Friday, December 31, 2010

What's Your Phrase?

I'm not great at keeping New Year's Resolutions. I often lose track of the things I know I should be focused on. Sometimes I feel like God whispers something to my heart and I stay focused for all of about 2 days... if I'm lucky.

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

Book Review

So, recently I have started 2 different programs that send you free books if you agree to review them on your blog. If you're interested in doing the same, you should check out BOOKSNEEZE by Thomas Nelson Publishing and BLOGGING FOR BOOKS through Waterbrook Multnomah. If you're not interested in reading a book review, you'll wanna stop reading now. :)

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


It's about to snow... and not just a little snow... it's going to *S*N*O*W*!* So far this winter I have not yet had snow that was deep enough to cover my lawn completely. Seriously, and I live in northern Michigan. Something about that is just not right.

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?