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Two Wednesdays ago I was dragging my tired self to my car after Wednesday night service at church.  I spied my friend Luci across the parking lot with her daughter Tori knowing instantly that their weariness outmatched mine.  They're currently camped out in their third residence post-Hurricane Harvey.  It's about twenty-five minutes away from home.

We talked about how early she was having to get up in the morning to get Tori to school and about how late the nights were, being that she and her husband are working late at their house, putting up sheet rock every opportunity they get.

She then commented that a friend had gotten her a Crock Pot, but that she wasn't sure what to cook in it.  And that's when the two fatigued but good-willed brain cells left staggering in my brain got a tiny idea.

The next day, Thursday, I got to have lunch with my buddy Miranda who's currently living the camper trailer life. I got caught up on how life is treating her, being that her daughter is a senior this year. Sad, but exciting stuff.  We talked about how her house was coming along since flooding.  It was then that those tired brain cells nudged me and said, "Hey, remember? We had a great idea about sharing some love through Crock Pots?"

On impulse, rather than having a plan, Miranda and I talked about having a dinner for friends whose homes have been damaged, and even lost because of Harvey. She sat at my table and helped me brainstorm even though her own kitchen is under major reconstruction.

Families are living in hotels and trailers, not to mention those who are living in tents. Others are living in their gutted houses while trying to carry on a normal life, whatever that means these days. Eating out gets expensive. Sandwiches get old.

Knowing little more other than it was an idea worth pursuing, I made a Facebook post asking for Crock Pot recipes.  As Facebook always does, it obliged me generously with easy and delicious-sounding recipes for the Crock Pot.

I invited all of the gals from our church whose homes flooded, along with a few other friends I ran into, deciding to throw together a cookbook to give out at a Crock Pot dinner.  Friends offered their recipes and to bring door prizes. Some brought a Crock Pot dish or a Crock Pot to give away.

What I'm getting around to (using an excessive amount of words) is that with the recipes I've collected, a cookbook has been put together that will hopefully make life a bit easier for those of you with wrecked kitchens, horrific schedules and brain cells that are more tired than mine.

So here are fifty recipes. This Easy Dinner Crockpot Cookbook was put together in hopes that your heart and belly might be filled.

If your kitchen or phone is in working order share some love with your neighbor through a crockpot meal, a crockpot or by sharing this post.



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We're still reeling from Hurricane Harvey. Conversations about loss continue to come up on sidewalks and in checkout lines. That's one thing I'm grateful for, that we're talking with one another...really talking.


Just when I think I've heard the hardest story yet, I hear another heart wrenching tale of loss. There's the stranger, who I now call friend, who tearfully recounted watching the floodwaters rise in her living room while her young daughter slept on the couch. She relayed the harrowing account of waiting for rescue as the water got higher and higher. We have a friend dealing with cancer and the flooding of his home and his workplace. Then there's the man trying to concentrate on his job while he's displaced from his home. He'd had flood insurance...until recently. There's yet another friend who'd received unthinkable bad news six weeks before the storm. Now they've lost their home and both cars.  There are countless other similar stories. 

In all this I've heard the same statement over and over. 

I know there are those out there worse off than me. 

I guess they're right. Perhaps there's one person or one family who is the utmost worst off from this storm. Even then, maybe there's a worse storm elsewhere. Here's the truth. 

All storms matter. 

Your neighbor may be suffering  more difficult circumstances than you. You may have convinced yourself that your loss may not compare to theirs.  That doesn't diminish your suffering. Your pain exists in the midst of the pain of the guy across town that you've calculated to be worse off than you. 

Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground outside your Father’s care. 

...you are worth more than many sparrows. Matthew 10:29-30

We know you're struggling. 

We know that when you say that "things are just things",  you mean it, but we also know those things (your kids drawings, cherished handwritten cards and favorite books) are love in paper form. We can only imagine the difficulty in parting with memories. We know many of you are trying to find a new means of transportation. You're waiting on aid or adjusters. It's frustrating, if not maddening. 


 We realize that you're glad for your safety, for your life. That's healthy perspective. We also know your heart is half broken and your tired soul is split between remembering the night the waters rose and facing an unknown tomorrow, circumstancially speaking. (We hope you know who has your tomorrow in his hands). 

Please allow yourself to acknowledge your loss. Don't feel the need to tell us you're fine when you're really not. 

Please grieve what needs to be grieved. We are grieving with you even if we can't exactly grasp what you're going through. Because you hurt we hurt too. 

We won't completely understand what it's like to lay your head on someone else's pillow night after night or how worrisome it is to wonder where you'll lay your head down next week. We can't comprehend how anxious it must feel to wonder if work will start up again soon so you'll be able to get a paycheck. For many of us, life as we know it is returning to its familiar routine. We know it's not for you. When we forget please remind us. 

Maybe your storm isn't even called Harvey

Let us know how we can help, how we can pray. Let us remind you that God knows every detail of your suffering and he does understand. He is here to help.  He has a plan. He knows those things precious to you. And he wants you to know that you are precious to him. 

You're struggling. It's ok to acknowledge that. 

But also know that where the waters rise, hope does too. 

When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you. Isaiah 43:2 ESV

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Harvey has left an impression on us that won't go away anytime soon. The stories are more than can ever be recounted or properly expressed, but may we try. 

Last week our community was in such bad shape from Harvey that our stores couldn't open. Then they opened but you had to wait, sometimes hours, to get in and the supplies were limited. Needed bread? Too bad. There wasn't any. Neither were there chips. And eggs and milk were a precious commodity. 

As people waited to even get in the store, they had little else to do but relate with strangers (also in line). It was a welcome change from our rush, rush, rush lifestyle. It reminded me of time spent in Kenya where I witnessed people moving more slowly and talking to one another on sidewalks because they had nothing better to do. We were doing that too last week. And it was refreshing. 

Most people waiting in line with me to get in at The Dollar Store last week weren't even in line to get something for themselves but rather for someone else in need. One woman waiting was there to get laundry detergent and mesh bags for the laundry she was doing for the first responders. 

Another woman was on a mission to find a couple hundred ziploc bags to feed evacuees at the airport. I sent her to my house, because for some odd reason, I'd just a week before, purchased a box of 300. We easily became like neighbors, one sharing a cup of sugar with another. 

Two days ago I went to the grocery store in need of 300 individual bags of chips. Oh boy, did the store have chips, only not what I needed. Instead I faced an aisle that made me feel like I was stuck in an episode of The Twilight Zone. Barbecue chips anyone? 


I just now checked out of Market Basket. The chip aisle has been restored. There were boxes of individually bagged, assorted chips. They had Doritos and Pringles and every other brand stacked nicely in its place. I purchased my needed items, flashed a quick smile at fellow shoppers and made my way to my car. Some things are going back to normal; in our stores at least. 

I have a strange prayer though. One that, hopefully, won't seem insensitive to those who are still suffering great loss. 

I pray that as things go back to normal, we won't

I pray that as items continue to be recovered and replaced, and as houses are rebuilt, that our community will remain changed. I pray that those of you watching from the outside will be changed too. God is doing something new. 

We are looking to the needs of others like never before; becoming better neighbors and coming closer together as sisters and brothers, even the ones we're meeting for the first time. We're no longer strangers. 

There is still an incredible amount of need here in Nederland and the surrounding area. Besides the need for food and a permanent place to rest heads, a greater need has been exposed... the need to better love one another. Not to just love one another at arm's length, but to truly and consistently love one another as Christ loved the church. 

May we not go back to normal. 

And do not be conformed (by going back) to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect. Romans 12:2

A few pictures from after the storm...


I'm not wearing my glass slippers today. Not even one of them. It's a no ball to go to, mopping sort of why don't any of my pants fit right kind of day.  I did manage to throw my "in desperate need of a trip to the salon" hair in a ponytail.  I secured my unruly bangs with a bobby-pin and quickly applied my makeup; particularly my new lipstick, in hopes that it would distract from my hair while I had to get out of the house.  Only I'm not sure it works like that.

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Jason had a lunch date planned with the girls and I was in a rush to take Rylie to him at work. From there they would pick up Hallie and enjoy their Father-Daughter time.  I'd had my own business to take care of until that business fell through.  So I became the mildly cranky lunch tag-along...the fourth wheel with bad hair and cheeky red lips.

While we ate, the flat screen overhead advertised the McGregor/Mayweather fight.  We watched, but not much was said while we scarfed down our lunch.  About the time we paid for our ticket the conversation had drifted to whether or not a girl (or a guy for that matter) should consider her boyfriend when deciding where she'll go to college.

Turning the conversation toward myself (and inadvertently toward my disheveled appearance) I proudly reminded her that I had a small scholarship to a school that I turned down just for the sake of sticking right beside my beau, her dad. I picked him over the school I'd planned on attending my whole life (although be it a small school that would have choked me in loans).

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While my mind reminisced that sacrifice, it came back to our memory that her dad too had given up a scholarship to stick around with me. Jason received an appointment to West Point Academy in New York. Little did I know then that the admission process was extremely competitive and that this institution was so highly regarded.  I looked up the value of such a scholarship and learned that West Point cadetship was worth around $450,000 in 2009. That's half a million bucks.

Today it sunk in just how great a sacrifice he made for a girl who he would learn snores and who's made him one coconut pie their entire marriage 1. because she burned her arm pretty bad the first time and 2. because she doesn't even like coconut and 3. she's not a great cook in general.

Don't get me wrong.  This isn't an I'm not worthy post, but rather a Gosh I'm grateful kind of expression.  As irony would have it, I'd be reminded on the worst of hair days and on something like day eleven of a slightly sour attitude. While bragging about a small gesture I made twenty-four years ago I was hit smack in the bad-haired forehead how undeservedly rich I am in love.

Jason still loves me in a grand sort of way when my hormones are off kilter and when the kitchen floor and my roots are neglected.  He loves me when I haven't hung all the laundry and when I speak sharply. I suppose he especially loves me then.

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That's what love is, isn't it?  Giving even when there's not as much to get back. Looking right past the price tag and assigning value. Because I'm greatly loved I guess I can say I look like a million bucks.  That's what the story tells me. Even on bad hair days.  Well...at least half a million.

God's gifts put man's best dream to shame.  -Elizabeth Barrett Browning



 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Bet you wouldn't guess I've never had my nails done. Nope. Not even for my wedding. I've received a few pedicures as gifts and took the girls to get one once or twice. 

I consider these things an extravagance. 

Today I got them done though. They're just painted which makes it less of a big deal than if they'd been fully manicured or dipped or whatever it is they do. What makes it a big deal is that I intentionally stopped biting them this week just for the occasion (even though biting my nails is my go to stress reliever and this week entailed stress).

 I also painted them red at the request of my sixteen year old who was getting hers red too. For my toes I usually pick out the same pale pink. It was her treat so I let her pick. 


The lady did my nails first and then Hallie's. I just listened as my girl chattered on about her job. I was wishing my nails weren't wet so I could grab my phone out of my purse to capture her soft profile which has changed recently without my knowledge or permission. 

She smiled as she shared the joy in the easier part of her day; using the paper shredder. She shared how (much to her dismay), she'd learned that some makeup she'd bought online had been tested on animals. Then she said something that made me catch my breath. 

When I grow up I want to be...

Here was this confident, responsible beautiful person beside me talking about when she grows up. I looked at her and realized neither of us have realized that she's well on her way. 


I've read more than enough cliche "time slow down" comments under pictures of growing girls in tutus. We know. Life's seasons are hardly any less dramatic than a time lapse video of the rising and setting sun.  I've written a myriad of blog posts that reflect that sentiment. And yet here I am again. I can't help myself. 

Our children and the beautiful transformation that takes place as they grow is the one phenomenon that disproves that wise old saying "A watchpot never boils".  I've kept my eyes as watchful as I thought a mother could. And still they grow at breakneck speed right before my eyes. 

So here's my advice. Paint your nails with your daughter. Paint them red. 

The brevity of it all is unavoidable. Love extravagantly and don't forsake the beauty. 

P.S. We went to dinner after getting our nails done and had The Monster Cookie for dessert.  



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I sat curled up in my chair in our small prayer room this morning looking out the window. Another new day was awaiting. 

The kids were still snoozing and the dogs had yet to begin their clockwork yipping at the first walker who would soon stroll past our house on Memphis. 

I'd just read Psalm 119...the whole thing. I was thinking to myself how the one chapter could have been an entire book of its own. The Psalmist apparently just couldn't quit talking to God and about God.  

Like usual, after my scripture reading  I began to lift up the near innumerable requests written in my prayer notebook. Those requests, like always,  were mixed in with a spontaneous kind of prayer that often leaps from my heart. One of those sprung up thoughts of praise included a month old desire that God granted yesterday without any effort on my part.

There was something that I'd privately hoped to be able to do and, lo and behold, I was invited by someone yesterday to do that very thing. 

God is so good. 

Just to think he knows the desires of my heart;  the tiny seemingly meaningless desires and the ones so big they near burst outside my chest. 

Not that He always grants every desire. He doesn't. So many of them are selfish. If given everything I wanted I'd be swallowed up in fruitless endeavor and pleasure. That's no life. 

No. God uses my unfulfilled wishes to teach me about patience and self control. He grants me perspective and matures me in my faith. 

I thanked God this morning that, only in good measure, does He give me what I long for.

More importantly, He always provides what I need.  


I'm a daughter of a King who gives good things, including my heart's wishes, my needs and purposeful things my limited mind can't conceive.  I belong to a Father who disciplines gently when I don't know the difference. The One who calls me His own (even when I'm forgetful of who He is,) loves me without end. 

I didn't do anything to deserve such a life. I was born this way. What can I say? 

I'm privileged. I know that. And I want you to know that I fully understand this favor hasn't been earned, but rather graced. 

I suppose it would be rather boastful to share such things if the privilege I've been bestowed wasn't available for you too. Oh, but it is...

For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes...

Romans 1:16

As quickly as I'll share how rich my life is in Christ I'll tell you how poor I am without Him. I'll tell you how selfish and jealous and impatient I am in the flesh and how utterly hopeless my life would be without Him. Thank goodness for salvation. Christ died to set me free; to give me a new life to be born into, a life of privilege. 

Yes I'm privileged. It's the only privilege I boastfully claim. 

Instead I'm compelled to remind those of you who are in Him to be grateful and to testify to what it means to be loved by God (and in return serve Him). 

And if such riches have never been yours...if privilege is what you long for? God is what you need. 

...that their hearts may be encouraged, having been knit together in love, and attaining to all the wealth that comes from the full assurance of understanding, resulting in a true knowledge of God's mystery, that is, Christ Himself, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. Colossians 2:2-3



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I've spent two nights this week arguing with a second grader.  Not my kid.  It's VBS week at our church.  I'm one of the travelers for second grade.

During Bible study the kids were told to get in groups of two.  Being that there was an odd number of children, my second grade friend told me he didn't have a partner.  I suggested he join the two kids in front of me, to which he replied I can't.  The teacher didn't say I could.

To this concern, I assured him that it would be perfectly fine to join the group of two, adding that I am a teacher too, like a real teacher.

No you're not, he retorted.

He then began to look around the room at the other four teachers, each of whom were wearing a red VBS shirt.

You're not wearing the shirt, he told me.

As much as I tried to convince him that I had the authority to give him permission to join the two beside us, he was steadfast.  I wasn't a teacher and he wasn't moving.

Being the educated adult that I am, the next night during opening ceremony, I had the idea that he ask my husband what my profession was.  He then asked me who my husband was. Wide-eyed at his forgetting who I'm married to (I've known the kid for four years) I reminded him...It's Brother Jason.   You know that, right?

Creasing his right eyebrow and somehow simultaneously lifting up the corner of his mouth he looked at me incredulously.  No he's not! He is NOT your husband.

I called Jason over to our pew indicating with an aggressive wave of my hand that we had urgent business for which we needed his help.  So he came.

Brother Jason, what am I...what has been my job?, I asked.

A teacher,  he replied.

Right, I smiled.  And who are you to me?, I continued.

Jason looked at the boy stone-faced.  ...She's my mom.

(FBC Nederland, your pastor lies.)

 

No t-shirt.

No credibility.

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Don't ask me why it was so important that I convince a second grader. It's a little silly if you ask me. I worry too often whether or not people know me for who I really am.  I'm transparent. I'm cool with people knowing my mistakes and frailties. But I also want everybody to know these things about me.

  • I love Jesus.
  • I love my family.
  • I love people.

Not everybody knows that about me.

I can't help but remember the lady I had conflict with in the restroom in Target a few years ago.  She was standing by the sink (as opposed to near the stalls).  A stall soon opened up, but she remained in her spot.  Rather than asking if she was next in line, I assumed she was waiting for a child to finish up.  I paused and then proceeded to the stall.  She unleashed a wave of fury on me letting me know how rude I was for cutting in front of her in line.

I'm most positive my face contorted into what looked like an angry troll, but I kept my words few. I thrust my arm out and pointed to the open stall and said, Sorry, didn't know you needed to go, so just go!

She could have easily assumed I loved neither her nor Jesus.  I could have thought the same about her, after all, neither of us were wearing the t shirt, not that the shirt would have made a difference.

The shirt does little more than give an impression.  Time is the real teacher. Time affords us the opportunity to show who we are as we invest.  It grants us the chance to be who we are.  Most important, time, beating in slow grace-filled rhythm, shows those willing to see, whose we are.

...for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. Galatians 3:27

 

I'm on a global quest and need your help!

The Village Girl Handbook 2 will be released this fall. As in the first volume, there will be a section of the book devoted to thoughts from girls around the world. It's important for girls to not only be able to relate, but also to receive perspective. Hearing from voices worldwide will aid in just that.

If you know a girl (or lady) who lives in another country (or another state), I'd like for you to make contact asking her to respond to the following prompt.
IN 30 WORDS OR LESS, TELL GIRLS WHAT YOU'D LIKE THEM TO KNOW ABOUT LIFE
Here's an example:
"Laugh. Receive grace. Extend it. Be a searcher of beauty. Leave each situation better than you found it (as much as possible). Ask God's help! You've been created for this."

Kristi Burden

Nederland, TX

You can share this post with them, copy and paste the prompt and send it to them, or just ask them and have them type it up.

Please send their response to me through email- kristiburden@gmail.com
Make sure they include their name and where they are from (age is optional).
Please make sure the responses are

  • From outside of TX
  • 30 words or less
  • Their own words (not a quote)

I'll need them by August 10! Let me know if you have any questions.
If you'd like to know more about this book I'll be glad to share what it's all about. If you'd like to know more about the first book check it out here.

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I'll never forget my teacher's aide rushing into my classroom to tell me she saw my son Hayden in the principal's office his fourth grade year. I was a little slow in recognizing the significance of the situation.

He probably got hurt during recess, I offered, knowing that the nurse's office was next door.  Her telling expression let me know...that wasn't the case.  I was quickly summoned to the office where a dejected Hayden sat in a chair by the principal.

While Hayden sat silent (looking extremely nervous), I was given a brief summary of the account.  I was told that Hayden had punched a kid because he had incorrectly surmised that the kid threw a rock at him when in fact (the principal told me), the rock assault could have been an accident.

I was swiftly given two options for Hayden's punishment; licks or three days of "In School Suspension".  I chose BOTH (hoping spectators would know I discipline my kids) and then left the office and marched down the hall to my classroom trying to simmer down. 

How could he?!  This was the kid who'd been taught from toddlerhood to give up a toy rather fight over it. This was the kid who'd coach himself "Stop, breave (breathe) and fink (think)" when he'd get angry as a three year old. And really? Now he was throwing the first punch?

Hadn't everyone that knew me witnessed my countless talks with my kids (both my own children and my students) about being a peacekeeper and telling an adult when someone wouldn't leave you alone....and now I'd failed at ensuring my son played by those rules?... Would I become a laughingstock?  What would the church members think? Would this hurt the reputation of my (pastor) husband who teaches peace, patience and kindness from the pulpit?

That afternoon, when I finally gave Hayden a chance to speak, I found there was more to the story.  The friction between Hayden and the other boy had grown over the course of a couple of weeks with Hayden trying to be passive; a trait I'd so carefully ingrained in him. But the torment had finally accumulated to a point where Hayden broke.

I learned that teachers knew that the boy had made numerous attempts to escalate the situation (by use of insulting language and other means such as slight shoves before he decided to throw rocks at my kid), but nothing had been done about it.

Being that the news had already spread that evening by the time Wednesday church rolled around, I was asked a question by a male church friend who had detected my frustration toward Hayden.

Are you mad at Hayden because you're embarrassed about the situation or because you truly think he did the wrong thing?

Initially I thought he had done wrong. I'm still not sure what I expected from my son, but one thing was clear. After talking to those who witnessed the interaction, it was confirmed that Hayden had been severely provoked. My church friend posed an interesting question. The answer was that I was more worried about what everybody would think, and the possibility of my son becoming a public vigilante, than whether or not he made a reasonable decision considering the circumstances.

The next day I talked with the principal who agreed that 'pops' and a day in ISS were enough punishment. I apologized to Hayden for making my reputation (and his) more important than his emotional and physical well-being.  I apologized for all the times I coached him when he was younger to give away a toy he was rightfully playing with just to keep the peace. I cringe today and have apologized again as I think about the damage I may have caused. I'd repeatedly failed in looking out for my kid's best interest. 

I've failed since with the girls too, on various occasions, even recently.

When it comes to instructing and disciplining our children there's a simple equation we'd all do well to follow.

Your kid does something wrong (in the eyes of God)?...You discipline them.

I think as parents, too many times we allow the following unnecessary forces to influence our instruction and discipline:

  1. Our fear of embarrassment. I've coached the kids on how not to be weird. I can become too involved in their clothing choices (Do NOT wear those sandals with your athletic shorts). Is that really a moral problem? I'm afraid people think one of my kids talks too much. The other, I worry, doesn't talk enough to people she encounters. Will people think she's rude? He's sick, but will people wonder why he's not at church this morning?  And so I guide them (badger them) to be children who are pleasing, that is, to people.  Don't we as adults know, that's IMPOSSIBLE?
  2. We worry that others will find our kid annoying. Closely kin to my fear of my kids embarrassing me (or themselves) is the worry that others will find my kids annoying. I muddle down the definition of wrongdoing by getting on to my kids for behavior that may annoy the company they're with even though there may be nothing sinful about their behavior.  Don't fake laugh.  Don't raise your hand too much in class.  Don't hug too long or sit too close. Don't tell lame jokes or that story that no one wants to hear. Rather than considering whether or not their behavior is wrong, I use wide brushed strokes in my guidance; prohibiting any behavior that may not be easily likable.
  3. We 're too concerned that someone might misunderstand. Too many times the appearance of the matter overrides the heart of the matter. Not long ago I forced one of my kids to go out of her way to be overly friendly to someone who had treated her poorly over a course of several months (a simple "Hi" and a smile wasn't enough, I thought).  Why? Because the girl's mom wasn't aware of the situation and I didn't want the mom to think my daughter was unkind. The fact of the matter is that my daughter could have been kind without the unnecessary display just to avoid a misunderstanding.
  4. We give too much thought to what other parents deem appropriate for our own kids. Will they think she shouldn't be allowed to walk to school by herself/ have a cellphone/ take selfies/ eat at McDonalds/ drink a soda/ watch that movie... The question should always be, What does scripture have to say about this? Not, What will the Jones's think? 

Paranoid parenting is unhealthy.  Parenting strictly by what we believe scripture says may lead to our children experiencing rejection for what is thought unlikeable or popular.  There will be those who disapprove of things we allow our children to do. That's unavoidable. But through allowing their true self to seep through, they'll find those who love them for their quirks and through their immature and sometimes awkward life stages. Those who patiently and lovingly stick around are the ones they need to be around anyway. 

When we seek to teach our children what is pleasing to God, and stop worrying about pleasing the hoards, life will be less confusing and less disappointing for our children, and for us too. 

Train a child in the way he should go...Proverbs 22:6 
Check out the new book here