Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Climbing In The Wheelbarrow

"Perhaps we are all in the position of the man in Morton Kelsey's story who came to the edge of an abyss.  As he stood there wondering what to do next, he was amazed to discover a tightrope stretched across the abyss.  And slowly, surely, across the rope came an acrobat pushing before him a wheelbarrow with another performer in it.  When they finally reached the safety of solid ground, the acrobat smiled at the man's amazement.  'Don't you think I can do it again?' he asked.  And the man replied, 'Why yes, I certainly believe you can.'  The acrobat put his question again, and when the answer was the same, he pointed to the wheelbarrow and said, 'Good!  Then get in and I will take you across.'"

When I read this excerpt in Brennan Manning's book, The Ragamuffin Gospel, my heart literally leapt in my chest.

Am I going to be a person that believes everything the Bible says about our miraculous savior but refuses to put it to test in my own life?  Do I truly believe that He can "do it again" and do it in my own life?  And if I do believe am I going to put my vocal belief into action and jump in the wheelbarrow, handing all control over to Him?  Do I even WANT Him to take me on that journey, or have I become so complacent that I am happy watching him carry everyone else across?

"What we do with the lordship of Jesus is a better indication of our faith than what we think.  
This is what the world wants from our rhetoric, what the man of God longs for in shepherds - 
daring enough to be different, 
humble enough to make mistakes, 
wild enough to be burnt in the fire of love, 
real enough to make others see how phony we are."
-Brennan Manning

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Just A Few Thoughts From Jude the Dude

Once upon a time there was a boy named Jude and mom.
and they were eating marshmallows all day
and they put it on a cracker.
and the crackers were all gone.
the end.


once upon a time we were in our house and the food was all gone
there was some more pizza left over
and they ate it and ate it
the end


once upon a time there was mommy and daddy and Jude riding in the car and going and riding and going to meme, no, SiSi's house
and he was all ready for school
and jude was all ready for school too
and I had to get my book bag at my house
and I go to school school school
and I played with tractors when I got back from school
and post it on the list
the end


What is a mommy?
a mommy goes to the school and goes to the store. and she cuts apples
and she waters flowers and she gets the remote control cars down

What do daddy's do?
get their shoes on and get the remote control cars down and read their books.
and when it's sprinklin' and snowin' they gode outside and have hot chocolate all day

What do big brothers do?
they play on their desk and color on their desk.
that's all they do

what do sisters do?
they put lipstick on and put a dress on.
that's all.

What does a Ju-ju like to do?
play with hot wheels.  My OWN hot wheels.
Play with lightning' McQueen cars
I like to pet dogs
I like to play and read books and color when its nighttime

Why does mommy have to give you consequences sometimes?
because I keep getting out of bed
but I don't like them because they're not fun

If I was a daddy I would get big shoes on and read books and sleep in a BIIIIIG bed.

Who is Jesus?
I'm not tellin' you
I'm just kidding!
I just can't tell you right now.

I have some more things to say:  I like Meme and Poppie's popsicles at their house and my bed. I like going to Journey with daddy because I always get desserts and stuff.

That's all.

Monday, October 26, 2015

To Jump Up Or To Stay Seated

Before Josh and I had kids we observed lots of parents and very quickly decided that we were NOT going to be the parents that jumped up every time their kids scraped their knees on the pavement or bumped their elbow on the table (which is a good thing because I would never be able to sit down. EVER.)

Most of the time these boo-boo's hardly even warranted a Band-aid, much less a dramatic drop of whatever their parents were doing just to go lavish them with attention when they could just as easily just jump right up and go back to playing.

I can honestly say that this is one area that I have withheld to my pre-parenting standards.  (Sometimes to a fault actually.  Remember that time I kept fussing at Rainy because she kept getting out of bed crying for water.  I stood my ground, telling her that she was FINE.  Until she woke up the next morning with a 103.6 fever and strep throat?! Yeah, NOT the time to tell them to suck it up and stop procrastinating on going to sleep, ha!)

There is a balance that has to be made.

I want my kids to know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, their mom and dad are on their team, cheering them on, and will most certainly step in if we NEED to, but I want my kids to know that they have been equipped to walk the very shaky steps of life on their own, as we teach them along the way.  I want to help them learn to get up on their own, assess the actual (not hypothetical) damage of the situation and realistically see if their situation is something to get upset about or not.  Because a lot of times I think our kids just feed off of us (our fears for them) and our reactions to what they are going through.

This balance is particularly important for Zeke and his anxiety episodes.

If I were to accidentally wash a stack of his most prized Pokemon cards (ahem...) and he were to find them the next day on an early Sunday morning at Journey, I might need to have a little more compassion on him than in a situation where he were to walk over to see that "my favorite pencil" that has been sitting on his desk under papers and trash for 3 months without being touched, had been picked up by the little destroyer of all things Jude the dude.  (Of course this is ALL hypothetical!)

It also applies to Areyna breaking down over someone using her markers vs. someone messing up her science experiment that she had been working tirelessly on.

Or to Alethia saying that her friend didn't want to be her friend any more vs. Cai calling her a "poop head".

The fact of the matter is, our kids are going to have to face things their entire lives.  Are we going to be there to walk alongside them as they try to work it out or are we going to try to carry them the entire way.

If we carry them we are adding their very real burdens onto our own very real burdens.  But I don't think that is healthy.  We have to be willing to put them down.  We cannot carry them that long.  We weren't meant to carry them that long.  We carry them until they can get down and walk on their own.

I know us mama's jump into fix-it mode every time something in our kids lives gets off track.  Of course we want the best for them.  But what are we really fixing if we jump in and flex our mama muscles?  We are ripping that self-confidence out of their hands for being able to figure it out on their own.  We are deterring them from turning to God and asking Him for help if we are the ones who always try to make things better.  We are taking a learning experience away that will further their dependency on their relationship with Christ.

If we jump it may make them feel better for a time, but its merely a Band-aid as they grow up in this very real world full of hurt and disappointment, and they will eventually begin to just expect us to jump and fix all that is wrong with their lives.

I know for me, this is something I have to pray for on a daily basis as I decipher when to jump and when to sit.  Sitting is harder, for sure, but when we sit, it allows God to do the jumping.  And He can jump way higher and fix way better than we ever could.  Besides, our children are really His anyway.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

If Sin Is Sin, Then Sin Is Sin

"The way we see other people is usually the way we see ourselves.  
If we have made peace with our flawed humanity and embrace our ragamuffin identity, 
we are able to tolerate in others what was previously unacceptable in ourselves."

I read this convicting sentence the other day from Brennan Manning.

It keeps playing back and forth, back and forth in my head.

Different scenarios began playing through my head of times when I've caught myself judging other people.
It's almost  absolutely embarrassing when I actually took the time to list out the things that frustrate me...or even DISGUST me, in other people.
Other people God has created in His own image.
Other adopted children of Christ.

It's so easy to see other people's flaws and thank God that we aren't the one with that lifestyle, or that addiction, or that reaction or that way of thinking...

(Sound familiar? Luke 18:9-14)

But are those things really any different than my own sins that I deal with?  Have I really owned up to my own flaws and sins that grieve the Holy Spirit, that keep me from crawling into Abba's lap and spending vulnerable, heart and soul-changing time with Him?

Sure, every sin has different consequences and affects different people, but Romans 5  tells us that even a simple THOUGHT of a sinful act is sin!

Billy Graham defines sin as "any thought or action that falls short of God's will."

So if my sin of being short-tempered with my 9-year-old, or sarcastic or demeaning to my 6-year-old is just as sinful (falling short of God's will) as the drug addict down the street, then we are equal sinners.

If my tendency for impulsivity overcomes me and turns into sin, and is the same as the individual who has an addiction to porn or lust, then we are equal sinners.

When my lack of self-control over food (yes, if it's around I can hardly hold myself back!) becomes an idol and gluttonous it is the same sin as the individuals who are addicted to over-exercise and obsession over body image.

And if we are equal sinners (both just as far apart from Christ as the other), it takes the same amount of grace and love to bring us back to His presence.

"For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God."
Romans 3:23

I know for me, if I remember who I am, and what God has sacrificed for ME, and the grace and patience he floods me with on a daily hourly basis, I am more likely to give grace when someone sins against me.  They don't deserve that forgiveness.  They don't deserve that second chance...or that third chance, or that fourth chance...

...but neither do I.

(BTW-forgiveness doesn't make their sin ok.  It doesn't make MY sin okay.  But it does make the forgivers heart ok.)

I don't EVER want God's grace and lavished love to ever become stagnant in my life.  Because that is when my love and forgiveness and grace (and compassion) for others ends.  And that, my friend, is sin, that will once again separate me from the one who lavishes it on me.

"Then Peter came up and said to him, 
'Lord, how often will my brother sin against me, and I forgive him?'  
Jesus said to him, 
'I do not say to you seven times, but seventy times seven.'"
Matthews 18:21-22

This is a command.  
It does not change with different seasons and circumstances that we face.
If you believe that God's word is ALL TRUTH, then it does not change.  
It is what it is.  
It is WHO God is.  
And if we call ourselves followers of Him, then it HAS TO BE who WE are.

Friday, October 16, 2015

Lessons From The Gardener: A New Way To Recycle

Pinterest has become my greatest resource as my black thumb ripens.

I have become a little obsessed with all things yard related.  We have been whittling away, area by area, as we fix up our yard.  And I have to say, I have really enjoyed it!  My body always regrets the 4-6 hour days I put in when I wake up the following morning, but it's a good kind of hurt.  Kind of like when you have worked your butt off in a difficult workout and you KNOW it's good for you but man it hurts.

Anyway, I wanted to share one of the greatest ideas I have found for keeping weeds away from landscaped areas.

It's brilliant, simple, biodegradable and FREE!

Are you ready for it?

Brown paper bags.


Here's how it works:

1 - Find a helper that will wear snow gloves to help you dig.  This is mandatory for success;)

2 - Ask for paper bags every time you go to the grocery story and save them.

3 - Cut the bags so that they lay flat.

4 - After you have weeded, uprooted as many bushes as you can and level the ground, place the bags down so that they lay flat and slightly overlap, making sure that you cover every patch of exposed dirt.

5 - Cover with straw.  If you don't want to pay money for straw, come on over here.  We have an endless amount.  In fact, it seems as though we get a fresh layer every week. Seriously.

This is pretty much what our entire front landscape area looked like.  I have slowly been digging it all out and replacing it through this process.  I haven't had to do a THING to it since I laid it down!

These are the roots I still have to dig up, but at least I weeded around it to get a head start once my hands heal from all the holly bush "poinky" attacks they endured this week.

Thursday, October 8, 2015

3 Ways To Weigh Ministry Opportunities ~ KITW

I feel something BIG happening in the church as a whole right now.
I am seeing more and more of the beautiful balance of worshipping and filling up on the weekend within the corporate worship setting in order to pour ourselves out throughout the week. Giving and serving and loving the ones God has surrounded us with at work, home, and other activities, as we tangibly point others to Christ.
It’s as if there is an intentional shift. A driven focus.
And I don’t think it’s just our church or area. I have heard of churches all over the world making this shift from the gluttonous, self-centered worship that has unfortunately infected many of our churches. And I am proud to be a part of one of the churches fighting this trend.
But along with this outward focus can come feelings of exhaustion and burn out. Overwhelmed feelings with the amount of work that still needs to be done. Difficulty saying “no” to a good opportunity to serve in order to keep your priorities in check.
How can we figure out how to live life on mission while still protecting the much-needed white space we, and our family, need. A more pointed question for this audience–how can we best fulfill our responsibility to make disciples and love our neighbors while continuing to pour into the mission field within the four walls of our own home?
There are three questions I ask myself before saying “yes” to a good outside serving opportunity:

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

I Only Like The Shadows Because Of The Sun

When my family lived in Waukesha, WI there was a season of darkness.  I believe it was in the fall.  I know I've asked my mom a hundred times how long the sun drought actually lasted, but for some reason I can't get out of my 7th grade mindset that felt like it lasted MONTHS!

It actually WAS several weeks.  Close to a month?
(You'll have to ask my mom, or my sister for that matter (who has the gift of never forgetting ANYTHING!), how long it actually lasted.

I remember the agitation on everyone's faces.
I remember my parents talking about the road rage.
I remember how mean everyone was to each other.
I remember how sad I felt.
I remember the news accounts of the sky rocketing suicide and depression rates.

The darkness was all around us.

Everyone needs sunshine.
And when it doesn't show up we begin having some major problems.

So when we passed the two-week mark of nearly NO sun here over the past couple of weeks I began having flashbacks.

Only this time I'm a mom, and my five littles were experiencing the annoyance, and drain of this darkness as well.

But yesterday...

...yesterday we had sunshine.

And again, today, SUNSHINE!

I can hardly keep myself indoors to carry on my normal household duties.

Actually, I didn't even do THAT yesterday.

I began putting our yard back together after two weeks of wind and rain as soon as the kids went to school.  Picking up pinecones, limbs, branches, pruning the garden, and weeding overgrown areas and debris.

I also began mowing and the instant gratification was exhilarating!  You know, sometimes you mow and by the time you get the mower turned around you can hardly tell where you left off.  But that was NOT the case yesterday!  The grass was freaking 8" tall after all that rain and I was in my happy place, riding along, watching it all get chopped down to perfect size.

Josh told me I was weird after I told him how mowing made me feel.  
But I have NO shame!

I've been thanking God for the sunshine over and over as I breathe it in deep,
with fresh motivation for life,
and parenting,
and completing the mundane tasks given to me in this season,
and working out sibling arguments.

So today I don't mind the lurking shadows because it means there is sun just beyond!

Friday, October 2, 2015

Friday Free-For-All

It's raining (big shocker there!),
it's windy,
it's cold,
and there's the excitement of extreme weather buzzing all around us.

And changing clothes out for a new season for a Colony is NO SMALL FEAT.

The amount of clothes our kids have been blessed with is overwhelming!
Hand-me-downs.  They are like perfectly timed, practical Christmas gifts in boxes and bags every time we get to sift through them, find what works, and gift them on to others.

That has been my rainy day activity while the kids are tracked back in,
and daddy works on school from home,
and Jude takes a L-O-N-G nap.

Now I keep catching myself looking at my hipster little 3-year-old with the new haircut his daddy gave him this morning.  We have NEVER had a kid with short hair (Unless you count the first year of Rainy's life.  I never thought that girl would EVER get hair, ha!), so seeing a little boy, buzz-cut, mohawk-ish hairdo is almost more cuteness than I can handle!  I wouldn't be surprised (or even mind) if Zeke follows suit.  He has been on the brink several times, but just couldn't stop changing his mind.

Areyna was on the verge of tears last night trying to convince me that the chickens has told her how unhappy, wet and cold they were and that they NEEDED to come inside.

Yeah, not gonna happen...

I'm going to play Bunco tonight with some ladies in the Rolesville community.
"What is Bunco", you ask?
I don't even know, but I DO know that it's gonna be completely out of my comfort zone, but that's what grows us right?!

So here's to another cold and rainy day.
I prefer to call it FALL.
I complain less if the word FALL is involved.
Besides that means I can burn the pumpkin spice candles that I've been hoarding all year long and go to the store and stock up on Wassail ingredients!
Oh, and everything FALL makes me happy
(minus the cold rain and the lack of sunshine).