Our Life...

Our Life...
...summed up in one photo.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Back-Scratching and Prayers

As I write this we are in the middle of a bout with a stomach virus that won't go away. Everyone has had it except Chris and Hudson...so far.  I'm weary of watching my little ones lay around not feeling well. I'm weary of not feeling well. And weary of saltines and toast and applesauce.

And may I be completely honest in the midst of my whining? I'm weary of cleaning up after "throw up" and the constant laundry it creates and the smell of it covered by Odo-Ban and Spring Waterfall scented Lysol.  ("throw up" seemed to be the least offensive sounding way to put it...if you prefer, you may insert a different euphemism for it :) )

I had a long nap this afternoon when Chris got home from church, so I'm wide awake in the middle of the night. Hudson came in our room about 30 minutes earlier. I heard the creaking in the hallway and my first thought was.."Oh no...here we go again." After five straight nights of having to change sheets or pajamas in the middle of the night, it was becoming routine. Thankfully, no one was sick. He just wanted his music in his room turned on. He was having trouble falling back asleep.  I walked him back to his room and turned on his CD player.

While I was tucking him in, he said, "Mommy, do you know why I'm having trouble falling asleep?" (That's his favorite way to tell me about anything, by asking me a question.) "Because I can't get comfy. If you scratch my back, I bet I can fall asleep." (He'll also use any excuse to have his back scratched.) "Okay buddy," I say as he flips over before the words are out of my mouth.  I scratch and rub his back till he seems to be drifting off.  And I tiptoe to my room, hoping I can fall back asleep. But I can't, because of the aforementioned nap. :)

About 10 minutes later, Hudson is back in our room. Apparently he wasn't as settled as I thought. "Mommy, can you scratch my back one more time?"  "Sure Hudson." And so we're walking back to his room again. As he's crawling into his bed he says, "Mommy, if you pray to me maybe I can fall asleep." "Okay Hudson" I say smiling. We'll worry about the semantics later, I knew what his sweet little four year old mind wanted. And so I pray for him out loud -- that God will watch over him and protect him from the "bug" and help him to fall asleep and I say, Amen and he grins and closes his eyes.

As I'm scratching his back and holding back tears, I continue praying silently. Lord, grow this willingness in his heart. This willingness to come to You so naturally, knowing You want that for him and from him always. Protect him and keep him tender to Your voice and Your ways. Do that for all of my children. Help me to have that same childlike quality in my walk with You.

And I leave again, hopeful he'll be able to rest. I sneak downstairs, which is no small feat in this 1950's house with squeaky wood floors, hoping to have some alone time with my Lord. I make a cup of tea, gather my Bible and journal and head for the living room. As soon as I sit down on the couch, the door creaks open again. He's up. "Come downstairs Hudson," I whisper up the steps.

He comes down and snuggles up against me as I'm nudged to write this story in my journal. The story of the night my littlest one taught me so much with just a few simple words.  "Your writing looks pretty Mommy," he says as he smiles at me. "Thanks buddy." I look down at him and am reminded of the wise warnings of more experienced moms. Cherish the time. He won't always be this little. He won't always want me when he can't fall asleep. And I ask for grace to be patient and kind with my family in the midst of the weariness. For strength to be the woman God wants me to be.

And then he says..."Mommy, my tummy feels bad." Oh boy...here we go again.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

About a Garden and a Recovering Perfectionist

Yep, it's about me. Surprised?  Nah, didn't think you would be if you know me at all. I'm a perfectionist.  It's still strange to hear myself admit that. Up until a few years ago I really didn't think that lable fit me. I figured if I was a perfectionist, things in my house would be more perfect and so would I.  Yeah, I realize that's all part of the problem. :)  I know some people can actually use their perfectionism for good rather than evil, :>) but mine usually lands me smack dab in the middle of a state of paralysis.
Sunflowers from the Garden - 2011
Anyway, on to the case in point: The garden.

When the hubster first mentioned it, I really bulked at the idea of doing one. But the more we talked about it, there really wasn't a good reason not to do it.  The yard has a nice big plot already marked out for a garden. Chris was willing to do the tilling. The seeds were cheap.  We are trying to eat healthier. We could save some money. And besides, at the time I was homeschooling, so we could count it as science. (Yes, I'm kidding. Well...no, actually I'm not.)

The only thing holding me back was this darn perfectionism and the subsequent excuses.  How in the world would I keep up with the weeds?  I don't know anything about gardening.  I don't really want to or have time to read about gardening. And on...and on...and on....

God has been gently dealing with this perfectionism stuff in my life for a while now. He's much kinder than I am about it, thankfully. I usually want myself to just "get over it". I know that it can paralyze me in many areas of my life. It makes me not want to attempt things at times if I know I can't do them perfectly.  Which is such a joke, because we aren't going to do things perfectly, because we aren't perfect.  But, I suppose if this was a rational issue, I would have reasoned it out long ago. 

As I continue in this "recovery" from perfectionism, I think it comes down to knowing that "just being" is enough. What I do or say or don't do or don't say; doesn't define who I am. My value is in God's love for me and learning AND believing what He says about me. And thankfully, no where in my bible does it say that if I have a garden full of weeds or a messy house or some extra weight to get rid of, that I am less than HIS. Or that He loves me any more or less because of anything I do or don't do.

Yes, of course, there is value to tending to the weeds in the garden, keeping my house liveable and being a healthy weight. But I can't wait until I get those things all lined up to start living. The living is now. Right in the midst of the weeds, a less than organized house and my full-figuredness.
Carson Enjoying a Carrot
So, we did a garden last year (2010).  It was pretty exciting when we had lettuce and spinach by the end of May.  And then in June 2010, I had surgery on my toe. No bending, no squatting or anything that would put pressure on my toes. The weeds went nuts.  And amazingly, I didn't. (some may argue that's because I already was, but nevertheless...)

We enjoyed the garden for what it was. The kids loved to help pull the veggies out when they were ready. They were more willing to try things they normally would not.  It was wonderful and little by little I realized that it was ok to just do it and not expect perfection. It was ok that there were weeds in the garden. It was even ok that by the end of summer there were more weeds than "real plants".  We enjoyed what grew, which was so much more than I expected.  And maybe...just maybe, that was part of the bigger lesson. Learning to enjoy the blessings God has given me and relax in the middle of my wonderful, but imperfect life.

 Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks;
for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.   
I Thessalonians 5:16-18

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Luggage and a Toddler

I'm "cheating" a little today and using a story I wrote a few years ago. I revised it a bit to share earlier this week and thought I would share it here too.


I had just returned from an amazing week-end retreat, I put my bags by the bottom of the steps to be taken upstairs on the next trip.  One of the bags was a small rectangular rolling bag.  My son, Hudson who was almost 19 months at the time, decided he was going to try to pull it around the house.  The bag was HEAVY, still filled with the evidence of my failed attempt at packing light for the 2 day trip J...and almost as big as he was!   As he tried to drag it, it nearly knocked him down before I intervened and put it away, so he didn’t hurt himself. As I was taking it upstairs, I thought it was so silly this little boy would think he could drag around such a heavy load. 

The next morning, I brought the empty bag back downstairs to go into a storage closet.  Apparently I had forgotten that Hudson was so drawn to it.  So, of course, he went right to it and started to try to pull it around.  Although it was lighter, it was still too big and awkward for this little guy.  He would fall, cry and then get right back up and try to drag it along behind him with a new sense of determination.  He bumped into the wall and came running to me to kiss his head...and then he went right back to try to pull it again, as if forgetting what had just happened.  I watched as he tried to figure out a way to drag it around - forward, backward, even bending down and trying to pick it up and not even use the wheels. If his brother or sister came near to help he would do his best toddler "NOOO!!!"  "MIIIIINE!!!!!" And not let them help him.  My well meaning daughter, always wanting to be the helper, even got close to him and tried to explain the best way to carry it - but of course he didn't listen. Or if he was listening, he didn’t understand how to follow her directions.  Finally, exhausted with his attempts he sat down for a while, but still held on tightly to the handle.
Immediately, the following verses came to mind: 

Matthew 11:28-30
Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

Psalm 55:22
Cast your burden on the LORD, and He shall sustain you; He shall never permit the righteous to be moved.


My son is not unlike his mother.  Trying to bear burdens that exhaust, frustrate, and irritate her - things she’s not equipped to carry alone.  Running to God often, asking Him to make me feel better, but too often not willing to let go and accept His generous offer to, "Come".  "I can do it Lord...I need to do it...these are my burdens to take care of". And so I return to try to figure out a new way to balance it all – when the answer is simply, “Come”.  Or at times my pride has caused me to think, I’ve made a mess of things, I can’t just ask for forgiveness, I’ve got to fix it.”  And still the call is , “Come”.

The word used for weary in that verse refers to those who have become weary through heavy struggling or toil, while the word for burdened is more the passive side, those who are overloaded-have had huge burdens placed on them. So, it really doesn’t matter why we’re worn out. Whether it’s from our own doing or the things that have been piled on us…the invitation is the same – a gentle, “come”.


“Come, all you who are thirsty,
come to the waters;
and you who have no money,
come, buy and eat!
Come, buy wine and milk
without money and without cost.
2 Why spend money on what is not bread,
and your labor on what does not satisfy?
Listen, listen to me, and eat what is good,
and you will delight in the richest of fare.
3 Give ear and come to me;
listen, that you may live.

6 Seek the LORD while he may be found;
call on him while he is near.
7 Let the wicked forsake their ways
and the unrighteous their thoughts.
Let them turn to the LORD, and he will have mercy on them,
and to our God, for he will freely pardon.

Isaiah 55:1-3, 6-7 (NIV)


Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Trouble with Jesus

Last night I ran a few errands with my four year old son, Hudson. My husband, Chris, was at karate with our other two kiddos, so I seized the opportunity.

We finished up at the first store and while in line to check out, I thought to myself, "Wow! That was sooo easy."

My Huddy-Buddy

And why did I have this realization, you ask? (Well…if you're a mom you wouldn't really ask, you would already know..but humor me anyway. Please?)

It was SO easy BECAUSE…Hudson was SUPER cooperative!  Hoping to re-enter the mother of the year contest (since I've already blown all my other entries to this point) and catch him doing something positive, I said, "Huddy, you're a great shopper!"

His reply was..."Yeah,” and then after a few seconds, “but I wasn't in that one store."

Confused I thought for a minute about what he meant. He's usually my “go with the flow” kid and probably the easiest of the three to take to the store. Then I remembered. Several weeks ago I tried to cram too many errands into one block of time. What started as resistance from him inside the store that day turned into a full blown melt-down, as the perfect storm of his low blood sugar and his need for a nap collided in the middle of the parking lot at Aldi's. Needless to say, that wasn't one of my finer parenting moments. *ahem* I had to resort to picking him off the pavement, throwing him over my shoulder and carrying him kicking and screaming to the van. As a mom of three, I've finally learned there's no reasoning with a melting down child.

Can I get an AMEN?

Anyway...back to last night. 

So I said to him, "You mean the other week at Aldi's?"

He said, "Yeah."

"Yeah,” I chuckled, you were having a little trouble that day, weren't you buddy?" 

And his reply?

"Yeah, I was having a little trouble with Jesus." 

Smiling…and laughing out loud in the checkout line at this point, several thoughts swarmed my mind all at once. The first being, wow..how profound??  How many times do I have "trouble with Jesus"? Trouble listening to Him. Trouble obeying Him. Trouble serving Him, making time for Him. Trouble receiving His grace and instead choosing to hang on to my mistakes?  Do I need to go on?  ;)  

None of the trouble is really Jesus, of course. It's all my own junk creating that "perfect storm" for my own version of a grown-up meltdown. 

Wow.
Hudson & a little trouble with some icing.
It caused me to think also about his little mind and heart and how he is already considering things in a spiritual sense. It made me rejoice, but it also made me realize how nonchalant I can be with "spiritual" things when it comes to my kids.  I wonder if sometimes as a family who is “in ministry” do I start to take those opportunities for granted? Please Lord, help me if I do.

Our kids are surrounded by all things “Christian”. They have awesome teachers who love the Lord both at school and at church. For that I am extremely thankful. We pray with them and talk about Jesus at home.  But in all of that, in all the familiarity of Jesus and who He is and what He has done and still does, I NEVER want talking about Him to become something that we "just do" with our kids. I want it to be because it’s TRUE. It’s ALIVE and it makes a difference. I don’t want them to look back and think their parents were just “going through the motions” doing what families in ministry do. I want them to know that it is REAL. That Jesus loves them and even if they have "trouble with Jesus", He has promised to never leave them or forsake them.

They are processing my friends, your kids are taking it all in. Whether we always see it or not they are considering the things we are sharing with them, exposing them to, and teaching them. What an awesome privilege and responsibility we have for these little ones. They are so tender. 

His tenderness led me to another thought.  Of all the positive things that happened with him in the last few weeks, that was what he remembered. He didn't remember the weekly trips to the store since then where he had behaved so well and been cooperative. He remembered the time he melted down in the Aldi's parking lot and had to be scraped off the parking lot and loaded into the van kicking and screaming. :(

Maybe you aren’t wired this way, but he is a lot like his mama. That’s my tendency as well. I tend to remember my own meltdowns and hang on to them and get stuck.  As opposed to repenting, quickly receiving God’s grace and moving on.  And again….WOW.

It never ceases to amaze me how God uses my kids to teach me and remind me of His gentleness and love for me.  Thanks for the reminder Huddy-Buddy!  And thank you Jesus for loving me even when I have a little trouble with ya'. 

…He does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities.
For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is His love for those who fear Him; as far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us. As a father has compassion on his children, so the LORD has compassion on those who fear him.                     Psalm 103:10-13

Friday, July 15, 2011

Saving Grace...

Not a whole lot of time to write today, but this really impacted me this morning and I wanted to share.  Chris and I are doing a bible study together this summer called, Seeking Him: Experiencing the Joy of Personal Revival.  It's been really challenging, in a good way.  Here's a bit from today for anyone who has ever struggled to understand God's gift of grace:

"If a young man is killed through some random act of violence, and his father tracks down the guilty person and kills him, we would call that vengeance.  If, however, the father calls the police and the murderer is arrested, tried, convicted, and executed, we'd call that justice.  If, at the trial, the father pleads for the guilty man's life to be spared and the judge and jury consent, we'd call that mercy.

Now imagine this: in addition to pleading for the guilty one to be spared, the father actually appeals to the judge to release the offender into his custody and care. Miraculously gaining approval, the father takes the young man into his heart and home, adopts him, and raises him and loves him as his own son...that would be grace!"        (Seeking Him, page 86)


Ephesians 2:1-9

Once you were dead because of your disobedience and your many sins....You used to live in sin, just like the rest of the world, obeying the devil—the commander of the powers in the unseen world. He is the spirit at work in the hearts of those who refuse to obey God.  All of us used to live that way, following the passionate desires and inclinations of our sinful nature. By our very nature we were subject to God’s anger, just like everyone else.  But God is so rich in mercy, and he loved us so much,  that even though we were dead because of our sins, he gave us life when he raised Christ from the dead. (It is only by God’s grace that you have been saved!)  For he raised us from the dead along with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms because we are united with Christ Jesus. So God can point to us in all future ages as examples of the incredible wealth of his grace and kindness toward us, as shown in all he has done for us who are united with Christ Jesus. God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God.  Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it.  For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Glitter, Messy Hands and Fun!

If I'm being real, (which IMHO, if we're going to be anything we ought to at least be real...right?), I'm not a big fan of glitter paint or getting my hands REALLY messy. But, I am a mom. Which means I have to push myself out of my dislike of these two things every once in a while. Well, when it comes to the messy hands part - fairly often if I DON'T want to majorly stress myself out and if I DO want to allow my kids to enjoy their childhood. :) 

So, I decided to make these cute 4th of July shirts with my kids. I got the idea from Family Fun .  I actually planned it a few weeks in advance (which N.E.V.E.R. happens in my world). I was able to use a few Michael's 50% coupons, that along with snagging the shirts 2/$5 one week made it a cheap and fun craft.

We started out making them outside.  Our neighbor's little boy was over and I "just happened" to have an extra shirt. I was really proud of my kids that they wanted him to go first and were excited to watch him make his.

Did I mention that made me really proud?  *sigh* 


The wind picked up after he was finished and after watching the paper plates of glitter paint blow across the yard twice, we decided to go inside.  I didn't have a huge space to work in, so we took turns at the table. I think the one-on-one probably helped my stress level make things a little easier too.
Carson's
The kids thought it was really cool to wear shirts that they made and they washed up really well. (aka: there wasn't glitter throughout the washer/dryer).  

Which gives it an all around 4 out of 5 stars in my book.
Why not 5 stars, you ask? Well, I deducted one star for the amount of time it took for me to get the glitter out from under my fingernails. *ugh*

Did I mention I really don't like to get my hands messy?

So, since we're being real....what thing(s) have you been forced to "get over" because of your kids?
<><>
Hudson's
Riley's


P.S. I apologize for the funky layout of this post...I tried and tried and tried to get these last 3 pictures on the same line, but it just didn't happen. Oops!









   
  

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Our Story - Part 5

*I think it's ironic that I ended my last post with thoughts about our waiting not being as long this time around and then took 2 1/2 months to write this last installment!  oops!*  Back to the story.....


When I left Maryland in February 2000, I didn't know when I would return there. Never in my wildest dreams did I think I would spend my birthday back home that same year surrounded by my family and friends. But that is exactly what happened.

 As we continued praying and seeking God's will about our next step, we found out about a neat little church start in Tyrone, Pennsylvania (only 90 minutes from my family). We began communicating with their pastor search team. By the end of September, we flew to Maryland and then drove just north of Altoona to Tyrone to meet with some folks from the church. We were instantly impressed with the warmth and welcome we received from the people. Chris preached the next day and the church voted. I remember being so cautious with my heart and trying to surrender what I wanted to the Lord.  I didn't want to let myself get too excited about the possibility, in case it wasn't what God had for us.  Thankfully, it was.

All of the housing and moving details fell into place and exactly a year after we had met on-line, we were packing up our lives in a U-Haul with our 2 newly "rescued" Boxers and setting off cross-country again.   That was an adventure!  The only safe place for the dogs was the cab of the truck. The vet gave us medicine to "drug" them so they were more comfortable. Unfortunately, the dosage he suggested for our 90 lb. brindle male was a little more than needed.  Poor Samson looked like he was drunk anytime we stopped to walk them.  The U-Haul also broke down in Little Rock, Arkansas. All I could think of was having to unpack everything in it and move it to another trailer. UGHHH!!  Thankfully, that didn't happen and they were able to get it fixed while we had lunch with a friend of Chris' who lived there.

We settled into our rental, I began looking for a job and we started doing life in Tyrone.  During that time we found out we were pregnant with our first baby!  During that time we also found out that my mom's cancer was spreading and there was nothing left to be done. Almost a year to the date of our moving back, she would leave us.  But not before meeting our daughter, Riley, who was born in July 2001.  It still amazes me how God orchestrated all of those details to have us back so close. I can't imagine not having that final year with her, especially the last few months of her life on this earth when she was on home hospice. (I feel a post about that coming soon.) 

The last eleven years have been an incredible adventure. We have lived in six different houses in three states, experienced the joy of the births of our three children and the devastation of a miscarriage. We've shared the overwhelming grief of losing both of our moms. We've shared the highs and lows of serving in ministry at four churches. Through all of the excitement, the grief and our everyday lives, I've never once doubted saying yes to this amazing, never boring life I share with the most incredible man in the world. And that's really all I wanted to say as I began to reflect on our anniversary three months ago. 

Oh come on, if you know me at all, you know I never say anything in one sentence when I can say it in multiple chapters.  :-)

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Our Story - Part 4

For those of you who are keeping track, yes, we met on-line in October, met in person for the first time in November, were engaged in December and married in February. Four months. No, for the record, I wouldn't recommend doing it that way. :-)  Experts would say there is no way that is enough time to get to know someone. But this isn't a "how to" story about the proper way to meet someone, fall in love and get married. This is Our Story of how WE met, fell in love and were married. And we believe 100% that God was in it from the beginning and continues to be today.

To recap our wedding week-end, on Saturday we were married, Sunday we caught our breath and Monday we finished packing up my life into my Chevy Malibu for our 3,000 mile journey to Colorado. We stopped on the way out of town to say one last good-bye to my parents. It was bittersweet. I knew with everything in me that this was God's plan, yet there was still a sense of sadness. I was leaving everything I had ever known. I had lived in the same place for 30 years. And of course there was the nagging thought in the back of my mind, "What if this is the last time I see my mom?" Her battle with ovarian cancer was such a roller coaster and took so much out of her. I don't remember my exact prayer that day, but I'm sure it was something like, "I trust you Lord, please don't let this be the last time I'm with her. I want our children to know her. We need more time."


After saying good-bye, we traveled to Tennessee to spend the night. The next morning we drove to Hot Springs, Arkansas for a short honeymoon, then onto McKinney, Texas, Chris' hometown, for our second wedding reception. After spending a few days there with Chris' parents, we headed "home" to Pagosa Springs, Colorado to unpack and attend our third reception hosted by his church. We felt very received. :-)


My first few months in Colorado were spent job hunting and adjusting to the altitude. Pagosa Springs is a very small tourist and retirement community best known for the hot springs found there.  Job opportunities weren't abundant. The ones that were available with Sundays off, well, let's just say I couldn't be very choosy. After my graduation from college I had two jobs in 11 years, in the next seven months I had three different ones. Thankfully the last one God provided for me was exactly what I needed at the time.

Besides the job hunting, we found time to enjoy the hot springs for which Pagosa is known, the incredible scenery and hiking. I was definitely homesick, but being married to Chris was (and still is) pretty wonderful. He did everything he could to make the transition easier for me.  During the summer, we adopted two boxers from a rescue organization. I will never forget the four hour drive to Grand Junction, CO. No highways, just narrow, curvy roads that wrapped up the mountain side, without guard rails! We were even met by a mountain goat in the middle of the road as we went around one turn. I definitely wasn't in Maryland anymore!  Just another chapter in the adventure.  
Did I mention there were no guard rails??

In the midst of our first few months of marriage, we began to sense we wouldn't be at the church in Colorado much longer. We started to pray, sent out resumes and waited...again. I was so naive. I thought because of my extended season of singleness I had already learned the "waiting" lesson. HA!  I hate to break it to anyone who thinks the same way, it doesn't really work like that. :-)  Thankfully, this wait wouldn't be quite as long.





To be continued... 




Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Our Story - Part 3

In the middle of the excitement and planning, things financially took a turn we weren’t expecting. A few weeks after returning to Maryland, I was "let go" from my job. I had never been fired from a job in my life. After being up front with them about leaving, helping to find a new marketing director and beginning to train her, they realized they didn't really need me any longer. Apparently giving too much notice isn't a good thing. :-)  As devastated as I was at the time, looking back now I know that even that situation worked out for the best. I needed that time to prepare and pack!

As I began planning the wedding, I have to admit I felt rather clueless. Chris’ suggestion that we elope was getting more and more tempting, but I kept moving forward.  I know most little girls dream about their wedding day, but honestly, my dreams growing up were more about being a wife and a mom. Not that you can't think about all three of those things at the same time, I just never did.  I think even that was a God thing. I mean, you can't exactly be real picky about your wedding day with only 45 days to prepare one! That has its pros and cons. One of the pros was I was completely open to anything anyone wanted to do for me. The cons, well, as mentioned earlier I was pretty clueless. 

One thing we had been praying about was an inexpensive place for a reception on very short notice. I decided to look into having it where I had been working. (well that is until my untimely departure)  It was operated by a different organization and I wasn’t sure if they would go for it or even how expensive it would be. Prayerfully I asked and they agreed! The cost?  $50! It was already beautiful, so we wouldn’t even have to do much to it.

For the next month as a need came to mind, almost immediately someone offered to do it. Most would not accept payment, because they wanted to do it as a gift. Chris’ mom took care of so many details for us before the wedding and my amazing mother, who was still very weak from battling cancer, insisted on doing the food. A few of my aunts and some friends of our family stepped up and helped that day and it all came together. Several people even asked who we hired as a caterer. The cake was done for us also as a gift by a very special friend and it was beautiful!


So, on February 19, 2000, we were married. My nieces and nephews were my bridal party, the bride's side of the church spilled over onto the groom's as they were a bit outnumbered, about 150 to 4.  And the sermon went on and on and on and on.....which is so funny (now) for a number of reasons. But mostly because any wedding Chris has performed, the entire ceremony is wrapped up in close to 15 minutes. The sermon alone at ours was longer than that! Eleven years later I would like to formally thank all those who stayed awake attended the ceremony.


(One regret I have about our day (besides the extra long sermon) is that in my limited thinking, I didn't even entertain the possibility of Chris' extended family being able to make it. Knowing them as I do now, I wish we would have given them the opportunity. I think they would have moved heaven and earth to be there.)

There are many things I'm thankful we included that day. The music is at the top of the list, the words of each song we chose had special meaning to us. I'm also thankful for the pictures. I wanted to make sure we had many different ones with our families. That's something I would have wanted no matter what. The fact I was moving so far away made it even more important.  After all, who knew when I would see them again? 

To be continued….

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Our Story - The Prequel

I am going to save Part 3 for the next post and insert the prequel instead. :-) So, here is the Prequel to Our Story, Michelle's Story & Chris' Story.  I probably should have started with this one, but now seems like a good time to add it.  So, here we go....



Michelle's Story

"I wish I could say that ALL my years of waiting were spent delighting myself in the Lord, but they weren’t . Many, or most, of my years of being single were spent whining and complaining about it. Doubting that it was part of God’s plan for me to be married and believing that if it wasn’t, then there must be something wrong with me.

(I think that’s such a tempting lie for singles to believe, by the way, and sometimes we in the church can be guilty of contributing to that.  Another post for another day J. )



There were many years in that span of time where I ran from God. Believing that if I didn’t help things happen, they weren’t going to happen!  But thanks to His never ending patience with me,  FINALLY in the last few years of being single, God brought me to a place of contentment and I actually began to enjoy that season.  That new found contentment allowed me to begin enjoying some amazing opportunities. A mission trip to Ukraine, a number of wonderful retreats, involvement in several ministries, being Aunt Shell, being available to my sisters and my parents and many other things that fit perfectly with that season of being unhitched. ;-)  It was also a chance to build some incredible friendships that I still cherish today.  I didn't do everything right of course, but my heart was changing. Unknowingly, as I became more content and drew closer to Him, God was preparing my heart for the one He had for me all along."

Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding;
in all your ways submit to Him, and He will make your paths straight.
Proverbs 3:4-5

 

Chris’ Story (In his words)


“As I lived my life, trying to Pastor a church, I grew tired of seeking God about my future mate. I just couldn’t think about it anymore. I asked five people to agree to seek God on my behalf about my future spouse and I stopped thinking about the subject! A few months later, God brought me Michelle! Wow!”





He has shown you O' man what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly, to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God. 
Micah 6:8

 

OK...now back to the wedding stuff....

Monday, February 28, 2011

Our Story - Part 2

We were both afraid of running ahead of God's plan, so we soaked every detail in prayer and asked a few people close to us to do the same.  Amazingly, those people, including our moms, didn't think we were completely crazy. Well, two, possibly three people I can think of thought we were crazy. But we listened to their concerns and addressed each one.  "Is this really how You're working Lord?" I remember thinking that often and surrendering it over and over to Him. I had made a mess of things with relationships in the past and was determined to allow God to be in control of WHATEVER it was that was happening.

Take delight in the LORD,
   and He will give you the desires of your heart.
Psalm 37:4

(I have to pause to give a loving word of caution to my single friends reading: ALWAYS make sure a family member or a trusted friend is involved in the process, no matter how you meet a potential spouse. They can hold you in prayer, keep you accountable and help you notice any red flags. A lesson I learned the hard way before this point.  Ok, I'm finished. On with the rest of the story....)

Money was tight for both of us, so Chris took the initiative to make arrangements to visit me. He prayed for a plane ticket for the day before Thanksgiving for under $200. He found one for the exact dates that he needed for $198.  He flew into Maryland on a Wednesday and back to Colorado early that Saturday.

He stayed with some wonderful friends of mine, met my family and passed all initial tests. :-) Before he left for Colorado, Chris asked my parents for my hand in marriage. That went well, except for the part when my mom told him, "You're NOT taking my daughter to Colorado!"

We both just grinned.  It was a whirlwind trip to say the least, but it confirmed everything we hoped it would.

Next, it was my turn for a visit. I flew to Colorado for 19 days and stayed with a family from the church he was pastoring. I was a little nervous of the reaction I would get from his mostly older congregation. My worries were put to ease when a little old lady asked me how we met and I told her. Her response?  "How romantic!" I still love that lady!

The visit was further confirmation God was moving us toward marriage. Especially since we spent over 50 hours in his Ford Explorer driving to Texas and back and were still enjoying one another's company! We both thought the only thing left to do was wallpaper a room and we would know for sure. ;-)  (Time didn't allow for that, but God continued to give us confirmation in other ways, thankfully.)

I was able to meet most of his extended family and some of his lifelong friends and felt at home immediately. We even found wedding rings within our budget. I had decided I didn't want/need an engagement ring, but God graciously made a way for me to have one. We found the exact style of ring I had always loved for over 70% off, thanks to Chris' mom's keen eye.  Although I didn't "need" the ring, to this day it's a special reminder of God's faithfulness. During our trip to meet his brother and sister-in-law in Louisiana, they were so kind as to arrange for me to have the ring resized and it was all taken care of before I left for Maryland.


The only thing left was a proper proposal.  On our way back to Colorado Chris pulled the Explorer over to one of his favorite spots, came around to my side of the vehicle, opened my door and got down on one knee to propose. Was this really happening? 






Did I say the only thing left was a proper proposal?  Well, there was the minor detail that I had a month and a half to plan a wedding and pack up my life to move 3,000 miles away.  But other than that... 

We thought God's hand in our relationship couldn't get anymore evident. We were wrong. The ways He would provide in the days leading up to our "small family wedding" were equally overwhelming.


TO BE CONTINUED.....




Sunday, February 27, 2011

Our Story - Part 1

"So..if you were living in Maryland and he was living in Colorado, how did you meet?" The question that inevitably comes from ANYONE and EVERYONE we meet. And the question that still, eleven years later brings a grin to our faces (and a blush to one). We could just give a one sentence answer, but we both prefer the longer version, because God's hand is woven throughout it.

So, how did a girl living in a small town in Maryland end up meeting and marrying a guy living in an even smaller town in Colorado? 


  I know, I know, could it be any cheesier?  I'm not sure the site even still exists. Eleven years ago, meeting someone on-line wasn't as common as it is today, I guess you could say we were pioneers. ;-) But, it was the avenue God chose to bring 2 people living 3,000 miles apart together.  An especially large hurdle for the female part of the equation, considering the pond of legalism she was trying to swim out of. I had placed God neatly in a box and an on-line "dating" website was certainly not one of the ways He was going to bring a potential husband into the picture.  Why did I even get on the site?  I'm not sure. Except that I had just purchased my first computer and the site was having a free trial period. It seemed harmless. And besides, my sister had just told me as I celebrated my 30th birthday a month earlier, "You know now that you're 30, you have a greater chance of getting hit by a bus than getting married, right?"  Thanks Donna.  (You have to know my relationship with my sisters to really appreciate that.)

"For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord,
"plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."  
Jeremiah 29:11

We both joined the site during the "free trial period" with no intention of ever paying for a membership. We both were living in small towns and joined the site just to check it out. (ok, for me maybe a little because of the bus comment) I actually emailed Chris first because HE was safe, after all he was 3,000 miles away. (or at least that's what his profile said) It was definitely not the way either of us thought we would meet our future spouse. But God's ways are not our ways and as we soon figured out, He will use whatever means He chooses to bring two people together.

As the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are my ways higher than your ways & my thoughts than your thoughts.
Isaiah 55:9

Within just a few short days of e-mailing, chatting on-line, talking on the phone, exchanging driver license pictures and resumes (hey, I needed to know he was legit, I thought a photo id would help), we knew we needed to meet. It was obvious to me this was a man worth getting to know a little better. Especially when on the second day of even knowing I existed, he offered to call and pray with me as my mom prepared for yet another cancer related surgery. What in the world were you doing Lord? 



Yes, LORD, walking in the way of your laws,
we wait for you;
your name and renown
              are the desire of our hearts.              
Isaiah 26:8



To be continued.....

Monday, February 14, 2011

A Love Song for you....

One of these days I'll have time to actually write, for now here's a little valentine's day tune for you from the One who loves you more than anyone on earth. :-)



http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-zqYJj5ucG8

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

You Are More

Love this song from Tenth Avenue North. Just wanted to share it today.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IwtcwQwgdsA

Psalm 103:8-13
The Lord is compassionate and merciful,
      slow to get angry and filled with unfailing love.
 He will not constantly accuse us,
      nor remain angry forever.
 He does not punish us for all our sins;
      he does not deal harshly with us, as we deserve.
 For his unfailing love toward those who fear him
      is as great as the height of the heavens above the earth.
 He has removed our sins as far from us
      as the east is from the west.
 The Lord is like a father to his children,
      tender and compassionate to those who fear him.

Monday, February 7, 2011

It Depends

On Thursday of last week, I was a little caught off guard when Chris walked through the door and said, "Why is there a Depends adult diaper box on the front porch?"  After my brain processed what he said, my first thought was, "Oh no, which one of my sisters or friends sent me a very belated birthday present?" :-)


After noticing they weren't my size. ;-) and seeing the box was addressed to Hudson, I remembered we were expecting a package from Chris' dad. (He's currently helping to take care of his mom right now, which explains the box.)  Instead of dreading opening it, we couldn't wait!  One of the most precious items we've received by mail in a long time, maybe ever, was waiting inside.

Chris' mom had made Riley and Carson and their 3 cousins a special blanket. The blankets are "Aletha originals" and dearly loved by all 5. I was actually planning on making one for Hudson, so that he had one too. But praise God, Aletha had already purchased the fabric to start working on it. She just hadn't had a chance to get it started. My super thoughtful father-in-law found it and asked a lady at his church to sew it for Hudson. (All of this overwhelms me to the point of tears, of course.)  So, long story semi-short, that was what was in the box.
Chris opened it and both of us were misty eyed. It was absolutely perfect. And Hudson's reaction couldn't have been any more perfect either. "I love it!! It's so beautiful." He wrapped himself up in it immediately and called his "Pop" to thank him. I'm so thankful that she had bought the fabric, it makes it even more special that the pattern and color were what she wanted him to have. And I'm pretty sure there's a lesson in there somewhere about not putting off till tomorrow what we can do today. Meaning, I'm glad she bought the fabric. Did I already mention that?

Friday, February 4, 2011

Hudson

As I was sitting at the computer, my 3 yr. old, Hudson, comes running out of the room because he is scared of something on tv. The kiddos were watching a show about DisneyWorld and I guess one of the rides they were showing was a little too scary for him. Hudson had decided that he didn't want to go there...EVER. While we don't have plans to go in the near future, we would like to go one day. So I needed to get him over THAT idea.

He sat on my lap and I talked him through the typical stuff. We wouldn't have to go near anything that was scary, mommy and daddy would be there...yada, yada, yada. He turns around to look at me with his eyes big and a huge smile and says in his raspy wittle voice, "Heeyyyy, Daddy can kick the bad guys heads off!"

Yep, told you he's our protector.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Anonymous

Still trying to figure out this blogosphere stuff.  A few of you have mentioned you tried to leave a comment, but needed an account to do so and didn't really want to create one. (Which btw I understand COMPLETELY!)

So...I think I figured out how to enable the anonymous option for comments. It was really difficult.  It involved all 2 seconds of clicking a button. :-p

If you would like to leave a comment (hint, hint) it should now give you the option of posting one without signing into an account.  Just choose anonymous under the "Comment as" section under the comment box.

I have to admit I was beginning to feel a little vulnerable after bearing my soul to the world. I guess I've learned now to comment on every blog I visit, just in case anyone else is as insecure as I am. ;-)

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Learning to Stand - The Remix

This past Sunday afternoon, I took a little time and looked through some old journals. By old, I mean about 6 years ago.  I was amazed by the similar themes still running through my life today. I skimmed over quotes from bible studies, scriptures and my own thoughts and prayers about being steadfast, genuine, and loving with authenticity.

I was especially amazed as I paged through the journal, to see God's hand. Scriptures which have been coming to mind in the last few weeks, were there on pages dated 2005. I was reminded, yet again, of His faithfulness and thankful that He's not finished with me. ;-) Here are some thoughts from a verse that impacted me the most, it's I Peter 1:22:

"Now that you have purified yourselves by obeying the truth, so that you have sincere love for each other, love one another deeply, from the heart."

The King James Version uses the word unfeigned, so I looked it up in my good old Strong's Concordance and I LOVED what the Greek word means:

unfeigned - dissembled (without disguising intentions or motives), not concealing one's true nature, without hypocrisy

I long for my love for my family and others to look like this, but so often...OK, most of the time, it falls so short of that mark. My love, apart from God, is full of selfish, hidden motives, insecurity and a boat load of other junk. And thankfully, that doesn't surprise my God. He knows the only way my heart will ever look like that "unfeigned" definition is by, "having my heart purified by obeying the truth". OBEYING the truth. Actually doing what it says. Not in order to be saved, but BECAUSE of the great gift God has given me in Jesus. Which brings me to another scripture that I've been chewing on lately. :-) We are studying the book of James at Community Bible Study and it's been eatin' me up. Steppin' on my toes. Gettin' after me. Makin'... well, you get the picture. The biggest culprit of my uncomfortableness is James 1:22-25:

"Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.  Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like.  But whoever looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues in it—not forgetting what they have heard, but doing it—they will be blessed in what they do."

I've listened to a lot of "the word". I mean, I'm a pastor's wife for goodness sakes. I've had a front row seat hearing the word. I've looked in a mirror many times, only to go away and forget what I look like. I've read the truth about who I am "in" Jesus and experienced the freedom James talks about, only to turn around and be bombarded by who the world says I am or should be and have chosen to believe those lies, forfeiting my freedom.

The passage says "whoever looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues in it - not forgetting...".  I want to look intently at God's word, because it is the only place in my life I've ever found true freedom. I want to stand still in it and live in it. That seems to be the major struggle for me, the "continues in it - not forgetting" part. So, 6 years later I'm still trusting that this true, unfeigned love is developing in my heart a little more by His grace.

I'm hoping that my heart looks a little less like my own junkyard, scarred by hurts and offenses I've held onto and a little more like God's standard of love from
I Corinthians 13:4-7:

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

Thanks for reading - would love to hear your comments if you've stuck with my ramblings for the length of the post. ;-)