Thursday, April 23, 2015

Leaving

Most of you know that my faith is very important to me. And that I've long been an involved member of my church. I've recently shared a bit - that I've had some struggles in my church and why those problems haven't caused me to leave.

For the sake of authenticity and honesty - We have now left our church.

The specific details of *why* we were struggling are not what is important. Every individual and every family has different reasons for leaving a church. It's a personal thing.

Here's what does matter.

This was not a decision that we made quickly or took lightly. We've spent weeks and months in prayer. I have sought spiritual guidance. I spoke with my pastor, with a trusted mentor.

But here's the amazing thing... God was in control of all of it.  Yes, there was hurt and discomfort and confusion and concerns. But things have happened that have shown me that all of it is in His hands.

One of the main things that happened was I joined an online Bible study through Proverbs31. The study is on the book "What Happens When Women Walk In Faith" by Lysa TerKeurst. I didn't sign up for the study because I thought it would have something to do with our church situation. I signed up for it because I enjoy Bible study, I was taking a break from my church and I wanted a study to keep myself plugged in. I'd never done an online study but I do like Lysa TerKeurst and the idea of a study focused on "Trusting God Takes You To Amazing Places" sounded good to me!

All I knew when I ordered the book and signed up for the study was that it would be geared toward finding your dreams in God's plan and that was about it.

Imagine my surprise when I get the book and start reading it and the very first section is titled...


Woah.

Time to pay attention.

Now, in the weeks leading up to this study, I'd been getting things from God. I'd been asking questions and listening and while I wasn't clearly being told it was time to leave our church of 11 years... God was showing me that things were being put in place.

And then this study happened. And in the first week, it blew my mind and opened things up and showed me something that I knew was coming but was still like being hit smack in my heart and soul.

Some of the things in these early chapters that spoke to me first had to convince me that the thing I had to leave behind was my church. This is certainly not what the book says to do! What you need to leave is completely dependent on where you are right now and what is holding you back from living more fully in Christ.

On page 24, Lysa writes "Leaving is usually an act of obedience and not a desire of the heart."

Then Lysa wrote about people in the Bible who were called to leave in order to best serve God. Like Abraham and the Disciples. Leave your homeland. Leave your family. Leave what you know and love. Leave where you are comfortable.

Another thing Lysa wrote: "I don't need to know where I am going. I need to know who I am following."

For the past few years, my faith journey has been focused on doing what God calls me to do. Without hesitation or question. I won't say I'm always good at it. But I had become pretty comfortable at listening and obeying. Ask to pray for people? Done. Give that guy the $5 in my purse? Done. Give a large amount of money to someone specific? Sure thing. Donate to this organization? You got it. Go feed and care for some homeless people? No problem. Call that friend or reach out to this person? Easy.

Easy. He'd stretched me to "easy." It wasn't easy when I started to listen and obey. I still questioned and pushed back and tried to make things be about my schedule or my time. But I've become more trusting, more open. Even when it means doing the right thing in circumstances that will lead to hard consequences. But sometimes that's just part of it - His plan and His purpose.

What hit me over the head was the realization that I was limiting my faith.

And I had to go through these difficulties in order to figure out that I was following my church more than I was following my God. And if God had just said - "leave your church," I really don't think I would have heard Him. My faith was in my church, my faith was in what I was hearing and experiencing and was fully placed in where it had become "easy."

But He needed it to be hard in order to push me from the nest.

(This is long but even the first 5-10 minutes get the idea across)


And I came to a hard realization.

My faith was not where I thought it was. My faith was not as strong as that of Abraham or the Disciples. My faith needed to go to a deeper step and God needed me to step out in faith - needed me to not just be obedient but to also have "blind faith" and trust simply in Him. To know who I was following, even if I didn't know where I was going. Which reminded me of a conversation with a friend and mentor who told me that sometimes we don't hear God because He needs us to take action and then He can correct us if we've gone the wrong way. That was the first step in understanding this blind faith that God was asking of me.

So yes - it's been a hard many months. A hard many weeks. And a very hard decision to come to.

But Jeff and I both know that by trusting God and leaving, we are ready to begin seeking His purpose for our lives. We're seeing that He has intention for us as a family unit and not just each of us as individuals. Now that we've figured out that all of this is in His plan, things are starting to flow and open up and while I still have a lot of sadness about leaving my church home... I'm honestly getting excited about where He will lead us.

Faith is a journey. It isn't a final destination. It isn't a decision you just make and it's done. It's continual change and growth and deepening.

Here's what I know I can say right now. Right now, we're focused on finding our next church. Jeff and I are focused on staying connected with people that we have chosen to leave (people that we see on Facebook and at church - some of those relationships are now going to grow!). I'm continuing to work through this Bible study (if you opt to do an online Bible study in the future, I highly recommend signing up to be in a Facebook small group - that's been awesome so far!). God is giving me important tools and reminders in this study.

Are you in a period of being unsettled? Are you seeking something? Are you truly relying on God to lead you and answer you? Are you taking time to listen?


sig jan 2014 photo owlsig.jpg

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Things I Want To Try

I won't call it a "bucket list." Because these aren't "before I die" goals. These are more just... things I've seen others do and would like to have the drive to do them myself.



If you aren't a fan of the Queen of Free, you should be. Aside from their incredible story of getting out of $127K of debt, she has so many awesome ideas on how to save money and be money wise. best of all, I happen to know Cherie personally and she is the Real Deal. She is authentic, a woman of grace, and so incredibly loving and compassionate.

She's done things in her quest to conquer debt and be money-wise that I really admire but have never found the inner strength to do myself. The first is a No Restaurant Challenge. She and her husband are both able to go for periods of time where they don't eat out. At all. I eat lunch out, sometimes grab breakfast on my way to work, and we often grab a quick dinner in the midst of our busy schedules. I even once tried to just do no lunches out for 1 work week and failed after... 2 days.

I want to set a goal and not eat in a restaurant for that time period.


The next is that she does these awesome meal plans - like this one where you can shop at Aldi and cook 7 meals for 4 people for under $50. That's pretty amazing, if you ask me. Now, the big struggle on this one is that our grocery shopping each week really focuses on what the kids take in their lunch boxes and what food and snacks we can keep around the house. We don't do big sit down dinners. I get home from work and we are out the door for tae kwon do - that's 3 nights each week. No big meals before doing 45-50 minutes of TKD!

I want to meal plan and challenge myself to not spend more than a certain goal on groceries for that week.


A friend of mine posted a link to a blog written by a woman who got rid of her wardrobe. At first, I was intrigued. I've joked about doing that - because I'm truly overwhelmed by how much clothing I have. I clean it out regularly but don't have a good handle on what I really need vs just always seeming to accumulate more. I didn't like this particular blogger's approach because part of her drive was based on not liking how she looked and comparing herself to other moms - really not my cup of tea.

I want to get rid of most of my clothes. I want to only keep things I wear for work and sentimental things (like race t-shirts or vacation souvenirs - if I actually wear them).


My friend Lori (find her at Chaos and Craziness) has an incredible back yard. She has garden areas where she is growing food. She has a fantastic waterfall on a sloping part of the space, she has a welcoming deck and gazebo. The space is well maintained and is very welcoming and comfortable. If I lived near her, I think I'd hang out on her deck most evenings - even if she wasn't home to join me!  To make that happen at our house, I have to clear out the 2 decks, pick up a lot of trash and junk from the yard, clean out weeds, power wash the decks, re-stain/paint the decks, get reasonable furniture that we can easily care for, and I'll be all set.

I want a deck space where I can look out on a yard that I find peaceful, fun, family oriented.


And one final thing - I want to clean out my kitchen. We have so much stuff in the kitchen that never gets used. We have sandwich makers and indoor grills and bits and pieces of rotiserries and other gadgets and appliances and it's time to clear out what isn't being used, throw away the junk, and make better use of the space.

I want a kitchen that is simple and leaves me happy to be in.


Where do I start? I can already feel that it is overwhelming to look at those things and try to think about doing them all at once.

I think I'm going to set my first goal -

I am going to clear out my wardrobe. 


My plan for this Saturday is to gather, sort, and get rid of a lot of my clothing and the kids' clothing. I have 2 dressers that aren't really being utilized and a closet that is currently blocked by hampers full of clothing (clean).

Check back on Monday to see if I succeeded! Hold me accountable, friends!


sig jan 2014 photo owlsig.jpg

Monday, April 20, 2015

Dig IN is Coming! #CelebrateIndiana

One of the BEST events in Indy each year is Dig IN, A Taste of Indiana. This is an outdoor festival where local wineries, breweries and restaurants come together and showcase the best in Indiana made food and drink.  Mark your calendars now!

Indiana’s premier farm-to-fork food festival returns Aug. 30

INDIANAPOLIS – High-quality, locally produced products are the hallmark of Indiana’s favorite food festival, Dig IN, a Taste of Indiana 2015.

Indiana chefs, brewers, vintners and food artisans will showcase a bevy of prepared dishes and beverages. The single-price admission includes all the samples and live performances by Indiana-based musical groups.

A list of chefs, producers, wineries and breweries, as well as other event information will eventually be posted at www.digindiana.org.

WHAT:   Dig IN, a Taste of Indiana 2015

WHEN:  Aug 30, noon to 5 p.m.

WHERE:  White River State Park, 801 W. Washington St., Indianapolis

TIX:    Tickets available at www.digindiana.org beginning in July and at the gate

$35 for General Admission ($45 after Aug. 23)
$60 for Early Admission at 11 a.m.
$120 for the Ultimate VIP Experience, including:
•       Parking in nearby underground garage
•       Climate-controlled luxury restrooms
•       Air-cooled tent
•       Rare and reserve beers and wines available exclusive for VIPs
•       Bistro table seating

INFO:   www.digindiana.org

sig jan 2014 photo owlsig.jpg

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

I Will #CelebrateIndiana because #WeAreIndiana

I clearly disagree with the RFRA legislation.

Here's the important thing that people need to hear - a LOT of people and businesses and organizations and smaller governments disagree with it as well.

Do just a little bit of digging and you will find colleges making statements, city and town governments making statements, businesses making statements.  Indiana is a state that is open and welcoming.

We aren't perfect - but no state is perfect. You will find close mindedness in any part of the country.

But Hoosiers are hard working people. Our state, like all the others, is filled with history and beauty and uniqueness.

I understand the initial inclination to "boycott Indiana."  I really do. And in some ways, I applaud it. Because it has obviously captured the attention, on some level, of our state government. Because a national response does mean an impact on dollars - and economics is what truly speaks the loudest.

Instead of boycotting this entire state and all of the good that it does offer, I'd encourage people to come and visit. And make a point to stay in hotels and eat in restaurants and shop in stores that have stood up against RFRA.  Do what so many Hoosiers are already doing - letting our money speak for us.

Don't damage the people and companies that didn't have anything to do with this legislation.  In fact, support the towns and cities and businesses and events that are speaking against this legislation, that are demanding change, that are showing up for rallies and sending letters and voicing opinions and issuing statements. Because when you look at the long list of people inside Indiana who are voicing their anger, their disapproval... Indiana becomes a much more acceptable and open place to visit and support.

In a couple of weeks, I will be attending an annual event on Indiana Tourism. I love this event. I get to meet people who work for the tourism division of their city or town or county. People who are passionate about introducing people to their part of Indiana.  There are so many ways that I enjoy celebrating Indiana - everything from Vintage Indiana to the Indiana Artisan Marketplace to DigIN to the Indiana State Fair.  Here in Indiana, we celebrate wine and beer and food. We celebrate the arts. We celebrate people and diversity - we actually do!

Here are some things I am looking forward to in the coming months - places to go, events to attend.

Columbus


I also want to plan a family weekend to Columbus, IN.  I want to make (and buy and eat) marshmallows from one of my all time favorite sweet spots - 240Sweet.  I want to go to The Commons and KidsCommons and Zaharakes.  Columbus has some fantastic walking routes, too, which seem like a great way to see parts of the city and surrounding areas.

Indiana Dunes


Indiana has a beach!  No - really!  This would be a long weekend family trip.  Time at Indiana Dunes, a visit to Kosciusko County and Marshall County.  I want a day on the beach.  I want to hike and explore the dunes.  I want to visit the statues in Kosciusko and maybe catch a show at the Wagon Wheel Theatre, and I want to see a few barn quilts in Marshall County.

Richmond


This would be a weekend with Christy.  A couple of days filled with the Wine & Ale Trail, the Chocolate Trail, the Tiffany Window Trail, and a stop at Warm Glow Candles.... sounds perfect for us!

Indy Pride


It seems that I am always out of town when Pride happens in Indianapolis. This year, in light of recent current events, I want to make it a priority to attend parts of Pride.  While the dates may be coinciding with possible vacation time again... I think I can make at least some of it work.  June 6 is the Rainbow 5K Run/Walk. June 13 is the Pride Parade. And lots goes on the entire week!

Indiana State Fair


My love for the State Fair is well known. So you can certainly expect that I will be getting more and more excited as we get closer and closer to Aug 7. This year's theme is Year of the Farmer. Agriculture is a big part of Indiana - both historically and currently. 

Indiana has a lot to offer. Please don't judge this state and the people in it by the bullheaded good ole boys currently in office in our state government. These people did not listen to the people who voted them in to office! Don't punish an entire state of good people for their poor actions - actions that we are fighting. I love my state. I love my city. I love the people of this state.


sig jan 2014 photo owlsig.jpg

Sunday, March 29, 2015

I'm Pretty Disgusted

OK - this is one post that may cost me some fans or followers or maybe even friends. But that's ok.

I've been somewhat vocal about my opinions on Indiana's Religious Freedom crap.  But I've also been sitting back and reading and taking in opinions on both sides. Reading the actual bill. Reading what supporters of the bill have to say about it. Stuff like that.

A lot of people are very angry over this new legislation. Lots of big names across the country have called for a boycott against Indiana - cities have prohibited government travel here, conventions are considering cancelling, sporting events are looking elsewhere.

The supporters of the bill are angry that people are "over reacting" to the bill. They say that other states have almost identical bills. They say that this just prevents government over reaching. They say this has nothing at all to do with discrimination.

I call bullshit.

I'm just going to point out a couple of reasons why this is total BS.

1. Other states have primarily passed these bills 15-20 years ago - not in current years as a response to the legalization of gay marriage.  And other states have legislation in place to protect the LGBT population from discrimination - making them a protected class.

2. One of the big supporters and lobbyists of this bill is Advance America. This group has a CLEAR homophobic slant - it's a group that was founded in 1980 by Eric Miller.  And you can find posts from 2 months ago about the Religious Freedom bill and why it's "important."

"SB 568 will help protect religious freedom in Indiana by providing protection forindividuals with sincerely held religious beliefs, along with Christian businesses andchurches.
SB 568 will help protect individuals, Christian businesses and churches from thosesupporting homosexual marriages and those supporting government recognition and approval of gender identity (male cross-dressers).
Here are just 3 examples:
  • Christian bakers, florists and photographers should not be punished for refusing to participate in a homosexual marriage!
  • Christian business should not be punished for refusing to allow a man to use the women’s restroom!
  • church should not be punished because they refuse to let the church be used for a homosexual wedding!"
And it is clear that Advance America was an important part of this legislation as Eric Miller was one of the invited people to attend the private signing of the bill.

3. The context, as evidenced by the Advance America postings, makes it clear that the legislation is created to support the specific views of a specfic brand of Christianity. It does not represent all faiths. And that is pretty damn dangerous.  I get that it isn't written in that way specifically. But again - read the spewings of Advance America.

4. Final straw was interview Pence did on ABC News this morning.  When directly asked if he opposes discrimination against gays and lesbians - and he was directly asked TWICE - he hesitated and then avoided a direct answer of the question.

Maybe discrimination isn't written into the bill. And maybe anyone who tries to use this legislation to protect themselves will fail.

That isn't really the point. The bill itself isn't why people are so angry.  The legislation is, of course, carefully written so that the supporters and authors can raise their hands and claim innocence and good intention.  But the pretext and context is what is causing the issues.

We're angry because this bill was pushed through as a response to the passing of the legalization of gay marriage.

We're angry because the people fighting to support this legislation are clearly homophobic and discriminatory.

We're angry because the picture of Indiana has now been painting with a hugely bigoted and hateful paintbrush because of the clear context of this situation.

Anyone who wants to defend this legislation - go right ahead. But please own it. Please be honest and say that you want a way for businesses and churches to be "protected" from the evils of homosexuality. At least with Advance America, I can clearly see that they are not ever going to be a group that I would support or give any credence to because they are so far away from the values that I hold dear.

Values, by the way, that are completely based in my faith. Because I believe strongly in that most important commandment that Christ gave us.  Love God, love others.

And I won't be arguing about this topic. If you want to unfriend me or unfollow me - that's probably better, honestly. The divisive nature of this legislation is bringing about ugly sides to people - sides that I don't need to see. If you want to be anti-gay, go right ahead. It is your right, after all. Just like people have a right to be racist. But just because you have the right to be that way doesn't mean that it is actually right to be that way.

Meanwhile, I'm just going to be over here doing my best to love all of you - even the haters and close minded people.  I'll be praying for all of you - especially those who seek to make others "less than" in any way, those who feel injustice is allowed. I'm sure there will be those who feel like they need to pray for me - that I might see the error of my ways, that I might be more open to seeing God's will in all of this. Y'know, that God's will thing about loving others.  Maybe we have different definitions of love - but that's a different post for a different day.



sig jan 2014 photo owlsig.jpg

Friday, March 27, 2015

2015 Indiana Artisan Marketplace

I am very excited for this weekend! One of my favorite events is here! I love discovering and enjoying and supporting Indiana businesses.

Indiana Artisan Marketplace

This will also be an interesting event given the current news in Indiana and all of the backlash happening in the state and the nation regarding the "religious freedom" legislation that was signed this week.

My hope is that the artisans who are "Open for Service" will have their status displayed because I am certainly one who wants to support the businesses who are committed to not practicing discrimination based on ignorance and hate veiled behind religion.

I am very excited to see what the following artisans will be offering (and I'm excited about the artisans I've yet to meet, of course)!

Frittle Candy
Kristy Jo Beber Stoneware
Woven Dimensions
Captain Jim's Hot Sauces
240Sweet
Sage's Simple Syrups
Winzerwald Winery
Best Boy & Co.
Chocolate for the Spirit

That's just a small sampling out of the couple hundred artisans that I am excited to visit. I always discover new artisans at this event and I love to try new things and stock up on the products I don't find in my everyday shopping.

sig jan 2014 photo owlsig.jpg

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Her Heart

So much of parenthood is filled with challenge. It's easy to get caught up and bogged down by the weight of being a parent. You hear people talk about the joys but there are days that the joys feel spread so thin that you wonder if it's all been worth it.

Teagan is about to turn 10 years old.

Be still my heart.

She is in 4th grade. And in the past few months, her heart has been showing more and more. And it makes me fall in love with her all over again each time she shares it with me.

4th grade, like 3rd grade, is filled with a good share of girl drama. Who sits with what group at lunch, who played with what kid at recess, who said this to that boy, and so on. I recall one of Teagan's little friends explaing to me that "Mary is trying to steal Susie's best friend because Susie is trying to steal Betsy's best friend and Betsy is trying to steal Ann's best friend."  As a wise friend of mine pointed out - in a few years, that sentence will be all about boys instead of best friends.

Be still my heart.

This year, Teagan has been trying to step outside of the drama. This is a challenge because she is not only naturally attracted to drama, but she also naturally attracts it and has a gift for stirring it up when she chooses to do so. And sometimes without even intending to do so.

This year, Teagan has been asking me a lot of questions about drama. About why kids can't all just be kind. About why it causes so many problems if you sit with a different group at lunch.

This year, Teagan is seeing behavior in other kids and recognizing things she doesn't like, she thinks is in appropriate, she knows she doesn't want to be part of.

Be still my heart.

My first glimpse into the compassionate heart of my little girl was early on in the school year. As 4th graders, the kids have opportunities for leadership in the school (4th grade is the highest grade). Teagan was disappointed to not be voted in to Student Council and to not be chosen for the Spelling Bowl team. Both of those things turned out to be a blessing. By not doing those other things, she could be selected to work once a week with the "life skills" students (kids with various levels of physical abilities that keep them from a mainstream classroom). This is where her heart is. She has always had compassion for these kids and sought ways to be friendly and connect with them in the lunchroom or hallway. She wrote a letter to her teacher, explaining why she wanted to be selected for this special job.

Be still my heart.

More recently, Teagan's heart has been showing in regards to a boy in her class who is here for the school year because his dad is doing research at a local hospital. The family is from Seoul, Korea. Teagan's heart was sensitive toward him for a while but it broke open in a big way when she saw classmates laughing at him because he didn't understand something they had said to him. Not only has she made the ongoing, daily effort to truly be a friend to him, she has also rallied other kids to be friends with him and be kind to him. Her efforts haven't gone unnoticed as I received a lovely email from his mother, expressing that her son is happier because of her friendship.

Be still my heart.

Last night, Teagan was wondering why a friend of hers, who goes to church and says she loves Jesus, would then also express being "creeped out" by the Life Skills kids.  Teagan's heart tells her to love them all, to be kind to them all. She sees differences but doesn't find them to be weird - her heart is leading her to see the beauty in the differences that God created. Whether the difference is the color of your skin, the language that you speak, or the way your body or brain works, my daughter has a heart that wants to love you.

Like all of us, her heart gets clouded. She is a little human, afterall. Jealousy and selfishness can certainly block that heart of hers.

But in these past few months, I've been seeing glimpses of the purity of her heart. I've seen proof that the things we try to teach her, the values we try to live in front of her - those things are settling in her heart and guiding her.

Our job is far from over. And we are going to have many more hurdles and hiccups as the journey continues. But for today, I'm holding on to faith. Faith that she is learning to love, to serve, to be kind. Faith that something we are doing as parents is right. There will be a lot of big challenges ahead of us - I don't doubt it. But I want to always remember her heart. To always know that she is capable of loving others in big ways.

On the days when I feel like I'm failing, when my temper flares and my heart races, when I am flooded with love for my children...

Be still my heart.

I pray that reminders of the beauty of her heart will help me to see clearly what love really is and parenthood is really all about.


sig jan 2014 photo owlsig.jpg