Wednesday, June 29

On Moving and Leaping

It's taken me two whole months to actually sit down and write about our family's move 4,000 miles from home here in Alaska. Partly because I've been terribly busy organizing our move, getting our home ready, selling things off, packing, and then just living life as a wife, mom, and friend, and partly because I haven't known what to say or how to explain it.

But it's actually really simple if you get right down to it. 

God told us we needed to move to North Carolina. 
I imagine I'll go into that more later on. It's all so beautifully personal and complex though.

We prayed about it for three whole years, eventually knowing it would happen. 
Then we said yes in May once we had confirmation as a couple the timing was right. 

We then listed our house two weeks later, after prepping all winter just in case we should be selling it come summertime.

One day later it sold. 

One. Day. 

That was six weeks ago.

It's been the fastest six weeks of our lives. 

We're shocked. Sad. Excited. Thrilled to be walking into the unknown knowing the Lord is our stay. And a bazillion other things. This move conjures up so many emotions. 

For three years I've been asking God if He is really wanting us to leave. 

Why would we leave? I don't want to leave. It'd be nuts to leave our parents, our church, these amazing friends, this amazing place. Plus this: THERE ARE 10 OF US TO MOVE. 

But slowly, He changed our hearts to match His on the matter. And now we can't imagine not leaving even though we have no idea what we're stepping into. 

Jeremy was born and raised here, and has never lived anywhere else in his 40 years. 
I moved to Alaska as a kid from Washington state, and have lived here 30 years. 
This is all our kids have ever known. 

This is HOME. 

But as the years have gone by, we've loosened our grip on our earthly home, as hard as that is. And we've begun to embrace our future home, the unshakeable kingdom of our Lord and King, Jesus. 

This verse has impacted us deeply. In fact, this is the very verse that solidified it for both Jeremy and I, completely separate of each other. 

The cities and places we live are temporary. But what isn't fading away is God's kingdom. Our family is being called away from our current place because God has a mission for us, but we don't yet know what that will look like, or what exactly He'll have us doing. 

As Jeremy said right as we made our final decision, "I'm not willing to sit back, comfortable right here, if God has a plan for us there to help lead others into His kingdom." 

People get it when you say, "Hey, guess what? We've moving to Africa as missionaries!" 

No one balks. No one questions. Well, of course they do, but only on the internet, right? Did I just say that? 

We know what this means, and we're familiar with how God calls in this way.

We get squirmy when a calling is more ambiguous.  

We feel a bit (a lot) like Abraham gathering all his people up, and blindly going where God was leading him, not knowing what the future holds. 

We do know one thing amidst the massive amount of unknowns right now, and that is that we serve a trustworthy Savior who will continue to lead and guide and hold us as we walk toward Him all the way to North Carolina and her hot, sticky summers. 

And so we close this twelve year-long chapter in this glorious spot in this beloved home in just two weeks. 

We cry. We shake our heads in disbelief. We rejoice. We pray. And then we go.

Tuesday, June 14

Meet My Brain {9 Notebooks That Save My Life}

When other women ask how I "do it all" (whatever that means), I usually shrug my shoulders and talk about what a good team Jeremy and I are. Which is completely true. Never once have I stopped to consider there are additional ways I intentionally calm the crazy in my life.

Enter my notebooks.

I'll put myself out there and say that I feel all warm and fuzzy about my notebook collection. I usually take one with me anytime I leave the house. I'm a pen and paper sort of girl, and only use my phone to keep track of shopping lists. I even use a tried and true wall calendar to keep track of the family schedule.

I've tried apps like Evernote to keep it all together, but I just wasn't jiving with it.

I love writing things down.

If keeping track of life in notebooks helps me, someone who believes the brain cells in charge of memory slipped secretly out when I gave birth five times over, then maybe they'll help you too.

You certainly don't have to have as many notebooks as I have, (or any!) but maybe this post will give you an idea or two and help you gain some extra brain space of your own.

1.  Bible Study - This notebook holds whatever notes from whatever book of the Bible I'm currently studying. Right now I'm studying Numbers with the gang over on the First 5 app. (It's free! Go snag it. I love waking up with the First 5 crew.) It also holds the things I'm learning from certain passages or books of Scripture that I'll eventually use to form speaking notes when I have a speaking engagement.

2.  Personal Journal - In this notebook, I ask myself questions and answer them. For instance, "What's making me crazy right now?" or "What am I worried about?" and other honest inquiries. Leanna Tankersley speaks about having this sort of journal in her book Brazen, which was a great read for me in early 2016. We were thankful to be able to chat with her as a guest on The Masterpiece Mom podcast a few months back to discuss her new book. Have a listen right here. 

3.  Project or Ministry Notebook - This one helps me keep track of all things regarding the ministry of The Masterpiece Mom. Blog post ideas, meeting notes, podcast notes, and brainstorms are all kept here.

4.  Bullet Journal - Meet my brain: the bullet journal. It's not a specific type of journal, rather it's a journaling method. Learn about it at -- You're welcome! I keep track of my daily and monthly to-do's here, along with other sorts of lists like party invites, book lists, packing lists, etc.

5.  Sermon Notes - I retain more when I'm taking notes during a sermon. The end.

6.  Moving Notebook - More specifically, I call this my North Carolina book. But if there's anything that requires tons of attention and numerous details, consider dedicating an entire notebook to it. Eek. There I go again, mentioning that we're moving without talking about it. I promise, that's coming soon.

7.  Healthy Living - This one is dedicated to keeping track of healthy eating habits and exercise. It helps me stay accountable to myself and my goals, even though I often forget to write in it. As an almost 40 year-old woman, the importance of staying active and eating well for my health is at the forefront of my mind. If I don't feel well, it's usually because I'm not taking care of myself.

8.  Writing Ideas and Quotes - This little notebook holds all the writing ideas that pass through my mind when I'm going about my day. No matter how much I convince myself I'll remember them, I just can't. I also collect quotes I may want to use in my future writing as well.

9.  Prayer - Usually, I post prayer requests on my bedroom wall using white post-its and pretty washi tape, but since we've been in home-selling mode around here the last couple of months, I've had to clear the wall. So I turned to a prayer notebook. Again, I just can't remember all that I'd like to be lifting to the Lord in prayer. This helps me be more intentional.

How do you keep track of your life? 
Thursday, June 2

We Need You and Want You {Mentor Us, Please}

About a year and a half ago I stood in my bathroom and cried hot tears I didn't know were lying dormant inside of me. I was grieving. 

I realized my life had a gaping hole in it and I'd only just figured out what it was. 

I was mentor-less. 

Thirteen years ago, I moved back to the community I grew up in with my husband of three years, and two teeny little boys. I'd had mentors before. Not formal ones, really, but friendships with women a stage or two ahead of me. I treasured them, but after moving, these friendships slipped into the background without the everyday closeness we'd once shared. 

So here I was in the town of my youth, attending the church of my youth after being away eight years, starting over with my sister (who had also recently moved back) as my only friend. 

I made friends my own age quickly, and began to get involved in ministry to moms through Mothers of Preschoolers mostly because I needed it so badly myself. 

After years of involvement there, and holding leadership roles among women my own age, still I remained mentor-less. 

When I figured out what I'd been missing that day in my bathroom, I chalked it up to two things: 

1) I wasn't placing myself in circles with women in my church or community who were older and wiser than myself. How were they supposed to know I had a need if they didn't know me?

2) A large portion of the women older and wiser than myself might be assuming my generation of women and mothers don't need them or want them in our lives, therefore are afraid to reach out for fear of rejection.

When I was six months pregnant with my fourth child, I sat on a stage in Kansas City, Missouri on a panel in front of a large room of female ministry leaders who were a generation or so ahead of me pleading with them to mentor us. 

I watched their eyes widen with tears in the corners and heads shake in disbelief as I told them we needed them. We wanted them. We ached for their presence in our lives. 

And that we were sorry, we just don't know how to communicate it. Because sometimes we don't know what we're missing. 

The internet has distracted us. We think Google is a fine replacement for another woman who's been there. 

We think social media and online Facebook groups are suitable trade-outs for sitting together on a blanket at a park catching up while our kids play and hers are getting married and having babies of their own. 

We're prideful. We think we shouldn't need help. We should be able to do this on our own. 

We think she won't understand our lives. Our complicated, messy lives. But we don't always accept that she has her own messy and complicated, and gets us more than we know. 

I haven't written about it publicly here in this space, and will soon, but we're moving all the way across the continent later this summer, and I've just now started a relationship here at my church, here in this town, that I believe would have and could have turned into this sort of mentoring relationship. 

All it took was me reaching out and saying HELP. I need you. Can we talk? It's been a precious thing. 

I believe God has placed and will place mentors ahead of me in our new town, in our new life. But it's going to take some work on my part too. I'll need to reach out and make myself vulnerable. And do you know what? I'm so excited.  

There's much more to say on the topic, more of which I hope to talk further on. I'm just a mom trying to tap this out before my kids come barrelling up the stairs for breakfast. The struggle is very real. 

Before we step away and move on with our day, how about we take inventory of how we're truly doing in this regard?

How are we doing at reaching out to women ahead of us and behind us? 
How are we at accepting help and vulnerable friendship?
How are we at giving help and being a safe place? 

Have you been missing these kinds of relationships too?