Oh, it's on, this is war.

I strongly believe there is an unseen battle raging all around us. I know this sounds wacko and bordering on conspiracy theory, just listen up anyway.  No matter your religious beliefs, everyone knows of good and evil.  We see it played out in our lives and constantly on the big screen like 

Woody and Buzz v. Emperor Zurg.  

Did you know there is a battle happening right now as you read my post? Oh yes, there are forces waging an all out war to win your soul.

For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places. (Ephesians 6:12)

No joke. This stuff is real.  I've felt the battle surround me with a breath-stealing weight that carries with it an umbrella of overwhelming heaviness. Nothing visible to run from or to confront head on, just darkness in a fluorescent-lit room.  

This is not an anxiety attack, a depression swing, or PMS.  This is, without a doubt, spiritual war. I have felt this darkness surround me a handful of times in my life and I usually notice the following:

1. I am about to hear or share about The Gospel (or someone near me is about to hear it).

2. I am doubting my faith in God or something about His character.

3. I am separated from others. (Like the baby gazelle who can't run fast enough to escape the lion!)

Let me share a very recent example from tonight. I am a youth group leader and we meet every Wednesday night.  We start off the evening with some social-chatty time, then begin worship. After worship there is a brief teaching/sharing time and then we move out into smaller groups. I have made it a habit, during song time, to pray over the nights festivities.  I pray for the students, the band, the leaders, everyone in that place, I lift 'em up. Tonight, I couldn't even bring myself to sing. I stood there in the back of the room checking my pulse because seriously, I like to sing loud and give glory to the Most High.  That's when I felt it.  It rolled over me like a soft, feather comforter, slow, heavy, and almost choking.  As the worship music played on and I watched these awesome high schoolers lifting their hands and

dancing like David, I felt as if I had disappeared and all I could feel was the weight of the room.  I immediately began to pray and I prayed hard.  I texted a friend to ask her help in prayer because this felt big and a tad scary. I was trembling in knowing that God's Army was fighting against the Enemy and that Hell would lose.  As the worship set came to an end and a friend shared his testimony, I could still feel the darkness over me, I continued my prayers. I could feel with each step as we walked to our corners of the church, the heavy weight was leaving me. I couldn't even talk about what had just happened to those around me. There was a peace and an understanding of what just took place, I knew my words couldn't explain it.  I may never know what that particular battle was about but, I am thankful God allowed me to feel it. To know it.  There are endless amounts of those wars happening daily and we just have no idea.  Roadblocks to keep us from walking into truth.

So here's the deal. If you haven't ordered up a straight jacket for me yet, thank you. I need you to understand that I absolutely believe in a God who loves each of us with a supernatural, pure, unfailing love.  He has an unimaginable army fighting for our souls with every breath we take and He. Is. Relentless.  Once you get to know Him, you will see that He does impossible things all the time.

Make a case against those who struggle with me, Eternal One.
Battle against those who battle against me. Be my shield and protection;
stand with me and rescue me!
Draw the spear and javelin to meet my pursuers.
Reassure my soul and say, “I will deliver you.” (Psalm 35:1-3)

How do we protect ourselves in this battle to win our hearts? Armor.

Soldiers don't go into war without preparation, training, and gear, right?  I'm talking helmet, sword, breastplate, boots, and shield (find out more details about this armor in Ephesians 6:10-18). We HAVE to cover ourselves in prayer everyday, we must live by our faith, there is no doubt we must read God's Word to know our true Commander-In-Chief.

I know what you've just read sounds a little crazy (or a lot crazy) but, I ask that you consider what I say is true. If there is a war happening for your heart, don't you want to know who's fighting for you?  And more importantly, what happens when there is a victory?

A Real Housewife of Wilsonville

With Mother's Day coming up, this probably isn't the best time to be writing this post but, this is a part of motherhood too... its not all lollipops and fruit snacks.  I spent the better part of my evening last night in tears struggling to find some solutions to create more peace and balance for my family.  Tears=passion not, weakness.
I wish I could be more of a Claire Huxtable but, I fit more into the Lucille Ball category (red hair and all).

I want to know how to fold laundry with my toes because my hands are occupied with homework help and dishes while coordinating my social calendar because my children are involved in multiple sports and after-school activities without forgetting to grocery shop, meal plan, and cook three meals a day (all healthy meals of course, pffftt).  And let's not forget to brush up on my refereeing skills because the many fights my loving children will have with each other will out number the gold fish cracker crumbs stuffed into the seats of my swagger wagon. Meanwhile, keeping up-to-date on the newest fashion trends and must-have Mom gadgets all with a smile on my face and keeping the dog from eating my shoe (#dexterno).  Oh yes, and let's not forget to exercise so that I can find the energy to keep my house as tidy as possible so when Better Homes and Gardens calls to confirm my photo shoot, I will be ready.
[insert eye rolling here]

Being a Mom is hard and I'm wondering why nobody ever talks about that at baby showers or the whole 9 months you are growing a child?  No one tells you that your sweet, adorable, angel of a baby might   someday scream at you with rage in their eyes and say "you are the worst parent in the world, I hate you!" and you are supposed to ignore the emotional punch to the gut because you are the adult afterall.

No amount of advice, child-rearing books, or girlfriend chats could have prepared me for the incredibly demanding job of being a Mom; this situation is a "throw her in the pool and hope she can swim" kind of scenario.  White picket fences?  No way.  More like "sharpie art" on the new couch.

Being a Mom is absolutely, without a doubt, not for the faint of heart.
BUT.  (you knew that was coming, right?)
Here are a few things I am learning through all of this chaos...

One.  I adore my children. Like seriously looooove them. The word love and all its meanings does not adequately envelop what I feel for my kids.  Yes, they drive me crazy at times and hurt my feelings on occasion but, I would do it over and over and over again a million times.  I am God's Nanny for these three blessings and I am so thankful for the job.
Two.  I owe my Mom a million apologies and I am so thankful she didn't ship me off to Neverland because I totally deserved it.  Thank you, Mum.
Three. I don't believe in that phrase "God only gives us what we can handle" and here's why... if God only gave us what we could handle, we wouldn't need Him and I. Need. Jesus.  I need him like I need air.

This weekend, I will reflect on my role as a Mom and ask myself what Leslie Knope asked the members of Pawnee recently,
"Am I better than I was a year ago?"
That is all I can do, improve on who I am and what I've been given.  I have to cut the crap of trying to be Carol Brady or June Cleaver and embrace my Lucy-ness.

I also get to honor my incredible Mom who has been an amazing example of grace, humor, love, generosity, and sweetness all rolled into one.  And, my Mother-in-law who has adopted me as her own, loves me endlessly, and continues to teach me so many things.

I also want to say the following:
To my husband.  Thank you for doing this parenting thing with me.  You are the mac to my cheese (yay!  cheese!)  And thanks for the late night froyo to clear up the tears last night.
To my Mama girlfriends.  You keep me sane with our Starbucks chats, our mani/pedi dates, our clearance rack shopping, watching my kids, scheduling playdates, bus stop walks and more.  You are my village (you know who you are) and I adore you.  May your Mother's Day be full of blessings.
To the Mommies By Heart.  For some of you, this holiday hurts.  Its a reminder of the months of negative pregnancy tests and heartache you feel longing for a child.  To you, I say thank you.  Thank you for smiling and listening genuinely to the stories of my kids, for asking about their well-being, and loving on my Babies.  You play a huge role in my life by reminding me that Motherhood is to be treasured and that I too once longed to be a Mama.  I can only pray, cry and hope alongside you until you celebrate your first Mother's Day.

Happy Mothers Day.
(who came up with this holiday anyway? I'd like to send them a Hallmark card.)

ps, Writing is such good therapy.

How to support your husband in 1 easy step!

This morning, I prayed something bold.  My request was that my husband would love the Lord more than his family, more than me.
LUKE 10: 27
Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind
Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. 
Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.
MARK 12:30Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.
When something is repeated multiple times, I listen.  In one simple act of obedience, love and support, we can pray this over our husbands.  That's it, just pray for your husband (or husband to be).  Pray that your husbands heart would be captured to love the Lord with all his soul, strength, and mind.

I want my husband to deeply know God more than anything else on earth.
I want my husband to find strength in the supernatural power of our God.
I want my husband to seek wisdom from the Almighty who has seen and heard it all from the beginning of time.
I want my husband to know the character of God and to strive to be more like Christ.

When my husband takes on the character of Christ, whoa Baby.  My Man is the sexiest thing on earth.  Go ahead, shout Amen, Lady Friends!  There is nothing more attractive to me than when my husband displays Godly character.

I challenge you Girlfriends, pray over your husbands daily.  Let me repeat... every single day, pray for your husband.  They fight battles we will never understand as women.  Our husbands have been established as the leaders of our home (Ephesians 5:22-33) and we need to come alongside of them to support them as best we can.

I understand some of you reading this may not have a strong marriage.  You may be at the end of your rope and ready to call it quits.  Take on my challenge.  Begin to pray over your husband, over your marriage.

There also may be someone reading this who has not yet met her Prince Charming.  You can still be praying over him!  (God knows exactly who he is, where he is and when you two will meet!  How exciting is that?)

I came across this great way to pray for your husband "from head to toe", by Sharon Jaynes:
Dear Lord, today I pray for my husband, from head to toe.
  • His Head –That he will look to You as Lord of his life. (1 Corinthians 11:13)
  • His Mind – That he will have the mind of Christ and think as the Holy Spirit would lead him and not the flesh. (1 Corinthians 2:16)
  • His Eyes –That You will keep his eyes from temptation and that he will turn his eyes from sin. (Matthew 6:13, Mark 9:47)
  • His Ears – That he will hear Your still small voice instructing him. (1 Kings 19:12, Psalm 32:8)
  • His Mouth – That his words will be pleasing to You. (Proverbs 19:14)
  • His Neck –That he will humble himself before You and be strong, courageous, and careful to do everything written in Your Word so that he will be prosperous and successful. (James 4:10, Joshua 1:8-9)
  • His Heart-That he will love and trust You with his whole heart. (Deuteronomy 6:5;  Proverbs 3:5)
  • His Arms-That You will be his strength. (Psalm 73:26)
  • His Hands-That he will enjoy the work of his hands and see it as a gift from You. (Ecclesiastes 3:13, 5:19)
  • His Ring Finger – That he will be true to our marriage vows and that our love will never wane. (Proverb 3:3; Malachi 2:16)
  • His Legs – That he will stand firm in his faith and not waver. (Psalm 62:6)
  • His feet – That You will order his steps and that he will walk in Your truth. (Proverbs 4:25, Psalm 26:3)
Who will join me in lifting up our husbands in prayer?  One simple step, prayer.  Would you please comment below if you will join me in this challenge?  I would love to pray over you and your marriage.
Lets watch God do His impossible things...

The Election, Death and Saying GoodBye

It has taken me a couple of weeks to process everything that happened the first couple weeks of November and honestly, I'm still not sure I understand it all or know how to put it into words.  I struggle with wanting to be completely transparent in my writing without sounding like a martyr or giving you an invitation to a pity-party you don't want to attend.  If there is anything I have learned deeply over the last few years is that
one can not appreciate the good without tasting the bad
There is a profound part of my being that wants so desperately to see the good in everything, ignore the pain and sadness, focus only on the happy.  I am a human being who longs for pure joy. It is built within my DNA to crave people, interaction, and find happiness.  Why do I struggle to grasp that perfection of bliss?  Wasn't I created to live in a world of perfection?
no sadness. no pain. no death. no doubt. no fear.
It all goes back to the story of this one couple who exercised their freewill in a garden a long, long time ago.  (ehem, Adam & Eve)  Freewill.  It is a gift given and revealed in my choices.  Some of my choices are on the right path which unveils snippets of that perfect world awaiting my entrance.  Then there are the not so great choices which drag me into a vulnerable state of insecurity, fear and doubt.  I do see how my choices are intermingled with the world around me and how I am molded by the choices of others.

What do I do with all of that?  How do I ignore the bad and focus only on the good?  I can't. You see, without all the bad and sad, I can't appreciate the glad (channeling my inner Dr. Seuss).
those who sow in tears shall reap in joy and singing
// Psalm 126:5 //

The first couple weeks of November were full of sadness and massive disappointment. The previous nine months of campaigning was an intense, enlightening experience.  The opportunity to meet so many people in our Community and dig into politics was/is quite an interesting journey.  My husband has always expressed his desire to be in politics but, I never could have imagined the process.  I could easily fill pages in a book about the people, the experiences, the emotions, and the sacrifices of walking through a political campaign.  When November 6th had finally arrived.  I was eager to greet the day with hope, anticipation, and excitement.  Everything we (Eric and our family) had been striving for was about to launch into the next chapter of our lives.

My focus on the election Tuesday morning would be heavily sidelined by 10am that morning.  I had received news that one of the high school students in our youth group had taken his life.  Talk about a punch to the heart.  The high school ministry, students, and members of my church family were thrown into a devastatingly sad and somber state.  Over the next couple of weeks, I would witness an
outpouring of compassion and love so intense
I still get chills thinking about it weeks later.  What an overwhelming blessing to be a part of a community of people who genuinely understand the hope that believing in something larger than all of us is an irreplaceable survival tool.  As I traveled through Tuesday with unpredictable emotions about the election and the loss of life, I relished in the fact that I am cherished by the King.

Tuesday evening came and the election took a turn that was completely unexpected.  Here is where I am still sorting out all that transpired over the last 9 months of our lives. Oh, the hours we spent analyzing and reviewing the campaign trail.  Coming out of the fog and disappointment we quickly realized that there was not one decision we would have done differently.  Eric ran his campaign with
uncommon integrity and class
When you start breaking down the numbers and percentages, Eric ran a phenomenal race.  He stood firm against compromise in his values and beliefs in an arena that is rough.  I walked into this campaign season with 100% confidence we were walking the path God had carved out for us.  It would be easy (and natural) to question why he didn't get elected.  The results were not what we expected but, I believe in a God who can do amazing things with the unexpected.  I refuse to put Him in a tiny box where he is confined to my limited ideals.

Photo taken in 2009
Later in the week, as I continued to process all of the emotions, I got a call from my family in California.  My last remaining grandparent had a stroke and she wasn't doing well. I had a sweet very memorable conversation with my Nana.  She is one hysterical, wise, loving Lady.  She hung up on me before I could say goodbye and my Dad called me back.  It was a bit curious that he had called me back and then it struck me... this might be "it" for Nana.  He handed her the phone again and all I could do was repeat a gazillion times, "I love you Nana.  I love you so much."  I'm sure I annoyed her, I couldn't find any other words.  Trying to keep it all together, my voice cracked (dagnabbit!)  Precious Poopsie says, "Now you stop that.  Stop it right now."  I burst out laughing and she began to sing a song she has always sung to me, "Bushel and a Peck".  Oh how I love this woman.  I HATED saying goodbye to her but, I know she is on her way to seeing Papa again and meeting Jesus face to face.  The sweetness of that reunion comforts me.  She is surrounded by my family and being loved on as she waits.

I adore my family and it is so difficult being away from them in tough times.  My Dad just began chemo treatments for a rare blood disorder (CAD).  I wait in anticipation of his healing and know my Dad is in good hands...the earthly kind and the heavenly kind.

If you will continue to read a little longer (I know this is a long post!), I wanted to share a little of my journal that I wrote a couple of weeks ago.  I was encouraged by the words as if they weren't mine but I was reading another persons writing.  I think sometimes when I pour my heart out onto a piece of paper, it is not necessarily for me in that moment but for the future me.
November 13, 2012
I am enjoying a quiet morning in a coffee shop.  Reflecting on all that has transpired in the last week.  I find myself resting in God's strength and hope.  I am learning that He gives me what I need each day.  He gives me daily doses of respite and blessings in the chaos.  Just when I think I can't take another disappointment or curve in the road of life, He lifts me up with a supernatural strength to face it.  I toughen up because its not my right to wallow in the sadness.  It is my responsibility to reveal God's strength, compassion, love, and joy.
May you be blessed as you walk through the trials that life brings so that you can appreciate the cherished blessings in your days.