Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Fireman Ben

If there ever was a picture to captured my boy in one snapshot, this is it. He couldn't be happier than when he was dressed like a fireman and sat upon a dinosaur we borrowed from a friend for his upcoming birthday party.

"There a big 'ceratops in our house!" he said this morning when he walked into the room already decked out in his fireman apparel he'd been excited to put on for his costume party at preschool.

Another favorite part of this picture: My husband took it just before he filled Ben's bowl with Cinnamon Life while I was getting myself ready. About half our 10 years as a married couple have included kids, and I'm thankful he's slowly learning how to snap a picture for me. Truthfully, his phone camera takes better quality photos, so I'm glad he realized Ben the Fireman upon Koda the 'Ceratops was a moment worth capturing and then shared the photo with me via text from the neighboring room.

That's speaking my love language, Greg!

So, back to Ben the Fireman.

Not only did his preschool have a costume party, but it was also the day the local fire department brought its fire trucks to visit. I wondered why the director planned all of this in one day, but, really, why not just disrupt the one day multiple times? I get that. And it's a good way to explain that kids don't need to be afraid of firefighters who are dressed in their big masks and protective gear. "They're just putting on a costume like you're wearing today. Theirs protects them from the fire they're putting out."


And, hey, my fireman had props show up to go along with his costume.

On a day of supposed trick or treats, I'm thankful our life is full of treats. We're blessed by this preschool, especially the teachers both our kids have had invest in their lives while they've been in that sweet, joy-filled building. We live in a community where people care about each other. And along the way we've made friends who are better than a bag full of candy. 

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Tuesday, October 30, 2012

{Paper Coterie} A Group for You


I happened upon Paper Coterie last year with a coupon code. I'm so glad I did because I've been pleased with the photo projects I've ordered from the easy-to-use site. I've made a journal for myself and a couple others as gifts. I love carrying my journal {shown above} featuring some Instagram photos I've taken with my phone. I even added a paraphrase of a scripture I often tell myself. In the hands of a list-maker like me, it gets plenty of use, but it's held up well because there is a clear, plastic cover on the front and secure binding.

So even though the journal pages inside get scribbled on like this, the notebook has proven to be a great everyday companion as I jot down things I want to remember to do, ideas I want to spend more time thinking about and all the stops in a busy day so I don't forget anyone.

I've also ordered personalized growth charts and wall posters I love. And just this week I ordered some Christmas cards, thanks to an early-bird special, that I'm excited to receive. 

I had one question when I started using Paper Coterie: What's "coterie" mean? Maybe you're vocabulary is more extensive than mine, but in case you're also wondering ...

corterie {koh-tuh-ree} noun. 1. a group of people who associate closely. 2. an exclusive group; clique. 3. a group of prairie dogs occupying a communal burrow.

So, if you've never used Paper Coterie, I've got a deal for you! And, really, it has everything to do with documenting life and absolutely nothing to do with prairie dogs.

New customers can the code welcomejournal and get a free journal. That's an $18 value. {You will have to pay the $7 shipping, but this journal is totally worth that!}

DISCLOSURE: Compensated affiliate link used. But I seriously love these products. And that's really my journal that is never far from my side.

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Saturday, October 27, 2012

Sheepy Scotland

When you think of Scotland, what do you think of first?

I think of sheep.

I've been to New Zealand, where there are almost 10 times as many sheep as people. {Source.} I know sheep aren't limited to Scotland. But, still, I think about rolling pastures with some rocky cliffs. And sheep.

Then I think about plaid and castles and the fact my grandpa is half Scottish.

So when Cate's school needed volunteers to create booths for its annual Reformation Day celebration, I decided to have a pasture scene in a photo booth where the kids, who were decked out in cute Scottish costumes, could have their pictures taken. And then I decided to dress my boy up like a sheep too. You know, for continuity sake.

Funny thing is, Cate wore the same costume, which is borrowed from a neighbor, when she was 2. We had been to New Zealand a couple months before and I supposed she still had sheep on her mind.

Back to Reformation Day. A quick explanation, which I needed myself a couple months ago: In late October, some protestant churches and groups celebrate Reformation Day. At New Covenant Christian Academy, specifically, each year the school has celebrated a different Reformation leader. This year was John Knox, who was a reformer in Scotland in the 1500s.

Hence the sheep.

The event was full of creative ways to help teach the kids about church history while they had a fun break from the classroom. I'm thankful for this school and its hands-on learning that is built on a biblical foundation. 

Now on the photo booth. I used fabric I found at Wal-mart as my grassy backdrop, which was attached to a wooden frame a friend built me. I converted a ride-on toy zebra into a sheep, borrowed some stuffed sheep from my girl's stuffed animal collection, borrowed some rocks from a friend's fire pit and bought a hay bale.It worked out well ...

Now a few more snapshots of the event ...

A bagpiper set the mood at the beginning of the day.

There were different shops the kids visited. This is the leather shop.

What sheep wields a sword? My boy, of course!

Baaa ...
So in honor of my kids, who have been telling some really terrible jokes ...

What did one sheep say to the other sheep?

"After ewe ..."


What is a sheep's favorite newspaper?

The Wool Street Journal.

Oh. I can't help it. Baaahaha! 

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Friday, October 26, 2012

Better than I expected

We watched "What to Expect When You're Expecting" this week. My short review: I thought it was laugh-out-loud hilarious. And oh-so true. Starting a family, as with so many other things in life, is never exactly what you expect.

Sometimes it {whatever it is ...} is even better. 

Like our story: We tried for a couple years to become pregnant. There were various factors and we ended up turning our attention to adoption. We adopted twice and are open to adopting again. It's probably the greatest example of how not getting what we expected turned into the greatest blessing.

We have had friends who have miscarried, waited longer than seemed necessary to finally hold that baby, been surprised with pregnancy, and adopted. These stories make our families who we are.

And like this movie. So worth watching, especially after a packed day of balancing productivity, mothering, transporting people, and general living when there are still six loads of laundry to fold.

Have you seen the movie? If so, do you remember Jordan? He's the sword- and stick-welding boy who gets stuck in a soccer net, finds a dead cat and falls down concrete stairs while his daddy walks as part of a daddies group. He made me laugh more than anyone in the whole movie because he's just like Ben.

If you haven't seen the movie, or even if you have and just want a good laugh, watch the movie trailer. You'll see Jordan. Think of Ben.

And maybe you'll catch a glimpse of why I think being a boy mom is hard. But also why I want to remember.

Oh, you want more glimpses, here you go.

He's all boy. He's funny and animated. He keeps me on my toes as he likes to climb with his. And he likes to carry sticks, even when he thinks putting them in the waistband of his sweatpants is a good solution to not having pockets.

You never know when the unexpected will come your way. So be ready, you know, as much as you can. And hopefully you'll laugh along the way.

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Thursday, October 25, 2012

Being a boy mom is hard.

I'm trying to be a good boy mom. But, man, it's hard. 

I don't like when he growls at people as if that's how we communicate. And then there is the constant noise. And movement.

He hasn't had a haircut in months. Three months. Not even a trim, except perhaps the one I think he gave himself in the front. Yes, I think. I'm not even sure that happened. But it seemed to have happened, despite the lack of evidence.

At least he's cute with his wild hair. See that picture above? Yeah, I took that yesterday morning not long before I walked him into preschool, where yesterday was Picture Day. I tried, once, to brush his hair down. It popped right back up, thanks to him falling asleep on wet hair. At least it was clean.

Of course, he busted his lip the night before Picture Day too. I don't really know how. He didn't cry. He told me some random story about my friend's clown fish as I wiped the blood. And then he went back to playing.

He plays hard. He likes to be outside. And he likes to take off his shoes and socks once he's there. I wonder how long into the winter he'll try to do that. Here's the thing, dirt washes off. So does most paint and marker marks. And ketchup. And yogurt. I can sweep up the cornbread that crumbles on the floor around his place at the dinner table. I've learned rice is easier to sweep up after it sits there awhile and hardens.

I'm a good boy mom sometimes. The dirt doesn't bother me. And I sent him to school on Picture Day with wild hair, a busted lip and clean clothes. I'm assuming the photo will capture him best this way anyway. I speak his love language of tickling sometimes. I let him climb in the washer and dryer when he insists on helping me with laundry.

All boy. Messy. Clumsy. Yet charming.

But too often I snap words at him too quickly because he's torn another page of another book or hit someone with a stick. I expect him to want some quiet like I crave, especially in the afternoons. I don't understand how a boy who doesn't shed a tear when he walks into the wall or face plants into concrete, cries when he's asked to clean up the Legos or turn off the movie.

I've been a boy mom for 2 years, 11 months and a couple of days. Each day the territory becomes more familiar. But I'm not sure it'll ever be easy, which is why I need more grace. One growl at a time.

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Wednesday, October 24, 2012

I want to remember ...

A misspelling on my 3rd birthday cake, although the E is dotted.

My husband spouts out stories from his early childhood like they're memories from yesterday. I remember thinking the boys' bathroom was a terrible tornado shelter for our class. Even as a first-grader I knew kneeling on such a floor was DIS-GUST-ING. I remember {I think that same year ...} coming out of the hospital where I had ear tubes put in so I could hear better and thinking the world was alarmingly loud. I have other random early childhood memories, but not near the quantity of my husband, who retains so much from his Little League games, family vacations, playing outside with his brothers, and books he read.

My mom doesn't even remember why my name is spelled wrong on my third birthday cake. Perhaps it was such moments early on that engrained in me that people like their names spelled correctly. Such an awareness served me well in my before-kids-life as a newspaper reporter.

Now I have a mini me who corrects people when they spell her with a K. "It's C-A-T-E," she says. But, really, I hear myself: "It's Kristin with an I-N. K-R-I-S-T-I-N." {I know I've talked about my name before. Well, more than once.}

I don't know about my 4th birthday, but my name was misspelled again on my 5th birthday cake. Apparently even in 1984, misspellings earned looks of disgust from me. That's a different disgust than kneeling on the boys' bathroom floor during the next year of my life. But, still, clearly I wasn't pleased.

My mom doesn't remember the misspellings. And I don't either. Today, 28 years later, these two pictures make me laugh.

And they make me want to remember all the details of this season, when I have a 5-year-old who wants her name spelled correctly and isn't too shy to tell them and a boy who is going to be 3 in a month from yesterday and make me laugh, melt and tighten my fist all in one breath.

I want to remember. 

I want to remember how Ben sucks on his tongue and rubs his fingers along the silky binding of his blanket, more affectionately called "nigh-night."

I want to remember the way Cate arranges her pillows all around her as she settles into the top bunk.

I want to remember how Ben says "lou" instead of "you." It's especially sweet when part of "I love lou."

I want to remember how bad Cate's knock-knock jokes are and how Ben's are even worse.

I want to remember how they'll sing along to Slugs & Bugs, Go Fish, praise songs, Sugarland's "Stuck Like Glue," and Rain for Roots as we drive along in the mini van.

I want to remember how they think watching Diego, Land Before Time or Wonder Pets is a treat.

I want to remember how Cate is an excellent snuggler in the morning but Ben is antsy and ready to get on with his day.

I want to remember how Ben always starts his dinnertime and bedtime prayers with, "Thank you Daddy come home. Mommy come home. Cate come home."

I want to remember how terrible Ben is with colors.

I want to remember how Cate carries Berenstain Bear books with her and copies words from them into her notebook.

I want to remember the peace that comes at bedtime.

I want to remember the joy that comes at moments throughout the day.

I want to remember the stress that is really so short lived and not worth it.

I want to remember.

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Tuesday, October 23, 2012

{7 Things} I don't do

Apparently sitting in a sink didn't make my
Things I Don't Do list when I was 14 months old.

I happened upon a new-to-me blog last week and read "Things I Don't Do" while browsing The Diaper Diaries. So here is my own list of things I just don't do, even though plenty of people do. It's quite freeing to create the opposite of a to-do list.

1. Pinterest.
I created an account once, about 11 months ago. I found a fabulous ornament wreath idea that I ended up making, but then I only got back on Pinterest to delete my account several months later. For me, I don't need another thing to suck my time or give me more ideas that clog my mind from focusing on what's in front of me. I realize I'm pretty much the only stay-at-home mom who likes crafts anywhere who doesn't do Pinterest, but I'm OK with that. And I'm OK with my friends who are creative geniuses and feel at home there.

2. Garden.
I wish I had onions and squash and garlic and banana peppers and potatoes growing in my back yard. But I don't. Maybe one day I will. But I don't need another responsibility right now. 

3. Iron.
Seriously. We've lived in our current house for three years, and I haven't once opened the ironing board. Truthfully, I'm not even sure we have one. My husband steams his own work shirts, well, the ones that aren't wrinkle resistant. 

4. Drink coffee, tea or beer.
Yuck. Yuck. Yuck. Really, I don't really like hot drinks of any kind. I can tolerate hot chocolate on a really cold day.  I've lived my whole life in Kentucky, which has plenty of sweet tea. But I think it's gross. I think unsweetened tea is gross too. And, well, beer is gross too. I do really like Diet Dr Pepper though.

5. Bake. 
Unless it comes from a box, and even those boxed desserts are limited to Ghiradelli brownies and Betty Crooker brookies. 

6. Mow the lawn.
I grew up with a dad and brother who mowed our yard. My mom even occasionally did. My sister may have, but I don't really remember her doing so. Then I lived on campus in a dorm for four years. Then I spent about another year in a Louisville apartment. And then I got married and we spent our first year in a Lexington apartment. When we moved into a house in 2003, my husband mowed, even though it's not his favorite chore. And, well, now the lawn care company my husband started mows our yard along with many others. 

7. Miss my kids' newborn days.
It's true. I longed to have a family. I cried many tears over not being able to get pregnant. God grew my faith during our first adoption process more than any other single season of my life. But I'm not the kind of mom who cries at first birthday parties or when my baby takes her/his first steps. There's plenty of bittersweet moments {like when my boy said, "I love you," instead of his typical "I love lou" today and I immediately texted my husband to inform him ...}, but getting up in the middle night to feed a baby isn't once of those for me. Either is the packing however many bottles are necessary for however long whatever given outing will be. I like walking and talking and drinking from a sippy cup phases. And, hello, being able to read

What about you? What relatively normal things aren't for you

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Monday, October 15, 2012

She's a reader and writer!

Cate, 5, was excited to read these books BY HERSELF last night.

The first-grade boy we carpool with wasn't all that cheerful about going back to school this morning after five days off, thanks to Fall Break. When Cate, my kindergartener, heard her friend wasn't thrilled about being back in his school routine, I hear "I am excited to go to school!" from the back seat of the mini van.

Yep. That's my girl.

Admittedly, she has dad who remembers tons of trivial facts and excelled on the quick recall team while playing various sports and a mom who has forever listed reading and writing as hobbies. We'll do our best to pass along our nerdy tendencies. Still, I was a little slow going this morning when my alarm went off at 6:30 a.m. It's not that I slept in much later the past week, but something about being awoken from a solid sleep and having to get moving wasn't exactly what I wanted this morning.

Her class started Pizza Hut's Book-It program this month, so she's all about recording reading time each day. Thing is, she'd be all about reading without that chart. For this momma who grew up to a be a writer, I'm thrilled my girl likes books, but the best part is this: She can read some of them now. All. By. Herself.

I'm not the kind of mom who pushed her to read, but I am the kind of mom who is rejoicing that I've already heard my daughter tell her little brother she'd like to read him a book.

Granted, she's just started reading, but she's excited to read and wants to learn more words. She keeps a notebook handy {I'm telling you, this thrills me and the news reporter tendencies that will never leave me!} and often copies words out of books. She says she's writing stories. And she is. There are so many stories out there worth retelling. It's common for her to ask me while we're driving along how to spell certain words. She's recognizing words on signs. And this weekend she handed me a note on a small, pink Post-It that said, "I love you Mommy and Daddy."

I'm thinking the best is yet to come. Soon she'll be reading more stories and writing her own. Until then, she'll just ride to school with a notebook in her lap, some sort of writing utensil in her hand, and excitement to be going to school in her heart.

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Sunday, October 14, 2012

This Week's End

I'm not sure how we fit everything we did into our weekend, but I'm glad we did because it was full of fun times.

4:45 p.m. Friday
After four mornings of Marketplace 29 A.D. with 136 kids and volunteers from 30 churches {seriously!}, we had a family night to give parents and siblings a chance to experience some of the marketplace themselves and hear more about what their kids had been doing this week. It was officially from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m., but I was there from 4:45 to 8:15 p.m.

9 p.m.
After we finished wrapping up an encouraging, powerful week in a make-shift first-century marketplace, Greg and I went to Racer Madness while the babysitter did home and watched TV while our kids slept. I'm finally in baseball mode here at the end of that season {more on that in a minute ...}, but I still haven't gotten over Murray State's last basketball season so I'm happy for another college basketball season to begin. Granted, no team will probably ever compare to the 2011-12 Racers in our hearts.

We saw the guys play with the returning players and were entertained with 3-point shooting and dunk contests. Isaiah Canaan {not surprisingly} won the 3-point shooting contest after initially tying Stacy Wilson, who was impressive. And we won free tickets because of it! Before the contest, the players randomly drew a section number and whoever won, each person in that player's section received a voucher for two free tickets to the Nov. 24 game against Old Dominion. So, from Section 108, thanks for your precise shooting, Isaiah!

THIS is Racer basketball: 38 conference regular-season and tournament championships. 15 NCAA appearances. 25 consecutive winning seasons {tied for fourth in the nation}. And so it begins again ...

11:24 p.m.
Despite walking in the house ready for bed, I got caught up in the end of Game 5 between the Cardinals and Nationals. If you didn't give up on the Cards and go to sleep, you understand. With one out remaining in the win-to-advance game, the Cards managed to finish their comeback, first tying the game and then scoring what managed to be two winning runs.

After some celebratory texting with friends, I went to bed around midnight.

8:45 a.m. Saturday
My college friend Laura, her husband and their three boys -- 3-year-old Atticus and 1-year-old twins, Sawyer and Townes -- arrived for the day of MSU Homecoming festivities.

9:30 a.m. 
My favorite of this town's many parades begins. And, as always, it's entertaining ...

I'm telling you, if you are raised in this small town of ours, you are an expert parade-watcher by age 5, if not earlier. It's not even surprisingly if you've walked {or been pushed!} in a parade before you're 2. There are parades for Fourth of July, Homecoming, Veteran's Day and Christmas. All that candy collecting is serious business ... 

11 a.m.
With our friends, we ate lunch at Los Portales. There was much conversation, laughter, salsa and cheese dip.

12:20 p.m.
Cate had a soccer game. Our friends' kids napped.

3 p.m. 
We walked in right as the football game between Murray State and UT-Martin was starting. It was an exciting game that didn't involve much defense on the part of either team. The Racers fell behind, but they had a chance toward the end. Unfortunately, it wasn't enough: 66-59 Skyhawks.

6:30 p.m. 
After meeting back up with our friends and leaving our combined five kids 5 and younger with my generous mother-in-law, the four of us adults headed to Murray Christian Fellowship's alumni party. {Just for the record, the two youngest were already down for the night ...} It's a tradition of catching up, remembering, laughing and eating in a way that takes us back to our days in this campus ministry that was an essential community in so many of our lives.

10:45 p.m.
Home. Bed. Ah ...

So. What did YOU do this weekend?

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Friday, October 12, 2012

Stress & Peace

I yelled across the house. Again.

I repeated harshly what I expected my kids to do. Or not to do. Yet again.

Somebody let me down by not doing what they said they were going to do.

I let myself down by forgetting.

I hurried the kids out the door because I hate to be late.

I snapped at my husband two minutes after he'd walked in from work. Again.

I reacted emotionally when someone's standards weren't mine.

Projects replaced people. Even the people I love most.

I wanted him to read my mind.

I let stress and the desire for perfection dictate my reactions and decisions, driving an immovable wedge between who I want to be and how I respond. I want to serve my community, starting with my family and expanding outward to my friends, my church, my town. And so I do. But too often I don't do it with pure joy.

I see my son who doesn't like to be still, just sit in a swing. He lets me push him most of the time. Sometimes he tries to pump his legs. Either way, he'll swing for longer than he'll do most anything else. This continues to surprise me because this stillness in the swing is unlike anything else in him. I realize I need that same kind of stillness in my heart, even though it's not the natural me. 

Instead, I too often let stress steal my joy. I let perfection make me anxious. 

And then I remember ...

"Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus." --Philippians 4:4-7

That goes against everything naturally in me. It goes against my perfectionism. It goes against my desire to tend to the details. It goes against me thinking I know what's best. In "Crazy Love," Francis Chan was right. It's perplexing. But it's straight from God.

"But then there’s that perplexing command: 'Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!' (Phil. 4:4). You’ll notice that it doesn’t end with '... unless you’re doing something extremely important.' No, it’s a command for all of us, and it follows with the charge, 'Do not be anxious about anything' (v. 6). That came as a pretty staggering realization. But what I realized next was even more staggering. When I am consumed by my problems -- stressed out about my life, my family, and my job -- I actually convey the belief that I think the circumstances are more important than God’s command to always rejoice. In other words, that I have a 'right' to disobey God because of the magnitude of my responsibilities."

I say I trust God. And then I steal back control, trying to make it -- whatever it is today -- work my way. I say I believe God's promises. And then I react emotionally, not waiting or listening long enough to consult him. I say I'm sorry. And the I do it again.

After a morning of little fires I mostly created myself, I started trying to put them out with my emotions. Logic and truth were thrown out the window. I called my husband to vent but as soon as I hung up the phone I realized he'd helped turn my frustrated mind to a perspective that can only come from God.

And guess what. Yep. My day took a turn for the better. My kids were easier to be around. I didn't want to verbally chew out someone who disappointed me. I apologized. I channeled the truths seeping out of my heart into action that would better serve people. I experienced the peace that transcends all understanding right there in my mini van. And with my kids in the booth at Taco John's. And in the grocery store with my kids.

It's quiet now after a stressful morning. Literally, the kids are resting, perhaps even sleeping. And my heart is resting in the presence of God. I wondered this morning {even aloud to a friend} when I'll learn that stress just creates conflict in my soul and that conflict just overflows into other people's days. Who knows when I'll learn, but I do know how I'll learn: Rejoice in the Lord always. ... in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. I'll say it again. Over and over. Like the constant {yet still!} motion of my boy swinging. Because I do believe in the peace that follows. And, you never know, I may just surprise someone, even myself.

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Wednesday, October 10, 2012

'You are the Messiah'

I wrote most of this during church on Sunday as my mind was absorbing thoughts from the sermon, which has stuck with me as I've certainly seen Jesus in Marketplace 29 A.D. this week ...

Jesus didn't want a welcoming parade or a marketing campaign to gain supporters.

That's so different from important people in our society.

Politicians hire staff to maintain their images and market themselves. They collect money and secure votes. They ask you to put signs in your yard and declare them best for their jobs. And usually communities know they're coming.

Musicians need people in the audience who have bought tickets to see them performs. Same goes for athletes. To get people there, bands and teams have people who focus on promoting them, convincing us that spending our money and time on this entertainment is a worthy investment.

Judges walk in the courtroom, prompting everyone to stand, and then rule on the imperfections of ordinary people and sometimes important people.

Even my 2-year-old son announces my arrival when I walk through the door of his preschool classroom.

But ...

Jesus doesn't require any of that.

Jesus and his disciples went on to the villages around Caesarea Philippi. On the way he asked them, “Who do people say I am?”

They replied, “Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, one of the prophets.”

“But what about you?” he asked. “Who do you say I am?” 

Peter answered, “You are the Messiah.”

Jesus warned them not to tell anyone about him.
--Mark 8:27-30

Jesus doesn't hire people to perfect and maintain his image. He doesn't charge admission or announce his arrival. He doesn't drive a large, dark vehicle with tinted windows.

The son of God comes and goes in the way and the time he knows is perfect to do his Father's work. He came as a baby and 33 years later died a brutal death. And he manages to work his way into my life today.

Sometimes he nudges us to proclaim him with our words. Sometimes he chooses other methods. But he always offers eternal life for those who believe in him, love him, and let him into their lives. He gives hope for today to those who ask. He calls us to glorify him with every moment of our lives.

As Jesus changes me, I pray those around me, especially my kids, are changed too. He doesn't want hoopla. He just wants us and our ordinary lives. He wants us to love him with all our heart and soul and mind. And chances are he'll use us along the way to make himself known.

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Tuesday, October 9, 2012

In the Marketplace

I've alluded to my busyness. And this here is a {small} look into what I've been busy doing. The second annual Marketplace 29 A.D. is underway this week. {You can read about last year.} Registration and publicity is my area in what is an event that has been supported in some way or another by more than 30 local churches.

Isn't that amazing?

Thirty churches -- Pentecostal, non-denominational, Baptist, Lutheran, Catholic, Church of Christ, Methodist -- have come together.

Number don't always impress me. I'm more of a story person. But these numbers speak to the story that God is writing here in Murray, Ky. We have 136 kids ages 5 to 12 years old {with a few 4-year-old kids sprinkled in so their moms could volunteer} from these 30 churches {with a few more well represented than the others}. Of the participants, 61 kids are homeschooled, 59 go to the two public school districts that are on fall break this week {and those split evenly at 31 and 28 from each of the two districts}, and nine go to the small, private Christian school {where there are 16 kids, including my daughter, who would be the right age to come}.

Part of the marketplace ...

What is Marketplace 29 A.D., you ask? Well, it's an elaborate vacation Bible school that involves a complete transformation of a downtown alley into a first-century marketplace. There are marketplace shops lining the narrow street and tents for each of the 13 tribes. {Our goal was 14 tribes -- the original 12 tribes of Israel plus the two half tribes that came later. Maybe next year!} There's a real blacksmith. 

Brick making

During the four mornings, the kids go with their tribe leaders to marketplace shops where they learn trades, synagogue school where this week they're learning about the Jewish feasts, music, dance, and storytelling. Tribes wear matching headbands and learn about Jewish family customs.

My daughter spied me while at synagogue school!

And ultimately, they learn about what Jesus' life would have been like when he was a child like them, when he performed miracles and raised the dead to life and spoke of how to come to his father, and when he paid the ultimate sacrifice so we could know grace and new life. That's why 30 churches come together. Our community is better off because of it and we pray these kids are never the same. Many of us sense this is only the beginning of something bigger God is doing right here in our small town. And we know the transformation that comes when you give yourself -- and your family -- to community.

I'm uploading pictures each day to a public album on Facebook if you want to see more of the marketplace. Want more? Subscribe to get "Insights" in your inbox. Or follow me on Twitter.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Time out for a road trip

In the midst of a busy weekend that followed a busy week, our family of four headed on a short road trip to Clarksville, Tenn., where Murray State was playing football on Saturday night. It's just more than an hour from our house and it's home to Blackhorse Brewery, an all-time favorite restaurant of mine. Plus, the timing made it a good escape before another busy-with-good-things week.

So, we ate a delicious dinner, waited out the sprinkling rain, realized we needed cash to buy game tickets, returned with our layers and blankets to watch the game. The Murray State-Austin Peay rivalry in football isn't nearly as hyped as basketball, but it was still a fun night. And, well, there was beer cheese and delicious pizza unfortunately named Rocky Top beforehand. 

And, hey, as always, the kids were entertaining ... 

Cate quickly found a friend of hers and spent the majority of the game playing with some girls. When I saw her friend's mom walk back from the concession stand with hot chocolate, I was certain Cate would be requesting some soon after. So as soon as she started up the steps toward us, I nudged Greg and said, "Here she comes to ask for hot chocolate." And I was ready to get her some. But she didn't actually ask. Instead she said, "Mom, can I get my nails painted?"

Yes, at a football game. A friend of her friend had nail polish.

For the record, she got hot chocolate later and proceeded to accidentally spill some of it. But she had lovely nails.

Ben just wanted some popcorn. Until he heard my crinkle of the package of peanut M&Ms I had in my sweatshirt pocket. Then he needed a few of those too.

The rain held off most of the game, but I'm pretty sure Ben was happy when the drops started falling because that meant he got to hold the umbrella. When he wasn't using it as a weapon or bouncing it to the beat of the opposing marching band, he really was pretty good with it.

Oh, and, yes, the Racers won 52-14. And clearly we had an entertaining time.

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Friday, October 5, 2012

Capturing community

Community is when you go out of town with your husband and dear friends and you get pictures of your kids texted and emailed from other people who love them. 

While we were in St. Louis last weekend, my mother-in-law stayed at our house with the kids. They had much fun and even got to stay up late Saturday night to watch fireworks after the Murray State football game. You can tell she enjoyed her time with them, sending me a photo of her and Ben together. Our friends were using tickets next to theirs and Courtney texted me an adorable cell phone photo of Cate loving the fireworks and Ben hanging out with Andy. I thought about how a couple years ago, Cate wanted to watch fireworks from inside, where it was quicker and less scary.

That sweet picture made me realize how much can change in a couple of years and getting both photos that night made me know how blessed I am to have my life wrapped up in the arms of this community.

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Thursday, October 4, 2012

{St. Louis} That's a winner!

We have these good friends who have been in our lives for 14 years. Much can happen in 14 years, and I'm so thankful our friendships have endured and evolved while life was happening. I'm grateful we share college experiences yet became even closer after college.

In five of the more recent of those years, we've had five kids in five years between us. Luke was born in April 2006, Cate in May 2007, Norah in April 2008, Ben in November 2009, and Caroline in August 2010. And let me tell you, those kids love each other with a love that's different from other friends and they argue like only siblings usually do.

And, seriously, I wouldn't have it any other way because these friendships -- both among the adults and the kids -- are some of the sweetest parts of our life. We know each other's dreams, weaknesses, schedules and plans. We hope and pray and dream and play games and eat together. We are in this life together.

Each couple in this group that has become nine celebrated 10 years of marriage this year. We have our own stories, but, thankfully, our stories include each other. So once the weather cooled off and my husband's business slowed down {ever so slightly ...}, we left the five kids in five years at home with their respective grandparents and spent two nights in a hotel, two and half days eating and talking and shopping and watching baseball and playing Settlers of Catan and Ticket to Ride and reminiscing and making new memories.

And, really, I'm so very glad we did.

They were all leery of my recommendation to go to a farmer's market on Saturday morning, but they will all three tell you they loved it. {And, really, it wasn't even my recommendation. It came online from someone who used to live in St. Louis.}

I loved the colors and the organization.

Seriously, where else do you eat these delicious mini doughnuts {I can't bring myself to spell d-o-n-u-t-s ...}

... and then follow with a meat kabob?

And, honestly, I didn't know why Greg was so excited about the doughnuts. But then I ate some, like at least half of the dozen he bought, and I contemplated getting more. But, of course, there were other meals to be had and I had to save myself ...

Yep. Authentic Italian. Totally worth saving myself for that seafood ravioli in a white cream sauce.

We took photos while we waited for brunch at The Boathouse. You know, waiting at a restaurant is totally different when there aren't antsy kids around. And, hey, let me tell you, this meal was totally worth the wait. {Truthfully, to The Boathouse's defense, we only had to wait before the restaurant didn't hope until 10 a.m. on Sunday, and we didn't do that much research. It was a go-with-flow weekend with little research. Although I'm certainly glad I asked a stranger online what she'd recommend doing. Yep, Kelli at recommended this one too!}

Hello, banana cream cheese stuffed French toast. So, so delicious.

We shopped and played games, but, really, that's so all that picture worthy. And we snacked some more. Then we wrapped up the weekend with a Cardinals baseball game. It was perfect weather to be outside and the game itself was entertaining.

That's a winner indeed. And it helped secure the wild card spot. Really, the whole weekend was a winner. {And, hey, my kids loved having Gran-Gran to themselves for the weekend.}

I'm hoping this kind of weekend happens again. Until then, we'll be found playing games and eating dinner while our kids love and argue in the same breath with people they've known their whole little lives. We'll be meeting at the park and talking before church starts. We'll be texting. We'll be living our lives, thankful for all the ways they intersect like they have and continue to do.

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Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Worth Repeating Wednesday {Wild Cards}

I watched this video from my bleacher seat in the fifth row behind the center fielder at Busch Stadium on Sunday. Then, in the thick of the wild card race, the celebration sprinkled hope throughout the stadium of Cardinals fans.

It's just normal people celebrating, but it gives me chills. And, seriously, isn't that grandma the cutest thing dancing around in her rally squirrel T-shirt?

Now that the St. Louis Cardinals have clinched the wild card spot, which gives them a postseason play-in game on Friday against the Atlanta Braves, this video makes me think perhaps the Wild Cards are at it again. Just maybe the pieces are coming together just in time.

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Monday, October 1, 2012

{Giveaway} 152 insights to my soul

From "You've Got Mail" by

I started blogging in 2001 after some nudging from a friend who must have known it would be good for me. I had no idea I'd stick with it this long or how this place would become a place for me to document so many seasons of life.

But here I am. Still writing. This is good for my soul. And it calms my fear that I'll forget the details I want to remember. I believe I have stories to tell. And people seem to want to read them.

I've moved 152 Insights to My Soul to, although Blogger should redirect people from the old address. Even so, you may want to update your bookmarks or feed in Google Reader. What? You don't use Google Reader? You totally should. And save there.

Be sure to come back here after you do that because I have a gift for one reader.

You can watch the clip above if you don't know which movie references "152 insights to my soul ..." I don't even really remember why that line jumped into my mind when I was naming my blog. But I still like the title all these years later. And, hey, the movie is great too, even talks about writing.

Leave a comment telling me why you named your blog whatever you chose {if you have a blog} or what you'd name a blog {if you had one} for a chance to win your own DVD copy of "You've Got Mail."

For extra entries ...
 A winner, who must live in the United States, will be chosen randomly on Monday, Oct. 8.  

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