Monday, April 30, 2012

Participating In Public School: Dear Katie

Dear Katie,

Three weeks from tomorrow you will finish the third grade, but more importantly you will finish your first year in public school.  With a Mama who LOVES words I am almost speechless when I think about you. (Notice, I said almost speechless). I have just a few things to tell you.


Your Daddy and I are so humbled and so impressed as we have watched you navigate the waters of this unbelievable life change.  Not a single week went by that we didn't see your character stretched by circumstances. And baby, I see no sign of stretch marks on you. You gracefully waltzed through playground heart wounds, a teacher going into labor on day 3 of school, a long term substitute,  fashion bullies, misplacement of phalanges, being totally dehydrated on the first day of school because you were too nervous to ask where the juice was or to ask your teacher to get a drink out of the drinking fountain, a painfully annoying math curriculum, reaching out over and over again to build relationships with people, and surviving being "the new girl".

 Your hard work to learn the traditional school processes just furthers our confidence that you can do whatever you want because of your patience, your diligence, and your perseverance.

Each day you left our home at 8:30am and represented our family with such integrity, such love, and such kindness.

Thank you for always standing up for what was right.
Thank you for choosing forgiveness over bitterness. 
Thank you for showing everyone you interacted with a glimpse of the Jesus you love.
Thank you for willingly getting up day after day and finishing what you committed to do.
Thank you for being flexible and adjustable.
Thank you for setting an incredible example for your siblings.
Thank you for making this first year of public school a total joy for our family because of the positive attitude you were determined to exhibit.

My sweet, you make being your Mama an utter blast!
Your smile, your contagious personality, has lit up the little school on the hill.

Our Savior has been faithful, oh so faithful, to answer our cries in the wee hours of the night. Cries that He would protect you, grow you, send you friends who were like minded, and reveal Himself to ALL of us during this school year.

Proud of you does not begin to explore all the things we feel when we hear your name!
We love you, our Katherine Suzanne!

~Mama and Daddy 

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

let's talk about SEX, baby!!

i have a feeling that today's title has drawn in some new or infrequent readers to the blog. so i promise i am going to be on my best behavior. :)

today we are going to tackle a topic that is very intimate, personal, and sacred to me. there will be no inappropriate, off color, crude, or demeaning comments made here. so if that's what you are looking for you can close out of this window and move about your business. however, i am going to be forth right refusing to hide behind "religious" do's and don'ts. ( as you already know, i don't do well with those).

 going forward whatever is stated about the issue of sex is in regards to it being done within the protective confines of a covenant marriage. i am not addressing marriages where abuse has taken place, either within the marriage itself or to one of individuals in the marriage. that requires a totally different manual.

with that said, what is it that i want to say in regards to sex??... well, it's simple, DO IT! HAVE IT! OWN IT!

*small clause here*
  most men are jumping up from the computer screens running to their wives and saying, "see, i told we are suppose to be having MORE sex!! sara said so in her blog today!"

wives, don't start leaving me nasty comments... i am on your side!

and some of our dearest, most wonderful, most treasured, non-matrimonied readers, (yes, i made that word up)  are thinking, "what the *&^%, this is actually something people have to be encouraged to do after marriage?"

yes, yes unfortunately it is.

see there is this cat and mouse game that sometimes happens early on in marriages, when the desire and long awaited God given freedom is solidified in vows, and the beauty of the marriage is bed is explored.....frequently.

but life happens. the honeymoon ends, life resumes, and if there is not a full blown, unwavering effort, to elevate and protect the marriage bed, sex diminishes and sometimes altogether disappears. growing up in the church, in a private school, surrounded by people who ultimately desired the absolute best for me,  they sometimes only gave minimal guidance when it came to sex before marriage, "don't have it!" i understood that. i desired deeply to honor my future husband (whomever he may be) by giving all of me to him.... but what i wish more people WOULD have talked to me about was the importance of HAVING it IN marriage. what that looks like from a pure heart. a pure motive.  because we all know every other media outlet and talking head was and is talking about sex ALL THE TIME! if there is no voice speaking out to protect the innocence, purity, and beauty of marital sex than we have lost a major battle.

it was about 4 years into my marriage when it actually became very clear how important a healthy sex life was for the life blood of my marriage. it wasn't merely just to procreate the earth (although, we were getting really good at that ;), or fulfill my "wifely duties". it was far more about the life and death of my marriage.

if y'all already didn't know this, men and women approach sex very differently. they both need it for very different reasons. i am not going to say that it's across the boards the same for every marriage, because well it's not. but there are some strong statistics that reveal that the majority of men and women approach it the same way.

 wives, if you have not read, "For Women Only" by Shaunti Feldhahn, YOU SHOULD!
husbands, if you have not read, "For Men Only' by Shaunti and Jeff Feldhahn, YOU SHOULD!

i do not have the time to dive deep into the amazing observations that both of these books have to offer. i wish i did. but know this, it forever changed the way i approached my husband, how i responded to his advances, how i elevated the place of sex in our marriage.

the biggest "ah-ha" moment for me was to realize that sex is a man's way of communicating with his wife. he communicates his passion, his desire, his loyalty, his love for his wife in this single act. static after static proves that a man can have a dead end job, a stressful job, and a low paying job, but if he has a wife who is eager, not just willing, BUT EAGER to make love, he can survive WHATEVER life throws his way. statistics also prove that a man can have a dream job, power, respect, and all the money in the world, but if his wife is neither eager nor willing, he will be extremely plagued by self doubt and insecurity. and the more often his advances are turned down or excused away, he will stop pursuing his bride.

if sex is one of the main ways a man communicates with his wife, than words are the main way women communicate with their husbands. obviously, we have that many more things to say. :) imagine with me if your husband stopped talking to you. hour after hour, day after he day, he said nothing. he looked you and shrugged his shoulders as you begged him to speak to you, to say something.... ANYTHING! and he numbly responded, " i am too tired to talk, i have a headache!" how confused, hurt, dejected, insecure, frazzled, insane, would you feel? i get all teary thinking how shut down i would be if mark suddenly stopped talking to me. well, that's exactly how men feel when we women, stupidly, ignorantly, intentionally and selfishly, deny our men an outlet of communication. it's a personal blow to their character, to their manhood, to the very core of who they are when we say, "NO!"

women, i know you feel like the men are kind of getting off the hook here. i am no fool, i understand that it takes two to tango, but my words are not for them they are for you.

would you please, please evaluate the health and very life of your sexual relationship in your marriage? do you honor your beloved through word and deed? have the corrupt, destructive, disgusting views of sex penetrated through the confines of your marriage? is your marriage knocking on death's door because you have lost your spouse?

please understand that this issue means so much to me. i do not take lightly the sanctity of the marriage bed. i am desperate for other women, mom's with small children hanging on their legs, older women who have been married for ages, newly weds, and non-matrimonied women to wake up and realize that our marriages can live or die based on the health of our sexual relationships.

consider having a "talk" with your husband soon!

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

pardon me...

for real? how can there only be 6 days left in april? CRAZY! how can we already be on the verge of summer? i, for one, am READY! but i am trying to keep my excitement to myself because katie's principal has instructed us to try and keep the children focused for the next 4 weeks....bwhahahahah

any who, here is a picture of katie and auntie erin at the reception for the kindest Kansan. are they not adorable?

lucy has received the "best mood" award for like the last two weeks. she has been super flexible, and as my brother recently stated, "blessed are the flexible for they will NOT be bent out of shape".
she has been HILARIOUS! and we have desperately needed some hilarity in our lives the last few weeks. for instance while at the royals game she boldly stated, "this is way more fun than church!" (don't be offended skip :) she also informed me and mark that she "ain't marrying her boyfriend!" when asked why she said, " because i will already have the ring, the bracelet, and the jewelry!" yes, yes, in fact we ARE raising a gold digger :)

we also attended our first MLB game as a family. we almost froze our tukusses (this is the in house term for BUTT) off!! but we made the most of it. it was SUPER FUN! we hope to do it again in summer temperatures.

we hope everyone has a great tuesday and a great conclusion to april!

Saturday, April 21, 2012

A DP for JP 2012

Yesterday would have been Mark's brother, Joshua Paul's, 35th birthday. In celebration of the 24 years God granted us with him we encouraged everyone to have a Dr. Pepper in his honor. Because, well, Joshua loved him some DP. Hence the title of the post a DP for JP.  It goes without saying that we have been abundantly blessed by our circle of friends and family.  Thank you for your enthusiasm.  We have been encouraged to make this an annual event and we TOTALLY agree. You have 364 days to plan your Dr. Pepper picture for next year. It was so fun to hear from you guys via facebook, texts, email, etc.. and we REALLY appreciated those fun pictures. Some of you enjoyed RT 44s. Some enjoyed a two litter. Some share a 12 pack amongst families. Some of us went into a sugar coma b/c we hadn't had a soda in 10 years or more. But it was all for a great cause. . Thank you for making yesterday so special!
Here's to next year!

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Living in the Storm: I am SO going there....

*disclaimer. these are the words of a grieving soul. sometimes grief alters who you are.*

if you have known my mama for any amount of time you will have heard her say, "you can go there, but you can't camp there!" (eventually i intend on making this phrase into a hallmark card in her memory). when i was struggling with depression, 7 weeks pregnant and spending my life with my head in a toilet, and grieving the death of my best friend, mom never scorned me or shamed me for feel feeling those intense and paralyzing feelings. i remember clearly driving home in the rain one day and calling her sobbing b/c i was just convinced i was going to die that day. she didn't laugh, she didn't make fun of me, she just asked me to pull the car over so she could pray for me. she said, "sara, i don't think you are going to die today, but I don't know that for sure!" and then she said her famous line, "you can go there, but baby, you can't camp there!"

this week i just need to go there. to that place where i don't deny the grief access into my life, where i don't deny the reality of the situation to sit heavy upon me, where i don't deny the anger that sometimes comes over me, where i don't deny the urge to crawl in bed and lay in darkness for hours and sob it out.

i have been doing extended research on the computer recently regarding alzheimer's. and every time they show a picture it's of an 85 year old woman and her great-grand daughter sitting in her lap and they are both smiling from ear to ear. and you know what i think, "screw you lady! i would give anything to be walking through this 20 years from now..." how awful is that? now, do i know that that is the "improper" response to those pictures? yes, i sure do. do i know that i need to address those issues? YEP! do i want today? nope.

no, because i am going to go there. and while i kind of fade away for a while, while i maybe resort to shutting down a little emotionally, while allow myself to be somber, introverted, and detached (3 very unfamiliar characteristics for me), i hear her whispering in that very firm but unbelievably gentle tone, "you can go there for a little while, but baby, you can't camp there!"


Monday, April 16, 2012

Radical Rearing...

no worries, we will not be discussing radical butt shaping techniques in today's post...

the last few days i have had some clarity shed upon my life.  and when you are a mom of 4 small children and you receive any clarity regarding anything, you go with it.

i had the HIGH privilege of seeing beth moore over the weekend at a living proof conference. there is no way for me to fully explain the profound influence this woman and her ministry has had on my life. tornadoes were threatening the area and it would have been ok with me had i died in the arena with beth moore. ;)! you can not walk through one of her studies or hear her speak and doubt for a single second that this woman is anointed by God to be doing exactly what she is doing. Her deep, intimate love for Jesus is nothing but contagious.

but the area in which i found clarity was not even an area beth ( i can call her beth b/c we are like BFF's now :) spoke on. but an area that is very significant for me, very defining for me..... it was clarity about the complete and amazing gifts that are all wrapped up in my four God-given children.

if you don't know it already, i am crazy about my kids. sometimes, a lot of times, they make me crazy. but instead of me being distracted by their crazy inflicting ways, i was able in my moment of clarity, to just see THEM! i saw katie laying in her bed during quiet time scanning the pages of the word of God and glowing. i saw julia looking at herself in the mirror bobbing her head from side to side to make sure the curls were bouncing just right. i saw lucy's precious moments eyes watching me as i got ready for church. i saw my blonde headed, busy little man standing at my bedside at 645am begging for mac-n-cheese. i saw this and so much more, and i was just speechless. sometimes the mundane routines of daily living consume all the energy we possess. our duties sometimes tap our cheek away from actually seeing our kids. moments, precious moments whisk passed us and we miss them. we miss seeing them. we spend focused energy on changing them, correcting them, steering them clear of different snares, and while all of these things are WORTHY of our energy, we lose them. we often spend more time picking out the things that need correction rather than praising them, encouraging them, oooing and ahhhing over them and the spirit that indwells them, and the shining, and sometimes fleeting moments, when they choose love, when they choose sharing, when they choose obedience, when they choose self control, when they choose selflessness, when they choose forgiveness, and when they choose grace.  when they are repeatedly shown their faults and short comings and rarely, if ever, shown their strengths, they will embrace their faults and short comings because they think those are the things that define them. because those are the things that get our attention, therefore those are the things do over and over again because if anything they get a response out of us. and sometimes they are desperately needing a response of any sort.

i am repeatedly humbled by my children. yesterday we were walking through a sticky situation that required them to simply obey our request and trust us in the details. i was prepared for full blown melt down. i had my responses lined out... but the kids so graciously just did what we asked of them. there were some questions, but they were asked not in a temper tantrum kind of way, but out of a respectful, honoring way. i just got all teary watching them respond the way they did. i am so unworthy to be their Mama. they are more gracious, loving, forgiving, and kind then i ever was at their age or ever will be.

if there was ever any calling to get crazy about, it's the calling to love our children in a lunatic, radical, passionate, overwhelming, unreasonable, kind of way. i hope that my children will be able to look passed all the very apparent ways i have failed them, or misled them, or did them wrong, and be able to live out their lives knowing that their Mama was absolutely, 100%, crazy-in-love, with them.

so here is to a day full of clarity... clarity in not missing our children, not missing a single minute to love them in a radical rearing kind of way!

happy monday,

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Kansas Is Fun!

our bentz's were here this week. that's why i have been MIA. it was the first time the bentz children have ever been to kansas, so we HAD to show them some fun. while we have spent oodles of time with the bentz's we have never, all 12 of us, been under one roof for more than two days... we learned how much food 12 people can consume. we learned just how much noise we can all make, and we learned that we still LOVE being together :)

the other thing we learned is that you aren't still very much with this many people running around.
here is the quick run down of what kept us busy; we dyed easter eggs, we worshiped together on easter, we did an easter egg hunt, we fished, we went to crown center, we went to fritz's, we went to kaleidoscope, we played just dance on the Wii for hours, we went to the park, we grilled out, we went to westport, we went to the kansas city zoo, we went to the american girl store, we danced some more, we played liverpool, we played snorta, we played qwirkle, we watched a little jack baurer, and we danced some more.

we did not however get to go curling. nor did we get to see a royal's game or go on a tour at the brewery. all things we will have to do next time :)

now to recover!
happy thursday,
p.s. if you click on the pic it will enlarge

Wednesday, April 4, 2012


i have a lot floating through my mind lately.  feeling a bit bi-polar.  but when you are me that is totally normal. :)  over the weekend a guy who went to the same high school as me had a massive stroke and went home to Jesus this morning. when sudden grief strikes anyone i know or don't know, i always find myself walking back through moments in my life when sudden grief struck me. and then all i want to do is help people. even though we aren't eating casseroles, i want to make like 12 of them for complete strangers.  i want to sit down and talk to the wife of the younger brother who just lost his only sibling, because i have held the hand of the younger brother who lost his only sibling as he stood at his brother's funeral and made a tribute. i want to tell her so many things. i want to encourage her somehow, someway. i want the younger brother mark, to meet MY mark, because i don't know a more sensitive, thoughtful, person, who could walk this road. i want to give the mother of this young man the number of my mother-in-law and tell her to call her... because if anyone understands her grief it is my gracious, kind, and amazing, mother-in-law. i want to give the father of this young man larry littlejohn's cell phone number, because larry knows. and then i just burst into tears when i think about the wife and daughter left behind. 

somehow while sorting through some thoughts about this family's grief i am keenly aware that this is the week we celebrate the death and resurrection of our Jesus... hi-jacked by a hare. no wonder this world is full of depressed, overwhelmed, and hopeless people. we traded in, "the word became flesh" for an overweight, out of breath old man who judges the good deeds and the bad deeds of children. and then grants them gifts based on their actions. and we traded in the death and resurrection of Jesus for a weak, ugly, bunny rabbit with pastels (YUCK!)  thankfully, despite who i am and what i have done, my Jewish carpenter, my Abba, my everything, who i call Savior, pours His goodness on me continually. not because of me or anything in me, but because His Son rescued me on the cross. and did not stay in the grave, but through victory conquered death.

i've said it many times grief and joy must learn to meld together in the hearts of those who trust Jesus. sharing the dance floor of this life. this week has not only held sadness but EXTREME anticipation and excitement for our Bentzs to arrive from VA. all six of them will journey the 2200 miles (round trip) because they want to be with US (what other reason do they have to visit Kansas? ;) friendship is about pursuing each other despite distance, despite obstacles, despite the trials of riding in a mini van for 40 hours with four children.  real friendship is intentional and purposeful. this trip makes us all feel so very loved!

i know i seem to be all over the place. i warned you.

please pray for the nagel family when you think of them.
please take a minute and consider the REAL reason we celebrate Easter.
and please pray for our friend's safety and sanity as they drive the unforgettable drive from KG to KC :)

if i don't write before then,
Happy Easter, He is Risen, He reigns, He is coming for us..... oh, glorious day!