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May 31, 2011

How to Discern a Call

The phrase "discerning a call" has come up several times in different situations over the last month. And it's starting to make me think.

One instance was last week at a church council meeting (where I take minutes). The new intern introduced himself and said he was there trying to discern his call. He's just a young kid trying to figure out if a life as a pastor is what God is leading him to do. Wow.

Another instance was just today. While the kids napped, I watched Oprah's last show from my DVR. Another wow. It was incredible.

(Sidenote: I have not been a big Oprah fan for awhile - probably for the last 10 years. I stopped watching when her shows got a little too new-agey for me. I felt like she was preaching something I didn't agree with - you are God, God is you kind of stuff. I'm all for people being responsible for their own lives and for what they put out there into the world that affects others. But I'm not God and God isn't me. And thank God for that.)

This last Oprah show, however, was inspiring. She talked about her work, her life, what she's learned over these 25 years. And at one point she talked about her work being her calling. And how we are all called by God (the one, Alpha and Omega, Christian, Jesus, God) to serve the world in our own unique way. Each is different, one is just as important as the next, some parallel our career paths and some don't, some are big and some are small. But we all have a calling.

She said that over the years of interviewing people, the one common theme with those who had discerned their call and were living it out was that they got juiced about it - it was something they loved, that filled them as well as others, that gave them the motivation to continue, that they felt at peace and joyful about when they were doing.

I'm starting to think that maybe God is telling me it's time to figure mine out. My calling.

I'm certain that it's not being a pastor or missionary or anything big like that. That's not something I could do.

I thought maybe it was being a mother, but I'm not sure that's my calling as much as it is who I am.

A calling is some way that I, with my own unique gifts and passions, serve others and serve the world. Just like our mission at church says. And it's something I love to do and am good at and fills me as much as others.

So what's my calling?

I know the first thing that I wanted, almost needed to do as soon as I finished watching the show was to write about it. I don't think I'm a fantastic writer, but I'm competent and I write honestly and with my heart. So maybe that's my calling. But in what vein?

Maybe in combination with what I think is my spiritual gift: mercy/compassion. Maybe...

Well, maybe instead of listing everything that I love and am good at that could possibly be my calling, I need to pray about it and listen to what God stirs up inside me.

Okay, out to the grotto to do a little praying. I'll report back later if God sends down a lightning bolt or something.

May 29, 2011

Spring Has Sprung at the Coles

I know it's nearly summer but, with all the rain, we got a late start. Never fear, though. We've caught up.

Window box flowers have been planted.

As well as our very first vegetable garden...

In a perfect raised bed that my AWESOME husband built.

Fresh cut flowers from all around the yard brighten up every corner of the house.

And, just completed this weekend, a brand new pond (which we're now referring to as the grotto), has been added to our patio.When we bought this house, the previous owners/builders had put in a large koi pond there. It was nice, but an absolute nightmare to maintain.


So when we got pregnant with Sam, we decided to fill it in for multiple reasons. It just had grass planted over it from then until this weekend. But last weekend we saw a pre-formed resin pond basin on sale at Menards and thought, hey, the kids might like that. It's much smaller than the old pond, has different levels, the deepest part only comes up to Sam's waist. We could just make a pond with filters and waterfalls, but NO FISH. Kind of like an in-ground baby pool. So here it is. Rich did it all himself...isn't he incredible! It's like I live with Bob Villa or something. I love this man. And the gifts that God has blessed him with.

May 24, 2011

Balancing Act

I finally finished the movie Eat Pray Love while the kids napped today. I read this book a long time ago and have been watching the movie bit by bit from our DVR.

It reminded me of lessons I've learned, forgotten, relearned and reforgotten through my life. So I thought I would write them down here so I won't forget again.

Biggest lesson: women are crazy. Just accept it. We're always searching for purpose and forgiveness, we hold onto guilt and don't ever give ourselves a break, we don't think we're deserving, we think if we stop and enjoy doing nothing for a minute it just means we're lazy, we're dangerously critical of our own bodies and starve them of things that we love, we admire others but rarely ourselves, we think too much about everything, we're always always looking for God everywhere but are hardly ever still enough - still in our thoughts or our daily lives - to really find him.

An example: there is a part in the movie where the main character, Liz, is eating pizza in Naples, but her friend won't eat, even though she desperately wants to, because she doesn't want to gain any more weight. Liz says, "I'm so tired of saying no and waking up in morning recalling everything single thing I ate the day before, counting every calorie I consumed so I know how much self loathing to take into the shower. I'm going for it. I have no interest in being obese, but I'm just through with the guilt."

Amen to that!

The moral of the story is one I know, one we all know, but need reminded of now and then.

Life is all about balance.

Eat: Be healthy and don't eat everything in sight - having restraint and discipline is important and will power is a good characteristic to have in general. But also indulge sometimes without guilt.
If you love chocolate or bacon (I may be referencing myself here), eat them. Don't starve yourself of those simple pleasures. And don't feel bad about it. Embrace your love of them...just moderate.

Pray: Pray and focus on God and others, pour yourself out to him, admit your mistakes, ask for forgiveness, love Jesus, try to make him proud, and shut up long enough to listen to what he has to say. But don't pray so much that you ignore his blessings that are all around you. (For instance, don't read your Bible when you should be playing with your kids (which I did just this morning). Sorry kids. Sorry God.)

Love: Be open and willing to get hurt to truly experience love. Give into love and trust it and trust the other person and yourself enough to to let it really permeate you. But be smart - don't lose yourself in it or in the other person. Remain your honest and true self so that you and the person who loves you recognize you.


I'm not preaching here. I'm writing this as a reminder to myself to live my life more like this and to teach my kids the same. Life is just too short and precious to let it get so out of control, to not make others and yourself happy, to not respect others and yourself, to lose faith in others and yourself, to not cherish and nurture your relationships, to not adore our God and follow where he leads.

It's just too darn short.

Remember that.

May 23, 2011

Fleas - One. Coles - Zero.

If you know me, you know that I hate bugs. Nearly every bug.

I don't mind lady bugs and lightening bugs - pretty bugs that don't bite. But most are just nasty little creatures that make me wonder where exactly God was headed when he made them. Especially tiny little parasite bugs that hide in cracks and crevices, suck our blood and refuse to die.

Like fleas.

Most people are with me on this, I'm sure. No one likes fleas. But I know a lot of people just aren't too concerned about them. They're the "circle of life" kind of people.

That's not me. I'm the "screw the circle of life, I don't want bugs in my house" kind of person.

So imagine my frustration when I found a flea on Miles the cat. The indoor cat. After I did some quick, angry research online - I flew into action.

Making Rich go to the store to find IGR chemicals and flea killing sprays
Spraying chemicals
Treating the freshly bathed Miles with flea medicine
Spraying chemicals

Over four days time. Over and over.

And what do I find on Miles the cat tonight when I comb him again? Five fleas. Dying or dead fleas, but still fleas.

I'm so disheartened. I thought for sure I could beat this problem if I attacked it and stayed on top of it. But the fleas must have planned an uprising.

All right, fleas. If it's war you want, it's war you'll get!

May 18, 2011

Rain, Rain, Go Away...

Even with the torrential downpours we've had for two months trapping them inside the house, begging to go outside and play; my babies are still happy enough to pose for a couple of rainy day pictures.

Lena has started to cheese for the camera, but she squints her eyes every cute.
Sam in his cutest-ever bargain raincoat.

Jack's 8th Birthday

Happy birthday, Jackie boy!