Monday, May 3, 2010

The Right Tool for the Job

I am hopelessly unorganized.

There. I admit it. Its out there in the universe for you all to see...

I am unavoidably messy.

Yup. I leave my clothes in a pile at the EXACT spot where I took them off. And they will remain there for quite some time.

I am perpetually distracted.

I find myself trying very hard to focus on details and specifics. And yet my poor little brain just wanders away around detail number 4 and starts thinking about something pretty I saw last month.

Now, don't get me wrong. This is not a "wow... I wish I was like so and so but I just have to accept myself the way I am" post. If I was writing about myself 5 years ago - that is exactly what it would have been. But I have made peace with the way I am. I recognize the talents and gifts that God has given me cause me to think a bit differently - and I'm ok with that.

BUT - that doesn't mean that I don't try and work on these areas of inadequacy. I mean, the fact of the matter is, I do have 4 children who need to be properly fed and clothed; who need permission slips filled out and teeth cleaned, so I recognize the importance of all things "responsible."

And so, I've tried to help myself out a bit by filling my life with tools to help me get a little bit more organized. I have a big family calendar where I try and write everything down so I don't forget. I put my kids school notes in a specific place on the fridge so I can see what they need to bring to school each day. I flag emails that I need to respond to. I make lists and notes and remind my sister to remind me to remind my husband about stuff. I'm trying.

I am realizing that if you have a "weakness" - its really important to KNOW it - OWN it - and DO SOMETHING about it. Surround yourself with things and people who can help you work through it. Oh my - am I thankful for the people who have come around me in my areas of ministry who send emails, organize decorations, recruit volunteers, and handle all the stuff I STINK at.

I was thinking today about how lost I would be without my calendar. How its just the right tool for me - and if I USE it, I can keep myself from falling behind on all kinds of things.

And then I started thinking about the other areas that I am weak in. My propensity for people pleasing. The way I can speak gossip or negativity without a second thought. The temptations that I find my heart gravitating to over and over again. What am I doing about THOSE areas of vulnerability?

We all have weaknesses. You've got to OWN them - KNOW them - and DO SOMETHING about them.

Are you tempted to worry? Then write out all the scriptures you can find that assure you of God's faithfulness and His command to pray instead of fretting. Give yourself some tools to help your mind fight the battle of anxiety.

Are you finding yourself overspending? Then don't put yourself in a situation where you can spend money. Put away those credit cards. Don't wander around Target when you're bored. Recognize the times where you are tempted to comfort yourself with "stuff" and choose instead to run to Jesus.

Are you finding yourself a little too excited to see that guy at the gym who isn't your husband? Then, sweet friend... KNOW IT - OWN IT - and do EVERYTHING in your power to RUN from that temptation. Tell a friend. And NOT the friend who will giggle about it and encourage you. Tell the friend that will rip up your membership and show up at every class and make sure you don't do something stupid.

I think sometimes we find ourselves in a mess because we just aren't honest enough about the areas we are not strong in. If we would be purposeful in addressing our spiritual weakness instead of ignoring them or trying to hide them - I think a LOT more of us would find healing and the strength to overcome those flaws and failures.

So just be honest with yourself and then get to work in finding the right tools for the job. You'll be SO glad you did.

Now, where did I put that calendar?

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Unable to be Unfaithful

Never changing
Never failing
You are faithful and true
Sure as the morning
A new day dawning
You are faithful and true

We sang these beautiful words penned by my sweet friend Ryan Williams this morning at church. I was struck anew by them - although I have sung them hundreds of times.

NEVER changing...
NEVER failing...


What a comfort that is to me today. Seems to me that everything is changing. My kids are changing. My husband is changing. My friends are changing. I am changing.

I always thought I loved change. But as you get older - change carries a whole lot more weight than it did when I was younger. Change affects my comfort. Change affects my security. Change takes everything I THINK I know about my life and future and flips it upside down - inside out - and leaves me wondering what in the world I can count on.

Change very often breeds anxiety. I don't like anxiety. Who does, really? I don't like lying awake at night trying to figure out how it all is going to work out. I don't like worry. I don't like stress. Change seems to bring these feelings into my heart and mind - and I hate it.

But the truth about anxiety -is that it is a symptom of something spiritually out of whack in my heart. For if I TRULY believed that God has a plan for my life; if I TRULY believed that He has my days and minutes and hours beautifully and mercifully ordered; if I TRULY believed that He was FAITHFUL, then there should be no fear in change.

And that was what struck me this morning as I sang. I realized I had lost sight of one very important fact. Not only was God faithful - He is UNABLE to be UNFAITHFUL.

Although I know in my head that He is faithful, I think that sometimes I convince myself that "this time" He has somehow forgotten to take care of me. Or that "this time" He has decided to step off the scene and let me fend for myself for a while. "This time" in "this circumstance" in "this situation" He has chosen to turn His back on my troubles.

But nothing could be further from the truth.

God is constant. Forever the same. In a world where everything WILL change, He is the rock that we can all fix our gaze on. He cannot be unfaithful to me. Its not in his character.

This is fantastic news - because not only is God unchanging; He is good. So when I wonder what the heck is going on in my life, I can rest that my good and faithful Father has it covered. Today, tomorrow, forever. Everytime. Every situation. In every possible way imaginable, He is working on my behalf.

When my anxiety begins to whisper to my heart that He has forgotten about me, I must remind myself that He is UNABLE to forget about me because He has literally carved my name on His hand. (Isaiah 49:16)

So today, I am again reminded that He is...

Today forever.
More than faithful.
My hope... Forever.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Yes and No...

"Will you play games with me?"  
"Can I have another snack?"
 "Can I play with my friends?" 
"Can i help you?"  
"Will you help me"

I am amazed at the amount of times every day in which I have to say these two words:  YES and NO.

Sometimes the sheer volume of questions and the impending deductive reasoning exercises I must force myself to engage in to come up with an answer is quite overwhelming.  Most of the time, the answer is easy, "No, you may not jump off the top bunk."  or  "Yes, I heard you ask if you can skip doing your homework and watch one more episode of Jonas... but I'm positive that you already know what the answer to that question will be, my sweet child."

But other times, I am forced to weigh the options, look at the big picture, think ahead, and try to stick to my guns even in the times when I would rather let them all fend for themselves and just leave me be.

I'm not a big decision maker.  Some people revel in taking charge and making choices.  Me, I'd rather have somebody else do it for me.  I'm fairly laid back at home, and so for most things I have to muster up the energy to establish and enforce my answers.

This indecision (and a nagging people pleaser problem that I'm ruthlessly trying to rid myself of) make those two little words weightier.  I am realizing that I'm too quick with my "yes" and "no".  I am convicted that I do not spend enough time asking the Holy Spirit to guide my "yeah's" and "nay's."  I want to be more purposeful in how I spend my time and energy.

God has really been challenging me in this area.  What am I saying "yes" to, that instead, I should be saying "no?"  What am I saying "no" to, that should be warranting an enthusiastic "yes?"  He is calling me to make some big changes in my life and I am struggling in walking out those decisions in obedience.  But I learned a long time ago, that I made Jesus LORD of my life, and that means that HE gets to tell me what to do, and my job is simply to do what He says.

SO, for me, God is challenging me to say more "yes's" to... "Mom, will you sit down and read this book to me?" More "no's" to wasting time on Facebook.   More "yes's" to studying and writing.  More "no's" to putting my husband's needs behind everyone else.  "Yes's" to patience, perseverance, and advocating for my children.  "No's" to feeling like I have to do everything for everybody.

But that's MY stuff.  What's YOUR stuff?  Maybe for you, you need to say more "yes's" to serving outside your home and more "no's" to too many kids activities.  Maybe you need to say "no" to that boss who is asking too much of you and say "yes" to something you feel you should be doing to make your marriage stronger?  Maybe you need to clean less and play more. (This is definitely not me!!!  But I know you girls are out there!!!)

All I'm saying, my friends, is that we have to continually seek God for direction for our Y's and N's - and then have the courage to walk it out.  We cannot just keep walking through our lives blindly saying "yes" and "no" without regard to God's sovereign plan and leading in our lives.  We'll get messed up doing the wrong things at the wrong time for the wrong reasons.  And that's no good for anyone.

So here's to you... may your "yes's" be full of excitement and adventure, and your "no's" full of strength and grace.

Colossions 1:9-12 - Be assured that from the first day we heard of you, we haven't stopped praying for you, asking God to give you wise minds and spirits attuned to his will, and so acquire a thorough understanding of the ways in which God works. We pray that you'll live well for the Master, making him proud of you as you work hard in his orchard. As you learn more and more how God works, you will learn how to do your work. We pray that you'll have the strength to stick it out over the long haul—not the grim strength of gritting your teeth but the glory-strength God gives. It is strength that endures the unendurable and spills over into joy, thanking the Father who makes us strong enough to take part in everything bright and beautiful that he has for us.

I love you.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Benefit for Leslie McClain

Good morning friends! Wanted to pass along the information for Leslie's fundraiser.

It's being held at Grizzly's Grill 'N Saloon, 15020 Glazier Avenue, Apple Valley, on the morning of Saturday, September 26th from 8:00 to 10:30 am (last seating at 10:00). The cost is $6.00 per ticket. Tickets are available for purchase at the reception desk of Apple Valley Ford Lincoln Mercury from Wednesday, September 16th through Wednesday, September 23rd. Tickets may also be reserved for purchase at the door by emailing with your requested quantity. Checks can be made payable to the "Leslie McLain Donation Fund".

Grizzly's will donate the food and beverages and Thrivent Financial for Lutherans® will be matching the proceeds for this event (up to $3,200). A special thank you to both for their generosity.

On behalf of the people planning the benefit, thank you for your time.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

How Do I Love Thee?

Oh, Target. Sweet Target. Thank you, thank you, thank you. I recognize that there are times that I take you for granted. Your shiny red circles. Your long kid friendly stroller carts. Your Starbucks lovingly placed for my shopping enjoyment.

Sometimes you have to stray away, before you realize what you had all along.

Yesterday, I went to Walmart.

I was in need of a few last minute school supplies (which my lovely Target was inexplicably sold out of!) so I headed off to my local Walmart. First of all, the cars in the parking lot were strangely parked wildly askew. Are their lines crooked? Is the Walmart shopper unable to line up their car with the painted lines? I was perplexed.

Then I tried to get a cart. For ALL my kids. You know, a multi-seater where I can strap in 2, throw one in the front, and let one hang off the back like the responsible mother I am. No big carts in sight. My children were forced to run around unrestrained which inevitably leads to a cart full of secretly hidden items which I have no idea where they came from. Did I really pick up 5 boxes of Fruit Gushers and not remember it?

Then I tried to push my teeny tiny cart through an aisle where some "associates" were stocking a shelf. Between their carts and the 3 other people standing there watching them, I couldn't get through. So I stood there. And I stood there. I kind of cleared my throat a little. Finally, I said, "Pardon me, can I sneak through, please?" No kidding... with the S -L-O-W-E-S-T movement possible, they painstakingly moved like 2 feet so I could inch by with my brood of children.

But the kicker...we decided to hit the restrooms on the way out. 3 of the 5 stalls have half taped on handwritten signs that say, "out of order." I'm waiting for my kids to come out of the stalls when an associate from the customer service desk comes in with a gallon of milk that has been returned because its gone bad. She opens it up and starts pouring it down the drain, filling the room with the fine aroma of spoiled milk! In the customer's bathroom!!!

So, Target, I know I strayed. I got sucked into the promise of cheaper diapers and Miley Cyrus clothing lines. But I've learned my lesson. I'm yours... eternally.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

It's the Little Victories...

Ok, ok. Don't fall off your chairs or anything. I have been on a bit of a blogging "hiatus." I guess that would be quite an understatement, since my last post was from February. Oh well, such is life. And today is a new day and I'm ready to get rolling again.

We have had a major breakthrough at the Kerr house this summer. It has revolutionized our family dynamic, comforted my anxious heart, and brought joy and happiness to our whole clan. What is this monumental milestone? Charlie learned to ride his bike.

Yup. That's it. My 8 year old boy has finally crossed over into the ranks of the fearless and reckless boy-bike-riders. Now this might not seem like a big deal to you. But like I said before, it's a HUGE deal to us.

First of all, it has been something my husband has tirelessly worked towards for 3 summers in a row. Charlie has been terrified of his bike. (after a major wipeout... and a general lack of motivation for "thrill seeking activities.") And he has struggled with some large motor coordination - so it was actually a difficult thing physically for him to do. So - Dad gets the prize for tenacity and patience.

Secondly, it has encouraged me in my general "mom/worry" emotional state. I have to admit that I have some latent fears when it comes to my son. I guess when the kid arrives on the planet 12 weeks early, and the doctors give you a laundry list of things he "might not be able to do..." you always have in the back of your mind an anxiety that he will face extraordinary obstacles. Seeing my kid riding down the street yelling, "woo-hoo" all crazy and fast still chokes this poor mom up. Call me crazy... but it just gets to me. It's just another confirmation of God's faithfulness that He not only healed my son when he was a baby, but that He continues to heal my son as he grows and faces new obstacles and challenges.

I share this with you, my sweet friends, because I know that many of you have your own list of fears, worries, and seemingly endless milestones that you are walking through with your kids. Maybe its a behavior that you are battling every day - trying to consistently address and discipline. Maybe its a difficulty at school - and you are seeking God for the wisdom to know how to help your child overcome a disability or conflict. Maybe its potty training!!! Don't even get me started on that!

I mean, we all know that most kids aren't going to go to kindergarten in a diaper - they'll eventually get it, right! But that doesn't mean that the months that go by where you endlessly saying, "Do you have to go potty?" Do you have to go potty?" "Lets go to the potty..." any less difficult.

It's these small things that most people would say are an incidental part of life - but they are the moments that make up yours and my days. And the monotony of facing these issues day after day can become very tiring. You can start to get frustrated, start worrying and sometimes even loose hope.

So - I share my story with you to say, "Don't be discouraged, Mom!" Keep plugging away. Know that God is there to breathe wisdom and grace into your heart and mind so that you can be the best mother possible. Throw your frustrations at His feet and trust that He's got your little ones in the palm of His great big loving hand.

Sometimes, its just the little victories that give us hope to keep going.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Kirsten's 25 Random Things

1. My name is Kirsten (pronounced Kursten) but the traditional Swedish way to say it is Kyersten.

2. In 1st grade there was a Kirsten (that's me) a Kristen and a Kyrsten, I think my teacher went nuts trying to keep all us blonds straight.

3. I met my hubby Cy in the early 90's when I was in high school and he was done with college, we married in 2000 and have 2 beautiful kids.

4. I've appeared on channel 5, 9 and 11 and have been featured in both the Star Tribune and St. Paul Pioneer Press for various, but very special segments.

5. I want a tattoo, but will probably never get one. 

6. I DESPISE snakes, toy or real and freeze up at the thought of an encounter with one, toy or real, one day on accident.

7. I make goals for myself according to my age, so this year I have 34 things I'd like to try and do.

8. I've been to Guatemala and Mexico on missions trips.

9. The next missions trip I would like to take is to Africa.

10. I want to go skydiving this summer

11. I love to make cards for any and every occasion, I don't htink I've bought a card in 4 or 5 years.

12. The longest I've been all by myself on a trip is 36 hours.

13. I was born on Friday the 13th!

14 I love entering amature cooking contests.

15. I am comfortable when flip my pinky toe over the next biggest toe...I sit like that when I'm working, watching movies, driving the car (yes, I can do it in my shoes if I try) husband tries to undo my toe, but I just flip it right back, it drives him NUTS!

16. My paperwork is organized chaos, I never loose anything and can tell you which pile something is in.  

17. I wanted to be a professional ice skater when I was younger.

18. If I wasn't married with kids I think I would go into the world of entertainment - tv or radio something fun.

19. I was a teacher for 3 years and had the same class 2 of the 3 years.  The second time around my students really knew me, so my whole "play strict the first few weeks to lay down the law in the classroom" bit didn't work...even on the new students.

20. I lived in the same house for 32 years, we live 2 miles from it and my mom still lives there so it's fun to see my kids run around that yard now.

21. I love playing card games - Hearts and Nuts are my favorite, but we just learned a new one called 5 Crowns.

22. My favorite smell is a roast in the crock pot - reminds me of coming home after church growing up to a roast dinner.

23. I was a pastor's kid growing up, everyone knew me so when I wandered in the kitchen while the church ladies were preparing food for a wedding no one gave me a second thought...until I took a large swipe out of the front of the wedding cake...the brides mom wasn't too happy, the frosting was a special cream color and couldn't be matched before the reception....come on I was 4 or 5 years old, what kid that age wouldn't have done the same thing.

24. I LOVE LOVE LOVE Indian food, probably because when we adopted my brother (he was 2 months old) we attended a lot of Indian events and were usually the only white people there, but it was such a wonderful experience....oh that smell, I remember it like it was yesterday.