Thursday, July 23, 2015

real community

This evening I feel like God put it on my heart to write about my house church.

In the past, whenever I had heard someone mention a house church, I imagined it was a few little families that were deciding to rebel against the church-in-a-building model. I imagined they just did little bible studies and kept to themselves since they felt like all the other churches were doing it wrong.

Then I met another cool churchy mama named Andrea from my neighborhood who mentioned her house church. She was really cool though. Like with tattoos. So I was interested and asked about what her house church was like. They did house church on Sunday evenings, like how other churches do their small group during the week. They were part of a network of house churches that met during the week under Twin Cities Church, and that all gathered on Sunday mornings for worship and a teaching at a community center on the West Side.

We were already attending a church, one we had grown up in for most of our lives (our families had been members forever and it's where Matthew and I met.) We were happy there and loved our church family but had been feeling like it was time to "leave and cleave" and find a church that our family would grow up in.

Andrea's house church sounded interesting so we began to attend on Sunday evenings. We felt led to join and become a part of the house church and began to get more involved. Then we decided to visit their Sunday morning service and felt a total peace there. Soon we contacted our pastor and told him that we had decided to leave and become attenders at Twin Cities Church (TCC). Our pastor was loving and understanding and gave his blessing as we made the decision to leave.

We have now been members at TCC for about a year and a half and have grown so much. Each and every message has been so good, so relevant, and easily applied to our life.

This fall marks two years with our house church and although our group has been through many ups and downs, lots of change and transition, we truly are a family (made up of about 12 adults and a gaggle of children) and I know that we are right where we are supposed to be. We do life together. We go through the messes and grow together. We hold each other accountable. We are committed to one another. We pray together, we worship together, we study God's word together. We even share a meal... which is awesome at the end of the week (we meet on Thursday nights now) when I am tired of making dinner.

This is real community. And we meet just blocks from our house. It's what my heart has been desiring for years.

Tonight we sang It Is Well (click here to listen to it, it's beautiful) and as I looked around Andrea's living room I was overwhelmed with gratefulness for this group. This family.




Are you part of a community that loves you and cares for you? If not, get connected. Or come check out my church on Sunday morning at 10am. Come visit our Hamline Village house church on Thursday nights at 6pm. We gather in a living room after we eat a meal together. We study the bible, ask questions, do lots of processing. It's laid back. It's safe. We've all been through hard things, nothing surprises anyone in our group. We all have very diverse backgrounds and life experience. Come just as you are.

I'd be a hot mess without Jesus. #justsayin

xo


Tuesday, May 26, 2015

we haven't failed. sometimes there is just more...

This year has been hard so far. But, it's what I asked for. I wanted to be gutted and restored. I had no idea what that was going to look like. 

I think I thought that I was going to be really great at working out and taking better care of myself, and I think I thought I was going to have a simple and orderly change of heart over some issues and then it was all going to be resolved. And I think I thought it wouldn't really take that long. But we're on the cusp of summer time and I still have so far to go. Silly girl, Sierra.

I think that we are always hoping that "as soon as winter is over... as soon as I lose the weight... as soon as I finish this project... as soon as my husband and I learn to communicate better... as soon as my little one is a little older.... etc." that we will have arrived. And that will be it. But I'm continuing to learn that life is hard, timing never goes as we had planned, and things come up... hard things. Kids get sick. Weddings get canceled. Relationships drift apart (or come crashing down in an instant). Loved ones move away. Loved ones die. Sometimes it's even the fact that we don't have a dang dishwasher and the legos are seriously in every nook and cranny. Whatever it is, life gets over whelming. And before we know it we feel like we have failed.

But we haven't failed. There was just more to learn. More to understand. More growth that needed to take place. More experiences that needed to be had. 

So many amazing things have happened this year, and so much is on the horizon. As overwhelmed as I feel lately, I have hope that it's all for a reason, all for a purpose. 

So hang in there. Take it one day at a time. Be thankful for the things that are still intact and ushering you forward. 
>>><<<

My swears+prayers are often these days. My Jesus Take The Wheel hashtag is floating in the air above just about every moment with my kids lately. But I know God is listening and holding me near. I know that He delights in me and that as long as I cling to Him for comfort and direction, it's all going to be okay.

The other day, after "the worst day ever" (my children called it when we denied them nachos) some good old fashioned  family fun at an indoor water park and playground, my husband turned to me, and with total confidence he promised "we are going to make it through this. We are not going to die." 


I asked for a nice picture so that I could prove to them
in the future that we DO do fun stuff sometimes. #Jesustakethewheel

I'm just gonna choose to believe him.

Onward y'all. 


p.s. this is my 100th post!

Friday, March 27, 2015

I will survive spring break [I'm just not sure how... yet]

This raising boys thing is so dang hard lately. I think it's a combination of the weather being cold again, and the kids getting tired of school. We need summer to get here. Next week is spring break but I'm already scared. I have three boys to entertain for a week, and not a whole lot planned.

This weekend Matt and I are enjoying our quarterly kids-free weekend that my mom and her husband give us. Once every season we drop the kids off on a Friday night and they get brought back to us Sunday afternoon. It's a time to reconcile, relax, rest, drink wine, eat out and enjoy some peace and quiet... and a clean house.

After a seriously rough week, I dropped those boys off so fast but left with a heavy heart and a million thoughts racing through my mind... I won't miss them. I'm so glad I don't have to do bed time for the next two nights. I'm so mean... no THEY are mean. Max is disrespectful. I'm tired of Gabriel's whining.... I'm tired of the constant mess... I'm a horrible mom! I'm not fun. I don't do enough. I don't bring them to do fun things. They are always bored. How the hell am I going to survive spring break next week?!?  They ARE sweet, sometimes... I will miss them... but seriously how will I survive next week? 

I got home and one of my favorite friends and fellow boy-moms of three sent me a great link to an article by Jen Hatmaker. Read it here. You'll be glad that you did. It reminded me that YES I WILL SURVIVE this parenting thing, and spring break. And maybe I should find some Tab.

They will survive. I will survive.  #Jesustakethewheel

Here is how we have been surviving lately:

They discovered how to scale the hall walls. Great. This
counts as magical childhood right?
Eli is loving Big Hero 6 lately.

Gabriel and his fashion sense: plaid, stripes and cowboy boots.

Look who got glasses!

I'm not sure what this G.I. Joe is about to get into. 

Heck yes we celebrated Dairy Queen's 75th anniversary with free cones in 40 degree weather.

I had to throw this one in: All the Gaitan kids after grandpa Gil's funeral.
David and Sam are happy individuals, I swear....
the ones they were smiling in I didn't look as cute in
There just weren't any pictures with them smiling.



Friday, March 6, 2015

just EW.

Today started out really well.

I got up, got kids ready for school, walked them to the bus stop. The sun was shining and I was encouraged that the day would go well.
I got the gym for the third day in a row this week (after 2 1/2 weeks of not going. ew.)... then my two friends came over for breakfast and catching-up. It was a pretty sweet morning.

And then I feel like it all fell a part. I had some work to get done on the computer and I let the boys dump out the bin of Playmobile stuff. I was desperate for a moment of productivity. When it was time to clean up, they panicked and lost their ish. Eli had an accident. And then Gabriel had an accident. And when Gabe has one accident, it means 3 more are to follow. Little dude has issues with pooping lately.

ew.



Then I found my blush painted on the wall. And the stool pushed up to my dresser (which means Gabriel was snooping through my stuff) and the list continues. just more ew.

Then I started to panic about my homework for my Exodus group that I am in right now. Ya know, the group I was so excited to be a part of because I was so excited to be gutted and rebuilt this year?
(if you are confused about all this talk of "gutting and rebuilding" read my last post here)

more ew.

Being gutted SUCKS. MY FAULTY WIRES ARE HANGING OUT ALL OVER THE PLACE AND I AM SPRINGING LEAKS FROM ALL OVER THE PLACE AND MY ROOF NEEDS REPAIR AND THERE IS MOLD AND TERMITES AND ON TOP OF THAT THERE ARE SQUATTERS LIVING IN MY BASEMENT AND IT'S A FREAKING MESS.

I hate this. I wish I could go away for a month to do all of this work and inner healing. But I can't. Kids need me. Husband needs me. Life will not GIVE ME A BREAK and on top of it all, really amazing opportunities continue to arise. But I am being stretched in all directions. There is no time for rest. 

So I press on. And I apologize a lot to my kids and remind them that I make [lots] of mistakes but still love them like crazy. And I trust my husband will love me through this and give me lots of grace. And I count on my friends to understand this season of my life and support me. And I look to the good Lord to keep me from going insane and I believe in His promises over my life. 

And I also listen to a lot of Taylor Swift. My friend Jocelyn and I joke that One Thousand Gifts and Taylor Swift are crucial to this season. #1000giftsandtswifts

So there it is. My update on all this renovation stuff. just ew. 

p.s. my trip to California was AMAZING and I hope to make time to write about it here soon.
p.p.s. my sweet grandpa died a few days after I returned from California. So last week we were in Chicago for the funeral. 
p.p.p.s. kids are finally asleep. I survived another day. Thank God. 
p.p.p.p.s. Gabriel only had two more accidents after that, not three. #Jesustakethewheel

Monday, January 26, 2015

major renovations

Lately Matt and I have been watching Property Brothers. And Rehab Addict, and all the home renovation shows. 
I love houses. 
I love house renovation shows. 
I love dreaming about buying this huge house in our neighborhood someday when it's up for sale. It has three stories and is obviously owned by hoarders. I imagine that it would be an awesome fixer-upper. We would just need to rent 14 ginormous dumpsters to get rid of the ceiling high piles of boxes that are smashed against the blinds. The yard isn't super huge, and we'd need to build a double garage, but beside that, just some painting and TLC and that house would probably be amazing. 


Dear Property Brothers, please fix the hoarder house up for me. K thanks.
Oh. And my price range is like 6-7. Hundred. Yeah thanks.

Or not. Because if it's anything like the shows, chances are it's going to take a lot more than tearing down ugly wallpaper, painting, new Ikea cabinets and sanded floors to make that house into a functional home. The minute the linoleum comes up and those unnecessary walls come down, the worst comes to the surface. Water damage. Mold. Mice. Termites. Faulty electrical wires. The list continues. The gutting begins.

On the shows, when all the hidden damage comes to the surface, the owners are frantic, but hopeful, and they go through whatever it takes to fix it. They shed blood, sweat and tears (and MEGA BUCKS) to create their dream home. And at the end, they cry and smile and are amazed at what the finished product looks like. The home has been restored.


I'm in the same sort of process. 
But not with a house.
>>><<< 

This year, what is being GUTTED and RESTORED is me.
My body, mind, and spirit.

It's hard work man. Usually we work on one aspect at a time: our fitness, our marriage, our parenting, our own emotional health or spiritual life. Just one thing at a time. One.

Not me. And not by my own choice. As timing has it, I am in the midst of working on IT ALL.

body
>>><<<

I am seeing a personal trainer once a week and am doing cardio and strength training 3 times a week. I'm on my fourth week of a Whole30 so I am not eating grains, legumes, sugar or dairy and no alcohol. I'm taking vitamins and using doTERRA essential oils. 

mind
>>><<<

I'm reading One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp. Last year when all of my friends were reading it, I made fun of them. 
"OHHHH, that's so CUTE that you are finding joy in all the little things. 
GOOD. FOR. YOU.... 
I'm not into that sorta thing.
 I'm waist high in diapers, dishes and swears and prayers.
 No thanks." 
I was NOT in the place, I had NO desire to try to find joy in the trials. I just wanted to just SURVIVE. But now a year later, I find myself still waist high in those things, but with kids a little older. And trials looking a little different. And I am ready. When a friend posted on facebook that it was on super-sale on kindle, I went and purchased it. Best $2.99 I've spent this year. It's deep. It's not your typical Christian lady book, the kind where you can almost hear her southern belle accent and are told over and over live, laugh, love and dance in the storm and all that blah blah blah. 
This book is real, and raw and brutiful (brutal+beautiful, thanks for inventing the word Glennon Melton). 
((source))
I'm trying to teach  my mind to find gratitude and joy. Yes, in the little things. It's hard. It's SO HARD. Thank you Jesus for legos: especially when I swear as I step on them that my boys build amazing things that their little minds dream up. God thank you for my big comfy couch that is pilling and broken in one spot I get to cuddle next to my boys on. Lord thank you for these dirty, sticky piled up beautiful dishes, each one that has served my husband dinner or my boys their cereal. 
See? I'm working on it. 

spirit
>>><<<

Oh. This one. This one is hard. I love Jesus and silly me, that's not where I get to stop when it comes to my spiritual life. God Loves me right where I am, but He desires more for me. He wants healing and restoration. And that process is never cute. It's ugly. SO ugly.
I just started a group with my church called Exodus Group. The last two weeks were spent on each of us sharing our life story. In under ten minutes. That was tough, because the gutting process began.  
So many emotions. Gut-wrenching emotions. It's a nine week course I think, so we are just at the beginning, but I am hopeful. I know it's time. 
It's going to affect my marriage, my children, and my relationships in major ways.


God sees amazing potential in me, so He is taking me on as His fixer-upper with amazing plans in store. He already knows how it's going to look in the end, and He loves me just as much now as he will after I'm gutted and restored. 

What's hiding under your linoleum and behind your ugly wall paper? 
I challenge you to being gutted too. 


((source))





Monday, December 15, 2014

Good Thing Santa Ain't Real, My Sweet Boys

[Let's just get this our here folks, no judgement please. 
As for me and my household, Santa is not real, and we gently explain that 
when the time comes and the questions are asked. 
We make it clear that other families may believe in Santa and that's okay too.] 

"In our house, mama and daddy put the presents under the tree."



Last week we went to a Christmas event and Santa was present. On our way in I reminded the boys of the general rules: 
1. Do not ask Santa if he is real ("We already know that he is not, and this is a fun time to just pretend and be silly, kind of like we do at Halloween.")
2. Do not mention around all the children in there that Santa is not real. ("Other families may believe in him and it's not our job to tell them differently.")

We went in and decorated cookies with friends, and then before we left the boys wanted to visit with Santa. They were so excited to share what they wanted for Christmas and it was as if the most famous celebrity in the world was in the room. They were completely starstruck. (we let them have fun with the santa thing, it's not like we are shielding them from the fun stuff)

Max and Eli sat on his lap (Gabriel hid behind me because he is so shy) and when asked what he wanted for Christmas Max told Santa that he wanted a policeman lego set. But Santa was not impressed. "You mean to tell me you don't have enough legos at home? I bet your mom and dad are tired of stepping on them." 

[Actually, we don't have a ton of legos and we bought them more for Christmas.]

Then he went to Gabriel, and asked what his wishes were for Christmas. "I want a nerf gun." Santa straight told him no and moved on to Eli. Then Gabriel quickly changed his mind as to not miss out on the opportunity to have Santa's blessing over his gift wish. So he asked for legos too. Santa was not impressed. Eli mumbled that he wanted "guys" (action figures) and then Santa told the boys that if they could go then next 13 days, 7 hours and 4 minutes without fighting that he would make sure that there was a special gift under the tree for each boy. And then he said "But I'm guessing you boys won't make it til the end of the night."

...

The boys wanted a picture with him, so I took one. Even though my heart ached a little bit at the fact that that was not "fun and silly" at all. It's okay if I tell my boys that I'm tired of picking up legos and stepping on them, and it's okay if I  tell Gabriel "no nerf guns" but it was not so much fun hearing it from Santa.

When we finally made it in to the car, the fighting started right away (as it always does after sugar has been devoured at record pace) and I turned around and hollered "YOU KNOW WHAT YOU GUYS? IT'S A GOOD THING SANTA IS NOT REAL!!!" That got their attention real quick. "Why would you say that mom!? That's so MEAN!" they told me. Then I went on with words that sounded something like this:

"It's a good thing Santa is not real because Santa ONLY brings toys to kids who are PREFECT. He has a good list and a bad list and by the way you guys are acting right now- do you think he would be writing your names on the good list? He told you he would ONLY bring those presents if you guys don't fight for THIRTEEN more days. You guys didn't make it THIRTEEN SECONDS. Mom and dad love you unconditionally and we don't put presents under the tree because you guys deserve it or have earned it by being "good boys." We bless you with gifts because we love blessing you with special things sometimes, whether you have been making good choices OR bad. God works the same way. He provides for us and gives us what we need EVEN THOUGH WE DON'T DESERVE IT. He doesn't JUST give us gifts if we are "good", be gives us what we need no matter what. So it's a GOOD thing Santa isn't in charge or NONE OF US WOULD GET GIFTS at Christmas."

Harsh right? Not really. I told them in a loving way, at a crucial moment, where I had their attention and they were teachable. 

I want my boys to be secure in the unconditional love and care of God our Father. I want them to know that even when we screw up, and fight with our brothers, and disobey and are rude, that there is redemption through a forgiving Jesus who gives us second chances... all the second chances we need, over and over and over again when we ask.  

I want my boys to find hope and security in a God that provides and pours down blessings even when we don't deserve it, and I want them to learn from an early age, because I did and I am still learning to understand it.

Okay, just had to get that out. More so for me. 

My parents did an awesome job of keeping Christmas sacred and holy, with a little bit of the silliness of Santa and reindeer and all that jazz. I hope to be able to do the same.

This mom stuff is hard. SO hard. 


merry christmas. 



Monday, November 10, 2014

What does a Trades of Hope trunk show look like?


 I'm really excited about numerous opportunities I have coming up to share Trades of Hope. Many of my hostesses don't really know what to expect so I decided to share a little peak at what one of my Trades of Hope trunk shows looks like; here is an overview of what it's all about.

When I decided to become a Compassionate Entrepreneur with Trades of Hope, I was sick with anxiety. You guys I have done the Mary Kay thing, and other direct sales things that have not worked for me because I am not a sales person. I did not start Trades of Hope because I am a self-motivated business type. I started because I have a heart for the millions of women and children stuck in the sex industry. I want to be part of the help that gives hope and a future to women who can't feed their babes. I have a desire to be an advocate, a voice for the voiceless, and this is one of the tangible things I can do.

We all buy cute things to decorate our house and most of us wear jewelry and accessories. Even more of us use purses and bags to carry around diapers, Ipads or your necessities for work. Have you ever thought about who makes those things? Usually it's groups of people (including children) who are being under-paid, in undesirable working conditions, with no benefits, no breaks, no adequate bathrooms, and bosses who demand long hours and are unable or willing to care for their workers as individuals with basic needs.

(source)
(source)
We work with reputable organizations (most fair-trade certified*) and ministries that pay their workers livable wages, generally 3-6 times more than they would make if they were working on their own selling their goods on the street. Many of the organizations/ministries are able to provide benefits like job skill training, budgeting classes, dental and health care, childcare while the women work, etc.

(*those that are not officially fair-trade certified still follow fair-trade guidelines; their groups are just too small and unable to pay the fees enabling them to have the certification)


Artisans in Haiti from the Apparent Project
One of our artisans in Uganda
Esther is one of our artisans in India. 
Our group in Costa Rica is happy to work with Trades of Hope. Our large orders
enable them to hire more women and create amazing change in the slums where they are located. 

So what does one of my Trades of Hope trunk shows look like? 

I bring a couple of "trunks" full of the items made by our artisans and I display them creatively in your home or wherever you have decided to host. I have done shows in both. I love being in people's homes, but it is also really fun and easier for the hostess to be at a neighborhood coffee shop (where they do all the dishes, make the coffee, serve the wine and provide the treats.)



We wait for all of your friends to arrive, and then after everyone is settled in with their drinks we begin. I just basically share my heart, educate about the global issues going on that are negatively impacting so many women around the world, suggest tangible ways we can help, and encourage everyone to take part in one way, shape or form. We have amazing discussions, share experiences, and ask questions. Sometimes we cry. Sometimes we pray. Sometimes hard questions are asked and hard answers are given.


Sometimes hearts are broken, but they are quickly encouraged. This is not a pity party to make you feel bad for being a privileged American. This is an opportunity for you to become aware, and for you and your friends to help be a light where there is so much darkness.


Then we refill our drinks, enjoy some snacks and everyone shops. Most of our items are under $50 so even those of us on a tight budget are able to leave with something special. One of my favorite pairs of earrings is just $20.

Earrings range from about $18 to $32.
Some items are available to purchase at the trunk show,
other items are shipped to your home for a flat rate of $4.95
Bright and colorful bags, clutches, purses and even a child's sized turtle backpack
One of our best sellers, this necklace is from Haiti and is a beautiful collection
of hand-made beads; some are made of clay, some are made of CEREAL BOXES!
Not a "jewelry person"? Bracelets are a great and easy way to ease into wearing accessories.
At the end of the night it's fun to take a picture of everyone that was able to come, if that's your kind of thang:)

And some times we sneak cute pictures of  our cute friends
wearing their cute new stuff:)

If you want more info or would like to place an order online 
you can check out my website here.

If you have any questions, want to book a party 
or want info on becoming a compassionate entrepreneur 
you can email me at:
sierra.tradesofhope@gmail.com

[all photos not sourced were graciously shot and shared by Sarah Hardie Photography]