how many times…

How many times is this puppy going to pee on the floor!?  He goes days now without accidents and then all of a sudden it’s as though he completely forgets that the potty is outside.  Lord help me.  Really though, help me Jesus.

Funny story (and most likely a complete overshare), when I get up in the middle of the night to let Chandler out, I usually also have to pee.  As everyone knows, even if you don’t have to pee laying down, you do have to pee once you stand up.  But being the good mom that I am, Chandler takes priority.  So while I’m standing outside with him, patiently waiting for him to do his business, I have to pee so bad that I practically fantasize about squatting right there on the lawn and peeing too.  Listen, I know I’m weird but this is my safe space.

On another note, my oldest son Charles has had his iPad taken away for all of infinity for what’s up to almost $130 in Robux charges for his dumb game!  I feel like I’ve been on the phone with apple for days.  The way they work is that not all their charges appear at the same time even though the purchases are made at the same time.  Odd, I know.  So every day, up comes a new charge and I have to spend a good deal of my morning rectifying the situation and it makes me mad all over again.  For those of you who might be thinking to yourself, “He’s just a 10 year old boy.  There’s no way he did it on purpose.” You are dead wrong!  He is a smart 10 and he knows the value of money.  He is so very much aware that he asks for iTunes gift cards for birthdays and holidays.  The kid knows.  After coming up with some cockamamie story about how the game must have “glitched out,” his father and I inspected the iPad to see if maybe I had accidentally taken off the password protection for purchases or something.  Needless to say, I did NOT.  Paul even tried making an in app purchase to make sure it required a password to complete.  It DID!  Once we went through these measures of testing, finally Charlie confessed.  He said he had learned the password without our knowledge and was making the purchases hoping that we wouldn’t notice.  That’s the funniest part I think.  We’re not flat broke, but we’re close enough ha!  We notice every dollar that goes in and out of our accounts.  Right down to the cents.  So how many times will these kiddos think they can be sneaky and not be found out!?  It just goes to show, we’re all born broken.

We’re smarter than our kids.  If Charlie was given the choice between eating this week or buying robux, something tells me, the kid would have chosen food.  $130 is the better portion of our weekly grocery bill.  $130 is enough money to pay both our gas and internet bills.  Between robux or internet, cooked food and dry clothes, I think he would have chosen the internet, cooked food and dry clothes.  But in the moment, he’s not thinking that.  He’s not thinking that he’s trading what’s ultimately better for what’s most satisfying only for a moment.  He’s just thinking about his immediate wants and desires.  How often we are the same.  God is infinitely smarter than we are.  What we think we need and what God knows we need are usually on two opposite ends of the spectrum.  As parents we are to guide and lead our children, to teach them what’s best and what’s better.  And as loving parents we allow our children to feel the full weight of the consequences of their actions.  To do anything less would be unloving.  And yet, we (or me) get angry with God when He won’t immediately do things our way.  Kids are never thrilled with discipline and neither are adults.  But it’s so necessary.

How unloving it would be of God to give us what we want, even when it means that it would result in us or someone we love, living eternally apart from Him.  He’s the greatest Father.  He’s better than even the best earthly father.  When God takes from us something good, it isn’t to cause us pain and suffering, it’s to give to us instead what is better.  It is always in Gods great mercy that He tells us “no” or “you’re done” or “it’s time to go.”  It is always the most loving thing He can do to allow us to suffer the consequences of our actions or even just to suffer period.  How else are we to learn what Grace is.  Many of us know the definition of Grace.  We preach it to friends and family and the unsaved, we even preach it to ourselves.  Many of us have a working knowledge of the “theory” of Grace, but far fewer of us have had the tangible experience of Grace.  It’s painful.  It hurts.  It requires some (a lot of) humbling.  But it’s the most beautiful thing.  Grace makes you grieve your sin.  Grace shows us why we need to depend completely on God.  It makes you feel the weight of your sin whilst simultaneously lifting it off of you.  Grace shows you Jesus face to face.  And when you know it, when you know Grace the way God intends, you have the unique ability to give it out.

We can give it out in so many way.  We can be gracious to strangers who cut us off in traffic.  (Put those birds away people!)  Grace gives us the ability to be compassionate on the leaders of ISIS; it gives us the ability to pray for their souls and deeply desire that the Holy Spirit does a work in their hearts.  (If you’re angered by that, the guy who wrote most of the New Testament is equivalent to a modern day terrorist.  There is no heart so hardened that God can not soften it.  Pray for your enemies.)  Lastly, (for this, but not actually lastly because there are an insane amount of ways to dole out Grace) we can give it to our spouses when they disappoint us and we can even parent by it.

Being a Holy Spirit filled, Jesus loving parent means that I get to show my kids the Grace and Mercy of a loving God by loving them through every imperfection and mistake and allowing them to suffer consequence.  I get to know that when they come out the other side of their 10, 7, 5 and 3 year old suffering, they’ll be one step closer to the people they’re supposed to be.  And hopefully they’ll be one step closer to their Father who loves them and desires eternity with them.  It’s necessary.  Correction and discipline are necessary for my kiddos and they’re necessary for me (you too).  I hate it when I’m in it, but I love it in the end.  And it’s important that my kids see my great and desperate need for Jesus so they will see their great and desperate need as well.  More importantly, I hope they realize, the desperation never ends.  There is no cap to the amount of times we’ll need Jesus.  It’s every time, all the time.  This side of Heaven I want to spend every single day desperate.  Desperate for more Jesus.  Thank God for Grace.

Perfection doesn’t exist in this home; we don’t even aspire to it.  We just have a lot of love and grace and merciful correction and desperation and sometimes the desire to pee out in the backyard next to the dog.

I’m out.  Running on Jesus and coffee y’all.

“For from His fullness we have all received Grace upon Grace.” John 1:16

 

a new desk, an audition and mothers day

I apologize for my absence!  My grandmother spent a week with me and it was absolutely lovely.  I woke up this morning (downstairs, on the couch where I’ve been sleeping with the puppy) expecting that she’d be down soon and remembered that she headed home yesterday.  It was quite a disappointment.  She’s one of those low maintenance guests that’s just as happy watching something on TV as she is going out to lunch and doesn’t expect to be constantly entertained.  She’s the best, so naturally, we had fun!  Before she arrived, she bought me my new desk!  I love it.  At some point today, I’ll be getting the bookcase I ordered to sit over in that corner on the right.  Things are coming together!!!

I had my audition for the worship team this past (not passed, right?) Saturday.  Unfortunately for you all, it didn’t go as horribly as I thought it would so there’s no real humor to this story.  I ended up not having the time to practice that I’d hoped to have.  Which I knew would happen because I had a guest and a baby puppy to tend to the week prior.  Neither of those things offer the hours a day I would usually take to practice.  Especially because during my practice time, I ignore everything and everyone ha!  My kids run a muck, my house gets destroyed and I don’t care.  Anyway, I almost didn’t go.  I was figuring that it would be a waste of everyone’s time because I felt so unprepared and inadequate and I definitely didn’t have the music memorized.  But I went anyway.  I think I was beyond nervous.  Terrified is a better adjective.  Turns out though, fear does wonders for my voice.  They’ll be sorely disappointed if they decide I have a place on their team because I don’t think I’ll ever sound that good again.  True to form, I did make a mistake or two on the piano.  Thankfully I’ve become a master at recovery, so it’s not usually a disaster.  I mean, sometimes it is but not this time.  Over all, the experience was a good one.  I still think they’ll take a hard pass but it won’t be because I was awful, it’ll just be because I’m not as experienced or as good as they all are.

All that aside, everyone who auditioned was invited to be part of a monthly “worship collective.”  Apparently anyone who considers themselves a “creative” and is using their gift for the kingdom, is welcome to come and fellowship with other creatives.  You share a meal, get to know other people in the community and worship together.  It’s funny because I have never considered myself (and still don’t) to be a “creative.”  The whole idea of it makes me uncomfortable.  If anything, I’m a copier.  I recreate other peoples art and it’s never as good as the original.  At this point in my life, I’ve written two and a half mediocre songs (well over a year ago) and only one did I actually use during a worship set.  I don’t even know if it was received well because I don’t look up from the piano ever.  So, definitely not a creative.  BUT even still, it’ll be nice to be part of a community where I can learn and hopefully greatly improve!  Maybe I’ll even make a friend or two.

After the audition, when I got home, (I don’t remember exactly how we got there.  I mean, I know we got there via car, I just don’t remember the events that led us to the store) all of us Carpenters and Grammy ended up in the HEB grocery store.  Fun fact: the “B” in HEB stands for “Butts” haha!  It’s H.E. Butts Grocery Co. The reason we were at HE Butts, I can’t recall.  Oh wait, I recall.  We went to MOD Pizza for dinner and then Grammy needed wine.  As it turns out though, she didn’t really need any wine.  I have 2 full bottles left over in my fridge and another bottle hanging out in my garage fridge.  But anyway, while we were there, Paul decided since Mother’s Day was the following day, he’d pick me up a card.  He did his absolute best to hide the card from me (which he succeeded at) and proceeded to tell me how great the card was.  My son Charlie also chimed in and said something like, “yea mom it’s a really great card, you’re gonna love it.”  Needless to say, I opened it the next morning expecting to love it and… I didn’t love it.  Instead, I cried.  In Paul’s defense, had this been any other Mother’s Day, I probably would have laughed.  But this Mother’s Day, following the stress and pure sacrifice of this move, I was far more emotional than usual.  My self righteous, sinful behind was thinking that I deserved some heartfelt thank you for moving here to Austin and at some point after knowing Paul picked out a card, I decided in my mind that Mother’s Day was the perfect day to receive that thank you.  Both thoughts, very wrong.  I opened my card on Mother’s Day and to my great dismay, there was no lovely thank you, at least not one I could read.  Instead it was filled with words that were completely unrecognizable to me with the exception of a big ole “LOL” written on the inside.  Because of the large Mexican culture down here in Texas, Paul thought it would be funny to get me a Spanish Mother’s Day card.  Paul thought wrong.

Ultimately I felt bad because it really wasn’t his fault that every other year for always I haven’t really cared much about cards or gifts.  And usually I appreciate a funny joke.  And it also wasn’t his fault that I’d decided I deserved some expression of thanks for moving here beyond what he’s already given me many times.  I wasn’t mean to him about it but I was visibly upset.  He felt really bad and he apologized that morning when we got to church (which made me feel worse).  After I talked to my mom about it she told me I needed to save the card forever so I dug it out of the trash where Paul had thrown it.  Upon further inspection, I realized that he hadn’t chosen this card just because it was in Spanish, but also because there was a small flap with part of Proverbs 31:28 on it.  It might have been in Spanish, but I knew what it said.  “Her children rise up and call her blessed…”  That’s the only part on the card but the rest of the verse says “…her husband also, and he praises her.”  Just this very moment, I’m realizing that the flap is actually a removable bookmark.  That’s gonna have to sit in my bible forever now.  At some point I’ll Google translate the rest of the card.  But for now it’ll be a reminder to me that I AM blessed and my husband DOES often praise me.  I don’t need a holiday to know that I am appreciated and loved far beyond what I deserve.

In fact, this past weekend was one of the most fun weekends we’ve had since we moved in!  Grammy offered to babysit so that Paul and I could have a date night, so naturally we got out of there as fast as we could!  It had been probably months since we’d gone out just the two if us.  I actually think the last time was for my brothers 30th birthday back in February.  That doesn’t really count as a date night though because we spent most of the evening apart, socializing and had to leave early because Paul was flying to Texas early the next morning to house hunt.  Anyway, we had a real date night Friday night.  I have to say, it was probably the absolute best date night we’ve ever been on.  Instead of doing the usual boring Long Island thing where we’d go to dinner and see a movie, we actually went and did some things we’d never done before.  We saw an improv comedy show at this adorable theater that had a small café up front (I had a banana and Nutella stuffed pretzel that was sinfully good) and then we went and walked all over 6th street.  They close down the entire street.  For my Long Island locals, it’s like Patchogue’s Alive After Five but on steroids.  We had a drink at one of the many bars and ate some street pizza..  They don’t cook it in the street or anything ha!  You walk up to a window at a pizzeria and get a slice to go and eat while walking down the street.  It was crispy and delicious until I got to the crust.  Crust is my favorite.  This crust was not.  We were in the city early enough that it wasn’t complete pandemonium.  I’ve heard it gets pretty crazy there as the night progresses.  I’m sure it has to do with the one million bars.  I’m not even kidding, if you tried to do a 6th street bar crawl, you would die before the night was over.  DIE.  Fortunately Paul and I chose to avoid death and had a lovely evening enjoying each others company instead.  Oh, we were also home by 11pm and the entire night cost us less than $75.  New York date nights were upwards from $150.  So I mean, we were fiscally responsible AND home at a decent hour.  That’s a total win!

That’s all for now, y’all be good now ya hear!?  Ha ha!  I’m sorry for that.  I don’t know what’s happening to me.

Keep on running on Jesus and coffee.

 

short and sweet

Let me just start off by saying that this little pup pooped all over me within the first fifteen minutes of being ours.  So there’s that.  We had an hour and a half drive home from the farm(ish place) he was living on and I watched him go outside before the gentleman handed him to me forever.  Guess that didn’t matter.  Because within fifteen minutes of being on the road, this little boy took many pieces of a large doody on me.  This is puppy poop.  So it’s wet.  And it’s mushy.  And it’s definitely not the kind of poo you just pick up and be done.  I think that poop will live in the fiber of my clothes forever, which is super disappointing.  He pooped all over my favorite pair of jeans.

This is how life with this baby boy began.

Are we excited for the future?  I can’t say that I am.

I can tell you though, he was very upset about what was happening.  Poor guy tried to hold it in so bad!

Tonight will be Chandler pups third night home and I am so very tired.  I am FAILING at crate training.  The first night he was home, he slept with me on the couch downstairs all night.  He was up every 2 hours to go potty.  This is more often than my human infants woke up to nurse!  Listen, I’m not gonna feel bad about it anymore.  I have four kiddos, they’re ALL awesome sleepers and always have been.  I must’ve had that good milk.  I’m sorry to the mommas who are still being interrupted by their kids every night.  But those days of sleeping children are all gone for me now so.  Don’t be too jealous.  Now I have Chandler.  He’s made it very clear that he only wants to sleep in my lap or on my chest or in my arms.  Currently he’s curled up in a blanket on my lap, snoring away.  It’s very cute.  HE is very cute.

So night one, no crate.  Night two, he was crated from about 11 pm to 2:30 am and then I just couldn’t take it anymore.  I didn’t want to leave him in there crying because I was afraid I wouldn’t know the difference between “potty” crying and “please snuggle me I don’t want to be in here” crying and he would poop and pee all over his crate and it would be al l my fault.  Between 11 and 2:30 I took him out probably 3 times to pee.  2 times were completely unnecessary but what did I know!?  I can’t tell the difference between his cries!  So he’s being spoiled and I’m failing and I’m weak and I’m the worst puppy mom.  Help me Jesus!  Really.  Please Lord help!

Enough with Chandler.  Okay, maybe one more thing.  Chandler was named after my favorite preacher of all time (though I’m really beginning to love the preachers at my church the same way), the one and only, Matt Chandler.  Ha!  You may think it’s ridiculous that I would name my dog after a pastor that I’ve never met and don’t know, but here’s the thing.  Matt Chandler is something like 6’5” and he’s always talking about how tall and gangly he is and how uncoordinated he was in high school.  Well, what better name for my soon to be tall, gangly, uncoordinated Great Dane!?  It really is perfect.  And you know what?  With a name like Chandler, he’ll certainly be anointed by the Lord to preach the Gospel unapologetically to all the dogs in the greater Austin area?  Who doesn’t want to see dogs in heaven!?

NOW, enough with Chandler.

I received my email from the Austin Stone Worship people about the songs I need to have prepared for them.  They’re good songs.  You can listen to them here and here.  But here’s the thing.  They “suggested” keys for me to sing them in.  How strong are these “suggestions.”  Is it like, “hey, here’s an idea of what keys women usually sing these in, but by all means, sing where you’re comfortable.”  Or is it more like, “hey’ we’re only looking for women who fit into this range category so make it work or stay home.”  For my musical peeps, they suggest I sing “You Never Change” in E or D and “Build My Life” in D or C.  I’m a solid Alto.  If we want to be really honest, I’m a tenor.  Ha!  I mean, I can get up there.  But it’s not pretty.  And it’s definitely not gonna get me on anyone’s worship team.  To give my less musical people a visual, here is how it works.  A, B, C, D, E, F, G are some keys.  For one song they suggest I be in the key of E or D and I need to be down at A or B.  And for the other they suggest D or C and I’m comfortable down at, yet again, A or B.  If you look at my little alphabet list there, where I’m comfortable is 2-3 keys below their suggestion.  So, what in the world do I do!?  I’m pretty sure that I also have to have them committed to memory.  No music.  So I can’t be remembering more than one version of each song!  It’ll be crazy!  I’m going to be like Chandler on that first car ride home.  Pooping my pants.  At least I’ll have pants to catch all the poop.

This is going to be insanity.  I promise.

Also, this past Sundays sermon was awesome.  Ya’ll need to watch it here.  So so so good.

I’m out.  Maybe I’ll shower.  Definitely gonna have more coffee.  Hopefully I can shower.

Running on coffee and Jesus y’all.

untitled

I just spent the last 10 minutes crawling all over my living room trying to figure out what the weird humming noise I’m hearing is.  I’m thinking a phone is on vibrate somewhere ringing off the hook, a gaming system was left on, something!!!  Is there a weird humming animal living in my walls already!?  Then out of no where, I remembered I turned on the washer upstairs.  It’s doing its little agitate thingy.  Time has been wasted, time I can never get back.  Moments like this make me feel like a big moron ha!  Anyone with me?

Before I was a blooming idiot, I was actually pretty productive this morning.  I got up, showered (this is never a given, I’m pretty gross), fed the kids breakfast, made my bed, googled “what’s the best dog food for a Great Dane puppy” for the 900th time like the results are going to change, and… well, I think that was pretty much it.  But I did things!  Oh wait, I forgot.  The whole point of my list was to say I also completed day 1 of a squat/plank challenge I’m doing with some ladies I don’t know from the Austin area who are part of the same Facebook group.  I did my 15 second plank, shaking the whole time cuz I’m a weakling these days.  After the plank, I did my 20 squats.  I did some serious squats.  20.  That’s all.  Can I tell you, I am already feeling them!  That’s so sad.  Also, it probably doesn’t help that with every squat I heard a series of crunching sounds in my legs.  No pain, just crunch.  It was like listening to a crotchety old rocking chair.  This is 32 I guess.

About a year and a half ago, God totally freed me from my addiction to food.  It was pretty incredible.  I didn’t notice for a few days that I’d been eating significantly less until I made these delicious banana muffins that I love and I only ate one.  All day.  Just the one.  I used to eat 3 or 4.  Not in a sitting (at least not usually), but throughout the day.  I would salivate over the thought of them so I’d help myself to more.  Well one day, I only had one.  It was kind of a miracle for me.  I’ve always gone up and down with my weight since I was a teenager.  I never minded exercise.  I was kind of athletic.  By that I mean, I played sports but I played them badly.  All in all though, I was active.  I never hated that part.  Fitness activities are enjoyable to be.  Maybe not getting started after a long hiatus, but once I’m going, I love it.  So, being active, not really a struggle.  Food though.  Yummy delicious food.  That’s where I fall short.  Every.  Single.  Time.  At least I used to.  With some will power I could force myself to eat better and to eat less.  For a time.  Ultimately though, I would end up totally gorging myself on a meal or a snack and I’d be back in the cycle of putting on weight.  My body craved the food.  Not even sweets, food.  Like, I would prefer an enormous bowel of buttery mashed potatoes to a slice of cake.  Savory over sweet any day.  Except, you know, THOSE days.  Then chocolate please.  I had lost about 60lbs doing nothing.  I was totally free.  Free still today.  But…

This past summer, my brother was diagnosed with cancer.  He is completely healed and he’s all good now, praise the Lord.  But July, August and September were kind of a nightmare.  I spent a great deal of time driving back and forth between New York and Virginia, living in hotels, eating whatever could be microwaved.  I put on about 10lbs.  Not because I was overeating so much as I just wasn’t eating well and I was super sedentary.  I wasn’t really worried about it because I knew once I was home, things would regulate and I’d be back to normal.

But things didn’t really get back to normal.

Once I got home for good and things started to settle down, then the conversations about moving away started.  I already told you that by November I knew we were leaving.  Well from November to the day I left in March, I ate like the completely depressed, angry person I was and I put on an additional 15lbs.  The weird thing about it was that I wasn’t craving any of the food I put in my mouth.  I didn’t even really want it.  It was like God was telling me I was free and I was telling Him I didn’t care.  It was a strange feeling.  I knew I didn’t want to eat the garbage I was eating, nor did I want to eat the quantity of it that I was consuming, but I did it anyway.  It’s not the first time (and I’m sure it won’t be the last time) that I have lived with such a rebellious heart.  God freed me from my addiction to cigarettes so many years ago now, but I’ve found myself smoking since.  I’m just a wretch.  Why!?  I don’t want it, I don’t crave it, I just do it anyway.

When I think about the times in my life I’ve gone back to my slavery (a little Israelites in the desert reference there), it’s always at a time when I’m really frustrated with the direction God is taking me.  Mad.  Down right angry.  It’s always at a time, when I’m so annoyed that I’d rather drag myself back to my chains than let God be God.  I spent November to March pretty angry and I punished no one but myself.  It’s the human way, isn’t it?  I’ll show you God, I’ll put on 25lbs.  Thank you very much.  I’m talking about food here but it’s a thousand other things too.  Kelley, love your husband.  Nope.  I’ll be bitter and mean instead.  Kelley, move to Texas.  Nope.  Well fine.  But I’m going to be angry at you forever.  Even in my obedience I sin!

Looking around in my living room for the sound my washer was making, isn’t what makes me an idiot.

But God…

But God!  You know, that’s why I keep going back.  I have never known anyone to be more patient, kind, gentle, loving, the list goes on.  I live my life sometimes (most times) with the attitude that if I’m faithful and obedient then God will be my idea of good.  I don’t even mean to.  I know that’s not the gospel.  Lets be real, for every time I’m faithful or obedient, there are 4 million times I am not.  And my idea of what’s good has proven time and time and time again to be the exact opposite of what is actually good.  When do we learn?  How can he love such a mess? Still, in my blatant opposition to Him and His plan, He loves me all the way home, right into His sweet embrace.  Not only does He love me, but He equips me.  He gives me every single thing I need to move forward and get through, reminding me over and over that this is not about me.  There is a greater purpose at hand.  Die to self.  Kill your flesh.  I Am.  Only I, am the source of your joy.  This is how God is with me.

All.  The.  Time.

As irritating as it can be, it’s also an absolute blessing.  He knows that I need Him to constantly strip everything away from me.  I love my comfort.  I am selfish.  I want what I want.  He knows that giving it to me would be cruel.  He knows that giving it to me would ultimately push me so far away from Him.  How selfish am I that I’d have rather kept my family cramped in a teeny tiny house on Long Island just so I could be close to my friends!?  (Friends that God Himself provided by the way).  I’d have rather my husband gone to work and hurt himself over and over everyday to pay the bills back in New York than to leave and start a life somewhere else.  What kind of person am I?

I haven’t had a good cry since before I left New York.  But boy am I crying now.

Tears of joy.  Tears of gratefulness.  Tears that recognize my great great need.   Tears of repentance.  Tears that know this isn’t the last time I’ll fail.  Tears that know this is far from the last time God will extend to me His Grace.  Tears that know everyday He is transforming me more and more.

My heart breaks for those that don’t know this love.

We are all holding on to something.  It’s something we love.  It’s something we feel like we can’t live without.  Something we think will destroy us if we loosen our grasp on it even slightly.  Maybe its a person, or an identity, an offense.  Could be a job.  Guilt.  Shame.  Maybe it’s a talent or a hobby or something else not overtly sinful.  Whatever it is, it’s still sin.  Sin is, simply put, anything that separates us from God, anything we put before Him.  God is always better.  Anything He wants to take from us is never to make us miserable.  It’s always for our joy and His glory.  It’s for our flourishing and the sovereignty of His great name.  I’m preaching to myself as I write all of this.  Get out of His way and get back in His Will!

We can’t see even one minute into the future but God sees it all.  He is present in it all.  He knows the ultimate outcome if we choose not to let go.  We don’t know the outcome of our day, let alone our life.

Today I’m praying for you to let it go.  Let go and let God…

I’m out.  Running on Jesus and coffee y’all!

Ephesians 3:14-21 “For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.  Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us,  to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.”

 

 

 

 

parties and puppies

Guys, I like it here.  I mean, I wish you were all here with me and the fact that you’re not makes me hate it.  But I only hate it a little.  I kind of mostly love it here.  Driving a distance to the grocery store only makes me more intentional about my shopping and forces me to be organized.  Really that was my only true gripe anyway, that and having no friends.  That still stinks but in time I’ll either make friends or get used to the lonely life.  I do feel like I have these moments where I want to talk to people and then there are no people there to talk to.  That REALLY stinks.  That’s why I started this blog though, so I can talk to my people without actually talking.  And people that aren’t my people can also read it and judge me harshly for my complaining and incessant whining.  It’s okay, I have Jesus so I am virtually unoffendable.  Judge on judgers, judge on.  (Just kidding, please don’t judge me.)

This Saturday I had my family from Houston out for Philomena’s 5th birthday celebration and it was so fun.  I love my family.  Did I fail to mention I have great family 2 and a half hours from me?  Yea that’s cuz they’re close enough for a visit here and there but not close enough to see all the time, so it’s kind of a mean trick God is playing on me.  Anyway, they were all here and we had so much fun.  It’s crazy how when you have a bond with people, it doesn’t matter how far the distance, or how much time passes between visits, you just fit.  You’re comfortable.  There’s no show to put on, no faking it, just authenticity all around.  It’s a beautiful thing and I am so grateful for it.

I know I’m going out of order here, but Thursday was Phil’s actual birthday so we spent the day out and about Austin.  There’s this really great (and free) place, Austin Nature & Science Center, that we visited and had an absolute blast.  For my Long Islanders, its kind of like a really cool hybrid between Yaphank Farm and the Holtsville Ecology Site except there’s a creek that the kids can splash around and play in (next time I’ll be better prepared with towels) and an area where they can dig up huge dinosaur fossils.  So it’s like those two things but way better.  Come visit me and I’ll show you.  Every single one of my kids loved it, so that’s always a win.  Usually I have at least one dragging along complaining that they’re having an awful time.  This trip, there was no such kid and no melt downs what-so-ever.  Praise the Lord for small miracles.

On Friday I did all my party prep.  I ordered my groceries online and picked them up “curb-side” which is a huge time saver when it takes and hour just to get to and from the store and then I got to the prep work.  Can I just tell you, I have so much counter space that I was losing things on the counter.  I’d be looking for a spice or ingredient or something that I plopped down somewhere far away from where I was standing.  That is a glorious problem to have.  Coming from a little 3 foot strip of counter space, my kitchen here in Austin is quite an upgrade.  QUITE an upgrade.

While I was prepping, I heard a knock at the door.  This is not uncommon.  We moved into a new construction home in a new construction neighborhood so we have people trying to sell us things all the time.  We’ve had people trying to sell us water filtration systems, solar panels, power washing services, lawn care, all kinds of things.  So when I opened the door, I was all prepared to respectfully decline whatever this guy was peddling.  Needless to say, I did NOT decline, I signed up ha!  One of my big issues/fears about moving to such a warm climate was roaches.  In New York, you have to be beyond  careless with your cleaning or you have to live in an apartment building where a neighbor is gross.  Sorry if I’m offending anyone, but come on!  Roaches?!  That’s like a “shame on both your houses” situation.  It’s a mark of complete filth back in New York ha!  Anyway, I learned that in warmer climates, no one is exempt.  The clean and dirty alike can end up in a roach infested home.  So when this knock came to my door, I was already primed.  A lovely gentleman named Cory, from Brooklyn, New York (I took this as a sign) stood at my door wearing an “EnviroGuard” t-shirt.  Let me just tell you what he was selling me.  He was selling me a chemical free, kid and pet friendly pest control that included but was not limited to, ants, fire ants, spiders, wasps, roaches, scorpions (WHAT!?), earwigs, mosquitoes, termites and fleas.  YES PLEASE!  You had me at roaches but I hate earwigs and ants too!  Sign me up sir!  You knocked on the right door today!  My first treatment is free and then they come back every two months for all of eternity to keep up with the treatments.  Yes, yes, yes, yes, YES.  And seriously with the scorpions!?  Geez.  Where am I?  Paul wasn’t home and I didn’t even think to check with him, that’s how excited I was.  When he got home, all I had to say was “they spray for mosquitoes” and he was right on board the EnviroGuard train.

Now skipping to Sunday.  Church.  Man oh man with this church!  These sermons cut you right to the core.  So SO amazing.  Even the most mature, wonderful, loving Christian would not be exempt from the beautiful conviction they bring to your soul.  The sermons not up on YouTube yet but when it is, I’ll link it on my Facebook page.  Its good man.  Really good.  Lemme go grab my sermon notes and I’ll give you the highlights.  Okay I’m back.  We’ve been in the book of Jonah and the pastoral staff has been doing an incredible job of making connections to show it’s relevance to today.  One of my favorite quotes was “The biggest offender of the mission of God is the church herself.”  Is it awful that I can’t remember my pastors name?  I think its Taylor.  Nope, just checked, it’s Tyler.  Tyler David.  So Tyler spoke about how sometimes, it’s the people who think they’re closest to God that offend the gospel the most.  Jonah was a prophet.  He loved the Lord, he preached of His salvation but when God asked him to step out and go somewhere he didn’t want to, Jonah set out in the other direction, in complete rebellion to the mission of God.  This was a man who had heard God’s voice, a man known as a prophet of God.  Jonah had a lack of love and compassion for the people of Nineveh.  This was apparent.  So the whole sermon was about missional living and how we need to repent of our lack of love for others, risk the outcome of the mission God has given you (cuz being a Christian is painful in more ways than one) and remain steadfast through it.  Mission hurts.  The whole point of the sermon was that we as Christians are to live on mission.  That looks a little different for everyone, but if we’re not out sharing the love of Jesus with the world, something is very lacking.  If we’re more concerned with our comfort and what we want, then we lose.  We ALL lose.  The sermon was so much more than my 2 second summary and I would definitely encourage everyone to watch it!  I’ll post it, I promise.

Over the last several months, God has broken my heart for 2 specific people groups.  I definitely don’t think it’s coincidence that He saw fit to move me here.  But I’m not ready to share just yet, cuz I’m not ready to do anything.  Frankly, I’m not sure how to start.  But I promise I’m not hopping on a boat to Tarshish (I mean maybe…).  I’m just waiting.  I’m waiting to hear more from the Lord and I’m waiting to get over some of this fear.  There will be risk.  Big risk.

And then after church, we drove down to San Antonio and we picked out a puppy.  A Great Dane puppy.  I can’t say no to my husband.  It’s a problem.

More on that later.

Till next time, I’ll be over here running on Jesus and Coffee.

 

 

 

All the Laundry and a Mini Sermon

This is an actual picture of the laundry I’m not currently folding.  I will.  Just not now.

Also, I tore through it this morning looking for a shirt dress that was hanging up in my closet.  That’s why it’s all over my couch. So if you could imagine that transpiring, you’d probably get a good laugh.

Thanks  to an incredibly generous housewarming gift I have this pretty amazing washer and dryer.  They’re ENORMOUS.  (You can see the washer here and the dryer here.)  Their incredible size is great when you have 6 people wearing clothes everyday and even some people, very small people, who like to wear multiple outfits everyday.  Eh hem… my daughters.  Fashionista 1 and fashionista 2.  In fact, my 3 year old will occasionally tell me she’s “doing fashion.”  I mean really that’s the reason I don’t always get dressed, to keep the laundry volume down.  I have to, having a large washer means laundry less often, but larger loads and more folding all at once.

Anyway, sometimes I wonder how I ended up with these girls.  Anyone who knows me, knows that I’m not especially “girly.”  I mean, I wear dresses but mostly because they’re easy and I’m lazy.  Really very lazy.  And also I’m very tall so dresses wear well on my body type.  Oooo OOOOOO, I just thought of a great thing about Texas!  I can wear all my summer dresses pretty much all year round!  #winning Anyways, my idea of make-up is some ChapStick and a coat or two of mascara.  My nails are never done.  My toes are painted (badly) by yours truly but that’s only because you CANNOT go out in sandals with bare toes.  It’s awful.  If you are someone who is breaking this rule, you must IMMEDIATELY head to your local Target (because unlike me, you probably have one) and buy your self some Essie nail polish and a good top coat.  You can thank me later.

I guess the point I’m trying to make here is that I am not girly and as a result I don’t know how to handle these GIRLS!

I’m a boy mom to the core.

This post is kind of gonna end up all over the place here but I’m trying to avoid folding laundry, so bare with me.  My sister just sent me a text.  To give you some background, my sister is 15 years old and in 10th grade.  This is the text I receive, “you should give me a good summary of Luke 4:13.”  To which I replied, “why? for why?”  I meant to say “for what” but I messed up and for authenticities sake I’m telling you my typo.  She then says, “it’s for English.”  So here’s my gripe.  I have no issue with the Bible being taught as literature; it is indeed a piece of literature.  But if we’re being honest here, and we always are, the Bible is the ONLY book that, when being studied as literature, educators teach out of it’s full context.  It’s infuriating.  No one would be teaching To Kill a Mocking Bird or A Tale of Two Cities by picking one line and say “summarize this.”  I mean really! “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of light, it was the season of darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair.”  Okay, go!

If you’ve never read anything else about or from A Tale of Two Cities, this quote could be referencing literally anything and anyone.   Truly.  This could be referencing the political climate in America!  You get my point.

Luke 4:13 is found at the end of the recounting (by Luke) of Jesus’ temptation in the desert.  The entire encounter Christ has with Satan is significant; not just for contexts sake but for the entire Christian faith!  (I could totally get all theological over here but for the sake of time and your sanity, I won’t.)  Luke 4:13 says, “And when the devil had ended every temptation, he departed from him until an opportune time.”  My sister was asked to summarize this verse.  Though we do learn something about the devil here, without context, we don’t even know who the “he” is!  I know my sisters knowledge of scripture.  It’s little to none.  I’m not saying this to insult her.  She’s 15 and she’s been to church 12 times her whole life.  But that is EXACTLY my point.  Other than the fact that the Bible is thought to be by Christians, the inherent Word of God (and maybe they don’t even know that), I’d say most 15 year olds have no idea about any information surrounding the entire Bible, let alone one verse in the book of Luke that some teacher thought sounded rad (I’m assuming this teacher is a young hipster who thinks Austin is rad too) and ominous.

Okay, my rant is over.

But lets head back to A Tale of Two Cities for a second.  Isn’t it incredible that we, humanity, are having some of the same issues today in 2018 that they were having in 1859?  I mean if that doesn’t speak to the depravity of man and our need for a Savior, I don’t know what does!  The parallels are just remarkable.  159 years of forward progress and we’re exactly where we’ve already been.  Government can’t save you, the president can’t save you, revolt can’t save you, politically motivated protests can’t save you, being nice can’t save you, giving to the poor can’t save you, helping out your neighbor can’t save you.  Neither can going to church, tithing, serving on a church board, loving your children, loving your spouse, taking care of your elderly parents, adopting a child, saving the environment or the whales or a million other “good” things we could do.  Our depravity is too great and even our goodness has selfish motives.  We are a tainted, jaded SINFUL people who need a perfect, loving, sympathetic Savior (thanks to what it says in Luke 4).  Thank you Jesus. Amen, amen, amen.

Today I’m just running on Jesus y’all!

Ugh, I forgot about the laundry…

 

Today I Brushed My Teeth

Okay, I don’t want anyone getting all judgy on me.  Or maybe it’s judgey? Whatever, who really knows anyway?  It’s not even an actual a word.

Brushing my teeth is usually, almost always, a priority.  But I don’t like to drink my coffee with minty fresh breath, so I wait to brush until after I drink at least my first cup.  Sometimes this means I get distracted and don’t end up back in my bathroom brushing my teeth until 3pm.  So, they DO get brushed, just not always at 7am.  And this morning, after I made my bed (cuz my Grammy always told me a room looks tidiest when a bed is made) and got dressed, I brushed.  Be proud, cuz lets be real, I don’t always get dressed either.  This morning so far has been a big W.

Needless to say, now my coffee is a peppermint latte and I’m drinking it anyway.

Currently my “office” is my kitchen table.  I have this lovely open floor plan downstairs with space for a little office nook.  I’m going to have to put it together in pieces though, because, you know, funds.  We moved from a house with just over 700 square feet to a house that’s just under 2,500 square feet; we definitely did not move in with enough furniture to fill it.  And in our tiny house, I definitely didn’t have any office space.  I’ve ordered an area rug for the space in our new house because it was 70% off and who can pass up a deal like that?  But I probably should have ordered a desk first, specifically this one.  So here I am, at the kitchen table, drinking coffee out of my cacti mug.  If you can’t read it, it says “can’t touch this” and I love it.

My friend Rachel gave me this mug the night before I pulled away in a car full of things and kids… forever…. whaaaaaaaaaaa.

What’s worse than moving, is moving!  I’m still trying to figure out which grocery store is best, because no matter which one I choose, they’re all 50 miles away.  That’s an exaggeration but really it’s not.  It takes me between 20 and 30 minutes to get to any main store but it does feel like and hour.  I do thankfully have a little market style store around the corner that I can go grab milk and eggs from but for a real food shop, I’m driving.  The craziest thing is that I’m a driver guys/y’all!  I drove from New York to Texas like cake!  I’ve driven from New York to Florida and back, every year for the last 8 years!  And this most recent time, I drove home straight through!  But driving around here makes me sleepy.  I’m in the car for 5 minutes and I’m fighting to stay alert.  It must be all the land and cows.  I’m probably counting cows during the drive and lulling myself off to sleep!  Back on Long Island, I could throw a baseball and hit the grocery store.  Well I couldn’t.  But someone who can throw could.  AND to boot, I just found out they opened a little mini Target right next to that grocery store!

I miss you Target.  I love you Target.  Why are you doing this to me Target!?

To be fair, Austin does have Targets.  But they’re all so far from meeeeeee!  Can you hear me whining?  Because I am.

As you can see, I’m adjusting well.

The other thing I’m struggling with is that I miss worship.  Obviously I can still worship but I miss leading worship.  I miss it a lot.  As luck would have it (or not), the second Sunday that we attended our new church, they posted an announcement in the bulletin that they would be holding auditions for musicians to join their worship team!  This sounded nerve wracking but wonderful!  I signed up!

I’m dumb.  I should not have signed up.

The word “musicians” should have been my first hint.

Initially I thought, “Great!  I’ll pick something I do really well and I’ll be fine!”  Well, then I got their follow up email.  The email pretty much said, “Thanks for signing up.  You’ll receive the time slot for your audition and the songs you’ll need to have prepared in an email we’ll send out on May 5th.  See you May 12th.”  This is not good!  I get a single week to prepare songs I don’t even know in keys I’m not sure of.  And to boot, I didn’t give myself enough time to actually watch them play.  So this passed Sunday I started to notice things like, they don’t have music in front of them and everyone up there, even the singers, are all also playing an instrument (so I probably can’t just be a singer) and they’re good, like really good.

I love worship and I have passion for it, but I’m not good.  I need music in front of me at all times!!!!  If there’s no music, where am I supposed to look!?  I couldn’t ever even possibly look at the congregation!  And also, on a scale from 0 to cool, they’re all cool.  I’m a solid 3.  A solid lame 3.

[Let’s just sidebar for a second.  Before we moved to Austin, all the young people we knew, like my brother and his friends and other people who are childless and well traveled and younger than Paul and I, would tell us how “rad” Austin is.  That’s the real word they would use.  Rad.  And Paul and I would joke about how we were too old for “rad.”  Austin’s rad-ness did not leave me feeling more encouraged about this move ha!  This is because I, am not rad.  I have never been rad.  I don’t think rad is in my future.  Paul was probably rad once.  But that too is no longer.  Bottom line, we’re not rad.  So my aunt called me the other day and was saying how she was going to come visit in the fall and how by then I should know all the cool places in Austin.  This phone conversation made me realize that my aunt doesn’t even know me at all!  What was she thinking?!  It’d be a miracle if Paul and I even got out on a date before she visits in the fall.  (I have no babysitter.)  When she comes, I will likely be able to show her all the family friendly and very not rad places in Austin and then make her babysit.  Sorry to disappoint, Aunt Cris.]

The Austin Stone Worship team is rad.  And I don’t know if you can tell, but I’m really insecure about this, because not only am I not rad, I’m not a musician.  The title of this post should have been “Today I Brushed My Teeth and Also I’m Freaking Out!”  There will definitely be a post up May 13th titled, “Humiliation 101: How to never make any friends ever.”  You can be assured of that.

The big question is, what does God want me to DO here!? Cuz right now, it’s a whole lot of driving and freaking out.  I don’t think that’s part of His good plan.  I mean maybe.

Don’t get used to these daily posts… because I can’t imagine I’ll keep up such a rigorous writing schedule.

I’m out… running on Jesus and coffee y’all.

 

In the Beginning…

I’m gonna take you back to the fall of 2017, a cool November day (I’m pretty sure) in New York.  That day, I had plans with my lovely friend Caitlin for a much needed and way overdo get together.  What I didn’t know was that the Holy Spirit would whisper a little something to me while I was chatting with her in her kitchen.  Had I known, I probably wouldn’t have gone.  Really.  I’m not even kidding with you.

I. Would. Not. Have. Gone.

Standing in that kitchen, we were talking about the incredible friendships God had given me and how I felt so blessed to be part of such a support system of amazing women, FINALLY!  I was telling her how I had waited years and years for the kind of relationships I had at that moment.  They were (are) the kinds of friends that love you so much that they’re not afraid to call you out on your junk, the kinds of friends that strengthen you and build you up, the kinds of friends that really listen, the kinds of friends that don’t go around gossiping about the things you’ve shared but instead, cherish the intimacy that you have with each other and would never do anything (at least not intentionally, I mean they’re not super human) to break the bond you share.  I told Caitlin all of this.  No sooner did the last word leave my lips, I heard a whisper, “and now it’s time to leave them.”  I’m pretty sure I cried.  Caitlin could tell you whether or not that’s true.  But I’m pretty sure I did, right there where I stood in her kitchen.  Okay I’m definitely sure I cried because I knew what that whisper meant.  My heart broke.  So I had to have cried.  And even if I didn’t cry then, I cried rivers after.

You see, over that summer, my husband had gotten this insane idea to move to Texas.  This was no shock to me because every year or so we’d end up having a conversation where Paul would tell me that he hates Long Island and he wants to leave the state and blah, blah, blah.  (I never actually said, “blah, blah, blah” cuz that would be rude but it is kind of how I felt.)  So I heard him this time too but I thought it’d be the same as all the other times.  Well, it was NOT the same.  This time it kept coming up.  After all, there were 6 of us in a 2 bedroom 700 square foot home with only one bathroom and a very tight kitchen.  We knew we’d been exceeding max capacity for a while.

[A little off topic here, but when Paul and I decided that we’d homeschool the kiddos, I did crazy google searches for “homeschooling in a tiny house” and “homeschooling 4 kids with no space.”  I am not exaggerating when I tell you that the smallest home I found was still DOUBLE the size of mine.  It was hysterical.  Really, I would find myself laughing out loud, reading some of the space problems people were writing about, and I’d wonder what in the world God had me doing.  I was surely crazy.  Also, another quick sidebar.  As I’m writing this I’m listening to my kids play on our stairs, some game they made up 2 seconds ago and I hear my 3 year old all of a sudden let out this “whaaaaaaaa.”  This is not uncommon for her.  She’s the youngest and she’s a little bit of a monster, so there’s a lot of whining and crying that comes out of her tiny mouth.  But can I just tell you, that “whaaaa” that usually turns into a cry and a “mommaaayyyyy” just stayed a continuous uninterrupted “whaaaaaaa” for a solid 20 seconds! Ha!  Her pitch was unchanged the whole time!  I did not see this, but I can just imagine her, sitting on a step, head cocked all the way back, mouth open, yelling at the ceiling… “whaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa.”  The best part is that after she was finished making that elongated siren sound, she got up, whizzed passed me and ran out into the backyard where she is still playing.  I’m pretty sure this kid gets her crazy from her momma.  I apologize if that’s not as funny to you as it is to me.  Okay, now back to the story.]

So anyway, I knew that God was asking me to submit (ahhhhh, dirty word) to my husband, let him lead us and leave the life I knew.  This was especially difficult for me because it’s not the first time God has asked me to leave or sacrifice something for the sake of my husband.  And if we’re being honest here, I felt like God was asking way too much this time!  How in the world was I supposed to leave my family!?  Why would God give me such awesome friendships if only to take them from me!?

See, there’s this thing about my husband.  He doesn’t believe the same as me.  The bible would call us unequally yoked.  Naturally, 1 Peter 3 is my jam.  So, I’m kind of living in this space where I am totally imperfectly and clumsily executing 1 Peter 3:1-2, Likewise, wives, be subject to your own husbands, so that even if some do not obey the word, they may be won without a word by the conduct of their wives, when they see your respectful and pure conduct.”  I pray this verse a lot.  God has given me this really special gift in my husband.  He knew that Paul is the exact man I needed and it is truly because of him that I am so in love with the Word of God.  My husband has unknowingly forced me to be a better, more Godly woman.  At the end of the day, I’m just over here loving him to Jesus y’all.  Ha!

I’m not going to pretend our situation isn’t a bit unique though.  There is no animosity between us because of my belief or his unbelief (though sometimes its a bit lonely not being able to share a huge part of myself with him) and it doesn’t seem to bother Paul at all that I love Jesus more than I do him.  He has always, for the entirety of our marriage, come to church every single Sunday (with a few exceptions usually related to football).  Not only that, but he has continuously supported me in any ministry I wanted to pursue and for the last few years, he’s not only gone to church, but actually come with me EARLY to church to watch our kids for me so that I could lead worship.  I’m pretty sure there was even a year that he got a ton of votes from teammates on the church softball team to receive the “Christian Conduct” award at the end of the season.  He didn’t ultimately win, but it speaks a lot to his character.  So, he doesn’t love Jesus, but he sure loves me and he loves our kids and he’s really great.

Okay, back to my selfless sacrifice for the sake of my husband.  Just kidding.  I went kicking a screaming.  who am I kidding, I’m still doing some kicking and screaming.  I have no friends!!!!!  In truth though, God gave me my New York ladies, and he’ll give me my Texas ladies too.

To recap:  In November I knew what God was asking of me and by the end of March, I was leaving it all behind (be reminded, I did this begrudgingly, I am no saint) and heading home to Texas.

I still have no friends and more importantly, no local babysitter (applications are being accepted for both), but I have high hopes!  Oh, and also, our new house is beautiful, that helps to ease the pain.

Alrighty, till next time, I’ll just be over here running on Jesus and coffee.  Pray for me y’all.