Because I Said So

Tuesday, November 05, 2013  ::   4 important comments

One of my blog world pet peeves right now happens to be a very popular trend. It actually makes me cringe every time I see a Facebook post with four little words in the title. I couldn't put my finger on the specifics of why it bothered me so much until the last few days.

As I mentioned in my last post Chad and I are currently leading a group of up and coming leaders in Second Mile. Challenging a group to think deeply about different aspects of leadership always challenges me to rethink and relearn, as well as enjoy new ah-ha moments of leading others. One of the exercises we work through in the class is coming up with a list of our own personal core values. Friends, this is not an easy process. I've been working on my list for a couple of years now and it is finally coming together in a more satisfactory way. In fact, I'm ready to share my list with you. Just kidding. I'm definitely not at that point. But I will share one.


I so value understanding. The funny thing is I shared with the group last week that "self-awareness" was one of my values, but in just six short days it morphed into the more descriptive value of my life as "understanding."

Through the lens of truly understanding, I highly value
  • knowing who I am, how I'm wired, how I process the world.
  • when others truly know themselves and seek to be better.
  • the background of those who are telling me stories.
  • the history and context of someone who is hearing my story so that I can fit my words into their framework.
  • the opinions of others. (This is a developing skill. Note I said understanding opinions, not agreeing with opinions.)   

A couple of passages in the Bible have been key in my heart and I didn't realize the connection until Sunday night. 

Psalm 119:33-34 
Teach me, O Lord, to follow your decrees that I may keep them to the end. Give me understanding, so I may keep your law and obey it with all my heart. 

Proverbs 18:2 
A fool finds no pleasure in understanding, but delights in airing her own opinion.

I've always been a person who wanted to know why. "Because I said so" continues to mean pretty much nothing to me, not because I'm rebellious, but because I value understanding. I want to understand and help my kids understand. I want others to understand. I want to understand the Bible so I can obey it with all my heart. Understanding bolsters my relationship with Jesus and my relationships with others. 

Before I get back to the pet peeve I mentioned earlier, I want to make a clarification so you can understand I don't mind if you've done this. There is no judgement from me to you. I only cringe when I see the posts because my heart to is see the whole picture, a response, an ability to understand. You've seen the posts. You've been stirred by them. You've even sided with some of them. 

An Open Letter To ________________. 

Dear celebrity, 

Dear politician,

Dear moms of younger children,

Dear moms of older children, 

Dear person I've never met and will probably never meet, 

Dear person I don't know how your day is going and you were really rude to me so I'm going to respond to you, 

Did you see me just get up on my little soap box just now? 

Dear lady on her soap box who should step on down from there, 

Please know I get the point of these letters. From my understanding (heehee) they are to make a directed point in an area of disagreement with something or someone we've encountered in our life. And let me just say even those of us who haven't actually written one out have possibly written them in our heads in one form or another. 

The problem to me is a lack of understanding, a lack of dialogue, a lack of response. The verse I mentioned above says that a fool doesn't try to understand, but only airs their opinion. I do not want to be a fool. 

Actually, I want to respond to others with understanding which is perceiving and comprehending. Understanding does not mean I have to agree with everything. But for me to be able to engage with love towards those around me, I want to understand. When I don't understand I find myself responding with fear or hate or apathy or annoyance or extremes. 

But even if I don't agree with a personal political preference, but work to understand someone's point of view, I can respond with dignity, directness, and diplomacy. 

Even if I don't agree with how someone can be so hateful on the road to another driver, I can seek to understand that maybe they are having a bad day or were raised with different manners than I was, and I can respond with dignity, compassion, and directness. 

Even if I don't agree with how someone in my community is dealing with a life situation, I can seek to understand their perspective and lovingly come along side to help, carry the load, bestow dignity. 

When we don't respond to the world with understanding, we set ourselves above others, we steal dignity which is part of being an image bearer of God, we lose our voice to the world around us, we look closed off and closed-minded. 

If you know me you know I have strong opinions. Understanding does not mean you forfeit the right to think and formulate opinions. On the contrary, understanding deepens your personal insight into the world around you as you lean heavily on God's word. Twenty years ago I naively began to ask God to give me understanding into His word and how it applies to the world. His faithfulness to sand paper away the edges of dogmatic opinion has led me to love Him more deeply which has led me to love others more deeply with a desire to understand. 

The great thing about a blog post like this is it only creates more questions for me. How does understanding differ from agreement? How can you seek to understand in split second scenarios without passing judgement? At what point does seeking to understand become a hinderance to action? 

What about you? Have you thought about understanding the world around you on a micro and macro scale? To you, what is the link between understanding and dignity? 

Share you thoughts with us. Send me an email if you want more discussion on this topic. I will work to seek understanding in your thoughts and questions. 

Apples, 25 Minutes, and Learning

Thursday, October 31, 2013  ::   6 important comments

Gosh. September 10th was my last post. That's a long time ago. I've written many blog posts in my head, but obviously they haven't gotten typed out. Some of the topics in my brain I want to share with you are quite heavy, so jumping into those with more than a month's hiatus seems wrong.

I need to finish the talking to your kids about sex series I started. I want to share with you what my job of being on staff at a church as a women's ministry leader looks like. I've been contemplating the gift that is Chad's teaching our church gets to enjoy every Sunday. It would be fun, but very weird to write something about that so that post may just stay in my head. But, to get back into the swing of things I decided to just tell you what I'm enjoying and learning lately. That should be easy enough.

Up first, Matt Reddman. Can I just say this man has been anointed to lead the global Church to worship Jesus? I mean, really. He is a gifted song writer and leader. I bet many of you can share several songs that he's written that have been used over the years within the Church. Take Heart of Worship, for instance. Or Blessed Be Your Name. Or Holy. In my opinion, his new album, Your Grace Finds Me, does not disappoint. I wasn't wowed the first time I listened, but as it's been on repeat in my vehicle I've grown to love it. The song This Beating Heart makes me so happy. When song writers use phrases like, "My soul, my soul sings for you," it speaks my language. "There's music within my soul, more than these flesh and bones I know." Yes! Exactly how I feel! If you like Matt Redman (and if you don't, don't tell me. Just keep your weirdness to yourself) buy the album. It's good.

Buy it HERE 

What else am I into? Honey Crisp Apples. This is the only time of year you can buy them, so I do. They are pricey, but I just love them. Apples are my favorite every day fruit. They are an easy, quick, filling, delicious snack. Gala apples are my go-to, but right now it's all about the Honey Crisp. My friend, Susan, introduced me to their deliciousness so I think about her every time I enjoy one. You should try it. Again, if you don't like them, don't tell me how weird you are. Ok?

Moving on...

Chad and I are currently leading Persevering in the Second Mile which is a 10-12 week leadership class. I love it. Investing in young leaders of our church excites and inspires me. Also, it challenges me to think deeply about how I'm growing in my skills and gifts to lead others.  One area in my life I'm currently mulling over is my schedule. Good leaders don't let others control their schedules. Uh-oh. This is a big area of needed growth in my life. It is difficult to write out how this needs to change without putting unnecessary burdens on others. I can say church details, meetings with a variety of people with a variety of life circumstances, and juggling my four busy kids' schedules often leaves me completely spent at the end of every day. My health is so much better, but it is still an area of concern which is difficult for myself, let alone others understand. One of my least favorite phrases to say or hear is "I'm exhausted." Most of the time when it is said it is spoken with tired exasperation like, "I'm sooooo exhaaaaauuusted." Ick. Makes me shiver. So instead of uttering those dreadful words, I'm asking God to direct my mind and heart towards Him, to lead me in my schedule, and to teach me to toil with His power at work within me which is so much better than trying to do it on my own. Understatement, much? 

In all of this learning to order my schedule, I know taking care of myself is very important. Another thing I'm totally into right now is Shaun T's T25. Man, oh, man. I have obliques right now! I can't even believe it myself! I am planking my way into feeling great! T25 has helped me get rid of the excuse of not having enough time. It is a hard hitting, 25 minute, core-focused, two month workout system. If you need something new to shake up your current exercise, look into this. One word of caution, you will get addicted to the fact that it is only 25 minutes. I'm not sure I will be able to go back to the hour long work-outs I used to do. I can find 25 minutes in just about every day (except yesterday.) Ha!  

Order it HERE 

A few more random things I love...  Morgan and Carah singing songs over and over and over from their school play that's coming in December, roasted vegetables, Chad's persistence in many areas of life, pumpkin displays at all the grocery stores, hearing my kids constantly ask about that annoying fox, watching Esther get excited about college, Instagram, Kyle dressing up for Fashion Disaster Day at school, Second Mile meeting in a new location, a denim shirt I purchased at Ross, and YOU.

What are you into these days? Please don't be shy. Share something with us. Influence us to be into it, too. 

Silly Head Reflections

Tuesday, September 10, 2013  ::   7 important comments

The rain gently fell through the trees as I sat on the front porch enjoying the wet smell of the forest on a cool Sunday morning. My eyes were puffy from tears, restless sleep, and brain fatigue. My heart swelled with pleasure from watching women engage in worship, scripture, and community, but my spirit felt exposed and vulnerable after pouring out all I had thought through, written out, and prepared for leading up to the retreat.

Recounting the surprise stories that pop into my head as I speak and the words that come to mind during each session is always an interesting part of the retreat aftermath. Confusion and thought chaos often plague me even to the point of not being really sure what I said apart from the used pages of leftover notes I can hold and re-read. This past weekend I let it all hang out as I stood in front of 55 of my closest friends. They heard my heart and words, but they are given the responsibility to translate and apply. It feels freeing, yet eerily ambiguous. Should I clarify? Did it make sense? Did I point to Jesus? 

How in the world do preachers give of their hearts week after week after week? I've asked Chad several times. He just smiles at me like I'm a silly head. Maybe I am a silly head. Maybe if I was sharing week after week after week I would get used to the exposure or maybe not even think twice about it. Maybe. I'm not really interested in finding out. 

Retreat de Moxie is my favorite. The opportunity to speak to the women of my church, to challenge them, to know some of their stories, to make them laugh, and to watch them deal with Jesus blows me away. I love it. The truth be told I would love the opportunity to speak to women more often, but it hasn't been part of my life just yet. How do you do that anyway? "Hello. My name is Angel. You've never heard of me, but I want to speak to your group." Duh. Um, no? So I will take the opportunity year after year, as long as I feel okayed by Jesus, to speak at our women's retreat. And like I said in my last post, this is not some church lady, stereotypical, paper flower making, super sweet, mamsy-pamsy women's retreat. We get down to some serious Jesus business. Just like it should be. 
Thanks for the great photo, Angela! 
I took many hours scratching out notes through three significant passages of scripture. Today I tore the pages out of my notebook to put into the recycle and it felt a bit like when you cook Thanksgiving meal for hours and it only takes five minutes to eat. All the handwritten yellow pages turned into four neatly typed organized five to six point sessions. All the hours of study and writing turned into four one hour sessions. My prayer is that the thoughts and points will resonate with each woman who attended the retreat, that they will think of Mary and Martha differently than they ever have, that they will respond to Jesus as a disciple with a hearty welcome into the deep places of their lives.

I learned a few things over this retreat, too. In honor of my friend, Tori, I will share them with you in bullet format. 
  • It is important to give women landmarks for major turns when giving directions, not just highway numbers. 
  • The work of ministry is meeting people where they are...going with where God wants them to be. 
  • Jesus responds to us with compassion, insight, clarity, and enough. 
  • If you bring an extra giant bag of peanut butter M&M's they will be gone in less than 24 hours. 
  • Speaking about Jesus being the "I AM" will move women in powerful ways. 
  • Jesus as the Resurrection and the Life is a foundational, profound, mystery of our faith! 
  • 99% of women scream or squeak when they jump off a platform to zip line. 
  • We do not always have the luxury of privacy in our faith. True that. 
  • What Jesus has planned to do in our hearts is far greater than what he has planned to do in our circumstances! 
  • If you accidentally say "sh*t" in a session when you mean to say "strips" your face will turn red and people will laugh. Loudly.  
  • Mary and Martha weeping is not the same word used for Jesus weeping. "Jesus wept" is so misunderstood in the church.   
  • Often we focus on what is rotting, decomposing, or being eaten by worms in our life instead of Jesus. 
  • Our focus should be on Jesus, not our reputation or our own contrived ideas of justice.
  • If you say something you want to clarify, if you truly love people and they know your heart, they will be extraordinarily gracious and loving towards you. 
  • 55 women singing Oceans at the top of their lungs promotes huge giant goose bumps. 
  • I still cry easily when my brain gets fatigued, but I'm doing way better than I was last year at this time. 
And finally
  • You think you can love a group of people so much and then you get smacked up in the head with more love and loyalty that you could ever imagine. 

What are you thinking about these days? If you participated in Retreat de Moxie, what is one serious thing you learned and one funny thing you learned? Do you have any thoughts about any of my bullet points? Please share. You all know comments are my love language. 

Making New Friends

Tuesday, September 03, 2013  ::   5 important comments

Last year I participated in a pen pal, secret gift, long distance meet up that sweet Kim over at A Cuppa Kim put together. It was great fun and I had been looking forward to this one all year. You see, last year I missed the whole point. Sure, I sent out a great mug. Sure, I received a great mug. But, to be honest, I have no idea who I sent to or received from. Really? Sheesh. Relationship fail. For me, while a package full of goodies is fun to dig through, a new friend is my main hope. I really like people. 

My package shipped out to the sweet Mrs. Dallner in Missouri. It was fun looking through her blog and Instagram. Her family is beautiful. I wanted her package to be lovely and feminine when she opened it up. 

Shortly after I shipped my package off, I came home to a big box with an originally designed address label. I knew the contents were going to be good if someone put so much effort into the mailing label! 

Oh man, Jan you blessed my socks off! This sweet person whom I've never met seriously took the time to get to know me. Through my blog, Pinterest, and Instagram she gathered information and nailed it. I mean, she was so detailed into who I am and what I like. I'm very impressed with Jan's intentionality and attention to detail. 

A personalized journal, beautiful nail polish, a card holder for memorizing scripture, a Zero candy bar (one of my favorite splurges), a Starbucks gift card, a fancy business card holder, and of course a beautiful mug. Her generosity overwhelmed me! The fact that she handmade parts of this package impressed me. As you all know, I'm not so gifted in the handmade department, but I am gifted in the enjoying other's talents department. 

And check out this beautiful mug from Anthropologie! I think it is gorgeous. Liquid tastes better after it sits in this mug. The bold colors, the shades of blue and green, the design...I love it. It is the perfect mug for me.

Here is a closer look at some of the goodies in my package. Jan even learned that Jeremiah 17:7-8 has been the most meaningful passage in my life over this past year. She really did her research. 

To be sure, the stuff in the box honored me. However, to be honest, the letter Jan wrote to me was the true treasure of this year's mug swap. Typed written, front and back, it was full of the details of my story she had gleaned as she sought to gift to me the perfect mug. Her words were encouraging, uplifting, and sincere. 

Jan, thank you. I can tell you are a gifted encourager. Your attention to detail makes this world a more beautiful place. I will pray for you each time I use one of the items you sent which will be often because of the wonderful variety of stuff you sent! I'm hoping we continue to cultivate a long-distance cyber friendship which translates into a real friendship. I'm thankful for you. Thank you for blessing me! 

One last thing: Because the mug swap was so fun last year, I decided to implement a mug swap during Second Mile's annual Retreat de Moxie. Last year 46 women retreated together to hear from God, laugh, and rejuvenate. This year 54 of us are heading to the mountains of Payson, AZ. Now some of you may be wrinkling your nose up at a woman's retreat. Often women's ministry gets a bad wrap, especially in the blog world. Don't lump us into any negative stereo-type. We allow Jesus to do some serious spiritual butt-kicking in our lives. We laugh our cheeks and bellies sore. We fully engage in worship. We hike, fly down zip lines, eat goodies, drink coffee, and talk and talk and talk. This weekend I'm blessed to lead this wonderful group of strong, intelligent, amazing women. Pray for us? And, don't be jealous that I'll be getting another awesome mug. 

The mug I received from last year's Cuppa Kim Mug Swap is on the left. The middle is my new treasure from this year's Cuppa Kim Mug Swap. I received the one on the right during last year's Retreat de Moxie. I'll be adding to this collection on Friday night. I'll come home with a good one, even if I have to steal it. 

Did you participate in this year's swap? 

Moxie ladies, have you picked out the perfect mug for Friday night? 

What is your favorite part of giving fun gifts to people? 

Our Best Selves

Thursday, August 15, 2013  ::   5 important comments

Blessed by provision to get out of town, we journeyed to the San Diego area right as the break from school was about to end. Two months isn't long enough to grow bored with no routine, swimming for hours, or watching every Harry Potter movie in just three days. Part of me felt reluctant to leave our summer laziness because I knew vacation minutes move faster when you aren't at home. However, the opportunity to go to the beach with no agenda had never been ours for the taking, so we took it. 

The Haynes family consists of six giant humans. There are no small feet, no small arms, no small mouths, no small opinions. Two lovely families who are still in the small stage of life allowed us to inhabit their space. Each family was gracious, engaging, and life-giving to all six Haynes giants. They hosted us with grace and ease. Even if our ginormity stressed them out, I was completely oblivious to it which is saying something because I am particularly intuitive of others' feelings. The way they blessed my family completely refreshed my heart. 

The Huxleys have been working and serving with Outside the Bowl for awhile. I'm intuitive, but not detailed, so I don't know how long, but I just know they haven't lived here for years and we miss them dearly. They have two lovely, friendly daughters. Eric and Dejah started from the beginning to teach their girls to love and engage with people. We benefited greatly from the love their precious daughters offered us. 

I was remiss in getting a whole Huxley family photo. Remember I'm not so detailed. However, I snapped this perfect shot our first evening on the beach. This sweet girl enjoyed Kyle's company, and he certainly enjoyed hers. Their conversation consisted of how her daddy is a great surfer and how hungry she was. Kyle loved every minute. 

Our vacation photo album often indicates that I'm not on the vacation with the rest of the family. Being the person who desires so much to remember every detail often means I'm the one taking all the photos. Chad and I have to get better at remedying this issue. When we are 96 and senile, looking through our photos I don't want to overexert myself wondering if I was on a particular trip with the family. 

Thankfully, smart phones have a fancy little switcharoo button and I can turn it around to take a few selfie shots. This one shows off my cool hat and my cool husband. 

Did I mention I have a cool husband? One thing I love about Chad is he is always willing to try. And try. And try. He will work on a computer issue for hours when I easily give up in seconds. I can't figure it out? Meh. Who needs to know, anyway. But not Chad. He's got grit. 

Our friend, Tyler, enjoys surfing. He's got his own board and boards to teach others. He took my cool husband who tried. And tried. And tried. He did not give up, got board rash on his stomach, and experienced fatigue from crashing through waves, and paddling out over and over and over. 

This is how Chad surfs. Grit. 

These two sandy beauties tumbled around in the waves for hours. One liked it more than the other. I bet you are guessing the wrong one. 

This was taken moments after Kyle hoisted Esther over his shoulder and threw her in the waves. The happiness of their faces give me warm fuzzies. They love each other so much, but clearly Kyle is passed the cuddle with his sister stage. 

Oh, Tyler and Megan. What can I say? Think of the nicest people you know and multiply it by a hundred or a thousand. That is Tyler and Megan. Their gentleness, kindness, hilariousness is not contrived, but sincere and up-lifting. I have a feeling everywhere they go, people are drawn to them. They are the kind of people you want on your team or in your tribe. We didn't know them all that well entering their space, but the results of the comfortability test were shown through my kids. Each of them chatted it up, laughed and shared stories from life, gave movie character impersonations, enjoyed surfing and boogie boarding lessons. My eyes well up when I think of how well Tyler and Megan loved my giant family for the few days we lived with them. We experienced four days of up in your face, real questions and conversation, super spicy delicious pulled pork, sand all over your floor, wait for pizza for two hours conviviality with these two. God used them to fill our buckets which equals vacation success.  

They've offered to host us again. My kids have already asked to go back, but not just to play at the beach, but to be with Tyler and Megan.  

My favorite, favorite photo of the summer draws me in to remember the salty breeze, the crackling logs, the laughter and panting of the foot races down the beach, the gooey white mess on my fingers and lips. We were fully relaxed. Completely recharged. Our best selves. 

Soap and Mod Podge

Monday, August 12, 2013  ::   3 important comments

We started this summer out strong with scripture memory. Each morning we each sat quietly in the living room, reading our own books, reviewing our own memory packets, and memorizing our own new verses. This lasted for about a minute, not the entire summer like I had hoped. 

But was I ever crafty! I mean, I made my own laundry detergent for Pete's sake. For some of you this is probably old news. You've been making your own soap, lip balm, lotion, weaving your own shirts and baskets, and grinding your own wheat to make homemade bread unless, of course, you're gluten free. For me, making laundry soap is very homestead spectacular. 

All joking aside, I love the stuff. It only costs me about ten bucks to make. When I take the clothes out of the washer, they feel clean without any residue. I would encourage you to try it if you are into that sort of thing. I won't go back to store bought laundry detergent. Ok. Let's just be real. I'm not that committed. I'll go back to store bought as soon as I have a hundred loads piling up and no supplies to make more. The ease of a Costco run will beckon me away from my clean, dye free, chemical free, tree hugging, homemade, wonder soap.  
The shadows over the detergent prove to you what a fantastic photographer I am, but I desired to give you proof of homemade soap. You can find my original pinterest pin here. 
And by crafty, I mean craaaa-fty. The pin that gave me this pinteresting idea had no instructions, so I just had to wing it. Tori gave me a gift card to Hobby Lobby for my birthday that had been burning a hole in my pocket for months, but I wanted to be purposeful with my purchase so I just held onto it until I knew exactly what I wanted to create. 

Mod Podge makes me feel like I could be a designer on HGTV. 

On this day of crafts, I used Mod Podge, spray varnish, and a hot glue gun. I wondered a few times where my normal craft heebie jeebies fled because I actually had a great time creating!

The finished product is very cute. I love it. However, there is a design flaw for now. I need some sort of dowel to run through the letters to make it more stable, but I don't want the rod to show. Do you know when I'm going to figure out the stability situation for this name tower? Probably never. I've exhausted my craftiness for the next few years. 

We've been living in our house for five years which means we've been working on our house for five years. I'm blessed to be married to a guy that knows how to do so much. He recruits help and works in his free time. Many people in our community have left their marks on our home projects. Thanks to all of you for your help! We appreciate you so much! 

Painted walls have completely changed how we feel about the space. Orange may not be for everyone, but the bright colors inspire creativity and fun and we want our teenage kids and their friends to know this is a fun home. It's part of our parenting strategy. We spend many hours playing in our new "rec room." 
These two obsess over ping pong. 

Orange and gray. I love it. We will take care of floors at some point. DIY and budget restrict what you can do and when you can do it. Can you relate? 

This will be a work in progress. I plan to add to and rearrange often. My kids already make fun of me for how much I mess with it. I want the shelves to be filled with meaningful from people I love, photos, decor from my masquerade party. I look forward to how it morphs through the years. 

This room is just off the rec room. The whole space is open. Kids can study, watch their own weird shows, play Skip Bo for dayz. And yes, we are crazy enough to have a white sofa. We found it at a consignment shop, vintage 1960s for an amazing price. That's right. I have crafts and vintage stuff. Who am I? 

 What have you been up to lately? Do you have any fun projects to share with us? I would love to know about it! 

Tears and Good Gifts

Thursday, August 08, 2013  ::   3 important comments

As I drove through the parking lot towards the exit, the lump in my throat turned into misty drops under my eyelids trying to sneak their way out. I chastised myself out loud.

"What in the world is wrong with you? You've been dropping kids off for their first day of school for 12 years now. They will be fine. Every year they are fine. And grow. And learn. And mature. And still love you through it all. Don't be a baby."

Of course, my straight forward pep talk to myself did not stop the tears. Within five minutes I was praying and daydreaming about each child in college trying to figure out how to buy groceries for themselves or not getting lost on the way to class because the university they attend will probably be humungous or wondering what their own unique way of expressing themselves in the world will look like or how many of their friends will I get to meet and cook for if they end up going to U of A?

All because school started again. Every year I have the same thoughts. Every year I pray the same prayers.

God, direct their hearts towards you.

Teach them to seek your glory and not their own. 

Help them to be path-makers and not path-takers. 

When difficulties come this year (and they always do), help them to look for you and what you want to teach them. Refine them. Give me grace and patience as you refine me by watching how you refine them. 

Make their faith in you their own, apart from Chad and me, but also because of what we've taught them. 

Teach them to ask questions and to know that you are not afraid or intimidated by any question they may have. 

During the summer my heart sometimes grows heavy with worry, over-active questions, concern for the hard worker I desire to be in my family and in my church. For years I've been somewhere between stay at home mom and working mom. My employment and ministry affords me the opportunity to be flexible and present in almost all of my kids' daily lives. Sometimes I feel exhausted, confused, and guilt-ridden.

Am I home enough with them? Did I leave them too long to meet with those women? Are they resentful of the work I do with the church? Are they able to be motivated when I'm not around to do something other than watch TV and bicker?

The same type of questions echo in my mind about my work. Do people understand that my family is my main priority? Am I giving enough time to meet and listen with women God has placed in my life? Why haven't I read more, written more, spoken more?

But then Jesus guides my heart to grow heavy with repentance, love, anticipation, thankfulness, and awe of the roles He has given me in this crazy life.

Whatever you do work at it with all your heart as if working for the Lord and not for men. 
Colossians 3:23

My motivation in all of this must be "working for the Lord." Did you notice how my worrisome questions are oh so self-centered? My worry, fret, and fear is often motivated from the not so pretty place of self.

The first day of school every year reminds me to surrender my selfish desires for my kids and to trust that he entrusted them to Chad and me to parent, to love, to guide, to teach. He asks me to believe that just as I claim Christ to be enough in my life, He is more than enough in theirs. He wants me to know His plans for each of their futures far exceeds my own limited ability to hope and dream for them. He knows how to give good gifts. 

And now I'm crying again.

Wisdom in Youth :: A Guest Post

Sunday, June 30, 2013  ::   11 important comments

I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth. 3 John 1:4

Each of my kids are so very different. Some are math and science whizzes, empathetic problem solvers, story tellers, funny jokers, loud, emotional, logical, gift givers, performers, hand holders, attentive to the needs of others, art creators and mess makers. I could go on and on. 

Please know that I'm under no delusion that they are perfect, but I'm not about to air their short comings to you. That's not my job. We have wonderful discussions about their growth and maturity in our home. They do not need me chopping away at their security by proclaiming their junk to others. How absolutely horrible would it be if our Father did that with our junk? It would be devastatingly mortifying. I choose to model His love to my kids as much as I humanly can. 

Today you get to read the words of my son, Kyle. You will notice right away that he's a word guy. Both of his parents value words, so I'm not surprised. I want you to know that these are his words, his thoughts, what he is learning. I pray it challenges and inspires you. 

Within my own life, I often find that I personally avoid the task of memorizing scripture, not for a purposeful detachment of myself from God's word, but out of a lazy mind set in which my humanity ultimately deems such a task pointless. This is most certainly and undeniably false, as I also find that when I struggle into a place of spiritual depth that includes reading and memorizing scripture, I am entirely fulfilled. Not with the sort of fulfillment you gain when you win a championship, or finish a good book, but an entire fulfillment that lifts my whole being into a new purpose, a purpose that calls me to glorify God's greatness. It is in this realization that I find a certain irony that applies itself to my situation, mostly because if I truly dive into scripture I find specific verses that speak of our human interests and of a redemption that we can obtain through walking with Jesus. 

When I say these things, one verse specifically comes to mind: 1 Peter 1:14-15 which says: “Do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance, but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all of your conduct.” This is one of my favorite verses because it applies so exactly to our current society and my personal situation. It not only tells us to leave behind our evil but also that we have a great God that urges us to be like him and we can leave behind our evil so in that we can be more like him.
I also am incredibly thankful that the word of God is so relevant to not just our situations but also our life stages. I am 13, coming up on the prime of my youth, and the problems and hardships I face most certainly differ from a grown and working adult. It is in this that I find yet another incredible verse, Psalm 71:5 which states: “For you have been my hope, sovereign Lord, my confidence since my youth.” What this reveals to me is that no matter where you are in your life, whether it refers to your age, job, or social standing, you can hold a secure confidence in God that will stay with you even from your youth. In short, when I memorize scripture I marvel in God's relevancy, which is apparent in all of our day-to-day lives.
As we advance in our relationships with God I urge not only myself but all of us to push forward with scripture memorization because if we truly strive to involve ourselves in God's word, we must know God's word, and keep it with us in every situation we are presented with as our lives progress.

Yes! We must "keep [God's word] with us in every situation we are presented with as our lives progress." That's what memorizing scripture is all about! We don't puff our heads up with a bunch of sentences. We ask God to search our hearts and lead us through this life in a way that honors Him and makes us more like Christ! I pray without ceasing that my kids know this truth deep in their bellies. I'm beginning to see some fruit to my prayers. 

I'm happy to report that my brain is getting stronger. I've been able to review and actually remember scripture. I used to be able to multi-task in many ways, especially scripture memory. I could review pretty much anytime I wanted. Now I have to sit in the quiet, keep my eyes closed, and say the verses out loud. It's kind of funny, but hey! I'll take what I can get! 

This month I'm solidifying Proverbs 17:22 in my heart and mind. 

Proverbs 17:22 
A joyful heart is good medicine. A crushed spirit dries up the bones. 

What are you learning? Do you keep God's word active in your life in every situation you are presented with? Are you going to "push forward with scripture memorization?" 

Please comment with your verse. Leave some encouragement for Kyle. As you do, please pray that his heart will continue to be captivated by God and that his mind will grow in depth of understanding and insight. This happy and hopeful mom thanks you for praying for him! 

Talking Sex :: The Littles

Wednesday, June 19, 2013  ::   1 important comment

If you missed it, I decided to write a series on talking to kids about sex. After this post and this post, I received more than a few emails which led to good, hard, expectant, and hopeful conversations about personal growth and healing. I appreciate when people think deeply through their own lives to discover God's very best intentions of making them more like His Son. Thank you for being such thoughtful friends. I'm praying for you as you learn, grow, and heal.

Psalm 139:23-24
Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting. 

As we journey more into this process, please continue to be mindful to journey through your own story. It is naive and ignorant to think your own life in this area will not affect your kids' lives in this area. We are to steward them with diligence, faithfulness, attentiveness, wisdom, and with much, much prayer.

Kids are not dumb. They are observant, funny, talkative, little sponges building who they are and what they will think about life with each and every interaction they have with the world around them. Whether we actively value the foundation laying process of their lives or not, they will build, grow, learn, mature.

Below are a few thoughts on talking with young kids about these important topics.

Thought One 
One of the successes Chad and I have had in this area with our kids is to not freak out, tease, or ignore their actions or questions.

When Kyle approached us as a young kindergartener and inquired, "What does f@*$ mean, mommy?" Well, we may have freaked out a little because as we sat in shock he said it about five more times. Finally, Chad was able to calmly talk to him about choosing wise words as we speak. He answered Kyle's innocent question appropriately. Knowing our kids is so important in these times. Kyle has always been a word guy. He soaks up language, was hearing a new word in school, and wanted to know what it meant. It is not over simplifying to state that taking time to converse with Kyle in that moment built security in him to know he could come to us with his next question. Believe me when I say his questions have only grown in depth and complexity through the years.

Meet their questions with gentleness and respect. Think through the age of the child asking. What can they handle in your response?

Seven years ago one of our dear family friends was about to give birth. Kyle and Esther had been very excited and interested in the arrival of a new baby to our community. At lunch a couple of weeks before our friend's due date, they decided to question me about how the baby would make its arrival.

Esther asked, "Mom, how will the baby come out?"

Being skilled in diplomacy, I responded, "(Our friend) will go to the hospital and the doctor will get the baby."

She asked, "But how will the baby come out?"

I simply stated, "The doctor will help her, and then the baby will be here."

Not satisfied Kyle chimed in, "But how will the baby come out of her stomach?"

"Kyle. Esther. Are you sure you want to know?"


I started a very basic explanation and almost immediately their hands flew over their ears and they yelled, "No more! Stop talking! That's terrible!"

The next time they saw my friend, they approached her to give her a warning about what she was about to endure. My little community loving kids were willing to brave a difficult conversation for the sake of their friend.

Again, age appropriate answers. I didn't jump immediately into directly answering their questions. I gave them enough information to satisfy their need for knowledge of the situation. As a parent you must decide who you want answering your kids' questions. I don't know about you, but I want Chad and I to be the people they trust most in the world with their precious questions. Of course there are other people in their lives, but Chad and I ultimately are the ones responsible, especially in this sensitive topic.

Thought Two
Not overreacting about body parts is so fundamental in giving them security. Professionals generally state we should teach our kids proper names for their parts. I agree. But, because my family is a bunch of goofs, we also use all the other funny words. We are not a proper bunch. A few years ago a couple of my kids asked what the lady part was called. Their response was, "That sounds a lot like Virginia!" Why, yes it does, and it henceforth shall be called. My response? I laughed! We all laughed. Because it was funny. Teaching them is so much easier if you allow yourself to laugh. But, here is the key. I did not laugh at them. I made sure they knew that I thought they were brilliant and funny, not stupid for what they said. There is a huge wide world of difference. We laugh with our kids in these moments, never ever ever at them. That will build sexual insecurity faster than you can say Virginia.

But, we must make sure we are balanced. We cannot always make jokes about our bodies or we stop taking the special nature of ourselves seriously. We cannot always be so serious, or we dry up and blow away like dust because we are so boring. Roll with the style of your family. We all cackle like a bunch of middle schoolers (oh wait, half of us are middle schoolers) whenever the words balls or wiener show up in life. Every single time. It's weird. And I don't think it is unholy. Above all, honor God even in your humor. (And yes, those words show up more often than you think.)

For the most part in our home, we call body parts "privates." This is intentional. The word private means belonging to an individual person, restricted use. Yes. Exactly. "Private" does not conjure up shame. We've spoken to our kids that God made us beautifully, perfectly, intentionally, and there are certain parts He made that only belong to ourselves. "Private" means no one else touches, takes a peak, or has access to. We've talked with our kids at length about protecting what is private in life, not just body parts, so they have a healthy understanding of the word. Again, their is no shame associated with who they are, male or female, God created each.

Thought Three 
Chad and I want to treat each other with respect and dignity, especially in front of our kids, to show them Chad does not view me as an object and I do not view him as a taker. There is no groping in our home. Neither of us ever objectify other men or women. My kids have never heard Chad comment on a woman's body parts. He is a kind man who desires to teach our daughters they deserve to be treated as treasures. He is a strong man that desires to teach our son to see women as image bearers of God, not objects.

What about your heart, attitude, or home? How will the way you respond to the opposite sex influence how your kids respond? Does how you treat your spouse in public and in your home demonstrate love, respect, and dignity? Does how you look at people around you teach your kids that humans bear the image of God?

It is important to remember the difference between groping and affection. Showing your kids that you love each other through physical touch is also important. Holding hands, cuddling, a sweet kiss show kids that the love mom and dad have for each other is different than the love they have for anyone else. They will find security in the love you have for each other. Building security in your home shapes the security they will know in Christ.

Thought Four 
This one may be extreme for some of you, but I am speaking from experience here. Don't let your kids play too long by themselves or unattended with friends. Keep bedroom doors open when they have company. Check on them. Observe what they are playing. Ask them about their conversations. Don't interrogate them, but be interested in their thoughts, friendships, imaginations. Too much can happen to our kids when they are left alone. Know where they are, who they are with, and who they are talking to in your home, when you are out and about, enjoying the hospitality of others, and even at church.

Pray over them as the play. Ask God to give them pure thoughts. Pray that at the very least they will not be followers into areas they know are wrong, and also pray bold prayers that they will lead peers into good conversations and play time. From the beginning of parenting, I've begged God to not allow my kids to be given to rebellion and that each child would to desire to please Chad and me which would ultimately lead to their desire to please Him.

Final Thought for Today
Honestly, I could keep going on these thoughts. The more I write the more I want to tell you. Do you have any thoughts or questions about what I brought up in this post? I would love to know where you are in this journey.

1 Corinthians 6:19-20
Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought with a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies.

Moxie Memorizers, One Month and Three Days Late

Monday, June 03, 2013  ::   8 important comments

I'm so sorry for dropping the ball on giving you an outlet for accountability and encouragement in memorizing scripture. All my excuses revolve around discouragement and pity, so I'll spare you the details. I know you do not need this post to keep at the discipline of taking in the Word. I hope you are sticking with it.

Summer brings new intentionality with my kids in taking in scripture. Each day we are setting aside time to review old verses and work on a new one. Each kid has their own personal goal in how many verses they want to learn. Their minds are so fresh and ready, so the words practically stick like glue. I love it.
I'm asking each of them to learn Colossians 2:6-8. My heart's desire is for them to be rooted, established, and built up in Christ so that the hollow philosophies of this world will not take them captive. I pray this over them daily.

Therefore, as you received Christ Jesus the Lord,  so walk in Him, rooted and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding in thankfulness. 

See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of this world, and not according to Christ. 

Yes! This is exactly what I want for my kids. And for myself. And for you. And for the church.

Without being too whiny, it is still very difficult to remember new things...names, songs, schedules, and verses. People ask me regularly how I'm doing. Honestly, I feel better and better. However, this is an area that I can still notice my brain was changed. It's ok though. Don't fret. Little by little, better and better.

I'm still working to take in new verses, but as I patiently wait for it to stick, I've been focusing on old passages I've memorized. With Chad teaching through 1 and 2 Peter, I've thoroughly enjoyed remembering and reflecting on verses that have been written on my heart for awhile. Right now I'm playing 2 Peter 1:3-10 over and over in my heart and mind. 

His divine nature has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and goodness. 

Can you believe it? He has given us everything we need for life and godliness! Meditating on this alone has been mind blowing for me.

Skipping to verse five Peter tells us to "make every effort to add to your faith goodness, and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kinds, love."

A life marked by these characteristics is a life that is effective and productive in knowing Jesus and making Him known. Yes, please. I want that. I re-play this list over and over in my heart and mind. It's the meditation piece of memorizing that we should work towards.

Friends, I hope you are sticking with this discipline. I know you've heard me say at least a thousand times how beneficial it is.

What are you memorizing? What review verses are especially meaningful to you right now?


Wednesday, May 29, 2013  ::   Be the first to leave a comment!

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Sex Talk :: First Things First

Wednesday, May 29, 2013  ::   3 important comments

If you want your kids to grow up with the healthiest possible view on their own sexuality, you better have a healthy view of your own sexuality. Have you thought about that? How can I teach my kids something about who they are if I have no idea who I am?

If I want to teach Esther to drive a stick shift, then I must know how to drive a stick shift.

If I want impart my baking skills to Morgan and Carah, then I should know how to make delicious cookies.

If I want Kyle to excel in his crazy difficult school studies, then I better get him a tutor. Ha!

Of course all of my kids can learn wonderful skills without my influence, and they do! But when it comes to their view on sexuality, Chad and I want to be their main teachers and influences. I will not leave it to chance, others, or their own exploration. They are too valuable. Becoming the best teacher for them in this area is not an option.

As I shared in my last post, I had some personal work to do in my view of myself. I felt shrouded in shame and because of the unfortunate and unintended message of the church, I felt liked damaged goods. Thankfully, I experienced God's all-sufficient grace to me at a very young age. Some of the first healing he spoke into my life was through a perfect white rose in a beautiful rose garden. His words brought comfort, whispering to my heart that he saw me as pure as the rose I held in my hands. The difficulty came in the years of struggle, confession, and mind re-wiring of forgiving myself. Looking back I can see all the work sown into finding freedom and health enabled me to speak freely, openly, healthily about sex to my kids.

Each of us has a story in this area. The personal discernment of your own thoughts is a great place to start. Are you aware? Have you thought through your own upbringing and exposure to sex? Did your family talk about it? How? Openly? Discreetly? With confidence? With purity? What is your view on modesty? How did this view form? Are you comfortable in your own skin? Do you know about brain development in children and adolescents and how to talk to them with age appropriateness in these areas? Are you a question asker not only of others, but also of yourself? Think. I mean, thiiiink about these questions and others deeply, for your sake, for your kids' sake, and for the glory of God.

Once you've established a healthy growing desire to learn and mature with your family, you're all set. Notice I did not say, "Once you've got it all figured out you can start having conversations." Friends, I learn new ways of communicating deep things to my kids all the time. A good parent is not someone who is the perfect expert at everything. A good parent is someone who is on a journey of learning and growing to impart truth, wisdom, and understanding to your children. Knowing the difference is freedom.

It frees you to say, "I'm sorry, child."
To say, "That is a great question and I do not know the answer, but I will find out."
To say, "You are going through some whacky changes that I do not understand, but I will research to see what I can learn and not hold these changes against you or make fun of you or punish you out of my frustration."
To say, "I don't want you to behave in this way because it is destructive towards you and those around you. I want the very best for you."
To say, "I love you. I'm not the expert, but I'm your parent and God entrusted you to me to steward to the best of my ability and the best means I will read, study, pray, learn, grow with you."

As you journey in sharing very deep concepts with your kids, check your heart to make sure you've wrestled these very deep concepts for yourself. First things first! It is the same idea we hear on airplanes whenever we fly. "Please put on your oxygen mask before you assist those around you." Fresh oxygen gives you the perspective and ability to help. If you are still breathing in wrong thinking and ideas of sexuality, you will be unable to help your kids develop and grow with extreme health in these areas. Note: This is why the questions above are so very important. You do not have to have a story like mine to have an unhealthy view on sex. If you know nothing of biblical sexuality, but try to teach someone about it, aren't you trying to put on their oxygen mask before you've taken care of your own? Come to a place of ease, peace, beauty, healing, contentment in these topics so that you can communicate with your family without fear, prudishness, inappropriate humor, ignorance, or scientifically wrong information.

Is it a huge assignment? Yes. Absolutely. But, look around! Look at what the world is telling our sons and daughters about their bodies! I will take the assignment and do all the extra credit I can to give my kids the view that they are fearfully and wonderfully made, that God has purposed them to worship Him with their bodies, that He has called them to live a pure life that pleases him.  

Some of you may want to ask me if I may be over-thinking all of this a bit. Well, yes. I am. That's the story of my life. But, I hear on a fairly consistent basis what great kids I have...God's grace, prayer,  intentionality, and over-thinking, my friends.

Do any of the above questions resonate with you? Do you have a close friend or confidant with whom you can discuss these ideas? Have you considered seeking biblical counseling for areas you may feel stuck in your own healing process? If first things first is true, what is the first (or next) thing you need to do to continue to walk towards health in talking with your kids about sex?

Talking Sex :: A New Series

Monday, May 27, 2013  ::   8 important comments

I walked blindly past my family who sat in the living room. Sitting on my bed, staring at the wall while a tune from the top ten radio songs of 1988 filled the silence. Maybe it was George Michael's Faith.

"But I've got to think twice, Before I give my heart away, And I know all the games you play, Because I play them too...Cause you gotta have faith, faith, faith."

My heart longed to be noticed, to be valued, to be loved. The year was filled with personal turmoil. My friends had changed their minds about being my friends. I had unknowingly made some bitter enemies who worked tirelessly for my demise. An older boy pretending to be a man continued to force his way into my space, my regrets.

But this boy was different. I talked on the phone with him late into the night almost every night, hidden under my covers to disguise my disobedience. He shared his dreams and his dark thoughts with me. I felt noticed, valued, loved. Because I assumed I was so utterly alone and despised by all who knew me, the attention he gave me was intoxicating. If I couldn't be physically smashed by the alcohol I consumed on the weekends, then I created space to be under his influence in my emotions. His urges for more than I was willing to give him were flattering at first and easy to deny.

But now I sat numb in my room. My life was changed. I was a lonely, shattered girl pretending to be a woman.

This journey towards exploration and confusion started with kids in our neighborhood when I was in primary school. They had magazines full of nakedness and we all drank it in. I saw perfectly sculpted women and believed beauty to outward, manipulative, sexual. My thoughts sunk to levels that I had no ability to understand. These thoughts plagued me and followed me into desperate places. Sexuality became soap operas and magazines which were left to the interpretation of me and my childhood friends which only grew into what a boy would want, what I was strong enough to deny, and how long I could manipulate and avoid the reputation of being one of those girls, even though I already knew I could be the leader of those girls.

As I became a mom I found myself begging God for purity over my sweet new baby girl. My motive for her purity and her future siblings was based in fear, not in holiness. I longed for my precious treasures to escape the pain and work of walking towards health and wholeness in their sexuality. As the years have gone by, my motives in desiring to raise them up in the way of Jesus so they can walk in freedom and know for sure that they are noticed, valued, loved have matured.

I'm sure you've thought about the sinking sand of sexual turmoil that surrounds our children. Do you realize they are constantly bombarded in ways that make my childhood temptations look small? Commercials, store fronts, jokes, the internet, magazines at grocery store checkout lines, and peers at baseball, drama club, or school speak of situations and scenarios their young minds have no capacity to translate.

Speaking of the culture and world around us, 2 Peter 2:14 says, "They have eyes full of adultery, insatiable for sin. They entice unsteady souls. They have hearts trained in greed." On Sunday Chad taught about this verse. He explained to us that Peter warned that culture looks at every woman considering them as a candidate for adultery. I wanted to puke and weep all at the same time, thinking through my own story and all I've sown into my own kids to protect them from such heart break.

Most of you know I am passionate about raising up my kids to honor God, to walk in freedom, to know they are purposed to act justly, love mercy, and to walk humbly with Jesus. They are treasures God gave Chad and me to steward, so I strive to steward with action and intentionality. I pray, read, research, talk with others, and seek to understand so we can parent them to the glory of God. This most definitely includes discussing sex and sexuality with each of them. These discussions continue to grow and mature through each new stage and situation my kids face. I draw from the Spirit in my life, my own experiences, and helpful resources to do the very best I can to point to health and Jesus with each question and concern they have.

I've wanted to write a specific series about talking to kids about sex for awhile. The message Chad preached coupled with the age of my family spurred me to action. While I'm not sure how many posts I will write, I am sure this is necessary and some of you have asked me to do it.

Thanks be to God that He makes all things new. He continues to speak His love and value over my life. He loves me, of that I am sure. He makes beautiful things out of us, doesn't He?

These guys? They slay me. They are so worth the effort!  

If you have specific questions you would like me to address in this series, please leave a comment or send me an email.

Where I Come From

Tuesday, April 30, 2013  ::   4 important comments

I grew up in a small west Texas town called Kermit. I have some amazing memories and some horrible memories of that little place. I suppose most people could say that about their hometowns. That's just life in general. 

When I was nine, my parents decided to sign my brothers and me up for a program called 4-H. We raised animals, did leather working, took sewing classes, gardening, and other programs to teach us responsibility and commitment. I raised hogs, sheep, and steers. My brothers also raised goats. I spent many hours at the 4-H animal pens caring for and cleaning up after my animals. I may also have been involved in the mischief of practical jokes and dirt clod fights on a few occasions. My brothers and I would ride our bikes over and take our time hurry to get every chore done to the "best" of our ability. 

When we were younger 4-Hers we stuck with our local county stock show. As we got older we went to bigger fairs and shows. One of the most hilarious parts of the local show was a little game we called Grab. My old friends Ricky Holcomb, Andy Fires, and the other older kids would gather all the newer 4-Hers and out of town kids around for the game. 

They would take a cowboy hat, sprinkle coins, count to three, lift the hat, and all the kids would quickly reach in and grab as many coins as they could. Each time the game runners would increase the pot which in turn increased the greed of the players. The key was having the players close their eyes while the game was reset each time. It built excitement and anticipation. 

On the final round, we would all talk up how much money was in the pot. The young players' eyes would grow with determination. We would all chant, "One. Two. Three!" Every kid surged toward the awaiting pot of gold ready to strike it rich! Only this time, a fresh green cow patty squished between their greedy little fingers. Oh the tears! Oh the laughter! The kids that won the favor of the older ones were the ones laughing. The kids who ran crying to their mommies usually didn't make it into the elite group. One of my favorite cryers was my cousin who absolutely drove me batty. My young justice driven self loved every one of his baby tears. By the way, these days this would probably be considered bullying. But in the 1980s, it was considered awesomeness.  And yes, I once grabbed a hand full of warm squishy poo. It was a rite of passage in the Winkler County 4-H Club.  

The following photos are a peek into my childhood. Keep in mind at this time I lived in west Texas and had a very thick accent. We moved to New Mexico my senior year of High School and I was teased about the accent so I worked hard to get rid of it. When I am mad, tired, or fired up while teaching, that Texas twang still sneaks out of my mouth. You can take the girl out of Texas, but you can't take Texas out of the girl. 

Oreo was my first hog. Every kid's first black and white hog was, and probably still is, named Oreo. This photo shows when I'm realizing that my beloved Oreo was about to be sold in the auction to become bacon in someone's freezer. 
Ah, the life lessons I learned in the ag world. 

My first little hereford steer. I have vivid memories of halter breaking this guy. In my memory he's much bigger than what the photo indicates. I remember being drug around the arena when I was first working to break him. My dad stood at the fence yelling, "DON'T LET GO, ANGEL! YOU HOLD ON!" while my mom stood at the same fence yelling, "LET GO, BABY! LET GO!" 
I broke that dang steer, and was tougher for it! 

Oh yes. I graduated to this bad boy. I also graduated to wearing pants pulled up to my chest. That zipper has to be at least 12 inches long. The award I'm holding is probably for my awesome outfit, not the well built steer. 

I always loved the toughness it took to raise steers. Halter breaking them and caring for the hugeness of it somehow made me feel significant. Steers seemed determined even though their ultimate greatness would be in the quality of t-bone steak they produced. Sheep on the other hand were not great in my book. They were stupid and smelly, but I loved showing them. When I would show steers they were big enough to hide behind, so I always felt like showing my sheep took more finesse and focus. I'm sure it didn't make a difference, but to a young self-centered teenager, I felt how I showed the animal made a world of difference...good eye contact, setting its legs in the right place, holding its head perfectly. I loved the showmanship aspect. I could never control whether or not my animal had the right muscle and structure to win, but I could control if I won the showmanship award. It was often my goal at the fair. 

After we moved to New Mexico, my 4-H days ended. However, I then entered the fanciness of the Future Farmers of America club (FFA.) My teacher recruited me for the American Quarter Horse judging team. In 1991, I could easily tell you which horse in a class of four was the "nicest balanced, heaviest muscled horse in the class." In fact, our team won the state competition and went to the world competition in Oklahoma City where I placed ninth overall. That's right, you are reading the blog of the 1991 9th place World Champion American Quarter Horse judger. No autographs please. 

The world of agriculture shaped me in many ways. I learned responsibility, caring for something that was dependent upon me, the life cycle, community living, money management, business, leadership, and had much fun. In the words of one of my favorite country artists, this is "where I come from." 

Where do you come from? Please share something quirky from your childhood with us. Give us a window into your upbringing. 

Merriment Recap Part Two

Friday, April 26, 2013  ::   5 important comments

There were too many great photos to post all in yesterday's blog post. It would be almost wrong for someone to miss a great photo only because too many were grouped together. Chad has been guest speaking at a church in town that is looking for a new pastor. One of his illustrations this past Sunday was the difference between men and women when looking through photo albums. He said women are slow and pour over every picture, and men quickly flip through. He mentioned that when he and I look at photos together it takes me too long and he loses interest and then, right in the middle of his message, he called me out and said it was because I struggle with pride in the form of vanity.  Hahaha! It wasn't actually that blunt, but it was pretty darn funny. I've teased him about it plenty this week in our home and now I'm teasing him publicly on my blog. Who's vain now? (heehee) 

These are some of my favorites from the party. I hope you enjoy them, too. 

Our smallish church is blessed to have several very talented graphic designers. John W. has been part of my family for about 13 years. He gets me and I always love his art. Chad commissioned him to design this lovely invitation. Thanks, John. Great job as always! 

Because I'm a cool and hip 40 year old, we had to have an instagram hash tag. 

My good friend, Jamie, came in all the way from Virginia right in the middle of her semester. And, it's a good thing she did because this photo is awesome! 
jamie's photo (and one of my favorites)
Oh, the cuteness slays me! 

Little Miss L wasn't the youngest attendee, but she was the youngest masked attendee! 
blake's photo
Brad couldn't decide if he was classy or sassy so he just took the whole sign. Or he was helping clean up. I'll let you decide. 

My Morgan looks so mysterious and lovely.
jamie's photo
I think Carah may land in the sassy category, but sassy as in lively and spirited, of course. 

This lovely lady's smile can light up an entire room! 

Erin is what I like to call a "party sustainer." She is theatrical, hilarious, and can entertain like nobody's business. And then, put a mask on her? Watch out! She will captivate you with those eyes. 

Sassy, sassy, and sassy. These girls really know how to ham it up. I think I need some lessons. Fyi, Laura K. Moore is the one in the middle. She's the one who took all these lovely photos. Except this one, of course. Maybe her husband took it? 

Chad and his amazing party planning assistant, Tori, came up with a How Well Do You Know Angel quiz. I've caught a bit of flack about this quiz. Apparently, I don't tell you all enough random factoids about myself. For what it's worth, Chad got number four wrong, too. 

Now is your chance to ask me any random question for which you would like to know the answer. I am an open fact book. Can you think of one? Ask away! 

Thanks again for celebrating my birthday with me, even if it is just through reading these blog posts. I plan to write more on the significance of turning 40 for me very soon. I'm in a wonderful, unknown, and interesting life transition. I'm looking forward to unpacking it with you!