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Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Do you know what you would say?

If you had a chance to tell yourself then what you know now .... What would you say? I'm going to be 40 this year. I'm not freaked about it at all. 20 years ago I looked into my darling soon-to-be husband's eyes and told him I want to grow old with him. It seems I am lucky enough to be to do just that. I welcome aging. I'm not talking about 'letting myself go' or anything, I just understand it's happening. I can't stop it. I can't make myself get younger so why mourn what I can't change? Instead, I want to age well! I want people to think "Damn, she looks good!" Is that too much to ask? Are my expectations too high? All I know is 40 is not as scary as I thought when I was 25. Yep! I had a hard time on my 25th birthday. I kept thinking "30 is just around the corner!" I thought 30 was the end of all things fun for some reason.
Little did I know. And that's what I would tell myself. I'd say, "Self! It doesn't necessarily get worse. It can be better. You can be better. You will feel stronger. You will know so much more ... and be certain of so much less. The world is still beautiful and fun even with crows feet and loose eyelids. That you'll get a sense of your own style in your 30s. You'll know what you like - not what the store window propagates." That is some of what I would tell my younger self! What about you?

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Construction Woes

It took me a long time to get to where I was going today.

260 miles - typically 4 to 4.5 hours
took
a horrendous 6.5 hours

it felt like 16 days.

My nerves were shot.
The construction instigated road rage.
The kids were antsy.
The windows were open.
The smog was thick.

It was icky. Ickyickyicky.

But isn't that the way some journeys go?
Can't you plan the perfect trip or vacation
and doesn't it hardly ever go perfectly?

Our own expectations will kill us every time.

Journeys are a trip. An experience. It's me moving from
point A to point B and the route is usually flooded,
delayed or uncomfortable.

But we keep moving because we have somewhere to go.
Somewhere to be.
Something to do.
Someone to hug.

Don't stop on your journey.
Keep moving.
Even if you have your foot on the brake more than the gas pedal.
Because forward is better than backwards.
Keep moving.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Joy comes .... when ?!?


(from the archives)
The bible says in Psalm 30:5 "...weeping may endure for a night but joy cometh in the morning..."



What if joy doesn't come in the morning?
I'm not suggesting this passage of scripture or the bible isn't true - I fully believe that it is... but when I wake up what if the sorrow is still there hanging like a black cloud above my bed?
Does it mean I lack faith?
Have I forgotten how to trust Him? or am I simply human?



Recently I came across this comic strip:


It's so silly, right?
And yet if I was brutally honest with myself I think deep down inside somewhere I believed it. No, not on the surface. Not in my brain. I mean I know accidents happen and hearts get broken - I've spent 15 years in the ministry comforting people who are hurting ... but somewhere deep in my unconscious soul I held onto the belief that if I did what I thought God wanted me to do then I would be saved from 'bad things' happening to me.

There's a lot of  "I" and "me" statements in there isn't there? I'm just being honest . . .

This is what I know:  Life is good AND bad and none of us are immune to any of it. I also know that scripture isn't a magic wand. Just because my alarm rings 6 a.m. - morning - it doesn't necessarily mean all bad things just dissipate and I'll wake with laughter on my tongue (however, if God wants to do that to me I'd be okay with it . ..... just saying). And yet scripture is true. Whether we're talking about a literal or figurative morning, joy will come.

Nonetheless, if you like me, have had moments in your journey, morning after morning, where you've looked but not found joy at sunrise, may I encourage you with one more passage? Joel 2:25 says "

I don't know your story. I've not been apart of your drama. Instead I've had my own and it left a mark - but this I know; a day comes. It may be tomorrow or next year but a day comes when the Lord of all brings restoration to you! So .... get up! Get up because the next morning may be your day!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Boundaries

(from the 6/21/11 edition of the Review Atlas as a part of my weekly Practical Parenting column)
Boundaries; everybody has them but not all of us deal well with them. Some of us are natural rule followers, others fuss and buck the system at every opportunity. Regardless of how you feel about rules and limits they surround our every move. Everywhere you turn you've got laws; the Ten Commandments, government statutes, rules of the road, curfews, school and house rules. There is just no getting out from underneath them. While society generally needs rules to keep anarchy at bay, most early childhood experts agree that it's children who thrive the most when rules are present.

I was raised by a set of parents who were firm believers that children should not only know the rules but should be punished well if the rules were broken. Turns out I'm parenting my children along those same lines (although much less legalistically). However if you ask them, I'm pretty sure my kids will tell you that we are still some of the strictest parents in town.
Good.
Regardless, it's important for all parents, myself included, to remember that rules are most beneficial when applied appropriately. Parents who understand how their children are growing and developing can set the boundaries that children need but leave room for developing a child's independence.

image: childrentopics.com
For example, it would be ridiculous for me to have expected my three year old child to tie his own shoes before we leave the house. It would however, be absolutely appropriate for me to expect him to dilly-dally and need constant prompting just to keep him moving in the right direction. Knowing this, I choose not to waste my energy complaining about his incredibly slow motion. I avoid saying, "You are so slow!" or "I'm sick of you always making me late! Why can't you hurry?" Not only are such statements counterproductive to the goal of getting out the door in a timely matter, it tears down any self esteem I am trying to build up in my child.

I remember one summer when I took my sons (then four and three years of age) to the local pool. Typically when the lifeguards go on their hourly break my boys would meander over to our towels and wait the agonizing fifteen minutes. But this day was different. On this day they asked if they could take a walk around the deck of the pool. By the look on their faces I could see they were asking half heartedly. Their mouths were asking but their faces looked skeptical. They never expected me to give them permission. I surprised them and granted their request. They were shocked as I had spent the entire summer shouting, "Boys!! Mommy can't see you!"
That hot summer day they tasted freedom! Off they went glancing over their shoulder expecting me to call them back at any moment. Thankfully, the pool was not crowded that day and I had complete confidence they would be safe as I could see them walk the entire perimeter of the pool.
My eyes were locked in on their adventure. About twenty feet away from me they stopped and approached the fence. They looked like two mini prisoners as they pressed their noses and wrapped their little fingers around the cold metal that kept them locked safe inside. They stood there for a good five minutes reaching through the links as if they were trying to grasp more freedom. Eventually they moved on trekking around the pool deck. They continued further and further away from me looking over their shoulders ever few feet. I gave them a nod or wave letting them know they were still within my line of sight. 
They got almost half way around the pool when they stopped and surveyed the possibilities. I watched them as they looked on and back. It's as if they were weighing the their options. I watched them holding hands, looking around deciding what to do. 
 My boys turned tail. They made a beeline back to our towels and what I learned that day was monumental. It is my job as a parent to provide a safe and loving environment for my children. It's my responsibility to establish a world where they will be safe from harm and where my supervisory eye is not far off.
But I also learned it is their job to move around in the world that I create for them. They will explore, push up against the boundaries, test the limit and even go up to the deep waters edge in an effort to learn about their environment. On that hot summer day my two little preschool age sons found the diameter of the pool to be too much. They decided on their own that they would remain satisfied with only exploring half the pool deck. And I was ok with that. As long as I do my part, they will be safe to do their part ... in their own time.

image: made-in-china.com
Boundaries are not bad things. Boundaries are the guardrails of life. If you as a parent experience the pain and discomfort of having your child crash into the boundaries you've established for them fear not! That means you're doing your job well. Just like the guardrails along the highway keep our cars from crashing over into a ditch, your age appropriate boundaries will keep your child safe as well. If your child challenges the limitations you've set do not move the boundaries. They are there for bumping into. They guardrails keep your child safe. It means you're doing your job well.
Rules and limitations can be so disheartening at times but remember they also have the purpose of keeping us safe. Don't be afraid to set up boundaries for your child. In the end it will help develop them into the adults you want them to grow up and be! Why? Because I'm the Mom and I said so! That's why!

Monday, June 20, 2011

Monday's Entry

I want to take the time on today's blog entry to thank you, my reader! I have had some wonderful feedback from many of you! I am so thankful for every moment you've taken to read my entries and commenting!

I am super excited these days. I have a renewal in my soul and spirit like I've not had in years! I feel stronger than ever! I am going to continue to post blogs about the hilarious and mishaps of our Tribe, my trek as a writer but also I'm ready to open up about some of my thoughts about the journey I've been on the last two years.

So keep reading. Keep coming back and keep commenting (it gives me great energy to keep going!) For those of you who are email subscribers I would invite you to consider adding your comments to the blog itself in addition to the emails you send!

Thanks again to each of you!
I am enjoying this blogging experience and it has a lot to do with you!
Keep reading.....


Stephanie

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Happy Father's Day, Honey!

Happy Father's Day
 Kids!
I got five of 'em which means my quivers full, my kitchen is forever a mess and I'm a frequent visitor to the edge of sanity.

Kinda not kidding.

Someone recently asked me what would be the name of my memoir should it be published today.
That' was so easy:
"Go Ask Your Father!!!!!"

For years I've been trying to get our kids to ask their father for help. God as my witness they will walk right past him in the kitchen in order to find me and ask me to pour them a drink from the refrigerator!

RIGHT PAST HIM!

This has been happening for years despite all my best efforts to the contrary.


Well last night was a historical moment and I've just GOT to share.

It's 4:00 a.m. and I stir slightly as I hear the pitter patter of little feet entering the bedroom. I don't open my eyes I just wait for the inevitable whisper, "Mom! MOM! Moooooooo-oooooom!"

But it doesn't happen.
Nobody calls my name.
I become more alert now simply out of shear shock.
But I don't move.
I'm no dummy!

Instead I hear, "Dad! I need a nightlight!"

I freeze. I am not going to move. I am not going to give my six year old daughter or my husband even the faintest opportunity to think I might be awake.

I think I even hold my breath.

My darling husband flings back the covers and will tuck our daughter back in. I think I hear him mumbling some sort of  reason with our daughter, "The sun will be up in an hour, hon, you don't need a night light now!"

I hear her protesting but together they leave and head down the hall.

Oh. My. Gosh!
I can't believe she didn't ask me. I can't believe she went to his side of the bed first. I can't believe I'm still in bed while darling hubby is dealing with her insane predawn demands.

I fall back to sleep with a smile on my face.

The next morning Abby tells me that Daddy wouldn't get her a nightlight when she needed one. Clearly she's trying to garner sympathy..of which of course I have none.

Then she adds, "Mommy, Daddy's breath was very bad!"

Classic right?

Leave it to your child to
a. disturb your sleep
b. make a ridiculous demand
c. insult you in the process

Well, darling, this blog is dedicated to you! Thanks for rising to the occasion when our children remembered to ask you for something (especially since it was at 4 a.m.). Happy Fathers Day, babe! If the kids need something tonight I'll actually consider helping them myself. That's super nice of me, right?

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Learning the Hard Way


Is there anything more difficult than learning a lesson the "hard" way?
It is difficult and uncomfortable and yet it's completely unforgettable.
Can you think back to a lesson you learned the hard way?
...
...
...
...
Chances are you remember the lesson you learned. You remember it simply because of the way you learned it ... the hard way.

The hard way sucks.
The hard way hurts.
The hard way leaves a mark.
But the hard way makes it's point.
It sticks.
You get it and even better you remember it.

I wrote a few weeks ago about my son's stolen bike. He took it to the library and failed to secure it with his lock. He'll probably never forget to lock up his possessions again. That's the hard way.

I once held a belief, a core, personal belief, that if 2 people earnestly loved God they could absolutely get along. I no longer believe that.
Relationships are challenging.
Personalities get involved.
Some words you cannot take back no matter how hard you try.

We hate learning lessons the hard way. But isn't that sometimes the best way? If you're honest with yourself, isn't it possible to admit that if, in fact that life lesson stings a little, you'll be a little less likely to leave your bicycle, or your heart for that matter, unattended?

Friday, June 17, 2011

I am more certain than ever of ...

Some people, women especially, hate getting older.

I'm kinda liking it. I don't like the effects it has on my hair, face and body but there is more to life than outward appearances.

That's one of the things I'm learning with old age.
I'll be 40 this year.

I like this one thing about aging: I am more certain than ever about a few things and am ok with not understanding everything.

Today I am reflecting on .... on... ... ... ...
...
...




crap!


that's the one part I hate!
Where the heck did my memory go?
I was sure of something just a minute ago and I wanted to tell you.




No seriously, this isn't a clever blog entry ... I really forgot what I was sure of.




Well, if this don't be the damndest thing...



when I remmber I will certainly add it.....

Thursday, June 16, 2011

What's the story been like so far?

I hate when bad things happen.
We all do don't we?
But when you add to that that I'm a very tearful person you find I cry ALL THE TIME:
  • A good commercial,
  • A sad movie,
  • A redemptive story,
  • Children who aren't loved,
  • My favorite song on the radio, all of it sends tears rolling down my cheeks.
I cry so often that my family hardly even notices anymore, "Oh, Mom's crying ... again!" So now you know I hate it when bad things happen AND I hate when bad things happen and I spontaneously cry.

As human beings I think we're programmed this way. We look away, make ourselves think a different thought, bury our head in the sand, rent movies with only happy endings or in my case, we wipe away tears. We avoid heartache, poverty, conflict and disappointment.
We pretend it doesn't bother us.
We focus on not focusing on it.
We hate when bad things happen.

I recently drew a long line on a piece of paper. On the left side was the beginning of my life. This is my time line. I thought of all the significant events in my life...both good and bad and I penciled them in on my time line. All the positive moments I wrote in chronological order above the line. All the negative moments I wrote, also in chronological order, below the line.

I laid my life out before me: when my kids were born, my wedding day, a job, an award, a move, a fight, a death, a loss...all of it. All the significant things that popped into my mind as moments in my life that have helped shape me .. good/bad/or otherwise.

I put down the pencil and looked at it all. And I found the most amazing thing, some of those moments that were so terrible were pivotal points of change. Because THIS sucky thing happened I did THAT. When I did THAT I met THEM. THEY introduced me to THAT which caused me to do a different THIS and now I'm looking forward to SOMETHING.

Have all my terrible things been redeemed? Well, no of course not, my life's not over. There is still a chance that they can cause a turn for the better. But that's not the point. Mapping out my life's timeline showed me something. It's all a story ... a big, ongoing, interwoven story. Seeing how some negative things have been a force for good change provides me with great encouragement. Because if one thing has been used for good in my life than there's the chance that this current conflict can be related to my future as well.

image from creativemedianews.net
This is good news to me as I'm weary of fighting off conflict and negative events. I can't shake them in my life anyway. It's a loosing battle. But I'm no masochist either. I am simply grasping onto the belief that this is what makes a up a life.

A life has hardships and glorious moments, and grief and ecstasy, and loneliness and popularity, and feast and famine and ... I have to believe my life matters.
All of it.
Not just the parts that I particularly enjoyed.
If any of it matters ... all of it matters. And "those who don't believe they matter will have a hard time enjoying life or inspiring others. Understanding your story, and seeing God's presence in your life, is critical to walking with Him in the future and creating and executing a personal story for you life" Donald Miller, Storyline Conference. I want my story to matter.
I don't want to be afraid of bad things anymore.
Do you?

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Life Story

I absolutely loved my experience at the Storyline Conference last week. (it's hard to believe it's been a week already!) (why is it the good times fly and the bad times drag?) I learned so much about story. Did you know for example that the best stories always, absolutely always contain bad parts? No seriously, if you think back to your favorite movies or books it's usually about a character (usually a character you've come to adore) who overcame some amazing set of circumstances to triump or win in the end. Any great story has a standard set of elements: * a character * a conflict * a climactic scene * and a resolution Whether you are a budding writer (like myself) or not, this is something you should understand if you want to understand your life. Why? Because your life is a story. When all your loved ones gather around in your honor, when your dead and gone do you know what they will share? Stories. Stories from your childhood. Stories from your workplace. Your kids will tell stories, your friends, your spouse... they will gather around casseroles dressed in black and they will regale each other with their version of your story. What kind of story will they tell? (seriously think about it for minute) I want a certain kind of story to be told about me. I want people to say I was generous, and a good friend, and a spectacular mother, and a brave soul (who put all her thoughts out there on the world wide web). I want my loved ones to laugh when they talk about me. I want to have made them laugh. I want my employer to testify to my children that I had a good work ethic. I want everything I said I would do to be done. I don't want anyone to think my word is not good. I want people to know I loved them...that I genuinely cared. Will they say these things about me? Is this a morbid blog entry? All I know is the way I live my life now...today creates the story I want to be told about me. The choices I make today, the places I go and the people I see and the activities I engage in are all weaving together to tell the story of my life. I believe I am partnering with God to write my life story. I believe that. I believe this life matters for something. I believe that my life is going to be a great story. How do I know? Well, now I'm aware of the storytelling process and I am brutally conscious that my life has had it's own share of conflicts. I will do my part to make sure that when the curtain calls on my life it will have been a fantastic tale of heroism. May it be said of me someday, "What a life!" "What a story of truimp!" "My how she overcame the bad and celebrated the good!" Yes. May it be said.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Praying for Chicken

Its vacation!
That means a lot of things:
  • I can take off my watch
  • I don't care if I have cell service and
  • I eat at all my favorite places.

Today we had lunch at Chick-fil-a.

In case you've not been to this chicken heaven, trust me when I say it's really great food. In fact, I've never met anyone in my whole life who doesn't like Chick-fil-a....... ever!

But also you should know this is where the "Christians" go to eat. It's well known in our subculture that the chicken franchise owner is also a believer and we like to spend our money on organizations who believe like we do. It eases our conscious or something (she says tongue in cheek).

Now I am a Christian but this is not why I've come here with my girls today. This is seriously good food. Eating here is yummy and I only get it once or twice a year. But thats still not the main reason why I like visiting Chick-fil-a ..... it makes me feel young. It's not the hand breaded, all breast meat chicken cooked in 100% refined peanut oil which is naturally low on trans fat and is cholesterol free. No, Chick-fil-as remind me of my first job. I was 15 and working the cash register at Chick-fil-a at Jamestown Mall (well that is until I slipped Errol Manning a free order of waffle fries and I got let go) proudly wearing a brown apron and polyester pants.

Reminiscing on those good ol days I sat there today eating my mayo and chicken sandwich (yes in that order) when a loud group takes over the two tables next to me.

The mother, bless her heart, is doing her best but she is clearly over-parenting (just take a breath lady - this probably isn't the kids first time out to eat). She's scrambling and fussing and making sure every child has the exact same number of nuggets. Some kids protest they are ready to eat and others are complaining they have the wrong order. All are under the age of seven. Mom won't let anyone dig in until a. everyone has their food and b. they say a prayer of grace. The entire restaurant was aware of this fact. The madness stops for a brief moment while the children grasp hands, bow their heads and one proclaims their corporate thanks for mom, dad, grandma and chicken. At the "amen!" all four sets of hands dig in and the mom collapses in a nearby, supervisory booth.

And that's when I hear a hushed giggle rise from the same table. A sweet little voice added an addendum to the now executed prayer,
"And poop-poop! Thank you Lord for poop poop!".
"Yeah!" another child adds, "Poop-poop! Poop-poop!"

I smiled despite myself. Aren't children wonderful?
Wonderful?!? Don't I mean horrible?
No, I don't.

In the book of Mark chapter 40 Jesus warns us to be aware that some church leaders make a show with their lengthy prayers and that that behavior is punishable.

I certainly don't know this woman's heart or even her belief system and I too understand the compelling need to teach your children the value of prayer but is this the best way? This is not a statement against her desire to teach her children about prayer but its just a question; should we make children pray?
Does making them pray make them truly thankful? Probably not.
Should we make a show of our prayers?
Can gratitude be genuine if it's expressed internally?
Should children be punished for behaving like children do in sacred moments?
Are chicken nuggets sacred?
And most importantly can you be thankful for poop?

I can. After a week of travel, an abnormal diet and a two different time zones I can say I'm quite thankful for a healthy bowel movement.
Did I really just say that?
I did!

Listen I'm not wanting to judge who is and who isn't sincere in their prayers all I know is that God tells us it's a very bad idea to try and impress people when we pray aloud. It seems to me those children were praying to appease their mothers expectations. I imagine the sincerest prayer was that pertaining to bowel movements.

That'll give you something to think about the next time you eat chicken won't it?

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Haystack Rock

I

This is Haystack Rock. I got a chance to visit it this week. It's big. If you squint real hard you can see little figures next to it. That's people, teeny tiny people. I know it's hard to see them. It's because they are small. And the rock is big. Very big. It's 235 feet tall and it sits just beyond the Coastal Mountain range on Cannon Beach in Oregon. It's massive. It's the 3rd largest intertidal structure (meaning reached by land) in the world (thanks Wikepedia).





The rock is massive and it's hard to see that from these photos. As we approached I continued to snap pictures hoping to catch the size of the rock on film. It was nearly impossible to do. But here's a photo I like because as we walked (and walked and walked and walked) I noticed the reflection in the pool of water that had collected on the beach. To say Haystack Rock is massive is quite an understatement. I mean it is just a rock. But it's HUGE rock....so is it just a rock?



 

I was pleasantly surprised as we approached Haystack. It was colorful
and textured
and interesting
and ALIVE.
Turns out this big ol dead rock was full of live creatures!




Starfish, Sea Slugs, Mussels, Hermit Crabs and Sea Anemones all live here and as a Midwest-corn-field-rural-small town girl this was fascinating for me!
We walked on rocks.
Jumped tide pools.
Dipped our toes in the water.
Caused Sea Anemones to quake.
Photographed creatures and marveled at it all.
At it all.
At a rock.


I was told I was lucky to have been able to approach Haystack Rock and all it's needles (the smaller, surrounding rock formations) that day. Apparently the tide is usually high most of the day and you have to marvel at the rock from a distance. From a distance it looks like a big rock. It's only up close that you see the detail and beauty.


Truth be told, I had no idea what I was driving to see. Diane said "Wanna see Oregon's most famous rock?" "Ummm, sure" I shrugged.

Good thing I didn't base my decision on my knowledge of landscapes.
I would have missed it's glorious size.

"There it is! Wanna walk the beach to get to it?"
"Umm, sure!"
Good thing I didn't trust my eyes as to what I beauty I would witness if I hadn't approached Haystack.
I would have missed it's wonder.

"Wanna come look in this tide pool? It has creatures!"
"Sure!" I said.
Good thing the water was pulled back so I could see what lives below the sea.
Good thing because in my head I would have missed this whole opportunity.
A rock.
A beach.
A tide.
Good thing I didn't make a decision based on what I know....or can judge...or can see.... or even on what I can't see.
How many times in life do we judge too quickly?
Rely on our sight solely? or
refuse to time our approach so that we can take advantage of that small crack in time when the waters are rolled back and the beauty beneath is revealed?

I pet a starfish. And tickled a sea anemone.
My feet splashed in the ocean and sand buffed my heels.

It was a glorious place that Monday afternoon.
That grey Oregon day.
At that rock.

Good thing I didn't miss it.
Good thing.

Haystack Rock...it's got a lot going on under the surface. Just like life.Don't judge me based on my above land presence. There is so much more to me, to life. And if you wait. If you're lucky you'll get a glimpse. If you hang around you'll catch a quick reveal below the surface and see a life that is unique and interesting and rough and colorful and old and new and ....alive. That is if you're willing to look beyond the rock, up close and under the surface.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Update from Storyline

Well its proven to be much more difficult to find the time for a proper entry for my blog (this is the 2nd blog sent via email). This Don Miller Storyline conference in Portland OR has been amazing! I am very interested in bringing it home and sharing it with a few gals. Let me know if you"re interested.

Here's a few nuggets:
1 we should consider how we are wired and begin to apply our talents toward an adventure we can enjoy.
2 Man fully alive is the glory of God St. Ireland
3 nobody escapes conflict. God launches us in life. He makes us live.
4 Life involves a fight. Refusing to engage conflict doesn't create peace.
5 what makes a story great is also what creates a great life.

Stephanie Sikorski
"It's all Good!"

Sent from my U.S. Cellular BlackBerry® smartphone

Monday, June 6, 2011

Preparing for Portland

You know -it seems from my experience- that rarely does some connection magically happen.
Usually a series of events brings you to a place where you
meet your future husband
or Bff or
land an interview
or ...

but rarely are we aware that the moment we are in will be directly related to a future happening.

It's only in hindsight that you can see that what we perceived to be random events actually line up to make up something significant in our life.

You could make any number of judgments about me -about this trip to Portland to visit\work\attend Storyline.
Maybe it seems cool\lucky\expensive\a waste\whatever....but you don't know the story behind the scenes:
You couldn't know that I wrote an essay last year to win a chance to attend this conference.
Or that Aaron surprised me with a ticket when I didn't win.
And that I'm staying with a dear friend who I met when
Aaron invited my on a missions trip because
He was considering working with NLI because
Bill recruited him because
He helped train Aaron as a leader because
Aaron choose to intern at Calvary because.....

Random events.
In real time these were seemingly unrelated connections. But now laying under the Portland stars it all connects. Was it destiny?
Was it all a random chain of events?
I'm not certain but I have a feeling its not happenstance.
It feels significant.
It feels exciting.
So may I encourage you today?
May you be reminded that every moment is connected to the next one.
And the one after that. And then the one after that.
We can't know what's down the road but we can be mindful of today.
And maybe today's the day that begins the thing that
you'll start tomorrow and shop for
next week where you'll bump into someone who
can tell you about......

Stephanie Sikorski
"It's all Good!"

Sent from my U.S. Cellular BlackBerry® smartphone

Saturday, June 4, 2011

It's a New Day!

my Blackberry captures the sunrise on 34

I woke at 4:17 a.m. this morning with a start....afraid I overslept.
I didn't.

It's Saturday and I am making my way to Portland, OR.

The greatest man on the planet, my husband is sending me to The Storyline Conference offered by Don Miller. So I get to go to the one conference based on a book that changed my life....and visit with girlfriends. I got lots of girlfriends in Portland! 

(btw Aaron is not the greatest man EVER because he's bought me these tix....he was the best man before he gave me these for a Valentine's Day gift. How he gets better and better is beyond me - God I love that man!).

I was privileged to see the sunrise this morning. A moment I cherish as an exhausted, overworked, mom of 5! It's a glorious sight to behold.
And I got the sense that it was a new day.
Obviously....right?
But I got the sense not just literally....that it was also a new day, a turned page, a new chapter, another beginning, a redo, a fresh start.
And who couldn't use that?
Over the next week this blog will be chock full of details from The Storyline Conference!
I hope you'll enjoy!

Thursday, June 2, 2011

A Slovak Breakfast


I invited 15 women to my home.
I shifted all the furniture in the family room and dining room.
I dusted and vacuumed and dusted again.
I laid out a spread of food!. Hard rolls, butter, sliced meats & cheese, tomatoes, cucumbers, eggs, yogurt and granola. (It was my best attempt at a genuine Slovak breakfast)

I prepared my presentation.
I practiced when nobody was around.

It was my Missions Breakfast. I wanted to communicate to those who have supported our work with Next Level International and those who have expressed an interest in what we do, all that I have in store for this upcoming year.

It's pretty exciting!

Another school year is coming to a close and with it my Parental Education job of 13 years. Pending some funding issues with the State of Illinois I may or may not return. If I do it will be in a could be in a completely different position.

Because of that termination I made a decision. A decision to become more involved in an organization I've had the pleasure of working with on an extremely part-time basis over the last 5 years.


I asked the Women's Development leader if I could take on some more responsibility. I was beyond pleased when she didn't even have to think about it. Linda said "Yes!" so fast, I had to ask her if she wasn't sure she needed to think about it first!

 So with a dining room full of women, I presented the vision of Next Level International's Women's Development and I explained about EMERGE,

Emerge's vision is to call women out of the shadows into their God-given destiny and purpose.  It also exists to equip and train women who are developing or refining their leadership skills.


what I do for EMERGE,
2009
I've had the extreme pleasure of participating in 4 European and 2 North American EMERGE Women's Conferences. I've prepared gift bags, hand wrote delegate notes, administrated the conference details, worked the registration table, presented at breakout sessions, keynoted, developed an online community, written resources, blogged, shared an encouraging word and listened to countless stories of the bravest, most remarkable women on the plant.

and what EMERGE has done for me. 
I'm a small town girl. My husband and I planted and pastored the same church for 12 years. We labored in love over a small congregation in a small town. We never had our sights set to move up and out into bigger churches in bigger communities where pay was bigger and recognition was more accessible. We committed to serve a small group of believers. And we did. Until we wanted to work with Next Level International.
2008
I said all that to say this: EMERGE helped me. It made me EMERGE in my own way. If you look at my resume, it's got nothing to boast. No degree. No family name to propel me. No books with my name on them. I just served. Served my congregation. Served my family. EMERGE drew out of my giftings. It invited me to be transparent with the ups and downs of ministry and life. To share of my experiences. To tell my story. To encourage other women who's journey was similar. To be a support to others.
And an amazing thing happened. As I shared. As I encouraged...it was I who benefited. I was strengthened. I saw that my story made a difference in another person's life. Which compelled me to search myself deeper. To be honest and real. We connected over tears and hugs and I've made lifelong friends from Czech Republic, Canada and Slovakia.

I am extremely thankful to Tana, Lola, Janet, Jen, Kara, Leslie, Lauren, Connie & Amanda for coming and listening to the vision in my heart to further work with EMERGE. This summer will be very exciting as I work diligently to create an effective online place where women from all over the world can connect, receive resource and encouragement as they fulfill their God given destiny and purpose. EMERGE has a mandate to reach 1 million women. I believe the EMERGE website is a key to making that happen. It will be my pleasure to transform my dining room table to a portal that reaches, teaches and encourages women all over the planet.

As this is a missions ministry it is my responsibility to raise the expenses covered for the conferences in Estonia and Czech Republic (locations of  EMERGE conferences this fall). I've set up a convenient and easy way to give online. All donations are tax-deductible as NLI is a registered nonprofit. I told the women who attended the Mission Breakfast there are 4 ways you can help support this missions work:
  1. make a monthly financial commitment
  2. sponsor a trip
  3. make a commitment to pray
  4. advocate on my behalf (I'm available for speaking engagements &/or your small group or Sunday School class can sponsor a woman to attend conference.) 
A slogan among the Women's Development team is "We get to do this!". It's a sentiment I wholeheartedly agree with. It's my honor to work with NLI. I work for EMERGE. I am EMERGing.

If you'd like to partner with this exciting work you can email me at www(dot)starski(at)hotmail.



Wednesday, June 1, 2011

My Memorial Weekend...

I haven't been hiding from you.....
it was just a long holiday weekend....











and we just were kicking it around......

which means I didn't get any live blogging done. I hope you enjoyed reading some preposted blogs! As I continue to move pieces I've written from my first love, er blog.... I'll put them up here occasionally for your reading enjoyment!

Did you have a nice Memorial Weekend? We did! Our forever friends The Gelhars traveled to see us! I hosted a Missions Breakfast on Saturday (more on that later). We swam in freezing water on Monday. Attended a Memorial Service. Watched Halee's swan song in the band. Ate grilled food. And threw some bags. All-in-all it was a nice break.

Now, however, the schedule kicks in. We have quite a bit of traveling to do over the month of June but the first stop is the Storyline Conference in Portland, OR. I am thrilled!!! to go!

This entire blog is inspired by the Storyline Conference premises. I am looking forward to attending. I have a sneaky feeling it could be a life changing moment for me!


Storyline Conference from shieldsfilms.com on Vimeo.

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