Monday, February 28, 2011

.turning a corner.

this last month has been hard. really hard. maybe all in all the toughest month of my life. satan has literally attacked every area of my being - my friendships, my love life, my family, my finances, my work and my body. the month of february has been exhausting, frustrating, unnerving, anger-provoking, devastating and empty. and i've been pushing back against God. i've been in the struggle with him, feeling like he's not fighting for me. i've been in a gnarly season of questions and stubbornness.

this last week there has been a little lull in the chaos and i've felt like i'm starting to turn a corner for the better.

me and God? we're talking again. me and my friends? we're starting to mend some of the brokenness. my family? we're starting to deal with the reality of living life without a man we loved so much. my finances? there's enough there to cover the deficit. my work? God is beginning to open doors we didn't think were open for this summer. i feel like God is beginning to move and i am am finally throwing in the white flag - surrendering my desire to control, giving up the struggle and letting Him fight for me.

today was the first day i've ever heard this song by brandon heath and it's helping me to cease struggling and trust:

I can’t walk without watching where I’m going
I can’t speak without knowing what to say
I can’t love without any hesitation, ‘cause I know that you don’t work that way
I can’t reach without something to offer
I can’t come now, I am so ashamed
I can’t hold out for you any longer, ‘cause I know that you don’t work that way

I’m not gonna fight you anymore
I’m not gonna try to lock the door
You took your life and gave me yours
There’s no reason why, I shouldn’t trust you with mine

It’s never easy changing direction
It’s so unnatural to loosen up my grip
Are you growing weary, of all my good intentions, ‘cause I know that you don’t work that way

I’m not gonna fight you anymore
I’m not gonna try to lock the door
You took your life and gave me yours
There’s no reason why, I shouldn’t trust you with mine

Some days this weight upon my shoulders is my shame I know I should know better
‘Cause you say that I must now surrender, there’s no other way

I’m not gonna fight you anymore
I’m not gonna try to lock the door
I needed life, you gave me yours
You took your life and gave me yours
There’s no reason why, I shouldn’t trust you with mine

Sunday, February 27, 2011

.simple - real simple.

i'm not sure if you've heard of it but there's this magazine called "real simple" i pretty much love it. i want to be it. before you think i'm a freak, let me explain what i mean by that last statement. i want to be it as in i want to live the life the magazine creates for you... example:

- i want to find new uses for old things so that i can a) not spend as much $$$, b) be more creative with my resources, c) be awesome

- i want to wear the cute color pairings it suggests - the rich burnt orange with the plum - who doesn't want to wear that? and the super cute dress that only costs what my entire "shopping" budget is for the whole quarter? i'd like that too.

- i want to be able to pull off the "you have 12 extra minutes? clean your entryway so it looks spotless and has fresh flowers and a wreath on the door" exercise.

- i want to host a party and have it be "just what i pictured in my head" but done on a manageable budget on a short time frame.

- i want to meet fascinating people and be able to tell their story in written word so that others can benefit from their life's lessons.

- i want to find a "classic look" haircut or jeans or shoes or sunglasses - something that is just me, that i know works and can default to that when all else fails.

- i want to be creative/organized/incredible enough to plan at least 3-4 fun meals in a week and enjoy cooking and/or sharing them with those around me who could use a little love in the form of food and a good conversation.

and finally...

- i want to get back to the "simple" way of life. the way of doing things that makes my life less chaotic and more simple. real simple.

but here's the thing. we started talking about "simple" today in the context of our faith. how do we go back to the basics of our faith in Jesus and what does it look like to become "real simple" in that regard? my friend kim had it down - here's her simple.

1) Jesus loves me.
2) I know it's true.
3) His promises are sure.

and i think that's where my priorities are skewed. even in my faith, i'm so worried about all the fluff - about what others will think about me, about how i will fit it into my day with everything else going on, about the gray areas that don't really matter but i spend so much time thinking/talking about, about why God seems to show up sometimes & not others, about why he would take away people we love, about why there's evil on this earth, about why the sun rises and sets.

i mean all good questions, but what really needs to be simplified? my faith. not my life. living that "real simple" lifestyle is a band-aid over the need to simplify my faith - a reality that will change everything and i mean everything about how i live my life.

to remember that there's no doubt that I'm radically loved by a God who keeps promises. the end.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

.trifecta mission... accomplished.

so there's this perfect weekend "mission" when you make a plan with people you really like to do something awesome and then it turns out just how you planned. it's a mission accomplished and a day well-spent. that's what happened on saturday.

life's gotten me down a bit lately and i've needed a pick-me-up whenever i can get friend cindy (who is the epitome of trifecta and coined the term, you'll have to ask her permission to know the meaning) is one of those friends who just knows when to show up. after homemade pizza & a night in our pj's, our saturday mission was as follows:

- 4 girls (two other trifecta missionaries - is it ok to call ourselves "missionaries" when the mission is wine?)
- breakfast & lattes
- one swanky winery
- burgers & fries
- a night on the town

first stop - jeannine's. i don't know who jeannine is but she makes a ridiculously good (and cute!) latte and some kalhua caramelized banana french toast that is worth every dripping calorie.

second stop - saarloos & sons winery, los olivos... a.k.a. heaven. these people rule. not only is their winery swanky and rad with a fire place, deer antlers, just the right interior design touch, fun gifts for friends and good wine with shweet vintage photo labels, but they have cupcake flights. yes, you heard that correctly...cupcake flights to taste with your wine flights. i'm sorry, what?

oh and then trifecta cindy happens to know some of the family who owns the place and our cupcakes and extra pours? on the house. um yes please. oh and one more thing, maybe the best part? drumroll please... they're DUTCH and i of course charmed them by playing Dutch bingo for at least a half hour, turns out they went to high school with my dad. rad.

third stop - a rainy walk to a few other wineries that paled in comparison to the aforementioned and we headed back down the rolling green hillside that resembles ireland this time of year and back to the beach. rough life.
fourth stop - the habit for burgers and fries of course, what else is appropriate post wine tasting?!?!?!?

fifth stop - a rest. also not an option for trifecta missions

sixth stop - state street... downtown santa barbara. we headed out that evening for some crazy mango mojito martini something or other and chatted it up with some fellows who played soccer and overthrew the band to sing a terrible rendition of "la bamba"
i'd call it a successful day. a trifecta mission... accomplished. amazing friends who know how to love me well during a season of difficult things. ahhhhh... life is good today.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

.papa was LOVE.

This man exemplified Christ more than anyone I know.

He was patient with me when I didn’t get it right the first time and he’d always wait for me and let the others go on ahead. He was never too busy or in too much of a hurry to stop and pray – over new cars, road trips, new houses, new babies – you name it, he took the time to pray. Papa was kind when my behavior didn’t merit kindness in return. He did not envy what others had, instead he knew that he was beyond blessed and was an amazing steward of what he was given – he was an honest businessman and an incredible husband, father, grandfather & great-grandfather.

He did not boast… well unless it was about Jesus or Anna Mae. He was not proud… except for of his Dutch heritage and the USA :) He was not rude – he always made space in his life for others and treated everyone he met with the respect they deserved as a child of God. He was not self-seeking – I don’t know anyone as selfless as Papa, from picking up hitch hikers and telling them about Jesus to always showing up when we needed him to be there and even in the last days, he was thanking nurses in the hospital for changing his iv. He was not easily-angered, in fact his nickname was “Papa No Biggie” because he didn’t let much get to him and would always bring a smile to our faces when we were upset about something.

Papa kept no record of wrongs against anyone, ever; everything was forgivable and his love was so unconditional; I’ve never felt more loved by someone than I do by him and Gramma. He gave second chances and never made anyone feel like an outsider. He did not delight in evil; in fact the scowl would cross his face when bad stories came on the news or when he heard of one of his grandkids doing something he didn’t approve of. He truly did his best to live like Jesus. He always rejoiced with the truth – Papa’s favorite thing was to hear about one of us following Jesus or doing ministry or singing in church or baptizing our kids. He sought after Truth with his whole life and that was his desire for each of us.

Papa always protected us, Gramma and his relationship with Jesus. I’ve never seen a more amazing model of someone who carved out time with the Lord and time with his family because he knew the value of those things. He always trusted in the Lord no matter what life brought – bouts of cancer, hard times with the business, challenges with family – his trust was 100% in the Lord and what he could do. He always hoped for the best and believed the best for us, even if we didn’t believe it for ourselves. When we were sad or upset, there was always hope in Papa’s smile, in his words, in his actions.

He always persevered through whatever life brought his way and he did so without complaining or grumbling, he just put on that grin, prayed, grabbed Anna Mae’s hand and walked through whatever challenge was next.
Papa will never fail to be someone who deeply influences my life. The life he lived and the legacy he leaves will be something that brings many more to Glory.

Much of who I am is because of who Papa was. There are days when being in full-time ministry is draining and you want to quit – I keep going because Papa always wanted a preacher and he taught me to never stop sharing the good news with people, even if it is daunting at times. There are days when I don’t believe in love anymore and then I look at his relationship with Gramma and remember that their marriage is reason enough to believe in love and to have hope for the future. There are days when I take my life too seriously and I look at Papa and remember that it’s “no biggie” and it will all work itself out.

And there are days when I will see that smile in the pictures I cherish and be reminded that life is beautiful and that God is so good to me. My life is changed for the better because I got 30 years with Papa. He has been one of the biggest spiritual influences on me and I will continue to pray for a man who loves me as much as Papa loves Gramma and who will continue to point me toward Jesus, come what may. “And we believe it!” Gramma, you are deeply loved by 49 of us and we will be here for you. You and Papa have had such an incredible impact on us and we consider it a gift to love and support you and honor his legacy... it’s the least we could do.

I love and miss you Papa, more than you'll ever know.

Friday, February 4, 2011

.opa's journey begins.

We are sitting here eating spaghetti and baked goods (comfort food for sure). Today was a day where we felt God's presence completely. He had a night with a bit of restlessness & was sick of the tubes and sick of the nurses coming in. He just kept saying, "I wanna go home."

That hospital room was sacred ground today. At times in the day, Papa gets restless and anxious and we've figured out the only and best way to calm him down is to pray, sing hymns or read scripture to him. We can't imagine doing this without the HOPE we have in Christ. Truly. We cling to His promises in these moments. It was such blessed, sacred moments with his kids, grandkids, great grandkids and sister-in-law around him today, praying for him, singing with him, reading scripture over him. God is gracious and we know his faithful servant is highly favored as we sense peace the minute we cry out to Jesus. Amen for that.

At one point in the day, nothing else was working so one of the grandkids said, "Papa, do you want to sing with the little kids?" And he nodded. We brought Anna Mae, Johnny and Cameron in the room to sing with him and his eyes lit up and he sang every word to "Jesus Loves Me" and "You are My Sunshine." The kids and Opa were happily singing and the adults stood watching, teary eyed at the faithfulness of our Lord through generations. Unbelievable. And then he said, "Can those sweet kids come home with me when I come home?" To which we responded, "Of course."

Our best news is that Papa's word for himself "discharge" is coming true!!! We had a family meeting with our beloved doctor and friend, Holly Stewart this evening and we all came to the conclusion that the best thing for Papa is to come home. That's all he's been asking for for days and he just wants coffee and Anna Mae. So we say "let it be so."

Holly encouraged us today to let his wish be our command and to just spend this time loving the heck outta that sweet man and walking him home to Jesus. So we do so. With tears in our eyes and thanks in our hearts, we will bring him home to begin his final journey to Jesus tomorrow.

Ways you can pray?
- Pray for Oma/Anna Mae - this process is different for all of us and she is such an amazing source of strength, but this journey is hardest on her.
- GIVE THANKS for amazing neighbors who turn down beds, bring food, get groceries, do dishes & provide support. We are grateful.
- Pray for the kids/grandkids as they each process in their own way. It's been amazing to hear stories of his inspiration & faithfulness. It's a sweet time.
- Pray for a smooth transition tomorrow as he comes home - that he would be in minimal pain and loads of peace in being home.

We have spaghetti and we have each other. We just sat across the table and Oma said, "This is not how we would have planned it, but isn't this time a gift?" Amen and amen. We are blessed with the gift of each other and like Donna said the other day, "It's just so good to be together - to laugh, to cry, to remember, to pray." I know one thing for sure - God could not have given this man a more supportive family and there's nowhere else I'd rather be. We are beyond blessed and he will be discharged. :)

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