Saturday, August 3, 2013

Where have I been all summer?

Well, I have a friend who read through all my blog posts and remarked to me that most of them start with, "It's been forever since I have posted..."

Truth.

So, where have I been all summer?


Scheduling fourth grade and first grade homeschool for the 2013-2014 school year...

Baking cookies from a giant tub of cookie dough (Thank you, Sam's Club!)...


Riding bikes to the park...


Building legos at the Library...


Suffering through Experiencing craft time at the library...


Having lunch and pool time with cousins on Wednesdays...


Prairie Farms 75th anniversary - free dairy products and cake - score!


Helping Judah become a yellow belt...


Reading a book Watching Jazz during swimming lessons...


Traveling to Hillbilly Vegas, otherwise known as Branson, MO...


Life group get-togethers, including a trip to the drive-in...


Using up the attraction passes from our zoo membership that's about to expire...


Teen Beach Movie premier party - yep, we really did that...


Going to a couple of Cardinals' games...


And I wonder why the summer has gone by so quickly! :-) Sorry I haven't had time to write!

Friday, June 7, 2013

Tough Week

This week has been filled with heaviness of heart. There were four children in our area who died, one of whom we know the extended family well, and one of whom was a part of our church. My heart just aches for these families and I never know what to say. I can't possibly understand what they are going through. I keep thinking of things that they will have to face in the coming days and years, and tears well up again.

On Thursday, Mike and I got to be a part of Joshua Brown's funeral celebration service, and it was amazing. His special verse was Joshua 3:5

"Joshua told the people, “Consecrate yourselves, for tomorrow the Lord will do amazing things among you.” (NIV)

Even with only 9 nine years on this earth, God did amazing things through Joshua. As an infant, doctors found a brain tumor that affected many areas of his life. Last year, Joshua's family and friends were devastated to hear that the cancer was back. He fought hard against the growing tumors, and was always smiling and fun to converse with. Through a special program, he got to be an honorary coach with the SLU basketball team.

Joshua left a trail of influence that ranged from ESPN to local college sports to schools to motorcycle groups to churches and beyond. The church as full of those who loved and missed him on Thursday, and the celebration service was the coolest one I have ever attended. I mean, how many funerals have you been to that start with a live band playing the Phineas and Ferb theme song and end with everyone getting a pack of M&M's to take to the graveside ceremony?

It was uplifting, encouraging, and challenging to the see the lives Joshua touched in so short a time. I am left wondering if I am making anywhere near the impact of this slightly shy redhead.

Joshua came to every kids' choir practice. He sang all the songs at home. But, when it came time for the performance, he wouldn't step foot on the stage. His mom mentioned one time that he had stumbled on the stairs once because of balance issues, and she thought that might be why he wouldn't go up. Instead, he sat by me on the front row as the junior kids' choir director.

During the celebration service, Pastor Hal mentioned that Joshua never did anything half way. When he got involved with the SLU team, he became a coach. As a part of the kids' choir, he was a director. Now in heaven, I imagine he is not doing anything halfway. He can run, jump, dance, sing, and worship his heart out with no fear of balance issues or imperfect coordination or feeling sick. He is absolutely perfect.

God, help me to live life with the courage, strength, optimism, joy, and wholehearted abandon. Let me be a little more like Joshua today.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

New Things



Yesterday was another painting day! This time I emptied (almost!) my bedroom to give it the first new paint job since we moved here over 8 years ago. I can't believe I waited that long. We traded our tan and brown walls for North Island (gray) and I deep cleaned everything. It was hard work, and I still have to go through everything we had in our room to declutter and get the necessities put back. The weather was so nice yesterday, so I was able to leave the windows open in the house to help with the paint smell. Last night, I managed to get the bed put back together and made up with freshly cleaned bedding and the pictures on the walls.



Even though nothing but the paint color and absence of dust bunnies is changing, it still feels like a brand new room. Pleased (and pretty tired!), we closed up the house, turned on the air conditioner, and went to sleep in our "new" room last night. In the early hours of the morning, I woke up with a dire need for ibuprofen.

It occurred to me that often times new and exciting changes can be accompanied by massive headaches and lots of hard work. Often, the best things in life are not the easiest.

Lately, I have a lot of friends who are experiencing a new season in their lives. I have friends who have new babies, houses, jobs, churches, cities, promotions, spouses, opportunities, and seasons of life.

Isaiah 42:9 says,
“Behold, the former things have come to pass,
Now I declare new things;
Before they spring forth I proclaim them to you.”

Sometimes God does new things in our lives. We might be excited and jubilant, but once we step into them, we may find that they are accompanied by challenges, headaches, or obstacles that require hard work. Babies are accompanied by interrupted sleep, spit up, dirty diapers and more, but the snuggles, smiles, kisses, and tiny toes make all the unpleasant work more than worth it. Moving to a new home is a huge undertaking, but settling in the new place God gives you is a delight. New surroundings help give us a fresh perspective.

The word "new" is filled with optimism and hope. I'm so grateful to God for even the small "new things" He is doing that help to bring a renewed vigor for life and a sense the the hard work and headaches are worth the result.

Friday, May 31, 2013

In the Silence...

Tonight was the night of the second Miracle Service with Ben and Laura Ratchford, and Laura took this picture of me (which I really like - thanks, sis!)



It was awesome! During the evening, tornado sirens went off and we could hear the storms passing over the building. At one specific moment in the service, everyone in the room was silent. As Ben said, "God wanted to do something in the quiet."

At that exact moment, I could hear the wind roar and the rain travel across the roof. I was overwhelmed by the greatness of God. His might and power is utterly amazing, but even more amazing is the fact that this all-powerful creator of the wind and the rain loves me personally and intimately. He calls me by name and desires my company.

During the quiet, it is simpler to hear the whisper of God. When we get the noise out of our environment, it is so much easier to discern between my wants and the ways of the Lord. This quiet moment in the service provided a unique opportunity for everyone in the room to hear the whisper of God to them specifically. Even just thinking about that overwhelms me. Our God can communicate specifically and individually to that many people at once, and each person's experience can be unbelievably life-transforming.

We serve an amazing God, and I am making a point to dwell in quiet to hear His thoughts to me.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Piano Practice Debacle

I was looking through the pictures of our trip to Indianapolis, and I ran across this picture of the little man.



He had spent some birthday money on a souvenir of hot wheels cars from the Indianapolis Children's Museum and was looking over them. My attention was drawn to Judah's hands. They are in a beautiful piano-playing position even though he is playing with cars.

Judah takes piano from Grandma, and yesterday he had a phenomenal piano lesson. I'm talking one where she used phrases like "He learned this quicker than any student I have ever had!" and "He was perfect!" This was after a week where I had to prompt him to practice, but he did it willingly and completely on his own.

[Change scene}

Today, I told Judah to practice the piano. This simple directive was met with the modern day equivalent of wailing and gnashing of teeth. I finally got him sniffling to the piano bench. He played two chords and dissolved into tears again, complaining that he "can't play it." Bear in mind that he was still on the portion of the song that was phenomal and perfect yesterday. Yes...ter...day. Seriously?????

He's crying. I'm frustrated.

Then, he drops the "I'm just gonna quit piano!"

To which I reply, like the fantastic mom I am, "Oh, heck no, you are absolutely NOT allowed to quit!" (Probably not the best way to handle the situation since he started sobbing and saying that he is stupid. Great.)

I finally clued in that this is not really about piano, but that Judah was emotional for some other reason. He was so overwhelmed for some reason today, and practicing piano was the last straw.

After a little cuddle time, we eventually finished the piano practice session with only a few more tears, but it got me thinking about what makes us want to give up, even after success and encouragement. My emotions can run wild. My thought life can totally mislead me, especially if I don't grab hold of the thoughts that don't line up with the word of God right away.

"We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ" --2 Corinthians 10:5

I have to take captive my thoughts and put them in correct eternal perspective. To keep running the race with endurance, I have to be vigilant within myself. I can feel ready to quit and overwhelmed at a moment's notice, by courting the wrong thoughts, inviting them in, and sitting down to dinner with them. However, if I 'nip them in the bud' as my grandma would say and replace them with God's word and his thoughts.

When Judah said he was stupid, I told him he was smart. I wish with everything in me that I had told him this...

"Before you were even born, God designed you while you were still inside my tummy. He has had you planned to be the person that you are for all eternity. He does not, and will not, EVER make mistakes. You can do all things through Christ who strengthens you. The God who shaped the world is supporting, upholding, and lifting you up. You are not stupid, because God didn't make you that way. Making a mistake or a wrong decision does not change who you are created to be. You are wonderfully made, and I am so proud to be your mom."

I'm gonna remedy that, getting my speech ready for right before bedtime. Wish me luck!

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Painting Prisoner

Yesterday I spent the entire day on a project - and I do mean the ENTIRE day. I now want to give a BIG shout-out to all professional painters. I have concluded that I never want to join your ranks. Translation: soooooo sore today.

I spent all of yesterday emptying the dining room of everything, painting the ceiling, painting the walls, cleaning wood work/floor/chandelier, and then cleaning furniture and placing it back in the room.

I spent most of today sorting through all the junk that had accumulated in said furniture and only putting back what really needed to be there.

Here is what the kids did yesterday:



Yep. Judah stayed still enough for Jasmine to take him captive with painter's tape.

I repeat: He LET her wrap him up until he could barely move.

Then, Mike called from the other room for them to come to him (not knowing what was going on the other room when he arrived home). Jasmine came right away and Judah started hopping down the hall, while yelling, "I'm on my way, but I'm moving really slow - you'll see why in a minute."

We were cracking up laughing as soon as we saw him, but today I was thinking about it. That verse in Hebrews 12 came to mind.

"Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us" -- Hebrews 12:1

Sometimes the sin that entangles us is sin that we stand still for or even actively pursue. We may become blind to our own sins or comfortable in them. We may disregard the consequences, or not realize how it is affecting our lives.

We become so entangled that it is difficult to move forward in our Christian walk. We get bogged down and can't walk, much less run, the race.

We need the tape removed, and to be freed from the sin that entangles us in order to live life to the fullest.

So, today, freed from his bonds of captivity -- this is what Judah did with Jasmine today while I worked on the stuff from the dining room.



Looks like much more fun, right?! Life lived freely in God's plan is so much more fulfilling and richer.


On a side note, I stirred up so much dust cleaning out the dining room, that I was compelled to check out a book from the library called The House that Cleans Itself by Mindy Starns Clark. I'll keep you posted on how I'm doing training my house to clean. :-)

Monday, May 27, 2013

Remember

The things that will destroy America are prosperity-at-any-price, peace-at-any-price, safety-first instead of duty-first, the love of soft living, and the get-rich-quick theory of life.

Theodore Roosevelt


Today is Memorial Day, and when I saw this quote, I was struck anew with gratitude for those men and women who forego careers which will earn the most money, embrace moving often/leaving loved ones, feel a sense of duty to country more than to self-preservation, fight unpopular wars as well as those that are in favor with the masses, and live a life of service to ensure the freedoms of those they may neither agree with nor even like very much.

Our soldiers have endured hardships in training, active duty, and post war situations. Families of our service members have made enormous sacrifices, even the life of a valued and irreplaceable member of their family. Sometimes, they may not even understand the necessity or reason behind the orders they are given. They may not agree with the actions of the citizens, leaders, or even President they are representing and protecting. Yet, they set aside personal feelings and opinions in service to our nation. That act of selflessness is worthy of our admiration, respect, and gratitude.

A deep, heartfelt gratitude to all the soldier who have served and continue to serve our nation, as well as the families of those who have laid down their lives for the freedom and protection of others.

On this Memorial Day, we remember.

The hubby and me

The hubby and me