Friday, April 29, 2011

An Attitude of Gratitude

The past couple weeks have been rather trying for me.  My fiance' has been struggling with some health issues, issues that might be relatively minor OR issues that might completely alter life as we now know it ... and as we ponder all the "what ifs" and "maybes" that these issues encompass, it is all too easy to focus on and worry over the "worst case scenarios" rather than on the positive ones.  What is UP with that?!  We know a God who loves us, who is bigger than all of these things, who has gone before, who knows the end of the story, who is working even these things for our good, who sent His son so that we WILL one day live with Him forever in an Eternal "Best Case Scenario"!

Today, I want to remember that when we are faced with uncertainty and with struggles, with rain clouds and tears and sleepless nights and heartaches and questions that have no answers ... we do know a God who will love us NO MATTER WHAT ... and who cares and tends to us in our need, knowing always what we are needing, and being good to provide for us.  We know a God who is the Answer to the unanswerable.  Praise God that we can access His Love ANYTIME!!! 

Paul asks the question, "Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword?" (Romans 8:35)  The answer is one that I receive with great joy, "No power in the sky above or in the earth below--indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord."  (Romans 8:39)  What more do we need to know?!  I mean, really?!  He loves us. 

I find it all too easy to slip into an attitude of fearfulness when presented with uncertainty, the unknown, change.  I want to KNOW what's gonna happen next!  I want predictability and stability and certainty.  Arghhhh!  Not KNOWING scares me!  It is at these moments when I see fear knocking at the door of my heart that I have a choice to make.  I can let it in, or I can send it packing!  Scripture tells me, "For God did not give us a spirit of timidity but one of power, love, and self-discipline."  (2 Timothy 1:7)  As a daughter of the King, I possess the power to rebuke Fear.  The trick is remembering to do so!  When I do remember, it is not always pretty ... but it is always effective.  In fact, if you were a passenger in my car a few weeks ago, you might have thought me a raving lunatic as I shouted over and over, "In the name of Jesus, I rebuke you, spirit of fear and of shame.  You have no place here!  In the name of Jesus, I rebuke you, spirit of fear and of shame.  You have no place here!"  I tell you what, though.  When I had ranted on and on for some time, I felt the Spirit replace my fear with an outpouring of peace and love, and I am reminded, "There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves punishment, and the one who fears is not perfected in love."  (1 John 4:18)

After my oldest son was born, I suffered from terrible, crippling post-partum depression.  As part of my recovery process, I kept a gratitude journal in which I ended every day by recording at least 5 items for which I was thankful that day.  Sometimes, I stopped at number two.  Sometimes, I would struggle to even get started.  I'd think, "I guess I could write,  1)  I am alive." ... but then I'd think, "Nah ... I am NOT thankful for that today."  Grrr.  What a dark place.  Always though, I'd come up with something ... one example from my journal ... "1)  My cats who love to be near me.  2)  230 ct. sateen cotton sheets.  3)  2-minute downpours.  4)  People who support our business.  5)  My mom."  I discovered that  it became easier to come up with things as this became a habit.  Approaching life with gratitude is a discipline for me ... it is not natural.  Thank goodness, that as Paul noted in 1 Timothy, God has given me a spirit of self-discipline.  I can, in fact, do what is unnatural to me when I am in Christ.  In fact, Philippians 4:13 tells me that "I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength."

So, this morning, I am beginning the day with an attitude of gratitude.  I am blessed.  God has given me two jobs that I LOVE, friends who care for me, two boys who know and love the Lord, a man who thinks the world of me, a roof over my head, sunshine this morning and dew on the grass, and unlimited access to Him through His Word and the Spirit.  *sigh*  Blessed, indeed.  My prayer is that, as I walk through this day, my eyes, ears and heart would be open to seeing, hearing, and responding to the blessings He has certainly already placed in my path.

"This is the day the LORD has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it." (Psalm 118:24)

Sunday, April 10, 2011


August 3, 2010.

That is the date of my last post on this blog. 

I count off the months on my fingers.  8.  Eight months.  In my world, 8 months is a lifetime. 

Since my last post, I've picked up a second job, gotten divorced, sold my house, moved, met a man, fell in love, got engaged ... learned a LOT.  Learned more than I think I've learned in my entire 37 years to date.  Also, UNlearned much of what I've learned in the past 37 years ... and am still learning.  Lotsa learning and unlearning going on.

When I logged on here tonight, I wasn't sure what would happen when I put my fingers to the keyboard.  I've MISSED this.  ALOT!!!  I've been a little afraid to resume for fear that I'd sit in front of the screen ... and nothing would happen. 

Apparently, that is not the case. 

Lately, I've been grieving all sorts of things.  I very much grieve for the time that I no longer get with my sons.  I have my boys under my roof just 50% of the time.  From 100% to 50%.  I've gone from having tabs on them 24/7 to having them 1/2 time ... and 1/2 of the 1/2 time, I am distracted by the responsibilities associated with the two jobs that I am juggling.  I am grieving that I no longer tuck my boys in every night ... that I no longer see them off to school every day ... that I no longer find time to eat lunch with them at school ... that I no longer know all their friends.  I miss them.

I am grieving regular time with my closest friends who are still stay-at-home mamas, still able to connect with one another ...  I miss the flexibility I used to have - I miss the TIME I used to have.  I miss having friends over for coffee or for bible study.  I miss being available to minister to my friends ... or to anyone for that matter.

I miss my old neighborhood where my son's best friend lived next door and spent nearly as much time in our living room as he did in hers.  Back and forth.  Revolving door.

I miss blogging and ministering to women.  God put these two in my heart - to encourage and inspire other women ... and to write.  I'm not the most inspirational person you'll EVER meet ... and not the best writer you'll EVER read - but, nonetheless, I know that I know that I know that these are areas that God wants to use me.

And that is why I am here tonight at my desk.


Feeling the grief wash over me tonight, I turned to the Lord in prayer ... and was reminded that I've NOT been obedient to His nudges these past few months.  Thrice in the past couple months, women have contacted me seemingly out of the blue to tell me that my blog is so inspiring to them.  Truly ... out of the blue!  I haven't blogged since ... August 3!  Eight months!!!  In my mind, "out of the blue" contacts = God nudges ... reminders that He has something for me to do besides working 2 jobs, raising 2 kids, nurturing a new relationship, caring for a home and a dog ... He has given me a special assignment. 

I've used all sorts of excuses to not post anything.

Well, okay ... just one excuse actually. 

"Too Busy."

Its a good one.  Right?  Who's gonna argue with that ... I've got the endless lists to prove it.  I AM busy ... but is that an excuse for avoiding what God's asking me to do?

Absolutely not.

So ... in spite of the fact that I'm beat and need to crawl off to bed here sooner rather than later ... I am obediently typing out whatever comes to my mind ... and praying that God will bless my efforts.  I pray that as I type, the sweet odor of "offering" rises from the keyboard.

God, this is for you.

I love you.

"If you are willing and obedient, you will eat the best from the land."

~ Isaiah 1:19

Looking forward to the feast,
Kris Ann

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

UFO Days

I've been MIA the past couple weeks because this is PEAK season for me in Children's Ministry.  My plate is never fuller than in the month of July!!! 

On July 19-22, ministry leaders from 3 other local churches and myself organize a 4-day nightly outdoor adventure for the tweens in our community.  We gather together 4th-8th graders, feed them, and then cart them off to a different destination each night from 5-8 pm.  This year, we took them to the challenge course at UWStout, on a hiking/scavenger hunt at Menomin City Park, put them to work at Refuge Farms (a rescue for abused/abandoned horses), and then capped the week off by canoeing the Red Cedar River.  I'll share some photo highlights in a later post!!  It was tons of fun ... such a great opportunity to laugh and build relationship with these young people.

The following week, July 25-29, I partnered with another local church to offer Vacation Bible School for kiddos age 3 through 5th grade, also every night from 5-8pm ... and ALSO tons of fun.  Kids are SUCH good soil for planting seeds.  They really get God and His Love.  So fun to hang out with them and participate in their spiritual growth.  Will post pics from that later, too.

In between these two events was a fundraiser for my local mom ministry, SAMmy's, on July 23-24.

I just might be insane!  ;-P

Anyhoodle ...

I am posting a few pics from the fundraiser.  We set up a thrift sale, a snack stand, and face painting in Elmwood, Wisconsin during their UFO Days festival.  Yes, UFO Days.  Elmwood is the UFO capital of Wisconsin.  Now you know.  ;-)  If you're dying to know why, here are the deets.

This was huge undertaking, and I can only take minimal credit.  We had some rockin' volunteers who worked themselves silly putting this all together.  Our objective was 3-fold. 
  1. To raise $$$ so that we can provide childcare weekly ... and offer scholarships to our mommies for annual Retreat in Bloomington, MN. 
  2. To be visible in the community and connect with moms who are needing the sort of fellowship and encouagement that SAMmy's offers.
  3. To work shoulder to shoulder with our sisters in Christ.  Nothing bonds us together like laboring together with a common heart and goal.
I think we succeeded on all counts!  Praise God!!!  :-)

On to the pics ...

Our very own SAMmy's face painting artist, S, who also serves on our Leadership Team.

S brought posters to inspire our customers.

Full face tattoo in progress.

My X gets a full tiger face.

We offered FREE ichthys (Jesus Fish) ... and had lots of takers.

Another Ichthys.

TJ and his best pal Z.

 Showing off their UFO head gear.

Loved these girls who LOVED our facepainting! 
How cute are they as they wait to race in UFO Days bed race?
Maybe I don't get out enough,
but this was the first time I've ever even heard of a bed race!

After the bed races, my boys and I hit the petting zoo.
Here's TJ wearing a shirt that he and his pal, Z,
decorated with fabric paint specifically for UFO Days; 
 it has aliens and space ships all over it. 

X and I with a new feline friend.

Blessings this day and ALL days!

In Him,
Kris Ann

Sunday, July 18, 2010

The D-Word

Oh, how long it has been since I blogged here.  Its certainly has NOT been for lack of anything to write. 
Au contraire, mon frere.  My life has been full of overmuch to write about.  Overmuch.

The short of it is this ... I'm nearing the end of a divorce.


The long of it is ... a novel.

I have neither the time nor the space to share all the details.  Nor do I wish to malign my soon-to-be ex.  What I DO want to do ... and am so thrilled to do ... is tell you that I serve SUCH a great God.  He has been an ever-present help in my time of trouble, a refuge, and my strength.

My experience with Divorce is that it is awful ... devastating.  In Malachi 2:16, God declares, "I hate divorce."  Though I seldom use a word so strong as hate, I couldn't agree more.  I hate divorce.  It is horrible, a ripping apart of what had once been joined together.  It is bloody and messy and painful.  I've never experienced such grief as I did in the aftermath of accepting that this marriage had passed the point of restoration save a miracle.  And I believe in miracles.  But to accept that no miracle was coming ... arghhh ... so painful.

Through all the suffering, though, God provided such sweetness in my life.  I've never suffered more, but neither have I felt Him so close, so comforting. 

Over the past couple weeks, I've emerged from a dark wood into the dawn that breaks just before the morning.  I feel good.  I feel whole.  I feel healthy.  And that is ALL God. 

My husband moved out in January following a domestic incident, and later in April filed for divorce.  Since the separation, I have participated in weekly counseling, leaned on my amazing friends, and submitted myself before the Lord.  I was determined that if I must go through the grief and anguish of a divorce, then at the very least, I was going to emerge from it healed and whole ... and I have!

Over the course of the past year, I have kept a private blog detailing the uglier issues in my marriage and subsequent separation, and finally divorce.  I share this openly with a small group of sisters in Christ - each of whom He specifically identified for me - and in turn, they have encouraged me, strengthened me, ministered to me, and prayed for me.  In that blog, on December 23, 2009, I wrote the following:

The First Gleam of Dawn

The path of the righteous is like the first gleam of dawn,
shining ever brighter till the full light of day.
But the way of the wicked is like deep darkness;
they do not know what makes them stumble.
My son, pay attention to what I say;
listen closely to my words.
Do not let them out of your sight,
keep them within your heart;
for they are life to those who find them
and health to a man's whole body.
Above all else, guard your heart,
for it is the wellspring of life.
Put away perversity from your mouth;
keep corrupt talk far from your lips.
Let your eyes look straight ahead,
fix your gaze directly before you.
Make level paths for your feet
and take only ways that are firm.
Do not swerve to the right or the left;
keep your foot from evil.
-Proverbs 4 (18-27)

So, my journey at present has been characterized as a dark woods. When N and J prayed for me yesterday, N specifically asked that His Light might pierce the darkness. As we lifted our heads from prayer, I saw tears shining in J's eyes and she said, "I just saw the dark woods - and the tops of the trees are flooded with Light."

I LOVE that. In the dark woods, I see only dark ... and more dark.  But if I were to see outside of the woods, I would know that it is completely bathed in Light.  It reminds me of Proverb 4:18 where the righteous path is lit at first with the smallest rays of light - just as the sun first peeking over the horizon pierces the dark with the thinnest laser of light. But as you continue to walk the path, the light grows until you look around and realize, "Oh, the sun is shining full on me!" The full light of day.

I see the First Gleam of this particular leg of my journey - though I've seen His Light for quite some time - and it has been my guide.

Praise be to God.
Today, I had an epiphany related to that post.  Today, I feel as though I've stepped out of the woods, into the dawn, and am about to bask in the sunshine.  It feels so good!  SO GOOD!!!  I feel unbound.  I feel a joy and a peace and a wholeness that I've never before experienced.

And that is a miracle!

The following is a verse that has been such a comfort ... and a reality for me ... as I have journeyed this broken road.

The LORD your God is with you,

he is mighty to save.
He will take great delight in you,
he will quiet you with his love,
he will rejoice over you with singing."
-Zephaniah 3:17

Monday, April 5, 2010

Friends like Family

Easter Sunday, I spent the afternoon with a couple of my favorite peeps, J and N - at J's house.
These friends are family to me.

N and I.

N, holding J's little E.

N's hubby, S with Micro S.

J's Papa C carves the super juicy Easter ham.

N's Little Miss H checks on Papa C's progress.

After our tummies are properly stuffed, H and Mini S hunt for eggs in J's backyard.

Little Miss E gets in on the egg action.

H and Mini S waste no time breaking in their new bubble blowers.

Hope your Easter was as much a treat as mine was!

Kris Ann
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