A Story of a Three Year Old

“Tell me a story, Momma.”

There once was a boy named Finn. He was the fastest little boy on wheels. He had the happiest smile and the sweetest voice. He loved his sister, Paisley, even though she took his trains. Chicken nuggets and chocolate milk and puzzles were his favorites.

When he was born, his spine was hurt and it made his legs weak and his brain swell.

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So he stayed in the hospital for 14 days.

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His family and friends prayed a lot.

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Finn was a brave little boy. He had 8 surgeries before his first birthday.

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He learned to use a wheelchair to zoom around the house.

So proud.

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He was not like other kids, but that’s okay; he was unique. God made him so smart. So important. So special.

On Finn’s third birthday, he went with his family in their jammies to get coffee and donuts.

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He ate a chocolate silly face donut.

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Then he went on a scavenger hunt for his birthday gifts.

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He was very lucky: he got a mini iPad from both his Nana’s and Papa’s a couple weekends ago at the Rosells’ house in Arkansas.

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Gigi made him a birthday coffee cake and Poppy made a fishing game for Finn to play.

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On his birthday, Finn found a dinosaur puzzle, a sticker book, some cool jeans and sunglasses, and Batman walkie talkies hidden around the house.

After breakfast, he went with his family to the Oklahoma Aquarium.

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He loved the otter. It was cute and did flips in the water.

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He saw fish and alligators and turtles.

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His sister, Paisley, was amazed by all the sights and sounds.

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Finn’s favorite was the shark tank. He was hesitant at first, but he decided to be brave and zoom through the tunnel with sharks swimming all around him in the blue water.

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He went back and forth through the shark tank, up and down the ramp. His arms were so strong.

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Other kids at the aquarium thought Finn was cool whooshing around in his wheelchair. He cried when it was time to leave.

After a nap, Finn and his family went to Nana and Papa Armstrong’s house for a birthday dinner. Nana helped Finn and Paisley decorate a box to play in.

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We sang “Happy Birthday” and ate Ludger’s cake.

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It was delicious, but Finn’s tummy got upset. He didn’t normally eat that much sugar.

After reading a bedtime story, Finn fell asleep on his Thomas the Tank Engine pillow and dreamed about his happiest third birthday. The End.

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Life at Church

Okay; I can’t hold it in any longer. I’m bursting inside…

I LOVE OUR CHURCH!

And I don’t care who knows it. 😉

I feel a little like a teenager, gushing over my newest crush (LifeChurch.tv), but trying to play it cool so as not to run off all my friends. I don’t want to seem obsessed or anything.

But seriously. EVERY Saturday night/Sunday morning/Sunday night I attend or serve at church, I love it more. I find some other nuance, a core belief or one of Pastor Craig’s messages that I can rally behind.

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People from all walks of life are greeted warmly by nearly a dozen people in Host Team t-shirts; they grab a cup of Starbucks coffee, and enter the service. An hour later, they (we) walk out the doors changed.

As a body of believers, we are challenged weekly to live life more like Christ...not to necessarily know more or read more or serve more, but to obey more.

“If you love me, obey my commands.” John 14:15

Pastor Craig’s bold message this weekend really spoke to Joey and I. He spoke about how our learning should not exceed our obeying.

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We can scrutinize Scripture, lead or attend Bible studies, graduate from seminary even, but if this learning does not translate to obeying, it’s for nothing. Am I changed by my faith? Have I grown spiritually since this time last year? Am I allowing God to refine me, stretch me and mold me into His child, no matter how uncomfortable?

The people at LifeChurch.tv are real. The staff are fun and earnestly seeking Christ. The messages challenge me EVERY week. The music is loud and powerful. The ministries at LifeChurch.tv are legit…as volunteers, we “huddle” before each service, praying over it and the people who will attend. Finn asks almost daily if we get to go to church.

Have you downloaded the Bible for Kids for your kiddos yet? Finn loves playing David and Joseph.

Have you downloaded the Bible for Kids app yet? Finn loves playing David and Joseph.

Two weekends ago, 124 people were baptized at just our Broken Arrow location, celebrating new life before their friends and church family.

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The weekend before that, more people attended church at a LifeChurch.tv location than attended the Super Bowl. At the end of each service, people are given an opportunity to respond to the Holy Spirit. In the past 3 months we’ve attended a LifeChurch.tv service, someone has always responded. Usually several.

The Lord is doing big things with LifeChurch.tv. He’s pouring into local communities, reaching people all over the world through church online, healing hurting families, providing community for broken people, and spreading practical truth through Craig’s messages weekly. I am so honored to be a part of this Body. So thankful Joey gets the opportunity to call this “work.”

If you attend a church you love and are challenged to obey Him, I’m so happy for you. If you aren’t, consider attending one of the 20+ locations all over the country or attend church online.

I’ll warn you though…you just might fall in love.

Just a Phase

So here’s the thing:

We’re all struggling in some way. We’re all hurting, healing, hoping, failing.

I’ve had several conversations with clients this week–and it’s only Tuesday–about personal demons they’re wrestling, addictions they’re battling, marriages they’re fighting for; working mothers who are experiencing complete exhaustion, and way too much physical illness. They’re trying but it’s not working. They’re running but their feet are tripping.

Finn’s in this weird clingy, fearful phase. It took us a literal hour to get him to sleep Sunday night. We eventually had to tell him if he didn’t stop crying, we’d take away his trains. It worked. Drop-off at school has been terrible. He bawls as soon as he wheels through the door.

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He covers his ears every time Paisley (or any other kid) cries–and it’s not an ear issue. He won’t let me go through the garage door before him; worried I’ll leave him behind. I have to take deeper breaths and pray for more energy, more creativity and more patience to be his mom lately. It’s just a phase. He’s a kid.

Maybe you’re in a “phase” yourself. Maybe you need an extra dose of grace and love from your Father lately.

We are such broken people, so hourly in need of our Savior, Redeemer, Friend.

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Sunrise at the lake this weekend

I cling to this passage:

Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30)

Write this on your mirror. Tattoo it with ballpoint to your palm. Post-it-note-it to your dashboard. Text it to yourself. My natural tendency is to try and try and try until I stop failing. This is futile. I’m so thankful for His invitation to come to Him, to breathe deeply, inhaling His peace and exhaling our stress and pain. Heal us, Lord.

Chicken Nugget Theology

It looks like mustard yellow scribbles to you and I, but when Finn’s teacher asked what he was drawing, he swiftly responded, “Chicken nuggets.” Duh.

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My imperfect life may look like a mess to you and I, but to my Father, there’s beauty in progress. A tapestry unfinished. Despite many mistakes, my faith is increasing; my character is building. He is strong where I am weak. The Holy Spirit has made me soft to Him over time; open to constructive criticism and self-reflection. But I still fight the tendency to throw a pity party. Instead, I can recognize my failure as discipline…because He loves me.

I opened my Bible a couple nights ago, slid out the silk bookmark that was holding my place in Hebrews 12–the chapter on “God Disciplin[ing] His Sons.” God does these things, you know–leads you to the exact verse you were thinking about just moments ago. It’s not coincidence. It’s divine. It’s Him.

My son, do not make light of the Lord’s discipline, and do not lose heart when he rebukes you, because the Lord disciplines those he loves, and he punishes everyone he accepts as a son. Endure hardship as discipline…No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it (Hebrews 12:5-7; 11).

Finn’s yellow scrawl is actually his most favorite food.

My mess is actually Jesus’ refinement, making me more like Him and less like me.