Posted in Uncategorized

A Moment of Silence (Memorial Day Post)

size0

Today, Memorial Day,  we remember and honor those who have lost their lives protecting and defending our country and our freedom.

Let’s honor them with a moment of silence.

During our time of silent prayer and contemplation in their honor, let’s think about those they held dear, those mourning them, the ones they gave their lives protecting. And let’s think about how we can honor the memory of the fallen by loving on those they loved most, those their heart ached to go home to, those who ached to see them come home.

If you know anyone who has lost a loved one in the service of our country, consider how you might reach out to them and make them feel loved in the coming days and weeks.  Anything from an open acknowledgment of their loss today to a quick text next week just checking in on their life and telling them you’re glad to have them in your life.

Mark your calendars or set reminders in your phone for a few dates in the future to do the same, to send rays of sunshine at times when they least expect it.  Lift their spirits and help them feel some love.

If you’re reading this and you lost someone close to you in the service of our country, thank you.  Your loss is beyond comprehension.  The bravery of your loved one, your friend, the one you served alongside, it is breathtaking.  You are in my thoughts and my prayers today. I’m going to hug my babies, kiss my husband, walk in safety and freedom, and know that every bit of it is made possible by the hard work and sacrifice of your loved one- and yours as well.

God bless you.

 

 

 

Posted in Uncategorized

“You’re trying, and it matters,” -God

Today, I loaded my kids in the car and we went for a walk at a nearby nature park.

That doesn’t sound like a particularly momentous thing for a mom with two littles to do, but for this particular mom on this particular day, it required A LOT OF sucking it up and putting on of the proverbial big girl britches.

It has been a rough few weeks over here for various reasons, lots of growing pains for all of us combined with a cold virus that has packed a powerful punch of fatigue.  I didn’t feel like doing anything but throwing a movie on for the kids and laying on the couch wallowing, but we had already done that EVERY OTHER DAY THIS WEEK, so it felt like a change of pace was the grown-up thing to do.  And we all know that being a grown-up is severely overrated at times.

When we got there, the kids took off running. They got sick before I did and so of course are feeling better before I am with all of the energy and enthusiasm that I lack, bless all of our hearts.

First, they started noticing that someone had put brightly-painted rocks along the path and the kids were SO EXCITED ABOUT finding all of them.

 

Then we stumbled on a path we hadn’t taken before and Cam declared that we would be embarking on “The Mystewy of the Mystewious Path!” (be sure to read that in your most spooky voice to get the full effect)

I mean, there I was surrounded by the bright beauty of a brand new spring with happy, excited kids who were being delightful and hilarious and my heart just would. Not. Lift. I didn’t feel good in either body or spirit and I couldn’t get myself to the place I felt like I should be, to the place that I felt like would have been honoring to God in light of the blessings of that moment.

I decided that as long as I was there with nothing else to do, I might as well pray. I couldn’t muster much, so I went simple and lifted a few short prayers for those around me who are DEFINITELY in the middle of some very heavy seasons that make mine look like a day at the beach: My friend with the daughter who’s having seizures, the friend with breast cancer, another friend who just lost a cousin to an overdose, my friends in the throes of divorce, someone near to me with an upcoming surgery.

It felt like a dismal, paltry offering and I was almost ready to throw in the towel when of a sudden, God spoke into my mess with words of glittering, glowing grace:

“You’re trying,” He told me.  “And it matters.”

FullSizeRender 7.jpg

That was a counterintuitive message for me in that moment. When the going gets tough, when the path is dark and difficult and our footsteps stumble, we are quick to chide ourselves, to deepen our despair with a recounting of our failures. Not to mention that the enemy of our souls loves to capitalize on the moments when we are down, whispering that we aren’t enough, that our prayers aren’t enough, so why even try?

But that isn’t God’s way.  He just happens to be the best parent that this world and the next have ever seen and He sees our circumstances and struggles for what they are and loves us right through them.

Kind of like Mister Cameron learning to ride a bike without training wheels.   We see it, we know how hard it is, and when his attempts fail and the tears start, his Daddy whispers to him, “It’s hard, buddy. But you’re trying and that’s what matters.”

Miss Kendall is probably 3/4 of the way potty trained now, but the first few days were rough. She would have accidents and break down in tears, but I would help her change, clean up the mess and say, “Accidents happen, honey.  Learning to use the potty is hard, but you’re trying and that’s what matters.”

There are also moments when we say to our kids, “I know you can do better than this,” moments where we don’t back down from expecting their best because it’s our job to push them to step up and grow.  But, if we are on our parenting game, those are NOT the moments when they are tired, not feeling good, having a rough day, or facing a task that is really difficult for them.

And my sisters, God is ALWAYS on His parenting game. He can read our hearts even better than we can because He knit them together in our mother’s wombs and He has numbered our steps.  He has also walked on this earth and lived among us humans in the person of Jesus. He gets it, He knows, and His vision isn’t clouded, even when ours is.

In those tough moments, when the best we can muster is going through the motions and saying the words even if our hearts don’t seem to follow, He will meet us where we are. He sees us trying and CHOOSING HIM, even if we aren’t that great at it in the moment, and it MATTERS.

So be brave, my sisters, and try. Whatever you’re facing, whatever your battle or dark season looks like, choose to do the right thing, put one foot in front of the other, and approach Him with whatever strength you’ve got.

Because He looks on us with eyes of a Father, can reach down and meet us in our struggles and fog, and can Himself fill in that gap between earth and heaven.

Your trying matters, Mama.  So keep it up.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in Uncategorized

I Am Not a Morning Person, Bless My Heart

IMG_9788Me– So my blog post this week is about me NOT being a morning person.
Husband– BAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA

Me– Why? Why is this Funny?
Husband– HEE HEE HEE HEEEEEEE!
Me– JEFFREY!  WHY? WHY IS THIS FUNNY?!?!?
Husband– Because you are SO not a morning person!
Me– JEFFREY! DUH!  This is why I’m writing a blog post about me NOT being a morning person. I couldn’t very well write a post about BEING a morning person, why is it funny?
Husband– *still laughing* Honey, that’s like writing a blog post about water being wet.
Me– I’ll bet people have blogged about that!  And published articles in scientific journals about the wetness of water. It’s in textbooks.  IT’S NOT FUNNY!
Husband– BAHAHAHAHAHAHAHHAAHHAAHAHAAH!!!
Me– *glares*  And just for that, I’ll be retelling this at the start of my blog post.

And now that I have made good on my threat, please enjoy the following blog post about me not being a morning person:

Picture it…my room…some random weekday morning at some ungodly hour (aka some time before 8am):

giphy

I am plucked forcibly and against my will from some blissful dream or another by the insistent shout of my two-year-old daughter echoing from down the hall.  “MAAAAAAAAAAAAHMEEEEEEEE!  MOMMAAAAAAAAAAAY!”

She is awake in her crib and ready for me to present myself, bright eyed, bushy tailed and at her disposal for the next eleventy billion hours that stand between now and nap time. I also hear a clattering and humming coming from my four-year-old son’s room, letting me know that I’m the only person in the house who isn’t up and at ’em.  Their father has been gone for hours, he gets up at 5:30 for a first-thing date with the gym.

I groggily reach over and grab my phone.  7:02 am. Seriously? That late already?  Because it sure feels like it should still be dark outside. UUUUUUUGH!

In a moment of self-indulgent denial, I open Instagram, promising myself I will extricate myself from bed when I’m done catching up with what the rest of the world was up to while I was sleeping.

I immediately regret this choice.

Apparently all of the Moms of Instagram have been up for hours, their coffee steaming from hand-lettered coffee mugs, reading their devotionals by the light of the sun’s first rays, blessing us with a Clarendon-filtered glimpse into these  treasured first moments of the day with Jesus.  #blessed #earlyriser #startingthedayright Meanwhile, I was over here knocking out one of the seven deadly sins before I even got out of bed. #sloth #fivemoreminutesmom #ohwaitiamthemom

“MOMMAAAAAAAAY!  I HUNGREEEEEEEEEEE!  I HAVE A TINKY BOTTAAAAAAAAAAAAM!”  My daughter shouts again.

So, I drag myself from bed, stagger down the hall and begin our day. I always feel three steps behind when we start our days this way (which is always), but so far that hasn’t been enough of a motivator to get me to change anything. I’ve been able to somewhat mold myself into the sleep patterns of a functional adult, but the fact remains that getting up before 8am is not my jam.

Oddly, I happen to love the early morning hours and and I desperately admire those who have the body clocks and/or self-discipline to own them. I love the way the first light of the day makes the world look, the smell and feel of the cool, dew-drenched air, the world even SOUNDS different first thing in the morning, it’s like I can hear everything just that more clearly.  And yet none of that ever seems to matter in the face of the warmth and coziness of my bed and the irresistible pull of five…more…minutes.

giphy (1)

Motherhood has made me even LESS of a morning person.  Life with little kids means that in every moment of my day I am subject to the whims of tiny humans who rely on me for every little thing- I’m basically on duty for 12-14 hours a day with people who haven’t yet learned about grace, boundaries, or common courtesy, and whose learning process for those things involves testing, pushing, and battling in the trenches with their “safe person,” who also happens to be me.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m grateful for the privilege, both of having kids in the first place and of being home with them all the time.  This is exactly what I wanted, it’s fleeting, and I’m trying hard not to miss a moment or take it for granted. But that doesn’t mean it’s easy and some days I’m not super anxious to wake up and get to it.

Not only is getting up in the morning to start a day of being “on duty” not the most appealing prospect, going to bed at night and ending the brief stretch of “after work hours” isn’t super enticing either.  Those hours after they are asleep are precious.  It’s the only time I *truly* get to spend both by myself and with my husband.  I am LOATHE to give those hours up to sleep each night.  I do it, and usually at a decent hour, because #adulting. But it’s never unbegrudgingly.  (is that a word?)

giphy (2)

And yet still, the pull of the morning hours is there for me.  I *want* to be one of those people who breathe in the quiet of the first hours each day.  I would love to join the Instagram moms who are up at the crack of dawn, sipping warm beverages and getting our hearts right with God before the day begins.  I don’t want my morning sloth to be chuckle-inducing for my husband, I feel like I *should* be up and making the coffee while HE slumbers. But I also know that God does not deal in shame and comparison.  His voice may be calling me to claim the mornings as my own, but He wouldn’t do it in whispers of how the other moms’ mornings “measure up” and mine don’t.  This is about Him and me, an A and B conversation, and the Insta-moms can just “C” their way out.

And fortunately, God is patient with me.  He sees, He knows, and He is walking with me right through everything.  So, what is the point of this blog post? Well, I don’t rightly know, other than just to throw out there that if you are not a morning person, you are not alone. And if you feel a certain modicum of shame attached to your penchant for eeking out even the last second of sleep in the morning, you are also not alone. Oh, and also to say that I’m planning to start getting up at six every morning here very soon. I had planned to this morning, but then my daughter woke up at 5:45 and that was before 6 and so she went back to sleep and so did I and then BOTH of my kids slept until 7:45- HALLELUJAH!!!

But I will…tomorrow…I promise 🙂

 

Posted in Uncategorized

OLYMPICS! And Why I LOVE Gold Medalist Michelle Carter

You guys, I love the Olympics. Like, LOVE!  I always do, every single time, and the magic is not wearing off at all as time marches on.   The Olympics are basically  16 days of Disneyland at my own house every two years. The 1988 Calgary and Seoul games are the first that I really remember actively watching, and almost 30 years later I am even more in love with the whole thing as I was back then.   Winter, Summer, I don’t care.  I love and am here for exactly all of it.

The multitude of NBC channels and the on demand availability is allowing me to pretty much completely immerse myself in the Olympics- inasmuch as my two- and four-year-olds will allow. I mean, I have to pay *SOME* attention to them as well.  But I’m trying to watch at least a little bit of every single sport and make sure my kids do as well- and also that they see both men and women competing in all  of the events in which both men and women compete.   Basically, picture me sitting in a giant hot tub of Olympics with just my face showing, water bubbling around my ears, and trying my best to keep my kids in the tub with while they’re desperately climbing out at the edges trying to head for the Paw Patrol Pool (PS I know hot tubs aren’t safe for kids, reality is not relevant to this metaphor).  I would also like to send a big shout out to the stomach virus that has had me somewhat laid up for the past few days for giving me the chance to parent less and watch more. I’m not sure it was an even trade-off, though…just looking on the bright side.

One of the people I have “met” this past Olympic week is shot putter Michelle Carter.

IMG_9420

She is the first American Woman to win shot put gold. Near as I have seen, Michelle Carter has two main jobs: Professional Makeup Artist and shot putter. That’s right, she makes her living making herself and other people look beautiful and also throwing heavy objects better than any other woman in the entire world.  You can find out more on her website, I personally want to hire her to do #allthethings.

I also want to take a sec to honor the fact that she is a strong, successful, radiant black woman who is breaking ground and shining bright in a season where things have seemed particularly dim for people of color in our country AND she is showing that women can be beautiful and strong at any size.  Also, she posts stuff like this on her Instagram:

 

IMG_9393

 

But the reason she is so near and dear to my heart is because I see reflected in her so much of my sweet Miss Kenzie.  Yesterday, watching track and field had Ms. K running around the house at top two-year-old speed. “I WUNNING! FAST!” She declared.  “Are you Tori Bowie, sweetie?” I asked, “Are you Brianne Theisen-Eaton?”  “NOOOOO!” She indignantly declared, “I PWINCESS SOFIA!”  and took off running like a shot.  I cackled out loud, but then I stepped back for a minute and realized that to this child, there is nothing  mutually exclusive about being a “pwincess” and running fast. To us adults who have spent the past several decades being conditioned to certain ways of thought there might be, but not to my fast and fancy Princess Sprintsalot.

On her birthday weekend, we attended her Uncle Kyle’s birthday party on Saturday where she ran in the dirt with her brother and her her cousin, climbed all over the todder-sized construction machines, and needed about five showers when she got home. The next day, she couldn’t WAIT to wear her pink dress for her own party and lost her ever-loving mind over the new clothes from Grandma and Grandpa (which Grandpa had picked out, by the way, SO CUTE!) and the dress-up trunk from Nana and Granddad.  She saw exactly zero conflict of interest there.

That space that she’s living in right now, a place where she can be both strong and fancy, dirt-covered and beautiful, a princess and a superhero at the same time- and guess what? When you think about it, that space is TRUTH, y’all. All of these boxes we try to put women in, the one-or-the-other mentalities, the need to make sure that women aren’t too complex or confusingly muti-faceted, that is something that happens along the way. God did not say unto us, “And I shall make thee, women, into two kingdoms,  the Pretty and Fancy and the Strong and Capable.”  Nope, He made men AND women in His own image, women are His image-bearers and that means that we can represent any and all of the things in His nature that He calls us to and to Him, none of them are mutually exclusive.

That is where Michelle Carter lives in her life and she occupied it on the grandest stage this week. Engaging beast-mode in a way that would probably make Marshawn Lynch himself have a seat in deference, while wearing a fierce red lip and some perfectly crafted lashes. Head to her website to hire her to throw shot put and do your make-up. She is the strong and the fancy, the beautiful and the beast-mode. She’s showing my daughter that yes, she CAN BE and ALREADY IS everything that her little two-year-old mind believes that she was created to be.  I mean, if she JUST wants to be the president of the fashion club or decides that she’s all about being a construction worker and make-up is like, eew, then that’s just fine. She gets to discover for herself what God put in her and I’ll be over here cheering her on.  But women like Michelle Carter, women who are strongly living into all of who they were created to be, they show Kenzie that she can also be ALL of who she was created to be, all at the same time, in the same space, and she can SHINE.

THIS may just be why I love the Olympics so goshdarned much. I get to “meet” people like Michelle Carter who remind me of some of the many things that still right in the world and are even, dare I say it, getting better.  And didn’t we need this right now?  Didn’t we need some RIGHT and GOOD to come together around? I know I did. I feel reminded that the world is still an amazing place with goodness still awaiting my son and daughter as they grow.  Thank you, Lord, for the Olympics.  And there’s still a week left!!!!

OK, I gotta go. I’m missing synchronized swimming and pommel horse! And there’s handball later. I’m not even sure I knew that was a thin…

Posted in Uncategorized

My Noonday Journey: One Year In

Happy Nooniversary to me, y’all! WOOT WOOT!!!! I’m publishing on Tuesday instead of Monday this week because TODAY MARKS ONE YEAR SINCE I SIGNED UP TO BE A NOONDAY COLLECTION AMBASSADOR!   I think. I’m not sure.  But August 9 sticks out in my head and so that’s what I’m going with.

One year ago, I responded to a nudge from God that I did NOT see coming. I wasn’t looking for something to sign up for, I didn’t identify as a “jewelry person,” I didn’t host or even attend “jewelry parties,” and yet here came God, whispering into my heart.  Then speaking. Then shouting.  And I knew better than to ignore Him.

ALMOST NOTHING about the Ambassador Opportunity felt like it played to my strengths. It didn’t make a single bit of sense to me that I, a teacher-turned-SAHM who was feeling more frumpy than ever, would be called to this. I thought I knew who I was, what I did, and what things were “for me.” This wasn’t something that looked to me like it belonged in the story of my life. But God told me in a rather indignant tone that reminded me slightly of my grandmother that FOR PITY’S SAKE this wasn’t about *ME* and what *I* thought I could or should do.  So bless my heart, I went from, “Oh, isn’t that nice what they’re doing over there at Noonday” to clicking “choose your starter kit” in, like, a week.  Here’s the story of how that all went down if you haven’t read it.

It’s pretty amazing to look back on that post now because those early weeks turned out to be a pretty accurate reflection of what this whole year has been like. It has been a year of struggling and working hard, but it has also been a year of chains breaking and the glass box I had built around my life shattering. I’ve had to work HARD at this Ambassador thing, but it has also shown me that I can do hard things. To be honest, this was probably the first brave and “out of the box” thing I had ever REALLY done in my life. I had done things that were perhaps bigger and more challenging:  college, masters degree, moving out of state for a job, buying my own house and car as a single woman, summer jobs in other locations, getting married, having a family, leaving my career of ten years (and my income!) to stay home with my babies…those are all BIG things, but all of them made sense and fit with what I thought The Plan was for my life. To step into something that I felt God calling me to that didn’t fit with what my perception of The Plan was- that is what makes this the bravest thing I’ve ever done.

Noonday has disrupted my expectations for my life and put a definite crack in the glass box that I had put around God and me and my assumptions about who I thought He had made me to be and what He had planned for me.  I’m still struggling with this Noonday thing, a year later, I still feel like a first year teacher at it.  I still feel like the bottom could drop out, people could stop booking shows and buying the stuff, and this could be a spectacular failure.  But there is so much bravery in DOING IT ANYWAY, and that isn’t something I understood before. To me, bravery was folly. If it didn’t make sense, if it didn’t seem like something I should do, then to do it would be irresponsible and I mustn’t.  I don’t think I realized until this year what a perfectionist I was with regard to my life choices and how while I thought I was honoring God with my prudency, I was really limiting His power to work in my life by putting my own limits and expectations of what *I* thought was acceptable.

So while I still feel like I’m vigorously treading water business-wise, I’m on a whole new level in terms of self-confidence and believing that I can spread my wings and run after God into bigger things than I could ever ask or imagine.  Because of Noonday, I am starting to believe that I can do big, hard, important things that a year ago I would have thought were for others, not for me.  I’ve started this blog, I’ve applied to be a blog contributor for a mommy blog AND WAS ACCEPTED, I’ve tried stepping more into leading worship at my church- I’m open to all kinds of things that are outside of the box I built for myself, because I have realized that God doesn’t do boxes, at least not mine. He may have a box, but it looks way different and better than anything I could have asked or imagined.

So bring on year 2! And I as I march forward, I have taken on a new challenge: I am going to try to qualify for a trip next summer to meet some of Noonday’s artisan partners, men and woman who have also believed that they can do big and brave things and whose bravery and trust is going out in ripples of goodness in their communities- and in lives around the world like mine!  I have to sell almost as much as I ahve sold this entire first year in order to do it and right now, my business doesn’t have the capacity to do that. My sales pattern will have to change hugely and I’m not sure how to do that, I’ve already been giving it all I’ve got.

But I believe now that I can do big, brave, out of reach things and that even if I fail, I will be better for having tried. So here goes!  Bring on year, 2! Let’s do this, God. I’m following You to have absolutely no idea where. It’s Your show, God.  Equip me to be ready!

 

Posted in Uncategorized

Meet the Raskals, 7 Years In

YOU GUYS! GUESSWHATGUESSWHATGUESSWHAT!?!?!?!?

It’s our 7 YEAR  WEDDING ANNIVERSARY

(Woot Woooooooooot!!!)

And since I’ve been blogging here for almost a year (OK, on and off for almost a year) and haven’t really formally introduced Jeff and the kids to you, it seems like today is the perfect day to give an introduction- and also use it as a bit of a tribute to this dude I’m married to, the life we are building, and the God who has just so totally heaped the blessings on me and on us with so much boundless love and unearned grace that I swear it oozes out the doors and windows of our house sometimes.  So here goes:

13912802_10208923448822000_6029081899118018346_nJeff and I were married on August 1, 2009.  I was 31 and he was 29.   I had spent my 20’s I was waiting and wishing and hoping and praying and not really getting past a second date- nobody came even close to seeming right. There was one point at about 29 when I actually turned my heart over to the idea that maybe marriage and a family weren’t for me, maybe my charge was to go forward and love on the children of the world as if they were my own.  But late in the summer of 2007, I turned my heart back over to God and said, “I want this and I will wait for it.”  About six weeks later, I met Jeffrey Daniel Rask.  Y’all, this life with him is so much more than ever could have prayed for. HE is so much more than I ever could have even known to pray for. Let me tell you about us.

13507279_10154348532759673_140794297886628927_n

Jeff works in footwear development at a rather large footwear and sportswear company that is located here where we live in Beaverton.  I’m not gonna name any names, but if you want to “Just Do It,” I’ll bet you can figure it out yourself.  He loves ALLTHESPORTS, in particular basketball and golf, although he watches and keeps track of LITERALLY ALLTHESPORTS.  This is especially apparent during the Olympics when he actually knows the names of the curlers, the archers, the ping pong dudes- I haven’t met a sport yet that he doesn’t know something about.

He also greatly enjoys all forms of science nerdery and we both have rather large pockets of geeky fandom:  Star Wars, Star Trek, Harry Potter, Doctor Who, Superheroes, and of course the sacred and holy volumes penned by JRR Tolkien, may we sing praises to his name.  The man has also done about 90% of the work we have done remodeling our house.  He can do pretty much anything, I think.

You know the song, “Crash my Party” by Luke Bryan? Every time I hear that song I get misty and think of Jeff.  That’s how he is about me, about the kids, about anyone he loves- it is a drop everything kind of thing when anyone he cares about needs something- especially me.

There is truly nothing more I could ask for from this guy and it still takes my breath away. We laugh, we love, we laugh some more, we dream, we bing-watch on Netflix, we laugh some more, we have so many things we enjoy doing together, we wrestle with the big questions of both this world and the next together, we know each other’s hearts and what to bring home to make the other one smile (hint: his is steak and beer, mine is ALLTHECHOCOLATE and tea)- it’s good, y’all. God is good and this dude is good.  And then there’s the babies…

.

Mister Cameron was born on March 12, 2012.

He made us parents.
429738_10150759684274673_273663428_n

This little dude was the dream come true of both of our hearts.  When he was born, the doctor placed him on my chest and there he lay, his eyes wide and curious, leaning up against me and just taking in the world around him.  As soon as he could use his hands, he has had a compulsive need to to touch ALLTHETHINGS and learn every single thing about what they can do- both what they are supposed to do and what unintended purposes he can find for them  This means that constant vigilance (and sometimes physical restraint) is required in stores, museums, and the dentist’s office, but it also means that I haven’t had to operate any electronics for him in months, he has them all figured out. His strength and determination have meant that parenting him is the biggest challenge I’ve ever faced, you’ll read plenty about that in this here blog. But it also means that when I send him out into the world, I can trust in his strength of conviction and inherent sense of justice to protect both himself and others.

What REALLY sets Cam apart from the pack, though, is his heart. It is deep and tender, he loves HARD and FULLY and that heart of his is wrapped TIGHT around those he loves and it won’t let go.  He loves his family and aaaaaaall babies. He just loves to gaze adoringly at them and stroke their heads. This has especially applied to his sister. Oh, how he loves her. He also chases her around the house and basically bugs her for fun.  But if she doesn’t feel good or if she’s scared or if the blessed event occurs that she would deign to ask him to rock and read to her, he will come running at full speed, all thoughts of himself completely cast aside. God gave this little man the vision, the strength, and the heart to tenderly but firmly lead those who need him in future years.  In the meantime, our job is to help him learn to harness his powers for good- and also to steal all the snuggles he still so readily gives at ever chance we get!

IMG_8813

Miss Kendall was born on July 20, 2014.

She made us a family.

_MG_0082

This little lady is the light and the life that we didn’t even know was missing.  We hadn’t yet completely decided whether or not a second kid was even the right choice for us when we found out she was coming, yet the minute she was born it was like there had been this Kenzie-shaped hole in our lives that was finally filled.  She came into the world voicing her opinion and has not stopped.  She figured out early that language was how she could let the world know about her thoughts, feelings, needs, and ideas and she has run relentlessly in the direction of mastering it ever since.  At her two year checkup, her doctor told us that he COULD see her again at 30 months for another checkup, but that is usually just to check on language and so we could skip that appointment if we wanted to, he’d seen all he needed to see there.

As challenging as it is to parent an opinionated and determined two-year-old with ALLTHEWORDS at her disposal, the struggles pale in comparison to the relief Jeff and I feel in knowing we have an inherently strong woman on our hands. In a world where docile, compliant women seem to be magnets for the wrong sorts of people, we are raising daughter who will be a living breathing repellant to anyone who would seek to dominate or control.  She seems to have confidence in how worthy, loved and deserving she is woven into the very depths of her soul- undoubtedly by the God to whom she is every one of those things.  As we raise her, our job is to help her hold fast to those beliefs in a world that will try to take them from her- but also teach her that perhaps we should take down the volume every once in awhile.  Because, #ouchmyearshurt.

IMG_8562

So, that’s us.  Seven years in since we married, almost nine since we met.  Thank you for joining me on this part of our journey as a family.  Time to step away from the computer and go buy some steak and beer (or maybe not…he just had his birthday and we did steak and beer then…so maybe salmon…wait, our grill is broken. Take-out Buffalo Wild Wings it is.)

13419279_10154322794079673_2754039961409365608_n

Posted in Uncategorized

I’m Ready for a Fight

Pardon my French, but I’m pissed off y’all.  I am exactly ALL of the DONE right now.  I am DONE with the violence. I am DONE with my black friends feeling marginalized and like the world needs to be reminded that they matter. I am DONE with law enforcement officers  who have done nothing but protect and serve being gunned down because a somebody thought SOMEONE needed to pay for the sins, whether real or perceived (probably both) of their brethren.  I’m DONE with the assertion everything is just fine in our country, racism doesn’t exist, and if we would all just stop talking about it it would go away.  I am DONE with the notion that all cops are out to get people of color. I am DONE with the belief that support of #blacklivesmatter and support of the THOUSANDS of good, GOOD law enforcement officers across our great nation are mutually exclusive. And most of all, I am DONE with the way this is all tearing us apart, pitting us against  one another, and causing even more division in our nation.  EXACTLY. ALL. OF. THE. DONE.

I am done. I am angry. I am ready for a fight.  It’s a big fight, a HUGE fight, and as with anything big and huge, I am convinced and convicted that I can’t do it without God. I don’t seem to be able to do much of anything of value on my own without Him and this dang sure isn’t any different.  If I’m going to be of any value in this fight, I need to lean into Him and let Him guide me.  As I’ve prayed about it this past week, this is the passage of scripture that has been the most convicting for me:

For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places.

Ephesians 6:2 (NLT)

The conviction that I feel from that passage is the reminder that it’s not PEOPLE I am angry with.  It’s not PEOPLE who are making me feel D-O-N-E right now- and let me tell you, that is hard to believe in light of some of the vitriol I have seen being spewed all over Facebook this week. I am FEELING pretty done with PEOPLE. But Paul reminds me in that passage that PEOPLE are not the problem- the problem is Satan and the forces of evil. See, Satan loves him some anger and fear.  He gets that fear and anger and uses it to twist our hearts and minds into believing untruths. That anger and fear makes us believe bad things about people different from us.  Makes us put up walls and block each other out and push each other away. Makes us racist, classist, sexist, and any other prejudicial beliefs we may hold.   Seeing others as anything less than beloved children of God- that’s the devil’s work, you guys.  It’s not about people, it’s about the enemy of the people’s souls.

And guess what, y’all?  This is a COMMON enemy for all of us.  All of us who are hurt and angry and scared right now, in the end we have a COMMON enemy.  What if we united against that common enemy? What power do you think that would have if we all joined hands and joined forces to fight back the powers of darkness and hate, to thwart the schemes of the enemy?  If we recognized the fear in our hearts for what it is and committed to taking it on and ridding ourselves and this world of it. Believers and nonbelievers alike- what if it was fear and hate that we waged war against, not each other?

“Nothing unites people like a common enemy.”

-Anonymous (aka a Google search gave no definitive source for this quote, if you happen to know who the original author is, please enlighten me)

I am convinced that that is the only way *I* am going to get anywhere- I can’t speak for all of you, but it is a pretty convincing idea to me.  I need to put down the brick I’m holding (which for me has the words “DON’T YOU SEE HOW RACIST YOU ARE?!?!” written on it in the broad strokes of one of those giant Sharpies), hug the people I was ready to throw them at, and ask them to pray with me.

And we would pray for our hearts to be changed- including and especially my own.  We cannot pray away the specks in the eyes of others with planks in our own eyes. It needs to START with asking God to change our very own hearts and THEN turn His attention to the hearts of the others.  “ME FIRST!” is not generally a very flattering sentiment and as Christians we aren’t called to it very often, but I’d venture that this time we are.  God, change ME first.

For those for whom Jesus is NOT your proverbial homeboy, you are just as important.  Oh, how you are needed. Each and every life matters and every voice matters and just because you don’t claim Jesus does not mean you don’t matter to this. Throw ANYTHING you got at the darkness.  Spread light, however your own unique vision shows you that it’s needed.  You will shake the gates of hell in the way only you can and they won’t shake quite the same without you.

Now don’t get me wrong, there are IN-PERSON BATTLES that need to be fought, in courtrooms, on streetcorners, in our own living rooms, to shine a light on injustice and oppression and MAKE! IT! RIGHT! And there are PEOPLE on the other side of those battles, people who are just as convinced they are right as we are. But what if we remembered, through it all, that it’s not the people on the other side of the battle are not the problem? They are just like us, people dealing with hate and fear in their own ways. What if we reached out to them and hugged them or prayed for them or even SMILED at them? What do you think would happen?

So much would change. Fear would lessen. Defenses would come down- and only good can come from that. What if we took down our defenses and let our actions and our words invite others to do the same?  It would change the climate, move the atmosphere, and winds of change could FINALLY blow through and shape us all.

So that’s it for me. I’m going to stop talking about it and start doing it. And these are my battle anthems.  Because I need music almost as much as I need Jesus: