Monday, August 31, 2015

{God-sized Dreams} Seeing your child know God


We’ve always told our kids about God. We’ve said prayers around the table, before bed, and when they’re scared. They’ve gone to church since they were newborns and now attend a private, Christian school.

The last several months, Cate wanted to talk about baptism and communion. So we had short conversations in the mini van and our row of chairs at church. She’s read her Bible more and asked deeper questions. She went to church camp for a few days not long before we went to Guatemala on a family mission trip.

I knew God was moving in her life.

My husband Greg and I knew this 8-year-old girl of ours was one reason we were supposed to go on a mission trip. We knew seeing poverty was different than talking about being generous. Our team of 13 people from our small town in Kentucky included four kids about Cate’s age. We served with Bethel Ministries International in Chichicastenango, Guatemala, where we distributed wheelchairs, built houses, visited families, and distributed food, clothing, and school supplies.

On our last day in Guatemala, we had finished our projects and were on the black sand beach of Puerto de San Jose enjoying some time with team, who had become friends. In the midst of the adults chatting and the kids digging in the sand, Cate came to me and said she needed to talk. I expected her to say something about the loads of sand in her bathing suit, but instead she told me she wanted to be baptized when we got home.

Isn’t that the dream of parenting? We do all these good things for our kids and expose them to God in all the ways we know how so they can actually know God.

I know I've already told most of this story here, but I'm sharing it today at God-sized Dreams. I'd love for you to join me there for the rest of this post.
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I'm linking this post with the lovely Soli Deo Gloria Sisterhood Gathering. Want more insights? "Peace in the Process: How Adoption Built My Faith & My Family" is available on Amazon. Like me on Facebook, follow me on Twitter, peek into my life on Instagram, follow 152 Insights at Bloglovin', or subscribe to receive "Insights in Your Inbox."

Friday, August 28, 2015

7 Things I Learned in August


I'm just going to skip the part about how fast August has gone and how I can't believe it's basically fall. Even so, August managed to teach me some things. In no particular order, here are seven things I learned this month ...

1. Having Rend Collective release one song a time when I pre-order the album is fun and frustrating.

I love getting an email from iTunes telling me I have new music, but I wanted all the songs quicker than they were available. Talk about a lesson in delayed gratification. {The whole new album is available now.}

And, for the record, Rend Collective isn't the first band to do this, just the one I've been playing over and over again.

2. One Tree Hill went off the deep in end for season nine, affirming the fact shows should end at their peak and not drag on.

I loved OTH ... for about seven seasons. And I certainly liked moments of the eighth and ninth seasons, but more than anything I just kept watching because the end was in sight and I needed to know what happened with my friends in Tree Hill, even if Lucas and Peyton had moved on. I could have done without most of the ninth season, but the finale episode itself was a good ending.

3. Sometimes books are exactly what you need when you open them up. 

Okay, so I didn't just learn this, but I remembered it as I read Emily Freeman's "Simply Tuesday: Small-Moment Living in a Fast-Moving World" and Kristen Strong's "Girl Meets Change: Truths to Carry You Through Life's Transitions" this month.

4. Sending the second-born child to kindergarten at a school that also housed his preschool is totally different than sending the first-born child to kindergarten at a new school four years earlier.

This is a story from my life this month. And, really, as much as I like order in my life, getting back into a school-time routine always comes with some resistance, even from me. So we just jumped in, although admittedly we're all missing being able to jump into the pool! But we're doing well and the new school year is off to a good start for both kids. I've been motivated to get some things done while they're at school before we add a baby to the mix!

Seasons are a-changing ... 

5. Right Now Media has some good Bible studies. 

Specifically, I've watched two video series :: "Living Life Together: The Rhythm of Grace, Rest and Community" by Shauna Niequist and "Pulling the Thread: Unraveling Your View of God's Calling" by Jen Hatmaker. Greg and I also are making our way through "Have a New Kid by Friday" by Kevin Leman.

While watching each of them, I've scribbled notes and questions and scriptures and quotes in my journal. I've quoted things to friends and send invites to Right Now Media because I don't want people missing out.

6. The Project Life App is awesome. 

I've never gotten into digital scrapbooking. Sure, sometimes I print out blog posts to include among the pictures. But I've loved the traditional paper and embellishments of scrapbooking, even if I'm mostly fitting pictures into divided page protectors that are the foundation of the Project Life philosophy. But I downloaded the app a couple months ago at the recommendation of a friend. And then this summer I started using my iPhone for more pictures.

One afternoon at the pool I decided to mess around with the Project Life App and ended up scrapbooking five pages right there. On my phone. At the pool. And then I ordered 12-by-12 pages that showed up in my mailbox and were then slipped into page projectors in an album. I made another layout while sitting on the couch at my mother-in-law's after a fun afternoon. Just this week, I made five layouts on the way home from Louisville.

The quality is superb and the convenience is amazing. I'm looking forward to the most recent batch arriving in my mailbox.

7. As I was thinking about coming to college 18 (!!!) years ago as college student moved back into our small town this month, I realized HALF OF MY LIFE has happened since then. 

HALF. Whoa. That's a crazy realization and place to be in time. {And, of course, I wrote about it and then I submitted the post as a letter to the editor for The Murray State News.}

How's your August been? Tell me about it. 
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This post contains affiliate links, but I only recommend books and other items I really love.  

I'm linking up with Emily Freeman for my favorite monthly recaps. Read other Things I Learned posts :: {From 2013} JuneJulyAugustSeptemberOctoberNovember. {From 2014} JanuaryFebruaryMarchAprilMayJuneJulyAugustSeptemberOctoberNovemberDecember. {From 2015} JanuaryFebruaryMarchAprilMayJune. July.

Want more insights? "Peace in the Process: How Adoption Built My Faith & My Family" is available on Amazon. Like me on Facebook, follow me on Twitter, peek into my life on Instagram, follow 152 Insights at Bloglovin', or subscribe to receive "Insights in Your Inbox."

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Three Word Wednesday :: Eyes on Guatemala


“Don’t excuse yourself by saying, ‘Look, we didn’t know.’
For God understands all hearts, and he sees you.
He who guards your soul knows you knew.
He will repay all people as their actions deserve.”

I ran into Kim at the pediatrician’s office one day last week and then at the soccer fields this week. She’s my down-the-street-around-the-corner neighbor who organized our Guatemala team. We had texted some but I hadn’t seen her since we came home from the mission trip. I hugged her and told her how I was surprised how much I already want to go back. And then we made plans to lunch together.

The next day I talked about the mission trip to my endocrinologist during my regular diabetes check up. He’s actually from Guatemala and has been in the U.S. for eight years. We talked about poverty and government corruption in his homeland.

I’ve been thinking about our Compassion girl Roselyn. She lives near Guatemala City. Logistics didn’t work out for us to meet her when we were in country, but we hope to some time.

While shopping at a consignment sale, I found a children’s book in both English and Spanish. It took my mind back to Guatemala, where I watched my daughter read the English words while Angelica read the Spanish words of several books. I bought “If I Had a Dragon” (aka “Si Yo Tuviera un Dragon”) and I figure I’ll get it into the hands of a Guatemalan kid one day, somehow.

All these moments collided in my mind last week. Driving to and from my endocrinology appointment, which is an hour a half away, I had “Keep Your Eyes Open” by Needtobreathe on repeat. {This is also the song I used for the video I made about our trip.}

“… Cause if you never leave home, never let go
You’ll never make it to the great unknown til you
Keep your eyes open, my love”
{From “Keep Your Eyes Open” by Needtobreathe}

I want to keep my eyes open. I want to remember what I saw and experienced in Guatemala. Talking to Kim and then Dr. Figueroa and thinking about our week in Guatemala and how we were so close to Roselyn makes me want to go back – and take that book.

We’ve been home 6 ½ weeks and I’m seeing things – most every little and big thing, really – differently. My life is being filtered by my experience in Guatemala. Yes, the poverty I saw makes me thankful for my life and all the many opportunities here. But it also reminds me people here have needs.

I saw God in a new way there. And I want to keep seeing him that way here.

“Don’t let the night become the day
Don’t take the darkness to the grave
I know pain is just a place
The will has been broken …”
{From “Keep Your Eyes Open” by Needtobreathe}

I am notorious for complicating things and holding on too tightly to people and reactions and plans. But, really, the people and places God has used to change me the most weren’t ever part of my own plan. That’s how Guatemala was. That’s how adoption has been. That’s how life in God’s kingdom should be.

And now that I’ve seen God in a new way, there’s no turning back. {Tweet that.}
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Read my other Guatemala-related posts here :: 

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An InLinkz Link-up
   
Want more insights? "Peace in the Process: How Adoption Built My Faith & My Family" is available on Amazon. Like me on Facebook, follow me on Twitter, peek into my life on Instagram, follow 152 Insights at Bloglovin', or subscribe to receive "Insights in Your Inbox."

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Shelter Point Retreat



“Brother, let me be your shelter.
I’ll never leave you all alone;
I can be the one you call
when you’re low.

Brother, let me be your fortress
when the night winds are driving on,
be the one to light the way,
bring you home.”

{Needtobreathe in “Brother”}


We want our lake house to be a refuge from the hustle of life. We want to make memories there with our friends. We want to step away from everyday routine and be refreshed. We want to appreciate a different pace.

And we want our lake house to be that for other people.

We had a hard time naming it. Wait, why does a lake house need a name, you ask? I guess it doesn’t have to have a name, but naming it seemed like the thing to do if we were going to invite people to rent it. With names, come identities, so I kept listing words that described what we wanted the lake house to be.

Greg was the one who threw out “shelter.” YES! I knew when he said that “shelter” was part of this house’s identity. I like the dual meaning and the fact I immediately started singing in my head Needtobreathe’s “Brother.” Of course a house is a shelter, literally, but I we want this house to be a figurative shelter – a refuge from the world where people can gather with their loved ones.

So, friends, let us be your shelter.

Shelter Point Retreat is now available to rent. On a point lot, the house has three bedrooms, two bathrooms, lots of windows in the kitchen and living room, and a beautiful view of Kentucky Lake. You can find out more about the house, rental rates, and availability at www.vrbo.com/741043. We also have a Facebook page or you can email me. {See pictures of the house here.}


“And when you call and need me near,
Sayin’ where’d you go?
Brother, I'm right here.
And on those days when the sky begins to fall,
You’re the blood of my blood;
we can get through it all.

Brother, let me be your shelter …”

{Needtobreathe in “Brother”}
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Want more insights? "Peace in the Process: How Adoption Built My Faith & My Family" is available on Amazon. Like me on Facebook, follow me on Twitter, peek into my life on Instagram, follow 152 Insights at Bloglovin', or subscribe to receive "Insights in Your Inbox."

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Three Word Wednesday :: Small Moments Matter


My boy and I had a rough morning the Friday his first week of kindergarten. Of course, I should tell you he didn’t start school until Wednesday, so we’re talking Morning #3. Anyway.

I also should tell you, he’s a morning person, and I’m not, really. He likes to start the day singing, tickling, playing, and talking. I like to start the day quietly and doing what needs to be done to get out the door, if we have somewhere to be.

You can probably already see the issue.

He changed his breakfast choice so he could copy his sister instead of making his own choice. He talked while he brushed his teeth while wearing in his school uniform shirt. He played with LEGOs instead of getting his shoes and socks. He skipped and ran and got distracted along the way.

And instead of seeing him as an active boy who loves life, I started nagging about hurrying up and not making messes and doing what I asked when I asked and being nice to his sister. Greg warned me my tone was condescending, but I kept on.

We mostly regrouped with a prayer and some hugs before Greg took the kids to the bus stop. And then I cried. Parenting is sometimes exhausting, especially when personalities clash and the momma feels a like she’s letting down her boy.

Greg ended up calling once he got to work and we talked. Well, I, of course, cried some more. We evaluated some of the current issues – most of which I had more to do with me and less to do with Ben. And we talked through some strategies.

I realized (or, rather, remembered ...) I default to demands that try to control the outcome when I’m frustrated. When I’m being honest, I realize that only ignites the situation – especially with my boy Ben.

I’d finished reading “Simply Tuesday: Small-Moment Living in a Fast-Moving World” by Emily Freeman the night before. I read the book quicker than I should have because the book was so in sync with what my mind and soul are experiencing but struggling to put into words. I marked paragraphs about child-like faith, everyday faith, smallness being great in the kingdom of God, and love.

Emily’s words made me fall in love with Tuesdays – the most ordinary day of the week – and benches. I’ve long loved having my people around the table, sharing real life together, so the bench analogy for relationships makes sense to me. Jesus didn’t go around building his father’s kingdom by constructing massive cities; he built relationships with people sitting on benches and wells, meeting them in their ordinary life.

{Read my whole review here. And enter to win your own copy!}

The same needs to happen in my house, where my family and I invite God to build his kingdom. Too often though, I try to dictate the reactions and outcomes. I try to force my kids – well, let’s be honest, the one who is less like me – into following my timetable and method for doing things. My way seems neater and more efficient. His way is certainly more fun.

I know God is teaching me here. I know these small moments matter for my family. {Tweet that.}

“As parents, we want so badly for things to turn out well, for the kids to get into a good school, make right choices, be safe and cared for. But this desire sometimes ends up polluting all the Tuesday moments, and we accidentally find ourselves building cities all over the laundry and the leftovers.”
{Emily Freeman in “Simply Tuesday,” page 133}

I pollute our house with demands and frustration over things that don’t really matter. When I do this, I rob the joy and peace from the kingdom God is building here.

I picked up my kids from the bus Friday afternoon with a refreshed perspective and grateful for the forgiveness that comes easily for children. My boy had a new Band-Aid on his leg, plans to play Super Mario Bros., and no worries for what was to come. And I headed into the weekend with an appreciation for the small things that really are the big things.
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Want more insights? "Peace in the Process: How Adoption Built My Faith & My Family" is available on Amazon. Like me on Facebook, follow me on Twitter, peek into my life on Instagram, follow 152 Insights at Bloglovin', or subscribe to receive "Insights in Your Inbox."

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

{Review & Giveaway} Simply Tuesday


I read “Simply Tuesday: Small-Moment Living in a Fast-Moving World” by Emily Freeman quicker than I should have because the book was so in sync with what my mind and soul are experiencing but struggling to put into words. I marked paragraphs about child-like faith, everyday faith, smallness being great in the kingdom of God, and love. I thought about purpose and where God has me.

Emily’s words made me fall in love with Tuesdays – the most ordinary day of the week – and benches. I’ve long loved having my people around the table, sharing real life together, so the bench analogy for relationships makes sense to me. Jesus didn’t go around building his father’s kingdom by constructing massive cities; he built relationships with people sitting on benches and wells, meeting them in their ordinary life.

The pages of “Simply Tuesday” are filled with questions I’m in the process of answering and stories of everyday faith that encourage well. I remembered faith is lived out in our actions, how we spend our time, and wherever we go. I saw scriptures with fresh perspective and longed for smallness that only makes sense in God’s kingdom.

“In my search for smallness, I’m finding the kingdom of God one inch above the ground. It doesn’t look like I thought it would or think it should, but there it is, hiding under the piles of everyday life. God is where he always said he would be – in the whisper, in the shadows, in the seed. … Most of life happens, not in the brightness of in the darkness, but in the medium light of a regular day. … What if, instead of thinking we have to choose between our ordinary life and an extraordinary life, we began to realize they’re the same thing?” {From pages 16-17}

As I was reading, I texted friends quotes that made me think of them. I referenced sections in conversations with others. I stopped to pray and mark sections I know I’ll revisit. I quoted it on Facebook. Consider those things the recommendation for this book because it’s one you’ll want to tell others about.

“Small things don’t always turn into big things. But all things begin small, especially in the kingdom of God. Acorns become oak trees. Embryos become president. Life starts with a breath. Love starts with a hello. Tuesday reminds me to accept the beauty of smallness, hiddenness, and the secret work of Christ in the deepest part of who I am. I want to let him come out of me in any way he wants, no matter how it may seem to me – whether that be in one big way or in a million little ways.” {From page 239}

ABOUT THE BOOK :: “Simply Tuesday” officially releases today, appropriately. Published by Revell. 256 pages.

Here’s the description from the back cover: Is your soul being held hostage by hustle? If you've grown weary of do more and dream bigger, small-moment living is just what you need. Real life happens in the small moments we find on the most ordinary day of the week. Tuesday holds secrets we can't see in a hurry – secrets not just for our schedules but for our souls. In “Simply Tuesday,” Emily P. Freeman shows you how to embrace today's work, find contentment in the now, replace competition with connection, and learn to breathe in a breathless world. It's time to release our obsession with building a life, and believe in the life Christ is building within us – one simple Tuesday at a time.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR :: Emily Freeman is a writer, speaker and listener. She writes for DaySpring’s (in)courage website and has traveled as a writer with Compassion International to raise awareness for the needs of children in poverty around the world.

She attended Columbia International University to study the Bible and the University of North Carolina at Greensboro where she earned a degree in educational interpreting for the deaf.

Emily lives with her husband, John, in North Carolina with their three children and their crazy dog, Finn. Emily extends a daily invitation on her blog for women to create space for their souls to breathe. Come join the community of grace dwellers at her website. You can also follow her on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram and search #itssimplytuesday on social media to see people capturing ordinary moments that matter.

GIVEAWAY :: Use the Rafflecopter widget below to enter the giveaway, which is open to U.S. and Canadian residents. A winner will be randomly chosen on Tuesday, Aug. 25.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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I received a free copy of “Simply Tuesday” from Icon Media Group in exchange for a review. The opinions here are my own as evident by all the many highlights and asterisks on the book’s pages. Icon Media Group is also providing an additional copy to whoever wins the giveaway.

Want more insights? "Peace in the Process: How Adoption Built My Faith & My Family" is available on Amazon. Like me on Facebook, follow me on Twitter, peek into my life on Instagram, follow 152 Insights at Bloglovin', or subscribe to receive "Insights in Your Inbox."

Monday, August 17, 2015

Dear Murray State freshmen


Dear Murray State freshmen –

I realize some of you grew up here. But I know many of you didn’t. So, welcome to Murray, Kentucky.

Throughout the years, this town has earned recognition as being a top retirement destination, a great place for kids, and one of the friendliest U.S. cities. Regardless, this town is different when the college students are here. The traffic is thicker, the restaurants have longer waits, and the stores are more crowded, but there also is a proud blue and gold spirit that runs deeply.

I came to Murray State 18 years ago. I say that and still wonder how half of my life – literally, another 18 years! – has been lived since I walked into my Clark College dorm room that I shared with a high school friend. Of course, that Clark College has been demolished. A newer one – which at this point is nearly a decade old – is down the street and another new dorm is planned for the vacant ground I once called home.

At that time, Murray seemed so very far from my Oldham County home. Four hours that separated my old life from my new life was exciting and terrifying. Now, the Louisville area is a weekend destination.

I lived in the dorms for four years – and loved it. I walked to classes, many of which were in Wilson Hall. Some of those days seem like yesterday, but, y’all so much has happened since. In recent days, as I’ve seen trucks loaded with your belongings turn toward campus, I’ve been reminiscing.

I came into college with a plan: Earn a print journalism degree and write for a big-city newspaper. I saw myself living in Louisville or maybe another Midwestern city. What I didn’t factor into the equation was falling in love – with my college boyfriend who is now my husband or more deeply with God.

I earned that degree, but, really, otherwise, my life looks nothing like I planned. I did move to Louisville for a year, and then to Lexington for a year after Greg and I married. But then we came back here a dozen year ago.

And you know what? I wouldn’t change my small-town life with my entrepreneur husband. I tell our family’s adoption story over and over because my kids – who they are and how God made us a family – is full of faith and surprise. In so many ways, I’m more adventurous now than I ever was on Murray State’s campus.

What I would change goes back to those college years. I would have slowed down and taken more pictures.

(I know, that’s easier now. I had a cell phone I only used to call my mom because the Louisville-based number made it cheaper than long distance on the landline. Yes, the landline. Come on, this was 1997, the same year I got my first email address, which I checked once a day from a computer lab on campus. And speaking of pictures, please notice I’m holding a Kodak disposable camera on my graduation day. That’s May 2001, y’all.)

I wish I could tell my 18-year-old self to relax and notice God more. I would have stressed less and realized education is important but so little of it actually comes from the classroom. Listen to and learn from those around you. Hold tightly to your people, but hold loosely to most everything else. Yes, work toward your degree. Make plans, but remember that God may have an even better life awaiting you.

Yes, these may be some of the best years of your life, but, honestly, it gets even better.

Love,
A 2001 Murray State grad who never thought she’d call this town home but does so happily
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I'm linking this post with the Soli Deo Gloria Sisterhood Gathering

Want more insights? "Peace in the Process: How Adoption Built My Faith & My Family" is available on Amazon. Like me on Facebook, follow me on Twitter, peek into my life on Instagram, follow 152 Insights at Bloglovin', or subscribe to receive "Insights in Your Inbox."