Category Archives: Blessings

Glimpses of Christmas…

The Christmas season this year for us was both exhausting and rejuvenating.  Peaceful and busy. Fast and slow.  We had moments of sickness and periods of health.  Togetherness with extended family and time to snuggle up at home, just the four of us, enjoying the wood burning fire and just being.  Here are some glimpses of what Christmas was for us this year…

Mary & Joseph sojourning to Bethlehem...

Mary & Joseph sojourning to Bethlehem…

We were gifted a Veggie Tales Nativity scene.  It has been very well loved.  The kids shriek with delight when it appears each year and the past two years, we’ve had Mary and Joseph journey around the house until Christmas Eve where they join the rest of the Nativity scene to wait for Jesus’ birth.  The kids LOVE trying to find them each morning after they realize they’ve moved.

 

 

 

 

I shopped and shopped for the right Christmas tree topper.  Every one I brought home tipped over due to being too heavy.  We finally20141213_222046 landed on this silver star…which struggles to remain upright too…it is jerry-rigged (who came up with that term?) with a paper binder clip!  It reminds me of The Nesting Place quote, “It doesn’t have to be perfect to be beautiful!”

 

 

 

 

 

20141206_174928Making cookies, a small way to let people know how much we love them…I hope they tasted love with each bite.  The most requested ones are the Ritz cracker, peanut butter, and dipped chocolate cookies that taste similar to the popular Girl Scout cookie.

 

20141219_203238One of my favorite ornaments since becoming a mother was gifted to us from Erin, Evan’s daycare provider the first two and a half years of his life.  She gave us a clear ornament with his smiling face peeking out.  For some reason it made me feel like she treasured Evan just as much as we did.  So I decided to share the love and made some for the rest of our family (and our own tree).   All you need is:

  • Clear plastic ornaments (I found mine at Michael’s–majorly discounted in November and December–I think mine were fifty nine cents each)
  • Some Photos you are all right with cutting
  • tin foil
  • something decorative for the back side of the photo (ribbon, glitter, sparkles, etc.)
  • something to tie or hang on the top of the ornament ball
  • a cup to trace to make the right size circle
  • a pencil or pen and a permanent marker
  • tweezers

Trace a circle onto your photo the right size for your ornament ball. You may need to experiment a bit.  Once it’s cut out, lay the circle on tin foil and cut a circle out of the foil with a slight edge to bend over the photo.  Once the photo and foil are combined, use a permanent marker to write the year the picture was taken on the bottom of the foil side.

Remove the silver hanging part to the ornament.  Roll the photo/foil combo into a small tube–small enough to push into the whole at the top of the plastic ornament.  As it goes into the ornament, it will start to unroll.  Help it gently with the tweezers until it’s standing upright in the center.  Once it is secure in it’s position, gently add ribbon or glitter BEHIND the photo (so the side where the foil is).  In my experience, when glitter gets on the photo side, the static makes the glitter stick either to the ornament wall or the photo, making the photo difficult to see.20141219_203209

Then put the silver piece back on the ornament ball and add ribbon or anything else your heart desires to the silver piece to make it festive.  Wa-la!  A very beautiful, personalized gift that did not cost much to make!  Whether you gift them or make them for your own family, they are delightful.  My goal is to make a new one of these each year so as we gaze at our tree each year, we can see the kids growing up little by little!

It has taken me seven years to make our house a home.  Ryan’s encouraged me to “put some stuff up on the walls” and this was the year I finally did it!  After being inspired by The Nesting Place and Jen Hatmaker’s feature wall, it became a goal to put one together myself.  See Jen
Hatmaker’s here: One Amazing Feature Wall, my words, not hers! I have a few favorites in my feature wall but I absolutely love the twig frame I found at a local store and the barn wood type frame I found at a thrift store and made into a chalkboard…

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I haven’t just stuck with the walls, I’m getting better at adding beauty other places…redoing chairs, adding fake flowers…and I’m enjoying it!  It makes my soul sing–and I hope others’ souls who visit.  And that, my friends, is a glimpse into our Christmas!  I hope your soul sung as you celebrated Jesus’ birth too!

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My Hanging Lake Hike–The Best Mother’s Day Gift EVER!!!!

Your love, Lord, reaches to the heavens, your faithfulness to the skies. Your righteousness is like the highest mountains, your justice like the great deep.   You, Lord, preserve both people and animals. How priceless is your unfailing love, O God! People take refuge in the shadow of your wings. They feast on the abundance of your house; you give them drink from your river of delights. For with you is the fountain of life; in your light we see light.       –Psalm 36:5-9

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Know any mothers who chose to celebrate Mother’s Day without their kids?  This girl!  Was there a little bit of guilt about this? Yes, but I’ve made my peace with it since then…

This year when Ryan asked what I wanted to do for Mother’s Day, I told him I wanted to hike Hanging Lake with my Mom sans kids.  And being the awesome husband he is, he was up for it.  This was the most selfless, amazing gift I’ve received.  It meant Ryan would take care of our kids all day on a Saturday because Hanging Lake was about three hours away which meant my mom and I would be gone for at least six hours plus hiking time.  I tried to arrange for a babysitter to give Ryan a break for a few hours but all the sitters I contacted already had plans that Saturday.  Luckily, Ryan’s dad and stepmom offered to take the kids for a few hours so Ryan got a break in his long day of childcare.  To me, Ryan’s gift to me this Mother’s Day was lavish, abundant love.  A gift that spoke right to my heart that he cared enough to give me a gift that he knew I would treasure.

104_4134So why Hanging Lake? Over the years I’ve lived in Colorado, Hanging Lake always comes up as an amazing place to visit.  Its located outside of Glenwood Springs just off the scenic I-70 and is a serene and beautiful lake high up in the mountains.  The main website labeled the hike as “strenuous” and the signs at the trailhead described it as “difficult” (most of the hike is at a decent incline, you climb up a lot of rock “steps”).   Surprisingly, these descriptors did not deter me!  I love to go for walks and hike but couldn’t say that I was in the best shape at this time.  But I was going to hike to Hanging Lake, even if it kicked my butt!  Even if I was red-faced and taking frequent breaks on the side of the trail, I was going to get up to that lake! (for those who are concerned about this hike being difficult, it really wasn’t that bad.  I was definitely not the worst hiker on this trail and when I did need to stop for a break, there were plenty of spots to relax without impeding other hikers and it gave me more time to soak in the beauty all around me!) 

Another challenge, we had also heard that parking at the trailhead was really difficult to get, especially on weekends and during the summer.  There were only so many spots and because it was just off the interstate, you could not “creatively” park just off the lot if it was full.  Websites recommended bringing a bike and biking in from other points near Glenwood Springs.  So my mom and I decided we’d try to get there super early (meaning we’d leave around 5am or 6am from our place) AND we’d bring a bike in case we had to park elsewhere (one of us would drop the other off at the trailhead and wait for the other to bike in).

The morning of our hike, I slept through my alarm but we still made it out the door at a decent time.  The drive towards Glenwood Springs was amazing.  I hadn’t realized how little time my mom and I have had to talk with each other, uninterrupted.  Usually there are two kids bouncing around near us which we love but it means we don’t always get to finish a sentence much less have a coherent conversation!  Having time to talk and just “do life” with my mom was priceless.  It made me feel so blessed all over again that she and my dad had taken the leap and moved out to Colorado.  To me, this time with her was a very tangible picture not just of Ryan’s selfless gift to me but also of God’s abundant goodness and lavish generosity in giving me time in person with my wonderful Mom.

When we exited I-70 and pulled into the parking lot, we were speechless!  The parking lot we expected to be full was 75% empty and even better, when we drove through it, the truck in the parking spot closest to the trailhead, backed out giving us the best possible parking spot ever!  We just wanted a parking spot in the lot, to give us the best one there, icing on the cake!  Someone was looking down and smiling!  Could it get better than this? The fact that it was the day before Mother’s Day and the forecast called for rain could have played into this blessing but we’ll take it!!!

So could it get better than this?  Definitely, and it did.  See for yourself.  A picture can speak a thousand words.

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Beautiful trees, gorgeous rocks, and a bubbling mountain river that meandered alongside the trail the entire way up to Hanging Lake.

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Inhaling fresh and crisp pine- scented mountain air while listening to rushing water as we ascended.

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Here’s the lake itself and the waterfall that provides mountain water to it…

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The trail wasn’t busy and when we did encounter other hikers, there was an easy camaraderie. In case you’re curious, it did start to rain as we ventured back down.  But it was a light, misty rain.  Even it was beautiful…

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104_4164As we hiked, my mom and I both pondered how Hanging Lake was just one place on earth that was so unbelievably beautiful that God created and experienced all day, every day…even more, how only He sees breathtakingly beautiful deep sea fish, how He sees every wave, every sunrise and sunset, every beautiful aspect of our planet even if we don’t.  He is lavish about beauty, abundant in goodness.  He does not just create functional or practical things.  He delights in blowing our mind with beauty!  Why do we doubt His heart?

God has been teaching me lately about His generosity, lavish love, and abundance.  I guess I’ve known that He’d provide for our needs, but so many verses speak to Him wanting to not just stop there but going above and beyond.  His heart is good.

And my day at Hanging Lake was a reminder that God delights in blessing us in small and in big ways. Why do I doubt so often?  Why do my expectations of God pale in comparison to what He actually is all about?  Ephesians 3:20 has challenged me lately, “Now to Him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us…”

I’ll close with an excerpt from Jesus Calling.  Sarah Young speaks often about our God being a God of abundance.  Here is one excerpt that spoke straight to my heart and resonates with how I felt about my Hanging Lake day—that God was a God of details throughout it all:

I am a God of both intricate detail and overflowing abundance. When you entrust the details of your life to Me, you are surprised by how thoroughly I answer your petitions. I take pleasure in hearing your prayers, so feel free to bring Me all your requests. The more you pray, the more answers you can receive. Best of all, your faith is strengthened as you see how precisely I respond to your specific prayers.

Because I am infinite in all My ways, you need not fear that I will run out of resources. Abundance is at the very heart of who I AM. Come to Me in joyful expectation of receiving all you need—and sometimes much more! I delight in showering blessings on My beloved children. Come to Me with open hands and heart, ready to receive all I have for you.

Psalm 36:7-9, Psalm 132:15, John 6:12-13, John 10:10

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Praying for Your Children #21—Praying for Dad

100_3105Praying for yourself not only helps you but also helps your children and your husband.  Praying for your husband will impact everyone in the family too!  Your children’s dad is one of the most important people in their lives.  As I’ve sat and pondered this, I’ve wondered, why have I not devoted more time and energy to praying for my husband?  Praying for him is a much better skill to cultivate than nagging or arguing and what a better way to truly love someone, by praying blessings for them.

Our little family had a big decision to make in July.  I had to decide whether to accept an offer to go back to a job I loved on a part-time basis.  When deciding whether to go back to work, I had a hard time assessing the possible impact on my husband and kids.  I mostly thought about it being a negative impact.

Would my children feel like I cared more about work than them? 

What about my husband?

Would our household run as smoothly if my focus was divided between work and home?

How we had thought about setting up, my sister would take care of the kids one morning a week but the other two times I was at work, my husband would be watching our kids so we could avoid childcare expenses.  That would be a big commitment on his part.  Especially because one would be a work night so he’d have the responsibility of caring for the kids after he had already finished a long day at his own job and the other would be watching the kids on the weekend for a few hours.  That would mean sacrifice on his part.

Would he get stressed out watching the kids? 

Would he feel comfortable doing it as there were times he grew easily frustrated with the kids? 

Was it selfish of me that I wanted to go back to work?

Ryan has always been great with kids.  I had the opportunity to watch him interact with a friend’s little boy before we started dating and seeing how he amazing he was with kids was one of the things that initially attracted me to him.  Later, I found out that he had never even babysat and that blew my mind!   And my assessment of how he’d be as a father has paled in comparison to the father that he actually is.  He is one amazing, feisty, invested father.  From the beginning, he rolled up his sleeves and jumped right into being a complete partner in parenting.  Back then, if he hadn’t, I think I would have had a nervous breakdown.  Evan cried a lot as a newborn and was really difficult to soothe.  If I hadn’t had someone in our house to help out with his care, it would not have been good.  Many times, Ryan could soothe Evan better than I could.  And don’t even get me started on his amazing swaddling skills!  Ryan also became the primary caregiver for Evan during part of his layoff from work.  Back then, we didn’t have a choice.  I had to work and we couldn’t afford ongoing out-of-home daycare.  I think because of the particulars of our early journey in parenthood, we have a much more egalitarian, more non-traditional relationship than my parents did.  Not that there’s anything wrong with a traditional gender-roled relationship, ours just looks different.

So what did we decide about me going back to work?  My husband and I agreed that I should do it.  I was honestly surprised at how definite, decisive, and optimistic Ryan was about the opportunity for me.  So, we agreed, there were clear benefits to our family financially and clear intellectual and emotional benefits to me personally.  And I was lucky, there I go again, blessed.  Since Ryan had been at home providing the child care for Evan in the past, he knew firsthand how important it was to get out of the house and feel invested in something else.

2-3093996D-135650-800As we’ve gone down this road, there have been freeing nights for me but exhausting nights for Ryan.  Having to figure out how to manage two active little ones without their mom was tiring.  But you know what happened?  He started to figure out ways to make it easier on himself and more enjoyable for the kids. Before, when we were both home at night, I was still the one mainly in charge of taking care of the kids and disciplining them as needed.  Because I did it all the time during the work week, it was just easier for me to do.  And at times, my husband would attempt to do it, but if I didn’t like how he was handling it I’d take over or we’d argue about it afterward, me thinking my way was better.  Not the best thing for our marriage and definitely not a good strategy with the kids.  If it continued, our kids would take advantage of their parents not presenting as a united front.  And how arrogant of me!  Thinking my way was “the right way.”  Maybe my husband’s style of interacting with the kids could not just work with them, but even work better if just given the chance!

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So, now, instead of continuing to worry about all the ways I could be harming my family by working again, I’ve seen benefits not only to our family financially and me personally, but have also seen the benefit for my children and my husband.

Has Evan been testing his Dad? 

Absolutely.

Have I come home to a completely exhausted husband? 

Frequently.

But I also believe that as I get out of the way, relationships will be strengthened and confidence in managing the kids’ behavior will be heightened.  It might take a little while for my husband and kids to find their groove without me, but I know it will happen and our little family will be the better for it.  And in the midst of the growing pains and the chaos, there have been so many sweet moments.  Whether it’s receiving a picture on my phone from Ryan of Makenna delighting in her chalk drawings or seeing the pride on my husband’s face after a long night with the kids because he felt like he not only survived but thrived, there are so many moments that are beautiful.  Messy but beautiful.  Ryan is feeling more and more skilled at caring for and loving our kids in his own way.  I just needed to get out of the way.Mak and Daddy

I’m reading a book right now called LEAN IN: Women, Work, And The Will to Lead by Sheryl Sandberg.  Its all about how women hold themselves back at times from leadership opportunities in their careers and how to better manage having a family and a thriving career.  She quickly admits that women cannot have it all.  Something will have to give if a woman is focused on having a career and a family, but she does not agree that the kids have to be the thing sacrificed.  For women who want to have a family and work outside of the home, she challenges women to work with their partner to have an equitable relationship when it comes to home life.  That the men help out more with household duties and childcare.  Not only does this help the woman, but there’s a huge positive impact on the kids in the situation.

Studies have found that children “benefit greatly from paternal involvement.  Research over the last forty years has consistently found that in comparison to children with less-involved fathers, children with involved and loving fathers have higher levels of psychological well-being and better cognitive abilities.  When fathers provide even just routine child care, children have higher levels of educational and economic achievement and lower delinquency rates.  Their children even tend to be more empathetic and socially competent” (Sandberg, 113).

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These results were found regardless of whether the mother was highly involved.  Dads have a HUGE impact!  Every day when I’m at work, I see how the lack of a father’s involvement has played out in kids’ lives.  It makes me thank God over and over for Ryan being my children’s daddy specifically!  That said, I need to be praying for him more.

So, here are some ways to pray for your husband.  This is a way I can put into action my desire to pray for my husband.  This is the third part of a weekly-formatted prayer handout my mom gave me that has really challenged me in a good way.  (Curious about the first two sections from this handout?  Check out Praying for Your Children–Day by Day and Praying for Yourself).

Praying for Your Husband

Sunday

1.)    That he might become a holy man, a man of prayer, mature in the Lord, growing in His knowledge of God (I Thess 5:23, Col. 4:12, Eph. 1:18-19, 3:16-19, 6:8).

2.)    That he might daily seek God with all his heart, walking in the Spirit moment by moment, growing in his dependence on Him (Ps 27:4, 119:1-2, Prov. 3:5-6, John 15:5).

Monday

3.)    That he might learn to take every thought captive, to not be conformed to the world’s thinking and to think Scripturally (Rom. 12:2, II Corin. 10:5).

4.)    That he would learn to not depend on his circumstances for happiness, but on God alone (Hab. 3:17-19).

Tuesday

5.)    That he might have new strength in the midst of his busy schedule and that the Lord might infuse him with His strength (Is. 40:31, Eh. 3:14-19).

6.)    That his self image might be a reflection of the Lord’s thoughts toward Him (Eph. 1:17-18, Rom. 12:3, Ps. 139).

Wednesday

7.)    That he might become a called man, not driven, with well-thought-through and prayed-through goals in life (I Corin. 9:24-27).

8.)    That the Lord might give him wisdom to lead his family physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually (Eph. 1:17-19, James 1:5-7).

Thursday

9.)    That he might stand firm against the schemes of the devil and resist Satan in all circumstances (Eph 6:10-18, James 4:7).

10.)  That he might not be deceived into unbelief or sin (Matt 13:58, Gal. 6:7).

Friday

11.)  That the fruit of the Spirit might be exhibited more and more in his life (Gal. 5:22-23).

12.)  That he might learn to love as God has commanded (I Corin. 13:4-7, Rom. 12:8-10).

Saturday

13.)  That the Lord might protect him, guarding his course (Prov. 2:8).

14.)  That he might learn to manage his time well (Eph. 5:15).

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How about you?  What do you pray about for your husband?  Have you thanked God and your husband lately for the amazing father he is to your children?  Count your blessings. There are many fatherless, whether physically or emotional, children in the world.  If your husband is present and invested, your children are blessed to have him in their lives.

I’m So Lucky….Or Not…

It is easy to anticipate that this year will be very much like the last
and the one before it, when, in fact, chances are good

it will be altogether different. 

So when events begin to turn, realize that none of it is merely coincidental.

 Remember that.

 Take the word “coincidental” out of your vocabulary, along with “luck.” 

You can trash them both! 

You don’t need them anymore.
Nothing is coincidental.
“Luck” has no place in a Christian’s vocabulary.
                                                                     
By Charles Stanley

I had the pleasure of spending time with one of my dear friends the other night and had the most uplifting conversation.  While we no longer share a hometown, we do share a faith.  So while we really connect, we don’t see each other often.  This friendship is unique because we didn’t hang out a lot before I moved away and yet we can be very transparent with each other and share both our joys and struggles.  God has used this friend many times to speak into my life with a piercing accuracy that astounds me.  Its like she’s been given supernatural insight into who I am, like she’s read the “owners manual” all about me specifically….and because we share a faith, I know the supernatural source of that insight!  But the piercing is not just in the way she challenges me, which she most definitely does, she’s not one for mincing words, but also speaking truth in a way that blesses my life.  She reflects who she sees that God has made me to be—not just who I am currently—but the potential in me, and how God can use me in the future.  She reflects my strengths and my gifts.  She has helped me see who I am while also challenging me to strive to be more like Christ.  He has also used me to challenge her and reflect to her, what I see in her.  It’s a special friendship, not the type I have with many.

One thing she challenged me about last week was my use of the word “lucky.”  I know I use the word “blessed” a lot, but had never really focused on the difference between being blessed and being lucky.  I think in the past I’ve used those interchangeably.  I’m so blessed to….or, boy, I am so lucky that…

For whatever reason that night I kept using the latter word, lucky, instead of the former.  And it got to my friend!  She kept pointing out that it’s not luck when you have a relationship with God.  And she’s right.  When God is involved, there’s no such thing as luck.  Everything comes from His hand.  There are no coincidences.  I don’t know if I’ve used “lucky” to be more p.c. or what, but going forward, I’m going to strive to use blessed. 

The dictionary defines “Blessed” as:
1. consecrated; sacred; holy; sanctified: the Blessed Sacrament.

2. worthy of adoration, reverence, or worship: the Blessed Trinity.

3. divinely or supremely favored; fortunate: to be blessed with a strong, healthy body; blessed with an ability to find friends.

 4. blissfully happy or contented.

And the quote at the top of this posting?  It showed up in my friend’s devotions two days after we had gotten together? Coincidence?  I don’t think so. : )

Praise the name of the Lord your God, that has dealt wondrously with you Joel 2:26
_____________________________________________________________________________________________
Lord,

Thank you for soul mate friends.  Thank you for friends who see the world differently than us, ones who can challenge us to grow, but thank you also for friends who share our faith and can challenge us to go deeper with you.  Lord, I lift up both my kids and pray that you’ll bless them with both types of friends.  Friends who will have had different experiences than them that can challenge their perspective and experiences and friends who share their faith and can draw them closer to you.  May all of their friendship experiences teach them more about You, whether a faith is shared or not.  
May you equip us as parents to speak into their lives in piercingly beautiful ways.  May we reflect not just what we already see in them but also what You’re calling them to…who you are making them to be.  May we speak challenges, truth, but also beautiful, piercing, soul-rejuvenating grace. 
Lord, please bring others into our childrens’ lives who will also speak in this way to them.  May there be many–friends, teachers, youth pastors, grandparents, and other relatives that will have supernatural insight into our childrens’ lives.  That they would hear from others the truth of who you have truly made them to be, foibles and talents, quirks and giftings.  May these words bless them, grow them, and bring life to them.  May they have a supernatural sense of who they are and Who You Are from an early age.   May they know their true identity.  May they never have serious doubts about their overall purpose or their significance in this big world, knowing that ultimately both come from You.  May You reveal the specifics of their purpose and Your plan for them through Your Word—both through Scripture and through the words you give your followers to speak into their lives.  May both of our children learn discernment.  May they know what truth is from You and what to discard.  May hurtful words and ones that are clearly not from You slide off of them.  May it not pierce, may it not impact, may it fall off them.  Help them be receptive to feedback and open to honesty.  
May your Holy Spirit convict us when we say we’re lucky or when we claim that things in our lives are a coincidence.  Remind us to give credit to Whom credit is due: to You!  We are so blessed, may our children know this to their bones.  May they connect all things coming from Your hand.  That we’re not lucky, our lives aren’t full of random coincidences, but that we’re BLESSED… blessed by You!
In Jesus’ Name,

Amen 

I’m So Lucky….Or Not…

It is easy to anticipate that this year will be very much like the last
and the one before it, when, in fact, chances are good

it will be altogether different. 

So when events begin to turn, realize that none of it is merely coincidental.

 Remember that.

 Take the word “coincidental” out of your vocabulary, along with “luck.” 

You can trash them both! 

You don’t need them anymore.
Nothing is coincidental.
“Luck” has no place in a Christian’s vocabulary.
                                                                     
By Charles Stanley

I had the pleasure of spending time with one of my dear friends the other night and had the most uplifting conversation.  While we no longer share a hometown, we do share a faith.  So while we really connect, we don’t see each other often.  This friendship is unique because we didn’t hang out a lot before I moved away and yet we can be very transparent with each other and share both our joys and struggles.  God has used this friend many times to speak into my life with a piercing accuracy that astounds me.  Its like she’s been given supernatural insight into who I am, like she’s read the “owners manual” all about me specifically….and because we share a faith, I know the supernatural source of that insight!  But the piercing is not just in the way she challenges me, which she most definitely does, she’s not one for mincing words, but also speaking truth in a way that blesses my life.  She reflects who she sees that God has made me to be—not just who I am currently—but the potential in me, and how God can use me in the future.  She reflects my strengths and my gifts.  She has helped me see who I am while also challenging me to strive to be more like Christ.  He has also used me to challenge her and reflect to her, what I see in her.  It’s a special friendship, not the type I have with many.

One thing she challenged me about last week was my use of the word “lucky.”  I know I use the word “blessed” a lot, but had never really focused on the difference between being blessed and being lucky.  I think in the past I’ve used those interchangeably.  I’m so blessed to….or, boy, I am so lucky that…

For whatever reason that night I kept using the latter word, lucky, instead of the former.  And it got to my friend!  She kept pointing out that it’s not luck when you have a relationship with God.  And she’s right.  When God is involved, there’s no such thing as luck.  Everything comes from His hand.  There are no coincidences.  I don’t know if I’ve used “lucky” to be more p.c. or what, but going forward, I’m going to strive to use blessed. 

The dictionary defines “Blessed” as:
1. consecrated; sacred; holy; sanctified: the Blessed Sacrament.

2. worthy of adoration, reverence, or worship: the Blessed Trinity.

3. divinely or supremely favored; fortunate: to be blessed with a strong, healthy body; blessed with an ability to find friends.

 4. blissfully happy or contented.

And the quote at the top of this posting?  It showed up in my friend’s devotions two days after we had gotten together? Coincidence?  I don’t think so. : )

Praise the name of the Lord your God, that has dealt wondrously with you Joel 2:26
_____________________________________________________________________________________________
Lord,

Thank you for soul mate friends.  Thank you for friends who see the world differently than us, ones who can challenge us to grow, but thank you also for friends who share our faith and can challenge us to go deeper with you.  Lord, I lift up both my kids and pray that you’ll bless them with both types of friends.  Friends who will have had different experiences than them that can challenge their perspective and experiences and friends who share their faith and can draw them closer to you.  May all of their friendship experiences teach them more about You, whether a faith is shared or not.  
May you equip us as parents to speak into their lives in piercingly beautiful ways.  May we reflect not just what we already see in them but also what You’re calling them to…who you are making them to be.  May we speak challenges, truth, but also beautiful, piercing, soul-rejuvenating grace. 
Lord, please bring others into our childrens’ lives who will also speak in this way to them.  May there be many–friends, teachers, youth pastors, grandparents, and other relatives that will have supernatural insight into our childrens’ lives.  That they would hear from others the truth of who you have truly made them to be, foibles and talents, quirks and giftings.  May these words bless them, grow them, and bring life to them.  May they have a supernatural sense of who they are and Who You Are from an early age.   May they know their true identity.  May they never have serious doubts about their overall purpose or their significance in this big world, knowing that ultimately both come from You.  May You reveal the specifics of their purpose and Your plan for them through Your Word—both through Scripture and through the words you give your followers to speak into their lives.  May both of our children learn discernment.  May they know what truth is from You and what to discard.  May hurtful words and ones that are clearly not from You slide off of them.  May it not pierce, may it not impact, may it fall off them.  Help them be receptive to feedback and open to honesty.  
May your Holy Spirit convict us when we say we’re lucky or when we claim that things in our lives are a coincidence.  Remind us to give credit to Whom credit is due: to You!  We are so blessed, may our children know this to their bones.  May they connect all things coming from Your hand.  That we’re not lucky, our lives aren’t full of random coincidences, but that we’re BLESSED… blessed by You!
In Jesus’ Name,

Amen 

Blessings 1738 and 1739!

Gratitude arises from the lived perception, evaluation, and acceptance of all of life as grace—as an undeserved and unearned gift from the Father’s hand. 

 Brennan Manning (24)


I am speechless.  For those of you who know me, that’s not an easy thing to do.  But here I am, blown away by God’s mercy and blessing on our family, again!  Twice this week, I have glimpsed God’s provision in beautiful ways.

The first blessing is Rocco.  No, I’m not pregnant with a baby boy!  He is our new dog.  Ryan has wanted to get another dog since Oliver died.  I needed some time to grieve the loss of Oliver.  We had talked about getting a bigger dog, but hadn’t figured out what we wanted.  Ryan was lobbying to get some sort of bulldog.  I thought they were cute, but they seemed really expensive and have a lot of gas, slobber, health issues, and are known to snore.  Both of us love labs but wondered if they shed too much.  And we’ve both adored Boxers, but wondered if they’d be too high energy for our lifestyle.  Ryan shared that he wanted a dog that was already potty trained.  I love puppies but wasn’t looking forward to that aspect of getting a new dog either as I’m still knee deep in potty training and diapering our kids.  And maybe in getting a slightly older dog, we may know their full grown size.  But if we were to get a dog from an animal shelter, we couldn’t know for sure how big the dog would grow to be or how it would get along with Zoe and our kids. 

So the other day I was getting my haircut and my hairstylist and I started talking dogs. I shared that one of our dogs had passed and we’ve toyed with the idea of getting another dog.  She shared that she is not a dog-person and had two dogs until recently.  They just gave one of their dogs to her brother to keep and were looking for a good home for their second dog, Rocco.  Rocco is a four year old, lab/boxer.  He’s great with kids, laid back, and has really short hair.  Our hairstylist and her family brought Rocco over to our house on Sunday night to see if it’d be a good match.  And it was!  

So we’re now the proud owner of Rocco.  It’s so fun seeing each person in our family fall in
love with him.  Evan and Zoe love running around the backyard with him.  Makenna
mostly loves watching him zoom by her, but has also gone up and pet him.  Ryan and I are
delighted at the joy and energy he brings to our family.

Rocco is Blessing #1738 and what’s so amazing:
·         Rocco was FREE
·         We know his age and full size
·         We know he has a long track record for getting along with children
·         He’s got short hair
·         We love the breeds he is and we got the best of both of them in his temperament and size


And although Rocco isn’t a bulldog, I couldn’t have picked a more perfect dog for my husband.  I feel like this was a beautiful blessing not just for our family, but especially for Ryan. 

On a sidenote, it is CRAZY how big Rocco is compared to how small Zoe is.  I knew Zoe was a small dog, but check out the kennel size difference!  And we’ve never had to make sure that toilet seats are down, food is kept high, etc. because our past two dogs were height-challenged!  : )  We had to laugh when Rocco drank out of our kids’ water/sand table the night he came to visit! 

And Blessing #1739?  Let me share a little background information first.  A few months
ago, the person renting our house in the Springs begged for us to do something to the
backyard.  When I lived there, it had grass, but in recent years, it has turned to dust.  We
felt that we should do something for our tenant, but knew it would mean dipping into our
savings.  But we’re called to love our neighbor and who is closer than someone living in
our Springs house?  So, we’ve started to make plans for getting that done.  Then last week
we got a call that the tub down there is cracked and they think it’ll cost $1300 to repair it. 
Not only is that way more than we planned to use on the backyard, we were floored
because that tub was replaced just a few years ago.  Ryan immediately thought about our
budget and got stressed.  For some reason, I had peace in this situation…that it would all
work out.  
In the midst of this, I’ve also been trying to figure out how to pay for feeding therapy
going forward.  We have made so much progress (YAY!), but still need Nissa’s help.   And
while Ryan had peace that God would provide for this need, this is where I was anxious.
Why?  After wrestling with our insurance company this winter to get them to continue to
cover Evan’s feeding therapy, I’m tired.  I’ve come to dislike the bureaucracy and all the
paperwork and having to figure out how to get everything right within their system to get
it covered.  So while the insurance situation is resolved for the time being, our medical
grant that subsidizes the cost, is expiring at the beginning of June.  We had begged for an
extension as we still have money left in our grant account and hadn’t been able to receive
feeding therapy for six months of the last twelve due to things outside of our control. 
The grant was clear: no extensions.  We could reapply like a new applicant once our
current grant expired. 
Okay.  I can do that. 
Then I pulled up the grant application and checklist. 
Oh boy, had I forgotten how detailed and thorough this application was!  I was dreading
it.  Absolutely dreading it!  But if that’s what I needed to do, I was going to do it.  I had
taken baby steps to start the process but mostly started praying.  I’ve been trying to go to
God first with my concerns instead of just getting busy and trying to figure it out all by
myself. 
Then yesterday, during feeding therapy, Nissa had a brilliant idea.  About a month ago,
she shared the exciting news that the county’s early childhood group had set aside some
funding to cover kids who had eating issues but had “aged out.”  This was great news
considering that special education services in preschool can’t address this need and for
families like ours, it’s our number one priority.  I was so excited for all the families out
there who needed this financial help and had similar issues to ours!!!!  Awesome! 
As this conversation occurred before we found out that we couldn’t extend the grant,
neither of us considered it being an option for our family.  Then yesterday Nissa
connected the dots.  Duh, we could ask for funds from the county for this case!  It cracks
me up that neither of us thought of this before yesterday.  And today she called with the
news that our family has been accepted to get some funding from the early childhood
group!  And even better yet?  It will be easy to pay out.  This past year has involved A LOT
of paperwork, documentation, and multiple submissions to two companies.  And while
we’ve been so thankful for our feeding therapy being covered,  Nissa and I have had a lot
to stay on top of to make sure nothing fell between the cracks.  This new funding source
does not require all the rigorous hoop-jumping.  So not only will our feeding therapy be
paid for, it will be done in a much less stressful way.  That’s Blessing #1739…heck, the
decrease in hoops and extensive paperwork should be its own Blessing… #1740! 
*********************************************************************************

As Brother David Steindl-Rast notes, “The root of joy is gratefulness…It is not joy that makes us grateful, it is gratitude that makes us joyful.”

G.K. Chesterton once remarked that the worst moment for an atheist is when he or she feels grateful and there is no one to thank. -Brennan Manning (33)

 

23 Blessings in the Early Years

About a month ago, my table leader at MOPs asked me to share some of our family’s story with our table for “Friends & Faith” morning at MOPs.  Although I didn’t know what I’d say, I felt God clearly nudge me to agree to share. 

I wrestled with what to say.   I didn’t want to share our story in a self-pitying way.  I didn’t want sympathy.  I wanted to glorify God, but didn’t know how to do it.  A few weeks before the scheduled talk, my table leader emailed me that I needed to send an outline to our mentor Mom so she could give me feedback.  My anxiety spiked.  What if this type of talk wasn’t what they were looking for?  I panicked.  Then I prayed, sat down, and eventually wrote.  And wrote.  I felt God giving me the words to say.  He calmed my spirit and gave me an idea.  I’d use what God was teaching me right now as part of the talk.  

In the process of working through the last few years of our journey, God had asked me to memorialize the ways He has “shown up” for our family.  In the midst of such hard times, He poured blessing after blessing on us, but so often we failed to highlight those blessings and focused on the difficult circumstances.  I had just received a free Shutterfly photo book coupon and had not figured out what kind of book I wanted to create.  God brought these ideas together…create a book that looks back at the blessings God gave us the past few years. 

So today, at MOPs, I shared this Shutterfly book, that contains the 23 Blessings we received from God during the difficult, early years in our family journey.  In order to understand the blessings though, they needed a sense of the context–what had happened in the first three years of my life as a mother. 

Below are my talking points and the 23 Blessings described in my Shutterfly Book.  I didn’t share all the blessings with my table, there wasn’t time, but did share some.  I’m sharing all the blessings in this posting because there isn’t a time limit!  I know it’d be more fun to see the actual book, but that’s not possible…come to visit, it’ll be on our bookshelf!

Have you ever gone through something and asked God why?  Why did He allow something difficult to happen?  Why did He choose this path for you?  I have.  I became a mother for the first time four years ago and the first three years of motherhood were the hardest, scariest, roughest years of my life.  During those years, I had a lot of questions for God.  And like that Footprints in the Sand poem, there were many times where I wondered if I was walking alone.  But there were other times during the three years where we clearly saw God providing for us and blessing us.  And the cool thing is that now that I’ve had time step back and reflect on the past few years, I’m in complete awe of how God stepped in and took care of us over and over again.  He blessed us in so many ways.  I still may not have all the answers to my questions, but I know I can trust God with the unknowns because He was with us the whole time.

I have brought a Shutterfly book with me this morning.  I love to scrapbook and the past few years have enjoyed doing Shutterfly too, especially when I get a coupon from Target for a free book.  I really felt challenged by something Beth Moore said about writing down the ways God has “shown up” in our lives.  Cheesy, sure, but it works for us.

The Reason For This Book

…If we don’t enscribe these moments, burn them into our memories, they start to fade, and instead of remembering all of His blessings, we look back and think of the tough times or see only the monotony.  I want us as a family to delight in all the blessings God has given us, especially during the hard times.  In the hard times, His grace and His mercy shine even brighter.  These pages detail God’s faithfulness in the early years of our little family. 

When circumstances and our emotions are screaming “God has abandoned you” or “His heart is not good.  He has allowed this suffering, pain, and hard times…,” may we always remember that He is right there with us.  When we look back later, we will see His fingerprints and protection all over the dark portions of our journey.  He is there.  God is faithful!

I want to share some of those blessings with you this morning, but in order to understand the blessings, you need to hear a little about the hard times.  During my first pregnancy, I was 32 weeks pregnant when I was put on bedrest.  Our son wasn’t growing and my OB-GYN was concerned.  When I went to my weekly check-up at 35 weeks, the doctor was alarmed and told me to head over to the hospital immediately.  Evan was born via c-section about an hour later.  He weighed only 2 pounds 14 ounces.  Evan was discharged from the NICU after three weeks.  We were scared to take him home because he was so small and he cried all the time.

Blessings #1 and #2: An Answer to Prayer (Giving Evan a Strong Will to Survive) & God’s Protection in the Womb His first surgery was only a few weeks later.  Evan’s throat closed when they removed his breathing tube.  He ended up in a new NICU and when I went to see him, he looked close to death.  He was very still, ghostly white, and his breathing was rough and difficult.  Evan had three more surgeries in front of him.  He also would require physical therapy, speech therapy, and most importantly feeding therapy.

Blessings #3 & #4: NICU, Again—Which Gets Us Connected to Developmental Pathways (DP) for Free, In-Home Therapy (3), and Wise Advice from a Red Head (4) I had always planned to stay home with our kids.  I had a supportive boss, but he pulled me aside before I was put on bedrest and encouraged me to consider coming back, even if it were just for a few months.  Why?  Well, Ryan’s company had just gone through a round of layoffs and while he had been spared the first time, there was another round coming up in October, which would be a few months after my maternity leave ended.   I didn’t know why at the time, but I felt like God was using my boss, Mike, to speak to me.  Despite not wanting to, and it being a few days after Evan’s second surgery, I returned to work.

Blessings #5 – 8 God-Sent Caregivers for Evan (Angie, Shelly, Nana, & Erin D.)    October arrived.  The day before Evan’s third surgery, Ryan was laid off.  We were devastated.  Not only did it hit Ryan hard being a man and wanting to provide for his family, but we were scared realizing that we’d have to change all of Evan’s medical professionals because we’d now be covered by my insurance which was an HMO.  But now I understood why I had returned to work.

After six months of eating and growing well, Evan plateaued.  Pretty soon his medical professionals became concerned.  At age one, he was under 12 lbs, at 2 he was under 20 pounds.  At 2 1/2, he was still under twenty pounds.  All the professionals we were working with seemed at a loss of what to do.  Evan went through a lot of GI tests and was even inpatient at Children’s Hospital to evaluate what was wrong.   After that, we worked with a special clinic at Children’s Hospital but besides pushing us to add oil and DuoCal—a high calorie powder—to his food, there were few other practical suggestions.

We begged DP for a feeding therapist and they sent us a speech therapist. We think they thought it was just an oral/motor skills issue.Evan continued to get thinner and thinner.One night, when I was giving him a bath, I started to cry because he was literally a skeleton sitting in the tub.I could see each of his ribs poking through.His legs had only muscle, no fat, he had no cheeks to his face. When our schedule no longer worked with our current speech therapist, God intervened in a huge way.  When Evan started to throw up from the oil added to his food and refuse his high calorie drink, we were scared. 

Blessing #9—Pint Sized Professional (Erin our amazing speech therapist who advocated for us to get a feeding therapist and connected us to the right GI doctor)

Blessing #10—Our Miracle, Literally (Our feeding therapist, Nissa, whose name means “Miracle,” starts working with our family and helps Evan gain much needed weight)

Blessing #11—Pureeing Away (We are gifted a ninja chop food processor months before we’ll need it several times a week for feeding therapy)

Blessings #12 – 14 Feeding Therapy is Covered by DP (12), Then Covered by Insurance after Initial Denial (13), and We Receive A Grant to Cover the Rest (14) 

Feeding therapy has been incredibly hard.  It involved a lot of patience, strategy, and prep work, but it has paid off.  Evan is now on the growth charts for the first time in his life and we have hope that he will be eating like his peers in the next year or two.  His fourth surgery, the one on his spinal cord, was hopefully his last one.  I am in awe of how God has brought us through all of this. 

Blessings #15 – 17 Dr. Marvelous, Dr. Stupendous, & the Amazing Hospital

Blessing #18 Traumatized? Definitely Not (Evan may have anxiety about other things but he has no fear, no anxiety, no negative emotions connected to medical appointments, tests, procedures, and surgeries)

Blessing #19 Bundle of Joy—Makenna is born, weighing a healthy weight

Blessing #20 Goodbye DYC, Hello SAHM!—Ryan gets a permanent, full-time job in Denver the same week Makenna is born, providing enough for our family that I can stay home and just in time for feeding therapy

Blessing #21 It Takes a Village—Ways Our Family and Friends Supported Us Through These Hard Times

Blessing #22—“Walked-A-Mile-In-Your-Shoes” Friends

Blessing #23—Pressure Cooker—A Marriage Strengthened Through Adversity

As I look back on our journey, I am in awe of all the ways He took care of our little family.  Many times, things we saw as setbacks or crises ended up working for our good.  And this year, He did answer one of my questions.  During the hard years, I had wondered if I had done something during my pregnancy to cause Evan’s medical issues, even though I had followed doctor’s orders and prenatal care tips to a T.  Or wondered whether we had somehow sinned or didn’t have enough faith in the days and months where our prayers for Ryan to have a new job went unanswered.  God spoke to me clearly one night when I was reading in John.

“As he went along, he saw a man blind from birth.  His disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?”  

Neither this man nor his parents sinned,” said Jesus, “but this happened so that the works of God might be displayed in him. John 9:1-3

This verse gave me goose bumps, especially because I really felt God was speaking to me, to our situation.  It got rid of the guilt I’ve been carrying.  It answered some of my “why” questions.  And it made me excited to see what else God is going to do in and through Evan’s life.  I don’t have all the answers, but I do know that God’s heart is good and that He can be trusted, especially in the really hard times.  

There’s a saying I’ve heard several times in the past month: “We often remember what we should forget and forget what we should remember.”  How do you memorialize or remember the ways God has “shown up” for you?  What are some ideas you have about how families can do so? 

A Cracked Ninja Chop

A while back I wrote about the 1000 gifts list I was creating (check it out here: Post About 1000 Gifts). I accomplished my goal a few months back and while I felt satisfaction, I also felt a bit sad. There was something meaningful about going through my day and looking for new things to add to the list. It really changed my perspective. Instead of focusing on the things that weren’t going my way or were difficult, I was on the lookout for the little gifts and big gifts, things I enjoyed, and things that made my life easier or simply brought a smile to my face. I toyed with continuing the list, but haven’t, it just didn’t feel the same. But I will say that I am still on the lookout for the gifts in my life. And now looking for them has become a habit and I’m a better person for it.

What are some of my latest gifts?

·         Evan saying “I love you a bushel and a peck and a hug around the neck” (from a song we used to sing at bedtime)·         Makenna’s current obsession with her sleeves.  She loves to push them up and then pull them back down

·         Evan running ahead of me and saying “you can’t catch me, I’m the gingerbread man!”
·         An awesome reclaimed kitchen cabinet—our kitchen didn’t have a good spot for oversized, thin cookie sheets and cutting boards. It’s been driving me nuts for years! We finally decided to deal with it by taking out a small shelf in one of our cabinets next to our oven. It was the one shelf in our entire kitchen that was not adjustable or easily removable. It was firmly in place and had no intention of going anywhere. For someone as handy as Ryan, it wasn’t a difficult task, but we had never taken the initiative to get it done. Well, the time came and not a day goes by where I’m not thankful for my new storage situation and for a husband who can fix anything in our home.

·         Our ninja chop bowl is cracked! For those who don’t know what a ninja chop is, it’s a food processor.  The main bowl I use to puree foods is cracked.  In the past, I would have just been annoyed about this. Having to spend the time and money to replace the part that is cracked. But now I look at those cracks and I praise God for two reasons. One, the fact that we were given the ninja chop as a gift a few months BEFORE we knew we’d need it for feeding therapy.  It was a clear example of God providing for us.  And two, those cracks are evidence of how much food pureeing I’ve done in the past year and a half.  All that hard work has paid off in him weighing around 28 pounds now (before he couldn’t get past 20 lbs no matter how hard we tried). 

 

·         A Toy Story Birthday Party—last Sunday we celebrated Evan’s fourth birthday (I’ll try to post some photos on here from it soon). It was so much fun to plan this party and it was truly a symbol to me of how far our little family has come. I feel like it shows how we’re no longer surviving, but truly thriving! Last year’s birthday party was only several weeks post-surgery. While it was still a celebration, there was an element of emotional fatigue after just having gone through Evan’s fourth surgery.  This year’s party represented over a year with no major medical procedures—no surgeries, no invasive tests! Whohoo! And another blessing—getting to be creative in making some of the decorations for the party.  I had forgotten how much fun coloring can be!
·         My desktop filing box—Per a book I read years ago, I’m an “organized messy,” meaning that I’m a bit cluttered but know exactly where things are.  That means I sometimes have piles of paper lying around which drive Ryan CRAZY.  At MOPs the other day, we had a few mini-seminars.  One was an organizational coach and she showed us a desktop filing box that organizes, To-Do list things, bills, mail, recipes, articles, filing, and shredding.  LOVED IT.  And I think Ryan is happy as a clam knowing he will no longer see a pile of paper on our counter!  I also love the pattern on my specific box.  There were neon green and purple ones on clearance, and while I’m always shopping for a good deal, I couldn’t say no to this blue and cream floral pattern! 

·         Watching Makenna eat mac and cheese—she LOVES macaroni and cheese and will eat big bites of it off a fork.  When she’s feeding herself, sometimes she will pick up the noodles with her fingers and place them gingerly on the fork.  I love how intuitive and easy eating is for her! 

So continuing to identify the blessings in my life feels good. I hope that this is a habit I’ll continue to cultivate.

Okay, rabbit trail time…I’ve heard that it takes seven positive comments to balance out one negative comment in our lives (I don’t remember where I heard this and how they came to this ratio) and I’ve been thinking about it. Basically the reason people have put forth this ratio is to explain that your “love bank” needs to be full so when the negative comes along, it doesn’t have a horrible impact because it’s balanced out by already existing positive credits. I’ve also heard the “love bank”explained when it comes to relationships…you want those you care about to be getting positives from you so when there is a bump in the relationship or you need to give some constructive feedback, it’s well received.

Why am I writing about the “love bank”? Well, I’ve wondered if creating the habit of becoming aware of all the blessings all around me is like the 7-to-1 ratio. If I’m so acutely aware of all the blessings around me, will my faith do a better job of withstanding trials? If I know I am surrounded by so many tangible examples of God’s goodness, faithfulness, mercy, and grace, will the hard times not seem as all-encompassing? Just something I’ve been pondering.

Of course, we’re called to more than just having a positive balance in our love banks when it comes to our walk with God. We’re called to thank God in all circumstances and rejoice in the trials…to add the hard times to our list of 1000 gifts. I am definitely not there yet.  Being transparent here, I have not added the trials of the last few years to my list.  I know I have listed out all the ways God provided and took care of us in the midst of those hard times and thanked Him for all of these, but haven’t listed the actual hard times themselves.

I hope that, eventually, I will have matured enough in my faith that adding the hard times to my list of blessings will have become a habit…just like looking for my daily blessings is now.  A wise friend encouraged me by saying she knows I’ll get to that point someday, especially when I am able to look back.  She said it will become clearer how God used the hard times to make me who I’m supposed to be and I’ll also see how going through those times will have helped me walk with others through their own hard times.  I’m thankful for her wisdom and encouragement and hope she’s right!

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ—Ephesians 5:20

Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus—I Thessalonians 5:16-18

Bloom Where You’re Planted

“Bloom where you’re planted.  Serve where you are. Do the mundane thing. It may be mundane to you, but it’s certainly not mundane to God. Even if it’s something you don’t enjoy at the moment, rest assured, you probably will not be doing it the rest of your life. Be faithful in the little things. Be faithful in general. Stay committed.” 

 Christy Nockels, Living Proof Ministries Blog

The past few months I’ve been restless.  I know I’m where I’m supposed to be for this season in my life, with my kids, at home, but lately I’ve wanted more.  I’ve wanted to get more involved at church or some other ministry, but have been at a loss.  God has given me so much, I want to give back, I want to serve others who may not have been as blessed.  I don’t want to turn into the stereotypical suburban housewife, focused solely on keeping my house spotless (ha, that will NEVER happen) and what my kids are up to…not that those things are wrong.  But I can only post so many cute things my kids have done, or said, on Facebooik.  I feel like I’m not only called to be a devoted mom to Evan and Makenna and an encouraging (and slightly silly) wife to Ryan, but that I’m also meant to make a difference outside our four walls.

In the past, I used to be involved in youth ministry.  I have not only loved working with teenagers professionally, but also through my church.  But I don’t feel like I can make that kind of commitment (traditional youth ministry) in this season of my life, so I’ve felt a little bit lost trying to figure out how else I could help out.  I’ve been exploring my options, at our church and outside of our church, and have found a few non-traditional ways I could work with teenagers.  I had signed up to mentor a younger girl through a new ministry at church, but that opportunity fell through.  I had also reached out to two other unique teen ministries to see whether they needed someone to help out.  Neither opportunity went anywhere.  It has been frustrating.  I’m willing, why isn’t a door with teenagers opening?  

Then opportunities that haven’t necessarily lined up with my ideas for serving came up, such as working with little children at church.  I was asked, so despite my belief that it’s not an age group I’m good working with, I committed.  Another opportunity, one that I’m passionate about, having a Christmas store at the elementary school our church has “adopted,” came along.  So I’m going to do that too.  So, while the things I’m stepping into aren’t what I would have thought I’d be doing, it’s been good to get out, meet more people, and help others. 

God has also been challenging me to just BE and He will provide opportunities for me to get involved in peoples’ lives when and where they need something.  That’s hard for me.  I like to have an official assignment, a set time and place, but instead He’s reminding me that I need to be willing to be interrupted and put my own daily plans aside if need be. 

Last year when I had a health crisis, my mom, my sister-in-law, my mother-in-law, and a good friend were there for our little family, when we needed it most.  Whether it was one of them dropping everything so Ryan and I could dash off to the ER or organizing people to drop off meals for us, their willingness to be “interrupted” has been something that made a hard time in our lives much easier.  It’s something I’ll never forget and a quality I’d like to emulate. 

Maybe right now, in this season, God is asking me to be “interruptable.”  Is that a word?  You know what I mean. 

So what about you?  Are you “blooming where you’re planted”?  Are you willing to be interrupted? 

On The Inside Looking Out

The other day, Evan was in the backyard helping Dad with end of the summer cleaning.  He had a blast using the shop vac on the deck.  When Makenna woke up from her nap, she was fascinated by the activity out back.

She could not take her eyes off the men in her life!  It was adorable.  She just stood there, for fifteen or twenty minutes, watching.  Next year she can be out there in the mix, helping out!