Sunday, January 29, 2012

The Kingdom has grown!!

Alexander and Daniel decided this week that they want to live for Christ! What an awesome experience to see our children want to accept the gift God has given us in Jesus' sacrifice. We are ecstatic about their decision!!! These children have come to Christ and though they have many years ahead of them we hope their faith, love and trust in our Saviour will get them through it all and offer them a sense of peace in times of war, a sense of urgency in the stillness, a sense of passion among the dull. For God offers so much to each of us, both those that suffer physically, emotionally or not at all. The God of the universe and the angels are rejoicing this week as the Kingdom has grown by two!

Daniel also chose to be baptized today and here are some photos of that wonderful event! (I'm sure you're wondering why Alexander did not also get baptized and it's because he didn't want to. We'll let you know when he changes his mind.)

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Until Inconvenienced, Do You Part?

Well, it was about this time, six years ago I was preparing to get on a plane and leave the gorgeous weather of California (and lots of other really important things!) for Texas.

In the years since moving to Texas we've had many friends bring cases of divorce across our paths, for advice, support or healing. It's been a very difficult learning curve as most couples we encountered had been married longer than us. Often the pleas were for actions or inaction's and deep down the individual wanting the divorce felt that their spouse not fulfilling a particular task, was somehow saying, "I don't love you."

So the couples would bicker and fight and in the end, they would give up and their inconveniences would come before their promises and they would part ways. In search of something.

Well, we all know what they were searching for, they were searching for unconditional love. Just in all the wrong places. There is only one place that unconditional love can be found. Christ. He and He alone (with the Father and the Spirit, so I guess He's not totally alone!) can provide us with that. No human can fill that void. The void can be caused by many things, but only He is vast enough to fill it completely.

More recently, I've wondered about the other side of the story for all those divorced couples. The ones that eventually gave up, but didn't want the separation, the ones that did not realize their actions, or lack there of was sending the message of "I don't love you". How is it that the arrangement is fair for them? They lose everything, the house, the children, a large portion of their paycheck. They were under the impression that it would only be death that would separate them and now it's their spouse's inconvenience. OUCH! (True this might be a sexist, over generalization of divorce, but it is none the less, what I have encountered more often than not).

So why am I bringing this topic up as we approach the "hallmark" holiday of love? Well, because I don't think it's just a hallmark holiday. Yes, I think you can show your loved ones just how special they are everyday of the week. But you can also take extra care to lavish them with your maximum capacity of love once a year (and no that doesn't just mean spending money). Something that is far more valuable than money is your time and your heart.

It is believed that St. Valentine unlawfully married peoples when the king (or queen, I can't remember) outlawed marriage because single young men made better soldiers than young husbands. When Valentine's actions were discovered he was sentenced to death. While awaiting his execution he fell in love and before his death wrote his lovely lady a letter, signing it "From Your Valentine." The sadness of the story adds to the romanticism of it all and the remarkableness that is love. Even in the darkest hour, awaiting death, Love is there.

The bible says, "...Love is patient. Love is kind. It does not want what belongs to others. It does not brag. It is not proud. It is not rude. It does not look out for its own interests. It does not easily become angry. It does not keep track of other people's wrongs. Love is not happy with evil. But it is full of joy when the truth is spoken. It always protects. It always trusts. It always hopes. It never gives up.
Love never fails..."

Let's hope we all do a double take as we approach this time of love and make sure we are sending the right message to our loved ones. Take time to fill yourselves up on the unconditional love offered to each of us so you have enough to go around.

O, and it wouldn't kill you to buy her something sparkly or him something shiny=P

Monday, January 9, 2012

These Last Ten Years...

In the last ten years I've done a few things. Let's recap to see if I can complain about turning the big 3-0.

I swam and played water polo in college. I learned about country music. I married the perfect man. I went on my first grown up vacation. I forgave God and recommitted my life to Him. I was baptized. I achieved my life dream to run my own swim team. I coached future Olympic hopefuls. I graduated from college. I bought my first house. I had a baby. I learned a new level of forgiveness. I moved to Texas. I learned how to make friends again. I bought my dream home. I had another baby. I survived post-partum depression. I fell in love with my little family. I learned yet another level of forgiveness. I experienced a change of heart. I ran my first 5k. I learned to give grace. I learned to receive grace. I learned the power of God first hand. I went to New York and fell in love with Manhattan. I recommitted more of my life to Christ. I went to Seattle. I went to London. I shared my home with a homeless woman and her children. I had a baby girl. I sold my dream home to fulfill God's dream. I ran my first 10K. I found a new home. I found a new dream. I became a missionary. I went on a cruise. I ran a half marathon. I went to Montana. I made friends for life. I maintained life long friends. I did my first road trip (1700 miles!). I made it home from the road trip (another 1700!). I created new traditions. I kept old traditions alive. I taught my children. My children have taught me. I changed. I grew. I lived well. I loved better.

It appears to me that I did not waste my 20s and indeed they have created quite the expectation for my 30s. Let's just hope they can live up to the magic. But just in case it can't I'm going to pretend I'm 29 for the rest of my life ;-D

Friday, January 6, 2012

Happy 2012!!

WOW! The first blog of the new year, is happening during the first week of the new year!! That's huge in the blogsphere (I think). Anyway, I've been thinking about the direction I wanted to head with this blog since I did my 30 Days of Gratitude. I contemplated lots of daily challenges and couldn't decide on just one to fulfill for 365 days (that's a really LONG time!). Plus, I'm not sure a regular basis blogging daily goal is right for me, I'm not nearly reliable enough!

Well, we find ourselves in 2012 and some of us are happy to just have made it through 2011, others are sad to see 2011 behind us, some are scared for the new year and others are excited about the future this year holds, some things secret, some things known. Either way I think we rang in the new year in great fashion.

In our house, I'm not really sure what this year holds for us. Most of our life seems to be status quo, but with lots of twists and surprises around every corner. So when I was standing in a group of friends after way too many hours of partying on new year's and listening to their hopes for the year ahead I became aware of my own hope. To be a family that happily gives sacrificially.

Sure we give. We even give a lot. Some would even say we give too much. But I look around and we are a full fridge family that has proper clothes, shoes and even toys for our children. As adults we have lots of "toys" we want too and we have a good amount of those. We drive reliable vehicles, afford trips and vacations to see our family and loved ones. We do not spend money frivolously if we can avoid it to make sure we have lots to give away. But I catch myself, spending a little here and a little there on little things that don't matter and it all adds up.

Our children were very loved at Christmas this year (as usual) and they got some neat things. They got money and gift cards for Christmas too. Well, I think that maybe we haven't done a great job showing our children about giving because they weren't really concerned with sharing their money. They didn't spend it all and I know that seems silly of them to tithe a gift or set aside an amount to send to St. Jude's or something, but that is what we (Jason & I) do and I would like our children to do the same.

My hope is that our children realize they are blessed and well cared for and have abundance, and with that abundance they can make the world a better place. So here's to 365 days of happily giving sacrificially as a family.

P.S. Step one is starting today with the lesson to learn this month: "You don't have to do what you want to do" I know my hopes are high, but let's face it, they can be high because I rely on God.