August 28, 2014

Asher's 3rd Birthday Questionnaire

The end of August is always a busy birthday season for us. This year Matt turned 32 on the 26th and Asher turned 3 on the 27th. We had a big birthday party for Asher at our house and then a quiet dinner with a few friends for Matt's birthday.

Both nights were fun and memorable celebrating two of my favorite guys.

I did a questionnaire with Asher like I did with Micah on his fourth birthday. His answers are so funny, they totally encapsulate our sweet and funny boy.

1. Favorite color: pink

2. Favorite toy: my turtle one (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles)

3. Favorite TV show: Tigger

4. Favorite movie: the Lego movie with Batman on it

5. Favorite food: ice cream

6. Favorite animal: peanut butter and jelly

7. Favorite song: Speak Life (same as Micah's on his birthday)

8. Best friend: Micah

9. Favorite drink: water

10. Favorite thing to play outside: riding my bike

11. Favorite breakfast: peanut butter and jelly

12. Favorite lunch: peanut butter and jelly and ice cream

13. Favorite thing about Micah: It's his birthday

14. Favorite thing about Daddy: Daddy

15. Favorite thing about Mommy: I don't know, Mom.

16. Favorite dessert: ice cream

17. What do you want to be when you grow up: a plane

Oh our funny boy, we love you more than we can say. His name means "blessed" or "happy" and it's true in every sense of the words. I laughed when they placed him on my chest and I laugh every day now at some silly thing he does or says. I couldn't imagine life without the fullness and joy he brings to it.

Thank you to everyone who came and celebrated our boy with us!

August 13, 2014

Why I can become weary of Churchdom

I started this post a couple of weeks ago and kept coming back to it but just couldn't quite put it all together. I wasn't going to publish it but I think a few of us can relate. It's not totally polished or clean but I've had these thoughts swirling for quite some time now and then I had an incident happen that drew a clear line of demarcation. And I thought, This is what I mean.

So here it is.

Yesterday, on the spur of the moment, Matt and I decided to visit a church we've never been to. I'd had to run and meet someone leaving him with all the kids so I got to the new church before he did. I was standing outside waiting for him and a man (probably late 20s) walked up with his dog and sat on a rock just a few feet from me. He was obviously a "transient". I don't know how else to describe him except to use that word. And I don't mean it negatively, just descriptively.

He had a dog and I commented on what I thought he had called him. Bums. He laughed and said, No, Bones

We ended up exchanging small talk for a few minutes. I said that I was waiting for my husband and three kids. He said, Three? Wow, you must be busy! I said, Well,  actually we've had four in four years but we lost one. As I explained, his face transformed into one of the most sincere looks of compassion I've ever received. He closed his eyes and blew his breath out slowly.

There was something about him; he had a certain depth and simple sincerity to him. I asked him more questions about himself and when I found out he was from New Hampshire, I asked him how he ended up here. He shared how he had turned from the Lord when he was 17 after his dad died unexpectedly and had spent the next seven years on the road. He had recently come back to the Lord and God had given him a picture of mountains and rivers and the stirring to make his way this way. He originally thought God wanted him in Washington but when he was coming through this area, he knew this was it.

He said he spent those wayward years turning people away from God and now he wants God to use him to turn people towards him. He's not sure what that looks like but he's been experiencing such an incredible community of faith (at that church) that he's decided to stay longer.

We talked more about losing my Grace, him losing his dad, him losing three children through abortions that different girlfriends chose to have during those wayward years, how loss and grief can make faith deeper and stronger.

It was one of the richest and most genuine, faith-encouraging conversations I've gotten into ever with a stranger at church. There was no shallow small talk and then looking for an excuse to leave or go sit down, having done our part to "greet somebody new".

And I knew what he was talking about. That the fact that he was experiencing a rich community at church was enough to keep him here longer. Because it's not the norm.

And here's where I'm going to be very honest about something.

Sometimes I get very, very tired of Churchdom in our country. Not CHRISTendom. Churchdom.

I get so weary of showing up on Sunday and knowing what to expect. High fashion. Shallow small talk. Word of the latest weekend on the lake, at the beach, in the mountains, at work. Rarely, if ever, getting into deeper or faith-filled conversations. Leaving and still feeling disconnected and like this whole Christian "community" is a farce.

I'm not saying those other conversations are wrong; it's just when that's all there is week after week, it leaves a soul desiring so much more.

I sat through the service yesterday and thought about that guy and our conversation. I thought about what was different about it. And I realized it was because there was no pretense. He didn't have any self-consciousness about himself; he was simply engaging the next person that showed up in his sphere (me) with conversation that was spurred from a natural outflow of his walk with God.

And then the next day I was reading in 1st Corinthians 4. Paul is confronting the Corinthians because they had started to act as if their wealth and giftings were somehow of themselves. He said, What do you have that you did not receive? If then you received it, why do you boast as if you had not received it? (1st Corinthians 4:7)

He then went on to contrast their (the apostles') condition: To the present hour we hunger and thirst, we are poorly dressed and buffeted and homeless (4:11).

I was completely taken aback at the word homeless. Because it's exactly how I had described this man. And it made me wonder (again) if we're the ones to be pitied. We have our wealth and giftings and more resources available than any other generation and yet so often it produces boasting, pride, selfishness, shallowness. Just before these verses Paul tells them, I gave you milk, not solid food, for you were not yet ready for it. Indeed you are still not ready (3:2).

I don't want to be a Corinthian. (I also don't want to be homeless.)

But I do want depth. I want it in my own soul and I want it in the soul of the Church.

So how do we do that? What does it take?

I think it's simple in answer and difficult in practice.

I think it first takes spending time with the Lord and in his Word. This transforms our hearts over time and creates a tangible outflow of loving him and loving others. Through conversation, through prayer, through service, through encouragement, through exhortation, and so on. "Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth" (1st John 3:18).

And then I think it takes intentionally creating an atmosphere of authenticity and openness, truly engaging others. It means we care about the next person who shows up in our sphere; we decide that they matter. Sometimes it means that we're the initiators and others times it means we're the responders. But we engage.

So I want to start there. I can't change an entire culture but I can decide that the next person who crosses my sphere matters. Their story matters. Their life matters. I can look them in their eyes and listen with my heart and maybe, just maybe, they'll walk away feeling a little less isolated and a little more known.

July 14, 2014

Life the last few weeks, with lots of pictures to show for it

I have random pictures from the last several weeks from both my fancy phone and my phone so I'll just post the pictures and tell the story behind them and get a little caught up on life.

(I know many of you commented through my Facebook posts but now that I've deleted my account, feel free to comment here! I love to read them and I try to respond to them all!)

Micah was so excited to learn the secret of the dandelion. He de-dandelioned our entire yard after finding out he could blow them away.

Matt's mom and step-dad.

This is three weeks postpartum and originally I wasn't going to post any pictures of myself because I was feeling self-conscious about having my baby weight still, but then I thought of all the ridiculous pressure women face to lose the weight 3 hours after birth and I thought, That's total crap. I've had 4 babies in 4 years, of course my body looks different THREE weeks after giving birth. I refuse to give into that kind of nonsense and social pressure. Anyways, getting off my soapbox now...

The TWO whole bison we saw.

Such a stunning background! 

I love this little guy.

I did a gender reveal shot for some friends and Micah wanted me to take a picture of his profile like I had of my pregnant friend! So cute and funny!

Such a sweet boy. I love his silly, sweet nature.

The rest of these are off my phone and in no particular order.

Just wearing a Big Bird suit while playing at the Children's Museum.

I love the way my mom loves my kids.

We went camping the Fourth of July weekend so Matt was getting our supplies ready. 

We met our good friends first at Holland Lake and this is the drive there. 

Hands down, Micah and Asher's favoritest friends. 

The water was only slightly below Siberian winter temperatures.

Can't beat the backdrop though!

This is how this guy likes to celebrate. A little nap in the great outdoors, no?

Headed to Whitefish for camping and we were prepared with entertainment. Isn't the zoned out look a little concerning? :)

I never tire of this view.

Whitefish was having a downtown festival and this was one of the stands. 

Favorite place to have my littlest guy.

Micah lost his mind with excitement over the train. We got to watch one arrive and link to another one; it was actually really cool.

We first learned about this place when we saw them on House Hunters (the owners) and so we had to try it when we were there. It's called Red Caboose and they serve frozen yogurt and coffee. SO GOOD. Try it if you're there.

Going down the alpine slide!

Riding the chair lift back up.

I don't have any pictures of the five of us riding the chair lift up the whole mountain (they're on Matt's phone.) It's so beautiful at the top. You can see all the way into Canada.

Luke doesn't mind camping one bit.

So pretty!

I'm so glad my parents came; they totally made the trip. And the boys always love their Nana and Papa being there.


Whitefish beach. I could have stayed here all day.

Spontaneous disc golfing one night.

Oh my gosh, I cannot get over this hat (except he refuses to wear it anymore now that the novelty has worn off).

Just my little 6-week 14-pounder is all.

Ha! Caught him red-handed. He got those down himself, little stinker.
I was sitting on our front porch this week watching the moonrise and this mama deer and her baby walked out right in front of me!

Hard to tell but the baby is behind her. It was so neat! Between the moonrise and this, I felt like I was in a Narnia movie.

We had just walked back from Courtney's house (in the 767-degree weather while wearing Luke and pushing Micah and Asher) and I thought I was gonna pass out from the heat, so this is Luke and me in the dark in our bedroom under the fan trying to get our temperatures down to normal levels.

Whew, picture overload! I'm hoping to start writing more regularly now so I should be back with more content soon. Happy Monday!