Tuesday, August 17, 2010

His mercies are new every morning...thank God!

Well, it has been a good while since I have written anything. But, as we have ended another summer and are standing at the beginning of another school year facing change all around us, I feel inclined to begin again...as God feels the need to "begin again" and to complete the good work He began in me. My life has been such a journey...a glorious journey of highs of immense joy and lows of deep hurt. I know everyone can relate because we all walk along this journey in this broken world. Life is hard...even when it's good...and it's full of hurting people. But, we have this Treasure in these imperfect jars of clay!

Here's to another year...Izzy is starting the 2nd grade. Nicholas is starting kindergarten. Becca just turned 3. When did this happen? Life is going by...and I don't want to miss a second. And I don't want to miss out on the purpose and passion God graciously gave me. Finding the balance of living in the present...breathing in this moment, but always keeping the big picture in mind. Holding the paradox of we need to lose our life to find it in our hands....and living it. Here's to His promises and to journey of living in His grace and love.

Our summer has been busy. Busier than I had intended and not quite what I expected. Isn't that how it always is? Expect one thing...and God has other plans for you! It began with the death of my grandmother and an unexpected and long trip with the kids to South Carolina. How blessed I was that I could be there with my family and be there for my grandfather. We returned just in time for the girls' recital, the kids' to begin there seemingly endless activities (did we really mean to sign up for Art Camp, Hero's Camp, Soccer Camp, Dance and Swim Lessons??), and me to teach my 6 classes a week (thank goodness the kids love the gym!).

We did get a marvelous reprieve to Hawaii...after an 8 hour flight (the kids were amazingly well behaved) and a 5 hour time difference...we were in Waikiki where we learned that child is "Kiki" in Hawaiian (what Becca calls Nicky and hence all of us do now), Isabelle is "Kili Kili" in Hawaiin (the enormous sea turtle that we got to see first hand in the North Shore was named that also), and Jenny is "Kini Kini" (I learned that from a tattoo parlor...yes, Jonathan and I looked, but didn't get another one!). We went to Pearl Harbor where Nicky, Jonathan and my dad got to meet a former soldier who survived the attack. We went to several different beautiful beaches and when the kids got tired of the salt water and Becca got tired of being knocked over by waves, we went to the pool on the beautiful property of the military hotel, Hale Koa, where we were staying. We went to the Polynesian Culture Center where we tried Poi, learned to Hula, Izzy got on stage and did a coconut dance, we saw man climb a palm tree with nothing but his hands and feet, and attended a Luau where Becca got called on stage so they could sing "Happy Birthday" to her. We created memories. And then came home and tried to recover from so many memories created! I was going to put pictures from Hawaii on here, but Jonathan allegedly uploaded them to our computer, but I can't find them!

I just had a mini-retreat with God and I read "So Long Insecurity" by Beth Moore. I can't even begin to tell you what God revealed and began to heal in me. He is good. So good. He has set my feet upon a rock in this crazy world. "She is clothed in strength and dignity, she will laugh at the days to come." Proverbs 31.

I have a 42 year old woman that comes to my yoga class. I love the people I get to meet when I teach. I teach them, yet I learn so much from them in the process. There isn't a day that I don't walk away with a different perspective or new found wisdom. She is the amazingly honest woman that is further down in the journey of life who is so willing to encourage those coming up behind her. She told me that there was nothing like her 30's and raising children to bring her to her knees and bring her humility. She said it was the most difficult thing she has done so far. Whew! So, it's not just me! And I will get through this season...hopefully better, stronger and closer to God for it. If not for me, for those coming up behind me.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

it's all in the details...

Ever have a day where you get up at 6am hoping for some quiet time and a cup of coffee before you hear the pitter patter of little feet, yet there they come? Probably because those little feet were kicking you all night in bed and couldn't help but get up when you did! Then as you kiss your oldest good-bye you hear the crashing of a plate of left-over french toast being pulled down from the counter by one of the dogs...while the other one is peeing and pooping in the other room. Then as you put the dogs out to try and clean up, they get out. Your son can't find his shoes, your other daughter can't find her lunchbox and the garage door won't close. And isn't it fun being a mom?? Gotta love it. Because among and within the organized chaos, you find moments of joy and humor...in the details. Sometimes I just need to slow down enough to notice them...because they make everything worthwhile.

If Becca weren't so cute and funny, she would get in so much more trouble. The other morning Jonathan gave Becca 2 gummy vitamins for herself and then gave her two more and told her to go give them to her brother, "Kikki" (her name for Nicky). She goes into the other room for a few minutes and then comes out and says, "All gone!" Jonathan asked, "Did you give the vitamins to Kikki?" (unfortunately for Nicky, they name has stuck for all of us). Becca replied with a sweet, "Nooooo." Jonathan asks incredulously, "Well, where are they?" Becca's reply? She opens her mouth...And grins.

Since Izzy, or "Sissy", according to Becca, has debunked the whole Tooth Fairy character, she started asking questions about Santa. She asked, "Mommy, do you and daddy buy the presents or does Santa?" I reply, "Well, Mommy and daddy buy you some things, but Santa also brings something. But, we do it because it's Jesus' birthday." Izzy silently ponders this. "Okay...but, Jesus is the best present!" This, after she gave all $20 she had saved and donated it to her school's Turkeys Tackling Hunger because she, "wanted to feel a whole family for Thanksgiving." In fact, the first grade raised more money than any other grade!

This afternoon, while Becca was taking a nap, I put Play Station 3 soccer on for Nicky (his favorite). I got into bed to defrost and thaw out from bible study (brrrr....it is cold for Texas) and to try and get rid of the headache that was coming on. After a few minutes (and after Nicky beat the computer 13-0), he comes in and cuddles up to me. "Mommy, I love soccer...but, I love you more!" He is also a wonderful and caring brother. Becca has been scared of the dark (and of her curtains??) in her room at night. Monday night, as we were putting her to bed, she starts crying for "Kikki!!" She's been sleeping with him ever since. On Tuesday he made his two sisters and me bead bracelets. When he gave it Izzy, she said, "Oh, Nicky, it's beautiful! I love you!" Then she turns to me and says, "That's better than thank you, isn't it mommy?"

Okay, so Becca isn't sleeping in her own bed, Izzy got her guitar taken away last week because of a sassy attitude (and has yet to earn it back) and Nicky gets grounded from PS 3 soccer at least once a week, there are still those precious moments when a light goes on and your heart smiles and you think, "Every thing's going to be Okay."

Thursday, November 19, 2009

give me your eyes for just one second, give me your eyes so I can see, everything that I keep missin', give me your love for humanity...

Do you remember who and where you were before you knew Christ? Are you still tremendously thankful and humbled by how Christ has changed your life? I bet we all are. But, do you get caught up in the day to day and forget? I know I do. Maybe if we were more thoughtful, mindful and consistent to remember His grace in awe, we could see through His eyes and love His humanity. The world could use more love. Crazy good love. You have to read "Crazy Love" by Francis Chan and here is why...

"Brooke Bronkowski was a beautiful fourteen-year-old girl who was in love with Jesus. When she was in junior high, she started a Bible study on her campus. She spent her babysitting money on Bibles so she could give them out to her unsaved friends. Youth pastors who heard about this brought her boxes of Bibles to give away. Brooke wrote the following essay when she was about twelve; it will give you an idea of the kind of girl she was.

'Since I Have My Life Before Me' by Brooke Bronkowski

I'll live my life to the fullest. I'll be happy. I'll brighten up. I will be more joyful than I have ever been. I will be kind to others. I will loosen up. I will tell others about Christ. I will go on adventures and change the world. I will be bold and not change who I really am. I will have no troubles but instead help others with their troubles.
You see, I'll be one of those people who love to be history makers at a young age. Oh, I'll have moments, good and bad, but I will wipe away the bad and only remember the good. In fact, that's all I remember, just good moments, nothing in between, just living my life to the fullest. I'll be one of those people who somewhere with a mission, an awesome plan, a world-changing plan, and nothing will hold me back. I'll set an example for others, I will pray for direction.
I have my life before me. I will give others the joy I have and God will give me more joy. I will do everything God tell me to do. I will follow the footsteps of God. I will do my best!!!'

"During her freshman year in high school, Brooke was in a car accident while driving to the movies. Her life on earth ended when she was just fourteen, but her impact didn't. Nearly fifteen hundred people attended Brooke's memorial service. People from her public high school read poems she had written about her love for God. Everyone spoke of her example and joy.

I shared the gospel and invited those who wanted to know Jesus to come up and give their lives to Him. There must have been at least two hundred students on their knees at the front of the church praying for salvation. Ushers gave a Bible to each of them. They were Bibles that Brooke had kept in her garage, hoping to give out to all of her unsaved friends. In one day, Brooke led more people to the Lord than most ever will."

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

crazy...in love...

I have started to read a much talked about book in my circle of church and Facebook friends, "Crazy Love" by Francis Chan. I am not too far into the book, but I am already hooked. I can love God more. We all can. I can focus on Him more. We all can. I can be more mindful about His awesomeness and majesty more. We all can. I can listen to Him more. We all can. This life is God's movie. It's all about Him. And I am blessed to have a bit part in His kingdom here on earth to have an eternal one in the ever after with Him.

"We have only our two-fifths-of-a-second-long scene to live. I don't know about you, but I want my two-fifths of a second to be about my making much of God. First Corinthians 10:31 says, 'So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God." That is what our each of our two-fifths of a second is about. So what does that mean for you? Frankly, you need to get over yourself. It might sound harsh, but that's seriously what it means."

I love how Francis Chan challenges us, the church, to change. There are serious problems in our church, which is the body of Christ. But, we can't just sit back and point fingers and place the blame on others. We need to look inside. What needs to be changed in us? How can we love more? How can we give God all the glory? We don't need to measure ourselves against the standard of those around us, but against the One who sets the standard.

"I think it's far too easy to blame the American church without acknowledging that we are each part of the church and therefore responsible. But, I think we all feel deeply, even if we haven't voiced it, that the church in many ways is not doing well. I get nervous when I think of how we've missed who we are supposed to be, and sad when I think about how we're missing out on all that God wants for the people He loved enough to die for...We need to stop giving people excuses not to believe in God. You've probably heard the expression 'I believe in God, just not organized religion.' I don't think people would say that if the church truly lived like we are called to live. The expression would change to 'I can't deny what the church does, but I don't believe in their God.' At least then they'd address their rejection of God rather than use the church as a scapegoat. "

I know people who have turned their backs on the church. Hurt by the body of Christ, they have walked away from it, never intending to turn their back on God. I know others that are seeking to fill the void of emptiness and despair with joy, hope, peace and love, seeking everything and everyone other than God. I firmly believe that the church, the body of Christ, should be the very first place someone hurting and broken can go to find hope and healing. And it breaks my heart that often times, it's not. Christianity is growing at rapid rates in countries where it is illegal to be a Christian. People are risking their physical lives for their spiritual ones. But, what about the countries where we are free to worship Christ? Is it that others have a greater need for the gospel? I don't think so. I don't think it matters where or who you are. All of our need for Christ is great. What is the one thing thing that separates Christianity from every other religion? Grace. I know I need grace. What about you? "Crazy Love is the perfect title for this book. When Jesus was asked, 'What is the greatest commandment?' He responded with 'Love.' " I know I need love. What about you? But, I also need to give more grace and more love. What about you?

"There is an epidemic of spiritual amnesia going around, and none of us is immune. No matter how many fascinating details we learn about God's creation, no matter how many pictures we see of His galaxies, and no matter how many sunsets we watch, we still forget. Most of know that we are supposed to love and fear God; that we are supposed to read our Bibles and pray so that we can get to know Him better; that we are supposed to worship Him with our lives. But, actually living it out is challenging. It confuses us when loving God is hard. Shouldn't it be easy to love a God so wonderful? When we love God because we feel we should love Him, instead of genuinely loving out of our true selves, we have forgotten who God really is. Our amnesia is flaring up again. It may sound 'un-Christian' to say that on some mornings I don't feel like loving God, or I just forget to. But I do. In our world, where hundreds of things distract us from God, we have to intentionally and consistently remind ourselves of Him."

OK, I am only on page 50 and I am already a little more than crazy in love with this book...and with God!

Friday, November 13, 2009

fyi on the 411

Well, it's Friday and I have had a great week! I have found, after a friend forced me to go work out Monday night, a great workout schedule at my gym. I had an awesome girl-time lunch with my best girlfriends yesterday. I had a wonderful run and Yoga class this morning, got all of my Thanksgiving shopping done and a great day with my kids so far. What more could you ask for? I may be behind in laundry and Sophie continues to poop and pee in the house, but it's all about perspective, right?

My amazing husband of 9 years has his 37th birthday this Tuesday! We are celebrating starting tonight for Family Fun Night. I say "starting" because if it were up to him he would get a "Birthday Month", but we have compromised on a "Birthday Week." I am thankful for him. And I love him more every year...even with each gray hair that grows! (looks so much better on him than it does on me!).

I have been reading this amazing daily devotional, "Jesus Calling" by Sarah Young. She is a missionary who for years journaled her quiet time with the Lord. She recorded not only her thoughts and prayer requests, but God's quiet voice that spoke to her in her stillness in return. She wrote this devotional from the perspective of God speaking to you. It's beautiful. Absolutely beautiful. I would encourage anyone to get this!

The best PMS movies: "Under the Tuscan Sun" or "P.S. I Love You." I am assuming "The Time Traveler's Wife" will make it to this list, but I have yet to see it. I will confirm once I do.

I can't wait for Thanksgiving Week. The kids get a whole week off. I look forward to slowing down and being mindful about what we are and have to be so thankful for. God is good! All the time! So, Have a Happy Thanksgiving! Have an attitude of gratitude! Be thankful and thank the One that provides everthing.

"It has taken me many years to understand that God simply wants us to embrace what he has already done for us and rest in that. What I discovered is that when I am trying so hard to live a good life, all the focus is on me. Then all I can see is where I am flawed or failing. When I take my eyes off myself and my performance, and focus instead on the love of God and the companionship of Christ, not only is there amazing joy in that place, but peace too. Jesus wants us to live in his victory. He has already overcome the enemy. He has already paid for our sin...Resting in the love of God means letting go of all the broken pieces we cling to and clinging to him instead. An overcomer is not someone who has never fallen, but rather someone who knows where her true strength lies." ("Let Go" by Shelia Walsh).

P.S. God loves you no matter what...whether you trick or treat or choose not to, public school or homeschool, or put a Christmas tree up in December or choose not to. I hope we all focus on the reason for the season and be thankful and love. God is love. And love makes the world go round. "As you are, right at this moment, God loves you. He knows all that is true about you, and he loves you. Even when you can't forgive yourself, He forgives you. There is nothing you can do to make Him love you more. There is nothing you can do to make Him love you less. This is the promise of Grace." ("Let Go").

Thursday, November 5, 2009

shout out to God's girls...Holla!


Lysa TerKeurst

"For the LORD will not reject his people; he will never forsake his inheritance."

Psalm 94:14 (NIV)


A few months back I got a phone call I'd been hoping for over 15 years to receive. It was the slightest crack in the doorway of a dream.

I was hesitantly excited. When you have wanted something for a long time and it comes close to becoming a reality, it's thrilling and terrifying all at the same time. Suddenly, your heart shifts from neutral into this vulnerable place where acceptance co-mingles with rejection. And you are all too aware things could go either way.

Following the call, I packaged up my application to send and let my mind prematurely celebrate.

Then I waited.

And waited.

And nothing.

Feeling like a foolish girl who'd bought a prom dress before actually being asked to the dance, I sheepishly called to inquire whether or not my application had been received. I was told it had been and if I hadn't heard anything yet, I should assume it was a "no."


That's when you go sit on your back deck, close your eyes, and decide whether to let the tears slip quietly down your cheeks or blink them back in an act of courageous defiance.

Rejection stinks.

I mean it really stinks.

It stunk when Saxon Palmer didn't ask me to couple skate in the 5th grade. It stunk when my Dad left our family. It stunk when I thought I was getting engaged at the very dinner my college love broke up with me. It stunk when each of my book proposals for years were declined by publishers. And it stunk when I sat on my deck and processed this situation.

Sometimes things like this just simply stink and there's no cheery rainbow or pot of gold around the next corner. The music doesn't crescendo as the hero in the story scoops you onto the side of his horse and the two of you ride off into the sunset to live happily ever after.

Sometimes it just is what it is. And that's that.

But God's girls have a beautiful promise tucked in our pocket that lets us smile even when tears puddle in the corner of our eyes. Even when there's no rainbow, pot of gold, or galloping prince, we have the promise of redemption.

On the other side of every death there will always be a resurrection of some sort. Maybe not a resurrection of our circumstances. And maybe not a resurrection of things lining up like we thought they should. But there will be a resurrection. Jesus has insured that.

Nothing in this world can permanently strip hope from our lives when we know we do "not follow cleverly invented stories...about the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ" but we follow the reality of the Risen One (2 Peter 1:16, NIV). He is our resurrection.

He is our hope.

He is that beautiful reminder that rejection from man never means rejection from God.

And He is the one who is weaving a story into our life that will one day make sense.

Dear Lord, I know You suffered the sting of rejection in a much more intense way than I ever will. And while this rejection is small in the grand scheme of life, it feels huge in my heart right now. Will You help me process this? Will You help me see past it? Will You let this fragile heart feel the warmth of Your acceptance and love today? In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Related Resources:

Visit Lysa's blog to talk about keeping our identity secure even when circumstances make us doubt.

Becoming More Than a Good Bible Study Girl by Lysa TerKeurst

P31 Woman magazine

Application Steps:

The reality is our identity in Christ is always certain even when circumstances are constantly shifting. We must park our mind on the truth of who God says we are. Read Lysa's blog today for more on how to do this.


How can I separate my identity from my circumstance? Spend some time contemplating this today.

Power Verses:

Romans 8:38-39, "For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord." (NIV)

Isaiah 54:10, "'Though the mountains be shaken and the hills be removed, yet my unfailing love for you will not be shaken nor my covenant of peace be removed,' says the LORD, who has compassion on you." (NIV)

© 2009 by Lysa TerKeurst. All rights reserved.

Proverbs 31 Ministries

616-G Matthews-Mint Hill Road

Matthews, NC 28105


Wednesday, October 14, 2009

come together...right now...

So, Izzy's seventh birthday has come and passed. I can't believe that such a big deal came and went so fast. I have a feeling that time will just keep going by faster and faster. How will I keep up? Because I don't want to miss a thing. I want to slow down and breathe in and take it all in. But, I digress...we had a great and special time. My parents came in town and we went to Sea World. It poured all the way there and we had already decided that if it was still pouring we would just turn around and go home. But, when we got there the rain stopped and...there were no lines to be seen anywhere. The weather was cool in the morning, warm in the afternoon, and cool in the evening.

We were able to make every show, feed and pet the dolphins and ride the Shamu roller coaster several times. I love, LOVE the Shamu show. From the minute they show the Military commercial and ask all military and retired military and their families to stand, I cry. I tear up when I see an old man stand up as people applaud his bravery and sacrifice. I tear up when I see the young soldiers and airmen in uniform walk around the park with their loved ones. I tear up when I see my dad salute them and thank them for their service.

I am an Air Force Brat. I moved 13 times in 18 years. I went to 3 high schools in 4 years. I have lived in 2 other countries than the States and have visited a lot more than that. My parents were in 2 other countries the whole time I was in college. I have always hated the question, "Where are you from?" How do you answer that when your "home" is a state of mind. When you have never felt at home anywhere, but a little bit of everywhere. No one, unless they share in this unique situation and experience, can understand.

One of my dearest and oldest friends and fellow BRAT sent me a link about a movie called "BRATS: Our Journey Home." I sent it to other fellow BRAT friends and my parents. My dad ordered the DVD and brought it with them on this visit. We were given a wonderful day while the kids were at school to watch this unique documentary together. I am blessed by the parents I have and how they raised me. I am blessed with the relationship I still have with them. I would not be who I am without them.

I love hearing people's stories. My favorite part of Celebrate Recovery is hearing testimonies. I love learning about people, their past, their families, their hurts and their triumphs. After watching this movie, I realized how being a BRAT is a big part of my story. Watching this movie made me realize what a special, unique and wonderful group of humanity we are. Our unique childhood experiences have shaped who we have become. I may be flawed and will always have to work through my imperfections and flaws, but watching this movie made me appreciate even my flaws. For they came from an interesting experience and a great price.

So, here's to not just all the military, but also their families that did not sign up for a tour of duty, but served and sacrificed just the same. Here is a summary of the movie...and to be honest, a summary of a little bit of all of us BRATS.

"It's hard to imagine a military BRAT'S childhood. Moving from base to base around the world, they are at home everywhere - and nowhere. There are 1.2 million children being raised in the military today. An estimated 15 million Americans are former BRATS. They include actors Jessica Alba and Robert Duvall, Senator John McCain, and basketball star Shaquille O'Neal.

BRATS is the first cinematic glimpse into a global subculture whose journey to adulthood is a high-octane mixture of incredible excitement and enormous pain. Make no mistake - BRATS is not about the U.S. military - it's about their children, who grow up in a paradox that is idealistic and authoritarian, privileged and perilous, supportive and stifling - all at the same time. Their passports say "United States," but they're really citizens of the world.

Singer/songwriter and Air Force brat Kris Kristofferson leads us through the heart of their experiences, sharing intimate memories with fellow BRATS, including General Norman Schwarzkopf and author Mary Edwards Wertsch, whose ground-breaking book, Military Brats: Legacies of Childhood Inside the Fortress, was one of the seminal inspirations for this film. Their stories reveal the peculiar landscape of their childhood, the culture that binds them together, and the power it exerts over their adult lives.

A seven-year work of passion by independent filmmaker Donna Musil, BRATS features rare archival footage, home movies and private photographs from post-war Japan, Germany, and Vietnam.