Friday, August 29, 2014

The Weight of Reality

The weight of reality has been weighing heavily on my heart for quite some time.  Most of my life I have been in the bubble of false reality...almost untouchable to the things of the world.  The ugly, nasty, harmful, damaging things of the world.  As I grow in who I am, in who the Lord created me to be, I learn about and experience more of the world that He came to die for....and they weigh just as heavy on my heart as reality.

"Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus." 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

Be joyful always...ALWAYS.  

The realities in this world:  Cancer. Infidelity. Abuse. Neglect. Addiction. Fear. Death. Suicide

....the list goes on and on and on and on and on...

Be joyful always.  I've had to ponder this.  How can my friend be joyful when she's in the battle for her life as she's fighting cancer?  What is the reality of a cheating spouse?  What about the person who struggles with intense addictions to drugs or alcohol or pornography?  What about the kid who thinks the only answer is being done with life?

Be joyful always...ALWAYS.

This isn't the joyful that means having a smile on your face at all times, and a song in your heart, and a bounce in your step.  This is finding JOY in your faith...knowing that no matter what, God is there.  God is in control.  God is for you.

Pray continually.

This is how we can be joyful always.  By praying continually.  In our home, we have a prayer banner with requests on it.  I walk by it a million times a day and I'm reminded to pray for my friends, my family, myself as we face the realities of this world.  Praying continually will draw us closer to the Lord, closer to feeling His love surround and embrace us.  And when we feel that love, we have the joy of the Lord in our hearts.

Give thanks in all circumstance, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus.

Be thankful for cancer?  Be thankful for our struggles? Our fears? Our real life reality that is hard and painful and flat out not fun?  Why?!  ...for this is God's will for you...  This is how God is drawing me, us, closer to Him.  This is Him showing me, us, how if we do these things --find our joy in Him, pray continually to Him so that we know Him, thank Him for our circumstances because He reveals more of Himself to us through them -- we can fully live despite the realities of our world.

Despite my circumstances, because of my trust and love for the Lord, I will be joyful always and thankful for who I am, where I am, and the struggles I endure.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Raising Boys to Become Men

I am so blessed to be "Mom" to four children...three of which are boys.  As my oldest turned ten this past July, I can't help but wonder how in the world do Michael and I help our boys become men.  In this day and age, I've learned that statistically speaking, boys are being introduced to pornography at the age of ten.  Ten. We hit that in July.  That terrifies me.  I do not want my boys to struggle with sexual sin.  Or pride.  Or selfishness.  Or doubt.  Or a whole list of struggles that consume them and consume my heart with worry for them.  

I want them to be men of God.  
I want them to be brave and strong and courageous.  
I want them to be gentlemen.  
I want them to be protectors and providers.  
I want them to live fully as the men God created them to be.   

A few weeks back we had a small group get together and began talking about our boys.  I believe I initiated the conversation because it has been on the forefront of my thinking lately.  My Drew is surrounded by friends from church and from school.  Luckily, all of the friends he hangs out with outside of school love Jesus.  Their parents love Jesus.  And their concerns are my concerns.  

In our home, Michael and I have restrictions on devices.  We limit their exposure to technology.  We try to monitor what they watch on TV, what they listen to on the radio.  We will not allow internet access on handheld devices for our children, or their friends.  But beyond all this, I don't want to have to restrict my boys.  I want them to have a heart that longs for boundaries and does what is right, what is worthy, what is noble.  I want to teach them why we restrict and protect so that they learn to restrict and protect themselves.

I want my boys to be men.  Men of God.  Men who step up and step out to fulfill their role.  
Yes, there is maleness...this is what makes my boys boys.  
Then there is masculinity.  Masculinity is behaving like a man.

After our discussion that night at small group, the group decided to read Good: The Joy of Christian Manhood and Womanhood.  It's a compilation of writings that focus on manhood and womanhood.  I'm only four chapters in, but I'm loving it.  You can download it here:

As I read this book, I love to see how biblically our boys were created to be men and our girl was created to be a woman.  I'm excited about that.  I'm excited that God created two genders for different reasons, yet to compliment each other.  And I'm so excited that I get to have both boys and a girl to teach about manhood and womanhood. 

(*taken from Good: The Joy of Christian Manhood and Womanhood
Ch. 2 Masculinity Handed Down by Joe Rigney*)

1.  I want my sons to grow up to be true men of God -- first in, last out, laughing loudest.

2. I want my sons to embrace their calling as protectors of the weak.

3.  I want my sons to gladly submit to lawful authority.

4.  I want my sons to practice self-control for the joy in it.

5.  I want my sons to celebrate the wonders of femininity.

6.  I want my sons to put to death any vestige of false masculinity.

7.  I want my sons to see Jesus Christ as the ground and goal of their masculinity.

These aren't my words, but they are my wants for my boys...

Monday, August 25, 2014

The People

Forty seven pictures.  

I just looked through my summer trek pictures...thinking I should blog about our incredible summer.  We left here in late June.  Our first leg of the triangular trip was Kansas City to visit my brother and his family.  We had a blast there.  A complete blast.  Swimming. Eating. Talking. 
Watching the kids interact. Just being together.  

What struck me most while looking through my pictures is the people.  The people.  I have incredible people in my life.  Incredible friends.  Incredible mentors.  Incredibly co-workers.  
But I have the most incredible family.

This is what I love.  Time with cousins.  Time with Uncle Andy and Aunt Jaime. 
Meaningful time well spent TOGETHER. 
***The twins were asleep in all of these pictures...haha!!  I was trying to capture group shots.***

The second leg of our trip took us to drop Ruff off.  And here is one of the most important women in my life.  Carol is the mother-in-law you all wish you had.  She is self-less and giving.  She is helpful and loving.  She is kind and and has a heart of gold.  She serves those around her constantly.  She loves the Lord and that love penetrates every fiber of her being.  Most of all, she loves me and she loves our kids.  I am so blessed by her.

From Keller we traveled to Shreveport to be with all of my family.  The Kansas City crew came.  My parents came. It was amazing.  We haven't all been together like that in a very long time.  Too long.  Again, we ate.  We swam.  We watched movies.  We played legos. We laughed. We had fun.  So much fun because we were TOGETHER.  My kids loved being with even more cousins.  And with Uncle Matt and Aunt Lynnell.  They loved their house, their theater room, their pool!

This picture is one of my absolute favorites from the trip.  My parents with all of their grandchildren!  What a all be TOGETHER for a few days.  I hope we do this often.

 Once we left Shreveport, we headed back to DFW for weeks of fun.  Again...swimming, games, lego, laughing, eating...all TOGETHER.  My parents are amazing.  They love my kids and shower them with love and affection the entire time.  They go above and beyond to make them feel show them who they are and how they love them.  I love staying there and just being there and showing my kids my old stomping grounds.

More people.  These girls are some of my forever friends.  I go way back with these girls...way back.  And I love that they are still in my life.

Our trip was amazing.  Like I said, I have forty seven pictures I *want* to share.  They show of our adventures. :)  But today I wanted to take the time to focus on the people.  
Because they are what matter most.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Another Year...

Another school year. Time for early bedtimes, phonograms, reading every night, math facts, packing lunches, homework, new friends, new teachers, less laundry (yay uniforms!), and most's their time to SHINE!! 

One thing that we have said to our kids hundreds, possibly thousands, of times is to "be a blessing!" in all circumstances, all situations, to all people.

Isaac is now a first grader!! I'm so excited for him. He has been begging for school to start all summer. 

Well, buddy, it's time! Have a blast, and most important, be a blessing!




Noah is now a third grader. Wow! He is so inquisitive and so smart. He is gentle and kind and friends with everyone. 

Have fun, sweet boy.  Thanks for being a good friend to so many and for always being helpful. Keep it up...but most a blessing to those you encounter!

Drew is now in fourth grade. Drew has always been a leader amongst his peers. He is so well-liked and really is looked up to. I love that. 

Use your gifts in a way that glorifies the One who made you this way, my Drew.  Have a great year and most important, be a blessing to your friends, teachers, everyone!

Have a great year, my boys!!

Saturday, August 16, 2014

"…make our marriage magical…"

Besides great alliteration, I love that Michael prayed this over us the other night…"…make our marriage magical…"

I'll be honest, the last two years have not been magical.  They have been hard and we have both learned some incredible lessons.  I do feel like we are on the flip side of the hard times, and that the Lord is revealing to us a healthier, fresher, more exciting marriage than ever before.   But to make it magical?  I like that.  I like that a lot.  And that is what I'm striving for…a magical marriage.

Just thought I'd throw that out there…