Monday, August 22, 2016

Spilling the Beans [June - July 2016 Edition]

June 2016

Bean corrected me after describing her as a fish in the water, "you're silly. I'm not a fish in the water! I'm a mermaid."

"I have a baby in my tummy. Her name is Renna and she's a bumblebee with wings."

June was not as eventful as July apparently...

July 2016 

Desperately crying: "What happened to my legs?! They're bendy!"

One of Bean's best buds is a little boy named Eli. She told us this story of their playtime together, "I was Sleeping Beauty and Eli was the prince." (Pause. It was at this point Kyle saw where the story was going and he gave me the look...) Back to the story: "I was dead so Eli kissed me." (I received another look.) Kyle explained, "You should not let boys kiss you." Brielle's logic, "but you're a boy daddy." (Another look.) It was at this point I'm desperately trying not to laugh hysterically, but it was an awesome opportunity to talk to our little girl about how precious kisses really are and that they should be saved for her husband. 

She comforted a crying Ele with the following question, "Are you sad? Do you need new shoes?"

Bean asked me a question that I didn't know the answer to, so I told her, "I don't know"

She whined, "I don't want you to say that!"
Me: "I'm sorry but sometimes I do not know the answer to your questions."
Bean: "Just think about it!"
Me: "oooooookay."
Bean: "Moooooooooom you know these things!"
Me: "I don't know everything!"
Bean: "Think about your choices."
It's like she has a teacher for a mommy....

Brielle to Siri: "I love you."

Siri: "That's sweet."
Brielle: "Do you love me?"
Siri: "That's sweet but I don't think it's meant to be."

We had to donate a pair of shoes to her cousin because she out grew them and she was devastated, especially because I told her she was getting so big!

This was her response: "My feet are not big!"
Me: "Oh. I'm sorry, your feet are small."
Bean: "My feet aren't small."
Me: "They're not small?"
Bean: "No. My feet are not small!"
Me: "What do you want them to be?"
Bean: "I want them to be tiny like Cinderella's! They're not just small, they're tiny like Cinderella's. They're growing tiny like Cinderella's."
I finally appeased her sad tears with, "You'll always have dainty feet like Cinderella's."
(Thankfully, this is one I got on video and will always treasure for it's adorableness.) 

Pictures of the months:

She dressed as one of her favorite Princess' Cinderella for her Princess dance camp dance.

Dancing with her prince.

My little mermaid.

The child loves putting ALL of her Princess dresses on, I think I counted 8 or 9 in this picture!

At the library, reading on a comfy chair, made herself so comfy she took her shoes off.

We went to a Children's Museum with my BFF from college and her three kiddos. It was a fun way to spend a free Friday!

The 4th of July with her BFF - her cousin Abi.

A collection of adorable Princess'.

Princess pile-up!

Big sister lovin'


Thursday, August 18, 2016

Do Not Break Faith.

There's a story in Joshua that bugged me every time I read it. Each time I read it I knew I was missing the point, but it wasn't until this week that I understood why God did what He did.

The Story

It's in chapter 7 of Joshua, where Achan took a cloak, silver, and a bar of gold for himself after God specifically told the Israelites to destroy Jericho and put all of its spoil into the treasury of the Lord, or face the consequences promised in 6:18, "But you, keep yourselves from the things devoted to destruction, lest when you have devoted them you take any of the devoted things and make the camp of Israel a thing for destruction and bring trouble upon it." Because of Achan's sin his entire family - sons, daughters, wives, oxen, donkeys, and sheep were stoned and put to death by fire. It bothered me that Achan was the one who transgressed God's word, but it was his entire family that was punished. In fact his sin went so far as bringing disaster on the nation of Israel, "... the anger of the Lord burned against the people of Israel." (7:1) Achan's sin brought disaster upon multiple people, not just himself!

The story bothered me and I "comforted" myself with thoughts such as, You are God. There is none like You. Your wisdom is unfathomable. You created all things and You hold the life of all things in Your hand. You are God, and that's just the way it is. Although those thoughts are true, they offered little in understanding why women, children, and animals were destroyed because of one man's sin.

I started thinking about that more and more, praying that God open my eyes and give me clarity. What He revealed has

First, think about the statement I wrote in the third paragraph: women, children, and animals were destroyed because of one man's sin. All I kept thinking about was Romans 5:12, "Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned..." Sin and death came to this world because of one man: Adam. He did not obey the word of the Lord when He ate of the fruit in the garden of Eden that God told him not to eat. Because of one man's sin, all human beings and all of creation are cursed! None of us are innocent. Achan's story reminded me of this truth, but it offered so much more than that...

With that understanding, I read through the book of Joshua once again and began underlining repetitive phrases in red. (I've realized that if God states something over and over again, I'd better pay attention!) In the book of Joshua variations of this phrase come up multiple times: "You shall do according to the word of the Lord."

But it was the statement in Joshua 6:27-7:1 that got be thinking, "So the Lord was with Joshua, and his fame was in all the land. But the people of Israel broke faith in regard to the devoted things, for Achan the son of Carmi, son of Zabdi, son of Zerah, of the tribe of Judah took some of the devoted things. And the anger of the Lord burned against the people of Israel." There will be more on the amazing bolded statement in a minute, let's get a bit of background from the story first...

After this transgression Joshua led a small group of warriors to war and lost. Upon retreating to camp Joshua and the elders of Israel tore his clothes and fell to his face before the ark of the Lord, desperately praying, asking why God had left them. God told him to, "Get up! Why have you fallen on your face? Israel has sinned; they have transgressed my covenant that I commanded them; they have taken some of the devoted things; they have stolen and lied and put them among their own belongings. Therefore the people of Israel cannot stand before their enemies. They turn their backs before their enemies, because they have become devoted for destruction. I will be with you no more, unless you destroy the devoted things from among you." (7:10-13)

Breaking Faith

Joshua was faithful to God's Word, doing what He said. In this case, Achan admitted his sin and was put to death because he "broke faith."

What does that mean exactly? I want you to think about two things:

1. Remember those repetitive phrases, "You shall do according to the word of the Lord."
2. What is faith? Faith is believing that what God states is true.

Achan broke faith because he did not believe that God would do what He said He would do! He did not follow the word of the Lord, because He did not believe God!

Achan did not have faith in God.

A bit of A.D. application for Christians:

Jesus died on the cross. There is not a historian on the face of the planet that will argue that Jesus lived and that He was crucified. It is fact. Here is were our faith comes in: Jesus said, "I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father, except through me." (John 14: 6) If you believe that Jesus died on the cross for your sin, was buried, and rose again God's Word states that you will be saved (Romans 10:9). If you do not believe what God's Word states about salvation, you are breaking faith because you are not doing according to the word of the Lord and you are not believing that what God states is true!

That is a hefty thought isn't it?

If we do not believe in the gospel, we do not have faith in God, because that is our commandment: believe in Jesus or not. There is no middle ground. If we don't we go to hell, if we do, we spend eternity with Him. No middle ground.

Believe it or not, Achan's story has more to it than that!

The Spiritual Leader

Achan, as the man of his household, was given the duty of being the spiritual leader. God gave men the responsibility to teach the way of the Lord to his family. If he broke faith in this matter he obviously did not teach his women and his children the truth about God's Word because he did not believe it himself. Therefore, his family did not believe either!

Men, you have a huge responsibility! Your job is to lead your family according to the Word of God! If you don't, you set your family up for destruction.

Women, with that understanding we can submit so much easier. It is our husbands that will be held accountable for what happens in the household. God has given him the responsibility of spiritual leadership in his home. Let him lead according to God's Word, because it is him that will stand before God, held responsible for all decisions made. Isn't that sobering?

So men, take God's Word seriously and live by it, so your wife and your children respect and honor you as the spiritual leader of the home! Do not break faith! For your life depends on it and so does the life of your family.
I am beyond thankful for this man God gave me who protects, provides, cherishes and nourishes his family just as God has called him. He isn't perfect, but he works hard at keeping faith and I respect and adore him for it.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Tuesday's Top Ten [What I've Learned From Olympians]

We do not watch a lot of TV, but we have thoroughly enjoyed watching the Olympics. Bean enjoys the diving and she especially likes watching Katie Ledeky or Michael Phelps swim (because she just finished swimming lessons last week so she can swim just like them).  But her favorite is the gymnastics "himnatics" and tells us she wants to do that and that and that and that and that. Whenever we watch "himnatics" she must dress the part and do flips with daddy. She asked for shoes and was a tad disappointed to learn that they compete barefoot. (Perhaps her outfit seemed incomplete?) It's been wonderful to watch the competitions with an interested 3 year old, but my favorite part about the Olympics are the stories behind each athlete. Some are heartbreaking. Some are motivational. Most inspire greatness. It's because of these stories that I have a top ten! Without further ado... Here's 10 things I've learned from Olympian's these last few weeks...

1. Work ethic matters. Every single athlete participating in the Olympics poured blood, sweat and tears into their sport so that they could represent their country as the best of the best. One part of Michael Phelps story I was amazed to learn is his daily schedule: he has 2 workouts a day and swims at least 80,000 meters a week! That's astonishing! I know this example of an athlete's daily grind is not unfamiliar to others. Olympian's do not just show up and compete as naturally amazing athletes (although that helps); they work extremely hard for that gold medal (or to simply be there). It wasn't until watching the Under Armour commercial staring Michael Phelps that I had a glimpse into the hard work and dedication needed to boast 28 medals and years of Olympic experience! The fact is that there is no athlete in history who even comes close to owning that many medals of that caliber and they were not simply given to him. He had to work for them.
 My favorite part of this video is the end; when he's alone, shivering with the effects of cold, hard work wearing on his face, and a glimmer of determination in his eye.

2. You cannot be selfish. I thought about this one a lot as I watched the amazing story of Wayde van Niekerk from South Africa who set the world record in the 400 meter dash from lane 8! It was absolutely phenomenal to watch him win with the incredible time of 45.26! After hearing his story I told Kyle that I couldn't help but route him on! I was so excited to see him win after hearing him say, "I'm not just running for myself. I'm running for my mom and my coach and my country." He's absolutely right. He represents so many people who have put in the time and effort to help him achieve his goals (his mom and his coach) but he is wearing his country's colors and when they call his name they also call out his country. There is no room for selfishness. But the part of the story that most amazed me was his mother. She was a gifted athlete who was not allowed to compete because of the color of her skin. Thankfully times have changed in South Africa and instead of being bitter, her selflessness in one statement blew me away, it was something along the lines... "I was not meant to compete, but I was meant to be Wayde's mother so he could compete." Her selflessness is worth noting. And mimicking.

3. Be dedicated. Most people cannot match their dedication and drive. If they want to compete at this level, they cannot give up when times get difficult. There is story after story after story of broken bones, surgeries, injuries galore that did not stop or slow these athletes down. Sure it was a set back, but they did not give up. They were single-minded and resolute when it came to reaching their goal. Be like Oksana Chusovitina, 41 years old, unwilling to give up her sport despite her age. That kind of discipline is rare.

4. They are goal oriented. They have an end in mind and they look to it and push themselves beyond what they thought they could endure because their goal is to cross the finish line and stand on the podium. Everything they did and do is wrapped around that goal they made for themselves.

5. Keep your eyes on the finish line. Any diversion might throw you off course.What is your end goal? How are you going to get there? Work hard. Stay dedicated. And keep your eyes on the prize. No matter what adversities come your way.

6. They work through adversity. Each athlete experienced failure. Gymnasts fall off the balance beam. Sprinters false start. There's injury and set backs and mistakes, just like every other human being on the planet. The difference is that they pushed through the hard times, working and working and working and despite the pain kept their eyes on the finish line. 

7. Be coachable. Olympic athlete's are experts at their field. Whatever sport they've undertaken, they know inside and out. Yet, they rely on coaches to teach, train, and offer wisdom. They trust their plan, they trust their advice, and they heed it. Athletes are successful when they listen and apply. That's being coachable. Wayde van Niekerk (as one example) has the utmost respect for his 74 year old coach and her life-time of wisdom. 

8. Do not have confidence without humility. Each athlete must be confident in his/her ability to compete with the best. Confidence that he/she has trained their very best. But they must also recognize that other athlete's contain that same confidence, drive and determination. Anything can happen. So one must be confident and humble because like Felix experienced in the 400 meter sprint - you can be beaten. 
What I love about this video is Miller's "give it all" finish. She gave everything she had on that track. But I also admire how Felix finished. She knew she lost and yet she was humble enough to go over to the one who beat her and help her up. I wish the video continued to play, because that kind of sportsmanship is worth watching!

9. Give 110%. If you want to leave with no regrets you must give it all you have. It was clear Miller gave it 110% when you see her finish the 400 and it was clear that Phelps gave it all he had when he tried to exit the pool but was clearly too shaky and exhausted to do it with ease. If you want to win, give it all you've got and then some.

10. Have respect for others. Hold others in high regard. Everyone has a story and in that story is conflict, struggle, highs and lows - just like yourself. In order to compete at the Olympics each athlete must work as hard as the other. Athlete's must not disregard others achievements. Felix clearly demonstrated this respect towards Miller and Bolt also showed respect even after being hit by a camera man. 
It was clearly the camera man's fault, but Bolt's response, "... accidents happen..." shows respect when he could've been angry towards someone who could've injured him - taking him out of the race! Instead, it was said that the camera man offered him a token of apology and Bolt wore it at his next race. That kind of respect towards others is worth mimicking. 

We should apply that same mind set to our marriage, our parenting, our friendships, our jobs, our education... imagine the results if we applied the hard work, determination, respect, and selflessness to the important things of our life, just as an Olympic athlete does at his/her sport? I truly wish I had that mindset 15 years ago when I faced adversity on the basketball court my senior year of high school, instead I let it discourage me. I decided to party instead of pushing myself the years following that experience and quit. I will forever regret that. Learn from my mistakes and be like these Olympic athlete's who persevere, have coachable attitudes, who work hard, who show dedication, discipline, humility and respect for others.

Today I use my story and the stories of others to inspire. I write about them often when I talk about Christian's facing ISIS or being persecuted for their faith. I want to be like them. Dedicated. Goal oriented. Working hard. And keeping my eyes on the finish line - when my faith becomes sight at meeting Jesus face to face! Everyone - Olympic athlete or not - will meet Jesus face to face and I want to spend the rest of my life with my eyes on the prize, learning about this Man I'm going to spend an eternity with all because I believe He forgave me for my disrespectful attitude 15 years ago - and each sin past, present, and future. As a result, I owe Him my life. 

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

What Consumes Me

One of my all-time favorite pastimes is reading. Since my Briella Bean's birth in 2012 it is a pastime I let go temporarily because I simply did not have the time to do it - I had more important priorities. I've recently picked it back up, not because I necessarily have "the time" but because I began working part-time at the library as their Cataloguing and Technical Services Librarian. One of the requirements of this job is to catalogue new books into our online consortium. I see all kinds of new books added to the shelves and my "want to read" list grows bigger by the day. I love it!

Plus, I had the honor of heading up the teen summer reading program. In order to encourage them to check out books relating to our program's theme (fitness) I read and book-talk a variety of different books. Despite my situation not changing (in fact its only become busier), I've picked up reading novels once again.

I've thoroughly enjoyed my time spent reading instead of browsing through Facebook, Pinterest, or watching TV. I've stayed up later than I should and started my day with my nose in a book. I also sit in the girls playroom while they chitter-chatter away at whatever occupies their adorable play time. I've somehow managed to read more books in the course of the last couple of months than I ever have since Brielle's birth. I'm not sure what my excuse was then, but it seems ridiculous now. Reading is a far more productive way to spend downtime.

I've always known that stories consume me as I read them. I fall in love with the characters and their story. I cannot wait to find out what happens! Once an author pulls me in, I'm stuck and engrossed. It quite literally consumes me. I see nothing wrong with my delight for books and their stories, but I've been pondering the truth behind what consumes me through our study in 2 Peter. Peter's purpose in writing this letter is to remind his audience to stay firm in God's Word so that when false teachers come, they will be able to sift through the truth. The only source of truth is Scripture and Peter states (in 1:16-21) that the Word is more powerful than his experience of being witness to Jesus' transfiguration (Matthew 17). That is a pretty phenomenal truth. One that cannot and should not be ignored. If what Peter says is true, we need to heed his advice and make every effort to supplement our faith with knowledge in Scripture (1:5-11). If we are diligent, Peter teaches we will be effective and fruitful Christians. Unwavering. Steady.

If I am to be unwavering and steady Peter explains that I need to make every effort to know Scripture and be consumed by it. That has not been my life recently...

What started this convicting realization was a sermon in Isaiah 28. Talk about WOW. The prophet Isaiah is preaching the word of God to Ephraim, Israelites north of Jerusalem. They have become proud, arrogant, and drunk on themselves and Isaiah is asking them, do you want to rest? Listen to God's Word! Do not let it become blah, blah, blah! They have lost their sense of God because they do not listen to His Word. Isaiah tells them over and over and over again, line by line by line that God wants them to REST in HIM but they would not listen. The Word of God became "meh" for them. God was not enough.

Have I become like Israel? 

For a solid month I chose the novel over Scripture, shrugging over that missed time learning about what God has said. I had that "MEH." attitude. I'm ashamed to admit it. I'm working on my third time reading through the Bible and I told myself that was enough. If I don't make every effort to spend time in it, my attitude about it will become meh... blah, blah, blah. 

My thoughts were not consumed by God because I was not spending time in His Word because my attitude about His Word lacked passion.

You see, my thoughts have been so consumed by these books I'm reading that I think of nothing else and all through my day I realize that I'm not making the effort needed to have my mind focused and consumed on God Himself. There's nothing wrong with these books. They're entertaining! The books themselves are not the issue. The issue is me. I am not disciplined enough to make the effort needed to keep them as entertainment and not let the fictional stories and characters take over the thoughts that should be reserved for truth. I need to make every effort to supplement my faith with knowledge. Knowledge does increase with every book I read, but what knowledge specifically is worthwhile? What knowledge is eternal? What knowledge keeps me steadfast in my faith? Scripture. I must make every effort to establish my mind in the truth, that it consumes me and I am stable and sure and unwavering. This takes diligence, effort, discipline - all those qualities I currently lack. I do not intend to read less, but I do intend to be more purposeful in my reading. What I pick up either contributes to my knowledge of God or takes away from it. Right now these seemingly harmless novels are having the opposite effect. Not because they're terrible books - on the contrary! The author is so good that it's her stories and the characters in her fictional writing are what I think about all the time. That is the exact opposite of what Scripture teaches. That is not the fault of the author I speak of, it is my lack of discipline.

So when I spend time in book stores or picking books off the shelf of our local library, I make an effort to pick books that would focus my mind on Him because I want Him to consume me. Until I can pick up a book and enjoy it for what it's worth - fiction - I'll avoid them and let truth take hold of my thoughts.

Let my words and thoughts be YOUR words and thoughts. Consume me, Lord.


One of the things social media has done is to create a perception of perfection. We truly believe that someone else has the perfect life because all we see is their highlight reel. Sometimes I feel like a fool opening up like I have here today, but I do not want you to think I'm flawless or perfect. I'm full of imperfections and am in desperate need of a Savior! I hope that my openness about my weaknesses inspires you in your walk with Christ. I do not want the perception of being someone who "has it all together" all the time, in fact, I want to be viewed as someone who has it together because of my faith in Christ and that I need HIM every hour of every day in order to make that a remote possibility. I earnestly desire that my sharing here helps others to learn as I learn and grow as I grow.

Do not become a stagnant Christian! Join me in making every effort to grow and learn in Christ through Scripture. He gave it as the only true source of eternally valuable knowledge, because it is through the Bible we learn about our Creator, our Savior, our King, our source of LIFE.