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Wednesday, August 8, 2012

On sacrifice and such things...

I've been thinking a lot about sacrifice recently. Maybe because I read this verse the other day:
"It is dangerous to make a rash promise to God before counting the cost." - Prov. 20:25
I guess making promises to God is a little like making promises to people - don't make them lightly. But what catches me up is the "making promises to God" part. I've become very hesitant to promise anything to God. Am I gun shy?

Well, I guess so. See, there are a whole host of "promises" I made to God, vows you could say, that later when the going got hard and my heart was getting bitter, I began to realized I only promised as an attempt to persuade or bribe God into giving me what I want. Like this: I will sacrifice my time, hobbies, my wants for the great commission but I want a godly spouse. I will be faithful to discipline my kids as long as they change!...and stop disobeying. I will be faithful to give my money generously as long as we don't see financial hardship. None of these thoughts went consciously through my mind at the time. Only later when the spouse wasn't happening, the kids weren't changing, the money wasn't flowing that my heart grew hard and bitter. Well, fine then, I won't [fill in the blank...]

So, now I pray diligently before I make spiritual commitments. Is God leading this or me? Is God leading this or my feelings of inadequacy? Is God leading this or my frustration with life? Is God leading or my desperate attempt to find some concrete rule I can stand on?

Does every decision to sacrifice need to be spiritual? I don't know. I make lots of sacrifices that I can spiritualize but aren't really spiritual at the root [for me]. Like calories. I will sacrifice calories, dessert, or that piece of toast at breakfast to lose a pound [or two :)] I will sacrifice a portion of our budget for a gym membership, cause I value exercise. I am a better mom when I spin my physical wheels hard core for an hour a day. I sacrifice personal time, a second income, and a piece of my sanity to homeschool my kids. And while I engage and dialogue with God on these subjects a lot, they didn't necessarily start there. God never said, "Alyssa, skip the toast this morning." I just committed to it.

But then I guess God did say, "homeschool your kids." And it is a good thing I know that, cause at the end to a very frustrating or difficult day, I can return to solid ground by remembering that this is God's thing, not mine. No amount of legalism, "supposed tos," or other people can get me through the challenging task of parenting my kiddos. Only God, and knowing I am parenting them how He wants me to. Not how He wants so-and-so to parent their kids.

I don't know where this post is going. I am just sad to see so many people burned out and bitter at God because he didn't "hold up his side of the deal." It is indeed dangerous to make a rash promise to God before counting the cost.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

A Lowe visit!

Our fabulous friends came to visit this last weekend. There is nothing like old friends. Old as in we walked through many single years together, engagement, early marriage and the birth of each of our children together. There is a reason we stayed up long after the kids finally went to bed...a little too long and yet not nearly long enough.

We were remarking on all the "little years" with our oldest, where we would have to constantly watch and interfere as they took toys, hit, pushed and fought [mostly my spirited daughter] and now they could play content for hours without a problem! Glory and Abishai well... they were inseparable.  And Esme finally broke out of her shell and joined Ruth in a whole bunch of crawling, giggling, roaring fun games. It was a blast!

Here are some of my favorite moments from the weekend:

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Out on a limb...

And all I have to say is...
This last weekend was 
sort of
 gut wrenching. It wasn't just one call, one email, one Facebook post. It was many. Cancer and depression and heart problems...hard pregnancies, hard marriages, hard toddlers.
Where are you wife? Chris questioned the vacant expression that accompanied me most of Saturday. I wasn't with it. I was out of it. But when you see other people in pain, it is sort of hard to figure out how to be in it.
What am I doing here!? Why am I doing what I am doing?! Sometimes the unexplainable makes me try to explain myself. Sometimes the unfair trials in other people's lives make me  question the unfair blessings in mine.
We do a lot of adventure talk on this blog. Google [that all powerful source of need-to-know-info] defines adventure as:
An unusual and exciting, typically hazardous, experience or activity.

Other's have defined it as outdoor activities that involve risk. What do I define it as? Offhandedly: outdoor pursuits that leave you breathless but soul fed. [And we all know, being a parent, that a simple trip to the zoo can become an epic adventure.] But does it have to be outdoors? Does it have to be by choice? No and no. Can life be an adventure [albeit a sucky one] if your going through a divorce? What about if you have a kid going through chemo and a hike is not on your list of to-dos for the weekend? Can you still lead a full life? OF COURSE I SAY!
But it seems plainly insulting to refer to the deep, rendering, gut wrenching experiences of many as simply an adventure. When so many of us also refer to our afternoons swimming, a hike, a climbing trip, or a night in a tent as the same thing. Somehow it misses the heart ache. It lightens the otherwise dark, tragic and dreary reality of our broken world. But perhaps the pain, sickness, brokenness is more of a real adventure than anything we [meaning us] can contrive of every weekend.
 it may also be a bold, usually risky undertaking, with an uncertain outcome.

Do all these extracurricular pursuits we promote really make your life fuller? Yes. [I answer this one from personal experience.] But are they necessary for a full and meaningful life? No. Then, I ask myself, do I drop all I know and enjoy to find the one thing that is absolutely necessary?
 to dare to go; to dare to say

What if that absolutely necessary thing is woven like a thread through the fabric of history. Through each tree that smells of butterscotch and pine. Through each bird that sings atop the tree I moved 10 feet above on the second pitch of our climb. What if that absolutely necessary thing for leading a full life was in the mountains, the snow, that soft whoomp that settles up your legs as they carve into the next powered filled turn. What if it wasn't climbing, biking, hiking, camping, skiing, mountains, sunsets, sunflowers, or raging rivers that filled our soul - but merely what and who they reflect? What if that necessary thing was a person? What if it is Jesus?
Life is either a daring adventure, or nothing.

If you'd like to join us in praying for a dear family we know, their daughter was just diagnosed with cancer. Here is a link to their blog and story: Victorious is her Name.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

My inner incognito

The dark shadows bounced around, mirror to mirror. My legs pumped. Up, down, up, down, up, down. We all were, a small pack moving nowhere, burning energy.

But in my mind the mountains flew by, the sun burned bright but didn't burn me. The sun and the trees and the smells were real, just not real. My legs burned, my hip strings strained.

Then the beat hit. Hard. Rhythm on the wings of lyric and sound drove my legs on. The hummmm started in my toes and drove me further and farther then I thought I could go. Then I wanted to go.

I am a dancer, incognito. A musician that will never master an instrument. But beat starts and turns and flutters around my space. And I blend like a rhyme. It drives me on. It takes me to a different place. Past where I think I can go, to something bigger than myself, outside myself, beyond myself.

Monday, June 4, 2012

We are THAT family...

I don't know when it happened...but somewhere along the line we became that family. You know, the one that is slightly dysfunctional and out of touch with the rest of society.

It must have began on our first anniversary. Chris and I went out to a five star restaurant. We followed the host to our seats and Chris jumped in front of me and pulled out the chair. Instead of recognizing his act of chivalry, I said, "Oh, do you want that seat? OK." And moved to the other side. He had to explain to me that he was trying to pull out my chair for me, much to the host's amusement. This is where we coined the term, "YeeHaws." Cause we looked like a bunch of "YeeHaws."

Fast forward 6 years. We are getting ready for a wedding. Chris tells the kids he is going to wear a suit and we ask Abs to run and get ready. Minutes passed and he returned...with his Captain America outfit. "Suit" to our kids apparently means, "super-suit."

Then Anibel and Ezzie come out, in their cute little "princess" dresses and Bells asks, "do these match?" These being her flip flops. That is when I realized I must say yes. Cause the truth is, we don't have dress shoes. So there we were, with one good looking Dad, two girls all dressed up but in flip flops and Abs in Keen sandals...cause they are the nicest shoes he owns. I figured Keens were better than flashing tennis shoes. And me? Well...I had those dress shoes, I slipped them on, made it five minutes standing and wore my own flip flops to the reception. Looks like I can't even handle high heels anymore!

Sunday, May 13, 2012

I did it again...damnit!

Mother's Day. I sort of dread the day. Every year I feel placated. Almost as though everyone tries to spoil you one day a year to make up for the other 364 days you sacrifice over and over. Instead of  feeling like I was "made much of", I feel like the world has boxed me up into a Hallmark card and made little of me.

Last week I had a yoga instructor say to the class, "No one is ever happy by focusing on themselves." Honestly I was a little surprised. Isn't the classic yoga trend to become more at one with yourself? Focus inside? [I usually ignore it.] But this time I liked my teacher's take on the world. And maybe that is really why I cringe on Mother's Day, cause I spend all day thinking about myself...

Today I woke up. And instead of going about my normal routine, this time I was thinking, "Why am I making the coffee this morning? Now I am doing the dishes from last night and starting breakfast. Oh, you want your new toy opened? Well I want [insert the long list of what I want]...." My inner monologue was just plain ugly.

What gets me the most is: I fall for it every year! Like the Cover Girl slogan "Because you are worth it", I buy into the lie that it is about me, that I need to take care of myself, that I am used and abused and unappreciated. And I leave the day feeling...victimized.

But here is what God had to say to me this morning:
"He who fashioned the hearts of them all and observes all their deeds." Ps 33:15
He sees me. Like Hagar I struggle a lot with "being seen." I feel invisible most of the time. I wonder if God has forgotten me. If He notices me. Yes...he does. Even when no one else does. And honestly, with a bunch of kids almost smack in the middle of the toddler years, I think it is safe to say my kids don't really notice a whole lot of what I do. Well...until I don't do it and then insert the fussy, "Mooommmy!"

But God sees.

God then dished out a piece of my own advise:
"I will sing to the Lord, because he has dealt bountifully with me." Ps. 13:6
Here is His response to me feeling like the victim: I have dealt bountifully with you. This is my same response to my daughter when she is particularly negative...I ask her to tell me 5 things she is thankful for or glad in. God turned it in my face. Sometimes I think He glories in the irony. In fact, I am sure he does. Almost as if to say, "Yes, Alyssa, your life is SO hard! You have an amazing, supportive, Christ loving husband who pursues your heart. You have three beautiful, HEALTHY, fun, imaginative, smart, silly kids. You have a dysfunctional puppy that lives to make you happy. A great house. A wonderful church. Financial blessings that let you stay home, home school your kids, eat out on occasion, rock climb, have a gym membership, get new cloths, live in Utah, ski, camp, and bless others financially. In the last two days you have camped, hiked, enjoyed a s'more, gotten your hair cut, had a pedicure, watched Avengers, and gone out for pizza. Yes, a hard life." This is where I imagine he flashes that crooked, silly grin that my husband often shines at me when I am being ridiculous.

So, while I started this Mother's Day in an ugly place, I am ending it "acting like a princess," as I tell my daughter when her attitude has changed for the good. And I owe this all to my great God, who gently corrected my warped mind and led me down the better path.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Four Years of Abishai

We now have a super hero in our household. Everyone might think this is great. After all, they do their best to keep you safe at all times. But there is a side affect to all the hero business: loud crashes, exploding fire balls, flying shoes, impenetrable armour, none stop action, and an arsenal of weapons.

Let us just say, this family's four year old super hero is now stocked up with everything he might ever need to fight the bad guys after his Birthday.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Enough is enough

What is enough?

I am going to be honest. [I think I start a lot of posts this way.] But I don't get enough of Jesus. And it is my own fault most of the time. Now I know that in some proverbial way we can never get enough of Jesus. But spending time in prayer, reading the bible, meditating on his truths? We don't have to. But if I am loving Jesus I will want to. As a mom I often find myself at a loss. A loss of time. A loss of wakefulness. A loss of...shall I even say sanity sometimes?

Let me explain. This is what my mornings look like. Most of the time.
I sleep.
Until I hear the kids stirring or more than stirring...whipping around their rooms in a flurry of clothing, toys, and giggles.

And the other mornings? I wake early. I want time with God. Time in the quiet. AND... one of the kids hears me get up and they get, and they get up the others. And I ask them to go back to their rooms till I get them. And one of the three ends up needed a little more help obeying...

Or this morning. I woke up at 6:05am. No kids stirring this time. I tip-toed downstairs, grabbed my bible and started some much needed coffee. I sit down in my favorite comfy chair AND I notice a pile of puppy vomit on the carpet two feet in front of me. He ate one of the kids socks again and somehow I missed seeing it in the dim-light of dawn. I cannot ignore the vomit. I get up to clean it. I am amazed once again at the number of things that can thwart my time with God. [I did get some good reading in after that, all tinged with the smell of gross doggy stomach contents.]

So I am wondering this morning, how on earth I get enough of Jesus. Or even a little more of Him. When it sometimes feels as though all of life is making it impossible. Ya know? I would love to hear other Mom's thoughts. I've even begun, somewhere in the deep recesses of my mind, to give up.

But I have been thinking about one thing. As a mom I cannot compartmentalize my walk with God. Meaning, if I believe that praying, reading my Bible, and doing "church things" is the only way to know God more and experience him, then by the end of my grueling years as a mom, there might not be any real love of Jesus left. Cause lets be honest, kids and households and life steals your time as a mom. And it seems that nearly everything involving kids is urgent. I have to learn to see God in and amongst my daily moments. Is Jesus somewhere in the vomit? Well maybe he isn't, but he can certainly redeem it. Can I find Jesus in the mountains on my drive to the store, in the small conversations with my kids, in the cooking of dinner or the packing for vacation. Can I find Jesus in decisions made with my husband, hiking, exercising, or doing laundry? He should be in those things, right? He MADE those things, right?

So that is what I am thinking about this morning, as the sun slowly brightens the Wasatch sky. The Wasatch, those mountains that are slowly becoming mine. And as the vomit smell slowly dissipates.

The kids will start stirring soon. I hope I can help them to see Jesus in ALL of life to.

Friday, March 23, 2012

My top 10...

Well, we took a brief trip to Winter Park last weekend. And I've spent all week processing through the way-to-many-photos I took. But I think there are some good ones :). I narrowed it down to my top 10 from the trip. Enjoy!

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

All about Esme

This post is in honor of our youngest little girl, who turned two! Wow! You always know two is right around the corner when they master the words, "No mom!" and use them frequently. But other fun things have been emerging in her personality. Like for instance, she seems to be our little peace-keeper. Whenever someone is frustrate, crying or mad (Mommy included) she is the first to give a hug and say, "it ok, I yuve (love) you!"

Here are a few more things we love: Ezzie loves to sing and dance. We went to a University of Utah gymnastics meet last week and she danced in the aisle to the music the entire time. She is usually smiling, or expressing some other vast emotion across her expressive face. She is permanently attached to her tutu right now. She is our most laid back child but also the most stubborn...

We had a blast with all her little friends. Even though the house barely survived...
Happy Birthday Babe!