Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Maybe Mississippi is a Mistake (A year later)

In preparation of moving back to the south, I wrote THIS blog feeling insecure and inadequate in my not so southern ways. Today, I got such a giggle rereading it.

One year ago today, our Penske truck rolled all up into this quaint Camp of the French.

What a year!

When we set our sights on French Camp, we had ONE thing in mind; our children. For the first time in our entire parenting process we were able to make a moving decision solely based on what was best for the future of our kids. Up until last year, our history of relocating surrounded our desire to be in full time camp and conference ministry, Mark's schooling, Mark's commitment to the DOD, and our absolute determination to be in Kansas with my Mama for as long as she took a breath. Moving to a place where our kids could grow up more like we did was alluring. The opportunities our children have here we could have never offered them in a big city. The space and time our children are gifted here is seemingly magical. The absolute access to the beauty of God's creation (even if the pine trees make me claustrophobic from time to time) is endless.

As I mentally recap the pros and cons of our first year in French Camp, my heart continually returns to the precious moments my children have been given. The growth I saw in each of them astounds me as they were given the mental, emotional, and physical space to blossom. I'm so proud of them! And the balance we were seeking in given them more time away from the single voice of their mother, proved to be the perfect ingredient in solidifying our relationship with one another. Bottom line, I'm a better mom because of the space. Period.

In addition to watching my kids blossom, I have seen their sweet daddy settle into a rhythm of freedom. From back yard BON FIRES, to long four wheeler rides, to projects galore on a home he can call his own, I've seen him dream more in this last year than in a very long time. My heart swells with an unparalleled pride because I get to call him mine.

No move to any place on this planet comes without ugly tears and moments of regret. And trust me, we have had plenty of those moments.  Our year has included a unique and complicated struggle to remain authentic to who we were before landing here, and attempting to not get voted off the island.

I am so grateful for "our tribe" who have listened as we wrestled with ALL the transitions we have come across. I am so grateful for the text messages, the emails, the private conversations, when people have extended us grace to just be us. No strings attached. Those moments are tucked away in my "don't sell your double wide" folder and will be held on to forever!

It has been one of my greatest and hardest privileges to connect myself to this quaint Camp of the French. I am excited to deepen our roots here and marinate.

Happy One Year Anniversary!

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

If My Blog Could Speak

The last six July's of our story have included moving, major life transitions and pain that will bring you to the end of yourself.

Quick run down.

July 2008 ~ We were on a ten week internship, living in a HOTEL room with a 4 year old, 2 year old, 1 year old, and baby newly in the womb, in the strange and desolate land of King George, VA. You cannot imagine the stress of living in a hotel, not just hotel living, but with a child who was at the peak of her strong will. Oh, Julia. Click here for memories.

July of 2009 ~ Settling into a brand new village more permanently; King George, Virginia. We had a 5 year old, 3 year old, 2 year old and four month old. If you have ever had to settle into a new town, start completely over, where the TV is your only friend for a solid four months, you know what I am talking about. It is lonely. It can be isolating. It is A LOT of work and it does not come without ugly tears.

July of 2010 ~ Absolutely the scariest month of my existence. Mark was struggling deeply with his health and I was struggling deeply with my emotional health. Fear was having its way in our home and I've never experienced bondage the way I did that month. We were physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually being attacked on EVERY SIDE! The Lord set us free! Read about it here.

July of 2011 ~ To date, some of the hardest goodbyes I've ever said as we left Virginia and turned our sails to Kansas. And the cross country move? A new, fresh hell!! Feel free to read through our adventures.

July 2012 ~ This month revolved around the delicate and devastating process of admitting my mother into a psychiatric ward. Remember that journey? Remember the story here. Oh, and we also decided that we needed to do an in town move. Well because, we were missing our Penske, of course.

July 2013 ~ Under the trance and fog of grief, we moved our family AGAIN for the fifth time in six years (hopefully for the final time ever) to a place where our children would gain from the sacrifice of saying 'goodbye' once again to the familiar and lovely, and putting down some stable roots. It meant preparing my heart to let go of the position of teacher in my children's lives, letting go of my Kansas home and heart, and it meant unintentionally opening up the tunnel of grief again for my family, asking them to let us go.  My Kansas goodbye written here.

If my blog could speak, I am sure she would tell you that she is holding her breath for the next 9 days in anticipation of the July 2014 jungle headed our way.  I am happy to report we are not living in a hotel room AND we have ZERO plans of moving. Praise the Shepherd. In the darkness of night I pray, "Lord please, let us live here a long time! I do not have it in me to move again!" Thankfully, we all seem to be in good health right now. However, in remembrance of July of 2010, we daily fight the battle of captivity to fear and resistance to bondage. We aren't wrestling perfect drug cocktails and long goodbyes in sterile, white hallways with locked units. And while it will never be easy, I am more comfortable today than I was this time last year, returning my children to the care of their amazing teachers in 16 short days.

Oh July, I am not extremely fond of you. You and your memories make me tired. But yesterday, as the words of Matt Redman flooded my brain I stood in awe;

Never once did we ever walk alone
Never once did You leave us on our own
You are faithful, God, You are faithful 
Scars and struggles on the way
But with joy our hearts can say
Never once did we ever walk alone
Carried by Your constant grace
Held within Your perfect peace
Never once, no, we never walk alone

That chorus will also need to be tattooed to my body. I might be running out of tattoo space. Good thing I have four children :)

I know so many of my readers are walking on broken roads today. I know so many of my readers are facing horror and hell. If anything will encourage you today, know this, YOU ARE NOT ALONE! We will all bare the scars of this world. We will all struggle until the Lamb comes for us. Just because we follow of Jesus, does not mean we walk the road laden with jewels. Just because we call on Christ, does not mean we will not cringe under the cruelty of brokenness and sin. But being found in our Savior DOES mean we will NEVER WALK ALONE! I look back of the July's of this life and weep with hallelujahs. The weight could have crushed us, the pain could have tainted our hearts with bitterness forever. But we aren't crushed, we aren't tainted, we are HIS and we will always be!!!!


Friday, July 18, 2014

I'm Going On A Diet

It might have been the cheesy nachos at 1 AM, my crazy-awesome, Jackson date night with Dawn, to hear Christine Caine and Kari Jobe PREACH IT! It might have been the insomnia that has arrested me and refused to release me. It might be this stirring in my gut that my 30 days of high definition is revealing...

But y'all! Y'all!

I need to use my words. I need to type my words. I need to get them out. Not necessarily for you, but for me.

Christine Caine was preaching out of the book Joshua. (*side note* If you don't know of Christine Caine, go google her RIGHT NOW!) The journey of the Israelite's, a story as familiar to me as my own life. But that's what is so delicious about the Holy Spirit, He makes the word, the stories, the passages new. He opens our spiritual eyes to see. And it's only because of HIS work in our hearts that we are changed because of what we read, hear, and experience. One can stand in front of a mirror all day long and see flaws and changes that need to be made in one's life, but it is not merely the recognition of one's need for change that causes change. One must actually BE CHANGED!

Back to the squirrely Israelites. God, in His great mercy, rescued his people from 400 plus years of captivity from the Egyptians. They were excited for like five seconds before they started longing and complaining to go back to Egypt, (yes, the place where they has been held in captivity, beaten, abused, and oppressed) because the dinner entrees were better there. The manna and quail that God was faithfully providing in the morning and the evening, was not getting five stars on their Trip Advisory App. I know that this exact same selfishness and discontentment resides in me. I know my maiden name really is, Israelite. :)

But in Joshua 5, after forty years of faithfully meeting the needs of His ungrateful people, verse twelve says, "the manna ceased!" The way in which the Lord was providing for His people was about to change. And while our God is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow, the WAY our God sees fit to nourish, satisfy, and provide for his people can change. God ceased to serve them manna because He wanted them to now eat the fresh produce of the promised land; Canaan. God was so before His time, eating all local, organic,  and fresh market. All the granola heads just THINK they are cutting edge. :)

Imagine for a minute, the child who was born during the forty years of the wilderness experience. The child who has never eaten anything BUT manna. Manna is comfortable to this child; now grown adult. The manna is predictable, the manna comes without work, the manna is all this person has every known. And if I know the human race at all, I am sure somewhere in the million people that Joshua was leading, someone opposed the eating of the manna because, "we have never done it this way!". Christine so politely pointed out that those seven words are the death sentence to every church in existence. Furthermore, I would say they are the death sentence to every personal walk with the Lord, every marriage, every family, every friendship, every parent-child interaction, every school, every community, every establishment.

"The manna ceased,"  not because our God is an angry God who was punishing the contentious hearts of a rebellious group of whinos. The manna ceased because God had something better for a people that He adored.

Christine said two extremely profound things that I cannot shake.
One, "how many of you are still eating manna when God desires to serve you promised land produce?"
How many of us refuse to make a change in our marriages, in our parenting, in our hearts, in our patterns, in our addictions, in our routines, in our churches, in our friendships, in our homes, in our worship styles, in our schools, in our communities, in our jobs, because we are comfortable consuming manna because we've never tasted anything else. All the while, the manna is a sad, moldy, stale, representation of what "once was". One of the greatest quotes I've ever read was by Jasoslav Pelikan, "Tradition is the living faith of the dead, traditionalism is the dead faith of the living!" This will also be tattooed to my body at some point. How many of us are eating a daily diet of traditionalism? Because it is what we have always eaten....

We all do it!! We are ALL guilty. We all get comfortable with the manna somewhere in our life. And we all stake our claim in the dirt, "You will have to come pry this manna out of my cold, dead, hand before I (fill in the blank).... And then marriages, families, churches, schools, communities, relationships, ministries, parent-child interactions, friendships, jobs, and a whole entire world dies because no one is willing (because of fear, arrogance, complacency or ignorance) to change the method is which one might nourish, satisfy and provide for the well spring of life; people's hearts and lives.... RELATIONSHIPS!!!

I'm done.

I'm done munching on a diet of manna.
I'm done doing it the way it has always been done....because!
I'm done being controlled by fear, arrogance, complacency, and ignorance.
I'm done consuming a diet that has zero nutrition all under the banner of traditionalism (the worship of tradition).
There is freedom, life, peace, and unspeakable JOY when you taste and see the Lord is GOOD! When you taste Jesus, when you taste the produce of the promise land, when you taste the hope that He can plant in our hearts and lives. When you stop feasting on "what was", when you break free from the bondage of the way it was done in the wilderness and you enter the promise land of really KNOWING JESUS!!

In closing, Christine marked my heart with these words. "We have an entire generation of Christians who have been set free from captivity, but who will spend their entire lives wandering in the wilderness."


There are people who will never taste and see that the Lord is good on this earth, because they think Christianity is only about being saved from an eternity in hell. Fire insurance. Meanwhile, there is a God who is begging His dearly beloved people to stop their malnutritioned diet on manna, and feast on HIM!!!!!

WATCH OUT! I'm GETTING FIRED UP!!! This is only the beginning!


Monday, July 7, 2014

Saying Goodbye To Good

He was gentle as he communicated in no uncertain terms that we would in fact NOT be able to get HD in our new home, "The trees are too dense, ma'am. I cannot get a clear line to the satellite. I am so sorry to disappoint you. Would you like to cancel your service with us?"  "No, no, it's ok. We aren't all wrapped up in the HD thing we will be completely happy to just have any of the channels you can give us. It's either no HD or no television altogether! And I'm kind of a current events junky so I've got to have my news!"  He chuckled. "There is one other thing we might be able to do." "Yeah?! What's that?!" "I know exactly what trees are blocking the direct signal, if your husband wants to he can chop down that tree, that tree, that branch, that tree, and then you'll have a signal NO PROBLEM!! My turn to chuckle, "Yeah, that's not happening!"

I went home to Kansas this week. My dad has no problem getting an HD signal in the glorious, open, plains of Kansas. :) SO.... HD is SWEET! I just stared at the soccer game. It was so real I wanted to kiss Tim Howard's sweaty cheeks all sixteen times he miraculously saved the ball from the goal. I had no idea what I was missing in the HD world.  The news anchors are so up close and personal when recounting the news of the day. It was dreamy. I began to hire some tree trimmers in my mind. We happen to know some AWESOME tree trimmers here in the Sip. Surely, they would understand our plight and immediately help a sister out. Maybe I couldn't live without HD afterall.

On my twenty one hour round trip home to Kansas, my mind chewed and chewed on the cud of this last year, the last 4 years really. In 30 short days, my girls will return to school and we will begin the marathon of another school year. I threw up in my mouth when I figured out that number. Where has summer gone? Where have my lazy, slow, thoughtful, intentional days gone? I was going to teach them piano this summer. In hopes they would be Mozart by August. By golly, I was going to hang a chore chart for the summer, we were going to be the Brady Bunch. I envisioned Abeka flash cards being reviewed daily because my kids weren't going to be those kids who lost three months of information over the summer. *Sigh*

This will be our first July since 2010 NOT to move. Praise the Shep. The last 3 July's in our life have been spent sorting, wrapping, packing, list making, truck booking, and tetris mastering. Moving has the ability to chew you up and spit you out like no other life stress. (Special prayers sent to my sister and BIL!! Power up! You've got this) Touching every item in your house July after July sealed my hunch that we have WAY too much crap.

Twenty one hours on the road gave my mind and emotions the space I needed to evaluate this last year under a microscope and begin to prepare for the year that lies ahead. I had a WAY TOO SHORT ninety minute breakfast date, with one of my life-long, heart friends that validated, encouraged, and blossomed me. She gave me a permission slip to say goodbye to the good and with measured intention embrace THE BEST! It's a lot harder for me to unwrap all of the this with words right now, but oh my goodness I'm so excited about the concepts, ideas, dreams, boundaries, and passions that seem to be finally taking root in my heart and in my life.

The next thirty days will be the first thirty days in a very, very, long time that I can turn my FULL attention back to the three roles that I feel like God put in my soul to be; a wife, a mom, and an artist. I was given amazing opportunities this last year to serve in so many different capacities and I do not for ONE second regret taking on those sweet roles, but it's time to clear cut.

After a long season of grief and constant transition, I'm ready to explore a life lived in high definition. I'm ready to bathe in the details again. I'm ready to use my energy in leveling up from good to great. Grief, change, and raising babies into children, has this completely normal way of re-prioritizing the way you do life. Sometimes, for a season, you cannot live in HD. Details, dreams, and deliberate living take a back seat to surviving and sacrificing your every breath for the livelihood of others.The last eleven years, I have been abundantly blessed to lay down my life to write the story of love on our children's hearts. Not easy. Not dreamy. Not sexy. Not full of accolades and praise. But oh my stars, SUCH A WORTHY CAUSE! Those stories are STILL being written, but for the first time in a LONG time some property has come up for sale in my life and people, we are about to build!!!!

The next thirty days, will be a concentrated time of fasting and over indulging. Ha! How silly does that sound? But it's exactly what I plan on doing. I'm cutting down some trees on my property that have blocked the signal of living in high definition, and in doing so I plan on being able to over-indulge in some areas that have been lived out in a lower quality than I desire.

What does this look like for real over the next thirty days?

1. A year ago I upgraded to iphone, I love it for A LOT of reasons. I hate it for a lot of reasons. This device has the ability to block A LOT of rich signals of HD in daily interactions with the people we are ACTUALLY doing life with. For me? My hubby, my kids, my neighbors, my art. So... we are making rules. When we are all together, eating, playing, worshiping, working etc.. phones are on chargers and silenced. FREEDOM. It's like 1990 again. If you can't reach me, leave a voicemail and I'll check the answering machine when I get home, when I am finished fully showing up to what I need to be showing up to :)

2. I'm going to read a book FOR FUN! A juicy, dramatic, no strings attached book...FOR FUN! I want to lay in my bed with a million covers on my body with only my cold nose peeking out because the air is cranked so low, and get lost in a book. Taking suggestions now.

3. I'm going to listen to music everyday. Sometime in the last year I stopped listening to music. Music stirs me, lightens my load, and inspires all the other areas in my world. From John Legend's incredibly romantic
"All of Me" which makes me want to make babies, to Fernando Ortega's "Sing To Jesus" which puts me on my face before the throne. I want it all. I want to absorb it again. I want to dance in it, cry in it, create with it blaring in the background of my life. Taking itunes suggestions now.

4. I want to walk everyday. Again, sometime in the last year, I traded in riding for walking. Don't get me wrong, I love me some four-wheeling, but I want to walk. We have the most fantastic walking town EVER. I want to slow down and walk. I want to hold my husband's sweaty hand and walk the world.

5. I want to read out loud to my kids. I ADORE the fact that my girls can sit in their rooms in the evening and tear up a chapter book. But I've missed reading out loud with them. I've missed reading to them as they toss, turn and spin on the bedroom floor with their wet, shower heads. Hmmmm...hmmmm....hmmmm. DELICIOUS!

6. I want to create in the kitchen again instead of surviving the kitchen. I love cooking. I love the satisfaction of serving a meal I poured myself into. When trauma blocked the signal of my HD living, the meals were served out of survival... AGAIN, totally ok and normal, but I'm trying to be intentional and that's an area that I want to focus on. If you see me pulling through the drive through of Pop Eyes in the next thirty days, don't throw rocks. Real life happens. :)

7. We are going to play before school starts again. Play the piano, play the vocal chords, play in the street after the sun sets, play the Wii, play house, (by helping daddy on his latest house project) play "math class" (throwing in some Abeka flashcards for fun :), play in the pool, PLAY! PLAY! PLAY!

8. I want to continue to pursue my art. I want focus my extra property on building and refining my craft. I want to do what I know, and I KNOW that without a shadow of a doubt I have been created to create with words. I want to say goodbye to the good and fully embrace the great. Hopefully, that means more blog entries over the next thirty days as I try and process my trimming.

I do not want to just spend the next thirty days living in high definition, rather, I want the next thirty days to be the foundation of clear cutting for all that is to come.

I was reminded once again, as my hands ran over my mom's words in her journal, over her jacket that still hangs in daddy's bedroom closet, and as I breathed in her lifetime of memories stored in the basement and in our hearts;  our time here is but a miniature moment.

Here is to the long journey of recovering living in high definition!