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Thursday, June 25, 2015

Shared Words with BBB

I recently was invited to be a guest blog contributor with 
The Better Business Babe
BBB's mission is to see women succeed in business and in life, offering a multi-faceted online community dedicated to helping, supporting and encouraging women both personally and professionally. 
It amazes me how God has already used this connection to encourage others in similar situations through my story. You never know when or how God will plant you in a new arena to be used by Him. I may not have all the business know-abouts to speak of, but I certainly support those who do and I'm excited to join this new online family!
You can read more about BBB and read my first guest entry by clicking on the link below or follow the link in the side bar. 

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Make Jesus Famous

Mark your calendars for July 18th...we are Making Jesus Famous under the Windmill as we launch YWAM Lynden into action!!!
Not only will there be free food for those in attendance, but amazing worship from multiple local churches joining forces to lift His name up high on Front Street!!!
The real bonus is the blessing of listening to YWAM founders 
Loren & Darlene Cunningham 
share what's going on with YWAM, where, who and why so many youth are fired up for God!!!
Bring a lawn chair if you wish or jump to your feet as we want to force the shut down of Front Street due to people of Whatcom County worshipping and celebrating what God is doing locally and globally!!!
For more information or if you'd like to volunteer for this event, check out the website or you can find YWAM Lynden on Facebook as well!!!

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

A Right of Passage

The stories usually begin with, "Well, son, when I was a kid..." which then lead to a mini show & tell of battle wounds and scars. Stories of how it was the bikes fault or why the road did indeed meet to greet us. Stories of broken hearts, broken bones and trauma that left wounds of painfully intense moments. This happens often when my Dad and his brothers are all in the same room!
I was about seven years old when my knees met crushed gravel just a few yards away from our driveway. In our home, we had to have a pretty severe wound to be seen by the doctor as both parents worked in the hospital and had proper training for these accidents. I managed to have a deep enough cut that required stitches and to this day have a scar on my knee. 
A few years later, my little brother was pulling me in the wagon at our neighbors when he tipped me over allowing my front tooth to make perfect connection with the corner of the sidewalk chipping the pearling white. I've had to deal with this crazy tooth multiple times as the crown has chipped or was in need of replacement. 
Or how about when I was sleep deprived just a couple weeks after delivering our firstborn baby girl. My mom and I were going to run a few errands together after she, minutes earlier, reminded me of her car parked directly behind me.  No sleep and a change of hormones turned into an insurance claim as I took the headlight out of moms car. A dent in my ego with accomplished errands was the result of this avoidable situation. 
These are the unforgettable moments that have left impressionable scars both physically and emotionally. As I was cruising along mile six during the Deception Pass Half Marathon, I took my very first misstep landing me in a mess of stinging nettles resting on a twisted pile of tree roots. Every frequent trail runner has tripped once during a run or stumbled enough to tell a story later. This one knocked the breath out of me so much that I even sat out a few miles giving my leg time to attempt a stretch and regain my sturdy feet to finish the race. Days later the bump from swelling has gone down almost all the way, but the color is something that is unforgettable for those that sneak a peak. 
A right of passage to every trail runner. 
A right of passage to all kids learning to ride a bike. 
In life, we go through seasons of mishaps and bruises. Many leaving behind battle wounds not compliant to revisit or willing to take the steps necessary to properly heal. Some have a good story for later and others are in process of journaling the battle for another day. Either way, whether as a child or adult, we go through trials that leave a mark which ultimately become a right of passage to a better you. 
We learn from what we did wrong and avoid whatever pain we experienced so it doesn't happen again. 
It is to our benefit to learn and stretch our character in these times...at least it should be, right? I know that my feet will be a bit more cautious in overgrown, damp areas when running on trails. I learned as a kid to have a little more caution when riding in gravel.  When friends hurled bullets at me with words or through their actions, I questioned myself to see if my words and actions were hurting those around me. Emotional wounds heal much slower than any physical scar or wound. 
My marriage went through emotional hell leaving many consequences years later. My heart was torn and over years of spiritual therapy became new again. 
An avoidable period of time that ultimately made me stronger and able to endure much more then I want to admit to. 
No one wants to see their child in pain, a marriage fall apart or for a friend to biff it good in the forest. No one wants to fail as it often times shows signs of weakness and defeat. During eight years of chemotherapy treatments, rarely have I seen my sister weak in spirit. She has willed herself to smile and continue to fight her physical battle with cancer. Watching my dad endure dressing changes to his second degree burns as he winced in pain, was not to bring him more pain, but to properly start the healing process.  Seeing Charlie overcome his fear of dogs has gained him some man-hood after a terrifying dog bite left him hating all furry creatures. 
These have all been moments in lives where character was tested, stretched and in the end, strengthened due to the power to overcome. 

A right of passage to wear the scar proudly. 

A right of passage to testify to the power of God who heals, protects and restores all wounds; physical and emotional. 

So do not be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord or of me his prisoner. Rather, join with me in suffering for the gospel, by the power of God. 
2 Timothy 1:8

Thursday, June 4, 2015

End of the Year Progress

The end of the year is here and I'm struggling to think 
it's already this time again! 
Charlie made amazing progress from the beginning of the year to now. He had his ups and downs, but in the end, things are clicking the right way as he's getting a little extra help from Sharla Ellens to help his mind read things as written. She's been an awesome help and Charlie LOVES his Tuesday meetings. The kid is brilliant with math; no struggle here! Both kids got their Daddy's math skills! 
Addison has done remarkably well too! She completed a few of her books earlier last month and has just a few more things to complete to finish the year. She has learned to have a love-hate relationship with long division and has taken on a true passion to write. We find short stories in all sorts of journals and on the computer. Quite funny too!
Charlie had swimming lessons earlier this spring and will plan to take more with Teacher Shannon in July. Myriam has one more dance class until taking the summer off while Addison is into gymnastics, but has no desire to take classes. The girl is always doing cartwheels and round offs in the back yard!
I am busy writing my last school reviews for the year and then to clear out binders for the end of the school year. Goodbye 1st and 4th grade...

The kids had a share fair at school where they could show parents everything they've learned, wrote, made or created in their classrooms. I managed to find this sweet poem from Addison in Teacher Giesen's classroom. I treasure these love notes and with her taste for writing, my collection has grown over the past year! Charlie was busy showing me science experiments and including Myriam in the learning fun. This year was the first year we enrolled the kids into campus classes. I was nervous at first, but quickly saw the kids were okay with 
a little of me letting go...
Addison has made some fabulous friends in her writing and science classes as well as Charlie too. There are play dates for sure scheduled for during summer to encourage these relationships. Thank you to Mp3 for making this transition easy for this mama!
We also registered both kids up for Art with Brenda Calvert this year! It's been a joy to see the creativeness being explored through all different techniques and applications in art class. We will miss our weekly sitings of Teacher Brenda! Addison entered her black and white piano painting into the art show last week and received 3rd place. Way to go! Charlie got artistic and painted a guitar which to me looks similar to the famous 'The Voice' red guitar. 
He was so proud of himself!

Another year under our belts. The plan stands for all day campus classes next year which means less pre-planning for me. Myriam is already registered for Pre-school and is beyond thrilled to be in the same class as her bestie Marley. 
For now...

Welcome Summer. Here's to the first neighborhood s'mores where many more will be consumed and had all in due time. 

Outings & Field Trips

Spring time always leads to more outside play, afternoon trips and exploration as part of our P.E. and learning plans for the school year. Summer seems to have arrived early making it extremely hard to keep the kids focused on inside worksheets, quizzes and end of the year review. Here are a few of our outings we have recently enjoyed!

A few weeks back, Grandpa Doug got a call from Daddy to taxi him back home from Seattle. With a flight taking 45 minutes compared to the two hour plus, rush hour road time, a high sky route was the best option home! Charlie was thrilled to tag along in Grandpa's plane, grabbing snacks for the way home with Daddy. The girls had fun waving their arms in the back yard as Grandpa flew overhead tipping this wings to say "hello!"

While Addison was in Portland with Papa and Nana, Charlie, Myriam and I rode to the City Park for some playtime in the warm weather. This will be the last summer I have Myriam in the bike seat with her being curious peeking around me and potentially setting us off balance when only on two wheels! Thankfully, all the bike classes I've taken at E2 have given me the muscle mass to keep us balanced and upright. Charlie and Myriam swung on the tire swing until nearly sick, ran up and down the tunnel slide, created some Ninjago courses and managed to get their feet wet tossing rocks in the creek. Even though the park is all but 10 minutes from us, we still love to visit!

Our latest adventure was hiking Galbraith Mountain with Auntie Traci and Uncle Jason! Addison missed out on our short hike to the first look-out point, but those in attendance enjoyed themselves...even if some had gravity issues on the way down! Myriam fell four times as the tree roots got the best of her or the stump that popped out in front of her managed to get in her way. Uncle Jason explained to the kids what leaves were okay to touch and those that were not as well as providing snacks on top of the hill. I'm so exited to try more hikes and trails with the kids this summer!

{ Big sis. Little bro. }

With some schools out for summer break and others wrapping up, the kids and I are busy planning our summer day trips and adventures. So far we have a few zoo's on the list including the Reptile Zoo (gross), beaches, possibly a walk on ferry ride, boat trips, water slides and of course, Mommy's favorite, some more HIKING! For today...well, I think a trip to the bay will have to do!

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Meeting Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego

{ Some images may not sit well with weak tummies. }

"He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying for pain, for the old order of things has passed away."
Revelations 21:4

{ Post face-wipe as Mom cleaned the suet off. }

This past weekend my Dad attempted to baptize himself with holy fire as the fuel tank on the boat exploded in his face. By the complete grace of God, Dad's life was spared from potentially worsened injuries to his face and body. He walked away with 2nd degree burns to his right arm and face; the potential of much worse haunts me. The boat still floats and Dad has been able to recover from home with his very own personal nurse (his lovely wife) by his side changing dressings and administering drugs on schedule to keep the pain away. 
We won't go into details about how this event happened, but enough to the point where Dad's arm was stuffed in the fuel tank when it exploded making his hair stand on end from the blast and glasses go flying off his nose. Traci went down to the boat later in the day to find his glasses dangling from the out board motor about to fall into Bellingham Bay. Dad had plastic gloves on which spared his fingers being blown off and his overalls which shredded from impact. 

{ Second degree. OUCH. }

Turns out if you want to get a room in the ER right away, walk in with a bloody shirt and tell the front desk you just walked away from a fuel explosion. Now, for Dad, walking into the ER means walking into a situation with co-workers who obviously had great concern for their new patient. 
Meanwhile, the blackened face text message Mom sent out got quite the jump-up-in-your-seat reaction from me. I was relieved to know God had this in His mighty hands much like He has since before time. Many will say, or have said, "What more does this family need to deal with? How much more can they take?
Crazy as it may seem, should we not be saying the reverse?
"God you know our hearts. God you know our capabilities. We trust in You completely. Why not bring us through another testing situation?"

Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego replied to the king, "O Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you in this matter. If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to save us from it, and he will rescue us from your hand, O king. But even if he does not, we want you to know, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up."
Daniel 3:16-18

In our culture today, we have Christians being burned for their profession of faith. Believers being shot in the head for standing their ground and making God their King without waiver.  Young and old being tested in their faith journey as society tries with all it has to numb them from the Truth and make them turn their backs against the church.  The furnace we encounter today is terrifying. I shutter to think about the many more fires we as Christians will have to walk through in America as the projected timeline of Jesus coming back to earth gets nearer. Our government is making disgusting changes within the law that is speed-tracking Jesus coming to save us from the gross sins of this world; the pain as a result from God not being in the center of decision making. 
Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego were thrown into the blazing fire and knew that God was going to save them without question! Their faith did not flounder when faced with a terrifying situation; potentially deadly situation. 
Dad's experience with holy fire reminded me of these three men. 
I think back to my sixth grade year as I had recently upgraded myself from permed hair, shoulder pads and moved into the, "I'm cool, know it all" phase of middle school. It was a normal day until Mom and Dad sat us three kids down to carefully tell us, "Dad has colon cancer." Of course, as a young girl my thoughts immediately went to, "Who is going to walk me down the isle? What is this going to look like for us now as a family?"
Our little school was AMAZING as they brought us meals and offered support in very tangible ways. 
Fear gripped us all, but the faith we founded our family in stood tall and didn't collapse under pressure. A year of treatments passed and at the end of my eighth grade we celebrated Dad's end of treatment with a trip to Hawaii. Our family became closer due to the illness and gave us a reality of being more open about expressing our love for each other. We had some pretty sweet moments in the fire.
Fast forward many years later to when Mom and Dad were driving Addi and I home from the Lighted Parade when I heard those words once again. 
"Honey, Dad has prostate cancer." My stomach sank. My heart was heavy for the discouragement I saw in their eyes and heard the uncertainty in their voices. Dads are never to show weakness. Never to appear fearful of the future.  Dads stand tall and strong and can do anything their little girls ask them to do. Never did I see this in reverse more, then when Dad was in Seattle at the UW for surgery and about to go on the ventilator. A blood clot had made its way to his lungs as a complication from a newly discovered platelet disorder. If it wasn't for my dear mom repeating the demanding words BREATH, I'm not so sure about the outcome. Little did we know this was not the last of the fires we'd be thrown into as a family. 
Four months later and My Hero was diagnosed with breast cancer which has continued eight years later with a lost count on treatments, scans, surgeries and barf bags. There have been many terrifying moments as tumor markers have risen to uncomfortable levels or waiting for results from a latest scan. The cancer has traveled many places in My Hero's body and one would think she'd become weaker as it tackles a new organ, BUT, it's almost as if the cancer becomes her fuel to make her faith stronger. 
I've watched my sister battle the physical hurdles over these past years, but more painful are the mental and emotional victories she's navigated through. God blessed me with fertile ovaries that gave My Love and I two beautiful, blond babies. God continued when He placed our fire-cracker Puerto Rican in our hands three years ago. We've shared intimate moments within our marriage. We've traveled as a couple and fought as one too. I have secure arms wrapped tightly around me at night and know I have a team, my little family, to support me when I'm weak or need help walking. I have my physical strength to do the things I love; running, biking, moving from sun-up to sun-down. Even though my career has changed and morphed into one without a plaque, my job as Mom is tangible and God has given me grace to achieve the assignments in front of me. 
Watching my Hero decide whether to have surgery or not because it would take all of these everyday blessings away from her was heart-wrenching. Seeing her battle the emotional aspect of the surgical outcomes wore on many around her. Yes, in the end her doctor really didn't give her any other option, but if it was still her choice of when to have the surgery, it would still be on the "to-do" list. 

"When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze."
Isaiah 43:2

Never. Ever, have I seen My Hero question why God allowed the cancer minions to throw as many stones as they have in these past years. Never have I seen her complain ( okay, twice. ) about the exhausting, laundry list of pills needed to be taken daily, appointments scheduled or pokes had to get her through the next hurdles of the disease. She is a rock, a fire-proof believer that will not burn no matter what size furnace she is forced to endure. 

My dear Grandma of 87 years is facing uncertainty on this earth. Her faith is what keeps her tall as the disease is attacking her earthly body. The fire will not touch her soul. 
My dad, as he recovers from his flesh wounds, will bounce back and keep swinging because God has made him a tall oak that is hard to knock over. His roots go deep and even if pruned, will grow back healthier and stronger. A reminder of how quick life can be taken from you gives more reason to experience the life God grants us. 
My Mom; the nurse, the nurturer, the comforter, the one of being in many places while doing many things; her faith, although tested and stretched, knows Her Father has His hand carrying her giving the life-sustaining breath to fight for others. She never stops and stubbornly doesn't take offers of help. But, if I can represent anyone through my life, it would be her. This pillar of strength carries her beloveds cancer battles and mishaps, her daughters extreme fight for life, her own mother's and mother-in-laws cancer journey and the daily tasks, all on her shoulders with such amazing grace.
It would be an honor to stand as tall as Mom has while driving in so many directions for so many people. I'm exhausted listening to her week's schedule! 
My point is this...some may say we are cursed for bad things, plagued with potentially life-ending situations to happen within our family. I say, yep, why not? We believe in a God that heals, saves and forgives, right? So, if we believe in a God so much mightier than ourselves or any earthly power then why fear? Yes, we have emotions and physical pain that causes us to feel the good, the bad and the ugly, but that isn't a gage of our faith. Unless, it's one that states we don't trust God enough to throw us in the furnace and not walk our unscathed. 

"But he knows the way that I take; when he has tested me, I will come forth as gold. My feet have closely followed his steps; I have kept to his way without turning aside. I have not departed from the commands of his lips; I have treasured the words of his mouth more than my daily bread."

Job 23:10-12

I pray my life can be of one that withstands the furnace much like Shadrack, Meshach and Abednego were thrown into. I pray that we, as a fighting family, can "come forth as gold" after another diagnoses appears, accident happens or death occurs; physical or emotional. I pray for our relationships to not fray as negativity attempts to cut away around the edges with tensions, opinions or not understanding how to deal with the unknowns. I pray for protection over our kids as they are too young to understand the fire they too are walking through and for their faith to become like a thick wall that stands up to the blazing temperatures of life.  
I thank God for the other pillars in our life who have filled in the gap with prayers and support. It is not healthy for one to carry all the burden alone. I have a lifetime of gratitude for God sparing Dad's life with his encounter of holy fire. There are many who won't let him live this one down, but jokes aside, I believe God has a reason to keep Dad here longer. 
Once these temporary wounds heal, I think a family meeting should be in order as our days of fire walking are not done!

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

The Gift of a Multi-Tasking Mother

Mother's Day morning I woke up to poppy eggs in bed with steaming hot coffee served by My Love and our Little Blessing's. As I sat in bed awkwardly eating my breakfast with all eyes on me, I was showered with reasons why I was special and dearly loved. There were a few pauses and thoughtful moments, but I'm going to say the silence was due to it being early that not many reasons were shared!
There are moments where I don't deserve the doting on as I snap or need to fall to my knees in forgiveness for my impatience. My role as a mom has morphed into teacher over the years and I'm blessed to have kids that offer me grace daily when trying to teach hard topics with a toddler dancing around. I'm forever grateful to be Mom to these kids!
Either way, I felt loved. Of course there came the cherished handmade gifts and attempts at a peaceful day but in the end, the day was perfect. A mid-afternoon run left me sweaty and we topped it with a sweet S'moresma as the sun set to the west.

 { Brothers. }

We spent the late morning at Gigi's enjoying an impromptu brunch with Aunt's and Uncle's. It's entertaining as the 1st cousins are now chasing the 2nd cousins in the back yard. We were missing a few, but the group has grown over the years. Gigi still has the same LEGOS my dad played with as a child for our kids to be creative with as the wood cars and John Deere's rolled around outside. The four brothers have evolved over the years too with less of more gray hair and bellies full of wisdom. And as always, more stories of these curious four come out with smirks and grins oozing with guilt.
Gigi is an amazing mother. She is a survivor, a do-it-yourself-er, strong in personality and strength and rarely gives in to whatever it is she's facing. I am blessed that God has given her so many years to inspire me, challenge me and to give our kids numerous memories of their Great Grandma.

 { Myriam was experiencing a bit of an overly tired, sensory meltdown during an attempt at pictures with 2nd cousins and Gigi. }

Thank you to all the Mom's in my life who have shaped the way I parent and love our kiddos. My Mother is a saint and I have been immensely blessed to watch her navigate extreme challenges both in health and at home that have inspired me to be greater. Thank you to all the mom's around me who have taught me to be a better wife, mother and friend displaying Jesus to our kids and those in our circles. Happy Mother's Day!