Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Chili and smallness

Today it is unseasonably chilly. It is August 19th in Oklahoma and I am wearing a sweatshirt. What is this life? I took my toddler on a mom/son date today and I had to go out to the garage to find his fall clothes. I can't help but wonder how many perfectly planned first-day-of-school outfits were ruined today due to Mother Nature.

I went to the store to buy chili ingredients because I have this thing where if the temperature drops below 75, I think I have to eat chili. It's a real thing. I also think anything over 82 degrees warrants iced coffee. It is what it is. Jeff says I have seasonal tastes. I don't know that it's true but I am definitely a creature of habit and so I found myself driving to the store and perusing the aisles picking up the memorized ingredients of the beloved chili recipe my dad has made for years. I lamented not having enough cash left in my grocery budget for the week to buy cornmeal because WHAT IS CHILI WITHOUT CORNBREAD but, alas, I digress.

On a very much unrelated note, 

I have realized over the past few weeks that I am not as humble as I thought I was.

I think I thought because I don't feel like I really brag about myself or that I am (sometimes) willing to ask (certain) people for help, that makes me humble. That I have no problem admitting my faults or displaying weakness... also, that I will let people come over when my house is messy or talk about how crazy my kids make me. So, so humble. 

It's come to my attention lately that I think I have the mandate on ways people should live, be married, do community, whatever. Now, some of that isn't arbitrary... I do consult my Bible on occasion, but to think my way is the right way? So the opposite of humble.

I think there's a weird fine line between humility and firmness in belief. Jesus was obviously the picture of humility... but he didn't back down on his values or betray the gospel so people would like him... he kind of did the opposite. 

What areas is it okay to stand my ground? And when do we interject ourselves and when do we just let it play out? How do you stand firm in your beliefs in a humble way that doesn't betray your beliefs at the same time? 

The process of realizing I'm not humble has been, well, humiliating. But... it is a process of realizing my smallness. My limited authority. My limited ability and knowledge. Isn't this something to embrace? My life is small... but there is One who is bigger. Jesus did things in small ways... and the Bible references small things as things to be celebrated- a mustard seed, a boy's meager lunch, etc. My words, though to a small audience (in number and stature), can be multiplied if spoken through the guidance of the Holy Spirit... the same Spirit that raised Jesus from the dead all those years ago. Being humbled and reminded of my smallness is such a blessing... though a difficult one. I do not have the authority on anything... and thank God I don't. I must became less, he must become more.

So, I will make a pot of chili. No one will applaud. I will break up fights, lifeguard, read books, pick up toys, run baths, brush teeth and take out the dog. It is a small life I live. But with the biggest purpose. 

Monday, July 27, 2015

My ectopic pregnancy.

So, this space has been quiet for a few weeks. I couldn't imagine a way to put words here on the internet without acknowledging what has happened. And I couldn't imagine writing those words. So, I just stayed silent... metaphorically speaking.

Even now, the thought of writing out my story feels redundant. There was a lot of pain. There was a lot of blood. There was an ambulance and an emergency surgery. A baby was there. Then the baby was gone. Surgically removed from my body along with one of my fallopian tubes.

These past few weeks have been difficult to process. Did I choose to end the baby's life by agreeing to have this necessary life-saving procedure? So, was this an abortion? The baby would have died anyway... so, it was either I stay around and mourn this loss while parenting my other two... or die alongside this baby. Could I have done anything to prevent this? Why did this little baby get stuck along the way? So close to a place of life.

I can look back and see the Lord's hand in it all. My parents happened to be over the day I went to the ER. Had they not, I would have taken some tylenol and went to bed... where my ruptured fallopian tube would have filled my belly with blood. I may have woken up... maybe not. Shortly after the surgery, a sweet friend organized a care calendar. People have been over daily ever since. Holding my babies that I am not yet allowed to hold. Cleaning my home. Feeding my family. Filling my fridge. We all came down with strep a few days later. And we were still taken care of. God provided.
I was allowed to rest, recover, heal, process. Slowly. In the time that I needed.

The Lord is still working on my heart. I so desperately want to glorify and honor Him through this. I want the gospel to be known.

I will write again soon.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Another round of "What I'm Reading Wednesday"

Real talk: this post almost didn't happen today. Wanna know why? Because the second I got the boys to sleep I wanted to dive into a new book I am reading... but I forced myself to hold off so I could write about it!

Image result for everything i never told you

Currently Reading: Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng (pronounced "ing")
             This book has been recommended to me in several different ways, all from sources I respect. Guys, the first line of the book is: "Lydia is dead. But they don't know yet." Hooked! I am halfway through and only started it this morning. It's pretty suspenseful and an easy read. It's a good character study of different cultures within a family and is set in the 70s. 

So, I still haven't finished this book. I think I don't have the energy right now. It's a good book but not a quick read and I am prioritizing quick, mindless reads along with nonfiction that makes me a better human. I will try this book again later...

Image result for interrupted jen hatmaker

Re-read: Interrupted by Jen Hatmaker
       I actually didn't realize I have already read this book until I got it from the library and started reading it... oops. It kind of just reinforces what I already am believing, but it is a good read for anyone that is kind of bored with the way the American church typically does Christianity. It challenges the norm.... as Jen Hatmaker is known for doing. I love her writing and she is so funny. You can check out her blog, too, and she has written several others books, as well.

Sorry to keep this short... but I must go read! Until next time...

Monday, June 29, 2015

Memoir Monday

In calling Mondays "Memoir Monday," I have given myself a lot of freedom to kind of just ramble on about lessons from my life. Recently, I have been listening to Jamie Ivey's podcast "The Happy Hour", and through that I have found her blog. On her blog, she has a section where she wrote letters to her younger self.

She says it was very cathartic and healing and that she thinks everyone should do it.

I thought I might try it out...

But as I think through what I would say to my former self... a lot of it can be summed up in a few statements...

Dear younger Kara (at varying ages),

People are not thinking about you as much as you think they are.

Don't spend so much time trying to make people like you that you neglect the people who love you.

Stop hurting people with your words. Your words matter.

You matter... no matter what other people say.

Stop talking so badly about yourself in your head. You're a jerk to yourself.

God is real. Jesus actually loves you just as you are. Stop trying to earn it.

OH, and, your natural hair will eventually be in style... just wait it out.


future Kara

Saturday, June 27, 2015

For Mothers Friday.... on Saturday

I find it fitting that I am posting this on a Saturday... such is life...

Guys, it had been a ROUGH morning.
By 7 AM, I had escaped to my hiding place… the garage… no less than ten times. I sat on the dirty floor, hugging my knees to my chest, still in my pajamas, blinking back tears and begging God for grace for my kids.

On the other side of the door, I could hear my 3-year-old screaming in the kitchen. He had asked for oatmeal and, once I had made it, had decided he had changed his mind, which resulted in sticky oatmeal all over his younger brother and the floor.

I had, through gritted teeth, thrown a towel at him and ordered him to, “Clean. Up. The. Oatmeal.” And strapped the younger son into his high chair with a banana for entertainment and stomped out to the garage. Because… I’m mature… and almost 29-years-old.

Somehow, the one –year-old escaped. I entered to the scene of the young boy triumphantly squatted on the table, dumping my freshly-made coffee over my opened Bible that I had yet to read.
So, you’re telling me I’m not getting caffeine OR Jesus this morning? Good luck, kiddos. Those were your lifelines.

It’s mornings like these that I wonder why the verse in Lamentations 3 doesn’t say God’s mercies are new every second as opposed to new every morning. We desperately needed a do-over. We needed to all climb back into our respective beds and start over. I needed some new mercies and, obviously, the tiny boys I had been entrusted with needed some new mercies, too.

I recently heard Gloria Furman say, in reference to that verse, that it’s always morning somewhere. So, I decided to take advantage of that and pretend we lived in California, since we only needed to rewind a couple of hours to start over. California morning. New mercies. Let’s go.

I wish I could say that day got easier but, in all honesty, it kind of went downhill from there. I did load up the kids and attempt the splash pad. When that backfired, we ran by Starbucks so I could get some iced coffee (this is the redemption story of the lost caffeine portion of my day). We came home and tried to have a nice lunch. Fail. Again. But by the time the kids were in their beds for naps and I was slurping on my watered-down coffee, I had some time to think about the story God is weaving through my life.

I think I’ve written before about my control issues. My need for things to go my way. This might be why I used to think I was Type A? Since my being blessed with two children, God has used them to throw up on my idol of control and comfort. Repeatedly. While screaming at me. And pooping on me.

I have been re-reading Paul Miller’s “A Praying Life” and he encourages us to consider what God might be teaching us in the moment as we go to him in prayer. So, that’s my challenge to myself… and to anyone who might be reading. It’s a rough day. There will be another. Are there idols in your heart that God, in his mercy, is trying to rid you of? Is he trying to draw you closer to him? Is he trying to teach you to be more dependent on him? Throw yourself at his feet and beg him to show you what he is teaching you. 

For me, recently, I have grown increasingly aware of my desire to complain and grumble, rather than operate out of a spirit of thankfulness. And, since I tend to learn in the hardest way imaginable, I have found God giving me a million opportunities to complain… to help me see the silver lining. I am by no means good at this and am still being sanctified second by second… but had I not had these difficult moments, perhaps I would have gone on as the grumbler… growing more and more calloused and ungrateful. Less like Jesus. Less reliant on God.

Be encouraged, sweet mamas (and those of you who aren’t mothers), his mercies truly ARE new every morning. And, it’s always morning somewhere.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

What I'm Reading Wednesday... first edition.

This is the first EVER "What I'm Reading Wednesday." I know you've all been anxiously awaiting this post since I revealed a mere 24 hours ago that I would be reserving Wednesdays to discuss book I've read, am reading, plan to read...

Just read: 
Image result for goldfinch book

 I finished "The Goldfinch" by Donna Tartt last week. I had read mixed reviews of this book, but it has popped up on several lists of "Books You Should Read" so I decided to give it a go...

The story itself is fascinating. The author does a great job of keeping you interested. Her description of the grieving process is spot on. I felt uncomfortable reading some parts because of how closely it reminded me of my own history with grieving. 

I did NOT love the characters, which is a pretty big deal for me. I love, love, love character development- which she accomplished. But out of the entire cast of characters, and there were many, I really only liked about 4 of them. The main character was a major disappointment to me. He made really poor life choices and never really seemed to have any kind of redemption.

So, in my opinion... I didn't love it. I would give it a B-.

Currently reading:

Admittedly, I am not far into this book. I have read a couple chapters. The writing is fantastic and it came highly recommended by a friend. It is a glimpse into life in India's caste system. I am thoroughly enjoying the characters. 

Currently reading:
                                             Image result for everyday mission book bob
Our missional family (what our church calls our small groups) is currently working through this devotional. One of the authors is a pastor in Fort Worth and is currently leading a church planting training program my husband is a part of... so we have met him. He (Ben Connelly) is the real deal. This book is very inspiring as well as practical. It gives the theological reasons for loving your neighbors as well as suggests ways to take the first step in getting to know your neighbors. I highly recommend it. It is a 30-day devotional. Each day takes about ten minutes to read. It is thought-provoking and good for conversation.

I give it an A!

A re-read:
I so do NOT re-read books. In my mind, there are so many books I want to read, that a re-read is a waste of time. However, I recently heard a podcast where Jeff Vanderstelt said he reads this book once a year. I read it about five years ago, so I thought I would read it again.

It is an excellent resource on prayer... very practical. Very convicting. The theology is sound. Miller fills the book with stories of his autistic daughter as well as his other family members, so it's also extremely easy to relate. I, once again, found myself believing more in the power of prayer and was challenged to pray more for those I love.

A definite A.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

My attempt to make a plan...

Ok, so I want to be intentional with this little space of mine... I also want to create a little bit of accountability for myself to keep it up better than I have been.

I used to think I was a Type A personality. I think because I was typically in charge of groups when I was in school, was self-motivated, made good grades, leader of a lot of the campus organizations I was in, etc. I can follow a schedule well and exceed within boundaries.

However, since graduating college and working in various jobs and especially since becoming a stay-at-home Mom, I am starting to think I am more Type B. I really prefer a loose schedule and spontaneity (something my toddler does NOT enjoy... as evidenced by a meltdown this morning when I tried to change plans at the last minute for a fun trip to Chickfila for a free breakfast promotion they were doing). I still am fairly self-motivated... but without accountability I tend to flounder. The exception to this has been exercising, but I think my own self-image issues have held me accountable in that area.
All that to say, I am bucking my own trend and going to attempt to set up a "schedule" for this blog in efforts to hold me accountable.

I've been trying to think about- realistically- what I enjoy talking about and what my life is really defined by at the moment. Obviously my relationship with Jesus... but I don't know that it necessarily needs to be on the schedule, as it (hopefully) will pop up in my writing. I love to read and am a FAST reader, so I find myself naturally recommending books to people and begging others to read books I have read so I have someone to discuss them with. I also really just enjoy writing memoir-type essays over things I have learned in my life. Lastly, but not because it is of lesser value, I am a mom. And, y'all, being a mom can be hard. I often wonder, as I sit in the garage (it's where I escape to) while my toddler tantrums, what hard thing in me is God trying to correct, by allowing me to experience so much mayhem with my kids. And, seriously, they are only 3 and 1. It's not like the challenges will get easier. So, I definitely want to dedicate some time to writing about my life as a mom.

I have already mentioned I exercise pretty regularly, but I have a feeling that the topic of exercise, much like my spirituality, will pop up in my writing naturally.

So, here is my thinking... and I am hoping the four of you will hold me accountable to this...

Memoir Monday- on Mondays I plan to post essays I have written. There won't really be a particular theme... they may be on any topic. This is kind of all I have been posting lately.

What I'm Reading Wednesday- (are you seeing my love for all things alliteration?) I will discuss books. And I read a wide variety, so it won't be like I am just picking apart heavy theological tomes.

For Mothers Friday- this won't always be serious. Sometimes I will keep it light.

As you can see, I have left myself a lot of room to venture out in this "schedule." So, though it is technically a "schedule", it's a schedule in the loosest sense... "shed-yool" like they say it on Mary Poppins.