Redesign: Restore the Heart, Restore the Home

Redesign: Restore the Heart, Restore the Home

Somehow, our lives have gotten so crammed that time to play has been put on the back burner.

Our jobs come with us to the bathroom, the bedroom, and the dinner table with constant access to messaging and social media. We have lost the art of rest, but rest is actually a pivotal piece to do our work more effectively. We are more successful and productive when we take breaks. Allow room to breathe so you can get inspired again. Life should be a balance of faith, work, play, and rest. It may be time to shift our schedules to make time to find the joy in everyday life again.

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A Memoir of Our Child: The Journey of Mourning

Pregnant? I didn’t think so highly of my capabilities to think that I could “handle it”. Yet, I felt peace that I would learn and delight in the process. I also prayed and asked God to tell me what this little one would be like. In every previous pregnancy, I had always gotten a clear indication about each baby early on, and each had proven to be true.

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Sexy is Not The Goal

Sexy is Not The Goal

The message was in fashion magazines that boasted that they included tips to help me lose 10 pounds or guide me to my flirtatious best. The woman on the front was always captivatingly sexy. The raised eyebrow, pursed lips, hands on hips. I knew that I would never look quite like her, but I figured that if I didn’t want to be lonely, I’d at least need to learn a LITTLE, try a LITTLE, flirt a LITTLE. 

I felt like a fraud, but I tried. Tried to be sexy.

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Sorry, Not Sorry About Having Lots of Kids

Sorry, Not Sorry About Having Lots of Kids

I’ll never forget the nurse in the maternity ward who called me “brave” when she found out that the gap between my twins and this next baby was only 18 months. 

“Thanks for not calling me crazy.” I said with a tremble in my voice as I walked slowly down the hallway in between contractions. My water broke a few moments later. I’ll never forget her, because she didn’t hint at the often unspoken question, “Why would you do this to yourself?”

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The Trauma of War, Porn Addiction, and the Fight for Men to Feel Again

The Trauma of War, Porn Addiction, and the Fight for Men to Feel Again

“Is it worth it to open my heart up, when I know that the reality is that I cannot control the future and I may lose even more?”

It is a question that everyone asks when they face a great loss. What happens to someone when they cannot process sorrow? It is like a congested highway within their souls, cars inching along, struggling to reach an exit. I believe that the trauma of war created a traffic jam of emotions that naturally impacted the next generation.

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Our Family: Official Introductions

We may have never met before, and here I am, writing about matters of the heart, matters of relationship and of finding sanctuary. I thought it would be appropriate for you to know a bit more about me and my family.

If you’d rather not read on, I won’t be offended in any way. But, if you’re curious about our life beyond the curtain, I’m happy to share.

 

First up, the man of the house, is Bryan David.

We met as 18 year-olds, in the summer that we graduated and he quickly became my favorite. I remember riding shotgun in his blue Bronco truck, and after three wild years of re-defining the relationship, {I think I'll share details soon on that season of our life} we began to date in 2006. We got married on a bright, windy day in the November of 2007.

Bryan loves Mexican food, plays drums like a pro, and is passionate about preaching the Word of God. He is loyal and fierce, self-sacrificing and wise.


photo by Jaleesa Matteazzi

photo by Jaleesa Matteazzi

 There are a few key things about him that won my heart:

1. He could always make me laugh. 

(Do you know that statistics show that when looking for a significant other, having a sense of humor is ranked as very important to both men and women. What women usually mean is, "I want him to make me laugh." However, what men usually mean is, "I want her to laugh at my jokes.") I digress. Bryan could and still can make me laugh at ridiculous things. His participation in dad-jokes has definitely gone up, so there's that too.

2. He was always eager to learn. 

Even before we started dating, I saw him studying the Bible, reading others' perspectives and habitually seeking out the wisdom and insight of older men around him and he still does. It is incredible to be married to someone who doesn't think he knows everything.

3. He treats me (and other women) with genuine respect. 

Right from day one, Bryan was a "open-the-door-for-a-lady" kind of guy. He still is. It extends beyond that kind gesture to a lifestyle of caring about and protecting people around him. Including strangers. If there is injustice, Bryan's sheriff badge comes out and you better believe he will step in if necessary. Not only does he use his strength to PROTECT women, he also uses his strength to PROMOTE women. He invites the opinions of women, validates their strengths and doesn't mock their weaknesses. I had no idea how much this would mean to me as the years have passed.

 

There is so much more I could say, but that is a good start.

 

Next, let me tell you  little about our first born, Samuel James. The extroverted, kind-hearted protector. 

He is technically not the oldest because he is a twin, but he was born a full 45 seconds ahead. He never lets us forget that. 

He was born at 38 weeks, weighing 6lb 7oz (and his brother weighing 6lb 11oz). I only share that little detail, because I'm still aghast at the thought that I had over 13 pounds of baby in me.

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I think it must be funny to have an identical twin - a phenomena that not many of us experience. Could you imagine living your whole life hearing the question "Which one are you?"

Unique challenge, unique positives. In light of that, we've always done our best to emphasize the differences in their personalities and not to force them to live identical lives.

Samuel's name means, "Heard of the Lord" or "One who hears the Lord" and we believe that he is someone who will be influential because he will hear from the Lord and because the Lord will hear from him. He is also a naturally protective, observant boy. 

A couple years ago while praying for a word from God for him, I had the sense that Samuel would be a Boaz, like in the Bible, caring for and carrying more weight than was technically expected of him. I often see him watch out for the weak, the young and the vulnerable.

He is imaginative and bold, an idea machine and a natural leader. He is still working on what leadership means; he is genuinely surprised if other kids opt not to follow him because he is so convinced that it would be best if they did. We remind him that the first step in leading is learning to follow.

He doesn't often verbally process, but rather seems to wait until a quiet moment when he can speak with us in solitude. He is naturally physically coordinated and we're pretty sure that his love language is touch. 

On occasion I will put my arms around his shoulders and just squeeze; it makes him melt. His deep-chested laugh makes ME melt.

 

Second in the line-up, is Micah David. The fun-loving, verbal-processing, philosopher. Something unique about Micah is that while I was pregnant with the twins, I had a dream in which someone prayed for me and gave me a word, "One of their names has to be David." The name didn't surprise me. We already had that name in the line-up, as it is a family name from my husband’s side. In my dream I replied, "Oh sure, that's a good one because David means, 'beloved of God'." But the person prophesying to me responded, "Right, but for this child, it will mean, 'friend, supporter and rallier of kings."

So, there's that.

It was so vivid that I've never been able to shake it, and I value the word because in the natural Micah would likely shy away from stepping into bold places of leadership. But, we always remind him that he is made to influence situations even if that doesn't mean he is the loudest voice.

Micah is most like I was as a child, so I am usually sympathetic to his antics. He is carefree, which also could be read "absent-minded". He is philosophical, which could also be read "easily distracted from practical matters to focus on the abstract."

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He is a ten-year-old asking about the meaning of life, but his socks rarely match. We can see that he is a song-writer and has always had a natural ability with vocabulary. He is sensitive to the environment and tends to be a peace-maker. He loves to make people laugh, but is also learning how to stand up for his opinions in a brotherhood of debaters.

As a 4 year-old he once said to my husband, with a sparkle in his eyes, "You're funny, and you have a lot of kids." We'll never forget that one.

 

Third to the party is Hadden Lewis. The introverted, justice-driven, hard-working administrative assistant of all time. We found out that I was pregnant with Hadden when the twins were only 9 months old. He wasn't an "oops" by any means; we had decided that we were ready for another one. Still, when that pregnancy test showed double-lines, my throat tightened and I suddenly faced an incredible level of intimidation. I could barely sleep at all that night; instead I spent it tossing and turning, fearing and praying. Around 6:00am I heard the voice of God cut through the chaos in my mind. "This baby will be a growing delight to you.”

As an infant, it was very clear how that was true. He slept and ate on schedule, and was sleeping through the night within a few months. He was exactly what I needed in that season of also having double toddlers.

 

The next season was not so seamless.

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The personality that thrived on routine and structure as a baby continued to anticipate and demand order. He was very sensitive to anything that disrupted his expectations. From the age of 2-5 he would be overwhelmed by loud noises, temperature inconsistencies, schedule changes, or sensory overload. As a 3 and 4 year old he would lose his temper so often that I became weary and afraid. I was often angry with him for being so intense, and then I would feel ashamed of how angry I felt.

During that season, I clutched firmly to the promise of God that this boy would be a growing delight to me. I was afraid that he had disorders and disabilities, but after being introduced to developmental and attachment theory as explained by Dr. Gordon Neufeld, I found peace. We found new methods to help Hadden navigate his own personality and we were reminded that a heart-connection with our children is what matters most. 

All maturity will flow from that place.

Hadden is 9 years old now, and I am blown away by how much he has grown up. He isn't perfect by any means, but he has a generous, serving heart and is determined to find what is right and hold to it. Most days he has a better memory than I do, and living in this large family demands flexibility from him that he is learning to yield to.

Just recently I was sick, laying out on the couch and Hadden tiptoed over to me, "Mom, are you hungry? If you need anything, just let me know and I will get it for you, okay?"

He literally just now walked into the room and told me that he put all the DVD's back into their cases and then arranged them alphabetically.

Bless that boy. What a delight.

 

Our fourth-born son is Charles Gavin. The introverted, black-or-white, passionate dreamer. Charles means "free man", and we believe that Charlie is going to be a man that experiences the freedom of God's presence. Some of that sense comes from what I've heard God whisper to me, and some of it comes from what I've seen already playing out.

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A couple years ago, while completing a course on developmental theory, I learned that there is a part of the brain (pre-frontal cortex) that is in charge of impulse control. It takes one extreme thought or emotion and tempers it by adding the opposing thought or emotion. 

 

For instance, "Wow, what that person did there makes me feel disrespected and angry. However, I also remember that I love them and care about what happens to them, so I won't retaliate." 

 

This part of the brain slows us down and gives us a chance to grab the steering wheel of our will in order to choose wisely. When this part of the brain is established it diminishes the barbaric in us and makes for a civilized society.

This part of the brain doesn't develop and have the ability to have "mixed emotions" until between the age 5-7.

(And all the parents of young children sighed, determining to be patient. That is your pre-frontal cortex at work even right now. Great job.) For sensitive, intense personalities it can be even a couple years past that.

Charles happens to be a sensitive, passionate personality. One minute he will be confessing his undying love for me and the next, he is ready to abandon ship and hide away from everyone "forever". As a one-year old, he grabbed a toy guitar and laid down on the floor with it, crying and strumming the strings. We had a sense that it was indicative of the brokenness of a psalmist that I believe he will always carry.

For now, until his brain can handle it independently, we serve as his mixing bowl. We are trying to help him form habits of gratitude, forgiveness and hope even when things aren't going his way or he has been wronged.

He loves visual art, music and dance, and stories with a strong emphasis of good versus evil. I've seen in his eyes the stormy seas of sorrow and the brilliant rays of celebration. He loves people, and he also loves times of seclusion, a chance to recollect himself and remember his values. He has only been around for 7 years now; we are still getting to know him and he is still getting to know himself.

 

Last, but certainly not least, is Kaleb Rodney. The extroverted, easy-going, laugh-loving youngest.  One of Kaleb's greatest strengths is that he is doesn't take life too seriously. For the most part, he eats what is in front of him, he picks up toys when I am clear with the directions, and he rarely resists when we have to leave a place or get ready for bed. 

One of Kaleb's greatest weaknesses is that he doesn't take life too seriously. If someone gets hurt, he doesn't feel very remorseful. If he does something rude, he is more likely to laugh than to apologize. He will do almost anything for a laugh. You can imagine the difficulty this creates for us. I shake my head and smile when I think of Kaleb as a 15 year-old. Lord, help us.

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Isn't it ironic that often our amazing attributes also carry with them a tendency for trouble? 

 

I think that one of the greatest assignments we have as parents is to study who our children truly are and help them balance out their weaknesses without discouraging their strengths.

On the afternoon that I found out I was pregnant with Kaleb, I felt the Holy Spirit speak to me and say, "This one will be my friend." I don't believe this word takes anything away from any of my other children, but rather I think it will be a promise for Kaleb to hold on to in the years to come. It has been affirming to watch Kaleb's personality unfold over the years. He does seem to have an especially large capacity for friendship and love. He reaches out to strangers (and their pet dogs) all the time, easily making conversation and engaging with all ages. This past week, while riding our bikes down our street, we saw a neighbour come out whom we have never met before. Kaleb turned to me with bright eyes and literally said, “I’m going to go see her. I LOVE saying ‘hi’ to new people!” Then he peddled away with renewed vigour towards her.

 

So, that's our family. I suppose that I'll take some time another day and share about me too!

 What an adventure having a family is. Bryan and I are sitting in the front row seats of our children's lives, watching and cheering as they grow. They will forever be our boys. We will feel sorrow when they struggle and we will go to bed with smiles on our faces when they experience success. That is family. Sharing the weights and lifting each other up.

Whoever your family is, whether they are biologically so or adopted into your life, I encourage you to see them for who they are made to be and speak blessing over them. Celebrate them and be more than acquaintances.

How We Talk to Our Boys about Porn (Without Actually Talking to Them About Porn)

How We Talk to Our Boys about Porn (Without Actually Talking to Them About Porn)

Mindsets regarding what is normal and healthy have shifted, and we, the adults in the situation, are surrounded and inundated with so much sexuality that the desensitization has led to a darker and darker subsection within pornography. North America has lost her ability to blush. Statistics show that we are also losing the ability to be intimate and vulnerable with real people, in real life because of it.

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