Monday, January 13, 2014

Silver Linings: Sick Kids

We were on a roll. Weeks and weeks had gone by, and while our friends all around us dropped like flies, we were at the beach and Disneyland and enjoying blissful weather on picnic blankets at the park. Sickness, not around these parts...or so it seemed. Then there was Friday. Conrad woke up dizzy with a headache and a cough, but Dad insisted he go to school anyway because apparently I am known to talk my kids into staying home to rest and take it easy at the slightest hint of a sniffle.

Naturally, when I arrived to pick Conrad up from school, instead of finding him bouncing off the flag pole as usual, I found a kid who asked at upon seeing me to go home-he was tired. By the time we made it back to the apartment Conrad's rosy cheeks had turned crimson and whatever energy he had mustered up for the school day had completely dissipated into a blob of a sick child.  

By Saturday night Truman had succumbed to the traveling virus too. And my children who NEVER take naps both have been snoozing the daylight hours away, giving me loads of free day time, which if your a stay at home parent, you know is totally different than just plain ol' normal free time. 'Free day time' is a like getting a car for your sixteenth birthday but instead of getting on old clickety- clankety lemon, it's a cherry red 1974 Corvette with a license plate that reads, "DADS1GRL". To put simply, it's the bomb of free time. For the person who doesn't understand how there could be such a variance in free time awesomeness, let me explain:

The list of to-do's and demands is one without an end, but for whatever reason it peaks during the day when no one is around to see us juggle a dozen little balls of requests. And of course, this is also just happens to be the ideal time of the day for us to get our stuff done and when we have the best energy of the day. But due to the nature of the beast, we can never access these ideal hours of the day, instead we are granted (or demand) evening time to go out for drinks with the girls, spa treatments, shopping sprees.... Ok, that was clearly a joke, no, we routinely do get some time in the evening but are typically too tired to utilize it properly and let's face it, grocery shopping without the kids is a good enough treat for us to use that free time towards.

Sick kids do suck. It sincerely pains my heart to see by boys suffer and all miserable. If I could I would absolutely take it for them, and there is nothing in the world I wouldn't do to make them feel better or see to their quick recovery. But...on the bright side, free day time is pretty sweet, and since they're already sick, it would be a shame to waste it.

Friday, January 10, 2014

New Blog (literally), Renewed Vows

Back this summer I decided I was going to start a new blog. The objective of this blog wasn't anything too interesting. I still don't have a secret identity that I'm dying to unveil. I haven't learned French. And I'm not about to concede my hand at poetry a public one-not now, not if a sloth ever really does become an astronaut, not ever. However, I did want to start a site solely designed for study of the Word of God, and for occasional devotionals. Of course, that was summer and I am just now assimilating all good intentions into something resembling course of action. The impetus behind this undertaking was, and is, both personal and impersonal; however, a recent request has propelled me into doing what I meant to do six months ago. I am quite level headed that this may not appeal to a single soul other than my own (and probably my parents), but I'd like to think that if there was someone else out there that was interested in knowing more about the Word of God, and could use a source of encouragement, that they would find this (humble) blog a place of interest. Many of the studies will be ones I have, or am currently doing myself, via BSF or Equip at Reality LA.

As for this blog, I hope to return to documenting the fascinating and often hilarious tales of motherhood and life as a displaced Texan in lovely Southern California.

As for the newbie, here is the link:

Sunday, November 03, 2013


I don't have many friends on Facebook, or in my Instagram feed that i'm not acutely aware of just how incredible their life is. As a culture we have become masters at show casing our "blessings". Just search #blessed or #soblessed or any other hashtag-blessed-word-combination and you will have your daily scrolling quota cut out for you. An irrational number of the accompanying images are of children in an abnormal state of amiability. You don't find any of a baby whose just covered him or herself in feces from their diaper (yes, people without children-it happens)with a blessed hashtag, nor do you see snapshots of a toddler laying on the floor in the middle of the frozen food aisle because you refused them the screaming request to run the grocery cart into the old lady in front of you (who by the way, is now sending you glares of utmost contempt for this little person you call child-pull it together for crying out loud!). No, there are no such pictures with a blessed hashtag. As a society when we think of blessed we evoke up something out of a Norman Rockwall painting, or a page out of Martha Stewart magazine, or just straight up indulgence. A new car (better and nicer than your old one, duh), a fancy dinner, children holding hands, a sunset, a flower, a cup of coffee...these we refer to as being blessed. But are such wonderful and splendid things actually what being blessed is, what blessedness is all about?!?

In Matthew 5:3-11, Jesus gives us a picture of those He considers blessed, "Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted. Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth. Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness for they shall be filled. Blessed are the merciful for they shall obtain mercy. Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God. Blessed are the peacemakers for they shall be called the Sons of God. Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake."

My old pastor at Reality once summarized "blessed" as this, "Blessedness is a wonderful state of well being in the presence of God." But such a definition and description of what being blessed is and looks like flies against the culturally established rule of thumb for blessedness. We live in a "Health and Wealth" christian culture which gives birth to and feeds this idea that if I have the stuff I want, the life I want then God is pleased with me and thus I am blessed. Or, if I don't have the stuff I want, the life I want, then I must not be blessed or else God would give it to me. Such a mind set is guilty of two things (at the bare minimum), 1.) Thinking you can earn stuff from God, 2.) Thinking being blessed is based on temporary and/or tangible glorification/manifestation. This sort of perspective not only substitutes grace for religion, but it idolizes that which is temporary over that which is eternal. It makes being a recipient paramount, as also does it alter the true purpose of the believer.

In John 6:26-29 Christ calls such people out. We are not to work at receiving in Christ that which isn't eternal - while yes He did provide for the crowd by miraculously feeding them when they were hungry-it is not meant to be something we toil in Him for. Back in the book of Matthew, chapter 6, verses 25-34, Christ explains to us why, and the reasons are because not only is it pointless and He is trustworthy, but that, such mis-directed attention takes away from that which is really important, and that is the kingdom of God. The significance of our priority being Jesus making all things new again-healing the sick, giving hope to those in despair, comfort to those in mourning, life whereas there once was death; not confusing the purpose or added objective of a believer as merely a receiver of stuff and happiness- is absolutely necessary in understanding what being blessed is all about and how that changes our very definition and understanding of it. This understanding of blessedness it not to negate the over the top provision and goodness our lives are filled with, for example, beautiful children, loving spouses, great jobs, new cars, good food, amazing coffee, etc... but to re-align this term with how Jesus described it.

(paraphrased) Blessed is one who is aware of his/her spiritual poverty, one who experiences the sorrow of repentance, one who is humble, one who longs for righteousness, one who seeks mercy instead of self-guided justice, one who wants Christ more than anything else, one who would speak truth in love for the sake of reconciling another to Christ, one who is loyal to what God deems important no matter the fall out, one who is hated and has a pretty awful time of it because they carry the name 'Christ follower'.

No matter our circumstances, one way or another, if you can read the above paragraph and find it rings true than according to Jesus you are blessed. If, on the other hand, you read the above paragraph and it doesn't sound like you but you've always assumed you were blessed by the goodness in your life than the good news for you is that today is your lucky day to experience that wonderful state of well being in the presence of God. However, you can not earn it and you can not will it; such a thing is achieved only through reconciliation with Jesus Christ. First, acknowledge your need for a savior-that your not able to save yourself and the debt you owe is more than you'll ever be able to pay, ask for forgiveness for ever thinking you could do it without Him-and trying to, testify that Jesus is the son of God and His Word is true, receive the free gift of salvation-His grace is sufficient, His atonement perfect, and in Him you are flawless, spotless, loved, set free, and #blessed.

All Glory to Him, M.

Friday, August 16, 2013

August 15th

Dear Truman,

Today is your birthday. You woke up this morning no longer a 4 year old, but 5. Yesterday you told me that after you turned 5 you wanted me to skip the rest of your birthdays; that you wanted to stay 5 forever. I couldn't argue with that because quite simply, that sounds wonderful. Later I thought about what an unusual request that was and how incredibly opposite it is from your older brother who is dying to grow up just as fast as the days will permit him. Not you however. You, Truman, are a rare breed. I think perhaps that request says a lot about who you are-you are someone who lives fully in each moment. Picture after picture of you shows a child completely engaged in enjoying whatever it is happening, whether that be drinking a hot chocolate or riding on the carousel or playing in the waves. You are completely satisfied with the present because of this disposition to "be here now". This sort of trait makes you a very fun and relaxing person to be around. I'm not the only one who has picked up on this either. I watch all the kids in our apartment complex, from the littles to the older boys, want to hang out with you. When the big boys line up for belly flops at the pool, they cheer for you to join them, and then one will inevitably wait in the water for you to go in case you should need help swimming back to the side of the pool. Which, since a few weeks into summer, is no longer an issue. You are diving, and even doing front flips into the pool.

There have been many things you've mastered this past year, like learning to wait till 7am to come in and get me or your Dad to retrieve you a bowl of granola. We both greatly appreciate that. You've also begun to ride a bike without training wheels, however, you still prefer your scooter of which you whip around the complex like a mad man. I think you'll be more interested in your bike after you grow another couple inches since the bike is a little too big for you and thus makes it tricky when you start or go to get off. Very reluctantly, you've also learned to write your name. It was a very eye opening experience the day I sat down with you to encourage you to do it without a tracer. To put it frankly, you are a perfectionist. Each stroke maddened you because you claimed it to be too sloped, or too big, or too small. You cried, you got angry. My cheerleading skills were tested, but in the end, you did it; you wrote your name, and although it didn't meet your standards, it really was a very impressive first attempt.

Your likes have changed a little this past year, but only slightly. Thomas the Train use to be the very essence of your every waking breath, and while you will still want to stop in a store and play for awhile on a train table demo, or insist to watch it if it's on the television, you no longer seem to be consumed by the 'all things Thomas' obsession seen in the first four years of your life. Lamborghini's, GT 500's, Porshe 911, Aston Martins, Bentley's, Audi A8, McLaren's, Corvettes, Bugatti Veyron, and Ferrari's...these are your new favorite past time, and thanks to the fact we live in the land of the rich and famous, we get to see these cars on a daily basis. I even took you to the Porshe dealership in Calabasas one day as a fun outing. Your dad thought they would take one look at us, realize we didn't have enough money to even lease such a car for a day, and kick us out. But of course that was hardly the case. Instead the sales associates were smitten by your enthusiasm and knowledge of the super cars inside the showroom, even letting you crawl in one to get the feel. You are definitely a people charmer. At home you line up all your Matchbox cars, of which you know what is what, and race them for hours. I could offer you the world, but you would trade it in a second for an .99 cent die-cast 1969 Corvette from Target.

You also LOVE the Iron Giant. A couple months ago an older boy told you that he could see invisible robots and then that they were living in our home and wanted to kill and destroy us. He was trying to mess with you, and it worked. You believed him. And despite Mommy and Daddy explaining to you imagination from reality, praying with you about it, you were convinced this boy was right: there were invisible robots everywhere, especially in your room. For the first time in your life you had nightmares. Around 2am each night I'd wake up to see your dark outline standing by me in bed, requesting to come in for safety and snuggles. Then one day while I was in prayer over it the Holy Spirit gave me a great idea, the Iron Giant. We watched it that evening and that gripping fear of robots transformed into a new love.

Despite all the growing up business you've done this year, you've remained my little lover. With Conrad in Kindergarten this past year you and I had new found one on one time together of which your favorite way to kill those couple of hours of just us was laying in my bed, just us. I would read books, we would wrestle, I would kiss the mess out of you, I would read books, we would wrestle, I would kiss the mess out of you, repeat. You hold a very special place in your Momma's heart and you know this. Your Beach Grampa use to tell me when I was a little girl that if he could he would rope down the moon and give it to me. I use to think he was just being sweet, but I now understand exactly what he was saying, because if I could Truman, I would rope down the moon and give it to you. My heart is a bottomless hole of which there is no end of the love I have for you and your brother.

You make me very proud and very, very happy.

I know next August you'll want to turn 6, and perhaps stay 6 forever. I want you to know that it's OK to get older-you'll always be my baby and I will always have to time to stop the world the melt with you. God is growing you up to be a man after His own heart, even at 5.

Happy, Happy Birthday my sweet Truman.

Tuesday, May 07, 2013

Shortly after moving here, we started to call Reality LA our home church. It was accidental, really. I had been "church shopping" around the area and wasn't finding anywhere that suited us. I wanted a church that was led by the Spirit, grounded in the Word, with a passion for the lost outside and inside it's doors, a heart for the broken, culturally relevant in how it communicated God's love, and community focused. The search was becoming dreary and when a few different people mentioned a great church down in West Hollywood I thought, "what the hay" and decided to check it out if only to get a reprieve from week after week of dryness. I was by myself as we didn't want to put our kids through the process. I recall vividly the over-whelming since of "home" within the walk from the parking garage to the auditorium. By the end of the service I was torn-I could tell this church was everything that church should be, and be about and I knew I wanted me and my family to be apart of something like that. However, I wasn't all to keen on LA at that time let alone driving the 30 minutes into it's belly. But the Spirit of God was there, and the people there were genuinely seeking to know Him and making Him known in profound and real ways, and if Jon was on board than I was eager to be on too.

Jon was in the thick of finishing up his degree online at that time so for the first few months just the boys and me went while Jon stayed back utilizing the quiet time in the house to write papers and read. During that period my heart changed towards LA and Hollywood. Where before I was appalled by it's vanity, it's aggressiveness, it's grit and grime, through the work of the Holy Spirit I fell in love with it not because of it but despite all of it. I found myself praying earnestly for LA-for all those self-absorbed, easily agitated, and consumerist driven people, and lo and behold, the drive there became a non-issue for me. I was happy to do it. Still, driving in on a Sunday morning versus a Monday afternoon is a totally different beast. 30 minutes become 2 hours and as such mid-week opportunities to serve and have community with our church family was almost impossible.

 Jon first joined us on Easter service that year, and he agreed Reality was a great church but the drive...oh, that drive. The issue was never fully resolved. I knew something had to change one Sunday when Jon said the boys and I could go without him: he wasn't in the mood to drive into LA. I prayed for God to change his heart for LA and Hollywood like He had done to mine, but weeks passed and the drive to Sunset Blvd was becoming a bigger and bigger issue for him. He said it wasn't just about Sunday mornings but about the lack of community we had with our church family during the week. This had been troubling me too, and so of course I started to pray that God would move us to Pasadena. Nothing changed. As much as I wanted there to be a solution, I knew it wasn't likely. We share one car, we live a few miles away from where Jon works, and we're strapped enough living in an apartment in the suburbs. I don't want to assume it, but I can only assume the solution is to find a church near our home. And this is something i'm quite hesitant to assume. I know human logic is not a substitute for His will, let alone His wisdom. Still, I also know something here is amiss.

A few weeks ago we began the "church shopping" process again. It's been difficult for me. I have issues with the church. I don't like most. I don't like how they misrepresent the heart of Christ, the purpose of the church. I don't like how they've turned church into a christian club, or a political party. I don't like how they've turned it into a non-profit, watered it down, trampled the urgency of the message with complacency. I don't like how they've used it to sell books and audio cassettes and shirts and mugs and fish decals and figurines and prayer shawls. I don't like how they've replaced reverence with casualness, awe-inspiring truth with feel good, make your own messages. I don't like how they don't seem to truly care about those outside of their doors. I don't like how they've chosen indignation and turned up noses over agape love and open arms. I don't like it one bit. However, I do love what the church could be and should be about; I whole heartily want us to be part of the solution, not the problem.

To know Him and make Him known.

There really is no beginning, middle and end to this post. I don't know anything other than I know something needs to change and I want God to be director of that change. More or less, I am processing.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Prelude, or thought process behind the next blog.

I was visiting a church with a friend this past Sunday. Unlike our home church, this one is just up the road, a few minutes the suburbs.

We arrived early having given ourselves more than enough time to get there (no doubt a years worth of habit driving into the heart of Hollywood every Sunday morning) and were lingering in the back of the church talking with our friends. I was introduced to a lady, a new to LA transplant, a Mom, a wife, and a social worker. Currently she lives in the valley, and she expressed to me her great desire to be out here with us in the suburbs. To me this was humorous. Here I was, a reluctant suburbanite, wishing I was in the city, attending my church in it's heart and there she was, not necessarily LA proper, but closer than I to it's nucleus, wishing this suburban slice of paradise was hers. I offered encouragement, reminding her Christ put his ministry in the city and not in it's safe and tidy surrounding areas but she wasn't biting. She explained to me she wanted safe neighborhoods, clean streets, and good schools for her son; but of course then in the morning she would drive back out to the Valley to do the work of Christ. I was a stranger to her, and so I nodded politely as if all of a sudden that made perfect sense to me. But it didn't.

Compartmentalization.That's the word that came to mind. No, I don't think Christians who want to live in the suburbs are a bunch of compartmentalized believers who only want to give and to live unto the Lord what they deem and when they deem, but I do think it's a very natural tendency of this sort of christian and I do think many aren't even aware of it. Nor, I should add, do I think Christians should abandon the suburbs and live only in large metropolitan areas, though more probably should.

 Spoiler alert: I love cities. I am of that sort, that weird group of people who get energized by a downtown, who think public transportation is the greatest thing ever, and who would rather have a picnic in an over crowded city park than a bbq in ones own backyard.

Never the less, here I am, a stay at home mom living in one of the best suburbs of LA. I don't have to worry about locking my car doors at night or my children getting approached by someone peddling pills at the playground or finding pornography laying in the street or explaining why that man is dressed like a women or why the old guy keeps mumbling inappropriate words to himself. But I do wonder if that's not the problem.

Many flee to the suburbs to get away from the filth of the city, to raise their children safely and wholesomely. However, as believers Christ has commanded us to make disciples of all nations, baptizing them, teaching them (Matthew 28:18-20); we are to be the salt of the earth, a light in a dark world (Matthew 5:13-15); we are to overcome evil with good (Romans 12:20); we are to feed the hungry, take care of the poor (Matthew 25:31-40); we are to preach the gospel to the poor, heal the broken hearted, preach deliverance to the captives, and to the blind, sight (Luke 4:18). We, as followers of Christ, as His disciples, should not set out to attain the most comfortable life we are able to find, or make. Our life, and that of our families should be in total pursuit of His word towards us and the world around us. We are not to pick and choose that which best suits the ideal perception of life, but in contrast, we are to leave everything behind and follow Him. He calls for radical obedience, not stifled compliance. If we knowingly set out to live somewhere void of such opportunities, or a lesser degree of them, to make Him known than we are in direct disobedience of His calling towards us as His disciples.

For some of us though that is not the case either because that is not our intention of living in the suburbs or because perhaps the suburbs are where God has brought us, where jobs have landed, or where family units have been established. Some of us in fact would rather be in the city with the grit and the grim, where sin looks like sin and the lost look lost. In the suburbs however it's like a house of smoke and mirrors. Perfect people with perfect yards and perfect yoga clothes and horrible music and film preferences. We don't know how to relate. We don't know how to peel the veneer. There is no unifying force like a social heritage, or a collective culture. However, we do have Christ. How then do we as Christians live radically in the Suburbs???

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

I have no idea how many times I declared something along this line,

"There is no way I would ever live in LA."

In hindsight, and since that's exactly where I've ended up, I wish I would have gone with Florence or Madrid or perhaps even Maui, but no, and in all sincerity, fortunately, God brought us to the precise place He had planned for us. It's been nearly a year since we made the move from rural Southern Oregon to the suburbs of Los Angeles. Though it feels like yesterday and simultaneously like always. For some of us (ahem, my husband) the relocation is still a work in progress-the contentment might be present but the joy in it has yet to present itself to him. To him, Los Angeles is a career pit stop to somewhere better-somewhere with rivers rushing down mountains, forests littered with pine needles and fallen logs, and air so clear and clean that when you breathe you add an extra day to the end of your life. Which I have to agree, sounds fantastic. But God continues to encourage me in something bigger, something not about what I think life ought to be about but about what He says life ought to be about. And it's not about me; it's not about comfort; it's not about taking vacations; it's not about owning a house; it's not about 401Ks; it's not about retirement savings; it's not about any kind of savings, really. Nor is it about living somewhere with great schools, clean air, and amazing surroundings-it's about living a life completely devoted to knowing Him and making Him known; to showing His love and proclaiming His Word. As benign as many of my longings are I know if they are my focus, if they are my intent, and my desires then i'm terribly amiss on everything.

Knowing this is often more than it's not- easier in practice than its application. I was not so fortunate to grow up middle class let alone upper-middle class - we were poor. My parents had a landscaping company during the summer and a few weeks here and there in the winter. During the busy summer months my little sister and I would be forced to tag along from yard to yard to yard. Unlike my older sister we were too young to be of any assistance, and as such we would swim when there was a pool, or sit under the shade of a tree when there was a tree, and when there was not we would lay prostrate under my fathers 1979 Jeep Wrangler in attempt to escape the hot Texas heat. Sometimes we would earn $5 to weed a garden bed, money I deemed 'savings for summer camp', though i'm most certain I spent each crisp Abraham Lincoln on candy at the corner gas station. But during those idle hours loitering in the shade I would daydream, daydream of having a nice house like the yards of the homes my parents poured sweat mowing, and of the worry free life I imagined went with the periwinkles and edged sidewalks. Now, as that grown-up I envisioned so long ago, the little girl that was me with her high hopes of a comfortable life has to monthly- sometimes weekly-often daily come to terms with kingdom perspective versus entitlement misconception. I remind myself, and my children to their annoyance, we are due nothing. Everything is an extra, even the air we breath, the sometimes smoggy brown LA air.