Tuesday, May 3, 2011


Here's a list of things my husband does that drive me crazy, but make me love him even more:

*He uses a spatula to put peanut butter on bread

*He takes 30 minutes to load a dishwasher because everything has to be completely clean already, and put into the dishwasher spaced evenly 

*He drinks more coffee than should be humanly possible

*He can't fold clothes to save his life

*He gets up multiple times to straighten the blinds  because they aren't perfectly straight

*He can talk like Donald Duck

*He has spikey hair and I think he'll still be rockin' the same style when he's 90 years old

*He will sit and discuss deep topics with our 4-year-old for hours

*He can sew (and I can't)

*He's an amazing cook

*He falls asleep any time he sits still

*When he gets mad, his eyes get really dark green

*He hugs everyone

*He secretly loves our cats

*He smokes a pipe...like an old man...but I think its cute

*He's really great at putting IKEA furniture together

*He works so hard at a job that he hates, just because he loves his family, and wants to provide for us. 
This is the one that means the most to me.  He has worked construction for almost 7 years, and has been burnt out with it for probably 5 years, but still works as hard as he did on day 1.  He has never called in sick, has never missed work, except for the days surrounding his brother's death. (and he would have still worked if his bosses hadn't insisted he take a few days off).  His willingness to hurt his body everyday to provide for our family shows me how much he loves me.  I am so impressed by his work ethic, and his sense of responsibility for us.  He is amazing  :)

*When he gets tired, he starts giggling like a little girl.  (I just needed to add a funny one at the end)

                                            I love you, Jesse!   You Rock!

Monday, May 2, 2011


A few days ago I got a call from "Jane".  She said they made it to where they were headed, and are staying with her grandmother.  I guess that's good.  She said that CPS is still investigating claims that the baby wasn't being taken care of, and that I might receive a call from them.  So, I think the drama is over now and they are in a place to get some help, and make a better life for their daughter.  I pray that they make some tough decisions that will be what's best for the baby, and not themselves.  I guess only time will tell.  Thank you for reading their story and please keep them in your prayers. 

Monday, April 25, 2011

This song inspires me to love the unloved.
It reminds me of the John and Jane situation, and what my attitude should be.  
Hope it will speak to you, too.

Matthew 25:40
“And the King will say, ‘I tell you the truth, when you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were doing it to me!’

the rest of the story?

So, here's the latest in the saga of my friends "Jane and John":
I received a call on Thursday from Jane and she sounded hysterical, yet again.  She asked if I could come and get the baby and keep her for the day, or maybe longer, so that she could get some rest and figure out what she was going to do about moving, money, etc.  When I showed up at her apartment, she was very agitated and acting psychotic.  I was glad to get the baby out of there!  I was thinking that being so upset, and not sleeping in several days, was really taking a toll on her. I got home about an hour later, and she called me saying the police were at her apartment and needed me to bring the baby back.  I talked to an officer, and told him why I had the baby, who I was, and that she was safe and I was just keeping her overnight.  He said that was fine and took down my information.  Then I got a call from her husband saying that the police had arrested her, and were taking her to the hospital.  I was thinking this was a good thing, because she was so anxious and tired.  I was thinking nervous breakdown or something.  So, I kept the baby the rest of the day.
John asked if since Jane was in the hospital,  he could come stay with us that night to be with his daughter.  So, my husband, who works an hour away from home, drove an extra hour to pick him up and bring him to our house. It was around 7:00 PM when they got to our house, and my husband gets up at 4 AM for work.  He was completely exhausted.  At about 9:00 PM, John receives a call that Jane was being released from the hospital and she needed them to come pick her up.  So, my husband, who had already worked a 10 hour day of construction and driven for 3 hours, took John and the baby home.  He then picked up Jane at the hospital and was informed by the doctor that Jane had cocaine in her system.  She was still very agitated and jumpy.  I don't know if you have ever seen anyone on cocaine, but now I know what that looks like.  It's not pretty!  Finding this out, made her behavior earlier in the day make more sense.  She couldn't stand still, look me in the eye, form coherent sentences,  etc.  When my husband picked her up, she was still acting the same way. 
He took her home and then drove back home, getting home after 10 PM. 
He was supposed to work for someone on Friday, but John called him and asked if he would take them to the bus station, because they were going back east.  So, my husband drove an hour back to get them, and found them not home.  He had to drive 5 miles away to a friend's house they were at, and then they wanted to go to a store, and go by their apartment.  When they got to the apartment, the manager had changed the locks and evicted them, so they couldn't get their belongings.  Then they asked my husband to go to the bus station.  He was taking them there (another hour away) when they decided that they would take the money we gave them for rent (which they were going to use now for bus tickets) and spend the night in a motel instead of getting on a bus.  But, then they needed more money for the bus.  Oh, all this was after they spent $50 on nothing (Gatorade/cigarettes?) at yet another store. 
By this time, the whole day had gone by, and my husband was getting really ticked off.  He had been driving John around for two days, spending money on him, and they just kept asking for more.  They had no concept or thought to his time and money.  We threw our hearts, souls, money, time and sanity into helping them because we care so much about them and their daughter.  We really wanted to show the love of Christ to this family, but I think maybe we just got taken advantage of.  They called us again that evening while my husband was getting our kids to bed.  They asked for clothes and duffel bags so they could be presentable on the bus.  I thought my husband was going to blow a gasket!  I am impressed at his restraint and love for this family.  He did not yell at John, but firmly told him that we've done all we can do. 
How far should we go when helping people?  How many times do we let people take advantage of us?  Jesus tells us to forgive 70 x 7 times.  (Matthew 18:22)  So, I will forgive them.  I will try to be like Jesus, and I will not hold it against them.  Maybe when they get to their destination, and she gets clean, and things settle down, they will think back on how we helped them and showed them unconditional love.  Maybe they will see God's Love through our sacrifices and learn to love Him more.  That's really all I can hope for.  Please keep them in your prayers as they travel across the country with nothing but the clothes on their backs.  Please pray they find a safe place to stay and that Jane gets the help she needs.  Pray for their precious baby girl...she is very special to me.  And please pray for me and my family, that as we deal with this experience, that it will help us better understand what God has for us, and the best ways to help people in need. 

Thursday, April 21, 2011

unworthy of help?

I received a call yesterday from a friend and she was sobbing.  She told me that her Mom, who is a drug addict and wanted for crimes back east, showed up at her door and asked to stay there.  My friend let her stay , but when she found out that she was fleeing the police, asked her to leave.  Well, the Mom left, but not before stealing $450, which was this families entire savings and money for rent.  My friend is obviously heart-broken and scared.  She has a baby girl and is worried about being homeless and losing her daughter.  Let me back up and tell you more of her story:
My friend, let's call her Jane, came to Phoenix about a year ago with her boyfriend, let's call him John.  They are from back East and struggled with poverty, drug addictions, and family violence and neglect.  John's father drives a big rig and they decided that they would hitch a ride with him and come to Arizona to start over and get clean.  They made it here with basically just the clothes on their backs.  They found a little apartment in a bad area of town and could barely make rent.  John was frantically looking for a job and both of them got off of meth.  But, in order to safely quit methamphetamine, you have to take another drug called methadone.  So, they were both on Methadone when she found out she was pregnant.  She was terrified and realized that she was very far along, like 6 months!  Trips to the hospital helped Jane discover that  she couldn't quit the methadone or her baby would die.  So, she gave birth to a beautiful little girl who was addicted to drugs.  She had to stay in the hospital for several weeks and go through major withdrawal, she was one sick little baby.  Jane felt so much shame and guilt over this, that she didn't tell any of her new friends at church what was really going on.  Jane and John accepted help from their church, but with no car to get to church on a regular basis, no one saw them for a long time.  They felt very guilty about this, because it looked like they just used the church to get help.  There is only one family that lives close enough to bring them to church, and they don't have the room in their car for this family.
Around this time, my husband and I helped them out with money and emotional support, along with a few others from our church.  But we have very limited funds.  So, my husband approached someone at church who is in charge of a ministry that helps people in times of crises or need.  This person told him that this family was just wanting a handout and she sees this all the time.  There was nothing she would do to help.  I found this out yesterday and this deeply disappoints me.  Just wanting a handout?!  This family has been through hell and has made huge sacrifices to better themselves.  They are baby Christians and just want a better life for their daughter than they had.  They are hard-working, loving people who I know would help my family if our situations were reversed.  Their family has abandoned them, mocked them, and now stolen from them.  Jane's grandmother called yesterday and was saying she's going to call social services and get her daughter taken away, just because she made her Mom leave and the family is upset--not taking into account the fact that her Mom stole her entire livelihood!  If this family isn't worthy of our help, than who is? 
Jesus wouldn't turn someone away just because of where they came from.  My life verse is Matthew 25:40
“And the King will say, ‘I tell you the truth, when you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were doing it to me!’  but reading it today I found a verse further down, verse 45, and I think that applies in this situation.  And he will answer, ‘I tell you the truth, when you refused to help the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were refusing to help me.’  
I pray that people's hearts will be moved by the story of my dear friends.  How can we turn our backs on people because of their past, or their appearance, or their problems?  Jesus wouldn't....so I won't either.  Which may mean having a family of three moving into my tiny condo, which is already too small for my own family.  It may mean giving up my own comforts to help someone else.  It means spending my family's money to save the lives of my friends.  And if no one else will help us, my family will be Jesus to these precious people all by ourselves.    
If you want to help, please let me know.  Jane and John need a place to live, jobs, and food.  They need formula, diapers and wipes for their baby.  They need love and support from God's people.  What better chance has come along lately to give you a real opportunity to show God's love to someone who is truly alone, and hurting beyond what you can imagine? 

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Am I a Fault-Finder?

So, my mentor and I are starting this book study together.  The book we chose is called "In The Grip of Grace" by Max Lucado.  I have read the first chapter and already I feel convicted.  He is discussing the four types of people that are mentioned in Romans 1-3.  They are 1. Hut-Building Hedonist 2. Fault-Finding Judgmentalist 3. Rock-Stacking Legalist and 4. Grace-Driven Christian.  I always thought of myself as a Grace-Driven Christian. I love to serve, counsel and teach our college ministry.  I pray and teach my children about God and His Grace and Jesus' sacrifice for us. I love to sing and worship God!   But, through this first chapter of Max Lucado's book, I am seeing myself differently, and I am a bit ashamed of what I see.  I think I may be judgmental. 
Now, I have to say that I come by this character trait honestly.  Judging others, and thinking you are better than them, seems to run in my family. I thought I was above all that, which puts me precisely in the same boat!  How frustrating!  I am realizing that when I look at others, I see their mistakes, and I get frustrated about them. I think that others can see the dumb stuff they do, and should change it.  I am a fix-it type of person.  Even when I counsel people, I tend to think "why can't they just stop being selfish and fix this?!  Just do it!"  Because of my position as a pastors wife, I get to hear a lot of stories about a lot of people's lives, and it frustrates me that people are such a mess.  But, what I do NOT usually look at, is my own mess.
I have a big mess, too. I guess I should be open and tell you a few of the things I have been dealing with:   I have been grieving several really hard losses of loved ones, I have two extremely needy preschool-aged children, I have gained a lot of weight, I am ashamed to look at myself in the mirror, I stress eat,  I don't have the energy to exercise,  I don't sleep well, I don't have many close friendships, my husband works a lot (which I appreciate, but its still hard not to see him much), I am frustrated with our housing situation, I wish that I had a place where I belonged and had a purpose, I feel basically lost.  And here I am, looking at others and getting worked up over the way they handle things.  I am ashamed and convicted by my judgmental attitude.  Oh man!  Do I feel like crap after reading chapter 1!  Thanks Max  :)
I am so glad that God forgives us and allows us to change our attitudes.  This is something I will continually work on, and hopefully can learn the humility that I should have.  Thank you God for making my mess into something for your Glory!

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

another loss

My daughter is grieving again.  No, no one died this time, but she certainly feels like it.  Her best friend, Adrian, moved away.  She didn't get to say goodbye to him, and she has been crying for two days now. 
Here's the story of Adrian: 
Adrian came to Macy's class a few months ago and they have been fast friends ever since.  On his first day, Macy ran to him and tried to talk to him and gave him a hug.  We found out quickly that he and his Mom don't speak English.  But that didn't stop our kiddos from loving each other!  We walk to school in the mornings, and Adrian and his Mom would meet us by the park and the kids would walk together (holding hands all the way) to school.  It is so difficult as an adult to befriend someone who doesn't speak the same language as you.  It was frustrating to me to not be able to communicate with Adrian's Mom at all!  But, I could tell that her heart was also warmed by the love our kids have for each other. 
When Macy got out of school yesterday, she immediately started crying.  She said through tears that Adrian moved to a new house and a new school.  It just broke my heart to watch her lose someone else she loves.  She has lost two guys really close to her in the last two years, but this loss hit her harder than those.  And he's still alive and well!  I guess a loss is a loss, no matter why the person is gone from your life.  So, please keep my baby girl in your prayers.  Her heart is sad, and she didn't enjoy school much today.  But, she is tough and I know she'll be fine. Her Mama is just getting tired of watching her hurt. 

Thursday, March 17, 2011

happy st patrick's day

In Time of Sorrow...
May you see God's light on the path ahead
When the road you walk is dark.
May you always hear,
Even in your hour of sorrow,
The gentle singing of the lark.
When times are hard may hardness
Never turn your heart to stone,
May you always remember
when the shadows fall—
You do not walk alone.

I was looking up Irish sayings today, to post on my FB, and came across this one.  It spoke to me because it has been such a time of sorrow around here, but then I realized...I don't feel sorrowful today!  I'm not sure when the change happened in my heart, but I am no longer consumed with sadness.  It started happening when I forgave Jeffrey, and started praying again.  I did realize that something was changing in me when my husband was preaching last Sunday, and I didn't cry.  I even heard a song that made me think of Jeffrey and Jeremiah, and I didn't break down.  My heart feels lighter, and the gloom I felt around me for the last two years seems to have gone away.  I guess forgiveness really does make a difference.  I had no idea that forgiving someone could change my whole outlook on life. 
Thank you , Jesus, for forgiving me...and teaching me that no one is beyond forgiveness.  And thank you for putting some joy and sunshine into my life again!  

Sunday, March 6, 2011

for the love of trouble

Well, we survived yet another anniversary of Jeffrey's death.  Jesse and I went to the cemetery and brought flowers.  We realized when we got there that he still does not have a headstone.  This is frustrating to me, because I don't understand why it hasn't been done.  He just has a tiny plaque made of paper in a plastic case that says his name and birth date/death date.  You have to squat down on the ground and try to read it through the warped plastic.  Maybe it is just too much for his parents to handle...but I can't help thinking that it just isn't good enough for him.  He was a great kid, and a great little brother, and although his choice was really stupid and hurtful, he deserves to be honored with a headstone.  I'm not sure what to do about that...its really not my place to say anything to his parents.  It seems like anything my husband or I say to them isn't taken well or really listened to.  I am worried about them.  So, if you are reading this, please pray for them and their grief and their search for peace. 
On a side note, my kids keep me so busy that I don't get a lot of time to dwell on all that.  My two-year-old is developing quite an attitude lately!  He has started telling people "don't like you" and has earned a bunch of time-outs this week.  Let me explain how time-outs have been going around here: my kids decided (very sneakily) that they would sit with each other in time-out, and entertain the one in trouble.  Needless to say, being in trouble in our house isn't really a punishment.  But, at least no one is crying...they are giggling.  (and also not learning the lesson Mom was trying to teach them).   *sigh*
So, while you are praying for my in-laws, maybe also say a prayer for my sanity as I deal with two kids who love trouble  :) 

Thursday, March 3, 2011

I choose hope

Today is a really emotional day for me.  I keep remembering the details of that horrible day when we found out Jeffrey was gone.  That he had chosen to be gone.  It had to be some kind of terrible mistake...it had to be an accident!  I can't get out of my mind the shock and fear that I saw in everyone's eyes.  I can't forget the sobbing of his Dad, and the blankness of his Mom.  I can't forget watching my husband be strong and take care of everything...calling people all day long and telling the horrific story over and over again.  I couldn't comprehend what was happening.  It was such a shock to pull up to their house and see police tape blocking the house and cops everywhere and the Medical Examiners van in the driveway.  It was like a punch in the gut...it was real.  I had no idea how this could have happened. 
Jeff was a happy kid.  He was funny and goofy and loved his family.  He had friends and hobbies and goals and dreams.  He was close to his family.  What makes a kid like that end his life?  We still don't know.  That might be the most frustrating part of this tragedy...not understanding why. 
Today I could wallow in self-pity and sadness.  I could stay in bed and sleep.  I could listen to depressing music or watch a sad movie.  But, today I choose hope.  I know where Jeffrey is right now.  I know that he has no worries, no fears, no problems, and no pain.  I know that he is forgiven by God for his choice. 
I went to a women's retreat last weekend and had a major breakdown (which turned out to be a breakthrough).  I was feeling like there was a wall between God and I and I don't think I had really felt close to Him for two years.  I realized that the wall was my unforgiveness.  I hadn't forgiven Jeffrey for committing suicide.  I hadn't forgiven myself for not seeing the warning signs and reaching out to him.   I didn't know quite how to do that. I finally just let it go...and I now really feel the hope that I believe in.  So, today I choose hope. 

With Hope by Steven Curtis Chapman

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

The last two years

I thought I would begin my blog by telling you the events that have occured in the last two years that have changed my life completely.  Two years ago tomorrow, I had just gotten my kids down for a nap and decided that I should sleep, too.  My son was about 6 months old, so any sleep I could get was awesome!  I had just fallen asleep when my phone rang.  It was my husband and he didn't sound right.  He said " I am heading to my parents' house. Jeffrey shot himself."  That was the beginning of the worst week of my life.  My husband's younger brother was just 19 when he decided to end his own life.  He left a note, but it didn't give us much comfort.  My daughter was 2 at the time and asked a million questions.  "Why did he die? Where did he die? How did he die? Where is he now? What is heaven? What do we do there?  Will I go to heaven?"  I was not prepared to answer these kind of questions for my overly-interested, spiritually sensitive two-year-old.  But, she amazed me and accepted his death with few tears. Even though she still doesn't know "how" her uncle died, she is content knowing that he is in heaven waiting for us.  But, having to explain all about death and life and salvation made me wonder what I really believe.  Do I really believe that the instant I die, I will be in God's presence?  My naive view of the world was shattered that day. 
Then six months later, my husband's sister's boyfriend was killed in a car accident.  It was so heart-breaking to watch our little sister lose her little brother and her boyfriend so close together.  She would sleep for days and when we saw her, act like everything was fine.  I don't know how she could even function, but she did.  His funeral was so sad...it brought up all the feelings about Jeffrey's death that I had pushed aside.  I had been just living life, raising my two little kids, trying to be strong for my family, and and trying not to dwell on the sadness that wanted to overwhelm me at times. 
Then six months later, I got a call from a friend and she said she was coming over right then to talk to me about something.  I couldn't help but think that she was pregnant (which would have been very scandalous).  She actually had to tell me that our close friend, Jeremiah, had been killed in Africa that morning.  My first thought was "how can I tell my husband that someone else is gone?"  Our hearts had just been ripped out again.  Jeremiah was like family to us.  My husband had been mentoring him for years and we loved him like a little brother.  My daughter was also very close to him.  Which made me again have to tell her that someone she loves is gone.  There is nothing I have experienced more painful than holding my three-year-old while she cries and grieves over a death. 
So since then, I have been trying to figure out how to keep living despite all the death around me.  It is a daily struggle not to worry about something happening to my kids or someone else that we love.  This blog will hopefully help me put into words all that I have been feeling and thinking, and maybe it can help someone else who is dealing with loss.