Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Together We Wept

Sometimes our sinful nature and the evidence of the fall hit you with such abrupt force, it leaves you in tears.

My phone chimed with an email. Not really a sound I pay much attention to on most occasions. But in a quiet house, with nothing filling my mind but relaxation, I opened my email to see what the message might be.

Unfortunately, my excitement over it not being Spam mail was quickly replaced with heartbreak. Our beloved eldest child had chosen not to restrain her excited chitter chatter during a time that required her complete attention at school. Even after a gentle reprimanding by her instructors, she chose to keep jabbering with a few of her besties. Our strong, independent girl was unable to participate in the rest of the activities with her classmates due to her actions.

I wept when I saw the email. Utterly heartbroken over my daughter's blatant sinful actions towards her instructors. And as swiftly as I cried for her, the Spirit gently stirred my heart to recollect on times I have been unsubmissive to those in authority over me.. or times I was prideful in thinking my way was better than someone else's.

Her sweet face was remorseful as she buckled her seatbelt in the car. Worlds of sorrow and "sorry" flowed from her precious, little mouth. We wept together.

There are sins that are easily "swept under the rug" at times, or sins that don't quite catch our eyes all the time. The usual toy snatching and stinginess of a toddler and pre-schooler in a battle royale becomes almost normal in our eyes. So normal that it may not quite break our hearts over our own sinful natures each time we see it.

But sometimes, things happen.. and the Lord might use one particular instance to instantly open your eyes.

Digging deeper than just the surface of the situation, together we pinpointed what caused her to act the way she had. Obviously, she was reprimanded for being chatty by the authorities. But, at the heart of the matter she did not respect those in authority over her and acted out of a pride to keep talking with her friends.

Without the gospel, we could stay in this sorrowful place over her (and my) wrongdoings. But through the lens of the gospel, we can rejoice that the war has been won. The battle was fought, and Jesus secured victory through His work on the cross. Through our faith in Him, we can confess our sins and repent… knowing He is just and good to forgive us. We can pray that the Holy Spirit does a work in our hearts to make us joyful obeyers to those in authority over us.

I'm never a big fan of when my kids sin.. whether they are big sins or little sins (in our eyes at least). But I am a big fan of leading my kids to Jesus and the Cross. Whether I do that in times of strife or times of great joy in our house, may I do it boldly. There is no greater joy in motherhood than the opportunity to witness to my kids about our risen Savior.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Reading Reading and More Reading

It's no secret that I've got a slight addiction to reading. I love to read. Reading is one of my favorites.

The past few months, I haven't done too much leisure reading because I've been all wrapped up in this gem:

Can I let you in on a little secret? This is my first completed women's bible study that took me through an entire book of the bible. It will hold a special place in my heart. Beth really helped you get the entire context of the scripture. Not only because you were engrossed in it, but all the cross-references and implications of the particular passage that was presented. I always had a fondness for the book of James. But having walked through an in depth study of it... well, now, its just real special!

Our next bible study won't start up for a few weeks. So, in the meantime, I'm hoping to squish in as much reading as possible!

First up:

I'm gonna finish this awesomely encouraging piece by Gloria Furman. I started this a few weeks ago on a little road-trip with the fam. The book is packed with deep, biblical encouragement for the busy mom. All the sippy-cup refilling, laundry folding, and home-work helping can wear a girl out sometimes. This book has helped shift my focus back where it needs to be- even in the midst of the chaos motherhood can bring sometimes. 


Reading really helps me grasp a concept or how to better serve people. While this particular story may not mirror every refugee family's story exactly, I do believe it will help me better understand what life in a refugee camp looks like, as well as what life looks like when they are first out of it. Plus, I'm just really intrigued to know how it effected this chick's life that reached out to the family!

What have YOU been reading lately? Any real page turners? I wanna hear about it! I love all books! Fiction, autobiographies, books to encourage me in my faith, etc.

(*Disclaimer: These are affiliate links. If you happen to make a purchase, my little fam will get a tiny kick-back. New and exciting things are happening around these here parts, and I'll share 'em with you soon.)

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Am I in labor?

Throwback Thursday Stories

My middle section was stretched almost to its limits. My feet showed swollen signs of the end of a pregnancy. And we were excited to meet our precious boy. 

The carseat was loaded in the car in the chance I went into labor. All the linens were washed, and ever preparation that could be made was made. 

I went to the doctor to see how the pregnancy was progressing. Because his two older sisters had to be forcibly evacuated from the womb, I was expecting our sweet boy to be content on holding out a bit longer. However one week prior to my due date, the doctor made an assumption that I wouldn't make it back for my next appointment. In his estimations, I would deliver our third child without the help of an induced labor. I chuckled right to his face and said, "ok, see you next week!"

The remainder of the day was as mundane as any other Monday. The phone rang and emails chimed in as I educated customers on insurance policies, rates and appropriate coverages for their needs. 

After the work day was done, I raced home to embrace my two favorite little blonde girls in a big hug. Being away from them for so many hours during daylight hours always made my Momma heart hurt too much. As much as I wanted to just sit and cuddle them on the couch that evening, I had a nagging feeling to clean every square inch of the house. So, I did. I cleaned from the tip top to the bottom, and back again. There wasn't a surface in the home that wasn't wiped clean, or any fabric that hadn't been swished clean in the washing machine. All the things were in their proper places, and everything was just so. 

My loving husband stubbornly encouraged me to quit for the night just after 10. Begrudgingly, I resigned to the shower. Once I had washed the muck from the day away, I retired to bed. Tossing and turning for an eternity did not ease me into a peaceful sleep. I just didn't feel well. 

Maybe fixing my damp hair and passing time would help lull me into a deep sleep? I got out of bed to primp my hair just a bit, returned to bed for more tossing and turning.

I still didn't feel well. So, I trudged downstairs for a snack. After a few glasses of water and a granola bar, I willed my legs to carry me back up the stairs. 

Several hours later, I still didn't feel well and just couldn't go back to sleep. I finally woke my husband in the smack dab middle of the night. 

"I think I might be in labor," I whispered to him.

"What? Really? How do you know," he questioned me.

"I have no idea! I've never been in real labor before," I exclaimed back.

After laboring most of the night at home, I finally made myself go to the hospital. This #tbt pic is me in labor with our 3rd blondie. 

After arrangements and decisions were made, I finally went to the hospital. Since my labors had not naturally started on their own for my previous pregnancies, I had no idea what the start of a natural labor felt like.  I was scared of looking foolish and kept telling my mom "I'm gonna feel so dumb if I'm not really in labor." 

To my amazement (and relief), I was in labor

I always chuckle a little when I remember the birth story of our spirited little Dino lover. Being a mom of 2 might qualify you to know what to expect when you go into labor, but I felt so clueless going to the hospital. And not much has changed since then. He's kept me on my toes and surprises me quite frequently.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Lifesong Mission Moment

14-04 MM email
Lifesong Farms. We are thankful, with the help and expertise of our friends at Plant Sciences, Inc., to have active strawberry farms in Ukraine and Zambia. Our hope is to not only create jobs & self-worth for orphan caregivers, but also  provide future employment opportunities as orphans grow into adults. Eventually, we aim to establish sustainability to help fund on-going orphan care. Hear the stories behind the farms...

Bearing Fruit in Sergey {UKRAINE}
Like each and every child our Ukraine team reaches out to through Constant Christian Presence, Sergey was full of potential. Coming from a life of hurt, God breathed hope into his heart and life.
Through the team's support, mentorship and love, Sergey came to know Christ while developing relationships and life skills that is leading him towards a fruitful future.

Now, he and another orphan graduate are involved in helping manage a nursery, as well as play an important role in Lifesong Farms-Ukraine.

Listen in to his story...

Strawberries Help Send Kids to School {ZAMBIA}
Last month, Lifesong Farms-Zambia team were pleased to present the first check to the Lifesong School at a special ceremony. As the farm continues to grow and show profits, we hope to have many more check ceremonies in the future as we grow towards sustainability!

zambia farms
Farm team presenting $5,000 check to Lifesong Zambia School

Story of Lifesong Farms - Learn how Lifesong Farms got started in Lifesong Zambia. Watch Video

Impact on Farm Workers - Listen in to our Quality Manager, Pilijah, as she shares how her job has impacted her and her family. Watch Video
Christian Alliance for Orphans CAFO2014 {May 1-2; CHICAGO} - CAFO2014 inspires and equips Christians to care for orphans with wisdom-guided love. Register today! Learn More & Register

Celebrate Life Tour - featuring Cheri Keaggy & Zambia Children's Choir! Buy Tickets Today

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

My kids are people, too.

It's a fact. One that I sometimes forget.

But, my kids are humans. Albeit, little ones, but still they are people.

They have feelings, moods, and react to things. They're really not all that different from adults. Sure, they can't contain their emotions or their reactions all that well, but its not like you or I don't react to things too differently from these pint-size youngsters.

I forget this simple fact sometimes in the midst of guiding and reprimanding them. I forget that, though are small, they are people.

And just like other people, I should treat them with respect, kindness, and love. I should treat them how I want to be treated. Not just because its an awesome coin-phrase, but because it is biblical. (Luke 6:31)

How many times have I tried to work a certain angle with my kids, or tried to find biblical references specifically to parenting? When in fact, the Bible is a resource rich in instruction on how I should interact with my kids not simply because they are my kids, but because they are PEOPLE.

I read a great blog post about this recently. Jen Wilkins was so kind to remind me, through her blog, of this simple fact, and how ample the bible is to give us instruction on how to love and serve our children well. Not just through the scope of motherhood.. but through the lens of the Gospel.

Gloria Furman's latest book, Treasuring Christ When Your Hands Are Full, has also radically transformed my outlook on motherhood as of late.

Being a Mom is part of my identity now. Christ's salvation of my life, and all the beautiful ramifications that it entails should also bleed into that part of my life as well. His grace covers me as a believer, a daughter, a sister, a wife.. and as a mother. His love should be so evident and seeping out of every facet  of my existence no matter my current season or schedule load.

The wisdom printed on the pages of this book are deep, insightful, and resounding with Truth. This book released me from the grasp of self-focus and set my eyes on Christ. Through her encouraging words and biblical references, my focus has been re-set on eternity.. rather than the here and now. It's like a nice breath of fresh air and a nice re-charge of the batteries to be reminded to savor Jesus in the midst of the chaos and business of motherhood.

"As we treasure Christ in our motherhood, it causes us to be heavenly minded, thinking often of the Lord who has brought us into his forever family and empowering us to live for his kingdom as we serve our family." (Gloria Furman, Treasuring Christ When Your Hands Are Full, pg 154)

That is my prayer as a mother.. and for my Mommy friends that are trudging through this joyously tiresome season of life.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Special Spot

Her tired hands have done much work throughout the day, and her aching back echoes the same sentiment.

The morning came too soon. She joyfully sends her eldest off to school, entertains another precocious one into the afternoon hours. And her midsection grows every minute, carefully housing and growing another precious blessing.

After a bustling morning caring for her beloved children, she rests on the couch. She lays on her side, with her legs bent just so. There's a perfect little nook of space between those arched legs and the back of the couch. The precocious preschooler climbs up into that special spot and settles in for an afternoon of rest with his Mommy.

It's one of our family's favorite childhood memories of my husband. His mom recounts how late into her pregnancy with her youngest, her body would tire out in the afternoon. Most afternoons, she would play a movie for her little boy, and he'd watch the movie in his Special Spot.

When my kids were old enough to start enjoying movies, we encouraged them to take residence in the Special Spot.

And the Special Spot has taken on a life of its own, almost. It is no longer reserved for the parent to encourage the little ones to enjoy.

You can hear little voices quickly instructing the others to climb in the Special Spot.

I love how this one special memory from my husband's childhood, and my kid's KK has been passed down to them. It not only encourages them to be loving to one another, but adds so much depth to this simple act of kindness. What a joy it is to share in precious memories of the past and of making new ones for the future!

Friday, April 4, 2014

The Best EVER

"You're THE BEST MOM EVER!!" She exclaimed.

And if the excitement in her voice wasn't convincing enough, her spindly arms constricting my mid-section only made it that much more believable. The consistent bouncing of her little tiny frame from the balls of her feet only added more emphasis to the words she had just shouted. A broad smile proudly showing off a missing expanse of teeth on bottom was plastered from one ear to the other.

It's an expression I hear often from our eldest fair-headed one. The brave one who isn't afraid to voice her emotions or let us know how she's really feeling.

But of course she was excited. Of course, I was THE BEST MOM EVER!

A package arrived in the mail that day containing a dress she'd only been pining over for well over a year.

The ever lovely maxi-dress. 

I would be lying if I tried telling you I haven't fallen under its illustrious charms. So flow-y, so pretty… and so mischievously modest.

There has been much talk of The Dress since it arrived in our home. There has been much planning and deliberating as to when The Dress will be worn. And each time The Dress comes up in conversation, the same amount of enthusiasm escapes from that precious girl's mouth, like it has a will of its own.

But it's an expression I rarely hear from that lispy little voice when we're in the throws of disciplining. There's no tightly wound limbs around my pudgy middle section when we discuss what shenanigans were had with her little brother and sister while she was busy learning at school. The balls of her feet don't encourage the rest of her slender frame to bounce with joy when we don't cater to every request.

Sometimes, there's weeping and gnashing of teeth and all things un-pretty you can imagine coming from a child who has not gotten their way. Sometimes, there's a sorrowful nod of the head as if merely saying the words "okay" is putting forth too much effort. Sometimes, she buries the hurt and doesn't react nearly at all on the surface.

And it got me to thinking….

How do I react when my requests to my Heavenly Father are not answered in the fashion I fancy?

Is it my automatic response to leap with joy and proclaim, "You are God, and YOU ARE THE BEST EVER!!"

Or do I act like a foolish child struggling with inner-turmoil? Or do I act like a foolish child and put on a production that is sure to give any Broadway number a run for its money? Or do I act like a foolish child and answer with a solemn nod of my head?

There are a myriad of reasons why I don't automatically cave and cater to my child's every want or desire. Sometimes, its an issue of money. Sometimes, its an issue of convenience. But more often than not, its an issue of knowing it is for their good.

Now, doesn't God, who is infinitely Better and infinitely Wiser and infinitely Perfect,  have the right to refuse to cater to my ever flimsy wish or withering craving… not out of hateful spite.. but out of Loving GOODNESS?

May I be so bold and unwavering in my Faith in a loving God to joyfully exclaim "You are the BEST EVER," when He lavishes things aplenty on me.
May I be so bold and unwavering in my Faith in a loving God to joyfully exclaim "You are the BEST EVER," still when He chooses to not appease my appetite for things out of His loving kindness and for my good.
He truly is THE BEST EVER.

"You ask and do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, so that you may spend it on your pleasures," James 4:3

"LORD, all my desire is before You, and my sighing is not hidden from you," Psalm 38:9

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Friendly Friends

I'm going to let you in on a little secret..something. I'm a loner.

Yes, we've discussed this a time or two, I know.

I am naturally independent and don't mind spending time by myself, or not being overly social.

When something happens, I'm not the type to normally call my girlfriends about it and gab for hours on end to process through the range of emotions. Most often, I retreat somewhere quiet to think and contemplate, and of course pray.

Because of my natural introvert and loner tendencies, I've believed the lie a time or two that "I don't have any friends."

I challenged myself on this recently. Surely it wasn't that I didn't have any friends….I do in fact have friends.

The best kinds of friends to have are the ones that not only invest in your life.. but care so much to invest in your marriage and your kid's lives. One of my dearest friends not only comes to grunge it up in pajamas and be lazy on my couch and watch movies, but she sometimes comes over to play with my kids and sends me off on a date with my amazing hubs!

The best kinds of friends to have are the ones you can send silly selfies to after a haircut. And they laugh with you at the ridiculousness of the thought of an-almost-30-year-old standing by herself in the mall taking a selfie.

The best kinds of friends to have are the ones who take you out for your birthday and buy you the most beautiful mound of nachos you have ever seen in your entire life!

The best kinds of friends to have are the ones that go with you on not-so-crazy adventures to play with some refugee kids in the city .. and then eat at a really interesting Bosnian restaurant afterwards. 

The best kinds of friends to have are the ones who go out and do fun things with you. And then they don't even make fun of you for your lack of painting skillz when doing said fun thing. 

And the absolute best friends to have? Those are the ones that the Lord has beautifully woven your stories together through shared conversations here or random text messages there. The ones that can laugh with you over a simple mishap from some time ago. The best friends to have are the ones that the Lord has placed in your life.. no matter what age or stage they're in, no matter the differences or likeness you share, no matter the closeness of your relationship.. or the not-so-closeness.

I am so thankful for the friends I have… thankful to pray for them, and to be prayed over. Thankful for the opportunity to pour into their lives, and be blessed in return. Thankful to serve Him together, no matter how that might look in our current seasons.. from big things like ministry outside the home.. to big things like investing in our ministries we've been entrusted with in our homes.

I love my friends, and I refuse to buy into the lie that I don't have friends.