Wednesday, December 16, 2009


I won 3rd row concert tickets to see tobyMac. I had entered all the radio contests I could to win these tickets, in hopes of having a great concert experience with Jeff. What I didn't expect is that Jaden would become such a huge tobyMac fan so when we won 2 tickets, of course I had to take my 7-year old!!

What an amazing concert. It was such high energy, punk, hip-hop, Christmas songs, you name it, all dedicated to Jesus. My goal of the night was for Jaden to see that men could be really cool, sing really great songs, do really awesome dance moves, and still be total Jesus Freaks. Glory was given to God all night long and I really wanted Jaden to see that. And it filled me with Joy that this is exactly what Jaden saw.

My favorite part of the night is when a Charlie Brown clip came on the screen and it was Linus talking about the true meaning of Christmas. Then tobyMac sang "City on our Knees" with footage of 9/11 and Hurricane Katrina on the screen. And the message was not condemnation ("Look what God did to these cities"), but of hope, and the stories of love, courage and compassion that emerged from those tragedies. I couldn't help but cry but was also filled with hope that if we stand together, we can change the world. We can stand together as Christians, as Jesus Freaks if you will, and pray that God lifts us up as a city, country, and world under Him.

So today, my goal is to live as a Jesus Freak. To proudly and boldly proclaim the love of Jesus Christ and the hope we have in Him. In doing so, I will strive to be humble and loving, looking for every opportunity to show God's love for His children.

And I thank God for great role models such as tobyMac, the Diverse City band, Stephanie Smith, b. Reith, and Relient.K. These talented musicians were all immensely gifted but all praised God and sought to glorify Him. We need more role models like these for our kids!

Saturday, December 12, 2009

I let somebody steal my joy....

This morning, I was bursting with joy as our family made the commitment to sponsor a child through Compassion International. Just bursting!! On the verge of tears, I felt so great, like I was doing something really great that God had placed on our family.

Then, at 8:30am, with it slightly drizzling outside, my 4-year old, Colten, asked to go outside and ride a bike. Not a big wheel or something noisy, but a 2-wheeler with training wheels. I went outside to watch him, complete with my coffee mug, big jacket, monkey slippers, and huge grin on my face. I felt great. Standing in the alley behind our homes, guarding my precious child in case someone backed out of their garage or drove in, I felt great.

Then she came out. The neighbor that has been harassing us about our noisy kids. In addition to Colten, we have a 7-year old, Jaden, and the boys do play outside. They'll ride bikes or we'll set up a basketball hoop or Jaden will set up his hockey nets and play street hockey. The kids are always supervised by either Jeff or I, they only play during reasonable daylight hours, and we don't let them yell or be excessively loud. But many of our neighbors are elderly and prior to us moving into the neighborhood a year ago, I can only assume that kids playing outside was not a common occurrence. Her confrontations towards my husband have been quite aggressive, including her going after him as he tried to walk away, but today it was my turn.

So when I saw her garage door go up, I cheerily waved to her and said "Good Morning!", complete with my monkey slippers on. She told me that my son was making too much noise. That all the neighbors thought we were too loud. That he should be riding his bike at the park (1 mile away). That I was arrogant and uppity. That I took better care of my dogs than I did my kids. Ouch!

I tried apologizing for any time I ever came across as arrogant. I told her that the boys had permission to ride their bikes in this alley, that Colten was not even talking as he was riding, he was just happily toodling around in circles. I told her that I wanted to keep peace with the neighbors. I told her that I didn't understand, we had been friends when we first moved in a year ago and I didn't know why she seemed so angry with us. I expressed concern over her recent health problems and that I would pray for her healing (this was said very sincerely, but it seemed to make her very angry).

But most importantly, I lost my joy! I forgot all about my sponsorship of a little boy in Nicaragua. I forgot about Jaden & I winning 3rd row seat tickets for a tobyMac concert this Tuesday. I forgot about God coming through for us financially this week and giving Jeff many promising job opportunities. I forgot about passing Neurology, and all of my other classes, after a very challenging Fall quarter. I forgot about all these things that I had been praising God for all week.

For the rest of the day, I was back in the rain, in my big jacket, my monkey slippers, holding my mug of coffee, but now without a grin as I was told that I took better care of my dogs than I did my kids.

I do pray for Debra, for her physical and mental healing, for peace in our neighborhood, and for our kids being able to play outside without fear of receiving a letter threatening a fine if we continue to 'disrupt the peace'. I pray that God uses this experience to shape me so that I may be able to gracefully handle conflict (I did pretty good today, but threatening to call animal control if her always-off-leash dog ever charged my children again was likely not the Holy Spirit speaking through me at that point; funny how one bad sentence at the end of a conversation can negate all the peaceful and graceful things you said up till then...). I pray that I never let someone else steal my joy like that again. I pray that Jeff's heart softens as well, as he was pretty angry that these things were said to me.

And now I thank Pastor Rick Warren for his well-timed tweet tonight:

"Do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you."
Luke 6:27-28.

I can only imagine that I did something good for the Lord, and the Devil immediately tried to squash me, and I let it happen. Next time, I pray to do better.

I'm sponsoring a child!

My online friend, Rachel Olsen, had a challenge on her blog to visit Compassion International and pray for one of the children in need of a sponsor. I visited the site and viewed the children in Nicaragua who were in need of sponsorship. I selected Nicaragua because I have actually been there, 3 years ago. The sights of poverty are still with me but I had neglected to keep these families in my prayers. I selected an 8-year old boy and had been praying for him the past two days. During a time of meditation this morning, I felt like God placed it on my heart to sponsor him. It was easy to argue "But, Lord, money is so tight right now!" but then I was gently reminded that the money is God's, not mine, and he has always provided for us in the past and now it is our turn to let God work through us to help provide for another family in need.

Sponsorship of a child is only $38/month. You can select the age, boy or girl, what country the child is from, and can even pick a child based on their birthday (in honor of somebody else, for example). Once I have more information about Jonh, I will happily post some pictures.

I don't count on anyone reading my blog, but maybe somebody else will be led to sponsor a child in need as well :)

In Him,