Thursday, December 30, 2010

Do you see Him?


Matthew 25:44-45
"Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you? He will reply, 'I tell you the truth, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.' " (NIV)

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

My Body


I am having one of those I hate my body moments. For about three weeks I have been struggling with some intense pain from a cyst on my ovary. It has actually subsided a bit now, but for those three weeks I barely had energy or desire to get up and did very little in the way of working out or doing my hair or putting on makeup. So today, I decided to get a little pretty. The girls and I were having lunch with Todd. He was meeting us from work. I took a shower and was attempting to do my hair and get dressed up a little. But my stomach is a little bloated (another symptom of the cyst and probably not working out in three weeks) and my hair was refusing to do anything other than sit in a pony-tail. (I mean really it has not done anything else for three weeks, why change things now?) I was getting super frustrated and lamenting over all the things wrong with my body. But I got dressed and did my makeup and threw my hair up and we went to lunch anyway.


We had lunch and I came home and on a friends facebook she had posted an article. The article was from a womans perspective giving glory to God for the body she had been given. So inspired I decided to write the following:


I praise you Lord for giving me two strong arms. One arm strong enough to carry my toddler through the ice and snow while the other gently guides my preschooler so she does not fall. Arms that carry baskets of laundry down flights of stairs. My arms do not look like a supermodels. They are not as toned as I would like. But they serve my family. Thank you Lord for giving me my arms.


I praise you Lord for my legs. They are strong enough to run through the snow with my kids and chase them through the house for a tickle fight. They carry me whever I need to go. They too are not perfect and many times I have lamented over the shape and dimples. But they are strong and they allow me to do what I need. Thank you Lord for giving me my legs.


I praise you Lord for my stomach. It has carried two of my children and has grown and shrunk as needed. It allows me to eat and sustains me. I think this is my most lamented body part. It is so far from the worlds idea of perfection. It has far too many stretch marks and not enough muscle. But both of my children wrap their legs around it when I scoop them up for a cuddle and when they are sick and want to rest on the couch it makes a nice pillow. My stomach is what my husband wraps his strong arms around and what he holds when we cuddle close at night. I praise you Lord for making my stomach.


I praise you Lord for my mind. It allows me to gain wisdom and grow. It allows me to think through disciplining my children and sort through my to dos. I sometimes feel as though it betrays me when I cannot concentrate or when I forget something very important. But it allows me to learn and change. I praise you Lord for making my mind.


I praise you Lord for my hair. It sometimes drives me insane. But I am blessed to have hair. And I am blessed by knowing that you know the number of them on my head. And even the grey ones are all counted by you. Some do not have hair and I am thankful and praise you Lord for my hair.


I praise you Lord that you created me. I praise you that you made me fearfully and wonderfully. I am thankful that I am allowed to be your temple. I am so undeserving. But for some reason you choose to dwell in me. Thank you. Thank you for creating me and reminding me that I am yours.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Bedroom Humor


So at 5:00 this morning Todd's alarm started ringing. I was half awake because I had just gotten up with a child with a tummy ache. I had just settled in and was nice and warm on the edge of sleep when I heard the ring (Well, vibration so as not to wake the kids) of his phone alarm.

It rang and he quickly turned it off. I sank back into to my sleep and five minutes later heard the ring again. The third time it happened I shook him and the following interchange occurred.

Me: "Do you need to be up at 5:00 am or can we shut that thing off?"

Todd: "I really don't need to be up until 6."

Me: "If your alarm continues to go off until 6 I will strangle you."

Todd: "Ok"

He then crawls out of our warm bed at 5:15 and goes out into the cold.

I have an awesome husband. Every single morning he gets up before the rest of us and braves the cold, rain, or whatever is going on outside to go to work. He works hard and never complains. He does hard labor on most days and alot of days he works in freezing cold. Isn't he great?

And despite my threats to strangle him I really do love him. Just not if he wakes me up.

Thanks babe for working so hard and taking care of us. You are a good man!

Friday, November 26, 2010

Remember

We listen to kiddie songs a lot. My kids love the fun rockin music and I have to admit I kind of like it too. We have Phil Joels solo kids project. It is really awesome. It is filled with a ton of scripture and the music is super fun. One of the songs is titled "Don't forget to remember". Tonight I want to remember.

We put up our Christmas tree this evening. It was filled with so much joy and laughter and memories. Each ornament has a special meaning and holds memories. Its fun to share with the kids.

We finished the tree trimming and were doing other decorating. And it was getting late and the kids were having a snack. I remembered that we had chosen to set aside a set of ornaments that were gifted to us for the yard sale. They were three collectible Thomas Kincaide ornaments. They each have a Bible verse on them. I remembered the ornaments and quickly set about finding them. They were not with our other Christmas decor. I quickly found them and because the kids were eating their snack I had a moment alone to put them up. I put each on the tree and read the verses.

My heart was filled with joy as I remembered. We prayed to God for what we needed for the adoption and He answered. He gave us exactly what we needed in that moment. Those ornaments were like my memorial. It was my reminder. My God is big. I thanked Him. I praised Him and I remembered who He is.

It is really easy to kind of get discouraged right now. We are so busy and bogged down in the details of the adoption. There is so much paperwork and so much preparation. And I cannot imagine actually holding my little baby. It feels so far away. We are being told it could take up to two years. Honestly my heart aches when I think that. I do not want to wait for two years to hold him.

But then God gives me a reminder. My ornaments that are so clearly a picture of how God miraculously provided exactly what we need. He is still orchestrating the details. And I can trust Him.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

More

So in the past three years or so, our family has been surrounded by marriages that have or are crumbling. We have had very dear and close friends divorce. Some have been very sudden and seem to have come from out of the blue. We have been heartbroken on more than one occasion. There have been times when we literally have had our hearts ripped from our chest by the news of someone close separating. We hurt and ache for those around us. We know God's plan for marriage was never supposed to be this way. We struggle to know how to help. How can we encourage the marriages around us?

It seems like we have more access to resources than ever before. There are more books being written on the subject of marriage than ever. With the internet, facebook, texting, down loadable sermons and more people have more access to the knowledge than they ever did in the past. Yet marriages are still crumbling at an ever increasing rate. There is more knowledge and still more divorce.

In my cries to God, it seems that He has answered that there are two things we need more of. The answer is not more books, more sermons, more counseling, more knowledge. All of those things are fine in and of themselves. And I have been genuinely helped on more than one occasion by all of those. But the real answer. The real depth and longing of our hearts and our families is for more of God and deeper community.

Our families need more of the living breathing active Lord. We need His spirits fire to come in our homes. We need to beg for God's presence. We need to beg that He forgive our sinful, wretched hearts and fill them with Himself. Without Him no sermon, no book, no formula will transform our families. Nothing can redeem and restore what was once broken like God. Some of the marriages around us seem beyond hope. They seem like nothing could make them new again. But I am reminded of a group of people. A group of men and women who were broken and beaten. A group who were sinful and filled with regret. In the book of Acts the second chapter we are told of such a group of men and women. About 120. They were followers of Jesus. Jesus Christ had just recently been crucified. All of those around him fled when he needed them. Peter, his closest friend, denied that he even knew him. These were a group of rejects. They had no hope of any good coming from their lives. They had no hope of anything good coming from what had happened. But they sat together and prayed and waited upon the Lord. And the Holy Spirit came with wind and fire and filled each of them. In verse 41 we are told that 3,000 people came to follow Christ that day. It was not because of the knowledge that people came that day. It was not an eloquent sermon. It was not a really good book. The living, active, working God came and showed Himself. And people were changed. Lives were changed. Marriages, families, homes were restored. People were redeemed. We need more of God. He is the answer.

And He created us to need eachother. We need more real and honest community. Not just seeing each other in church on Sunday. Not just putting on a smile and pretending we are all fine. Obviously we are not. When the rate of divorce within the church is higher than the rate of divorce outside the church we are not fine. Chances are that half of all families that are sitting in church on Sunday will be separated by divorce at some point. We are not ok. Lets be real with each other. We need to be honest. And we need to beg God to work of behalf of one another.

I am not sure what this looks like exactly. But the truth is without God and without each other our families, marriages and lives will continue to crumble. Will you join the revolution? Will you beg God to work in your life? Will you beg God to teach you how to be a better husband, a better wife, a better mom or dad? Will you be open and honest with a few trusted friends about your struggles and joys?

God~
Forgive me for seeking myself. Forgive me for caring more about my desires, my needs, my plans than yours, forgive my complacency, forgive my wandering heart. I am sorry that I spent so long seeking anything but you. Please fill my life with your presence. Please fill me with a desire to do your will. Please fill me with a longing for more of you. Help me not become comfortable with getting just a little of your spirit. Help me to learn to love Todd the way he needs. Forgive me for being selfish and caring more about my needs than his. Teach me to love him. Teach me to love my children. Help us to create genuine community with those around us. Help us to be honest and to share the truth with those we care about. Let your spirit come and fill me. Let your spirit come and fill our home and our family and teach us to do your will. Please come and renew this generation. Please send a revival in our churches, in our homes and let us have new hope. Thank you that despite my selfishness you still seek me and call to me. Thank you that you redeem even the worst of lives. You are the hope. You are our only hope.
In Jesus name I pray.

Amen.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Facebook Rules

I love facebook. It has helped me reconnect with old friends and stay connected with current ones. It allows me to share photos of the kids with relatives far away. It has been a really good thing. But so many times people use this in ways that are not good. So here are my tongue in cheek facebook rules.

1. Facebook is not the place to hash out problems.
If you feel the need to tell your friend that they are making some poor choices in life, please tell them in person. Do not post on their facebook wall that you think they are an idiot. Seriously it does not help. I am pretty sure it only complicates life for anyone involved.

2. Facebook is not the place to discuss your sex life.
No one wants to know who you are sleeping with or not sleeping with. And those who want to know can ask you in person. Please for every ones sake do not make your status about your latest hook up. Seriously, I go online to say hi to a friend and get inundated with your booty call. No thanks. Please keep it private. If you are so desperate that the world know who you are sleeping with, you probably have some deep seeded emotional issues and should not be sleeping with anybody.

3. Facebook is not the place to talk about your argument with your spouse.
Telling the whole world that your spouse is a douche bag does not make your marriage better. Get off the Internet and go have a reasonable discussion with them. We all do not want to know your dirty laundry.

4. Please keep your clothes on in your profile picture.
Enough said seriously.

5. Please do not update your status 50 times a day.
Do we need to know that you went to the bathroom, are eating a bagel, are washing the dishes, walking the dog, and doing everything else within your day? Ummm, any of those things would be fine to post once in a while. But seriously sometimes people are ridiculous.

6. Do not say anything on facebook that you do not want the world to know.
If you post something on facebook, please do not be mad when the world knows. Every person in your friend status has the potential to see what you wrote. Remember that.

At one time in our history people knew what was appropriate for public display. People somehow think that because you can sit on the computer in your underwear it is a private thing. This list is not conclusive. Please feel free to add.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Lead Me


The following are lyrics to a song.



Sanctus Real- Lead Me


I look around and see my wonderful life

Almost perfect from the outside

In picture frames I see my beautiful wife

Always smiling

But on the inside, I can hear her saying


"Lead me with strong hands

Stand up when I can't

Don't leave me hungry for love

Chasing dreams, what about us?"


Show me you're willing to fight

That I'm still the love of your life

I know we call this our home

But I still feel alone.


I see their faces, look in their innocent eyes

They're just children from the outside

I'm working hard, I tell myself they'll be fine

They're independent

But on the inside, I can hear them


"Lead me with strong hands

Stand up when I can't

Don't leave me hungry for love

Chasing dreams, what about us?"


Show me you're willing to fight

That I'm still the love of your life

I know we call this our home

But I still feel alone."


So Father, give me the strength

To be everything I am called to be

Oh, Father, show me the way

To lead them

Won't you lead me?


To lead them with strong hands

To stand up when they can't

Don't want to leave them hungry for love

Chasing dreams that I could give up


I'll show them I'm willing to fight

And give them the best of my life

So we can call this out home

Lead me, 'cause I can't do this alone


Father, lead me, 'cause I can't do this alone



When I hear that song it makes me cry. I cry because I see so many families broken. I see so many men who are too busy chasing their own desires and their own dreams to see that their families are hurting and need them. I see men who would rather spend their nights drinking and partying than home with wives who are desperate for them. I see men who are so busy building their careers that they never make time to spend with their kids. I cry.


But I have hope. There are some men who are crying out to lead.


I have one. I have a man who works 9-10 hour days but comes home in time for dinner. I can tell from the look in his eyes that the one thing he would love would be a hot shower and to sit on the couch and do nothing. But he comes home and gets on the floor and plays with our babies. He builds blocks or becomes a human trampoline. He doesn't always want to. But he does it. He puts aside his own desires and does what we need. My man dreams big dreams. He has goals and desires. But he always surrenders his plans to what God wants for our family. He does not forge ahead like he is the only one. He leads us. He is so eager to follow the voice of God. And many times it means the things he loves get put a little on the back burner. I am proud to be lead by Him. I am thankful that he cares enough to do it.


Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Adoption Update

So many people have been asking us about how the adoption is going. I have been telling some and giving the short version to most, but here is where we are.

We have started our home study and I am hoping it will be complete sometime in December. Now because it is Christmas time realistically thinking it will probably be somewhere in January. I was super nervous about beginning the home study process. I dissected myself and questioned and worried. We finally met our social worker and right away I felt peace. She is the sweetest lady and helped put our fears at ease. She seemed so genuine and so willing to work with our family towards what God wants.

We have begun the process of filling out paperwork with our agency. The agency that will be placing the baby is separate from our home study agency. There is an overwhelming amount of things we need to fill out and paperwork we need to gather. There is nothing private when you are applying to adopt. Everything in your life is open to questioning. It can feel a bit overwhelming and I have to trust that God will help us get everything done in the right timing.

There are so many things that I am learning during this process. I will eventually share many of them. Some I may keep private. But one thing I am learning more and more is that I need to do what God says.

Phillipians 4:6 "Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God."

More and more I have questions and more I more I have doubts and fears. This is all a new process to us. And as with any new thing in life we can be afraid at times. But I know what I know. I know God lead us here. And I know he will provide. And of that I am certain.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Life Interupted


So I was making dinner this evening and running around doing five thousand other things when a little two year old voice interupted my thinking. From the couch she said, "Mommy, can you sit next to me?" I almost told her the truth. I almost said that I had so many things to do and needed to hurry and prepare dinner so we can eat before our company arrives. I almost explained how the dishes still needed to be cleaned and put away. I almost did. But the cuteness of the little voice made me say, "Yes."

So I sat next to her. We sat for less than five minutes. I "read" two books. I say "read" because my two year old does not really sit still long enough to read many books. So we looked at pictures. And then I kissed her and then I finished my five thousand things.

It was really simple. But it was a sweet moment.

I pray that I will always make time to sit next to her. She won't remember the meal we had, or the that the dishes were clean. She will remember if mom was always too busy to be with her. I am sad that my life is interupted by dishes and meals.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Random thought

So I was thinking why is it that as moms whenever we say we need a break or are feeling worn out we qualify it by saying, "I love my kids, but"? Can't we just assume that everyone knows we love our kids. Unless I see you grossly neglecting your kids, I assume you are pretty crazy about them. Why do I think that the moment I utter the words, "I am tired, or I need a break" someone will think I am a bad mom? Can we just be free to admit the truth sometimes without feeling like we will be judged? Because the reality is if you are being a good mom you will get tired. If you are a good mom you cook, clean, shuttle, dress, bathe, cook, clean, shuttle, cuddle, read to, discipline, read to, hug, kiss, cook, clean, hug, kiss, play with, read to, hug, kiss and bed children all day long. If you are human and a good mom you will naturally get tired. So I am going to try and stop qualifying my statements and just let them stand. I think you can assume I love my kids right?

By the way. I could really use like 4 hours where no one touches, talks to, looks at or needs me.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Thanks

I have written something like this before. I actually stole the idea from a blogger friend. But while I was going into the basement to wash a load of laundry (same load for the second time) I had a little sigh at the vast amount of dirty clothes that were waiting to be washed. And then I stopped and said thanks. So here goes.

1. I am thankful for the mounds of dirty clothes because it means my family has clothing and can stay warm.

2. I am thankful for the dirty dishes in the sink because it means my family has eaten.

3. I am thankful for the toys that are scattered throughout the house because it means I am blessed with children who are healthy enough to run into every corner.

4. I am thankful that we are waiting for our son because it means we have time and will meet him one day.

5. I am thankful that I have a messy home because it means I have a home.

6. I am thankful that I miss my very best friend because it means I am blessed to have a friend.

7. I am thankful that I have to end this blog because I have a little girl who is asking for help because it means I have been blessed to care for this little girl.

What are you thankful for today?

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Restless


My soul is restless. Now that we have the money to begin the adoption I just want to have him home. I have bittersweet feelings. My best friend is pregnant and while talking the other day she and Heather figure out that our baby and hers will probably be pretty close in age. This made me smile and made me sad. I smile because it will be fun to share a child of the same age with her again. My three year old is only a few months younger than her child. And it will be neat to watch them play together. But I was also sad. Sad because I thought about the ramifications. My best friend is enjoying her pregnancy and growing this baby. Somewhere in a country far away a woman is pregnant. She is carrying a child. She is probably filled with joy and anxiousness and all the other feelings a pregnant momma has. But she will not get to be his momma. She will not get to see him take his first steps or say his first word. She will not teach him to read or write or hold him close when he wakes with a bad dream. And although I will never meet her or speak with her our hearts are knit together. She and I will share a love for a little baby boy. A love that only her and I will ever understand. And somehow I wish it did not have to be this way. But I will be so grateful and so happy to be his mommy. And I will never forget the feelings that I have when thinking about her loss and the loss that our little boy will suffer. It is heartbreaking. So my soul continues to be restless. Restless and hurting and longing for the day when I can finally see his face and hold him in my arms. My only comfort comes in knowing that long ago God prepared us to be his family. He prepared us to be there when she could not. And I find my only peace in knowing this is what he has planned for our family.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Garage Sale




The garage sale is over. We made over $5,000.00 and I learned a few things in this process. Some things I already knew, but was reminded of once more. Here they are:



1. God is incredibly faithful!

We asked God to provide us with $5,000.00. We prayed and waited and did not try to manipulate the situation. And He provided. Not only did He provide the money we needed but everything surrounding the whole sale was orchestrated perfectly. Each day we recieved phone calls or emails from people donating stuff. It was never more than we could handle in a single day. It was always at perfect timing. He orchestrated every detail!



2. We have an incredible support group!

Thursday evening about 10 people came to our house to help set up and get this thing organized. I did not ask anyone. People simply found out what we were doing and asked when they could come over. Friday morning 9 people showed up to help. My parents, Todds mom, Todds and dad and stepmom, my brother and his fiance, my best friend, and our dear friend Kathy. My brothers fiance spent the entire day tirelessly watching our kids. There was not one moment the entire day that people were not there shopping. I had no time to even sit and definitely could not have watched the kids on my own. My mom cleaned my kitchen like a dozen times in the three days. People were running here and there and offering to help in anyway they could. My dad went to buy lunch for everyone because when I planned lunch I was only planning for a couple people. My brother was a champion at organizing. I never even realized he was so good at sorting kids clothing! But he brought order and made the sale much smoother. Todds mom worked tirelessly both days and did anything we needed. She even took the dog for a walk one day because the dog was causing chaos. Todds dad and stepmom worked early and late and on Saturday took our kids away for a fun date. They were so sick of the yard sale! My dear friend Kathy did anything needed including taking a table to a strangers house because it would not fit in the car. My best friend showed up early and stayed late even though she is pregnant and had to work each day. Todds brother and sister inlaw came and carried boxes and sorted clothing and helped us get prepped. This is only the people who helped at the sale. So many friends and family donated stuff and money! I was moved to tears like 100 times in that week. We are so blessed and could never repay any of you for your generosity and sacrifice! We love you.





3. Adoption is so beautiful!

Throughout the sale I heard story after story of families who came to shop who had either adopted children of their own or were adopted as children. Adoption is such a beautiful thing and the stories I heard are treasured in my heart. One woman came to shop with two teenage boys. After talking with her she explained that she had adopted the two boys when they were toddlers. After the family left, the two teenage boys came back and donated a tv and computer and a few other items for us to sell. They were touched by our need and gave to us from hearts of thankfulness.






Thank you Lord for providing! And thank-you to everyone who gave stuff, money or time! We are so grateful for your support!

Sunday, September 12, 2010

All to Him I owe

"I hear the Savior say, Thy strength indeed is small; Child of weakness, watch and pray, Find in Me thine all in all.”

I was listening to those lyrics at church this morning and it struck a cord in my heart. I have struggled and sought and have been trying to make it to the right path. I have tried to manipulate and make things happen on my own. But it was not until I said, "I don't know what to do or how this will work" that God made it happen.

My strength indeed is small. My resources are small. My willingness is small. But God is big. My God is big.

Todd and I made the decision to begin our adoption process and then we decided to wait until we had the $5,000.00 needed for the home study and agency fees. We bgan to pray that God would bring $5,000.00 our way. And we waited. About a month ago, I was pretty sad. I felt like we had heard from God. I felt like this is what He wanted, but the money was not much closer. We were saving, but I knew that we needed something other than ourselves to make this adoption happen. The whole process will cost somewhere around $20,000. So I prayed. One night sad and frustrated from the depths of my heart, I cried. "God, I thought this is what you wanted. I thought you would provide this money. But its not here." I told no one of my frustrations. Not even my husband. The very next day my dear friend Kathy told Todd she wanted to do a garage sale for us to raise money. We had not even told her we had decided to do the adoption for sure. God answered, "Child of weakness, watch and pray, find in me thine all in all." And I have been utterly blown away by the generosity and support we are recieving. I know that this is nothing short of the hand of God. I can never repay this debt. I can never earn it.

I am utterly thankful. From the depths of my heart. My resources are small. But my God is big. My faith is small. But my God is big. My heart is weak. But my God is big. He has paid it all. All to Him I owe.

The chorus of the song goes like this, "Jesus paid it all, All to Him I owe; Sin had left a crimson stain, He washed it white as snow."

Thank you Lord. Thank you for paying the penalty for my sin. And that alone would have been enough, but you continue to meet my needs and fulfill me. You continue to lead me and provide. Thank you for being a big God.

I just read a post on a blog from a family who has adopted 5 children. It is heart wrenching, and you should read it for yourself, http://buildingtheblocks.blogspot.com/2010/09/while-we-wait.html. But the part that made me smile was this: "While we wait for God to provide...He waits for us to take the first step so He can."

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Updates And Adoption


It has been almost a month since my last post. Crazy how quickly time flies. I have not been posting for a few reasons.


1. We had Claire's birthday party. And as much as I try to keep things simple I tend to be a perfectionist and stress about the tiniest little details. And because I absolutely love baking, I try to always make my kids some really fun birthday cake. Claire's cake was totally fun, but it probably took some years off my life with the amount of time that I spent stressing over it. It turned out great, but it was time consuming.
And I think I tend to worry too much about what my house looks like and how clean something is, so I spent a lot of time in the weeks prior deep cleaning everything.

(On a side note totally random thought, one of my dearest friends came over to watch the kiddos for me so I could suprise Todd with a random afternoon date and I totally stressed about my house being clean. Well, I ran all around that afternoon trying to clean up the morning madness and in my haste threw all the morning dirty clothes down the basement steps. The basement looked horrid, but I reasoned that there was no reason for her to see it, so I need not worry about it. Our basement is not finished and I avoid it at all costs. Now, it just so happened that on that afternoon a tornado hit our area and when we came home guess where my lovely friend and our kiddos were? The basement. I was totally humbled and she had to laugh and tell me she was totally thinking how my house could be so perfect and then she saw the basement and it evened out. Gotta love those moments.)


2. We had a great week long vacation. It was totally rejuvenating and so wonderful. We visited some great friends and spent a lot of family time. More too come about our trip later.



3. We all experienced a yucky midsummer flu bug. And some of us got it more than once. It was not pretty and not fun. No more details needed.



4. We have decided we are adopting.
We have thrown the idea around for some time, but after praying and talking Todd and I have decided to move in that direction. We are only in the beginning stages, but most likely we will be adopting from Ethiopia. One of my dearest friends, Kathy, offered to help us do a garage sale to raise funds for the adoption. So in the past week I have been super busy with trying answer questions and arrange for people to drop off their donated items. I am already super blown away by the generosity of our friends and family. I will definitely be blogging more about this in the months ahead. And will be planning to blog a little more frequently this month.


That is the short version for now. More to come.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Labels

We have two great kids. One of our kids, however, tends to be a little more defiant than the other. I never realized how compliant Elizabeth was until Claire was born. I realize now a whole new standard of being tested. Claire is the type of personality that is not content to just go along with what the crowd is doing or what mommy says. She needs to test and tempt. She is, however, learning very quickly to obey. And most of the time she is very well behaved and obedient. She is a good girl.

We went to vote the other day and Todd and I had both of the kids with us. Elizabeth was quietly standing next to daddy, but Claire was grabby and curious and not doing well at standing still. Now, honestly, she is a 23 month old. How still can you expect her to be? But one of the poll volunteers made a comment about how Claire was much more testy than her sister. She was definitely testing the limits a bit more, but I was quick to tell the lady that although she was more curious than her sister, she was just as well behaved. She was a good girl. And the curious and discontent people are usually the ones ruling the world.

Claire will test the limits and boundaries in her life for sure. That is part of who she is. She is naturally bent to lead and not follow. But she will either submit to the leading of the Holy spirit and test the limits of the world for Christ or she will deny Him and test all limits. I pray she is lead by the Holy Spirit and denies the things of this world.

But I cannot choose for her. I can, however, point to Christ by example. And every time someone is quick to make a judgement about her I will be there to defend. I never want her to think she is "the bad girl".

Now, several people have made this comment to me about her in the past. So, if you are thinking you have done it, please do not think I hold a grudge. I probably do not even remember everyone who said it because I have heard it several times. I do not think bad of you for making the comment. I just want to always expect and pull out the best out of my children. And so that means I try my hardest to not allow labels to be stuck on them.

It breaks my heart when I hear parents say, within earshot of their kids, "He's got a devil side to him.", "She is so hard to control", "He is my trouble child." This is not to say that we never struggle with our kids or their behavior. Believe me, I have spent countless hours scouring the Internet with the words "how to discipline your defiant child" in my google search. I am no stranger to having trouble with my kids. I just think when we give them labels that are bad we make the bar of expectation really low. And no wonder they live up to it day after day.

I have never said that Claire was a bad girl, but she used to call herself a bad girl a lot. She would throw her cup on the floor and say, "Bad girl." Isn't it funny how they pick up on other peoples perceptions of them? (Scratch that I think I said it once because she was saying it so often, it just came out of my mouth.) I try to tell her very often that she is a very good girl. And I don't think she has said she was a bad girl in a long time. I have two very good girls, so even if you see one of them behaving a little out of the ordinary for a good girl, can you help me by reminding her of what a good girl she is? She responds really well to being reminded of how she should behave. She is, after all, a good girl.

Monday, August 2, 2010

The heart of the matter

Yesterday at church one of our staff members gave a great message. Within the message was the point about how when we parent our kids we have so many expectations about the outside. We expect them to sit properly, wear proper clothes, say please and thank-you and obey. These are all fine expectations, but sometimes we miss the heart. A child may begrudgingly say please to get the thing they want, but totally have a heart that is not thankful. The point, I think in saying please is to teach them that they cannot demand everything they want. We can change the outside behavior sometimes, but miss the heart completely.

I have thought of this before. I have felt like so many times I parent with the idea that other people are watching. Other people are looking at my kids and see how they are behaving. And I feel like their behavior is a reflection of me. I am not saying it isn't. I truly believe most of the time when young children are unruly it has something to do with how they are being parented. If you have ever watched an episode of Super Nanny you will see that most of the time it is the parents who need to learn how to deal with their kids and the kids usually learn pretty quickly what behavior is acceptable when they are taught correctly. My kids behave well when I am consistently teaching them good behavior. But sometimes they do not do what they are taught. They are, after all, human and they slip up. And those moments it is easy to feel the pressure to make them straighten up.

We have a very dear friend who lost her husband last week. In the wake of the tragedy we were trying to figure out how we can help. My best friend, who happens to be the widows sister, has a daughter the same age as Elizabeth. I talked with her and knew that she needed some clothes for her little girl to wear to the funeral. Elizabeth has a really cute black and white dress that I knew Bella would love and would be appropriate. Elizabeth adores the dress and I knew that it would make Bella smile to be able to wear it. I asked Elizabeth if she would allow Bella to borrow her dress. At first she said no. She did not want to loan it out. I tried to reason with her and tried to coax her into letting Bella wear it. I told her it would make Bella smile because Bella was very sad. She was determined. My mind was racing because I had already told my friend she could borrow it. But I felt a clear sense that I needed to allow Elizabeth to work this out in her heart and make the decision to give on her own. I could force her to give, but I knew that we do not get any value when we are forced to give something. But the times when I have willingly given to someone from my heart it blesses me more than them. So, I reasoned that even if I could not loan her the dress, I would allow Elizabeth to decide. Even if that meant I had to buy Bella another dress to wear, I was leaving it up to Elizabeth to give it.

Her decision was no. I thought about this and decided that because her heart was being selfish the dress should remain in my closet for an undisclosed amount of time. I wanted her to be free to give, but also I wanted her to understand that with selfishness come consequences. I came to her and explained that because she was not willing to give to her friend, who was in need, the dress would remain in my closet and she was not allowed to wear it. I left Elizabeth alone and a few moments later she came to me and asked if she could let Bella wear the dress. And she wanted to throw in her favorite purple and brown tights to go with it. I explained that she may give the dress still if she wanted, but we would keep the tights, as nice as a that was.

We took the dress to my friend shortly after that and Elizabeth wanted to hold it and give it to her friend. She gave her the dress and it made her smile.

I am not sure that everything I did in this situation was perfect. That is the interesting thing about parenting. We kind of learn as we go. I pray a lot for wisdom. I read a lot. I ask questions. But a lot of times I miss it. I miss what is going on in my little girls hearts. Even if they are saying please and thank-you and doing all the right things it is all for nothing if the heart is not engaged.

You see the Bible gives us a great example of a man who had it all right on the outside, but his heart was all wrong. In Luke 15:11-31 we are told the parable of the prodigal son. We have all heard the story. A son leaves his father and squanders his inheritance on wild living and then comes crawling home expecting to be a slave, only to be welcomed with open arms. His father throws a grand party in his honor. But not everyone was happy. You see he had an older brother. An older brother who did everything right. He was obedient and seemingly did all the father asked for, but his heart was missing. Because in the one moment when he should have been celebrating with his father, he was rude and hurtful and just as disrespectful as his younger brother. He was just as wrong as the prodigal son. Only he looked a lot like a "good" son should.

I fear that I will be content with children who look good on the outside. God, our father, cares far more about the condition of our hearts than if out lives are spotless. I want to care more about the condition of my kids hearts too.

And I think that will look messy. Interestingly enough, the speaker at church said, "You may see my boys walking around here sometimes saying words that do not belong in church. And that's OK with me. I care far more when they call each other stupid or jerk than even when they use a curse word. Because I care about their hearts." My kids are far from perfect. I am far from perfect. God is still working on my heart and I pray my kids allow Him to work on theirs. In the mean time when you see us we will probably be a little messy.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Jiminy Cricket

I was listening to a radio broadcast last night and I heard a pastor talking about a book he had written. It was all about lies that Christians believe. One of the truths that really hit home to me was "Let your conscience be your guide."

I have heard this many times. Your conscience, according to some, is what tells you right from wrong. It sounds good. It even sounds true. But the truth is our conscience is not to be our guide. Our conscience merely reminds us when we our going outside of what we believe is "good." The conscience cannot be the absolute truth and final authority. If it was, then why do so many people believe different things about right and wrong? Why do individuals even change their mind about what they think is right within their lifetime, if the conscience is the final authority?

We cannot let what we believe about right and wrong dictate how we behave. So many would have total peace and think it was absolutely fine to love those who love us and hate those who hate us. It seems completely justified to mistreat someone who has mistreated you. And most people would have clear conscience about such behavior.

What do we do then with verses like this...
Matthew 5:43-48 "You have heard it was said, 'Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.' But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons of your father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your brothers, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly father is perfect."

It is not natural to love your enemies. Well, at least for me it's not easy. It does not feel like I am doing the right thing, necessarily. My conscience feels completely justified in treating them the way they treat me.

So either my conscience is wrong or God's word is wrong. I happen to believe that the Bible is the perfect, infallible word of the living God. So, I need to believe that I cannot trust my conscience. If you also believe in the Word of God then I encourage you to mistrust yours as well. I challenge you that if you have "peace" about something that the Bible states is wrong your peace is not from the Lord. And you are obeying something other than God's word.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Neighbor

We have lived in our home for 5 years. Our home is in a unique spot. We have only one real neighbor. They live across the street. An elderly couple. They have lived in their home for over 40 years. Bob, the man, is pretty set that he wants things within our little nook to be the way he likes it. During the past 5 years we have had our share of neighbor issues. Bob does not like that our lawn is sometimes a little long. He does not like when we leave things on our porch. He has expressed to us countless times the many things he does not like that we do.
I have tried to be respectful of him. I have become pretty angry at some of the things that he does. But I have tried to be kind. We bake them cookies. We wave and say hi when we go outside. Our kids get so excited to see him and his wife and they beg to go and talk to them. I actually am pretty fond of his wife, Nancy. She is a sweet Christian woman. I have prayed with her on our lawn a few times. She bakes us goodies and brings presents to the kids at Christmas time.
But today Bob crossed a line. He came over to the house tonight. I was gone and Todd was inside playing with the kids. Todd opened the door and Bob proceeded to tell him that we needed to "shut that F***ing dog up." Todd had been playing with the kids and apparently the dog was outside. Todd said he heard her barking and that it may have gone on for about 5 minutes. But Bob was livid. He told Todd that we needed to not let her bark or he was going to sue us. This is not the first time he complained about our dog. I tend to not let her bark for a long time. But the reality is that sometimes when you have kids going outside to get the dog is not the priority. So she might bark for 5 minutes while I am changing a diaper or helping Liz go potty. Or sometimes it is because I am in the middle of 400 things at once and Riley is bottom of the totem pole. But she rarely ever barks for longer than 5 minutes. Except for the occasion two years ago, that Bob still remembers, when we were at a wedding rehearsal and we had a babysitter for our kids. The babysitter apparently left the dog out for 1/2 hour barking. Bob called us to tell us to get the dog inside. I am pretty sure that our dog barking does not warrant being sued. But anyway. I am not so angry that he "hates dogs" as he told Todd. And I am not really angry that everything we do is under his scrutiny. I am more upset that when Todd came in my girls had to ask why Bob was yelling at their daddy. I am mad that he would have such arrogance and disrespect to come to my home and treat my husband that way in front of our kids. I mad that he thinks that he has the right to tell us exactly how we should behave within his radius. I am upset that he threatens to sue us over our dog barking for 5 minutes when just a few months back he ran a skidster over our septic field.
I was reminded in my anger of the verse Matthew 5:44 "But I tell you: love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you." (NIV) I did not feel like praying for him. I do not feel like loving him. But then Todd told me that after he came in the house and the girls asked why Bob behaved that way, Todd told them that Bob was having a bad day and then my kids prayed for him. It is so simple. And I will pray for him. And I will love him. And maybe we will make them cookies.
I feel a bit better after praying for him and after my blog therapy.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Polar Bears and Cleaning



I am not quite sure when it began. Whenever I clean the kitchen floor I take all of the table chairs and line them up in such a way to block the kids in the living room. It gets the chairs out of the way and creates a barricade to keep them from running in my dirt piles. But now for some reason whenever I create the barricade Elizabeth pretends they are in a polar bear cave. The polar bears are sometimes friendly, sometimes sleeping, sometimes very mean. We have sung them lullabies and the kids have made them dinner all in attempts to keep them from attacking.

Today I made the polar bear cave and cleaned the floor. Today the polar bear games continued long after the barricade was returned to the table. While I was putting away a basket of laundry upstairs I heard scurrying little feet. And when I came down to see what was going on I was informed that one of the polar bears attacked Claire and hurt her very badly. Claire was being nursed back to health by Elizabeth. Elizabeth held a play kitchen pot-holder around Claire's arm for about 15 minutes. I was extremely surprised that Claire sat still for that long and that Elizabeth was willing to sit and hold it on her for that amount of time.

Fast forward to lunch time. Elizabeth was doing way more playing than eating and way more talking than she should have. Elizabeth then informed me that the polar bears were coming to the table and we needed to stop eating. I told her that I had put special polar bear repellent in her mac and cheese and veggies and if she ate them the polar bears would not be able to get her.
This was very intriguing to her. She asked all sorts of question.


Where did you get this stuff?

My pocket.

Can I see it?

No it is invisible.

Is it in there?

Yes.

Is it in there for real?

Well, no not for real. But the polar bears are only pretend, so we can pretend we have repellent.


Mom saves the day again.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Michaels Part Two and Saying No

I went back to Michaels today to purchase cake pan number two and use 40% off coupon number two. I found said pan and went to check out lane. After waiting for a moment Elizabeth announced she had to pee and when I told her she needed to wait she proclaimed, "It's coming out." So we quickly ran to the back of the store to the restroom. Used restroom and came back to the line which of course had grown. We waited in line and while waiting my eye was drawn to a super cute gift card holder. I thought to myself, "I think I will get that." Immediately I used my brain and told myself, "No way. They will not win." You see I understand that the whole reason they wanted me to come back to the store twice was because I might buy more if I am in the store one more time. So I resisted the urge to buy the super cute gift card holder and reasoned that sticking a gift card in a card is much more practical. We made our purchase and I actually saved only $8.00. $8.00 is still a savings.
Then we promptly left and went to Mcdonalds where I spent $7.00 for lunch. Anyone see the humor in that? Ohh well.
I went to Mcdonalds because I read an article yesterday that said when at all possible say yes to your kids. Now, the article was not trying to turn our children into some self centered brats. It is important that we do not give our child every single thing they ask for. They cannot think they are the center of the universe. Or they will behave like that. It was simply pointing out that we as moms have to say no a lot. We have to say no for a lot of good and practical reasons. Like when my child asks if they can jump off the back of the couch. I say no because I do not want her to break her head. I say no when she wants to stay up past bedtime because she needs rest and so do I. I say no when she wants to take some toy from her sister. I say no a lot and my kids are better off for it. But, sometimes we say no without any real reason. We simply say no because we are programed in our brains to say no. Like when Elizabeth asks for the 500th time if she can paint. I say no because I don't want to clean it up. Or when they ask if they can color. I say no because I am busy and do not want to stop and find crayons and paper. I say no and do not even know why sometimes. So today I said yes. We were leaving Michaels and Elizabeth asked if we could go to the play area at Mcdonalds. I thought about it for a moment and almost said no. No because we have perfectly good food at home. No because it costs money and is not the healthiest meal. But then I did not say anything at all. Instead I drove in the direction of Mcdonalds and when we were getting close to the driveway Elizabeth said, "Mom, can we go?" I said, "I don't know hunny." And as I pulled in the parking lot there were shrieks of excitement. We went in and they played and then we ate lunch. It was fun and I am glad I said yes. Yes to Mcdonalds and no to the gift card holder. Michaels did not win today.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Dear Michaels

Dear Michaels-
I am not really angry at you. Just a bit agitated that today of all days I was serviced by the one person in your store who follows rules and would not allow me to use my two 40% off coupons at the same time. I was buying two of the exact same items. Two large sheet cake pans. The 40% off coupon would allow me to save about $9.00. I really wanted to buy both of those cake pans today. This would save me a lot of energy and prevent me from having to drag my two children back into your store on a whole other day. You see we have a lot of very important summer activities we need to be doing. Like swimming and playing and anything other than taking two kids under three into your store. I was even willing to have two separate orders, so it would seem like I was two different customers. But no. Today, of all days, the person who waited on me decided it was very important to follow the rules. More important than making me drag my children back into your store on another day. So if on the day that we return one of my children happens to break something I will not be held responsible.

Sincerely,
Return customer

(Ok, so I really would not allow my children to break something. I do try to reign then in when we are out in public. And I am not really angry. But just irked because I have seen cashiers bend the rules for customers and I was just hoping I would get one of those cashiers today. But alas I did not. God is probably trying to teach me something. Like maybe we should follow rules. Or maybe, I just needed a good laugh. I like that one better. )

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Dreams

Sometimes I feel like I have so much going on in my head that I want to burst. By nature I am a people person. I crave and thrive with interaction. That can be a bit discouraging when you are a mom of young kids. So often the only interaction I get in a day is with the three and under crowd. I love it. Don't get me wrong. I really love being a mom. It is like a dream come true. I adore my children and I take the role very seriously, but I dream some days of doing different things.

I dream of speaking publicly. I dream of sharing my heart and my God with other women and moms. I dream of being able to use the life experiences I have had to help other people. I dream of standing beside other women and encouraging them.

Its hard to share my dreams. In all honesty, I am a bit afraid to share that. Afraid that maybe I will never do any of those things and I will look silly for admitting them. I am afraid that maybe I will do those things and fail miserably. But I dream of other things too.

I dream that one day we will adopt a son. I dream one day we will bring a baby into our home that needs a family and that our lives will be forever changed by him.

I dream that our family will live in real community with those around us. I dream that our church friends can become more like our church family and we will not feel so alone some times. That we will be and look like the early church that gave and shared and sacrificed for one another.

I dream that my children will grow to know and serve the living God. I dream that they would follow Him all of their days. I dream that when my children think about their mother they will think about a woman who led them to Jesus and loved them with grace and compassion.

I dream that I will be a woman who brings good to her husband all the days of his life. I dream that I will love him and give to him more than he does to me. I dream that I would think about his welfare above my own. I dream that our marriage would defy all odds and look so different from the cultural norm.

I dream that I would love God and pursue Him with every breath I take. I dream that at the end of my days he would say to me, "Well done. Good and faithful servant."

And I guess, if I am honest, even if all of my other dreams do not come true, if the last one does, nothing else matters.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

What the future holds

I have been thinking about the things that I desire for my life. Lately my mind has been so occupied with the things that I forget to take in the moments. Many of the "things" are good, wonderful, excellent things, but when I turn my eyes upon those and focus on them instead of the Lord I am unhappy and discontent.
So today I want to say thank you to the Lord. Thank you for taking control of my life and comforting me even in the hard times. Thank you for leading me and directing my path.
From the first moments I can remember thinking about my future I always wanted to be a mom and wife. It was so strong and the desire was so real. I wondered if it would ever be. I worried that for some reason God would give me the exact opposite of every thing I desired. (I am not sure where that thought comes from). I thought I may never get married and therefore live my life as a single, christian spinster.
I remember when I was about 17 years old I was in a season of life where I was making tough decisions. (College, majors and etc.) I was really anxious and filled with so much doubt about what the future may hold. One day God spoke so clearly to me through the Bible. It was like he wrote this verse specifically for me. 1st John 4:16-18 And so we know and rely on the love that God has for us, God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in him. In this way love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgement, because in this world we are like him. There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love." (NIV) That verse brought so much peace to me. It reminded me that the God that I am trusting with the future loves me and cares for me.
That was almost 10 years ago. Over the past 10 years my dreams have come true. I was blessed to marry a wonderful man and we were blessed with two beautiful children. Every day of the past 10 years was not easy. Everything did not happen the way I hoped or wished. But I am so thankful that God did not do everything my way. And I think back to the fears and worries I held onto 10 years ago and I want to go back and tell that young woman to trust. I want to tell her to let go of her fears and rely on God. He will take care of you. No matter what the future holds.
I want to tell that young woman that and yet today I find that same young woman alive and well in me. I find myself worrying and struggling to control the future. I find myself full of fear and thinking that the worst will be what comes about. Why is it so easy for me to forget? Why do I think that the God who controlled and comforted me in the past will abandon me in the future?
I would like to tell you that I will stop. I would like to say that I am full of faith and hope for the future. Sometimes I am. Some days are good. But some days I am still so full of fear and doubt. I cling to those fears and worries like a life raft. It is easier if I live one moment at a time. So in this moment, I am thankful. I am content. I am trusting. I am hoping. I am believing. I am praising my creator and clinging to Him. And in those moments He reminds me that even while I cling to my false life savers he holds me and leads me. He is faithful even when I am not. I am relying on His love.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Daddy


In honor of fathers day, I want to share with you about my daddy. He is handsome, isn't he?
My daddy is my hero. He is a man who has always taken care of my brother and I. Growing up, dad always made sure we had everything we needed and most of what we wanted. He worked hard and long hours to provide for our family. And he took good care of us. He and my mom sacrificed so many of their plans and dreams to give us the things we needed.
My daddy is the one that I can call anytime of day and he will drop anything to be there if I need him. At times I have called him in a panic. One day, Claire locked herself in her bedroom and I could not open the door. I called Todd and he said he was coming straight home, but he was working about a half hour away. He suggested I call my dad. I did and in about 10 minutes my daddy was there and had my girl free. He drops everything to run when I need him. For that I am thankful. He is a busy man. He has about two hundred phone calls a day. So many people demand his time and attention. But whenever I need him, he comes no matter what.
My daddy has no formal business education and yet he built a thriving business from the ground up. He is super intelligent and is in high demand in his field.
I am so thankful that I was blessed with my daddy! I love you dad. Happy fathers day!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Blue Bowl

We have a blue plastic bowl in our house that we use for the kids baths. I am not really sure where it came from. I do not remember it pre-baby. But as far back to our first child and first days of bathing I remember the blue bowl. It has been incredibly useful. We use it to rinse out hair and entertain children. It can even be found to be used as a doggy water dish in the middle of the night. It sits in the bathroom with the kids bath toys. It is not treated well. It is washed periodically with other bath toys and rinsed out along with the bathwater. It is not noble. But it is extremely useful. It has, at times, come up missing. And I always miss it when bath time comes, if it is not accessible. This extremely un-special object is integral to our daily life.

I have been thinking lately about being like the blue bowl. You see in God's kingdom I often want to do something really noble and profound. We pray for God to use us in great things. We pray that we could have huge impacts. And then so often we feel the drudgery of the day to day. Nothing really grand happens. No big call to duty. And it is here, that I have been living. Today I heard the soft whisper of the holy spirit beckoning me to be like the blue bowl.
Romans 9:21 "Does not the potter have the right to make out of the same lump of clay some pottery for noble purposes and some for common use?" (NIV)

It is here that I sit. I wake up change diapers, change clothes, brush hair, brush teeth, make breakfast, wipe counters, wipe faces, wipe butts, wipe noses, change clothes, make lunch, wipe counters, wipe faces, change diapers, put down for nap, do laundry, do dishes, change diapers, make dinner, wipe counters, wipe faces, put to bed. During all of this I referee 10,000 fights over some toy or some child who does not want to play some game that the other wishes to play. I hear 10,000 mommy I need this, mommy do this, mommy hold you. I feel pulled and torn and lonely. I feel like my life is not profound or noble or useful. But I am reminded that within the day to day, life happens. Minutes turn to hours, hours turn to days, days to weeks, weeks to months, months to years. I may feel like the minutes do not matter. But when my child asks me to hold them and I do, they are being loved. When I wipe noses and butts and counters without complaining my children see the fruits of the spirit. When I respond with patience, even in the midst of extreme circumstances, I am teaching them how to love.

It is humbling and the weight of that job is too much. Thankfully, I am told John 15:5 "I am the vine and you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing." When I am daily and every moment abiding in my Lord, I can live this life. And even the ordinary things can become great.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Redemption

So my faith is restored, at least for the gentlemen. Yesterday, while I was walking into the mall with my double stroller a guy actually came from inside the store to the outside to hold the door for me. And then he even walked to the next set of doors and held those. And it was totally out of the goodness of his heart. He had a beautiful young woman by his side and I proceeded to tell him thank you and tell her that she had snagged a very good man! Nice job mall door holder man! You have redeemed your sex in the chivalry department.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

BP

I have heard a million opinions on the BP oil spill. And to add to the mix I want to share my thoughts.

First of all it is a tragedy. The animals and wildlife that will be hurt or killed is devastating. The people who are losing their livelihood as a result of the spill is devastating. The fisherman who cannot fish and small town bait shops and such that cannot sell are truly heartbreaking. It is sad and awful. But it was an accident. I have no idea why or how it happened. I am sure when the smoke clears we will find out some very technical thing that went wrong that caused this tragic accident. It was most likely some sort of human error. But that is the human element. We are imperfect and make mistakes. Someone screwed up. And someone screwed up big time.

I do, however, think that in the wake of this tragedy BP has handled themselves well. I do not think they were perfect. The CEO clearly made some rough comments in the beginning. But they are committed to cleaning up this mess. They could have walked away. They could have broken the lease and walked away and said this was the government's mess. They did not. They chose to stay and devote man power to fixing it.

So as Christians, I think our response should be to pray for them. We should pray for the leak to be fixed quickly and for the people in charge to have wisdom to fix this mess. And I think we should buy BP gasoline. I have heard people call for a boycott on BP stations. I think it is riciculus
BP does not make the majority of their revenue from BP stations anyway. If you boycott your local BP station the only people that will suffer will be your local BP franchise holder. A local small business person. That is who will suffer. A small business owner who is trying to feed their family and pay their bills. Is it their fault? And in all honesty now is not the time for a boycott. I seem to get this sense from some people that simply because BP makes a lot of money they are evil. I do not think BP intentionally spilled tons of oil into the ocean. Can we seriously believe that? Does anyone really? Someone made a mistake and it was probably not the CEO. It was probably some midlevel employee working to feed his family and pay his mortgage. Someone certainly made a big mess.

We can choose to hate BP and not shop at BP stations. We can, but I really don't think it will hurt BPs bottom line. In the end we will only be hurting someone like ourselves. We can choose forgiveness and work towards a solution. That would be far better.

And also I think we still need to keep drilling. We are dependent on oil for our way of life. Do we need to find a better way? Absolutely. But in the mean time I do not like the idea of being completely dependant upon the Middle east for our very way of life. Aren't these the very people who have flown planes into our buildings and killed thousands of American citizens. Now I know not every person in the Middle East is a terrorist. But how do we know who we can trust? How do we know that some terrorist group will not infiltrate our oil supply? It seems to me that we have branded the wrong bad guys.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Ladies and Gentlemen

So I need to rant. When did we as a society lose the ability to be gracious? Here is what is bugging me....

Ladies-
When did it become appropriate for 16 year old girls to wear shorts that say "SEXY" on the rear end? When did wearing a shirt that covers your bra become optional? It is suddenly acceptable for bra straps, and or snaps to be showing. If you do not have a bra that cannot be seen under a certain shirt then I think the shirt is what needs to go, not your bra. When did a swimsuit become appropriate attire for the grocery store? Why in the world do people buy shorts that do not even cover the whole butt cheek? And when did these hideous t-shirts that say things like "It's all about me", or "I am so Hot" become acceptable attire? If we cannot act like ladies than men will not treat us like one. It makes a lot of sense. I see far too many women acting like men or even worse looking like hookers.

Men-
While walking into MCDS the other day an elderly man dressed in nice clothes completely dropped the door in my face and the face of another elderly woman. He saw us. He clearly saw we were behind him. Ok, so even if you do not feel like standing there and being the doorman and letting everyone go in front of you at least hold the door behind you. When did slamming the door in the face of women become a manly thing to do? And seriously, do you know how many times I have struggled with my double stroller to make it into some door when there was a young man right there who could have easily held the door for me? Maybe if I wear something that says "SEXY" on my rear they will notice and hold the door. I give up.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Broken

Has your heart ever been truly broken? My head has so much swirling around inside of it. But my heart is broken.

I weep for the millions of orphans who have no one to hold them and comfort their tears. For the children who cry but have no comfort. For the children who are cold and have no shelter. For the bellies that are hungry and have no nourishment.

I weep for the thousands of foster care teenagers who have never known a true family who will suddenly turn 18 and "age out" of the system. As if that magic number now makes them capable and prepared to face the world.

I weep for the children who live in homes where they are neglected. Homes where mom or dad are too stoned or drunk to notice them. Homes where they never know if they will wake up to a parent who cares or one who has passed out and cannot respond to their needs.

I weep for the children and I wish my tears could fill their need.

My tears cannot. But we can.

I pray for the children. I pray that the Church can do God's will.

James 1:27

Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world. (NIV)

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Marked



It must be the weather. I am thinking that the sudden surge of beautiful weather is making Michigan people feel a little more concern and care because all of a sudden I have heard like a zillion times this week, "What happened to her head?", "Poor baby she got a good bump." If you are wondering what I am talking about I will enlighten you.

My sweet baby Claire was born with a Hemangioma on her fore head. For those of us who did not know that word existed, it is simply a birthmark. When she was born it was barely noticeable. As she grew, it also grew. Now it is only slightly noticeable. Her hair often covers it.

I generally do not get upset when someone says something. And if you happen to be someone who noticed at some point, don't worry. I probably do not even remember. I always try to respond very politely and tell the person asking that it is simply a birthmark. People generally feel really bad for asking and I can tell, so I am not mad at the moment.

But right now I wish to vent. We were walking into a public bathroom a few hours ago and a nice older woman noticed the mark and asked what happened. I politely told her it was a birthmark and walked away. What struck me was when we walked away, Claire repeated, "Birthmark, birthmark." And in my head I wondered, what will she think of herself as she grows? Will she always be self conscious of it? Will she always have to explain that she did not bump her head? Will it simply fade away like so many doctors have told me it would?

I don't know. I want to shelter her. I don't want her to feel like her head looks so awful that people assume she has been dramatically injured. She is desperately beautiful. She has captivating eyes and gorgeous hair. And her spirit draws you in. I want people to notice so much more than her "bump" on the head.

And I know that people generally mean well when they ask. I never even knew such a birthmark existed, so I understand why people ask.

I just have had enough this week.

Here is my girl. Two pictures of her. The bump is just under her hairline. Maybe you can see it. But I hope that you notice so much more.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

TIME

One of my favorite things about Todd is that he values time. When he gets together with a friend he could spend 5-6 hours just talking with them. Time spent with someone is very valuable to him.

Over the course of our life together we have had many different seasons. There was our season of dating when we spent very little time alone together. We were both busy with school, jobs and ministry. There were times after we were married that were extremely hard as well. When we bought our first house we completely gutted every room. Todd would work during the day and then work on our house late into the evening. Sometimes he would work until 2-3 am and then get back up and do it all again. Those seasons were hard, but they have been few.

When we had a family Todd made a commitment to spend time with me and our kids. Quality time cannot be planned. Quality time is quantity time. We can make the best plans to spend a grand day with our children, but then one is crabby or sick and the time is ruined. If that moment was the only one planned in a week it would be lost.

Todd has a lot of things that can demand his attention. He is self employed in the home remodeling business. He is extremely gifted and has plenty of people pulling at his time. He could work 90 hours a week. He has had seasons where he was forced to work many hours at a time, but those are rare. He has made a commitment to be home with us for dinner on most nights. I heard a speaker once say he interviewed some men around 50- 60 years old. These men were in in different professions, but all very successful. The speaker asked each one if they had any regrets in their life. Without fail, every man said he wished he has spent more time with his family. Amazingly all of those men had achieved worldly success, but they all realized they had missed out on something more valuable.

Todd focuses on the things that are most valuable and for that I am thankful. Even seemingly good, valuable worthy things can sometimes draw a man away from his family. Work, ministry, hobbies, sports, and friends can all be good healthy involvements. But when a man sacrifices his wife and children for these things it can be destructive.

That does not mean that Todd does not work hard. He works extremely hard. And that does not mean that he does not have friends or hobbies. He has friends, but the time he spends with those friends has to be much more focused and intentional now. And we both have a huge heart for doing ministry. But in this season of our life our ministry is much more about connecting personally and loving on friends and family than it is about being a part of a specific ministry.

Life has seasons. But we only have one life. Our children are only young once. I am so thankful for a husband who is there to share life and mold them with me.

LOVE STORY part 6

Letter to myself

If I could I would write a letter to myself 6 years ago and give it to me on the night before my wedding here is what I would say...

Dear Jessica-

You are about to marry a man that you love deeply. I know that you feel so much excitement and hope for the future, but here are some things I want you to know.

1. You will not always feel in love.
Marriage is hard. Your feelings of exhilarition will not last. You will have moments when you do not feel like you even like this man you are married to. You will feel like giving up. You will feel like things will never get better. Hold on. Continue to choose to love and respect him. Do things that remind him of your love. Do special things for him even if you do not feel it. For some reason when you choose to love him, despite how you feel, your feelings change. And somewhere along the road you will realize you love him more deeply and completely than you ever thought possible.

2. You are so different from eachother.
You know men and women are different, but you still imagine that he somehow thinks like you. He does not. He thinks so differently from you that sometimes it will blow your mind. Your mind is so much like spagetthi. Everything in your life runs into the other and you can easily shift in a conversation from one noodle to the next. He is like a waffle. He has all these nice little boxes that everything in his life fits into. Think about it like this... You are having a conversation about something going wrong with the car and then quickly throw in that you have dinner plans for Saturday and then Saturday arrives and he acts like he has no clue that you had dinner plans. You will get mad. You will think he was not listening. He was listening, but he was in the box of the car and trying to wrap his brain around a solution. He was not being malicious. He was not being mean. He was trying to help you with the car. He cannot shift as quickly from one box to another. The sooner you figure this out, the easier both of your lives will be. He is not stupid. Do not mistake his unique wiring for stupidity. You will be thankful for his way of thinking many times in your life. He will be your rock when your plate of spaghetti is overflowing. He will help you sort through your mess one issue at a time. You will find yourself coming to him over and over because his way of thinking is so helpful.

3. Give him the benefit of the doubt.
He is a much better man than you even know. He is so full of integrity and genuine love for you. When you are having a conversation with him and he says something that you find offensive, stop and tell him. Ask him what he meant. Chances are he meant something much more kind and loving than the way you took it. He will try to avoid making you upset at all costs, so chances are he will not say something to hurt you intentionally.

4. Sex will get so much better.
In the beginning it will be akward. And it will hurt. It will not be that enjoyable for you. You need to share your feelings. He cares genuinely for how you feel and enjoys sex so much more when you enjoy it with him. You need to talk about sex. You should not be afraid to share with him the things that you like and the things that you dislike. Over time the two of you will learn eachother and believe me it will be soooo enjoyable. ;)

5. Trust Him
The two of you will not always agree with eachother. There will be times in life when you are both wanting to go down different paths. He values your opionion. Share it with him. Share it without whining and he will listen. He will not always agree, but you should submit to him. He will not always make the perfect decision. But he is a good man. He loves the Lord with all of his heart and he genuinely wants to lead your family down the right path. Submit and know that when you do, you are not only showing Todd that you trust him, but you are showing God that you trust Him. Todd may make mistakes, but your heavenly father will never forsake you. And more times than not you will find that Todd made the right decision.

6. Choose your children last.
Today you have no concept of the beautiful gifts that God will bring in the form of your children. But when you have them, be careful to choose your husband before them. Choose your marriage before your kids. It sounds good on paper, but practically it is hard to do. It will be hard to leave your children with a sitter. It will be even harder to leave them overnight or for a weekend. Do it anyway. You will be amazed at how good it will be for you and how healthy your marriage will be when you do. Todd will be with you long after those children are grown and gone. And your children will be ok. They will actually thrive when they know that mommy and daddy love one another.

7. Be quick to apologize.
You are going to say things that you never imagined you could say to the man you love. You are going to be rude to him. You are going to neglect him. You are going to be selfish. You are going to do a lot of things that you should not. Be quick to tell him you are sorry. You will be surprised at how willing to forgive you he is. He will offer you so much more grace than you deserve. Tell him when you are wrong. And tell him quickly. Do not let the night pass. It will make it worse. Do not let your pride keep you from reconciling. You will regret it every time that you do.


You have so much to learn over these next few years. Ultimately I want you to know that you need God much more than you think you do. He will be the rock that sustains you when your marriage is hard. He will be your comfort and the gentle reminder to come back to your husband. He is a good God and he has blessed you tremendously with a good man. Thank Him. Praise Him. Love Him and learn to love your husband more and more.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

MOM




In honor of mothers day I want to share with you about the wonderful woman I call mom...


My mom was the youngest child of the family and at a young age she lost her father. For many years she and her mother struggled along alone. In a time when single mothers were rare. I think this time made her strong. She is one tough woman. She is beautiful and feminine, but she is not afraid of hard work and getting her hands dirty. She can do almost any work that a man can do and do it well. She is not afraid to jump up in one of their excavators and drive it around. She is tiny and petite and you may think when looking at her that she is fragile. But she has been through some tough times and come out strong. She works hard every day of her life. Growing up, I remember numerous times my dad saying, "Can't you just rest?" She was always busy. She worked long hours at a physically demanding job. She came home and cooked for us, cared for us, cleaned the house. She made a nice home for us. Looking back I always saw her busy. As a mom, I now know, she was busy making a home for us. She was busy sacrificing her energy and time and life, so we can be taken care of. I did not realize how much she sacrificed while we were growing up. As a mom, now I know.

My mom worked hard and made a nice life for us. But she also cared for us deeply. I remember my mom taking days off work in the summer and taking us to special places like the water park and play lands. Those times were always times we looked forward to. I also remember being a very small girl having a special time every Friday night where we would watch TGIF together and I would play with her hair. I enjoyed so much the special times she spent with me. Today when I bake cookies with my daughters I think about the special times we used to bake peanut butter cookies with my mom. (We mostly did the eating part.) I am thankful for a mom who cared so much for her family.

My teen years were hard on our relationship. I was hormonal and moody and felt misunderstood. I still remember her giving me cards during that time that said she loved me and was proud of me even though the season was hard.

When I got married and moved away my mom and I began to share a closeness again. She is one of my very best friends. She is the one I call when things are really tough. She is the one who I can count on to come over in the middle of the night. Or the one who comes over when I am sick to make me take a nap and clean my house. She is the one I run to when I need someone to watch the kids in a pinch. And she never complains. In fact when I ask her to watch my kids she is excited for it. She says, "grandchildren are more fun than children." She is still a hard worker and I am not sure how she can clean her house, run a business and still manage to find time for me. But she does. She does it all.

And on Mothers Day I just wanted her to know that I am thankful for her example as a mother. I am thankful for so much that she taught me. And how much she sacrificed and continues to sacrifice for me. Thank you mom for caring so deeply for your family!

Love You Mom!