The first time I met Kari 2 years ago was when she showed up at my door with dinner and homemade watermelon sorbet. We had just adopted Abel and she contacted me and said “I’m bringing you dinner.” as a mom of 5 under 5 I didn’t argue! We sat together and she was telling me about research and planning she was doing because she had a dream of opening a farm to cone local ice cream shop. We became a part of the same book club and then we moved into the house right behind hers. The day we moved into our home we didn’t have anything in our fridge but we did have 4 pints of MELT ice cream in our freezer because she somehow knew that after moving in the dead of summer in Texas nothing says “I’m home” like ice cream! I’m so glad God has brought this sweet and fascinating person as well as her sweet and fascinating frozen creations into my life.
Always love joining Emily at Chatting at the sky for these monthly posts. I don’t always do one but when I do I find it’s a good challenge to write and mentally process the past month.
So here it goes.
1. I HATE cold snowy weather…especially when you’re not prepared to go out in it….especially when it happens in March… in Texas…Twice!
I grew up in Alaska. I actually liked snow or at least didn’t hate it. But I think being in the South for the past 15 years has turned me into a warm weather lover…. well, that and having 5 little ones who going outside is pure therapy for them and their mama! I must confess the first time it snowed in March I didn’t take a photo of them playing in it. I didn’t have it in me to get cold. I actually didn’t care to remember it. I felt a little guilty but got over it pretty quickly, but then it hit again… HUGE blanket of soft white fluffy snow. So in order to not tempt fate again… you can bet your ice cold bottom I took a photo that time.
2. I learned the hard way that when your kid wants to eat a Fiber One bar for dinner and then wants another one and you think, “hey, it’s healthy what’s the harm, sure son.” Don’t do it! Or else that child will wake up at 0’dark thirty with all that lovely hard working fiber all over his sheets and body.
the culprit/victim of the fiber one explosion! (our faces were not smiling that night)
3. That my husband is a blogger! I’ve had the extreme privilege of learning from him the past 11 years of marriage as he reads constantly and thinks deeply about Christ and culture and then regurgitates it back to me. Now (as of this month) he finally has a place of his own in the world wide web sphere to write down those thoughts. We are going to have a big fun giveaway soon to celebrate our “beauty and the brains” blogging team that we’ve become. So keep a heads up for it.
Aside from me, Abel just might be his number #1 fan!
3. b. That right now we both tend to write with a certain angst. I think partly it’s because we have been through such a journey the past 15 years of our lives and through the lessons of grief, struggle, having a transracial family, living in various economical neighborhoods, and just overall Jesus stripping us of the things we once took great pride in and taking our lives on a path that we didn’t ever expect to be on. Someone said that they felt like we were bashing the church too much. It’s not that we hate the church… oh the contrary, we love the church very much! We are the church. It’s just that the more we study and see what the early church and the life of Christ was about the more we look around and wonder if we, especially as American believers, really understand what being the church looks like on a day to day basis. And we are battling that ourselves and what that looks like in our lives most of all. I think its also a great way to document our faith through years… I want my kids to know that we weren’t afraid to ask questions or challenge the norm or dive into difficult topics. Because they too will have to ask hard questions and deal with a culture that they will either see Jesus as set apart from or working within. So, I guess you can say that sometimes… we do get angsty and sometimes we get get praisy and passionate and sometimes we post awesome music videos we find on You tube like this one.
* Have you heard of this guy? I hadn’t until last night actually. He’s SO awesome! His mashups are incredible. I really like his Summer hits of 2014 Mash up!
4. I don’t like Meyer lemons. I made a cake with Texas Meyer lemon and despite the warm yellow wonderfulness that I wanted it to be, I didn’t like it at all. It didn’t have the punchy tartness a regular lemon would have…did not know this when I bought it, but now I do. But I took a photo of it before I tried it… so at least it looked pretty. I am on the hunt for the best lemon bundt cake recipe… so if you know of one send it my way!
5. I think this is something that I re-learn every month but I just am not good at limbo. Limbo in relationships… (which is probably why I made poor Dan have way too many DTR talks during our dating process), Limbo in parenthood… the chapter between being a baby and when school starts FEELS like limbo land… but it’s not. But it still feels that way many a time. So I think again, I tend to struggle with finding the settledness I long for in a phase that is soon to pass (and I know I will look back and miss it greatly) but during the day can feel like it will last forever. Limbo in timelines… God transcends time so timelines are only a small piece of the big picture to Him but to this impatient person they are a big deal and I generally have to go running to Him to calm my heart and remind me that He’s got this, it may not be the this I’m thinking of but whatever it may be He’s got it taken care of and He’s already there so I need to chill the heck out! Limbo in communication… I hate not knowing where I stand with someone in a conflict. It’s probably why I press too hard too fast for answers or for resolve. I’m awful at waiting for someone to text/email me back. (and I know that’s like the pot calling the kettle black because Lord knows how many emails slip past me unanswered) But I think, depending on from which side you look at it, that I’m going to be great at keeping in touch with my kids as they grow up… Kids, you don’t text me back, I’ll text all your friends and your friends parents to find out where you are and who chopped off your fingers keeping you from texting me back. Oh the joys they have to look forward to of having me as their mom.
So as I read over this one… I think I really should title it as #5 I’m just not good at being patient.
If you’d like to see what I’ve been learning over the past two years with these scattered monthly posts…. go HERE.
Fight like a girl. Oh for more women who can bring the word like Jen Wilkins can. This is such a great reminder of our importance as women in God’s kingdom. (it’s a 30 minute talk… so when you have time, listen to this and I promise you it will encourage the heck out of you!)
Probably my most favorite blog lately specifically dealing with Adoption. Even if you’re not an adoptive mom you will still benefit from Jessica’s writing on The Mother Years. I love what she wrote HERE as she talked about a dark season of her life: ” I went from sadness to kickassness. And hell shuddered because there’s nothing scarier to Satan than someone who knows their worth and can find happiness regardless of their circumstances.”
I want to try this recipe. We made the Pioneer woman’s olive cheese bread and it was just too rich, good but maybe less would be more in that recipe. But this recipe… it looks like it has potential.
Photographers…. I am just as guilty of this but working on getting better in this area. But THIS is a huge must read about CF cards, and why I always choose Sandisk as my memory card brand of choice!
This post from Seth Godin. I probably will include one of his posts every month because he writes with great clarity and makes you think and I usually really am impacted by something he writes each month.” Part of being our best selves is having the guts to not avert our eyes, to look closely at what scares us, what disappoints us, what threatens us. By looking closely we have a chance to make change happen.”
Oh how I’m trying to implement THIS kind of Kindness into my parenting and into my interaction with others in general. As a yeller…. it’s tough. I know my words hurt and wound… and in the moment my words and tone and loudness are showing my fear, my distrust in God and my frustration at feeling out of control. I say I’m sorry often and I’m so thankful for the grace God gives my kids as they forgive me daily.
Whenever I want a good laugh and a healthy mom dose of sarcasm… I pop on over HERE. It’s Oh So FUNNY!
I know THIS probably wouldn’t work in every situation… especially since you’re probably curled up in a trunk if you’re in this predicament. BUT who knows, it might come in handy. Just like THIS trick of the “mother’s kiss” did when I watched it and a few weeks later Jack stuck a lego up his nose, It totally worked! Don’t think about it in the moment… you just have to do it.
“The baker’s counter will often times overflow with pots and pans and flour and sugar. The mechanics’s hands will be stained with grease and his shop will need a daily once-over with the power washer. And the home—the home will at times be messy and cluttered and downright embarrassing. But take heart, these messes are not proof of a wasted life, but of a productive one.”
When alcoholics realize they have a problem and get sober they probably have to steer clear of alcohol or anything that might lead to alcohol for a long time….. when someone realizes they have a problem with self-righteousness… do they steer clear of the church, of quiet times, of christians and their culture? I think it feels like that is what’s needed for the sake of my inner struggle sometimes. I have an ongoing battle in my heart, one that no one sees and if they were to see one side of it, it wouldn’t look like a problem, it would look respectful and admirable. But I see both sides now… have for some time now. And it’s not pretty.
What used to be a girl who knew all the right things and could say all the right stuff and lived the right way… now is more of a girl who is more skeptical of American Christian culture and wishes she could move to a place where they are just happy to see a bible rather than fighting and shunning those who don’t believe it exactly as they do. It’s REALLY hard to not roll my eyes at things some Believers say, it’s REALLY hard not to want to stand up and scream and say “that’s not what following Him is supposed to be! that’s not what Jesus said or came to do.” But then there’s that same girl wanting to drop names of who I know or the degrees I have or my pedigree…. wanting to be seen and looked up to. It’s really hard to be around and surrounded by Christian culture because whenever I’m around it from the first moment there is a fight going on inside my heart… one side feels so comfortable and very much at home, hungry for what I know I can be and gain from that circle, the other side is uncomfortable and wants to fall on the floor and weep and confess everything I’ve thought that day out loud just so people know the real me and know my real Hope. I feel like I’m both the pharisee and the tax collector…. and usually I’m finding it’s more comfortable and easy and doesn’t require as much energy to be the pharisee in Christian circles.
Sometimes I feel like an addict… a self righteous moralistic addict, but the very triggers I want to avoid (church, other christians, conferences, denomination gatherings, seminary, anything that growing up we were told we needed to do to have a good walk with God) in order to make the fight not as hard are the very things that can bring healing, encouragement, truth, friendship, and accountability. For me, It’s kind of like having an AA meeting in a bar. Challenging yes, but it forces me to keep my focus on what is the real Church, maybe that’s why I’m drawn to churches who meet in buildings that aren’t churches. I think it’s why I like living in neighborhoods where sin and brokenness welcome me as soon as I step outside of my home…. reminding me and holding up a mirror to the sin and brokenness in my own heart and in my own home. (not that I’m saying you have to do those things to see those things… it’s just what helps me.)
I’ve also come to realize that trying to force someone to see the addiction of self-righteousness, moralism, legalism… is probably akin to dragging someone who doesn’t want to stop drinking or sees that they have a problem to an AA meeting. But trust me, those things can fracture a family just as much as a family member being hooked on the bottle. I think it’s easy to think someone who has an issue with alcohol or drugs or other life altering destructive addiction is somehow worse than the addictions we run to but somehow look less harmful. But I’m convinced that the enemy likes it that way. Obedient, pristine, church going, law abiding people… who don’t know their full need of Jesus. What a great life… what a terrible eternity.
Since we are using the illustration of alcoholism… and I do know that it’s a serious problem that hurts families and destroys lives and not to be made little of… but I think what John Piper says about it is truly eye opening, at least it was for me. “Legalism is a more dangerous disease than alcoholism because it doesn’t look like one. Alcoholism makes men fail; legalism helps them succeed in the world. Alcoholism makes men depend on the bottle; legalism makes them self-sufficient, depending on no one. Alcoholism destroys moral resolve; legalism gives it strength. Alcoholics don’t feel welcome in church; legalists love to hear their morality extolled in church.” source
The past few years I’ve longed for a day where I don’t feel like I’m still wrestling with my faith and where I belong and what really matters and what truth is the truth I need to be sharing and who are my kindred people and how do I root out religion in my heart yet draw from a rich tradition of knowledge and true wisdom? What authors/speakers do I read and listen to… writers and speakers I once wouldn’t touch with a 10 foot seminary educated pole I now find to be brothers and sisters in Christ who might take different takes on certain areas of the faith. How do I show my children Jesus and train them to be great people but help them fight the desire to just be well behaved on the outside and show them their constant need of Christ? Am I swinging on a pendulum too far the other way? What is being real look like in todays churches? I want to stand up and cheer sometimes and lay down and weep other times… but neither seem to be appropriate in any of the churches I’ve been to lately. I have Christian friends and family praying for me to see the error of my ways and yet those very ways have helped turn this girl who once prided herself in knowing all 5 verses of a hymn without a hymnbook to one who needs those very words to get through her day because my heart forgets and naturally drifts towards the two lies that either I’m one step away from His displeasure or that because of my great deeds He is pleased with me. When will it all just settle down and be this quiet peaceful walk with God and man? When will the wrestling stop? If I’m honest….it might not ever stop.
And I think I’m okay with that. Because in the wrestling I have found abundant life. I have found deep freedom. And I am hungry for more of both.
I saw the cutest little boy today named Asher around the same age our son Asher would be now. I love that while these crazy babies of mine keep me tethered to the reality of the everyday, the hurting, the needy, the hungry, the searching, the dying, the crazy ones and where I find myself in all of the above, the gift and privilege of being Asher’s mom keeps me tethered to a coming reality where everything sad will become untrue, all wrongs will be made right, and all the grandeur and glory will finally satisfy my unquenchable longing for more, and my wrestling ever-wavering faith will become sight.
My sweet friend Emma (she’s 13 and awesome!!!) has a ministry in Houston making baby blankets for babies who get abandoned in the hospital or have nobody there for them to bring new things to. I got to help her make some when I went to fisit them last year and She cranks these out… ,but the demand is high. (which is sad… but I life that the hospital is wanting her to do this!) So can you donate fabric? make squares? give money? give time? Go check out her BLOG and find out how you can help life the littlest and least of these in Houston!
A case for taking more selfies. “By documenting ourselves, we’re valuing the intrinsic good that we bring to the lives of others. Because we’re not just girlfriends, wives, mothers, and daughters. We’re humans that are loved and love. That make funny jokes, and have good hair sometimes, and make awesome lipstick choices.”
Oh that churches and ministries stop making people who have had premarital sex feel like they are Damaged Goods. “Your marriage is not doomed because you said yes to the boys you loved as a young woman. Your husband won’t hold it against you, he’s not that weak and ego-driven, choose a man marked by grace. It’s likely you would make different choices, if you knew then what you know now, but, darling, don’t make it more than it is, and don’t make it less than it is. Let it be true, and don’t let anyone silence you or the redeeming work of Christ in your life out of shame.”
*as a personal vent, I’ve been to a lot of wedding where the bride and groom were pure and they made a really big deal of it in the ceremony. Now… I get it, I thought I was all that and a bag of chips for not kissing until my wedding day. (yes… I was kind of duggger-ish back then.) But honestly now having been to many weddings… I listen to what pastors say and wonder what in the world anyone who is attending who didn’t have that as their story might be feeling about themselves… about their worth. We can make it sound like “look what a great spouse they get because they saved themselves for marriage”. When marriage is a gift from God and not something we earn or deserve.
Stay at home moms…. don’t wait until you explode to let your husband know you need a break and some time alone. Tell them! stop waiting for them to notice and tell you to go. THIS post is a great reminder.
THIS recipe. Oh my stars!!! Might be the BEST Pinterest recipe I’ve ever made. It’s SO freaking good. A few steps… but worth it.
Couldn’t have said it better myself. THIS post on Why are we so afraid of Down syndrome is a great read! “I feel like the technology for detecting Down syndrome is far more advanced than our understanding of what it means to have Down syndrome — or raise a child with Down syndrome. And for the sake of objective reporting and compassionate care, we should all strive to understand the bigger picture.”
I couldn’t pick between THIS POST for brand new parents or THIS ONE that challenged me to go vacuum my living room. But my sweet friend Heather… she just knows what to write to challenge me where I’m at. Hope it does you as well.
and finally since it was the month of love… I finally finished a highlight video of one of my very best friends wedding back on thanksgiving weekend of last year. Capturing this and seeing the literal answer to years of prayers… it was a complete joy!
1. Sometimes you don’t know something needs tweaking until you try tweaking it. I thought I had the perfect popcorn system…. I knew the right temp and I never burned the popcorn. Until the other day I bumped up the heat by one number and found that it popped quicker and left almost no leftover seeds. I could have settled for works good and doesn’t burn… but oh what a difference 1 number up made. Makes me wonder what else in my life needs tweaking. I think this is the beauty of goal setting and ongoing reflection… it gives you the room to tweak things and analyze things that might need tweaking.
2. Sometimes keeping a strict simple schedule frees you up to have days/weeks that are a little more crazy but very fulfilling. I’m learning that although I like my slower simpler days and I’m tempted to stress when my calendar looks busier than normal and have anxiety when the unexpected pops up, that often God is at work in those days with lots of scribbling on them. One unexpected work of God was bringing this sweet mama to my home for a mini-mini headshot session. (like we took them a stones throw from my house in a trashy alley). Sometimes an hour on the porch listening to a friends story is all you need to give you perspective on what you think is a stressful week.
This adoptive mama who is also a Cancer survivor Blogs HERE:
3. I used to think that it only bothered me when people said “you have to be a strong/patient/good/etc.. person to have 5 kids so close together/adopt” But I realized this month that it bothers me anytime someone says “you HAFE to be a strong/patient/good person to do ______ (fill in the blank). I think we are all thrown into journeys and challenges and twists and turns and tragedy that being strong/good/patient wasn’t a prerequisite for. Someone one facebook said to a mom of a newborn with Down syndrome… “you have to be a strong person to care for a newborn with Down syndrome.” I wanted to yell LIAR! But I didn’t. Each one of us could point to things in our lives that have come into it that either helped us become stronger… more patient.. and realize that only God is truly good but He gives good gifts to us and His image in us is beautiful and good. So ya’ll… lets’ think before saying what people have to be or what they are and focus on who they are becoming through the journey God has them on.
4. I learned I love all of these. Check out my #Casey_LovingLately hashtag on Instagram. @caseychappell.
5. I learned that if you’re counting calories…. Cheesecake Factory is NOT the place you want to go. But that it’s still doable… if you don’t eat pretty much anything else that day and order a salad and split the Lemon Raspberry Cheesecake.
6. I’m going to miss Parenthood for a long time!! That show taught me SO much about the way I want to do family and life together. Here are a few take aways that the Braverman family inspired me with. * let your kids come home * marriages are worth fighting for *adoption is rarely the adventure we set out on and harder than we think but more fulfilling than we could ever imagine. * put your kids needs first in dealing with school systems…. if needed create the school your kid needs.* kids will go through all kinds of crap and phases in their lives but if you maintain/pursue a relationship with them you will be there with them on the other side. *Travel more as a married couple *We need to come along side of parents with children with autism and support them way more than we do. *plastic surgery is almost always a bad idea (camille)… but over time people will get used to it. *pursue your dreams *support your spouse as they pursue their dreams * take up projects as you get older that you can incorporate your kids/grandkids into. * step back and look at your family and enjoy what God has given you.
7. Organic ground beef is worth the extra money. It just is. Save in other areas, but the ground beef….buy the grass-fed stuff. (and not having to split up and rewrap the meat by getting the 3 pack of organic at costco is just worth the splurge all the way around.)