Broken Together

I feel like I need to start out by saying that I am WAY out of my league here. I haven’t spent hours upon hours researching and I don’t even watch the news anymore because it brings me to into a state of depression and sadness that I can’t handle in my life.

That being said, I clearly don’t need to watch television to know that our world is crashing. It used to be that we were at war with others, but now we are at war with ourselves. We are literally killing our own on a daily basis.

I lay awake at night and try to make sense of this tragedy that has become our constant reality and I cry. I cry because I am so overwhelmed with emotion. I think this country is overcome with emotion as well, and that primary emotion is fear.

The media is breeding fear in us and it’s like a wild fire. The words I’m hearing and the photos I’m seeing are sending different messages.  Images leave more of a lasting impression on our brains and the photos being shown are making us pick sides. I don’t want to pick black or blue, I want to pick Jesus.

While fear is supposed to be a vital response to protect ourselves, it is not supposed to control us. We were never created to be the same. Never meant to look alike or act alike, only to love alike. Even though our differences are meant to be great assets in the Kingdom of God, we are becoming fearful of those who are not like us.

We are forgetting that God made us all precious in His sight. We are forgetting what we are told in Matthew 22:37-39 “Jesus replied: ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’”

We were never told to only love those who share the same skin color, or religious belief, or lifestyle. We were never told to only love those that share the same political views or same way of thinking that we do. There were never any “outs” given to us. We are called to love and when we begin to love this world will start falling back together piece by piece.

“There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear.” John 4:18

Our new normal of tragedy isn’t a race problem, it’s a heart problem. Instead of letting your heart fill with fear, fill your heart with the One who goes before you. We don’t need people to take matters into their own hands; we need people to trust and put matters into the hands of God.

PLEASE PRAY! Pray big audacious prayers for God to stop the violence. Pray for love to replace fear in our lives. Pray for hearts to turn from darkness to light. Pray for this country to stand upon the only word that sets men free. Pray that other Christians would have the courage to speak what God puts on their hearts so we can see Him move throughout this country and learn how to be broken together.

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There are no medals for being a mom

There are no medals for being a mom. Well actually this doesn’t only apply to moms; there are no medals for being a strong woman either.

The first week of January was completely exhausting to me.

It started out with an outdoor hockey tournament 45 minutes from home (can we say brr), a horse show, and two regular hockey games.

Monday brought a full week of working in the second grade classroom for one of my college courses as well as the start of homeschool after a fantastic Christmas break.

First of all, anyone who is in the classroom teaching after a sizeable break deserves a medal! When those children come back to school they are full of energy and life, and LOTS of stories. They pretty much NEVER. stop. talking!

Its crazy fun to hear about all of the experiences that they have over break. They will tell you about how the baby brother isn’t sleeping well enough for mom, how they went to the bowling alley for the first time, how they traveled to see family in other states, how they loved their presents, and how they want to go home and ride their new four-wheeler pretty much right now.

Active listening can be tricky when you are trying to teach a lesson though. It can also be slightly overwhelming when you are trying to give every one of the 25 students what they need emotionally while still trying to accomplish some shred of academics. If I’m feeling the pressure I can’t imagine how the classroom teacher feels!

Pair second grade with homeschool. Starting up after break is tricky. The littlest one just wants to play all day and the older two need help with their math. I must also sneak in teaching language arts and helping the oldest study for his World Religions exam. Can I just say I am so thankful that co-op doesn’t start for another couple of weeks?

Now that I’ve spent most of my day educating, I also have people here who think they should eat dinner. Since I haven’t accomplished my goal of meal planning yet, it becomes a scavenger hunt every single night.

I decide to declare it “clean out the freezer” week because I hadn’t been grocery shopping in weeks and it was too cold to go now. It sounds easier than meal planning but it starts to require major creativity near the end! What kind of meal can I make with 20 bags of frozen veggies??

I’m feeling like my week is pretty full already but now we add in hockey practices for two boys. Oh, and how could we forget the house? It requires attention too. Laundry, dishes, vacuuming…all those chores that are only ever done for about 3 minutes.

As I sit to rest and scroll through a few pictures from the week I stop on one picture of the littlest with his tournament medal. Can I just say that he is so stinkin’ cute? Anyway, I think about all that I accomplished for the week and I wonder where my medal is.

I was in a classroom of second graders by 8am every day; I curled my hair, put on makeup, wore dress pants, and packed my own lunch. I facilitated homeschool every afternoon, put food on the table, and kept my home in an acceptable state. I read with the kiddos, watched a couple shows with my man, and finished reading my book.

All of this was done while having my period and I didn’t receive one medal. Not one!

My littlest receives a medal just for showing up. Where’s mine? I felt I showed up in a big way this week.

Embarrassingly enough, I actually dwelt on this for a couple days. I guess I don’t actually NEED a medal, but where’s my reward? Shouldn’t we women be rewarded for these things that we do? Especially when these busy weeks coincide with THAT week. Accomplishing anything THAT week can be like climbing Mt. Everest.

After thinking about this for some time I realized that I have been given more rewards than I can even count. Sure I can’t collect them and put them on display in my room, but they are there.

I’ve been rewarded with a husband that goes into work late so that the kids aren’t alone all day, I’ve been rewarded with kids that sometimes tell me I’m the best, I’ve been rewarded with a mother that folds my laundry when she visits, I’ve been rewarded with father that takes my kids overnight on Sundays so I can have some time for school on Monday mornings (bonus: now Sundays have turned into date night), I’ve been rewarded with grandparents who invite us over for dinner at the perfect times, I’ve been rewarded with friends that offer to take taxi shifts for hockey, I’ve been rewarded with a sister-in-law that welcomes my daughter into her home and also feeds her passion of horses, and best of all; I’ve been rewarded with the strength and courage to tackle these days.

I get all of this plus the unconditional love of Jesus.

What I get is far better than a medal.

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Sitting on the kitchen floor

We’re hosting family this weekend for Christmas so I figured I better get started cleaning the house. I try not to let my house get too out of hand but let’s be real, I live with three boys (one of them may be older than me) and things just don’t. stay. clean.

My hubby helped me get to a superficial clean last night and I was happy to see it when I woke this morning but that quick glance clean just doesn’t seem to be enough for a Jesus birthday party.

When I really need to clean I know I need to sit on the floor. I would be slightly embarrassed to tell you how long it took to figure this trick out. If you’ve never sat on your kitchen floor, you must. And your first time definitely shouldn’t be alone. I wish I would have brought a bottle of wine with me my first time!

Sitting on the floor gives you a whole new perspective. It’s almost like a view from another world.

The first time I sat on my kitchen floor and looked around I didn’t know whether I was going to throw up or cry. It was so messy and I didn’t understand how it had gotten that way. I clean up after dinner, I sweep the floors, I run a mop through every once and a while.

This slow accumulation of spilt milk, a few drips of pancake mix and a little dust really added up to a whole mess I never even realized existed until I happened upon by chance one day.

As I was sitting on my kitchen floor tonight I was thinking about how important it is to take on a new perspective every now and then. How important it is to try to see things from a different point of view.

One day this summer I passionately confronted my husband and told him that I wanted him to send me messages while he was gone at work. I told him it hurt that he didn’t think about me throughout the day or care enough to make some type of contact. I’m not completely sure what set me off this day but I was clearly upset.

He responded by telling me that he did think about me when he was gone sometimes but ultimately he was focused on work. He asked “don’t you want me to focus when I’m at work?”  He also said this: “I don’t know why you’re mad, when you text me I always text you back.”

Talk about things that make you go “hmmm.”

I was so wrapped up in my own perspective of “getting ignored” that I didn’t realize that there could be a very good reason why he wasn’t texting me during the day. That very good reason happened to be that he was actually working when he was at work.

Once I looked at the situation from his point of view, I saw it in a whole new light.

My passion of this small issue was brought on by not noticing the little things that were building up. They had been left unattended until they turned into a big mess.

I find that if I sit on my kitchen floor every month or so I can really keep things in check. With just a little attention, just a short time with a different perspective, I can keep it from getting overwhelming and out of hand.

I’ve recently learned that this principle holds true for my marriage as well. If I step back every now and then and try to see things from a different perspective I often see that the situation isn’t always as it first seemed.

I challenge you to sit on your kitchen floor this week.

Get a different perspective on a relationship or an issue that’s important to you.

Pay attention before a few little things turn into a whole mess of overwhelming things.

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I Finally Saw the Sign

So I wrote my first post and then attended a writer’s conference. And just in case you haven’t noticed, my blog has been blank ever since. I actually have a saved Word document titled “Post in Progress” and I haven’t made a stitch of progress on that post in almost 2 months.

I think of writing often but I just couldn’t get a grip on where my space was supposed to be. What part of the web was meant to hear from me? What was I created to write about? I so badly wanted my words to be a gift that glorified His name and I felt unworthy of that task. I haven’t read the Bible cover to cover (or even most of it actually). I don’t have the perfect verse to share for every situation. I can’t preach to you and tell you that you are just like this character from the Bible because I don’t know them all.

The fact that I don’t know everything has been keeping me from sharing anything.

I let fear take over my heart instead of trusting that God would bring the words to me when I needed them.

The ironic thing is that I attended a conference session of Melanie Dale’s where she discussed how we weren’t all called to write beautifully artistic words like Ann Voskamp. God has given us our own style and although everything we are going to say has likely already been said, no one will say it just like we can. Why am I feeling that I’m not capable of this gift just because my words will flow differently than someone else’s?

There are people that need my slight adjustment of details to feel connected. There are people who need the perspective that only I can provide. There are people that God has sent for me to reach. There are people that will read my words, His words, and sigh a gentle “me too.”

A small miracle happened on Thanksgiving morning. A few small words spoken to me that took a while to really sink in. They found me alone in the kitchen and sent me into such a profound reflection that my knees actually hit the ground and I had tears streaming down my face.

When I finally gained just a tiny snippet of composure I heard these words on the radio “If I told you my story, you would hear hope…that wouldn’t let go.”  “To tell you my story is to tell of Him.”

It may have taken me a while to see my sign but I see it now. I was created to write my story. When I tell you my story I tell of Him and that is how I glorify His name.

It’s a bit intimidating to think of all the words that will be written in this space. Heck, it’s even a little scary to think about the words that I will be called to write and how much I will be lead to reveal.

My mess was meant to be a message. It’s time to start sharing it.

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In the beginning

So I’m heading to a blogging conference tomorrow and I figured it might be time to actually start a blog. Procrastination is one of my strengths; let’s just get that out there right now. Although I didn’t have a blog when I purchased my ticket I really felt like God was telling me to take that leap of faith and surround myself with hundreds of Christian women who are also writing for Him in some form.

I have always loved writing but I have never thought of it as anything more than a hobby until now. See I’m one of those thirty-somethings that still isn’t 100% sure of what they want to be when they grow up.

Growing up I always loved children and thought I should be a teacher. Then I had my first child and thought I would love to go into a field helping pregnant women. Becoming a doctor was definitely too much work but I thought being a doula would be great. Fast forward to my second child who struggled with breast-feeding so I thought I should be a lactation consultant. Add in the time when Pinterest blew up and I thought I surely wanted to be a wedding planner after seeing all of those amazing wedding ideas and not being able to put on my own wedding every weekend. Oh; and then there was the time that my hubby bought me this amazing camera because I’m OBSESSED with photos and thought I would make a great photographer. Oh, (last one) then there was the thought that I could be a marriage counselor. Mostly because I have a fierce passion for marriage and I felt that I could relate to all the less than perfect wives and tell them “me too.” Ok seriously, last one…then I started homeschooling and fell in love with spreading the news that there are options out there and you don’t need to do what the Joneses are doing unless it’s actually what’s best for your family.

I’m sure by now you are thinking “just pick something already!!”

I was a stay at home mommy while all these thoughts were going through my head. I LOVED staying home with my children but there was always a little part of me that felt like something was missing. I wasn’t connecting with the outside world in a way that fulfilled me.

After an enormous amount of reflection in the past year, it finally dawned on me that what I am passionate about isn’t just one of those jobs in particular. I’m passionate about empowering women. I’m passionate about working it out together. I’m passionate about raw emotion and brutal truth. I’m passionate about building connections.

I want to connect with the brides. I want to connect with the mothers and the mothers-to-be. I want to connect with the wives. I want to connect with the Betty Crockers and the Chef Boyardees. I want to connect with the homeschoolers, the public schoolers, the private schoolers, and the charter schoolers. I want to connect with the Jesus lovers. I want to connect with the less than perfect and the broken hearted. I want to connect with you!

I pray that one day, right here, we will have a community where we can tell our deepest darkest secrets and someone will say “me too.” I want this to be a community where we can lay it all out there and know that we’re not alone.

While thanking someone for a gift that they had sent to a family in need, I heard one of the most profound things I’ve ever heard. When I told this wonderful woman “thank you” she simply responded “God told me to.” I’ve thought about this simple exchange so many times and I keep thinking “I want to be that woman! I want to take action simply because God to me to.”

Here I am God. I heard you call out to me. I see the purpose behind my passions now. The story that you have created for me is one that you want to be heard.

I am answering His call.