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


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.


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.


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.


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. 


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. 
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). 
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. 


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.