How I Can Be a Hero….

We have already spent a good month at the pool so far this year. My kids were in that water when it was so freezing, they were purple within 30 minutes. I enjoy that I have two strong swimmers and can enjoy the sunshine and a book while they burn off energy. Please do not take this post as me knocking those moments. Its a summer delight that I long for and wait from January till May in anticipation of that very moment.

For the first time this summer season, I got in the pool and went under. I had gotten in before but it only seemed to disappoint my kids. They were vocal about their disappointment too.  They wanted to see me in the water, my hair wet and showing them how to flip. I laughed about what didn’t count to them at first.

I am the most hero-like to my kids when I get my hands dirty, my head wet and am in the thick of it. When I think they need a mom who has it all together, what they need is for me to be willing to be a mess.

Exhale with me.

They need me present and active and showing them that they have a long way to go before they can beat me in a swim race. This goes for showing your kids how to be brave, bold, wise, kind, that beauty is found in the unexpected and to love is to sacrifice, give and do.

We model best when we are willing to be a mess.

Meet the Nemesis

It’s about that time of year again.

It’s sure to be all over Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram and likely the reason for the majority of psychiatric care by 2019.

Its the Elf on the Shelf.

Now I am not dissing the creepy elf that causes mischief while our children sleep. The “sees you when you are sleeping” doll that helps keep our kids in line as Christmas morning approaches. I don’t make fun of it because that little thing scares me. After all, it did break into the cookie jar, roll the bathroom and clean the closet (all by itself…awkward shutter).

There has been this thing living in my laundry room. It lives there because after bringing it home from my in-laws house (that’s another story), my daughter insisted I put it somewhere else while she sleeps. It’s that creepy folks.

Folks, I introduce to you the nemesis.

I call it “Clown in the Closet”.

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I wonder if it has any marketability

 

 

Momma Momma

The littlest one is my house started kindergarten.

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I’d love to tell you she is as happy-go-lucky about it as her brother.

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Sophia is the one who inflicts my deepest fears…the hyper-emotional mom moments. Cephas was just excited and ready to go, waiting on me to leave, full of confidence and enough creativity to have me not worried for him, but his teacher (who was awesome…and has Sophia this year). Sophia looks up at me with those big brown eyes. The eyes that are normally so confident and sassy…look at me with a certain degree of fear and a whole lot of nerves. Those eyes have me having to trust God with her fears and that He is able to relieve them.

This got me thinking about my mom.

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God bless her…

She doesn’t realize how much she has taught me how to trust God with my kids.

When crazy 15yr old daughter comes home from youth camp and says “I know I’m called to ministry”. She said “are you sure”? When I sang the crazy surrender songs, “are you sure”? When I said I don’t belong here anymore and knew I was heading to CFNI, “you will never live at home again”. I was sure, I was sure…and I didn’t. When I made major moves (a lot of them…like to Dallas for school by myself and a stranger picked me up at the airport), dealt with others challenging leadership decisions, had challenging decisions to make my own, when my heart was broken and when it was overjoyed…she is still Mom and responds like a mother to a daughter. She encourages my faith when it comes to trusting God with the lifetime of unknowns ahead in raising children.

Pardon me as Sophia starting kindergarten brought all this up.

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I want my kids to choose purpose over proximity every time. I want them to take risks, follow where God leads them and do what He calls them.  I am learning that this will likely be an assault to my mother heart and emotions as their faith is stretched. They will deal with the choices of others and face situations that cause them to cling to Jesus.

While babies return from the first day of school full of stories and excitement, I sit and wonder how the 2’s seemed to last forever yet the littleness still managed a disappearing act.

 

 

 

Boom! What Erica Said…

Yesterday, I had a blog post ready to go. I had edited the thing to pieces. Sometimes that is for the best. By the time I went to hit post, I had changed my mind. Not that it was wrong but after a leadership meeting, I’ve had different words ringing in my ears.

We have a young leadership team at Revive. Don’t let that fool you. Not for a single moment. Ever.

A few weeks ago, Ray asked Erica to share in our meeting. I still pinch myself that she is our children’s pastor. Sometimes I wonder if I’m gonna wake up and we will still be sitting at Packsaddle in San Angelo after our last service at CFC. That was where she and Michael said “so we are moving to Austin”, and Erica chimes in with “and I want the kids”. Before we knew they were coming, she had vision for our kids ministry.

I pinch myself over our entire core team who picked up and moved here.

Back to Saturday.

It was a short message on serving. She started off reminding us of how big God is and what we have seen Him do. Then reminded us of the little, the much and being faithful. That my friends, is a whole other blog post….er…retyping Erica’s notes cause it was just that good. I give credit where it is due 🙂

With every struggle I’ve ever had with being cynical. With every moment of feeling defeated and wondering if I would ever have feet to match my heart. Now I think of this…

“If our actions displayed a heart that was really as dramatic as our words make us sound, maybe we would be able to take hold of the things we pray for”.

Boom! Hello conviction…

 

Ladies – A New Years “triple-dog-dare”

This thought lingers in my mind often. I’ve judged much by how I’ve seen this unfold. I’ve seen it in the church. I see it on tv. I see it in my kids movies. I see it everywhere. This has gone on for far too long.

Ladies, let’s step it up and show the world (and more importantly our daughters and other young women in our lives), how this is done.

This all came to a head on Christmas day. Yup. Christmas.

We were watching Brave. Yes, that cute little Disney movie where everyone has a thick Scottish accent. Cute movie. Strong women.

The strong is awesome. How it is portrayed is my HUGE issue.

Women – our purpose is beautiful. It is not weak. It is not passive. It is strong, beautiful, God ordained and grace covered. It requires leading and guiding from the Holy Spirit because it is indeed far greater than we can do on our own. We have much to offer to a room and to the world. To quote Stasi Eldredge “we speak to others that all is well, because of God all shall be well”. Proverbs says that a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised and she is clothed with dignity and strength. Psalms says that “surely goodness and mercy shall follow”. Thanks to Pastor Shelly Nelson, I am constantly reminded that I leave goodness and mercy in my wake.
We are fierce. We handle trials. We handle heartbreak. We weep, we comfort, we are loyal and we feel much pain. We know that joy comes in the morning. We live as an example of God’s heart. He made us on purpose.

This is all true. I speak this with much passion and a desire to live that example and speak this to others. We as women want to offer dignity back to other women who are broken.

There is more.

This strength doesn’t have a camoflage. At it’s rawest state, it is evident.

Raw – not a fun word. It’s exposed. No hiding.

We have strength to offer. We are pretty much awesome.

Here is my beef…

When the men in our lives feel belittled, out to be the idiot, a constant failure and disrespected by us; we have failed.

I’m not just talking about our husbands. This goes for brothers, boyfriends, co-workers, men in our community…um…our SONS…

Imagine what could change if we modeled this for our daughters.

Imagine a shift in a whole culture of men, when our dignity and strength treats them as such. When it invites instead of nags, encourages instead of belittles and recognizes our differences as gifts instead of a curse that we don’t understand.

How does this sound for a New Years Resolution?

Dear Christmas Program Survivors…

Some of your kids shining moments are meant to be shared. Enjoy! Feel your sanity wash over you.

Tonight was Cephas’ school Christmas program. When it comes to anything involving music, Cephas tends to be a little bit of a hilarious and creative wild card. You sit and wonder what his reactions will be. Will he be the most animated kid up there? Will he be the loudest? Will he bust a move?

All of these are legitimate questions. There is a lot of history to back that up. A lot.

Tonight, Cephas was a gem. There was no crazy dance moves (don’t be disappointed, there is always next time…or cause he feels like it tomorrow) or other hilarious behavior. He sang his songs, sat quietly when they were done. At one point he seemed to be looking to see if he could find Sophia, Erica and I…but with the cutest look on his face. A gem.

Can you see the halo? I could. It shined and sat perfectly.

I failed to mention that Cephas was not the only child of mine present. One wore a halo, the other, my daughter, was shoe-less and at one point was sock free. She was rather vocal about it. How dare those pesky socks she has been wearing all day have a seam! Normally they are in cahoots. Tonight, Sophia shined brightly…all by herself.

I feel the need to tell these stories for all you parents out there who need reminded you aren’t alone. There was no explanation for her behavior. I was confused. I also about cried laughing. You know that “am I laughing or about to have a meltdown” laugh? That was me folks. I also kept joking about parents lining up to ask me for my secret to my mad parenting skillz. That’s right…with a Z!

At one point, I walked back inside the cafeteria both Sophia and I covered in leaves.

Leaves.

Her “I have to go potty” was an escape out the front door technique. Well played daughter, unfortunately for you, God gave me Cephas first. This momma knows how to run after her babies.

During ‘Oh Chanukah’, she loudly asked why they weren’t singing ‘Rudolph’. We are so cultured. She also enjoyed sitting with her ears plugged. Apparently it causes a fun reverb when you loudly say “Hello! This is too loud”!
Another song mentioned a “fat goose”. Her response to this had me crying laughing…cause what else do you do. A 4yr old cackling and rocking back and forth singing “fat goose” is funny no matter who you are. She also managed to fall on the floor during this case of the giggles.

Leaving was interesting too.

So, dear survivors of your kids Christmas program. You are survivors. Congratulations. Parenting doesn’t come with medals and trophies but if it did, such things should come with one pre-packaged for the adventurous afternoons that scream “you are gonna need this later”. You are appreciated, you are good at loving your kids and what you do does matter.

And to all a goodnight.

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I’m a Sentimental Fool

I am what you call a sentimental fool.

I am not ashamed.

Yesterday our church honored us for Pastor’s Appreciation. Anthony talked about our conversation at his in-laws house where we casted the vision for Revive. The reflection was enough to make me wanna cry. I love my church and the incredible people we get to do life with. Anthony about killed me with “it may not look like we planned at this point but we are exactly where God has called us”.
Ok…I like reflection too.
Moving on.

There is a difference between being sentimental and being a hoarder. A big difference! I don’t have food wrappers or my kids umbilical stumps…that would be weird (and gross). I don’t have every piece of paper my kids have colored on. Ray isn’t very sentimental. I’ve saved cards that I gave to him. I don’t buy him cards very often anymore. Ha! Most of what I hold on to is contained in a small box. I cherish it’s contents. I also have post-it notes in a frame in my living room (Logan and Danielle…they are still there). Memories and reflection help to keep a heart of gratitude at the forefront. It’s a good idea.

How sentimental are you?

Careful! Next thing you know, you are 30 and still have colored pages from 13 and 15 yrs ago. I re-discovered some things yesterday. These “artists” are now 17 and almost 20. The proof is the following pictures.

Are you are sentimental fool?

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7yr Old Questions and the Simply Profound

It has been a couple of weeks full of the simply profound.

I thought it would be fun to share such wisdom. I give credit where credit is due. One of those people I have to thank is my 7yr old. He’s quite the smarty. He’s also asked questions like “when was Rosa Parks president?”. We are working on the attention to details. He asks a lot of profound questions on that three quarter mile drive (or walk) to school.

Cephas has been asking a lot of questions as of lately. In the last two weeks, he has done a walk for Stop Child Trafficking Now and the CASA Superhero Run (his first race and he did awesome). He wanted to know why. There was also the homeless man who came right up to our car window in a parking lot. I didn’t ignore the man. This had both kids talking. He sees them on the corner and under the bridge. He asks questions…real questions. He’s still talking about last years Christmas morning backpack outreach. Answering questions about child trafficking and abused kids who are now in the foster system is no light topic for anyone. I have keep it simple enough for a 7yr old to understand and not lose the weight of importance. Sometimes the best way to answer a question is to remember that the why behind our actions to help or prevent is simple…because it is.

He gets it. He is learning what it means to “love your neighbor as yourself”. Some people need help, some people need love, some need a break, some need rescue, they all need good news…and we do everything that we can.

I’ve learned a lot with questions thrown at me by Revive Church’s younger crowd.

It’s kind of like the one Sunday morning when Danica asked what the communion table was for. She’s one smart cookie. Most 4yr olds don’t ask questions referencing the Passover. She did. The answer is simple. Our kids are watching, they are asking and our answers matter.

I went to a Visalus Challenge party last week. For more info on that, you can go here. I was riding in my friend’s car with a lady who does extremely well in this company. She asked if we had any questions. I asked one and her response was slightly profound. She said, “It’s simple. We work really hard but it really is simple”. Oh how we can complicate the simple.

We do a lot, we work really hard. We act based on what we believe, what we give our whole heart and life to. The reason why…it’s simple. We complicate it.

My kid gets it…he’ll continue to ask questions. May we continue to set the example and answer boldly and honestly. The why is simple. It may be really, really hard work…but at the same time, it’s simple.

 

 

 

Parenthood…

I’ve had this post on hold for a while. The only reason for the delay was the lack of completion. A good reason for delay.

Yesterday brought up a good reason to throw out this post.

The second week of school, the second note from the teacher. 

2 for 2

At least it’s consistent.

Parenthood is this grandiose mystery to me on most days. I do not have it figured out (shocker). My kids think they know more than me. I don’t blame them for this. Ray and I are still the boss but they think they know more than us.

Who can fault them when I say things like “you are in all kinds of trouble” when I don’t know what that means…or what that trouble would even begin to look like. Discipline is something we are always in the thick of and trying to figure out. As soon as we think we have it figured out, they change and we tackle something new. If anyone can instruct me on teaching my kids that singing is still noise after you have been told to be quiet, I’ll gladly take the input.

Here is my dilema. I want to raise children who grow up and do new things, buck systems, step out in faith, create, take risks, go, do and do so without hesitation. I want to model this for them.  I don’t want them to look at the unknown with trepidation. Count cost and keep walking. I don’t want them to desire a mold or model.

I also don’t want to raise criminals.

We teach them discipline, boundaries and for the love to take us at our word. We know things. At the same time, I want them to question (not me…herein lies the dilema), I don’t want them to give up (Lord knows they don’t now).

It hit me today…

I want my kids to do new things, buck systems, make people a tad bit uncomfortable, take risks…NOT out of REBELLION but to do so out of OBEDIENCE.

Those are my two pennies.

Proverbs 22:6

Ephesians 6:4

I’d love to hear your thoughts. This parenting business is not for the faint of heart. The more you know you aren’t alone, the more your sanity stays put. I didn’t say you would feel sane…but you will be 🙂

 

Feel free to petition my husband for a post about wrestling with our kids and being the boss… www.rayjortiz.com 

 

Weekly Gratitude – Week 2/3

In my last post, I ended with #10 and I fully intend to pick up where I left off. While there is much swirling in my head, I’m determined not to get behind on a week of gratitude posts. We’ll ignore that I am already making up for last week. That pause and reflection is necessary and like I’ve said before, it points to something greater. Ann Voskamp is kind of a genius for recording hers and I intend to do the same…though she writes with a depth I can’t wrap my brain around. I start where I am. If that statement doesn’t sum up a good way to approach the future, then I don’t know what to tell you.

This will mostly be in photo form. I’m not a photographer. My camera is my iphone. Still, I love pictures. Sometimes they are indeed worth a thousand words.

*these are in no particular order…still using Ray’s computer. I suppose I should be thankful for having more than one. Pardon my first world problems.

#11 – Remembering babies

#12 – Freaking out when they are taller than you

#13 – Friendships that stand time change and distance

#14 – meeting new friends (thanks COTH)

#15 – The ones who you prayed for but couldn’t ask. The ones who came anyway 🙂

#16 – Three little words that won’t go away (another post all-together)

#17 – The couple that called themselves Roadies for Jesus. If they come to your church to help with setup/tear down…they mean business. What a blessing they were to us (Mary once said “oh I don’t listen to music that is post WWII”)

#18 – Preparations

#19 – a church family that defines “get-er done”…in a non-redneck kind of way. They are amazing!

#20 – A photo in a new church that was a long time coming 🙂

#21 – Silly faces who call rocks ‘bugs’

#22 – water babies…they do take after me!

#23 – Love is – you take the last one…

#23 – Pillow Notes

#24 – Divine appointments in a season I don’t understand

#25 – the smell of Hawaiian Tropics sunscreen

#26 – The abilities of others that make the world go around…and create children’s rooms and lovely women’s bathrooms.

#27 – stirrings of the heart that won’t go away

#28 – my babies in their pajamas

#29 – “Dad you are not gonna believe it. Mom bought syrup” – that my “bad mom” moments make them happier than it should.

I about drove myself mad trying to get these pictures on here. There are many that I am missing. I still can’t believe we are going into our third service in the gym…and all the hard work that was put into it. Tracy and Delaina were determined to make that bathroom a lovely place and they did! Erica does what she sees on pinterest, making our kids room amazing. I look forward to what this season holds.

What are you thankful for?