Thursday, March 31, 2016

Double Standard

We are in the process of looking for a 8 passenger vehicle.  Since our family will likely be growing by 1-2 kiddos, a bigger vehicle would be helpful so that we can all ride together when we need to.

No worries though, I get to keep my mini van since most of the time it will be just me hauling around kids.  *all the live long day*  And I'm attached to my van, literally and figuratively.  I'm not ready to say goodbye, and I'm certainly not ready to be parking a beastly vehicle at Target. Or Aldi.  And don't even get me started on drive-thru's.  Seriously, I would be a danger to society.


We've been scouring dealerships and Craigslist.  I've learned a few things.

  • Tell friends what you're looking for and BAM they are totally helpful.  
  • It's funny, because when we are looking for a vehicle our standards suddenly shoot through the roof.  I mean, we want to buy from that person who maintained their car meticulously.  And the interior?  Well we want that to be super clean even though we're looking at vehicles that are ten years old (because HELLO, SUV=ridiculous $)  Basically, we want to buy from someone that is the opposite of us.  It must be in fantastic shape so that we  can treat it with our usual messiness and it will still last.  Totally logical.
  • I sat in a Suburban at a dealership and wanted to cry.  The hood alone is 100 feet long.  
  • I'm totally confused at the appeal of SUV's. 
  • Whatever magic ingredient is in those SUV's, it's made of money.  One we drove past (while choking) was $73,000.  I can't even.  No words.
  • Maybe we should just try to find an old limousine.  And then I could use the privacy window and block out the noise.  Frankly, it seems more practical. 
  • When we do finally find one...and on the rare occasion I have to drive it...everyone should just plan on standing back or moving over or whatever you've got to do to stay alive while I'm behind the wheel.  It's like they should require a special license to drive those things.  
  • Just kidding, I'm sure it will be fine.  *cough*
Mini Vans rule.  And so do Volvo Wagons (which is actually my dream) but I have too many kids for that.  Some people drive sports cars when they're old.  I'll be in the Volvo Wagon.  

The End.

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Random is What I do Best

So yesterday I mentioned the riveting information about my lost fitbit.  It's really no wonder that in the past 87 days I had gotten emails from strangers that wondered if I would be blogging again.  I mean, who doesn't want to be informed of this interesting stuff?!?

So I have like (literally) four friends on fitbit.  Steph, one of my bestest in real life, is one of those friends.  She's missed me on fitbit this past week because, let's be honest, she missed me making her feel better about herself.  All her other friends are over achievers, and my average of 7,000 steps a day helped make her feel better.  *encouragement is my spiritual gift*  So yesterday we met for lunch at the park and she mentioned how I should get a new fitbit or I should call Walmart and see if someone turned it in last week.  Pfff.  That would never happen.  Even in Iowa.  But, after the park I called the Walmart and asked if someone had turned it in last week.  I described the odd bracelet contraption it was in (because I had been trying to make it less ugly but it turns out less ugly means easily lose-able.)  And the dear lady went and looked for several minutes.  

Annnnd she found it.  

Reunited and it feels so....   eh.  It's fine.  It's a dysfunctional relationship, but Steph is happy so I am happy. *insert smirky smile*

And don't go trying to find me on fitbit...unless you average under 7,000 steps.  Otherwise I will just have to be annoyed with you. :)

In other news.  

Whenever I start something new in life, it tends to dominate my conversations.  And life.  

Insert Foster Care Subject Again.

Someone asked which books I had read in regards to trauma, and I decided it would be good to put them on here because it's helpful.  And it helps me keep track. (each link will take you to the book on Amazon)

Parenting the Hurt Child: Helping Adoptive Families Heal and Grow 

Two days in a row of blogging.  I shall reward myself with Starbucks.  

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

87 Days...

Facebook keeps reminding me that its been 87 days since my readers have heard from me.  And I think, that can't possibly be.  But it's true.  

Let's bullet and catch up and then try not to get so far behind.  

  • Tonight we start class 5 of 10 for foster care training.  We've had 1 of 3 home visists by the licensing worker, and everyone we know has been contacted or asked to fill out various paperwork on our charachter and overall well being.  We've filled out a bajillion forms and answered questions that date back to childhood.  Next week, alllll of us go in for physicals to prove that we are healthy enough to foster.   Fun times.  
  • I've read four books on my own, all based on parenting kids with trauma.  Can you guess my area of concern?  
  • Every week at our training class (which lasts three hours) we have to do group work.  I hate group work.  And class participation.  It's the worst.  #introvertproblems.
  • In the past 87 days we have bought a fire extingusher, lock box for medications, a fire escape ladder, and have gotten the bedroom all set up and ready to go.  It's so dang cute.  
  • Plans for particular kids have been back and forth and on and off and then on again.  It's a roller coaster that often leaves me feeling sick to my stomach, and impatient.  It's all part of the gig.  I repeat to myself over and over.  And over.  They are worth it.  All of it...even group work, is worth it for the kids.  My "no" is far harder on them than my "yes" is on me.  
  • I got that last part from Jason Johnson's Blog.  It's some of my favorite reading material.  If you're interested in foster care, or simply have someone in your life that is involved in foster care, go check it out.  I've learned so much, and I wish I had read it before we got into foster care, because I feel like it would have helped me better support our friends who were doing foster care!  
  • There's lots more to our life than foster care.  I promise.  Our kids are growing like crazy.  And man, I just like them.  I often wonder how I got such great people.  It's all by God's grace.  I think I may have always secretly wondered that after they got out of the cute little-kid phase I might find them annoying.  HA.  Again, introvert problems.  But, it turns out they are only annoying a leeetle bit of the time.  It's fun to see them grow and mature.  At the same time, I'm going to have a high school kid next year.  And he's currently in drivers-ed and it makes me happy and sad all at the same time.  
  • I got a fit bit for Christmas and lost it last week.  I'm undecided if I'm replacing it.  I wasn't a huge fan of wearing it, and it's constant judging was a tad annoying.  But still.  It's like that dysfunctional friendship you just can't let go of...
  • I'm working through this Bible Study and I love love love it.  It's not super dynamic and exciting, which is what people are generally looking for.  It's practical and life changing.  "God's Word is for you, and for now."  Plain and simple.  If we ever want to truly know God and be changed by Him, we need to be in His Word daily and regulalry.  It's Living Water.  
  • So there's my life for the past 87 days.  Sorta.  

Monday, December 14, 2015

Let's Chat...

Our family is venturing into the world of foster care.  

*moment of silence to let that process*

I've come up with a million different ways to share that information.   Many entailed details and stories and "looking back" that lead up to the climatic news, rather than just simply throwing it out there for you to choke on.   But for us, it's kind of the same way God led us...He really just dropped it in front of us (rather obviously) in a way that felt like it came out of no-where.  Of course it really wasn't out of no-where, we had just been doing a reaaaaallly good job of trying to ignore it.  

Someday I'll share those details.  In the mean time, we are in the beginning stages of becoming licensed.  Already it is frustrating.  Brokenness is always frustrating.  Broken system.  Broken people.  But God is not broken.

When I was 14, I made a decision to trust Jesus.  It was not on an emotional whim.  It was a literal wrestling with counting the cost of that decision.  I had been presented with truth, there was no denying that.  And I had a decision to make.  Trust Him, and hand over my life to Him.  Or reject Him, and do my life, my way.  I read scripture, trying to find a middle ground, a loop hole.  Something that said, "Hey, you can trust Jesus AND live life your own way!"

That verse doesn't exist.  

Instead, this does: 

Luke 14:25-34The Message (MSG)

Figure the Cost

25-27 One day when large groups of people were walking along with him, Jesus turned and told them, “Anyone who comes to me but refuses to let go of father, mother, spouse, children, brothers, sisters—yes, even one’s own self!—can’t be my disciple. Anyone who won’t shoulder his own cross and follow behind me can’t be my disciple.
28-30 “Is there anyone here who, planning to build a new house, doesn’t first sit down and figure the cost so you’ll know if you can complete it? If you only get the foundation laid and then run out of money, you’re going to look pretty foolish. Everyone passing by will poke fun at you: ‘He started something he couldn’t finish.’
31-32 “Or can you imagine a king going into battle against another king without first deciding whether it is possible with his ten thousand troops to face the twenty thousand troops of the other? And if he decides he can’t, won’t he send an emissary and work out a truce?
33 “Simply put, if you’re not willing to take what is dearest to you, whether plans or people, and kiss it good-bye, you can’t be my disciple.
34 “Salt is excellent. But if the salt goes flat, it’s useless, good for nothing.
“Are you listening to this? Really listening?”

I was a 14 year old kid.  But I knew to count the cost.  I exchanged my will for His will.  It was my best decision.  And my hardest decision.  Because my is strong

Years later, Ben, my then boyfriend (now husband), shared that God was calling him in to ministry, I knew in my heart he was right.  I also knew that it wasn't what I wanted my future husband to be called to.  Because that seemed hard.  

Ministry is hard.  (for the record.)  But it is also beautiful.  And worth it.  And the place we are called to be.  

When God dropped this foster care stuff in our path, I immediately felt like the 19 year old girl learning her boyfriend was called to pastor.  I knew in my heart that's what He wants for  us...and I also knew I'd rather be called to something else.  Something easier.  

This following Jesus stuff, it's hard.  It's not a one-time-thing.  It's a continual laying down of my will, and accepting His.  His's always, always, always proven better than mine.  Always.   But that doesn't make it easy.

We have no idea what's in store.  Or where all of this will lead.  But we are taking the steps of faith, in obedience.  *With trembling.*

Thursday, October 1, 2015

It Matters

I've been thinking a lot about encouragement lately.  About how we all need it.  About those who give it freely.  And about those who...don't. 

I received a card in the mail the other day.  Written inside were a few short sentences of encouragement.  Nothing lavish or over the top.  Just simple sentences letting us know they appreciated how God is using us.  And it was one of those moments that hit me me hard.  Like crying outside the post office, hard.  Because it was just so sweet of them to send it.  

And apparently I needed it.  That's how encouragement is.  We all need it.  And we all need to give it.  

Maybe it's harsh to say this, but *oh well* I think most people think they are a fountain, when in fact they more often act like a drain.  Me included.

Some people definitely have the spiritual gift of encouragement.  This lady that sent the card, it's her gift.  It is.  

For others of us, we need to work at it a little.  We need to say the nice thing out loud.  I like to just think it.  Because thinking it in my head still seems like a nice thing to do.  But it needs to come out of my head and go into their heart for it to matter.  

Over the past several years I've learned a few things about encouragement.  One, is that in ministry & life, you will spend a great deal of time just encouraging people.  Over and over and over.  Like a cheerleader...only without the pom poms and short skirt.  Sometimes it will make a difference.  And sometimes it won't.  Cheerleaders don't control the outcome of the game.  They just cheer their little hearts out regardless.

I wasn't quite prepared for that.  I have sort of the exact opposite of a cheerleader personality.  In fact, "not a cheerleader" is on my long list of "Things I'm Not: Why Did God Call Me to be the  Wife of a Pastor?" 

And God, as usual, shows me He's not limited by what I'm not.  It's Him in me.  And so He prompts, and He prompts and He prompts some more.  And I write the email, or the text, or make the phone call.  And tell people *out loud* what I'm already thinking in my head.  Because I  need to hear it as much as they do. 

There's a phrase I find myself saying often when encouraging people: "It matters."  Whatever they are doing, whatever they are struggling with, whoever they matters.  It was only recently that I realized that part of the reason I'm saying it all the time is because in a way, I'm saying it to myself.  When I tell them it matters, I'm reminding my own heart that it matters.

Cheer somebody on today.  Say the nice thing.  Everyone needs some encouragement.  Let them know it matters.  You can do it.  *insert toe touch*  (just kidding, I can't even bend over and touch my toes, let alone jump in the air and do it.  But you get the idea.)

(all images obtained via pinterest, I have no idea who the copyright belongs to, but it's not me)

Friday, September 25, 2015


The beginning of this month marked T E N years of ministry for us here in Tiny Town.  

A decade.

So much life has happened in ten years.  I can hardly wrap my head and heart around it.  

I've tried over and over to at least compose a post in my head about the past decade.  But I seem to get so far, and then decide that's not something I want to share.  And then I start from a new angle, and end up at the same point.  A bullet-point list of all I've learned seemed totally do-able.  But nothing.  And so I wait for the words to come.  And wait and wait and wait.  

This morning an Internet friend (Tracy) posted a link to a Beth Moore article and as I read it, I suddenly knew what the writers block was.  Me.

"The most basic one-word synonym for “disciple” is “learner.” Maybe you need to know today what I’ve needed to know so many days: learning, for a follower of Christ, is still a mark of discipleship even if you learned some lessons the hard way.
Or the excruciating way.
Or the embarrassing way.
Or the exasperating way.
Or the explosive, expensive or excessively long way.
If it attached you to the Teacher, if it marked you with Him and caused you at all to imitate Him, that’s the beating heart of discipleship."

I am overwhelmed with what God has done in me, this past decade.  Not through me, or because of me, but in me.  

And here's what God made me realize this morning:  "Learning, for a follower of Christ, is still a mark of discipleship even if you learned some lessons the hard way."

Early on in ministry, I would have defined "success" for myself as not failing.  I mean, I wouldn't have said that out-loud, but in my head, that would have at least been part of the definition.  In order to succeed, I needed to get most things right in most situations.  I'm the pastor's wife after all.   It only makes logical sense.  And I am, after all, l o g i c a l.  And I operated under this unspoken expectation of mine for many years.  

But God is different.  He works inside and outside of the logical.  

He took my "most things right in most situations" mentality and flipped it on me.   And I wondered why God would go and make a mess of things that I had WORKED SO HARD AT NOT MAKING A MESS OF?!?  And then the mess settled, and it became clear.  Sometimes a mess is required to make room for better.

And I learned something that I should have known logically, but didn't know practically.  God is glorified in the mess.  And He changes me in the mess.  In my mess.  I don't have to get it right all the time.  And it's in my failures that I grow in Him.  And that's all He really desires from me.  To grow closer to Him.  Everything else is an overflow from that.  I knew this to be true of other people, but my expectation for myself in my position had been different.  *God is not limited by me not getting it right all the time.*

Can I tell you something?  If you have a pastors wife in you life...let her mess up.  Allow her to disappoint you.   It's for your good, and your church's good.  When she doesn't say the thing you need to hear.  When she's not the friend you want or her for that.  Because she's as messed up as you are.  And when you can see her that way, you give her freedom to grow into who God wants her to be.  And it's likely not what you want her to be...or what she wants to be (ha!) but it is most definitely what God wants.  I am thankful for people that have loved me in my messy.  

Here's what I've learned.  Successful ministry is not about the church always getting it right.  Or the pastor and his wife being the right people.  It's about disappointing each other and living and loving through it!  When a church can do that, God is glorified...and the impossible becomes possible through the unleashing of His power.  

I am so thankful for the people in our tiny church that have loved us through our learning/failing/loving process and who continue to walk this journey of faith with us.  I'm sure there are times when they've wondered if better options were out there.  I've wondered that for them.  But that's the beauty in it.  The coming and working together that would otherwise be impossible if not for God. 

It is a blessing to have been loved well these past ten years.  My prayer is that He continues to help me to love Him, and love others.  It's that simple.  All the good....that's Him.

John 13:35English Standard Version (ESV)

35 By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”

Monday, September 14, 2015

Stained Glass

A week or so ago, Ben and I had the chance to see one of my favorite bands, Rend Collective, live.  Normally, I'm not a huge fan of concerts because: People.  My loathing of crowds usually trumps all.  But this time they were playing in a smaller venue with balcony seating...which = my idea of a good time.

So we bought tickets the night before (procrastinators) and went out on a school night.  

Rend Collective was fantastic.  Seriously great.  And they played some of my favorite songs right off the bat, so now they have my heart forever.  

And yes, I bought a (grown up version) poster and taped it to my wall.  Near the living room.  One is never too old for a poster.


There was a guy that opened for Rend Collective, and his name was Jon Guerra.  I had never heard him before, but really fell in love with his music.

I imagine that there's pressure being the opening act for a band.  You're the little guy, playing first, and you know the crowd paid for tickets to see the other band.  Basically.  But as he sang, his music ministered to my soul.  Deeply.  And if I met him (and his lovely wife that sang with him) I would tell them that being the opening-act...well, it's a big deal.  It impacts.  God uses the big guys.  And the little guys.  

I'm always a fan of the little guys.  The underdogs.  The less known.  It might be why I love my church church so much.  

One of my favorite songs he sang was called Stained Glass.  And so I have to share.  

Stained glass explained: