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Co-Laborers

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The last 8 months have been full of great gifts, hard work and new revelations. I’ve been stretched and molded in new ways, professionally and personally. I prayed over, coordinated and pulled off the second annual Rooted Chicago conference with my team. I moved to a new neighborhood. I cheered on and supported my husband in his job in urban education and my kids as they reached new milestones. I bought bananas and Gatorade for an entire high school football team, multiple times. I helped with homework, cheered at hockey games, and packed billions (or maybe just millions) of lunches. Most recently I potty trained my youngest in three days, undoubtedly the great accomplishment of all.

There were valleys, too. I cried over the death of a friend. My heart broke as another loved one battled cancer. I stared numbly at the news and hung my head over articles about this city and this country and this world that left me feeling sick and sad.

But I wrote nothing about any of it…not here anyway.

Usually there was just no time, but occationally there were just no words.

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NASCAR and God Are Everywhere

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Yesterday I asked Siri, “How many kids does Jeff Gordon have?”

Also–How many times has Kyle Busch crashed? Does Jimmy Johnson really shop at Lowes? Does Brad Klozowski live in the city or suburbs?

These are real questions I’m asked by my kids on a regular basis.  Actually, they stopped asking me directly and now they ask me to ask Siri.

Two years ago I bought my son a small five dollar race car with an M&M’s logo on the hood and incidentally started this whole thing.  These days names like Denny Hamlin and Trevor Bayne are as common as Elmo and Dora the Explorer.  Joey Logano finally derailed Thomas the Tank Engine (thanks, Joey.  I owe you, buddy).

To say that my 5 and 6-year-old love NASCAR is an understatement.  They “played NASCAR” like it was their full-time job this summer.  Parents/Grandparents/Caregivers, I’m telling you this set up was GOLD…hours of contentment if you toss in some snacks.

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When Summer Gets Cloudy (Part 1)

As a kid, I still remember the magical feelings that stirred up around the start of summer break.  The anticipation of two and a half months of freedom felt like a potential eternity of freeze pops, sleepovers, family vacations and lemonade stands.   Scorching hot days spent living in your bathing suit and peaceful, dreamy nights camping under the stars.

My oldest son just finished kindergarten and as the school year wound down I was pumped for summer.  More than ready for moments like this:

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I was simply going to crush it this summer.  Freedom from The Schedule and the forecast of warm weather gave me visions of waking my kids up each morning by pulling back the curtains in their neatly organized room.  With the sun streaming in, a hot cup of coffee in hand and a smile on my face I would announce the summer-y activity for the day.  Their sleepy eyes would light up and we’d inevitably break into a dance party followed by a pillow fight, lived out in slow motion and forever engrained in their little minds.

“Wasn’t Mom awesome during the summer of 2015?” they would say to each other in 20 years.

Yes, kids.  Yes I was.

Continue reading When Summer Gets Cloudy (Part 1)

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Kitchen Mom

To anyone who pours into the lives of kids and still feels like they are not doing enough:

You might be wrong.

My son had to draw a picture for school of someone in his family who is making a difference.  I didn’t even think twice, knowing that he would draw my husband, the “Dean of Discipline” at an inner city high school and a soldier in the Army National Guard.  For a million reasons, he is clearly the making a difference guy in our family.

He came back to me a few minutes later with his proud face on and handed me this:

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That’s me, “Kinchin Mom.”

Somehow an extra kid got thrown into the mix here, but look how HAPPY everyone is with their steaming hot food!  Freshly microwaved.

I had two immediate reactions. Continue reading Kitchen Mom

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Why IF is for Her

photo (24)Sometimes it begins with the prayer of one woman and God turns “mustard seed faith” into a big number with a bunch of zeros.

The ripple effect of the IF:Gathering has been incredible as an estimated 2,000 women attended in Austin, TX, and about 60,000+ screens live-streamed the event to thousands of local gatherings of women.  The actual numbers become hard to track but let’s just go with hundreds of thousands.  It began two years ago with a dream intended for a group in Austin and grew into a weekend made available for living rooms, coffee shops, kitchens, churches, and theaters all over the world.
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IF:Chicago…my friends Deb and Patty actually live in this beautiful space.  I just pretend I do.

The IF:Gathering is more than a reoccurring event, it’s more than tallying numbers, it’s a movement which is what drew me to it in the first place.  The vision is to gather, equip and unleash the next generation of women to live out their purpose. Continue reading Why IF is for Her

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The Lighthouse

We’re going on our third year of new family tradition.  My husband books a Coast Guard lighthouse cottage where we stay with our family for three days after Christmas with no agenda.  These cottages are nothing fancy but have been special and each year’s experience so different.  This year’s lighthouse was built in the mid-1800’s and the walls were covered with pictures of its history. Only after I took down every creepy photo of ghost people from two centuries ago, it served us well as a refuge from the usual busyness of life at home.

Typically there are piles of snow and my husband and our city-dwelling boys act like wild country men, running free in the freezing cold: sledding, skating and exploring.  This year there was no snow so my 4 and 5-year-old settled for the 10×10 ice puddle in the gravel driveway.  Actually, they played hockey on it.  In their actual skates and with hockey sticks.  For hours, even after the sun went down.  It like a scene from a Norman Rockwell painting.

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Along with letting our kids roam the open outdoors and savoring the quiet change of scenery, we try to use this time to pause as we close out another year.  New Year’s Eve is usually about making resolutions, but for us, looking back is almost as important as looking ahead. Continue reading The Lighthouse

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Treasure. Ponder. Rest.

This year my mom bought our family one of those kid-friendly manger scenes.  I’ve always wanted to get a special, grown-up manger scene but for now, the plastic cartoon people set just works for us.  I surprised the kids by having it out when they came home from school and my younger son yelled, “A God house! Did God bring us that?”

For some reason they were especially hung up on which animals didn’t make the cut.  My oldest is so skilled at asking very specific questions and you cannot get away with handing out average, generalized answers.

Him: Were there no birds around when Jesus was born?
Me: I don’t know, I think there were.
Him: But they didn’t come with this set.  And why aren’t there mice? There’s hay, mice live in the hay.
Me: Not sure.  Maybe they were too small and the toy makers thought they would get lost?  Or maybe the plastic molds didn’t have mouse or bird options…so…you know…
Him: What?

Me: Who wants a cookie?

Always good to quit while you’re ahead.

As the kids were busy integrating forgotten animals into the manger scene, I picked up Mary and stared at the figurine in my hand.  It almost seemed odd how predictable and normal her plastic painted smiling face was because the story of Mary is anything but predictable and normal.  There’s a lot to say about her and how God chose a young, unmarried virgin to carry out his plan to bring a Savior into the world.  Her story is one that, for me, embodies everything the Gospel is: unexpected.  This month I read through the She Reads Truth Advent study: Oh Come Let Us Adore Him.  For more on Mary check it out here at shereadstruth.com.

I don’t know when this started happening but this Christmas season I realized I just can’t make it through the song “Mary Did You Know” without getting some degree of emotional.   The lyrics ask Mary if she knew all that Jesus would be and everything he would do: healing the sick, calming the storm, walking on water, ruling the nations.  It’s like the perfect soundtrack for a slideshow of His life.  While these may be the moments that highlight his power and authority, I can’t help but wonder if she thought about the pain that was ahead.  The weight that her baby would have to bear as a man.  That in the end, he would take upon himself the sin of the world.  Although she was told and believed him to be the Messiah, I wonder if Mary from the manger would even recognize the Mary standing at the cross.

The verse that always resonates in my mind when I think of her at the birth of Jesus is from Luke 2:19.

“‘And when they saw [the baby], they made known the saying that had been told them concerning this child.  And all who heard it wondered at what the shepherds told them.  But Mary treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart.”
 

It doesn’t say, “Mary heard everything they were saying and tried to make sense of it.  She had a TON of questions.”

No.  She treasured and pondered.  I don’t think this means she bottled up her emotions and stuffed them away out of fear.  I think it means she trusted God enough to rest in that moment and not move to the next stage.  She took the moment to soak in all that had been said about her brand new baby.

like talking and verbally processing and if you don’t believe me ask my husband.  It takes great effort for me to discipline myself to consider and treasure and ponder without working through it.  One definition of pondering said, “to quietly reflect.”  Let’s just say that doesn’t come naturally to me.  

Before I start to show how very true this is, all that needs to be said is that I want to see more of Mary’s character in my own reflection.  More considering.  More humility. Less analyzing and breaking things down and mapping it out and more obedience and reverence to the God who calls me forward.  A quiet strength that doesn’t have all the answers in front of her but follows in faith because she believes God is who He says He is.   To know that whatever I can’t fully understand may not be revealed in my lifetime but to stay the course anyway.  To take one step forward even if all the steps after that are still unclear.  To rest in the joy of the moment even if trouble may be ahead.

This may not be a new revelation but in the character of Mary I am reminded to see the beauty and value of being reflective and still even in uncertainty.  To be present in the joy of that same Savior Mary held in her arms.

 

Fewer Deeper is a ministry of Re:source Global, a 501c3 ministry.  For more information on Re:source Global please go to www.resourceglobal.org.  

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What We Learn from the Trees

I’m sitting in a coffee shop where I will spend the next precious hour doing three things I love: drinking coffee, writing, and reading something beyond a 5-year-old level.  I am crazy about the 5-year-old parts of my life, as well as the 4-year-old and one-year-old parts…but this escape is filling in a different way.  I’m surrounded by grown ups dressed in nice outfits that don’t involve sweatpants and I’m here alone and it’s the best.  Mind you, my outfit involves sweatpants but whatever, no one cares.  I also carried my laptop and books here in my son’s bright blue preschool tote bag because I like to keep things official and fancy.  I do what I can.

Being a mom continues to be one of my greatest joys in life.  I love it all, even the messy, crazy parts.  I think one day a hundred years down the road I might even love the getting up at night parts- Nope. That’s actually a lie.  But I love it because I can see how it’s shaping me, how the challenges mixed with rewards are refining me and teaching me not only about my kids or myself but about God.  

This doesn’t mean I’m floating around my house on a cloud of peacefulness and patience all day.  All the real emotions are felt and, um, usually expressed on a daily basis.  Let’s just say when trying to corral everyone and their 4,000 accouterments to get out the door for school, peaceful and patient are as lost as my son’s missing shoe, as his favorite thing is to take them off on different levels of the house. Every. single. time.

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