Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Mother Daughter

One of the gifts we gave our girls for their 10th birthday was their first "Mother Daughter" get-away.
It was something I've dreamed about since they were born!
For over 20 years now, my mom and I have gone on Mother Daughters, aka a girls get-aways.
When I was blessed to have 2 little girls of my own, I started planning our little get aways!
My dream came true last week
 as we headed to the beautiful seaside town of Santa Barbara for a few days.
There were many lovely moments, but this one was my favorite!
I gave the girls a list of activities they could choose from to fill our time.
One girl was very excited to watch a movie in our room!
All in our jammies and ready to cuddle in bed with a movie, we were disappointed to find that we didn't get movies in our room!  Imagine that! 
 I guess they wanted us to look out the window at the ocean or something!
We ended up watching an episode of "Little House" on my phone and it was magical!
Left over pizza, tiny phone propped up on a pillow, long past bedtimes..
 I really felt like I was hanging out with my girlfriends!
I have to say, this trip came at a great time.
Honestly, life with 2 girls can be a bit rough from time to time.
Especially when they're twins.
Especially when they're 10!
And to be even more honest, these past few weeks have felt rather hopeless in the "mother of girls" category.  I get so frustrated with them and their endless arguing or bossing or talking back!
Take me now Jesus!
But this time away together felt like a breath of fresh air.
They didn't bicker or compete for my attention.
They acted like best friends.
Our time away gave me the reassurance that everything is going to be ok.
I'm going to be ok.
Sometimes it takes getting away, out of the everyday normal, to see people in a new light.
I saw 2 little girls that are not so little anymore, 2 girls that I can't wait to take away again!

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Whatever Is Lovely - Think About Such Things


It's no secret that social media can be misleading.
As can blogs.
We post photos that look great and everyone is happy and smiling.
And to some extent, I'm ok with that.
We all know that there is more going on behind photos.
For example
endless running that led to a few days of shin splints!
thorns in our feet
itchy legs from the tall grass that I "made them stand in"
Moma falling down in the tall grass that left more than my legs itchy!
Arguing over who holds the balloons...
But I kind of look at my posted photos like life as a parent.
I know there are many tough days and attitudes and disobedient moments,
but I don't want to dwell on that or burn those moments into my brain.
Because for every rough day, there are at least 3 others that are good!
I want to focus on the good and burn those images into my brain.
Images of my kiddos laughing, throwing flowers into the air, running freely, embracing the moon.
I want those magical moments to be what comes to mind first, not all the negative.
I want the special times with my children to get me through the rough times!
I'm not in denial or trying to put up a false impression.
I simply want to focus on the good.

Philippians 4:8
Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. 

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Chasing The Light

My daughters are about to hit double digits!
I've considered this milestone birthday for sometime and wondered how I might make it special and memorable for them.
Perhaps I'm really trying to make it most memorable for myself!
It's all going so quickly, rather cliche I know, but far too true not to say.
I want to mark this 10th birthday because it's the last one they'll ever have.
My baby girls will only turn 10 once!
They're so excited to grow up.
I'm holding onto every moment, wishing I could pause and rewind a bit.
In my effort to pause their little lives, I took them into the hills to capture some photos of them.
In desperate pursuit of the "golden hour," we devoured our dinner and took off for the hills.
As we started our hike, I feared we missed it.  
A hiker on the trail passing us by simply said, "chasing the light!"
Yes, I was chasing more than light.
I was chasing my little girls that were quickly on the trail to teendom 
and then college and marriage and...
I needed to run faster.
Out of breath and increasingly disappointed,
 I ran even faster to capture the fleeing bits of gold.
And just when I thought we'd missed it, I turned around to find my girls putting flowers in each other's hair.
All too soon this life scene between sisters will repeat,
 perhaps with doing each other's hair for prom or their wedding, 
and even more then, I want to be on the trail with them, chasing the light that is their lives.

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

You Are Free Indeed

Last Tuesday I had the privilege of speaking to a group of women at Cornerstone Church.
I shared with them the freedom that Jesus came to give us.

"The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor.  He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor."  Luke 4:18,19

Jesus would not have come to preach this message if it were not something that we needed to hear.
He would not have endured the agony and torture of the cross if there weren't chains that only his death and resurrection could break.
There are many things that try to bind us in this life. 
Things that try to tie us up and hold us captive, keep us small and ineffective.
Past mistakes
Wrongs done to us
The list in inexhaustible of the things the enemy uses to chain us to a lie for the rest of our life.

But Jesus came to set us FREE!
We are promised trouble in this world as it is broken and sinful.
But Jesus overcame the world and with that he has set us free from all of the trouble that this world hurls at us.
We need only to lay down our chains and receive his freedom.
"So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed." John 8:36

His death on the cross really was enough to break any chain.
You name it - nothing is too difficult for him!

 Do you need freedom today?

Monday, April 4, 2016

Imperfect Moments

This Easter had some imperfect moments that made me laugh.
Like going to church on Easter Sunday and half way there I realize that we didn't do my son's hair - my son's chia pet, thick brisolly hair which requires a good amount of gel to control it!  
Or the Easter decorations never made it up this year 
(but St. Patrick's Day decor remained through March 31st!)  
Or family photos that just can't get to the print-worthy stage!

And those imperfect moments also made me cry.
Cry with gratitude that I'm not who I used to be.
I sat on the toilet in the guest bathroom, large solid wood door closed in front of me.  Just in there to do normal "bathroom" things and I saw a dark knot in the wood of the door and I was immediately overcome with a flood of memories.
"Thank you Jesus for saving me."
"Thank you Jesus for rescuing me."
The words came out of my mouth, through tears, before I could even complete or process the memories that surrounded me as I sat in that bathroom.

I walked into that bathroom on Christmas day, 2011, and begged to be taken to the hospital.  I was in the throws of a severe panic attack and literally felt like I was moments away from going blank.  One more breath and I'd just stop, fade away, blankly stare for the rest of my life.  I didn't fear dying, but rather feared loosing control of my mind and my ability to process and function.  The fear was real as the reality of loosing control was already in full throws.  
I couldn't stop the nightmare.  
No words could comfort or make sense. 
I had no control of what was happening to me.
I felt like I was chasing myself down a never ending hallway, screaming, "STOP STOP STOP."
But I didn't stop.
I couldn't stop.
Now 5 years later, and a different holiday of celebrating, I sat and cried as the dark knots in the wood of the door told me stories that I thought would be the final chapters of my life.
But just as death was not the final word in Jesus' life, anxiety was not the final word in mine!
The same power that rose Jesus from the dead, set me free and changed my life.
"Thank you Jesus for saving me."
"Thank you Jesus for rescuing me."
Those words were so appropriate for this Easter Sunday, for not only did Jesus rescue me from hell when I die, and save me from my past sin, but He rescues me everyday from the hell we all live in and saves me time and again from the mistakes I daily make.
I'm so grateful for imperfect moments as they kindly remind me that perfectionism is a disease of self destruction.  And they also remind me that I've been set free and am grateful for a God who is not shaken nor defeated by ANYTHING.

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Let's All Be Brave... in our own way!

It was a year ago this week that my husband was going in for his 3rd knee surgery.
As I was telling a girlfriend the schedule for surgery day, 
when I came to the part of him being put under, I paused.
An unexpected lump came into my throat and I almost lost it.
As I fought back tears, my friend said, "It's no big deal.  It's not heart surgery!"
Um... WHAT?
I was very aware of the fact that this was not a life or death surgery, but there is always risk when you're under anesthesia and beside, this is MY husband!
I was scared.

As I posted in the beginning of this year, my one word for the year is
I didn't pick it.
It picked me.
I've been working on a project that is taking me out of my comfort zone and I assumed that the word BRAVE would apply to this new venture.
It does.
But that's not all.
This is a challenging week for me personally and whereas I'm more than aware that many are facing far more difficult circumstances, some life and death, this is MY tough circumstance and I need to be BRAVE.
Bravery looks different for everyone.
For some, being brave means walking away from a difficult relationship.
For others, being brave means staying, and working through it.
Being brave could mean taking a risk and following your dream,
writing that book, launching that company, going on that mission trip...
Or being brave might mean trusting your life into someone's hands for a time, giving up control.
I know it is different for everyone, that's why I will not compare my brave moments to yours.
For no matter how extreme or different the circumstances, bravery demands the same of all of us - 
Ultimately I know I can be BRAVE this week because I trust the God that made me.
I trust His word to be true and I trust that He will do exactly what He says He will do.
Every time.
All the time.
Joshua 1:9
"Have I not commanded you?  Be strong and courageous.  Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go."
Life is promised to bring everyone challenges.
Some are extremely difficult and others are mildly uncomfortable, but
Let's All Be Brave!
And encourage one another to trust God's promises to be true.
He is with us, so we can be

Friday, March 11, 2016

Learning From the Big Boys

Something that has been a mixed bag as a parent is kiddos' team sports.
Sometimes we get a good coach, sometimes we don't.
Sometimes the kids really want to play the sport and learn, 
sometimes their parents have forced them to be there!
But one thing has remained true.
When my children have been placed on teams where they are the youngest, 
least experienced or aren't the best player, they rise.
They are called higher by those around them and they greatly improve and grow.
It's awesome to see!
Little kids mentoring other little kids without even knowing it!

This is one of those awesome years for us as my little slugger got bumped up a level in baseball and now is in the youngest and least experienced category.
Without talking about the fact that there are some amazing players on his team, he just longs to be better.  He has seen these bigger boys crack that ball and he wants to do it too!
He is pushing himself, watching, learning, trying harder.
I love it!
In life, it's so important to surround ourselves with people who call us higher.
People who are doing life smarter, better, healthier, wiser than we are.
People who live like we aspire to live.
Watch them, learn from them, listen to them, and grow.

Proverbs 13:20 tells us that the one who walks with the wise, will become wise.

If we are spending most of our time with people who simply stroke our ego, 
it's likely we are not growing.
However, if we spend more time with folks who have been in the game longer than we have and have acquired more skills and wisdom along the way, we will grow, rise and become wise.
Are you at the top of your team?
Perhaps it's time to bump up a level and learn some new things from the big boys!

Happy Friday!

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

No Substitute for the Truth

2 little weeks ago I posted about missing the window to prune my roses, but cutting them back anyway.  Statistics tell us that as parents we have small windows to teach our children certain things, expose them to various experiences and flavors and encourage desired behaviors, and if we miss those windows... well, who knows what will happen to our kids!!
And if we don't prune our roses in the right season, we're doomed!

But just as I know that it's never too late for change, growth and transformation in God's economy, I decided to hack down my roses anyway and to discipline my children with the hopes that God is not bound by a certain window of time and nothing is impossible with Him!

Well, just 2 weeks later, here is that same rose bush!

Only 2 weeks later and there is visible, healthy growth!
As I was looking at this rose bush today, aside from being thrilled that I didn't listen to the gardeners guide to healthy roses!, I was struck with another bit of truth.
We've been suffering from a much publicized drought here in California for quite some time.
We ration our water and only water our gardens on Mondays and Thursdays or else we get fined heavily!  Our plants are limping along just fine, but this past weekend we got some solid rain! And I kid you not, the growth after the rain is undeniable.  Almost the very next day we could see new shoots and buds spring forth on our plants and bushes!  It's unreal.
We never see that obvious growth from the sprinklers or the hose.
But the rain, pure, falling from heaven rain, nourishes like none other and spurs new growth immediately.  There is no substitute for the rain.
Made me think of Truth.
Word of God Truth.
Nothing yields more growth and abundance in our lives than the Truth of God.
So many other substitutes can help us limp along, scrape by and "make it."
But there is no substitute for the absolute Word of God that is pure Truth, falling from heaven, to heal our wounds, bring light into darkness, cleanse our mistakes, remove our scars, and
spring forth new life in dead, hopeless areas.  
It's just unmistakable.
Where do you need new growth in your life?
Are you looking to other things to nourish you and bring about change?
I encourage you to simply read the Bible, surrender to God's Truth and allow His Word to transform you in the healthiest, longest lasting way.

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Mama Bear

 Last Summer I received a card in the mail and the writing on the envelope made my heart race.

My name was written so beautifully I had to look closely to see if it were handwritten or printed by a computer!
When I opened the envelope, the card inside had similar writing, telling me my card was handwritten!
A lovely surprise.
"Mama Bear"

I could hardly wait to open the card and discover who it was from!
And as I read the words, written as a lovely font, tears came to my eyes.
A girls who was a college student when I was a college pastor about 15 years ago had written me this beautiful card!  And immediately the memories flooded back as I would not mistake her writing anywhere.  I always joked that she was a "font," because her printing was unreal.
Now her font-like writing was laying before me like a piece of art and the arrangement of the beautiful lettering read like a poem.
"The Mama Bear Collection is all about encouraging mothers to remember who they are - 
strong, fierce, and enough."
She went on to thank me and encourage me as a Mama Bear.
I really was left speechless.

Today, there is more information swirling around for moms than should be allowed.
It causes us to worry and panic about every tiny decision we make for our children.
It also has had an even more damaging effect as it causes us to judge, give unsolicited advise and shame other moms who aren't doing it like we are.
It's really sad to see.
It's sad to experience.
It's sad to do.

Alisha launched her stationary business last year, Gold Press Paper.
Her motto is, "Words are Powerful - You are Powerful"
So true!
Our words are very powerful.
Words have the power to give life or bring death.
All too often as moms we use our words as weapons.
How amazing would it be if we blessed one another as Mama Bears?
If we fought FOR each other and encouraged each other with our words?
If we affirmed one another's decisions and differences instead of shaming?
We'd be a mighty ferocious pack!
Bless another Mama Bear today with mighty words of encouragement!

***head over to Alisha's site to find some amazing cards to send to someone today!

Monday, February 22, 2016

Is It Too Late?

El Nino El Schmino!
Where is our rain?
So Summer has officially hit Southern California, 90 degrees, one 64 degree day of rain, followed by another 85 degree day!  They lied to us.
In the midst of this Summer heat, I totally forgot to prune back my roses.
Usually I cut them way back to nubs in January, but I kinda forgot that it was winter!
"Shoot, I forgot to cut back the roses last month," I said to my husband.
Walking out and looking at them today I found that they're thin and spindly.  
They have already sprouted some new growth and buds at the end of gangely branches.
They look horrible.
Do I cut them back now?
Is it too late?
Did I miss the window?
I don't know, but I knew I couldn't leave them growing as they are.
They look horrible!
As I stood in the hot sun, hacking at the rose bushes, wondering if they'll come back full and nice, I thought about parenting.
We are flooded with statistics these days like, "a child has fully formed their personality by age 3." AKA, if you're kid isn't super polite and kind and compassionate by 3, you're screwed!
Or "the brain has fully formed by age 5," so if you're kid isn't reading Shakespeare, speaking 2 languages and mastering 3 instruments by 5, most likely they won't be going to college.
(these aren't actual statistics, but you know what I mean!)
Or any of the other things they tell us to make us think that we've missed the window and it's too late as parents!
I've been feeling this way a little bit lately as some ugly behavior that was never fully extinguished is now growing in a spindly, hollow, ugly way.
Is it too late?
Should I have cut that off a few years ago?
Did I miss the window as a parent to form polite, gracious children?
 As I chopped the roses, getting stuck with thorns and burned by the sun I again thought of parenting.
It is never fun to discipline a child.
It is painful and we can easily get burned.
Isn't it easier to just stay inside where it's cool and avoid the hard work?
It's too late any way, they are who they are.
But like the roses, I can't just leave them that way.
Growing wildly without boundaries or attention.
It's so unattractive.
And even if there are a few great moments of politeness, like new buds on the ends of ugly branches, they still aren't appealing.
I really believe that it's never too late to correct a child.
Discipline is done out of great, deep love.  And we all know it's never too late to love someone!
No matter how out of control we feel or overwhelmed, it's never too late.
And just like I'm confident that my hearty, stubborn roses will come back beautifully, I know that children can be trained and transformed, even past 5 years old!
So, regardless of what the books say, I'm pruning roses and kids!
Because no matter what the season is, they both need it!

(I'll post pictures in a few months to see the new, beautiful, healthy growth!)

Friday, February 19, 2016

Pure Heart

"Blessed are the pure in heart for they will see God."
After taking a holiday break, The God's Girls gathered again to kick off our new series, "Body Parts."
We will be going through various body parts and discussing what the Bible has to say about them and how we, as girls who belong to God, are to use our mouths, eyes, hands, feet... to please God.
We kicked off with the heart, it being Valentine's week and all!

The heart is talked about so much in the Bible.
It is the place where we invite Jesus to come in and take over our life.
Why not the brain?
The brain seems to be mission control for the body, the hub of all communication.  
Why don't we ask Jesus into our brains to take over our life?
In Matthew 15 Jesus tells us that out of the heart comes our words and our thoughts.
What?  Doesn't our mouth speak and our minds think?
There is something about the heart that is the center of all of us.
The heart directly influences the mouth.
The heart guides the mind.
What we value most is where we place our hearts.
The heart determines how we live.
And Jesus told us that those who have a pure heart, will see God!
I want to see God!

 If your heart is clean, pure, then everything else in you will be pure too.
Your thoughts, your words, your actions, your desires.
They all come out of your heart.
When our thoughts are coming from a pure heart,
 they are not distracted and they are focused on God and we see Him all around us.
When our words are coming from a pure heart
they are not harsh or rude, but a blessing and a gift that allow others to see God.
When our actions are coming from a pure heart
we are not acting for our own fame and glory, 
but for the benefit of others and the glory of God and we see Him.
And when our desires are coming from a pure heart,
 we are selfless and seek to please God through doing His will, 
which is always where we see Him.

The God's Girls made bookmarks.
Using pencil erasers dipped in paint to decorate them.
At the bottom of the bookmark we punched a small heart out.
When I laminated the bookmarks, the heart hole was covered by the plastic,
 making a window of a pure heart.
Truly our heart is a window into who we are.
If our heart is cluttered, dirty, or covered up, no one really sees us.
But when our heart is pure, people can clearly see into who we are,
and because we are all made in the image of God,
they will see God.

Search me God and know my heart.
Investigate my life, find out everything about me;
Cross-examine and test me,
get a clear picture of what I'm about;
see for your self whether I've done anything wrong - 
then guide me on the road of eternal life.
Ps. 139 MSG

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Macky Bear 7

From the moment you were born little baby boy, I knew something was different.
You stole my heart like non other and I just couldn't keep my lips off your cheeks!

 You are such a special boy Mack.
You're heart is tender and sensitive.
You have a deep desire for everyone to know Jesus and you pray earnestly for your friends.
You are kind and compassionate.

 "I want to make my own Valentine's for my class Mommy.  
And I'm going to make Natalia's the most special because she has cancer."

You have a deep understanding of God and His grace and mercy.
You are quick to say you're sorry and quick to forgive.

As I sat at the computer one evening, long after you were asleep, 
I heard someone come in behind me.  You were crying.
"What's the matter buddy?"
"Mommy, remember when Georgia was at swim practice last year and you brought me goldfish for a snack?  You asked me if you could have some and I didn't share.
I'm so sorry Mommy."
As you lay in bed at night, you contemplate your days and the regrets that are brought to mind hit your little heart and you go to make things right.

Macky, you have a sensitive heart that desires purity and God will use you in mighty ways.

You make me laugh all the time.
You are so quick witted and funny!
Your confidence is a gift that allows you the freedom to be who God has made you to be.

Your sissys love you soooo much, sometimes perhaps a little too much!
But the day is quickly approaching when you will tower over them and take great care of them!
"Macky, do you want an ice cream sandwich?"
"YES!  But let's wait until sissys get home so they can have one too."
You are selfless and have always wanted to include your sisters in all the joys of life.

You're 7 today!
A new year is before you.
I pray that God protects your tender heart and continues to draw you closer to Himself.
I pray that your compassion for others deepens as you grow up in a world that desperately needs to know God's love.
I pray that your sense of humor brightens up the days of all you come in contact with.
I pray that you know beyond a shadow of a doubt that you are loved and that 
God has great plans for you.

Happy Birthday Mack!


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