Do you need a miracle in your life?

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DON’T GIVE UP.

Does your marriage look hopeless? Does your wayward child or addict relative seem like they won’t come back? Are you depressed or anxious and have battled it for years? Keep on praying and persevere. Joey and Lauren are living proof that God is still at work doing miracles. Just last year I posted this video from our friend Brian Haynes’ church. It encouraged me in a dark time when I was feeling very down about my own circumstances.

Over the last couple of weeks, I went with my husband and two kids to Israel. Guess who was on the trip, too? That’s right, Joey and Lauren. It took me a day or two of trying to figure out where I knew them from, and it was this video! If you are contemplating divorce, take heart, God can work in the hardest of hearts. Just ask Joey and Lauren.

Joey and Lauren seated together on the right

Joey and Lauren seated together on the right

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If you need a miracle, I hope that you’ll be encouraged like I am by Joey and Lauren’s story. It’s not just a story, it’s a reality that I had the joy of seeing lived out in front of me for two weeks as I hiked with them and twenty-something others in Israel. They are real, authentic people who are in the process of loving God and loving each other. It is beautiful and a joy to see!

This is the repost:

Today’s text from our friend Brian Haynes will speak for itself: God moments happen all around us all of the time. I love that God is constantly at work in people, in marriages, and in churches. If you need hope for your life, your family, your marriage or your church, take 6 minutes to watch this short documentary. It is a God story.

Mentoring

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You don’t have to be a mom to mentor. You don’t have to be a wise old sage. You can mentor in any phase of life. In fact, I believe it’s crucial to be in mentoring relationships of some sort at all times. These relationships can be give and take, and they can ebb and flow. They can be casual, or intentional. You can ask someone to mentor you and meet with you once a month, or every couple of weeks. May I suggest you don’t do this:

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A casual mentoring relationship can be ongoing, or one-time. A mentor can simply be someone who is further along or more knowledgable than you in an area of expertise. This can be in spiritual matters, work/professionally, parenting, marriage, or a hobby. The sky’s the limit! The point is, it doesn’t have to be weird. Here’s an example of how a casual mentoring relationship could begin:

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Or you call and ask your friend to teach you to apply makeup because she is so good at it, and you’ve always been a granola kind of girl and you have no idea what you’re doing. She’s delighted that you asked, and you make a day of it, including lunch and coffee. Girl time, she shares her expertise, and you look and feel great. Win/win/win!

One of the great things about mentoring is that it is really a two-way street. Although as a mentee, your goal is to learn and glean wisdom from your mentor, they are also learning from you. I meet with a younger friend periodically in a mentoring relationship. Recently as we visited, I was telling her about a struggle. She posed a question as a possible solution that pierced my heart as soon as it left her mouth. Her words ended up being the very thing that catapulted me into freedom from that struggle. You may find, like I did, that if you are in a mentoring relationship, you learn as much (and more) from your “mentee” than you thought you would. Life’s kind of funny like that.

Some of my best mentoring relationships have been covert ones, kind of undercover. Let me explain. My kids are pretty much grown now, but when they were little, I would watch and observe my friends parent their young ones. Many of my friends mentored me in parenting even though they didn’t know it! I learned so much about how to discipline my children, parent them, and creative ways to teach them things I hadn’t thought of- just by observing other families in action.

The same goes for marriage. We have several good friends with thriving and enviable marriages that are fun to watch. I glean so much from watching them do life together. That’s casual mentoring. They probably have no idea that they are mentoring me (unless they are one of my 50 readers, Ha!)  but I have learned more from them than any marriage seminar could ever teach. Why? Because it’s real life. Practical. I learn from that.

What about you? Who is on your Mount Rushmore of mentors?

mount-rushmore-hours

God is constantly at work in us

Jesus, marriage, Uncategorized

Today’s text from our friend Brian Haynes will speak for itself:

God moments happen all around us all of the time. I love that God is constantly at work in people, in marriages, and in churches. If you need hope for your life, your family, your marriage or your church, take 6 minutes to watch this short documentary. It is a God story.

Love my man!

love, marriage, Uncategorized
Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas! photo by Christian

I’ll be completely honest with you…I’m just excited to have a decent picture of Herschel and I together. So excited that I had to post it here for you! As our kids have gotten older, we’re able to have more and more spontaneous dates and time together. We love that we get to spend more time alone as a couple as they grow. But there’s something really fun about getting dressed up for a special date.

Company Christmas party got us out of the normal “Hey it’s just the two of us, so let’s go to Chipotle for a salad” date. I love those times. But the occasional special date night can sometimes give us a fresh perspective!

Seven weeks of community

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Picture this: the seven loudest people that you know. Four adults, three kids, and a mild-mannered dog. For seven weeks, our good friends, a family of four, lived with us while they were in transition. Their current house sold, but the new house wasn’t available for seven weeks. I’m calling this time in our life: Seven weeks of community.

Besides the fact that all seven of us are extremely loud and talkative, you’ve got to know that we aren’t related to this family. We’ve only known each other for six years. They were some of the first people to be friendly with us when we first moved back to our hometown. We felt like fish out of water after we returned from a tough two years on the mission field in West Africa. We were blind-sighted by the fact that we had reverse culture shock. We joined a new church where we didn’t know tons of people, and felt as if we were starting over in a whole new chapter of life. I distinctly remember the first time I visited with this couple. I was at a roller skating church event for the kids, and I was alone while my 3rd grader went around in circles. I remember trying to strike up conversations with a couple of other moms: Failure! I’m sure I was socially awkward, but didn’t realize it. I just felt so lonely, then this couple struck up conversation with me. They looked so genuinely happy and friendly and I love that they threw me a life-preserver when I felt like I was drowning in social awkwardness.

Fast forward to present. Lots of sleepovers for our teenaged girls, dinners, karaoke, Superbowls, New Year’s Eves, and throw in a couple of crisis situations when they were there to help us with hard decisions. You get the idea.

This fall our son headed to a dorm apartment for college, and the next weekend our friends moved in. It just made sense. Otherwise we’d have two empty bedrooms upstairs, and that seems like such a waste when our friends are in home limbo for a while.

Think about the good, bad, and ugly in your home that occurs on a daily basis. Imagine that you had cameras posted, out of view, to observe your family’s activities for seven weeks. A little scary, huh? Although our friends got to witness a few of our less-than-stellar family moments, it was worth it! I learned so much by having them here.

First of all, I believe that we are made to live in close community with others. American culture does not value community, but fierce independence, even when it’s to our detriment. That’s why so many people asked them (privately, of course) and us: How’s it really going? Isn’t is stressful? Our answer was: It’s surprisingly wonderful! We knew it would work out okay, but it surpassed our expectations. We need to lean on other people, and to learn from them. Sometimes this can only happen in close community. That’s because otherwise, we can fake it. We can act as if we have it all together, then go home and fall apart. If you go home and you’ve got another family there, you have witnesses! It turns out that this was a beautiful thing.

The last couple months have been the worst for me health-wise. If I’m honest I also confess that emotionally it’s been pretty rough, too, because of my health problems. However, the past seven weeks have been some of the richest for me on many different levels: friendship-wise, spiritually I have been challenged and grown, and I’ve been forced to show my vulnerability and need for others. If they hadn’t been here to witness it, I would have put on my brave happy face to the world because I’d be too proud to tell anyone I have been suffering.

Another benefit was that we learned from them while seeing their family interact. It’s amazing what you can learn watching a married couple as they do life, and it helped me to see how they love on their kids and parent them. We certainly didn’t have a spiral notebook out and plan to be creepy watchers, but we gleaned so much during the ups and downs of daily life. It was good!

Maybe you won’t have another family live in close quarters with you for a month or two, but you can intentionally connect closely with a couple of families that you trust. Be real, and show where you are weak and struggling. Celebrate daily joys and victories together. You’ll all be better for it. Plus it’s REALLY fun!

I love this man!

commitment, love, marriage

Marriage is not for sissies. Anyone who’s been married for a couple of years or more will tell you that! It took me about a year of being married to learn this. Okay, it probably only took me a month or so, because I quickly learned that it wasn’t really like Disney’s Cinderella movie where we’d ride off in our carriage together into the sunset and live “Happily Ever After”.

Here's what I thought marriage was

I was pretty shocked when we got back from our honeymoon and there weren’t birds singing in chorus as I did my chores around the house. Very disappointing that squirrels, birds, and friendly mice didn’t help me get dressed each morning. Seriously, I think I watched Disney’s Cinderella way too many times!

It didn’t take long for me to realize that being married meant I’m still me.  I still wake up with morning breath, next to someone else who may or may not have morning breath. (Let’s protect the innocent. This is not his blog, so it’s only fair to leave out any of his imperfections.) I remember devouring books on marriage because I quickly learned that I was in big trouble if I didn’t figure out how to do this thing called marriage. I didn’t really know how to be a wife. And since I am pretty selfish by nature, how would this play out? I don’t think I’ve got it all figured out now, but we usually work together in a good rhythm as a couple.

I love this man! He's a man of integrity, he's passionate and full of life. This is him teaching junior high students.

Over time I love my husband more and more, as we experience life with all of its joys and sorrows together.  In fact, I might go as far to say that when we persevere as a couple through the trials of life and difficult times, we love each other in a deeper way. Now that I’ve nauseated you with all of that, I can go back to my initial point: Marriage isn’t for sissies. The daily ups and downs of life are the reality. Maybe one of the biggest things I’m learning in marriage is love can be a romantic feeling. But love is also much, much more than that.

Are you going to wear white?

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Yep, that's me on March 1st, 1997

I distinctly remember someone asking me this question 15 years ago as Herschel and I planned our wedding. I was coming into the marriage as a mom already. I had a very cute 4-year-old boy, Christian. With the support and love of my parents, I had made the decision to be a single parent and give life to him. It was really hard and really wonderful. When the person asked me, “Are you going to wear white for your wedding?”, I defensively answered, “Yes,” but I did think about it. I wondered: What should I wear? Red? Cream? Brown? Everyone already knows I’m not a virgin; They saw me as a twenty year old pregnant girl and I’ve given birth!

Fast forward to today. I don’t have to ask myself that question anymore. When God looks at me, He doesn’t see all the stuff I’ve done wrong and define who I am by that. I know if my wedding dress were based on my past actions, it would be a filthy rag. But that is not who I am today. When God looks at me, He sees the righteousness and beauty of Jesus. I am free to wear a beautiful, white garment and wear it with joy and freedom.

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Isn't this sweet?