Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Husbands need romance, too.

I wrote an encouraging note to a friend on frilly stationary, sealed it an envelope and smiled to think how this might bless her heart in some very small way.

The sandwich, thermos, fruit and goldfish were arranged with care in a sparkly Hello Kitty Lunchbox. Ontop the food lay a carefully scripted note intended for an emergent reader's eyes. I prayed over her lunchtime, that she would know Mom loved her.. that the One who created her loved her even more.. and that she'd be a light for Him in that tiny little seat she'd be sitting on.

Words of affirmation flowed out of my mouth, encouraging two highly energized fair headed children. Whispered I love you's were met with impossibly strong hugs from tiny little limbs.

My phone chimed with a familiar tone, alerting me of a message from a very special, tall and handsome blonde person. The words were simple, unpoetic, and spoke volumes to me. My heart burst with joy at the very small gesture, making me love my husband even more.

And it struck me. He needs these words, too. If I could be so very happy over such simple words at a very random point in time, why wouldn't he be?

My husband has a knack for surprising me with the most mundane but unexplainably awesome gifts. I broke out in a maniacal laugh at finding an ice cold Dr. Pepper and king-size Snickers in my car one day when I went to run errands. Another day, I noticed a CD I had been wanting- too cheap to buy for myself- appear on my iTunes account. And yet another time, there was a simple note waiting for me on the bathroom counter.

When all the crazies had settled in for a time of rest, I knew just what to do. I pulled out my pretty stationary, which may not be appreciated as much from a man's eyes as my friends, and began writing. Words of gratitude for my husband, and words of love poured from my heart and onto the paper. I tearfully placed the card in a place I knew he would find it.

Later that night, my husband found the card. And while he didn't break out in an ugly cry like his female counter-part would have, I knew my card spoke volumes to his heart.

So.. I may be the one who is in most need of lots of romance and might freak out a little bit more over very tiny, unexpected tokens of love, I know that my husband needs a little romancing, too.

I'd encourage you to do the same for yours. It doesn't have to be something that empties your bank account. It doesn't even have to be a thing. Just let your husband know you love him.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

3 Things

I'm not gonna lie. Today has been exceptionally awesome.

Amidst the ruckus and commotion of getting ready for school, my favorite first grader become overly distraught over a knot in her cross necklace. Well, knot is an understatement. It may take the jaws of life to get that thing undone. She was near hysteria claiming that she HAD to wear it to school that day.

I sensed something lurking beneath her shrieks of "you have to fix this, Mom!!" As best I could, I explained that I could not in fact fix it and that it would have to wait.

Her face dropped in defeat. She was so hoping to wear the necklace to school, certain that no one in her school knew about Jesus… and she needed to share with them about who He was and what the cross means. Bless it.

Several hours later, I stood outside in the crisp Autumn air looking for a particularly beautiful preschooler. Her long blonde hair was easy to spot in the flurry of classmates that surrounded to her. I called out to my favorite preschooler and she ran into my arms, exclaiming how she'd missed me today.

The Director of her program made her way to me with questioning eyes. "I just have to ask. When will you be expecting your adopted son to be home?"

I explained to her where our hearts were on the matter and the point of the process we are at.

"You know, she has just been talking and talking about the new brother she will have! I thought you might be bringing him home tomorrow by how excited she is!"

After several minutes of conversation regarding orphan care, adoption, foster care and how we're preparing our children's hearts for a new sibling.. I made my way to the car, and unleashed the ugly cry. Tears of gratitude and thanksgiving over the Lord softening my sweet girl's heart and making it ready for a new sibling were streaming down my face.

I cleaned my face up just in time to share a meal with the two smalls at Chick-fil-a. Once inside and seated, I noticed that the area we were seated in was shared with a class of special needs children. Their excited chatter about nuggets and soft drinks played a sweet symphony while we ate.

One of the managers came to the middle of the area ready to pass out goodies to the kids. Upon receiving his stuffed cow, one boy excitedly proclaimed, " I LOVE YOU!! I LOVE YOU ALL!! I AM SO HAPPY! I LOVE YOU ALL!" His joy was unhindered for a good 15 minutes as he exclaimed his love.

I wanted to hug his neck and tell him that he was totally my people! It's exactly how I feel every time I'm in Chick Fil A, too! God bless sweet tea and nuggets, Amen.

Friday, November 15, 2013

That one time my husband went to Haiti

My awesome husband is traveling to Haiti next summer with a great team from our church.

Our church is partnering with Coreluv International to provide hope and the message of Jesus to lots of precious Haitian kiddo's.

Here's what Coreluv is all about:

There are more than 200,000,000 orphans in the world today and only 250,000 are adopted each year. At this rate, it would take 572 years to adopt each of the world’s current orphans, not including the 1750 children that continue to be orphaned every day. The sad truth is that most orphans will not be adopted and that is what drives Coreluv International to step up and do something. Our dream is to bring hope to orphans, through Jesus Christ, by partnering with communities and orphanages around the world to provide 6 basic needs: clean water, food, education, healthcare, job skills and a loving environment to call home. Coreluv International is now partnering with orphanages and feeding centers in Haiti. We are working there to provide these needs and see hope returned to an impoverished and disaster stricken country. Why do we take orphan care so seriously? Because, unless someone defends them they are defenseless, unless someone speaks for them they will not be heard. James 1:27 says: “Pure and genuine religion in the sight of God the Father means caring for orphans and widows.” We believe this scripture is not a suggestion but a commandment, something the Church MUST do.

We're passionate about Jesus, about loving others, and about ministering to orphans. We'd love for you to join us on this journey by supporting the trip!

We've got a great Tee you can grab for yourself.. and your neighbor… and that guy in the cubicle next to you at work… and your cousin 2 times removed! All the proceeds from the shirt sales go to fund the trip and provide hope to orphans!

We'd be so grateful for you to buy your shirt, HERE!!

Thursday, November 14, 2013

I'm a sneaky Momma.

I'm a little bit weird.. in a lot of ways. But I tend to get a bit obsessive about my kids nutrition. 

We're not super healthy people, but we don't eat at McDonalds every day either. 

We try to eat whole grains, lots of fresh produce, healthy amounts of proteins, and minimal processed stuff. 

But here lately, I've been having a doozy of a time trying to get all my littles to cram all their fruits and veggies in every day. Today…. today, I bribed them with a cookie. I'm pretty sure that totally cancels out any fruits they had at lunch, and totally negates any amount of nutrients they may have ingested. Just whatever. 

When I'm not bribing them with sweets, I like to sneak in as much nutrition as possible in the slyest ways possible. My absolute favorite fall-back method to do this is smoothies!

Oh you wonderfully delicious, Smoothie! You make fruits and veggies so delectable to the small palates that ingest you.

Because I feel like a smoothie is something you just gotta wing, I don't usually follow a recipe. I'm such a rebel. Besides, I spend too much time following recipes for much more important things. Like cookies. Ahem. 

Don't be jealous of my super fancy smoothie ingredient picture taking skills.
When making smoothies, I try to find several fruits that work well together. Lots of tropical fruits usually come to mind: pineapples, oranges (zest and juice), bananas, all kinds of berries. Then, I layer in a mild tasting vegetable. Spinach is one of my fav's! It blends well, has virtually no taste, yet packs a powerful nutritious punch! Next, I throw in some Greek yogurt. And last, I pour on some Coconut Milk. I usually don't bother with ice for several reasons. First, all my ingredients are already cold. Second, it seems like the ice tends to water down the flavors. And who wants water downed flavor?!?

Don't bother trying to measure anything. Just throw it in and see what works for you!

The end result in a delicious, frothy beverage! And if your kids are like mine, you might have to disguise the green liquid in a non-see-through-lidded cup with a colored straw. At least, until they see that they LOVE it.. and then, they'll think its totally awesome that they're drinking a "Hulk" style drink!

Bottoms up, friends!

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Tiny Hands

Tiny hands create intrinsic circles on my weary back. My mind whirls with all the tasks that I could be doing, but an impossibly heavy 30-someodd-pound frame keeps me pinned to the soft-carpeted floor.

I’m on the brink of pulling myself from this glorious relaxed state, almost absolutely sure that the laundry is multiplying at an alarming rate in the next room over.

His chipper voice breaks through my inner arguments, “More twains, mommy!!”

And just like that, I’m sure I am supposed to be here right now. I’m sure that I’m not supposed to move a muscle, except to pull myself up to play “more twains.”

There will be many more hours in the day to fold the laundry. There will many more hours in the day to tend the growing pile of dishes. But my hours with a certain little fair-headed mister who desires the company of his Momma and playing trains with her are limited, at best.

There will come a day when those tiny hands will turn into masculine, lean hands. That tiny little frame will grow in stature and tower over me one day. That chipper little voice that beckons me to play will deepen. And there will come a day that my company won’t be of utmost importance to him.

I was thisclose to missing it today; thisclose to missing out on something big, great and magnificent. I’m grateful I didn’t, and only wish I had a shirt that said, “I look like this because playing ‘twains’ was more important than 6 minutes of hot water, soap, conditioner and a hair dryer.” 

Monday, November 11, 2013

On Suffering and Trials

The grief and sorrow comes and goes in waves. Sometimes it’s a gentle lapping. Other times it seems like an overwhelming tidal wave. It beckons me to sink in despair, to shake my fists at the heavens with all my might. In the dark moments when the waves seem to come without ceasing, I am almost tempted to do just that.  When the waves are relentless, my flesh is enticed to give in to the thoughts of hopelessness. But the Spirit that abides in me beckons me to hope.

I am in an ocean of people who are suffering and walking through so many trials. My heart hurts for the mom whose children want nothing to do with her. I have sorrow for the woman who can’t seem to reconcile her broken marriage. I grieve with friends whose babies were taken from them before they could ever experience the joy of holding their precious little ones. My heart is in pain at the thought of friends struggling from inner emotional turmoil. I am heartbroken for friends who are mourning the loss of friendships in their lives.

In my own life, I haven’t been spared from grief and struggle. My husband and I had only been home from our honeymoon for 2 weeks when we learned that my Dad had stage 4 lung cancer. He went home to be with Jesus 2 short months later. Several months later, we buried my 4 year old nephew. And not too long after that, my sweet Granddad passed away. It seemed like the underlying current and theme of our first year of marriage was grief and death.

Several years later, our sweet baby boy had to be hospitalized for a week. I remember crying and crying in the emergency room as they did test after test to figure out what was making him sick. And I remember crying and crying when the fever wouldn’t come down, and just wanting it all to be over. I wanted our suffering to end. I wanted ALL the grief, not just ours, to end. But I also remember the hope that I had, and this uncanny peace that flowed within me.

I knew then- like I know now-, that God is good. Ultimately, supremely.. no matter what my circumstance is.. God is good. He is the author and creator of good. And I knew, that whatever was going on.. my Dad dying, my sweet nephew not growing up in front of our eyes, my own son suffering from a viral infection… God is good. These things were not happening to us, to me, from a malicious God who hated me.  That doesn’t change. His goodness does not stop and He only gives what is good. Even if sometimes it’s wrapped in harsh packing like trials and suffering.

I held onto the hope and promise of what is to come. I knew that God, no matter how crappy things may have gotten around me, was working for my good. In the midst of death and suffering… He was good and was working for my good, too. (Romans 8:28) I knew that I am a co-heir with Christ. (Romans 8:17) This world and my life will surely be filled with suffering and trials. But I have hope for what is to come. (Romans 8:23-25)

It is clinging to these truths that we can suffer well together. And no, I don’t mean we don’t unleash our ugly cry in the midst of grief and suffering. No, I don’t mean there won’t be moments when we truly just don’t even want to get out of bed. By “suffering well”, I don’t mean we have to be these robots who go through the motions like we are completely unphased and not even the slightest bit unnerved by the turmoil that surrounds us.

What I mean by suffer well is this… cling to deep biblical truths in the midst of all the crap that this life has sometimes. When you are eye-deep in grief, cling to the hope that is to come. When your heart is shattered by those you hold so dear and near, know that God is supremely good. We can’t have our crown of glory, without first enduring the cross. (James 1:12)

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

A perfect kind of afternoon

It was a perfect kind of afternoon in our home. One that doesn't come often enough for me to tire of it. Instead, these afternoons happen just often enough for me to rest in them and cherish them deeply.

The eldest of our fair-headed children was busy at the table prepping for an artwork showdown she planned to have at school the following day. My face, in the most literal sense, looked like the blank emoticon face that you'd type in a text to a friend when you have absolutely no idea what to say. I had no idea how to respond to it. I might could have spoken to her about being gentle and kind, but for the most part I knew their artwork showdown was harmless.. and I had things to tend to.

The smaller ones busied themselves making play-doh masterpieces. My nervous twitch didn't even come out when they started mixing colors. It was a glorious moment of triumph for me.

I busied myself baking a few treats to take to a baby shower for some friends of ours. Our friends received the most precious little girl into their home about 2 weeks ago. We wanted to support them in their adoption journey of this beautiful little thing, to encourage them in it, and to celebrate her being in their home.

Amidst the measuring and pouring of ingredients, my ears were filled with the laughter of three chipper little voices. And I wondered what it might sound like if a fourth little chipper voice chimed in?

As the aroma of baked sweets filled my home, the sorrow crept in slowly and was kept at bay. Please don't get me wrong, I found such joy serving our friends in this way- loving them that evening and celebrating in this new little life that has been entrusted in their care. But my heart longed for a new little face that might fill our home one day.

I imagine it must be what a woman whose womb still sits empty feels like going to yet another baby shower for a friend. Or what another woman might feel as she attends a loved-one's wedding without a husband to call her own.

These are all good things. They are all things that are okay to desire and want... a baby to love on and pour out the Gospel Truth to. A husband to share in life's joys and sorrows; a husband to journey with.

But what I've found good for me to do in these moments is to not sit still. The waiting can be agonizing. We can't know with absolute certainty that the Lord will gift us with these desires of our hearts, even if they are very good things that can be used for His glory. It is so tempting to close the doors, to sit, and to internalize all those feelings that come with the waiting. And while we all need those moments, it can be a dangerous place to live in this constant isolation.

But what if we got over ourselves just a bit? What if I can use my time of waiting to encourage and love others well through it? I'm certainly not letting my dreams go. I'm not losing hope. And I'm definitely not giving up. I'll keep my dreams nestled right close to my heart, as I pour out on my friends who are going through things in their lives, too.

I want to encourage you to do the same. Waiting and longing for something can be so agonizing sometimes. It can be painful. But I encourage you not to lose heart. I want to encourage you not to waste a single minute of the waiting. We can do great things, even in the midst of our waiting, to the glory of God.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Feed my sheep...

I've always been a dreamer of sorts. I look to the horizon.. look to tomorrow.. look to the next thing that's supposed to happen instead of resting in the moment. I tend to get so carried away in all these little fantasies or future happenings to enjoy the here and now.

While the hubs and I were at a conference recently, one of the speakers brought up an amazing passage of scripture. It's a meaty one. One that I could probably pour over for weeks and weeks and rest in all the things that jump out at me.

The book of I Samuel walks us through Samuel's life. We see him rise up to be a prophet of God and a judge over Israel. Through the work of the Lord, Saul is appointed king of Israel. The guy's barely King for a few chapter's worth of I Samuel before reign is declining. So God rejects him, and sends Samuel out to anoint a new King over Israel.

In Chapter 16, we see Samuel start his journey to anoint the new king under the cover of traveling to offer a sacrifice to the Lord. He's scared that Saul will hear of the plans, and will kill him. So, he takes a heifer to sacrifice in the town of Bethlehem. This will kind of be his cover story, in the event that Saul questions where he's going.

The story picks up a bit, and a few verses down, we see Jesse has gathered his sons for the sacrifice Samuel will make. Alas, none of the sons gathered were to be the new king. Samuel asks Jesse if he has any other sons. And yes, he does. The youngest of the boys is tending the sheep.

After the boy was summoned to be with the rest of the men, the Lord spoke to Samuel and instructed him to anoint the boy. The Spirit of the Lord was with David mightily from this day forward, and the Spirit left Saul. Saul actually became so troubled by an evil spirit, he needed a skilled musician to calm him and be well. Who else does he summon to the high court to play the music other than David? David was, according to Scripture, a skilled musician.

And when David, who at this point is anointed to be king, is summoned to the court to play for Saul (still the current, reigning king), where is he found? Still tending the sheep. The man intended to take over the throne, anointed to be king... had returned to his humble, lowly occupation of looking after the flock. David would continue to look after his father's flock for many years before his time of reign came.

There are so many wonderful nuggets we can gather from this passage. But what I gathered is this: look after the sheep. After his anointing, did David's head grow double in size and his ego outgrow his humble job of looking after the sheep? No. David remained in his lowly position of tending the sheep.

I can't be absolutely certain, as I haven't had some high prophet of the Lord come and anoint my head with oil, that I am destined for something outstandingly awesome in my life. Surely not something as awesome as royalty and being in the blood-line of Jesus. But, yeah , I have dreams and hopes of certain things I would love to accomplish. But what happens when these dreams or hopes overshadow my current calling in life? I've completely lost sight of what I'm supposed to be doing in the here and now: tending the sheep.

For me, my sheep are first and foremost the cutest little gaggle of blondies you will ever lay eyes on, this amazingly handsome guy the Lord has gifted me with, and even this little role I serve in amongst our body of believers. So, while I want to hope and dream, and yearn for all these other things that bring glory to God... I want to be faithful, true and steady in the place I'm in now... tending the sheep.