Monday, December 30, 2013

An Ode to my Husband of Eight Years

Eight years ago today, I married my favorite man on the face of the planet. I'm going to tell you why he's so great.

My man is fun. I've never known a more sophisticated 12-year-old in my entire life. He's quick to go sledding when it has iced, have a nerf gun war with his son and/or brother-in-laws, make a solo debut on Dance Dance Revolution to Katy Perry's "California Girls" in front of a room full of people, and dress like a yoddler in college to appease his girlfriend (now wife) for a sorority date party. I could never have married a man who took himself too seriously.

My man is bold. He is not afraid to take chances. He moved us to a town where we knew 3.5 people out of 100,000 after being married 7 months, was the first prosecutor in the state to take a gang injunction case to trial (and then we got an alarm system), and he ran and won a city government election. He could have failed at all of those and he would have been okay because to him, life is way too short to live in fear and complacency.

My man is loyal. Once a friend, always a friend to him. He won't forget your face (which is always awkward in the grocery story when he goes up and talks to them by name and it's very obvious that the person has no idea who this guy is.) Very, very rarely (like, I can probably name the times on one hand) have I heard him speak an undue cross word about someone. And his integrity is as strong as his loyalty.

My man has foresight. He can see the big picture when I am stressed about the small stuff. He plans for our retirement when I just want to go to Target.

My man loves his babies. He wrestles with them, teaches Grant how to fish, has campouts in the backyard in 35 degree weather, and tells him stories at night about "The Boy Who Shines Like a Star." He reads stories tosses Blair in the air and kisses her with the intent of teaching his 14-month-old daughter that she is loved, beautiful and important. He even picks up all 85 lbs. of lazy Scout when she refuses to get into the back of the car in public. 

My man loves me wrecklessly. He got up this morning with our kids because I have strep throat and felt too sick to get up. He encouraged me to go on vacation to the Dominican Republic this November with a girlfriend because "I needed a break." He still slaps me on the backside when he walks by even if I've been in my pajamas all day long and haven't showered yet. He sat in a shower behind me, fully clothed, as I labored hard for 3 hours with our second born, holding a steady stream of hot water on my lower back. He teared up as he listened to me sing at our Christmas Eve service. He has loyally stood by my side as I have faced unforeseen emotional sink holes in the past few years. He, without a doubt, is my knight-in-shining armor. 

My man loves Jesus big time. He trusts Him. He reads His word. He loves people BIG so they can see that Jesus' love is BIG. He studies the Man He is so he can become more like Him. He teaches our children about His Grace and Mercy. He lives boldly because he knows he is chosen and forever HIS.

Eight years ago tonight, we had our first dance as husband and wife. I thought about dancing to this song but thought, at a wise, ripe age of 22, that it was too boring. NOPE. It is perfectly beautiful describing the love my man and I have. It's nothing fancy but its real. It's nothing fancy but it's all I ever want. It's nothing fancy but it ours.

"Nothing Fancy" by Dave Barnes

There's nothing fancy 'bout the way I love you
There's nothing you could not find in any other man
There's nothing fancy 'bout the way I love you
But I love you as hard as I can.

There's no good reason for the way you love me
But you're my walking dream come true
There's no good reason for the way you love me
But I thank God that you do.

I don't know the perfect conversation
I don't know the way to turn a head
I don't know the perfect way to prove my love
But I know I'll love you 'til I'm dead.

There's nothing fancy 'bout the way I love you
It's as simple as the stars in the sky and the blue in the sea
There's nothing fancy 'bout the way I love you
But it sure is fancy how you love me.

Thursday, June 20, 2013


I'm no theologian, that's for sure. But something has been on my mind so much lately I thought I'd share my thoughts.

I read a fantastic excerpt from a biography on U2s lead man Bono today. Here's the should read it, too.

I love his thoughts on grace vs. karma. I love what appears to be his genuine love for Jesus Christ and who He his character is. And NONE of it struck me as "churchy" at all. His view seems so opposite of what so many people believe Jesus and "the church" is all about. And unfortunately, there's a big chunk of "the church" that paints a really legalistic picture of Jesus and Christianity.

Rules, regulations, do this and don't do that. Go confess. Don't swear. Don't drink. Or feel really guilty if you do. Be in church every Sunday. Have your life together. Get your act together. Wear a smile. Tithe...or else. RESTRICTIONS. CONTROL. A world drowning in religion with no relationship. Totally sounds like something you want to sign up for, doesn't it?

I'm hear to tell ya that my Jesus = FREEDOM. He restores me. He makes me whole.

"The LORD is my shepherd. I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside still waters. He RESTORES MY SOUL." - Psalm 23:1-3a

When I sit and am at peace with Him, I have an overwhelming sense of freedom. I have literally broken out into song before, singing, at the top of my lungs:

"My chains are gone, I've been set free. My God, my Savior has ransomed me. And like a flood, His Mercy reigns. Unending love, amazing grace." - the bridge in Chris Tomlin's "Amazing Grace"

Sure, as a believer of Christ, I am held to different standards because I know Him and am called to become more like Him. But that does not mean it is a life full of restrictions and rules. One of my favorite things to do is sit around the table, drinking wine and breaking bread with friends. There is no guilt or wrongdoing in that. Can I curse like a sailor? For sure. Should I? No. Am I forever damned to hell for it? Nope.

And that calling to "no longer conform to the ways of this world" (Romans 12:2) is not a burden to me. The more I learn about His character, the more I want to BE JUST LIKE HIM.

And as far as guilt and shame are concerned..."There is therefore now no condemnation (guilt) for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death." - Romans 8:1-2 - GUILT/SHAME does not come from Jesus. It is a product of our own minds and Satan. As a believer, will the Holy Spirit move you to repent? Absolutely. But He won't make you feel guilty about it. Correction from Him has come both gently and sternly, but always with love and reconciliation.

The more I sit with Him, read about Him, have life experiences with Him, the more I see that He is a full of grace, hope, restoration, and relationship. He doesn't boom from Heaven, towering over me like an abusive father, yelling "Get to church ON TIME you slacker!" Quite frankly, sometimes we miss church because we need a break. And even then, He doesn't say, "Seriously?! I'm so disappointed in you for not going to church." Absolutely not. It is then I feel Him tug on my heart, saying, "Child, come to me and I will give you rest. Sleep in. Come to me when you are ready...because I'm patiently waiting." No guilt, no shame. Still...Freedom.

I hope that as the body of believers of Jesus Christ, we show His character to others by loving them, showing them His kindness and grace. Showing them joy when we face trials, but honesty as we struggle. There is no perfection needing to be obtained. Jesus did away with that at the Cross when He took on our sins to give us freedom. Freedom in this world and freedom for all eternity when we believe.

"Grace defies reason and logic. Love interrupts, if you like, the consequences of your actions, which in my case is very good news indeed, because I've done a lot of stupid stuff. That's between me and God. But I'd be in big trouble if Karma was going to finally be my judge. I'd be in deep s-. It doesn't excuse my mistakes, but I'm holding out for Grace. I'm holding out that Jesus took my sins onto the Cross, because I know who I am, and I hope I don't have to depend on my own religiousity." - Bono

High five to Bono. I love people who say what they think.

Jesus isn't about rules or perfection. He really doesn't ask anything more of us than to come to Him just as we are: flawed, broken, screw-ups and all. He takes it from there. There will continue to be flaws, screw-ups, and dark times, but He remains there, through it all, and covers us with His beautiful, loving Grace.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Sufficient Grace

I'd start this post off with "I'm real tired right now," but I think that's how I started my last blog. Funny...not much has changed. 

I've been thinking lately about the concept of grace. When it comes to other people, I feel like I'm almost always the first one to dish it out. Someone "messes" worries. We all mess up. Hurt my feelings? I acknowledge it and forgive you. I'm not going to say I don't struggle with forgiveness or giving mercy or grace, I'm just saying that it's not the world's most difficult thing for me to do.

But extending grace to myself? Now that's a different story.

We all have a lot on our plates. At the time being, my super-sized dinner plate includes:
- a husband running for City Council
- a two-year-old
- an almost five-month-old (who breastfeeds)
- a job as an RN on a busy L&D floor 24-36 hours a week
- learning how to be a coordinator of a program for women who have had miscarriages, stillbirths, and infant death for our hospital
- attempting to lose a lot of baby weight via CrossFit
- being on several non-profit committees/boards
- keeping books (but Ben does most) for Ben's law practice
- AND trying to do things like be a loving, supportive wife and mother, an encouraging friend/sister/daughter
- not to mention trying to cook paleo meals, fold laundry, organize the house we are outgrowing, finish painting 3 separate projects that I started all while feeling guilty about not mastering the cute Easter project I pinned off of the beloved/dreaded PINTEREST. 

I don't say those things to sound important. Really. I HATE busyness. (I saw a great saying: STOP THE GLORIFICATION OF BUSYNESS.) The things listed above are real life though. I have no doubt that you can relate whether our plates look identical or not.

I am constantly walking around, getting down on myself for not having the clothes folded or that Grant ate 2 PB&Js in one day. You know what I'd tell someone else who was struggling with keeping up? I'd be the first to say..."You are doing the BEST you can do right now. Jesus wants you as you are...nothing more and nothing less." 


I CAN tell you that I know Jesus doesn't operate out of guilt. That He gently convicts when we have sinned but does not beat us into the ground to teach us a lesson. I also know that Satan knows where I struggle. That I'm a recovering perfectionist and one of the best ways to stump me is by making me feel not good enough.

"But He said to me, ' My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.' Therefore, I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses so that Christ's power may rest in me." - 2 Corinthians 12:9

I DO know that when I rest in Him more, when I just sit in His presence and let Him love on me, I feel whole. I feel good enough. I feel loved. So today, I'm boasting in my weakness because He gives the best grace.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Just Gotta Keep Running

I'm tired today. Real tired. I'm frustrated with the state of chaos that our house is in. My tolerance of my kids whining is zero to none. I feel overwhelmed with commitments, expectations, and obligations. I have a headache. I'm watching a friend walk through a divorce. I hate budgeting. I just want a vacation.

I got a message from a friend last night asking for a Bible verse or words of encouragement to share with one of her friends whose child was recently diagnosed with diabetes. The thought of what they have ahead of them made me tired. It made me genuinely sad for them because they have a long road ahead. So I shared these verses that are all that get me through some days:

"Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God." - Hebrews 12:1-2

Some days, you just gotta run. No matter how weary or weighted down you are. 

Sometimes, the only thing that keeps me going is Jesus at the finish line. He's run the race before. He endured it and was victorious. I'm not running by myself since He is always beside me (Heb. 13:5) and I'm surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses. 

So today, I've just gotta keep running.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

We Moms Are Pretty Great

We moms are pretty great. Here's why:

- For starters, we can endure childbirth.
- We can breastfeed a three-day-old while spanking a two-year-old.
- We can get lunches packed, clothes laid out, and breast pump equipment ready the night before.
- We can kiss a finger that's been rolled over by an electric four wheeler and magically heal it.
- We can cook dinner while Spiderman is clinging to our leg.
- We can fend off monsters in the closet.
- We can fold the same clothes four times after they've been jumped on and disheveled.
- We can teach them about Jesus and loving others.
- We can rock out to the Red Hot Chili Peppers "Snow (Hey Yo)" in the car with a two-year-old and not even care whose watching.
- We can make some mean play-dough.
- We can convince them to eat a new vegetable by bribing. Sometimes.
- We can love like there's no tomorrow.

Sometimes it's pretty rough being a mom. Pretty exhausting and overwhelming. Sometimes I miss my college days or married/two incomes/no kids life. But my two gems, they're pretty great. And that makes me feel pretty great.

Friday, February 8, 2013

Not a Quitter

I love writing and blogging. I have a kazillion ideas on what to blog about but life is just a little crazy with a 2 1/2 year old ALL BOY son and a 3 month old daughter...not to mention work, everyday life, and a super busy husband. Having said that, I'm making time to do it today.

I started CrossFit about 7 weeks ago. Three times a week for roughly an hour. I've missed several times because of the flu, kids being sick, and the holidays, but I've tried pretty hard to go. It's a beating. I mean, a real beating. Not only did I start at 7 weeks post partum, but I'm also out of shape. I was an athlete growing up and loved the Elliptical in college, did some walking/running/Zumba pre and post Grant, but CrossFit is in a league of it's own.

We do Olympic style weight lifting, all sort of body weight exercises, running, different weights...I think it's a military/law enforcement type regimen. Not gonna lie...I feel pretty Bad A when I'm done, even though I feel like I'm on the verge of death while doing it.

Here's a little bit about myself. If I'm not really good at something, I normally either don't do it. Or I quit. It's a bad trait of mine. This workout...I come in last a lot. Or second or third to last. I can't do all of the exercises in 100% proper form. I have to modify some. And I totally hate running. Like, with a passion.

But I'm not quitting.

Even though I don't look quite like a contestant, I feel like I'm on the Biggest Loser, struggling to finish at the back of the pack. And I don't like that feeling. Sometimes it drives me to push myself harder. Sometimes I want to quit and save face. But I'm not letting myself do that this time.

I'm putting myself out there. I feel vulnerable. I feel inadequate. I feel silly. I'm frustrated that it's so stinkin' hard for me. But I'm not quitting.

I want to feel victorious. I don't want to be at the back of the pack anymore. I'll get there one day. I know I will. But if I quit, I'll just have to start over, have the same physical pain and mental anguish. And I'm not going to do it.

This is a tough lesson for me. It's ok to not be the best. Or even good. Or even last. But man, I'm doing it. I'm putting myself out there and I'm going to conquer something that is really, really hard.

I don't know what you have out there to conquer. What you want to quit at because it's hard or you feel inadequate. But I'm telling you...DON'T. Like I'm going to beat CrossFit and my fears of sucking, you're going to beat your struggle, too. But if you quit, you'll never beat it and it will continue to be your struggle. A friend posted this on Facebook today and it rang really true to me.

"Dead Last Finish is greater than Did Not Finish, which trumps Did Not Start." - Anonymous