Being a Friend… even when it’s messy

I recently went to a retreat with women from my church. There were lots of tears shed, chocolate shared, and connections made. We all learned that we need the pieces of each other’s stories to live the fullest life that God desires us to live…. It’s God’s design. I have recently been asking God to teach me what it means to be a good friend. Facebook, Instagram, kids gymnastics, school activities, packed schedules… so many things make it easy for real friendships to become drowned out. BUT, we all long for good friendships, don’t we? …Even if our issues or introversion cause us to push them away.

So how do we do it? How do we build Godly friendships? I found some answers in the story of David and Doug. Ok, it’s actually “Doeg,” but “Doug” is my American translation. …and the story isn’t actually about Doug and David specifically, but their roles reveal something really valuable. So here’s the story (1 Samuel 22) in a nutshell:

Doug is Saul’s chief shepherd. He follows Saul, not out of relationship or honor, but rather out of fear. In fact, his name means “careful” and “anxious.” Doug is the kind of friend that has to be manipulated and enticed in order to show his loyalty. Doug sees the priests gave David the consecrated bread from the temple and he tells Saul. Why does he tattle? Telling our of the wrong motive (aka tattling) is often times about gaining status, power, or favor. (1) Doug is willing to do what it takes to gain attention from Saul. After Saul confronts and condemns the priest of feeding (literally) the “rebellion.” He tells his soldiers to kill the priest and the other men in his family. The soldiers refuse to kill God’s priests. Doug is then told by Saul to do it. He turns around and kills all but one who manages to escape. The fleeing priest who survived the masacre finds David.

David comforts him.

And here is where David teaches me a thing or two about friendship. Listen to what David says:

  1. “Stay with me. Don’t be afraid.” The priest was probably feeling more alone than ever. David responded with compassion and tenderness. Being a friend means we are making sure we stay open with each other. We don’t ignore or detach from the “hard stuff.” We implore others to not run from the support friendship can provide. Intimacy can be scary, but on the other side of that fear is a treasure that can only come from being open and broken with each other So often we are looking for answers and quick fixes to our circumstances while ignoring the fact that the struggle is where we are often refined and strengthened. I believe this is multiplied when we process through in a community of friends. As we come out of isolation, the emotional connection with friends can lessens the effects of life’s trauma. (2)
  2. “The man who is trying to kill you wants to kill me too.” David may not have known what it feels like to have your entire family slaughtered, but he could identify with running away, with feeling like your destiny is far from vision, and with feeling like you are one step away from death. David didn’t pretend to know what the priest had just experienced, nor did he try to fix his problem or act like it was no big deal. David showed sincere empathy, and reached him with compassion. This was an eye-to-eye, “I’m in this fight, too” moment. He connected and pulled him higher. I’ve learned that my compassion will be substantially limited if I’m unwilling connect with empathy. Any compassion I show without chosing to connect with their pain, lacks depth and runs the risk of looking like pity.
  3. “You are safe with me.” A good friend will surround you in your time of need. We usually can’t stop the problems in other’s lives, but we can add perspective, and lighten the load in areas that need it. Genuine friendship will combine this with #1 and 2. Without creating a safe place and emotional connection, surrounding the needs of a friend can still lack intimacy. However, when combined, they are a powerful act of friendship.

 

What do you think it means to be a good friend? What do you struggle with? Ask the Lord to show you!

If you long to be a better friend, consider praying this with me:

Dear Lord,

Thank you for being the perfect Friend to me no matter what I am going through or how I respond.  Open my eyes to see the Friend you are, and the friend that you desire me to be to those around me. I want to love well. I want to build deep community.  Show me how to be who you want me to be.  Build my empathy and compassion for my friends so that I can love well.  Free me from fear so that I can draw closer to those around me. Help me to be a vessel of unity to the Body of Christ.  In Jesus Name. Amen!

 

  1. http://www.parents.com/kids/development/social/why-kids-tattle/
  2. https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/overcoming-child-abuse/201006/stop-the-world-i-want-feel-safe
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Three Ways to Be a Better Mom

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A few days ago I woke up to SIX kids at once. Imagine it: snuggled into your fluffy, down duvet and favorite 400 count sheets collecting REM when suddenly—“Mom, MOM, mom, MOM, Moooom.” I was all like “Whoa, Nelly!” Coffee, COFFEE, coffee, COOOFFFEEEE.” It seems like mornings like this can impact my whole day. I get off on the wrong foot, and Cray-Grumpy Mom wants to run the morning. Let’s not be Cray-Grumpy Mom.  Lets read these three tips to be Sane-Happy Mom. Here they are…

  1.  Heart Posture. Motherhood calls for a lot offerings. First it’s sleep. Then when you get your sleep back you lose your peaceful mornings. Your Anthropologie budget turns into your Gymboree budget.  The hour of reading before bed turns into an hour of folding laundry. There is the added whining, the extra chores, the shriveling life… It can make it easy to feel frustrated.  But here’s a trick to help: We have to see everything thrown at us as an opportunity—an opportunity to teach, learn, stretch in our faith, grow…  But, the struggle is real, right? The benefit I have as a follower of Jesus is to know I can cast my burdens at His feet and rest in His activity in my life. I don’t have to stress. If I’m looking to Him, he will use me and make me more like Him even in the ugly or ordinary things.
  2. You deal with you. Parents, quite making your children deal with your issues. When I’m frustrated it’s easy for me to project that onto those around me. This is especially dangerous with young hearts that are easily crushed with our words, expressions, and actions. When I suddenly feel frustrated or angry, it’s important to step back, see what triggered it, and deal with my heart before I unintentionally take my issues out on the kids. Sometimes it’s difficult to take the time to take inventory of our emotions, but if we don’t, the consequences can be huge.
  3. Say Yes more. Parenting little ones can require constant mental and physical activity throughout the day.  It’s easy to say “no” to our children simply because we are drained. “No, we can’t go to the park today. Mommy is tired.” “No, you can’t play with Play-Dough right now. I don’t want another mess in the kitchen.” Saying “no” can create important structure at times, but saying “yes” nurtures and builds trust in your child. This is especially important for children from hard places. (http://empoweredtoconnect.org/building-trust-by-saying-yes/). We all have limits and responsibilities, but parenting requires connection and doing lots of things (not just needs, but also wants) outside of ourselves.

Let’s be honest, these areas don’t really allow us to “arrive.”  But as we allow the Holy Spirit to be Lord of our hearts and minds, we can trust HIM to do the work in these areas. It’s important to remember that we don’t have to strive to be an amazing mom.  We can trust Jesus to teach us and work in us.  I hope that these three things bring light to areas He wants to mold in you as He is in me.  ❤

DIY String Art Map

IMG_7124We recently put new hardwood flooring throughout our main level. By “we” I mean my husband and some of our amazing friends.  “We” also tore out a large built-in in the middle of our living area, and had to refinish some drywall. Neither of these projects are complete, and could be considered a bit of an eye sore.  I decided that despite those projects, I needed a DIY (for me: DIY therapy). *Enter DIY string art project.* I’ve loved string art since we moved into our first Colorado house in 2011. I printed off some large block letters and made a “WASH  DRY” sign with colorful string and galvanized nails for our laundry room.  It was pretty cute if I do say so myself.  I decided that that single, small project qualified me to create a massive string art world map for our new home.  🙂  Truthfully, string art is fairly simple, but can require lots of TIME.  For this project, it did indeed.

The supply list was simple:

Large Map

Level

Weather-strip Nails

Sharpie

Painter’s Tape

Embroidery String ( I used grey)

First off, I decided where I would like to create it. Since I didn’t use a board or similar material, I needed to be certain since I wouldn’t be able to move it.  Next, I hung my map using painter’s tape and a level. It would be so sad to do all of the work to end up with a crooked map, so I highly recommend NOT skipping that step. Now, it’s time to get to work. Make a LARGE cup a joe, and let’s go!

I used a sharpie to mark the spots on the map I would be putting nails.  I drew a guide with the spacing size I wanted on my thumb to help things move a little faster.  When going around small countries, I did closer spacing to maintain the shape.  I skipped small islands, and didn’t get ridiculously detailed.

After my spots were marked, I used small copper weatherstrip nails and nailed them into each of my marked spots.  I used a small stool for higher portions to help keep my nails straight.    IMG_6579

Once the nails were in I took pictures of each section with my phone.  When you remove the map, the borders can get confusing.  Picture references really help.  I tore off the map one continent at a time, and strung it before moving on.

IMG_6588 2

To add the string, I tied the end to a nail, and cut off the excess. Then I randomly wrapped the string across and around nails until I achieved the look I desired.  After I completed a section, I simply tied it off like I started it.  I tried stringing in a pattern initially but wasn’t happy with the effect.

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I may add more string to sections in the future, but overall I’m really happy with how it turned out!

String art is endless fun!  I whipped together a string art arrow in like 10 minutes the other day by staining a scrap piece of pallet, and eye-balling the nails.  You can really make it as simple or intricate as you want.

If you live in the Colorado Springs area, and are looking for a home with a wall to pound a million holes into (hehe), check out my husband’s facebook page!  He would love to help you find a home to make lovely!

Living Large …as in 10 lbs over weight with 6 kids

That’s right. We are currently the proud parents of 6 kiddos. Six kids that are ages 10 and under. We received a call from our foster agency a week ago from a worker desperately looking for a home for a 10 month old boy. “For a few days,” they said. “Until he goes to be with a relative,” they said. Oh, the drama of foster care. You just never know what twists and turns are ahead. Until we know, I get to love on an adorable, ½ Polynesian, chunk of cuteness. People act like I’m Wonder Woman when I walk into Target with a baby in a carseat, a baby on my hip, and a couple more hanging on to me. I mean, HOW, do I do it, right? LOL! Noooo super powers. Not even great biceps.  How does anyone do hard things? Here’s the secret: I just do it.

There are books, blogs, sermons, and stories dedicated to this very subject, but I believe it’s simple. I can even lay in out in two very easy steps… maybe even use unnecessary alliteration… (*insert telemarker voice*) You too, can do difficult things. Just follow my two simple steps.

  1. Know the destiny God has formed inside of you.
  2. Be brave. No really, jump.

…Ok, no alliteration.

You can skip the rest of this blog if you are like me, and don’t have a ton of time for details. Just do those, ok? ;P

I’m just going to dive into those two ideas.

  1. Know your destiny. If you don’t know, ask the Holy Spirit to guide you as you ask yourself a few questions. What makes you tick? What are you passionate about? What makes you cry? What makes you angry? Where do you want to spend your time and energy? What has God spoken to you regarding your future? Once you know, start moving towards it. There are some out there who believe that the path is so narrow that if you don’t watch, pray, fast, hear specific words from God on when and exactly how your calling should “play out.” I don’t buy it. I believe that God leads us through a narrow door (Jesus) to a wide place (narrow is the road that LEADS to life). God LOVES to watch your creativity and passions in action. As you are obediently submitted to him, he more than able to give you the course correction you need. For some of you just the freedom of being afraid of “missing it” or the freedom to dream is enough to set you soaring. For the rest of us, there’s number two.

 

  1. Be brave. Be willing. Just jump. There are a lot of people out there who know what God has called them to do, but they seem to be waiting for the perfect scenario to step into their passion and calling. Just a little secret for you: there is never a perfect time. There is always something. God likes to stretch us to fit our situations, rather than stretch our situation to fit what we think we need. When we began our journey in foster care, we had just downsized to a smaller home with two bedrooms on the main level and one in the basement. We had three girls of our own. We ended up turning our sunroom into a large bedroom for our three girls, moving Seth and I to a very tiny bedroom that barely fit our queen sized bed. This allowed our second bedroom upstairs to be available for foster kids. Our first placement was for a sibling group of 3, so talk about stretching!  So many of us think that we are willing to do something, but then we hesitate, and then–shoot! Missed that opportunity. Then we second guess next time, and–SHOOT! Missed it again. …I’ve learned that if I’m looking for a spotlight, I’m going to face some serious problems and challenges walking in my destiny, but if I’m simply looking to shine, opportunities abound. So, I want to encourage to be aware of what you are going to dive into, but don’t let it scare you or stop you.

 

If you are having trouble dreaming, or finding your passions, I would invite you to pray this with me:

Lord, I’m ready to go on an adventure with you. Where do you want to take me? Please birth your dreams in me, and show me what you have made me to do.

If you are having trouble diving into your destiny, consider praying this with me:

Lord, thank you for the vision you have put inside of me. I submit to you, and know that you have good plans for me. I tell all fear that I am no longer walking with you, and you are no longer welcome to stop me from the plans that God has in store for me. I chose today to be brave… even if the water temperature isn’t perfect. In Jesus Name, AMEN!

Sunshine and Rain…and weeds

I had a mental picture a few weeks ago. It was one of those thoughts that felt like heaven was drawing close and trying to whisper to you. In this picture I was standing in my patch of front yard on our suburban cul de sac looking up to the sky. There was a rain shower ending, the clouds were parting, and the sun began to shine through. As soon as the sense of refreshment had settled in, I looked down and saw them. Dozens of weeds started shooting up out of the ground rising well above the grass, and making my yard look disgraceful.

The end.

Um, can I just stick to the clouds breaking and the pleasant sunshine beating down on my grinning face? Maybe skip the weed part? No? Well, ok but I’m not sure the HOA approves of that picture, Holy Spirit.

My immediate thought was, “Oh, God. Ugh. I need to get to work, and clean up this MESS before anyone sees.” Later I went back to the picture and asked the Lord to show me more. He showed me himself down on His knees, carefully pulling the weeds. Then it hit me. I was never meant to do the work.  The shame! The embarrassment!  But I felt the Holy Spirit nudging me… If I chose to be humble, the Lord will use my weaknesses and my process. He will receive glory.

Philippians 1 tells us that God is continuing to lead us towards perfection until the day of Christ’s return. The work being done in us calls for our trust, our humility, and our surrender. As we simply present ourselves to God for his hand to mold and form us, we are offering our worship to him. There is no striving. Face it, our striving is pretty pathetic compared to what he has done and is doing. So, let’s rest as He works. Let’s love and praise our maker as we watch him receive glory through the lives of his kids.

Unity and Cake

multi-cakes-400x284

Tonight I ate cake. Not just any cake—my favorite cake: Triple Chocolate Cake from a little café on the west side of Colorado Springs called Marigold’s. This isn’t just some Duncan Hines, run of the mill chocolate cake, people. It consists of layers of delicious dark AND milk chocolate moose-like creams, white whipped goodness, and some sort of heavenly chocolate cake. Then it is coated in chocolate and topped with extravagant amounts of grated white chocolate. It is divine. Like, so so so good. The only problem: I was sharing the slice with my dear husband. AND not only was it NOT all mine, he was feeding me  occasional bites with a fork. I know some of you are like “how sweet.” No. Nope. Maybe he thought so too, but no.  Give me cake.  I felt an orphan spirit trying to reattach to the depths of my soul as I sat and waited for him to kindly and delicately give me my average-sized bite. *sigh*

I joke with my cake story, but life is so full of moments like these. There are these chances to “share” life with people, and sometimes it feels like there is only one piece of cake. Often times it would be so much easier and feel better to just do it myself.  After all, you might be really different than me.  I may not “get” you.  Or you may want the space/ role/job that I want.  Maybe you are really immature,  contentious, or boring.  We want to be served by someone or serve someone, but to try to get something done *with* you. No thanks. I can get much more done much quicker without your input. Right? But, maybe it’s not about what we are getting done? Maybe it’s all about the process. Sure, we’ve heard that, and that’s an easy (ish?) principle to consider when thinking about making cookies with the kids, but when it comes to the Bride of Christ… it’s tricky and messy and hard.

Could it be that the body as a whole is focusing too much on our accomplishments, our giftings, or our knowledge and neglecting our connection with each other?  Maybe God wants to use the relationships around us to create an amazing dynamic as a variety of seasons are embraced and felt, a variety of giftings are highlighted, and as the Holy Spirit celebrates every life-stage and personality of his born again children, and as we honor Jesus together..

I love the church, and I long to see her honoring each part. Fixing our eyes on Jesus and seeing each member through the redemptive work of the cross is the only way unity is possible within the Bride of Christ.  At present, the church looks like she has multiple personalities. When the world looks they see Presbyterians over here, Pentecostals over there, and everything in the middle. We have all segregated ourselves as we (dare I say) bow to our doctrines and ideas. Doctrine and ideas are important, but I I cannot help but believe that we have to be willing to genuinely love past them and through them, and that without doing so the church is greatly affect.  I believe that it is the church’s struggle with unity that has lead to the segregation and racism issues in the world.

I want to chose to see others through the lens of Jesus no matter where they are in the (sometimes difficult) process of “working out their salvation.” I want to pray for those in authority and not use my freedom by criticizing and tearing down.  I want to be an instrument of unity in such a way that I will cross the borders of churches and inject honor and love to those who see differently (and maybe even incorrectly *gasp) because they still. love. Jesus.  Jesus.  He’s simply the only thing that has to matter.

Consider praying this prayer with me:

Lord, you and you alone are King of my heart.   Help me to see others through the work you did for them on the cross.  Forgive me for seeing others without fully honoring the treasure that they are in You.  Help me see others the way you do. I refuse to partner with fear and pride any longer. Amen.

And if you feel like sharing cake is hard :P, and life is lived much better when you are away from believers, consider this prayer.

Lord, I’ve been walking as an orphan long enough. Would you help me heal me so that I can join the body the way you designed me to. I repent for believing the lie that I don’t need them and they don’t need me. Forgive me, and lead me to truth. Amen.

Home: Adding Value for Little Cash

Let’s talk equity!  I’m always thinking of what I can do around our home to add value without spending a lot of money.  Sometimes staging plays a part in selling a home for more (that’ll be another post!). But often times there are lasting home improvements that can add value for just a few dollars.  This blog post is dedicated to those ideas.

Here are a few ways that have helped us create equity for little money:

  1. Maintenance. Be sure you are taking care of what exists in your home before trying to add updates and upgrades.  Whether consciously or subconsciously,  buyers notice when the caulk around the shower is cracking, the doors squeak, and the knobs are loose.  Be sure you are stewarding these little things well.  It will pay off!
  2. Paint.  You’ve probably heard it a hundred times. Fresh, neutral paint will help sell a home.  Even if buyers want custom colors, they can move in without having to worry about it until they’re ready.Paint
  3. Curb appeal.  Buyers may not even decide to walk in a home if the exterior is a mess.  Consider simplifying your landscaping, freshening up your mulch, weeding, and painting the door.  Buyers don’t want complicated upkeep bidding for their time.  Also, exterior paint that is chipping can keep buyers from getting certain types of loan approval. Save the trouble by making sure it’s painted, or consider an allowance at closing.
  4. Switches.  Consider updating switches, and adding dimmers.  They aren’t expensive, but give a little extra “Oooo.” When buyers are checking out your home.  If your switches look like this, please update:   ;P light switch
  5. New Hardware.  Consider swapping out the builder grade door knobs or cabinet pulls with something nicer.  Ikea has great knobs and pulls for cheap that look as good as some of the high end stuff.  They can change your cabinets from plain to contemporary for just a few bucks and a couple hours.
  6. Tile: Consider updating the flooring in a small space.  Your big box hardware stores often offer free classes on installing tile or other flooring.  You can often get tile for less than a dollar a square foot and it’s a great update to a vinyl or linoleum floor that will add much more value to your home than you spend on it.

Ok, so those were just a few ideas.  If you have questions about updates you’re considering, or want more ideas,  feel free to comment!  Also, if you are planning to sell your home in the Colorado Springs area, call Seth!  He’s happy to help with any questions or needs you have regarding selling, purchasing, or building your home. His info can be found at http://www.sethcoloradosprings.com .  Thanks for reading!