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Apr 30, 2014

Perception of a Cussing Christian

A friend posted this on Facebook last week and it has stuck with me. It's from a central Ohio guy named Kentrell Skeens and his words and passion behind his telling of this True Story are powerful and real and poetic. 

I see people like this who unabashedly put their faith out there into the world to move people and to make us think beyond the confines of our individual lives, beyond our day to day grinds, beyond the walls we have built around ourselves and the blinders we wear that make us feel safe...and I want that.  I want to have that kind of unapologetic faith. 

When I'm singing with my band at church, I do.  I'm all in and feeling moved by the spirit and I'm unashamed and excited.  But I think that's easy to do when you're surrounded by like-minded people who are right there with you.   

It's in my everyday life where I hold back.  Because I'm afraid.

Many of my friends and family don't believe in God.  Some lean toward agnosticism, acknowledging some nameless power or force out there.  Some are atheist and tout academia as their reason, though most have never studied the Bible.  Many have past experiences and pains and hurts that have led to their disbelief.  Some get derailed by the negative crazy "Christians" out there who spew hate and in no way want to be associated with them.  Some just don't show much interest either way. 

I get where they are all coming from.  God knows my journey to find true faith was a long one and included many of those things.  But I had people along the way to guide me.  Family, books, theology classes, music, and friends. 

Were my fear comes into play is how best to be a light to my friends without falling into the perception which "cussing Christians" like myself fight strongly against...that I'm an over the top extremist whose every waking breath is singularly focused on preaching to everyone I see. 

I'm more fearful of that perception, of not fitting in maybe, than much else where my faith is concerned.  And that's shameful.   

I believe there is a balance to be struck here, as in all things.  I don't believe in the extremist mentality.  I don't want my friends to avoid speaking to me or sharing with me because they fear a sermon coming on.  And I will never be that way. 

But I do I do enough?  Does even the smallest beam of God's light shine on them by the way I live and love?  Are the small ways I do reach out in faith moving them, provoking them, making them think?  Are they able to look past my cursing and vanity and controlling nature and laziness and short temper to see even a shred of God's grace and mercy in me?

I don't know.  Sometimes I feel like it's a good balance.  Sometimes I feel like it's an epic fail. 

It reminds me of Peter refusing to acknowledge that he knew Jesus.  He struggled with perception, with fitting in, mostly with fear.  And I assume that many of us believers suffer the same affliction.  I guess that puts me in good company.  I just pray that when it comes down to the line, when I'm finished with this life and I stand there before God, I'll have overcome this struggle and have something much more than fear of perception to tell him about...I'll have stories about some friends I introduced to him. 

Apr 28, 2014

I Love a Parade!

On Saturday while Rich and I were busy painting and assembling furniture, our kids put on a mini parade with some of their neighborhood friends.  They used our little truck as the float, taped signs to it identifying the different princesses on the float, who were dressed in their finest costumes and coronated after the parade.  This priceless pretty princess parade was escorted by my handsome son, who was nominated to be the "Awesome Police" and rode security patrol along beside them on a scooter.  

Rich had run to the store and unfortunately missed the whole spectacle.  But the kids made me stop painting and walk down to the end of the street to join some other parents, who were sitting in lawn chairs on the sidewalk waiting for the parade to begin.

After the coronation of princesses, during which Lena was crowned "The Princess of Sparkles", they sang selections from Frozen for all of us. 

In the immortal words of Corey Feldman in The Burbs..."God, I love this street."

And here is what Rich and I were busy doing while our kids were parading about.  This is my parents' old console stereo.  They have had it since they were married and have used it as a buffet table for many of those years.  But I have fond memories of playing Olivia Newton John and Solid Gold records on its turntable and dancing around like a crazy child.   

Anyway after 45 years, they finally bought themselves an actual buffet table to replace this old stereo and, as is the practice of any respectable parent, handed down their unwanted furniture to their kids.  Lori passed on this beauty, so we gratefully snatched it up. 

The stereo equipment this console held was mostly inoperable, so Rich gutted it, built shelves and new front panels and we painted it this weekend. 

And here is the end product.  It turned out great!  

Apr 25, 2014

School Days

Yesterday was parents' day at Lena's preschool, so I spent the morning with her in her classroom.  We crafted and played and sang songs and read books.  She was stopped to get hugs from several friends and chitter-chattered with all her baby is growing up so fast into such a smart friendly girl, beautiful inside and out. 

Then we picked up Sam from the sitter's and went to Bob Evans for lunch.  The kids love that place and, if I'm being honest, it's one of my favorites too.  We had a good time, the kids ate well and I received one of the greatest compliments a parent can get...our waiter told me what gorgeous and well behaved kids I had. And then shook my hand (after fist bumping the kids) and said, "Good job." :) We were all so pleased, we sang as we skipped to the car hand-in-hand. 

Sam had soccer practice later in the day and then it was straight off to his kindergarten spring concert!  We didn't have time to change his clothes in-between, so he sang his heart out in the front row with his cleats and shin guards still on (but he was still the cutest boy on stage).

Sam's teacher is awesome.  He's very engaged, hands on, relaxed, silly yet firm and, something to which Sam really responds, he plays guitar and makes up funny songs for the kids to help them learn.  Twice a year he compiles those songs and, with some other songs thrown in, puts on little kindergarteners-only concerts.  It is so sweet and fun.  Sam is very fortunate to have him in his life.

 Such special moments fill up these ordinary days...

Apr 23, 2014

Our Little Fall Out Boy

We were awoken this morning by our son singing a Fall Out Boy song in his room. 

And earlier this week baby girl announced that No Doubt is her new favorite band. 

Well...I've just never been so proud... 

We listen to music of all kinds at our house, but I have to hand this proud parenting moment to Rich. My car radio is usually tuned to an 80's station or to NPR. Rich's selections are much more interesting and I'm very grateful to him for rounding out our kids' musical eccentricities so nicely.


Apr 21, 2014

Easter, An Anniversary, The Sicknesses and The Toothfairy

Another blog busting at the seams.  I just can't seem to catch up these days.  Just ask the single load of laundry that I have washed three times because I keep forgetting to put it into the dryer.

Eck, the laundry.  How I loathe it. 

Last week was a doozy for the Coles.  We were all sick with something at some point during the week and/or previous weekend.  Rich had a touch of something a couple Sundays ago that lasted a few days.  Then it was Lena and Sam for a couple of days.  Then mine came and wouldn't leave.  Fevers, sore throats, upset stomachs, boxes of tissues, barrels of Tylenol and sinus medicine, gallons of soup, and too many days missed at school and activities and church and work.   

Oy vey. 

Today we all seem to be securely on the mend and I'm refusing to acknowledge any further symptoms from anyone. the end it's the only way to combat the constant barrage of villainous viral infections.

Other than the fever fairy who has taken up residence in our house lately, the tooth fairy also stopped by for a visit!  Yes.  That's right.  Sam's snaggle tooth finally came out!


He has two other loose teeth, so we'll see if those take as long to come out as this one did.  He looks so cute with his big gap.  Love this boy.

We went to Mom and Dad's this weekend for Easter and had an awesome time!  Lori's family was there too and even with 6 adults, 5 kids, and Lilly, the world's best dog, that big old house still held us all very comfortably.

Meals were devoured, expeditions of the egg and old wedding dress varieties were had, old friends were embraced, rockets were launched, church songs were sung, ball was played, food was prepared, Mom and Dad's 45th wedding anniversary was celebrated, conversations and laughter were in endless supply...

As were the love and joy that always surround us when we are all together. 

(Notice how I seamlessly glossed over the children's exhausted laments, mealtime meltdowns and sugar crashes?  That was purposeful.)

Easter morning.

Church pictures. I think Sam is still trying to figure out how to smile without a front tooth.

There's a good one.
Egg hunt!

Rich provided a bubbly environment for the egg hunt...and posed for a few bubbly model shots. :)


Sisters...with a wrinkle filter in place! Yeah!

Our brood.

Anniversary flowers!

Lori recreated our Nan's coconut Easter bunny cake!  It was perfect, of course. 

The roots of this family's tree...On April 20, 1969, Mom and Dad pledged to God and to each other that they would build a life together, respect each other, take care of one another, love each other through all life had to throw at them. And so it's been over these 45 years.  They have traveled hand in hand over the peaks and through the valleys of their lives and have continued to honor their love and commitment to each other every step of the way. The beautiful life they have made together...the beautiful way they share their days and have loved each other and the rest of us, even when the road hasn't been easy...they have "trusted steadily in God, hoped unswervingly and loved extravagantly". 
That is marriage.  That is love.  That is my Mom and Dad.

And this is silly Sam...

Lovely little Lena girl...

Looking too grown up.

My beautiful mother.  Seriously, look at her.  That's what many years of clean happy living gets you, folks.  Flawless skin, timeless beauty and a joyful soul! 

And there it is.  Lori's wedding dress.  She swore Mom has had it all these 20 years.  Mom swore she didn't.  And after a dark and dangerous expedition to the WAY back of my dad's closet, lo and behold, she found it!  Of course we made her try it on and it very nearly zipped all the way up!  My ageless, beautiful, skinny sister.  The dress had come unzipped here, but I still made her pose with Lena, who was wearing Lori's veil and beaming with excitement over her aunt, who looked like a princess.

Love that girly girl of mine!