turn north

I was having a little devotional time this morning – something that has been lacking lately – and had to stop and share this passage immediately. It’s from Made to Crave by Lysa TerKeurst, but this passage was written by Ruth Graham and the emphasis is mine. And it helped give me a big old kick in the pants in regards to some new roles and decisions I’ve been fretting over.

Either we can be victimized and become victims, or we can be victimized and rise above it. Often it is easier to play the victim than take off our masks and ask for help. We get comfortable with our victim status. It becomes our identity and is hard to give up. The Israelites often played the victim card, and I love what God finally tells them,“You have circled this mountain long enough. Now turn north!” (Deuteronomy 2:3 [NASB]).
Turn north! It’s time to move on! Self-pity, fear, pride and negativity paralyze us. Taking off our masks takes courage, but if we don’t do it, we will remain in our victim status and end up stunted.

What mountain do you need to stop circling today? What north is God calling you to?

our no excuses summer

Last night at Little League, I had one of those moments of clarity that come every so often when things are quiet.

It culminated in this tweet:

Thinking this is going to the summer of no excuses. My kids are not going to be happy with me. #toodarnbad #paleo #limits

And after a little more thought last night, I realized it’s time to take a stand.

I’ve been so frustrated lately with all of the excuses – why teeth aren’t brushed…homework isn’t done…things aren’t put away…why attitudes are bad…the forgetfulness that’s really just laziness…and so many words that are unkind.

It seems like I hear a hundred different excuses a day.

And I’ve been really frustrated…

to the point that I ended up yelling “shut up” in the car yesterday on the way to a doctor’s appointment.

It’s been a rough year.

It’s been a long year.

We’ve allowed some really bad habits to develop.

But those are just more excuses.

We’re less than four weeks away from summer vacation – something I’ve been looking forward to – and I’m realizing if we don’t tighten up the reigns a bit, it’s going to a long, miserable summer. I don’t want a summer of XBOX 360 and tv non-stop, of complaining and laziness, of arguing and blaming.

I’m realizing that for any change to be permanent in a family, it has to start with mom and dad.

Because I am the queen of excuses – the kids come by their propensity for them naturally.

I didn’t exercise this morning because I didn’t sleep well…I didn’t sleep well because I didn’t eat well…I didn’t eat well because I was tired and stressed…I was tired and stressed because I didn’t eat well or exercise.

It’s an ugly circle that doesn’t do anyone any good.

Tom spoke on Jonah this past Sunday in church, and I was particularly struck by two things – God’s command to Jonah to just go and the fact that Jonah was down in the ship sleeping while it was sinking.

It’s time to wake up, and it’s time to go. Time to make changes and to hold myself – and my family- to a higher standard. I’m not sure exactly how to do it, beyond starting with prayer. I’ll share more, and if you want to join with us in the No Excuses Summer, please share. I’m hoping to have some definite goals up next week if you want to join in.

No more excuses.

No more laziness.

No more bad attitudes.

No more bad food.

No more excuses.

Thankful Thursday: 04.17.12

I’ve been struggling for the last month or so. Big changes in our daily schedules, big decisions I didn’t want to have to make, big stresses everywhere I turned.

Saturday, I spent all day on the couch, watching a SyFy series on the iPad.

Sunday, I cried in the kitchen, and Tom took the kids to dinner and had a little come to Jesus talk with them about some things that needed to change.

Monday, the sun came up.

I woke up at 6:15 and realized it was light enough for me to get in a run before school.

I ate full paleo – no sugar, no grains, no dairy.

I tore through my massive to do list.

Just like that.

The sun came up.

I’ve been returning over and over this week to these words from Tom’s message Sunday about Caleb in the Old Testament (Numbers 13 and 14):

I’m so thankful for these reminders, and the big changes that come with such seemingly small ones.

Want to join in me in creating a life of gratitude? Leave a comment or a link to your own blog post about what you’re thankful for today.

thankful thursday: 04.05.12

I was reminded last week of what happens when I try to get through things on my own.

It’s not pretty.

And I’m so thankful for those gentle – and sometimes not-so-gentle – reminders the Lord sends us…to help us refocus…to bring ourselves back into obedience…to turn to Him first in all things.

For the ways he speaks to us…through Scripture…through music…through words from others…directly to our heart in quiet times.

It’s easy, when the road is more difficult, to live those verses in 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18.

Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.

But I am trying.

I’m still figuring out a good schedule for me, and Thankful Thursdays are going to be part of it. I’m going to give myself a lot of latitude with this – I might have a list…I might have a thought…or maybe just some photos.

We’ll see.

Want to join me?

Leave a comment or a link to your own blog post about what you’re thankful for today.

And we’ll make it a weekly habit.

hello there, 2012

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There’s something so deliciously lazy and contemplative about this week between Christmas and New Year’s. I’ve had a bit of time to just sit and think this week about goal’s for 2012. I spent a little time pondering my word from this past year, amazed at how His vision has carried us through this crazy year.

2011 was such a year of transition.

I’m hoping 2012 is more of a year of putting down roots and growing.

My big goal, and my word, for 2012 is simple:

Well.

My goal for 2012 is to continue to seek wellness – body, mind and soul.

To break it down a little more:

Body – continue with this paleo diet and lifestyle, knowing that – for me – it is the key to physical wellness. I have about 15 more pounds I’d like to lose, and then I just want to learn to live and maintain that weight. Exercise has slipped from my routine for these past few months, and I need to find the best workout for me.

Mind – I’ve seen over these past few months how integral creativity is to who I am, and how much I need it to calm my frazzled brain. I’m commited to Project Life, have several vacation scrapbooks I want to finish, am hoping to make the time to scrap those everyday pages again and have been wanting to take up some sort of needlework.

Also, I want to keep learning and implementing – about food, about nutrition, about budgeting…and there’s always more.

Soul – so much of what’s good for my mind and body is good for my soul, but I also need to be more consistent in my time with my Creator. It’s the first thing to drop when life gets crazy, and it’s the one thing that shouldn’t. His is the well that doesn’t run dry.

And more frivolously…I will get over my fear of cooking shrimp and save enough to buy my new camera (luckily, it will take time because I’m totally undecided between a Nikon DSLR and one of the new mirrorless cameras).

Are you ready for this new year, this new beginning?

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gratituesday: east meets west

This might be my new favorite picture.

Sure, it’s a little blurry…

and the light is wonky…

but it’s some of my very favorite people, all in the same place.

My husband (of course)…my sister and brother-in-law…and one of our very dearest friends from our time in Florida.

One of the hardest things about living on the east coast while our family was on the west was not getting to share our friends with our family, and our family with our friends. We spent years telling our family about all of the great people who became part of our lives during those 6 years God called us to live so far away. It might not seem like a big deal – not really – but ibeing able to share our family with Deanna, to spend the day wine tasting and the evening with a big, family dinner and campfire…it means a lot.

And I’m grateful anew for the time we spent in Florida – for the friends that became family, for the counsel we still seek, for the prayers that have helped us through this year to where we are now.

This post linked to Heavenly Homemaker’s Gratituesday.

the thing about praying


As I’ve commited this month to praying for youth in our church, I’ve been amazed at how God has both answered and challenged me.

That’s really the thing about praying, isn’t it?

The more you commit to hearing God’s voice, the more you actually do – and sometimes, you find He’s telling you something entirely different than you expected to hear.

We’ve been praying specifically about youth – how to start a youth program in this community, how to reach the kids in a way that really connects with them, what sort of curriculum and teaching styles, even making plans and setting dates – and yesterday, in a few conversations with Tom, we realized that God’s calling us to something more.

We are in a position that not many churches find themselves in.

We’re starting from scratch. We’re not trying to rebuild or restart a program. There’s nothing to dismantle, no sacred cows to tiptoe around. At the moment, we have a youth Sunday School that works and nothing else for any age group.

We have a clean slate, a fresh start and get to lay the rails our selves…to use every cliche I can think of.

Which means we can do youth ministry the way Tom has always wanted to – as part of a larger family ministry. For 16 years, he’s watched youth ministries do a great job at planning fun events and even discipling youth…but in more cases than not, the families remain unchurched and unchanged. We’ve watched as kids and youth learn to love church events…but fall away from God once they graduate to big church and they’re no longer being so actively entertained. And we’ve watched over and over as kids come to church, find faith and lose it quickly because there is no family support.

The one overwhelming need God has placed on our hearts from the first is that we reach beyond just youth to their families – whatever those families happen to look like – He’s calling us to reach out to the families of this community and to serve them.

We still don’t know what that’s going to look like, ultimately, but God has given us a clear vision of a few first steps that I’m excited about taking. So we plan and we start with what He’s given us…and we just keep praying. God’s got a timeline for it all – it might be a six month plan or it might be a six year plan – and we’ll keep praying and working as He shares it with us.

Will you continue to pray with us?

praying for: youth

It isn’t enough to raise your children in church; you must raise them in Christ.
~Rick Warren

It’s September.

That’s just totally surreal.

It marks the beginning of Tom’s third month in the pulpit, and it marks the beginning of a month I’m taking to pray specifically for youth at our church. I, along with several church leaders, have a strong sense that God is calling us to do something…we just don’t know what it is.

Tom and I have been discussing youth programming and goals, to the point that I think he’s probably tired of it already. We are wanting to be very intentional, as well as very careful of not starting anything that isn’t fully ready to go. It’s not going to profit anyone for us to throw some half-baked ideas out, only to have them flounder.

So far, my main prayers are:

  • That we find a way to work in partnership with the family, and not focus solely on youth. Fifteen years married to a youth pastor has taught me that youth ministry is as much about the family as it is the youth. And no youth ministry has a chance of succeeding without parental support.
  • That we be able to reach into a small, agricultural community that doesn’t necessarily value church attendance, with many broken and fractured families. I feel as if we’re starting from scratch.
    In so many ways.
  • Music is a necessity, and I have no idea how to make that happen in this very small town. Our music ministry at church consists of several members that play the piano and organ – I’d love to find someone willing to offer up one night a week to lead more current/youth oriented worship, and it might just take a miracle to find them.
  • We’re currentkt have a youth Sunday school that is handouts and Bible stories, but I’m absolutely convinced that we’re going to need an all new paradigm. Conversational, real life, Bible based, applicable and speaking to the lives of kids in Dos Palos.

Easy, right?

I know.

Not exactly.

I’m reading Think Orange by Reggie Joiner to get more of a vision of what this family and church partnership can look like, preparing myself to lead a small group of youth should there be need when Starting Point begins next week and asking our church to pray as well on Sunday.

I’m praying that God would develop a vision and a plan, that we would be open to any crazy ideas.

I’m praying that when the time comes, we’re ready and able to move forward.

And I’m praying for the youth of this community. Meth is a huge problem here. Gangs are a big issue. The unemployment rate is astronomical – I believe one of the highest in the country. Our school district is a bit of a mess due to budget issues.

The youth of this town need to know Jesus, and I’m committed to doing what He calls me toward that purpose.

Will you please join me in praying this month?

gratituesday: two

I’m watching my littlest nephew this school year…Monday through Friday…from about 7:15 to 3:30.

We’re having a blast.

It’s been a chance to revisit playing cars and buidling tracks, the joys of bubble pop (aka bubble wrap), potty training and naptime.

Oh, the naptimes! We both tend to rather need them by the time noon rolls around.

There’s something so special about being two. Sure, there are those moments of testing…the “no’s”…the frustrations of not being able to communicate exactly what you want…and the even worse frustration of not getting exactly what you want, even when you’ve communicated it quite clearly.

But at two, everything is worth jumping up and down about. Everything is worth cheering for. Everyone is your friend. Everything is a toy. Everything around you is new and exciting and “awesome” and “cool”. And sometimes, it’s totally fun to talk in monkey language…especially if you’ve just been given a banana.

It’s been a bit of an attitude check for this auntie – a reminder to not take everything for granted, that joy is all around and that sometimes little things are worth getting very excited over. God’s creation is a marvelous thing and I’m thankful for new eyes to see it through.

And I find myself thinking of of Jesus’ words in Mark 10:14…

Truly I tell you, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.

Lord, thank you for my little buddy and for reminding me that Your creation is truly worth of awe and praise.

Shared at Heavenly Homemaker’s Gratituesday.

reduce, reuse, recycle…rethink

Grist posted this piece from designer Max Temkin, and we felt it was worth sharing because we’re right in the thick of our waste less 30 Day GOOD Challenge.<br />
Take that, plastic spoons, you jerks.” /><br />
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I stumbled across this on Pinterest the other day. I’ve got to admit – the design was what drew me in at first…

but then I actually read it.

And I’ve been thinking about it ever since.

We’ve made strides as a family for the past four or five years to live in a way that’s more friendly to the environment, as a way of showing our care for God’s creation. While we’re not perfect, we’re trying and I’ve seen how one change can lead to another and another and another…ultimately changing the way I shop and live in lasting ways. 

I want to cry a little bit when I see someone fill a shopping cart with styrofoam plates – styrofoam plates! – so they won’t have to do dishes. It bothers me to see water bottles and aluminum cans thrown away, rather than recycled. The small town we’re living in right now doesn’t even have recycling pick up, which is a bit shocking to me considering I’m back in California.

We’re not perfect…by any stretch of the imagination…but we’re trying.

And this sign has forced me to think about other changes we could make.

What I find really odd is that so many of these lazy things we do – buying styrofoam plates instead of actually doing dishes, grabbing handfuls of paper towels rather than a bar mop or kitchen towel, buying plasticware instead of the reall stuff (again, so we don’t have to do dishes – we sure don’t like dishes!) – that laziness costs us so much more financially in the long run. We’re choosing consumables over durable goods, replacing over and over items that, for a few dollars more, could be ones that last.

I purchased a set of white linen napkins at Target not too long ago, to cut down on the paper napkins we use. Still haven’t. They’re going on the table tonight.

I’ve been slowly collecting more silverware, again at Target, picking up another set of forks or spoons as the budget allows. Somehow, we had gotten down to about 3 teaspoons…not the greatest idea when you’re a family of four. I’d like to have forks and spoons for at least 20.  In all honesty, if I have a big party, I’m buying those plastic spoons…but that’s all they’re used for and maybe someday that will change for the better, too.

Little steps. Little changes. And keep looking for more.

What changes have you made recently or are you planning to make?