Thursday, December 25, 2008


Merry Christmas!!

Micah prayed this morning,

"Thank you Jesus for bringing your light into the world."

I ditto that!

Have a wonderful day as you all celebrate the birth of our savior!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Slow Down

Is it really that time of year again already? How in the world did the Christmas season sneak up on me so quickly? It feels like we were just dressing up in our Halloween costumes and parading up and down our street asking for treats. ...and of course I am so far behind. I have so much more to do before Christmas and I really feel like my life is completely and utterly chaotic!!

Last week poor Ayla came down with the stomach flu. (Rotovirus to be exact. My doctor of course let me know that had I gotten the vaccine for her, she never would have contracted it. Boy, if that doesn't put an already concerned mother on a major guilt trip, I don't know what does...) Next, I caught it, then Joe, then Jonah. Micah has been the only one in the clear, but that could change in a heartbeat as we know all too well. I think that I have been more stressed out this Christmas than ever before. I am working more now than I ever have since having children. Joe is coaching Jonah's hockey team, trying to get Micah to his hockey and trying to balance a brand new job. And I am coming undone to say the least. Even though I am probably one of the most unorganized people ever, I am a planner. Usually I am ahead of schedule with Christmas and I am not this year and I am feeling guilty in many, many areas. Am I the only crazy one out there or are all moms this insane or at least feel a little insane? And to top it all off we volunteered to host Joe's dad's extended family Christmas party with 23 adults and 13 children between the ages of 1 and 9. (Did I mention that we have Christmas Eve at our house as well?) I am not complaining. I am excited about it, just a little bit nervous and anxious and flipping out about my MESSY, MESSY house that has got to get picked up/cleaned up in like 4 days!!!

So now that everyone is healthy (not counting chapped lips and noses that won't stop running), I decided to get some pics of the kiddies. So just picture this with me; three kids, three smiles, three faces with eyes that are opened, six arms set nicely in a relaxed position (not flying up in the air, like animals), ...YEAH RIGHT!!! I literally turned into the most horrific picture-taking monster. My poor kids had to force smiles as I yelled at them in the most ugly, angry tone to,


And that wasn't all I was yelling. I was telling the boys how they were worst than the baby, and how they were acting like animals and I even told poor Jonah that he was "fake-smiling"!! So now the boys are crying and I am yelling at them to wipe away their tears and "SMILE!!" I know you probably think I am a horrible, abusive mother. Trust me, I feel like one. I am just being totally open and honest. I struggle with this. I fly off of the handle. Not just with my kids, but with my husband too. I'm sure I could use some counseling but I want to get some stuff out on the table. I am sick of pretending like I have it altogether and my life is perfect. I think if we start opening up with each other more with our weaknesses, maybe we could strengthen each other up a little bit more. I don't want to let the enemy win and sit here in a pool of guilt and self-pity, yet I struggle so much with forgiving myself, especially when I hurt my children's feelings and crush their little spirits. So, I'm just getting it out there. I am such a sinner. Sometimes I feel it so much more than other times. But there is so much hope because even what I consider to be "righteous acts are like filthy rags" (Isiah 64:6). Recently I found out the definition of filthy rags is exactly what you might imagine it to be, menstrual rags. (GAG!) So if my own good deeds compare to the former, I have so much to hope for in Christ. He forgives me as far as the east is from the west. Praise His Holy Name! He forgives me even when I can't forgive myself! Thanks be to my Redeemer! He graces me with His precious Holy Spirit who fills me up with the peace that passes all understanding. Thankfully, I can't completely put my mind around it though. I am grateful that God is God and I am (wo)man.

With that being said, today was a new day. I apologized to my babies and they told me that they forgave me. Today I tried to slow down a bit. I actually sat down at the piano and played some Christmas carols and immediately I was taken back to my childhood and all of the excitement of Christmastime seemed to well up inside of me. I envisioned the shepherds startled by unearthly angelic beings appearing in the quiet, dark night long ago. I pictured our king swaddled in his mother's arms as Joseph gazed down at a promise fulfilled. I imagined wise men journeying by a beaming star to the long awaited savior with their expensive gifts to present to him. I was humbled as I thought about my God leaving his place with the Father to make himself human and to come in the lowliest way...a feeding trough, with the smelly, dirty animals and to leave this earth in the most humiliating way possible...on the cross, beaten, scoffed at, with the lowliest of the low; with the criminals, the law-breakers, the sinners.

And once again, I am so humbled. I can and never will have it altogether. I will continue to mess up with my husband, my kids, etc... But I have a savior, a redeemer, who cared enough to come to this earth in the lowliest of ways and die for me, in the lowliest of ways... and one day He will return, in all of His Glory, to take me home to the place He has prepared for me. Thinking about that is enough for me to slow down and remember what life is all about.


Thursday, December 4, 2008

Like a Dove

The date was December 3, 2000. I was pregnant with my first child and three days over due. On and off all day I was having contractions and finally in the evening around 9pm they started getting harder and more consistent. Joe drove me to the hospital which was a twenty minute car ride down a pot-hole infested Michigan freeway. That was not fun! We got to the hospital and I thought for sure the doctor was going to tell me I was ready to push but instead he let me know I was barely dilated to one and was going to send me home. I pleaded with him and told him how much pain I was in, so he admitted me to the hospital and gave me some medicine that was supposed to help me sleep but instead made me sick. The hours went by and while I was in the absolute worst pain of my life, my husband mistakingly complained about how uncomfortable the futon was that he was trying to sleep on (and oh how he has never lived that down, let me tell you!). My water broke sometime in the middle of the night filled with meconium and the midwife and a few residents came into my room and told me how the baby's heart rate was dropping and that they were going to call the doctor. I signed papers for an emergency c-section. I have never experienced the peace that passes all understanding until this moment in my life. Joe and I held hands, closed our eyes and prayed,

"Lord, we pray that you will let our baby live. If you choose to take him we accept that, but if you bless us with his life, we will give him back to you. He will be your servant. He won't be ours, he will be yours."

I was so at peace. I knew everything was going to be o.k., even if God didn't allow him to live. I can't even describe in words the comfort that I felt that night. A few minutes later one of the nurses came in and had me get on my hands and knees and rock back and forth. They put a fetal monitor on the baby's head and soon after the anesthesiologist came in and gave me my epidural (the best invention EVER!) and with in twenty minutes I was ready to push. They had the neonatal intensive care unit all set up in my room and the doctor told Joe he wasn't going to be able to cut the chord because it was probably around the baby's neck. Sure enough as soon as his little head popped out we saw the chord wrapped around his neck a couple of times. His skin appeared green. Quickly the doctor snipped the chord and minutes later my sweet Jonah arrived to planet earth. Immediately he let out this loud scream which was music to our ears. The NICU checked his vitals and told us everything was fine. They brought him to me and the love that fills a mother's heart the first time she holds her newborn is indescribable. Tears of joy filled our eyes as we gazed at this precious blessing. Our good friend who happened to be one of our pastors at the time, came in and prayed with us. Not knowing what we had asked our God earlier, he prayed that Jonah would become a mighty leader and servant of the Lord Jesus. While he was praying Joe and I sensed the presence of God right there in that little hospital room. We had such a confirmation in both of our spirits of God's will for our little baby's life.

Throughout these eight years of Jonah's life I often think of this miracle. Every year on his birthday I tell him the story all over again. His lips curl up into a little smile and his blue eyes twinkle as he looks up at me and asks to hear it again.
His name means "like a dove" and he truly is. One of the definitions of dove is peace. Jonah is so compassionate and loving. My prayer is that God will use him to bring this love and peace that comes from above to many. I know that his life is going to be significant. I know that he will lead many to Christ. I know this because my God chose to bless me with his little life and I truly believe God honored my prayer. Jonah is His servant and His child and I thank Him for allowing me the pleasure of mothering him.

Father in Heaven, please forgive me for not always remembering your miracle. Thank you for my sweet Jonah and help me to lead him and raise him in your ways. Thank you for your grace that you bestow on me when I don't but help me to do your will, daily.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

A Grateful Heart

Pictures from Thanksgiving '06

Things I am thankful for:

* Love from Above
* My adorable children
* My fantastic husband
* My super supportive mom and dad
* My two amazing sisters
* Sweeties K.K. and Doug the pug
* My great sister-in-laws
* My kind brother-in-laws
* My LOVING mother-in-law and father-in-law
* All of the sweet grandmas and grandpas
* All of my extended family; aunts, uncles, cousins...
* All of the love that surrounds me and encourages me from all of these people
* Friendships, new and old
* Good Health
* Jobs in Michigan (that alone is a miracle)
* A cozy home and a warm bed
** Divine Peace from my gracious God

I am praying that on this Thanksgiving, everyone will feel the love that only comes from the Godhead, three in one.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

God the Gardener

Yesterday afternoon a dull headache quickly blossomed into a full-fledged migraine. I took some medicine and somehow managed to go into work and do hair. (Don't worry, the clients all left happy). Usually these migraines don't last overnight, but oh my this one did and this morning I woke up with the worst migraine I have EVER experienced! Thankfully, Joe fed, dressed, packed lunches and got the kids to school and daycare. I had to call off work, since I was literally flat on my back. There I lay, nauseated beyond belief with the feeling of a large mallet pounding onto my temple. The medicine did not work, because it did not stay down. Laying there, a feeling of complete helplessness and guilt consumed me. I know that the migraine was triggered by my own stress and anxiety. That's what I like to name it. "My own stress", "My own anxiety". As I called out to the Lord in my dire need, (down in a pit of miry clay that I thought I had already been pulled up out of), I realized that I do not have control over this. It wasn't my fault that I got nervous and anxious and flipped out yesterday. The more I try to take hold of it, the worst it gets. You might be wondering, "What is so horrible about her life?" "Why in the world would she be stressed out?" I can't even answer these types of questions. I don't know why! Maybe it's an attack, or maybe it's a thorn in my side that I will have to live with for the rest of my life.

What I can tell you is that God uses circumstances to prune me. We were just discussing this in my Ladies Bible study. We are doing a "A Woman's Heart; God's Dwelling Place," by Beth Moore. In one of the lessons this past week she talks about how "God is our Gardener and He has two major gardening tools for increasing our crop and for conforming us to His Son's image: His Word and circumstances." She goes on to talk about how "...when God uses His Word as our pruning instrument, it is a lot less painful because it is sharp and quick. But circumstances can be a different story. (She) I also believe(s) that God favors pruning us through His Word rather than through circumstances. (She) I do(es) not think that God wants to see us in pain any more than we want to experience it. He knows, however, that sometimes there is no other way....Without a doubt we will be pruned one way or the other." She refers to

Philippians 1:6
...being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.

...and then reminds me of how I need to be a "doer of the word and not (a) hearer only" (James 1:22)

Well, I have to tell you that I let all of the ladies in my small group know how I didn't know if I agreed with what she was saying, about how God's word prunes us easier. In my life, it seems like my circumstances tend to prune me. Mostly unpleasant circumstances that I experience, when I feel so alone and down that I have nowhere to look but up and how I haven't noticed God's word pruning me as much. As I look closer at the verse in James, I understand more of what she is saying. I need to not only look at the word, I need to do what it says. Live it out.

I guess it is just another step in this thing called sanctification. Daily obedience. Daily remembering the fruits of this spirit living inside of me. Daily stripping of my selfish flesh and clothing myself in Christ Jesus, the most unselfish person who ever lived.

So, today my circumstances definitely pruned me into remembering how human and frail and lowly I am. Today, I felt my God reach down and comfort me and reassure me that I have no control over my physical state and I am so thankful for that. But He also revealed to me that I need to stop making excuses and start allowing not only my circumstances, but also His word, His sharp word, to cut back my dead branches and make room for more of His fruit to grow.

Galatians 5:22-23
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control...

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Angels Among Us

Sometimes, well most of the time, I so easily forget all of the times my God has been faithful to me. When a miracle happens, I am in awe and I have such strong belief in the Most High God. Slowly, as even the hours after, turn into days, I begin to let it fade into the back of my mind. Life happens, something doesn't go my way, my feelings get hurt or I worry some menial situation into a full blown anxiety attack and I choose not to remember His faithfulness. But God, in all of His mercy and grace, reminded me today of His mighty hand.

My pastor is doing a series on the Supernatural and he told us a story of an encounter that he had with an angel, or what he thought was an angel, some 22 years ago, when he got into a terrible car accident. This angel pulled his unconcious sister out of the car and moments later, when everyone was out of the way, the car exploded and the angel was nowhere to be seen. He backed up this belief of it being an angel with scripture found in Genesis 18 about when Abraham encountered three men who were actually angels, and also refered to Genesis 19 when Lot invited two angels who appeared to be men into his house. This story totally refreshed my ever so forgetful mind of an experience that I hopefully will never forget!

Three years ago, my two sisters and our parents traveled to Europe to celebrate our mom and dad's 30th wedding anniversary. We flew into Frankfort, Germany and drove to Florence, Italy. (Don't ask why we decided to rent a minibus and drive in Europe where there is no speed limit and the most narrow highways you have ever seen! Needless to say, I had one of the worst panic attacks of my life while driving through the Bavarian Alps, before the Xanax kicked in! ...and I will have to tell you, the whole vacation was quite an adventure!!!) On our way back from Italy, after getting lost while driving down a cow path (don't ask!), we stopped in southern Germany in a little town in the middle of nowhere, called Nesselwang. We stopped to get some snacks for the long ride and to gas up. If any of you know me and my family personally, you can imagine what "bonding" we did while traveling throughout Europe! (HA HA!!!!!!!!!!!!) Well, everyone was just so happy and cheerful and excited to be driving for several hours (the cow path adventure really put the icing on the cake!). My dad got out at the pump and couldn't figure out which one had the diesel fuel that our van required. So what does he decided to do? Ask a German speaking man of course! You have to know that throughout these last ten days, my dad is either raising his voice to an uncomfortable level while asking questions in English to non-English speaking people or speaking Spanglish because when he was stationed in Germany, in the army, his roomate was Mexican-American and all of the memories came flooding back when we were there. So very loudly and slowly he asks,

"Is that diesel?"

"Ya, diezer!" The German man replies (Which happens to mean gasoline in German!)


Mind you, as my dad is pumping, I smell the strong scent of gasoline radiate throughout the air. I knock on the window and yell to my dad,

"Dad, that smells like gasoline!! Stop pumping, it's not diesel!"

My younger sister flashes me a dirty look and says,

"Leave him alone, he knows what he's doing!"

So I retreat, but my dad continues to fill up the van and wouldn't you know it, we start to drive out of the parking lot and the van completely stalls out. KERPLUNK! It wasn't going anywhere. Oh, if you could have been a fly on the window inside of the vehicle. I'll spare you all of the angry words exchanged, but "I told you so..." must have spewed from my lips a good twenty times at least. So there we all were, stranded in Nesselwang, Germany. Our flight was leaving the next morning and we still had at least a four hour drive back to Frankfort. The rental car company said they couldn't get us another car until probably tomorrow. These kind people let us use their cell phone to call. So my older sister starts to get all of her luggage out and said she was leaving us all and going to walk to the train station. We were concerned about deserting the minibus. I can't remeber if I even uttered a prayer, but this woman pulled up in her station wagon with two German shepherd dogs at the same time that my mom spotted this old woman standing a little distance away. My mom pointed out the lady saying,

"Now that's a true little old German lady, look at her bubushca and her little stockings."

My sister said something like,

"Yeah, look there's a German woman and German Shepherds. Now I really feel like I'm in Germany."

One of us asked the lady with the dogs how to get to the train station. We went into the cashier to try and find out the train schedule and if we could call a taxi, but they acted like we were out of our minds, the nice lady offered us rides to the station. It happened to be fairly close, but at least a few blocks away and she had to take us in two different car loads because of all of our luggage and her huge dogs and all. She was so friendly and sweet. When we got to the train station we saw the little old lady sitting on a bench right by the train tracks. There was no way this older woman could have walked there that fast. We had just seen her moments before at the gas station. My mom immediately made the connection and pointed her out. She watched us get out of the car and get all of our luggage. We bought tickets for the next train ride, it was a short wait. When we boarded, I looked out the window and noticed the little old lady wasn't on the bench. We all were talking about her and then we saw her, standing off in the distance, watching. Of course my mom and I were a little emotional and my mom, in between her sobs, says,

"She's watching us to make sure we are on our way. She is waiting for us to pull away, and then she'll go."

Sure enough, she was no longer in sight as we started moving. We talked about how she was an angel sent from God. Looking back, I truly believe that my Lord sent a protector to take care of us. We made the long way back to Frankfort and were able to even get a hotel room, instead of sleeping in the airport!

Even when I am undeserving, my God still reaches down his hand and holds me. In the shadow of His wing, I find rest. This just boggles my mind. Looking back on this miracle, I am astounded at His merciful, merciful hand. You see, my vacation was filled with some anger, much anxiety and little grace for my other family members and God still chose to watch over us. There is nothing that I can do, good or bad, that will make God provide or not provide. He is God and all I can do is acknowledge it or ignore it. I can thank Him and give Him all of the praise and glory, or I can just let the memory fade into the back of my mind. Today, I am going to thank Him. I am going to honor Him. My God hears my cries! He knows the depths of my heart. He knows the depth of my sin, yet He still loves me and through my savior, the sacrificed lamb, He forgives me completely! To Him be the glory, and the honor, and the power now and forevermore AMEN!!!

Psalm 77:11-14
I will remember the deeds of the Lord; yes, I will remember your miracles of long ago. I will meditate on all your works and consider all your mighty deeds. Your ways, Oh God, are holy. What god is so great as our God? You are the God who performs miracles; you display your power among the peoples.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Precious Investments

The leaves are burning with color. Today, brilliant shades of red, orange and gold danced in the wind against a sky of blue. This is my favorite time of the year. I love taking walks in the crisp autumn air. I love the smell of the cracked leaves that have fallen off of the trees early. The fall is always so nostalgic to me. Memories of football games, the apple orchard and the pumpkin patch always find their way into my mind as the coolness fills the air. My parents used to have backyard parties with bonfires and hayrides. We would all gather up into my dad's little trailer that he filled with hay and he would pull us with his small tractor through our property and into the park that sat adjacent to us. The park was about one half of a mile long and at the far end, nestled in the corner there was a graveyard, an old-fashioned one with tall headstones. Apparently the people who used to own the land that the park was on were buried there. We had so much fun telling scary stories and roasting marshmallows. I love these memories. My mom and dad filled my childhood with so many wonderful times. They put their all into raising us.

As I recall these special times, I am reminded of how important it is for me to invest time into my children's lives. I am so busy. I want to get involved in so many things. I want to serve God in ministries that help people come to know Him. I feel like I am being pulled in so many directions and struggle so much with feeling guilty about not committing to more. There are so many opportunities at church to serve, but I really feel like God is pointing me toward serving my family, especially my kids, at this time. When I am over-committed and trying to balance working, with the boys' hockey, with Joe's work schedule, with cleaning the house and doing the laundry, with catching up on a lack of sleep-due to an 18-month-old not sleeping through the night (who should not be screaming like a banshee at 5 am!!), I feel like I am going to lose my mind! ...And I take it out on the people who I care most for. We have such little time with our children. Before I know it, they'll be driving off, waving goodbye, moving out and leaving our house! I have such a prompting to slow down and invest in my children. They are my ministry right now. So often I forget that they are not my own,but they are God's children. He has placed so much responsibility into my hands. As cliche as it may sound, I need to lead my children to Christ, to come to know and love and accept Him into their hearts. I yearn for my children to desperately seek God and His ways all of the days of their lives and if I am so over-committed that I am crabby and irritable all of the time then I am going to fail at what is most important in life to me as a mother. We lead by example. If words are spewing from my tongue, but actions are greatly lacking, my efforts are meaningless. Talking is not going to exhibit what compassion and grace are to my children. They are going to learn mostly from my interactions with them and with their daddy and with the people closest to us. These relationships are models that will shape them into the wife and husbands and mother and fathers that they hopefully will one day become.

In the next few weeks, as the leaves start to shrivel and descend from the trees and the branches hang bare against the cold gray skies, I hope to die to myself a little more. As the trees shake off their dead leaves, I hope to cast off my worries and cares about hurting people's feelings if I say no, and say yes to my family, yes to my God and His purpose for me at this time. Pleasing Him is what I want more than anyone's approval and praise on this earth. Loving Him completely. Showing His love to all, especially my precious little ones, is what I long for!

Deuteronomy 4:6-9 (The Message)

Attention Israel!

God, our God! God, the one and only!

Love God, your God, with your whole heart: love Him with all that's in you, love Him with all you've got!

Write these commandments that I've given you today on your hearts. Get them inside of you and then get them inside your children. Talk about them wherever you are, sitting at home, or walking in the street; talk about them from the time you get up in the morning to when you fall into bed at night. Tie them on your hands and foreheads as a reminder; inscribe them on the doorposts of your homes and on your city gates.

Monday, September 29, 2008

A Portion of the Weight

I have been so low lately.

First of all, I threw my back out. NOT FUN!! Let me just give a little bit of good advice, don't wear high heels two nights in a row without sitting down at least periodically throughout your events!...and a shot in the back isn't too fun either!

Secondly, my very good friend is moving away, far away. Every time I think about it, I just lose it! I have been reminiscing in my mind of so many special times that we have shared; our engagements, our weddings (which were only two weeks apart), the births of our babies. Rarely, do you meet another couple and all just click. From day one, the four of us immediately had a connection. I would venture to say that Joe has never had a closer friend. It's not too often that two young men can be crazy-silly and have tons of fun together and also pray and worship our Lord together without being afraid of becoming demacho-anized (like my new word? I just made it up!). My friendship with her is something that is just plain irreplaceable! She is my sound board, my confidant, my prayer warrior, and the most humble, wonderful role model of a wife, mother and Christian woman that I could ever think of (and I'm not being overly dramatic despite all of my emotions, it's the truth!). I know that there are emails and texts and phone calls, but I am going to miss seeing them!

So, I have been wallowing in a pool of self-pity for days now. During one of my broken moments, a crazy thought strayed into my little head. Maybe, instead of swimming in the waters of self-indulgent sorrow, I should lift up my friend and her family in prayer. Every moment that I feel the sadness start to creep up into my heart, PRAY! For goodness sakes, they have a lot more to be concerned with right now. The stress of moving your whole family, selling a house, starting a new job, starting a new life for that matter! Maybe, instead of half-heartedly dropping a few lines into my bedtime prayers, I could really start to intervene on their behalf. Maybe I shouldn't be so concerned with the physical loss of my wonderful friend, but instead pray for God to bless her with godly and true and loving friendships on her new journey! Most importantly, maybe I should start to pray that some of their burden would be dispersed on me, so I can help carry a portion of the weight!

Galatians 2:6 (NASB)
Bear one another's burdens and thereby fulfill the law of Christ.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008


School is in full swing. My sweet little Jonah is already in 2nd grade and growing up way too fast!

So, Jonah has always gravitated toward weapons. Why? I'm not sure. My mom would say it is because I let him watch Star Wars at much too young of an age, but I don't know. Maybe. When Jonah was three, he made the play-banana into a gun at church in the toddler room. A friend of ours was helping out in there and let Jonah know that it was not a gun, but a banana. The very next week, Jonah holds it up and points the piece of play fruit directly at our friend's chest and says, "This is not a gun, it is a banana." Our poor three year old was lectured over and over again about the horrific and deadly results of gun use. I think this increased his fettish all the more. Micah has taken the whole weapon obsession to a whole new level. He makes anything and everything into a lightsaber. Hockey sticks, baseball bats, pvc piping, cable cords (there is a permanent reminder on our flat panel lcd tv of that one)... You name it! This weapon usage has bothered me some, to say the least, as a mom. Unlike my dad who is a member of the NRA and proud of it, I don't like guns and never have! Thank God Joe is not too fond of hunting, because I don't think that I would let him keep one in, or anywhere near, the house, garage or yard that my little treasures play in.

So, last night I come home from work, and on the table is a really detailed drawing of a scarecrow. But this was not your typical If-I-only-had-a-brain scarecrow.

I asked Joe, "What is this?"

He nonchalantly responds, "Oh, that's a gangster scarecrow."


You see, Jonah's scarecrow was hanging there with his decked out gangster outfit on and sunglasses with a hat turned to the side and patches with the word "YO" on one. There were bags of cash surrounding the bottom of the scene and little bunches of dynamite with their wicks lit and to top it all off, the scarecrow was holding a gun in each hand, with bullets exploding from their ends. I felt like I was going to throw up! My sweet, innocent child is being exposed to so much more than I thought he would ever be at his young age. The Star Wars, everything's a light saber thing, bothers me a little bit, but we always remind the boys how it's just make believe and not real. This whole gangster thing is REAL and for some reason,
Jonah thought it was cool. Oh, I was brewing last night. Jonah was already asleep and I so badly wanted to wake him up and give him a lecture. I waited until first thing this morning as soon as I heard his little feet hit the ladder of his bunk bed. I had a talk with him about how Jesus wants us to love gangsters and pray for them, but we don't want to be gangsters. I followed up with another graphic gun conversation, much like the one we had when he was a toddler, going on and on about how guns hurt and kill people, etc, etc, etc... Jonah jumps up and runs downstairs, crinkles up the picture and throws the paper in the garbage all the while apologizing over and over. He is so dramatic and I just don't know where he gets it from!

Jonah definitely has many characteristics of a leader but he yearns for people to like him and think he's cool. As I was observing Jonah, I started thinking about my own life and how he is a lot like me. I want to put on my cool clothes, (my church clothes). I want to wear my cool make-up, I want it to cover-up the real me, the exposed me, the ashamed me. I'm am so afraid to wash off the thick pancake, got-it-all-together look! Why? I think maybe because I'm afraid people will judge me like I have been judging them. I tend to get hung up on their outward sinfulness instead of displaying the unconditional love and forgiveness of Christ. This whole gangster thing has motivated me to turn on the faucet and splash some water onto my made up face, so hopefully as the make-up begins to melt away, my skin will become a little bit more transparent!

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Young Love

Fifteen years ago, half of my life ago, I spotted my future husband on a yellow school bus. I had no idea of marriage in my young 15 year old mind. I was just a girl with a crush on a cute boy!

Eleven years ago, I desperately wanted to get married. Joe was still in college and I was working full time, but I didn't have benefits through work. We got engaged but planned a long engagement. One year and ten months. We were so worried about pleasing our parents. They were supportive but there were also some concerns about Joey not finishing college, financial stability, etc. etc..... We were only 19 and 20... I worked strictly on commission, so there was no precise way of figuring out a budget, but with God's prompting, I believe, we decided to push up the wedding. I am a pleaser so you can imagine how difficult this was. I remember feeling very insecure, constantly worrying about others opinions. I recall so many people commenting on how young we were. Some people would tell me their stories of how young they got married and how it didn't work out. But as worried as I was, the plans were in place.

We rented a little one bedroom, four hundred dollar-a-month apartment. Joe moved in a few months before the wedding. I am not exaggerating when I tell you that every piece of furniture we had was given to us (I take that back, I bought a coffee table from TJ Maxx). We didn't care, we just wanted to be together!

On September 11, 1998 I said "I do" to my sweet Joey. Three weeks later, our apartment building caught on fire. We woke up to another tenant pounding on our door, yelling at us to get out! You really don't think to grab anything when you are in that kind of danger. We quickly threw some clothes on and ran down the stairs and outside. We watched as huge flames engulfed the bookstore we lived above. Joey and I held on to each other and I remember thanking God that he and I were okay. All of our things had soot damage and we had to move into my parents basement for a few weeks while they cleaned everything. Thankfully we had just purchased renters insurance (for eight dollars a month, no joke). We moved back into the apartment, but the horrible stench from the fire still radiated throughout the place and God opened the doors for us to buy our first house.

Ten years, two houses and three babies later, we celebrate our ten years of marriage. I am so thankful to my Heavenly Father for all of the undeserving blessings he has bestowed upon us. Our life together is not always easy. We have our quarrels. But I have to say that I know my husband inside and out, and he knows me better than I know myself. Throughout the years we have grown up together and changed together. I know getting married young isn't for everyone, but I am so happy we did! Looking back on our youthful love I can remember all of the butterflies and excitement. The chills that ran down my spine when we had our first kiss. That teenage love has grown into something much different, more of a mature love, a love that requires a little bit more give than take, but a love that is real.

Thank you God for my sweet husband and our wonderful life together!

Tuesday, September 2, 2008


He's finally home. THANK GOD!!!! Friday, I was in heaven. I was so thankful to have my wonderful other half back! I slept in on Saturday and it felt so good. I went and had a massage and it was amazing!! We had a great labor day weekend together. Joe and the kids played and I kicked back and sucked up all of the free time. Unfortunately, slowly, I began to get irritated at my sweet husband who just days earlier, I was longing for and missing terribly. He started to annoy me. Little things, like disciplining the kids or loading up the laundry room with all of his clothes were just getting on my nerves. You see, for a whole month, I was in complete and utter control over the household affairs and the punishment of the kids and even the laundry room!! Even though I complained and felt so sorry for myself, I kind of enjoyed the power. For those of you who know me, I know this is a huge shock! Me? Emily, likes to control the roost? Try not to LOL!! Joey has been a little stressed out about the new job too but I surely have not been living out Philip Yancey's "What's So Amazing About Grace?" book that I admire and tell everyone they need to read!!

I started thinking about how hard it is to show love to my own husband and how convicting it is that Jesus calls us to love not only those who love us but even more those who hate us. The red words of Christ boldy state to love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us!! How sad it is that I have such a hard time displaying love to my husband whom I claim to love more than anyone else on this earth! Luke 6:27-36 boldy states,

But I tell you who hear me: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. If someone strikes you on
one cheek, turn to him the other also. If someone takes your cloak, do not stop him from taking your tunic. Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back. Do to others as you would have them do to you.

If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even 'sinners' love those who love them. And if you do good to those who are good to you, what credit is that to you? Even 'sinners' do that. And if you lend to those from whom you expect repayment, what credit is that to you? Even 'sinners' lend to 'sinners,' expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked. Be merciful, just as you Father is merciful.

I am so conditional sometimes. It seems as though so much of the time, I give my love expecting something in return. I want my love to be reciprocated. I want to take and then give. Christ is very clear on the complete opposite. He instructs us NOT to expect anything in return!! He commands me to be gracious to the ungracious. He commands me to be love to the unlovely. He commands me to pray for those who harm me. He commands me to give to anyone who asks and not to want it back!

Oh what powerful and convicting words are the red words of Christ!

Again in my spoiled, selfish, lazy life I inhale my savior's teachings and soak up his forgiveness for my inexcusable, sinful, unjustified attitude. I am not capable of demonstrating Christ's love without divine intervention and that's all there is to it. I am not copping out and making excuses, but I am praying for the Holy Spirit to guide and direct my responses and my attitude.

...Oh to grace how great a debtor, daily I'm constrained to be....(Come Thou Fount)

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Questions and Answers

My five year old, Micah is absolutely hilarious. Ask anyone who has been around him. My mom says he's quirky. The wheels are always turning and you never know where they are going to. One of the new things he has been doing is asking a question and answering it in the next breath. For some reason, these questions always seem to come up whenever my sister, Elizabeth, is around who Micah does not consider an elder in any way, shape or form. He constantly reminds her, "Auntie, you're not the boss of me." Of course if I am present, I chime in and let him know that he is to respect his aunt! So a couple of weeks ago, Auntie and I were on a walk while the boys were riding their bikes. We passed a huge golden retriever and Micah asks,

"What kind of a dog is that? It's a chihuahua."

Auntie corrected Micah and said,"No Micah, I think that's a golden retriever like Barclay, Papa Mark's dog."

"No, it's a chihuahua."

Let me tell you, when his mind is set on something, it's not going anywhere, even if he knows that he's wrong, it's like he has convinced himself that he's right and he is not budging.

So last week, on our vacation, I took the boys and Ayla to the drive-in. Micah was so excited to sit in the front seat (for the very first time in his whole life, he must have told me a dozen times)! I don't know if he was more thrilled with where he was sitting or "Attack of the Clones," the most anticipated movie in our household this summer.

Jonah almost had a panic attack because the movie was supposed to be a double feature with the new Batman movie playing after and was so worried the whole time that I wasn't going to get us out of the place before it began. I reassured him over and over, but until he heard the speaker announce a fifteen minute intermission, he was in a frenzy. I too, was a little frazzled after occupying a seventeen month old for two hours and making a trip to the bathroom because the empty water bottles we had with us had already gotten filled up with tasty yellow liquid. Not to mention, getting yelled at to turn my lights out while coming back from the bathroom, not only from young children whose parents' did not bother to stop them, but also from the man with the flashlight who let me know that the bright lights were bothering everyone around us. I almost reached in the door for one of the bottles of pee to pour all over his head, but I contained myself and flashed a smile, apologized and told him how I was so sorry but I didn't know how to turn off my lights after unlocking the doors with the key remote. (DIDN'T HE SEE ME TRYING TO MANAGE MY THREE KIDS ALL BY MYSELF?) I reassured him that they would go off in a few seconds. There was no way I was leaving now, we almost made it the whole movie, and I was on a mission to prove that I could do it alone!!

We got back to the condo, all riled up over the whole event! The boys were going on and on about the drive-in to my family (mom, dad, sis and her fiance') and Micah asks,

"So how old do you have to be to get your license? You have to be eleven. I"m going to get my license when I'm eleven."

Auntie lets him know,

"I think you have to be sixteen to get a license."

"No, you have to be eleven."

Micah's mind was already made up and he wasn't budging.

These already answered questions, as cute as they are, got me thinking about my wrong answers to so many questions. I know what the right answers are and really don't have a problem telling people what they are, but when it comes to me answering them, I really tend to make up my own answers, a lot like my Micah. I need to just admit it, I'm in denial. I have many excuses and reasons and answers that in my own mind are justified. I find myself leaning on my own understanding and not listening to the voice of God inside of me, directing me, guiding me and leading me the right way.

Proverbs 3:5-7 (The Message)
Trust God from the bottom of your heart, don't try to figure out everything on your own. Listen for God's voice in everything you do, everywhere you go; he's the one who will keep you on track. Don't assume that you know it all....

...Forgive me Lord for my know-it-all attitude. Open my ears to hear you!

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Time Away

We came home yesterday from our annual summer vacation. As I mentioned earlier, my husband has been out of town training for a new job (for the month) so he wasn't going to be able to make it, but he flew in for the weekend (thank you dad for the free miles!). The kids and I were so excited to see him! We had two wonderful days together and the weather couldn't have been more perfect. After we dropped him off at the airport Sunday night, a sinking feeling entered into the pit of my stomach and stayed the rest of the trip. I did enjoy myself, the weather continued to be beautiful, the kids played wiffle ball and we devoured huge ice-cream cones every night. We rode bikes, walked the beach, and yes I saw amazing sunsets (with nothing obstructing my view!). My parents helped a ton and we all got along without any major blow outs and for me that is really an accomplishment or should I say miracle?

But this gnawing, aching, lonely feeling would not go away. Our vacation was not complete without daddy! We all missed him terribly. I kept thinking about others who live everyday without their spouses, whether they've lost them, or they are off serving our country, or they just plain up and left. My heart goes out to single moms (and dads), they are strong, strong people. This little bit of time without Joe has really put my life into perspective for me. I am so spoiled. I am so blessed. I take my husband for granted way too much!! Not just with all of his help which trust me, I am so thankful for, but I take HIM for granted. My favorite place to be in the whole world is in his embrace, not to mention that he is the very best friend that I have ever had. This distance between us has brought my heart closer to his more than I ever thought was possible. I want him to know how much I appreciate him, all of him. We don't know what time we have left here. I want to try to live everyday as if it were our last together. I know that in the throws of life and all of the hustle and bustle, it is easy to forget, but I want to remember these feelings that I have been having this last week. I don't want to forget the sick stomach I have when he is away and I don't want my words to be empty, but filled with action. I want to show him how much I care because we might not have another day here on this earth together.

As dramatic and extreme as this may sound, part of me has felt like Joe has died. I know that I am ignorant when it comes to death, but my soul has been so downcast and lonely without him and on vacation I kept thinking. "This is what our family vacation would be like if he ever died." God knows how oblivious I am to the reality of death. In all of His grace, He comforts me, even if I am a drama queen. I am His drama queen and he loves me. So I leave you with this,

Psalm 31:11&12
You turned my wailing into dancing; you removed my sackcloth and clothed me with joy, that my heart may sing to you and not be silent. O LORD my God, I will give you thanks forever.

Jesus I cast all my cares upon you. Thank you for carrying my burdens no matter how big or small they may seem to others. You are my refuge in all things. I will praise your name forever! Thank you for turning my sadness into joy!

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Baby Steps

More stuff- more clothes, new furniture, more toys, new guitars, more money, more, more, more!!! It seems as though our generation is never satisfied, but not just with "stuff," with our careers too. Climb the corporate ladder. Rise to the top. Step on anyone to get there. Feed your ego by becoming the most successful person you can be. Christians even buy into this philosophy. Prosperity theories have infiltrated our churches, preaching about how to have "your best life now" and how we can pray for God to "enlarge our territories." I am not saying that we shouldn't strive to have positive attitudes and hearts full of joy. What I am saying or rather asking, is, "Why?" Why are we running so fast and hard to succeed so much in this life? Why are we consumed with worldly treasures that all will only rot away? Why do we (I) grasp at empty pleasures? When this world and all of it's competition wears on my heart, the words of Paul encourage me and guide me back to the narrow path I long to tread.

Philippians 3:12-14 Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.

I want to "continue in the cause..." and run, not walk, heavenward. This life and all it's "stuff" is that exactly, just "stuff." I lose focus, so much of the time, on what is important and what IS important is eternity, not carnality (is that a word?) So again I reflect and am reminded of how I need to continually be renewed and transformed into the likeness of Christ. How am I to do that? The apostle Paul urges us, " view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God-this is your spiritual act of worship. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is-his good, pleasing and perfect will."

I yearn for God's will in my life. Sometimes I obsess over if I am living out His perfect and pleasing will. Am I in it, or out of it? Am I walking on the narrow path right now, or am I skipping down my own road? What am I to do?

I think maybe I could deny myself some and obey Him more. Maybe it isn't going to be this grand, gigantic, life-changing event. Maybe I need to take baby-steps. (Bill Murray, "What About Bob" ...ring a bell?) If I start making little changes, soon I'll start to walk a little faster, then I'll begin a slight jog, and before you know it, I will be sprinting onward toward my goal.

Some little changes:

WAKE UP and get out of bed, before the kids!!!
(I am SO not a morning person!)
...after getting out of bed, PRAY!!!

...after praying, READ MY BIBLE!!!

...after reading my bible, BE NICE, even before coffee!!!

...after being nice, STAY NICE!!!

...CHANGE me, not everyone around me!!!
(oh this is going to be hard. Please pray for me!)

On a side note: I know this is going to sound cheesy, but I really do want to be a champion for Christ! I want to win the gold, but I can't just run in the race, I have to train, endure, work hard! Athletes don't win without sacrifice, determination, dedication...and everyone has to begin somewhere. I mean Michael Phelps had to jump into a pool and learn how to swim, didn't he? Well I am going to take a baby step in the right direction today! Will you join me?

Sunday, August 10, 2008

A Slice of the Sunset

(August 9)

I love sunsets. My mom has passed this trait down to me. While growing up, our eyes were always fixed on the sky whenever the sun was falling down on the horizon. It didn't matter if we were in our backyard or on the beach, mom would grab our attention, her voice raised to a pitch of great excitement, "Look! Look! Girls look at the BEAUTIFUL sunset!" We would gaze upward and smile. My mom actually had a fetish with the sun in general. She was always singing songs about it to us. "You are my Sunshine" and "Sunshine on my Shoulders" were two of her favorites. (But I never understood how sunshine almost always made John Denver high. Did he have a ladder too?) Like her, I cherish an amazing sunset and as an adult, I've grown to appreciate the beauty of one. There is something so divine when the sky turns all shades of pink, orange and yellow. It makes me melt inside.

Tonight I had to take the kids on a night-night car ride. Ayla, my baby, was refusing to go to sleep. Most every night, my husband gives the children their baths and puts them to bed so I am definitely not up-to-par on the whole bedtime thing. I have come to appreciate this more than you know, now that he has been away. (Almost one week down, three to go!) As I was loading them up in the van, I couldn't help but notice the glorious sunset trying to peak out past the rooftops. A heavy rain had just blown through and the reflection of the sun on the clouds was amazing. I backed out of the driveway and decided to head west so i could take more of it in, but every way I went, trees or houses were blocking my view. (No, I didn't crash!) Turn after turn, only small slices of the sky, could I see. I wanted so desperately to see more of the picture and praise the artist. I didn't want to miss out, but I had to drive my baby to sleep!!

In this busy life of mine, sometimes all I can catch are small glimpses of the big picture. God reveals glorious pieces of it to me every day. The question is, do I take time to look for more, or are the things of this world, my responsibilities and my obligations blocking my view?

Psalm 50:1&2 The Mighty One, God the LORD, speaks and and summons the earth from the rising of the sun to the place where it sets. From Zion, perfect in beauty, God shines forth.

(...and yes, my kids went to sleep and praise God, they slept all night!)

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

God's Forecast

(Aug. 4th)

This evening when I left for a walk, the sky in front of me was bright with scattered white clouds reflecting the sun. It was quite the pretty picture. I took a mental snapshot as I continued on, enjoying my semi-alone time while pushing my half-asleep, baby with a bubba, in her stroller down the sidewalk. Just as I was mapping out my walk in my head and thinking about how I could probably sneak in a nice long one, a huge drop of water hit me in the back of my head. I turned around and the sky was dark gray. Pound, pound, pound, down they continued. So much for my plan, I thought as I turned the stroller around and started home. (I kept checking on the baby. She slept right through, THANK GOD!!)

I am a planner, especially when it comes to life-changing events. I planned my wedding. I planned all three of my pregnancies. I have planned all of my vacations, including a two week long European vacation that put National Lampoons' to shame. When a damper is put on my plan, I don't like it. Now that I have children, I have all kinds of new plans. Plans for them to be academically inclined, wonderful musicians, and great athletes to name just a few. I even have "spiritual" plans for them, envisioning what influence they will have on others for the kingdom of God. All of these aren't necessarily wrong ideas, I understand. God places vision in us for His purpose sometimes but that isn't what I'm talking about here. What I'm talking about is; My plan vs. God's plan.

Sometimes God's plan comes splattering down on me out of nowhere even when there are signs all around and I'm too busy looking ahead toward my plan to notice. Had I taken my eyes off of my path and looked up behind me I would have seen the gigantic, dark clouds that were rolling in. Thankfully God, so full of mercy, knows I'm the type of person who needs a huge globule of rain to smack the back of my head to get me to look up. He knows something major has to happen in my life for me to seek out His plan. He must laugh at me sometimes when He looks at my life running in all of the circles that I have mapped out. I want to surrender to His plan. I do long to yield-daily. I'm working on that. For now my gracious God keeps throwing down sweet humongous drops of rain right on my head. I hear Him kindly whisper, "Turn around, look up, look to me and I will direct your path."

Jeremiah 29:11
"For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."

Sunday, August 3, 2008

My Treasure

(Written on Jul.20th)
My husband started a new job two weeks ago. He has been home studying and preparing for his training that will take place in August, for the whole month. Four weeks. Did I mention that he will be away in another state, unable to come home for approximately one third of our summer? I am not bitter. He is missing our family vacation. I look so forward to our time up north every year. Literally in the dead cold, waste deep snow of Michigan winter, I dream of walking on the beach with the sun basking on my shoulders, hearing the crashing waves of Lake Michigan with my husband's hand in mine and our little ones at our feet. It helps me get through the cold. I am not kidding. Our time at the beach every year was my focal point while giving birth to all three children, no joke! I am not bitter. I paid for the condo in full months ago, before the new job. I reserved the only week available. I keep telling myself that I am not bitter, I am thankful. We are so fortunate that my husband has a job and even a better opportunity for our family. It's much closer to home (after training, that is).

I look so forward to it. I plan out what outfits the kids will wear for pictures together on the beach, weeks in advance. Every year when we drive up over that hill, under the lighthouse sign welcoming us to our cherished vacation town, we all are filled with such anticipation and hope, so excited about the next several days.

Oh, how I put my hope in earthly things. Can storing up treasures on earth mean more than material items? Can it mean any type of enjoyment that we cherish more than heaven itself? Even loving time with our family more than time with Jesus? Do I yearn for heaven like I yearn for our vacation?

Forgive me Jesus for not putting you first in my life. Thank you for molding me a bit with this situation. You Oh Lord know exactly how to shape my stubborn ways. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

Matthew 6:19-21
Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Bathie Time

Ayla was playing with her toys, having such a great time in the basement. It was getting late. Bathie time. I told her and she was not happy. I picked her up as she fought me off. Kicking, stretching, tears, the works. I cradled her in my arms gently and had a thought/question enter into my mind. Is that how I am with my God? Does He pick me up and carefully hold me even when I'm unwilling? I took crocodile-teary eyes up into the bathroom and ran the water. As soon as she realized it was one of her favorite times of the day, she got a big smile on her face, "baffy?" As I poured the warm water out of the cup over her head, I had thoughts of God dipping me in His streams of living water, cleansing my selfishness, my laziness, my sin.

Sometimes I feel our Sovereign God takes us, pulls us up out of our miry pit, wherever that may be, and grabs onto us (even when we are fighting Him) and dips us right back into our waters of baptism. Cleansing every inch of rotten stain and blemish, He casts it all off as far as the east is from the west.

John 3:11
"I baptize you with water for repentance. But after me will come one who is more powerful than I, whose sandals I am not fit to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire..."