Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Wordless Wednesday - Hosanna! Hosanna!

He was looking up at Mommie in the choir! *melt*


Tuesday, March 30, 2010

It All Started When I Saw This....

A simply beautiful, blue hydrangea.

Hydrangeas hold a special place in my heart. After my second miscarriage, the loss of twins at 7 weeks gestation, a friend brought us a blue hydrangea. The moment I saw it I thought, "How fitting that it's blue, since we lost boys." We didn't know for sure that we lost boys, I just felt strongly that they were boys. When my husband got home that evening and saw the blue flowers he had the same sentiments, because he also strongly felt that they had been boys. So we named our second set of twins Sam and David a few days after they left us for heaven.

Whenever I see blue hydrangeas I think of Sam and David. I saw these while grocery shopping at Sam's Club today. I thought, "Hey it's the end March. It's close to the day I lost them. No, wait. It's the 30. Today is the day. Six years ago today."

As I walked through the store it seemed like blue hydrangeas were everywhere. It didn't take long before I was a complete mess. Walking through Sam's Club wishing I could just find a quiet place to bawl my eyes out. I haven't been so overcome with the grief of that loss for quite awhile, it has, after all, been 6 years. But man, oh man, did I cry.

This is one of the things about grief that perplexes me. You see, I'm perfectly at peace with this loss. I have grieved, but I have also gotten to the point of acceptance. I recognize that God taught me great things in the loss. That God carried me through it. That God drew us closer to Himself because of it. I also see that if we had been allowed to keep Sam and David, we would not have our son, Kevin, and probably not our surprise, Izaak, either. And I needed them. Our family would look completely different, and frankly, I like us the way we are now.

I've been asking myself Why? all afternoon. And I don't have an answer, but maybe the answer is simply that a mom never gets over the loss of a baby, no matter how early the loss, no matter how long ago it took place.

To Sam & David: I thank God for you today. I thank God for the things he accomplished in me through two little heartbeats that I saw one time on a screen, and got to carry for a few weeks, and love wholeheartedly. You changed us. Though I never got to hold you in my arms, I hold you in my heart even still. I love you.

I thank God for the beautiful reminder of two precious babies that he sent me today in the form of hundreds of blue hydrangeas. And I thank him for carrying me through the darkest hours of my life.


Monday, March 29, 2010

"Not Me!" Monday.

Welcome to Not Me! Monday! This blog carnival was created by MckMama. You can head over to her blog to read what she and everyone else have not been doing this week.

It is simply not possible that I cannot think of one funny, crazy, silly, strange or unusual thing that I did this week. It couldn't be that I would write this whole post in a rush in hopes of winning a prize from MckMama. I would never do that! Not me!!

So, how 'bout you? Can you think of anything you need to confess of not doing this week?


Monday, March 22, 2010

"Not Me!" Monday.

Welcome to Not Me! Monday! This blog carnival was created by MckMama. You can head over to her blog to read what she and everyone else have not been doing this week.

There is just no way that I allowed my kids to have not one, but TWO jammie days this week. I certainly wouldn't have participated myself in two jammie days. And there's absolutely NO WAY that I drove my charge, J, up to kindergarten while in my jammies, barefoot even. Nope, that was not me!

Even if I did let my kids have 2 jammie days, I would never, ever take them out to Chick-fil-A in their jammies and allow them to play for an hour in the play area in their jammies. Are you kidding? What kind of mother would do that? Certainly not me!

Since we didn't have that second jammie day, it certainly didn't happen that my 11 year old son, Tim, was home sick from school, and when we took him to the doctor at 2 in the afternoon I would never have allowed the littles to go out in public a second time in their jammies. No WAY! Not me!

There is absolutely no way that two jammie days were the result of me not getting the laundry done all week. It's just not possible that between jammie days that the littles wore dirty clothes to Bible Study. I would never put on a front for people at church. Nope, NOT ME!

Please share what you didn't do this week and jump on over to MckMama's for a little laughter therapy!


Friday, March 19, 2010

Compassion's Great Sponsorship Challenge!

God has really been reshaping my heart in the last months. Last week I posted about sponsoring Kipyegon in Kenya through Compassion. I was really touched, torn, and broken from reading Jennifer's blog and the other blogs of people on the same trip. Then I made the *ahem* mistake of Googling Francis Chan on you tube. Watching his videos will definitely challenge the way you think about pretty much everything. So, I'm working on redefining my life, goals, ideals, and the actions I take as a result of those new definitions.

One of those things is to be more active in caring for others. Not just saying I'm going to 'pray for you', but doing something about it with the resources God has given me. To use the talents and resources I have to further the Kingdom of God.

Some of that may mean you'll be seeing changes in my blog, possibly including some ads, but mostly more pointed areas of posting in the areas God has gifted me in order to use my gifts to a) glorify God and 2) help and encourage others.

All that to say this. I'm taking this blog out for a drive! This first drive is a direct result of opening my eyes to the poverty around the world. My goal is to use this blog, my Facebook page and Twitter to challenge my friends and followers to sponsor 100 children around the world, to change lives, to give hope, and to spread the good news that God loves YOU!

Jump on board and sponsor a child who desperately needs you!


Thursday, March 18, 2010

The Quarky "Bubble... Dum!" Miracle.

I believe God is interested in our lives, not just the big, spiritual stuff but every detail. I definitely believe in miracles (as I posted here and here). But sometimes God's sense of humor, his attention to insignificant detail, and his understanding of what drives our hearts just makes me want to giggle!

It was about two and a half years ago when I got my first cell phone, a pink Motorolla Razor. I had the brilliant idea to record my then 2 year old son, Kevin, saying, "Daddy's calling.", "Grandma's calling." and "The kids are calling." so I could set them as 'ringtones' for those specific people. It was adorable! The only problem was that we spent hours trying to set those little recordings as ringtones and we couldn't do it. I tried every angle I could think of to no avail. I even gave the phone to my kids to try.

A short time later my battery quit holding a charge, so Todd took the phone to the store to have it replaced. He brought it home and we charged it up. Then he called me. I was completely flabbergasted when I heard Kevin's voice, "Daddy's calling!" No way! When I answered I asked Todd how they'd done it. He hadn't a clue. He hadn't mentioned it to anyone, they had just simply replaced the old battery with a new one. I thought there must be some glitch. So, I had other people call me and the regular ringtone played. The other recordings we had made were not attached to the caller id of those individuals, just Todd's "Daddy's calling!"

We tried anew to set the other recordings, seeing as how it obviously could be done. It never happened. For the next 20 months every time Todd called Kevin's voice sang out that "Daddy's calling!" There was only one answer, God. The only logical answer is that God cared enough about the tiniest, most insignificant, silly detail of my heart to cause that specific ringtone to attached to the exact profile I wanted it on and no other. Hmmm. Interesting. A one in a billion fluke? You might think so, but it happened again, only different.

Back in September I got a new phone, a BlackBerry Storm. Along about December Izaak (now 2) said his first big word and it was so cute I decided to record it so I could also hear his precious voice when people called. "Bubble... DUM!" he said. And it took effort! It didn't just roll off his tongue, he had to work to get that out! "Bubble... DUM!" It was easy to make this recording into a ringtone! I set it as the main ringtone. And every time my phone rang and he heard his voice he'd join in, "Bubble... DUM!"

Yesterday I noticed my BlackBerry Storm was acting up. I made time today to take it to the store (since it's still under warranty). The clerk knew exactly how to fix it, it had to be scrubbed, a hard reset. Did I have it backed up at home on my computer? No. Well, then he saved my contacts to his machine and told me that all my photos would be saved to my memory card. No problem.

When all was said and done my phone was working properly again, but I had to go back and re-personalize everything. You know, set the wallpaper, hide the icons I don't use, and set the sounds and ringtones. I clicked over to the vox files and they were GONE. Every single one of them, gone. NO! No more "Bubble... DUM!"??? How can this be? I knew I could record it again, but four months later Izaak can say, "bubble dum." without any effort. Cute, but not as cute. It's no longer the only word he can say. It rolls off his tongue nice and smooth from being practiced every time he heard my phone ring. I must say, I'm proud of myself for not crying, though I felt like it.

Tonight, I resigned myself to having to record a new "Bubble dum!" ringtone. I couldn't get Izaak to cooperate. He simply didn't want to say it for me. I thought maybe a little peer pressure might work, so I asked Kevin (almost 5) to record another, "Daddy's calling." He gladly obliged and when I saved it and clicked back to record again, something strange.

Clear as day there were two vox files. One that I had just recorded and one from December 3, 2009. Curious! I clicked the unnamed file to play it. "Bubble... DUM!" I clicked again, not believing my ears, "Bubble... DUM!" Curiouser and curiouser! "Bubble... DUM!" "Bubble... DUM!" "Bubble... DUM!"


YIPEE JESUS!!! (right Linny?) There's only one explanation I know of, God - again. He knows my mommie heart. He knows how much joy that little, tiny, silly vox file brings me. And, He CARES! It was NOT there this afternoon, and it IS there now. Every other vox file that was on my phone this morning is GONE, save one. There are 3 vox files on my phone tonight, two were recorded tonight and one is from December 3, 2009 and it says, "Bubble... DUM!"

And in my book, that's a miracle!


Monday, March 15, 2010

"Not Me!" Monday.

Welcome to Not Me! Monday! This blog carnival was created by MckMama. You can head over to her blog to read what she and everyone else have not been doing this week.

It was not me who backed out of my garage on my way to work one night last week, and bumped into my friend Sam's car that was parked in the cul-de-sac behind me. It's not the THIRD time I have 'bumped into' a parked car since December. I am not starting to think that I got totally reliant on my rear sensors in the old Windstar in the last 8 years, and have completely forgotten how to use a mirror to back my land-yacht. Nope, that was NOT me! (at least, I wish it wasn't)

I'm sure it wasn't me that procrastinated all week, delaying making a cake for my best friend's husband's welcome home party. It was not the night before the party when I realized that I was out of eggs and decided I could send my husband for them in the morning. I certainly wouldn't push my husband out of bed at 7 am. to go to the store for eggs. I was not totally late for the party because it took forever to make a cake the day of the party! Nope, totally not me!

What have you NOT been doing this week?


Saturday, March 13, 2010

Dear Soldier,

We met you at Sam's club the other day. My very inquisitive 4 year old son asked you many questions. And while normally we consider this behavior cute and endearing, I'm afraid it may have taken you aback somewhat. The questions about your wheelchair and how you got there. Why you do wheelies and who you were fighting in the war. I hope you didn't mind too much.

What I really want to say is, when I thanked you for your service and got completely choked up, I just want you to be assured that my tears were not tears of pity. My tears were tears of a deep gratitude to you and your family for giving up the use of your legs so that the people of our country can feel safe and continue to exercise our freedoms.

My tears were tears of understanding that no amount of appreciation can begin to be enough for what you have suffered, and yet you did it willingly and still had a smile to share with my inquisitive son.

My tears were tears of knowing that I am but a breath away from losing one of three nephews, a friend, my best friend's husband, or one of many internet friends. That life is short and war is real and not everyone comes home whole or comes home at all.

Dear Soldier, thank you. Your sacrifice did not go unnoticed by this very grateful, proud, American woman.

I hold you in the highest regards,

Friday, March 12, 2010

My Jesus...

...loves the unlovable.

...tells me to love my enemies.

...ate with sinners.

...tells me to pray for those who persecute me.

...died for all. me. my friends. my enemies.

...forgives me when i fail.

...strengthens me to do better.

...compels me to make it right.

...loves. you know Him?


Wednesday, March 10, 2010

A Little, Little, Little.

My friend Jennifer has been in Kenya with Compassion International this week. She's there to learn about what Compassion is doing and blog about it so that people will hear about Compassion's work and hopefully choose to get involved. This post is especially compelling when you see how these lives have been changed forever by the love and kindness of their sponsors.

I have always wanted to sponsor a child through an organization like Compassion, but I have always told myself that I couldn't afford it. Things are really tight financially right now. This week, through Jennifer's posts, God has been POUNDING on my heart's door and rearranging my thinking. "Really, Karina, you can't afford $38 a month? What if you gave up your Blackberry internet bill? What if you gave up Starbucks? What if you gave up Del Taco day each week? What if you asked your kids to give up snacks? It's only $38 per month. 'How many kids can you sponsor?' might be the better question."

Well, I did it. I'm not sure what we will give up, but I stepped out of myself and sponsored a little 6 year old boy named Kipyegon in Kenya. I'm so excited to write to him and let my kids correspond with him and see how God works in his life.

God gave me a little nugget of encouragement this morning as I helped out in Izaak's Bible study class. A little pre-school song with an amazing message. It goes something like this:

I bet you always thought
that a little is not a lot.
Let me tell you what I've been taught
a little can be a LOT.

A little, little, little is a lot, lot, lot,
A little, little, little is a lot, lot, lot,
A little, little, little is a lot, lot, lot,
A little is a lot in the hands of God.

It's amazing-azing-azing to see, see, see
what God can do through me, me, me
when I give-'im-ivem-ivem all I've got, got, got
a little can be a LOT, LOT, LOT.

A little, little, little is a lot, lot, lot,
A little, little, little is a lot, lot, lot,
A little, little, little is a lot, lot, lot,
A little is a lot in the hands of God.

Can you give a little?


Sunday, March 7, 2010

The Good, the Bad, the Ugly and the Truth.

Have I ever told you that I'm thickheaded and slow to learn? This is such a similar post to this one from a year ago, I can hardly believe I'm still in this place. There's a reason that God has to use baseball bats to get my attention. ;)

The Good.

When I was a little girl, I remember listening to my brother practice piano. I loved my brother, and I wanted to play piano just like him! I begged my mother to let me take lessons too. When I was 7 my mom decided that I had reached the age to be able to take lessons. I liked it for awhile, then it got harder and I didn't like it so much, but my mom made me stick it out. Eventually, I got good enough that I could play almost anything with practice and sight-read lots!

Along about 4th grade I also discovered that I loved to sing. I auditioned for a children's ensemble at church, in which I cried through the entire audition, and somehow miraculously made it into the group! My piano lessons gave me the ability to harmonize, so I became an alto.

I loved music! I even dreamed of writing songs, and wrote songs. I wrote and performed a song at my Baccalaureate!

The Bad.

In high school several things happened that in and of themselves weren't horrible but put all together added up to a lot of pain. First, my favorite piano teacher moved away. I got into a very emotionally destructive relationship with a girl who was also a pianist with dreams of writing music. She was very competitive and took many opportunities to put me down and make me feel that I wasn't good enough. I also tried out for every solo that came along in our high school church choir, and was given the brush off for one reason or another. At school during my senior year, I was the accompanist for the concert choir. The director was less than kind, to put it nicely! And I began to look at others' talents and abilities and compare myself to them, and being that we humans are our own worst critics, I always fell short.

In college, I took on a double major, Music Education and Music Performance, with a double emphasis in both voice and piano. Do you think I bit off more than I could chew? Yep! I was still optimistic though, but I had developed that bad habit of comparing myself to others, and there were some awesome musicians at my school. I lasted a year.

The destructive relationship continued.

After my year in college, I auditioned for a touring group called the Continental Singers. They didn't need a singer at the time, but they were short on keyboard players for their upcoming tours. I had never played keyboards. I had never read a chord chart. I had never played in a band. But I went. I had a great time, made great friends, but not in the band. The other band members were frustrated with my lack of experience. For three months I dealt with constant, outright disrespect both personally and musically.

The Ugly.

Shortly after the tour ended, so did the destructive relationship. I met my tenderhearted husband, who doesn't carry a single musical bone in his body, and we married. After that I just quit. I wouldn't sing or play for anyone, even myself. I wouldn't write music.

I listened to all those voices in my head that told me I had no talent, I had no rhythm, I couldn't sing, I couldn't play. I'm not one to blame people or circumstances for the direction the my life has taken. I chose to listen to the people around me. I chose to let their words effect who I became. I chose to believe them. I chose to quit. I chose to take the talent God gave me and bury it deep inside me.

The Truth.

A few years ago I decided I would start singing in the choir at church. I had no expectations. I just thought I'd sing, because I do love to worship my Jesus.

A little over a year ago I reconnected with my favorite piano teacher. I learned from her that she had thought of me as one of her most talented, promising students ever. And God began digging up what I had buried. He began healing those old wounds. Not long after that there was a solo open that I really wanted, but there was no WAY I would ask for it. A friend approached the music pastor on my behalf, and he (much to my surprise) let me try it. I worked and worked on that song, and it went well. Before long I found myself being asked to sing on the praise team, with a small solo thrown in here and there. I also began trying to take piano lessons, but I could not get past the old voices. It was painful and uncomfortable to sit at the piano. But, I was singing! Still, I feel so unworthy and it truly is a surprise to me every single time I'm asked because there are so many more talented people around me. Singing in an a cappella ensemble at Christmas was both a highlight and the most terrifying thing I've done so far.

Two weeks ago I approached a friend about singing in his Saturday Night Worship band. He turned around and asked if I play an instrument. I don't know what on God's green Earth made me tell him that I play keys (you know, since I haven't for the past 20 years) but I did, and he gave me 2 songs. I asked him for chord charts well in advance, but I didn't get them until 3 days before time to play and I didn't get a chance to look at the charts until the rehearsal the day of. Oh MY! I was a MESS. The voices in my head were screaming. I froze. I could not play during rehearsal or sound check. I ran out of the room crying after the sound check. My husband (God bless him) found me in a dark corner of the church a few minutes later, and he held me, and he listened to me sob about my past and how I couldn't do it. And then he said a very beautiful thing to me. He said, "But this time is different. I'm here for you now." Bless him, bless him. In that moment he met my deepest need, to feel safe and loved by him. And I did. Later he held my hands while I waited for my songs to come up, and he bowed his head and silently prayed for me. I know he did because I felt God's peace come over me.

I did it. I played my 2 songs. It wasn't great, but it was at least good. I didn't stop. I didn't freeze. I just let my fingers and mind do what they have known how to do for most of my life. I played. For the first time in 20 years I played in public.

After the service this amazing thing happened. The regular keyboardist came and talked to me. Please know that I was completely intimidated by this man, because he is a keyboard player. He was asking me about my background and why I hadn't played for so long. As we talked he told me that he wasn't really a keys player but a drummer. What?! He was taught at camp how to find a major and a minor chord, and he practiced until he figured out how to play them all and is learning their inversions. He doesn't read a note of music. What?! He told me how a friend had taught him how to play an exercise called "Hannon" and he was pretty good at it with his right hand but not his left. What?!

God used him to expose all the lies of my past. You see, I can read music, quite well (thanks to 13 years of piano lessons). I know all the chords, their inversions, their arpeggios, their scales. I have played most of the 30 "Hannon" exercises with both hands, together. This revelation was NOT one of pride. On the contrary, it was very humbling to realize that my view of myself was so completely distorted that I would be intimidated by anyone who could play some chords on a keyboard. When the Truth is, that God gave me a measure of talent, more than some and less than others, and I have buried it instead of using it. And the really cool thing was that I had a unique opportunity to teach this man another exercise that would help him to grow in his ability as a keyboard player and encourage him to keep learning.

And the big Truth is that God does not want me to think less of myself than He has made me, nor more of myself that what I ought, but He wants me to have a right view of who I am, who He is and who I am in Him! I'm a slow learner, but I am learning.


Thursday, March 4, 2010

My Jesus...

...walks with me.

...talks with me in a quiet voice.

...speaks to me through His word, the Bible.

...loves. me. everyone. unconditionally.

...forgives. everything.

...heals my brokenness.

...wants all of me.

...wants me to love others. like. he. loves. more concerned about my heart than my appearance. you know Him?


Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Focus on Marriage Silmulcast.

Today (Saturday) we attended the Focus on Marriage Simulcast Seminar. One word...


It's almost too much to process. But, I learned so much and God definitely pointed out a lot of areas in my life and marriage that I really need to work on in order to be the wife that I made a covenant with Todd nearly 18 years ago to be.

The conference was chock full of great speakers to whom God has given great insight. In order to not get too long winded I'm going to list the speakers and give a quote or brief word about their main point. Here goes:

Mitch Temple:
Told us that when we focus on the urgent in our lives instead of the important, we become short sighted. Focusing on the little daily irritants leaves no sight for the bigger picture. He also challenged us to Champion the marriages of others, by mentoring a younger couple! And he is responsible for what I think is both Todd's and my favorite quote of the day,
"The grass isn't greener on the other side of the fence,
the grass is greener where you water it the most."

Francis Chan:
ROCKED. MY. WORLD. I'm not sure I can even begin to describe how much his words effected me. He challenged us to get along in our marriages so that we could focus on God's higher purpose for our lives, eternity. Wach spouse should have undivided devotion to the Lord. And if there's a conflict in your marriage it's because there is conflict in your relationship with God. ROCKED. MY. WORLD.

Drs. Les and Leslie Parrott:
Taught us about the three parts of love; Passion, Intimacy and Commitment. They gave us this tool to use with our spouses to take our relationship temperature: Ask, "How is your love life?" and then have your spouse answer by rating those 3 areas on a scale of 1-10.

Dr. Gary Chapman:
I've read his books on the 5 Love Languages, and they have helped us over the years. Today he spoke about the 5 languages of apology. It was very insightful, but important to realize the way in which I need to apologize to Todd (and he to me) and the importance of being able to do so when you have done something that hurt your spouse.

Gary Thomas:
He told us that marriage is a long journey that 2 people take together. It takes 10 to 15 years for a couple to go from being "me" to "we". He talked about the seasons of marriage and why it's SO important to stay together for the long haul. But he also painted a picture that our relationship to Christ is the same as a marriage, and everything we need to grow as a couple is the same thing we need to grow as Christians.

Dr. Julianna Slattery:
She was Todd's favorite speaker because she told me how much my husband needs to be my hero. The person with the most power in my life is the one who can meet my deepest need. My husband's deepest need is to be my hero, to know that I believe in him and that I will be there for him. I can make or break him by meeting that need or not. And the same goes for his power in my life. I need to know that I am safe in his love and that he loves me. Loads to think about.

Kirk and Chelsea Cameron:
Shared from their hearts about their own marriage and how little the external has to do with the success of a marriage. Keeping your heart true to you spouse by not letting other things become more important. My favorite Chelsea quote, "You can't be a better mother than you are a wife." Reminding me to put Todd at the head of the family. And Kirk talked about letting his ministry be his mistress. Very real. Raw. Open. My favorite Kirk quote, "Never look down on your spouse. Instead look up to the cross, which is your salvation."

And last, but not least
Stephen Kendrick:
Stephen talked about forgiveness (yes, it seemed to be the God-inspired theme of the day) and dealing with evil as it comes. The Lords prayer is a daily prayer. Jesus said that each day has it's own evil in it, don't worry about tomorrow. We have to forgive everyday and let the past stay in the past, to let go of bitterness. Again, my favorite quote, "Holding on to bitterness is like saying, 'You hurt me, so I'm going to hurt me too.'"

There is SO much more I learned from these speakers, it's overwhelming. But really, the timing of this conference in my life was divinely appointed. And, I will use what I have learned to better my marriage, but also to move my focus off my marriage and set the mission of our family to be able to focus on that.



Monday, March 1, 2010

"Not Me!" Monday.

Welcome to Not Me! Monday! This blog carnival was created by MckMama. You can head over to her blog to read what she and everyone else have not been doing this week.

My new job at Krispy Kreme does not completely impress me with the sheer numbers of donuts made each day. And I'm not such a numbers geek that I would try to calculate how many mini-crullers I package and tray everytime I work. Last night I did not figure out that my coworker and I packaged and trayed over 20,000 mini crullers. And I'm not tortured by the fact that I cannot figure out how many doughnut holes I've trayed and packaged. Nope, not me!

Since I worked for most of the night last night, it was not me who had my littles play quietly in their room this morning after they woke up for an extra hour and a half. And it's certainly not me who plans to stay in my jammies all day. Nope, I can put aside my tiredness to be a great mom. That was not me!

It's also not me who plans to rest on the couch while my kids watch movies. I would never let the TV babysit my kids. Uh-uh, not me!

So what have you not been doing this week?