Saturday, December 18, 2010

'Tis the Season?

If you have ever worked in the retail or customer service industry, as I have for most of my illustrious career, you know that the brief period in time known as the holiday season (generally Black Friday through New Years, although more people are just beginning November 1st these days) is the most grueling and potentially evil of all...

A phrase I hear repeatedly around me, whether in stores, in the office, on the phones or whatever is "Well, 'Tis the Season!" generally followed or preceeded by whatever bad, sarcastic, mean, hurtful or unfortunate thing that just happened. Oh, you got cussed out by a customer? Well, 'Tis the Season!...You're locked in a gridlock battle over a Rock Star parking spot at Costco? Shoo...'Tis the Season! Everyone walking around in a generally nasty mood because they feel overworked, or are focused on everything they HAVE to get done to celebrate Christmas? 'Tis the Season! You're grumbling and complaining because you think you are forced to pretend to like your family? Tis the Season!

And I think Jesus cries...

Have you ever gotten something for your birthday, or Christmas, or any holiday celebrating your "You-ness" that was totally not what you wanted? You left up websites, printed out coupons and left them under your spouse's keys, dropped subtle-yet-obvious hints like bombs over Nagasaki and yet, you still end up with something that is not quite you at all? Sometimes I think this is how Christ feels at Christmas...

This is the holiday that, for many of us, we choose to celebrate the birth of our Savior, to share in the spirit of peace and goodwill, to remember the little things, and the value of love and family and yet, we use it as our excuse for ridiculously bad behavior, for which, let's face it, we would give ourselves a "time out" for. We excuse our actions and the actions of those around us because "Tis the Season!" Well, let me shout it from the rooftops...TIS NOT THE SEASON!

Let's think back to the first Christmas, shall we? This Christmas was not adorned with presents, HDTV's, dinnerware from Lenox, and decorated trees. This Christmas was not perfect, with fruitcake and namecards, and "Leg Lamps" and gimme, gimme, gimme... This Christmas was a much simpler affair...a much "messier" affair. The birth of Christ was probably the most messy situation of all. Let's take an unmarried girl telling her betrothed that she was "knocked up, spiritually speaking", and that he not only had to accept it, but lead and guide them both. Then at 9 months pregnant (which is no fun!) they have to take their first family vacation, only to find there is no place to stay. This is the opportune, imperfect moment that the baby decides to enter our imperfect world. And yet, it became perfect, because HE was in the middle of it. This season was about salvation coming to the world and feelings of overwhelming, live changing, mindblowing gratitude that left us so speechless that only Angels could sing it and Shepherds could kneel. This story was not left in scripture simply as a "warm fuzzy"moment...Jesus was guiding us to his perfect celebration!

Tis the's true. But don't let your quests for perfection and stuff and the comparison games ( aka "her mountain of presents is waaay bigger than mine!!" **stomp, stomp...pout**) get in the way of your celebration and love. Tis the Season for peace, giving, forgiveness, patience, kindness, compassion and love....Tis the Season, because He is in it.

Merry Christmas!

Monday, December 13, 2010

Lessons Learned From the Church Bathroom...

If you've been reading this blog for a long time, you'll know that I'm in, as artists say, my dark period. There are just things going on between me and God that I have been struggling with for a few months recently. Not sure where they came from, but nevertheless, their ugly heads have been raised and so, I write, as God continues to teach me lessons and work in my heart, fighting this raging battle within myself on what seems to be a daily basis...

First things first...for this entry to make sense, I have to tell you...I love my church. No, seriously, out of any church experience, I have ever, ever had in my life...4 Corners Community Church here in West Chester ( has been life changing for myself and my husband, as well as our extended families...Now that you know that, I dive back into my entry...

On this particularly blustery, snowy morning, my husband and I were headed to church. We were headed on the freeway at 7-ish a.m. because we had been asked to do a duet with each other as a holiday special for church. It was at this point in our journey where the wiper blades became caked with ice, snow, and all other maladies, making it difficult for Hubs to know where he was going...we're talking visibility at zero here... with a car full of people and frustration mounting, we were able to veer off road at the nearest exit. The windshield wipers then decided to get stuck in their current postition. What was meant to be a "gentle tap?" ended up being an angry hand smacking the wiper switch down as my poor husband had finally lost his temper with the situation. What happens next can only be described as misfortune of sitcom proportions...Not only does the entire windshield wiper switch break off from my husband's short lived temper tantrum, but also the washer fluid decides to spray in a fountain all over the windshield, getting stuck in the on postion.

We pull into church, fluid spraying motor still running, frustrated, but also trying to focus on what we have been asked to do for our congregation and friends. The more I think about it, the more I started to feel like God has just allowed life to dump on us again (expletaves removed, but you get the idea of how upset I was). We keep finding ourselves in this pit, and all the little things adding up. Now on top of other "busted" things in life, we have a busted car, with no clue at this point a) how to fix said problem, and b) how much said problem will cost. Are we looking at under 100? 200? or something much, much greater.

I have to be honest here, at the early point of day, all of this exploded inside of me and I found myself rushing to the ladies room at our church to basically hold back the tears of anger and frustration I was feeling. I kept asking myself, why us? Why does the crap always happen to us and always at the worst times?! We had just dumped a lot of money the other day into putting on our son's 2nd birthday party. Why couldn't this have happened before we had spent that much?

As I got a cold, wet paper towel and tried to save face (literally, my "face" was running down my face), I looked around the church bathroom. I could see tiny cracks in the walls, little fractures, places where paint needed to be repaired. I knew there were other places needing repair within our church itself. But I stopped and thought about all of the wonderful things God had done through this broken building...the things He had brought into my life...the relationships and ( I love to say) amazing friendships he has built into us as a result of being able to meet together in this broken building...the moments of worship that had stirred me to the core, the messages our Pastor had brought that had changed lives...the inspiration to join together to build wells and orphanages and serve the community here nearby...If God can use a broken building for his good in our lives and the lives of so many, surely the things that are "busted" in my eyes and in my life are not without benefit?

I came out of the bathroom with a fresh set of eyes...yes, this ordeal was going to suck...big time. But, I knew my husband probably was already feeling a million times worse than I was, because he knew he could have prevented it. He needed my support and love, not my anger, frustration and nagging...

We got out there and performed. We did our best, all things considered. Maybe our duet wasn't perfect either, as the fractures in our car had left a few fractures in our minds...but my new perspective reminded me that life doesn't always have to be perfect to still be good.

I think Im going to hold onto that broken car piece as a little reminder. What areas of life seem "broken" or "busted" for you? How have they been or can they used by God in awesome ways?

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Pray For Kate

As parents, I feel like my husband and I have been relatively lucky. God has blessed us with a pretty cool kid who, outside of some typical boy bumps, scrapes and bruises, very rarely gets sick. Sometimes I find myself taking it for granted, until it comes to light. When the Pediatrician says, "Wait, outside of that one time, you've only had to see me for well visits? WOW!" or when I hear of a co-worker, dealing with appointment after appointment and bill after bill for his sweet little guy, Im reminded that we got it pretty easy.
I stumbled upon a site this week called Pray For Kate ( ) about a little girl named Kate. She is 5-ish from what I can tell and has been undergoing some extensive chemo treatments. Those of you who have been around adults in chemo know what a trying time that can be for a grown up to wrap their minds around. Think about what this little one is going through. All kinds of treatments and medicines and doctors and a lot of things she doesn't quite understand...
There are 2 things I have taken away from learning about Miss Kate:
1. Her parents are amazing. They have dedicated this battle to the Lord completely. I love the line her mom writes in the story about how "none of this has caught our God offguard". Even though they don't know the end of this story, they are fighting it side by side, with Kate and trusting in God's healing.
2. The second point I have taken away is an overwhelming gratefulness and blessing that washed over me today, after a feeling of incredible shame. Never, in my life as a parent, have I had to pray " Jesus, save my child. Save my baby. Heal my little one so they can live." No, my prayers are more often filled with requests for more. Give my husband a better job, give us a better home in a better neighborhood. Give, Give, Give....I find myself having taken for granted the "easy prayers" I have had to pray, that felt so tough and frustrating at that time. For some reason, its almost like my mind tells me I am entitled to things, instead of viewing them as things God has chosen to bless me with. Sometimes, it's almost like I don't mentally count it as a blessing unless it is a drastic change, a big move, something large and sparkly and expensive in worth in the eyes of man. And yet, there are parents out there , like Kate's, everyday on their knees, asking that God would intervene and save their child. It makes me wish I could take back some of those wasted prayers.
Please understand. It is not wrong to ask the Lord for things you want in your life. He even commands it in scripture that we share that child-like side of ourselves with him, because as our Father, he loves to hear what brings us joy. At the same time, He also wants us to wake up and realize there is so much more going on out there, beyond our self-imposed blinders; the blinders that say "why does this happen only to me?" "Why does everyone else..." and " It's not fair" and a myriad of other lies. Take off the blinders and remember that when you pray, you pray to the God of the universe who can do amazing things!
I encourage you to read Kate's story. I most definately encourage you to remember Kate and her family in your prayers. And if your prayers have been anything like some of mine, I challenge you to do a re-vamp of your conversations with God and instead of "give", insert a few new words like "show me where I can be your hands, lead me to where you need me to go, guide me to ways I can pour out your love" and, most importantly... "thank-you".

Thursday, December 2, 2010

The Magic (of Christmas?)

I think we all reach this point sometimes... completely and utterly drained. Spiritually, Emotionally, Physically,....and we wonder why nothing and nobody is making us feel better. We want big changes to counteract the lack of "magic" we feel in ourselves.

When we were little and feeling down, someone we loved would generally pick us up, dust us off, and do something special to make us feel better. With my mom, it was a good dose of girl talk. With my dad, it was a hug and a laugh. Someone else created the magic in us that life was ok again. Now that we are adults, who does this now? Sure, our parents are generally always there for us, and mostly our spouses. But sometimes our spouses are caught in the drainage with us, because we are battling the same thing together. We stop and take a look around and think, How did I get here? I with my degree, and hard work, and dedication and goals? How do I not have the life of "my dreams"?

Yesterday, a friend of mine turned me onto a blog called "Stuff Christians Like". The author explains these moments through the response of God below...

“I know, my son, I know. I know, my daughter, I know. That thing you wanted is not going to happen. Not the way you’ve always dreamed. I know this hurts. I know this stings. I know you feel like I am distant or not aware of where you are and who hurt you and what you think life was supposed to be like. I know in moments like this you doubt that I can count the hairs on your head or have your best in mind. But please, I am not done. I have barely started to reveal your life to you. I am the God who satisfies your desires with good things. That is me! And when it comes to your hopes and your fears and your dreams, I know, my son, I know.”

We have to realize that while we strive and work and struggle to create the magic, the spark, the glow in life...sometimes it's not going to be there. God knows that. He knows that in this imperfect world, sometimes dreams get crushed and we face issues of doubt and sadness. But it is also in this moment where he reminds us to take stock of the good in the cards we currently hold. This is what brings me to Christmas...

Growing up, Christmases for my family were always magical, no matter how much money was spent. For my parents, there was always the "big reveal" and to them, it was worth more than the present itself. You could see the excitement on their faces; the way their eyes would light up and how they would reach for the other's hand in anticipation. The smiles on their faces (even after being woken up at 4:30 am, because "SANTA WAS HERE!!", when "SANTA" had just gone to bed at 4:15, after putting together that kitchen play set... Love you, Dad!) Some years the present was expensive, other years it just held special meaning, like a poem or a photograph. I can't deny that this "big reveal joy" has been instilled in me, down to my very core. I get choked up wrapping my son's Christmas gifts, so excited to see what his reactions will be. My heart warms at the fact that my son loves the movie Polar Express and can now sing the "Hot Chocolate" song with the best of them. I can't wait to make cookies with him and probably end up covered in flour! And this year, as I gain wisdom and experience in being a parent, Im learning on foundational truth:

Sometimes the "magic" comes back to us through the magic we create for others.

When my life seems to be lacking fulfillment, I'll just stop and hug my husband for a moment, leaning on his strength, or watch my son watching his favorite movie. I'll thank God that I have these 2 healthy and amazing men in my life and that we have a home, food and the money to even give gifts this year. And sure, those dreams of a better life or job or whatever seem to be residing in a far off place, but why should I let that rob my joy in these moments.

Enthusiasm is a Greek word that literally translated means "within God". Enthousiasmos literally means to be inspired by the presence of God(Theos meaning God). We refresh the joy and enthusiasm in our lives back when we find ourselves Within God. Samuel Ullman writes "Years may wrinkle the skin, but to give up enthusiasm wrinkles the soul." Our "magic" in life, our spark and enthusiasm is truly found when we are living our lives Within God. When we don't take for granted the blessings we have and when we allow ourselves to be filled up with the non-physical things like, love, laughter and the "Hot Chocolate Song" that we do have. When you look at things in that perspective, one may find themselves abundantly rich.

How wrinkled is your soul?

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

The Struggle

You say, "Trust Me".
I say, "I've got this. Thanks."
You whisper to my heart, "Trust Me."
I say, "No, really. I've got this. I'm fine. I can do this myself".
You ask, "Please, Trust Me..."
I get angry. " I can take care of this myself!"
You shout to my soul, "Trust ME!"
I cry, " I CAN'T"...

You whisper, "Why?". I return, "I'm scared..."
You hold me close. You say, " I know..."

You show "Trust Me" displayed in the lives of others.
I ponder, "I might...". I look around.
I think within myself, "Look. They trusted. It worked..." I step closer. I pause.
"but they're not me."

I run, I hide, I cry, I stress, I doubt, I question, I look, I search, I balance...
I come UN-balanced.

You speak "IM STILL HERE...". I smile "You haven't left?"
YOU show, YOU love, YOU orchestrate, YOU move...
YOUR Spirit touches, my fears begin to subside...

You whisper, "Trust Me." I whisper, "I will..."

Friday, October 1, 2010

Mommy for Always

5:30 am. The phone rings...I automatically turn it off, because I think it's my alarm and we all know Im a snoozer. It continues to ring. Finally my brain connects that someone is trying to call me at this awful hour of the day. I hear my mother in law's tearful voice on the other end, asking for my husband. She takes her strength from him and has some bad family news to share.

I lay there, listening to my husband melt away, hearing the sadness in his mother's voice. Before getting off of the phone, an amazing transformation occurs. My husband says "I love you Mommy. If you need me Im here..." Mommy? I just heard my 26 year old husband call his mother Mommy? The broad shouldered, exterior of a man has fallen away, revealing heart of the little boy inside who will always love his Mommy and cares that she is hurting. The depth of the mother and son connection hits me so hard that even at this hour of the morning, I am emotionally rocked by it.

In this moment of clarity, I realize...even though I am on the threshold of my baby boy becoming a little man...even though I feel like I am losing those precious Mommy moments, snuggles, hugs and "monster" kisses more and more as each day goes by, in this brief moment I have learned they are never gone forever. When I am truly upset and Gavin sees my tears, even at the tender age of almost 2, he runs over, wraps his little arms around me as far as they will go and says in his sweet voice " I love you toooooo Mommy!"

I have every confidence that my son will grow into a strong and wonderful man, sharing many of the traits of his father. He is like a sponge these days, absorbing everything he can about his Daddy. (Currently these days, he's trying to be a "Chef", taking random kitchen items and "cooking like Daddy!")And if he is anything like his daddy, I know that while the days of Monster Kisses may stay in the past, when the moment is right, I will always be his Mommy.

Friday, September 3, 2010

I'm The Fisherman's Wife...

There's an old proverb of a poor fisherman and his wife...despite their poverty, they were deliriously happy and in love. The fisherman encountered a "magical" fish, who because he caught and released him, gave the fisherman everything he asked. The first wish he made was for his wife, because he loved her so. He wished she could have a beautiful new dress. She had never had one before. As he arrived at home, ready to laugh in disbelief over this craziness of a talking fish, he saw his wife, dancing and spinning like a little girl, in a new dress. The fisherman's heart was full, because he saw the happiness in his wife. When he told her of how the dress appeared, the fisherman's wife began to look around. "Oh husband, just look at this house...all it's cracks and problems...could you go back to the fish and ask him for a new house? it is embarassing to have friends over with all their great homes compared to ours". So, because he loved his wife he went back to the magical fish and asked again for a new home, because he loved his wife.

As Im sure you can tell, with fables such as this, the fisherman's wife went on and on, asking for more and more "stuff". This saddened the fisherman, as he remembered their happy life before, enjoying the love of one another and the simplicity of their home.

Sometimes I feel like I am the Fisherman's wife. I look at the things I have and the things I think Im supposed to have...I treat God like a magical fish and keep asking and asking and never seeing the simple beauty in what I already had. I turn into a person obsessed with keeping up with what society says I should own, instead of looking to dig out of debt, be charitable, and think of ways to use money to help others instead of thinking about what I don't have myself. Its hard as we get older and contemplate the life we think we are "supposed to have". When we don't meet what our expectations say we should, we become so depressed with our current life, we fail to realize it's beauty. We fail to remember we have healthy children, loving relationships, friendship and laughter. We look at the roofs over our heads and only see their flaws instead of being thankful we have them.

Take time to enjoy the precious things, instead of wishing you had more. Fill your life with the haves, instead of the have-nots. Chances are, the rest of the world you're trying to keep up with has just as many have-nots as you do.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

If We Are Faithful, He is...Silent?

We live in a world of instant gratification. Here in the magical land of texting, email, twittering, and other mysterious forms of conversation, we are happily placated by our instant responses. Even some of the best marital arguements happen over text and the winner is the one who texts faster...We do not, however, live in a world of silence. Silence is foreign to our generation.

Lately I have been struggling with something between myself and God. It's His silence. Not silence in a "we've had a fight and are not speaking" but silence in the fact that I have prayed and looked to Him for answers on a topic and still am not hearing...which in turn makes me pray harder and listen to His voice with more intensity...As mentioned in previous posts, I am a self-proclaimed control as one might imagine, this silence and waiting period has not been the easiest for me. :)

I've done so much searching scripturally on God and his faithfulness, his grace, his voice...and feel as though I have come up either empty or guilty. In what I had initially found God tells us not to worry about food or clothing or shelter...He will provide. And he has. I have all of the above. Food...yes. Shelter...absolutely...Clothing...a shamefully embarassing amount. So why am I feeling guilty? Because there are things I have been seeking that go beyond basic need. Do I have a right to ask for those things? Do those things matter to God because they matter to me?

It would seem like the world is against me every time I get close to those things.

Exhibit A...Many of our friends know this, but in the 3 years my hubs and I have enjoyed marital bliss, we have yet to be able to celebrate a "real" anniversary. We have loved the things we had done in the past, because, no matter how inexpensive they were, they were expressions of love to one another. But this year, it seems like we have really overcome much larger hurdles in our relationship and we both had the desire to celebrate in a big way.

I have been putting money aside, in the hopes that a real romantic evening can be had, and if possible, something special...beyond our usual nights out. And yet, car batteries die and precious guitars mysteriously get broken...and so my "Romantic Anniversary Fund" dwindles before my eyes...

I spent yesterday so confused...I didn't understand this concept of Faithfulness anymore...We have made a concentrated effort as a family to be more faithful in our relationship with God. We had increased our giving, gotten more involved in church, brought friends and family...And yet I was brought back to this question of, "if we have grown in our faithfulness, where is He?" And then the guilt returned...I have basic needs...What am I asking God for? He has so many other people to worry about.

Two reoccuring things ran through my mind...a friend had once reminded me, in the 300 years between the old and new testament, God was silent. But it was in His silence that He was working on the greatest gift in the world...planning the life of His Son, who redeeems us all! Another thing were the lyrics of one of my favorite songs, "How He Loves Us" . The lyrics talk about God's love for us, how his love is like a hurricane that surrounds us...and in the combination of those things I am reminded of the silence in the eye of the hurricane...

See, what we fail to realize in our lives of instant gratification, is that we may be right in the middle of his love, silent but surrounding us...and while we wait on Him for answers, growing in our faith and patience, he is working all around us, caring about our tiniest detail. In all my scripture research, I never searched God and his love...When the Bible talks of God and his love for his children, that's where the outpouring begins...thats where the blessings go beyond basic need to a Father loving his children... The Bible also says that "You do not receive, because you do not ask." Simply because our heavenly Father knows our hearts desires doesn't mean he doesn't love hearing about them.

If you are experiencing the silence...listen to His love speak.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Living the Dream?

I had a crazy dream last night...usually Im known for them. I have learned that the unexpected weird dream often has subliminal meaning....for example, that dream we have all experienced about our teeth falling out will often mean we are afraid of losing control of a situation...weird, I know. But for me, it rings unbelieveably true...

I am a control freak. I make lists upon lists, I do my budget 3 weeks out, I create plans for work, and if I don't have tabs on myself and those around me, I feel the slightest bit insane...The myriad of post it's covering my work monitor are only testimony to my need to balance everything. I remember after I first had our son, I wouldnt take any help offered, out of the need to do it myself. Asking for help would be a weakness, right? and that meant I was a bad mom? After a few days, I waved the white flag of surrender and gradually opened myself to accept the help of loved ones.

Last night's dream seemed to define for me how I feel life is going. There are days I don't feel like Im living, I feel like Im surviving...In this dream, all around me Im walking. The scenery constantly changes, but its mostly me, walking and carrying this ever increasing pile of the dream Im almost toppling over at the balance of everything, struggling not to drop anything as though my life depended on it. Then, to my side in the dream, this person appears...I think he was a man, but not anyone I knew...not my husband or a family member or anything like that, and yet I had a familiarity to him. He kept offering me his help, begging to let me give him some of the weight I was struggling with. I remember he was someone whom I had a fondness towards, almost a love, but did not want to put all of my "baggage" on him...Didn't want him to feel my burdens, or know just how "heavy" things had become. Most of the dream after that point was me, tripping and falling and stumbling, but clinging to the weight of my "stuff", while this person never left my side, and never stopped offering his help and support.

It was only after I woke up that I realized what the significance of the dream was...The stuff in my hands was everything I try to balance by myself in life...schedules, finances, relationships, healthy, beauty, friendships old and new, housekeeping, work..., worries, fears...I think my fears were the biggest boxes in my hands. I firmly believe the person by my side was representative of a Christ figure in my dream, always by my side, but I had to be willing to share my burden with him, so he could make it light. He would never force me to give it over, but wanted me to know He was there.

Carrying these burdens in life is something we all do. We struggle and stumble and, like me, fail to ask for help, for fear of being seen as a failure or as weak. We think we can manage and do it all on our own, and the truth is, we can't. But that is when He comes alongside of us, supporting us, and helping us carry the weight.

It is only when we rest our struggle in Him, that we stop stumbling and start walking again.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

The Worst~Best 4th of July

Sometimes I believe I'm cursed. I tell my family this all the time and they just laugh at me. There are times when I really believe this to be true. There are bad things that happen to myself and my family that just don't happen to other people. On top of that, they trend to happen in a downpour.

It is this cursed existence that has caused me to be an obsessive planner. I live my life through a series of quotes and one of my favorites is "If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail". This is why, on the morning of the 4th, I was shaking blankets, washing coolers, packing toys, sticking snacks in baggies, checking lists, and doing everything possible to ensure that myself and my guests would have a relaxing day...Or rather, they would have a relaxing day, because I had gotten out all of my stressing in the morning.

As a family tradition, we have gone to the Blue Ash Fireworks here in Ohio...Red, White and Blue Ash? Get it...(cue drum and cymbal clash). The plan was leave church, take our (fully stocked) cooler and some fried chicken, board games and other activities and spend the day outside in the nice, comfy grass, watiting to watch the fireworks.

Unfortunately, my curse had other plans...

As we left church, my dad realized that he had locked his keys in the car...ok, no big deal, 45 minutes later, AAA had us on our way. The hubs and I made use of the time and went to the store to fill the cooler, grab some snacks and delicious KFC.

Finally, we arrive at the *new* location for the Blue Ash fireworks and not only can we not bring our cooler in (NOT published on the website!) but the cool, comfy grass is nowhere to be seen, replaced by burning, skin-frying, blacktop parking lot. Add to that the discomfort of ( 3 )diabetics, ( 1) 74 year old grandmother, and a toddler, all without fresh, cold drinks that didn't cost 7 dollars...and you had some seriously uncomfortable people. My hubs, bless him, ran around like a mad man, trying to make everyone as comfortable as possible. (and when I say mad man, the poor guy literally got bruises on his shoulders from carrying everything.)

I sat there, hot, thirsty, and worried about my family, especially my son and grandmother in this heat, and was 30 seconds to tears. My husband had loved this family tradition for years, how can I tell him I wanted to do nothing but go straight back home? My son would really get to see fireworks, how can I take that away from him? My blessing.

As I cooled off mentally and physically, I watched my little guy...playing in some ice and dumping water on his own head. He didn't care! He was there with his people, hanging out and having fun. As the night went on, Gavin did everything possible to make us smile, from eating his bubbles while trying to blow them, to dancing like crazy to the band's music (emphasis on like crazy! coming to a YouTube near you!) and all around being awesome. The night winds came in and cooled us down. The fireworks began. Gavin crawled in my husbands lap to enjoy the show. I watched the two of them, the centers of my world, watching their fireworks together and I thought to myself...this is worth it. This is why I stuck it out today. That little head resting on that big shoulder, with eyes and mouth opened wide as my husband pointed out each big boom...

Halfway through the fireworks show, the comfort of daddy's shoulder coupled with exhaustion took over and Gavin fell comfortably asleep...but that image of my boys staring in wonder will stick with me for a while.

Sometimes we can't plan for everything...sometimes plans fail, even when you have done all you can to succeed. Sometimes you were meant to enjoy something that's off plan. And while Im going to send the city of Blue Ash a very pointed letter about bringing back coolers and grass, I have also learned that a cursed existance can still be a blessed existance. You just have to cool off and look for the good around you.

Monday, June 28, 2010

10 is the new 16?

I have to admit it...Im coming clean...I Junkie. I have this tragic addiction to entertainment stories. For some reason, celebrity lives fascinate me, and if allowed, I could lose myself in E television about 24/7.

During one of my times of extensive("research" into the lives of these people, I came across something disheartening...

On a jaunt through People Magazine online one day, I tumbled onto this article by a famous actress (who shall remain nameless). This actress has had issues with her "image" before, but was coming out to say how proud she was of how she looked, didn't care what the photogs thought of her and how she "loves her body exactly how it is, cellulite and all!" At first, my inner self throws up a fist pump! YES! FINALLY! we are getting advocates for Real Beauty out there!! As I read on, however, my heart began to sink. A few sentances down, this same actress who proclaimed loving her self as she was, began to detail her new, improved, hard-core workout program to get into that perfect size and "love herself for real!" B-b-but....You just said? HUH? I thought she did love herself as she was? I sat back and stared at this article for a moment and saw the ads surrounding it. Slim Fast, workout tools, and other fitness regimes slammed me in the face. truth, not only is this article really NOT about loving herself as she is, but also about getting it's readers to subliminally determine that they can neither love themselves as they are, until we reach society's version of perfection. Hmmm...strategic advertising with a side of product placement, methinks...Lets be real here...there's a difference between working out to be healthy and forcing a regime to fit a mentality.

I found another article that caught my eye about a "plus size model." The article described this person as a size 10! Really Media? a size 10? Just because there are double digits does not a plus size make! I dare you to find a 10 in any genuine plus sized store....DARE....

This experience sat in my mind for a few days until last week, when I stumbled upon another article about a "Size 16 model gets engaged!" Why did the article feel it was necessary to throw her size out there? Do they shout about it when the size 2 model has a crazy life event? "HEY! This famous size double negative model gets married..." We never see that, or if I've missed it, it's not something seen often. Why does the world and media feel obligated and justified to let us know her digit? They also question the fiance, leading the reader to feel he was slightly bordering on the insane by stating..."...and we asked her fiance what it was like to be engaged to a curvy woman and he said..." What is the man supposed to say? "EGADS! She's a fatty??" As though the thought that a woman with curves finding love was an extreme concept?

Basically, my rant is this: No matter how much the social media tries to warp the concept of true beauty for women in this world, be healthy, love God and love yourself. Real beauty cannot be defined by the social media. Find whatever the beautiful is inside of you and embrace it, regardless of the size of pants you put on every day.

Chances are I'm not going to end my little indulgences into the lives of the famous...but I will be reading them with eyes opened a little wider.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Pastor's Wife Appreciation Week....

It's about time, don't you think?...allow me to explain...

I don't know what kind of church you grew up in, or if you grew up in a church at all...From my experience, as far back as I can remember, ministry has always been a 2 person job to me. First the husband in the actual job position and then, closely by his side, his wife.

*Disclaimer, please do not read this as "If you are single, you have no bona fide ministry." This is just an observation. Those of you single out there and rocking at your ministries, keep it up*

When I was a little girl, I remember always seeing our pastor's wife, Pat right there in the front row. At the end of each sermon, our pastor would take his wife's hand and together they would leave the church and head to the doors to greet the people as they left. You could see, they were in this together. I've also seen pastor's wives in other roles throughout the church, in varied minsitries and teams. What I've come to realize is this: While the pastor himself deals with the brunt of the work, there is no support system like his wife. She is the well oiled machine, sending the emails, welcoming the people, playing with the children, volunteering to serve, leading by example, making connections, backing up everything behind the scenes that her husband portrays at the front. She is also the one keeping him going when it gets tough, she is the listening ear as he bounces another idea off of her, she is his strength.

I believe that ministry is a 2 person job, because I feel that the partners these leaders have chosen for their lives are divine choices. The most successful ministries I have experienced in my life are those who have that team. This weekend, as I was singing with the band, I observed our pastor's wife in the back of the auditorium, with a big smile on her face, and I wondered, does she know how amazing she is. How all of this would not be the same without her? I thought about the other spouses on our leadership team and how each one of them helps to shape their husband to who he is. I thought about several very close and amazing friends I have in the ministry, about all their late nights and tough decisions and hard times and how they have worked side by side to seek God's will for their families...

If you are reading this as one of the wives of ministry, this one goes out to you. Thank you for who you are and everything you do. Our lives would not be as enriched without you and your quiet beauty, your servant's hearts and your love.

If you are a person whose life has been made better through knowing one of these people, encourage them this week. Send them a refreshing reminder of how much they matter!

Monday, May 10, 2010

Mountains, Guitars, Margaritas, and Home


But I'll get back to that...

For anyone who has grown up in the church and discovered their own adult faith, knows how difficult it is to find a home church. You don't want to deny where you came from, but at the same time, you can see now as an adult, things that just didn't work. My husband and I took this quest seriously and took our time, but we may have finally come home. Ok, remove the may have...we are home.

We arent your typical Christians. We strive to search for relevancy instead of traditionalism. For doing life, instead of legalism. For a reason to do things, instead of "We always have". We daily admit our inperfections and use them to speak to others about Christ and how being broken vessels make us just right for His use, instead of covering them with a churchy smile.

We stumbled across 4Corners Community Church ( by *divine* mistake... In fact, the first time, we got lost getting there. Something about it though, just made us want to find it. From the moment we walked inside, it was like a chord was struck. From the greetings and smiles, to the music and message, for once it felt...real. We continued to go, and before we knew it, had fully drown ourselves in this ocean of community. This was the kind of place we belonged. The place where the hugs had meaning, where you were asked "How are you?" and they actually stuck around for the answer. This was the place where "I'll be praying for you" meant something and wasn't a passing phrase; where our son was embraced and loved and could learn about Jesus in an enviroment we knew we could trust to be on the same page with what we taught at home. This place was the place you could pour out your soul to someone and instead of judgement and criticism you found love, forgiveness and acceptance. This is the place where you can ask the tough questions about God and why bad things happen to good people and while they don't pretend to know all the answers, they will dig side by side with you to find it. 4Corners was never afraid to address the real issues and challenge you week after week to have bold Christianity, instead of sit in your seat niceties.

Getting back to unforgettable... I think the moment when we truly knew we were home was this weekend at the Leaders Retreat. A group of us went to Gatlinburg to get away for a few days. We knew everyone there fairly well, but for both my husband and I, we love going deeper with our friendships and really getting to know people. From the moment we arrived, we knew this was going to be a special weekend. On the first evening, we were watching the kids playing on the mountainside and I stood with Jill, our pastors wife. She made a comment, so simple, but so profound to me. As we watched the kids play, she mentioned to me "Just wait, in a few years, that will be Gavin running around up there with them!" I know it probably was a passing moment to her, but to me, it meant that these people had accepted us into their family and were ready to love and grow with us for a long time! We took a hike the next day with a few people and had some great memories of enjoying all the beauty around us. That night, as we relaxed under the stars, sipping some margaritas, a guitar came out and worship began. (Worship and Margaritas? I could get used to this...)

It struck me as we were all singing that this was the beginning of something deeper... These individuals, every one of them, were brought into my life for a purpose. This night was the beginning of some great and perhaps lifelong friendships, intricately interwoven through the love of Christ. These are people I knew I could go to with anything that comes my way and they will build us up and love us through it. As I looked around that night under a starry mountain sky, singing in harmony with everyone, I thought to myself, I am home. This is more than church...this is my family. I can't wait to see what God has in store for all of us and for 4Corners next. Im honored to be along for the ride.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

The Healing Powers of Music...

Life is hard.

A simplistic statement of 3 words that for so many is filled with so much meaning. We all look back at our lives 3, maybe 5 years ago and wonder, is this what I imagined for myself? Is this what all those daydreams were about? And when it’s different from that original image, how do we deal with it?

Throughout life, we hit numerous ups and downs. Life speeds by like a race track, soars like an eagle, plummets like a rock and very rarely ever is a steady constant. I can remember discussions with my dad about my Utopia. How I saw life to be, what I thought it was going to be, before I had taken on the pressures of daily living; before the mortgage bill came in, when resources were expendable and responsibilities were few. There are strong currents of my Utopia in the life I have chosen, but there are also times where Utopia fails and is rocked by a change.

I am the type who chooses not to discuss when I feel badly about something. Consider me a bottle, a sealed vault. I would prefer to mentally pour over an issue rather than expose my soft side to anyone in the outside world. Any close friend could tell you on a day I am silent, is usually a day something is not right in my universe… As I engage with my mind in our own diatribe, music is usually all around.

I happened to stumble upon a really decent find in a bookstore a few months back. A band I knew in college and still love today, Ellery ( was on sale. It was one CD I hadn’t yet seen of theirs and nabbed it up. It was right before I found out some very distressing personal news ( which I’m of course not going to share on here…bottles like me can’t do that, but suffice it to say, it was pretty awful) and it kind of tore me up. While entranced on a drive to work, lost deep in this band’s music, this lyric kept popping out at me

“The truth is there’ll be harder times…it’s ok to say you’re fine…”

It made me stop and think about the issues I had been facing personally. When we experience hurdles in our worlds, cracks in our Utopias, we think that’s it. It can’t possibly get any worse than this. I can’t believe THIS happened to me. But it also forces me to look back to other times, when I thought it couldn’t get any worse, and I overcame. The truth is, while this situation appears bleak, this isn’t the worst it’s ever going to get in my life. I will overcome, I will heal, and I will be stronger for it. The truth is, I can’t let myself dwell on it, because I need to be stronger for what is to come down the road, whatever hurdle that may be.

In that same bookstore visit, I picked up an older CD of Coldplay’s work, (who I also hold near and dear to my heart….my son was actually born to Viva La Vida in the hospital, if that’s any indication…) and came across the song “Fix You” on their XY album.

“When you try your best but you don’t succeed…when you get what you want, but not what you need…when you feel so tired, but you can’t sleep, stuck in reverse….

Lights will guide you home and ignite your bones and I will try to fix you…”

Again, I found myself captivated by lyrics. Growing up, no matter what blows the outside world had dealt me, home was the place of healing. Home was the place of comfort foods, warm blankets, good coffee, healing conversation, and much, much love. Now that I build my own home with my husband and son, it amazes me how this transfers directly into my life. After a long and exhausting day, I love to hear my son call me mama and holding his warm little loveable self is a cleansing agent to my soul. The best time of my day is usually around 9:17 pm. That’s when my husband walks through the door after work and I get to throw my arms around him and melt all my stresses into his embrace. My bones have been ignited again and I can begin a new day tomorrow…

Sometimes when you lose yourself in a song, you actually find yourself again.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Accepting My Lack of Perfection...

I wish I was her...

I wish I was one of those women who had it all know the ones...maybe you're her. I wish I was the woman who had time to keep her house clean, bake muffins on a whim, whip up a casserole for a friend, always maintaining a clean house. I wish I was the wife who got up earlier than anyone, to take time to dress and style to perfection, the one who maintained a perfect weight, lower than her pre-pregnancy weight. I wish I was the career woman who never lost focus or was late to work because we forgot to buy diapers. I wish I was the graduate who had lived up to all the hopes and dreams she had been sent off from college on with her toilet paper mache float... I wish I was the wife who had time to cook and prep masterpiece dinners, clean my house to sparkling on a daily basis, attend women's studies, always looked flawless, could pull spare moments out of nowhere for deep conversations with friends, was never too exhausted...

I wish I was the mother who got to stay home more, catching my son's daily miracles. I wish I had a free second to develop my intrigues on all things parenting like babywearing, cloth diapering, making my own organic baby food from scratch, and teaching my son signlanguage. I wish I was the mother who didnt have to send her son to spend more hours with a sitter than he does with me in a whole week.

Instead I am the mother who barely makes it...whose house, if you arrived unexpectely, would shock you or make you laugh...if the laundry monster doesn't eat you first...whose keys are hiding in the toybox, again. Who stepped on that dang talking dog who always reminds me "I love you!" I am the wife who barely rolls out of bed in time, glancing longingly at that Windsor Pilates video, promising again, I'll start you tomorrow. Im the one who consistantly wishes she could spend time on her hair, but yet, here we are, Curly again...Im the mother who makes the mad dash into Target to buy a shirt on the way into work, because some how, between the drawer, the car and the office, something stained my shirt. Im the mom who, ashamedly, pulls into McDonalds for that happy meal, instead of packing foods in little baggies on the go...Im the wife who trips out the door as she balances her purse while trying to throw her shoes on. Im the mom who gives the finger to having the gym membership because, let's face it, mornings barely happen as it is, and I refuse to give up my precious 2 and a half hours I have with my son in the evenings to anyone else. Im the mom who would rather play another round of "Im gonna get you", Read "Baby Animals" for the zillionth time, make ridiculous car noises and hear my son's giggle than make him wait while I cleaned...

If you are the type of mom, wife, and woman I first described, please don't be angry...I dont hate you...If anything, I aspire to be like you and wish my life gave room to some of the priviledges you have. I find myself constantly comparing myself to women like you and again, feeling like I've fallen short in this whole work-life-family-marriage balance. Sometimes the very thought that I don't measure up takes me to a place so dark, it's hard to see the good among the shortcomings.

But then I realize...Im not perfect. Im not supermom. I may never be like some of the amazing women I described...but guess what. I look at my family...Im perfect for them. Im perfect for the 2 amazing men in my life. I may not always have it together, but Im trying and they are on this journey with me. We are doing life together and doing our best to love each other first and foremost. It reminds me of the story of Mary and Martha. Martha always working like crazy and others noticing her for her hard work. Mary, treasureing more of the relationship with Jesus, sitting at his feet.

For me, Im just not a Martha...and I think, Im ok with that...

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Consider My Mind Blown...

Before you read this, know that I have been praying for you...

The words you are about to read are ones that were placed on my heart for somebody, somewhere and I have no idea who you are. This "moment of selah" was one that I experienced earlier this week. It was something so intimate and personal, I debated even writing about it. Yet, this morning, the Spirit moved and this post was already written in my head before I even sat here to write a word. Whoever you are, I hope you feel His love through these words...

I am an avid "blurker" of It is one of those "mom" type sites where you get to write about all those wonderful and yet awkward things those husbands really don't know about or want to know mucus plugs and breastfeeding... :) This week, I was reading the story of a woman named Stacy who, initially was just celebrating the birth of her daughter. I stumbled upon her blog and realized that her journey began much earlier than the day her little girl was born...


This whole site is devoted to her journey since she discovered there was something terribly wrong with her first pregnancy, baby boy Isaac. He had some trisomomies and abnormalities that would have made him either pass away while in utero, or shortly after birth. Her doctors urged her to terminate the pregnancy, but she could not do it...she could not limit God.

At the end of each post she would lift up a request to each of her readers, asking that God would miraculously intervene in the pregnancy and cure Isaac of his medical issues. Her doctors were baffled as to why she continued the pregnancy. One specialist even stated that out of all pregnancies he had seen with this medical issue, only 3 others decided to continue. She, together with her husband decided not to put their God in a box and continue with this precarious situation. The doctors warned them that, at best, they would have hours, maybe minutes with their child.

As I continued reading, I observed little miracles throughout her story. A lump on the back of Isaac's neck began to diminish, different little blessings along the way. As I read, I began to have hope for Stacy and for Isaac for a happy ending, even though I knew otherwise...

I then reached the part of the story where Isaac passes away...I had to stop reading. Even though I did not know this woman personally, I was so filled with anger at God for her situation. This woman had faith that God would do a miraculous work in her son. Instead, he was taken away from her. I couldn't imagine having a pregnancy like that. Having the strength and faith to trust in God, knowing that you may never even get to have a life with this baby at all. Pregnancy by itself is such a trying and emotional time, but to carry a child you may never even get to see grow up and knowing that truth rocked my world. Then, God brought me back to the true message of her blog...

Sixteen minutes. That's all she had with her little boy...just sixteen minutes. Instead of filling those minutes with sadness and tears, she and her husband embraced every minute they had, filling it with kisses, cuddles and pictures of their new little family, no matter how long they had it. They took hold of every second to celebrate God's gift, even though they knew he would not be with them for long.

The reason I share this with anyone who reads is to let you know we don't hold the next hour. We don't hold the next half hour...we don't even hold the next sixteen minutes. Our lives are an orchestration of the Father's hand, and even though little Isaac was here for such a short time, the inumeral amount of lives he has touched through his mother's faith and trust in God's leading is incredible. Instead of allowing ourselves to be wrapped up in the sadness and darkness of moments, we have to push through and see how God is going to use this moment for His glory, allowing Him to love us through it; not use it as an opportunity to push His love away.

I don't know if my words will make sense. Maybe it's better for you to read Stacy's journey in her own words. I just know that it is a powerful woman of God who continues to be faithful in such a mighty way. It's the kind of woman of faith I want to be. It's also an encouragement to me to continue living every moment I have with those I love, regardless of what the next moment holds.

Please know that you are loved today and that, good or bad, each day and each moment holds it's own purpose.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Faith and Flipping Toddlers

There is a moment in a mothers life when she finds herself scared to death for approximately 2.4 milliseconds...give or take a few.

If you have ever spent time around my husband and son when their playtime is at it's peak, you will generally see my toddler being fliped through the air, bounced off of couches, held upside down, and all other manner of before you finish dialing the number for CPS, stop and listen for a moment. Listen for my son's belly-aching-explosion of giggledrops as he runs to his daddy and lifts his arms as if to say, "Again!!"

As a mother, I have to close my eyes sometimes while they play. It's so hard for me to trust; trust that my husband will not drop him at some crucial moment of acrobatics, or that my son, the most precious thing in the world, will not get scared and flip out in a way that their playtimes would hurt him. Sometimes, in the ways he gets tossed around, it is his absolute, reckless abandon and trust of his daddy that makes it fun and keeps him safe. This is what keeps them playing and moving as one single unit.

Our pastor today told a similar story of a little girl and her daddy. He placed her on a ledge and told her to jump into his arms. She did it every time without fail. Giggling and laughing, she would keep jumping over and over again, knowing he would catch her every time.

It amazes me the reckless abandon our children have for us. The limits to which they trust our love and responsibility for their little lives...My son has never once shown fear that his father would not catch him. He has never once asked me if he should be eating the food I serve or playing with the toys I give him. It makes me wonder if I am really putting that same kind of trust in the Heavenly Father. If he places me on a "ledge" in my life, will I just run and jump, knowing not only that he will catch me, but also that we will have a blast along the way? If the Lord were to allow me to be tossed around, would I relax and enjoy the ride or would I flip out because I am not in control?

Sometimes He tells us to jump and we refuse because we cannot, in our adult minds, wrap ourselves around the end result. He reminds us that He is there to catch us, that He has created this life for us to experience Him and enjoy it and all we can do is live in fear.

Pura Vida. Pure Life. Live a life not in fear of falling, but in the joy of living it to the fullest.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

My Toddler is Profound

It never fails to amaze me how God continues to speak to me through those in my life. Sometimes when things are dark all around me, He pops these rays of sunshine known as loved ones in to remind me He's there, even when it's too painful to look for him. If my face is downcast, He gently tips it up, wipes my tears and shows me He is there...

In my last post, I shared how my life has been crazy and I have had a tough time finding my own identity again. It has made me realize I need to take moments to stop...just stand still, and the world, spinning a million miles a minute, slows down eventually too. I had just one of these moments...

In my new career, I have a very important presentation coming up. Almost a definitive item as my make it or break it proclaimation to this company. I keep working on it, fine tuning it until it all runs together, the words begin to cross, and before I know it, Im not even writing in English anymore...

G, my toddler son, a little over a year old, is starting to know me better and better. The more he becomes this "person", the more I adore him. He has such a heart for others. When kids cry in the church nursery, he's there patting them, and getting them to play. When there is laughter and happiness, he is there in the middle of it. When I have had a stressful day, he comes running with just the right smile to flip my whole mood.

My moment of Selah is through my son, yet again. Here I was, typing and stressing and second guessing, and he comes up and keeps handing me books, toys and other things. He kept trying to climb in my lap and I kept directing his attention away from me. Finally he grabbed his best pals, Mickey and Monocito,* because apparently Mama looked like she needed a friend??* and crawled next to me and SHUT MY LAPTOP! In that moment, he said so much.

I have always had this feeling about my son that he is an "old soul" and wiser beyond his years. *year??=) * I normally would have considered some kind of discipline, because he knows that's a "no no" but I truly feel he was trying to say something. Like, "Mommy, this is OUR time, remember? Play with me...just play!" Somehow in reading "That's Not My Monkey" *for the 50th time, I swear* and cuddling with my son, this amazing peace came over me.

Sometimes we get so caught up in the life around us, we forget the lives we impact. We lose fact of the roles we play in the epic stories of others. We struggle so hard to get ahead that we forget to live in the moment we have. My son was telling me to live in his moment. He was inviting me to be a part of his special little world that is only this special for so long. I don't want to miss more moments like this.

When everything spins out of motion, grab the things that are closest to your heart and invest in their moments. That investment will bring the most profound profits.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

You Spin My Head Right Round, Right Round...

I feel like I have been caught in a whirlwind of insanity. From old jobs to overseas trips to new jobs to first birthdays, second first birthday parties, and holidays...oh the holidays...I literally feel like I have been robbed of Christmas...everything that made it special for me just wasnt happening. I feel like everything happened so fast. DS's second Christmas and I barely remember it...sometimes I feel like I barely remember me...

DH and I had a huge talk tonight about confidence...finding it again. Renewing in myself the things that makes me happy. Maybe I should find a good conversation with my dad over some coffee...maybe I should work out more and bring back that old body...I feel like I have spent so much time investing in my son and family and job that the old me is trapped inside of a glass box that she is screaming to be released from...I can see her, remember her, how fun and creative and silly she was...but I can't touch her...I need a giant ax of confidence to break through and get her back...We talked tonight about me listening to the bull that I tell myself...I mean, I have always had this inner not-good-enough/not as good as her debate going on, but lately I have really started listening to it and it's been a poison to my soul...a cancer to my being. I have stopped stopping to enjoy little parts of life...I feel like my mind is either a giant blank or filled with the headaches of overwhelming doubt. This dark night of the soul is not who I am. But how do I end the refrain I keep playing over and over again? How do I make it stop and hear a new song...I haven't felt freedom in myself for so long. I guess I need to realize that I can be a mom and be a wife and still be me! Just because I am a mother now doesn't mean that I automatically deny all of the parts of myself that I used to enjoy. I just have to re-prioritize...

Thank God for my husband. I continue to say that God made him for me. He knows how to keep me grounded when the poison fills my mind. He reminds me that I do have the coolest kid in the world and he wouldn't be that way if his mom wasn't pretty great herself. He renews my faith in his love for me and fills the cracks in my heart, of which I have broken myself. He, in a sense, writes love on my own arms where I would prefer to write f*** up. He sees me for all the good I am, loves me for who I was and reminds me of who I could be, should I chose to be.

Today, for me, my husband is my moment of selah. Hearing the Father whisper I am loved...