Sunday, June 11, 2017

Choose To Love Through It All

Since year 5, I have dreamed of what our 10 year anniversary would be like. Me in my dress, dinner together with the boys, and then a big trip with just the two of us. A trip we wouldn't normally take. One of those you actually have to save up for. I've had these plans forever and never really thought about them being different. Until about a month ago when all those plans seemed to not matter that much anymore. 

We were hit with one of two of the hardest times in our marriage. A hit that left us speechless, angry, hurt, confused. This isn't about that but it is about taking a hit and choosing to pull together. Marriage is something that some see as a magical "thing" to do. Roses and champagne kind of life. I would say, for the most part, we have had a roses and champagne kind of life. But when you are hit with the unexpected, you have two choices: give up or fight. 

I think a hit often tears people a part. They lose sight of what really is in front of them and that is the one they promised to stand beside for better or for worse, in sickness and in health, etc. This last month has been anything but glamorous. We went from the excitement of selling our house, being days away from moving in to our new home, to Nick losing his job, to living in a bedroom of our friends house. Some of the most selfless people I have ever met. We are beyond grateful for their generosity and friendship. (It is nice to have another girl in the house. ;) haha) It's not easy. It hasn't been easy. There have been many sleepless nights, crying myself to sleep, wondering what the heck did we do wrong. And all the while, Nick and I have chose to love each other through the bad times just like the good times. We have inevitably had to choose love over heartache and disappointment. 

Let's be honest though, this all comes because we know there is a God who loves us first. I can tell you that we would probably not be in a place of working on this together if we both didn't have a relationship with God. Despite the pain, despite the anger, the long nights of confusion, there is someone that we can turn our hope to. I fully believe a relationship with God brings a marriage around full circle.

Marriage is just not easy. If your marriage is all roses and champagne please tell me your secret. I'll use it for these next 10 years. But seriously, if you encounter some hard times in your marriage, don't just give up. Fight.  If you are a believer, find some other couples who are believers, couples you trust and can share with, but more importantly find some couples who will pray the hell out of your marriage. (literally) We have. You said the words the day you got married. Honor them. Make them real.

**This does not mean stay in an abusive marriage at all. No. You get out. You call me and I will help get you out. You deserve so much more than that. You do not deserve to be treated like that and that is not how God intended marriage to be.

Friday, July 8, 2016

Hate and Blame Are Not the Answer

Yesterday I wrote a personal post about my family. This post was shared many many times.  My heart was overwhelmed with thankfulness. Not because I had written it and certainly not because I felt like it was super inspiring and well written. I wrote it because I wanted people to see the heart of a real life experience. I wanted people to see that we need change. I wanted people to begin to understand what is happening in our country. I wanted people to begin to acknowledge that hate exists among us.

Then, last night about 8:00, my husband and I both started getting text messages. "Have you seen the news? Did you see what's happening in Dallas?" No, no I haven't. We are grocery shopping before my husband leaves on a missions trip tomorrow. "It's awful. Officers have been shot. There are snipers shooting at them. There was a peaceful protest and it was ending and then snipers just started shooting. It's awful sounding."

My heart sank to the souls of my feet. My husbands face looked numb. It was almost like we couldn't speak. We hurried home to get the boys in bed so we could turn on the news. It was total chaos. The sounds of gunshots roaring through the air. Why God Why? This is not the change I had in mind.

Your heart should be breaking in to a million pieces right now. If it's not, you're part of the problem. If your heart is not breaking for Alton Sterling and Phinlandro Castile, you're part of the problem. If your heart is not breaking for those police officers last night in Dallas, especially the ones who were killed, you are part of the problem. HATE AND BLAME ARE NOT THE ANSWERS.

We cannot hate every officer for the actions of the officer that took place in Louisiana. Why? Because we end up losing our good guys. The officers last night had nothing to do with what happened in another state yet they are the ones who have suffered. They courageously and bravely stood up to protect those around them because that is their job. We have to stop grouping every officer in the BAD COP category.

We cannot blame every black person for the actions of the snipers that attacked the officers in Dallas last night. They do not represent the entire black community. Stop blaming black people for the actions of a few. Not all black people are thugs.

Friends, I don't have an immediate solution like so many of you asked of me yesterday. This has been a problem far longer than just this past week. At times it makes me question, is there a solution? If there has not been a solution before now, is there one? My thoughts lead to this, educate, be educated and don't dismiss. Don't dismiss what is happening around you. you will never understand what you don't acknowledge. Take off your blinders and don't dismiss the hate and the blame. Educate your children. Teach them from the time they are able to talk to love everyone. Teach them kindness and compassion no matter what. Allow yourself to be educated. If you don't understand, find someone who can help you. Don't be afraid to ask questions but when you ask them be willing to listen.

If you are not a believer in Jesus Christ then I imagine this won't mean much to you but since I do this is what I believe. The devil comes to steal, kill and destroy. And he is doing just that. He is taking the lives of our people right in front of our eyes. He is turning us against each other any way he can.

We have got to stop seeing our neighbors as our enemy because of the color of their skin, because of their profession. I believe we are very close to seeing the return of our Lord and I want to be ready. Do you realize that there will be cops and black people (people of all color for that matter) in heaven? God does not pick and choose who he thinks deserves to enter in. None of us deserve it. There is no good deed that we can do that will give us a quick pass in to the kingdom. But by the grace of God and the salvation that we receive through him, ALL people who have confessed their sins and accept Jesus into their heart shall be saved and can enter in!  God is looking at the hearts of His people. Not the color of their skin. Not the job that they do every day.

Prayer changes things. We may not see it today, tomorrow, or a year from now. But prayer changes things. It's time we stand for what is right. Pray for those who do wrong. Weep with those that are weeping. And most of all, we need to LOVE our neighbors as Christ has loved us. God loves every single person that walks this Earth. He loves you. He loves you more than you will ever know.

Thursday, July 7, 2016

Dear Friends: Promise Me You Will Read the Whole Thing

For all my friends that know me well know that I hate confrontation and arguments. I would rather just do what needs to be done and avoid it at all costs. But, for the last two nights, when my husband has fallen asleep, I have gone to the bathroom and cried. I have cried over the loss of a man that I didn't even know. I have cried because there is a fear inside of me that wonders if someday this could be my husband or one of my three sons. PROMISE ME YOU WILL READ THE WHOLE THING.

This is not a post about white cops killing black people so please just keep reading. This is a post about a wife and a mother wanting you desperately to understand the world we are living in and the reason we react to certain news stories the way we do. In fear.

When I met Nick, I met a funny, smart, incredibly good looking man. A black man. A black man that became my husband and the father of my three amazing boys. He and my boys did not get to choose what color of skin they have. God did that. And since God is the perfector of all things, I would say their skin is just perfect. Imagine if you had a son/daughter born with down syndrome, mental retardation, born without an arm or a leg, etc, imagine if one of my boys or me and my husband made a joke about them? Remember now, it was only a joke. It would anger you to the core. It would hurt every fiber in your being. Why? Because they didn't choose this disability. They are your son/daughter and you love them no matter what. So imagine when you make a joke to me or my husband about a black stereotype. "Oh Nick doesn't like watermelon. I thought all black people do."It hurts. It's not funny. You may see us laugh it off and shake our head, why? Because if we say anything to you about it, you become defensive and say Oh I was just joking. It was just a joke. It's just a joke to you but your joke is part of the problem.  PROMISE ME YOU WILL READ THE WHOLE THING.

Two weeks ago my husband and I were in Walmart. He saw the lady watching him the whole time. We were in the self-checkout. We rang everything up, checked out and left. She was still watching him. We are almost to the door and the cashier comes running to us. "A customer didn't see you scan the two air mattresses. Can I check your receipt?" (A customer?) Yes mam, here it is. "Oh there it is. Sometimes things just don't show up. I didn't see you ring it up." Wait, you first said a customer. Now you say it doesn't always show up. Now you say it was you that didn't see it. See, I know what you are thinking friends, we are making it a race thing. We have had plenty encounters to know when he is being targeted for race and when he is not. So please, don't try and dumb this down to being nothing. That is part of the problem.

Let me ask you a few questions: Have you ever had your 3 year old nephew come home upset because his white friend said he didn't want to play with him because he was black? (Explain that to a 3 year old) Have you ever ridden with your husband through a town where the KKK is still active and fear grips his face because he is just praying we make it through there without breaking down and before it gets dark? Have you ever had someone in the store ask you, "Oh is he yours?" talking about my son. Have you ever had anyone ask you, "Oh, where is she from?" talking about my niece because they thought she was adopted. Have you ever been asked if you are still with THE daddy because you couldn't possibly have the same dad for all three boys and still be with him. Have you ever gone to school to get your Bachelor's degree and people just assume you are there to play sports? My husband did not go to college to play sports. He went to further his education.

I hear what you are saying. Trust me. I know you know us. I know you know what kind of man Nick is and how we are raising our boys but society doesn't. Not everyone sees him as a well educated black man. A black man who was a coach, a middle school teacher and now a High School Youth Minister. Not everyone will see the big heart he has, the hard worker that he is, the compassion that he feels for those in need. They will only see him as a black man. Someone they need to watch closely. We are raising three boys to the best of our ability. God fearing, respectable, hard working, compassionate, kind to everyone. We can do that. We can pray for their protection and pray that they always follow God's heart. We also have to prepare them for the way they will be treated because of the color of their skin. Their skin. Something they did not choose. PROMISE ME YOU WILL KEEP READING.

We always hear that it takes a village to raise our kids and we do. But I need to know that my village is not part of the problem. I need to know that you don't dismiss every story you hear because "people are just playing the race card again." I need to know that you are teaching your kids to love everyone despite their skin color, how much money they have, what kind of car they drive, etc. I need to know that when you pick up my baby that you don't see him as the cutest mixed baby (because apparently all mixed babies are the cutest which just isn't true) but as world changer. I need to know that if someone is being mean to my kid because of the color of their skin that you will have the guts to stand up to them. I need to know that you want to see this world change from the hate that is in it to a world where people are loved not because of the color of their skin but because they are a human being.

And here is where I need you to PROMISE TO KEEP READING because this is where I'll just be real honest. Don't you DARE tell me I shouldn't fear for my husband and sons because it will never happen to them. Don't you DARE tell me that it's different because my husband is not a "thug" and he acts right. Do you know how many people have "acted right" and still been killed? Don't you DARE tell me to sit and talk with an officer about all the crap they have gone through until you have set with my family about all the crap we (including my in-laws) have gone through. (This happened this morning.)

You see, this is not a cop vs black people problem. It is a society as a whole problem. We don't want to acknowledge it unless it affects us directly. I have told stories of things that have happened to me and my husband and people act shocked. "No, not here. Not in our town. I just can't believe that would happen. It must have been a misunderstanding." This is part of the problem. You don't want to see it. You would rather keep your blinders on and hope that someone else fixes the problem.

As a wife and mother, I try not to fear anything for my family. I pray and I try my hardest to trust God in everything. This is what I do know. My family loves the Lord with all their heart. We will serve him despite the news reports. We will serve him no matter how we are treated. We will tell the good news to those who need to hear it. We will raise our boys to be God-fearing men. We will love those who love us and love those who hate us. Will you join us? Will you love no matter what? Will you seek to help those no matter the color of their skin? Will you get out of your comfort zone and try and understand someone else's footsteps who are not like you? Will you be part of the change?

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

5 Reasons I Love My Church

Before you stop reading because you think I think my church is better or because you are ready to begin listing all the reasons your church is better than mine let me be clear. I don't think my church is better. I could list way more than 5 things that I love about my church. A debate on whose church is better is not my intent.

However, my intent is to get you thinking. Why do you go to the church you do? What is it that keeps you coming back? Do you have a reason or is it just a place you go because you are "supposed" to go to church?

Here are 5 Reasons I Love My Church:

1. The Children's Ministry: It's the reason we stayed. The boys love it. With the exception of Jaxson who is getting the hang of things, the boys aren't screaming and crying and holding on to our legs because they don't want us to leave them. The children's staff have created an environment that the kids love to learn about Jesus.

2. The Love for Our Community: I am always so excited to hear about the way we are going to be involved in the community. Our church grounds are not closed to the public and you don't have to be a member to be there. Come enjoy the volleyball court, bbq grill, splash pad. We want you to feel like you belong.

3: Our Pastor: Real. Authentic. No sugar coating. I'm so thankful that we have a pastor who will preach what the Bible says without being afraid that he is going to hurt someone's feelings. He cares about those who walk through the church doors but he cares just as much for those outside the church doors.

4. I Can Pour Out What I'm being Fed: Church shouldn't just be a place that you go and get fed your spiritual feeding and then leave. Come back, get fed again, repeat. There is a time when you need to take what you are getting and pour it out somewhere else. There are a ton of volunteer opportunities that are presented to us. If you're not volunteering, it's your fault because there is something for everyone. What's that old saying, God doesn't call the qualified, He qualifies the called.

5. It's Comfortable: Hold on. The message might make you uncomfortable. Remember what I said, our pastor is real, authentic and there's no sugar coating. But the church itself, it makes it comfortable. Come hang out at the coffee bar. Wear shorts if you want too. Drink your coffee while you worship. Music too loud, we have ear plugs. Don't know where something is, we have the greatest VIP team to help you out. Worship plug: We have the BEST worship team ready to lead you.

I know as some of you read this, you probably read it with a little bit of eye rolling. You're thinking, coffee bar, loud music, splash pad, lights.... of course they attract people. You are exactly right. We want people that would normally not walk through church doors because they feel uncomfortable to walk through ours and feel like they belong. We want the person who went to the party last night.  We want the drug attic who has hit rock bottom. (Celebrate Recovery- Monday nights at 7pm) We want the person who is simply lost and needs someone to notice them. So yeah, maybe we do have some extravagant things on our campus but we do extravagant things because God has given us some extravagant staff and some extravagant volunteers to do some extravagant work for him.

So why do you go to your church? Do you walk away each service feeling refreshed and renewed? Better yet, do you walk away with the desire to serve and pour out what you've been given?

SN: This blog is strictly my own thoughts and my own opinions.

Monday, May 23, 2016

He Sees the Bigger Picture

About a year ago, we had some big changes happen to our family. Sweet Jaxson came two weeks early and Nick started a new job. My head couldn't seem to wrap around the sudden job change but I could clearly hear God repeating, I see the bigger picture. I know you don't see it but I do. So, I trusted and He was right, He could see things develop that I would have never seen had Nick not changed positions.

I feel like time and time again God repeats, just remember, I see the bigger picture. The other night Lawson and I were walking in to Walmart holding hands. I was holding his hand pretty tight because I knew he was going to try and play around and run ahead of me. I would slack up a little so he could get a little farther from me but when I would see a car coming I would quickly grip his hand tight, pull him back again so he couldn't go any farther. Lawson of course through a small fit because I wouldn't let go. He had no idea a car was coming because he wasn't paying attention and because he wasn't tall enough to see past the other cars.

Just like I held on to Lawson's hand because I could see what was ahead, God holds on to us. God sees so much more into the distant future than we can. He knows our needs and He also knows our fears. There are times when we are headed on what seems like the right path for us but it's at that moment that God's grip becomes a little tighter because He sees what lies ahead. We throw our fit because we don't get our way but He never lets go. We may let go of God but He never lets go of us.

Whatever it is that you are anxiously awaiting or maybe you have just been given a detour of where you thought you were going, God sees what lies ahead. Trust in Him.

 I love the lyrics to the song Oh No You Never Let Go:

Oh no, You never let go
Through the calm and through the storm
Oh no, You never let go
In every high and every low
Oh no, You never let go
Lord, You never let go of me

Thursday, February 25, 2016

It's Going To Be More Than You Can Handle

I don't know what the IT is in your life but IT is going to be more than you can handle. I know, you've been told that "God will never give us more than we can bear." Here's the truth to that... It's not true. You won't find it in the Bible. You might possibly find it on a Pinterest poster under amazing quotes but it's simply not true. People often relate 1 Corinthians 10:13 to this phrase. Paul was writing about temptation not suffering.  I'm sorry for what you are going through. I'm even more sorry that someone has told this very phrase to you. You're probably thinking how could you possibly be this strong Christian, letting this circumstance way you down because you should be able to handle it. That's because you are human. That's because you need God more than ever before.

If we could handle everything, there would be no need for our faith in Him. Do you honestly think losing a child is bearable? Do you think seeing your spouse suffer and die from cancer is bearable? I can't imagine. These things are unbearable BUT with the hope and trust in God that his promise to never leave nor forsake us is what is going to carry you through. Deuteronomy 31:6 says, "Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you." This is your HOPE!!

Isaiah 43:2 When you pass through the waters,
    I will be with you;
and when you pass through the rivers,
    they will not sweep over you.
When you walk through the fire,
    you will not be burned;
    the flames will not set you ablaze.


Psalm 23:4 When you pass through the waters,
    I will be with you;
and when you pass through the rivers,
    they will not sweep over you.
When you walk through the fire,
    you will not be burned;
    the flames will not set you ablaze.


You are in the toughest battle of your life right now but God is not surprised. You don't think you can handle anymore...You can't without Him. Lean on him. Trust in Him. He can carry you through. It's not going to be easy but by the Grace of God you will overcome. 

So the next time someone tells you, he will never give you more than you can bear, throat punch them (or call me and I'll do it.) Or, simply say, Your wrong. I can't bear this but I know God won't leave me alone to do it by myself. He is with me ALWAYS. 


Thursday, February 4, 2016

Teachers Care

Hey mom and dad I know you are frustrated. You feel like your child's teacher doesn't like them. You feel like the school is against them. All you want is for your child to get a good education. All you want is for his/her teacher to teach them, everything. It can be hard leaving your precious cargo in the hands of someone else for 7+ hours a day. (I get it. I have a son in school too.)

You see, as a teacher, we don't just have your child. We have an entire classroom full of someone's babies. We have to make sure that every student in that classroom is well taken care of and getting the education that they need. It is our duty. It is our job. It is also our calling.

I understand you are frustrated and are now sending me an email every 3 hours because I wouldn't help your sweet boy tie his shoe. After all, you did say it was my job to teach him that skill and I did. What you don't know is for 3 months we sat at recess and went over and over "Over under around the tree..." and one day he finally got it!! I was so proud of him. I even let him get a prize from the treasure box. So when he asked me to help him tie his shoe, I told him no, you can do it now.

I understand that you are frustrated because your daughter came home and told you I wouldn't let her turn in her work. I get it that would frustrate me too. But see, I have been asking her for her work since last Friday and she kept telling me she would turn it in. Now it's past due and no, I wouldn't accept it. Remember when you told me it was my job to teach her to be responsible?

As teachers, we are constantly told that we are responsible for the way children act, what they learn, let's be honest, we are responsible for making sure they eat their lunch. It's not a fairyland here at school. No. Sometimes it's just the opposite. We are hit, kicked, cussed at, lied about, belittled, etc and still, we come back, every single day. We come back because we care.

We really do care about your child. We care so much that sometimes we take our own money to buy them lunch because you forgot to pack one. We buy them a coat when we see they are wearing short sleeves in 32 degree weather. We stay after school and tutor them to make sure they don't fall behind in Math and Reading. We sometimes neglect our own families because we are preparing the next day for your child. We see your child with great potential and that's why we expect the best from them.

So mom and dad, please remember when you are ready to beat down our door in anger, we have cared for your child in ways you can't imagine. Your child has disrespected us in ways you don't want to admit. But still, we love them and we will continue to teach them not just because it's our job but because we care. So if you want to do something, pray for us. Pray for wisdom that we can give each child in our class what he/she needs. Pray for strength. That when the days are tough we are tougher. Pray for understanding. Pray that we understand exactly what it is that your child needs. Pray for our safety. We never know what might enter our classroom. Pray for rest. Just because we go home and lay our heads down doesn't mean we are not thinking about the little boy who just lost his dad or the little girl who always wears shoes with holes in them. We are by no means perfect and we will/do make mistakes. But if we work together as a team we can make a difference in your child's life. We are in this together.