Thursday, September 30, 2010

Oh Happiness!

After what has been a very difficult season, our family is beginning to be restored.  We will never be the same because we are always growing and changing, but we are better.  We are learning to communicate better, forgive much, and laugh more.

For those of you who don't know, in the past 2 years we have adopted twins, I quit my job as an adoption social worker, moved to a new state, my husband took a new job, our kids changed schools, we lost 3 dogs, dealt with my major depression, had a son go through drug treatment and lost a well established support network and have yet to redefine a new one.

Underlying all of this is the truth that the move, job change and ability to overcome the challenging situations are a part of God's leading and we trust that ultimate good will come out of what we have perceived as a terrible storm because our God is great.  We have done our best to live out the biblical truth of "praising him in the storm".  This is sometimes easy, many times difficult, but always right.

One of our family mottos that we have tried to impress upon our children is "Anything that is worth doing, is almost always challenging and difficult".  We understand that in order to grow and experience joy, it often times requires a period of pain and suffering.  As the dust is settling, there are multiple benefits that we are beginning to experience as a family.

We have been able to move back to our hometown and are now close to our large family.  The overall benefits of the new job are beyond our expectations, the educational social and spiritual growth opportunities for us and the kids are far greater than where we were.  Life is short and the ability to spend quality time with our parents as we are all getting older is such a blessing!  So too is the invaluable assistance that both sets of grandparents have been able to provide during this past difficult season.

My husband loves The David Crowder*Band.  On their most recent CD release there is a song entitled "Oh Happiness".  It is a simple message about the joy found in God's grace that we receive just because He loves us.  Our family has been playing this song and video loudly, often, in the cars and at home.  It has become a ritual for our two year old twins to watch the music video for the song as we are preparing for bed.  In fact, they know many of the lyrics by now and can recognize the song after hearing the first few notes and get very excited!  Sweet little Roman gets his giggle on and says. "I like it Oh HappiMess" and sings it loudly, particularly emphasizing the words Happy, Mess, and Grace. This makes it even more fitting because we truly are the embodiment of the dichotomy of a Happy Mess!

This is a perfect theme song for us as we are seeing light at the end of the dark tunnel and reminds us of how good we have it, even in the dark.

David Crowder*Band Summer 2010

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Fighting the Darkness

My brother has been a wrestler since he was in second grade and continues with the sport today as a coach. I grew up spending many weekends at wrestling tournaments and really came to both understand and enjoy the sport. The goal of wrestling is to overpower your opponent by throwing them to the ground and ultimately pinning both shoulders on the mat, causing them to 'submit'.

My brother was a part of a Collegiate team that won Nationals. To get to this point, you must make wrestling your top priority. I feel like I am a wrestler, in the most important match of my life. Truth be told, I don't want to make fighting depression my top priority. I hate depression and I hate that it is something I struggle with. I would much rather devote my time to my husband, children and helping others. I don't like having a disease of the brain.

I have never before wrestled with anything as difficult as the depression I have experienced this past year. I am fighting with all my might, using the skills I have learned to outwit my opponent. I am exercising, eating better, taking medication, trying to lower my stress, asking for help and getting counseling.

One of my favorite wrestling moves is called a reversal. That's when a person goes from being in a defensive position to gaining control of their opponent. It can be very dramatic! I can still remember the roar of the crowd when this happens, suddenly things become very exciting and it's anyone's match! There have been several dramatic reversals in my fight against depression. Sometimes I am the one feeling in control while other times, I feel overtaken, afraid that I may expose my shoulders to the mat. It takes all of my physical and emotional fortitude to not succumb to the weight that is on me.

What do I do? Honestly I pray! I try to keep busy, especially doing for others. I read my Bible, I write, I read Christian books, I talk to someone who cares. Since the start of my major depression I have gained a love for my Bible different than the rest of my Christian life. I need to read the written word. I need words of encouragement I need to praise my Lord.

Sometimes, I sleep or cry or hide myself away from people. I try really hard not to do that because it doesn't help me feel better to isolate myself. Sometimes I forget and need to be prompted to re-join the outside world! It can be so painful to be hiding behind your depression. It's not like it's completely evident for others to see and therefore no one can understand why we look normal while we feel so abnormal.

I don't wish for anyone else to struggle with this awful disease but there are many people who unfortunately can identify with me both now and in Biblical times.

Examples of people in the Bible who struggled with bouts of depression:
Abraham (Genesis 15)
Jonah (Jonah 4)
Job (Book of Job)
Elijah (1 Kings 19)
King Saul (I Samuel 16:14-23, etc.)
Jeremiah (Book of Jeremiah)
David (Psalms 6, 13, 18, 23, 25, 27, 31, 32, 34, 37-40, 42-43, 46, 51, 55, 62-63, 69, 71, 73, 77, 84, 86, 90-91, 94-95, 103-104, 107, 110, 116, 118, 121, 123-124, 130, 138, 139, 141-143, 146-147)

If you struggle with depression, know that you are not alone. I'm willing to talk with you and we can encourage one another.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Having a Life Verse Tim Hawkins-My favorite Bible verse

I was raised in a Christian home where I went to a Pentecostal church 3 times a week as well as attended Catholic School(that's a story for a different post!) Despite that, I had never heard of a 'life verse' before I went to college. I first heard it mentioned in a Bible class and then from a few kids around campus in what I thought was interesting "get to know you" conversation, "Hey, what's your life verse?" I felt like I had missed out on something very big! Where was I when people were getting these? Then I remembered that my family had name plaques on the wall and my name meant Queenly(which I thought was totally cool) and my verse was Proverbs 15:33 The fear of the LORD is the instruction of wisdom; and before honor is humility. Over the years the Lord has taught and continues to teach me about humility. I did not choose that verse, though it has meaning to me.

I get the point of having a life verse. A couple of years ago my husband and I chose verses for each of our children and had them made into wooden plaques. We spent a lot of time choosing each one based on the child. It was meant to be a verse that encouraged them.

I can't say that I have a 'life verse' per se but I have many verses which have enriched my life.

I'm so thankful to Martha Hjelm, my neighbor growing up who brought me to Awana every week at the Baptist church in town. So many of the Bible verses that I can still recall today I learned in Awana. There are other verses that I know because they are a part of a song. I doubt I could recite all the verses I know off the top of my head, but I am amazed that they often come to my mind at the right time.

I have had many verses throughout my life which have meant something based on the time in my life.

Philippians 4:13 Phil 4:13 "I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength." I need this reminder daily.

Jeremiah 29:11 For I know the plans I have for you declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. I love to be reminded of this verse when I feel frantic about what I'm doing and what I'm 'suppose' to be doing. It brings peace to my soul.

Psalm 84:3 Even the sparrow has found a home, and the swallow a nest for herself, where she may have her young--a place near your altar, O LORD Almighty, my King and my God. This is such a beautiful verse that reminds me that God cares about things big and small.

James 1:17 Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows
. Love this!

Nehemiah 9:5 Stand up and praise the Lord your God, who is from everlasting to everlasting. Blessed be your glorious name, and may it be exalted above all blessing and praise.

Psalm 51:10 Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me. This is a prayer I pray over and over because I am imperfect and need God's help!

Isaiah 41:10 So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

Romans 8:18 I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. I'm reminded that we're just visitors here on Earth and it's not meant to be easy. I'm looking forward to meeting Jesus face to face!

Romans 8:38 For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. This was one of my favorite songs from my childhood but more than that it is a comforting truth!

Psalm 89:1 I will sing of the LORD's great love forever; with my mouth I will make your faithfulness known through all generations. My parents are first generation Christians. It is my desire that their legacy will last through all generations.

Psalm 118:8 It is better to take refuge in the LORD than to trust in man. Amen!

Luke 12:48 To whom much is given, much is expected. I have been given much and I am very well aware of that.

Isaiah 40:31 but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.
Beautiful mental imagery!
Matthew 7:7 Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. We had a painting with this verse on our wall in my home growing up. I love this verse. I also loved the tender look on the face of Jesus in the painting. It's how I imagine Him to be.

Micah 6:8 He has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.
I'm currently memorizing this verse. It's important to know what is expected of us and I so desire to make God proud of me!

Psalm 19:14 May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, O LORD, my Rock and my Redeemer. This verse is currently convicting me and I'm asking the Lord to teach me to be more pleasing to Him.

I could never possibly mention all of the things in the Bible which have meaning to be. In fact, I am often reading my Bible and discover a verse that I don't think I've seen before and am sure it was written just for me! Please feel free to share with me your favorite verse or verses. I'd love to hear them!

I love to laugh and really appreciate the humor of Tim Hawkins, so I've included a video of his about having a life verse. Enjoy!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010


Some of the best moments in life happen when we least expect it and with no planning on our part. I was sitting on my bed, working on my computer when my 17 year old daughter Hannah came in and said "I just need my mom". She crawled under the covers and became my little girl again, if only for a while. I'm sure I don't need to tell you this is not an ordinary occurrence for a 17 year old! Her independence is growing and her need for her mom not nearly as evident as that of my 2 year olds. I gladly basked in the moment, whispering encouraging words to her and feeling my heart swell with emotions for this child I love more than words can express.

Soon Rya, my two year old joined us. She wiggled her way in between us and began to talk 'big girl talk'. We laughed and shared with her some girl wisdom like "Boys are icky like spiders", to which her reply was "I like spiders!". We sang songs from Beyonce's 'Single Ladies' to ABC's to "Jesus, there is something about that name' and finally David Crowder's 'Oh Happiness', a family favorite that we can only seem to sing at the top of our lungs!

Que Linnea,age 11, the only missing female in the household. Somehow, she could sense from her room in the basement that she was missing out on the second floor. There was a wrestling match between the older girls to see who got to lay next to me. We had Rya count how many of us there were and then sang 'There were four in the bed' and tried to push each other out. We got really silly. We shared my secret stash of chocolate and it was great fun! It doesn't get much better than that!

I looked up the definition of a Red letter day. A memorably happy or noteworthy day (from the custom of marking holy days in red on church calendars)'ve decided that this day will indeed go down as a red letter day on my calendar.

I've got David Crowder stuck in my head singing 'Oh Happiness' and it's the perfect way to end my day and thank God for his grace and the gifts he's given to me through my children. Tonight I am especially thankful that my kids want to spend time with me and that we can share in life's simplest moments, making long-lasting memories. I'm thankful for joy and laughter in our home!

Psalm 16:9
Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices; my body also will rest secure,

Monday, September 13, 2010

Being Still

Psalm 46:10 Be still and know that I am God

This verse is running through my mind today for a reason. I am anxious about a decision my husband and I need to make regarding one of our children. I want to make the RIGHT decision. I want what will bring about the best possible outcome for my child.

Then I am reminded by that quiet whisper to Be still and know that I am God. Why is it that I always need reminding of that wonderful truth? Oh yeah, it' because of my imperfect nature and my need to try and control things MYSELF! Funny that I should know that doesn't usually work out well. I'm the kind of person who sees a problem and I try to fix it. There are so many things beyond my capability of fixing.

I'm also reminded that for as much as I love my child, God loves him so much more. He entrusted my son to me but he is HIS. So, as I write this I breath a sigh of relief that I can share my heart with the Lord and then be still.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Why I love Silver

For the past 6 months, my life has included grief, pain and depression. In March I was diagnosed with major depression which robbed me of my energy, my joy and precious time with my family. In early June as I was recovering, my 16 year old son entered a drug treatment facility. Needless to say, my life felt out of control.

I was taking a medication that gave me horrible withdrawal symptoms. I am officially 3 weeks off that medication completely. I can finally say I am almost 'me' again. There is a part of me that will never be the same. During my depression, I ended up on an unexpected spiritual journey that has changed me in ways I would have never expected. I am stronger and I understand God's love in a way I did not before. I also have a peace in Him that is new. I was looking up the word refined because that's what I feel God has been doing with me. I came across the following story and it hit me that I have been in the fire.

Refining Silver

Some time ago, a few ladies met in a certain city to read the scriptures, and make them the subject of conversation. While reading the third chapter of Malachi they came upon a remarkable expression in the third verse: "And He shall sit as a refiner and purifier of silver." One lady's opinion was that is was intended to convey the view of the sanctifying influence of the grace of Christ. Then she proposed to visit a silversmith and report to them what he said on the subject.

She went accordingly and without telling the object of her errand, begged to know the process of refining silver, which he fully described to her. "But Sir" she said, "do you sit while the work of refining is going on?" "Oh, yes, madam," replied the silversmith; "I must sit with my eye steadily fixed on the furnace, for if the time necessary for refining be exceeded in the slightest degree, the silver will be injured."

The lady at once saw the beauty, and comfort too, of the expression, "He shall sit as a refiner and purifier of silver." Christ sees it needful to put His children into a furnace; His eye is steadily intent on the work of purifying, and His wisdom and love are both engaged in the best manner for them. Their trials do not come at random; "the very hairs of your head are all numbered."

As the lady was leaving the shop, the silversmith called her back, and said he had forgotten to mention that the only way that he knows when the process of purifying is complete when he sees his own image reflected in the silver....

--Author Unknown

I have been in the fire. I think that bad things happen in this life because we live in a fallen world. Satan intends these bad things to make us bitter and bring us down. Jesus can use them to make me better in ways I would never have imagined.

I have always considered myself a strong person. When you are depressed, there is nothing strong about you. I was unable to control those things in my life that used to come so easily to me, this, in and of itself, added to my sense of doom during this time. From a theological standpoint, I have a warfare world view. This is the acknowledgment that there is a constant battle between Satan and God, and that we know God is ultimately in control, but we live in a fallen world and bad things happen due to original sin and natural occurrences. I believe that God, in His infinite wisdom and power, can use all things for good. As such, God did not cause my depression, but my experience in going through this trial can be used ultimately to reveal His love, grace and mercy to others.

I'm thankful that God loves me so much that he takes time with me to teach me the things he has been teaching me, thus refining me, so his image can be reflected in me.

Monday, September 6, 2010

We have a new family member!

My sister and her family got their referral this week for a child in Ethiopia. She is 6 years old and was only dropped off at the orphanage this week. Older children are typically harder to place but this is the age they wanted and they are thrilled!

We celebrated as a family today by wearing our Africa shirts Marybeth and Greta have been making. There is a heart sewn in to the area in Africa where Ethiopia is. We plan to wear them to the airport as we all welcome her home. You can't see the picture very well but the entire family, young and old are wearing their shirts. We're a large, loud and FUN family!

If you would like to support their adoption by purchasing a shirt,they are $25.00 You can specify what you'd like. If you want to read about their adoption journey, check out Our Ethiopia Journeys under blogs I follow on the right sidebar.

e mail me at

Thursday, September 2, 2010

School Year Resoultions

I have enjoyed having a laid-back summer schedule with my family. Our days have consisted of either going to the lake or a nearby water park where we have a season pass. In the afternoons we do a little housework and some lounging. I love not being tied to a schedule! I love garage sales with the kids, shopping, walks through the neighborhood and grilling. The thing I don't like about summer is that I have to put off having a clean house until the kids are gone again.

In the summer I get extra help from the kids with housework, but at the same time they make so many more messes! Someone is always eating, the kids have friends over, we make more laundry with all the beach towels, etc. I will lament my children going back to school, but I will rejoice when I regain control over my home!

I just returned from Open Houses at 2 of the kids schools. It was total mayhem, which got me thinking about the mayhem that is my home in the afternoons once school resumes. I usually still get a little down time in the afternoon with twin 2 1/2 year olds who nap, usually at the same time. All of a sudden the kids start coming home and I don't transition well from the little bit of quiet I get to the loud, active household of 6 children all needing my attention. Before I know it, Kevin walks in the door from work and I realize that I haven't even thought of what to make for supper! That is such a challenge for me.

When I was sick, some people brought me meals. I have decided that is my love language. When someone prepares a meal for me it is a fabulous gift!! My sister Katie recently came for the afternoon and brought me a meal 'just because'. I was so blessed!

I am resolving to make meals at least 4 nights a week. I know I need to prepare ahead of time. I have been cooking double and freezing half. Today I made 10 baked potatoes and scooped them out and added sour cream, seasoning, cheese, bacon and green onions and added them back to the skins. I flash froze them and then put them in 2 separate freezer bags to be eaten with a future meal.

I vow that I will not add to the evening chaos with my lack of dinner planning. I want to be prepared and on top of it so I can focus on the children when they get home.

I'm curious, what do you do to make meal time easier at your house? What school year resolutions do you have?

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Birthday Girl!

I have been blessed with the gift of family. My daughter Linnea is one of those gifts.

12 years ago, I became mom to a second daughter. She was the only one of my 6 children that I had a definite preference as to the sex of the child. At that time, we had a girl and 2 boys. I did not know she would be a girl but I remember ordering a "pink" blanket from my mother-in-law, who always knit a blanket when I was expecting. I'm sure she thought I was crazy but she made it anyway.

Upon hearing those 3 wonderful words "It's a girl" I was elated! I cried and laughed. I was so excited, I let my husband choose her name; Linnea Isabel. What a beautiful name for a beautiful person!

Linnea is easy-going, sweet, helpful, intelligent, funny, responsible and a great soccer player! Somewhere along the line she was dubbed "sporty-spice", a name that suits her. She is as equally feminine as she is sporty.

I love being Linnea's mom! Today I celebrate 12 years of having that honor. Happy Birthday sweet girl!