The deep end.

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Writing is hard. It’s not hard to put words on a screen, but it’s hard to not put my identity in my audience response.

And I wonder why I write? Do I write for that response? Or do I really love writing?

Is it appropriate to write for an audience? Is there a time and place for that? Or should I only ever write because my heart longs to give words to what is inside. I long to read what I feel – like I can’t quite understand or have clarity until I have encased it in words.

Being willing to share my heart encased in words and offer it to the world around me serves a greater purpose than me. It gives others an opportunity to say “me too”, and potentially passes hope, like a baton, to another.

That is why I should write.

I’m not going to lie. This is a bit of a paradox. To truly write well and to be free in writing I must write for that last mentioned reason. And often when you offer your heart encased in words your audience responds positively because they can connect. But my writing isn’t pure or right when I am  motivated by people.

So how do I keep the freedom and the purity? It has to be by writing everyday and writing what is inside and choosing to not follow the stat trends and people-response. This is hard for me. It doesn’t come naturally. I like to know how people are responding. However, I know if I am led by the cause of pleasing people that I will eventually stop writing. My purpose will ebb and flow like the tide and it will cease to actually reach people. It becomes manufactured and faux.

We must do our work for a greater cause. We must create out of freedom. We must reach past our audience and fans and critics and step deeper in the actual calling. We are all called to create. Creating innately gives us a deep sense of fulfillment, but also fills a hole in the world around us. Lives can be touched and changed by our willingness to create and share that creativity with the world around us.

However God has called you to create must be done at a level deeper than the shallow end of the pool where your feet touch and all applaud. We must venture to the place where it takes faith to move forward. We have to paddle awkwardly sometimes and there may be a time where it feels frantic. We may have seasons where no one watches or if they are watching they are not applauding but rather booing or naysaying.

Pressing through, not retreating, learning to swim, learning to float, continuing to be challenged is where we do our best work. And we must “do work” to do our best work.

The deep end is where our destinies are made and where future generations are touched.

I want that.

 



62.

62

 

Mom. Today is your 62nd birthday. I think of you today in heaven. I know that time isn’t a big deal there but I wonder if you know that today is special for me. Special because you were born today. What an impact you have had. You are my most tangible experience with love ever. You showed me what it meant to serve other people, you quietly laid down your life for the people around you. I never questioned what love meant because I had you every day. I’m so very thankful for that!

 

I am sitting at a table surrounded by 3 of your grandbabies. We talked about heaven yesterday and how when we get there, that you will probably be running to meet them. Your love for your kids and grandkids is so beautiful!

 

I wanted to stop and tell you. I want to tell you that i am happy. That the “good news” of Jesus that you told me about and lived out – it really is the best news I have ever heard. I want you to know that Jesus is healing my heart. I want you to know that I remember you and that I still hate cancer, but I am coming to KNOW in my heart that Jesus does too. He sits with me in my pain. He doesn’t try to squish it down or cover it up or speak it away. He just sits with me in it. And reveals truth. And brings hope and healing. This week He reminded me so clearly that the day is coming when all the cancer and MS and infant death and – all the pain – it will all end. That day is coming! IT’S COMING! It has already come for you!

 

I want you to know that your legacy lives on. Beautiful mama. I miss your beautiful hands. I miss hearing you sing. I miss your baked bread and your phone calls.  I miss having coffee with you and laughing till we cried. I regret the way I treated you as a young adult. I thought i knew so much. I wish i would have honored you more. I remember many times I bulldozed over your thoughts. I’m so sorry! Thank you for loving me so well, so graciously, even then. Thank you for your sweet love. You are so missed. In the deep aching way that doesn’t have words. And yet heaven awaits us. Where we will have eternity to share! To worship, to laugh, to drink coffee? Glory!

 

So until then, I will honor you. I will honor you by eating almond joys and almond roca, and laying down my life more. I will honor you by loving my babies and telling them about Jesus. And you. I will honor you by singing and drinking coffee and laughing until i cry. I will honor you sometimes by weeping sometimes. I will honor you by baking bread, and growing plants and reading the Word.  I will honor you by using my voice to speak what God has given me to say. You are so loved and celebrated today.

 

 



Home.


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My sweet Grammie slipped home yesterday. It’s hard to process what this means. Our minds don’t seem to be equipped to understand death. How someone can be so present and real and then truly absent from their earthly body?

 

As my Grandma lay in that hospital bed the last few days she was surrounded by those she loved best. They kept vigil with her through a day, a very long night and another very long day. It is so right to be surrounded by those you love as you step out of your earthly body. My Grandma lived a wonderful full long life. There is no sense of days being cut short, but more a beauty of a life well lived.

 

My Grandpa passed away three years before and the thought of joyous reunion is so glorious. As natural people, when we think of heaven, our minds go to those we know who have gone before. But lets be real. All of those people take a back seat when it comes to being face to face with the One who loves us the most and gave everything so that we could live forever with Him. I can only imagine it was the thing that completed Grammie. What incredible satisfaction and fullness to be with Him!

 

And here we wait. Us left behind. I indeed wept this week. Not as much for Grammie, but more for the ones she leaves. Saying goodbye, even for a season, is so hard. It felt impossible to me. I couldn’t say goodbye to my mom. A mother fills a place in you that no one else can. She is made to be a constant place of safety and protection. She is also made to speak truth – hard truth and yet life giving truth. She is the one you call and can call for no reason at all, or in the worst of times when all you have is deep sobs. So I ache for my dad. I ache for my aunts as they walk this road. It is paved with goodness as my Grammie loved them all fiercely and loyally. It is paved with sweet memories and funny ones, and they now will live with a mother shaped hole. In the best way possible. They have been loved so well. They will miss so well because of that love. And indeed it is not a forever separation. Oh the crazy joy that is set before us! Because. wow. Jesus. and everyone else will be sweet details to the incredible fullness we will know being with Him. What joy. What JOY we have. What hope!

 

And in the mean time we will allow the aching and hurt because we have been loved well by a beautiful person and we will miss her presence for a season. But we will continue to walk, resolved to love our children as well, Resolved to leave legacies as beautiful as she was. Resolved that our children will be loved so well that our absence will leave a hole but also an incredible joy in the hope ahead and the strength it brings.

 

I found that with my own Mom I couldn’t say goodbye in those last moments. There were no words. But in that hour after she passed i snuck back to her bedside and said all the things. All the things were really quite simple. How much I loved her and how deeply thankful I was for her love. Her love made me. In so many ways. Her love still gives me strength. I said goodbye to a shell. I said goodbye after she was gone because somehow when her spirit remained I knew it was never goodbye. It was just a “see you soon”.

 

So Grammie. I never said goodbye either. But what I want to say is that i love you and I am so thankful for the beautiful family you built and loved. Thank you for being such a strong woman and for loving Jesus with your life. Thank you for speaking of Him often. It is ingrained my head. We will miss you so. We will miss your pink nail polish and your beautiful hands and the glint in your eyes. We will miss the parcheesi games and the laughs and the smell of your perfume. I can’t wait to see you soon. Say hi to Mom, and Grandpa and baby Zeke and above all enjoy Him. We can’t wait to join the party.

 

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Brave like you

Dear Ellie,

You start kindergarten 2 weeks from tomorrow. Yesterday we went on the much anticipated “girls of the house” shopping trip to buy your school things. (your words) You kept saying in the days leading up to it “I CAN’T WAIT TO GO SHOPPING!” your brown eyes sparkling with excitement, and you counted the sleeps down.

Yesterday morning I woke up feeling heavy. There is a very real grief I feel inside as I look at the weeks ahead and see the change that is coming. Our mornings will look different as we will start waking you up early so you can be at school by 8:30. Of all of our kids, you tend to sleep the latest, so waking you up will be a new thing. You are such a help to me sweet girl. I know I count on you more then I know and I will miss your presence during the day. I cried silent tears while getting ready yesterday.

We did have a fabulous time you know. Us girls. Annalise wore a bow in honor of the occasion and you looked adorable in your jean skirt and fairy top. When did your legs get so long? My precious pudgy baby has turned into a tall beautiful girl.

The girls of the house
The girls of the house

We first went to walmart where we perused the school supply aisles and did several circles around the store trying to find everything on our list. Did I mention that you made your own picture shopping list? On it were underwear, disposable bento boxes and hair ties. You did lovely pictures complete with check boxes. After a somewhat exhausting round at Walmart where I decided shopping online would be more efficient, we headed to the mall. We were hungry so we hit “Red Robins” first. (Again your words. You also call McDonalds “Old McDonalds” and commercials “commercianals” and I love it so much) They sat us in the smallest booth they had, but you wanted to sit on the same side, so we snuggled in while Annalise slept in her carseat. You ordered pizza and fruit salad (first time varying from your mac and cheese routine at Red Robin) and we chatted while we waited for our food. You told me you were the most excited to do art projects at school. When our food came you lounged quite comfortably almost laying down in our tiny seat, which was quite a feat. You were very pleased with your pizza, insisting i try a bite and then asking me if I would order it next time for myself because it was so delicious.

Red Robins
Red Robins

After eating, we headed into the mall. Old Navy had adorable dresses as did H&M. I offered you 2 adorable dress choices and you couldn’t choose. You asked me to give you a horrible dress option and an adorable dress option to make the choice easier. I couldn’t find a horrible enough option as everything was adorable, so you finally chose the black and white striped swing dress and declared it your favorite purchase of everything we bought.

On the way out we went back through H&M to take the elevator back down and you BEGGED to ride the escalator. I had Annalise in the stroller so I couldn’t ride it – so we decided you could ride it alone. We talked through getting off and where to go to run around to the other side so you could come back up. I promised I would be at the top when you came up. You were beyond excited and didn’t hesitate for a second getting on. Your technique was slightly terrifying as you didn’t actually reach up to hold on as you were stepping on. You wobbled for a second as you adjusted to the movement and then reached for the rail. I sighed with relief and then powered over to the other side to watch your progress. You got off at the bottom and dashed around like a pro. I lost sight of you for a few breath-taking seconds and then there you were, coming up the other side BEAMING. You were so proud. And I had tears in my eyes and had to turn away so that I could greet you with a smile.

This is so hard for my heart and yet I know its good and right. I won’t hold you back baby. Because I know you are ready. I know you have got this. I know it would be unhealthy to freeze time like I sometimes long to do. Freezing time would leave us stagnant, unable to grow, and grow we must. What I want you to know is that you are brave, and good at loving people. You are a leader and amazing at creating. This mama heart wants you to do all that you were created to do. And that will mean letting you go to do it.

As we walked out of the mall we were discussing the escalator trip and how fun it was and I mentioned to you that it was a little scary for me. You asked why and I tried to explain. It went something like this.

“When you were born you were teeny tiny and couldn’t do anything for yourself. Mommy took care of you and fed you and kept you safe as much as she could. But as you grow you are able to do more things and now part of mommies job is to let go so you can do new things.”

and the conversation continued in my head.

“Mommy has to trust that though she loves you more than she can say, she is learning to entrust you to the One who loves you more. It’s so good. It feels physically painful right now. But I bet a few months in it will feel normal. You will come home and tell me about your day and all the new things you are doing and learning and I will listen with excitement.”

This new season will hold so much goodness. I can’t wait to see what Jesus has ahead for you and me. Please know your mama loves you and i’m going to be brave two weeks from tomorrow as you run forward with no hesitation. I will be brave like you.

 

Love,
Mama



What I love about being a mom right now.

1) Judah’s excessively loud singing. Mostly he sings worship songs, sometimes mashed into a brilliant medley, occasionally sprinkled with a line or two from Frozen. We could all stand to “let it go” a little bit, right? Judah starts his day around 6:30, bellowing his songs from the crib – it’s hard to describe just how loud he is, our neighbors could probably add some adjectives here. He also plays air guitar on his crib, and wildly shakes his blonde, home cut locks.

IMG_62362.) The “joke” stage. If you have never experienced the joke stage, its a good place to practice all your different kinds of laughs. Some jokes are real (Ellie gets it most of the time) some of them are made up. (Judah, all of the time) Each requires an appreciative laugh at the punch line. It goes something like this.

Ellie: “Mom, I’ve got a funny joke for you. How do you make a tissue dance?”

Me: How?

Ellie “You put a little boogie in it.

Me: (chuckle)

Then Judah pipes in: “Mom, I’ve a got a funny joke for you. Why did the pizza get caught in the net?

Me: Tell me!

Judah: (looking around for inspiration) because the elephant was chasing it!!

Me: (Hearty har har har har)

3.) Caleb’s chub. This boy is almost 1. Skin so soft, cheeks still pudgy. I savor them. Thank You Jesus for making babies so squishy.

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4.) My husband who is such a teammate on this parenting adventure. Poopy diapers? He’s a champ. 4 year old irrational tears? He’s got it. Soft logical tones that bring rightness to the situation. Judah singing loudly at 6:30 in the morning? He often pulls himself out of bed so I can sleep a little longer. I also love laughing with him countless times a day (at the kids jokes) and at the things they say and do. When you plan a wedding, and walk down an aisle there is no way to anticipate what life will bring your way, or how together you will navigate it. I am so thankful for this man who takes life head on and is such a team player.

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5.) Being able to experience grace. Being a parent is crazy. You so badly want to be awesome. The awesomest awesome that ever was because you want the best for your kids. It doesn’t take too long to realize that the personal awesome level doesn’t magically increase in the delivery room when your baby is born. This can be an emotional and guilt filled roller coaster if you are constantly measuring your awesome level and never achieving awesomely awesome. One of the best things I have ever done as a parent is to start to study grace. God’s grace to me. This is life changing on a few levels. a) His grace changes me by focusing me on Him and all that He is, and off my not awesomeness. b) When I live in, and receive His grace, I am able to pour it out. It’s the proverbial cup over flowing. And man, do we not all need grace? My kids need grace! My husband needs grace. And I desperately need grace. Grace doesn’t ignore sin or brokenness. Truth is truth. Grace brings an overwhelming hope to the sin and brokenness. The blood of Jesus is enough. Man, I love grace.

There it is. Just my small smattering of thankfulness on these eve of Mothers day.

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Book Review – “Outrageous Courage”

I love books. My dream is to have a library someday complete with ladders. My husband also loves to read but isn’t attached to the idea of a book – he likes having books on his phone – and NOT having a lot of books. When we first got married he looked with dismay at the boxes upon boxes of books that I happily staggered through the door with. I had to stagger through the door into the garage with them because our little apartment had no “library” and certainly not any bookcase large enough to hold my treasure trove of books. They sat in boxes for a few years until we were able to move into a house. Then we were given a beauty of a bookcase which we moved into a room we affectionately call “the study” (a small uninsulated room off the garage). My books now have a perfect home and I love being able to locate them easily. (going through boxes in the garage was not very awesome)

Happy little books.
Happy little books.

Also notable was the first vacation we went on. Troy picked up my backpack and was shocked by the weight. Things came clear later when I unpacked my Bible, my journal, a devotional book (or 3), a work of fiction (or 2) and perhaps a resource book or 4. I like having options you know? It shouldn’t have been surprising this year then when I unwrapped a Kindle Paperwhite. Though I love my books I have loved my Kindle. Perhaps the greatest feature I have enjoyed is that it keeps a list of everything that I highlight. I can go back and reread everything i loved about any book.

Love my kindle.
Love my Kindle.

 

One of my first great reads on my Kindle was a book called “Outrageous Courage” by Kris and Jason Vallotton, published by Chosen Books. I was presented with an opportunity to review it for free and jumped at the chance because 1) I LOVE biographies 2) This book is about a person who is still alive 3) I’m passionate about missions and interested in anyone who is doing them sustainably.

This book was a home run. I was inspired, humbled, encouraged and absolutely floored by the love for Jesus that unfolds in the pages. It’s about a woman named Tracy Evans, though admittedly its not written to glorify her life. It has made me want to spend more time with my Jesus, to hear His voice clearer and obey Him no matter the cost. Tracy’s life isn’t perfect, nor did she come from a model family. Her story of grace and of Jesus constantly healing and making all things new is so strengthening and hopeful. Her pursuit of His Kingdom has led her through the slums of LA, Smoky Mountain (a giant garbage dump) outside of Manilla in the Philippines, and currently to Africa where she feeds babies and pours out her life for the broken.

Hands down you should read this book. If you are breathing and can read you should get this book. It goes on my list of top life changing biographies. You can check it out it here.



We should…. make POPCORN!!! (Thoughts on obedience Pt 1)

A few weeks ago we had a playdate with some dear friends. While the girls played outside my friend and I chatted. As I watched, Ellie went up to her friend and snatched the toy shopping cart she was playing with from her. I quickly separated Ellie from her prize and we moved aside for a chat. After we talked it through I asked Ellie “What should we do now?” indicating that this is where we go and apologize to our friend for taking a toy from her. Ellie looked and me with big brown eyes and said “We should…  make POPCORN!!!”

I think sometimes I do this to God. When He is bringing direction or correction in my life and asking “What should you do now?”  I, instead of responding in obedience to what He has instructed, respond with “let’s do something awesome!”. Avoiding obedience with an offer of sacrifice.

I am reminded this morning of how God prizes obedience more than awesome things. Sometimes it’s easier to give Him a “sacrifice” of an action than it is to simply obey His commands, and in doing so giving Him my heart. In Matthew 22 Jesus says:

“You must love the LORD your God with all your heart , all your soul, and all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. A second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ “
 

In my life this avoidance has looked like a lot of different things. Perhaps clinging to an offense towards someone and offering a sacrifice of reading my Bible instead of addressing my heart problem. Perhaps giving my child kisses instead of apologizing. Making my husband a nice dinner when I have been in the wrong instead of repenting to him.

Often heart problems aren’t visible on the outside but how my Jesus sees my heart! How He requires honesty in the inward parts! As a parent I daily ask my children to “listen and obey” and am constantly trying to address the heart of obedience. How much more does Jesus ask me to listen and obey. In my heart? I’m finding that loving Him with all my heart, soul and mind is a daily choice. A moment by moment choice.

Much the way a marriage works. On your wedding day you vow to love each other as long as you both shall live and you are MARRIED.  But truly real marriage is walked out every day as you continually moment by moment chose to honor and cherish each other.

Thank You Jesus for always seeing our hearts. Thank You for always calling us to obey and walk in truth! Today we choose again to love You with all that we are and have.

 



Extreme Commitment Update

It’s been a month since I embarked on Professor Horner’s Bible reading plan and I am reporting back as promised. (original post) In a perfect world I would be telling you that I hadn’t missed a day of reading my 10 chapters and that I had found that amount of reading to be inadequate and had bumped it to 20 chapters a day. But that would not be true. What is true is that I missed more than a few days.

However. I have loved this adventure for a few reasons. The first reason I have loved it is the variety of scripture. Reading in 10 different areas is exciting because you never get bogged down. In other systems I have tried I have struggled to keep up in some of the harder portions of scripture. In Professor Horner’s system I feel like it’s easier to keep momentum going through those areas.

The second reason I love this system is because you are reading so much and in so many different places that you start to see scripture interpreting scripture. It’s extraordinarily beautiful.

Trying this has knocked a little perfectionism out of me. Because my commitment was word saturation it helped me keep going even when I didn’t complete a days reading or missed it entirely.

My conclusion? I will carry on. I will probably continue to miss some days, but I am committed to finishing the Bible with this system. Besides, my Bible has 10 very colorful cool tab markers in it that I really like.

 



Oatmeal Pancakes

Welcome to my new blog site! Check out my “about” page to find out why I named my blog the way I did and a little bit about who I am.

Today’s post is strictly business. Serious pancake business. Quite possibly the best pancakes I’ve ever had and I feel like I can say that because the recipe came from my mom, so it’s not bragging.

We have pancakes to commemorate special days. Special days include but are not limited to: Friday mornings (Troy’s day off), Saturday mornings (if we haven’t had them Friday already and if Troy is home), occasional Sunday nights, and any other day that seems celebratory. Ellie calls them “pancakers” and will usually eat at least one if not two. I have a few rules for you if you do make these pancakes. (only in order that you may have the best experience possible with my Mother’s pancakes)

1.) Please put real butter on these pancakes. Don’t substitute margarine for the real thing. Just don’t do it.

2.) Please use real maple syrup. I’m just sayin. It’s real. It’s from trees. Don’t substitute with the fake kind.

With out further ado, I give you:

Oatmeal Pancakes (pancakers)

1 Cup Oats

1 Cup Whole wheat flour

1 tsp Baking soda

1/2 tsp Baking powder

1/4 tsp Salt

1 Tbsp Brown sugar

2 Eggs

2 Cups Buttermilk (can substitute 1 C. sour cream, 1 C. milk)

1/4 Cup Butter (melted)

Mix as you would any pancake recipe. (so many of my Mom’s recipe’s say that “mix as you would any _____ recipe” and I’m sure most people know what that means. I’m still working it out. I just mix the ingredients in the order listed unless other wise notated. Shocking, I’m sure to some.)

I have started cooking my pancakes in coconut oil and I love the light flavor it gives them

I hope you enjoy! Let me know how yours turn out.

Mom's recipe. Which originally came from Aunt Mary Jane and mutated into a special Mom recipe
"Mix as you would any such recipe"
Little pancakers cooking away in coconut oil
Yum!

 

 



Be Present.

I’m sitting on the couch with Ellie with her wild morning hair while she watches “Go Diego Go”. My world is as it should be. Troy and I got back last night from 2 whole days away. This is a big deal to me because we have never left our kids overnight since Ellie has been born (with the exception of going to the hospital to have Judah)

Catalyst!
We had the privilege of going to Catalyst West with our church staff. Catalyst is a leadership conference and we had a phenomenal line up of speakers. Andy Stanley, Craig Groeschel, Donald Miller, Tony Hawk and Mark Burnett to name a few.  Worship was led by the North Point worship team and the Gunganater. There are few things better than watching my husband enjoy a Gungor concert.
Gungor

Though all these speakers are amazing my very favorite session was the one where Bob Goff spoke. His message was so full of hope and life. His premise was: When we are afraid we are not who God made us to be. When we are not afraid we do stuff. So simple but so powerful! The stories of his life reflect these statements and are inspiring.

As someone who has been very afraid, this message was like water to a thirsty soul. It brought the call not just of “Don’t be afraid” but “Get up and live brilliantly”.  I bought his book Love Does and am excited to read it! I’ll let you know how it is.

As I sit here and reflect over our few days away, I am reminded of how needed these times are. As someone who is a mom, a caretaker, it’s easy to be so consumed with my little world that I don’t come up for air. I have two precious little ones who need me, who I have the privilege of pouring my life into everyday.

I’m discovering however, that if I’m not intentional about feeding my spirit, if I’m not intentional about doing things that bring me life, I have nothing to pour out. Life becomes thin, narrow and exhausting. Somehow as a mama, there can be a sense of guilt for taking time away, or doing things that are just for you. I’m finding that it’s nobody’s responsibility but mine to make sure that I am getting this time. Taking this time makes me a better mom and wife.

I had this moment while we were at Catalyst after we had lunch one day where everybody headed off in different directions and I was left by myself sitting on the ground outside. I laid down in the sun and closed my eyes feeling the breeze and savoring the quiet. I had this sudden thought “I think this is the first time I have been alone in 2 years.” Sure, I have run to the grocery store while Troy watched the kids, or gone to dinner with the girls, but this felt like the first time I had been alone with nothing to do. No place to go, no one that needed me. For an introvert like me it was a little slice of heaven.

I have also noticed in my life that when I take time away from the daily routine of life my ears are a little more attuned to what Jesus might be saying. The theme for Catalyst was “Be Present” and it seemed so timely. In a day where social media can invade every part of our lives it can be easy for moments to be stolen away. I came home resolved to be more present. More attentive to the Holy Spirit. More alive in the moment.

You don’t have to go to a conference to have time to breathe or to have windows where Jesus can speak to you. It just takes intentionality. What are things that bring life to your spirit? What are things you can do to come away from your daily life and just listen – even for 15 minutes?

I am learning that I need time alone. It brings me life to flip through Better Home’s and Garden for 10 minutes in bed at night. I feel refreshed after spending time with Jesus. I am a better mom when I read books I enjoy. Time alone with my husband rejuvenates my heart. Buying a cool purse is a treat that I purpose to give myself every once in a while. And being alone with no demands makes it easier to hear whispers from my Jesus.