Sunday, November 27, 2011

He sees Me...

In an attempt to not catch up my blog at all, I wanted to share how the Lord has been showing up in my life lately. I have felt the frustration of the inadequacy of words to capture life- life that is full of images, emotions, moments, and details and thus have hesitant to blog. I was encouraged by a friend to pray for God to “surprise” me with the way He moves in my heart. The last few months have been difficult and dark, as I have wrestled with the apparent silence of God in my past and sometimes in my present. He has taken me on the most magnificent journey as He walks me into deep and hidden crevices of my heart, painful places that have been locked up for years and years. Sometimes that pain and the realities of my story have been absolutely excruciating, threatening to undo me. God is not satisfied with merely breaking us- a broken piece of pottery, though it is shattered, is still very hard. Instead, He has been melting me- leaving me completely surrendered and dependent-and forming me into a clearer reflection of Him. He has put people in my life that have been His face for me- that reflect a picture of His character and of His heart that He is using to soften and mold me.
This week particularly I was longing for the Lord to bring healing to my heart and several friends were praying for me as well. Those prayers were answered in the most incredible ways. However, the most significant moment of my week was an encounter with a woman at my church. This woman has suffered significant injustice and pain, which has led to psychological issues, physical disability, and emotional distress. Many love her out of duty, tolerating the outward displays of her brokenness in the name of Christ. Unfortunately, this has been my response to her as well. Choosing to love because that’s what we are called to do. However, this time I was broken over her story as she shared with me and I believed in her and for her with an unbridled passion. I saw the courage it took for her to continue to live. She often feels hopeless and that her efforts are meaningless, but I saw her God-given dignity. And God gave me the most significant love for her. So much so that I was overwhelmed by the brokenness of her story and despair she often feels. It was in my moment of entering her pain, that I recognized Christ response in me. I would not have seen her before, had it not been for the pain God has allowed in my life. I could identify with her, I knew what it felt like to be overwhelmed by lies, and darkness, and I was flooded with compassion. He is giving me sweet glimpses of redemption as I walk through my story in giving me faith to believe for those who need it. The irony in it is not that He sent me to her, rather He sent her to me. She blessed my heart more than she can imagine, I’m so encouraged by her struggle to believe in a God that sees her, and loves her.
This song captures well my heart this week….(Excuse the brief introduction)
Kari Jobe- You are For Me
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UbSMfL5LuSo&feature=fvsr

Monday, October 3, 2011

Surgery 1 Update

The first surgery is complete and for that we are thankful. Unfortunately, it didn't go quite as well as we had hoped. Not only was there significant bone re-absorption in her root, her body had overcompensated to correct the deterioration and her bone had actually grown around and attached to the root itself. This made for a very difficult extraction and the loss of a lot of bone in the process. Her osteoporosis medication may or may not have attributed to that. Our prayer now is that the bone graft will take (especially since they had to do more than expected) and that her pain will become more managable. It has been nearly incapacitating over the last 5 days and she is going back in tommorrow to see if there is infection in the surgical site or a broken piece of bone.

Thanks,
Ben

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Fall Update and surgery

Our 2nd fall at covenant seminary has begun. Even though we technically moved here last July, life was so crazy that we don’t count it until August ;) I predicted it would take us about a year to feel settled and I can honestly say that’s true. We have really plugged into our church and feel as though we are truly apart of the community. I’ve been serving on the worship team since Feb and also have the privilege of serving on the women’s ministry team. We are both learning a ton. School is mentally challenging, yet spiritually refreshing. Our marriage has been strengthened as we continue to learn to communicate and value one another better. We have learned some of our pitfalls and we are fighting hard to prevent them. We are truly engaging with our hearts – delighting in the joys of life and embracing better the sorrows. The kids are at such a fun age. They turned 2 on May 1st and they are such a delight to us right now. Their vocabulary expands every day and it’s so fun to see them relate to each other and to others. They have such a special relationship. I’m so thankful the Lord gave them to us. Ben and I read “To Train up a Child” and “Creative Family Times” this summer and both books were so helpful in our approach to them. We have noticed that the more consistent we are, the happier they are. I’m taking them through some character training this semester and we are focusing on one quality a week. We have short training times each day where I am role playing and teaching them to be obedient, kind, ect. when we are NOT in the moment of disobedience. I use a few simple sheets I ordered that have a character quality with a corresponding bible verse. I tweek it a lot but it helps to keep me sharing God’s word with them.
As we sense the Lord’s presence and protection in our lives, we are also keenly aware of Fall and it’s effects on our relationships and our lives. My health has been an ongoing battle for me, and this summer my dentist found some bone reabsorption in an area of my mouth where I had knocked out 3 teeth due to an accident in high school. I will be having oral surgery in a few days and this is a significant due to my osteoporosis. It is a pretty intensive procedure where they will be doing a complete extraction of my previous dental work, bone grafting, and later a metal implant. Their will be a series of surgeries- each a few months apart to allow time for healing- concluding in about a year. There is concern that the bone graft won’t take because of one of the side effects of an osteoporosis medication that I took. Also, this will be a major financial strain for us. I am quite nervous and your prayers would be greatly appreciated.

Masters in Counseling

The Lord continues to take me on a journey of trusting Him, facing my past, repenting of the ways I seek life outside of Him, and truly engaging in the present. This past year there were some extremely difficult months as I wrestled with the Lord in the depth of my heart. Sometimes I wish my journey were over, that I was “healed”, more complete than I am. But the Lord continues to unfold my story as he does pages of a book, as my heart is more and more ready to process the things of my past. Somehow, in my broken humble state the Lord seemingly uses me in the lives of others around me often to my own amazement. Just as we experience the already, not yet in our spiritual journeys, I am not yet finished dealing with the pain and memories of my past. Instead of keeping me from fully engaging and being present in the lives of others, it is what the Lord uses most in my interaction with the broken lives and stories of those around me. In a class I took this summer and a generous compliment from a professor, along with various other things, we have felt the Lord leading me to pursue a degree in counseling. My ability to take classes here is a tremendous blessing and one I do not take for granted. I’m so thankful to Ben for being so supportive of me and sacrificing his time and energy in order to make this desire a possibility. The Lord has also continued to provide neighbors to swap childcare and meet other needs along the way. My approach will be non-traditional as Ben and I seek to juggle our class schedules with caring for the twins. I will be in school all year, taking many classes in January and summers when Ben’s load is lighter. The Lord has made it clear that this is the road He has me on, which is both exciting and terrifying all at the same time.

Class updat 8/1/2011

In the spring semester I took New Testament History and Theology. I loved this class and all the richness and depth it has brought to my understanding of the bible and of Jesus' ministry here on earth, how to interpret the bible and to teach that to others. It was so wonderful to have a framework to hang many of the New Test bible studies I have done previously. There was alot of reading for this class, hence why there was not much time for hobbies (like blogging :)) I've learned that while maximizing on my ability to be in school right now, I have to say no to many other things I enjoy or even "need" to do in order to keep my priorities at the top.
Right after class ended for us both, we packed up and made our "great adventure" down south to see family and friends. After traveling for two weeks with 2 two year olds, we were so glad to be home! Ben started school the next day, and I had a few weeks before my summer intensive class began.
This summer I took Educational Foundations, team taught by two of our professors. This class was so practical on how to educate the people in our churches and in our schools. It was such a wonderful class, I'm so glad I took it! It was basically all day long for two weeks, so Ben really sacrificed alot as well in order to enable me to go. I'm so thankful for his support and encouragement of me to engage in a degree program here. Although it takes my time, I'm learning that I function much better with some level of pressure- the home runs more smoothly, the laundry is all done (because it has to be), we have nutritional meals planned/prepared, and my heart and soul are fed. It gives me a focus and helps me to simplify.

Friday, September 9, 2011

BFF forever!

Playdates :)

Ben (and the kids) always leave me these sweet messages during bathtime on Monday nights when I'm gone to class.


Good friends at the Joe's Place Premier.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Spring visitors- Zoo, Magic House, Arch

Brynn and Richard came to visit and run a Marathon!





My family came up for spring break :)

How many can you fit in a Pilot? 4 adults, 3 carseats/toddlers,2 jogging strollers and a cooler:)

Aiden drilling at Magic House

Addison picking carrots













The St. Louis Zoo!











One of the best parts about St. Louis is all the free stuff to do! The Zoo is totally free, Grant's Farm, The Science Center, The Magic House on certain nights, ect. We are so thankful for the opportunity to enjoy these places.

Fun with food

First learning to eat with spoons :) We missed alot...


Sometimes it wore us out!

Our log cabin group! The log cabin is free childcare for seminary students one morning a week for a few hours. It is WONDERFUL!

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Magic House and Ben's birthday

The Magic House is one of the largest children's museums in the country. It looks like a giant castle and has floors and floors of children to explore, all broken up by age. This was our first time there! We checked out the Bob the Builder site, the sandbox room, and the water fun room!





Ben's 30th Birthday at Bailey's Chocolate Bar- yummy!

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Birthday on a budget

How do you do throw a great children's birthday party on a budget???

1. Use Coupons- use "register rewards", "shop n save" bucks, ect. for the items you are buying.
2. Get generic party items items at cheap party stores or at a dollar store.
3. Ask people to help you!!! ( Since both of our families are about 12 hours away, we asked our friends to help! They brought food, made the amazing cakes/cupcakes for just cost of supplies, and came early to help set up! We could not have done it without them!
4. Have two kids on the same day = one party (this one takes some work ;)
5. Go ahead and splurge a little- it's once a year and they deserve it.

Although I'm a pretty frugal person (and we basically have to be b/c Ben is a full-time student), I believe there should be special times reserved for celebration. Birthday's are a big deal to me- a great time to reflect on the life of that individual, thank the Lord for them, and shower them with love and affection from friends. :)

Friday, April 15, 2011

Personality...

Just a tidbit from the twins lives:
Aiden has such a servant's heart and it is soooo sweet! He always wants to help me and loves to do the dishes, sweep, mop, and throw things away. He will do whatever I ask him and be so pleased with himself. This goes to show how God made us for a purpose!

Abigail loves to cuddle. She would be perfectly content if I would just hold her all day and read her a book. She loves to read and their vocab has increased significantly just in the last month! She especially loves puppies, or any kind of animal for that matter.

They love each other so much, and give each other lots of hugs and kisses- usually at my direction (and sometimes after stealing a toy, ha ha) Today Abigail came up to her brother and grabbed his hand and they helped each other up the stairs holding hands the whole way. It was so stinkin cute!

Friday, April 8, 2011

Green smoothies

Great way to get your kids to eat all their vegetables. It's also made with Kefir which is especially helpful in boosting immunity (and lots of other stuff!)

I have found it easiest with a traditional blender to combine the greens first in order to get them real smooth. This would not be necessary with a Vita-Mix, but with a standard blender combining all the ingredients at once usually leaves you with green clumps.

img_52981 1/2 cups of liquids (I usually use a combination of water, coconut milk, and kefir)
3 oz or more fresh greens, which is approximately half a bag or 3 large handfuls (spinach or kale are best!) -start with smaller quantities and work you way up!
2-3 Tbsp orange juice concentrate, optional (this is a more frugal alternative than using pre-mixed juices – it stretches the juice further)

After these ingredients are thoroughly blended, you can add an assortment of fruit.

Here are our favorite additions:

1/2-1 cup Frozen strawberries or raspberries
1 Banana
1/2 cup Frozen Blueberries
1/4 cup Frozen Pineapple
2-3 Frozen Peach slices

I have also used canned pears on occasion as well.

Blend and add a little stevia or honey to sweeten and any additional boosters.

Additional boosters:

Ground flax seeds
Ground pumpkin seeds
Coconut oil

Enjoy!

Simplify

Simplicity. A beautiful word and an even more beautiful thing. Just hearing the word produces a restfulness in my soul. One question I am asking myself to help simplify life is “Does it have a fruitfull purpose in my life right now.” Not somewhere in the future, or even in the past, but right now. This question has helped me get rid of so much stuff (physically) and less stuff means less to clean, keep organized, ect. =simpler. Another question I ask is “is it bearing fruit in my life or causing me more stress/chaos.” I have significantly simplified the outside activities we are involved, the amount of time I give to couponing, amoungst other things by thinking through this grid. It’s been very helpful.
Another way I am simplifying life is by setting limits on things that I believe can sometimes steal my time away from what is most important. I must confess that sometimes I feel like such a failure of a mom for not keeping up with the blog, their baby books, pictures, videos, what they did when, ect. I try to give myself the excuse of “but there’s two of them to chase around, we have an extremely stressful year, we just moved cross country, “ ect. This doesn’t help, but then I hear that still soft voice gently reminding me that although those things are not bad, they are not best either. What’s most important is that I’m being with my children as they grow, making the memories, watching them grow, enjoying where they are. It’s okay if I don’t document everything to share with everyone, or even for them to cherish later, as long as I am cherishing them NOW.

Marriage, simplicity, and parenting

The past few months Ben and I have really been focusing on a few areas of life we are seeking the Lord’s guidance and wisdom. We have committed to praying for these things together weekly. They are: strengthening our marriage, parenting well, and simplifying life. We have thought of some great ways to focus on our marriage this semester (i.e. “couchtime” daily= eye to eye communication even if only 10 minutes/day, swapping date nights with a neighbor and going out of the house, ect.). We took a parenting class in January together and read Shepharding a Child’s Heart and Grace Based Parenting. Two very good books with slightly different philosophies. The twins have really gotten into wanting to know their boundaries, and pushing my limits. We have been seeking God’s wisdom on how to discipline and love them well. They are so different- different needs, personalities, and love languages. Abigail often feels neglected just because Aiden is much needier, whinier, and cries louder than she. I am seeking creative ways to allow me time with each child. I am putting together a development plan for them this year on some things I want to purpose to teach them and how I want to do it (using Slow and Steady Get Me Ready). Ben and I have been discussing discipline a lot- what are the things that are worth it (I could say no all day long…), how to be extremely consistent, what method we will use on each child (spanking/time out, ect.) and many other things. I have basically been on my knees daily (multiple times throughout the day), begging God for wisdom on what to do next and He has been so sweet to answer me. One of the biggest things I am learning is to treat our children the way God treats us. Sometimes he disciplines us, but sometimes he shows us grace. It has helped to think through their greatest needs. Grace based parenting lays out the child’s needs as: need for security, significance, and strength. We meet these needs by giving them love, purpose, and hope. Still deciding if I completely agree with that, but the Lord is teaching me how to care for their hearts.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Blender Pancakes

Tonight I made these super healthy incredibly delicious and really easy "blender pancakes" that we can now pop out of the freezer and eat anytime. They are WONDERFUL! Since moving to the mid-west, we have noticed how much healthier everyone is and how much easier it is to be organic/all natural. We live around the corner from Trader Joes and Whole Foods (soon to be fav.'s) and it's actually pretty reasonably priced. We have been striving to move our diet completely that way (when possible). I've also made some fabulous green smoothies that the kids love and has a full days serving of protein and veggies! :)

By the way, aren't you proud Jen? Look how much I've blogged in the last couple of days. You must have been an inspiration to me :)

Friday, March 4, 2011

Winter Fun






Snowbunnies!


Date night- Ben took me to see The Nutcracker put on by the St. Louis Ballet!


Backyard



First St. Louis snow!











Ice Skating rink- I was shocked the first time we went and I realized these were OUTDOORS here! (not where I'm from :))