Sunday, January 29, 2012

Reflections of a Mother of Boys

I have an almost-two-year-old boy and an almost-born boy.

I am, undoubtedly (and blessedly) a mother of boys.

Oftentimes I worry that I won't have "what it takes" to raise godly men.

So, I prayed.

I prayed searching for answers, wondering how exactly am I making a difference in the daily life of my boys right now; today?

Is my son even aware of anything right now besides string cheese, Elmo, and looking for the cat on the roof???

The Lord answered me in the most amazing and unusual of ways that only He can do.

He pointed me not to my actions with my toddler, nor the prenatal vitamins on the shelf; but rather, He led me to the daily tasks that as a wife I do in love for my husband.

He pointed to the nights a week that I come home pregnant and exhausted from work and do the entire night routine so that my husband can go the gym. He pointed to dinner on the stove every night. He pointed to the snacks at the grocery store I pick out just for him (jalapeƱo Sun Chips).

The Lord said lovingly, “Treating your husband the way that you do, is speaking louder than you’ll ever know. Your sons in the future will seek women in their lives that treat them as good as you treat your husband.”

Now wait a minute.

I’m just getting started on this whole mom thing!

I burst into tears simply walking by backpacks at Target thinking about the dreaded day when my son will start Kindergarten.

But much of the Lord’s nature is planting small seeds and allowing them to grow.

1 Corinthians 3:6 I planted the seeds in your hearts…but it was God who made it grow.

These tiny and loving daily (mundane) chores and tasks, that from time to time I feel only I notice or appreciate, are not just the obligations of a wife and mother.

They are God’s call to us to prepare not only our marriages, but our sons for their marriages.

I don’t know about you, but I want my son to be with someone that treats him like the amazing person he is.

I know now that this starts with me.

Titus 2:7 In everything set them an example by doing what is good.


Thursday, January 26, 2012

Five Minute "Friday" : Tender

It's Friday (somewhere) and I am celebrating by joining The Gypsy Mama with her weekly five-minute post.

The purpose of this is to write unedited and unscripted for five mintues of blogging fun!

This weeks' word: Tender

Being tender is an art.

It is one thing to show gentleness and compassion for another in a time of need; but it is another entirely to show tenderness. Being tender involves not only approaching a situation with ease, but with sympathy and almost caution.

A tender wound should be approached with the utmost care.

How many times have we embraced another's pain for our own comfort instead of approaching with the tenderness of truely encompassing another's anguish?

Can we ever truely sympathize with another? How hard do we really try?

Jesus promises that through His eyes we can stand by one another most strongly. Through Him, He who knows all pain and all suffering, we are able to most closely connect those otherwise shallow transactions of human companionship.

Only by allowing ourselves to open up to Him can we truely open up to each other.





Redefining Friendship / John 13:34-35


We are not alone.



Not only do we have Jesus readily available to us throughout each and every moment of our life, ready and able to assist us with our every need and struggle; but we are also blessed in this world with another amazing thing: community.

Ever since high school my sense and definition of “community” has been shifting continuously.

It first shifted when I graduated high school and said good-bye to that closer-than-close-spend-every-waking-moment-together period of friendship.

You know, where you walk to the movies before you can drive (because walking for four hours is way cooler than having mom drop you off). And then when you can drive, all of you squished into your first clunky car in school parking lot listening to the radio and pretending you can’t hear the warning bells of pending classroom lessons.

College offered new friends and new faces and new challenges; struggling with who I really was as a person made friendships fleeting and shallow.

I gained a few life-long friendships from my college years; but not many.

And, by that time, only three of my high school friends were people I was somewhat consistently in communication with.

Then, after my marriage, my idea of community shifted yet again.

My best friend became my husband and looking for social outlets became a team effort.

We gained friends also in long-term relationships, as married couples often do. 

However, I think my internal understanding of community shifted the most dramatically after I had my son.

I had felt like I lost my whole community.

Being a young mother meant that I had no time for friendships (or what I defined friendship as). I was too tired.

I also struggled with the fact that many of my friends were still single and most without children.

I didn’t have the luxury of going out on a random Tuesday or really doing much of anything without at least a week’s notice (nor the energy).

I made a decision to cling to my husband and my son and be their community first and foremost.

I still have my amazing friends that I am so lucky and blessed with from many different time periods in my life.

I merely reoriented and redefined my expectations of both myself and of them.

Asking God to be the leader of my friendships has been an incredible journey.

Earlier established friendships have become deeper and more meaningful.

I have also been blessed to develop many new incredible friendships.

I have learned that a not-immediately-returned-text is a merely a reflection of the busy lifestyle that we all live; and not a reflection of the success of the friendship.

And, most importantly of all, I have learned that God has created a beautiful masterpiece in my life that will bring about friendships and experiences with the people around me to glorify Him (which is the greatest beauty of all).

The very best part? I do not have to do a darn thing.

This past Monday morning was more chaotic than usual.

Mentally bombarded with never-ending “to-dos” amidst my early morning routine my husband called me into our son’s room to point out a leak in the ceiling and roof.

Great. Just great.

Maybe I am getting better at this not-freaking-out thing, or maybe I am just exhausted, but I simply lifted it up to the Lord, scooped up my son and headed out the door.

That next day I got a call at work from a professional colleague from another business who wanted to go to coffee with me (also a young working mother of two kids).

Though the meeting was mostly platonic and business, I couldn’t help but answer her “How are you?” with the tale of the hole in my toddler’s ceiling to start off my week.

She started laughing and said the most bewildering thing: “Me too!”

She continued nodding, “The exact same thing! My son’s ceiling has a huge hole in it right now! Isn’t this rain insane?”

I was amazed. I felt a sense of peace knowing that someone out there was going through the same thing I was.

I don’t relish in the fact that she is also having a crazy week complete with gaping holes in her ceiling; but I do cherish the fact that God promises that I am not alone.

That we all go through this stuff and that He will continue to provide me with all the community I need; through Him and through His children.

I am confident that my idea of community will continue to stretch and grow and morph just like many of my ideas as I grow deeper in my walk with the Lord.

But, is it not wonderful to delight in in the fact that I always have a friend in Jesus?

And as long as my idea of community centers around Christ (and my family second), I am sure to be on the right track.

He is all the friend I need. 

No offense to my dear human friends.

John 13:34-35
So now I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other. Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples."

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Broken to Saved

For the last few years I was really not so excited about who I was when I was 18.

...Or 19....Or 20.

It was a rough few years (to say the very least).

It was lonely and depressing and heartbreaking and miserable.

Those years are a part of me that I would really love to forget.

Or would I?

I cannot even remember my train of thought driving in my car the other day.

Regardless, I can remember I had one of those really cool (God-given) epiphanies.

Maybe those years are what is most beautiful about who I am today.

For, if it’s true that what is most beautiful about me is what Jesus does through me, then surely the stark contrast of 19-year-old Kaitlin and 24-year-old Kaitlin is nothing but a pure and remarkable image of the glorious goodness of God.

And that’s something I can be excited about.

I was broken and lost and over the last four years, I can just feel myself coming together in wholeness through nothing but the amazing grace of Jesus Christ.

If God can take distracted, drunk, messy, broken 19-year-old Kaitlin and turn her into happily married, focused, hardworking, mother of one and one-to-be 24-year-old Kaitlin, in just FIVE years, I am eternally excited to see what He can do in the next five years (Ten years. Twenty five years).

John 8:12 When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”

In both pictures I am smiling.

This picture?




I was 19, pretty drunk (pretty typical), at a large party (lonely), woke up in the neighbor’s pool (ugh).

This picture?




Me and Jesus. J


Friday, January 20, 2012

Blog Sprint: "Vivid"

A Five Minute Blog “Sprint” (no editing/five minutes only): Vivid

I am joining The Gypsy Mama for "Five Minute Friday"

What do I think about when I think about the word “Vivid?”

First, let’s be honest, for some reason I thought about Vivian. You know, Vivian Banks, Will’s mom from The Fresh Prince of Bel Air.

But I digress…

When I think about the word “vivid” I think about wonderfully vivid colors swirling around in a cosmic abyss.

Vividness, in my brain and understanding, is equated with clarity and beauty.

Perhaps it’s another way to describe the way my perceptions of the world are changing as I grasp onto and grow deeper into learning more and more about our Savior.

Slowly, but surely, my world view (both globally and inwardly) is becoming less foggy and more and more vivid (clear and beautiful).

Decisions are becoming clearer; self-worth and self-esteem becoming more beautiful.

Instead of looking up a Bible verse with the word “vivid,” I just googled for a verse containing the word “clarity.”

Surprisingly (or not surprisingly?) I came across a section in Proverbs:

Proverbs 2:2-6

2 turning your ear to wisdom
and applying your heart to understanding—
3 indeed, if you call out for insight
and cry aloud for understanding,
4 and if you look for it as for silver
and search for it as for hidden treasure,
5 then you will understand the fear of the LORD
and find the knowledge of God.
6 For the LORD gives wisdom;
from his mouth come knowledge and understanding.

Looking for the beauty and the clarity that God can provide your understanding of the world, will turn your each and every day and how you relate with your world from murkiness to vividness.
Come out from under the haze, into the sun!

Thursday, January 19, 2012

God Sent Me A Used Vacuum



God sent me a used vacuum. EXCITED!

Our vacuum broke. I have toddler, lots of carpet space, and, albeit, a little bit of a heightened cleaning “inclination.”

I do not have the money to buy a new vacuum right now.

I wanted to put off the purchase of a vacuum until I could receive my tax return.

But even then, I have a few other larger items I need to purchase before a certain somebody joins the Evans’ family (our soon-to-be arriving second baby boy).

Stressed out; I turned to God.

I threw out a request on Facebook for a vacuum to borrow until I could purchase one and also asked around at work.

Nothing.

Forgot about it almost.

Moved on.

Counted myself out a prayer.

But God didn’t.

Many days later, I received a random, unsolicited text from my sister-in-law that her mother-in-law knew I was looking for a vacuum and that she was purchasing a new vacuum the next day. Her “old” vacuum worked well still and was mine if I wanted it.

All smiles.

In a world of so many evils and hurts and sorrows it almost seems silly to be so excited and thankful over receiving a used vacuum.

But, God knows it isn’t just a vacuum.

It’s a reminder that…
a)      God provides / But my God shall supply all your need according o His riches in glory by Christ Jesus Philippians 4:19
b)      God never forgets even your smallest worries and struggles / He remembers his covenant forever, the word He commanded, for a thousand generations Psalm 105:8
c)      Even when you count God out, He counts Himself in / Your love, O Lord, reaches to the heavens, your faithfulness to the skies Psalm 36:5

It’s a great day to be God’s child and to Trust in the Lord.

~~~***see the previous post for information on how to enter a $20.00 giveaway to one of my favorite sites Dayspring just for reading my blog!***~~~

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

(in)spired giveaway!

(in)courage and Dayspring products has generously allowed me to offer YOU the oppurtunity to
WIN $20.00 to the amazing dayspring.com website.

this website, a subsidiary of Hallmark, offers incredible Christian based greeting cards (as seen in the post below) and so MUCH more.



there are TWO ways to enter this giveaway...and if you want TWO different entries you need to type EACH in a SEPERATE comment below!

1) "like" Perceptions & Passions on facebook and become a fan! (current fans that comment below will also be entered)
2) "share" this giveway on your facebook page!

this giveaway will end Sunday, January 22nd 2012 at 5:00PM PST.
check back on our facebook page to see if the winner is YOU!

thanks for reading Perceptions & Passions and God bless!



Monday, January 16, 2012

Prove It!



My husband and I exchange several “I love yous” each day.

It’s one way that we remind each other that we care about one another.

Most of the time, when I say to my husband, “I love you,” he responds with “I love you too.”

But, occasionally, when he’s feeling a little sarcastic and maybe even a little cheeky, I’ll say “I love you,” and he’ll respond, “Prove it!”

I’ll then laugh and give him a hug, or point to dinner on the table, or shake my prenatal vitamins at him.

I thought of those silly exchanges today when I heard a commercial on my local Christian radio station.

The commercial’s tagline read something like: Jesus loves each and every one of His children. Let’s prove it.

How inspiring!

The idea that Jesus can use something as simple and broken as ME to “prove” HIS love to another person is exceptionally incredible and awesome.

And what’s so incredible about “proving” love from one person to the next, is that it can be remarkably simple.

What might be simple to you; just might be moving mountains in another’s life.

It is one of our responsibilities as the hands and feet of Jesus is to prove to others that not only Jesus cares, but the world cares, YOU care.

We are not meant to be alone to wearily wander through this life.

And, often, we all need reminders.

One simple way to remind others that you care is by sending a greeting card to someone that God has placed on your heart in that moment.

There’s just something about putting a pen to paper and telling someone, “I care,” and praying deeply for the card’s recipient.

It’s an art that I pray does not get completely washed away with texts and emails and facebook communication.

There’s just something special about holding a card in your hands, that amongst all the bill collectors and catalogs of gorgeous items you cannot afford, speaks above all the clamor and says, “You matter. Really matter. To God. To the World. To ME.”

I had the wonderful opportunity to receive Daysprings’ (Holly Gerth’s) Hope & Encouragement premium card pack.

I was able to send out several cards, that I hope and pray will touch the lives of those that receive them.

You can have the same opportunity to touch other’s lives by visiting www.dayspring.com.

They have card packs for all occasions (check out the clearance too—I got 15 premium Valentine’s Day cards for $9.99!!).

Plus, what’s really cool? They all have scripture woven into them!

Send not only your love, but let Jesus use (perfectly broken and utterly amazing)you to help PROVE His incredible love for his children.



*this review and opinions herein are my own*
*products provided by Dayspring*

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

1 Corinthians 10:31

Seeing that my Netflix queue had only 3 remaining titles, I began to browse through the thousands of movies at my fingertips that could be delivered to my doorstep (or instantly to my television).

It got me thinking about how many, many hours I had spent curled up in front of the couch watching the beautiful (mostly) stories lay out before me.

Usually, when my thoughts turn to these seemingly wasted hours I tend to focus on the things that I could have been doing.

I could have been reading or painting or waterskiing or at the very least folding laundry WHILE watching these movies and television programs.

However, this time my thought process went elsewhere.

How many, many times have I craved a movie to tune out the world around me?

And it wasn’t just movies.

It was songs, and catalogs, and facebook, and planning, and organizing, and cleaning, and mall-walking, and hot showers with candy cane shower gel.

(Even our shower gel markets "escape" and "euphoric mental bliss.")

Why do we need so many escapes from reality?

Our grandfathers and grandmothers would like to put all these “distractions” into the technological category, but I would disagree.

How many, many times have I craved a nap not because of physical or mental exhaustion, but pure world weariness?

In reality, we live in a broken world. A world that needed a Savior. There is around us a constant battle of good verses evil. A million directions the world can pull us in.

In my reality, I have found that Savior. Jesus is mine and through Him, He should be every “escape” that I need.

And furthermore, He is Holy enough, He is "God enough", that escape need not be necessary anymore.

With my feet planted firmly with Jesus in the real, cold hard truth of each day is where my body and mind should ultimately be.

Now, I am not saying that I am not looking forward to "Hanna" coming in on my Netflix tomorrow, of which my husband will be grateful considering the last several movies were of the “girlier” side of the spectrum.

I am just saying we should at the very least SEE these distractions as distractions, and, with all other things practice moderation.

This world is here for us to do some work, fellow Christians! The world is here for us to touch, and smell, and breath-in, and it’s not always as beautiful as the perfectly woven stories with plots that self-solve in around 90 minutes.

I am going to strive to turn each “escape” from reality, into an embrace of reality, as I strive to use EACH “distraction” for the Glory of the Kingdom.

Whatever that looks like... (Hey people, Spirituality is a PROCESS!)

1 Corinthians 10:31
So whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do it all for the Glory of God.

Friday, January 6, 2012

My New Year's Goal : Patience

One of my facebook friends (and real-life friends) posted a really great new way to look at New Years Resolutions.

Instead of contracting a myriad of lists (mostly unobtainable), she decided to focus on one word that would symbolize what she was personally striving for in attitude and to represent the character of the year to come.

Her word for 2012 was “growth.” She wanted to grow in her walk with God, in her health, and in her mind.

I thought this was such an inspired idea, and it’s had me thinking quite a bit lately about how I wanted to build upon my character and how I wanted to live in 2012.

New Years Resolutions, I believe, are a good way to focus on how to shape your life to be closer to God and more open to receiving His gifts.

After much deliberation, I came upon the word: Patience.

I want to be quiet and I want to be patient and I want to not “want.”

I want to speak less, and listen more. I want to move less, and be still more.

I want to wait upon God to do big things in my life instead of tirelessly treading my own water.

I want to be content with the way things are, and not as “they should be.”

I want to find peace and joy in the daily blessings that are overflowing in my day of being a toddler’s mommy, a wife to Chase, at a job I love, and a friend to many.

I want to write to change not the world, but to change myself.

I want to focus on the obtainable, and really internalize that focusing on the small, does NOT distract from the impossible and the incredible.

For my scale of what is important and life changing and mountain moving is not reality.

Reality is God placing the small obstacles in my life, which are extremely important work to Him, and excelling in them.

I will not search for God's work, but rather let God's work search me.

And so as “my word” for 2012 becomes a thousand other words, I simply wish myself many a patient calm in the God given year to come.

Strength will rise as we wait upon the Lord.
Our God, You reign forever.
Our Hope, Our strong Deliverer.


What is “your word” for 2012?

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Philippians 1:6

What I am about to say may shock you.

It may shock you because you are a member of my family.

It may shock you because you were raised in Davis, a college “cow-town,” like me.

But…here goes…

I am not ever going to get my college degree.

*cringing pause*

Not because I am not smart enough, or I don’t have enough money, or due to a lack of time.

I have learned that in life you have to make those opportunities for yourself.


If it’s important; learn it. Find money. Make time.


And please don’t read this as me thinking that college is not important.

College is super duper important.

And my children are going to have to answer to both myself and my husband if they are considering not continuing their education after high school.

However, ever since I can remember college, for me, was never something I internally wanted to pursue.

It was something that, in order to be accepted as a family member, to be loved fully, I must do.

I remember being told time and time again, “You are too smart to not go to college.” Period.

What does that even mean? I often wondered. Because of my percieved ability I am to achieve; or nothing?

When I wanted to pursue a career as an elementary teacher the response was a disappointing sigh of, “Well, get your PhD, and then you can always teach.”

Then, when I did go to college, it still wasn’t good enough.

“What are you going to do with a psychology/philosophy/economics degree? Unless you go to graduate school, there are zero jobs.”

The expectations were too much. They were too high. And they weren’t mine.

I have high expectations of myself, and I have lofty goals. I just don’t believe that these goals start with a college degree. For me.

When I said enough is enough and shed every expectation that had been put on me by my parents and my professors and my family and my hometown; I was finally free.

For the last four amazing and incredible years I have been able to focus on what really matters: what God expects of me. Who God thinks I am. What God thinks I am capable of.

I’ll tell you right now that it has nothing to do with a degree.

I am complete in every way and have the ability to achieve anything through one thing and one alone: Jesus Christ.

Not going back to college is not the easy way out.

It is a leap of faith.

I am going against every SAT prep course and every lecture and every threat that society and that my family had put on me for the majority of my life.

The threat and the fear that if I am not a success in my career and intellectual conquests that I am nothing. That I will never be “as good” as I should strive to be. That my life will be a waste.

I am tossing all of those convictions straight into the garbage where God would have had me toss them ages ago.

I am saying to myself and to God that I am here because of YOU. I am here for YOU.

And I’m waiting. Patiently. Without my degree.

Luckily, with God, there’s no minimum education requirement and there’s no salary cap.

It’s up to Him. And, I’m good enough.

Philippians 1:6
...being confident of this, that He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion...

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Jesus Paid it All; All to Him I Owe

Oh praise the One who paid my debt, and raised this life up from the dead.

Our voices clamored together in a sea of worship over these simple words.

Every single one of Jesus’ precious and saved hearts can cling to these words and shout with rejoicing din the Truth in these lyrics.

How amazingly and incredibly grateful we are to have Jesus wipe our slates clean each and every moment of our lives, our spiritual bank account always in the green; our debt forever paid in full.

These words mean different things to each of God’s children, but they ring true for every single one of us.

With the world demanding so much of me each and every day, and being tugged in one million different directions, it is almost unfathomable that in the realm of most influence and purpose and meaning in my life; I am asked to bring nothing to the table.

For really, I have nothing to bring. My debt has been paid.

How often I forget this!

There was one day, however, that will forever remind me of this simple and universal truth.

In July of 2010 I gave birth prematurely to my (adorable) son.

Due to his early arrival, his time in the hospital, and the services he needed, were above and beyond what we had originally anticipated as first time parents.

The emotional toll that had been placed on my and my husband’s heart those 15 days are another story.

Just over a year after that blessed day we brought Braylon into the world, I had received the letter that I had dreaded each and every day since we brought that perfect little bundle home;

the hospital bill.

I had pretty good insurance. All of my prenatal care, ultrasounds, blood tests, non-stress tests, had been covered.

However, the NICU (neo-natal intensive care unit) was something entirely different. Insurance was going to cover some, but absolutely not all.

The doctor’s bill ALONE (NOT including the actual hospital care) was $6,000.00 per day. For 15 days.

After a year of line-by-line transactions and insurance calculations, I was finally receiving the final bill from the hospital.

My husband and I owed $33,712.33.


Yikes.

*gulp*

And, double yikes.

So, I prayed. I prayed and I prayed and I prayed.

How, are we EVER going to get out of this? Dear Lord, HELP!!! SOS!

I decided to go for it and write a letter of rebuttal to the hospital explaining our current financial situation (a young married couple with a new baby and one of us is a student).

I included our tax statements, paystubs, and anything else requested.

The hospital had a history of sometimes approving families of waiving over 10% of their bill!

I figured anything was a help. Even just 10%!

So, I sent out my packet, and again I prayed. I prayed and I prayed and I prayed.

About six weeks later, I received a letter that had me doing spiritual back-flips (and probably physical ones if I had the ability)!

When, I got the letter I remember saying one final prayer and opening the envelope to find a single piece of paper.

It had my account number at the top and my balance of $33,712.33.

It read:

Dear Patient,

After careful review of the information you have provided you have been approved for full assistance to cover your hospital charges.

The balance on the above amount will be reduced to $0 patient responsibility.

Sincerely,

Patient Financial Services

Oh praise the One who paid my debt, and raised this life up from the dead.

Did I DO anything to “deserve” this amazing financial miracle?

Nope.

All I did was pray and allow Jesus to erase the debt. Not because of what I have done or who I am.

But because of how amazing HE is to each and every one of us.

Now, does this mean all Christians have no debt because Jesus automatically literally erases all of it?

Absolutely not.

Churches would have a lot more Porsches and Range Rovers in their parking lots if that was the case.

Does it mean that God answers every single prayer in the way that we expect Him to? In the time frame that we want Him to?


Absolutely not.


But God hears us, and He cares.

You can trust God to move mountains in your life.

Matthew 17:20
"You don't have enough faith," Jesus told them. "I tell you the truth, if you had faith even as small as a mustard seed, you could say to this mountain, 'Move from here to there,' and it would move. Nothing would be impossible."