Be An Encourager

” Therefore encourage one another and build each other up…” 1 Thessalonians 5:11

Most of the time, I am walking around thinking about how horrible of a Mom and Wife I am. I am always thinking about my failures and short comings and how my family deserves better and how hopefully, I have not ruined my children.

I don’t think much of myself. I never have really. I am not sure if that is because of the lack of affirmation and affection growing up in a family where that wasn’t practiced regularly or a feeling that had been developed and molded by a social circle that didn’t really appreciate peoples differences. Either way, lets just say I have never really felt that I measured up or was good enough.

This is not a pity party and I am NOT trying to get a whole bunch of you to tell me how great you think I am. I mean, you can if you want, but that is not the point of this post. I am telling you this so that you have a better understanding of who I am and the struggles I have.

The point is, there may be other like me. Or, maybe you’re not like me but you are having a day like me…

Yesterday, I ran into someone that I know and see from time to time. We were chatting and he says to me; “Yeah, my wife always talks about you and how you are a perfect example of how God can change someone’s life around.  You are a great Mother and…”

I interrupted him.

“What? Really? Thank you for that encouragement because that is not how I feel- at all.”

He paused.

“Well, you are.”

{Huh. Well that is interesting. You mean, your wife doesn’t think I am a terrible Mother too? Well that’s good!}

This brief conversation just made my day. Wow. Thank you for that!

 For me, it was a moment where I stopped to thank God that others could see how He is working in me, even when I can’t see him. And, I thanked Him for the encouragement because when I am stuck in this rut of thinking I am just THE WORST, He (God) shows me that He is still there for me even when I am not seeing him.

Now, this post you may not be able to relate to or understand because you don’t have a relationship with God like I do, but what you can relate to, is that EVERYONE needs some encouragement. The Bible says “A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a broken spirit dries up the bones.” (Prov 17:22). There is 100% someone out there today who could use some encouragement. There is someone who needs to hear that they are doing a good job and someone that needs to hear that their hard work is paying off and you appreciate it.

Whether it is the lady in the check-out line at the Grocery store, a teacher, a weary Mom at the park, your CHILDREN, your HUSBAND… whoever it is… you can be the medicine that their heart needs. YOU can be an encourager.

So, my challenge to you today is to encourage someone today. And tomorrow. Once a day try to think of a way that you can encourage someone and build them up. Joy is infectious, lets spread joy together!

“But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called today, so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness.” Hebrews 3:13



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My [Other] Boy

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I’m sorry, I know I have not written a lot about our experience with Anton, our German Exchange Student. There have been a lot of things I would love to have written about but I want to be respectful of his privacy and because we are bound by a contract. And, I don’t want to say anything that could get me in trouble! And, his Mom has Facebook. <Ha-Ha>

First, let me just say that I do not know how we are going to be able to say goodbye in a few short Months. It is going to be messy. And wet. I tear up when I think about it. I asked his Mom if we could keep him but she said “no”. Of course I understand, I thought maybe after being away from him for a while maybe she decided she didn’t like him anymore. Ha. Not possible. Everyone likes Anton. There is not much to not like (except maybe the grocery bill that comes with him but I guess that is normal with teenage boys (Lord help me)).

Anton, my dear, we love you. Thank you for all that you have taught us and thank you for allowing us the opportunity to teach you (if you can think of something that you didn’t already know…). We have really enjoyed seeing your dreams realized here in America. We are so proud of how hard you have worked in School and the effort you have put in to be a part of our family. As we have put up with your flaws and annoyances (haha), thank you for also putting up with ours. Our lives were very different when we first met but you quickly and easily became a part of our family. Can’t wait to experience more things with you these last four months (or years in case your Mom changes her mind…)!

 As I expected this opportunity has  opened my eyes to the world and I am so grateful for it. But, not only has it opened my eyes in a positive way, it has opened my eyes to the yucky stuff too. For example: I really enjoy my “comfort” (like, “No I can’t drive you to CrossFit, I’m busy doing nothing!” (this is an exaggerated statement, just giving you an idea of a possible thought). Also, I have learned that I really care about what others think of me. I used to confess that I really didn’t care what people thought of me but very quickly in Anton’s stay I realized how much I really wanted approval from others. Of course you want people to like you and think you are great (especially a stranger coming to live with you) but I was constantly thinking “I wonder what Anton thinks about this” or “what is Anton going to think about…” Normal right? it is normal except that this thought process was making me anxious and I began to base my worth and achievement on what this person thought about me and my family. The problem was that I was caring more about what this teenage boy was thinking about my skills or my habits or my attitude more than I was think about what God thought about them. He’s really the only one who can judge me and the only one who’s opinion really matters. His is the only standard I want to measure myself to.

Most of us already know how terrible our Food Industry is. If you don’t know, it is TERRIBLE! Do your research. Having someone here from Europe has made me even more aware of how terrible it is and why American’s in general are overweight and so unhealthy. Sure, it is convenient to have 100 Fast Food options within a 10 mile radius but is it really necessary? Sure, prepackaged food is convenient but is it worth the health risks? And, if something is ILLEAGAL to eat in Europe because of the ingredients, why is it okay for us to eat in the U.S.? IT IS NOT!

We are actually pretty healthy eaters so fortunately this was not a big “light bulb” moment for us, but it is sad that people aren’t properly educated on nutrition and just blindly eat whatever is available without realizing what they are doing. And just so you don’t think I am a hypocrite, I am not a self proclaimed Health Nut- I LOVE sugar and I am addicted. I also have prepackaged Goldfish in my closet.  However, I am educated and though choose to eat unhealthy sometimes, it is an educated decision.  ;0P

But for real, I love hate convenient American food. Moderation people.

After learning so much about other countries,  I really want to travel the world. Ugh. This really puts a damper on my future plans. My dream of moving to a nice farm house has gone down the drain. All I want now is to stay right where I am in Parkville so that I can use all of my money to travel the world. And well, first someone has to figure out a new way to travel that doesn’t include flying over large bodies of water. Or floating over large bodies of water…

See what happens when I don’t write for a while? I have an explosion of thoughts all over the computer full unorganized statements and topics.

It is the time of year where we have to make the decision whether or not we will again be Hosting an Exchange Student. Though I CAN NOT imagine sharing this experience with anyone other than Anton, after prayerfully considering we feel that it is something that we will be doing again. I’m in a very weird place. I know that this is what we should do, give another student the opportunity to live out their dream as an American Student in an American Family where we can teach them and love them and learn from them- i’m excited about it.  Having to pick another student while our student is still with us is very uncomfortable, and sad. How can I imagine starting a life with another child while the one we have now is still with us, and isn’t finished his life here, and we aren’t finished living life with him yet? We have to pick someone who we think best fits our family, and if we don’t do it now all of the kids will be gone, but I don’t want to, but I do. Anton fits our family. It’s hard, and sad. At the same time, how exciting to learn about someone new from somewhere new?

Lucy said it best when she said: “Can’t Anton just come back for another year”?

 Maybe one day I will write about all of the challenges, and specific stories and exciting moments. All of it has been amazing, even the hard stuff. This world, this life, it is so much bigger and more beautiful than you/we can imagine.

You should totally Host an Exchange Student. It’s amazing and challenging and enlightening. Totally rewarding. And challenging. Really amazing.


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Hello. It’s me! Janet, wife to Ryan. Mother to Lucy and Abram and a half Mother to a cool Exchange Student named Anton. Just thought I would leave a refresher since I’ve been missing and you probably have forgotten about me.

So, what’s been going on? I have been losing my mind over here. Not that things have been super stressful, or, maybe they have, I don’t remember. Every day just comes and goes.  I wake up looking forward to bed time. That sounds depressing reading it on paper. Eh, on screen. It’s not bad. I’m just busy and tired. Aren’t we all?

I thought things would be easier with Lucy in School full-time but, actually I am busier! I live by the schedule. And, I look back at my days and literally have no idea what I did. Well I do, but it doesn’t sound like much.

Topic change.

So, once I turned 30, everything started going down hill. If you haven’t turned 30 yet, get ready! If you have turned 30, you can relate. If you have turned 30 and nothing has happened to you… well, good for you. For example; pimples. I have never had so many pimples in my life. I never went through the weird teenage skin phase, and now, I am even more grateful that I didn’t. Another thing, my MEMORY! What?! I have always prided myself on my amazing recollection of unnecessary information and now, I literally can’t recall half of the things in my brain. Ugh. I hate it!! Lastly, (not really lastly, but just at the top of the 30 board) Pre-midlife crisis! What? Who am I? What is my purpose? What is my direction? Am I good at anything? Blah. Blah. Blah. Why?


Well, my little just woke up and I have to get ready to pick up my big.

Hopefully, I will have some more time to write in the near future. And, if you think about it, this Hyperthyroidism thing (hashtag 30) keeps me DoWn a lot during my free-time, so, if I am feeling better, I can write more. And, that would be awesome.

Love to all of you! Thanks for reading!





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Smoke Break

Do you know that new Carrie Underwood song called Smoke Break?

Well, here is why I need one.

Thursday I was told I have Hyperthyroidism.

Saturday my son broke his Collar Bone.

Today, I hit a parked car while trying to get my daughter to school.


Super sad about the Thyroid thing but happy that there is a reason behind how I have been feeling lately. I have been feeling so guilty because I feel like I have been sick for EVERRR without reason and can’t properly take care of my home and my family. Honestly, it does explain a lot but I am still sad that this is something I will have to deal with the rest of my life. Could be worse things I guess…

Uh, going to the Hospital with a three-year old is REALLY fun. I’d say the highlight of my day was when my son, while possessed, screamed “YOU ARE STUPID!” at me while three nurses were holding him down so they could get an X-ray. That was fun. It has also been really fun trying to get him to keep his sling on so that he can get better. Because, of course the sling is STUPID! Boy, I sure am glad that is the only “bad” word he knows.

And, well, Of course I would hit a car on the first day of a new week. It’s cool. I don’t already have 100 other appointments and obligations to deal with this week. And it isn’t embarrassing at all. Oh well. At least my Insurance Company is really helpful and the other guy was very kind and understanding. UGH! Women drivers.

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I Hate Kindergarten

It’s true.

Ever since Lucy started Kindergarten, she simultaneously became a grumpy, mean old Monster.

Now, I know that 90% of the reason is probably because she is tired and when Lucy is tired is shows up as rebellious attitude. And, I know she has to follow instructions all day long in school so probably it is hard to follow more instructions at home. Trying to keep all of that in mind I should probably consider adjusting my expectations of her when she gets home from School but there are just some things that can’t be adjusted and just need to be understood and accepted whether you want to obey or not. Especially having a joyful attitude with the people you have to interact with. Obviously I can’t make her be “joyful” but it is really hard to deal with the rudeness and unkindness in her attitude and actions.

I also hate Kindergarten because it has been revealing some of the sins that are in Lucy’s heart that I didn’t know were there before. Actually, this is a good thing but a sad thing at the same time. Good because now I know what her struggles are and I can help her but sad because you don’t want to see the ugliness that is in your children. For example, Lucy really cares what other people think about her. So much so that it affects what I am allowed to pack her for lunch and obviously what she wears to school. I know that this is normal, especially for girls, but I never realized how much of her life she spends worrying about what other people think. If she wasn’t in this environment or situation I would have never noticed. Maybe I would have eventually?

Noticing this in Lucy has given me a lot of opportunities to talk to her and to ask deep questions. It has also allowed me to pray more specifically for her and research ways to help her in this sin (or “state of mind”). It is upsetting though, you want your child to be confident in who they are, to be proud of how God made them (different and unique) and own their choices. I want her to be a leader, not a follower. Do you know what life looks like for a teenager who is a follower? Well I certainly do and that is not a life I want for my child. The only person I want her to follow is Jesus.

If I had known then what I know now, gosh, I wish I did not care half as much as I did about other people. I wish I always embraced my weirdness unique abilities. It is so freeing not caring what other people think about you.


There have been some good things about Kindergarten. I know there are probably a lot of good things that I haven’t been able to see yet. But right now, I’m distracted by the negatives because that is what effects our lives on a daily basis right now.

I know 100% that Lucy is where she is supposed to be and I have complete peace with sending her to public school vs. Homeschooling or Private School. It has just been a hard adjustment for all of us and in different ways than I had expected.

And don’t worry, Lucy isn’t the only one who doesn’t have it together. Where God has given me supernatural grace and patience these past few weeks, there has also been a lot of attitude problems on my end too. I am grateful that God has a plan for my children and though I play an incredibly important role in their lives, their future does not solely rest on my ability of being a perfect Mother. Normally I would beat myself up and feel guilty thinking “I am ruining them! I am a terrible Mother!” but Gods plan for them is already written and despite my failures, He does not fail. As long as I continue to trust the Lord and “Train up {my} child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it” (Prov 22:6), they will be alright! I am not perfect and can not be perfect. I want to be the perfect Mother but reality is that I am not. None of us are.

Grateful that we have a perfect Father in Heaven that we can call upon when we are in need. And are at wit’s end. And don’t know how your children will ever turn out right since you too are grumpy. And when none of the other girls wear blue shorts so she can’t possibly wear blue shorts.  And Like when your 5yo tells you that “you are THE WORST Mother in the WHOLE WORLD and I  wish I had a different nicer Mommy!”. #5goingon15


I blame it all on Kindergarten.

Don’t worry. I still love that grumpy mean old Monster and I am glad God gave her this WORST Mommy in the WHOLE WORLD to be her Mom.

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Kindergarten, Day 1

Lucy first dayToday marks the first day of the next 12 years.

I wouldn’t say it started off on a high note. Of course, on the only day she is not allowed to sleep in, she sleeps in and I have to wake her up for school.

Me: Lucy, good morning!

Lucy: I don’t want to wake up.

Me: Do you know what day it is?

Lucy: School Day.

Me: It’s Kindergarten Day!

Lucy: Kindergarten, here I DON’T come!

Despite the lack of excitement, as soon as she saw some of her school friends waiting to go into the building, she perked up and nearly walked through the door without saying “goodbye”. Luckily last minute she ran over and gave me a hug and a kiss.

And then I cried. Big ugly tears. I look to my right, most of the other Mom’s are crying too. I am glad it is normal.

After pick-up, the consensus is that Lucy likes school. Well thank goodness! <wink>


On a side note, I would just like to share another conversation I had today with my lovely 5yo.

Lucy: (while hand resting on my stomach) Mom, are you pregnant?

Me: No Lucy, I’m not pregnant.

Lucy: (rubbing my belly) I think you could be pregnant and just not know it yet.

Me: I’m not pregnant.

Well goodness. I know I have been off track for the past three weeks but goodness. I guess I can use that for a little motivation…


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The Big Year

On Monday, my first-born will be starting full day Kindergarten. Though she has been to Pre-school for the past two years, I am not sure how I am going to handle this since she has mainly been at home with me for the past five and a half years.

<insert ugly cry>

I am happy and sad at the same time. I am SUPER excited that she has the wonderful opportunity to go to school and experience so many new and fun things. I am sad that for the next 12ish years, I am not going to be her main influence anymore. I am not going to know everything that she is doing and I wont be able to take her on spontaneous weekday trips while the rest of the world is in school. I know that she will love it and I am certain this is the right thing for her, but it is just hard. Bittersweet.

Before this new adventure begins I wanted to document all of the amazing things that has happened to Lucy this past year (and what she is like). You don’t have to keep reading, I like to document these things for my own personal reference.


At age five, Lucy lost her first tooth! She learned how to blow her first bubble with Bubble Gum and snap her fingers. Lucy learned how to do a cartwheel and was in her first Fashion Show. For the first time Lucy expressed a desire to marry a certain little boy and went under water while holding her nose (this is a biggie since Lucy is afraid of the water and has no desire to swim).

Lucy has an attitude like a teenager and loves to bargain in order to get her way. She is so girly. So, so girly. Heels, make-up, lotion, clothes… I don’t know where she gets it. I think she has a future as a hairstylist because she can sit and do her dolls hair for hours. She loves to dance and loves practicing her gymnastics. Her number one desire right now is to own an American Girl Doll.

Sometimes Lucy loves her brother and sometimes, often, she doesn’t want him bothering her. It is sad as a parent to watch and listen to but the other moments are so sweet it kind of makes up for it. She is a good big sister and does take care of him, she would just rather he wouldn’t touch her stuff.


Lucy is counting down the days until she can be a Babysitter. She loves babies.

When I look at Lucy, she just doesn’t look like a little girl anymore (she does and she doesn’t). She is the most beautiful thing I have ever laid eyes on. I love every ounce of her (even when she is really getting on my nerves).

“Good luck” in Kindergarten Kiddo… I know it is going to be awesome!!


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