Sunday, December 9, 2012


Why do we live our life as though God is waiting on a new and improved future version of ourselves in order to love us.

My daughter is a royal mess.

These are the things I wish she would do:
1. Not mess up her brothers well planned out nascar race. And then laugh...
2. TeeTee in the potty
3. Eat a cracker without it looking like a hail storm hit my living room.
4. Say please and thank you and not scream demands at me.

But... I love my Carley. The way she is now. Because she is mine.

I would never tell her, "Come back in a few years when you are potty trained and have better manners. Then we will talk about this whole mother/daughter thing."

Why can we not understand that Christ's death on the cross was sufficient even for our current cruddy state? He did not postpone his love for the completed result of you. We exhaust ourselves with lists of our lists of things that we need to fix before we approach Jesus for a real relationship with him.

Why do I wish Carley would not do the above things? Because I love her too much for her to stay the way she is. I don't want her going on her first date with no manners and being a sprinkler of food. Now, does Carley have some awesome days, sure! There are days that I can tell she is even TRYING to please me! And how does her efforts change my love? It doesn't!

"You say, 'Come just as you are. So here I stand unholy. And I thank you, Lord, that you won't leave me that way."

Sunday, September 16, 2012


I did not get glasses until I was in the 6th grade. I seriously don't know how I passed the vision tests from the school nurse every year before that, because I did not realize how blind I was until I got glasses.

The day I got glasses was exciting. I remember seeing individual blades of grass for the first time instead of a green blur. I didn't realize that when you looked at the clouds they could take interesting shapes and textures. I rode in the car with my brand new glasses and observed everything. I rode by buildings I had seen my whole life and never been able to read the signs or see defined squares called windows. I remember reading my street sign, "Kelly Terrace" where I lived. Most importantly, I could read a book without struggling and straining.

How interesting that in a more gradual process, I have had the same experience with my spiritual eyes understanding the Word of God. What use to be a blur has become so beautifully clear. What use to seem dull is now penetrating my soul. What use to be boring words have become the very words that I cling to. Most importantly, I can read the book without struggling and straining.

I see now that the problem was never the Bible. It was my eyes. I was blind and didn't know what I was missing out on.

However, I still have SO much to learn. There are many days I don't understand and feel frustrated by my ignorance. There are times I don't see the point of His words. Lord,  help in those times to perservere and seek you. Give me understanding and wisdom. Thank you God, for the Bible.

"Open my eyes that I may see wonderful things in your law." -Psalm 119:18

Friday, August 10, 2012

Ferris Wheel

I hate ferris wheels. The up an down makes me nauseous. And throughout the ride you see the same things over and over again. 

I think I ride a ferris wheel in every day life.

My daughter tee-tee's in the potty consistently all morning. I internally pat myself on the back for training her well. Later she decides to pull down her undies and flood the playroom 3 times in a row. I internally wonder how I lost control of my kid. I fear I'm losing her.

My son recites scripture about obedience and hiding the word in his heart. I think I've done the right thing to teach him the Word. Later we are in a shouting match about what's fair/not fair and end it all with a spanking and tears. I internally wonder how I lost control of my kid. I fear I'm losing him.

My husband thanks me for all that I do and then makes supper for us all. I think how our marriage is a good example of the way it should be and I'm proud. Later we are frustrated and miscommunicating about what he really meant when he said "I guess..." I internally wonder how I lost control of my marriage. I fear I'm losing him.

Am I the only who is in constant battle with my thoughts and heart? Its a constant pull between pride and fear. When things go my way, I credit myself and I'm happy. When Ive lost control of a situation and things don't go my way, I have fear that I'm losing something.

"Pride takes over because we come to believe that we are the right kind of people. Fear takes over because we dread losing control." -Richard Foster

I'm very excited about re-reading Celebration of Discipline by Richard Foster. As I am preparing my heart to begin studying Spiritual Disciplines, I'm begininng to see how much the above quote is true in even the little things of every day life. Its even more so true for my relationship with Christ.

I read the Bible in my bed at night and I'm excited about what I've learned. I internally credit myself for being a good Christian and have a sense of self-righteousness. Later I can't understand why that bad attitude or that selfish thought slipped into my day. I wonder how I lost control of my relationship with Him. I fear I'm losing Him.

I see now how much pride and fear screw everything up. I am so self-sufficient. And what a crummy person I am to depend on. These Spiritual Disciplines that I'm about to study do have the potential to accelerate the cycle of pride and fear and self-sufficiency in my relationship with Christ. The introduction to Foster's book warns against this.

"The needed change within us is God's work, not ours."
"Human striving is insufficient."
"Righteousness is a gift from God."
"God has given us the disciplines of the spiritual life as a means of receiving His grace."

He warns that there is potential for Disciplines to be morphed into "Laws." We all know what "Laws" did to the Pharisees. It caused externalism. It caused pride and judging. It caused a less than intimate relationship with Christ. 

"When we genuinely believe that inner transformation is God's work and not ours, we can put to rest our passion to set others straight."

I don't need to set God straight. I don't want to be on the ferris wheel of pride and fear and constant wondering where I stand with God. I HATE ferris wheels. I need to let Him work from the inside out. I have a feeling that the change in my heart would result in less pride and fear with my family as well. 

"He who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption; but he who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life." - Galatians 6:8

Just as a farmer prepares his field for nature to do the work, so am I preparing my heart for God to do His mighty work.

Monday, July 16, 2012

A lack of friendship...

Last week I had the opportunity to go to Houston on a mission trip with 6 of our students. It was such an eye opening experience. I honestly don't know how I'm going to write this post because we did SO much stuff and I have SO many thoughts about it all. I'll start with a few pictures from the trip. These are tiny pictures because they came from my phone. Sorry...

This was taken from the 60th floor of the Chase Tower downtown. It was a beautiful view of the city. It was hard to tell from that view that there were so many problems and needs in the city.

 We sported hair nets and gloves and made 1900 sandwhiches one morning for students who are on free and reduced lunch during the school year. The next day we got to hand deliver them to the children.

We took an awesome group of students. LOVE them...

We took a long time exploring downtown. We had the opportunity to ask some questions to homeless people, police officers, and business people to get different perspectives. 

Houston is the 4th largest city in the nation, and as of last year is the most diverse city in the nation (taking the place of New York City). It also has the highest homeless population in the nation. And boy was it evident. As we would tour the city and walk the streets, we would see homelessness and extremely impoverished areas everywhere. 

I had never heard this word before, but we learned about gentrification. Its basically when the wealthier population come in to the lower income areas. Nice new buildings or homes are built where run down ones used to be. Its a way of "economic planning" for the future of that city. I guess maybe the idea is to eventually push out the "low-incomeness" of areas. It sounds like a good thing. And in some ways it really is a good thing. But to see it in person is different. I wish I had taken a picture of the area we saw, but I didnt. So I found similar pictures to what we saw. 

We drove down a street where on one side we saw nice condos like this...

and directly across the street we saw homes like this...

I guess I have a hard time with gentrification when it comes to "city planning" if the impoverished and homeless are not included in that planning. Economically it makes sense for the city as a whole. But I think its forgotten that behind the doors of those run down and dirty houses are real people who may have no where else to go. Thats their home.

What was interesting, though, was that on the lower income side of the road I noticed a huge sense of community. People sitting on porches together, neighbors visiting with each other, people working on their cars together. On the condo side...not one person was to be found. 

One afternoon, we helped cook a meal for about 100 men in a drug rehab facitilty. I had the opportunity to work along side a man named "Country" who was a resident there and worked in the kitchen. He basically taught me how to cook! He showed me how to sautee and "keep that food moving." He taught me how to control my heat and not be afraid to taste it along the way. I swear he needs his own cooking show. He was so much fun!

Another evening, we had an opportunity to listen to the Salvation Army Harbor of Lights mens choir. The entire choir was former addicts. As I watched them, I couldn't help but notice their hearts of sincere worship. I felt convicted as I realized that I don't give God the same kind of worship as they were. 

Our last evening there, we went to a place called Bread of Life. They serve meals to the homeless community that is cooked by homeless culinary students. They fellowship together every evening (that particular night they had a paint night). Then they open up showers and line up as many mattresses as they can and let them sleep for the night. As they were setting up their beds for the night a couple of homeless guys lifted a wallet in the air and started yelling, "Family! Someone lost their wallet! Who's wallet?" Another sense of community. They called each other "family" all night long. And they protect each other and take care of each other. 

I expected to go to Houston and give to the needy. I didn't expect the needy to give back to me. I didn't expect to be taught by them.

Throughout the trip we had numerous opportunities to interact or work along side people who were homeless, kids in an impoverished area, or men in rehab. We sorted clothes, cooked and served food, packed lunches, etc. We were helping meet a lot of physical needs. But throughout the entire trip, I kept thinking of a quote from a video I watched about poverty. The quote stated that, "The definition of poverty is a lack of friendship." Sure we can help with physical needs. But real friendships with these people can go a long way. The best things that happened all week for me was finding out their names and about their families and what they like to do. It was then that the walls I had built between us began to fall down.

Saturday, June 30, 2012

Carley is 2!

My girl is 2 today! I LOVE LOVE LOVE my little sidekick. She is always with me, always happy, and always making me laugh or smile. We butt heads every once in a while, because we are so much alike, but I am thankful for her companionship. So here is a 2 year update...

Age: 2 years today!
Weight: about 22 pounds, wearing 24 month clothes and size 4 shoes
Feedings: depends on her mood! Some days she keeps that mouth clamped shut and wants only snack foods. I don't fight her. She'll eat when she is hungry. She loves to eat cheese, blueberries, bananas, applesauce, chips (and dip), mac n cheese, yogurt, and rice.
Favorites: She loves putting on her shoes by herself to get ready to go "soutside", Her favorite things to do outside are to look for bugs, jump on the trampoline, and knock her brothers ball off his T. She loves books and wants to be read to ALL the time. She loves any kind of teasing games like hide and seek, chasing, and she likes to hide her toys and see if we can find them. She loves to sing and smile. She also loves to help me clean. She will fold clothes with me or follow me around with a baby wipe to clean off tables and counters. :)
Least Favorites: She does not like eggs. She still doesnt like it when I rinse her hair in the tub. 
Issues: She is a hitter sometimes. Colin never has and still doesnt hit. But he stayed with a little old lady with just one other kid until he was 2 and 1/2. Carley has been in daycare the whole time, so I think she just sees it more. She is a tiny girl, so maybe thats her way of holding her own??? Were working on it though. We always say, "Stapletons don't hit." Even Colin tells her that.
Personality: VERY silly. I think both of my kids are really funny. But Colin isn't trying to be funny, he's just quirky and says silly stuff on accident. Carley is intentionally funny. She tries to make people laugh. She has grown to be more cuddly than she used to be (which of course I won't reject!) She is usually independent, confident, and content.
Areas to Work On: getting her to eat more and stop hitting
New Things: Her beloved "paddy" (pacifier) is officially gone. Its been almost a full week without it and shes done fairly well. She has the hardest time when its time to go to sleep. But we've replaced the comfort of paddy for the comfort of momma rocking her to sleep. I'm definitely ok with that! It sure is funny to hear her crying and admist the tears say, "Paddy's gone gone!" 
Randomness: Colin and Carley are having a combined party at the bowling alley next weekend. (Colins birthday is in about 3 weeks) I have NO idea what to get them for their birthdays. Ideas?

Happy Birthday, Lita! I am thankful God blessed our family with you. 
You are wonderfully made!

Monday, May 28, 2012


As Phineas and Ferb would sing, "Summer...every single moment is worth its weight in gold! Summer...its like the world's greatest story and its waiting to be told!" 

Summer is (almost) here! I have 8 days of school left and that's only with about 6 or 7 students in my class. So I'd say I'm pretty much done. Im very excited about our summer. The kids will not be going to daycare so it will include things like... swimming, going to the library, maybe going to some museums, squeezing a few short trips in to Arlington, vacation bible school, a bowling birthday party for both kids, a beach vacation, and then shopping for uniforms for Kindergarten! The kids will also be staying with their grandparents for 2 (separate) weeks while Jeff and I go to youth camp and to a Houston mission trip.

Here is a little glimpse into what has happened the past few weeks...

 Carley LOVES going to Colin's tball games. She doesnt really watch him much though. She just paces around and rearranges her fold up chair 100 times. 

 The kids are all settled in their new beds! Colin has mastered getting up and down without falling. Carley has a hard time falling asleep, but once she is asleep, she never gets back up! 

 We bought the kids new water guns and spent all evening on Saturday playing, grilling, and eating out in the back. It was a blast!

This girl has my heart. She has the funnest personality! I'm so thankful for her.

Colin has been working on memorizing bible verses and has done pretty well. We focus on about one per month. I just got him out of the habit of saying, "Love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your shoulder, and all your strength..." He kind of starts running the verses together toward the end of this video, but if you know anything about Colin, you know his thoughts all run his dad. He also has a few short seizures at the beginning of the video, but doesn't miss a beat after it. I'm so thankful that so far, his seizures are minor and do not interfere too much with daily life.

Hope everyone has a great summer!

Monday, April 30, 2012

Just keep swimming...

The Notelpats life is running full force. We are very busy, but we are having fun and loving eachother. Here is a little glimpse into what has been going on...

Carley...she is a character. She is 22 months old. She will be 2 in June! I cannot believe how fast she is growing and changing. Some things she loves right now is "pushoos" (puzzles), reading books, taking her clothes off, running races with her brother, and she LOVES to sit in her fold up chair at Colin's tball games. It's actually Colin's chair...but I'm pretty sure she has claimed it and no one is allowed to sit in it but her. She is trying really hard to communicate lately, but doesn't speak clearly. So she gets frustrated when we don't understand. She has also become kind of picky and moody about food. Sometimes she eats supper...sometimes she doesn't. That bothers me, but I guess she'll eat when she is ready. One thing is for sure, you can't make her do anything. She'll do things when she is ready and if its her own idea. I have no idea where she got that from. :) I'm really enjoying my time with her lately. She's my little side kick. She goes to the grocery store with me, runs errands, follows me around the house when I clean, folds clothes with me. She's just calm and quiet and always with me. I like that. She does get loud and silly though when she plays with her brother and daddy. I am thankful for my little companion.

Colin...he is a different character! He will be 5 in July and will be starting Kindergarten! I'm a little sad that he has gotten that old, but excited that he will be going to school with me and that our child care expenses will be going down!! Some things he loves right now is tball games, playing basketball, listening to praise music/dancing, learning new verses, ping pong, Thomas the Train, "7 drink" (7-up), and going to Tumblebus at school. Pray for him, as he will be starting another medicine this week. His other medicine was working, but not enough. So we are adding another one. I'm apprehensive (like I was the first time) because of possible scary side effects. It's one thing for him to have side effects of upset tummy or dizziness. But when they talk about hallucinations,  personality/behavioral changes, etc. that bothers me. But he did well with this last medicine, so hopefully he won't have problems with the next.  The boy has always been this way, but more so lately...He LOVES his Daddy. He always wants to be with him and is devastated when he is gone. He's even been saying, "I want to ride/go with Daddy. But I'll still love you while I'm gone." I guess that's his way of telling me to not take it personally. Haha! I am thankful for my quirky, smart, sweet boy. I pray that he will do big things!

The Notelpat parental units are busy, busy, busy. It's constant communication between Jeff and I about scheduling, who is going to pick up what child and take this child here and this child there. But it always works out. I am thankful for a husband that pitches in and is actively involved. He gives baths, takes Colin to dr appointments, coaches tball, and even attempts to do Carley's hair....he tries atleast!

I've been trying to still squeeze in time for running. My awesome mom is lending me her treadmill for a while and that has made things easier for me to get running time in. I dread running, but once I start I really enjoy it and never regret doing it! I just wish I'd see results faster. But my main goal is not to lose weight but to tone. I'm doing this to have energy and to stretch out my bones. Chrons disease can cause stiff joints and I can tell a huge difference in that after I have run.

As far as our struggle that I've written about before about wondering what God has in store for our future, I've decided to chill out about it. I've spent so much time lately researching this option or that option. The Lord almost audibly said to me one day, "Don't seek an me." I realized how different things would be if I spent as much time/energy digging and longing to find out more in his word rather than trying to figure out the next step in our life. I've done that this past week and it has been rewarding. The Lord will provide an opportunity for us in his time and I will continue to seek Him while we wait on Him.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

What in the world...

I know I have blogged before about how I think everything is a great idea. I'm not apprehensive about much. I would move states or even countries, go back to school, change jobs, adopt, stay at home...I would do ANYTHING when it comes to life changes and following the Lord's calling. Most people say, "Oh that's a good thing! You must have an easy time obeying God." Ummm....not. It's because I've considered SO many options that I have a hard time obeying. I am easily distracted from what the Lord truly wants from my life because I am always daydreaming about "what if's." My mind is a racing jumbled mess of ideas that has left my heart unsettled and undirected. It's not that I don't want to obey, it's that I don't know what we're supposed to do. Jeff and I can see ourselves do a number of different things with our life. Our amazing pastor has said, "I can't imagine doing anything else but pastoring." ...I wish we could say that.

I know that God isn't as concerned as we are about the specifics of where we are living and our jobs and such. I know he just wants me to live a Christlike life and bring others to him wherever I am. I know that. But...I know that he also gives us talents, gifts, and desires to be used for his glory. And we are trying to figure out the best way for that to happen.

Here are some of my thoughts about what we desire as we struggle to find our place/direction. I thought that maybe if I narrowed down what we really desire rather than listing out places we want to go or things we want to do, then maybe things would be more clear.

1. I have to some form or fashion. It doesn't matter if it's with children in a public school, a sunday school class/small group at church, or even educating needy parents. It's what I do.

2. Jeff and I work together. I have a hard time separating myself from Jeff's ministry. I don't want to just be "the minister's wife." I want to be on the frontlines too. If it wasn't up to me to financially support our family, I would do ministry with Jeff all the time. But then again, I love my job too....See what I mean? It's confusing because I want to do it all!

3. Jeff is a visionary. He is creative and loves to dream and make things happen. But that desire can be fulfilled in 4 million ways. He could do a painting and temporarily fulfill that desire. So that's not real helpful in guiding us.

4. We are SO not good at this, but we do desire to be more relational with people. We want to make a difference in needy people's lives. Not helpful in guiding us either because there are people EVERYWHERE that need us.

*Sigh* So all of our desires seem so broad and can be used in so many different ways. Pray for us as we seek clarity and direction. No, we are not moving. I say that I would move anywhere, but I could also see myself living in Marshall for the rest of my life because I love the people here so much.

Lord, help me to put my well intentioned desires and plans aside and seek You. I want to obey you and please you with my whole life. So give me what I need to make you known today where I already am and give me guidance to make you known in the future.

"Many are the plans in a person's heart,
but it is the LORD's purpose that prevails." -Proverbs 19:21

Friday, March 9, 2012

Balance is for the birds...

My heart has been very unsettled lately. I feel like I'm not doing enough for the people whose lives I am supposed to be impacting everyday... my students and their families, the youth at my church, and even my husband and own children. I told Jeff last night that the only way I know how to explain it is that I feel like I'm just giving people an obligational pat on the back instead of a full on embrace. I have been racking my brain trying to figure out how I can fix this problem and end up feeling discouraged because its hard to balance it all without focusing too much on one area and ignoring another.

I absolutely know that I am not the only woman that struggles with this. But I am sick and tired of trying to balance the different areas of my life. I go to work and feel guilty that I'm not with my kids and wish I were with them. I go home with my family and feel guilty that I didn't stay a little later to really prepare for the next day for my students. I drop my kids off at a sitters to go to a youth event and feel guilty for leaving them. I bow out of a youth event to stay home with the kids and feel guilty that I wasn't there for the youth. And all throughout this day in day out process I am basically worrying and wishing life away.

We have always been told that we just need to find a good balance.

Well I am pretty convinced at this point in life that balance is not always a good thing. I have a hard time finding it in the first place. The few times that I do find it, I am constantly wondering how "balance" is glorifying to God.

So why not just chunk the whole idea of finding balance and dump all the different "lives" that I have and "roles" that I play into the same mixing bowl?

...I know. It doesn't really make sense to me yet either, but I am determined to try it and see if it makes a difference.

Why balance is a bad thing...
It is stifling. It puts time restraints and limits on how much of my heart I am going to give to something. Balance says that I will only give this amount of love/energy so that I won't feel guilty for not giving the same amount to this other person/thing. Sure that might be beneficial to protect my own feelings. But how in the world is that benefiting the good of others? Balance diminishes full potential and purpose. It leaves little room for God to work and give us strength in what we do when we are the ones trying to manage and control when and how much we are going to do and give.

"And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him." -Colossians 3:17

"I can do everything through him who gives me strength." - Philippians 4:13

I can only imagine that a person who fully embraces these 2 verses would have fewer problems integrating their roles into one big God glorifying purpose.

Now...I'm not really quite sure how this integration of roles in my life should look like. I have a few ideas. I envision my son playing with a needy kid in my class while I talk and build a relationship with the kid's mother. I've always wanted to do more with my job as a teacher and wanted to take it outside of school hours, but always thought, "No, I have a family...I can't do that." Well, why the heck not? Why not, bring my family along and have them build relationships with the other members of that family too? Same thing applies with youth ministry. Teenage girls (and boys too even) love being around my kids. And my kids are pro's at killing awkward silence when meeting one-on-one with a youth. Why not bring them along or invite a teenager over. My family should not have to be separated from that. And all the while, my kids would be seeing us building relationships and sharing God's love with others. In return, it would only be more natural for them to do that on their own when they are grown.

The above paragraph is my desire. I don't know if I can make that happen or not, but it sure does sound a lot more freeing and God-driven than finding "balance" in my life. What are your thoughts?

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Simple Woman's Daybooks

For Today, Thursday, February 23rd

Outside my window...absolutely beautiful day! I went running this morning and the weather was perfect. After school we rode bikes/wagons around the block and jumped on the trampoline. I LOVE being outside and hate any kind of weather that stops me from going out.

I am remembering...Why I wanted to be a teacher in the first place. Sometimes I get stuck in a rut. I haven't been feeling unhappy with teaching, but had felt like I had lost a little passion for it. But after having a student teacher and not being able to have my class to myself for a while made me miss it bad! I also remember telling myself in college that I felt called/wanted to be at a low-income school/area. I know that sounds don't have to understand me. And I definitely am in that place...and I love it. I'm not saying it doesn't stink sometimes or that I don't want to bawl my eyes out at the end of some days, but its just what I need to do and have to do.

I am thankful husband. He does little things all the time to help me out. Give the kids a bath, load the dishwasher, go get a huge list of groceries. But the other day I sent him a text saying that I had forgotten my students folders and a stack of important papers at home and saying that I was tired and dragging. He showed up at my school about 30 minutes later with the folders/papers, a Diet DP and a "hidden message" in the folders that said, "I hope you have a great day." Love that man.

I am creating...I was just thinking that I had not really created anything in a while. Hadn't had much time for it. I have been thinking about buying some canvases for the kids to paint on to hang in our play room. The room is done, but needs wall art and I might also sew some curtains to hang down there.

I am going...well COLIN is going to start T-ball lessons next week! I'm so excited. His team will be the Pirates!

I am reading...Finished Radical (Loved it!) and have not picked up a new book yet. Still debating on what to read. I have a TON of books here and already on my kindle to choose from. Just a matter of picking which one to read. But I am reading through the book of Romans and loving it. Good stuff.

I am hoping...Colin's correct dosage of medicine is reached quickly. We up the dose about once a month. Every time I see improvement, so it IS working, but its a slow process of slowly upping it. I'm just impatient I guess. But praise God that it works for him without all the crazy personality/mental changes that it does for some kids. I was extremely fearful of all of that when we started him on the meds.

On my mind...foster care or adoption...still. I really think we will eventually do it. We just want to wait a few years.

From the learning rooms...just enjoying being back with my kiddos. We are reading leveled books every week, counting objects up to 20, writing stories everyday, and learning about living and non-living objects. Next Friday is Dr. Seuss Day and then the next week we will begin our Texas unit (my favorite!!!)

Pondering these words..."I think we forget that having faith in God involves us being faithful TO God." -Jeff Stapleton

From the kitchen...We've done ENTIRELY too much eating out/eating on the go because of our crazy schedules lately. But I have full fridge thanks to Jeff. Tonight is fend for yourself, but tomorrow will be fried egg burgers!

Around the house...I'm so ready to buy some potted flowers for my front porch. Its looking rather dull out there. Flowers and plants really make me smile.

One of my favorite things... Carley's giggle. It is a sound that spreads joy. I could be in tears, and her laugh and smile can change it all. She has also starting "Love you" but it sounds like "La-Shu." I love her.

A picture from my album... We had an eventful weekend. Jeff's sister, Jenni, had baby Eli. Colin was also the ring bearer in the wedding for Jeff's cousin, Kristin's, wedding. So here are pictures of 2 very special and precious boys.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Dear 21 year old me...

I guess since Valentines Day is approaching, I wanted to honor my husband, Jeff, by posting this letter. This is a letter that I wrote to myself. I wrote it today but am addressing my past self...myself 8 years ago when we were first married.

Dear 21 year old me,

You didn't know what you were doing. You didn't know who you were marrying. You thought you were marrying Prince Charming. You thought you were marrying innocence. You thought you were marrying someone who was going to work his way up in the technology department and eventually make some big bucks. You thought y'all were going to work really hard to save a ton of money and buy a huge house and boat and nice cars. You thought marriage and life was going to be a breeze and you'd live happily ever after.

You didn't know that he would break your heart and disappoint you. You didn't know that he wouldn't be able to meet all your needs. But you also didn't know that he was never intended to because there is a God who CAN meet all your needs.

You didn't know that God would take hold of his heart the way that He violently did. You thought you were already in love with him. You didn't know that watching his heart be radically changed by God would not only capture your heart but would change your own heart as well.

You didn't know that the man you married could be so disciplined and hard working. You didn't know how extremely intelligent and creative he was. You didn't know how much he would end up loving to read and didn't know that he would lay in bed next to you and read EVERY night for hours on end. You also didn't know that he would hog the dinner conversations to talk about things he was passionate, guitars, and the re-telling of what he'd read so far in his current nightly readings. You didn't know that he'd be so different from you but that his character would fascinate you so much. You didn't know that your opposite personalities would work so well together.

You didn't know that he would actually follow through with obeying God's call to the ministry. You didn't know how much he would teach you about God's word and God's character. You and him both said that you'd NEVER do youth ministry. You didn't know that you would...and that you would work together to do it...and actually love it. You didn't know that you'd both make pay cuts by moving and starting ministry. You didn't know that there would be some months that yall would crunch numbers and wonder how you'd make it. But you also didn't know that God would always provide.

You didn't know that he would make you feel the way he would. That when you were trying to be mad at him and yell at him that he would end up making you laugh with a dumb facial expression or a stinky fart. And that on the worst days of your life, you'd just want him and no one else.

You didn't know that he would start losing his hair or that you'd see wrinkle lines around his eyes when he smiles. But you didn't know that for some reason he'd be so much more handsome to you now than he was when you married him.

You didn't know that watching him be a Daddy would give you such a clear picture of God's love for his children. You didn't know how much of a huge role he'd play in raising our kids. You didn't know how LOUD he could be when playing with them or how overly excited the kids would be every time they hear that carport door open upon his return.

You didn't know it would be this hard, but you didn't know that it would be this rewarding. You didn't know you would be capable of loving someone this much. You didn't know you would thank God for him everyday.

A thankful wife of almost 8 years

Friday, February 3, 2012

Sanctity of Life...

This has always been a big debate between Christians and Unbelievers. Pro-life or Pro-choice. I want to share with you some bits and pieces from our pastors sermon a few weeks ago. These thoughts are not mine, but come from the heart of a man of God, and more importantly, come from the Bible.

Love = an intentional action which counters all forms of hatred, indifference, and violence towards anyone, with the love that they have received from God through Christ.

Hate = the devaluing or indifference of human life.

1 John 3:11 commands us to love one another. Verse 16-18 tells us how to do that.

"This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers. If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him? Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth."

The Sanctity of Life involves WAY more than just the topic of Pro-life vs. Pro-choice. It has everything to do with love vs. hate. The Sanctity of Life is not an idea to protect just the unborn. It is to protect and value ALL life. So things like racism, salvery, abuse/neglect of children and elderly, and pornography are all issues that deal with the devaluing of God's finest creation.

It boils down to hate and selfishness. A friend of mine quoted on facebook, "Since when did our 'choice' hold value over 'human life?'" He said this in reference to abortion, but how true is that for the way that Christians and non-Christians alike choose to hate and devalue the life of another. I find it interesting that many Christians (including myself) think, "Well yeah, I love others. I'm not mean, I would never hurt a fly." But the kicker is in verse 17 above for me... indifference is included as a form of hatred. Choosing to do nothing about a person in need is devaluing their life and is therefore, hatred. Dang...

I just recently read a debate on facebook between some mutual friends. There was about 45 comments worth of arguments defending pro-life or pro-choice. It was very sad to me that someone would have so much hatred and bitterness built up that they felt their rights or choices were more important than someone that God created. Yet at the same time, it saddens me when Christians spend more time and energy trying to prove they are right than they do loving those who are lost. In the definition of love that I typed earlier in this post it said that love is an action that counters hatred "with the love they have received through Christ." Why would you expect someone to be "pro-life" if they have not received love through Christ?

I'm not saying that we as Christians shouldn't speak against abortion or racism or any of those other issues. We are most definitely called to stand up for the justice of others. But the root of the problem is not found in the depths of a debate on abortion. The root of the problem is that we cannot truly love others unless we have experienced the unconditional love of Jesus Christ.

Friday, January 27, 2012

In an effort to get me out of my funk...

I've been in a funk this week. I have a terrible sinus infection so I feel like poo and have just been emotional and insecure. So, instead of complaining about it or talking about anything too serious, I just want to write a light hearted and fun post. It will be of no benefit to you, but here goes it...

10 things you need to know about me...

1. I love Jesus. Like really. I've struggled for a long time with having a lack of passion for him and feeling like I'm not 'in love' with him. But I've realized lately how much that has changed over the past few years. I still have a long way to go, but I love him and depend on him. He has my heart.

2. I love garage sales and flea markets. And I love them even more because my husband loves them too. That is like a dream date for us. I love Canton...and I don't mean the cute boutique stuff at the front. I like to bypass all of that and get into the section toward the back where you weed through people's old crap. Its so exciting!

3. I do not like animals. I'm not scared of them or grossed out by them. I promise I don't hate your dog or cat. I just don't get attached and I sure as heck don't want to take care of one either. So I will be that mom that tells my kids NO when they ask to keep a pet. Colin, however, does not like animals either so I'm pretty sure he won't ask.

4. Words are important to me. They make me feel loved or unloved. A little compliment can keep me going for a long time. An insult can rock my world. And a lack of words or wasted, useless words are even worse.

5. I don't require a lot from friends. I need friends and love them, but feel like I'm a crappy friend in return because I forget that other people need more from me than I might expect from them. Don't know if that even makes sense.

6. I wish I was a better reader. I think people who read a lot are so cool. I enjoy reading, but it takes me forever because I have to reread a lot to understand OR I fall asleep.

7. I fall asleep super fast. I could sleep standing up. When my head hits the pillow at night, I'm usually out in 2 minutes.

8. I want to learn to play the cello...BAD! It is absolutely my favorite, favorite instrument ever!

9. I'm super excited about Colin starting T-ball this spring, but nervous about being around other T-ball moms. I know I'll learn, but I know nothing about sports. I wouldn't know if my son did something wrong or not. And I'm certainly not competitive or hard core about it all. I hope there is atleast one other mom there that will be like me!

10. I love my husband and kids to pieces. I feel like I'm cool by association with them. Haha! Jeff is just a fun man to be around. His brain fascinates me...and so do his looks! *wink wink* And Colin is so affectionate and quirky and intense. He is a neat kid. And my Carley is an independent girl with a fun and happy personality. I just love love love them.

Friday, January 6, 2012

What to do...

I have never claimed to be a good or organized writer, and I'm certainly not claiming that today. My thoughts and desires are all over the place. As I attempt to convey what is on my mind and heart...I apologize if you leave my blog more confused than when you started.

I am notorious for thinking everything is a great idea. Im not usually apprehensive about life changes. This can be a good thing, but sometimes it leaves my mind confused and my heart unsettled. Jeff can even tell you the list of things that I have mentioned in the last year that we should do with our life. I've mentioned mission work, moving, job changes, you name it! So, with all of these "ideas" flying through my head I find it difficult to be obedient to God. Which one (if any) are we to do, God?

I wanted to share my latest thought with you. Now, I'm not saying we ARE going to do anything. I'm just saying its been heavy on my heart for a few months and I want to look into what this looks like for our family. The word "orphan" has been heavy on my heart. The Bible commands us in James chapter 1 to take care of the widows and orphans. This idea of taking care of orphans used to be an 'option' but has now turned into a command for me.

I have thought and prayed about foster care and possibly adoption. It makes my heart race when I even say those words. For one, because it stirs my heart and for two, because it scares the crap out of me. It just seems so messy. Financially and emotionally. I mean not having any idea what this child might be like that is about to join your family and then getting attached and then being heartbroken when that child is ripped from your arms to go somewhere else. And I don't want to even think about what that will mean for us financially.

Every time that the Bible's command to take care of the orphans has been mentioned lately those words, "foster care" come to mind. Every time I read scripture about justice, the words "adoption" come to mind too.

Micah 6:8 says, "He has shown you, O man, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God."

For some reason it seems like taking care of the orphans is ALL OVER that verse. Maybe its just me, I don't know. But what a complete injustice it is for a child to not have a place to call home. What an injustice it is for a child to be ripped from their mother or father's arms...even if it DID need to happen for the good of that child. A good friend of mine always says, "To a child, a bad mother is better than no mother at all."

And lately I think about my own children. Its not fair that my sweet kids get to come home everyday knowing that they will be loved and fed...and other children dont know that. Now I'm not saying that I have a perfect home or that we are perfect parents. We yell, we spank...alot, and I will even admit that "not nice words" are known to come out of my mouth when my patience is thin. No we are not perfect. But yes, our family loves each other and we are all taken care of. Why should we hoard the joy that we have in our home for just us. We were never intended to keep what God has given us for ourselves. Whether that be money, resources, talents, time, or even loving homes. Why not open our home to a child that has no idea that this kind of love even exists.

I recently heard a song that says, "I don't have to worry and I don't have to be afraid. Cause you are God. Yes, you are God." That one line spoke to me on so many levels. If I were to choose this path of somehow taking care of an orphan, I don't have to worry or be afraid of the messiness of it all because He is God! But then also, I wonder how many orphans or displaced children even know that they don't have to worry or be afraid. Do they even know this God?

I know I cannot change the world. But what a joy (and a trial) it would be for one child to not have to be afraid. For one child to join our family...even if only temporarily...and to come to know this God.

So there are my incomplete thoughts and desires. No I'm not saying we are going to do this. I'm not saying we are not. This could be the first step of something that could come a few years later, or it could be another one of my crazy ideas that will fade away once I get a new idea. In all honesty, I kind of hope it doesnt fade away, because we are commanded to do something about this injustice. Now, I know some of you might be thinking "You are taking this too seriously...You can just send a little money here or there or pray for the orphans and thats good enough." I've thought that myself. But if this is heavy on my heart, and I ignore it, then I am afraid of what I might miss out on that God has in store for us. And I would hate for a child to miss out on what God has in store for them. I don't want to compromise God's will for "good enough."