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Month: June 2016

Lord, Make Us Pink Sparkly Chickens

Lord, Make Us Pink Sparkly Chickens

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Last spring as I looked for things to fill my kids Easter baskets I found some plastic chickens in the dollar section. They were fun to squish around in your hands and when you hit a certain spot they would light up. I bought  pink, green and blue chickens … one for each of my children. Easter came and went and one day I realized those chickens were still in my desk drawer. I had forgotten to include them in the baskets.

I decided to save the chickens for another time and almost every time I sat at my computer I would find myself playing with one of the chickens. I realized that the green chicken was broken because, as I rolled it around in my hand, it never lit up. The blue chicken would light up if you tried really hard … but the pink one? The pink one always lit up.  It never failed. In fact it seemed to kind of sparkle … like it was showing off for the other chickens.

One evening I was up late writing a lesson for a mother/son retreat where I was going to be speaking. My son, Jacob,  came in and asked what I was going to be speaking on. He was going on the retreat with me and so I began to tell him what I hoped the boys would learn.

I wanted the boys to know that when you have accepted Christ as your Savior and the Holy Spirit lives in you, your life becomes different. You can shine. In fact, when you spend time with the Lord, you can sparkle. Moses did.  Exodus 34 tells the story of Moses going up Mount Sinai to receive the Ten Commandments. It says:

When Moses came down from Mount Sinai with the two tablets of the covenant law in his hands, he was not aware that his face was RADIANT because he had spoken with the Lord”.

Later in that chapter it tells us that each time Moses came back from speaking with the Lord he had to put a veil over his face because it was so radiant. Moses was shiny.

I told Jacob (while absentmindedly playing with the chicken in my hands) that I needed to come up with a demonstration for the boys of something that glowed. Jacob said … “you mean like that chicken?”.

YES, like the chicken! How funny that I was struggling to come up with something to show them and it was right there in my hands.

The boys at the retreat LOVED the chickens. I showed them the green one that just sat there … doing nothing. It was fine. Cute. But it didn’t light up.

I showed them the blue one that, if pressed really hard, lit up.

And I showed them the pink one whose glow you could see throughout the room.

I told them we needed to be the pink sparkly chicken, shining the light of God in us into the dark world. God sent his Son Jesus into the world for us. When we trust/believe in Him, He sends the Holy Spirit to live in us. We no longer are just a regular chicken (so to speak) … we are a chicken that can glow, that shines, that sparkles. Hopefully we don’t have to be hit too hard (like the blue chicken) to light up. The joy and knowledge of Christ working in our lives should spill over as light into the world.

And remember, Moses became radiant when he “spent time with the Lord”.  It’s almost like those solar powered lamps that need sunlight in order to work properly.  We need “Son”light to sparkle.

Recently I had the privilege of hearing Christine Caine speak in Houston. She told the story of buying a flashlight for her daughter. As they were checking out her daughter, eager to try out her new flashlight, said “Mom, can we go find the dark?”. That is exactly how we should live … as lights who shine for Christ.  We must take THE light into a dark world.

Matt Chandler put it this way in a recent sermon … he said:

Really the call of God on your life and my life is not that we would bring people to hear professional ministers but rather that we would be the salt and LIGHT in the world where we live.” 

Maybe you have seen the movie, “Mr. Magorium’s Wonder Emporium”. In the movie, Mr. Magorium owns an amazing toy store. He was growing old and had decided to give the store to his worker, a young lady named Mahoney. Mahoney didn’t feel like she was worthy or able to run the toy store. At one point in the movie she asked … “When you look at me, what do you see? Do you see a sparkle … like something reflective of something bigger that’s trying to get out?”.

That is the same question we can ask ourselves. Are we sparkling? Glowing? Lighting up the world with the radiance of Christ? Is the Jesus that lives inside of us shining through us?

In the movie Mahoney doesn’t feel like she has a sparkle. Sometimes we act like that too. Maybe we think everybody else is sparkly for the Lord, but not us. We feel inadequate.  We don’t see the sparkle or reflection of His greatness in us. Mahoney felt this way and almost gave the store away! But here is the great news … we are made in the image of God. We are meant to reflect everything about Christ including His glory.

Not too long ago I showed my adult Sunday School class my chickens. We talked about how some of us are the blue chickens that you really have to hit for them to light up. Some are the green ones who are fine just staying green. The encouragement from the lesson was to be more like the sparkly pink chicken, lighting up a dark world. When we finished I asked another teacher to close us in prayer. As he prayed he said what might be my new favorite prayer ever … one that can be prayed every single day …

He said, “Lord, make us pink sparkly chickens”.

And all the people said “Amen”.

 

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Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord rises upon you.  Isaiah 60:1

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Welcome to the Carnival!

Welcome to the Carnival!

It’s hard to believe it’s been almost two years since we dropped our oldest daughter Caroline off for her freshman year in college. Preparing for her departure was a mixture of excitement and emotions. Early in that week Savannah (who was headed to eighth grade) asked if she could have a “back to school” swim party that Friday night at our house for her friends. I told her that I absolutely could not think about a party that week. I explained that my sole focus needed to be making sure Caroline had everything she needed as we launched her into the world. Savannah persisted and I finally relented, deciding that it would be good to have something fun to focus on after a hard week. But there was ONE CONDITION. She was not to speak to me about the party until we were on the way home from the college drop off.

She agreed. She took care of the invites and made a menu (burgers on the grill). She even cleaned her room.

Thursday arrived and we packed more stuff than you can imagine (including all six of us) into the Suburban. As we drove towards Austin I checked my email only to discover I had a charge for $12 from evite. Evite invitations are free so I assumed there was a mistake. When I asked Savannah if she knew why I had been charged she told me that “only the first thirty are free”.

“Wait … what?”

THIRTY.

After the first thirty invitations they charged $1/piece.

It was then I realized that Savannah had invited FORTY TWO people to our house the following evening for dinner. I had a momentary meltdown (freak out, whatever you want to call it) while I tried to think about how to feed/prepare for that many people. Then I remembered something similar I had done some forty years before.

Back then my best neighborhood friend, Kim, and I played together for hours on end. Summers were the best.  The days stretched out in front of us like canvases waiting to be painted.  I can still vividly remember lining our dolls up and playing “mean” school … because we thought anyone could be a nice teacher so we decided to be mean ones. We took our Barbie houses and made them into mansions by adding “rooms” made out of shoeboxes. Once we walked to the store and spoke only in pretend accents and wondered if other people thought we were actually from another country (it was hilarious!).  Kim patiently tried for years to teach me how to do a cartwheel and never once made me feel clumsy or made fun of me for never quite getting one of the most basic gymnastic moves of all.   For several years we bought Tootsie Pops and covered them with a Kleenex, turning them into ghosts that we later took to the Arkansas Children’s Hospital so they could hand them out to patients at Halloween. During this particular summer we decided to have a carnival to raise money for the hospital. We planned a magic show, came up with a game or two and then went around the neighborhood selling tickets to all our adult neighbors.

The only thing we didn’t do was tell my mom. This was a huge oversight and I can assure you it wasn’t intentional. I think we just got so excited about our plan that we forgot that one minor (MAJOR) detail. She found out about the carnival as she was standing at our kitchen sink looking out the window. She began to notice neighbors strolling into our backyard. When she came outside to see what was going on one of them told her they had bought a ticket for our carnival.

My mom said that in that moment she had a decision to make … get mad or go with it.

She went back in the house, opened our fridge and found that all she had to “serve” was a honeydew melon. (Apparently another thing Kim and I failed to think of was snacks when were planning our event).  My mom sliced up that honeydew melon,  stuck toothpicks in each bite and walked back outside.  With a smile on her face she said:

“Welcome to the carnival”.

And I think she meant it.  “Welcome”. “Come on in”. “So glad you came”.

I didn’t realize it at the time but in that very moment when my mom decided to “go with it” she turned it into a “get to (read more about that here).  What a gift that was to me (and all our ticket holding neighbors!).

I’m sure she probably told me to ask her next time and explained to me why I needed (in no uncertain terms) to run things by her before selling tickets to our backyard … but that’s not what I remember about that day.  I remember that my mom decided to “go with it”.  She got to … and I’m so glad she did. What a lesson for me to learn!

So about that party Savannah planned?  It was tons of fun.  We got to make burger after burger and the girls even brought desserts to share. I hope every one of them felt welcomed and enjoyed being here.

And yesterday she told me that more kids are headed over Friday after they finish working in VBS.

There is only one thing to say … “welcome to the carnival”.

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Summertime and the
livin’ is easy …

Summertime and the
livin’ is easy …

I love summer. Like REALLY love it. I’m a stay up late and sleep in kind of person so the school year messes up my sleep cycle. School ended for Jacob last Thursday at 12:30 and by 4:30 he was playing his first summer league basketball game. We’ve been reading and walking (gotta get those steps in) and, believe it or not, I’ve been cooking.

I know, SHOCKER.

The most shocking thing is that so far it’s been good and you know that is not something I say very often at all! I spent a little time on Pinterest, made a grocery list and so far we’ve had yummy paninis, shrimp tacos, a chicken and strawberry spinach salad, salmon, steak and tonight we are having Pioneer Woman’s meatball sliders.

Pretty much I’m killin’ it in the cooking department.  (Surely these are end times!)  We all know this is normally how it goes for me:

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Wanted to share one quick recipe with you … it’s one that 6 out of 6 Baergs agree is a keeper and that doesn’t really happen very often. In fact, I made it when Caroline was home and I overheard one of the kids say to her … “don’t worry, this is actually really good”.

It’s called Spark pasta. We named it this after the 8th grade boys we hosted for Spark Weekend gobbled it up. The recipe actually came from my “For the Love” book launch team friend, Cheryl Moses. When I spoke at her church during Christmas they served this and it was SO good. So glad she passed along the recipe to me.

Also, you should know … Cheryl was making this for a crowd.  The amount below will make two 9 x 13 pans.  It is easy to half which is what I did for our family.

Spark Pasta

2 boxes penne pasta

1 bag cooked/sliced chicken breasts (Sam’s or Costco is where I found mine)

1 jar Barilla pesto

3 jars Presto Homestyle alfredo sauce

2 cups Paremesan cheese, shredded

Milk if needed

 

Cook pasta.  Dice chicken and then coat with pesto in a large bowl.  Once pasta is cooked add into bowl with chicken and add Alfredo sauce and parmesan cheese.  Mix well.  You can add milk to thin out the sauce.  It will thicken while baking.  Cover with foil and bake at 375 º for 40-50 minutes.

Note:  The amount of pesto/sauce you use will depend on the size jars you buy.  I bought the pesto at Costco and didn’t even use half the jar when I halved the recipe.  If chicken is coated well that is plenty.  I used 2 jars (I think) of the alfredo sauce.

 

Try it, you’ll like it!  And happy summer!

 

 

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Laughing in the Rain

Laughing in the Rain

Brittany has a Fitbit and is SO into “getting her steps”. Every time I ask if she wants to go with me to walk the dog she immediately volunteers so she can get her steps in. Yesterday I even asked if she wanted to go to the grocery store and got the same response. Want to know something crazy? We walked 1.6 miles in the grocery store! I had no idea grocery shopping was such good exercise! It probably wouldn’t have been quite as good of a workout if I had made my list by area in the store. When we were in the milk section I noticed I had forgotten something in the produce section.  It was a hike and a half back to retrieve that item. I was impressed I actually had a list so the added “extra” steps were just a bonus.

Sunday afternoon I was heading out to walk the dog when again Brittany said … “wait, I want to go and get in my steps”.  I knew we needed to hurry to get in those steps because there was a big black cloud in the sky.  (If you are reading this and aren’t in Houston you should know there have been rain clouds for days on end.)  We got to a back road in our neighborhood when all of a sudden the sky opened up and rain began to pour down on us.  It was like a mini monsoon. Brittany, ever the athlete, kept walking from tree canopy to canopy and back just so she could continue “getting steps”.  I just stood under one tree and wondered how many mosquitos were going to bite me and hoped against hope that another tick didn’t jump on me (can I get an amen?!?).

While I was standing there I said “Brittany, I knew this walk was a bad idea”.

She immediately said … “It wasn’t a bad idea mom, this is funny”.

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And, of course, she was right!  How could I have forgotten that quickly how fun it is to laugh in the rain?  It didn’t matter that our hair got wet or our clothes got drenched.  We were standing in the rain laughing.  What a gift, what fun!  When I shared this on Facebook a friend told me a similar thing had happened to she and her daughter on the first day of summer.  (I told you it’s been raining almost every day!)  She said as they ran home her daughter said “this is the best first adventure of summer ever!”.

Our story became even funnier to us after we called Bill and asked him to come and pick us up.  He was out doing “drive time” with Savannah which meant Savannah was driving.  They came and got us and as he got out of the car to come to the driver’s seat, Brittany slipped into the seat before he could so he, Gretel and I jumped in the back seat.  It looked like a Chinese fire drill was happening.  And trust me, you haven’t lived or laughed until you get in the back seat of a car with a stinky dog with your child driving the car.

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As soon as we tracked in all the mud we could into the car and started towards home, the rain stopped.  Not a drop anywhere so we hopped out and continued to walk on our merry way.

So here’s to all the adventures of summer.  Here’s to enjoying the moment.

And don’t forget to laugh in the rain.

 

 

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I have a Chewbacca T-shirt

I have a Chewbacca T-shirt

Everyone on the globe has by now seen Candace Payne’s hilarious Chewbacca video.  I mean it’s like beyond viral.  And I’m so happy for her because my goodness she was just sharing her good time with the whole world.  And what is not to love about seeing a mom laugh hysterically who is wearing a Chewbacca mask while sitting in her car ALONE.

So many people have sent me the video and said she and I should go on the road and WOULDN’T THAT BE FUN?!  My children keep telling me “she is YOU Mom” which I take as a compliment and I hope they mean it that way.  🙂

One night this year we were sitting around the dinner table and the kids started joking about what they would say at Bill’s or my funeral.  I realize that sounds like a really downer topic but it was actually very funny.  For Bill the kids had all these wonderfully wise things that he says a lot such as “Good is the enemy of great”, “Practice like you play”, etc.  Good solid stuff.

Of course I wanted to know what they would say about me. Jacob immediately said what they would most remember me saying was: “Have you seen my keys? Anyone seen my phone?”.  Mercy.  I laughed my head off.  Then Brittany said “mom, the thing you say the most is that we need to have a good belly laugh every day”.  Perfect.  I hope and pray they remember a home filled with laughter.  Plus all the other wise things Bill taught them.

And make no mistake, belly laughs are VERY important.

Not too long ago I belly laughed over this …

Back in February Bill and I hosted 8th grade boys for our Disciple Now weekend.  It was SO FUN.  We had a GREAT college leader that filled the boys with Scripture and wisdom from the book of James and I got to feed their tummies.  On Saturday afternoon we went to do our service project which was cleaning/painting/landscaping, etc. at an apartment complex where many refugees who go to our church live.  8th grade boys were assigned to paint the curbs red.  You know, the curbs so the fire trucks know where to stop.

 

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For reasons that will never be clear to me, instead of my mind hearing the word “curbs”, I heard the word “bumps”.  As in “speed bumps”.  I checked with the apartment manager and asked how to direct the cars around the speed bumps while we painted them RED,  What should have been my first clue that I was horribly mistaken was when she said “I didn’t know we were painting speed bumps”.  I assured her that was our assignment, yes ma’am.  She said she would have someone come over with some  orange caution cones but that we would just have to direct people around the painters.

We got busy and we painted the first set of speed bumps as red as red can be.  Cars were literally driving over them taking their chances that paint would splash up on their car and not minding that paint was going to get on their tires.  As soon as they drove over the speed bumps we’d touch up the marks they had just left.  We were HARD WORKERS painting those RED speed bumps …. yes we were.

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One of the older youths was assigned to take pictures and film a video of all the work being done.  When he came to film us he said “Mrs. Baerg, I don’t think red speed bumps are a thing”.

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STILL OBLIVIOUS to how crazy I was I assured him that we were assigned to paint the speed bumps red. He didn’t back down however and said “Mrs. Baerg, I think those are illegal”.  I said I was sure they were not. Relentless he said, “Are you sure you weren’t supposed to paint the curbs red?  Like for the fire trucks?”. And while he said this he pointed to a RED curb with peeling paint.  It was at THAT VERY MOMENT I realized my mistake.  CURBS, NOT SPEED BUMPS. ‘DOH. I couldn’t even believe it.  I laughed ten times harder than Chewbacca mom and all those 8th grade boys laughed along with me.

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I tracked down the apartment security officer because I needed to know if it was illegal.  I was all set to run to Lowe’s and buy yellow paint since apparently that is the color of choice for speed bumps everywhere. He assured me that I wasn’t going to be ticketed and wasn’t breaking the law because the speed bumps were on private property.  That was a relief!

The next walk of shame I had to make was to the apartment manager’s office to tell her of my unfortunate mix up.  She came and saw red speed bumps and said she actually liked them because they “matched the color of the buildings”.  Since it was the first set of speed bumps at the gate she and I discussed how it was a “focal point”. Surely it made a statement.  I figured if those apartment’s were on “Fixer Upper” Jojo herself would probably want the speed bumps painted red.

And just in case you were wondering where Bill was when this incident occurred, you were right to be concerned. This never would have happened if Bill had been involved.  For starters when he hears the word curb, his mind doesn’t immediately translate it to speed bumps  … and that’s a good thing.  No, Bill had another commitment during the afternoon.  When he arrived and saw what I had done, he did what he always does. He laughed and said “How do these things always happen to you?”

And I gave the only answer I know to give … “I don’t know, I just don’t know.  But isn’t it so funny?”

And then I had a good belly laugh.  I bet Chewbacca mom would have too.

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