Sunday, November 4, 2012

Sunday Sum Up

Well, the church train was LOOOOONNNNGGGG this morning!  I was going to second service and the traffic into the church was stop and go from both sides of the Tegner/Tuolumne Road intersection.  I think the greeting time between first and second service attenders will be when we all roll down our windows and visit while passing each other on the road.  :)

I loved the singing time and communion during our worship today.  We recognized Orphan Sunday today by watching a video, and all I could think about was our sweet Gracie girl.  There's not a day that goes by that I don't pray for her and her brothers, hoping that one day we will be able to have a relationship with her.  She is always in my heart; always.  At the end of his message, Dave reminded us that "anyone can be a part of God's family."  That's right, we were all spiritual orphans and when we accepted God's invitation, He adopted us into HIS family with all of the provision, protection, power, and peace that He gives.  Thank you, Jesus! 

Today's message (from Acts 2) was the third message in the Unstoppable series.  I love the second point: "The center point of the message is JESUS.  Dave reminded us of the story from John 9 about the blind man that was healed and gave the most concise gospel message, "I was blind, but now I see."  But I loved it when day told us that the unspoken, central part of his message was, "and then Jesus showed up."  "I was blind, and then Jesus showed, and now I see."  That's all of our stories......we were blind (lost, addicted, alone, hurting, etc...) and then Jesus showed up, and now we see!  Thank you, Jesus!

During the third service, I was in a planning meeting for our upcoming Women's Retreat.  Please mark your calendars now because I believe God has some wonderful things in store for us.  You can check out our speaker's website here:  http://www.strengthforthesoul.com/  The dates are March 8 - 10, 2013.  If you save $10.00 a week, starting this week, you'll have the money you need to attend ($145.00).  We will have the entire camp to ourselves this year; it's going to be great!   Let me know you'll be joining us!  


Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Sunday Sum Up

***Note: Started this Sunday evening, and well......here it is finally!

Wow; I don't even have words to express how suprised and humbled Dave and I were this weekend by the incredible blessing given to us by our church staff and family!  We have been at NLCC for 20 years (I thought only old people made comments like that!), and our church family, board, and staff generously blessed us with a vacation and some money. I have to tell you; my first thought was, "We don't deserve that!" and my second thought was, "How can we spread that gift among the staff so that everyone receives some of that blessing because everyone deserves it."

You see, I immediately thought of all the things I DIDN'T do over the years that disqualified me as a worthy recipient of such a gift. There were phone calls and visits that I didn't make; there were cards I didn't write; there were meals I didn't take; and there were prayers I forgot to pray; and there were plenty of people I didn't connect with personally.  That's one of the hardest things for me being a part of such a large church - it is hard to keep up with people and their needs, and I can name off myriad ways I've failed to be the pastor's wife I want to be.  However, when I sit in quiet before the Lord, I am at peace with the fact that I have been called first and foremost to be the wife my husband needs so that he is free to minister as God has called him, to be the parent that is there for our children when weddings, crisises, or funerals pull their dad away, and then to minister where God has called me. So, sometimes I am not free to do all of the things that my mind can come up with to do for people from the church. 

Anyway, all of that to say, "Thank you, sincerely, NLCC staff and family for blessing us so greatly." Your love, honor, and gifts are not taken lightly or with an attitude of entitlement.  It has been an incredible blessing to be able to serve with you all these years.  We love you!

I don't want to sound biased, but I thought Dave did a great job today with the teaching from Acts 1.

Here are some of my notes and my thoughts from his message: An Unstoppable Force

WE are the unstoppable movement of God.    The Greek word "ekklesia" means "the called out ones". Church is not a "building" but a people. Dave shared that after Jesus had risen from the dead, he showed up over and over again to His followers because He knew it would take that many times for them to fully believe it was Him.  I'm thankful that Jesus shows up over and over again to us until we believe, as well!

2) We are called to share what we've seen and heard. It doesn't take a PHD to be able to share your story. We are simply called to be witnesses.  Most concise gospel message? "All I know is that once I was blind, but now I see!"  Everyone has a story, and every story matters!

3) The time to move is now. My job isn't to stand here waiting for perfect circumstances to begin living out my faith and sharing my story. When we go "all in," God gives His power to us. 

Yep; great message. I'm excited to hear the rest of this series.

God bless any dear soul that might stop by this little corner of blogland.  :) 

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Love Note



Aww.....this is what I found when I turned back the covers to get into bed tonight.  Whenever Dave or I have to be away over night somewhere, we often leave little good night notes for one another - one of the things I love about us.  :)

Dave is gone for the weekend with some other men from church for the Men's Retreat. I have been praying for each man who will be attending.  I know that there are quite a few men who are stepping out of their comfort zone to attend, and I admire them for that.  It says a lot about a man that he would be willing to go away with a group of other men to learn more about what it means to live out his faith as a man of God.   Dave will be sharing during one of the sessions, and I am praying that God speaks through him to affect change in each man's life.  I know Dave's been in prayer about this weekend, too, and I'll be looking forward to hearing how God worked.   I am also praying for each woman/mom at home this weekend.  God wants to teach us some things, too, if we'll be on the lookout.  We get to serve our husbands by taking care of things on the home front, even though that can be very difficult, especially for those with little ones.  God will give us what we need as we rely on Him each moment, and we'll reap the benefits of our husbands being encouraged and strengthened from the weekend.  If we'll look at it that way, it's a win-win!  

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Goodbye, Facebook!

 In an effort to reclaim my life, I will soon be deactivating my FB account. This will be difficult for me, but that's even more of an indication of why I need to do it. I will also only check my email a couple times a day, so you may not get an immediate response. I will not be responding to texts unless urgent and I reserve the right to not be chained to having my phone on me at all times. I just need to narrow my focus and live in the moment with face to face interactions for the time being. I am not angry or running from anything; it's just that when I look at where I spend my time, I see that FB, email, and texting suck too many hours from my life. I want (and need) to spend my time in more meaningful and personal ways. I've allowed all of this technology and being instantly available to control me, instead of my controlling the technology and my accessibility. I'm sure if something is important enough for me to know, someone will tell me in person, or will call or email! I KNOW that I will miss you and all of your posts and pictures, but I thank you, in advance, for your understanding! Blessings to you all!


This was my last official FB post.  What follows below is a comment I left on that post giving a little more of an idea as to why I had to take such a radical step.  Maybe you can relate?


‎"I don’t understand myself at all, for I really want to do what is right, but I don’t do it. Instead, I do the very thing I hate." Rms 7:15 This verse sums up my relationship with FB, Pinterest, the internet, and my email!

Facebook has become a compulsion for me; you can see that in the fact that I felt I needed to give notice to everyone before I deactivated my account so someone wouldn't think that something was wrong or be wondering what happened to me. I really want to do what's right for me in my life, and instead, I do the very thing I don't want to do - spend hours on FB, et al.

"Hello, my name is Gena and I am a FB addict." (Insert, "Hello, Gena" here). I'm sure I'm the only person who struggles with this, but with FB, I find that I am afraid I will miss something, so I sit there scrolling and clicking all the way to the last time I checked statuses. And all the while, anxiety and restlessness will start to grow in me because I know what I should be doing, and I seem incapable of making a good choice for myself. I have heard from several sources lately that we (even us women) can't multi-task as well as we think we can; something always gets shorted. So.....I fill my mind with ALL of this info from other people and I end up neglecting my family and my responsibilities. In spending time on FB/pinterest/the internet/email, I give up time to take care of myself, to care for my home, to spend time with God, and unfortunately and to my shame, to really BE with my family. I lose moments in real time with my family to read about someone else's moments. I also see people (especially some young moms I have talked to) playing this comparison game concerning what other families are able to do, their gorgeous family photos, where they go on vacation, the awards and honors and athletic accomplishments of other people's kids, etc... It's like a poison begins to build in our souls that leads us to believe that: we aren't good enough; that our spouse doesn't do enough for us; our homes are not nice enough; we don't get to have the great vacations other families have, our average kids aren't good enough, etc, etc.... Why do we do this to ourselves?!

I know that no one can take control of my life for me. No one can mother my kids but myself. It may seem radical to deactivate my FB; I mean, can't I just NOT CHECK IT as often? No, I can't. I've tried that before, and if I am able to access it, I will end up spending hours on it. I need to take radical action to get my life in alignment with my priorities. I can't trust myself to do the best thing for me, so, for me, it takes deactivating. If I don't, I know I'll get sucked back in like the addict who can't take just one drink or pill or hit.

I already feel that I fail at so many things, and with FB, I feel even more responsibility to know what's going on with each of my FB friends' lives. I can't keep up with my immediate family and those I interact with, so why do I willingly add over 500 FB "friends" that I feel a need to keep up with? Don't get me wrong, each of you, my FB friends, is there because I have and want some connection with you. I love seeing what you are up to, but I need to do that more the old-fashioned way - Christmas cards or email or phone calls. And....all of the rest of my family is on FB, so you can message them if you have something I need to know about and you don't know another way to reach me.

I have come to the conclusion that FB is not the most responsible (or healthy) way for me to connect. I wish it were different, but right now, it is what it is.

To all of my family (close and extended), I will miss seeing all of your posts and pictures, and maybe sometime in the future, I will be able to add FB back into my life in a responsible manner. For now, you know how to reach me, even though it won't be as easy to do that. Thank you for your patience and understanding.

I pray God's richest blessings on you all, and may you be able to balance your personal, spiritual, work, play, and tech lives better than I have been able to.

Much love,
Gena

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

The Older Woman

I don't know how it happened, but all of a sudden, I am an "older woman." I guess turning 48, being married for 26 years, and having children ages 21 through 12 - well, let's just say those numbers seemed to step right up and slap me in the face!

I may be older, but surely, I'm not the "older woman" that's supposed to mentor other younger women, right? You know, the older woman that is supposed to possess wisdom gleaned through years of living as a faithful wife and loving mother; the one who supposedly knows how to make and keep a home; the one who should know and obey the still, small voice of the Lord above all others; the one who is now comfortable in her own skin; the one who has stepped beyond her doubts and anxieties into the wide open spaces of peace and contentment.

I guess what I'm saying is that older does not necessarily mean wiser or more mature, sometimes it just means older. Or at least that's how I feel. I've come to realize, though, that by simply surviving for these 48 years, I've been through some experiences and learned some things from God's word that I can now share with someone who might need to hear it.

This body of mine is showing its age, reminding me that I am not as young as I think I am. I still struggle with insecurities and feel like a little girl that doesn't know what to do at times. I often wonder if what I think I'm hearing from the Lord isn't really just my own thoughts. And Lord knows......I don't have the "keeping a house" thing down. Yep; I may have lived more days than someone else, but I sure don't feel that mature in many areas of my life.

However......in the last year, God has shown me that I have grown in maturity in some areas. I don't always see it because I'm just doing my best to live my life day by day, trying to walk in His ways. I find myself stumbling now and again, more often than I'd like sometimes. Without even realizing it, though, I have learned a few things along the way that I've adopted into my life, and there have been a few times lately when the Lord has allowed me to share those things with someone "younger" than me. These things don't seem like new thoughts, or even wise thoughts, to me when I share them, but I have seen from the look on these gals' faces that it is a new thought for them. Hmmm.....it's good to realize that just persevering on this journey of life gradually brings its own amount of wisdom - wisdom gained through time, experiences, and God's Word. I'm still here, so I guess it's to be expected that I've gained a little bit of knowledge (and hopefully some compassion) that God will use to encourage or instruct someone else.

I am simply called to humble myself before God and allow Him to work through me in whatever way He chooses. Sometimes, that means sharing a little bit about something I've gone through in life that might encourage or help someone else. I may still sometimes feel like a little girl or that I don't have it all together, but really.....I'll always feel that way on this side of heaven. And that's okay.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Well, hello there!

Wow! It's been a year and a month since I last posted here, and I've had quite a few times I had things on my heart that I wanted to share. Instead, I focused on what was in front of me, obeyed the Lord as best I could discern, and set aside this blog.

A lot has happened since my last post. A quick run-down?

February 22, 2011 - Dave and I celebrated 25 years of marriage! I read a quote that was floating around on the internet at Valentine's Day that said "A happy marriage is the union of two good forgivers." Can I just say, "Ain't that the truth?!" :)

March 2011 - my first fundraising banquet since taking the role of Director with Turlock Pregnancy Center. I felt that it went well, but must say, I was nervous having to get up in front to speak. Some great people shared with us that evening; Eli and Cindi Arrigotti shared about their open adoptions, a client and her boyfriend shared (via video) what the Center had meant to them, and Holly shared about her abortion and why she wished Turlock Pregnancy Center would have existed at that time. We met our fundraising goal for that event - Thank you, Jesus! :)

May 2011 - Servolution #4! Watch this video of a past Servolution and contact me to let me know that you would be willing to lead a team for this year's Servolution (which is now called "Love Turlock" to join other valley cities all serving together on one day, showing love in action).

June 2011 - We headed back to Washington DC for vacation. Eric had to work, but the rest of us had a wonderful time at our nation's capitol. Our favorites? The Library of Congress; the Supreme Court building (very, very interesting; I'd have never thunk it!); the White House; and the Federal Bureau of Engraving. We also visited Williamsburg VA, and Philadelphia PA (loved the National Constitution Center) and the Franklin Institute was phenomenal! The trip was a wonderful time for us all!

June also held a missions trip to Portland, OR for Hannah, Peter, and Dave. Kari was able to go and stay with her Aunt Nancy and Uncle Todd who live there and spend time loving on her cousins Hugo, Augie, and Pearl. She loves the babies, that girl!

In July, I was able to go to the Uppercase Living convention in Las Vegas. Hate Vegas, but had a fun time at the convention, and Dave was able to join me.

August 2011 brought a leadership trip to Costa Rica for Dave. He had a great time suffering for the Lord - white water rafting, zip-lining, hiking, etc... Poor guy!

Also in August, Kari started 8th grade and Peter started his sophomore year. Hannah started her senior year at CSU Stanislaus (unbelievable!). And.....Dave, Eric, Hannah, and I ran The Giant Race half-maration in San Francisco (Peter ran the 5K).

The fall was a rough time for me as I struggled with a herniated disc. My world became a narrow path of pain that kept me from many, many things. After a long road, I ended up having surgery on December 23rd. I had never experienced pain like that ever in my life, and I pretty much only had relief if I was down on my back. I thank God that there was finally an answer to my pain, and I have been great since the surgery. I am back to walking, but I am afraid to try running again as that was when I first noticed the pain. I am hoping that at some point I am at least able to get back to running three - four miles, but that will be a bit down the road.

During those dark and painful times this fall, God allowed me to see that I fill so much of my time with meaningless running and busyness of my own making. Without being able to go-go-go, I had to let many things go, and take it a day at a time. And you know what? The world went on. I had one of the most peaceful Christmases I've ever had with not being able to run hither and yon looking for gifts. I didn't bake all the goodies I usually do. I ordered all my gifts online. And it was all fine! Why, oh why, do I make my life more difficult than it needs to be? I have always said that I have the uncanny ability to make anything more complicated than it has to be, and I want to stop that! O Lord, I ask you to continue to help me sift my life and activities down to what really matters.

So, how was that for a quick rundown of the last year? We're now a month and a half into 2012, and in a couple of days, Dave and I will celebrate our 26th anniversary! I'm so excited that we are able to get away for a couple of nights - those times are necessary for us to reconnect with who we are outside of our jobs, children, and responsibilities. We really are those same two kids who fell in love all those years ago! :) And I'd do it all again in a heartbeat!





Saturday, January 15, 2011

Hello? Anyone Here?

I was prompted to visit my blog today when a friend asked me to pray for her son who is serving in Afghanistan for the next year. If you've never noticed, there is a column on the right hand side of this page and I have a small section dedicated to those in the military that I remember in prayer. Please join me in praying for these individuals who are serving so that we can enjoy our freedom here in the U.S. Thank you.

Now that I've been a part of the Facebook world for three + years, I realize how immensely that has changed my blogging habits. It's so easy to go to Facebook and catch little glimpses into what my friends and family are doing. But I guess that's about it - little glimpses. As I look back over my blog post from the last four years, I notice that when I did share what was going on, it was a little more in depth than what I ever post on FB. I still try to keep up with a couple of blogs that are favorites of mine, and it's true that it takes more time to read what they post, but I also feel a better sense of connection with them because they've usually shared more in depth about a situation.

It seems like the more technology we have at our disposal, the more surface relationships have become. I can have access to almost 500 people's FB profiles, but do I respond to even half of their status updates/posts/pictures? No. Do we interact? No. There's simply no way I can comment on each post of each "friend," so although I might know what they are doing by their last post, I have no personal connection to what else happened in their day or how they are feeling.

I don't know if there is anyone who ever checks in here at my blog anymore, so perhaps if I take to posting now and again, no one will even know. Therefore, is it a good use of my time/focus/energy? I'm not sure. One thing I do know.......it gives me a much better journal of my life for me to look back on. I mean really........why would I ever want to look back at a facebook post that simply says, "It's been a good day; night all!" Down the road, I'll have no idea what I did that day or what the state of my family was or what I was thinking. And with all the things I DON'T remember these days, I need as much detail as possible if I'm to remember anything!

So, although I can't promise, I hope to post on here now and again. Do email me or let me know if you check in here; it's always good to know who's stopped by.

For now, I'll leave you (or simply myself) with this thought that is a good one for me:
Thoughts become things.......choose the good ones!

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

I Can't Be Frustrated After Reading This Email!

I know that I am not posting AT ALL on this blog anymore. That doesn't mean that I don't have things that I want to share; it simply means that there is no time for me to sit down and produce half-way thoughtful posts. Facebook allows for quick updates, so that's where I find myself most of the time.

However, I received an email today that I thought I'd share. The back story? I ordered Dave a Road ID bracelet for his birthday. A Road ID bracelet lists his name and other important info (emergency phone numbers, etc) so that if he were to get hit by a car or pass out (God forbid) while biking or running, the emergency personnel would know who he is. Most runners don't carry their wallets with them (for obvious reasons), so if they are incapacitated in any way, emergency crews would have to list them as a "John Doe."

Anyway, long story not-s0-short, we gave Dave one for his birthday. I ordered it online, and the projected ship date was 10/6/10. Well, today I received the following email from the company. It made me laugh so much that I couldn't be frustrated with the fact that Dave's gift won't be shipped until 10/20/10 - a full two weeks later than the projected. :)

Here's the email -

Hello Gena:

Sometimes...we're not as smart as we think we are. Now, is one of those times. Allow me to explain:

When you placed your order on 09/21/2010, we told you that your items would ship on 10/6/10. Unfortunately, we are going miss this deadline. The delay is directly related to an inventory shortage. I know what you're thinking, "Don't you guys have systems and people in place to make sure this type of thing doesn't happen?" The answer to that question is "yes." But, we screwed up anyway.

Please trust that we are working hard, and doing everything we can, to get your order out the door as soon as possible. We now expect to ship your order on (hopefully before) 10/20 (2 weeks from today).

I know this is a significantly larger delay than you bargained for. I can't apologize enough.

Again, we are now quoting a 10/20 ship date...but we hope to be able to ship your order before then.

We pride ourselves on exceeding our customers' expectations. I know that we have failed in this instance. With egg on my face, I humbly apologize for the delay and hope that you can forgive us.

On a lighter note, we haven't fired our inventory manager. His job is secure and so is he. By secure, we mean that he's tied up in a broom closet, drinking leaky ceiling water.

Be safe out there; and let me know if you have any questions.

Cheers,

Edward Wimmer
Co-Owner
Road ID
800-345-6336
www.RoadID.com

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Entitlement VS Exposure

Wow! It's been a while, hasn't it? I guess I post most of the day to day Larson happenings on Face Book now, but I've been re-thinking that lately. I don't think I have the courage to totally drop FB yet, but I'm working on it. Too much to keep up with, if you ask me (which you didn't; just thought I'd put in my two cents worth!).

I came across the following article today, and I just thought that is was really solid and sound information, and Oh. So. True. If you are married and have the time, please check it out. I really believe that every person considering marriage should be required to read this.

This comes from a blog called "Simple Marriage," and you might want to subscribe. Not every article relates to where I am specifically, but I haven't found any advice that I don't agree with at the site. So, please give yourself a couple of minutes to pop over to the Simple Marriage site, but if you don't have time, I've included the article below.

Entitlement Vs Exposure (Click link to go to this article on the Simple Marriage website.)

The Difference: Entitlement vs. Exposure

If you’ve read Simple Marriage for a while, you know that I believe marriage is design togrow us up.

Our growth is the result of the pressure this relationship puts on us. Pressure to both chart our own course in life and be our own person while at the same time pressure to connect with our partner and enjoy the benefits relationships offer.

Many people fall victim to believing marriage is about happiness.

That you will meet your soul mate, fall madly in love, have a romantic wedding then be swept off into a rose petal covered existence together for the rest of your life.

This Hollywood version of marriage is everywhere … in the movies.

Real life … a different story.

Marriage is not about happiness (although there are times of happiness within the relationship), it’s about growing up. And this all starts at the beginning of the relationship and the beliefs you bring into it.

There are two basic attitudes you could have going into a relationship:

  1. An attitude of entitlement, or
  2. An attitude of exposure.

Here’s the difference between the two.

An attitude of entitlement believes, “I choose you because you complete me, make me feel secure and good about myself and you make life better for me. I can expect you to meet my needs, take care of me, and make me feel better about myself than I do now. Being in relationship with you is the best thing for me because of what you provide for my life.”

An attitude of entitlement leads to an expectation of reciprocity, “I gave to you so now you owe me something in return.” Or, “I’ll tell you about me, but only if you tell me about you. If you don’t, I won’t either. But I want to, so you have to. I’ll go first and then you are obligated to disclose too: it is only fair. If I go first, you have to make me feel secure because I need to be able to trust you.

There are many marriages that fall into this category. In these relationships, this attitude is actually a source of frustration, but they don’t realize that it’s this attitude that is causing the frustration. Instead, the spouse is blamed and seen as the cause of the marital issues.

An attitude of exposure says, “I choose you because my relationship with you is one that will expose my personality quirks, character defects and my immature ways of relating to others. This exposure is not the result of anything malicious by you, instead it’s the natural result of our committed relationship. And in this relationship I will have the opportunity to see myself in a light that I seldom do and/or have spent most of my life running from. But if I am willing to look at and address what our relationship exposes about me, I can grow up and mature into more love and passion than ever before.”

An attitude of exposure is not a natural response or view of relationships – BUT IT’S THE BEST WAY TO GROW UP!

Instead of seeing marriage as a place where you are completed, a person who is growing sees marriage as the one place that your incompletion is exposed.

The only other relationship that will expose your incompleteness to this degree is the one with your children.

So, what do you do with these two different attitudes?

First, you must own up to which attitude is yours. This takes some guts and some courage, but it’s worth it. Then second, you then confront life and marriage’s conflict in drastically different ways, depending on which attitude you choose.

If you’re driven by an attitude of entitlement, your main approach to conflict in marriage is: What is wrong with my spouse? And, What is it about my spouse that needs to change so I can experience relief and comfort? You can easily see how Nice Guys and Pleasers fall into this category.

On the other hand, if you go into a relationship with an attitude of exposure, you’ll approach issues and problems by asking: What is this situation exposing about me? And, In what ways do I need to change and grow in order to be able to more effectively love both my spouse AND myself?

Moving from one attitude to the other is a marker of growth. It is also the best way to begin to blow the roof off your marriage’s potential.

Monday, June 21, 2010

A Very Generous Father's Day Gift

My husband received one of the most generous father's day gifts this year. It is a one-of-a-kind gift that took much love and sacrifice on the part of my daughter who gave it to him. Unless you know the background, you really can't appreciate what a gift this really is. Here's a picture of it:
And here's what it says:

"To David,
I am your loving daughter Kari. I have decided that the best thing I could give to you for Father's Day was a coupon. Now, you are probably wondering what the coupon is for. So, continue reading.

I hereby give David E. Larson permission to dance to the song Alejandro by Lady Gaga in front of me in public or in private 25 times. Each time you do it, I have to mark a number.

Signed,
Kari E. Larson 6/20/10

1 2 3 4 5
6 7 8 9 10
11 12 13 14 15
16 17 18 19 20
21 22 23 24 25"


Don't kids come up with the best things ever?! This will make me smile for years to come, as will Dave's dancing. ;)


Monday, June 14, 2010

For the Love of All Things Beautiful

Yes, I'm willing to use my blog to have another chance to win a giveaway taking place over at Remodelaholic! I love Lisa Leonard's designs and have entered giveaways before; maybe one of these days I'll just buy me something instead of waiting to win a contest! :) Lisa has a blog you might want to check out, also.

I'll let you know if I win! :)

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

End of the School Year Update!

Well, it's officially summertime here at the Larson home. Yay! Can't tell you how good that feels! There were so many events and parties at the end of the school year, so the easiest way to catch up is to show you photos of the events. If you happen to be my friend on facebook, you've already seen these.

First of all, at Kari's 6th grade promotion, she was awarded the "Hope of America" award from the Kiwanas Club of Turlock. It is an award given to one sixth grade student who demonstrates leadership skills, academic accomplishment, good character, and civic responsibility. In this picture, her principal (far right) is announcing why Kari was chosen for this award.


Good sixth grade friends who will be headed to junior high together.
Only the best sixth grade teacher EVER!
And then of course, there was Peter's 8th grade promotion ceremony. It happened to be raining that day, but thankfully, the rain stopped right as the ceremony began and started again as soon as it was over. Couldn't have been timed better! Here he is walking in to the ceremony.
Pete and Grandma Larson
Proud Mama!
Proud Papa with the graduate.
Good buds!
And of course, the BIG graduation in our family was Eric's from high school. Here he is after he received his diploma (along with congratulatory hugs from our neighbor/board member and various faculty). Oh, yeah.
So proud of this child of mine! Love, love, LOVE him!
Eric with the Larson grandparents who both graduated from Turlock High. Yep, there's been three generations of Larsons who have graduated from THS. Grandma Larson even sang the alma mater along with the students and Grandpa Larson made sure to wear THS blue. :)
Grandpa Ed and Grandma Lynda were able to use two of the nine tickets Eric received to attend the graduation with us.
Couldn't have imagine 17 years ago that we'd be standing at a graduation ceremony with such a tall, handsome young man - so very proud of him. Looking forward to seeing him fulfill the Lord's purposes for his life as he continues to grow in Him.
Eric, you are a wonderful son and we couldn't be happier or more proud to call you our own! We pray that as you begin this next chapter of your life that you will seek the Lord with all of your heart, soul, mind, and strength, and that you would follow Him and His ways. Listen to His voice directing you in the path He has for you. YOU are a gift to this world, and your adventure has only just begun.

We love you with everything we are, Dad and Mom

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Whew!

Let's see, events last week included: Senior Grad night for our son at The Refinery Youth Group, a job on Tuesday for me out of town, our youngest daughter's band performance, our oldest daughter's choral performance, providing part of a meal that our small group served to the homeless, a trip to the divisional finals in Sacramento for our son, a bridal shower for my cousin, a graduation party for our son at our home, baptism Sunday with approximately 35 people being baptized, and attending a grad party for the son of some friends. And this coming last week of school promises more of the same. Oh, it's all good stuff, but there's just SO MUCH good stuff!

Yeah, I'm tired.

And you know what happens when I get tired, really tired? I start to see things through melancholy eyes. I find it harder to handle things, and I'm a little harder on myself than I probably should be. I begin to feel that I am sliding down into depression.

I begin to look at so much of my life and think that I just can't keep up. I can't keep up with all the people that I should keep up with (family, friends, neighbors, church members). I can't keep on top of my kid's schedules. I can't keep up with my household and family responsibilities. I can't keep on top of my job. I often can't even keep up with my thoughts that are going in a hundred different directions.

Yes, it's that haunting "all or nothing" mentality that I struggle with. If I can't keep up with everything at the level with which I think I should, then I just begin to shut down. And right now? I'm in shutdown mode.

Why do I tell you that? I'm not really sure. Maybe it's because I often have people tell me that they don't know how I do it all. Maybe it's because I'm trying to justify why I'm not keeping up with stuff. Maybe it's for sympathy. Maybe it's because I want those who struggle with the same things to know that they are not alone. Whatever the reason, it feels risky sharing with the world that I'm struggling, even though I've vowed to try to live my life authentically with my Lord and with others.

So, tonight, I need to get to bed. I need some sleep, and then I need to spend some time in the peaceful and renewing presence of the Lord. I know that those two things will help me to regain my proper perspective and will revive me. He has promised that His strength is sufficient for me, so tonight I am grateful for that promise. HE will carry me, and that's exactly what I need.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Locks of Love

I realize that I don't post much here anymore. Mainly, it's because more people see what I post on Facebook than ever stop by my good ol' blog. However, I know there are a few of you who aren't on Facebook (gasp!), so I'm posting some pictures of Kari and her donation to Locks of Love.

Before:


No turning back now!

J. did a great job with Kari's hair. She's my sons' favorite hairdresser, and now I think Kari's pretty happy with her, too!
Kari loves to climb on top of Grandpa's work truck. On this day, she decided she should make a bed for herself up there.
I love this short-haired girl!

Sunday, March 28, 2010

You Matter!


Do you know that you matter at New Life Christian Center?

That thought came to me today while I was thanking God for the good gift of His people that He's placed here at New Life - this family who seeks to glorify Him in all that we do. As we are gearing up for Servolution, I see so many of you stepping out to serve in radical ways. Today, as more and more people signed up, I just looked in wonder and thankfulness at the blessing of being a part of this family.

We all long to matter, to make a difference, to belong to something bigger than ourselves. Many of you who call New Life Christian Center your church home have come to an understanding of who Jesus Christ is for the first time after hearing of His love for you and discovering your need for Him as your savior. You chose to place Him on His rightful throne in your life. You chose to become a part of His family and this church because you realized that this was a place where you mattered and could make a difference. And some of you came to New Life because you moved into the area or had been previously disenchanted with what you saw in organized religion. You ventured in to this new family to see if maybe there really was "new life" to be had; if there really was a reason for you to be placed on this earth; if there really was a place where people not only said they believed in Jesus Christ, but they lived it out in radical ways.

You matter at New Life Christian Center because there is a mission that we are to fulfill here in this valley. If you have been called to be a part of this family at New Life, then you have a part in it. Thank you for choosing to live out your faith with us. Truly, I can't imagine being a part of a better group of Christ followers than those of you who call New Life Christian Center your home and your family. Dave and I are so blessed.

To all of you who serve in hundreds (wait, make that thousands) of ways here at New Life,
"THANK YOU!" Because of your love for Him and your willingness to live out your faith in the nitty-gritty of life, He is at work in mighty ways here and in this valley!


Monday, March 15, 2010

Why Truth is Beautiful - by Mary DeMuth

Mary DeMuth is an author and her Inside Renewal monthly ezine contained this article that echoes what those of us at retreat caught a glimpse of. Number eleven specifically talks about taking off masks (the theme of this year's retreat). Even if you didn't attend the retreat, I think you'll benefit from what Mary shares. I agree whole-heartedly.

If you are interested in her blog, you can click HERE, and if you're interested in her website, you can click HERE. You might remember my blog posts about her book, Authentic Parenting in a Postmodern Culture, (Post 1, Post 2, Post 3, Post 4)but she has also written many fiction books. You can check all that out at her blog.

Why Truth is Beautiful.

I've had a flood of reader mail, which has really blessed me. It occurred to me that honest, authentic writing changes folks. Truth, raw and redemptive, sets people free. Culled from my inbox, here are twenty reasons why Truth is beautiful:

  1. When we tell the truth about our stories, others don't feel alone anymore.
  2. When we share our foibles in light of God's truth, we realize we are small but God is big.
  3. The beauty of redemption shines all the brighter on a dark canvas. (So saying it like it is doesn't negate God's intersection, it highlights it.)
  4. Telling or writing the truth frees us and others from the people-pleasing trap.
  5. When we share our stories, we give others the chance to grieve their own in an open way. Truth opens up emotions we once thought buried.
  6. The truth, when written humbly, shines the light on people's sins in an invitational, grace-oriented way.
  7. Truth helps us be accountable to our brothers and sisters in Christ.
  8. Truth obliterates the power of sin in my life when I share it.
  9. Being an authentic communicator invites others into shared community.
  10. Writing or telling the truth makes us real and it strips us of a performance-based Christianity.
  11. Truth rips down masks (in the best possible way).
  12. When we point to truth, we remember that Truth personified is Jesus.
  13. When we speak the truth in love, we show a friend that we genuinely care. We're willing to risk a temporary lapse in relationship for the sake of our friend's better good and holiness.
  14. Telling the truth is spiritual warfare. Since Satan is the father of lies and speaks lies as his native language, truth-telling renders him speechless.
  15. Truth is refreshing.
  16. Truth is contagious. When you share it, you invite others to follow you. You can start a revolution of disclosure.
  17. People trust a truth teller.
  18. If you're passionate about something, being truthful endears you to your audience. They trust what you're saying and are more apt to join you in your passion.
  19. Telling the truth is safe. You don't have to worry about contradicting yourself or trying to remember who you told what to.
  20. Being a truth teller helps you look yourself in the mirror and not be ashamed.

What about you? Why, in your opinion, is truth beautiful? (And why are lies destructive?)



Saturday, March 13, 2010

My Other Blog

Some of you might not know that I occasionally post on my other blog, Express Yourself with Uppercase Living. So, although it seems that I don't post often (well, that's actually true), I do post on both blogs. I just thought you might want to check it out. Also, you can become a FAN on my Uppercase Living Products and Projects page. I'd love to see you there!

Sunday, March 7, 2010

I Wish........

I found the following courtesy of "The Organizer Lady." I wish................my family had this memorized and lived this out! :) If you are blessed enough to have young children, start training them NOW! I know it seems hard, but believe me, it doesn't get easier when they are older!

In Our Family

  • In our family, we make our beds before we leave our room in the morning.
  • In our family, we put dishes into the dishwasher, not the sink.
  • In our family, we put what we need the next day by the front door the night before.
  • In our family, we don't drop our things when we come in the door. We take them and put them where they belong.
  • In our family, we put dirty clothes into the hamper as soon as we take them off.
  • In our family, we take responsibility for completing the chores assigned to us.
  • In our family, we don't complain about our responsibilities.
  • In our family, we always flush the toilet immediately.
  • In our family, we put up toys, games, tools, and stuff we are using immediately.
  • In our family, we don't leave things out just because we plan to get back to the project later.
  • In our family, we wash, dry, fold, and put up our clothes as one continuous job.
  • In our family, we make sure all trash goes into the trash basket.
  • In our family, we keep our closets and drawers neat.
  • In our family, we use the team concept. Each person does his part to support all.
  • In our family, we are willing to help others where necessary because we are a team.
  • In our family, we talk kindly to each other.
  • In our family, we think ahead to solve problems before they happen.
  • In our family, we pay attention to maintaining beauty.
  • In our family, we push our chairs up to the table when we leave.
  • In our family, we strive to complete projects and clean up expeditiously.
  • In our family, the person who uses the last sheet of toilet paper puts new roll on the roller.
  • In our family, we value each other and the contribution each makes.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Sometimes

Sometimes, our world is rocked in a moment. Sometimes the wind is sucked right out of us. BUT.....I know that I know that I know......that God is with us even in these moments.

Being a pastor's wife, I get more than my fair share of times when I hear of an individual or family that has just experienced something earth-shattering. Life will be forever different from that moment on. I pray earnestly. My thoughts are focused on that person or family no matter what else I may be doing at that time. I start thinking of ways that I might be able to help; a meal, childcare, a hug, a prayer. Tonight, I find myself in one of those times. I must hold on to the promise that God has said He will never leave us or forsake us.

As I find myself in one of those "sometimes" moments tonight, I stumbled upon a blog that literally made me cry. Perhaps I am more prone to tears because this is a "sometimes" moment, but if you have a few minutes, I think you would appreciate this mother's raw and honest description of the birth of her precious daughter.

You can go HERE to read "Enjoying the Small Things" blog post.

**God, you who knows the beginning to the end, I thank you that you are in control, even when everything around us can seem so out of control. Amen.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Servolution 2010

Wow! I can't believe that we are gearing up for our third annual Servolution which will take place on May 1, 2010! In case you missed the summary of last year's event, here's the video and some stats. You know you want to lead a team this year that makes a difference in our community for His Kingdom, so contact me to sign up as a team leader. You won't regret it; I promise.


Here are some results from Servolution 2009 in Turlock, CA.

1300+ volunteers
120+ projects
500 grocery baskets given away
117 people given health screening
300 people visited our resource fair
73 haircuts given
1800 hot dogs consumed
70 people gave blood in our blood drive, and
Approximately 15,000 man hours of work donated.

THAT is love in action!