Monday, February 28, 2011

A Homemade day

I had this really fun day in the kitchen with my mother-in-law Jan. Jan studied home education in college and is currently working on a historical generational cook book. Pretty cool right? She’s the kind of woman who knows all the short cuts to making dishes work. She is also the woman who has dozens of cook books but only cooks out of one. This beautiful book was given to her for her High School graduation and it is her favorite. All of her recipes either come from her mother, her grandmother or this cook book.

When visiting the Tietjen’s, Jan is usually very busy in the kitchen preparing all homemade dishes for the family to enjoy. I try to stay out so not to interrupt the perfect rhythm she has created in her space. I just flutter in after all the food is devoured and try to help with dishes. That’s who I am. The gal who peers over the counter trying to catch a glimpse of the greatness, hoping it rubs off on me, and go in afterwards to repair dish duty.

But on this day, I got invited in. I was asked to come into this magical place and learn a thing or two. One of the first things Jan asked me in the morning was, “Do you want to learn how to make homemade noodles?” Are you kidding me? (One thing you might know about me is how much I adore doing things from scratch. If it can be done in my own home, than I prefer to do it that way. Homemade is the best way in my opinion.) I had never attempted noodles, so I was on board.

The great thing about Jan is that when she is teaching you, she makes you do it all yourself and then gives you all the credit. She walked me step by step in what I needed. The thing I learned about noodles, they just really aren’t that hard to make.
Here's my first batch ever!
But after you gather your 3 egg yolks, you will have egg whites left over. So Jan tells me to freeze them till I have enough for angel food cake. (She had happened to have a container already full and needed just a few more.) So after mixing the noodle dough and rolling it out dry, she looks at the egg whites and says, “Want to make Angle food cake?” Sure, why not right?!

So on we went. The mixing and making of the Angel Food cake began. We flipped open the cook book and found the secret recipe. While the cake was baking we plotted and planned for making Kringla, a long standing Tietjen tradition. It is a light, cake figure 8 crescent roll of sorts. I have never attempted it and Jan thought it was time. While the Kringla was baking, we then embarked on making Cream Puffs. I'm sorry I don't have pictures of it all, we were just having way too much fun to stop.

Jan makes these amazing cream puffs for morning breakfasts on special occasions. I know right, dessert for breakfast. This is a great family to be apart of. Well, we were going to be seeing Paul for the weekend and it’s his favorite thing, Kringla and cream puffs. Cream puffs is the one tradition that Paul brings to our family. I on the other hand have brought dozens and dozens of things we need to do because we’ve always done it. So I used to complain about these cream puffs, but have recently realized it’s what connects Paul to his family and his history. His family of generations past. Then I had this wonderful moment of standing at the stove top next to his mother, both of us stirring, her the cream puff and I the cream. We were talking about nothing and everything, we were drinking wine, and that beautiful cook book was open in front of us. She would flip to her page and then I would flip to my page to discover the next step of the recipe.

I felt like an apprentice. I felt like I had a teacher. Chatting about the day, cooking together and learning how to make things work and cook a beautiful meal is what heritage living and learning is all about. It’s when history gets passed on to the newer generation so that it doesn’t get lost. Family living, traditions, love, history gets passed down. Most of the time we are too busy to invest in the heritage, but I got an incredible piece of it today. We started with homemade noodles, (which by the way we cooked in turkey stock which makes them taste amazing!), then made Angle food cake, then Kringla and Cream puffs. We also wanted to attempt Spritz cookies, but it was already 1230am.

It was an amazing day learning from a woman I have so much respect for and love spending time with. I learned so much and feel I am a better person for the day we spent together. I also now carry more of her family with me to pass along to my children. I have stories and recipes to share with them and continue pouring their heritage into them.

I love all things homemade.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Wish I had a camera

Our weekend visiting Paul in Austin could only be explained with photos. But because I am that mom who is really lame at taking photo’s (I even brought both cameras with me!) I will just try to explain all the fantastic and truly embarrassing things that happened to us in the car, at the hotel and out to eat to you here. There was no free Internet at the hotel, and I don’t pay for it on vacation. That’s how we roll. So here we go in no particular order:

• The kids and I successfully colored 15 pages for presents in the car on the way to Austin. You will be getting yours soon.
• Texas only believes in outdoor pools since its always hot here. Expect right now. So we swam in the Luke warm/old bath water hot tub. Awesome. Lu kept trying to drink it. Gross.
• Looking at the bubbles, Caleb says, “This is like the sea mom. Remember, (and he stands up at this point) And Jesus calmed the stormed!” Sure small bubbles in a hot tub is just like a raging storm at sea. I can believe that. (For some reason this is currently Caleb’s favorite Bible story. We have to read it every night after whatever other story we read. If you could shed some light on this, that would be helpful.)
• There was a woman wearing panda bear slippers on Sat. night standing outside the ballroom where the event was taking place. Already past her bedtime, Lu walked up to this woman wearing her snugly blue sleeper that was once my brothers. She bent down with her little butt sticking up and gave each bear a kiss. She then got down on all fours and gave each bear a hug. With that still not being enough she then proceeded to lay down and snuggle the bears. Holding each bear in a hand and resting her head in between them. This continued for 15 min. I’m not kidding. Kissing, hugging, snuggling. There were at least 7 people who got out their cameras and phones and documented the cuteness that was happening in that moment. I just couldn’t bear to leave to take a photo. Maybe someone will post one. The funniest part maybe where I did a play by play reenactment in my hotel room for my friend on the bed. That was probably a bad decision and glad no one had a camera for that.
• Caleb met a friend in the nasty bath water hot tub. He called him his buddy. When I said, Caleb what is your friend’s name, he simply replied, “Buddy.” He continued to call him this for the next 20 min. When buddy left, Caleb didn’t notice, and then screamed, “Mom, where is my buddy?” Clearly we need to work on Caleb’s relationship skills. I think he left because he was hurt no one cared to know his name. I also didn’t ask, but found myself referring to him as Caleb’s buddy.
• At the beginning of my session in front of 100 students, I asked everyone why they were in the session. Noah raised his hand and said, “For you mom. I want to spend time with you.” Nice. I didn’t pay him to say that. Then we were talking about love. Noah raised his hand again. Yes Noah. “Sometimes we don’t love each other…. I mean, we always love each other, but sometimes we don’t like each other right mom? You know, cause of the angry face?” Now I need to pay him to be quiet. And just so you all know, Noah has the angry face. But I guess he did learn it from somewhere. Ooops.
• During Paul’s concert on Saturday night, the kids were standing in the back watching their dad rock the stage with his guitar. Caleb was on someone’s shoulders in awe of the music. Noah was standing on a chair clapping the awkward’s kid’s clap. Seriously, he has almost no rhythm. It’s embarrassing. Andrew from Captive Free came over to dance with Noah, who they had just met, and they went crazy. Hand banging, flaying arms, booty swaying. Just craziness. The best part was Caleb’s face starring over at Noah and Andrew in complete and utter amazement. Or was it judgment? Maybe it was confusion at never seeing dance moves quite like these before. He looked speechless. He couldn’t even focus on the music he was so enthralled with what was happening next to him. I wish I had a picture of that face and those five minutes of a brother’s judgment on another brothers dance of choice.
• Noah and Caleb made some friends at the event and hosted a dance party in the back of the ballroom with glow sticks. I’m pretty sure they had no idea it was worship. They just wanted to dance in their pj’s with glow sticks to their dad’s music. Going to bed that night was a bit difficult.
* Out at a restaurant where they have a tank of live lobster, my son shouts, "Look mom they have Lobsters! They are just like sharks!" No. Not really. Who is teaching you kid?
• A teething baby doesn’t just cry because her mouth is bothering her. After hearing Lu cry for 10 min because she didn’t want a bottle, she didn’t want crackers, she didn’t want a toy, so we gave her an apple to naw on to help her teeth. Once we stopped at the gas station, Jan pulled her from car to let her walk a little. That is when we realized that Lu was trying to communicate something else to us. Let’s just say, it took both Jan and I to change her diaper, clean up the car seat and put her in Noah’s shirt since everything else was packed. And if you ever thought Lu looked like Caleb, sitting next to her while she while she wore Noah’s shirt cleared up any question I have. For a moment I was transported in time and saw my first born sitting there in the car seat. It was amazing. Big blue eyes, gorgeous long lashes on a sweet round face. And for what my daughter had to sit in for an hour, I win the worst mom in the world award. Just sayin.

The weekend was full of wonderful moments. These are just the highlights. I feel blessed that we got to take a road trip with my in-laws down to see my husband perform. My kids were great troopers on the trip down and back. We got to stay in a hotel, see old friends, and make new ones.

Now we look forward to a week at the in-laws and all the adventure that means. Then this weekend I get to speak in Dallas at a youth event about Hope. So many fun things ahead.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Pastor Louis who gave his life

My first trip to Haiti was in 1999. Wow that number just feels like yesterday. I have been going off and on ever since. There are years I can’t make it, and some where I have had the gift of going more than once. Over the last 12 years, many wonderful and amazing friendships have been born.

Last year on Feb. 12 the pastor we had been working with alongside the Haiti Lutheran Mission Society was murdered in his home. Rev. Dr. Doris Jean Louis and his wife Elucie were coming home where they were attacked upon entering. Pastor Louis was asked to give the robbers all the money from the school. When he said he didn’t have it, they shot him in cold blood in his driveway. Pastor Louis has worked with countless mission teams and was in charge of at least five churches, two schools, a medical clinic and new orphanage compound. He was a man with money and connections to those interested in taking advantage. This sadly was not the first time his family was attacked. Many years ago, when we first starting going to Haiti, Elucie recounted when the whole family survived multiple gun shot wounds and beatings. Her sons watched in horror as their mother was shot through the chest and survived. All of this over money.

People often ask, “It costs about $1200 to go to Haiti, wouldn’t it just be better to send the money instead? They need the money, and the money could do a lot of good, then they could hire Haitians to do the work. Haitians who need the work.” All of those statements are true. But Pastor Louis response from my very first trip is what I remember. He said, “If you had to choose between sending money or coming on the trip, I would tell you to come on the trip every time. Yes, we could use the money, but when you come, we see you here. You coming tell us that believers around the world haven’t forgotten about us. You coming tell us that we have people out there who are here to help. We are not alone. When you come, you see and hear our story and you can go back and tell others our story. When you come, you can be our voice in places we can’t travel. We are not alone when you come.”

That philosophy spoke so much to me that day as a 19 year old kid, that I still remember it clearly today. Yes, Haitians should be hired to do work. When we go on trips, we hire as many Haitians as possible to hire alongside us. We also bring money to support the church to do the outreach programs that share the gospel of Jesus Christ with all people.

When all we do is give money, we are disconnected from it. We give to great programs and then forget about them. (unless our heart has been affected first.) What Pastor Louis said so well is that when we give of our time, our lives are changed from that kind of giving. We are different. We see the world differently. We understand God and sacrifice, and love and grace and compassion in a different way. The poor and forgotten want our heart. They want to be understood. They want to be loved. They want to be seen. They want others to know that its not OK for any human to live as they do. They need someone to advocate on their behalf. You need to go and see and learn and experience to have that kind of change happen in your life. You can’t just write a check.

(I do understand that those checks are important and sometimes in our lives that’s all we can give. I do not underestimate that in the least. I need those checks to get to Haiti. Thank you for that. Most of those checks though come with a heart for serving and loving others, so its different. That’s not the kind of check writing I mean.)

I also think Pastor Louis knew that once you came and saw Haiti, you would fall in love with her forever and you will automatically go back and be her voice to all who will listen.

Thank you Pastor Louis for teaching us that love is about relationships, not just about money. That living like Christ meant real sacrifice and heart and compassion. You gave an ultimate gift in your service to the Lord, and I will not soon forget. I will also continue to speak out on behalf of those who can’t be heard. And I will continue to bring whoever will come to meet Haiti and fall in love with her. Thank you Pastor for your ministry.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

hard moments

Out of my three children, I clash the most with my oldest. He’s sensitive, emotional, strong willed, determined, and always right. Oh and how I love him.

The last two days have been crazy. Late nights, early mornings, plane rides, cousins, special lunches and nothing that resembles normal life. He’s a little off track and thus bringing out his personality ten fold. Today we stood at opposite sides of every issue and had words regarding everything.

Tonight at bedtime what I just really needed was him sleeping. I needed to be done with him today. I was frustrated and hurt by him. I was tired of fighting with him. I was done.

Then laying down is when we had the conversation about hurting each other. We talked about why we were frustrated with one another. How we could love each other better the next day. We talked about what I said that hurt him and what he said that hurt me. There was forgiveness and awareness that not every day is a great day, but we still love one another in the end.

It was amazing to have this very adult conversation with my 5yr old child. I kept thinking about how often I don’t do this with my kids. I just yell, or I get mad and/or frustrated. I tell him I want him to behave different but I don’t tell him why. It’s amazing how communicating the why changes the situation. It just wasn’t mom being mad at him anymore. It was feeling like her son didn’t trust her to tell him the truth. That my son wouldn’t question me on everything I say and challenge my integrity. There was honesty behind the frustration and not just unknown or unspoken feelings. He didn’t have to assume or guess what he did or what was wrong and come to the wrong conclusion. We had this great moment together.

Then he started crying. He was sad. He was scared. He missed dad. There were monsters. Etc. I couldn’t tell what was real and what was just an excuse. I was still done though. I needed this to end. It was a long day, and even though we had our moment, I needed my kids sleeping and I needed a break. I knew he was over tired and couldn’t find control of himself. I wanted to consol him, but mainly I just wanted him to stop. I was growing frustrated by the moment. I told him God was bigger than any monsters and he didn’t need to be scared. I told him he would be fine. I said it in a very frustrated, “I think you’re being childish” kind of way. I communicated all of my frustration in my non-verbal’s. He got my message and he was still very sad.

As I walked into the living room and I could still hear my son crying, I thought to myself; “What kind of parent am I being right now? When my son looks back on this evening will he remember a mother who comforted him when he was truly scared, or a mother who was disappointed that he wasn’t tougher? That he didn’t have enough faith to believe that God could take away the monsters? Where was the mother who was supposed to comfort you when monsters seemed so real? When you hadn’t seen your dad in weeks and you truly, deeply missed him? That mother wasn’t there. I was just annoyed, ticked off, and wanting my kids to stop needing me for a little bit.

I downed a swig of wine. I was ashamed of my behavior and I deeply prayed that God would help me be the person I dreamed of being. The person I challenge others to be. I then had peace. I went back into the room. I sat on the side of my son’s bed. His face was wet with tears as he laid in a bed that was not his own, in a room that he isn’t used to, in a place he has only been a few times. I started to play with his hair and I prayed over him. I had peace and felt like I couldn’t offer him myself, but I could help usher God into that place. So I sat and I prayed. When I was done praying, I sang to him. When I was done singing, I continued to play with his hair. (its very soothing to me. The stress leaving your head as your hair is pulled so slightly away from your scalp. My favorite thing my mother has ever done for me hands down.) He was calm when I left. His face was peaceful, and I knew that it was the right choice to go back.

I’m not sure if I got played. (I’m sure I did a little.) But when push comes to shove, I want my kids to know that at the end of the day, when they are scared and really tired and have no control over themselves, I will lift up in prayer. I will give them over to the one who can help them when I can’t. That if they can't trust me, they can trust in God's presence in their life.

I get that on paper, this sounds very spiritual and that I have my act together. The truth is, I don’t. I struggle with almost all my decisions. I pray hard and try to be the person God knows I can be. I fail more times than I succeed. My kid has woken up at least two more times since starting this blog, and my peace has gone. I am back to being frustrated and still trying to be the mom I want to be. No one is perfect. Most of the time I need a do over minutes after I’ve acted. We’re all a work in progress right?

Now for the rest of that wine.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011


So Paul and I are in throws of our busiest season. One or both of us are gone for five straight weekends. Its crazy right? We didn’t really plan on it, but then the opportunity to go to Haiti happened and I couldn’t pass that up. Paul and his friends got a seven commercial gig and couldn’t pass that up out in PA. This weekend Paul plays a youth event in Austin TX. Next weekend, I’ll be in Dallas for a youth event. I’ve decided to head out a few days earlier, since flights started to dictate a different schedule. This will put me and the kids being gone for 12 days. Fly down to Dallas, drive to Austin, stay there for two days and then drive back. We have all sorts of fun things planned, but mainly its just time with the grandparents.

The decision to leave early came quickly and I’m not sure I feel ready. I still have to pack, pay some bills, and do dishes. I’m tired and really just want to hang out with my husband who I haven’t seen in five days. But I had to make a choice. It got me thinking about how I make choices.

What I discovered was this; I want to be a person who makes decisions based on what brings the most life. There is a time for responsibility and taking care of yourself, and that would bring life. It would be the best decision to take care of you, and renew and refresh your soul. There are also times when you have to make a choice because it means more to someone else.

I decided to leave tomorrow because my children will be able to deepen their relationship with their grandparents and have time to build more memories. The warm weather will be good for everyone’s attitude. I will have help with the kids, which I could totally use. The kids will get time with their cousins which they never get enough of. We get to go swimming at the hotel and the kids get to see what their dad does at youth events. All of these benefits bring life. They enrich everyone’s heart, relationships with each other and refresh our life. It brings about the fullness of life.

Hmmm…the fullness of life. Well to get there, I need to survive three kids on the plane by myself, carrying three suitcases, pushing a stroller, diaper bag, computer bag, and purse. Wish me luck.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Flowers from my husband

I moved to MN the fall of 1999 when I came out here to attend Concordia University St. Paul. It was also when I went on my first official date. (I was told school dances don’t count.) Paul, my husband now, came to pick me for my official first date. When I opened the door, he said, “I wanted to bring you flowers, but I brought you this instead.” He then handed me an apple. I thought it was kind of silly, I mean endearing, and then he proceeded to explain. It was his favorite apple to eat, and his favorite to draw as an artist because of the color blend of the apple, and he didn’t want to bring flowers because he longed to be more original than that. And he was. He has always done things his own way. Over the course of the next three years, I never received flowers. (Unless of course I was in a theater production and it mandated that I got flowers.) Whenever I got picked up for dates, I heard, “I wanted to bring you flowers but I got you this instead.” Then I would receive a unique thoughtful little gift. Mostly from stories that I had told him about growing up and it would show me that he was listening and paying attention to me.

On Oct. 7, 2001, Paul and I went for a walk at Como Park. We were enjoying all that MN has to offer in the fall and it was a gorgeous day. We ended up under a canopy of gold, red, and orange trees. I can still see it in my mind tonight. We were holding hands and talking and then Paul said, “I wanted to bring you flowers but I got you something else instead.” Then without even seeing him, he got down on one knee and pulled out a ring and asked me to spend the rest of my life with him. “Will you be my bride?” he asked. Hands down, the most beautiful flowers I’ve ever received.

I have a box of “flowers” from my husband over the course of our 11year history. Some of it was candy, so that is long gone, but it is fun to look back at all of his tokens of appreciation and admiration of me.

When I got home from Haiti two weeks ago, my husband brought me into the house and stood me in front of our window with the blinds closed. He looked me in the eye and said, “I wanted to bring you flowers, but I got you this instead.” Pulling up the blinds, I immediately saw the HUGE mound of ice and snow removed from our walkway. Now, we are faithful in shoveling our snow. However, then the snow plow comes down the city street and blocks our walk way to the street. Our only way of getting to our car. With three children in the house, you can’t always get out there right away to clear away what the plow has piled up. Then it turns to ice, and you really can’t get rid of it. My husband watched me for the last two months, walk our children outside. Step on the mountain, put the car seat in the snow, grab one kid, and haul him over to stand in the street. Then grab the next kid to do the same. Then I would myself climb over the mountain, and the haul up the car seat and set it in the street to then grab my purse and diaper bag. Yes, it was that obnoxious. That was our reality. So while I was enjoying the 80degree weather of Haiti, my husband spent four hours ice picking at the mountain to clear a path for me to the street. This may not sound romantic, but it was a huge gesture of love and dedication and thinking of someone other than himself. It showed me immense love. Maybe we are all grown up now and that some people would still take flowers and chocolate and jewelry, but putting in the hard real life stuff is romantic to me.

So, my husband is stuck in PA and he and his friends have decided to drive through the snow storm over 24 hours to get home. I want to make sure he gets flowers upon his arrival tomorrow afternoon. I have 15in of snow to shovel out of in front the garage so he can get to his car. The plow is coming through, so I’ll have to get to the front walk way before it freezes, and then he won’t have to worry about it later. I guess that’s old people love, but its deep and thoughtful and good.

My Sabbath

I am currently in the honeymoon stage of my relationship with the Sabbath. I like it. I mean I love it. Saturday was a one day vacation and I didn’t go anywhere warm or sit on the beach. It was amazing. Here are some things that I noticed and experienced on Saturday.

• Rest is very different than not doing anything because you are exhausted or feeling lazy. I looked around and saw my partially cleaned home, but knew that I had prepared for it. Our basic cleaning was done, and the pressure of cooking wasn’t there because there was food for us to eat already made. It felt amazing. All the preparation the day before so that I could truly bypass my chores for one day. When you work and live and play all in the same place, there is always something to do. But this day allowed me not to think about it. I could rest my mind, my body, and focus purely on my family.
• I realized how often I use my chores as an excuse to stop playing with my kids. When we are playing puppy or star wars and I want to be done, I always have something else to do to tear me away. I hate being honest about this, but its true more often than I want to admit. But on Sabbath, there are no chores, no preparing meals, so I play. It forces me to be truly present in my day. Be present with my children and invest in what they want to do. My mom always said that was apart of love, doing something the other person enjoyed even if you didn’t want to.
• Most of my day was not spiritual. It wasn’t this long prayer time where I was always reading the Bible. I did read scripture on my own and with my children, but most of the day was just living. Being together. Doing things together. But isn’t that also Spiritual? Isn’t that in the essence also just purely loving someone. Being with them and making them a priority? So I guess my day was holy, but it just felt like life.
• I LOVED not having to cook! Seriously. I really do like the cooking, but the pressure of it three times a day all the time is a bit much. I felt like a load had been lifted off me for even just a little while. That rest made my day feel like vacation.
• I loved having a break from Technology. As much as I love the internet, and I do, really, not having that expectation of being on, connecting with people, relying on it for recipes and what not, was a breath of fresh air. Kind of like how we don’t know how to exist with cell phones anymore, but when it breaks or powers out, we feel a little relief (after the panic of course). It felt good to be present in only one world, and not also in the faux world of the internet. I had to be here and only here. It showed me how much I divide my time and attention between so many things. No one ever really gets all of me. Sabbath will help that.
• It’s hard to slow down. It feels different than normal, which is probably why it’s so hard to do. We get comfortable in our rhythms and then it’s hard to do something new. To take a break day. Every week to take a break. (Don’t shake. Take a break. Hehehe) It felt very good to take time to take care of myself, my kids, our relationships and our relationship with God.
• It was easy this one week. I fully expect there to be some hard choices coming up. To move it from something fun to do and how much it benefits us, to it truly being a priority so we have to say no to something we want to do. We are trying to carve out a new rhythm and that takes time to figure out.
• I was reminded how much God desires this for us. He has it set in motion for a reason. It is there to help us and not to hurt us. To fulfill his promise of giving us life to the fullest.
• On Sunday I felt rested. It was great. I got a lot done and still didn’t even turn on my computer. I stayed more present with my kids and that was good. Sabbath will remind me every week what is important. I need that, cause frankly I have a bad memory. Oh, like, today is my grandpa’s birthday. Good. I should remember to call him.
• There are some people who were a little freaked out that we were doing this. I think a little concerned that it was going to move into being legalistic. Truly, that is not why we are doing this. First, I want my life to love the Lord and this is something that he asks from us, just like the rest of the commandments. And, we wanted time together as a family. We wanted to see what God has in store for us. Taking a Sabbath is for our benefit. Why? Well, we are going to find out.

Friday, February 18, 2011

the Sabbath

I've been on this journey of exploring the Sabbath. I find it interesting that of all the basic 10 commandments, its the one I, and so many choose to ignore. My conclusion is that for myself, I am full of pride and independence that I could choose which things to listen to in scripture and which to not. Now, I believe and follow the doctrine that we are free in Christ, and scripture also says, everything is permissible, but not everything is beneficial. I get it. I will still end up in heaven if I don't observe the Sabbath. God will love me the same if I don't do this. That isn't the issue. (I am excited at the idea of the depth in our relationship because of it though.)

If we look at all the things in Scripture that God directs us to do. Don't kill. Don't lie. Don't cheat. Love Him only. Don't commit adultery. Serve others. Give God your first fruits, Etc. All of these things benefit us in some way. All of them protect us and others. And all of them lead us to trusting God to be enough. When these laws/rules/guidelines for living aren't followed then pain and suffering and distrust, anger and hate follow. Brokenness follows. So why don't we, I'll just stick with me. Why don't I believe this to be true regarding the sabbath as well? God put it out there with all the rest of the rules, but I completely ignore it saying that one seems harder to me. It doesn't' fit my schedule. That one doesn't apply anymore. Why am I ignoring the Sabbath? God has it set in place to protect me. To guard me. To love me. To help me. Just like the rest of the rules. Murder hurts people, yes even the one doing it. Adultery hurts everyone. Idolizing anything other than God destroys our relationship with him and gives us a false outlook on life. The Sabbath exists to protect me.

So, with that being said, it was my New Year's resolution to start observing the Sabbath. I haven't done it officially yet. My past behavior would claim since I haven't done it yet and I've missed five weeks, that I should call it a failure and forget it. I won't. I'm starting late, but I'm gonna do it. When talking to my children about it, they got a little confused and thought they had to rest in bed all day. We'll figure out guidelines for this. I haven't searched all of scripture to know exactly how to do this. I am confident it looks different for everyone. And another thing I am sure of is I will not be working tomorrow. A very wise friend told me to start with just a few hours or half a day. Get that much into my habit and then carving out a whole day will be easier in the future. So that is what we are doing.

Tomorrow is our family's first Sabbath. I have the dishes all done. The laundry is done. I have chili made so I don't have to do dishes tomorrow. I will make muffins tonight so I don't have to make breakfast or do dishes. My big goal is not to cook or do dishes. That is work to me. House chores is work, so that will be done today. Being online is work, so I will unplug my computer. I am getting gas today, stopping at the bank and picking up more banana's today. I won't grocery shop tomorrow or run errands.

Prepping for the Sabbath is a lot of work today. But I am excited at the rest that comes tomorrow. Intentional rest. Not, I'm lazy I'm not gonna do anything, but I have prepared for today. Everything is done and ready so I can spend the day with my children and be in the word. I know I won't be perfect at this, and the rules will probably change along the way as I discover what works best for our family. But I want to honor God in what he has set forth for me. Observing the Sabbath is something he said we should do. I'm gonna find out why.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Living in the Valley

When I was younger and I would leave a youth event, camp or retreat there was always this big downer. Real life just wasn’t as fun as staying in a hotel or camp for the week. Normal life felt hard. As an adult, I still love the high. I’m kind of addicted to it. Except the high seems even bigger. When I enter a room at a youth event, people clap. That definitely doesn’t happen at home. People want to take their picture with me. People ask me to pray with them, discuss faith with them. It’s this amazing gift to experience. And I don’t have to clean or cook for the weekend. God seems like such a present part of everything I do on a weekend youth event. I love it. I really do.

When the mountain high is bigger, often the crash is even deeper. Don’t get me wrong, I love the life I come home to. I have this amazing husband who supports me, loves and encourages me. He works hard at loving me and the kids and providing for us. I have these really fun kids that I want to spend time with. They have a ton of energy, but I wouldn’t want it any other way. I am blessed to live by incredible people that I get to call friends. Do life with them and participate in fun adventures with them. I have a wonderful life to come home to. But when I come home I still crash in the valley. I am finding this pattern in my life. Today I am crashing from an amazing two weeks. My house is a disaster! Truly. Please don’t come over. I also don’t want to cook and I love to cook. I am tired. The mountain of real life things to do is HUGE.

Real life is starring me down and its winning. I feel overwhelmed. Our tax appointment is on Tuesday and I have a lot to prepare. Receipts, mileage logs, proof of income, renters paid info, W2’s collected, etc and my company’s first official year in business. Because of the break in over Christmas, our door was fixed and the bill came in almost twice what the given estimate was, but still under the amount of our deductible, by only $100. Awesome. There is a community program that helps eliminate lead in old houses where children live. I am still doing the dance with them in what paper work they need to come and replace our windows. We are now in the 11th month of paperwork pushing. We fall under certain income levels and are eligible for energy assistance. Apparently they need more proof of our random income so there are more copies to be made by very specific deadlines which are this week. We didn’t have a front license plate on our new car, so we got a ticket. The plate was on the front dash, but didn’t have the tabs on it, so we got another ticket. Paid for both tickets on one check and they said we didn’t pay. Now we have to contest it at court. Awesome. I have contracts to write for gigs I have this summer, bills to pay, dishes to do, and no clean clothes to wear because I have ignored the laundry. The roof is leaking. The back door alarm system is broken after they replaced the door so we are in the process of fixing that. I have a trunk sitting in my entry way that has sat there for 5 weeks. It’s completely in the way and all I have to do is move it downstairs. I don’t want to. I have school applications to complete by certain deadlines, doctor appointments, dentist appointments, and school screening appointments. Grocery shopping, bank runs, and donation centers to visit. All of this while I try to take care of my children, love them, play with them and teach them about life. I mean teach them not to curse at all the things that feel and legitimately are crappy, but that God still exists in these moments. That they don’t look and don’t feel the same from on top of the mountain, but He is still here. I’ll be honest, I’m cranky today and feel like the bad guy is winning, but God is still here with me. Living in the valley isn’t like the mountain, but its real, and this is my life, the brokenness and hardness of it.

But we all have these things in our life. Some are worse than mine. But God is there too. Be encouraged. God is there with us in the valley. I am applauding for you from my living room. Here, I'll make my kids do it with me right now.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011


Here are highlights from today:

• Creeped out by how much my kids like grapefruit. There knowledge of how to prepare it, eat it, and thank God for it is weird to me.
• After two days of absolute no listening, number 2 asked to come out of the room this morning, got dressed without being asked, reminded everyone to thank God for their food, asked to be excused every time he needed to leave the table, was in his coat and boots when he heard it was time to leave and said thank you mom. Wow, this one goes in the books!
• Doctor says number 3 is way beyond her development level. I need to watch out for independence, thinking she is bigger than she is, and trying things she isn’t ready for or capable of. No kidding, really?
• While also being beyond her skill level in some areas, number 3 also has decided to stop using her hands to eat and sticks her face to the table and eats like an animal. Awesome. Trade one skill for another I guess.
• Number 1 wore a batman costume all day. I didn’t care.
• I let number 1 and 2 cover their feet in marker so it looked like socks. I didn’t care. It will eventually come off right?
• Discovered that my website was done. Seriously, I have been working on this for over a year and wasn’t sure I could see it happen. I am so thankful for Jon in helping me. It is a rejoicing kind of day.
* Batman beat out Jesus today in superpowers. Jesus didn't raise the dead dog from the dead, batman just did CPR.
* Number 3 is the big bad baby who eats everyone in the village. All superhero's must save the people from her. Poor girl is going to have a complex some day.
• Worked really hard, wrote more notes and outlines for my talk tonight than I usually do. Was feeling awesome about my talk. Got new ink to print it off and left it on my coffee table when I left the house. Seriously? I totally spoke without a net tonight and it freaked me out. I prayed and prayed, God be my words, and he did. I have no idea what I said, so not sure how it went.
• Took all three kids to my speaking event. At the end, number 1 decided to give away as merchandise as I sold. We have to work on his business skills.
• On the way home the kids and I decided that they should host their own show like the brothers on their favorite show Zabomafoo. They decided their show was going to be hosted in superhero costumes. The top ideas of their superhero names are:
o Super sense – the ability to sense evil and fight for good. Also works to have great long lashes to help with seeing
o Pajama boy – fights crime at night while sneaking out of bed
o Girl brother – half boy half girl. Not sure what kind of superpower that is, but hey they’ll figure it out.
o Heart man – he throws hearts and his whole costume is a heart cause he cares so much about people. He loves them to death.

• Oh man these were crazy. Still working on what the daily show would look like, but we can figure that out tomorrow.
• When I have a crazy day and can’t think straight, instead of yelling at the top of my lungs, or quietly meditating, I like to listen to music as loud as humanly possible. Somehow it feels like the loudness pulls out the angst and frustration and crazy. It’s not spiritual, but man it makes me feel better.
• Mmmmm….a cup of coffee and an hour out of the house at Spyhouse. My day is good.


This past weekend I got to speak with a really great friend of mine, Henry Graf. What I love about speaking with Henry is that we have tried to create a conversation style presentation when we are on stage. From almost the beginning of our friendship, Henry and I have had great conversations. We talk about family, life, struggles, but mainly, what God is teaching us in life. It's amazing because I didn't really talk this way with many friends, but I did with Henry. Henry and I don't see each other very often, but when we do, we get deep real quick. We have humor enough to share, and we do, but what I appreciate about our conversations is how real they are.

My friend Lindsey picked me and Lulu up from the airport on Sunday after the event. We were sharing about our weekends and all that was going on in our lives. At one point, my friend was sharing about how she wasn't honoring God with how she lived this past week. I was taken aback by her statement. Had I even thought about that at all? Was the way I was choosing to live my life honoring God this past week or weekend? Without even knowing it, she spoke truth into my life and challenged me to dig deeper.

Throughout my life I have noticed how much conversations have enriched, encouraged, challenged, and spoken wisdom into my life. Conversations hold the power to uplift or tear you down. To leave you feeling encouraged, or empty. Conversations I have valued the most are those that always point me back to the Lord unintentionally. Its just talking with friends about life. What is difficult, challenging, etc, and there my friend will sit and speak love and encouragement to me. They speak Jesus into my life.

I found myself very blessed lately to have many of these conversations. I have noticed that I have some incredible people I have in my life; friends that are seeking God daily. So many that speak encouragement and truth into our conversations. It has also taught me to listen and learn from our times together.

I have also noticed how many people are really terrible at conversation. Very often I find myself being the only one asking questions about the other person. (in which case its more like an interview) What’s going on in their life, how are things going, etc. What I have found is that there are quite a lot of people who don’t ask anything about me. They either don’t care or don’t know how to ask. And then if they do ask, the only questions are surface questions. I am saddened to think of how many people I know that are really terrible at conversations.

When people list all the ways that God speaks into your life; the Bible, prayer, church, etc., don’t ever belittle the community of God. The conversations that happen when we talk and listen to other believers. Many conversations in our days, weeks and months exist with no real depth, meaning, listening, or encouragement. But my prayer is that we can dig deeper with other believers, friends and family. We can talk about things that we never have before. Find truth and freedom in our faith and in our relationships. It is amazing how God teaches us through conversation.

It brings me back to speaking with Henry. Because of this reason we have chosen to have a conversation from stage and the last month has shown me how much people can relate to that. That they enjoy listening to a conversation that digs deeper, and prayerfully will make them want it for their lives.

Friday, February 11, 2011

The adventure begins

OK Folks,

10 bags packed!

Kitchen cleaned.

Bathroom cleaned.

Five people bathed, nails clipped, hair straight. (well sort of.)

Rides to the airport arranged.

Four babysitters are prepared.

Notes from mom and hot chocolate packed for winter adventures for the kiddos.

All the laundry done and clean sheets on the beds.

Mother-in-law flying out to see me in Indy! yay for surprises.

This weekend, all five of us will be somewhere different. (Well, I guess Lu will be with me.) Its exciting. The kids get special sleepovers and probably more treats and TV than mom usually allows. Who wouldn't like that right?

Paul gets to go to camp and do music with his band. He is excited for slightly warmer temps, camping, playing music and broom ball. I think.

I get to take Lu with me and head on a plane today to Indy. I get to hang out with 350 Junior Highers, speak with my dear friend Henry Graf, and get to work with Cathy Pino, Beckie Alborn and Katie Ernst. Holy Cow I am excited for my weekend.

Noah gets to spend the night with his friend Kieran and then off to his other family, the Hoods to meet up with Caleb. This is after their babysitter today takes them to a dance competetion. Oh my. They will have stories when I come home.

When we are all together after a weekend away, my favorite thing is sitting down and telling stories. I will share some of those stories with you when I return. Until then, have a great weekend. Check my facebook for weekend updates and photo's.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Slow Down

I get that my life is crazy. I do a lot of traveling, I am a part of a mission project, I have a public speaking ministry, I am a mother, wife, friend, daughter, sister, neighbor, citizen, and it makes life hectic. In each of those roles, there are responsibilities, bills, relationships, cleaning, maintenance, etc. But don't we all have that on our plate in some way? Isn't the common response to "How are you?" "Busy, but OK, or Busy but good." Busy is the new fine.

Being busy is normal, we've made it normal, and we are all trying to figure out how not to be so busy. (Maybe like we're all trying to figure out how to diet and loose a little extra weight.) I don't even like saying that I'm busy anymore because I can't get any sympathy. I'm in the same boat as everyone else.

But is there a way to stop the cycle? To really slow down and change the way we do life? Aren't we in complete control of our schedule? We are the ones who say yes or no to the opportunities presented to us.

The last few months my family has tried to slowed down. I was that person who had play dates a few times a week. We were going all the time to do this or do that. I had a hard time staying home and I thought it was fun. I was doing all these great things with my kids. Fun activities, and educational outings. But we were going all the time. We were loosing the art of just being together. Learning that we don't have to go from one activity to the next. In taking that much of life, its almost like you miss out on it.

You know, in slowing down, I have noticed a few things.
* I have so much more patience with my kids. I'm not as stressed out, so there is more time to teach, be calm and show my kids a better way to behave. (By that I mean, I'm not yelling all the time, just half the time.) :)
* We have more time for reading, talking, dancing, and just being together.
* My kids have learned how to be content without constant activity. They can play nicely on their own (still with normal sibling fights), but even more than that, they use so much imagination to make up things to do without my direction.
* Because we are home more and just around each other, my kids have this freedom to ask incredible questions and we get such great conversations.
* With slowing down at home, I have found that my expect ions regarding life have changed. It isn't about how much I get done (I do still struggle with this), but the relationships I am in. My husband and I are stronger and closer than we've ever been.
* Bedtime is calm and full of snuggles and songs.
* Life has more peace. I care less about what I'm missing out on.
* I have energy to get up and do devotions in the morning. I have time to really seek God's counsel in my life.
* My house isn't any cleaner, but I don't care anymore. (OK, most of the time anyway.)

I know we are busy. I know its hard to learn to say no. I still really struggle with that. It's even harder to say no to good things. Great things. Amazing opportunities. But what would it look like if we set up boundaries for our life. To protect the things we care most about? How much activities will we say yes and no to? How many nights will we spend out of the house? When will we get family time?

We are in complete control of how busy we are, so if you don't like it, try to make a better choice. The rewards are worth it.

I used to run around and do all sorts of fun things I think partly because I didn't want to be home. I thought that communicated I didn't have a life. I wanted to be that person that didn't let having kids change her life. But I also think there was a level of immaturity in there. A fear of being by myself because I wasn't sure I liked myself. By running around all the time and never allowing time to just be. Be creative. Be myself. Learn from books, from my relationships, from exploring the things I'd always wanted to do and never had time to do. I have started to discover myself and learn what I am capable of. I have had time to invest in others and really learn what it means to love them. I feel I am starting to live John 10:10, "I have come that they may have life and have it the fullest." I am experiencing deep peace, contentment, real joy, self acceptance, and a faith in God I didn't think was capable for me. This kind of depth in life is what I wish for everyone.

I get that life has crazy busy times. I can't escape that. But I don't want it to be normal for me anymore. Don't get me wrong, nothing is wrong with adventure. I LOVE adventure, but just like everything else, within proportion.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011


I was in Haiti on Monday morning talking with my friend and her fiance. By evening I was sleeping in my own bed next to my husband. I had waited two long years to go. There was an earthquake, Cholera, shootings and robberies since I had been there. There was a lot that happened in that country since I'd been last. It was different.

Then there was me. I am in the U.S. wondering what my role is. How can I help. What is my next step. What can I do. I felt lost in my relationship with Haiti and I wanted to go to sort some things out.

I leave in one day for a youth event in Indiana. My husband will be gone to camp for the weekend with his band. My daughter will come with me and my boys will be split up between two different families. There is a lot to prepare. This week my very first CD project was completed. My website is going to launch this weekend, and I got an order of 200 T-shirts that I need to prepare for my event. There is much to do.

I have three days in between my trip to Haiti and a speaking weekend. There has hardly been time to process what happened, there is too much to do in life to sit and reflect. I hope I can find those answers soon. I am experiencing a bit of the surreal. These lives are so different, and I exsist in both. In each place I carry the other with me.

What I do know is this:
* I'm OK now without the answers. I know they will come.
* I need to learn more Creole. Knowing the language is a key to success. It is the doorway to the relationships I am longing for in Haiti. It will show me, I am certain how to help.
* There is still much joy in that country.
* For all the money that was promised that hasn't been seen, many people are on the ground working for a better Haiti. A healing Haiti. Those people are your local missionaries, and non of the big wigs.
* Tent cities will be around forever. I'm not sure how any of those who live there will ever get out. Let's make it possible for their children to live in real homes.
* Much, much, much work is needed. There is much to be done. Let us not give up the fight.

Organic with money and such

I wish trying to feed my family and teach my kids how to eat well and healthy wasn't so darn expensive. (And by well, I mean really great tasting fun and exciting food. I want them to be adventurous with food.) I wish stores made it easier. I wish time made it easier. I wish money made it easier. Man reading this, I sure don't like to work very hard. ha!

I don't like the word "organic" but love everything that it means. I just hate how trendy it sounds. It almost sounds pretentious because you know how expensive it is. When in reality, it's the way food ought to be. Clean without chemicals, no preservatives and supporting the farmer who chooses to grow healthy, natural food with a little carbon foot print. It's the way it used to be and should be. I love cooking and making food, but the expectation of it three times a day gets a little daunting. I mean, if I'm not cooking, at least three people aren't eating and as a parent, its kind of my job. I think I would get arrested for not feeding them. One thing I really hate is washing dishes. Oh man there is nothing I like about that. And cooking and making food from scratch means dishes. Not just plates, but pots and pans.

These things are always on my mind. My kids are always hungry and I need to be thinking about what they are going to eat. We have a rule, fruit and/or veggies at every meal. My kids know words like dairy, protein, whole grain, vegetable, fruit, balanced diet. I say those things not because we are perfect, we are FAR from that, I just think, this is the only body we have, and we are shaping these little minds to understand food and what it does for you. I want them to have a healthy idea of what food is. That it is a gift. Something to be enjoyed and not filled with regret after eating it. I want them to love good food and enjoy the experience of eating.

I wish there was a better way to balance money and healthy eating. We always have fresh fruit and vegetables, but then we have to make sure we eat them all before they go bad. In order to have them around at convenience, they have to be frozen. (Convenience is a huge deal to parents of multiple children. Its hard to keep dragging three kids around to the store in 5degree weather.) I prefer frozen over canned because of more preservatives. However, it sure is tempting when money is really tight and there is a big sale on canned soups, veggies and fruit.

My son asked me about a squeeze jelly he really wanted. I told him no because of how bad it was for him. There was almost no actual fruit or berries in the jam. He asked why if it was so bad for us, would the store sell it? Why would they want to hurt us he wonders? Good question. Isn't there anyone we can trust in providing good real food? Yes, the Co-ops. I love Co-ops, except for our budget.

Then I think, how much is our health worth to us? Maybe I can decrease our finances somewhere else, to increase the food budget. That means I have to address our budget. I hate that almost as much as dishes.

Ahh. I heard a super model say once, she eats healthy 80% of the time. She felt that was a good effort. If it works for her, maybe it will work for us.

Looking at a lifetime of balancing that out.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

What is mission work?

I was asked one time what I thought missions was. I have come to realize that it is two different things, but we often consider it as only one.

1. To witness about the life saving work of God through Jesus Christ.
2. To help feed the hungry, bring medicine to the sick, school to the illiterate, create access to clean water, etc. Meeting basic human needs and rights that so many live without.

The two stand as seperate issues. Both are needed but not necessarily together. They can support each other, or stand alone. I think our mistake comes in assuming that if you need the later, you must also need the former. If you don't have food, you must also not know Jesus. If you have ever done mission work, you would agree. There are many I have met who have much, much, much less than I do, but have a deeper rooted faith in God that would put mine to shame. (not that we are comparing.)

Sometimes as Christians I think we feel that if we are going to go and serve the basic needs of people than we must speak the name of Jesus and his truth into thier life. Isn't just showing up and caring about the basic needs of people just as God intended? If we are in a place that is helping meet those needs, than God is there. In fact, in just showing up, many of those who have needs to be met recoginze you as the answer to their prayer and give God the glory.

I do my acts of love in the name of Jesus, not that you have to know him. If I only act to persuade you to know and love God, than I will be discouraged if you don't. And if you don't in turn come to love Jesus, than do I stop loving you? Are you now not worthy of his love becuase you don't love him in return? I pray that how God uses me to love you will point you to Him, but in the end, I love you and serve you because he has commanded me to. And knowing God has created a desire in me to love you. The person I serve, and ultimelty am loving, has their own walk with the Lord. My walk with the Lord demands my time and attention and heart to the poor. In all we do we give God glory and credit for what we do, which of course we hope and pray points others to Him. But their believing in him does not waiver our committment to helping.

If you want to verbally witness and share Christ with all people, you don't have to do ministry in the slums. Maybe the better place for you to spend your time is with the middle and upper class folks. They have a lot to distract them from God's presence in thier lives. If your heart aches for people who live in unhumane conditions, than working to illimante that is very Christ like.

Both missions are needed, but not the same. They can work together and they can work seperate. But realize they are different.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

A day of reconnection

I have a relationship with Haiti. That’s why it was so important for me to come. I needed to do some maintenance on my relationship with Haiti and the people I love here. I haven’t seen them in two years. Our relationship was suffering. I needed to be here. To rediscover her and be with those that are so dear to me.

Friday night we threw a Birthday party for Leonard. He is family to us. He has driven faithfully for us for over 10 years. The party was fantastic (and Leonard’s first)! We had pizza, rice and beans, fried plantains and beer. And we laughed so hard we cried watching Leonard break open his first pinata. Leonard’s oldest daughter, Nadine and I have been close friends since we met in 1999. We have emailed and called and visited one another both in Haiti and in the States. We have graduated High School together, gotten married, and had children over the years. She is like a sister to me.

Tonight I got to see Nadine. Immediately we sit and start talking. We get through the surface things and dig deep. Where is your heart? How is your relationship with your husband? What do you struggle with as a mother? What are your dreams for your future and family? What are you scared of now living in Haiti? How we can support each other so far away from one another?

Conversations with Nadine are real. They are honest. They are the big and little things in life. It warmed my heart and brought me peace to be with my friend tonight. It also showed me my desire for Haiti. To know her and love her on a very real level. To truly start to understand the depth of the people and their culture. To know them. Talk to them and hear their stories. I got to immerse myself a bit today in Haiti. Walking the streets and shopping with my friend. Eating out and talking about Haiti now and her future. What can our role be? What do they need? We clearly did not solve anything, but to sit in Haiti, talk about it and pray over it felt real.

Thursday, February 3, 2011


I love being here. I love the people, the culture, the air, everything. God is here. My family is here. Rachel is here. I wasn't sure how I was going to feel, but only peace resides within me being here.

I will post more latr, but wanted everyone to know that I am not just here, but doing well. Lots to do tomorrow, and share again.

May you find peace where you are.

Preparing for Haiti: Part 3

I often wonder if I am a woman of my word. OK, honestly, I hate that I’m really not. I also think, what memories will my children choose to remember of me? Am I someone who played with them? Am I someone who was busy all the time? Yelled a lot. Calm in the face of struggles. Their encourager. Then there is the issue of 100 times a day my kids loose their cool over something, and I hear the words pour out of my, “Take a breath. Relax. We can’t think when we are upset. Take a breath and let’s think about this. We can be angry, but we don’t have to loose our cool.” Then it never fails, I am tested five minutes later, and yes, I loose my cool. I feel like I loose it a lot and honestly I feel like, how are my children ever going to believe anything I say when I’m not a woman of my word? When I tell them to behave one way, and then act another?

Today was a day of pushing all sorts of limits. After starting breakfast at the request of my children, my cousin called. He wanted to know how flexible my travel time was because of all the weather around the country. He wanted me to leave 12 hours earlier than expected. Oh. OK. We can make that happen. I call Paul, I find a sitter, I wash a dish, I turn the TV on for the kids so I can pack, and we’ll make this happen. Then I go to grab my passport. Not where I left it. I look in the second place I keep it, our files. Not there. There are three places I keep my passport, all of them void of my one absolute critical traveling need. I call Paul, he doesn’t know. While my heart starts beating faster, I am trying to retrace my steps. Really difficult for me, when so many of my days feel the same. Then I have this vague memory of starting to pack for Haiti a month ago and moving my passport with my jewelry. Yeah. The Jewelry box that was stolen off my dresser at Christmas. I don’t have it. I don’t have a passport and I am supposed to leave for Haiti in four hours.

I stood their paralyzed. I started to cry, then I started to weep. A really hard cry from deep within. I hadn’t felt violated with the burglary until just then. They finally had taken something critical from me, my opportunity to go Haiti. I was looking at yet another trip cancelled. I couldn't breath. I was crying so hard. I called my friend Lindsey. She could talk me out of this place. Speak truth to me. Pray for me. I’m pretty sure she thought I had been attacked and when I told her what happened, she responded, “It’s OK. We can do this.” She found a passport emergency office here in the Twin Cities. There are only a handful of offices around the country, and wouldn’t you believe that one of them is 10 min from our house. It was noon. My kids hadn’t eaten, and I got an appointment at 1pm. I’m printing off applications, yelling at my kids to get their coats on while they are still in their pajama’s. Somehow we did it. I got my kids to the downtown office, after getting them upstairs, we had to go four blocks to the Post Office and get my photo taken, go back and finish the application, then go back outside to feed the meter. It was a crazy two hours and I yelled at my kids a lot to walk faster, stop complaining, stop touching everything, stop interrupting, you name it. Then I got my passport. It was a miracle. In two hours I went from having no passport to having a passport and leaving for the airport.

But I wasn’t proud of how I treated my children. In the face of hardship and struggle and stress, I wasn’t the woman of my word that I wanted to be. We would pray and then I would just freak out again. My kids saw me crying and tearing apart my room looking for my passport. When my son looses his favorite blanket and he starts freaking out and yelling that someone took it, I tell him to calm down. Retrace his steps. Yelling isn’t going to help. I get that a blanket and passport aren’t on the same level to an adult, but to a child, his absolute favorite possession is missing. Just like mine. We are in the same place and I expect more from him than I am able to deliver myself. Most days I disappoint myself in how I behave. I want to the woman I trying to raise my kids to be.

I live by the promise of “one day at a time, sometimes one moment at a time.” God is gracious to me as I learn.