Sunday, January 31, 2010

Praying For Your Kids Monday

I'm not gonna lie friends...I was crawling in to bed when I remembered I hadn't written PYKM for this week. I had thought about it earlier in the evening but got caught up in other things and now its sniffing 11:00 and I'm trying to be more disciplined about not staying up too late and I'm tired and this sentence is a run-on now but all of this to say is I need to go to bed so I'm just going to put a quick thought and a prayer down. You have homework this week: find a good scripture to correlate with our topic and leave it in the comments for others to ponder and memorize.

This week we are praying for our children's integrity. Our retreat speaker last weekend defined integrity as what you say and do on the outside matching up with what you believe on the inside. Isn't that wonderfully simplified?

I've thought about this a lot this week; I long to be a godly model to Samuel and Emily of integrity but as with all things, they need the Holy Spirit's help, guidance and outpouring. It is never too early to pray for kids to have integrity!

Lord, I thank You that You listen to my prayers whether they are eloquent or whispered in a sleepy daze. Thank You for loving _________ so much that You are already working in her heart to grow her to be a woman who longs after You. I pray that as she grows she will have the desire to live her life true to what she believes; I bless her with integrity. I bless her with courage. Thank You for __________. Amen.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Am I Being Too Honest?

Yep, still talking retreat stuff. Yep, still processing retreat stuff. Yep, still using my blog as a journal. If you’re looking for a funny story about parenting or poop or dinner prep come back in a week or so, I’m sure I’ll have something for ya. If you’re looking for a juicy diary entry then here you go.

This morning I was processing some retreat stuff with my sisters in Council; they all went to retreat also and so at our monthly meeting we spent some time debriefing. The time was especially meaningful for me because I have felt a little stuck in how to move what I learned, what I felt, things I heard God say from “retreat” into daily life. You know, how do I make the applicable things apply?

We spent some time praying in 3’s and as I prayed I felt this wave come over me of “a-ha”. I recognized it as “a-ha” because I had felt the same thing earlier in the week. Soon I heard myself confessing that I had been praying (over the last 6 months) for God to show my blind spots not so that I could become more like Him but so I would be more “likeable”.

Here’s the deal with me: I desperately want you to like me. I will say just about anything (or bite my tongue until it bleeds) so that you like me. In fact, I spend so much time trying to figure out what you want from me and how I can please you that I don’t cultivate true friendship and authenticity because I’m basically just trying to be who you want me to be.

I’m not sure where this desperation to please others comes from, and for the time being I’m ok not knowing, for now I have enough on my plate and am simply undone by the fact that I’m not sure exactly who I am if I’m not trying to please you.

I am aware of my gifts and talents but I’m not sure how to use them to glorify God instead of glorifying myself. The conundrum of course being if I bring glory to God and not myself will you still notice me? Will you still like me? Will you shower me with praise or will you give it to God, the One who ultimately deserves it?

After I got home from my meeting, God and I had a little talk. Actually, God did the talking and I just listened. He said something like this, “You are broken. I know it. You know it. People around you know it. You want to fix yourself so those around you won’t think you’re broken. I want to fix you because I want you to be more like Me. The glue you’re using to put your pieces back together…yeah, its not working. Its old glue. Its watered down glue. Its meant to cover up, not heal. You want your glue to dry clear so that no one ever knew you were broken, My glue won’t dry clear. Mine will leave marks and those marks will reflect My glory. Those marks will remind those around you that I use broken vessels all the time, in fact, I prefer them. Your glue is your glue. It is designed by you, made by you, and applied by you. My glue is made by Me; it IS Me. My glue is made up of Truth, healing, hope, rest…blood. My Son’s blood. Your glue is made up of selfish ambition and self-serving righteousness. Your glue is made up of fear and insecurity. Your glue won’t last. My glue is eternal.”

God probably would have talked to me all day but I was all Holy-Cow-God-is-Talking-To-Me-I-Gotta-Go-Tell-The-Internet-About-It and started writing this post…however, I feel God doing a little bit of work in my heart and mind about this people pleasing business I’m in to and also some stuff on standards so I’ll see where that goes.

To close these wickedly honest thoughts, I’ll write about how amazingly relentless our Father is. When I started praying for blind spots I had good intentions. I didn’t know at the time my intentions were rooted in selfish motive, pride and insecurity. God did. Yet He still has been uncovering them to me. Lovingly, slowly, never more than I can handle at one time, He’s been showing them to me. Now, ironically, He’s showing me a blind spot is how or rather why I prayed for blind spots and changing even that in me. God is relentless in His love for us. God is relentless in fulfilling His promise to complete a good work in us. God is relentless.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

My A-Ha Moment

You don't have to know me very long to know I am not the sharpest tack in the box. It takes a long time for things to sink in and so when I have a surplus of information to process and work through (like what I was given this weekend at retreat) I tend to withdraw a little in to myself and think it through. Hence, its been a little quiet over at ATH. I've been doin' me some thinking.

If I were to start writing about all the stuff going through my head it would go on for pages and pages and at the end of it you would be like, "huh"? So I'm going to just keep thinking and praying through it and instead write about something on a little smaller scale that I learned this weekend.

I was asked to do a drama on Friday night. I was thrilled and honored. I had done it last year but it was funny drama; this year it was to be serious so I was a little nervous about it. Despite my nerves, God gave me a great piece. I wrote it, rehearsed it, fretted over it and ultimately performed it in front of 300 ladies. Woohoo. Thank you God for getting me through it!

The next night at dinner I had to give up my seat with my besties for a woman who didn't have a seat. I roamed around the dining hall and found a table of gracious ladies who said I could sit with them. During the course of the conversations one of the women said she had enjoyed my drama but that it made her feel old. She said So and So had always done the retreat dramas and now she saw that the "more younger" people were being used. While that statement isn't entirely accurate I did understand what she meant.

Later that evening our retreat keynote speaker was talking about seasons of life and how she used to play the piano and help lead worship at our church for a season. She commented how hard it was when God called her and her husband elsewhere and she had to "give up that seat" to someone else.

Of course I took these two, unrelated statements and applied them to my life. I began feeling old even before I was old. I began feeling like before I even knew it I would be called to shelve my talents and attend retreats as an onlooker instead of a participant. I felt so gloomy at the thought; I wouldn't even let rationale play a part in my thoughts that I had lots of years ahead of me to be in ministry, to use my talents, to have fun serving. Nope. All doom and gloom for Jen the Awfulizer.

As soon as I realized the thoughts I was having my self-talk quickly turned to, "You are such a glory slut. Do you do anything for the Kingdom or is it all about you?" The enemy was having a great time with my tendency for self-condemning thoughts.

It wasn't until yesterday when I was driving in the car that I heard a song that spoke Truth to me. God often speaks to me through music; for some reason it just resonates with me. Anyway...the Nicole Nordeman song was on the playlist, "Legacy".

I want to leave a legacy
How will they remember me?
Did I choose to love? Did I point to You enough
to make a mark on things?
I want to leave an offering.
A child of mercy and grace
who blessed Your name.
I want to leave a legacy.

The lyrics flooded my heart; I felt that wonderful peace that goes beyond knowledge and realized what you've been screaming at me from the other side of the computer, "Its not about me".

Its not about my talents. Its not about my love of ministry. Its not about my love of accolades or even my pure intentions. It is about pointing to Christ. If in the end all I'm remembered for was being funny, or being talented, or being a good speaker then it will have been in vain. God made me who I am not to bring glory to myself, but to bring glory to Him.

I suppose its not so much a revelation at it is a reminder of the obvious. Nonetheless, it has helped to refocus my purpose and hopefully, align my intentions, work and desires with His.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Praying for Your Kids Monday

I spent the weekend at Cannon Beach at my church's women's retreat. It was awe.some. Seriously awesome. I hope to write about it but I'm not gonna lie...there is is so much information, feelings, encounters rolling in my head I'm not sure I can write about it. I need to process. In a big way. I prefer blogging to journaling so maybe you'll get all of it (like more than you want) or maybe you won't get any. We'll see.

Anyway, something that came up a lot this weekend was image management of our children in order to control the way others think about us. I am soooooo guilty of this.

Jeremiah 1:5 tells us that God knew our children long before we did; He knew them in our womb. He knew them before the beginning of time. He has designed them with purpose; He has plans for them. Why do I spend so much time trying to make them in to who I want them to be when the Great Creator already has a plan for them? Simple answer: because I'm a control freak even though I am the first person to tell you I am not a control freak.

My controlling comes from pure intentions (well except for the part that I want them to be "good" so that you will like me more). I want to control so they will be happy. I want to control so they will be successful. I want to control so they will avoid pain. I want to control because I love them.

I learned a whole lot of stuff this weekend that explains why this is all messed up, despite having a foundation of good intent, but for today's purpose lets just say its messed up because GOD, their CREATOR has designed them for purposes I can't even begin to fathom.

O Great Creator, You have made ___________ with purpose. I confess that I too often desire to control who _________ is becoming so that I look good or to protect him. I confess I don't ask You what __________ is made to do but instead take wild guesses. Please show me _________'s bent; please show me how to pray exactly for him so that he will grow to be the man You designed him to be. I pray that You will bring glory to Yourself through the person he is becoming. Amen.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

A Few Words About Community & Conan O'Brien

Let me tell you that I really want to spend my energy writing about the vile treatment of late night comedian and my personal hero, Conan O'Brien but I'm afraid not everyone will "get it". When I made a Facebook post last week about how I couldn't believe that Conan may be on his "krunking way out" I got several replies asking me to define "krunking" and I'll be honest with you, I was incredibly disappointed with my Facebook friends.

I would really like to spend my energy writing about how when I was a high school senior my best friends, Traci and Randi, and I watched Conan O'Brien religiously. We laughed at all of his jokes, we thought driving the desk was HILARIOUS, we believed his predictions in "The Year 2000" were to be banked on and we used his universal cuss word, krunk, in every sentence. Since Conan was new to the scene I thought he may like a little encouragement from 3 schoolers in Park City, Montana so I sent him a letter telling him how much we loved him. I included a picture of the 3 of us smiling widely. He sent us back a glassy 8x10 of himself. I still have it. I'm thinking of framing it and putting it on the family picture wall.

I would really like to spend my time writing about what a crybaby Jay Leno is, how NBC hasn't been the same since "Friends" went off the air and how even though I don't even have TV I will NEVER watch Leno again and am officially a David Letterman fan (cheating dirtball that he is).

Alas, I am not going to spend my energy writing about these things. Instead I'm going to write a few words about community.

Two of my besties, Cary and Kara, talk a lot about community and to tell you the truth I had never heard it in the context in which they use it until I started hanging out with them. They use the word community to describe the bond between Christ followers who do life together. You know, hold each other accountable, share babysitting, are there in good times and bad, do weekends away together and don't blink an eye about throwing scarce dinner ingredients together to put together a fantastic meal for the families while the kids play and the husbands drive home from work.

I gotta say: I love community. We have a few couple friends who we are doing the community thing with and it is awesome. We watch each other's kids, we know each other's struggles, we call each other too early and too late to share triumphs, heartache and prayer requests. We love each other like family and would give a kidney for one another. Nothing is off limits.

Community comes at a price though. You have to be willing to open up, to be vulnerable. You have to be able to ask for help and to give it. Like a healthy marriage the give and take is sometimes 50/50 and sometimes 60/40 or 70/30.

I'm often asked if Jeff and I will ever move to Montana. A few years ago I maybe would have pondered it but now at this stage in my life I can't ever imagine moving away from our church, from my sisters on Council and at Hearts and the priceless friendships that make up mine and Jeff's "community".

Tonight I've been reminded of the special bond that exists in this community and sisterhood I speak of. A woman I serve on ministry with has been very ill for the past couple of weeks. Tonight she took a turn for the worse and she is being admitted in to the hospital. Within minutes, the woman's husband called another woman on our ministry team and she emailed and called dozens of women. As I write she is at the hospital stroking my friend's head along side her husband and dozens of women are praying from home. I cannot think of a more beautiful picture of community.

I am so blessed to be a part of this. So very, very blessed.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

There's No Place Like Home

Hooray...we are home! After the longest day EVER we are home. We had a wonderful time with my Mom, Gigi, aunts, uncles, cousins and besties but boy oh boy was it good to walk through the doors of our own home last night.

I'm sorry I didn't get PYKM up yesterday before I left. I had good intentions but we had some errands to run (like me going and buying a to-die-for sweater at Kohl's that I had seen 3 days earlier and didn't buy at the time so my Mom took pity on me and went and bought it for me on our way out of town--awesome) before we went to the airport and my kids were crazy insane and literally bouncing off the walls (a bad sign for what was to come later in the day) and it just didn't happen. And seriously, in theory if you take 2 suitcases out shouldn't you only need 2 suitcases on your return? I had to bum a duffel bag off my Mom just to get all the crap home we accumulated on our visit.

My Mom, my Aunt Kathy, my oldest and bestest friend Traci...they will all be appalled when they read this but truthfully my favorite part of the WHOLE trip was watching Grey's Anatomy on a TV. And not just any Grey's Anatomy but the first Grey's Anatomy from like a 73 week hiatus! Mmm...McDreamy I missed you. My entire childhood, teenage years and the few years I lived with my Mom while I was in college we never had cable. We only had the free TV and because we lived in Walnut Grove those 3 free channels didn't even come in very good so basically we only had NBC but now that I'm gone my Mom has gone all 1988 on me and gotten cable! It is so weird that my Mom has better TV than Hot Jeff and I but all she watches on it is Chuck and The Today Show.

You'll probably be very disappointed to hear this but I actually watched very little TV while I was in Montana. I did watch Grey's and a few nights I stayed up late to watch Conan because I love him and I think he's funnier than ever with all his NBC-can-suck-it jokes. And on a side note, if and when we get TV back I will NEVER, EVER, EVER watch Jay Leno again. I'm Team Coco all the way.

Ok, I digress. So anyway, yes, our trip home yesterday was like a John Hughes movie on crack. First of all, we allowed ourselves way too much time to get through the Billings airport security and had to sit and wait for over an hour AFTER the security check points. Then, just minutes before it was time to board they said there was a maintenance issue with our plane. Over an hour later we boarded the plane just to sit for another 25 minutes. And just in case you forgot, I was traveling with a 1 and 3 year old. Yep. Please pass the tequila.

We missed our connection in Seattle by 7 minutes. 7 MINUTES. As we landed in Seattle they made that announcement asking to let the folks who had "tight connections" off first so of course after 45 people LIED and acted like they had connections we were able to get off. Emily's stroller was in ala carte but I knew if I waited for it we would definitely miss our connection so I held Emily and told Samuel he would need to keep up. And wouldn't you know that every other friggin' time we have made a connection in Seattle our departing gate is like 10 inches from our arrival gate but not yesterday...NOPE it was on a whole other concourse. So I am holding 30 pound Emily, dragging Samuel and his Lightning McQueen mini suitcase on wheels and my red handbag (which had lost all of its attractiveness because it had sippy cups and softies falling out of it) and RUNNING through the airport. Samuel is yelling at the top of his lungs, "Wait for us. Wait for us. I have to see my Daddy". It was pathetic. Absolutely pathetic. And just like in a John Hughes movie they were shutting the doors as we arrived, red faced and panting.

Lucky for us Seattle has a connecting flight to Portland every hour. Unlucky for us, we had left our stroller on the ala carte.

We did a diaper change, walked around, bought a bag of pretzels and headed to our gate only to see that flight had been delayed.

You have got to be kidding me. That's what you're thinking, right? At this point, the only thing we had eaten for the last 8 hours were airplane snack food and raisins. Emily had lost her mind to the point I wondered if she would ever return to her normal, sweet self. I actually texted Hot Jeff that I was putting the kids on the plane and staying there in Seattle to look for my sanity and patience. I had begun to irrationally think that we would never get home.

Alas, we did make it home though. Tired, hungry and cranky but we made it. Hallelujah! Here are a couple of my favorite pictures from our trip. I took hundreds and have lots of favorites but I don't want to bore you with pictures of people you don't know. I am going to make you sit through these though.


Samuel and Nana's Snowman

Samuel, Gigi and Emily
Gigi crocheted Baby Pete and Baby Ashley new blankies!

Yes, that is a fire in my Mom's oven. We're not sure what caused it but I have suspicions it has something to do with the fact my Mom hasn't cleaned her oven in 23 years. And I hope you think that last sentence is funny because I probably will get cut from her will for writing it.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

I'm Sure You Can Get Ammo Here Also...

My cousin Traci loves to take pictures of funny Montana signs. She's got a great collection of them and they range from the odd to the hilarious. The majority of them have the word "ammo" in them.

The other night I was driving through the little town where my Aunt lives and saw this sign. I loved it. Bug, this one is for you!

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Praying for Your Kids Monday

The kids and I are in Montana getting our Nana on and so I am totally being a lazy slacker and stealing a prayer for this week. It comes from one of my favorite books, While They Were Sleeping by Anne Arkins and Gary Harrell (and the reason I can use it is because my Mom has a copy that she prays for her grandchildren).

It is on the topic of contentment and if you don't think your kids need it then pray it for yourself because if you're anything like me than you could use a little more contentment.

"I would have despaired unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. Wait for the Lord; Be strong, and let your heart take courage; Yes, wait for the Lord" (Psalm 27: 13-14).

Lord, teach _________ to have that contentment that hopes in You. Give her the assurance that leads to inner peace, tranquility and contentment. Amen.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Winter Wonderland?

After arriving in Montana safely yesterday afternoon I went outside this morning to shovel the walk so the kids and I could take Gigi out to breakfast. I stepped outside; the snow glistened in the sunlight, its beauty taking me surprise after being gone from it for so long. I inhaled deeply and thought, "This is why I moved to Oregon". As I exhaled I felt the hairs in my nose freeze and my lungs burn with the freezing bite in the air. The snow around me crept in to my high heeled leather boots. What the...?

My mind raced back to November of 1997. It was 9:00pm and I was getting off from the hotel gift shop where I worked. It was some insane amount of degrees below zero and once again, the hairs in my nose froze the second I stepped outside. Although I had just driven my car a few short hours earlier the door was frozen shut and I thought to myself, "I will move to Oregon". Jeff and I had been discussing our future and needing to be near one another so we could do the day to day dating thing and that night it was confirmed for me that I would gladly leave this frozen wasteland of my youth.

Well now I'm here and there is 86,000 inches of snow on the ground and it is 18 degrees, outside. For the HIGH. Isn't freezing like 32 degrees? 18 degrees? That is like a gajillion degrees BELOW the freezing point. That is so cold!

We are having fun though and despite all the snow I did manage to get the car out of the garage and make a trip to Walmart to buy my children snow gear. They look ridiculously cute, by the way, in snow gear and I'm going to make you sit through looking at pictures of them because they are, indeed, so ridiculously cute in snow gear.

Emily's initial reaction to snow was a little less than thrilled.

Emily and Nana. She has eyes in there somewhere.

How sweet are those rosy cheeks?

Samuel and Nana!

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Praying for Your Kids Monday
College, Careers and Beyond

As you know, one of my favorite things to pray for my kids is their future. Futurefriendships, future choices, future spouses, etc. Their career paths are not exempt from my covering.

Between Jeff and I we have a ridiculous amount of college under our belts. It took both of us a lot of time, a lot of goofing off and a lot of advice from our advisors to finally graduate. We did it (hooray) but we have the student loans to show for it also. I know a certain amount of trepidation in college is normal but I long for my kids to be a little more focused than we were and I long for them choose a career based on God's will for their lives.

When praying about this topic for them I like to pray the New Living Translation's version of Proverbs 3:6, Seek His will in all you do, and He will show you which path to take. I love that the verse doesn't say if Samuel seeks God's will than maybe God will show him which path to take; no, it clearly states if you do this, I will do this.

Again, the goal here is not to see my kids not have a change of major during their junior year (although that would be nice), the desire of my heart is that no matter what they choose they will have done it by seeking God's will and by feeling confident He has shown them the path to take.

Gracious Lord, I am amazed and humbled You listen to the prayers of this Mommy. Thank You for loving ________ even more than I do. Thank You for having a plan for him and that before he was even born You sanctified him. I pray that ________ will seek Your will in all that he does and that You will show him which path to take. I pray that as he grows You will give me insight in to his strengths so that I can help him to follow Your will and grow in the way You designed him. Amen.