Intentional

I haven’t written in a while. I started a 31 day series and never finished it.

I have excuses but the truth is I just didn’t have the heart to finish it.

I am a mom of three daughters. They will be 15, 13 and 11 this year. They are great girls.

But can I tell you something? It isn’t easy. The world we live in is hard to go against the

flow. I feel like I am always picking my battles and finding that I am being judged when

I choose not to battle. Somethings, are best left to learn on their own.

There are many times I feel alone in this parenting gig. It is almost

like  parents have this understanding that once our kids hit a certain age, we all

go silent. We stop talking. And we struggle in silence.

Well, I am hoping that we here in this place can change that. I have all intentions of

writing about mothering teens. I won’t tell you things that will embarrass them but

I’ll write about things that work in my family with my girls. Hopefully, we can help

each-other out and open up about parenting.

Some will argue that cell phones and social media are bad, while I agree, thinking

your kid won’t have a cell phone isn’t real life. It’s not real parenting. I am not here

to argue over cell phones. I am here to tell you things that work in our family. For the

record I am not one to spy on my kids and sneak to look  at their phones.

I feel it breaks down the trust between us. However, they know when I ask to see

their phones, they have to hand them over. 

This winter break I desperately wanted to make memories with my girls. I didn’t want

another break to go by without being intentional about our time together. But it is hard

to make memories that don’t cost a lot or involve the mall or a movie.

I picked up a puzzle when I was out one day.I don’t know why that sentence sounds off.

But you get the drift. I bought a puzzle when I was at Target one day.

My first thought was they will never do this with me. They will think it is babyish. As a

mom of teens you get used them shutting down all your ideas.

One Sunday it was snowing and there wasn’t any plans that day and everyone looked

bored out of their ever-loving minds.There is only so much T.V. one can watch.

I took a chance and invited them to do the puzzle with me. Either out of

boredom or humor they came and  started the puzzle with me. To my surprise they didn’t

pick up their phones once. Now,  I won’t lie there was some arguing about how to put it

together, but God help me we kept going, I was determined to make this a memory.

That is until we found out there was some missing pieces. Isn’t it ALWAYS like that???

Life it doesn’t always go as planned and having teens has taught me to go with the flow.

After we picked up the puzzle, laughing that it was missing pieces. I thought we are onto

something here. No phones. Laughing. Connecting.

That same day at Target I had also picked up a new game called Scribble Heads.

I don’t know if you know about it but it is hilarious. It comes with a small wipe board

that you place around your head. Without looking at the board, you are to draw what is on

the card. Everyone has to guess before time runs out.

When I bought up if we should play it they were excited.

We ended up playing and laughing and having fun. Then something strange happened. I

mean really strange for teens. They had friends over the other day and they pulled out the

board games  and played for hours. I was so excited I texted my friend.

After I texted  her  I stood there in the kitchen staring at them like I was weird but I

couldn’t believe my eyes. Teens playing Battleship. Not even the cool electronic one. The

old boring one. The one I bought at a garage sale!

See, here is the thing. Our kids are craving connection. They just don’t know how to

go about getting there.They have no direction. We haven’t taught them how to connect.

They know how to get followers and likes on Instagram and they

know all the new SnapChat filters, but they do not know how to connect without their

phones. It seems like a no brainer when I look at how board games and puzzles were a tool

in getting our girls to connect without phones but we often forget that simple things

have a lot of value.

 

 

 

 

 

He accepts us as we are.

Matthew 8:5

When he entered Capernaum, a centurion came to him.

There is so much in these few verses about the centurion that came to Jesus because his servant was ill.

First, we must understand that Capernaum is the town Jesus lived in. And a centurion is a Roman officer that has about 100 men under him. Or in other words, he commands a 100 men.

I love this story. The officer is humble and Jesus is amazed at his faith.

Does it get better than that? Yes.

See, Rome was at its peak when Jesus lived. They controlled everything and everyone.

And they were a little proud of themselves. And brutal. They also weren’t afraid to show how brutal they were. When they over powered their enemies they often had parades. Showing off their slaves and possessions they stole. It was a celebration.

 

And a centurion wasn’t just any officer, he had climbed the ranks to become a centurion. Chances are this centurion did his far share of killing people and probably not to kindly.

So we see this officer coming to Jesus. Picture this. A Roman officer. You would be able to tell by his clothing  and people that surround him that he was an officer, comes to Jesus. A Jewish citizen who had nothing fancy about him.  Jesus never turns him away.

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The officer is desperate and at the end of his rope, finds Jesus.

The thing I find interesting is that Jesus heals his servant and is amazed at his faith but never asks him to stop being an officer. He never tells him that he has to change to in order for the miracle or we don’t see Jesus condemning him for his title.

Jesus knew this man’s heart and where others judged him just by his rank and success Jesus never does. The world it judges us by what it wants to see. I’ll take it a step further sometimes, we Christians judge Christians who might be wealthy, in a higher social class or in jobs we think are Christian enough , we believe that everyone must be poor and give up everything in order to show that we have a faith but  Jesus never tells anyone they must be a certain way to come to him and he never judges what man judges.

 

Trustworthy

I don’t know about your family but when mine is hungry and tired the incredible hulk comes alive in them. The only way to tame the beast is food and rest. Mostly food.

Am I right? This is why I pack snacks for when we travel out-of-town. I want to be sane when we get there.

Not only does food sustains us, it also provides nutrients to help us function. Without food our bodies can’t function.

“He fasted for forty days and forty nights and afterwards he was famished. The tempter came and said to him”… Matthew 4:2 (NOAB)

Jesus was hungry when he was tempted.

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Have you ever thought why Jesus instead of starting his ministry went and fasted and allowed himself to be tempted? Let’s be real here. Why in the world would he allow this?

 

I’ve read that he needed to be tested before God could use him. Possible but He is GOD. Why would God need to test himself?

I’ve read about how the temptations are symbolic, I see that. Each temptation is something we all struggle with here on earth.

I’ve read about how he is a personal God that can relate to what we struggle with and give us a way out.

All of these are possible reasons and I can’t argue with them but I can’t help but to think there is something a little more in the meaning.

I was wondering how many people you trust?

Take a moment and count them.

Why don’t we trust people?

I can count on my hand the number of people I trust.

And not only trust but trust they don’t intentionally hurt me. Trusting people is trusting they won’t break you apart and do you harm.

Even with that low number– those people have let me down and hurt me. Now, I know they didn’t mean to because they love me but the fact is they did.

They aren’t perfect.

 

When Jesus allowed himself and practically put himself in the desert to be hungry and tested.

I can’t help but think we were on his mind.

When he didn’t sin in the temptations he showed us he was perfect.

(I know that this also is for the point that he could pay for our sins on the cross.)

And in showing us he was perfect he was showing us we could trust him.

Maybe he knew there were going to be times that we would wonder if we could trust him.

Maybe he knew we were going to need this reminder of who he is when life gets cloudy and we can’t see clearly.

In the desert he shows us his character right away.

He shows us that we can trust him with our hearts and lives because His is perfect.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The pauses of Jesus…

 

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A 31 day series.

I wasn’t intending to do a 31 day series.

Actually, I had given up writing and blogging all together. So, when I felt this tug to write I ignored it until September 29th two days  before 31 days starts.

I have to give you a little back ground on how this series started. It started last year, when we decided to move our family about an hour away. It was just far enough to have to start all over. For the most part it has been a blessing. One of my daughter’s anxiety attacks have decreased, mostly because of the move. My family is thriving and doing well.

And on the other hand it has been a really hard year. Between my husband and I- we’ve had five family deaths. In the beginning of the year, I  found out I had six other siblings ( this wasn’t a hard but a surprise) and that lead me to reach out to my “dad” I hadn’t talked to in 32 years. Needless to say, it went as I expected and we have no relationship. I won’t bore you with all of our hards because I know everyone has their hards. Everyone has struggles and heartaches and times where they are thrown into pits that they aren’t sure how they got in.

I’ve learned when you are struggling and hurting people say really hurtful things.

I don’t think it is because they mean to-I think they are trying to comfort but in reality they are making it worse. I know I’ve done it. I’m sorry friends.

Which brings me to this series.

People said all sorts of theology to me.

Some, I heard all my life- “This is God’s will and part of His plan”. Or my favorite “Everything happens for reason.”

I don’t really take notice of these statements until I did and I stopped.

I questioned if my cousin and her baby passing was really part of God’s plan?

If reaching out to my “dad” had a reason or not.

These  questions drove me to search out answers, I know you are laughing.

I’m sure you’ve had all those questions too, I am sure you came to where I am…

I came up with no real answers and when I come up with no answers, I clear the plate of what I know and start over. I forget what was taught to me and what others say and I start…

With Jesus.

Jesus tells us that if we know him we know the Father. ( John 14:7)

What better place to know God and His will than to know Jesus?

So that is where I started.

This is a personal journey friend, it won’t be fancy or full of pictures, it probably will have grammar mistakes and spelling mistakes, I hope you can look past that. This is a journey of letting go and getting to know Jesus. I may not even come away with any real answers but I hope we walk away more in love with Jesus than ever before. Join me?

A little legal disclaimer. I am not a theologian, I never went to seminary.

Day 1: Trustworthy

Day 2: Not for His glory

Day 3: He accepts us as we are

Day 4:

Day 5:

Day 6:

Day 7:

Day 8:

Day 9:

Day 10:

Day 11:

Day 12:

Day 13:

Day 14:

Day 15:

Day 16:

Day 17:

Day 18:

Day 19:

Day 20:

Day 21:

Day 22:

Day 23:

Day 24:

Day 25:

Day 26:

Day 27:

Day 28:

Day 29:

Day 30:

Day 31:

 

 

Lift:

It’s been  awhile since I have written and last week I joined up again  with the FMF group.Oh, how I miss this community of writers that bravely share their hearts in five minutes. We’d love for you to join us. Click here.

 

It’s been about a year and half I ran my last race. That race did me in.

Fifteen miles, along the shore line of Chicago sounds wonderful in October when you sign up. We had just ran our best half marathon a month earlier– we might have been a tad bit confident.  BUT  it’s horrible in January.  With the temps under zero and  the wind that blows off the lake.

Even though there were warnings about the dangers of the weather my friend and I decided that we were going to brave the elements and still run it. We were ready with all our cold gear. Nothing could defeat us.

We laugh at it now, but it was the hardest race I’ve done. So hard that I took a year and a half off from running.

Our outer layers felt like weights, and each step was agonizing.

We never took into an account that we would sweat and our sweat would turn into ice. 

It was that race that made me realize maybe that is not the word, maybe its more like I lived and experienced –how much we really need each other.

Every time I wanted to give up she would encourage me to make it to the next mile marker.

Every time she wanted to walk, I would encourage her to make it to the next mile marker.

There was no getting out of it, to make it to the finish line we had to run each mile…

 

There were four  friends, they did all they could to heal their friend.

When they saw there was no way in…

They went to desperate measures of lowering their friend down through the roof to experience Jesus.

To witness a miracle.

I can only imagine the joy they felt seeing their friend walk. We want to rush right past the part of these friends had to bend low and carry their friend up the stairs.

We rush miracles and finish lines.

 

We want to skip the part of lifting others. In walking with them. In struggling with them.

These friends– they knew the value in lifting others. 

They knew that joy would soon follow.

They had hope.

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Happy

It’s been months since I have written and shared a post. Honestly, I’m scared. The last few posts I wrote, I received some messages and harsh comments– that I stopped writing, closed my blog and moved over here, where no one could read my words.

I might have told myself that God told me to stop writing  but really I think I was guarding my heart with a wall.  God is so good– that He allowed me to say it was Him, when it was me the whole time. He knew my heart needed a break and some healing and He was willing to take the blame until I was ready.

It’s been so long I am  not even sure I know how to link up anymore. Or how to comment. But here goes:

 

Happy. It isn’t something I was raised thinking God wanted for us.

I was always told to carry my cross and follow Jesus. And in doing so life would be hard.

My view of God has always been, that He was a controlling mean God that brought hard

situations in my life to teach me things. Maybe you understand what my words

are lacking. Maybe you too where brought up thinking God was a mean teacher that

needed to teach us lessons and  the thought of Him wanting us to be happy never

crossed my mind. Don’t get me wrong. I believe that God uses every heartache and tragic

situation for our good,  but I am starting to wonder if He really brings it on us?

We are currently in a heartache. My cousin just lost her life tragically at 41. And two weeks

before she passed away,she lost her son. Two family deaths in two weeks. Does God really

cause death to teach us things? Or is He a loving God that cries with us?

God, He is breaking every view I have of Him. I’m so glad He is.

 

When I started to read Jennifer Lee’s Happiness dare book. ( You must get this book.)

I started to wonder.

And I started to ask. Does God really want us to be happy?  What makes me happy?

When was the last time I was really happy?

Those questions alone make me happy.

Last night I sat at the desk, trying to write down my three gifts of the day.

It is hard somedays. I wrote– “I am thankful for that the dishwasher was empty”.

That was it my friends. The dishwasher was empty.

I went to bed feeling guilty. Shouldn’t I be more grateful? After all Jesus died for me.

 

This morning  I woke up to peace and God telling me that he was glad too that the

dishwasher was empty. He knew it was a hard day and my being happy about the

dishwasher being empty made Him happy.

Then I asked Him, “Please remind me of the things that make me happy”?

 

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Writing. Remember when you blogged? That community of friends made you happy.

Photography. Remember when you would  take pictures just to take pictures because it

made you happy? And the list went on and on…

 

So my five minutes is up. But before I go I encourage you to pick up Jennifer’s new book

and ask God to remind you what makes you happy.

 

 

 

 

 

I don’t have answers:

It’s been four months since I have written. My heart needed a break.

I wondered if I would write here in this place again.

I have many words and none at all. Somehow all at once.

 

 

There was a time in my life I thought I knew it all. Now, I know I really know nothing.

I don’t know why tragic things happen in life.

I don’t even want to guess an answer.

 It’s been a hard year.

I won’t go through all the details but I see you nodding your head.

It’s been hard for you too. I know it has friend.

My cousin passed away the other night, two weeks after her baby boy was born stillborn.

There are no answers. There are no words.

 

 

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We need to get to a place in our lives: that we are okay with not having answers.

It doesn’t mean our faith is weak.

 

 

Life is messy and painful and beautiful; that it often takes your breath away.

It is sunsets and sunrises.

It’s new buds on a tree and leaves that fall.

It’s birth and death.

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Life is a moment.

A brief moment.

And in this blink of  a moment, let us not try and answer the why’s

because when we try to answer the why’s, we minimize pain.

We shrink it down to a level that we feel we can tuck away.

And we can’t and we shouldn’t.

 

In our moments of why’s– let us sit and feel the pain.

Let us listen to each other and when we can, lighten the burden not with words but deeds.

Let us have space in our calendar that has room for others.

Let us show up and be close.

So close that it is uncomfortable

in order that we can truly say God is close to the broken hearted and binds up their wounds.

 

 

 

 

I sat at the desk , my daughter’s desk that I use until we can get a real office desk. It’s black in color and just the right size to hold my computer and text books. That day I sat there looking at the numbers and ran my finger over them. Friends had prayed courage over me and into me. But I wasn’t sure that I really had it in me. After one last deep breath I finally dialed the number.

Sometimes, reaching out isn’t for us but for the other person. 

Sometimes, it is to give them the chance to say what they need to say.

Sometimes, it is freedom for them.

It’s been 32 years since I have talked to my  dad.

I am still processing the conversation and his voice. Someday, I’ll write about it. Right now it is all a little raw and there are parts of my soul that can’t put into words what it feels like. There is one thing I can say for certain after these few weeks of re-playing the conversation.

God’s timing is perfect and God hears our prayers.

Even if it was a prayer you stopped praying long ago.

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I remember– I had just turned eighteen and graduated high-school. Another year went by. Another milestone went by, another birthday went by. And I wondered if he ever thought of me or wanted to know me or what was wrong with me that he didn’t want me.

Time went on and I finally stopped asking and wondering and wanting to know the man that was my dad. I stopped praying for my dad.

I had to move on, I had to let go. I had to forgive, because…

My identity had become– “you’re not wanted.”

It was plastered on my forehead and I wasn’t even aware of it.

I spent years trying to prove I was good enough.

And it was killing me.

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It was time to forgive and fully live.

It was time to see myself as God saw me.

 

32 years later I don’t believe those lies. And I know it is because of God.

Sure, there were times I wondered if I would ever be healed this side of heaven.   I would make some progress and then just as the enemy would love, someone would make an unaware comment and it would leave me swirling and working to prove I was good enough.

It wasn’t until that phone call a few weeks ago, that I had seen I was healed. It was ever so slow that I didn’t even know and there were times that I’ll be honest, I’d cry out and plead with God to heal me, to not let me struggle with this my whole life.

When the call ended all I could think was if  this happened any earlier in my life I would have been crushed But because my identity no longer says “not wanted” but “loved” I was able to stand.

As the call ended my heart broke into a thousand little pieces not because of rejection but because my dad needs freedom and Jesus.

Which brings me to my knees praying  for my dad again.

 

What small doesn’t mean

Last fall we drove past miles and miles of corn fields for the girls to com­peted in a one day competition.

A one day com­pe­ti­tion, great I thought to myself,

We will be in and out and home before dinner.

No hotels, no eat­ing fast food.

No awful ice rink cof­fee and no wor­ry­ing about who would take care of the dog.

Sign them up.”

 

Most com­pe­ti­tions we go to are a few days long, most times my hus­band can’t make them because they start mid-week.

And they are huge. With two rinks being used and hun­dreds of skaters,

it can be  overwhelming.

Nor­mally, the girls com­pete against nine to eleven girls but at this

com­pe­ti­tion there was only a hand few of competitors.

My girls were a lit­tle con­fi­dent that they would do just fine and have a spot on the podium,

that is until they competed.

They came off the ice a sur­prised that this small com­pe­ti­tion was in fact really hard and the skaters were really good.

And they were nervous.

Right­fully so.

 

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Because  small doesn’t mean you are weak.

Or bad.

It also doesn’t mean that you can’t touch someone’s life.

Or that you are not influential.

Or that your voice doesn’t matter.

Or that you aren’t good.

 

 

I have it saved on my phone. This one minute mes­sage from a friend.

Just a small sim­ple mes­sage. Noth­ing grand or huge.

But in it is a whole heap­ing of encouragement.

I haven’t lis­tened to it since the day she left it but I smile when­ever I see it.

 

 

It is the small things that are the most powerful.

The most life changing.

 

An open letter to my daughters

Dear Pre­cious Daughters,

To the ones that grew my belly big­ger and that I couldn’t wait to hold in my arms.

To the ones I see each week, with our hearts con­nect­ing as we look for ways to serve.

To the ones I hold dear to my heart as I watched you spread your wings and fly.

 

You came home ask­ing me about it.

I know some of your friends have seen it and  some of your friends moms.

They have made it a girls night out.

Gig­gling and act­ing as if this is no big deal.

You’ve seen the commercials.

 

What is sex and a play room?

You asked. I gulped.

 

 

You and  I are open about things and we dis­cuss a lot of hard places.

And this is one of those hard places.

 

I get this whole Fifty Shades of Grey. I do.

We all want a man to make us his whole life.

Even if it is twisted and messed up and dressed up.

We want to be every­thing to him.

We want to be the ones that he changes for.

 

But a real woman.

Doesn’t want to be his whole everything.

A real woman knows that only God can change a heart.

A real woman wants her man to make God, his everything.

 

A real woman also knows that she is com­plete in Christ.

And doesn’t need a man to be whole.

A real woman knows that just because she is not mar­ried or dat­ing it doesn’t mean there is some­thing wrong with her.

A real woman respects her­self and knows she is wor­thy because she is a daugh­ter of Christ.

 

She is con­fi­dent in the gifts and tal­ents that God has given her.

And she boldly uses them.

 

And lets talk about sex.

A real man, a man who loves you, knows that great sex. (In mar­riage let’s be clear on that).

Starts out side of the bedroom.

He knows that he will never com­plete you and doesn’t try to.

He knows that only God can do that.

He lays down his life in order to cheer your dreams on.

He wants you to use your gifts your tal­ents for God.

And when things lead to the bedroom.

He only wants to please you, he doesn’t care about his desires.

He wants noth­ing more than for you to enjoy yourself.

And if you have come from a place where sex was forced or abused,

he will walk down that heal­ing path with you.

It would break his heart if he hurt you or degraded you in any way.

He wants only for you to feel safe and cherished.

Sex is amaz­ing and won­der­ful if it treated as a gift.

I’m not say­ing sex has to be boring.

But sex would never make you feel less than, or that you are not wor­thy, loved or cherished.

 

Real love.

It’s more than sex and mak­ing out.

Real love.

Wipes snotty noses and changes dirty dia­pers, buys tam­pons when you run out.

Real love, fights and is messy and may scream and yell

but it also for­gives and doesn’t hold grudges.

Real love burns din­ner and sets off the fire alarms.

Real love for­get to buy milk and toi­let paper and hits the mail­box with her car.

Real love holds each oth­ers hands under the sheets and prays.

Real love holds you in bed when your scared.

Real love gives back rubs when you know he can’t sleep.

Real love is not the movies.

But it is real life and it is daily lay­ing down your life for each other.