Archive for November, 2010

November 23, 2010

Testimony (woohoo God is good)

First let me just say, this is not a story about something I did.  This is a story about something my Father did because He is awesome and generous and faithful and Love. 

Ok, so get this~

A few weeks ago I attended a class at Gateway where I was given a book called The Blessed Life.  Now I’m one of those people who reads pretty constantly, but I already had three books going at the time, so I was planning on starting it in a few weeks.  And then I was ten minutes early for church, (which is honestly a miracle in and of itself), the kiddos weren’t with me and the book was still sitting in my car seat, so I popped it open and started reading.  I highly recommend the book, it’s funny, honest, encouraging and biblical.  Anyway, the first chapter has a story about how the author, Robert Morris takes a big leap of faith and hands over money that he feels like the Lord told Him to give only to be almost immediately blessed with exactly ten times that amount. 

017

Follow me please…

A couple of months ago I was gifted some money, only to find out that the person who gave it to me was to be going on a mission trip to help out a cause that I hold particularly dear.  In talking to the Lord about this one evening I said “If I had my finances more together, she could have taken this money to this organization and it would have made a huge difference.”  And then, ever the encourager, the Father said “Why don’t you give that amount to that organization over the next year?”  Brilliant, I thought.  Done and done.

And then I was going to have coffee with my friend before she left and He said “Make the first payment today.” To which I replied  “Oh.  Umm… look I’m not exactly in a place to be giving money right now.”  And then He said (totally ignoring my response I might add) “Stop and get it out at this ATM.”  And so I did stop and the amount I was planning on getting changed because I had to get an even amount at the ATM.  Cut to the coffee with my friend.  I sat and talked to her and we had a lovely time and not once did I even come close to reaching my hand in my purse and handing her the envelope.  We went to church, sat next to each other for the whole service and I continued to talk (whine) to the Lord about giving.  “Look, this is a lot for me right now ok.  Are you sure?” (Yes, I did ask Him if He was sure.  Sorry, it's just the way I roll.)   Finally I apologized for having such a bad attitude about giving and asked if I could at least have that much replaced in my bank account sometime soon.  I nervously walked up and handed her the money and tried to scoot off, but not before she and her husband prayed over it, tiny amount that it was. 

007

You guys, and then, I’m not even kidding.  I got home from church.  Sat down to check my email and had an order that was exactly, EXACTLY ten times what I had given.  And I laughed.  And I cried.  I mean, good grief.  He is just so good.  And also, had I not been early to church a few days earlier  or left that book in the car, had I not just read that story, had I not gotten the “wrong” amount from the ATM, had I not given her the money at all, I would have totally missed out on what God was doing.  He was, is building my faith.  He is just being who He says He is really.  Never once did He say to me that whole time that I would receive ten times what I gave back.  And really, I felt blessed the moment I handed it over; the giving was, is the blessing.  Him showing me His awesomeness was totally bonus.  And again I’m left in awe and in love.  Jesus loves me this I know and all that jazz.

 

 

 

Advertisements
November 19, 2010

My Ten Year Old

He is such an old soul. 

**Edited to add his prayer request the other night: "I really want God to help me accomplish my goals because I have a lot of really big goals and they're important.  And I can't do them all by myself."

Can I just gush for a minute or two?
Baby griffey
This boy, this manchild, this son of mine…

Griffey boy

I am so glad nobody talked my crazy, know-it-all eighteen year old self out of having this amazing boy. 
Boy griff again
And I will not go on about how the first eight days of his life he scared us to death with his little NICU stint, or how I never put him down even when he was sleeping, or how I read him Steinbeck novels and played Fleetwood Mac to rock him to sleep.  I will not go on about how his birth changed the hearts of both of his grandmothers, or how he has been saying the most profound and funniest things since he was two years old. 
163964933_15b67025b6_o

I will go on about how he has grown into the most awesome ten year old ever.  When he was five he prayed “Dear God, please make me a better kid so I can show the world what it’s like to follow Jesus.” And I have a notebook full of great things he has said between now and then.  *Sigh*  This boy…
163965015_301b0f076e_o
When I ask him to unload the dishwasher he says “My pleasure” without even the slightest hint of sarcasm.  When we meet new people he puts his arm around me and introduces me “This is my mom, Amber. She is a really great mom and she is an amazing photographer” and then he goes on to introduce the rest of the family with their names and some positive quality he sees in them.  Love.
 847727108_b5de69c37a_o
He walked into the kitchen the other day and said “According to Einstein’s theory everything that has mass has energy, so really if we want to save the planet all we need to do is find a way to harness energy that doesn’t do so much harm to the planet. I’m going to work on that.”  And he went back to mapping out plans in his notebook. And that is kind of Griffen in a nutshell, he is never not working on something, internally or externally. 
2165043402_3d60fce42d_o  
A few nights ago in the car I was “having a discussion” with the kids about their behavior and making better choices, but I was admittedly being pretty negative.  Then my ten year old put his hand on my shoulder and said “Mom, it seems if you only concentrate on the problem, the problem will grow or be the only thing you focus on and that’s not helpful.  Why don’t we talk about some positive ways we can change?” 
159
And then I swallowed really hard and took a deep breath and said thank you, because every time we leave church after I ask what they learned about, he asks me and apparently he listens.  Incredible. 
3986468894_aabdb4c737_o
This morning after he got ready for school he came up to me and handed me this poem:
If you have no Life
You have no heart
No imagination, no soul

Thank God for your Life
For His Son sacrificed His
4390028402_f8ce2d6efc_o
Really?  Yes, really.  I could write pages of his amazingess really.  He is quirky, he is different, he is so very ten years old sometimes, he can be just as frustrating as any other ten year old.  And he is beautiful, he is amazing.  And this child of mine, Jesus is in him and He knows it and that is the most important thing. (Please don't mistake this for me taking credit for all of his amazingness, really I was still a kid when he was born and I screw up this parenting thing all the time.  I'm sure good intention counts for something, but honestly I think it is by the Grace of God that I get to be his Mom and I am so beyond excited to see how he will change the world.) 

1662
Keep shining Griff.
Love, love,
Mom 

November 16, 2010

Our New Place

637
Shh~ don’t tell anyone, but the last house we moved into, that was supposed to be Our House.  As in, I was still married at the time and because I can be hopelessly optimistic sometimes, I sort of thought that even though the ex had not been willing to do anything to even try to get back together for a year it would probably all work out in the end. 

575.1
And you know what? It did work out, just not how I thought it would.  Nevertheless, that house, the last one, it was never ours.  This house, well~ it feels like it is. 

Untitled-1
My little family, me and my Fab Four, we feel at home.  I don’t feel like we’re waiting on something or somebody to complete us.  I don’t feel like we’re disabled or disfigured by missing an adult male in our home, and I did, for longer than I care to admit. 

Untitled-2

Moving has been part of a really big transition for us, but oh so necessary for about a million reasons.  It represents so much metaphorically and literally for our maybe not-so-little family. Woohoo and hooray for new beginnings!

565.1
The first time I walked in to this place the first thing I noticed was the light.  I need light to take photos, and oh do I need to take photos.  The light here is amazing.  The second thing I noticed was the carpet.  Don’t get me wrong, I am so much more than grateful for this house, but I was not super pumped to have carpet throughout. 

623.1
In walking through the house for the first time I made a couple of calls and talked with friends about how awesome it was, minus the carpets.  The Pie was with me and she mostly just ran full speed back and forth from one end of the empty house to the other. 

602.1
A few hours later we went to pick up The Other Three from school and as they got in the car, before I could say a word, The Pie said “YOU GUYS GUESS WHAT!!! WE HAVE A NEW HOUSE AND IT HAS CARPET!!!”  to which they all replied with shouts and squeals of delight “CARPET!!! WOOHOO!  Now it won’t hurt when we fall, and we can sit in the floor to watch Saturday morning cartoons!” and “YESSSSSS! Now I can do flips in the house and my feet won’t be cold when I get out of bed in the morning!!”   It was pretty fantastic, put an enormous smile on my face.  The excitement continued all the way to the new house, where I opened the door only to have them all run in ahead of me and start making “carpet angels”.  

537.1

And so we are here in this great little house with this amazing light and pretty fabulous carpet.  Happy to be moved in and happy actually to have downsized a bit, simplified if you will.  I get (another) do over with the whole “A place for everything and everything in its place” concept.  And we’re loving it.  A lot.  God is so, so, so good, great really. 

641

P.S. Shout out to the Grace Vineyard Moving Crew, Paul Jones, Susanna and Jeremy Thomas, Tom and Kay Thomas, Rick and Joan Blinn, Zeke and Zach Blinn, Sean and Tim Dockery, Michael Miller, The Thorstads and Rusty the Truck.  You guys all did an outstanding job and we are super duper incredibly blessed!  

 

 

November 11, 2010

Listening, learning, changing, growing

 “But what if it’s not?” –You Know Who

078

Had a little farewell-ish meeting with You Know Who the other day, and it was bitter sweet for sure.  She is all kinds of amazing, and she has so helped me in this journey. She is so much wisdom and grace…  And she trusts me, which feels kind of awesome.  Well, she trusts me and Jesus, and that is a lot.  To say that I am thankful for the things she has done, the things she has helped me see, is the understatement of a lifetime.  She has been a soft place to fall on hard days, and a guiding hand to hold along rough paths.  She says kind and affirming things to me repeatedly and with the most genuine glimmer in her eyes she helps me believe them about myself.  She has repeatedly pointed me towards Jesus with endless persistence and patience.  She has sat calmly across from me while I dredged up messy stuff, pushed me when I needed to be moved, and shed tears when I couldn’t for myself. 

From emergency room trips to scrambled eggs and toast, she has poured an enormous amount into my life.  It’s the seeing thing though that has been the most helpful.  Not that I was blind to the Father’s Love before, but my prescription was off I think.  Because she follows Him so intently, and hears Him so well, she was able to give a much clearer picture of Him than I had seen before.  She is a giver and a teacher, an awesome wife, one of the most amazing mom’s I have ever known, an outstanding friend and so much more.  I am beyond blessed to know her, to learn from her.  And every ounce of hope and strength and Love she offers is straight from the Father.  That is maybe the greatest thing she has taught me, to keep going back to Him.

So here I go.  Moving out of this house that I moved into when I was still married, into a new house and a whole new phase.  So many things have happened in the last few months, so many things have changed.  Our house, my job, my relationships, thought patterns, ideas and attitudes- Just. Keep. Shifting.  (Shout out to Gateway Church and the Freedom Ministries they offer)  You guys, change is oh so good, please let me never stop changing and growing. 

"Who am I? is not a bad question; it's a good question.  It's just not the first question.  Who is God? is the first question." -Marcus Brecheen Executive Pastor, Gateway Chrurch

068.1

This part of the journey and all of it’s painful transition has grown me up, or maybe it has given birth to a new me, I don’t know, something good.  I just know that what I know about myself, my identity is different than what I knew a year ago, six months ago even.  Maybe He isn’t who I thought He was.  And I’m not saying that I had everything all wrong about me or Him.  I was just missing so many pieces and I had shoved some in where they didn’t belong.  In no way am I professing to have the whole puzzle put together now, but jeez I feel like I had the wrong box top before. 

The difference seems to be that instead of people trying to get past my defenses and give me a clearer picture of who I am, I was finally able to let my defenses down long enough to see who He is.  Anyway, I’m still in the middle of working this all out, but I have at least figured out~  I am a grown up, responsible and accountable, who gets to make her own choices.  (Oh choices, such a hard and lovely, empowering concept.)  I get to be the mom of four fabulous, wonderful, beautiful, extremely intelligent children and they are so much more than important to me.  And I was created for so much more than I could ever have imagined. 

"Freedom is the ability to fully respond to God as the person you were created and redeemed to be." Think Differently Live Differently by Bob Hamp

069

I was created for so much more than survival, because I am a daughter of this Great God and a lover of this True King.  And I get to die, as often as I choose, to myself and all the crap she carries with her.  I get to choose Him and His ways over me and mine.  And I’m more than excited to see what He has in store for us.  More than willing to lay down my stuff and sit and listen and go and do, because He is just so much better at Life than me.  And He…  He is so intentional with Love.  And He is unfailing and He is good, better than good.  And He is faithful and true, and He never changes.  So instead of being halfway surrendered to a blurry picture of a God I’m not so sure about, I am fully surrendering to a Father who is revealing Himself to me more and more everyday as I seek His face and His heart.  I am giving in to His pursuit of me, surrendering all I am because all I am is His anyway. 

064
Jesus take the wheel and all that jazz…     

 

 

November 10, 2010

My Heart

Oh this little girl… She is my heart. 

039.1
And she knows it.  And there are days when it is oh so hard not to be wrapped around her little finger.  And there are days when she utterly exhausts me with all of her passion and sensitivity.  (No idea where she gets that from.)  This girl, she is everything I didn't even know I meant when I said I needed a girl.  Of course, all of my Loves are incredibly special to me. Griffen is my joy I think, and Gabe is my peace, and Grace is my Strength.

007.1
 And this girl, she is my heart. 

November 9, 2010

Seeds

163965626_377e005cfb_o

           My uncle had a circus pony; my life is so bizarre.  She wasn’t much taller than my legs were long, but she was round enough that my Adidas didn’t quite hit the ground.  Neither of us belonged on that horse ranch, and I’d like to say that we became friends, but we never really warmed to each other because she only liked to walk in circles and she nipped at my ankles when I pulled her in the other direction. 

           I was twelve when we went to West Texas.  For almost a year I had been secretly calling my uncle with monthly reports, mainly consisting of what groceries we had and didn’t have, what drugs my mom was currently on, who had been sleeping in our house, and how much she had been hitting us.  When I mentioned as an aside that one of the guys who had been crashing in our living room thought I was cute, he came to get us. 

           He drove straight to us in the middle of the night with his wife and kids in the truck.  At about three in the morning, prime party time for my mom, he knocked on the door and yelled out for me to get our stuff together.  There were probably ten people in various states of wasted in our living room, one of them being my mom.  She was shocked and angry, screaming and crying, but never threatened to call the cops for kidnapping because she and her friends would have been the ones who got arrested. The whole thing was jarring and scary, even for me and I had planned it all.  My sisters were ten and six at the time.  I told them before we went to bed that night that he was coming but neither of them had any desire to leave the awfulness that was our home.  It was all they had ever known, and they were scared to death to leave my mom alone in it.

           We rushed around our filthy house and Amanda and I threw as much of our stuff as we could into a couple of trash bags.  It couldn’t have taken more than fifteen minutes.  My mom held Alisa, the six year old, and they both wailed the whole time.  My uncle refereed the crowd of confused druggies in our living room while we packed and then helped us toss our bags in the back of the truck. 

           I will never forget pulling Alisa out of my mom’s arms that night. Neither of them had any idea what I was trying to do.  They didn’t understand that I was trying to give us all a chance.  My mom didn’t see that I was trying to give my sisters back some of the childhood that she had robbed them of.  My sisters didn’t see that I was removing them from an increasingly dangerous home.  None of them understood that our normal was way not normal.  So I pried my baby sister out of my mom’s arms and rode for four hours back to my uncle’s house in West Texas with the two of them on either side of me, heads in my lap crying.  They sobbed until they slept and then whimpered in their sleep.  I stayed awake the whole way, thinking of what I had left behind and wondering about what was ahead.

2432602222_79481fa959_o

           We lived on that horse ranch in that tiny West Texas town for about a year and a half.  And good and bad things happened, mostly good though.  I think it did help my sisters and I have a better understanding of what childhood and family were meant to be.  We came home to a much more terrible situation with my mom who had basically used the time to perfect her party skills.  But the time spent there changed us.  One of the great things that happened while we were living at my aunt and uncles, good people spoke good things into our lives.  We were looked in the eyes and smiled at by people who were sober.  Our hands were held literally and figuratively. 

           Time and again we were given opportunities to try new things and we were encouraged in our efforts.  And so when we went back to live with my mom, as awful as it was, there were these little seeds planted in us, awareness that there was indeed some good in us and growing little buds of something great. 

2432602270_e0a7b5323a_o

           We went to church with my mom a little when I was younger, not much, but enough I guess.  I have been, almost as long as I can remember, aware of the presence of God.  When people ask how I can have survived the childhood I did and still believe Jesus loves me, I think- how could I not?  He held me and protected me, all the time.  He saved me, all the time.  His Love was tangible to me.  He was my Friend and Father.  I’m still not exactly sure when that awareness kicked in, but I am ever so grateful that it did.  I did not survive my childhood.  Honestly, if you knew some of the things I lived through you would see, there is no other explanation than Jesus.  He is amazing like that.   

           For that year and a half in West Texas though, other people were Jesus to us in very tangible ways. Life was spoken over us.  Love was shown and felt.  Time and care were given.  And not having to scrap and strive to take care of myself and my baby sisters gave me room and time to Just. Be. Loved. 

           Family, teachers and friends and youth pastors, if you were a part of that little section of my journey, I am forever grateful.  I am forever changed.  The seeds that you planted, they grew I think.  The words you spoke, they did not fall on deaf ears.  Something about growing up in a rough home where there is maybe less love evident than there should be, you get good at sniffing it out and soaking it up.  And so in big ways and little, the love you showed me filled my hungry heart.  It gave me hope and strength.  Changed the way I saw me.  Changed the way I saw Him.  Changed the way I saw the whole world.  Jesus loves me, and you, this I know. 

Keep shining. 

Love, love,

Amber

 

 

November 8, 2010

Grace is my Anthem

So.  Much.  Love. 

You saved my life from death
When I was all but defeated
You spoke Your promises
And brought life to my weakness
Came as a conquering King
And You warred for my freedom
My soul can’t help but sing
Hallelujah

You opened up my eyes
For the first time I saw You
Your love commanding life
And deserving devotion
You told me who I am
Now in faith I believe it
My soul can’t help but sing
Hallelujah

You’ve made a place for me
Silenced all my accusers
Leading me forth with peace
Filled with joy I will follow
Your cross demands my life
Now Your grace is my anthem
My soul can’t help but sing
Hallelujah

Hallelujah, we’re redeemed and made free
By the blood of the Lamb we have won
Hallelujah, we will sing victory
Jesus conquered the grave
God be praised

-Gateway Generate
David and Alena Moore

 

November 4, 2010

My Escape

586 (2)
(Wherein I am a little defensive and ever so slightly teenager-ish with Jesus)

The kids were in bed, the towels were folded and put away and the house was quiet.  *Deep sigh* I was ready to spend time with God, so I popped in my earbuds and blasted some Kim Walker Smith.  About fifteen minutes into my own personal jam session, Jesus tapped me on the shoulder. 

Him:  Hey Kiddo, what are you doing?
Me:  (a little startled, taking out the earbuds) Oh, hey.  I’m worshipping.
Him:  Oh really? 
Me:  Yeah.  (pointing to my IPod) See, worship.
Him:  Worship is a response though, seems like you’re using it for an escape.  And if you are worshiping me now, why does it feel like I’m interrupting you?    
Me:  What?  I’m totally worshipping. I totally love you.
Him:  Well then sit quietly with me for a while and let me give you something to respond to.  I love that you enjoy worship, but blasting praise music in your ears is not a substitute for hearing my voice kiddo.  It is a good way to start.  It's a good way to reset your brain and to prepare yourself to hear my voice, but it is not a substitue.  Nothing is.  I love you.  I want to spend time with you.  That’s how relationships work.  Let’s work on ours. 

And then…
024.1
…well…  And then we had a really sweet time.  And for the hundredth time I tried to remember why I ever let myself get out of the habit of spending daily, intentional time with Somebody who just Loves me so much.  It is oh so humbling, and I am oh so grateful that He continues to tap me on the shoulder anyway. 

November 3, 2010

Gravity

Because I kind of think that almost nothing is not a little message wrapped in daily grind type stuff…

007

At the grocery store with my youngest Little Wonder this morning:
Me:  Hey Pie, hang on tight to the basket, we’re about to go outside and there are cars and rain and wind out there.
Pie:  Okay Mom.  And is there gravity out there too?  And will it try to make me fall?  
Me:  Yes Pie.  There is gravity out there.  There is gravity everywhere.

070

Life is kind of a lot sometimes, not necessarily in a bad way. 
Kind of like gravity, not necessarily bad, it keeps us grounded after all. 

It's just that sometimes it’s more important to be careful not to fall.

Hanging on tight,
-Amber

006

 

 

%d bloggers like this: