You’ve Been Interrupted…Now What??

“It has become more vital to protect our own station than advocate for a world that needs Jesus, who came to us, wrapped in our skin, speaking our language.  If we were not too beneath Christ, who died for us while we were still sinners, then how dare we take a superior position over any other human being?  How lovely a faith community that goes forth as loving sisters and brothers rather than angry defenders and separatists.”  (Jen Hatmaker)

So one of the first questions I received after yesterday’s post was…now what?  HOW do we respond to this interruption? This passion?  This unsettling? One of the first things we got involved in a couple years ago was an amazing organization in Conroe called Compassion United.  It was formed after the Redus family set out one morning with a cooler full of breakfast tacos to meet the homeless in Conroe.  They had no idea what they were doing, except that God had asked them to do it.  8 years later they have expanded into a large ministry that helps feed the hungry, teach life skills to those in their men’s shelter, help pregnant moms in crisis, and more.

Our Sunday school class started volunteering to prepare and serve dinner and/or breakfast every month or two at one of their locations.  I was so overwhelmed and intimidated the first time we went.  I had recently completed a study by Kelly Minter where she challenged us to actually know the needy so I intentionally introduced myself to those that I could.  That day I met Diane.  Her feet hurt, life was hard, and she just needed a good meal.

Every Tuesday in the summer our church helped prepare and serve breakfast to families in need in Willis, TX.  My eyes were opened to the fact that many needy families struggle more in the summer to provide food to their children.  Many of them live on one meal a day, if not less.  During the school year they receive the free reduced breakfast and lunches so summer becomes a huge expense on these families.  This was an activity my kids could attend too.  We only got to go 2 times this summer but I love opening my kids eyes to serving others. breakfast IMG_20140715_095405942We have also recently become involved with a kinship family through the Angel Reach organization.  Angel Reach provides transitional services for kids aging out of the foster care system. They also help support kinship families – those that have taken in/adopted a family member’s child.  Unfortunately these caregivers do not receive state funding, like in other adoptions.  So depending on their situation, they may struggle with supporting the extra kids.  Angel Reach provides them with food, clothing, home repair assistance, support, among many other things. keans

Meet Brenda and Loretta.  Without hesitation, Brenda took in her husband’s 3 grandchildren when their mother lost custody.  Her life was majorly interrupted 4 years ago.

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Meet sweet sweet Norma.  Don’t you want to take her home with you???

Loretta and Norma also have a brother but he runs too fast to be in pictures.  I’m sure all you boy moms can relate.

keans2We have just begun this relationship with their family but I have the privilege of speaking with Brenda (the mom/grandma) weekly and getting to know them better.  Such a simple thing that has already blessed me so much.  We are supporting them with several other families from our church group and are so excited to see how our resources and gifts can help them realize their own gifts.  Sometimes it’s as simple as throwing an 11 year old girl a birthday party.

Sometimes you may have a neighbor that is in over their heads, new to the neighborhood, or struggling with something you don’t know about.  Invite them over.  Take them dinner.  Offer to watch their kids.  I’ve found that so many people are willing to accept help if needed, you just have to ASK.  And if you don’t think you have anyone around you to help, just start praying.  God will show you.

It all comes down to the fact that people crave relationships.  Relationships with each other and hopefully a relationship with their heavenly Father.

“Church should be what ends up happening as a natural response to people wanting to follow us, be with us, and be like us as we are following the way of Christ.” (Jen Hatmaker)

I sit back a lot and get frustrated because I can’t figure out the end game. If God had given me a detailed outline of how my life would go and what I was supposed to do, it would’ve been super helpful.  So we have decided to just say “yes” when we feel like God has called us to something and pray that what we do makes a difference in the lives of others.

Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.

James 1:27

Another piece of advice I was given (but don’t always follow) is to keep your schedule as empty as possible so you are available to others.  Intentionally set aside a day or two a week where you have no plans so when God comes knocking, you can answer.  Maybe it’s unexpectedly being able to meet with someone who needs a listening ear.  Or watching someone’s kids who need last minute childcare.  Taking someone to the doctor.  Satan rejoices in the fact that we are so BUSY.  When we are busy we don’t have time to help others.  We don’t have time to sit down and have daily quiet time with God.  And sometimes I am leading the pack on this so have made it a goal to just slow down and be still whenever we can.

“Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you?  When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’ “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’

Matthew 25:37-40

Just say yes.  Start somewhere.  We could not and have not done any of this without the help of friends who want to walk this journey with us.  None of this has been done in our strength.  God provides all that (thank goodness).

Would love to hear how any of you have answered your own interruptions!

Posting in 2 days has nearly killed me.  Actually summer is about to kill me.  I only have pre-schoolers and I’m still over it.

Hopefully we will be back to our regularly scheduled program come September when I finally have extra hours each week to use the restroom in peace and sit at the computer without someone trying to staple me to the office chair.  Talk about interruptions! :)

 

Ever Been Interrupted??

For the past couple years I have lived with an unsettled feeling about life…about our life.  I couldn’t quite place my finger on it but I felt like God was stirring my heart about something.  It’s so easy in this day and age to just tolerate everything, get complacent, become apathetic.  Forget the reason we were placed on this earth and instead put extra value in our possessions, create false gods, and do whatever we please.  Which can be super fun.

Except.

Except it’s all so temporary.  I started thinking “there HAS to be something more than this”.

I started reading books like 7: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess by Jen Hatmaker. The Irresistible Revolution by Shane Claiborne.  Kingdom Journeys by Seth Barnes.  Love Does by Bob Goff.  I read more Scripture.  And the same themes kept arising.

The least.  The last.  The lonely.  The meek.  The poor.

And what does the Lord require of you?  To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God

Micah 6:8

I realized I was excellent at following the rules.  Did great with attending church service, serving in the children’s ministry, volunteering on the dotted line, and more.  Don’t get me wrong…all that stuff is great and important.  But I was neglecting to actually walk the walk.  It was easy to just give money to those in need (which is oftentimes necessary).  But did I actually know their names?  Did I know their story?

This is where Interrupted comes in.

interruped book

That unsettled feeling in my stomach?  Jen Hatmaker basically put it into words and published it as a book.  So I think I should get some of the royalties even though we don’t know each other (but would probably be best friends if we did).  She read my mind.  I had the privilege of reading this revised and expanded edition of Interrupted and highlighted almost the entire thing.  Which is totally the point of highlighting right?

Jen started by saying she had similar unsettling feelings and one day prayed for God to raise in her a holy passion.

And holy passion He did raise.

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Jen and her husband prayed a life-altering prayer that led them to plant a church in South Austin.  They changed the way they “did” church.  In Romans, Paul says we are all the “body of Christ”.  The root meaning of the word church (I’ll spare you the Greek) is “an assembly” or “called-out ones”.  Church is about the people, not the building.  And so often we are so worried about what happens IN the building, AT the building, AROUND the building that we completely forget to consider those that don’t even know about “the building”.  Jen and Brandon began serving the last and the least of South Austin.  Meeting them where they were and forming meaningful relationships.

Because really, when it comes down to it, we have but one life to live.  We don’t get second chances.  Jen says, “It won’t suffice to claim good intentions.  Saying ‘I meant well’ is not going to cut it.  Not with God screaming, begging, pleading, urging us to love mercy and justice, to feed the poor and the orphaned, to care for the last and least in nearly every book of the Bible.  It will not be enough one day to stand before Jesus and say, ‘Oh?  Were you serious about all that?

PEOPLE.

“We stand at the intersection of extreme privilege and extreme poverty, and we have a question to answer: Do I care?  Am I moved by the suffering of all nations?  Am I even concerned with the homeless guy on the corner?  Am I willing to take the Bible at face value and concur that God is obsessed with social justice?  I won’t answer one day for how the US government spent billions of dollars on the war in Iraq, nor will I get the credit for the general philanthropy of others.  It will come down to what I did.  What you did.  What we did together.” (JH)

Y’ALL.

Interrupted has caused me to search my heart. Search my motives.  Reminded me that people matter.  And not just “my” people.  ALL people.  When all is said and done, most people probably won’t remember exactly which sermon impacted them the most.  They will remember the people that lived life with them.  That met them where they were and accepted them with the love of Christ.  I feel like I lived so many years in judgment of others.  Which is truly ridiculous and just exhausting.  Thank GOODNESS I can leave the judging up to God.  We are all imperfect.  We can all be lost.  A life in Christ doesn’t promise us relief from ups and downs.  But it does promise us a loving, merciful, graceful God that walks alongside us each step of the way.

“Jesus’ point was clear:  Don’t get sucked into the game.  Be counter cultural.  Be the opposite of great.  If that means others are ahead of you, so what?  If people criticize your method or motive, what difference does it make?  If you’re removed from the map of recognition?  Good.  About time.” (JH)

“If the kingdom of God belongs to the poor, the bottom dwellers, then rich American Christians are going to have the hardest time finding it.” (JH)

YIKES.

I really could fill this post up with quotes from Interrupted.  So in the essence of time you should probably just buy the book and read it for yourself.  It will wreck you.  If you like being comfortable, get ready to be uncomfortable.  Jen does an amazing job of encouraging you to look beyond the protective walls we build around ourselves and families and break them down to advocate for those who truly need Jesus.

If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it?

James 2:16

“If we claim affinity for Christ but turn a blind eye to those He identified Himself with, there is no honor in that. There is no truth in it.” (JH)

Maybe it’s because I’m 30 and rapidly approaching old-age (jokes).  But we don’t have time to waste.  Challenge yourself to do something for someone beside yourself.  Do something uncomfortable.  Talk to the homeless person on the corner and learn their name.  Take time to serve a meal to someone in need.  Be bold in sharing your faith with those you meet.  Pray intentionally for God to raise a holy passion in you for those he came to serve.

On hearing this, Jesus said to them, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”

Mark 2:17

**Check out Jen’s blog this week for other blog link ups.  Over 300 of us reviewed the book and I know the rest of the launch team has even better posts!**

Summer Snow

Eh…I wish.  But reading about snow in August is almost the same as being in it…right?

In late February we headed to Crested Butte, Colorado for a family trip.  If I could choose any vacation in the world for the rest of my life, it would be visiting the mountains!  You’re just happier in the snow.  What we didn’t know when we booked the trip (leaving on a Friday morning) was that Seth would be out of town traveling for work the week we left.  So it ended up being a little crazy and he had to meet us at the airport Friday morning from a connecting flight.  The boys and I managed to pack, get to the airport on time, and get everyone checked in without a hitch…I was pretty proud of myself.

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Like the good little travelers we are, we got to the airport 2 hours early.  An then proceeded to wait through a 4 hour flight delay.  Hence, Drew bathing in germs on the floor above.

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The boys were so excited to finally fly for the first time!  Jake read through every manual available and asked questions from take off until landing.

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Since I got so cocky about everything going smoothly at the airport, of course we had some bumps.  It later took us 4 hours to drive 50 miles from the airport up to Crested Butte.  By the time we made it up there, it was 9pm and we were beyond starving.  But the boys were falling apart and Jake ended up falling asleep in his chair at the restaurant.  Jake never falls asleep anywhere he isn’t ‘supposed’ to so this was hysterical!

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Snow!

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Seriously.  It doesn’t get much more beautiful than the mountains.

IMG_6113 Crested Butte has the best kids area…there was a snow playground, tubing, and more.  The kids loved it.

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Finally getting to make a snow angel

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Besides not wanting to wear warm clothes, Drew enjoyed the snow too!

IMG_6123 IMG_6127 IMG_6133 Such a happy kid to be there!

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Daddy and Drew digging in the snow

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My cool dudes

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Drew enjoyed quite a few naps.  Walking in the snow is hard work!

IMG_6174 Me and Drew

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Me and Jake

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Jake decided he wanted to ski the last day we were there.  So him and Seth suited up and spent the day on the slopes.  He did awesome!  Jake had no fear and never got tired.  I hope both boys love skiing when they get older!

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Jury is still out on Drew.  He just wanted to ride the lifts.

IMG_6199We were so sad to leave but had a great time!  If anyone is ever giving away a mountain home, let us know…

Da Boys

Before I get into the great cell phone conundrum, it’s only fair to quench your picture thirst. Everyone in this house but me (ok sometimes me) whines and complains about taking family pictures but they are one thing I will never ever regret!  Pictures are so special to me and I love looking back at how things have changed over the past several years!

IMG_1304 Jake (4.5 yrs).  Doesn’t get much sweeter than this.  Also can I give a shout out to Old Navy for the boys’ shirts?  I think they are absolutely adorable.

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Love
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Jake and his daddy

IMG_1347I think someone probably shouted “act like you love each other” right before this picture…am I right?  Seth always says we need pictures with crying kids because that’s “real life”! :)

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Oh my Drewbie.  This kid.  He is a handful.  A handsome handful.IMG_1392 IMG_1400

Drew (3 yrs)

IMG_1402Don’t let the smile fool you…he was trying to choke Seth.

IMG_1406 Pure joy.  This is the Drew I always want to capture on camera!  This is how he lives life.  (Except when he doesn’t get his way)

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I die.  Nothing else to say about these.

IMG_1425Being a mom to these two is an incredible gift!

We are full swing into summer over here and I would say we’ve been swimming every day but the RAIN.  It’s great but sheesh.

So I can post from my phone now

On an app. Is this a thing? I felt like I was super on top of technology until I talked to the teenage employee at the AT&T store and instantly felt elderly.

Perhaps this will encourage me to post more. And I may start with the great phone debacle of 2014, also known as it was almost the end of my life as we know it. Really, no drama here at all.

Confused? Intrigued?

Stay tuned.

Bluebonnets

Shocking, right?  You didn’t think I’d be back so soon!

The boys had their pictures taken in the bluebonnets this weekend by one of our favorite photographers.  She does 15 minute sessions which are more than perfect for these boys who are finished after about 3 minutes!

IMG_5304 I just died.  Do you see why everyone asks me if they’re twins??

IMG_5298 We bribed them with sticks to smile. I love the above picture of Drew because that’s his true smile and oh so hard for us to capture on the camera!

IMG_5282 IMG_5281 My handsome little babyIMG_5262 And my handsome little boy!

IMG_5268So thankful for the beautiful weather this weekend and all the time we got to spend outside!  I enjoy the outdoors until about May and then, ideally, would hibernate inside the rest of summer.  Don’t think I’ll get off that easy this year.

We’re Baaaaack

So.

This is me.  Sheepishly hiding behind the pillow.  Life has happened.  And I haven’t blogged about it.  Hopefully all of you have avoided checking yourself into a rehab facility and have found other ways to pass your time.

I’m a little stressed because to catch up I’d have to go back to Halloween.  HALLOWEEN.  Not sure if I can handle that right now.  It’s nearly Easter for goodness sakes.  So let’s just take this step by step.  I’ll insert some pictures.  You oooh and ahh.  And I’ll list out our whereabouts instead of writing a 40 page long post.

SO let’s start at the beginning because it’s a very good place the start.

The beginning of Halloween that is.

Except, drat, the pictures loaded in reverse order.  I know, you may need a stiff drink to read this.

1. (except not 1) Christmas.  We had a busy Christmas visiting all our family.  We spent a few days with Seth’s parents, came home for a few days to do our family Christmas and wait for Santa (and it was touch and go there for awhile if he would actually come due to ahem…behavior), and then we went to my Mom’s house.

DSC_0114 Everyone is looking…everyone is smiling.  A complete miracle.

DSC_0052 DSC_0050 So happy to see that Santa pulled through!  Drew was happy for anything that had wheels.  Jake, on the other hand, had some very specific requests and was irritated when Santa brought him some extra things he didn’t ask for.

DSC_0044 Not sure what is going on here.

2. Family pictures.  Nailed it.

IMG_5347 IMG_5339 IMG_5326 IMG_5317 IMG_5247 3.  We visited my mom before Thanksgiving.  A couple weeks later Jake broke his arm at his great-grandmother’s house.  I have yet to find those pictures and am wondering when the last time I loaded pictures from the camera was.  Also, I don’t have a “2014″ picture folder on the computer yet so that’s never a good sign.

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4.  Halloween!  Are you impressed with the advanced pumpkin carving?  This was quite a feat for Seth but the boys loved it.  The next day it rained, the pumpkin got soaked, and became moldy.144 180Jake was Raphael, the Ninja Turtle for Halloween and Drew chose to go as himself.  This kid does WHAT HE WANTS.  He was supposed to be Batman but there was zero chance of getting that costume on.  He has been a challenge in a whole different way from Jake but is just hysterical.

So in mid-December we also put our house on the market, sold it the next day, and had moved into another house in our neighborhood by the end of January.  So I’ll blame my absence on all that, deal?  The move was something we had prayed about for a long time.  We wanted a little extra space but still wanted to stay close to our friends.  Everything worked out so smoothly (well, as smoothly as all that can be) and we are now settled in a new house on the other side of our neighborhood.  There are tons of kids on our street and we are starting to adjust.  I’ve worked like a maniac (Seth might use psycho) on our house because I was so sick of boxes and wanted them gone ASAP.  So it’s nice for everything to feel like “home”.

Drew’s sleeping habits have gone from great to poop since we moved and now he sleeps like a newborn at night.  He is up every couple of hours and we are so tired.  And if you leave him to cry, he vomits everywhere, so that presents a whole new challenge!

Life is fun.

Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.

Matthew 11:28-30

Merry Christmas Y’all!

I mean, never mind that this blog hasn’t been updated in 2 months (3?).  And for all you know, we’ve been stuck on a deserted island in the Pacific.

But we are alive and well and I have LOADS to update you on…after Christmas.  Hope you enjoy this special time of year as we celebrate the birth of our Savior!

Final Christmas Card 2013

Truly He taught us to love one another,
His law is love and His gospel is peace.
Chains shall He break for the slave is our brother,
And in His name all oppression shall cease.
Sweet hymns of joy in grateful chorus raise we,
Let all within us praise His holy name…

Our Ninja Turtle Turns 4

At the beginning of October we celebrated Jake’s 4th birthday with family and friends.  His party was at a local park in the Woodlands that also has a new splashpad.  At the time I reserved it, I figured it would be too cold to play in the water but Texas, you never disappoint.  It was a HOT day!

017 The kids went nuts in the water and had a blast!

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My good friend, Jessie, once again blew us away and made the cutest Ninja Turtle cookies for the kids!  She had all four (red, purple, blue, and orange) and they were a hit.  And of course tasted wonderful.  Check her out on Facebook (Sweet Creations Cookie Shoppe) if you are interested!  And you should be.

018I didn’t get a great picture of all the food but we had “turtle shells” (Oreos dipped in green chocolate), fruit, snacks, chips & dip, and cupcakes.

019 028 031 039 This is why we will be in the ER soon with Drew. Hanging on a slippery pole over wet concrete.  At least he is learning a lot in gymnastics!

048 Birthday boy

063 Jake had waited anxiously the past 364 days for his 4th birthday.  And don’t worry, he’s already planning his 5th.

068072 074 I made Ninja Turtle masks for all the kids with a little help from some friends.  This was before I realized they sold them for parties in the store.  They were so cute though and the kids had fun wearing them!

082 087 Family picture (with Lexi…who will probably be in our family anyway one day)

093 Jake was so sweet with his presents.  He let Drew help him open them and even bought Drew a toy with some of the birthday money he got.  I mean, my word.

098 107 First cowboy hat!

110 111Nana and Michaelangelo

We had a fun today celebrating and are so proud of our 4 year old!

 

 

The Post Where I Overwhelm you with Pictures

 

As my grandparents so kindly reminded me, this blog is clearly moving lower and lower on the priority list.  Work has taken up more time than usual this semester so I realized it had been a month – yikes!  You can tell I haven’t been writing though because every evening, thoughts and stories just start coming to me.

Just to be clear…not voices in my head.  Just thoughts.  Ok? :)

I always tell myself I will write them down the next day and I forget.  So the only reason I probably won’t ever be a world-famous author is simply because I have forgotten.  Otherwise, you know these stories would be best sellers.

September got us back into a routine, with the boys going to preschool on Mondays and Wednesdays.  I quickly realized that the grand plans I had for while they were at school just weren’t going to happen.  You know how much you can get done in those 4-5 hours?  Not much.  I am so appreciative of the free time but it looks like all my closets will remain unorganized for the time being!

IMG_5035 We’ve been going to the library every week, checking out a ridiculous number of books, and then riding the trolley around The Woodlands afterwards.  It’s usually us with the senior citizens that actually use the trolley for transportation!

IMG_5040 Playing (safely of course) with their friend, Ben.

IMG_5042 After school ice cream treat

IMG_5045 IMG_5056 We watched the first few Aggie games at a friends house and combined there were almost 20 kids there.  This was the upstairs group while the parents watched the game downstairs.

IMG_5065 Jake and Drew love playing with our neighbors down the street.  This particular day their mom wanted a small tree gone in the flowerbed so all 4 boys put on their boots and attempted to help.  They eventually just gave up and pulled all the leaves off!

IMG_5072 IMG_5083 Don’t let his proud face fool you.  I put all 137 of those pieces together.  Next time I will read the box carefully before we start on something like this!

IMG_5088 We got to visit my sister and her husband in College Station a few weeks ago and the boys stayed with them while Seth and I went to the A&M game.  A rare moment of sweetness.

IMG_5118 Gig ‘em Aggies!

IMG_5144 Jake started playing soccer again at the end of September.  He has done great so far this season and even scored a goal his first game (by picking up the ball and throwing it in the goal!)

IMG_5150The boys’ preschool has a huge pumpkin patch every year so they were so excited to see them being set up last week!

We’ve got lots more to share…lots of birthdays in the Anderle household this month!  And it’s finally almost “cold” outside.

Almost.