Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Four Scandalous Secrets About 13 Years Of Marriage

In a little less than a week, Mark and I will ring in THIRTEEN YEARS OF MARRIAGE! Zach said recently, "you made it to the teens, that should count for something!" I'm all, "HECK YEAH IT SHOULD!"

A blog post will have to do.

One of the most romantic movie lines that I just ADORE, is from Sweet Home Alabama.

Two young kids, Jake and Melanie, are standing on a beach while a storm is blowing in. Melanie asks Jake, "why would you want to marry me anyhow?" Jake responds, "So I can kiss you any time I want!" (that writer made his/her career with that one line :)

1. Mark first kissed me on beach. It was quiet, soft and slow. After thirteen years of marriage, and 15 1/2  years of being in relationship with one another; I want to kiss him. Parts of me go missing when our lips stop finding each other in the early morning light before work steals him away, or when the daily grind collaborates to create a ravine in our paths crossing. 
Truth: don't stop kissing each other.

2. Marriage is the most painful work on the planet. The vulnerability created between two hearts that are fully exposed, substantially increases the amount of pain you can cause and receive. Say, "I am sorry!" Oh my gosh, the number of times you MUST say these words EVERY FREAKING DAY to sustain the very life blood of two people's worlds colliding. We were barely out of the womb when we said, "I do!" Completely clueless to the way we would be called to beat our way forward in obedience to our love story. There is never a, "happily-ever-after" that doesn't require deep, scandalous, beautifully-messy, and sucky hard work!!
Truth: Holy, moly, crap-o-la, it's a knock down, drag out war to preserve the precious places of any marriage. 

Fight on!
Fight on!
Fight on!

3. Before you get married, take your shoes off. I know some of my scandalous readers are on the brink of getting married themselves and are hoping to take off a lot more than their shoes... ;) and I just get all hilariously, giggly because that is SO WHAT GOD INTENDED! Why, but OF COURSE, you are anxious to consummate your marriage and put into action all that you desire and feel. Holy moly cow, if we cannot talk about and celebrate the intimacy of a married couple, than this is dead to me. Back to your shoes. Marriage, while incredibly painful and hard, is one of the most hallowed places we can walk. Do not tread like you are on eggs shells, but tread as if the ground you walk upon is sacred, and to be held with the utmost awe, wonder and honor.
Truth: naked feet are necessary.  

4. As this last year settles into the history books, one thing specifically rises to the top of what I learned about my marriage, well... what I learned about my husband and the way he feels towards me. At the end of every day, I know down in my gut and into my toes, that my husband is FOR ME! I have had so many new and stretching opportunities placed in my life this year, and the first person up to bat to encourage and support me has been Mark. "You can do this, I can think of no one better out there to do this EXACT thing you are called to do. You are more capable than anyone I know!" Those words plastered themselves all over my insecure heart as I left for Houston last week. He is for me, he has ALWAYS been for me, but this year that truth became our reality, and it has required deep sacrifice on his part. 

Truth: if you want to communicate to someone that you love them... you have to find a way to clearly communicate to them that you are FOR THEM!! Loving someone and being FOR someone are two opposing pieces of one part.

I am humbled everyday that I have been given the great and mighty task of being in relationship and in a covenant marriage with my husband. It IS the most sacred ground I walk on this side of eternity. Without a doubt, I am the source of the deepest and darkest wounds that lie on my husband's heart. Without a doubt, I carry scars of encounters that are rooted in being in relationship with Mark. 
Without a doubt, the dance floor we step on is littered with unspeakable brokenness and screw ups.


WITHOUT A DOUBT, I choose him.
I choose Mark.
I have everyday for 13 years of marriage, and I have ZERO intention of stopping.

Mark Adam,

Tears pour, as I think about the story we have written and the story we are beating forward, in great sacrifice, to tell. Our sacred marriage is the sweetest, most delicate story I will ever pen.

I totes adore you!!

Friday, September 19, 2014

The Care and Keeping of a Donkey

All of the hair on the back of my neck stands up when I hear someone say, "all the details will just work themselves out!" All administrators around the world gasp for air. Every time a bell rings an angel gets its wings. Every time the details, "just work themselves out" the creatives are in charge :)   Truth? The details DO NOT just work themselves out. We are getting ready to attend our favorite conference ever through CCEF, and each time we go I feel inclined to find the conference director and hug him/her and buy them a stiff drink. Oh, the details. Seriously, go find yourself an administrator and hug them. They need it, trust me.

One of the many things I find totally irresistible about my husband, is his uncanny awareness of the details. Simultaneously, it's the one characteristic in him that sometimes just needs to die. :)

I've been tromping through Elyse Fitzpatrick's, "Found In Him" and I think everyone should stop right now and go buy it. It is so divine! Elyse just happens to be one of the main speakers at the conference we are going to, and YES... I'm so going to stalk her! Part of our chapter this week was studying through the triumphal entry into Jerusalem. I was so mesmerized by this part:
"Jesus tells his disciples, 'Go into the village in front of you, and immediately you will find a donkey, and a colt with her. Untie them and bring them to me.' "

This is SO like my Jesus. His sweet attention to the details. Not because He is a control freak and likes to micro-manage, (like so many administrators we encounter), but because He loves the smallest and most intimate details of His creation.

"Untie THEM and bring THEM to me!"

Ah-ha, the details. He already knows that the donkey will have a colt, and He wants BOTH of them to brought to Him. Elyse states, "Jesus is so gentle that he won't even separate the little colt from his mother!"

Our Creators distinct attention to detail, can be traced throughout ALL of scripture, and throughout ALL of creation. Even if you do an elementary survey of the human body, you cannot deny the absolute perfection in the INVOLUNTARY details of our bodies. Systems that just do what they were designed to do without us even knowing it. Detailed much? Uh, HECK YEAH!

The often cold, angry, aloof Sunday school portrayal of Jesus, that has been ingrained in so many, depicts a God that is too busy and perfect for us. A God that is is too grand to care about the very ebb and flow of our daily lives. A God that only uses dogmatic, pious, heroes in His story. NOTHING could be further from the truth. He delighted in the particular care and keeping of an ass, how MUCH more than do you think He cares for YOU?!

Somebody give me an AMEN!!!

For real, are you hearing me?!!! He cares FOR YOU! No, no, no, scratch that, He is so deeply, scandalously, uncomfortably, (bordering on creeper) IN LOVE WITH YOU! And while His birth, death and resurrection are an incredible expression of His love for you, the very life He lived EVERYDAY for 33 years is just as an important expression of His love. He did the details for 33 years. For 33 years, He embraced the nastiness of this dirty planet, He adopted a totally confining human body for 33 years, so that everyday you could wake up and marvel in the detail of His indescribable love for you.  It wasn't enough to just create us with amazing detail, it wasn't enough to describe to us His unchanging love for us through the very detailed stories of the Old Testament, but He became "created" and bore the very flesh of mankind, so that no detail of our experiences could escape His ability to know us, empathize with us, and love us with a crazy love.

I don't know if your hurt needs healing today.
I don't know if you are the walking wounded amongst a group of misfits, (like me).
I don't know if you feel unloved, unworthy, under valued, and alone....
But please take this really important detail to heart, YOU ARE NOT ALONE!
You are the very apple of His eye.
The very detail He is running after!

I mean, come on?!! That makes for a fantastic start to a Friday!!


Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Why You Should Quit Parenting!

For the majority of her life, she has been completely complete watching her siblings bathe in the lime light. She has watched Katie perform in dance after dance, play after play, skit after skit. She's watched Lucy melt an entire auditorium like putty in her hands, and Anderson's birth order and stand alone maleness, always catches somebody's eye. She has cheered each of them on, sat on the edge of her sit shaking on their behalf, and jumping to her feet in applause for them. Julia has always preferred the behind the scenes work.

Last fall, Julia's second grade teacher assigned the entire class to give a memorized oral book report, to be given in front of an audience in the school auditorium. Horrified, doesn't begin to express how she was feeling, "Why?! Why?! Why?! Would a teacher make me do such a thing? This is not fair!" After weeks of her teachers patiently working with each child in the class, and her rehearsing every night with me and Mark on articulating her thoughts, the big day arrived and she.... FREAKED OUT! I pulled out every bribe in the parent handbook. Candy? SURE! Ice Cream? Uh, YEAH! No chores? ABSOLUTELY! Just get through the presentation.  We knew she was definitely ready, but we had not convinced her of that yet.

That day, for the first time in her life (with a few dance performances as the exception) SHE was being watched by our entire family. Her little hands were shaking and she had to intentionally get control of her rattling voice, but once she settled down the most amazing thing took place, her confidence began to override the nerves and she blossomed. She smiled that million dollar smile and right then and there, I melted.

A few short months later, she announced she was trying out for the school talent show, her talent? Singing. "Well, okay. Here we go!"  She rehearsed, she rehearsed and she rehearsed some more, and then the big day arrived and she FREAKED OUT! Back to the bribe book, "No, you never have to do the talent show again, but because you have made a commitment to sing tonight, you will follow through on your commitment. We want you to be a woman of your word! Other people have worked extremely hard to make tonight happen and we will honor their hard work by showing up and following through!"

She showed up, she sang, and YEP.... I melted.

For the last eleven years, I count it my greatest job to find my children. While I instinctively love them with every fiber in my body, it has taken focused time and effort to KNOW them.  It is one of the main reasons I love homeschooling. It has given me an opportunity to figure how each of my children learn. It is a focused time of collecting data on their souls. Katie is an auditory learner, Julia is a kinesthetic learner, Lucy is a visual learner, and Anderson is an aural learner. Utterly fascinating and COMPLETELY helpful when they start brick and mortar school.

I feel like when I am available to learn about the different idiosyncrasies planted in each of my children, I am in a better place to love them and know them.

This last year in particular, I have struggled with the absolute pit of a room Julia lives in. It blows my mind how "undone" and jiblet infested it can become in a matter of minutes. And it appears as if she doesn't even see the mess, but only sees all the "creations". I literally had to call on all the "creatives" in my life as a support group. "Please explain to me what her brain is doing and seeing a midst this tornado!" While none of them "excused" her mess, they helped me understand what her brain was doing. It was extremely helpful and therapeutic to realize one day she WOULD in fact keep a
clean-ish space, but to keep channeling that creative mind. Julia sees projects, creations, and art every where she goes. For instance, we semi-camped out over Labor Day, and Julia threw a plastic cup into the fire (cover your ears EPA spies-lalalalalala) as she saw it melting she hollered for Mark to pull it out of the fire. They pulled it out, ran it under cold water and VOILA! A new, red, solo cup creation!

Julia struggles with phonics and spelling (just like her Mama)... So this week in preparation of the spelling test, we are painting our words. We tried going over them verbally (which I should have known was a mistake, and we bombed the last test) So, we are approaching it differently.

Yesterday, feeling very saintly, I cleaned up Julia's room and stood in awe of all the amazing creations her little room was exploding with. Old ornaments made into necklaces, name tags made with ripped up old material, glue and cookie sprinkles. Shorts that were decorated with blue ties in support of her panthers, white piece of paper after white piece of paper covered in crayon, marker, and paint. Instead of huffing and puffing like I have in the past, I just tried to soak in her art and appreciate her gifting. I am not bent towards "crafting" I'd rather write a 12 page paper about crafting than actually craft :)

Julia likes to craft and create!

Katie is going to run the world.
Julia is going to decorate the world.
Lucy is going to entertain the world.
Anderson is going to conquer the world.

Saturday night, I was tucking Bean (Julia) into bed when she announced, "Oh yeah Mom, tomorrow at church, I'm going to get up during the service and be interviewed about Pioneer Girls!" My insides dropped, envisioning the scene to take place the next morning, Sunday morning OF ALL MORNINGS! I thought about what I had packed away that I could potentially bribe her with to get her up on the stage. "Ok, love, you'll totally rock it!"

Sunday morning came and she didn't make a peep about the impending event. I was praying she was having short term memory loss :) We sat down and the service began. A few minutes later it was her turn. She jumped up, walked straight down the church aisle without hesitation, answered each question with articulate, clear and confident answers (and lots of "yes ma'ams".... phew not voted off the island yet :) and smiled that million dollar smile for all to see. Not a single melt down involved.

In the middle of the interview, I glanced down the pew.  Katie, Lucy and Anderson were sitting on the edge of the pew, every ounce of them engaged with what Julia was saying, smiling nervous smiles bigger than I've ever seen them smile, and they jumped all over Julia with applause at the end of the service (five minutes later in the church parking lot they were fighting again. REAL.LIFE! :)

Julia was far from working behind the scenes on Sunday.

My eyes got all teary as I thought about all the blossoming our Jules has done over this last year. There is NO DOUBT in my mind that her confidence, and her ability to articulate her thoughts, have come from the unending encouragement and example her teacher instilled in her this last school year. We are so grateful!!

Parenting is hardest, most long suffering, most everyday, most dig-deep and grunt out the details kind of work. Yesterday, I retired. Today, I reenlisted for this CRAZINESS.  Getting to be apart of the dailiness in my children's lives will fill the museum of my mind and heart for remainder of my days. It's not easy AT ALL, it's not always fun and rosy (especially as we transition into hormone invested waters) but I just weep when I think about my babies. Their specific gifting, their bents, their strengths, their weaknesses, their learning styles, and how God saw fit for Mark and I to be able to taste them, research them, love them, guide them, and ultimately KNOW THEM for a life time!

Don't give up parents!
Don't quit!
We only get to raise them ONCE!
We only get to absorb them for a short amount of time before the dailiness is over.
Whether you have a world runner, world decorator, world entertaining, or world conqueror, press in to your children. Lean into them and uncover the amazing treasures that lie within.
It's so unbelievably worth it!

Friday, September 5, 2014

Dear French Camp, Revisited.....

One of the most profound quotes on my life is a quote by Jim Elliott, "Wherever you are, be all there! Live to the hilt every situation you believe to be the will of God."

Hmmm..hmmm..hmmm. DELICIOUS!

Because we have been given the sweet opportunity to live in 7 different communities in the last 13 years, this quote should have been my theme song, and yes, you guessed it, should be tattooed to my body! :)

When you are thousands of miles away from your "home" there is a temptation to despair in the "what ifs, and if onlys." "If only we were home for the holidays. If only we could just hop in the car and drive to dad's. If only we were back in THAT church. If only THIS school did it like THAT school. If only our friends were like THOSE friends. What if we lived closer to home? What if we lived closer to so-and-so?" Joining yourself to a new community is by far one of the hardest relationship minefields we are called to.

It took several swings and misses, but I feel like I am finally beginning to understand how to intertwine myself into a new place. My secret; BE ALL THERE!! Jump! Both feet in! Don't hesitate! The longer you stand on the sidelines and watch, the longer your heart is able to breed discontentment and isolation. And I believe whole hardheartedly, that isolation is the gateway to bitterness, depression, and deep, deep struggle. When we think we are all alone waging war on the lies that seek to fill our hearts, it is nearly impossible to mute those lies without an army of people feeding us truth.

Bottom line; FIND YOUR PEOPLE!! I don't care if you are deployed for 6 months, or moving some where for 60 years, FIND YOUR PEOPLE. Join that Mama's Morning Out, attend that community wide BBQ, hit up the local city-wide pub crawl, visit that new church, conquer that WOD at that awesome cross fit gym. Take a chance and go to that life group you've been invited too. Or even better.... MEET YOUR NEIGHBORS! (Good news for me, all my neighbors have had background checks and fingerprints taken. I think they are safe enough. Except those ladies across the street... sketchy :)

The only thing eternal that is coming with us from this life to the next, is RELATIONSHIPS! Not that beautiful home, not those mad soccer skills, not that bank account, not that chiseled body, not that gorgeous new sanctuary, not that seminary degree, not that congregation, not that PHD, not that business...NONE.OF.IT.


This last year, Mark and I have desired to be all here in French Camp. I'm not going to lie, it's not been as easy as I anticipated. But it has been far, far, richer than I could have ever dreamed!

When our family and friends "sent us off" to Mississippi, they repeatedly prayed for us and over us, that the Lord would use us WHEREVER we were planted. My dad wrote this in his goodbye letter, "Believe it or not, I am relieved that God is calling you to Mississippi and not to Madagascar at this time in your lives. This book (Unfinished) is a great reminder of what all of us are to be about doing wherever God sends us. You guys are a great "kingdom family" so go with my blessing and "let your light shine for all the world to see!" I love you, Dad

Side note: write your children letters! They will carry them with them for the rest of their lives.


My dad lives out the beautiful and powerful "light" of being in constant relationship. I promise, five minutes in the man's presence and he will instantly become "YOUR PEOPLE"..

This community of French Camp, has captured our hearts and y'all have become "OUR PEOPLE"
Our hearts are FOR the people of this community!

I spent this last school year on the PTO of FCE and let me tell you, these people and their stories are becoming our people and our stories.

We've talked before about how French Camp can be a complicated beast of a place. The peanut butter and jelly of this town often intersects in beautifully-messy and strategically-stretching ways. But for real, I feel like I am drinking in gallons of hope.

Let me tell you about a little brick building that is about to burst forth and let its' light shine. Let me tell you about a camp of the french, that while seemingly is Mayberry-esque from the outside, has scars, wounds and needs just like every other town in this world. Let me tell you about a conversation where pew- warming is transformed into people-pouring. Let me tell you what God is doing in this town!

Bricks is her name,
Relationships are her game.
A safe place is her goal,
Community involvement is the pull.

The Bricks Family, would LOVE to come in person and tell you ALL about what is bubbling beneath the surface of our growing smiles of excitement. Churches, sewing circles, lunch-ins, hunting clubs, government officials, schools, community organizations, other ministries, local businesses, and every person in this town; we want to tell you our story!

First, go explore our website.(bricksfc.org)
Second, go "like" Bricks on FB.
Third, schedule a time for us to come and tell this DELICIOUS story of hope!

I've been chewing on this passage a lot as my heart is processing what God is doing here in our community:

"We will replace the broken bricks of ruin with smooth stones" Isaiah 9:10

Our God is ALWAYS at work. Our God is always pursuing a people to call His own. Our God is in the business of redeeming broken lives, repaving painful roads, refining a people for Himself and replacing ruin with real hope.

Wait are you waiting for?
Call a sista and schedule a meeting!
Share this link!
Like our page!
Tell your friends at Leonards!

(For the Bricks Family)