I have to say, that although I am being stretched spiritually right now I am so excited at what God has in store. He is putting big things on my heart for riverKIDS, He is showing me new things about myself (how incredibly selfish and yucky I can be) and He is revealing more to me about his love than I have ever understood or fathomed. So with that being said, I think I'm doing all right.
I met with our senior pastor's wife Miss L.... she has an incredible blog and she has been very inspirational to me in my walk with the Lord. But we had coffee the other day. Miss L has loads of kids a HUGE heart for the orphan and a passion to see all of the orphans all over the world experience the love of family. And let me tell you, when I say passionate, she is passionate. It is one of the things I most admire her for. That she makes no apologies for what God is showing her, she is so obedient to Him. Anyway, she has adopted children from Africa, Korea and China, she has also adopted here in the United states and has 10 kids! I don't know how she did it, has done it or continues to do it, but she does. It's a wonderful gift God has given her to have a heart for orphans and to tell the world. When she adopted I from China... God moved mightily in my heart for Him. I never grew in my spiritual walk as much as I did when I was praying on behalf of Isaiah. God gave me my prayer language, I saw his amazing power and love for this orphan and God literally changed the mind of the Chinese government to provide Isaiah a home her in the United States and a family and we are blessed to see him every Sunday.
Anyway, L had been in Uganda in April, she took a team of women there. She has been to orphanages in China. And when I hear her heart for the orphan, it dawned on me. I have NO CLUE what she has seen, what little ones have looked into her eyes. What despair she has witness, what joy she has seen in the midst of devastation. What sadness she has seen in the hearts of little children. I have never been there, I have no clue. I don't think the majority of Americans realize how bad it is in other countries like Africa... and even China for children.
One of my favorite things to do in riverKIDS is to sit with the babies and toddlers and to say the name "Jesus." I love to see the expression on their faces, I love to watch their eyes light up waiting for me to tell them more. Watching them look at me wanting me to say the rest... "loves you." There are millions of kids all over the world who have never heard those words. Who cannot fathom love because they don't have a parent to love them. When L walks into a Chinese orphanage and 30 kids surround her all looking at her like they want to be loved by her... it stamps something on your heart as a Mom. When L walks into the Chinese orphanage to see 60 cribs in one room with many toddlers basic needs being taken care of but hardly any human contact (snuggles, hugs, etc) it leaves a mark on your heart. When L walks down the streets of Uganda and there are street kids living hour by hour for their next morsel of food.... it leaves a stamp on your heart.
And we are here, in the USA with SO much. I have caught myself looking at my home and wanting more, needing a bigger tv, a better couch, bigger home. Desiring my life to look like something out of a Pottery Barn catalog. When in other countries there are kiddos out there who just need a place to lay their head and whispered to them they are loved. Hmmmmm.... what's more important to God? My pretty house or what I have done for "the least of these?"
I'm praying about going to Uganda in the Fall. I told Linn that I am not afraid of going there, but afraid of how going there will effect me. What will my spirit do? Will I ache to take a child back with me? I'm kind of a "no holes barred" kind of chick. My poor husband, but when I get something in my brain... I'm a little headstrong at moving forward with it. But what will God show me? What will he call me to do when I know what I know. Who knows... but I'm excited about it. I'm excited to move in what he wants for me. I'm excited to have my perspective changed and I am thankful for Miss L and her passion for what God has called her to tell people.
I only posted some Josie pics for my friend Carie to see. I have been a slacker on Blogspot. Check out Miss L's blog here...
I've had it. I've had some kind of weird breakthrought that a 39.5 year old woman has. God has been stirring my heart in so many ways lately. So totally crystal clear. I've been listening. I'm on the brink of something big. I can just feel it. I'm not sure if it's a personal breakthrough or a ministry breakthrough or what. But I am starting to have some clarity in areas I have been blind to for years.
I am a 39 year old woman with three children and a husband and I happen to be employed at a church. But my problems are the same as everyone elses, my struggles are real.
I think part of this breakthrough is that I am just "beginning" to understand what it looks like to "love" myself. Does that make sense? I think as Moms we get SO caught up in everyone around us. Our husbands, our kids, our friends, our family, our work, etc. etc. That we lose sight of ourselves. Not in a selfish "do everything for me" kind of way but in a way that honors our feelings, our thoughts our perspectives our hearts. All of it.
I've been struggling with not feeling very healthy and frankly I have gained lots o weight in the past two years. Working full time and finding the time to work out with a family of 5 has been a challenge. I've been stressed so the "eating" part is how I've coped. (let me tell you how wonderful it feels to down a large fry at McDonalds....) But alas as you all know that kind of behavior while delicious for the moment is fleeting. Because it lasts mere seconds.
Today I was at my crazy insane workout class. Led by my 22 year old trainer named Corey. Corey was a body builder and has mad skills with working out. I was in class today and started crying... literally tears rolling down my face. You see, while I was working out I was praying and asking God to give me a verse that would and could sustain me. I was in the middle of ten thousand mountain climbers and squat jumping jacks and I heard... " You are my daughter with whom I am well pleased..." It is my slogan for the year. To believe and know that I He is pleased with me. To begin to understand HIS love so I can love myself and pursue a healthier lifestyle. This will filter into my family being healthy, my husband being healthy and me being healthy.
So there you have it. He is pleased with me. So I am pleased and choose to begin to love myself. I'm so excited to see how this plays out. I know I haven't blogged much lately but I will for sure keep you posted.
(my picture for Cari...to keep J occupied with cans... love it)
This song has resonated with me lately. For me following Christ has been the most amazing journey I have EVER embarked on. God is bringing me some realizations about some of the pain of my past. What it was, how it impacted me then and how it trickles into my present. When I deal with kids in the youth group and in chidren's ministry it is overwhelming to me. It is overwhelming because I don't think we realize how sensitive and fragile the heart of a child is. When the kids tell me about how their parents degrade them, yell at them, tell them they are worthless, my heart nearly bursts out of my chest. When they tell me that their parent barely talks to them and ignores them emotionally... I'm stunned. When they tell me how they are "taking care of" their parents every day emotionally and physically. I seriously can barely breathe. I have had this overwhelming sense recently as kids have began to trust me more with thier stuff... but here's the deal - I am so overwhelmed because I am RIGHT THERE WITH THEM. I am 40 years old and realizing I don't know how to process how I was treated as a child. I don't know what healthy parent/child boundaries look like. Kevin, our youth pastor talks a lot about breaking out of cycles of the things our parents and generations before us have been wrapped up in. That is where I am. In order not to repeat some of the same things my family has seen for generations,(emotional, physical abuse.) I must press into the Almighty God who created me and break all that yuck that has surrounded my life. And break it for my children's sake. Because of some of the emotional abuse I experienced in my life I have a very hard time with boundaries. The boundaries of what is and is NOT my responsibility in my relationships. The boundaries of what intimacy and real love look like. The boundaries of what a healthy parent/child relationship looks like. What a healthy marriage looks like.
Being in ministry my world is about relationships. My world is about calling upon an Almighty God to help people in their own discovery of pain and path and needing Jesus. I know now that all I am experiencing and feeling and carrying is my own inability to truly hand people over to God. My own perception is that somehow some way I am responsible, included and needed to make it better. I am loved more if I help. I am accepted more if I can "take it from you" and make your progress for you. I can't fathom God doing it without my help, my insight, my hand in it. My perception is that He needs me... not that I NEED HIM.
So... as with all things when God gives me clarity. I press in. I research, I gain wisdom and counsel. I am doing that. He has brought me to this place of a deeper understanding of myself and my pain so HE can do the work.
I am on a path to understanding what it means to love others AND MYSELF in a healthy way that God wants for my life and the life of my family. I look forward to what's next. It is scary to admit I need this kind of help. It is hard to change old patterns and ways of thinking, but I know that I know... He will see me through, every single step of the way.
So, I think I've figured out my angst. I've been so EMO lately. I don't like it, I don't understand it and I can't really predict it. I am truly in the most unchartered season of my life. But I think it is a combination of some very big things happening in my family. Growing from 2 to 3 is a challenge, but what was bothering me is that I don't remember the season being "this long" or this hard." But I think one of the toughest things I am challenged with right now is that both of my big kids are enrolled in school. I did not realize how "big" of a job it is to have my kids in school. The amount of support kids need when they are in preschool seems miniscule compared to what happens with all of the variables of when they venture into the public school system. My kids have been pretty sheltered. I have to admit it, We lived in a pretty secluded place in the valley. Not a neighborhood where kids ventured off to their friends homes. My kids played with each other and their friends from church. That's about it. And when we do things as a family we usually do them with other people in the church. The same friends who operate similar to us. They have similar parenting techniques, we agree on some of the same basics. But now, my kids are being influenced by other people. People who don't believe what I believe. Kids who's parents do not teach them the same things I teach them. My kids LOVE their school. Their teachers are great. But I am learning that I have to trust God in this process. These teachers are amazing, they tell me things I never noticed about my kids. They tell me other strengths that are blooming out of them, they point out areas of struggle and partner with me to support my kids. But I HAVE TO be paying attention. It would be very easy to put my kids in school and just have the mentality that the school will do the rest. But I have to ask questions, of my kids and the teachers, I have to be listening, attend meetings, participate and mostly support. I have to watch relationships, make appointments and stand my ground in some scenarios. It is a big job, but one I know is worth it. God did not call me to keep my kids home with me. I know that I am certain having them in the school district now is what he would have me do. But I have this sense of responsibility to support and love the staff and teachers who are investing in my kids. They are good people who want the same things I do for my child. My job is not to critique or criticize HOW they do it, but as a parent to support them while they are doing it.
I take my kids seriously. My family is my number one priority. So I guess I didn't realize how much I would need to invest, sacrifice and contribute to support my kids while they were in school. I didn't realize how having less control over their lives was going to impact me. My kids sometimes have to learn lessons without me hovering over them. They have to fail and face consequences that were not my consequences. They have to succeed and do it on their own. I love my kiddos no matter what they do. It is the kind of love I am beginning to understand, the kind of love I want them to know and the kind of love that will sustain them through their lifetime.
Funny story about Toby:
Today Toby told me that two boys were fighting at recess. They were at a quiet table in the lunch room. Toby walked up to them and told them it was all going to be OK if they have "God in their heart." That "God would help them if they asked him to help." He made the boys promise to be nice to one another and made them shake on it. My son Toby has had HIMSELF in a world of trouble these past couple of weeks... and we have been praying together A LOT. So it warmed my heart when he told me he was ministering to his friends the words I spoke to HIM this week.
So, although I have been a little challenged, frustrated and EMO. I thank you for listening. I thank you for your grace and I pray that God just continues to show me how faithful and loving he is. I can do ALL THINGS through Christ who strengthens me. right?
So, I am writing this not as a complaint, mostly as a memo, a pondering a point of view. I have been irritated lately. And I have been in a lot of prayer. I have been seeking God, listening and asking Him for guidance. I haven't felt any of the fruits of the spirit. My flesh has been weak. And by weak I mean... crabby, tired, selfish, whiney the list could go on and on. And believe me, I don't like it when I feel this way. Here's the thing and on top of just plain feeling yucky... I've felt GUILTY about feeling yucky. So on top of feeling like I am a gross, tired, yucky, angry, impatient child of God... I was starting to feel really BAD about myself and the fact I could not snap out of it.
Now, MANY factors are feeding into my inability to be spiritually at peace. My pace is so fast. And to be perfectly honest I am still not used to it. I still struggle with it personally and struggle with the fact my family is in it. My 1.5 year old blessing is a lot to handle with two kids in school who have busy schedules and need much more guidance, parenting and time. We are constantly looking at our finances and our money matters. Mind you, I have an amazing and wonderful flexible schedule. By no means is anyone at the church making me feel like I have to operate at 500 miles per hour. It is a pace I put on myself and expectations I carry for my own perception of success. It is all my own doing... (another reason to feel the guilt). I am writing this because I wonder if other women feel the same way and I just need to put this out there.
So, I am a Christian woman... beautifully and wonderfully made. But is it OK for me to NOT BE OK? And just be operating in my flesh and bugged and annoyed and irritated and working through some things with the Lord?
Circa 10 years ago... my husband and I never went to church regularly. We lived in our own little bubble, struggled alone, rejoiced as a couple, mourned as a couple we really never let anyone in unless it was stuff we "wanted" them to see. We kept our friends at a close enough distance to feel close but never was TRULY vulnerable to them to see our "blemishes" the things we struggled with... our hurts and our pains.
I have to say that now that I am HAPPILY involved with a church and a church family... it is tough. It is just darn tooting stinking tough. Because whether we like it or not, people are getting to know us at a deep personal level. A level that requires us to be honest about the good the bad and the ugly of who we are. It requires us to take a look in the mirror and seek God to help us with all of it. It is hard to disappoint people, be honest, be tired, be bugged when I know so many people all around me are going through so much and need to be ministered to while I myself need ministering to.
Thankfully, God has surrounded me with the exact recipe I need to help me walk through this uncomfortable time. I have people who speak truth into my life in a very loving way (modeling this for me in my life) I have people who encourage me, support me and serve alongside me with such passion and excitement I am blown away. I have people who know what a "mess" I am and choose to let me lead them in this church. I have an amazing staff who are patient, give me grace and point out to me my strengths. The reason it is so hard is that for so long I want to make sure the other people around me are comfortable. I am not trusting that God is going to take care of them, love them even when I cannot fully provide them all they need.
But I'm a stinking mess. And truly... it's not fun for me to say... but I better get used to it. Because if I wasn't, I wouldn't need "My Jesus" to walk me through this mess and see me to the other side of it. He will do that... I might get in the way of it here and there... but I am sure he will do it. :)
The 2nd Annual Durango Daddy Daughter Dance is coming! I am the lucky recipient of the title of event coordinator to bring together an amazing event at our church that honors the relationship between a Dad and daughter. This year's theme came from another Taylor Swift song that one of my amazing teachers Ashley told me about. It is called, Never Grow Up.
Last year we had an awesome turnout of over 185 Dads and daughters flood our sanctuary. I am meeting with the team of people who will help with various areas of the event next week. My daughter has already found, picked out and we've purchased the dress she is going to wear. My husband is thrilled to take his sweet girl again. As she fast approaches eight years old he is so excited to honor her and the relationship they have.
I am AGAIN getting a little melancholy. Love the event. Love planning it coordinating the theme, decorations, directing teams, praying for it, promoting it. I'm totally excited. I love projects like these because they start at one point... and they have an amazing satisfaction. I get to "be" or hang out at the event ( I hid from my daughter and her friends last year) but to watch little girls dance with, chat with and eat with thier Daddies is awesome.
I emailed my Dad the other day. I told him I loved him. I do. I wanted him to know it, because it's true. Anyway, listen to this awesome song. I can't wait for this really cool event. :) Peace, Jen
My Mom has come to visit us this Christmas. She is actually staying with us in our home. She is a blessing to all who meet her and there is NO ONE like her. I repeat. NO ONE. She is an individual and perfectly and wonderfully made for me and my family. I am even more blessed because she is spending the week with my kiddos while I go to work. I cannot explain how much the kids love it when she comes. She really doesn't have to do anything other than wear her Spongebob Squarepants pajamas, snuggle them and read to them and encourage them. They adore her.
After we moved away from my Dad and my brothers headed back to Wisconsin, it was a struggle and a process in missing my family. My Mom lives in New Mexico most of the time but comes back to see us often. But there is something about having your family with you on Christmas that makes it extra special.
Christmas time is a time for showing one another the grace and love God gives us. It is a time for words that speak life into peoples lives. It is a time for giving of gifts. Homeade gifts, gifts of words, gifts of service, gifts of quality time and most important gifts of love. My Mom is that gift to me.
It's kind of tough to have QT with her right now with the kiddos interupting our chats, but we're getting them in. We pour each other a cup of coffee and visit. We laugh. We hug. She is the BEST gift giver in all the world. She remembers anything you have ever said you wanted, needed or thought about and somehow they are all magically located under the tree Christmas morning. We painted nails yesterday... she allowed grace to paint her nails red, white and green. They were supposed to be stripes but turned out to be smudges of each color. Yet she admires them with love. My daughter made her coffee this morning. Wanting nothing more than to be near her Grandma.
So this Christmas I am relishing and enjoying the time I get to spend with my Mom. Making every moment count and enjoying the time I get to spend with her. What a blessing she is to us.
God is good. I am writing this blog to reflect on how that looks in my life, I am a Mom a sister a friend and a wife. And above it all I am a child of God. How awesome is that? I started this blog to be able to reflect on what that journey looks like. God has big things in store for this family of mine. I am just here to share my story.