could be life altering

It’s been almost 3 years that I have not really enjoyed church. I’ve wanted more from church, I’ve wanted church to be more than a pep talk, sing a long rally, (that’s what it began to feel like to me). I wanted to see and feel church move to those that needed Jesus not those who already knew and loved Him.

 
I talked about this with anyone and to some people I talked about it all the time. My dear friend Thais said to me once “Bronwyn, you’ve been talking about this for 2 years, what are you going to do about it?” Family members would give me a funny face and say “You are still going there? I thought you wanted a change?”

 
I didn’t have the community I wanted in church, I tried and time and time again there was no reciprocation, there was rejection and I began to not care. I was just going to church because that is what we do as believers, because as a parent I need to model the importance of corporate worship and I was hoping my kids were not focusing on the fact that my heart was not in it. Internally, I wrestled with the Christian to do’s. I am a rule follower. It gives me structure, it measures performance and as perfectionist it gave me a standard. The honest truth is I have been known to follow the rules to the detriment to myself, others and my most important relationships. I was just hoping that in the doing church a spark would go off, I would feel refreshed and alive again spiritually. But as time went on I dreaded Sundays and it was hard to get out of bed. Other practices had long slipped away, devotionals, praying, reading the Bible. I became like a parked car hoping to move but never letting off the brake.

 
Let’s be honest, I am not a single person I have a husband and four kids who are affected by changing churches, doing something new..Etc….Etc… I didn’t feel it was up to me alone. But I wasn’t brave enough to pray “God, if this is your will work in their hearts too.” I just wanted it to happen. I am a preachers kid… before I got married I lived in a house where God spoke to my dad, worked on my mom’s heart and vice versa and we (myself and my siblings) tagged along. God wasn’t speaking to me and when it came time for a big family change. Quite frankly didn’t know what that really looked like and I did not really think it was my job to make those big changes or start something new. I assumed we all would wake up one day with the same feeling.

 
Yes, I have seen prayers answered. I have asked and received so many blessing from God. Jason and I have seen God move in our lives and answer prayer, comfort and heal us and so on in big and mighty ways. But this feeling I had brewing inside of me was bigger and different, it wasn’t something a quick bed time prayer would take care if. I felt the urgency to change in a big way, a change that profoundly changes you and how you go about life. But no real idea how to go about it and honestly, scared to do anything about it, so I did nothing.
I have an extremist type personality and I had a cock a mammy idea if I pray “Lord, change me; show me what I am feeling and why I am not satisfied with how we have done church and why this does scare me? I am yours have your way.” That we would be moved to the jungle and thrown into big time missionary work; so I stayed silent in my prayers, flowed through life day to day and went on and on about how much more I craved more from the church, spiritually….

 
This summer we started visiting new churches and I shared with some staff members why we were leaving. It went fine enough but as word has gotten around I feel they have missed the point, or don’t care. That is heartbreaking for many reasons…but I suppose when you feel like you did not have the connections with others, did not feel a part of the community on an intimate level and then it is affirmed by their responses then it is time to move on and what you felt has proven to be truth and that never feels good.

 
If I am to be fully honest as I think over the last few years, assess my feelings knowing how I am in my stubborn and selfish ways it just may be that my change, possibly my families change is more than what church we attend. I have had a longing for far more in my spiritual life for a long time. I have no idea what it is or what it looks like. I think I am afraid of that. I have ideas but not sure if they are of God but I feel I am to be more and do more for others. I have felt for sometime a change was coming. I want to chalk it up to an easier change like moving…it makes sense. This July marked 8 years in Austin and I have not lived anywhere for this long before. So my easy answer is let’s move, let’s start over, new church, new house, new school, new friends, no one knows us let’s start fresh. (of course, its not easy to move and I am not looking to change that either) But as I think on this in my gut I feel it is a deeper change, a more profound change something I cannot imagine. It may or may not involve moving but that part doesn’t even matter….

 
I love ministry, I enjoy serving people but I have not done that in awhile. I have been the girl who has gone through some hard emotional heartaches that made me deeply saddened and stay in my small little bubble where I wanted to be fed instead of feeding others…. I have this hole in my soul that I am unsure of what needs to fill it. I feel dry and heavy spiritually and I am standing at the doorstep knowing I need to walk through but reluctant to even knock.

 

So what do I do instead? I read this…

interrupted

 

I said to myself let’s see how Jen felt, dealt and so on when she felt the urgency for change. Good idea?! We will see. I am in 20 pages and you get this diarrhea of my brain and all the thoughts I have had for awhile but only shared with a few. I have underlined, starred and folded corners and shed tears reading today. I just can’t put it down, I don’t want to, I know her answers aren’t my answers and I still have to take my foot off the brake but maybe some bricks are coming down off my wall… I will probably still resist some things and tense up as I brace myself for the unknown… Will this bring me to my knees? I don’t know. I am stubborn, selfish and I fumble a lot. I seem to like the hard road and hold onto things for far too long. I need a new fresh breathe, a relearning of what I know. Being from a long line of Christians, with many preachers and missionaries in the family I may be all too familiar with the Bible and need fresh eyes but at the same time I may not know enough about the Bible.

 
And when I took a break from reading I picked up my Jesus Calling book and read this. I am drawn to these words, I love these words and I am scared that I feel that way right now. I do not know why I feel like they are talking so loud to me today but I keep reading them over and over… and I am nervous. I do not like adversity, I tend to act like an ostrich but yet I feel drawn to these words.

 
Expect to encounter adversity in your life, remembering that you live in a deeply fallen world. Stop trying to find a way that circumvents difficulties. The main problem with an easy life it that it masks your need for Me. When you became a Christian I infused My very Life into you, empowering you to live on a super natural plane by depending on Me.
Anticipate coming face to face with impossibilities: situations totally beyond your ability to handle. This awareness of your inadequacy is not something you should try to evade. It is precisely where I want you- the best place to encounter me in My Glory and Power. When you see armies of problems marching toward you, cry out to Me! Allow Me to fight for you. Watch Me working on your behalf, as you rest in the shadow of My Almighty presence. (Revelations 19:1. Psalm 91:1)

20
Aug
14

Summer Fun

As you could easily guess due to my lack of posting for a few months we have had a full and busy summer.

It started out with HOT camping the weekend school got out. We went with 3 other families and despite the heat it was fun, but we can cross off summer camping in TX and never do that again. I couldn’t sleep but not because of the heat but the cicadas. They are SOOO LOUD!!! The volume of them ALL night I just knew if I looked out of the tent then all I would see what cicadas in a plaque like amount.

hot camping

 

Then Mercie has Horsemanship camp. She was in love. She learned how to groom horses, clean stables, ride, feed and what a veterinarian does when giving a horse a check up.

horse camp

 

Next we were off for our family vacay to VA Beach with friends. It was a GREAT week. So much fun to hang out and catch up with so many good friends. We also got to spend the week with Bubbie, Callie and Penny.

The kids had fun in the surf, playing in the sand, swimming in the pool, hanging out with their friends, body boarding, and parasailing. Mercie chose to parasail next summer. The 3 other kiddos and I parasailed and it was fun. terrifying for me and the video shows just how scared I was. However, I am glad I did it and showed the kids I wouldn’t let fear paralyze me and we have great memories together.

pre para sailing

 

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

We were home from VA only 3 days before heading to Dallas for July 4th. The kids had their usual fashion show from Aunt Deb’s closet.

IMG_4874

Then J and I got a break as mom and dad took the kids for a week. They drove them back to ATX and Bubbie, Callie and Penny came with them. Taylor and I had great birthdays surrounded by family.

All of the kids have had camps in between our travels. Taylor and Joshua had basketball camp, Hannah had art camp and they also did VBS and Super Week.

Just a couple days of summer left and we are taking it easy. The older girls went to Abilene to hang out with grandma. I think J and I planned some fun things with just the 2 younger ones. It has been fun to have just them.

Well, on Monday we will have a 1st grader, 3rd grader, 6th grader and an 8th grader! Oh my! We are almost high school parents.

08
Aug
14

NJHS

So proud of our girl. Taylor was inducted into the National Junior Honors society in May. We could not be happier and she was thrilled.

My goodness, look how grown up she is… where does the time go?!

 

NJHS

njhs1

11
Jun
14

life is about people and experiences not what we have or how much we can accumulate

Every summer Jason and I choose books for our kids to read. These books are HAVE TO’s. They can read other things as well but by summer’s end the books we choose are checked off as read and they always come with a form of payment to each child. (We believe school is their job and everyone should be paid for a job well done)

I am not nor was I ever a big reader. I only read books because I had to for school; most of the time I skimmed the chapters, highlighted the cliff notes and got the summary from my older sister who read everything. I don’t enjoy reading like most do… it is not an activity I choose with excitement. I would rather grab a magazine and flip through the pages. My eyes get tired very quickly, I am a slow reader and I usually require a nap afterwards because I cannot keep my eyes open due to the extreme tiredness. But in order to hopefully get my children excited about reading, learn to love  it and not dread it I read a book during our family reading time. Lead by example, right?!

ETR BookWell this summer I am reading Everything That Remains: A Memoir by the Minimalists by Joshua Fields Millburn & Ryan Nicodemus.

A blog post my brother posted on Facebook about it got me intrigued. Two years ago I read 7: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess, by Jen Hatmaker and LOVED it. It made me laugh, cry and write pages and pages of thoughts. In fact, I plan to read it again. You should read it as well and grab a copy of Everything That Remains while you are at it.

7: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess

“7 is the true story of how Jen (along with her husband and her children to varying degrees) took seven months, identified seven areas of excess, and made seven simple choices to fight back against the modern-day diseases of greed, materialism, and overindulgence.”

Everything That Remains

“What if everything you ever wanted isn’t what you actually want? Twenty-something, suit-clad, and upwardly mobile, Joshua Fields Millburn thought he had everything anyone could ever want. Until he didn’t anymore. Blindsided by the loss of his mother and his marriage in the same month, Millburn started questioning every aspect of the life he had built for himself. Then, he accidentally discovered a lifestyle known as minimalism…and everything started to change.”

Minimalism is intriguing to me… Could I do it? How hard is it to start? I like my stuff but do I REALLY NEED this stuff?

Since Mercie was born I have done a fairly good job in minimizing our activities. For 3 years our kids were not in any activities. If it did not happen at school or church they did not do it. That was freeing! The busy afternoons to the nights of rushing around, grabbing quick dinners or cramming something down our pie holes so fast we cannot talk about our day was getting old, tiresome and I did not miss those nights when we cancelled all activities. In fact, it was hard signing the kids up for something or starting school sports. I did not want to be in the rush of life again. I enjoyed slow evenings at home, family dinners, not having a plan and doing things because we had the time and did not have commitments.

I still don’t’ like having days that are planned, I mean there is a plan but it is nothing that is a have to for the most part. I found things popped up that we can do when there is no hard set plan that are more meaningful that sports, dance, clubs or events.

The kids have activities now but only 1 per child and each do not require more than 1 day a week. Most are school activities so the family doesn’t feel a burden of rushing here and there and everywhere….

But when it comes to our stuff and storage I often look around and wonder if I can do the same….rid our life of some of the burdens stuff can bring. Burdens of cleaning, storing, worrying about, etc…etc…etc…I know there is a lot I can be free of but there is also a lot that will stay with me… for many reasons. I am sentimental about some things and I want tangible things to be passed down on our family as reminders, memories of a life once lived. I love memory books and slowly flipping through pages of pictures and memorabilia of things we once did, enjoyed and seeing my kids as they were each passing year. In fact, our hall bathroom is brimming with our life’s travels and experiences. It is one of my favorite rooms.

However, I am well aware of my hoarding so to speak of things I like. Dishes being one example; I love variety and making every special dinner or party different and dishes and serving pieces can be a quick change and be festive. I have enough dishes to host a good-sized wedding reception. But then there are other things I hold onto as if I am trying to hold onto a piece of the past as if the memory will disappear if I get rid of that item. Yet, clutter, mess and disorganization drive me crazy. I limit how often I go into my kid’s room that can cause me to become very anxious and may hyperventilate due to the stuff everywhere look they have going on. I do have areas where, if you saw, you would not think I am an organized person. Usually those places are areas that I need to overhaul in how I store or organize the contents. All of which require a block of uninterrupted time and when school is in session I don’t always have that so I wait till summer. The kids sleep in and there is less running around. Plus, if they don’t see mom purging, cleaning, and organizing then how will they learn.

As Joshua states in the book minimalism looks different for everyone and we all have different degrees and reasons for why we own what we do and how much….So maybe this summer I work on purging more than my normal amount; because life is about people and experiences not what we have or how much we can accumulate. Let’s stop trying to impress the Joneses… who are they anyway?!

22
May
14

Why yes, things happen at the speed of light!

Since September I Have volunteered and worked in Joshua’s 2nd grade class for 2 hours a week. It has been fun and very insightful, however, those precious 7 and 8 year olds like to tell you how it is in very blunt terms. Which is fine, I tend to lack compassion and tact at times as well. But, after several kids asked me several times if I had lost a tooth (when I hadn’t) I started to get a bit self-conscious.

But first a little back story.

I am a clincher. I break and chew through custom-made, acrylic mouth guards on a regular basis. I have TMJ issues daily. I also have a jaw of an 80-year-old person and will need jaw joint replacements in the future. Oh joy!

IMG_9681 (2)Over time my top teeth have shifted forward and one tooth has moved somewhat behind one of my front teeth. In some pictures of me when the angle and my lip placement are just right it does appear I have lost a tooth and have a black hole. In the picture to the left you can see how one tooth is behind the other. It has not always been this way. 10 years ago it wasn’t. (Man, my face was a bit chubby 2 years ago)

Due to all of the issues I have listed above I cannot do Invisalign. In fact there was concern we have to move my jaw, do steroid injections and jaw therapy…. So I started the discussions with dentist and orthodontist and my oral surgeon was involved as to what we do…. it has been 2 weeks and everyone finally has a plan. Although the plan went from much further evals, more conferences between oral surgeon and orthodontist as of yesterday but today I got top braces.

WOW! My head is still spinning.

It had to happen so fast due to some benefits and expiration and needing to get the treatment started ASAP. I will still need surgery down the road but fixing my bite, aligning my midline will improve my daily jaw pain and issues from it, all of which I want more than straight teeth even though a bit of vanity sent me in to see what we could do about straightening my teeth.

I am not all to thrilled about braces… I am sure Taylor is gonna love it when she gets home and sees me…there may be a bit of enjoyment on her part because I have told her when she complains about discomfort from her braces that her perfect teeth and improved smile is so worth it and to be thankful we can provide her with proper care. I am sure I am in for it… but of course I will smile at here and enjoy my ice cream for dinner tonight while she eats a proper, well-balanced meal. :)

And here’s my metal mouth, well at least half of it. We are going to add the bottom braces later.

braces

 




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