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!

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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!

Seen & Heard: A Year of Grace & Stashing Treasures

There are so many things that happened in this past year that can’t be spoken about yet. The situations are too fresh, too near, so – unresolved. These things can be wrestled with, spoken about, cried over, before God in prayer. I think that’s the way He plans it. Quiet dependence on Him.

January

18120This year was definitely a lesson in dependence and 30 days into it, I was already Arguing with the Almighty.  My family dynamic had changed, the neat and tidy had been thrown off and I was struggling to line all my ducks up in a row again. I never did get those ducks lined up, but I learned a lot through that trial/blessing.

T&J

February
The stress of 2013, the decisions to be made, huge, greater than us, philosophical, moral, life-altering decisions had to be decided and we didn’t always see eye to eye. February 14 rolls around and a day that’s supposed to be full of love – wasn’t. Learning to live out Marriage in the Trenches was difficult, 2013 marks our hardest year of marriage so far.

March
FAMILYWORSHIPBy this time, we had started to gain our bearings a bit. Books certainly have an impact on me and Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s Life Together made huge impact in how I view community and family life.  Out of it came the Family Worship Experiment, a practice that didn’t stick, due to life schedules, but was fruitful in the trying and I suspect will surface again.

April
Some time in April, I joined a book club. I’ve never been in a book club before, this one was good for me, until I made the mistake of reading someone else’s blog post on a chapter before I read it. It was talking about making furniture out of leather. That was more than I could bear, I’ve made unblogged progress in this book, but sadly, it is on the 2013 unfinished books list. I’ll finish it, I will, it’s too good not to.

Mayjojo
I was still reading The Hidden Art of Homemaking in May, blogging through chapters 3 & 4, who knew there was a Hidden Art of Doodling Prayer? This really was a good exercise for me, blogging through that book, maybe I’ll pick it up in 2014.  A better picture of what has had an impact on my own life and more specifically in 2013 is the post Child-rearing: It Takes Community. A special thank you to those very important adults who have impacted and poured into my children.

When your child hits a wall and turns their ears from you, when there is no way to get in, get through, make way. Then, friendship steps in, community steps in, life on life daily living kicks it up a notch and makes paths where the brush and weeds and thorns were too thick to pass through.

June
wpid-2013-06-11-16.56.08.pngAre you tired yet? It was tiring to live this year! We celebrated 15 years of marriage in June, moved in June, our hearts broke in June, I can only pray that in time God will restore and heal all broken things. So Life Goes On…

So I take my boxes and those dear to me and I venture out with all the exhilaration and hope that comes with new life. A fresh start. With all confidence in the One who has been faithful, and will be faithful again, I smile.

I embrace the future.

July2013-07-26 13.27.02
In July the struggled continued. 2013 was a year of changes and rediscovering who we were. It was as if the rug was pulled out from under us and we just couldn’t gain a steady footing. These two posts this month are very dear to me. One was the passing of a dear girl Amanda Wright and the other was regular life with kids, but as I look back now I see that we were making specific and pivotal decisions during this time that we’re reaping the blessings from now. God does that, He takes you through the pain to bring you to the joy, sometimes it just takes time.

August
I was studying for our Women’s Conference in August and I had biblical womanhood on my mind in The Old Worn Soapbox.  Being on the other side, I find myself tired of talking about this. We’ve gone through the teaching stage for now, it’s time to start living some of these things. I’ve been praying about how to provide opportunities for women to live out their call  in the body. We’ve made progress, God’s not done with this yet.

September
wpid-20130906_151341.jpgGuess What? In September, I posted my first Seen & Heard post. They’ve come to be my favorite, I love to act silly and say whatever I want in them. Sometimes I have too much to say because something has gotten me all fired up, but mostly I try to keep them light and funny and not LONG like this one. I also began blogging through The Church Planter’s Wife, a book that has been good for me, another book not completed in 2013. (Grace, Grace!)

October
I began blogging twice a week, on Wednesdays and Fridays in October. Yeah, I know, it’s a lot of Julee in a week. I have to live with me all the time so just be glad you can close your browser and walk away.  There were funny moments of Identity Crisis, moments where God spoke in A Still Small Voice, just reading books with the kids in Wrapped up in Rhymes, there were even battles over Halloween. The instance that had the greatest impact on me and greatest response from women was A Call to Connect where I discovered: “It’s possible to crave community yet also crave privacy.” I learned that it’s ok to have a small circle I’m close to, I don’t have to extend deep friendship to every person that seeks it. I scratched the surface on a topic (friendship) that is the cause of ache and hurt in  many women, it was interesting to see the response.

November2013-11-01 09.04.52
We’ve almost made it through the year. If you’ve made it this far in this post, you’re a trooper. I honestly don’t expect you to read the linked posts (Not even my husband or my mother would do that), but it’s been a great exercise for me to look back through this lens of written word. I can see God’s hand in all of these difficult days and in the great days too. November 2013 brings a look at my Unconventional Life a dream In Visions and Dreams that I thought was for one situation, but as it played out, was for another situation.

I also wrote about The Dark Thoughts of  a Mother, I understand not everyone has been to this place, which is why it needs to be written about. If you haven’t parented a child like this, you just can’t know what it’s like. I wanted to give the mothers that have, some relief.

December
I wrote two posts in December about a boy who was killed for his faith. I understand that a rich christian man losing his reality TV show job is more important, but this still burns in my heart. Dear America, This is Not a Game and Dear America, Actually  were like the Dark Thoughts of a Mother post, me saying what I really think and have lived. Both posts were misunderstood by some, that’s ok.

I wish I could say that at the end of all of these 2013 posts, I didn’t need to write and work through ObSoLeTe – The Pain in December, but I did. There are still pictures and Facebook posts and memories that remind me of the sting. It is what it is. My prayer is still this:

And I know I shouldn’t care
If I’m out or if I’m in
Cause if I am dismissed
Oh you always take me in

Take me in God. Take me in and shield the pain of what was, the pain of what could have been. Take me in to the next year and close the chapter on all that once was.

Take me in your love and heal me, make me new.

After writing that post, it stings less, just a bit less. Most the time.

On to 2014
Congratulations! You made it to the end! Now it’s time to start 2014! I’ve gone back and forth about studying the book of Nehemiah this year, but after writing this wrap up, I see that it’s time to begin purposefully rebuilding the city.One foot in front of the other, here we go. We go with grace, hope and peace – We go with God.

He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High
will abide in the shadow of the Almighty.
I will say to the Lord, “My refuge and my fortress,
my God, in whom I trust.”

 (Psalm 91:1-2, ESV)

Seen & Heard: Bad Christians

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This Christmas has been an odd one for us. We haven’t broken out an advent book, haven’t lit a candle. We set up a tree in our living room, threw a bunch of ornaments on it, discussed at great lengths what star to put on top and called it Christmas. There have been no trips to look at lights, or to any festive places.

I suppose we aren’t very christiany Christians.  Certainly a pastor and his family must live more spiritually than this?

Last night, the kids and I watched Bedtime Stories. Tony asked how it was later in the evening. I told him it had crude humor, “You know, so that’s always funny.” I rolled my eyes as I said it, remembering the reason I didn’t let the kids see this movie in the theaters.  He asked, “Were there a lot of people slipping and falling down like Home Alone?”  “No. There was a guy named Butt-kiss. They loved that.”  We don’t do this.  There are countless children’s movies my kids have not seen. Last night, they watched Bedtime Stories. There. I said it.

I think they’re going to be ok. I really, really do.

We haven’t done anything Christmasy and we’re watching movies with crude humor. Great.

My friend asked me about children’s bibles yesterday, what’s on your bookshelf? We’ve read all of ours. Umm… The Action Bible? We had the Lego bible but it talks about rape and kids way to young were asking about that so we put that away. We have children’s books on Augustine and great leaders of the faith… surely that counts for something?

I used to be so strict, so careful. I haven’t lost that, but now that I’m the ripe old age of 33, I’ve loosened up a bit. You know how the babies in the family are always allowed to do more than everyone else ever was? Yeah, I think we’re there. I don’t plan on watching more crude humor, but if my 3 year old says Santa is bringing her a candy, I don’t sit her down and give her a good talking to.  She plays with Barbies. I know, it’s wild around here.

There hasn’t been a strong feeling of Christmas cheer, but there’s been something else. There’s been a distinct feel of family, relationship, connection.  We’ve had friends and family in, we’ve talked, laughed, shared life together. My friend showed up at my door the other day and a few days later, I sat down in her kitchen. We laughed, we talked, we shared hardships. The other night, I had the opportunity to go out for dessert with a group of women very special to me. Another group of believers talked and guided me through a difficult test in my life. The kids, all of them, have been hanging out together. Meeting each other in the halls, in bedrooms, on swingsets and spending time together.  There’s been laughing. Lots of laughing.

I had the opportunity to sit down to talk for 2 hours with my 14 year old the other night.  He just kept talking, sharing his heart, his dreams. I just kept staring straight into his eyes, asking questions, smiling, laughing.  What’s more merry than that?

We’ve been praying for people. People who are visiting our home, people we hear about, people we care about.

We actually filled up an Operation Christmas Child box this year! Two of them! That is an accomplishment for this family! 🙂

That’s 13 days of real life in December in our household, it’s not much, but God is here, alive and moving among us.

Happy Friday!  or Merry Christmas if that makes you feel better! 🙂

Seen & Heard: Stashing Treasures

It’s a quiet Friday morning. The kids are off this week and so is our schedule. I’ve seen and heard so many great things this week, in the quiet of this morning I find myself calm, my mind blank, still.

I go through seasons where the whirlwind is so great I need to withdraw. I used to be able to do this by simply staying home; life isn’t so simple anymore. There are people everywhere. I often find myself so outside my comfort zone, so much stepping out by faith, so much being who and what I need to be, that I finally have to withdraw.  I find myself an introvert in a world that is seemingly filled with extroverts.

In the chaos. In the people. There are moments, really great moments, where hearts meet; love forms.  I dream of running off to live on a farm with Ann Voskamp where we could wax poetic about anything and everything, but the poem of these lives flowing in and out of my home cause my heart to overflow with love.

MOMENTS THIS WEEK

  • SUNDAY: Standing with my friend with tears in my eyes as she retells how God has been working in her mom. Chills, as I sense we are about to watch God do something amazing. (He did. He always does. It’s His nature)
  • MONDAY: My son explaining that his precious guitar strings, the ones we argue over who will pay for and if they really need to be changed, his beloved guitar strings? They are being worn down and worn out from worshiping God, with those in another country, the same God – in Spanish. What has become of his spare strings? He gave them away. By the way, if he comes home without a guitar strap or a capo, it’s because he plans to also leave those. What wonder is this?
  • TUESDAY: Sitting with 5 women as we finish out a study that drove us crazy with it’s frills, repetitiveness and nonsense, but laughing in wonder as we see how God was speaking anyway. Hearts opening as we share the impossible things in this life, things we have no control to change. Things we lay before The One who is victorious over all. Later, talking with another dear friend who just so happens to be a neighbor. Sharing life, encouraging one another. Days of talking over the backyard fence may be over, but we catch a glimpse of this community, christian community with this moment of encouragement in the afternoon.
  • WEDNESDAY: THIS:
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This little one begs to be played with all day long. These two who stayed late, ate chips and salsa and lived life right beside us. Hurts, tears, pain, weights and all, we lay them before the King and then play Candy Land with a 3 year old. It’s how it’s supposed to be. 🙂

  • THURSDAY: Oh, Thursday. Too many things to recount in the rollercoaster day.  Hard, good talk with my husband. Meeting with a great pastor who lets me run with my ideas, helps me carry them out and helps me think clearly! I left this meeting rejoicing, it’s a beautiful thing when ministries in a church converse, talk, and work together. It’s for the good of the people, the good of the ministry, the good of the mission and it glorifies God, why don’t ministry leaders TALK more. Stop drawing lines between yours and mine and let’s work together already. Snuck out for tea and another, easier chat with my husband. Did my best to encourage some AMAZING women whom I am so blessed to walk this life with. They LOVE and then LOVE some more and I love to watch them LOVE! 🙂

That brings us to Friday and this quiet morning. There have been high highs and low lows, but as you can see, God is so, so faithful. I can’t focus on the drama or the incessant desire to withdraw, I have to focus on Stashing Treasures.

Happy Friday!

Seen & Heard – Elementary Days

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I’m currently living with my 6th toddler. The fact there’s only one toddler could be considered progress! These days, the older kids are often busy with their own activities and I often find myself with 3-10 year olds.  It’s a blessing to go back and live through elementary days..  We spend a lot of time working, playing and living side by side and I’m blessed to be able to spend this time walking through life with these kids.

I ran across this post and I love the intentionality in it. The idea of utilizing this season and the little ones, that are a comfort and joy to the elderly, is fantastic. I remember one day when Timothy was young and we spent some time visiting a nursing home, how blessed a time that was! The investment is small really, but it can go a long way. Stay at home moms, pray about this, this could work!

In the car today, listened to a song dear to my heart and relevant to my current heart stirrings:

The Still Small Voice is still working it’s way in and out with varying levels of success:

  • I apply my musing on being an agreeable wife by arguing passionately a point I could honestly care less about.
  • In my pursuit of living a life of faith, not getting entangled in the little things, I bristle at a rude comment made and respond coldly to the person who dared offend me.

I must respond to the ugly filth revealed in my heart. I must continue to pursue the conquering of these issues. Praying, seeking, reaching higher, forging deeper into the heart of God. What a glorious blessing!

In other news, my boys are going camping with my husband and dad this weekend.  Something about catching fish, camping and eating fish. In October. As the practical one in the bunch, I’m trying not to think of all of the details. Like, for example, what will they eat?

I plan to spend the weekend with my girls and my mom planning my sisters baby shower and hanging out at Hobby Lobby. That beats camping and fishing any day, but especially on a cold October day!

Happy Friday!

Seen & Heard – Adventures in Identity

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Mistaken Identity:

“Our neighbor looks like Si!”

Josiah! Be polite!

“I mean, he’s REALLY lucky!”

🙂 He actually kind of looks like Si, he does have a point.

Brothers Causing Identity Crisis:

Maury is trying to convince Nathan that he is really 5 and we have been tricking him all his life that he is younger than Maury.

Identity Defined:

In our biblical womanhood bible study we were discussing the design of men this week.  On the same day as the study, I came across this article by Tim Challies about a new book, Fierce Women. In the search for biblical womanhood there is a difficulty in keeping the integrity of the woman God has created each of us, but also living that character out in a manner fitting to the call. I haven’t read this book yet, but it looks like the author tackles this issue and displays how women can remain strong and still live in their God given role. The book is $1.99 on the Kindle right now: Fierce Women.

Identity Builders:

Chuck Smith passed away yesterday. My cousin and I were talking about how we owe much of our spiritual heritage and church experience to his ministry and life.  I consider it a great grace to have grown up in the safety and care of the Kingdom and I am thankful for the role that Chuck Smith’s life played in that. God is so good to bring about His great work through worthless men. He sets us up and uses us all in amazing ways that bring great joy and blessing to us and great glory to His name!

Kay Smith has also influenced my life through her book about pastor’s wives. Lifting up prayers for her during this difficult time at this loss of her life’s friend.

Identifying with the Young Males in the Household:

Tonight, I will be throwing a League of Legends Championship party.  Did you know those existed? LOL championships I mean, not parties. I found out they existed and also found out cheapest tickets to attend cost $45 dollars!  Thus, the LOL Championships party was invented.  Some pizza, soda, snacks, candy, 5 or more males locked in my school room overnight… I think this is going to cost more than $45, but it will make a certain young man very happy and he’s earned it this week! 🙂

Happy Friday!