Moxie Memorizers

Monday, February 28, 2011  ::   21 important comments

Do you ever go through seasons where you feel like God is just totally blowing your mind? I'm in one of those right now. I haven't gotten to the stage of being able to formulate words about it just yet, so you'll have to wait to hear about what is gripping me right now. Let me just say that so far it is looking like it is going to be life changing. During this time of learning, I am constantly reminded that I'm a deep feeler. As I read I often have to put my book down and just take in the weight of it all. Lumps in my throat are becoming normal occurrences. A few tears have even leaked out (or a lot.) I'm so excited, nervous, overwhelmed, ready to get started. Are you curious? You're just going to have to wait. Isn't that mean?!

But here is some good news: It is time to post your March 1st memory verses! I'm praying that you are not losing heart or determination. Hopefully, a rhythm of when you work on memorizing and reviewing is being established. Soak in His word! It is completely worth the effort and discipline.

Psalm 130:1-8 is what I'm going to be working on for awhile. I've been a little zealous in my memorizing commitment, so I'm just going to take the first two verses this time.

Psalm 130:1-2 Out of the depths I cry to you, O Lord. O Lord, hear my voice. Let you ears be attentive to my cry for mercy. (NIV)

This Psalm was one of the most significant ones for me last summer during the Psalms of Ascent study that Julie facilitated. My heart rests in the fact that Jesus is attentive to my cry for mercy. As He hears my cries for help, I pray that my life will be extension of His mercy towards others. Many of you have heard me say that I'm not a merciful person. You will no longer hear me speak those words over myself. I've come to see it just isn't true. My heart aches for those who need Jesus' mercy and I long to be used to extend his mercy towards others.

I pray that the verses you are about to post reveal Jesus' sweet mercy towards you.

Mr. Smarty Pants

Tuesday, February 22, 2011  ::   6 important comments

I took Kyle to an orientation at the Middle School he hopes to attend. He has been accepted into the full-inclusion gifted and talented program through our district. There are three different middle schools in our district that have this program. (Please stop here and pray a little prayer that he gets into Vail.) The night was full of excited nerdiness. The sixth graders planned and performed a flash mob dance to Thriller. The jazz band played several great tunes. The math/science students performed a drama about the abstract and quantitative qualities of a banana. They ended their time by singing about what they learned about bananas to the tune of Monster Mash. Let me just tell you they learned some pretty impressive things!

Kyle sat with some of his fifth grade classmates through most of the evening. Watching him gave me more insights into who he his. Yes, he's well-rounded, has decent social skills, seems pretty normal, but in that setting he is totally free to completely geek out. He and his friends didn't think one thing was weird. They kept smiling and looking at each other, talking about how cool everything was. At one point the teacher told the students that they would be able to take Algebra 1 as seventh graders and Geometry as eighth graders giving them two high school credits. I thought he and his classmates were going to squirm out of their seats. His giddiness was making me giddy!

On the way home he talked and talked and talked about all the areas he hoped to study, friends he planned to make, and ways he hoped to conquer the world. It was truly inspiring and incredible. I once asked my friend, John W. who is also a Mr. Smarty Pants when he knew he was smarter than his mom. I think he was being generous to me because he said when he was around 18. It definitely won't be long before Kyle knows the truth.

Kyle as a 7 year old! He's always been goofy! (Like his dad)
What can I say? He's well-rounded!
And somewhat or a lot cocky.
What a great kid! I think he's handsome. (Like his dad)
I can't imagine the incredible things in store for him.
It's going to be amazing to watch and pray!

Keepin' It Fresh

Monday, February 21, 2011  ::   4 important comments

My good friend, Jenn, often speaks with interesting word choices. Her written communication is thorough, organized, and entertaining. Her spoken communication is also very clear, but let’s just say it is often a bit on the nerdy side. Her favorite word is vomit. How weird is that? One time when a group of us were hanging out she described my new phone as being “really fresh.” I’m still not exactly sure what she meant, and you can be sure we teased her a little bit.

Fresh. I think it is a pretty interesting adjective. It helps you understand that said object is not stale, or rotten, or old. Fresh conjures of thoughts of sights, fragrances, or tastes that your senses will most likely enjoy. I love the deep, overwhelming smell of fresh cut grass. Although I would not particularly enjoy the taste, I’ve been told that vine ripened, hand picked, homegrown fresh tomatoes are divine. Last week I visited Muir Woods near San Francisco. The vast amount of shades of green I saw in the amazingly fresh vegetation was mesmerizing. Fresh may become one of new favorite words.

In one of the many conversations I had last week with my friends in San Francisco, the topic of freshness in relationships was briefly mentioned. One of the women made a brief statement that she works to keep her friendships fresh, that many people only talk about keeping marriages fresh, but she believes that freshness needs to be brought into all relationships. Not much else was mentioned on the subject, but my brain has been mulling this over since that day. (And many, many other topics that were brought up last week that I will slowly unpack.)

To be honest, it is pretty easy for me to describe what Chad and I do to keep our marriage fresh. I have no desire to have an old, stale, rotten marriage. We talk about everything, go on dates, explore new things with our kids, and challenge each other to grow in our thinking about God and how he wants to move and work in our lives. If we ever feel a lack of freshness, one of us addresses the issue. There is no room for stinky oldness in our relationship. Freshness is a priority.

But what about in my friendships? What does it even look like to keep friendships fresh? How do you keep from talking about the same old things? What can be a tangible abacus of freshness? Do my friends desire continued growth in relationships? If yes, then how?

As I’ve thought about this, to be honest, I’ve been a little disappointed in myself. In so many areas of my life, I’m proactive. Although I would say that I’m a relational person, it is difficult for me to describe ways that I am taking initiative to keep my friendships fresh. Here are a few examples of ways Chad and I have seen freshness in our friendships:

  • new people pursue us
  • Ticket to Ride (a fun board game that we just started playing)
  • new ministry ideas that some of our friends enjoy discussing
  • spontaneous book discussions
  • new food experiences (Friends having our whole family over for dinner or taking our whole family out for Ethiopian.)
  • parties organized in such a way to keep things interesting and intentional
  • genuine conversational sharing of what God is teaching us...questions, shared ideas that lead to more questions and so on and so on

What about you? Have you thought about keeping your friendships fresh? How are you doing it? What keeps you from keeping things fresh?

And, before anyone gets snarky and responds with a naive “Well, it will just happen naturally” let me remind you that good tomato vines take watering, pruning, weeding, harvesting. Fresh cut grass means that someone is pushing (or riding) a lawn mower. The beautiful shades of green in Muir Woods have been growing for thousands of years. The conservation effort is enormous. So, please let’s not fool ourselves into thinking that relationships don’t take real, honest, hard work. Intentionality is the minimum requirement for freshness in friendship.

Let me hear your thoughts...

Insights into Conversation

Tuesday, February 15, 2011  ::   Be the first to leave a comment!

Reasons why I (and Chad too) like to be with people who talk deeply about many different topics:
  • Other people's ideas stimulate more ideas in my head.
  • Vision is often refined through strategic conversation.
  • New ways of saying the same old thing brings clarity in keeping or throwing out the same old things.
  • Deep talk often leads to deep laughter.
  • People's real life stories are often told in the context of long meaningful conversation.
  • Books I've never heard of are often suggested reads when others share ideas.
  • Meaningful conversation is never about teaching something to someone, or elevating yourself over the others in the room. It is mutual, eye to eye, brain to brain, heart to heart conversation.
  • People who are asking good questions and genuinely listening to the answers can have great insight into your life. Moreover, good conversation is never one-sided, only one person sharing their heart.
  • People are diverse, see the world differently, process information through their intellect or their emotions. Conversing with people who have similar passions as you, but see the world differently takes you to deeper places in your own way of seeing the world. Change in your own life is a wonderful part of conversation.
  • Whether you are an introvert or an extrovert, loving, mutual, authentic conversation is life-giving.
  • Good conversation moves beyond the weather, politics, gossip about others, or awkward lulls. Topics of real life flow gracefully.

Moxie Memorizers

Tuesday, February 15, 2011  ::   26 important comments

It’s February 15th which means it’s time to post your second memory verse for the month. I recently skimmed a couple of paragraphs that talked about memorizing verses being a waste of time. Can you imagine my irritation? I can say that if you are just memorizing your verses to look spiritual, or to please someone, or because you don’t want to miss the band wagon than you will definitely NOT get the full benefit. However, I trust the Spirit of God so much that even if your motives are completely skewed, He will be faithful to transform your life through His word that is living and active! I just think the person who wrote that stuff needs to come talk to our Moxie Memorizers so he can see our excitement!

I’m currently in the process of reading books about God’s heart for the fatherless, widows, the poor, and immigrants. One of the books that I’m reading is called Generous Justice by Timothy Keller. In the introduction he said that he had been thinking about social justice continuously since he was in college in the 1950s, so he wrote a book about it and published it in 2010. He had been pondering these deep things for 60 years!? Whoa. I knew I had better sit up and pay attention as I read his words. The book has been rich. God is stirring some interesting things in my heart that I’m not quite ready to talk about yet, but I probably won’t wait 60 years to tell you which means you better read his book so that that you can get his aged and refined wisdom.

Anyway, all that to say, my verses for awhile may be in that general theme. Tim Keller (the author) is fluent in biblical languages and he translates the word alien or foreigner to immigrant. I will be using this word in my verses as well because it conveys the truth in a language that speaks to my heart and my surroundings.

Zechariah 9:9-10 This is what the Lord Almighty says: Administer true justice, show mercy and compassion to one another. Do not oppress the widow or the fatherless, the immigrant or the poor. In your hearts do not think evil of each other. (NIV)

I love that this short passage talks about taking care of one another and the people who are often oppressed or forgotten in our society. Deep pondering going on inside of me...I’m excited and a little nervous to see what God wants to show me through these themes.

Keep up the good memorizing work! I am so looking forward to the stories that will begin to surface on how God is using His word in your every day lives. Can’t wait to see what you are memorizing next!

Morgan Grace and Carah Joy

Thursday, February 10, 2011  ::   8 important comments

My sweet twins are nine years old today. I know it is cliche, but I really can't believe it! It is so true that they days are long, but the years are short.

Humor me while I reminisce...

When Chad and I were first married we often dreamed about having five children. We both talked about how fun a large family would be. These crazy talks would even lead us to imagining how many grandchildren we might have someday if we truly ended up with five kids.

Then Esther came into our lives. We thought maybe we were a bit idealistic and decided four kids may be a better fit for us.

Kyle was born a couple of years later. Even though he was a very easy baby and a total joy, he still required so much effort from us as parents. Naturally, Chad and I decided we better just parent three children.

When we found out we were expecting our "third and final" child, we were overjoyed. I had gained waaaay too much weight when I was pregnant with Kyle, so I decided to continue to teach my fitness classes and live as healthy of a lifestyle as I could. I watched my diet, exercised, and kept busy with investing in college women. One of my frustrations during the pregnancy was visiting the doctor. Every time I went to see her, she would bug me about how much weight I was gaining, telling me to be careful, lecturing me about the importance of health and fitness. I cried every time I left her dumb office.

Then came the routine 20 week sonogram...

"I wanted your nurse to be in the room with us when I told you that you are carrying TWO babies!"

Chad instantly started laughing.
Esther kept saying, "Two babies?" over and over and over.
I burst into tears and confessed all the fears I constantly struggled with as a mom.

The crying didn't stop for about two weeks because I was soooo scared.

And then my heart settled down and I began to see the amazing gift I was going to receive in two precious girls.

Nine years old is a big kid. Morgan and Carah do so many things for themselves. We have wonderful conversations. They are inquisitive, smart, funny, beautiful, secure, and growing to be young women who really love Jesus. I'm so so proud of them!

And, I'm so thankful God didn't allow us to have just three kids. I can't imagine life without either one of them! They are so uniquely different from each other. Morgan is artistic and incredibly compassionate. Carah is a leader and loves to help and serve. Carah is so tall. Morgan isn't. Morgan has blue eyes. Carah has brown. They each have their own fashion tastes, senses of humor, and organizational systems.

Even in all of their differences, they are most certainly twins. They hold hands all the time. They can see when the other one has some heartache and are fiercely defensive for each other. It is definitely true that they have their own twin language, a way of communicating. Even as nine year olds when they sleep together in a twin bed, when I wake them up in the morning they are the cutest little cuddle bugs that you could ever imagine.

I'm praying big things for them. I pray they will be consistent in their love for Jesus, that they will never choose to walk away from their faith. I pray that they will be leaders who take Spirit-led risks, that they will consider how their decisions affect others, but not be paralyzed by pleasing people rather than God. I pray that they will live radically obedient lives and that Chad and I will never get in the way of what God has for them. I pray they will live each day with intentionality, joy, love, and obedience to the glory of God.

Happy birthday, sweet Morgan and Carah! I'm incredibly thankful for my beautiful twin girlies!

Nine Years Old
Four Years Old
Three Years Old
So Stinkin' Adorable!
A Million Dollar Smile!
One Year Old
Sweet Babies... No matter where I put them in their crib, they always managed to scoot right up next to each other and lay in the same position. I love these sweet girlies!

A rant from a frustrated prophet

Thursday, February 10, 2011  ::   5 important comments

Do you want to know what really bugs me? People who are followers of Jesus that complain about the church but seemingly do nothing to help build the church. It drives me absolutely CRAZY! I get so sick of hearing how the church has failed a believer or how they disagree with the leaders or whatever complaint a person has to proclaim. My question is, "What are you doing to love people, serve Jesus, give to others, discover your passions, help out??"

That is all. :)

A Better Perspective

Wednesday, February 09, 2011  ::   5 important comments

Expectations are funny things. Many of you know that I had written this post about sending a letter into the Nate Berkus Show back in September. I knew it was a really, really long shot to ever be contacted, and much to my surprise, they actually called last week asking if I could come to the show! What? WHAT?! Chad and I were definitely in awe over the whole thing. In my phone conversation with the show producer she mentioned that it wasn't concrete, that show biz can change. Ok. Expectations needed to stay in check.

I went through the week with my big ole mouth telling people about my potential coming trip. I'm a story teller and this was a great one to tell. Everyone was super excited with me. I continually told everyone that I was keeping my expectations low because I didn't want to be disappointed. I said that I wanted to enjoy any little part of this experience that was given to me. Was I lying or did I really believe the words coming out of my mouth?

Yesterday the producer sent me an email that said they had decided not to fly me to the show. My heart sank when I read the words. One of the areas that I struggle with is feeling stupid. My brain was instantly filled with thoughts of how stupid I am for telling so many people about the show. I was completely disappointed. I sent two mass texts and posted the change of plans on facebook so I wouldn't have to tell everyone. And, then I had a pretty good pity party... for reals. A short, but ugly one. Apparently, my expectations were a little higher than I had anticipated.

I took about 20 minutes by myself in my bedroom. I had intended to go cry a little bit, but I was reminded of the amazing gifts in my life... Chad, my great kids, amazing family and friends, a house that is big enough to host people, a love for hospitality that comforts people when they come over, an awesome community, and the hobby of writing letters to people I've never met about things that are just fun and silly. To be honest the small experience in talking to a producer of the Nate Berkus show was really fun. She told me several times that I'm cute and I'm choosing to believe that is New York City speak for "you are well spoken and witty." It was great and fun and surreal. Why should I discount any of it? I won't.

So, thank you, God, for Chad, my great kids, amazing family and friends, a house that is big enough to host people, the gift of hospitality, an awesome community, the strength of communication, and for the producer of the Nate Berkus show that thinks I'm really cute! And thank you so, so, so much for the things you have planned for me that no one can recount to you!!