Wednesday, July 22, 2015

A Big Day for Hayden

Summer is winding down and the countdown to the first day of school has begun.  We were privileged to make lots of memories this summer together as a family and with friends both near and far.  

Poolside junk food, amusement parks, lazy beach days, and campfires defined many of our days.

Yet there was one day that stood above the rest, and will continue to be the highlight of the Summer of 2015 for the Lang Gang.



Hayden, our second born (10 1/2 years old), had been asking to be baptized for about a year.  He was young, about 5 or so, when he decided he wanted to be a Christ Follower.  So we wanted to make absolutely sure that he was ready to make the decision to be baptized.  

For any of you who might be new to this language: after dedicating your life to Jesus Christ, baptism is the next step in your spiritual journey symbolizing a new life free from the guilt and shame of sin.

In our church, we believe that baptism should be done soon after the new Christ Follower has decided to make their belief public.  In other words, as soon as they understand that the New Testament urges Christ Followers to be baptized as a declaration of their faith to others, they should do it!

As Hayden asked about baptism throughout the year, we talked it out with him and looked over scripture that helped him understand exactly what baptism meant.  Together with Hayden, we decided that the beach where Hunter and Brandon were baptized would be a meaningful place to continue the tradition.

Hayden wrote down a statement of his faith, and also publicly answered a few questions.

Many Christ Followers get baptized by their pastor, or other elders in their church. This is absolutely fine!  For us, it was much more personal for Hayden's older brother and Daddy to be the ones baptizing him.  We did it right there on the beach in front of everybody and had grandparents and a few cousins, uncles, and aunts there as well.  

We are so proud of you Hayden and your decision to publicly tell the world that you love Jesus and you plan on following Him forever.  You have the most tender heart.  You are easy-going, yet strong in character.  Daddy and I love you so much.

What a privilege, what a day!





Thursday, June 18, 2015

(Reluctant) Preacher Girl



I used to be mesmerized by the women who stood in front of me on the stage teaching either from a DVD, or live at a christian conference. These strong godly women all seemed to have perfectly colored hair and the cutest shoes and accessories; as well as the most important attribute, a dynamic faith in our Creator. 

For years I listened and learned, and wondered how on earth they were able to do “it” all so perfectly.

I wasn’t judging. But, I admit, I was a bit envious. I wanted to know why they seemed to have it all figured out but I still struggled with so many shortcomings. Knowing that God had called me with a passion for leading others into the journey of Spiritual Growth, I felt like I had the gifts, but not the tools.

One morning, on my way to drop my 3 year old off at pre-school, God showed up in an unbelievable way.  He let me know it was time for a hard conversation.

After years of attempting and failing miserably on the perfection train, I was halted by the God I had worshipped my entire life. 

The God I had always adored, yet never realized that He really wanted to be a part of every aspect of my life. 

He wanted to get into my world and transform me from the inside out. 

He not only wanted me to know my gifts, but was now equipping me to use them.

I realized that I was exhausted from trying to make sense of how in the world I would ever be a "voice in the wilderness" while my own weaknesses were innumerable.

God, I am unequipped.
I’m a wife and a mom.
I have cartoons playing in the background as I type.


Because I was drained (and out of excuses), I was finally willing to listen to God’s side of the story. Without much convincing, I waved the white flag of incompetency and let Him take the reigns.

Now, as I stand before hundreds of women as that same “preacher girl” I used to be in awe of, I realize that the women who have gone before me are not that much more gifted or equipped. They were just much further along in their faith and were allowing God to use them way beyond their own capabilities.

Often I will tell anyone who will listen how inadequate I am, and how I could name 20 women that seem to have it more together than I do. And 20 more women who seemingly “deserve” to have the kind of influence that God is trusting me with.

Yet, He chose me. Stumbling, not so cute, fumbles around her words...me.

Somehow those honest and authentic words endure me to the group I stand in front of and they realize they can trust what I say.  They know that I know that we are the same.

Humbly I approach the throne of grace, and undeservingly I accept His call. 

Click here to see a list of topics that I am currently speaking on: http://www.christinalang.me/speaking/

And, if you want to talk to me about coming to your church or event, email langgangmama (at) gmail (dot) com.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Why I talked to my kids about Josh Duggar

Intentional Parenting (parenting from a perspective that is thoughtful and deliberate) requires the parent to be proactive rather than reactive.  As much as I would love to sweep the awful "child molesting" conversation under the rug, because of recent headlines regarding Josh Duggar, I just can't.

One of the worst (yet worth it) parenting moments, from my perspective, is telling your child something for the very first time, knowing that you are taking an "innocence" from them that they will never again behold.

The look on their faces can be devastating as a mama, but as an intentional parent who desires to raise my children in an authentic home where no conversation is off the table, I know it is better that those hard conversations come from us first.

We know that kids talk on the playground.  Despite some very well-meaning parents, by the time they feel that certain "hard" conversations are appropriate, their child has most likely already been discussing many of those topics with their friends.  This means that the parent is conversing with a child who is now embarrassed that an adult is even talking to them about it because they believe that with their friends is the place to get the real scoop.

Are you still with me?

Call us crazy, but we want to be the first into our child's ears. We deliberately help them lay the foundation of truth for which all other facts and fallacies will rest upon.

We do the "sex" talk at 8 years old.  We did the porn talk at 10 years old (statistically this is the age it is first introduced...can you believe it??)

That's why I sat down with my 12 and 10 year old boys and talked to them about Josh Duggar.

(My 7, 6,  and 5 year old sons and 4 year old daughter had separate conversations with me, age appropriate, and as reinforcement of boundaries we have been helping them set since they were babies.)

I have always talked very openly with my kids about their bodies.   We talk in excess about what is appropriate and what is not.  I use formal words, not nicknames.  I am very graphic about healthy touches and unhealthy touches.  They know that if they ever feel uncomfortable in a situation, or if they have any questions their daddy and I are available at all times.  We won't be mad, we won't laugh.  We will do anything we can to help.

What we had not yet addressed was the perpetrator angle.  As parents, we want to assume that our children would never be capable of harming someone else.  Well, I am sure that the Duggars were devastated to learn the shortcomings of their oldest son, and that he had indeed hurt many others around him.  I am sure they never dreamed such an awful thing would ever come up.

So this past weekend, we took an hour to have a hard conversation.  I winced at the look on my boys' faces when they learned what can happen when kids don't understand appropriate boundaries.  They learned the word molest.  We were graphic in our conversation and allowed them to be graphic in their questions.  I didn't want to leave anything out that would cause them to walk away confused.  It was awful and hard.  I wish that I didn't have to tell my kids that we are all sinful people and that Satan wants nothing more than to destroy Christian families who are raising world-changers for Christ.

So, what good came out of it?

*We reinforced some really good boundaries.

*We were able to remind the boys why they don't shower their sister, or climb into bed with their cousins, or cuddle under blankets with anyone.  Why we are really, really strict about where they spend the night.

*We reminded them that our home should always be the SAFEST place for anyone who walks through its doors.

*I told them that I TRUSTED them and they had NEVER given me reason to believe otherwise.  But I also explained that this kind of conversation cannot happen after it is too late. I never want to regret not openly discussing healthy boundaries, as uncomfortable as it can be.

*We reminded them that as they grow and their bodies change and their thoughts change they will most likely have questions about certain things.  Brandon reinforced his role as their father/mentor who will do his very best to walk them through any issue that comes up.  We also reminded them that we have deliberately surrounded them with trustworthy people.  Grandparents, aunts, uncles, even naming close friends who we trust if they need an adult but don't want a parent.

*Again, we wanted them to know that their character has proven to be trustworthy.  Yet, because we live in a fallen world, we have to set ourselves up to be able to stand up against wicked schemes.

*We also told them that all people who make mistakes, and repent are not wicked.  But, some mistakes, even those made in childhood have the power to follow you until you die.  In our "me-centered" society one of the deepest pitfalls is thinking that this "little thing" won't affect anyone else.

Teaching our kids to live intentionally also means that they learn to live proactively rather than reactively.  I know that we cannot possibly prepare them for everything that is going to get in their way.

But I want to be able to say that I did the best I could.

Having the hard conversations now, will hopefully curtail harder conversations later.

Geez, parenting is so not for wimps.




Thursday, April 30, 2015

Hello Kindness

In my high school and college days I wrestled with the need to have an answer to every question and situation.  Ok, let's be honest, I still struggle with this, but I am hoping that some maturity has occurred; and for the past several years I have been working on keeping my mouth shut and my overly emotional opinions to a minimum (I did say working).



More than that, I am daily working on keeping my heart and mind open.

When we learn to accept and love others that we don't agree with, we are actively engaging in the act of laying ourselves down.

I regain my life and my purpose every time I lay myself down.

In contrary to this, when my mind is made up about another person, after a quick observation judgement, I can decide their entire life within 5 seconds. I measure their worth using an imaginary stick, quickly deciding if I agree or disagree with their actions and outward presence.

In those 5 seconds, I am completely missing the point.

The entire process of loving another gets tossed.

So how do we consistently immerse ourselves into humankindness?  How do we learn to not observe, measure, and then decide?  What is true kindness?

It comes down to something so basic.

Love.

Matthew 22 sums it up: Love God.  Love Others.

If my day is spent loving God well, then loving others is a natural next option.  Something deeply spiritual happens when I meditate on my deep love of my Creator.  Not only do I regain a humble posture, but I also can't help but begin to curate a deep compassionate love for anyone in my path.

The outward appearance and measurable actions of another shrink.

I no longer worry that loving them will confuse them.

Because...

Love Brings Clarity.

Love doesn't toughen judgement, it softens it.

So when a conversation between a news anchor and a former athlete who is transgender air on primetime:  My reaction is not that of disdain or disgust.

I am truly interested in his story and why he feels the way he does.  I am not attracted to his fame, and especially not the reality show that has kept his name in the public eye.  I care because he is a human being and a child of God.  He is someone who my God looks on compassionately and lovingly, therefore I will do the same.

When ISIS killings, Baltimore riots, and business-owners losing their livelihoods over workable disagreements take over my feed... I am not surprised.  

Deeply saddened?  Yes.  

Surprised? No.

It turns out that the Bible has a simple answer to our anguish:
Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ has also forgiven you.  Ephesians 4:32

God has forgiven me over and over.  It's a total miracle that He is still forgiving me today.  This verse in Ephesians does not say to be kind if the person deserves your kindness.  It does not say to be kind only if they are "sorry" for their actions.  

It simply says to Be Kind.

Be Tender-hearted. 

Forgive.  

Oh the simplicity those words could contain, yet the weight we heave upon them.  

I'm glad God allows it to be simple for me.
Hello Kindness, thank you for being the answer we are all looking for.  








Monday, March 9, 2015

Spring Break with SIX

It's Monday morning of the first official day of Spring Break and my throat is already scratchy from refereeing eternal disputes in droves (that's my LEGO guy....no, it's mine).  

I thought turning on cartoons (the kind with commercials, the kind I NEVER let them watch) would be enough to entertain and occupy 6 people for a few hours.  WRONG!  
(He's touching me, she took my blanket, I spilled my milk)

I made myself a second cuppa coffee and stole away into the other room with my laptop and calendar to try and wade through 8 agendas, making notes here and there of which days I will need my go-go-gadget octopus arms to kick in. (pretty much every day by the way)

Social Media doesn't always say it so bluntly- in fact those of us with big families really do believe that bigger is better.  But there are times, like right now, that big families are HARD.  I have three boys separated by floors so that I can actually think.  The bigger they get, the louder they get.  

5 little boys want to play on spring sports teams and my sweet girl needs to learn how to be a little more girly and should probably start ballet or something feminine since right now she is downstairs playing NERF war, and last night she "tackled" another girl because she wanted to be her friend????

Someone always needs something.

There is always a mess to clean. 

The laundry is never done.

and No, we cannot go to the movies because it costs $60 just to walk through the door. 

So I just sit for a moment and watch the giggly two "babies" run circles around the kitchen, through the dining room, and the hallway.  They are 10 months apart and to my surprise actually love each other 90% of the time.  

People still ask me how I do it, and my answer is still, "I don't know."  If you have a big family, and you clicked on this for a few tips on how to survive with a gaggle of littles , you are probably thinking to read on would be a waste of time.  

There is no magic formula that works for every family.  For some it's structure, for others it's the lack of.   

But oh my word, no holiday will ever be lonely.  

And someday we will have like a gazillion grandchildren.  

I can almost guarantee at least some acknowledgement every Mother's Day for the rest of my life- and maybe someday I will actually miss matching socks in baskets for days.

I can be real about the chaos.  I can even admit that every once in awhile I daydream about being a lonely, single girl holed up under a giant comforter, wearing homely mismatched jammies reading romance novels.

Just because I have a lot of kids, doesn't mean that I have super-human powers.  

I also wouldn't have it any other way.  This is the only, and I mean only, life that I know that I am really accomplishing what I have been placed on this planet to do.  All of the other stuff is fluff and extras.  I want to do it well.  I don't just want to raise my people without Red Dye 40 and the appropriate amount of Vitamin D for healthy teeth.  

Big families develop big character.  Not just in the kids, but in the parents too.  God knew that I needed many, many trying personalities coming at me all day long because I have the worst tendency to think about myself and only myself.

So even though it would be nice to sulk (sometimes I wish I didn't know any better and I could be ok with a week long sulk fest)-- I just can't.  I am way too grateful for my loud and obnoxious gang.  They bring me the most joy.  More than any girls's night out or luxury vacation. 

Once upon a time I actually vacationed in Cancun in a bikini for Spring Break.  This year I will make endless jelly sandwiches, wipe noses, stock up on snacks for a herd, and go to bed exhausted.  To know that I spent my days keeping little people alive doesn't always "feel" like a lot.  Many nights I lay in my bed unable to recall exactly what I did to be so tired.

but believe me, it's the best kind of tired.  Happy Spring Break Mamas:)


Tuesday, January 27, 2015

A Sneak Peak at ExtraOrdinary

ExtraOrdinary has been out for a couple of weeks now and I am overwhelmed by the response.  It is so humbling to have neighbors drop by house to tell me that they are getting together weekly to go through my study!  Wow.  

I am feeling the weight of this gift, and if you are a pray-er, please keep myself and my family in your prayers.  I desire to do it all well, and God constantly reminds me that without Him I can do nothing.  So, eeping along I trust Jesus for the next step of this journey.  I truly love it!

If you still haven't gotten a copy of ExtraOrdinary, I thought I would give you a sneak peak at one of the days so you can get a look at how it is laid out:

Week 2, Day 5 (an excerpt)

Love As I Have Loved
Today we are going to wrap up our time with John.  We have watched him follow Christ from the Sea of Galilee to Jerusalem.  This is the moment he follows him to the cross as Jesus breathes his last.  

Read John 19:25-27

Powerful.  I just read those three verses 9 times. I can almost feel the weight of the air the witnesses heaved as they watched their son, nephew, and best friend brutally tortured and hung high in the air for all to see.  

Powerless.  It’s how I feel right now as I want to hold Mary, Jesus’ mother, and tell her the glory of the third day.  And dear John.  The most loyal friend. The one whom we should all strive to be.  Where is he?  Right there with them.  Not sleeping this time.  Not looking away from the anguish.  But barely hanging on at the foot of the cross as he helplessly waits for the inevitable.  

 Jesus words were probably a bit breathy and barely there, but he managed to address both Mary and John.  What did he say to them?

2.  Where did Mary live from that time on?

The love that Jesus had for his mother and John are evident in this scene.  His thoughts are still on those he felt responsibility for.  Again, his humanity and deity collide in this moment as the God of the world painfully suffered in the flesh and empathized with the two who had a large piece of his human heart.

Friend, you were on his heart too. Just as he took on the responsibility for Mary and John who had captured his human heart, you were there when He took on the world as only the Creator of your soul could do.  

Can you see yourself in his eyes as he closes them for the last time before his final breath?  
Take a moment and let this sink in.

Jesus did not endure the anguish in the garden and death on the cross for you and I to walk around namby-pamby.  God didn’t create you with unique gifting and talents so that you can either bury them or parade them for your own glory.  His plan is so much bigger!  

Death on a cross does not equal ordinary living.  He is so much greater than that!  He deserves so much more from you than your lackadaisical choices.

3.  How are you feeling right now?  Does this make you uneasy, irritated, or energized?

John understood this.  He followed Jesus from the moment he left the family business to the last moment on the cross. He followed him all the days of his life dedicating his last years to writing several books in the New Testament.  His proclamation of the miracle working God that he loved still changes lives today.  His words are still seen at just about every televised sporting event.

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.  John 3:16

This ordinary guy achieved extraordinary feats as he woke up every morning and said yes to the Savior.  He didn’t take special classes or have a degree in friendship.  He studied love.  More than studying, he lived it.  

My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you.  Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.  John 15:12-13

And the day continues, but I don't want to give away all of the surprises.  If you haven't yet gotten your hands on ExtraOrdinary, you can here on Amazon.  You can also catch a week or two of the live teaching happening now at (MISSION) if you are a local Phoenix girl.  

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

New Website!

Dear Faithful Readers,

ExtraOrdinary is so, so, so close to launching that I am having a hard time sleeping.  If you haven't checked out my new author site, please do, and make sure that you sign up to get updates through my newsletters.  I promise not to flood your inbox, but in the next few weeks there will be announcements that you don't want to miss.  (If this is news to you, check out the blog where I introduced the study here).



Because you have been my loyal readers for years, I will tell you that I will be doing a HUGE giveaway of books at the end of this month.  ExtraOrdinary for free?  Yep!!  Because you guys know me better than anyone, I am really counting on you to help me spread the word.

All of my social media channels have information about ExtraOrdinary, and you could do me a HUGE favor and start talking about ExtraOrdinary on your social media outlets!

Whatever you fancy...it is available.

*Re-pin onto your board from my Pinterest boards here.
*Like/Share Instagram memes here.
*Share my Facebook Author page here.
*I even tweet (sort of) here.

And of course, let people know that they can get all of the information for ExtraOrdinary at www.christinalang.me

All of this hype and sharing stuff is wayyyyyyy out of my comfort zone....but, it has to be done so the folks are in the know.

Thank you again for your support.  Regularly scheduled blogging will resume...someday.  xoxox

Monday, December 29, 2014

Chick-Fil-A Mama

In an attempt to change the scenery, I set out with Huck and Holden to do a little writing at Chick-Fil-A this morning.  Endless hot coffee, an area for the boys to run around, and free wifi are the biggest perks to this fabulous locale.

As I found my seat close to the play area, it didn't take more than a minute for me to realize that the only other patrons in the booth next to me were here for a birth mom's state supervised visit.

I immediately felt empathy for both the birth mom and the foster mom.  And of course my heart was on my sleeve for the two precious little girls, who I found out were 8 months and 22 months old.

It was apparent that the birth mom had never parented outside of a visit, and by how well her daughters knew her, these visits probably didn't happen that often.  All of the gear for the visit took up two tables as the foster mom had packed lots of toys, books, etc, to keep the busy little babes happy for some time.

The foster mom tried to let the birth mom parent.  I watched her mothering skills struggle and from insecurity she constantly defaulted to the foster mom's experience.

Can I give her this bite of bread?  Is it too big?

I brought pink nail polish to paint her little nails.  I want to make her look pretty.

Can you say mama?

I tried not to stare, and it took everything in me to smile sweetly and let them have their time.  The last thing they need in these precious moments are gawking strangers.

I thought of Holden, who played so well with the little girls as their mom tried to capture a few photos with her phone.  She awkwardly tried to cuddle on her babes, and they turned their faces from this lady who called herself mom.

Holden was the same age as he would have met with his birth mom in parks and fast food places for visits.  From the book I received on his adoption day, the visits would have been similar with the awkward parenting and lots of toys.

I think of my two adopted children's birth mom.  I wonder if she is sitting in a supervised visit somewhere.  I am hoping not.  I pray everyday that she will wake up in the morning and decide that today would be the day to seek healing from her painful losses.  She has every reason to not have the tenacity to parent, and I thank her for carrying her babes full term.

Even though the system is what we all call "broken," without it, these children could be on the streets, as they are in many other countries.

Families are broken too.
We all need grace.

My heart turns to the broken families ending 2014, and a desire for all to walk towards healing in 2015.  The end of the story is unwritten.  For more information on how to walk beside a foster family, or how to become one, (if you are in Arizona) contact Esther's Hope at MISSION Community Church.  If you live in another state contact adoptUSKids.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Merry Christmas...How's your marriage?

Christmas (and holidays in general) magnify issues.  

*If you have an issue with a family member, it is generally bigger at Christmas.
*If you are having financial difficulties, the holidays make the lack of cash an even deeper sting.
*If you have a child that is struggling, chances are, the Christmas Day meltdown could be epic.  

You get my drift.

So, what's going on in your marriage that is going to be magnified this season?  

You have a few day before the actual holiday to make a mends and work through whatever it is that has been simmering since August.

Please don't rush out and buy your spouse another pricey gadget to show your affection.  Instead, surrender your idea of a consumer Christmas and give your spouse the kind of gift they should be receiving every day from you.

You can wrap it if you want, you can even put it under the tree.  When they open it, they will be speechless, and chances are it will change your whole day.  It will probably change your whole next year if you really mean what you say (word of caution, if you don't mean it, then don't say it).

If you know you need to do this, but can't find the words, maybe some of these will inspire you:

Merry Christmas.  I am giving you the gift of honesty.

I am giving you the gift of time.

I am giving you myself.

Merry Christmas.  Here is my cell phone, my ipad, my xbox.  It's yours for the day. All I want is you.

Personalize your gift so that your spouse knows it is from the heart.  And enjoy each other.  I hope this holiday is the best you have ever had.  You might even start a new gift giving tradition.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

"Now" is your Best Gift

I've heard people say that life is a series of moments.  Each moment leading up to the next, every one preparing you for the now.

If you believe that, then anxiety should be non-existent, and we would all be very grateful for each place that we find ourselves in.  I don't meet very many people who are actually at peace with their "now."

I meet a lot of Should Haves and Would Haves.
I've also met some, If Onlys, Cannots, and Somedays.

This past weekend we celebrated my step-dad's 70th birthday.  The most remarkable moment of the whole party was when he saw that his 90 year old mother had come out from California to celebrate with him.
Julie Griffin Photography captures the miracle moment

What an instant reminder to all of us who witnessed this reunion that life is fleeting and each moment is for a reason.  
The holidays are filled with enough "moments' to last you for the year.  Instead of allowing them to overwhelm you, remember that your life is not your own.  Unlike any present on your list to purchase, the place you are right now is a gift that can never be returned.

S-L-O-W down and enjoy each one.  Merry Christmas.