Monday, December 23, 2013

Bowen Family Christmas Letter Blog Style

Merry Christmas!

Top Highlights of 2013:

Our 10 year Anniversary and trip to Disneyland sans kiddos!
Running my second Marathon and doing it with friends.
Finishing classes for ordination

Going to Haiti with Trades of Hope
Trip to Disneyland with Trev for our 10 year anniversary 
Running a Half-Marathon

Turning 5
Getting a Dog
Playing Soccer

Turning 2
Going to the beach
Going to to Zoo

Turning 2
Sunriver with friends
Learning to ride a trike

Christmas came early for our family last week when we welcomed Sloane into our family!
An 8 week old Black Lab, she has been such a fun addition to the family and the boys are in love!

We hope you have a fabulous Christmas!

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

The Trap

There is a trap we fall into. It happens to everyone, but it seems to be an epidemic among women.

Busy mean good. 
Lots of things going means you care. 
Doing multiple things means that you are investing in others and that it's important. 

It's not true.

My friend Lindsay has been talking and writing about this very topic and I wanted to chime in here on the blog.

Many of us have likes, passions, and gifting in several different places. We also have natural skills that we can use to do many things, and we use them in situations that allow us to adapt, but that doesn't mean we are supposed to be doing it.

We may have good organizational skills, so we find ourselves serving in an area that has us organizing things or people. We do it, and we do it well. It burns us out and doesn't fulfill.

We may have good leadership skills, so we find ourselves in charge of a project or group that we run really well and it's productive....but it doesn't fill our tanks, make us passionate or cause us to wake up that morning and be confident we know we are living the life God intended for us.

I remember feeling like I didn't think I was good at anything. I could do a lot of things fairly well, but I didn't feel I excelled in any one particular area and I dove into so many different ministries and projects trying to figure out what really clicked. 

I would dive in, thinking "well, I like this or that so I can do this!" Only to feel burnt out and bored a few weeks/months into it. I couldn't figure out what was wrong with me. Why can't I keep at it? What is causing me to lose interest after only a little while? I can do it, I'm good at it, but why am I left wanting?

God began to reveal to me that while He created me (us) with many giftings, talents and skills He really has created each of us with something that we are passionate about, something that fulfills us, fills our tank and doesn't burn us out.

I also began to learn, that while things may get dropped in our laps that are exciting and amazing opportunities, we don't have to do them.

Say what?! Someone calls you out of the blue with a fun project, incredible opportunity, fun adventure and I need to say NO!?

You say:
"It made me feel so good they called me"
"This is a great opportunity, I can't say no"
"They need me, they have already asked others"
"I am good at it, I should do it"

Yeah, not so easy, I know....

I had to figure out what really gets me going
What do I know that He has placed on my heart.
What is it that gets me excited?
What did HE create ME for?
Once I figured that out, I had to let everything else go.

Yep, even good things. I had to create margin in my life for the things I KNEW I needed to be pouring myself into, and let the other things go.

Not gonna lie, that isn't easy. Just as I was figuring out what I should be doing, a whole bunch of awesome things got dropped into my lap and I really had to think hard about it. It isn't an easy thing, to say NO. Especially when it's good things you are saying NO to. 

I think it helps set a precedent for others though, saying NO to good things so you can say YES to the awesome things. If more people did this, there would probably be less burnout and less exhausted people running around people pleasing. 

So I began to create the margin, saying no and streamlining things to allow myself the time and space to do what He created me to do.

Say no, to say yes. That's sorta the bottom line. You have to let go of the guilt, the pressure and the expectations others may have and realize that when you do this....this no to good so you can say yes to great- you are living out His purpose for you and living in His will and that is the best place you can be.

Don't fall into the trap. Find out what makes you tick and do that.

 Don't do anything else. 

Monday, November 18, 2013

And then I turned 30: Thoughts on Trust


I didn't freak out about turning 30, it's just that my mind can't wrap itself around that number.

I feel 25, 30 sounds old. Sorry, but it does. 
I don't feel old....most days. And then there are the days I look in the mirror and I see what life looks like on my face.

The being in full time ministry for 10 years
The three kids under three we had
The miscarriage
The family crises
The unknown

My face may look older, and more worn....but my heart, that feels like it's been made brand new through all of the sharpening, the pruning, the weeding. 

I feel as if life is really just getting started.
God is doing a new thing in my life, in our lives and there is stirring, a calling to do greater things for His name.
The things that mattered before, just don't.
The things that were on the sidelines become forefront. 

I've mentioned before we've been in this time of transition, of wait. 
We are heading into a time of change and growth with a new pastor coming and things on the horizon we've only dreamed of.

If I'm not careful, I become like the Israelite's who shortly after receiving word from God and answers to their cries, went right back out and complained again.
It's so easy to be short sighted and to forget the 
one thing that doesn't ever change.

His faithfulness. He knows it all and has it in His hands, why do we fret?

One moment we have some answers and we praise Him and say thank you.
The next moment we feel uneasy again because there is an unknown...and we start to doubt.
Things shape up differently than we expected and we start grappling again.

Did we not hear correctly? Did we miss something along the way?

We doubt that He really does know what He is doing.
We may not say that, but we do with our worry, or desire to get our hands on things that are not for us to control.

There is freedom in letting go. 
Freedom in acknowledging that we don't need to know.
It sounds so opposite- because when we worry it's almost like we feel we can control things.
We plan and we schedule and we manipulate and process and analyze.

For what? 

Trusting in Christ to do what He has already said He would do, which is be faithful, 
that isn't a one and done thing. 
It's a daily sacrifice. 
I have to daily lay down my desires to know what is ahead, to know the plan, to trust in His perfect course for our lives.

I am beyond excited for what lies ahead.
Beyond freaked out as well.

I feel that's an okay combo to have. 

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Family Pictures 2013

I swapped pics with another photographer this past weekend. We used each others camera, and I edited mine and she will edit hers. Perfecto. And free. :)

I love this location, the colors, my guys. 




No fakin this...this is the real deal people. Love. 

He's kinda my favorite 

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Meeting Ann

So, we were in Portland for marathon weekend, and I was happy to be the cheering person 
( I can't bring myself to say cheerleader, sorry cheer friends I still love you)

I did however, have a pretty awesome moment myself.

We were out to dinner in Portland at a fabulous restaurant when I spotted across the room 
Ann Voskamp.
You should know who she is but if you don't, she's the author of One Thousand Gifts and the blog
A Holy Experience. Her book was the first I read that completely changed my outlook on life and really started the transformation personally and spiritually over the next two years. I've written about it here and here
Her blogs have brought me to tears on numerous occasions. Even if you haven't read her book, her blog is worth following. 

Anyhoo, I spotted her and after some nudging I headed out with Amy to meet her.

We shook hands, chatted about why we were in Portland (she was there for Women of Faith that day) and I shared with her how much her words had meant to me. We took at picture and I said, "You were in Haiti when I was there, I prayed I'd run into you!"
Amy, Ann and I

She couldn't believe it, and when I told her I was there with Trades of Hope and meeting with our artisans at The Apparent Project, she wanted to know more.

I went inside for a card, came back out with my information and my favorite AP Bracelet from Haiti that I had worn.
She took them both and asked, "Do you want to go back to Haiti?"

"Yes" I said, "I've been trying to figure out how to get back ever since I left....there's something about that place."

She got teary, grabbed my hand and said, "You and me both sister...does this card have your info on it? I'd like to stay in touch...because Haiti...."

Another hug and well wishes and that was it.

I'd be lying if I said I wasn't shaky for the whole next hour. 

I can name a handful of people I would have wanted to meet in my life, to tell them thank you for their words and the impact they had without even knowing it. She was one of them.

Had I met her at a conference or book signing, it would not have been like that. Such a blessing.
My friend Christie who went to Haiti with me texted later and said, "See, God answered your prayer, just on a different time table"

And I thought...isn't that just like Him?
It felt like a big bear hug. 

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Portland Marathon Weekend!

Three years ago my husband ran his first marathon. 
It was in Portland, Oregon and it was soaking wet. 
A downpour to rival all downpours the entire time.

It never rains on marathon weekend. 
Except that year, and his first year ever.

He and our friend Shawn trained and ran together.
Miserable and soaking wet and did awesome.

This past weekend, they did it again along with Shawn's wife Amy, one of my close friends.

It was sunny and perfect and they all rocked it.

Last time I was 19 weeks pregnant with the twins and we brought Jack along (stupid stupid stupid)
This time we all left our kids in the hands of our families and reveled in the weekend together!

Amy ran all of my long runs with me, which nicely enough were about half the distance of her long runs so I would join her on the second half and we'd both get them in!
She ran my half with me two weeks ago as her training run.

She totally rocked the marathon. I'm so proud of her! She trained hard and followed the plan!

The guys both had personal bests, with Trevor knocking 50 minutes off his time! 

I loved coming along for the ride, cheering them on along with the hundreds of other runners and snapping pics!

Good food, good friends, good times.
So proud of them.

And nope...doesn't make me want to run a marathon :)

PS: That's 26.2 miles. 

I didn't run the marathon, but I had a pretty awesome moment'll have to read that tomorrow :)


The finishers!! Trev, Amy, Shawn

Monday, September 23, 2013

I ran a Half-Marathon!

Yesterday I did something I never in a million years thought I would or could. I ran a half-marathon.

Over the past few years I have started and stopped running for a multitude of reasons, including having three kids in under three years. I ran a 10 mile run in April of 2012 but it wasn't great, and I didn't feel great about it.

I ran through a lot of pain last fall which landed me with a stress fracture and a significant amount of time off of running. That was followed by ankle surgery for a bone fragment that found it's way into my ankle joints, ouch. I knew I needed a goal once I was cleared to run again so I set my sights on the Rogue Run Half-Marathon.

I found two training plans that would literally take me from the moment I was cleared to the day of the half, not allowing any wiggle room. The first was the Couch-to-5k program which got me on my feet and up to 3.1 miles. The next would take me from there to the half.

I can't recommend the Couch-to-5k highly enough. This is for people who have never run in their lives, who think they cannot. Guess what, you can! It's amazing over the course of 8 weeks what you will be able to accomplish. Most of running is mental, if you think you can't, you won't.

I was cruising along, short runs during the week and long runs on the weekend. My friend is training for a full-marathon (yeah she crazy) so we did a lot of our long runs together, me joining her for the second half of her longest run so we could both get our long miles in!

Three weeks out from the run, my shins and calves cried out in pain and I was sidelined with shin splints. This is the same pain I felt last fall and pushed through only to find myself with a stress fracture, so I stopped running. I went and had my shoes looked at and they were a great shoe, but when I started adding lots of mileage, the support wasn't there for my high-arched neutral foot.

So, I ordered new shoes and didn't run. For two full weeks. I iced, stretched and rested. I know the difference between muscle fatigue and standard running pain, but this was indeed different and I'm so glad I listened to my body.

The night before the race I was nervous. I knew that I would know within a few steps if I was going to be able to run the race or if I would be forced to walk it. I had my brand new shoes on that I had never run in before and Trevor had taped me up with KT Pro tape the night before.

Just a quarter mile in, I knew I was golden. I had ZERO shin and calf pain the entire time!! I was a bit fatigued from not running in two weeks, but the first 6 miles felt great. Mile 7 was my first mentral wall I had to push past. After I hit 10 miles I realized this was the farthest I had ever run in my life!
Just before we took off!

Mile 10-11 were the hardest, take a few extra short walk breaks and then at mile 12 my knee started to hurt which it never had before (ended up being IT band pain from losing my form after being fatigued)
Mile 7-8 when the rain started

Mile 12 was almost done, and I so wanted to stop and walk. My friend helped me keep pushing and I kept asking, "Where is the finish??" She kept me looking ahead and I could finally see the corner to round and the finish line!

I rounded the corner, and realized that I was almost done. I saw my Mom, Dad, Sister, Husband and my three boys waiting for me right by the finish line. I gave the smallest bit of extra I had and crossed the line!
Crossing the finish!

I did it!!! After grabbing a water, I found my family and their hugs and when I saw Trev I started to tear up. He thought I was putting on a happy face but that I was in serious pain...I was hurting, but my tears were the emotional release of being able to run and finish the race!

I honestly could not have done it without my friend Amy. She gently encouraged me and pushed me, and I couldn't have asked for a better running partner. She's far faster than I am, but she stayed with my pace the whole time. The best part is, she's like this in every day life as well. A constant encouragement and someone who pushes me to be better in every area.

My sweet husband spoiled me the rest of the day as my body was just so dead tired and sore.

I did it. I ran a half-marathon. Before I turned 30, post surgery and stress fractures.

And I dare say, it won't be my last!

A cool side note: my 10 mile time was almost a full two minutes faster than the 10 mile I did in 2012!

It was hard. It was not easy. I couldn't have gone a step further. My body hurts today. But what a great feeling, to have accomplished what I set out to do!


Friday, September 13, 2013

Goodbye Summer

My poor neglected blog.

I don't feel so bad about it....we've been busy doing life.

I've often thought about getting paid to blog, or doing it as a side job. I realized that I wouldn't like it after awhile. The pressure to have to produce something, instead of it organically coming together.

The pressure of a weekly link-up and time spent in that.

I decided to write when I wanted and when it was inspired and post pictures when I could and let it be. And I like that.

School has started, we are settling into a new routine which I love and as fall (my favorite ever) fast approaches I am excited for what it holds. We are still without a lead pastor, still wondering what is next for our little family....but still moving forward in faith. Even if it is unseen by others.

And now, a photo dump for ya'll.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Learning in the Wait

I'm not a patient person by nature. When I have an idea, I want to do it right then. When I have birthday money in hand, I want to spend it right then. When something is laid on my heart, I want it to come to fruition right then.

This past year has been a long, and slow process in learning to wait. 
And not just learning to wait, but learning in the wait.

A little over a year ago I knew that God had not called our little family to live out the standard "American Dream". 
Before that, I was scared that we were in ministry as a profession. I was scared that it might mean we never retired, never owned a home, moved a lot and never had anything extra to save. I wanted the security of those things and felt it only natural to have.
(side note: it's okay if the above is your life- no intention of making anyone feel like that is wrong.)

And then God clearly said, "I have more in store for you...I'm calling you out"

And from that moment I didn't care if we ever owned a home, if we had money for retirement, if we ever retired, or if we put money aside for anything. I knew that we were called to be in full time ministry for the rest of our lives.

Those words would have scared me several years ago, but now I have complete peace.
My security doesn't rest in things, or money. It rests in Him.

That doesn't mean we aren't smart and wise in our decisions, setting aside money for emergencies and such....but it does mean that for us, there is a whole lot more important things to focus on......

Like what the heck God was going to do with us.

Last year we said we'd do anything, go anywhere and be wasted for Him.
Once I spoke those words, I was ready. Let's jump! Bring it on! Adventure awaits! The old worrisome nature was gone and I was ready to live reckless for Him!

But instead of leaving the following week for Uganda like I wanted to, or some big adventure being dropped in our laps... we've been on a waiting journey.

It hasn't been easy, I mean...I was ready to jump. And remember, I'm impatient.

I am slowly learning, that we are in a huge transition time. There is a reason for this waiting and instead of fighting it, and wishing it were over and wanting things to hurry up and happen, I am surrendering to the process and what God is wanting to teach us.

Not that nothing has happened.  A ton of little things have happened, mostly in our hearts and behind the scenes. It's all playing a part of whatever comes next......

An incredible friend of our family (since I was a wee tot) has given Trevor and I some wonderful counsel and recommended a book to us. It has been exactly what we needed, especially for  me the impatient one.

The Land Between  "In The Land Between, author Jeff Manion uses the biblical story of the Israelite's journey through Sinai desert as a metaphor for being in undesired, transitional space.....The Land Between explores the way in which their reactions can provide insight and guidance on how to respond to God during our own seasons of difficult transition. The book provides fresh biblical insight for people traveling through undesired transitions who are looking for hope, guidance, and encouragement. 
While it is possible to move through transitions and learn little, they provide our greatest opportunity for spiritual growth. God desires to meet us in our chaos and emotional upheaval, and he intends for us to encounter his goodness and provision during these upsetting seasons." 
(from Amazon website in description of book)

Instead of wanting to hurry up and get to the next thing, allowing myself to see what God is teaching me during this time will have great impact on what lies ahead.

I can either trust Him with this time, and with our lives and recognize there is a reason in this waiting time and learn and grow in Him. Or I can fight it and be impatient and ready for the next step.

I choose the former. I don't want this time to be wasted. I know the facts, I know God has called us out for something for His purpose, that hasn't changed. There will be a change coming, although only He knows what it is.

We still want to adopt, but instead of doing so within a few months of God laying that on our hearts...we could be years out from that.
I still want to have a teen Mom house, but instead of that being up and running in the next year or two it could be could be in another country, it could look completely different.

Our dreams and desires have not changed...but I am learning that HE is never late. He is always on time.

Choosing to accept this time as a beautiful time of growth has lifted such a weight from my heart. I don't have to worry or feel like we are missing out on something....because I know He has orchestrated this whole thing...our lives. He has great things ahead for us, and what we learn now will be of great help in the times ahead.

Maybe you are in an "in between time"...a time of great transition and you feel a little lost, a little impatient at the process. I encourage you to see this time for what it could be, and maybe even check out the book I mentioned as something to read in addition to your Bible. 

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Seeing Green

If you know Jack, you know green is his favorite color.

His eyes are green because God knew it was his favorite color, or so says Jack.

Kids from his class and tell their parents when they see green
"Hey, Mom...did you know green is Jack's favorite color?"

His teachers are well trained.
Shoot, he has everyone trained.

So, naturally we had a green party.
We went low key this year, just cake and family and a few close friends Jack asked for.
Going anti-Pinterest party over here.
(except the awesome cake my Mom made and Jack decorated)

We asked for no toys, and it was lovely. 

A lovely day celebrating this little man.

Love those paper straws from Crate and Barrel 

Always a comedian

Camden enjoyed a day of fun

With Auntie and Uncle

Auntie and Christian

Daddy and Jack 

Jack decorated the cake made by my Mom

Nephew Miles with Trevor

Cousin Zoi and Jack are BFF's

The Arnold Clan

Curt aka Grandpa in Training 

Yay for books!

Aunt Jami and Cousin Miles

With Papa and Ina (Trev's parents)

New bike from Nama and Capa!

Thanks Capa!

Sigh. He's 5

Silly boy

The aftermath

Josiah says Cheese!

Adorable Abby