Archives for March 2012

9 Blogs Worth Reading

About a month ago I got tagged in a favorite blogger dealio and now it’s time to return the link love.  So here is my shout out and THANK YOU to my nine favorite bloggers who inspire me every day.  Please check out their very unique sites and I hope you enjoy them every bit as much as I do.

9 Blogs Worth Reading

These Bones Cry Out  This young lady –Katelyn Beth reposted one of my purity blogs and I stumbled upon her website.  I was instantly hooked!  Like Starbucks, Pinterest and for the love of Target hooked.  Katelyn is an untraditional blogger, more of an idea catcher really, but this gal ignites the internet with her flow of thoughts.  She is raw, passionate about Christ, and whimsical.  Katelyn posts pictures, articles and quotes throughout the day and I can’t wait to open up my RSS feed for more. 

Donald Miller  This dude is one of my favorite writers and I love the dialogue on his blog. The community and buzz following him is entertaining in and of itself.  Miller’s site is geared for smart people who love Jesus, those who fight against religious mumbo-jumbo and strive for artistic excellence within the Christian paradigm. 

The Very Worst Missionary Jaime Wright is an unconventional and ridiculously funny writer who resides in Costa Rica with her missionary husband El Chupacabra.  Jaime is passionate about Jesus, promoting redemptive ministry that actually leads people to Christ, and uses colorful words (like douche and dumbass) that I so get into trouble for.  Jaime is a riot and she will steal your heart and force you to consider what it means to REALLY reach people with the love of Christ.

The Bloggess  This blog is my secret little habit.  Jenny is irreverent, slightly deranged, and so stinking loveable.  Warning: This site is not for the kiddos mainly because of foul language and references to colons.  If you have any sense of humor: you will die laughing, but be careful reading this while at the office.  I have had co-workers ask me what’s wrong as I’ve been gasping for air and snorting like a pig at the feeding trough.

Stuff Christians Like  Another satire blog.  I know, I know…but I do love to laugh.  This site is snarky and clever and the author –Jon Acuff, has branded the concept of self-deprecation towards the uptight and religious spirit.  I love the guest bloggers he showcases and it’s always worth a peek to see what he is up to.

The Blah Blah Blahger I met JJ at a blogging conference and out of the myriad of bloggers I eagerly checked out as soon as I got home, this is the one I keep going back to.  JJ has a unique ability to illustrate the ups and downs of single life with transparency, humor and perseverance.  I love hearing about her relationships, the trials of dating, and the joys of fixing up her home.  JJ and I don’t hang out (other than an email here and there) and yet I honestly feel like she is my girlfriend.  (That sounds so cheesy and groupy but its true)

The Cute Conservative  Dani Nichols tells it like it and dishes conservative political rhetoric with grace and pizzazz.  You can almost hear her sassy voice when you read and I can just picture Dani shaking her dark blond curls and stomping her cowboy boots over the political goons in Washington.  Dani keeps me up to date on real issues and her insight is smart, spot-on and always hits home.

A Fine Day for an Epiphany– Gretchen O’Donnell went to the University of Oregon with my hubby Tim and ministered alongside him through Campus Crusade.  Somehow through the realms of social media and Face Book we became bloggy friends.  I really enjoy this woman’s heart.  I don’t know if it’s because she doesn’t live in corrupt southern CA or what, but Gretchen from Minnesota comes across as a refreshing breath of serenity.  Her blog is encouraging, engaging and feminine and I am constantly drawn back for refreshment.

Rage Against the Minvan:  This minivan swaggering mama of four munchkins is my idol.  Kristen is the queen of the mommy-blogs because she breaks all the rules and redefines them.  Kristen is a gifted writer, an advocate and mother for adoption (specifically Haiti) and a witty satirist.  I love getting lost in her blog and reading and chuckling as a few minutes’ slip into an hour.  It’s that good!

Please check out these tremendous writers and enjoy!

 

 

Picture: Source: piccsy.com via Samantha on Pinterest

The First Tutu

There is something magical about a tutu.  It’s the fairy tale, twirly princess, cotton candy dream all rolled up into one.  It’s the artistry of Degas, childhood innocence and whimsy in a poufy skirt. 

Add in a two-year old girl with blond curls, sturdy toddler legs and a laugh like the tinkle of angels’ wings –and the essence of the tutu becomes iconic.

My two-year old Kolby has yet to show interest in the Disney princess or flowing gowns.  She prances right past the Cinderella section straight to the stuffed animals and cuddly monsters.

Until today –today was an EPIC girly moment.

Kolby ran to her closet and reached for a lovely ballerina frock her sister wore around age three.  Little hands tugged on the dress.

“Please mommy, I wear this one?” my baby pleaded.

In an instant I had the gown over her head and Elmo t-shirt.  I pinned up the long straps in the back and she stepped into the leotard.  I glanced down at her cherubic face and my heart exploded into spasms of mommy ecstasy.

Kolby carefully stepped down the stairway and made her grand entrance before her awaiting father.  Visions of prom and bridal gowns danced in my head.

She twirled around with a huge smile and exclaimed, “I’m so pretty daddy.”

Daddy agreed with gusto.

Tim and I laughed with glee as my eyes filled with tears while we snapped her photo –and for a brief moment time stopped.

My baby was glorious! 

I’ve thought about it all morning and I can’t get the picture of her out of my head –maybe because it’s more than just a precious little girl, a tutu and a pretty princess day.

I think Kolby captured the heart’s desire of every woman from age two to eighty. 

“Am I lovely?  Do you cherish me?  Am I worth fighting for?”

Questions we strive to find the answers for in all the wrong places.

My heart aches for the journey Kolby has just begun.

But today, for this moment, Kolby found the answer in her daddy’s eyes.

I think I might a need tutu too!

 

Recalibrating God’s Plan

People keep asking my husband and me if we are knocked up yet.  I’d bemoan the lack of modern civility but since I did post our intent to procreate to the entire internet universe –I might have to own this one and take the hit. 

So, in all honesty I’m a little conflicted now about birthing another child. 

After our recent miscarriage and the most difficult season of parenting I have ever experienced, another baby –even a blond chubby cheeked cutie –represents a future teenager.  And it’s enough for me to hide any atrophied eggs at age thirty-nine I have left when my husband gets that gleam in his eye.

We sensed God telling us to try for another munchkin and we obediently tried.  It didn’t work.  So my thinking is maybe the whole scenario might simply be about listening to God and following his direction.  PERIOD.  And maybe this is where it ends. 

Maybe tragedy can also be MERCY and maybe it doesn’t have to make sense.

Might I need a new equation?

God+ direction=obedience

(Results not guaranteed)

Sometimes the Christian life doesn’t lead to happily ever after and little bow tied Jabez-y blessings.

What if God is more interested in my knowing him and following him than the places and circumstances he leads me to? 

They say life is about the journey and not the destination.  I think it’s about staying on the heels of the trail guide no matter where he takes you.

I think Jesus is more interested in us saying YES to him when he calls, but it doesn’t guarantee what we say yes to will ever come to fruition.  

And isn’t this the mystery, frustration and beauty of the Christian life?

 

What Not to Name Your Kid

My middle child’s name is Faith. I thought I gave her this moniker because it affirmed God’s grace and our double fisted faith for her safety during an arduous pregnancy.

But God has a sense of humor.

I’ve now realized naming your kid Faith is like praying for patience. You never pray for patience because then God will give you opportunities –terrible, brain numbing opportunities to develop your patience.

Holy Cow! I am so dumb!

I inserted some sort of weird blessing/prophecy on my kid –and now I am getting the chance to get faith like Abraham as my daughter hits puberty.

Like this weekend for example when I headed into the land of Canaan –I mean the Mission Viejo Mall.

We ventured over to Macy’s after church to pick up an Easter dress for Faith. It had to be Macy’s because I have a gift certificate from my parent’s for Christmas and I’m strapped enough to tap into all available resources. I know, I know…what I sacrifice for my kids.

Faith picked out a few dresses and went to try them on. Tim, Kyle, Kolby and I waited outside the dressing room to view the frocks on display as Faith came prancing out.

First dress –It was ok, nothing to write home about.

Second dress –Youza! It was a beautiful color –a sky blue number, silky, and way too grown up. It was seductively subtle, a little too short with tiny spaghetti straps and just a smidgen too low in the chest.

My daughter is already beautiful but in this dress she was dangerous.

And here is where I screwed up.

Faith-“Mom, what do you think?”

Me- “It’s really pretty.” (Rewind and take this back you idiot)

Tim- “It’s too sexy. No way. She is almost eleven not twenty. Not an option.”

Me- “You’re right. Sorry sweetie.”

Faith- “Waaahhhhhhh! Then she ran into the dressing room and sobbed for ten minutes. “You said it was pretty! It’s all Tim’s fault.”

When in doubt, always blame the step-dad.

Me- “No Faith, it’s my decision. It’s a lovely dress but it’s a very sexy dress and not the best one for you.”

Repeat tears and howling wails for another twenty minutes.

I storm out of dressing room with my eye twitching.

During this time I go and purchase a pair of jeans with my son. When I come back Faith is moping and half-heartedly looking for another dress with Tim.

The boys go home and Faith and I continue to look. Finally, about three hours into the shopping nightmare she tries on a gorgeous and modest dress we both like.

Despite it being more money than I want to spend, I buy the darn thing and escape home.

Next time I will bring:

  1. Imitrix for the migraine headache I will leave with.
  2. Anxiety medicine
  3. A Flask
  4. A team of prayer warriors who have previously fasted and have experience with pre-teen demons.

(I’m kidding about the first two)

Upon arriving home, Faith runs up to her room, puts on her new dress and models it for the family.

She twirls in front of us like a lovely princess.

The Compromise...Lovely Faith

Faith- “Isn’t it the most beautiful dress you have ever seen?”

I am staggering, on the edge of tears, frustrated and overwhelmed, “Sure sweetie,” I choke out.

Can someone tell me how to defend my daughter’s honor without going freaking CRAZY?

What I want to say is, “Don’t make the same mistakes I did. Have the confidence to rock your inner beauty. Don’t buy into the world’s lies that sexy defines your worth.”

But it never comes out the way I want and it gets all stuck in my throat. I don’t sound like cool mom I sound like lame mom. And even though I think we have these awesome mother-daughter chats –nothing sticks. She ignores me and forges her own way. I wonder where she got this stubborn trait?

So my friends…this is how I develop faith. I am tested beyond all sanity.

Want to know the really scary part? Kolby’s middle name is Grace.

I can’t wait to develop this muscle.

Sharing, Closet Space and How to Prepare for Marriage

Give me a drawer for my unborn baby now!

When Tim and I wed the kids and I moved temporarily into his bachelor pad condo with the view of the waves.  At the time, we were looking for a home to buy and figured it would only take a few months to navigate the home buying process. 

We were wrong.

We packed up all the kids’ toys –the Barbie Guitar, the Lego’s and the Nintendo.  All we brought was our clothes, a few books and the lizard –Sean.

But our three-month tour turned into a two-year stay.

Now Tim had a pretty nice shack for a single dude.  The condo had two large bedrooms and an enormous living space all remodeled and state of the art.  There should have been enough room.  But Tim had been single for thirty-six years and all of a sudden he had to make room in his life and his heart for three more (four with the lizard).

Initially, he cleared out a few shelves for me.  After I whined pitifully, he gave the kids a broom closet (less than three feet across and about two feet deep), a dresser to share and then finally cleared out another half-closet for his new bride.  He continued to occupy the walk-in closet, three dressers and the hall closet.

I tried not to make a fuss and make do with this simple and pared down living style.  I don’t have a ton of clothes because I tend to spend my money on the kids and books anyway, and I knew how hard it was for Tim to go from single (AKA self-absorbed) to married and sharing everything.

 But when I got pregnant with Kolby everything changed.

We were still tied-up in a never-ending escrow –eight long months from beginning to end –and didn’t know if we were going to bring the baby home to our new house or squeeze her into the condo.  My nesting instincts were kicking in to high gear and that’s when I went ballistic.

“I don’t even have a drawer for the baby’s clothes!  Wahhhhhhhhhhhh!  

A torrent of tears erupted and two years of frustration poured out of Tim’s sweet little wife.  I threw a pillow at him and some baby socks and wailed like an abandoned child at the mall.

Tim learned a good lesson that illustrious day.

  1. Learning to share starts before you get married.
  2. Living alone is not the best way to prepare for marriage.
  3. Never deny a woman closet space even if she says its fine –inside she is pissed.
  4. When starting out a new marriage, if at all possible, it’s best to move into a neutral space.  The truth is, the kids and I felt like visitors and Tim felt invaded.  A neutral space right off the bat would have alleviated much of the turmoil.

Tim sent me this article by Mark Driscoll and it made me laugh because we experienced some of this in our relationship and its good advice.  “5 Ways to Move from Selfish to Servant as a Single.”

(FYI…It’s not an endorsement.   I agree with about 79% of his stuff and the rest I abhor, so basically I’m conflicted about the dude)

I would add a few things…

Four (More) Ways to Move from Selfish to Servant as a Single (to Prepare for Marriage)

1. Get a roommate

My husband feels strongly about this one.  Tim always had a roommate until the last few months before our marriage and even then it was hard for him.  Guys-specifically get weird living alone.  In a vacuum of no accountability men will act like boys(X-box, porn, endless sports).  Women collect cats.  And you don’t have to share.  Living with people is important for mental health, accountability as a Christian and future interactions with a spouse.

2. Volunteer with small children or teens

It will give you perspective on irrational human beings and you will be better prepared for parenting and marriage.

3. Stop hoarding

 Pare down your wardrobe.  Instead of collecting things to gather dust –collect experiences and friendships.  Give away unnecessary stuff to people who need it and will use it.

4. Learn time management now

Even as a single mom with two munchkins I had more time than as a married mother of three.  Every relationship takes time and energy.  If you are struggling to balance time as a single person it will only get worse when you get married. 

 

Do you have any more tips to move from selfish to servant to prepare for marriage?

 

 

 

 

Teens, Jell-o, and Why Animals Eat Their Young

 

I always thought this quote was terrible –“Mothers of Teenagers Know Why Animals Eat Their Young” and yet now I can honestly chuckle and relate.  OK, I’ve never really thought about eating my kids but military school and/or a nunnery might be an option.

It cracks me up when parents of toddlers and small children insinuate because I have two older children –ten and thirteen along with my two-year old, that parenting must be easier.  I nod my head, hold my tongue and silently think, “Oh boy, you are going to eat those words someday oh parenting Yoda of a one-year-old.

I’m not sure which part is easy?  I don’t even get the benefits of my kids dressing themselves.  I still have to check every article of clothing my daughter wears out of the house lest a hoochie mama try to slip by.  Then there is my son who tries to pull his pants halfway down his behind and wears jeans so tight skinny could be defined as the new loose. 

I get wrinkles from being up with a cranky toddler all night and then face a daily mental battle from my tween and teen.  Sick babies might be a pain in the you know what but they don’t even come close to the never-ending onslaught of brain cell destruction that parenting older children requires.  I feel like I need a graduate degree in reverse psychology and teen Latin (AKA kid speak) to get by.

How do I get my kids to not do stupid stuff when we all did stupid stuff at that age? 

I cringe when my kid’s start probing into my past.  “Mom, were you pure?  Did you French kiss?  Did you pray every day? How old were you when you first had sex, smoked, and stole your parent’s car for a joy ride on Balboa Island?” (Thanks dad for sharing that information with them)

Ummmmmm?  Is this a multiple choice question?  WWJD doesn’t seem to be cutting it anymore and I can’t repeat the acronym I am really thinking…

Sometimes at night, I hold little Kolby close and breathe in her innocence and thank God she is two.  I smile in delight at her temper tantrums and bossiness and adorable pouty face when she sits in time-out.  And I sing praises every morning because I can still dress her in whatever I want and put girly bows in her baby curls. 

Mostly, I thank God she likes Mommy better than all her friends.  Yeah for me! I appreciate this all the more because I know these moments expire around eleven -give or take a few months.

It’s difficult as a pastor’s wife.  People expect me to do it right and have all the answers.  The truth is, the only thing I have figured out is a reliance on the one who does –Jesus. 

I’m the one in church raising her two wimpy arms high in worship, not because I am spiritual, but because I am begging and pleading for direction.

I literally prostrated myself on the ground of the floor in my closet a few weeks weeping and crying out to for God to guide my family through these difficult years of high school and Jr. High.  Even though I have amazing kids whom I lavishly love and adore, navigating emotions and hormones and temptations is like nailing Jell-O to a tree –pointless and frustrating.

I guess if I am honest, I can thank God for these awkward puberty years too, because it certainly draws me closer to him. 

On my knees close.  Kissing the ground close.  Flat on my face close.

I sure miss the days when a crisis could be resolved with a Hello Kitty band-aid and a kiss.

Do you have teens?  Can you relate?

Heads, Tails or Fleece?

Got Fleece?

Some decisions are too big to flip a coin over and so we pray and plead and ask the big guy for a sign.  But in marriage this gets a little murkier when one person clearly hears God and yet their spouse remains unsure.

So is the case in the Keller relationship.  We have a big whopper of a choice to make but there has been disparity between the two of us as to when to pull the trigger.  I’d tell you what this big superdeeduper decision is but then I might lose my special agent status and possibly compromise national security. 

Anyway, God was clear with me on the details but fuzzier with my hubby Tim.

We faced one another sitting Indian style on our bed one night (certainly the best way to compromise) discussing the pros and cons of our issue and Tim suggested we ask for  fleece from God. 

Now fleece harkens back to the tale of Gideon in the Bible, who asked for a sign from God after an angel appeared asking him to lead the Israelites in battle against the gnarly Midianites who were terrorizing the Israelite people and forcing them to hide in caves after overrunning their country.

Gideon was understandably freaked out at the angel’s suggestion.   He promised to obey the command: but before commencing the battle he oh so casually requested a sign from God that the Israelites were certain to win the battle.  The sign Gideon asked for was this –that when he laid a fleece of wool on the ground, if the victory was with Israel, then the fleece would be wet and the ground dry.

He placed the wool on the ground, and taking it up the next morning found it wet, although the ground was dry. So he knew God was saying “get your sword out dude.”

But Gideon was still uncertain. He pleaded with God for a second sign. This time the ground was to be wet and the fleece of wool dry. God, who is infinitely more patient than me gave him the desired sign and then Gideon humbly obeyed and went out and kicked some Midianite butt.

Now Tim –just like Gideon –was requesting fleece.  It would appear he was simply asking for a sign, but I know my husband and in the back of my mind, I thought, “OK GOD, YOU HAVE TO PROVIDE FLEECE.”

Maybe a stinky sheep wool sweater or a wet stuffed Easter lamb on the lawn would suffice?  I know how literal my husband is and all the various ways God was clearly speaking to me weren’t making an impact on him.

So I’m on the freeway a few days later and I glance up at this white van in front of me and the license plate reads, “GOT FLEECE?”

It was my Evan Almighty moment!  My burning bush, my donkey talking! YESSSSSS!

Shaking and laughing, I risked peril and near death to reach for my iPhone and snap a few pictures to prove the sign to my husband.

Tim studied the pictures intently that evening and agreed this was indeed a sign.  He gave me that wise pastor look, “Sam, clearly God has spoken through a van on the 5 freeway.”

But then Tim (being Tim) smiled at me and said tongue in cheek, “Ok, now we wait for a second sign.”

Jinkies!  I know my husband is willing to follow whatever God calls him to do, I mean the man left his six-figure corporate income to go into ministry.  But come on…recognize the awesomeness of the van!

But then I am reminded how in marriage we don’t always see eye to eye and his quest for clarity might be a gift from God to balance out my more spontaneous nature.

Ok Jesus, got anymore dry fleece?

 

 

Seattle with the Kellers

The Keller’s are on vacation…

I thought I would have more time to write. I’m supposed to rest, right? But I forgot I have three children and a trip with a small tribe, Tim Keller and my in-laws is not exactly conducive to contemplation. Fun…oh yeah! Quiet…not so much!

Keller Home

We are staying on Bainbridge Island which is seven miles across the Puget Sound from downtown Seattle. There are no words to describe how stunning it is. I should be paying my in-laws to visit. The Keller house perches on the water of the Sound with a forest behind them. I can sit on the sofa and see the skyline of the city over the crystal blue waves. It’s gorgeous.

Deck with a dusting of snow

From sun-up to sun-down we eat gourmet food, walk about ten miles a day through a rainforest and then drink great wine. It’s a wonderful way to get in touch with nature, expand my ass and get really strong calves.

Bainbridge Island from the Ferry

I wish I could say it’s been all relaxing, but thanks to my dramatic tween-age daughter who has been forced to share her iPad with her siblings and a ginormous lemon bar with the family at a coffee shop we have had DRAMA and tears. If this is a hint of PMS I am terrified. I seriously want to bang my head against the wall when trying to decipher Faith’s emotions.

Faith, Kolby and Me

I AM NOT EQUIPPED FOR PUBERTY! AAAHHHHH!

Pike Place Market

Why can’t they just stay cute and little like our bossy baby Kolby?

Seattle Aquariam

Kyle has fared well. He loves the cold and the rocky beach and he whittled himself a spear to stab deer in the face. Of coarse the only thing he has actually bloodied has been his finger. I think he imagines himself to be a wild mountain man surviving on the rocky beach with nothing but his weapon, some raw oysters and a small boat to ride the waves and survive. We like to encourage his dangerous fantasies and we send him out to play often.

We went on the Underground tour yesterday in Seattle. This is crazy and will mess with your mind. There is a whole network of the city underneath the ground. Talk about a subculture! The city apparently was built on a mud flat and after the great fire of 1889, they rebuilt the streets one story up-leaving a secret world for the red-light district, criminals and chinese immigrants. It was disturbing and creepy and they do ghost and vampire tours at night.

Dude, where is the vampire?

When I’m up here in the Pacific Northwest I appreciate the Twilight/vampire and Indian lore more because the climate is so moody. I can’t stop staring at all the gothic teens and yoga people searching for something -anything to make them feel better. It’s like these people can’t understand that what they are missing is freaking SUNSHINE (and maybe Jesus)!

Underground

I told my father-in-law I’m not sure I could live up here despite the overwhelming beauty. I honestly think I would be so depressed from the lack of light I wouldn’t be able to appreciate it.

Space Needle

It’s nice to visit but I’m ready to come home. And I know it’s sunny in the picture above. But I need more than a few hours. I’m greedy like that.

Did you check out Faith’s wolf hat? It’s to scare the vampires!

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