Finding God's grace in normal life

Monday, December 12, 2011

I Have Decided

Last night was a great night!  Resonate place, new life!  Our church moved locations because we outgrew our old one, and we had our baptism service.  God uses these services to remind me of how much he is working in and around us!

25 people, changed forever.

They decided to follow Jesus.

I decided to follow Jesus a long time ago, I've never looked back or doubted (by the grace of God).  Though I do believe I have to decide everyday too.

Little K is watching.

Princess K is watching.

Am I deciding everyday to follow Jesus?

Some days I follow my own way, it's not so good in the end.  I am impatient.  I like control.  I like exact expectations.  I hate mess.  When following my own way, these things trip me up.

It's not pretty.

Little K is getting curious about deciding to follow Jesus.  He's been asking questions, real questions.  I want with all my heart for him to decide to follow Jesus too.  I want to live purposeful and for him to see that following Jesus is better than not.

He told me the other day, "I asked God for it to snow on our Christmas Mom."  I told him God knows what is best and sometimes he answers our prayers with No.  He said, "but I asked him anyway Mom."  I smiled to myself and said a prayer for snow too.  If for no other reason than to show how big God is to a little boy hoping for a white Christmas.  I told Little K again, sometimes God's answer is Yes and sometimes it's No.  Little K said, "I hope it's Yes!" 

So Saturday we have Christmas, but even if it's not white and God doesn't answer all my prayers just like I want Him too.  I will decide to follow Jesus, one day at a time.  Sometimes one minute at a time.

I pray you have decided to follow Jesus too.

You can pray for snow if you want, Jesus cares about the desires of our hearts.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

I'm finding out...

Here are some things I'm finding out, in no particular order...

I'm finding out that my parents probably knew most of their Christmas presents before they opened them.

I'm finding out that making time to be intentional takes being intentional with your time.

I'm finding out that living as an imitator of God doesn't come natural when a whiny 3 year old doesn't like the position of her blanket covering her feet. 

I'm finding out that 18 year old Paige didn't know quite as much about the world as she thought she did when she went to college.

I'm finding out that being a parent is the second hardest and best thing I've ever done.  (1st is marriage)

I'm finding out to pray simply...Princess K at dinner recently, "Thank you God for lipstick, letters, and underwear."

I'm finding out that I only thought life was busy and I didn't have "free time" in my 20s.

I'm finding out grown-up conversations can be hard...refinance?  buy a car?  is life fulfilling? am I living my life on purpose?  am I teaching and loving my kids well?...but the vulnerability of having these conversations with my best friend is worth it.

I'm finding out that dying to myself to live as Christ is more complex than just thinking nice thoughts about people and letting someone else go first at a 4-way stop.

I'm finding out that life really does fly by and kids really do grow so fast.

I'm finding out that my kids are always watching and listening.

I'm finding out that not knowing everything about everything is ok...we have the internet!

I'm finding out that I now know why I believed my mom when she said she had eyes in the back of her head...there's nothing new under the sun.

I'm finding out that time with friends when you have a family looks much different than it did before kids, but just as sweet when it happens.

I'm finding out that starting a church is like having another child.

I'm finding out that I have a really blessed life watching my kids grow every inch.

I'm finding out that my life is richer if I laugh alot.

I'm finding out that kids are horrible liars.

I'm finding out that going to the mailbox is more fun as a kid.

I'm finding out that life is really more than I ever imagined it to be...really.

I'm finding out that God's ways are not my ways.

Just some things I'm finding out...

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Beauty in the Eye of the Creator

We were away with our church's staff, their families, and college students for a weekend retreat at a camp in the middle of nowhere central Oregon. My family as well as two of our “Fun Friend” families enjoyed the sunshine and also the ability to let our kids run free and play. During the time I was packing up our life back into the multiple bags and suitcases that had exploded over the past 3 days, Princess K runs into our room.

She is crying.

I look for blood.

She is hysterical and says with breathless sobs as she begins to take off her shoes, pants, etc...”I am not beautiful, I need my tutu.”

I relax a little for the fear of something being broken has diminished, but that fear is now being overtaken by my emotional heart. I am sad for her because in that moment she really believed that her tutu would somehow make her beautiful. I begin to talk and tell her it's not what makes her beautiful...she isn't listening but is now going through her bag to find the tutu. I realize she doesn't need me to talk, she needs a hug because in her world right then she isn't pretty. (Oh have I been there before.) I hold her and she fights me to get to the tutu...

...then she stops and melts in my arms...crying.

I stroke her hair, holding her and telling her what I always tell her in her ear, “You're precious to me,” and add on, “no matter what you are wearing.”

She calms down and I get the rest of the story...she was told she couldn't marry Little K, her big brother, because, well of course because he's her brother (which all the older kids tried to explain to her). One friend who is marriage material for Little K had a tutu on and declared herself what's a 3 year old to think but, “I need a tutu to be beautiful and be able to marry my brother.”

She needed that tutu NOW!

She calms down and somehow I convince her that she is beautiful without the tutu and she goes back out to join the kids who are now onto another game, long forgotten the “who's marrying who” game that tore apart Princess K's heart for a moment. She shakes it off.

Or did she.

I am a little teary-eyed as I watch her join the other kids again and think about how real her feelings are. How raw. How she really believed something that was NOT true even in the least bit. I make a mental note to make sure and whisper to her more often that God made her and thinks she's beautiful just the way she is because He sees her Heart. That I think she's beautiful just the way she is because she's made in God's image.

Not because of a tutu.

How many times do little girls hear, “You look so pretty,” when wearing a pretty dress? Countless times. Which is okay, but I have to be intentional to balance out all those sweet comments with words that encourage her in who she is, her character, her personality, her heart.


I want more than anything to make her believe her tutu is not what makes her beautiful, I involuntarily flash forward 10 years in my mind where I depict I will have the same conversation with her again and again, just not about a tutu.

I want her to know and believe with all her heart that what's on the inside lasts, not outward beauty. That her “beauty should not consist of outward things like elaborate hairstyles and the wearing of gold ornaments or fine clothes...” (1 Peter 3:3)

I want her to know that having a heart like Jesus is what makes her beautiful. To desire one thing: “to dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of her life, gazing on the beauty of the Lord and seeking Him.” (Psalm 27:4).

That is easier to say than to believe, but I will spend the rest of my parenting years trying to help her to believe it...

...and myself to.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Changes are a Comin'

Baby K is starting to break free from his swaddle.

Princess K likes to say, “I'll do it by myself mom.”

Little K told me as I walked away from his room, “Mom, you don't have to leave the hall lights on for me, I'm going right to sleep.”


Growing up.


Tears. (mine)

I know these are all little things, but they all mean that we are in forward motion...that we are changing, and each child is becoming more independent. Needing less of the comforts of the stage before. Less worried about getting help. Thankfully, I am still needed for kissing owies and giving hugs (and the less glamorous things too.) This is what we as parents want right? We want them to become self-sufficient in their hygiene and not continue to be scared of the dark. We want them to grow up.

Just not so fast.

I've been thinking lately about the realities of life. About all the things that Keith and I are sure to walk through in the next 50 years or so. Some of them will be tragic and heart-splitting, some of them will be just normal and non-emotive regular things, and some of them will be extraordinarily celebratory.

These thoughts that I'm thinking have made me ponder two things...

First...I'm so thankful to have, Keith, my best friend, the one I love beside me through what is to come, both happy and sad.

Second, seize the day.

Yep, seize it.

It may seem simple and mundane and even quite cliché, but I don't want to wish away today thinking about tomorrow. I have smiled more, and laughed more, and even slowed down and left dirty dishes in the sink longer. Instead of biding my time until “quiet/nap time” I want to embrace it. I want to cherish it.

Because one day too soon, my 3 K's will all be in school and my house will be empty during quiet time.

Everyone, and I really do mean everyone. Not in the “everybody's doing it, they have pink converse and I want them too” way, but I mean everyone who has kids further along in age then my own tells me, “enjoy this time, it goes way too fast.” I don't want to get on the other side of “this time” and wish I had cherished it more. I am just going to cherish it more.

When Little K was about 18 months old I taught him to smell flowers because otherwise he kept pulling the petals off. So he'd stop and smell flowers everywhere...weeds too. He was a fast learner and he stopped often to smell the flowers. I think of that lesson he taught me back then, take the time to smell the flowers because I started to get impatient with the thing I taught him. Then he learned to say, “mell it momma.” he wanted to share this gift with me. So...I stopped to smell them too.

Then I quit.

I'm starting again.

I'm cherishing each day as the gift God has intended it to we sing every morning on the way to school, “This is the day the Lord has made, Rejoice and be Glad in it.” Psalm 118:24

Rejoice and be glad in it.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Mama Bear Instincts

Recently, we were at the friendly place where the golden Arches hang, that place that kids know simply by the giant yellow icon that draws them in.  We were there on special Monday, when it's just $1.99 to have a meal that's suppose to make you happy...therefore there were lots of kids enjoying the white meat substances and greasy potatoes.  

I had delightfully sat down with two friends to enjoy some conversation while our kids ran around in the (impossible to climb quickly when your child cries) tubes and slides.

Another child that we didn't know came up to tell us our kids where being mean.  Then our kids came down saying the same thing, to which the stranger said oh it's not these kids it's another.  I know I was confused too.  The two of us peered into the structure not seeing another culprit in eyesight.  That's because he was hiding out!  A few minutes later he appeared and my friend and I made eye contact that said, "there he is, that rascal."  We continue to visit and the kids play...then it happened.

Hiding boy was crouched at the bottom of the slide when my son and his friend came down and sneaky was waiting with his fist ready and started pounding.  We jumped up and I saw the red mark under Little K's eye.  I did not see the swinging, though my friend did.  

At that moment, when Little K said with a quivering lip, "he hit me momma."  I understood what I've heard to be true of mama bears protecting their cubs.  I didn't want to hurt the poor perpetrator, but I did want to protect my son with all my might and right this injustice done to him.

I asked calmly, hoping that it wasn't purposeful, "with his elbow, or foot, maybe while you were sliding?"  Little K responds as he balls up his fist, "no with his fist right on my face."  

Another round of mama bear instincts went off.

I took a deep breath and calmly asked the little boy what happened.  Of course, he became mute upon his offense being brought into the light.  Then we went to talk to his mom and there was apologies and forgiveness as appropriate.  
What did I realize?  I realized how fiercely my heart goes into protection mode for one of my own.  I realized how much I wanted to right the injustice done, to bring the little guy's mistake to light and to bring about character change in him as well as take away the pain from my son.  I wanted to be angry, but when I looked into the offender's little shy eyes, I softened.  

I took him to his momma.  

When I looked into my son's eyes, I wanted to hug and make it all better, take away any pain.

I thought later that day how much God defends me, how much God loves me, how much he wants the best for me.  How he calls me His "royal priesthood, a people for His own possession," (1 Peter 2:9).  He wants to take care of me and see me love Him more.  What this verse says is I am in God's family.

He is the King, we are sons and daughters of the King.

When my offenses are brought into the light, am I like the fighter at the playground?  Do I look the other way or blame something else...or am I quick to apologize, ask forgiveness and walk in the light?

I felt just a glimpse of the heart of God, in wanting to stand for those who have been offended.  In wanting to bring sin to light so that reconciliation can happen.  I cannot begin to imagine how much God loves me, but as I move and navigate in this world with three little jewels that look like me and my husband I learn a little bit more about the depth of my Heavenly Father's love for me.

I'm thankful that God loves me more than a momma bear and her cub.  I don't fully understand, but I want to continue learning more about that love for the rest of my life.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

When did I become me?

Recently Princess K has been talking about birthday parties.  I guess when you're 3 and you have no concept of time and an active imagination you think about fun things people can do for you.  

She has been choosing everyone's birthday theme according to what she deems appropriate. 

She's chosen hers, her brothers, some friends and neighbors.  She simply looks at them and says, "Yours will be...."  to which most reply, "what are you talking about?"  This doesn't stop her, she's on a mission.  

The other day she was on her choosing cycle again and said this...
"Mine will be princess, Little K's will be dinosaurs, Baby K's will be (giggling) babies, Daddy's will be motorcycles, and Mommy's will be....pause as she thinks of what my party theme will be.

I'm thinking of all the possibilities she has to choose from.  Will she say, "Laundry washer, kitchen sweeper, bathtub scrubber, bottom wiper, mealtime chef, sharing enforcer, hug giver??"
She was still thinking and saying over and over, "Mommy's will be uh uh uh uh..."

She finally says, with a huge oversized smile and a twinkle in her eye, "Just Mommies."

Yep that about sums it up I guess.  

I am Mommy.  

When did I become me?  

I like this me, but it's different than it used to be.  I still try to be organized and plan ahead and know what to expect in any given situation.  But, I forget things, retrace my steps alot, often while saying, "It's not ok to hit your brother," or "remember to use kind words instead of your hands."  I am still me, I'm just different.  I have been given 3 wonderful little lives to mold and shape.  I pray everyday that I am training them up in the way they should go.
This made me think about a journal prayer I wrote awhile back, one I actually put in a scrapbook, that I actually pull out and read every now and then.  

It helps remind me when I became the me that I am.

I wrote this on 12-14-2008
"My passion in life has changed, that's okay-my passion used to be different, now it's little people, my little people...(a smile, a hug, a kiss, a cry).  My passion used to have more status and measurable success, now my passions are a blank slate, a willing heart, an impressionable mind.  My passion used to fuel my personality and drive me to a place and a my passion goes wherever I go and drives my every thought and decision.  My passion now makes life harder, but richer.  My passion shows me how Jesus loves me as His child, how he would give anything for me, how He did give everything for me, my passion interrupts my daily life and agenda-changes my plans, but the plans are much more meaningful now, more important!  I feel that my life has taken a turn-sometimes I don't feel like me, maybe because I'm someone new and different, I have changed just like my passion and maybe that's okay."

God promises in Jeremiah 29:11 that He knows the plans He has for me, plans to give me a hope and a future.  I have held onto this verse as my favorite for over a decade.  God knows what is best and has blessed me with these.  He knew I would become this me way before I did.

So maybe I would have a mommy party.  Where my treasure is there is my heart.

And that would reveal my passion.  That would reveal my heart.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

introducing satan...

After church the kids and I were sitting at the table over our regular sunday night dinner of oatmeal, and Karson was talking to Karis about how we don't hate people. I had a momentary memory of my childhood in which I used to tell my parents goodnight and say, "I love everybody, but it's okay to hate the devil." As a child, I knew he must not be good if mom would let me say hate about him. As I remembered this standing in my own kitchen listening to my own kids talk about life, I said in a low voice, almost involuntarily while lost in my thoughts, "you can hate the devil," of course this comment didn't go unnoticed by the big kids.

"Mom, who's the devil?" Karson asked.

"He doesn't like God, and he doesn't love us. He wants us to disobey God."

"Oh, so is he a person?"

"No, he's not." (how do you explain this to a 5 and 3 yr. old?) "He wants you to not listen to God and not love God."

"So he talks to me like God does?"

yikes!!! No back up this isn't where I want this to go...

"He can put thoughts in your head and then you have a choice to listen to God or Satan (I take a moment to explain that most of the time he's called Satan, I didn't want any pitched forked figures to corrupt the reality of Satan's existence.)

"Oh he's the snake with Eve"

"Yes he was a snake in the garden with Adam and Eve" (lovely how even he takes Adam out of the picture when Eve bit the apple, ha ha).

So in all 5 year old wisdom, my son takes a breath and explains it way better than I was doing..."When I am in kindergarten and I think I want to hit someone and I lift my fist (as he does so with oatmeal on his fingers), then I hear God say to my heart, 'stop, I don't want you to do that' then I think and put my fist down."

Ummm, that's good stuff.

"Yes, Karson I think you understand." As I smile at the understanding he assumes.

He replies, "Jesus is a superhero, but without a cape." Interesting train of thought but we go with it.

"I think he is too, tell me why you think so."

"Because He loves us and protects us."

"He sure does sweet boy."

"Well, I love Jesus so can I hate the devil too?"

I take a deep breath and think quickly about all possible ramifications of my answer...

"Yes Karson you can hate the devil too."

I reflected on this and thought of a Heb 10:39, "We are NOT of those who shrink back and are destroyed, we are of those who believe and are saved." What power knowing that Jesus is my superhero brings upon my heart, believing that we have the strength to hate what is evil and do what is good. I don't want to choose to "hit" people with my words because I'm impatient or frustrated or late. I want to have the patience to love all people, except the devil of course.

I just simply have to listen to what God "says to my heart."