Saturday, December 29, 2007

Hiatis

I'm writing so you won't give up on my blog. It's still alive, but I'll tell you the truth, there are many things that have taken a priority in my life right now making it nearly impossible to keep up on my writing in this blog. I have great intentions for the New Year---2008! Hopefully they will come to fruition. It is unfair to make a prediction about that right now though. Who knows maybe I'll wind up publishing a book before I get serious about my blog again. If I do, I'll be sure to add it to my recommended books column.
Happy New Year All!

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

A Visit From Snuffy

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qd_lg6w4UAw

Our most recent issue at bedtime has been with Anna thinking that there are certain characters in her bed. Even the nice ones make her cry. Mostly it's a plea to stay up longer. Thankfully we've stood our ground. The first incident occurred about 2 weeks ago after the kids had watched "Over The Hedge" a really fun movie that Anna has seen before without issue. At the beginning of the movie there is a big black bear who is in conflict with the lead animal character (a raccoon or opossum, I can't remember). Anyway, I guess the bear is as close as the movie comes to having a villain. To be honest, it's so benign that I almost forgot it was even part of the movie. Anna, however did not forget on this particular occasion and either had a dream about it or thought it up herself. Suddenly, she didn't want to go to bed because of the black bear that was in her bed. Now, I'm not suggesting that it wouldn't be scary to a 2 year old (or anyone) to have a black bear in your bed.
So, with that in mind, we played along and convinced Anna that I would go up and tell the bear to go back to his home. This tactic actually worked. She was cured of the black bear scare. Though she did ask every day for a few days if the bear was back at his home. Of course the answer was always a resounding "yes!"
The saga gets funny and slightly aggravating with the next visitor. You guessed it; Snuffy! Lovable, big ol' Snuf. Just the other day Anna chose to watch a Sesame Street DVD during her breathing treatment. In this particular one, Snuffy loses his giant meatball as he sings the classic song, "On top of old smokey." Last night Anna cried that Snuffy was in her bed so in keeping with our original method, Eric went up and made a Snuffy sounding voice to let Anna know that Snuffy was headed back to Sesame Street. We had a repeat scenario tonight, only with an added twist. As soon as Anna showed relief that Snuffy was gone, Andrew added to the drama with his cry that he wanted to see Snuffy.
It was pretty unbelievable really. All we could do was laugh. And then distract everyone from the topic at hand. Poor Snuffy!

Becoming Extraordinary

We've had a lot on our minds here lately. I stand amazed at how easily life gets away from me. For the last couple weeks I've been nursing my middle baby (Anna) back to health. She developed pneumonia after what seemed like a typical cold. It seems like we've been inundated with new medications, antibiotics and breathing treatments. All things that have taken my mind off of...well everything else. Now that the dust is settling a bit and she's feeling much better (though we're not completely out of the woods), I have found myself feeling very disorganized and scatter brained. It's time for me to get it together and try to get my family and myself back on track. In that order I might add. Which leads me to my next point.

It's often noted that women, especially mom's, don't take very good care of themselves. It's the nature of the beast I'm convinced. There are very few women that I know who take care of themselves before they care for their families. There's a delicate balance between caring for ourselves without neglecting our families and the balance proves very difficult to strike. I know that's the case for me. I wind up saying to myself, "I can wait, but my kids can't." I know I'm not the only one who has this problem. Incidentally, it's also worth saying that on most days (cause everyone has a bad day) I am also striving to first be the best wife that I can be and serve my husband the best that I can.

In an effort to strike the balance a little more precisely I am certain that I need to make some changes in my life. When life seems off kilter, it's always inevitable that it can be traced back to something spiritual, or lack thereof. True again this time. I have not been starting my days with God, nor have I really acknowledged him appropriately throughout the day. This leads to me trying to do most things by my own strength which comes up short each and every time. When I am seeking the Lord first, my days are always better. That's just a fact that I've discovered along the way. Please don't mistake me to say that life is easy when I'm spending time with God. It's just more bearable. Things make more sense.

Just today, I had a conversation with one of my dear friends who was commiserating with me about how long it's been since we'd showered. (I'm really not joking). As we talked, she recalled a recent conversation with her husband who offered her the reminder that if she wanted a shower every day then she should get up when he does...long before most of her children I might add.
I only recap this story because his words were not meant in a mean way. In fact, it really is true for most of us. If we want to be productive without children at our sides, we have to make some changes.

I confess that my wake up time each day is dictated by my children's wake up time. In most cases it is my eldest who climbs up into the bed beside me and says, "Mommy, let's go downstairs and get breakfast." Even then it takes me a few minutes to finally arrive there. I have said many times before that I don't love starting my days this way. I wish for something more. But then the next day comes and it's the same old thing.

And that's just what it is, the same old thing. Every day is very similar for us. The only thing mixing it up is which child has the most teachable moments in a day (i.e. timeouts). I often think to myself, "I'm so ordinary." and then I ask myself, "How can I be extraordinary." I believe that it starts with something small like waking up to see my husband off to work and then getting with God to say, "let's do this day together." I know it sounds so cliche and so old fashioned. I do not consider myself an old fashioned woman, in fact quite the contrary, but I have a firm belief that I should value my husband over my children and I'm afraid that by my own strength I am falling short more than I am rising above.

And to that end, I want to resolve to at least begin my extraordinary journey by waking up with my husband and beginning each day in some sort of communion with my God.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Go Tribe!

Growing up baseball was a huge part of my life. Always a fan, but never of one particular team. I didn't particularly have "a team", though the closest would have been the Chicago Cubs. When I met Eric, it didn't take long to learn that he was a die hard Cleveland Indians fan. Let me make it clear how much I love die hards. I think there are few things in life sweeter than someone who sticks with a team even through the bad years. My man is that kind of fan! After we married and my brother's playing career ended, I was quickly converted to a Tribe fan.
So here we sit watching game seven of seven in the ALCS. For those that don't know, this is the Championship game. The last chance to make it to the World Series for a chance at being #1. The Indians surprised everyone this year. In many ways making it this far is better than most thought they'd do this year. But once a team makes it this far, the fans get greedy and want it all. The great thing about this particular series is that they've shown up to play every game...every game except last night. They were up 3 games to 1 against Boston and we thought they had it in the bag, but last night the Indians might as well have stayed in Cleveland. They got beat 12-2.
12-2! in the 6th game of the American League Championship Series! Honestly!
It's great to be married to a die hard fan until there is a moment like this. We literally went to bed without speaking. Eric was so mad that anything he had to say was unpleasant so it was better to just not talk. Though as a fan myself and one who was born hating to lose, it was hard for me to watch too. You can't blame a guy for being mad at his team when he's been waiting for a moment of Tribe glory since he was a little kid.
For the last month, we have found ourselves up many nights cheering on our team with knots in our stomachs. Unfortunately we find ourselves eating our way through many of the games. For weight loss purposes only, we would like this craziness to end. In every other way, we continue to cross our fingers and hope for the best.
No matter what happens tonight we will remain Tribe fans. This is how die hards are made!
Go Tribe!

Monday, October 15, 2007

What Not to Wear...at Pathway

This morning I am feeling refreshed after a very spiritually productive weekend. I went to a women's retreat at the church we've been attending--Pathway Community Church. I went not really knowing anyone and in many ways, that's the way to go. I know that not everyone is like me and this type of instance would make them uncomfortable enough to not go at all. My belief is that often times when we attend an event with a friend you limit your opportunities to meet other people because you stay comfortable with whom ever you came with. Now don't get me wrong, most times in my life you will find me with friends going hither and yon. The circumstances being what they were this time, I really had no choice. I really wanted to meet some other women at the church especially because I am convinced that God is calling me to serve in women's ministry in some way. In what way exactly, I still am not sure. But I am so happy I went.
The theme of the weekend was based on the TLC show What Not to Wear. The speaker took the concept of the show and really found and presented some profound truths. It was really excellent teaching and some even better fellowship. It's just a matter of fact in this stage of our life that we are unlikely to make many significant connections without attending an event like this simply because our Sundays are spent getting our kids to their classes, enjoying the service together and then scurrying to get our kids from their classes and then out the door.
Participating in an event like this was terrific because it opened up doors for me to meet other women and then in turn we have the opportunity to introduce our husbands...thus making a connection. That is a large part of what fellowship is about for us. We have always loved knowing who we were serving and worshipping with.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Discipline or something...

I'm inspired to write this morning...well because of myself! First I just have to comment on how fast the time has gone by. Whenever I log on to post a blog, my site tells me the last time I posted. September 27! I can't believe how fast the time has passed. Which leads beautifully into the inspiration for this post.

When I last had a good run of blogging consistently, I remember thinking...and even writing, how motivated I felt to continue this "habit" or discipline. And as I've shared many times before, writing is what I love to do. It's very good for my soul. Somehow though, like many other things in my life I have failed to be consistent for more than a couple weeks. Ugh!

Surely I'm not the only one who struggles with this lack of discipline. Though, I refuse to use that as an excuse or justification for this issue that persists in my life. When I reflect on myself (which occurs far too little) I am always painfully aware of my weaknesses, which include sticking with "the program", whatever that may be. I confess that I do better when there is an actual program to follow. Case and point for my success with Weight Watchers.

I wish that I were the type of person who had naturally ingrained discipline that came easily. I am certain that I would have more accomplishments to speak of and I would likely be a more confident and humble person. But rather than focusing on what I am not (though I think there is value and recognizing our weaknesses), I shall focus on what I am (though not in this post).

I have always believed and demonstrated that I am a dreamer. I aspire to many things and hope to be many things...some of which I have become and many I continue to hope for. Though I hate to make excuses, there are some excuses that I think are valid. One excuse I have for my wavering discipline with things like keeping up my blog more regularly, is my eternally unpredictable routine. A result of having 3 kids who are just being kids. Am I blaming my kids for my lack of discipline? Okay, a little, but this much I know is true... If I want it bad enough, I will find a way to achieve it!
Dear God, Give me discipline this day!--Amen

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Life With Friends

Today I am struck by how good it is to be among friends. This week in particular we have spent a lot of time with our friends here and I can't even tell you how wonderful it is. Having friends here to do life with has allowed us to engage more in this community within the span of 2 months than we ever did in 3 years when we lived in Illinois. Of course, I'm not suggesting that our lack of participation in the community in Illinois was a result of our friendships. In fact, to the contrary, our lives in Illinois were mostly spent dealing with pregnancies and adding members to our family. Having two kids in that much time and then learning how to adjust to life pretty much took up our "free" time.

Now that we are here, we have figured life out a little more and we are ready to participate in life outside of our home. And that's just what we've done. But having great friends here has allowed us many opportunities that we wouldn't have had for a while. Upward soccer is a great example. Andrew and Eric participated in their first soccer practice of the season on the same day that our stuff arrived from Illinois. My participation in the Weight Sense class at the Y came as a suggestion and invitation from my friend Kristen. Further, we are engaged in a small group with our friends at Christ Church and Eric is participating in Men's Fraternity at Blackhawk. It's all a result of sharing life with friends with like values and a common purpose--striving to do life God's way and not our own.

I admit that we have found ourselves occasionally fretting over the things that come with any move and relocation, but never so much that we wished to by anywhere but here. And the truth of the matter is that those things we find ourselves worrying about are never out of God's control and always present an opportunity for growth if we are willing to take advantage of it.

Today, I am inspired to post this because of the blessing I am experiencing through my friends Kristen and Jill. Thank you both for your friendships!

Sunday, September 23, 2007

To "B" or not to "B"

Here's a story for the books... in fact my mom suggested I write a children's book based on the following story. Each of my children has a story or two that I really hope I remember to tell them at an appropriate time in their adult-hood. This is one of Alissa's:

Alissa is the one of my three that we lovingly refer to as our "Linus." Linus, as I'm sure you all recall, is the Charlie Brown character who carries his beloved blankie around with him everywhere. Alissa has a blankie and a thumb (well 2 thumbs, but she'd just as soon have the left one removed cause she has the right one in her mouth 50% of the day). This story is about her blankie. Her blankie is called "B". Actually, I think that "B" is the Sabel family name for each of the kids blankies. My niece has a "B" and each of my kids has a "B", but Alissa seems to depend on hers more than the others. B is white, with satin on one side and the really, really soft stuff on the other. B is actually a blanket that was a gift from grandma Sabel to Anna, when she was born. A sad truth about third children is that many things get handed down. Thankfully this blanket had hardly been used when Alissa began her deep love for it. In fact I may have had to cut the tags off for her to use it.

For Alissa, B is everything. She laughs at the site of B on the other side of the room. B can stop a temper tantrum, heal a bonked head, but most of all, B must be present at all resting times. Naps and night-night are the most important times of the day for B to be present and accounted for. Many people mistake Alissa's behavior with B for tiredness, when in fact when Alissa comes in contact with B, no matter what time of day or what state of alertness (wide awake or half asleep), she automatically cuddles B on the floor as if she is about to fall asleep with her thumb in her mouth. It's very cute.

Two weeks ago grandma and grandpa Melby came to visit us at our new home. This was the first time they'd seen our new house so we were very excited to show them around. On the Friday evening that they arrived we spent some time outside showing them around and then we came inside for the remainder of the evening. While we were outside, the kids joined us and B was also tagging along. I was quite aware of B's presence with Alissa and I am always sure that she returns safely inside the house with B. That evening, after eating pizza that we had delivered to the house, it was past bedtime for the kids and we were ready to lay them down. Only my worst fear was about to be realized. B was missing! So for nearly 2 hours, 4 adults and 3 children searched high and low, leaving no pillow unturned, no drawer or cupboard unopened, no trashcan left un-sifted-through, no toilet unchecked. B was not to be found and each one of us was left dumbfounded as to it's whereabouts. Alissa, as you can imagine laid in bed that night and literally cried herself to sleep. It took several hours.

Even after the kids were in bed, as the adults engaged in conversation and catching up, we could be found occasionally jumping up to "check one more place". The entire weekend went by and we continued to talk in code about the silly blanket as if to pretend that Alissa didn't' know what we were talking about (I'm sure she didn't and I'm sure it wasn't because we were talking in code). I made a valiant effort to find an identical B at the same store the original was purchased at, but was not surprised that 2 1/2 years later, it wasn't there. I was able to find a suitable replacement. And believe it or not, we had success in fooling her into believing it was "B". I finally understood why everyone suggests that if you have a child with an object of affection, you should purchase 2 of the same thing...for instances like this.

The one comment I made during this fiasco was that I was certain that if B ever showed up again, it would be because Alissa happened to find it hiding and then I would never have the gratification of knowing where it was all this time. It's like Murphy's Law!
After a few days, I put B out of my mind. I stopped torturing myself trying to find it, after all the replacement was sufficing and it mattered not where the original was.

The following Saturday afternoon, Eric and I were gathering the kids for nap time. It was a typical Saturday and the naps were coming a tad on the late side so Alissa was curled up in the family room on one of the throws we use on the couch. She was like a little angel all curled up with B. I went to pick her up, but grabbed B first and was SHOCKED to realize that she was laying there with original B. My prediction came true before my eyes. She had stumbled on B somewhere that I had no idea of and I'm quite certain she had no idea that there was even a difference. I was beside myself with frustration. Where on earth had she found it? I pulled the other two kids aside for questioning like it was a police investigation. "Do you know where Alissa was when she discovered B?" They each answered the same, that they had no idea. I joke that they must have all been in on it together just to bug Mom.

No matter what, that's the story of B. Lost and found.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Bathtime woes

I am faced with a hearbreaking circumstance right now with my sweet little Anna. Somewhere along the way she's developed a crazy, rotten fear of her baths. I think of it specifically this morning cause I gave baths that should have been done last night. Just the mention of a bath and Anna falls apart. The common scenario is me gently forcing her in the tub, speaking soft and kind to her all the while. Anna is screaming bloody murder. My inclination is to say "Fine, I can't handle seeing you this way, so forget the bath." But the "mom" in me knows that she'll end up being the stinky kid. Who wants that? So, there she is standing in the tub--not a chance of her sitting down--I always let her feel the water first and give one of her bath fishes a bath. She enjoys those two things, but inevitably I do need to actually bathe her. As soon as the water hits her body, she hangs her entire torsoe out of the tub onto my lab. Of course as you can imagine I always end up with as much water in the bathroom as in the tub. The tricky part is washing her hair now that it's down to the middle of her back. It actually requires some effort to wash it. Once I pry her off of my lap, I use the shower sprayer to gently wet and wash her beautiful hair. If any water runs down her face, she has the look of complete terror and fear. Of course you can imagine that I finish as quickly as possible. Then it's on to the other two with Anna curled up on my lap recovering from all the trauma.

Bath time used to be one of my favorite and their favorite times of the day. The kids would always beg to play longer in the tub. They'd splash and play for sometimes an hour before I made them get out. It was so enjoyable. But now, I literally dread doing baths. Andrew still loves it, Alissa is rather indifferent at this point, but getting Anna done is the real chore. I confess that I've let days go by without baths cause I don't have it in me to do it at the end of the day.

I hear that there are times around 2 years old when some kids develop odd fears to things they never feared before. I also hear they grow out of it. Please, let her grow out of this fear sooner rather than later. If anyone reading this has any wisdom or ideas on the issue, I'd be happy to hear them. But for now...happy bathing to everyone else!

Monday, September 17, 2007

erinsdailystuff.blogspot.com

That's right, I have another blog. This time I hope to dedicate the space to my goals etc. If you feel so inclined, I am posting my well earned knowledge and other stuff at the address listed in the title.
I'll also include it on my homepage that way you can jump right to it! Yea!
As you know the church has always been a big part of our lives. We have found ourselves most joyful when we are pouring ourselves into the service of the Lord and His church. It has been exciting to look back on all the different ways God has led us to serve and all that we have learned along the way. We consider our work along the way, not for our gain, but for the greater good of The Kingdom.

We have never been disappointed in where God has landed us in the way of serving the church. I'm not saying we have not been discouraged and frustrated along the way, but when we have been confident of His direction, we have not been disappointed. After all, God does not promise the life of service to be without trial, but He does promise to reward those who are faithful. Please understand that I'm also not suggesting that I or we have been perfectly faithful either. In fact, my faith is like shifting sand, changed by every wave (to quote a lyric by Caedmon's Call).

In coming here, we were confident that God would lead us to the place he had preordained for us. We were more confident than ever in this, following such tremendous leading along this most recent journey. It should have been no surprise to us that the church we would call home was just a 5 minute drive drive from our new home. Pathway Community Church is a growing, thriving church in Fort Wayne and we are thrilled to begin this leg of our walk at this church.
I will post the website on my blog's homepage if you would like to check it out.

This past Sunday, the pastor gave a message that was incredibly relevant to our lives now. And many other's lives I am certain. To illustrate his message that dealt with how easily we put everything else in front of God and other things vital to our joyful existence, Pastor Rob used Covey's stones in a jar demonstration. It goes like this, first he pours sand into a jar that represents all of the things that we consider important in our lives and set as priorities. Things like work, school, practices, meetings, events, cooking dinner, grocery shopping, doing laundry, etc. All things important. Then, once the sand filled the jar nearly to the top, he used tennis balls to represent God, our physical and mental selves, our marriages, and other things that should take priority in our lives. With the sand that filled the jar, there was no room left for the tennis balls. The object of this lesson is that if we put the tennis balls in first--our God, our health our marriage, and then put the sand in after those things...it all fits quite perfectly. Though I've seen and heard this demonstration a few times, this time it made a different impact.

When we moved here, Eric and I both said at different times, "this is our chance to make a fresh start." The unfortunate part is that we are finding ourselves falling right back into our old ways. Praise God for His timing and that our hearts were ripe for this particular message.
It is time for us to get our priorities straight. Putting God first has been our way of life for a lot of years now, but we are constantly faced with the spiritual battle that rages in this world and in every part of our lives. My prayer is that God would help us fight the good fight and that we, with Him in the lead would reign victorious. Our hope is to raise our three children to be Christ followers and to love and serve Him in a much greater way than we ever have. To see this type of fruit in our lives, we must put God FIRST!

A hard lesson learned

A humbling situation:
If you read my blog regularly (though I know I've been MIA for a little while), you know that I take a lot of pride in my writing. If you don't read regularly, you should know that I take a lot of pride in my writing to understand the full impact of this story. Writing is an outlet for me. I find myself a lot more peaceful when I write. I don't just writ in my blog, I write in many other places. I have this public blog as well a few private blogs (just for me) and a couple ongoing Word documents too.
If you read a few posts back, you know that we recently went through a pretty major relocation from Chicago to Fort Wayne, IN. The circumstances that surrounded the relocation were absolutely nothing short of divine. During that time I experienced God siting after God siting. Thankfully, I was also inspired to journal each step of the way. It was a prompting from the book that inspired me to pray about our geographic place in life. It was exciting to look back even days after to see how God was continuing to move us...literally.
I was broken and humbled when, shortly after our move, our laptop crashed and our hard drive got fried. Literally, lost every last thing that was on there. Including of course my accounts of the last few months. Our research into recovering hard drives revealed that it would cost us up to $4000 to get the information back. So, we wait.
I tell you this tragic story because it is the precurser to why I plan to publish my journaling on my blog, some of it public, some of it private. I figure this way I'm less likely to lose my content. I understand that I should have backed everything up and so forth, but hey, chalk it up to a really hard lesson learned!

My hope is find myself doing a lot more writing and NOT losing it!

Friday, September 14, 2007

Just another day

It must be FRIDAY! Today, I found myself feeling easily irritated with my children. Please tell me I'm not the only one that goes through this! I'm always painfully aware of the time in my monthly cylce. I wish it weren't true, but I confess that I am a moody period person. That aside, my kids seemed to know exactly how to push my buttons this morning. Here's the story:

Tonight is picture night for the kids. I found some cute new outfits for each of the kids and a new pair of shoes for Andrew (I didn't really want his Spiderman shoes in the picture). This morning I decided to try the shoes on him. So we sat forcing stiff new shoes on his feet. He complained the whole time. All after he complained all morning that he wanted to put his new shoes on. As we sat on the steps and struggled, Alissa comes around the corner with her bowl of cheerios that are supposed to remain at the table. Lacking coordination, she proceeded to dump them all on the floor. When I raised my voice demanding that she pick them up, Andrew decided to chime in on the discipline.
This is a problem that I have with him frequently. When he hears me discipline one of the girls, I find him yelling along with me. It's very frustrating to say the least. Because my words get lost in his yelling. So, at that moment I sat and tried to strongly explain to him why he isn't allowed to do that. No more than 2 minutes later a similar scenario occurred. And I snapped.
As a mother, I am baffled by the things my kids hear and understand and the things they appear to hear but clearly DON'T understand. We had just had this discussion about not yelling at the girls and he did it again. This time he experienced more discipline than that which I was implementing toward Alissa. I'm pretty sure he got it this time. And to demonstrate the stark differences in my children, when the moment of discipline was coming to an end, my beautiful Anna looked up pointing to a toy she had in her hand and said, "Look, it's a flower!" I thought it to be a very symbolic comment at the end of a difficult teaching moment.
When this much drama occurs in my home before the hour of 9am, I am ready for a break. And so here I am. It isn't often that I actually send my kids into the family room for the specific purpose of watching TV, but this was a moment that I needed to be alone. Thankfully Sesame Street was on. Somehow I make myself feel better about them watching shows like that. A subject for another post!

For the last 20minutes, I have only had a couple of interuptions from my kids trying to be space walkers, walking on the moon. But after listening to the worship set on my ipod and writing for a bit, I am confident that I am better for the day.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

We Made It!







So much time has past since I've actually composed a new pattern of thoughts. The one previously posted was acually a blog I began while staying at my brother's house while we were in transit. I just took the time to complete it cause there were many things worth saying in that blog. But this one comes to you afresh. Though there are many many times in the past 2 months that I wished I had more time to just sit and write. By all means this doesn't encompass all that I should have blogged, but it's a start.

It feels so good to be in our house where we have a room that we can actually use as an office. Though is doubles as a guest room, which makes it incredibly inviting to sit and write. The week we closed on the house the contractors were here to repair a crack in the I-beam of our basement wall. It was a hidden problem that wasn't really a problem yet, but would be in a matter of time if left unrepaired. The upside is that the seller paid for the repair, the downside is that the contractor was here for over a week with his big, ol' Bobcat parked in our yard (as you can see in the picture). Within a couple weeks we had the basement repaired, the whole inside of the house painted (not by us), the air conditioner serviced (big time), and several pieces of new furniture purchased and delivered. All to make it more like our home, but I was so happy when all the people who didn't belong in our house were out of it. The kids were glad too cause now they can run free!

Since we've been here--3 weeks and 1 day--Andrew and Eric started fall soccer with Upward Soccer League (the picture of the kids sitting in a circle). Upward is very cool in that it is church based and a huge outreach to the community. In fact this year, there are 310 kids playing with Crossbridge Community church (only one of several in the area hosting Upward) and only 10% of them are churched! The team spends time having devotions and scripture learning each practice and are rewarded for sportsmandship at each game. It's so awesome and Andrew is loving it--and so is Coach Eric. In addition to starting soccer, Andrew also turned 4. We celebrated with not one, not two, but three birthday parties for him. The first was just us, the second was with grandma and cousin Ella and the third was with his friends here. Loads of fun each one!

The girls are loving their new house and even sharing a room. Alissa is indeed our acrobat as she spends at least a few minutes of each of her days in the time out chair for climbing on top of the table. She climbs on every single solitary thing that is climbable. Luckily we have a swingset gym in our backyard that she quickly figured out how to climb to the top of...without assistance I might add...and it's a rock climbing wall to get to the top. She has no fear.
Anna has loved having extra space to play dress up and make believe. She is our creative thinker. She loves to sing, dance and exercise. At any given moment she'll be heard saying, "Look at this great exercise." She is a sweetheart through and through ready to help anyone anytime! A girl after her momma's heart!

Eric is enjoying his job, enjoying the shorter commute and enjoying being near good friends. I am still trying to get the house in order. Each day it seems like I take a notion to tackle a new box that lurks in the garage. Eventually they will all get emptied. Before winter hits is my goal!

To say that God is good is an understatement. Today, I was reminded in my rare quiet moment that God is still faithful and active even when the great revelation of activity subsides a bit. This move was divine to say the least. To see God work in such obvious ways is rare, but refreshing. Now it's time to get my game face on again and wait expectantly for His next activity in my life. It feels good to be HOME!

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Pieces that FIT!

What a great opportunity to sit and reflect on all that God has done in our lives. Ordinarily I would preface that with a time frame, especially being that in the past month we've seen God at work in really big ways, but it has occurred to me and Eric multiple times that the movement we've seen recently really began a long time ago. As far back as the beginning of college... for both of us, which, if you know us, you know that there are 7 years between us. Never did our college years collide. However, we can both look back and link many of the things that are continuing to happen now to the time that we were in college (respectively).

For Eric, he began his college days at Bowling Green State in OH back in '89/'90, graduating in 1994 after studying abroad in Japan for a year. His studies in Japan and his knowledge of the language and culture landed him his first job out of college in Lafayette, IN at Subaru.

It's easy to see why God led him here... ME! Just kidding, although not entirely! Eric's spiritual journey is a true testimony to God's passionate pursuant of His children. The short of it is that Eric finally realized and took ownership of his faith while at BG going to a Great Commission Ministries church. Getting transplanted to begin his first job in Lafayette led him to seek out the GCM church at Purdue Univ.

For me, my journey through college was not nearly as traditional. I spent the first year out of high school at Johnson Bible College in Knoxville, TN. I went all alone, no friends tagged along. God was so good when he blessed me with my first roommate, Kristen Henkle. You'll read more about her later. While at JBC, I developed tremendous friendships and grew in many ways. The thing that was lacking for me was the true college experience. When I look back, my decision to leave was both for academic purposes and social purposes. I will say the later was a poor reason to leave an amazing environment. But leave I did. Back to Purdue where I goofed around and pretended to study along the way. After a year, I took a semester off and then chose a small, private nursing school where I finally got serious about being an adult. During that time, I also got serious about my relationship with God. Through circumstances truly divine, I began attending the GCM church at Purdue called Grace Campus church.

You can easily see the connection that I'm about to make. Here are a few sidenotes worth noting however. During my time at Purdue, my two most steadfast friends from JBC were Kristen and a guy named Patrick... they ended up married!!! In the time that Eric was at GCM long before I was ever around, he developed a friendship with Todd, who, as the story goes, Eric's mom thanked for being friends with Eric. Todd was the person who, with all his personality, truly befriended Eric from the start.

Eric and I met, fell in love and married all within a few years. After a year or so of marriage, it became clear that Eric just wasn't happy at work. He began pursuing his MBA at Purdue and that was a time that opened many doors and caused Eric to realize that there's a lot more out there than this. So he began the job search, landing us in the Chicago Suburbs. All the while, we had our son and had our daughter on the way. And of course promptly one year after her, came our third and final baby!

Ah the burbs! This was a great carreer move for Eric and a real character and faith builder for all of us. I was tested to my core on what seemed like all levels. As a real extaverted person, I was really lacking for friendships. We were challenged in our beliefs and our concept of the institution of church. Our marriage was tested and grown as we added children to our family and found ourselves in a rather small living space and the reality of HAVING to live by a budget. All good things I will admit. The children especially. Our three kids have added to our lives in ways unimaginable. Yea God! But the suburbs was not the ideal place for us. Neither of us really wanted to raise our family there forever, but we were prepared to do so if God had that in store.

There was a particular weekend that we had gone to Fort Wayne to visit our friends Todd and his family as well as Kristen and her family. I now mark that as a life changing weekend because of the inspiration that I was left with. When I returned home, I picked up my Beth Moore book "Believing God" and began to read and accept the challenges therein. And I began to pray for God to move in a very specific area of our lives. I was actually asking God to move us. I was desperate to be surrounded by people who loved me and spurred me on in my faith. And not just me, but my whole family. Finally, my motive was completely God centered. I was and am certain that we are more effective for God's Kingdom when we are in like company.

In her book, Beth challenges us to set a time that we would pray specifically and to then see and record the activity that we see God doing. And I kid you not, it was within weeks that Eric was made aware of the open position in Fort wayne with the same company. Of course my immediate response was an awesome wonder of an awesome God. In life, there are very few moments where God shows up so clear. The short of that piece of the puzzle is that Eric posted for the position, interviewed for it and then accepted an incredible offer to relocate.

Though that's the short of it, there are smaller pieces that fit in there that make the evidence of God clearer than the light of day. If it weren't enough that two of our dearest friends both in life and in faith were Fort Wayne locals, Eric, during his interview learned that his new boss was also a Bowling Green graduate. And what's more is that she is a Christ follower. I don't know a single Christian who is serious about their faith that wouldn't love to be in an environment where it's okay to talk about it. What a blessing and further evidence of God moving us in this direction.

Many more pieces seem to fit perfectly into this puzzle that was being revealed before us. And I am convinced that if we had resisted this move, God would have quite literally picked us up and moved us himself. In many ways, it feels like that's what happened. Life is good when we are embraced by the Spirit, but even better when it's so obvious that the pieces are fitting correctly.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Home???

Getting from here to there is turning out to be one of the harder parts of this transition. There was no question in my mind that showing and selling the house was going to be difficult to do with just me and the kids at home during the day. But when it really happened it was at least as hard as I thought it would be. I was hoping that it'd be easier than I thought, you know like when you build something up in your head as being really hard or really bad and then the reality of the matter is that it wasn't so bad... probably cause you thought it was going to be SO bad? Well, not in this case. If you can imagine, I had to move all the toys out of the house. By that I mean that each day I'd bring in a plastic tub of toys from the garage for the kids to play with. We had no shoes in the house, plastic on our newly cleaned carpet, no snacks anywhere but the table and a mother constantly hollering "No." It was not fun, not for me or for the kids, especially the kids I'm sure! But God is faithful isn't He.

We spent the first weekend that we could in Fort Wayne searching for a house. That was the first weekend in June. We were placed with an outstanding realtor who knew the Fort Wayne area very well. We had a number of homes on our list that we wanted to see, 10 to be exact. Going from one to another was very tiring and I must say, I have a new respect for realtors that are good. We saw some that we liked and some that we could easily scratch off the list. Our realtor recommended that we narrow it down to three and see them each again.

In hind site I recognize that I was more focused on seeing the one house that I wanted to see that I had put myself at a disadvantage for seeing the others. There was a home that I had seen online that I had my heart set on and it was the second to last home that we saw. Thankfully, God gave Eric the right eyes to see each house. In this way, Eric showed true leadership of our family by choosing a house for the top three that made no impression on me initially (mainly because I was more interested in seeing the one than I was in looking at all the rest. I was praying that the one I'd seen on line wouldn't let me down in person, but in hind site, I can honestly say that it really did. At the end of the day, the house that made the impression on Eric and not on me initially is the one we bought. I give total glory to God for that because had it not been for Eric's thoughtful eye, we never would have this perfect house for us. I have since fallen in love with the house. In fact, it only took one more visit to the house to look for me to fall for it.

Still, I had the stress of how I would handle the upcoming days and weeks as we tried to sell our house. Here again another piece to this never ending puzzle has fit perfectly together. As suggested by my mom and dad at the time that we were house hunting (they joined us in Fort Wayne mainly for child care purposes) I come to you by way of my brother's computer here in my home town. It worked out that my brother is away coaching for the season and as soon as school was out, Katie and the girls joined him, leaving their house empty. They were gracious enough to let me and the kids come stay here while they were gone and we were in limbo. We are very grateful. So, until we sell our house and/or we close on our new house, this will be our home. So far, the kids love it. Though we've only been here 24 hours. It does work out nicely cause there are plenty of toys for the kids. Andrew is getting in touch with his feminine side and the girls love all the girly toys. The neighbors are nice and we are close to family and friends. All around a great deal, although we do miss Eric and aweful lot already!

We are praying that we will have some more activity and lookers at our house and that we are able to move the closing date of our new house up so that we can make the final step in this transition and finally be HOME!!!

Thursday, May 24, 2007

1, 2, 3



Just a great picture of my babies getting ready to start the hot summer months.

It's GREAT news!



I know that my most recent post revealed our biggest, life chaning news. But there's no question that that post in particular was filled with mixed emotions. After a couple of days that have been relatively normal, it just feels right to make the big announcement in a fun way. The truth of the matter is that we are overwhelmed with excitment and joy about the things that lie ahead for us. We are confident that this move will bring great things.
If any of you were a fly on any one of the walls through out our house, you would likely find the day to day rather comical at this point. Trying to pack and organize with a 1, 2, and nearly 4 year old running around is a challenge to say the least. I have been finding myself wishing that I could get inside the kids' heads to know how they are feeling about all the chaos that is going on around them. Andrew understands that we are going to be living in a new house soon. But the girls have very little capacity of understanding what is going on.
For that reason, I am hoping that as soon as we get our assigned realtors both here and there, that the process will move very quickly. I certainly want the kids to share in the same joy that we have about what God has done by moving us to Fort Wayne.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Mountains and Valleys

Okay, so my faithful readers finally got through to me. Yes, I know it's been a while since I've posted. Usually, you can take that to mean that something big is going on. And indeed in this case that has been true. Writing is such an outlet for me, that if I'm not posting on my blog you can be certain that my writing is taking place elsewhere. As I shared in my last post, I have been reading "Believing God" by Beth Moore. A terrific book that I highly recommend. In the book she challenges her readers to begin recording God's movement in your life. Even to challenge him on something and then keep a record of how specifically he is moving in that specific area. I'm so glad I accepted the challenge.

As you know, if you read my most recent blog, I have been seeking God for wisdom and guidance regarding one specific area. I find that it's so difficult when I think I know what the right answer or solution is to a problem, but God's doesn't seem to line up with mine. Ultimately, it is safe to say, He will always be right and choosing His way over mine will always reap the most blessing! Thankfully, He responded to my prayer in the most favorable way. I find too, that most things will turn out seeming favorable if I am truly believing His best. And truly trusting Him. If I am not trusting him to reveal His best for me, then it is likely that I have something entirely different in mind and therefore His way will appear unfavorable.

I am happy to share that God's specific answer to the cry of my heart has led us to transplanting our family to Fort Wayne, IN. The events leading up to this job transfer for Eric are nothing short of miraculous. And I say that with every ounce of my soul. I hope at some point to sift through the record that I have kept of God's hand at work in our lives for the past month and post excerpts. It has increased my faith possibly more than anything else has in my life, with the exception of the revelation of my future husband when I was 21 years old.

We have rejoiced at this opportunity and thanked God on every level for the chance to be surrounded by friends who love us and who love the Lord! Is there a better circumstance to be in during this life?

I know that it is quite evident to my readers that we have struggled in this place. The struggle has existed on many levels. The Spiritual level tops them though. The difficulty finding the right church fit has been exceptionally frustrating, but when I was able to look beyond the frustration and believe that God had something great in mind for us, the Holy Spirit literally took over my anxiety and frustration and replaced it with peace. His peace is a much more comfortable place to live than my fleshly anxiety, which admitedly would never cease to be there if it weren't for the Spirit's intervention in my life. Praise God for that!

The most recent turn of events qualify as one of my top 3 mountain top experiences in life. Mountain top experiences are really something. They are something that when they are happening, one certainly wishes would never end, but without some valleys there would be no room for serious soul searching and spiritual growth. That has certainly been true in my life. I can remember looking forward to mountain top experiences every summer at church camp from the time I was 10 years old. Those were those precious experiences that truly mold child-like faith! The types that would send me home with a flame so hot for Jesus that I felt like I really could change the world for Christ! Those, while life changing at that stage in life, pale in comparison to the rarer mountain tops that I have experienced as an adult. These are the experiences that I believe God really meant to change lives. I am convinced that God has a strategy for each and every life to maximize our spiritual potential. Of course, we do have a part in our response to his movement. Will we follow or will we resist? Don't think that God isn't capable of changing His strategy according to how we choose. After all He is passionate about persuing us for His Kingdom. One (or even a thousand) wrong move on our part isn't going to blow His game plan for our spiritual lives and the blessing He intends for us. And thank goodness for that!

I have found that in the midst of incredible blessing you will always find a host of trials. As I consider my mountain tops, I am able to easily recall the trials that came at those times too. Isn't something how a trial in the midst of blessing can send us tumbling from the mountain and land us smack in the middle of a valley? And there we are urged to GROW!

As we rejoiced over the offer that Eric received and all that it meant, I found a trial waiting for me just over joyful mountain. Andrew began running a fever the day that we got the confirmation that we'd be moving. He has been more sick than I can recall he's been in quite a long time. Of course, it goes without saying that if Andrew is sick, the girls have gotten the same bug. If all three kids are sick, it's guaranteed that at least one of us is going to get some degree of the same sick! To maximize the growth opportunities (which is a nice way of saying, "trial to the max") Eric and I have both gotten sick. There are few things more frustrating and draining than being sick and caring for 3 sick kids. And as if it were't enough that we are all sick at the same time, Eric and I are pushing ourselves to muster up the energy to get this house ready to sell. The stress, the anxiety and the illness has turned into a serious valley on the heels of something so wonderful.

Don't get me wrong, I haven't lost total sight of that peak that I know still exists and is one worth striving to reach again. I am stunned by my flesh though. My devotion to my daily time with God has slipped away so easily under the pressure of this valley. And yet, this much I know is true, the only real way out of this valley is with that communion with My Father again.

Tonight, I was both challenged and encouraged by my beloved Husband. His challenge to me was to return to that same belief and unshakable faith. I am encouraged because he is right and this is him being my spiritual leader. Indeed, I am blessed!

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Beyond Measure

I'm sitting here engrossed in the song Beyond Measure by Jeremy Camp. It's so personal like it's being played just for me through the little ear buds attached to my ipod. I'm amazed at how right the words are for me right now.

"I know that I've been given more than beyond measure,
I come alive when I see beyond my fears,
I know that I've been given more than earthly treasure
I come alive when I'm broken down and giving you control"

Here's the direct application to my life...

Even though I know that I grow discontent quite easily with things in my life like the small size of my house, the distance that separates me and my friends or me and my family and many other things, when I'm serious about life and my spiritual walk, I am painfully aware that I have much more than many and more than enough at that. Currently, I am going through a wrestling match with God about what His plan is for our future. For many, many reasons that seem so obvious to me (and what I'm certain must be the same for God--showing my human-ness as I know full well that God does not think as I do) there is another place for us than here. In many ways, the thing that seems to be keeping us here is fear. And so I think, indeed, as the line says, I would come alive if I could see beyond my fear. And so in response, I wrestle with God... being broken down only to give Him control. Because, let's face it, any other way would only lead to destruction and failure. We must be obedient to The Almighty.

Part of my daily struggle, especially when I'm dealing with something so specific, is all of the outside noise that creeps in. It's difficult to discern what is the Voice of God. I confess that much of the outside noise actually comes from within... in other words, my flesh. I have so many desires that are not currently being fulfilled and yet it's almost as if I can see them just over the hill. In the book Believing God by Beth Moore she describes a scene tht she saw during a walk where two ducks splashed around in a mud puddle when there was a big, beautiful pond well within sight. How much like those ducks I feel.

The good news is that I am working really hard on believing God and believing truth. And this is the truth:
"Trust in the Lord and do good;
Dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture.
Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart."
Psalm 37:3&4

I claimed this verse when I was still single, but had a desire to be married. God's faithfulness to fulfill his promise brought me a man who I couldn't imagine was possible. Surely His promise will be fulfilled again.

To close I am encouraged by this Word from Ephesians 3:20
"Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine; according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen."

Glory!

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

An Unexpected Word

What I love about the Word of God is that the best insights can be drawn from the most unexpected places, especially when you are sensative to the voice of God. The place in the Bible where I think most modern day Christians exect to draw insight is from the New Testament and even more from the Epistles as opposed to the Gospels. This has been true quite often in my life. Obviously there is nothing at all wrong with drawing wisdom from Paul's or others letters, afterall they were challenging and encouraging what was to become the modern Church. What's just awesome though is that there is so much to be learned from "The Beginning." The Old Testament. God can speak to us volumes of wisdom by just opening His Word, if only we are sensative the Spirit's lead.

Here's how I ended up inspired by Exodus-- the most unlikely of books, for me. I was recently challenged to fast my Friends habit (if you are unfamiliar with my Friends habit, see post "Chandler, Monical, Joey, Phoebe, Rachel, Ross") Accepting the challenge, believing that it was a confirmation for a Holy Spirit stir that I already had, I pulled my recently purchased, "Believing God" by Beth Moore, off the shelf and began reading. The first chapter is dedicated to discovering our personal Promised Land, which Beth Moore believes (and I happen to agree) existes for each individual person. I was inspired to read about the original Promised Land that God gave to the Isrealites by way of Moses' divine leadership.

I have read Exodus before, notebly in my Pentateuch class at Johnson Bible College (which incidently, Kristen and I were just reminscing about--recalling our attempt at osmosis [sleeping with our heads on our Bibles] in order to get through the class). I've never noticed how many modern day lessons there are to be learned about God's soveriegnty-- and I've only read the first 2 chapters. I'm eager to continue through the Isrealites journey to the Promised Land.

The first considerable insight that I had was when Moses, who should have been killed according to Pharoah's current law and rule, was saved and actually returned to his mother for a time. I believe that this was God's divine gift to her for being obedient to Him and not succombing to her fear of the consequence. That in and of itself is layered with wisdom.

The next insight, I certainly don't claim as my own original idea, but credit the footnotes of my Life App Bible. I never would have considered the amount of courage that it took for the Hebrew woman and the Princess (Pharoah's daughter) to come together to save this baby boy. Courage on behalf of the Princess to interact with someone considered a slave and even more courage on behalf of Miriam, the Hebrew girl, to suggest something that is life sustaining for a baby boy to a blood relative of the one who made the law that he should be killed. The life application here is, "Don't let the fear of what might happen cause you to miss an opportunity. Be alert for the opportunities God gives you and take full advantage of them."

Again, I will say, this insight is layers deep with wisdom for me.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

A Full Tank

When I go for a period of time without people that I love around me to fill me up and encourage me, I start to feel like maybe I don't NEED that type of fuel for my tank, but then in an instant I am reminded that this is exactly the type of thing that leaves me feeling fulfilled.

Eric took 2 vacation days in order to make a trip to visit our friends in Fort Wayne, IN. At first we joked that we were taking vacation to go to Fort Wayne, where as most people take vacation days to visit somelplace exotic. We even endured a day of snow in the middle of April. It was worth it though for the amount of edificaiton we felt at the end.

How often do you leave vacation feeling challenged spiritually? As it turns out this was more than just a vacation. This was a trip that I truly believe was divinely appointed by God.

Who ever would have known or guessed that my very first pot luck college roommate would end up being one of my dearest friends? Or that our lives would end up being so similar. Outside of our respective carreer choices, our lives are so similar. She and her amazing husband have three precious boys very close in age. The other family that we had a chance to spend time with is one we consider an equal blessing in our lives.

A friend of Eric's from the time we spent at Purdue has remained as steadfast of a friend that there could be. He and his beautiful wife have three wonderful kids as well. I must say, what a relief to visit not one, but two families who get us. We don't have to explain ourselves and our kids to them. Not to mention that just being around people who are like us is something that you can't put a price on.

At the end of the weekend, I asked myself, "Why wouldn't I want to surround myslef with people like this?" The answer is that I really, really do!

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Set Me On Fire!

We're going on nearly 4 months now of not having a church that we can call our home. Not only that, we have just been so far below par spiritually that I am feeling a void like I've never felt before. It almost feels insurmountable. How will this void ever be filled. I am so empty that even the slightest bit of the Spirit moves me. I mean really rocks me. For example, last night we bought our new cell phones and here I am today listening to ringtones--a Jeremy Camp song and a Michael W Smith song just made me feel like getting on my knees. So, perhaps this reaction indicates that my heart is ripe. Ready for the harvest if you will. Please, Lord, harvest me! I am just desperate for some spiritual food. I just want to plop down and roll around in the Word. That's my visual for having a nice, long, deep date with the Lord. But, what I know is that the same thing that is happening to me right now will happen to me as soon as I embark on that activity... my children will choose to stand at my side and whine or demand my attention in some other way. As I type, my blessed Anna is standing here crying, "Mommy hold you." Which means, "Mommy hold me."

For as much as this scenario is reality for me each and every day, I can't use that as my excuse for letting my relationship with God the Father fall by the wayside. The problem is that I have no accountability with anyone right now, spiritual or otherwise really. Not even Eric and I are truly holding one another accountable. It seems logical that when all else fails, we should at least have each other for spiritual accountability. But we don't!

It never ceases to amaze me how one event or situation is actually so telling about deeper goings on. Here's ours... for what seems like a couple years now, there has rare been a night that we haven't gone to bed without a couple episodes of Friends on. It's totally my thing. It's very mindless to me and at the end of the day, if there is nothing to distract me from myself, I can lay awake for hours thinking about all the things from the day and all the things to come. The more I think, the more awake I become. So, on the surface, having my shows on is mearly a way to distract my brain. And it works. Every night, I fall asleep before the first episode is over.

There's more to it below the surface though. Eric brought to my attention the possibility that this ritual is covering up some important relationship stuff between us. Should we be spending that time discussing the day or talking about important things? I'm not talking about sex!

So, I woke up this morning feeling oh so tender from the event last night. I really was wondering, "what is this really about?" And one thought led to another and before I realized, the Spirit had convicted my heart which is why I am pouring it out here and now.

The truth is that I just don't feel like we have a vision for our lives right now. The dreams that I have used to seem so doable and slowly, I am being persuaded (by the enemy no doubt) that my dreams will die unfulfilled. I know in my heart of hearts that Eric and I have gifts that are not being used. Some that haven't been used for a long long time and perhaps some that have never even been tapped in to. I know they are there. I know that when we got married, we were joining forces to be stronger together than we ever could have been alone. We have never realized that strength.

My dream is to have a long term vision that is BIG! A vision that is inspired and led by God.

For example, when I think about where I have grown the most in my spiritual life, I instantly think of the Bible studies that I have participated in, in particular those written by Beth Moore. The thought process goes like this: I love to write and have vowed to myself that I won't die before I've done something with it. Eric has an incredible gift of insight and knowledge of the Bible. Together, we have always felt that your run-of-the-mill "Bible Study" that is written leaves something to be desired. Why can't we join our gifts and write Bible Studies? Bible studies that will change lives. Ones that will help people understand Truth for Truth. One's that dig into the Word and cause peole to invest in the Word. I just feel like we need something that we can invest our time in and I believe that we could actually do this.

Okay, before everyone yells at me for that statement, let me make it clear that our 3 little blessings (Andrew, Anna and Alissa) are most definitely our most important investment. We view them as our absolute priority especially when it comes to the mission field. We beleive that if we are helping lead others into a deeper relationship with Christ, but have failed to lead our children there first, then we have failed. They come first.

With that being said, I still believe that there is much left for us to do. I believe that there is something great for us to do for the Kingdom and delaying is hurting us more and more every day. Before we were married, neither of us was a mediocre Christian. Yet, somehow after we married, we went from fire hot for the Kingdom to lukewarm... almost cool. How does this happen?

One recent conversation revealed that we both feel a deep longing and a huge void that used to be full. Thank God that he leaves us feeling empty when we are not filled with Him. The conversation also revealed that there is some fear of what God will actually do once we commit to filling that void again. Will he stretch us so thin that we can barely manage (which has happened before, though I don't believe it was fully God who caused us to feel that way, indeed our flesh is still contending in that arena)?

I guess the bottom line question is this: Are we willing to take the risk of feeling stretched and uncomfortable, all the while receiving showers of blessings from the One we serve, or is it safer to stay in this life of mediocrity feeling comfortable in the world, but uncomfortable nonetheless because of the Holy Spirit's continual conviction of our hearts that there is a hotter life to be led than this?

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For

Wow, God is really taking us on an interesting journey through mountains and valleys and then some more valleys. I anticipate mountains up ahead anytime!

Through this journey, I'm learning that it doesn't really have an end. The end, in and of itself, is Heaven. Eternity! I can honestly say that I've never longed so much for that glorious place in the sky as I have on this most recent stretch of the journey. I find it worth my time and consider it to be cathartic to think back and recall the different legs of this journey that is CHURCH!

I've never found my childhood church experience to be all that interesting or significant when it comes to my adult church experience. By that I certainly mean no disrespect because come on, let's face it, in the big picture of things, my childhood church experience was the most significant as this is when I received salvation and began my eternity. What I mean by the statement is that I count it a blessing that my church experience as a child was fairly ordinary overall.

At this point in my life however, I begin to see it a little differently. My ordinary childhood in church left me convicted enough as a young adult that I knew the choices that I had to make when I was in college. Okay, okay, take one step back. College for me was interesting because as a result of my "ordinary" church experience, I was influenced by many counselors at the church camp that I attended every year for 10+ years. My first year out of high school, I attended a Bible College. The first example of indeed, an extraordinary childhood church experience. Had I never attended church camp year after year and experienced those first mountain tops with God the Father, I am quite certain that life would have landed me right in my little home town attending Purdue University fresh out of high school. Which is where I was mearly 2 semesters later.

In retrospect, Bible College was terrific. I had some of the deepest spiritual growth and some of the best foundational teaching on the Bible that I have ever had to date. Also, my friendships were blessed and challenged on all levels. But most of all, I would say that my rebellious flesh was starved. A good thing indeed! It's difficult to say what the strongest influencing factor was in my decision to return to Purdue. From a spiritual perspective, it's acurate to say that I had a sinful urge to "spread my wings" so to speak. Overextended my wings was more like it! From an academic perspective it's acurate to say that I lacked the passion to be in full time ministry and so being at a liberal arts university made more sense for me. Emotionally, I dearly missed my family and friends. While I can easily look back and say there are many reasons that staying amoung my Bible College friends would have benefitted me, it's difficult to say that I wish I would have made any other decision than the one I made though. No regrets... I guess!

Once at Purdue, I was living with my two best friends from high school plus another girl who quickly became a good friend. We were quite diverse I might add. 2 Asians, a
hispanic, and me-- Causasian through and through. Each one of us individually had a strong personal relationship with Jesus Christ. An ideal situation for us living on a secular college campus... One would think! For whatever reason, Satan got the best of each of us during our time together. Indeed, we each made our share of poor choices. Talk about a testiment to God's provision and protection for each of us!!!

At the end of it all, the Holy Spirit that lives in each of us won the battles that we fought individually. Thank God! The following year, three of the four of us moved to different apartment off campus and began making better choices. At this time, I returned to my childhood church and began meeting a need that the youth ministry had. I served as the Jr. High youth leader. This was a great experience and I enjoyed building into these young lives, but my heart was never truly passionate about this type of ministry. Plus, I was not being built into nor was I doing ministry with any of my peers. I can vivdly recall coming home to our apartment one day and hearing a message on our phone for my roommate that was from her small group leader. She was being built into at campus church where she participated in a small group of all women our age led by someone that I had a lot of respect for. I remember feeling that longing for something like that.

Soon after, I made the decision to turn over the Jr High group to a couple who had children that were still a large part of that church and I began attending Grace Campus church with my best friend/ roommate. A sigh of relief to say the least! At last, I felt like I was where I belonged for that stage in my life. I jumped in feet first at Grace. As soon as I could I auditioned for the worship team and made it. I made friends very quickly with people, men and women alike, who were the type of quality people that everyone wants in their life. I attended every church function that there was... and there was plenty. Too much maybe in retrospect. My life was filled with school and church.

Grace campus church facilitated the type of friendships and relationships with people that I believe every Christian should have. These people were honest to the core and genuine in their faith. These were friends that challenged and grew my faith by leaps and bounds. Here, I experienced worship in its truest sense. A real life connection with God the Father and a true expression of the Spirit's manifestation in my life and the lives of those around me. It was phenomenal to say the least. This is what church is! Finally!

Of course, the most important person entered my life during my time at Grace. The man of my dreams, the man who would become my beloved husband. Could it have been any sweeter? This is the man who was integral in teaching me about genuine faith and teaching me Bible truth! And then he became my husband! God is so good!

We have been able to look back and see the flaws that this church had. Indeed it goes without saying that there is no perfect church on this earth. We witnessed and experienced much legalism at Grace Campus Church. We also experienced overcommitment. Eric was a decon and involved in nearly every meeting that took place as well as being the worship leader, taking every detail of the worship team and preparation on himself. As for myself, I was commited to the worship team and to my small group as well as every other function that occurred. So, between the two of us, we were very busy with church.

As a step to extend our gifts and our ministry to our friends at work and school, we made a decision to leave the campus church and begin serving at a community church. We felt that this would open up more opportunities for us to invite our friends that weren't students to church increasing the liklihood of their comfort. This was important to us as a newly married couple. Our leaving was met with much resistance and nearly no blessing, sending or acceptance. Through this process we were hurt to the core and burned pretty badly. At the end of our time at Grace Campus Church, we experienced other hurts that came as a result of our beloved and well invested ministries. This, added to our difficult departure, left us with what felt like a lifetime of pain.

Following God's lead, we began attending Riverside Covenant Church. This was a newly formed church birthed out of one of the larger churches in town. Once again, we molded right in to this ministry as a whole. Those who knew of us by way of friends of friends attracted our attention almost immediately toward the worship team. As a developing church there were many opportunities to serve. Our passion developed quickly for the small groups ministry and together, Eric and I had the opportunity to lead a small group of young married couples. We felt that God laid before us the opportunity to invest in these people and share life with them. Our goal was to open the doors to real community and genuine faith as we had experienced it before. We only scratched the surface before we felt God moving us to a new state so that Eric could persue a job change.

This was tough. I had never moved away from home unless you count my year of Bible College. This was a permanent change for us. Thank goodness it was only a state away in Illinois. There were things both thrilling and totally scarey about moving to the Chicago suburbs. It was thrilling to think of starting anew. Everything fresh. Not only were our lives changing by way of location and occuapation, we were about 5 months away from welcoming our second child into our family. Our lives were really changing for sure.

Before coming to Illinois we did quite a bit of research in an attempt to find churches to visit. There's no long explanation to say that the first one we visited became our church home for the next two years. Community Chrisian Church is a church that is on the verge of becoming a mega church. A very cutting edge type of environment with your coffee shop lobby to draw in the seekers as well as a large stage in a very unconventional sancutary. Cutting edge music designed for seekers mainly and messages that addressed current issues and events. This was a place that absolutely met our needs for a time. We got plugged into a small group that consisted of young marrieds again. Of course as we are accustomed, we began serving. Though it's worth mentioning that our hearts were still so badly hurting from our previous church experience that serving was not exactly a high priority. Not to mention that we had a toddler and soon an infant. We were more inclined to actually be pew sitters (or chair sitters) for this time. But serve we did! I again on the worship team and Eric using his blessed teaching and insight gift as a small group apprentice.

It's difficult to put into words the turn of events that caused us to leave that environment. Suffice it to say that we were growing hungier and hungier for something a little more genuine and challenging. We felt that we were lacking the discipling that we once had and we were HUNGRY for more!

I find it so difficult because this was a place that for many has it all. I know that's true. Their strengths are many and indeed probably outnumber their weaknesses, but the areas that were weak for us were vitally a part of Spiritual growth causing us to go to God again and again with what he wanted for us. Again, our leaving was met with lukewarm sentiment from those in our group and for as much as we know, went unnoticed by the Pastor who we never actually knew (another difficult aspect for us). While we weren't left with as much hurt this time, we also hadn't invested as much this time. I would call the feeling bittersweet as we left CCC.

We had already begun our search for a new church by this time and had attended a small church plant called Life Connections a couple of times. This was a place that obviously had the right heart and was hungry for growth. The Pastor was speaking pure Bible truth without watering down any aspect of it. It was refreshing. We liked the environment but were unsure if our hearts were ready to jump into the church plant situation again. We weren't sure if we were actually looking for something more established. This was a qustion mark for us.

We attended one other church that was truly solid, but lacked with it's childcare. Obviously, this is a major deciding factor for us as we have 3 children ages 1,2,and 3.

It's so easy to get jaded on a search for the right church home. And jaded I am. I have found it easy to just believe that the place for us isn't out there. But one of the foundational truths that we believe is in the local church. God didn't give us our gifts to lay dormant and unused. It is vital to us that our children grow up going to church. We long to be challenged in our faith and built into. We are not looking for a place that allows us to just be comfortable Christians. We don't grow that way! We are hungry for community that has "it"! I find myself asking the question, "Does that place exist?" It seems like once you've experienced "it", anything less feels like your settling. And it does! We are not willing to settle. I believe that when scripture says that Christ came to give life and to give it abundantly, that this type of genuine, committed community is part of that abundant life.

Monday, February 12, 2007

Working For What?

Ephesians 2:8-9
8 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith--and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God-- 9 not by works, so that no one can boast.

Recently, I've been giving a lot of thought to church and how it relates to my faith in Jesus Christ. By all means, I believe in the Body of Christ and that we, as Christians, comprise that Body. I know it's an old cliche, even an children's song, that the people are the church, not the building itself. I know that to be true for sure. Beyond the church I grew up in as a child, which was in a church building, every church (except for our most recent) that I've served in has met in some other type of building. One intended for a different purpose than church. So, of course, I can say with all my heart that church is the people.

What happens to these people though? These people that are the Body. We all start working our tails off and say it's in the name of Jesus. Now, I'm not suggesting that many aren't serving Him, in fact I believe that He is pleased when we serve. Afterall, how else would a church function. No, but what I'm suggesting is that many many among this Body begin to lose focus. If what we are doing is for Jesus, then why are we complaining to one another about the burden of serving? Isn't that the million dollar question?

Now, let me step back for just a minute and make a preface if I could. I have friends that I know are serving the Lord for all the right reasons. And I know that even when they complain a little about their service it doesn't automatically negate the good that they are doing for the Kingdom. I'm trying not to generalize here.
With that being said, I think back to a recent conversation that I had with a friend that, like me, has grown a little disheartened by the state of the Church right now. I find it to be no coincidence that though we are living is separate states, nearly the same words could be echoed from us both. And it's not just the two of us! There is a startling state of being in the Church right now! Perhaps it's always been this way and I'm only recognizing it now. I don't know, but whatever the case, I'm troubled by it.

Getting back to the "works" idea that I began with. What I witness so often when I attend church, be it one that I am familiar with or one that I am trying out, is instead of going to experience God, people are running around "serving" and before they know it, service is over and it's time to get on with the rest of the day. Only to return mid week to run around again. Where are these people being filled? Where are they experiencing God? I guess it's not wonder that they are complaining!

I am convinced that most of these people, when asked, "why not take a break and just worship during the service and hear the message?", would respond, "Oh, I can't becuase who would do what I'm doing?" or "I'm committed, I can't take a break." That's when I think it's so important to turn to the Word and read the passage of scripture that I put at the top. The work we do in the church isn't going to save us. And I am certain that God is more pleased with those who are meeting with him through worship and are being changed by a message or teaching than those who are running around doing things that if left undone, wouldn't really matter.

Okay, so there's my piece on that. Let me just say for the record that I've fallen into this category of people that I just described above. And I've done it for all the wrong reasons. Impressing people is my main downfall. I've never lacked security in my saving relationship with Jesus Christ, but I have always had a bit of a need to impress people. Ask me what my reward has been... Nothing! I've gained nothing from attempting to impress those around me. At the times that I've let go of the idea that what everyone else thought really mattered and I've focused that energy on my communion with The Almighty? That's where the reward is! That's where I've been changed, filled, grown and loved! That's where it's at!

The Worst Part of Parenting

Most days I'm an optomist. One who likes to find the best parts of things like parenting. And I'll say, there are many great things. But, for the last week, we finally experienced what I certainly think was the WORST part of parenting.

All three kids were sick at the same time! I mean throwing up & diarrhea sick! What a nightmare. As soon as we had one kid cleaned up, it was time to clean up the next one! It all started Super Bowl Sunday with Andrew and quickly spread to Anna and Alissa by the beginning of the week. Of course, all I kept wondering was when Eric and I would get it. I mean come on, how could we avoid it?

By Thursday, Andrew was pretty much over it, but the girls still had it pretty bad. At one point on Friday I called my mom and just cried. There came a point in time after changing diapers about every 10 minutes that I just felt like I couldn't do it anymore!!!! I just needed my mom's voice and a little pep talk.
That afternoon Eric came home from work early... sick!

I was scheduled to complete my orientation and start on my own on the new unit at work on Saturday and Sunday respectively. It was fine and funny to joke about the irony of me ending up with it when I was supposed to work, but not so funny when it actually happened.

Saturday I went to work and felt rotten first thing, but tried to stick it out. By 3 or 4pm I was so sick and running to the bathroom frequently enough that it was interfering with my work. Not to mention that when I'm caring for ill people who are likely immunocompromised anyway, it's just not right for me to be bringing sick with me everytime I enter their rooms.

By 4:30, I was walking out the door. I did my best! But it never feels right to leave early, even when you know you are justified.

I was sick in bed for two whole days with a fever a large part of the time.

Today is Monday, the beginning of a new week and everyone seems to be feeling tons better. Eric's at work and I'm feeling good this morning. All three kids are up and about with no signs of illness.

Thank God that one's under our belt. At the end of it all, I give thanks for an amazing husband (whose birthday is today) who will clean up throw up and my kids who show that they need me and love me even when the situation is so glum. But mostly, I feel so thankful for a God who builds my character and showers me with blessings.

Monday, February 05, 2007

Da Bears... I mean COLTS!!!

Could you ask for a better Super Bowl? Who ever would have thought the Bears and the Colts facing off in the final showdown of the season? For me, my allegance was divided, I must admit. Growing up in Indiana, it goes without saying that I'd be Colts fan, but my childhood memory of those '85 Bears and the Superbowl Shuffle is so endearing, plus, Chicago is my home now! But, when it came down to it, and I had to choose a team (cause you know, you can't be for both teams...) my heart went with the Colts. Truly! I'm not just saying that cause they are the World Champs! I am so happy for Tony Dungy and for Peyton Manning. What a class act! I find it amazing that many times you'll hear a superstar say "Thanks to God", but the sincerity is lacking to say the least. Here, you have an owner and a manager that just emit their gratitude to The Almighty! So impressive-- which ironically isn't at all the purpose of their sentament.

Now, about the game itself. Have you ever seen more turnovers... in the first half, let alone the whole game? Crazy! And, as if Chicago wasn't already hard enough on Rex Grossman, this game will be hard to overcome. To have 2 missed snaps and an interception all in a row is tough, even if it is raining! I feel bad for the guy cause he's taken a lot of heat throughout the season. In a way, I was at least hoping he'd have a redeeming game... but the Colts would still win! Oh well, at least part of that scenario went my way! I hope that Rexy gets another shot at it.

Now, I guess it's on to the Pro Bowl and the end of the '06-'07 football season. Why do I love the end of the football season...?

Now it's time for the Big Show... Baseball season!

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Preschool or Not...

Oh, I have many thoughts about this topic. As you read please remember that I'm not a teacher and the thoughts that are here are the conclusions of much thought, prayer and common sense... and some advice from friends and family who are skilled teachers.

Anymore, preschool is absolutely expected. Every teacher friend that have has informed me that kids just go to preschool these days. It's no longer a question of "if" its a question of "when" will you send your child to preschool. This is true for parents that aren't teachers. I say that cause I have friends that are teachers who are just transferring the skills that they would ordinarily use in the classroom into their homes to teach their children and let's face it, those children are probably more prepared than other kids... academically. My sister-in-law and her mother, both teachers, made a point of letting me know that Kindergarten is more like 1st grade. And that kids are expected to learn in preschool the things they used to teach in Kindergarten. I believe it!

Here's my thoughts for my own kids, specifically Andrew since he's preschool aged! Last year, when he was 3 years old, I had him all signed up for preschool, registered and everything. At the last minute, we decided to wait. The main factors in that decision were that we had just had our 3rd child and the cost was pretty crazy expensive. Also, he was just barely potty trained which was a requirement for starting. I was really happy that we waited.

This year, just recently, we received the notice that it was time to enroll him if he was starting this year. Since last year and this year, we discussed that it was probably better to wait until Andrew was 6 years old to start him in Kindergarten. The reason is just because he barely makes the cut off--by less than a month--and we just think it's going to be better if he isn't always the youngest. With that knowledge in mind, it was time for us to consider preschool for this year. Quickly I had a different dilemma. The preschool of our choice has a 3 year old class and a 4 year old/preK class. Enrolling him this year and then waiting another year for Kindergarten would put him in the same class 2 years in a row. I was informed that the preschool uses the same curriculum each year.

Our discussion about the topic and the advice of some valued friends and family, led us to explore other options for this year instead of preschool. I decided that the value of preschool this year would come more in the way of socialization than anything academic. Andrew has shown us that he is pretty bright for his age as he can do many of the things that I understand they teach the first year of preschool. Our search led us to enroll him as a member of the gym that I go to (on my hospital's campus) and allow him to participate in something called Discovery Club. Here they are exposed to many different sports, both team and individual and they instructors develop the appropriate physical and emotional skills for their age group. There is no limit to the days per week that he can attend and the cost is less than half of the cost of preschool. A huge savings!

Our plan is to enroll him in preschool next year to truly prepare him for the school setting. This year I look forward to nurturing the academic skills that he demonstrates (as I am not a skilled teacher). He's quite good on the computer and I plan to use that to his advantage as there are many teaching tools on line and in the form of CD-Rom. Otherwise, I think he will benefit from the things that the Discovery Club has to offer.

If you want to see what Discovery Club is all about check out my link to my work website (Rush Copley--on the sidebar)and then go to the Healthplex link on the site.

Monday, January 22, 2007

Take Your Kids to Church

Many of you know that recently we made a change in churches. Which by the way, one of the hardest things to do. I have much to say about the church of America, but will save that for a future post. This post is dedicated to my thoughts about bringing children to church.

To be certain, a strength of our previous church was it's children's/youth ministry. In fact, the woman who was responsible for the leadership of this ministry was sought after by a mega church in California, where she eventually felt God was calling her. I think it's difficult for a church to develop a strong children's ministry. Difficult as it may be, I understand that research shows it's also one of the few key elements of a successful church. Of course, that makes sense. If people feel secure leaving their children for an hour or so, they'll keep coming back. Thus, a consistent group of attenders (please recognize that I am not suggesting that just because people keep coming back, that a church is "successful" or even "healthy")

We've recently attended a different church and I have found myself considering the worth of continuing to go to the effort week after week of bringing the kids to church. In the couple of times that we have attended we have been floored at the amount of Spirit-filled worship that we have witnessed as well as the types of messages that have absolutely overflowed with Truth! Forget about dancing around issues or watering down the Gospel for the sake of relatability or outreach. Honestly, Truth is Truth! That has been a huge positive point for us! However, we have had to have both Anna and Alissa in the service with us. Of course, as you can imagine, this does compromise the magnitude of the service overall for us. It has been refreshing that we are not the only ones who have their kids with them.

Okay, that being said, I have been inspired with these thoughts and the following conclusion. I thought back to when Andrew was a baby and the girls were not around yet. I brought Andrew into church during the worship time nearly every week. We were very intentional about this. We really believed in the value of having Andrew grow up seeing how to worship in the Spirit and to grow up experiencing that freedom to worship. As our lives evolved and our family grew it was easy for that value to slip away, but once again, when faced with this dilemma, it was brought into the forefront of my mind. As I sat there trying to keep Anna quiet and Eric was trying to do the same with Alissa, I thought, "Uggh, what's the point of even coming to church if we have to devote ourselves to the kids while we're here?" And quickly, it occurred to me--divinely, I suppose-- that indeed it is important for our children to understand that going to church is a value that we place a lot of importance on. And especially for the girls to witness this kind of Spirit filled worship themselves.

So, my conclusion is this: Of course sometimes it's hard to take your kids to church. And sometimes it's just easier not to do it. I'm not suggesting by any means that anyone should cross over into legalism and never skip church or feel that it is indeed appropriate to stay home occassionally, but I am suggesting that as a general rule, even if it's hard, it's better to instill the value and the discipline of going to church in our children starting at a young age.