Monday, December 6, 2010

Over thinking the mundane

This morning didn't start well in the Britton household. The boys were up at about 6:00am, after going to bed at almost 9:00pm last night. This makes for 2 tired and cranky boys. We all pushed through the breakfast routine, then onto the get-ready-for-school bit. Included in that part, is gathering of dirty laundry, making of beds, and cleaning up rooms. (The cleaning up rooms part is always funny to me to do in the morning, because see, it's also part of the getting ready for bed routine. I'm never sure how there is so much to clean up after being asleep all night. Oh right. It wasn't done super well the night before, that's why this is part of the morning too. Duh.) Because of the tired and cranky spirits that were my sons this morning, coupled with the fact that they never clean super well .... it just wasn't coming together today. I somehow convinced myself that if I just kept ordering them to clean with a louder and more firm tone, that surely they would eventually hear me and follow directions. WRONG. I think I managed to just crush their tired and cranky spirits, along with the other sweet parts of their spirits...not to mention give myself a soar throat. Big fail for mom.

The kids left for school and I already felt defeated for the day. I looked in on their rooms with not an ounce of patience left, and just felt like crying. Will they ever get it? Will they ever put the toys back, and hang the coats, throw away the trash, and make the beds? (If my parents are reading this right now, they are laughing, I'm sure, exclaiming a resounding NO! NO, THEY WON'T!) I get that they are young. I get that my standards are higher than they should be for children of their age (sometimes). I get that I need to give them grace where they are at. I get that I need to continue to expect them to be responsible for their things, while being a servant leader in showing them how. It's that last part that hit me when I was standing in front of their rooms.

Being a servant leader. Huh.

Every couple of months, I do a major overhaul of the kids rooms. I dread it, but it has to be done or we'd have scrap paper and craft projects flowing out the window over a matter of time. I realized this morning that it was time for this to happen again. I just didn't want to do it. I loathe doing it.

Enter in The Gospel.

I stood there realizing I needed to "preach the Gospel to myself" on this one, or else the rest of the day would continue in the pattern of this mornings events. But how? What does the truth of what Jesus did for me, and continues to do for me, have to do with my kids lack of ability to clean? It took me about 2 seconds to put it together. Here it is.... cliche as it may be ...

How often is my heart in a bigger mess than my kids rooms? How many times does God ask me to clean it, and instead of cleaning, I shove everything under the bed? How many times do I say I like my mess, because if I were to put it away, I'd just get it all back out again anyway - so I may as well leave it out? (An argument my kids have actually tried to use with me.) How many times do I just flat out ignore him? How many times do I go to clean my mess, only to just sit there playing in and making it worse instead? Then Jesus, in a way that only Jesus can, comes in and cleans it out for me when it's just too much for me to do myself. Every now and then when He's done, I realize that things went missing that I may never miss again, and other times that I desire to have my mess back. Every time, Jesus is laying down his life for me. In the mess of my life - Jesus died for me. He served me. He made me white (clean) as snow. He gives me grace for where I am today, while guiding me in how to do better next time. He gives me victory, and he forgives my failures. And sometimes he even lets me live in my mess, as much as it bothers and hurts him. Thankfully, not for very long.


So this is what I'm choosing to do today for my kids. I will be a servant leader by just doing it for them. They will come home and see how it should look. It will serve as a template for the next time their dad asks them to, "make it look like how mom had it." (I love hearing him say that to the kids. It works for about 2 days, but still....) I will die to my selfish and angry spirit that says this isn't fair. It's not my mess. I will love my children by sweeping through their mess. I will apologize to my sons this afternoon. I will remove some of the problems (aka: crafts and broken toys) knowing it is better for them to just have less (thus less to clean). I will do this for them because Jesus did it for me .... and does everyday. He cleans up after me more often than I realize.


I know. I majorly over thought the mundane. Aaron will come home laughing at me, I'm sure of it. But mom's, I'm gonna encourage you with this ..... sometimes pushing through the mundane means over thinking it a bit. We're called to have joy in all we do. How often do you have joy in the mundane? Hopefully often. But when you feel the other extreme (as I did this morning)....over think it. Remember what Jesus did for you, and how it relates to the task before you. What do you need to over think today?

If you really want to talk about it - you can find me in the kids rooms.






***Afterthought. So, mundane is kinda a big word for me. I went to dictionary.com to make sure I was using it in the right sense. I began to giggle as I read the definition. :
Mundane:
–adjective
1. of or pertaining to this world or earth as contrasted with heaven; worldly; earthly: mundane affairs.


Messy rooms contrasted with heaven. Yup. I used the word in the right sense. Not sure I've ever used a word more properly. :)

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Thank you. No. Thank YOU!

Someone told me thank you today. She was thanking me for something that I did for a group of women. She kept telling me thank you. After a while, out of her mouth came - "You're welcome". All of a sudden, I thanked her. Then it dawned on me. She wasn't saying you're welcome because I was needing to thank her, she was saying you're welcome because she was instructing me on what I should have said to her.

See, here's the thing. I don't receive compliments very well. Stranger still, I love compliments. What in the world is wrong with me? I've known this about myself for a while. I've even had it pointed out to me by a few people over the years. It usually involves my singing. Someone tells me how good I sounded, or how they enjoyed my voice. I smile awkwardly and either walk away or try to find a way to tell them it wasn't that great because I messed up that one note. 

Today was almost laughable to me though. Never have I had someone stand there longing for me to accept their compliment to the point of instructing me in what it is that I should be saying to them. Maybe laughable isn't the right word, but since I'm all about awkward responses, laugh is what I'll stick with. 

So I had to wonder why. I think about this every now and then, just not very often. 

You know that song, "She don't know she's beautiful"? That's the story of me and Aaron. He tells me I'm beautiful. I laugh at him. Someone tells me I sing well, I nod and cringe and say thank you to them. Someone tells me how great I am for adopting kids, and I try to not to throw up on them. Someone notices something I've done, and I try to find an escape. But why?

I have no clue. I know I'm not the only one that responds this way to accolade's. Most would say it's because I don't have a healthy view of myself. Maybe they are right. But what I always come back to is this: credit is not being given to where credit is due. (Aside from Aaron telling me I'm beautiful. Perhaps I'll go with the common response on that one.) 

See, what the world sees me doing - singing, cooking, cleaning, adopting, teaching, counseling, opening my home, giving .... whatever it may be .... I'm not doing it for anyone to see ME. Confession: of course, I've been guilty of wanting to be noticed. I have done it for me before... more often than I care to admit. However, the rest of the time, my heart in doing what I do is because of what HE did for me. Everything I have, everything I do, every  effort I put forth is to pour out His love to those around me. I don't think I'm super gifted in any one area. I think I do a lot of things okay. Sometimes I wish I just did one thing really well, but this is me. I do lot's of things half ... well... you know. But I do it because I've been given the resources to do so. And with those resources, I want to honor the One who gave me them to me. 

Knowing this doesn't necessarily help me understand how to receive compliments. Actually, it doesn't help me at all. I remember one time hearing someone say that when people notice us, we should respond with - "all glory to God". There's a time and a place for such a response, but it's not often that it is that time or that place. So what about the rest of the time? How are we supposed to accept such gratitude's? If I just say "you're welcome", my fear is that it comes across a bit cocky. ("Of course you should be thanking me - you're welcome to have benefited by my greatness.") But today's scenario must have been a complete opposite - perhaps to the point of annoying the one complimenting me. She had to tell me how to respond to her. And I still don't think I ever said, "you're welcome".

I just don't want people to see me. It's not me. If it were me, I wouldn't be doing it. I'm too selfish for that to make sense. So then how do I say "your welcome", or "thank you" while acknowledging that such an act of service came from something (someone) outside of me? 

But then my brain can't help but wonder .... I compliment people all the time about the great things they are doing. Why, when I acknowledge someone, do I focus on the good that they did, rather than finding a way to exclaim how great God is - and that I saw that through what they did- through how they served Him. Maybe compliments would be easier to swallow then? Maybe.

How do you handle compliments? Do you receive them well?

Sunday, November 21, 2010

OUCH !!!!

You can go here to read the entire blog at The Resurgence, called: Have It All or Want It All? But here's my copy and paste chart for (my) future reference.

From one Discontent .... OUCH! Pretty sure I land in the "Greed" category far more often than I care to admit. So here I am .... admitting. And He loves me still.


Gratitude
Greed
Attitude
Humility (Phil. 2:3)
Grumbling (Phil. 2:15)
Perspective
Grace: “I am a sinner who deserves death but Jesus paid the price and gave me his perfect righteousness.”
Entitlement: “I am a good person who deserves heaven—plus a comfortable, pain-free existence in the meantime.”
Desire
Jesus is enough to satisfy my life.
Jesus is not enough. I want wealth / fame / comfort / power as well.
Money
God gives. Therefore my money is his, and I use it to glorify him.
I earn. Therefore my money is mine, and I use it however I please.
Possessions
Contentment: I have enough
Covetous: I never have enough
Church
Serve as a member of God’s family
Be served as a consumer
Job
Work heartily for the Lord; cultivating thanks for God’s provision (Deut. 8:17; Col. 3:23)
Work begrudgingly for the man; becoming bitter and jealous against others (James 3:16)
Family
A blessing to embrace
A burden to escape
Future
Eternal: optimistic/hopeful (2 Cor. 4:7–9)
Temporal: pessimistic/anxious
Worship
Time, energy, and resources go to God
Time, energy, and resources go to me
Identity
Jesus and his achievement
My abilities and my achievements
Giving
Generous
Guilt- or gain-motivated (or non-existent)
Which column most accurately describes your life? In which areas are you encouraged? Where do you need to repent and seek forgiveness? Your church, your small group, and your family are following your example, for good or ill.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Baby Britton Blurb

Malachi to me:
"I like Gunther, and Jesus too."

That's a relief.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Vote for Pedro

Actually, don't vote for Pedro. I just thought that post title might make you actually read this post. Did it work?

Vote for Jessie and Ross. Some dear friends of ours (that would be the previously mentioned, Jessie & Ross) are in the early stages of adopting a child. YAY! Jessie stumbled upon this great thing that her bank is doing. People can submit a charity they would want to see $5000 donated to. If that story gets the most votes, not only does the charity get $5000, but so does the person who submitted it. In this case, the second $5000 would be going toward another "charity" ..... their adoption! Can't think of a better link to follow than the one I'm about to post. They entered the game kinda late, so vote every day, and spread the word. Just by clicking vote, we could come together and see $10,000 going toward some pretty fantastic things!

Here it is .... (oh, the charity they chose is The Water Project)

https://makeithappen.usbank.com/Story-Gallery/?StoryId=13890

Vote now. Then come back and vote tomorrow, and the next day and the next until Oct. 31st. 

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Reservations for 1 please

Despite popular belief, I don't always cook these wonderfully delicious gourmet dinners. In fact, frozen chicken nuggets and mac-n-cheese are staples here in the Britton Brewery and Bakery. uh.....

If you were a fly on the wall, not only would I swat you along with the 45 other flies that I've killed today, but this is what you would hear over the course of a Britton dinner.

"I want ranch!" "Okay, please wait." "Are you getting their food? I just did." "I want ranch!" "Okay, please wait." "What IS this?" "Chicken." "Chicken what?" "Chicken something." "I don't like it. It looks gross. What are those little green things in it?" "Excuse me? This is your dinner. You're going to eat it and love it. Those little green things are basil, they won't hurt you." "I want ranch!" "Yes. I know, now stop asking." "Who wants to pray?" ..... silence .... "okay, Dad will." "Amen." "I want ranch!" "Okay, seriously, everyone stop talking until all your food AND ranch are on your plate." "Time for hi-lows. Who's first?" "Me!" "No, ME! You ALWAYS go first." "Okay, you go first." "Please put a bite of food in your mouth." "S'gusting." (That's disgusting in Malachi-ese) "Do you want to go to bed with no dinner?" "No." "Then don't say that, and eat your food." "Where are you going?" "The bathroom." "No, sit down and eat. You can go when you are done." "PLEASE put food in your mouth." "Don't feed the dog!" "If you don't start eating right now, there is no dessert tonight." "It's too spicy!" "No it isn't. Put more ranch on it." "Stop talking and put the food in your mouth!" "Okay fine, you're done. No more food tonight. No dessert. You need to learn to be thankful for the food on your plate."

Okay, so maybe that was a little extreme/intense, but sometimes that is all I feel like I hear/say at dinner. It's not super relaxing, nor does it aid in my digestion, as I scarf down my own meal in 3.5 seconds in between scolding the kids for not eating; because my food was already mostly cold when I sat down to eat, and I'd like to enjoy the warm dish while possible.

Here's the truth. Aaron works evenings, often. There are fundraisers every other day (or so it seems) at good 'ol Chick-fil-a for one kid or another. So what's a mom to do? I don't much feel like making a "grown-up" meal for 4 kids who would prefer applesauce and tater tots. So I usually cave. We eat breakfast for dinner a lot around here. We go to Chick-fil-a .... a lot. It's just hard sometimes to face dinner alone with the kids.

Tonight, however, was one of the beloved fundraising dinners at, yes, Chick-fil-a. (I wonder if this blog post will appear as number 1 when someone googles Chick-fil-a.) I completely forgot that I had told the kids we could go there tonight for dinner, and instead was all on top of my "game" before they came home from school. I had all the veggies chopped and ready to go into my Garden Pasta. (Not a favorite for the kids, as it contains no pre-frozen mystery meat and waaayyyy too many little green mystery things.) They begged and pleaded, and got their way. I put the pretty veggies in the fridge, and off we went. But unlike SOME moms I know (ahem, ANGIE), I don't LOVE Chick-fil-a. (In fact, I'm probably not even spelling it right.) I'm also on a bit of a health kick lately. I've lost 13 pounds since August, and I'd like to keep moving in the right direction. So if I'm gonna cheat, it won't be at Chick-fil-a.

So what did I do? I bought the kids (and Aaron) their dinner, came home and plopped them all down with their tender chicken strips and fries. I, however, used that time to take my shower for the day. (I know, it was 5:30pm ... it was a busy day.) Me? I was going to wait for my dinner. Tonight I was making a reservation for one. Aaron was heading back to work after dinner, so I did the bedtime routine thing, then made my way back to the kitchen.

I found the most amazing find at COSTCO over the weekend. Butternut Squash filled Ravioli with sage and nutmeg spice. OH.MY.WORD. No one but me in my family would like them. Aaron gags just at the thought of butternut squash, and the kids would find some reason to not like it, I'm sure. But since it was just me, I plopped a package into some boiling water, cut up some fresh bread that I had also bought at COSTCO (along with some olive oil/balsalmic dipping sauce), laid out a nice pretty salad, poured a glass of wine, and sat down. By myslef. At 8:00 pm. Soft music in the backround. And I just ate. I cut my food into small pieces. I sipped some wine in between bites, and I just sat there .... quiet... when I was full. I didn't have to dish out ranch dressing, I didn't have to remind anyone to put food in their mouth, or not put their feet on the table, or to be thankful for their food. It was glorious.

I understand that one day my heart will ache when my dinner table sits empty, apart from Aaron and myself. But I was perfectly okay with the empty, still, quiet table tonight. And I think that's okay.

Off to rummage up some dessert, because I was a good girl. I ate all my dinner. (Actually, I didn't. I was full after half the portion I had dished out for myself. Guess I got carried away at the thought of dishing up adult size portions.)

(No, I didn't just plop my food on the table, my plate is black as is the table, thank you!)

Monday, September 27, 2010

Soccer Moms Unite

(Sam is the QB w/ the cool looking hat on.)
Soccer mom, football mom, gymnastic mom, working mom, stay at home mom ... whatever kind of mom ... we are BUSY ! This year in the Britton household, we entered the world of pee-wee sports. (I guess it's not called that anymore, but it should be.) The first week of practices, we ate out... twice. See, practice is from 5:00-6:00pm, two nights a week. Um, that's usually what time we are eating around here. So now, not only are we not eating during that time, but I'm also not able to cook during that time. What's a mom to do?

It's no secret that I adore the crock pot. However, recipes that I will actually make more than once in a crock pot are far and few between. Confession: I have this thing (by thing, I mean serious issue) with my the different foods on my plate touching each other. I buy those kids plastic plates with the dividers claiming they are for my kids, but secretly using them myself when no one else is looking. (Not really.) The point is, most slow cooker recipes are usually on the verge of "casseroly". Casserole = food touching, big time. Not good. Yet I press on, because again, what's a busy mom supposed to do on those days where standing in the kitchen isn't possible. (Of course, a good friend told me that slices of Velveeta cheese and hot dogs are perfectly acceptable. So there is always that.)

So I decided to start a little corner of my blog called, Soccer Moms Unite. Hopefully as I learn how to steer through the busy days of growing kids, I will catch on to a few really useful tips and/or crock pot recipes worth cooking again. Those I'll pass along. Realistically, I'll be passing on what DOESN'T work more often than that, because I have what doesn't work down to a science.

Tonight I start with a pretty scrumptious CP recipe. And while it is probably technically a casserole, Italian dishes don't count as casserole. It only counts as a "casserole" if some kind of creamed soup (and usually rice) is involved. Bleck! (Be warned, I don't actually FOLLOW recipes most of the time, so I'll be sure to sneak in some changes that I made in case you care.)

Slow Cooker Ziti
1 lb ground beef (I used Jenni-O lean Italian Style Ground Turkey)
1 box ziti noodles (or similar)
2 jars pasta sauce
1tsp. Italian seasoning (um, I also rarely measure seasonings. Just dump, shake, or shimmy, depending on my mood)
salt & pepper to taste
1 15 oz. container of ricotta cheese (i use low fat to feel better about using such a healthy item)
2 8oz packages of mozzarella cheese (of course, I'm gonna go for the pre-shredded Italian four cheese mixture instead, because it's just better and easier. Okay, and seriously, I LOVE cheese! But this was waayyy to much cheese in my opinion. 1 oz. pkg would have been just fine.)
1 c. grated Parmesan cheese

(So here's what else I added that wasn't in the recipe .... 1 onion, 3 or 4 minced garlic cloves, and 4 cups of spinach.)

Brown beef. (I browned mine w/ the garlic and onion.) Add seasoning and pasta sauce to meat. (Here I also added the spinach which I pureed in the food processor. Whatever I can do to get the family to eat more veggies, I'm gonna do. And pureed spinach has become one of the easiest ways I can find to do so.) Drain fat. (Here's one more tip for free: don't dirty another dish by actually using a strainer....or clog your drain w/ grease for that matter. Tip the pan, push the meat to one side and watch all the fat drip to the other side. Shove two or three paper towels in the pool of grease until it's soaked up. Toss paper towel.) In a separate bowl, mix the ricotta, Parmesan and half the mozz. cheese in a bowl. In crock pot, place 2 cups of sauce mixture followed by half of noodles and then half of cheese mixture. Repeat once more. Top with remaining sauce. Cook in crock pot on low for 5-6 hours. Um, I didn't think about dinner until about 3 hours prior to practice, so mine went in on high for 3 hours. (Hint: Not home all day? Invest the $10 in a crock pot timer. Set it for what time you want your meal to start, and there you have it.) Last 10 minutes or so, place remainder of cheese on top and cook until melted.

Here's how the logistics went down. Got everything in the pot before kids got home from school. Dishes were done as they walked through the door. We did homework and reading, then headed off to football practice. Cheered on son. Came home. Threw remaining cheese on top of ziti to melt. Buttered some bread slices, added some garlic powder and sea salt. Broiled on low. Burned anyway. Washed up salad. (Yes, I wash salad. I like fresh lettuce heads much better than the pre-packaged stuff. Not to mention the cost difference.) Everything was ready! Pour wine. Eat as a family despite the busy night!  YAY! Eating as a family will be one of those things that I will do my best to not give up the more activities the kids become involved with. All that to say, I really need to keep finding good CP recipes.

See. One doesn't have to be June Cleaver to pull it all together. Just need some pre-canned/boxed/shredded food and a crock pot, and this mama's happy!

Until next time.....
GO BRONCO'S!!!! (That's the name of Sam's football team. :) )

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Meet Gunther

The kids have been begging and pleading for years for a dog. The funny thing about this, is that all of the kids have been fairly timid, if not down right terrified of dogs for that same amount of time. We always have one reason or another to dish out for why we wouldn't get a dog. The biggest was that I had enough poop to clean up, and until everyone was potty trained, there would be no dog. Well, Malachi is potty trained. And go figure, the kids remembered that I said that. (Yet somehow forgot to bring their clothes up from the laundry area this morning.) So they have been hitting us hard for a dog. We managed to buy some time with some pet frogs the last month or so, but they've all died. (And they let us take on caring for another animal ? ) So the kids started asking for a dog once again.

Aaron and I figured we better really think about it. We couldn't just keep coming up with one excuse after another. We needed to decide if we were going to ever do this dog thing or not. We talked about the pro's and con's. One of the biggest pro's that we came up with was the reality that dog's are great for helping kids learn responsibility. One of the biggest con's was that if the kids failed to be responsible, being the one at home during the days, I would be the one to would take on such responsibility.

We talked about what kind of dog we'd want. I wanted a Jack Russell, but turns out those dogs aren't great with kids. (So I begged everyone to at least let me name Gunther - Jack Russell, because of course, that's funny. I got denied.) Aaron grew up on a farm in the early years of his childhood, and really feels strongly that our dog needs to be outdoors A LOT of the time. My wood floors agreed. So then I said it needs to be a bigger, strong dog that can handle that. I grew up with a Pomeranian who required the snow being shoveled to walk out to go to the bathroom in the winter. I don't have the patience for that. We said we'd like to find a dog a little bit older in the hopes that it was already house trained. I said I wouldn't have a big dog that jumps on people because, 1) it would trample my little people, and 2) that's a pet peeve of mine (no pun intended).
After all that discussion, we got online later that night to look at what dog's were available at the Humane Society. I saw this sweet picture one particular dog. Of all the dogs there, he was the only one I really wanted to see. (The kids spotted a Jack Russell mix of some kind, but turns out it was in quarantine for some reason. Not a good sign.) When I looked at his description, this dog had everything we were looking for. He weighs about 60 pounds, it said he was great with any age kids, was house trained, understood basic commands, and didn't jump. Perfect ! So the next day we went to meet him. (I'm also allergic to a lot of dogs, and I can feel it most when they lick my skin. It itches like crazy! So the next step was making sure I wasn't allergic. I wasn't !) He was so gentle with the kids, and had such a sweet temperament. We went home that night, and Aaron and I began to research on good 'ol google about his breed and what it would take to have a dog like that in our home. We agreed that he'd be a good fit for a dog for our family.

The next day, off I went to "adopt" him, or whatever. We kept telling the kids we were still thinking about it, even once we had decided. I enjoy being able to surprise people, and especially my kids. So while they were at school, Malachi and I took care of business. Their faces, joy, and excitement can only partly show in words on a blog, or even in photo. But needless to say, they were beyond thrilled ! It was so fun to see ! Provi even is volunteering to be on pooper scooper duty..... (wonder how long that will last.) I realize there are a lot of pictures of Provi and Gunther. I guess she's waited the longest for a dog, so it makes sense.

Without further ado, meet Gunther !

American Staffordshire Terrier/Pointer mix (AmStaff/Pointer if you want to be hip)
60 lb. male
2 1/2 years old
Incredibly sweet. Plays well with other dogs. Very gentle with kids. Thinks he's a lap dog if given the chance. (Seriously. He tries to sit IN our laps. It's pretty funny when he tries it with Provi.)
Snores loud.


Hope he likes us.

Monday, August 30, 2010

This is the day that never ends, it goes on and on my friends

The day all began with the alarm going off at six in the morning and it isn't normal that I actually acknowledge my alarm, other than to slap snooze upside the head, but this morning I was actually moved to my feet and out to the kitchen to make my morning cup of joe then to sit at the feet of Jesus at such a quiet and peaceful time before the monkeys are all awake and I have to move on to the morning normal routine of making lunches, pleading with the littles to make their beds, yada yada yada, and then for some reason, I thought today would make a good day to bike with the kids to school so we left a little earlier and I loaded Malachi (along with all the kids bags) into the carrier on my bike, but it was so cute that I had to stop and take a picture to upload to twitter for the world to see, only in my rush, i misspelled a word (role, should've been roll, I think) and accidentally hit send before correcting it, and while I'm sure there is a way to go somewhere to fix it, I figured it didn't matter because it was already out there for the world to see and mock, but I left it because I realized that 6 of the tires needed to bike to school were flat, and needed to be filled so I rushed to do that and off we went, the whopping 1.5 miles to school that somehow takes us 20 minutes to ride, and since that wasn't enough of a workout, I continued on after kissing the babes good-bye, yup, just Malachi and I and the flying crickets took off for another 10 miles or so, only to come home and realize that I indeed did not think or plan the timing of my day very well, because see, we were planning on getting a dog today and I should have been out the door rather than standing in my kitchen realizing that I desperately needed a shower before doing anything else, so of course, I took a shower and then loaded up Malachi to head to the Humane Society to get our new dog, but then I realized that it was lunch time and we had no food for lunch, so a granola bar and graham cracker would have to do for Malachi's on the go lunch,and then as we were driving I remembered that I still hadn't stopped at the store for a leash or collar or food or any of the things they say a dog needs, so we stopped by the pet store and then made out way to the Humane Society where unknown to me, a process was about to unfold that seriously felt like I was possibly adopting a human again, it was all a little strange to me, and it took a really long time, only then to find out that I needed to wait for an hour to actually leave with Gunther (our new dog), so I realized I had time for lunch after all and off Malachi and I went to Great Harvest Bread company to share a lunch and then make our way back to actually pick up Gunther who was ready and waiting for us, and was kindly escorted to my car where they actually let me leave with him and I sorta felt like I did when I left the hospital with my first child - "they really are going to just let me leave with this thing .... what am I supposed to do with it" - but off we went just the same to arrive home to meet some friends who graciously came with treats and manuals and tips on how to train Gunther, which of course needed an experimental walk around the block, which we did only to come back for me to realize that I had 20 minutes to bike back to school to get the kids (and at this time was wondering why I bothered to actually fit in that shower in the morning because I really needed another one at this point) and I was wanting to surprise the kids with Gunther, because they didn't know that we had actually decided to get him, and what a surprise it was when the kids got home .... they were so very excited and chaotic because of their excitement, and felt the need to bring the neighbor kid over to see the dog, and another neighbor who had a horrible day asked for a helping hand which I'm always wanting to extend to them because they are really great neighbors, but then I remembered that I needed to get dinner in the oven (rosemary chicken) for Aaron and the kids to eat AT 5 because Sam was scheduled for his first football practice at 6 and I needed to leave at 5:30 as I was heading out for a night with some girlfriends, so I quickly threw the chicken in and took Gunther for another walk per the kids request only to return to the oven beeping telling me the chicken was done, so I took it out, started the rice, sat down to the computer to tell the girls I was meeting that I was probably running late, only to see an email from Sam's football coach stating that practice started at 5 NOT 6, but the problem was, it was almost 5:30 and Aaron was just getting home from Walmart where he and Sam went to get Sam's mouth guard because I had forgotten to do that earlier in the day, so I quickly turned to him to tell him he had to get Sam there NOW, so off they went, and instead of us as a family supporting Sam at his very first football practice, Aaron had to drop him off to come home so I could leave, then he ran back to get Sam (see we had to switch cars for me to leave), and I felt so bad I had to call Sam right at 6 to see how practice went (it went great), and there I was, in Boulder to meet the girls where we shared some great food, great Margarita's, great conversation, great laughs, etc, and then time to head home so I could see Gunther because he's really cute, and so I sat cuddling him a bit, then put him in his kennel where he is now barking and howling and waking my kids up at 11:38 at night and I have no idea what I'm supposed to do other than blog, because see, it's not that today was an exceptionally busy or productive or meaningful day (and was even mostly enjoyable), it was just one of those days that when I look back over the course of events, I realize that I haven't taken a breath since that quiet moment at 6:30 this morning and now all I want to do is take that deep breath and to end it it thankful for that brief moment so early this morning that made it possible for me to make it through this run on day.
Sigh. Just another day, I guess.....
(Oh, and Gunther will get a blog post all to himself tomorrow ... don't worry...)

Friday, August 20, 2010

When Facebook isn't enough, it's time for the DTR

Remember how I said in my post on the sabbatical that I had more to come on the topic of community. Saddle up.

Turns out this isn't a new topic for my little blog. If you've read any of my posts for longer than .... oh ... a month ...you'd know this about me. However, there was one blog post that I recently dug up from a little over a year ago where I had written in detail of my thoughts on community. I don't know that I have much different rantings on the subject now, other than a few observations from our sabbatical.


Facebook, twitter, blogging, buzz, four-square, linked-whatever .... the world is trying, and as stereotypes go, the world thinks it is succeeding. We've managed to connect to anyone, anywhere, anytime of day and in many different ways (that are all technologically connected to each other, so not only do we connect once, but anyone in our "network" gets our connection in about 5 different places). I don't know about you, but it's taken it's toll on me. I perhaps feel more alone in this world than I have in a very long time. Strange thing. Because see, I have 456 Facebook friends. Surely I'm not alone. But maybe that's part of the problem. People have actually said to me, "You have so many friends!". What we as a facebook era seem to be missing is that "network" is very different than community. Put all my one line status updates together, and you still will be very distant from actually knowing ME.

Let me back up a little bit to a truth that God convicted me of hard core this summer. I sat in a service at some new church. I don't even remember what was being preached. But I remember what God was speaking to me. He gave me the grace to see something that has been a BIG roadblock in my pursuit of community. That being, I have idolized it. Big time. Community became one of those things that I knew was right and good and had the approval stamp by God to pursue. After all, it's important to Him. He's got the ultimate community w/ the Son and the Holy Spirit. My problem is that it became too right and too good. I have had this idea of what community should look like, and I've put it up there on a pedestal where no one can touch it (let alone measure up to it) .... not even God. I've thought that if I could just find THAT, I would feel complete. I would find joy. I would be the woman I'm supposed to be when I found how I FIT into my little golden calf. God broke my calf as only He can do. He revealed to me my sin in my expectations. He revealed to me that I am to be found in Him and Him alone. He revealed to me that any community, as nourishing as it is, will still be made up of broken, sinful people such as myself. He revealed to me that I will struggle and wrestle as I come face to face with other peoples brokeness. Struggling and wrestling are never easy. Community, in it's purest earthly form, will still be messy and needy and broken. And then He revealed to me that now that I've got that clear, it's still good. So I pursue.

It's interesting (perhaps saddening is a better word) how many people I have talked with lately who feel desperate for deep, meaningful, restoring community. What? Facebook isn't working for you either? Huh. I've heard from so many that they feel alone. They have a lot of friends, but no one (or two) friends. Does that make sense ? I have a theory. (Watch out!)


As often as I'd like to think that I'm the only person who fears rejection, or craves approval ... I know that isn't true. In fact, I think it is a root issue for most people. (AKA: pride) And there in lies a huge stumbling block to living in community. Think about it. If I fear rejection, I won't be honest with you, because I'm pretty sure you'll chew me up and spit me out. I'm fairly certain that you will air my dirty laundry to people who I didn't choose (most likely for a reason) to air it to myself. If I crave approval, it is doubtful that I will reveal to you the deepest parts of me that aren't worthy of any approval, but in fact are in need of harsh disapproval. So where does that leave us in way of community ? Who is SAFE ? No one. Or at least that is what we let ourselves eventually believe. If I can't trust you, if I don't know that you actually want to be in community with me (or think you are just extending niceties), if I'm afraid or intimidated by you, if I'm not sure that you desire from community what I desire from community, I will most likely throw my guard up. And so will you. This isn't going to get us very far.

That's where the DTR comes in. We've all heard of that in dating relationships. (Will you "go out with me"?) And I'm a pretty firm believer in it in that sense. So why would community be different ? Maybe if there were some level of defining a relationship amongst friends, community could perhaps form a little easier. If I know you are committed to loving me, in all the good the bad and the ugly .... then all of a sudden my pride no longer has much water to swim in. If you know that I think you are worth being in a covenant style of community with (in other words, I have voiced my willingness to do so), your fears of rejection or need for approval no longer hold much weight. This is because fear and pride have no place in covenant. Covenant relationship, on the other hand, holds a very safe landing for community to thrive.

No, I'm not asking for a promise ring, or a BFF split heart necklace where we both wear one side. I'm just saying that it might be less intimidating for those of us longing to be part of a community to know others who feel the same ... and who feel the same about us personally.

I'm not the first person to have this thought either. There was this guy who lived a really long time ago. His name was John Wesley. Maybe you've heard of him. Some great friends/mentors from long ago sent us "John Wesley's Rules for Band-Societies". (Band as in community, not 519.) It's pretty intense. They said they actually voiced and committed to these rules with their community. I'm not saying it has to be this intense list of rules and vows and wedding cakes and such; but maybe in reading it, you'll get the idea of what I mean. Can you imagine covenanting with a small group of friends to do and be all of these things ..... WOW ! I'm not sure community would be lacking if we did. (It's a loooooong list ... beware.)

Wesley's Rules for Band-Societies

     Drawn up December 25, 1738.

The design of our meeting is, to obey that command of God, "Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed..

To this end, we intend.
1. To meet once a week, at the least.
2. To come punctually at the hour appointed, without some extraordinary reason.
3. To begin (those of us who are present) exactly at the hour, with singing or prayer.
4. To speak each of us in order, freely and plainly, the true state of our souls, with the faults we have committed in thought, word, or deed, and the temptations we have felt, since our last meeting.
5. To end every meeting with prayer, suited to the state of each person present.
6. To desire some person among us to speak his own state first, and then to ask the rest, in order, as many and as searching questions as may be, concerning their state, sins, and temptations.

Some of the questions proposed to every one before he is admitted among us may he to this effect.
1. Have you the forgiveness of your sins.
2. Have you peace with God, through our Lord Jesus Christ.
3. Have you the witness of God's Spirit with your spirit, that you are a child of God.
4. Is the love of God shed abroad in your heart.
5. Has no sin, inward or outward, dominion over you.
6. Do you desire to be told of your faults.
7. Do you desire to be told of all your faults, and that plain and home.
8. Do you desire that every one of us should tell you, from time to time, whatsoever is in his heart concerning you.
9. Consider! Do you desire we should tell you whatsoever we think, whatsoever we fear, whatsoever we hear, concerning you.
10. Do you desire that, in doing this, we should come as close as possible, that we should cut to the quick, and search your heart to the bottom.
11. Is it your desire and design to be on this, and all other occasions, entirely open, so as to speak everything that is in your heart without exception, without disguise, and without reserve.

Any of the preceding questions may be asked as often as occasion others; the four following at every meeting.
1. What known sins have you committed since our last meeting.
2. What temptations have you met with.
3. How were you delivered.
4. What have you thought, said, or done, of which you doubt whether it be sin or not.

You know what ? I sin. A lot. Over the past year, God has given me the grace to pursue a friend, or a couple of friends with my junk. When it would have been so easy to hide in my sin, I knew that community is what was needed to assist in killing my sin. They didn't ask to hear it. But I knew I needed to give it. Nothing like airing your dirty laundry to someone who didn't ask for it. But I had to. And that's part of community. It's not going to come looking for us most of the time. WE, I, have to be committed to seeking it.

So what does this have to do with our sabbatical? (Bunny trail if I ever saw one!)

EVERY.SINGLE.CHURCH. that we sat under (as well as the sermon series by Matt Chandler that I recommended to you earlier in the summer) voiced the need for community. From community groups, to redemption groups, to life groups (call them what you will) ... it was clear that these churches found community crucial to sanctification.

Enter in "over-programing", stage left.

Every church has it. They have their "programs" for community. But what if the programs aren't working ? Why aren't they ? Why do so many in the church feel alone? Here's my only conclusion..... because we are 1) idolizing community, 2) expecting community to find us (usually through said program), and 3) don't feel safe in a desired community because of our pride. All are wrong. Community starts when, by no program, I lay my life down and serve others. Community begins when I confess my sin without waiting for someone to point it out to me. Community begins when I open my home, despite the fact that very few may invite me into theirs.  Community begins when I intentionally choose a day and a time to set aside for others. No sports events, no birthday parties, no mountain home, no skiing, no boating, no napping .... just others.

I sure made community sound glamorous, huh ? Maybe it's not supposed to be glamorous.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Kids rooms

First, a Baby Britton Blurb :
I was ironing (shocker) the kids new bedskirts. Eden walked in and asked what I was doing.
"Ironing", I said.
"What's ironing?", she asked ... barely able to pronounce the word ironing.
"Uh, see this thing? (holding iron) It's called an iron. It's used to take the wrinkles out of clothes."
"Oh. I didn't know you could do that."

Sigh. While it's not much of a secret that I don't iron often (okay, hardly ever), this was rather pathetic I thought. My 7 year old had no idea what an iron was.

(You're wondering how I never iron, aren't you ? Because I like wrinkles. Actually, Aaron irons his clothes for church once a week. I've tried to be a good wife and do it for him, but he says I make it worse. Huh, I don't know how ???? ;) )

Onto the bedrooms. I was done with bunk beds. While the boys beds were fun, the set up was huge, and just not as practical as I had hoped. Also, there is nothing worse than making the top bunk. To top it off, the girls were in desperate need of new dressers. Soooo .... what do you do when you need something and can't afford it ? Charge it ! NO ! Sell stuff ! And sell stuff we did. We sold the boys and girls bunk beds, our old washer and dryer, and also held a garage sale. Add up all the sales, and we made it. Just enough to buy all new dressers for the girls, PLUS new bedding for the girls and the boys ! Yippee !!!!!

This is Sam helping Aaron get the old washer and dryer cleaned out for the new owners. :)



The girls wanted to get away from the old pastel colors. They have very different taste though. When they spotted this bedding, they both loved it, but couldn't agree on the pink or the blue. So I thought I'd take my chances on mixing it. I like how it turned out, and they are both thrilled. Now they just need new curtains.

Before : (although we haven't had the girls bunks set up for a while now. They were separated and on the floor)





 After !





The boys could care less, but I enjoyed finding matching bedding for them that already matched their curtains and bedroom. And not only that, but on a major sale even !!!! The boys bedding was on clearance for $19.99 each. That included the comforter, sham, sheets & bedskirt ! Can't beat that!

Before :


After !

My sister, Lynette, made this adorable quilt for Malachi when we brought him home from Ethiopia. 
The girls bedding came with these big bags. They are possibly more excited about the bags than they are the bedding.
What is one to do with a bag that big ? Oh, right, put your little brother in it.
Lastly, one of the things I'm most excited about is the bedskirts. (Which according to Eden, has now made all the beds girls.) For some reason, under the bed becomes the home for all things when a child is instructed to put their toys away. Now I don't have to see that chaos when I walk in their room. It gives me a mild panic attack every time. Plus, they think it's fun to hide under their beds now.

Malachi gave away the hiding spot.


So there you have it. Our new rooms ! (And I don't have the new blogger picture loader figured out yet, so sorry the placements of the pics/captions are strange.)

The rooms won't be this clean tomorrow.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Church-Shopping meet Sabbatical. Sabbatical, Church-shopping.

Three months of Sabbatical are coming to an end.  And while it was technically Aaron's sabbatical, I enjoy talking as if it was mine as well. There is so much to "unpack". Not only in the way of actual suitcases (thus laundry), but heart stuff too. Aaron and I have processed a lot this summer. It's truly been a blessing, a much needed and greatly appreciated blessing. Aaron gave the option on his blog to his readers to vote for him to blog about his sabbatical or not. He chose to not due to lack of interest. So while Jeff S. may be the only person to read this blog post in it's entirety, this is where I go to process. This is no secret. (And yes, "process" is my key word for "very long post".) Be forewarned that many of my upcoming posts will have to do with this summer.

I wanted to start with the topic of "Church Shopping". Why ? Well, because I've never experienced "church shopping", but I got a little glimpse of what it must be like as we started our 3 month adventure. See, we've always picked a church based on where Aaron has a job. (Mind you, we've NOT picked some churches because Aaron (or I) didn't want the job there. So it's not ALL about the paycheck.) As part of Aaron's sabbatical though, we visited many different churches over the summer months. It was rather interesting. I began to imagine in my mind what things I would look for if I was sitting in a worship service with the intention of finding a church home.

In matter of importance, I mean, in no particular order .... I made a small list of things that I started to survey that would impact me if shopping was my goal. One, the coffee served. Two, the friendliness of the people at the church. Three, childcare. Four, weekly programs offered. Five, the music. Six, the preaching. Seven, the parking lot. Eight, community.

Truth be told, I sorta cringe at the phrase, "church shopping". It just seems a funny phrase. Because I don't know about you, but when I shop, I shop with the sole intentions of finding what is cheapest for ME, what is the latest trend for ME, who can offer ME the most savings and value even if at the expense of quality. I shop with the end result of feeding into MY easily inflamed idols of stomach, home decor, clothing, comfort,  entertainment, or organizational tools. (I really am a sucker for anything with a lid that can be shoved under a bed....) Did you catch the common theme in all that I shop for ?  ME ! Church shopping with ME and MY needs being met is very dangerous. See, church isn't about ME. It's much bigger than me, in fact. And when it's all said and done, the church I call "home" will be best for ME when I die to myself and serve the CHURCH.

So, back to the things that stood out.

One, the coffee. Yes, that's right. Every church serves it. And I was on a mission to sample them all and determine who served the most excellent coffee. Because you know, that is extremely important at a church. My bar is fairly low for the coffee snob that I am known to be. Church coffee must exceed gas station brews. That's all. All but two churches got a big FAIL. (One exception was The Village Church which Aaron attended without us. I asked him to try their coffee for me. Turns out they don't have coffee. He came home telling me that the Pastor there, Matt Chandler, actually addresses their lack of coffee and states that the church is not there for the comfort of the attenders. You start to catch on to that when you listen to his preaching. I must say, I sorta love that.)

Two, the friendliness of the people at church. Mars Hill Church Albuquerque won the award for that one. I was standing in the lobby with my small brood of children while Aaron parked the car (such a gentleman). I must have stood out as a single mom perhaps ? Because within a minute, two men came to me to greet me. One of them asked if I was new, and if I needed help getting the kids to chilcare. This I'm sure was because if I WAS a single mom, I was a really cute one. NO ! Not at all. It was very obvious at this church that MEN took the lead to make people feel welcome, comfortable, safe, and cared for. Okay, do you realize how huge that is ? I have a husband that does those things for me everyday, but to experience men taking a lead like that in a setting where for all they knew, I didn't have a man to do that for me .... how sweet of a welcoming. I would love to see men taking the lead to make both men and women feel comfortable, safe, and cared for as they enter a church service.



One last tidbit about "programs". I believed the statement that we are programmed out at churches. (Insert SOME before every program listed here.) Programs wear on volunteers, programs drain staff, programs aren't the be-all end-all, programs eat up budgets that could be used more meaningfully. Our church offers some fantastic programs that I am often part of and even lead a few. But they are not KEY to my faith. The one "program" that is .... is one that is centered around community. Community is a huge portion of my spiritual life, and I believe it should be. Life groups, community groups, Redemption groups, Celebrate Recovery, Home groups, etc.... are all beautiful things because of what they facilitate. They are but a means to an end, however. While I suppose that some of the programs churches offer are a great way to move people to action, the people moving is still what is most important. More on this topic to come in days to come .....

Five, the music. This was a strange one for me. Since graduating high school, I've only ever sat under Aaron leading worship (and often lead with him). To hear others doing the songs he does was strange. They do them so different. The singers were good and bad. The band was soft and loud. The worship leaders themselves appeared confident and distracted, humble and proud. It really was odd. None of them were Aaron. I like Aaron. All biased opinions aside, he is still the best worship leader I've ever had the privilege of being led into worship by and with. Sure, other churches had worship that I would eventually grow used to, just as every church we've gone to has had it's time of growing used to Aaron. The worship services that really drew me in though were the ones where you just knew the Holy Spirit was moving. Isn't the Spirit always moving ? Yes. But sometimes maybe he moves in one church more than another (or just different, I don't know). One church we were at, we were told that there was a recent revival. A real bible-belt, demons cast, repenting of sin revival. Can you imagine ? I thought people made that stuff up. I thought it was bad pizza or too much beer the night before. But this church was a church were we have many dear and close friends. The Pastor and his wife are two of the most influential people in our married and spiritual lives. So we trusted them, we believed them, we knew that what was happening at their church was indeed real. The Spirit was moving .... powerfully. And you knew it as you sat through worship. In fact, ten minutes in, I had tears streaming down my face. It was almost suffocating. I begged for the Spirit to move like that to Boulder next. (PLEASE notice that what was most important to me about worship had NOTHING to do with the worship leader himself. It had everything to do with the hearts of the worshipers responding in obedience to God's leading.)

Six, the preaching. We were so blessed to hear some phenomenal preaching this summer. I am blessed every Sunday at my current church to sit under great preaching. We couldn't stay if it weren't the truth of the Word and the Saving Grace of Jesus that was taught from the pulpit at our church. But this summer I heard words like, "Gospel-wakefulness", "Gospel-centered", "Gospel-truth", "Gospel-driveness", just "GOSPEL", almost every weekend. I've talked about my current awakening to how big the Gospel is growing in my heart compared to the limited understanding that it has been, so this in particular was especially meaningful to me. I wasn't hearing self-help with a spiritual bent TAUGHT. I was hearing the power of the Gospel over every area of my life PREACHED. And week after week God was revealing my sin and muck and pride more and more as He asked me if I was ready to let his blood on the Cross be enough for whatever my poison of the day was. It was amazing. More on this topic perhaps to come in the near future as well. I'm processing this one A LOT still.

Seven, the parking. One church we attended had NO parking spaces. It was annoying. I thought about going to a different church because of it. You know I'm not serious, right ? I did have fun joking with my parents about it, however. And in fact, one church we went to had no parking at all. The church was this beautiful old Catholic church that had been donated to the church. It was set in the middle of an urban city housing area and you were forced to park up and down one way streets that posed "Residence Only" parking signs, and were thus forced to drive a little bit farther away. I thought that was great. It made me want to move into one of those houses just so I could walk to church every weekend.

Eight, community. I know I briefly talked about this one up their with programs. And this comes in second place to the Gospel as the biggest thing I'm continuing to process from this summer. I will for sure be blogging more in days to come on this one. All but one church that we were at this summer talked about community from the pulpit. It was obvious that the churches we were at were centralizing themselves around not only the Gospel, but GOSPEL-COMMUNITY. Now THAT is a church that when shopping, would earn my money. (Please tell me you saw the pun in that.) Many Sundays after church we were invited to go to lunch, times during the week we heard our phones ring from members at the church asking to hang out with us. This extrovert, often lonely heart felt, if but for a brief moment, a part of something.

So, 45 pages later, I've managed to wrap up our summer and combine it with a training in how to church shop. I'm glad I'm done shopping and can now go home. I pray a lot for my church family, for my home. I pray all these eight things (make that 6. Take a guess at which 2 I really could care less about.) for my church. I'm thankful to have a place to call home. It's full of broken and sinful people, so it has it's ups and downs. But just the same, it's a church that preaches the Gospel, a church that has a safe place for my children to attend, some great ways to plug into both serving and community, and perhaps the most fantastic worship leader in our current day. And to be honest .... the coffee is not good AT ALL. (No offense if the one who makes it is reading. Really, it's not you, it's me.)
 
If you are still reading this, you should really leave a comment. You've earned a $5 Starbucks card for enduring. You can contact Jeff S to retrieve it.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

For the mama's

An encouraging word for moms .... especially moms of little littles.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Grace-Driven Effort Defined

First of all, I want to clarify something. My previous post about the van, and God taking care of us, and all that .......

Lest you think I only see the hand of God when it works out all peachy as the van scenario did, let me correct you. There have been more than many times in my life (more than I can speak of in the last 2 years alone) that life hasn't turned out as well as our not-so-coincidental van story. There have been moments, days, weeks, months and even years that in other life scenarios, I've found myself ..... well .... stuck in the middle of Nebraska, over 100,000 miles, with no rescue vehicle, and $8000 short. And you know what ? Ever single one of those moments, I would still say God's hand was mightily on. I would still say I serve a really big God who cares about my really small life. I wanted to tell that story about the van because I am not known for finding the "silver lining". I'm usually the one kicking and screaming and whining and complaining all the way to the feet of Jesus where He graciously accepts me just the same. He gave me the grace to accept life as it came that day, and I thank Him for that.

That being said ..... what I really wanted to blog about was another post I wrote a few back. Remember that D.A. Carson quote I put up ? I'm not even going to link to it. I'm going to write it out again. (No I'm not. I'm going to cut and paste it.) Keep reading after it though ... I have more to say this time. (Go figure.)

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
D.A. Carson writes:
People do not drift toward holiness. Apart from grace-driven effort, people do not gravitate toward godliness, prayer, obedience to Scripture, faith, and delight in the Lord. We drift toward compromise and call it tolerance; we drift toward disobedience and call it freedom; we drift toward superstition and call it faith. We cherish the indiscipline of lost self-control and call it relaxation; we slouch toward prayerlessness and delude ourselves into thinking we have escaped legalism; we slide toward godlessness and convince ourselves we have been liberated.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Aaron is a big fan of Matt Chandler. He's the Pastor at The Village Church in Dallas, TX. If you've never listened to him preach, now's your chance. He has a 3 part series based on this quote! (I link to all 3 sermons at the end of this post.) Aaron was able to hear one of them live this summer in our travels. Me ? I just enjoyed them on a nice long bike ride with my iPod in my ears. I can't even begin to recommend these enough. I'm on round 2 and 3 of listening to them. Here's why .....

There were a couple of things that Matt Chandler (or is it Pastor Chandler ? I dunno.) referenced that hooked me immediately. Granted, I listened to them out of order, so you may listen to it and not hear it right away. Keep listening just the same.

Hook ) He talked about how often we as humans wrestle with the same sin struggle over and over and over. Why is that ? He explains how it is due to us "training" our sin rather than "killing it". "Murdering it", I believe were his words.

Line ) He talked a lot about how we pit sin against sin. In other words, using his example, we pit the sin of fear and anxiety against the sin of control and manipulation and put God's name on it. We pit the sin of fear and anxiety against the sin of control and manipulation and put God's name on it. (No, that wasn't a typo that I just wrote the same sentence twice. I wanted you to read it twice, and I figured you wouldn't if I just told you to.) The problem with this, is that both are sin and both lead to death. WOW !

And Sinker ) All three messages ooze with what "grace-driven effort" looks like.

It has taken this sinful heart a while to realize that I do not drift toward holiness. Praise God for the grace to drive.


Here's the links. You can get them off iTunes if you'd rather.
Part 1: Grace Driven Effort
Part 2: When Violence Is Okay
Part 3: Three Streams

Friday, July 9, 2010

Coincidence ? I think not.

We recently went to Nebraska for an extended trip. On the way home, the van was running pretty rough. We thought it could be the intense heat out on the Nebraska (and CO) plains. I remember pulling off the Interstate onto the Highway telling Aaron that the van was not happy with us.

We made it almost home and my bladder couldn't take another second. I had to pee ! (You didn't see that coming as the next sentence, did you ?) So we stopped at the Library that is a mile from our house so I could use the restroom. (Yes, I really couldn't have made it that one more mile.) Pulling out of the Library, the van decided it had had enough. It just quit. We thought it had overheated, we hoped the gas gage was wrong and we were truly on E. We sat. We waited. It wouldn't start. We called some friends who graciously came to lend a hand. We loaded up the kids and got them home. We went back with a gas can. Still no luck. It was official, the van was dead. So we called a tow truck. (Mind you, we still had a car top carrier full of suitcases, plus an entire van full of more luggage, toys, pillows, day old Subway trash, and everything else that comes with an 8 hour car ride with 6 people inside the van.)


It's a holiday weekend so once towed, we find out they wouldn't get to the car until the following Tuesday. (This happened on a Friday.) We begin praying for our warranty to cover whatever the problem was. Kia vehicles come with a warranty of 100,000 miles. We had ended our trip at 99,889 miles !

Now .... I don't know about you ... but I don't really believe in coincidence. I believe in a God. A really big God who orchestrates my life. A God who cares about the silliest of details.

We could have been stranded in the middle of nowhere. Instead we made it safely to a mile away from home where help was easy to attain. We could have gone over 100,000 miles on that trip (thus leaving us with no warranty), but we didn't, thanks to the handful of times we decided to use my parents car instead of the van. We could have come home to no vehicle to use, but instead, had several families willing to lend us a spare car. Kia could have told us they wouldn't cover the expense of the repair (b/c we haven't been the most faithful at keeping up with scheduled maintenance). They didn't. Praise God !

Turns out, the water pump clogged up, which then shredded the timing belt, which destroyed the engine. (Or something like that.) $8000 to rebuild our poor van's engine. And yes, it's all being covered! I serve a really big God who cares about my really small life.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Mr. Bean

At dinner tonight, Malachi appeared to be "digging for gold". You know. Up his nose. He started gagging a little bit, so I told him to get his finger out of his nose. Aaron and I started joking about our next status updating on Facebook saying : "You know you have long fingers when you make yourself gag while picking your nose." haha, right ?

A couple of hours later, Malachi came to tell me that he had a bean up his nose. A bean?
"You mean, a booger ?"
"No, a bean", he said.

I couldn't see one, but he seemed pretty determined that there truly was a bean up there. He even tried to tell Aaron. Neither of us believed him. I just thought his allergies were bad and he had a stuffed up nose. So I stuck him in the bath to clear out his sinuses. It worked.

I was trying to help him blow his nose, and I got a sneeze instead. Sure enough .... out flew a bean! (It was actually a pea, but he says a bean.) Ewe !!!!!

He may be mischievous, but he's no liar.

(Oh, and I tried my best to keep the video G rated .... he was in the bath during said event though.)

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Baby Britton Blurb

For some reason, in Omaha, just about every other house has an American Flag hanging proudly out front. While it doesn't seem that this should be a strange sight, I guess it is. We just don't see it often in the Boulder area for some reason. I wouldn't have noticed this were it not for Sam ......

Sam - "Why does everyone in Omaha have the American flag hanging in their front yards?"
Aaron - "Because they are proud to be Americans, and they want to show it." (Of which I snidely remarked under my breath - "Yes, they're equally proud to be Nebraskans with all the Husker stuff displayed everywhere." seriously - it's disgusting.)
Sam - "Well are WEEEEE proud to be Americans?"
Aaron - "Yes"

long thoughtful pause by Sam.......

Sam (very matter of fact states) - "Well then we should get a flag."

Perhaps we shall. (And I won't even disgrace our flag by hanging it next to an even bigger Husker flag.)

We ARE proud to be Americans. I don't think about it enough. Maybe displaying a flag will help.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

I'd like to dedicate this next song to ....

Move over Bryan. "Everything I do, I do it for You" has finally moved to second place for the title of "best cheesy yet somehow still really good song". (C'mon. Admit it. You loved that song for at least a day!)

I heard a great song on the radio the other day. I almost turned the station four lines in, as I had already made up my mind that it was a little corny. (People don't really use that word anymore, do they ?) But I decided to listen to the rest anyway. It was really good. In fact, I even got a little verklempt.

Being it Fathers Day and all, I thought it would be a good song to dedicate to all the fathers out there. More specifically .... my Daddy, and the love of my life who happens to be a super stellar Daddy. The best, actually. I would imagine it's pretty difficult to be a dad. So .... thanks Dad. You done good (and still do). Thanks Aaron. You do amazing!

......... Just cuz I can't help myself ..... A little girl and her mom were taking a walk one day. The little girl spotted some chewed gum on the ground and picked it up to place in her own mouth. The mom shouted, "Stop! That's dirty. Don't put it in your mouth. It will make you sick!" The little girl asked her mom how she knows that. The mom replied stating that she learned such things in Mommy School. The little girl asked her mom what happens if you fail Mommy School. The mom paused for a minute, and replied with ..... "Well, then they call you Daddy." :)

Now back to our regularly scheduled programming .....

I posted the lyrics below the video (in case you just want to read them and not listen), but they also play during the video if you actually take the time to listen to it.

****And Aaron ..... thanks for being willing to fight. You are one amazing father. I'm very blessed. Very. ****




Sanctus Real - “Lead Me”

I look around and see my wonderful life
Almost perfect from the outside
In picture frames I see my beautiful wife
Always smiling
But on the inside, I can hear her saying...

“Lead me with strong hands
Stand up when I can't
Don't leave me hungry for love
Chasing dreams, what about us?

Show me you're willing to fight
That I'm still the love of your life
I know we call this our home
But I still feel alone”

I see their faces, look in their innocent eyes
They're just children from the outside
I'm working hard, I tell myself they'll be fine
They're in independent
But on the inside, I can hear them saying...

“Lead me with strong hands
Stand up when I can't
Don't leave me hungry for love
Chasing dreams, but what about us?

Show me you're willing to fight
That I'm still the love of your life
I know we call this our home
But I still feel alone”

So Father, give me the strength
To be everything I'm called to be
Oh, Father, show me the way
To lead them
Won't You lead me?

To lead them with strong hands
To stand up when they can't
Don't want to leave them hungry for love,
Chasing things that I could give up

I'll show them I'm willing to fight
And give them the best of my life
So we can call this our home
Lead me, 'cause I can't do this alone

Father, lead me, 'cause I can't do this alone