Monday, June 10, 2013

Dusting the Cobwebs Off...

I am feeling another itch to start writing, although I have told God that if he wants me to write, He has to tell me what to write about:). I have a feeling it is going to be just about continuing to share my story, because that's really all I have.

Jason and I are about to celebrate our ten year anniversary! We have a trip to the beach planned and we are so excited! We even have been working out and trying to get in good shape to look our bests for each other:). Who says 10 years of marriage and 3 children should look frumpy? Not me.

I was thinking today about the time in my life just before I met Jason. I was 23 and certain that I was going to be single for the rest of my life. I mean, because 23 is SO OLD. Right? One day, I locked myself into my bedroom determined to hear from God in regards to why He was having me live this life of solitude:). I was a flight attendant, I came across thousands of people a day,  and I saw girls my age meeting men and marrying right and left, yet no-one was interested in me! Looking back, I think it was God protecting me and saving me for His plan and timing.  

So I sat in my room, with my bible in my hands, kind of doing the, "I don't know where to look, but please take me to the right page and tell me something God!!" thing. I remember reading through the story of Abraham and his descendants and feeling like I had a grip on all the characters for the first time. Clearly that didn't last, because I still get confused:).  And then I went to the Psalms and I found this, "Trust in the Lord with all your heart and He will give you the desires of your heart." And I knew that was my word from Him. I knew He was telling me that scripture didn't mean that I would get everything I ever wanted in life, rather that if I was 100% trusting in him, my desires would become his desires and He would honor those. I remember calling a friend and mentor of mine that day and telling her, "it's ok if I never get married. It's ok that I haven't met anyone bc as long as I continue trusting in God, He is going to give me the desires of my heart. I am not worried anymore about if I am going to get married." And I meant it with all my heart. I just knew that I could trust God and that it was all going to work out. I surrendered the search. I quit trying to do God's job for him.

Not even a couple of weeks later, I ran into an old grade school friend who put me in touch with Jason Carlettini. Low and behold, a few people in our small hometown had already talked about what a good couple the two of us would make. He was working with students, and I was working with students and I believe that is another lesson for young people. If you are unmarried, just chase after the Lord, and do what He has for you and just might end up looking to the side and finding someone else pursuing God that He has destined you to meet.

The rest is history, and a very good one at that. Jason has taught me and encouraged me so much in my walk with the Lord. And he has loved me wholeheartedly in such a way that I never could have imagined. The way he shows me his love and lays down his life for me is pretty amazing. God has been very faithful and good to us. 

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Tuesday, August 28, 2012


I've been wanting to write about Fibromyaligia for a while now, but it's such a tricky topic. When we did the series, In My Shoes, I asked a friend to write about her life with fibromyalgia and she declined. Now I know why.

I've wanted to raise awareness and let people know that it isn't a made-up thing that doctors diagnose crazy people with when they can't find anything else wrong with them.

I've wanted to let people know about the silent battle that it is because on the outside, it looks like one with fibromyalgia is completely normal.

I've thought about explaining the things I have learned about it and the ways I have learned to cope with it since I was diagnosed.

But none of that has brought me to the computer yet. All of it seems so trivial. Yet such a big part of my life, it's weird.

Today, I want to talk about fibromyalgia and the effect it has had on my life from a spiritual point of view. That's what really matters, and that is the reason why most days, I am actually thankful for it as much as I hate it.

Ann Voskamp shares a quote in her book, 1000 Gifts, that *"suffering is the hole in the backdrop in our lives that allows us to see through to God." That's how I feel about my health these days.

Fibromyalgia has let me see through to God. It has stripped away so many ugly things in my life that were/are distractions to seeing God. It has helped me to recognize what a gift life is, how dependent I am on the Lord, and mostly, it has shown me how awesome and available He is. It has made me stronger, because it has caused me to believe even more that God has my back every single time and He is all I will ever need. Having Him means that all my other needs will be met. Hands down, no questions asked. I don't have to worry or fear. I am safe no matter what happens or how bad life gets. I despise all the man made rules that we have adopted into society that tell us we have to do this, this, or this to earn favor with God. There is only one way to earn favor with God, and that is by believing in Jesus Christ. The rest is about surrendering to God, not pleasing God. I don't want anything to do with the pressures and expectations of this world. I don't want them! I live for the King and He is such a faithful King. It is true that blessed are those who mourn.

In the beginning and still on some days, fibromyalgia causes me to mourn. But even in the worst of days, it allows me to see through to God.


Monday, August 27, 2012

Righteous Because of Jesus

I've gone off the radar in a sense for a while now. I don't feel like I'm strong enough for the "public" eye but yet here I am writing again because there is a part of me that can't keep quiet about the story God is weaving in my life.

Also, I have quit a lot of things in my life,  but I don't want to quit blogging because it brings me joy. So here I am.

Of course it's late at night, because that's when I can hear my thoughts the clearest and when I believe God helps me make sense of things. It's my quiet time. One of my favorite parts of my day is slipping into my warm bed and praying myself to sleep while I mull over life, friends, and family.

Speaking of that, I used to get anxious at that point of the day, I use to feel guilt and shame for all the things I did and said wrong, but I don't anymore, thank you Jesus.

I'll share something with you that I shared with my connection group the other day...

On Monday of last week, (Mondays happen to be my favorite days because they are fresh starts to a brand new week),  I was doing family devo with the kids at breakfast. We came across a scripture about how God is watching over the righteous, and how His ear is turned against the evil.  Drew chimed in and said something to the effect of, "so when I'm good, god hears me, and when I'm not, He doesn't hear me."

I immediately shut the book, and scooted up real close to Dylan and Drew. I wanted then to hear me. I told them, "you are righteous. You are righteous bc you believe in Jesus Christ and bc He died on the cross for your sins. So you are forgiven. And that alone makes you righteous. When you make mistakes, it's because you are not complete. You are a work in progress. When God saved you, He didn't say,"ok, you're perfect now and you will never mess up!" No! He said, you're mine now, let me teach you and train you so that you will be fully equipped for every good work. You are righteous because of Jesus, and when you do bad, that doesn't make you evil. It means you are in training. God still hears you and always will once you are His. Nothing you ever do can take you from His grip."

And when I said all of this, it was as if I myself was hearing it for the first time. I am righteous. I don't have to live in fear of doing the wrong thing because I'm already His. I'm a work in progress and my maker isn't giving up on me or leaving me ever. I don't have to impress Him(He made me), and I don't have to earn His love, he already showed me how much He loves me because Jesus died on the cross for any and all who will believe in Him.

Thank you Jesus. Thank you so much. I earnestly pray that I can truly translate to my kids as I teach them, train them, and love them, that this IS true!

Ephesians 3:16,17, Philipians 3:9,  1 Corinthians 1:30, Philipians 3:12, John 3:16, Romans 8:38,39

Saturday, May 19, 2012

I had the privilege of being on a panel at church on Mother's Day. These are the questions I was asked and the answers I typed up ahead of time...

Life is filled with all types of challenges and obstacles, what has been the most challenging aspect of being a mother from your perspective?

After Sarah was born, I mourned the fact that I could no longer do and be all the things I wanted to do and be for each of my children.  My health declined and limited me in many ways for the first year or so and I felt like I missed out on a lot of time with them. I realized after Sarah was born that up until that point, I felt like my life was pretty manageable and after Sarah, it no longer was. I think that has been the hardest thing for me, is feeling out of control. And also feeling limited, unable to meet their every need. I don't think any of this was an accident though bc it obviously was a false security I had before and I am thankful for the blessing in disguise. It has caused me to recognize my need for the Lord more and to depend on Him for everything. I am very thankful.

One of the things we believe is that parenting is not simply about our children’s growth but also our growth.  What are a couple of valuable things you have learned through your experience as a mother?

Death to self is really the way to experiencing the richness of life. It's not a loss, but a gain. Serving my kids and putting their lives as more valuable than my own has brought me more joy and freedom than anything else. I do not resent the time with my kids, I embrace it. (This has been a learned attitude). Also, I am very aware of the fact that my kids watch my actions a lot more than they hear my words. When I remember this, it helps to focus more on being in continual relationship with Jesus, bc when I stop spending time with Him, I stop acting like Him. I learn and am blessed so much by teaching my kids about Jesus, character, the ways of life, etc.,  bc I am reinforcing the lessons to myself as well.

I also know that I need to keep pointing my kids to Jesus rather than myself bc Jesus will not fail them. I will. This has taught me about humility. I have tried to quit pretending that I have all the answers or that I always get it right. That has also allowed me to be more gracious to them as I am training them. Parenting has a ripple effect. We are all learning and growing and are in this together.

What is one thing from your experience you would want to share with mothers to encourage and challenge them in the different seasons of life: preschool age to newborns, elementary age, teenage, and mothers who have children out of the home? 
I will just say one thing I learned from the preschool season bc the elementary aged season is still so new to me. When Dylan and Drew were toddlers, we lived in a tiny apartment and had hardly any money. The highlight of our days was to go to the swimming pool in the complex or to the playground. It was such a simple season and I enjoyed it thoroughly. After a while though, I started to feel like my brain was turning to mush. It was helpful for me to write as an outlet that engaged my brain. I guess the one thing I would say to mommies in that season would be just to embrace it. It is so fast and the simplicity of it, (the lack of commitments such as school, etc.), will be gone so fast. It seems like their needs are many, and they are, but they are easy fixes. As they get older, the solutions aren't as easy as feeding them or changing a diaper. They are so lovable and all they want is time and love from their parents, I would say give them that as much as you can!

Another thing that I wrestled with a lot in the pre-school years was all the "things" we missed due to sick kids. I always felt guilty for missing the important stuff like Christmas parties or whatever, to stay at home with my sick kids. But now I say without a shadow of a doubt that staying home with the sick kids IS the important thing. There is no need to ever feel guilty for tending to sick children. It is building a deep bond and trust from them to us when we take care of them and love on them in their weakest, most miserable moments.  Children get sick, a lot, and I embrace it as an opportunity from the Lord to shut out the rest of the world and recuperate together.  (Now when it goes on for 3 weeks, you will get texts from me of me going out of my mind!! LOL)

As you have gone through the journey of motherhood, could you share one or two verses (passages) from scripture that have helped you through the journey?

Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.
Deuteronomy 6:5-9

This is a passage I love bc it is a reminder to me that the gospel is to be lived, not just talked about on certain occasions. It goes back to what I was saying earlier that my kids are watching  me all the time. Also, I don't want to just be a talking head that talks about Jesus when I feel like going on rants or something, but I want to eat, drink, and live the message of Jesus and all that His word has to offer us. His word and His spirit is available to us all throughout the day in everything that we do, not just at church on Sundays or when we do family devotionals.

 Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.
Philippians 4:6

Last week Marty talked about that trigger that he gets to pray. He said he starts to get anxious about something and that is his trigger to pray. This is true for me as well with my kids. Training them up is hard work. Oftentimes, I get this unsettling feeling in my gut and I start to panic when I think things like, "how am I ever going to teach him to read? what if something awful were to happen to one of them bc I am not there to protect them? what if they don't know how much I love them? what if I fail them and they can never have healthy relationships? what if they don't follow Jesus all the days of their lives? what if he doesn't learn how to be truthful in all things?"

And then I remember that they are God's children and that He knows the inner workings of their bodies and souls bc He made them. I can't possibly know all of the right things to do in every situation and I can't possibly know everything that is going on in their hearts. But God does.  And He gave me this privilege of training them, so I believe He wants to equip me to do it. So then I remember to pray. I pray for the holy spirit to be working in their lives and that they would learn how to recognize the voice of the holy spirit and I ask him to give me the tools I need to reach them and to train them up for God's glory. I recently got a book, Powerful Prayers for a Parent, and that has helped me to narrow down some of my requests, but oftentimes, my prayers are birthed out of a fear or out of a sensing that something is off and I need God's help to get us back on track or to know how to handle specific situations. 

We all, when looking back can better evaluate things we might do slightly differently, that worked really well, or that you might reinforce given the chance do it again.  Are there any such things that you can share today to help the families here today?

I would be more consistent. I think that's one of the places that I definitely fall short. Unfortunately, my moods or energy levels effect my consistency. I would be more consistent if I could go back. And I would continue to be more consistent in the future as well!

Another thing is that as much as I would like to say that I don't do this, I know sometimes I make decisions based on what will bring the most harmony to my relationships with my kids instead of what's actually best for them. I wish I didn't do that. I'm trying to quit.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

3rd Annual Jumbo Hunt

The Crossing hosted the 3rd Annual Jumbo Hunt today. The weather was beautiful, we had a great turn-out, and I'm pretty sure fun was had by all. Thank you to everyone who made it happen, and thank you God for blessing our efforts. Happy Easter Everyone, we hope to see you at church tomorrow. He is risen!!

Monday, February 20, 2012


I have been thinking a lot about the different seasons of my life. When Jason and I first got married, we served students and their families. (Or at least we tried too!) I was constantly surrounded by young people and their parents. I learned SO MANY THINGS about parenting from being around parents who would say things to me like, "don't let it bother you that he wears his shoes on the wrong feet!" "Try not to get irritated when he is screaming in the car seat because the seams of his socks aren't laying perfectly." " Enjoy your time with them because they will be in high school like mine before you can blink. I promise." " Enjoy the messes, they are not that big of a deal." "Give him his own basket of toys to play with only while you are putting your make-up on so that he isn't breaking yours."  And so forth. I took these to heart and it has blessed the toddler years in our home in many ways. I am so thankful for their words of wisdom.

I also have gone through seasons in life where we had college students in our home frequently. College students are the best. They are so eager and excited to change the world. And they believe that they can. They haven't been worn down by life and they think the sky is the limit. They are so passionate about sharing their faith and they just pretty much rock. I love them.

I had a very short (ha, because we had kids so fast...), season where I promised myself I would do this and I wouldn't do that when I was a parent. Granted, I saw lots of kids in churches where the families where not as united as the front they put on.  I saw the impact many things going on inside of homes had on kids, so I did learn many things that I truly hope God uses to protect our family. But many of the things were also silly, and I have learned not to make promises like, "I will never", or "we will never," or "they will never..."  Parenting is so humbling. Oh so humbling. I love how God has taught me that yes, I am a steward of the little ones He is placed in my care, and what a tremendous blessing that is. I take it very seriously. However, at the end of the day, they belong to Him and He created them with their own wills, personalities, strengths, and weaknesses. They are not an extension of me. They are individuals and I cannot control them.

I don't know what I would call the season I am in right now. I am encouraged at the things God has for us, and I am also a little bit weary. I have come to a place where I know I am incredibly limited and I am very dependent on God's provision every day in every area of my life. I need Him. That is freeing bc I know I do not carry the weight alone, and I also need to set parameters around my life to protect myself from using my time and energy in the wrong places. I am thankful for so many things, blessed beyond measure and determined to persevere.

The beauty to me, of the seasons I speak of, is that it is so wonderful to have friends in my life who come from each place. They are so encouraging to me. It is so cool, even if it is only on fb, to see young, college-aged friends, writing things on their walls about how awesome the God they serve is. There passion is contagious. There energy is inspiring. It's so cool to see friends of mine having their first child and watching the sheer delight on their faces, the indescribable love, and the euphoria before sleep deprivation comes along. (Hee hee.)

And then to hear all the way across the spectrum to friends whose children are newly married or whose parents are elderly or have passed. It's encouraging for me to hear about the struggle that it is to let your children go and to watch them start their own families because it makes me feel normal at the struggles I had as I left my family of origin and started creating my own family.  It's a good reminder for me to remember that my parents will not always be around and I want to love them well while they are here.

I guess some things that all of these seasons have in common is that they all have beauty beyond words. Life is rich with delight and good gifts. They all have the potential of excruciating pain or loss because to love fully is also to potentially lose a whole heck of a lot. They all take work and can be dauntingly hard. And most importantly, they are all worth it. The things asked of me may be beyond my natural abilities, but my daddy in Heaven has been,  and always will be with me on the journey. Thank you Jesus.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Some Things I am Learning From The Crossing

One thing I have learned from The Crossing is that Sunday morning, or any other "meeting" that is held at church is only a part of what "church" is. To me, attending worship at the church, or attending life group at my house, is a discipline that keeps me connecting with God and others. It is not the end all and it is not the only place and/or time where I feed the longing within me to know God, to worship God, and to come alongside of others who are striving to do the same. While these things are important, and I do believe that I would slowly detach from relationship with others if I did not continue to have these disciplines, they alone will not sustain my hunger to have continual relationship with God and with others.

Accountability- that word used to be scary to me.  However, as I have grown accustomed to living life closely with others, I am seeing that oftentimes, maybe most of the time, accountability is unspoken. As I live life in closeness with others, I become aware of the things going on with them, and they are aware of things going on with me. I remember about 4 years ago I got sick on vacation with Jason and the kids. It was super annoying and left me unable to enjoy much because I was miserable. No one back home knew I was sick. After I got back, I was talking to a friend of mine on the phone and I remember saying something like this,  "I was just so sick for a week, and not one person other than Jason even knew about it. I feel so alone and like I could get sick and fall off the face of the earth and no-one would even notice." (Sidenote- I was going through a really rough season with my mom, which has passed, praise the LORD, and I think that was me mourning for not having a mommy to take care of me as well!) But back to the point...It was a wake-up call to me that although I had lots of people around me in my life at the time, I didn't have many who I was in an intimate relationship with. Looking back, I can also see that I was lacking some intimacy with the Lord, and a deep appreciation for it as well. All of this to say, living in close community with others, keeps me accountable. Not because I am getting called out by my friends, but because they know what is up with me. They would know if I didn't get out of bed for a week, and they would know if I started treating my kids harshly. And even if they never said anything to me about it, which I hope they would, knowing that they know, keeps me on my toes:).  Accountability. It's good.

Living in the world, but not of it. I always used to hear people talk about how all too often, Christians "live in their little bubble." This bothered me because I assumed I was doing the same, but I never knew how NOT to do this. Being a pastor's wife, much of my activities in life revolved around things that were going on at a church campus. And let's be honest, that produces a christian bubble. If simply for nothing else, but a lack of time and energy to do anything else. Add on homeschooling to this, and the opportunities to be involved in other places, like on a school campus, become even more limited for me. Since moving to Spring Branch, our life has become much more focused on our community, and less on the things that happen "on our campus."  Maybe it is because we do not have a "campus" per se... maybe it was strategic:). Either way, it has made a big difference in my life. I am finding myself falling more and more in love with my neighbors. I want to know them. I want them to be a part of my life. I want to be a part of their lives. I want my kids to play and ride bikes with the other kids on my street. I want to have block parties, and I want to have my neighbors over for dinner. Some of them are Christians, and some of them I do not know if they are, but that is not what my desire hinges on. I want to know them because they are my neighbors.  (Now of course, because my life has been radically transformed and abundantly blessed, I want others to know about the same Jesus who gives me strength and hope, who loves me to no ends, and who gives me purpose, of course I want to share about my love for Him with others, of course, of course, of course I do. But even if they don't care about that, I still want to know them. I still want to live deeply rooted in this community.) My time at "The Crossing" seems to be just a segment of my life with Christ, and of my love for people. It does not consume my Christian life. As much as I love it and as much as I want everyone to go:).

These things are huge to me and they have radically changed my perspective on a lot of things. I feel like I don't take myself as seriously, (whew!),  and I realize that I am only a micro part of God's story. It is a privilege and honor to be loved by the Lord and to learn from Him how to love others well. Those are my hearts desires. I don't want to only spend time loving those who believe the same as I do, I want to love those who God has put in my life. In my neighborhood, in my family, in my church, and in my circle of influence, and I am thankful that my influence has moved outside of my Christian bubble. To God be the Glory.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Be Still December

In a world where at the touch of a few buttons, I can have accessible to me information overload, entertainment, and a constant stream of noise through my head, I struggle with being still. Being a stay at home, homeschooling mom is such a joy to me, but I wonder if I could give my kids more. In fact, I know I could do better by them as we are home together everyday all day, and I think I start to take my time with them for granted. I find myself struggling to sit still for 20 minutes while the boys read to me. I get restless and I battle my arms as they reach for something else to do to keep busy. I find myself cleaning, dusting, and reorganizing as I teach them. I stand in the kitchen and do dishes or cook while they sit at the table and work on lessons and I get frazzled by repeated questions. I know some of this is normal and healthy but sometimes I just want to yell at myself..."STOP!!" I went to an internship at Ambleside one time and I had the priveladge of sitting through a few classes in session. The picture of one teacher in particular sticks with me all the time. She just kind of at rolled through the classroom giving each student her undivided attention for bits and pieces of time while they worked through their lessons. She encouraged, watched, and listened. They responded well and it was anvils there was a mutual respect for one another. I want to do that. I want to carve out windows of time where engaging with my kids is my only agenda. I want to be still with my God and hear from Him throughout the day. I want to give my husband my undivided attention. So for this reason, I am taking a break from technology for the rest of this month. I need to remember how to be still. See you next year...maybe!!

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Happy Birthday Month Jesus

Several years ago, I struggled over what Christmas would look like for our family. Being a new, young, passionate follower of Christ, I felt the American way sort of cheapened the miracles I had experienced in my life and the abundance of Christ's love. I even considered boycotting Christmas. I think there was a year that I didn't put up a tree. Granted, I had little babies and not a lot of space, but I wasn't overly concerned about not having a tree.

Santa seemed to have stole the show and I felt very uncomfortable about it. And then I had that whole mentality, of "well, aren't we supposed to celebrate Jesus everyday?" "What's the big deal about this time of year? After all, it isn't even really the right time of the year that Jesus was born." I wrestled.

I had singing Santa's, reindeer, and bears that sang about grandma getting hit by reindeer. All of it felt completely separate from something so sacred and Holy, like the birth of my Savior into the world.

One day, I remember it so vividly, I got all the Santa decor, the singing reindeer's, etc and I threw them all in the trash. It felt very drastic and I worried that I was losing it. Dylan cried when he realized his beloved toys were gone. (Thankfully he does not remember that:)). I wrote a blog posts asking for opinions and ideas and that only reiterated to me that I was a little on the crazy side, because let's face it, Santa is fun, and who wants to spoil the fun?? Why not do both? Well, I couldn't do both. It wasn't possible for me. I think I tend to be pretty extreme, it's just how God made me, maybe that's good, maybe not. Sometimes it helps me in things, and sometimes it makes things ridiculously hard.

So this year, after 7 years of making changes, it's Christmas time and I am here to tell you that I am beside myself with giddiness as I celebrate and relish in the love of my Savior. I am in love with all the beautiful Christmas lights. I could sing my heart out when I sing the lyrics to some of my favorites like, O Holy Night. The words are so rich and meaningful. I want to go places and do things to get all I can get out of the season. I want to be with my loved ones. I want to buy a few, just a few, special gifts for the people I love. I am not stressed out about buying everyone a gift, because I hope others in my life will understand that it wouldn't be wise for me to do so. But the gifts I have selected, they are simple and hopefully meaningful. I am excited about giving our kids the 3-4 presents that we picked out for each of them. I know they will enjoy them. I had good intentions to do other things, like The Jesse Tree, but I haven't quite arrived there.

My point is that Christmas feels more pure to me this year. I have a feeling it will continue evolving into something more and more beautiful for us, but this year, it just feels right. I don't hate Santa, I don't shield my kids from him or anything crazy like that, but he just really isn't a very big deal to us. And even though I worried about it, I think my kids are doing just fine without him. In fact, I know they are.

One of my friends wrote a post where she mentioned the difference between the joy of an amusement park and the joy of being in nature. It feels like that to me. I have been to several amusement parks, and they are fun, but seeing the mountains that surround Lake Tahoe, or the beaches in Hawaii, or the scenery in the hill country, reach places in my soul that cotton candy and Ferris wheels just can't quite match.

Sorry Santa, you've been outdone.

A special thanks to those who went against the current before me and gave me the courage to change.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Are you Prepared for this Battle???

I can remember sitting in Dylan and Drew's room at night praying with them when they were babies. I remember asking God, "what in the world am I supposed to pray for them??"  Being a parent is such a tremendous responsibility and I knew I wanted my kids to know Jesus, but after that, what specifics should I pray for them? What magic words could I beg God for that would set them up for lives of prosperity and success? Good lives, how could I guarantee them good lives?

Oh man, I was such a baby. God has used my kids to grow me up in more ways than one. I had to learn how to pursue God myself before I could began to ask God for the things that matter in the lives of my kids.  Prosperity and success are not those things.

When I prayed for God to break my heart for what breaks His, and He did, that was part of the process of Him teaching me that what He wants is my heart. He wants all of it.  He wants theirs and He wants yours. Everything else is just icing on the cake.

I read a book called Shepherding A Child's Heart by Ted Tripp when Dylan was a baby. It started a paradigm shift in my thinking that has helped me as they have gotten older in regards to discipline and behavior issues.

Yesterday Dylan was making me crazy. He was whining and giving me trouble with every single thing. I sent him to Sarah's room to be alone. After a few minutes I went in and checked on him. I held him in my lap and asked him if I could pray for him. I started praying and when I thanked God for making Dylan, tears started streaming down his face. When I asked Dylan why he was crying, he said it's because God didn't make him nice. He went on to tell me that God made everyone else nice, but that he wasn't nice. He said, " I am not nice to my friends, I am not nice to Sarah, I am just not nice. My heart is not nice. "

It hit me like a ton of bricks that Satan is after my son's heart. He is the thief and He is a liar and many of times, I have heard him whisper those lies in my own head. "You aren't good enough, you aren't smart, you aren't pretty. You are fat. You are out of control."

We are in a spiritual battle friends. It's real and there is an enemy who wants to control the lives of our kids. It starts young. Dylan is seven.

You see, I could have missed this way too easily. I know there are times that I do. It may have been easier to discipline Dylan and to continue demanding good behavior from him, but what I may have missed was the cry of his heart. If I only reiterate to him his shortcomings and failures, then Satan has the advantage.  Dylan needed someone to hear his heart, he needed someone to tell Him the true things of God's word, and to teach Him to battle those lies on His own when I am not there to do it for him.

We are in a spiritual battle and whether we acknowledge it or not, Satan is after our kids. We have to stand strong for them. We have to equip them to engage in this battle and to fight for the one true God. Join me in pursuing the hearts of our children, will you?

We are going to be studying the armor of God now as part of our school day. This is me holding myself accountable by telling you all. I am going to order this book and I printed this picture off the Internet today. Then I wrote in the armor of God. I had Dylan help me pick out the coolest picture we could find because I didn't want it to be some cheesy cartoon character. I wanted it to look tough and masculine. When I printed it out and asked the boys what the knight was about to be doing, Drew said, "he is going to fight in a battle." Dylan said, "he is going to look so cool and all of the girls are going to want to kiss him!!!" WHAT?!?! I am SO not ready for that kind of talk!! Sigh. ( I am reminding myself that it is also God's plan and design for a man to marry a woman, and this is a natural thing, but God help me to tone it down for a while!! Oh, how I want to protect their hearts for their spouses, I digress...).

I am also stealing some explanations from this picture, although this is exactly the kind of picture that I don't want...

It's hard to see, but if you click on it, the explanations are great, and short and concise. I tend to ramble so that's helpful for me.

Speaking of rambling...I think I am doing so now...I hope this encourages someone and please pray for me and my kids as well if you think about it! We can't fight this battle alone, we need each-other!


Love Sets Us Apart

The most recent season of my life could be summed up in learning how to receive God's love and walk in the freedom that comes with that. My little girl has been a big part of that, she teaches me so much about my father's love for me. Another way to put it would be to say that I am setting aside my pursuit of perfection and resting in Gods love above all. I mess up. I mess up a lot. I bet you do too. In fact, I am certain that you do because Jesus says so.

We live in a fallen, broken world, and we are fallen, broken people.

So what's the point of following Christ? Is it so I can become a perfect, well-liked, polished-up christian? And the longer I follow Jesus, the more I will have it all together? I think I used to believe that. I had good intentions, but the weight of it all got to be overwhelming. And Jesus teaches that his yoke is light. So something was off, and bc God loves me so much, He wasn't willing to let me keep living that way. If you are a christian, and your load feels heavy, ask God to show you why.

I look at the world of religion and pharisees and it's no surprise that so many people in the world do not want anything to do with Christianity. The two get confused with each other. Religion teaches that you have to get it all right and you have to know all the answers. Religion causes arguments between believers over silly, unnecessary things. Yes, sometimes as a follower of Christ, you will be asked by the Lord to make hard decisions that are counter-cultural and that will cause drifts. That's a fact. But when Jesus asks us to make hard decisions, it isn't so that we can look around at those around us and talk about how what I am doing is right and what you are doing is wrong. That's not pretty. It isn't attractive and it certainly isn't love.

The thing is that you might be in a place where God has healed you of any desire to choose the wrong thing in one area of life that He hasn't healed me of yet. And I might be at a place in my life where I don't struggle with the things that you struggle with. When we start comparing those things and pointing fingers at each other, it's leads to insecurity and division. And no one is drawn to that. No one wants to be judged by their every move. Yes, we are to be wise and discerning, especially about who we go to for advice and who we are being influenced by, (ie. *don't take money advice from broke people...), but that's different than comparing and yelling about silly things. 

Christians, lets quit arguing about things that don't matter. Let's take stands in our own personal lives. Let's choose to throw away the alters in our lives. Let's quit worshiping things that we were never intended to worship. And let's do it because we love Jesus and we are desperately seeking Him in everything we do. Not so that we can puff ourselves up and show everyone else how "good" we are. We live for an audience of one. Jesus Christ is our judge. He is the only one who knows our hearts and who has the place to decide if what we are doing is acceptable or not. And I am so honored and humbled to say that I know without a doubt, He rewards faithful obedience, even if no-one else notices. Thank you Jesus. I love you.

*quote from Dave Ramsey

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Life's Healing Choices- Choice Eight

Happy are those who are persecuted because they do what God requires.
Matthew 5:10

If I could sum up chapter 8 in one sentence, it would be this quote from the book.

God is bigger than anyone who hurts you. (or anything that has hurt you.) No matter what other people have done to you, God can recycle it and use it for good. God never wastes a hurt. But you can waste it, if you don't learn from it and share it. Others will be blessed and encouraged if you share the problems and struggles you've gone through. God can and will use your pain to help others, if you let Him.
(I added "or anything that hurts you" because sometimes life just hurts, pain is not always tied up in another person.)

I can't think of much worse than bottling up the things God has done for me and keeping it to myself. That's not how He works, and I certainly don't want to live that way. In fact, the only reason that I can think of keeping hurts, habits, and hang-ups completely to myself would be for the sake of keeping my pride and reputation in tact. I am almost over worrying about what people think of me. I am getting closer and closer to the point of only caring about the glory God receives, and less about myself receiving glory. The truth is that I don't ever want people to think that my faith, or my relationship with Jesus is any more sacred than the relationship that is available to all of us. I am nothing special. Well, I am special because I am a daughter of the king, but that is the only reason.  Jesus has freed me from things and he continues to and anything good that comes from me is only because of the work he is doing in me.

So like I said, I am almost to the point of not caring what other people think of me. But I have not arrived.  I have shared some on here and with friends, and I have gone to DEEP places with some people, but I thought surely that wouldn't happen again.  At least not anytime soon. But I was wrong. As I prayed about who God would have me recycle my pain for and share my story with, he pretty clearly brought a certain woman to my mind. I called her today and I just have to say that He is so faithful and so amazing.

I called my friend, not sure exactly what I would say, or exactly what I would share, but the conversation just flowed so naturally and she said to me, "it is so amazing that you called me today and are speaking to me about the thing that has been such a burden to me here lately."  Wow. Our stories are similar and I knew they were, but I didn't know how similar. We were able to encourage each other and now we can walk alongside each other as we heal from the pain in our pasts. Recycling pain. Beautiful. Amazing. Worth it.

I also want to REDUCE pain by sharing my story.  Because friends, doing things that God says not to do always, always, ALWAYS has a price tag. And it's not because He is a mean God, it's because He is an extremely loving God. So if you are choosing to live outside of God's will right now...STOP!!! Please, please, please. Seek God. Turn your life around and begin the path to healing. I know it is so hard to take that first step, and I know it's sometimes easier to stay in the land of what's comfortable and known, but in the end...IT"S NOT EASIER. And it's not worth it!! Sin always has a price, and you never know how much that price will be or how long it will haunt you. And if you are a parent, you never know what YOUR sin will cost your kids. Don't fool yourself and think you can separate them from it.  Believe me, I am paying the price for sin that was in my life many, many years ago and my hurts, habits, and hang-ups do not just effect me. They effect everyone that is close to me.

...and that, my friends, is the end of this book, but the beginning of a healthier life for me! Thank you for joining me!!

Choice 8
Yield myself to God to be used to bring this good news to others, both by my example and by my words.

Recap of the previous beatitudes that we have covered...

Happy are those who know they are spiritually poor; the Kingdom of heaven belongs to them! (This is about acknowledging our need for God.)

Happy are those who mourn; God will comfort them! (This isn't just about crying, it's about crying OUT TO GOD!!)

Happy are those who are humble; they will receive what God has promised. (This is about acknowledging that we are not in charge of the universe, Jesus is. It's about surrendering to Him.)

Happy are those whose greatest desire is to do what God requires; God will satisfy them fully(This is the continual, life-long choice to always seek after what God desires.)

Happy are those who are merciful to others; God will be merciful to them. ( Choosing to forgive because God has forgiven us, resentment doesn't work, and in the future I will need forgiveness.)

Happy are the pure in heart; they will see God. (Confess your deepest regrets, fears, and concerns to safe people. Satan likes to keep our secrets in the dark and that is where they grow!! Light exposes darkness for what it is and makes it dissipate!)

Happy are those who work for peace; God will call them his children. (Let's quit feeling entitled and causing bickering!! Let it go!! Strive for peace in your marriage, in your relationships, at your work, etc.!)

The Crossing's website where you can find encouraging messages that enhance the journey of this book and healing journey:)

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Life's Healing Choices- Choice Seven

Can I just be honest? For some reason, I am having a really hard time recapping this chapter and what it has meant to me. It's so huge that I am tempted to elaborate way too much, and yet it is so simple that I feel like I could just write two sentences and be done with it.

Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.
Matthew 5:6

Reading my bible has changed me in many ways. Studying my bible has opened my eyes to a whole new world. Living out what I read in my bible has given me confidence. Finding others who believe the same things I believe has given me courage. Stepping out in faith has helped me to believe with total confidence that God's word really is true, no matter what my feelings are. Having a husband who loves the Lord, and others in my life who love the Lord, has caused me to hold fast when I've thought about throwing in the towel.  All of these together have been a safety net of a sort for my life, and I need them all because life is hard, and God didn't ask me to follow him in a vacuum .

As a baby christian, I knew so little of what it meant to live a life that was pleasing to the Lord. I had no idea how to develop a relationship with my father in heaven who loves me so much. So many times, I think we have been failed, and we fail others when we tell them that the "secret" to knowing God and to living a life of freedom is just to "read your bible and pray." Yes, reading God's word, and talking to Abba father are so critical to our lives as Christians. But this book, (Life's Healing Choices, which is a exposition of the beatitudes), is full of such a few powerful, yet life-changing truths that I believe will continue to equip me in the future, and that I hope to share with others as they are learning how to be freed from the things in life that constantly hold them down.

So I will share one thing that has changed for me since I started reading this book and meditating on these scriptures. Here recently, I have been freed from some things of my past that I think were causing me to be at this place where I was ready to attack and fire back when and if I started to feel threatened. Anger was my cue. In the past, I think I would just go with it and get way too riled up about whatever the mishap was. Now, I am watching myself get a little upset about something, but then I can take a step back, ask myself why I am feeling angry, and then I evaluate if whatever it is really is worth getting so upset about. 99.9% of the time, it isn't. Maybe something bothered me, but lately, I can just address that one little issue, without being all bent out of shape, and then just leave it be no matter the outcome, without getting all mad and defensive. It's beautiful.  And the issue can be the issue, instead of the hundred other issues that I had never dealt with. 

So how can I know that I will continue in this pattern? How do I know that this won't be just a season and then I will forget and go right back to where I was??

That's where chapter seven comes in,  it's about maintaining momentum and here is the truth, the second I start thinking I have got this in the bag, well that will be and is the second I fall on my face again. God has me in this sweet place right now, and the only way I can stay in this place of freedom, is if I continually stay connected to Him.  Staying connected to Him (through the ways I mentioned above...), maintaining momentum, and preventing relapses is my goal. A relapse for me is just going back to that yucky place where my heart is not in tuned to His and I get more and more pulled by the world and the things it has to offer (ie. false security, false ways of feeling accepted and loved, selfishness, being a consumer, etc.).

One really cool tool that Chapter 7 provided was's an emotional check.

H- am I hurting?
E- am I exhausted?
A- am I angry?
R- do I have resentment?
T-  do I have tension?

I can go through this little check real quickly and pinpoint what's going on in my heart when I am feeling off. I love it.  Quick and simple.

Choice Seven
Reserve a daily time with God for self-examination, Bible reading, and prayer in order to know God and His will for my life and to gain the power to follow His will.

Recap of the previous beatitudes that we have covered...

Happy are those who know they are spiritually poor; the Kingdom of heaven belongs to them! (This is about acknowledging our need for God.)

Happy are those who mourn; God will comfort them! (This isn't just about crying, it's about crying OUT TO GOD!!)

Happy are those who are humble; they will receive what God has promised. (This is about acknowledging that we are not in charge of the universe, Jesus is. It's about surrendering to Him.)

Happy are those whose greatest desire is to do what God requires; God will satisfy them fully.  (This is the continual, life-long choice to always seek after what God desires.)

Happy are those who are merciful to others; God will be merciful to them. ( Choosing to forgive because God has forgiven us, resentment doesn't work, and in the future I will need forgiveness.)

Happy are the pure in heart; they will see God. (Confess your deepest regrets, fears, and concerns to safe people. Satan likes to keep our secrets in the dark and that is where they grow!! Light exposes darkness for what it is and makes it dissipate!)

Happy are those who work for peace; God will call them his children. (Let's quit feeling entitled and causing bickering!! Let it go!! Strive for peace in your marriage, in your relationships, at your work, etc.!)

(Sorry if this is all over the place, again, I am having a hard time recapping this one!!)

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Why I Keep Drinking the Pine Cove Kool-Aid

The first year I went to PC, I cried when we got home. I cried because my experience at PC was so wonderful and I did not want to abandon the wonderful things that I had experienced there. Over the years, I have tried to put my finger on what is so wonderful about it and these are a few conclusions I have come to.

1. Prayer.
Everything about PC has been prayed over and is being prayed over the entire time. God's presence is so tangible and evident at PC.

2. Real Community.
The relationships and community that I have experienced at PC are amazing. Everyone is there for similar reasons and we all share the same desire to connect with our families, with God, and sometimes with each other, ( I mention the last part, because sometimes I have been there with no energy to "reach" out to anyone outside of my family, yet God still provides those relationships and connections. It's a beautiful thing.)

2. Worship.
While at PC, there are no outside distractions, and everything is done with a heart of worship. "So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God." This is true at PC. Everything is intentional and the grounds become a haven.

3. Servanthood
One of the things I have learned through PC is that to be a servant of Christ doesn't mean to serve only when it is convenient or easy. The students in particular at PC serve the heck out of the families there. And they work HARD. They work LONG hours and the entire time, you never see them serving without a smile on their faces, and/or begrudgingly. They have loved on my kids, served us countless meals, and offered encouragement through who they are in more ways than I could ever count.

4. Vulnerability.
PC has been a safe place for me to share with others about the struggles we have endured. I have received love and rest there.  I have heard more men and women be vulnerable with their hearts in the large group sessions than I have ever heard probably in my life. It is amazing to hear the challenges other families are enduring and then to see God work in mighty ways as they share and are open to prayer and/or help.  At the end of the week, there are opportunities to share what God has done, and it is so amazing. I have seen marriages redeemed, I have seen people get saved, I have learned MIGHTY lessons myself, and I have heard testimonies that would rock anyone's world.

5. Fun.
Jason and I have so much FUN with our kids when we are at PC. It is a chance to be set up for many, many opportunities to do nothing else but have fun with the kids. They make it easy and available, all you have to do is take the bait.  Boat rides, horse rides, zip lines, ice cream and late-night snacks, swimming, skits, games and fishing are just the first few that come to the top of my mind.

6. Challenges.
I have seen my kids overcome fears and take opportunities to be brave and courageous while at PC. I think it is because it is a safe environment and the kids sense that.

7. Generational Lines.
At PC,  college-aged kids hang out with babies, preschoolers, parents, and grandparents...and every other combination. Everyone at camp becomes a true family and the bonds that are made have made an incredible impression on my kids, and on myself. I have seen the value of spending time with not just my peers, but with people of all different ages and walks of life at PC. 

8. Refreshment and Focus
Every year at PC is an opportunity for Jason and I to step back and evaluate the direction of our family. It is also a chance to refocus and get back on track if we need to.  We also receive training and instruction for our marriage and as parents.  Every year, I walk away with truth(s) more deeply ingrained into my heart, and with tangible ways to walk them out.

As I step back from PC, I realize that PC does a good job of painting a picture of what the church, the body of Christ, should look like. This is my dream for what every church should look like, and I think it is a glimpse of what heaven will look like.