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Thursday, December 31, 2009

one eye backwards…the other forward

i was awake this morning at 3 am. not good in the light of us being up past midnight tonight to ring in the new year…
as i laid there, trying to sleep, my mind was really going a mile a minute as i was thinking about the past decade.
my kids went from elementary school to middle school to high school to college. crazy.
i went from the 30s to 40s. a natural progression, but weird none-the-less.
i lost both of my parents… we buried two grandmothers. *sigh*
we mission tripped in nashville, georgia, pennsylvania, new york, spain, london, bolivia, and ch*na, as well as in our own backyard. humbling.
we've been to cancun, san francisco, destin, fripp island, myrtle beach, colorado, and more places than i can really count… thankful.
we managed to build our business and hang on during one of the worst economic crisis we've experienced in our lifetimes. scary.
we've gone from innocence (or perhaps better stated as naive) to wised-up. and then to amnesiacs. 9-11 changed us. remember.
we spent more time in waiting rooms of surgery centers than we would have liked. hernias. torn ACLs. ripped/broken fingers. dental bone grafts and surgeries too numerous to even count. wisdom teeth. yay for ridiculously high deductibles. (heavy sarcasm)
we've been blessed beyond our wildest dreams. seriously.
we've learned to walk with the Lord. deepen our faith. our kids have grown into lovers of the Lord. can i get an amen?
we've been in student ministries for a decade. wow.
i was rattling of this list to the hubster, who was wide-awake with me. it wasn't long, however, before he was quietly snoring beside me. i'm not sure what that says about our past decade… i like to think it was the cadence of my voice…

so what does the next decade hold for us?
i'm no fortune teller, but i can imagine that the next ten years will include some changes for us.
i will add to my names of wife, mother, sister, sister-in-law… mother-in-law… and grandmother? yikes on a stick. i marvel at the thought, but really, my kids are right in that age.
wedding showers and baby showers. but instead of my friends, it will be for the next generation. (i think i just heard my back creak. oh, dear!)
our business is undergoing some major changes at this very instant which will change things up dramatically. i'm more than likely going to go from part-time to full-time work. i don't know how i really feel about that, other than i'm an empty nester now, so i guess a few years of hard work won't kill me.
who knows what will happen with my little side-biz that is still struggling to get off the ground (and into cyberspace) but who did enjoy a very profitable first quarter. encouraging to say the least. i just don't know how that will all fit into my full time job…
i'm embarking on a teaching venture, too, as i am looking to team-teach a christian worldview class with a friend beginning mid-january. it's geared for graduating seniors in high school. so excited for what that all entails.
part of my heart is still in the 2000s. and part is expectantly hopeful for the 2010s. whatever the next decade holds, i pray that i will be more humble, closer to my Creator, loving well, giving often, encouraging others, learning more, and honoring Him in all i say and do. a pretty tall order, but with Him, all is possible.
happiest of new years to all of you.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009


i didn't fully appreciate my birthday until i birthed children of my own. after that, i called my mom each year on my birthday to tell her thanks. giving birth to me probably wasn't as bad as my children's births because she did the knock-out-wake-you-when-it's-over kind. and mine? well let's just say i still have the heel mark on my forehead from where the doctor needed a bit more leverage to get my first one out. both were natural. sans drugs. and if it wasn't for pitocin with my second, i pretty much could guarantee that i'd probably still be pregnant.

today's my mom's birthday.

i would love to call her, but this is the 10th birthday she's celebrating with Jesus.

and i still miss her, but certainly nothing like before.

i remember when she was sick and she looked at me and said, "don't forget me…"

pretty much ripped my heart out.

and as i was thinking about her today, wondering what she would be like on her 84th birthday, i caught my breath for just a second. there are days that go by when i don't think of her at all.
there are alot of days like that.

i'm not forgetting. really, i'm not.

i'm just choosing to press on, move forward, live life.

she taught me so many amazing things. like how to laugh. how to love. how to be a mother.
and a million other things that make me who i am…

i miss you "hot lips" (my mom was pretty spicy in high school, but in a great, red-lipstick-1940s kinda way), babs (her initials were b.a.b.), never betsy, mom, betty-bop (what my kids called her).
gone, but not forgotten…

like i could ever forget someone like her…

happy birthday, mom.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

swirly brain activity

i've written about a million blog posts in my head.

in the shower.

awkward, i know.

and every time i sit down to write, i have about a million other things that need to be done, and blogging seems so frivolous.

lots is going on and i believe we're on the brink of a new beginning. and by we, i mean the hubster and i, our business, my new business, and much, much more.

hence the swirling brain activity.

i have this innocent-looking miniature dachshund. well, actually, i have three. and they're all rather innocent-looking, but they pack waaaaay more personality into their squatty little bodies than should be in a package that small.
the smallest, and newest, bailey, is pretty much a party waiting to happen. she loves toys. and stuffed animals. and disembowling stuffed animals. especially if they squeak. she will work it until the squeaker is destroyed, and polyester fiberfill is strewn all about.

she is a ruthless little thing. all innocent-looking, but with a heart like ice–when it comes to squeaky toys.

so today, i had a weak moment in the krogers. little toys were on sale, so i bought one that looked like it could withstand jaws-o-death.
but the real question is… can i withstand the ear assault as she works to try to de-squeak this toy? because it has a squeaking mechanism that looks indestructible.

i seriously have had to put this toy up three or four times today because i cannot hear my brain swirling.

innocent… hah! what a joke.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

remembering at christmas

i didn't pen this, but received it today, and it really struck a cord with me. in a land that seems to be crazy to make lasting changes to the nature of our government without the transparency that they promised and with a race to an unnecessary finish line, i realize that my freedoms are NOT just a given. they came at a great price. it's become rather comfortable here on the couch.—easier to stick a hand out and wait for someone to fill it than it is to just get up and make it happen ourselves. have we lost sight of what it means to be a patriot?

perhaps more than what i should be saying here… this isn't a political blog. but when i read this, it made me ponder my freedom and all that comes with that. i have a responsibility to be a good citizen, and to teach my children, as well. so while i continue to ponder my freedom and what that means to me, i'll share the poem i received today:

The embers glowed softly, and in their dim light,
I gazed round the room and I cherished the sight.
My wife was asleep, her head on my chest,
My daughter beside me, angelic in rest.

Outside the snow fell, a blanket of white,
Transforming the yard to a winter delight.

The sparkling lights in the tree I believe,
Completed the magic that was Christmas Eve.

My eyelids were heavy, my breathing was deep,
Secure and surrounded by love I would sleep.
In perfect contentment, or so it would seem,
So I slumbered, perhaps I started to dream.

The sound wasn't loud, and it wasn't too near,
But I opened my eyes when it tickled my ear.

Perhaps just a cough, I didn't quite know,

Then the sure sound of footsteps outside in the snow.
My soul gave a tremble, I struggled to hear,
And I crept to the door just to see who was near.

Standing out in the cold and the dark of the night,
A lone figure stood, his face weary and tight.

A soldier, I puzzled, some twenty years old,

Perhaps a Marine, huddled here in the cold.
Alone in the dark, he looked up and smiled,
Standing watch over me, and my wife and my child.

"What are you doing?" I asked without fear,
"Come in this moment, it's freezing out here!
Put down your pack, brush the snow from your sleeve,
You should be at home on a cold Christmas Eve!"

For barely a moment I saw his eyes shift,
Away from the cold and the snow blown in drifts..

To the window that danced with a warm fire's light
Then he sighed and he said "It's really all right,
I'm out here by choice. I'm here every night."
"It's my duty to stand at the front of the line,
That separates you from the darkest of times.

No one had to ask or beg or implore me,
I'm proud to stand here like my father’s before me.
My Gramps died at ' Pearl on a day in December,"
Then he sighed, "That's a Christmas 'Gram always remembers."
My dad stood his watch in the jungles of ' Nam ',
And now it is my turn and so, here I am.

I've not seen my own son in more than a while,
But my wife sends me pictures, he's sure got her smile.
Then he bent and he carefully pulled from his bag,
The red, white, and blue... an American flag.

I can live through the cold and the being alone,
Away from my family, my house and my home.

I can stand at my post through the rain and the sleet,
I can sleep in a foxhole with little to eat.
I can carry the weight of killing another,
Or lay down my life with my sister and brother..
Who stand at the front against any and all,
To ensure for all time that this flag will not fall."

"So go back inside," he said, "harbor no fright,
Your family is waiting and I'll be all right."
"But isn't there something I can do, at the least,
"Give you money," I asked, "or prepare you a feast?
It seems all too little for all that you've done,
For being away from your wife and your son."

Then his eye welled a tear that held no regret,
"Just tell us you love us, and never forget.
To fight for our rights back at home while we're gone,
To stand your own watch, no matter how long.
For when we come home, either standing or dead,
To know you remember we fought and we bled.
Is payment enough, and with that we will trust,
That we mattered to you as you mattered to us."

On this Christmas and every day, I remember. Thank you for everything you do on my behalf, on the behalf of my family, my country and the world… so we can be free.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009


charity:water had their huge gala this week (my birthday-eve, acutally) and it was a huge success.

charity: ball 2009 from Michael Trainer on Vimeo.

if you want to learn more about charity:water, scott harrison and what a brilliant marketer he is, head on over to their website.
scott came and talked to our high school class at our church and was incredibly impactful. our church has sponsored more than one well building project and have provided enough irrigation in mucatine, mozambique that the ladies there are now selling their handgoods to purchase a truck to carry their produce to the market.
water is a sustaining, life-giving blessing.
thank you for the well wishes (get it? well) for my birthday and will be back soon. it's crazy busy in these parts and i'm trying to be a good steward and take a bit of a break (we'll see how that goes) from my blog (as i'm sure y'all have noticed. i'm not the blog-stalker i've been and i've been remiss at posting. not because i don't want to, but because i feel guilty because there's so much stuff to do.) i'll be in and out.

Monday, December 14, 2009

happy birthday to me…

tomorrow is my birthday.
at my age, it's not really anything to get overly excited about, but i do realize the more i have, the longer i'm able to live.
but it's not like my birthday is super special. it's not like all my friends are racing around town trying to find the perfect gift for me.…
and if they were, i'd find that kind of awkward. i draw attention to myself on a regular basis, but when people honor me, it makes me feel weird. sort of like there are people way more deserving than me. really.
what would be super non-awkward is if my friends were to learn more about water.
you know, the kind that you can drink.
i remember my mother-in-law telling me about a time when she was in a car with a few ladies from africa. they were dumbfounded by the fact that we americans water our lawns with perfectly good drinking water.
i wouldn't dream of drinking from a hose. gah, the yukky hosey flavor of stale water…ick.
but for millions, no, more like billions of people, that would be like nectar.
you may not feel led to give. that's okay, i felt led to share.

Monday, December 7, 2009


so much to process… so much to share…
i am needy…
i am being kneaded…

stay with me…

work. must be productive (and obedient).

there's more.

so much more.


{oh, and on a side note, all went well at the drs. my kidney infection is gone (thank you louis pasteur) and i'm just waiting to hear results on blood work. i'm listening to my body and the holy spirit and both of them say "slow down."
and can i just say that i love, love LOVE christy nockles?? her new album, life light up elicits the biggest sigh from my soul.}

Friday, December 4, 2009

waiting and watching

if you're like me, 'tis the season for just about everything. baking, crafting, corresponding, decorating, fellowshipping, working (yeah, life goes on, right?), singing, and all things bustley. it can be a super-crazy time of year. chuck in a couple of birthdays (the hubster, me and the brother in law, oh, and jesus, too) and i have the makings of a holiday panic attack. (not that i haven't been struggling with that here for the past few weeks…)
except that i let go a looooong time ago having to have the perfect christmas. the decorations just right. the holiday correspondence with the cute family photograph all addressed and written and ready to go out in the post. (excuse me, but we got a christmas card on nov 30!! who is that organized??) and on. and on. and on…
last year i attended an advent retreat. i didn't think i could afford the time, but i did it, and i was so glad i went.
i'm going again this year, and i'm really looking forward to just slipping my holiday self into neutral as i coast into a lovely weekend with lovely women all focusing on what this holiday season is all about.
so i'm going to sit. and be. and watch and wait.
be patient as i wait for Him to breathe His presence into my heart.
because that's pretty hard for him to do when i'm a whirling dervish of martha-ness flailing about. nothing is impossible for God, but it helps so much when i slow down to make room.

so my cookies will wait.
my home-made chex mix will wait.
my wrapping will wait.
my christmas cards will wait (and probably be late, but oh well).

but my heart will be right.
and the fact that i'm recovering from a massive kidney infection has made it slightly easier for me to slow down.

so enjoy your weekend. i'm going to bask in His glory all weekend long. i can't wait (although advent is all about waiting after all…) to see what He has to say.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

don't be a cotton-headed ninnymuggin!!

thanks to mama4real for a little holiday idea. imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, right? thanks mama!!

1. Have you started your Christmas shopping?
yes, and almost finished. first time in my married life i can say this. AND they are almost all wrapped. it's a record. of course there's not a decoration up in the whole house other than the lit tree, but i'm okay with that!

2. Tell me about one of your special traditions. Growing up we were a "Christmas Eve" family, meaning that we opened all of our gifts on Christmas Eve, and then traveled to my aunt and uncle's house on Christmas day. When i began spending Christmas with the hubster's side of the family (because of retail we never travel over the holidays) they were all pretty militant about Christmas Day. and don't even ASK to open just one. ain't gonna happen.
but once our kids got older, we shifted a bit so we wouldn't have to drag our ENTIRE christmas to meeka and pop's house. so we dress for church, the hubs makes special drinks (like sparkling cranberry ginger ale) for the family, and i prepare party hors d'oeuvres. and artichokes. fresh ones. with the dipping butter. mmmmm. we open gifts, head to church and then hop in the car to go to spend the night with meeka and pops.
there we enjoy a ferraro family tradition: bonia cauda. it's an italian dish made with heavy cream, garlic, butter and (don't gag) anchovies. it's acutally quite tasty and the hot creamy sauce is served with fresh (raw) veggies like cabbage, broccoli, carrots, celery, peppers, etc. and fresh baked bread. uncle randy always comes, too, and it's a fun fellowship with this small part of the family. the next day the rest of the kids arrive, and we huddle about 20 of us around the christmas table.

3. When do you put up your Tree?
usually thanksgiving weekend. last year i did it several weeks before because i knew i would be away at an advent retreat and i didn't want to stress.

i had my small group make ornaments for our blessing tree. our family liked it so much we kept it that way through christmas.

4. Are you a Black Friday shopper?
not only no, but HELL NO. i've only done it once and it was one of the most disappointing experiences of my holiday.

5. Do you travel at Christmas or stay home?
we always go to meeka and pops in gatlinburg. it's a little over an hour away, but there's no traffic christmas eve and we love to look at all the winter wonderland lights.

6. What is your funniest Christmas memory?
probably when the kids were really little and they slept in (like until 9) and they still had to run in and jump on uncle randy to wake him up. now we have to jump on them to wake them up!

7. What is your favorite Christmas movie of all time?
don't have to even think about it.
elf. elf. ELF, you silly cotton-headed ninnymuggin!!

8. Do you do your own Christmas baking, what’s your favorite treat?
i love to bake but find that time always gets away from me. i love the bars with the shortbread bottom and the carmely-pecan topping. mmmmmmm (can you hear my arteries clogging?)

9. Fake or Real Tree?
sad to say, fake. the hubster has a knack for picking out the charlie brown christmas tree and always balks about the pricetag. one year there weren't enough walls to hide all the bare spots, so that was the year we bought fake at the end of the season. i'm not a fan of fluffing or dragging the monstrosity up the stairs, but it does look good when it's up. this year i paid bamagirl to fluff. it was money well spent, i tell ya!

10. What day (as a mom) does the actual panic set in to get it all done?
i really try not to panic. i try to relax and enjoy the season. to let go of my expectations of the martha stewart christmas. last year i was so de-stressing that i got the 100 photos in, and just decided not to send out cards. oh well!
11. Are you still wrapping presents on Christmas Eve?
usually i do, but not this year if i can help it!! i would like to watch a christmas movie marathon all day. that would be awesome!

12. What is your favorite family fun time at Christmas?
as soon as everyone arrives just after lunch on christmas day, we all head over the the football field at the high school, about a 10 minute walk from the house.
we play a semi-touch/tackle game of football and shoot off model rockets. and take a bunch of pictures. it's a blast.
13. What Christmas craft do you like the best?
all of them? yikes, so hard to choose. i love to make jewelry, mostly.

14. Christmas music?
ohmygracious, i LOVE christmas music! i get in the mood around november 1, but can wait until the week before thanksgiving to start listening. several radio stations play wall-to-wall christmas music beginning at midnight thanksgiving night. it's pretty awesome. and i love, love, LOVE oh holy night. my mom used to sing it alcapulco (you know, without any accompaniment) and it seriously gives me chills.

15. When do you plan to finish all of your shopping?
we downplay christmas because we don't want our kids to think we're made of money, which we so, so SO are not! we try to keep the holiday real, so i'm wrapping up my shopping (ha ha pun intended) pretty soon. just have a few extended family people and a few white elephant swaps. it's all good.

so if you want to play along, please do. just let me know and i'll head over to your blog and check it out!

Monday, November 30, 2009

anybody home (home home home home)?

there's an echo in my head.
i kinda thought it was gone.

just when i was getting the hang of my empty nest, it got emptier feeling yesterday.

my birds were home this weekend. the entire extended flock were over wednesday nite for a bonfire. and some petros. mmmmmmm. what fun. to have christmas music blaring over the outside speakers, the smell of campfire clinging to their clothes, the gaggle of kids huddled around the computer as they shared their favorite youtube videos and the eruptions of laughter seriously made my heart feel as if it might explode. (the only downside was the lost battery charger and the very dead battery of my camera. booooooo.)

i've missed my birds.

after a luxuriously long weekend of family, food and fellowship, my birds have returned back to their respective roosts, and my nest has more room in it than i'm sometimes comfortable.

ask me last week at this time how the empty nest thing was going, and i would answer with an enthusiastic FINE!!

and it is fine. really it is. they are just where they are supposed to be and are thriving and experiencing life as it is meant to be lived. (i.e. not in their parent's home) i want my birds to learn to fly on their own. i will not be here for them forever. it's time. and i'm okay with that.


it's just that i was getting used to that whole idea and then they came back to our nest. and it felt all snuggly and right.

i'll get used to it again. really, i will.

but then they'll be back for christmas.

i love my little migratory birds. i'm looking forward to them coming home to roost for awhile. and i'm sure i'll get over my empty nest again.

and again.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009


giving thanks this year for my many blessings.
i could list them here, but i don't know. i'm not sure a list of my blessings would mean overly much… almost like reading someone else's mail, i guess.
all it takes is a 360 panoramic view of all that is around and it reminds me that whatever i am struggling with really pales in comparison to what others are dealing with. all things being relative, however, and i don't for a minute to minimize what is going on in my world, because it is significant to us (and to my racing heart).
so this thanksgiving, i'm going to the author of my story, my life, and giving Him thanks for all that is in my life. the good and the bad. the bright and the dark. the hilarious and terrifying.
thank you for loving me, Lord, even in my imperfect fallibility, thank you.
thank you for saving my life.
thank you for everyone in my life (the good and the annoying, the encouraging and the ones that suck the very life from my soul… thank you one and all).
thank you for the lives you have entrusted to me.

i have blessings so numerous, that i feel unworthy of such gifts. i treasure each and every one and thing and never for a minute want to forget how very much He loves me.
may you be wrapped in the loving arms of your Father this holiday season. may you be surrounded by people who bring you joy, and may He grant you an extra measure of mercy and grace to deal with those He has brought into your lives that make you grit your teeth (every family's got 'em, y'know).
giving thanks with a greatful heart.
my cup runneth over.

Monday, November 23, 2009

i am alive… barely

just a quick post to say that
a) the two day bazaar (or should i just say bizarre) is over. we sold some stuff, but overall was a giant disappointment. lots-o-stress for nada.
b) our family's business that has been undergoing some economic-times struggles is still alive… but it's tough times right now
c) kids are returning from college this week
d) lots of responsibilities for the fam business = my life is not my own.

stress is really rocking my world right now. and so is time management. and shepherding young adults is proving to be challenging.

never had a panic attack until this week. i'm still convinced i have a heart issue. lamenting the fact that i should have been in better tune with my body via yearly physicals. ( i have one scheduled for dec 3. new dr. because the old one is out of network)
thinking about this is causing my heart to race.

stop the ride.

i wanna get off.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

hand in hand

i have a lot to do today. i had a lot to do yesterday, and i even managed to get most of it done. it wasn't easy, though. and i was up at 4 am so technically, i should have been able to get everything done, my house cleaned and meals for the next two weeks made and in the freezer.
but i have A.D.D.
so i began several of those things in the midst of doing what i was supposed to be doing. and i did watch an old episode of grey's anatomy (did you know lifetime is showing them from the very beginning?? my DVR is in heaven!) and clean my office some and begin to organize some paperwork. oh, but it's beautiful outside. i'll take some pictures. and edit some pictures. and post some pictures. oh. work. yes. back to work.
so i have a lot to do today. it's saturday. and i have a show on friday where i have to have plenty of my wares to sell (photos to come late in the week). we're trying to get this little business endeavor off the ground, but i still have responsibilities to keep first. wife. family business. mentor.
so in the midst of all i have to do, i'm also a classic procrastinator. did i mention the tree out front that is a cornucopia of autumnal color?
i have work to do.
and blogs to stalk.
and dust to eradicate.
A.D.D. + procrastination = bane of my existence.


but did you see that rose blooming right in the middle of fall?

spectacular. must get my camera.

Friday, November 13, 2009

cornflower skies and autumn

bathed in the morning sunlight…
is the tree outside my door…
spectacular visual poetry…
written by our Creator…
a symphony of colors…
singing praises to the King…

Monday, November 9, 2009

journeys…it's a continuing story

woke up sunday to dreary skies, but at least it had stopped raining. headed to the dining tent to have breakfast. upon opening the doors, angels were singing…

biscuits and gravy. sausage patties. and other stuff i didn't care about. my eyes were captivated by biscuits and gravy.

well that is a little overstated. my stomach's anticipation clouded my vision, because anyone can tell you there ain't nothing too beautiful about a big pot of gravy for biscuits. in fact, you'd best avert yer eyes. it's ain't purty.
but it sure is delicious…
and i know, i shouldn't get this worked up about food… any food… but i couldn't help it. doe river gorge's biscuits and gravy are pretty much out of this world. side-by-side with a sausage patty, and you've got down-right heavenly. (not too heavenly for my arteries, but whatever!)

alright, i completely digress here. it's not about the food. it's about the stories!

our final meeting time before packing up and heading home. stories about how a life in Christ has changed us and what it looks like going forward.
i thought this would be the easy part. you know, the part where my life is so much better, and on and on. this is redemption! eternal life here on earth! the good part!!

i was completely unprepared for the eruption of tears that began the minute i began speaking.
i became a believer at that conference. my walk with the Lord was more like a crawl, but it was a beginning. i couldn't tell the hubster about my experience. it's not unlikely that divorce papers would follow. he was not in the least bit interested in spiritual things, and having been raised in a very religious home, he wanted no part in empty religious practices, even though we were attending church regularly. so i read my Bible on the sly, and my growth really was very stunted that first year. i came to the decision to join our church, and invited the hub, but was clear that i didn't want him following suit just because of me.
it was during this process where the Lord got ahold of my mate and transformed his heart. his conversion was of the lightning bolt variety—a moment where he became weak-kneed and his heart became inhabited by the living God.
our lives changed dramatically from that moment. people could see the differences in us, and many of our relationships changed because of our new-found purpose in life. many of our friends faded away, but the Lord blessed us with new friends—deep, intentional, real friends.
our "first encounter with Christ" occurred not long after became Christians. our son had been shoved into a brick wall face first at the hands of a bully, and the Lord calmed our hearts in such as way as our first thought beyond the immediate safety and care for our son was mercy and grace for the young man who hurt our son. (and He continues to resupply this every time boy wonder has surgery…over ten at last count) it was evident that that was not us, it was clearly the Holy Spirit, because just months before, we would have been filled with bitterness and hatred.
three weeks later, my dad unexpectedly died, and again, we encountered Christ in such tangible ways. the body of believers surrounded us with prayer and assistance, and the Lord gave me the ability to share my testimony at my father's funeral. i had been too afraid to share my new-found faith with my father for fear of rejection. i was convicted i would never let another opportunity to share Jesus pass me by. as a new believer, sharing my testimony was frightening, but the Lord gave me the courage to share and the composure to speak without crying.

because of my past, the Lord called me into crisis pregnancy counseling, which i did for three years. every single day of that ministry was difficult and uncomfortable, but the Lord equipped me to serve. He nudged me into leaving that ministry when He showed me that serving young teen girls would ensure that many would never darken the doorstep of a crisis pregnancy center.
nine years ago, i became a youth leader. i began with middle school girls, and now lead high school girls. it is the joy of my life to share the precious gift of Jesus with them, and to lead them into a love-relationship with Him. reminding young girls that they are daughters of the King of Kings…perfect princesses, created by the master of all creation, his workmanship, the beauty of his very image.
it is my honor and joy to serve Jesus in this way. to breathe truth into their lives with love.
our God is a God of redemption. of mercy. of grace. and when i remember where i was and how he scooped me up from the cess-pool of my life, i weep in gratitude.

Jesus saved my life.

Friday, November 6, 2009

the journey continues…

after a very relaxing afternoon of just being, we gathered for dinner and then proceeded on to the evening meeting time.
during this journey, we were sharing about how we came to be aware of Jesus in our lives.
"i'd love to tell you that after suffering such pain and brokenness, i turned my life over to Jesus. this was not to be. instead, i did what i had done up to this point my whole life: i picked myself up, and pressed on. i dealt. i stuffed my real feelings so deep down so i wouldn't have to feel the pain. i put on my happy mask and did it my way. i'm strong. i can do it.
i didn't date at all the rest of high school (not a huge surprise). i learned to distrust guys and rely on myself.
a year later, i was on my way to tennessee to go to college, much to the dismay of my parents. because of my willfulness, i earned the right to put myself through school. this was only the first of many times my headstrong ways cost me.
life in the "bible belt" was a new environment for me, and i had never really encountered anyone who talked much about their faith other than complaining about having to go to church or mass. most of my friends didn't really go to church, and those that did weren't exactly sold on the idea. the Lord placed all kinds of sweet people in my path both in college, and then in my work environment. for the most part, these were nice people, but it wasn't like i was wanting what they had in their life. they were just nice people. {note: not a single one of these people shared the gospel with me. i'm sure it was all how God wanted to see it all play out, but it's a reminder to me not to be afraid to share the good stuff.}
i met my husband while i was in college. he, like the few relationships i had prior, was older than me. perhaps because i still didn't trust, or was looking for stability because my life seemed so chaotic. for whatever reason, we seemed to gel, and got married four years later. immediately, we had our two children, and it was clear to me that we didn't have what it took to raise responsible, moral kids.
having kids landed me back in church, seeking… but still ellusive. it took three years before the Lord was able to penetrate my hard, self-reliant, prideful heart.

it was a women's retreat that i had my first close encounter with Jesus. the speaker spent the weekend unpacking the picture of a house. the theme related to how Jesus wants to take up residence in our house. it was just the analogy i needed. my house had been boarded up for so long. i didn't need anyone coming into my house. i was fine. didn't need help. didn't want company. and i certainly didn't want anyone coming in to my house to show me where i needed to clean. thank the Lord that He is persistent. He knocked, and i opened the door and invited him in."

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

journeys. part three. for real.

doe river gorge is beautiful. and in the six or so years i've been coming here, it's always ablaze with fall colors and a cornflower blue sky.
not this year.
after our morning meeting, we went back to our cabins for some "cabin time." there, the students had a chance to dig a little deeper and see perhaps how the mornings stories might correlate to their own journeys.
the girl who was struggling with depression and thoughts of suicide. the sporty guy who struggled with the different masks that he let people see. so much that he wasn't even sure which mask to wear when he was by himself. the girl with self-esteem issues and also what to do with her childhood faith now that she's a teen. the believer with peers without spiritual grounding. or the "normal" guy excited about sleeping with his girlfriend.
our time was gritty. really gut-wrenching. girls struggling with self-esteem. pressures from parents to excel at everything and measure up to perfect siblings. what to do with little sisters dabbling in dangerous activities. loneliness. living life radically for Jesus.
we had never had quite that much of a break through before, and it was clear that the different stories were resonating. and it was happening all across the camp.

we all blew off some steam with a little football game in the rain. guys against girls. guys on their knees. girls on foot. (with baby oil on their legs… wishful thinking that this would make them harder to get a hold of) it was muddy. it was intense. in the spirit of not wanting to be a quadriplegic, i did not play, but took pictures. the girls managed to make it out of there with a tie.

with the wet day, the activities they would normally do (zip line into the lake, high ropes, technical tree climbing, mountain biking, paint ball) took a backseat to hanging out, talking, and just being "chill." God continued to do a work in the free hours of the afternoon.
there's more…

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

journeys. take two.

the day dawned with mixed skies with blustery winds. the mountains are spectacular in just about any kind of weather, and today we were treated to the smoky variety (aka smoky mountains). leaves were falling in droves with the gusts of wind and several of the students were having a contest to see who could catch the most (an entertaining activity to watch). as we were standing outside of the lodge where we had our morning devotions, the Lord blessed me with a reminder of his promise.
the sun was behind the mountain which made such a beautiful shadow on the ridge. the clouds were moving overhead so rapidly that the landscape in the sky was changing so quickly that it was like watching a movie. a snapshot would be a visual reminder of that time even though it would fail miserably at capturing the beauty of the moment.
after yesterday's sharing time, the students were invited to make observations of what they had seen. to try to put a word or phrase to what they noticed about the speakers.
needy. self conscious. wreckless. angst-filled. hopeless. cocky. worldly. lost. lonely. confused. unchurched. broken. angry. bitter. apathetic.
you name it. it was out there.
journeys part two was more sharing from a high schooler's point of view. afterwards, the students were invited to ask questions, and the speakers would answer like we would have as if we were still in high school.
i was third to share. yikes. my heart is pounding. focus.
"welcome to milwaukee. moved again.
but unlike our last move, this one was right in the middle of spring break and i entered into school being the only new kid. frightening and exhilarating all at the same time. and no one knew me as the medical freakshow girl anymore, so it was kinda strange when people treated me like i was normal.
believe it or not, but the popular kids liked me and wanted to hang out with me.
me? popular? are you kidding me??
dave, this incredibly gorgeous specimen of a senior started talking to me and it wasn't long before we were "going out."
ummm. i'm going out with a guy. who thinks i'm pretty. a guy thinks i'm pretty??
two friends have warned me about watching out for dave. huh? what could possibly be wrong with dave? he noticed me and wants to be with me. what the heck could possibly be wrong with that?? i really don't care what they say. i have a boyfriend.
graduation night, and i'm at a party with my friends, and dave is there. after a while, he asks me to go for a walk. we stop at a nearby golf course, and we sit on a hill overlooking the course. there's a little makey outy, and before long, it's getting out of hand. i'm NOT that kind of girl i think, and i try to push him away. this only seems to spur him on and the next thing i know, i'm pinned underneath him. i'm struggling now, and panicking, but nothing is working. this is NOT how i expected i would lose my virginity. with a hand clamped over my mouth and searing pain.
i don't remember how i got back to that party, but i did, and my friends drove me home. i didn't say a word.
i never wanted to give dave the satisfaction of knowing how much he hurt me, so i pretended nothing happened. thankfully, i didn't have to see him in school, and soon he was away to college.
the only person i told was my sister, who is 9 years older and lived a thousand miles away. who else would believe me? and i could never tell my mom. she always protected me. it would kill her to know she couldn't keep me safe.
i was wounded. and empty. and stuffing my emotions down so no one, not even i, could see."
more tomorrow.

Monday, November 2, 2009

journeys. part one.

sleep was illusive the night before we left for camp. i ended up just getting up at about 3 and worked on a few projects, watched my dvr'd greys anatomy and thought about my upcoming weekend at doe river gorge.
i knew it was the enemy that woke me… telling me all the things i'm too willing to believe.
i also know that Jesus squashed down the feelings of defeat. i know in my heart of hearts this is what i'm called to do… i just don't have the confidence sometimes that my story has eternal value.
we arrived to camp to a pleasantly crisp fall evening. almost a full moon occasionally obscured by wickedly fast-moving clouds. so beautiful and so impossible to capture. for me, it was a welcome distraction as we waited to go into the the tent for our first meeting.
i was so nervous about speaking and how to tell my story.
six of us leaders were going to be journeying with our high school friends throughout the weekend. the first two sessions we would be speaking as if we were in high school. the last two would be as we began to notice Christ and then our lives since, and up to the present.
i had some pretty gritty things to share and i realized that i have not really completely healed as i have done a good job of continuing to stuff issues down so i don't have to feel the pain.
unstuffing my life scared me. although i couldn't really put my finger on the fear. what exactly was i afraid of?
other than public speaking. yikes. i'd rather eat a live spider.
okay, that was a lie. but not far off of the fear and trembling of addressing high schoolers!
get a grip. okay. first meeting. . .
all of us are in the gathering. as our song (a song each of us had previously chosen to reflect our journey) played, we emerged from the crowd and went up front and each shared for about 3 minutes. porcelain heart by the barlow girls begins to play… my turn.
"just moved. again. freshman year and i'm the new girl. not like that is bad enough, but after just three months in school, i disappear for two months and come back in a body cast. i'm fourteen years old, i have no friends, and now i look like a medical freak. i can feel the stares, and i'm sick with anxiety. and since i had to learn how to walk again, i have trouble with tripping. falling in class… with an armload of books… i learn to laugh at myself. making jokes about my situation helps. i'd rather laugh at myself before people can laugh at me.
ohmystars, could life get any more humiliating?"
to be continued…

Friday, October 30, 2009

my story, His story, HISTORY

i've been really remiss at updating my blog. it's been an overwhelming couple of weeks. between business stuff, surgery for my son, a teen suicide, MORE water in our basement, and preparing for fall camp with our youth group. it just doesn't seem right to take time out to write.
which i love.
not the not writing. . .
the writing. i love to write. [okay, ramble]
i have so much floating around my brain that it's almost paralyzing trying to think of letting it out!
so i have a few minutes (literally) before i leave for fall camp, and knowing that you, my faithful readers (i couldn't believe how many of you compassionately commented on the suicide post. . . thank you!) would stand in the gap for me this weekend.
i have been asked, along with five other of our youth leaders, to be a speaker this weekend at our camp.
i could stop there. that is flattering, humbling, heart-palpitatingly, panic attactingly crazy. i am unworthy to share, but also realize that i am not the only broken vessel the Lord has chosen to fill, and to declare otherwise or remain silent is not possible.
would you join me in praying for our church's youth? that they would receive these stories of brokenness and redemption and see God's amazing glory? that our stories would illuminate His story, and that we would have a part in making HISTORY in the eternal lives of our youth? that the enemy's tricks and lies would be foiled this weekend? that His name would be held up and worshipped in spirit and in truth?

that i wouldn't choke on my own spit while i'm speaking?

i hear the liar's whispers. he woke me up at 3:15 this morning.

you're too disjointed. you're not focused. you don't have anything worthy to share. you have too much to share. you're such a screw up that who could even figure out what you're trying to say?

thank goodness i don't really listen to him.

it's not my story, it's HIS story. and i'll tell this story and make HIS story, their story.

pray for me, my fellow leaders, the students, our time, our worship, the weather. . . anything that comes to mind.

thank you from the bottom of my heart!

Monday, October 26, 2009

new day; a day of thanksgiving

i remember last friday, i was very much having a difficult time with the whole idea of being thankful in all circumstances.
thankful in the face of a young man's suicide. . .
and then i remembered Job. how he lost everything. his family, his fortune, his shelter. and as he sat at the curb, scraping his boils (i mean could the guy not get a break??) he falls to the ground in worship, "Naked I came from my mother's womb, and naked shall I return; the Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord."
he worshipped.
and he blessed the name of the Lord.
being thankful doesn't always mean rattling off a list of blessings.
sometimes it just means being thankful that God said he would never leave or forsake us.
wow, i am certainly thankful that He is my rock.
and He is theirs. the suicide family knows Jesus (as did the young man) and is relying on his great provision of strength as i write this.
Take the old prophets as your mentors. They put up with anything, went through everything, and never once quit, all the time honoring God. What a gift life is to those who stay the course! You've heard, of course, of Job's staying power, and you know how God brought it all together for him at the end. That's because God cares, cares right down to the last detail. (james 5:10-11, the message) patient respect and trust in God even in the midst of our sufferings.
wait on the Lord; be of good courage and He shall strengthen your heart. wait i say, on the Lord. (Ps 27:14)
not exactly my strong suit.
i'll say too, that after going to this young man's funeral and hearing about all he has done in his 21 years that honors Christ, how he thought of others first and had a kind word for everyone. . . it made me think that if this kid could succumb to suicide, perhaps we're all vulnerable.
it caused me to remind my children that suffering requires being able to stand on that bedrock of Christ. and to be able to recognize the voice of the deceiver. be vigilent. the enemy is looking for a foothold. recognize his lies. and cloak yourself with the one who is victorious.
love well. and stay close to Him who loves you most.
and to my friends, those of you who offered up prayers and words of encouragement. . .
how incredibly blessed i am to have sweet, loving friends who love and encourage well. what a wellspring of generousity that bubbled up from my last post. you all are treasures and i am incredibly thankful for the blessings you have brought to my life. thank you, Jesus for my i-friends. treasures, i tell you!

Friday, October 23, 2009

heavy heart

it's been a while since i posted. or visited. i've been a little M.I.A. some really awesome things going on, then some not-so-awesome.
i was really hoping to come back and post some scrumdilliumptious photos of our new store that opened up on monday (i will do that, i promise) and i had a really promising meeting for the new business that is percolating with my partners. the rain has (somewhat) stopped, i think i lost 2 pounds, and i won a ridiculously amazing giveaway at mckmama. i mean could life get any better?
but then the unthinkable.
i got word that a friend found her son this week. hanging in his bedroom.
my little mind is reeling trying to think how tragic it would be to have that little video replaying in my mind for the rest of my life.
and it makes me want to gather my little chicks close to me and remind them how much i love them and that no matter what the problem is that we can work together and get through it.
both of my offspring are enmeshed in their first relationships. ever. and i hope that they won't have to have the kind of heartache my friend's son must have experienced to take his own life.
he knew Jesus (thank you, Lord), and he had a great relationship with his parents. but he let the enemy's whispers drown out rational thought.
a permanent solution to a temporary problem.
oh how this mother's heart grieves with my friend and her husband.
how this mother's heart aches for the young people affected. the brothers. the girlfriend who had just broken up with him. her friends. his friends. her parents. grandparents. the fallout from suicide is like a nuclear blast. the radiation stays in the soil. stays. in. the. soil.
this is where i have to really dig deep. and try to wrap my small mind around what to do.

give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus” 1 Thessalonians 5:18

give thanks.
in all circumstances.
this is God's will.

He is already at work in this situation. thank you, Jesus.
the young man was a believer. thank you Jesus.
the parents are strong believers and have a vast network of believers supporting them. thank you Jesus!!
my children are healthy and loved. thank you thank you Jesus.
and the students left standing are noticing Him. thank you, Jesus.

give thanks.
in all circumstances.
this is God's will.

not that children commit suicide.
but that He is our comfort. our rock. our redeemer. our shelter in the storm.
that we recognize His provisions. that we still trust Him.

i have to ponder this in my very heavy heart.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

raining and growing.

this is normally a dry month where i come from, so all this rain is pretty unexpected. it's pouring. it's rained pretty much most of this month.
i was sharing about rain with a little girl who should be out jumping in puddles, but is fighting for her life instead. that ugly beast. cancer.
as much as i like to grumble about the rain, i need to remember what a blessing it is. it's necessary for growth. and after several days of rain, isn't it gloriously wonderful to see the sun? and without rain, would we ever witness a rainbow?
God is as much in the rain as he is in the sun. in fact, i would argue, even moreso. because we take sunshine for granted. but it's in the rain where we cling to our savior.
how hard to process rain in a young child's life. it doesn't seem right. but i know God has a plan. and he's going to use the rain to grow this family in ways unimaginable.
as much as i want every day to be cloud-free and blazing sun, i would become parched and withered.
washing clean.
living water.
fill me up.
cling, regan. we are praying for you.

Monday, October 12, 2009

nope, that couldn't be me!

it's hit or miss around here as far as hooking up with my favorite blogger, mckmama, and deciding whether or not i have any viable fodder for her not me monday blog carnival. i've got some stuff that i would never admit to doing, as i'm sure you don't as well… you can head over there and link up with all the others avoiding true confessions…
i would never take a work break only to write a blog post. i mean if my boss could see me now, he would more than likely have a problem with that. even though i sleep with my boss on a very regular basis (relax, i work for the hubster), it gets me nowhere. in fact, it probably gets me more accountability than i'm really interested in. but i digress…
the kiddies were in town this weekend for fall break. i would never count the minutes until bama girl arrived. that would be weird, and for a woman buried under a mountain of work, a rather lame use of my time! i didn't drop everything when she arrived and didn't spend more time than i should have looking at all her new tshirts from her sorority and patiently wait for her stories. it seems like long talks with her have been more rare in the last year, so i didn't just drop everything like a hot potato to just be with her.
we also didn't make plans for a family dinner for 9:30 on friday nite. i mean who eats that late? and who has to make a date with their own children two weeks in advance?? and our plans weren't ambushed at all by the six guests that arrived, slightly rain-soaked from the high school football game that was cancelled because of lightning, and ended up staying for dinner. we didn't rush to the freezer to grab more stuff to grill and didn't throw the rest of the bag of potaotes in the oven… that would mean the $200 i spent on groceries (for three people in our household) was not ridiculous. the stocking up didn't turn out to be a pretty wise investment at all and we avoided a quick trip to the krogers!
we didn't end up laughing and talking and enjoying the fellowship of our kids' friends in the least and weren't the least bit sorry that our quiet evening with the family ended up a rowdy night of remember whens and unbridled laughter. i didn't catch the hubster stealing a wink to me to say how much he had missed these important beings in our lives, and i didn't tear up once!! and i didn't dab my napkin at my eyes instead of the corner of my mouth one time…
i did not grumble in the least when my kids made me put my camera away. and they did not give me the "we don't want to be the next photo on your blog." sigh. so busted.
we didn't have a great weekend in the rain with our kids.
and it didn't make me at all want to start an advent calendar for thanksgiving, the next time we'll all be together again.