Tuesday, January 3, 2012

As much as I wish I could shut my brain off and go to bed I can't, so this is my late night ramblings I guess. ;) We are getting closer to our closing on our house, down to a couple weeks I believe. We have had different situations slow us down but we are well on the way.

Every time we think about this house we feel nothing but blessed. We have recieved much criticism about our decision, but we have also recieved much encouragment. I will however miss this Broadwater house. I have so many memories here. I have often thought about writing a book of all the crazy things that have happened  while we lived here, but even if I did, I don't even know if anyone would believe me.

I found myself having a conversation with Jayden the other day where I busted out the old cliche, If you can't say something nice then don't say anything at all. The second it came out of my mouth I was convicted. How often do I say things that are not encouraging to others!? Treat others the way I want to be treated right. Then out of a totally different conversation she was telling me about how one of her friends had said somthing to her that was not very kind and it hurt her feelings. We had a good conversation about how we can't control what others say, we can only control how we respond. How people sometimes say things without thinking of how it may affect the other person. Out of my trying to comfort my sweet little girl I felt it speaking to my own heart. I am supposedly teaching my children, but sometimes I think they teach me far more! I love my percious little girls so so very much!

So, there ya have it. Now on to other news. We have had some action at the Rykowski house! We had our first experience with head lice. Fortunately Travis and I have been in the clear, so we give loving but distant hugs to the girls. ;) I tell ya what, those little lice are not fun to get rid of. We found out early in the evening they got the little critters so it was instant up to the bath and I tried to get them out while Trav went to the store to get the magic remedy. Even though brooklyn Trav and I didn't appear to have it goin on we decided we were going to be proactive and do everyone. I knew the combing would take a while but we are talking hours of picking tiny little bugs out which seem to be glued in their hair. Travis said, I feel like a monkey picking bugs out of their hair. Hahaha I love how he can make anything fun.  After we finished the girls were certain that after the tramatic events they needed to have a sleepover on the floor in our room.

So we put Brooklyn in her crib and made beds for the other two on our floor and put them to bed while we cleaned every inch of our house and did an endless amount of laundry. About 11 or so Jayden (who had still not gone to bed) started crying that her ear hurt so bad. So her and Avery (who was also still awake imagine that) came in the bathroom and I grabbed a flashight and saw what looked like a giant clump of wax stuck down deep in her ear. Luckily I had some ear candles at home so they were thrilled that I "lit Jaydens ear on fire". Then we of course had to cut it open and look at all the nasty stuff inside. After that I put some ear oil stuff in her ear and they FINALLY went to bed. Then today little miss Brooklyn got into the granola fiber bars and ate three or four of them. Ya... I bet you can guess what happened next. That girl had the most explosive and nasty diapers ever. Hahaha it was so absolutely disgusting, but I can't help but laugh at the thought of all of this. Lets hope tomorrow brings us a little less excitment. ;)

Monday, December 5, 2011

                                               OUR BIG NEWS

 At the beginning of this year Travis and I started discussing what our next step was as far as where we wanted to live because we both knew moving back to our current house was only temporary. After much discussion about many different options we ended up both agreeing that our heart was on the south side. After a few months of talking about this we decided to meet with the guys at CLDI (Community Leadership & Development Inc) and talk about our thoughts and desires. We left that meeting feeling very encouraged and also grateful for the opportunity to make some great new friends. After a few discussions with them we fully intended to build a house on south 30th. 

In the midst of making these decisions we encountered some rather unfortunate events. I will make a long story short and say that our house was broken in to a couple different times and a very significant amount of money was stolen. Along with that our house we sold contract for deed had arrived at it's deadline for closing which is when we received more lovely news that because of various reasons our house was appraised for a significant amount of money less then we sold it for. 

After all of this I won't lie we were left feeling disheartened, discouraged, and disappointed. We, of course, would have never chosen for these things to happen to us. But they did and getting upset over them accomplished nothing. Everything we own is Gods, and though I do not understand why this happened he is in control. He allowed this to happen so we trust that he had purpose in all of this even if we never have any clue as to what that purpose is.

So, what next? We prayed. We said God we desire to go to the south side and feel it would honor you. So even though we are not sure how we will afford this we are going to continue to pursue this until you close every door. So we drew up our house plans and waited. In the midst of this, our renter moved out ( it was on rather awful terms) and our rental was left absolutely trashed. Sigh... the joys of being a landlord. We filled ten 40 gallon garbage bags with junk she left behind. Then we proceeded to repaint and clean every inch of the place to remove the disgusting filth she left behind. The night we had finally finished all the work on our rental Travis was looking at new listings on the MLS (like he always does) and saw this HUD home on Monroe. He asked me if I was at all interested in it and I said no. Then he asked if I cared if he went to look at it anyway and I said not at all. In my mind "knowing" that once he saw it it would most likely never line up to my criteria. (We had been through this conversation before). However, to my surprise that was not at all the tune he was singing. I came home from work and he said Darc I would really like you to just look at this house and if you say no then that's that. So I agreed and the next morning we went to look. Don't get me wrong the place was disgusting!! It was actually a meth house (yes we have looked into how to properly take care of that whole situation). Every square inch of that thing needed to be ripped down do the bare walls and redone, but the guts of it were in great shape and the layout for the most part worked for us. The next day was actually when the first bidding process was (go figure) and I agreed that we could throw a bid out there. Our prayer that night was Lord we think this is a great deal and a good fit for us but you see things we do not, so if this in anyway is not what you would have for us then please slam this door shut! The next day our bid was accepted.

Now, I want to take a minute and specify that this is in NO WAY us settling! We are BOTH very excited about this new endeavor. I know that many may not understand nor support our decision. With that being said we also find great support and encouragement by many of our wonderful friends and also others who share our vision.

Questions we are often asked:
 Why? The answer, because it's what we feel passionate about!! Jesus went to the poor, the needy, the prostitutes, the tax collectors. He loved those who others deemed unlovable or unworthy of love. We are in no way comparing ourselves to Jesus. We fall far below that, we simply look forward to building relationships with neighbors some of whom others may choose to avoid.

Aren't you concerned of your families safety? The first thing I want to say in response to this is we adore our girls and our family as a whole and we do not take this matter lightly. Of course there are risks, but there are risks everywhere! Travis and I over analyze everything and I guarantee you we have thought of just about every possibility. However, we do not want to allow fear to grip our lives, because fear is not from God. From early on it seems we are instilled with this idea that we should fear certain neighborhoods, because of this we fear what we have had absolutely no experience in. The truth, yes, there are dangerous people sure, but the majority are people who are just plain poor. There are many single moms who are working two dead end jobs to provide for their children. They love their children just as much as we love ours and are trying  to provide a home full of love. There are also young families struggling to start their lives together. We personally find that in this sort of environment we do not feel the need to 'keep up with the Joneses' but instead find a feeling of contentment. We hope through this our children will learn to appreciate things and not take them for granted. From the day I held my first baby in my arms my prayer was that our kids would understand how to love and serve people well. We don't want to raise our children to simply donate a can of food or a dollar or two to people in need. We want to teach them how to love those people when no one else would and instead of throwing them a hand out, teach and encourage them how to work for things so they can get that feeling of accomplishment and self-worth . We do not intend on causing a revival in the neighborhood. We just want to live life in community with those around us. If someone comes to know Christ through it then that's awesome. But our intention is not to "save" people. We just want to love people and when opportunities arise serve them however we can.

Life is not easy, and we do not expect it to be. We know that because of our decision, situations will arise, but we also know God is always with us. He has promised to never leave us or forsake us. If he can protect Daniel in the lions den, and helped David defeat Goliath, and could deliever Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego from the fiery furnace I know he can protect our family. God sent his son to die and save a wretch like me, I owe him everything.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

The Challenge of Free Will

 Travis and I have been married now for 7 1/2 years. I am not one of those people who believes there is one person out there for everyone, I tend to think there are many people one could marry and be happy with. That being said, I do not know if there is anyone else out there who would fit together so perfectly with me as Travis does. Yes, we are different, complete opposites in most things, but on the things that count we are dead on together most times. It is because of this blessing that I believe that God knew me, and he knew Travis, and he put us together because he had a special and unique purpose for us and our family.

 In our marriage we have gone through some challenging events, but we have also had some amazing blessings, such as our three precious little girls! Having children has really opened my eyes to Gods love. It's an unconditional love that you feel no matter what they do! At the end of the day, you love them and they love you. It is during my children's baby dedications that I felt Gods sovereignty and my utter lack of control in this life. Before that I would say, God I am willing, but then get fearful that He would ask me to do something I didn't want to or that He might take a child or Travis away, so even though I said our life was his I wasn't really surrendering to him at all! I liked my comfortable life, I liked going day to day without dramatic things happening. But really, God is in control, and whether I surrender my life to him or not he can still do as he chooses, and its much more beneficial for myself and my family that we submit to him. I took their dedications very seriously, I was saying not my will but yours Lord. That means whatever was to happen, it was in his hands and I was willing to give him that right in their lives. It makes me think of the story of Abram/Abraham. I am always challenged by the many struggles he went through and how he remained so faithful to God.

God asked Abram to take his family and move to an unknown country and Abram followed God's instructions (huge challenge in itself).  He watched Pharaoh make Sarai to be his wife (I can't imagine how hard THAT must have been). Then Abram rescues Lot, but he denies praise and gives it to God and will accept no reward because of an oath he made to God.  Because of his faithfulness God promises him many children (the guy is 99 years old) and God also changes his name to Abraham. The story goes on and on, and then it gets me. He finally had a son, named Isaac, and God asks him to take his son (his only son) go to Moriah and sacrifice him there as a burnt offering. Abraham got up the next morning saddled his donkey got his son and off they went. When they got there they chopped wood and he and Isaac walked up the hill. On the way Isaac asks his Dad, "the fire and the wood are here, but where is the lamb for the burnt offering? " To which Abraham replies "God himself will provide the lamb for the burnt offering, my son" When they got to the alter he then tied up his son and laid him on top of the wood. Then he reached out his hand and took the knife to slay his son, but just then the angel of the Lord stopped him. He said "Now I know that you fear God, because you have not withheld from me your son, your only son." They found a ram to sacrifice and their story goes on.

I hear this story and want to weep. I am reminded I am selfish, in the fact that I want to keep my family to myself. And I am an idoliter, in that I am almost positive I couldn't do that, so therefore I am choosing to put my family before God. The hard part in all of this, is God spoke to Abram, and he knew exactly what he was being asked to do. As much as there are times I know what God is asking of me, there are also those times when I am not sure. Sometimes I think God just doesn't care, we could do this or we could do that. Neither are dishonoring to him but he gives us the choice. These are the times that I question everything.  The challenge comes when I want to line up my selfish desires with what I think is most "kingdom bringing". I know that if from now to the day I died I did nothing extravagant for God he would still love me. And yet that is not enough for me. If anything, that fact makes me want to do more for him. But it comes down to the question am I willing? If I give Jayden fruit snacks, she has every right to eat them all. She is not expected to do anything but eat them, but if she looks at her sister and with a loving heart chooses to share them with her, it warms my heart. And even though she wasn't expected to do that, she chose to. I want to warm my heavenly fathers heart, and yet because I am human will always feel the battle between doing what I want and putting others before myself. The balance, for me, is a hard one to find at times.

Friday, October 7, 2011

I came across this post by Peter Horrobin the other day and it really spoke to me so I thought I would share.

“Can you tell me how to fully surrender to the Lord? I have read Andrew Murray’s book Fully Surrendered a long time ago, but it was a thing that seemed too hard or it seemed I was not ready. I don’t think we’re ever really ready. I have some very hard consequences in my life now and it seems that to really hear from the Lord I need to know that I am all the way in with him. I need his protection and words of wisdom in my life. If you read this please write me something.”

For the past few days, these words have been going round and round in my mind as I have been wrestling with how to answer the question. Many books have been written on this and similar subjects, and I could possibly add a few thousand words of my own, but I really sensed that the writer of the question wasn’t looking for a long theological answer, but a practical response which really works in the everyday activities of normal life!

So, at risk of sounding simplistic, I’m going to make the answer brief and to the point and say, One step at a time! Now that may sound terribly obvious, but in my experience, it is the terribly obvious things that often get overlooked, especially when people try to look for a comprehensive answer, that will cover all possible situations and types of people.

There is only one place you can start from in your search for a solution – and that’s the place where you now are. And there is only one way you can move from where you now are – and that’s one step at a time. You cannot suddenly find yourself a few years down the road of life, or even a few weeks down the line, with all your problems solved – you can only live today’s moment – none of us can live life in any other way!

So, ultimately, the answer to the question is a little like the Chinese proverb which says: the journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. And when that single step has been repeated many, many times you will discover you’ve travelled a thousand miles from your starting place.

So, if your spiritual objective is to live a fully surrendered life, don’t try and imagine what that might look like and then try and live up to the spiritual image you may have conjured up in your imagination, because you cannot get from where you are now to that longed for destination in one big step! So stop imagining what the end-result may be and only think about the next step – for that’s the most important step in the whole of your life – get that one right and then you can think about the next one, and the next one, and the next one and so on!

Tomorrow’s miracle is always built on the foundation of today’s obedience – and that’s the most important key of all to living that fully surrendered life. Today’s obedience will always lead you in the right direction. I don’t know any people that might fit the category of living a fully surrendered life who got there in one big step. It was always a fruit of determined perseverance, looking to the Lord for His direction about each and every step of the way.

So, having made your decision that you want Jesus to be Lord of every area of your life, simply review every step you make, one at a time, before Him. If you’re not sure what to do, wait until you are. The peace of God will guide you. God does speak to His children. One of the reasons why I wrote Ellel 365 was to help people get to the place where they would be able to know and recognise the voice of the Lord, so that each step they take will be in God’s direction for today – and having made that step we can then leave the consequences with him as we review the next one.

Holiness isn’t delivered by angels, like food from a fast-food outlet! It grows on and in us as we make the right choices on a daily basis. There are very few big decisions in life, only lots of small ones. But when you’ve made lots of right small decisions you will be surprised at how significant are the consequences of the journey you’re on.

A great artist looks at a blank canvas and then meticulously covers it with tiny brush strokes. You may look at the finished work and stand in total amazement at what you now see. But even though you can see the whole picture in its finished state, the painting is not made with one magnificent, artistic gesture, through which the whole image suddenly comes into view. It takes thousands of single brush strokes – one at a time – in the hand of a master artist to create the finished image.

And each one of us is like an artist’s brush – with it we place a blob of paint on the picture of our life. But when THE Master has hold of the brush, and we allow him to decide where the blob of paint will go, then we can be confident that out moment by moment surrendering to Him will one day give other people the impression of what a fully surrendered life looks like!

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

One day Avery was throwing an absolute fit over, well, nothing really. At first I was just irritated but then I couldn't quit laughing because she was being so ridiculous. So I decided to take a couple pictures, it will be some great material to have when she is older.

And then there is the logical one who analyzes everything just like her Daddy.

Snuggling with Daddy.
This little bugger LOVES to make a mess. This would be her taking all of the blankets and movies out and carefully placing them all over the floor. Right after this she went over to a different cupboard and took out all of the paint, markers, and crayons and threw them all over the floor. All of this in a matter of 10 minutes. She keeps my busy. ;)
She is sure a cute little stinker though!
Jayden informed me this morning that she is going to marry me because she is my little snuggle buggie. I think I could live with that. Although last month I remember saying that she was getting so big and that one day she wouldn't need me anymore. She sighs and said, "Yes I will Mom because I still can't wipe myself when I go poop". Good to know I am still useful for something. haha

Brooklyn loves her puppy!
How did I ever get so lucky to snag such a thoughtful guy!
None of the girls knew quite what to think of the Easter Bunny.

 The egg hiders.
 Aunt Kim trying to convince Ave the Easter Bunny is not evil. haha
 And they're off...

 We were lucky enough to have my Uncle Paul in town for Easter. The girls adore him, and now that he's gone they ask to go to Oklahoma to see him almost everyday. <3

 I love  how kids are so easily entertained. By just taking the cushions off the couch, in their minds you have created a space ship to travel to the moon on.

A new learned fact, fancy straws are much desired.
I hope they always love each other this much!
Avery is such a little princess. I love to watch her put on a show, she knows how to captivate an audience.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Finding our place

I remember being a little girl and sitting on the piano bench with my Mom for what felt like hours, just listening to her play this heavenly music. Most of the time she wasn't even using sheet music she would just play by ear. There was hardly anything she couldn't play and she always made it look so easy. I would look at her with this great envy. I wished so bad that I could play like her. I took piano lessons off and on for much of my child hood. She had taught them to many people so I first started taking them from her but because she was my Mom she was the lucky recipient of my frequent frustration. So I switched to another lady and she taught me for a couple years.

Even though I was getting better I still could not play like my Mom and I slowly convinced myself I never would be able to so I gave up. There was one song however that my Mom would play that I fell in love with. I decided that I would not give up until I could play it. I practiced everyday, oh how I drove my parents and brother crazy, but the day came when I sat down on that piano bench with pride and gave my clumsy version of this heavenly tune. It was a fulfilling thing to do, however playing piano was not something I was naturally gifted at and I quit practicing and as a result much of what I once knew has been lost.

Maybe you have had a similar experience. You see someones gifting or ability to do something and it leaves you with this feeling that no matter how much you try you will never measure up to them. I think it is more common then we think. Why do we do this? Why do we seem to overload our brain with everything we can't do or maybe can do but not as well as we would like. We focus so much of our attention on the things we aren't super gifted at that we forget to strengthen and embrace the things we are. If we were the best at everything we would be the most arrogant people on the face of the earth. I want to clarify that I am not at all meaning to state that you can not be good at something without being prideful about it, but I do think that it makes it more challenging. It is in those moments of feeling completely inadequate that we grow and mature the most.

Example when I was 23 I was asked to lead this class at church for women's bible study. I was absolutely terrified and felt incredibly incapable. Here I am this young girl newly married and pregnant with my first child and I am supposed to teach a class where half of the women were old enough to be my Mom. Like they were really going to take me seriously. But, after much encouragement from a woman I love and adore I decided to go ahead with the class. I went into this class with the mindset that I was not going to try to be someone I was not, but rather I was going to be honest with my life experiences and my short comings and encourage them through theirs as well. Before each class I would pray that God would give me wisdom and insight. The class in my opinion was a huge success! We all grew so much together and I know it was only because of God and it had nothing to do with me. At the end of the semester the class had such good feedback that they asked me to do it again for the next semester. By this time I was getting pretty burnt out and knew I should have probably passed it up but it felt good to know "I" was doing something right that I agreed to do it again. This time however the class was not the same. I was so caught up in self- glorification, I guess you could say, that I completely missed the point. Pride comes before a fall, and I was definitely knocked off my high horse.

I don't honestly know what the outcome for the people in that class was, but I walked away disappointed. I set this bar for myself and in my attempts to fly over it I felt more like I was crawling under it. I walked away embarrassed, humbled, and determined to never let that happen again. Instead of letting God lead me, I was trying to conform Him to what I saw as the right thing.

We all have a gift. As a Mom I look at my girls and see how they are so incredibly different. There is already this competition between the older two sometimes about who is cuter or whose picture is better, who can run faster, or can make more people laugh. I point out to them that they are made completely different and that they are both going to be good at some things and great at others. That their talents will not always be the same but that's ok. They should embrace what they are good at and encourage each other along in their talents. Why is it always so easy to say something but so much more challenging to actually follow through with doing it yourself.

As I write this I can't honestly say that I am not even certain of  what my talents are. But it seems as though we sometimes discredit our talents because they come so natural to us that we deem them unimportant. So we instead focus on what others do that we maybe aren't so good at and then view ourselves less impactful. In this journey of life there will always be high points and low points. There will be challenges we face that force us to rely on God and there will also be moments where we get caught up in our own pride and will be graciously reminded that we are useless to do anything of heavenly significance without God being involved. Let us each embrace our strengths and encourage others along in theirs. After all, in Christ we who are many form one body and each member belongs to all the others. We have different gifts according to the grace given us.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

We had so much fun in Vegas, and it was nice to be able to have some one on one time with my best friend. So many funny stories and moments that I wouldn't even know what to share. Our time was filled with so much laughter. A few of our high points:
  Definitely the Phantom of the Opera! We were able to find a super good deal and I wasn't even sure where we were sitting, turns out we were in the FRONT ROW! The show in itself was amazing and then to be that close made it even better.
  We had a lot of laughs at the wax museum as well. There was a haunted section and I didn't want to go in but there was this other fun couple there that convinced us to go. Travis was at the end and I was in front of him. I am a total scaredy cat anyway, but it was kinda funny...well freaky, but funny for the fact that these people would always chase after the last person (who was Travis) and he would push me forward saying hurry up. hahaha Then at the end of the wax museum there were more wax people, one of them being this guy sitting in a chair. So I was telling Travis man some of these look so real. I got in closer to take a look at his face and touched his arm and he turned and looked at me. OH MY GOSH!! I felt so absolutely retarded. Hahaha
  Another moment I thought was absolutely hilarious even though Travis didn't.. we were shopping in this store and there was a guy who was just staring at Travis. He was getting irritated so he tried to give him the evil eye which obviously didn't look to evil because he started flirting with Travis. LOL Travis didn't think it was to funny but man I sure did.
  One of the greatest things was just doing whatever we wanted to do whenever we wanted to do it. Lounging by the pool was wonderful. (Travis looks like a tomato) ;-) It was a great time! Anyway, here are a few pictures.

Travis being bored followed by me being retarded. We're a great combination. :p

This is the man I grew to love, he's so suave. ;-)

Travis tried sushi for the first time...not a fan. That's ok, I think I would rather shoot myself in the foot then try raw fish, or fish of any kind for that matter. He did convince me to try some but I am just not a fish girl I thought it tasted like sawdust mixed with....I don't know something nasty. To each his own.