A Guide to Living Scared

I finished filling out five visa applications online for our trip to Kenya this November and checked it off my list.  We don’t normally travel overseas during the school year with our kids, but we have our first graduation of two residents at Mercy House, an important board meeting, a certificate ceremony for these new entrepreneurs and a wedding we wouldn’t miss for anything–all in the same week.

The papers were on the kitchen counter, awaiting a money order and updated passport photos when I heard about the terror attack in Nairobi. I quickly emailed Maureen to check on her and her family. I knew the attack wasn’t too close to the organization’s residential home, but I had visited Nairobi’s best mall in April to troubleshoot the phone I’d brought for Maureen.

I watched the news on my phone, read tweets, followed the events very closely, those visa applications burning a hot hole in my heart as fear began to set in. I’m afraid of a lot of things. My husband, who knows me so well, told me to stop after I’d read what this could mean longterm for Kenya.

He said, “Have you ever wanted to go to NYC?” He knew my answer before he asked. It’s on my list.

“3000 people died in terrorist attacks, Kristen. Terror is everywhere. It’s here, too,” he said.

As the hostage situation worsened, we couldn’t keep the news from our kids any longer and they asked a lot of questions. It was one of those surreal conversations you don’t want to have as a parent. There are a lot of things that scare me: my teenager’s room, traveling overseas by myself and raising my kids in an age where terrorists target innocent people.

We live in a world filled with death, violence, disease and terror and it is steadily getting worse.

It scares me.

But I will not let fear dictate what I do and I will not raise my children to be afraid of evil.

“You might think we are being reckless. I think we are in far greater danger of being safe in our modern Christianity. We do not bow at the alter of safety. This is what it means to follow Jesus, to cling to Him in the face of danger,” David Platt.

Because I’m much more afraid of letting fear determine how I live.

We will continue to do what Deut. 13:4 tells us “Serve only the Lord your God and fear him alone. Obey his commands, listen to his voice, and cling to him.” 

While our world talks about war, our government plans to shut down and terrorists hijack shopping malls, we live scared.

We believe God is greater than the evil in this world.

We believe God orders our steps and has a plan.

We believe God had predetermined when we will live and die.

We believe Jesus is coming back.

The visa applications are still on my counter because the risk of our government shutdown threatens to put our passports in limbo. But we won’t let that stop us from our yes.  We are living scared and that’s better than living safe.


Six in Internet Years Makes This Blog Older Than My Dog {Special Deal}

When I started this blog six years (!) ago, I was looking for community. I desperately wanted to discover that my everyday loud, crazy life was normal.

I wanted the comfort of knowing we weren’t the only accident-prone family who had a frequent shopper card at the ER.

I wanted to connect, to spill out my heart and most of all, I wanted to find you.

I didn’t know when I hit publish on that first post half a dozen years ago, that it would change my life. I didn’t know it would bring out the dormant writer in me and I would have never dreamed it would give me the opportunity to connect moms here with moms there.

I’m glad I didn’t know how beautiful or how scary life would be for this introverted momma.

And around this time of year, I like to pause and celebrate this space with you.

My little girl is six. She feels really big, but I’m old enough to see she’s still a baby. But my dog is also six and she’s starting to sleep a lot more and leak urine when she’s excited.  We all know six in dog years is really more like 42.

I’m *this close* to 42. Do you see where this is going?

Blog years are like dog years and so let’s just hope the rest of us don’t leak, okay?

So, dear ________ (insert your name here), thank you for reading. If you didn’t, this would be a diary and not a community.

To help us celebrate, Dayspring is offering this very special, very good deal on one of my very favorite pieces of art, Rejoice in Him – Sculpted Art Panel to my readers:

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FOR ONLY $6 each. It’s enough to make you get excited (resisting the urge to make another urine comment):

I love this (heavy) carved, beautifully painted wooden piece of art! The Rejoice wooden panel regularly $48 and you can get them for nearly 87% off (affiliate link included). These would make a fantastic gift for teachers, friends and family this upcoming holiday season.

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Plus, if you spend over $50 at Dayspring, you get FREE SHIPPING. If you purchased 8 of these, you could clear out your shopping list early! The coupon will be valid for two weeks- Monday, September 30-Monday, October 14 at midnight CST.  There is no limit on how many your readers can purchase. Here’s the coupon: WATFbirthday6

So,  happy 6 blog years to me and to you!

And thanks for being such a big part of my life.


Counter Culture: For When Your Kids Feel Different

I like to watch my 6th and 8th graders get off the bus and walk up the driveway from the dining room window. It’s their first year to ride the bus home from school and it has brought them closer in a way I didn’t expect, but constantly prayed for. I mean your little brother is annoying until he’s the only one you know in an unknown situation, ya know?

I hand them snacks and listen for the highs and lows of their days during the precious 30 minutes before I head out to pick up their little sister a few blocks away. It’s the small window of time where they want to talk about ALL THE THINGS. And if you have kids this age, you know how important it is to listen. Because junior high is a whole new world and so many of the things we’ve taught them and prepared them for are here.

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My oldest said one day last week, “We watched a Social Media Awareness video today,” and I could tell by the look on her face, she was waiting for me to respond. “Really? Tell me about it.”

And she did, little brother listening, munching on a granola bar, an apple in hand and eyeing a bag of chips. (This is normal, right? I’m looking at you moms of tween boys).

She told me that the teacher asked some questions before the video and had the students raise their hands, questions like:

Who has a Facebook account? Who is on Instagram? Who has a Twitter account?

And so on and so on…she named several social media platforms I had never even heard of.

By the time her teacher was done, my daughter said she looked around and nearly every hand was raised.

Hers were folded in her lap.

I cringed at her story. Because for this time in her young life, we’ve said no for her to social media. We have explained that it will have a time and place in her life, but now isn’t the time. We all have to decide when our kids are ready and deal with the filtering and follow-up of allowing these social media influences when we’re ready.

Our decision (and her decision to comply and not sneak around us) has separated her from some of her peers. This isn’t to say she’s the only one or that all social media in the hands of junior high kids is wrong. That’s not what this is about, it’s about choosing to raise your kids based on what you feel like is right for your family, even if it goes against cultural norms and as a result, makes them feel different.  We’ve made counter to cultural choices regarding modesty and not allowing the too short shorts and whatnot. We refuse to think it’s cute for our kids have boyfriends or girlfriends and well, they just don’t. We don’t allow our son to play Teen rated video games and we insist on not letting things interrupt family dinner time.  You get my point.

“Did you feel alone? Are you okay?” I asked dreading the answer. Because my kids are lovely and amazing but they both wanted smart phones yesterday.

Her answer surprised me. “Mom, I was so glad I didn’t have any of those social media accounts. The video talked about all the horrible, terrible things that can happen, like being lured into bad relationships, older adults seeking out kids, all the bad language and sexting and did you know people can take your images and do bad things with them? I just don’t think I’m ready for all that responsibility,” she confessed.

I’m not going to lie, I WANTED TO HUG HER PUBLIC SCHOOL FOR THEIR COURAGE.

[Sidenote: I know many of you homeschool or send your kids to Christian schools. I love that choice for your family. We send our kids to public school. We have had some of the most amazing, Godly teachers I've ever met. We evaluate each year in our constantly changing world and haven't ruled out any form of education, but for today, public school is the right answer for us.]

If I have learned anything in our quest to raise our children counter to our cultural that is all about instant gratification, growing up too quickly, objectifying our children sexually, THE LIST GOES ON, it’s this:

Raising our children to be different than the world, makes them different.

And when really all they want to do is blend in, they stand out. Teachers notice, as do other parents, but kids notice most. And if different is anything like it was when you were a kid, you know just how hard that can be. And it may not be opting out of social media that triggers it for your child, it might be not dropping your tween off at the mall to meet friends or not allowing your kids to see PG-13 movies…it might look different for every family. But when you decide to stand up against a cultural norm, there’s usually a few people in your life, community, even church, who will question your choice. Mainly because it makes them question their decision to go with the flow.

All the right-from-wrong teaching, character building, faith-instilling, inspirational parenting you’ve spent years living in your home is producing children who do not fit into the mold our society has deemed normal. And it leaves us with kids who sometimes feel left out, different and even alone. But this doesn’t mean we’ve failed them, it’s through this, their faith is being forged, their relationship with you, rocky days and all, is deepened and their dependency for a friend like Jesus is becoming clear.

Here’s the thing:  We live in a culture that has drifted further from truth and Biblical principals than ever before. Where the line was sort of fuzzy 20 years ago, it’s more defined now. There’s a line drawn right down the middle for our children and they are either trying to live for the world or trying to live for God. I believe this is the time where they begin to question which side of the line they want to be on.  And however you choose to raise your children, they will eventually have to choose a side.

It becomes vital that we stand with our children and help them build Christian community around them, inside of school and outside. This is often hard, prayerful work. We have literally prayed Christian friends into our kids lives, attended campus Bible clubs, driven to age-appropriate Bible studies, chased down mentors, stood around the flag pole with them, emailed teachers, fought this battle with them every step of the way.

Because my kids feel different. And that’s exactly how I’ve raised them to feel.

But that doesn’t mean they can’t live in beautiful, amazing, fulfilling community. They can by finding other kids who are standing up for what they believe is right. And that’s exactly what we’re trying to do. One by one..

Raising our children to be different is Biblical. It’s also refining for them and us when they stand apart or struggle to do so. But it’s crucial we stand with them when they succeed or fail, providing alternatives and support in their journey.

“It’s happening, honey,” I said to my daughter the other day who has longed for deeper friendships at her new school. “God is answering your prayer. He’s sending good friends into your life.”

Her face lit up. And it was almost like I could see her faith deepen right in front of me.


WFMW: Breakfast Burritos in Bulk

[You know how you lose track of days and forget to put up your weekly blog carnival because you think it's Thursday and Not Wednesday? Yeah, me neither. Here's my WFMW, better late than never]

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Our household alarm for 4 out of 5 of us goes off at 6 a.m (our youngest goes to school later, so we wisely let her sleep until 7:15).

After snoozing it a time or two, we are up and bustling at 6:15ish.

It’s early. I want my kids to have a healthy breakfast and I try. I really do, but sometimes we are rushing around like crazy people. Imagine that.

My sister told me they make breakfast burritos in bulk and freeze them. I visited Pinterest and found a dozen or more variations of this fabulous idea.

What you need:

a paper towel for each burrito (we cut a big stack in two)

a piece of foil for each burrito

20 or so tortillas

18 eggs

Grated cheese

Meat of choice: sausage or bacon

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Here’s how it works for us:

Scramble 18 eggs (I don’t add milk because I don’t want soggy burritos)

Prepare some kind of meat…we will try sausage, but for the first time, we used bacon.

Lay out 20 or so flour tortilla that you’ve microwaved for 15 seconds to make them pliable and scoop a large tablespoon or two of eggs, plus toppings or your choice.

Wrap burrito (fold in both sides) in paper towel and then foil.

Freeze.

To defrost:

Unwrap foil, leave on paper towel

We have a quick defrost feature on our microwave (takes about 2 minutes) or you can set them out in the fridge the night before. Once our burritos are defrosted, we heat them for about 20 seconds.

When you’re on the go, you can have a delicious breakfast ready in less than 3 minutes!

 

It works for us!


Your Grace Finds Me {Giveaway}

UPDATE:  Juli V., Amy B., and Teresa G. have been selected as the winners of this giveaway.

It was there in the 10th grade when I stood up for what was right.

It was there on the day when I had my first heartbreak in college.

It was there the day my best friend became my husband.

It was there when I spent years longing to become a mother.

It was there when I didn’t know what to do with a crying baby.

It was there when I was a lonely mom and a broken wife.

It was there when I dreamed a God-sized dream.

It was there through life and death, victory and pain: grace

Your grace finds me every step of the way.

I absolutely love Matt Redman’s new album: Your Grace Finds Me. It’s an anthem for me. God has been with me when others weren’t. His grace has been a faithful presence even when I haven’t been.

Matt Redman

His song Mercy is also a personal favorite on the new album. Listening to this beautiful worship CD is like a vehicle–It will drive you into the presence of God.

Today, I’m happy to give away 3 copies of the new album Your Grace Finds Me, which releases today.

 

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Click to read an update on the (in)Mercy Project and meet the faces behind Mercy House.