Seen & Heard: Random Phone Photos

wpid-0127141616.jpgThis guy got new glasses on Monday. Every time I looked at him, I laughed out loud. That made him self conscious, sorry about that. :/ The truth is, I love this guy and wouldn’t be the same woman without him.  I sometimes blame all of our issues on his wild passion for God, but ultimately I know that he seeks God wildly and I would be so frustrated with anything less. 🙂 Love you honey, and your new glasses too!

wpid-0127141652a.jpgWe went to the park, we’ve been stopping in at the park for an hour here and there more often these days. The poor 3 year old at the end of this clan hasn’t had enough park time and we all do better with some fresh air. These two brothers are discovering some commonality as one is finally old enough to engage in the pursuits of another. They still keep a safe distance, but they are finding their way. God works in all things.

wpid-0127141802a.jpgWe were having dinner and I was thinking what a blessing it is to have the entire family together at the table. This is a common occurrence these days, but I know it won’t always be the case. I took this to capture the normal moment of “dinnertime” and they all thought I was strange. That’s ok, they always think that.

wpid-0128141919a.jpgOn Tuesday night we celebrated this guy’s 7th birthday with my mom and no cousins.  It’s a new normal and we miss our cousins, but we are taking full advantage of having grandparents all to ourselves!!! 😛

wpid-0128141333.jpgThis guy wisely removes himself once a day to swing on the swings by himself. He’s done this everyday for years and years. It’s for all our good, I need to find my own swing – for the good of all!

wpid-0130140701a.jpgThe three middles successfully made it a night in their new tent. It’s so fitting that all of the gifts that Maury chose this year were things he could do with his brothers, he loves and adores them.

wpid-0129140933.jpgOur baby boy turned 7, he loves to make people laugh and he’s good at it. 🙂

 

wpid-0129141900b.jpgWe have great friends that come over every week for community group. It’s been neat to watch the kids bond and grow to love each other as they spend time week after week. Look at those guys back there standing right in front of the TV…!

 

wpid-0130141216a.jpgThis girl’s reading level is higher than mine was at her age, a book and a tree, is there anything better?

That’s a week in our life in random pictures. 🙂

Happy Friday!

A Light in the Darkness: Hope

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In the month of January, I light a candle every morning. It started as a thing on a list of to-dos. “Light a candle first thing in the morning” A reminder to be a light to this household; to remind this household to be a light. It turned out to be a shining light of hope and a light to my early morning reading in the dark.

I’m talking to a friend and she’s sharing how difficult life is, how it hasn’t changed the way she expected. My other friend encourages, she speaks the words clear, words of hope: “Yes, but the difference, now that you are in Christ, is that you are not without hope.”

You’ve encountered trials, but you are not without hope.

I see a man sitting near the street, in front of a gas station. He isn’t homeless, I can see that, his baseball cap and Seahawks shirt, his jeans and his bicycle with a wooden trailer attached don’t speak of rags or riches. He’s not homeless, he’s just down on his luck.

The empty water jugs in his make-shift trailer, a sign of his hope for income.

Where is his shining light of hope? Where does he find his peace?

I see it there in his hand, sitting there in front of that fueling station, cars humming past him on the busy Monday morning commute. The world around him is getting back to work, getting back to life – he’s trying to just make it by. Hope held in his hand.

I think of my own hope. I wonder how to keep this closeness, how to remain connected to the vine when the schedule is off, when the “quiet” times are drowned out by the loud ruckus of life.  So often, I’m trying to find the peace from without, forgetting that this Immanuel, this God with us, this Prince of peace, this God come to dwell in us, carries all the quiet my thirsty soul needs to survive.

In his hand he holds a ticket, his ticket of hope. He’s scratching this ticket, scratching, scratching, scratching. Methodically scratching away all his cares, laying all his hope right out on the side of the street.

Scratching for hope.

I drive on. Wondering about that man, wondering if those tickets brought disappointment, wondering if he has enough empty jugs to make ends meet. Wondering if all this scratching for hope is bringing him peace,

or just more emptiness.

I keep lighting my candle each morning, keep reminding myself to be a light, keep reminding myself of The Hope. I’m scratching at the idea that it’s not about setting aside times to be with God, it’s about abiding in the One who goes with me, even to the ends of the earth. I can scratch and claw for things that will fill these gaping holes, or

I can rest in hope of His glorious light.

Seen & Heard: How I Do It

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I was at the dentist yesterday so I had the typical deja vu experience of having conversations that seem original, but are played out anytime I go anywhere new. As soon as it’s discovered that I have 6 kids, the story is always the same.

“Wow! You look really great for having 6 kids!”

Thank you! I think? Is this some sort of backhanded compliment? No, they’re being friendly. Ok. Thank you!

Then comes the inevitable, “I don’t know how you do it!”

I laugh and smile and be polite. It’s really not so hard, but I have done my homework.

Here’s how I do it in 5 quick bullets. It doesn’t always work out pretty and different seasons have looked different, but this is how it works in our household.

  1. We have a routine – It’s not always followed strictly, but there’s a sense of what comes first and what comes next. Breakfast is generally at 8am, everyday, for years. You must come to breakfast dressed, boys don’t like to sleep in shirts and I don’t want to see your chest. Dressed. No exceptions. Breakfast, chores, school.
  2. Kids do chores – They begin having strict chores at the age of 4. We start small and train with an older child, but they do chores, they expect to do chores. Those systems where mom gobbles up your things? I have no idea what I’m supposed to do with those. The house has been divided up in chores and chore times and they get done. Many hands make the work light!
  3. Speak principle – Ok, this is silly, but I do like to say teaching phrases over and over. “Always be honest.” “Work hard, play hard,” “Many hands make the work light,” “Don’t put off until tomorrow what you can do today.” They’re silly, but I know they’ll come into the minds of my children when they have a decision to make. There’s nothing more powerful than strategically playing Jedi mind tricks with your kids by getting into their heads.
  4. Stay home – We miss out on a lot of really great opportunities by not jumping on every one. We jump on very few. Ask any close friend of mine, not only do I not answer my phone, but I don’t go to places I don’t want to go.  This is my normal nature, but this is also very intentional. We live a busy life, we need to be ready and available to live that life and we won’t have energy to live well if we’re maxed out.
  5. Be flexible – How do I do it? By God’s grace! Every child, every situation, every season of life requires much prayer and much flexibility. I have children that I have to watch and monitor their level of stress and their needs to have time alone, if I miss the cues and we break the threshold of tolerance, we pay! There have been seasons where nothing is how I would like things to run, but it’s for the good of the household at the time so we went with it. Pray!

That’s how I do it. As the kids are getting older, I’m learning to rest and sit more, but I don’t’ have a lot of down time. Such is life. God has always been faithful and gracious to guide us each step of the way.

Happy Friday!

The Church Planting Wife – Chapters 5 & 6

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Chapter 5: The Sacrificial Heart

In chapter five, the focus is to be willing to be spent, to serve others and “eradicating pride.” Here are some quotes that give insight into the chapter:

“Am I willing to spend and be spent; not seeking to be ministered unto, but to minister?” – Oswald Chambers

“My greatest ongoing struggle as a church planting wife has been primarily with myself.”

Some personal thoughts spurred:

People will often say to me, you’re the pastor’s wife, you shouldn’t be doing this or that. This is actually a boost to my resolve that I must continue doing what I’m doing, I must serve all the more. If I, as a pastor’s wife, will not serve, then I’m worthless for the work of the Lord.

There’s a lot of serving behind the scenes as a pastor’s wife; that hasn’t proved to be my problem.  I’m good at that, I’ve done it for many, many years.  What’s proved difficult is serving not in my strength, but in my weakness.  For me, putting myself out there, reaching out, doing the up front jobs, puts me in a place of having to depend on, trust in and rely on God like never before. Serving out of weakness has stripped me of my strength so that I have no other choice but to throw myself on God’s mercy and ask that He might work in and through me.

Chapter 6: The Faithful Heart – Forsaking Fear

This chapter goes right along with the lessons I’m learning about serving in weakness, being fearless and trusting God.  It talks about being out there, planting a church, safety harnesses gone. This can be a fearful place to be, going out on a limb for God. Christine challenges:

“When we fight to stay in certain and controlled circumstances, seek comfort over discomfort, or need a fully mapped out plan, can we even claim faith in God at all?”

Personal thoughts:

Fear spreads, fear can be sensed and felt. Fear says, “God, I do not believe you are enough for this.” Faith spreads, faith can be sensed and felt. Faith says, “God, I know that I’m not enough, but I believe you are more than enough for this.”

These two chapters were timely and further cemented the lessons God is teaching me right now.  Fear leads to partial obedience (disobedience!), a plan B that seeks to take God’s will and tweak it to our strengths so we don’t have to rely fully on Him.  I’m tired of serving in weakness, but my aim is to be spent in the service and glory of Him and doing this means I must be fully obedient.

Living fearless, transferring my fear of circumstance into a fear of God, that’s what I seek.

Seen & Heard: Navigating an Extrovert World

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There’s such a thing as being too introspective.

It’s called being a highschooler.

That’s how I’ve felt this week, like a highschooler. Every feeling, every thought, all my interactions have gone through the filter of feelings, attacked by my worldview, looked at from every angle. After going through this process, they’re plopped out in haphazard fashion to anyone who may be nearby.

It’s there. Leave it there. Don’t think about how you feel about it, just let that thing lie there!

I’m an introvert. Filtering and processing is what I do and it takes time.  My extroverted counterparts also filter and process, but their system works at lightening speed and rather than internalizing every encounter, they process it on a high level and carry on with life.

See what I’m doing? I’m being introspective about extroverts/introverts.

Some weeks, like this past one, I spend all my days living an extrovert’s life. Moving at the speed of life, no time to stop and process, lots of putting myself out there. The result is me trying to find a rock to hide under while also trying to discern why it is I need a rock so badly.

I share with my husband how tired I am of having to live in my weakness. Why can’t God give me something to do that I’m good at?! (I know, pride and God’s glory and all that, I never said I was being rational this week, I said I was being a highschooler.)

I shared with him, and he just looked at me. That was probably best, but terribly frustrating.

Maybe I just won’t share anything with you anymore.

Then, he said what is my favorite quote of the week: “No! Honey, don’t worry I have DEEP WELLS of emotion!”

Sure. that’s what we need, two of us feeling feelings. 🙂

Yeah, it was one of those weeks.

🙂 Now that I’ve filtered and processed it, I can laugh about it!

Happy Friday!

Exposed

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The day is bright, the sun is shining with all the hope of Christ Jesus.

You’re living in the light of His glory, set apart, made free, washed clean.

Like an unforseen summer storm, the darkness shadows you.

Words pour down, wash over; submerge you in their flood.

Words meant to cut.

Shards of hate

They slice

Tear

Shamed

Broken

Weak

Stripped

Alone

Naked

Exposed

In a moment, you’re reduced to a state of paralysis.

The ghosts that haunt you emerge from the shadows.

The words that taunt you descend upon your heart.

The condemnation and guilt ravage your mind,

tear your heart,

threaten to wound your soul.

You come to me torn, broken; tattered.

You speak of the skeletons in your closet.

Your guilt

Your Shame

No, my sister, you’ve been washed.

Made clean.

But if you only knew the truth. Of what I was, of the damage done.

If you knew the truth, your eyes would drop.

Cloud.

Look away.

If I told you of my guilt, you may find me guilty.

I look at you, broken before me.

I wonder what could possibly wound you so deeply, strip you so quickly?

You’re strong, you shout the praises of Jesus with exuberance.

What about your past do you think He hasn’t covered?

What about your past do you think I’m going to see

through the flood of the grace of His blood flowing over it?

We sing of being washed, whiter than the snow

We sing of the wonders of being made whole.

You aren’t alone.

I’ve been there too.

Exposed. Ashamed. Not enough. Never enough.

But I’m just a friend and a bad one at that.

How can I help when the enemy strikes so strategically, so precisely, so tenaciously?

When I find you stripped, broken, exposed,

I ask, Why God?

She shines the light of your glory so brightly.

Why?

That she might know she is washed.

That she might be made whole.

It’s true, I don’t know your stories

Haven’t heard tales of your deepest, darkest secrets.

If you speak them, I’ll listen.

Listen for the scarlet thread of redemption.

Listen for the jubilant exposure of God’s abundant grace flowing throughout your days.

I pray for you, friend.

For your healing, protection, for salve for your tattered heart;

pierced conscience.

Don’t carry the weight of your guilt.

Jesus has already carried it for you.

When the accuser drips with lies,

Lies disguised in some truth of your guilt – He holds illusions before you.

That sin that shames you?

It’s covered in blood.

Don’t heed these lies.

I know better,

You know better.

You were washed.

You were sanctified.

You were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.

You have been made whole.

Who can separate us from such love?

Seen and Heard: 3 Things in 3 Days

Three days into the New Year!

1.SOMETHING NEW: I learned something on New Years Eve, if you say you want to go to bed early, you should specify how early. A certain man in my home went to bed at 9:15 and that made me very discouraged.  I watched Monsters University and then headed to bed myself. Happy New Year! :/

2. SOMETHING BORROWED: I sent my husband on a personal retreat to pray and plan for the new year. He was there only ten minutes before he called and asked if I wanted to join him. 🙂  Our dear friends gifted him with a beautiful room that turned out to be an excellent workspace with plenty of room.  I sent along some good books for inspiration, a couple of personal notes and this list by Kevin DeYoung. The list has useful questions like this: “Have I done anything out of the ordinary to cherish and help my wife?”

While he’s gone I have the job of entertaining the teenagers after the youngers go to bed. They just sat there looking at me so I decided to learn how to play their game:

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3. SOMETHING READ: My 2014 book reading plan is in full force right now, I’m currently reading through a couple of great books and thought I’d share quotes from each, but there wasn’t really anything quotable in them, so here are some thoughts:

Crazy Busy by Kevin DeYoung: He sounds a lot like my husband. Driven, doing many things at once and not daunted by the many tasks coming at him at once. I figured it would be best to read this one at the beginning of the year in case it had something useful in it, rather than getting more Crazy Busy and then back tracking.

Clear Winter Nights by Trevin Wax: I have hopes for this book. I am skeptical that a writer of theology can write a good novel.  Is that terrible? I am. Skeptical I mean, but I’m probably terrible too. After reading part of the first chapter I went back and read all of the good reviews of this book just to remind myself that this is going to be great, really great!

The Church Planting Wife by Christine Hoover: I’ll be blogging on these next 2 chapters (5&6) as this continues to be a good book. This book, along with a study of Judges I’m doing, along with one other thing I can’t remember right now, all talked about full obedience to God without making a plan B out of fear. 3 (or maybe 2?) of the same messages in the same week,things that make you go: hmmmm.

Judges for You by Tim Keller: My sister and my husband both say if Tim Keller writes it, you should read it. I read his book Galatians for You and loved it, this one looks to be the same. I have only read the introduction, but I’m doing the study guide in preparation for our women’s study this February. This is good stuff. I bought a stack of books and poured and prayed over all of them and this one floated to the top.  I’m already learning from it as I shared in the previous section above. Tim Keller = Good Stuff

Systematic Theology by, Wayne Grudem: I read the 1st chapter this week, which means I’m ahead of my schedule! 🙂 This one is going to be good, I already know that. For the first chapter this was an application question that jumped at me:

What is likely to happen to a church or denomination that gives up learning systematic theology for a generation or longer?

Well… I have lived this. As a teen and young adult it made me very frustrated to be in a system that didn’t teach systematic theology. Not that I knew what that was, but I was always discouraged when older christians and pastors would talk about the apostles creed and various doxologies because they had been taught them in church as children. Here I was in a system that didn’t believe in teaching such things and yet I was surrounded by older christians who had benefited from systematic theology, catechisms, creeds, etc.  I didn’t know where to obtain such information, my parents were not saved as children and were also trained in the same system.  As I began to have my own children and sought to rectify this situation, I found the pertinent information very difficult to find.  It wasn’t until I reached beyond my borders, went into forbidden territory, that I found the information I had been seeking for a large part of my life. To be sure, there were a great many blessings that overshadow that portion of my experience, but that was what I experienced and how I answered that application question.

Al Mohler has a good article out today on reading books: Some Thoughts on the Reading of Books.

Ok. So that’s what I’ve been doing the past 3 days, a lot of planning, preparing, cleaning up… We’re back to school on Monday!

Happy Friday!