Archive for Faith

And yet…

How does one follow the last post? Choosing joy in spite of being absolutely miserable inside…I don’t know the answer. You just choose. You put one foot in front of the other.

And yet…

Here it is almost a year later and I am still choosing joy in spite of being so unhappy.

I sometimes feel like a foreigner living in a foreign land. I love my town. I love the people and yet…I feel like an alien.

And yet…I seem to like yets and pauses…I use them a lot. That is kind of what this blog is about pauses, reflection, the yets.

A friend struck a chord with me this morning. She said she was going to buy an RV and put a juicer in it and travel the country heralding the virtues of juicing. Oh, if only life were so simple and blissful. Traveling and juicing.

It seems that all the things we set out to do when we started this blog have been destroyed. Was it the enemy? Were we naive? What happened to family? What happened?

Such lofty dreams of making a difference; of loving each other. But we have made bad choices. Choices I take full responsibility for.

I can’t undo my choices. I don’t even know how to fix them.

I may not seem like it, but I really am trying to choose joy. I really am trying to press on toward the prize. Tomorrow I will go and dance with all my heart for Jesus who loves me…sinner and all.

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The Book & Bean

  • Summer 1997 – I worked as a barista.
  • July 1999 – Joe gets a job selling music to bookstores across the country.
  • September 2000 – I had a vision of a coffee shop where people could come and feel loved and welcome.
  • November 2001 – Joe began (and eventually completed) writing a business plan for our own coffee shop and bookstore.
  • December 2001 – Joe buys a ton of books and music for us to sell online.
  • March 2002 – Joe becomes a national sales rep, selling even more music to more bookstores.
  • June 2005 – Joe graduates from Bible college and starts the process of planting a church with a coffee house atmosphere.
  • August 2010 – After several years of failure, heartache and frustration, JoKars Wild moves to Central Oregon and falls in love with Prineville.
  • November 18th, 2010 – While looking for a job in the local classifieds, Joe spots an ad for a coffee shop and bookstore looking to sell the business.
  • December 15th, 2010 – JoKars Wild becomes the proud owner of Book & Bean.

While there is far more to this story…like how we once left a church because of their failure to pursue the vision they had of a church with a coffee house atmosphere, or all the businesses we started that never took off, or all the bookseller conventions Joe attended over the years…I think that would have to be for a book…

Again, I am amazed and humbled by how great God is. God does not forget. God knows our hearts. God has a plan.

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Quiverfull or Less

Nineteen! That’s how many children the Duggars currently have.

I love watching 19 Kids and Counting, when I get a chance. I love seeing the family dynamics, and getting new ideas on managing the home of a large family. Recently the Duggars announced that they are open to having a 20th child in spite of all they went through with the youngest Duggar, Josie. You see, the Duggar family is part of a mindset called Quiverfull. The belief (and it is back by scriptural interpretation) is that children are a blessing from God. To restrict by use of birth control of any form or sterilization would be to 1) not trust God or 2) withhold the blessings God has for them.

You might think that we at JoKars Wild are Quiverfull minded, but we are not. Yes, we have a large family. Yes, we trust God. Yes, we believe that children are a blessing from God. But there seems to be one missing ingredient to the Quiverfull mindset.

Recently a woman left a comment on one of my posts that said, “Life is already full of inevitable pain and suffering, why would you bring kids in this world, only to have them go through that too?! I can’t believe how selfish people are by having a disgraceful amount of kids. Even one is a disgrace amount!!”

As with the Duggars, I agree on some level. Yes, this life is full of pain and suffering. Why create another being to have to deal with sorrow, regrets, hatred, bitterness, brokenness? There are timess when I have worried for my children. Will we have enough food to last the month? If food prices keep going up, will I be able to afford nutritious food to feed them? Will we continue to have a place to live? As it gets colder, how will I provide jackets and boots? The answer to all those questions and the missing ingredient comes down to one thing.

A relationship.

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Open Mike Night

Well, I did it! I sang in public!

The Madison Coffee House and Laundry in Madras, Oregon was having an Open Mike Night, so my daughter Michaela and I joined forces and prepared 3 songs to sing together. I on the guitar and her on the keyboard. During our preparation for the event, we discovered that we could blend our voices pretty well and make for a fuller sound. So we took our individual songs and worked them into songs from our new “band”…Broken Stream. (Can you call yourself a band when there is only two of you?)

As I prepared for the evening, I was as nervous as if I had never sang in public before. I have, but, well, it has just been a while… Here I didn’t have a worship team to hide behind. Here I didn’t have a choir to blend into. And not only that, it was with complete strangers…not a safe church setting. (Although I do sometimes find it harder to sing for those close to me.)

So my nerves were running high. I decided I wanted to feel really good about myself, so I bought a new top and put my hair in rollers to give some curls. (I think God may have goofed by not giving me curly hair…jk) I applied more make-up than I normally wear in my hectic daily life. Although still less than a lot of other women (and some men).

Michaela and I practiced and practiced some more. We prayed. We prayed for God to use us. We prayed for God to bless our abilities to more than we were capable of. We prayed that the music would encourage and inspire those listening. We gave our music up to Him.

The time finally came for us to go to the Open Mike Night.

My 12 year old, Kira, graciously offered to babysit the little kids as Papa Joe and Josiah were out of town. The kids had movies and snacks planned out for a fun evening.

The coffee shop had a guitar and keyboard for us to use, so we left ours at home. We got there just as things were starting up and were told where we would fit in the line up. We tinkered with the keyboard, which was kind of inadequate, but thankfully another musician brought in his keyboard. Then we settled in to listen to some great and some not so great music.

As we waited, some new friends and their kids joined us. They, like us, homeschool and have a large family…soon to be 7 kids! (Yeah, I know…they’re slacking.) They also like music.

It wasn’t long before we were up. After juggling mikes and guitars and such we got underway.

We started with a song by Francseca Battistelli called “I’m Letting Go.” I chose this song because 1) it challenged me vocally and 2) it fit with what I was doing…”letting go” and “taking a giant leap of faith”. I lead this song with Michaela chiming in on harmony. Next Michaela lead “If I Die Young” by the Band Perry. Then we took our seats and listened to some other groups.

After all the musicians played 2-3 songs, the round started again. We had rehearsed only 3 songs, but Michaela was feeling strongly she should do a song she wrote called, “There is Hope”.  So Michaela started our second set doing her song a capella. Then we finished with Michaela’s song, “Smiley Music”.

After we finished our last song, our friends’ kids were getting restless so they decided to head on home. Because I feel so strongly that relationships are one of the most important things in life, I invited them to come to our house for a little bit. This wasn’t an easy decision. There was a part of me that wanted to stay and get some feedback…i.e. praise. I know it was the right decision though. My kids really enjoyed getting to see their new friends, and we had a great time talking with each other.

So that concluded the debut of Broken Stream. I have no idea if there will be more performances. We are leaving it all up to God. Michaela and I did separately audition for a holiday talent show this past week. We don’t know whether we got in yet though.

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Killing the Grouchy Old Woman

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I watched a movie on Thursday morning with my two eldest daughters called “How to Make an American Quilt”. One of the characters in the movie has become very cynical and bitter…a grouchy old woman. The story tells of how she became this way. Once she    was a wonderful, beautiful diver, but, after marrying, the obligations of being a mom brought her down and she gave up diving. She gave up her life for her husband and kids. Eventually she found herself alone and bitter because those around her didn’t like what she had become. The lively diver had disappeared.

I can relate so much to this. In our culture often times the opposite happens, a woman pursues so much of her own interests and life that there is no room for those closest to her. We have become a very self-seeking culture.

In my own personal quest to not ever forsake my kids and husband, I have pushed aside my own desires and abilities. I worry that I won’t give the kids what they need. I worry I won’t be a good wife. I worry that I will mess things up. Inside though, I am saddened about the things I miss out on. I become a bitter martyr. I become the grouchy, old woman.

There has to be a balance. It can’t be all one way or the other. A woman must nurture her giftings and still sacrifice her life for her children and family. A woman must sacrifice through her gifts and talents. The greatest gift I have ever received is being a mom. It is through my gifts and talents that I give life to my family. The two must be one and the same and yet separate.

I see it when I play my guitar and my kids sing and dance around me. I see it when I take them hiking and they delight in running and exploring. I see it as they try to “write” their own songs or dance like mommy. What a joy…for me and for them. Is it perfect? No, but it is fun!…we have fun…they have fun! We are living life together!

I find myself humbled and in awe of the fact that God can use my gifts as a way to become closer to my children. I have wrestled with how I am to fit everything into my day; wrestled with the guilt of me versus them. God showed me that it is possible to meet all my needs and theirs too. I realized it is about us. I really don’t know how to explain it, but I just went with the flow. I let go. I let go and let God.

I need to stop sweating the small stuff.

What passion has God placed in your heart that you have cast aside? In what way can you share this passion with your children and husband? Are you including your family into your passions?

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A Thousand Different Directions

The last week or so, I have felt pulled in a thousand different directions. I can’t help wonder if some of it is due to my renewed passion to read the Word, or my stepping out to pursue the desire of my heart…sharing my voice with others. Most definitely some of it is simply due to the fact that I am a mom of 8.

But it leads me to question what my priorities are. No one would question that my being a wife and mom is of the utmost priority, but what does that look like? Some have said that by my stepping out vocally that I am teaching my children to take risks, to follow God’s leading, to use my gifts for God. But I could also argue that I am being selfish and not spending enough time with my children, or that my practicing takes time away from them.

I also wonder about income. Is it wrong of me to be at home not making income when we so desperately need it? Some (including myself) believe that a woman can save her family money by simply being home to prepare meals and take care of the kids. But you can’t save money if you have no money to save. I could go and get a part-time job to help make some extra money. But what would have to be pushed aside…the dishes, my music, the kid’s schooling, this blog?

And how important is this blog? Does it have value? Yes, I have a few who read it on a regular basis, but is it worth it? Do I continue to do something that seems to have little fruit? Which is the more noble task…clean laundry or sharing my life with others who may or may not want to know of my life? Wouldn’t just a simple Facebook status update suffice?

How do I answer these questions? Do I get a part-time job? Do I continue with my blog? Do I pursue sharing my vocal talents? And what about the kids, the baby, the house? How will it all be taken care of?

I know of only one way to answer my questions? I take them to Jesus. I seek the Lord’s guidance. So far, all I know is, besides continuing to nurture the kids, I am pursuing sharing my voice, and, for now, I am continuing the blog. I am unsure of everything else. Thank God I have a God who will lead me!

What are your priorities? What does God want you to do with your time?

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My Mountain

The beautiful and majestic Mt. Hood looms not too far from my house. I see it quite often as I drive about Central Oregon. Seeing it gives me a sense of peace and strength. I like knowing that some of my family has climbed to the top of that mountain: my grandparents, my mom, my brother. I think it’s an amazing accomplishment. Someday I hope to join them in being able to say, “I climbed that mountain.”

Yet, there is another mountain begging me to climb it. This mountain stands before me looming, enticing, and threatening my very existence. I ask myself, “Do I have what it takes? Am I good enough? Would God see me through? Where would God lead me?”

Even as I write this, I am having an incredibly hard time telling you about my mountain, but I don’t think I can hide behind my fear anymore. No…I don’t think I should hide behind my fear anymore.

We all have our mountains. For one it might be starting a business, for another it might be writing a novel, and for another it might be leaving all the comforts she knows to go somewhere new. For me, it is singing and putting myself out there as a vocalist, putting myself out there for criticism, being vulnerable as a performer.

Writing a blog is easy. If I don’t like your comment, I can delete it. I don’t have to respond. I can live within my own little shell. I can tell you my opinions and then put my fingers in my ears…”La, La, La…I can’t hear you.” I don’t have to actually interact with you if I don’t want to.

This past week a theme kept recurring with our children. If you have an opportunity, seize it. Don’t make excuses. Give it everything you’ve got. First with one child, then another. Then it came and bit me in the butt as I was also asked that same question. “Why didn’t you respond to the opportunity? Why are you making excuses? Why are you hiding behind your children?” 

I have no answers but to say, I am wrong. I am sinning. I am not doing what God wants me to do. I’m the one sitting at the base of the mountain training others on how to climb while I sit in my chair doing nothing. I’m saying, “I’m not fit enough. I’m not strong enough. I have too much else to do.”

It is time I get off of my fat ass, and put one foot in front of the other and see just how far God wants me to go. Maybe I will only make it to the timberline, but at least I will be able to say, I tried my very best.

How about you? What is your mountain?

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