LA

You are Shining: Hope in Weakness

I was talking with another mom the other day about how pregnancy has a way of exposing idols that you didn’t even know you had. Idols of the heart in regards to appearance, comfort, expectation, the list goes on and from my understanding it never ends as you enter into the refining realm of childrearing.

This process of refining, in marriage, in friendships, in community, in raising babies is all designed for our good: that our hearts would be stripped of any cruches until our hope is in only Jesus. Peace for my heart and hope for my soul can’t be found in anything apart from him. All of these changes, all of these struggles only make that truth more and more real to my needy heart.

And I am so in need.

This morning I read about how in the beginning Jesus, fully God, was there and all things were made through him. In him was LIFE and this life was LIGHT for us. John writes, “the light shines in the darkness and the darkness has not overcome it.” This text fills me with so much hope. Not only does Jesus breathe hope and light into the darkness and depravity of my soul, saving me from what I deserve but he brings life even into the “little” dark parts of my day-to-day growing.

Hope springs up from seeing that light shines in my life and my own darkness can’t overcome it.
I can’t snuff it out.
Not my selfishness, not my anxiety, not my pride, nothing is so dark that this light keeps from shining the message of LIFE.

Remembering this is such an encouragement when it feels like the growing-pains of refinement are happening in every area of my life right now. I can trust that God will address the darkness (no matter how big or small it seems) with light. He won’t leave me to sort through my sin and the hurt it brings on my own but he’ll lead me; teaching me, growing me and restoring me.

As I write this I’m reminded of how someone once told me, “God isn’t worried about you. He isn’t concerned that you’re not going to make it; that you’re not going to learn.” Isn’t that true? God, Sovereign God, isn’t wringing his hands up in heaven just hoping that someday the scales will fall off my eyes, just waiting to see how everything turns out. No, he sovereignly ordained each and every spot of darkness for our good and his glory.

This I know that God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.

 

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The Cutest Things: Little League & Little People

By now I’ve figured out that living in California has it’s perks. One of those perks are that we get to go to LA to watch our nephew’s basketball games. We spent Saturday hanging out with the family and cheering him on. Seriously, little league sports are one of the cutest things! Rock was the second tallest out on the court and very agressive – I’m hoping he’ll grow up and go pro, otherwise we’ll have to adopt a future-NBA player.

I decided to take my camera along to play with the kids. The girls love having their pictures taken and they’re so adorable when the camera is out – striking up poses and asking to see themselves. They know they’re cute!

The lighting was this awful old-gym halogen glare. It makes everything under it a funky color and difficult to photograph (so be a little forgiving here!) but it was fun to experiment and kept the girls occupied.

 
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Story is sassy! She’s the baby in the family (for the next two weeks or less) with the highest-pitched voice you’ve ever heard. She’s bubbling over with so much personality and cocks her head to the side with her whole body when she poses for photos.


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Rock is so sensitive and the level of compassion and leadership he already carries in dealing with his younger sisters is incredible. He’s been raised to value and protect the girls in his role as a (little) man in the family. I tear up when I think about Frances, his mom, giving a speech on our wedding weekend about how she got to watch my husband, Eric, fall in love with this little boy. The connection they share is so precious.

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Key is the sweetest. She’s the oldest girl in a family with four kids (so far). She is so girly and is coming up with some of the most amazing fashion combinations lately! The other day she wore a polka dot skirt with floral tights and a LA Dodgers hat over her braids – perfect!


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I’m so thankful that we get to live here and see these little kids (and all of the ones on the way!) grow up into beautiful people.

Sweet Sunday: Our First Morning at CrossView

Yesterday was so sweet.

It was our first Sunday since we moved so we got to be a part of the “Sunday morning routine”. No planes to catch later that day, no worrying about packing, no rushing out of church as soon as it was done, just the sweet Sunday morning.

My brother pastors a church in LA but every time we’ve visited, I fly out on Sunday to be back at work on Monday, so I miss the chance to attend. Usually Eric gets to stay but then that means he’s on the redeye home later that night. I was so excited because this was the first week that we really got to go!

The church family meets in a little room at a local rec center. The sound of God’s people singing gladly fills the room and echoes out into neighborhood. That moment was beautiful enough to leave you breathless. My heart was so full and thankful to finally be in a local church that I knew we would be calling home.

Joining Bethlehem Baptist during the transition of newlywed, post-graduation, pre-move life made it difficult to feel like I could really settle into my own niche in the church. I ached for intimate community, small group and serving in our community but the combination of our hectic work schedules, trying to find (never found) our own routine and knowing that we would soon be leaving made it hard to put down roots and be a part of our local church like I desired. Like I needed.

Sunday morning was just like a breath of fresh air! My heart was filled with hope as I imagined what the Lord would do with us there, now and Lord willing, in the years to come. It’s exciting to be a part of the “small beginnings” and to not just meet on Sunday but to “do life” with people who treasure truth, are purposeful about loving each other and growing together.

I so value all that I’m learning about biblical church membership and what that looks like as we start the process of becoming members. I’m challenged by the level of accountability, transparency and faithfulness that we’re called to as we pray for and build up each other in the faith.

What a sweet Sunday it was! I am so thankful to the Lord for supplying all of my heart’s needs and filling me with HOPE.

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I Left My Heart…

 

 

I have so much to be thankful for.

Afternoons with my sister-cousin for a long lunch in Brea by the outdoor fireplace was good for my heart in the midst of such a busy season. 

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Actually, I had a few long lunches out in LA…
So thankful for the time to sit back, relax, and wander down the two-way street of pouring your heart out and encouraging each other.

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Sunday, I had the privilege of listening to my husband preach! My heart was full and especially thankful as he practiced his sermon that morning, preaching to me as I put on my make up.

He appropriately spoke on suffering well, a sermon he had delivered months earlier, but this time it was coming from a raw and vulnerable place in his heart. All week he had been challenged to live out what he had learned and even taught from the Word.

It was such a precious time for me to sit in the church that he grew up. I met the lady who shared the Gospel with him when he was little and so many other people who had impacted his life. I’m so thankful to all of the wonderful people who played a part in the man that he is today. I wonder if any of them knew that the “trouble maker” kid would be back twenty years later to give a message…
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Even though the reason for the trip out to LA was under such sad circumstances, I was blessed enough to experience the Tibayan gift exchange. The bed upstairs was completely covered with presents being wrapped while we listened to Christmas music and waited for everyone to arrive. The house was flooded with people from all over as everyone was shouting and laughing, competitively selecting and exchanging gifts. The little kids would come over us to give us a hug and thank us for their gifts and it felt like our hearts just might burst, knowing that in a few hours we’d be on a plane, leaving everyone.

Those people (especially the little people) make it so hard to leave that place…especially when it means coming back to this:


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After our red-eye flight back to MN we were greeted with 15″ of snow. Thankfully one of our friends had shoveled our driveway before we got home but after the plow went through we literally had to shovel ourselves IN to the driveway. Going from 70 degrees to 3 degrees in a matter of hours makes your lungs feel like they just might freeze inside your body.

We’re still unpacking, working like crazy and not ready for Christmas. What a busy couple of months it’s been!

We have so much to be thankful for, even if it means leaving our hearts across the country for now.

Bittersweet from Coast to Coast

“Winter” in LA looks much different than Minnesota where everything seems to be shades of black and white.


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In the early hours of Thanksgiving morning we got a call that our niece, Danika, had been rushed to the hospital and was fighting for her life. During the week we stood by, getting updates from the family, praying and waiting.

 

My Dad was so generous to fly Eric out during that week so he could be with the family during the fight. However, a couple of days later, I was on my way out to LA as well…

 

Danika had a special way of bringing so many people together. People from all over the world flew in to be with the family and honor her life and now, her memory.

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After the UFC fight ended so suddenly we watched previously recorded Skype calls with Danika in them.


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Family toasting to the gift of Danika’s life.

It was really so incredible to watch a group of people who so strongly believed and trusted in the sovereignty of God, grieve the loss of the one they love. There was absolutely heartache, moments of anger and unbelief but what I mostly remember was a joyful confidence that God is always GOOD and He WILL be glorified.

I’ve suffered poorly before in my life when I failed to trust in the sovereignty of God or His goodness. Without trusting that His will is one that no man can thwart, I was left to snowball all of the questions; the “what ifs…”, the “but if I just…”, or probably the most difficult to understand at the time, “WHY?“.

Unable to answer these questions left me fearful and regretful not confident and hopeful. Trials came, suffering took place in my heart and in the midst of the storm I had forgotten to trust that the One who made me wrote all of my days in a book before I was ever born. He bound the pages of my life together with His goodness and sealed them with a confident declaration that not one page would fall out, apart from His will. I had forgotten that if He could hold and measure the waters in the palm of His hand, then He could surely hold everything in my tiny little life together according to His perfect plan that He had from the beginning.

Danika’s life and her “sudden” death has further impressed upon me the brevity of life. I’m reminded that we aren’t ever guaranteed another day with the ones we love. Her life was a gift for as little or as much time that the Lord had predestined.

Writing this I’m reminded of the Connecticut tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School.  I think of all the little ones who were unjustly caught in the fire of one man and his anger. I think of the parents who got their kids ready for school that morning, thinking that this was just another Friday. I imagine they had plans for a pizza-movie night or building gingerbread houses; a Christmas tradition they’ve had with their little one for the last three years.

Everything can change in a moment. 

In October at our wedding I joyfully talked about how “one night can change your life”.
In December, as we buried our niece, I realized how true and sobering that phrase could be.

Still, as the white horse coach pulled her casket up to the gravesite and as we flooded the area with flowers, lowering her body into the ground, knowing the tension of hope and grief, our song resounded with truth;

“Great is Thy Faithfulness…All I have needed Thy hand hath provided—
“Great is Thy faithfulness,” Lord, unto me!”.


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