Monday, June 28, 2010

Weekend With My Sister

My sister has passed her six month mark at Teen Challenge and was rewarded with a weekend pass. And needing rest she packed up and came and visited my house! Can you imagine a house full of five children being restful?

We actually did have a very good time though and lots of good conversations that were waiting for years and years to come about.

On Friday I picked her up in Seattle and we headed to Costco to pick up some pizzas and Capri Suns to feed the entire neighborhood. Then we arrived home and I cleaned up the house while my sister took my oldest daughter and her friend down to a coffee house down the road for devotions and Jones sodas. This was the third week of "Disciplets", Azzie's middle school age girl group and I thought my sister would like to be a part of it.

At 5:30 about 20 kids packed into our living room to eat the pizzas and watch Avatar. The oldest kids were sophomores and Brayden and Ruby were the youngest, with all the other boys and girls in between. Crazy? Why yes I am;) 5 pizzas, 40 Capri suns and a long movie later and I was ready to plan that every week....see?

On Saturday we woke up, got ready and headed over to our neighbors yard sale. My sister was given a cool shoulder bag from Cambodia and I found some cute little coasters with pictures of Europe.

Then off to the Farmers Market. I have to say that I think this is how I'm going to spend every Saturday during the summer. Did you know that most booths at the market have samples??

After that we went home and everyone took naps. My sister seemed to enjoy the rest and enjoy a little freedom. Actually she went a little wild and crazy doing stuff she hasn't been allowed to do for the past six months. Sleeping in, chewing gum, taking naps, checking Facebook, watching movies that are PG-13... We got in the car and my dial was set as usual to the local Christian station. She immediately turned it to a station and blared Led Zeppelin. I prayed that we'd get a lot of laughing in this weekend and we definitely did about her "crazy" behavior. After dinner we went for a walk and enjoyed a view of the bay with an amazing sunset over it.

On Sunday we went to church and she enjoyed seeing people. Then we came home, watched more movies and took more naps. For dinner we cooked our farmers market meal of minestrone and brushetta. We finished just in time to leave and have her back by 9:00pm on the dot.

It was really great to be able to really talk to my sister with no walls between us. We've never had that as adult women and I felt like it was healing for both of us. For me because I sort of saw how far I'd come since I'd been in the same position of really "owning" my dysfunctional childhood.

The bulk of our conversations centered around one thing...being real. We talked about how sad it is that in a lot of churches and Christian communities you're only able to talk about your issues if you've overcome them. Then they can be your testimony, but if you're in the middle of it, then you'd better keep quiet. So then we just build up walls and no one really knows the real us. That's followed by feeling shameful about our "secrets" and it's just this bad cycle that leads no where good.

So I'm pondering today what it means in my every day life to keep it real.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010


Sorry for the somewhat mess here. I'm figuring out some of blogger's new design features and obviously they haven't worked out all of the kinks! ;)

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Still Long Enough To Listen

Be still and know that I am God. Psalm 46:10a

He who has ears, let him hear. But blessed are your eyes because they see, and your ears because they hear. For I tell you the truth, many prophets and righteous men longed to see what you see but did not see it, and to hear what you hear but did not hear it. Matthew 13:9, 16-17

My house is super still right now. The sun in shining beautifully on what was supposed to be a rainy day. My two older girls are helping at the Annual Boxcar Derby, hoping to raise some money for camp. My middle child is playing outside with her friend and my two youngest are sleeping off their sugar crashes upstairs (we just got back from a birthday party). The house is quiet.

I think it's a part of our culture to love noise and I usually fill up quiet times like this with at least the radio.

But with constant noise when do we have time in our going going lives to just be?

There are two activities that encourage me to be still. Reading and journaling. Well, going for walks in the country is a close third. Reading usually leads me to quiet reflection or contemplation and journaling is a great way to listen because I write down what I've heard.

This is an entry from a few months ago that kind of came out of a desperate prayer. I was in desperate need of some time to be still.

"Dreary day, depressed mood, lacking motivation, headache, so much built up, how do I speak? How do I write? Aching heart..." (I couldn't even form complete sentences!) "Lord I have nothing without you, but why does saying that feel hollow and fake? I need to know today how you view me because I'm feeling like I'm all wrong. Like I'm too much. My emotions, my thirst, my hunger, my longings and desires. It's too much. But not good enough at the same time. I'm deflating...

What is your answer?"

Come my daughter into the sun. Warm your face and stay awhile. Feel me wash over you satisfying your emptiness. Filling it beyond what you can imagine. Rest in me and close your eyes while I fill you with my love. Lay everything aside and in my love abide. Draw near and listen to the sound of my voice as I sing sweet melodies over your aching heart. I am the healer and I'll mend your wounds. I'll calm your fears. I'll give you new dreams from my mind and my heart. You've heard your name when I called you so very long ago, my delight is in you. When you wander I breathe your name, in the gentle whisper of the wind it rides. Listen and I will give you freedom. Listen and you'll see my face.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Guess what!

My lil' sister in law, Katie, is engaged! The whole story is totally sweet and would make you cry if you heard me tell it (possibly because I'd be crying) but I'll save that for another day;)

I took some engagement pictures of the cute couple yesterday and thanks to my friend Lemonade Makin' Mama being so sweet and sharing her secret *free* photo editing website, Picnik, I have them to share with you today.

Okay, actually I am surprised that I had them to show you today. Picnik does take kind of long, but I really like all of the features and will definitely use it in the future. Maybe I'll just have to pay for the premium version when it comes time to take pictures of the wedding.....


I'm so excited.....



Oahu, Hawaii!!!!!


Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Resting Today

I was just reading Amy's blog this morning, which I now have over at the top of my sidebar by the way, and I was struck by her making it a point, as she has again and again, that she is her husband's advocate since he cannot speak for himself right now.

Then I decided to check up on another friend who blogs about being a mother and advocate for her autistic son. I met Jenni at my wedding because she was friends with my parents. We became friends and I rejoiced when she announced she was pregnant for the first time. I remember seeing her sweet little boy at a play date and wondering why when all the other kids were being rowdy and destructive, her little Andrew quietly played by himself in a corner.

I want to share her story with you in hope that you would find encouragement and also pass it along to any parents of autistic children. There's so much healing in understanding and there's so much hope in knowing you aren't alone.

So, there again was the theme of advocating for someone else and it makes me think, who else out there cannot speak for their self. Children in slavery? Babies yet to be born? Hungry orphans? Drug addicted teenagers? Despairing single mothers?

Now we're in difficult territory. It's hard for me to see needs and long to respond myself. I've heard a couple of quotes that I try my very best to remember...

"Just because you see a need doesn't mean you are supposed to meet it." -Pastor Lindsey Rude said this to me and she may have gotten it from somewhere, but wherever it came from, it was good advice for me.

"Pray first and wait for God to call you to action." -My friend Jill who also has a sensitive heart and I know she struggles with wanting to meet every need herself also.

Lord, let me today act on the needs of those who are near and dear to me, and like Amy sitting by her husband's bed, and Jenni, moving to a different state to find the best education for her little boy, let me meet the needs of my family by bringing them love and encouragement, a gentle answer, a needed hug, a warm dinner and my time and energy. You have the needs of the world in your heart and your tears so give me the strength to rest in where you've called me to be.

I am thankful today for where I am. I am thankful for the opportunity to be home with my children. I am thankful for being able to serve them by making the home a place of peace and rest. I am thankful for being a carpenter's wife and being able to dream and remodel. I am really thankful for this blog world, in which I would have never expected to find the support, inspiration and encouragement that I have. Lastly I am thankful for my God who cares deeply about every single one of His children and who's grace is everywhere around us, but sometimes takes us making it a point to see it.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Should I Have Stayed Home?

Let me tell you about my day yesterday...

It was my first day volunteering at Teen Challenge. Have I talked about Teen Challenge? Do you know what it is? It's a year long drug treatment program and my sister just passed her six month mark of being there.

I really hadn't heard of it before she signed up for the program but Teen Challenge is an international ministry, helping people of all ages and lifestyles, overcome their addictions and live their lives as they're called to be. Just seeing the results in my sister has been pretty amazing for she's healthier than I can ever remember seeing her, physically, emotionally and spiritually.

The coolest thing about Teen Challenge is that they will treat their residents free of charge, no money to get in and no money to stay in. The ministry relies on the donations of family members and other donors. They also rely on volunteers and after praying about it for quite a while I met with the house director and signed up.

I'm going to be helping girls who are close to graduation, to learn how to set goals and accomplish something before they graduate. T. who I'm helping right now is wanting to go back to school so I'm going to help her do that, navigating financial aid, learning about work study, choosing the right degree or certification and all that. I'm really excited. I feel like God's really prepared me for this.

Even in some ways that I didn't expect. Years ago when I was in school I remember taking so many useless classes like job searching and resume writing. Actually I remember having to write resumes in several different classes and then I got a job from one of my teachers and never had to use an actual resume. But that's one thing that the director asked me to help the girls write resumes. Yeah, I think I can do that...

Anyway, my day...

I woke up, got ready, printed out some information that I was planning on taking with me. My mom got here to watch my kids and I headed out.

I love a long drive in the morning. I sipped my coffee, listened to some music, listened to a little bit of Family Talk (Dr. Dobson's new radio show) and just enjoyed the time to myself. I prayed some for T. the girl I was going to meet with and all seemed good.

Then I got off the freeway and I started to sneeze. I HATE taking allergy medicine and usually can divert an attack with a big class of water, but I was in the car and the coffee wasn't helping. My allergies were going crazy and I needed something to wipe my seriously watering eyes, which were also itching like crazy.

I reached over and grabbed what looked like a clean gray sweatshirt. I wiped my eyes and was totally rubbing them because they were itching so bad. Then I pulled out one of the sleeves which was inside out and noticed quite a bit of dust come off. "That can't be good" I thought, but I kept using it anyway.

I got to the place and looked in the mirror. Good thing I hadn't put on any eye makeup I thought and I dusted a little powder on my reddened nose and headed in.

The girl who I was supposed to meet with was not there. She is the only resident with a car and had to take another one of the girls to the hospital so I went into the kitchen to get some water and talk to my sister for awhile. My sister was kind of looking at me weird and suddenly I felt like I felt like I could barely see out of one of my eyes, like things were getting blurry. I went into the bathroom and almost screamed. My left eye was almost completely swollen shut and the right one was pretty bad too. It looked like I'd been stung by bees or have you seen "The Mask"? It was bad. Luckily I had my sun glasses so I went in the office, left the info for T., wrote down some stuff I was going to tell her and then I had to head home.

So, I'm heading home, spending some more time thinking, listening to music. It was okay how it turned out I felt but then I'm driving along in the left lane of traffic and my car starts to sputter and lose power.

Seriously??? Thankfully there was a little break in traffic and I made my way over to the right shoulder just as I lost all power to the car. All I could think about was that a police officer was sure to pull up behind me and see what was going on. He'd come up to my window and want me to take off my glasses and then what??? Ahhhh....

I quickly called my husband and you know what? He'd just been thinking about me and was going to call me....awwww....soul mates....;)

Also thankfully he happened to be heading my way and would be there in just a few minutes. He didn't have a gas can though. I sat there and waited while my car rocked back and forth from the wind of traffic. It's always kind of scary to be stopped on the side of the freeway. I called and figured out something for my kids since my mom was supposed to be heading to work and finally my husband arrived.

I got in his car and lowered my sun glasses to show him my face....he was like "Whoa, Babe! Can I take a picture with my phone?" "NO, you can't take a picture! I look like the Mask!" "Haha, yeah, you kind of do..." Hmmm....such a sweet sensitive response from my lover....

Anyway, it all worked out from there but I was instructed to go home and go to bed after freaking out when I thought my suburban had been towed (I remembered it being a little further south than it actually was). I think the exact words were "Honey, it can't be good for you to act like this." Hahahaha (me laughing crazily...)

So, I did actually take a couple of pictures, but this was after a couple of hours when the swelling had actually gone down significantly. In addition to calling me "the mask" I also heard the name Warf.

(My nose is pretty swollen too..)

Everything was too ridiculous for me to be offended though. It really was so sad it was funny.

And although I felt pretty discouraged and like I should have stayed in bed and not ventured out anywhere, I realized that's exactly what Satan would have loved me to think and instead I think the truth is that God definitely has good things planned for this experience and those girls at Teen Challenge!

Matthew 10:26-31 says this "So do not be afraid of them. There is nothing concealed that will not be disclosed, or hidden that will not be made known. What I tell you in the dark, speak in the daylight; what is whispered in your ear, proclaim from the roofs. Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell. Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from the will of your Father. And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. So don't be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Just Thinking...

Keep praying for Adam. I've learned some things by keeping up with Amy's blog. When she first started writing about Adam's recovery I pictured him suddenly waking up. I thought it would be really cool if he awoke on Amy's birthday (a couple of weeks ago) and I prayed for that to happen, probably along with quite a few other people. But it's not like it is in the movies and the process is actually a lot slower, longer and drawn out. Amy shares about it here and between the emotions, the prayers, the hope and the pain, it's also kind of an interesting process. I also came across Kathleen's blog, who's husband is recovering in the room next to Adam's. Keep her and Amy and their families (especially Amy's young daughter Mackenzie) in your prayers as they go through this process of healing.

* * *

Recently at our women's retreat it was my job to talk about purpose. I really didn't want that job and initially would have rather talked about something else. I mean, there's been so much written about purpose in recent years and what could I say that the ladies hadn't already heard?

Thankfully God, through different circumstances and His clear voice, asked for my eyes to be focused on Him rather than finding something "new" and exciting to share. Over and over I kept hearing about sharing the "plain and simple" message of the gospel of grace.

So that's what I spoke on. I mean, I did ask quite a few times "that's it? There's nothing else you want me to share?" "That's it!" I almost heard laughter coming from the heavens as I realized that "it" encompassed everything and anything of importance worth speaking about in this world. That "it" is the center of everything and should be the center of our lives. That "it" is the essence of power and life and wholeness and healing.

Even then when I put my talk together I included quite a witty introduction that I'm sure would have people laughing and loving me more for saying it...

Then before my turn to talk some stuff happened and, after looking at my speech, I realized I'd need to cut out my whole introduction. Wit, humor and all!

It was the most freeing thing I could do before getting up there!

Anyway, just today I was thinking about specific purposes that I've sort of forgotten about because my focus has been on other things. But like I said before God has a way of bringing our focus back to Him and even though it's difficult to wrap my brain around, when my focus is on Him I see my calling clearer. My calling is to be who He created me to be.

~He created me to be a helpmeet to my husband. Isn't helpmeet a fun word? It reminds me of swap meet and makes me think of drudgery, but that's totally the opposite of it's meaning in Genesis. The word "helper" comes from the word "ezer" and actually means something along the lines of life saver. So, I'm called to be my husband's life saver. (I should add that I do not have a Hebrew dictionary beside me, am not a Hebrew scholar, so I'm going off of how I have remembered what I've read about helpmeets).

~He created me to be a mama. This ones pretty obvious, but sometimes I need to be reminded. I was reminded recently while at a fundraiser banquet, the main speaker was talking about how each of us can make a difference in some one's life. I can't remember exactly what he was saying, but I started pondering my purpose and gifts, etc. and it hit me like a big sloppy kiss on the cheek...I'm a mama. That's what my heart is and that's what the world is in desperate need of right now. Kids need mamas to speak into their life, to give them hugs and make them cookies. And that's what I like to do....for everyone. Okay, so as far as the cookies go, I still have to read the recipe on the back of the chocolate chips, but they do turn out good.

~I'm supposed to be praying. Instead of criticizing. We have some people, quite a few actually, that have some pretty heavy things going on in their lives. Sometimes it's easy for me to see how they can fix it. Then it's easy for me to go quickly to criticizing them for not doing it my way. God's been pretty clear that my prayers are the most powerful thing I can do and after I do that I need to leave things in God's hands.

So I was just thinking even after talking about my purpose and our purpose and all that at the retreat, I am realizing that I still have a lot to learn.

....and isn't it funny how we learn stuff so well while we teach it?

....and isn't it crazy how we find our purpose by living it?

....and (just one more thing) isn't it cool how our healing, wholeness and power comes, not when we're sitting waiting for it, but when we're seeking to serve others?

Yep, that's "it".

Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into him who is the Head, that is, Christ. Ephesians 4:15

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Wordless Wednesday: A View From My Room in December

Okay, I'm sorry I can't do the wordless thing completely. This just made me think of a Psalm that I read yesterday morning.

Psalm 19

The heavens declare the glory of God;
the skies proclaim the work of his hands.
Day after day they pour forth speech;
night after night they display knowledge.
There is no speech or language
where their voice is not heard.
Their voice goes out into all the earth,
their words to the ends of the world.
In the heavens he has pitched a tent for the sun,
which is like a bridegroom coming forth from his pavilion,
like a champion rejoicing to run his course.
It rises at one end of the heavens
and makes its circuit to the other;
nothing is hidden from its heat.
The law of the LORD is perfect,
reviving the soul.
The statutes of the LORD are trustworthy,
making wise the simple.
The precepts of the LORD are right,
giving joy to the heart.
The commands of the LORD are radiant,
giving light to the eyes.
The fear of the LORD is pure,
enduring forever.
The ordinances of the LORD are sure
and altogether righteous.
They are more precious than gold,
than much pure gold;
they are sweeter than honey,
than honey from the comb.
By them is your servant warned;
in keeping them there is great reward.
Who can discern his errors?
Forgive my hidden faults.
Keep your servant also from willful sins;
may they not rule over me.
Then will I be blameless,
innocent of great transgression.
May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart
be pleasing in your sight,
O LORD, my Rock and my Redeemer.


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