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Just wanted to let everyone know that our church has released another album and it’s now available for download on iTunes.  Kalliope is on it singing with the Elevation Children’s Choir at the end of We Unite.  She even has an album credit!  It’s all original songs written by our worship leaders and it’s an amazing album.

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I’ve been going through what some might call an identity crisis over the past several years.  I wanted to share this bit of insight about me because I really feel like God has done such a work in my heart and with my perspective this past week.

I guess it all started back when I had my first child, Kalliope.  Keep in my that I hadn’t found God yet, so bear with me as I fill you in with little back story.  Anyway…as most moms know, everything changes with your first baby.  I felt like I had to completely change who I was, how I dressed, everything!  I went through a phase where I wanted to simplify everything in my life down to the way I dressed and how I wore my hair.  I stopped wearing make-up and really caring about how I looked.  I was always in jeans and a tee-shirt with my hair up in a pony tail.  There isn’t anything wrong with that look, but it wasn’t me.  I used to have fun with my hair and style.  I was feeling like the real me was being lost, which is funny since who I am is not defined by how I dress or how I wear my hair.

Let’s see, about 5 years later I met a group of moms all with autistic kids and we get together for breakfast every Friday.  There I met Jennifer and she helped me see that I have to take time for myself and take care of myself.  I started care about how I looked and started feeling better about myself.

About a year later, I found God.  It was an amazing point in my life where I’ve never felt so loved and fearless and yet confused and unsatisfied with who I was.  I started studying the Bible and hanging around more Christians.  The more I did, the more I felt like I was not what God intended a Christian to be like.  I don’t run around hugging everyone, I’m more of a realist than an optimist, and I’m definitely not meek and submissive.  I felt like something was wrong with me.  I guess I expected some sort of overnight change in who I was and to be fill with joy, peace, patience, kindness, and self-control all the time.

So just a few months after being baptized, I felt a calling to homeschool Kalliope.  We started and I tried to get involved is some groups.  Again, I didn’t feel comfortable there.  I tried to dress the part and even act the part, but wasn’t feeling the part of nice, submissive Christian. 

The church that we were saved and baptized at was wonderful, but I never felt like I completely fit in.  I know it was just my perspective.  I mean outwardly I tried to dress the part of the nice Christian and when I was there on Sundays, I was pleasant and friendly to everyone.  So there we were for 2 years.  Towards the end, the main reason we left was to find some place a little more suitable for Zane since they were planning on restructuring the special needs ministry there.  We also wanted to find a church a little closer to home so we could get plugged in with volunteering.  We visited a couple of different churches and even looked online.  We stumbled across Elevation Church when I googled churches near Indian Trail.  I went to the website and watched a few sermons.  We loved Pastor Furtick right from the start.  So I went one weekend while Jason and Kalliope were out of town and I loved it!  I decided to audition when they were holding worship team auditions and made it. Being around Christians who dressed how they wanted really struck a chord with me, but that is such a small part.

At church this past Sunday, I was singing with 2 other women who are a couple of the nicest people I know and I just felt like there was something wrong with me again.  I jokingly told them that I hope some of their niceness rubs off on me!

Tuesday I had bible study with 2 very close friends.  Somehow the subject of God loving us the way we are came around.  I confessed to them how I felt about myself and was surprised that one of my friends had felt the same way in the beginning of her walk with God.  They assured me that my personality is fine the way it is and I don’t have to be oozing niceness to still be a good Christian woman, and that my gifts were in other areas.  That was such a relief to hear that!

Wednesday I met up with several other homeschooling moms from Elevation.  Again God showed me that you can be fun, loud, a little sarcastic, and still be a good, loving, compassionate Christian woman.

To sum it up, I’m really learning to accept and love myself exactly the way I am.  Does that mean I’m perfect?  Of course!  Absolutely not, but I’m not going to try to be someone I’m not. 

I have a ton of pictures to go through and post, but this will have to do for now.

Since I was singing at church all day Easter Sunday and then (without anyone to watch Zane) Jason and Kalliope went to church Sunday evening, we decided to do our family festivities on Saturday. 

theshack2I just finished reading The Shack today.  What an amazing story!  It’s one of those books you’d have to read to know what I’m talking about, otherwise I could be here all day typing and typing.  I just don’t have enough time or energy to go into all the details of it, but if you’ve read it, let’s chat!  There has been controversy surrounding it, as many thought provoking and challenging books will do, so I found this to be quite helpful for me.

Thanks, Tam, for suggesting it for me!!!

Here are a few pictures from Christmas Eve through yesterday.  I’m not as dedicated as those who got pics of their kids opening presents up on their blogs on Christmas.  I did want to add that I plan to blog more as another resolution for the year.  Yeah, we’ll see how that goes.

Miles with Elmo Live, his big gift this year.  Do you think he likes it?  I’ve also got a video of Kalliope singing at church but I’m having trouble uploading it.  I’ll post it if I can get it to work!

As I laid in bed this morning at around 3 a.m. trying to fall asleep, and believe me I was tired, I just couldn’t.  God placed so much on my heart at such an incovenient time, but what can you do?  Blog about it, of course!

Last year was a tough one for me.  I don’t tend to talk about my internal struggles, even with my closest friends.  I talk about issues with the kids, husband, finances, etc., but not the deep, down, dirty stuff.  Especially towards the end of the year, I was feeling like a big, fat failure.  Failure as a mom, wife, and Christian.  I felt like I was constantly yelling at my kids, annoyed with my husband, and doing nothing for the glory of God.  Last night, God just wouldn’t let me sleep and kept pressing this on my heart.

We serve a God of second chances…and third…and fourth…  Remember that every failure, heartbreak, tragedy, and triumph has been laid out for a reason.  It gives us opportunity.  Opportunity for growth in wisdom, patience, joy, discipline, generosity, forgiveness, and love.  We are all loved.  Remember that even though you ate Christmas dinner alone, didn’t get a single phone call on your birthday, or a card for Father’s Day, we are loved.

So I’m looking forward to 2009.  Looking forward to changing myself for the better and helping to bring out the best in those around me.  Let’s make 2009 awesome!  God bless you all!

I have done some year end evaluations of myself and have compiled a list of resolutions for 2009.  In no particular order:

1. Stop spanking my kids.  Yup, we’ve thrown away the spanking spoon.  It doesn’t really work anyway.  Taking away Hannah Montana toys or writing sentences for an hour is much more effective.

2. Have more patience with my kids, especially Kalliope.  She’s my little mama and I depend on her for a lot of help.  That’s a huge responsibility for an 8 (almost 9!) year old.  It’s easy for her to really get the brunt of my frustration from her brothers.

3. Lose 30 lbs.

4. Keep my house clean 75% of the time (a big number here considering it’s usually around 10%) and fold laundry straight out of the dryer.

5. Be a better friend.  I don’t call my friends and don’t tell them how great they are nearly enough.

6. Get and STAY on a budget!

7. Read through my entire Bible!  I tend to read passages here and there, but there are books that I’ve never even cracked.

8. Learn to let things go.  I’ve gotten better, but still have a long way to go!

9. Get my kids out of the house more.  Right now Zane goes to school, church, and Awana, and that’s pretty much it.  It’s hard to go to the store or playground with all 3, but I just need to suck it up and do it.  How else will he get better?

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I’m sure I’ll think of more, but that’s what I have for now.  How about you?

I pray that you all have a prosperous and blessing filled 2009! 

HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!

And one more thing, we have a sitter for the kids tonight for the first New Year’s Eve in 6 years!  Woo hoo!!!  We have no idea what to do with ourselves!

Last week our amazing sitter came over and kept the boys while Jason and I took kalliope out on a little date.  We first went to a cheap pizza buffet and then onto the Billy Graham library.  They have an amazing light display, carriage rides, live nativity, tour, bookstore, and cafe and it’s all free (except the bookstore and cafe).  It was freezing so we skipped the carriage ride and we got there too late for the 1 1/2 tour, but we got to see the lights, live nativity, tour the Graham family home, and get ice cream at the cafe.  We all had a great time!

121208-004121208-007Live nativity.  That's a real camel!
Live nativity.  The donkey and camel are real!

The past 2 years we haven’t let our kids go trick or treating and take part of general Halloween festivities.  I couldn’t sit here and quote scripture for you to back up our decision, but it’s been more of a feeling and a choice made by our conscience.  At the same time, I didn’t feel like I would be a good Christian by just turning off my lights and acting like we weren’t home.  How is that showing brotherly love to my neighbors?  I certainly don’t think we’re better than anyone, saved or not, and didn’t want anyone to think that we feel that way.  So we made sure to open our doors, lights on, and hand out candy.  I bagged up our candy and included a scripture in it and felt really good about spreading the gospel to all that came to our door.  This year, however, I made the last minute decision to let Kalliope go out trick or treating with her friends.  She dressed up as Mulan (a costume that she already had!).

With her being home schooled, I didn’t want her to feel any more left out than she already does because she doesn’t ride the bus with all her friends.  It’s hard sometimes because we took Kalliope out of school halfway through first grade, so her memory of school was still lots of fun with not very much work.  I try to tell her that as you get older, school isn’t all fun and there’s a lot more work, but she still remembers how it was.  Anyway, Kalliope did have a great time with one of her best friends and got a ton of loot!

At church today, we are in the midst of “The Real Change Campaign” series and pastor’s message today really hit home on so many levels, but I’ll try to stay on topic here. 

He talked about how real change doesn’t come from thinking “outside the box”, but changing things from inside box.  Even though he was talking about our countries current economic state and personal finances, I thought this really applied to Halloween or anything that a Christian might not agree with.  Rather than excluding yourself or start something different, infiltrate, and shine your light from the inside out.  Something like this:

(Is my sci-fi side showing?  I know, I’m a dork.)