Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Today I Want to Cry

Today I want to cry.  Today I want to melt down and bawl.  But not for the reasons you might think.
Today I want to cry out of sheer GRATEFULNESS and thanks to God.

Over the past 3 1/2 weeks I have been the busiest I've ever been in my life in that particular span of time.  And it has been gooooooood.  Seriously, SO. GOOD.  #becauseGod

The week before VBS, we worked, and decorated, and prepared, and prayed, and laughed, and we finished EARLY!  It makes me want to cry.  #becauseGod

The week of VBS was smooth, and beautiful, and fun, and tiring, and challenging, and filling, glorifying, and serving, and joyful, and our generous kids surpassed our goal for our mission project, bringing in over $5100 for approximately 500 Awana clubs to be started in Ethiopia.  500 clubs where kids can come, be safe, be loved, have fun, BE KIDS, and hear that the GOD OF THE UNIVERSE LOVES THEM AND WANTS A RELATIONSHIP WITH THEM.  Wow!  What we do at VBS at Buffalo Covenant goes so far beyond Buffalo.  It makes me want to cry.  #becauseGod

The Middle School Mission Trip was my first dive into Youth Ministry at BCC.  And OH what a blast that dive was!  I cannot say enough good things about the week that I got to spend with 3 other incredible leaders and 16 amazing middle schoolers.  The way that God grew us, challenged us, stretched us, loved us, opened our eyes, answered our prayers, held us in His hands, brought us close, gave us laughter and more laughter and more laughter was intense.  Our middle schoolers learned to seek Him, depend on Him, work together, serve selflessly (even when we don't understand WHY we are doing WHAT we are doing), WORK HARD AND PLAY HARD.  And I got home and I missed my 11, 12, & 13 year old people so much.    It makes me want to cry.  #becauseGod

And finally, the Awana T&T Book Completers Campout- two days to end my 3 filled weeks.  WHAT. A. HOOT!  We had a record number of kids on the Campout with 34, 3rd, 4th, and 5th graders.  We were generously welcomed at the Lingo Ranch as we brought in our 34 kids and multiple leaders (who devoted SO much time to serving and helping with those 2 fun-filled days!).  We ran those kids ragged!  We swam a lot.  We played "Captain's Coming" a lot.  We ate a lot.  We hiked a lot. We played 4 square a lot.  We prayed and did devotions a lot.  We worked together a lot.  We finished our two days with ONLY a pair of socks and a can of sunscreen in the lost & found.  ;-)  And our leaders were unbelievable!  It makes me want to cry.  #becauseGod

And today... Today I rest.  Today I'm still in my jammies at 1:15.  Today I ate Lucky Charms for lunch.  Today I watched tv with my kids.  Today I snuggled them.  Today I stopped and looked at them in the eye and listened intently to what they were saying to me.  Today I'm enjoying the rainy, cloudy day.  Today I'm watching Isaiah, with an old school cell phone, listen to songs like, "Ring of Fire" (singing along to ALL the words! Ha!), "Whomp!  There it is!" (But saying, "Whomp! Mayonnaise!"), the Olympic Theme song, the "Friends" theme song, and "Mr. Jones and Me" while dancing outside in the driveway.  Today I wait for Jeremiah to get home so we can just sit and talk for the evening.  Today I texted our small group to say that "Yes!  We will be at the bonfire on Friday night and I can't wait to be with all my adult people!"  And I sit in awe of how God has BLESSED me through these packed weeks.  How He has given me energy (and LOTS of coffee!) to enjoy this time, not just endure it.  How He has put people around me who are being the hands and feet of Christ to the world.  How He is revealing Himself to me in new ways.  How He has give me so much to be grateful for.  It makes me want to cry.  #becauseGod




Sunday, November 6, 2016

Dear Wednesday, I Will Choose Joy.

Dear Wednesday November 9, 2016, You will be the day after this election.  The election season when pretty much NO ONE is excited about anything.  Everyone is tired, everyone is annoyed, everyone doesn't see how any good can come of anything.
But Wednesday November 9th, you will be a day when everyone finally sighs.  Some will sigh a sigh of relief because it's all over.  Some will sigh a sigh of fear because of who gets elected.  Some will sigh a sigh of anticipation at what the next POTUS will bring.  Some may even sigh a sigh of happiness.
Today I was reminded of two things, the first of which is something I've been saying over and over in my head for weeks... even months.
1. God is still God and He will not be surprised at the outcome of this election.  He knows that many broken people are coming to the polls to vote for one of many broken people to lead this nation.  No POTUS has been perfect.  No POTUS has been righteous.  No POTUS will ever be any of these things.  As long as our nation (and all nations) want an earthly leader as opposed to the Sovereign Lord as their one and only leader, we will have broken and flawed individuals leading us.  That's just fact people. I'm coming to grips with what this will mean for the rest of my adult life, what this means for the longevity of my children's lives, and my grandchildren's lives, and their children's lives and so on.  And so this brings me to the second thing that I was reminded of...
2. On Wednesday November 9th, when regardless of who is elected, there will still be uncertainty and unrest, I am going to CHOOSE JOY!  Joy is so much more fun than anxiety.  Joy is so much more productive than worry.  Joy is so much better than anger.  Joy can be a choice.  I can choose to continue to focus my eyes on God, His Word, His peace, and His hope.  I can choose joy for so many reasons and that is what I am going to do.
When our new President and leaders take their seats, there will probably be things they do and say that I will most certainly disagree with. When this happens, I am going to CHOOSE JOY and do something good.  I will bring a meal to a person who does not have one.  Or I will give financially to a cause that is bringing broken people to a place of healing.  Or I will give bags of clothing to people who do not have enough, because my family has been blessed in receiving so much from others.  Or I will pay for someone's coffee in the line at Caribou (and not even on the "Drive Through Difference" day, folks!  Ha!).  Or I will invite a family or friend over for Sunday lunch after church.  I can say for certain that all of these things will bring me JOY and that is what I will choose.
So Wednesday November 9th, 2016, you will not have any power over me.  Joke's on you kid.  Take that. Boom.  Mike drop.  
Sincerely, The Me-and-JOY-are-gonna-be-walking-hand-in-hand-and-ain't-nobody-gonna-stop-us Girl            

Sunday, June 26, 2016

MNTC

Today at church I was immensely moved.  The Minnesota Adult and Teen Challenge Choir was there to give their testimonies, to sing and to worship with us.  It was beautiful.  I cannot express the deep recognition of redemption there was in the morning.  The word "beauty" doesn't even come close to describing the time.

As they recounted lives that started both as wonderful and horrible, but either turned horrible or continued on the path of destruction.  They talked of addiction and dependence on drugs and alcohol and my brain and heart couldn't help but to connect with them.  I'm only one generation away from  some of the same destruction.  Both of my grandfathers left a deep legacy and imprint of alcoholism.  Neither of them are talked of in high regards and I understand why.  The destruction that drugs and alcohol cause and the stronghold they have on families for generations is a weight that is oppressive.

My parents were pattern-breakers and new-path makers.  They were bold and real about the alcoholism that runs in our family.  They were insistent that I know that it is something that I could have a strong tendency for.  They were smart in how they approached the issue with me.  I was knowledgable about what drugs and alcohol could do to my life.  I was aware of how the pattern was not very far away from me in history.  I am reminded of desperation when I see other relatives struggle with addictions, depression, mental illness, and drug & alcohol destruction in their lives.

But I'm reminded so heavily of God's GREAT story of redemption and deliverance. We all struggle with our own "demons."  Sin is something that grips each and every one of us.  It was SO comforting to be reminded, today, that all of us need to daily lay down ourselves and let the Lord fill the hole in our hearts that only He can.  To be reminded that we have a God who loves us and wants to see restoration in Him.  To bring families back to Him and bind them with His cords that cannot be broken.

The enemy has come to steal, kill, and destroy.  I am eternally grateful that I have parents who were determined that the enemy would have NO stronghold over me, like he had over my grandfathers.  But I am even more grateful that I have a Lord and a Savior who from the time I was born, called and whispered my name, to come to Him and rest in the knowledge of His saving love.  I'm grateful that my own testimony does not include a stronghold of drugs and alcohol, because I'm human and could have just as easily been pulled into that world of hurt.  I'm grateful that my testimony might seem boring to others.  I'm grateful that my testimony does not hold depths that are at the bottom.  I'm grateful for those who have hit the bottom and turned to the Lord, seeking deliverance from the pits.  I'm grateful that they can share their stories with others and help those who are at bottom.  I'm grateful that Jesus Christ came to this earth to seek and save the lost.  Because at one point or another we were or are all lost and need to be found and saved.  

Friday, May 27, 2016

Feeling All the Feels

Lots of feels going on over here these weeks.  Last night Isaiah had his school program.  The Kindergarteners were OVER-THE-TOP cute.  CUTE.  With all their "Boom! Boom! Ain't it Great to be Crazy"'s and their "Que Sera Sera"'s.  Who could stand it?  The program was entitled, "Love You Forever" and followed the story from the book.  Each grade sang a song that went along with the progression of the book.  I can't even.

And then... AND THEN... their music teacher had asked parents to email her a picture of the kid with their parent(s).  And then she did a slideshow with them.  Now press play on the video below, just to listen to the words of the song, it's not the slideshow she did, and read the rest of the blog.



The slideshow of parents taking selfies with their kids or family pictures of the fam while all the kids sang the Coldplay song, "Fix You"... you know the one that goes, "Lights will guide you home..."  and all the kids had little flashlights that they did choreographed movements with. {sidenote on that song... Isaiah calls it "Lights Will Guide Your Bones" because the words go, "Lights will guide you home, and ignite your bones."  I laugh every time he mentions the song.}

All of this was especially emotional for me since Isaiah is going to join the older two at home next year and we will be homeschooling all of them.  And so when they sang the words, "Lights will guide you home,"  I was pretty much a fountain of tears.  I'm a fountain of tears just listening to the music, remembering last night, and typing this.  And ya know... when the lyrics say, "Tears streaming down your face..."  it's all just too much...  TOO MUCH PEOPLE!!!

And then if that wasn't enough, Principal Louwagie said that the middle school students had asked if they could sing "The Blessing Song" over Ms. Gorton (the long term music substitute who rescued the music program the last half of the school year).  Que the tears AGAIN!  All the kids raised their hands to her and sang "The Blessing Song" over her.  And I didn't expect it, but Aphia raised her hand and sang along too.

I am so very grateful that God has called us to homeschool our kids.  I feel extremely privileged that I get that honor.  But we also love St. Francis Xavier School.  It is going to be tough next year, not having a connection there.  Jonah started pre-school there and we have had a child in elementary school or pre-school there for the past 6 years.

Jonah is finished with 5th grade in just days from now.  All he has left is 5 math lessons, and I told him that once they are finished, he's DONE.  DONE WITH ELEMENTARY SCHOOL.  Jeremiah and I are going to take him to the sushi restaurant here in town (because he LOVES sushi!) and have a little celebration night with him.  But there will be no tears that night, because it's not one of those ceremonies where I would do that, ya know?  And I think that's ok for now.  I need this to be an exciting time... a moving-on of sorts.  I told Jeremiah that God called us to homeschool because my psyche and emotions couldn't handle all of the "graduations" that schools put on for the kids.  I'd have a perpetual headache from all the tears.  I've decided that I will never grant my children all the credits that they need to finish middle and high school.  I'll always hold one credit hostage so they CAN NEVER LEAVE ME!!!!

Thank the Lord that Aphia has no big things this year.  I would crawl into a hole and die.

Happy Friday.    

Saturday, May 7, 2016

Yes, Please Slow Down

We were done!  It was a glorious night of Awana Awards and the year of flexibility was over.  For those of you who don't know, our church was under a major construction project all year (and still is!) This caused our Awana program, for which I am the Commander of, to put on it's "flexibility hat" and go through the year, not knowing what things we might encounter during any given Sunday.

The Leadership Team had endured, showed up, championed the program, and continued to pour their hearts into the lives of well-over-a-hundred preschool and elementary kids. They were the rockstars that kept that canoe rowing.  They may not have known where their small group would meet until moments before needing to be there, but they never skipped a beat.  The kids felt secure and safe, knowing that their leaders had their backs.

I was in "Commander" mode during the Awards ceremony.  I hand my own kids their Awards, just as I hand them to all the other students.  I kind of detach myself and do my job during Awana.  It's a hard reality to look back on, but it is what it is.  This is all we know.

And now, it was all done.  Done.  Breathe big sigh of relief for a year well played.  But as I sat on the stairs in our home, I looked over at Jonah in his Awana jersey.  It hit me, he would take it off in a few minutes and put on his pajamas and head to bed.  And he wouldn't ever put that shirt back on.  He was done.  He was done with Awana.  How could this be?!  Wasn't I just sitting with him, wishing he was a little older so we could START Awana?  I wanted to help with the Awana program at church and wanted him to be older so I could volunteer, but with questions of apprehension swirling in my head like, "Would they need me?  Would they want me?  Would I be good enough to volunteer?"  I guess I really didn't need to think or worry about those things, given the current situation.  :)

Jonah started as a Cubbie at age 3.  He worked through Cubbies, through Sparks, through T&T, memorizing hundreds of Bible verses, doing Bible study and investigation, and completing tasks helping him to grow and build his faith.  And now he was finished.  I looked at him and my world suddenly gripped me.  How was he done?  How did we FLY through these 8 years?


I've been lamenting the days when my kids were little-little.  When they couldn't say their R's and said motodacka instead of motorcycle.  I always seemed to have a way of wishing my life was about 5 years in the future.  Now Timehop has a way of making me wish I was about 5 years in the past.

I found this song yesterday, by Nichole Nordeman.  She has been one of my favorite Christian artists for well over 10 years.  She wrote this song for her son who just completed 5th grade.  I watched and listened to it.  And I UGLY CRIED.  U.G.L.Y.  It's spot on.  Jonah's not done and gone.  I still have 7 years to go with him at home.  But I'm identifying with this song in that I just need things to Slooooooooooow Dowwwwwwnnnnnn.


So, this Mother's Day weekend, this is for all you mamas who just need the time to just slow down. Who just need to be able to enjoy a few moments and trap them in your memories and smile.  
Happy Mother's Day beautiful Mama's, near and far.    

Saturday, December 12, 2015

What's It All For?

Get the tree.  Make the cookies.  Buy the presents.  Take the (torturous) family pictures.  Send them out.  Go to the Christmas parties.  Wrap the presents.  Try to remember if there are other presents stashed in the house that you forgot about.  Buy the ham.  Shop for Christmas outfits.  Buy film for the camera for Christmas morning.  Charge the camera battery for Christmas morning.  Make sure your phone is charged to take pictures on Christmas morning.  Stop eating the Christmas cookies.  Try to lose a few pounds before December 24th when you will see all of your family.  Eat an entire batch of Spritz cookies.  Get to the post office to send out-of-town gifts.  Go to school concerts.  Endure said band or orchestra concert with elementary or middle school students, while your mind is mentally going over all the things you need to do (and secretly hoping your ears are not bleeding from the sound).  Try desperately to finish the things on that list.  Fall into bed each night, exhausted. 

Is this what the Christmas season is for?  Each year, we look back and vow to make next year different.  Have we ever made the next year different?  Have we ever had a Christmas season that we look back on and say, “Yep, I kept Christ as the center of Christmas and we didn’t get caught up in needless and stressful things.”? 

What if Christmas looked like this- Get the tree… or not.  Decorate it or not.  Make Christmas cookies or not.  Play soft instrumental Christmas music (Pandora has a great station).  Go to school concerts and really, really pay attention to your child.  Buy presents or not.  Buy new Christmas outfits or not.  Read an Advent scripture passage each day, or every few days, or just one time before Christmas comes.  Make hot cocoa and popcorn and snuggle in to watch a Christmas movie.  Stop what you are doing (no matter what it is, everything else can wait), take your child’s face in your hands, look into their eyes and tell them that the God of this universe loves them so much that He sent His Son to earth, for the purpose of dying to save us, because He did not want to be separated from us.  Now really, go and do this.  GO!  Even if your kids will think you are super weird, embrace your inner weirdo and do it.  And lest you think I’m just barking out orders I did this with my daughter.  She, of course, looked at me with an, “Okaaaaaaay….?” Look on her face and said, “I know, Mom.”  And guess what, she will remember it.   

This is why we have Christmas.  Christmas isn’t about cookies.  It isn’t about decorating a Christmas tree.  It isn’t about driving around looking at Christmas lights.  It isn’t about opening presents on Christmas morning.  Christmas actually isn’t even about being with family.  Christmas actually isn’t even about giving to others.  That may sound really blunt, but Christmas is about God.  It’s about the Father loving us, how we turned our backs on Him and walked away, how He had a plan to stay connected with us, how He put that plan into motion, how He sent His Perfect Son to earth (a pretty rotten place if you really look at the scope of it!), for the sole purpose of dying so that we would have the chance to be united with Him forever.  Boom.  THAT is what Christmas is all about.  That’s it.  Even Christians, CHRIST FOLLOWERS and LOVERS OF THE LORD make it about more than this, myself included. 

But Christmas is about God.  Let’s remember that this season in whatever we are doing.  Christmas is about God.  It’s not about us.  It’s not about who we see or the presents we give or the food we eat or the Christmas cards we send or the money we donate or the decorations we put up.  It’s about God. 

But I am a practical girl.  I am going to do a lot of those things.  So let’s keep GOD in the direct center of all that we do.  Let’s go look at Christmas lights and tell our kids that we can shine the light of Jesus just as those Christmas lights shine.  2 Corinthians 4:6 tells us,

For God, who said,
“Let light shine out of darkness,”
made his light shine in our hearts
to give us the light of the
knowledge of God’s glory
displayed in the face of Christ. 

Let’s make sweet Christmas cookies and tell our kids what Psalm 19:9-10 says,

The fear of the Lord is pure,
    enduring forever.
The decrees of the Lord are firm,
    and all of them are righteous.
They are more precious than gold,
    than much pure gold;
they are sweeter than honey,
    than honey from the honeycomb.

This Christmas let’s give gifts to others and tell our children that we give gifts because God gave the ULTIMATE gift.  Romans 6:23 tells us,

For the wages of sin is death,
but the gift of God is eternal life
in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Christmas is about the Father, giving us the best gift of all, wrapped up in a simple cloth for anyone who would reach out their hand and simply receive this gift of eternal life. 


And there you have it folks, that’s what it’s all for.  Easy peasy. 

Monday, July 20, 2015

35 Things in My 35th Year

As I approach my 35th year in life, the word "intentional" has been a prevalent one for Jeremiah and I.  There are lots of things in life that I'm glad that I have done, but definitely some things that I still want to do.  Inspired by my SIL Stephanie, I have decided that I want to complete 35 things in my 35th year.
1. Do a mud run (this will be completed two days before my birthday, but I'm counting it!)
2. Go on a silent retreat.
3. Learn to play a great song on the piano
4. Feed a homeless person a meal
5. Go somewhere I've never been before
6. Go ice skating on Buffalo Lake
7. Go to and eat at a Pizza Farm
8. Go geo-caching
9. Do the drive-thru difference and leave a note about Christ's love
10. Complete one month with no pop
11. Paint a canvas
12. Deliver flowers anonymously
13. Share the Gospel with someone who has not heard it
14. Indulge more heavily in my old hobby of bow shooting
15. Read a classic novel... Most likely War and Peace
16. Learn to make pie crust
17. Read Proverbs everyday for a consecutive 31 days
18. Take an impromptu trip with someone who will be equally as excited as me to do so
19.
20.
21.
22.
23.
24.
25.
26.
27.
28.
29.
30.
31.
32.
33.
34.
35.