Wednesday, December 21, 2011

The Definition of You

You know sometimes when you say things to your children, and then after they go to bed and the house is real quiet, God tells you you made a big mistake? No? Well, it's not pretty, nor pleasant.

Yesterday and today were end of semester test days for both the punks. This school year has been hard for both of them...learning to adjust to Jr High and High School has not only been a social adjustment, but an academic adjustment too. They are both in harder classes, and honestly struggling to keep their head above water. They both have hours of homework most every day, and they have made good grades in spite of the difficulties.

Tonight we looked online at their test scores. Some were good, some not good. And to put it bluntly, I focused entirely on the "not good" and went in to my little rant about grades...again. Believe me, it's not a healthy rant. In my head, I intend to encourage to study more, try harder, do more. But when it's mixed with MY pride and MY expectations, it comes out like I'm telling them they're not good enough. And that's where He got me.

After the boys went to bed, I sat here at my desk trying to figure out ways to make it fix it. And then He tapped me on the shoulder and with all the patience He has, gave me the most beautiful picture of grace. And it didn't look anything like me in that moment.

Knowing you need to make it right with your kids is hard. Saying I'm sorry is humbling. I went in to their bedrooms and knelt beside each of them and told them what amazing boys they are. That their grades do not define them. That I love them the same whether they make A's or F's. That the fact that they are mine is enough.

I thank God He does not count my worth as my ability to please people, or ability to do my job well. When He looks at me, I want Him to see someone trying to live a life that is pleasing to Him no matter how often I fail. And when I look at my boys, I don't want to cloud my view of their worth at how good they perform on manmade tests.

I want to see them as boys growing up to look like their Father who cares for others and not what others think.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

It Was Almost Audible

In 4 days my family gets on a plane to end up in the capitol city of Tegucigalpa, Honduras. This has been in the works for eleven years. We just didn’t know it.

In 2000, Steve and I went on a cruise to celebrate our 5th wedding anniversary. The last port of call was in Roatan, Honduras. It was a beautiful sunny day as the boat pulled up to the dock in the crystal blue waters. We had arranged to go snorkeling that day in a private resort area. God obviously had a hand in the bus ride to the resort because as it turned out, the bus was overcrowded so Steve and I had to sit in the front seat next to the driver…giving us a full, unobstructed view of the sheer poverty present along those narrow streets through the city. It took my breath away. I guess it was the first time I had seen anything like that. If I’ve seen it before, I don’t remember.

We arrive at the resort and without hesitation, I can say that day stands out in my memory as the best day Steve and I have ever shared as husband and wife, besides the births of both of our punks. The sun was intoxicating, the water beyond refreshing, and the sights…the beautiful beach and the myriads of fish we saw underwater…just can’t be explained with mere words. We were miles away from the poverty and despair of the other side of Roatan.

As we ended the day and boarded the boat to leave Roatan, both Steve and I stood on the side of the boat…looking out at the city…unable to speak. Both of us had just experienced the highest of highs and the lowest of lows. Immense beauty and immense poverty. We couldn’t talk. We were both experiencing burden.

It’s so easy to come back to real life and forget what you see. Fortunately, God didn’t let us forget it. From that day, God has put Honduras in our path/eyesight many, many times. In fact, it became so obvious and for lack of a better word, “freaky”, I started making a list of all the times we heard stories about Honduras, met people from Honduras, heard about Honduras on the news, and watch people shop for their vacation home on House Hunters International in Honduras. I know it sounds hokey…and believe me we got to laughing about it, but I can’t explain it any other way than God wanted us to remember Honduras.

Steve responded to accidents at work with cars bearing Honduras license plates, he was listening to The Ticket radio one day and Gordo was talking about a missions trip his dad took to Honduras, we were watching the local news at night and they gave the weather and temperature for Honduras…twice. I’ve pulled up a website I’ve never visited before and there was a banner ad for trips to Honduras. I was pulling the back off of a piece of furniture in the boy’s room one day to fix it, and of course it said “Made in Honduras.”

I stopped making note of them in 2009, but from 2000 to 2009 God had shown us Honduras 23 times. I don’t know if that means anything to you, but to us…every time we turned around we were getting writing on the wall. It would have been easy for us to dismiss one or two sightings, but 23? Impossible.

While we haven’t felt any clear direction of what God wants to do through us in Honduras, we have felt burdened. In 2006, we started sponsoring a little girl named Anny through Compassion International in Honduras. It has been amazing to see her grow and thrive in the Compassion program. It’s a small sacrifice for us, but a huge opportunity for her.

So when people ask Why Honduras? I just tell them we are doing what we can to be obedient to what we hear and see. Doing what we can to make a difference in the world and open our eyes to the needs of others. Doing what we can to be a part of something bigger than ourselves.

In 4 days, we will hug Anny.
In 4 days, we will get to see where she lives, meet her family, and see where she learns about Jesus.
In 4 days, we will travel with an organization called Bread for a Hungry World to feed and love people who live in the city dump. Yes, you read right.
In 4 days, we will get to visit a daycare where Bread is already at work.
In 4 days, we will get to pour concrete, or build chicken coups, or lay flooring.
In 4 days, we will put words to work.
In 4 days, we will put love in action.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Back At It?

Today is Memorial Day 2011. We had nothing "planned" on the calendar. It was nice. Slept in. Went to wake up Caleb and had this conversation:

Me: "Caleb, I'm going to pick up Cody. While I'm gone get up and get ready so we can go eat lunch with Daddy. Do you know where your phone is?"

Caleb: "When you shoot, you get a phone."

Me: "Whaaaat?"

Caleb: "You shoot the basketball and get a phone."

Me: "Okay, where are you?"

Caleb: "On the basketball court."

Me: "Okay, when you get finished playing, wake up and get a shower."

This was a funny exchange since Caleb was obviously talking in his sleep. That boy is the hardest sleeper I've ever known.

He is still covered in bruises from the paintball games last Saturday. He's a tough cookie.

I can't believe he is graduating from 6th grade this week...and we will be done with elementary school in our lives. If I think too long about it, I cry so I've tried not to think about it too much.

Slow down tough boy...slow down.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Dear Cody & Caleb...

Dear Cody & Caleb,

A few days ago your dad and I celebrated our 15th year of being married to each other. As we told you in prayer time that night, it hasn't always been days of cupcakes and lollipops... a few days have been licorice...really black, nasty licorice. But I can tell you this... that we love each other more today than we did on that Labor Day weekend back in 1995. Lots of people say that, but it's really true. Looking back now, we barely knew each other. But God has been so good to us...and even though we've both made some pretty big mistakes, He's used them for good and brought us closer together. He's the yen to my yang (even though we aren't Chinese), and I'm the creamer in his coffee (even though he doesn't drink coffee). There have been lots of good and fun, and goofy times...and those are tucked away in my love memory bank.

I am thankful for your dad. From day one, he stepped up to his role of provider and protector masterfully. He is a hard worker, diligent in gaining favor with his employer because of his ethics and honesty at work, has a good reputation, is a loyal friend, is a good son and son-in-law, and a good brother and brother-in-law. I think his shining accomplishment so far has been his role of daddy...and you boys are so blessed to have him as your father. I love how he protects and nurtures you, but also how he gently nudges you to spread your wings to try new things and soar to new heights. He is a great picture of the way your Heavenly father loves you.

Tonight I am praying for your future wives. I'm hopeful that it's SEVERAL years away, but I already have a sweet picture of both of them in my thoughts. I pray that God is already molding them to be the helpers that you both need, and that most of all they are falling in love with Jesus more every day. I am praying that you will continue to grow and become great men who look a little bit like your dad, and a whole lot like your Father.

I love you,

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Fourteen Days

Tomorrow it will be two weeks since I have slept in my big king size bed, worked in a one-person home office with nothing but the sound of iTunes or FoxNews in the background, gone to lunch with my sweet hubby and sat on the same side of the booth playing Words with Friends together, and kissed my two sweet punks before they went to bed. A long two weeks. It is true that the simple ‘tasks’ of life seem so much more precious when you don’t get to do them.

Fourteen days into the tour and I laugh about the list I actually wrote down of things I wanted to accomplish on this tour. Blog, work on getting pictures organized in my computer, take pictures of each new city, and other things I won’t even post because it seems so outlandishly ridiculous now that I’m sitting here fourteen days later with ONE blog post under my belt and literal days where I did not step one foot out of the venue in Different City, USA…much less take a picture. Where did the time go? Life on the road is so much different than what it looked like in my head…and what it looks like in yours.

Here are some observations from my first two weeks…

*There is NO private time…none…nada…zilch. MAYBE when you go to the toilet, but even then, you’re not guaranteed a private stall, or that the bus bathroom door does not open either by accident or on purpose while you’re sitting on the toilet. This is hard for a girl who likes her alone time.

*I can sleep on a moving vehicle. This is a shock to my husband I know…because of the fact that I don’t even like to let him drive when it’s raining because I need to feel in control of the vehicle. Baby…I have not once stayed up and sat next to the bus driver to make sure he doesn’t veer off the road or stop in time. Aren’t you proud of me?

*It is hard to accomplish even the smallest list of To-Do’s while sharing an office (and I use the word “office” very loosely) with 6-7 other people…and a host of other people coming in and out of the “office” all day long for various reasons. Although difficult to get things accomplished, this has become one of my favorite things and something I discovered I miss about working in an office with other humans.

*Although the artists do get some down time during the day working around interviews, sound checks, etc., the crew and production staff literally work from the time the buses roll into the venue in the morning until they roll out of the venue at night. I’m not saying they are rolling steel all day or performing surgery, but still available all day long...usually 7 or 8 a.m. until midnight. These are long days people.

*The dressing rooms at the venues are always a surprise as to how clean or dirty they will be. One of the crew guys made the joke by saying that as soon as you even walk into the arena at Billings, you instantly contract syphilis. After seeing that girls dressing room/shower area, I’m not sure he’s much off. Two words…shower shoes. Need I say more?

*My food schedule is wacky. I don’t usually eat breakfast…which is okay for me. Then I eat lunch in catering around noon or 12:30. Dinner is served from 5 to around 6:30, but I start my evening responsibilities at open doors, so I cannot eat dinner then. Which means I’m eating dinner at midnight usually with after-show food. That in itself could pose lots of issues…but thankfully it’s been okay.

*I’ve already seen someone in their underwear…but I won’t tell who. Our bus is the bus with girls on it so people are used to not being undressed on that bus. But sometimes I have to go to the MercyMe bus for things, so I always yell “girl on the bus” when I get on…but evidently I didn’t yell loud enough one time. Let’s just say…it brings workplace unity to a whole ‘nother level.

*Some of the most fun I’ve had is at night when we get on the bus to leave for our next city. I am sharing a bus with eleven other people consisting of Stacie, a pretty, young girl from Franklin, TN. who coordinates the VIP’s for the shows; Kyle, a young geek from Sacramento, CA who helps with getting the show online every night for viewers at home to watch; Francesca Battistelli, and her drummer hubby (who are newlyweds), and their crew of two; and Fee Band which is Steve Fee and three band members and their crew. It is a great mix of people…and some super nice and funny guys. We usually sit around in the front lounge until around 2 or later…until we can’t keep our eyes open…just talking, laughing, and eating (those guys are constantly looking for food to eat).

*Days off are a welcome break from work…and usually the only time I get to see the cities. I’ve enjoyed getting to see some of Casper WY, Spokane WA, Ashland OR, and today, Sacramento CA. It’s been so wonderful to step off the bus and see mountains, or look out my hotel window and see a river in the middle of a forest area. It just reminds me of how creative our God is, and how very, very blessed I am.

*I feel very blessed to be a part of the ministry of the Roadshow. Like someone mentioned on Sunday during our “church”, we tend to count the success of the show by how many people came, or how much merch was sold, but the stories of the people who came and were blessed, or hear how their lives were changed by what they heard… that’s the true success of the Roadshow…and I love that God is right in the middle of it all.

*I miss my friends. I miss my shower. I miss my mom and dad, and sisters…and nieces and nephews. I miss my Abby. I miss my sweet punks…and I miss my Mr. McWonderful. ‘Missing’ is undoubtedly the hardest thing about what I’m doing. In the words of TobyMac, “baby hold on…just another day or two…” And that’s what I’m doing…holding on until I get a few days closer to holding all three of my babies.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

I Thought Twice...and I Did it Anyway

**Update: I tried to add pictures to this post until today and could I'm posting anyway. Hopefully I'll get some pictures to work later.

Today was day one of my big adventure. About 6 weeks ago, it was decided that I would go on The Rock & Worship Roadshow as Tour Accountant. Even though I have worked for MercyMe for about six years now, I have never been out on the road with them, and this was a great opportunity for me to know “that” side of what I do from my home office every day. And since the Roadshow is only in its second year of existence, it was a good time for me to go and establish some organization to the accounting side of the tour. Right up my alley since my middle name is organization…or Denise…or whatever.

I immediately started planning for this awesome opportunity by…what else, buying some new jeans and a pair of Converse. For the past several weeks I’ve been going back and forth in my head…I’m excited about this opportunity…what the heck do I think I’m doing?…it could be fun…that’s a long time to be away from home…I’ll get to be in alot of places I’ve never been…Gina, you’re 46, you do not need to be sleeping on a bus! So it’s been like that for a while. And here I am…46 years old, living on a bus (a nice bus), going through 24 different states in 6 weeks…and getting to play a part in a great ministry!

I want to document my experience, especially for my kiddos to enjoy reading what I’m doing every day. Today was Day 2 of rehearsals for the 7 different bands that are out on this tour. I flew to Nashville with the MercyMe guys and arrived about 2:00 today. Most of you know…flying…not my most favorite thing to do, but I was prayed up and had lots of people who “know” me praying too. It was a great flight…uneventful, but I have to say I am paranoid about people and behaviors on planes. I sat next to some French people, who were quite pleasant, and spoke mostly in French. I guess there were quite a few of them who knew each other on the plane, and they kept getting out of their seats going and talking with each other. I wanted to scream at them that “the Fasten Seatsbelts sign is on for a reason people!!”, but I managed to refrain from yelling on the airplane…for the sake of being labeled as the crazy lady on Aisle 23.

We arrived in Nashville and went straight to the rehearsal warehouse. Here’s where the horror stories I’ve heard from the crew start coming to life…as far as the cleanliness of the facilities go. Let me just say…the bathrooms…not pleasant. I’m caught up on my shots though…so I think I’m good. I worked most of the day while listening to rehearsals…love to work during the creative process!

The buses pulled out of Nashville at midnight, and here I am. Trying to walk straight on a moving vehicle…trying not to think about whether I’ll be able to sleep on a moving vehicle. I’m pretty tired, so I’m not too worried.

I’m missing my Mr. McWonderful tonight and my sweet punks. They are away on a little vacation too…mountain biking in different scenery…and they are so excited. When we decided to do away with our home phone, and decided to add Caleb on to our mobile account...I never knew it would bring me to tears.

Tomorrow morning I wake up in Indianapolis, IN. for the first show of the tour. There’s excitement in the air with a new tour starting. Praying for God to show up at each and every arena…and that He’ll be glorified in everything that happens.

P.S. Francesca Battistelli is on my bus right now.

P.S.S. David Crowder is much taller in person than he looks in pictures.

P.S.S.S. The MercyMe band guys told me there would be days on this tour when I wouldn’t take a shower or want to change clothes. I hope to prove them wrong.

P.S.S.S.S. I hope I don't fall out of my bunk tonight.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Quotes of the Week

Last Saturday night we were spending some time together all piled up in our bed getting ready for bedtime prayers. Lately during our nighttime prayers with the punks, we have been choosing one specific thing to pray for. This helps them really focus on what they're praying about and keeps them from praying the same prayer over and over...the one that rolled off their tongue in memorized form and if they got out of order they had to start over?.... yeah, that prayer.

Anyway, that night we were specifically praying about something that might be happening in the near future that would entail some time away from home for me. There hasn't been a definite decision about it yet, so we were praying that God will work out all the details if He wants it to happen.

Caleb's prayer was that if I go, I would be safe. Of. Course. Because Caleb is soooooo my son, and he definitely has alot of my characteristics, and that's one thing I pray about alot too. Anyway, Mr. thought it would be fun to play a game of competition between the punks naming stories in the Bible where God miraculously saved someone's life or kept them safe. Do you see how brilliant this man is? I heart him.

So Caleb started and named I think Jonah and the whale. Then Cody went and named Daniel in the lions den. They went back and forth each getting a count to twenty to name the next one. Pretty easy at first, but getting more difficult with each passing turn.

And with that introduction, I give you "Quotes of the Week:"

With his chest puffed out at his turn, Cody proclaimed "Meshach, Reshack and Abednego."

At one point when his time was quickly running out, Caleb exclaimed "the crossing of that sea! What color was it?!"

Cody, impatiently waiting his turn while Caleb is thinking of his answer: "Ohhh! I've got two! Holy crap I'm good."