Tuesday, January 31, 2012

The Uber-Talented One

My beautiful and sweet sister came to see me this weekend!  Amelia dared spend a weekend with us.  I think all I offered her was Honey Nut Cheerios and leftover spaghetti so she may never come back.  Now that she is a married woman with a real job, I feel like she is getting closer to my age (umm, 29.) 

I marvel at this girl sometimes.  While walking past Hallmark, we saw a door hanging that we fell in love with.  After finding out the cost and refusing to pay it, she said, "I can make that."  I had no doubt!  The girl is crafty and fearless.  I would have walked out of Hobby Lobby discouraged, thinking I wouldn't even know what to buy to make such a thing, but she just waltzed in there, loaded up the cart, came home, and threw this beautiful baby together. 

Isn't it adorable?  {Thank you Mini!}

I think of my baby sister and marvel at how similar we are...we are both easily moved to tears with compassion and can't handle seeing someone in need.  We both are sensitive and tender hearted.  We both have a gorgeous Momma and kind Daddy.  We both were blessed with wise husbands who lead well.  We both could eat Mexican three meals a day. 

But, as she grows older, I realize how God made us completely different.  She is courageous and willing to try new adventures.  She hates reading but loves investing in whole classrooms of children at a time.  She has the ability to immediately make people feel loved and special...she seems to have a special favor with everyone God puts in her path.  While I love to study God's Word, she loves to live it out.  She is more forgiving than I could ever hope to be.  She is a giver to the core wanting absolutely nothing in return.  And she is a fashionista who tries her best to keep me up with the trends.

I can't tell you how thankful I am that God surprised us with her...she has added light and joy to my heart in so many ways!

 {Scott and Amelia with my three hooligans}

{photo courtesy Todd Owens Photography}

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Coming Home

I am plopped on the top bunk trying to not bang my head or completely lose myself in the wad of covers.  It is the second born's domain and it. is. messy.  I peer down the ladder at him and ask which stuffed animal he wants to take to the sleepover.  The blankets are a given.  He has slept with them for 9 years and a week; I know they are going into the overnight bag. 

But, the growing boy surprises me.  He shows me his desire for autonomy, perhaps even a taste of manhood.

"I am not taking any animals.  Or my blankets."  I almost laugh out loud and tell him the absurdity of not taking his blankets.  I make it clear we would not be bringing him blankets in the middle of the night and that it really is OK to hide them deep in his bag for insomnia-induced-emergencies.

But, the boy, now small man, looks at me with fierce eyes.  "No.  They are all staying here.  They can have their own bunking party."

I feel in my spirit this isn't the right choice, but I also feel in my spirit that it is time to allow this boy-man to make decisions.  Eli gets dropped off.  The animals and blankets are left to themselves with the mess called his bed.

Things are going so smoothly.  The back of my eyelids greet me and I feel a deep sleep coming on.  Perhaps deeper than I thought, for I barely hear the ring of my phone.  My thoughts turn to my friend's girl, Lily, a long awaited baby that is due anytime.  The mantra "Lily is coming" carries my feet into the kitchen only to catch the voicemail.  Eli can't sleep.  We are bringing him home.

I greet my sweet boy-man at the door and put him to bed.  Eric awakens the next morning a little shocked that we have more than two children at home.  In his wise style, he pulls Eli aside and takes a reading of his heart.  He fathers with grace and mercy and understanding.  I am overwhelmed at God's goodness of giving me him to be their Daddy. 

"You know, when I was a little boy...."  And off comes another story of his childhood.  It cuts straight to the point.  Eric wants the boys to know that he was them once.  He wants them to know that he knows their hearts.  He wants them to know that they are accepted and cherished.  He talks with grace instead of anger or condemnation.  I have so much to learn from the leader of our home.

It is why I will always point those boys to their father.  For one, Eric was a boy and gets boys.  Second, he is the authority of our home.  Third, he scoops out mercy and grace as if he were putting sugar on plain Cheerios.  {And those boys know how to lick up the sugary leftovers once the milk is gone.}  Fourth, he can discern reality faster than I can.  He knows how to cut to the chase and deal with the matter leaving drama behind before it ever shows its head.

Eric often reminds me of the father of the prodigal son...allowing his sons to start to choose their own way, but always in the background with arms wide open when they simply need to come home.

Mercy always lets the boy-man come home.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

The Winner Is???

Congrats #4 Vanessa L...you are the winner of the necklace!!

{random.org chose the results}

Thursday, January 26, 2012

GIVEAWAY: Kisses From Katie Book Review

It was a risky prayer, but I felt like it was the one that God was telling me to pray.  Break my heart for what breaks Yours.

Few books have left me undone like this one.  Radical by David Platt came close, but Kisses From Katie by Katie Davis is so much more personal, that is sucked me in and then left me shattered in a million pieces after the last page.

My prayer had been answered:  God broke my heart.

Now my prayer is that He will put it back together but only if it is going to resemble His.

What kind of courage consumes a high school girl to quit everything she has ever known to go live among a people group that doesn't even speak the same language?  She quit her family.  She quit her hopes of college and a career.  She quit her boyfriend and dreams of marriage.  She quit her social status, sports car, and designer shoes.  She quit her stocked fridge and cozy home.

What made her quit?  It can only be the compelling love of Christ.  And I am ashamed to say that she seems to have a better grasp of it than I do.

Katie Davis travelled to Uganda, fell in love with the people and heard God's call.  She was to love them.  Her love would take on many forms, from digging out jiggers that had burrowed into children's feet to feeding those children, to telling them how precious they are in God's sight. 

Her love, which in simplicity was Christ's love, would be enough. 

I don't know about you, but I wrestle with the fact that I can never do enough.  I can mentor one person, but there are countless others that need love poured into them.  I can buy one goat for a family in need, but then I think of all the other families that could use the provision of a goat.  I can pack one shoebox, but then I think there might be a child left without a shoebox.  I just want to help everyone.

I think that is where Satan wants us.  He wants us to fall into the despair that Christ's love is never enough.  He wants us to think that pouring into just one life will never make a difference because there are countless others who need help. 

This is where the book has helped me tremendously.  Katie wrestled with the same thoughts and God whispered to her that one is enough.  She says "He assured me that He would hold the others while they wait for someone to come along and give them their milk and their medicine.  He doesn't ask me to take them all but to stop for just one, because, as I do it for one of 'the least of these' I do it for Him. I felt deep in my spirit that He was teaching me to care for the one person in front of me.  Stop for the little boy with white hair and scabs covering his body; stop for the baby girl with feces covering her dress, so weak that she can't hold up her head.  Stop and love the ones right in front of me and trust Him with the rest.  He whispered that it would be okay and that I didn't have to be angry, I could smile because one less baby was hungry, and that was good enough for that day."

We don't have to wrestle with the statistics anymore, because in God's eyes, the one person we touch with His love is a life changed for His glory. 

The question that consumes me now is am I willing to stop for one?  Was this not the preferred method of Jesus as He walked the earth...stopping for the woman who touched his cloak...stopping for the man who had been lowered through the roof...stopping for Nicodemus...stopping for the blind man.  Jesus stopped for the one.

I won't disclose the amazing God-stories that Katie tells, but I will say that she was obedient to the point of adopting fourteen little girls who needed someone to call Mommy.  She is only 22 and is raising more than four times the amount of children I have.

Such conviction.  Such passion.  Such obedience.  Such faith.

At one point in the book, I could hold it in no longer.  Katie describes her experiences in coming to know the people of Masese, a slum community.  Originally cattle farmers, these people have been stripped of their land and have no means in which to provide for themselves.  Things that we "good" Christians would frown upon have become their livelihood.

I started bawling on page 188.  Beatrice was introduced as a mother of three children who would leave her children at home asleep as she rushed into the night to sell her body simply so that she could put some food on the table for them the next day.

I know now that without grace, I am that person.  I am Beatrice, with three children and no trade and no husband and I must go do what I abhor in order to ensure that my children live for just one more day.

The blood of Jesus on my life is enough to leave me undone when I have eyes to see all around.

Other moms in Masese brew alcohol and then feed it to their children when food is gone in order to take away their hunger pains.  Without grace, I am that mom who keeps her children drunk just to take away a measure of their pain.

Katie saw the need.  She knows she doesn't have enough food for all, but she came up with a plan for honorable work.  She taught the ladies how to make beaded necklaces out of recycled paper.  The women sit in circles and laugh and learn about Jesus and go home knowing they did work that didn't strip away their souls.  Katie ships the necklaces to the states where people may order them through her ministry, Amazima, which means truth.

I look around and I see.  I see that we as Americans are consumed with materialism and self gratification and it leaves no room to see others.  I see that we know the Bible, but we pick and choose the parts that we want to hear and put to practice.  I see, but I am still undone as to what to do. 

Right now, I will ask Jesus to give me grace to stop for one.  I will buy a necklace, knowing that one lady was given a chance to not steal away into the night.

Here is the giveaway part!  I am giving away a necklace made by a lady in Masese.  It is simple.  It is beautiful.  It reminds me that I can't save everyone, but I can be willing to stop for the one.

The necklace comes in this adorable burlap bag and will be shipped to you if you aren't local.  Giveaway ends Saturday, January 28th at 5 p.m. central time.  All you have to do is leave a comment.  In the meantime, I hope you will buy the book and savor in God's goodness!

Wednesday, January 25, 2012


Buried deep, God tells me it is OK to be in the dark.  Good things come from death.  Resurrection for one.  Fruit for another.

It isn't my comfortable place, though.  I know now I wrestle with this thing called faith.  I don't do well when I can't see.  I am OK with God being Lord and Master and calling the shots, but when He doesn't disclose what those plans are, that is where I start to fall apart.  {As in, sit on my bed for three hours, shaking, snot running down my face, thinking I am going to explode unless He starts to speak again.}

He tells me that He won't speak unless I simply rest and know that He is God.  This is my weakness:  resting without being able to see.  Blindness isn't pretty on me.  And yet, God insists that I know Him in the dark as well I as do in the light. 

He needs me to know that resurrection is on the way.  I think of Jesus buried deep and disciples full of questions and wavering faith and I know God wants me to know that I am not the first to question and the first to doubt and the first to give up hope.

On the flip side of the cross, He tells me that it is alright to hope because I have the luxury of knowing that He is risen.  I know without a doubt that resurrection occurs after death.  I know that my victory is in His blood and that His blood is very much alive.

So, in this moment, I choose rest.  I opt for peace.  Striving with my Maker gets me nowhere except a dose of woe.  Apparently, this lump of clay needs to learn to let the Potter do His thing.  And rest, knowing the end result would be better than anything I could have come up with.  I never was good at art, anyway.

But, I hope for resurrection.  New life.  A tree of life to sprout from the earth.

"Hope deferred makes the heart sick but when the desire is fulfilled, it is a tree of life."

Praying for fresh desire and spiritual life, Jesus.  But content to wait on your timing.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Shooting and Driving

I would never text while driving...
so why do I think it is ok to shoot and drive?

Friday, January 20, 2012

2012: Time to Organize!

So, I have this book called Organized Simplicity.  I really like it, I just need a kick in the pants to start doing what it promotes.  One thing it says is to only keep what has beauty or use.  If it isn't beautiful to you or you can't find a use for it, then give it a kick out the front door so you can have more space to breathe! 

If I had a schedule that allowed for the 10 day program this book calls for, then I would start.  But, my life seems to give me only snippets to devote to organization, so I thought I would tackle one small project every week.  Not enough to overwhelm me, but enough for me to see some change and hopefully keep me spurred on! 

My first project was my cookbook.  I print ALOT of recipes via food network and pinterest.  Today, I combined them in a much larger (and cuter!) binder and purged all the recipes we don't love as a family.  I love to cook (or at least eat good food) so this was a practical thing to do to aid our family.  It gave a huge feeling of accomplishment, as well!

 The second project was our sock drawer.  Eric and I have shared a sock drawer all 13 1/2 years of marriage.  I think it is the secret for having a happy marriage.  {Ha.}

Eric wears dress socks everyday and always has to hold them up to the light in the mornings to see what color he is holding.  I found a divider at Target and separated the piles into black, navy, and brown/tan.  I left a slot for athletic socks, and voila, the man has it so easy in the mornings!  There is something about an organized sock drawer that just makes it easier to breathe in the mornings!  Love it!

What organizational projects are you tackling?

Thursday, January 19, 2012


Did you see the sunset last night?  It was so spectacular!  Orange, pink, purple, blue...every hue was on display for God's glory!  What an Artist He is!

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

The Shining

I sat and trembled forth a few words to two dear souls.  "I think I may write something..."

I had stumbled upon a site that takes guest submissions.  But that fear of rejection.  Or even worse, the fear of no answer at all...the silence treatment always hurts the worst.  And of course, the fear of being in the spotlight.  And then the fear of pride.  So many fears. 

Putting yourself out there is risky.

I have struggled with how to live this life, this calling of being a light on a hill, and yet, not promote myself.  I have always thought that God would set up people as He pleases, and I still believe that, but I wonder if I am the one covering myself with a bowl as is described in Matthew 5:14-16.

"Here's another way to put it; You're here to be light, bringing out the God-colors in the world.  God is not a secret to be kept.  We're going public with this, as public as a city on a hill.  If I make you light-bearers, you don't think I'm going to hide you under a bucket, do you?  I'm putting you on a light stand.  Now that I've put you there on a hilltop, on a light stand--shine!  Keep open house, be generous with your lives.  By opening up to others, you'll prompt people to open up with God, this generous Father in heaven."  {Jesus}

Verse 16 says I should let my light shine before men, that they may see my good deeds and praise the Father in heaven.  The motive is not to be seen, but it is God-ordained that I am shining so that God can be seen.  The beauty is that in my good works,  I won't be praised at all, but instead, my Father in heaven.

It seems to tie in to my word for the year:  fruit.  God is telling me that I won't produce it without Him, so I don't have to worry about trying to produce it myself.  But, He is also saying that I don't have to fear good deeds, because He will be getting the glory!  If anything good comes out of me, it is from a total dependence on Him.  It will be a total reliance on His power, where only He can receive praise.

{And I smile and know God is real because I hear this new song in my earbuds right this moment:  Wake up child, it is your turn to shine.  You were born for such a time as this.  He's calling.  You were born for such a time as this.  Lyrics by Jesus Culture.}

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Death Precedes Growth

Something happened at the end of last year that left me totally undone.  I am empty and don't know exactly how to get filled again.  I seem to be missing a chunk of me.  I am not depressed or sad or angry or confused.  Just blank.

I sit down to pray and nothing for my life or future will spill forth.  I have no problem praying for others, but anything concerning me just won't come out.

It is as if God stripped me bare and then sat back down on His throne, to see how I would respond.  I think my response has been an acceptable one.  Praise.  Faith.  Tears.

But, now I am empty.  I start to pray, but there is no desire left in me.  I am scared of any desire that is inside, knowing desire can bring such ache, so I  have discarded it.  All of it.

Any expectations of my life...any ambition, dream, hope...anything I have prayed for is now dead.

And yet, oddly, I think this is exactly where I am supposed to be.  My word for the year is fruit.  Isn't it just like the Master Gardener, in this first month of the year, to take my little self, plant me in the rich soil, bury me in the dark earth, and step back.

If my one word for the year is fruit, then doesn't death always have to precede growth?  John 12:24-25 says "Truly truly I say unto you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.  Whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life."

So, the first principle of bearing fruit is of death.  Growth will only occur once death has occurred.  Death of the seed precedes growth of the fruit.

As I lay in bed at night trying to pray, I realize that I am where I am meant to be.  Crucified with Christ.  No longer living.  Buried deep in the rich earth, protected by the Master Gardener.  I have no desires, but I can pray that His desires start to infiltrate my frame so that as I burst through the dirt, I will have the passions of the Master.

The Party!

As you get older, you learn the wise way to do kid birthday parties:

1.  Don't spend money on hyped up places like Jump Zone
2.  Invite kids over to play, because that's all kids want to do anyway
3.  Keep it simple...especially if it is going to be at your own home
4.  Invite about half the amount of kids, that way you have your sanity at the end of the day
5.  Don't waste money on party favor/treat bags...it is your child's birthday, not the guests'
6.  Do one fun out of the ordinary thing...this year, we went with banana splits instead of cake

Speaking of banana splits...here is the lineup:

 The whole caboodle.  (Don't you just wish that your kid could come over and get all sugared up?!!)
 The streusel cake for the family party later that night...per Eli's request
 Eli with his balloon family!

Clean up:  simple
Eli's happiness factor:  10
{and a huge thank you to God for beautiful weather so I could kick them all outside!}

Saturday, January 14, 2012

2nd born. What a Joy. (happy birthday eli)

2nd born baby of mine, you came into this world weighing over 10 pounds, ready to conquer the world...or at least your bigger brother.  9 years ago, your squishiness overtook my heart.  Now, your gentle spirit and quick wit have taken over the residence.  You are excellent at whatever you try your hand at...school, sports, bible memorization, giving speeches, winning over the hearts of all...God has definitely put His mark of favor on you.  I just want you to know that you have provided 9 years of solid joy for me as a mother.  What a (large) gift God placed in my lap nine years ago. 

Your name means "The Lord is my God."  We pray that your life will echo this truth forevermore.  We release you to be who God has created you to be.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Camera Therapy

Two whole weeks went by without me picking up the camera.  I was in need of a major break-up with the apparatus that usually hangs from my neck.  But, today I kind of missed my old pal.  I think I should name my camera.  Any suggestions?  This is a big deal, kind of like naming my 4th child.  So, be creative!  (Oh, and I am 99% sure that beloved camera is female.)