Friday, March 25, 2016

Good Friday

Good Friday.

It seems silly to call a day like today "good." After being falsely accused and sentenced, Jesus was taken to Golgotha to be crucified. On the cross, he was mocked and insulted. There he hung, like a criminal, bearing the weight of the sin of the world. Yet, even in His suffering, He thought of those that sent Him there. Luke 23:24 tell us "Jesus said, 'Father, forgive them for they do not know what they are doing.'"

He knew why He was there and what was expected of Him. He did it willingly, but that didn't stop the fear He had. In His darkest moment, Jesus cried out to God. "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?" (Mark 16:34) Even Jesus, who was without sin, cried out in doubt and fear to God. It is a normal response when in a difficult or stressful situation to doubt whether God is with you. But we need to remember that God has promised never to forsake us. Deuteronomy 31:6 tells us, "Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.” God is always with us!

The reason today is so good is that, through Jesus suffering and death, He fulfilled the scriptures of the past. "But he was pierced for our transgression, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed." (Isaiah 53:5) Jesus made today good by taking our sin upon Himself. He gave us the greatest gift ever, one that we can never repay, and one that we should never forget.

Friday, February 26, 2016

Moving day!

 How is this possible? Four months seemed like a lifetime away when we decided to take a job in Minneapolis for Brandon last October. I feel like the last month has been in hyperdrive.

I needed a mental break from packing/cleaning, so here I am. Last night, no less than 20 people came over to help us pack. It was unbelievable. What took me three weeks to pack took everyone only an hour and a half to load up. It's crazy to see our whole lives strategically stacked into the back of a 27-foot U-haul. (And it makes me think that we still have a lot to purge!)

Walking through this big empty house brings back so many memories, and makes me think of all of the amazing things that have happened to me in Grand Forks: I met the love of my life. We found an amazing church home and made some friends that are really more like family. We brought three babies into the world. We both found incredible jobs and worked with some unbelievable people. We moved into the best neighborhood in the world and had some pretty rocking block parties. Grand Forks has given me everything I could ask for and more. But God is calling us to the Cities for a reason...

Anyone who knows me knows how much I abhor change. I was happy in my comfortable little world. So no one was more surprised than me when B asked me if he should apply for the job at MSP tower and I said "sure!" He responded "Really??" There wasn't even an argument when he told me he wanted to take the job- I felt like God wanted us there and if I've learned anything through our ordeal with Bennett, it's to trust Him.

So now, today is here. I'm a big ball of emotion, but I haven't cried today- yet. I just hope I can drive through all my tears! I'm so happy for the time I've gotten here and the relationships our family has made, but I'm looking forward to our new adventure. I get (!!) to be a Stay-at-home mom for the first time ever. I'm not sure what it looks like for me to not be a working mom... a big part of my identity is in being a labor and delivery nurse, and I'm hoping I'll be able to make my way back to it again someday.

I'd better get back to cleaning. Please pray for us through this transition - that we may all find our place in our new town. Our new little neighborhood seems amazing, and I'm excited to explore Minneapolis as a family and to have the summer off with the kids before Bennett starts kindergarten! Thank you to all who have helped us in this process with packing, food, going away events and just being there for us! I'm going to drive away from this town with nothing but great memories. Thanks GF, for everything. We'll be back to visit! And we'd love to see you if you make your way to the Minneapolis area!

Sunday, January 31, 2016

For the Love of Catching Up...

So very much has happened since I last wrote- I have dreamed of being diligent with my blog, writing at least once a week. Except life happened and I can't seem to find the time. However, right now I am overwhelmed and over-emotional and I need an outlet- so I found my way back here. Let's see if I can catch up on what's going on.... (I just realized that this may take a few posts...)

 As many of you know, I was blessed to be chosen for the launch team for Jen Hatmaker's latest book "For the Love," which came out last August. What a sweet ride that was! A Facebook group was developed and a family was formed. The group is still alive and well, and we depend on each other often for prayer and support. Somehow, the group convinced Jen to host a launch party AT HER HOUSE. For most of the summer, I wasn't sure if I was going to be able to go. But Labor Day weekend found me in Austin, Texas with 130 of the best friends that I had never met before! It was one of the sweetest trips of my life- being able to meet and fellowship with these people that I had only (but intimately) known online to this point. We all felt like celebrities when we would meet up at various restaurants and stores in downtown Austin. It was the most amazing thing. I can't even describe the feeling- cementing solid friendships with people over the course of four days.                
20 of us showed up for supper that Thursday night
And then 75 came for supper on Friday- with just ONE waiter!

Me at the FTL Launch Party
It's not something I ever saw myself doing. I don't go places by myself! I have almost no self esteem and have been worried about what people think of me my entire life. I don't know where the courage came from to fly across the country by myself, stay in a hotel with eventually three women I had never met before, and spend the weekend in a place I'd never been spending time with people I didn't know celebrating an amazing thing I got to be a part of- it's still so surreal, even after almost five months. I think it's taken me that long to process everything. I still can't quite believe it. Many of us got there on Thursday or Friday, and the weekend was filled with meet-ups around Austin and ended with a party at Jen's house.
Me and Jen Hatmaker
We all got to meet Jen Hatmaker- and it was like meeting all of the rest of the people! I thought for sure I would be star-struck, but she was so NORMAL and I was just as excited to meet everyone else as I was to meet her. Her family meandered around the party, and I got to have a great conversation with her mom and dad as well. The night ended with a bunch of us going to a bar and dancing into the night! Many of us attended Jen's church on Sunday morning, then had brunch and boarded planes to go back to our lives around the country. It was such an amazing trip, and I know that God led me to this book and these people for a reason. They are some of the most supportive people I have ever known, and the best prayer team in the world. We've raised money for trips to Austin, cars, and laptops for each other, had mug swaps and pen pals and lives have literally been changed by this group. What a blessing it has been.

Before last March I didn't even know launch teams were a thing; now I've been on three of them in the past year! (I've had the pleasure to help launch the books 'Out of Sorts' by Sarah Bessey and 'Raising Grateful Kids in an Entitled World: How One Family Learned That Saying No Can Lead to Life's Biggest Yes' by Kristen Welch in the past few months, and enjoyed both of them immensely.)

I've also become addicted to Jen Hatmaker's books... to be honest, I knew who she was, but I hadn't read anything that she had written before I read 'For the Love.' Now, I'm one of the biggest Jen fans in the world- reading her words is like sitting next to her talking over coffee. I can't wait to read what she has coming out next!

I'll end this with some pictures of the fabulous people I met in Austin- I love you all so!
Shannon, Elizabeth, me and Michelle

Elizabeth, Cathy (my roommates) and me

Me and momma Cheryl

Me and my dear friend Lauren

Me, Brandon Hatmaker, Cathy, Elizabeth and Carey

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

For the Love...

This post is part of Jen Hatmaker’s “For the Love” Blog Tour which I ,am delighted to be a part of, along with many other inspiring bloggers.  To learn more and join us, CLICK HERE.

It's here!

Today is the day Jen Hatmaker's new book "For the Love" comes out! I have been waiting for this day since March, when I got the email saying that I had been chosen to be on the Launch team for this book. One of only 500 (#the500), out of 5000 applicants. A group of 496 women and the #bandoffour men that, out of this book, formed a community unlike anything I've ever known. A Facebook group of people pouring out love to one another. Political posts where people could actually respectfully disagree with one another without hatred, name-calling, or belittling for differences of opinion. This community- people just genuinely loving on each other through many different trials in life. I love it, and I'm so blessed to be a part of it- and it's all because of this book...

This book has changed my outlook on life. Twenty-six chapters on everything from Difficult People to Turning Forty to Fashion Concerns (Leggings as Pants, the struggle is real). She oozes God's truth through all of her words, and brings the reader back to the place God wants us to focus- on Him and  His love. In her chapter entitled "On Calling and Haitian Moms," one sentence really struck me to my core. "If it isn't also true for a poor single Christian mom in Haiti, it isn't true" (#FortheLove). She goes on to say, "Theology is either true everywhere or it isn't true anywhere." Those statements are so powerful- and freeing! God loves us all- and His Son died on the cross for us ALL. Money and power are not a testament of God's love; living in faith, love, happiness and contentment is. Jen, through this book, helps us to see what life is really all about.

"For the Love!" I say this phrase daily- when something wonderful happens, when I'm frustrated, etc. That's why I was so excited to get my hands on this book. I had heard of Jen Hatmaker from a friend of mine and followed her on Facebook, but I had never really had a chance to dig into her books until I got on this Launch team. In the first chapter, Jen talks about our generation- a group of people "on the hook." I could not agree more with this statement! We are all in a race to see who can be the most perfect while doing the most things and being everything to everyone, and we're forgetting to actually participate in our lives. Jen likens our lives to being a balance beam, and challenges us to find the things that we don't actually need that throw us off-kilter and get them "off the beam." That's my new favorite saying- off the beam. Instead of feeling pressured to do everything you're asked, you can actually assess your own life and determine if you have the time or energy to do something. AND IT'S OKAY TO SAY NO! What freedom- knowing that saying no will not end the world, and often when you say no, people respect it and don't think less of you (which is a big fear for most of us). If you feel this pressure, this overwhelming feeling that you never get anything done and you are a failure, this book is for you! 

I love to read and read a LOT of books, many more than once. Since April, I have read this book at least three times, and it hits me each time. This book is a necessity for every woman in America. Just make sure when you read it, you have highlighters, pens, a notebook, and LOTS of tissues. And don't be surprised if you burst out in laughter- I woke my husband up a few times reading it at night. This book will make you laugh, make you cry, make you want to be more present in life. It gives you permission to say no. If you haven't yet- go out and buy it RIGHT NOW! This is not something you want to miss, for the love!

Check out the book trailer from Jen herself here:
Here is the link to the book's website: From here, you can order the book and learn a little more about it and the author. You can also see an endorsement from yours truly (!!), as well as the endorsements from the rest of the Launch team.

If you want a chance to win a copy of the book- comment below why you want to read it and I'll choose a winner on August 23rd!

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Finding my Anything

Taking a break from the water

What a beautiful day: 80° and sunny, just enough of a breeze to cool you from the heat. My kids are loving life in the pool, and playing nicely. Together. (God does perform miracles every day!) Bennett's heart is doing well and we don't need to get him checked for another year. My dad is starting to feel better. My daughter told me I look amazing in my swimsuit before we got to the pool (which was an ego boost to this momma since I was feeling a little self conscious today; I mean, having 3 kids in 4 years will not do nice things to your body...). God continues to show me His faithfulness through the little things in each day. And finally, finally, I'm starting to notice...

  I recently started reading the book "Anything" by Jennie Allen. There's been an online study, which has been helping to open my eyes as well. I've always known that I believed in God and loved Jesus and what He did for me. But even through all of that, I never felt especially close to him. I hear all of these amazing stories of how Jesus has changed people and how they are now "all in" for him. I have to admit, I have salvation envy.

 I should just be grateful- I grew up in a very happy home, knowing nothing but love and support from my parents and not wanting in anything. We went to church regularly, at least when I was younger (before the church we went to soured my family, but that's another story). Even when we didn't go to church, my parents demonstrated Jesus every day by helping and loving others. They made me strive to be better, and reeled me back when I got too arrogant. They taught me to keep my mind and heart open to others, something I've tried to bring with me throughout my life. However, it wasn't until college that I learned about having a relationship with Jesus. Since then, (so for 14 years now... ugh) I've been trying to figure out what this means to me. This led me to "Anything."

I've only finished week 5, but I've learned that going all in for God doesn't mean I have to sell all of my possessions and move to Africa- though that is one way to do it.  For me, it could mean going into each day thankful and praising Him, and living for His glory in all I do. Even the "mundane" things. Being thankful for the season I'm in- endless piles of dishes and clothes that need to be cleaned; taxiing my kids to and from activities; working at night so I can see my family during the day. I wanted my "Anything" to be a big, life-changing event,  but what if it isn't supposed to be?

I'm working on being content in my life, and what a better way to start than to accept my Jesus story and to be proud of it? No more salvation envy. No more wanting the American dream. I'm going to wake up every morning thankful for this ridiculously blessed life I have and live that thankfulness out in every part of my life. I'm going to keep striving for a stronger relationship with God and Jesus, and determining what else my "Anything" means. I'm going to start talking to my husband to see what our "Anything" is together. I'm going to help my kids find out what it means to them. I'm going to be okay with giving things up in this world so I can focus on my forever future in heaven. Maybe my life-changing event is simply finally being thankful for what I have and strengthening my relationship  with God. And that is okay.
Decorating some cookies after a swim- STILL getting along!

Saturday, April 25, 2015

What is with these kids??

I know a good deal of you know about my dear Sophia and her ventures in hair cutting/styling (see my previous blog entries on these adventures- plural- like THREE times). She also cut her brothers' hair a time or two. I finally informed her that if she cut anyone's hair again, I would have to buzz hers off like her brothers- that point was well-taken and I have not had any issues (with her cutting hair) since. My dear, sweet Noah Doyle wanted his hair cut this past March and actually ASKED us to do it. He told me he didn't want to comb his hair before school anymore. Bwahahaha! Six-year-old first world problems, people.
Before- He's such a honey!

 After- what a handsome boy! He looks so much older!

 Thanks to this sweet boy, I had a few years of reprieve. Enter Bennett David. This boy has given me a run for my money since the minute I found out he was coming.  A couple of weeks ago, I ran downstairs to flip the laundry from the washer to the dryer. Four minutes is how long I was downstairs. Four minutes. I come upstairs to the familiar "Hmmmmmmmm" of my husband's beard trimmer. This is my first sight...
It was all I could do not to laugh out loud. This kids goes big or goes home. How could I possibly punish him?? His sister did this THREE times before I actually got mad at her. I did my best to fix it. He just looked like an old man. Thankfully it's hair and it just grows back. And that he's adorable regardless. This really is a circus I'm living in....

Sunday, March 29, 2015

What I want for my kids...

So- I joined the TODAY show Parenting team, and they're asking regular moms like me for parenting advice. Seriously??? The only thing I know for sure is that, after eight years and three children, I still feel like I have NO idea what I'm doing. I consider the day successful if my kids go to bed clean and fed and mostly happy (and sometimes, clean is optional!). I married a wonderful man, and though we don't always agree on everything, we agree on the beliefs we want to instill in our children:

1) Our children will be respectful- to everyone; adults, peers, all of God's people.
2) Our children will be held accountable for their actions and learn that every decision made in life has a consequence, whether it be good or bad.
3) Our children will know that they are loved, regardless of where their lives may lead them. I frequently tell them that they can never do anything that will make me love them any less. No matter how mad I may get at them, nothing will diminish my love. Furthermore, as much as I love them, God loves them that much more. There's a game that my kids and I play. We call it "I love you to...." I will say "I love you to the stop sign." The kids will say "I love you to the street light" or anything that might be in our line of sight. The game always ends with us both saying "I love you to the heavens." We don't say "I love you to the moon" because that can be measured, and the love between parents and their children is immeasurable. (My 4-year-old, Bennett, has now started randomly started saying to me, "Mommy, I love you all the way to God." Such joy to my heart!)
4) Our children will know how to fail gracefully in life. Parents always want the best for their kids, and we are no different. However, I refuse to raise children who think life should be handed to them on a silver platter and that they will get their way in everything. We have been very blessed in life, and my children thankfully do not want for anything; this is a fact I do not want them to take for granted. I firmly believe one of the best things a parent can do for their children is to teach them that they will lose in life, and they need to know how to do it with grace. Whether it be in sports, board games, or later in life in school or at a job. Life does not often go as we plan, and we need to know how to roll with the punches and rely on God to help them through.

There are so many more things, and the list changes from day to day, but these are the things that always remain. I have a list for each of my children that I pray over often (though never enough); it's a list of characteristics that I hope to see in them when they are adults. In addition to those listed above, we strive to teach them kindness and compassion for others and a strong love for their God. As one of my favorite authors, Jen Hatmaker, says, "If they don't love Jesus and people, it matters zero if they remain virgins and don't say the F-word. We must shepherd their hearts, not just their hemlines."We need to focus more on our children's hearts than on their actions, because it is their hearts that LEAD their actions.

I am so grateful for these little humans that have been entrusted into my care. They have taught me more than I ever imagined I could learn, and I want to give them the world. But more than that, I want to teach them how to make the most of this world- and show this world how much God loves it through how they treat others. Every night, I remind my children that God has big plans for them. To me, this doesn't mean that they will cure cancer or be sports starts or movie stars (though my 8-year-old has some big plans for herself in those regards). It means that whatever the plan is for their lives, they will make a difference to someone. Just like you do for your kids every day. So my advice- instill in your children now the qualities you want to see in them in the future. Model those qualities. Talk about why they're important. Mold those precious souls. You will be so glad that you did!