My View…

So it’s true.  The world is not full of butterflies and rainbows and I won’t pretend that it is.  My heart is heavy for all those affected by violence, hatred, judgement, and injustice here in the States as well as around the world.  Being aware of all that is happening is important, but I refuse to let it harden my heart.

Lately, I’ve seen a lot of anger, hate, and judgemental comments.  But beyond the anger, I’ve also heard from a lot of people who are frustrated, disheartened, and people who have just lost hope.

Today, on my evening walk, I was thinking about all of this.  It was this view that made everything clear and reminded me of truth…

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You may wonder what this sweet face has to do with my reaction to all of the chaos in this world…

Her name is Lucia.  Just like our son, our daughter’s name was chosen because of it’s significance and meaning, and the power behind it.  It means LIGHT.  We didn’t name her this so that she can see the light in the darkness, but because SHE IS LIGHT.

That is what we are to be.  We are to be Light.  So I won’t hide behind words.  I won’t hide behind anger and judgement.  But I will move in action to bring Light to this world.  I will move in action to share HOPE.  I will help and serve those around me.  I will help and serve those around the world.  The happenings in this world do not make me want to run or hide, but to shine more, to serve more!  I will not allow my perspective to be consumed by the darkness that exists, but to keep it on the LIGHT that shines through me.

How will you let Light shine through you?….

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.

Shaken and Stirred

No, I’m not talking about martinis although that does sound good…But I’m referring to parenting thoughts right now.

I’m a mom of two little ones both under the age of two.  It’s a huge responsibility.  But they aren’t my focus.  They aren’t my everything.

Now before anyone starts judging, know that I love them so much and that is why they are not my world.  The world does not revolve around them.  My children will always know they are loved.  It’s a huge responsibility to raise children, to help them learn about their decisions, their personalities, their character, just how special God made them.  But instead of letting the huge responsibility consume my every actions, to hold me back from getting out in the world and serving as God has created me to, I’m not holding back.  I’m living.  I’m living life with children.

This morning I studied Hebrews 10:23-25 which states, “Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful.  And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.”

Guiding my children is more than just discipline (although definitely a part of our guidance)…It is being an example.  It is challenging them to see others rather than just being concerned about themselves or their own needs.  I love the words, “stir up one another” in this scripture.  He doesn’t say learn, develop the habit, pray for or ask for…he says stir.  You see, we have goodness in us thanks to God who created us in His image and who lives within us.  It’s in us.  He’s in us.  We just need to stir it up sometimes!

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Our children come with us as we serve in different countries. They come with us as we do local service projects monthly.  We are stirring the goodness and greatness within them allowing them to experience it through our lives and as a family.  Hopefully as we talk about love they see, experience, and are a part of living it out.

It isn’t always easy.  In fact, it’s a lot more work and you never really know the moods they will be in.  But I know and believe it is much better for them to get out and see love in action, to be a part of this world even as young as they are, rather than to use them as an excuse as to why we can’t do something.  I want them to always know that no matter how young or small, they already have something to share with others.

I want to stir them up!

My Son is THAT Child…

There we were…dressed in our Sunday best (or at least the nicest clothes I could find in a hurry this morning) standing up on the stage ready for our children to be dedicated at church today.  It was a little hard to hear with the commotion that was to my left…the squirming to get down, the whining to be let go of to run around.  And who was that rambunctious little one?…yes, you guessed it.  There he was, my little squirmer, Gabriel, trying to get out of Jared’s arms.  It obviously was the worst moment to want to go play.  I mean how does a 21 month old not understand that this was an important and “quiet” moment?

I’ll be honest, I was sweating and wondering if we were going to make it through, but I couldn’t help but laugh at the situation.  For one, I had calm little Lucia in my arms, and it was Jared who was trying to contain our lil’ man.  But honestly, it’s life.  I would have loved for Gabriel to stand their calmly and quietly, but the truth is It just wasn’t going to happen today.  So I laughed.

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You see, Gabriel is THAT child.  His energy and voice IS going to radiate through this world.  His adventurous and energetic personality IS going to change this world.  He’s going to GO when God says Go.  He’s going to SPEAK, probably loudly, what God has given Him to say.  His life IS going to be filled by the Spirit that nothing is going to contain it.  I love my rambunctious little boy.  And as a mother, I will guide him and help him make good decisions. He is learning to behave and to listen, but I don’t ever want to break his adventurous Spirit.  It’s challenging at times, but God has great plans for him the the beautiful way He was created!

Lucia too is our precious daughter.  She is developing her own voice, and her sensitivity will help to see the hearts of others, to have compassion for the hurting, and a passion of Love to serve.  I love watching her grow and together discovering the beautiful way God will use her to be His hands and feet!

I’m so thankful for a community that surrounds us in support and understanding as they join with us to care for and help raise our children!

What My Son’s Accident Taught Me About Perspective…

The Power of FEAR is real!

If you know my son, you know he is a rambunctious, curious, adventurous 18 month old!  He climbs, takes off, wrestles, and just is a sweet boy full of energy.  After a small fall he developed a bit of a painful bruise around his shoulder.  That is a pain he really hasn’t felt before and of course would prefer never to feel again.

And so we noticed that he stopped climbing, became timid when it came to certain activities that might cause him to get hurt again, or run from things that he is unsure of.

As parents, we refuse to let fear dictate his life.  Unfortunately, accidents can’t be controlled, and avoiding them stops us from learning, from growing, from living….and in some cases from loving.  So we challenged and continue to challenge him to change his perspective, to see the opportunities and not be a prisoner of fear and the unknown.  We of course want him to be wise, but not limited by or live in fear.

And beyond just trying new things, we challenge our children to really see people.  When they see a homeless person on the street – we want them to see past the label of drunk, to the heart of the person and their story, and offer help.  When they see a police officer – we want them to see past the stories and accounts of police brutality, and see the person who is serving and protecting us with courage, and give respect.  When they see a refugee – we want them to see past the labels and fears, and see a person, a brother or sister who has a traumatic story of their own, who is in a country they don’t know, and welcome them.  We want them to see people not labels or fears.

Now some of you may read this, see the word refugee, and want to debate this perspective.  If so, the point of this blog is lost.  Because the truth is it isn’t about being right.  It isn’t about refugees.  It isn’t about terrorists.  It isn’t about ISIS (which has already started to control our actions and thoughts). It isn’t even about fear.  I’m not even giving it control.

It is about people!  It’s as simple as that.

We may stand alone, but if there is the opportunity to help, to serve, to assist another person, we are going to take it. We choose to look past the debate, past the what-ifs, past the “religions”, past the fear and see the children, the mothers, the fathers, the families in this world that we can and will serve and help.

That’s our perspective.  That’s how we chose to live.

 

I’m No Cinderella!

Be the Light

I’m a stay at home mom.  And I’ll be honest, I don’t get a lot of recognition.  Sometimes I feel invisible.  Sometimes I let words from others or lack of appreciation for managing household operations define my value.  But, the truth is I’m no Cinderella and am not playing that roll.  I’m not the poor invisible woman waiting for someone to save me and call out the value in me.

I’m choosing to remember my worth.  I’m choosing to thrive in my great responsibility, to remember those moments when Gabriel runs to me and wraps his arms around my neck in the greatest hugs, those moments when Lucia finds peace and comfort in my arms, those moments when the kids are fed and happy and dinner is ready on time, those moments when I’m able to participate in such encouraging activities like MOPS, Come to the Table service projects, and Legacy of Hope Restored activities, those moments where I can experience the mile stone moments of my children.

I choose this responsibility.  And for me this is the greatest role I have the honor of living out!  It may not come with promotions, thanks, or at times rest, but I know who I am and that I’m giving 110% in all that I do for our children and our family…and for generations to come.

Proverbs 31:27-31 states

“She watches over the affairs of her household
    and does not eat the bread of idleness.
Her children arise and call her blessed;
    her husband also, and he praises her:
“Many women do noble things,
    but you surpass them all.”
Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting;
    but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.
Honor her for all that her hands have done,
    and let her works bring her praise at the city gate.”

I’m no Cinderella… I am a woman who is passionate, full of love, and absolutely blessed to be a stay at home mom.  My value is in He who is in me and the Life and Love I live and give!  May my work daily bring God glory and advance His Kingdom!  I’m not looking for that glass slipper…I’ve got my kingdom and know that my hands, my heart, my life are being used to share His Love!  There’s no better Life to Live!

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.

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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.

To See. To Believe. To Be in Awe…

Now that’s the way to Live!

When was the last time you were amazed?  When was the last time you saw a miracle?  When was the last time you actually believed in the possibility of what could be?

It’s 4:00am and I woke up to pray for several people heavy on my heart.  As I was praying, I began to think about my heart behind the prayers.  You see, there are many people I know of who are in need of a miracle, a true, life changing, God praising miracle!  Yet as I pray for them, I find myself, praying almost in timidity and fear…fear of disappointment in the outcome, fear of praying out of selfish motives, doubt and timidity that my prayers are insignificant in the grand scheme of things and the problems and challenges that people are facing.

When did I lose that sense of awe and wonderment in the power of God and the Holy Spirit? When did I stop believing that I AM a vessel used by God, guided by the Spirit?  When did I stop believing in what seems like the “impossible” and start settling or even expecting that miracles are rare?  When did I close my eyes to focus on the size of the problems, instead of opening my eyes to the Power of God that is around us every day!

Acts 5:12
“Now many signs and wonders were regularly done among the people by the hands of the apostles.”

They were REGULARLY done among the people by the HANDS of the apostles.  Regularly, not rarely!  What a powerful verse to remember about the power of Christ and the Spirit in us…the miracles that are regularly possible when we believe, open up our hearts and minds to the possibilities, and pray, move, and live in the wonderment of the miracles that can be seen daily!

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I want to live like that!  I want a heart that believes!  I want to be used by God whose Power and Love is greater than any challenge, disappointment, and fear!

Will you Pray in Boldness?  Will you Love beyond fears?  Will you Believe in the Possibilities?  Will you Live in Awe of God and His Greatness in our DAILY Lives?

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.

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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.

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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