Sunday, October 7, 2012

Mom Days

Scrubbing dishes
Folding clothes
"Mommy, will you blow my nose?"

          Hours spent
          In the kitchen
          Rarely gaining recognition.

Tears of joy
Tears of rage
"Mommy, can I turn the page?"

          Make a mess
          Pick up after
          Feel my heart soar with their laughter.

Tucking in
Time to rest
"Mommy, you are just the best!"

          Hold them close
          Don't let go
          It's a wonder how they grow.

© 2012 M. Kushnerick


Thursday, September 20, 2012

Book Review: Stones of Remembrance by Julie Presley



Stones of Remembrance

I just read the first novel I have picked up in a few years.
Cover to cover.
In one day.
Yeah, it was that good!

Julie Presley has done a brilliant job of depicting a heart-wrenching, core-touching story that has so much genuine, down-to-earth reality about the ups and downs of journeying with Jesus and the risky business of Kingdom living. With poise and grace, she takes you into the real sticky aspects of life, from tragic loss to passionate connection.

It seems like so many "Christian" books present this fluffy, happy, cliche idea of what it looks like to go through this life, with its many unexpected twists and turns, as a believer in Jesus. This book is bold and messy and so full of every legitimate emotion known to man. It paints a raw picture of the Father's pursuit of His beloved children and the response of two very real people with very real heartache, doubts, struggles, and grief.

I cried; I gasped; my jaw dropped; my heart raced; I laughed; and at the end I threw my arms in the air and cheered with tears streaming down my face.

I think every woman I know should read this book and pass it on to her girl friends. It isn't every day that such a treasure becomes available to us that is able to unlock longings of love lost and hope regained that we thought would never see daylight again. The practical truth of the dialog found within will make your heart sing a new song and throw you into a frantic run to your Daddy's arms, where He will hold you tight and make you whole.



This book is available as a paperback or as an e-Book on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or directly from Julie's website. I urge you to get ahold of it and let it get ahold of you!

I'm even doing a giveaway of a copy of the e-Book, so you could get it for free! All you have to do is share this review on your Facebook page, Re-Tweet it, or RePin it before midnight Saturday, Sept. 22, to be entered to win.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

This is My Life


Exhausting day so far. I swear the most outlandish things happen on the days that I resolve to take a chill pill and choose peace.

On less than 4 hours of sleep, I had to drag the kids out of bed to pick up the hubby from his 16 hour shift at 7am, which makes for an off-kilter day right there. Unable to fully comprehend the world or function like a normal human being (at least, as "normal" as I can pull off...), I somehow managed to get everyone home and fed and back out the door with Kylee in uniform and with backpack in tow (including signed permission slip for next week's field trip; I'm such an overachiever!) to get her to school on time (for the first time all week).

I even got laundry put away and the kitchen floor swept before meeting a beautiful friend for coffee.

The coffee shop we met at is literally 4 doors down from our house, which I absolutely love. The kids call this one "our coffee shop;" I get the impression that they seriously believe it belongs to us... Anyway, I walk down there with my two smallest mini people, thinking I have everything under control and this will be a breeze. Within 15 minutes of being there, my sweet boy used one of the crayons I brought as an attempt at adequate distraction to express his creative soul on the solid yellow wall. It was a black crayon, of course.

I very much enjoyed the luxury of actual adult conversation and interaction, which has been quite lacking for me this week; of course it was intermingled with so many questions and trips to the bathroom and assisting with getting the toys off of the very top shelf and then putting them back, but it was still very cherished, especially with such a wonderful friend and person.

And then, of course, more drama ensued when Chloe and Josiah decided to fight over one particular piece from a toy and Josiah fell off of his chair backwards, head first into the wall/window frame. Everyone in the shop stopped moving and held their breath as my son released a completely legit cry of terror and pain. A few people asked if they could do anything and the poor barista-boy looked so desperate to be of assistance that I asked him for a bag of ice, which he kindly and promptly brought out. Thankfully my boy seems to be fine, just a little bumped and scraped, which is entirely normal for him anyway. It was nice that everyone seemed so concerned for my poor, sweet boy and I even forgot to be embarrassed to bring such (additional) attention to the state of utter chaos my life can tend to become. He was back to curiosity and discovery in a few short minutes, acting like nothing had happened; that's my boy!

We chatted some more and my sweet friend gave me a whole bag full of brand new school uniform clothes for my Kylee, which is a huge help and a totally unexpected blessing! Then we parted ways so I could feed my tiny monsters, whose dispositions were rapidly deteriorating, and she could go home and mow her lawn.

Chloe fell into total fall-apart mode when we got back to the apartment, which helped push Siah over the edge into limp-noodle rebellion. Oh the joys... I managed to feed one and put the emotionally frayed one in her bed to discover the art of calming down so she could get her lunch, then headed back to the coffee shop to scrub the crayon off of the wall and also grab a short stint of peace and calm to gather myself. (Don't worry, Tom is home so I didn't just abandon my kids.)

Thankfully I got all of the crayon off of the wall (hooray for Norwex cloths!), but now there are some very clean patches on an otherwise not-so-clean yellow surface. Oddly, I wasn't flustered or embarrassed by any of this situation either, which I am totally impressed with myself about (if you really know me, you'll understand this isn't pride, it's sober judgment of how much I've grown).

Now every ounce of energy I might have had from my minuscule amount of sleep is completely drained, Chloe has calmed down and eaten and is now in bed resting peacefully, and I am counting my blessings and catching up on some reading.

A nap would sure be nice, but I probably won't even attempt that for fear of starting the whole de-groggifying (I made that word up just now...) process again to go pick Kylee up in an hour and a half.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

One Year Ago Today...

Labor Day weekend last year held a monumental day for us.

That Sunday we were asking the Lord for a specific answer as to where He wanted us to go and do. And He answered.

We had been seeking His direction on what He was calling us to for almost a month. This is something that we have always done on at least a semi-annual basis, just to check in, make sure we're still in His will and fully submitted to Him and that our hearts are pure. Until that point these inventories were typically short and simple, consisting of asking the Lord, Him saying, "Stay where you are," us repenting of any pride, resentment, or whatever, then receiving refreshing and renewed vision, joy, and strength.

But this time we got a different answer.

So we were listening more intently and digging deeper.

And on that Sunday we got the answer: "Move to Louisville and join Chris and Hannah Davis at Destiny Church."

It's amazing how much can happen in just one year. How beautiful to be sitting in Louisville now, one year later, walking by faith on the path He called us to.

This is all just the goodness of the Lord!

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Praise the Lord, O My Soul

We have been in Louisville for 4 weeks now.

We're pretty well settled into our apartment. The only room I have left with full boxes (other than the boxes of books still awaiting bookshelves) is our bedroom and I've been searching everywhere for my motivation to finish that, with no luck. But we definitely feel at home here.

Now that we've been here a few weeks and are settling in, I am noticing some expectations that I've had for this move and this season of our life that I had sworn I didn't have. I've been through a bit of a cycle of getting frustrated, losing my temper, whining, getting depressed, realizing I'm being ridiculous, repenting, and ruling my soul.

One of the biggest expectations I've had has been expecting this job that Tom had been pursuing to be the answer to all of our financial woes. Boy was I mistaken. Turned out the job is only commission, an independent contractor position, and Tom has to find all of his own leads. So far he has made a grand total of $125 in the 4 weeks we have been here and has spent more than that in gas and supplies. So now he is only doing that part time, hoping that he can get some deals going, and he has started working for pennies as a security officer overnights at a university hospital. Needless to say, I had to swallow my pride and repent, rule my soul and trust my husband and my Lord.

Just like every other period of job hunting and financial struggle, it seems many costly things come up. The Pontiac is out of service for now, having problems with the coolant reservoir. We replaced the reservoir with some help from a friend, but now the coolant is leaking from some yet to be determined location. So we are down to one vehicle until we can get the car looked at. With Kylee starting school we have had to get her uniform clothes, supplies, and now need to buy her new shoes. Then there was the whole me losing my phone thing... And now we are getting to the point that we need to get our Kentucky driver's licenses and register our vehicles and get in-state car insurance. The expenses seem to be piling up and the income is not. Thankfully we were approved for Kylee to receive free breakfast and lunch at school, which is definitely a big help.

But this is all the goodness of the Lord! We did know walking into this that it would be hard and we would be walking by faith. Every day I have to make the choice to not look at the things around me in the physical and trust my heavenly Daddy to take care of me. I'm holding on to the promises I find in His Word that echo in my spirit. One such promise is in Isaiah 26:3 - "You will keep in perfect peace all those who trust in You, all whose thoughts are fixed on You!"

I am resting in that perfect peace, keeping my eyes on Jesus. I am thankful for all of the wonderful gifts the Father has so graciously given and I trust Him to work everything out for our good so that we can continue on His mission here in the Highlands with Destiny Church.

The most rewarding aspect of our time here thus far is building relationships with the beautiful people at Destiny. We are overwhelmed with their joy and love and faith. Every opportunity we have had to get to know each of them more has been greatly cherished. What an incredible blessing to be in fellowship with such amazing brothers and sisters!

So there is a bit of an update for you all. Thank you everyone for all of your prayers, love, support, and encouragement as we continue to serve the Lord and His people in this community.

Here is a short video to make you smile:

video

Saturday, August 11, 2012

1 Corinthians 9:27

Maybe it's the lower altitude, which means more air weighing me down?

Maybe it's the fact that, for the first time in over a year, we are actually drying our clothes in a dryer?

Maybe it's still leftover weight from my last pregnancy that I've been trying to ignore for almost 2 years now?

Or maybe I'm just gaining weight. I don't have a scale to verify that theory, though. (Is there an iPhone app that I can use to weigh myself by standing on my phone??)

Whatever the reason, my clothes seem to be fitting a little more snug than usual. I'm slightly shocked because now we have a million stairs in our home that I climb and descend numerous times a day, we are pretty tight on money so extra snacking is a luxury we can't afford, and my full time job now is to wrangle my children and keep my house in order.

But, alas, my muffin top does not lie.

And so, to Jillian Michaels I turn, with my faithful companion and fellow sufferer by my side. Tom and I blew the dust off of her "The Biggest Winner!" 5-DVD boxed set (that we acquired for free some time ago), strapped on our sneakers, filled our water bottles, and enjoyed a nice, affordable butt-whipping.

Now I don't think I ever want to move again. Perhaps, for Tom's sake, I should take a shower before dragging my beaten bones to bed...

And maybe, just maybe, we will do it all over again tomorrow.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

One Week

We've been in Louisville for one week now. We're settling in pretty well. Almost done unpacking, which feels great! We just need some furniture like bookshelves and a desk to finish up.

The apartment is just big enough for the five of us. The girls love their big room that has enough room for sleeping and playing. It's kind of like their own little getaway upstairs. I'm adjusting to not having a dishwasher and only having one bathroom. Tom's man heart is loving all of the little projects he's needed to do. Josiah is finally sleeping in his room, but still hasn't slept in his bed. He's made a habit out of sleeping on his floor against the door. Poor little dude is having the hardest time adjusting.

Tom's job turned out to be different than what we were expecting, but for now he is giving it a try. He seems to be starting out great, which is encouraging. I'll let him tell of what he is doing and how he likes it.

I've had a few moments of being overwhelmed with the house, with the kids, with all of the logistics like getting Kylee set up for school and needing to figure out insurance. Tom has been great about speaking peace and grace over me and helping me where he can. The hardest thing has been Josiah's struggle with adjusting. He has been incredibly clingy and needy. It's completely understandable; this is a big change for such a little guy! Prayers for his dear, sweet heart would be much appreciated. This mama is exhausted! Thankfully there are amazing people in our church family at Destiny who have reached out to help with the kids and who have helped answer my questions about figuring out the logistics. I am more than blessed!

Speaking of Destiny Church: I LOVE being here in person and getting to know these amazing people! Our hearts are near bursting with love and joy for the people the Lord has called us to serve. I am looking forward to being in a more "normal" state in our house so we can have more time and space to connect with them. *happy sigh*



I love living in Louisville! This is such a beautiful city with so much to do. We enjoy living on Bardstown Road and being able to walk to shops and restaurants and even the church building. The people are great and I am even getting used to the very different style of driving. It will take some time for me to learn my way around, but I am so grateful for the Google Maps app on my phone in the meantime! I absolutely love all of the beautiful architecture and the plethora of green foliage here.



The mini people are still amazing. They bring me so much joy! I love that I have all of my time to take care of them and order our household. Kylee is super excited to start school in two weeks Chloe is sad that she doesn't get to start school yet and has assured me that she is happy I get to stay home with her but she is sad Kylee won't be home with her anymore. Josiah, despite all of his clingy-ness and troubles, is still absolutely hilarious. He talks all the time now and is climbing all over everything - including bathroom and kitchen cabinets. It blesses my mama heart that all 3 of them get along so well and dote on each other all day long. I love listening to their chatter and laughter as they play in Siah's room or eat lunch together. My heart is so full.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

We're Here!




We made it!

It is such an amazing, almost surreal feeling to wake up in Louisville this morning. After nearly a year of dreaming about and preparing for this move, the adventure is at last in full swing!

The last week has been hectic and very near exhausting. With finishing up work commitments, saying "so long" to beautiful friends and family, packing all of our earthly belongings, and driving across the country with 3 kids and a moving truck, we have had very little down time. All of the time spent with people and all of the tedious sorting of our things to ensure that we only brought what we want to keep was well worth it. I am overwhelmed by the blessings of our send-off from our previous home. The Father is so gracious to us!

Let me just say that I am so thrilled to set up our new apartment and make it our own. Chris and Hannah Davis have gone above and beyond in helping us work out getting into the apartment they just moved out of and making us feel welcome in our new home. I absolutely love that everything we brought does not even fill up the whole 17' truck we loaded it into! I'm excited to have the time and availability to unpack and order our home myself this time. I feel all grown up and on my own, free to fly like a baby bird leaving its nest. I have been blessed with great teachers and I feel like I'm ready! (You might think, Finally! But if you know me, you will realize this is kind of a big deal because I have had my mom and other wonderful, loving people doing a lot of the ordering and organizing in my home and was a bit lost and lazy at times.)

The whole process of packing and traveling has been kind of a big deal. Especially for the mini people. I just want to brag about them a little: They have been awesome! Watching all of their things be packed in boxes and seeing it all in the moving truck and waving "see you later" to everyone and everything they have ever known was a lot for such small ones. They took it all in like pros! They cried some. They got frustrated a few times. But seriously, they have been wonderful! I was a bit concerned about driving the van by myself while Tom drove the truck, but it went way better than I had dared hope. They certainly have been equipped for the call the Lord has placed on our life.

Some great moments and quotes from the last few days:

When my mom expressed her joy for knowing we are in the Lord's will but her "selfish" desire to keep us with her, Kylee said, "It's not selfish, Grammy; this is what Jesus asked us to do!"

As we were nearing the end of the drive and finally only a couple of hours from the city, Chloe exclaimed, "Look out Louisville, here we come!"

Josiah can now say "Louisville"! It's pretty cute. :)

As we drove over the Ohio river into Louisville, I was telling the girls we were in the city and asking them what they thought, Kylee whimsically sighed, "It's so beautiful!"

Gosh. I just love these kids!

We were honored to stay with some beautiful people in Colorado Springs Wednesday night and some more beautiful people in Kansas City Thursday night. What a blessing to connect with precious friends in the Kingdom across the country!

About 40 miles from Louisville we drove into an impressive thunder storm complete with torrential rain and strong wind. That made for an exciting drive into the city! As we were driving down Bardstown Road to our apartment, all of the power on the street went down. We ran through the rain and big puddles to get to the ever darkening apartment as the light faded in the sunset. Several people from the fellowship at Destiny Church came to help unload some essential things like beds and towels from the truck, which was such a blessing. Because of the weather and lack of light, though, we decided it would be best to hold off the unloading and get a hotel for the night. We even had people bring us some essential groceries. How beautiful to be greeted by such willing, loving, serving hearts!

Staying in the hotel turned out to be kind of nice and refreshing. I finally got a shower and feel human again. :) Now we are gearing up to enjoy a nice breakfast in the lobby before embarking on today's plans of unloading the truck and attending our first Destiny Church weekend gathering as a family!

What a fabulous life we have been given. :)

Thursday, June 14, 2012

He Prepares




Scout's motto: Be Prepared!

Yet the Bible says: We can make our plans,
but the LORD determines our steps. (Proverbs 16:9 NLT)

So I think my resolution and personal motto is: He prepares.

I feel like the Lord has been preparing me for all that He has for me and I am so excited! Although nearly all of the plans and expectations I've made have fallen apart, i.e. our plans to go to Thailand this year and our plans to move to Kentucky, I am at peace and loving this season of faith.

My most recent realization of His preparation came to me tonight as I was reflecting on my day...

I had four separate points of connection and conversation with four treasured girl friends of mine today. Now, "old me" would typically feel drained and overwhelmed, having been anxious about each encounter, especially when you add a full day of work, mom stuff, fighting some kind of cold or bug, and only getting 4 hours of sleep last night.

But instead, I felt energized and exhilarated! Every conversation felt natural and effortless. This is a new feeling for me. You see, I used to fret irrationally about what to say or how to say it, constantly stressing over not making a fool of myself and hoping I don't miss a line or cue. Ugh. That is so exhausting and futile!

Instead I am learning to trust the Lord, be myself, and treasure each opportunity to connect with others. What a relief! Especially considering that I know I am called to minister through relationship, particularly in this next season of my life. I am stoked that I am seeing fruit of the Lord's preparations, despite my own preparations failing.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Honeycomb Tombs: An Album in Review

Loss.

Grief.

These things are a natural side effect of living. That doesn't make them easy, though.

What do you say to a 15 year old boy whose mom just died of breast cancer? Or a first time mom whose baby unexpectedly died shortly after he was born? Or a close friend who just had a miscarriage? Or a friend whose unborn nephew would not survive once he was born?

There are no magic words. There is no "easy" button. In times like these, perhaps silence is golden.

But what if there was something you could give to them to accompany them on their journey with grief? Or if you had something to accompany you if you find yourself on that journey?

Karla Adolphe, a beautiful person and incredible musician, has put together just that. Her new album, Honeycomb Tombs, is full of songs to aid in the grieving and healing process, no matter what that might look like. I have never heard a more hauntingly beautiful voice or been so deeply moved by such an anointed heart. Every song on this album stirred emotions within me that I didn't realize existed. I have been spared many sorrows in my own life but have had my heart wrenched by the sorrows of those around me and I believe that this is a beautiful gift from the Father Himself.

The song "Invisible Lines" was one of the first I heard from the album and will stick with me forever. The lyrics say: "our hearts broke at the same time... torn across invisible lines... mine was still beating... yours said goodnight..." Just one simple example of the fabulous way Karla has of painting word pictures for what we see with our hearts.

This album is completely free and available to download on May 15. I urge you to add it to your own music collection and share it with everyone in your world. Even if you aren't currently in a state of dealing with loss or grief this music will seep into your soul and minister to you in a profound way.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Thailand or Bust!

This family update has been a long time coming...

On July 5th, all five of us plus three of the youth in our ministry are leaving for a month long mission trip to Thailand. We will start and end our journey briefly in Texas, where we will be meeting the rest of our team that is going, and receiving the necessary training to be the most effective we possibly can while in country.

We are all very excited about being able to travel the globe as a family, especially knowing it will all be for the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ. Even the kids can show you where Thailand is on our little bouncy globe. We know the Lord is calling us there for many different reasons. Certainly one of the greatest reasons is because of the dire need that is found there.

For info on the trip go here: http://www.globalexpeditions.com/mission-trips/summer-trips/asia/thailand/ If you select "Quick Facts" you will see details about Thai culture and how to pray.

We have been doing fundraisers since the summer of 2011 for getting us over there, but we still have a long way to go financially. As we write this (April 16th) we have 80 days left before we leave, and we need your help to make it there. Be it through prayer and/or financial support, we want to offer you the chance to partner with us and with the Lord for what He is going to do this summer.

If you are interested in helping through prayer support, send us a private message and we will put you on our prayer team newsletter.

If you are interested in helping through financial support, you can go to Global Expeditions' website and donate directly to us there. The direct link is http://www.globalexpeditions.com/donate/ and our Group ID to donate to is 2659982, so feel free to do so as soon as possible! We need roughly $4400 per person, so any and all gifts are fully welcomed and appreciated!

If you have any questions, feel free to let us know. We will definitely be keeping you updated as we prepare to go change the world, and while we are over there too!

Friday, April 13, 2012

Yep, Blessed.

For the record: I have the most awesome family ever.

Tonight we went to dinner at Dos Hombres after work with my coworker, Laura. Tom let me know he wanted to get dessert afterward too, and the kids invited Laura to join us for that as well. I thought that was it, but snickering girls and shushing secrets made me a bit suspicious...

Then the cashier at Red Mango handed me a bag and said, "And I believe this is yours too."

At this point my girls turned into monkeys at the zoo who discovered new people to fling poo at... They were laughing and squealing and hopping and running around, obviously excited about whatever was in that bag.

We made our way through the crowded FroYo shop to a table and the girls started pulling things out of the Pier 1 bag in my hand.




A colorful new journal with a blue be-jeweled pen from Kylee. Exactly what I have been needing since I finished my last journal a few days ago and have been learning so much that I've been wanting to write out. Kylee picked it out herself and it is perfect, which means a lot coming from this picky journal-er!




An embroidered purple scarf from Chloe. This was handpicked beauty from my trendy little accessorizer. I told her I especially like that it's purple because it reminds me of her.




A necklace with many wonderful dangling doo-dads that apparently Josiah was adamant about getting for me. I'm sure he can't wait for me to wear it so he can play with all the cool things when I hold him.




A fabulous blue and turquoise cuff bracelet from my amazing husband who knows how to pick fun, artsy jewelry better than I do.




A fun bubble bead necklace that apparently is from Jesus, but Daddy got to give it to me from Him. ;)

All of these gifts were so thoughtful and beautiful. Laura was impressed and wondered if it was my birthday. I assured her it was not. Tom told us the story of how he and the kids were talking about how much they love me and wanted to do something special for me, just because. This blessed me the most. He said that the two young men behind the counter at Red Mango were pretty excited to be a part of it.

I'm so blessed to be loved so fully. I can't stop smiling! I am honored that my children and husband are so ecstatic to show me their love and affection. These may be small trinkets that didn't cost a great deal of money, but the hearts they came from and the thought that went into each gift are so precious to me.