Monday, December 12, 2011

We Never Learned Anything, We've Always Known That!

So I've been teaching the children home school for almost 4 months now and some days I feel real good about how it's going. The children are learning lots of cool things. The type of curriculum I selected is a circular type where they will learn a little bit about a lot of things. And then as time goes on they will learn more about each of those subjects. I like this style because it helps keep us interested and we don't have many dead horses to beat.

However, other days I feel like I'm beating my head against the wall because my children don't understand what I'm asking. Sometimes I find myself frustrated and angry and other times I find the children frustrated and angry. I think to myself, "why is this so hard?? He should know how to _________." When I catch myself thinking this I take a moment to remember back to the first moment I realized I was going to have to teach my children.

Alexander was not even a year old and was in the bath and he wasn't ready to get out of the tub. I was patient back then, so I happily waited as the water drained. He realized the water was going away and then made his way to the drain. He was very puzzled by the drain and then made attempts to catch the water to keep it from going away. He was confused and looked at us with his baby babble, questioning what was happening and why. I giggled, but Jason was there and he looked at that moment and said, "wow, we are going to have to teach him everything!" I was impressed by that thought. At the time, Alexander didn't know what the drain was or why and how it worked. He didn't know where water came from and where it went. He just knew that bath time was fun and something was happening to end it.

Since then it's been many interesting interactions with him learning about how the world works. And I realize now, though the burden of teaching him does lie with us, he has abundant opportunities to learn from others and the world around him about how it is. It's impressive to see how he deduces 'facts' based on information he has seen or read all the while trying to learn how to separate the fantasy from reality. He has grown SO much!

A later moment that taught me about teaching my children was on Alexander's 3rd birthday, we had a big party and it seemed to me that all his 4 year old friends had signed their name on the birthday card. I was blown away impressed and then I had a slight moment of panic. Alexander knew his letters but how was I going to teach him to combine the correct nine letters in the proper order to write his name? Well, later that week while bathing him we opened his new soap crayons. Naturally, I spelled his name out on the wall, figuring he ought to get used to seeing his name since he had about 360 days to learn how to write it. Well, the boy picked up a crayon and wrote his name. That was it. I took a photo since I couldn't remove the tile to save the first writing. I thought, wow this child is quick, but then I spent the next two years teaching him about his last and middle names. He had no concept of why he would need more than Alexander for a name and down right refused the others... for years! And thinking back, I never explained to him why he would have a middle or last name or why it would be important to know what they are or how to write them. In my big, practically grown up brain the idea of having three or more names was perfectly normal and in fact expected. But to a child, it was ridiculous.

Do you ever wonder how you learned some things? Like learning to ride a bike was probably a big deal so you have a good memory of it, but what about things like how a story is organized, why multiplication works, how to chew gum or how to do jumping jacks? There are so many things we take for granted because we never remember learning them. Then we expect others in the world, our children included, to naturally have that information and capability. It's crazy talk I know. But I'll leave you with this thought (in regards to teaching my children specifically as I really know nothing about anything)

It's equally nice as it is frustrating to already know it all.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

30 Days of Gratitude: Day 30

Day 30: What's Different?

This is the official last day to be thankful. But what has changed? Well, the thing that has changed is that I'm looking at so many things with an eye of thankfulness. This list that I followed was a random one I googled and unlike so many other thankfulness runs it was not based on the things that made me happy in the moment (though there was some of that and nor is that a bad way to be thankful). But this list challenged me to be thankful for things I honestly rarely think about. I'm thankful I took on this challenge and have new eyes for gratitude. I hope you enjoyed the last 30 days as well. For we are now into Advent season and it is a wonderful time of beauty and anticipation. Let's go forward from here and see if we can continue our attitude of gratitude. It can continue on as a daily challenge... I'm even contemplating a longer than 30 days challenge, but don't hold your breath=D

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

30 Days of Gratitude: Day 29

Day 29: Parenting People

Today I am grateful for those parents out there that do it righter than I do. I'm excited to have people that can parent multiple children without any of them being classified as the typical 'middle child.' For parents that have successfully raised children up to love Christ and have them follow Him in their own passions. I am thankful for parents who have shown me that even through the awkward stages of childhood, the parent can still be the most important influence, voice of reason and friend in that child's life. I'm thankful for parents that have shown me that children do make their own choices but with our help, guidance, passion, honesty and openness they will be fully equipped to make their choices and they will likely make the 'right' choice. I'm thankful for parents that have shown me that even when their children make the wrong choice, that love, grace and forgiveness go further than any punishment. I am thankful for those parents that have no limitations when it comes to loving the children around them, even if they aren't the parents. No child can have too much love! Today I am thankful for those parental units that have crossed my path and shown me that I am not alone and this really is the most difficult and rewarding job I'll ever have.

30 Days of Gratitude: Day 28

Day 28: In the Moment.

Well, I am continuing on my day late streak so thinking back to yesterday a moment I was thankful was when I woke up in my warm bed. I woke up without the alarm and before anyone else was up. I'm so thankful for quiet moments like that.

Monday, November 28, 2011

30 Days of Gratitude: Day 27

Day 27: Medical Miracles

So today I am thankful for Medical Miracles and though I am unaware of most of them I have a few I could be thankful for, like organ transplants! One particularly amazing story I heard on TV about a boy in St. Jude's with bone cancer in his femur was that they were able to replace his femur with a titanium femur that they could regularly, without further surgeries, make grow to match the rate of growth of his other leg. AMAZING!!! It makes me wonder what other kind of awesomeness they do at St. Judes. I'm so thankful for those willing to live life how God has called them and then use their passion and capabilities to improve life. What modern medical miracles are you thankful for today?

Saturday, November 26, 2011

30 Days of Gratitude: Day 26

Day 26: Next Generation

Today as we consider all the opportunities our children allow for thankfulness the attribute I most admire in them is their endless bits of energy and curiosity. They are never left too tired to try something new or even participate in an old favorite. Children are amazing in that they are blank slates that have to learn everything and as their parent I have the opportunity to teach them so much! Children are amazing and I have hope in our next generation, that they continue to be bottomless pits of energy with a never ending curiosity. Together, our children can make an amazing world!

Friday, November 25, 2011

30 Days of Gratitude: Day 25

Day 25: Family Traditions

We all have our beloved family members that require us to do the same thing every year and sometimes it's something cool, and other times it's something painful but either way traditions are a great way to create awesome memories. Thinking to some of our Thanksgiving family traditions and the one that we did best was eat! I've learned over the years that I love cooking (most of the time) and preparing a meal for a special time of giving thanks is a wonderful opportunity for me to pour love into those about to consume my tasty treats and curious surprises. Every year the chilly weather brings the desire to cook and bake alive again and though eating too much food creates some difficult challenges, I love my family tradition of eating!

Thursday, November 24, 2011

30 Days of Gratitude: Day 24

Day 24: Festive Food

Today I am thankful for all the wonderful holiday foods. I love watching cooking shows to get new ideas about how traditional foods are cooked. I also appreciate my family's preference for simple foods. It allows me to make simple holiday meals and pick one or two new things to try each year. I love the warmth that cooking out of love and thanksgiving brings to the house and my loved ones.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

30 Days of Gratitude: Day 23

Day 23: A Special Memory

Well, we've just completed our most impressive accomplishment as a family of five. We drove to North Carolina to visit my mom for a few days. Whew what a world wind it was and we all had a fantastically relaxing time (even the children on our long days of driving)! I hope we just got done creating some great memories for them, I know I'll remember our first road trip for years to come.

One of my favorite childhood memories is the first memory I have with my Grandma. I was about two and a half when I went to live with her and I remember sitting on the couch watching TV with her and she tooted and I just stared at her. I don't really remember what words were exchanged but I remember getting bonked on the head with a pillow and then laughing hysterically. That was the moment I bonded with my Grandma. A very special, albeit super silly, memory.

P.S. My Grandma told me years later that she said, "Excuse you Leesa Mae," and I said, "I didn't do it!"

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

30 Days of Gratitude: Day 22

Day 22: Life's Challenges

Today I am called to be thankful for life's challenges. I am reminded of a specific time I was challenged a few years back. Without going into details I encountered yet another reason to practice forgiveness and it was the first time I was really confronted with the opportunity to experience grace. I learned to give it and recieve it, not just in the (for lack of a better description) theoretical terms we recieve grace from God, but in real every day terms. I had to ask God to show me grace, how to give grace and then how to receive it. And in the process He did some amazing things for me.

First, I had a change of heart! I no longer was filled with anger or hatred or disgust of the one I was called to love, but geniune love and friendship. Amazing! Second, I gained a wonderful friend and was able to create relationships with several other individuals that were walking through this with me. Overcoming life's challenges with Christ and others helps create an intense spiritual connection with those people, which works even better than exchanging BFF necklaces! Third, I have a fantastic namesake for my only daughter.

Yes life's challenges are difficult but as one who relies on Christ I know all things are used for His glory.

Monday, November 21, 2011

30 Days of Gratitude: Day 21

Day 21: In the Moment Thankfulness.

So there's been several moments I've considered what I would be thankful for "in the moment" today but all times I couldn't think of anything until we went out this afternoon and spent time as a family, with my mom and her husband and took some awesome photos. Those photos will mark an awesome event in so many ways, our first road trip, my mom's baptism, our first family visit to her house.

So today I'm thankful for photographs. The mark time, help us keep memories and allow our children's children to have a piece of family history. How awesome is that!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

30 Days of Gratitude: Day 20

Day 20: Relaxing Rituals

Relaxing, with three small children as a full time stay at home mommy that volunteers, teaches homeschool and has many other responsibilities is a bit of a funny and foreign idea. But I find time for relaxation, if I didn't I would literally go INSANE!!

Some of my favorite relaxing activities are reading a book, in a room ALL by myself (with no background noise of needy children or loud movies). I love a great cup of tea, a fantastic workout with awesome tunes and a great workout instructor. Some time outside when the weather spectacular and time with my husband.

These are my ways to unwind and relax and I do not always get them when I want them or even when I need them. However, I am thankful for these moments when I get them and I am more thankful that my family benefits from my relaxing rituals almost as much as I do.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

30 Days of Gratitude: Day 19

Day 19: Wonderful Water

Today I am grateful for water. Rain, rivers, lakes, oceans, from the tap, bottled, salty or fresh, water is remarkable. Useful for all sorts of things. It is pure and without water, life, all life, cannot exist.

Today I'm not just grateful for clean drinking water and the unbelievable beauty water presents us with, but also for the blessing that water offers. Baptism, an induction to Christ's kingdom is a ceremony of water. The symoblism of water washing us clean, presenting us as new beings, offering us a fresh start is precious.

Last week I had the privelage of being thankful for water as I witnessed 6 baptisms and tomorrow I have the privelage of witnessing my husband baptize my mother and it offers me a whole new level of thankfulness for water, remarkable, wonderful, life giving water!

Friday, November 18, 2011

30 Days of Gratitude: Day 18

Day 18: Animal Connection

This is a bit of an odd thing to be thankful for in my opinion. I've had pets in the past so I wander through each memory of my pets trying to determine if I have a special connection to any of them, or if one connection is more special than another. I'm not an over the top animal lover, but one thing that I do love and have done in every state or country I've ever been to is visit the local zoo or aquarium. I have strong feelings about seeing the animals upclose and they are SO beautiful.

Yesterday in Little Rock we saw some great tigers and penguins and I think back over the many visits to zoos and aquariums, the first time I touched a snake, the first time I fed a giraffe, the first time I was splashed by a dolphin, touched a crusteacean. All of those are my connections to animals. I love those interactions so much and I love to see how people have managed to care for animals and recreate some semblence of a life when they aren't in the wild. The zoologists and marinebioligists seem to really care for their animals (on a whole, in my expereince).

Oh, and I'm also thankful animals give us food!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

30 Days of Gratitude: Day 17

Day 17: My Mentor or Hero

Well, if you know me a little you might not know my hero. However, if you know me more than a little then you've probably at least heard of my hero, maybe even been friends with me long enough to have met her (lucky you!). My hero was a wonderful woman, brave and responsible, full of joy and love. Determined with a let's get down to business attitude. Capable of loving everyone and accepting people as they are, but then taking that relationship to the next level and letting them know in love that they aren't where they should be. She set an amazing example and had a great sense of humor. She was incredibly strong and yet gentle with both feelings and (most importantly) when brushing my hair into pigtails. Things she said to me over my life I still remember on a daily basis. The hardest part of living the life I live right now is that my hero isn't here to share in all this awesomeness I've been blessed with.

My Grandma, my hero. She was there when I needed her, whether it was love, friendship, community, guidance or correction she never failed me. And even better when I didn't know I needed her for lessons in humility, confidence building, a relationship with Christ and life lessons that I had no idea would stick with me. If only I had cared a little more about cooking I would know how to do something other than bake (though that was one of our most favorite past times, next to doing puzzles, playing cards, watching movies and soaking in the hot tub!)

My Grandma was really the most awesome woman I have ever had the privilege to know and I'm thankful beyond words that I spent the majority of my formative years with her. She is largely responsible for the person I am today.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

30 Days of Gratitude: Day 16

Day 16: Mode of Transportation

Although I may be less thankful for our automobile this time tomorrow and even less thankful this time next week, today I am thankful for our van. Our van can fit our whole family plus two and it can take us to all sorts of regular, everyday, boring places as well as new, exciting and adventurous places. One of my oldest son's new desires is to visit all 50 states and our car (or a rental) will play a huge roll in accomplishing that goal. Yay cars!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

30 Days of Gratitude: Day 15

Day 15: Local Treasures (as in shops or groups, not pirates!)

So I'm just going to say it and then explain it and then hope it doesn't sound conceited at the end of it. Today, the local treasure I'm thankful for is my church. Known by a few different names, I lovingly refer to it as Region Seven. The idea behind the term 'region seven' is that the U.S. is now a mission field and is referred to worldwide as the seventh region. We moved to Richardson a little over a year ago with this idea as our new life mission and we've grown leaps and bounds learning to live like missionaries in America. I've met people and become friends with people that are super wonderful and allowed me the opportunity to love them in Christ's name, changing both their lives and mine. Without Region Seven I would NEVER have done that. So today I am thankful for the organic church movement happening here in America, the seventh region of the mission fields in the world, right here in Richardson, Texas.

Monday, November 14, 2011

30 Days of Gratitude: Day 14

Day 14: What's around you.

Today I am thankful for my 3 little 'mirrors'. Though it is often difficult to look into them and see what they are projecting back it is always important to know how you are acting and portraying the love of God. Are your children actually that rude and disrespectful or are they just repeating what they've seen? It's tough to swallow, but even still I am thankful for the constant reminders of their behavior and choices that I will always have room for improvement and leaps and bounds to grow to truly be like Christ.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

30 Days of Gratitude: Day 13

Day 13: Home.

Today is the day I'm supposed to be thankful for my home, and I am thankful for having a home in which my family lives, eats, plays, sleeps, is safe, kept warm (or cool depending on the weather outside) and for so many enormous other reasons. But today I'm not thankful for my home as much as I'm thankful for my neighbor's homes... and my friend's homes. I'm thankful to know people who love other people enough to welcome them into their home, dirty shoes and all. For the places we gather to share with one another, living life together, trudging through the trenches and eating birthday cake together. Our home is our sacred place and when we have people come into it we are sharing our most intimate space, where our walls are knocked down and a great space is made for love. I was blessed to experience that today and am so thankful for each time people gather to love one another not only in my home, but in the homes of others as well.

30 Days of Gratitude: Day 12

Day 12: Cultural Heritage.

Today I am grateful for the cultural heritage of lots of people. My family however, was like many others and escaped to America to leave a nasty past behind. With that beginning there was very little cultural heritage saved on that side of the family and the children were all raised to be American. Thinking very little about their Spanish and Indian roots. The other side of my family has a very long history and can be traced back to the 1400s in America. But this family history I knew nothing of until I was an adult and had already started developing my own traditions.

However, there is one cultural heritage I am grateful for and it was given to me by my Grandmother, my hero! She gave me Jesus. She gave many people Jesus and I see all those around her that she offered this cultural gift to and very few accepted it. They believed themselves unworthy of such a gift, even still today. I am thankful beyond belief I was capable of accepting such an amazingly rich and deep cultural heritage.

As I have grown in Christ over the years I recognize that I too am unworthy of this amazing gift and am hopeful as I have embarked on the adventure of offering others this cultural heritage for themselves and their families. Americans are desperate today and those of us who love the Lord have hope to offer them. What an amazing heritage!

Friday, November 11, 2011

30 Days of Gratitude: Day 11

Day 11: Those Who Protect.

Be it a solider, police officer, fire department member or an ordinary security guard today I am thankful for those who protect everything that is precious to me. Our families would be in danger without these every day heroes and having known a few of them in my lifetime I recognize the sacrifice they make and am honored. Those who protect are courageous, brave and specially made individuals. Thanks be to God for making such amazing people!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

30 Days of Gratitude: Day 10

Day 10: Aha Moment!

There are so many aha moments that I remember. One of my favorite ones, that I'm most thankful for was when I realized that Jason was The One for me. He was doing dishes and placed the forks pointy side down! I was blown away but saw a vision that was us on our wedding day and I smiled. What a silly little thing but SO many times have I hurt myself when people point the forks up (no offense to those of you who do point your forks up, I know you have your reasons). I saw a man who would protect and care for me in this little tiny action. Recognizing my then boyfriend as my one day husband changed my life and look, here we are 8 years, 3 children, 3 houses, 2 states and 1 minivan later. =D Goofy I know but a really cool Aha moment!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

30 Days of Gratitude: Day 9

Day 9: Good Friend

Today I'm thankful for my local bff. It's nice to have someone to hang out with, be silly with, talk to and relate to that lives just a few minutes away. Friendship is an awesome thing that should never be taken for granted and today I'm very thankful to have a friendship like that.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

30 Days of Gratitude: Day 8

Day 8: Part of your body.

So this can be a tough one for an overweight woman in America. But thinking for a few seconds there are several parts of my body that I guess I am kind of thankful for. I've narrowed it down to two. The first one being very odd so forgive me, but I'm thankful for my womb that has allowed three perfectly healthy babies to reside in for nine months each. The second are the muscles on my body that allow me to do the fun activities I like to do. I've got work to do on my body but these two parts in particular have yet to fail me and I'm blessed to have them as I know so many others would give their world for their womb or muscles to work as well as mine do. What a neat thing to be thankful for today!

Monday, November 7, 2011

30 Days of Gratitude: Day 7

Day 7: In the Moment.

Right this moment I'm thankful for cottage cheese, the gym, Jason's job and quiet games. I'm making lunch after my workout and thanks to a small snack of cottage cheese won't be killing half the children's lunch while I work on it. I hear Jason on a work call and am glad his job provides so well for us. And the children are quietly playing games in playroom. Life is wonderful and I'm thankful for that!

Sunday, November 6, 2011

30 Days of Gratitude: Day 6

Day 6: Nice Surprises.

Today I'm thankful for fun little surprises. One of the best surprises is getting a card in the mail just because I'm special! It's so heart warming and puts a smile on my face for days! I notice my children love it as well and we have tried to do a better job of sending notes and cards to our loved ones just because. It's the smallest things sometimes that make such a big impact.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

30 Days of Gratitude: Day 5

Day 5: Tough Jobs.

Today I am thankful for all the people out there that have thankless tough jobs. Of course in my selfishness I would recognize all Mommies first! But then I look at all the waste management people, UPS guys, mailpersons, stock boys, waiters/waitresses, and the list goes on! It's tough to work and it's even tougher to do those jobs no one else really wants to do. I'm thankful that those individuals are productive members of society, setting a good example for their children (if they have any) and their willingness to do those jobs. Those of you who do those jobs, you are the ones that make the world go around and today I'm thankful for you!

Friday, November 4, 2011

30 Days of Gratitude: Day 4

Day 4: Special Nature Spot

So today I am thankful for the great outdoors. There are a few times I remember the nature of a spot being incredibly overwhelming and my top three favorites are as follows (not in any particular order).

The top of the volcano, Haleakala in Maui. We watched the sunrise above the clouds from the top of the mountain and then road a bike to the bottom. It was the most breath taking sunrise I've ever seen.

A hiking path on the pacific ocean cliffs in Pacifica, CA. I was able to go once a year several years in a row for a swim meet, and as exciting and fun as the meet was, the hike was my favorite part! Right on the edge of cliffs, waves crashing below, it was awesome!

The other time was the only time I remember camping as a young teenager and I woke up in the morning just before sunrise and watching the forest grow lighter and listening to the animals wake up. It was a really cool moment.

So I'm thankful for these favorite spots in nature, but I generally enjoy all nature under 95* but then water is required for the outdoors to be enjoyed=D

Thursday, November 3, 2011

30 Days of Gratitude: Day 3

Day 3: Family Member?

Today I'm thankful for my husband. For his hard work and commitment to us. He is a wonderful and amazing father, husband, friend, boss, co-worker, pastor, guild mate, dungeon master, neighbor and do-it-yourselfer. There are always so many options for ways to spend time and money and I'm thankful for a man that constantly strives to use all his resources more efficiently, keeping me honest to my faith, beliefs, goals and responsibilities.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

30 Days of Gratitude: Day 2

Day 2: Governing Body

Without getting into politics, today I am grateful for people who want to improve our country, states, cities and even school districts! Politics is messy as is everything that is run by humans, but it is truly awesome to see when people mix their passions with their talents in hopes to make things a little better.

30 Days of Gratitude: Day 1

So yes, it's November 2nd, but what the heck! I'll be grateful twice today!

I'm sure this will get more difficult as the month moves on, but I'd like to take this challenge and post everyday something I'm thankful for.

Day 1: Where you live?

Today I am thankful for living both in America, in Texas and in Richardson. So many things around me I love. Of course it's easy to love the ever changing Dallas weather this time a year as it's always awesome outside (even when it's raining!). I love the neighbors we've gotten to know, our friends nearby, the parks and walking spaces near our house and the schools around us. We live in a very privileged area of the world and I am thankful that I don't have to worry about feeding my children, or keeping them safe. We have clothes, food, a house, vehicles and lots of love. Today I am thankful for all of it.

Best Wishes, Thoughts and Prayers

So when something bad or scary is happening or has happened most people respond either with something ridiculous because they are insensitive or don't know what to say OR they respond by giving you best wishes, thoughts and prayers.

Do you ever wonder what best wishes, thoughts and prayers involve?

What are best wishes? A good luck statement to let you know they hope it turns out OK for you but in the meantime you're on your own, so hopefully you have some really awesome people that love you somewhere.

What are thoughts? Random things that fly through your head, most unworthy of speaking or writing down (unless you are one of those awesomely creative individuals!). Occasionally our thoughts will lead to something awesome, but rarely as it is the action upon those thoughts that lead to the awesomeness.

Then of course you have prayers. We all know prayers are our conversation with God and the rest of the Trinity. I believe prayer can change everything, it has for me, several times in my life. A sincere commitment to prayer can radically change lives all around you and it's awesome when you meet a prayer warrior that does radically change lives. However, the rest of us struggle to pray. We can't always remember to talk to God every meal, much less everyday. And when we do remember to pray, it's often loaded with selfishness or some formality we take lightly. Sure we hit our knees when we encounter a crisis and occasionally when we celebrate an awesome event, but really prayer is one of our weakest links. So we tend to treat it as a failure and say, "goodbye," even without realizing it.

Well, when you hear someone say they will pray for you, does it impact you? Does it give you hope? Do you feel the instant comfort that comes when you've been prayed for, the awesome sensation of the Holy Spirit resting on your soul? Or instead do you feel like it's an empty promise, offered to you because the respondent has nothing else to give?

In this cynical world I'm going to hope for the positive. I'm going to say, even if it doesn't offer you the same great feeling as when someone takes the time right then and there to pray for you, it offers something bigger. I believe the offering of prayer allows someone to express their deepest desire to emotionally help you out and in that moment the Creator is hearing the prayer. Even if they never remember to pray for you again, the Lord has heard the plea on your behalf.

As a Christian, I find it challenging to keep up with my offerings of prayer and occasionally will even say a blanket statement like, "Lord, you know who I encountered this week that needs prayer, please be with them." I desire so much for everyone, but everyone wears me so thin and I don't have a prayer log or journal to keep it all straight. So I hope to not just take more time to pray, but to take more time to pray in the moment. So instead of offering to pray for someone, I actually do. It'll only take a minute. And who knows, maybe it'll speak miracles into the heart of those well wishers and thinkers, giving them confidence and courage to seek Christ.

So here's to being a prayerful individual, offering hope, peace, love, acceptance and encouragement when others need it most. We can't give them those things, but God can.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Sacrificial Giving

What does it mean to give sacrificially? Does it just mean giving more than you normally give, maybe even enough to make you and your family a little uncomfortable? Or does sacrificial giving mean that you give up something you want in order to give to someone else?

I think about this because I have the desire to give, but always (I mean ALWAYS!), I find myself, or better yet, my thoughts, wondering to the things I desire. Things for myself, my family, my house, even my friends and I convince myself that giving more than usual is sufficient. Sometimes I feel like I don't want others to know about my giving because I don't like getting attention for helping others, I'm much more of a behind the scenes kind of person. Other times I figure it's not really anyone's business and just because I might be capable of meeting someone's need entirely doesn't mean I should. After all, me giving so much might mean someone else will miss out on the opportunity to give of themselves.

Haha! How do I come up with this stuff?

God sacrificed everything He had for us. Everything. For each and every king, peasant and worker He willingly let go of everything. If we are supposed to be following Him and following in His footsteps I think it stands to reason that we are to give sacrificially by indeed, not getting something we want and give to others.

I heard a story once about about a dad who took his son to pick out the best bicycle he could imagine and when the two were driving to the store, the dad mentioned in passing that maybe they should give the bike to Timmy down the street since his parents were going through a divorce and Timmy was having a rough time. The son had no response, but continued on the outing and picked out the perfect bike. While placing the order the dad mentioned the idea again and the boy was silent. After leaving the store, on the ride home, with the perfect bike selected and ordered the boy says to his father, "you know dad, it's ok if we give the bike to Timmy."

WOW huh?!

Can we give like that? I wonder, how does one reach a point in life where they can give like that? Or maybe I should be wondering how does one reach a point in life where they no longer give like that? Is that the idea behind sacrificial giving? I would guess yes, yes it is and that once again a child has been used to show us the way. The perfect innocence of a child and the simplicity they rule their life by. Why do we adults make it SO complicated? We aren't more important because we are busy or complicated people with more stuff than everyone else. I blame puberty, but I blame puberty for lots of things=D

Matthew 19:14 says:
Jesus said, "Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these."

So is sacrificial giving about giving up something you want to give to others and can we give like the boy gave his bike, and like Jesus gave His everything? I think, yes! Yes we can! So let's do this! Let's simplify life, be like children, give sacrificially and the world will truly be changed, life will be renewed and people will see the Grace of God in and around them and be won to the Lord. It sounds great, except that I only really want to do it if I have a big group I'm a part of to do it together. To console me when I "fail" or encourage me when I "succeed" or just to quietly fall off the wagon together. A group of individuals just to make sure I'm not alone on this one. But that isn't the proper way to go about this. I am to follow Him, at all costs regardless.

As always, a lot easier said than done.

O, and in case you were wondering, the boy who gave his bike away before he even got it, his mom went down to the store and ordered him the exact bike he picked out the very next morning.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Current Ministry

So this missionary gig of being the church is taking some interesting turns these recent days. I'm finding myself more comfortable with the idea of just being and living and loving all that I come into contact with and allowing The Spirit to just flow through me (as much as I've figured out how to do anyways!). In doing this I've started to see connections, opportunities and miracles. Now I'm not seeing Jesus raise Lazarus from the dead or anything, well not literally, but maybe I am figuratively.

I've found myself in conversations that I honestly would prefer to never, ever have and in them I can hear God speaking into these peoples lives. I hear them respond and I've started to notice them going out of their way to converse with me at later dates, usually referring to one specific comment that was made and how it's changing their thinking. It's actually very exciting to see people consider thoughts that, I believe with all my being, God interjected.

They may not be running out and getting baptized yet, they may not be coming to my families' church meeting, they may not even be changing their lives, but they are thinking about things Jesus said... let's just hope I can remember to stay humble through this really awesome ride and give Him the glory!

Here's to finding your groove.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Actions Speak

Let's do a quick catch up on what is going on here in this small 5 mile radius of Region Seven.

Jason has been promoted in his office! That is meaning more work and more opportunity to interact with others and to live as a wonderful example of balancing work, family and Christ as well as making time for hobbies and disciples. He is maintaining his relationships and though summer is always difficult to keep groups meeting on schedule he is rolling with the punches and seeing everyone as frequently as the opportunity allows.

The children are still in the learning phase of what we are doing. They are excited about getting to be great friends with our neighbor and our game playing friends. I do see they have an extra need of being with people their age more frequently and we've just noticed a family with smaller children a few doors down and are ready to go knock on their door and introduce ourselves. We still pray for the harvest daily. They are about to start school tomorrow and though the feelings are still a little mixed about how good this is (apparently even home schoolers get the first day jitters) Jason & I have high hopes in the freedom this will offer our family.

As for me, well, I've really been trying to catch my breath from our summer adventures and get organized/prepared for our home school journey. I've been so busy that I actually haven't even made ime to touch basis with all the ones I love since coming home from our vacation. So that will be one of my other top priorities this week.

Now that you know what's been going on, here is the 'real' part of this post:

Public school started last week and I resumed my position with the elementary PTA Teacher Aprreciation person and delivered a happy poem to the teachers & staff on the first day and then organized a wonderful back to school lunch on Thursday. I've been honest with the principal, Kindergarten teacher, librarian and one of the office staff on what our family is doing here with our call to this local mission field. Well, apparently actions are speaking louder than any words or crafts as these lovely individuals have felt the need to spread the word.

I've actually been very concerned that me maintaining a presence in the public school system would be offensive to those that work so hard within the system to reach SO many children. But it seems this is not the case and already I've met a dozen new teachers and staff members that are blown away by this commitment to love others and serve them. Lots of moms do PTA so it wasn't a big deal last year when I had a child attending school there but this year I have no stake there and that is really making the teachers feel loved.

So now I wonder, what else can we do in our neighborhood, that is not required or even really necessary but will help bring people together. Offering love unconditionally and creating opportunities for community?

I'm really on a mission now...

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Quiet Contemplation

For a few reasons getting older has been on my mind and heart lately. I'm going to be turning the big 3-0 after the New Year and I look at my 'babies' and see three smart, independent, mostly capable children that spend lots of time learning and exploring and creating and I realize not only are they NOT babies anymore, but my oldest is actually as close to being a teenager as he is to being a newborn!

Although some days I miss the time we spent sitting on the floor building blocks and snuggling in the recliner for nursings I am seeing how much awesome stuff we can do together now that they are bigger. I get to experience things I never did during my childhood and re-experience things I did but with all new eyes. I've never built a Lego set before this year and taking the children to feed ducks at the park is a super favorite activity and I remember how my Grandma used to take me to do that all the time.

Some things I'm more excited about then they are (like Disney World!!) and other things I dread even more than I did when I had to deal with it the first time around (like homework!!). Some days I envy them and their tiny responsibilities and mostly carefree life and I think, "what were we thinking?" I remember growing up and getting older not happening soon enough. I remember not waiting until I was 8 and could ride around the block to my friends house. I remember not waiting until I could date, wear make-up, drive a car, move out of the house, do whatever I wanted.

Now I look back and think, man did I waste it? What if I would have enjoyed being 7? or 11? or 15? What if I just lived in the here and now and learned how awesome it was in the moment. As I see our parents and grandparents getting much older it becomes apparent how we (as people) spend so much of our youth dreaming about the future and so much of our golden years reminiscing our past and the years in between have been properly labeled 'the mid-life-crisis.'

Does growing up really need to happen so fast? Is being old really that terrible? Is living in the here and now enjoying the opportunities in front of us really so scary we run out and attempt to change everything about ourselves? New hair cuts, new cars, new body parts, new spouse?

Something I've been told recently is that Jesus has been in our shoes and understands our pain and intercedes on our behalf when we find ourselves on our knees. The image I have been given is that Jesus is saying to God, "I love this person, please hear this plea" What a beautiful thought as I know people that have overcome such amazing difficulties in their lives. I can see Jesus pleading our case before the Father saying this person is special, offer them peace, comfort them, fill them.

But I find that as I have time to quietly contemplate this I begin to think about specific instances of pain and say, well, Jesus didn't experience that specifically because he wasn't a mother or he never got old and since he never sinned, he didn't yell at his mother or disobey his Father. He never spanked his children or had too much to drink while out with his friends. I begin to get discouraged and I find myself questioning the idea that Jesus understands anything at all.

What do you think about during times of quiet contemplation? Do you rely on your future or your past? Do you long for something unique and different for your present? Do you wonder if the Saviour of All People really understands why you make the choices your make? I know I sure do.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Where do we look for God when we need Him?

I'm considering starting a bible study/play group for some of my friends and disciples. I believe some of them are so hungry for God that they don't know what to do with themselves and I believe others, are interested in finding God (or reconnecting with God) that they are thankful someone finally gave them an opportunity to openly and freely seek Him. One thing that I've noticed however, the few other times I've been a part of starting a group before is everyone wants to know what we will be studying. Usually I think the answer is obvious, "um... the Bible?!"

Unfortunately that answer isn't always what people are looking for. Either they've read that before, or they find the bible boring, or want updated writings that apply to today's world. "WOW!" I always think to myself and then eager to get a group going in the right direction I begin to look for something to meet their needs. I think about finding something enticing to read and study in hopes to attract the unsure ones and please the 'been there read that' crowd. But I ask, "Why do we look to connect with God in a book written by someone else?" The Bible is our only tangible connection to Him and I understand some people doubt it but does reading another author's work help us understand God & what He wants to reveal to us through His word?

Well of course I'd be a total hypocrite if I said no, God works through everything and I've had my life unbelievably transformed in bible studies that only used portions of the bible. I just wonder, looking back, if that's what He did when I was only reading bits and pieces of the bible, what would He have done if I was reading huge hunks and inhaling it??!!

The bible is a powerful tool. It applies to our every day living even in 2011 in America. That's one of the ways I know it's from him. It's living and breathing and transforming. I'm excited about the opportunity to start a bible study, studying the bible and hope I can discover some deep passion for my every day life (and maybe even some solutions to my everyday woes) using what He has given me.

God is great and I'm glad to be back=D

Monday, June 13, 2011


It saddens me greatly to have to discontinue this blog. But it has been brought to my attention that it may be hurting family members whom I love dearly. Thanks so much for your support and feedback over the months. I sincerely pray much love on your journey with Christ and hope we can stay in touch through other means.

Friday, May 27, 2011

The Forest

"Sometimes the tree is too close to see the forest" I had someone tell me that once and it's stuck with me ever since. I think about all the different scenarios this can be applied. It popped in my head this morning as I was driving my two younger children and our gorgeous friend's baby that we will only be watching one more time. I thought about the sapling she has become and the sprout she was when we first started watching her over a year ago. I think about the tree she will become and the forest in which she'll be found.

Friday, May 20, 2011

an older post I never posted (not sure why)...

Painting has become one of my new found passions. There is something about taking a plain white canvas, pure in every sense, putting on color with simple strokes of a brush to create something breathtaking. Now I'll be the first to admit that I've put plenty of paint on canvas so far and though I've succeeded at getting the paint on it, there is no way that it can be described as breathtaking! But other paintings have stirred me in a way that I have never experienced before.

Art is wonderful! I can see how God got so carried away in creating Earth. It just took over him. Once he got the hang of making beautiful things he just kept going. Night and Day, Air and Sea, Land and animals and all the different variations and levels there are of each... it's absolutely overwhelming and well, breathtaking! And if you've never caught yourself out enjoying the beauty then stop reading this blog and go outside and find something, ANYTHING that you can see that's beautiful and take it in. Absorb the beauty of the moment. Memorize the emotions rising inside, the smells, the sounds, the colors, every tiny detail you can retain. Go ahead, this blog isn't going anywhere.

WOW, huh?!

Now moving on to my original thought for this post. The place I have discovered my new found passion is a place called G'Nosh! You pay your fee and go in, they supply the canvas, paint, brushes and an instructor that will take you through a painting step by step. You leave with a beautiful, original painting of your very own. It's empowering, inspiring, breathtaking and so many other words that I don't have in my vocabulary to describe. So naturally, I've introduced everyone around me that I can to G'Nosh! I've taken them to discover a new level of freedom, success, love, acceptance, and the list goes on. Almost all of them have greatly appreciated this experience, so much so that they have already or plan to go back in the very near future... and each of them have an individual in mind to take with them the next time they return. It's contagious!

I've encouraged a few of these individuals to go deeper with their painting practice and explore it on their own at home. I give them all the inside scoop I have about saving money buying supplies and even follow up with them on a regular basis so we are sharing with one another what we are painting in our living rooms. It's a very unique relationship.

Contagious & Unique. Two things that the organic movement participants desire for our churches. So now the question is how do we experience it? I've just shown that our goal is indeed attainable. Connect with people in a way they've never experienced, show them it's worth their time, effort and money and allow them to experience a reward so great that they must then take it home to share with others so they will also experience it. Something this awesome is too difficult to keep to yourself and to explain to others... they must simply do it.

departure or destination?

If you've read more than 2 of my blogs you're starting to pick up my theme of cliches. I'm not going for that but every time I turn around that's what I'm addressing. I think that's what's happening as I reroute my life through Prayer. I'm seeing and understanding these cliches and the truth or untruth that lies beneath.

For example.

I was driving to the gym the other morning, it was dark as it always is and I found myself intrigued as there was lots of traffic as I pulled out of my alley, even more traffic as I got down the street to the light. I thought, "Hmm... that's weird for 5:10am on Tuesday morning." Turns out there was an event at the high school that a group of students were preparing for and so there was an abnormally large amount of traffic and activity. But as I got further away from home, I noticed the opposite to be true. There were fewer and fewer vehicles on the road until I found myself on a 6 lane road with no other cars in sight. At first I thought, "wow, this is cool." Then I thought, "hmmm... this is weird." Then I started to have a mini panic attack in the back of my head, my heart started pounding and wondering does everyone else know something I don't?

Of course it only lasted about a about a mile before I finally saw a car here and there on the road, but the cars that I did see where traveling in the opposite direction. The weather was abnormally clear and crisp so I knew there shouldn't have been any reason to worry that I was going the wrong way. I was getting close to the gym when I drove down a strip of street with no street lights (I always get that creepy feeling of 'what if I run out of gas at this exact moment?' Luckily that's never happened!)

Well, with the last turn at hand it's like driving into the sun. The gym is a huge building, lit up like a Christmas Tree. There are parking lights every 5 spaces and it's bright as day. I think to myself for a second, "how could I have doubted I was headed in the wrong direction?"

That's when I heard the other little voice in my head say, "Because you do everyday"

Wow! I sat there for a minute both blown away and confused. I decided quickly I didn't want to be later than my usually lateness (I barely make the beginning of warm-up for most early morning classes, regardless of what time I get up) so I headed in to the gym. I worked out hard. All the while hearing that little voice, "Because you do everyday."

It's a silencing comment. One that makes all voices in your head stop for a second and then begin screaming in reaction, attacking the statement, questioning motives and denying any truth behind such a statement.

Finally, back in my car on the way home resting in the calm quiet that ensues after an awesome workout I had a chance to turn my voices off and listen for THE voice to explain.

I heard this.

"The road less traveled"

I recognized the phrase but couldn't put my finger on it so of course Googled it when I got home. I got two references:

The first was a poem by Robert Frost, The Road Not Taken.

The second was a bible verse, “Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it. ~Matthew 7:13-14

So on this morning I got to experience an awesome visual of my journey with Christ. I got to see how I was in a dark alley, completely blind with only one way out. When I finally worked up the courage to take the plunge I find myself in a position to see something. I see a little road ahead, full of other cars buzzing around. And when I get to the end of that stretch I see more cars and I am so excited and gain so much confidence. I got this! I'm on the right road, see all these other people. Then as I drive further to my destination, turn after turn, I grow weary, lonely, concerned, afraid, terrified. I question if I'm going the right direction, if I should be going at all?!
Maybe there is a better way.

And just when I doubt myself and God the most, I see the light, I made it! I have arrived. But once there I find a fair amount of work to do. After an awesome amount of energizing sweat it's time to move on. I haven't arrived, I've only made a necessary pit stop. So I get back on the road beginning again. The same amount of nervousness, excitement and confidence that I started and ended with from my first leg of the journey, realizing now that my destination is my departure.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Christmas or Easter?

By the title you're probably expecting me to go into some interesting (or maybe boring) discussion about which is better or more important or something like that between the two holidays. But all I really want to say is that I've successfully turned Easter into what I believe the grand majority of Americans turn Christmas into. I've made Lent less a time of listening, praying, humility with no focus on the basics and more a crazy busy, exhausting, overbooked holiday that makes it difficult to enjoy. Easter is a bigger deal than Christmas to me in so many ways, I hope with only a few hours left of Lent that I can fully prepare myself to bask in the Easter Season. Here's to buckling down and making the most of it=D

Friday, April 22, 2011

Old Friends and New, Jesus' Disciples and Seeds

I've always had the same best friends for as long as I can remember having best friends. I mean I got along with kids in elementary school and we all played pretty well together (minus the boy here & there that teased me about wearing a bra). But for the most part in elementary school everyone is friends. It's Jr. High that starts to divide you into groups or clicks and is the point in time where you begin to make friends for life. At least that's where it started for me. I have one friend I met after Jr. High that is my best friend still but in her defense, there was an ocean lying between us=D

Anyway, I've been wondering since I've become a 'grown up' and moved far away from home to have a family and be allowed to support that family with just one income if I'll ever find friends like that again. Saying this has been a tough road with great sacrifice on our part is an understatement. Leaving our family and our friends, the people you can rely on to be there no matter what the circumstances (not to mention the free babysitting!) are so far away. It's been difficult without that support here and as much as I'd like those people to move here, I know they won't and that it is up to me to make new friends and create a similar support structure that our family and friends offer. This has been one of the most difficult parts of living far away.

If I look around me I am surrounded by some really cool/awesome individuals, some of which are much too cool to be my friend. But none the less, I try to make a connection and see if a friendship will grow. Now I'm looking for the non-judgmental, honest, tell it like it is even if it really sucks to hear it or say it kind of friendship. One where our interests are similar and we don't have to work very hard to make our paths cross, time spent together is refreshing and happens frequently.

I've felt like I've come close to something like this a few times since moving here and I've always gotten to the point where I think, "she's not ______ or ______ but she's as close as I'm gonna find." Then something happens to change things and I find myself struggling to maintain a friendship. I'm an introvert, no secret there, but to put it plain and simple, people exhaust me. They make me feel like I'm crazy and I just want to get away. Adding any other obstacle to that major hurdle I deal with daily and I find myself not pursuing the relationship any longer and I'm right back where I started.

I then go through phases of mourning, regret, guilt, and eventually I come to terms with it and move on, hoping I'll come across the person that is as perfect as my childhood best friends. I'm getting more sure that I'll never come across people exactly the same, for some reason growing up and going through puberty together and making it all the way through the nightmare that is being a teenager creates a bond that is stronger than any adult relationship you could form.

With that said I'm drawn to a moment of prayer, of silence, of listening. I know this moment represents the time Jesus spent in hell, I'm reminded of Him, the immeasurable amount of pain, loneliness and sacrifice our Maker made yesterday and the miracle of life He will be offering tomorrow. I wait with anticipation, excited with tears in my eyes.

I was reminded on Friday that we often mistake Easter as a time of God & Me when it is not about me (another one of my constant themes!) but about all humankind. I begin to think of all the other humans out there. Ones that I know suffer on a daily basis all across the world, too far away for me to see or hear, all the way to ones that are right down the road or right across the street. Ones that I have great relationships with and ones that I struggle to maintain some kind of awkward relationship with. Jesus sacrificed it all for them and offers it ALL to them also.

That brings my attention to Jesus' friends. I think about how they might have been feeling on this day. About their sadness, their hopelessness, their emptiness and I thought it is so good to know the Joy and Hope and Fullness that Easter will bring tomorrow. But thinking about the disciples made me think about my mission. The journey that Jason and I and the children are on together as we strive to love our Maker and spread His love with everyone we come in contact with.

Jesus didn't stay with His disciples forever. He gave them what He had to offer and once they had accepted all they could while in His presence He moved on and they were sent on their way to continue on with the work He had started. He did this not just in His death but at various points throughout His ministry. They had practice rounds and sometimes the disciples were successful and sometimes not.

Jesus sent His disciples out with the proper tools and seeds of life to plant amongst the lost. But as we know from Mark 4, it doesn't matter how well prepared or equipped the farmer is if the soil is not suitable for crop production. The seeds can be cared for perfectly but if there are too many weeds and not enough good soil, there will be nothing to show for all the hard work, time and effort put into it.

This, like most of my other blogs has turned into a long rambling and I apologize for that. Let me see if I can make the proper connection between Old Friends and New and Jesus' Disciples and the seeds they and we plant.

I have old friends that I love and hold dear to my heart. Our friendship is a mutual friendship and it will remain a constant for the foreseeable future. I have New friends that are not just my friends but also my disciples. Since I've been commissioned as a missionary, which means all people I come into contact with I offer what Jesus offers, in the best way that I can, I am responsible for teaching them. I study Jesus' Disciples and I try to learn from them, both their successes and failures and hope my offerings of what I have and know of my Saviour is enough to not only plant the seeds of life but to prepare my New friends, a.k.a. disciples, to plant their own seeds of life in the future.

Old Friends and New, Jesus' Disciples and Seeds. Things that make life so sweet.

Monday, March 21, 2011


It's difficult to find your niche & fulfill your mission. Especially when that mission requires doing things so far outside your comfort zone you wonder what in the world He's thinking! Well, couple that with general responsibilities of work, home life, raising children, keeping up with the secondary activities of all said responsibilities and then trying to carve out time for yourself with both hobbies you love (or have always wanted to try) and spending time with God. On top of that add the ridiculous level of expectation we women tend to place on ourselves, CRAZY! When you do get the chance to lift your head and take a breath you really begin to wonder, why in the world did He create the earth like this? He could have easily given us a 30 hour day or a 13 month year. But it's my guess that had He given us more we would do everything in our power to stuff it full as can be and then wonder why He didn't give us more.

Our human nature seems to be insatiable and consumeristic. I realize as I say that, it's probably an American thing and not a human thing, but then again, just because others in the world go without doesn't mean they don't always want more and wouldn't constantly strive for it. It's just that their drive is currently driven by life necessities. Once those are met it's all about the extras! (Again I say this as a very naive American).

So back to the overwhelmed feeling. How do we let ourselves get that way?

I remember way back when Jason & I were deciding we would move to Texas, we agreed we needed a break, a reprieve as we had gotten so caught up in the California way of life we needed to stop for a bit, figure out how to slow down then proceed cautiously. And we were successful, for a few months at least. We continue every few months (occasionally longer) to look at one another and have to sit down and talk things through, figure out where we are, where we should be, where God wants us and what our time and energy and resources should be devoted to.

Well, back when we served a congregation in a building it was easy to get overbooked and overwhelmed with the plethora of opportunities readily available to serve and love others. So you'd figure now that we don't have a congregation like that we'd be free to take more time and have more quality ministry. However, when you step outside the building you find the whole world. If you thought it was easy to stretch yourself too thin inside four walls with a ceiling and a floor, then you might want to take a chair with you when you step outside. Really, every individual you see is an opportunity to share the Love of Christ and as a lover of Christ you have the responsibility of sharing His love with everyone you come across.

Already I'm overwhelmed just thinking about our general idea of our mission. So let's break it down to baby steps. Those are small and manageable right?

Just for fun, think about the last time you saw a baby walk. Theirs steps are awkward, uneven, tedious, difficult, sometimes so tiny and unpredictable 4 steps has them moving backwards or in the opposite direction of their goal. They are constantly falling and you never know when it's coming, sometimes they can keep it together when it looks like they'll never make it to their destination and other times they are doing so well and find themselves catapulted forward and look up at you with tears and blood gushing.

The perfect visual of where I am right now. My head is swimming and my heart is pounding and I'm just treading water. I have lots of ideas of what I believe God offers me as opportunities to serve and love others. I have lots of goals for myself. I have big dreams for my family. All of these things good and yet all of these things cannot be accomplished of the same quality.

So the questions for you this time:
1) How do you decide what is most important?
2) How do you become a people person when you aren't?
3) How do you follow through and keep yourself in check?

8am Sunday Morning...

I was running.

I ran past 6 churches & 2 home improvement stores... there were more vehicles in the home improvement parking lots than in all the church parking lots combined. Granted it was earlier than church services usually start (though Mass was happening at one of the churches) but follow me for a second. Getting up early on Sunday morning to focus on improving oneself clearly isn't out of the question for a large population of Richardson/Garland Area residents.

Granted we can make all kinds of arguments for clearly reasonable excuses of not being at church on Sunday and instead at the home improvement store. But I think I'll just say it out loud. Being inconvenienced isn't as valid a reason people aren't going to church as we church goers would like to think it is. There's got to be more to why they choose not to participate and we'll never know unless we get to know them and find out first hand why.

So what do you do about it?

Well... What are you doing about it??

Thursday, March 3, 2011

True Humility

So I've thought (as long as I've known enough to think about it) that I'm not a very prideful individual and that I'm fairly humble. Well, that is compared to a lot of other individuals that I've interacted with over the years. Then I have those few saints in my life who have achieved such amazing levels of selflessness and humility that I put them in a different category from myself because, well, it seems that their spiritual gift from God is being able to overcome all pride and selfishness and humility. They have attained a certain level of understanding and accomplishment to set an example for the rest of us. However, what I tend to do with that example is ooo and ahhh over it and occasionally remember at the right moment in time but never does it workout that it completely transforms me.

Which for me is difficult to say right now as I prefer to learn lessons from others' experiences when I can. Why should I suffer the same fate or go through the same drama/trama to grow? Well, this is one of many exceptions because I apparently thought I had already arrived. But I had a conversation this week with someone and I was spending the entire time of the conversation in turmoil. It was a moment I could both speak truth and love into this person's life and I failed. I spent the entire conversation holding ME back instead of following the Spirit.


I am aware we have a forgiving and mericiful and graceful God, but sometimes I'm so frustrated by my own thickness. My Grandmas always told me I was thick. I just never understood why that was a bad thing until now. So I'm sure I'll have another opportunity soon to follow the Spirit and I hope (as I'm now committing to pray for true humility) that I will be less selfish and prideful and more properly prepared to speak truth and love.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Our Actions Affect Our Children

I think we all like to blame others for our mistakes. Taking responsibility is a difficult task and one that is not only tough to swallow but also tough to chew. It's difficult to recognize when we are dodging our responsibilities at times but trust me when I say we ALL do it. You just might be less aware because you might not actually ever see how your slacking affects others, this morning is a perfect example.

I was doing my typical volunteer hour in the library where I almost exclusively re-shelve non-fiction books (those are the ones with numbers and letters). Two students came in late to the first class and maybe these students are habitually late, but none the less, they suffered dearly for their tardiness. Both had excuses about parents needing to do something before they brought the child to school (Dr. appointment for one and issues at school for the big brother of another). Both children were very ashamed, and both children got a small lecture from both the teacher and the librarian and then both children lost their privelage of the library use (standard policy from what I understood). Both were shown a desk they may sit at until their prompt classmates were done. I sneakily watched those students sad, alone, criticized, un-loved, ashamed and rejected.

Now before you think I'm judging the teacher or librarian or the parents of these children, do not be mistaken I am not. I am simply noticing that these two paid a dear price for their parent's choices this morning. To me it sounded like the parents had very valid reasons for the late arrival, maybe they could've rearranged the morning a little but regardless the children were late and the consequences for their parent's actions stood firm.

There are lots of reasons to hold true to rules and consequences, having been a coach in my previous life, I remember laying down blanket rules and holding to them no matter what the excuse. This was for all kinds of great reasons, but I never saw what I saw this morning. I never noticed how my rules might have isolated the children and left them feeling so many complicated feelings they may not know exactly which one is the right one. They are indeed loved and appreciated, worth something and wonderful individuals that make up a group of children that are absolutely adored. I know the teacher and librarian feel this way, the same way I felt (and even still do) about my team.

Do you have children? Do you work with children? Are you an Aunt, Uncle, Cousin, Grandparent? I ask you this, what price are you asking your children to pay based on the decisons you made this morning? This afternoon? This year?

Tuesday, February 8, 2011


There is an old adage that says "practice makes perfect" and when I was an athlete, this saying was given a more accurate makeover, "PERFECT practice makes perfect" Well, I can probably argue both sides depending on what it is you're doing. It is true that if an athlete has sloppy practices they will definitely not add up to perfect performances. But in other matters of life, where perfection is less stressed, and positive progress is the general goal, I think 'less than' practice will suffice for improvement and better results in the end.

So all this said, I think our family church assignment this week will be practicing perfection. In the way of attitudes, actions, words and every other manner we can think of. We'll practice saying nice things to one another, practice doing nice things for one another, practice kindness toward one another and hopefully as we get better at these basic improvements we'll notice many other faucets to practice perfection.

We learned from our Corinthians reading this evening that The Spirit is of God and The Spirit lives in our hearts and that we have Christ in our minds. So with our hearts and mind full of God and His perfection we have nothing less to strive for.

Thanks be to God!

Christmas Bliss...Focus on Others

Well, nothing says New Year's Resolutions like Valentine's Day you know. Uh, I mean... well, let's just say I didn't make any New Year's Resolution that said I would blog on time or regularly or anything really=D

Let's all think back to a little over a month ago. We were rushing around, cleaning the house, wrapping last minute gifts, going to parties, making last minute plans and of course recognizing that we forgot something or worse, someone! Just days before Christmas the anticipation was building and I could tell everyone was experiencing high stress as they were traveling house to house, visiting family and celebrating Christmas over and over again. So many people I know were SO done with Christmas by the end of Christmas day that they stripped their house of all evidence of Christmas within a day or two. Which is unfortunate because Christmas Day is only the beginning of Christmas, Christmas actually lasts until January 6th.

That's 2 weeks to bask in the glory of our Savior that was lost. All the rushing, eating and stressing causes so many of us to not live in the joy of His presence and we miss it! What a bummer. But you know what? I can't blame any of you that spent your December as I described above. I remember Christmas's like that and though Jason and I have been Christ Followers since our first married Christmas together we've constantly struggled with the competition that Christ has on His day.

We've done so much to try and de-emphasize the importance of everything but Christ and each year we were able to gain a little ground with our family as they tried their hardest to allow us to raise our children with Christ being the focus of Christmas. But every year we were left feeling the same, like we didn't honor Him fully. Well this year I think we hit a nerve because we experienced satisfaction beyond our wildest dreams. It's because we spent Christmas with the family Christ has given us here in our new home.

We missed our parents and siblings and extended family of course but there's just something that tells me Christmas isn't about your blood relatives and I understand this is a SUPER touchy subject with almost every person on earth but I think we should realize that if spending time with family on Christmas means you lose the meaning of Christmas, maybe it's not the right time to spend time together.... I really do love you family that are reading this. I'm just being honest.

So what did we do that was so amazingly awesome? We spent time with people that we love that are right here. We hosted our friends John & Ashley and their wonderful baby girl Madison as well as Ashley's parents and sister. They came to our house, we ate together, loved one another through conversation and games and then they went home, leaving us filled with the Spirit. We went through our Christmas eve routine of PJs, photos, opening Grandma's Christmas presents and then reading the Christmas Story (the one in the bible). We tucked the children into bed and began preparations for Christmas Day.

On Christmas morning everyone woke up and opened stockings (they let me sleep late which was one of my best presents). We divided the presents out and I started snapping the camera again. When the question arose about Santa not coming to our house I simply said, "look at your pile of presents, look how many people love you. You don't need Santa to bring you more things, your family sent you so much love already." They were satisfied with that=)

Then we continued our morning with our usual breakfast of sticky buns and cocoa and then played with all our awesome new toys. We cleaned up and began cooking. We were having our single neighbor over as she wasn't going home at Christmas this year and we off the cuff invited some of our new friends over. Everyone came. We played, we ate, we shared stories, we cleaned, we enjoyed each others company, we loved our children and then we realized that it's in these moments we celebrate our Savior's arrival. Not in the presents and family gatherings, but in the time we spend with each other where we are joyful and attentive to one another, loving each other exactly as we are and interested in learning more.

We learned this Christmas that celebrating Christ isn't a painful process. And it's not about who can buy the most meaningful gift. It's about giving the most meaningful gift you have to offer others and that's your time and your love.

I know some of you are still upset thinking I'm suggesting you can't offer your time and love to your family members, but be really honest most of us take our family for granted and don't truthfully enjoy their time and accept their love. We like to create drama even when there isn't any reason for drama to justify ourselves because we can't possibly see how anyone could love us, I mean really, truly, unconditionally, perfectly love us. But I promise you, that you don't need to do that. Christ loves you, and so do I.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Family Church

Family Church.



A dangerous term I've used here, as these two words can strike up some very painful, raw feelings and images for most people. Of course we'd all like to believe we had a 'Leave It To Beaver' childhood or even been one of the Huxstables, but most of us weren't that lucky. We all know family and church are two of the most tiresome and challenging circles that we find ourselves in. And despite popular belief, we continue to freely and willfully subject ourselves and our children to these instances; assuming we have no choices and even believing this is how God intended us to live.

Wow, did I just say that really?

You heard me right, I just said you do not have to continue to subject yourself to abusive, frustrating and selfish family or church members. If that's the first time you've ever heard that I hope you are feeling empowered to live and raise your children as our Lord would have intended. But before you disown your family and leave your church with a nasty e-mail, let's proceed cautiously and prayerfully with an open heart and mind.

Let me first beg your forgiveness for the cliches that are about to ensue as I walk you through this journey that I've been on and how I've come up with my conclusion of the deadly term, yet lively practice, that is Family Church.

Enter now, Jason and his desire to follow Christ fully with the influence of one of the most loving, contagious and challenging individuals we've known yet. This is where the journey begins, with a desire, a need, a desperate longing to know our Lord. To know Him personally and to really know the purpose He has created us for. Well, there really is no better way of knowing what He wants from you and for you than by picking up His "Love Letter" and pouring over it. Inhaling it, digesting it, regurgitating it and then repeating the process all over again. I know it sounds a little gross, but well, no one said following Christ was a neat and clean job.

So with our hearts and teeth sunk into scripture and several years of frustration under our belt we felt free to really assess our life. We questioned everything we did. We continue to do this today, constantly evaluating our choices based on Christ's desire for us and if we both come to the same prayerful conclusion we go for it. Taking a leap of faith and we never accept that there is no way out of our situation, even if it is "worldy" speaking a VERY BAD IDEA. We willfully sold our 'dream' home at a loss, to move into an older, quainter, diverse neighborhood. Unthinkable to most Americans. But our 'dream' home had turned into more of a nightmare. We were slaves to our home and we constantly had people thinking we were better than them because we had a big fancy house and that what we had is perfect and that's what they should strive for no matter how much debt it cost them. It was difficult being far away from Jason's work and from the people we wanted to spend time with. We felt isolated and stuck.

With impeccable timing from one of our greatest friends in Christ this is where we chose to re-define ourselves. We no longer live under the sole label as American, we haven't for a while now so it's time to act like it. We are Christians, which means we are to be Christ. Christ was constantly going, discipling and sending. Never staying anywhere for too long. Loving each and every person He came into contact with. Some love was tough to recognize, and some love was unmistakable Grace. All genuine and real, the perfect example for us to be and share.

So we've made this mildly radical move to be Christ to our neighbors, our friends, our schools, our co-workers and anyone Christ might have us cross paths with. We are excited to be Christ! We've spent a lot of time learning what that means, and we've got plenty more learning to do for sure, but we are experiencing success. We are helping others feel loved, we are learning that we struggle with helping others feel loved unconditionally so we are self evaluating again, asking God to not only reveal our flaws but to allow his perfection to flow through us so that people begin to feel Him. We've entered into others lives, learning about them and are now beginning to really introduce some of them to who our Lord is and why He is. It's cosmically exciting!

This year we'll be celebrating one of the most awesome victories of Christ we've taken part in to date. As we travel to North Carolina in the fall, Jason will baptize my mom. We've been loving her for years now and we are being blessed with the opportunity to take our family to her church where all of her family is and witness her life dedication to Christ. We haven't made any specific plans of this yet, but I can only imagine our sons will be old enough to not just watch but also to participate in this ceremony. Little things like filling the basin with water or bringing her a towel will be perfect things for them to do. And how powerful is it to see an elder in your family whom you love make such a profession of love to Christ? Some of us may have had wonderfully spiritual grandparents or parents but do you remember watching them get baptized? Or helping with the baptism?

Awesome tingly feeling inside right now right?! Children being able to participate in traditions of our faith, not just put on stage to perform and left in the back of the building the rest of the time, out of sight out of mind. No, these precious gifts are getting to participate in the growth and maturity of the Kingdom. Learning by example and constantly bringing their pure-heartedness and innocence back to the table. An equal opportunity of learning for both young and old.

One of my causes for frustration with the traditional church format is that we (the "grown ups") are expected to know it all, have it all together and not talk about or share it publicly when we don't. We are expected to show up and give our money each week and enjoy the production of worship while we send our children off to volunteers that we know nothing about (as far as their spiritual status, emotional well being and ability to model Christ for our children in and out of the classroom) hoping that they can teach our children enough about Christ to get them through their childhood.

Then we send them to the teen group and hope that all the trips and game nights we send them to and fork cash out for will result in their salvation, preferably before they are old enough to have sex and go off to college. But the time arrives and we send them off to a private school, frequently sending them into debt and all the time wondering, "Why are they struggling with life? I did everything I was supposed to."

I'll tell you why they are struggling... they don't know who they are, why they are here or what they are supposed to be doing with their lives. AND THEY DON'T KNOW WHERE TO LOOK FOR ANSWERS!

Whew! Well, now that I've got that off my chest, let me unwrap it a little for you in my mind. I believe in excluding children, separating the family unit inside the safe walls of church and encouraging the parents to wear masks there is no instruction on how to be a family, how to follow Christ and how to be honest, open, transparent and even real with your children. No parenting guidance no witness of struggle and most importantly victory over the struggles. No witness to Grace both given and received. Without those examples how can the children understand what exactly it is Christ has to offer them? Face it, most of our children grow up overly privelaged, they don't need Christ. It is our jobs, and solely our jobs as their parents, the ones in which Christ entrusted His babies, to show them. Children do what they see, not what they hear.

But now I'm ready to move on and talk about what I think can be done about these concerns of mine. I think that if we as the church can learn to be a family again and in discipling as Christ instructs us to do so, share our discovery we can slowly heal the wounds and scars of family division and maybe give Christ a chance for our children. If we can show them even the smallest of struggles and the tiniest of victories, they might learn that He is real. He is no Santa. He is not miraculous because of our imagination but because of our real life healing and transformation.

In order for something like this to occur our family unit must be pulled together as much as possible. All the family spending time apart, especially when the children are young and maleable is the worst thing we can do. There are so many outside influences... too many to overcome! Keep your family close, read together every day. Have a meal together. Talk about life. Take field trips together. Don't allow each other to live parallel lives but enter into life with one another. Relate to one another. See each others suffering, see each others triumphs. Praise Christ together. Sing together. Play together. Love together. Fight together. Ride Bikes, climb mountains, pick up trash. Turn off the T.V. Go to birthday parties. Don't give free time away. Make all non-essential work/school time, family time. At first it might be difficult as we all want space, but face it, we have too much space! You don't need more space, you need community with your loved ones.

So now I can almost hear your eyes rolling. Yes this is practical. I'll tell you how we are doing it. We have identified the people God wants us to love and we are spending time with them. We watch Madison twice a week and our children will grow up together, learning lessons from each other and bringing our families close creating opportunities to share with each other. Jason plays dungeons and dragons as a hobby and he has not only introduced our children to the game, but he has brought his group of friends to our home to play with our children. They are delighting in our children and our children are delighting in them. It is wonderful to see relationships grow despite age barriers. We've spent time on a regular basis helping our single neighbor and we are doing it with things that our children can participate in. Every little bit helps and I can only imagine how many more doors Christ will open for us with these individuals if we continue to be obedient in love with our family unit united. I anticipate even more watching our children as they grow into adults, how these experiences of life will shape them and hopefully allow them to better grasp their purpose and relationship with Christ.

After such a long post, I'll leave you with a few images:

Family Church looks a lot like a little boy on a trampoline, experiencing and stretching his natural limits. Feeling God around him, as he jumps higher and higher trying to grasp the clouds, the robe tail of our Maker.

It also looks like a Daddy and his boys, enjoying each others company as they use technology to expand their understanding of our Lord and the traditions that we celebrate. Engaging one another to learn and trust and grow in faith and knowledge.

It might even look like a tiny little girl, almost not a baby anymore, anticipating her point of participation in our home worship service. It was her turn to blow out the candles when we were done with the weekly readings. She is attentively waiting for her role to be fulfilled.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011


This may come as a shock to some of you, to others that I've hugged recently I apologize but you must know something about me. I'm not a hugger. Never really have been. There's probably some great psychological explanation as to why but for now we'll suffice it to say, I'm not really into squishing my squishyness into someone elses squishyness (and even less so if they aren't squishy at all!)

The one exception to this is my children. (For those of you concerned about our marriage we do our fair share of hugging.) But something about these tiny creatures we brought into this world have made me forget, or overcome, or just plain ignore my preference of not hugging. It helps they are so tiny and cuddly and well, squishy! There's that word again. Why is their squishy ok, but not other peoples' squishy? Well, I think I discovered something today that might help me understand.

My oldest son is no longer a baby, he is as far away from being a baby as he is from being on the brink of adolesence. It's scary actually. Today was his first day back to school from Christmas Break and yesterday we spent the whole day running around doing fun errands and the entire day he kept hugging me and saying "I love you Mommy" in a very quiet voice. I thought yesterday was one of the best days we've had in a LONG time. I thought it was because we were getting things done, doing them together, having fun and just relishing each others presence. And it was to a certain extent.

But really it ended up being so awesome to me because I was getting these hugs all day long. Getting so much love in return for the love I always have (though I don't always show it quite the right way) was fantastic. It made me feel, I don't know, extra loved, appreciated, special even. It's one of those feelings you want to seal up in a jar and keep it in your back pocket so the next time you get run over by life you have it right there to remind you why life is indeed so awesome.

Fast forward to this morning. I've been dreading this morning for a few days now as it means we are going back to waking the big boy up early and he is an absolute nightmare to get up and get moving for school. Well, trying to stay positive and focus on his friends and the fun parts of school I started to wake him up. Seeing him all cozy in his bed and warm and well just plain squishy, I wanted to jump right in and that's exactly what I did. I got into bed with him. Hugging him, quietly talking to him and loving on him until he started to speak back. It took us about 5 minutes and he was ready to get up. He dressed himself, ate his breakfast, was ready to brush his teeth & hair and get going to school nice and early. It was so refreshing and I thought, "wow, maybe we won't homeschool him, maybe we'll keep him in public school if he can be this positive and eager about it."

I started to pry a little trying not to dampen the mood, and he wanted to focus on making the line (so he walks into his class with all his other classmates, instead of his usual walk as slow as possible to delay getting to class on time). Other comments he made were the same, he doesn't have fun, he doesn't want to go, he only likes his two friends, school is boring, blah, blah, blah. So what was different? His outlook just seemed better, he seemed to be feeling extra confident, less bothered by disappointments, special even.

Do you see the connection? It was the hugs that made the difference. At least that's what I belive. Of course tomorrow will only tell if that's true and weeks from now when I'm in a sour mood and he decides he doesn't want to go to school for real, and years from now when he no longer appreciates my hugs, will there be something better to keep us connected and loved and special? I'm torn at this point between saying, "I hope so" and "Hugs will never go out of style for us."

So my thought about the squishyness. I think my babies' squishy is so tempting because it's not about them, it's about me. I want to squish them so I do. I feel love from it and I know they benefit immensely as we can attest to the change in our second son from being hugged & held so much. But when they are young those hugs aren't nearly as special as they are when they are older and capable of reciprocating the love that a hug represents.

So my breakthrough that will allow me to hug others more freely is that it's not about me. Wow! Why is that almost always the answer?


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