Kuyper Coffee Dates- Tuesday

KuyperCoffeeDates_zpse49f9fa2 Today I’m continuing a week long series called Kuyper Coffee Dates, for more information read up on Day 1.  The short version is as follows:

A beloved college professor of mine gave her students an assignment to select a blog which spoke to spiritual formation, mine was one of the choices.  They had to write a short paper about their reading experiences which included an answer to this question:

“If you could go out for coffee with this writer, what questions would you ask her?”

A few weeks back I got a stack of about 20 college papers, all reflections and questions about my blog.  I was beyond flattered and humbled and I want to answer these  questions as best I can.

So Kuyper Students, readers let’s have coffee, shall we?

Is it hard to do something so public, like sharing your story on a blog, and still give all the glory to God without wanting to keep it for yourself?

Yes and no all at the same time, while it’s easy to puff up with pride when the page views are high and the comments are many, my pit fall seems to be completely losing focus of who gives me the words in the first place.

I do catch myself thinking I’m the shiz every once in a while and when that happens I remind myself that I am just another one of God’s kids who has clumsily managed to be be faithful with gifts I’ve been given.

The best lesson I’ve learned on this subject is that God is the one who is to be glorified in my writing, if I start taking it for myself or start putting my writing above my Creator he swiftly takes away the words.

He won’t fuel me to do something that is taking precedence over our relationship and communion.

Your husband Kel seems like an amazing Father and Husband, how has his spiritual leadership been a part of your journey?

No disputing this one, Kel is an amazing guy, so glad you picked up on that!  Kel and I have already weathered some crazy storms together.  Some moments the pain brought us together, sometimes we allowed it to come between us.

Yet during every painful season Kel rarely left my side.  His quiet prayers and support were the strongest spiritual leadership that he could have possibly shown me.  There were no words that were going to take away the pain I was feeling, so his quiet support was the simple, yet strong leadership I needed.

He loved me in simple ways by putting me to bed early, watching our 1 year old during my two hour baths and putting up with my ever changing moods.  His love was healing and I felt God’s love through his actions.

If someone asked me how to best support a spouse through grief, I would tell them it’s to dole out mountains of grace.

The odds are that your spouse isn’t going to be their usual self for a while so give grace and drop as many expectations as possible. This when they don’t meet your expectations or can’t engage your typical routines you’re not as upset or surprised.

I would ask Leanne how she has been able to go through all this grief and pain and still have such a strong and unwavering faith in God?

Okay, I am so glad that you got unwavering from my writing but to be honest with you, it’s felt very… waivery.

I’ve been angry, cynical and I’ve as good as given God the silent treatment.  There have been seasons where my most prominent prayers have been little more than: “What the hell are you doing here?” and “Please just sustain us.”

Yet I will tell you that not even once did I consider walking away from my faith. I screamed, threw selfish tantrums and bought into a hundred useless lies but I knew I wasn’t going anywhere.  God was my Father, even though I was one of his most pissed off and petulant kids.

I don’t know how I did that, I was real with my community of faith, they knew I was angry and in no mood for trite platitudes.  I don’t have any tips or tricks on this one, just keep talking to God, keep taking steps out of your anger and cynicism and he will be faithful to lead you into healing.

Saved by the Dough

You know the song lyric: “We need a little Christmas, right this very minute, we need a little Christmas now” ?

That perfectly describes the atmosphere in our home yesterday.

Yesterday there were tears and silence, I wept through church, dear reader there is so much I’m not ready to unveil here yet, but when I can, I will.  I promise.

So yesterday I decided that part of our aching may be soothed with a few twinkle lights and some nostalgia. Christmas has historically been the best part of my year, where my family managed to forget the sickness and pain and find joy together.

I grew up measuring my year by it, how many months until Christmas?

Grieving my parents has certainly messed with my feelings about Christmas but I still try to breathe it as deeply as I can, even if it stings a little bit.

So, yesterday we put up our grove of Christmas trees.  No ornaments yet, just the three white lighted trees that spend December in the corner of our living room.  I haven’t even fluffed the branches out yet, they look a little sad but they still do the trick.

Then I shattered a Bath and Body Works Wallflower refill on the tile floor that runs past our living room and the atmosphere really took on a Christmas feel, er.. smell.  Plus the added danger of cleaning up chards of glass while the little ones attempt to investigate the mess.

Then to top is all off we spent the evening listening to Christmas music and baking my Dad’s famous Christmas cookies.  Something about standing over that huge bowl of cookie dough, like I had every year for as  long as I can remember, healed me a bit.

Everything we’re going through, my Dad endured too.  All the gossip, the inner anger and bitterness, he walked through it.  I also know that he came out of it and wanted his children to live with the knowledge that men’s praise does NOT matter.  It’s not why we’re here.

He wanted his kids to be free from people pleasing, from legalism, from caring what other people think of God’s call on their lives.

Somehow in the cookie dough I found that reminder.  I was rejoined to who I am and why I’m here.

Then I ate 3 cookies and fell asleep on Kel’s lap at 8:30.

I think that in December I may share our family’s Christmas cookie recipes with you, what do you think?

What’s something that grounds you to who you are and why you’re here these days?

Real Connection from Real People (you guys!)

On Tuesday I asked you all to share your tips and practices for staying connected with your spouse in the midst of crazy busy life.  If I’ve learned one thing from focusing on this subject it is this:  You have to make connection work for you, you cannot CANNOT wait for the perfect circumstances.

Basically, if you connect in small, simple ways regularly and plan special outings occasionally you will give your marriage room to be and grow.

Here are few ways in which you all are staying connected in every day life.
Thank you all so much for sharing your lives in this way.  It’s been such a blessing

1) Natalie and Michael Summers (Married 10 years) Me and Michael try to do a hump day lunch day!  We meet for lunch on Wednesday each week.  It gives us a chance to have adult conversation without listening ears present!  We started doing this a couple of years ago and it really helped keep us sane when we got foster kiddos!  

2) John and Jill Burden– (Married 4 Years)  John and I have a secret message for communicating our love; when we are in public and are feeling lovey dovey toward the other person, we will squeeze the other person’s leg, arm, or hand three times for, “I love you.” Still gives us the butterflies for one another! There is something about having that little gesture between just the two of us that makes us feel closely connected.

3) Lauri and Shannon Rowe (Married 16 years) Weekend getaways. They work wonders for our marriage. The trick is to not think getaways are only for when you are getting along. The best time to take them is when you are frustrated with each other. That is when you need to get alone and remember why you chose each other for this crazy journey. The other thing that is a must is SEX! Yep I said it, do it often, do it well and do it even when you are tired and not in the mood. It is a gift God gives couples and it will reconnect you even when your heart may not be in it.

 4) Mr & Miss Banana Pants  (Married 8 years)  One of the ways that we’ve found is making new tangible memories almost weekly. So much of one’s romance and fun and spontaneity is in the very beginning, when everything is exciting and new and lighthearted. You laugh, you joke, you pose for silly pictures….we decided to bring a bit of that back. We love to take silly pictures of us doing simple things together. The photos I’ve included are us doing the mundane, but making them goofy by taking pics of the moment. One day we decided to stop at a discount store and try on sunglasses, hence the shades with staches! Ha! One is just driving down the road to pick up the kids from Wednesday night church. The other is us enjoying a evening in spring on our bench on the patio just chatting. Nothing new and exciting, but just by whipping out the camera and snapping away, it changed the mood that can sometimes be too serious and too much about the finances or the kids, back to being about us and living in the moment. They are also so cute to look back on in those rough times and smile at your goofy expressions and remember, “Yep, I still do really love that guy.” 

5) Brian and Hannah Harrison (married 7, almost 8 years)  No matter what the day has brought or the evening holds we made it a point to eat dinner together.  Even if he comes home from work and goes then leaves for practice an hour later, we know we have that point of connection.  

6) Dan & Sarah Cody (Married 5 years) We connect on the front porch with a glass of wine or cappuccino after the kids have gone to bed, One of my favorite parts of the day!

7) David & Sally Verkaik (Married 28 years)  This is a shout out to my parent’s marriage, which despite all their bumps was strong and so very faithful.  I remember at least once a week my parents would drive to our local Burger King, which overlooked a hilly field.  They would each order a Hershey Pie and Coffee from BK  and chat in the front seats over coffee and dessert.  

8) Jennifer & Kurt Luitwieler (Married 17 years) – They are just dorky. We text thought the day, sharing stupid things we’ve seen. We post inside jokes on Facebook like teenagers. But mostly, I know Kurt LOVES it when as I pass him, I just give him a touch. An arm, or across his back. Anything. He loves it.

9) Kel & Leanne Penny (Married 6 years) Kel and I try to set a “date night in” and make a somewhat nicer dinner with a bottle of wine after the kids go to bed.  On the night of opening ceremonies we had a London themed Date night in our PJs.  Even on the nights where we crash on the couch we try to lay on the same one and touch so even though we’re zoned out, we’re doing it together.  

So I hope we can all gain a little inspiration for each other and find a way to connect with our spouses intentionally over the weekend.

Thanks for all your thought and comments over this Marriage Week, now I do believe I will take the weekend off and eat a cookie.

But if you have additional ideas leave them in the comment section and let me know which of these inspire you enough to try!

crazy busy connection (let’s share our secrets)

Tell us how you connect? It doesn’t have to involve Miami Vice attire.

I believe that every couple should have a date night at least once a week.  Before you respond with a resounding “yeah right!” please read on.

Kel and I go out together sans kids maybe once every other month, yet we still try to have a date night once a week.  It doesn’t need to be fancy, it’s often just the two of us eating sundaes over a game of scrabble or sharing a late dinner with cheap wine after the kids go to bed.

Because let’s be honest, how many of us have the money to pay for a sitter AND dinner out once a week?  Honestly?  We don’t.

So we have to get creative, and I bet you do too.  Along these lines, I’m asking you to do me a solid, give me a belated anniversary present

Will you give me your best advice on how you and your significant other manage to connect in the midst of your crazy busy lives?  Despite exhaustion and the pull of zoning out in front of the TV, how do you make time to really see each other?

It can be something you do daily, weekly, or even once in a while, but I would love you to give me the gift of your creative connection ideas.

Here’s the deal, we are all going to share our best ideas on intentional connection in marriage by:

1) Submitting your ideas to me via email (leannerae@gmail.com) or commenting below or via Facebook
2) I’d love it if you include a story of why it works, make it personal!
3) I’d love it even more if you include a picture of you and your special someone.

Then Friday I’m going to share our stories and ideas here on the blog and that weekend we can all do something new to connect in our marriages.

So, are you in?  Will you share your secrets on keeping it sweet and even a little spicy?

Road Trip & Hungry for Connection

Good morning from Holland, Michigan!  We had a somewhat safe drive up North save for a very intense blown tire while I was driving the van just outside of Chicago at rush hour.

Luckily God provided with a durable spare and a nearby tire shop.  Total props to Kel who laid down on the dirty highway shoulder to take care of business, he’s a real life super hero.  Send Capes.

This is how we roll in a tire shop

seriously blown and smoking tire.

We are still recovering from our 1,000 mile, straight thru car trip but I am excited to share with you the link to the online version of my first published, print article with “The Banner, The Official Magazine of the Christian Reformed Church.”

Hungry For Connection

“I feel as if I’ve been hungry for a long time. Absolutely starving, really—I mean the kind of hungry you feel when you’re ready to tuck into a holiday feast complete with pie and appetizers. The thing is, this hunger I’ve got is not for food—although I love food; don’t get me wrong.

What I’m really hungry for is time to connect with friends and family. I crave a long, satisfying meal filled with delicious food, infectious laughter, and that comfortable feeling you have when you know you are completely safe with someone. When you don’t fear judgment because you know you’re loved and known.

Most of my communication these days comes from texts, tweets, and e-messages in at least a million forms. These forms of relating are like saltines for my hungry soul. When you’re so hungry you could eat your own arm and someone hands you one saltine, it’s a joke! You might be thankful for a little something to chew on, but you need a whole lot more than one salty little morsel to satisfy your hunger.”

To finish up this article, go to the Banner’s online magazine to read on.

As for us, we’re off to the beach.

My passover connection

Kel prefers the Old Testament over the New One.  He likes it way old school and some of this had rubbed off on me.  We talk every now and then about why as New Testament Christians we often fail to connect our practices with those found in the Old Testament.  I think that we are missing out on some significant truth by practicing mainly NT Traditions.  So, since Kel likes to keep it OT and for the past three years I have prepared a passover feast for the college students we minister to.

The main event of preparing passover is roasting the leg of lamb, and yes I am glad you asked, I have a few pictures of these previous lamb legs.

1) Year one, an “Oh %#&* I have no idea what I am doing” kind of year which involved me thawing a leg of lamb in my bathtub.

Bet you've only had human legs in your bathtub.

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