Tuesday, December 23, 2014

The Christmas Blog That I Need to Read

Have you ever heard the phrase, “With great privilege comes great responsibility?”

I don’t know who said it first.

I don’t care to Google it.

I know my Dad said it from time to time.

It’s a good one.

I, like every other mother on this planet, have the unbelievable gift and privilege of my children.

But sometimes, being a mother during the holidays, well it’s mommahood amped up on sugar cookies.

Literally.

Have you also heard the phrase, “If Mama ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy?”

Isn’t that so true? I think husbands think that phrase means that they are supposed to say “Yes, dear.” Because if they don’t, we’ll be unhappy and the whole mood of the house changes.

Somehow, we aren’t just responsible for ribbon and wrapping and dinner and … x and y and z.

We are also, in a way, responsible for the very mood and attitude of our home.

Quite honestly, that is extremely and utterly overwhelming somedays, especially as Christmas rolls in.

Motherhood is a constant push from the Lord to serve, and serve, and oh, yeah serve some more.

I don’t have any hair ties left.

Haven’t for about a week.

Have been to about 60 stores in the last week.

Haven’t thought about buying a pack.

It’s like that.

I’m not writing this to be yet another exhausting mommy martyr on the internet. 

It’s what we signed up for, and truly it is my greatest joy.

I’m just writing this to virtually hug another mother (like me) who is struggling with, on top of everything else, the seemingly unbearable weight of “creating” another Christmas out of digging and scraping patience and calm and Silent Nights out of our shaking and failing will.

There is absolutely some truth to Mom being the glue that keeps each day moving from one to the next.

And I know without a doubt that if my attitude is terrible, my family’s is as well.

That is a burden. But, as the saying goes, with great privilege comes great responsibility.

But I know that if I really seek out that responsibility and that attitude that I need this holiday season, it is not to come from me or from my to-do list.

To truly find peace and to truly extend hospitality and grace and to be a part of what the Lord has called me to be, I must seek Him first and only.

I have to put my to-do list down.

I have to hug my kids one more time.

I have to rub my husband’s shoulders.

I have to wash another plate.

And another.

And wipe the baby’s sweat from his fever.

And I must do it all for the Kingdom.

That my home might offer a respite for the weary.

For those that this great privilege is a dream that seems out of reach.

For if I do not exude Christ this holiday it’s not even about my family being unhappy.

It’s about lost souls not getting found.

My family, to a certain degree, and please don’t misunderstand this, is a distraction from what is really going on in the Kingdom.

What is really my responsibility is not to create an instagram feed worthy Christmas.

What is really my responsibility is not even to create a Jesus worthy Christmas (whatever that is).

What is really my responsibility is to create a place in my heart for Jesus to create, again, His Christmas.

That is all.

I’m going to say that again.

That. Is. All.



My prayers are with you mommas this holiday and know that I am with you and that Jesus is with you too.

Our families are more than our little ones waiting to unwrap Jesus' love on Christmas Day.

They are our flock. Lead them and guide them well. 

It's not about us. It's just...not. 

Just like it's not about anyone else.

Except for Christ. And Christ in us. Immanuel. God with us. 

Be strengthened today! 


Monday, November 24, 2014

Thankful: The Little Things

I once read some fancy theological scholar lady who encouraged those of us busy with this chaotic life (read: all of us) to not do New Years Resolutions.

Instead, she encouraged us all to select just one word that would be our focus, our year’s MO, our heart’s striving for the upcoming 365 days.

Her examples included “peace,” “perseverance,” “polished.”

And other ones that didn’t start with the letter “p.”

I think I’m going to do that this Thanksgiving.

It’s not that I “don’t have anything to be thankful for.” There are people who feel that way.

It’s not found in the Hallmark aisle, but it’s a common sentiment for the season nonetheless.

It’s just that being thankful isn’t about a tidy check-marked and dog-eared task list (I have this, and this, and this, oh and this).

It’s about an attitude. It’s about a life. It’s about a choice.

I consider one of the Lord’s most blaring evidence of His love for us to be our God-given free will.

Ironically, in God’s economy (the things that matter to God) it’s not about the things, it’s about the choice.

God is transcendent. Qualities that are from Him have nothing to do with physical realities.

Thankfulness is a quality from the Lord.

Ergo, we can truly be thankful in all circumstances.

Sometimes, in conjunction with the Lord’s truth (the Bible), even more thankfulness can stem from seasons of what the world would declare thanksgiving bankruptcy.

But, only in Him.

So, back to my original point.

This year, my Thanksgiving word is “Little.”

I am thankful, so thankful, that my world is full of little.

We have little money.

Which causes us to rejoice in the turkey in the freezer just waiting to be cooked and dressed and passed around.

We have little importance (by the world’s standard).

I run a little bookstore. My husband is a stay-at-home with a little part-time job.

Which gives us rest and FIVE DAYS OFF to celebrate Thanksgiving.

Not one phone call from corporate to expect. Not one stressed out email to be sent.

Not one conference call to squeeze in.

We have littles. Three of them.


And oh, the joy, the absolute joy (and hard) of being their mommy and daddy.

Little hands.

Little tears.

We’re running on little sleep.

Little feet squished in bed under covers.

Little words.

Little plans. “Let’s go to the park!”

I am overwhelmed by the joys and the excitement and the fullness and the thankfulness of being little this year.

I am most thankful, for the little things

Because Alan Jackson really did say it best on the subject:

It’s alright to be little-bitty
A little home town, or a big ol’ city
Might as well share, might as well smile

Life goes on for a little bitty while 

What's your "Thanksgiving word?"

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Three Things the World Doesn't Get About The Duggars & The Robertsons


So, unless you’re living under a rock, you know who The Duggars and The Robertsons are.

They PRAY to JESUS on THE ONLY CHANNEL on TV.

(oh, wait, it’s one of thousands, my bad…but you get my point).

They have values that are “different” then culture’s values.

They are Christian. They are not perfect. They look really "weird." 

But they share their Christian beliefs with those who wish to hear it.

Here are three things that the world just DOESN’T GET when they start weird petitions to silence them:

 Number One: They expect it.

Y’all there isn’t a Christian living on this Earth that doesn’t expect persecution from the World.

At least, no Christian that knows his Bible!

Scripture is CLEAR, with the ultimate example being Christ (duh) that we are NOT of this world, that we are FOREIGNERS, that we will be mocked and scorned and bullied and it.will.be.hard.

Number Two: “Let’s get ‘em where it hurts…their WALLETS!”

News flash. Christians are stewards. Everything is HIS.

We aren’t takin’ any of this when we leave!

It stays here.

Does this mean we are smart with our money? Yep.

Does this mean our worth, our salvation, our happiness is tied up in it? No, sir.

And, finally, the MOST important

Number Three: “If we can silence God’s people, we can silence God.”

Ha!

You could rip the tongues out of every Christian on this planet but you will NEVER silence the Lord.

You can burn every book and forbid every uttered prayer.

You can make it really, really difficult for us, but you can never make it difficult for Him.

So, really, sign your petitions.

Luckily, God doesn’t work by survey, or by what people think of Him, or ANYTHING but by that which He has defined as Truth and He’s not taking suggestions.

The entire WORLD could sign that petition, but it wouldn’t matter not even one.tiny.bit.


I do not trust in my bow; I do not count on my sword to save me. 
You are the one who gives us victory. 

Psalm 44:6-7

Monday, November 3, 2014

Grace for the Type A

I believe that one of God’s greatest desires for our life is for peace and contentment and rest.

I believe this because it’s clearly spoken in the Bible.

And I should clarify, that it’s not a promise that things will be easy or “fit.”

It’s a promise that, if you rely on God, He will never leave you nor forsake you.

That even in the difficulty, even in the pain, even in the waiting, that there is good here; because God is here.

This just does NOT come easy to me.



I am always, always “onto” to the next thing in my life.

The next chapter.

The next horizon.

I learn very quickly, and because of that, I am constantly seeking and searching.

It is one of my greatest battles with this World.

Do you ever “know” (“little k”)a theological principle, but don’t really get it until it’s spoken to you in just a certain way, at just the right time, that it finally (really)resonates with you?  
That happened to me last week.

I “know” that I am to live in the present. 

I “know” that I am to serve in whatever I am doing.

That I am to fix my eyes on Him, and that whatever mundane task, whether stocking chips at work or whether wiping noses at home, that I am to serve Him.

Even when, no, especially when it’s unnoticed.  

This gentleman came into the shop last week. 

He was a missionary in South America for thirty years.

I absolutely love it when I am able to pass a few minutes of my day sharing conversation about deep theological principles, global outreach, etc.

But, let’s be honest, most of my day is typing and emails and following remedial tasks (sure, at a larger level, but this isn’t really rocket science).

At the end of the conversation, and I cannot remember exactly what was said, but he said, “Bloom where you’re planted.”

This is exactly what I needed to hear.

For some reason I always internally interpreted “serve where you are” as “You’re here. Might as well try. Maybe something good will happen.”

But this put a whole new spin on it.

I have been planted.

Not casually tossed.

Not accidentally happened.

But purposefully, and intentionally, planted.

Right where I am.

At my job. With my husband. With my children.

Planted.

Perfectly. Without error.

May I ever grow more rooted in where the Lord has chosen to plant me.

May I never forget that wings are prophecy; but that roots are heritage.

May I never grow weary of saying “yes” to God and blooming right.where.I.am.

For which plant would bloom better: the plant accidentally tossed by seed into a random spot of the garden, or the one carefully tended to and set on the windowsill in just the right light, with just the right water, and just the right soil. 



Thursday, October 23, 2014

That Money Though!

As some of you may know, Chase and I have begun some serious Biblical financial planning!

We’re getting serious about our money…and it’s going to look weird.

It’s going to look like empty fridges (well, part of that is the fact that we have three children who are often insatiable), one car, no trips, no frills, no “hoopla.”

We’ve had friends ask (out of genuine concern), “Is everything okay?”

YES! Everything is okay!

See, this looks weird to the world. We basically just decided that no one is going to hand us our retirement fund.

Winning the lottery is not a 401K.

We also have children who, by golly, actually turned out pretty bright.

They’ll probably want to go to college.

They’ll probably pull it together long enough to attract fianc├ęs.

We are getting serious and aggressive about passing on not just a spiritual inheritance, but a financial inheritance (even if that inheritance is a lead-by-example financial training)
.
 So, we’re going to look weird. Bottom line.

Sorry (not sorry).

There are two things that I’ll just touch on today going through this process.

#1. Money was the last thing we handed to God.

Chase and I were saved within 6 months of each other (right as we got together and right before respectively) about 7-8 years ago.

When we got engaged, we handed our sexuality to God.

When we got married, we handed our relationship to God.

When we got pregnant, we handed our children to God.

 But money, God we’ll just take care of that, thankyouverymuch.

Didn’t work great.

We were okay. We never had a late payment and Christmas was frugal, but done.

But we were never ahead.

No emergency fund. No savings account (I know, ok!). No college funds.

Investments. Ha!

We thought that we could (as Dave Ramsey puts it) “outearn our stupidity.”

We thought that if we just could make more money!

“Please God, give me more money. I suck at it, so…give me more.”

Like any loving parent, God pretty much has us earning today what we’ve earned for the last seven years. No more. No less.

So, we’re giving to God FIRST, ourselves SECOND, and “other people” last.

#2. Less Really Is More!!

When we tightened our budget to prioritize our money differently, things went away.

Mochas. HappyMeals when I didn’t want to cook. In&Out. Scentsy (THE HUMANITY!). Wine. 
Chocolate Covered Peanut Butter Filled Pretzels. Pretty much anything at Trader Joe’s, really.

I thought I was going to die. I thought that once I said “no” I’d just constantly be grieving what I didn’t have.

But that’s where, by God’s grace, it was TOTALLY DIFFERENT.

I am actually always thinking about what I HAVE.

See, now that we’re totally preparing for the future, and tightening I’m more focused on what I have.
I Google things like “how to make dinner with flour, eggs, corn and maple syrup.”

I praise GOD for beans and rice.

I praise GOD for full bellies for my children.

I praise GOD for home brewed coffee with pumpkin spice creamer.

I praise GOD…a whole lot more.

I had a tough day yesterday. I was feeling like this was stupid and that we were never going to make it out.

I told Chase that he just had to let me have days like that. And, really, we’re all granted those.

We don’t always have to feel like it’s going to work out.

We always have to obey the Word of God.

I am reading a book by Annie Downs right now and she talks about how the characters in the Bible didn’t know how their acts of obedience were going to work out.

They just obeyed. And guess what. Things “worked out.” Maybe not how they thought, but they did!
God is infinitely more faithful to us then we could EVER be to Him.

Another story that I am holding onto is the story of the Duggars.

( I KNOW I KNOW, okay, but just hang on).

Whether or not you watch this (adorable) family, you know who they are.

So, Jim Bob Duggar felt a calling from the Lord to run for Senate after a family prayer of wanting to make a difference for the Kingdom.

So he did. He obeyed God and ran.

The results came in.

And, he lost.

The local paper ran a picture of him and his 13 kids walking to the election booth to watch Daddy vote.

A few days later, he got a call from the Discovery & Health Channel asking if they could do a one-hour documentary on the Duggar family.

If God had told this stay-at-home-school-conservative-no-TV-family “You’re going to run for Senate, you’re not going to win, and then ultimately camera crews are going to follow you and your family for decades.” Would they have listened?

God tells us to obey. He handles the results.

The Evans family is about to look super weird to y'all. But. That's okay. 

Because we're not supposed to be like the World. 


Call to Action: What can you give to God today? What calling on your heart can you say “YES!” to? 

Ephesians 4:22-24English Standard Version (ESV)

22 to put off your old self,[a] which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires,23 and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, 24 and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Just for Funsies FRIDAY!

So, a couple weeks ago, my gorgeous blogger friend Annie wrote a blog about the Neiman Marcus Christmas Catalog and how she just loves looking through it at all the extravagant photos of gifts for the 1% including $50,000 His and Hers water/snow mobiles thing.

Here is my version of this blog.

It's about a little catalog called "Landside."

You know that one?

Me neither. Not until we lived in a home that was built 40 years ago and was occupied by 80-year-olds prior to our move-in day.

But. It. Is. Fantastic.

It's the perfect, beautiful combination of SkyMall (ridiculous things no one needs) and the Dollar Tree (cheap).

But what's really great...is SOMETIMES there's actually good deals, and now, sadly the catalog is addressed to me...or current resident.

When I went to bed last night with the catalog in hand, my husband was like, "seriously?"

After picture texting images of the catalog, and getting "LMAO" responses from him...he understood.

I'll share with you a little of it today.

Ahem.

This catalog has everything.

First, a plunger that is in the shape of a gun. Yeah, we're starting there. With a bang.

Next, what kitchen counter is complete during the holidays without a candle that can also serve as an ice breaker to verbally accost and harass your guests?

But this isn't just about decor.

There's gifts for all your lush mom group friends.

There's gifts for the men in your life that cannot set their beers down even for one moment to grill food.
There's this farting teddy bear. Yep. Farting teddy bear. But that's not all. It's apparently targeted not for your 11-13 year old sons, but for your 30 year old son in law...

And what better gift for Billy to get Grandma...you know...if his ultimate goal is to steal from her...
And for the pet lover that just wants to wrap up in their dog's face...? That exists right?
But seriously...

There are some randomly crazy AWESOME stuff...

Like SpiderMan 60-piece art sets for $4.95...perfect for my toddler!!

And these adorable Disney Glasses for 4 for $8.95!



AND LOOK AT THESE!!! WHAT?! 2 for $12!!!

Bottom line: you need this catalog.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

On Purpose



God made me on Purpose and with Purpose

Often, I find it extremely hard to believe that my parents (divorced/separated/whatever for over two decades) were ever in the same room cordially enough to create me and my sister.

Seriously, it’s pretty incredulous.

Let’s just say their marriage and their divorce were, well, difficult. To say the least.

On all parties.

I know that my parents (as with everyone on this planet) has regrets about the way things “went down.”

And I’m sure the human thought of “what if?” & and “if only…” has crossed their minds.

And even though both of them (separately) would throw themselves in front of a bus for me, or my sister, I’m sure there are times they are just as bewildered.

Now, I’m not interested in getting into a heated debate of “free-will” verses “determinism.”

(At least not right now…buy me a dark chocolate mocha and pull up a stool, we can get into it!)

What I find awesomely bewildering is that I am perfectly crafted and uniquely created by our Lord.
And that those two people, against all odds, combined DNA and made me just the way I am.
In other words, I once had a philosophy class that posed the question, “Could you have existed in any other time in history?” 

For me, the answer is clearly, no.

Although the spiritual portion of me is the only eternal portion, it is still one portion of me.

My physical body (combined with my mental and spiritual capacities) could have ONLY been created in that EXACT passing of genetic material from my great-great-great-you-get-the-idea all the way to my parents.

I think one of the unwritten and unspoken lies that children of divorce can internalize despite the efforts of their parents, no matter how loving, is that if your parents marriage / union was a "mistake" or a "failure" then, logically (according to the Earth's logic anyways), you are, on some level, Plan B.

Wrong.

WRONG!

No matter what circumstances you were brought into this world, you were uniquely crafted ON PURPOSE.

I was born with genetic components from both my father and my mother that make me perfectly and uniquely who I am today.

But it doesn’t stop there.

God also orchestrated my circumstances good and bad right and wrong for my upbringing to also ultimately lead me to Him and to Glorify Him.

So here I am.

And while I am of my parents I am not belonging to my parents.

As such, I look at my children.

My children are not “mine.”

My children are God’s and He has purposefully placed them in our family.

For all the good and the bad the right and the wrong.

He makes each one of us on purpose and with purpose.

You are not even a HINT of a “mistake” “misfortune” “plan B” “accident” “surprise” in your Father’s eyes.

You are not the careless result of a failed marriage.

You are a result of the careful planning and joy of the Almighty and Powerful God.

You were absolutely positively created "on purpose."

No Plan B. Right the first time. Just as you are. Eternally. 

Psalm 139:13-28
For you formed my inward parts;
    you knitted me together in my mother's womb.
14 I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.[a]
Wonderful are your works;
    my soul knows it very well.
15 My frame was not hidden from you,
when I was being made in secret,
    intricately woven in the depths of the earth.
16 Your eyes saw my unformed substance;
in your book were written, every one of them,
    the days that were formed for me,
    when as yet there was none of them.

Call to Action: 

Just breathe this to yourself today and really, really internalize.

"God, my Father, thank you for planning and preparing my life. From the construction of each molecule, to the preservation of my genetic line, to each teeny tiny DNA strand. Lord, no matter what familial circumstance I was born into, that is all but a flash of light, for my true birth day was the day that I found my way back to you. Thank You for being You and for making me, me!" 








Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Abram

This is (sort of) a follow up post to my last post.
It’s a prime example of how God’s revolutionary blessings in our lives have NOTHING to do with us.

And how God’s revolutionary blessings in our lives have EVERYTHING to do with Him.

Genesis 15 (I’m reading Genesis with a Bible group right now so I apologize for the multiple post emphasis) describes the great transaction from the Lord to Abram (before he’s Abraham… and had many sons. And many sons had Father Abraham. Lol. I crack myself up.).

So okay, here are the three things I noted from the text. Short and sweet today people!

The Promises of God are not complicated!

Note #1: Abram complained

Literally WHILE GOD is “standing” in front of Abram and listing all the AWESOME things He’s going to do for Abram, Abram interrupts Him…with a complaint.

“O Sovereign Lord, what good are all your blessings when I don’t even have a son?”
15:2

Translation: I know how to bless myself better, God. Thanks for trying.

Note #2: Abram doubted

So the Lord continues to explain and describe more blessing.

“O Sovereign Lord, how can I be sure that I will actually possess it?”
15:8

Translation: God, are you sure you can do that in my life? Are you really who you say you are?

Note #3: God blessed Abram big-fat-anyways

-countless descendants

-super dope land

-a fully, richly, deeply blessed life

Conclusion: (you must see where I’m going here)

The idea that we must do certain things to obtain the Lord’s blessings is simply not Biblical. (Of course we must “un do” one thing, and that is relinquishing our doing and “accept” this free gift from the Lord. Message me to find out how this works).

We serve our Lord FROM blessing and not FOR blessing (Pastor Bill Giovannetti).

God loved us FIRST.

We serve HIM because he CREATED us.

We can offer and give God NOTHING.

Even when we try and talk God OUT of blessing us. 
Even when we don’t listen.
When we don’t deserve it. 
When we wreck it. 
When we’re whiney. 
When we’re ungrateful.
When we doubt.

38 And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons,[b] neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. 39 No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 8:38-39

Not even ourselves.

God’s blessings and grace in our lives is not earned.

It’s not a paycheck.


It’s life. 

Call to Action: 
You know that FB meme that's going around??...this one??

What if you tried not to complain to your Father for 24 hours? 

Let everything that has breath praise the Lord Psalm 150:6

Monday, October 13, 2014

Nothing to Say

Right now I feel like I have nothing to say.
I feel discouraged in my own life and, therefore, I feel like I cannot make a wave.
Or even a teeny tiny ripple.
Thankfully, our ability to create a shift in the cosmos, however small or large, is not up to our individual abilities or charisma or “It Factor.”

Our ability to change the world we wade in today rests solely in who our Father is.

You’ve probably seen those images that look like this:

But it’s so true.
The Bible is not filled with awesome, perfect people who God “makes better.”

The Bible is filled with wrecked, perverse, struggling, challenged, stubborn, rude, straight up wicked (& not the good way), horrible-no-good-very-bad people.

He takes those people and he doesn’t clean them up and put them in new clothes and slap a smile on their face and send them out.

He takes those people and he gives them new life.
He makes them a whole.new.creation.

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!” 2 Corinthians 5:17 (NIV)

Which leads me to one of my most favorite verses in the Bible:

As for me, may I never boast about anything except the Cross of our Lord Jesus Christ. Because of that cross, my interest in this world has been crucified, and the world’s interest in me has also died.  (NLT)
Galatians 6:14

I didn’t “wake up” one day and decide to save myself.

I wrecked myself.

Really, really badly.

And He said, “That’s not your name.”

And I cried out to Him, and He saved me.

Me.

This may not make much sense to those of you who have only known me in the last 7 years. This “me” is all you’ve known.

But for those of you who knew me before I was saved, the transformation has been.so.dramatic.

I was a drunk. I was a mess. 

I gave my heart and body away.

I was forgotten. I was alone. 

I was abandoned. I was fatherless.

I was self defeating and self justifying. I was self righteous.

I was probably really annoying. And ungrateful. 

And rude. And harsh.

And now, through the amazing grace of our Lord Jesus Christ.

I have come home.

And I’ll be here forever more.

Please let me know if you’re interested in learning how to cry out to the Lord just as I did.

It.will.change.your.life.

There’s no way for it not to.

I am not Kaitlin 2.0.

I am Kaitlin + Jesus. 

A whole new creation.

You don’t need to be good.

You only need to be willing.