“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?

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Life, In One Simple Thought…

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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

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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?

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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.

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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!

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A Day In the Life: SNOWED IN

02062014 Snowed In

I used to think snow was magical.

I love Christmas movies with lots of snow and I think snow men are handsome (as long as I don’t have to make them!).  I gaze at frost dusted branches with a sort of lovingly stare and think frozen ponds are breathtaking.  I love seeing tender snowflakes waft to the ground or stick to my kitchen windowsill.  Snow has beauty, peace, excitement even.  Snow is somewhat heavenly.

Until recently.

Until snow upon snow upon snow when it just became an icy mess of brown and black and dirt and salt!

Until days upon days of more snow and more snow!

Until being snowed in took on a whole new meaning!

Until shoveling snow lost it’s “workout” appeal!

I haven’t made it out of my pajamas today.  Thank goodness I brushed my teeth and washed my face, I feel like I accomplished something!  With all this snow, I’ve been cooped up inside so long my rational thinking went all out the window.

Why should I clean? I mean we’re not going anywhere! (Duh, that’s why I should clean, because I have to live in this mess!)

Laundry what?  I mean who needs clothes when you have jammies? (My poor, poor husband.  I actually feel sorry for him and am disgusted with myself for wearing pajamas this many times in a row!)

Cooking?  Who wants a real meal when all we want to do is snack due to boredom (I may or may not have let my daughter eat five suckers all at once just because it was slightly entertaining).

Productivity?  I’m snowed in!  I have tons of time to be productive, so I can do that later! (Or waste all that precious time on facebook, pinterest, the blogosphere and craigslist!)

We’ve been watching waaaaaay toooooo muuuuuch TV around here (please, I know kids aren’t supposed to watch TV before the age of 2 but we are SNOWED IN!  For the love please cut me some slack!).  We’ve been playing with the same puzzles, books, coloring books and dolls over and over again…  We’ve brought out the play tent and pretend choo-choo trains (wine crates anyone?!) and even made cookies (which we’ve been eating too much of as well!).  My daughter who is usually very content with being at home said to me the other day “go!”.  When  I asked her where she wanted to go, she looked at me like I was crazy– like I could take her anywhere and she would love me forever but she simply answered in an obvious tone “the store!”.  I would love to baby, but, ahem, SNOW.

So, I did what any normal mother would do who is bored out of her mind.  I brought out dice, and we fed the dice to the dolls, filled up some cups with the dice, dumped out the dice, dropped the dice in the washing machine (oops), found the dice, shoved the dice places dice should not be shoved and finally put the dice away (bad idea playing with dice when you have a 21 month old).  Back to puzzles (bless you Melissa and Doug with your cutesy wood puzzles complete with those “neat” plastic knobs…  I have stepped on one too many of those and while my feet are cursing my fingers will type bless you…)

I just got a ping on my phone, right now, no joke– there is a winter storm warning for tonight and then another storm is on it’s way this weekend.  Oh joy!

But this is Urban Hallelujah, so…

I am grateful for the opportunity to actually be bored.  My husband has been working like a mad man while I am mad at Melissa and Doug puzzles?!  I am SO GRATEFUL for the gift of being able to slow down so much that I can even get bored!

I made the most amazing chicken broth FROM SCRATCH and people– it turned out delicious!  And I used my crockpot!  And it simmered overnight while I slept so I didn’t even have to look at it!  I guess being snowed in makes you creative with chicken that needs to be eaten!

I’ve been able to catch up on all the episodes of Parenthood.  Yes!  And the Bachelor!  Not sure if that’s a yes! or not. 🙂

We have had real family dinners around our table (protein shakes and broccoli count, right?!), story-time under piles of soft, creamy blankets, endless hours of hide and seek and a couple bottles of delicious wine!

We’ve enjoyed lots of rest!  Maya slept over 14 hours and then the next night 13 hours all while still taking her usual couple hour nap! I know, I’m lucky, my girl likes her snooze button almost as much as her mama!

But perhaps the best part of being snowed in is just relishing in my little family…  No where to go, no one to see, just these two fabulous people I am so lucky to love and be loved by!  So while I have been bored out of my mind surrounded by snow, I have been surrounded by love even more.

Thank you Lord, for even this much snow.

Hallelujah! 🙂

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When What You Have, Is Not Enough

Leaves

I could see the man struggling up ahead; battling the autumn wind as it blew the garbage can he was pulling, over in a fury. Tossing all of its contents out on the street, I watched from afar as the man ran around in a frenzy as the wind whisked everything in opposite directions, each piece seemingly on a mission of it’s own!  And just as he had steadied the garbage can long enough to fill it with each of the runaway scraps, almost instantaneously, another frigid gust of wind blew again, causing a wave of trash to spill onto the street once again!

Bad day…” is all he said as he walked by.

I smiled, because that’s all he had to say.

We’ve all been there. Working feverishly, when a gust of wind so massive and strong, leaves our efforts spilled out on the pavement. As the wind continues to blow, we grasp aimlessly at all that is whirling around us! And just when we have steadied ourselves, and nearly dusted off all the dirt from our clothes… Poof! Another gust blows it all right back in our face again!

Damn wind.

I dont know about you, but for me it’s been a ‘crayon on the walls – milk on the couch – hot pink stickers on the floors – earrings in the garbage – “look mommy, I colored my white sneakers with your red lipstick!”  kind of week! A week in which you find – you aren’t nearly as surprised as you should be – that you found a piece of uncooked pasta in your bed, and that you struggle to determine when it was that you last took a shower!

You know you’ve endured a week like this, when you are envious of even your own instagram pictures- portraits portraying the perfect little ‘tantrum-less’ family, bright blue skies, picturesque cityscapes, and more ‘glow’ and less ketchup on the faces of your children thanks to the lo-fi filter!

And although occurrences like these don’t make it a bad week, I think we could all agree it can definitely make it a windy one at best!

And just as I was settling into bed one night, weary, and bracing for another day of mayhem, this thought came to my mind…

Give thanks for what is NOT enough.

I thought back to a message I had heard years ago by Bishop T.D. Jakes on the feeding of the 5,000. A story that no doubt, the majority of us learned back in grade school thanks to a soft spoken sunday school teacher, wearing a gold cross around her neck, and manning the flannel graph board! (The lesson falling somewhere between putting your quarters in the plastic church steeple for offering, and getting star stickers for reciting your memory verse!)

In Matthew 14, Jesus spends the day with a large crowd of people. As it gets later, the people become hungry, and instead of turning them away and sending them home,  Jesus instructs the disciples to feed them.

Looking at what they had, the disciples questioned their ability to do this for obvious reasons…

“We have here only five loaves of bread and two fish,” they answered.

“Bring them here to me,” he said… taking the five loaves and the two fish and looking up to heaven, he gave thanks and broke the loaves.

Taking the little they had to offer, Jesus gave thanks to God!

He gave thanks for what was not enough!

Surely there was no possible way that 5 loaves of bread and 2 fish would feed 20 people, let alone 5,000! But Jesus was thankful for it regardless.

Only after he gave thanks, did that which was NOT enough, become MORE than enough! And not only were they able to feed every one of the 5,000, but in the end, they even had some left over!

The truth is – if we were really honest – we would admit that we too desire for God to bless us with more than enough! And yet, so often we refuse to acknowledge what we already have!

We want a bigger house, a better paying job, a more exciting opportunity (and god only knows in my case, a better behaved toddler, Michelle Obama’s arms, and a bigger kitchen… ) but the fact of the matter is, we need to stop complaining about what we don’t have, and thank God for what we already do have! Even, when it is NOT enough!

treesThis last week I felt even more, God pressing me to admit when I am not enough – not enough as a mom, not enough as a wife, and not enough as a woman! The times when the winds are raging and I want to throw up my hands and give up. The days I don’t have enough patience… enough energy… enough time…. and not nearly enough paper towels! The days I want to light pinterest on fire and watch it burn, or curse out the friend on Facebook who insists on giving daily play backs on how ‘uhhhhmazing’ their workout was!

I could feel the Lord asking me to come to Him – the same way the disciples had – and bring to Him my feelings of inadequacy and unworthiness.

I love how Jesus responds in verse 18, when the disciples come to Him and admit that what they possess couldn’t possibly be enough. His response is simple, ‘Bring it to me’.

Jesus didn’t turn them away for their lack of faith, or talk them into believing that what they had would suffice,

He only asked that they put the little they DID have, in His hands.

And so I told the Lord, that I wasn’t enough… I admitted that at times, I am painfully insecure, and described to Him my ongoing struggle to find my identity in this world. I told him, that too often my temper flails, and negativity gets the best of me. That I panic in a cluttered room, hate the playground, and can’t for the life of me master the sock bun!

I owned all of my shortcomings, and l chose in that moment to place them all in His hands.

But I didn’t stop there…

Although I don’t have it all, I thanked him for what I DO have! I have rockstar hair, and beautiful nail beds (yes, there is such a thing believe it or not! 🙂 ) I am thoughtful, and I am bold. I don’t sweat the small stuff, and I possess a faith in the Lord that is unshakeable. I have a gift with words, and am always, ALWAYS down to go t-peeing at any given moment! Not to mention, I can make a MEAN roast chicken!

After giving myself some much-deserved credit, I realized that the potential greatness in me – that the potential greatness in ALL of us – is  no different than the seemingly measly bread and fish that the disciples gave to Jesus!

But our God doesn’t see the mere amount we have to offer, He sees the potential for it to be used in a way that is far greater than we could have ever dreamed possible!

The truth is, If we desire to someday move from NOT having enough, to having MORE than enough, than we must first bring it all to Him – the fears that are looming, the money that is lacking, the joy that is missing, and the sanity that is dwindling – lay it at His feet, and thank Him…

Thank Him for what is not enough.

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Though Much is Taken, Much Abides

imageLet’s see if you can relate to the week I just had-

My family has had an ongoing cash reward for whoever finds the missing sippy cup, that was filled with milk, and got misplaced 3 weeks ago…

and this week we found it!

Although I wouldn’t categorize what we found as looking like ‘milk’ anymore – or tasting like milk for that matter – by the look of my daughter’s face when she took a swig! – Praise Jesus.

I also got in my first ‘NYC style argument’ with my husband, and am now fully aware of the problems it poses; because when you are exceedingly annoyed with nearly everyone in existence, and you live in a 650 sq ft apartment in Manhattan, and your daughter is sleeping in your one and only bedroom, and your husband is watching sports in the living room…

the only place left to retreat is the bathroom….

and the only place to sit in the bathroom, is the toilet!

Definitely not my most glamorous exit-in-a-fit-of-rage-to-prove-my-point scenario!

But I probably deserved it since my newfound New York attitude had me out of character and spitting off attitude that had me groveling endlessly the next day.

Then my sunglasses broke!

And my daughter woke up an hour early every. single. day.

Screaming!

I also got so lost in Central Park that even google maps couldn’t pinpoint the trail that I was on, and I broke my dining room table chair when I sat down to eat dinner  (which I don’t have to tell you is upsetting for more reason than one!)

And after a long night of having nightmares of mice. ..specifically mice getting their back legs stuck in the sticky traps I layed out and dragging their bodies still attached to the traps, by their front paws, squealing as they make their way towards my bedroom… The next morning, I sit down groggy and disoriented, my morning cup of coffee in one hand, and flipping through the latest Martha Stewart magazine with the other.

I pore over her promising tips on which grain will help lure your “ideal bird” to come eat of the $40 bird house you have in your spacious back yard that you had landscaped to look like a Japanese Garden. And continue reading, to consider her recipe for ‘Pork with Pears and Parsnips’ that she vows will make all your dinner party guests swoon…

Really Martha?

I don’t even know what a Parsnip is.

And I secretly kind of want to punch you in your face!

So after a long week of being taunted by Martha, trapped in the bathroom, and pleading endlessly with my daughter to STEP. AWAY. FROM. THE. MILK CUP!!!!!  Naturally, the only thing that would suffice in reversing the trauma of this past week – other than therapy, of course – would be to dim the lights, and take a candle lit, lavender scented bubble bath where finally, I can be alone with my thoughts!

Oh to dream…

because our bathtub is broke!

Sigh. Only in New York City….

I doubt it’s any surprise to all of you who have been reading these past few months- but since starting this blog and writing out my thoughts each week, I have truly realized how despicably human I am! It seems like every week I am in desperate need of an attitude adjustment – a ‘Come to Jesus Moment’ if you will!

So after a week like that, I did what I thought would put me in my place, and I opened up my bible.

I read about Noah, and how out of obedience to God he built an ark…

I read about Abraham, and how even after he reached the land God had promised him, that ‘he was like a foreigner, living in tents’ -and I laughed, because boy can I ever relate to that now that I live in NYC!

But believe it or not, it was once I closed my bible and instead, got on Facebook, that the Lord truly spoke to my discontent and weary heart!

And I can thank my friend Christina for that!

Christina and I have been friends for a little over 3 years. And in the short time that I have known her, she has been the picture of  immeasurable strength and courage! A true example of what it looks like to possess true happiness;  the kind that isn’t dependent on outside forces.

Christina is a dear friend to me, and yet I have only met her face to face twice.

It’s complicated, but I think Christina’s words to me best describe our friendship:

I know we’ve hardly ever met, but something about you and your husband is special to me, I don’t know how to describe it. Sometimes people are put in our lives at just the right time.

You and Ricky reminded me what it was to be young and in love, and inspired me with your posts, just when I needed a boost. So it always seemed like a friendship.

In our mere 3 year Facebook friendship, she was one of the very first people to ‘like’ our ultrasound picture the day we announced that we were expecting a baby. And still to this day, I can remember the heartfelt message she sent the day we brought our precious little baby girl home with us from the hospital – no doubt reminiscing herself, of the day when she did the same with each of her own children.

Even when my husband and I humorously bickered back and forth, or posted borderline cruel pictures of each other on Facebook, she seemed to instantly get our sense of humor and was always sure to intergect her playfulness and wisdom – which of course, always pointed towards me being right!

She was always so genuinely happy for us, and I couldn’t understand it. I almost felt unworthy of the overwhelming kindness she never failed to flood us with!

Still to this day, she is one of the only strong friendships I’ve had on Facebook, with someone I’ve nearly never got to spend time with in person!

But like Christina said, “Sometimes people are put in our lives just at the right time.”

That was proven, when throughout my father in-law’s battle with cancer her constant presence was there; leaving encouraging messages of high hopes and support, and offering an understanding few others could give…

because she too, was in the fight of her life!

We watched as she battled stage four breast cancer, and as the fiery red curls that had once cascaded down her back, fell out…

But she was never anything less than captivatingly!

We read her vulnerable posts expressing the immense physical pain she was under…

But she stayed courageously hopeful!

There were times when she was candid, and raw; vocally standing up to the cancer that kept knocking her down…

But her graciousness and compassion never wavered!

There were small victories, where we all rooted enthusiastically for her from the sidelines,

And there was heartbreaking lows, that had us in tears on the other end of the computer screen.

imageAfter an extensive battle, it was decided that all treatment would stop and that she would enter hospice.

Once again, she would take us all by surprise, when – the day the heartbreaking plan was announced – she changed her Facebook profile picture to one similar to this;

Life is good.

And there it remains still to this day!

Looking back on her posts, I read one from January 1, 2013

I’m feeling pretty good today, on and off,  the best I’ve been for awhile.

I got to witness some great acts of love and holiday spirit. I live for those, you know…

A good and happy day where I can type, are few and farther now, so I celebrate them.

Thank you all for the happiness and love and great visits and chats. Thanks, so many thanks.

6 days later Christina passed away.

As I almost ‘studied’ her last facebook status, I was overwhelmed with shame -imagining the magnitude of the pain she had suffered over the course of those last two years-

Her ability to describe a “good and happy day” as one where she can merely type!

Embarrassed, I thought back to the last few days of this week, where upon my husband returning home from work, I could barely muster up the words to describe my day as anything more than “difficult”

Why, because my living room floor is an endless sea of books and toys?

Or because as a stay at home mom, my lack of reasons to get out of my pajamas and put on makeup in the morning, often leaves me to question my worth?

Or the fact that I am up to my neck in errands that need to be run, behavior issues that need to be handled, and baths that need to be given – and re-given when fuchsia frosting is found, and my daughter looks like a real life ‘Pinkalicious’!  

Not to mention the looming responsibility of making a ‘homemade meal’ that by society’s standard should be prepared with love (and preferably organic with no GMO’S), and conveniently being pulled from the oven at the exact moment my husband walks through the front door- Inconvenient for me however, because this is also around the time that I’m nearly at my wits-end and about .04 of a tantrum away from having one myself!

Christina reminded me however, that no matter how real these feelings can be at times, one thing is certain- I don’t know ‘difficult’!

My heart sank, as I realized that if SHE was able to speak out of such sincere gratitude when she was facing ultimately, the greatest loss – her life! – Then what on god’s green earth was MY excuse?

This week, Christina taught me a valuable lesson that both Noah and Abraham combined couldn’t have breathed into these lifeless lungs!

I need to celebrate life!

Celebrate till my last breath the way Christina did!

Celebrate that fact that even the dingiest apartment can be made ‘homey’ with vanilla scented candles, early morning giggles under the covers, and freshly baked bread on the stove.

And that the husband I may feel like doesn’t see eye to eye with me every second of every day, is still the only man on the face of this planet that can give me butterflies!

Celebrate that even on the most tiring of days, with my daughter cuddled up in my arms, all the tantrums, timeouts, and snotty noses, melt away in the name of snuggles and bedtime stories.

imageEven when my frustration mounts, and the endless people and pandemonium of NYC gets to be too much, I can celebrate the beauty of it from across the river, allowing just enough space to fall in love with it all over again!

Christina is right,  it’s most definitely ‘a good and happy day’ !

Life is good.

And we’ve been waiting way too long to celebrate it!

Though much is taken, much abides;

And though we are not now that strength which in old days

Moved earth and heaven, that which we are, we are;

One equal temper of heroic hearts,

Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will

To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.

-Alfred Tennyson, as posted by Christina’s husband throughout her battle with cancer.

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The Lord Hast Made Me, And He Dost Know

image It seems like ages ago, when as an acne faced 18 year old girl, I stood before my graduating class in heels that had me wobbling up to the stage, to open up our Baccalaureate ceremony.

“Well, here we are…” I said nervously, pausing just long enough to question why I’d volunteered to speak infront of so many of my peers in the first place.

I continued, “Most of us have spent countless times sitting next to each other, either as good friends or fellow classmates. While others of us are sitting next to each other for the very first time. But together, there is one thing we have in common- we have all shared many memories over the years.

Maybe you remember Elementary school, where your popularity was determined not by your social status or amazing good looks and charm, but by whether you got to sit in the back of the bus and by which boy you had chasing you around at recess pulling your hair… We know who you are! “I said eyeing the culprits who were sitting among us.

“Luckily in Middle School, the boys came up with a less excrusciatingly painful way of showing their affection. How could we forget the ‘Do you like me? check yes or no’ love letters that were usually thrown at our heads in the form of paper airplanes!

Yet before we knew it, we were walking the crowded halls of high school, where it’s not unlikely that some of the wisest things you learned were things you read scribbled on the bathroom stall.

These were the years where we made the grade, broke a record, found love -or were just lucky enough to find a prom date!”

I spoke with certainty as I closed, “But as the day gets closer to graduation, who knows what memories we have yet to experience in this next stage of our lives? In Jeremiah 29:11 the Lord says, For I know the plans I have for you, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. 

We have been given a future in Christ, and by following the will of God we are not only going to hit the target, but the bulls eye!

(I’m sure when I said that last sentence, I thought it sounded waaaaaay cooler than it actually did!)

So as your fellow classmate and friend, I would like to encourage you to remember this… God is there for you and always will be no matter what the future holds!
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I look back on that speech often, and smile to myself as I picture an awkward girl standing before her peers, firmly believing what She thought God’s plan’s was for her – when in reality, she had no idea!

I was going to go to bible college in Florida for a year, and then transfer to a university in Washington State to get a master’s degree in teaching.

I wasn’t going to get married until I was in my late twenties…

and as a lifelong pastors kid, my only major requirement was that he NOT be a pastor!

(haha… it’s humorous, really!)

Once the marriage license was signed at age 20, and I found myself hitched to a man who was equally as passionate about me as he was being a pastor someday, the plans I had for my life evolved once again…

I wanted 3 kids all by the time I was 30 and no more than two years a part.

I wanted a Red Porsche SUV,

and a kitchen table that could fit 8 people comfortably for a dinner party.

Its laughable, because look at me now: Married young, and to a flippin’ pastor!

Master degree-less,

and no doubt, in over my head with only one kid!

And thanks to my new life in Crazy town USA -aka Manhattan- I am without a car, and with little room for even the smallest of gatherings in the 650 sq feet apartment my family calls home!

It’s obvious really…

I need to stop telling God what to do!

Just like in the Story of the Two Monks:

“I need oil,” said an ancient monk, so he planted an olive sapling.

“Lord,” he prayed, “it needs rain that its tender roots may drink and swell. Send gentle showers.” And the Lord sent gentle showers.

“Lord,” prayed the monk, “my tree needs sun. Send sun, I pray thee.” And the sun shone, gilding the dripping clouds.

“Now frost, my Lord, to brace its tissues,” cried the monk. And behold, the little tree stood sparkling with frost, but at evening it died.

Then the monk sought the cell of a brother monk, and told his strange experience.

“I, too, planted a little tree,” he said, “and see! It thrives well!  But I entrust my tree to its God. He who made it knows better what it needs than a man like me.

I laid no condition. I fixed not ways or means. ‘Lord, send what it needs,’ I prayed, ‘storm or sunshine, wind, rain, or frost. Thou hast made it and Thou dost know.’ “

~Calm My Anxious Heart by Linda Dillow~

So often our prayers consist of us telling God what we need – pleading with him even- like we know better than He does!

I have experienced a lot of this during my last 5 months in New York City- where in a moment of overwhelming emotion, I cry out in a panic,

“No!! don’t let THAT happen God!”

“Haven’t I sacrificed enough?”

“Why can’t My life be more like so-and-so’s?”

“This is not how my life was supposed to turn out!”

And the truth is, as an 18 year old girl, this wasn’t how I envisioned my life turning out!

Not even in the slightest.

But in Proverbs 3:5-6 it says,

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding.
Seek His will in all you do, and He will show you which path to take.”

I need to be reminded that all seasons of life -the storms, sunshine, wind, rain, and frost- all serve a unique purpose.

And that if I seek the Lord above all else, and still find the path leading me in an entirely different direction than what I had originally planned, its not only ok -but it’s divine!

Even more, maybe it’s what I needed to thrive!

We need to be less interested in getting our way, and more interested in fulfilling the Lord’s will for our life!

And while I don’t know exactly where my place is, in this brutally large city that He has led me to…

Or why he chose a person like me, who admittedly was perfectly content living a comfortable life in suburbia.

I do know I need to entrust each and every day of my life to it’s maker! And to pray less for merely just what I want, and more for what only He could possibly know that I need!

The Lord hast made me, and He dost know!

Father if you are willing, take this cup from me.

Yet not my will, but yours be done.
-Jesus

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