Friday, December 31, 2010
When I was in high school I collected frogs (many of my former students can attest to the fact that this collection followed me for quite a while!). On my 16th birthday my sister bought me a little gold frog in a glass box. One day while inspecting the frog closer, I noticed a piece of paper in the bottom of the box that read, "You have to kiss a lot of frogs before you find your handsome prince." Unfortunately, I TOTALLY embraced the saying. ;) I probably could have kissed less frogs (and by probably I mean I definitely could have kissed less frogs). However, it did help me keep perspective. I think I was a little more guarded with my heart than many of my friends because I wasn't convinced that every relationship was the end all, be all, for me. I knew there would be some frogs before I found my prince. I made peace with that and I had fewer delusions that every guy was probably my "happily ever after." For better or worse, consciously or not, this phrase was a guiding philosophy in my life.
Fast forward to college. I was still kissing frogs, but I was definitely searching for the prince. I was reading a book full of things written by Emily Dickenson when I came across the phrase, "I dwell in possibility." It spoke to my soul in a way that I cannot begin to explain. Cody's fond of saying that "all truth is God's truth." I think this was a God truth for my life. In relationships I was always unsatisfied because "what if there's someone better? what if this isn't my soulmate? etc." "Love the one you're with" was definitely NOT my motto. ;) When I met Cody, I could not imagine a better possibility, and I was certain I was where I was meant to be. That said, my endless dwelling in what "could be" didn't end there. I wasn't relating it to men anymore, but I realized that at my deepest level, God has created me to be a dreamer. I am always looking for a way to improve myself, my family, my surroundings, the future, history, etc. There's always a "next right step" and I'm always looking for ways to track it down and chase it. I love run down buildings because of all the potential... the possibility I see in them. Same with people, the messier the better. I TOTALLY dwell in possibility.
Then about 4 years ago we were in Charlevoix with my family, and I found a bracelet that read, "expect miracles." (it had little fish and loaves of bread on it... very cool) I was floored. I'm not sure why it struck such a chord for me in that moment, but I bought the bracelet immediately and the phrase became my new mantra. Slowly but surely, it started to define my world view. God was capable of so much more than I was giving him credit for in my life. I could, in fact, EXPECT miracles. Impossible things were suddenly possible. Not on a hypothetical level, but in actual practical ways I was believing God would step up and wow me. That phrase saw me through a TON of life change and risk. I clung to it when a friend broke his neck and almost died, while experiencing marriage trouble, when my husband felt God calling him to quit his job and plant a church, when there was no money to pay the bills, when we weren't sure if anyone would buy into the kind of church we were proposing, when attempting the first ever Trunk-or-Treat in our county, etc. etc.
Last fall, days after taking in our first set of foster kids, I was reading "Primal" by Mark Batterson, and somewhere in those first few chapters he wrote, "grace is always the right response," and my world was wrecked again. When dealing with kids who hurt your children, grace is always the right response. When your husband is exhausted and never home (and there are FIVE kids in the house and you need help) grace is always the right response. When the foster kids' mom gets angry at you because her son hurt himself sledding while in your care... grace is always the right response. I remember saying this to myself out loud after dropping the kids off for their visits, trying to convince myself of it's truth. You know what I learned? Those kids who hurt my kids were lashing out because they were miserably scared and hurt inside. My husband who wasn't "helping" the way I wanted was stressed to his breaking point and was trying to carry that burden on his own for my sake. The mom who snapped at me was probably angry with herself because she knew her son should have been home sledding with her, not with some random foster parent. The more I made an intentional attempt to keep this idea in front of me, the more grace opportunities I experienced, and the more aware I became of how self-focused I can be... how ungracious I am as a person. Then I became aware of how often I need grace and it all kind of came together in a new way. Want grace? Give grace. Whether deserved or not, appreciated or not, easy or not... grace is ALWAYS the right response.
So why do I share all this? Well, I'm realizing that one God truth can change everything for me. All of these past phrases have molded me and continue to frame my world view. I'm learning that one tiny phrase is something I am capable of clinging to, and frankly, I'm ready for a new challenge. So...
What's your mantra of the moment? What concept has impacted your life in the past? What is your goal for the new year? What God truth are you wrestling with right now? I want to learn what you're learning, so lay it on me!
Saturday, December 18, 2010
Eleven years ago today I made the single most important decision of my life... a decision that I didn't even know I was making. I don't think I had any idea that I had a choice in the matter, I just knew with every ounce of my being that I needed to spend every moment of my life with this man. Was/is he flawed? Sure. Annoying at times? Yup. Would I marry him again? You can bet your life on it.
Eleven years ago I gambled on the idea that my absolute infatuation for Cody (that had lasted through 2 break-ups and 2 years of dating) would last a lifetime. I bet that my best friend/boyfriend was husband/father material. I trusted his heart more than his actions, and I believed God had something amazing in store for him (and for me if I joined him in the journey). I am SO GLAD I took that chance.
This morning Ki said he wished he could have seen our wedding like he saw his birthmom's this past fall. I surprised him by saying he could and pulled out our wedding video. Oh my... we've gotten old. Still, watching us interact then and remembering so vividly the people we were at that moment in time reminds me of how far we come. How many arguments we've needed to have--- I say needed, because our life together is worth fighting for and some things would never have been worked through without battling it out in the wee hours of the night. I remember how many disappointments of epic proportions we've survived in each others arms, how many months we weren't sure we could pay the bills- and how we celebrated when provision came in the most unlikely of forms, how many leaps of faith we've taken/are still taking- and how God amazes us every time we step out in faith, how much I've learned from Cody, how much we've learned from our children, etc.
I woke up this morning and laughed with my best friend about jokes that are probably only funny to us, and I know that, Lord willing, I will do it again tomorrow. This afternoon Cody told the boys that if they ever find someone 1/2 as wonderful as their mother they should marry her immediately. (*melt*) I just wish I had a daughter so I could tell her not to marry anyone unless he is everything her father is.
Thursday, December 16, 2010
The first book I received from BookSneeze was "Start! The Bible For New Believers."
The general editor of this Bible was Greg Laurie. It's a New King James version of the Bible for new believers and it is full of extra details and notes about various passages. It starts with a plan for salvation and then continues with secrets to spiritual success. Some parts of this opening section seemed a little cheesy (although well intentioned). For example, when describing the way in which God forgives our sins it says, "God will toss your guilt into the sea of His forgetfulness and then post a sign: 'No fishing allowed.'" This section also uses a lot of lingo that may not be as accessible to someone who hasn't grown up in the church. Multiple times it asks if you are "saved" or if you have "received God," but never really explains what these terms mean. In the Secrets to Spiritual Success portion of the intro Greg Laurie discusses the need to read the Bible, pray, attend church, give and serve others, and evangelize.
When you get to Genesis, you find that each book of the Bible starts with an introduction telling about that particular book, its background, and when the events contained in it occurred. Almost all the pages have "know" or "grow" section at the bottom of the page that elaborates on what's being read. Throughout this Bible you will also find little grey boxes entitled, "Learn." These sections present facts or research that expound on what's being said. There are also sections titled, "Live," that are aimed at taking what you are learning and applying it to how you live life.
Overall it's your basic study Bible but it's supposedly geared towards new Christians. I didn't find it to be especially user friendly to those who are unchurched or post-church, however it wasn't too bad. If I were recommending a Bible to friends who were seeking, I'd still go with the "Message: Re-Mix" but given that this is still the word of God, you can't really go wrong. :)
Saturday, December 11, 2010
I love fall, I've mentioned it here before, but there's always something magical about a big snow. As much as fall calms my heart, a big snowfall energizes my inner child. We're supposed to get anywhere from 10-18 inches in the next 24 hours and I'm already just a smidge too giddy about it. ;) BRING IT ON SNOW! (and while you're at it, surprise us and dump an extra foot or two)
How about you? Snow: love it or hate it?
Tuesday, November 23, 2010
What do you do when life doesn’t turn out the way you planned?
Be grateful my friends! Happy Thanksgiving!
Sunday, November 07, 2010
This past week Praxis Church sponsored its second annual Community Trunk-or-Treat. It was so much fun, but the thing that gets me, the thing I can't move past, is how many people were surprised by how great it was. Not that "our planning committee is all that and a bag of chips so of course it would be awesome," but the fact that excellence is surprising. I never cease to be amazed by the degree to which we EXPECT mediocre. Heck, half the time (if we're honest), we aim for it.
I love our local community, but I think somewhere along the way we decided average was acceptable. Not only that, but that mediocrity is the best we can hope for. Not that there aren't people or organizations that are exceptions to this, but on the whole, there seems to be this chronic apathy, a pervasive hopelessness. We live in a depressed area. When it comes to opportunities, job availability, school funding, economic development, etc. and there are many who are ready to throw in the towel or who have already decided we're circling the drain as a community and there's nothing we can do about it. Someone asked me the other day what my personal goal for Trunk-or-Treat was. I said I wanted it to infuse a shot of hope into our community, and a dream or vision of something better.
We have potential Oscoda County! Believe it or not, but there are creative, intelligent, wise, insightful, inspired people all over the place in our county. We have everyone we need in order to live somewhere phenomenal. We took less than 10 people and planned a great event. How much more could we do if we were ALL aiming for excellence? In our work places, in our homes, in our schools, in our churches, in EVERY INTERACTION, etc. As Cody said this morning at Praxis, we all have a "best version" of ourselves that God is desperate to see us become. A potential we have not yet attained. If we all start aiming for that, what could we become in the next 5 years?
Stop being surprised by excellence, start AIMING for it!
...and just so you know... I can think of at least 10 ways we missed the target with Trunk-or-Treat and we will be going over it this week to try and think of more. It is our intention to NEVER rest on what we have already accomplished, but to push ahead towards something better... maybe even something God hasn't revealed to us yet. We are not satisfied, but we ARE doing our best. :)
Monday, October 11, 2010
Homemade Laundry Detergent:
5 gallon bucket with lid
1 bar of Fels Naptha Soap
1/2 cup of Borax
1 cup of Arm and Hammer Washing Soda (make sure it's the WASHING soda)
Grate and melt the bar of soap in 4 cups of water on stove. Put other ingredients in the bucket, and then pour the melted soap water into the bucket. Fill the bucket with hot water and stir. Cover and let sit overnight. Stir and then pour your homemade laundry detergent into left over laundry detergent bottles, filling them only HALF way. Add water to fill to the top. Shake before using each time. (FYI- this detergent does not create suds in the washer, but it cleans well) We have loved this detergent. We've been using our first batch since the first week of June and our clothes get very clean and smell nice. It has a very light scent, and hasn't aggravated Ezra's eczema at all. It cost me just under $10 for the original ingredients and the next time around all I'll have to buy is the bar soap. The way I figure it, it'll end up costing me about $3 for 6 months worth of laundry detergent.
**If you're not interested in making the detergent, I'd love to get my hands on your empty used detergent bottles. I only had one when I made this recipe and the rest of the detergent has been hanging out in the 5 gallon bucket until I need refills. :) **
There are 627,077 people with the first name Amanda in the United States. Statistically its the 80th most popular first name for a girl.
There are 366 people in the United States with the last name Gascho, making it's rank 59,453rd for last names in America.
Finally, there is supposedly only ONE Amanda Gascho in the United States, which honestly doesn't surprise me because I never have trouble using my name for things like email accounts, facebook, or twitter, etc. You can find out where your name ranks by going to the "How Many of Me" website by clicking HERE.
Wednesday, September 29, 2010
It seems like I've had a LOT of conversations with friends lately about money- or about how money is hindering them from chasing a bigger dream. I get it... I TOTALLY get it, and let's be honest, there are times in life when we work a job we don't like in order to bring in the money we really need. There are times when that is necessary and very much God's will for that season of our life. But if we stay in that vein of honesty, we have to also admit that there are times we work jobs we don't like in order to have "stuff" we really want, or to be able to maintain a certain look or status. There are times we cling to what we know, because we fear what we don't know, or what others may think. For whatever reason, this really rubs me wrong... and I still do it myself.
At some point we choose to become the person we were created to be, or to languish. I feel like a lot of people I love are choosing to languish for the sake of money or the perceived security it brings. I could go back to teaching full-time. Some of you (especially those who support our church financially) may think I should. ;) It would certainly help our finances. It would free Cody up to take a smaller salary. It would provide health insurance for our family and we might not have to pinch our pennies quite so much. I would probably enjoy being back in a professional environment more frequently. But here's the thing... (the thing I have to remind myself of) staying home with my kids is something I have ALWAYS wanted. I'm a better mom when I'm not working. I use more of my time in service to others when I don't work out of the home, and I feel confident I am where God wants me for this season of my life. (disclaimer: I don't think every mom should stay home, and there are many women who balance both phenomenally... I'm just saying I don't.) More than that, my security is in Christ alone... not my bank account, or the freedom to buy cute jeans on a whim, or to plan for amazing family vacations to exotic locations, etc. (and just FYI, "exotic" at the moment would be Myrtle Beach to hang with the Viele's, I MISS MY FRIENDS!!!)
I'm not there yet, but I'm trying to learn to cut the excess and be more creative with what I do have... and I have a LOT. It's crazy, but it took me focusing on how to live with less in order to realize that I still have WAY MORE than I need. I hope in the next few posts to share a few of our more recent experiments with ya... be on the lookout for our homemade laundry detergent recipe and a way to watch great TV for free. :)
How about you? Are you living fully or languishing? Are you stretching a budget, and if so, how?
P.S. Just realized this was post #100 for me. Probably should have talked about something more momentous, or done some kind of "looking back" type of deal... oh well. :)
Thursday, September 23, 2010
- I get to be "alone" with Cody (and technically a bunch of other people) for FIVE days. That's the longest I've ever been away from the boys, but I feel like it'll be ok thanks to Skype and cell phones. I'm looking forward to setting aside the mom hat and focusing on being a wife and friend to my husband for such an extended period of time.
- Cody's been to Catalyst before and he always comes back excited. Having had so much responsibility for our church plant over the past year and a half, I am looking forward to seeing him encouraged, inspired and refueled.
- I've never been to Catalyst, so I'm excited to see what all the fuss is about and hopefully get a little encouragement, inspiration, and refueling myself. ;) Plus, it'll be so nice to finally REALLY understand what he's seen and experienced. I'm hoping it'll make me a better cheerleader if it inspires new ideas or greater risks in chasing whatever God has for our future.
- I'm looking forward to making new memories with my best friend. Sometimes we get in the rut of talking about the kids and our to-do lists, and we forget to create new memories and share new experiences. Whenever we get away together, we always come back with new things to laugh about, new inside jokes, and new memories to look back on fondly.
- I'm excited to see what God has in store through this time away... in any area imaginable or unimaginable! I'm looking forward to hearing all the things these amazing leaders feel led to share, and hoping to grow and be challenged.
Sunday, September 12, 2010
Ki: where were you all day?
Cody: well, first I had to do a funeral, and then I married some people... well, I didn't marry them, but I helped them get married.
Ki: Oh good. Cuz if you married someone else, mom would literally kill you.
(my boy knows his mommy... ha ha ha)
Wednesday, September 08, 2010
Jessie: Ki, are we still getting married?
Ki: Of course.
Me: Um, why do you two want to get married?
Jessie: So we can be brother and sister forever!
Me: Uh... getting married doesn't make you brother and sister, it makes you husband and wife.
Ki: Like you and daddy?
Jessie: OOOOH!!! KI! WE CAN HAVE PETS AND BABIES TOGETHER!!!
Ki: Yeah, well, what if you see another boy and he's very beautiful and you want to marry him instead?
Jessie: Lucky for you I don't care about those sorts of things. I'm yours forever.
Then she asked me for some gum. :) I was laughing so hard. Absolutely HILARIOUS! I'm not a big fan of the whole, "who's in love with who" in elementary school thing, but this was just too funny to not share. ;)
Wednesday, August 25, 2010
I know you're probably thinking, "um ok, but it's not autumn yet..." and you'd be right... and I'd be happy because you just said... "yet." I can feel it coming, I am starting to get the itch, nights are getting colder, bonfires seem more imperative, stores are stocked with bouquets of pencils and school supplies, and Ezra's closet reeks of that "new tennis shoe" smell. It's almost here!!!
Some of you are "spring lovers"- and I'll forgive you for that- but hear me out. For me, fall has always evoked a sense of inevitable change. In some ways that's terrifying, but in most ways, at least for me, it's drenched in possibility. In elementary it was the question, "will my teacher be nice?" or "will any of my friends be in my class this year?" In middle school it was more along the lines of, "are Swatch watches still 'in'?" or "are my stone-washed Guess jeans tight enough?" (yeah, I just dated myself- I don't care). By high school, most of the possibility for me revolved around sporting events and guys... "is this the year THAT guy will finally notice me?" ("that guy" never did)
Now? I don't know. I'm looking forward to the return of a predictable routine- even if it means I have to set an alarm each day. I'm excited to see the ways in which my children will stretch and grow in new environments this fall. I'm prayerful about our foster son and what the next leg of his journey may consist of. I'm borderline giddy about summer vacations ending and what that means as far as attendance at Praxis... I've been missing so many people and I love the energy in the room when everyone comes back together in the fall (and although I'm happy that they've had time to get away and enjoy their families, I'll be glad to reconnect)! I'm excited to head to Catalyst with my husband in October! He's gone a few times and I am SO HAPPY to be able to experience this conference WITH him this year. (and I admit, I'm looking forward to a few days away as a couple- sans kiddos) ;)
More than all that, change/possibility brings with it hope. If you follow this blog, you know I've been struggling to shake the grief and cynicism that settled in my heart following the loss of Brooklynn and the resurfacing of Nevaeh. I could use some hope. I desire to hope, and my heart feels as though its just about ready to risk again. I LOVE this time of year... and I LOVE a Creator who knew there'd be people like me who would need it to feel Him near.
So, in a month or so, if you see me parked along the side of the road staring at a particularly gorgeous display of color in the trees, singing "This Time of Year" by Better Than Ezra, with an odd grin on my face, just know I'm getting my groove back. BRING ON THE FALL! :)
Monday, August 09, 2010
That said, if you do answer the question on your blog, you are entered to win tickets to a conference called, "Living a Better Story" (click on that title for more information) I think Cody and I could get a lot out of a conference like that since our "story" has been so much about transition in the past few years. I think we could really benefit from a pause that allows us to entertain the idea of and listen for God's direction as to what the next era of our story should entail. So... what kind of story do I want to live? Do I even know how to answer that in a condensed manageable format? I'm thinking that's a question better asked at the beginning of an evening with someone you intend to stay up all night talking with...
- I want to live a story that is drowning in risk and truth and grace and life.
- I don't care if anyone ever knows my story, but I want to know that as many moments as possible I find myself squarely in the center of God's will.
- I want to chase every God-opportunity I am given, I want to love recklessly, I want to speak truth and be true, and I want to respond to everything- everyone- every situation with an abundance of grace.
- I want to teach my children how to embrace their lives and live them fully and deeply with God, and I want to encourage my friends and the gals in my church to feel fully engaged in their lives instead of just surviving life as so many of us do.
- I want there to be more to my story than there seems to be sometimes, and I want to stop waiting for "someday."
- I want to expect miracles and be depended on to believe God can and will do amazing things in my life and the lives of those around me.
- I want to learn to see the "everyday" as extraordinary moments and opportunities.
On a more "what might that look like or mean for your life" kind of level, or an "if I were to begin telling your story what might be the big adventures" kind of level... hmm??
I want to finish the family God has blessed me with through the process of adopting again, and convince as many people as possible to join me in this amazing journey. I want to be a mom worthy of the trust my childrens' birthparents and God have placed with me. Long ago we desired to adopt one or two little girls from Africa (I was blogging about that on here back in January of 2007!) That desire is still there, but at some point we felt as though God was saying, "I don't care how you adopt, just that you do it." So since then we've attempting to go the foster care route for financial reasons. It's been a crazy ride, but we have sensed God in it. I think there will always be a part of me that longs for Africa and the possibility it holds in my heart, but more than that I am overwhelmed with the desire to find and know my children, and to have them home with us.
I want to find a way to purchase abandoned homes, renovate them, and donate them (or sell them at or below cost) to families who are struggling and homeless in our community. In a county with the highest poverty level in Michigan, I want it to matter that I lived here. It's a strange passion I have that I just can't seem to let go of, and I have no idea how on earth I will ever get it done. I've written about this before (click HERE to read about it).
I want to be (and I think I am) my husband's biggest fan as he attempts this adventure called church planting, as well as the greater adventure of LIFE! I want to anticipate his needs and support him in ways he might not think to ask of me. I want to keep him feeling young and respected and desired. I want to have weekly date nights and a romantic getaway at least once a year (and at this point in life, romantic requires very little other than no kids... ha ha ha!). I want to have adventures together, risks together, and build a real LIFE together.
I want my children to fearlessly stretch themselves, at risk, to grasp the hand of the One who made them. I want them to know the depth to which they are loved. I want them to trust the story of the prodigal son... believing that if they screw up, they do not need to hide, but that God is waiting with open arms to embrace them, forgive them, and celebrate them. I desire to model that more than I do, and as often as humanly possible. I want to give them experiences in life, more than I want to provide them with things. I want to make memories together and I want home to always be a safe place to land and an extension of themselves.
I want to learn to sit and listen for God's whispers in my life, carefully chasing His every whim, in whatever direction He aims me, whenever He asks me to. This means I have to make time to get away from it all and be alone with my Creator for more than just my devotion time. I may need to go off by myself for a day or two from time to time so I can quit being "mom" and "wife" and just be "child of God."
- I want God. I want a story that oozes the possibility of, and desire for, MORE of God.
Wednesday, July 28, 2010
I don't really have much to say... I've been working on a more meaningful post for a week now, but I just don't have the energy to finish that one today.
Today... well, you'll get to hear about Ezra's eyes. I took the boys to the eye doctor last week fully expecting to come home having purchased glasses for Ezra. He's been blinking a lot, getting tired, and rubbing his eyes while reading for a while now, and I just assumed he had his mother and grandpa's eyes and was in need of glasses. Not so. Apparently Ezra's eyes are not tracking or converging the way they should. This means that when he's reading it becomes very difficult to keep his place, and much of the time he is seeing double. This also impacts his balance, ability to catch balls, dribble, etc. In fact, the eye doctor was surprised that Ezra's reading at all, let alone reading at or above grade level. So... vision therapy is needed. Vision therapy that is NOT covered by insurance. 20 sessions at $100 each, 3 times a week for 7 weeks. Yowzah.
Obviously, we are going to do the therapy. People pay significantly more than that for braces, snowmobiles, vacations, etc. I can't think of any investment I am more happy to put up funds for than ensuring my kids have the best shot I can give them at a solid education. Since reading is foundational to everything, it'll be money well spent. But still... oh my...
So, the bright side? I get 2 hours (yeah it's an hour one way to the therapy sessions) in the car, 3 times a week, to be alone with Ezra. I love hearing his heart, so I am looking forward to all the extra time together. :)
Monday, June 21, 2010
Wednesday, June 16, 2010
I make my bed... EVERY day. I cannot sleep in an UN-made bed. Seriously... I will make my bed at 11:30 at night if I must, but I will not get into bed until I've made it. Anal, I know.
Sunday, May 02, 2010
So here we go...
Where is your heart, your focus, your security? Is it your job? Your family? Your home? Your President? Your political party? Your country? Over the past decade it seems as though Christians are becoming increasingly political. I'm not against being involved in politics, active in voting, etc. I am, however, increasingly concerned by the degree to which Christians promote certain viewpoints or agendas as "right" or "Godly." I'm bothered by the fact that we are becoming known in our culture more for all the things we're AGAINST, instead of for all the things that Christ was FOR. I am beyond annoyed by the amount of "Christian" propaganda that gains momentum and manipulates people based on fear. If we tell you all the "evil" things that are in the works, or hype slippery slopes, etc. then people are suddenly up in arms ready for action.
Here's what I know:
We will NEVER be satisfied with our government, our leaders, etc. We won't. Doesn't matter who is in power... we won't. They are human, humans are flawed... we won't.
2 Timothy 1:7 says, "For God does not give us a spirit of fear, but of power and love and self-control." --- and yet I hear people all the time getting worked up over political fears. I heard Christians bash Bush because of military decisions, the economy, and seeming incompetence. I hear other Christians bash Obama because of health care reform, bowing to leaders from other countries, and supposed pursuit of socialism. But I'm told that God does NOT give us a spirit of fear. That's a manipulation by people with an agenda, and when we get sucked into it, we risk our focus becoming something other than God. Our pursuit becomes FOR a certain political agenda and making our voice be heard, instead of a pursuit OF God and desire to hear HIS voice. We do this because we are scared. We do this because we have not yet put all our hope and security in God... we do not yet trust that "He's got our back" so to speak.
Psalm 24:1 "The earth is the Lord's and all that is in it, the world, and those who live in it." --- and yet I feel such a sense of entitlement coming from people I talk to. The way we view illegal aliens... taking "our" jobs and stressing out "our" systems. The way we treat the poor... using "our" tax dollars for their benefit when they haven't done anything to "deserve" it. Companies that send "our" jobs to other countries to save money. The idea that if I've worked hard enough for long enough, I am owed a retirement like I've envisioned and a successful career or business. I'm not saying there aren't issues in these areas that might benefit from some re-evaluation, but that's not my point. God never guarantees any of the above. The Bible does say, "my God will supply all of my needs" but I'm just not convinced that our idea of "needs" are the same as God's. We're not owed ANYTHING. We don't "deserve" any of what we earn any more than the people who are "lazy and manipulate the system." None of it is "ours." It never was. It never will be. The earth is the Lord's and ALL that is in it. Notice it also says, "those who live in it" are too. That includes the poor, illegal aliens, me and you (thank goodness!), AND politicians... just sayin'...
on that note:
Romans 13:1 "Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God."
Colossians 1:16 "For by Him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by Him and for Him."
John 19:11 (speaking to Pilate) Jesus answered, "You would have no power over me if it were not given to you from above..."
Daniel 4:17 "'The decision is announced by messengers, the holy ones declare the verdict, so that the living may know that the Most High is sovereign over the kingdoms of men and gives them to anyone He wishes and sets over them the lowliest of men.'"
Daniel 5:21 "He was driven away from people and given the mind of an animal; he lived with the wild donkeys and ate grass like cattle; and his body was drenched with the dew of heaven, until he acknowledged that the Most High God is sovereign over the kingdoms of men and sets over them anyone He wishes. "So whether you hate how the latest election went down, or if you love it, know this... as a Christian, you must acknowledge the fact that the LORD is sovereign over the kingdoms of man (this includes the good ole' US of A) and HE gives them to whomever HE wishes. He has a plan for this season (whether you're excited by it or hate it) and He will do with it what He wishes.
And so I refer back to Josh's facebook status: "Sadly, Christians tend to care more about political liberty than their spiritual freedom in Christ." What are we more aggressively pursuing? Political liberties, or freedom in Christ? Our agenda for the US, or God's agenda for our individual lives? Making sure WE are taken care of (in regards to our businesses, finances, health, etc.) or taking care of the poor (an idea discussed more in the Bible than almost anything else). What do we talk about more- the stuff going on in Washington, or the stuff God is doing in our hearts? Are we operating from a place of fear about the future, or from a place of certainty- knowing Who it is who holds our future? And is that enough for us?
I'm just asking...
Thursday, April 22, 2010
Right after our foster kids moved out, someone we adore offered to send our family on a vacation. It was humbling, and of course we tried to say no, but they insisted and we accepted. Somehow they knew (even before we did) that we were going to need to get away from it all and just reconnect again as a family of four. I can't tell you how much we've been looking forward to these 7 days away from it all, or how good they've been for us!
We decided early on to keep the whole thing a mystery for our boys. Each night they are given a card that reveals clues about the following day. They HATE it, and love it at the same time. Ki seems able to roll with it with minimal effort, but Ezra is absolutely discombobulated at the idea of not knowing what comes next. I just shake my head, frustrated and yet slightly smiling because I know it will be priceless to watch them both realize our plans and then freak out with excitement. All week I've been saying, "relax... just trust us buddy... it's gonna be great..." I know they're going to love what's in store. I know my boys, I know their hearts, I know their desires, and I am desperate to make as many of those dreams come true as I can. But they don't know that about me... or if they do, they seem to have forgotten. Each day Ezra asks what tomorrow brings, and when I tell him he'll have to wait for the clue he gets frustrated and mad, and often misses out on some of the joy in front of him.
Today I realized that in the grand scheme of things, I am Ezra... and the one I am forgetting to trust is God. I'm probably missing joys that are right in front of me because of concern for what comes next. I desperately want to know what the future brings, why things don't look the way I want them to look, why I can't have the clues I want when I want them, why I can't have some say in the planning...
I wonder if God is shaking his head at me, wondering why I don't trust his heart, but secretly so excited to watch me freak out once His plan is finally revealed?
Wednesday, March 31, 2010
Although... I know that Sunday there will be baskets full of candy on my table and I feel fairly confident they will derail this new plan. I'm just saying... tee! hee!
(on a completely unrelated note: ever notice how often I use "..." (dot dot dot) when I write? I may have a borderline obsession!)
Thursday, March 18, 2010
Monday, March 08, 2010
I know I should be, and that forgiving is a good thing, but sometimes I just wish the people in my life had to work a little harder to earn my forgiveness. I know that's hypocritical since I accept God's forgiveness of my mistakes knowing I'll never do enough to deserve such grace, but there's always a little piece of me that wonders if I'm letting people off the hook too easily, and I want them to totally feel bad and really learn their lesson.
I read, or heard someone once say that choosing NOT to forgive someone is like drinking poison every day and wishing the other person would die. I think that's pretty accurate. I think people get caught up on the misconception that "if I forgive that person, then I'm saying what they did didn't matter, or wasn't that big a deal, or was ok. Or, I'll forgive them when they admit they were wrong and ASK for my forgiveness." I think forgiveness can be as simple as saying, "you hurt me in ways I may never recover from, and what you did was unforgivable, but I am choosing to move forward now. We will never be what we once were, or have what we may have had (and maybe in some cases, will never be friends again), but I am choosing to let go of the bitterness and anger. For your sake and mine." Going back to my new favorite mantra, "Grace is always the right response."
In Cody's message a few weeks ago he talked about generosity and hope, and one of the things he said was that forgiveness is one of the most generous ways we can give hope to the people in our lives. I think he's right, and because I love the God of second (and third and fourth and fifth) chances, a God who knows no such phrase as "lost cause," I think I'll choose to continue forgiving. Because there's a part of me that knows I can never out-forgive God, and that I need hope just as much as, if not more than, the next guy.
Sunday, March 07, 2010
Saturday, March 06, 2010
Tuesday, March 02, 2010
We found out for certain on Monday that our foster children will be leaving us on the 18th of this month. I wish that I felt supremely sad, or completely overjoyed, but I just feel... numb.
When I think of all the negatives (what if they aren't cared for? what if they don't feel loved? what if no one looks out for them? what if Brooklynn never understands why I'm suddenly gone?) I want to throw up. When I think of the positives (needing less of EVERYTHING, no more diapers or potty training, more time to snuggle Ki and Ezra, less intentional destruction of our home, LESS LAUNDRY, etc.) then I want it over with today. Yeah, except I don't...
The reality is, there are no guarantees and no quick fixes in this situation. So we pray, and I prepare as best I know how (lists and all), and I hope that the "relief" will dull the pain of saying goodbye if only just a smidge.
I also just want to publicly thank all the people who attend Praxis Church (www.createpraxis.com) for your love and support. There have been days when I've crawled into bed and prayed, "wow, I apologize God for totally screwing up their view of You today." I realized the last time we were at church that you all are helping make up for my inadequacies in sharing the reality of faith with these kids. Someday, because of you, they may hear the "Cheers" theme song and get a warm fuzzy feeling that makes them want to go to church... "where everybody knows your name, and they're always glad you came..." Thank you for loving these precious little ones on days when I was at my end, God has used you in ways you may never know. :)
Monday, February 08, 2010
I like my house to be clean, but it doesn't consume me. However, what does consume me, what I think about all day long, and sometimes stay up at night pondering is the idea of everything having a place, and being in it's place when it needs to be. My mother-in-law and I often joke about starting a professional organization business when she retires. I would LOVE that, but I wonder if I'd be patient enough with other people while I try to help them organize their lives. I LOVE Peter Walsh, and will watch any show he is on. If you don't know who that is, nevermind. :)
In a more practical way, that means that every closet, in every bedroom of our house, has a closet organizer (that is more than a bar and a shelf) in it. Within said closet, everything is folded in a way in which to make the viewing of clothing pleasant, and the storage of said clothing a more efficient use of space. Hanging items are color coordinated and hung accordingly. When we moved into this house, I wouldn't let anyone put anything in our "storage" room until I had first purchased and installed the approriate shelving, and then items were brought in in a specific manner and labeled well.
I make lists like they are my job, and my calendar is both functional and beautiful as I often draw pictures along with the words to signify exciting events. :) I like order, simplicity, and beauty, even in the mundane. I'm not a decorator, but I like life to be as "uncluttered" as possible.
Right now life is chaos at our home, or at least it feels like it to me. The basement is torn apart and is in various stages of rebuilding. Everything that once was in the playroom, is now in my completely non-functional storage room or upstairs. Ezra and Ki have a kids table and matching chairs in the their already cramped bedroom, there are baby clothes Brooklynn has outgrown in the living room, and there is a chop saw and piles of sawdust in the center of my laundry room. Nevermind the dilemna of having 7 people in your house and a less than well functioning laundry room, I feel overwhelmed. I know that is my little ADD brain trying to process all the added stimuli, but nevertheless, I am overwhelmed.
So tonight, I ordered pizza. It's not "pizza night" (that's Friday's here) and it probably wasn't in the budget, but I ordered pizza. When we were done clearing the table and running the dishwasher I suddenly felt like it was all managable again. I cleaned where I could, put things away that still had places to go, and rearranged the rest to make it feel a little less insane around here. I guess I'm not sure what my confession is... either that I am completely nuerotic, or that pizza fixes everything... :) I'm hoping to have it all put back together in a few weeks, and I know I can handle just about anything for a few weeks. ha ha ha!
Friday, February 05, 2010
Ya know when you give 2 weeks notice on a job? It doesn't matter how much you loved or hated that job, the last two weeks are miserable. Why? Because it's hard to walk back into something you know is ending and give it your best. You know someone else is about to come in and do your job in their way, and suddenly you think, "why bother?" So, this morning I woke up to a sweet yet screaming baby who was woken up by brothers jumping off their bunk beds squealing at 6:30am and who had smeared poop into the carpet in their bedroom and all over the bedding. And I thought... "remind me why again Lord?" It doesn't help that Ki has strep and I've been sick for the last 5 days. I just want to lay on the couch snuggling him all day. Add in a basement under construction (thereby doing away with our playroom and forcing children to be on top of me all day long) and I'm already a grouch. So... if you are one of the 2 people who read this, please pray for us as we navigate this next month and a half. I desire to be the best I can be for these little ones, and I want to leave them with a strong sense of who God is and how much He loves them... and my current attitude is probably not going to lead to those outcomes. Thanks. :)
Monday, February 01, 2010
Wednesday, January 27, 2010
Tuesday, January 26, 2010
So my confession??? I am RIDICULOUSLY EXCITED!!! and SO SO GRATEFUL!
Monday, January 25, 2010
So today's confession? In all my years of teaching, one thing I know for certain is that 7 year old boys are EXTREMELY annoying to me. It's a phenomena that has always held my curiosity, and I am sad to report that my otherwise hilariously endearing and adorable 6 1/2 year old will be 7 at the end of February and is already showing signs of "the change." This might be a LONG year. ;)
Wednesday, January 20, 2010
Tuesday, January 19, 2010
Sunday, January 17, 2010
A month or so ago, Keagan started having some fairly severe headaches. About that time he also started having some trouble with his eyes. As most people would, we assumed he might be needing glasses. The problems continued to increase, to the point where he was seeing double frequently and normal levels of light were painful to him. Apparently, Keagan had already had a recent eye exam, so my sister took him to the pediatrician this past Monday. When the dr. looked in his eyes, he immediately said Keagan needed to see an opthamologist and get in for a cat scan. The opthamologist confirmed this on Tuesday morning and said that Keagan's right eye was protruding about 6mm farther forward than his left. This would seem to indicate that something was behind the eye pushing it out. He went in for his cat scan and the doctors saw that there was a cyst on his petuitary gland. Wednesday morning he went in for an MRI and we waited for the results. Friday morning the doctor called my sister at work and said she needed to get Keagan out of school and take him to the hospital immediately for a spinal tap. When they arrived, she was told that Keagan had multiple grey areas in his brain that were "irregular". Apparently the myelin sheath surrounding the nerve endings in his brain is sloughing off. For the moment they are treating this with steroids, but they are waiting on test results from Mayo Clinic to verify the actual problem. At this point, doctors think it is probably one of 3 things...
1. A.D.E.M. (acute disseminated encephalomyelitis) which is rare and only 6-10 people a year are diagnosed with it in the United States. He is not presenting with enough of the symptoms to know if that's what it is, but that is what they are treating him for at the moment.
2. M.S. - Equally rare because he is so young for an onset of MS.
3. Cerebral Palsy- Even more rare because he hasn't shown symptoms prior to now.
We should hear back from Mayo by next weekend, and Keagan is scheduled for another MRI at the end of this month. This morning Keagan was back in the ER with a severe migraine, and when they admitted him they found that his heart rate was half of what it should have been. They don't really know why that happened, but once he stabilized they sent him back home.
We would appreciate all your prayers as the doctors seek to determine what is going on with his little body. Thank you in advance!
Today's confession? I care too much what other people think. I'd like to think I don't, but I do. Some aspects of this are annoying but not troublesome, for instance... when I'm with friends who dress preppy, I try to dress preppy. When I'm with friends who don't care, I'm in jeans and a t-shirt, when I'm with family or friends from college I can't wait to pull out the pajama bottoms. That's annoying, but not cause for concern, I think most of us do that to some extent.
However, I have some friends who are super spiritual... and when I'm with them, I feel like I'm lacking. It makes me want to read the Bible more and have deep theological discussions. I have other friends who are super popular types, and I end up feeling like a big dork. I want to watch the really "in" tv shows and buy myself a new wardrobe, and be one of those girls who spend significant time trying to look good. Then I have other friends who are all earthy and artistic, who rip on people like the ones I just mentioned, and I want to deny the fact that there are parts of me that like pop culture and enjoy being a little preppy. I want to be more cutting edge and think outside of the box more instinctively. None of these responses are bad in and of themselves except for the fact that they are bred out of insecurity and not a sense of who I am in Christ. I'm working on it.
I'm hoping my 30's breed a greater sense of self than my 20's did. I know it's really all a God thing.
Friday, January 15, 2010
So yesterday's confession? I REALLY like my husband. I mean REALLY REALLY... I know people say that, but I REALLY do. Since we're here at my parents' house, and (unlike home) there are more than 2 restaurants to choose from, we took advantage of the free babysitting and went on a date! WOO! HOO! Granted, we waited til all the kids were in bed, and not much is open at 9:30pm on a Thursday night (not even any late movies), but we made the most of it. We went to Carrabas for dinner, and then just drove around talking for a while. It was nice to get away and have grown-up conversation without children interrupting or the weight of household or work responsibilities encroaching on us. We haven't been on a date since our anniversary in December, and that one we spent in a mad dash to get Christmas shopping done. I'm not sure we've had any other dates since Nov. 2nd when we added the foster kids to the mix. Up until that point we were pretty faithful with our weekly date night, so this has been quite a drought. So, last night I came home knowing, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that I REALLY like my husband. :) And if this foster situation does not become something permanent, one bright spot is that my weekly date nights will probably resume. And that's something I can smile about. ;)
Wednesday, January 13, 2010
My confession? I did absolutely nothing to bond with my kids today... other than buying some Twizzlers to surprise them with during the car ride. I believe I said "not right now" and "I just don't have time for that today" more times today than I have in the past month, maybe longer. :(
Gonna have to make up for that tomorrow.
Tuesday, January 12, 2010
So my confession is... in the depths of my soul I have known for a LONG time, that God designed my husband for this. For a church that's stripped of everything superficial, that's not polished, but is totally inviting. That is about loving, being real, and creating together. Where you can come as you are and humor/fun is woven into the fabric of everything. He never believed it about himself, I'm not convinced he does even now, but he has found his sweet spot, and I couldn't be happier for him. And in case he's reading this, I'd just like to say, "I told you so!" ;)
Monday, January 11, 2010
I've never smoked an entire cigarette or cigar.
I've never been skiing. Not downhill, not cross-country, not water.
I've never been drunk.
I've never been on a snowmobile (yup and I live in northern Michigan).
I've never had sex outside of marriage.
I've never bleached any hair on my face... sorry brown haired girlfriends!
I've never used any drugs (unless you count vicodin when I had kidney stones... ha ha ha).
I've never been good at managing my temper or my words.
I've never had braces (legs or teeth).
I've never gotten the tattoo that I want (or any other tattoo).
There's more, but I'm drawing a blank.
On the flip side:
I have tried smoking both cigarettes and cigars, it didn't appeal to me.
I've been sledding, and tubing, and hiking.
I do drink, but I don't like beer, or anything that actually tastes like alchohol. Basically, if it's fruity I'll probably like it.
I like four-wheeling, although I don't get to do it as often as I'd like.
Although Cody's my "one and only"- I still have lots of past relationship regrets. If I only could have known then what I know now.
I do tweeze my eyebrows. ;)
I had an epidural during the last 4 hours of labor with Ezra. In my defense, (for those of you who think I need one) I went into labor Saturday night, and Ezra was born Thursday afternoon... contractions about 1 minute apart the entire time.
No flip side for the anger or tendency to talk to much.
No braces, but in 4th and 5th grade I had a retainer called a "Frankle" that did nothing for my teeth, but was supposed to move my lower jaw forward and correct a slight overbite. Since I never wore it, I'm fairly sure it didn't work. :D
I am planning to get that tattoo soon... just having a hard time knowing how to find a good tattoo artist. I'm too anal to risk getting a crappy tattoo.
Anything you've "never" done?
Sunday, January 10, 2010
Saturday, January 09, 2010
Confession #8... if I had the time I would have sent this as a message to each and every one of my facebook and email friends... that's how much I love it! For a closer look, click on the pic!
(special thanks to Sara Luke of Less Ordinary Designs for designing it! www.etsy.com/shop/lukecommasara )
Thursday, January 07, 2010
Wednesday, January 06, 2010
I am an ooey gooey, embarrassingly hopeless, romantic... but in less than conventional ways. I don't read romance novels, I don't love all things "victorian", I don't appreciate pinks and florals, I don't like the movie "Gone With the Wind" (although the book is to die for),etc. However, most chick flicks will strike my fancy... as long as the man is a man's man and not too sugar coated. Also, I believe in love at first sight and soul mates--- no matter what my cynical husband might say about that. ;)
More than that, I am a champion of the irresistible "only in the movies" kind of love. I get absolutely sick to my stomach when I know someone is about to "settle" for something comfortable or familiar. I think we sell ourselves short because we're afraid of being alone. I know, I almost went there. I am so thankful the hopeless romantic in me couldn't be silenced and never lost hope that there could be something... well... more. Someday Cody should probably thank me for that... ha ha ha!
On a spiritual level, I wonder if God ever thinks I'm settling? He wants to have this completely intense, totally passionate relationship with me, and I sit here thinking, "yeah, I'm finally comfortable right where I am. This is nice. Not fantastic, but dependable and safe." He must hate that more than I do.
On a completely non-spiritual level, (and maybe this is an even bigger confession) when I'm watching Days of Our Lives (yup, I said it!) I never know whether I want Sammy and EJ to be together; because I like her with the new guy (Rafe) but I just can't shake the feeling that what she and EJ have is that undeniable kind of love. And I want that for him...and for her. Sick, I know. And just in case you're wondering how I find time for a soap, I DVR it. And I justify my behavior by watching it on nights when kids are in bed and Cody's at a meeting. And I fold laundry while I watch, somehow making it less of a waste of my time... ha ha ha!
Tuesday, January 05, 2010
But the thing I envy the most? When he needs to "relieve" himself, he goes outside and no one follows him. No matter how long he takes, he gets to be alone for all of it. No little ones wanting to tell him a story, or asking him to break up a fight or solve a quarrel, he just goes in peace. I could use a little of that. I'm just sayin'...
Monday, January 04, 2010
After prayer and research, we decided to pursue an INFANT adoption next (I know, right?). When we brought Ki home he was 4 days old, and it was wonderful for a time. However, about 2 months into it all, I knew I loved both my boys with my whole heart- and then some, but I also knew (beyond a shadow of a doubt) that I was NOT a "baby person" either. Cody and I promised each other, "no more babies."
So imagine my surprise 4 years later, when (after pursuing adoption through the foster care system this time around) we found ourselves with 3 more children... a 4 year old, a 3 year old, and a BABY! Seriously God?!? Although, as I've said a million times now, if you HAD to have a baby, Brooklynn's the baby you'd want. She's practically perfect at all times and couldn't be easier if she tried. Tonight however, she's crying and cutting another tooth. So as I look forward to a very long night I can't help but think... "I am SO NOT A BABY PERSON!"
God's teaching me something, I know He is, but I'll need a little more sleep if I'm gonna have the energy or clarity to figure it out. ;)
(additional little confession... I am writing tomorrow's post tonight, but setting it to pop up for everyone else tomorrow)
Sunday, January 03, 2010
"I'm stuck in a basement sitting on a tricycle, girl gettin' on my nerves. Goin' out of my mind I thought she was fine, don't know if her body is hers..." ha ha ha!
What makes it even more great is that when I was dating Cody I randomly broke out the first line of the song, and he threw out the second line... should have known then that he was the one. ;) We still throw it around from time to time, usually when we're stuck somewhere or extremely bored.
Anyone remember this one?
Saturday, January 02, 2010
So, I'll start with the most shocking thing I can think of at this particular moment...
This morning when I woke up and was getting into the shower, I caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror, and for a split second I wished I was pregnant. Not because I want to be pregnant, or because I want another baby, but because then I'd have a good excuse for the excess weight in my mid-section. Yup... I did. AND... it's not the first time I've had that thought. ;)