Monday, December 27, 2010

Here it comes!

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

Thursday, December 23, 2010

My Mom

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.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

A prayer answered and a special Christmas gift...

I have to tell you a sweet thing my husband just came home and told me. If you remember, this year we had to give our sweet Tid Bit to the animal shelter. Our sudden move to a new rental made it impossible for us to keep her. Our schedules were that we are never home. When we lived on my Dad's land, she could run around and play with my Dad and his other dogs. She would be alone in our house, bored and frankly she was too smart of a dog to just have hang around.

This was a tough decision for BK and I. G and T LOVED her very much. She grew up with them and was a very special part of our family. But because we did not have much time with her, she had a hard time listening to us, did not know what to expect and most of the time was utterly confused about what we wanted.

The new rental is also very close to a busy road where we get lots of traffic. I feared the thought of TidBit getting out of our home and running into the street.

Anyway, BK and I took her to the animal shelter and all I could do was pray. I asked God to bring her to a family or a couple who would be able to love her, spend time with her and thoroughly enjoy her. She is SUPER FAST. I always wanted to get her in an agility training or something. She is part "heeler" so she needed a job to do. Something she knew she was good at.

Anyway, I followed up with the shelter after I dropped her off. They had a home and garden fair at the Fairgrounds and the animal shelter featured TidBit as one of the dogs to adopt at a booth they had at this event. MANY people came to look at her and thought she was great. When I called the shelter about a week later, the lady told me that she in fact was adopted by a couple who saw her at the fairgrounds and came back to the shelter to inquire about her. I was thrilled. No kids. TidBit would be the center of their world. Praise God. I told the kids and even though it was good news it was hard for them to hear. They didn't care if TidBit found a great home, they wanted TidBit to be their dog still.

Yet, God is even more faithful. When I prayed, I asked God to give her a full life. I cried when BK dropped her off. She was special. I just prayed other people saw what I knew about her to be true.

Anyway, today BK was at the Mall and found out from our old neighbor that friend of her adopted TidBit. That she is now a certified Therapy dog for people in the hospitals, hospice and little children. She sits with kids while they read her books, she visits sick grandmas and grandpas in the nursing homes and she visits hospitals where people need a friendly dog to greet them.

BK are so excited for her. We haven't told the kids because again we don't think they would appreciate it yet. But we will. This is a sweet little Christmas prayer answered. A reminder to me of a God who knows the little things in my heart that I desire and meets me right where I am at.

Thank you God for giving our puppy an amazing home and a new "job". Thanks for the reminder of your sweet love. May I never forget how unfailing, specific and good it is. Merry Christmas.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Authentic Me

: true to one's own personality, spirit, or character

worthy of acceptance or belief as conforming to or based on fact.

I've always considered myself to be an authentic person. You get what you get. I am who I say I am. I'm not too complex. I admit my mistakes, I wear my emotions on my sleeve, I do not care much what others think about me. I grew up in the midwest. You have to be a little bit tough to live there. Winters are harsh. We used to joke in Minnesota that it is hard to make friends there because everyone has all of their already established relationships, in the winter everyone hunkers down with their "peeps" and coming to the state from another place was hard to break into and form close relationships. But that is pretty much how it is. You have to "earn" your way into relationship. You have to "prove" yourself worthy. You have to show that you can "run with the big dogs" before you will gain any ground, respect or confirmation. As I've mentioned in the past, I grew up VERY CODEPENDENT. I was a pleaser. I was the "diplomat." I was constantly looking for ways to help people. I thought it was out of the goodness of my heart. But now I realize it was because I was paralyzed with fear that if I didn't do it, my world would spin out of control. I needed to "create" "force" and "maintain" order. Otherwise I wasn't sure I could survive.

Like I've stated before. I was raised in an awesome home in the suburbs of Milwaukee, I love my family, my home and what my parents taught me. I was taken to church, we had nice things, my Mom and Dad worked their booties off to give us an amazing life as a family. But I believe the minute BK and I decided to surrender our lives to the Lord and call ourselves Christians is the day I started gaining new perspective on God's plan for me. God's intentions for my life and how God wants me to live. I have an audience of ONE.... (no more, no less) and in that HE is giving me insight, revelation, and a deeper understanding of my own heart and what it yearns for, and what it needs. And what he is showing me now is that I need AUTHENTICITY. I need to be more authentic.

All the time I've spent "playing" peacemaker, has not prepared me for this day. An authentic Christian TELLS you what they want, what they expect, what they know to be true. An authentic Christian may not agree with you but will tell you how they feel and still want to be united in relationship with you. An authentic christian is not AFRAID of how other people will act, what they will do or what they might say. They wholely and completely trust the Lord to take care of everyone else.

I think what people can't stand about Christians is the facade that we are all SO... OK. That we are like flippin Mr. Rogers. How many of us would one time have liked to see Mr. Rogers chuck his shoe across the room and demand a different style?

Walking with Jesus is a journey and to be perfectly honest it may take me my entire life to get a COUPLE of the fruits of the spirit... but it's totally OK with God. It may take me a while to learn how to talk to my husband or my kids or my friends, but it's the journey I am on with God. I've stuffed a lot of crap over the years. (God loves me even though I say crap)
I know when it's happening. I do it to spare people the agony of having to "deal with" me. But God is showing me that it's not my job to spare people. It's not my job to tip toe around their issues. It's not my job to pacify, soothe and stroke everyone else around me. It is my job to love them yes. But not my job to make their lives OK.

So... as I seek to learn with authenticity looks like and watch how it plays out in my life. I will remember that God is the only audience member I have. He is the most important and where the rest of this journey takes me is up to Him.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Mostly pics

We are in the midst of Christmas Programs at school this year. Toby had his on Monday. (K - 2nd grade) It was sweet, lots of kids, lots of singing and dancing. It is one of those traditions I was talking about that I love so much. The kids love seeing their friends, performing for family and celebrating as a community. I was SO tired. Josie was ready for bed, but we went and we had fun. Toby was excited to perform for us. Enjoy the pics.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Christmas Traditions

I love traditions. I love when a family does something 'cause that's just what we do in our family.' I love it. It is what makes a family a family. It is one of the first things you learn about your spouse. The traditions of a family. You can either keep them going or change them or tweak them but having them is always so much fun. Here are a couple of ours... and a couple I'd love to try in years to come.

1. Making Gingerbread houses (Jinny started this with my kids last year and they LOVE it)

2. Picking out and putting up the Christmas tree. Grace seems to be the "pro" at the perfect tree. This year I was wrangling Josie and keeping her warm while we shopped, but she found a beautiful tree that is perfect for our house.

3. Stockings. In MY family we had St. NICK that came on December 5th and filled our stockings... Santa came on the 24th. We never questioned it because if we didn't BELIEVE.. he wouldn't come. And MAN did we want him to COME TO OUR HOUSE! :) We hang and fill stockings on Christmas Eve.

4. Monkey Bread on Christmas Day... it is a gooey mass of deliciousness on Christmas Day that my husband makes for us.

5. Where is Jesus? The nativity is put out before Christmas. However Jesus is not in the manger until Christmas Day. I used to love to come and look at the manger in oour house on Christmas Day. To see the cute little baby Jesus.

6. Watching National Lampoons Christmas Vacation... a tradition in my family. More appropriate for older kids. Our kids are too young to find it funny. Home ALONE is a good one for them now. Also another great Christmas movie.

7. Christmas performance at church, Christmas program at school, Giving tree at school.
8. The Roger Whittaker Christmas music... as well as the Muppets Christmas. LOVE THEM BOTH.


I would love to do the following things in the future:

1. Serve at a soup kitchen
2. Mission Trip
3. Birthday party for Jesus.(we are doing this at church on the 19th)
4. Get a forest license and chop down our own tree.

Christmas is GRAND... isn't it?

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

December Joy...

Josie via my mobile phone

Josie knowing she's not supposed to DIG in the garbage, but trying to be cute anyway.

I can't remember a time when I've been more excited about Christmas. I can't remember being more elated about celebrating the birth of Christ. It brings me such joy to think about decorating the house, buying a fresh tree and decorating it with the kids and making sure we are all focused on the reason we celebrate this beautiful season and time of year. My husband is healthy, my kids are happy and healthy and we have some of the best friends and family in the world.

I was thinking about some past posts and it kind of makes me giggle how much I went into ministry with barely a smidge of understanding in terms of what God was doing with me to prepare me for this journey. I am being sanctified, stripped of the "old Jen" and being given some revelation about myself that sometimes is not so fun to know. I am giving up control of things... all the while kicking and screaming because it's so uncomfortable. I am learning to trust and love a God with my most precious priority. That which is my family.

In a way, God has said to me... I've got them Jen. You don't have to be ME for them. You just have to be you... and love ME with all your heart. My friend Linn created a blog post about how the disciples threw down their nets and followed Jesus. They dropped everything that mattered to them to follow Him. In many ways I worship my children. I am overly consumed by how I AFFECT how I IMPACT how I TRAIN and how I LOVE THEM. I know it says in the Bible to train a child up in the way they should go. But it also says not to don't WORRY ABOUT ANYTHING PRAY ABOUT EVERYTHING... THANK HIM FOR ALL HE HAS DONE...

So, I'm in this awesome church, being impacted by God in such a personal way, seeking His kingdom here on earth. I'm listening to Him give me a vision, a passion and a burden for children and how much of a big deal they are to Him. I'm leading adults who themselves are learning from Him pressing into Him and being in relationship with me while they serve kids in our church. I'm trusting God with my husband and his health, I'm trusting God with my kids protection in public school and his provision for them in all that they need. I'm learning to manage my time and minister to kids and be honest with people about tough stuff. I'm dropping my nets. And following Him, trusting Him and "PRAYING ABOUT EVERYTHING."

My baby is now one and a half. My husband is on the road to a healthier life with the new medicine he is taking and I am looking forward to the next year and all that comes with it. I am done worrying, done complaining, done wondering. I am doing it. I am not looking back and I am following Him. Jesus, Help me to always follow you. Help me to KNOW that you are who you say you are and that you'll do what you say your going to do. Lord, help me to know you have my kids in your arms, that those plans for them that you had intended are in full force and they will see them through to fruition. God give me peace about riverKIDS and what you want me to do to help reach more kids in Durango. And Lord most of all bring me people who understand what a "BIG DEAL" kids are to you.

I love you Lord. Thanks for this Christmas season. Thanks for putting up with me for so many things... and thanks for reminding me how much you love me.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

This Thanksgiving.

Thanksgiving 2010 - Elephant Butte New Mexico

Posting a quick update from New Mexico.

On Monday we traveled about 6.5 hours from Durango to where my Mom lives in Elephant Butte New Mexico. This is a much needed hiatus. MUCH needed time with my family and much needed time to decompress. I am thankful for so much, yet struggling at the same time? Can anyone relate? Maybe it's the holidays... but I believe it is more of a work God is doing in me... a BIG one, that I have yet to understand what it is. I always pray that God keep transforming me, but with that request comes seasons of facing things that aren't fun. Maybe seeing more of my own yuck I need to come to terms with. MORE trusting God. LESS of me. Maybe that's my prayer this year. When I ask God for MORE of Him and LESS of me am I prepared for what that might mean in my life? Am I ready for the sacrifice that comes with it? If I want to be "different" and transformed doesn't it mean that I'll have to do things I have not done before. Explore areas of things I have avoided for so long and TRUST that God will go before me, not forsake me and love me through all of it. The good, the bad, the ugly? Whew?

I've lived a "safe" life for a very long time. I'm stepping out.. trusting Him and thanking God for what's coming.

I pray you all have a great Thanksgiving.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Letters of intent... Oh where did you go?

I have been meaning to write this letter for some time.

Dear waist,

OK... so I know I have been kind of tough on you the last 8 years. With all the babies inside my body and the stretching, working out, then stretching again, I'll admit you've taken a beating.

I'll also admit that I haven't made proper pant choices and jean decisions in that
I try to squeeze into a smaller jean size than appropriate for my body. It's a weakness I have... God is working on me.

And I know I've had three children and made you carry about 20 lbs of baby around for quite some time... I'm always bending at the waist to pick up things... carry things etc. etc.

But really, why did you have to leave? I miss having a waist! I miss you. I miss how my jeans feel and how my body looks. Having the stature that I do (fun sized) when I don't have a waist I look like a tree trunk. It's just how it is. My vertically challenged body can't afford not to have a waist... so I am begging you to please come back.

Please come back as a miracle. As a work of the Holy spirit in which I would not have to do one Pilates, yoga or cardio move and you would out of nowhere be back with me on my body. I would have curves again... oh what a day that would be.

If you come back to me, I would take you shopping for new jeans that fit me better. I would make Bill pick everything up and I would try not to bend over so much. I am not having anymore children that would put more stress and strain on you so we won't have to worry about that. Oh waist of mine, please also come back as a six pack....what a day that would be when we would be reunited again. From tree trunk to chick with a six pack waist. Ahhhh... how healthy I would feel.

I just wanted to write to you because I miss you and I look forward to a day when we will be reunited again. (did I mention without situps as well?)

Your friend,

Thursday, October 28, 2010

My Love - Thanks for ten awesome years together.

*This song was going to be the song we were to play at our first dance at our wedding... but I was a "teeny" bit of a Bridezilla and changed it on BK. (I swore I told him) It was the first thing Bill had to adjust to on our first day as a married couple. My tendency to switch the plan... mid plan. ;)

Ten years ago today I married this guy. I can remember when I first started dating him I told my Mom, "He's perfect Mom." I told her there was not one thing wrong with him. He was kind, he was sweet, he had manners, he had a great family, he was a gentleman, he made me laugh and loved to laugh, he had great friends, he worked hard, he had great values and morals. I still believe all those things to be true. I found myself a gem. Neither BK or I are perfect but we really are perfect for each other.

I consider it a pretty awesome accomplishment to be married for ten years. We have been through a lot. We have struggled, individually and as a couple, we have grieved together, we have rejoiced having our three beautiful babies. We have had good and bad financial times, we have had battles of wills, and we carried our own junk into our marriage. But I believe the thing that sustains us most in our marriage is our God. BK and I can attest that when we seek Him earnestly, through prayer or reading the word or just attending our church and hearing from our awesome pastor... he directs our path and it is made much more straight.

It is the same with our marriage. BK and I have not done this solo. We have not made it through adversity by our own strength. We give God all of the glory of how we have made it this far. Without being connected to our source (and each other) it is very difficult to operate in this crazy world in a marriage relationship. I pray for our marriage. That it is protected. I pray for our hearts, that they are softened for each other. I pray that my God give me new eyes to see my husband and that I can be the woman Proverbs 31 talks about.

The thing I loved about Bill when I first met him was his blonde hair, his pure blue eyes and his sweet smile with dimples. As we got to know each other I loved how athletic he was how he played softball and sports and he knew everything there is to know about sports. As we were married I loved that he could fix things that i couldn't and that he knew more about managing money than I did. I loved how much he loves his kids and what a great father he is to them. Now, the thing I love most about Bill is how much he is interested in his faith in God. How he sets an amazing example when some mornings or evenings you will find him sitting with his Bible at the kitchen table eating his breakfast and pursuing God. Having his heart and his spirit stirred by the God who created Him. I still love him for all of the cool things I saw in him from the first day we met, but what a man of God he is. It doesn't get much hotter than that! :)

When we first started dating I called him "My Love." I don't think I ever referred to him at Billy much in the beginning. I would say, what are we doing today "my love." How are you doing "my love." When can I see you again, "my love." He truly is my love of my life. I am blessed beyond words to be married to such a wonderful person.

I love you Billy Kline. Your are my love and my friend. Thanks for being you and knowing me and loving me through all of it.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Thankful Thursday - Overwhelmed with Thanks

I don't know if it was because I had such a special birthday or that two of my friends came and helped me declutter and organize my office or that I had the privledge of sharing at our youth group last night or that I am just a big mush face, but I am so thankful.

I am thankful for my friends. For my friends who are single, my married friends, for my old friends and new friends. My friendships show me the love of my Jesus. They show me with the twinkle in their eyes, with their laughter. With the tenderness of their hearts and their big huge hugs. They show me Jesus when they want to spend time with me, help me, talk to me, listen to me and just be with me. What a gift they are to me.

I am so thankful for the beautiful place I call home which is Durango, Colorado. Oh my... it's a funny little place. No shopping whatsoever other than Wal Mart. Lots of "hippie" stores and granola, smoke shops, Hookah bars and things that I truly do not know about. It is the land of gear... camping gear, skiing gear, snowboarding gear, biking gear and mountain climbing gear. The leaves on the trees this time of he year are the most unbelievable things I have seen in a long time. So pretty, it blows my mind a little bit.

I am thankful for my Jesus. I talked about Him last night at youth group. I was able to share a little bit about who He has been to me, who he continues to be and how He is building my faith in Him. I was crying on my way into work again today (mush face)in awe of how thankful I am that he has been with me, he loves me, he always has been with me and that I am getting to know Him better and better as each day passes. To those of you who read this and do not have a relationship with Christ... it may sound crazy to have a relationship with a God I cannot see. But in my heart he speaks to me, through my circumstances, he ministers to me, and through his Word he transforms and changes me for His good plan. And I could never be more thankful for something as wonderful as that.

I am thankful for my sweet husband. Who gets sweeter and sweeter with each year. His heart is big... he desires so much good. I love my Billy and I am excited to celebrate the fact we have been married ten years on the 28th of this month. I look forward to many years to come. I love that man of mine! :)

I am thankful for my children. After I drop the big kids off at school and walk Josie to the van. She nuzzles and buries her head in my neck and gives me the sweetest snuggles around. She stays that way for quite a while. Sometimes we just hang out for a minute and snuggle outside of the van showing each other our love in snuggles. We also laugh at our reflections in the van mirror too. Grace is a girl. Just about as girly as they come. Our latest conversations have been about whether or not we should cut her some bangs. She wants them. I am hesitant. BK said to let her hair grow out first. She has good friends at school. Girls she is becoming closer to. However, she can still go in my office closet and have a blast playing "pretend" with her little brother and have just as much fun. I love that they do that. Toby is just that... "Toby". There is no one else like him. The other day I asked him what his favorite part of his day was at school and he told me that he liked it because he got to use a "spork". It's a SPOON and a FORK mom! I think he saw them in one of his favorite Veggie Tale episodes. He constantly says things like that that make me laugh. Love Him.

I am thankful that I "get to" be in a job that allows me to minister to kids and adults alike. That the job I have centers around Christ. That the kids who come to our church are desiring to experience God in a new fun way. That the parents have hearts who are open and are willing to be transformed by his good nature.

This is a good Thankful Thursday. lv, jen

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

New Pics... - JUST US

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

I'm back... for a breather

Hey all my blog friends (if your still even out there)
It's been some time since my last post. Too long actually. So much has happened I feel I am not doing the blog world justice if I don't get everyone up to speed. But since it's been so long I'll just give a brief synopsis of life in the Kline family circa September. And since my life is now broken into about seven intentional little categories of goodness. I'll update you on all of them.

hubby Bill - Wonderful. Love him. Still being challenged by God on financial stuff. Stewarding money. Being debt free. Living disciplined with joy. Our ten year anniversary is fast approaching. And I can happily tell you all I am so excited for the next ten years. BK is blowing my mind with the man he is to me as well as the amazing father he is to our children. He simply rocks. And the fact that I think he's kinda hot doesn't hurt either. :)

Grace - Grace is in third grade. She is a officially a reader. She escapes into book land whenever she can. She is reading Diary of a Wimpy Kid and Junie B Jones books constantly. She is an expert at homework. We have begun a family "schedule" when we get home from school. Kids do homework first. Then they can play and have the rest of the night free. Grace will do her homework in the van if it means she can have free time. She is Math girl and told me if she could teach a subject (she has the gift of teaching) it would be Math. And this makes my heart swell because in Math class I was always excused to go to my "lower" level math class. So Im loving that she is so into it. The "newness" of Josie has officially wore off. This morning as she was eating her breakfast in bed. (yes. I rock) I heard her ask Bill if he could close her bedroom door so Josie could not come in and try to climb on her bed. Dont' get me wrong. She digs her, but definatley needs her alone time. Grace needs a "thing" we are right now trying to determine what her "thing" might be. She has attended a 4H meeting. I am signing her up for gymnastics at some point this fall and can't wait to see what God is going to do in her life.

Toby - T is in 1st grade. And many of my prayers this school year have been for him. He is boy... ALL boy... and he may have a slight degree of his mother's side of the family ADD... he's dreamy, he is creative and LOVES to talk and do his thing. I'll give you an example. He was washing his hands in the boys bathroom. He put soap on his hands... some of the soap splattered on the mirror... he tried to wipe the soap off of the mirror with his soapy hands... realzing this made a very cool pattern he began to then create ART on the bathroom mirror. Upon the teacher's arrival in the bathroom, she sees toby "playing" in the bathroom and making a mess of the mirrors. These characteristics do not bode well in a classroom environment. So Toby and his Mommy are working through how to navigate life in a school system that needs to teach many children, without squishing the goodness and spirit and esteem of my boy who at time can throw a teacher's "system" all out of wack. HOWEVER, Toby is bright, intelligent, does HIS homework well. Is learning about telling time and counting money and fun things like that. God is teaching me what it means to "support" teachers in the school district. Being open about my perspective while being open to what teachers do in the classroom. Toby is great. And in his case he is LOVING Josie because he loves to watch her learn new things.

Josie - J is unbelievably a go getter. She climbs everything, she eats everything, she touches everything. Nothing is too small too big too hot too cold too sharp too dirty for this girl. She has no fear. Yesterday we were watching a movie as a family and I walked into the kitchen and she is sitting on top of our kitchen table. We have a bench in our kitchen and her favorite spot is to climb up onto the bench and look out the window and scale the bench. But she is a firecracker. She has been having pooping problems lately. I've never experienced this with the other two. Josie "delivers" her poop. She gets consitpated and literally sometimes we have to help her. We are finding the balance of apple juice, peas, pears and milk that all work well together. Poor thing. She is smiley and laughs and giggles and tries to do things her way. I can't wait to see the gifts God has poured into her little spirit and to nurture them.

Pastor/church stuff - This is exciting. We are officially kicked off into a new year of a new ministry and we are making some good progress. We have some new people on the riverKIDS team and I am excited to see them impact kid's lives. We have some die hard servant leaders as well who have perservered through all of this change like troopers. They have made more progress and been so dedicated it warms my heart just thinking about all of the people God has brought to me on the riverKIDS team. I went to Denver for a three day conference and terribly missed my family. But I had a good time and got to see my good friend Jinny and hang with my new friend Kelly. I am truly blessed by this church and this ministry. The pressure I put on myself is sometimes unbearable. But God seems to always reach in right when I have beat myself up enough and show me His grace, His love and His understanding. And then it's all OK. God is so good. It's why I am in ministry. So other people can see and know it too.

Me - I was looking in the mirror the other day trying to get a pair of jeans on.... and I literally started laughing out loud. I was like... you know what I am just going to be chunky for a while. I am not going to freak out about it, I am not going to be self loathing and I am not going to think poorly of my body. This is just how my body is going to be until I have a little bit more free time to schedule in a FULL workout that can shape my body. Don't worry though, I am exercising... in babysteps. I play volleyball once a week and I started to run (slowly) and not for a long time on our treadmill. My eating habits are different working so much so I am still learning what a healthy life looks like in this job and my busy life. I turn 39 in October so I am fast approaching 40. I am looking forward to it. Because I have this "when I am old I will wear purple" mentality. I know my strengths, I know my weaknesses. I know what God is working on and what I can and cannot change. No one other that the Lord himself is going to make that different. So I might as well just accept it and enjoy it and keep on keepin on! Truth be told.. I miss my Dad. It has been six months since we last spoke. At least since I spoke to "that guy" who told me leave and never come back. My Dad is in there somewhere and man do I miss him. But again, God has shown me that He is taking care of my Dad. That this time away is giving me a perspective of God's love for me and also some time to heal my heart. Someday I'll see my Dad again and I'll be better prepared spirtually and emotionally. I actually miss all of my family. My Mom, My bro's and my sweet sisters in love. My neices and nephews. I miss my Grandma and Grandpa. Funny story... I was at McDonalds the other week with Billy and I was walking out and there was a man in front of me. He had on cowboy boots and black jeans. (just like my grandpa used to wear) as I walked by him he TOTALLY smelled like my Grandpa. I ran to the van and jumped in and started sobbing. Bill was like.. "What's wrong?" I told him that I just missed my Grandpa so much and that cowboy dude smelled like him and his cowboy boots clip clopped on the ground just like my Grandpas did. I think I had a little PMS, but the grief just overwhelmed me. Family is good. Family relationships are important. I was telling BK the other day the cool part about being with the family God gave you is that they love you NO MATTER WHAT. Even though my Dad is hurting and broken and wrecked. I still love him. Even though I am not perfect, my kids and husband love me. We have to. We are a team. We know all the good bad and ugly of each other and we love regardless. That's what family is for. It's vital.

Anyway, I better wrap this up. Thanks for listening and thanks for checking back with me. My camera is fixed so I'll be posting more new pics soon.
Love, jen

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Do you EVER feel totally safe...

Throughout my journey of being a children's pastor at our church I know God has been working in my relationships. He sent me some people who have been just blowing me away with how much they love the Lord, how much they understand kids and ministering to kids and how much they have the gift of teaching. The first person he sent me was my friend Ben. Now... Ben is HUGE... and when I say huge I mean huge, like ultimate fighting martial arts kind of huge. But just as huge as Ben is... his heart is just as big. One of the first times Ben and I had talked when I started at the church a year ago, a man came into my office and was telling me a story about how he was taking care of his brother who had a neck injury and was very very sick. As the man was telling me the story, I looked over and these huge tears were rolling down Ben's cheeks. The man telling the story stopped, startled a little I think because Ben was crying... but that's just how Ben is. He truly sees the heart of situations. He is compassionate and an incredible listener and friend... and he served for many years ministering to kids who were going through crisis and divorce. So when it comes to ministering to kids. Ben has lots and lots of wisdom.

Which brings me to my next person. Her name is Beth... Beth is a leader Ben served with in Chicago at a Willow Creek church there. Beth has her masters, she has taught in schools, she is wise beyond wise and she too seeks to understand and truly be Jesus to people. She understands pain, but moreso she understands God's grace in the midst of it all. Which brings me to the workshop and the concept of "safety" Ben and Beth are teaching me.

Having not come from a "tradional" Christian background I feel like my perspective on riverKIDS is a clean slate. I know I don't want to develp a "traditional" children's ministry. I know I want a ministry that is first and foremost based on relationships with Jesus first and relationships with kids. If the kids don't feel safe and loved in the relationships they have at church why would they ever believe a Bible story we tell them? If they think the only reason we are in the class to teach them is because we have to run through curriculum, then why have a class at all. I want this ministry to be a place where kids feel SO safe, So loved and SO TRULY known... that they begin to reveal the truth of their hearts to us. That they begin to confess to us the things that are hurting them most. That they are able to say to us... I need to be healed by jesus, will you pray with me and believe with all of their hearts it is the same thing their teachers want. I don't want a show... I don't want a party, I want ministry. I want kids to learn the things of the Bible but to first and foremost know that I am not there fixing, judging and joking about their problems. I want them to know that every team member I have is someone who can sit with them in their pain. Can ask them questions that do not make them feel like they have to defend their emotions or justify how they feel. I want to hear that kids have been healed at a very young age from fear and anger. I want God to do a mighty work in my teacher's hearts so they too begin to understand that what we seek to do for these kids is what Jesus has done for us all along. He doesn't fix, He doesn't judge, He doesn't make jokes. He just sits with us in our yuck and says... "Yep... I am SO SORRY you feel that way." He sits with us in our yuck and says, "Tell me more about what your feeling..." He sits with us in our yuck and says, "I noticed you today and I hear what your saying and it's so important to me that you share with me... oh and by the way Jen... I love you no matter what is happening in your life."

Ben and Beth talk about creating a "safe place" in the church for kids to not only learn Biblical truths, but a place where they actually experience what Jesus would have been like in real relationships with teachers and people who love them and want to help them be healed by Jesus. And yes... young children need Jesus' healing. Let's not fool ourselves into thinking they don't carry stress, difficulty and pain. I haven't even been in children's ministry that long and I know the pain of a child. They have parents who are divorced, they experience deaths, they know what bullying is, they have been betrayed, they help their addicted parents, brothers,sisters and families and some of them have parents who have committed serious crimes. Some of them have been exposed to sex younger than they ever should be. Some of them have been molested and abused. This ministry is not something I will take lightly. Yes, right now we are concerned with paint and esthetics and the 90 second first impression. But we will be communicating what a safe place looks like regularly. I'm so excited for this. And as I begin to uncover and look at this type of thing in my own life, I am feeling a huge conviction that I am seeking forgiveness for. A conviction where I know I have not been safe in communicating with many people who matter most to me. I have tried to fix them, I have tried to joke with them, I have tried to tell them a story that is simliar. I haven't just sat with them in their circumstances and tried to get their perspective. So I'm praying today that God reveal those things to me a little bit more clearly. I am completely trusting Jesus that he will take this ministry to the next level. Thank you God for Ben and Beth. Two people who have been Jesus to me.

Here is Beth's company's website. You want a fresh perspective on your relationships, talk to Beth see what she has to say.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Letter of Intent... and stuff

I wasn't going to post anything because my camera is still broken (discouraging) so for some reason I feel like my posts are much less fun to read without cool pictures. Yes... I am a dork.

So I will write my next letter of Intent. Read on...

Letter of Intent

Dear said Family vehicle (my dear sweet Honda Odyssey),

I am writing to thank you. To thank you for once again releasing my keys back to me so I don't have to hook and unhook my battery every day I drive you. I have already been on my knees praising God for fixing you for me. He knows my every desire and hope and that was a big one weighing on my mind.

I know God is working in our life because he has brought finances when there were none... and when I say none. I mean NONE. So Mr. Odyssey you too should be thanking Jesus for the beautiful miracle he worked in your ignition casing.

I look forward to a couple more years with you. Keep on trucking little van. Thanks for all you have done!

Love, Jen and family

Bloggy friends, I will post another day about our financial blessings and miracle. It is post for a memorial box monday. A post that will glorify Him, and build other people's faith by the things Jesus is doing in my life. Right when I needed Him most.

Peace to you all!

Sunday, August 15, 2010

A work in progress

A sustainable pace....
It is what I am focusing on in all areas of my life. I have not really blogged much about the day to day stuff that is happening in this family of mine. BK and I are focusing heavily on our budgetary scenario. Finances are a top priority for this family of mine. God and BK have had some pretty heavy duty conversations about us getting everything in order. Stewarding finances well and is teaching Bill and I to work TOGETHER in it. For the past two pay periods we have been doing really well. Sunday afternoons after naps, we spend about a half an hour talking about money. I was telling my friend Jill the other day that converstaions about money are not always just about money... they are about much more than that and that's why sometimes I think couples have a hard time talking about it. Money effects people in different ways depending upon how you have grown up, how your parents treated money how your parents discussed money and how and why it was spent. BK and I have been learning a lot about our selves in this process. And I have to say... some of it was painful to learn but to cool thing that is happening is that BK and I are working together and trying to teach the kiddos in the process.

Day to day life has been good but different. In an effort to save I have been bringing my two big kids to work with me. What a cool thing that I have a boss who understands the need for flexibility in this life with kiddos so this will be my last week with them before they go off to school next week. We have a big party this Sunday for our kickoff of the new ministry. I have a lot to do and it is interesting while doing all the work I need to accomplish I know that God will take care of the details. I love my job. I am challenged. Not just by what we are trying to accomplished but by what I am learning about myself and my church in the process. My favorite part? The ministry. My favorite part is when a child needs prayer, my favorite part is when a Mom brings her daughter to church who brings a friend who needs prayer. My favorite part is when I get to teach a class and pray for the kids. My favorite part is talking with them one on one. Getting to know the kids lives. Getting to know the parents and their life circumstances and walking with them through the good the bad and the ugly. We still need to build a team so I can focus more on those things, but I am convinced God will take us there. In His timing.

I am a work in progress. This year will be a year of thinking and dreaming with God about what's next. Adoption? Buying or building a house? a 10 year anniversary trip? Who knows. I sit in anticipation of what's next. Thank you God for this life you give me. It will be my legacy someday and please let it be something that honors and glorifies you in all of it. lv, jen

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Overwhelmed by it all...

Please let me preface this post by saying I am not overwhelmed by my life, my family or even my own personal circumstances. I am overwhelmed by the crisis happening in our families and the lives of kids today. What has happened?

I have been serving in youth ministry on and off for the past 41/2 years. In this time I have heard from kids as young as 14 years old, " I think I am pregnant," " I cut myself," "I'm trying to help my Mom(Dad) through their depression and chaos," "My parents are getting a divorce," "My Dad(Mom) hits me and verbally abuses me and my family." "My Mom(Dad) is sick." "I am addicted to drugs." The stories I hear from these young people are so sad to me. I am so burdened by it.

Here I am planning curriculum worried about checkin systems, determining paintcolors for the hallways of our church... concerned about crafts and attendance and statistics and the real problem lies in crisis and pain around us. What can we do God? What do I do? Will another VBS solve the crisis in our children? Will more crafts and pipe cleaners heal parents hearts and help them to understand marriage and sacrificial love? Will our kids ever get to be kids again. I think there was a time when all kids had to worry about were pipe cleaners and googly eyes. I think there was a time when they could truly enjoy a craft and think all about how the glue felt in their little sticky fingers. But I think the minute they are done... they are faced with much more. More than we could ever know about.

I was also thinking about this because although my kids don't experience the pain that some of these kids in crisis are going through, they are going to be faced with it because many of these kids are their peers. Many of these kids are looking for other kids who have supportive families to help them along, to love them despite their circumstances, will my kids be ready? Will they have what it takes? Will they see God in it all?

On my way home from youth group I prayed so hard. God has put an intercessory gifting in my life. When I become burdened to pray I begin to weep. It just comes in a huge wave. Like I am feeling like I am crying God's tears. I am so I pray I cry out to God. It's loud and it comes from the depth of my spirit...I pray in my prayer language and it is like I am praying away the sin... I don't know what I am saying but I know that God knows. It doesn't happpen too often but when it does it comes like a thunderstorm. (thank goodness I am in the car!lol)

So last night, in my overwhelmed state, I just cried and prayed. I was so overwhelmed by the challenge that faces us as Christians. By the town we live in and by the hurt and pain all around me. I felt like all I could do was call upon our big huge amazing miracle working God to do what he does best and heal us.

Not because we deserve it, but because he knew we were going to be this way and he loves us despite ourselves. So, I am asking my bloggy friends to pray along with me. Pray for our families, pray for relationships, pray for kids and that they stay kids. Pray that God does a miracle today in the lives of kids. Pray for his protection. Thank you so much. lv, Jen

Saturday, July 31, 2010

unbelievably high heels...

So, I knew I had to blog about this because I left the store like I needed to talk to someone about it. Or at least vent about it a little.

I went shopping today for professional black dress shoes I can wear with a skirt. They used to be called PUMPS. I have NO IDEA what you would call shoes like that now. So I went to a store at the Durango Mall. Your average shoe store with quite a bit of selection. I walked by the flip flops, (too casual) I walked by the strappy shoes, too summery, I walked over to where they might have "dress shoes" for women.

Now let me preface this by saying, I love to wear heels. I am 5'1" so anytime I can be a couple inches taller to reach an "average" height I am giddy. However, the "dress" section of this store that contained shoes with heels blew my mind. Yes, they had appropriate dress shoes.. which were probably 2 inch heels. The selection was few.. maybe 3 pairs of shoes that first of all looked cute and second of all were comfortable. (I could write a whole other blog about shoe comfort later ;)

Anyway, the other aisle where all the other dress shoes were had shoes that I truly believe should ONLY be sold at Fredrick of Hollywood or some store in the red light district of Amsterdam. Holy Moly! Am I getting old or are stilleto heels just commonplace in the year 2010. First of all, there is no way on God's green earth I am walking up on stage at church in stilleto heels with my professional suit and skirt. NO WAY. But seriously it was the majority of the selection! Which begs the question. Can shoes be too sexy? I think I am really getting old.

I did finally find a pair after searching high and low. I swear maybe it's my age... I can't buy shoes that make me look like I am trying to be 22 and I can't buy shoes that my Grandmother would wear, but seriously I think the shoe companies are missing a market of women who would buy more shoes if they created styles that were a little more practical and fabulous.

Enough said, Any thoughts on this? Thought I'd attach a new pic of the family. All 5 of us. We had them taken in Iowa and when I look at them I think my family looks beautiful, but they make me want to go to the gym and lift weights. :) I know Jill... Baby steps... baby steps...

Friday, July 23, 2010

Letters of Intent...the family van

Dear said "family vehicle",

Having taken a long family vacation and a variety of short trips. I would first like to thank you for continuing engine goodness and your ability to get me and my brood around the nation this summer.

However, this thing you have with the ignition and you swallowing my keys has me just about to the end of my rope. Being able to completely turn off the engine and pull the keys out of the ignition would bring me no greater joy. I would appreciate it if you could release the vice grip you have on my 98 Honda Odyssey key and let me have it back.

Having three children and knowing I have lots of running around to do... it is a little bit frustrating that every time I have to stop the car I have to unhook your battery. I am sure you don't want EVERYONE to see "under your hood" ALL the time. So, I am asking nicely (and praying to the Lord my God) to see if you would just give me back my keys and my time. This time can be spent in better ways, (painting my fingernails, loving my kiddos, making yummy meals and encouraging my husband).

The fact that in order to fix you it costs in the neighborhood of $500.00 we are not willing to part with said money. (Do you have any idea how many diapers and school supplies that buys?) So let's just come to an agreement and you give me back my keys and I promise I will fix your rear seal oil leak in the near future. (sorry if you wanted that to remain private).

I look forward to a day where we will live in harmony once again. Thank you too that your radio works so I can blast my music while chauffering my kiddos around Durango. Peace to you today Honda Odyssey. NOW GIVE ME MY KEYS BACK!


Monday, July 19, 2010

Happy Birthday Josie...

Josie turned one year old on the 14th. I was not able to post due to scheduling issues, but I just am so excited for her. I am so excited for the little girl she is growing up to be. She walked this week... across the living room. The look of excitement she has when she's has done it just makes my heart sing. I sat in my super hot house yesterday just playing with her. Laughing with her, reading her books, talking with her and practicing walking. She received a new little rocker from her Grandma for her birthday and she adores it. She sits on it, she kneels on it and she just rocks and jives. She is a total dancer girl. Any kind of music... ringtones.. whatever... she will start dancing to the beat.

She is pure joy to me. I am so thankful for her, for her life, for her beautiful heart and big voice. She is squealing and laughing and talking as much as a 1 year old can. She likes to grunt at people, she also LOVES those Gerber puffs and has discovered the wonder of Watermelon. We've devoured tons of it together this summer.

I feel like I post about this all the time, but seriously my children bring me more joy than I could ever describe. Is motherhood or being a parent easy? It is challenging and every day is an adventure. But I wouldn't trade it for the world. Happy Birthday sweet Josie. We love you sweetie! Love, Mommy

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Look Mom...

I have to post about this because I am so in love with my Gracie.. I need to talk about where she is at with her faith and what God is doing in her heart. Last year, Grace was in class at church and during the message of kids' church there was discussion about salvation. Kids were invited to ask Jesus into their hearts. I got a text from one of our awesome teacher and a good friend of mine saying she had asked Jesus into her heart. I teared up, I was so happy.

However, about 3 months ago... G and I were talking before bedtime and I was talking to her about if she understood what asking Jesus into her heart meant. Grace is very smart. She notices everything, she thinks things through... she watches relationships and people, she draws conclusions from behavior, she is a keen listener. So even though in that class she prayed "the prayer" I wanted to be sure she understood what it meant and why it was a cool thing.

I need to preface this a little bit. Because Grace's friends don't all believe what she believes she finds it very cool when she sees ANYTHING ANYWHERE that mentions God or Jesus. I bought her a Chapter book from a christian book store and she was so EXCITED when she saw they were talking about Jesus. We were watching the Duggers one time (19 and counting...) and one of the sons was talking about how he was waiting for the girl that God had created for him to marry. She beamed. She said,
"Mom... did you hear what he said?" He is talking about Jesus. And today she was on the computer playing a video game and they mentioned Jesus on it and she was blown away. I asked her, "Grace... why do you like to see Jesus' name on things?" She said because I never see games that have to do with Jesus. So it jumps out at me when it does.

Anyway, about 3 months ago... G and I were talking about asking Jesus into her heart. Did she understand why we ask Jesus to be with us? I talked to her about this verse:

9That if you confess with your mouth, "Jesus is Lord," and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved. 11As the Scripture says, "Anyone who trusts in him will never be put to shame."[e] 12For there is no difference between Jew and Gentile—the same Lord is Lord of all and richly blesses all who call on him, 13for, "Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved."[f]

Well, Grace really loved hearing this message again. She loved to know that there was a God who wanted to be in her heart. She knows she needs Jesus. What a great gift. She asked me today... Mom why isn't there more "Jesus" games on the computer?

And I told her. Grace... it says in the Bible that some people will not believe that God wants to be in their lives. God give everyone a choice... and they can choose. I said sometimes believing you need a savior includes having to admit that you have sin... and some people don't want to look at their sin and admit they struggle or believe that God can heal them from that sin.

She is in awe of God, I'm praying that he just continues to draw her closer... in love. Show her the unending love he has for her... at a very early age. That her prayers are heartfelt, her passion for Jesus strong and her conviction to tell others something that burns within her. I am proud of my daughter for so many reasons, but her focus and thought that goes into her faith is amazing. Thank you Lord for Grace... when she was born.. I felt undeserving of such a precious gift. Thank you for revealing yourself to her... so that she might be a gift to everyone she meets... and blow them all away with her light and love. AMEN.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Let me introduce you... to my friend

Isn't she just the cutest thing?

I'm not sure how to write this post. I've written posts before about how God is transforming me. I have written about the change that takes place when you see, experience, realize God's specific love. When you witness miracles, when you experience emotional healing. When Jesus fills every void I have ever felt in my spirit. I have told of how I've tried it all. Drinking, drugs, friends, boys, money, corporate success, material things. None of it. Absolutley none of it is nearly as satisfying as my relationship with Jesus Christ. Nothing compares.

It's like I have a best friend that I want to introduce everyone too. However, He is this best friend who no one wants to talk about. Because if you talk about Him or this thing you know... people think you and your friend are going to judge them, condemn them. When it is the exact opposite.

This friend gives me encouragement, blesses me, loves me unconditionally and takes care of me. This friend is with me when I am struggling, laughs with me when I am joyful and cries with me when I am wrecked by tough things. This friend understands LOVE better than anyone or anything I know.

So when I say I want to introduce you to my friend... and you say, I don't know your friend. Your friend has never shown me love. Your friend has never been real to me or given me blessings. Your friend has never loved me.

I will say to you... let me introduce you to Jesus Christ. Draw near to Him... and he will draw near to you. You will see Him. You will experience His unfailing love and it will be the best choice you have ever made.

Sunday, June 27, 2010


FYI.. this is a picture of Grace when she was about 1 1/2 year old. The one above it is of Josie today. Grace looks so much like Josie it's crazy! I am so bugged that my camera is fried. I am headed back to Office Depot this week to buy a battery to see if that will fix it. I am going to be bummed out if I need a new one. So in the meantime I will show pics from my Blackberry.

All is well on this homefront. I am busy with getting the vision and mission of riverKIDS launched in August. We've had some hiccups coming back to our house, but really I believe these things are distractions that are just taking me away from what God has planned for the ministry and my family. Let's just say that I am sick of dwelling on the negative and really focusing on the good. I am tired of evaluating, stressing, worrying and hurting. It is time to live in the joy of the Lord. Live out what I believe. Have faith that can move mountains. Believe that God is FOR ME... not against me. See the good in everything and move forward in the good and awesome plan that God has called me to.

Have you ever just felt like all you do is "manage?" BK and I have three small children, we are navigating a delicate time in our marriage. We are navigating through dealing with some of our own yuck and seeking God for transformation. We are learning what it looks like to work in ministry and minister to others while we ourselves are dealing with stuff. I need to support myself, keep myself healthy, support my family's health. We need more "FUN" in it! So, tis the time. To shake off the funk and step into a new day. A renewed time in our lives where we can look back and say... that was a FUN time serving God, each other and others.

We are promoting a summer of Crazy Love at our church. We are trying to love people like Jesus does. I am going to do it in fun ways, that promote good times for our famlies and kids. I can't wait. Smiling and excited. Here we go!

Saturday, June 19, 2010

My hero... my Billy - Happy Father's Day BK

This Father's Day I am going to honor a man who blows my mind. My husband. God knew when he sent Billy my way exactly what I needed. He knew I needed to learn about contentment so he sent me Bill, he knew I needed to learn about choosing my words wisely... so he sent me Bill, he knew I needed to learn about reading "directions" so he sent me Billy. He knew I needed to see what loyalty and commitment looked like so he sent me Billy.

He also knew what an amazing father this man would be to our three beautiful children. He knew exactly what kind of man my children would need to show them what a Daddy who loved them no matter what looked like.

He'll ride bikes with the kids, he shows them how to plant in the garden, he cooks with them, he does homework with them, he reads their Bible devotionals and talks to them about their faith and he prays with them. He builds forts and makes popcorn for movie nights... he laughs with them and plays with them on the trampoline. He provides and works hard and loves his family.

I have told him before but I need to tell him this Father's Day that he is such an amazing man, I love his sweet heart and the way he is a rock to my life. He is my hero, my braveheart and my knight in shining armor! I love you Billy. Happy Father's Day.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Created for such a time a this...

Did God ever take you on a journey where no matter what you did you were faced with the same thing or challenge or learning curve over and over again? God is in the business of loving me, teaching me and transforming me. In that process I see him working in my circumstances, my relationships and my life very clearly. Never in my life has it been more uncomfortable. But in this uncomfortable place, I am learning what it means to be a daughter and a child of God.

I have spent much of my life living in a codependent scenario. The role I took on as a child was the person who made, "peace." I had the "level head." I had it together... at least on the outside. On the inside I spent most of my time scrambling panicking and praying that everything I did would set things right, make my life more controllable. Make people around me more controllable or predictable so I had more control of my life. I spent time appeasing people so they could be happy. I spent time conjuring up circumstances that would make everyone "feel" good. On the outside I had all of this "control" but on the inside I was a train wreck praying each choice I made in a day would create good circumstances for myself. It is an exhausting way to live, but it is how I survived.

I can remember getting up early to make my parents breakfast hoping that if we started the day off on a good note... maybe it would stay that way. I can remember cleaning the house for my parents hoping that if the house was clean enough everyone would pull themselves together. At work I would take on a project I didn't believe in. I would agree with people when I totally felt the opposite. A lot of this codependent behavior has filtered into my professional life as well.

I would be in marketing meetings agreeing to do things I did not think were productive to the project. I would watch everyone else engage in passionate discussions about things and think... wow... this is "too" emotionally charged of an argument to have so I am just going to keep my mouth shut. I wanted everyone to be pleased with everything I did so I avoided a "confrontation" as much as possible. I thought other people's peace was more important than my own. At 39 years old I am realizing these very important things. I am thankful that God is showing me how he works in all of this so I can learn, be better and live the awesome life he has set before me.

So now, here I am family of 5, husband full time job in ministry and God is showing me what it means to speak the truth in love. Speak it so others can know where I stand. Speak it with the confidence that even if it does not make the other person "feel" good that God will take care of the other person. Speak it andave a confidence God is going to take care of ALL the details.

My best example of this is my relationship with my father. He is so sick. So broken. So toxic to me. I can't pretend anymore that the relationship I have with him is OK. It's not. It's broken, it's toxic and it's not healthy. So removing it from my life is one of the best things I can do for me and my family. Does it feel good? No. Do I feel like a bad daughter? Yes. Am I mourning the loss of that relationship? Yes. But can I say that I know God is going to take care of him and all of the details of his life? Yes.

I have this big huge awesome God who created me and this life I have. He is FOR ME... he is on MY SIDE. Is is the sin in this world that tries to kill, steal and destroy my life... NOT GOD.

The verses that keep rolling through my head are.. " I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me..." and " this is the day the Lord has made I will rejoice and be glad in it... " and " I know the plans I have for you declares the Lord, to prosper you and not to harm you to give you a hope and a future."

So as I walk in this uncomfortable place of standing up for what I believe. For speaking the things my spirit leads me to speak. For letting my yes be yes and my no be no. I will trust that although this is uncomfortable, it is EXACTLY where God has me for this time and this place and I was created for such a time as this.

Monday, May 24, 2010

What happened to my FUN?

Somewhere in the mix of ministry and family... I have lost it. Things have gotten too serious around here. I have been very preoccupied with all of the "blah" going on and the "drama" and the junk that I believe my friends I have forgotten what "fun" looks like. I've been too sad, too mad, too tired, too busy, too determined, too goal oriented to enjoy some of this ride we call life.

When BK and I talk about the "logistics" of our family... like shopping, cleaning, planning, kids school, budgets, car maintenance, etc.etc. we refer to it as "Family business." I can tell when we talk too much "business" because it's hard to laugh and joke when your talking about family business. It's the serious stuff that keeps a family rolling. Communicating about your needs, communicating about the kids communicating about the day and the plan and the stuff....ahhhhhh! It can overwork our brains!

So I am declaring this a time where I am going to dump the "business" (here and there) and think about how to "kick up" the FUN quotient in my life. Little ways I can have fun. Please dont misunderstand. I love my family, I love planning things for my family, I love taking care of family business becuase my family means so much to me. But for us, we can get very caught up in the family business so much that we have forgotten the fun. The things that once were "fun" become routine and the things that routine become boring... hence us needing fun.

I was reading on facebook that Boyz II Men were coming to a place in Minnesota to perform. I was reminded of a song called Motown Philly from my past. I LOVE THESE GUYS. They are up there with MC Hammer and Kirk Franklin's Stomp and TLC and some other oldies I used to listen to when my bangs looked like huge croissants and my eyeliner was royal blue to match my 10 speed Schwinn roadbike. :)

We are taking this vacation to Iowa. I am determined to have fun if it kills me. I am going to play jokes on kids and husband, I am going to be silly, I am going to be carefree and relax... I might even just wear the same outfit two days in a row and buy myself some royal blue eyeliner and wear it in public (my bangs are too short to tease them into crossiants... . Who knows. But I think it's time for this Mama to kick it up a notch and have some fun with my life and those around me.

Focusing on my junk takes the "fun" out of life. Focusing on the problems takes my focus off of God. I do not expect to "feel" good all the time. But I can move to a new place of fun and excitement for my life because God's plan is fun and exciting. Not boring mundane and I believe... not always serious.

For those of you who are able to keep your fun quotient going among the family business please advise. I would love to hear some stories about things you do in your families that are fun. Small things, big things, whatever. It may inspire me and I'm looking for some inspiration.

Thanks for listening. Enjoy my Boyzzzzzzzz!

Monday, May 17, 2010

Way too long...

It' been way too long since I last blogged. So I dedicating 20 minutes of my day today to update ya'll on the happenings here in Durango.

Family life is still adjusting. Adjusting to baby girl who is now 10 MONTHS OLD! Amazing. Adjusting to new home and just adjusting to being a family of five. Big kids keep getting bigger (there is no stopping them) :) And as they get bigger we will be taking them to more things. They want playdates, they are involved in sports and activities etc.etc. They like to be challenged and be outside.... so we are also adjusting to all of that. We are excited because we are taking a family trip to Iowa the first week in June to see family and friends in the midwest. Pray for us. It is an 18 hour trip. But we are excited. Billy is adjusting with his diabetes numbers. I am trying to educate myself more on what he is going through, I fear I have no clue because it is a tough thing to manage. He is daily trying to manage his blood sugar levels and really it's a hard thing to do when they can fluctuate based on so many little things. I am praying for him... praying we all adjust as God remains faithful to keep us healthy.

Ministry is amazing. We are "relaunching" the ministry on August 22nd. Lots to do and not a lot of time to get it done. I have an amazing team. I am excited to see how the new ministry is going to be received by kids and families. Fun stuff.

Grace turned 8 years old yesterday. I cannot believe how old she is! She is an amazing little girl. She had fun time celebrating her birthday with her friend Clara from school. Clara is moving to a new school next year so Grace wanted to make a memory with her before she left. She has a huge kind heart. She is always thinking of others. I am such a proud Mama of my baby girl.

Toby joined T-Ball with his buddies Katrina and Kale. HE LOVES IT! He has the gift of encouragement because as kids run to first base... he is telling them what a great hit they just made and pointsthem to 2nd base as they run. He likes to talk about his shadow as he has kids stand on 1st base and he asks them things like... what school do you go to? And.... I am 6 years old!

Josie is 10 months old. In 2 months she will be a year old! It amazes me how fast th first year passes. She is walking around grabbing onto the coffee tables, pulling herself up on everything and putting every crumb and whatever in her mouth. She laughs a lot and we swear she calls Billy Dah Dah... She is a go getter and will let you know when you have done something to upset her. She is spunky.

So I am sharing some pics... some new... some old of the kiddos. We will have lots more when we travel in 2 weeks. So I'll try to get some more out there.

I pray all my friends who read this are doing well. God bless you. :)

Monday, April 26, 2010

An encouragement...

This has been a difficult year. Can I say that? Is that ok to say? It is funny because every January 1st I always say a little prayer to God that this be a year in which I am transformed and made better. But what I really want is a year in which there will be no pain, no tears, joy all the time, no sickness, no sadness and on and on. I'm such a punk. (wink)

We are four months into this year. Much has happened to me and my friends, even my bloggy friends are enduring some of the most difficult times in their lives. Really tough stuff. Life altering things. Broken relationships, deaths, miscarriages, fires, addiction, abuse you name it... it's happening. It happens all around us every day.

But here is the good news. We all have the answer. We have the antidote to sin. He paid for all this crap (can I say crap?) on the cross! He died so we would be able to have HIM in our lives. He is walking us through it. He not only carries us... he will make something "GOOD" come of it. Here is the even better news. He is the same today a he was thousands of years ago. He will be the same God for our children and our children's children. His love is abundant, it is perfect, it is exactly what we need when we need it. He is our hope. And we don't have to do one stinking thing but call upon him. PRAY. TELL HIM WHATS UP. CRY. YELL. POUND OUR FISTS. Smile. Laugh. RAISE OUR HANDS.

He just waits for us. Patiently to lean on him. To love him back. To acknowledge He cares. We have that encouragement. Thank you God.

The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything but in everything by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving present yor requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4: 5-7

Monday, March 29, 2010

Quiet Time...

I just spent an hour in the day being quiet. Wow. How foreign. What a concept.

Don't think
Don't do
Don't accomplish
Don't perform
Don't make a list
Don't make progress
Don't have expectations
Don't judge
Don't plan
Don't explain
Don't schedule
Don't maintain
Don't understand
Don't process

It is exhausting just typing that out. I met with a very accomplished very educated and knowledgeable woman last week. She has developed very successful children's ministries. She has an amazing heart. She hears God. She loves kids and families. This friend of mine is really a divine appointment for me. She confessed to me that when she started out in ministry her entire personal life fell apart. Success for her was getting out of bed in the morning. She had a team of 75 volunteers who she was responsible to... (our team here is about 55). She spoke to me about grace what it really means... to really just cut yourself some slack. I told her I needed so badly to hear from God and what he wanted for this ministry he put me in leadership over. I told her that I am in "fight or flight" mode so for me just making a decision about what to make for dinner is hard... how the heck can I successfully run a ministry? How can I know what God wants for the ministry. There are a million things I could move forward in right now. I could pull off an amazing Easter Egg hunt, I could plan a skating night for kids, I could put a date on the calendar and call on all our servant leaders to come and "revamp" the environment for children's ministry... there are a million things I could do and believe me... I would do them well. I'm good at doing stuff.

But what does God want me to do? Am I already doing it? Is he working right now in relationships, in the hearts of people? Is this time in ministry about me working on me? Is he developing my spiritual character? Stripping me of the ability to move forward... is he asking me to move toward Him? I think so. I think he is saying stop... be quiet...listen.

Today during this 1.5 hours of quiet time... I wrote down all the "JUNK" that clogs my mind. Decisions to be made, people to talk to, appointments, moving details, family priorities, personal problems, baggage, frustrations and after I got it all out of my head... I said a short prayer. I told God I was going to listen. I told him I needed him to be clear. I told him I needed to know it was Him and not me.

After that I just laid on my couch and waited. I could hear myself breathing, then with each breath I heard Him...

I support you
I love you
I am here
It's going to be OK
I love your leaders... tell them I love them.
I love your ministry.
You are important to me.

I cry as a type because I knew with each relaxing breath I took... it was him. It was my spirit connecting with His and when I took the time to listen, God was there. He has not gone anywhere even though my crappy circumstances right now feel like he is far from me. It was like he was sitting right next to me. Breathing these quiet whispers to my spirit and my heart. What a gift. Thank you God for your quiet whispers how you love me and you tell me.

Monday, March 22, 2010

A little bit of his love

I posted a couple weeks ago how I was really wanting to understand God's love. What does it look like? How can I feel it? Can I touch it? How is it speaking to my heart and the spirit inside of me?

As I pray about it and love God in the process. I am seeing his love in so many small ways. Things I would have brushed off as cute or sweet or joyful, I now see God in it all. One of the major ways God is showing his love to me and I think for Him it just might be the best way for him to operate is by my relationships. I don't believe for one second God puts someone in your life just as a placeholder. Experiencing the love of God happens when we open ourselves up to the people he puts in our lives.

I have some of the best friends on the planet. I have known most of these people for at the most four years. They are warm, they are loving, they love God, they are obedient to the quiet way he whispers to their heart. For a long time I perceived them as a good example to me of what a Christian should look like. They are people I want to be like. There are things that I see in them that I want more than I can stand. Some of my friends have patience galore, some of them are so wise, some of them are financially blessed, but just give and give. They are constantly looking for ways to give to others. Some of them have so much faith.. it seems like "worry" is a foreign concept to them. Some of them just want to travel and go on missions and give and give to needy people. Some of them throw the best parties with the best food. Some of them are just really good at listening. Are they perfect? Uh... no. But the beautiful things I notice in all of them is so cool.

But lately, God is giving me new eyes to see how important my relationships are in my life and in him showing me his love. Relationships are elevated. Jesus didn't say, " that you know about me and what I have for you and all I have taught you, go hang out by yourself and worry about yourself and feel sorry for yourself and don't tell anyone the things that are going on in your life... keep all of it to yourself and focus inward." NO HE DIDN'T. He said... go and tell others about my love. Pray for people, heal people in my name, love your neighbor, love children, take care of widows and orphans. And how does it all get accomplished?

Through relationships. Through being honest, through accountablility, through laughter, tears, hugs, hurt, talks, food.

God gives me billboards (because I need them) this week's billboard is Jen... get off your duff... stop worrying about everything and get out there and love my children, love everyone I love. Show it to them. Be nice to them. Give them grace. Because my grace is sufficient for you. Forgive them. And watch how much I love you...experience my love through them.

Again... if there is one thing I can count on in this life it is my awesome gasp giving mountain moving awe inspiring God of the universe who is showing me his love.