Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Audios 2013!

I for one am happy to say see ya to 2013!  2013 was not all bad- challenging, emotional, hard, risky, happy, humbled, and confused, yes, but not bad. 


2014 has to be better and more definite than 2013, so I am excited to ring in the new year!  If you would have told me 10 years ago I would be where I am now, I would have laughed in your face and told you that you were crazy, and totally wrong.  But alas, we are where we are, trying to be confidently obedient in where we feel God leading us. 

A little recap of 2013-
Winter- The Ridge {our former church} had just bought it's first building and began renovating it.  In March, Eric turned 30, and I had a surprise party for him with 75 of our closest friends. 
Spring- Eric and I made the announcement that we would be leaving our current ministry to pursue something else in Ohio.  Molly had her last WI dance recital, and finished her kindergarten year.  And we also sold our house in 1 day!
Summer- We moved out of our house and started living with our best friends.  I tried to soak up as much time with friends in WI, and quit working at the real estate office.  For Molly's 6th birthday we took a trip to Chicago to experience American Girl, and Eric preached his last message at The Ridge.
Fall- We packed up like the Beverly Hillbillies- mattresses on top of the car and all, and headed east to Ohio.  Molly played soccer, we tried our hand at home schooling, Molly entered public school, we decided to not plant a church in Toledo, and celebrated the holidays with our friends and family. 

It's been one heck of a year.  I am not exactly sure what word or words to use to describe it, but I am glad to see 2013 come to a close.  Sometimes the hope and expectancy of the future is a whole lot better than reality.  So that's where I am at now, I am hoping and expecting great things in 2014.  Much love to you and yours, and Happy New Year!    

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

The Post Where I Tell You We Are Not Planting A Church...

I am a wear your heart on your sleeve, bare your emotions type of gal, for better or worse, that's who I am.  I feel convicted to be authentic because I feel like everyone has a story, and we all can learn from one another.  So when I decided to break the ice and tell you all that we were leaving Wisconsin to sail the high seas of church planting, I meant it.  We were all in.

I have started, stopped, deleted, re-typed, deleted, started again so many times on this post.  I wanted to go into great detail, I wanted to bullet point the highlights of our journey, I wanted to share my side of the story, and I wanted to ignore this mess all together.  But that wouldn't be fair to you all who have been praying for us, and also I wouldn't be true to myself by skipping over this big part of my life.

It all started when Eric and I felt an undeniable call back to Ohio last Christmas.  There was something so unsettling deep in our cores that we could not ignore.  We both felt it at the same time, and we knew we had to act.  We had no clue what we were being called back for, we knew ministry, but what did that ministry look like, feel like, and most importantly location, where in Ohio would we be going.

Probably the last 12 months of my life have been the toughest, most confusing, semi-exciting, faith building, trust learning, and down right hardest months of my life.  We felt like leaving WI things were lining up in Ohio.  Eric and I are not the people that fly on a wing and a prayer, we like planned out, scheduled, no surprises.  We are both responsible, successful, and hard working.

But since moving back to Ohio we don't feel any of those things.  Our mantra has been "we won't know until we go."  So we went, and we still don't know.

We felt like we knew, we felt like we were supposed to plant this church, we would be close enough to family, and we were going to reach unchurched people for Jesus, and in my mind things would be like a church planting fairytale.  We were going to have the life I had dreamed of in some weird church planting ministry way.  I pushed and pushed, Eric pushed and pushed, until we realized this wasn't the dream were supposed to be living out.  Sure a circle could squeeze into a square hole, it would be hard, frustrating, and not the best choice, but it could work.  But it wouldn't be the best fit.         

We are the circles going into the square, and coming to that realization, and more importantly accepting that realization was incredibly difficult.  We had to let our church planting dreams die for now.  Hopefully not forever, but for now.  I grieved the church I had imagined in my head, the people we were going to connect with, the fun staff outings were going to have, and showing my kids what it truly meant to be the hands and feet of Jesus. 

I know I don't need to clarify this, but I am going to anyways, the organization and the people we were working with have been supportive of us, and our decision.  This decision to not move forward with this particular plant was not made lightly.  Trust me, it was tempting to ignore our "this doesn't feel right" feelings in order to have a job, get a paycheck, move out of our parents house, etc.  But we couldn't, there felt like this imaginary roadblock that we physically hit everyday.  It has been tough, this decision to stay put and not go forward has affected our self esteem, our pride, our relationships.  We have felt ashamed, embarrassed, confused, mad, and sad.  But through it all, no matter how hard the day has been, we have also felt obedient.
This whole journey to answer an undeniable call on our lives, the call to move back to Ohio has been about sheer obedience.  The whole "we won't know until we go" mantra, sheerly obedience.  We keep believing in a greater plan for us, God has something more than we could ever imagine lined up for us.  And who knows if it will even be in Ohio.  Maybe the first step for us was to just simply obey, and go without knowing.

So to all of you who have asked about, prayed for, and supported us through this journey, I humbly say thank you.  On the days I could not muster up a prayer or a thought, you prayed and thought for me, you supported me, and encouraged me.  You have texted saying "this sucks" and it does.  It sucks when your dream has to die so God's plan can become a reality.  It sucks, but it also is pretty cool to look back and see where you came from, and where you are going now.  I read somewhere that "tomorrow's freedom is today's surrender."  I am learning that daily, sometimes hourly.

I guess I could sum up the last 12 months as this: obediently confused.  We know right now at this very moment we are where God wants us.  Beyond that, it's up to him to take us where we need to be, and that actually is freeing in an obediently confusing kind of way.  


Friday, December 13, 2013

Be You This Christmas Season

Sometimes God whispers thoughts into my head and I think about them and then move on.  Then he whispers at me again, and everywhere I look or how I feel are all pointing back to the original whisper.  I get to the point where I can no longer ignore what God is telling me, and I have to put it into action.  Hence this post...
I love Christmas, I really do.  I love the magic of the season, I love driving by and gawking at lights, and houses decorated so sweetly.  I love the sound of kids singing "Jingle Bells" and "We Wish You A Merry Christmas."  I love picking out the perfect gift, I love wrapping presents, I love putting up the tree, and drinking hot chocolate.  Are you catching my Christmas drift?  I love it all!

Here is what I don't love about Christmas...other people telling you how you should act, what you should or shouldn't buy, and what Christmas is really all about.

Are you scratching your head yet?

I am a Jesus lover, Christ follower, so from that perspective, I understand what Christmas is all about.  I teach my kids about Jesus during Advent, and we celebrate his birthday.  But does that mean I shouldn't buy my kids presents?  Does that mean I shouldn't serve my family and give only my fresh baked goods to my neighbors?  Nope, it doesn't.  Guess what, you can do both, and Jesus will love you all the same.

I see too many blog posts, too many Facebook status updates judging people who love doing "Elf On The Shelf", or who celebrate Santa, or who don't do things the way the author of that blog or status does, so therefore the person reading it is wrong.

Good grief, that's not what Christmas is all about.  Glad tidings you bring, comfort and joy...nope, just judgement.

I guess this post has grown out of my heart like the Grinch's, getting smaller and smaller due to ignorant, maybe not spiteful meaning but you come across that way people.  I dislike reading your posts thinking anyone who might be searching for the real reason behind Christmas, who may be searching for something beyond themselves, have now just been turned off because they feel defeated and like they don't measure up, and they are only on your second sentence.

I am all for throwing out a good challenge, telling people how your family celebrates, and what special memory you just made, but please don't make the rest of us feel like our love for presents and elves is wrong, or any less Jesus loving.

I don't come at this post lightly, I have truly fought it for 2 weeks now, but I threw in my towel and I am jumping in the ring.

So I guess I am writing to people like me, who are learning to be okay with themselves and how they celebrate Christmas.  Here's to the families that use the elf to keep the peace for one night during dinner, here's to the people who sit with their child and read books about a train going to the North Pole, here's to the parents who leave out carrots for the reindeer.  Here's to the parents who set up a nativity scene and talk about the journey Mary and Joseph went on, here's to the families that eat birthday cake on Christmas morning because it's baby Jesus' birthday!  Here's to the family that gives more than it receives, and here's to the family that is on the other end of the giving because this year has been really tough for you, and you are just scraping by.

I guess no matter how you celebrate, no matter what means you use to make a family holiday memory, keep doing it, and do it unapologetically.  Don't let anyone make you feel bad about it, especially if your kids love it.

Now if you are looking for different ways to celebrate, or different memory makers, try something new, just go for it.  And if you don't like it, try something else, or tweak your original tradition.

Maybe it's the season of life I am in, or that I am getting older, but I am learning, accepting, and growing into myself, into who God created me to be, and I am unapologetic about it.  

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Lucy Is 3!

On Monday we celebrated Lucy turning 3!  I have to admit I am having a hard time with Lucy getting older.  With Molly it just seemed to make sense, but Lucy being my baby, I don't really like it.

Lucy, you are 3, here is what you are up to...
-You weigh 42 pounds, and are 3 feet 2 inches tall
-You refuse to have anything done to your hair.  You don't like it in a ponytail, or a cute bow clipped in it.  It's down past your shoulders, and you have grown some pretty lovely curls. 
-You are the absolute definition of sweet and sassy.
-In a group of kids, you tend to be bossy, and if someone does not like your suggestion, you are none to pleased with them, and you will let them know about it.
-You would rather wear dress up clothes or a leotard and tutu than regular old clothes any day.  As I type this you are strutting around in a pink leotard. 
-You love Molly, you say she is your best big sister friend, and you miss her while she is at school. 
-You are a pretty creative kid and you have a wild imagination.  You are constantly playing something or making up a song and dance. 
-You really like water coloring and playing with play dough.
-You don't walk anywhere, you run, or skip.
-You are super opinionated, so much so, I am fearful of what will come out of your mouth in public. 
-We always say Molly is our sweet and caring child, and you are well, not so much.  You are caring in your own tough love way. 
-If looks could kill, we would be dead on a daily basis with you, sweet child.
-You have an obsession with my pimples...which by the way, I only got after birthing you! 
-You are a free spirit!
-We often hear you saying these phrases: I am just a little bit nervous, that's tricky, I have a question, actually, that's awesome, no way, it's private, and get outta here. 
-You claim you have lose teeth, you don't, but you need to get up at night to tell us that!

 We have been on the go since you came along, there is never a dull moment with you, Lucy May!  We love you, and you are the perfect fit in our family!

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Thoughts About Advent

If you celebrate Christmas you have probably heard of advent.  Advent in layman's terms are the 24 days leading up to Christmas that are supposed to help get you in the right mood to celebrate Christ's birth.  If you are on pinterest, I am sure you have seen about a million pins with crafts, books, food, fun ideas, etc. that will all help you have a rockin' advent time.

I think all of those things are great, honestly, I do, but may I suggest something different.  If you are supposed to be preparing your heart and mind for Christmas, for Christ's coming, why on earth would you stress yourself out with preparing crafts, and finding books to read every night?  I love crafts, I love books, I love movies, I love making memories, but not in the name of stress.

There are some awesome, just down right great resources out there to help celebrate advent.  I urge you to check them out, but feel no pressure to accomplish them.  I bought a great resource a couple years ago that had us doing or making something every single day.  It was great, it was helpful, but it was also stressful at times.  I found myself some nights rushing through the activity because I felt obligated to do it, yet I just wanted Molly to go to bed so badly because I was so tired from being mom all day long.  I wasn't really in the right mood, or mindset to truly get my heart prepared for advent.  And I certainly was in no place to help my child understand advent, all she understood was glue here, sparkle there, and possibly something about Jesus.

Life is stressful, kids are stressful, the holidays are stressful, why add more stress to it?  Please hear me, if you are in a position to do crafts daily, read special books, and do advent activities, please do that.  I think that is awesome.  We probably will do some special stuff, and make some special crafts.  But most nights we will be reading from the "Jesus Storybook" Bible.  We will follow this advent reading plan.

Truthfully, I don't think you have to do a reading, light a candle, or make an ornament.  Just be still, find peace, and remember. 

Remember why Jesus was sent to this earth, why he came to save us, and why God loves us so much.  Take time to bask in his grace, and enjoy his gift, his son.