What Makes A House A Home.

Girls in Jammies

We sold our home in Granger, In. this week.  Done deal, handed the keys over, said our goodbyes from Kansas.  Starting over in a new home is a strange experience, especially since so many “firsts” happened in Granger.  The finality of it made me think, “What makes a house a home?”

What makes a house a home?

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A thousand memories .

Laughing, first steps, first bike rides, first days of school,  secret club houses and fairies in the bushes.

Flashlight hikes, hide and seek, bubble baths and dress up games. Monsters in the closet and under the bed.  Captured toads, snakes, and butterflies.

 

Tears, trials, slammed doors, quiet moments.  Hugs of confidence, apologies, forgiveness, honor.

Open doors, summer breezes, shared meals, inside, outside, around the fire.

After dinner dance parties, esteemed guests-pretend and real.

Secret hideouts. Secret handshakes.

Thunderstorm watching on the front porch, star gazing from the backyard hammock.

Sad endings, closed doors, goodbyes, see you laters.

What makes a house a home is the love that holds the walls up when everything’s pressing in.  What makes a house a home is the people that are there at the end of the day when everyone else is gone.

What makes a house a home is family.

Granger House

Goodbye Granger house.  Thanks for the memories.

Belle Jumping

Beside The Still Waters And The War of the Worlds

 

 

Most of us know or have heard reference at some point in our lives to Psalm 23.  Bits and pieces come to us when we are feeling afraid, alone, or like we are being attacked by alien spaceships in War of the Worlds.  Ha–I am not joking that part of my subconscious sees the Priest in the old War of the Worlds movie walking toward the evil-eyed spaceship quoting the 23rd psalm. Then he gets zapped and turns to dust.   It scared me to death as a kid.  I always wondered why he was not using his brain and kept walking toward the ship instead of away.  At that point in the movie, I think the behavior of the aliens pretty consistently proved they were bad guys…so, while all of you are reading through psalm 23 with floating streams and quiet places and vivid images of gentle shepherds leading their sheep through grassy knolls, I’m thinking about the poor priest who got turned to dust.

Anyway…

I’m thinking that alien space ships were not on King David’s radar when he wrote his prayer to God, but maybe something like it.  A deeply distressing time that brought him to his knees, seeking the comfort his true Shepherd could bring.

So, however we get to Psalm 23 and whatever makes us think about it, the truth is the same.  God, our good, good God, will lead us in quiet places and walk with us in silence while the peace of the streams bring life back into our weary souls.  Nowhere in Psalm 23 does it say “Then God shouted at me because I’ve been such an idiot”, or “God threw me into the quiet stream and held my head under until I gurggled” I give up!”

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What this Psalm DOES say, all our own vivid imagery and associations with this familiar passage aside, is:

The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing.
     He makes me lie down in green pastures,
he leads me beside quiet waters,
     he refreshes my soul.
He guides me along the right paths
    for his name’s sake.
 Even though I walk
    through the darkest valley,
I will fear no evil,
    for you are with me;
your rod and your staff,
    they comfort me.

You prepare a table before me
    in the presence of my enemies.
You anoint my head with oil;
    my cup overflows.
 Surely your goodness and love will follow me
    all the days of my life,
and I will dwell in the house of the Lord
    forever.

Take a deep breath, breath in the Hope of a loving God who will walk quietly with you wherever you are on your path.  Know He’s with you.  Breathe and Hope.

Hope

*Grace and Peace*

All Things New

Sunflower

A few weeks ago while the girls were at school, I jumped in the jeep, drove down long country roads until I found a piece of Heaven on Earth–The most amazing sunflower field I’ve ever seen–well, the only sunflower field I’ve ever seen, but that’s beside the point.  I  knew there was no way I could capture the vastness of the yellows and greens meeting the clouds with their tips standing tall all the way to the horizon.  Being a photographer, that was a little disappointing.  I wanted to share it all with everybody.  Some things just are not reproducible.  I had to let it go.  I just stood for a long, long time and stared, allowing all of my senses to take in the glory of it all.  Breathing it in, I realized I was breathing in joy, and new life.

Everything around me in Kansas is new.  The sunflower fields, the white, fluffy clouds, the stunning sunsets and sunrises that surprise me almost every day…the giant spiders, frogs in my garden, the Royals, Chiefs, and lots and lots of old barns and pioneer settlements.

I.  Love.  Kansas.  Really, I do.  Breathing new air has been good for my soul.  I find myself coming alive a bit more every day.  I’m grateful for new friends, a new church and the schools our girls attend.

Do I miss Indiana? Every single day.  I miss my friends who are like family.  I miss the familiarity of everything and not having to figure out new stuff every day.  I miss apple orchards and blueberry picking.  I miss Lake Michigan, the rolling dunes, and the lighthouses most of all.

The bright memories of our old home mixed with the awakening of my soul in a new place are good indeed.

Sunflower Field

Standing in the sunflower fields made me fall in love with my Creator God all over again.  When I see what an amazing artist He is, I am humbled and I feel loved, knowing that He made things like sunflower fields for me to breathe new air and make my soul come alive.

Yellow Jeep. Yellow Sunflowers

 

Three Sunflowers

I am so grateful for new life.  Grateful for the hope that change can bring.

Look around you…even if it’s not a ginormous sunflower field…look at the clouds.  Marvel at the sky.  Catch a frog and look her eye to eye, and then kindly let her go back to whatever girl frogs do in gardens.

Feel the Creator’s love for you in the endless beauty that is Nature, that is the air you breathe everyday.

*Grace and Peace*

Introducing…

Us!  The Wegner’s.

Wegner JeepWe moved from Indiana to Kansas on May 2.  Every single day since then, I have had a lesson in the form of humility from one source or another.  Every place I go, I have to rely on Siri or my instincts to figure out where I am and where I am going, and how to get there.  The days I rely on my instincts, I get lost.

Other than daily getting lost or finding myself driving down the wrong way on a one way street, I’ve really enjoyed getting to know Kansas.  Our new church family, Westside Family Church, has welcomed us with grace and peace and so, so much kindness.

Every day is a new introduction.  A new something somewhere.  I am a deeply settled person.  I enjoy roots, predictability, and the peace that comes from knowing what happens next.  Learning the in’s and outs and shortcuts will take time, I’m sure.  

As I am being humbled by learning all things new, I thought I’d take a minute to blog about what I DO know. These are the people I know best in the world–their in’s and out’s, their shortcuts, what makes them who they are.  I’d like to introduce my family.  Understand these are bird’s-eye-view introductions. Each one of us is incredibly complex.  Our girls are very spirited–The dynamics of raising three girls in one family are intense, insanely fun, and keep Rob and I on an incredibly high learning curve .

Rob and got married 21 years ago when he was 21 and I was 19.  We were close friends from the time I was 12 and he was 14.  I still remember clear as day the first time I saw him.  He radiated joy and warmth and he was the funniest person I knew (besides myself, of course)

Rob at Jenny LakeRob is a phenomenally gifted communicator and teacher of Jesus and His ways.  He is a wonderful husband and amazing father to our three girls.  He is patient and kind with them, leading them by his example and courage to follow Jesus wherever He leads.  Rob is a guitarist and musician. Music oozes out of him wherever he goes.  It’s in his soul and spirit.  He’s a dreamer of really big dreams, and a huge believer in helping others implement their own.  I’m proud to be his wife.

Maddie-CameraMadeline (Nick names:Maddie, Madalina, Madeliney, Mads, Matt, Mattie Mick…etc)

Maddie is 15. She is an old soul in a young body. She’s an introvert, a Noticer, and deeply compassionate.  Maddie is wise beyond her years and can spot a faker in a second (someone who says they are one thing but really are not who they say they are).  She’s deeply intuitive and an amazing photographer.  She’s hilarious and fun, practical and precise.  She is a wonderful role model to her younger sisters.  I am so proud to be her mom.

Whitney-Headband

Whitney (Nick names Whit, Whitster, Whitaker, Wick)

Whitney is 14.  She is the tallest of our girls, and is made of solid muscle.  She’s a strawberry blonde beauty.  She’s intense, incredibly fun, an extremely strong leader, bold, loud, confident, and courageous.  Whit is the kind of kid who is a friend to literally everyone she knows and an underdog for the outcast kind of kids.  She has a gift for making those around her feel loved, included and important.  Whitney makes me laugh every day.  I’m so proud to be her Mamma.

BelleIsabelle  Joy(Belle, Isabob, Corndog, LIttle Mac, Is., Peanut)

Belle is 10.  She exudes joy and life like no one I’ve ever known.  From the minute she wakes up until her head hits the pillow at night, she oozes life and radiates joy.  She is so much fun, non-stop.  She is a Rainbow Loom genius, making bracelets and crafts several hours a day.  She is deeply sensitive, is easily hurt, but comes alongside those who hurt because she knows how it feels.  Belle is a best friend and buddy to whomever she is with.  She is the definition of joy.  Her smile and laugh light up a room like magic.  I’m so proud to be Belle’s Mamma.

Michelle-HeadbandMe – I’m 41.  I’ve written for several magazine publications over the past 10 or so years about family life and spiritual matters.  I am a mega introvert.  I need lots and lots of time alone, and people often misunderstand this part of me as snobbishness or aloofness.  I promise I am neither of those.  I love people.  I love Jesus.

I love my family with all of my heart.  I love anything artsy or creative or fun.  Driving my Jeep with the top down, taking photos along the way with the sun on my face (or even in the pouring rain) fills me up.  I’m often in nature alone, photographing stuff that point me to my Creator.  I see Him through my camera lens, and hear His voice in the wind.

That’s enough introducing for now. Your eyeballs are probably tired from this very, very long post.  Go take a nap and give your eyes a break.  It’s been so lovely getting to know you all.  Thanks for being gracious and kind as we humbly get to know you back.

~Grace and Peace.

Over The Rainbow

So, suddenly here we are, over the rainbow…in Kansas! Who would have ever thought that we would end up in Kansas? I wouldn’t have! For all the people that live here in Kansas, I am ashamed to say the only perception I had of Kansas was a black and white one from my childhood-Dorothy’s Kansas with farms and cyclones and crazy wizards living in trailers in the middle of nowhere.

I have been overwhelmed by the beauty of this place, the blue’s are more blue, the green’s are more green. We live a few miles from several parks that are breathtaking in their beauty.  There are bluebirds everywhere, coyotes, and SNAKES!  We’ve had so many adventures in the month that we’ve lived here.  It’s been wild and wonderful.

Before Rob and I came to Westside to interview for his position, a friend texted me and said, “What do you think about moving to Kansas?” I replied sarcastically “I am NOT moving to Kansas”.

Famous last words.  Ha.

The girls enjoyed getting to know their new schools for the last few weeks of the school year. It was a bit hectic exiting their old schools and entering the new, all at the end of the school year and during a cross country move, but on the other side of it all, we are glad we made the decision.  They were each able to make some friends, as well as learn their way around their new schools and our neighborhood.

We love our new house.  Belle’s school is just outside of our back gate, which means she can get to school in under a minute in the mornings, but it also means we have a gigantic playground in our back yard, and a beautiful path to walk in the evenings.  We are beyond grateful.

We have also been getting to know our new church, Westside Family Church.  It is one amazing place, with a wonderful staff and tons of extremely friendly people.  Learning everyone’s names has been a challenge, especially in my now old age of 41, but people have been very gracious and patient.  :)

We are still waiting for our house in Granger to sell, so if you know anyone who is interested in a fabulous house in Granger in an amazing school district, let us know!  Also, if you are a person who prays, ask God to send the right family to love that house and neighborhood as much as we did.

We are grateful for all the love and support of our friends and family in this time of transition.  It’s been an amazing ride to the other side of the rainbow, but we are happy, settling in, and finding our footing here as we march forward together as a family on this new adventure.

Shawnee Mission Tower

 

Here’s The Scoop…

Michelle Wegner

 So, last time I blogged was in January when I was still languishing on my bed post surgery. My foot hurt–A lot–It still does, but the good news is that I can walk again. I’m not quite where I want to be (hiking the Appalachian Trail), but I can get around the house and go for short walks, giving me a whole new appreciation for walking.  I’ve always loved to walk, and it’s been a very long winter stuck inside, but it’s given me a lot of time to think, focus, pray, doodle, practice being nice when I don’t want to be, etc.

I’ve gotten outside by myself a few times and taken in the beauty around me that isn’t the four walls of my bedroom. I have to say, everything is shiny and new to me.  Breathing fresh air, seeing the blue sky, letting the cold air fill my lungs and the sun shine on my face has literally breathed new life into me.

IMG_0678 IMG_1446This time of focus and change brings us from the end of one season to the beginning of the next.  I feel awakened, renewed, and ready to start our new season of life together as a family in Shawnee, Kansas.  We have a home there, and we will be packing up our home here in Granger, Indiana on the weekend of May 2.  We close on our new home on May 5 (and no, we have not sold our current home, so really…please pray the right family buys this beautiful, well-loved home soon).

Rob will be working at Westside Family Church in Lenexa, Kansas as one of the teaching pastors, and will have some other responsibilities as well.  I am not sure of his official title, you’ll have to ask him that, but we are excited about serving with this seriously amazing church.  Rob starts working there June 1st, so we will have a little transition time after we move and before he officially gets to work.

We will miss our Granger friends and family more than we could ever say.  We know this is right, the timing and God’s direction are clear, and we are ready to jump in head first to this new adventure.

So…there you have it. That’s the scoop.

(And if you know anyone who wants to buy a fabulous home in Granger, let me know! We are having all shiny new appliances put in today for some lucky new home buyer looking for a very easy-to-move-into home)  :)

THRIVE.

THRIVE

“Look at your glass as half full, not half empty. When life gives you lemons, make lemonade, When one door closes, another will open…”

You’ve heard these lame excuses for encouragement. We all have said them, hoped to believe them. Hoped they might help someone look on the brighter side of things. We were trying to help because we didn’t know what else to say or what hope there really was to offer a really dismal and bleak situation.

But deep down, we all know that sometimes the dumb glass is just half empty. We hate lemonade, have no time to make it anyway, and the door was just slammed in our face.  Sometimes life is just painful and hard and we just want everyone and their trite sayings to go away and let us sulk the day away.

In times like these, I am encouraged by those who encourage me to move beyond what is trite, and on to what is holy. I’m encouraged by those who encourage me to THRIVE despite my circumstances.   In the matter of a few months time, our whole lives have been shaken and stirred. Just to name a few of the more obvious tough circumstances:

Rob resigned his job with Granger Community Church, after serving with them for 21 years.

Two days later, I fell down one step, yes.  ONE step.  I tore my calf muscle, sprained my knee and ankle, and tore my ankle tendon 90%.  I had surgery, a cast, have been almost completely immobile for 4 months.

A few weeks after I fell, Rob’s dad passed away. His death devastated our family.  Our girls have never known real grief.  Walking them through this new grief was one of the most difficult things we’ve ever done as parents.

In the middle of all these life-changes, I have discovered a few things to be true:

  • We are family. And that is enough.  Who we are when no one is looking has turned out to be my favorite “us” there is.  I’m a housebound wife.  A  shut-in, a person who can’t walk in the park to rejuvenate my soul.  My husband, a temporarily unemployed pastor.   We are just us. Just Rob and Michelle and Madeline and Whitney and Isabelle.  They are not pastorskids and I am not a pastorswife.
  •  Who we are when no one else is around is what counts. We are discovering our inner uniqueness, apart from the blaring lights and noise, the applause of men and women–Good, kind, true men and women. There’s nothing wrong with being a pastor or a pastor’s wife or a pastors kid, but these things do not bring us value or worth or importance.  Who we are is who we are being made to be, day by day.
  • I can make my life better just by sitting here.    I started practicing Zentangle doodles and have found myself and my soul a new creative outlet.  I spent several of the hours laying in my bed recovering from my surgery praying for every tween and teen girl that had been to our house to visit our girls that signed my cast. Their names blared up at me in bold neon letters, praying for them by name was a gift.
  • I’ve realized more than ever that every minute I have with my family counts.  Losing a family member so dear has caused us all to hold each other  closer–Every day.  Every minute is special. In the chaos of our day to day, I have found myself hugging my husband more, speaking words of light and light into each of my girls, making our time together matter by taking the time to notice them, really, really notice.

Many times during these past few months, I have asked Jesus to end this  what feels like to be never-ending series of trials.  I’ve asked Him To make everything better, to take away the pain, both the physical aspect and the heartache.

However, I am starting to see the deeper lessons of deeper living, of what it means to THRIVE through trials and hard times.…I think it’s been worth it for all of us–Actually, I know it has been.

We are as a family learning to linger over love longer, to talk deeper, to live fuller…

They way God has orchestrated our circumstances is certainly not how I would have, but He has taught me to THRIVE despite anything that comes my way:

That in anything,

  • He has the power to give me strength.
  • That HE is all about me living life abundantly. He said that’s what He came for.
  • Jesus is teaching me how to live– In anything, for anything, through anything.

Wherever you are, whatever your mess is, your sadness, your grief, or just your ordinary day to day living. Thrive from where you are. Ask God.  Ask yourself.  “How can I live better? How can my life be richer? How can I feel stronger?”

I can promise you He will show you. He promised us in the Bible, John 10:10 to be exact: “I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly. “

Trust Him.  Ask Him.  Wait and see and THRIVE.

“This post was inspired by Casting Crowns new album “Thrive” available

January 28th.

Learn more about what it means to Thrive at 

https://www.facebook.com/castingcrowns

 

Balloons

 

Nine Hundred Moments

Our 2013

In case you didn’t know, I really like to take pictures.  One thing I like to do every year is sort through my own photos on my camera roll and pick out the top 100,  30, then the top 10, then my top 3, just for fun.  Since I am immobile until I get my cast off next week, it’s a good time to do my “Year in Review” stuff. Right now I have 900 or so from the past year to sort through. One of the secret reasons I take so many photos is because it causes me to reflect deeply on all the beautiful moments we shared as a family.  As I’ve sorted through them in the past few days, I was struck by a few things I thought I’d share.

  • I’m proud of my family for sticking together and pulling closer to one another than we’ve ever been. I’m proud of my girls for loving each other well, sticking up for each other, cheering for each other and making our lives better by becoming the beautiful young ladies they are inside and out.
  • I’m proud of my husband for pulling through the most difficult year he’s ever had-for loving me when I’m unloveable, for supporting his mom through the death of her husband, for driving the girls to a hundred practices, and being the dad who is all up in their face at every lacrosse game taking their pictures, watching them shine, making them glow with the joy of being deeply loved.
  • I’m humbled by the grace I’ve come to know through brokenness.  My physical body and my heart have been broken this year, but I’ve come to see God and His ways a little more clearly. I’m humbled by the love of many people poured out to our family through meals, gifts, calls, cards, and a thousand acts of kindness.
  • My extreme independent self is humbled to have to send my husband twenty texts a day, asking for things I cannot get for myself because of not being able to walk for the past two months.

Looking back I see with blazing clarity that Grace and Love and Light and Joy are mine. I’m grateful for the ways God is showing me sides of Himself I would never see if it weren’t for the circumstances of this year-the high’s, the low’s and the in-betweens.

God is Good. He is love. He is light. These things are true. These things I know.  And I’m grateful. Though everything around me is changing, He never changes. And that, my friends, is good news.

I’d love to hear what you’re reflecting on as this year draws to a close. I have nothing but time as I will be immobile for at least another week or so. Drop me a message. Send me an email. Write me on Facebook. I sincerely would love to hear from you. If not, have a very Merry Christmas!

With You Always

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I had surgery on my ankle this week to fix the tendon that was 90% torn and 10% hanging on for dear life. Needless to say, it’s been a painful few months in many ways. Rob’s dad passed away two weeks ago…a devastating loss to our family. We will miss Papa so much. Seeing his chair empty at Thanksgiving was so difficult for all of us.

The physical pain I’ve been dealing with as well as the heartache pain of losing one so dear to all of us has been very hard. We’ve also been dealing with the pain of leaving GCC, a church family we have been a part of for twenty-one years.

I’m completely confined to bed for five days, which leaves a lot of time for thinking.

What do all these losses have in common? What are they trying to teach me? I’m not really sure about how they are all connected, but each loss is significant in it’s own respect, varying levels of pain come with each loss.  I know I’ll get my foot back eventually.  I know Rob will get a new job, that we will find a new church family to be a part of, that our time at GCC for the past few decades has given us the gift of lifelong friends that we will always cherish no matter where we may end up.

We will see Papa again, in Heaven someday. He will be healthy and strong and his eyes will shine with light and life. I am looking forward to seeing him again, we all are.  We have hope.

On this side of eternity, there is no guarantee of a pain free life. We all deal with pain and loss and death because all things are being redeemed, and will not be set right until Jesus makes all things new in His time.  I’m learning to trust that His ways and His timing are perfect. He never promised that on this side of eternity all things would be perfect.  He did promise He would be with us through it all.

In His last words to His diciples before He went back up to Heaven, Jesus promised, ” I am with you always, even to the end of the age.(Matthew 28:20)

He promised He’d be here.  God with us. Through death, loss and pain. Through the good times and the bad. He’s given us His presence, to comfort us, to guide us, to never leave us. Sometimes it feels like God is hard to find, in the middle of dealing with so many losses, it’s hard to see God through pain. But He’s there. I know He is. His presence is with me, sometimes I just have to be still to remember.

  My friend Nancy sent me this quote this morning, and it fit so well with what I was thinking about, I’ll share it here as a final thought for you to dwell on today:

“There is a really deep well inside me. And in it dwells God. Sometimes I am there too. But more often stones and grit block the well,and God is buried beneath. Then God must be dug up again. I imagine that there are people who pray with their eyes turned heavenward. They seek God outside themselves. And there are those who bow their heads and bury it in their hands. I think that these seek God inside.”

~Etty Hillesum

Living On Purpose, Writing On Purpose