Only in community is a Holy life REAL. ( see Proverbs 18:1)


Heart Ramblings on the 2010 "Holiday Season"

A few weeks ago I sat down to write and realized I was about to enter the holiday season. All I could muster up was an emphatic "UGH!" It was just a few months earlier I eagerly played Christmas music during the late-summer's heat! How could I be so disenchanted by "the most wonderful time of the year"!?!  Instead of dragging my feet into this season... this is what happened.

     I decided I need to have a "new" focus for this Christmas, Christ! The gift of life, the ultimate humble, selfless sacrifice of love. And because of this I'm probably not sending out any Christmas cards. I'm probably not planning family photos (I've decided the New Year might be a more appropriate time for that). I'm considering making some candy, but that's not even a sure thing. This year, I'm not just going to do any of those things out of obligation.
     I do plan to spend more time in God's word and in prayer. I want to give to others, to those near to me, and those in places not overwhelmed by the excessiveness of Western culture. Where they might worry about a clean house, but they have dirt floors. I want to be abundantly aware of how immensely SPOILED I am. 
     I think we say frivolously say "oh, we are so 'blessed' to live here or to have all these nice things," but isn't that grossly understated? Somehow we think we need cathdral ceilings and to have our homes or bodies look like those in the magazines we read. 
     Reality check! We are not just fortunate but we are richly, abundantly, blessed in ways we rarely realize. We live in a country where we are given the opportunity to learn to read, write, work, be paid for that work, experience a huge amount of freedom, justice and privacy. Yet many of us feel entitled to be free of things such as: disease, crabby and stubborn people, consequences for poor choices, back-breaking hard work, accidents, hindrances and a stressful situations. No wonder we experience devastation when life goes differently than we planned---a flood, tornado or hurricane ARE devastating when they destroy the materials we've grown to love and depend on. O how I want to be blessed by the beauty around me---but not be distracted by it!!! 
     Beyond my comfortable and luxurious life are people hurting and people with needs I know little of. The man sitting across from me might be grieving in a way I cannot comprehend. A child on my street might not know what hope is because of a life of abuse and abandonment. My heart breaks for the pain of an amount of individuals I cannot comprehend and the host of pain they experience. Yet God knows every detail and the extent of every pain, He catches every tear. How BIG is He and His LOVE---that He can handle all that hurt. And He doesn't just cope with it. He grieves with us, He never leaves, and He alone knows and IS the path to healing. He is our hope. 
     Thank you for tagging along on my heart's tangent. But really, it brings me back to Christmas. He's the only way I can focus on what matters this season. Each person that Christ came to the earth for matters. YOU are the reason He came. 
     So my hope is to let Him show me how I can love you this season. If I send a card, make or give something, it's going to have my heart in it. If anyone feels His love through something I've done---it's only because of His power and for His glory. 
     Stay in His peace this season! He's really not about the hustle or bustle... but I know you can find Him there, too! Merry Christmas!




I'm not sure why I'm prefacing this blog with an introduction...

A couple of months ago I was listening to Matt Redman's "The Heart of Worship." For many reasons this is one of those songs you can go back to time and time again. But, there's a portion of this song that I have never sung in church before. "You shall not share Your glory with another." What a powerful and true statement. So, I was listening to this song and thinking about attributes of God and this is what I was thinking about and writing:

The narcissism of our culture--of humanity.
My own selfishness. ugh.
And yet He is still in love with me
He loves me beyond measure.
 I'd say "whole-heartedly" but He IS love---so He couldn't possibly love me in any portion.

No matter how we are---He does not let go.
If we are filled with arrogance and pride----He does not let go.
If we are writhing on the floor in shame---He does not let go. 
When we are so self-absorbed and insist on doing it our own way and living in our own strength---He doesn't let go. 
When we can't bear the pain to open our eyes, when we can't see---He doesn't let go. 
When we take the credit for life going well, when we can't stand the noise of life-the chaos and havoc---He does not let go.

He has NOT let go of YOU either. 
(Which kind of reminds me of another Matt Redman song!)

When it comes to authentic surrender to the Savior
You aren't grasping for a safety net.

It's not there!
(You. Don't. Need. It.)

Scripture reassures us, "No one who trusts God like this--heart and soul--will ever regret it." It's exactly the same no matter what a person's religious background may be the same God for all of us, acting the same incredibly generous way to everyone who calls out for help. "Everyone who calls, 'Help, God!' gets help." Romans 10:11-13 (MSG)



let me just say

I've had some thoughts here lately... that I *think* will make it here. But whenever I take a moment to blog...
Those things I was going to say--are gone!


Hope Gleaned. Thoughts on Friendship.

There's more. But this is all I can muster up.

Life's so F U L L. Full of chaos. Full of change.
Full of garbage. Full of all the things we don't need. 
But it's also filled with things we do need. 
Filled with peace and love and HOPE

I have recently had the pleasure of having some very memorable conversations. Some of them were deep, some of them were awesome, and some were just raw life. I wrote a few days ago about my friendships and even since then things have blossomed. And I'm grateful. Some dear friends are going through some very intense times and I've had them on my mind. A LOT. But, I'm not worried about them, I know they will be fine. But they have certainly been heavy on my heart. HEAVY. The beautiful thing? Instead of being ready to run for the hills and pray they don't call me, hoping that they make it out alive without dragging me into their drama, I've been so drawn to them. I want to call them and text them and plan a sleepover just like when we were younger.

I used to think that the friendships you had as a kid would always be close to your heart... After all, during those awkward teen years, who could know you any better? They went through the highs and lows WITH you. Those were the years of my truest friendships. There were no boys to seperate us. No fiance's or husbands, no screaming infants or blabbing children. There were very few bills to pay and meals to cook (chips & salsa is considered a meal, right?). There were the endless hours on the phone and sleepless nights where we contemplated every possibility of the future. There were poems and singing, O glorious singing!

I was as real as I could possibly be during those years and I've carried away a wealth of treasure from them. But despite those blessings, as I began to navigate adulthood, I began to question whether or not that same level of depth could ever develop (or be sustained) later in life. They WERE close to my heart, but could that ever return to present-tense?

Recently, I've concluded that the beauty of childhood friends is not lost with the responsibilites of adulthood. It can be. It can mean that we push each other away. It can mean that we are more worried about the laundry and dishes than connections. It can mean not fully disclosing ourselves, our hopes, our fears. We can choose to stop asking our friends the big (read: heavy) questions. We can choose to hide our biggest failures and frustrations. We can hide behind a myriad of walls (jobs, spouse, media, activities etc.). We can, very easily, make sure we don't have time to invest in each other. We can pretend that things are so different and we are so different.
But we aren't. 
And we don't have to.
We don't have to go through the messiness of life alone. 

It takes guts to pick up the phone. It's hard to know how to start. Sometimes it's hard to tell someone how anxious, scared, worried, hopeful you are about your marriage, your baby, your finances, your family, your body or your future children. Sometimes we are so used to saying "Oh, I'm fine" and quickly citing the weather or how we lost our contact this morning. But what else?

Oh, I know. I know that it doesn't just come out. It doesn't just happen that you pour your heart out. Your heart has to be full before it begins pouring out. That stuff has to be brewing inside before it's ready. Timing is important and so is the vessel you're pouring it into. You can't just pour it into someone that you're not sure is really concerned. Your "sensitive material" can only be given to someone you know understands how precious it is. Someone that knows you're not nearly as strong or confident as you appear and won't ever throw anything back in your face. Someone that has, somehow genuinely invested her heart in you.

My husband has frequently reminded me of my own loyalties and of the HIGH value I place on relationships. It's true, but I've never seen it so vividly. Relationships are a HUGE vessel of change. They are the vessels of peer pressure and destruction as well as hope and redemption. Those positive relationships are the voices of warning when we are wandering and the encouraging words during our storms. They are so much more than the words in every self-help book or logical answer. They are the words and peace and hope and joy and love of our Savior in flesh. And without them... yes, I would be lost. LOST.



So, from time to time my dear husband has had a crush on a celebrity. There haven't been a lot, but every year or so he will be pretty eager to watch the newest movie that his "crush" is in. I, however, cannot think of any "crush" I've had on a celebrity lasting any longer than a movie we've watched. Until now. 

I <3 Jimmy Fallon. And although he is cute, I have to admit that my crush has more to do with my admiration for his humor. He's funny. FUNNY.

AND...In a couple of weeks Jon's schedule will change and he will no longer be coming home close to midnight. Which means I won't be watching "Late Night with Jimmy Fallon" as I wait for him to arrive. The question is, will I start recording it?

If you'd like to see one of my recent favorite JF clips CLICK HERE.

Yes. I know it's ridiculous :)

Laugh & Enjoy!


Friends & Seasons

Our memories are often not reliable or accurate accounts of the realities we've experienced. I get that. But I've been reminded, with small little snippets of where and how far I've come over that last few years. Praise God for His provision and how He shows us how far He's brought us!

Throughout my school years, I was always pretty happy. I was fortunate enough to have some really great childhood friends and a stable journey through middle school. I never planned to meet my husband in high school, but I did. Unlike many others, I never really felt like I had experienced anything too socially difficult. But marrying at 19 and having my first daughter at 22 was a period of intense change. Change that, for the most part, I was eager to encounter, but could not have known how much I would be stretching and growing.

It was a time in my life where the friends that I'd always connected with were still out living richly exciting lives, spending their time with enriching experiences. They might have been considering others in terms of their weekend plans, but they certainly weren't waking to feed a newborn. My (slightly) older, friends from work and church were blessings in many ways, but weren't new to marriage or motherhood. They were great examples and sources of encouragement but not floundering around like I was. I remember times of extreme loneliness. I remember not feeling like there was anyone I could really count on or deeply connect with. Most of my single friends were immensely busy and those with multiple children were overly busy with their own families. I went through so many stages of mourning between 19 and 24 largely because I couldn't quite grasp all the changes that had occurred. I knew that I was where I was supposed (and had chosen) to be, doing what I was supposed to be doing, but it was also such a hard time. 

More than 5 years after my first daughter was born, my perspective (and circumstances) has drastically changed. A lot of the friends I had then are still there and the ones that were encouraging, still are. MANY of the friends that were out experiencing things that you do not experience when you're married at 19 with a baby at 22 are now married and a lot of them are starting families. A little part of me is jealous because so many of them are surrounded by other friends going through the same transitions with them. But really, truly, I'm just glad I've already gone through that part. I'm glad I can offer them support, empathy and prayers without having to travel that road with them. I have excitement for them that I wouldn't have had a few years ago. I can let them know that they aren't alone if they're overwhelmed and I can rejoice when they are high on life. And finally, I have friends that are single. Some of them have been through tough times relationally, and others are still continuing a journey that just naturally extended from college. They too, are near and dear to my heart even though I can't stage a "playdate" as an excuse to talk to them!

I'm so thankful for the broad spectrum of women in my life I can call friends. They are in so many different places and when they share portions of their journey, it allows me to appreciate my own. Don't get me wrong, I'm often sad that there's too little time in my (and their) schedule to see many of them very often, but their diverse worlds enrich mine. So over the last few years, everything that I felt was lacking in my friendships has been restored. Largely, I'm sure it's because of my perspective and maturation (I'm confident of this because, with few exceptions, most of my friends are the same). Regardless of the reason, I'm so thankful to have so many women to try to squeeze in some time with.


So many reasons to smile...

I considered a number of things before sitting down to blog a bit. Like should I include all my tiny random "blog-worthy" posts into a larger post? Or should I make those separate entries? And... okay, I won't bore you with all of my perfectionistic "woulds" or "shoulds." And I certainly won't claim that this entry is nearly as good as I'd hoped. But, it is what it is!

For now, I'll just tell you my current favorite story!

   Last week Elseigh had placed the ottoman about 2 or 3 feet from the TV with pillows on either side of it. She was jumping over the ottoman while I was cooking. My parents were over, and politely my mom told Elseigh that she should not be doing that, as she was fearful that one mis-step would end in a TV-shattering disaster. But, she told Elseigh to check with me to make sure. I walked into the living room and assessed the situation. I understood why my mom was nervous about it, but (knowing that the TV has a shatter-proof screen) wasn't REALLY worried about it.
   So, I decided to take this chance to talk to Elseigh about how sometimes it's just better not to do something because it was making grandma particularly nervous. I decided to use, what I thought was the PERFECT example: "Elseigh, do you know how you feel when we are in the car and I'm not buckled?"
    (To fill you in, if there are ever the SMALLEST moments when I have not quite gotten the seatbelt latched right as the vehicle has just started moving Elseigh begins SHOUTING "DING! DING! DING! MOMMY!!! YOUR SEATBELT!!! DING DING DING!!!")
   Because Elseigh will flat-out tell you that this makes her nervous and even frequently tells me as I'm putting the van in reverse, "I was just checking to make sure you were buckled," I really thought this would be a SIMPLY point to make. But what does she say? She looks at me, calm, but quite seriously and says "But mommy, I don't feel that way whenever grandma doesn't have her seatbelt on."
   I simply ran from the room she was in trying to hold in my laughter. What more could I say?


Not much HerE!

So I've been wanting to blog a LOT in the last month. But to be quite honest, I haven't felt like I've had anything to say. Weird.

 But I think something's coming. It's just like that feeling you get before you vomit... you know it's coming, you're just not sure when!

I'm just not sure when I'll have time to get it down. Or...where to begin. But it WILL come...

Enjoy. (life, not this entry!)


%^#&* #)@$!!!

Yesterday, while driving home from the store. Elseigh was having a hard time getting her bunny's new jacket off of the hanger. As I listen, I hear her frustration building. What does she say?

"Tartar sauce!"

I laugh.

Then she says, "It's NOT FUNNY! Breathe through your nose and close your mouth so you won't laugh!"

So, I do.

Today, with her help, we remember what happened well enough to tell daddy. When we ask her who says "Tartar Sauce!" she responds, "Patrick." Thanks, SpongeBob, Thanks.


bath time marvels

I'd like to spend the time it would take to better develop this introduction, but I don't have that luxury. A few weeks ago I was giving my then 7-month-old a bath. She's mastered the whole sitting thing, but honestly bath time was a little easier when she didn't want to be so involved in playing or chewing on something while bathing. So basically, you have to hold her to make sure she doesn't lean too far into the water while bathing her at the same time. I don't know about you, but I baths scare me. I usually make Jon give as many baths as possible when our babies were very tiny. Slippery, soapy babies are a GIGANTIC responsibility!

During this particular time Alina nearly slipped and fell into the water. My heart leaped from my chest as I envisioned the scary outcome we might have faced. I thought to myself about the danger in the water around her all while she plays without a care in the world. I felt a tug at my heart, about how I've been the same way with God. There have been countless times in my life when I KNOW He has protected me. No, I don't know exactly what I was saved from, because I was oblivious to it. But I do know, that He's the reason I have arrived where I am today with all the blessings surrounding me. Don't get me wrong, I think there are many times in our lives when God holds us responsible for certain things and there are other times when He does allow us to see some portion of what He's saved us from. But it's important to note that there are times in our lives when we need to rest and know that, when we aren't in a place to know better, He has and does protect us like the loving Father He is.