Friday, April 11, 2014

My Weakness, His Strength

Have you ever experienced a great high in life, maybe physical or spiritual only to be catapulted into a severe low before you even had a chance to really revel in the glories of your high?

As women we place ideals before us about our days, our husbands, our image, and our future.  These ideals start as little girls watching a scene unfold in every princess tale we read about.  The boy meeting the girl and getting whisked away into the sunset for a happily ever after.  As an avid goal setter, I am not about to say that we shouldn’t set goals, or have ideals for the way we would like our life to play out.  I am cautioning us as women, to not be so wrapped up in our plans that we completely lose it when life takes a detour.

Because here is the truth:

As the slow fade of reality unveils itself and all we have left is our weakness, there before us are the pieces of a messy life.  The ideals that once motivated us are now a mixing pot of plans, and our lives become more about trying to put it all back together than the altruistic days of dreaming.


We have two choices.  Either to accept our reality and step into freedom in Christ, or to slowly sink into the depression of what-ifs and have-nots.

God uses our weaknesses to finally get through to us.  It is only when we get to the end of our rope, with nothing left to hang onto that we finally cry out to God in exasperation to come and rescue us. In reality, he was there all along at the bottom of the rope begging us to let go.

He is waiting for you right now.  He sees you hanging on to that rope.  He threw it out there in an attempt to rescue you from yourself.  All you have to do is let go.  

And for the girl out there who is thinking about her best friend....Your weaknesses are not the same as hers.  I know as women we like to do things together.  But this isn’t the same as taking your friend to the potty with you.  No girl finds freedom hanging onto their best friend’s ankle.  Jesus, in his desire for personal relationship, pulls each person out one at a time as they individually surrender.

What does it mean to surrender?  To break free of a stronghold? How do we let him be strong in our weakness?  I realize that for some of you these are Christian terms that might be hard to wrap your mind around what is really being said here.  So I am going to break it down into three very practical ways to identify weaknesses and surrender them to Christ.

How do we let Him be strong in our weaknesses?  

1- Admit my weaknesses.
This can mean simply saying it out loud, it can also mean that you need have a conversation with someone is your life and ask for help.

 We alone cannot fix our addictions, our loneliness, our anxiety, our humanity, our anger, our food issues, our lack of self worth...

We bring it into the presence of Christ and let it go.

I do this by using I am statements, which remind me of God’s sovereignty:

I am strong because He is strong.

I am beautiful because He is beautiful.

I am worthy because He is worthy.

I am loved because He is Love.

2- Quit Comparing.
Comparison will kick you in the teeth and hijack your dreams every time
I often fall into the pit of comparison.  This leaves me feeling fearful, inadequate, and lacking confidence.  

3- Accept that you are loved.  
Just as you are.  Do you even know how much He loves you?  Even if you never did one more thing, Our Father in Heaven will never stop loving you.  He loved you before you knew who He was, and He will continue to love you for all of eternity.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Do you Speak the Truth, Yet Believe the Lie?

I don't post much about my workouts, body image, or even eating habits for that matter.  All of these aspects to physical fitness are extremely important to me.

But, the rotten truth is, I feel completely unworthy to talk about any of it.

Give me the platform for parenting, marriage, missional living, spiritual growth, really ANYTHING but my body and I feel confident enough to share a little truth, and at the very least, a lot of opinion.

But ask me about my workout this morning, or expect me to post on Facebook about my last run?  (I am laughing at even typing that one).

So what is it?  How come I, a seemingly confident woman, who knows that she is loved and accepted... made in the image of God, created to be an individual, etc, etc... How can I be so insecure with one of the most important gifts that God has given to me?

So here it is:  No matter how much truth I digest about the marks of a woman, why brains are better than beauty, and on and on and on...I still know that many people, even many Christian women, believe that our physical beauty is dependent on

our weight,

our diet,

our make-up,

our outfit,

our measurements,

how far we run,

and more.

We speak the truth, yet believe the lie.

Our self-esteem is destroyed by billboards and bad photoshop (see this Target ad).

We know that Psalm 139 says that we are God's workmanship, and his works are wonderful!  But we believe that we can destroy something wonderful by authentic living, real living that is hard, and bloody, and real.

Do you not think that God made our skin to stretch? Do you not think that he gave us those marks to remind us of the beauty of life?

Remind us of endurance?

Remind us of growth?

I want to live in a world where I can feel confident in front of a mirror.  I want to live in that place where we can all sport our marks as trophies and triumphs.  I want my body to be a testimony to how far I have come.

I suppose I am writing this today as a plea to be held accountable.

As a woman.

As a friend.

As a mother.

Because I know that the world we live in doesn't really esteem scars.

We pay to erase them.

Please do not laugh anymore at my remarks when I jiggle my thighs, or pinch the mommy pocket.  Don't let me complain that feeding my children ruined my boobs.  Don't ever let me say that I am too tall, not tall enough, my feet are too big, my cheeks too round, my butt too...well, let's leave it at that.

It should not be socially acceptable to criticize our bodies.  Let's not allow it any longer.

We say we don't compare, but then we stand there and compare.

And just so you know?  I'm done.

How about you?  Because, you?  The one reading this?  You are beautiful.  And so am I.




Friday, February 21, 2014

How BIG is that Mountain?

Springtime in Arizona is why we endure the summer.  Memories of orange blossoms, cool breezes and warm days are what get us through the awful hot months once they arrive and feel like they might never leave.

fyi--->(this is not a brag post for my friends buried in snow, if you happen to be sipping from a hot mug in your warm house right now, please know there is a part of me that is a little jealous, and will be A LOT jealous once August hits).  

Along with perfect outdoor temps, we also claim some of the best hiking trails in the west.  People really do come from all over to blaze a trail in the warm sun that melts away into cool nights.


Last weekend our gang of 8 tried out one of the rockier trails that boasted of scenic views, a small waterfall, and hieroglyphics etched into the rocks at the top.   Knowing it was only a three mile hike, we had high hopes that our kiddos could definitely master the trail.  We also knew that our ability to keep their eyes on the prize would be half the battle.

As the little legs in front of me began to tire, Brandon and I changed gears from trailblazer to motivational speaker...

Just one foot in front of the other buddy.

Focus only on each next step, and before you know it you will be at the top.

Oh you just wait till we get there, you will be so proud of yourself

Believe you can and you are halfway there (ok, I didn't really say that one, but I would have sounded really inspirational, right?)

And those little legs kept climbing.  Some steps slipping as their child-sized foot barely reached the next rock, but still etching forward to the goal none-the-less.

While taking in the views of the mountain my thoughts began racing ahead of me, whispering back to me from the top. I was reminded of a conversation that my sister-in-law and I had a few days prior about people in crisis.  Not the emergency kind of crisis, but the kind that sets a person's entire gait on walking through the door that may bring the least amount of pain.

Survival Mode.  Many people wake up to one more day of barely there.

They've been there so long they don't even know what life could look like without the fog of dangling.

Sometimes I would love to just go on a simple hike, but with time and maturity I am learning that even a walk can turn into a full blown spiritual lesson.  Sometimes my lessons include immediate action, and other times He just wants me to listen.  All at once the desert became my classroom, the trail my desk, and my Heavenly Father the perfect teacher.

As I listened, my thoughts illustrated in the dust with every step.  Every rock that tumbled, every person that I passed became part of the purpose.

...and we met many people on the trail that day.  Did you know that hikers are super friendly?  And if you want to talk to ALL of them then climb a mountain with 6 kids.  They'll be stopping to give you water even if you don't need it (ask me how I know).

As we passed the strangers, I smiled and said hello.  My gaze met their eyes, and I wondered what mountain they were really climbing that day.  We were all in the same place, on the same trail.  The nudging inside whispered to me that each one had their very own mountain.


It started with my own children.  I was at the back of the pack watching their little calves tighten with each step.  I know their mountains, mostly.  As my older ones navigate the tween years I prayed again that they would always allow their mama to hike with them up any trail, no matter the pain, we'll endure it together.

Little people tend to have little mountains, but to anyone, no matter the size, standing in front of a giant obstacle that is bigger than you is big.  No matter what size it actually is.

I thought of one of my sons who has prayed every night for help to pass a math test. Math is his mountain right now.

I have another son whose mountain is keeping his hands to himself and his mouth quiet at the appropriate times.

And my daughter, who has climbed more mountains already in 3 1/2 years of life than anyone I know.  She's still a little wobbly, but that girl is a climber.  And a fighter. And her story at the top will be one that I want to hear.  I don't want to miss a step of her journey.

And as I listened, and watched, and motivated, and smiled Jesus gently reminded me that everyone is climbing a mountain.

While my person wants to judge and question, my spiritual is in tact to whisper remembrances of their mountain.  Each one's mountain.  Standing toe-to-the-edge of what seems insurmountable.

And so my friends, my sweet readers who may have woken up today with a mountain that is too big...

Is it the same climb that you face everyday?

Have you just given in to its overwhelming size?

Is it new to you?

Is it a mountain that you never wanted to climb in the first place?

I have words for you...

He is bigger. My God, He is the creator of those mountains.  He formed the land in a day.  He is not only in the business of creation, but is also really good at restoration.  He wants you to know that he can see the top of your mountain and all the way down the other side.  He is the Alpha and Omega, which means he is the Beginning and the End to it all.  And the best part?  He made you.  And he loves you even more than I ever could.  He will never leave you.  He is climbing that mountain with you, right now.


Did my littles make it up that mountain last week?  They sure did.  They stumbled, stubbed toes, and stopped for respite, but each one made it to the top.  Did we celebrate? Yes!  Did we remind them that they were ready to give up at times?  Yes.  By the time we were in the car on the way home, we were already planning our next hike.  Because that is how great it feels to persevere through pain.  And know that you are not climbing alone.

Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a great battle. -Plato






Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Reflections from IF:Gathering

My feet haven’t hit the floor yet as I am on my way home to Arizona from a weekend in Austin, Texas at the If: Gathering (watch here).  I have been looking forward to this experience for months now, and knew that I was going expecting, yet still didn’t know what to expect.  I was drawn by the powerful message of the slogan to “gather, equip, and unleash...” Also, admittedly curious as to how some of my favorite powerhouses in the world of Christian women influencers were going to come together with one voice.



As I sit here at 10,000 feet in the sky literally chewing on the meat of the Gathering, I am still asking God to reveal exactly why He sent me to IF.  Why was I one of the 1200 tickets that sold out in less than 40 minutes, and how did I also get the privilege of going with, and sitting with, and meeting with many other women who are also the visionaries of our generation?

There were a lot of big names on one stage during the four session conference over the course of two days.  I won’t pretend, I was a little star-struck and overwhelmed as we first entered the building on day one.  In my dreams I pictured myself casually bumping into Jen Hatmaker or Christine Caine and they nonchalantly ask me to sit and chat over a cup of coffee....  (aw....sigh).

Snapping back to reality....that didn’t happen.

But what did happen was this clarity of vision that became my passion over the weekend.  I did not sit and chat personally with Jen or Christine, or Bianca (one of my new faves, this girl can preach!)  But I did get the privilege of several uninterrupted conversations with many world-changers that I would have never known had I not traveled to this If thing that no one knew much about.

They might not have names that anyone else would recognize, but as I listened to their passion for God, their cities, their children, and other women, I knew I was in the presence of greatness.  

Normal women, just like those with their names in lights, answering the call and saying yes to go beyond the comforts of their kitchens.  

Women who have dared to dream and obey, and now that they have tasted obedience, cannot ever return to their normal life of complacency.  


You see, there are a few differences between the influencers on the stage and those in the audience without names in print or highlighted in lights.  

But not many.  

The former might have book deals, big name blogs, or thousands of followers on twitter, but what do they really have that you don’t?  Notoriety on the internet?  Is that what makes our calling valuable?

Listening to the speakers’ hearts was life-changing, and so many talented women on one stage was a pivotal experience for me.  But the meat I am really leaving with, the stuff that I am chewing on...were the stories of the women that sat next to me.

Those who continue to write even when nobody reads. 

Those who stand up for their Jesus and love the less fortunate and welcome them to their tables, and don’t expect anyone else to notice.  

Those who sacrifice daily for their audience of One.

When God watches his daughters live in the freedom of their passions, he doesn’t see notoriety or book deals.  He is the same God that existed before the internet, and the same God who will live beyond the social media frenzy of our generation.  

Before the internet, our influencers that we have put on a pedestal would have been the same mamas sitting beside us on the park-bench at play-group, the same women who sign up for bible study and worry about their cute factor, and whether or not someone will make room for them.

Does it mean that Ann Voskamp or Jennie Allen serve a greater God? Or that their gifts are more noteworthy?  Honestly, no.  These are women who have influenced all of us greatly, and we admire their tenacity in the Spirit.  

They don’t have a secret for their success.  They just said yes.  Again and again.  They kept going when no one else noticed their sacrifice.  They loved their God greater than they loved anything else.  

And so do you.  And if you are still thinking this doesn't pertain to you...

To the mom who stays up all night with a sick child....you have something important to say.

To the college student who just wants someone to know her name...you serve the same God as your hero who publishes in print.

To the single woman who wonders if she needs a husband to validate her... Your desire to free the injustices of the less fortunate is necessary.

To the young tired mama who welcomes other tired, lonely, mamas into your living room... You give them value.  

To every other woman who is holding back her yes because you think that your yes isn’t enough to make a difference.  Please reconsider.


Shelley Giglio: Your yes hangs in the balance of a lot of people's futures.

Jennie Allen: If we would just do what God has called us to do- together we could do great things.

Rebekah Lyons: Is the life you lead the life that longs to live in you?

Jen Hatmaker: If we had the eyes of Christ, we'd see the world not as our enemy, but as our future brothers and sisters in Christ.

Angie Smith: When I get to Heaven and am standing before Him, I want my cheeks to be flushed from the labor of what I did in response to the way He saved me.



I believe that the IF:Gathering is a benchmark for our generation.  A catalyst for change. A war-cry for church girls.  I am so very proud to call all of these women my people.  I am even more proud for my daughter to grow up in a world with strong capable women who are so dependent on Jesus their knees hurt.

To purchase the If:Gathering bundle with the audio or video from all four sessions click here.  

To join If:Equip which is an online study out of the book of John, click here.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Vomit, Blood, and Holiness?

I sneak away into my room or my closet at least once a day to meditate, pray, and have a moment to be still.  I ask God to whisper to me here.  I listen.  Every time He gives me something.  Not always life-changing, but something.

The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases... (Lam 3:22)
Yesterday He mentioned holiness.

Christina, my daughter.  Pursue, Holiness.

LIke most holy people would do, I googled it.  Many explanations and definitions unraveled before me.  I picked out an article that Jack Hayford wrote in Charisma Magazine.  He says this:

The Holy Spirit desires to bring each of us to complete personhood. This practical pursuit—our partnering with Him as He comes to help—is geared to make us whole or holy. That’s what “holiness” is really about—wholeness. What the Holy Spirit is up to is bringing the whole life of Jesus Christ into the whole of our personalities so that the whole love of God can be relayed to the whole world. (reference)

Whoa.  Holiness.  Of course I will pursue.  Yes Jesus.  And the rest of my day was an uphill battle as it seemed that every interaction I was dealt, questioned my wholeness.

Fast forward yesterday's events, the sun sets and the whole house is finally quiet.  My spirit is quiet, I am in the arms of my husband.  We are sound asleep.


Sometime around 12:45 a.m. a barrage of little people enter our room.  


*side note, I shut down mentally from about 7:30 p.m. to around 5:30 a.m. and even those times are loose.   For our children's well-being, we have an understanding that any middle-of-the-night needs are to be directed to the north side of the master bed.  

A grumble and then some explanation, and before I know it everyone marches out of the room.  No lights, not much sound.  I am back asleep.

Minutes later, after a formal assessment, I hear my name from the top of the stairs in a get-your-warm-body-out-of-the-bed way.  In a daze I climb the stairs to fully wake up to the smell of vomit and my half-dressed bleary eyed husband ripping sheets and comforters from three beds.  Four little people are awake, two awaiting clean sheets, the other two stripped down standing in the bathtub.  

I washed vomit from my daughter's hair at 1:30 in the morning.  The story of what happened still piecing together in my foggy middle-of-the-night brain.  

Here is what I undertsood:
Hope got out of her bed and went into the boys' room and climbed into bed with Huck.  At some point she rolled over and vomited all over Huck and herself.  Huck, awakened by the vomit, pushed his sister out of his bed.  She then climbed up the ladder of the bunk, and got into the sheets with Holden.  As Holden woke up to realize he was now in bed with vomit girl he decided it would be time to inform a parent.  Just as he turned the lights on to go downstairs, Hyatt also woke up, but instead of vomit, drenched in urine.  All four children now wide awake with either vomit or urine covering their pajamas and their sheets walk downstairs to brave the awakening of the parents.

I rinsed the puke, re-dressed them in clean pajamas, cleaned the tub and then mopped the bathroom floor on my hands and knees with a towel.  As each child was cleaned, Brandon had stripped their beds and put on clean blankets and sheets.  He tucked each of them in with a kiss and a hug.

My oak-of-a-man remained calm the whole time.  I on the other hand became increasingly elevated as I put together the details of the situation, and realized how much easier this all would have been if the vomiting child would have just remained in her own bed.  (By this time moot point, I know.  But it is now 1:30 a.m. and logic stayed downstairs in the warm sheets where I should have been.)

Everyone back in bed (hopefully not too emotionally scarred from sleep-deprived mama) and Brandon is in the front yard shaking blankets since chunks don't do well in the washing machine.  I am inside sorting sheets and starting a load of laundry. The rest remains in a pile on the driveway, haunting me as I finally climb back into my bed.  

At this point I am literally shaking in anger. At what you might ask?  I don't know.  Usually my anger is at myself for falling short...again.  

As I quieted down the word holiness came into my thoughts.  I sobbed.  My dear husband who just wanted a few hours of sleep rolled over and pulled my shaking, sobbing, hair-in-my face body close to his.  He quietly calmed me telling me why I am the best mama in the world.  Why my children would grow up and emanate me.  Why God chose me for this task.  I argued with him a little as I called myself the worst.  He shushed me, held me.  I don't remember much more, I cried myself to sleep I think.

This morning (about 4 hours later) the four littles that caused such commotion came downstairs with very little memory of last night's antics.  I sat quietly nursing my second cup of coffee anxiously awaiting a shower.  I still felt the remains of the night before as by 7 a.m. the washing machine was already on its third load for the day (total loads from last night = 5).

Morning activities slowed to an even rhythm and it was my turn to clean up.  As I let the hot water wash over me I am reminded again of the quest for holiness that was placed before me just 24 hours before.  How badly I have already failed as I scrubbed the vomit from my fingernails.  For a moment I let the hot water just pound the back of my neck as I watch the soapy water swirl around my toes and down into the drain.    

In an instant the foamy white water streamed with bright red and upon feeling my nose I realized that it was pouring blood.  Accepting defeat, I kept my head down and watched the red blood drip onto my white skin and then wash away with the soap and water as it splattered the tile.

Minutes go by and I hear His words to me...
Daughter, you can try as hard as you can to attain holiness, but you will never fully experience my holiness without my blood.  See my daughter, you have stood here and washed your entire body with what means you have to do so.  But my power in you is the greatest force you possess for purity, for holiness.  In your frailty, your sin nature, you will always fall short.  Your pursuit of Me and My sovereignty is the archway you must stumble through into the hall of holiness.  Don't clean up before you crawl into my arms, I am waiting for you in your mess. 

Even after the shower my nose bled.  I combed hair and got kids ready to go with a tissue to sop up the blood.  Overwhelmed by His love for me, the blood was a lingering reminder of my 24 hour lesson.
  
I, in my humanity, will never be holy.  Yet I, filled with the Holy Spirit, allowing Him to move me, breathing Him into my lungs, and falling on my face into His lap will be living in holiness.  Pursuing holiness.  He is Holy.  I am broken, but in Him I am Holy and Whole.

But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light. 2 Peter 2:9






Thursday, January 16, 2014

I Date My Man like it's My Job

This month we celebrated 14 years together as a married couple.  My man and I.  

photo credit

When I married my man, I never once considered what would happen if we didn't make it 14 years.  I am proud of us, but in a lifelong committed relationship, 14 years is just another year that we can celebrate our accomplishments thus far.

I have no secrets of marital bliss to share with you.  All I have is an honest repertoire that would include old fashioned, intentional traits such as forgiveness, patience, and just plain kindness.  

When I watch other couples that have been married more than a couple of years, I have noticed a trend with those that I would consider to be "happy" versus those that have fallen into just doing life together.  
The happy ones date.  And not just the "dinner and a movie" kind either.

We Still Date. Often. (Like more than a few times a week)

We are intentional about our time together.  Once a month dates are not enough to keep a romance alive in my opinion.  We pursue each other making 'dates' a few times a week.  I know right now you are saying to yourself there is no way since we have six kids and Brandon travels often for work.  And yes, we do have family very close who help us out, but very often our dates do not include reserving a babysitter.  Here are a few ways we date each other every week:

*Lunch Dates*
Brandon does get to work from home some days, which is my signal to plan lunch with him.  For the littles that are still at home this is naptime, and the others are at school.  Perfect for 30 minutes at the kitchen table with a sandwich and time to connect.

*TV Show Dates*
We have a few shows that we watch together.  The content is irrelevant, it could be re-runs of The Office for all we care.  This is something that we know that we do not do separately, it connects us, and we make the time to watch together.  Silly, but again, a fun stress-free way to connect (a scoop of ice-cream also makes this one something to look forward to :)

*Take-Out Dates* (probably my favorite)
We value the dinner hour with our children.  But once in awhile we steal that time away to connect with each other.  This is usually planned just like a regular night out on the town, but it all takes place in our own dining room.  With a time set aside on the calendar, we feed the kids something easy and get them to bed a few minutes early (even 15 minutes early works great).  We tell the older ones that we are having a date night and by a certain time they either need to be in bed, or have made themselves scarce in the house.  They can only come into the dining room if they are on fire (this is what I say....translates to emergency).  One of us puts the littles to bed, the other orders take-out from a favorite restaurant and then picks it up.  

*Group Dates*
Going out with other couples is fun and can be a great time to learn from other people's relationships.  God put amazing people in our life and we love to spend time with them.  Even though we appreciate our time with others, this is the date that we do the least.  Mostly because we are at a time in our life (with children at home) when our one-on-one time is invaluable for our relationship.

*Romantic Dates*
These are the dinner and a movie dates, or the Starbucks and Target dates that we love to do and find to be very romantic.  How is Target romantic?  Because when I was younger and would dream about being married, I dreamt about doing the normal everyday things with my man.  Now, those things, when done together are romantic because they are my dreams coming true.

*Phone Dates*
These are my least favorite, but necessary with a man who travels for work.  Our hard fast rule is, no matter what time it is, we make at least 5 minutes at the end of the day to recap, connect, and share a highlight of our day with one another.  This keeps us together even when the miles separate.  

*Overnight Dates*
These take the most work and planning, but have the greatest reward.  I have never met a happily married couple who didn't take at least 24 hours together away from the world as often as possible.  Let's translate that for those of us with small children: It may only be once a year, and it might cost you more in childcare than you can afford, but I promise, it is most definitely worth it.  We are just coming into this time in our relationship when we can plan 24 hour dates more than once a year.  It has become one of my favorite things to do together.  We have even been known to stay somewhere just minutes from our house.  But again, so worth making the time to connect.

photo credit

If we did have a secret, it would be that we are intentional about our time together.  I mean like it's our job.  We are very aware that our marriage is not just under the attack of societal norms, but that we are also under spiritual attack as well.  Satan does not want us to have a happy marriage.  He wants us to believe the lie that somehow it is just not possible.  Not only are we out to prove him wrong, but we have fun doing it!

How about you?  How often do you date your spouse?  What are your favorite things to do together?







Tuesday, January 7, 2014

One Word for 2014

It has become a little trendy to pick one word for the year, sort of as a theme instead of a resolution.  I have been doing this on my own for quite some time, not really sharing my word with others.  I felt that it was always something intimate between myself and the Holy Spirit.  I always thought it was another thing I did that was weird or different than so many others whom were making resolutions to lose weight, read their bible more, and be nicer to people.  (Just to name a few ;)  Apparently others have latched onto the idea of one word also.

This past week I have enjoyed reading other bloggers' one word posts and was impressed that this would be the year to share mine.

So without further ado, my 2014 word is


-still-

From the dictionary, the word still is not very still.  It is quite the muti-tasker being able to transform into at least four different forms of speech at any given time.  

It is an
adjective
not moving or making a sound

a noun
deep silence and calm

an adverb
up to and including the present or the time mentioned

and a verb
to make or become still, to quiet

Being a multi-tasker myself, I think still and I are going to get along great this year.

SO how do I purpose to live an entire year with only one word as a focus?

How I will be intentional about making 2014 still?  Daily reflections.  To give you an idea, here are a few that I have already been working on...

it's ok to be still.  I have developed a negative habit of not knowing what to do in downtime, even if it is just 30 seconds at a stoplight.  Many times I digress to picking up my phone, or choosing a child to referee.  It is ok to just be still, it says so in Psalm 46:9.  Be still and know that I am God.

blessings brighten when I count them. 14 years married and still counting.
35 years old and still happy to be alive.  Still healthy enough to get out of bed and live another day.

be intentional about living.  Always something on my radar, but this year I am feeling a honing in of sorts.  This not only includes living missionally outside of my home, but inside as well. Exposing my children to the harsh realities of this world in a safe environment where we can discuss and work through prayer and action plans. Thus continuing to raise world-changers together with my husband. My eldest babes are now tweens, intentional parenting is a no joke deal.

For God is not unjust.  He will not forget how hard you have worked for him and how you have shown your love to him by caring for other believers, as you still do. Hebrews 6:9-11

still believe.  No matter what valleys I fall into this year, nor mountains I am benefitted to climb I will remember that His love is stronger.  His mercies endure forever.

bless the Lord.  Humbly step out of the spotlight.  2013 was a banner year for me personally.  I was blessed to be able to do things that I could have only thought would be possible someday, if ever.  Even still, none of it was about me.  It was all to glorify the One who made me.


There is no sense in trying to do 2014 bigger and better.  That is present world thinking and not always God's idea.  If you have time, take a moment to listen to the words above in this song by Steffany Frizzell Gretzinger and Bethel Music.

As you listen, what word might the Holy Spirit impress on you for 2014?  Has he already given you a word?  I would love to know!

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

To My Children {A Gift}

Merry Christmas my precious children.   I have thought for hours on the best gift to give you.  I so badly want to lavish you with good things and grant you all the wishes in your Christmas letters.

Photo by www.lizziebeephotography.com
Under the tree you may find a few of those items.  And I know they will make you smile.   But those are the temporary gifts that make Christmas morning fun, not the reason God gave you to me.

I knew what I needed to give you could not be purchased on Black Friday or in the clearance bins.  It was much harder to find.   It is something you desperately desire, but have never voiced with words. You were created to seek this.  Your actions cry out for it, yet your cravings can be temporarily quenched by meaningless time-fillers.

and the gift you have been waiting for...

You get a mom

Yep.  That's right.  I am giving you the gift of post-baby bodied, wrinkled, and real.

Authentic.

Mistake-making. Needing to apologize more and raise my voice less.

Honest, yet sometimes not always with myself.

Forgiving.  Needing forgiveness.

Not always right.

I am the woman that God chose to teach you the softer side of life.
How to set a table and open the door for a lady.
How to pick up your socks and push your chair in when you are finished.
My job is to love your daddy and respect him so that you will know what a wife should be someday. To teach you how to dress for special occasions, and when it is ok to politely share your opinions.

It is so much easier to click purchase now, and have Amazon delivered to the door.  To give you this gift of myself requires me to deny my flesh and give way to the Spirit.

I want you to hang out in your college dorm someday and have great memories of a childhood filled with love and acceptance.  I want your future in-laws to marvel at your character.  I want you to love Jesus more than me.  More than anything.
And the best way I can hope to make these desires a reality is to drop the dreams and face the music.

Healthy eating, running further, spending more money on gifts, creating the perfect cookie recipe.... All noble feats, yet meaningless in your childhood experiences (and all things I have failed at just this week by the way).

So here I am still sitting in my pajamas on Christmas Eve morning writing you this letter.  Breakfast was cereal and bagels and there is laundry in the washer that needs to be moved to the dryer.  Your Christmas pies will come from a box and I was unable to purchase every gift from your list.

But you get real.  You will never have to second guess.
You will never wonder if I am playing a game or manipulating the truth for my benefit.
You will never wonder if I love Jesus.
You will never question my love and commitment for your daddy.
I am not fancy.  I don't always look cute and hip.
I get tired, and can be emotional, and sometimes need a quiet moment.
But I will always be your mom. And I am yours.  Merry Christmas.

photo by www.lizziebeephotography.com



Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Matilda Jane for Christmas!

The first time I heard of Matilda Jane Clothing was when a box showed up on my doorstop just a couple of months after we adopted our precious baby girl Hope.  The sweet card read...

Congratulations on your adoption, and your first little girl.  Love, MJC 

Upon opening the box filled with MJC I fell in love with the beautiful clothes, and this company's big heart for giving.  Since that day, Hope has been delighted to wear Matilda Jane Clothing every chance she gets.  I love the mix and match feel of all the pieces.  It all goes together effortlessly.  And in my opinion, there is nothing cuter than a little girl bouncing around in her MJC.


You can imagine how excited I was to get a chance to show Hope (now 3 years old) off in an outfit from the Paint by Numbers collection.  Thanks to my sister-in-law's newly launched photography business, I have beautiful photos to display as well.


Hope is wearing the Turtledove Knot Top
with the Stippling Tee
both in size 4t


The knot top goes right over any tee transforming 
my little girl's play clothes into instant party wear.  
She will don these duds all year, both for school and play dates.


Hope's cousin Penelope Jane joined us to help 
show off the adorable Gallery Leggings that complete the outfit.
I wish you could feel the clothes in your hands to know 
how soft and comfy they are to wear.


With five older brothers, Penny Jane's arrival was an answer to prayer
for Hope.  Being 2 years and 1 day apart, (and neighbors!), these two 
have only just begun to make memories.  




P.S. It's all in the family since my sister-in-law Becoming Julie Griffin is ALSO featuring a MJC review on her blog as well.  Please hop on over there and check out my adorable niece.








Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Holiday Takeover {Christmas 2013}

Our Holiday Takeover started a few years ago and one of our most thrilling moments was last Easter when we were able to go out into our community and share the love of Jesus with people on the street.  You can read about how our family did Easter just a little bit differently here.  When we decided to start living Life on Purpose, that also meant redefining our holidays and being willing to give up some of the things that we really liked.  Life on purpose should look a little peculiar to the outside world.

“It is true that God may have called you to be exactly where you are. But, it is absolutely vital to grasp that he didn’t call you there so you could settle in and live your life in comfort and superficial peace.” 

We know that God called us to Arizona for more than a career and good schools. During the holidays, we are especially grateful for the community he called us to serve in.  


We look for ways to teach our children that Jesus loves the hungry kids in our home town just as much as he loves the hungry kids in countries across the world.  Exposing them to the realities of life is painful as a parent, yet necessary to raising children that love and show compassion for others.

At Christmas we choose one local and one global project to give to.  This year our global project was for orphans in Malawi, Africa (click here to read about my time in Malawi this summer).  Our church makes it easy to support an orphan for a year through their annual giving event called Advent Conspiracy.   You can click here for a link to give $50 to feed one orphan and their family for an entire year.

This is a photo that my neighbor emailed to me yesterday.  The kids on our street raised money to buy toys for kids that live in a community for single moms not far from us.
My kids jumped right in on the photo action.
“... be radical about grace and relentless about truth and resolute about holiness...” 
― Ann Voskamp

For our local project this year we started gathering blankets, sheets and other items but didn't have an exact place of where they would end up.  One morning I called our church and asked if they knew of a family that could use these items.  She asked me to hold on, and when she cam back on the line she told me that there happened to be a family that was getting ready to adopt and needed all of the things I had mentioned.  It felt good to give away the exact items that another adoptive family needed.  We also dropped off a few toys and a gift card to a local grocery store so they could purchase their Christmas dinner.  My kids came along knowing exactly what we were doing and why.  I never want to just "write a check" and my kids not get to witness the joy of giving to another.




“Teaching by example, radical obedience, justice, mercy, activism, and sacrifice wholly inspires me. I'm at that place where "well done" trumps "well said." When I see kingdom work in the middle of brokenness, when mission transitions from the academic soil of the mind into the sacrificial work of someone's hands, I am utterly affected. Obedience inspires me. Servant leaders inspire me. Humility inspires me. Talking heads dissecting apologetics stopped inspiring me a few years ago.” 
― Jen Hatmaker7: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess


Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. 2 Corinthians 9:7

We pray that your family has a beautiful Christmas season.  We hope that you and your children experience the joy of giving.  If you have any questions about our holiday takeover, why we live the way we do, or Christ who compels us...please ask.  I would love to chat with you.  Merry Christmas!