Thursday, April 23, 2009

Small Town, America

I've got the writing bug this morning.

All week long there have been thoughts brought to my mind regarding where we live. Living in a small town definitely has it's ups and downs. It's really easy to get caught up in the negative things about it. However, it's important for me not to forget all the things I LOVE about where I live.

For us, the hardest element that we have had to deal with is the small town politics of playing sports. Lucas has played baseball up here for eight years now. He's quite the player too. We knew he would be since he was eighteen months olds, holding that little Fisher Price chunky bat! He has had the unfortunate experience of playing for a coach (who happens to own the town grocery store) for two years that COMPLETELY favors his own twin boys on the team. This might be a little easier to accept if these boys were fabulous out there on the baseball field... but fabulous they ARE NOT! The parents aren't putting up with it this year (as they have in years past). Dads are coming forward and talking to this coach about the error of his ways... BUT... things haven't really changed, and we don't expect they will. Until Lucas goes to High School and starts playing high school ball, we will all be faced with this HUGE and FRUSTRATING small town YUCK!! Who knows... maybe God is even preparing us for the high school yuck to follow.

So, the "downs" of Small Town, America are pretty much seasonal for us. The "ups" are much more prevalent around here. I've mentioned before how beautiful it is. We are surrounded by big and mighty pines and oaks (although for me the oaks could also fall into the "downs" category... I'm miserably allergic). The sky is gorgeous! It can be the bluest of blue on a sunny day, or it can be filled with clouds of many sizes, shapes and colors on a stormy day. At night, the stars are bright and finding the constellations is easy since there are no street lights. I love to have my windows open at night and listen to the frogs and crickets. There is a peaceful stillness that takes place outside each night that lasts until after I wake up each morning.

A couple of days ago, Caleb came running in the house almost completely out of breath. He was so excited because as he was running out front with one of our dogs, our sweet 83 year old neighbor that walks EVERY day (rain, snow or shine) had invited him to go on a walk with her. The boys LOVE this lady. She is full of spirit and spunk! They love to talk to her and hear her stories. Caleb wasn't just full of excitement over going for a walk... He was elated at the fact that he was invited to spend time with her. I can say, without a doubt in my mind, that if we lived in the valley... this kind of stuff wouldn't happen. Not only are people too busy, but kids don't find the value in the simple things such as the stories of those who have gone long before us. Kids don't notice, as Luke did the other day, that the trees are extra bright green with their new leaves in the spring. They don't find extreme pleasure in hunting for bugs and looking up what kind they've found like Colby was doing just yesterday.

Small Town, America is where you can almost guarantee that you will be sitting down with another family you know to enjoy a pizza at the local pizza parlor. It's where you gather a dozen boys in your front yard to play baseball and get wet in the sprinklers on a warm April day. It's where we share each other's gardens and enjoy the refreshment of a good old fashioned lemonade stand. It's where it feels good... to the body and soul.

Despite the people who bring out the negatives... Small Town, America is home to these Four Men and a Lady.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Spring Break

WOW... What an amazing spring break we had! There's so much to tell. I guess I'll just start at the beginning.

My grandma's 80th birthday celebration started our break. I picked my sister up from the airport (a surprise for everyone) and took her to my grandparent's house. I had many cousins fly in from all over... Texas, Kansas and Washington. It was a mini-reunion and it was SO FUN! When we all gathered for the the big party on Sunday, there were probably close to 80 people there... ALL family! We hung out, caught up on lives, had cake and viewed the movie that our family had made for Grandma's birthday present. There was a whole room full of people that were laughing and crying at the same time. It was a gorgeous California day, so it became "opening day" for the pool at G-ma's house too.

After the partying, we stuck around home for a couple of days and finished construction on the chicken coop. Actually, the chicken coop soon became the chicken palace. It even has a window!! Someone PLEASE tell me why chickens need a room with a view! The boys enjoyed helping dad on this project and I'm so proud of their workmanship. They all learned a lot and as Luke says... "Now, we're officially chicken herders".

We took off for the ocean on Wednesday. Before we got to our destination spot, we parked it at AT&T Park for awhile. It was an amazingly beautiful day in the city... a great day to hang out at the gates and get players autographs as they came in for their game! The boys were filled with delight as they handed their freshly bought baseballs from the Dug Out store over to the players. What a God thing... we didn't even know there was a game that day... let alone the fact that we would happen to come across the place to stand and get autographs! Manny Parra (pitcher) from the Milwaukie Brewers even paused to play with Copper (our puppy). Of course, who could refuse those sweet eyes.

Our time at the beach was fabulous!! We hiked, we strolled, we ate, we had coffee, we slept in, and we played in the sand. It wasn't our warmest trip, but it was still perfect. I really don't think there is any such thing as a bad day at the beach. One of our favorites of the trip was going to Ano Nuevo. Ano Nuevo is a reserve area for elephant seals. We hiked three miles down to the water to stand within 20 feet of an entire pod of these creatures. It was spectacular! I was amazed as I learned all kinds of new things about these animals. It is an absolute miracle how they survive and how much they are driven by their internal body clocks. If you live anywhere in the area... I HIGHLY recommend going. You will be glad that you did!

Spring break was welcomed this year... a LOT! I was sad to see the week end, but God has blessed me with a very peaceful week this week too. I was anxious about getting back into school and having the baby back here again, but God's hand has been on us and his presence has been felt. We even finished our end of the year assessment testing today... what a load off that is... Can I get an AMEN to that?

I'm thankful for my husband, his job (that allows us such treats as going to the beach) and these three handsome men that I call "sons". They make each day new and exciting!

Saturday, April 11, 2009

My Everything

If you've never turned the volume up while reading my blog, I would invite you to do so today. This afternoon I'm busy in the kitchen baking Easter cookies for the boys to decorate. I have my music turned up loud and I'm thoroughly enjoying this beautiful April day.

Music speaks to my heart.

It speaks loud and clear.

I don't know who really reads this blog. I know some, but not all. I know where some of you stand in your faith, and then I have no idea where others stand. Today is the day before Easter. Today, as I've been listening to some very powerful music, I have come to Jesus' knees to reflect.

Jesus shed his blood for ME! He saved me from death. I don't fear death because for me, there will be none. I will die on this earth, but I will go on to live in a much better place... with Jesus.

Jesus is my rock! He is a pillar of strength that I've found comfort in during every storm I've ever encountered. I know people that weather storms of every kind that DO NOT have Jesus as their pillar of strength, and quite honestly, I don't know how they do it! He holds me strong... He holds me up when I want to do nothing but just fall down.

Jesus hears me. He is the best listening ear a person could ask for. He is my shoulder to cry on. He takes the tears that fall from my eyes and turns each one of them into hope. He gives me hope for a better tomorrow... even if it's just something as silly as feeling overwhelmed by too much testosterone around here! :0) He finds joy in listening to me sing to Him. He longs for my words of praise and adoration.

Jesus is my everything. I will dance through this life that He has so graciously gifted me with as I thank Him everyday for the gift of His love and the privilege that it is to be able to come to Him.

I pray that you... whoever you are... whether you are strong in your faith, or not... will feel the urge to today to Come To Jesus. Come to His knees and spend some time with Him. I did, and I have felt so blessed by it.

Happy Easter!

PS. The picture above is just a crazy little taste of my next post... What did WE do during spring break?