Friday, December 23, 2011

Merry Christmas!


Hard to believe we are here again... Another Christmas, another year coming to an end. Time just cruises by.

Time cruises by and boys continue growing. This year has been no exception to that rule. Rather, it has been a year of MUCH growth... In more ways than one.

Lucas started high school this last fall. Ugh... I STILL find it hard to type those words. As I do exactly that though, I hear his very deep voice resonating through the house. My little man has turned into a BIG man! He just finished his first semester and we are proud parents. He is on a block schedule, which means he takes the equivalent of a whole year's worth of each class in one semester. He came away with two A's and two B's. He has been a very diligent worker academically. He has been keeping himself busy in various sessions of baseball training with his high school team. He enjoys the challenge of working with the JV and varsity teams. We are looking forward to seeing him play ball again in the spring!

Colby is attending a private school in town. He is doing very well there, just as expected. His teacher has repeatedly told me that he is the one that keeps the entire class grounded. When everyone else gets explosively goofy, Colby steps in and gets everyone back on track. He is well respected by his classmates and his teachers. I think if I were to ask him what his favorite subject is, he would say history. He seems to enjoy it a lot. Reading is a close second, but he mostly enjoys reading what HE chooses and not what someone else chooses for him. For his birthday this year he received a Nook Book and most nights there is a dull beam of light coming from under his bedroom door after everyone else has gone to sleep. I LOVE that we share this common thread. Colby played soccer this fall and he was a star player. He scored a few goals throughout the season and had several assists. His team beat another team that had gone undefeated for two years, so that was the highlight of his season.

Caleb attends the same school as Colby. He is a big fourth grader this year and loving it! It has been the highlight of MY school year to see him enjoy school so much and thrive there too. His teacher tells me almost daily how much she adores Caleb and his helpful spirit as well as his sense of humor. His favorite subject is language arts. He LOVES to construct his monthly book reports.... That in itself is nothing less than a miracle! Caleb has never been much for reading until this year. HUGE growth there! Caleb finally talked his mom and dad into letting him play football this year. As we thought, he's in it to win it. The boy ADORES the game of football!! He can tell you about almost any play, position and NFL player. Now he's tutoring me. I have a lot to learn still. We are looking forward to many years of stadium seating in all kinds of weather. J even went out and bought luxury stadium seats for us. We are the envy of every stadium so far. You can't miss us... We're the ones with the big fire engine red sled looking things being carried on our backs!

J and I celebrated our 19th wedding anniversary this past fall. Nineteen years seems like a lifetime ago, and then it seems like yesterday. It has been a challenging year for us with a move, and then learning just a couple of months ago that we will be moving soon again. More opportunity for strengthening our relationship. More opportunity for strengthening our faith. We have seen the gifts that have come in packages big and small. We rest assured that there will be more to come... More goodness from the Father. J has been able to get out to the golf course a few times this year and I'm praying for him to MAKE the time to do that more. He has developed a friendship with a guy from church that seems to be growing in unexpected ways. They both enjoy golfing, so maybe they will hit the greens more together. I am blessed by my husband who continues to make his family priority. I am completely aware that in this age, that is a rare thing.

I am staying very busy. It's funny because when people learned that for the first time since having school aged children I was going to have my days free, they would ask me, "what will you do with all of your time?" Hmmm...

I am teaching preschool and kindergarten music classes. I am teaching enrichment classes such as music, creative writing and geography to students 1st through 8th grades. I currently have eight private students that I'm teaching at home. I also tried something I have never done before... I directed the school Christmas musical. It was a lot of work, but an experience that I wouldn't trade. It was extremely rewarding! I hope to have the opportunity to do it again. Of course, all of these things take back burner to being the wife and mom that I need to be. That is still the first place my heart is.

Growth has been a word that has repeated itself all year. There has been evidence of physical growth, developmental growth, and most of all spiritual growth. At times, it has been difficult to witness, and then at other times it has felt like a true privilege. There has been much change this year, but one thing has remained...

God hasn't changed at all. His love, HIs care and His protection over us is solid. He delights in this family the same today as He always has. He notices the growth too. He sees where our hearts are at now and where they need to be and He is faithful in getting us there. We have seen this, and we know it to be very true.

Merry Christmas to you... I pray that this season of Joy in knowing that a Savior came will be a season that lasts more than just the here and now. It should be a season of joy because of our Savior throughout the ENTIRE year!

Much love ~

Friday, December 9, 2011

Eating My Own Words

WOW... what a difference a couple of days can make!

This morning I sat sobbing in my car while on the phone with my mom. Everything that I felt and wrote here just a couple of days ago was temporarily forgotten as I let fear creep in once more. The biggest reason for my tears wasn't even the fear that I was feeling. The tears came because I was in disbelief over the fact that the "surrender" that I felt the other day, the peace? It had taken the back burner to the fear. I was disgusted with myself for letting this happen! Then, my mom reminded me that I am human. Not that that is any excuse. Someday I want to be the kind of woman that stands solidly in her faith system though. I want to be stronger... Wiser. I want to ride the wave without falling off!

We talked with our land lord last night. We will continue our search for a new rental. The word WAIT is still there... It's just not going to be here, in this house. God has a plan still. It's still His and not mine.

Would you please pray for me? Please pray that I will just find rest, and that I will hang onto the words WAIT, SURRENDER, and PEACE. I want to be in that place. I know it's where I'm supposed to be. Pray that I would not let the enemy sneak into every given opportunity and have the victory that he wants. That's what happened today. Oh how I hate giving him any victory over me!

God is still good... All the time.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Worth the Wait

Last week was a stressful one.

My hubby and I looked at no less than half a dozen houses in a matter of three days. That may not seem like a lot to some of you, but when you consider the fact that both of us had regular work days, boys to shuttle back and forth to school and after school events, meals to prepare and piles of laundry to deal with... It was overwhelming!

It was a discouraging journey too. Over half of the houses we looked at were dumps! Seriously, I don't understand how people can get away with charging ANY amount of money for something that looks rat infested and moldy. But they do, and someone out there will take them up on their offer. The other houses were nice. They were average homes. Nothing extraordinary. The rent? Well, it was more like a mortgage payment! WOW... What has happened in the past 9 months? Rentals have gone bizerkos!

During these few days as we ran around looking and quarreling about all of this, I kept hearing the word WAIT. At first I pushed this word aside. It kept crawling back into my mind, but I pushed harder. It came in the form of just a whisper in my ear. It came through phone conversations with friends. It even came in a text from a friend... In scripture. The Lord was working hard at forcing me to stop and hear the word WAIT. Finally, I listened. I told J that I would support him if he felt he needed to keep looking, but that I needed to be obedient to what God was pressing upon me and WAIT. I informed him that I needed to stop being his partner in crime cruising daily (sometimes even hourly) through the Craigslist ads, property management web site, etc.. I believed that WAITING was something that I was supposed to do. God has this in His hands.

Saturday morning J and the boys went to a men's breakfast at church. I had the house to myself for the entire morning. I did some cleaning and baking. It was a sweet time. I spent time with Jesus the whole morning! Like a brick wall, it hit me. I knew what I needed to talk to hubby about. The word WAIT came to me because I needed to surrender. I needed to surrender ALL!

Since the beginning of this, people asked if we would just stay in this house while it was on the market. My response was "NO!" with a chuckle attached. There was no way I was going to live here, clean the house everyday just in case someone came by to view it, or drop everything and leave at a moment's notice so that a realtor could bring clients by. That's a lot of work! I know this because I just did it less than a year ago! I did it for us though. I did it to sell OUR house, not someone else's. I was almost insulted when people asked me if we would do this for our land lady. After all... She pretty much stunned us with this decision to sell the house now. I admit my sinful ways... I was angry with her for many reasons. I viewed living here with all of MY decor touches as helping her, and that was NOT something I was willing to do. Period.

When J and the boys came home from the breakfast on Saturday, I pulled my hubby aside. I told him that I thought I knew now why this word WAIT became so prevalent. I took a deep breath because I knew after I said what I needed to say, there was no going back. I told him that I was ready to surrender. I was willing to stay here while the house was up for sale. I would keep the house clean. I would gather all of us and leave whenever we needed to so that a realtor could come into our home and lead strangers around our things. I told him that maybe we were supposed to WAIT here. In return for this life inconvenience, we have asked our land lord for lower rent while it's on the market. We will ask that it be a mandatory 60 day escrow to give us time to find another place to live. I believe that the Lord will provide something else for us that will be well worth this WAIT.

It's not that I don't believe that the Lord is capable of providing something worth the WAIT now. He can, and He will if that is what He wants to do. Our land lady hasn't even given us an answer yet. We don't have any plan still. However, I did what God needed me to do. I let go of anger and I surrendered completely. This is His... Not mine.

A home to live in with my family, whether here or somewhere else will be worth the WAIT. Peace in my soul today... Worth the WAIT. God is good!

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Breath Of Heaven - Amy Grant



I happened across this video this morning. This is one of my absolute FAVORITE Christmas songs! As I've grown older and been a mother for the past 14 years, I have gained a new perspective of Mary. The message of this song is so sweet... Much like a lullaby from mother to child.

I haven't seen this movie (not even sure how I missed this one), but I plan on putting it at the top of my list this season.

ENJOY!

Monday, November 21, 2011

Just Because

I know you don't read this blog often. Perhaps without intention, I leave you out of my everyday ramblings here a lot because I know that you don't read here often. Perhaps I come across as a wife who takes her husband for granted.

I do not.

I know I have a good thing here. I am absolutely confident that YOU are the GIFT god intended for me.

There is no other that I would rather be sailing these unpredictable oceans with.

There is no other hand that I would rather hold.

No other eyes that I would rather get lost in.

You are for me. This I know

.As I'm going about my day today, I just had this strong urge to put these thoughts down to words. I needed to ramble about you... The one I adore.

Just because...

Thursday, November 10, 2011

The Toy Box


Picture perfect proof that if you leave the lid open to the "toy box" long enough, and in a convenient spot... With the help of a few raindrops outside... They will come back to it. Even if they are 14, 12 and 10.

The best part is that it's been out all week... without the raindrops.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Fingerprints

The past twenty four hours have been packed with all sorts of things...

Last night I had the honor of taking Colby on a mother and son date. We went to a Steven Curtis Chapman concert. It was an incredible experience that neither of us will EVER forget!! During the evening, we smiled, we laughed, we stood arm in arm. We clapped together through some of Steven's best songs and being the Mama that I am, I shed a few tears too. Colby was star struck the minute that Scott and Kelly from K-Love radio came out to announce the performers. Josh Wilson and another artist by the name of Andrew Petersen completed the trio. Andrew is now one of my favorites. He wrote and performed a song for his wife that knocked my socks off! Such a special night for my sweet son and I.

This morning I took Luke to the orthodontist to have his braces removed. When exiting the house this morning, he was sure that he would get to the office and they would change their minds for whatever reason. He never got excited about it actually happening because he really didn't think it would. I believe the poor boy thought he would go to his grave with that metal in his mouth. He would never again taste the yummy-ness of caramel corn, never be able to stick a big ol' wad of Big League Chew in his mouth, never be able to experience a piece of hard candy without hearing the faint whisper of his orthodontist's guilt. Well... It happened! He had them removed and boy, is he ever handsome!! Not that he wasn't before, but WOW... Girls... Keep your hands off! ** Picture soon to be posted **

On several occasions this week I have been approached with compliments on my boys. Some from people I know, some from complete strangers. The comments have all had the same theme though. People say they are different. They are respectful. They open doors for the ladies, they shake hands with men. They say their pleases, their thank yous, and they are eager to help people. I always remember to thank these people for their compliments. It means so much to a mama's heart. Then, I heard this Steven Curtis Chapman song about being covered with the Fingerprints of God. What timing!

My boys are covered by the fingerprints of a God who created them, who loves them, who has designed them with their individual purposes. It is easy for others to see these fingerprints... Thus the reason for all of these compliments. Some may know whose fingerprints they are, some may not yet. My prayer will continue to be that my boys will shed light and spread these fingerprints all over this world!

To borrow a few words from Steven Curtis Chapman...

"Just look at you, you're a wonder in the making.
Oh, and God's not through... In fact, He's just
getting started."

Yes, He is boys. He's only touched the surface with those fingerprints.

You make me so proud to be your Mama!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

And Still Counting....






Sometimes we wake up in the morning and have this incredible prompting to take our family and get away for the day. We have learned to listen to that prompting, and each time we are blessed beyond measure! We almost didn't do it this time. A couple of the boys were not happy about our plan to take a drive. They were complaining about not being home much (which is true), so we almost opted for just having a stay at home day. Something inside of J and I pulled all five of us out the door though. Staying at home would mean that we would all do our individual things. Some might clean, some might play, but we wouldn't be doing much of anything TOGETHER! Togetherness is what my hubby and I knew our hearts were craving. We grabbed a few things and headed up the hill to a sweet little place called Bridgeport. I have had friends tell me about this place for years, but I didn't visit until just this past weekend. What a treat! All five of us immediately became excited at the possibilities that awaited us on the trails, down at the water, in the trees, etcetera.

It's been a long while since I have recorded any 'gifts' in my 1000 gifts journal. I put my journal down months ago, and I have foolishly let it sit there unattended for way too long! My soul was suddenly flooded with words to jot down. I saw a look in the eyes of all three of my boys that I haven't seen in awhile. They were completely at rest. Not a care in the world!! They sat by the water and carved sticks into little boats to float down the river. They attached leaves, pine needles and whatever else they could find to make their boats original from each other. They collected rocks and skipped them in the water. J and I sat and soaked it all in. Not a single moment passed us by. My senses were working over time. There were smells that took me back to childhood. There were sights and sounds that took me back to their childhoods, and there was the calm and steady touch of my husband's hand in mine as we swallowed up this perfect day.

God knew I needed a big tug to get me counting again. Counting the blessings that surround me every minute. Counting the ways in which He lavishes His love on me and on my family. Counting the many ways I adore HIM and how HE amazes me over and over again.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

In The Moment



Time keeps ticking by here. We are staying busy... But looking forward to a little reprieve come middle of November. That's when we get a short break until sports start back up again. It's when our days seem a little longer. It's also when I feel like I have a chance to just breathe in these moments... Soak them in.

Lately I have been finding myself with a smile of remembrance on my face a lot. As I walk down the aisles of Target throwing the everyday necessities in the cart, I catch out of the corner of my eye a young boy arguing with his Mama about the gobs of costumes that fill the store.

"Mama, I wanna be BATMAN, not SUPERMAN! Batman is much cooler. Can I get the Bat Belt too?"

My heart smiles. The smile even appears on my face as I hope they don't catch me staring, only to think I'm some kind of crazy kid stalker cruising through Target. A lump makes it's way to my throat and suddenly I'm biting my lip instead of smiling.

I wander down a couple more aisles while in deep thought about all the yesterdays. Another scene catches my attention.

"Johnny, would you like the rubber boots with frogs on them or the fireman rubber boots?"

Mmmm... another familiar, but somehow distant memory. I miss Batman running around my house. I miss lining up the puddle soaked rubber boots at the door TERRIBLY! These are moments I can't get back, but through the lump in my throat I am able to say that there are more to come. Different... but more. All precious. All mine to tuck away.

God, help me to breathe more. Help me to soak up EVERY moment... Even (and sometimes mostly) the busiest ones. Help me not to rush time away just so that I can get to the slower days. Every day is a gift from you. Remind me to be on my knees more praying for my boys. Continue showing me my yesterdays, but help me to remember that my todays and my tomorrows are also moments in this life. Moments spent in this "Heaven on earth."

Saturday, October 1, 2011

New News...

To read an update on L's condition go here...

PRAISE BE TO JESUS!!

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Please Pray...

There are moments in life that simply take our breath away, and I do not mean in a good way.

My lungs and heart have felt heavy for the past three days. On Sunday afternoon we learned that a classmate/friend of Lucas' suffered a major heart attack. Yes... a FOURTEEN year old boy collapsed due to a heart attack while miniature golfing. He was transported to the hospital and put into a medically induced coma. We have heard many stories... One being that his heart literally stopped beating on it's own for 30 minutes. We have prayed for this young boy and his family since Sunday.

This morning Lucas attended his first "Meet me at the pole" event. As a school, those that met at the pole prayed for this boy. After, Lucas texted me and asked me to "pray hard" for his friend because as of this moment, it "doesn't look to good."

Would you please join me in prayer for this young man and his family? I have found it hard to do much else. My mind keeps going to his parents and all they that must be going through right now. They sent their son off to have some fun with his friends on Sunday, and life has drastically changed for them since that moment he walked out the door.

Our bible study group talked about miracles last week. God is capable. If it is His will, this friend of Lucas' will be healed. I am praying for that miracle. I am praying that the parents will feel overwhelming peace and that they sense the power of God's love and God's people carrying them at this time. I do not know if they are believers, but I pray that if they are not, that all things will point to Christ and that they will come to know Him through these tragic circumstances.

Please join me in praying for this family.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Love's Dance


The music started nineteen years ago today.

He took my hand, put his arm around my waist and started this dance of life. With each step, becoming closer and closer to God's design of Man and Wife.

There have been moments of taking the floor to the swell of the music, and other moments of movements in quiet solitude. Moments of celebration, moments of disappointment and even mourning.

The music has never stopped. The rhythm has experienced changes, but the beat has not.

The music has sometimes reminded us of the fragility of life. Never knowing when that last step to the rhythm will be. Remembering to always offer each other our best.

He takes my hand still, and I embrace his. His smile continues to light my world. His voice is calm. Waking up next to his side brings me undeniable peace and contentment. He is a portrait of strength to my eyes and soul.

This dance, Love's Dance... It is a gift. God's gift to this heart of mine. God's gift to his heart too. That's why the dance is so sweet, so constant.

We hear the notes of life and we keep moving with it. My hand in his... My heart with his. The music goes on.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

12


Colby turned 12 today. One more on his way to becoming a teenager... One more working on earning his "wings".

This has been an amazing year for Colby! The Lord has proved over and over to our sweet son just how much he is treasured in His eyes. In the midst of our move, Colby just prayed for one thing... The opportunity to have his own room... FINALLY. Turns out he's been right all these years. Colby is the neat one. Caleb... Not so much. Colby keeps his room museum like. He actually asks me if he can stay up a little later so that he can vacuum before he goes to bed.

Just when we thought Colby wouldn't be able to play baseball this year due to league issues, we get a phone call from a very kind man BEGGING Colby to be on his team down here! We expected that being that Colby was a "new comer" AND a "late comer", we wouldn't get to see him play a whole lot. We couldn't have been more wrong! God showed us ALL what He is capable of and we had the privilege of watching our son play with the biggest smile we have EVER seen on his face! Then... to top it all off, the coach selected Colby as his "player of the year". What a sweet gift that was...

Colby started a new school year in a new place. He went with an anxious and excited heart. He came home on his first day with stories of a new friend made. He came home and told us about the challenges that he would face this year, but that he was ready for all of it! He continues to amaze all of us with his goal oriented mind. He sets the goal and he goes for it! He's not afraid of the steps that need to be taken to get there either. Just this week he came home with the highest grade in the class on a history test.. 105%!!! Did you see that 5 in there?? I'm a proud Mama...

I see many ways in which the Lord is strengthening Colby's heart and mind this year. I pray and I wait. I pray and I watch. It's an amazing sight! It's an honor that I never take for granted.

Colby, I will continue to pray that this year will be a year of more growth. I pray that you understand that the most important growth that takes place in a young man is the growth in his heart. Your heart has HUGE capacity! God is doing awesome things with you, my son. He will continue to deliver you from boyhood into manhood where you will set even more goals and achieve them also. You inspire me, Colby. I'm so thankful for the blessing of your life and everything you bring into this place we call home.

Happy birthday Colby!

I love you. ~

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

More New Beginnings

This week I posted what's going on over at my other blog home. If you haven't visited there yet, click here to read about more new beginnings.

Have a blessed week!

Thursday, September 8, 2011

She Looks To You

This morning I had a doctor appointment. The appointment was near where my grandmother lives, so I decided to stop by for a visit after the appointment. To my surprise, as I was driving into her driveway, my grandparents were driving out. They saw me and turned around and came back. Grandma and I sat in the kitchen and started chatting.

The conversation began with the usual small talk and then deepened as we somehow got on the subject of her own parents. I immediately discovered that I don't know much about Grandma's family. I was very close to her little brother (growing up, he was like a grandpa to me), but other than that there's not much I know about. Grandma shared with me at her kitchen table today about how much of a hard worker her mother was. She worked well into her 70's before she retired. Unbelievably so, she assembled bobby pins and hair rollers. I will never look at either of these tools the same again.

I don't typically see very many tears make their way into my grandmother's eyes. Some people in my family say it does happen, but I can say without a doubt that I have not experienced much of it. The tears that I have seen were tears brought on by laughter. Today was a much different story. Today, as she talked about her mother I saw my grandma's eyes become glassy. She spoke of a time when her mother almost died due to an intestinal infection. She told me how her mother lay in that hospital bed and swore up and down that her son was coming in the door. This was a son who was out of the country serving in the military. My grandmother kept telling her over and over again that he wasn't there. He had been called since they didn't expect her to make it, but he wasn't there yet. No sooner had she said that for the fiftieth time did she point at the doorway only for my grandmother to turn around and see that her brother was indeed standing in that doorway! As my grandma told me this story today, her smile spread clear across her face. She simply stated, "Never mess with a mother's intuition." Yes, grandma... You are right. Now there are tears rolling down my cheeks.

My grandma then went on to tell me about my grandpa's failing health. She believes he has Alzheimer's. She battles with him every day about the daily tasks around the house. What was once routine to him is now becoming foreign and yet he gets angry when she tries to help. She spoke to me with such a heavy heart today. She wants to help. Grandma has always been a helper. As she said to me today, it's not in her blood to do nothing or ignore a situation when it's staring her in the face. She is committed to her husband no matter how sick he may be. No matter what kind of disease attacks him. No matter how many times he gets angry with her over car keys, remote controls or toothbrushes. She feels helpless though. As her eyes became glassy again, she said, "I just pray every day. I pray because that's all I can do."

As I traveled back home a song came on the radio that reminded me of grandma. The song is by Selah and it's called 'I Look To You.' There are many parts in the song that don't necessarily apply to Grandma, but some of the lyrics will forever remind me of grandma after today's sweet talk in the kitchen. Part of the chorus goes like this...

I look to you, I look to you
After all my strength is gone
In you I can be strong
I look to you, I look to you
And when the melodies are gone
In you, I hear a song.

At one point in our conversation about her mother, Grandma looked at me and said, "I just don't know how she did it all."

I think I know, grandma. I never knew her, really. But, after watching you and the kind of person that you are and the ways in which you draw your strength... I have to wonder if maybe she looked to the Lord for her strength and for her song just like you do! I will join you in praying, because that's "all we can do"... At least for now. I will also pray that you will continue to find your strength and your beautiful song in the Lord. You are an amazing person.... Someone I never stop learning from. The time we had today was precious and will remain in my heart for a long time.

I love you. ~

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Beach Trip 2011


This past weekend we had the opportunity to get away and visit friends at the beach down near Santa Cruz. It was PERFECT!! When we got there, we had a nice thick layer of fog (special ordered) to cool us down from the heat we've been having at home. The next day we had sun.

We experienced a little bit of everything perfect at the ocean.

Friday, August 26, 2011

The Middle Lane

School is in full swing! Every morning I arise before the rest of the house so that I can have my own quiet time before waking up the troops. It is sacred time. By six thirty in the morning, the whole house is awake. Boys are rolling out of their beds and walking zombie like to the bathroom, hubby is dressed and standing at the coffee pot and dogs are running about waiting for their breakfast to be poured.

From this moment on, the days are lived out with structure. They seem to be lived out by the hour and minute hands on the clock. Yesterday after school I took Colby and Caleb out for frozen yogurt. Luke came home from school with a bad cold, so he opted to stay home with his box of kleenex by his side this time. As we were walking to the frozen yogurt shop, Colby asked if he could run into the pawn shop and check to see if they had any more XBox controllers. They bought their system there over the summer, but it only came with two controllers. My first response was, "Hon', no we can't today. We have to get our yogurt, go to Papa's for some football lessons, and be back home at such and such time so that your dad can take you to such and such place at such and such time." He accepted the answer and we kept walking. He didn't complain. He didn't ask questions. He just accepted it.

That's when I knew something was wrong.

We live our lives by the clock too much! We have ALL accepted it. We don't fight it. We don't argue with it. We just do it. How completely sad. Truth is, there's no better way to make time fly faster, and here I'm always griping about how time just never slows down.

I grabbed my almost 12 year old son by the shoulders and pointed him towards the store. I told him "YES... Go in, but walk in... Don't run. Take your time and make sure you don't miss anything." He smiled and he and Caleb walked into that pawn shop. They came out empty handed, but they were satisfied with the fact that they had searched.

We left the yogurt shop and headed up the street to my dad's house. He wasn't there yet, so we went to the backyard to sit in the shade on this very hot day. After about half an hour, my dad called and apologized for being late. He's NEVER late, so I knew he was probably stressed about that. I assured him that we were fine and that I was receiving the gift of sitting for the first time all day.

I had moved out of the fast lane and into the slow lane in a matter of minutes. It felt heavenly! I realized that what I was receiving was a reminder from the Lord about how He wants us to live our lives. I know all of this stuff, but somehow I got trapped in this fast lane that I have spent most of my adult life trying to avoid.

My lungs actually felt lighter this morning. I didn't have the hurried spirit in me that I have had starting at 6:30am every day. This morning as I came into contact with people, I didn't rush right past them to get to my next destination. I smiled politely and said "Good morning" to EVERYONE. It felt good. It felt right.

Life isn't about a race. It's so easy to get caught up in that way of thinking (and doing). For me, I have to deliberately focus on staying in the middle lane. If I'm in the middle lane, I'm close to either place. I can get to the fast lane if the need arises, or I can drift over into the slow lane for awhile and let others pass me by. There is a time for both. There is purpose in both.

Thank you, Lord for pointing my shoulders in the right direction. Thank you for your gentle reminders that come from my children and in a chair perfectly place in a shady backyard.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Spreading His Wings


Last night the tears fell hard, but I think that was a good thing. This morning I feel better... Clearer.

Today was the official "first day". Luke started his freshman year of high school. Like it's been pointed out to me, we didn't have a "first day of kindergarten", so today was much like that for me.... A few years late. Yesterday I was flooded with flashbacks of sitting around the dining room table with the lazy susan full of crayons, pencils, glue sticks and lined paper. I thought of the cozy mornings at home reading by the wood stove together. The memories of lunches out on the back deck or patio were fresh and seemed very new, but I knew they weren't. They are memories of a season that has passed.

Changing seasons isn't an easy thing for me. Since last winter though, the changes have been coming frequently and steadily. God has been gracious to hand them to me one at a time. I am not so blind to see that. He could have chosen to change everything all at once. He knows my limits, so He has been giving me what I can handle, one thing at a time. New home, new faces, new schools for my boys. Everything is from HIm... This I know. In that I find multitudes of comfort!

So today Luke is spreading his wings. He has his armor on and he's putting all those lessons learned at the dining room table to good use. I am still feeling just a bit teary eyed, but I know this is normal, and I will be fine. I am proud of my son. I already feel that in this new place he will grow, he will be challenged, and he will be respected and loved by many.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Turning Ten


Tomorrow morning I will wake up and my baby will be turning ten years old.

Double digits.

No more single digit children.

That's a hard idea to even try to fall asleep with tonight.

In some ways, I almost feel like Caleb should have two birthdays. The obvious one being August 15th (the day he was born into this world) and the other one being January 15th... The day he won the fight.

On January 7th, 2001 I went to my regularly scheduled OB appointment. On this day, I was supposed to hear his heartbeat for the first time. The doctor squeezed that cold jelly on my tummy and started pushing slightly, then with more force. She tried this way and that. She changed machines half way through. Then, she told me to get dressed and she would come back in. Of course I immediately knew something was wrong. When she entered the room again she sat and very sympathetically told me that it looked as if I had what is called a blighted ovum. She was unable to find a heart beat, and the embryotic sac hadn't grown at all since my previous appointment. This appointment was on a Friday and she gave me the option of having a D&C on the spot there, or waiting through the weekend to see if my body would take care of it on it's own. I asked if there were any more tests we could do. She told me to wait until the following week and if there was still no miscarriage, then she would do some blood tests to check hormone levels.

By Monday, I was still pregnant. I called and we scheduled the blood work. We had to do two separate draws with a day in between to compare the levels. It seemed like there were two WEEKS in between those draws! I still remember it like it was yesterday! Finally, on MY birthday, January 15th 2001 I received the best birthday present a woman could ever ask for. I received news that my hormone levels were still going up! I went into the docs office and she was able to find the heart beat! I was almost 10 weeks pregnant. There should have been a heart beat long before this appointment, but Caleb Ross became the miracle that many prayed for. He fought the fight and he became the warrior that he still is today. From that day on, I knew he would be different. I just didn't know in how many ways.

Caleb was by far the hardest kicker of the three. He actually bruised my tummy from the inside out! I never worried about tracking his movements because they never stopped. He kept me wondering about the little person he was becoming morning, noon and night. I prayed over that big tummy of mine waiting anxiously to meet my next little miracle. When he finally arrived, it was love at first sight. My mommy heart expanded all over again for this little tiny boy who proved miracles do happen.

Tomorrow morning Caleb turns 10. He is still the fighter he has been since that January day. He has a will like no other and I remain confident that God is going to use that will for such HUGE purpose! Caleb's smile can make a whole room of frowns turn upside down. His laughter is absolutely contagious. I simply cannot imagine our lives without him, and I STILL cringe when I think of that option I was given in that Dr.'s office on January 7th, 2001. I thank God that I was raised to have a faith that stood bigger than any human person or idea.

Happy birthday, Caleb. You might be turning ten... Double digits and all, but you will always be our "baby".

I continue to pray that the warrior side of you will be strengthened and used for the glory of God who made you, who formed you beautifully, who gave you life on the exact day... At the exact moment that He saw as perfect.

I love you. ~

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Summer Pics pt. 2




Summer's End






As I type those words up there, it just doesn't seem possible! How could we already be at the end of another summer? Didn't we just start it? Further... How could my first born be starting his first year of high school in one week?? Seriously?? People have asked him if he's nervous, and he calmly says, "No". Well, that's because his Mama is carrying all of HIS nerves in addition to my OWN!

It's been a good summer. At the beginning of the summer we made a big list of lots of things we wanted to do during these two and a half short months. We listed things such as going to Farmer's Market, fishing, being in two places at once... Even eating liver and onions for the first time (that was Caleb's idea)! We have put a check mark on almost everything. It's been a successful summer of doing a bit of everything.

This week we're school shopping, dusting off the old books, going to our last $5 movie day at the theatre and packing up for our last HURRAH camping trip with our church. This week I am enjoying my last quiet and unscheduled mornings in bed with my cup of coffee and reading materials. I will still make time for my quiet time once school starts, but it will have to be before the sun comes up!

I have chosen a few pictures that sum up our summer. If I were really good, I would figure out those flickr or piccasa collage things that people do all the time. I'm not that good... At least not for now.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Clement Richard


For the past three weeks, we have had an incredible young man from France living with us. We took him in from a summer exchange student program. When we said "yes" to the coordinator that actually came to us, we never expected to be so richly blessed by the experience. I wrote in detail about our three weeks with Clement and all the lessons learned over here...

If anyone ever comes to your door and asks if you are interested in hosting an exchange student, I wholeheartedly suggest that you say YES! The doors of your heart will be opened in ways you never thought possible.

We are so grateful for Clement. We are grateful that his parents want to share him with the world. They have so many reasons to be proud of their son!

We miss you already, our "french son". We will see you on Skype!

Kisses...

Thursday, July 28, 2011

A Calling

I won't go into detail here, because all of the details are already at your fingertips if you care to explore. I will share with you that God has laid something new upon my heart. Well, it's not really "new", but my calling to share it regularly is new. I hope that you have a moment to check out a new place where I will be recording different thoughts. This will still be "home" to family happenings and such. However, I will now be sharing about my daily walk with the Lord over at my new "home" called Passionforpraise.blogspot.com. You can get there simply by clicking on the title located on my left sidebar. I am so excited about sharing here! God has blessed me with a passion for Him, and now I feel that He is blessing me further with a passion for writing all about it!

Oh, and if you are one of those who "lurks", but prefers to remain anonymous ( I know you're out there, my blogger helps tell me so), I ESPECIALLY hope that you will follow me over there as well. Even though I don't know you, the fact that you come here to visit makes you important to me. :0)

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Vacationing 2011






This summer's vacation was ALL about the adventure! My hubby ad I set out to create a very memorable, loaded with adventure road trip for these three boys... And that's just what we did!!

We set out on the open, desolate highways of Nevada, Utah and Arizona. We saw intriguing things such as Area 51 in Nevada. I would inform you of the town in Nevada, but I'm not sure that Area 51 is part of a town. If you live in Nevada, then I'm sorry. That's all I will say about that.

Utah was a treat! We only visited the southern most part of the state, but we were pleasantly surprised by the beauty, the weather and the fact that we did find ONE Starbucks... FINALLY! My poor hubby was having some pretty serious withdrawals. We were able to experience typical summer time afternoon thunderstorms, beautiful sunshine and perfect temperatures. We visited with family and stayed at their FABULOUS lodge (a lodge that was temporary "home" to Amy Grant a couple of years ago). We fished near Brian Head Mountain and we hiked and went horseback riding through Zion National Park. We had late dinners at little hole in the wall joints in Kanab, Utah where we were entertained by their local karaoke competitors. We swam with bikers that adorned long feathered earrings and ponytails. We toured the North Rim of the Grand Canyon too.

Every night before laying our exhausted heads down J would pray. There was always thanks given for blessings received that day, but what I remember most was hearing my husband pray for the next day. He would pray for safe travels, and then he would pray specifically for the people that we would meet and talk to the next day. Every one of our days on this adventure we would have at least one long conversation with someone and learn about them. Sometimes they would be people from across the world, and sometimes they were local. The stories were always amazing! Each one of them felt like an appointment that had been made between them and us. That's just what they were.

It was such a sweet time away. God's presence was HUGE! It was noticed every day as we looked upon the beauty that He so meticulously designed in the mountains, the rocks, the rivers and lakes. It was in every conversation that took place in our car on those long, lonely roads. His presence was evident in the appointments with each stranger that we sat and chatted with, and God's presence was at it's biggest in Las Vegas where as parents, we were lead into some discussions with our boys that won't soon be forgotten. As they looked around this place called "Sin City", their hearts felt heavy with sadness. J and I just listened for awhile to everything that they were taking in. After awhile it wasn't hard to see that they didn't need us to help them form their opinion of such a place. Their opinions had already been formed, and for this we felt grateful and humbled as parents.

J drove a total of over 1800 miles in all and every mile has a story! The togetherness found in a vacation is unmatched. We have gone on weekend trips, we have done the "stay-cation". These are all fun and a blessing in their own way, but I LOVE the connection I find with my husband and each of our boys when we leave home for an extended amount of time. Mmmmmm... SO GOOD!!

God knew the desires of our hearts and He supplied even MORE than we needed. Isn't He just like that though? This family vacation will go down in history. It will be one that we will talk and laugh about for all of our lives! We set out for adventure and that's exactly what we had.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

More Than A Conqueror

How many times have I doubted? How many times have I said it?

"Oh, I'm hangin' in there."

The answer... MANY! Too many.

We had a FABULOUS, blessed vacation, and I will post about that soon with lots of pictures. First I need to jot down the thoughts that are heavy. The thoughts that have been circling around my head since Sunday's message at church.

Every day is a day designed by God. Every moment is known by Him. Sure, I make decisions. I'm not saying that I get up and turn my GodBot button on and he directs my steps and words like some kind of puppeteer. What I AM saying is that my attitude about the everyday happenings determines my very life. Not only that, it determines a lot of the lives around me because it's not hard to see that a lot of times, parents are the temperature gauges of the household. We model for our children. We model good and bad, don't we?

Do I want to spend my life simply "hanging in there"? Do I want my husband or my children to see me model for them in that way? OR... Do I want to spend my days here on this earth learning from my experiences, both good and bad? I want to model joy, in every circumstance. I want those that I love to see me with my eyes and hands lifted up... Even in the storm.

I know it's not very storm-like, but it's what's most recent and relevant. After church on Sunday we came home with a total of NINE boys! Our vehicle just kept filling up until it could be stuffed no more. We brought them home and then the big question was "What do we feed them"? Ummmm... Little Caesar's of course! It's cheap, it goes a long way, and they LOVE IT! I told J that I would go (hey, an opportunity to charge my estrogen a little before coming back to this house full of testosterone). I left the house and turned up K~LOVE. While sitting at a light not far from home, I was suddenly jolted from behind. I had been rear-ended... UGH! I was singing along with the radio, so I bit my tongue on both sides and I immediately experienced the typical effects of whiplash throughout my neck, shoulders and head. I've always thought those people who complain about pain after being rear-ended were just a bit on the wimpy side. I don't think that anymore. Anyhow, as I exited the car to talk to this woman that hit me, I didn't display very much joy at all. As a matter of fact, it was quite the opposite. I was angry. I gathered information from her and called J to come meet me with the officer. After that, I went back to my car, sat down and started to give a good pout. Why did my day have to go in THIS direction? If anyone had asked me in that moment how my day was going, I wouldn't have even said I was "Hanging in there". I would have chosen a few other words.

After I sat there sulking, I was able to come out of the fog a bit. I started to see what I had failed to see before.

It could have been so much worse. It was just a fender bender. My car was still drive-able. My body hurt, but I was able to walk and talk. I was not in need of any immediate medical attention. I would be able to drive home to my family. I had practiced what I've always been taught about space cushion, so nobody in front of me was hit. God was there. If I allowed Him, He would make me "more than a conqueror". I apologized to the woman who was waiting for everyone else to arrive at the scene. I told her I was sorry for losing my cool. Then I went back to my car and simply prayed. My eyes were on Him because I knew that I still needed to go back home to a house full of boys. I would be their temperature gauge.

After all was said and done, I headed back home (J completed the task of getting the pizzas). I walked in the door and I was immediately greeted with concerned boys. They were so sweet. They were angry that it happened too, but I had the opportunity to say this...

"Today is a perfect day to practice being more than a conqueror."

I was able to say it with a smile on my face only because it was put there by God. The army of boys settled and the rest of the day went as planned. Lots of boy fun and pizza to feed the crowd.

I became grateful for the moment.

I have continued to learn about the storms. My prayer now is that I will look like more than a conqueror FIRST when the next one comes... Whatever it may be. I have learned that if the first thing I do is look UP instead of DOWN, then the outcome will be different. The outcome will be what He has planned for me instead of what I have planned for myself.

"For if He is for me, then who can be against me?"

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Missing Them



Trying something new again...

For the first time since becoming a mom 14 years ago, I am without my crew. A little over a year ago, I left them to be a part of my best friend's wedding. Today they left me behind to attend a three day "Boy's Fest" in San Francisco.

They are catching two major league baseball games.

I am painting living room walls.

They are tailgating with the guys.

I am enjoying a quiet dinner with just my mom.

They are sleeping in sleeping bags inside a church in the city.

I am sleeping with two dogs.

They are being boys.

I am being a busy mom with a mission to check things off my list!

I am missing all of my boys tonight, but I'm so happy that J and the boys are getting this great opportunity! They are with a great group of guys (young and not AS young) that are like family to us. The memories that they are making are ones that will be legendary... I can feel it in my bones!

When they get back, we will be taking off for our summer adventure... A drive to Utah and the Grand Canyon. More legendary memories! Mmmmm... Summer is so sweet. So thankful for the gift of enjoying the season, my family and ALL that God has in mind for the five of us.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Thought for the Day

No one lights a lamp and hides it in a jar or puts it under a bed. Instead, he puts it on a stand, so that those who come in can see the light. ~ Luke 8:16

I pray that my light shines brightly today. That it is not hidden from my own home, or those outside of this home. I want my face, hands and feet to be FULL of Jesus' light so that I can share with others how GOOD He is! I pray that my husband and my three boys shine brightly too. Make us all a beam of light that can be nothing less than CONTAGIOUS!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

For Luke


It is nearly 10 o'clock on the night of your fourteenth birthday. It has been a busy day, but I cannot lay my head down for the night until I write your birthday letter. I have done this since your very first one.

It is yet another milestone year. You are not only turning fourteen, you are entering high school in just a couple of short months. It seems impossible to me! Just a few minutes ago I reminded you that on this night fourteen years ago I held within my arms a very small baby boy whose entire body was smaller than the size of your head! Now, you tower over me. You have to hunch over to hug me and when we talk, you are looking down instead of up.

Today we shared some special moments. Our talk today is one that will not ever leave me. As I spoke to you, I purposefully looked into your eyes. I wanted to see that you were taking everything in. I wanted to feel that our bond today as mother and son changed just a bit and that there was a new level of understanding between us. God directed our conversation perfectly.

Last night we went to a very simple worship service. It was extra sweet. I sat there with my three boys and I was overcome with emotion over how blessed I am once again. When it came time for us to pray with our church family you all stepped in and participated. You called out the names of our Father and spoke about who He is to you. I was so proud. When I opened my eyes, they immediately fell to these words...

' Teach me O Lord to follow your decrees, then I will keep them to the end. Give me understanding and I will keep your law and obey it with all my heart. Direct me in the path of your commands, for there I find delight; Turn my heart toward your statues and not toward selfish gain. Turn my eyes away from worthless things, preserve my life according to your word. Fulfill your promise to your servant so that you may be feared. Take away the disgrace I dread, for your laws are good. How I long for Your precepts! Preserve my life in your righteousness. ~ Psalm 119:33-40

I knew right away that this would be my prayer for you this year as you enter into a new stage of life. As you start high school and you are faced with things you've never been faced with before, I will be on my knees praying that the Lord will continue to teach you... That He will give you understanding of His laws and that you will TRULY desire to follow it with ALL of your heart. I will pray that your eyes will be turned away from selfish gain, and that they will remain focused on being missional in every area of your life. You are our gift, but more than that, you are God's gift. You are HIS! As I've said so many times before, He has such awesome plans for you, my son!!

I love you with all of my heart, Luke. A mother's heart never stops expanding with love for her children. This I know to be absolute truth. It never ceases to amaze me! As you continue to grow, mature and become a man more and more each year, it's easy to become a little sad because I'm losing my little boy. However, I was just telling a young new father yesterday... "It never stops being fun! Being a parent brings so much joy, and just when you think it couldn't get any more exciting, it does... Even when you have one about to turn fourteen."

Happy birthday Lucas Alan.

Love,

Mom

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Cherries!



In our backyard stands the most beautiful, bountiful cherry tree you have ever laid eyes on! It is picture perfect. It has never had even an ounce of pesticides applied to it's being and unless the birds suddenly realize the treasure that it is on this very night, it remains untouched. When we moved in back in April it's blossoms were amazing! I watched the fruit appear before my very eyes and I immediately started watching over it like it was my fourth child. You see... I've heard about these cherry trees. I have had friends that have never tasted a single cherry from their trees because of birds or some form of pests. From the very beginning, I have tried not to get my hopes up too much.

This week we have been picking and tasting, picking and spitting the tiny little pits. Mmmmm... And the tree is STILL loaded!! We have a ladder out there now and I'm getting my jars down soon to start on some yummy fruit preserves. Our hands (and mouths) will be busy.

This tree is one of FIVE fruit trees in our backyard! We have two peach trees and two plum trees in addition to this gorgeous cherry tree. These trees are something I became extremely excited over when finding this home. They mean more to me than just the fruit that they bear. A little over ten years ago when we moved from the valley to the hills, I had to leave two fruit trees behind. One was a peach tree and the other was an orange tree. They were both planted as memorials to our two baby boys born too early... Konner Thomas and Kyle Joshua. Leaving those trees behind was very hard! Some told me that I could try uprooting them and transplanting them into the ground up the hill. In my heart though, I knew they were happy and full of life where they were. I didn't want to risk destroying their vitality. I left them where they belonged.

Can you imagine the joy inside when a little over ten years later God gifted me with these trees? We don't live in a neighborhood where you would expect to find a mini orchard growing in the backyard! God knew though... He knew way back then... On that day when I left those trees behind, that I would be blessed with fruit trees in my own backyard again someday.

Surprises come in all shapes and sizes... God surprised me BIG with this one!

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Blessings






Craziness around here! California is definitely NOT experiencing a typical spring/early summer as far as weather goes. I know the rest of the nation is experiencing their own weather weirdness too though, so it's hard to complain too much (well, not really, but at least I know I shouldn't). I was listening to K~Love on my way home from Target this morning and a lady from Anchorage, Alaska called in saying that they are getting unbelievably warm weather right now. She was saying how UNUSUAL it is for 80 degree weather there, but they feel blessed. Sounds to me like Alaska and California somehow got their months mixed up!! I am glad that they feel blessed though.

We are experiencing other blessings not related to weather around these parts. Luke graduated from 8th grade last week. For some I know this isn't an amazing accomplishment ( E.V.P), ;0) but the way I look at it is different. We all knew academically that Luke would graduate from the 8th grade as scheduled. However, I think every parent wonders what their child will be like when they are old enough to enter high school. We have spent the past 9 years putting Luke's armor on for this next season. He will no longer be schooled at home or in the intimate setting of a home school co-op. He is entering a mid-size public high school in just a few short months. I believe with all of my heart that he is ready. He has graduated from this stage and going on to the next. His character is outstanding and I believe he will shine brightly. We are all excited about experiencing the blessing of watching him to continue to grow in his high school years!

It's been awhile since I've attached pictures, so here are a few... ENJOY! I finally bought a new camera, so I'm learning all the bells and whistles. This is going to be FUN!

Counting Blessings...

Freshly brushed Copper
Sweet Caleb's always smiling face
Watching Colby play ball like a pro
Lucas and Grandma on BBQ day
Hay bale gardening for the first time ~

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Overwhelming GodNess

Normally I am inspired with a title to my posts, and I go from there. God just puts some phrase or word containing a lot of thought on my heart and then writing about it is so simple. Today I am starting this post with a blank title.

This morning I just woke up early feeling like it had been too long since I had written. This is our busiest time of year... End of school year, baseball, swim team, baseball, vacation planning, baseball. Oh, and did I say baseball? Gathering my thoughts isn't an easy task. Simply gathering enough thought to prepare dinner at the end of the day sometimes proves itself to be quite the daunting task! Therefore, if you look back in history you will notice that this blog tends to be lacking fresh pages during the months of April~July.

Since beginning this post, there is a phrase that keeps coming to my mind... Overwhelming GodNess! See, He works like that. Yes, I know GodNess isn't a word. I think you may know where I'm going here though. It has been almost two months since we have made our move down the big hill. We are pretty settled in already. Sure there are still some things to be hung on the walls and other decorating touches that I will continue to add. I would do that anyhow, even without a move. I just like decorating. Our life down here feels good. The boys have friends that they hang with almost daily right across the street. J is MUCH happier having his daily commute cut in half. I am in seventh heaven having a grocery store right down the street. Luke is now officially enrolled in high school for the fall and Colby and Caleb are also enrolled in a private school that I'm VERY excited about being a part of next fall too. Caleb is on the local swim team (and I DO mean local... It's only 1.5 miles from the house), Colby is wrapping up his first season of playing baseball down here (He hit his first inside the park home run the other night). It feels like we've been here for years... And yet I'm not sure if the conveniences are something I'll EVER get used to! It's easy to see EVERY day all the ways in which God has showered us with goodness.

I was telling a friend recently that when we first started this process, I felt like we were about to endure great punishment for poor decisions made. In the beginning, I never felt like any reward would come out of this move. I remember calling her to tell her that we were selling our house. I cried so hard that I'm not sure she really heard my words too accurately. I did hear her though. She told me that it would be okay... That God was in this and He would see us through. She was MORE than right.

God has shown us what He is capable of. He has done so much MORE than see us through. He has carried us all the way and then He has set new purpose right before our eyes. I can't tell you how many times during the past few weeks of living in our new home... Our new community, that J and I have encountered moments where we were "Oh, okay NOW I get it... This is all yet another piece of the puzzle." God is so faithful to show us that this is NOT punishment... It IS part of His plan for us, and it HAS purpose!! I can even say now that it is His reward.

Today is another full day of baseball. I LOVE these days! Waking up with excitement over what I will witness in my boys for the day gives me the biggest rush. I always witness something... It may be a big hit, a big play or a big lesson learned, but it's always something. Today though, I feel like this day will be different. Different because I woke up with a completely overwhelming feeling of God's goodness. I woke up feeling like I'm in the middle of my own big lesson learned. I don't want the learning to ever stop either. Learning feels good. Sometimes it hurts to the point of crying so hard that you cannot possibly be understood, but even that feels good in it's own way. God has so much to teach me.

Thank you, Lord... For your overwhelming GodNess.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Seasons

There is a time for everything and a season for every activity under heaven. ~ Ecclesiastes 3:1

This morning { the morning AFTER my favorite day of the year... Mother's Day} I crawled out of bed early, came out to the couch and started my morning quiet time. I opened my bible to the book of Ecclesiastes. I have read from this book before, but this morning I read it from beginning to end. My eyes were wide open and my heart was pounding as I read the words before me. What a treasure!

I immediately knew that opening my bible to this book was no mistake. Yesterday was a good day. Caleb got up and made a pot of coffee { he never would tell me how many scoops of coffee he put in... he wanted it to be a surprise! } , Colby busied himself with making yet another beautiful card, and Lucas prepared a simple breakfast. I stayed in bed just a little longer than usual. We went to church and listened to a heart felt message from our pastor. I cried. We went to lunch, visited with my mom and came home. We tried to take a nap, but eventually got up and headed out the door again for a much needed family hike. The sun came out just in time! It was such a lovely day. Without skipping a beat though, during each part of the day I kept asking myself, "Will this ever come to an end? What will Mother's Day look like for me years down the road? Will it still be my favorite?"

After reading the scriptures I read this morning, I can say, "YES!" Mother's Day will always be my favorite. It won't always look the same. Seasons change. I am learning to accept that. Seasons change, but I will always be 'Mom'. I will always wear that name tag with such pride and joy. My heart explodes with joy over being a mom to my three boys!

My own mother has let the seasons of motherhood come in and lead her to where she needs to be. I learn from her. I hope to always learn from her. The way she mothers me now is different in many ways from the way she mothered me as a young girl. She loves me the same, but she shares it differently.

I no longer sit and swaddle my babies. Counting their toes is something not viewed in my eyes as sweet anymore { actually, pretty gross }. I DO cheer them on though. I try to never miss a baseball game, a swim meet, a debate at school or a musical performance. I am their biggest fan... for now. I know that season will change too. When it does though, I will be ready to grab onto whatever the next season of motherhood brings. It always does bring something new.

I will always claim being a mommy to be my greatest prize this side of heaven. It was a gift given to me by the one who made me... The One who knew that Mother's Day would forever be my favorite.

I love you boys...

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Bald Is Beautiful!



I cannot go to bed this night without posting what is so heavy on my heart.

Tonight we attended a benefit event for a sweet family that we have known for many years. Their ten year old daughter was recently diagnosed with Lymphoma. She is in the middle of the biggest battle of her life right now, and she fights with such grace and HUGE faith!

I can't think of Emma Kait without visualizing the first time I met her. Our Caleb was just an infant and he was being fussy in church. We were visiting a new church too. So, I did what many other mommies do with fussy babies and I exited the sanctuary and made my way to the foyer. Emma's mommy, Rebecca was holding sweet little 1 year old Emma on her hip out in the foyer for the same reason. We made our way to the nursing mother's room to feed our hungry babies. We talked about all the things that two new mother's talk about and I knew instantly that we would be good friends. Never in a million years did I imagine that 9 years later we would be attending an event to help support their family through a journey infested with this horrible disease called cancer. My heart sinks with every thought of it!

Tonight we brought home two bald boys. Colby and Caleb both supported Emma by having people sponsor them to have their heads shaved. As we drove home I kept glancing back at their clean shaven heads. I did a lot of praying too. Thank you God, that they have hearts to serve others. Thank you God, that we can be a support to these friends who love their daughter no less than we love these boys of ours. Thank you God, that these boys of ours are healthy... For them being bald was a choice they made, not a necessary cold, hard reality. Saying this last prayer was almost difficult. I almost have a sense of feeling guilty. Why did this disease attack Emma? Why has it attacked so many young children that we have known over the past 5 or so years? Why?

As it's been said many times, there are some things we will never have answers to this side of heaven. This is one of those things. I do know this...

Emma has a story to share. She's already sharing it. I can't tell you how many people I have talked to and mentioned her name only to be surprised to hear, "Oh, I've heard about her. What a brave little girl! Her faith speaks volumes to my heart!" These are strangers to Emma. Her story has a face. Her face has a story. There are miracles happening, both physical and spiritual. God knew that Emma and her family would be instruments of His un-dying love and faithfulness. He knew that a whole community of people would be there to hold them up when they needed it, loving them, caring for them, supporting them even with dozens upon dozens of bald heads!

I put my boys to bed tonight with extra hugs and kisses. Their sweet little heads are reminders of their even sweeter hearts. We will continue to lift up and support Emma and her family, Jon, Rebecca, Joseph and Ben. Please remember to pray with us for them. I have learned that even complete strangers can have HUGE impact on people's hearts.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Pierced

Who has believed our message and to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?
He grew up before him like a tender shoot, and like a root out of dry ground.
He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him, nothing in his appearance that we should desire him.
He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering.
Like one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not.

Surely he took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows, yet we considered him stricken by God, smitten by him, and afflicted.
But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed. ~ Isaiah 53:1~5

He was pierced for me. Not a pretty, glamorous piercing either. It was an ugly, raw and horrid piercing. A piercing that pierces my heart to it's inner most being. It stings as I remember the scenes from a movie that so accurately put a picture to the words that I have been hearing about and reading since I was not even old enough to really understand the significance completely. The blood, the spit, the cries of both laughter and tears... The images will stay with me forever, and for that I am glad.

I understand what He did for me. I am overcome with emotion over what He did for me. Jesus Christ saved me... He wants to save ALL! He continues to carry the cross... In order to save.

There is such ugliness all around, isn't there? The spit, the blood, the cries of both laughter and tears. Jesus sees all of this still. He wants to turn this ugliness into beauty. He wants hearts. The love that He offers is so different from any other love. His love is so great... so sacrificial. What he did for me... for us... no other would even fathom, and yet, I know He would do it all again.

I am humbled again, Jesus. My eyes are wide open and my heart feels the sting of your piercing. I am joyful over the victory that you are alive still and that I will see you with my own eyes someday.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

The Things They Say!

Once in awhile I like to record some of the conversations I hear around here. Tonight is a perfect time to do just that...

Just three days from Good Friday, Caleb announces tonight that for Lent he is giving up his favorite spot in front of the television! Now, to some this may not be a big deal, but to Caleb.... BIG DEAL! He fights with his brothers over that spot almost daily. I'm sure that it is no accident that he didn't make this announcement a lot earlier... Like back when Lent began.

We saw 'Soul Surfer' this afternoon... GREAT movie!! As we were having dinner, J asked what everyone's favorite parts were. After Caleb and Colby both shared their favorite parts, Luke just simply stated, "AnnaSophia Robb". SHE was Luke's favorite part. Ummm, yeah... He's almost 14 folks!! His hormones have officially arrived.

Life is so fun with all of these men. The giggle in my gut is pretty much non~stop!

Monday, April 11, 2011

Still Here

I'm still here. My internet is not... But I am.

Today I sit inside a cozy Starbucks sipping coffee, checking e~mail, jotting down bits and pieces. The boys are doing their STAR testing today. This moment is the FIRST moment I have had in about three weeks to just sit, relax and reflect.... Mmmmm... It feels heavenly!

So much to be thankful for. My heart overflows. God has provided in ways that I never expected. My family has been blessed beyond measure! I have recorded these in my '1000 Gifts' journal, but there are so many that are so worthy of being shared! I share not because I want to gloat, I share because God is good.

1. Numerous friends and family members helped with the big move day! There were lots of muscles and able bodies and the job was completed without major disaster and in a very timely manner.

2. My mom came and put my ENTIRE kitchen together! We had baseball games to be at the day after move day, and a house up the hill that needed cleaning. It's impossible to be in more than one place at a time, and mom knew how much it would mean to me to have just that one place in my new home put away. Thank you, Mom.

3. Dinner was brought to us the night that we moved in by my Step~Mom. She brought two lasagnas, green veggies, a gallon of milk and a big chocolate birthday cake for J. She didn't even know that I had prayed specifically that I would somehow figure out a way to sneak out and buy a birthday cake for J since I wouldn't be able to bake one this year. What a gift! Thank you, Roberta!

4. My sweet BFF, Gina made yummy scones for breakfast the morning that I had to be back up the hill for school for the boys and more clean up at the old house. She not only made me breakfast, but she sent me out the door with a delicious salad for lunch! I felt more than loved... Gi... You are the BESTEST!! :0)

5. We found out that Colby got on a baseball team close to our new home. It didn't look good for him this year. The team that he was "supposed" to be on fell apart at the last minute. He was a VERY disappointed boy!! God showed him His goodness though. He ended up on a team full of sweet young boys and FOUR awesome coaches. We know that at least one of them is a Godly example of man, husband and father too. He happens to be the husband of Caleb's fourth grade teacher (next year). It turns out that THIS team is the team that Colby was "supposed" to be a part of this year.

6. At our first youth meeting at our new house yesterday, there were many new faces. J and I have been praying for a LONG time that this new house would just be one that would bless others. We will continue to make this our prayer. Seeing these new faces yesterday (faces that we've been praying specifically for) was even more confirmation.

These are just a few. I think I added another 200 to my journal during the past couple or weeks! I wake up each morning full of excitement over the gifts that will be witnessed for the day. Some of the best ones are ones that I witness others receiving.

The gift hunt continues...

Monday, March 28, 2011

My eyes on His

~ I will instruct thee and teach thee in the way which thou shalt go: I will guide thee with mine eye. ~ Psalm 32:8

There are a million other things that I could/should be doing right now, but I feel like I need to record what's been on my heart these past few days. This is a place for me to journal our lives, so I must stop for a few to place into words where things are at these final days of our "Big woods days".

My body couldn't have chosen a worse time to come down with the WORST sickness EVER in my adult life. I am now on my second course of antibiotics. The weather has been completely AWFUL!! Pouring rain has turned to huge snowflakes at the drop of a hat almost on an every other day basis the past couple of weeks. Our ability to take loads to the new house hasn't been an ability at all because of this crazy weather! The power has gone out COUNTLESS times, leaving me to sort and pack in the dark. All in all, I feel like there has been a force working against me.... BUT... a Force bigger than that has kept my eyes looking upward. Sure, at times I have fallen to my knees (or crawled under my covers) and had a good cry. Usually, it was because I was feeling sorry for myself being stuck doing all of this while feeling so physically BADLY. Sometimes I would shed a few tears because I miss my mom and wish that she were here to help with this mess (she's in Florida). It's our mess though... not hers. I have been able to gain perspective too... That this mess IS a beautiful mess. It's a mess that God orchestrated and He continues to do so. He has turned my chin up when the temptation has been to hang my head very low. He gifted me the other day with this scripture, and then with this song ( not a coincidence that it was on the same day ). He directed my eyes on His eyes and the clarity is AMAZING!!

We have four more days up here, and again, it's no coincidence that the weather forecast for the week is SUN, SUN, and more SUN!! It will be a beautiful week. My Jesus is so good to me. As this songs says, He wants me to "Come Away" with Him.... I am His Beloved.

I will rest in You, Jesus... With my eyes fixed on Yours.

Friday, March 18, 2011

I Am Gifted!

I remember being in junior high school and hearing about the G.A.T.E. program. It stood for "gifted and talented". It used to bother me, and not for reasons that you might suspicion. I wasn't envious of those who were in the program. It's true, I wasn't in the program. I was never asked to be... BUT... I wouldn't have accepted an invitation either.

The reason it bothered me was because even at the age of 12 I knew that EVERYONE has gifts and EVERYONE has talents. Having this "club" of sorts implied that any one not in the program wasn't gifted or talented. Or maybe they were, but not as much as the ones in the program.

As I've been reading, journaling and talking about this book 'One Thousand Gifts', the word "gift" has been ever present in my brain. I haven't just been thinking on what things gift me, but what are the ways I can gift others? What things can I do to make my husband, my children, my parents, my siblings, my friends feel like THEY have received a gift?

This week I have been sick with the flu. It is the worst flu that I have experienced in years! I'm sure there is a medical name for it, but I'm calling it the "One two PUNCH" bug! It comes, it acts like it's gone, then it attacks you again... HARD! I have been completely helpless. My children and even my husband have had this same bug, but I haven't been able to take care of them because I have been too sick with fever myself. We have all been doing our best to just take care of ourselves. In the midst of that though... There have been some who have done a beautiful job of gifting. These people may or may not have been in the program in junior high school. Regardless... They are gifted.

~ A friend offered to drive me to the doctor.

~ A friend brought a big pot of chicken soup over for dinner. This was so much bigger than she even knew because as I have been lying in bed, I have prayed over and over that I would just feel well enough to make some chicken soup for my family.

~ A friend sent an amazing note of encouragement. This friend is more a sister. She knows my heart, and she knew what my heart needed to hear.

~ My sister offered to drive almost an hour up here just to bring us more kleenex so that our noses wouldn't get too chapped from having to use tissue paper since we ran out of kleenex.

~ My hubby managed to keep the kitchen under control even though he was sick too. He recovered from his fever before me and he knew that keeping the kitchen up was important to me.

~ A friend offered to make a grocery trip for us.

We are all gifted. The question is, do we all take the time to use our gifts? There were many people in my life this week that showed me and taught me a lot about how to use the gifts that God has given me. They were the face, hands and feet of Jesus, and isn't that the point in using our gifts? It feels good to gift others and to receive gifts, but ultimately...

Gifting others should always resemble Jesus... not ourselves.