Thursday, December 25, 2014
Monday, August 11, 2014
Sunday, July 6, 2014
Saturday, May 10, 2014
When you have 4 kiddos, your 5th pregnancy flies by, and you usually want it to. You can't wait to meet this sweet baby, get her all bonded into the family and get on with your life. (That's reality)
But, honestly, being pregnant at 40 and having no preggo buddies to share preggo stories with is hard for this extrovert! I seriously have started what my friends are calling a post-pregnancy bucket list of all the things I can't wait to do (for myself) when bebe gets here: margaritas, crossfit, more tattoos, girl's nights, have a glass of wine midday w lunch (I've never done that), get in even better shape than before...but wait! Why am I focused on time passing so quickly?
All of those things are fun, but totally selfish in light of the miracle that's happening inside of me. I don't want to wish away the days and months until she's here. Partnering w God in the miraculous creation of life is one of the greatest privileges of a being a woman. I want to savor every change in my body, every movement, every kick and early glimpse that I am lucky enough to get of her while she's in still my womb. I do not want to take for granted this incredible gift, especially in light of the fact that there was a time I believed & was told I'd never have my own babies. So, if you see me, remind me of this: that I am blessed and chosen and privileged to carry another life into this world! It is a beautiful miraculous thing; the most beautiful experience imaginable.
I love being pregnant! I love labor and delivery, and I love being a Momma! Momma to five Lichtenkids. Cray.
Friday, April 18, 2014
Finally posting these. We clean up pretty good. Sure, we may choose very different wardrobes for fam pictures than most, but hey...we are all about color round here. This is us. These pics pretty much sum up our kiddo's personalities. Flora Jones did a beautiful job!
My kids are being robbed of my bloggy rantings, memories and philosophizing lately. I am going to start writing again very very soon! Promise.
Sunday, March 30, 2014
Saturday, March 15, 2014
Monday, March 3, 2014
Monday, February 24, 2014
Friday, February 21, 2014
Thursday, February 20, 2014
(Bebe at 7 weeks)
Friday, February 14, 2014
Sunday, February 9, 2014
Thursday, January 30, 2014
Wednesday, January 22, 2014
I said in my last post that we are not blaming any particular person or group of people for what we have been through. God works all things together for the good of those who love Him and are called according to His purposes. We know he closed this door. The method used by men to close the door was so painful, I cannot even put it into words. BUT, still, He removed us. I wrestled with whether or not to share what I shared a few posts back for weeks. I spoke with a mentor about it, prayed about it and James and I revised it over and over. It is the truth from our perspective and the perspectives of the many staff members and families who have left over the past two years. Every one of them felt most of the same things I mentioned. Every one of them has a family that was effected by their experience there. Every one of them has been gossiped about and slandered ever since leaving and if they do still live here, they feel alone and ostracized, unless they have found a healthy place to call their church home. Every one of them is and was afraid to speak up because they knew the culture and how they would be treated.
I am willing to take the heat and insults and threats on their behalf. And, yes, we do believe it is true and kind and necessary. Because our stories are our stories...We each have a voice. God used imperfect people to write His stories in the bible and they weren't always rainbows and sunshine and David playing his harp. People had real lives, messy lives, were hurt, betrayed, beheaded, cheated on...they murdered and slandered and committed every type of sin imaginable. Was it kind of him to share those stories with us? I have to say "YES," because through those stories we find comfort, peace, gratitude, hope in our struggles, common threads in our own messed up stories. (sidenote: I am not setting my blog on a stand with the bible...merely using this as an illustration)
We are not perfect people. Not even close. We are broken people who need Jesus every moment of every day. We are grateful for the refining fire he allows us to go through, but we are still covered in ashes anxiously looking forward to the beauty that is coming.
We apologize if you read any part of this and feel like we might be talking about you in particular. It is not our intent to hurt anyone, but to help facilitate healing. This institution has had this same pattern of behavior and system of leadership long before we came. Multiple staff have turned over for years...and we have heard from some of them that their experience mirrored ours. So, before you decide to make this about you or about us, you need to know that people have actually called us and told us that they feel like through reading these words, some of their wounds are finally being healed.
For them, I pray. For them, I write. For the critics, I pray. For the critics, I apologize if you feel hurt.
Tuesday, January 21, 2014
We flew home starry eyed with heads and hearts full of dreams and plans. We prayed, made lists and brainstormed for hours about what all the facility could be used for to bring in the people of the community. We saw how empty it was and knew it had great potential. It was like a mini YMCA and we were fired up to get it filled up with the constant buzz of activity a community can bring.
Reading magazines, going to a conference and asking other sports outreach ministers how they ran their facilities and drew in the public energized us. Finding out how closely fitness and faith can work together was exciting. We had never before thought of how sharing fitness and health goals with others creates an intimate bond that can lead to very spiritual conversations. God was moving greatly in our ministry and we were meeting people we cared deeply about.
James loved the sports aspect of his job with all of the volleyball and basketball tournaments happening in season. He also loved working out with the patrons or hanging out with the "coffee club" each morning as they laughed, talked politics, ate donuts and drank coffee. We painted the facility and changed the menu to be a little more of a coffee bar than a snack bar, but it was mostly a snack bar still. Programs started forming, fitness classes for all ages, dance classes, indoor playdates, birthday parties, dodgeball tournaments, homeschool groups...It was hopping and our family practically lived there.
It was our home away from home and we hosted bible studies there and made some of our closest friends working in that kitchen or behind the counter. James job was really a dream. It was the perfect job for him. He is a teacher, coach, athlete, business man and pastor. He was in his element. If he would have had the freedom he was promised, given 5 years, that place would be running like a well-oiled machine. That wasn't God's plan. We do not blame men. God appoints and removes leaders and we have come to learn some pretty cool things about ourselves if we allow ourselves to see them through positive eyes. It seems that God tends to move us and place us in situations where we are called to be change agents and then leave...allowing someone else to take the wheel. We are ok with that in theory, but in practice it hurts. It hurts because God has to make it apparently clear to us when we need to leave. We are visionaries and sometimes our visions may not match the church's or even God's. Many are the plans in the mind of a man but it is the purpose of the Lord that will stand. Proverbs 19:21
We are sad that this chapter has closed in our life, but because of the circumstances, we are ready to move on. We love so many people who are still there and wish we would've had more time. We don't always get to choose. But, we have made friends here that will last a lifetime and for that we are very thankful!
Monday, January 20, 2014
Over the past few years, we have been incredibly encouraged, convicted, lifted up and have been able to plainly grasp the fact that we are not, in fact, "crazy" simply by reading books, articles and blog posts that describe what a gospel centered life looks like in all areas of life. Because life should not be compartmentalized, the gospel should be an overflow of your heart. I am not setting out to write this series of blog posts to bash anyone or say anyone will have the same experience we have had, but writing is therapy for me and I haven't written on a regular basis for a long time. In fact, many people have asked me why I quit writing. Honestly, I was afraid to share my story for fear of how it might effect my husband's job. I can only speak of my own experiences and I will never name any names of people who have shared with me the opinions of others or the names of those who have these various opinions...I almost forgot who I was because I didn't feel I was "allowed" to be me. Now, I am determined to get ME & my family back. I have no need to get anyone else back or cast insults upon anyone. I say this in all honesty and with a heart only for truth, nothing I will share is meant to hurt or be unkind...it is our truth. (that's my disclaimer)
The past few years here have left us raw, deeply wounded and disillusioned. We acknowledge that no one can make another person feel a certain way and that we all have the power to choose what we accept and believe and ultimately feel. Still, when you are involved intimately in a church family, the culture effects you...how you see yourself, how you treat the lost, what you value, and how ministry should be done because your leaders are supposed to be your mentors. A church culture and personality is more caught over time than taught. By example, and without any balanced feedback, leaders knowingly or unknowingly passed on philosophies on to us that were very legalistic and void of love, leaving us feeling rejected, unacceptable, unworthy, and incompetent.
Since writing this the first time, we have heard from many ex-staff members and volunteers who felt the same way. We will not presume to speak for them, though, we can only share our experience. We edited and reworded this post to reflect only our story and softened details again and again, but still we decided not to share specifics unless someone would like to speak with us in person. Our story is not an isolated one. People need to know they are not alone and that they are not wretched horrible people because they do not fit into one church leadership's mold. Our goal is that no one will be hurt and that those who have been will find healing in Christ through sharing their experience and encouraging one another. Our God is a God of reconciliation and redemption. He is not an elitist or an exclusive God. His desire is that his children would live in unity and love one another even if we disagree.
It breaks our heart to hear that people we love are being told not to contact us or that they shouldn't be our friends because of what that might look like for them. It hurts to hear that we have been painted as villains by a few key leaders in a church that was supposed to be family. It hurts when our kids come home and tell us things they have heard that are absolutely untrue and that they have lost friends because their friends parents have been convinced that there is something wrong with our family. It hurts to see people laugh at our pain and feel pride for "putting us in our place" on behalf of the church. We will never understand why these people feel the need to hurt us. We poured our lives into that church and ministry. We love the people we had the privilege of serving. Still, we are at peace with where God has taken us and is still taking us.
We can see how God is using this situation for our good as well as the good of the church. We have no doubt that we were supposed to move on and that God appoints and removes leaders. We needed to be removed in order for Him to fulfill his purposes for both the church and for our family.
Sunday, January 19, 2014
I have an instagram friend named Layla Payton who is an artist. Journal credit goes to her. She was inspired by Creative Illustration & Beyond Stephanie Corfee. She gets it.
We all have a story to tell...ugliness, glory, pain, suffering, joy, death of dreams and people, highs, lows, and mediocrities.... It all counts. He makes all things work together for our good. Even ugly.
So, this is gonna scare some people, but I plan to share the ups and downs of our lives over the past few years...the pretty and the ugliness of ministry. We were (are) two of the most passionate people we know and this place sucked the life out of us. We were wrong, progressive, too forward thinking, too honest, too real...and we were discarded and pushed out for it. We absolutely loved our ministry. LOVED IT. God moved us.
Here is the deal, we are real or nothing. Here we are. We only have one life on this earth and we will be brave and speak out for injustice and the mishandling of the true Gospel of love. Who knows where this will take us, but I am ready to write and we have words to speak! Hang on.
p.s. bc I have already been asked, that is not my tattoo...but may be my next.