Monday, February 22, 2010

Plain ol' Mom

I was tucking Darla in before naps. When she hugged and kissed me she said "Oh, Mom! Wow- you smell
soooo good!" I stepped back to leave and she asked, "Please, one more hug so I can smell you?"
I complied.
She closed her eyes, took a deep breath in, and then collapsed onto her bed with a big smiley sigh.
I asked, "What? What do I smell like that smells so good?"
"Aaahhh. Just like plain ol' Mom."

future teenagers

You know you work with teenagers when you come into the room to find your pre-schoolers with their hats cocked saying, "Students look like this." "No, students have their hats like this." "Some students have their hats backward but girl students wear their hats the front way." So here you have it- Darla & Hudson posing like the middle school & high school students they spend so much time with.

Saturday, February 20, 2010


"The angel of the Lord encamps all around those who fear Him, and delivers them...Oh, fear the Lord, you His saints! There is no want to those who fear Him... The Lord is near to those who have a broken heart, and saves such as have a contrite spirit...many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the Lord delivers him out of them all. He guards all his bones; not one of them is broken." Psalm 34:7, 9, 18, 19-20

When S. first battled anxiety a few years ago, I parked on this chapter for over a month. I was pregnant, had 2 toddlers at my feet, and a struggling husband who was either insanely busy or completely crashed. I was exhausted and wasn't sure which way was up. I sat every morning with a cup of coffee while everyone slept, reading the same chapter over and over. Reading it now instantly transports me to the kitchen table while it's still dark, journal open, pierced by a different section each time.

I remember so many of my prayers, and many I recorded in journals. I wished they would be answered quickly. Sometimes my fervency would convince me that certainly today I would see the results of my prayers! I would excitedly wait for S. to come to breakfast, imagining he must have had the same revelations. Surely he felt the power that I felt! He would come and one look at his face showed me that I would have to get back on my knees.

Yet it's amazing how when your hope is in the Lord, you are able to have hope for His work. I always trusted that God would be faithful to complete the work he began in S. At times I felt downright excited. Other times I prayed out of sheer obedience.

This past December when I felt S. in a downward spiral, I buckled in; prepared for turbulence. I took a deep breath and audibly said, "I know how to do this. I've been here before." I pulled out Psalm 34, my journal, and hot coffee- to pray life into my husband. I couldn't look at his face because I knew what I would see wouldn't match what I believed. This time, God gave me the prayers to pray. He gave me discernment and fight when S. had none.

In the past 6 weeks I have seen God answer years worth of prayers in my husband. I was brought to tears this week because I often wondered if my expectations were too high...and now I see that my God has a beautiful way of surpassing expectations.

S. told me a couple weeks ago, "I think one reason we can be where we are today is because we hope for each other."

It's true. I know couples who aren't compatible; who have the odds against them and circumstances that statistics say will cause them to fail... yet they persist and have rich relationships because they consistently hope for each other. They assume the best (even when it's not deserved). They fight for each other even if the other person isn't worth fighting for.
I know other couples who are compatible and look lovely. Yet, they don't hope for each other and don't fight for each other. They believe the worst and I have to assume that they don't know how to pray life into each other.

As I thought on S.'s words I realized I've always hoped for him, prayed God's best for him, and believed. Not because I believe in S., not because I am an optimistic person, but because I believe I am praying in accordance with God's will. I know that God is for S., God is for my marriage, and my family. I know that I have a faithful God and my gigantic hope in Him creates hope in all sorts of unlikely places.

Right now I have a husband who is willing to fight for me. It is life giving. In the past few years the angel of the Lord has encamped around me. God has been near to me as I've had a broken heart. Now somehow in answering my prayers for S., God has answered prayers for myself that I didn't know to pray.
S. has chosen to believe for me, pray life into me, and fight while I have nothing to give. The Lord is giving me a new kind of rest because S. is shouldering what I am shouldering, he is surrendering, and he is lifting up the things I don't have energy to offer up.

"I will bless the Lord at all times; His praise shall continually be in my mouth. My soul shall make its boast in the Lord; the humble shall hear of it and be glad. Oh, magnify the Lord with m, and let us exalt His name together." Psalm 34:1-3

Wednesday, February 17, 2010


To add another interesting twist in the Taylor story...I am sitting amidst boxes, packing tape, and sharpie markers this evening. S. is at the 48; the youth ministry here at Mount Vernon CTK, to share that he is stepping down as pastor for the time being (see below letter). He'll still be working part time there. While all of this job stuff, soul-searching stuff, family time stuff has been going on, we never have been able to sell our Lynden home. It's been vacant for a couple months and we are to the end of being able to make double payments. We decided last week that if it didn't sell by this past Monday then we would pack up and move back. Well, Monday came and went without an offer. Here we are Wednesday knee high in boxes with plans to get a truck within the next week to load up.

We aren't quite sure how long we'll be there. We aren't quite sure where our lives are headed. We aren't quite sure how to answer any practical life questions today.

We are sure that we serve a God who comes through in profound, miraculous ways for us. We are sure we love each other and are committed to our marriage and our family. We are sure that regardless of what position, town, or financial situation we find ourselves in, we can serve Christ and learn to love Him more.

In the meantime we're going to cozy up in our little old house, fling open the sliding glass door, and let our kids run free in the yard they can't wait to get back to.

To the leadership at MVCTK,

As you know, Shilo and I have been on sabbatical for the last several weeks due to anxiety, stress, and spiritual duress. A few years ago I had a severe anxiety attack as the result of years of fast paced ministry and unhealthy habits formed by my overworking, driven, undisciplined nature. For the past two years we have sought health and healing through our faith, better boundaries, counseling, and medication. In moving to Mount Vernon last summer we hoped the slower pace and new job would bring to completion the restoration we prayed and hoped for.

In October I encountered a spiritual attack that was more debilitating than I realized at the time. In one day I had calls from 3 separate people regarding being woken in the night and told to pray for this battle I was facing. Regardless, I lost fight and resolve. Over the next two months I battled isolation, apathy, depression, and anxiety. Without realizing the depths of my wounds I continued to bleed with the infection of poor choices and an unhealthy pace. Ultimately I had another severe anxiety attack in December that left me debilitated, left my wife wounded, and my family a casualty.

These past six weeks have been the most significant time in my spiritual life and in my marriage. I have rediscovered my identity in Christ. I see that pride is the root of my sin and anxiety. I know the purest calling of my life is to honor God alone. Shilo and I have found healing, restoration, and hope for the future of our marriage and family. I am learning to die to myself, to my dreams, and my own plans.

As you can guess this process has involved confusion yet clarity; excitement yet sadness; fear yet faith. Ultimately we have decided that I am unable to serve as Pastor at this time.

At this time I am stepping down from my current pastoral role at MVCTK. Matt C. will be taking my responsibilities in youth ministry along with Grace L. I will be part-time helping the staff here at MVCTK while Shilo and I seek further direction for this next season of life.

We love our Mount Vernon family and have experienced unconditional love and grace from this church family. We have been unbelievably blessed and are so proud to have MVCTK as our home. We covet your prayers and continued support as we seek the Lord’s will for our family.

Thank you,

Sean and Shilo

Monday, February 15, 2010

The best Valentine's Day

A package came in the mail a few weeks ago, for Darla and me. It was from the queen of party-throwing, my childhood friend Jayena. (She throws sophisticated, stunning, personal parties for people. I remember she had a knack for it in the 8th grade when it was about a good sized sheet cake and the cutest boys. On a slumber party scale she was always off the charts.)

Jayena heard that Darla is herself quite the party planner- so she sent a party in a box for us. We waited until Valentine's Day to pull it all out and throw the best party for our boys. Darla and I handled all the decorating while Hudson and Sean made dinner for us (Everett ran back and forth between the rooms, blanket in tow.)

It was beautiful and our kids were so proud of their contributions. Darla decided we should get "all fanced up" which meant finding her Christmas dress and looking in my closet until she found something matching (slightly embarrassing- a dress I wore to Whitworth's winter formal 11 years ago). She asked for blue eye s
hadow and perfume. Hudson put on a collared shirt and requested cologne.

So there we all sat for a dinner where the kids didn't want to escape to play immediately. They soaked it up with fairly good manners, talking like grown ups. After dinner was over we built ice cream sundaes and gave the kids a bubble bath. We ended our evening with "Berenstain Bears Valentine".

When we tucked the last little Taylor in, S. and I were grinning. Somehow even though we didn't have a quiet Valentine's (at one point Darla was taking pictures, Everett was screaming, and Hudson fell and hit his head), we didn't have a get-away Valentine (there was no escaping all of us being together!) and we didn't have a "romantic" dinner (our candle light almost gave Hudson burns when he prematurely blew them out)... we agreed that it was the best Valentine's Day we've ever spent together. We felt loved and so did our kids. Bonus: they were in bed by 7:30pm and we had the evening to ourselves after all!
This morning the kids stumbled out of bed and asked "Is Va
lentine's really over? Can we just pretend it's Valentine's Day every day?"