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Trust in who he is.

On Sunday our pastor talked about patience.  He was preaching out of James 5 and showed that Job is called an example of steadfast patience, which is funny because Job spent 40 chapters arguing with God about the trials in his life.  It really hit home for me that patience is not about sitting quietly and accepting whatever life brings, but it is about going to God with those questions and hashing it out with him.

In Job, God finally replies, but he doesn’t answer any of Job’s questions.

What he does is remind Job of who he is and what he has done.  I think he is basically challenging Job, saying, “are you with me or not?”  And Job responds that he is, regardless of all the pain in his life and having no idea why God would put him through that.  Because God is who he is, Job wants to be with him.

For this entry, I thought about trying to do something dramatic and cool, but I decided that I only wanted to do that so I would have a stunning picture to share on Facebook, and that is not a good reason.  I ended up writing out the gist of what I got from the sermon and passage, then doing a little word art/doodle and coloring it all a bit.  Sometimes that is even better than going crazy on a page.

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I am trying to learn this in my daily life.  I need to embed trusting God regardless of circumstance into the fiber of my day, because too often I get distracted by the plans I make.  And when things start spiraling and I am asking God why he isn’t coming to my rescue, I need to keep learning to trust him even when he doesn’t tell me why I am going through this particular trial.  I need to trust him because of his character, his history and his promises.

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P.S. – I just added these sweet printable to my Etsy shop!

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I care about freedom because…

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For the past few years I have been making an attempt to put the topic of human trafficking in your news feed on a fairly regular basis.  It can be hard to tear your mind away from the issues you are dealing with in your life and actually focus or care about people who are being forced into labor or sex, but I think that it is important to do it.

My interest in human sex trafficking started at some point in my teen years.  I was fascinated by love and sex, and so the idea that there were people who routinely and ruthlessly stripped others of their innocence made me so angry.  Now that I have a daughter, the idea that someone would look at her as a means for their own gain is horrible.  My daughter should be able to grow up, start a career, fall in love and raise a family.  No one has the right to take that from her because they want money.

But that happens every day.  The average age of a person sexually trafficked is 13, and their expected lifespan is 7 years.  That means that thousands of people’s daughters and sons are having their futures stripped of them right now at the hands of criminals who think people are commodities.

I do say that to scare you, because the reality of it is scary.  But I want to encourage you too.  Human trafficking is becoming a hot topic, and organizations are springing up all over the country and world to help rescue victims and shut down trafficking rings.  The world is becoming better informed, and therefore victims are more likely to be rescued.

I care about their freedom because if it were someone I loved, I would want to go all Liam Neeson and rampage the world until I got them back.  But I don’t have that particular set of skills.  What I can do is know what to look for, I can teach my kid that trafficking happens and how to spot it, and I can clog up your news feed with ways for you to be informed or get involved.

Learning how to spot signs of trafficking is just a good skill, like learning the heimlich or CPR.  If you notice any of these things call the Human Trafficking Hotline at 1.888.3737.888 (a good number to save in your phone):

  • Seems anxious, fearful or paranoid.  Avoids eye contact.
  • Tearfulness or signs of depression.
  • Unexplained bruises or cuts or other signs of physical abuse.
  • Appears to be in a relationship with someone who is dominating.
  • Never is alone and/or always has someone translating or answering questions on their behalf.
  • Not in control of their own finances.
  • Presents with secrecy or unable to answer questions about where they live.
  • Inconsistent details when telling their story.
  • Has no identification such as a license, passport or other ID documents.
  • Inability to leave their job or residence.  Says they cannot schedule appointments.
  • Being a recent arrival to the United States and does not speak English.
  • Is under 18 and providing commercial sex acts.  Or at any age unwillingly providing commercial sex acts.
  • Is afraid of law enforcement or receiving help from an outside entity.

You may never run into this, but let me tell you, the director of North Star Initiative recognized these traits in a woman while shopping and ended up busting a huge trafficking ring.  You never know.

I blog for The Exodus Road because I care about freedom enough to give some of my time and effort to raising awareness.  If we all give a little bit, learn a little bit, care a little bit, we can make a huge difference in the lives of someone’s child, sister, or friend.  We can help give them back the future that had been taken away from them.

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Parenting Misconceptions

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My TimeHop app tells me that one year ago today I posted a blog entry called Marriage Misconceptions, so I thought.. wouldn’t it be funny if I did a parenting version?  Yeah?

So here goes.

I thought that kids would cost us a ton of money.  This just hasn’t been true.  We have been blessed by a wonderful ministry that lets us pick used clothes and gear and we donate back to it when we are done, we feed her what we eat, and we save a lot of money using cloth diapers.  The only money that I spend on Eden is when I get some random thing in my mind that I have to try, and it rarely works the way I think it will.  Oh, I lied.  Childcare was significant money, but even that didn’t make the dent in our finances that I thought it would.  We had less so we spent less.

Everyone said our lives would change completely.  They did, but not in the way I thought they would.  I thought the adjustment would be lack of sleep and becoming a full time care giver.  But the real difference has been in my priorities.  All of a sudden I’m completely obsessed with this kid.  It wasn’t like I resented her neediness, I just abruptly and seamlessly became her personal guard dog.  My life definitely changed, but I didn’t even really notice it.

We would follow the __________ method.  In parenting it seems like everything has a label.  If I were to label everything we do, we would be defined as: Breastfeeding, Cloth Diapering, Baby Wearing, Co-Sleeping and then Bed Sharing, Baby Led Weaning, Montessori, Attachment Parenting people.  My friend Kelly would shorten that to hippie parents.  (Jason would be appalled to be called a hippie.)  In actuality, we follow all of these methods to a certain extent, but really we just go through each day and do what works best.  It is weird to talk to other parents who hear that I do one of these things and then either get super excited like they found someone from their same cult or they get very distant like I am judging them for their parenting choices.

Those are a few, I don’t have the energy to think up more.  Basically, parenting is being given a tiny living child and knowing that you are responsible to keep it alive, make sure it is developing properly, don’t let it become a brat, teach it to be a law abiding & productive citizen, and pray every day that God fills in all of the gaps.  Being a parent is a constant reminder that I am inadequate, and a constant guide back to the foot of the cross where God is more than willing to make up for what I lack.

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my month as a stay at home mom.

In a bizarre and unexpected turn of events, I have found myself unemployed.

The story is stupid, and ongoing, and ridiculous, and I’m not going to tell it to you.

I think I spent the first week of unemployment angry at everything.  There was ranting, there was crying.. it was just ugly and morbid.  The second week I spent completely re-hauling my life, deciding that we should take this opportunity to move since we had been talking about it, and applying everywhere under the sun in the area we were hoping to get to.  The next few weeks have been waiting impatiently, seeing no results, getting random horrible pieces of news from different people, feeling depressed, and finally, giving up.

When I spend weeks spiraling into insanity, Jason’s outlook on life always smacks me in the face.  He says, “I’m really glad you get to spend this time with Eden.”

Sigh.

My dream has always been to get to be a stay at home mom, to watch my babies grow up, to see each little milestone.  But I was so obsessed with money and whining and justice that I was missing the opportunity that I had been given.  I may not get to continue being a stay at home mom, but I had best soak it up while it lasts!

So we started picking rooms to clean each day, Eden would ride on my back in the baby carrier while I vacuumed the floor or washed the dishes.  We figured out that the crib was just not working for us and transitioned to a Montessori style floor bed, which is working better.  We started child proofing.  We tackled piles of junk that had been long untouched.

The applications we sent out have gone unanswered, and so moving has gotten pushed to a back burner and we have to figure out how to make it work here.  I am looking into watching kids because I am reluctant to go back to spending the majority of my time away from Eden, but I may find that my stay at home mothering days are numbered, and I don’t want to have wasted one minute.

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Flipping through my Bible Journal.

It seems that Bible journaling has taken off in the time since I have started doing it.  The Facebook community went from 5,000 to 13,000 in just a few months, and so many people are asking questions like how to get started and what supplies you need.

One of my favorite things about this is that you don’t need fancy art supplies, though they can be fun.  My favorite splurge was my black and white Faber-Castel pens, which were like $5-$7 each.  I use a Micron pen to write or outline, but I think you could use any black pen you have.  Then I picked up acrylic paints for $0.50 a bottle at Walmart and watercolors that I bought for $5 at Target, and I use those often.

The real point is that you spend time with God in his word.  If you use a ballpoint pen and crayons, that is fine.  If you print stuff off the internet and paste it in your Bible, that is fine.  If you trace stuff, that is fine.  Don’t let pride or shame hold you back from using art as a vehicle for worship in your life.

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This is in Psalm 119.  I decided that I didn’t even need to try to draw something, I just wanted to convey how I feel when I read through this chapter.  The words keep coming, flowing over my soul like a waterfall, a constant stream of confirmation that God is good, good, good.  This is acrylic paint that I brushed on thinly so it wouldn’t bleed through, then I wrote alternately with my Micron and Faber-Castel pens.

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In my family we have a tradition of each person sharing a mini-sermon at our Easter sunrise service, and as I was preparing my sermon I wanted to journal in Romans.  This is the line that jumped out at me, because I have always been fascinated by the over-arching redemption story.  I applied acrylic paint with an old credit card and after it dried, wrote over it with my white Faber-Castel pen.  I used the Micron pen to outline the letters.

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This is my new favorite entry ever.  On Easter Sunday I sketched it with a ballpoint pen in church and when we got home that afternoon I used my cheap Target watercolors to paint it.  I was not careful and it did bleed through to the other side.  I used a red Micron pen for the letters and finished it with white Faber-Castel pen dots.

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For this entry, I wanted to express surrender.  I had been dealing with a lot of stress and I just felt like it was time to put my head down and just let God do his God-thing.  I sketched the image with a Micron pen and then went over it with Faber-Castel, then I used watercolors to paint the girl.  The background is acrylic paint and then white Faber-Castel lettering with Micron and black Faber-Castel pen for the outlines.

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I do love this entry.  It is my one big purchase, a $20 stamp set.  I really have not used it that often though, so it was probably unnecessary.  I started using it a lot and then found myself starting to get focused on how things looked instead of just enjoying the time with God regardless of how it turned out.  But stamps can be great, especially if you hate your handwriting.

I hope that looking through my Bible can encourage you to start journaling, even if you decide to do it in a sketch book or somewhere else.  I have found that it helps me focus instead of skimming through the scripture, and it has been a great outlet for all the emotions that have gone along with a very crazy season of my life.

Happy painting to you!