Embrace the Process.

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Wearing her shinguards so “her shins won’t get hurt at school.”
My daughter, Kate, has been anticipating turning five for roughly the past 364 days of her life. Five is the fix for EVERYTHING according to her. It is when she is going to be “big”, when she is going to eat all of her dinner, when she is going to be able to run longer and faster, you name it. She has this milestone on a pedestal because this is when she feels she will have made it in life.

Yesterday, she turned five.

None of her hopes and dreams for five came to fruition.

She came downstairs that morning, sat with my husband, looked at her leg next to his and started crying because he was still bigger than she was. The fact that she was five didn’t provide any type of change she could see.

Change doesn’t happen overnight.

This rings true in every aspect of our lives. If you want to get fit; one workout isn’t going to whip you into shape. If you want to improve your marriage; one hard conversation isn’t going to fix all of your problems. If you want to deepen your walk with Christ; going on one retreat or attending one service isn’t going to create lifelong devotion.

Change takes time. Change takes discipline. Discipline means you go on that run even when no part of you wants to. It means broaching subjects that are uncomfortable with your loved ones. It means reading, journaling, and praying even when you are tired and surely don’t have another moment to spare in your schedule.

The change process is where we learn about ourselves. Are you the type that looks for excuses not to do things or do you make things happen no matter what? Taking on a new discipline isn’t easy but Hebrews 12:11 says “No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.”

That change you want, it’s worth it. Keep going.

It is so easy to live in the mindset of the “when.” Kate’s “when” was turning 5. Everything was going to be better then. We all have these; for some it is when I get married,when I get that promotion, when I don’t have to carry diapers in my purse anymore, when we sell the house, when we go on that vacation, etc. If we constantly seek the next thing we can’t enjoy what is in front of us.

Instead of hoping for that elusive “when” in your life that will undoubtedly turn into something else; let’s embrace the process and the now that is presented to us.

 

 

Whose house is it?

When I was 15 years old I was on a soccer team that was in the process of looking for coach. One night at practice we were brought together for a meeting and our team manager announced who our new coach was going to be. When they said the name, the first thing out of my mouth was “that guy used to live in my basement!” If you want to get a lot of weird looks, be a teenage girl and announce to your peers that a 30-something man used to live in your basement.

This was pretty normal fare at my house growing up. We had a few different people live with us for a summer or so. My parents made it a point to show uncommon hospitality. The difference between them and so many American Christians is that they know their house isn’t just for them. 

As a Christian, having economic means or having a large house becomes problematic at times. If you follow after Christ and you have a large home you have probably wrestled at some point with downsizing and using those extra funds for Kingdom work like missions, giving, etc.

It’s not wrong to have a big house. It’s more about why you have a big house and what you use it for. 

If you bought a 10,000 square foot home only so people could look at you and say, “wow, they are a big deal” then that’s problematic. Matthew 19:24 states “Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.” Money distracts us, deters us, and we all too often think it defines us. The reason the Rich man struggles to enter the Kingdom isn’t because he has economic means, it’s because of his heart and his motives.

Being generous doesn’t solely mean you can write a large check to a cause, you can be generous in ways other than just giving money. Your home can be a source of generosity.

Our houses shouldn’t be just for us. This looks different in various seasons of life. When we only had one kid we had a few different people live with us for extended periods of time. One time it was a friend from home who was moving to Houston and was in a state of transition. This was probably the best decision we ever made because she thought doing dishes was therapeutic. One time it was my brother who needed somewhere to land for a few months between college graduation and starting his first job. He did not think doing dishes was therapeutic but we had some great times and some really heated games of Scattergories. Then one summer we housed two of Clint’s youth interns so we had a baby and a frat house upstairs.

When you open your doors and use your guest rooms for their actual intention, guests, it reaps relational benefits for all parties involved. For empty nesters this may look like taking people in, for some it may look like becoming foster parents or providing respite care.

Your house may be maxed out on space for long-term guests but your house can still be used for ministry. In your kitchen you can make a dinner for a friend who is undergoing chemo treatments or for a family who is welcoming a new baby. On your back porch you can sit and talk with a friend who is going through a rough patch. At your dining room table you can share a meal with that neighbor you are wanting to know better, a family who is new to the area, or that new colleague at work.

We all have things we can be generous with. It doesn’t have to be money; it can be our time, our talents, and in some cases a spare room.

And someday I hope and pray our kids get confused looks because of all of the people who have lived in our (Texas) basement.

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Not our house 

 

 

7 Reasons you should work at Summer Camp.

The College years are a selfish time.

It’s all about you. Your schedule. Your major. Your classes. You. For 4(ish) years the only thing people are going to ask you about is you.

But they don’t have to be.

You see, you have time during college that you won’t have in any other season of your life. You have the longest summers ever; use it well.

The natural inclination for most college students is to find an internship to get a foot in the door for jobs down the road. But you know what, you are probably going to work a 9-5 for the rest of your life so why start before you have to?

You should work at a summer camp instead. Here’s the reasons why:

  1. The focus is off of you. For that week/month/entire summer you aren’t worried about yourself or your needs. You are solely focused on pouring into your campers or the task at hand, not you.
  2. You learn to be flexible. With your diet, your exercise regimen, your comfort level, your limits. There’s nothing comfortable about sleeping on a wooden floor in 100 degree temperatures surrounded by nature. But if you can adapt here you can adapt anywhere. This is a life skill that is useful in whatever you do with your life; parenting, the work force, etc.
  3. You learn to truly depend on the Lord. You reach the end of your strength after about 3 days. YOU can’t do this job but HE can. He will give you the strength, the energy, and the words to say when you let him.
  4. You learn to work with different types of people. In any work situation there are going to be people you do not see eye to eye with, people who you would never be friends with in any other context, or people that get on your last nerve. But you learn to make it work. Not by being fake but by the grace the Lord provides.
  5. You learn to be comfortable in your own skin. Would you run around your campus wearing jorts, an oversized sombrero, and painted on freckles? Probably not. But at summer camp if you aren’t doing this you are the weird one.
  6. It will make you a better parent down the road. You have had a small glimpse of the pride parents feel when their kids excel at things, the frustration of when they fall short of expectations, and the selflessness required to be a Mom/Dad.
  7. When you go back to your campus you are different. You run extra with the teammate that is struggling to finish a workout, you start asking your friends deeper questions because you are still in counselor mode, and you find yourself looking for ministry opportunities because the normal selfishness of college drives you crazy now.

So work at summer camp, it will change your life.

Turf in the Backyard: It’s not just for the Brady Bunch.

Turf.

It is the playing surface of choice for high school and youth sports. No more rained out games, field maintenance, bad bumps on the field….apart from some nasty scrapes when you fall on it, what’s not to love?

That’s why we put sprint turf in our backyard, Brady Bunch style. You read that right, we have sprint turf in our backyard.

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Watching Uncle Jake train for the NFL.

Here’s the back story.

We live in an area known as the livable forest. In keeping with the name our yard has huge trees which means our backyard is shaded pretty much everywhere, all the time.

I’m not real good with horticulture but this provides a difficult scenario to grow grass in. This shade problem also makes it difficult to read and lay out during naptime in the summer.

Grass in Texas isn’t safe anyways. There are fire ants….everywhere. There’s no freedom to roll around and frolic in a grassy field because you have to be on your guard ALL the time.

So my husband starting talking about putting turf down. At first it was a joke. Then we became Costco members and I’m pretty sure their marketing scheme is to change your life in some way every time you enter the store. Sometimes these are small changes like you get new tupperware but sometimes these are huge changes like you buy a new couch or turf for your lawn. They sell turf at Costco. This further solidified this turf lawn possibility in my husband’s mind.

But he didn’t buy that turf, because that turf costs money. You see, my husband doesn’t like to spend money. I’d say it’s possibly his least favorite thing to do.

Let’s fast forward to the week before winter break. My husband was picking up a student from a local high school and right before his eyes he saw rolls of old sprint turf piled up next to a dumpster. This was it. He had access to free turf. Mind you, if our local school district was willing to throw away this turf it had to be in really poor condition.

My husband has Fridays off so he informed me he was going to pick up the turf on that Friday. He has a habit of not realizing that school is in session or that people have work on these days. Thankfully I convinced him to get the turf on Saturday instead since the headline “Local Youth Pastor Arrested While Trespassing School Grounds and Dumpster Diving for Turf” probably wasn’t going to be the best career move.

The next dilemma was transporting the turf. We have a Minivan and a Prius. His attempts at procuring a pick-up truck were unsuccessful so he chose to use the Prius. After 8 or so trips he had attained enough turf for our yard and enough small pieces of tire to make his car impossible to resell.

Installing the turf went through the following steps:

1.He watched YouTube videos on how to lay down sprint turf.

2. He killed all of the grass that wasn’t living in our backyard.

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3.He played a huge game of Tetris in our yard trying to get all of the turf pieces to fit together.

4.He waited a few weeks and talked about properly installing the turf.

5. He reminded me multiple times that he saved us $12,000 by attaining this turf. (Since there is no chance he would have ever spent that money I’m not sure this argument is valid.)

6. He recruited some friends to assist in laying down this turf.

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I helped by standing on this piece of wood.
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Serious work going on here.

7. We went on a date one night that consisted of a Middle school basketball game, dinner, and a trip to Lowe’s to get materials to lay down the turf.

8. He and his buddies installed most sections of the turf.

As ridiculous as the turf seemed it is kind of the best. We play outside all the time now. The kids don’t just play in dirt/mud anymore. Better yet, we don’t have to water our backyard if there is yet another drought this summer. It also NEVER has to get mowed.

However, if we ever try to sell our house there are going to be a lot of confused prospective buyers. At least our home would forever be etched in their minds “Oh yeah, that house with the turf?”

So if you find yourself in a grassless backyard my advice to you is to dumpster dive for turf, watch some youtube videos, and make your backyard a sports playing paradise.

 

 

**We do have dogs. The turf drains so pee doesn’t puddle and you pick up the poop then hose it down, you’re welcome.

 

 

 

 

 

10 things that happen when your child gets the stomach flu.

The stomach flu.

You’ve gotten that fated phone call from school saying “Timmy just threw up.” Or you were driving down the road (because cleaning a carseat is definitely ideal) and a child (who was fine moments ago) starts puking everywhere.

Pukemaggedon has hit your house. Here are 10 things that happen next if you are a parent.

  1. Your child loses their ability to sit or sleep on or near any porous fabric. Unless their bed sheets are made of ponchos they are relegated to a bed made of towels.img_5405
  2. Your child has a bucket with them all the time now. If you have to go in the car with them there are at least 3 towels on hand and a bucket on their lap.
  3. You gain superhuman speed at the sound of a suspect cough. No longer are you moaning and groaning to roll out of bed, you get your feet on the ground with a NFL combine worthy 40 time while running around furniture, upstairs, and through doorways to get to the puker before everything is covered in puke.
  4. The anticipation of catching it yourself becomes too much to bear. All of the sudden you feel like a “24” character in a parking garage full of unmarked vans or a jogger on SVU. It’s coming, but you don’t know when. You also start having nausea brought on by paranoia.
  5. Eating food becomes terrifying.  Everything you eat or drink you question if you would be ok never ingesting that again because it may come up and it will be forever ruined for you.
  6. Your home becomes a temporary leper colony. No one wants what you have so your kids are off-limits, even the well ones. You start wondering if you are ever going to be able to leave the house again.
  7. You think about offering the walgreen’s pharmacy drive thru employee cash to get a few essentials. There’s no reason they can’t walk 20 feet through the store to get a gallon of milk, right?
  8. You rack your brain with everything your child could have touched that day or has ever touched in your house and you Lysol it. Then you ponder what level of Lysol to air in a confined area is even healthy for humans.
  9. On day two of lockdown you’ve reached the depths of Netflix and you are watching things that should have never been made. Things like Canimals, Baby bum music videos, and the Octonauts.
  10. When you disclose the illness to the parents of the exposed children in their class you feel like you are telling a former partner they need to be tested for STD’s.

 

Best of luck this stomach flu season and may your immune system be ever in your favor.

An Open Letter to my Husband upon the tearing of his ACL at 31.

Dear Clint,

I’m so sorry. You made quite the run as an athlete without any major injuries, or at least any that required surgery. Getting old is the worst. It’s going to be rough having to rehab and not being able to do active things.

But I’m more sorry for me.

You see, we have 3 kids (the oldest being 4) and a two-story house. Neither of those things are changing when you get surgery this week. While you are drugged up and watching Netflix I’ll be managing all of them.

Recovery is going to look a bit different than if you had done this before we had children. I probably would have taken some time off work, given you a bell to ring if you needed something, rented movies, cooked for you, and written encouraging notes on post-its all over the house. Instead, you will need to set your own alarms for when you need to take pain meds, I’ll put a case of water and snacks on your nightstand, and I’ll see you around 7:30 pm…best of luck. I didn’t drop being a nursing major solely because of Anatomy and Physiology, I discovered that compassion isn’t exactly my gift set.

Also, if you by any chance have a secret wife I don’t know about, now is the time to come forward with complete amnesty from me because I could really use her help the next couple of weeks.

Next, we need to discuss your athletic endeavors moving forward. This injury took place while playing adult league flag-football. There were a few problems with this: 1. You never played football growing up. 2. We live in Texas where Football is life and everybody that played in HS was bound for the NFL until some coach didn’t see their true potential. 3. You were playing with 20-year olds.

Whoever says 30 is the new 20 is not talking about playing sports. 30 don’t play.

There are lots of ways to get exercise; we are surrounded by running trails, we belong to a gym, and we have 3 small children you can chase. In the future if you could stay in shape by doing things that involve running in a straight line that would be fantastic. You can run races, do triathlons, or even the MS 150! However, if it involves cutting, 20-somethings, or keeping score…the answer is a firm NO. 

We will get through this. But as a small request, if someone asks you what they can do please let them know they can bring dinner, take a child or 2 or 3, or give you a ride to work.

Love Always,

Your Wifeimg_0311

 

 

20 books, 20 outlooks.

One of my goals for 2017 is to read 20 books. Originally, I was just going to read some fiction and some books by Christian authors.

Then the 2016 election cycle happened.

Amidst all of the questions I have, the biggest one I keep coming back to is “How?”

How did we get to a place where so many people are angry, frustrated, and unwilling to listen to differing opinions?

So I’m starting with me. My Dad taught me not to just complain about something, come up with a solution. So here is where I am coming from…

I am white. I am a female. I love Jesus. I have a savings account. I have a master’s degree. I have 2 parents that are still married to each other. I have 3 healthy kids that all call my husband Dad. I can go running in shorts and a t-shirt by myself and I don’t give it a second thought.  I’ve always had the ability to vote, to protest, and to speak freely. I’ve never missed a meal because of financial concerns. I’ve never had another adult hit me.

This isn’t the norm. My experience does not represent the majority.

This is normal to me; in my sheltered, upper middle class, white american life. But I’ve come to find out that most people do not live like this.

I want to know more. I want to look at life through the eyes of people who aren’t like me. I want to understand more. Obviously there are a lot of ways to do this; missions, volunteering, going to places that are outside my comfort zone, talking to strangers at parks, etc. I’m going to do these things. But I want to learn more along the way.

So I’ve changed what I am going to read this year. I am going to read 20 books that each present a different perspective from my own because the only two things that are going to change my life/views/perspective are the books I read and the people I meet. 

I’ve finished reading my first book, Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis. 

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This book is written by J.D. Vance who is 31, a Yale law graduate (against all odds), and grew up in poverty-stricken Appalachia. The stories he tells and the glance into the culture he grew up in is shocking. It’s on all of the best seller lists right now for good reason. I came away from his book with new knowledge on what the word “poor” really means and greater understanding of the problems that people face throughout that region of the country.

I am committed to learning more about people in the world this year. Whether it is about Syrian Refugees, Women in Saudi Arabia, Inner-Cities in the U.S., Mexican Immigrants, Asian-Americans, Muslim-Americans, LGBT people, etc. I want to hear their stories, to get inside their heads…even if it is just for 200 pages.

The next book I’m reading is Jean Sasson’s Princess: A True Story of Life Behind the Veil in Saudi Arabia. 

It’s just reading books but I think the more people who start listening and learning about the world around them the better off we will be. We don’t all have to agree, but we need to understand each other.

 

**I still have titles to select but here is what I have so far. Please recommend titles if you have read any that are great!

Poverty in America- Hillbilly Elegy by J.D. Vance, White Trash:The 400 year untold History of Class in America by Nancy Isenberg, Losing Ground by Charles Murray

Mexican Immigration- Captivity Beyond Prisons by Martha D. Escobar, Wall and Mirrors by David Gutierrez

African-American- Shifting: The Double Lives of Black Women in America by Charisse Jones, From #Blacklivesmatter to Black Liberation by Kenanga-Yamahtta Taylor

Refugee Crisis- City of Thorns: Nine Lives in the World’s Largest Refugee Camp by Ben Rawlence.

Muslim- Princess: A True Story of Life Behind the Veil in Saudi Arabia. by Jean Sassoon, Burqas, Baseball, and Apple Pie: Being Muslim in America by Ranya Idliby.