Monday, January 26, 2015

What's it been, like 24 Days?

The snow is falling on our street, but it's hard to tell if it is really sticking or if the coasting of white is just a layer of salt coating the asphalt. My older boys are sitting next to me, snacking on yogurt and nosily trying to figure out what I'm writing about them. It's so cold in here that I have to wear fingerless gloves to be able to work and not feel like my hands are going to freeze up.

It's been far too long...again. Mondays are supposed to be my night to write and instead they have been filling up with things like events, committee meetings, late days at the office for Evan (that means late days minding the young 'uns for me), but also the occasional spontaneous at-home movie night where we blow off homework and wearing real pants in favor of fluffy socks, soft blankets, popcorn, and Despicable Me 2.

Let you think things are too idyllic, I would draw your attention to the dried pizza sauce and pepperoni that I had to scrub off my sub-woofer earlier today. Things like this just happen around here, friends. Yesterday, I had a sit-down serious conversation with my five year old about why I'm really going to need him to quit digging around in his butt all the time. I swear, if I had a nickel for every time I've heard his brother exclaim, "Micah, your hands smell like poop!!" Gross.

The other thing that had me MIA was the time-suck that is experienced when I am engrossed in a good book. Sometimes I find a book that just grabs me and latches on so tight that it's almost like I'm having an affair with the story. I find myself sneaking around just to have some alone time with the pages, making up excuses, sometimes just flat-out lying. True confessions: at least five times during my reading of this book, I claimed to have to "go to the bathroom" and spent a solid 15 minutes in there....even though I really only had to pee.

Like I said.

But this book was worth it. No, I haven't seen the movie, but I can tell you that the print version of Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption had me absolutely riveted. The pages told such incredible tales of Louis Zamperini, the young man who went from track phenom to POW. There were many times that I had to stop and remind myself that the story I was reading was real an that these things really happened to this one man. It was like Forrest Gump on steroids. Highly recommend this one. Never have a read a story that better illustrates rejoicing in suffering than this one, outside the New Testament, that is.

This one gave us a scare this weekend.

He woke up at midnight Friday night throwing up. While I cleaned up the scene, Evan cleaned up the kid. I'm certain I got the raw end of that deal because this boy is a champion puker. As for who's brilliant idea it was to give Captain Yak the top bunk, I don't know. All I know is that in this situation, gravity is most definitely not your friend.

We relocated him to the couch and covered everything with towels before tucking him back in to get some more sleep. Unfortunately, nobody was going to get much sleep that night because that poor boy woke up every hour to hour and a half to vomit again. Even after I left for work the next morning, he kept it up. Eventually, Evan had to call me at work and have me come home to bring him to Urgent Care because we were starting to get really concerned about him becoming dehydrated. As you can see from the photo above, my baby was probably more tired that day than I've ever seen him. He was monitored for dehydration for a while, making sure that it wasn't necessary for us to go to the hospital to get him an IV. We dodged that bullet and he spent a couple hours in the Urgent Care exam room watching Men in Black 3 and sipping orange Gatorade. As I write this, he is slowly working on eating some yogurt which is the only food he has eaten all day apart from the single piece of toast he had for breakfast. Slowly he is coming back around and I'm certainly grateful.

Can we all just join in a collective prayer that nobody else in the house gets to share that stomach bug with him? Prolonged vomiting does not sound like something I have time for right now.

A few things I want to make sure I write about soon, so I'm writing them here so I have no excuse to blow them off:
  • The No Regrets Conference and how my job is going
  • Mornings and why I have a love/hate relationship with them
  • Everyone at the restaurant is dieting and I hate it.
  • Isaiah accepted Jesus as his Savior and then promptly forgot about it
  • My terrifying summer schedule that resembles some chart an intern would be dragging to an important board meeting without any clue whatsoever about what all the crazy colored lines and codes mean
  • Why I hate the Super Bowl this year, but I still feel obligated to watch it despite the physical pain it will cause me to experience
  • I'm on the launch team for a new book releasing in a couple weeks that I am really excited about. I need to tell you all about it and make you realize you need to buy it.
I think that about does it for today.  Isaiah says hello too.


Friday, January 2, 2015

Our Real New Year's Eve

If you're anything like me, you sometimes find yourself rolling your eyes as you scroll through Instagram and see beautifully poses photos of flower bouquets next to a fresh lipstick tube and sparkly stilettos. Maybe it's the barrage of selfies or perhaps it's the account that only shows her perfectly coiffed children as they read above grade level while they feed the homeless organic food they cooked themselves. Sometimes I make it a little game I play with myself where I look at one of those seemingly perfect photos and I try to invent the "real story" behind it.

That's probably why I enjoyed this piece so much - "What I Instagrammed Vs. What Was Really Happening, or My Entire Life is a Lie." A fashionista and Instagram-addict shares how all the seemingly idealistic photos she posts on Instagram are a total sham and she compares the message the perfect photo sends to what was actually happening in the moment she took the photo.

I had tears in my eyes I was laughing so hard.

Since I still had this little gem on the brain, I wanted to take a "real" photo of my New Year's Eve and tell the very real, very common story behind it. While many others were sharing their favorite moments of 2014, their goals for the coming year, or adorable selfies with liquid eyeliner, glitter nail polish and clutch handbags....I shared a different kind of selfie.

My husband was home from work. I was home from work. The kids were blissfully occupied in the bounce house we got them for Christmas that now lives in our basement so that when I get frustrated and holler, "Thats it! Go to the basement!" I don't have to worry about someone overhearing and thinking I have a dungeon down there or something.

My mind spirals off to weird places sometimes.
Where was I?

Right, so we had the day off and I looked around at the state of our living room following the removal of the Christmas tree and I thought I might barf. I am certainly NOT a clean freak, but my eyeball starts to twitch when I can't walk around barefoot in my own house without wondering if my Tetanus shot is up to date.

My hair was still a hot mess. I still had on my PJ pants. There were snot smears on the sleeve of my sweatshirt because I couldn't find the Kleenex box and Thomas had just experienced what can only be described as a "snot emergency." Definitely was not wearing a bra.

After sweeping ONLY THE LIVING ROOM, this is what resulted.

Not pictured are these items, which I had already extracted from the pile and either thrown away or returned to their rightful homes:
  • Minecraft sword
  • Boba Fett LEGO torso
  • Missing camel from the nativity set
  • Instructions for LEGO Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles set
  • One sock
  • A pool noodle that had been converted into a sword sheath using duck tape
  • A Batman motorcycle

I wish I could say this was more of an exception than the norm, but I'd be totally lying if I did. Remember that time I wrote about the 10 Simple Strategies for a Clean and Organized Home? Clearly, I am still an expert on the topic.  

After Evan mopped while I sat on the couch and played Trivia Crack, I felt much better about life. 



Thursday, January 1, 2015

See and Bear Witness - John 1

Do you have a favorite book? I've been asked this question many times and I always respond that is is akin to asking me if I have a favorite kid - there's no way I can choose, but certain ones are definitely more appealing at different times! Let's be honest. When one kid is quietly reading a book while the other two are waging a booger war by the patio door you just cleaned, it's pretty clear which kid is the favorite in that moment.

I would argue that the same concept can be applied to books of the Bible. Not the booger war part, because I'm pretty sure the armies of Israel would have been stomped out pretty quickly. I'm thinking of how different books of the Bible can really jump off the page in new ways and become our favorites in different seasons of life. The Spirit is really quite amazing this way, wouldn't you agree? Am I the only one out there who has jumped into a particular study or opened up to a certain book of the Bible at a seemingly random time only to find that the Word we find there is exactly what our soul needed to hear at that moment?

This is why I want to make time in the Word a priority in 2015. It is a living, breathing, dynamic conduit of God's truth that provides a lifeline to us.

As I mentioned previously, I am starting off this year studying the book of John along with She Reads Truth. We launched on New Year's Day with the first chapter, a familiar chapter that I've read many times before. That's why it was so exciting with something special jumped off the page at me and brought exactly the word I needed at the beginning of this new year.

I first noticed it here, in verses 14 and 15 (emphasis mine):

14 And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth. 15 (John bore witness about him, and cried out, “This was he of whom I said, ‘He who comes after me ranks before me, because he was before me.’”)

It popped off the page all over the place, this partnership of "seen" and "bear witness." They went together like peanut butter & jelly.

29 The next day he saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! 30 This is he of whom I said, ‘After me comes a man who ranks before me, because he was before me.’ 31 I myself did not know him, but for this purpose I came baptizing with water, that he might be revealed to Israel.” 32 And John bore witness: “I saw the Spirit descend from heaven like a dove, and it remained on him. 33 I myself did not know him, but he who sent me to baptize with water said to me, ‘He on whom you see the Spirit descend and remain, this is he who baptizes with the Holy Spirit.’ 34 And I have seen and have borne witness that this is the Son of God.

This section of the chapter really got me excited. The partnership of sight and witness is repeated, but that last verse is incredible and challenging. And I have seen and have borne witness that this is the Son of God.

Friends, I have seen that this is the Son of God. I have experienced his grace and know his truth. I have acknowledged Jesus by faith to be the true Son of God, the atoning sacrifice for my sin and my only hope for a life of freedom from sin and an eternity in the presence of the Father. I know this to be true. I have SEEN.

But do I bear witness?

Like I said, these two things are tightly linked in this chapter. Seeing and experiencing Jesus Christ should be immediately partnered with witnessing about him. If I really wanted to, I could lock myself in my little Christian bubble and never really have to bear witness to anyone who wouldn't already understand. There would be a lot of "Amens" and "that's such a God thing!" but would there be the potential to introduce someone to the Son of God for the very first time? Perhaps not. But here, in John 1, that's what John the Baptist is doing! He's basically set up shop by the river to bear witness about seeing Jesus - telling everyone he could!

Lately there have been several times where non-believers at my night job have asked me seemingly random questions about my faith out of the blue. Heck, on New Year's Eve I walked up to one of the computers to ring in an order only to be met with the loud inquiry, "Sarah! Do you believe in speaking in tongues? Is that a real thing?"

I completely forgot what my table needed, but I did engage in a conversation about this question and shared what I know from Scripture about this gift of the Spirit. Other issues have come up in the past at this job - the authenticity of the Bible, tithing, the second coming of Christ, among others. Every time a door opens for me to talk honestly about the truth of Jesus, I am both excited and intimidated. The stakes are so high - what if I get it wrong? What if I don't know enough about the Bible to be able to quote something correctly? What if I don't have enough evidence to back up a claim I am making? 

But when I look here in John, the man baptizing in the Jordon didn't worry about all that. He saw Jesus, recognized him and the Son of God, and bore witness. He told about what he had seen, what he had experienced, and then directed people to Jesus so that they too could see, experience, and then bear witness themselves.

Why should I think that God would ask more of me than he did of John? 

So there, in the first book of John on the first day of the new year, I received a word of assurance partnered with a clear directive: 

Bear witness to what you have seen. Let me do the rest. And when you miss the mark, my grace upon grace will be there to catch you. 

I'd love to have you join in on the John study or maybe the #365DaysofTruth with me over at She Reads Truth. There were so many ladies trying to get started right away on the morning of January 1st that the site and app crashed! (Yup, that is indeed spiritual warfare in the technology age!) So if it doesn't work right away, just try again later. I promise you won't regret it.


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