March 23, 2013

Family Spotlight {Mom}

I'm so excited to introduce ya'll to my mama today. Readers, meet Sandy!

There are few people that I admire as much as her and I am so grateful to call her Mom.

I see more and more of her in myself as I grow older, making me keenly aware of the positive character attributes and godly life lessons she has imparted to me. She has been the most amazing example of patience, service, and compassion. Here are a few things about her that I am most grateful for:

Her joy is from the Lord.
This lady finds a reason to rejoice in every circumstance, regardless of how insignificant or difficult. She treats the little things as if they are the best things and I love that about her. I remember talking to her on the phone a few years ago about the roast I had in the crock pot for dinner that night. She gasped into the receiver and said "OH MY GOSH! Do you eat your roast with onions? I just LOVE roast and onions!" I remember this conversation so vividly because I realized at that moment what a consistently joyful person she is. She truly sees the remarkable in the most ordinary and mundane. Her life has not always been easy or happy; I have seen her walk through many difficult and heartbreaking seasons. But her life has been marked by the overarching joy that comes from a life surrendered to the Lord. Even in the midst of unfavorable situations, my mom has taught me that the Lord's goodness is unfailing- He is the reason we have the ability to rejoice.

She is selfless.
This is something I totally took for granted most of my life. Looking back, I realize what an effort it must have been to raise five kids within eight years of each other and meet all of our unique needs. Imagine our trips to the grocery store: one baby on each of mom's hips, one kid in the shopping cart, one pushing the cart into mom's heels, and another begging for the fancy (yet disgusting, I later learned) animal crackers in the Barnum & Bailey's circus box. This woman has some patience! But it's not just because she's a mom and that's how moms are supposed to be. She has made selflessness a lifestyle- she genuinely thinks of others first and loves to put her compassion into action. I can't count the number of times she has cheerfully overlooked her own desires in order to aid or encourage someone else. And she's good at it! Her words of truth and affirmation are so nurturing and peace-giving. Everyone is welcome in her presence- she exudes hospitality and generosity. Spending time with her is like getting a hug for your heart. If you know her I'm sure you have experienced this first hand. It's such a blessing to have grown up observing her use her God-given servant's heart to touch other's lives and point them to Him.

She is comfortable.
I love to tell people about my mom because there are so many fun and quirky features about her. I didn't really appreciate that when I was young and she thought it was hysterical to invite my friends to stay for "liverwurst and hog head cheese sandwiches," but as I've gotten over the everything-is-embarrassing stage, I've realized what an amazing and unique personality she has. I think what I love most is how comfortable she is being herself. I used to make special requests that she not sing in her opera voice when I had friends over, but what I considered fairly annoying 10 years ago, I actually find totally awesome now. I think it's mostly because I realize that I will be just like her when I'm a mom. (Actually, before I'm a mom, because I'm pretty sure my husband has asked me not to sing Frank Ocean in the house because it usually involves an operatic screeching sound.) I think her funny quirks and sense of humor are what make her so lovable. But not only is she hilarious, she is one of the most creative people I know. She is patient, resourceful, humble, and beautiful inside and out. She is confident in who God has made her to be and she doesn't try to fit into any other mold. It's impossible to spend time with her and not feel comfortable being yourself, too.

Love you Mom!

March 14, 2013

All I Can Say

"I will extol the LORD at all times. His praise will always be on my lips... Let the afflicted hear and rejoice... The righteous cry out and the LORD hears them; he delivers them from all their troubles. The LORD is close to the brokenhearted and rescues those who are crushed in spirit."

Psalm 34 is one of my favorite chapters in the Bible today, but I remember choking on these words as I read them out loud 3 years ago. I knew I believed them, but my heart was broken and angry. Bitterness had quietly crept inside, tip-toeing about as he made himself at home. I didn't even realize I had left the door open. He slipped right in without a peep. Before long, Bitterness had unpacked his belongings and settled me into a comfortable routine:
Eat. Sleep. Resent. Repeat.

The circumstances in my life seemed out of control. Unbelievable, even. Tim and I talked later about how we couldn't have dreamed up this time of our lives, even if we tried. Our marriage was healthy, but the darkness and fear and pain were real. I wanted to talk about my situation, but my heart wasn't ready. Talking only led to an extended invitation for Bitterness to hang his hat another day longer; to continue decorating my heart with portraits of people I could blame for my anger.

I usually regretted whatever I said, so I didn't say much. I prayed. And cried. And sang.

All I Can Say is a song Tim introduced me to not long after we were married. It's from an old David Crowder album, circa 1999. I had always appreciated its simple and honest nature, but it means more to me now than I ever imagined it would. It's been a while now since Bitterness was evicted. The Lord helped me undergo the long and painful process of restoration- not to a perfect life, but to a life dependent on him. He showed me that he had been there all along, that even in my resentment and anger, he heard all of my cries.

Maybe you feel like you've been all alone. Maybe you are overwhelmed with fear or anger or pain- like the darkness is creeping up to swallow you. I hope more than anything that you find this song an encouragement to hang on. To cry out. Even when you have nothing to say and nothing to offer, the LORD is close to the brokenhearted and rescues those who are crushed in spirit. 

(If you are unable to access this audio, click here)

March 5, 2013


I have a nice little story for ya'll today. But first, allow me to introduce you to Lola.

This is a comically terrible photo.

She's a '98 Corolla. I bought her from my aunt when I still lived in California and we've been through a lot together. She's such a good little car and friend. (Yes, friend.) I am already dreading the day that Lola's life comes to an end. There are just so many quirks I love about her:

The driver's side window that will only roll up at the rate of 1 cm per day.

The visor that sits half-open, waiting to greet my forehead each time I hop inside.

The hole in the wiper fluid tank that leaves my windshield looking so grime-kissed and foggy.

Yes, I do realize that all of these things are fixable. Just haven't gotten around to it, ok?

This particular quirk is actually where my story begins.

Tim and I got home at exactly the same time the other day. Since we have a single-wide driveway, he pulled in first and Lola and I followed behind him. The roads have been all wet and slushy from the melting snow, so my windshield was looking extra grubby by the time I got home. I reached out the door (NOT the window though, because that would mean grime in my face for the next couple of days) and squirted a water bottle across the glass. I ran the wipers a few times, gathered my belongings, and headed inside for the night.

I was already running late for work the next morning (typical) when I could not find my keys anywhere! After pacing through every room in my house I finally just grabbed a spare and rushed out the door. I climbed in the car, careful to avoid the visor-forehead-whack, and growled at the sight of my keys sitting in the ignition... Good thing there weren't any thieves looking to come up on a blue Corolla in the night. I went to start the car in a hurry, but noticed that I only had to turn the key half as far as normal.

CLICK CLICK CLICK... palm to forehead...

I left Lola chilling on accessories for 15 HOURS! She said "Forget it, you irresponsible owner!" I sulked back inside to share my bad news with Tim. I'm sure he wanted to wring my neck, but he only grinned and put on his shoes. (He's a saint, I tell you!) After a lot of staring at our real-life game of driveway Tetris, we decided that we were going to try to push Lola out of the driveway. Not with our bodyweight (because really, have you seen us?) but with Tim's Jetta! He held a bunch of old towels between our bumpers while I eeked down the driveway in neutral until I ran into the back of the Jetta. Since I wasn't exactly in blog mode when all of this was happening, I didn't take any pictures. It's your lucky day though, because I did fabricate a pretty incredible visual reproduction using the Paint program and my trusty Snipping Tool.

Anyway, after Lola was good and pushed up against the Jetta's bumper, into reverse Tim went! We were actually really surprised at how easy it was. And no one was damaged in the process! With one last nudge, Lola backed into the street with just enough room for Tim to pull out of the driveway. He gave me a jump, I gave him a hug, and Lola lives another day!