Category Archives: My Kids Rock

The necklace

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During the after school hustle yesterday my daughter brought me a necklace. In it’s present condition however, it looked more like a metallic ball of yarn than a piece of jewelry. It was twisted and matted together tightly but I remembered what it looked like before. I took a look at the clump of chain links and charms she placed in my hand and listened as she requested I “fix it.”

As I began the task I had carried out many times with many different childhood objects over the years, I quickly realized this was going to be way more involved than I had the time or attention to give at that moment. I explained to my daughter that I wasn’t going to be able to complete the task in time for her to wear it that evening and her heart began to pour out. She pleaded with me to “fix it” because the necklace was her favorite and it was ever so important to her. I could tell by the look in her eyes, this one mattered. I promised I would try again later, set it on my dresser and went on with our evening activities.

As I passed the necklace in approach of my bed for the night, I decided to pick it up and try again. For over an hour I wove the chain over, under, around and through but still could not “fix” the necklace. It seemed hopeless.

But something in me confirmed it was important so I placed it on my nightstand, turned off the light and went to sleep. All day, my eyes would catch glimpses of the necklace as I passed through the room and it practically called out to me from its position on the nightstand. Finally I sat down next to it and began to unravel the chain again.

As I did, this time, I heard the voice of Jesus:

“See what I am doing.” He invited. “I am working. When no one is watching, when no one is expecting and when no one knows even where to look … I am at work. I am untangling. I am restoring. I am moving. Trust me. It looks like a mess, I know, but it is important work. Don’t quit. It matters. Rest. Trust. I am at work here.”

As the way of untying the last knot became clear and the last link of chain loosed, the necklace unfolded and indeed, it WAS special to behold its designed form taking shape once again.

During this Advent season remember, He IS working. It looks like a mess, it looks hopeless, but the untangling has begun and when He is finished, only beauty remains.

We welcome your presence Jesus. Come, Oh Come, Emmanuel. Do your work in our lives. Amen.

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No more petting

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I have a jacket that is crazy soft and so comfy. Literally it feels like a warm blanket with arm holes but WAY better than a Snuggy. I LOVE this jacket. When I wear it around the house it is inevitable that my family will reach out and touch it. Once they do, they fall in love and find it hard to stop petting it. They love how it feels so much, when I am out of town they have been know to ask if they can sleep with it!

I also have a teal pillow on my over sized chair in the living room that if you ever visit my house, I will force you to touch. I am slightly embarrassed that I even spent $30 on a pillow but making people touch it helps me feel better about the indulgence b/c once they do, they will understand. Its life-changing.

Im telling you all of this to emphasize from the get go: I am a lover of all things soft. I too process feelings through the art of touch. In fact, my secondary love language is physical touch so if you’ve been around me you know I, like Olaf, love a good warm hug. Touch in and of itself is a beautiful way to connect with another human being.

But there are times when it would be most appropriate to ask permission to touch someone or something. For example, when I was pregnant, it took a little getting used to how people would approach my belly like a separate piece of my body and start petting it and talking to it. Some people don’t think twice but I would prefer it when people took my feelings into consideration and asked first.  Or if someone was walking with their dog, isn’t it common knowledge by now that you should always ask the owner IF you can pet the animal BEFORE reaching down your hand to do so? It just makes sense.

So here is the rub for me and I will say it as nicely and as plainly as I can…

Please stop petting my daughter.

I know Jaydn has beautifully soft skin (I do too- shameless plug for Rodan+Fields). But a smooth skin texture does not warrant the same form of touch as my comfy jacket or life-changing pillow does. It also doesn’t equate to how you would approach touch for a pregnant belly or an animal.

Think about this a little … Let’s say you give me a hug and notice that my skin is really soft (it is thanks to Rodan+Fields). I don’t know anyone who would spend the next 5-10 minutes rubbing their hand up and down my arm while we carried on in conversation. Yet that has happened on multiple occasions to my daughter.

Why?

Of course I have my speculations but I won’t project them onto anyone else unfairly. So for now I will just challenge YOU to ask yourself the question WHY? Is that appropriate? Would it be socially acceptable in any other circumstance? I am relatively sure you will conclude that it’s not

It seems preposterous to many that I am even having to address this issue but you have NO IDEA how often this comes up in regards to my daughter.

If you’d like to know where I got my jacket or pillow, I will be happy to pass along that information. I will even lend you one of my many soft blankets and let you pet my dog if you need to but my daughter is a different story entirely. So please, no more petting.

 

Why me?

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I often ask this question. Not to anyone specific but in my head. To life in general. Ultimately my soul questions The Craftsman. “Is this what you intended? Was this what you had in mind when you made me? Are you sure I’m built for this?”

The question could be a symbol of gratitude. Why me? Why do I have a marriage that is lasting? Why do I have kids that are a blessing to not just me but others? Why do I have a community no matter where I am in my, seemingly endless, metamorphosis?

More often, the question indicates anger. Why me? Why did the bottom drop out as a result of someone else’s choice? Why couldn’t I be a child when I was a child? Why do I have to watch and walk through so much death, destruction and disappointment?

Why me? Its a universal question.

The temptation is to hide the question when it hurts. To band-aid it with false mantras. Why NOT me. Pretending the sting isn’t real and convincing others it’s ok and I will be fine. That may be true. Its not yet.

For now, the ache is debilitating. It’s silence, deafening. The question is heavy and it’s ok to buckle under the weight of it.

I don’t wish it away anymore. It reminds me. Broken places that point to truth: I am not in control. The good and the hard alike, happen. They happen to me. They happen to everyone.

Why me often leads to me too.

My favorite phrase of all time. The perfect balm for any heart. Me too. You are not alone. I’ve been there. Its not exact. No cookie cutters. Not a mirror image. Only, I’ve walked a road near yours and Im here now.

Oh the saving grace of that knowing.

It doesn’t change anything but you. The struggle continues but deep down you know you will sing again. Rise up because someone showed you you could. Take what you have been dealt and continuing to play. You walk with a limp now so I will slow down my pace.

Follow the path that “Why me?” travels down. Let it lead you. May you find your resting place in the comforting arms of, “Me too!”

Mom Life

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There is a lot of shame wrapped up in being a mother. Everywhere you go, or even online, you are comparing yourself to the other moms and even if you weren’t, the general public is VERY outspoken about their opinions of how you do things as a mother. Its as if there is a RIGHT way to do it and anything that diverges, even slightly, from that way makes the way you do it wrong. Makes YOU (as the mother) wrong. Its a very critical place to spend most of your time and energy. Plus the rugrats you are exerting all that time, attention, energy and love for don’t exactly give you the affirmation you are needing along the way. It doesn’t matter what you do, at least once a day you disappoint someone. More often than not, we disappoint ourselves. We thought we’d be different. We thought we’d be “better” (whatever that means).

I have been a mother for almost 11 years now so it has reached across two age seasons for me- my 20’s and 30’s. While I am more secure in who I am in my 30’s than I was in my 20’s, the difficulties of being a mother remain the same. I am now in that place where I don’t want to sit on the floor and play blocks/puzzles/cars/trains/etc anymore. Ive been doing it so long I feel like Ive served my time and I want to move on with my life. But all day long I push swings and blow bubbles and cheer over every silly face and jump off the couch because my kids need that affirmation from me. The affirmation I need and desire, I give. Imagine if the tables were turned and every time I washed a plate or folded the laundry or picked up the play room for the 17th time my kids applauded and cheered. It would either be really rewarding or uber cheesy. Even still I think I would like it, if only for a little while. But thats not my life. Thats not a mother’s life. Scripture says that one day my children will call be blessed (Proverbs 31:28) so I cling to that promise, but today is not that day.

The thing that boggles my mind is that there is still a stigma out there for women who don’t feel like they were born to be mothers. While I have always been a nurturing person that loved kids, it was never a plan of mine to become a mom, or a wife for that matter. (I can hear the gasps from here!!) Yet, here I am, being both on a daily basis! I don’t think Im a mom or wife because I am a women and that is what I am “supposed” to do. What I do believe is that this is the path God had for me (specifically) to be totally stretched beyond my abilities and strengths. Being a mom and wife are the two main ways I have been challenged to grow. Had I ended up living in a hut in Uganda like I planned, single and childless, I would be way more comfortable right now. But God isn’t as concerned with my comfort as He is my character. Being a mom (and wife) builds the crap out of my character. I am challenged daily to love beyond my resources which presses me into the depths of the One who loves me, and them, most of all.

My kids know I love them. They also know that I have dreams of doing other things with my time and energy. Until then, I will play blocks/puzzles/cars/trains etc on the floor and applaud their every move. Because deep down I know, God sees each dish I wash, each swing I push, and each meal I prepare and He is cheering me on.

I may not be the kind of mother you were or are, but I am a mother and one day my children will rise up and call me blessed. I will cling to that for now.

The Garden

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The Garden:

I dreamt of a life

in straight little rows

where I could meander

and dirty my toes.

It was planted with order

and tended with plans

but as it grew larger

it got out of hand.

Though the life I am living

is shabby at best,

my garden is growing

north, south, east and west.

Each root has dug deeper

each bud toward the sun,

and soon I had realized

true life had begun.

Its not in neat corners

or making much sense,

but it’s ever so special

this big flowery mess.

Though the flora grow sideways

and rows go unseen,

Im surrounded by beauty

like that in a dream.

My life is a garden

full of color and scent

its wild and free

and some branches are bent.

But I love this sweet place

and I rest in its glory

and humbly accept

how Gods woven the story.

It takes a village

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There’s an old saying, “It takes a village to raise a child.” I thought I knew what that mean’t: friends watching your kid once in awhile or teaching them from their wisdom. But it wasn’t until we brought Jaydn home that my understanding of the phrase began. And now after Lyrick has joined us, it has become a very deep rooted truth for my family.

When Jay came home from Uganda it was a rough transition. I will spare you the details but lets just say it wasn’t the romantic “welcome home” life I imagined from other adoption stories I had seen or heard. I was desperate for help. I didn’t know where to turn when I needed a break or wanted to vent. I am not educated in the ways of child development and could not assess what Jaydn needed most. I couldn’t figure out how to meet her high demands while maintaining the health of the rest of our family, let alone myself! There were plenty of opinions being thrown at me but no hands offering to help carry them out. And with three kids at home, a ministry and a priority marriage, my hands were full! Im not saying it was anyone else’s responsibility to care for my family but I could have used a reprieve from the front lines from time to time or just someone to clean my bathrooms. All that life had for me weighed heavy and I ended up experiencing Post Adoption Depression Syndrome. Its a lot like Postpartum but its after you adopt rather than give birth to a child. My depression was deep and it was dark. I had never felt so alone, helpless, or scared. Thankfully I had Christ and I had my husband. Together they worked tirelessly to keep me getting out of bed in the morning to try again another day. Eventually I could motivate myself and I started to manage. About that time my mom and stepdad moved to where we lived and became the hands that I so desperately needed to help me fulfill what God had called me to be and do in regards to my children. It wasn’t easier, but the load was lighter and I was grateful for their sacrificial willingness to help. That’s family.

When I found out Lyrick was on his way I panicked. Like Jim Gaffigan jokes in his stand up routine, “Having 4 children is like you’re drowning and someone throws you a baby.” How in the world was I going to pour my heart and soul into another one? I barely had enough energy to muster up each day for the three! During my pregnancy Nathan took a new ministry position and we moved to FL. Even before we arrived we had people lavishly serving our family. They painted our rental house, set up a schedule for meals to be brought to us each night, and when our furniture didn’t arrive on time they gathered air mattresses and a card table and linens etc for us to survive in our house for over a week without our stuff! It was amazing. Once school started and the three kids were gone for most of the day I could turn my attention to our coming addition. I rearranged rooms, bought some stuff off craigs list and online groups, put together the crib we had thankfully not gotten rid of etc. Other than the staples though, we had nothing for the baby. We started having people give us swings, strollers, car seats, bouncy chairs, a boppy, toys, clothes, you name it! It wasn’t the stuff you would find in a yard sale either- it was all really nice! I even borrowed all of the maternity clothing I wore throughout my pregnancy! Then these gracious people threw me 2 baby showers where I got even more great baby stuff. You don’t usually get a baby shower for your 4th child let alone two of them! I was set up for a great start with this little one. After he was born we had people bringing us dinner at night so I didn’t have to cook and even bringing me Subway or a quinoa salad coupled with a friendly visit for lunch when I was isolated at home with a new baby.  It was such a warm feeling. Then Lyrick started to have some complications. I was driving to and from Dr. appointments and hospitals for tests and treatments and our friends were praying and helping the entire time. People were picking up our big kids from school or coming over to babysit so Nathan could be with me sometimes, bringing meals to my house for my family while I was at the hospital, and bringing me Starbucks and Chipotle as I sat in the hospital with my sick newborn. I can’t even list all of the millions of ways people have helped me but I can say it has been completely humbling!

The extent of help I’ve received since moving even reaches into the areas of educational support for Jaydn. She started preschool this Fall and with the help of our teacher friends and the school board, we have been able to get her the resources and assistance she needs to help bridge the gap between her self defense strategies and what she needs to thrive in a family and peer environment. She has made noticeable strides in speech and social awareness. We meet periodically with a panel of people that work with her to discuss progress and problem areas as well as what our goals should be and what kind of placement she will have in the future. Nathan and I feel so vindicated hearing people who can help, talk about the areas that need work that we have observed and experienced with her but could not articulate well or get support for.

Now the saying about “a village” has a whole new meaning to me. A village is a community of people working together for the good of one another. Its Christians being the Church at an individual level. Its seeing a need and filling it, not just when its convenient but always. Its knowing what it feels like to be overwhelmed and alone and making sure the ones around you don’t have to feel that way unnecessarily. Its living within 2 hours of family and them being able to come to birthdays and football games. Its holding a person’s baby so she can sing in the church services that weekend. Its coming over unannounced, not caring if your friend smells like spit up & poop and is still in their pjs at 2pm. Its offering to clean someone’s house. Its bringing big kids home from school or taking them to church each Sunday so mom can feed her new son instead of driving around town with a hungry, crying baby. Its coming over to help a mom struggling to breast feed her baby even though you just got off from a long shift at the hospital and could really use some sleep instead. Its buying fishing poles for your friend’s kids and taking them out to the lake behind your house to teach them how to fish. It’s coming over to help move furniture. Its making a family crafty items to decorate their house with because mom simply doesn’t have time to fulfill her Pinterest dreams. Its praying with and for a family as they journey along life’s road. Being a village member is a long list of ways you just do life with someone and treat them the way you want to be treated.

So if the saying goes, “It takes a village to raise a child,” then my village is stacked because it’s helping me raise 4. Thank you for being a part of my village. I couldn’t do this without you guys.

Making God famous

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Currently our church, Woodland Community, is doing a series called “What’s Your Story?” It started right about the time my husband Nathan arrived on the scene as the new worship pastor. So a few weeks ago they decided to kill two birds with one stone by not only introducing Nathan to the congregation as the new music minister but also interview him about his life story and testimony. Although Nathan was a little leery to be talking about himself so much in a church service, it helped people connect to him and not just his musical leadership. Because we have three services, one on Saturday nights and two on Sunday, I decided to watch the first service online- even though I would see it in person the next day. So 5′ o clock rolled around and the kids and I gathered around my laptop to watch daddy tell his story.

Some of you already know this but for those of you who may not, a part of my husband’s story is being in the Christian music industry. He was part of a group called True Vibe that recorded two albums, toured the world, were nominated for a Grammy, were on Making the Video on MTV, walked red carpets- you name it! It was a very successful though short stint in the world of celebrities.

During the church service they talked about Nathan’s music career and even played the “Behind the Music” parody video we did about his life in the spotlight. This transitioned the interview into how Nathan got into local church ministry and pastoring.

Afterward Jaxon asked me, “Mommy, why isn’t daddy famous anymore? I wish he was still famous.” I had to chuckle. “Being famous isn’t important to him baby,” I responded. Then there was a weighted silence between us for a few minutes until Jaxon pierced it by saying, “Now daddy makes God famous.” I could have wept at the wisdom and truth of my son’s statement. “Yes, Jax, Daddy works to make God famous. That is more important.”

I love being in ministry and being a pastors wife. Its a responsibility, yes, but its also a privilege. There was a time when people discouraged Nathan and I from entering into church ministry and there have been times along the way when the circumstances around us would have been excuse enough to leave it. But none of those things have, or will, shake our resolve that we were put on this earth to “make God famous.” We know that, and apparently our son does too.