Thursday, December 24, 2015

The baby comes no matter what I do...

As we were leaving for the hospital in January 2001, I remember telling Tim with genuine fear, "But I don't know HOW to have a baby".  His reply was, "Jenn, people who aren't as smart as you have babies all the time.  You'll be fine".  I giggled, and we got in the car and left.

Lo and behold, that baby came out, and it really had nothing to do with my skill or knowledge or preparation.  Isaac was coming out no matter what I did, really.

As Christmas day approaches this year, I find many things left undone.  Our Advent wreath only has one candle lit (which means we totally skipped two weeks of Advent).  We had great plans for it, but life happened and now we will light the rest tonight as we celebrate that baby.  I always make homemade cinnamon rolls, but I just bought canned biscuits to make Monkey Bread instead.  We never took a picture for Christmas cards, and somehow I just never sent any out.  I love Advent wreaths and homemade cinnamon rolls and Christmas cards, and most years, those things bring me great joy.  This year, however, they just aren't going to happen.

That baby still was born, though.  It had nothing to do with my skill or anything I had or had not done, really.  He came whether I was ready for him or not.  He was born right into the midst of my half-done Advent wreath and canned biscuit Monkey bread.  He was born to redeem me and save me, and he welcomes the real me.

I love him, this baby Jesus who was born and lived so well and then died to pay for my redemption.

Friday, December 11, 2015

For the Love...

“It is no wonder humanity has long preferred legalism, which involves much cleaner territory. Give me a rule any day. Give me a clear “in” and “out” because boundaries make me feel safe. If I can clearly mark the borders, then I am assured of my insider status—the position I feel compelled to defend, the one thing I can be sure of. I want to stand before God having gotten it right.”
― Jen Hatmaker, For the Love

This book is still messing with me.  I keep going back in and re-reading the parts I've marked up.  This one...yes, Jen Hatmaker, you are right...the legalism, it can make us feel safe can't it?  I mean, if I've followed all of the rules I've decided are important, then who can argue that I'm not in the clear?

The only problem is that legalism is not something Jesus loves.  I cannot find a picture of Jesus anywhere in his Word that paints him as a legalistic rule follower.  I can't find a list of rules where it says, "don't cuss, drink, or smoke and you are on God's good list".  I can't find it anywhere.

I DO find a Savior who loves, rescues, redeems, invites, welcomes, pursues, and disciples.  I find a man/God who embraces humanness.  I think that if he lived here in my town, he would be hanging out with people who don't have it all together and are honest about that...people like me who struggle with real stuff and don't mind talking about it...for me, it's stuff like pride and anger and gluttony and laziness and gossip.  For the other people Jesus might be hanging out with, it might be things like deceit and addiction and lust and who knows what else.

I think Jesus would welcome our talk about the ways we struggle, maybe even our thoughts about whether or not the struggle is worth it...  I think he would welcome our honest discussion about the shitty parts of trying to live in this world but not of it.  I believe with everything in me that he welcomes our honesty, our authenticity, our real-ness.

This is the God I love and serve.  I will go to the gates of hell for him if he asks me to because he has rescued me and I belong to him.  There is no list of rules...there is only love and belonging which then, amazingly, transform me into his likeness.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Advent...Gettin' Ready for Jesus

A couple of days ago, the cousins and Auntie and Uncle Dave came to visit overnight.  We don't do a thorough house cleaning or anything..we love 'em too much to try to impress 'em...but there ARE some things we do to get ready for their arrival.  We make sure the nerf darts are stocked.  We make sure we have just the right beverages and snacks.  We have board games and card games in mind just in case we decide to go that direction.  We know EXACTLY the things we want to talk to them about, to catch up on all of our journeys.  We prepare our house; we prepare our hearts.

The same is true for Jesus...we celebrate his birth on Christmas Day, but we can spend the month of December preparing our home, preparing our hearts.  I wrote up a simple explanation for our small group Bible study peeps of what our family does...not because we are experts, but just because we've tried some stuff.  Sharing it here in case anyone else would like some ideas...

Follow this link to view Wood Family Advent ideas.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Love Does Stuff

Sometimes, Mr. Wood says really smart things.  I like that.  He's hot when he's smart.  We go on a lunch date every Tuesday.  It might be the only time all week that we actually say full sentences to each other without interruption.  I look forward to Tuesdays because of our lunch date (well, and because my class has Art at 2:00 until the end of the day...bless you, Mr. Green).

Today, in between bites of pepperoni pizza, Mr. Wood said something that jolted me.  We were talking about when something wrong or unjust or just not ok is happening and someone has the authority or position to really do something about it and they just don't, for whatever reason.  (Incidentally, we were not talking about when someone does NOT have authority or position to do something about it and just chooses to be loud or obnoxious about something they really have no business being loud or obnoxious about.)  Anyway, back to it...Mr. Wood said "I don't think they really love the person they say they care about if they don't take any action".

It stopped me in my tracks.  Who in my life do I say I care about or love, but when the rubber hits the road, I'm not willing to go the extra mile or do the uncomfortable or weird thing it takes to protect, stand up for, and really LOVE them?  Love with words is easy; love with actions is often more difficult.  When something "not ok" is happening to someone I claim to love and I am in a position of authority or leadership in which I am allowed to do something about it, love demands that I do the thing, even when it's hard.

“Love and say it with your life.” ― Augustine of Hippo

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

When all of the things make sense...

There are moments when life just REALLY makes sense,  moments of clarity when I am not looking as though through a fog, but instead, seeing with clear eyes.   Tim and I have referred to those moments for years as Psalm 73 moments...having entered the sanctuary, things finally make sense...circumstances and people don't change, but my view of everything shifts in an incredible way.

I'm just gonna be honest and say that, for me, those moments have happened most often among big kids.  You guys, they are incredible.  They are real.  They are honest.  They are kind when you show them how to be and sometimes even when you haven't shown them how.  I mean no offense to the grownups out there...well, unless you are guilty of a steady stream of being UNreal and DIShonest and UNkind in which case I guess you may be justified in taking offense.

Back to what I was saying, of my VERY fave moments with some big kids happened about five years ago and I wrote about it here if you are just wanting for more things to read.  Another took place tonight, with a few grownups and about sixty big kids.  It was nothing particularly out of the ordinary, but the fog cleared away from my eyes and my heart and mind screamed "Yes!  THIS is REAL life.  This is what we were made for." The things I am preoccupied with on a daily basis are really just stepping stones between the REAL moments of life, when life makes SENSE, when I remember the REAL why of our existence.  Tim lead us straight up to the throne in worship, like Jesus himself was sitting in the middle of us, listening to our voices tell him he is the bomb.  The boy/man Nathan (boy because I feel he is still that boy in our own youth ministry, but, alas, he is the man in charge) was real and honest and vulnerable as he answered real questions from the big kids.  The big kids were brave as they asked questions and brave to be considering living fearlessly in those buildings we call junior high and high school.

Loving people and making God's name great as we journey...this is the real stuff.  I wanna live like that.

Mr. Wood, our boys, and big kids...all of my favorites!

Wednesday, June 3, 2015


This is the first day of summer break that I haven't had at least one place to be at some point during the day.  Tim and the boys have come and gone and will do so again this evening, but I am still at home in my 1988 Space Camp t-shirt and leggings, my hair pulled up and pinned out of my eyes with a bobby pin.

Oh, I've put some clothes away (trying to chip away at the Mt. Everest that is my clean clothes pile), done some work on the computer, tried a new recipe with some blueberries that were about to go bad, made lunch, washed some dishes, thought about spray painting some lamps...but none of those things were required of me today.  There is nothing pulling at me in this day.

I need these days.  I need to just be.  I need space to think and dream and compose emails in my mind as I sit in the quiet (or not-so-quiet, as the case may be).  I need the margins to be empty some days.  It is in the being that I remember who I am; these are the moments when God's very spirit speaks life into me and reminds me of who I am supposed to be both in the stillness and in the busy.

The "being" days...I need to make sure they happen on a regular basis.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Alas, it is not all rainbows and unicorns...

You know we like to keep it real over here at the Woodshed.  I posted some cutesie pictures today of Simon, 7th year.  He is a doozie, always making us laugh and shake our heads.  We celebrated him tonight and this morning and last night and we will again this week-end.  However, the celebration couldn't hide the scringy parts of the night...when boys were ugly to each other and the mom and dad asked over and over and over and over again for the ugly to stop.  Somewhere in the middle of the ugly, the dad threw his shoe towards the boys (who throws a shoe, Mr. Wood??).  One boy spilled his milk everywhere.  The new scooter that the littlest boy got for his birthday was hard to put together.

And then, when Grammie left, I shared with the boys that I feel embarrassed when Grammie sees them act so ugly.  I became vulnerable and showed my insides...the parts of me that want to know I'm cutting it as a Mama.  Mr. Wood asked them if they feel proud when I see them play ball or sing or do a good job at something.  They said yes, of course.  Then, he asked if they realize that THEY are my symphony...that THEY are my life's work, and I want to know that I'm doing a good job.

Their eyes welled up with tears.  They got it.  The light bulbs turned on.  I feel like they know their Mama a little more after tonight, that somewhere in the midst of the ugly, we turned a corner, and we understand each other better than we did before today.  If that's the case, I'll take the ugly, as it steers us towards the people and the family God had in mind when he made us.

No, sir, it is not all rainbows and unicorns over here, but every once in awhile, this house of boys manages to fart out a rainbow at the end of a long day, and that's what it felt like tonight, just before bedtime.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

And then this happens...

There are those days (weeks? months?) when I forget what it's all about, when I start to drown in the clutter, when I can't breathe from the weight of being and doing and remembering and going.  And then this happens, on a Tuesday night in the dining room, and I suddenly remember.  The shift is effortless...I am suddenly very aware that this is the why of it all...that pointing the way to Him is why I'm their Mama and everything else is extra.

Oh, sweet Jesus, may they be dressed in your righteousness alone, and may they, faultless, stand before the throne because of who you are in their lives.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

This is love...

The real love--the difficult, daily grind love--comes after the Valentiney stuff is over.  This is real love for me today.  I sent these random statements/questions to Tim this morning.  He talks me down from the ledges.  He brings stability when I have none.  This is the love, people...

**Below is a real email conversation between Mr. Wood and me.  Blue words are me; black words are Mr. Wood.  Sadly, I took some of the [in my opinion] funniest random statements out because, although I'm typically an open book, my book is not THAT open...hahaha.

do you still have staff meeting when holston isn't there?
i absolutely love getting to go to church as a family and going to breakfast and i wouldn't change it EVER too
i almost equally dislike that it is dark when you get home on Sundays. it makes me have a sort of mini depression each week that i have to talk myself out of. the last few weeks, making pizza has helped the depression. i'm trying to talk myself out of making pizza today.
do some cleaning, read some, put some clothes away, read some more, plan a healthy supper, read some more, I'll be home by 7:30
no matter how often i sort and put away and throw away the things on my desk and on the dining table, the piles come back with a vengeance. the papers...i can't take the papers...
if you need there to be a different system let me know
thank you for listening. feel free to comment.
you're welcome

:)love you.

love you too 

Sunday, January 25, 2015

The Grace

Sometimes this Mama loses her $#/&, people.  Sometimes they are at fault, and sometimes they are just being boys or brothers.  When I lose it, they get that look on their faces...the one that communicates "Oh dear, Mama has lost her $#/&!!!!  Here she goes."  I hate it when they get that look as it reeks of despair and maybe even fear...fear of what I think of them in that moment.  I know I am hurting their little souls as I rant.  These are not my finest moments.

It happened just now as we were driving home, as one was unhappy and got a little snippy and that snippy prompted a lot of snippy from another and then the third one decided to get involved.  Then Mama lost it, and the love was not flowing in any direction.

Sometimes, Mama needs to lose it.  When a Mama has three boys, I don't think anyone expects her to be syrupy sweet in every moment, nor should she be.  BUT sometimes this Mama needs to just breathe and love and speak peace and hope instead.

So, I administered the "sorry", and the "sorry" changes things.  They, as always, were so forgiving.  They know how to forgive, these three, and they are full of grace with their Mama.  The big one said, "it's alright", in that voice that is somewhere between child and man.  The little one said, "it's ok, now can I show you my magic trick?".  The middle one looked at me with those big eyes and said, "it's ok.  I still love you" with a sheepish grin.

The changes everything.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

I am...

READING The Gifts of Imperfection by Brene Brown but also at the very same time a fluffy romance novel because sometimes I just need to.

PLAYING Words With Friends, but not very well because I keep getting warnings that I will automatically lose all my games soon.

WATCHING Criminal Minds when I exercise...some days it is the ONLY reason I exercise, folks.

TRYING to exercise every day (see above)

COOKING when I get the chance which is not often...I really should use that crockpot more.

EATING almonds I found hidden in my desk was like a giant surprise when I found them!!

DRINKING coffee always...really, what else is there?

CALLING no one, preferably...I don't love talking on the phone.

TEXTING Mr. Wood with sweet nothings...our text history could be a smut novel, and I'm proud of that, people.

PINNING Master Bedroom organization...I can't even...the laundry...I can't put it away, I'm allergic.

TWEETING nothing..I've never tweeted or twittered.

CRAFTING rarely, but it's always fun when I do.  I crafted a little before Christmas and it made me super happy.

DOING my best to do all of the things and still love all of the people.

GOING to a ballgame,'s fun, though.

LOVING my people...the ones I live with and the ones I don't, the ones I have sought out and the unexpected surprises...all of the people

HATING injustice, both in the big world out there and in my little world

DISCOVERING that gel polish really doesn't chip off my of my first world problems solved and it's bringing a little thrill to my life

ENJOYING a new arrangement of my teacher desk area...I love rearrangements that bring a breath of fresh air!

HOPING I make it through this week...I can't even work for five full days, people.

CELEBRATING good news for the littles in my Reading is good when the littles have victories!!

SMELLING new Scentsy scents...I'm trying to reach the Scentsy level of my friend Lesli, but I don't know if I ever will.

THANKING the Redeemer for being enough, ALL that I need...

CONSIDERING taking some I really wanna???  ewww....homework....

FINISHING few things...I'm a starter.

STARTING lots of things...I don't always finish, though.