Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Strange Times

These are strange times.  I'm not reading as much.  Well I guess I am.  Mostly Mother Teresa.  Mother Teresa will mess with you.  She will take the "West" right out of you.  She gets right down to business telling you what's important, and what isn't.  And when I read it I believe it.

She makes me want to live in my 1100 square foot house forever.  What's the point in chasing a bigger house when there are people all over the world hungry, dying, suffering from atrocious diseases completely cut off from society; unwanted, unloved?

I put Mother Teresa down and I'm immediately confronted with Christmas.  With the 20 people I need to buy gifts for.  I'm face to face with my own greed and I think about the $200 boots I want.  Oh Lord help me.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

No such thing as normal

I was talking with a dear friend last night.  She was telling about life and it's happenings and she said, "What's wrong with my family?  Why can't we just be normal?"

I laughed and said, "There's no such thing as normal and there's no such thing as a perfect family."

Do you know why there's no such thing as a perfect family?  Because families are made up of people.  Selfish, flawed, imperfect people.  All of whom live in a world full of sin and in need of the grace of God every second of every day.

As for normal, who really wants to be normal?  Dictionary.com defines normal as "conforming to the standard or the common type; usual; regular".  Oh ick!!  Who wants to be any of those?  God is creative!!  Every single person completely unique.  What a boring life this would be if we were all "normal" and the same.


Sunday, October 7, 2012

Evening at the Playground



Setting sun
Barely breeze
Long shadows
Days like these

Air is fresh
Air is warm
Peace surrounds
Smiles form

Daughters playing
laughing, climbing
Living in His perfect timing

Friday, October 5, 2012

Shout out to all the working Moms

Being a mom is a full time job.  I know, I am one.  And today I am emotionally and physically spent.  And that's with 2 of my kids being in school 6 and a half hours today.

I started thinking of all the Moms who work.  Part-time, full-time, at home, or commuting.  Here's my shout out to you.

YOU ARE THE BOMB!

You work hard at your job and give your best to your company.  You come home and work even harder and give your best to your family.

You're an essential part of the team at work.  They need you.  You are the glue that holds your family together.  They NEED you.

You are a cheerleader and encourager to your co-workers.  You are THE cheerleader and encourager for your family.

You're the manager, the accountant, the disciplinarian, the shoulder to cry on, the counselor, the chef, the housekeeper, the errand runner, and the list could go on.

I just wanted you to know I was thinking about you.  And I think you're pretty amazing.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

The Estate Sale

I went to an Estate Sale across the street from my house today.  I live on a street where everyone is separated by acres of land.  Not many acres, but acres nonetheless.  So I do not know the people that live there at all.

My first thought when I walked in, "Holy Crap!"  I mean seriously, stuff everywhere.  It wasn't crap, but it was stuff... a lot of it.  I couldn't believe the wide variety of things they had.  And not just one of something, like three or four of everything.

Old flour sifters, cast iron skillets, cow decor, St. Patrick's Day decor, flare buttons, jewelry, wall art, hunting knives, pocket watches, and so much more.

Why?  Why so much?  Why aren't we satisfied with just one of something?

I looked at the jewelry.  Some of the rings were beautiful!  And I thought about how at one point in time that ring was special and meant a great deal to someone.  And maybe it was given in some fantastic way, and she blushed and gushed and was so excited.  And now it's sitting in a box next to a bunch of Christmas jewelry and clip-on earrings.

All this stuff that somebody spent good money on, and took time to acquire.  And now it's left for strangers to paw through and take home to their already full houses.

I'm not knocking estate sales or garage sales or any type of sales.  I think it's great when we can reuse and re purpose.  But I don't thing that's what usually happens.  I think there's an addiction to more and buying and getting a deal, even if it's on something we don't need.

It made me want to go home and clear out my house.  Get rid of stuff that isn't used.  Stop buying stuff. Use what I have.  It made me think when I die I don't want to have a house full of stuff to become a burden to my kids.


Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Love your neighbor as yourself

Today I heard a woman say that same-sex marriage will destroy the marriage as a whole.  That it will cause the whole institution to deteriorate.

Why doesn't anyone say anything like this about infidelity?  Most of the marriages I've seen end in divorce have had an affair involved at some point.

You can't point the finger at one thing and say, "THAT is what's causing marriage to go downhill."  I don't know if this lady is a Christian, but it seems like whenever I hear about a group opposing same-sex marriage they are affiliated with Christians.

Christians associate themselves with Jesus and this is what Jesus says, "Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother's eye an pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, 'Let me take the speck out of your eye,' when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother's eye." -Matthew 7:3-5

I've never heard a testimony of someone coming to Jesus because someone said, "You're doing it wrong!"  But I've heard many testimonies about people being loved just the way they are and deciding, "I want that too!"

If we want to see change in our culture and strengthen marriages we need to take our cue from Jesus:

Jesus replied: "'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.' This is the first and greatest commandment.  And the second is like it: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.' All the law and prophets hang on these two commandments." -Matthew 22:37-40


Love.


Friday, September 28, 2012

Stand still!

Today I had lunch at Costco with this little lady.


A tiny little pink croc-wearing 4 year-old.  She's funny and cute and and calls me mama and holds my hand.

While we were eating, a bunch of teenagers started filing in for lunch.  I watched them joke with each other, hold their boyfriends hands, look at other groups of teenagers and whisper.  I looked back at my cute little stripey girl eating her hot dog like a "Beaver" and thought "TIME, STAND STILL!!"  Don't let her get that old.  Don't let her have a boyfriend and don't let her be old enough to go to Costco by herself to have lunch.  Let her stay 4.

Then I said to her, "Viv, can you just stay 4?"  To which she replied, "I will be 4 forever... until my birthday next year."

Thursday, September 27, 2012

A Real-Life Conversation with a 9 Year-old


Jackson: Don't you ever wish you had less kids?

Me: No, not at all.  Why?

Jackson: Because aren't we kind of annoying sometimes?

Me: Yes, but everyone is annoying sometimes.  Don't you think I'm annoying sometimes?

Jackson: VERY!!


Don't ask a question you don't want to know the answer to.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

A Real-Life Conversation with a 4 Year-old


Viv: Mom, you know all the people who don't have houses?

Me: You mean homeless people?

Viv: Ya! I know what they could do. They could build houses.

Me: That's a good idea. But they don't have money to do that.  That's why they don't have a house

Viv: Well, how about tents? They could get tents.

Me: Where would they put their tents?

Viv: On grass.

Me: That's a great idea! What else can you think of to help.

Viv: Remember the guy at Shari's that we gave our sleeping bag to?

Me: Yes.

Viv: We should really get another sleeping bag because I want to sleep in one.


If I thought like a 4 year-old the world would be a better place.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Listen

I encountered God in a whole new way this weekend at the SHE Adventure.  By listening.  It's counter intuitive.  It requires being still.  Not just still in the body, still in the mind.  And getting the mind to be quiet and still is hard!

I had a woman approach me and say, "God has something to say to me and He told me He's going to speak it through you."  I have never had something like this happen.  My heart was pounding out of control!  I was scared to death!  What if I couldn't hear?  What if I said the wrong thing?


"This is what we have to learn right from the beginning: to listen to the voice of God in our heart, and then in the silence of the heart God speaks. Then from the fullness of our hearts, our mouth will have to speak. That is the connection. In the silence of the heart, God speaks and you have to listen. Then in the fullness of your heart, because it is full of God, full of love, full of compassion, full of faith, your mouth will speak." -Mother Teresa


This is what I had been reading the night before.  God was preparing me.  In fact, this is what I heard Him say in some quiet time right before the service where this woman came up to me.

"Be quick to listen and slow to speak.  Listen for what the Lord is telling you."


I listened, He spoke.

Slow down. Listen.


Thursday, August 9, 2012

Readers are Leaders

I was not a big reader growing up. My best friend growing up Brooke (when I wrote her name just now I wrote "book" instead of Brooke.  How appropriate) loved to read.  She read so much that we would sometimes hide her books from her.

I wish my love of reading started back then.  I think of all the free time I had as a kid.  All the times I said, "I'm bored" and I could have been reading.  Now when I read there's a guilty feeling I'm neglecting other things, and I usually am.

I'm not sure how the love of reading is born.  Maybe it's different for everyone.  Here is an excerpt from an essay by Dr. Benjamin Carson, director of pediatric neurosurgery at the Johns Hopkins Children's Center

"My mother was a domestic.  Through her work, she observed that successful people spent a lot more time reading than they did watching television.  She announced that my brother and I could only watch two to three preselected TV programs during the week.  With our free time, we had to read two books each from the Detroit Public Library and submit to her written book reports.  She would mark them up with check marks and highlights.  Years later we realized her marks were a ruse.  My mother was illiterate; she had only received a third-grade education.
Although we had no money, between the covers of those books I could go anywhere, do anything, and be anybody."

How clever this woman was!  Maybe it starts with discipline and it turns into love.  That's how it started for me.  A few years ago a friend was telling me about the many books she was reading.  I asked how she had time.  She said she read instead of watching TV at night.  I tried it.  Slowly but surely my desire for books grew.  I'm pretty sure I even prayed for the Lord's help to want to read.  

I wonder if I could do this with my kids?  Restrict the TV, video games and computer.  And grow a love of reading in my home.

Do you like to read?

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

I'm running away

Today all 3 of my kids ran away from home.  While I was in the shower my son said through the door, "Lola's running away and I'm going with her to make sure she's safe".  "How cute" I thought.  See, Lola has been saying she's going to run away for the past week or so.  Every time she gets mad about something she gives me the "I'm running away" line.  So naturally I didn't really think they were running away when Jackson said what he said.

A few minutes after getting out of the shower I noticed how quiet it was.  I started looking around.  And a minute later Vivien ran in saying she needed a band aid for her toe.  I asked her where she was when she hurt her toe.  "On the road" she told me.  At this point I realized my kids were in fact walking down our road... running away from home.

We walked down our driveway, at the bottom of which I found a little pair of undies. A clue.  We walked about a quarter of a mile when we finally caught up with them, wagon packed with stuffed animals and crackers.

I wasn't sure how I felt.  I wasn't scared for some reason.  I just don't scare easily when it comes to my kids.  I always feel like they're going to be OK.  Honestly I was a little proud of their confidence.  However, I was frustrated, exasperated and angry at the same time.

A few hours later while sitting at a memorial service when I heard the "Still Small Voice" say, "How many times have you run away from home?"  Oh how true it is!!  I am constantly running away from my Heavenly Father.  He asks me to do something, I ignore Him.  He tells me to turn left, I go right.  Something goes wrong, I blame Him.  I scream, I cry, I yell "I'm running away!!"

A quote from my journal, "Sometimes I want to run really fast and really far" -July 19, 2012

So I tell my kids all of this.  I share my heart and I extend grace and I thank the Lord for His grace.  No matter how many times I run, He always welcomes me back with open arms

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Enjoy

Today I had a wiser older woman say to me, "Enjoy your kids".  The way she said it and the way she looked at me pierced through right to the core.  She is a smart and wonderful woman and I felt like she was looking right through me and knew that I was most definitely not enjoying them at this particular time.

It seems like no matter how many times I hear things like this, it just doesn't stick.  I really try to enjoy them and live in the now.  But then I get selfish and life happens and then blah.  I wish "Future Brianna" could visit me and say something to make me understand.

For now it's 9:00 and kids keep getting out of bed.  And I'm trying to enjoy them while they test my patience.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Treats?

Sometimes I give my kids treats.  When I give my kids treats I sometimes set unrealistic expectations that the rest of the entire day (or perhaps my entire life) should go smoothly.  They should act perfectly, never fighting, never talking back.  They should practically raise themselves, but make me look good while they're doing it.  I know it's wrong, but still I allow my mind to go here.

Maybe I still have vacation brain.  Maybe I just need a good hard slap across the face to snap me out of it.  Maybe I'm just lazy and don't want to face the cold hard facts: raising great human beings is hard work.  It involves sweat, tears, and a good of sense of humor.

It may be time to lay off the "treats" for a while.  They don't seem to be treating anyone well lately.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Alone and loving it

I am sitting in my house, by myself, drinking coffee, listening to birds, feeling the breeze and smiling really big.  A while back I would have felt incredibly guilty for enjoying this so much.

I have been a mom for almost 9 years.  Time alone is scarce when you're a mom, unless you're willing to get up at 5 a.m. or stay up until midnight.  But even then the "Mom hat" is on.  Always ready to come to the rescue of a little person.

Today I know the kids are safe with grandparents and for 6 days I can take off my "Mom hat".  I will read books and take walks and just sit without the slightest bit of guilt.  Because I learned in Vivien's Sunday school class this weekend that on the 7th day God rested.  And even thought sometimes it doesn't feel like I'm really working, I am.

Amen and Amen.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Enjoying your kids when you're at the end of your rope

Sometimes I don't enjoy my kids.  There, I said it.  It's the truth.  And I'm sure they don't enjoy me all the time either.  In fact, I know they don't... they tell me straight up.  So I was thinking about what I do when I'm at the end of my rope to enjoy my kids.

1. Get away from them: Absence makes the heart grow fonder.  I have found this to be very true.  Time away from each other does all of us a lot of good.  Even if it's just for an hour or two.  Just a little time to check out and take off my "Mom hat".

2. Go outside:  Getting outdoors can make a world of difference.  It's easy for me to get uptight when we're cooped up in the house, especially when little people are jumping, squealing, screaming, running, etc... But outside the same things seem to just roll right off my back.  The change of scenery, fresh air, and just being out of your usual 4 walls.  Go for a walk, lay in the grass, play tag, or just sit.

3. Turn up YOUR favorite music and dance: Big time emphasis on YOUR favorite music.  I've listened to my fair share of kiddo music.  I love for my kids to hear the music I love.  And singing and dancing loosens everyone up.

4. Pillow Fight!: I came up with this one on a particularly frustrating day and was pleasantly surprised by how fun it was.  And don't think this is just for older kids.  I'm pretty sure my 2 oldest kids were 2 and 4 when this came about.  It's just awesome to throw your pillow around at each other and occasionally knock someone over.  Pretty soon the stress is gone and everyone is laughing.

5. Audio books:  Audio books are the BOMB.  Go to the library, pick out your favorite, and pop it in the CD player.  Go for a drive and listen to it.  It's magical and I find myself listening and enjoying just as much as they are.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Running

Today I was at my Mom-in-law's house and I thought I heard my phone ringing at the other end of the house.  I literally started to run so I could catch the call in time.  Not because I was expecting an important call or anything, just because God forbid I miss a call.  Mid-run I thought to myself, "Why am I running?  What other things have me running unnecessarily?"

I'm quick when I hear my phone ring, but slow when I hear "Mom look at me!"

I'm quick to check Facebook every 5 minutes, but slow to spend even 5 minutes with Jesus.

I'm quick to pick up a donut, but slow to pick up a carrot.

I'm quick to sit on the couch, but slow to hop on my bike.

I'm quick to get angry, but slow to extend patience.

I'm quick to speak, but slow to listen.

I'm quick to feel guilty, but slow to accept grace.

It doesn't take a genius to figure out that whatever you're running towards is where you're going to end up.  And if I'm running quickly, I'm bound to get there faster.  I'm going in the wrong direction and I'm looking for the off ramp.

"Let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles.  And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of our faith."
                                        -Hebrews 12:1-2


"Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one get the prize?  Run in such a way as to get the prize."
                                          -1 Corinthians 9:24


Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Routine Spontaneous

One of the things I dislike most in life is routine.  This is funny, because most of my best friends are type-A personality.  The people who love routine.  Opposites attract.  I need them, they need me.

I love spontaneity!  I think that's one of the things that social-media takes out of the world... spontaneity.  When I was in high school one of the funnest things to do on a Friday or Saturday night, or any night for that matter, was to drive down Pearl street or the water front.  You never knew who you were going to run into.  It was a mystery and fun.  And if you did happen to run into someone, it was exactly that, running into someone.  Filled with surprise and your heart had a chance to beat really fast and be excited at the unknown.

Now days I can see someone at my 10 year high school reunion and they say, "Oh, we already know everything that's going on with each other from Facebook.", and then they walk off.  That really happened.  And while it was true, we did know a lot about each other's lives, we hadn't seen each other face to face in 10 years.

I love taking breaks from Facebook and then seeing friends and having them tell me about something going on in their lives.  And I can be genuinely surprised or sad or happy with them because I haven't already read their story on Facebook.

ROUTINE: Regular, unvarying, habitual, unimaginative, or rote procedure


SPONTANEOUS: Natural and unconstrained; growing naturally; independent of external agencies; self-acting






Monday, July 2, 2012

Plagiarizing

There's a problem with reading a lot of good non-fiction books.  I get so engrossed in the story.  These people's lives seem so amazing and dreamy and adventurous.  I start to think, "Maybe my life should look like that."  Here is where the problem lies.

I start resisting my dimensions and long for someone else's.  This simply does not work.  I wasn't made to fit their dimensions.  I was made to fit mine.  Soon chaos surrounds me.  Chaos I've created because I've resisted my place.

Reading other people's stories is wonderful.  So much can be learned and stored and applied.  But if it causes me to plagiarize or just stop writing my own story all together...

I am not the president of World Vision.  I am not a funny woman from Texas fighting excess.  I am not a young 20-something girl living in Uganda.  I am not a physician/activist living in a twelve by twelve in North Carolina.

I'm me.  I like reading and riding bikes.  I love laughing, especially with my husband.  I'm starting to enjoy cooking.  I like taking walks and listening to music and talking about God.  I have an infinite amount of areas that need improvement.  Like being fully present and giving my full attention to the people I'm with.  Sometimes I'm judgmental and sometimes I yell.

To be continued..

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Bare foot for water

The kids and I just went for a walk down our road.  A few minutes into it I said, "Let's pretend that we are walking to get water for our family.  So many people today will really have to do this."  They were game and we kept walking.  A minute later I said, "Ya know, most of the people who have to walk for water have to walk barefoot.  Let's take our shoes off so we can really try to feel what it would be like."  They loved this idea!  So we all took our shoes off and headed to our destination.

The first thing I thought is, "Man am I a wimp!"  Rocks poked into my feet and I had to walk slow and I'm sure I looked extremely silly.  We probably only walked about half a mile there and back.  Not far at all.  When we did reach our house I was so happy to to step onto the nice soft grass.  Let's also keep in perspective that neither me or my kids actually had to carry any water.

 This wasn't anything big or special, just an attempt to teach lessons in the midst of everyday life.  To keep in perspective that we live in a BIG world.



If you want to read a real story about an amazing woman walking for water visit this link:

www.charitywater.org/projects/fromthefield/uganda.php

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

How do you start the day?

Facebook has the incredible knack of giving me a feeling of failure sometimes.  I blame Facebook, but really it's in my own mind.  I see what people are up to and start to compare myself to them, leaving me feeling inferior and boring.

This is the problem with looking at Facebook first thing in the morning.  Does anyone else struggle with this?  It's a total addiction, second nature.  It's so easy to roll over, unlock my iPod, and click the FB icon.  Instantly I'm connected, but not really connected all at the same time.  And definitely not connected to my real life-giving source.

Now contrast this with waking up and opening up God's Word.  I am instantly connected with truth, with my lifeline.  The only lifeline that really matters.  I read Luke 15:21-24,


"The son said to him, 'Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you.  I am no longer worthy to be called your son.'  But the Father said to his servants, 'Quick!  Bring the best robe and put it on him.  Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet.  Bring the fattened calf and kill it.  Let's have a feast and celebrate.  For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.'  So they began to celebrate."


And not only does this truth meet me in my Bible.  I open my e-mail and my daily devotional from Proverbs 31 has the exact same Words and truth.  And it says, "When you come to Jesus, or when you allow him to walk through the doors of your heart, no pleading or striving is necessary, only faith that his salvation and grace are your gifts.... He is watching, willing, and waiting to receive you."

God is so Awesome and all-knowing.  He knew that Luke 15 was going to be my reading today, and that the very same verse would be waiting in my e-mail.  He knew that I needed that today to combat those feelings of frustration and the mental battle going on inside of me.  

So how do you start the day?  Looking at others or looking at truth? 

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Fun day.  Planted mint, jumped on the trampoline with the kids (not sure this is a good idea after having 3 kids, considering I need to get off every 5 minutes to go pee), talked with neighbors, made s'mores.  I feel a bit guilty for having such a fun and simple day, knowing that there are so many who are hurting.  So many going without.  Do you think there is a balance to be found in enjoying what you have, while at the same time remembering and actively helping those who have great need?  Perhaps it's found through gratefulness and generosity.

I'm finding that I'm enjoying my kids so much more now that I am making a very intentional effort to teach them to contribute and take responsibility.  This summer they are taking turns making and serving lunch.  It's fun to see them take pride and ownership of it.  I'm hoping for some positive changes over summer break.  So far so good.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

I cannot say that this week of the "Stess/Prayer" challenge was filled with long periods of in depth intentional prayer and kicking up my feet for times of rest.  I can say that I had ample opportunity to call on the Lord for His guidance and His peace.  And when I called, He answered.  

I had the opportunity to drive a wonderful friend to doctor's appointment.  After we got back to her house we were blessed with an incredible and unexpected time of prayer.  It was real and candid and I could feel the Holy Spirit in that place. AWESOME!

On Tuesday afternoon I found myself driving my husband to the ER due to shortness of breath.  While there he had an abnormal EKG.  We had an opportunity to stress out or call on the Lord's peace.  God provided amazing peace and we were blessed to go home that night, with Matt being completely healthy.  

The week did not turn out like I thought it would.  I found myself in quite a few situations where I had to choose between worry or trust.  Where I could choose frustration because things weren't going my way, or choose to believe that God truly does have all my days ordained.

I've got a lot of work to do.  This challenge is going to take longer than a week... longer than a month.  Probably my whole life.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

It's mine... MINE! MINE! MINE!

It's been a few days since I've posted about the "stress/prayer" challenge.  There's a reason for that.  I've been failing miserably.  My alarm goes off to get up early... I hit snooze.  When I finally do get up I try to read and pray, but I am easily distracted.  My alarms go off during the day to tell me it's time to stop and pray, but it always seems to happen when I'm right in the middle of something. (Imagine that).   

I'm realizing the root of the problem.  I am selfish!  I should go to bed early so I can get up early.  But when the time comes I think, "But this is MY time.  I haven't had any ME time all day."  When the alarms go off to pray I think, "I can't stop what I'm doing now.  I'm right in the middle of it."  Because making dinner or sending an e-mail is so much more important than stopping to pray for people who don't have a Father or for mother's around the world who are desperate to provide for their children.  Gag me!  

My time does not really belong to me.  It is a gift that I get every day.  It's my job to look to God to know how to use it.  Lord help me!

"God forgive me for thinking too highly of myself
God forgive me for thinking too lowly of myself
God forgive me for thinking of myself so stinkin' much"
-Shane Claiborne


Saturday, June 16, 2012

Day 2: Practicing prayer

I'm realizing that really being intentional about prayer is going to take practice... a lot of practice.  I'm so accustomed to the GO GO GO pace of life, that stopping and being quiet is hard.  It is a rare occasion that I am by myself, so I've had to designate a quiet place in my house to go and pray at my specific times.  Finding a quiet place in an 1,100 sq. ft. house is a bit of a challenge. But I've found this little corner in my room where I'm hidden behind my bed and it's working quite well.  I've decided to set a timer for 5 minutes for each prayer time.  If I don't then I just rush through a quick prayer for the poor, and that really defeats the purpose.

Sometimes I don't even know how or what to pray so I just sit and be quiet and think about what I'm suppose to be praying for, and the Lord brings things to mind.

I've also realized that I like getting up early, but I hate going to bed early.  This poses a problem.  This equation just doesn't work unless I want to be crazy cranky lady.  So I'm going to have to force myself to go to bed earlier tonight.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Day 1: 5:00 a.m. is really early

It's day 1 of the Summer of 7 stress/prayer challenge.  I'm officially just going to call it the "Prayer Challenge", because that's what I'm focusing on.

I was suppose to get up at 5:00 a.m. and guess what I found out... 5:00 a.m. is VERY early!  And I confess, I hit snooze and slept until 5:39.  It did feel good once I got up to sit and listen and read my Bible and enjoy quiet and sunshine and coffee and Jesus.

I decided that for this week I will pause at 7 specific times each day to pray for 7 specific things.

8:15 a.m. - Kids/Education

10:15 a.m. - Poor and oppressed

12:15 p.m. - The Fatherless

2:15 p.m. - Mothers around the world

4:15 p.m. - My marriage

6:15 p.m. - Church (my local church and the church as a whole)

8:15 p.m. - Outreach Team (A ministry I just joined)


P.S.  I was very glad this morning to put on different clothes and I was most excited to put on some big earrings.  Funny thing,  most of the clothes I'm wearing are clothes from the 7 challenge except my shirt.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

So7: On to the next

Last day of the clothes challenge.  Feeling relieved and grateful for these past 2 weeks.  Life is simple when I'm not confronted with so many choices.  I realized that I had a lot of clothes that I rarely wore, even still it was hard getting rid of them.  I'm the type of person that thinks, "Wait!  I might wear that if I ever go camping."  Let's be real.  My family doesn't camp.

Tomorrow I'll start the "Stress Challenge", which will be more of a prayer challenge for me.  I'm not sure what it will fully look like yet.  The one thing I know for sure is that I will devote the first hour of my day to prayer.  That hour will start at 5:00 a.m. on weekdays and at 6:00 a.m. on weekends (Lord help me that is early)  But if I don't do it then it won't happen.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Summer of 7: A LONG way to go

This 2 week clothes challenge is almost finished.  Overall, it's been a pretty good experience.  In doing this experiment I'm trying to pass on some valuable lessons to my kids.

A few weeks ago a girlfriend gave me some boxes of hand-me-downs for my girls.  There were at least  20 pairs of jeans and so many shirts, dresses, coats, etc...  Way more than we needed.  My girls were ecstatic at the chance to pick out some "new" clothes.  But I made it clear that we would only be picking a few things, mostly things we had need of, and the rest we would pass on.  They were great about it.  They picked some things, more than I would have liked, and I snuck some of the extras out when they were asleep.

So we still had a lot of clothes to pass on.  I really want to start being more thoughtful about where I'm donating.  I contacted my kids' school to see if there were any families in need of girls clothing.  The counselor let me know that there was a family in need, with a girl size 4T and a girl size 8.  I looked through all the clothes and there were a few items in each size, but not a ton.

I really wanted to be helpful to this family, so it was time to put my money where my mouth is.  I don't want to just give my hand-me-downs, which were really hand-me-downs to me in the first place.  I want these girls to feel special.  I headed to Target to pick out a few outfits for them.

As I was shopping I found 2 dresses.  One was cute, but the other was SUPER cute!  I went back and forth between the two because the super cute dress was $2 more.  TWO DOLLARS!!!!  I could probably find $2 in my couch cushions or under the seats of my car.  How could I even hesitate?  This is where I'm at people.  I still have a LONG way to go.

I finally ended up buying the super cute dress.  But it took a whisper from the Spirit saying, "If you were buying for you're own daughter wouldn't you spend the extra two dollars?"

"Love your neighbor as yourself" -Matthew 22:39


Lord help me!

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Day 12... I think

I think it's Day 12 of the Summer of 7 clothes challenge, but I could be wrong.  I'm losing track.

Last week in one of my posts I said I was being moved to action.  One of my best friends asked me, "What kind of action?  What are you doing?"  I love this friend!  She is not afraid to ask me the hard questions.  She will not let me get away with just talking about action.  She will make sure that I do what I say I'm going to do.

"Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind." -Romans 12:2


This verse really speaks to the action that is happening right now.  I am working hard to be transformed by the renewing of my mind.  I am turning away from the pattern of this world.  You might be thinking, "That's lame!  She's totally avoiding real action!"  But here's the deal, I want this 7 experiment to change me... and I want to stay that way.  I don't want it to be some thing I did during the Summer of 2012, and then I went on with life as usual.  I want to be changed.  I want to be transformed.


"We are what we repeatedly do.  Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit." -Aristotle


I don't want to just do a few acts of kindness and charity so I can feel good about myself.  I want to create new habits so I can be more useful to God and hopefully do good for other people... for the rest of my life.  

In his book "The Hole in Our Gospel" Richard Stearns writes, 

"The most common view held by Americans is that poverty is the absence of things.  If only the poor had things like nutritious food, medicines, better houses, clean water wells, adequate clothing, agricultural tools, and seeds, they would no longer be poor.  This is why we throw a dollar in the panhandler's cup, give our old clothes to Goodwill, and take short-term missions trips to other countries to dig irrigation channels, teach English, or build schools.  But this kind of charity, while it has it's place, can backfire on naive 'Good Samaritans' who discover that those who receive their gifts are soon back asking for more of them.  They saw an easy way to have their needs met and became dependent on the givers for their livelihoods.  While providing things like these in urgent situations is sometimes necessary, it neither addresses the underlying stubbornness of poverty, nor is it sustainable; it just creates a dependency.  Frankly, giving things to the poor does much more to make the giver feel good than it does to fundamentally address and improve the condition of those in need."


This is why my plan of action is to transform my mind and my habits.  Because they way he described the American giver describes me... and it makes me cringe.


 

Monday, June 11, 2012

Day 11: Cleaning out

I went through my closet today as promised.  The undertaking was not as big as I thought it would be.  Probably because I've been purging things ever since I read "7" some months ago.  So today I came up with 23 things to get rid of.



I know... it doesn't look like much.  It really isn't.  But when I counted all of my clothing including: nice shirts, t-shirts, pajamas, workout clothes, sweats, sweaters, shoes, boots, coats, scarves, dresses, jeans, tank tops, shorts, and swimsuits, I have about 85 items.  I still have a few coats I could give away, but I just couldn't do it today.  I'm a work in progress.

But I am making progress.  Last month I gave away 5 of my 6 purses.  Which means I'm a 1 purse lady now.  Boy does that make life easier.  Not having to dig through purses because I've put my wallet in one of the 6!  I've weaned my scarves from 6 down to just 2.  I went from 4 sweaters to 2.  

Slowly but surely I'm letting go.  My "stuff" will no longer own me... I will own my "stuff".

A Time for Everything

Listening to hymns this morning and remembering Pastor Buntain.  A life well lived indeed!  As I read various articles about his life yesterday one thing really struck me.  He didn't become the pastor of Life Center in Tacoma until he was 40 years old.  The church burned to the ground 10 years after he became pastor, and he rebuilt the church that I have always called home.  He was 50 then.  For some reason I've always thought when I'm 50 my life will begin winding down.  This doesn't even make sense as I think about it now.  I see the example of all of my parents.  They are FAR from winding down!  But for some reason it's just how I saw things.

This really gave me a change of perspective.  I've been under the mindset of "I need to hurry up and raise my kids so I can start working on my calling... whatever that is.  If I don't start soon it's going to be too late!"  The truth is, I'm in the middle of God's calling right now!  I'm just missing it because I'm comparing myself to other people or I think it should look different.

"There is a time for everything and a season for every activity under the heavens"-Ecclesiastes 3:1

I don't have to be in a hurry.  As long as I keep my eyes on Jesus and follow where He leads I won't be late and I won't miss out on any part of my life.  I can enjoy this season of raising my kids without feeling like I'm missing the mark.  This may seem silly but it is such a huge RELIEF to me.

Another reminder I love: "All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be" -Psalm 139:16

Sunday, June 10, 2012

I'm the problem

I noticed something funny today... I'm the problem.  With the laundry that is.  I usually have mountains of laundry.  I mean the dirty clothes is usually overflowing.  But I looked at my baskets today and this is what I saw:


Wait!  I want you to see an aerial view



This just isn't the norm in my house.  These 3 bins are usually full to the brim to the point of overflowing onto the floor.  And I promise I didn't hide the dirty clothes anywhere.  I haven't been doing laundry any more than I normally do, which only means one thing... I have the biggest problem with clothes in my house.  This whole Summer of 7 challenge is opening my eyes.

You know what this means?  Tomorrow I'll be posting pictures of all the clothes I'm giving away.  Clearly this needs to be a more permanent lifestyle change.  And I guess I can't pass the blame to my family anymore

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Day 9: The sleepover

Noting too exciting happening with my clothes today.

But my son is going to a sleepover at his buddies tonight.  It seems we overlooked a very important clothing choice in his 7... PAJAMAS!!!  He usually sleeps in his undies at home and sleepovers are a very, very rare occasion.  He does have jammies, but he is a legal beagle.  I asked, "Are you sure you don't just want bring some jambes?"  His response: "Yes I'm sure!  I'm sticking to my 7."

So, he'll just sleep in his sweats.  I'm proud of him!

Friday, June 8, 2012

Passion?

Tonight at our small group this question came up: "What is your passion?"  I have to be honest, I sort of hate this question.  Only because I never feel like I have a good answer.  When other people answer this question I usually think "yes!  I can totally see that. That is totally you!"  But for some reason when I look at myself I feel like a deer in the headlights.

I looked up the word "Passion" on dictionary.com  Here's the definition it gives:

Passion: any powerful or emotional feeling; strong amorous feeling or desire

I must say I was very disappointed by this definition.  I mean, sometimes I have a strong desire for chocolate, but it's not my passion.  (At least I don't think it is)  The synonyms they gave were a much better fit: fervor, zeal, ardor.

Even still, I don't have an answer.  I loved what one of my girlfriends said.  "It's changing all the time."  Now that I can relate to.

What is your passion?

Day 8: Blah!

OK, now I'm starting to get bored of these clothes.  Actually, I was feeling really excited this morning, because I had found a new combination of clothes. (Which is hard to do when you only have 7 items of clothing)  It was all good until we got into the car after our Friday doughnut run.  Viv yells out, "Hey Mom!  You got something on your arm."  I look and this is what I see:



A lovely blob of chocolate right on the sleeve of my white shirt.  Very cute!  "Oh well" I say to myself.  I'll take it off and just wear the blue shirt I was wearing over it.  So I take off the blue shirt and what do I find?



Chocolate.... on the back of my blue shirt.  How does that even happen?!  The ironic part is that as we were leaving the store, Lola was commenting on how clean I stayed while eating my doughnut.  Not so much I guess.  

No biggie, I'll just wear my black shirt... that's in the washer.  Or my hoodie... that's also dirty.  So for now I'm wearing a tank top, which is one of my 7 approved underclothes.  This wouldn't be so bad if I lived in Hawaii or Florida or Arizona.  But I live in Washington... the cold part.  The part that is still 50 degrees in June.  

This makes me glad that I've extended my challenge to 2 weeks.  Today I am forced to be uncomfortable, and really it's not that uncomfortable.  I'm just kind of a wimp.  I mean, I was able to come inside my warm house and put my clothes into a washing machine.  

But when I walk down the driveway to get my mail and the cold breeze hits me, I get a reminder of the many people who have little or no clothing.  I think about the people who slept outside last night.  I think about the kids who might be embarrassed to be wearing the same clothes to school today that they wore yesterday.  And when I have the tangible reminder of these things my heart hurts for them and I am moved to action.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Summer of 7: Day 7

"Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear.  Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes?  Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them.  Are you not much more valuable than they?  Can one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life.  And why do you worry about clothes?  See how the flowers of the field grow.  They do not labor or spin.  Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like on of these.  If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you--you of little faith?  So do not worry, saying, 'What shall we eat?' or What shall we drink?' or 'What shall we wear?'  For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them.  But seek first His kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.  Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself.  Each day has enough trouble of it's own." - Matthew 6:25-34



There's not really much to say today.  The above says it all.  I had a friend send me part of this passage today.  It is one of my very favorite pieces of scripture.  We have one thing to do, "Seek first His kingdom and His righteousness."  

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

On the band wagon

I just talked my son into doing the next week of "7 clothes" with me.  It really wasn't that hard and it comes as no surprise that he would be excited about doing something like this.  He is big on not wasting things, especially when it comes to laundry.  And have you seen his shoes??



This picture was taken probably a month ago.  They're even worse now, and he still wears them to school.  I'm not sure whether to be proud or appalled. Anyways, it will be fun to have him doing the challenge with me.  His 7 are:

1. Black puffy jacket
2. Red Mario shirt
3. Black astronaut shirt
4. Gray sweats
5. Jeans
6. Karate pants
7. Karate shirt

I told him he didn't have to include his karate clothes since he only wears them twice a week to karate, or he could have them count as 1 item.  But he insisted on including them.  He's such a legal beagle in that way.

Summer of 7: Day 6 of clothes

Nothing too eventful happening with the clothes today.  Things I'm learning so far:

1. Wearing an apron is a good thing!  I've found myself wearing an apron every time  I cook and/or do the dishes.  I've been very aware food splatter lately, and without the option of changing my clothes frequently I decided an apron would be a nice option.  It makes me feel very 1950's-ish.  Except for the fact that my apron is an old green Starbucks apron and my lipstick is not perfect (and for that matter, nonexistent).

2.  I really have to look ahead on the calendar and carefully decide my outfit.  If I have somewhere to go where I need to look a little nicer I have to make sure I save those clothes for that day or make sure they're clean.

3. I still really don't miss my other clothes.  I'm trying to figure out where I can donate them and know they will go to people who really need them.  Any suggestions??

4.  I do miss my big earrings.

  

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

I'm cheating

I have a confession to make... I'm cheating on my 7 articles of clothing.  And it's with this necklace.



It may not look special, but it so is!  This necklace was made by African women, out of beads made from old magazines.  A good friend gave to me some years back.  I thought it was cool.  But it wasn't until last week that I realized how amazing it really was.

Last week I finished the book "Kisses from Katie" by Beth Clark and Katie J. Davis.  If you haven't read it, READ IT!!!  In the book she tells the story of some women in Uganda who live in an incredibly poor village.  Many of these women are single mothers.  Desperate to provide for their families, some of them would sneak out after their kids were asleep and prostitute themselves.  One story is told of a woman who would brew alcohol to sell in order to make money.  But if it didn't sell, "she took the mash from which it is made home to her family and they would swallow it until they fell asleep.  She was making her children drunk so they were unable to feel the pains of hunger."

Can you even imagine how painful this must be for these mothers!  So they teach the women how to make these necklaces.  They provide a way out.  A way for these mothers to provide for there families with dignity.  

So yes, technically I'm cheating.  But I live in a place where I often complain about too much laundry, nothing to eat (even though my refrigerator is full and my cupboards are stocked), and feeling overwhelmed by the demands of life.  But really, the demands on my life pale in comparison to the weight these Ugandan women are facing.  

But every time I wash my hands and see myself in the mirror and see the necklace around my neck, I think of these women.  I think about how many women are hurting and needing and living in the most desperate situations.  And I think about how I need to stop thinking about me and start getting my eyes more on Jesus, so I will be more surrendered to Him, and be ready for Him to use me however he wants.

Summer of 7: Day 5

It's raining and a little cold today.  It makes me miss my red rain boots and coats.  My hoodie has a spaghetti stain on it from last night's dinner... did I mention it's cream?  It could be worse.

I've decided to stretch this clothes challenge out to 2 weeks.  One of my best friends, who has done the month long clothes challenge and who did the month long food challenge with me (while she was nursing!), sent me a text last night.  It said, "So I didn't think that seven could really make an impact in just a week?!  But... it's working for you?"  


My answer to that... Yes, I'm seeing an impact.  But I also know that I could see a bigger impact if I do it for a longer stretch.  Especially since I've already done the food and media experiments for a month, I know how great the impact can be.  I did not do the month long challenges perfectly.  But there is something about getting to that uncomfortable place.  The place where your sick of it and desperate to be done with it.  That's where I've seen victory and leaned into the Holy Spirit like never before.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Summer of 7: Day 4 of clothes

Really loving only having 7 items of clothing to choose from.  It makes life so simple.  Last night I was folding laundry and was thinking how much easier it would be if my family all only had 7 items of clothing all the time!  Not sure that would really work out in the long run, but it really got me thinking.

I went to hang up some of my clothes and guess what?  I have 5 of the exact same shirt!  5!  Wouldn't it be creepy if it was 7?  But anyways, who really needs 5 of the same shirt.  They are all different colors, but still.

I know it's only been a few days, but I'm not even missing my other clothes.  Not even a little bit.  It got me to thinking, what if I only had 7 of each clothing item?  7 pairs of pants (including sweats and/or work out pants) 7 shirts, 7 pairs of socks etc....  Interesting....

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Summer of 7: Day 3 of clothes

Day 3 has been pretty good. Took the kids swimming at the Y and wore my swimsuit.  I weighed my options: Cheat a little and have an enjoyable day with the kids or be a legal eagle and go stir crazy in the house and break my promise to Viv.  I voted to cheat.  Everyone is happier because of it.

On a good note, the tight jeans from yesterday are much more comfortable today.

One interesting part of the day was doing the Muscle Toning class at the Y wearing my Converse.  I mean, it could have been worse.  But boy was I ever thankful that I usually have the option of wearing some nice running shoes.  The Converse weren't terrible.  But they were very flat and my toes were all squished.  Plus, this is my vain side coming out, I looked a little ridiculous.

In the end the shoe thing is meaningless.  There are children in parts of the world that walk many miles every day with bare feet just to get clean water or food or to get to school.

Lord help me to stop thinking about myself so much!

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Summer of 7: Day 2 of clothes

Second day of 7 articles of clothing has been pretty easy.  I expected as much.  I have ran in to a few minor bumps.

1. I wanted to go for a run today, but I didn't choose running shoes as one of my footwear options.  So I went for a bike ride instead.  Totally fun!

2. One of the pairs of jeans I picked are my "too tight when they are first out of the dryer or carrying a few extra pounds" jeans.  Therefore I had to do a jumping dance to get them on at which time I felt something fall off the back.  It was a little button or something.  However, upon further inspection I found a small hole in the butt of the jeans.  Praying the hole does not get any bigger, and that the jeans stretch out after a few wears.

All this is very minor in the grand scheme of life.

Friday, June 1, 2012

7 clothing items + 2 pairs of shoes


Here's a picture of my 7 clothing items for this week of "The Summer of 7".  I picked 2 pairs of jeans, 1 pair of stretch pants, 3 shirts, and 1 hoodie.  Also not shown here are a black and a white tank top that I'll wear under my shirts.  I wear a tank top under my shirt every day so I'm viewing them as undergarments.  Plus, my shirts are a bit thin and I'm not about wearing see-through shirts. 

 I really thought, "This won't be too difficult.  I don't have that many clothes anyways".  But last night, after I already chose my 7, I was folding laundry.  And I almost started hyperventilating.  I folded my most comfy pajama pants and realized that I didn't really have anything to wear to bed.  See, I usually I wear like sweats and a sweatshirt or a long sleeve t-shirt to bed.  I'm all about being warm.  So my options are my stretch pants and a tank top. Because I don't want to wear my hoodie to bed in case I need it for the day time.  I mean I guess I could but.... it might feel grody and beddish.  I guess that's really the point of all this.

Also, I woke up this morning and saw that it was raining, and it's expected to rain for the next few days... and I didn't choose a coat.  I mean, you would think after reading "7" I would have chosen an actual coat.  And I quote, 

"Day 2: Make a coat one of your seven things."- Jen Hatmaker

But it's June here.  She did her clothes in February.  I thought I'd be o.k.  I was wrong.  Oh well.  It's good for me.  

I know Jen didn't do belts, but I'm definitely doing a belt.  Because in the words of Sir Mix-A-Lot, "little in the middle but she's got much back!"  If I don't use a belt I'll look like a carpenter every time I bend over.  It's just a plain brown belt though.  Nothing cute.

And I'm doing one pair of tiny stud earrings.  This is a big deal for me because ever since I chopped my hair off a few months back, larger dangly earrings have become a part of my everyday attire.

O.k. that's all for now.



Summer of 7 linky blogs

I'm not sure if I'm doing these linky things right. Oh well... Here it goes anyways

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Summer of 7

After reading Jen Hatmaker's book, "7: Experimental Mutiny Against Excess" I fell off my rocker into the  7 world.  I was determined to try this experiment of hers.  This book messed me up good, and has now led me to other books that are messing me up even more... in a good way... sort of.

Anyways, after completing 2 months of experiments I sorta stopped.  Those 2 months were tough but rewarding.  So I haven't done anything Sevenish for a few months.  Then today I see a link to www.sixbrickshigh.com and they are declaring "The Summer of 7"!  Ha!  I love it.  A group of bloggers and whoever else who will be going through the experiments of "7" for seven weeks during the summer.  Every one makes their own rules since everyone is so different.

Anywho, I'm jumping on the bandwagon, and back onto the 7 horse. Oh dear!  And since tomorrow is June 1st I guess I'll start tomorrow with 7 articles of clothing.  So I can only wear 7 items of clothing for the week.  From June 1st-7th.

Here's my 7:

1. Black stretch pants
2. Honolua hoodie
3. Blue v-neck
4. MissMe jeans
5. White long sleeve t-shirt
6. Black v-neck
7. skinny jeans

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

I'm reading a book right now about a young woman who moves to Africa to serve and care for the people of Uganda.  It comes as no surprise that the book talks about starvation, lack of food.  At one point it describes a woman making cakes of mud and salt just to have something to fill her children's hungry stomachs.

Yesterday I was listening to NPR and they were talking about the First Lady's new book, "American Grown".  A book about gardening.  The discussion led to the poor diet of most Americans and the "Obesity Crisis".

The contrast between these two bites of information collided!  I mean, it's not like it was news to me that there are people in the world that are starving, or that there are a large number of people in America that are fat.  The piece that struck me is that the problem in America is that we're eating too much.  And the problem in Africa is that they don't have enough to eat.

We're dying because we're eating too much food.  They're dying because they don't have enough food

We're trying to keep our kids from getting fat.  They're trying to keep they're kids alive.

Some of us have to force ourselves to drink a few glasses of water per day.  They're dying because the nearest watering hole is 6 miles away.

I am not pointing the finger, and if I am it's at myself. (This is coming from the girl who downed 5 s'mores last night)  I'm just saying that this is CRAZINESS!  If we consume less, and give to them, doesn't everybody win?  We won't die from heart attacks and diabetes and other diseases linked to obesity.  They won't die from starvation.

And I know about all the food processing and how that factors in.  But I'm just thinking about pure quantity.  We have much, they have little (if any).  If we give out of our abundance, they have what they need.

Monday, May 7, 2012

I think there's a reason why the story of creation does not include, "and then God made a wooden structure for the people to live in.  It had four walls and it sheltered them and kept them inside, away from the creation He had just made."  Don't get me wrong, I am so grateful for my house!  And I know shelter is so necessary and there are many who are living without it.

But I just went for a short morning walk!  It is sunny and beautiful and birds are singing and the air is filled with the smells of Spring.  And I'm pretty sure my heart almost burst at the joy it brought me.  I would not call myself an outdoorsy kind of girl in the least.  But there is something wonderful being outside in the middle of all that God created.  Especially first thing in the morning when everything is waking up.

And can I get a "WOOT WOOT" for the sunshine.  Because if it had been gray and raining today this blog post would most likely not have been written.  Instead I would have written about how amazing hot coffee is and how I love sitting in a comfy chair with it in the morning.

Moral of the story:  GO OUTSIDE TODAY!! YOU WILL LOVE IT!!

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Today life is too big for me.  He is bigger.
"My own hands stretched out the heavens; I marshaled their starry hosts"-Isaiah 45:12


Today the burden feels to heavy to carry.  His burden is light.
"For my yoke is easy and my burden is light"-Matthew 11:30


Today I don't know which way to go.  He does.
"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


Today I want to be angry.  He says to slow down.
"Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry"-James 1:19


Today I am discouraged.  He is with me and tells me to be strong.
"Have I not commanded you?  Be strong and courageous.  Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go"-Joshua 1:9


Today I feel weak.  He makes me strong.
"No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us"-Romans 8:37

Today I don't feel like I can do it.  He says I can.
"I can do all things through Him who gives me strength"-Philippians 4:13


Today I believe!!!
"Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see"-Hebrews 11:1











Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Sometimes it's just so helpful to have someone else's perspective.  A fresh take.  A view from someone who is not the liar inside my head.  You know that liar that tells you, "It's the worst case scenario.  This is serious!  This problem is HUGE!!"  Do you know that liar?  I am very familiar with him.  He's been lying to me for a LONG time and for quite some time I believed him.  I let him heap guilt on me day after day.  I let him convince me that I had totally messed up my kids.  LIAR!!!!!

OK, back to other people's perspective.  I love it because they can see things from outside the situation.  Usually they are not tied emotionally to it, so they see things more clearly.  I especially love the really honest people who are willing to share their "crazy" life stuff too.

I want to do GREAT things in my lifetime.  But there are also so many times where I just want things to be comfortable and easy.  The reality is that these 2 things just don't go hand in hand.  The truth is that great things usually come from hard work.  "But as for you, be strong and do not give up, for your work will be rewarded." 2 Chronicles 15:7  

Be encouraged today.  Your hard work will be rewarded.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Perspective and Answered Prayer

If I had a dollar for every time someone said to me, "You know everything that's going on in my life, but I didn't get to hear anything about what's going on with you", I would have a good amount of money save up. This used to really frustrate me.  And at times I even felt sorry for myself.

But recently the Holy Spirit has been whispering, "Isn't this really an answer to prayer?  This is what you asked for."  Oh how right He is!!  Over the past 2-3 years I've prayed the words of James 1:19 over and over again. "Lord, make me quick to listen and slow to speak."  And If I'm constantly having the opportunity to practice listening, hasn't He indeed answered that prayer in a very tangible way?

And another blessing in it all.  That people trust me enough to talk to me about their lives, and that I have the opportunity to pray with them and share in their life's journey.  It has truly become a BLESSING to me!!  Oh how He loves us and knows what we need.  I'm a little slow sometimes.  Grateful for God's patience and grace.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Unplugged

I recently read Jen Hatmaker's book, "7: Experimental Mutiny Against Excess" and it's messed with my head... just a little... in a good way.  Who am I kidding?  I've been turned upside down.  It wasn't just that book.  I mean, that book was just the icing and dynamite on the cake that has exploded me into action.  The truth is, God has been after me for some time now.  Does that sound strange, "God has been after me"?  Well, if it sounds strange then it sounds strange.  But it's true.

I recently did a 4 week "7 foods experiment".  I'm not going to go into detail, because most people who are reading this already know what I'm talking about.  Let's face it, if we're friends you have not escaped my "7" craziness.  If you don't know what I'm talking about I would love to talk with you about it.  Shoot me an e-mail.

Back to the point.  This weekend I will be starting another experiment, this time with media and technology.  This is the area I feel prompted work on.  So starting Sunday, March 11th I will be unplugging from:

1. Facebook
2. Texting 
3. iPod
4. Music in the car
5. All books (except my Bible.  Heaven help me, I LOVE books!!!!!)
6. Kindle
7. All Internet (I will still check my e-mail occasionally)

I did not choose t.v. because it's not a huge draw for me.  All of these things consume much of my time.  Probably more than I even realize.  I'm hoping to better with this challenge than I did with the food.  

Friday, March 2, 2012

March 2, 2001

11 years ago today I went on first date with Matt.  We went to see the movie "Snatch".  Our elbows shared an armrest and my heart pounded through the entire movie.  I never thought I would meet a Christian guy who was cute and funny. (I'm sorry, but it's really how I felt)  Not only did I think I wouldn't meet someone, I didn't think I deserved to.  

Thankfully God doesn't give us what we deserve.  Instead he gives grace and mercy and dreams we never knew possible.  I'm grateful for an amazing husband who is funny, handsome, wise, hard working, a lover of God, and a lover of coffee.  And I'm grateful that God knows me and my desires better than I know myself.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Quitting hurry

I QUIT!!  I'm quitting hurry.  I'm quitting being rushed.  I'm sure I've said this before, but this time I'm really doing it.  I'm 95% sure if I died tonight and someone asked my kids what they remembered most about me they would say, "She was always in a hurry.  Always saying, 'Hurry up!' or 'Come on, we're gonna be late!'"  O.k. I'm kidding... but not really.

The worst part... nobody is making me hurry.  I do it to myself and to my poor kids.  And what am I hurrying for?  To feel important?  To look good?  To get church on time at the expense of my kids' feelings when I'm yelling at them to hurry up, and then try to walk in and look like we've been singing praise and worship with big smiles on our faces the whole drive there?  What a fraud!

I'm 30.  I look back and my 20's are a blur.  It could have to do with getting married and having three kids.  But I think it has to do with being in a hurry to get to the next phase in life.  So in a hurry that I forgot to enjoy the now.

No more.  I choose now.  No more hurry.  No more being in a rush.  If I'm a little late, that will just have to be o.k.  In a world that keeps speeding up, this girl is slowing down to enjoy the ride.

"There is a time for everything and a season for every activity under the heavens"
Ecclesiastes 3:1

Friday, February 10, 2012

Stay-at-home-mom??

Technically I am considered a "SAHM" (Stay-at-home-mom).  Although lately I haven't been doing a lot of staying at home.  This fact became very clear to me today as a shelf collapsed this afternoon in my mudroom.  The cause of the collapse?  Too much JUNK!

And it's not just the one shelf.  As I looked around there were crazy chaotic piles of random things all over the house.  I love my house, but honestly there are many times when I just want to be out of it so I don't have to face the STUFF that has taken over.  Plus I love being with people and being involved in lots of different things.  But at some point enough is enough.  I can't neglect my house forever.  This is my job and if I had a boss I would've been fired a long time ago.

It's time for this stay-at-home-mom to start staying at home.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Day 3

Starting day 3 of the "7" food challenge.  I'm not gonna lie.  The first two days were rough.  Not terrible, but rough.  I am realizing that at least 50% of my daily energy is kept up by coffee.  I'm very grateful that my caffeine headache is subsiding and my mind is not as foggy as the past 2 days.

I'm also realizing how much emphasis I put on food and how large of a part it plays in my life.  It affects my mood and my activities.  Scary!  Thinking about doing something fun with my kids or going on a date with Matt, and the only ideas I can think of are food destinations.

With 2 days down and 28 to go I know I have a long road ahead.  But I am grateful for a great group of friends who are keeping me accountable, checking in with me, and most importantly, praying.  I couldn't do it without them.  Also, I'm so grateful that God sends bits of encouragement in other ways.  Like the song lyrics I heard yesterday:

"Impossible is not a word, it's just a reason not to try"

Friday, February 3, 2012

In the past 6 months I've read 4 books having to do with living a life that is marked by being completely head over heels for Jesus.  So head over heels that I have no choice but to travel on the "narrow road" that Jesus talks about.  The life that dies to self and lives to serve.  When I hear the word serve the first thing that comes to mind is "burnt out".  Because often times when I serve there is a part of me that is in it for me.  Let's be real, a LARGE part is in it for me.  And when "ME" is the goal, true satisfaction cannot come.  Because I'm greedy and there will always be something more I want.  I'll strive and strive to the point of burn out and never be satisfied.

The first 3 books I read are "Radical" by David Platt, "WEIRD: Because Normal Isn't Working" by Craig Groeschel, and "Same Kind of Different as Me" by Ron Hall and Denver Moore.  All INCREDIBLE books.  Each one had me staying up late and finding any minute I could to read.  The themes that kept coming up in each of these books:

  • Relationships are essential, the most important 
  • In order to live FULLY for Jesus, I have to die COMPLETELY to myself
  • It's not always easy, but it is always worth it     
My mind kept being pounded by these messages.  I knew there was a reason God kept bringing this up.  My excuse for not acting on it?  "These are all guys.  They're pastors and what not.  It's easy for them to do it.  They don't have kids to take care of all the time."

Well, last week God blew that excuse out of the water as I read "7: Experimental Mutiny Against Excess" by Jen Hatmaker.  She's a mom, she's a wife, she's a woman.  She speaks my language and I knew all my excuses were gone.

To say I was inspired by this book would be an incredible understatement.  A slightly different message than the other books, but the same themes as above.  The most important theme I found: less me, MORE GOD.  less take, MORE GIVE.

So, it's time to get to work.  "Let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of our faith." -Hebrews 12:1-2

Monday, January 30, 2012

Today I can be likened to a toddler throwing a huge temper tantrum.  You wouldn't know it from the outside.  But my Heavenly Father who know every thought can see it on the inside.

This morning I read in Matthew 20 where Jesus tells the disciples that, "whoever want to become great among you must be your servant"-v. 26  At 7:00 a.m. I said, "Yes Lord, that's what I want.  Make me a servant."  I even told my kids about it and we prayed it on the way to school.

Well, it's all of 2:00 p.m. and I'm already stomping my feet and saying, "Why me Lord?"  Or, "Why not me Lord?  You do everything for everyone but me!"  Oh Lord have mercy on me!  What a whiner I am.

I really do want to be like Jesus.  I want to be the servant He calls me to be.  I am impatient and want what I want when I want it.  And sometimes don't even know what I want, but I want it anyway.  I am so like a child.  In the middle of my little meltdown I opened my Bible straight to a very familiar page that is highlighted for a reason.

"Woe to those who quarrel with their Maker, those who are nothing but potsherds among the potsherds on the ground.  This is what the Lord say- the Holy One of Israel, and its Maker: do you question me about my children, or give me orders about the work of my hands?" -Isaiah 45:9,11

He has an answer for everything.  He made me and is making me into the woman I'm called to be.  Thank you Lord for not giving up on me.  Your grace still amazes me.



Friday, January 27, 2012

I stepped into the world of crafting today, all for the love of my daughters.  Especially Lola.  I'm pretty sure one of her love languages is arts and crafts.  I'm happy to say it went well and I really enjoyed it!

just a glimpse of the supply table


so happy with the finished product

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Today I was cleaning out my bookshelves and came across a few old journals.  I love journals!  I love writing things down.  It's like therapy for me to get thoughts and feelings out on a piece of paper.  I especially like writing down prayers.  It keeps me focused.

I flipped through and read some of the entries.  Some made me laugh, some made me cringe, and some made me feel embarrassed.  Most of all, reading them made me feel like I was on a roller coaster.  One day I would be high, happy and praising the Lord.  And the next entry I'd be low, crying out or throwing a fit right there on the page.

I put them away and started to think, "what is wrong with me?!"  How can I be so up can down?  I'm a mess and my journals prove it.  I considered throwing them away, but I couldn't.  They're from when my kids were born and there are great answers to prayer in there.  Just as my thoughts were beginning to get the best of me the word "Psalms" popped into my head.

Immediately I was comforted.  Even David, the man after God's own heart, had highs and lows.  And he wrote them down too!  Psalm 21:1 says, "The king rejoices in your strength, Lord.  How great is his joy in the victories you give!"  Only to be followed by Psalm 22:1, "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Why are you so far from saving me, so far from my cries of anguish?" 


It's nice to know I'm not the only one.  God knows us better than we'll ever know ourselves.  He loves us on our lowest day just as much as he loves us on our highest day.  This is a mystery to me, but I am forever grateful.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

The person behind the camera

For Christmas I asked for a new camera.  I have a Canon Rebel Xti, and I LOVE it!  I've learned so much with it and it's just a great camera.  However, I don't use it much.  I do at home, but when I consider bringing it out and about I hesitate.  It's big and I already have my hands full with 3 kids. More often then not I would opt for leaving it behind and decide to just use my iPod camera.  I decided it was time to get a camera I would actually want to bring with me places.

I ended up getting another camera from Christmas The one I asked for.  Someone saw me with it and said, "Oh, you downgraded."  Well, I guess you could look at it that way.  If it's a matter of size, then yes I downgraded.  My new camera cannot swap out lenses and does not have some features that my Rebel has.  But I consider it an upgrade.  Because I'm taking picture again.  I actually bring my camera places and I can just toss it in my purse without feeling like I need to bring my extra-large purse.

I once read that it's not a good camera that takes good pictures, it's a good photographer.  I agree.  It all comes down to the person behind the camera.

Here are a few shots I took with the new camera.  I think they're just as good as anything I've taken with my Rebel.  Although, that's coming from a professional amateur.

Lola at the Science center















Ferry















snoozing with bunny ears
































Snow Beauty