I am here…

What a day!

As I was talking with some lovey ladies yesterday morning, I was able to share some of the passion that I have for children, for my children and family, and for a little girl half way around the world who I met years ago and still pray for.  It was a great opportunity to share and to really feel alive as I shared more of my heart.

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What had started off as a great morning hit a bit of a rough patch later that day with my precious 6 month old Lucia.  She has such a gentle and joyful spirt.  But when dealing with the pain of teething, frustration in not being able to sleep, she had a bit of a meltdown.  She had no other way to express her struggle except through tears, crying, and the flailing of her arms and legs.  She was upset.  She was tired.  She was in pain.  And she didn’t know what to do.

I scooped her up and tried to hold her close, but with each passing second she continued to cry, push away, and just fight me.  Yet, I continued to hold her close.  In the midst of this fit, something clicked, and she realized that I was holding her.  At that moment she grabbed my neck, pulled me close, and calmed down.

As I helped her fall asleep and just hold her, I was thinking about all that just took place.  I thought about my conversation that morning and I thought about how powerful and important it is to not just say the words, but to show them in my actions that…

I am here.

That’s the way I want to live daily for my family and for others.  I may not have all the answers.  I may not possess every skill needed in every situation, but I know I have something to give, something to share…

I also remembered the Truth that during my own struggles that I face, my own fits that I throw through change or the unknown, God is always with me.  I may try to push away at times, but He’s close.  He’s here.

I am here.

No Love Potion Here…

Yes, whether you want to fight it or not, Valentines Day is almost here.  Some hate this day, while others embrace the hearts, decorations, cards, and chocolates.  Some say we should use every day to tell those we love that we love them.  Others need a day to prompt them.  But what if we saw this time as more than all of this?

What if we were missing the whole point?  That is what crossed my mind this week as I’ve been writing out scripture every morning and reading various scriptures on Love.

Luke 6:27-36
“But to you who are listening I say: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.  If someone slaps you on one cheek, turn to them the other also. If someone takes your coat, do not withhold your shirt from them.  Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back.  Do to others as you would have them do to you.  “If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners love those who love them.  And if you do good to those who are good to you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners do that.  And if you lend to those from whom you expect repayment, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, expecting to be repaid in full.  But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked.  Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.

What if we saw Cupid’s arrow as more than a love potion for those we already love, and let it penetrate our hearts with forgiveness to those who have wronged us, pierce our expectations and demands, lead us out of our comfort zone to learn what it truly means to Love beyond what society tells us?

What if we prayed for those we speak so badly about or judge in our hearts?  What if we reached out in kindness and friendship to those we don’t know?  What if we were led more in the Spirit rather than confined by our own fears and walls of hurt?

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I of course want my friends and family to always know how much I love them, but I also want to Love with grace, with mercy, with the same Love that has been given to me so graciously, so freely, and that will never run out…

We have access to this Love and we have the ability to give it and share it with others…It’s not a love potion, but a choice.

Don’t Cry Over Spilled Coffee

Okay, so maybe shedding a tear is acceptable.  Let’s be honest.  It’s coffee with french vanilla creamer, a little piece of heaven in a cup.

That’s how this morning started.  Well, actually it started earlier with 1 baby and 1 toddler awake at 5:30am!  Therefore, coffee is needed!

As I rolled, literally rolled, out of bed I thought to myself how productive this day would be since it was starting so early.  Kids fed, coffee made, Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood playing…success.  I grabbed my computer, to do list, and binder of information and got ready to get things done.  But anyone who has raised a boy knows that an 18 month little boy has different plans.  And papers, computers, and coffee cups seem more appealing than any car, block, or toy that is nearby.  Can you see where this is going?

Coffee was spilled all over my papers (If my husband is reading this, know that nothing in our house was stained or ruined in this incident ;).  Part of me wanted to cry because my papers were now brown…but most of all I wanted to cry because there went my much needed, hot, delicious, cup of coffee.

So why write about such a insignificant event?  Because the truth is, I could have lost it.  I’m exhausted, trying to focus, and trying to have a moment to enjoy my coffee.  But that wasn’t going to happen.  Now I’m using valuable time to clean up a small mess and make another cup of coffee.  I could have easily lost it.

But in this moment I looked at my son, took a breath, and told him “no”… AND firmly reminded him of all things that are not his toys AND reminded myself how small this really is!  Isn’t it funny how we can make such big things, react in such anger, and get upset over such small incidents or accidents, and yet at the same time ignore, de-emphasize, or not even notice all the small wonderful blessings in our life?

My coffee may have spilled onto my papers, but it was an accident, made by an 18 month old who is learning to explore, who wants to play, who is my precious son that I wouldn’t trade for anything.  What if we stopped crying over spilled coffee, and instead take a breath, clean up the mess, and see the bigger picture…the Truth, that with or without coffee this morning…I AM BLESSED.

brewtiful morning

Now for that cup of coffee….

When 1 is the Greatest Number…

I enjoy football!  And I was definitely excited to be able to watch a bit of the Gridiron Gang this morning.  If you haven’t seen it, I recommend it.  It’s not the best acting, but the message behind it still makes me tear up.  It’s about Unity, being a Team, no matter our differences and helping each other be better.  You might think that’s a random thought, from a simple movie, that I just shared with you this morning.

But, I sit here with a lot on my mind.  You see, my family and I just moved back to the States from Colombia.  It’s been 6 weeks since we arrived and we have had to hit the ground running.  It hasn’t been easy all the time, trying to find a place to live, my husband finding work, and preparing for the arrival of our little girl in less than a week and a half, all while caring for our 17 month old and working on strengthening and nurturing our own marriage.

The other night I could feel the weight on my husband’s shoulders as he works diligently to provide and care for us.  I, like many of us, have felt overwhelmed, in over our heads, and just unprepared for what we are facing.

But in the midst of it all, I can’t help but have a heart full of thanks for community.  In a world that continues to try to create separation among us all, to be against one another rather than for one another, to push people down so others can rise, I AM BLESSED WITH COMMUNITY.

Engagement foto with sun flare

First, my husband and I are a team.  Sometimes it feels as those we disagree a lot, but in the thick of it all, no matter what we face, I know we will continue to stand side by side and face the world together.  I know, together, we will raise our children helping them to be the man and woman God created them to be, to protect them, encourage them, and challenge them.

And as we continue to transition back to life here in the States and our growing family, our family and friends have surrounded us in support, love, and encouragement.  We aren’t alone.  We are never alone.  And sometimes, that’s all we need to remember.

Galations 5:13-14 states, “For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. 14 For the whole law is fulfilled in one word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.””

So thank you for opening your eyes to the person next to you even though they may be different than you, have different passions, interests, skills, etc.  Thank you for making time out of your busy schedule for that one person who just needs encouragement or quality time with a good friend.  Thank you for reaching out of your comfort zone to meet someone new, to welcome them into your life, to realize that we truly are ONE body, ONE community.

Let us come together as ONE for that is when ONE truly is the GREATEST number.

Enough With the Leftovers

It’s 12:30am and I can’t sleep.  Being over 7 months pregnant has a tendency to create such a situation, and I’m hoping to soon get some much needed rest.

But since I’m awake, my mind is going.  I’ve been thinking a lot about my day today.  It was long.  I was tired.  And honestly, my patience was running a little low.  Being a stay at home mom definitely has challenges of its own.  I wasn’t motivated to do much today and just wanted some personal time, some time to rest.

How many of you have experienced days like this?  Maybe you spent the day working hard, putting your best foot forward, giving your all at work, and really working to be a leader in your workplace.  Traffic makes for a long commute home and all you want to do is crash on the couch and tune out.  Yet, as soon as you walk through the door your children need help with homework or want to play, your wife or husband has asked for some assistance, and you think to yourself, “don’t they understand how hard I worked all day?”  And you retreat and tune them out, or show an attitude of disapproval as you unwillingly give them your time.

Your family gets your leftovers…what you believe is left to give, which isn’t much.  And each day continues just like the previous.  Your family gets the leftovers.

I won’t lie, pregnancy has definitely made me more sentimental, but honestly, for a while now I’ve been thinking a lot about the importance of Family.  It’s so easy to see family as something you are just a part of rather than your greatest investment.  Your involvement is needed and is important.

Being a husband, a father, a wife, a mother, is more than a title or a role…it’s a great responsibility.

Though I know I’m not perfect and I struggle some days with my attitude, with my patience, with my motivation, with my own selfishness, I must remember that my family deserves my best effort, my time, my love, what I have to give.  I want my husband to see my effort to create a loving, respectful, comfortable home for him.  I want him to know that I am so proud of the man he is and is becoming, honored to be his wife, and help to encourage him and lift him up.  I want my children to know that they are loved, cared for, safe, encouraged, priceless, and worth my time.  I want to be a part of helping them grow into the man and woman they are created to be.  I want to be an example for them, not one of perfection, but one who is honest, learns, forgives, loves, gives grace and understanding, and helps guide them.  I don’t want my family to have the leftovers of the day, my leftovers, but rather have the best of me, knowing that I am an important part of my family for a reason, with a purpose.

mom

Don’t Read This…

For those of you who just can’t help yourself, I assume you are reading this blog post from your computer, phone, tablet, or some sort of electronic device.  And I challenge you to stop.

I challenge you to turn it off just for a moment and look around, take advantage of this free moment to see something you haven’t seen, to do something you haven’t “had time” to do.

intention

For those of you who just have to keep reading, I completely understand.

I know we have all have seen those powerful ads about how our electronic devices, that are marketed to help us connect more, are in actuality disconnecting us.  I looked around the other day as my family had the evening together.  My husband was on his computer, I sat there playing Mahjong on my phone, and Gabriel was playing on his play mat with his toys.  Sure we were in the same room, but we were disconnected from each other.  We might as well have been in separate parts of the house.  It was quite sad, to be honest.  So my husband and I had a conversation about not using our electronic devices after a certain time in the evenings (unless necessary) to really invest in each other and our kids, our family.  You see, we really don’t get that time back.

disconnecting technology

So what if instead of googling articles on how to better communicate with our spouses, we put the phone down and actually communicate with our spouses?  What if instead of reading online forums about how to raise our children, we get off the computers and invest in our children, spend time with them, teach them, love them?  What if instead of liking “feel good” stories on Facebook, we went out and created our own stories?  What if instead of writing posts about social injustice issues, we log off and find a local nonprofit that addresses these issues we feel so passionate about, give our time, and help serve the cause?  What if instead of pinning ideas and wishes to electronic pin boards, we take that time and actually be intentional about trying the creative ideas and recipes we like or going to see and experience the different cultures of the world on our “bucket list pin board”?  What if we used our time intentionally, actively, and actually live and connect with others?

Don’t get me wrong…I’m definitely not against electronics.  I’m thankful for Skype that allows me to talk to family, and thankful for email that allows me to reach out to someone I can’t call or visit.  I am thankful for the resources we have at hand, when those resources don’t become a curtain to hide or cut us off from Life.  We have all said at one point or another…”I just don’t have time”…or “someday”…but that moment is now!

Someday

So turn off that device, open your eyes to those around you, experience the world around you, and remember that Life Lived with others, is really Living.

Whose Approval Am I Seeking?

Thankful

I sit here as my little boy takes a nap next to me.  It’s been a fun morning of playing and having Gabriel follow me around as I prepare food and do dishes.  And now it’s quiet.  I figure I have a good 30 minutes, maybe an hour if I’m lucky, to reflect and share something that has been on my heart.

You see, I had this dream, this plan, this idea of how life would look.  My family spent over a year preparing to move to Colombia to be long term missionaries.  I dreamt of how I would easily manage to be a mom to our 6 month old at the time, balance that with a children’s ministry, blog regularly, and yet still have dinner ready every night.  In my mind it all seemed so easy.

And how does that look now?  Well, I’m blogging for the first time in 6 months if that tells you anything.  Let’s just say I’m not any where close to that plan I had of having it all together.  Each day is different and after spending the day chasing around our now 1 year old, cooking his food and making our dinners, trying to do what I can to invest and encourage those around me, I have to laugh at that nicely packaged plan I once had of how all of this would look.  Some nights we don’t eat until after 8PM, and by the time I sit down to rest for the evening it’s time to go to bed as the next day starts promptly at 6am.

I won’t lie, in the moments before I close my eyes to sleep, I’m reminded of all that isn’t getting done, of all I wanted to do, to teach Gabriel, to be a light in the community where we live and serve, and yet I wonder and doubt what was actually accomplished that day.  It could be easy to let those disappointments tug on my heart and bring me down, and honestly sometimes I’m just too tired to fight them.  But other times I remember the great moments of the day.  The moments where Gabriel wraps his arms around my neck and lays his head on my shoulder…the moments he grabs my hand and brings it to his face for comfort…the moments he laughs while following me around or giggles as we sing songs and dance together…the moments I share words of encouragement, of Truth, with different friends and am able to really listen to them…the moments I get sweet hugs from the children at church.

Precious JewelsNone of this looks like I imagined, like I had planned, but it is even better.  For if I know that I have lived my day with intention, God can use my beautiful and chaotic life to share joy, light, hope, and Love in each moment.

The same goes with our plan to live long term here in Cartagena.  With the wonderful surprise of our daughter who is due to be born in October, and finances that just haven’t panned out the way we had hoped, we know this dream, this plan is changing for now.  As we prepare to move back to the States in August, it’s easy to get lost in the disappointment, but then I ask myself, who am I trying to win the approval of?

Galations 1:10 states, “Am I now trying to win the approval of men, or of God?  Or am I trying to please men?  If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a servant of Christ.”

We have stayed true to our plans and commitments moving forward in faith and living each day with intention.  Time here is not waisted, but is a gift.  And we know we will be back, visiting every year, investing in the people here, and trusting that God knows our hearts to serve and live internationally and the love we have for our Colombian family here.

Our plans are changing for now, but I know that I will continue to live each day intentionally wherever I am, being a light in my community and especially my family.  I know and trust that God can use my life to share his Love and Truth.  So I remain open to Him…

Be All There

Hay Más…

bible collage

He tenido esta Biblia para más que 7 años. Ha estado conmigo durante momentos difícil y momentos a celebrar. La cubierta está roto, sin embargo está llena con lecciones que he aprendido de varios versos. Sé que está tiempo para Biblia nueva, pero no está fácil. Lo tiene mucho lecciones que he aprendido.

Pero la verdad es que hay mucho más a aprender.

“Cualquiera que se extravía, y no persevera en la doctrina de Cristo, no tiene a Dios; el que persevera en la doctrina de Cristo, ése sí tiene al Padre y al Hijo” ~2 San Jan Apóstol 1:9

Necesito a continuar estudiando La Palabra. He aprendido mucho Verdad como he estudiado Su Palabra, y sería una tonta pensar que sé lo suficiente o que sé todo. No puedo correr delante de Dios con solo qué sé ahora, pero puedo avanzar con Dios aprendiendo continuamente qué Él está enseñandome.

Estoy agradecido para esta Biblia, para estos lecciones, y mantengo abierto a todo hay aprender. Mientras concluyo esta Biblia estoy emocionado para una Biblia nueva. Lo será una otra Biblia que tiene más memorias y más lecciones que serán un parte de mi corazón.

Hay más aprender…

Ahora, pienso que está tiempo para una Biblia en Español.

 

There is more…

bible collage

I’ve had this Bible for over 7 years.  It has been with me during difficult time and moments to celebrate.  The cover is broken, yet it is filled with lessons I’ve learned from various verses.  I know it’s time for a new Bible, but it’s not easy.  It holds a lot of lessons that I’ve learned.

But the truth is that there is so much more to learn…

“Anyone who runs ahead and does not continue in the teaching of Christ does not have God; whoever continues in the teaching has both the Father and the Son.” ~ 2 John 1:9

I need to continue studying the Word.  I’ve learned a lot of Truth as I have studied His Word, and I’d be a fool to think I know enough or I know it all.  I can’t run ahead of God with only with what I know now, but I can move forward with God continually learning what He is teaching me.

I am thankful for this Bible, for these lessons, and I remain open to all there is to learn.  As I close this Bible, I am excited for a new Bible.  It will be another Bible that has more memories and more lessons that will be a part of my heart.

There is more to learn…

Now, I think it’s time to get a Spanish Bible!

 

What are we bringing?

“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” ~Romans 15:13

It’s the new year! Welcome 2015! And today is Kings Day. Some may know the significance of today, others might just see it as another day of the year. But my family celebrates this day each year. We spend time together, cook Mexican food, and celebrate the journey of the three kings on the way to see Jesus and give him their most precious gifts. This is my favorite holiday. I remember the gift of Jesus, but also the gifts we have to give, to share with others, and to give glory to God.

We have been living in Cartagena, Colombia now for almost 3 months. It has been a wonderful 3 months as we have started building relationships. As I mentioned before, We aren’t here to fix things. We aren’t here to tell people what to do. But we are here to overflow with the hope, joy, peace, and love that we are filled with. We are here to invest in the beautiful people here, to develop friendships, to serve our brothers and sisters here. We want to help others see the gifts that they each have to share with others.

Hope in relationships

When we see the sweet faces of the children here, we see their potential, we see their joy, we see the uniqueness of each wonderful face and know that these future leaders will be a blessing to this world. When we see our kind and thoughtful friends, we see the love and kindness that has the ability to encourage and help others that need help. We see hope.

bring to the world

We all have something to give. We all have something to share. Let’s not see what this year brings for us, but what we can give! That’s life! That’s love! Let us overflow with hope, joy, peace, and love that comes from within!