Missed Birthdays and Broken Holidays (Faith)

Some kids don’t get birthday parties.  Some kids get forgotten.

Some families don’t feel the “Holiday Spirit” and don’t have hope that anything will ever get any better than it looks right now.

Our family is going to go bring hope and Light to some kids and families.

We know this isn’t just with our power (and we also know God is calling more people to do this work with us.)  God renews us every day.  We trust that He will keep doing this so that we can help others and then they can help others, too (and so on.)

When God first put it on my heart that He was using our family in this way, of course I wanted to know more.  Who wouldn’t?!  This is the most amazing experience of my life; knowing He’s working in us and through us.

God has always led people and since He’s the same yesterday, today, and forever, we can know He still leads people today.

Think about this.  How do you “know” something?  I mean, some women “know” they’ll have 2 kids.  Some “know” they’ll have 10.  Some people “know” they’ll never be married and some “know” they will be.  I’ve heard some people, after a young person died, say, “He always ‘knew’ he was going to die young.”  How did he “know?”

Sometimes we take our knowledge, gifts, and talents for granted.  We just “know” how to draw or how to invent things.  Sometimes we don’t even give credit to God because we have the ability to easily remember things or to do math in our heads, and we forget or don’t think about where this comes from.

Sometimes you just “know” stuff.  God put that in us.

We “know” He’s moving our family to Alaska to open and care for a homeless teen center (not yet in existence.)

~~~~>  The funny thing is that when we started packing boxes last year, waiting on His timing to move, the very first box I packed was full of mismatched tea party pieces.

I was blessed to have a roommate from college helping me pack.  I asked out loud, “WHY am I packing a tea set to move to Alaska?!  What a SILLY thing to pack!”

She looked right into my eyes and smiled, “I can’t WAIT to see how God manifests this tea set!”  <~~

Some kids are forgotten and some never had a birthday party.  Some got a black eye instead of a present.

Since that time after packing the tea party stuff, we’ve collected many sewing patterns (new and on sale.)  I wondered “WHY?”  “WHY am I collecting this many patterns and different kinds, too?  I mean, I do like to sew but haven’t really taken the time to so why would I be gathering this many patterns?”

Then God put this on my heart.

Some kids are homeless and have only the clothes they are wearing.

Oh, wow.  I hadn’t thought of that.  Not only will WE sew, but we will teach teens how to sew their own clothes and teach them job skills and share Jesus’ Love with them.

Then there’s this:  20 years ago I started collecting art supplies.  WHY?  I never really got time to paint, stamp, sew, or create like I wanted to so WHY have I had these supplies?

WHY did we pack decorations, hair cutting supplies, make up, and photography equipment?

It’s simple.

Homeless people aren’t trying to decorate for parties (or even go to any,) or visit the salon, or get family portraits done.

We are going to do this for them.

We believe God is moving us to Alaska to bring hope and Light and to celebrate missed birthdays and broken holidays with teens and families who haven’t had much light or hope in their lives.

We’re going to paint fingernails, cut hair, and donate our photography skills to people who otherwise would not have these luxuries.

At first I was like, “God, this may sound kinda silly to people.”

So I didn’t tell anyone that I believed He was doing this with us.

But it’s really not so silly when you think about it.

Celebrating someone’s birth and existence is a pretty routine thing for many people.  I know I was blessed to celebrate many birthdays with parties and friends.  You probably were, too.  Getting hair cuts, nails painted, family pictures, and going to the salon are things many people take for granted.

But when you have been neglected or overlooked or forgotten, moving our family to give hope and just to love on people is actually not such a silly mission at all.

So…  I said it.  Finally.  We’re going to Alaska to celebrate people who haven’t been celebrated much in their lives and who haven’t seen reasons to celebrate.

Prayers, donations, and support are always welcome here.

It’s all about God’s Power.

It’s up to us to obey His Calling (even if it looks silly to some.)

Cool fact to think about:  We don’t have to have all the answers right now or know how God’s doing this with us.  We will just have faith that He can and He is.

God opens doors that no man can shut and shuts doors that no man can open.  We have faith and will keep asking, seeking, and knocking since He’s put this dream in our hearts.  Your prayers, good thoughts, well wishes, support, and donations are welcome as we step out in faith to do this work in His Name.

 

[Note:  There are many stories about how God led people – and it looked kinda silly to others when you think about it.

– There was a guy, Naaman, and God showed him he was to go dip in the Jordan river 7 times and his leprosy would be healed.  Silly?  He was even mad that there wasn’t some amazing, grand thing that would cure his skin.

But it was simple.

Obedience.

Elisha sent a messenger to say to him, “Go, wash yourself seven times in the Jordan, and your flesh will be restored and you will be cleansed.”

But Naaman went away angry and said, “I thought that he would surely come out to me and stand and call on the name of the Lord his God, wave his hand over the spot and cure me of my leprosy. Are not Abana and Pharpar, the rivers of Damascus, better than all the waters of Israel? Couldn’t I wash in them and be cleansed?” So he turned and went off in a rage.

Naaman’s servants went to him and said, “My father, if the prophet had told you to do some great thing, would you not have done it? How much more, then, when he tells you, ‘Wash and be cleansed’!” So he went down and dipped himself in the Jordan seven times, as the man of God had told him, and his flesh was restored and became clean like that of a young boy.  2 Kings 5:10-14

– And what about that whole “March around Jericho and the walls will fall down” thing?!  Um, okay.  That would have been something to see!  (And God spared a prostitute and her family.)  What?!  But it happened.  Joshua 6:3-17

– And Noah?!  Are you kidding?  There had never been rain and He built a what?  A boat?  Um… yeah… right.  Can you imagine the jokes he endured?  What did the neighbors say?  Certainly he was mocked for his faith.  Genesis 6:9-22

We know.  We know.  It may sound silly to some.  Take this mismatched tea party set and have parties with people.  We are okay if it sounds silly.  We will still follow as God opens doors.

We expect that some people will mock us for believing God is doing this but the thing I didn’t expect was for so many who call themselves Christians to be among the ones laughing.

Maybe if we all focused on the jobs God’s planned for each of us we wouldn’t have time to make fun of each other.

~~>  Got courage?  Aren’t you a little bit curious to know God’s amazing plan for your life?  He has one.  Ask God what He wants you to do.  And KEEP doing this every day.  Follow the tugs on your heart and He will reveal to you what it is that He wants for your life.  <~~

By faith…  Check out Hebrews 11.

Check out the last 2 verses in Hebrews 11.  (I’ve thought about this verse and how it may relate to my life, too. ~~>)  39 These were all commended for their faith, yet none of them received what had been promised, 40 since God had planned something better for us so that only together with us would they be made perfect.

So….. IF I get to the end of my life on Earth and the Alaska homeless teen center does not exist yet, then He can STILL bring it to happen and I will STILL know and have peace that my life meant something as I walked in faith, trusting Him to lead my family.

I will share my faith in God and I will share what He’s doing in us and through us.

By faith, I will follow Him.

As for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.  Joshua 24:15]

Advertisements

“One thing I like about you is…”

Relationships are important.

A marriage relationship is important and tough (probably tougher than any other relationship ever in the whole world, in my opinion) and worth the work.

I’m always looking for simple ways to help relationships be as close and as healthy as they can be.  My husband and I have just started doing a few new things for our marriage and we’re noticing this one could be helpful in possibly any relationship.

Here is one experiment we’ve just started a couple weeks ago (and we both like it.)

Every morning we have decided to say (out loud to each other) something good we have noticed or something good that we like about each other.

“One thing I like about you is _____________.”

We get too busy in life sometimes, ya know?  With work, school, church, kids, housework, bills, finances, volunteering, rough times, health problems, and a billion more things we can forget to nurture important foundations and critical relationships.  It’s not that we mean to; but it’s just that life happens and sometimes we let moments go by that need attentionThis is proving to be a great idea.

One thing it does is it helps us THINK about the positive things during each day (and night) because we know we need to tell each other something we like about each other every day.

(And the negative stuff seems to constantly already be lurking around and threatens to remind us of things we DON’T like about each other… Not sure about you but I’ve had ENOUGH of that.)

Another important result of this experiment is that we’re both getting to hear some positive words in the morning.  (Yes, it must be genuine and yes it can be something from the past or present.  Actually, it could even be something positive we see in the future.)  Getting to hear blessings spoken over you is powerful.

Our kids just told us they’d like to be included in this in the evenings.  Good stuff can be contagious.

We ALL probably hear WAY too much negative stuff about ourselves (even from our own thoughts) and this is damaging to our brains, hearts, self esteem, and probably in a hundred other ways I’m not thinking to mention.

If you have a great marriage, that’s wonderful!  Maybe this can just be icing.  (And maybe you’re already doing this.)  But many of us have a tougher time in marriage and I know this can help lots of people and wanted to share this idea.

I believe absolutely EVERY person could benefit from hearing something good every day that someone notices about him or her.

Here’s one from me to you today:  One thing I like about you (yes, you, the person reading this) is that you’re beginning to realize your value; you’re a very worthwhile person and you matter.

An Open Letter to Divorced Parents at Christmas,

Hi. I’m Chloe and I’m 16. Divorce happened in my life when I was one year old.

This is the first Christmas I’m looking forward to. Any other year I couldn’t care less if tomorrow was Christmas and to be honest, I learned to dread all holidays.

Today I will be a voice for the four year old who doesn’t understand why this Christmas Mommy is not at Daddy’s house to open presents.

Little kids may not be able to speak out yet so I will for them.

I dreaded picking whose house I wanted to be at and dreaded the stress of hurting someone’s feelings that comes with it.

I also dreaded being forced to go to either house when I didn’t want to go.

My feelings matter.

Half a day here and half a day there is not fun. (And thankfully my parents did not make me do this.)

I dreaded presents I wouldn’t like but was told gift cards are tacky to ask for. They are not. Gift cards are okay to ask for.

I dreaded time with people who made me feel unwanted.

Divorce changes a family but not many people think of how the kid was affected.

You don’t “have” me or “get” me for Christmas.

I “get” chicken pox.

I “have” a rash.

I “have” to “go.”

I “got” a broken arm.

“I have my son for the holidays.”

What? You don’t “have” him like you have a rash. You’re blessed to spend time with him this Christmas. And if you’re truly blessed to spend Christmas with him, then treat him like it.

And don’t let him feel the divorce was his fault. Don’t be fake, either. You’re the grown up and if you want your kid to be part of your family, too, then act like it and take the first step.

While I understand some kids with divorced parents act like they don’t care because they’re getting extra presents, some place underneath it all they actually do care and they’re hurting.

Most of the time I couldn’t care less about the presents because hurt and sad memories were attached to them. Because every time I see the game that was at the top of my wish list, I remember the tears of missing my mom, and of brokenness that went along with this present.

A lot of us feel hurt that Christmas isn’t “normal” (whatever normal is.) Or kids are sad that their family is broken. Or they feel like a bother because Christmas family vacations aren’t whole. Or they feel left out of family events. Being a kid is hard enough. Please don’t add stress of your divorce to my life.

The divorce was not my fault. And I should get to hear that. Often.

Contrary to what many kids from divorced parents think, I know it wasn’t my fault. But I still feel stuck in the middle – because I AM.

I’m stuck between Mom and Dad and words like “biological” and “step.”  (I’m SO done with the word “step.”)

I’m stuck between two homes.

I’m stuck between feelings of brokenness and extra love.

I already feel torn and broken that you guys aren’t married anymore so please don’t add to that by forcing me or guilting me into coming over. I didn’t ask for the divorce and I’m not the grown up.

I’m the little kid who is learning that happily ever after isn’t always true.

Just talk to me.

Even as little kids we understand a lot more than you think we do. Talk with me WITHOUT trashing the other parent. It is okay for me to love Mom and Dad and I can even love new parents and new siblings. God doesn’t limit or divide our love. He increases it.

I get it. You’re grieving. I need time to grieve, too. Something died and it’s okay if I’m upset. Tell me it’s okay that I’m upset. I lost something too. I lost Christmas the way I wanted it to be.

Just love me today and spend time with me today. Pray over me. Remind me it’s okay to love Mommy AND Daddy and all the rest of this messy family – because it IS okay and I should get to hear that.

I will be okay and you will be okay.

I will love you BOTH and anyone else I choose to love – and you need to be okay with that.

I am blessed to get to spend time at Christmas with two parents, even if at separate houses, who love me and are nice to (and about) each other.

A Note from Chloe’s Mom.

Sometimes there are things that we never would have thought of before divorce that are now real life for us.

Celebrating on “the actual date” doesn’t matter anymore. You celebrate when you can and with the people who can be there.  And that’s okay.

You learn to accept that life looks different now – and that is okay. Even if other people don’t understand everything, that’s still okay.  We know that every situation is different.

You pray over your children and encourage them to enjoy time at the other parent’s house. Sure. Let them know you miss them but more people to love and care about any child in a healthy way is a good thing. It is okay for kids to enjoy Christmas at either house. I KNOW it’s rough. I spent many hours crying because holidays didn’t feel whole anymore. In fact, I spent many hours crying over just missing regular, everyday life moments.

If you’re a single mom or dad, we know it’s tough. We’ve been there. A lot of presents aren’t necessary. Your time just hanging out and listening to your kids matters more. If the other parent can afford more presents, that’s okay. If not, that’s okay, too.

We will be okay and you will be okay.

We wish you a peaceful and stress free Christmas – however that looks at your house.

Love, Kerri and Chloe

 

[Note:  Unfortunately, there are many times a child should not be in the care of someone.  Please do pay attention if something seems unsettling.  Everyone involved in a divorce can probably benefit from counseling if needed.]

 

Fun ways we give hints for Christmas presents:

(Just something fun we do at our house.)

Let’s say I bought a new sweater as a Christmas present for my daughter.

My daughter, who really wants to know what the present is – and a little bit kinda enjoys NOT knowing what it is – asks for hints as the days go by, trying to guess what is in the box.

Our hints go like this:

You could use it as an umbrella, but I wouldn’t.

You may like to take it for a walk on a leash, but I wouldn’t.

You can paint with it, but I wouldn’t.

You could wear it on your head, but I wouldn’t.

You could eat it, but I wouldn’t.

You can tell time with it, but I wouldn’t.

You could try to read it, but I wouldn’t.

You could heat it in the microwave, but I wouldn’t.

You can wear it on your feet, but I wouldn’t.

You may put icing on it, but I wouldn’t.

Maybe you could use it to start a fire… but I wouldn’t.

(Eventually the questions stop.)

It’s a fun way to give hints without telling someone what the present actually is.

 

 

This IS the time of your life.

We talk about “spending” time.

“How did you spend the time on vacation?” “How much time did it take to finish that project?” “The time you took to repair that issue was time well spent.”

You can spend money
and you can get more.

But not time.

We each have a specific number of minutes, hours, and days.
When our time is up, where have we spent it?

We CANNOT get more time.

What is wasting your time? Did you hear how we say that?
“YOUR” time? Like it’s just a casual thing…
but
Where did your time come from?

“Spend” some of “your” time, the time that God has gifted to you, talking to Him. Just stop a minute now to speak to Him. Your conversation is something He wants very much. He is jealous for YOU.

Rotten Apple Peels

I love how God gives each one of us a different purpose. Like what if we were all created to peel apples?  Then there would be nobody to make the crust or the sugar or the pie pans or the oven in which to bake the pies.

He’s God and has given us all these different jobs so we’re not all slipping on rotten apple peels. That leads me to think of trash guys and composting and planting the apple trees to begin with…. See what I’m saying?

How do you care for the stuff and the jobs God’s placed in your care?  How do you care for the people around you every day?

1 Corinthians 12:12-26

For even as the body is one and yet has many members, and all the members of the body, though they are many, are one body, so also is Christ. For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body, whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free, and we were all made to drink of one Spirit.

For the body is not one member, but many. If the foot says, “Because I am not a hand, I am not a part of the body,” it is not for this reason any the less a part of the body. And if the ear says, “Because I am not an eye, I am not a part of the body,” it is not for this reason any the less a part of the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would the hearing be? If the whole were hearing, where would the sense of smell be? But now God has placed the members, each one of them, in the body, just as He desired. If they were all one member, where would the body be? But now there are many members, but one body. And the eye cannot say to the hand, “I have no need of you”; or again the head to the feet, “I have no need of you.” On the contrary, it is much truer that the members of the body which seem to be weaker are necessary; and those members of the body which we deem less honorable, on these we bestow more abundant honor, and our less presentable members become much more presentable, whereas our more presentable members have no need of it. But God has so composed the body, giving more abundant honor to that member which lacked, so that there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another. And if one member suffers, all the members suffer with it; if one member is honored, all the members rejoice with it.

She bluntly asked, “What’s WRONG with you?!” -by Guest Writer, Chloe Liv

I asked her what she meant.

She told me, “You’re different.  You don’t cuss or anything!  What’s wrong with you?”

I told her that I have Jesus. She said she wanted what I had.

She started to come to church with me and often our conversations would end in tears as she realized just how much God loves her and will love her no matter what. After a while her parents made rules. She could NOT come to church with me. Or go to “my” church. But she could go to someone else’s church and I could go with her… Rule after rule we gave up. I wanted her to be able to know more about Him and she craved it.

Finally I felt completely defeated. I felt like I failed.

And so I asked my mom if there was ANYthing ANY LITTLE thing I could do.

She told me (these are her exact words,) “Take church to her.” Me and mommy talked a little longer and then Jesus Club became an idea that would soon help tons of people.

As a freshman I was placed in a senior class on accident. I was in there a couple weeks and really connected with the teacher. I could see where his faith stands and who he is so I asked if I could “borrow” his class room. I didn’t even tell him why yet and he said “No! That’s like asking to borrow my car!!” A little shocked I was like ummmm okay then. I was about to turn around and leave and he said “Chloe, when would you need the room?” He still didn’t know why but knowing who I am and where my faith stands he opened up his class room to us.

Jesus Club.
-Chloe Liv

~
Sometimes kids tell Chloe they want to go but don’t think they should.

Some say they are atheist. Chloe says, “I don’t care. Just come anyway.”
Some kids tell her, “AWKWARD! I don’t go to church…” She says, “That’s okay. Just come anyway.”
Some kids say, “I’ve never prayed before.” She says, “Awesome. So let’s pray together.”

~
The best Christmas present EVER came from this teacher to Chloe.

Her teacher stopped her and said something like, “Chloe, I am so proud of you for starting Jesus Club. You are changing lives and I can see it. You’re planting seeds and I know it’s just going to keep on going even after you move to Alaska.”

THIS child. This VERY, VERY, VERY SHY child. This child would CRY if she had to ask for a straw at a restaurant. We had to MAKE her ask for a straw. She would beg us not to make her talk. LOOK at THIS child being used by God for His work AND loving it!

THE best Christmas present EVER is to know your child’s heart belongs to God. And on top of that leading other kids to Christ. No piece of plastic or electronics or even a house for Christmas is better than this gift.

God is very much at work. Open your eyes and watch His miracles that happen every day.

I didn’t know I was trapped.

As he drove by he yelled out his car window to me, “How’s the stopping smoking going?”

I yelled excitedly, “I’m FREE!”

Wait.  That was a weird answer.  Free?  I didn’t know I was trapped.

When we started talking about the fact that we were struggling with smoking and my husband wanted to stop so he wanted me to stop with him, people (especially at church) were uncomfortable that we asked for prayers about it. It’s just not the sort of thing church folks talk about (unfortuntately.)

I didn’t know if I COULD stop. I didn’t even know if I WANTED to stop.

After we asked for prayers a guy told me his sister-in-law had a book she swears by.

She drove to meet me within the same hour after I finally had courage to call her and she brought it to me. I was so humbled and touched. I was sobbing uncontrollably and asked her WHY she would stop her day just for me and bring that book to me. She said because she knew how important this was.

She stood there telling me she knew she would never smoke again.

I wanted to be THERE.

How could she possibly know that she’d never smoke again?

If you smoke, you keep smoking AS you read the book.

Crazy, right?  I read 1/2 of the book and have stopped smoking forever.

THAT is freedom and I am SO glad I said I was having trouble.

That present from a stranger is and maybe will always be the very best present anyone ever gave me.  It was a simple thing, really.  But she knew the deep hell that smoking was.  She spoke love to me that day because she stopped what she was doing which showed me I was valuable in some way and gave me the key I desperately needed even though I wasn’t sure if I believed in it yet.

I’m convinced that this is what God means when He says we are to be His hands and feet.  She was an angel sent to me that day.  This I know for sure.

This book helps people who DON’T smoke understand more about WHY people smoke.  It also helps people who do NOT smoke be able to talk with people who DO smoke in a way we may listen better.

It’s NOT fun to talk about smoking especially to a non-smoker because they just don’t get it.  You know the looks people give that they are obviously “better than you are.”  Yeah, non-smoker dudes, THAT’S NOT gonna help.  So here’s the best tool I’ve found for just this kinda conversation. [The Easy Way to Stop Smoking by Allen Carr.]

Shoving pictures of dead lungs in our faces just doesn’t do anything.

You don’t get it.

It’s a TRAP!

A trap VERY cleverly designed with TONS of awful media, movies, ignorance, and tobacco companies supporting the chains and locks.

Showing a squirrel who is stuck in a trap a picture of a dead squirrel won’t help it get free.

My husband was able to stop with God and willpower.  That’s awesome!

Any way out is awesome.

I read a book.

HOW many people read a book and stop smoking?!  They do not advertise this book anywhere but word of mouth.  I am living testimony that it works.  It was the key to freedom for me. That was over 1 1/2 years ago now.  The funny thing is the book title. It’s easy to remember.

The book is called The EASY Way to Stop Smoking by Allen Carr. This is the BEST book for stopping smoking and getting free from the stupid trap that smoking is.  Forever!

This author went from smoking 100 cigarettes a day to ZERO and then wrote this book.  He figured out the answers.  PRAISE GOD!!

It’s sad when some people react to us like, “DUDE! Don’t they ‘know better’ than to say that kinda stuff?!” Our reaction is, “DUDE, don’t you know YOU NEED to talk about that kinda stuff?! You NOT talking about it COULD be stopping someone God has put in your path who needs healing, but because you are afraid to speak, you are not helping them.”