Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Weak Muscles (and days 13-16 of kid devos)

Oh man, oh man.  I'm worn out.  Have you ever taken a break from working out and then get back into the gym and after a couple of days you are spent?  Your muscles are so sore that you just want to sleep for days on end and not move.  Well... that's exactly how I feel except Spiritually.  (I'm sure if I made it to the gym my muscles would feel sore too, but that's for a different day).

I really can't share too much, because I'm really that exhausted, but this weekend was a life changing girls weekend in Malibu (okay, woman's retreat, but I'm not old enough to go to one of those, so I refuse to call it that, so instead we went to a girls weekend in Malibu).  Wow, did God want me to die to myself.  Who knew that I was my biggest idol?  Ever since then, I've been seeing God's work and His Kingdom in a whole new light, and Jesse's been experiencing the same thing too.  It's almost as if God is going to get ready to do something in us, but first wants us to know that without a shadow of a doubt, we're nothing.  Our name is not great, it will not ever be great.  Our ministry is never going to be ours... wow, what a concept - His Ministry is HIS, and He wants to get the Glory and HIS name shall be made great.  Again,what a concept.  But stupidly, I think I was trying to make it about me, and I didn't even realize it until it hit me like a huge ass bus, right in the face.  Then instead of blood and broken bones, I had snot and more snot and more snot.  I guess it took me that beat down to realize I needed to be humble.  The whole experience was covered by His Grace, which made it bearable and fruitful and exciting.

But now, J and I are just plain tired.  It's like our eyes have been opened.  And we're so expectant now.  We are longing for him to move mightily and are honored that we just get to be on His ride.  He's moving and doesn't have to include us, but graciously is and that is humbling.  I feel the Holy Spirit preparing us for change but I don't know what that is... home?  work?  family? We know he's moving in crazy ways through church, but I think there's more and I can't wait to see what that is...

Until then, I'm plugging away with my kids and our Lenten Devos.  Here are days 13-16.  Enjoy.


Thursday, February 21, 2013

Days 9-12, It's totally not too late to start

Here you go! DAYS 9-12.  I am so happy to be sharing with you what my kiddos and I are doing.  I LOVE hearing feedback from you, just little "hey, we're doing this."  I feel blessed by that, so thank you.  And, will you please let me know if you're kiddos are doing it as well?  If you haven't started and feel like it's too late...haha, it's TOTALLY NOT.  That's SO my personality... welp, I missed that one, so we'll wait until next year.  Let me help you out, if this is you...

1)  They can take as long or as short as you need them too - it's totally doable to do multiple days at a time.  For advent, we did this... we started 1/2 through the advent season and we just talked about 2 passages of scripture and then each kid colored only 1 of the pictures.  We caught up in no time.

2) ALSO, there are more than 40 days from Ash Wednesday until Easter.  Sundays are free (mini-Easters as some say).  So you have extra days built in. :)  We're starting day 9 tomorrow, but you don't have to be there yet, or you could have been waiting for me to publish this round... sorry you overachievers... I'm a procrastinator.

3)  If you feel overwhelmed, I haven't ordered anything really in chronological order except Holy Week (the week leading up to Easter) so no one will know if you skip days, well except God and me, because he tells me things, and then I might get really offended. ;)

Doing Lent with my kids has, in essence, made me do Lent - I can't really tell you the last time that I had intentional space and time with God every day by myself.  Life gets overwhelming and SO busy.  I might hit a few days a week, or month, or year of real quality time with my Savior, but when I get my kids involved... holy smokes, they are bad ass accountability partners.  "Mom, can we do our 40 days of Lent."  "No, we can't go to bed, because we haven't done our devotions."  "Dinner can wait, we need to spend time with Jesus."  hahaha... yes, all true quotes from my 4 year olds.  Even my 1 year old is in on it.  She lasts only for 30 seconds, but she loves the coloring.  They might only be in it for the coloring right now, but they are totally grasping each story and pulling wisdom from the Scripture themselves.  I love how these scriptures are truly being meditated over by my 4 year olds.  I can totally learn something from my babies.

I would love to hear how you're spending your Lent.  If you're doing the 40 days of Lent for kids... shoot me a love note.  If you're doing something else, share it - I would love to hear, get inspired, steal your stuff, etc.

Prayers for my Mr as he is single daddy this weekend.  This mama is going away, with her girlfriends, to meet Jesus, and to sleep a whole night (2 whole nights) through without a kid (or husband..ehem ehem) waking me up at all hours of the night.  Excited.  Hopeful.  Desperate for sleep and God.

x, b

Friday, February 15, 2013

God meets us even in the tests! (and link to new kid devos at bottom)

Oh lovie ones.  How was your Valentine's Day?  We celebrated a little early, on Monday with a MUCH needed overnight, away from the kids.  It was pure bliss.  Let me let you live vicariously through me just for a moment...

We begin our 24 hours away at a local eatery where everything is grown there - totally fits my philosophy when it comes to food.  (If it were up to me, I'd live on a commune with all my friends where we could sustain ourselves and I'd be drinking wine, riding a horse, and wearing a flowy white long skirt.  Our kids could run back and forth to our friends home and there'd never be a care in the world, but we'd love Jesus - not one of those cult things that go on... anyone in?  Okay, so that was a tangent...)  After eating at Greenleaf, where we just shared a salad, we drove down to a dreamland called Carlsbad.  A tiny little beach city located about an hour south of us.  We ended up at Pizza Port sharing a little pizza and having a beer.  Delicious.  THEN... we made it to our lovely hotel around 3.  As cute as Carlsbad is, we saw NONE OF IT!  Seriously, 20 hours in a hotel room w/ my husband.  Delightful.  No banging on the door from kids, being able to watch tv, take a bath, kiss my hubby, wear or not wear clothes. ;)  Oh, and take a 4 hour nap in the middle of the day.  I'm telling you BLISS.  We did venture out to get sushi at some point, it was late, but who cared because we got to sleep in in the a.m.  PURE BLISS.  When we made it back to the hotel around 10p that night, we went to the hot tub with our little skinny girl margaritas in a coffee to-go cup because we're that cool, and then played ping pong. Again - because we could.  It's SO fun reconnecting with your best friend.  Jesse truly is my best friend, but sometimes that relationship gets lost between poopy diapers, a crazy daredevil of a 1 year old and refereeing my 4 year olds.  We only have 6 more weeks of classes and then my best friend, lover, husband gets to come back to us.  After 6 years of seminary, we're ready to serve together, not just do homework and class.

THEN, our Valentine's Day yesterday was a scary one.  It sucked, it was draining and a total trigger from 2009.  But we got to see God show up, answer prayer, and make us practice patience and trust.  For 2 hours yesterday, we thought I had breast cancer.  The doctors were convinced that something was going on, and that there was in fact an abnormal lump.

You see, I had gone in for my woman's yearly - NO BIG DEAL.  I actually love my doctor and wish I could be her best friend, but I only see her 1x a year.  She's so funny, sweet, caring, and GOOD.  So in the midst my boob hanging out and her fondling me we were chatting about our newest addition to our family, Miss Sophia Journey and the very free spirit she is.  As Dr. W is laughing at the stories I'm telling her of Fia free-falling onto to pillows on the ground from our couch and her constantly said "Fia, get down!" when she climbs on top of tables (YES, she takes the words right out of my mouth and then claps for herself) my doctor's face changed.  It became worried, concentrating on something she felt.  As soon as she stopped laughing, I remembered a lump I had felt 2 months ago or so, but then life got busy, I forgot, and then I was kicking myself for not remembering.

She immediately had the breast center here get me in (it happened to be next door).  I had to wait 30 minutes before I was seen.  In that 30 minutes I was having flashbacks of when I went in for a "cold" and came out with cancer Christmas, 2009.  This was NOT where I wanted to be.  Jesse was at home, but I was told I wouldn't find out any results that day, so it wasn't a big deal for me for him to be there.  I also shot out a quick text to my bffs and had them pray for me.  I also cried out for God to meet me and for Him to let me know He was there.  I was called back to a room, and the ultrasound lady gave me a minute to get undressed.  In those 5 minutes when I was alone in the room, my breast, right where the lump was burned so hot and so painfully, I was sure that God had met me.  After my ultrasound, a doctor who specializes in breast cancer came in, she immediately found the lump and tried to repeat the ultrasound, but nothing was there.  She sent me to get a mammogram right away, and it looked perfect.  She was baffled.  She told me because I have a higher risk of cancer given my history and family history, that she wanted to check me again in 3 months on a certain day of my cycle (apparently boobs have a "quiet" time...haha) but she thinks she'll declare me as having "no cancer" then.  I'm telling you - not a fun 2 hours for either J or myself, but wow - having to trust God in the not knowing, and being able to tell Him I would trust Him even if the worst came to be true was huge for me, for us.  He keeps refining us, and it's painful, but at least I see purpose for it.  I don't know if that hot feeling/burning sensation was God's healing or Him letting me know He was there, but it was comforting.  I'm finally beginning to scrape the surface of what it means for the Almighty God, to be my Abba.  For him to not only care for my church community, may family, the CHURCH at large, but me specifically, to love me specifically.  To love the one named Brandi, with brown eyes and a lump in her boob.  He loves ME.  And HE wanted to show me that he was there.  THANK YOU JESUS!!

I'm so hoping your Valentine's day was filled with your boobs hanging out, but for a much different and way more fun reason.

x, b

PS, haha about the devotions.  I'm so silly - my lovely, pastor of a husband, pointed out to me that I named my kid devotions INDULGENCE which means the full or partial remission of temporal punishment due for sins...OOPS, hopefully I didn't offend anyone.  I really meant the opposite of "to fast" which I thought "to endulge" would be good, but wrong spelling makes it completely wrong.  GRACE folks.  AND, yes. Jesus wasn't tempted by dessert, but in the desert.  Maybe a Freudian slip.  What can I say?!  Here is the updated, for lack of better name: 40 Days of Lent for Kids: DAYS 1-4 and newly added DAYS 5-8

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

40 Days of Lent for Kids, days1-4

You didn't think I'd do it did you... well, here it is! :) 40 DAYS OF LENT FOR KIDS, DAYS 1-4 Granted it's just days 1-4, but still.  SUPER DUPER DISCLAIMER:  I'm not computer or blog savvy at all, at all, at all.  So, yes - there's probably another way to upload the PDF or get the columns and pictures to align better in the devo - but I'm a crazy busy mama, details are just going to have to slide.  (however, if you know a better way - LMK, I love suggestions.  Sorry it ain't all pretty.)

Here's my vision for this:  I totally stole the idea from the Jesse Tree where you read scripture and color an "ornament" everyday the month leading up to Christmas (I guess I could have just said December, duh - it's been a long day!) teaching you and preparing you for Jesus' birth.  Well, although my Christmas tree did just get taken down not too long ago, it's actually not up, so I'm not making ornaments with the kids, but more like stringing the coloring rectangles everyday and hanging the garland, for us - in our entry way so my babes can show off their work to whomever walks in.  I'm curious as to what you'll do with yours.  Let me know.  Share your ideas.

I'm excited to start this journey of Lent with my kiddos and I hope these are encouraging to you as well.  Of course, I wrote this with a very specific audience in mind - two 4 year olds and a 1 year old, but even if you have older kids - do the Bible reading together and there's SO much you could discuss.  Let me know if you need any direction.

A little secret.  I used to be a youth leader in my former life, I mean, I did go to school for Christian Education Leadership and have my degree in youth pastoring...haha. But wow, it feels so long ago so I'm a little rusty, no judging.  Plus my sweet age was more like 11-18.  I loved those junior high and high schoolers.   But hey, now I have myself a young brood.  So we're doing bible reading and corny coloring because that's what they love. I hope your babes will like it too.

x, b

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Yes, it's been awhile!

Oh it's been a hell of a season over here, hence the absence of me.  Well, let me keep it short (ha!) - I'm so incredibly rejuvenated and I'm about to explode, there's so much I want to tell you.  But really, God is so gracious to me and for some reason, lets me in.  Why?  I have no idea.  But, I am excited to tell you that I'm inspired.  Inspired to invite you into my Fast for Lent, but really it's not a fast at all - it's an overindulgence - I guess?  Is that the opposite of fasting?  Well, let's be honest - I suck at fasting, or giving up anything and when I try it's all vanity related.  "I'm fasting carbs, sweets, wine, and more wine for Jesus." (haha - or so I can fit into a bikini which I haven't even become close to doing for the last 5 years???) So, this year, God has invited me to spend more time with Him and really pouring His love and His STORY into my family these next 40 days.  Here's a little glimpse of how He called me to this unique fast this season.

Sammy, is my almost 5 year old, going to 10!  (He's from Ghana and we really don't know his age - we, along with our agency made the best educated guess we could - but I think we're a little off.  That, or God gave me a really really intelligent and smart little booger.  Sometimes too smart for his own good.)  Anywhoo... here are some questions my little boy has been pondering and asking over the last few days:
     "Mom, did Jesus get hurt while he was on the cross?...Does it hurt to die?... I don't exactly get why it was fair for him to die when he did nothing wrong.  So, it was a nail like this (as he holds up a fork from the silverware drawer) that someone pounded into Jesus' wrists that starts on top and then goes all the way through?  Who could do that to someone? Why didn't His Dad stop it?  Isn't His dad, God?  My daddy would never let something like that happen." And you wonder why I don't think he's 4 1/2 years old. 

We did a Jesse Tree project for Advent where we read a certain Bible Story every day followed by some coloring/craft of some sort leading up to Christmas.  Oh yes, I didn't do them some of the days while others we doubled up - so eventually they all got hung and the kids literally BEGGED me to do them everyday.  I loved this idea so much that I've been on the hunt for a Lent version - I cannot, for the life of me find one.  So - I guess I'll invent my own to share with you. :)  I'm partnering it up with some Bible verses our church is reflecting on every day and I'm really excited to see how God pours into my kids, myself, and my husband these next 40 days and I hope that you'll comeback tomorrow and check out what I've put together.  In the meantime, check out I WAS A STRANGER for verses that we'll be reflecting on.

I'm hoping you too will join me in a little Jesus indulgence too this season.  My hope is that my daily reflections that I post here will be encouragement for you, if I'm honest - that they'd really be encouraging to me!!  I find Jesus meets me when I write, maybe because it's one of the only times I'm not distracted by the 3 beauties he gave me.  Crazy huh, when you slow down, you hear the voice of God.  It's not that He is always quiet, it's that He's often drowned out by chaos, poopy diapers, arguing kids, even laughter and silliness.

x, b