15 April 2014

Judah's story

When we think about children in poverty,  I think its easier to distance ourselves.  We imagine that other cultures are so different from our own, that we somehow believe their sorrow is different too.  But the thing is, parents love their children. Whether their homes are like ours or not, their love for their children is.  They love their kiddos just like we love our kiddos.  Poverty doesn't change that.  It just complicates it.  Watch this brief video about Judah and listen to his mother's realization:



 There are so many things that our children have access to, simply because of where they were born.  And there are so many children that do not have access for the same reason -- where they were born.  In our global society, we can change that.  I encourage you to consider sponsoring a child through Compassion International.  You'll be richly blessed, and at the same time, you'll be a part of blessing another family in ways we can't quite measure.  You might just provide another mom the opportunity to tell a story like Judah's about her own son.  Click here for more information.

12 April 2014

funners

Wilson, Walker and I ran the Cascade Hills Twilight 5k together for the first time. This was Wilson's first 5k, Walker's third, and my fifth. They have both officially ran faster 5k's than I have.  Wilson blew my first 5k time by over 10 minutes.  I'm still going to take credit for helping with their training. . .but I suspect I might be a liability for them in the speed-department.

My friend, Amber, was kind enough to snap some photos of us and emailed them to me.  WJ and I ran together for the first 3/4 of a mile or so.  He stayed home from school yesterday because he had a low-grade fever.  Brad suggested he just run nice + easy.  He agreed to it.  Until he decided he was just going to go ahead and run his best.


I LOVE the thumbs up here.  Seriously, could that dude be any cuter?


Wilson used the watch for pacing himself.  He knew he wanted to run under 28 minutes.  When we passed each other at the first turn around, he said he was running "an 8-something pace."  So proud of him. He finished in approx. 27:58 min.


He made it look pretty effortless.  When I saw him as we passed one another on the second loop, his form looked perfect.  Unfortunately, he claims it wasn't that fun and doesn't want to run the 10k next week with WJ and I.  It's the one we've been training for since January.  We're hoping he'll change his mind, but we aren't going to force him. 


Walker almost always runs negative-splits -- which means he runs faster as he goes.  He beat his last 5k time by at least 6 minutes, maybe more.  He finished last night right around 31:00 min.


I struggled.  I am choosing to blame it on the fact that I gave blood the day before, but I think it might just be in my head.   Amber's husband circled back and ran part of the last bit with me.  I took a walk break and then both Wilson + Walker came out to meet me.  They were shirtless + adorable; saying encouraging words like, "you've got this!" + "you've got more in you, mom!"  I finished around 38 minutes.  I think that might be tied with my first 5k time or might be slightly slower.

All of our finish times are our best guesses because Brad was doing a lot of chasing during the race.  He is pretty sure his back would've felt better if he had run the 5k rather than wrangled the little dudes (after bedtime, in a crowd).  Amber caught a picture of them trying to make a getaway in the golf cart by the finish line.   All you can do is laugh, right? 


My step-dad commented on facebook that "family runners = funners".  I think so for sure.

The best part about the whole thing was that this benefits the local foster care community.  There were a handful of caseworkers and other employees from the DFCS office and it was awesome to see their delight over the turn out.  A lot of folks brought donations in for the supply closet too.

So even though I didn't run a stellar race, my heart is brimming with joy over the whole thing.  God is so good, and we are so privileged to get to be a part of this church, blessing this community.

11 April 2014

five minute friday:: paint

Wow. Things are getting crazy around these parts!  Its Friday AND I'm writing my five-minute-friday post TODAY!  Yesterday, I was early to an appointment (and neither Brad nor my grandma was with me!).  What next?  

So anyway, as you know Lisa-Jo Baker invites the internets to write along with her for five minutes on Fridays.  You can read about it here, if you want to jump on board with her.

Five Minute Friday
Today's prompt is -- PAINT.

***GO***

It is sort of a hassle.

Something to cover the table.  Make sure the shirts are OK for the mess.  Track down various size paint brushes - and make sure the bristles aren't falling out all willy-nilly.  Get little cups out for water and carefully fold up a paper towel for dabbing off excess.

And let them paint.

They'll sit still for a long stretch.  Always dipping their brushes in color, then water, then slipping it across the paper.  Next color.  Then the next.  After they've swiped a little of each color, the colors start mingling.

Dipping, slipping, dripping across the paper.

Its messy.  But they are creating and they are happy about it.

I don't ever want the fear of a mess to cause me to hold back the boys' creativity.

Paint is one of those mediums that just spreads and moves so effortlessly.  Let the brush fly and the colors burst and there is almost always something beautiful in the aftermath.  Even if only to a mother's eye.

Messes happen.  But often the beauty is hard to find before the mess.  So let the mess come and watch as the beauty unfolds.  There is joy along the way, and also some learning opportunities when I take the time to listen in on my little artists.  You know, "oh look what happens when the red and blue blend together!"

Yes, its a hassle.  Sure, its a mess.

But the effort?  Its worth it.  And if I don't have artwork for my wall at the end of it, at the very least, I  have a memory to hold onto.  And so do my little creative dudes.

***STOP***

and who can write about her messy artists and not include a picture?  


good things

You guys.

This week + our God = awe.  Truly.  Here are some highlights:
  • First and foremost, a FB message from a friend Sunday night telling us her husband accepted Jesus that day!!! I still break into a wide smile every single time I think about it.  So grateful for a Savior that loves us and pursues us.  This could easily be the end of the list.  So much happy wrapped around this! {If it were possible to interject a confetti cannon into a post, this would be the spot!}
  • The response at church Saturday night and Sunday morning was really fun.  You may not know this, but Brad and I are socially awkward.  {I know a lot of you already knew.}  We are terrible at meeting new people, and are often quiet and a little stand-offish in group settings.  After the services this weekend we had to stand at the info table and we shook so many hands and shared so many stories.  We both talked to different people most of the time.  I think each of us had at least a couple prayers whispered into our ears.  We held hands with folks that held back tears.  We conspired about the BIG things God is doing in our community.  We weren't even a little bit awkward.  We were just doing what we were supposed to be doing. 
    • Here's a great new album for the kiddos. {Click here}.  This is music geared for kids, but it doesn't make you feel like your ears are bleeding.  If the songs get stuck in your head, you won't be annoyed you'll be encouraged!  Winning! Funny story, a couple weeks ago I had a lyric stuck in my head.  I thought it must've been a song we sang at church or at PWOC that week.  I googled, "for our God is faithful, He can move mountains."  But I kept coming up with the wrong song.  Yesterday we were listening to this album and when we got back in the car that lyric played.  Its from the song "Mustard Seed."  
    • I'm reading a really good book.  It's actually kind of two books in one.  You start at one side, reading a narrative about some kiddos for a week.  After that you flip it over and read some principles about love over time.  Its written for anybody who will do anything with a kid or teenager this week.   Here's a quote I adore:
    Our attraction to immediate results can keep us so busy we never engage in work that has lasting impact.  We get so pre-occupied with what we can measure, we don't give attention to what we can't measure.  -Reggie Joiner, Playing for Keeps


    • We've been sorting through our house a bit over the last few weeks in varying degrees of urgency.  The fun part about this is uncovering forgotten things.  I am a note-jotter, scrap-of-paper-chicken-scratcher.  I have an uncountable number of notebooks stashed away -- with haphazard tidbits written sideways across lines and sprinkled randomly thoughout the pages.  I found this in one of them.  Sometimes I'm glad I'm a notebook-hoarder. 


    What are some good things you've noticed in your week?

    07 April 2014

    that time Brad spoke at church

    My thoughts are still swirling about Brad speaking with our Pastor at church this weekend.


    I think I either had a dreamy-smile on my face or I was wiping  away tears throughout all three services.

    Yes, because I love that man that was up there.

    But even more so because I love our Father who called that man up there.  And hearing the story this way, just captivated me all over again.

    I wish I could say that I have been 100% on the same page every step of this journey.  There were times that Brad would tell me something and I just thought, "Well that seems a little unrealistic."  When he told me he walked around the church 7 times praying circles?  I don't remember exactly what I said, but I know for sure I didn't say, "Wow! that was a super idea!"

    As God started opening doors -- by opening hearts for these foster-care-kiddos -- He opened my heart too.  I began to grasp that Brad's passion for children-in-crisis was placed there by God, and I surely didn't want to get in the way of that.  Sometime in the fall, God and I had a distinct heart to heart about our circumstances.  I was praying over something very specific + time sensitive asking, "God please work out the details."

    Not a moment went by and I felt the impression that He replied, "I already have. Pray that your eyes would be open to how I have worked them out."

    It was a bit of an "ouch!" but it quickly faded into a smile, because, of course, God.  And also? These specific details would have to be worked out within 24 hours anyway.  So I felt that sense of God confirming things.  However, He added one more thing.

    "Same with Brad's next job."

    Wait, what?  We had no idea when his final-out date would be at that point.  This was going to be a lot more waiting with a much bigger question mark at the end.  My response was considerably more stoic and a lot less warm + fuzzy.  But I treasured the moment. 

    Since then, I have repeatedly prayed about Brad's next job, reminding myself (and if I'm honest, reminding God) that He has already worked out the details.  Begging Him that my eyes would be open to how He has worked them out.

    Meanwhile, God has been blowing us away at every step.  We still do not have a definite plan for housing or employment; but I have no fear.  I promise that is only God.

    Honestly, I feel like if I added a list of the things God has revealed to us in the last couple weeks it would sound like bragging.  I mean really.  God has been over-the-top in little + big ways reminding me that He knows every detail.  Well.

    Brad speaking at church yesterday was just a moment to take in God's glory.  Brad has never had the goal of speaking.  He never hoped to be on stage.  He just followed God's lead.  If a door was in front of him, He knocked  + prayed + waited until God opened it.  Then he walked through the door with confidence because he knew Who opened it.  It has been so amazing to watch.  And fun!

    My husband, the recently-medically-retired-E5-Army-medic, spoke at the biggest church in Columbus, Georgia yesterday.  Only God makes that sort of thing happen.

    He has big plans and it is such a humbling honor to be a part of this work.

    If you want to see a bit of our story and hear about how our church is stepping in to care for our foster care community, you can watch the video here.

    05 April 2014

    five minute friday :: writer

    guess what?  it's five-minute friday again.  On Saturday!


    Five Minute Friday

    Click here if you are interested in linking up with others that pushing themselves to get their words out.  Lisa- Jo Baker is the best sort of encourager out there!

    This week's prompt :: writer  {I know, right?}

    *** GO ***

    There is a stigma with some titles.  Others, I'll slap them on myself easily. 

    Mother?  Sure, got the kids to prove it.
    Teacher?  You betcha!  At one time I even had a sweater-vest with apples appliqued on it. 
    Cheerleader?  If I'm wearing the uniform, I'll claim it :)

    But writer?  That's a weird one.  It feels awkward and clumsy and not quite right to put by my own name.

    Not unlike, runner.  That's another title I struggle to associate with myself.  I feel as awkward as can be at the running store for "real runners."  I'm sure the "real runners" on the trail note my newbie-ness and graceless form.

    But you know what?  It feels good when I run.  I might not really feel like going for a run while I'm lacing up my shoes.  I often huff and puff and turn beet-red while my feet pound the pavement in a thumping rhythm. But it always feels good when I finish a run.  Even if I don't call myself a runner.

    I think the same is true with the writing.  It feels good when I write.  I might put it off.  I might feel like its a silly thing to "make time" for, but it feels good when I get the words out -- the words I've carried around for a day or a week or longer.  It always feels good when I finish something I've written.  Even if I don't plan to publish it, it feels right.  Even if I don't call myself a writer.

    So I'll just keep on doing it.  Whether I'll allow myself to be associated with the title or not. 

    *** STOP ***

    01 April 2014

    Surprised By Motherhood

    This is my 1053rd blog post.  Crazy, right?  We started this thing as a way to keep in touch with family and post news and updates about our day-to-day happenings.

    And then facebook.

    But I keep blogging just because jotting down my thoughts is an excellent way for me to process the world around me.  Along the way, I've "met" other women online via blogging.  Its certainly been more one-sided, in that they have invited me in to their space and let me take in their words.  There are a handful of online voices that breathe encouragement into my heart every time I read them.

    Lisa-Jo Baker is one of those voices.  She has this beautiful way of gathering up all-the-mommas and encouraging on a soul-level.  She speaks Truth with the best kind of love.  She never separates momming into the common mommy-war lines, rather she gathers and unites with her words.

    It is a gift.

    Especially in a world where a momma can post a status update about her toddler playing at the McDonald's playground -- and instantly get comments about how nasty the food is, how disgusting the playground is, and how much better it is for a child to play in a free-range forest.  Or some such.

    There is a whole lot of clamoring about how to do this mothering thing correctly.  Lots of finger pointing and judging and beating-someone-else-up-while-defending-my-own-insecure-decisions.

    It can be exhausting.

    And then Lisa-Jo's book Surprised By Motherhood.


    Not only does she eloquently tell the story of her journey into motherhood, she weaves our stories into her own.  Its not all rainbows and glitter, yet the honesty is refreshing and uplifting.  Its the glory of this work we get to do, and the weight of doing it among diapers and tantrums and he's-looking-out-my-window-mini-van-fights.

    If I could buy a copy for all my sisters and all my moms I would.  {But again with the whole getting-out-of-the-Army-needing-a-job thing}.  I've read the first three chapters and I cannot wait to read the rest.  I know it will be a blessing to so many mommas, and daughters, out there.

    You can read the first three chapters for free by clicking here. {Just click on the "free chapters" download.}

    The book releases today!  If you can't go buy it today, put it on your "Mother's Day List".  I know that a "Mother's Day List" is mostly fictional, but you can drop a hint sister.

    Also, I'm going to give away one copy of the book.  If you are interested in winning it, leave me a comment and tell me if the book trailer made you cry.  I'll do a random drawing tonight after bedtime.  Since its Spring Break, I'm going to guess that will be after 9pm here. {We cray-cray Spring Breakers up in here!}

    28 March 2014

    five minute friday :: mighty

     It's five minute friday again.  Here are my five minutes of words.  Click here if you'd like to join in with Lisa-Jo and her five minute friday community.

    Five Minute Friday 
    Start:

    I am a thinker of thoughts.  When something happens I think about it a lot.

    I'm praying for a dear friend this week.  She is in her 20th week of pregnancy.  She lost her previous two children at 19 weeks and 21 weeks.  I can barely wrap my thoughts around this.  How her heart longs to hope while also wonders if hoping is wise.  I pray that God is present in mighty ways, that He shows Himself to be mighty in the middle of these difficult moments.

    I'm praying for Alyssa, too.  Continually.  She bravely keeps breathing each day.  Moment by moment she lives.  I can barely comprehend the weight of her hurt.  I know nothing else to do but share His words with her and pray for her so often.  So I beg our Mighty God to be near, to hold close, to carry through.  I beg Him to show a glimpse of His mighty glory and believe Him to give her enough wisdom, peace, strength, and courage to walk one more step, each day.

    I'm praying for children in foster care, for the ones that are far away from the birth families through no fault of their own.  I pray that God would lean in to their lives and wrap His mighty arms around them.  I pray that He would rise up believers to not only love this children, but to stand in the mess and love their families too.  I am praying that He would lend His mighty power to the ones He calls so they can stand firm in the hard places.

    Our world is broken.  Hurt abounds.  The weight of the hurt can sometimes feel too heavy, too much, too overwhelming.

    While I am thinking all the thoughts, all I know to do is call out to the One who is Mighty.

    [Stop!]

    "Now glory be to God, who by his mighty power at work within us is able to do far more than we would ever dare to ask or even dream of—infinitely beyond our highest prayers, desires, thoughts, or hopes."  Ephesians 3:20 (Living Bible)