Category: Everyday Life

Women of Faith- Philly edition

This past weekend I had the opportunity to attend the Women of Faith conference here in Philadelphia because of Thomas Nelson’s great generosity*.

Perhaps it would sound cliche for me to say “I laughed, I cried, I experienced God.” But…. I did. I probably shed tears during one point in every woman’s talk both because I felt deep compassion for them as they shared a difficult part of their story, but also because I found myself identifying with them in that struggle.

On Friday (the first day of the event), we were blessed to hear from Sheila Walsh and Henry Cloud (yes, folks, they did allow a man to be there! :)). Henry and Sheila have been friends for a loooooong time, and it certainly showed. You could tell how much they cared for and respected one another during the time of question and answer. I enjoyed how comfortable they were to display such close relationship between 2 people of the opposite sex who were married to other people. It just doesn’t happen all that often in christian circles.

I must admit that I went home on Friday night feeling happy that I was able to attend the conference, but feeling like I was definitely not in their target audience. The speakers were older and talked about issues that I was dealing with in some ways, but not at the moment.

But then Saturday happened. I felt like God met me in each and every session, pressing gently on different parts of my life through what the speakers shared about how God has, and is, teaching them more about Him. One woman shared of her struggle with anger, and how just as her book came out about it, her marriage ended. Another shared, through tears, her experience of grief and confusion as she carried, and then delivered, a child whom had no chance to live, outside of a miracle. Another shared how she had been put into a “loony bin” while in seminary, and how that was the place she had been running from all her life. These stories were real, powerful, and not pretty. The speakers put no glossy veneer on their stories– they shared as if they were sharing with a friend.

The content of the weekend was just really really good, and totally not a “girly” conference. The issues were not about mommy wars, modesty, singleness, marriage, parenthood (much of what I think of when I think of “woman issues”). Instead, they were about those deeper things that lurk inside of all humans- anger, selfishness, fear, depression, codependency. I only wish I could host each of these speakers to my house for dinner each week to talk more in depth about their stories.

There were a few things that kinda irked me about the conference though, and while I don’t want to nitpick, these are things that actually mean something to me. First, is that the delicious boxed lunches were given to us in styrofoam boxes (those things will never biodegrade!), and although we had bottles of water included, there were no recycling bins set up. Environmental stewardship is a theological issue to me, and when a group neglects this area, it says something about their theology too. Anyway, that was kinda disappointing. Another thing I was disappointed in was that, as we were waiting to come into the conference on Friday, some women were giving out Harlequin romance novels, Christian version. Now, I don’t know if they were supposed to be doing that or not, but it kinda set me off on the wrong foot,  thinking Women of Faith was endorsing such trash. If I had to guess, I would say they didn’t know about it because it didn’t line up with the kind of message they were sending from the stage.

Finally, one thing I would have LOVED is more resource booths set up around the arena with information on various women’s issues (i.e. eating disorders, cutting, parenting, mercy ministries, etc.). I suggested it on the evaluation card because I think it would be such a great ministry to many of the women attending.

* gave me 2 tickets to attend Women of Faith in exchange for a post about my experience. How kind are they?!

Nothin’ Like a Good Movie

You know how sometimes you watch a certain kind of movie, and it makes you want to be a better person? The credits begin to roll, and you think, “wow. things could be different. i can do something to make things better for others.” I think this feeling, this inspiration, this letting go of the imagination, is similar to what Jesus was hoping for when he used His parables to teach on the Kingdom of God (KoG). He wanted to stir our insides, giving us a glimpse into the “not yet” so that we could be working in the “already here.”

Jesus’ parables “draw us into the kingdom world and then they set us back down in this world hungering for more, hungering for a kingdom kind of world now” (Scot McKnight, One.Life, p. 38).

What better way to teach someone about the KoG than showing them what it looks like? Stirring their imaginations towards what could be?

[This is why I really love The Simple Way’s series of DVDs entitled “Another World is Possible.” I would have totally named my blog that if I didn’t suspect they had a copyright on it ;). ]

What are some of those movies that have moved you towards Kingdom living? What movies would you use in teaching to help illustrate the KoG?

I’ll start…To End All Wars was one of those for me, as it relates to grace and peace.

I’m all “Mommy blog”-ged out.

I’m starting to get a little tired of reading mommy blogs.

But why? you ask. Tiffany, you are a mom. You love to blog. You love to do crafty things and projects and stay organized.

Indeed. I do enjoy reading about what others are doing, and how I can do some of the same. I like to read how different moms deal with potty training, travelling long distances with young children, and fun recipes that are healthy and easy for kids. I like when mommy bloggers put up free printables that I can download and use for my kids.

But I don’t like the hurriedness, overachievingness, perfection, and judgementalism that many of these mommy bloggers put off. What? Your kids sometimes play video games? You mean your daughter is 2.5 and NOT potty-trained already? You don’t go outside and play everyday? Your kids’ 5/6 fruits and veggies a day was mostly fruit? Sigh.

I admit it.

Sometimes I turn on a video so that I can close my eyes and rest.

Sometimes I give the kids crackers instead a fruit or vegetable for a snack.

Sometimes we stay in our pajamas until right before lunch time.

I let my kids jump on my bed pretty much whenever they want.

We barely get our “5 a day” in many days.

I’m not a perfect mom and could never be a “mommy blogger.” I love hearing and posting about projects, crafts, ideas, stories, and recipes. But no thanks on all the other stuff that comes with it. Maybe we need a different genre of blogs by women who are also mothers. Authentic, helpful, interesting, and fun blogs for others who have or spend their day caring for children.


Jake and I love books, so it’s no surprise that we own a lot of them. Because we’ve been living in small places for the past several years, my mom and dad have been storing a lot of our books in their storage shed. Now that we’re further away and in a place that has a nice sized basement, we decided it was time for the books to come home.

But now that we have all of these books, what do we do with them? We considered getting a bunch of bookshelves, but then decided it wasn’t the right time to invest in quality shelves. Instead, we are cataloguing our books, and then storing them in boxes in the basement, each box labeled with a number.  That way, if i we know which book we want, we just have to look it up and see what box it’s stored in. Of course, it makes it harder to peruse our bookshelf, something we love to do, but at least we have access to them all again.

On Facebook, I’m hosting a friendly game- “guess how many books are in jake and tiffany’s library”…one of the comments got me thinking about why we had so many books. For some people, it’s a status thing. For others, it’s because they are pack rats. For us, it’s because we love to read, and then share that reading with others.

We read. We reread. We pick up a book and just read a little chunk. We write and like to reference books. We suggest books to others. We loan out books. We give away books. We pick up books at library book sales that look interesting, or that we think could be useful to someone else.

My favorite part of it all is reading a book and then coming across someone that I can recommend the book to, or give a copy to because they really need it. Books have been transformative in my life- whether something has given me a new perspective, taught me something new, or brought me to another place. I hope that they can be transformative for another person as well. I actually see it as one of my purposes in life to help people find resources that will help heal, transform, and enrich their lives.

We also have a lot of books because Jake and I are interested in different genres. Jake’s collection includes science fiction, math textbooks, classics, poetry, plays, education, and some books he liked as a teen that he is saving for Asante.  I, on the other hand, have a lot of girl-issue books, christian non-fiction, parenting, and marriage. Our interests overlap some in the christian, theology, and parenting areas.

So, all of this to say, we love books and are well on our way to building our own library. We hope someday we will live in a place where we can have a room dedicated to books, reading and resourcing.

(Is it any surprise that Belle has always been my favorite Disney princess?)

Come Lord Jesus

Tonight I’m learning how to rejoice with those who rejoice and mourn with those who mourn. I’m celebrating with friends over the birth of their new baby boy … and mourning with some friends over their baby (in utero) diagnosed with a fatal condition.  Thanking God for new life on one hand, and in tears over the loss of hope for another.

Isn’t this how it is for us all? Caught in the tension of this beautiful mess that we live in.

Come Lord Jesus.

Spring Baskets

In our family’s attempt to create meaningful traditions, instead of doing Easter baskets this year, we’re going to go with Spring Baskets.

Spring baskets are really just the traditional Easter basket, but with a twist. Instead of the kids getting a basket on Sunday, we’re going to give them on Monday after dinner in celebration of the coming of Spring! So far we have fun popable baskets in the shape of bunnies. In it we’ll put some little spring-ish toys and a little bit of candy that we will buy on Monday (gotta love Easter clearance sale), including our childrens’ first ever PEZ dispensers.

Asante’s Movie Marathon

Today was Asante’s 10 hour movie marathon!

Asante and Aly get to share 1 hour of DVD-time a day. Asante mentioned one day that he wanted to watch movies all day long. So, we offered him the chance, saying that he could save up all or part of each day’s DVD allotment to get to 10 hours. Once he got that time, he could redeem it for a day of movie watching! We were also wanting to help Asante grow in his ability to delay gratification and to save for something he really wants.

Asante’s day went something like this:

8:00a Wake-Up

Mom: “Asante, good morning! Today is your movie marathon!”

Asante: “Yeah. Where’s Aly?”

Mom: “Daddy, Aly and Ada are out getting Ada’s shots.”

Asante: “Oh, well, I will wait for Aly to start because I think she would really like to watch with me.”

Such a sweet brother! I convinced him to choose a movie that Aly wouldn’t want to watch and go ahead and start without her.

8:05: Bill Nye Astronomy

Mom: “So, what’d you think?”

Asante: “A guy named Galileo said the sun orbited the earth. That’s funny, Mommy!” (i think he got his people mixed up =))

8:45a  Calling All Engines! (Thomas and Friend)

9:50a  Madagascar 2

I think the story line was moving too slow for him, so he stopped after 30 minutes.

10:30  Math to the Moon (Leapfrog) … on the ipad

11:00  Jumping Jacks and Pushups to get the blood flowing

11:05 Played some Labyrinth on the ipad (we counted this because it’s screen time)

11:30 Played outside for awhile

11:50 lunch

12:15 More Labyrinth, some Hooked on Phonics Reading with Dad, more Labyrinth

1:15 A Scholastic DVD, featuring The True Story of the Three Little Pigs

2:15 More Labyrinth

4:00 Toy Story

5:30 Dinner

6:00 Short documentary of Harriet Tubman

6:30 Clean-up, Books and Bed!

Whew! What a day. He only used 8 hours today, so we’ll go ahead and give him the extra time tomorrow. I think by the end of the day he was pretty worn out by watching TV. 🙂

If you had the opportunity to have a 10 hour movie marathon, what movies would you choose?!

Happy St. Patty’s Day!

After the kids had picked out their clothes and gotten dressed, I realized it was St. Patrick’s Day. In a much excited voice, I asked the kids if they wanted to change into some GREEN shirts. They both looked at me and flatly said, “No.” I did a little more excited voice encouraging, but I couldn’t get them to change. SO, I decided to offer a few chocolate chips if they changed. They immediately decided that would be “just fine.”

After class, we decided to make a last minute treat– Pot O Gold Chex Mix. It was yummy- I’d recommend it! This is also a very kid-friendly recipe, so all you mommas, be sure to save this if you’re looking for a cooking project with the kids. Aly (2) and Asante (3) were able to do a lot of pouring and stirring.

So what about you, what did you do to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day?!

Ideas and Words

In light of the Rob Bell controversy, I have been reflecting on my life and my use of words and ideas.

Sometimes I use ideas in a wrong way. I use ideas to gain power over people. I use ideas to make myself look better than I really am. I use ideas to display something on the outside that isn’t there on the inside. I use ideas to make me look smarter than I feel. I use ideas to gain access to people that I wouldn’t otherwise gain access to. I use ideas to seek approval, affirmation, or being on the “inside”. I use ideas to “other” people.

Sometimes I use words in harmful ways. I belittle. I tear down. I call out people for saying things that I perceive to be false (whether that be about life, about Scripture, etc.) in ways that discourage dialogue and make someone out to be the enemy. I make people feel small. I make people feel dumb. I make people feel like they have nothing to contribute to a conversation. I write things or say things about people that I would never say to their faces. I use words to “other” people.

I have been on the giving end and the receiving end of both of these inappropriate uses of ideas and words. And for where my use of words and ideas have damaged people and damaged the advancement of the Kingdom of God and the unity of the church, I apologize.

New Year Gift

Instead of celebrating the day of Christmas by gift-giving, we decided to give gifts on New Years morning! Jake’s gift for me was still “in-process” but I received it last week and just had to show it off =).

Jake made me 6 badges, representing things in my life that he wanted to celebrate with me. Here they are, along with the descriptions.

Please note that he sewed these himself! It seriously took hours of work. So thoughtful. I’m now looking for the perfect canvas bag to sew them on so I can sport them around.