Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Psalm 1

Hubs and I are both starting our Psalm Journals: reflections on the Psalms and about how King David brought his feelings before the throne room of God. 

I had been looking for a way to journal them, and now here it is! I can update my content and do my quiet time all at once YAY! 


Psalm 1:

Psalm 1 reads more like an instruction list or advice column instead of one pouring out his heart to God. However, when I think about it, emotions are behind one's motivation to give instructions. 

When I instruct Daniel about social skills or when I help him solve a problem on his Wii or while doing his homework, I feel the need to share an important nugget of truth to make Daniel's life better. King David probably felt that sense of responsibility. Especially if he wrote Psalm 1 for his son, he would express love by instructing his son on how to live. True leaders that give the nation advice during an inaugural address or State of the Union feel a responsibility and love of sorts to their citizens; they wish to lead them on a path that will enrich their lives.

David urged his son (if he was writing to Solomon), and his constituents (being a King after all) to follow God. He wanted his son to see that as utmost importance. Therefore, he felt this sense of urgency to tell him to keep God at the center of his life and look to His word for guidance. 

A few weeks ago, I felt a deep longing for Daniel to know God. I was standing near Daniel during worship at Southeast while singing "Jesus Loves Me" by Chris Tomlin. I wanted Daniel to know that Jesus loved him just like Bri-Bri and I were proclaiming that He loved us. I sang, "Jesus, He loves you, He loves you, He is for you." and put my hand on Daniel's heart while giving him a hug. Sweet Bri-Bri did the same :) :) Together we felt this deep longing for Daniel to know this Truth, and I believe David wanted his people and his children to understand the importance of Yahweh being central in their lives. 

How did David bring this to God? Well, he recognizes God as "Lord" the more personal name for God, and he probably prayed for his people and his children to know God and walk with Him. 

In that same way, we can bring our longing for others to know Christ to God as well. We can pray for their salvation and we can listen to God's prompting as He uses us to speak truth into others' lives. 

For sweet Bri-Bri and I, we can lift Daniel up in prayer that he would know God, and we could listen for God's wisdom in how to speak to his young heart that his Creator, his Savior - the ultimate Superhero loves him and laid down His life so that he may live and love God.  

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Good Good Father

Our choir playlists are posted to YouTube and shared with the choir FB page before we sing them on Wednesdays. As I clicked through the new songs, I saw this song now done by Chris Tomlin and I knew I was going to cry. Of course, I first listened to it on the bus, so I couldn’t start bawling then – ok, I could, but that would be weird. Inwardly, I thanked Matt, the guy who set up the playlist for previewing that song, because I grabbed a handful of kleenex for when actually sang that song that during choir practice.

It wasn’t until the next Wednesday when Dave Ramsey knocked me on my butt that I realized that my father wound still ran deep and God was using this song to continue my healing process.

Wait – Dave Ramsey? So… I was at work listening to the podcast and Dave was talking to the mom of an adopted 13 year old who wanted to go on his school trip and he didn’t work enough during the summer to pay for it. His mom was concerned because he was an international adoptee learning about the American monetary system and didn’t get it yet. Dave’s answer was this was a good opportunity to teach that child good money habits.

Hearing Dave’s heart for this kid and saying that if the thirteen year old boy was a Ramsey kid, this was how he’d would talk to him as his father. Out of nowhere, I started tearing up. I made it to the bathroom before closing the stall and crying. I didn’t want to cry really loudly in case my co-workers came in, but I was thinking, “Why did this podcast knock me on my butt and make me cry?” Hearing Dave saying that this kid needed a strong mother and father to show him the way touched my need for that same heart in a dad.

During that second choir practice singing Good Good Father I had my binder in front of my face even more than usual so Krissy didn’t see me bawling my eyes out. At some point, I couldn’t even sing and I felt God saying it was ok for me to cry, so I just cried.

I thought I was done with crying about not having an earthly dad. After all, I accepted Christ during my Freshman year of college back in 2002 and God really started showing me how He was like a dad after my sophomore year when He revealed that a crush I had on my professor was due to my need to find a father replacement.
My grandpa, Pa, had always been a father figure, but during my sophomore year, he started to develop dementia. I was loosing the only father like figure I knew, so I subconsciously looked for a replacement.

During that summer, I prayed to ask God to show me how He was my father. He was the one I could talk to when I couldn’t sleep, and He was the one who gave me a gift of riding on the side of a San Francisco cable car. My mom was afraid I’d fall off, but I felt God saying, “Daddy’s got you. Just enjoy the ride!” I was happy because Daddy put me on the cable car in a place where I could see everything.

He was my rock when Pa passed away and my mom was upset. He helped me get my mom and my aunt through it, even though I took a while longer to grieve because I stuffed my own feelings of sadness down so I could take care of them.

He gently nudged me to trust Him on my first date with Bri-Bri when I cried and sweet Bri-Bri wiped my tears.

When my uncle Steve walked me down the aisle I felt God’s presence at the wedding also and He provided what I needed for all the pieces to come together.

Even today, I watch how my Bri-Bri and Daniel play together and I smile knowing Daniel is lucky to have a dad. Even though he only spends the weekends and school breaks with his dad, he still has one. I guess I didn’t realize that I still had an ache in me until we started singing this song.

I cried during Good Good Father because I felt the pain again from not having a dad combined with the gratefulness of how God was filling that void. Pain and joy collided and it all resulted in my drawing closer to God for Him to wipe my tears and for me to give Him praise.

Sunday, October 04, 2015

Not taking the Cross for Granted

During the Online Campus prayer partner stint, I listened to the segment about communion and I was like, "Yup, we're almost to the message." But I don't want Communion to come commonplace. I don't want The Cross to become commonplace because I would stop praying for my stepson's salvation and I would take God's grace for granted. 

So I stopped and pondered. 

When I survey the Wondrous Cross
On which the prince of Glory died
My richest gain I count but loss
And pour contempt on all my pride

Oh the Wonderful Cross
Oh the Wonderful Cross
Bids me come and die and find that I may truly live.

If I meditate on the truth that God graciously died in my place for my sins so I could be close to Him, if I meditate on the depths of that love and sacrifice, then I would not take the Cross for granted. 

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Hey that wasn't so bad

So I just shared my  post: The Vortex of Love with my pastor because his sermon was about Christ's love filling us so we didn't need to demand love from others. If Christ fills us, we can truly selflessly love others. 

A few years ago, I would've walked away from that message in tears. A few years ago, the wounds from being the one to always fill the love wound in another's life were still raw. A few years ago, the physical wounds of self-injury as a result of all that were still dark on my skin rather than faint lines. A few years ago, I was allowing God to fully heal me, which  meant the wounds hurt more as He used His blood as antiseptic and stitched them together.

The feelings of low self-worth, of 'am I good enough' of, 'Why did God put me in that position for so long' are still there. The longer I sit and write this post, the more I don't want to write. But, the thoughts I have and the feelings I have are also, "God, Your praise will ever be on my lips because You redeemed me and You have healed me from this.", "God, You were there through my darkest days." The greater the storm, the louder our song. We sang Matt Redman's song "Loud" as a choir, and as I look at the storm God brought me through of the long years supporting another's self-worth and the pain of feeling like I wasn't doing enough, my praise is loud because God is teaching her that He is enough and God saved me so He can be enough for me for His praise and glory. 

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Jumping into the Pool of Writing - or stepping in

I am taking the plunge and joining the world of professional writers - eeer.... sorta. Ok, I'm slowly wading into the pool of writing, but hey, at least I'm in.

Last week I joined TextBroker and so far made 4 dollars WOO HOO! From reading reviews, I know it's not the most lucrative opportunity, but my end goal is to not be a content writer.

I continue to update this blog and my newer blog and made it a goal to update these at least once a week. I don't always make this goal, but I am working toward it.

My ultimate goal is to become a published author. Stepping into the pool of writing is the beginning of this process.

Wednesday, September 09, 2015

The Letter Challenge

Pen on legal pad
A friend of mine had an idea for me to write a letter to God and then for me to write what God would say back. 

I've actually heard of letter writing as a therapeutic technique, so I thought, "Well, why not?" So here goes: 

Dear God, 

This will not be like the song "Dear God," but yes, I do have that song stuck in my head, but You knew that already. I feel like I have to edit this letter to sound all theological, but You know what I'm going to say anyway. 

Thank You for the Cross. Jesus died in my place so that I can talk to You, have access to Your grace and Your love. That is Love. You are Love. You are Good. You are the Awesome God You are. Oh, and thanks for giving Matt Redman awesome song lyric writing skills. Worship songs are basically singing bits of scripture to music. Think about it. Wait... You know that.... 

So..... sometimes - a lot of time this world hurts. You also know that. You also took the nails and wore the crown of thorns and had your bones pulled apart and .... so yes, You know that the world is painful. 

God, sometimes wounds from my childhood still hurt. Sometimes old traumas still hurt. I get sad when people around me get sick. I get sad when people close to me die. 

And yes, I still worry about the future. That's normal, right? Wait, You said to Your disciples not to worry, so that must mean they WORRY.... oh, right. Normal.... ok. Cool. Yeah, sometimes I feel like I'm a bad Christian because I worry. Sometimes I nag at my sweet Bri-Bri because I worry. I worry about our finances, about my stepson's development and future, and I worry about when to expand our family. I know You have it all in Your hands, but I don't want my sweet Bri-Bri to suffer or my sweet stepson to suffer. I want to right for the future generations, so I don't want to put them at a disadvantage by not preparing for their arrival.  Sometimes I don't see how You will figure it out, but I also know You are genius at figuring stuff out. 

No matter what, Your praise will ever be on my lips. 

And yes, I'm listening to choir songs while writing this. Thank You for music. For song, for Your people singing Your praises. Thank you that we as a group of people growing in faith unify to sing to You. God, I pray for those that have to sing to You in secret under the threat of persecution. Here in America, we can post worship songs to YouTube, but that's not everywhere. God, lift up and strengthen those suffering for Your name. 

To You be the glory forever and ever! 

God's answer: 

Saturday, August 22, 2015

First Anniversary Weekend

Sweet Bri-Bri and I juat married!

 Last weekend, my Bri-Bri and I took our Anniversary trip to Della Terra in Estes Park. Bri-Bri surprised me with the location, actually, as I didn't know where we were going. 

We stayed in an ocean themed room, which was sweet since I am from a tropical island heee heee!!!!! 

After enjoying a delicious breakfast, we spent our Saturday morning and afternoon hiking in Rocky Mountain National Park. We hiked toward Flat Top Mountain and my sweet Bri-Bri steered me clear of horse doo (yes, that was on the trail), and helped me nagivate especially rocky places. Sometimes he would even lift me over some rocks. We almost made it to the treeline, but the clouds were rolling in and we didn't want to get stuck in a thunder storm. 

We relaxed in the afternoon and had dinner at Mama Rose's, an Italian place in Estes Park. I called for reservations earlier, and turns out that was good because the people that didn't have reservations had a 20 minute wait.

One thing I learned in marriage is that sometimes one spouse just has to take initiative and go with her idea. 

Aaanyway, my Bri-Bri looked so mansome in his shirt and tie! 

The morning of our anniversary, we woke up and cuddled while looking through our photo album that our wonderful photographer Julie put together. We reminisced and kissed before enjoying another excellent Della Terra breakfast. 

I put on my dress again and we went into Rocky Mountain National park with the plan of driving up Trail Ridge Road and then briefly getting out and looking around at the Visitors Center. Hence why I wore my dress and not clothes suited for hiking. 

My Bri-Bri planned for a short stop at the Alluvial Fan where a flood washed out some boulders a few decades ago. Our short stop turned into an hour visit to the area when my Bri-Bri decided to show off his spryness and climb around the rocks. For an hour. 

We did go up to Trail Ridge Road and get a few pictures before going back to Denver where my next surprise awaited: 

Kenny Loggins concert at Hudson Gardens! 

That's right! Bri-Bri, with the help of his helpmate, used Google Maps to get us from Boulder to Hudson Gardens in the quickest way possible so he could walk with me among the flowers before the concert! There's something sweet about walking around a flower garden in my dress while holding the hand of my sweet spouse!!!! aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaw! 

We both ate some Filippino food beforehand from a Filippino food cart and enjoyed the outdoor concert :) 

It was a sweet anniversary weekend and a sweet start to our second year of marriage :) 

Monday, July 13, 2015

Before the Throne

Tonight I fixed dinner for my stepson and I while my Bri-Bri was in class. This wasn't my first time getting a meal together for Daniel and I because I have spent the day or evening with him while Bri-Bri did his internship last fall.

Anyway, as I sat down with my dinner, Daniel held out his hands for us to pray. I prayed for our dinner and thanked God for the day and added a little prayer request for my mom since she was recovering from a minor illnesss.

As we ate, we talked about random things. Afer Daniel ate, he played on his Wii.  I watched him while doing dishes and I thought more about his gesture for us to pray together. Being the observant 10 year old  he is, he probably notices that I like it when my Bri-Bri prays for us and we hold hands.

Maybe Daniel wanted us to pray because that was the normal thing we all did before dinner.

Maybe he wanted to because he knew that I enjoyed praying and holding his and Bri-Bri's hand.

Maybe he wanted to connect with God.

Of course, his reasons could be a mix of all three.  Even if he sees prayer as routine or as something that makes his stepmom smile, he still willingly joins Bri-Bri and/or I as we approach God in prayer.

The song "Before the Throne of God Above" came to my head, specifically the version from Shane and Shanes "Pages".  As I thought about it, I smiled. Daniel, like his namesake, comes before the throne room of God. Even though he tells us that sometimes he doesn't think God is real and that is why he finds church a bit boring, he sees that we value praying. And I believe that God is tugging on his soul even if he is unaware of it. As one doesn't simply walk into Mordor, one cannot simply walk into the throne room of God and not be afffected.

Daniel's gesture tonight of wanting me to pray for our meal encouraged me to continue praying that God would reveal Himself more and more to Daniel. I pray that each time Daniel approaches God in prayer - from simple mealtimme prayers to prayers about his family to his own wondering about God - that God becoomes more real. I pray that Daniel sees God as the Magnificent Savior and Creator on His Throne, and that he knows he can approach that throne with grace and mercy because that King sympathizes with us and gives us grace in our weaknesses.

I pray that Daniel will one day approach the throne of God and declare that Christ is his Savior.

Before the throne of God above
I hae a strong and perfect plea
A great high priest who's name is love
Who ever lives and pleads for me

My name is graven on his hands
My name is written on his heart
I know that while in heaven He stands
No tongue can bid me thence depart

Hallelujah Halleujah
Praise the One
Risen Son of God

Saturday, July 11, 2015

A different version of the trust fall

Daniel looks up to his dad and loves being with him. Watching their interactions, I can definitely tell that he has a secure attachment relationship with his dad. 

Today we went swimming in the apartment complex pool. Daniel and Dad swam around in the deep end and one of them had the idea that they should touch the bottom. 

At first Daniel was hesitant, but Bri-Bri promised that he would keep hold of Daniel and he was confident Daniel could touch his feet to the bottom of the pool in 5'6" of water. My Bri-Bri and Daniel tested how long they could hold their breaths and Daniel went under in spurts - his feet almost touching, his feet getting closer, one foot on the floor, and then finally, both feet touching the bottom of the pool. 

Every time Daniel surfaced, my Bri-Bri was right there, and for the first few times, Bri-Bri had his arms around him. He only let go when he heard, "Um, Dad, I think I want to try it by myself." 

As I watched them, I realized they were doing a variation of a trust fall. Daniel took the risk of touching the bottom of the deep end and achieved it with his dad's support. During this, I'm sure his trust in his dad grew stronger even if he doesn't know it yet. This exercise was physical proof that his dad is there for him. 

As I watched them and cheered Daniel on for his accomplishment, I prayed that he would always be able to turn to his dad for his trusted support and advice. If something in his life makes him doubt that steadfast support, we can point to this example of Dad being his anchor and guide in the deep end of the pool to remind him that Dad will always be there. 

Sunday, July 05, 2015

American Identity

Previous 4th of July posts have focused on why I am grateful I live in the United States. This one is a bit more introspective exploring my identity as an American, or more specifically, an American who was adopted from the Philippines. 

My mom made my dress I wore to my citizenship ceremony at the Federal courthouse in Denver. The citizenship certificate has my picture on it with me holding an American flag. 

My grandpa, or "Pa", instilled love of country in me at a very early age. I remember watching him hang the flag by the door of his and Grandma's house every 4th of July, Memorial Day, or Labor Day that I was with my grandparents. We went to the Memorial Day Parade in downtown Denver where we watched Grandma march with the W.A.C. or Women's Army Corps. In elementary school, I thought I had the coolest grandma because, "She was old, but she could march all the way through the Memorial Day parade!" Pa also reminded me to stand and clap for the veterans who were disabled when their unit marched by. He reminded me that my freedom was not free. 

As I grew older and began to watch the news with my mom, I would ask her questions about world events and we would discuss them at dinner. When I discussed the news with Pa, he would remind me not to take our democracy for granted as many citizens of other countries didn't have the basic rights given to us through the Bill of Rights. He and my mom also encouraged me to understand the structure of government so I was able to make informed decisions when I became of voting age. 

Mom was the one who got me hooked on football, America's pastime. Well, she and Flora turned me into a die-hard Denver Broncos fan, and my mom was so happy when we could discuss Elway's brilliance and fumbles. 

My mom also taught me how to like American pie. Especially when it's served a la mode with the vanilla ice-cream melting on top of the hot apples - mmmm.... 

Considering all these things, I was an all-American girl. As I became a teen, I realized I was an all-American girl in completely Asian skin. Did that bother me? Sometimes. I would tell my mom that I didn't feel as American as my friends because I wasn't born here and I wasn't Caucasian. I was Asian-American, and therefore, not completely American. She told me that I shouldn't tell myself that because I was an American citizen. If I wanted proof, she would show my my citizenship documents. 

As I learned more about history, I embraced the idea that America was a land of immigrants. I could relate to the story of coming here to find a better life. Maybe I wasn't American in a sense that I was born on U.S. soil to parents who lived here for generations, but I was American in that I came here for a better life. Like many immigrants, I respect and appreciate the culture from my home country, but I also embrace this culture and this country. I don't feel a pull between the two because they are both a part of me. I'm an American from the Philippines who is grateful for her new life. 

And I'm proud to be an American
For at least I know I'm free

And I won't forget the men who died
Who gave that right to me

And I'll gladly stand up next to you
And defend her still today

'Cause there ain't no doubt I love this land
God Bless the U.S.A.

Sunday, June 28, 2015

When Heaven and Earth Collide

I really like the song "Heaven and Earth" by Hillsong United / Hillsong Worship. As always, they sing Truth so poetically and they rock! If we ever sing this song in choir, I'll be happy squealing to my choir friends later heee heeee! 

The song is talking about Christ coming to earth, and isn't that the crux of everything else related to our faith? 

I was listening to this song while working on my other blog (Yes, Katie started ANOTHER blog) and I was writing a 'tell your life's story' post and I realized that when my circumstances took a shift, God's sovereignty met my life. Heaven and Earth collided. God is always with us and always working out His plans, but sometimes He does something that seems weird or something and you look back later and say, "Wait... WHAT??? What just happened???" 

For instance, a malnourished infant with bad eyesight and exposure to Hepatitis B (and who may have survived measles and meningitis at this point) was transferred from a government orphanage to a nonprofit orphanage. She was in a particular one run by a particular agency that created her file as a child available for adoption. Heaven met earth because a woman  would walk into said adoption agency, look at that particular file, take a leap of faith, and ultimately bring this little girl home to be her daughter. In that child's life, Heaven and Earth collided during that transfer between orphanages. 

We hear about Heaven and Earth colliding when people say these things in stories: 

"And somehow at just the right time ..." 

"I just got this feeling.... something told me to..."

"I sat by this person who just happened to be..." 

"If I hadn't gone through.... I wouldn't have...." 

"Going through .... helped me to..." 

So why does God throw in these wild turns in people's lives? To keep the universe interesting? So everything works out in the end? That can be true, but there is a greater reason beyond things working out in our lives. Sometimes Heaven and Earth collide, but that meeting don't necessarily bring material good or success. Sometimes people just get through the struggle of life and they somehow know that they have the strength to make it through hard times. Sometimes people go through hard things and they are desperate for hope, so they seek it out. In that, Jesus reaches to them through His work and through His people. Heaven and Earth collide to show people Christ and point people to Him. 

Heaven and Earth collide
Savior for everyone has come
Bringing the dead to life
All for the glory of Your Name

By His stripes are healed
By His death we can live
In Jesus' Name
In Jesus Name

All oppression shall cease
Every captive released
In Jesus' name
In Jesus' name

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Go for it!

There are times where God just gives you a kick to do something. He gave David the guts to defeat Goliath. He gave Moses a really big push to lead his people from Egypt. Wake up calls can ceom from anywhere with God. Paul received a blinding (haha) welcome on the road to Damascus.

I always thought these pushes from God were events that happened to other people. Then God started pushing me. At first, I thought, "Seriously, God, You want WHAT?"

Now the pieces are coming together slowly.

God wants me to share my story with others on a more public forum. It may come in the form of speaking, writing, blogging, etc. God wants me to share my adoption story, the struggles I had in childhood, and the challenges I face due to a disability and unique developmental history.

You can read about some of that in my other posts scattered throughout this blog. Seriously, I don't know if there is one post that sums up my life story. I'm sure I'll find it if I take the time to go through my blog, but I'm about to head to bed.

But anyway, this one blog per week thing is part of going for it. This is part of making writing a part of my life so I can use writing to share my story with others.

God is the author of my life and I am merely beginning the adventure of retelling His story.

Sunday, June 07, 2015

Colorado State of Body Image

Sometime this summer I’m going to start the diet in the book “State of Slim.” Several co-workers did the diet and one was kind enough to purchase the book for me since I showed interest in the book (and hopefully getting my Bri-Bri on board).

One thing this makes me think of is my body image issues. I blogged about that earlier, but it’s been a while.
Even though I’m married and I have a husband that loves my body the way it is because he loves the soul inside, I still get hung up on my body image sometimes. For example, my mom tells me I have to stay a good weight to have a healthy pregnancy (when the time comes), and sometimes if I’m hanging out with my mom and I’m wearing a more form fitting top, she asks me if I’m putting on weight.  Then all those thoughts of “I’m not skinny enough, I’m too fat in my mom’s eyes, I’m not ideal enough.” Come into my head.

I’m incorporating more jogging/walking and weight lifting into my life because I just sit at a desk all day. Also, with the amount of sweets my co-workers, clients, and I bring into the kitchen, exercise is necessary so we all don’t become blobs haha! I’m also drinking slim fast shakes for meals sometimes, especially if I indulge in a really fatty meal with my mother in law or if we go to the store and I get a yummy treat.

Even though I still have my negative body image thoughts, I am making these changes more for my overall health. I do have hypertension and my mom and I wonder if it’s hereditary since I haven’t been eating really bad food for most of my life. I also have been doing some research on preemie/very low birth weight babies and long term outcomes. The studies seem to say that our bodies are more vulnerable to disease etc. in adulthood since we didn’t get so great of a start earlier in life. Therefore, I see these lifestyle changes more in a preventative light.

I know the body image thing will be a battle when I do this diet so changing my thinking to say it is a preventative program helps. My husband telling me now that I am beautiful helps keep those negative thoughts away, and knowing I am made by a loving Creator is the ultimate way of silencing any negativity around the unique way that I am made.

Saturday, May 30, 2015

9 Months a Stepmom

Little batman, little batcave
Little Batman in a little bat-cave

As of May 16, I've been a stepmom for 9 months. Wow! I met Daniel when he was 8 when he was out in Colorado for spring break. Brian and I went to  the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo with him. When he wanted to ride the ski-lifts up the mountain and when we were on them, he leaned out far to look and I instinctively put my arm in front of him.

Now he's a big 10 year old eating off the grown-up menu. This May, Bri-Bri got him some Lego Movie sheets because he was getting too old for his Cars sheets. When he sprawled out on his bed to test his sheets and rest his head on the Emit side of his pillow, I noticed he's 2/3 of the length of the bed. His shoes are almost as large as mine - almost. He's still smaller and shorter than me and has to use a booster seat in the car.

Seeing myself as a valid part of the parenting team took a few months. I found myself conforming to the idea that I wasn't Daniel's 'real' parent because he didn't share my DNA or I didn't have a court order of adoption with his name on it. Yet I reminded myself that step-parent has the word parent in it. Therefore, I could think of myself as a parent even though Daniel docent call me mom. I'm OK that he doesn't call me mom. He has a real mom in Fountain, Colorado and he also calls his step-father by his first name.

The support I receive as a new stepmom has been immensely helpful. Beth at work has been a really great resource.  She has a six-year old step-daughter.I talked to her a lot those first few months after marriage and the months before. Oddly enough, drafting estate plan summaries helped validate my position as a step mom. Clients who have their stepchildren serve as fiduciaries meant that they trusted those children in that role. Clients who left their stepchildren a share of their trust or estate meant that they wished to provide for the children beyond their lives.

The coolest validation came from my mom when she mentioned my wedding in her Christmas card. She said something about how she has a sweet son-in-law and step-grandson. Did I cry in a good way? Oh, yes, I did. Of course, Mom still gets questions from me that start out: "So when I was a kid did you ever..." One day she told me that she thought I was good stepparent to Daniel. Again, I cried in a good way.

I'd be lying if I didn't say there were challenges in being a stepparent. One of the hardest things is watching him long for more dad time and wondering why the judge allowed his mother to take him to Pittsburgh for so long. I also struggle with not holding a grudge against Daniel's mother when she frustrates my Bri-Bri. When I hear about others reacting to his ADD/ potential Asperger moments, I get upset because his needs are not getting met when others don't react to him in an understanding way.  Daniel's past hasn't been easy and I want him to have a better smoother development than I had.  As a step-mom, I do what I can to give him the love and support he needs when he is with Bri-Bri and I. 

Letting Bri-Bri take charge of the parenting wasn't hard for me. He's a good dad and he connects with Daniel well. I enjoy being the supportive adult who reinforces what Bri-Bri says. I have had to get used to allowing Daniel to be more vocal about his disappointment or about his frustration that I was allowed to be when I was growing up.  I want to teach Daniel things that will help him, so the important thing is sharing that with my Bri-Bri so we can approach these things as a parenting team. 

The best part of being a step-mom is having the opportunity to love a really sweet unique little guy. I'm thankful that I get to be an influence in his life and I pray for guidance in this role. Most of all, I pray God will use me in his life so he comes to know his Savior. Being part of Daniel's life and seeing him smile and grow is a blessing indeed :) 

Daniel and I in front of a Lego US Capitol

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Welcoming my love home sweet home

There's something sweet about seeing my love off to work and welcoming him when he comes home :)  My Bri-Bri has a part time job at a parenting supervision site where he observes parents who are spending time with their children in the contet of supervised visitation. He got this job after his internship with the same agency and I am proud of him!!

Anyway, I am waiting for him to come home so he can have someone to hug and tell about his day. There's just something sweet and 'homey' about that, and there's something sweet in wishing him a good shift as I kiss him before he walks out the door :)

This sweetness goes both ways :) I feel happy when my sweet hubby kisses me in the mornings at the light rail station and wishes me a good day, and feel happy when I come home from a day at work and get to hold his hands and kiss his lips when I get into the car to go home from the light rail station.

As we go on in our marriage, I hope we don't take these little gestures for granted because having each other before and after we go and work a day at the office or a morning at the parenting place is a sweet ending to a work day and the begining of us reconnecting for the rest of the day.

Aaaaww! :)

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Ephesians 5 for God

We are studying Ephesians at Southeast Christian Church. Today we'd cover the second part of Ephesians including the bits about husbands and wives. At Summitview, we talked about this in the form of compliementary roles. Thus, I got very used to the same message preached whenever Ephesians 5 was taught.


Southeast's teaching wasn't radically different, but the pastor emphasized the verse on submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ. He discussed employee / employer relationships, spousal relationships, dating relationships, friendships, and parenting as it relates to Ephesians 5:21.

I have heard this before, but what struck me today was that I was to submit not just to be a good Christian or to be a more biblical wife, but out of reverence for Christ. Whether it was doing housework while my sweet hubby works on his homework for his Human Services degree, or whether it's bookkeeping for our joint account as a role we mutually agreed I would do, I am doing it not just for 'good wife' awards, but because I want to love my sweet hubby the way Christ loves me. Same with helping my stepson. I want to be a good stepparent to him, not to show off my HDFS skills or to get praises for being his at-Dad's-house-interventionist, but because I love him and I want to love him like Christ loves him. For both my guys, I ask God what He wants me to do to love them so that they both grow in their faiths toward Him more. Submission and roles in a marriage and family are not 'who can do a role better' competitions. Today's message reminded me these roles and whys of submission are because God loved us and gave Himself for us, so we may imitate Him to show His light to the world.

Saturday, March 07, 2015

Proverbs 5 Just Got Real

Today's reading in the Southeast reading guide was Proverbs 5 where Solomon was instructing his son to listen to wisdom. Before I became a stepmom, I would read this and know the importance of wisdom. 

Today, as I read the words, "My son..." I looked over at my step-son who was knocking out bad guys with The Hulk on his Wii-U. I thought of Solomon writing these words as he watched his son and suddenly Proverbs 5 took on a whole other meaning. 

Daniel as Robin, Dad as Batman!
My guys ready to save the day on Halloween! 
If Daniel values wisdom, he will make good choices as he grows up. He will listen to God, the source of wisdom. He will not waste his time and money on things that do not matter. 

I paused as I read the bit about adultery and thought about how teenage boys can be enticed by seeing bad things on the internet and even hypersexualized TV and movies. Daniel is a sweet stepson, kind to his cousins who are girls, and likes making his baby sister at his mom's house giggle. I prayed Daniel would keep that kindness and respect for women as he gets older and not see them only as objects. My sweet Bri-Bri is teaching him how to be a good man, and that is something I am very thankful that Daniel has in his life. 

When reading the bit where Solomon instructs his son to love the wife of his youth, I prayed that Daniel would find a wife that would love him for who he is and be his helpmate. 

Proverbs isn't a list of wise things to note. Proverbs is a letter from a father to a son. Solomon loved his son and wanted the best for him, so he wrote Proverbs to instruct him. I love Daniel and want him to know God and follow Him. That is why I prayed the words of Proverbs 5 over him today. 

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Newbie Bride's response to thoughts on Egalitarianism vs. Complementarian Prespectives

First of all: COFFFEEEEEEEEEEE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! My Bri-Bri and I got coffee at Starbucks mainly because Bri-Bri needed it to finish his homework. I also apparently needed it to help him proof his papers. So apparently, my HDFS writing skills are coming out of hibernation WOO HOO! 

Thumbs up for blogger's coffee
THUMBS UP FOR CAFFEINE! Note my sweet Husband's shiny
dome above my shoulder! 

Speaking of adventures as a helpmate and life partner to my sweet hubby, two posts on men and women's roles got me thinking about how they manifest in my new marriage. The first one is here and the second one is here. The emphasis on my perspective are the words: new marriage. We are still working life out, but I thank my friend for  his thoughts so that I can ponder what I learned and how it can apply to my life. 

Hubby, Stepson, and I
Sweet Bri-Bri, Best Lil' Man, and I

First of all, my friend has anecdotes in his two blog posts about guys being jerks to their wives. That's just wrong and I wanted to smack those dudes. My Bri-Bri would want to as well because he knows that's no way to be a man. I think guys like that just use the 'submit' thing as an excuse and a swift kick in the nuts would set them right. 

Second of all, I agree that our old church was very adamant about women and men having different roles. I looked forward to being my husband's helpmate and I do enjoy helping him with things such as proofing his papers for school (1 year away from getting his B.S. in Human Services on his road to being a counselor!!!!) and doing chores when he is busy. I enjoy it because it is a tangible way of showing him love. Do I feel like he has a more important role as main breadwinner? No. I bring home some dough too as a legal assistant. We make decisions about the budget together, but I let him lead on big decisions such as when to open a joint account.

More importantly,  do I find my identity as a wife defined by how well I keep house or by how well I support my husband? Ok, sometimes. But do I feel like my role is lesser than his or that I have to submit to him in everything? No. He always tells me that he trusts me as his helpmate and advisor. Does he think he must provide to be a good husband? He wants to give me the freedom to stay at home if God has that for my life once we have children, but does he respect my decision to stay in a career if that's what I choose? Yes. Does he expect me to clean for him? He appreciates the help and he tells me. Most importantly, he appreciates what I bring to the relationship, and I appreciate what he brings as well. 

Given our attitudes about our roles, my husband doesn't automatically assume that he's a leader and I am a follower. We are equal partners with different strengths we bring to the relationship. For example, though he makes more money, I have bookkeeping skills learned through my position in my law firm. Therefore, I am the bookkeeper of the joint account. Both of us have the Budget Meeting mentioned in the Dave Ramsey class. My Bri-Bri is a good listener and helps me switch from task oriented 'I want to fix my Bri-Bri's probems' to 'I want to listen to my Bri-Bri' if he is discussing an issue. He is good at keeping his CD's contained in fairly neat piles in the living room and bedroom, and I am good at straightening the pantry and making sure no new strains of mold emerge in our refrigerated leftovers. In all these examples, no skill is prioritized as more important over the other. We both realize we work as a team, and we are equals on Team Abraham. 

Some of this was hard to wrap my head around. I wanted a man who had several hundred verses memorized, the books of the Bible memorized, had a theological encyclopedia in his head, made a six-figure income so I could begin making my Pinterest dreams reality, and was able to do a zero balance budget on a spreadsheet within the first week of being married. Basically, I wanted the idea of SuperHusband that I thought was the ideal at my old church.  In my thoughts, I would become critical of my sweet husband if he didn't meet all these criteria. 

I have a man who is growing in his faith, is not afraid to share his struggles in his faith, who gives thanks to God daily, and who is passionate about leading his son to Christ and encouraging his wife in her faith. I have a man who loves to sing worship to God in choir and a man who holds me in his warm arms to show me love. I have a man who kisses my tears away and reminds me that God is sovereign over my concerns. My man provides for us and is grateful for my contributions as we are both working our way out of debt. He views conversations about money as a team effort and recognizes both his and my perspectives. He trusts me with the bookkeeping of our joint account. I have a man who doesn't have the whole Bible memorized, but he demonstrates God's love to his wife, his son, his family, and his in-laws. Basically, though I don't have the Super-Husband that I conceptualized as a single college woman, I have a man who loves me and is an active partner in our life and active in his pursuit of God. I have a man that is passionate about loving me and who I am passionate about loving in return. 

So, is my marriage strictly complimentary or egalitarian? If you ask these questions regarding our marriage:  Is the marriage where the woman is the homemaker and the man is the provider? If the woman works, does she also have primary responsibility for the house? Does the man make all the important decisions? Then I would say we are egalitarian rather than complimentary. We share in household duties, though I tend to do more cleaning, but Bri-Bri does his fair share. As stated before, we are partners in our finances, and we both discuss our faith journeys together. 

If you ask these questions: Do our strengths and weaknesses compliment each other? Do we work as a team? Do I encourage my Bri-Bri to lead our family spiritually because he sees it as a role he wants to embrace? Does he recognize that God may call me to stop working once we have children? Then the answer would be we are a mixture of both egalitarian and complementary thought. 

Is that bad? I don't think it is. God is weaving two unique lives into one joined unique life. Does He have basic Truths - the most central Truth is that of Grace, Forgiveness, and Redemption through The Cross - to speak into our marriage? ABSOLUTELY YES! Will we follow a strict pre-set pattern for marriage? I dunno. Will both of us listen to God, pray for each other, our marriage, Bri-Bri's son, and our future children? Absolutely yes. The perspective we have on marriage is this: God is the Author and the Redeemer of our lives and our marriage who guides us every day. 

The Songs From the Summer of Ouch

Long time NO BLOG!!! Right???

Anyway, yesterday and today my huaband and I were listening to Jeremy Camp's "Stay" and "Carried Me" CD's in the car. 

Those were my "go to" CD's when my uncle was really sick one summer and I was trying to get over a hard core crush on a non-believer. Yeah long story. Summer of 2004 was the Summer of Ouch. My uncle was sick with terminal cancer and I was supporting my mom's grieving process and dealing with my own process. Also, God was addressing an area in my life where I was not trusting Him. You can probably see my posts related to this event within this blog. 

At any rate, listening to these songs again brought back memories of the pain, but they also made me aware of how much God grew my faith in that time. Listening to these songs was bittersweet because the pain twinged in my heart even as my heart praised God for giving me the sustaining grace to get through each day and showing me what it means to have joy that surpasses dark circumstances. 

God received glory in this moment as He does in every moment, but especially where His strength is displayed in our weakness and His joy shines through our sorrow. God healed me more because He once again revealed that He does not waste pain.