Saturday, December 17, 2011

The Gift of Christmas Lies

For so many of us Christmas is such a special, sacred, holiday. Sometimes it is easy to become disgusted with the focus on material gifts and parties and the whole "keeping up with the Jones" that Christmas has become. Sometimes we let our love for Christmas morph into a hatred for the way that the world responds to it. And hear me out, I would love a life where there wasn't complete insanity in every store and at all the busy intersections. But if you think about it Christians keep expecting everyone out in the world to treat Christmas with the importance that we do, and that isn't really fair. People who are not believers and followers of Jesus Christ  know that we are all supposed to value Christmas and cherish its "true meaning," but how many people even know why? This year I am embracing the surface level, materialistic lies about Christmas because, like all lies, these Christmas lies will be exposed. The sentiments of Christmas and fairy-tale like story of Christ's birth have become surface level for most Americans. But that only means that the true story of Christmas is that much more accessible. The marvelous story of a world hungry for deliverance and a savior who came to save them is real. Christ is real. Christ is the only Son of God. Christ is the only way to salvation. Take advantage of "fairy tale", and share the real story behind it.  Merry

"And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose." (Romans 8:28 ESV)

Thursday, November 10, 2011

When life gives a beating, blessed am I

I have missed this place...this place for me...but lately I've been denying the call to come back and make the time and use these gifts and talent. I can guarantee you that you can look forward to a post about thankfulness, about community, about health (the good, the bad, and the ugly), and about crazy stay at home mom moments. But in this moment I have to sit down and write the words that are circling around the inside of my head.

Recently I have had the privilege of walking beside a dear sweet friend as she and her husband have taken heartbreak after heartbreak from life. I shared with them recently that during a night of worship at our church, I felt jealous of them. I wasn't jealous of their circumstances--I wouldn't wish them on anyone (and my sweet friend, I wish I could take it away from you). But I was so jealous of their absolute and total need, their thirst, their desperation for Christ and for the hope of heaven. I remember that place. When we were waiting in limbo to find out if I had miscarried (in February), when the bad news of our miscarriage had indeed been confirmed, and when I found out that I was once again pregnant and terrified of what might happen--those were precious times. In the moment I hated all the feelings I was feeling and the place we were in, I felt like it was somehow a bad thing that Christ alone kept me going every day. But when I think about the totality of worship that I felt, it was the one area of my life where I felt passionate. I remember that it didn't matter how big or small the gathering, I felt this compulsion to physically crawl over the rows of chairs in front of me and climb up an invisible ladder and sit in the lap of the Father.  He felt like He was just right there, and He was, but I'm sincerely at a loss for words to describe the closeness I felt during those times. I've done the summer camp thing (and although awesome); I know how to spot a "spiritual high." The most difficult times are different, I don't think anyone would say that adversity brings a spiritual high. But it does bring your flesh, your human nature, to an all time low. Most of us do and say things that we normally wouldn't in times when we feel like we just can't take another minute. This past year and half I look back on those hard times, the heartbreaking days, and the excruciating pain as markers of my spiritual growth and learned reliance on God. The times when I was sad all day, or couldn't move from the pain, the days when I knew that no one could fix my problems, the days when I felt like life had beat me into a limp little pile and then come back for more--those times are when Christ's light shines so brightly. Those times are such precious memories because of how loved I was, because of how much love I felt, because of how much love I needed.

But if it had not been for the good times, for the boring days, for the bible study routines and structure and normalcy with would I have recognized His closeness? What would I have done and felt and believed in those moments where I couldn't hold a bible in my hand or sit in church? He would have been just as near, but would I have even known it? Would I have recognized His character and His love? Would I have been able to stop demanding that He change my circumstances and start praising Him for who He is?

I'll leave you with those questions. This is going to have to be a two parter. 

Sunday, August 28, 2011

The blood

Right now our church is doing a mini series on The Lord's Supper. It has been awesome so far and there is still more to come. Last week when we took The Lord's Supper as a congregation, it was the sweetest one I think I have ever been a part of. Usually in a big room full of people, it is never really quiet. There is always a baby babbling or a woman unzipping her purse or pages turning or people whispering. ALWAYS. But I promise you, if the room hadn't been carpeted, you could have heard a pen drop. Everything was quiet, everyone was still, and we all knew that He is God. It was the kind of quite that I have only heard in empty places. That sounds contrary to what is was, if it was empty--I think it's because hearts were being emptied of sin and making room for the Holy Spirit. It was beautiful.

The worship team came up for a last song, Nothing But The Blood. And the hope that comes along with the atoning blood which washed me white as snow was overwhelming for me. I thought "I cannot imagine existing, much less living in this world if the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus had never happened." Then for the first time an important light bulb lit. "For those who haven't been told, it is as if none of it ever happened. They live in the darkness of a world with no hope. That is why it is good news. It did happen."

Once I lived in darkness, but someone gave me good news. I think for the first time, I really get that. I really get how important that is.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Not spiritual, maybe funny, definitely a rambling

So I found this author that I dare say I love. I loved reading her book, just reading her words, I honestly didn't even care if they were happy or sad words. I just loved the rhythm she wrote in and the way she described things. It was therapeutic for me. Then I made a massively huge mistake. A mistake I will never make again. After finishing her book, I googled her. I googled her and I found her. Then I found a video of her reading from that beloved book. It was the biggest disappointment. She didn't read it the way I read it. She didn't read it with the confidence and ease that I think she wrote it in. I'm sure the way that I was feeling is the grown-up equivalent of finding out there is no real Santa (yep thats right, I never believed in Santa as a kid, and I'm not even sad about it). Unfairly, I decided I couldn't bear to read any of her other books. (In case you can't tell I'm an all or nothing type of girl.) I find myself getting lost in the words and rhythms of a few new authors these days and I have used all my self-control to keep from googling, especially videos. I don't want to lose anymore heroes and heroins, day dreams and poignant perspectives.

Here is the kicker though. Last night Austin and I were watching a movie about a girl who lost her arm in a freak accident. As I was watching her learn how to slice an orange a new way, I thought to myself "what would I have to re-learn?" Then I was relieved when it dawned on me, "my writing comes from my brain so I could totally dictate it or something like that." Then came reality, clashing like a noisy gong. If I couldn't physically type out the words I think I would lose my rhythm. I don't ever speak the way I write. I don't journal the way I type. I only type the way I write. Or is it write the way I type? Either way, I need to work really hard to wean my "writing rhythm" away from my "typing rhythm," is this making any sense?

 I can conclude that one day if I'm lucky enough to have a book that someone loves as much as I loved the previously mentioned book, then I would probably break her heart too if I ever read aloud.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

"Let love be genuine;" Being there for your friend

I'm so excited to have my first ever guest co-writer on this blog! Olivia is close friend that I met when we moved here (Quad Cities, Iowa). Olivia shares a story similar in nature to mine. During this heartbreaking season of our lives, both of us have experienced an amazing God, amazing scripture, amazing prayers, and amazing fellowship. We have both experienced what it is like to be the friend-in-need and the friend-of-a-grieving-friend, and it showed both of us the true need for someone to shed some light on how to handle miscarriage. I was talking with a mutual friend on the phone recently and she said something that got me thinking, "it seems like this happens so much, but I still don't really know how to handle it or what to say." And she was right, miscarriage is more common than you realize and also very common--not knowing how to react (or even if you should react) as a loved one. Thus the reason for this post, to attempt to encourage and communicate how or what or when you should react as a friend.

Accept it, embrace it. Even though everyone's natural tendency is to take the bad and turn it into good, there is an important part of grief that simply cannot be overlooked. Acceptance. There is a reason that denial is a stage of grief, because accepting it is so hard. But your friend desperately needs you to accept her loss. She needs you to sit in her grief with her. No, you don't need to be a debbie-downer, but sometimes the best thing you can do is feel with her. You are not going to make her feel worse when you say sincerely..."I'm so sorry" "I can't imagine how hard this must be" "I hate this for you, I'm here for you, and I'm praying for you." Being optimistic isn't bad, just make sure that you are doing so without trying to brush the loss under the rug. It's hard to grieve with a friend, but when you do she won't feel so alone--which is a beautiful thing.

Say something. Say anything, but not anything. Since our miscarriage several friends have shared with me that they thought of me and prayed for our family often and wanted to say something, but just didn't know what to say. I think that we all have a little voice in the back of our minds telling us that if we say something that we might be one of those people who just end up saying all the wrong things. But the catch is that by not saying anything to your friend who lost her baby so you won't hurt her or remind her about her pain, you really just make her feel like you are ignoring a massive gnash in her heart and don't care at all. Honestly, you can say most things. You can especially say things like, "I'm so sorry" and "I'm praying for you" or "Is there anything you need?" or even the most feared..."Do you want to talk about it?" More than anything, your friend needs love and encouragement and support. You are her friend, so don't be afraid of showing her friendship.

Bring food, bring flowers, bring Starbucks. Just know that you aren't going to fix it. Yes, your friend is capable of cooking herself her favorite comfort meal or driving through Starbucks, but I can guarantee you that she won't. And nothing you can bring her will make her feel right or normal, but it will make her feel loved. Loved because you care, loved because you know her, and loved because when you have a crappy day you just want your favorite things.

Encourage with truths and promises of Scripture. When you aren't sure what your friend needs, give her scripture. It NEVER fails. It is NEVER void. It is NEVER hopeless.

"...For we were so utterly burdened beyond strength that we despaired of life itself. Indeed, we felt that we had received the sentence of death. But that was to make us rely not on ourselves but on God who raises the dead." 2 Corinthians 1:8b-9

"During those many days the king of Egypt died, and the people of Israel groaned because of their slavery and cried out for help. Their cry for rescue from slavery came up to God. And God remembered his covenant with Abraham, with Isaac, and with Jacob. God saw the people of Israel- and God knew." Exodus 2:23-25

"Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words." Romans 8:26

"O Lord, all my longing is before you; my sighing is not hidden from you." Psalm 38:9

"Let your UNFAILING LOVE surround us, Lord, for our hope is in you alone." Psalm 33:22

"The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit." Psalm 34:18

"I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world." John 16:33

Pray for and pray over. The day we found out about our miscarriage we saw some of our dear friends and that night (although I probably wouldn't have planned to visit friends) was an enormous blessing to me. My beloved friend Camie had the most loving reaction to our bad news, she let herself cry in front of me and simply said "there are no words" as she squeezed me tight. Seeing her pain over our pain made me feel literally covered in love. That night while Austin had to be out, she prayed over me and on my behalf and reminded me of the biblical truths of God's grace and mercy and love. In that moment I didn't even know how to pray for myself, and her prays truly interceded for me until I found a way to put my prayers to words.

"Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer." Romans 12:12

Be there. Go out or stay in, but be available. One of the biggest reliefs I experienced in early days of our miscarriage is that I had Olivia with me to return newly purchased maternity clothes and then grocery shop together. When we got to the customer service counter of Target, Liv totally took charge so that I didn't have to. It might just be my memory, but I am sure that she sent out the vibes to the Target lady not to even ask why I had to return my items. It was such a simple little thing, but it meant so much to me. It meant that I didn't have to face it alone.

No offense. Even if you could completely know how your friend feels, she might not care or feel that you do. In moments of grief, sometimes sensitivity is not the characteristic that you friend is exhibiting to you. So just keep that in mind if she says something with a little snap or an attitude of "what I am going through is worse than anything anyone has ever experienced" (because in that moment, those feelings are completely valid to her). This doesn't meant that your friend has a right to treat you with less respect than you deserve, but just understand that she is under a thick fog of pain and when she breaks through it, she will have a little (try alot) more clarity.

What not to say.   "This is why you don't tell that you are pregnant so early." "Well I'm glad because I know you were kind of freaked out about being pregnant." "Well at least now you can (eat sushi, drink wine, live off caffeine, lift heavy objects, eat rare steak, soft cheeses, and deli meat)." Also, anything that might hint that God is punishing, or that once your friend is pregnant again this will all be forgotten. Just stay away from those things. I wish I could give more insight, but honestly...just don't say those things.

Endure. At some point, you will see your friend emerge from her fog of grief and get back to "normal." She will want to do things you used to do together and laugh and goof around and watch chick flicks. Be careful that you never forget what she went through and keep in mind that she might have a rough week come out of the blue. There will come a time when she doesn't need to talk it out or cry on your shoulder, but her miscarriage will always be a part of who she is.

My deepest and most sincere hope is that you can be helped by our experiences. I know that for every woman that can relate to the loss of a miscarriage there is at least a handful (if not two or three or four handfuls) of dear sisterfriends that love her and care. Words cannot express how much the women in my life meant to me in my time of need. Austin and I both were blessed by the friends and loved ones who stuck closely to us during our miscarriage. We love you all and hope that we have the privilege to love and serve you the way you have for us.

*We are by no means the authority on miscarriage. We realize that not every one feels or needs the same things. Between each of our experiences these are the things we agree on.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Relate, never anyone but you

I am filled with love and gratitude about today's particular relate blog post, the relationship I share with my beloved husband. It being Monday, I am especially sentimental (for those of you who don't have our family schedule memorized...Monday is our only full day "off" as a family). We spent this morning the way we spend most Monday mornings, going to our favorite breakfast place and playing with Lyric. I don't know what it is like to be married to someone who doesn't like their kids, but I frankly can't imagine it. I can't imagine not seeing both of my guys glowing with love and playfulness on our den floor in the early mornings and evenings. I love the rhythm of our family. I love every minute of it. Even more, I love that when our rhythm is jolted and jerked by unexpected heartbreaks or unforeseen changes I love that I can literally bawl my eyes blurry on my husband's shoulder and he won't even comment on the mascara (both on his shirt and ALL over my face). I love that we can spend an entire day putting a massive dent in the couch and our netflix que, but that any moment we can go on a long bike ride or talk or write or clean together. I love that we both love to make people laugh. I love that we both love to dream. I love that we both love having friends in our home, especially cooking for them. I love that we both confess secret thoughts and desires with "I would never say this to anyone but you..." I love that I have a best friend who will call me out (in private) if I'm out of line. I love that Austin locks all our doors and turns off all the lights before bed. I love that Austin makes his mind up about something and does what it takes to make it happen.  I love that he loves the Lord, I love that he teaches me about the Lord, and I love that he leads our family biblically. I just love him. He is my favorite person.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Relate, sisterfriend

My husband always says that God gave us two things to make life here on earth more bearable. The first being martial relations (that's marital people, if you aren't married then you need to wait and see) and the second being good food (like really-good-takes-hours-and-hours-and-lots-of-love-kind-of-food). But I think that we have three things, and I think that the third is relationships. Not just every relationship, but the ones that make you better and the ones that push you forward. So here is my first post of my "relate" blog series, which is a conglomeration of odes, if you will. And today it's about the sisterfriend. I'm so thankful for my cherished sisterfriends, you gals know who you are and I hope you can one day know just how much I cherish your friendship.

I'll admit this is a little greeting card-esk, but let's face it--who doesn't sound mushy when they describe the people they love.

A sisterfriend will brave that dreaded hour of "crying it out" with you during nap time at your house so that you can chat over coffee. A sisterfriend will meet you in the midst of your pain and cry with you and pray over you. A sisterfriend goes on walks with you and lets you vent about that thing that's "just hard right now" during the first leg of the walk and brings you back down to earth and to the feet of Jesus during the second leg. A sisterfriend brings you flowers right before they bud because she knows that more than anything, you need to see the promises of spring unfolding in front of you. A sisterfriend knows and loves that your man comes before her and always will. A sisterfriend knows you, loves you, and cares; that is the meat and potatoes of the most meaningful gal pals I've got. Just showing up and knowing, loving, and caring.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Discovering Bitterness

I am so inspired to write, I just read so many awesome posts from my reel. So I decided to reach back into my "back-logged and previously written, but not yet publish-perfect" drafts, add on, edit, and post.

I always thought that when people get to the point where they "grieve over their sin," it was a good thing. And it is a good thing... except it feels awful. In the months following our miscarriage (four months to be exact) I've found that 95% of the time I can go through my day being thankful for both of my babies, the one who is here with us and the one who is with the Father. I can think about that little one and not be filled with sadness or sorrow or disappointment or anger or jealousy or regret or shame. But then there is that sneaky remaining 5%. It's never expected, but something random will happen in a random day or I will read something or I will hear something, and here I am. Here I am aching from a whole in my heart, hurting from the void in our lives and filled with this burning thing. Burning too deep and so real that all I can think about is that one thing I read or that one careless comment I heard.
It's bad enough when those things happen in and of themselves. But to be filled with grief and then realize...this thing, this burning's bitterness. It's sin. I had it hidden, way deep under here. And it grieves me. It hurts. I hate it. I wanted to think that I was passed that. No, more than "passed," I wanted to think that I avoided it altogether. I wanted to think that I loved God enough and clung to Him tightly enough and hid enough scripture in my heart, that I wouldn't have to deal with my sin on top of my grief. I don't want this bitterness, it feels like taking a step backwards. And I can't go back. I won't go back.

But it isn't a total step backwards, grieving my sin is a step towards repentance. I thought grieving your sin meant being a super spiritual person. I thought it would be awesome. But really, the heartbreak of my own sin and the tension that sin brings between me and my sweet feels terrible. But like all's taking me somewhere, it is moving me forward. It's bringing me to repentance and amazing grace.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Fighting the More Monster

I'm currently typing to you from the cutest possible blog writing senerio, sipping coffee looking out the huge windows of my in-laws' "flat" in eastern Europe. We love it here. The culture just fits us, Austin keeps saying he was born in the wrong country. Outdoor cafes literally line the streets, all the food is amazing as well as fresh and natural, the people enjoy each other's company and work to live (unlike Americans who live to work). But amidst all the picturesque people, places, and things there is an ugly dark spot for me...and it's growing.

So sometimes as a young married, new parent, and stay at home mom I chat with other women in any or all of these categories about saving money. I love the idea of being thrifty and I sort of pride myself on it. I don't care about name brands and I love shopping at outlets or TJ Max kind of stores. So as a spender...I save money. But when it comes down to it, I would save a lot more money if I wasn't "saving as a spender" I would save money if I was avoiding spending altogether. But who wants to do that? Well my friends, I have come to discover that there are wondrous women out there who can nonchalantly and honestly say "I just don't need more stuff." Uhh..seriously?! Seriously, you don't want more? Dang. I was hoping that this was just a human-nature kind of thing or at least a woman-nature thing. Because I want more. I always want more stuff. I guess it took me this long to realize it because I'm not concerned about the social-status of my stuff...but nonetheless I still want stuff. I want new trendy outfits, I want housewares, I want furniture, I want practical stuff, I want unique stuff, I want baby stuff, I want decoration stuff, I want kitchen stuff, I want shoes, I want the perfect pair of jeans, I want loose fitting shirts that somehow simultaneously make me look skinnier, I want outdoor stuff, I want garden stuff, I want hardcover books, I want an e-reader, I want new music, I want intellectual stuff, I want organizational stuff, I want it all. I'm a monster.

Bleck just writing all that made me so grossed out. And reading it over for a proof read made me even more disgusted. So instead of chasing the more monster I'm going to try really hard to chase "enough." I think that sometimes people see the word "enough" as a bad thing, like it really means "just scratching the surface." But I think it means "yea I'm good, and this is good." When I abandon my "I want I want I want" I realize that I am good and this is good. So here's to having an amazing husband, a joyful baby boy, coffee in the mornings on the deck, and  breezy evenings eating Dairy Queen blizzards with good people. And you know what? It is enough. I guess thats the secret all those wondrous women knew, chasing enough--pursuing it, embracing it, and cherishing it. 

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Blogging about what to blog after a monumental blog

Even though I LOVE writing, sometimes I just get totally lost. First of all, how am I supposed to follow up one of the most personal blogs ever?! I don't want to paint myself in a corner and keep talking exclusively about miscarriage (even though, I will definitely continue writing about that), because then it will be even harder to break out and write about all the many other things that are write-worthy. I don't want to do a photo blog of photos from our overseas trip to Serbia (though some blogs will definitely come out of that trip). I don't want to write about mundane things or funny things (though as the mishaps and misadventures occur, and they always do, I will share them). So I will post a blog about writers block. I am so grateful and overwhelmed that any of you even read my blog, and I promise I tried really hard to write while we were on our trip. Oddly enough, the writing that I most enjoyed was a snip-it about not being able to write, which turned around and made itself into a snip-it about writing. So I will copy and paste from the email I wrote myself and you can just take what you will from it.

Thoughts on writing

Something about being somewhere with so much history but also so much modern western's like a big huge contradiction. Like as soon as you really start thinking about all the history and tradition, you get distracted by all the shopping and eating and drinking. And of course another huge contradiction, I've been dying to grab another pair of hands to keep up with Lyric so that I could get some writing out, but now with an abundance of time on my hands and plenty of help with the little man...I can't seem to muster a significant sentence to save my life. It's almost like a forbidden fruit--writing, at least for me. It's like this important, even urgent at times, all consuming, relentless stream of words and thoughts and concepts just fighting to make it out...but once I have time to really sit down and write, the river slows down to a glassy smooth and there is nothing. It makes me sad really, like maybe it was just a momentary glitch and not any actual talent or gift or rhythm. The rhythm, that's half of it. The flow of the stream and the feel of the river. Because who cares if I have thoughts-- everyone has thoughts, what makes them special is the way the thoughts feel. Do they feel escaping and fun and urgent and clever, do they burn into my mind leaving me desperate to both write them and read them? A thought is just a thought unless you like reading it and hearing it and saying it.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Easter and our miscarriage.

I have literally written and deleted and written this post at least 6 times. Each time, stopping and giving myself some time and space to read this again before posting and each time I come back to it, I am increasingly dissatisfied. So I'm just going to rip the bandaid off. I'm just going to say it. I'm saying it. I had a miscarriage. It happened in February.

I rewrote this post (and will probably continue to fight the urge to toss the whole thing out again) so much because every day is different. One day I sat down and wrote this blog with lots of facts, medical facts, timeline facts, all sorts of facts with nothing personal or emotional. One time I sat down and wrote this blog with all emotion, everything dark and sad and scary and mad, I wrote it all without any sense of hope or resolve. One time I sat down and wrote this blog with all the optimism and hope you could imagine, filled with gratitude and silver linings.  None of those felt right on the second read, but all of them were right in that moment, on that day. The fact of the matter is that I have felt impersonal and very distant and only able to repeat the medical facts that I know. I have felt sad and hurt and betrayed by my body. I have felt (and thankfully continue to increase in) feelings of gratitude that we were given the precious gift of guardianship even if only for 6 weeks and hopeful that my deepest desire, to bring the Lord glory with my life, will be fulfilled in Him and through Him.

It was so hard to write this for two reasons. One being that at first I thought I had to know exactly how I would explain it, how I felt about it, and where it leaves us before I could write it out and "break the news" on my blog. The other reason being, I was fearful of what someone would comment or what someone might say if they ran into me in the grocery store after reading this. I'm not exactly the best at being vulnerable. But God is good, God has been good and He will continue to be good.

This is the last post for my Easter series because this Easter the gift of salvation was vital to my heart's gladness. Before the miscarriage happened, I had an unshakeable fear that miscarriage was in the future for us. At first just thinking about it felt like driving on a long road that faced a dead end. But then I looked at our life (including and focusing on the possibility of a miscarriage) through the gospel. When I looked at our miscarriage with a heart fixed on the gospel, it wasn't a dead end anymore. Jesus freed me. Jesus will continue to free me, there are no more dead ends. "and hope does not put us to shame, because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us."I can hope; I can hope in the Lord, because my identity is not dependent on how many babies I can have. My identity is, however, completely wrapped up in, intertwined with, and dependent on Christ's death and resurrection as a substitutionary atonement for my sin.

I had to write this and share this, because God will be glorified through this...but how can I believe that if I keep it a secret to protect myself? This is a part of my story, my story of God the Savior and His continuing faithfulness. This is not a dead end, this is part of my sanctification. I also shared my story because miscarriage is common, and yet extremely isolating. If any of you out there can benefit from reading and sharing in this journey, then my story will not be wasted and it does not hold the power to isolate you or me any longer.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Easter is here

Easter is almost over and my weary fingers are delighted to type away about such a full day. I'm exhausted, but the good kind of exhausted from rich worship, teaching, fellowship and celebration.

Yesterday I kept thinking about what that middle day between crucifixion and resurrection must have been like for the beloved disciples. I am sure they were in the midst of utter sadness and grief, I wonder if some of them were confused. This was a man that they thought would be a great king, and now it seemed that he was just gone. When I think about the joy and surprise that must have overtaken them when they got news that he had risen and was not in the tomb or when they finally recognized him there with them, it's one of the few things that will make me cry in a public place...I'll just put it that way.

So I will just leave you with this last thought. The most joyful thing about Easter (in my heart at least) is that the only promise that ever mattered was kept. A promise kept. His promise kept.  He is risen, He is risen indeed!

If you have questions about all this Easter business I've been chattering away about, you should definitely check out the Easter message from our church, Harvest Bible Chapel Davenport. 

Friday, April 22, 2011

Good Friday, a day for remembering

Today is a busy day, the start of a marathon if you will. Being a pastor's wife, you would think that I would choose a different holiday as my favorite, but the very reason that Easter is such a big ministry weekend is the same reason I love it--it's pivotal.

Since I am squeezing all I can out of every minute today, I will be brief (but hopefully not lacking). I just watched the 30 minute Good Friday film that Mars Hill Church released for free download (this film is graphic and discretion should be used, it may not be appropriate for young ones) and Pastor Mark said something that perfectly explained how I feel about these three days. He said "Good Friday is about what we did to Jesus, and Easter is about what Jesus did for us."

This morning Austin and I read Lyric the story behind Good Friday, he obviously had no clue why we were reading him a book with no pictures...but it was important for us to remember, with reverence this morning, the death of Jesus. I would encourage you to take the time to do the same. Sunday we will celebrate like no other, but today we are remembering, with utter gratitude, the price that was paid.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Easter is my favorite; Easter is hope

Easter is my favorite. It beats Christmas, Halloween, and definitely Valentines day. The last two...I mean duh, come on those are not really in the running to be anyone's favorite, but Christmas? Yea it beats Christmas, barely, but in my book it still beats it.

Easter is the celebration of the sacrifice and triumph that forever changed my life and I hope it changed yours too. Easter is what hope really means isn't it? No, not literally. Explaining that will take a moment, I need to step back and tell you a story. So several years ago during my college days, one of my many many "phases" was the stereotypical-enlightened-college-student-save-the-world phase. I had found a humanitarian cause that I was passionate about and decided to throw myself into it. I applied for an internship (which thankfully I did not get) and was prepared to up root and move to a third world country. My dad was patient in listening to my rants (I'm sure he knew that this too would fade just as other temporary passions had before), but then gently pointed out one very major flaw. If my plan for "saving the world" did not include and completely center itself on the gospel, then I really wasn't saving them. He pointed out that while drinking wells, and new shoes, and safe homes were all wonderful things and very worthwhile causes, if those causes had no intention of saving their soul then it was essentially improving their temporary quality of life until they spent eternity in torment. I never thought of it that way, I had never looked at life with the gospel in the center. I mean sure God and being good and reading my bible and going to church...all that was at the center, but this was the first time that it really dawned on me that without the gospel activating all of meant nothing. None of the people who "needed my help" would really ever have true hope until they had Jesus.

Ok, so now we are back. Now you understand why Easter is hope (my abridged version). I love that every year we take a day and we praise the one who made us new. I love that for that day, we stop and we remember what it took to overcome sin and death, it took Jesus. Perfect, perfect, clean, holy Jesus. I love that we celebrate the event that gives us our only true "second chance" just as the flowers are budding and blooming. I love that we celebrate that Jesus came out of the tomb during the time of year when we emerge out of our winter hibernation. I even love that Easter egg hunts happen, even though they don't really hold any connection to Christ's death and resurrection, because when people are out enjoying nature they are witnessing the power of God. "For what can be known about God is plain to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse" Romans 1:19-20. And I love that even when the egg-hunts get rained out (which could very well happen this year) that we can marvel at his love "he will come to us as the showers, as the spring rains that water the earth" Hosea 6:3. And I really really love that Easter is one day on a calendar, but the gospel "is the power of God for salvation to every who believes"(Romans 1:16-17) every day. Every single day, hallelujah!

Friday, April 15, 2011

Getaway--The First Easter Blog

Fresh off a getaway to Chicago with my wonderful husband this morning feels amazing. The best thing about getting away is that reality does not feel quite so realistic. Something about being away and out of your normal environment brings clarity. It's like being in an airplane and looking at your life. You can see everything where it really is and how it all fits together.

At least for me, just as wonderful as getting away, coming home is equally rejuvenating. Today is not really any different from any other day for a SAH (stay at home), but something about it seems special and beautiful. Breakfast with Lyric and going to the Y--it seems so adventurous. It seems so new.

That is why Easter feels so different for me. It's why Easter is my favorite. Because it is a celebration of newness. New life, new creation, new promises, new hope.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Oh Poo

This post is mainly written for my sweet and sassy friend Adrienne. She once confessed to me that she secretly (sorry Aige, I guess the secret is out) wished little mishaps and misadventures on me because she loves reading and/or hearing my over-dramatic and ridiculous recounts of them. 

So recently I was changing Lyric's diaper, a very poopie and fully loaded diaper, and it was just like any other changing--at first. Like any other changing because Lyric squirmed and half-rolled over as I attempted to clean and re-diaper him, as usual I had to put a toy right on his chest, forcing him to lay straight on his back to play with it. All went well...a diaper change success! Then something happened (and I don't say "something" because I am trying to build your curiosity, I honestly don't remember what exactly happened) I must have gotten a phone call or had to answer the door or sign for a delivery....something that required me to quickly wrap up the dirty diaper, abandon it, throw up the baby gate, and walk away briefly. After what could have only been 30 seconds, I walked back over to Lyric and saw him sitting up and so alert, cutely playing with a toy with all his concentration. At first I couldn't see what toy Lyric was playing with because of an ottoman thingy that was just barely disrupting my line of vision. Then, as I walked up close to Lyric and the presumed "toy," I was horrified. Lyric had unwrapped the dirty diaper (ok, yes..I know, at this point you think I am both a disgusting individual for leaving a dirty diaper on my floor and a horrible mom for leaving the diaper not only on the floor, but within reach of a child....try to push past those feelings), not only had he opened it, but he had discovered his very own homemade creation....poop. At this point he had two fistfuls of poop that he was watching himself squeeze and mold like play-dough. Oh and I should mention that our dog Max was totally in on the action, but he was much more concerned about the diaper full of Thank you God, Lyric had not thought to taste his new play thing. I rushed over and picked Lyric up carrying him outward and trying to hold his hands away from his mouth. Immediately went to the sink to wash the poop out and off of his hands. I hesitated...what would be worse? Switching venues thus delaying Lyric's hygienic needs for a moment and going to a bathtub or at least a bathroom sink to rinse away poop...or to take care of this where I am, the kitchen...a place where food is prepared and cooked but allowing me to clean my son as quickly as possible??? I choose the second, and found that washing the hands of a 7 month old who doesn't want them washed is near impossible. I must have washed his hands 20 times before I got all the poop out of every crevasse. Then it was my turn. And then back to the carpet and the dog.

We recovered and none of us got worms from our poop interaction, that I think about it, is probably a miracle of sorts. So... I will leave you with this sentiment. No matter what comes up, no matter what distractions, no matter what emergency, always ALWAYS throw the dirty diapers away first.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

green under all this gray

I find myself hesitating to use gardening as an analogy or metaphor in this blog, hasn't it been done enough? But I absolutely cannot hold my compulsion to rejoice out of pure desperation for spring. Warm days have come and gone and since been forgotten with no notion of spring in my mind. But this weekend I made amateur attempts to garden in warm weather. Our flower bed was completely covered with ugly browns and grays (usually my favorite colors in clothing, but not so much for nature) I found myself thirsty for more green with each new leaf and bloom that appeared.

This year, I needed spring. No, you don't understand...I needed spring. I needed to see the life and hope and newness of the green after a long desolate winter. I needed to see that He can and does make all things new. I need to see that for every winter comes a spring. Each of those winters with its unique snow flakes and blizzards and each spring with its new surprises and colors and smells. I could cry just thinking about the promises of spring. With every pile of dead winter plant carcasses I pulled out of our garden, I could breathe a little more. I experienced more freedom with each fist full of muck that disappeared.

Thank you for spring! I can dance again. Healing is in your hands.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Tattoo Taboo?

Recently there has been some talk of tattoos around us, friends getting them, parents asking about them, and brides covering them up. It made me realize, I haven't really shared my tattoo story with many people.

Things this blog post is not:
1. a tactic to encourage or divert anyone from or for tattoos
2. a way for me to show off, although I do love my tattoo, its about my story
3. making a statement about others choices or motives for getting inked

 Right before Lyric was born I was looking for his life verse, and I wanted it to have a music reference in it. I wanted this reference, not because we love music in our family, but because I wanted Lyric to have the biblical and spiritual connection for the name we chose for him. When we were picking names, and we came upon Lyric, I personally loved it so much because I feel like life is a song of sorts and having Lyric was like putting words to our song as a family.

 In July, four weeks after Lyric was born, he was diagnosed with Pyloric Stenosis and had to have a minor surgery (you can read a past post about what exactly happened). During that time I clung to the verse Psalm 28:7 as my utter comfort and promise. Ironically, I had nearly forgotten that this was Lyric's life verse, I just knew that the truth within this particular verse was such a source of encouragement and strength when I felt that I had neither of my own. The verse says "The Lord is my strength and my shield; in him my heart trusts, and I am helped; my heart exults, and with my song I give thanks to him." Being a parent and feeling like this baby's life was completely in your hands, and then suddenly being completely and totally out of control and unable to prevent and protect your child shakes you to the core. I would never have wanted to go through this, to be with our teeny tiny baby in the hospital, but I would never trade it.  The Lord was so near and so strong. The way Austin tells the story of the day is almost humorous to me. I was unusually composed and unemotional, and Austin was (while still composed) definitely emotional. If only he had known at the time that I was repeating this one verse in my head over and over and over like a crazy person. (Oh and no worries, I don't have a heart of stone, after we left the hospital with Lyric I completely lost it).

Psalm 28:7 was brought to life because of Lyric's surgery, but it was it's content which was completely glued to my heart and mind. The Lord is my strength, yes absolutely true. The Lord is my shield, definitely had experienced that protection. In him my heart trusts, God had not been taken by surprise--even though I had. My heart exults, yes yes...he is worthy of rejoicing even when I'm scared, alone, drained, hurting, and exhausted. With my song I give thanks to him, both with my literal song and the song of our life and family.

So now you know the back story. The actual sentimental and personal reason why I was compelled to get a tattoo. I should also note that I already knew that I liked tattoos (since marrying a super hot guy with one himself), and I knew that when/if I had something meaningful enough for a lifetime, I would get a tattoo myself. For me, my tattoo is not art (even though I think it's pretty), it's not self expression (I mean kinda can't totally avoid that when you permanently mark yourself), it's not an attention grabber by intention, it's my Ebenezer.

In 1 Samuel, God comes to the aid of the Israelites when they were in battle. Ebenezer means "stone of help" which was set up by Samuel in remembrance of the help God had brought them. (To get the full story, read 1 Samuel 7)

My tattoo is my ebenezer, a mark to remember what God is, was, and will continue to be.

And for the logistical side of things: I waited until I was out of my parents house and no longer under their authority (they were not big fans of the idea), I waited until I was married (my body isn't just mine, it is also my husbands, so I didn't want to do something permanent until I knew that the man I would marry would love it), and I waited until and only tattooed after I was sure that this was something that I would never regret. you have the full story.

Paige Newton Photography

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Why blog?

So... previous to my last post I decided that I would be writing much more frequently in order to "exercise" my writing "muscle" so as to improve, to share the beauty and heartache of this life on earth with others, and, frankly, to bulk up my blog traffic.  And yet, here I am arriving "home" from an unexpected sabbatical....but that is another blog for another day.

So lately, I've been thinking of a...well I guess a mission statement of sorts for why I should blog. Why is it to important to broadcast my thoughts on the world wide web? What I came up with so far is that as my life continues to develop and grow and change, I learn more about myself and more about God and how the two collide and what that even looks like. I guess, I keep discovering that there are so many things in life that are kept quiet, some good and some more like secret land-mines. But how can we stay so quiet if God uses those things in such pivotal ways in our lives? No one can really warn you or prepare you for all of life's lessons...but shouldn't we rejoice together? Shouldn't we rejoice through the pain and heartache as well as through the marriage vows and first steps and all the goodness? We don't have to spill all the gory details of our happenstances, but shouldn't we share how the cross changes everything about them?

Well shoot, that ended up being a chunk of rhetorical questions instead of a concise "mission statement"...but hey it made the point...I think.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

It is He who made us

This is the post I didn't really want to write. I have been avoiding writing this by telling myself I couldn't share something so personal until I had some sort of resolution. I compromised with myself. But please, bare with me, it's scary to be vulnerable.

"You make beautiful things, you make beautiful things out of the dust. You make beautiful things, you make beautiful things out of us." This amazing lyric is from the song Beautiful Things by Gungor. Ironically, ever since Austin introduced this song to me I have been obsessed with it. Like the one-song-repeat-for-an-hour kind of obsessed. I persistently requested that Austin do this song with our dear sisterfriend Camie. All this time I have been singing this song to my Creator, and unwittingly I was lying. I didn't really believe He made beautiful things out of us... well not all of us. Not me. (my heart hurts just putting that to words)

Since being pregnant, I have been so dissatisfied with my physical appearance. No, that isn't sufficient. I have lamented over my physical appearance. I have avoided mirrors. I have believed evil lies about myself. Shamefully, I even dreaded future pregnancies because of what it would do to my body. (I feel completely mortified putting words to that) I lived in bondage, whilst giving my Redeemer a slap in the face. Nothing looked good enough or felt good enough or was good enough. I had just welcomed our amazing and healthy son into the world and moved across the country being lead to an awesome church and community. I was learning so much about Him, but there was a growing spiritual cancer inside. I had come to a point where nothing in my closet was doing the job, and finally a point where nothing in any store could work either. At first I was buying new clothes and returning them the next day out of dissatisfaction. Around Christmas my sweet husband let me go out and buy a few things for myself, but I couldn't. Nothing fit right, nothing was cute enough, nothing was worth waiting in line for or paying for. We were in Dallas mind you, a place where I have had no issues blowing money in the past. This wasn't the first time that clothes or the lack thereof had broken me. This time, I was so anxious to get back to my parents' house and see Lyric. I was convinced that if I could just see him, I would remember why my body had changed so drastically and how worth it that small sacrifice was. But it didn't work. I sat looking down at him sleeping, and cried, whispering to Lyric (mainly to myself) "why aren't you enough? having you should be enough"

God had not been silent. My Savior had not abandoned me ever. He had been whispering and sometimes pleading with me to understand. He showed me that there are so many women that would give up their physique if they could just have a healthy baby in their arms. He opened my eyes to the other side of the coin, that if Lyric had been unhealthy that I too would have gladly traded my looks for him. He told me about my creation, "Katy, I did not create you as an infant and stop being your Creator. I created who you were yesterday, I created who you will be in 50 years, and I created you as you are now." And yet...and yet my sin was my comfort. My hatred of my changed body was fastening chains that bound me tighter and tighter. When I realized that this was sin that I was facing and not--what exactly was it that I thought I was dealing with? It had been so long since sin had seemed so big to me.

There was a series of events which served as a catalyst in breaking chains. In a long dark drive to a relatives' home, I finally started to understand how much it hurt my man that I completely despised my physical self while he "was obsessed with [me] post pregnancy." Being married, I almost always forget that "being one" isn't just a figure of speech. When I hate me, I hurt him. While we were in Dallas we had the opportunity to share dinner with our beloved friends the Patronellas, and after sharing my shameful feelings of inadequacy with sisterfriend, Andea, I knew that I had to move from this place. I wrote a timeline of sorts in my journal. How did I feel about myself pre-preg, during preg, and post preg. If I highlighted the number of times the word "proud" was written, you would need sunglasses to read the thing. Of course. Of course my pride had found another way in. Why did I think that this idol would just disappear from my life? While we were in Texas, we had the joy of attending my sister in-law, Tara's church, Stonegate Church. Our friend Rodney Hobbs is the pastor there and we were a little sad that he was out of town, but their associate pastor Dan was speaking in his place. Dan taught on biblical repentance, a topic that would hit me right straight between the eyes. Dan shared that sin was not just doing wrong things, it was anything that put tension between us and God and needed to be repented of. BOOM. And there it was. Finally, finally I could see the steps that were before me. It was repentance. It was not a total postpartum make over. It was not finding the most flattering clothes. It was repentance.

It seemed like God had softened my heart and taught me, like I had gotten that big fat nugget of wisdom I needed, but He was not finished. I just started the Siesta Scripture Memory Team through Living Proof Ministries. The idea is too choose two scriptures a month and memorize them, for a year (along with countless other believers). I need to arm myself with scripture to fight these lies. My Precious Lord gave me this to start "Know that the Lord, he is God! It is he who made us, and we are his; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture." Psalm 100:3. Such a simple truth, but one that shapes my identity. I just started looking for my next scripture to memorize when I read this with fresh eyes "but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God's sight is very precious" 1 Peter 3:4. "in God's sight is very precious." Why wasn't that my approach? Why have I been living this way? While journaling away about these precious jewels, I found myself writing "It's exhausting trying to be beautiful for everyone." BOOM.(again) I was living for the world. I wanted them all to think I was beautiful, for all of them to give me a pat on the back for being beautiful. Not conforming to this world holds a stronger meaning when it means not caring what the biggest trend is or how thin I am.

This post has taken me a full week to write (not including all the "mental writing" aka lying awake at night with this looming over me). All week I have struggled back and forth. On one hand I felt like this battle was too current and fresh for me to post for the whole world to have access to. On the other hand, I needed (still need) to know that other women share this battle, so maybe if I share this then some woman out there can turn from her chains, or at least realize she is living in them. But, I can't ignore the call that compelled me to share this part of my heart.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

It's a New Year

Ok, so I am mentally writing a bulky blog post. So while I finish mulling it over, I decided to post a fun, short, little post.

New Year's Resolutions healthy out at least 3 times a week
3.floss every day the Living Proof Scripture Memory without falling behind (if you want to join me, read more about this here.

As cliche as it is to have New Years Resolutions, I have them nonetheless. I think I picked four that I can accomplish, what about you?