“Common Sense”

Today it is hard being a renter.

Sure, there are many days when I am very grateful I don’t have to pay the property tax or care if the home value drops.  Most of the time I love just sending a check each month and not worrying about the upkeep that home ownership requires.  We have rental properties back in California, so I’m well aware of all the work that goes into keeping up a home and most days I like not having to deal with it where I currently live.  It’s kind of freeing to rent.

Not today, though…. *Sigh*

Then there are days I wish I could paint the discolored walls, replace the running toilet, and just get the dang sink fixed already.  I mean how many times do I have to tell the landlord (who lives next door) that it leaks?  Not to mention that the oven ticks unless it’s unplugged from the wall.  When I asked him about that he just said to leave it unplugged when it’s not being used, and would I call the manufacturer to get the part?  Um, the oven is older than me and I have no idea what part it needs and why do I have to deal with YOUR ticking oven anyway?!  So I just unplug it when I’m not using it…

But today set me off.  Maya was quietly playing with her water table on the front porch, and he walked up and said I needed to put something under the water table so that water wouldn’t drip onto the porch.  He had asked me about this before, so I pointed out that I had moved the water table so that it was sitting on top of a bamboo outdoor rug.  He then proceeded to tell me that wasn’t good enough and it needed to be something like a tray so that it could catch the water.

?!

If that wasn’t enough, he told me he saw that I’d used the water faucet on the side of the house and that water had dripped onto the driveway and it was “common sense” that water should not get on the driveway.  I about LOST it.  What about the 17 inches of snow we’d had?  “Nature”, he replied.  What drove me nuts even more was that as we were speaking, it was raining!

To make matters worse (I was already visibly irritated at this point) he pointed out a bag of top soil that he’d left on the driveway that someone had run over with a tire and some of the soil was coming out of the bag.  He asked me if I’d done this, which I replied that I didn’t know, and why would he leave a bag of soil in the path where the cars drive anyway?  He said we should watch where we are driving and it is just “common sense”.

Oh.  My.  Goodness.

So offered to buy him a new bag of top soil, but he just shook his head.

I know I raised my voice.  I may have rolled my eyes.  I wasn’t exactly turning the other cheek, and I explained my frustration at the level of analytics he was providing on my every move.  It’s “common sense” he kept saying, and I kept reminding him of how it’s “common sense” for a landlord to fix things like ticking ovens and leaking sinks and the other things I’ve told him that are wrong that he continues to ignore.

How come he gets to pick on me for getting the driveway wet but I can’t ask him to fix things?!  I felt like a little kid who was being treated unfairly by a parent.  And I felt bad for raising my voice and getting upset.

I went into the house, left David a long, very annoyed voicemail and put Maya down for her nap.

And so here I sit, trying to find the Hallelujah in this and remembering our rent is super affordable, the neighborhood is safe and an overbearing landlord that doesn’t fix things is better than what most of the world has to deal with regarding living conditions.

But I also want to be real with y’all.  Today was not my best day.  Today it sucks to rent.  Today my oven is annoying the HECK out of me and while I’m so grateful for so much in my life, today I whined.  A lot.  Today I wanted to throw “common sense” out the window and purposefully start dowsing the porch and the driveway with buckets and buckets of water.

Today revealed the not so pretty parts of my heart.

So if you’re ever tempted to think us Urban Hallelujah gals have it all together and never lose our temper and are perfectly sweet, I’m sorry to say you can’t sit here (insert Forrest Gump voice).  My husband said I let an 80 year old man ruin my day with a little bit of water.

Common sense says I need to get over it. 🙂

Have you ever had one of those days where something just set you off?  What did you do?

Rachel Signature

Life, In One Simple Thought…

20140521-204313-74593426.jpg

 

If lay people cannot find any spiritual meaning in their work, they are condemned to living a certain dual life; not connecting what they do on Sunday morning with what they do the rest of the week.  They need to discover that the very actions of daily life are spiritual, and enable… people to touch God in the world, not away from it.  Such a spirituality will say… ‘Your work is your prayer.'”…  Your daily work is ultimately an act of worship to the God who called and equipped you to do it– no matter what kind of work it is.

~Tim Keller, Every Good Endeavor

This.

This pretty much sums up Urban Hallelujah, and how I want to live my life.

My husband left today for Atlantic City after being away all last week, which comes on the heels of multiple events the weeks prior.  He is tired and his spirit is exhausted.  Yet somehow, through the hustle-hustle this part of the country demands, there has to be a way to connect it all back to the One who gave it to us in the first place.

So I picked up Tim Keller’s book (pastor of Redeemer Presbyterian in New York City) and am reading through.  It’s tough, his style is just like the business world– practical, factual, non-emotional or flowery… Almost scientific even.  But then he quotes one of my favorite movies, Chariots of Fire and I’m engaged: “You can praise the Lord by peeling a spud, if you peel it to perfection.”

This week, may I peel my “potatoes” with “perfection”, knowing that true perfection is made only in weakness (2 Corinthians 12:9).  May his glory be revealed both in the beauty of a gentle sunset and the sorrow of receiving bad news.  May I remember His abundant provision and care, rest as a true daughter of the King, and hurry through nothing.  May I be proud of my calling today, without worrying for what it may be tomorrow and peel every so-called ‘potato’ with delight.  May my daily work be an “act of worship to the one who called and equipped me to do it.”

May I remember to whom I belong.

And whatever you do, in word or deed,

do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus,

giving thanks to God the Father through him.

~Colossians 3:17

Rachel Signature2

 

On the Verge

20140511-120227.jpg

Satan wants us to believe the lie that the next big thing we are waiting for will make everything better.

He wants us to sit waiting, like lame ducks, powerless and on the verge of something great.  He wants us on the verge because so many times we’re paralyzed in this position.  Oh how he loves us paralyzed Christians.

Satan loves knowing that our hope is in ___.  If it’s in whatever lies ahead, our hope is not in Christ.  He will do anything to disguise himself in whatever idol it is we are grasping for; no matter how honorable that ‘thing’ may be.

I know this because I have believed this lie.

I have been the lame duck.

I have put my hope in ___, ____ and ___.

Let me just tell you– Satan SUCKS.

He’s full of lies.  You are going to be disappointed.  Every. Single. Time.

Your life will not magically be amazing when ___ happens.  Sure, it will feel amazing for a while, and it may change the course of your life.  But if your hope is in that, if your life’s very happiness is riding on it, believe you me you will get ROCKED.  Out of the boat I might add.

It may be so innocent, may appear to be good inentioned…  May even look something like this:

I just want a husband…  If only I could get pregnant…  I just don’t feel like our family is complete without another child…  I wish I could get that job…  I hope I get in…  I want him to get another job…  I just need to move…  I wish we could sell this house…  I think we need to find a new church…  I need to get better…  I want to buy ___…  When she’s potty trained…  If he would be a spiritual leader…  When the baby sleeps through the night…

Oh. My. Goodness.  The list can go on forever, amen?

Satan wants to rob you of your happiness.  He wants to steal your joy.  When you are on the verge— ready, sooooo ready for that next thing don’t let evil one in.  He will take a seat on the very throne of your heart and one by one rip down every single blessing and turn it into another reason why you just have to have what you’re waiting for.  That’s why being on the verge is so delicate.  We must be ready, but ready for Christ.

I say this because I feel as though I am on the verge right now.  I do not know what I am on the verge of, but I have been here before and I know how quickly being in this emotional and mental state can quickly turn into an ungrateful, whiny, desperate, HOT MESS.  My focus turns towards ___, and like Peter, I quickly begin to sink.

Not this time, I hope.

Instead of being on the verge of something, I so desperately want to be on the verge with someone.  That someone being Christ.

“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy.  I came that they may have life  and have it abundantly.” (John 10:10)

Rachel Signature

5 Seconds Of Encouragement For The Worst Days Of Your Marriage

heart

This one’s worth tucking away for a rainy day…

Because Lord knows, the rain will come!

“The vows are serious. Staggeringly serious. But you did not take them trusting in your own strength to perform. The grace that enabled you to take those vows will be there to draw on when the performance of them seems impossible.”

-Elisabeth Elliot, Let Me Be a Woman

… and that’s all folks! Some things are just so good they don’t need any help.

 

Krista Signature

Not Pretty, But Beautiful

I can't believe my baby girl is 2! :)

I can’t believe my baby girl is 2! 🙂

I was scampering around the internet, trying to find something super cool and fun to do in celebration of Maya’s 2nd birthday.  She made it to 2!  I thought to myself.  This is a huge feat for not just her but for us!  We’ve got to make it super exciting!  Super COOL!  Super FUN!!!

Just like you’d expect, ain’t nobody living up to pressure like THAT.  Go figure it was pressure I was putting on myself.  So after a couple hours of looking up ideas from here to New York City to Paramus to Riverdale, I cashed in my chips and decided it wouldn’t be a pinterest pretty party.  No, no, no.  Maybe one year; yes– definitely some year, but this would not be the year.  Number two would not be the photogenic party…  It would be the opposite actually!  Just us, some cake, a few presents, and of course the beautiful birthday girl. 🙂

And you know what?

05082014 beautiful 3

Super cool, super fun table setting 😉

It wasn’t pretty.  The “Happy Birthday” sign I bought at Target ended up not having the “A” in “happy”.  We ate frozen potstickers on paper plates and put a candle in a store bought coffee cake.  We wore two-dollar party hats and sang the birthday song somewhat off key.  I didn’t edit a single one of these photos.  I cherished the entire evening.  It. Was. BEAUTIFUL.  I thought to myself, screw pretty.  I’ll take beautiful today.

05082014 beautiful2

Happy birthday sweet girl 🙂

Mamahood has surprised me in so many ways.  I am surprised I enjoy it this much, humbled by how much I don’t know, and encouraged to learn that what I do know most likely won’t really matter.  I am so grateful God changed my dreams and that my husband supports my decision to stay home.  I am ever in love with the little heart my girl has and it’s ability captivate mine.  I had no idea I would like being a mother.  I had no idea I would love her this much.  Mamahood, while a crazy rodeo, has won me over.

To all of you out there in blog land, who look around at the messes and your middle piles (because come on, we all have a middle pile, yes?  The dirty pile, the clean pile, the middle pile that’s somewhere in between but surely will be worn again!) it’s more than fine if it’s not pretty today.  It’s okay you’re serving dinner out of that 9×13 pan and not that pretty serving platter.  It’s really alright that your cupcakes were made from a box.  They probably taste amazing, if it’s the same box mix I use! 😉  It’s beautiful what you’re able to give your family.  Whatever it is.  Easy mac or Five cheese macaroni, it’s all beautiful.

Even if it’s not pretty!

Rachel Signature2

 

This one’s for the Idiots.

tulips of park ave

I got to be honest. There are so many things I can’t say right now, so many feelings I can’t fully describe, and so many situations and people who I can’t expose. Even more, so many reasons why I find it absolutely. useless. to write.

But at the chance that there is someone – anyone – who is out there struggling like me to find God amidst the storm they are in, I will sit down and write. It aint gon’ be fancy, and I have little to no intention of editing this to death, I just want to share a straightforward story about how the Lord showed up in the nick of time… and made my jaw drop.

It was a couple of days before my 30 days was up and around the same time the panic started setting in, as I wondered whether God would show up or not and move mountains in my life? I was reading in the book of Luke about a man named Zechariah, who had an angel of the Lord came to him.

The angel began by encouraging Zechariah by saying,“Don’t be afraid, the Lord has heard your prayer…” 

The angel then continued by outlining (if you ask me, a mind-boggling amount) of things that the Lord promised He would do in Zechariah’s life:

– that despite their old age that his wife would become pregnant with a son.

– that his name would be John and he would bring great joy and gladness

– that John could never touch alcohol

– that God would use John in amazing ways (which he went on to describe in detail) and that he would possess the same spirit and power of Elijah

-Oh, and his favorite color would be indigo (Not really, I was just making sure you were still paying attention!)

There is no denying the miracle it would be to have an angel of the Lord sent to you! To have the Lord make promises concerning your future! Imagine what fears it could calm… what questions it would answer… the hope it would give to face tomorrow!

But Zechariah’s response?

Buckle your seat belts for this one…

“How can I be sure this will happen?”

What an idiot! I nearly slammed my Bible shut at the thought!

REALLY ZECHARIAH!?!?! A FRIKKIN ANGEL comes to you! FROM GOD! Making promises! BIG PROMISES! …And you whine and question!!?!?! 

What I wouldn’t do to have the same thing happen to me!!! 

At the exact same time a loose sheet of paper fell from the pages of my Bible. Squinting to make out the words, I picked up the familiar list and brought it close enough so I could scan what it is that I wrote.

(Insert: Jaw droppage!)

No way…

it couldn’t be…

But THERE IT WAS!

A list… of all the things God has promised ME in the last 60 days!

A list I had started the day everything fell to pieces and when I’d sworn off all books and well-intentioned advice and DEMANDED to hear directly from Him! A list that clearly states what God said… when He said it… and the verses I found it in!

It reads:

– “I will rescue you, I will fight for you. Just stay calm.”

– “Come to me, I can be trusted”

– “I know you don’t know what to do but I will give you wisdom”

– “I am good and my plan for your life is perfect”

– “Continue praying and never give up!”

And yet in my faithlessness I also respond, “But, but, but… How can I be sure this will happen?” 

…How can I be sure that God will fight my battles? That He will guide my every step? How can I be sure that He is listening to my every prayer and that His plan for my life is perfect? 

And just like Zechariah, I’m an idiot! 

We all are sometimes…

We fail to see on a regular basis is that our God is good even when our circumstances are so very very bad. That He is a God that can be trusted even when no one else around can be. That while it’s true our lives may look like a jumbled mess, and we may not know what to do, that He will always give us the wisdom we need. Even when there is no more fight left…and no more prayers left to pray… that He will fight for us (and He will win!) so long as we never give up!

And those are promises!

So for all the idiots out there like me…

May we rest in the comfort knowing that we need not be afraid, because the Lord has heard our every prayer…

and He WILL do what HE promised! 

“You are blessed because you believed that the Lord would do what He said” Luke 1:45

Krista Signature

 

When the Plot Thickens

20140501-085405.jpg

Sometimes, when God is writing the storyline of your life, He throws a twist in the plot so thick you can barely see through it.  The ending you thought was destined to happen suddenly seems impossible and it feels as if the only certainty is surprise.  There He goes, thickening the plot and shaking things up!

I’ve always been one to raise my hand for adventure…  But this?  This was supposed to be where I’d live my happy ending!

I guess He writes better stories anyway so I should just trust Him already.  I mean He did part a couple of seas, feed thousands of people from nothing, create a whole universe with the breath of his voice, close the mouths of lions, took a magic hand and wrote on a wall…  Yeah, he’s pretty much got it when it comes to writing stories.

Still, I wonder.

How will you write this into my story, Lord?  Don’t forget about me!

On Monday the rumors were confirmed as true.  The company my husband works for is relocating their North American corporate sales and marketing headquarters to TEXAS.  While it really has no impact on us right now since he works for a regional field office, our sure bet of “all roads lead back to California” folded.  It now appears as though all roads lead to Plano, Texas!

How the heck are we supposed to get back to California now?!

Yes, I realize that it’s just a job.  One can quit a job and get another and all that.  But that is easier said than done, and his job is not one he’d easily walk away from.

As I was taking Maya for a walk that day, I felt a strange sense of ease.  Calmness.  It was almost as if relief swept over me.  I could not understand this for the life of me, since missing California is what I’ve been bitching about ever since we moved here.  But there in the parking lot of CVS with my bag of clearance Easter jelly beans I realized God knows and God’s got this.  My get out of jail free card is gone and it’s as if God was the one to throw it out the window.  No more holding onto that card waiting for the perfect time to use it.  He says “I’ve got this, I’m the author and the perfecter and my grace is sufficient.”

Will I let Him keep writing, or take back the pen?

If I trust that God is marching ahead (Judges 4:14) I’ve got to believe this turn of events is purely part of the story.  I must lay this at his feet and leave it there, believing He knows.

And so the plot thickens…  But what good story doesn’t?  May I give Him back the pen that is already His to begin with and wait with expectation.

Rachel Signature