Friday, December 19, 2014

5 years ago today we said a very broken and very real goodbye.
We had just barely said hello.

You had already made me so tired, the forming of your little body was taking up so much of my energy.
The tiniest of bumps was beginning to show having only give birth to Jack 15 months prior.

It sort of didn't feel real, for some reason I was hesitant this time to believe everything was okay.

When we saw the flicker of your heartbeat on the screen at 7 weeks it gave me a sigh of relief.

I began to settle in and dream, another summer baby for our family. Between your brother and cousins, this would be number 4. A summer birthday 4 years in a row.

And then I got very sick. I'm still not sure what it was, a kidney infection? The flu? Whatever it was wreaked havoc on me and I knew something wasn't right in addition to this illness.

The doctors said it was normal...when I began to think I was losing you. And it often is. But I didn't feel right.

I ended up in the ER because whatever was going on in my body wouldn't relent.
I took the opportunity to ask for an ultrasound because I just needed to see you.

I was 10 weeks. We should have seen your little arm and leg buds, bouncing around in my womb.

We didn't. The tech asked me if I was sure I was 10 weeks because you measured at around 7.

I was sure. We had already seen your little life beating before us.

You must have left soon after.

The days and weeks that followed were a blurry nightmare of emotions and physical pain.
You leaving my body, both at home and at the doctor.
The realization that my body had failed you, or so I felt.
Pure anger. Guilt. Emptiness.

I didn't want to talk about it with anyone for awhile. And people didn't bring it up except for to ask me how I was. I avoided most settings where this would happen. I would start to sweat if I thought it was coming.

And then as I moved through my grief of losing you I wanted to remember it all, I would daily walk myself through the timeline of events, sobbing and feeling each moment like a hot poker. But I didn't want to forget, and I felt like if I could still feel it all it meant you mattered and you were real and it happened.

And then I was ready to talk about it. But no one brought it up. I understand of course, but I was upset. Talk to me, ask me, remember with me that I had a baby and that baby was alive and that baby died and that baby is in heaven. Acknowledge this please.

You Daddy and I always felt like you were a girl. It felt selfish to think that way...is it because we had Jack and wanted a little sister for him that we felt that way, or was it because we truly did feel you were a girl? We never shook that feeling, and when Jack was older we told him about you.

He told me that you are in heaven and that you are a girl and he even described what you look like.

That settled it, but we didn't name you until last week. I don't think we felt we needed to. And then grief snuck up like a tsunami reminding me that it doesn't play by anyone's rules and we decided it was time. It was time to name you what we would have if we had held you in our arms for the first time in July of 2010.
You would have been called Emma. You would have been dressed in pink and worn a bow and doted on by your Daddy and by your brother and your whole family.

Emma Elizabeth

Emma means "whole or complete"
What a beautiful picture for us...because in Christ you are made whole and your little body isn't broken, you are complete and you are in heaven with Him- there is no doubt in that.

Your middle name Elizabeth means "God's promise"
God has promised me a life in Him that is eternal, and with that will come the day when I do see your face. He has promised goodness to me and fullness of life.



___________________________________________________________________________________
Some additional notes:


I realize that not everyone will choose to name their unborn baby, we didn't for a long time. I am certainly not suggesting that you must to find closure, but I have experienced a new level of healing since I did so.

Also, I know not all share my belief that life begins at conception and that our baby is more than just a speck of cells, or a fetus. I understand that, but for us we choose to believe God's word and take it for what it is to us, which is truth.

God does not allow anything we walk through to be wasted, and since this loss I have been able to walk with many friends who have also lost a baby. It has become a place where I can speak into where I otherwise wouldn't have been able to. Miscarriage is unlike grief of any other kind because you are most often grieving for a child you never held in your arms. I hope and pray that if you are reading this and you have experienced this loss you have someone to share your heart with. If you don't, please email me. I would love to offer a listening ear, prayers on your behalf and of course anything else you needed.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Everyday Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is really my favorite. It probably has a lot to do with the fact that November is the best month of the year. You can't argue with the changing colors, crisp sunny days and hello comfy cute clothes.
Also, it's my Birthday month, and several friends as well. And then there is Thanksgiving itself.





Growing up we spent each holiday at my Grandpa and Grandma's house. It was filled to the brim with people, food and a crackling fire. Thanksgiving was especially fun because my Grandpa and I had just celebrated our birthdays and it felt as if the celebration just lingered until we all met up on turkey day.

After we had eaten our fill we would all load up in cars and head to the freeway. In the back we had ornaments, garlands and tinsel. We'd pick out a tree near the side of the road, pile out of the cars and begin decorating.

Yes, we decorated a tree on the side of the freeway on Thanksgiving. It was random and it was crazy and it was fun. I have memories of muddy boots some years, some years we didn't all pile out..maybe there was a baby that needed to stay in the car or maybe it was too steep for some. We always got a honk or two out of a trucker who was on the road instead of at home for the day.

Thanksgiving will always be my favorite.

Now I am learning to live Thanksgiving all year round, learning to have gratitude in all things and teaching our boys to live with thanks and appreciation for each day.

I'm learning to be thankful because of who God is and not because of how I feel, my feelings ebb and flow but He is constant. Never changing, never lacking.

I am been given a beautiful family. I sometimes am amazed at my life. Just 12 years ago I was graduating High School and here I am, in the blink of an eye married to the most selfless, humble God-fearing man I know. He always, always, always puts me and the boys first. That's not an easy task, especially when you are in ministry as a full time job. I never wonder where we stand and I never feel like he's married to the church...he has done so well balancing that and I am beyond grateful. I never tire of him and the favorite parts of my day are with him. I know that is not always the case and I am just now realizing what a treasure our marriage is, more than I ever have before.

And my boys. Oh my boys. Yes, they are precious and beautiful but oh their hearts. They are all so different and so unique and when I catch glimpses of what they will be in the future my heart skips a beat. They love deep and they feel deep just like Trevor and I do.

My friends. I don't even know where to begin. How I am blessed with friends that love our family the way they do. You are answers to prayers and you have become family. The ones we see near daily, and the ones we only see on social media more often than not. You have our hearts.

And my blood...my parents, sister and her husband, Grandmother, Uncles and Aunts and Cousins... you give and love from near and from far. You pray for us, you support us in all things and you give of yourself in so many ways. You are the heartbeat of our family. The messy crazy bits that make us who we are and the solid firm foundation that we hold fast to.

I hope you all know how deeply you are loved, how thankful I am for you and how you bless us.

Thank you. Thank you for being a part of my everyday Thanksgiving.



Tuesday, November 25, 2014

When Grief Surprises You

I've been loving the Timehop app. It allows me to remember moments and pictures that I had otherwise forgotten. Pictures of the boys from 2 years ago, Twitter statuses from last year, Facebook posts from 4 years ago. It's been a blast.

Until my Birthday.... Timehop reminded me of my Birthday 5 years prior where I spent it with several different friends each one a surprise orchestrated by my always amazing husband.

Don't get me wrong, that was amazing, but I had a secret that day. I was pregnant. We decided to wait until Thanksgiving to share the news, but all day long I knew and I held it in. The memories came flooding back.

5 years. 5 years ago we lost our baby at Christmas. The day in between two Christmas programs.

It felt like I was hit with a tidal wave, knocking me down with emotions I didn't see coming. I lost it.

I was so confused. Why am I shedding tears now? I haven't shed tears for several years.

The complete sorrow and ache I felt when we lost the baby moved through all the stages of grief and we walked them together, Trevor and I. Due dates came and we remembered and it was sad, but it wasn't the same....just as it is with all loss. The date of the loss would come, and because it was Christmas it was always a little bit more heavy...but we remembered and saw what God had done since.

This laid heavy on me all day, until I finally broke down to Trevor that night. I was so confused and it felt so weird to all of the sudden be so sad again.

Looking at Camden and Christian, nearing 4 years old and full of life. This beautiful crazy life of mine- why am I sad again?

It's not as if I've forgotten that little one. I still remember seeing the heartbeat, That reassurance that is supposed to mean all will be okay.


I wrote to two of my friends who had also miscarried and who I knew wouldn't think it strange to feel the way I was feeling. I wanted to process with them, where I felt safe.

One of them had recently had similar feelings about her babies and the guilt that comes with not thinking of them for awhile and why do we feel guilty...
The other friend re-shared a blog post she had written after losing one of her babies, and it just felt good to know that....

Grief doesn't play by any rules, it comes and goes and sometimes hibernates for a long time before it needs to expose itself once again. I am sure this is the same for many types of grief. A wave of emotion can knock you down at any time throughout the years.


Trevor and I all along felt strongly that this little one was a girl. Even Jack has stated that without prompting a long time ago.

All this time and we hadn't named her. I don't know why, we just never did. My friend Adriel suggested maybe that would help now and so we talked it over and we did. We named her. It made such a difference.

Jack asked about that baby yesterday. He reminded me again he thinks it was a girl, so I told him her name. Then he said "You were sad and you cried when you lost her, but then God gave you Camden and Christian and you were full of joy"

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Moments I Choose to Click. Save. Post

Drinking coffee...catching up on blogs...enjoying the crisp air. 

Oh.... I'm also the at bottom of a wrestling match, trying to avoid coffee spilling on my ipad,

fending off the puppy and looking at the stains on the carpet. 

There are screams and some flying fists.


Both statements true. Both good. 
It's the perspective that's different. 

It's okay to not Instagram the rough parts. It's okay to not post your crappy day.

Someday our kids will thumb through these online archives

 and I'd rather they see that I chose to capture and savor the good moments.

They will see that despite the rough days I chose to find a different perspective.

Nobody is silly enough to think there aren't bad days in this life. In parenting or in general.

No, I'm not hiding my crazy life from the internets...

you're welcome to come over any time to witness it in person. 

So no, not every day is picture perfect but if you're breathing you know that's true.

 So I choose to capture and post the very best parts.


Moms with grown children will tell us 'you will miss those days' when we talk of sleepless nights.

Do you really think they miss the actual feeling of not sleeping, the utter stupid exhaustion

 that comes in those early days?
No. They miss the precious memories that come as a part those days. The soft snuggles in 

the quiet dark. The first grins in the wee hours, the slobbery milk coma face.

They have a different perspective. They don't pretend it wasn't hard....

but I truly believe we filter out that which matters most.

The tough days fade into the background as we move forward in life.
When my boys are grown and they have kids of their own

and they talk of the tough and 

overwhelming parts of raising children,

 they will ask about when they were little

when life was kind of a beautiful circus, 

and I will nod in agreement and then I will tell them how

 on some days I cried at the task before me

 but I chose to capture both in picture and in my

 heart the moments that truly reminded me of what a beautiful life I have. 

Truly the best job ever. 

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

So your heart wants to be in a grass hut, but you're stuck in suburbia

I've mentioned before that I get itchy a lot. I like change. I move my furniture around and by the holes in my walls you can gather that I move the pictures around a lot too. After 11 years of marriage Trevor is no longer surprised to come home to a completely new arrangement in things, and he often has to look around for lids and straws because they inevitably are in a new location.

I have lots of ideas and plans and my mind never rests. I am also what is called an "Activator" or as my friend Jenna calls it, a Fire Starter. My question isn't "how?" or "why?" it's "when do we start?".  I like to jump. This is super great in so many areas, and for the areas where it's not so great I'm thankful for my non-fire starter husband who balances me well.


When God began shaking up my heart a few years ago and opening my eyes to things I really hadn't seen before, I began researching things like "South Sudan Missionaries with Kids Under 3" and was emailing and making phone calls before I knew it.

I was ready. The roof was taken off and I was ready to fly. I wanted to get my hands dirty, be used in a more powerful way and not waste anymore time doing the things that were driving me crazy. In all honesty it was church that was driving me nuts. I was tired of people complaining about silly things that don't matter, serving the served and the falseness that seemed to come with Sunday morning "fellowship time". I was burnt out over the lack of authenticity and I declared it a lost cause.

Well, we didn't pack up and leave right away. We did a lot of praying (mostly Trevor did because I was just done. My prayers were more like "please open a door so we can leave) Even though physically we hadn't moved, my heart had moved on. I was jaded and annoyed and done.

I am ever so thankful that my wise husband didn't say "No" but kept praying. He held everything loosely in his hands, but continued to seek God's will for our life. We talked through a lot, weighed a lot of options and continued to just take next steps.

God gave me a little time to pout about things, and my friends listened to my heart and my complaining without telling me to get over myself. I'm really thankful for that too.

After God had had enough of my self-righteous pity party (I have no problem admitting that)  He pretty much said

"Instead of whining about not getting to go do the big awesome things you want to do RIGHT NOW....you get off your butt and go do something for crying out loud!" (my translation)

Wait. So, just because I can't live in Africa in a grass hut and raise my boys naked in the dirt right now, it doesn't mean I can't take what I have and do something meaningful here???

I will be honest with you and say that it didn't just click for me right away. I begrudgingly began in that direction, all the while hoping that soon we'd get to head off and do something even more awesome. It didn't have to be Africa, but I wanted it to be big. We both have some big ideas, and I am just the one that says let's do it before thinking things through all the way. It has to be now or I'm over it.

I had a foot in what God was doing here and now, and a foot in what I hoped would come.

It took awhile before I saw things with new eyes.

Yes, there are people who get to jump up, pack their things and go...with littles in tow. As much as I wanted that to be us, to be the people who said a crazy yes and went and did something big....God was asking us to be faithful in the little things for now.

I can't tell you how many times I sat around a table with our tribe and shared my heart, wanting more, big ideas, dreams etc. I felt like the little stuff was insignificant and someone else could surely do the little things.

I stepped into a role that I knew God had called me to, and in many ways is stretching me. Our church went through a huge transition, and that's big....but when your spouse is on staff there it's magnified. We are still transitioning.

We are being faithful in the small things. The things God has for us right now, we are doing it. We are mentoring, training, investing in people, growing leaders, encouraging and all the while we are still dreaming about what God has down the road.

One of my friends, he says a lot of good stuff, has pointed out so many times that sure we could go and do these other great big things elsewhere but that what we are learning right now, in this time is going to be huge and benefit whatever is next. This isn't a wasted time. It may feel like treading water at sometimes, but if we are willing to learn while we wait we will be so much better off.



I say all of this to say, dream.

 Ask God to show you what is really deep down inside. If money, fear, location or education weren't an obstacle, what would you want to do with your life?
 And then pray. Can you do it? If not why? Then work on how to eliminate those whys.
If it takes awhile to do that...

Don't just sit on your butt and wait. Do something. I don't care what it is, but do something. 

Jump into a role, use your gifts, fill a spot, seek something out. Don't twiddle your thumbs. Don't waste the opportunity to learn now.

You can be awesome now, even if what you really want is a little ways away. Maybe you come to find out that the little things really are big things and you are living the awesome without even realizing it.

Don't believe that what you are doing now doesn't have a huge impact somewhere down the road.


Dream. Do. Don't wait.




Sunday, September 7, 2014

Jack: A Letter Before You Start School

Jack-

Tomorrow you start Kindergarten. It's not a big deal, but it is a big deal all in the same breath. Someday you'll know what I mean.

As you start school, I just wanted to remind you how much I love you. I love so many things about you I just don't know where to begin.

Daddy and I picked a verse for you. One that we pray over you and trust will help shape your life and your heart.

"Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be courageous; be strong. Do everything in love"
1 Corinthians 16:13-14

You see, Daddy and I love you so much, but there is someone who loves you even more than us. He gave you to us. He trusted us enough to look after, care for and guide you. To teach you how to be like Him. We mess up a lot, sometimes we get things wrong....and we are so thankful for grace.

God's grace says "you messed up, really really big but I love you anyway and you don't have to be perfect for me to love you"

Remember how we talked about compassion, about how when you feel a little sad inside when you see someone hurting, or being hurt? Remember that we want you to act on it! Don't let that little feeling inside just sit there.

Be a friend to the kids who don't have friends. Say hi to the quiet kids. Sometimes that quiet kid is you, so you will have to be brave to say hi to others.

Don't be afraid to be you sweet boy. You are silly, you are funny and you love to help. Look for ways to be a helper to everyone, to flash that dimple at people who may be having a tough day.

Mommy and Daddy don't care how many awards you get, how many times you are noticed for doing good or how many times you get picked for things.

We just want you to love God and love people. We want you to do it not for a sticker or a star, but because it's the right thing to do. Be brave and courageous, even when it's a little scary.

When Mommy was little there was a boy in her class named Virgil. Virgil didn't really say much and his clothes were a little stinky and he always looked like he may have cried a lot the night before.
Nobody really wanted to sit by him. I don't know why, but maybe kids were afraid because he was different.

But Mommy said hi. I never squirmed when I was seated next to him, and I never made fun of him. I will always remember the card he gave me, I don't remember exactly what it was for but I do remember he thanked me for just being nice.

See, it doesn't take a lot to make someone feel loved and special.

You might meet a Virgil this year, or the next and we want you to be the one who makes him smile. Because here is the thing. Different is okay and different isn't scary.
 We're all people and God wants us to love no matter what.


So as you head off tomorrow for this big new world of school and you get to meet so many new people and learn from an amazing teacher, know that you are loved and that we are proud of you.

Go love people.

Mommy and Daddy

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Kindergarten

Here we are. Kindergarten. I remember Kindergarten quite vividly. I remember making solid friends. Playing guitar on a wooden block, accidentally doing the splits on the linoleum floor, making hand-print Christmas ornaments and being chosen to help the teacher cart them to the kiln.

I remember snack time. And my lovely beautiful teacher Ms. Olsen and her bouncing blonde hair. 

I honestly can't believe Jack is here now. It sounds so silly to say time flies, but it really does. I am excited for him. 


When we felt God moving us in a different direction for schooling this year, it came as a shock to me and honestly it was hard. I didn't want to do it, but then God opened so many doors (frankly some that shouldn't have opened) and we suddenly felt at such peace with this change it was undeniable. We always said, a year at a time and a kid at a time as far as schooling goes and yet we don't want to bounce them around every year, so I think this is what things will look like from here on out, at least until God moves us in another direction, if He does. We are thrilled.

I'm super happy about it.

One of the reasons I'm happy about it is this:


Sometimes God likes to do fun things just because He loves us. 






That's one of my best friends. Jack has her for his teacher this year. Yeah. That's cool


Tuesday, August 26, 2014

restless to go

i am restless. ready to travel again. ready to take my canon and capture new colors. new faces. new things.

i never saw myself as someone who wanted to travel just to experience life.

i wished i had always felt this way. i wonder how many more trips i would have taken thus far.


we plan on travelling with our boys a lot. across the country. across the world. we don't want them to think their world is what is immediately around them. we love our country, but it is not all there is.

there is a whole big wide world out there and we want our boys to experience it. to know they are a part of a big planet with different colors and faces and tastes.


some would say travel is a luxury. i would say it's important. i would suggest that plucking you and your family out of it's comfort zone is a must and i would say you should make it a priority.

save. scrape. pinch. tighten. sacrifice elsewhere and make it happen.

tsh talks a lot about this in her book, Notes From a Blue Bike which I just finished. i so appreciated her perspective on it all, including the money parts.

there was much more to the book than traveling with your kids- so go pick it up if your heart longs for living simpler.


i have a passport. it's been stamped once. i am ready for another.

Come along September...I am ready for you

September is just peeking it's little head around the corner. I am ready for it. I am ready for the routine that school brings, ready for the fall to come gently and then stay a real long while.

I am not a fan of the summer heat. I love the sun and outdoor play but when weeks upon weeks amount to hardly anything under 90 degrees and top out around 110....I melt.

I love football season, and fall food and cozy clothes and warm drinks. So I welcome September and with open arms knowing it ushers in this new season that I love.


Jack is going to a new school this year. Kindergarten. I can't even believe it. I remember so much of Kindergarten...it's crazy to think he will have vivid memories of this time as well.


We leave for Minnesota next month. Trevor's Grandparents and Aunts live there. They haven't seen Jack sine he was 3 months old and they have never met the twins. We are excited beyond belief. Saving, planning, trusting that this would happen....and here it is.

We had thought to drive but decided this round to fly. It ended up being cheaper and I wanted to love all my children when we got there. The plan is to do a US Road Trip Tour in 2 years...when they are a little less 3 and 6 and a lot more 5 and 8. Although Jack is a superb traveler. We started him on road trips super young and it's payed off.

And now to wrap up this randomness. Some pictures from some of our summer adventures










Wednesday, August 20, 2014

The Art of Community: Open Door Policy

I wrote about the "village" a few weeks back. I wrote about how it looks a little different than it did even 50 years ago, and I shared a little about what my village looks like. I even said it's up to us to make sure we maintain a "village" and we can't wait for the village to come to us.

I've never been one for drop in guests. Mostly because I lack discipline and you may knock on my door at 1:00pm to an un-showered, still in PJ's frantic Mom of three little boys and a messy house to boot. I didn't like the idea of someone coming unannounced, even if they brought coffee and I enjoyed cocooning myself until I felt we were "presentable" and always scheduled our play-dates and such.

On the other hand, I love that I had a friend or two who welcomed this idea and often reminded me to stop in at any time and say hello, I thought "my goodness how lovely that must be...to feel that free"


I realized of course, that it was my issue, my selfishness and my need to control a situation that was causing me to put up an invisible wall to unannounced guests. I also realized in doing this, I wasn't allowing any opportunity for free fellowship, much needed encouragement for myself and others and I was putting restrictions on when community could happen.

When we view people as interruptions, we diminish the reality that God uses interruptions to bring about His work 


So, I have decided to change that.

 I want you to drop in. I want you to know that you're welcome to come say hello without texting me first.

Are you on your way home from grocery shopping and need a hug? Knock on my door.

Kids making you crazy and you need 15 minutes of adult conversation while your littles run around with my crazies? Stop by.

Need a free cup of coffee and a cookie and maybe a good cry? Swing on over.

Wanted to share a story with me, but texting it was too long? Show up.

Have to change a diaper or go to the bathroom yourself? We have a toilet. 


I may be out running errands, getting Jack from school or with my husband on a hot date...but please at least try. You may run into another person while you're here and you may not even know them.

 All the better.

I promise to have cookie dough in the freezer waiting to be baked, coffee ready to brew, creamer in the fridge and my teeth brushed. I promise to have Pandora Spa Suite at the ready and a candle to burn even if you can't hear it due to the sounds of my littles.

I can't promise my kids will behave, or that my house will be clean or that my dog won't jump on you and I can't promise I will always be here, or that I won't need to leave soon after you arrive...I can't promise I won't be taking a nap or that I will be having a great day myself..(also I may be in yoga pants)

but I can promise that my house is a safe place. A place to bring your happy days and sad days, a place for a break or for renewal. Whether you sit for 15 minutes or we chat for an hour.... it doesn't matter.

Please just know you're welcome here.

Don't text me or message me or call me. Just come over and be real.


What about you? Could you create an open door policy? Don't think about the reasons not to, think about why you should.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

The Art of Community: The Village

I read a blog the other day. It talked about longing for the "village" of older days. The days when people lived fairly close to one another on larger properties and the kids played outside in the field together and women took care of each others children and baked bread together etc.

Life looks different these days. There is no changing that, and in all honesty, it wouldn't be wise to try and do so. Things that were safe back in "the day" just aren't anymore, and that includes in other countries, not just in the U.S.

So, while yes so much of the concept of a "village" has changed, that doesn't mean it can't or doesn't exist. It just looks different. We just need to be more intentional about how it works and make it happen. We also can't wait for the village to come to us. We have to make it happen if we want it.


My village looks like bringing a friend her favorite coffee on a day that I know has been tough. It looks like watching her kids so that she and her husband can go on a date without paying a babysitter. It looks like her watching our kids and dog so we can do the same. It looks like texting, calling or emailing just to check in and for no other reason. It looks like prayer requests sent via the internet knowing they will pray right then and there. It looks like my Mom watching the twins twice a week so I can take Jack to swimming lessons. It looks like meals brought over for two months after recovering from a c-section and it looks like baskets of vegetables brought over just because she knows we like them.
It looks like "can I pick anything up from Costco for you?" and it looks like "can I take your daughter out for coffee and a bagel just for fun?"

It looks like dropping everything to come over and watch my kids so I can take one to the ER. It looks like crazy long days with all of our kids together just so we aren't alone.

It looks like no-makeup in runs and long talks outside after un-planned dinners and it looks like dreaming and praying.

It looks like friends that become family and watch your kids for a weekend so you can go and run 13+ miles and knowing you will watch their kids in return.

It looks like people asking to have my kids over because they love them and it looks like people taking the poopy diapers from porch and dropping them in the trash before they leave.



This isn't 1950- it's 2014 and we can still have a village...it's just not going to look like baking bread side by side all of the time. Sometimes it will, but instead of longing for what's no longer the norm...let's make the village better than it ever was.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Running: Free Therapy

I didn't start running until after I was married. My Dad asked me to join him on a run and so I did. I never ran by myself except at the 5k races we did together. I always ran with my Dad. I loved running with him. We never went very fast and we got to talk a lot. I enjoyed my time with him.

Me, my sister, my Dad and Trev


Fast forward 10 plus years, a baby, a miscarriage, twins, a c-section and ankle surgery later...and I have ran a Half-Marathon and am 11 days shy of my second one. There were times during this training I wanted to quit running. I really actually don't like running. I never feel totally awesome during a run and unlike so many people, I don't pray or process things internally while I run. In fact, my mind is blank while I run. There is literally nothing going on in there during a run, which is why when I run alone I listen to music. I do enjoy the feeling when I'm done and my body has worked hard and I see the calories I've burned and the tone in my legs but I really don't even enjoy it while I'm doing it.

I've had some crappy runs this time around in my training, and some slow runs too. You know when those happened? When I was running alone. My longer runs, the ones that should be slower....I have run all of those with one of my best friends Amy. My pace is consistently faster with her (she slows down for me) I can carry on a conversation with her and we process a lot of stuff on those long runs. I feel great after I'm done and I don't dread running.

I've realized that I don't really like the running for the running, but I like doing it with people that I want to spend time with. You can get a lot of ground covered over a 10 mile run and I always feel lighter when it's over (maybe that's the 1,500 calories I burned too). It's like therapy.


I have a hard time getting up in the morning to run alone. If I'm meeting someone it happens, but if I'm left up to my own accountability and my headphones it's harder for me to.

I don't like small talk. I don't like surface conversations. When you're on a run you don't waste your breath with that stuff. You dig in and get down to the grit. You're already smelly, sweaty and makeupless so that front is out the door. I like that part of it too. There is no place for facades when you're running.


I don't think I will ever enjoy running just to run. Maybe I'm not a true runner then. I'm okay with that. I'll stick with running as a way of connection and relationship and the changes in my heart and body just come as extras. So thanks Dad, for asking me to run. And thanks Amy for keeping me at it.


A little over a year's worth of Post-Run Selfies

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Stuff that Matters: If we are a Jesus People

I'm pretty fired up. Not as much as I was last night, or even this morning on my run...maybe it's a good thing I haven't had time to write until now. It's a little more filtered. Right now I'm talking those of you who call yourself a Jesus people. Those of you who believe in Jesus and call Him your God. I'm gonna set you down for a cup of coffee and talk real honest with you because I'm a Jesus people too. So just listen. I'm talking to myself too.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Threads

I never cease to be amazed at how God sews the threads of our lives together with others. How we are all connected in this crazy beautiful mess and how it's all for His glory.



Soon after we recognized that God has opened our hearts to adopting we received an email about a newborn baby girl in our area. Her name was Sarah and her biological Mother was going to put her up for adoption and they were hopeful to find a local family that would love and honor this sweet baby and be a perfect fit.

We looked at each other and thought, "All ready!?"

We began praying and asked for some more information. We received another email and then we made a phone call. We were able to get much more information and decided to alert our family and close friends, asking them to be in prayer for us as we sought God's direction in this. We asked for prayer for Sarah, for protection and safety as well as for her future family- whether it was us or not.

We had another phone call soon after and through prayers and continuing to hear more we both felt that we were not to move forward with this little one. We continued to pray for her and for her future forever home, wherever that may be.

Not too much time went by and a friend texted me to tell me that her dear friend and her husband who had been waiting years for a baby had a possible adoption in the works and asked for prayer. She was beyond excited but also fearful for her friend, that something would fall through. After a few texts I realized this could be the same baby and so I asked...and it was!!

 I couldn't believe it! This baby girl was possibly going to be adopted by someone I sort of knew and KNEW they had desired a child for so long.

I was so excited to share with Trevor and our family and friends who had been praying, and asked them to continue praying. I got the contact info for this friend of mine's and told her about how we knew of this baby girl and how crazy it all was, how we had prayed for her and for her future Mom and Dad and the whole thing.....with tears in my eyes!
 From then on I was able to stay in the loop and follow their story.


Adoption is a beautiful thing, but it is also broken. There is heartache in the best adoptions, there is always a loss for there to be a gain. The bio family, the adoptive family, the child....so much of God's redemptive story is seen in the adoption story.


Today, after a year and a half of hoop jumping and paper filing and waiting and court dates and meetings....little Miss (now Gracie) is officially and legally the sweet daughter of my friend Cheyenne and her husband Ryan!


How God wove our threads with Gracie's, to pray for her and her future family that we would actually know....it astounds me. I wrote to Gracie, my perspective and how I am so thankful God allowed me to be a part of her story in the smallest way. I look forward to watching her grow up into the person God has created her to be and I am beyond thrilled for Cheyenne and Ryan. Gracie, so prayed for, so longed for and so loved.

You never know how God will use you, most times you will never see the other end of a prayer. Sometimes you get blessed and you watch it unfold. Be faithful with what God puts in front of you.





Personality Types

On this journey into figuring out what makes me tick, what I'm passionate about, created to do, built for...I've learned a lot about my personality. I'm not one to think everyone fits in a box perfectly but it is clear to me that personality types are legit and if you know what gets you pumped and where you excel and what gets you stressing it can help you a ton!

I think everyone should have their stressors written across their shirt so that when they get spinning people can identity why and how that happened. It would probably solve a lot of problems :)

For instance, in the well respected and used Briggs Myers test, I am an ENFP.

Here is what that looks like









My husband on the other hand is an INFJ (also the most uncommon one).....




Notice how his strengths are what stresses me out? On one hand I figure I cause him a lot of angst haha, on the other hand we balance each other out really well (apparently our match-up of personalities is the best for both of us)

One of my best friends is very opposite of me, in fact this is a good representation:




Man, I'm glad she puts up with me! Knowing this helps me see things from her point of view, helps me understand where she is coming from etc.


I recommend doing this in your relationships for sure, especially if you are married.


I used to think I just sucked. I couldn't stick at something for very long- be it in ministry at church or something else, I just got bored and was done. I really thought I was just lame.

Turns out, it's a strength. I'm a "fire-starter". I can get you excited, I can get ideas up and running and gather people around and cheer you on and it's AWESOME. But then when it comes to managing it, and all those details.....I'm out. I can't do it, that is what burns me out and gets me stressing.

Finding this out has really started to change my perspective and I realize that I must always team up with someone who thrives when they are managing details and organizational aspects of things, otherwise I will crumble and die. I always need to find the balance for what my endeavor is.

That's so good for me to know, but also a challenge because I like to be in charge and I don't like to be micro-managed, so I must find someone I can trust and who gets me.


This also helps when you also take your Enneagram and Strengths Finder- put them all together and BAM- you have yourself a very good idea at what you SHOULD be doing. It's good to know our strengths and weaknesses, not only so we understand how we process things but so that we can challenge ourselves to work on those weaknesses and be aware of them.


Here are a few links for the shortened version of the Myers Briggs Test

-Personality Pathways- (way simple, might not nail it but could give you a good idea)

-16 Personalities- (this one does a great job)

-Humanetrics- (my favorite)

Saturday, May 10, 2014

For those with empty arms and aching hearts

I am thinking of you today, you who long to be called Mommy. A day like Mother's Day feels like a cruel finger pointing in your face- lying to you that you don't yet matter.

Maybe you've tried for years, or maybe just a month. Maybe you've lost a precious one or maybe you know you never will hold your own.

We don't celebrate our Mother's and each other to rub it in to you, but I know maybe it feels that way. Maybe you avoid social media and church this weekend fearful of the posts, the noodle necklaces from kids being worn and the sermons about just Mom's. 

Maybe you read online that your friend "can't catch a break for 5 minutes without hearing Mommy screamed ten times" and you long to hear it said just once. 

Maybe people keep asking you and your husband "Well, when are you going to have kids?" and you smile and nod and your husband squeezes your hand tight and they don't know you've tried for years but it doesn't matter....

Yesterday I was in the bathroom for two minutes and the 'Mommy!!' didn't stop...and I cringed but then remembered that sweet Mama who just lost her only son on Friday in a freak accident and how she would give anything to hear the nagging behind her bathroom door.

You see Mom's complain online about never getting a break, the sick kids that need full attention, the crazy and long days and all you long is for all of that. You know we take it for granted and you quietly ache as we forget what it was like when we too longed for a little one.


You're not forgotten here.
 You matter.
 He knows your desires, the aches in your belly and in your arms.
 I see you. I am thinking of you today
. You matter. You are precious and not alone.





Thursday, May 1, 2014

On Friendships

I've been thinking recently about friendships.
How blessed I am in this season of my life, to have the friends I do.

When you are little friendships are really just about socializing and finding someone who likes to play the same things as you. Sometimes, those random friendships last your whole life and while it's not the same as weekly play-dates, you still keep in touch and care about one another.


After marriage friendships get harder. Some of your friends aren't married, and that's just not the same. Some of them are but they have kids and that's not the same either. It's a total transition time and you're trying to adjust to that new married life and have friendships that understand. The same goes with becoming a Mom. You are desperate to find people who understand where you are coming from and are okay talking about kids a LOT because that is your life and that is what matters right then.

People start to grow up and the silly things that used to matter don't anymore, and you need and want a friendship that isn't shallow.


I don't care for small talk. In fact, I often just put my head down and walk quickly so that I don't have to do small talk. I would rather sit down with a cuppa and get deep and personal. That's just who I am. Go big or go home. This is good yes, but also I tend to keep myself from opening to other people because I can't go deep and personal with everyone, so why try. I have to find a balance of being relational with the acquaintance and then having friends that I bare my soul to.

I have those friends. I text those friends every day. We meet once a week with our families to dream and pray together. 

One of these friends I have known for years, but we never hung out. Then organically it happened and now she is who I call first if I need help. In an emergency, after my Mom it's her.  She's the person I text for immediate prayer. She's the person who encourages me after just spending an hour walking or running with. She became the person I trusted the most before I ever realized it. She's not super mushy, but I am. We are similar but also quite different. She and Trev actually have more of the same tendencies and that's probably why I love her so much.  :)  

It's not just fluff. It's the challenge to live better, to be a better person and a better wife and Mom. It's that challenge to do this life better that I couldn't known or expected. It just happened. I am so thankful it did. 


We need friends. Real friends who want to know how we are really doing. The ones that don't ask, they just show up with coffee in hand. The ones who challenge you to live better, to dream more and to love deeper.  We can't do this life well if we don't have people around us heading the same direction. 
Sometimes I feel like I'm just hanging on for dear life, and I've grabbed these people who are feeling the same and we hold on to one another like life jackets and close our eyes tight hoping and praying we make it through the storms. 

Thank you friends. For loving me despite myself. 
For being who you are.


Friday, April 25, 2014

Education: Holy Hot Topic

I have written and deleted this post so many times, now it's time to just hit publish.

There are few things these days that get people more riled up than Education. Just take a look at your own Facebook feed and I'm sure you know what I mean.

People get downright passionate and sometimes pretty rude about it (in a passive-aggressive "just sayin" sort of way)

Here are my two cents, because I know you realllllly care right?

Education is important. We here in the First world take it for granted. We have multiple choices in how we educate our children, where as in the rest of the world kids are lucky to even learn how to read.

Education matters. Education is crucial and it's a gift.


I don't think there is a right way to do it.

There are some incredibly awful public schools, with awful teachers and mean kids.

There are some amazing public schools with amazing teachers, and some awful ones and some nice kids and some mean kids.

There are also some really amazing private Christian schools, with some amazing teachers, and some awful ones too. These private Christian schools have some pretty awful kids too.

There are also some pretty lame private Christian schools with both amazing and awful teachers too.

There are also some homeschooling parents who suck at it.
 And there are some amazing homeschooling parents with kids who are awful.

There are also some amazing homeschooling parents with amazing kids.


My point is.... you have crappy teachers and kids and parents everywhere you look.

Right now, our oldest is at the private Christian school I went to. My husband and I have prayed from early on that He would help us make the right choice for our children regarding their education.
We decided we would always take it year by year.

For now, this is where we are.
We are in a pretty sucky public school district, so for us that isn't an option in our current house.

We may end up sending him to public school at some point, who knows some of our kids may be in public, some in private and some home schooled.

I think you need to know your kids. You need to be involved. Know their teachers, the parents, how your kid learns and functions and then make a prayerful decision.

You may be dead set on homeschooling and it just isn't right for your kid. I know I'll offend someone when I say, it isn't right for every kid.


There are a multitude of reasons I don't want to home school, but if God wants me to, I will.
I get scared when I think of sending my precious boys to a school where there are young kids saying and doing things they should have no concept of.
I went to private Christian school, I know the kids there aren't all nice and quiet little church kids- of course I worry about that too.

They are my kids. I worry about them regardless. I won't bubble wrap them though.

What I will do, is trust. I will trust in God who has given me these precious kids to raise and that includes where they learn. I will be engaged and I will pray and then I will trust.

I'm so tired of the arguments for and against all these types of education.
I'm tired of hearing "if I really loved my kids I would home school argument."
I'm tired of hearing I'm "sheltering my kids by sending them to a Christian school argument."


I'm thankful we have a choice in how to educate our kids, and that worrying about how they will learn is on my brain and not "How will I feed my kids tonight?" or "Will my child ever learn to read?"


So there ya have it. Go and educate your kids- however thou wantest.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

How to Live Intentionally and Stop Going Through The Motions

In my last post I shared about how I started living more intentionally and stopped just consuming.

So how did I go about doing that?

This isn't a formula or the "right way" but these are things I (we) did and have led us to where we are now.

After reading, and meeting with a few close friends, being challenged by God... I tell you it was like I was seeing for the first time in my life. Things hadn't changed with WHAT I believed, it was about HOW that looked. How all the stuff I knew needed to look a whole lot different than it had. Church needed to look different, our lives needed to look different....


1) Read.

 Pick up some or all of these books and start reading. Some you may love, some you may struggle with and that's okay. It's okay to wrestle with things and disagree and also find out you've been wrong.
One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp
Love Does by Bob Goff
Radical by David Platt
Interrupted by Jen Hatmaker
7 The Experimental Mutiny Against Excess by Jen Hatmaker
Barefoot Church by Brandon Hatmaker
Sacrilege by Hugh Halter
The Circle Maker by Mark Batterson


2) Intentional Relationships.

If you are going to do this life and do it well, you need people in your life who not only love you and accept you, but challenge you and hold you to a higher standard. When God began shifting stuff in us, we were in friendships with people that were feeling the same thing. We began meeting intentionally to pray. Weekly. We said it was happening every week at the same time, no matter what. Sometimes it's quiet and the kids play outside, sometimes the kids are crazy and in our faces, sometimes we eat sometimes we don't. We pray for one another, we share the real gritty stuff and we dream together. We dream about what we hope God will do and we speak truth and love. It's not a weekly get together without a purpose. It's intentional. And it's overflowed into our everyday lives. It's like family.

If you have friends who are on the same page as you, get real about it. Be intentional about your times together and seek more. If you don't have anyone like this in your life- pray that God would bring that about. It can't be forced or manifested- it's just gotta be Him.

3) Do stuff that matters.

Take all that head knowledge, all that stuff you know- along with those relationships you have and look at your life. Are you really doing stuff that matters, or are you filling your days with stuff that just steals time away.
If your days are busy but there is nothing real to show for it, stop doing it. Start doing the stuff that you love, that you are called to do, and stop doing the rest of it. (Read Love Does)
When God first started stirring in us this change, we jumped at it all. We were serving at the Mission, handing out food to homeless people, giving our money away to anyone who held up a sign, looking into moving to South Sudan. I mean we just were so ready for change that we were jumping at everything! It was good, it was just doing something until God began to shape and form in us exactly what that looked like for our family, and He's still doing it.

4) Be the change.

Don't wait for your church to change. Your friends to change or your family to get it. Your friends might think you're crazy, and your family might not get "it"- sometimes that's what it's gonna look like. Start the wave of change. Change up how you do holidays and parties. If you're in a small group, speak up about being more service minded instead of "study" minded. Get your hands and feet on the streets and do. Speak up and don't settle. It may take awhile for anything to catch on, but don't give up. I almost did.

5) Find out what you were made for.

I'm a stay at home Mom and a wife of a full time pastor. I have a unique set of gifts and talents that don't get put on the back burner because I'm a Mommy. I don't have to choose or sacrifice either. Like I said in this post.... find out what you were created to do, where you should give your time to. And then do it. It's good for my kids to see me heading out to meet with teen Moms, or to go to a Trades of Hope party. They see that Mommy isn't just a Mommy and that the world doesn't stop and start for them. There is a bigger picture and it's important our kiddos get that. I want nothing else than to teach my boys this life is not about them, and that we are to give ourselves away.


Read, pray, be intentional with your friends and your time, serve, step outside your comfort zone, forget that you've grown up in the church and start looking through the eyes of someone who has no clue what church is about, love more and talk less, find out what makes you tick, be challenged, make change and don't settle.

Don't settle for comfortable church and a million Bible studies. Don't settle for surface conversation and self-centered talk. Don't settle for the American Dream, it's not what Christ intended anyway.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Tired of Consuming: Now What

I mentioned in my last blog post that I stopped going to Bible Studies. Not that I stopped studying the Bible, just that I hadn't attended a Bible Study in quite some time. There is nothing wrong with Bible Studies, in fact I believe they can be very essential to new Christians, those who are newly growing in faith and need to know what this whole "life in Christ" thing is all about. There can be great conversation that stirs in a Bible Study and deep friendships borne as well.

There is however, a large amount of people who have grown up in the church that as Jen Hatmaker says are "still starving for nourishment after our sixth Bible study in a row..." 
These people can't seem to fill that "hole" or "void" and soon after a Bible Study ends, they start to feel empty, distant or dry again, and so they go to another Bible study- feeling that is what is needed. 

I would argue that instead of attending more studies, more programs, more "things" we take what we know (again, those who have lived this cycle for many years) and put it into practice.

You know I love me some Hatmaker, so another quote for you:

“We don't see the New Testament church hoarding the feast for themselves, gorging, getting fatter and fatter and asking for more; more bible studies, more sermons, more programs, classes, training, conferences, information, more feasting for us. At some point, the church stopped living the bible and decided just to study it, culling the feast parts and whitewashing the fast parts. We are addicted to the buffet, skillfully discarding the costly discipleship required after consuming. The feast is supposed to sustain the fast, but we go back for seconds and thirds and fourths, stuffed to the brim and fat with inactivity.” 


Right? We live in a society of consumers, and it includes the American church.

Have you felt this way?  Maybe you feel a little empty even though you've been attending church, studies, classes and events for quite some time. Maybe you've felt like there is a little more to life than what you're living and maybe you want to live a better story than you have been.

Here's the deal, you don't have to pick between living a great story and doing something significant and also being a ______ (Mom, wife, student, kid, teenager, number cruncher, waitress, accountant etc) You fill in the blank.

I don't have to pick between being a stay at home Mom and also living a life of a world changer outside of my home. I don't have to put on the back burner "great things" while I change diapers, clean floors and give time-outs. I can do it without making my family suffer, or stifling the burning in my heart that God created in me.

I am not "just" anything. He did not created me to be "just" anything.

So now what? What do I do with this...if I want to live more intentional, and stop consuming and start giving.

I want to share with you what I've done. Not because it's the right way, the perfect way or the only way, but because maybe it might help one of you in your journey too.

I want to share with you how I started digging to find out how to live this one life better.

John 10:10 says "The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full."

Life to the full.


Next post:

Little steps I've taken

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

On Growing Up: Living Intentionally

I spent the better part of my young-adulthood just wading through things. I've done things I've always wanted to try (like phlebotomy) and I've done things that have landed in my lap (Medical Assisting, Trades of Hope and Photography).

At church I've answered phones, greeted people, answered questions for new-comers, worked with babies, toddlers, preschoolers, Jr. Highers and High Schooler's. I've served dinner for our mid-week service, I've done sign language, drama and scripture readings. I've organized and stapled papers, put books on shelves and filed odds and ends.

I've attended retreats, women's events, Bible studies, Sunday School classes, church services, camps, missions trips, concerts and speakers.

Why? Because that's what growing up in the church looked like. You go, you do these things and you plug in.


Most people do that their entire lives. They go, plug in and stay there. Or they go, plug in, get bored, change it up and repeat that for the rest of their lives.

They like kids, so they plug into children's ministry. They like the behind the scenes so they do the camera or video. They like details so they do that weird detailed stuff.

Sometimes the things we like may not be what we are best at. Sometimes we are doing life, in ministry and outside of ministry, that is pretty stale and boring and we don't even know it.


I don't go to Bible Studies anymore (Pastor's Wife Shocker). Kinda got tired of just talking about it all, and not going and doing it. My husband calls it "feeding fat sheep". We know it. We get it and then we sit and consume more and more and get fatter and fatter and don't actually go out and do all the things we know to do. We are just consumers. That's what Bible Study started to feel like to me. (Bible study isn't bad- that's not what I'm saying)

I study the Bible. I pray.  I meet with friends weekly. We pray. We do life. We challenge one another. Bible Doing is kinda where I'm at.


I decided I didn't want to just do ministry for the sake of ministry- I wanted to find out what I was really supposed to be doing. I wanted to know what my life has shaped me for, what God has created in me and what my gifting and talents were. All of those things create a unique person with unique gifting for specific things. I don't want to be 60 years old still serving someplace to fill a hole when I could have been living in the exact spot I was created to live in.

What does that look like? It looks a little like this and this mixed together. It looks like dissecting your life. It looks like being vulnerable in front of people you trust- asking them what they see. It looks like taking this and this (or something similar) and then adding it to the other stuff. It looks like prayer. It looks like being intentional about my life and not just wading through the waters.

It looks like knowing there is more to life than a job, then money, then a house or retirement and being fully ready to dive in to what God has for me- because that is far greater than anything tangible I can hold on to.

It's good- to look at yourself and find out who you really are...for His purpose.

I feel like I'm actually growing up now, owning myself and my faith and being intentional about it.

What do you do after you're done? You stop doing all the things you've been doing that aren't what you should be doing (even things you had no idea you weren't supposed to do) and you start doing the things He's crafted you to do.

You go be awesome.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Mexico: Redux

I've been home from Mexico for one week and am still processing and adjusting. I always have a hard time coming home from a trip and going right back to routine. There is no buffer for Mama, just back up and at em with the boys and life.

Mexico was awesome. From the moment our van left the church parking lot I was all in. I found myself in a van of 13 guys and 0 girls. I felt right at home with all those boys, and honestly it was so great. They were quiet and nice and contrary to what some may think it only smelled at one point along the way. The van ride alone was a vacation for myself.

This group of teens was nothing like the group of teens in my youth group, so basically they were awesome. I loved watching them work hard, work together and dive in. The days were long and physically exhausting and the evenings were for bonfires and worship.

Our group built a house and a community center in 4 days. Working pretty much from 8:00am-5:00pm with one break for lunch for 4 days straight. It was amazing to see something come out of nothing.

The final day we handed over the keys after a prayer of dedication and blessing, and the joy on these grateful faces was worth it and then some.
I loved being able to capture the moments on camera, and also got to work with my hands building.

I will be back that's for sure. God redeemed that crappy Mexico trip and those crappy youth group years and then some for me. I'm thankful for my friends who challenged me, who asked me to do something and then wouldn't let me say no later when I tried to back out.
The conversation in the van on our ride home challenged me more than any moment throughout the week, I am so grateful for friends who speak truth and life into my life. That's gold right there.

Also, Port-a-Potties for a week aren't so bad, nor are solar bag showers in a cement square.


Here is the link to the blog I did while we were in Mexico, you can read back through the updates and then the full recap video is below! This travel photography gig is pretty sweet.


Friday, March 21, 2014

That one time I said NEVER but God wanted more

Part of this Restless Project is going back through your life and plucking moments out. Plucking out the moments you felt the most proud and satisfied and plucking out the moments you suffered. To take it a step further, you have to describe how you felt at each of those moments.

The proud and satisfying moments were fun and brought back good and warm feelings. The moments you remember suffering were not so fun. Taking pause to reflect on why you felt the way you did and describing those moments (that forever shape you) is painful. It's not fun and it's hard and I'd rather just forget.

It's important though, to do this because it really is evident how those moments and those feelings play into your passions and gifting later on.

One of the most painful parts of my life, was during my younger years in church- specifically youth group (Junior High on up) I'm not going to dive into all of it, but suffice it to say I was hurt by people in the church (side note...people can really suck and that includes God's people. It sucks and it shouldn't be this way but we are all human and sometimes humans suck) I could have very easily written the church off at that point but I am grateful that God (and my parents) walked me through that and that I didn't turn bitter.

Something I did while in my youth group days was go to Mexico on a mission trip. I sort of signed up because everyone did, but I really struggled with it. God answered specific concerns I had with different verses right before I left and I will always remember that. But I did not come home feeling "totally awesome" nor did I ever feel like "Yes, I was totally supposed to go and now I can see that". I just never have. Some things you just don't get the kind of answers you expect.


I swore I would never, ever go back to Mexico on any kind of a mission trip
 (you know where this is going don't you?)


As I've shared before, God is rattling my soul and asking me to live brave, to trust in Him in new ways and to let go of fear. Going to Haiti with Trades of Hope was a huge step in that direction for me. Letting (seriously) Trev go to Israel for over 10 days was a big deal (it's all about fear people)

Then my friend (our Youth Pastor now) asked me to go to Mexico with the Youth as photographer for their trip over Spring Break. He must have sensed I was in a "heck yes whatever" mood when he asked because I said sure.

His wife is one of my dearest friends, and at that point I thought there was a good chance she was going. Well, she's not. And I started to back peddle a few months later.
I tossed up a lot of excuses

"I'm not invested in it"
"I only said yes because he's my friend and I don't want to let him down"

"I am not a youth worker right now, I have no connection"
"Wait, it's like hardcore camping!?!?"


"I will miss my boys"
"I am afraid something will happen to them while I'm gone, only I can really watch them the way I want them to be watched"




We leave tomorrow, and to be honest I'm still fearful. I'm just sort of putting those things in the back of my mind and focusing on using all this cool camera gear and apps to edit movies that I get to upload while we are in Mexico.

But here is the thing-

I think God wants to redeem some things in me. I think God wants to take something that makes me remember hurt and loneliness and rejection and turn it into something good. I think He wants me to trust Him with the parts of my past that still hurt. I think God wants to work on me. I know that unless every.single.part of my life is His I cannot be used the way I have asked Him to use me.

Am I hesitant and a little afraid? You bet I am. But I'm going. I will leave before my kids get up in the morning and hit the road with vans full of teenagers that may be feeling exactly what I felt so long ago but hid it really well.

And my boys will ask Trevor where I am and he will tell them that I'm heading to Mexico to build houses, and that Mommy is learning to trust God in a whole new way.




You can follow along at www.mednazyouth.blogspot.com or @mednazstudents on IG




Live Life Palms Down


Live life palms down.



Sounds weird right? By living palms down, I'm relinquishing my rights to everything. Nothing I am or have is mine. It is all for Him. 
I force myself to not hold tight to things I want or need. I simply trust in a God who has told me He alone supplies my every thought, need or desire. 
By living palms down- I become a funnel of His grace. His blessings flow down and off my hands into the lives of others and I don't attempt to grab them and never let go. 

Palms down.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Restless Project: My review and why you need to grab this book

Do You Feel Like You're Missing Something? What if this feeling wasn't a bad thing? It could be a longing for more of God and a catalyst to living the life that was designed before the foundations of the earth were laid.

A lot of us, if we're honest, are afraid. We hold our dreams close to our chest. But our passions have a purpose--they were engineered for God's greater plan and he intends for us to use them for his glory and purposes.

In "Restless," Bible teacher and fellow struggler Jennie Allen explores practical ways to identify the threads of your life and how to intentionally weave them together. She explains how your gifts, passions, places, and relationships aren't random; they're deliberate and meaningful. And your suffering--it's possible it has produced the very thing you want to give back to the world.

Using the story of Joseph, the dreamer, Jennie explains how his suffering, gifts, relationships--all of the threads of his life--fit into the greater story of God and how our stories can do the same. What would happen if God got bigger than your fear and insecurity, and you spent the rest of your life running without reservation after his purposes for you? You were created for more. (From Restless by Jennie Allen)







I first heard about Jennie's new book Restless on Twitter. I read a quick synopsis and then entered to win an advanced readers copy. I won! And then I set it aside and didn't pick it up in time to review it before it launched. It's not really a read quick and then write a review about type book.
You have to be ready to dig in, create the time and space to process and follow through on the project and I wanted to give it my full attention.

My friend and I started reading it together and then meeting together to go over the different "assignments". It has been so so good.

Restless is all about finding out what has made you who you are, what your strengths and natural gifts are, what you are passionate about and how the suffering you have endured shape your life and your calling. It's not a "here is what you should do with your life book". It's a book that walks you through your big stuff, helps you see the threads and connections and helps you figure out really what your "sweet spot" is.

It's been amazing to see why I felt the way I did in the greatest memories of my life. It's also been more painful than I expected to walk through the moments of suffering in my life. It's been good to lay it out before trusted friends and my husband and ask "What do you see? What patterns or connections do you notice? Am I serving best where I should be given my gift set?"

I met with one friend last night, super late at a lounge. Yep, a lounge. It has this great funky ambiance and it was quiet. We had a couch to ourselves and I laid out my whole life on butcher paper before her. She saw some things I hadn't seen before. Some connections and tendencies and frankly gave meaning to some stuff that I hadn't been able to put words to. It was so so good.


I am 30 years old, but I haven't arrived. I am still learning about God. I'm still learning what audacious grace and extravagant mercy look like. I'm still learning what makes me tick, what makes me excited, where I am made to serve. I don't ever want to feel comfortable and settle in someplace because it's easy or safe. I want to be in the will of God, doing exactly what He has created me to do even if it makes me uncomfortable.

This isn't about "well, I'm a Mom and that's my focus and calling". Absolutely, but you aren't just a Mom. There is far more there than that, and you don't have to choose one over the other.


I so encourage you (my lady friends) to grab Jennie's book. Read it. Walk through the process and meet with a trusted friend who knows you well, who can call out the stuff you maybe don't see and find out what makes you the way you are, and where you are called to plug in. It may be what you are doing now, or it may completely surprise you. Either way, don't wait.

If you are local and want to walk through this book with me...shoot me an email
www.krystle.bowen@gmail(dot)com


Great people do not do great things; God does great things through surrendered people.” 




* I received an AR copy to read and review from a giveaway- all opinions are my own and completely honest*